Friday, 31 October 2008

The stupid things we do.

I had a class scheduled yesterday with Fiona Ellis. I slept right through it.

I woke in the morning feeling sluggish, to the point that I stayed in bed until 6 a.m. (dreadfully late) and I had a feeling that I could have slept much later. When I did get up I knit for a couple hours, but by 10 a.m. I was snoozing in my chair. I could hardly stay awake, I had a dull throbbing headache, so I crawled onto the couch and went to sleep, which is when I slept right through the start time of my course. I did wake for bits and pieces through the day, I did have a lucid moment or two, but not one in which time or date registered.

Mr. Needles came home and made dinner for himself, and I called the shop to let them know I was alive and dreadfully sorry that I missed the workshop. After that, I went straight to bed, where I slept the evening away. I slept undisturbed through the night, and right up till the first alarm went off this morning. Sleeping through the night undisturbed, never happens to me. Ever.

This morning I woke hale and hearty and feel pretty darn good. Who wouldn't with all the sleeping I did. I think this was my version of the flu-like thing Mr. Needles had suffered from for most of the week. I have been fighting off something for the last couple of weeks with the help of Cold FX, and maybe I just finally succumbed. Either way, I hope it is over.

All in all, its probably a good thing I did not go to the workshop last night. I'd likely have given the bug to everyone around me, and what is the good of that.

Somewhere in my life, I will hope for the opportunity of attending another one of her workshops. For now, I will just bemoan my untutored mind.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Way back in the mists of time, when I hoped to know knitting, I probably read some articles by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I bought a lot of knitting magazines back then. Though I was deeply inspired by all I found, but I was not ready to understand. I got lost along the way and only now, when I most needed salvation did I discover knitting and Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I love her no nonsense approach. I love that she encourages you to make knitting come not just from your hands and a pattern on a page, but from your head and your heart. I love that she wants us, teaches us to take ownership of our knitting, to walk away from what we did yesterday and learn and explore what else there is. I am completely overcome by her sense of the adventure of knitting, by her exploration of simple things that in the end, make grand statements.

Her way of looking at knitting suits the kind life I am trying to build. Sensible, simple, unburdened by the excess of modern living, by the demands and overload of technology. Like Elizabeth and knitting, I'll keep and use the sensible stuff like the Internet and a good postal service, but I am in charge of my connection to the world, technology isn't in charge of me. No running off to get the latest 'i' thingy just because it is out there. I'm looking for balance and harmony with the air and water and land. Elizabeth inspires me to take ownership not just of my knitting but of my approach to life.

I already had the Knitters Almanac and Knitting Workshop and learned much. I craved more, so I ordered the rest of her books from the store, and today I am the proud owner of Knitting Around, The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting Without Tears.

I am not going to review them. No way will I ever know enough to do that. I will be inspired by them, will continue to explore my knitting and my life in these books. I don't think I've even scratched the surface of the wisdom within.

Elizabeth Zimmermann started out just trying to change the way people looked at knitting. What she ended up doing was changing the way people looked at life.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Middle

In the beginning of a project, there is a flush of new, of hope and delight in something just a little different. At the end, there is the thrill of success and completion and sometimes, just utter joy that you never have to do another stitch of that particular project.

It occurred to me this morning, as I was picking up my work, that I am in the middle of almost every project.

The sweater might be seen to be just past the middle. I have several pairs of socks that are definitely in the middle. No pictures of these. They are just not that inspiring.

There is the first of the Christmas knitting that is right there in the middle. T

here is a pair of Elizabeth Zimmermann mittens, begun during the big wind last Saturday while I was at work (how good is it that I can on occasion, knit while working?). Middle of the first mitt.

These will have to be ripped back. 48 stitches is not enough for my pudgy hands.

There is the shawl. This is yesterdays picture. It looks just like this, only bigger. (Wouldn't it be nice if you could click to embiggen some shawls?)

It could be argued that the shawl is still in the start up phase. I started Monday night but half of each ball is knit up, therefore, I am in the middle.

I am in the curious stage where knitting sometimes bogs down, where it is easy to lose interest, where it is possible to lose the love.

And yet, these projects are all tremendously interesting. (Except the socks. The socks are black. It is hard to think about these, much less, find energy for excitement about black sock knitting )

I am really enjoying this phase of the sweater. I can't wait till SS comes out to try it on again, before I move forward to knit the hood and do the finishing details. I am utterly diverted when I knit the alpaca scarf. It is just so soft and divine to work with. The mittens are so quick, and the shape of them is such an elemental part of the design. I'm having so much fun with them, that even facing ripping back is just dandy. The shawl is still captivating. If anything, it is even more entrancing, watching the colours play out as the shawl grows.

