Sunday, 30 December 2007

A very busy week

of travel means I have socks! The first socks are made from KnitPicks Palette in Marine Blue. This all wool yarn was really nice to work with. The price is the thing though. $1.99 (plus a very small shipping fee for my large order) and this pair of shortie socks used just a bit more than one ball of yarn for my pudgy toes. I will get a second set from the remainder of the yarn if I work the toes up in some leftover cream or white wool. So two pair of socks for under 5 bucks. Not too shabby and feels very good on my feet to boot. This second pair isn't finished. Its one of the two skeins of Lucy Neatby 'Cats Pajamas' colourways I received for Christmas. The yellow seems a bit stronger at the top of the completed sock, and the toe is looking quite yellow on the second sock while the yarn left on the ball is getting more and more blue. I should probably start from the other end of the ball for this second sock. A good knitter would. Me? I'll think about it.

Besides these projects, I worked up the smallest bag from 'Trendsetting Totes' in some basic kitchen cotton. I was thinking this might make a good bag for carrying a small project along to work while walking. I'd like to give that a try when I am walking outside next summer. It will be just right for those times when carrying my beer bag is not socially acceptable.

This bag is going to get a bit of blue cotton lining from the fabric stockpile (volume way, way, way beyond stash), and I already see myself making more. Patons Brilliant and some wonderful blue satin lining that simply demands the fine sparkle of that yarn to reach perfection. Its a nice quick project to work up, and would make a great bag for gift giving for next year.

Not that I am thinking that far ahead.

Along with this success, I faced the music. I ripped the shawl back to the point where my counting mistake was made. The mistake was way back. About 2/3 of the way back. I decided that since 'it' hated me, I might as well start over.

I worried about having too little yarn way back when, so I alternated rows of green and the Anne colourway. Then I realized I really only wanted a small shawl to wear in my chilly office, so I took out the green and worked with just the Anne. While ripping back today, I realized that I no longer had to make it small for a chilly office (since that office is getting a new inmate), so I decided to go full bore and work the green back in. I'm playing with increases and decreases, and I hope it works out because if it does, its is going to look really really sharp. No pictures just yet, but maybe at days end tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be the D Day of knitting this shawl. I will succeed wonderfully, or I will fail utterly and will lose the war with this Anne yarn. How many times can a yarn be knit before you just have to put it away? I know in my heart of hearts I will not give up. This classy earthy colourway wants to be a shawl, even if it kills me to do it.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Ahhh, that's better

Friday was the last non rushed day till yesterday, Christmas Day. Saturday was all about getting the gifts ready packed, wrapped, and ummm... finished. Yes, I still had a ton of knitting to do on Saturday. Gift Knitting was fun, but exhausting. Saturday, I was still inventing something for Son 3, for whom I have never knit anything. His lovely wife is an animal lover so I have been searching out good non animal fibre sock yarn. I've been checking out the blogs and finally found some but not in time for the holidays.
Thus, the TV sock came into being. All acrylic, more of a slipper than a sock, these slightly large, blue shortie socks came into being. He'll get his cotton socks as soon as the yarn arrives in the New Year.

And then final shots of a few gift items. The in laws gifts, and mom's scarf. Dad, sorry, but yours are still most determinedly in skein phase yet. I'll work on those this week.

And then, I have been given a wealth of gifts for Christmas, shown here piled all together, and still to arrive in the mail just into the New Year. Mr. Needles gave me some books - he let me chose which, from Needle Arts Book Shop. From son 1 and girlfriend, I got these. Drops Alpaca, in a soft white, and a wonderful blue. First thing I thought of was the Arctic Lace book from Mostlylurking. There is a head cover that this alpaca would look lovely done up in. Or a mobeius scarf. Wouldn't that look great in something lacy soft in this?

From Son 2, these wonderfully brilliant Lucy Neatby Yarns. These are going to make me wild socks. Absolutely wild colours, and you know, my life is ready for some wild. Sock wild has to be the best kind of wild. Small, almost hidden but there it is, showing off anyhow, if only people choose to see. I can't wait.

And from Son3 and wife a whole basket of treats. Yarn, booklets, Dolly mamas all beautifully put together, in that gorgeous basket, so well wrapped that even though it was some of that clear basket wrap, I could not see what the heck was in there (Trust me I tried. On the sly. When no one was looking) But, oh when I opened it, I felt rich. I immediately pulled out the Dolly Mama. I love these. And the one they choose, well, I'm still giggling over. It says 'I used up all my sick days, so I'm calling in dead' (the Dolly Mama site is really interesting!).

