Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Babies all over the place

My niece had twin boys just the other day and a nephew and his wife are due in late October and a very good friend is going to be a grandma for the first time in early November. (or is my nephew in November and my friend's daughter in October)

It seems like babies are leaking out all over the place. Like all babies this 'batch' is going to charm the pants off anyone who meets them, and I have decided I am going to make something for all of them. In my usual fashion I have probably gone overboard. I have enough yarn for a fleet of babies, a flotilla of babies.

For the wee boys already arrived, I am going to make little sleeping bags. The bags will be a white crumpled griddle stitch pattern with stripes of fair isle like patterns in a vibrant green, turquoise and purple. There may be some yellow too. We shall see. I'm going to use one of the fair isle like patterns used in the sweaters in Jane Snedden Peever's More Crocheted Aran Sweaters.

Jane has done a wonderful job of translating a way of thinking into crochet, in this case using narrow bands of colour and stitch designs to advantage. The design I am going to use is a 4 colour design, that seems to make little star shapes across the work. If I end up using 5 colours, I'll alternate white and yellow based pattern sections (there will be at least 3 pattern repeats of colour).

There are times when it is nice to know that the baby can't kick off his blankets and the little sleeping bags work really well. In addition, considering the amount of yarn I have, there will probably be knitted sweaters. Something simple, like the kimono sweater pattern, I think. If there is still enough yarn, they are getting hats and socks too. There is a possibility that their big brothers will be getting mittens in coordinating colours. Did I mention I have a lot of yarn?

The later arrivals, who are said to be girls, are going to start with these colours. This is the yarn for their sweaters, but they will also get the little sleeping bags with trims in pink, yellow and purple (or green, depending on what I have in stock at the time.)

I am still working on SS sweater, and I have socks ongoing constantly, but all fall I have been waiting to find out if these first two little ones were boy or girl.

Its nice to finally be going in the right direction.

Monday, 29 September 2008

This weekend was all about fixing things. The Big Fabel socks I made for Mr. Needles were just too long. (shown here during initial construction)I used the same foot length calculation as I do for peasant heels, inserting the foot at 2 1/4 inches shorter than foot length. Using the Lucy Neatby garter stitch heel, I found I really need to go just a bit shorter. To make his socks fit right we went to 2 3/4 inches shorter than his foot.

To do the fix the down and dirty way, I cut off the toes, ripped back to the right place and re-worked a new toe with the unraveled yarn. It worked well, and he now has a really good fitting pair of socks. Except he says they are too loose in his calf. ... ... sigh. Next pair...

Mine look and fit splendid. One down, one to go, though it is half done too. One of the nicest things about Big Fabel is that it is big. You can make a pair in a very short period of time.

When my hands were tired of socks, I wound some of my hand dyed yarn into a ball (and then rewound it because the first winding was too tight), and began to play with it.

The colours come out a little more orange on screen than in life. The orange parts are actually a soft peach. It is a potpourri of rose, a softer rose, the peach tones and a vibrant russet. It may seem like it shouldn't work, but it sort of does.

This bit of knitting is just a sample, not the final form. I think I'm going to knit some sort of slip stitch pattern with it. The slip stitches should soften any too strong combinations, and make it be one harmonious whole. The slip stitch idea comes directly from the Eye of Partridge Stitch Shawl from Not Another Knit Blog. It is a very interesting combination.

Eeeep, it is 7:20 and I have to get a move on it. There is laundry to do before it is possible to head off to work. Don't you just hate it when the real world interferes with fun?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Fluff and Nonsense.

I do yarn things for a lot of reasons and one of them is to ease a weary soul. When things get me down, if I crochet and knit, I come away with a clearer focus of what to do next. There are a lot of things happening in the world right now that we have little control over and the ride may be bumpy for some of us. If you are worried, I just want to say, we will get through, we will survive.

I'm not saying it is going to be easy. I'm not saying our lives are going to continue on in the same way, I'm saying we will get by and we will survive. One way or another. It is a road I have traveled on before, and you can focus on the grim stuff, or you can focus on the good things you see along the way. I simply choose to focus on the good.

And on that note, I had a fun day yesterday. I felt like looking at books yesterday morning, and came across a herringbone pattern. I decided to knit a scarf using the pattern and went to the stash and picked up two balls of Patons SWS soy wool blend. I never thought much about the balance of the pattern. I assumed I would have a nice ordinary scarf with an interesting pattern.

I do have an interesting pattern but the finished scarf is not at all ordinary.