I'm sure that there are a whole bunch of important and significant things that could be said about knitting middles, but I'm too busy enjoying all these middles to wonder about them. There is a clarity to middles that is not there with ends.

With ends, you have to wonder and worry and choose. With beginnings I keep asking myself, do I have enough yarn, is this the right project for the yarn, is this the right yarn for the project. Do I really need another shawl?. With finishing, I wonder if the recipient is going to like it, will it fit, will I be lonely without working on it, will it be everything I hoped for and what on earth am I going to do next.

With middles, there is the sureness of just moving, of sticking an established pattern, just knitting your way right along. Its nice having a project that will fit for almost every situation. Its nice knowing that I still have time to work with each of these yarns. Its nice knowing that a direction I took is going to work out, or, as with the mittens, not work out. Middles are a comfortable place. Middles make me feel good.

Which isn't such a bad way to feel for a Wednesday morning in October.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Its everywhere, Its everywhere!

I see that it's not just me taking a liking to this shawl, its a lot of you. My work so far.

I came home a little late so I am not as far along as I had hoped, but it is progressing rather nicely. I am pleased with everything about this shawl to the point that it was painful to come down to the computer to blog.

Its that kind of project. Its very simple, but there is lots to keep you going. Just when you are about to get bored, you have to switch something, changing the balls you are working from, or the changing from garter to stockinette. If those are not enough to entertain you, then wait a minute, something about the colour will change in the way only a Noro yarn can.

It shows how distressingly little it takes to keep me entertained but I take some consolation that not everything has to be complicated to teach me a thing or two. (This one is teaching me how distressingly little it takes to keep me entertained.)

I did rip it back to the beginning last evening. I wondered if I would get a better effect if colours on both balls were more sequential. That might very well have been the goal of splitting it into two balls. If you did that, just imagine how long the colourways would be as you worked this up. I wound both colours up on the ball winder, one from the outside strand and one from the inside strand, so imagine the difference if I had wound them up in a regular ball, so that the ball wound from the outside would be worked from what was the inside of the yarn from the original skein. I can see all kinds of interesting ways to play with the look of the shawl just by making small changes.

I did play around with it, and decided, that nope, this shawl, fate and Mr. Noro are in the drivers seat. The colours are going to be just as they come.

At just 450 yards, this is going to be more of a shawlette, than a full sized shawl. I can see another long colourway version in the future, using two balls of yarn softly waving these gorgeous tones across my shoulders.

I can also see this yarn worked up in a feather and fan pattern, Shetland style, or maybe a la Shoalwater Shawl. I'm going to get a lot of dreaming mileage out of this shawl.

OK, back to knitting. That is enough of this blogging thing. I have an obsession to work with.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Small mercies

Sometimes when I get up early in the morning, I read a bit and gander among my various bags, debating what to work on. This morning, I went directly to the sweater, and finished the 2nd sleeve. All that is left now is to put it together, knit the hood, and redo the front button band. So close, yet so far.

That early burst of success moved me forward to get the balls ready for the next little project.

What is that you say? Little projects? It seems that I do big projects and little projects. I don't think this is uncommon among knitters at all. The little ones are a reward for finishing a big project. Drat it all, I haven't finished the sweater, now have I, but this yarn was sitting there, shouting out my name, insisting it get equal time.

The yarn is Noro Kureyon sock yarn, and is in the tan/brown/ black colourway. This colourway has not been moving much at the store, and yet, I love these soft colours better than any of the bright strong ones. It speaks to me of elegance and warmth and the earth.

In my wandering through shawls the other day, drawn to colour as I was, I came across this shawl. The Simple Yet Effective Shawl from Cosmicpluto Knits. Instantly I could see these soft striking colours switching back and forth between stockinette and garter. It will be a small shawl, but its is going to be a really good display for the yarn and with a yarn like anything Noro, showing the colour to its best advantage is a must.

I thought I would just wind the balls and get ready to knit this evening, after I blocked the sweater parts, but I had a few minutes to knit so I began. I knit for a bit and noticed the clock was dangerously just past 7:00. By 7:00 I must be at the desk writing the blog, or the blog will be in peril for the day.

So I knit a little bit more.

I knit to the end of the second section of garter, and looked up again. Half an hour? How could half an hour have gone by so fast?

So here I am at the desk typing lighting speed, so that I can blog and still be ready to leave for work on time. Thank goodness I did my laundry before I began to knit this morning, or right about now I would be wondering what I earth I owned that was clean.

