Monday, 30 June 2008

Brides's Memory Bag success

The Bride's bag was a success but there are no pictures of it.

I knitted the base of the project on the 5.5 hour drive. (Note to self: No more bead stringing while driving. Remember, you'd rather shoot yourself in the foot than do that again.) When I say knitted to the base, I mean that I knitted the 6 stockinette rows and set up for the lace stitch I choose. Then I applied the beads. The beading for this bag took hours. No knitting these on. The pearls had too small of a diameter hole for the yarn. The beads were sewn on to the bottom. Once that was done, the project was completely set up for knitting while in a crowded environment while visitng and sipping appropriate wedding type beverage.

The service was followed by a lull for photos. We retired to the Bride's mothers house for hors d'oeuvres and knitting was completed during this long lull. This was very unexpected. After dinner during the speeches I did all the finishing. The lights were low, so the quality of the finishing was not what I had hoped for, but the slipped stitches rolled into the bag and hid the worst of it.

The entire project took about 3 hours to knit and assemble. Had I knit it in the round, (which is how the next one is going to get done) it would have been less time. I'm also going to do a little something different for the beads next time too. Not sure what, but what I did this time won't be repeated.

Once the finishing was done, I was going to sign the card with the regular cash gift in it, when I realized that to keep the cash safe, I had glued the envelope shut with the card unsigned. Par for the course. I have done it before, so I calmly wrote on the outside, explaining the bag, and asking them to sign the card for me, to the tune of everyone else laughing at what I had done. (I am used to this)

As is the no picutres, We never remember the camera at weddings. 30 years, we have photos of two weddings, my brother and my sons, and darn few pictures of those weddings. Par for the course.

I'll post a wee bit of a recipe for the bag tomorrow, if anyone is interested in exactly how this bag was made, but for now, the coffee is on, and it is time for breakfast.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Knitting days

Preparing to knit while traveling is taking up an inordinate amount of my time. We have that first family wedding this weekend, and the Bride's bag knit, is ready to go.

Driving knitting is the first consideration. It is a 6 hour drive, and the brides bag is only going to take an hour to get set up, so I should work on something fairly easy while driving. There are the yellow socks to consider, and those far older ones that really must get done. Shouldn't a driving to a wedding sock be happier than a project you are having issues with? Or should I think of myself as a captive audience and I could get those socks finished so I could look myself in the face again?

4 hours of knitting would be a great time to start another sweater, but first I really should finish the one I am working on. I could do that, but it would be just a tiny bit boring. What happens if I finished in 2 hours? There I would be, stuck in a van, halfway to Saskatoon, and let me tell you, there are no knitting stores halfway to Saskatoon.

I could start the lovely new scarf. I have some green Suri Alpaca that is going to be amazing. I will be able to use the beads I didn't use for the prototype Bride's bag, but when I think about this, the idea of relearning a form of crochet while driving, is a little overwhelming. I think I should do it when I am sitting in one place for a while.

Unless I get a chance to start it this evening, and remember all those forgotten skills. If I remember how, the scarf would be a great project for the drive.

Or should I take along something very different. There is always the Agatha shawl, in a tomato red 'Salsa' colourway that I'd like to have done before winter. Hmm, but that would be charts. There is a red bag I need to knit, and felt. If I start now, I should be finished with the new one right about when the old one wears out.

So many choices, but I like that. These are all things that I would need or gift, or buy for the winter, but when I knit, or crochet them myself, I get the extra entertainment bang for my clothing budget, and the satisfaction of making it myself.

Truth be told, the emergency knitting for the van will probably be socks. I have some nice yarn to use and people waiting for some good warm socks to wear. They are simple and I can knit and chat with my husband as we go along. I'll take along all the unfinished socks, and work through them. I'll have a toe ready for that just in case I need more 'knitting at the wedding' knitting. Maybe once they have gotten over the idea that I am knitting at the reception, they will forgive me if the last project of the evening is brillaiant fuschia.

There all set. The big stuff is all ready to go.

Now if only the laundry was done.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Crochet thinking

I am a crocheter from way back, so far back that through the mists of time, I barely remember the first thing I crocheted. Truthfully it was a gold, cream and tan afghan of granny squares from a kit, and the second thing I crocheted was a green and cream afghan. These afghans launched 10,000 doilies, baby blankets, and afghans. All these years of crocheting have left me with the deeply held belief that crochet is a wonderful craft for its texture and its ability to morph into shapes and forms that are not easy to knit. All those years of a dearth of good crochet design have also left me with a slightly jaded view of crochet.