Pinned out, it's a nice design. Unpinned it is splendid, twisting in a long and lovely spiral. The stitches flow in a strong bias while forming this herringbone stitch, and from the third row, the fabric want to be angles. Once the scarf was a foot long, it started to reveal its inner soul and twist into the spiral.

I could fight it with a good stiff blocking but I'd rather just enjoy what is there.

I have a lovely new spiral scarf.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Morning Majesty

Minutes after leaving my house yesterday, I encountered a moose. Not a close encounter, thankfully. I stopped and watched him for a while and was reminded how very lucky I am.

He was a tall thing. Gangly is the only word fit to describe him. He was long boney legs and angled knees, topped by a body that seemed small, with a neck that while heavy, looked out of kilter with his big broad nose. His antlers were the smallest set of palmate ends tacked onto too long branches sprouting from the side of his head. He carried the unfortunate air of being made of left over parts.

For all his gawkiness, he moved with grace. Each long legged step landed so gracefully on the grass, so daintily. Though he looked as if he was built in several different scales, his slow movements were pure ballet dancer, long legs artfully pointed and poised...till he realized I was a car, and started to run. Then he looked like he didn't quite know where in space and time his knees and hoofs were.

If I tried to describe him as music, he was like an orchestra tuning up, all the parts are there, but the notes start and end in different places. Just like an orchestra tuning up, I could see through the dissonance, and knew how magnificent he will be. He was a wild kind of majesty.

He crossed the road, and used those impossibly long legs to step up out of the ditch and blended silently into the forest.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Silly little things.

After knitting on the Big Fabel socks for a while, I found my hands getting sore. Well, not sore really, just tired. It is entirely possible the needles I am using are a wee bit small for the yarn. They are a 3.25 mm needles, and the resulting fabric is good and firm, but there is a point where firm becomes wrong. I'll knit a little more, but if it doesn't get to be fun soon, I'll pull them off and restart the socks on 4mm needles.

Considering the many other socks in my bag, one might assume that I picked up another sock. Nope. Just before leaving, a box of perilously piled patterns fell off a table, and out popped a pattern for some beer bottle cozies. I was instantly inspired and grabbed a bag of sock yarn odds and ends to work with. This happened. The beer bottle cozy pattern was knit in pieces and sewn together but it seemed to me this would be better worked top down with minimal sewing. The result fits a beer, the scale is almost right, and though it has problems in the arm areas, I'll get it worked out. I can see some truly fun knitting in my future. Silly little things.

While attempting to find the pattern that inspired me for proper attribution, I found these cozies. If you don't know what to knit this year for holiday gifts, consider cozies. Every man in your life who drinks beer could probably use beer cozies, every tea tippler needs a pot cozy. There are gems out there. I'll highlight some of the seriously silly and good basics to get you started.

cozy 1

cozy 2

which isn't a cozy but made me laugh

cozy 4, worthy for the name if nothing else

cozy 5

the master of all cozy collection

Never did find the cozy pattern I was inspired by but I can tell you I saw it via Shut Up I'm Counting (link on the sidebar)

Let your silly knitter out for a romp. Be cozy.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The simple life.

In order to make it to knitting group, I have to go to do old work really early. I hope to be able to knit while I contemplate old work.

Thankfully I have several socks on the go. The first set of Big Fabel socks are done and went into wear before I could get a picture, but it is OK, the second is on the needles. I have a black gift pair just past the toes so I can do lots of easy knitting and I have a third simple set of afterthought blanks in the bag just in case I run out simple knitting on the first two.

Lots of good simple knitting to keep me focused on what is real and true in life.

Writing that down, it strikes me that this is a strange way to look at the world, that socks are a metaphor for what is important in my life. Well socks and legumes (but legumes are another story) if you must know.

Socks are so basic, so needed here when it is cold. They are an article of clothing you would be hard pressed to go without in some form or other.

Socks are warmth and comfort in cold times.

Socks (and legumes) mean providing what is necessary to those I love, giving them the pleasure of ease and comfort, and having a wee bit of fun doing it.

Spiffy self patterning sock yarn is just the gravy of my life.

(which is how legumes tie into socks, but it still is another story)

Monday, 22 September 2008

Mixed bags

Today is what I would call a mixed bag.

First off, Happy Birthday to son 3. My early fall baby, born in a September snowstorm. I'll call you later.

And then, most exciting. I underspun wool!