Small mercies, indeed. I wish I could say it was good planning, (Good planning would have included charging the camera batteries, so I could show you photos of this advneture) but, I did not plan to fall down this rabbit hole it just happened.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Planning and taking it as it comes.

I'm quite sure that others see interesting things on the net all the time. I usually get lost among one thing when I planned on looking at something quite different.

I got lost yesterday looking at shawls on Ravelry. I found some really interesting things, like Cuspid, a short row colour shawl worked in a very interesting way. And Anni's shawl (click on the picture to make it bigger). And then there was colourfulknitter's Vagabond Poncho. I can't link to it but do go to Ravelry and check it out.

What caught my eye yesterday was colour. Bright rich strong colour. I'm no doubt being influenced by all the fair isle I have been looking at. Or maybe I'm trying to hold on to fall by thinking of the rich purples and bright golds and rich warm reds.

Either way, it was lovely wandering lost through the shawls, enjoying but not really planning. If I was planning, I'd have to clear a couple other shawls out of the way first. If I was planning, I'd have to say that the next thing on the list is a vest, and some scarves, and various other holiday knitting. But that was if I was planning, rather than just taking it as it comes.

This whole winter will probably be fair isle games. The vest, which is next up, since it was asked for. A pillow top for me (see Eunny Jang's Delft pillow top in the Interweave H0ldiay Gifts ), and maybe even a plain sweater for me too. And socks, and maybe a tea cozy... I'll take those as it comes.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thanking Ravelry

For the last little bit, we've been trying to get a regular evening knitting group going locally. We being myself and another knitter. A lot of people have stopped and talked to us, a few have said they'd like to come, but so far it is just we two.

Last evening, a lady stopped by who said, you must be the Ravelers. she had forgotten to put her knitting in her car but stopped and talked till she had to leave.

It got me to thinking how many people I have met from knitting, but also from Ravelry. In my day to day world, it is meeting local to me people that has been Ravelry's greatest blessing. It got me to thinking how limited my circle of friends was before. Small offices are lovely places to work, but when you combine a workload and volume stress, a small office and long days, there just wasn't a lot of time to find people who enjoyed the things I like. I didn't have the energy.

Ravelry has linked me with so many fine people, that today is going to be my own private Thanks to Ravelry day. I'm going to head over there, and click all the add links I can. I'll probably find all sorts of new and interesting things too.

Maybe I should go hide my wallet first.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Over the top

The sweater continues apace, both sleeves, half way done. I'm making really good time. One of the ladies at knitting had a couple of new books with her, and somewhere along the line, I mentioned that I input my whole library of craftiness in Library Thing

With just the crafting part of my library recorded, I am halfway to my book limit. You can see my library by clicking the Library Thing Tag in my sidebar. As you see, there really are a few general categories of craftiness. All of them have to do with string things.

Well almost all. I seem to have quite a few about miniatures, and there are a few unusual books of a historical nature that show up too. They are in that part of my library because they are used by me, for inspiration to knit, to embroider. But this is just one small part of my personal library. It is after all, just a mere two shelves of my books.

The next collection that I am considering adding is my cookbooks. There are so many of these I forget sometimes, which ones I have. At last count there are 60. I think I stopped counting about then, I might have been counting wrong, there was, after all wine involved and the numbers were highter than 2 (always bad for accuracy). After the cookbooks, I would have to buy more Library thing space.

The rest is a kind of an amorphous pile of stuff, but it a really big pile of stuff.

There is a lot of history, British history in particular. I became fascinated by English history as a child reading the old Book of Knowledge that my dad bought. It was a treasure trove of thinking, seeing and doing. It was an introduction into art and literature, and oh so many avenues of reading. I have those books right now, though at some point in the near future, they will go to my nephew Aaron, who loves them as much as I do.

There are a lot of the classics of literature. Somewhere along the line, I picked up 3 different editions of Chaucer (I really do need Library Thing), I have a whole range of books written by some of the earliest novelists, and a few of the newer modern literature gems.

There are some seriously fine biography's and some that others would not quite class as biographical in nature, but they are that to me.

I have many many novels best described as popular fiction. Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Helen MacInnis, Agatha Christie, Edward Rutherford, and a whole bunch more. If I sat down and thought about it, there is a fair bit of stuff that falls into this category by writers who are not nearly so well known as these top sellers. OK, I just looked, its two shelves, two books deep. More than a 'bit' now that I think about it.