There was a booklet, Trendsetting Totes. How did you know I needed the bag book? I really do. I'm at the beer bag limit. I need something with divided sections so things don't get tangled up, and these patterns for crocheted bags are so right on target. I probably looked distracted and I don't know if you understood but I wasn't there in the room anymore.

I was making bags of the tweedy yarn, and the black and red yarn. I could see that in a couple of the bags from the book and my mind was already designing the insides, and figuring the beads. The tweedy yarn is going to make a wonderful small tote (the blue bag on the cover)... and that black and red? One of the bags shown in black on the cover with the lines of beads, I think. Or maybe the one shown in purple with the flap, or the yellow one. Too early to really decide for sure. I'll make the tweedy bag, and see how that size finishes up and then I'll know which pattern will be the size I'm looking for. Or maybe... well I'll leave that for another day.

And linings. Just think of the possibilities these colours give me for linings!!

My kids, if you doubt how much I love these gifts, know this. I wasn't really there. Ask me what I remember of your gifts to each other. Ask me how I almost missed that Son3s gift was still under the tree, and how you had to pull me back to figure out what I had wrapped up for him. I wasn't there in that room at all. I was dreaming. Yarn is dreams and possibilities, from the simple acrylic in its steadfast and solid self, to the finest Alpaca lace weight, and all the things in between. They have a place and a home here in my little corner of the world.

The gift you really gave, each and every one of you, was dreams. The gift was imagination. The gift is permission to waste my time wisely.

There are no better gifts than that.

And now, the Needles' are off to points far away to visit parents. We are abadoning Son1 to live off of cold turkey leftovers and candy, while we laugh and talk and work with some of the many others so very important to us.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Friday rushy rushy

I can be laid back this afternoon. Right now I will be very, very busy. Fridays before a holiday are always loose ends day.

Which is really neat because tonite might very well be loose ends night with all the projects. Some are already wending on their way as presents, one has already been given, and loved.

SS loved the Soft green of the Misti Alpaca, and the warmers and Calorimetry were perfect fits. I really enjoy when people like the things I make them. I take as much pleasure in their enjoyment as I do in the making.

Anyway, I'll probably have some pictures on the morrow, after the loose ends are worked, and I do have about another 10 inches or so to do on the scarf, and then there is a pair of socks. Its all very do-able...

if only I don't clean my house. Our worst was the year we were still painting on Christmas Eve. We already set a low standard and a tradition, so this year will be just part of the routine Holdiay spirit! What the heck, who says you can't do Christmas in a messy house?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Knit, knit

Knit, knit, knit. Sleep, work, knit.

This is what is going on at my house. Just another evening on the cashmere scarf, and then I have to decide about socks. One more pair of socks.

I will have a lot of cashmere left. The scarf is only a shortie, the kind of thing you wear under your coat to keep the chill off your neck. The giftee is, I believe a tucker. A good thing too. I'm thinking of making some gloves with what is left. But no way will those be done for Christmas.

I have one pattern at home for gloves in a copy of Interweave Knits, but they are made of cotton. I'll have to search the net for some freebie glove patterns.

I only discovered knitting on the Internet in spring, so I am at least 10,000 light years behind everyone else. The good free pattern sites that I know of so far are:

Crochet Pattern Central

Knitting Pattern Central


Crochet Me (of course Gina, what was I thinking)

Knitting Wisdom (Thanks mostlylurking, it looks very interesting)

If you know of more, let me know, but free sites like these, which either have, or link to free patterns are one of the nicest things I've discovered in my journey to knitting.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Feeling Christmas

Our gift list is small. Long ago my brothers and sisters and I stopped gift giving between our kids. There are just too many of them, and its not always possible to get them all together on the same day. There is our charitable giving, and there are gifts for our parents and our kids, but not too much else beyond that. If you don't have a lot of shopping to do, it's easy to start seeing all that shopping in a very different light.

Giving gifts during this season has roots in the giving of St. Nicholas. His legacy, be it real or mythical was that he gave. Period. Somewhere along the way we lost that part.

Too often we give because we should. We fall into the 'what would people think' trap. We give because we are pretty sure others will give us a gift and it feels wrong to receive without giving in return. We want to give, we enjoy giving, but we worry is it going to be all right, are they going to like it. We ask for a list of things they might like, but pretty soon, the list starts feeling like demands, and unrealistic ones at that. Those kinds of feelings mean that our Christmases are tarnished, and we feel a lot more like Scrooge than we ought.