I don't know if this is really underspun or not. I've never seen well spun wool in singles on the bobbin. What I do know is that my usual spinning is 1000 twists per inch. It has been so tight that between the orfice and the bobbin, there would be little twistlets forming on the yarn. Right at the top of the picture, you can see one twistlet, though that does look like where I want to get after plying, this was purposefully underspun to learn control. All the weight in the base works. Yippeee.

Next up, some really nice yarn from Berocco, Alpaca Ultra Fine. I suppose it could be a sock yarn, it does have 30% nylon in it, but it is so very very nice to feel and its colour is so deeply cherry that it is going to be a shawl for me. I am in the deciding stage for a pattern right now. It is a strong coloured yarn, and I want to play that up. I am considering Agatha (available as a Ravelry download) which I never did get to yet. I think it would make a beautiful Agatha.

And next, if there are earthy delights in fall, surely it includes these. Photos by Mr. Needles

Who wouldn't find fall the loveliest of seasons with these colours around?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Why should this matter on a blog that is about needles and string? Ask a silly question....

Knit like a Pirate Bag

Knit Like a Pirate, the website

She's got hats, she has a great bag, she has mittens. She has a rogues gallery of splendid fun.

There are links to other great piratical things. Like Knitting JuJu's Jollyfish Hat and a link to piratical argyle and well so much more fun.

Click all the links, let out your inner pirate, and sail the seas of your imagination and have a little fun.



Thursday, 18 September 2008

Searching for the right heel.

I'm sort of picky. I like things to look right together. This shows up in my living room where things look just a little too much like someone went all HGTV, with a dash of Martha on top. Of course this is my living room. That is what is under the books, the movie pile, the general mail we haven't dealt with yet, and dust, but gosh darn it under the stuff, it looks pretty good if I do say so myself.

With socks, I like the heel to look right. Some socks wouldn't look right to me with an afterthought heel. Some socks need a heel that carries the look of the lacy uppers. Some socks, the patterning of the heel is part of the design.

I know the Big Fabel socks are just a simple plain sock, but the scale and size of the yarn and their sturdy purpose made me decide this was a good time to go looking for a good sturdy and most of all simple short row heel heel.

I went just a little overboard looking for the perfect heel. I searched for a few hours, I tried a couple of kinds of heels, I used a friends no wrap heel, I thought about doing Maia's Toe Up Gussetted Heel. I worked a heel on this sock at least 5 times doing various short row techniques, and being a picky sort wasn't satisfied with any of them.

This morning, reading more short row heel stuff, I came across Lucy Neatby's short row heel. I was looking at it and thinking, this is a heel I already know. I've put it aside because it makes a strong plain sturdy heel.

That is when it struck me. This is a workmanlike heavy yarn. What this yarn really needs is a workmanlike heavy heel...

D'uoh. I really should wear a dunce cap while I finish knitting these socks and I probably need just a little more coffee to wake up my brain.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Found 20 pounds

All summer, I have been hiding out at home and haven't gone to any of the knitting groups around the city. In was part sloth, but there was that wee gas price issue too. The one I usually went to was on the northwest side of the city and I live a fair ways out of the city on the eastern side. It was biting into the yarn budget and that was unacceptable.

Yes I turfed knitters for yarn, but I am sure you understand when I tell you that weekly attendance was costing an extra tank of gas a month.

There are a couple of us from the east side who are going to try to meet on Tuesday afternoon at a place called Cafe Haven at 1 p.m., so if any of you should be in our fair city some Tuesday, you can join us to knit and talk, and talk about how you are enjoying your Mrs. Beeton's and not a soul is going to look at you crooked. (Thanks Mo. It is just so darn true)

We met for the first time yesterday, and it was really nice to see everyone. We had a few of our old west side knitting friends show up to check out the new digs. It was really great to have such a nice large group knitting together.

For those who can't make it to an afternoon group, we are going to try to set one up Wednesday evenings as well. Location is not set, but we are working on that.

After a lovely afternoon, I came home to find 20 pounds sitting there just waiting for me. No sadly it was not missing from my hips and it was, yes, hard to believe, an additional 20 pounds I was looking for.

This is my Babe Spinning Wheel. Its not a really pretty thing, but it works. One of the things that Nels, the maker said to me when we were discussing my purchase was that a lot of people like to add some weight to the base.

I found that I could only learn so much before the light weight of the wheel started to affect it performance. The obvious thing was to add weight, hence the 20 pounds. What will fit inside the tube without impeding the lazy kates along the side of the wheel, and can be taken out of the base should I ever need to take the wheel out and about. Since all things technical is Mr. Needles department, I asked him to think about it.