I have a friend, a long time knitter, even longer time quilter, who is just now discovering crochet. Because her mind works in mysterious designer ways, and considering her new found passion and inspiration in crochet, I expect some great things coming from her design studio very shortly. ThatLoganChick (her Ravelry handle) is seriously talented. It has been a pleasure watching someone discover those little tricks I forgot a hundred years ago, and surpass my knowledge and skill many times over. She inspires me, to look at crochet with new eyes.

There are a host of great designers who are keeping my eyes open to the new crochet. Annette Petavey and Amy O'Neill Houck are part of the wave of talented people making great wearables and accessories. Its not just for blankets any more and I for one am very glad.

Top that inspiration off with the Summer 08 Interweave Crochet. There is a fabulous rectangular shawl design, made with the lovely Helen's Lace from Lorna's Laces, the Ocean Pearls Cardigan, and the absolutely stunning Gladiolus Vest. This magazine, under the tutelage of Kim Werker, just keeps getting better and better.

And then there is the La Mer Scarf. The La Mer is worked in Tunisian crochet, another technique seeing a strong revival. This particular design stretches Tunisian crochet right out of the embroidered afghan panel hell to which it had been consigned for the last 30 or 40 years, and moves it right into the design limelight where it should be, standing tall, strong and clear with regular crochet and knitting.

Get the magazine, and take a close look at the scarf. It is wonderful. It might just be the very next thing I do.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Socks, Socks

With all the larger projects and other bits and pieces lately, I have forgotten the simple pleasure of knitting plain socks. Plain Jane, ordinary, no pattern socks are like cookies and milk or mac and cheese. They remind me of all the things that speak to me of home, of being wrapped in safety and comfort. I associate these things with socks since that first time I wore hand knit woolen socks.

When you knit plain stockinette on something simple like a sock, your mind is free to wander as it will. Plain socks are meditative and I could use some meditation right about now. Truth be told, a little meditation on a regular basis would be a very good thing. More sock knitting I say.

I waited for an oil change for a half an hour yesterday and finished sock one of this pair. I really want to use up all the yellow on these socks, so I added a rather flamboyant split cuff in double seed stitch. It's one way to avoid a too tight cast off. Now just to pop the other sock on the needles, and I am set.

I have not completed a lot of socks this year. The change in work schedules has seriously changed my knitting habits. Socks were my go to knitting during the work week in my previous employment. A bit of socks in the evening was all the knitting I could muster. Now, with more hours and far less stress, socks have sort of taken a back seat to other things.

The quick finish is what I have been missing the most with larger projects on the needles. I miss the almost instant gratification knitting a sock gives you. It is small, it is portable, and it is quick to complete. I am an instant gratification junkie and I want more.

I have a couple pairs in the sock blank bin, waiting for heels, and then there is a sock out of the Fabel yarn, and the stretchy cotton sock to finish, but these have gusset heels and I am not finding a lot of joy working that style of heel after my initial liking for it. That is my sock knitting for the entire year. As soon as I am done the Picovoli Cardigan, I am going to spend some time in instant gratification land, and just knit socks. It's time to thuink about getting ready for fall and winter and about getting a head start on Christmas. (Picovoli is down to just one ball of yarn.) Pictures soon.

So today in the quiet minutes at the store, I am going to contemplate socks. I am going to avoid all thoughts of Silk Garden and Mission Falls 1824 Wool. Maybe I won't dream of the loveliness of Sirdar's Baby Bamboo. I am not going to go into the fine yarn corner unless I gird my mind with the comfort of socks. Maybe that way I can ward off coveting, dreaming of and thinking of knitting with all the lovely yarns I play with at work.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Pictures on the blog

You may have noticed fewer pictures on the blog the last few days. It really has only been 2 normal posting days, but it seems like a lifetime since I took a decent photo.

I lent my snappy little Sony to SS because it is easy to move data to a computer. I am left here at home using an older Canon digital. The biggest drawback to this camera is that you cannot download photos straight from it to any old computer. You must have the right software before it works. (Thankfully, Canon changed their mode of operation and now it can be done just like regular data transfer)

In Mr. Needles hands, this camera is an artist's canvas. he can do wondrous things with its landscape settings.
and with its macro settings,

while I end up with something that looks like this. Or this (which blogger is making appear not half bad, but really you should see the fuzz at full size. )
If you see photos here that look good over the next few days, he took them. I'll be too busy trying to figure out how to hold still.
Knitting is happening, but not this morning. I have to go in to consult at the office, and then need to pay to some attention to that area formerly known as the garden.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Murphy's coincidences

We have all heard of Murphy's Law, and the Peter Principle. And then there are those odd little coincidences that happen in life, like the day you wash your car, it will rain.