Ever feel that the most precious gift was not what you received, but what you gave to someone else? I had that chance this year.

I have a group of imaginary friends over at the Achenblog. Its a group of people who read the writer, Joel Achenbach's Washington Post blog pretty much daily. On most blogs there is the writer and the reader. Seldom do readers connect in significant ways, through comments. Achenblog, from its inception was different. The writer graciously accepted the commenters talking among themselves, responding back and forth, occasionally squabbling, but mostly sharing very civil commentary. Along the way we have become friends. There have been highs and Rovestorm like lows, but it has become an Internet home. I share coffee with them everyday at my desk. These people of all walks of life, of every background, of many beliefs, from every social strata, are my very best imaginary (and not so imaginary) friends. For all our differences we are equal on the big friendly Achenblog porch.

I gave a small token as part of a group gift to one of our members this year. Gifting to her was something I was not required to do, something no one asked me for. Rather, gifting her was something I was offered, something I was given the opportunity to do.

Giving to her was a gift I was given by a whole lot of really nice people. Giving one small thing to her, I got back 10,000 tiny pieces of joy which seem to break open, **pop** and little sparkles sprinkle through moments of my day. I owe my entire season and all the simple contented joy I'm finding in small silly things, to the glow of those little sparkly bits illuminating every corner of my world.

I wish all of you that this year. I hope that you get the gift of one small opportunity and that whatever you do because of that opportunity will light up your world.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


I've been working with strings, yarns,needles and scissors for decades. Its how this grownup plays, but until I took up knitting, I never played much with fine yarns. I played with silks, but only a little, I certainly played with the good quality floss, I have some really great quality linens, but fine yarn was not something I played with a lot. I played tons with adequate acrylic, and happened upon really great acrylics on rare occasions. (There was some Eaton's store brand acrylic circa 1976, that still ranks as one of the finest yarns I ever worked with it. I'll post about that one day)But until knitting my work was usually just done in mundane yarn.

The Misti Alpaca was one of those really great yarns. Working with it felt like my hands were jumping into downy warmth. I hope there will be more of that down the road.

Handmaiden Cashmere is so wonderful is one too. This is a 2 ply silk and cashmere blend that they don't appear to be making right now, though they do carry a 4 ply. This yarn is so light and airy that it almost isn't there as I work with it. It magically appears as stitches and rows below the needles making a fabric that is soft and buttery, and oh so very smooth against my hands. Its going to make a wonderful gift.

This is the third incarnation of working with this yarn. The colourway did not adapt well to the stitch I choose to crochet, nor to the second one, so it seemed knitting would be it. I did think about trying something from Arctic Lace, but at this point, I'm going with the lace that I could remember. I still am going to have to boogie to get this one and one last pair of socks done. It's only 2 small projects. No problemo right?

A close up, which displays exactly how good a knitter I am not. My decreases are not at all decent. (I am going searching for help on that after the holidays) I am not a master, I'm not even a journey man. I'm not sure I could even put me in the apprentice category. Nah, I'm really just like the guy who fixes things in the backyard. It works but it isn't going to look like new.

With string I can be fearless, and if I fail, well it is only string after all. I jump in, eyes closed to everything else and just enjoy the trip. In my wake I leave behind a few nice things and a a trail of tiny little strings on the floor.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Excellent work

There is nothing so fine to a needle person as a piece of work well done. This probably was my finest weekend ever. I faced a challenge with the wrist warmers. I worked them through a dozen times - or so it seems - and I won in the epic battle between vision and possibilities of a yarn.I worked the main part through a couple more attempts. I tried working the lace in the round on the hand, but found my brain was not capable. I tried working it again, but still lost track of the pattern. I decided to finish knitting and then join the palm as part of the finishing. The loops for the tie are crocheted chain 3s, and a single crochet, and the across the palm, there are several rows of back and front loop single crochet. I opted for a crocheted tie with beaded ends ( Knitting i-cord was taking way too long for this time of year). I put beads on and took them off, I tried beads in several places, along the tops, along waves of the pattern, and each time the beads distracted the eye. The silver beads overwhelmed the silver threads running though the fabric. The project needed the smoky black glass beads lined with silver rather than the simple silver beads I had.

If you look hard enough the tops of the wrist warmers, they seem a little loose. My hand model, the redoubtable SS (you recall her from this post ), has tiny dainty hands (which probably morph) and very fine arms, but if I recall correctly the giftee also has fine hands. If needed, I can do quick and easy adjustments. I can narrow the width of the palm of the hand, and shorten the chain loops for the ties if needed to get to a perfect fit.