He thought ball bearings, or something small like that would work just right. Ball bearings, being a precision made item proved a little pricey. Lead shot provided the answer. Lead is no longer legal for game hunting in Canada but can still be found at gun ranges. We picked up a supply, filled up the open base, and reassembled the spinning wheel.

It's made a huge difference. It is like working with a brand new wheel and I can see the improvement in my work already. I can feel the wheel and can treadle much slower without having the wheel fall into my lap. I was able to control the starts and stops much more effectively, and when I had to add fibre, the changeover was much more smooth. I wasn't fighting the wheel, I was working with it.

I just might get the hang of this spinning thing yet.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Waylaid by Ike.

I'm late posting today because I have been waylaid by Ike.

A writer I enjoy reading, sat through Ike in Galveston. Check out the Washington Post and anything by Achenbach. To quote: "When there's no running water, life gets dirty fast. Humans in the wild are not an elegant species." (WaPo.com, Achenbach, J.) Darn fine work, sir. Darn fine.

I'll take my -40 C over the big storms. Usually we still have some kind of heat and shelter, and we still have gas for hot water when its -40. I'll try to remind myself of this when it is next that cold. When it is -40 and you are in it with no escape, its much harder to convince oneself that you have it good.

Moving along to cold weather clothing, I was taking out a shipment of Big Fabel yesterday at the store. Neat yarn. It is going to make a seriously good heavy sock, but I've got another colour and I think I'm going to see how that one works up with a larger needles and a longer series of stitches.

It has been suggested that I work up some hunting gloves and I might. Mr. Needles observed not so casually, that if this is supposed to imitate camoflauge, I'd have to use two strands so the colours were more varied. He commented, "there are no stripes in camo", and he is correct. I would have to use two balls to make good gloves, or mittens. I'm not going to worry for socks. His socks are going to be in his boots and don't really need to be camo. ( There is a really nice red colour and a colourway featuring a brilliant turquoise. Whaddya think? Good hunting socks?)

Meanwhile, I'll just sit back and play with this interesting yarn, and remember why I like sock yarns that do something unexpected.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Red Things

Whooosh. the weekend goes by and my contemplation of red things hasn't even begun. Which is OK, because this has.

'This' is Parul, a seriously fine scarf designed to take advantage of every inch of whatever 3 skeins of really fine yarn you have. I'm using the bit of mohair found in the cleaning of the deep archives last week, 2 balls and most of a third.

This nifty little design comes to us from the mathematical mind of my friend That Logan Chick, and is available as a Ravelry download. The interesting thing about this unusually crocheted design is design is that if you worked it in a worsted weight yarn, you need 3 balls. If you work it in a sport weight yarn, you need 3 balls. If you work it in a laceweight... Well. Maybe not 3 balls of laceweight, but then again, why not. Think of the dainty lacy thing you would have ( I may have to plan on doing this)

The original is made from Berocco Seduce in the Rye colourway, one of her tester crocheters worked it in Seduce in Cinnibar, the other tester in Filtes King Kikki. It is working wonderfully well in the mohair, and I did some practise stitching with a small bit of Silk Garden in brilliant greens and gold, and the design looks great in that too. Its is an everything sort of design, for every kind of yarn.

Its intuitive to work. Once you understand the basics of the design, and the scarf just moves along. Nice and speedy and very, very neatly done.

This is That Logan Chick's second published design, and I can't wait to see where she goes from here. Bravo, Chick. Bravo.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Exciting times

Summer is over. That is certain now. The tomatoes have been picked, the plants are pulled, the trees are turning. We don't have the brilliant array of colours that the eastern part of the continent does. If you were in North America for fall, you'd definitely want to be in the east in the fall. Out west, it is different. Out west we are simpler, more subtle. We are yellow.

Most of the deciduous trees out there have yellow leaves. I've often wondered if the reason for this is that most of the trees out here are species of shallow rooted trees. Yellow though we may be, there is a huge variety of yellows. Each tree species is just a wee bit different, in the same way that every leaf has tiny variations of colour. There is rich gold, there is pale soft gold, there is gold so gold you'd like to take it to the bank.

The real fall colour here in the west comes from the underbrush. Our underbrush has all the glory. The sarsaparilla goes a particular shade of soft red gold. The wild roses, oh my the rosebushes turn cardinal red, and the rose hips lay a ripe orange before it. The fireweed stands in flames against the sea of golden grasses. The ivy that I have been trying to get rid of for years seduces me once again, with its burgundy sangria.