I have been enjoying the new clothes line a lot. There is something about hanging clothes on a clothes line which forces this mad rush of a world to slow down. Its not like tossing things in the dryer. It is important to hang them right. First, give them a good shake, then find the proper edges, shoulders of shirts, legs of pants, so that when dry, the clothes are ready to fold. Each corner needs a clip so in the end, each article hangs with its own particular sort of grace, waving softly in whatever small breezes come by. When the clothes are dry, I take them down slowly, folding as I go, inhaling the crisp freshness. The whole operation is a reminder of a simpler slower paced time of life.

Another thing I have found about clothes on the line, is that they attract rain faster then a clean car on a sunny day. This led to my rediscovery of the housewife's mad dash for the clothes on the line, and why we came to love clothes dryers.

Besides contemplating the wonders of laundry, I did a fair bit of knitting. I finished the second Picovoli cardigan sleeve, and am well along on the bottom. One ball of yarn is left, and I have about an inch left to go. It should finish up just right.

I finished the little scarf I have been working on. One skein of 100% Silk from Estelle ciombined with

the feather and fan pattern, make a charming shortie scarf. This one still needs blocking and then to the gift pile.

And last but not least, Prototype one of the Brides bag.

Knitting and assembling went about right once I stopped trying to add beads. It seems beads are a thing which I am not ready for yet. Or they hate me. A smarter person than I would work this in the round. This is worked flat and crocheted together. Crocheted seams give the bag crisp edges without the benefit of blocking.

I will make some changes to the version I make during the wedding. I am going to begin the bottom with several rows of garter stitch, just to set off a bottom section, and I am going to do another row of eyelets for the tie to run through. The current 2 rows are not balanced. Along the top, where there is one row of eyelets, I am going to do 3 rows or maybe more. I'd like the bag to look soft and dainty along the top, and this one is just a little too firm. If there is anything I am not pleased with on this prototype, it is that I used needles that were too small.

Using the Silkdream yarn is wonderful. I can just imagine...

Stop that. You know you don't have any budget left.

But for those of you who have some yarn budget left, and who are in the market for a very nice little summer top for weddings and special gatherings, do check out this very nice yarn. You won't regret it.

Friday, 20 June 2008


I have 3 family weddings to go through this year. The first two are mere weeks apart and I admit, this is not the side of the family where my knitting at the reception is going to be very well accepted. I am going to knit anyway. In order to make my knitting more correct, I will not knit socks or anything ordinary.

I am going to make a 'Bride's bag', a small, simple little momento bag that can be knit in the 3 to 4 hours of the reception, and the other moments during the day when there is just nothing much happening. I hope to be able to complete the bag and give it to the bride at the end of the evening, each stitch filled with the good cheer of the celebration of her marriage vows.

Its going to be knit with beads running along the bottom of the bag, and a few beads at feature points (Lace or no lace? That is the question.). I'll have to prepare the beads before the wedding, and may have to have to bottom beaded section complete (the pearl drop row) before the evening begins. The lining has to be designed so that I can knit it to the bag (likely with small loops crocheted along the open edge that I can knit into) as the work progresses, so that the entire bag is finished, and perfect in one short sitting.

To that end I have chosen the loveliest of not too small silk and merinos and coordinating beads. {Insert photo here}

Which I would, if only this camera could transfer the data to the computer or the printers card slot would allow me to save it to my computer. harrumph

I will make a prototype one with some similiar size stash yarn, and silvery beads and drops. I can practise and design wihtout mangling the good yarn. I want to save the good yarn for protype two for the 'time trials'

For prototype 2, I am going to use Lang Silkdream in shade 97, the loveliest shade of soft green. I found coordinating glass beads for the yarn, and the beads are the same as I plan to use for the brides version.

The brides version will also be knit with Lang Silkdream, but in the cream colour, and warm, rich, creamy pearl drops.

So there is much to do this weekend. Much knitting that needs to happen between then and now. But I have a plan and a plan is a good thing.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Here in the real world

This Alan Jackson song from a few years ago, that came to mind this morning. After my lyrical mental visit to my weekend in yesterdays post, today, I am here to tell you, there are just not enough bathrooms in this house. Feet planted on the ground firmly enough today? Yup. I have a theory that no matter how many bathrooms there are in any residence, the owners will always need one more than they have.

Moving on...

On the way back from our mountain hide away, I worked on a little scarf. A lady came into the store a few weeks ago with a tiny little scarf, a one skein , feather and fan pattern thing that was likely grafted at the centre back. It was the most charming shortie scarf, worn tied close to the neck, with the ends forming a lovely little rosette. I was inspired to make one.