I will try to get better pictures from the giftee, but for now these will have to suffice. They are far far nicer than the pictures show and there is nothing yet in knitting that has pleased me so well. They are stunning and I am so glad I made the attempt and did not give up.

The weekend was so much more. Sunday morning I did these in that nice thick quick to work up chunky weight Misti Alpaca I picked up the other day. Calorimetry, for a second time (I like this pattern and this giftee likes wearing it), and a set of wrist warmers from the leftover bits. I may make these a bit longer in the arms, I do have a bit of wool left, but I will wait and see if they meet the needs of the giftee first.

Tthe swift that Mr Needles made saw action. The Handmaiden is wound. I worked with the yarn for a bit, but I can't say I'm content with the pattern I've chosen. That is today's goal. Find a pattern more suited to display the lovely colours of this yarn, and then knit my buns of before Christmas.

I know I said if I finished it, I finished it, that I wouldn't stress about it, but there still is the wish to finish just one more gift for one more person. I'll have plenty of time to knit over the holidays. Thankfully our office closes down from the 21st to the 2nd of January, and we will be doing a lot of traveling, and I will be sitting with my mother in law for a couple or three days. These things will give me long stretches of work time, so if someone doesn't get something right at Christmas, they will get it just after. There is also my shawl to finish and some non-holiday socks, for me in the bag, begging for time.

I'm looking forward to January, when I can begin the project for my daughter in law, of the soft and luscious Rowan Bamboo tape. And that green Cascade 220 will turn into something lovely for SS. And then there is all that other nice yarn, the new green lace alpaca yarn and that delicious Arctic Lace book, and some Zephyr lace, and well, a bunch of stuff in the stash.

I really am going to finish some other work too. My hardanger pillow keeps calling to me, and there are some other pillow designs I mean to make for the reading nook in my study. I'm thinking a knitted lace, in a pure and unsullied white, with a soft blue lining, maybe a knitted ruffle...

I'm getting myself into trouble just thinking about it. A little of this sort of trouble is very good for the soul.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Fairy Tales for Grumpy Sorts

If I were a grumpy sort, I'd leave everything up that I posted first thing this morning. But I am not and its the holidays, and I'm tired of being grumpy. Besides after a wee bit of knitting while I was waiting for reports, the 3rd go round of the hand warmers is going to be just right.

And so far better than my earlier post, here is a treat for you.

Late Breaking Fairy Tales:

The knitter awoke before dawn and heard faint cries. The knitter could not make out what the sound was, but she thought it must be a soft winter breeze stirring blowing warm air her way. The voices started very faint, soft. She kept listening and the calls grew stronger. Finally just before lunch, the voices were a bit louder and the knitter heard what the voices said. 'Free me' said one voice. 'Help me' said another. The calls were so urgent and so sorrowful that knitter knew she had to go. The knitter followed the soft but urgent cries, down the path, across the river to a small but very friendly looking sort of shop.

The knitter kept going, wandering around, following the voices. Finally she thought she found the voice calling softly 'free me'. She saw it was poor lonely slightly handled hank of Handmaiden 2 ply Silk Cashmere from the high hangers in the sock yarn corner. It cried out for release. It told the knitter that it had just one wish in life. It just wanted the chance to be made into something for someone special, for someone who would love it and care for it for always. The knitter knew she could do this for the yarn. She knew there was a special someone out there that would treasure this yarn and what would be made from it.

The knitter still heard the voice saying 'Help me', so she kept looking. The Handmaiden softly whispered 'lower, far down'.

There on the bottom tray of the sweet little yarn rack in a basket was the last of its kind.One sad lonely skein of Lang Mille Colori. Mille was afraid it was going to be tossed into the bin of ends, in the dark back of the shop where it would perish among the bin of single skeins of sock yarn. It was worried. It begged the knitter, 'take me with you, help me find something I can be with'.

There in the back corner among all the fancy yarns, the silks and the laces, sat a big soft sage Misti Alpaca Chunky. It was surrounded by friends and family, Misti's of all sizes and twists, Alpacas of many brands, but it turned and saw the little orphan skein of Mille Colori. It jumped up and gave the Mille a big hug, and said 'I'll be your friend'. It didn't care one bit that it was 100 % baby alpaca, and Mille was a 50% wool- 50% acrylic mix. It felt that all yarns were really the same inside. The wise Misti knew that yarns all just wanted to be something warm and soft.
So the Knitter, Handmaiden, Misti and Mille, all went to the counter to take care of the bill. Misti and Mille found a tidy corner where they are right this very minute having a good getting to know you chat about their hopes and dreams. Handmaiden is right there with them, but she busy just now checking out the needles in the comfy work bag they are sitting in, and the knitter is dreaming of just what comes next.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

And more decorations!