I surprised someone the other day by wearing red. Up till now they had only seem me in blues and greens. My heart lies with red, pure reds and every red in between. When I was a kid, my dad sometimes coloured with me, and he always said red was swell. He was teasing and messing with my mind, but red became my favourite colour.

It comes to mind that I have only 2 reds in the deep yarn archives. I'd wonder how I am going to fix that but I work in a yarn store. I can't think of anywhere better to solve my little problem.

If I was a really good blogger, I'd have pictures of all these reds, but the pictures remain to be taken. That's the plan for the weekend.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

I should be knitting a sweater.

I really could use some more socks, but all I can think about is lace. I really really should be cleaning my house, all I can think about is lace. I should be knitting a sweater, the one for SS, but since I found that measly bit of mohair,sigh... all I can think about is lace.

So guess what I am going to do? Yes, I'm giving in to mad impulses, and am going to find a way to make a nice little lacy scarf out of about 350 m of gorgeous red mohair. It is going to have a knitted on border. I enjoyed doing that on the Truly Tashas shawl, I enjoyed miles of i-cord on the capelet so I figure, I'm game to do it again.

I'm seriously thinking of one of the designs from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. (check out Grupmerina's blog for a really great post from when the book was first released) Its centre is a simple faggoting, and the border is a narrow, simple, toothy lace. The simplicity of the faggoting ought to be exactly right for the glorious red mohair's size (not super fine) and body. The simplicity of the border will match both the yarn and the faggoting. Its going to be a project where the yarn is going to be the show off, just in a simple quiet way.

Victorian Lace? Well remember that little hole I fell into...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Deep Archives

As the weather turns cooler and the calendar turns to September, I am driven by some deep inner urge to clean corners and cupboards. I have been unusually successful in quashing this feeling the past number of years as I turned an empty bedroom into a study and from study into yarn haven. I'd forgotten just how deep the deep archives were.

The deep archives are some deep cabinets Mr. Needles built as we were gussying up the family room. The cabinets are approximately 3 feet deep by 2 feet by 2 feet. There is a lot of storage behind those tidy knotty pine doors. I could have sworn I took out all the yarn a few years ago, but it seems not. Three of these cubes still contained yarn.

Once the old catalogues and magazines were cleaned out, and the yarn pile was sorted, I was left with this.The photo does not do it justice. The pool table is 4 x 8 feet and the pile of various and sundry stashed items covers 1/3 of the table, piled like this, right across. As you can see, most of the yarn is your basic big bag o' yarn from purveyors of ordinary acrylic. Some of it comes from my mother-in-law's stash as she became too infirm to do hand work, but most of it was for projects which were never made. I've done many afghans over the years and any a number of thick crocheted aran sweaters to wear in my former place of work.

Even the deepest darkest archives can hide special things. Hidden among the general miasma of inexpensive acrylic, there were some things I forgot I ever had.

The first find was a nice little book on sewing tips I had forgotten about. I probably could have used it. (see photo above)

Then there was a cross stitch duck. I wondered where this had gone off to. It was from a pair of pieces I wanted to do for the family room, suited to our warm golden pine, and rich green walls. It will sadly, not be completed. There are too many other nice things I want to embroider before my days are done and way too much knitting to do. I might turn it into pillow topper though. Waste not when you put all the time into a project. Next, I found a bag of crochet cotton and lace.Does anybody still makeParadise Collector Doll outfits? (They have some interesting new stuff on their website. New bags and beaded fancies to make) There was a time, in my house of men, where I really wanted to make some of these fancy dresses for display. Even then I had a vision of a study where all my girlish impulses could hang out, where ruffles would rule and pillows would be scattered gracefully on everything. I started a project and found to my dismay, that working with black crochet cotton is an exercise in the un-fun.

I found good quality acrylic in one of my favourite colours. There is enough of it to do a little something, but I have no idea what.There was some seriously fine dk weight cotton. There isn't enough of either yarn to do anything serious with, but as part of a tapestry crochet project, its going to be fantastic. (Not that I have any tapestry crochet planned, but you never know) And from the mists of time, from the depths of history, some deep cherry red mohair. I have done a few mohair things in my time, and its not my favourite fibre, but even now, I find can't resist the colour (its a much deeper cheery red than the photo shows)

2 and a half balls of red beauty. sigh...

I had to put it under covers to stop myself from petting it all night. I already have plans for a nice simple lacy scarf to show off it loveliness.