And then I have what would be best described as ... ... ... romance novels. The fat ones. With all the racy scenes. But most of these that I still keep, I really do keep for the stories. If they took out the racy bits, some of them were good entertainment. Take LaVyrle Spencer. A really good writer, not great but really good. One of her last books, 'Then Came Heaven', is one of the finest pictures of small town North American life ever written.

I have a huge and ancient collection of Harlequins (which really are an entire class all by themselves). I know. Not classy, you could not buy other books in our very small town, and the library was not open every day of the week. If you read everything you had from there and the school library, and it was a Saturday morning, and you were after all working just down the street and from there had to go babysit, what else was a girl to do? It was the time before all night TV and VHS, and you had to entertain yourself somehow and I did a lot of babysitting. You bought what you could get your hands on and you read. That's what you did.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I have a lot of books. I don't know if it is a library to be proud of, or to shout to the world about it, but just like string things, books have always been there, solid, quiet, carrying all the dreams of a small town girl, who sometimes felt like no one else could hear all the stories inside her head.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

More sweater knitting

It was a very busy day at the store. No time to knit last evening. I didn't make it home till late but have cleared my schedule for a whole lot of knitting today.

My goal is to finish sleeve one, and to move on to sleeve 2. With any luck at all there will be no need for sleeve 3.

The other interesting thing I am working on right now, is those black socks. Last evening I waited in the drive through while my dinner was being prepared (I know fast food, but its the first time in a long while), I took out the socks and knit. The black socks in semi light is as close to knitting without seeing that I have done. (Knitting without thinking. That I am an expert at!)

I know I messed up at least one stitch in 2 rows, maybe 3. I'll have to do some dropping down to fix it, but I doubt that whatever I knit, will have harmed the socks irreparably.

Today, in good light I'm going to look and see how I knit practically blind. Next up, knitting while not looking. I can do a little of this, but not a lot. The goal is to be able to read while knitting. If I can read while knitting, there is nothing I can't do.

I'd say Bwahahahaha, but I hear it is passe.

Monday, 20 October 2008

What is small and...

tubular and part of a sweater?

A Sleeve.

I am thrilled to bits to be on this sweaters sleeve, and even more thrilled to see it moving along so fast. Its not looking like a particularly fat sleeve, but it is the ribbing doing that. It will fit the wearers very slim arms.

Mr. Needles is away today following his fall pursuits but immediately before he left, he asked me to make him something. This something has warped my world and made me stop and think about parts of a life, and expectations and the funny things people do that you really don't expect them to do.

Mr. Needles asked me to make him a vest. Not only that, but Mr. Needles asked to make him a vest, much like his father had left behind after the last family wedding. He said he kind of liked the way it looked (the article in question was commercially made).

I admit, I did just sit there a little dumbfounded. To say that my mouth was hanging open would have been a little bit of an understatement. I have after all just taken a Fair Isle workshop, and will be taking a second workshop given by Fiona Ellis on colour placement in Fair Isle work. The world obviously has deemed that this will be my path because the vest in question was a Fair Isle look vest and the part he liked was the little designs in it, and I would I need the vest as a pattern, says he.

My being dumbfounded was not only because of the intersection of events, it was more.

Mr. Needles does wear vests, the large down filled, many pocketed vests of the northern outdoorsman, but all our lives he has pooh poohed the idea of knitted vests and cardigans. Those items were for other people, for older people. Not that any one doesn't look fine in vests, it just was the norm in our small town world.

Mr. Needles and I are in the time of our lives where we are unconsciously making choices 'older' people would make. That they are sensible choices does not take away from the breathtaking reality of it all, that one is older I mean. It really is just that the day you realize you are making older people decisions, you really ought to feel just a little more like the 'grownups' we envision in our childhood.

But we don't. We just feel like us. We are older, we both feel warm with the chill off our backs, I in my shawls and him, soon in his vest.

We are in the vest time of our lives. Sigh.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Brides Memory Bag Pattern

I might be cheating, just a wee bit by doing this today. Really 3 posts about the silly thing in a week is a little much, but as they say, it's all blog fodder.

The Bride's Memory Bag

Comes to mind, I have a little duster pattern I said I was going to post the pattern for. Its probably time to get to that too. I figured out a way better way to make it than the first time I made one.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Very fine yarn

There is some seriously fine local yarn at the store right now. It comes from a local to Edmonton alpaca grower whose fleece just happened to take top prizes at the Olds Fibre Festival.

It comes in natural colours, in a mixture of weights, lace to something close to a worsted weight yarn, and a little of everything in between. The display skein of this weight appears to be a worsted weight, but the softness and lightness of this fibre pronounce that it cannot be. It seems to work up to a DK or '3' weight yarn.