Delicate, dainty and lacy. That is what my tree is. There are no things like it anywhere else in my home. I'm not really into lace. No lace curtains, no lace bed covers, and only a few touches awaiting use in closets and corners. I've strong opinions on lace, and how it is used, and you can have too much, particularly in a house of males such as I have lived with for the past almost 30 years.

My tree though, is touches of lace and I really enjoy its delicacy.

The Snowflakes but for one are from 99 Snowflakes. All the red ball covers come from a book of covers for ornaments that I have had and shared with my mother in law for years. The patterns all use pearl headed pins to hold all the tips in place on the old fashioned satin balls. In fact if anyone knows a source for cheap red satin balls, please tell me. There are none being sold here anymore even after an exhaustive search of dollar stores. The third ornament is one of 3 made for me by my mother in law, almost 25 years ago.

The angels and a few other little snowflakes are tatted.

I learned to tat last fall after having a tatting shuttle in my work bag since 1974. It too was just something I could not quite understand. Once given the basics, I felt like a duck in water, and love the little rings of its dainty nature. My teacher was a master tatter. It was she who told me about Nordic Needles online as a great source for tatting. Its a superior source for all kinds of neat things.

I have some ball cover patterns in tatting on the to do list, but knitting got in the way. I planned for a few more snowflakes, but knitting got in the way. I have dozens of incomplete things that I mean to finish, but, well, knitting seems to have consumed me. There is so much to learn, and I have tons more still to experience, but soon, there will be much work on some of these other things. I love them just as well. Now if I can just stop coming up with interesting things to knit!

I got a good start on the hand warmers this morning. They will have the same lac pattern as the scarf, best displayed here. Annie Modesitt's pattern from her lace class (the black and silver doesn't take good photos).Because the set of scarf and hand warmers are of man made yarns, I've had to think through how I was going to fit these to her tiny hands. Remember my little black lace thing from long ago? My plan there was to use a ribbon to close up the arm part of the wristlet. I saw a pattern on Ravelry that did the same thing up the whole of the warmer, and that will work here. The laces will compensate for the lack of stretchiness in the yarn. Doing it the whole way up the warmer might just solve my long standing problem with the lacy black wristlet. When I realized that yesterday, my hope for the project that was and now once again is the reason I learned to knit, is reborn.

So I'm going to work a bunch over the next two days to get these wristlets knit up, and then I will decide if the over part that Curlerchik uses so well, will look right. I still like the idea, but I'm a little concerned that the lacing will be to much fussiness with the over skirt. The lacing is a feature all on its own, and two big design features on one small hand seems to much.

Beads? Well I can see beads running up the edges, alternating silver and black (I found the right size beads!!!) in a bit of a wave to echo the lace. Or maybe all along the lacy waves. I'm going to knit i-cord with one of those funny little i-cord knitting things, of crochet cotton, to use for lacing. I'll bead the last inch of that too.

You know what? As I write this, I realize how very clearly my direction forward is. What was just a thought from yesterday, an informal start to a plan, is a picture in my head complete and lovely on her hand. I really hope she likes these.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

No knitting, crocheting or

any other hand work last night. I confess, I was just plain old reading. But it was about knitting so I figure I'm still good with the powers that be in the mists of knitting.

I am absolutely enchanted by Arctic Lace. I'm not ready to review it yet, there is just too much there for a morning review. Saturday I'll sit down and really write about the book. The insta-meter rating is Treble, verging on Double Treble.

While I'm busy being enchanted by the book, I'll let you be enchanted by these. Snowflakes that you never have to shovel and others.

In a lot of the pictures, you see the garland I posted about before.

You will see that the lacy bits on the garland are definitely not starched, not even ironed. Most distressingly, several pictures display the dainty tips which hint at icicles, pointing up.

Sometimes things are just better not mentioned to ones garlander and light person. Well not at my house anyway.

What a garland such as this really needs is a good stiff blocking, perhaps some spray starch (though I don't like how that coats the beads) and then it really needs to be hung on branches from an ornament hanger. Maybe next year. I'll aim for starched next year. Or maybe ironed.