We have lived in this house for 15 years, and cleaning the rest of the 'deep archives' is not going to be easy. I don't think there are any more treats scattered in the dark corners, just bits and pieces of things I have not used in a decade or more. But you never know. Its an adventure.

And if I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll believe it.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Good yarns but not the kind with strings.

I came across some books the other day, and well, I fell down a little hole.I keep hoping I can avoid that hole, and one day soon, I'm sure I will be able to make it to the library to see what they have rather than to buy books all the time, just not yet. I have a couple of nice new books to talk about. Some are about lace, some are books filled with designs, some are new to me stitch dictionaries. I'll write about those another day, because today, no matter what else I want to write about, the real story I want to tell is about one of the authors. Today it seems, I want to talk about Ann Budd.

I'm not familiar with her as an editor at Interweave Knits. I found knitting after Eunny Jang took over the role (and Eunny is doing a wonderful job). I'm familiar with Ann Budd as a writer of things I need to know.

I've had The Knitter's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements in my carry along bag for a long time. I've had her Crocheter's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements even longer. The only quibble I have with either of these is that the crochet guide is woefully short of sweater information. I could have used that. These little leaflets are an excellent resource.

The next time I came across Ann Budd was in my much beloved copy of Wrap Style. I have her Grand Plan Capelet on my needles (still, big WIP needing finishing) and absolutely love the way she built the pattern to work with you rather than you working it. It was absolutely meant to customise size, yarn gauge, and whatever trims, collars, and lacy bits you wanted to incorporate. It was as if she was giving me the challenge to get out there and flesh in the project all by myself on a skeleton, a framework she sets out.

I noticed Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns tucked in the bookcase with the extra copies at the store a while ago, and recently purchased it. Sure I know I can find basic stuff on the Internet these days, but what about when I am in the mountains, and don't have a connection? With its collection of mitts, gloves, hats, vests, and even a basic sweater, I can knit whatever I need without a whole lot of thinking.

I knew Ann had a book of sweater patterns out there with the same fine framework and I came across it the other day at Needle Arts Bookshop. Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns is everything I hoped for and more.

Good basic frames for several different kinds of sweaters, in particular a seamless yoke framework that I am going to use sometime this fall for a sweater for Mr. Needles. The raglan plan is going to stand me in good stead if I ever want to up-size that seriously fine Tangled Yoke Cardigan from IK FAll 2007. Its going to help me when I rip back the Picovoli Cardigan and make it small enough to fit my very tiny daughter-in-law(4 inches extra when the fit should be a mild negative ease. I am heartbroken. Totally and absolutely heartbroken, even though turning it into a cardigan went really really well. It just doesn't fit my intended knittee.).

Maybe one day I'll know exactly the sizes I need for a hat for me, or mittens for a child, or a sweater for those closest to me but right now, its all new territory. I wish I could think like Elizabeth Zimmermann, and could figure it out all on my own. I wish I could just sit down and knit up a sweater, starting with just the gauge of a yarn on the needles and a shape in my head. Sometimes I just don't have the strength, the gumption to stand on my own two feet, much less think about these things. Sometimes, all that thinking and figuring sleeves, and armscyes, is more than I can do and trying only leads to disasters.

I am going to play it a little bit safe to get the knits I want, but I have few illusions that I can design. The brain I was gifted with at birth is not that kind of brain. I think that given good bones, I can choose colours, yarns and custom touches that will combine in a pleasing way. I don't design but I can style.

Bless you Ann, for saving me from myself. Keep em coming.

Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns - Treble Crochet**

Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns - Double Crochet

Wrap Style - Treble Crochet

A Knitter's Guide to Yarn Requirments - Double Crochet

A Crocheter's Guide to Yarn Requirments - Half Double Crochet

**See the bottom of the blog for what my ratings mean.

Monday, 8 September 2008

When you go camping in the mountains

the very first thing you do is go over the list of things you forgot. Like the time I forgot my shoes, and found out at the first pit stop. Like this time when I forgot my coat. If you are camping in the mountains in September, the one thing you really do not want to forget is a coat.

Our supply stop on this trip included Walmarts fabric section. It was meant to be. The darn things had my name on it. The earth was moving in mysterious ways, because this Walmart had all sorts of other interesting things. When mysterious forces are at play, it is best to just go with it, so I picked up some of those too. None of my local Walmarts have ever carried dpns in small mm sizes. It was meant to be.