I had only a few needles along to work with while traveling, so I started the pattern on 4 mm straight shorts, my best scarf needles. I love how the little ridge forms so cleanly, in the centre of the 4mm swatch. I love the tidy open edge stitches, and the crispness of it. At the very same time, I'm not quite sure that the pattern looks its best knitted at this gauge. It has an air of being too tightly packed, to firm to be an insouciant little scarf.

I decided to try it on the next size shorts I had close to hand, a 6 mm. I much prefer the more relaxed feel of this swatch but its a little floppy and too loosey goosey, to be insouciant. It is so soft that on being tied at the neck, it would just lay right down and not even dream of forming a tidy little rosette.

I'm going to have to meet in the middle. Who knew that among my growing collection of needles, the perfect needles could not be found. An insouciant scarf, needs an insouciant needle. 5 mm, straight shorties, here I come.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Two styles of camping

When we camp, Mr. Needles seldom stays near the campfire.

His connection with special places comes when he is out fishing or hiking the alpine meadows. He goes far, looks far, to see grandeur on a very big scale.

I like to stay closer to home. I like my cozy campfires and tend them carefully on chilly days. The coffee is always on, and to some, it might seem that I never go anywhere, never experience the place. The miles I travel when we are in the high country, are not miles across earth.

I focus on small things, close things.

With needles and yarn rustling quietly in my hands, I watch what happens by. As robins stop along their way, looking for just the right piece of something to line their nests, I marvel at their manner. They stand absolutely still,then turn their heads in the blink of an eye,only to be absolutely still again, as if the most important thing is the stillness, but they will expend all possible haste to get there.

I look at leaves breaking out in a burst of life, straining from their winter cocoon.

I watch tiny pockets of sunlight dancing across the mosses of the forest floor. There is a dainty sort of majesty in the quiet interplay of light and dark, the shifting tones of brilliant golden greens and shaded emeralds forming instantly as branches sway on soft breezes high above.

I prefer a close visions of grandeur nestled among the protective cover of needles, last years faded grasses, and the bursts of this years tiny shoots of green. I love how, sometimes, even in the most barren of tiny rocky places, magic happens.Even as I love the small majesty I see in every direction, I love to hear her sounds. There are few things I love more than just listening to the wind in the trees, to the swift power that is a ravens wings, the buzzings of bees, and the graceful notes of birds hanging on the air. This forest beguiles me all the more so, with the rushing waters of the Wild Hay providing counter point.

There are secrets in those sighing sounds,whispers across time. When I sit absolutely still and close my eyes in a forest, I am transported to a time before, when man existed in balance and harmony, when small glories were big things, when we stopped and heard the marvels. Stopping there, holding absolutely still, there is always a moment when I mourn what we have done, what we have become, so far from our roots as a creature of the wild as much as the deer and the otter. Even as I know these sorrows, I become forest, I am absorbed, absolved, restored.

Mr. Needles goes places I will never go and yet in so many ways, our search is the same. We share a quest in different but integral ways to find the quiet ancient hand of mother earth. Our goal is just to stop and hear her heart beat, as all men once did.

All photos are provided courtesy of Mr. Needles. The flowers and plants are from the high alpine valley. Check out the native Lewissia. Down by the lakeshore, the sun has not quite warmed the forest floor enough for the plants to be blooming. Most are just now thinking about popping from the ground. Blooming happens in one massive burst of life over the next 3 weeks.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Knitting much happened

Back in the woods and at the end of the road is a magical place.

Its hardly fair to start that way for the first blog post of the week, but there you have it. Mr Needles has all the good photos, and has not yet downloaded them here at home. Pictures, maybe even an entire blog post later this week. Our camping was lovely except for the part where there was rain on Saturday night, the back door seal leaked and my part of the bed was damp enough to mean I was chilled. Good thing that I had my trusty long johns along. When you camp in the mountains, long johns are the very first thing you learn to pack.

On several occasions, we had funny, not quite hail flake/pellets falling, and one morning we woke to a dusting of snow in the high peaks. Weather appropriate knitting happened.

Saturdays chill reminded me that I needed a toque, so I sat down and knitted these. The yarns are from the previously planned cast cover , which the new castee said would just be too warm to wear. Cloud Cotton is a simply wonderful thing to play with. Oh my, my. The toque is great, but the wristers need a little elastic help to keep their shape. I worked them up on 5 mm needles, but should probably have used 4 mm as I did with the hat. The hat served me well, and once the elastic has been added to beef up the resilience of the wristers, the set is going to be assigned to the van so that no matter where we roam, I will be warm. (The set has already seen heavy use.)