The fibre I choose is an 80/20 Alpaca/silk 2 ply yarn. There is a lace weight in this blend that I covet and some utterly wonderful 100 % Alpaca yarns too. I've never seen anything bloom like this. The more I handle it, the more it seems to bloom and the softer it gets and yet, it still seems to hold its yarny integrity. If there was a way to communicate to you the softness of this yarn, I would do it. It is a sigh of a yarn. It is clouds and down and that soft fur on my kitties neck. If you had enough, you could just climb inside it and hide there forever.

I don't know how sturdy a yarn it will be for the long haul but for scarves and accessories, for those little things we make that say I love you when words won't do, this is yarn surely speaks volumes.

I am working with this 80/20 alpaca and silk mix for some Christmas knitting. My plan is to knit just a bit more, and then to see what happens if one ribbed section starts crossing, winding its way to the other side and back again. I saw the idea in a knitting magazine early this year, and it has intrigued me ever since.

Once I get the first rib crossed I'm going to block it and let it rest to see if the light cabling idea is a good match for this soft yarn. I'd really hate for its splendor to be hidden by a poor stitch and pattern choice.

If you are looking for a yarn for something special, and you don't mind paying for it (its not cheap. 38 dollars for 400 m), this yarn is as wonderful as anything made in heaven.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


I spent the last hour writing the pattern out, editing it and just as I was about to post the blessed thing it morphed back to the version you saw yesterday. I am out of time this morning, so I have to go, and get ready for work.

Will complete the darn thing later. Not happy, not happy at all. Drat you Blogger. Drat you computer.

and it was really good too. Almost legible.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Bride's Memory Bag

Bride's Memory Bag

We had 3 family weddings this summer, and I really needed to find a nice acceptable way to knit. I'm not much of a partier and I am always the designated driver and I really need to keep my hands busy till its time to go.

After watching a prayer shawl workshop this spring, the idea came to me. Wouldn't it be lovely to pass along my joy for each of these lovely couples? It had to be something I could complete quickly, with minimal finishing so that it could be given to the bride before the end of the evening. The makings had to fit inside my hand bag. It had to be simple enough to knit without using a pattern, and it had to be easy enough that I could knit it while sipping my lone glass of wine.

Following the inspiration and example of the prayer shawl ladies, I knit each project solely on the day of their wedding, from beading the string to tying the tie, capturing my good wishes and the spirit and joy of the entire assembly.

Yarn: Lang Silk Dream (any dk or 3 weight yarn will work well)
Beads: 10-15 drop beads, and 30-40 smaller beads
Needles: 4mm dpn
Gauge: Not critical

Time to complete: approximately 4 hours.

String beads onto a sturdy string (I used pearl cotton size 8 for all the bags). Pearl beads were used for the first two Bride's Memory Bags, and Swarovski crystals for this last. They were usually strung so that each drop bead was separated by 3 to 5 round beads (depending on the size of the bead and the yarn you are using).

Using Judy's magic cast on, cast on 30 stitches on each of two needles for a total of 60 stitches.

Row 1: Knit 1, Pick up bead string and knit it along with your yarn for the next stitch. Knit 2 or 3 stitches, picking up the bead strand just past the second drop bead, knit 1. The goal is to have a swag of little beads between the drop beads. Continue knitting the beaded strand in every 2 or 3 stitches across the first 30 stitches. Knit the remaining 30 stitches.

Row 2: Knit all stitches

If you are using dpns, slip your stitches onto 4 needles as follows: The last 5 stitches from needle 2 and the first 5 stitches from needle 1 onto one needle. 20 stitches from needle one onto another needle. The last 5 stitches from needle one and the first 5 stitches from needles 2 onto a third needle. 20 stitches from needle 2 onto a 4th needle. If you are using circular needles, place stitch markers at these positions.

Continue working in stockinette till the bag bottom is about an inch from the cast on row. Then begin to work the lace panels on the 20 stitch sections of the bag. Each 10 stitch section forms the side of the bag, framing the lace panel. Continue working these stitches in stockinette.

Lace Panel

Row 1: Knit 1, *knit 2 together, yarn over* Repeat from * across till you have only 1 stitch remaining, knit 1.

Row 2: Knit all stitches.

Row 3 Knit 1, *yarn over, knit 2 together*Repeat from * across till you have 1 stitch remaining, knit 1.

Row 4: Knit

Repeat row 1 to 4 rows to form the lace panel until the lace panel is roughly square. End on a row 4, and continue to work around all stitches in stockinette until the top is about an inch and a half long.

Tie section

Work 3 repeats of the first 2 rows of the lace pattern above. Do this across all stitches on all needles.