But don't hold me to it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Some people have no idea about size.

I went to the mailbox last night and found the package from Modeknit as expected, but I also found a large package. I wasn't expecting anything, so I assumed it was for SS. She later asked me when I was going to open up my package, because she and son1 were dying to know what was in there.

It was from my friend Mostlylurking. I was expecting an envelope from her. She emailed to let me know it was on the way, she claimed it was small, just some little things she found that she thought might interest me. This is what I was expecting. There are at least 4 new to me stitches in the little crochet booklet. The Lion Brand booklet of afghans is great. The designs are all based on quilt patterns and I know of two that were instantly on the do list. There are probably more. I liked these books, but I found myself distracted.

The rest of the 'little' package was filled with this.

As I opened the little gift wrapped packages, I cried. I touched that lace yarn and cried at its softness. The greens have stayed remarkably true to colour but the soft greys are a wee bit more prominent than they really are.

This lovely Fino alpaca and silk is like looking into the forest in the back yard. Deep, soft colours where surely mists cling. Enchanting yarn.

She sent needles too. 3.25 mm circular needles of bamboo. These lovely things are not at all related to the bamboo needles I have at home. These glow in your hands and are warm and light and whisper, knit with me.

And she sent me some of these, which delight me to no end.

And finally, there was the book, Arctic Lace. It's more than a book. It is history, it is ancient stories, it is culture then and now of the people who were there before Alaska.It is also the story of a positive movement to make the lives of women in villages better. It is also the story of lace and fabric, and using what the land and nature gives you.

I'll tell you more later, but right now, I'm just going to hug this book to my heart, this yarn and these other little treats to my heart, and I am going to bask in the warmth of a thought, a gift from a friend.

Yes my friend Mostlylurking has an odd sense of the true size of things. Anyone who knows her would agree that her sense of size is based on the size of her heart. Her heart is quite simply, big.

So sometimes I guess I cry when I get mail, but its all good. Really really good.

Monday, 10 December 2007

A weekends work

I haven't any pictures but I moved along this weekend like nobody's business. The black scarf is complete and a blue one in crochet just needs a little more length, and it's ready too. Tonight I should be easily able to finish that plus get a really good start on the wrist warmers.

There are so many good patterns for wrist warmers out there. Tons, myriads. They are a wonderful project in crochet and knitting. Small time requirements, you can use wool you deem expensive because they take little, and there is a lot of room for creativity. Cables and lacy stitches show up very well and can result in a project for warmth or for dressy looks.

I'm not sure how this man made yarn will work up into warmers. I'm sure it will be fine, but I do have to make them very close to size because the yarn simply does not have the stretch that any wool fabric does. there is a pattern for driving gloves in cotton in the summer Interweave Knits that I'm going to use as my guide to size, and beyond that, well, the underpart is going to be plain. The over part, well, I'm anticipating a lot of fun.

I was looking for beads, but found none in the size that will show up nicely on this yarn. I had seen leaf shapes, but by the time I went back to Micheals, they were gone, though I did pick up some silver disks that might do the trick. I'm a little worried that they will look too flashy. I also found some very tiny seed beads in the perfect colour but they are too small to show up on the yarn, and too tiny to work in. If It gets down to these tiny beads as the finishing touch, they will be worked on some very fine black thread in at least 2 layers of alternating loops. But there will be some kind of snazzy edging.

I will post pictures of my adventures on the morrow. That is just how this feels. Adventurous, like there is so much of the world out there just waiting for me to see.

I almost forgot! I've been waiting since May to blog my Christmas tree. There will also be some seriously Christmas posts this week too.

Friday, 7 December 2007


One scarf done. Only the blocking to do, but I think I will do all the finishing when my fingers won't knit. There is a point where I have to rest my hands so I might as well use it for blocking and finishing. One thing I can say. If you get the chance to use Colinette's Jitterbug, do it. Look at that wonderfully muted dance of colours.

On to a second scarf. This is in Patons Brilliant, an acrylic, nylon and polyester yarn. Up front it has a very different feel than the delicious Colinette. It not bad, just different. Cooler, and dryer, more firm feeling as it runs past your hands. The yarn itself is not a typical spun yarn. Its a braided kind of yarn, and will unravel if it you pull on the fine threads at the end. To stop that unraveling I had to tie a very samll tight knot. I'm working this up on 4.5 mm needles, and I find I do have to take some care to go through the full thickness of the yarn, rather than splitting the threads with my needle tips.