Sunday morning dawned warmer and I was left with a bit of a quandary. Do I knit that nice silk I had or do I go for a sock. While pondering this, I knit up some gauge swatches for the Cloud Cotton for one of many next projects. I'm not entirely satisfied with the way the fabric drapes when worked up on 4 mm needles or 4.5 mm needles so I am going to give it a go with some 5 mm needles sometime today. Using the Cloud Cotton Eco on the hats and wristers showed some of the properties of the yarn, but I have much to learn. A top knitted in this lovely cotton should have flow and drape to show off the softness of the fibre.

I choose not to work with the silk. The firewood at the campsite was mostly spruce and spruce spits and the sparks fly.I did knit with it on the way home, but the silk is too precious to have burned by a flying ember, so I choose some sock yarn.

The socks are made of one skein of a lovely bright yellow Regia yarn, and one skein of an unknown yarn with some very special properties. Both skeins are from my early stash period, purchased from River City Yarns little sale bin quite some time ago. The unknown yarn was an over dyed yarn for a dyeing class they were holding or that one of the RCY ladies took. Look at what interesting things are happening. Check out the toe area where I used only one of the yarns, and look at the patterning. (Once the toe was done, I worked alternating rows with the plain yellow yarn. The heels will be as the toe, only the over dye yarn and the cuff will be the plain yellow. That is, if all goes according to plan)

Knitting this was not just about the fun of a plain sock destined for a peasant heel, but also trying to figure out how a hand dye got these cool little 'Fair Isle' inspired areas followed by the near single rows of the blue and the red. Thinking about it occupied me for hours on end. I'll be trying this technique next time I play dyer. I have a suspicion there is math involved.

Now that I am back in the real world, I have old work to finish and new work beckoning and not just of the knitterly variety. I am off to the office shortly for a days worth of consulting packed into a big morning, a quick stop at Knitting Tuesdays, errands, groceries, lawn mowing and finally, maybe some little bit of relaxing evening knitting.

I have a sweater to finish this week, and a shawl, 3 pairs of socks, and a scarf. Surely something among these could, should, must get done before I start the next big thing, which is burning a hole in my mind.

Startitis? You bet.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Packing up

As I said yesterday, we are camping this weekend so today is a flurry of packing. Yesterday was a flurry of packing too.

We go to a small lake high in the mountains, far off the main roads. It has no services, no showers, no bathrooms, not even remotely near any place that receives cell phone service, and where there is barely any radio reception. It is just you and your small class B motor home against the world A class B motorhome is built on a regular van body, fully customised inside to contain everything you need. Now, when we camp, we stay warm and dry, no matter how awful the weather.

This mornings rush will be to finish the laundry pack some clothes, and be ready for work, all before 6:30 when I have to head out with Mr. Needles. I'll knit in the van before I start my work day at 10. We'll get away as early as possible that way and we will only drive in once. With fuel prices what they are, every little bit helps, but it really is the full half hour we gain by going in together that counts.

Pictures and adventure stories on Monday, or maybe Tuesday. You know how it is. It is hard to leave a mountain get away. We might just phone in sick.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Emergency Pack

This months newsletter from River City Yarns, is all about summer knitting. Yours truly contributed one article on emergency knitting supplies. Today you are going to see my knitting first aid kit.

First things first, you need a good emergency container. The container should be capable of keeping the dry in and the damp out. Waterproof or water resistant a top priority. Keeping in mind that this is for emergencies, colour should be a consideration. Mr. Needles found this among things he did not give me last year. It fits the bill nicely.

Then there is the all important yarn. Every emergency kit should have sock yarn. Campfire emergency yarn should be bright. It should be cheerful. It should console and inspire and sock yarn fits the bill nicely. I like to include a couple of balls. I might knit faster than expected (not happening) but a second yarn might someday come in handy. Who knows when someone will see me knitting, and ask me to teach them? Maybe Mr. Needles will finally fall under knitting's magical spell. I'd like to think my kit could cover other people's knitting emergencies, and not just my own. (Miscellaneous unlabeled yarn) (Regia Kaffe Fasset Limited edition yarn)

After sock yarn, it should have a staple. Something for that moment that you think you might be inspired to knit a different sweater than all the sweaters you have planned, and different from the ones you have unfinished on your size 4 to 5 needles. It should be something thicker than sock yarn, something easy to knit when your fingers are numb with chilly damp mountain weather. The blue stack is Cloud Cotton from Estelle.

And lastly, an emergency kit should contain desert. I don't know why it should contain desert, but part of me figures that desert is a good idea for almost any occasion, and another part of me says, a treat yarn might be a good idea for that moment every camping trip has where I am overcome with the overwhelming need to ask myself if I am having fun yet. These moments usually involve rain, wet wood, and dull axes, which are, of course, integral to the complete Canadian camping experience.