Then knit in stockinette on all stitches for an inch and a half. Work 1 repeat of the lace pattern made by row 1 and 2 of the lace panel, and bind off.

Knit a 3 stitch I cord, or crochet a foundation single crochet chain about 18inches long.

Lace the tie through the center of the 3 repeats in the tie section. Weave in all ends.

Present to your bride and groom.

Other technical stuff

I began by stringing the beads, first thing in the morning, and worked each bag till the lace section was established. The rest of the knitting was between service and reception, after dinner while the speeches are going on, during the general cheer of each party. I finished each in ample time.

Your lace may look a bit different than mine. For my own ease, I knit the 2 stitches together always through the back loop. This means my decrease will lean the other way, but for this bag it is not important which way your decrease leans. You could, if you wish work the centre doing an entirely different lace design.

The bag could be made out of any size yarn. You could use it instead of wrapping paper for a baby gift or shower gift. Have fun with it.

As always, please respect my copyright, and do not use the bag for commercial purposes.

(the original, worked flat and seamed up the side, with a base worked in garter stitch)

©D Renneberg 2008

Friday, 10 October 2008

A Blushing Bride.

I'm not sure if you can call what I did a deep cleaning. It really was more of a deep sorting and de-garbage-ifying. (Is that a word?)

I really would like to understand how it is, when you carefully pack stuff up into boxes and set them in a place, as time goes on, half of what you packed becomes garbage. And how when I next look in those boxes, they will again be half garbage. And so on, and so on. Yet each time, I end up with the same amount of full boxes. How is this happening??? Why???

It seems clear to me is that the miscellaneous stuff of my life has been giving birth in the corners of my house, and I'd really like to know what kind of birth control to provide it.

This weekend brings me to the last of my Bridal memory bags. This one is special because the bride is one of my girls, nieces who were close and so have had to bear the terrifying ordeal of having me as an aunt. This particular bride is the one I worked with for the last several years at my old job, and whom I have come to know in an adult non-auntie way.

I was privy to some of the early sweetness between this bride and her sweetie, and could tell early on, that he was the one, or soon would be.

It had nothing to do with the day she wore a scarf round her neck when she never wears a scarf and the little thing she was trying to hide. Nothing to hide at all. It had nothing to do with her blushes.

Seriously, the girl just cannot hide her glow and it has been a delight watching her fall in love.

After this weekend, I will write out my bridal bag recipe and will show you photos of a completed bag.

After this weekend, I start the red hag bag project. Details a little closer to the launch of that scheme.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Cleaning out more corners

I'm swamped today cleaning out more corners and deep archives. Really, I should pretend we have to move once every 3 years or so. There are way too many places with deep archives round here.

I'm not expecting more yarn finds, just things that I really ought to toss. There are boxes under the pool table that really need to be gone through and looked at so we can put more things under there (A pool tables principle reason for being is to give you under the table storage, not for playing the game of pool) There are corners with musical instruments and piles of old coats that just need to be sorted and moved on to a final resting place.

I've been looking at pictures of rooms with corners, and contemplating the inside of empty boxes to prepare for this event. Looking at the meeting of all these angles in one place could be a little frightening after not seeing them so long.

So, having girded my loins with a good stiff coffee and after having taken far too long to write this post, I am going deep. I may not come up till tomorrow, but when I am done, there will be piles of things to take to the Sally Ann and many things to recycle.

There will be corners and empty cabinets here.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

My mind is full of baby things.

I read my horoscope pretty much daily. I have no idea why I do this. It certainly isn't because I live my life by it or even really believe it. I think it amused me one day when I needed amusement and it just continued. This is what it says today.

"Your key planet Saturn is locked in a tense dance with healer Chiron today and it's up to you to figure out how to take this uncomfortable energy and turn it into a positive expression. You have the potential for grace in your life now..."

I am surely full of 'uncomfortable' energy right now. It does feel like I am locked into a dance with some force or other. I am having a terrible time settling into a project, and meaning it. I know what I have to do, but I'm struggling to stay true to it.

I have these baby things to make and I'm working on what may well be the tough part of the project, the bunting bags. I think once I get those out of the way, I'll be OK. I'm going to pour my heart out on the blankets, so I can get to where I really want to be, which is the baby sweaters.

For the baby sweaters, I'm going to use a slip stitch pattern based on an idea I saw years ago in a Walmart on a little free pattern on a hanger. It was essentially stripes of colour, a vibrant pink worked 4 rows, then switching over to another vibrant colour for 4 rows and then back to the first colour again. Every so often on the first row of this part of the work, you knit way down into the last row of the first colour below. Or that is what I remember. Or maybe it was some sort of slipped stitch thing. I'll have to experiment. The idea was to be striped but with columns of the main colour forming visual blocks over the bright many coloured stripe.