While this might strike some as a drawback, I am interested to see how this works up. This is my first work with with this kind of braided yarn, and down the road, I have the Rowan Babmboo Tape, which is constructed in a similaiar fashion. I have a feeling learning to work with Brilliant is going to be great training for my plans for that gorgeous stuff.

Every yarn has its blessings. This yarn? It is holding its shape really nicely, and the stitch definition is great. The lace waves are going to show off very nicely. The little glittery threads running through the yarn is adding just the right amount of flair. This won't be a snuggle into winter sort of scarf, but an accessory scarf, an scarf to wear those days when you want to add just a little drama to your ensemble, but not a lot of flash. This scarf is going to work with very formal dresses or with simple tops for going for coffee and desert with friends. Just right for the eventual giftee.

The scarf is just part 1. Part two is going to be some wrist warmers. I'd love the look to end up a bit like this super idea from Curlerchik (scroll down to Nov 13th). I'll have to see what can supply the light and lacy topper look in a plant or man made fibre, but right now I'm thinking rayon embroidery floss.

I look at the picture and I wonder if this project is calling for some beads, silver or silver lined clear beads scattered on the ends of the scarf, and as Curlerchik does so well on those dainty warmers. Hmmm.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

So I went to the mailbox, and...

a book arrived! So its a book review today.

I picked up this book from one of the best needle work sources on the net. Nordic Needle is a major force in the hardanger and embroidery world, but they also carry a few other goodies. The book is Classic Knits for Real Women . Since I must have cleared the last copy from Nordic Needles (it's no longer on the website), I've linked to the Needle Arts Bookshop link for this book.

This is a book that is sized for those of us from a 36 inch bust to a 46 inch bust. As you can see by the pictures, the sweaters are classic shapes, simple, easy to wear anyplace. Good sold design for regular women. Nothing bold and vivid here. Delicate colours and soft subtle shapes and waist lines in natural yarns. The designs should give us the feminine form we desire without clinging to the squidgy bits.

It's not that there is nothing funky here. There is in spades. There are some interesting collar designs, a funky hat and scarf set done in a loop stitch that is meant for those with a great deal of flair among us, a fringe edging that I can see all kinds of places to use. BUT these funky attributes update the look of these classic pieces, funky is not intrinsic to the design. In each case, a much simpler edging, or collar could be used, to give you a great classic design.

Besides the funkier innovations, there are fine delicate little touches. Beads, textured stitches, cables, and touches of lace add to the look. It isn't just sweaters, as the name implies. There are some nice designs for scarves, a scattering of crocheted items, and a couple of bag designs too.

The book says exactly what it is, classic designs. This book targets those of us who are by nature or time of life, more sedate, more settled. It isn't a book for the young and trendy, though there are things here that speak to that part in all of us.

This book ranks as a solid Double Crochet for me. Its conservative style holds a strong appeal. BUT, if you are interested in more innovative things, you may want to check it out from a library before you buy.

More work on the scarf. The ball is getting very small, and before the end of the day, I ought to be finished.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

More scarf

It feels suspiciously like socks. After a few feet it sort of shows the same. I didn't do a lot last night on it, and I quit when I realized I missed a yo about 6 rows below. It seemed like the time to put it down. I picked it up this morning again, and ripped back to my error, and then knit a few rows, so I know my work will be solid tonite. However, tonite there can be no knitting. We have to put the tree up, and that is a full evening job.

We have done 2 trees for a few years. The 'beast' with its more than 6 foot span across the bottom, and one upstairs in the living room. I don't know about the beast this year. I love the ornaments we use there, but the basement is in such disarray. Son 1 has stuff everywhere, and I don't know if I'm up to cleaning it away to set a tree up.

My living room tree is the one that gets the special treatment. All red white and sliver. Yes it has a theme, and its decorator but its pretty, and sparkly, and I like it a lot. I still have not starched the bead and crochet garland. Maybe tonite. Or maybe not. If it goes on un-starched, well, so it goes. Except for a few balls, Its snowflakes and other lacy things. I'm starting to feel like Christmas.

I will show you pictures over the next few days, I hope as well as the finished scarf, and the next project, and some more socks....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Yarn and life

Lots of scarf knitting last night. I cannot tell you how much I love this pattern. It makes me feel like a million bucks.

After such a very short time, there are feet of it, miles even. And it simply works!