I put all those things to use, and made myself a campfire poncho. It was a little rough around the edges, but it did the trick.I'll refine it a little, but then it is going to stay in the van and become the 'oops' weather gear. (and yes, I have now heard enough little Red Riding Hood jokes to last me a lifetime. Who knew Mr. Needles knew so many silly things)

Stopping for extra gear was a smart idea. The weather was generally cool and damp. It rained just one day, but the spectre of rain was everpresent in the gray haze clinging to the mountain valleys. There were no long views this trip. One morning, there was enough sun to sit in for a spell, so long as I was prepared to pick up and chase it aound. Between shade from tall trees, and cloud patches, the sun was in short supply even then.

It made for a lot of time tending the fire and sitting in its warm aura under the tarps. The upside, there was very good knitting time. Though I did not get everything done that I had planned, I was pleased. (No one in their right minds could knit up all the yarn I took along, but then I have never claimed to be in my right mind when it comes to yarn.)

One crocheted pair for the heavy chill of winter.One knitted pair for immediate use.
I had really hoped to get the heels done in at least 2 of the pairs of sock blanks, but no go. I'll tend to that this week.

I could have done it yesterday, but after the the socks, I just needed something a little different. I took out the Misti Alpaca Suri Silk I had along camping and started a really nice little scarf. The stitch is an old Shetland knitting stitch, called Mrs. Hunter's stitch. I choose it from the Encycopedia of Stitchery but it seems to me Mrs. Hunter's is in one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries too.Most of my knitting time yesterday was spent working on writing up the pattern for the little project for the store. To check my work, I knit a sample checking if the stitch counts and yarn usage was right.

My original version of the project is at the store, and this second one is going to good use. It will be absolutely perfect for Mr. Needles's mom for Christmas. With her soft white hair and the blue and white scheme of the collar, I know she will look lovely. As soon as the store puts up photos, I'll post some here too.

Some people might save some of these happenings for another day, but not me. All that knitting time, meant I had a lot of time to think about knitting (and a few other things, but mostly knitting).

I could talk knitting and yarn for decades without needing to think much. Adding in all this thinking time...It could get scary.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Up in the mountains

I am up in the mountains right now. With any luck at all, I will not be freezing my buns off. If you came to visit my campfire, this is what you would see.

Beyond a doubt there will be some wet cold weather, but it still is one of the loveliest places I know.


No computer in the high country. These last few posts were made using Bloggers nifty schedule feature. A small cheat, I know. there is one a.m. radio band that comes in on good days, but otherwise you are out of reach.

Now that I am home, I can tell you that the sky up there this week was nothing like the sky in the photos (Mr. Needles photos). It was gray with frequent episodes of chilly mists, and rain, though under our tarps with a cheery fire, it was absolutely breathtaking. Even better, knitting happened. Reading happened. Afternoon naps happened. Life is very good.

Friday, 5 September 2008

More things to think about

A while ago a friend sent me a really great book, Arctic Lace. I made that really nice series of scarves from it.

At the same time she sent some yarn. This is a special yarn, and she knows me well, it is Alpaca. And Silk. I cannot tell a lie, this is, of all the yarns I have the loveliest.If I am in the mood to fondle yarns, this is the one I pick up, and play with. Its vari-coloured heart is going to demand something wonderful. Simple and wonderful.

My search to know lace begins with this yarn.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Richness of Fall Knitting Books

These are just a few of the great new books coming out this fall.

Free-Range Knitter due out this October.

Knitted Lace of Eastonia due out November.

Knits for Bears to Wear due out November.

And there are more. Check out the Needle Arts Bookshop if you can't locate them at your local LYS.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Sock Days

The van is almost packed, only clothes left to go, and they are still in the dryer (but it is 4 a.m. so I figure I have a few hours). I packed the yarn, books and DVDs first. I have my priorities straight.

Sitting there in front of the sock yarn stash, and trying to decide which yarns to take was tough. There is a lot of good stuff there. I took a selection of Kroy sock yarns.
There are a couple of multi colours in there, and one plain black, and a skein of cream for toes and heels so I can get a pair of shorties out of 1 ball of brightly coloured yarns.

Then there is this really nice forest green Sisu. This is a yarn that I have not worked with before. I think it came from River City Yarns, but boy oh boy, I don't remember. It's been mine for a while. I can't wait to see what this yarn does.

This brilliantly coloured STR, colourway called Lover's Leap hit the bag for a little colour relief.
I tossed in a really nice striping Regia in warm golds, green and rich blues in there too, but I have no photos of it.