At the time I rendered the baby sweater in crochet, where the long drop down to rows below is quite common. Can't you just see stripes of richness in these brilliantly coloured piles of yarn?

OK, right now the boys pile looks a little tame, but there is a yellow, which isn't in the picture, and I might yet go and pick up another colour or 2. The girls sweaters will be the same, but the boys sweaters, will have a different major colour. In part, this is to work with the yarn I have and in part, so people other than their mom and dad and brothers, can tell them apart.

My horoscope says it is up to me to take this uncomfortable energy and turn it into a creative force, so I guess I will. I'll work on the baby bags, and get them done, so I can play amidst colour and brilliance as winter comes upon us. Except I really really hope to have them completed long before real winter hits.

"You have the potential for grace in your life right now" or so says my horoscope. I'll work on that too.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Positive reinforcements

Last evening I came home from work and made myself a cup of coffee. The warm rich brew was just what I needed. It was far more satisfying than a glass of wine would have been, far more edifying that a cup of cocoa.

If there is something that is not part of the evening routine around here, it is having an evening cup of coffee. If I have coffee in the evening, it takes me a couple extra hours to get to sleep, not altogether a bad thing. With a cup of coffee I get to see 11:00 p.m., an otherwise unheard of lateness.

An evening cup of coffee makes my sleep cycle almost normal. It makes me feel just the smallest bit decadent to sleep in till 7:00a.m., to hear the alarm for Mr. Needles at 6:00 and go right back to sleep till whenever my body wants to wake. Evening coffee would never work when the next day is a regular workday. I need my early waking on a work day just to feel like myself.

With all the extra evening to knit, I started to practise the weekends lessons. I picked up some bits and pieces of yarn, a Paton's Classic merino, and a part of a skein of Noro Silk Garden, picked out a couple of patterns in The Complete Book of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting and set to work. Some of the stranding across the back of the rows is too tight. The section with the little squares will be impossible to block larger. The v's are better, and alternating stitch section is quite simply on target for stranded tension. Some of this has to do with the different designs, but I hope some has to do with a growing comfort with the technique.

Moving two strands of yarn at the same time is not yet music in my hands. There are strange hand and arm movements happening. My elbows seem to be directing some off stage cacophony. There are frequent flights of needle and yarns to the floor. There are occasional curses. It is akin to the first music a violin player plays. It would be correct to say that I am at the squeaky, strident string stage of Fair Isle knitting, and just like beginner violinists, the right notes sometimes magically sound out.

It is enough to keep me going to the end of this coffee cup cozy project, and enough encourage me to move forward to a real hat.

And if you are wondering about the Complete Book of Fair Isle Knitting, I'll rate that a double crochet. It has a really good history of the technique section, but it really is a pattern dictionary, and a very good one too. A great resource of basic stitch patterns if I don't want to take the time to design my own.

Monday, 6 October 2008

A New Heel and Much More

A quick post to start off the week. It was a wonderful weekend. The workshop was excellent. Flat stranded colourwork and

colourwork in the round.

It would have taken many sessions of giving up in disgust before I figured out the easy way to purl in the round (use your dominant hand to purl) and I am not so sure I could have figured out how to carry colours across the backside on the purl row in flat work either. Two tricky little techniques that made the workshop well worth the time...

but I sure could have used an extra hand. At the very least another thumb and forefinger.

When I got home, I thought about planning out a colourwork project. I do have the yarn and want to do a little something to reinforce what I learned. I have a pillow project to do, but I might do some socks or some mitts with the technique. they will be a lot faster than the pillow.

When I got home I worked on baby blankets and socks. The blankets (No photo yet) are my most urgent project, and the socks are, as ever, what I do when my brain no longer has the ability to release or accept new information. I put that new heel (the Wendy link from the other day) my friend showed me into practise on a current pair, and lookee.

No holes, no wraps, no counting. Easy as pie (with a purchased crust). It is a little hard to see it well. The heel section is just completed. I have not tried it on yet, so I can't confirm if I placed the heel at the right point, but I think it will be close.

As my friend said this is a heel you can do while you are at knitting group, and while you are in line ups and waiting rooms. The construction makes it that easy to read your stitches so you know where you are.

I love a busy weekend but I am looking forward to a good rest tomorrow.