This scarf is everything that keeps people coming back to knitting. It looks complex, but I know the secret of its simplicity. All the feet of it means I stayed dedicated to the task and when its done, it is a thing of such loveliness and delicacy that I intend to be fully and absolutely amazed that it was made by my hand. Everything about a project like this lacy scarf shouts I am here and I am good. On those days when you need a little confirmation that you are OK, this scarf, this lace is just the ticket.

This scarf with all its feet, its loveliness and its simplicity is a meditation for me. Its a time of quiet where I can submerge myself into the simple repeats and its tidy stitches and block out everything but the string and the needles. Getting so deep into a thing on my needles opens my brain to see the other threads of my life. I see the little blips better, I see where the pattern is getting off track, I can see where the fabric I create is no longer pleasing to me. Submerging into this lace, into my embroideries, and into those many chains of a ruffled pillow edge, lets me question if the fabric I will look back on as I weave the final threads of my life are good. Is it something I am proud to say was mine.

Lately I've not been happy with my fabric. Its not bad, its not unpleasing in all its many little sections, but the parts of the fabric aren't fitting together, the colours jar, the angles are too sharp, the scale is a little off. I've known this for a while now, but I have not been able to understand the next pattern, I have not been able to work through the next step. It seemed as if all my strings were tied up in knots.

Playing intensively with yarns, by crochet, by knitting, by reading and feeling part of this community of crocheters and knitters, I started to see that if I am displeased that I can set it aside. I don't have to work with the bad wool I feel I have had running through my fingers. Someone out there is going to love this wool, and someone out there is going to make something beautiful with it. Just because I don't really love it anymore, doesn't mean it does not have its charms, that it is not a fine and beautiful thing just waiting to happen. For someone else.

I handed in my notice yesterday. I feel lighter than air, I feel like my back is standing straighter today. It took a long time to let go of this very good but demanding and intricate position, and it will be some time before we find the right replacement. I will not leave before me and the powers that be feel comfortable with the choice. But we are looking, and I see the finish line. I have hope, and that feels very very good.

It won't be possible for me to not work. The intensive reading of this job is no longer physically possible for me though, so I need to change scope, look at other things, and find a new way to earn a living. I feel really good. I know that I will land on my feet, and I know that this time I will take better care of me, while I am taking care of the bills.

The one thing I am going to make absolutely certain of? There will be much more time for crocheting, knitting and whatever embroidery and other string play that should happen to come along.

This is a great scarf. I see the beauty in its simple intricacy. That is where I am going. That is what I want.

Monday, 3 December 2007

If only there was more time

I had a wonderful weekend. Friday and Saturday the house were mine, and I was alone. Son 1 and his dad were off hunting, and GF of Son 1 was out with friends and wisely choose to stay in town and take taxi's rather than driving home (She is a very smart girl). I think that is the first time I have been alone for any amount of hours since the kids came back. Much as I love them, it was lovely just being alone.

Friday evening I took Son 2 out for his birthday. He taught me how to use chopsticks, and how to best open those cool little tubular sugars packets, and how to use my stupid cell phone. We also discussed how I might be the only person in the world who has yet to figure out how to get photos from my phone, to my computer, AND who has actually taken pictures of her computer screen to use as a wall paper for her phone. We had a lovely time, even if he spent most of it laughing at me.

I went home and worked on socks for the rest of the evening. Saturday by 10, both socks were done, so I played a little on Ravelry, where I am canadiannneedles. I uploaded most of my stash.

Playing with my stash led me to wanting something nicer than socks for the next gift for a lady. I had this really fine Colinette yarn, in Velvet Damson, just crying out to me, begging to be more than socks. A search on Ravelry led me to a pattern, The Tiger Eye Scarf from Stitchin Girl. I worked on that for a few hours, but kept making an error, and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.

I left that behind for the pattern Annie Modesitt uses in her class. Thank you Annie, because look here!

I have knit feet of this already. What an absolutely marvelous pattern for a gift, fast, almost brainless, but with enough interest to keep you going. As I work along I'm working out the little problem I seem to be having with decreases, where the edge is not very tidy. If I work a wee bit more firmly on my purl rows, the edge on the decreases which are leaning to the left become nice and even. I love the edging she showed us in the class. Its gives the sides wonderful body. I opted for garter stitch to begin with, because I am not yet satisfied at how my i-cord casts on looks, but you can't have everything all at once.

I can do quite a lot in a hour of work, so this one is going to be my lunchtime project. First intentional gift down, and onto the second, and looking for a good timely completion. I'm very very pleased with the way the weekend worked out.

And yes, I will have more of this kind of Colinette yarn in my stash as soon as the holidays are done.