100% Silk, also from Estelle, a very nice desert.

Next, a good emergency kit has to have instructions. Smart people would insert a single printed page with the instructions for a pair of mittens, a pair of socks, a lace stitch pattern. I like to be prepared, and since the kit has room, I go off the deep end. A couple stitch dictionaries, a reference manual, a book of knitting fun are the basics. I've tossed in a pattern book too for good measure. I mean what if I didn't feel like knitting in front of the fire? ....



Nah, never happening, but what if my hands start to hurt because I have knit too much? I mean, I have to be prepared for serious emergencies too, right, as well as the smaller and more frequent band aid brand emergencies.

Once your kit is packed, you should make sure your kit is well identified, and is secure. Luckily enough, mine came pre-labeled.

What can you expect of a beer cooler bag?

PS When you pack your own knitting emergency kit, pack it to suit your style of camping. My current style of camping means I stay very dry in a small Class B motor home. If I tented, I'd leave the books at home. But not the yarn. The yarn is not negotiable.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Sometimes when you avoid one thing

another thing gets done.

After speeding along on the capelet, the original hem needs to be unpicked and reworked. As usual, big challenge equals avoidance. The upside is that even though the capelet is standing still the Picovoli cardigan is coming along fine.

I moved past my fears of the cardigan hanging off my daughter-in-laws shoulders like a potato sack by having someone else of a similar build, try it on. I've completed the waist shaping so all I have to do along the bottom edge is work it to length, and then just one more sleeve.

I confess, it was the problem of what to do with the sleeves that has kept me from working on this sweater for so long. My goal was to extend the cap sleeve of the original pattern so it ended just past the curve of her shoulder. I did not want a straight sleeve, but wanted something with a gentle curve following the shape of the wearers arm. Grumperina did not do this on her T top pattern, but did discuss how it could possibly be done. My solution was to work a couple sets of short rows separated by two full rows of knitting. It gave the sleeve top a most delightful curve. On the wearer, it sits just so and keeps the spirit of this figure hugging design.

Right now, I'm working on duplicating sleeve 1 and it is just sailing along. I hope to be very near completion before the end of the day.

With a camping weekend coming up fast, I am working on stocking up my van with knitting supplies. I could stock it soley with whatever my current project is, but when you go 300 miles from the nearest yarn store, and a full hour from the nearest store of any kind, you have to be prepared for all sorts of emergencies. I mean what happens if I really don't feel like working on the capelet? What if I'm tired of the socks I have to complete?

See this?

This yarn is like the emergency bandage of this knitting trip. I have 2 skeins of 100% Silk in this dreamy navy blue. There are other colours of this lovely silk in the store, but these were the last 2 of this gorgeous colour. It ought to be just right for a nice skinny lacy scarf.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

It's Monday Right?

Somewhere along the way, I've lost a day. With Mr. Needles being gone last weekend, and less than usual attention to schedules, it happens. I simply forgot to post yesterday. I slept in.

Anyone who knows me, knows I never sleep in. 4 to 5 a.m. is my normal waking time, but the last few days, I sleep and sleep and sleep some more, and what is even stranger, did you know that people stay up after 9 p.m.? Yeah, I know, its hard to believe, but there it is. Life happens after that late hour. I once even saw that mystical thing called midnight (I have not seen midnight without the presence of company for at least 20 years).

I'm not entirely sure that I like this new schedule of mine. I miss my long mornings. This morning, back to my old habits. I was wide awake at 3 a.m.

While I might be awake, I always hesitate to do any serious thinking at 3 a.m. 3 a.m. is a great time to mess up lace, to screw up lovely rows of garter stitch with sudden insertions of stockinette, and to decide to start the heel on toe up socks when the foot measure 5 inches but the giftee wears a men's size 12 shoe.

3 a.m. is really only good for one thing. Swatching. I have talked about a couple of shawls that will be next, and they will be. Someday. Next. Right now, I'm thinking I want to do sweaters, a fine thing for someone who has sweaters lined up 4 deep. This swatch is a yarn called FilTweed, a wool/ acrylic/viscose yarn.

It has a really good feel as it is being worked and the fibre is going to be just right for the the person this sweater is going to belong to. The wool and acrylic blend means extra easy care at a very, very reasonable price. Plus look at all the colours in this nice tweedy fibre. I am contemplating making this sweater up with a saddle shoulder, with knit and purl patterns and small cabling.

The other thing 3 a.m. is good for is thinking about the other sweater that is urgent. The yarn for that sweater is Cascade Heather in Loden. It may not be look green here but it is.

and suddenly I realize that as blue-ish as the past few big projects have been, the next part of my life is going to be green. Very, very green.