Friday, 3 October 2008

The problem with after thoughts

It is usually considered that thinking before doing is the best policy. Not to say that everyone does that, or that even those among us who do think before doing do it all the time.

I like certain kinds of after thoughts. Take the EZ afterthought heel. Using it has allowed me to work all the way up whatever sock I am working on without having to worry at all about measurments to insert a piece of wast string to mark where the heel stitches are. Snipping a thread and picking up the stiches saves time and lets me take any sock in the sock blank drawer and custom finish the sock for anyone. I can have a new pair of socks as quickly as I can make a set of heels whenever I feel the need for a pristine pair or whenever none of my socks have made it through the laundry.

Like this morning. I now have spiffy new socks to wear, for only a couple hours of stitching.

That is the problem with doing after thought heels and sock blanks. At some point you are going to have to finish the socks in order to get use out of your knitting. Some where in time, you have to make those heels. The advantages of sock blanks and afterthought heels are inversely proportional to the time you need to finish and the urgency of said need.

It kind of ends up balanced, no gain on either side. Gotta run, if I don't I will be late for work...

but I do have a new pair of socks on.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Stranded colour work

I signed up for a workshop in stranded colour work this weekend. But for the usual morning coffee with Mr. Needles, my Sunday is going to be full of knitting.

I'm not a big workshop type learner. I usually stumble about on my own till I get an approximation of the technique executed. I feel comfortable with my end product, but not comfortable enough to try to pass how I do it on, or to even call my way of getting there a technique. I have no idea why my natural instinct is to muddle and struggle along rather than head out and ask for help. Perhaps its the part of me that my mom called stubborn when she tried to teach me how to crochet. Me stubborn?

Why, yes. Yes I am.

So why this workshop? It has to do with getting the details right and with the music of hands.

Earlier this year, I watched one of the ladies knitting some mittens using both hands to do stranded colour work. It was music seen, not heard, watching her build layers, placing yarn with both hands, laying every note of colour exactly where she wanted it to be. Watching her hands work with such grace made me want to play that silent music with my own hands.

I tried colour work and was pleased to begin, but just like reading sheet music without understanding what the lines mean, or what the clef is or what key to begin in, I got a little lost along the way. The workshop is Music 101.

Right about the same time, the summer issue of Interweave Knits came out and I fell hard, very ,very hard for the soft colours of the Tidewater Wrap. Who knows if I'll ever knit it. I fell for it anyway.

Those three things came together in summer and I just had to resolve it. The workshop will teach me not just how to play this music, but will teach me how to read the music. I will know that it isn't a misunderstanding of the technique if my colour work is out of tune, and I will know what part to practise it till I play it right.

Somehow, after all this time, playing to my own drumbeat is not the only thing I want to do. I need to understand this music everyone else is playing and I need to be part of that symphony.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ah ha moments

Knitting, more than any other hand work I have done has led me to little ah ha moments.

You know. Those moments where some little concept that was just not clear instantly became clear, and left you feeling just the tiniest bit simple, only you don't feel too embarrassed about your previous simple mindedness, because what you finally see opened a world of possibilities and you are going to be way to busy figuring out what else you can do with a technique.

Most often, when I see or read about something new, I pick up enough understanding to figure it out the rest of the way and as I figure things out, I learn. Occasionally very simple concepts get blocked and you can show me, you can tell me, you can bop me on the head with a rubber mallet and I won't see. And then all of a sudden, one day, I have a moment where I see my way through and it just is simple and clear.

I had a big ah ha moment when I finally figured out why my knitting was different than every one else's knitting and what I need to do to knit my way and still have perfectly made decreases and increases.

I had a big ah ha moment when I saw Curlerchick do the short rows for a proper fitting bust on the Tubey sweater.

Yesterday I had an aha moment on a short row heel. I was discussing short rows heels with a lady from my knitting group a week ago, and complaining about how much I dislike wrapping and all the frustrating tracking, and she said she never wraps. She showed me a sock she had with her. No wraps, No holes. Me likey. She brought a swatch to show me the process this week.

She knit for a moment, and in one wee short row, one wee moment of time, it hit me. Most short row heels are about narrowing down and then working back up. This short row heel is gusseted and is just freakishly cool, and tidy looking. There are no wraps forming a thick uncomfortable ridge alongside your heel, just a nice little row of stitches knit together. The basic design is from Wendy Knits Sportweight Toe Up Gusset Heel socks. My friend believes this is how her grandmother did sock heels.

Check it out. It is kind of cool.

Along with big ah ha moment, the baby projects continue apace, the second of the Big fabel socks is completed, and I knit a little on SS's sweater. It was a great knitting day.