This is a nutty amount of yarn for a trip of just a few days, but the days are long, and there is much of mother earth to listen too. While I listen, and meditate, I knit. In a perfect world, I'd take more along, but Mr. Needles, my personal arbiter of sane quantities of yarn, only lets me take one bag of knitting along to the mountains.

Hey wait a minute. I can take my spindle spinning along! (No, no. Bad needles. You want socks more than you want yarn. Focus on socks or your feet will be cold all winter)

For a little relief I have a tapestry crocheted scarf I wanted to complete before the fall, but did not get to. It's out of the most delightfully rich green Misti Alpaca Suri Silk, yet another of Misti Alpaca's yarns that caress your hands as you work.

And when those other things have frustrated me beyond belief, I have along the blue top (the yarn is GGH Domino by the way) to just plain old knit and purl on, no frills, for another 15 inches till I get to the yoke shaping.

I have a couple of new books, the Harmony Guides stitch dictionaries, my copy of Crocheted Socks!: 16 Fun-To-Stitch Patterns, for the crocheted socks I want for deep cold days, and one old one, a very old Good Housekeeping book I thought I blogged about a while ago, but could not find to link to. I've never really read it decently, and I know that there are some good basic patterns in it for baby goods and socks and sweaters. I tossed in Knitter's Almanac too, just in case.

Along with all the knitting I have a couple of regular books, Year of Wonders and People of the Book (a reread - good book) by Geraldine Brooks, a Tom Clancy and an Agatha Christie. Good comfortable reading, some of it read many times, some of it read only once before, and some of it brand spanking new.

And finally ever since the March of the Penguins summer, I choose the DVDs a little more carefully, to include some action and adventure as well as scenery. National Treasure, Bee Movie, and I don't recall what else I stuck in there, but it is sure to be rousing, and will keep your attention even under the most heinous high mountain circumstances. At this time of year, a skiff of snow is not uncommon up there, and wet rain is very very possible.

Though we dress warmly, and set up all kids of things outside to stay dry and warm under, around, through, there are times when you just get chilled. Its really really nice to have the van to slip off to. I have always appreciated its fridge and food storage, but its at times like these I appreciate its furnace.

So, I am off to the high country for a few days, and will see everyone when I get back.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Interesting Yarn

A while ago I came across the most interesting yarn at the yarn store. It was a yarn from Lang called Oasis. Its more of a novelty yarn than anything else, but like all things, it has its place. Never diss a yarn. It may be just the thing you need one day. Bits of novelty yarn - good. Full novelty yarn - bad is my mantra.

The moment I saw Oasis, I knew I needed it. It was exactly right to go alongside a rather dour green I had in my stash. It was a bit too olive for my tastes. The colours of the Oasis lift the dourness from the green and like the layers of an onion, would reveal the green heart of this very nice Peruvian Highland yarn.

Strangely enough, in this photo, the green has gone brown, though the same green in the Oasis shows true. The swatch is for a sweater I have in the deep planning stages. I am thinking about running cables along the colour changes (not my idea, I first saw the idea decades ago in a Woman's Day publication or some such) on the front with everything else being the plain and simple green.

I know the goal of the project, but to get it right, I have to think about the scale of the stripes. Too wide and the novelty yarn will take over the front, and to narrow, and the novelty yarn will look out of place. The cable has to be the right scale too. The cable crosses have to flow into the other yarn like water. If the cable is too wide, the effect feels out of place. Balanced order is what I am after, giving each yarn its due.

But am I working on that?

Nope. I am working on this. I eyed this yarn for a different top, a cute little garter stitch thing that would have shown off this boucle yarn really really well. With its strong garter stitch ridges running horizontally, the top did not look good on me, so I opted to give this plain Jane capped sleeve top with an interesting construction a try instead.

We are off t0 the mountains later this week, and this little top was meant to be campfire knitting. I seem to be getting a lot done on it, so maybe by the time I get to the campfire, I will be sick of it. Never fear. There are socks to be knit, and socks are always great campfire knitting.

Sock season has suddenly appeared in all its glory. Our first frost is imminent and regular frosty nights are mere weeks away. Sock season is here and I need more pairs. The entire sock blank drawer is coming along. There will be yarn along for a couple more sets of shortie sock blanks and with luck, all these socks will be well heeled footwear when I get home again.

For good measure, I am going to take along some yarn strictly for crocheted socks. Full winter is going to need their thick impenetrable warmth.