You know, this might be the prefect time for the bright fuchsia sock yarn.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Next knitting

I seem to be able to avoid current knitting without any effort at all. I am now doing pretty much anything but this project, which needs finishing before summer arrives...What? summer is here? Oh. Well. I guess it is like hemmed golf pants and peanut butter cookies.(Son2, yes. Today on the pants. Next week on the cookies) It will happen.

In the meantime, and while apparently avoiding all unfinished knitting projects, I'm playing with these bits and pieces from River City Yarns.

The first yarn is Cloud Cotton Eco from Estelle Yarns. In the world of good yarns to work with, we should all be so good. Soft and smooth, and eco friendly. AND it really holds its stitch definition. Its going to be great for cabling.The second is a soft chocolate Cotton Licious yarn from Sweater Kits. Gotta love that crimpy texture.

The third is a Rowan Classic Yarn called Cotton Jeans. All these bits and pieces are working together to produce this.which is, with any luck at all, a cast cover for SS. The picture is only half as good as the combination of colours and textures is in real life. The smooth Cloud Cotton is surely the grand master here, with the CottonLicious and the Cotton Jeans being the supporting players. There are very small differences in the size of the yarns, with the last 2 yarns being just a little finer than Cloud Cotton, but in a project like this, with its few rows of colour changing, these small variances don't seem to matter.

As usual, I'm knitting on the fly. No measuring here. It fits with the general modus operandi of my life, 'failure is the option right before grand success' (or something like that) .

I'm taking a big chance here, knitting without measuring but if it doesn't fit, I'll have to get creative. My hope is that the fit will be right, with minimal lacing or buttons or other such closure. If not I have the option of adding a cable panel to run up the back leg. I walked into this clearly, almost planning for the adventure of exciting fit techniques.

Or at least that is what I am going to tell myself if this turns into a really nice dishcloth.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


As a child I was one of those kids who was able to complete most of their work in class. I rarely had to spend a lot of time studying, since things have the irritating habit of staying in my head if I read it once. This and a cocky attitude contributed to B averages over the years in maths and sciences. The only thing I wish I could do was to be able to add and subtract quickly in my head, and I wish I knew the 7 times table (I was sick that week, and it has plagued me forever - start it with 7 and I go blank).

When I really enjoyed a subject, I could fly. History, and literature were heaven for me. They made my heart sing, and my imagination soar.

Strings make my heart soar too. It doesn't matter what it is, or how long a thing takes, or if there are a hundred thousand stitches, I simply fly when I play with strings. The opportunity to work at a yarn store is heady.

Even if there is yarn store homework.

Yes, you heard it here. I have homework to do. I was asked to knit up a small project as a store sample. There is the possibility of more samples if this one turns out well. Even if the projects never get beyond the extremely simple, I am delighted at this turn of events. I get to play with really great yarn, for free. In this instance, I'm playing with some great needles too - some great ADDI Turbo circulars in a 13 US. I feel a little like a kid who hit his first homer and can't run because he is jumping up and down too much. Sheer, unadulteread joy.

Doing homework. Who da thunk it?

If you want to see what I have been up to come down to the store. It will be done, and back to the store next week, though I'm not sure if it is for immediate display, or if its going to be part of a bigger fall display. When it goes on display, I'll get some pictures.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Thinking Slowly

Besides changing jobs earlier this year, there has been one other significant change in my life - the amount of coffee I consume. Without an office, coffee is becoming a drink to have after dinner, a beverage for a relaxing afternoon. May I just say, why did someone not tell me these things about coffee? Coffee has never been about relaxing, coffee has always been about preparing to do something. Coffee has been active rather than passive.

Now that I have told you this earth shaking revelation, I can tell you that I wonder if I am starting to connect to the 'Slo' movement. I first heard of this movement when I heard about Slo Food. (Not that I have done any detailed research about it, but I did hear some gossip. It was pithy gossip) In my opinion, without research, Slo food must be about foods that take some time to prepare, basic, healthy, whole foods, and about connecting to the food we eat.

These days, all my thinking seems to be about connecting more personally, more directly with all the corners of my life. In every aspect of life, I have a strong urge, desire, want, need to just go a little more slowly. I seem to be wanting to slow down enough to smell the air I pass through (except for the stinky parts, like last nights whole skunk by my bedroom window thing. That part, I wanted to get over fast) .

In knitting, I had this idea for the black socks, that I was going to make a single long tube with a toe at one end, and a toe at the other end. Then the sock could be steeked at the middle, bound off and I would have a pair of effortless blanks into which I would insert my much beloved peasant heel. It felt revolutionary to me. I was discussing it with one of the ladies at the store, who said oh heaven yes, people used to do that all the time when the only socks they had were handmade socks. It was a technique often used by those with a sock knitting machine.

So there you have it, my new revolutionary idea is not new, not remotely revolutionary, and yet, it was the first time I heard it. See how this 'slow thinking' thing goes? I think of something that everyone else heard about 100 years ago, but because it is new to me, I'm sure it is revolutionary.

So I have to wonder, if slow thinking means I am a hundred years behind, should I worry about unconsciously adopting the slow food movement? Maybe I'd better read a little bit about what that is, in case I discover that slo food is about using up the bits at the back of the refrigerator before they become the bits at the back of the refrigerator.

Or maybe its all a sign that I really need a big cup of coffee.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

New Stuff

I know that this is usually where I show you the pictures of what I have worked on, but today I'm going to show you what Mr Needles has worked on.

With the huge increases over the last few years in the price of electricity and natural gas, we are looking for places to cut costs any way we can. I've always thought that having a clothesline in this yard is not going to work all that well - we just don't get breezes - but the time for not doing it is past. Now that I am home a little more and have the luxury of taking the time to do it, we have put up a clothes line. Or, more correctly, Mr. Needles has put up my clothes line.

The pole is from the no longer used basketball net, and the clothes line is out of the way from the day to day going on of the household. Its entirely possible that everything I ever dry there is going to feel stiff and crunchy, without the breezes to give them the soft pouffiness a dryer might, but the plus is going to be wonderful smelling clothes. I can't wait till all the sheets have gone on the clothes line, and the closet with the towels opens with a shot of fresh smelling air.

Not using a dryer used to mean that you ironed. When I was a kid, my mom ironed almost everything. Bed linens and dishtowels always were ironed crisply before they were put away. That was what you learned to iron on. When you got a little better at it, you had to iron work clothes, and when you got really good, you might have to iron school clothes and Sunday clothes. Somewhere between good at towels and Sunday clothes, polyester and moms new electric dryer came along and saved me. Ironing was just not needed in the same way when you could toss it back in with a damp cloth and give it a spin at warm for a few minutes. Polyester made shirts come out crisply if you hung them right away.

And then there was the decade of the double knit polyester...

The wonders of modern technology and electricity didn't mean you wasted it though. Most women of my mom's age still dried clothes on the line just for the smell of a closet full of summer. It really wasn't till my generation where a dryer became the only way. Now, with most of us working and all those little minutes being used somewhere else, most of us don't have the time for this sort of luxury.

I do, and I intend to take full advantage of it. Drying clothes on a clothes line is an old fashioned sort of thing, but it speaks to me of slow thoughtful living, and that is what I want.

Even if it does mean I have to toss a few things in the dryer with a damp towel for 10 minutes, or (shudders) iron.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Knitting happens in chilly morning air.

A lot of knitting happens when I feel chilly. I don't feel horrendously chilly in winter when the furnace does a fine job of keeping me warm, but Summer is the season of the big chill.

By mid May, we turn the furnace off to conserve energy. Makes sense really both fiscally and environmentally, but 10 degrees in the house is still cold. I wear more layers now than I do most of the winter. These layers need to be peel-able at a moments notice so that when you step on the sunny back deck you can adjust the layers you wear instantly. The kitchen can be a trail of discarded clothing by the end of the day. Each time I go back down to the study, I layer up again. There have been times in the years that have gone by, when we sit outside till we are too hot, and then we come inside and sit here till we are too cold. Even though it is painfully cold, I'll try to remember those times, because they are the times where we console ourselves that at least we have some place cool we can go.

This entire weekend was chilly. Nice outside, but not quite sunny enough to warm up the house. So what happens when it is chilly? I knit. This is where I was Friday, just at the end of the first round of increases,
And here I am today, just near the end of the lace rounds. I think I have 3 pattern repeats left to go. Maybe 2. I'll see when I get just a little longer. The capelet has remained wonderfully light and airy and I have been thinking a lot about how to finish it off. I'm thinking of doing a nice hemmed bottom, and possibly doing a good sturdy i-cord edging for the front edges, with ties of I cord for closures. Or not. I'm waffling. There are so many choices. This is a perfect marriage of needles and yarn (Alpaca Peru and Addi Turbo Lace needles) and pattern (Wrap Style).

SS is home with her broken leg and is being cared for by son1, with his broken leg and vast experience. I'm going to see if I can con their feet into some photos for posterity. I expect they will both learn a lot. One side is going to learn better understanding of living with injury and the other is going to learn that yes, you can too do your own laundry if you have a broken leg.