Thursday, 30 April 2009

Its bright blue sky overhead this morning. There may be some washing of the fleece this morning. Before I can do that, I have to check out the state of the fire pit area, and see how dry the surrounding area is. If it is too dry, then I'll wait a little longer. Though there appears to be no fire bans on right now in our fair county, I care less about the fire bans and more about keeping myself and my neighbours safe. If it is too dry, I'll need to find another source of hot water.

I'm a fleece neophyte, there are a lot of things to learn via the internet, but the basics seem to be hot water, detergent, and fleece.

So, I'm off to give it a go, or at least start the process. I'll take my camera along and take lots of pictures and if it is exciting, I'll even update through the day.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I tried to knit a sock with a pattern last night. I never knit patterned socks unless it is one I took from a stitch dictionary and it conveniently fits into the number of stitches I am working with. I fear fancy schmancy sock patterns. There I said it.

Should have been fine, otherwise, but like most patterns, it starts top down. I'm not a big fan of casting on and then joining in the round, not when you can start with so few stitches on the toe and then elegantly work in the round. I did do it though, properly, without any twists. Success.

On the first row, you end up with 17 stitches. Looked great, read the pattern a couple of times to be sure I am reading it and the terms correctly. Yup end up with 17 stitches. Looks pretty good.

Second row, right twist (done over two stitches) then knit 13 and repeat 4 times. That equals 15 stitches. Not quite sure what to do with remaining two stiches on the needle. Take everything off. Start over.


Rinse and repeat.

I thought about pulling out my hair. Surely if I can knit something so pretty as the Lehe shawl, I can figure out a sock. But no. I put the sock down because I am missing some small thing in the instructions.

I'm trying to file my taxes now. Its going about the same.

Note to self: get mindbleach. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

This is a ridiculous country

Canadians are famous for discussing the weather. Or perhaps it is farmers who are famous for discussing the weather. Or maybe Canadian farmers? Whatever.

Our weather has been ridiculous this spring. Yesterday was a prime example. In the morning, following the previous days icy rainy snow fest, my car was covered in a fine sheet of ice, not enough to cause problems, but enough that I really had to work to open the car door. 32 seconds of heat on the window melted everything.

The afternoon weather progressed from heavy gray clouds to sleet to soft pellets that smashed into a pile of slush when they hit the ground. Then came hard little snow pellets (different looking than sleet and other rain pellets), to ordinary very fine snow, to big white flakes. There were times in the afternoon where it was coming down so heavy that with a wind, it would have been unsafe to travel.

And then the sun came out. It only shone for about a half an hour, but even though the air temps were chilly, the sun shining meant that I had to turn down the heat setting in my car immediately on getting in, or risk being baked to something tender and juicy before I realized how hot it was inside.

My husband heard that we should be up to 20 C by Sunday. This morning, they (weather people) say it will be warmer, but only mid teens.

I feel for things that can't get inside. I am sure I saw tender little pussy willows begging to be let back into the branch just yesterday while I was driving to work. Sunday I could hear the cranes doing their spring migration, but we could not see them fly. They probably are walking this year. Too cold to fly. The geese are looking at all the wee small ponds (dry besides having icky weather) and are arguing about who the heck said they should stop in Alberta this year. Wee little robins fly around sluggishly. Seriously, so would you if you had to hold the bun in your oven any longer. I'm going to put out some yarn bits and pieces, maybe some fleece bits. They are going to need something soft to line their nests and there is just nothing around.

I give up. I have no idea how to dress anymore. Not for inside weather or outside weather. I tell you though, I am going to put a few things back into the car.

Spring coat and winter coat? Check.
Gloves hats and mitts? Check.
Heavy Big Fabel socks? Check.
Long Johns? Check.
Extra warm winter mukluk type boots? Check.

And I don't think I'm taking these things out of the car till late July, unless I am wearing them of course. It may well be that putting these things back into the car is the only way to get even a semblance of decent weather.

One day, even in this chilly silly weather country, the leaves will pop, and the sun will shine enough that the grass will green and the dandelions will bloom, but till then, this is just a ridiculous country.

Monday, 27 April 2009

When Stained Skeins are Good

I picked up a new yarn the other day. Rather, a couple of new yarns - well things really. Its not just any yarns.

Stained Skeins is a local to me hand dyer. She has had an etsy presence for several years and has just brought some of her hand dyes in.

Stained Skeins are lovely things. Like most hand dyers she started with yarn. I've chosen a gorgeously rich toned skein of olive greens, warm reds, teals, coppers oranges and almost everything in between. As usual, olives tones don't photograph well, and the photo quality just doesn't do the yarn justice. All the basics are there, and the colours are correct, but it is so much richer, warmer and denser in hand. It's a thing of great beauty. About the only thing that isn't here is pastel. There is quite simply nothing pastel on any of these skeins.

After Stained Skeins worked with yarns for a while, she began to work on sock blanks. She does up the blanks herself, allowing her to customise the process to the style of sock knitter you are.

Her singles sock blanks are a pair of blanks meticulously dyed side by side so that when completed, your socks will be a closely matched set. This kind of blank is great if you knit single socks at a time.

Because she was producing the blanks herself, she took the process one step further. She began to build double stranded blanks. These double stranded blanks, when dyed, produce matched socks. Not closely matched socks. Matched socks. These double stranded blanks are great if you work your socks two at a time, on whatever needles you choose. You can still choose one of these blanks if you prefer, like me, to knit on one sock at a time (I'm a sock dinosaur, dpns, and one at a time), but you can wind the blanks onto balls and work as usual if the colours you prefer come in a double stranded blank.

Stained Skeins includes a generous, make that very generous, little blank of silk, hand dyed to match for reinforcing the heel with some skeins and blanks. This little skein is enough that no matter how you knit your heel, you will something of it left over. I think I'll have enough left over to do another re-inforcing on the inside once the socks are completed.

I have also decided that if I am a long way from getting my Christmas knitting done, I could take these long blanks, do a quickie three needle bind off, and voila, short striped scarf, that could be made into socks anytime the wearer chose. A digression, I know. Please excuse me.

I wanted to see what the sock blank I chose would turn out to be...

Yeah, that is what it was. Seriously, I was sitting there, ready to begin, and started with the blank over the skein of yarn because I did not have to wind up the yarn. This singly prepped sock blank thing could be a real benefit to us lazy types. No winding!

I'm most pleased to show you the unique thing that happens with a hand dyed blank. Do you see how, when unravelled, the strand is not a solid colour? Its magic. Serious magic. I'd noticed something unique about the colours of the sample socks displayed at the store for this yarn, and now I understand its secret. These delightful blanks produce an utterly unique look. Heathered, yet not heathered. Deep and vibrant yet subtle. Solidly coloured, yet not solid. They have a look all their own.

You will produce a perfectly matched pair of socks with this yarn, without any effort at all, but no one, no one is going to mistake this beautifully matched pair for anything other than a Folk Art master work handcrafted by you.

I love socks for a lot of reasons. I love hand dyers for a lot of reasons. I think I'm going to love this entirely different approach to socks and yarn too.

Stained Skeins, where, when stains are good they are very very good.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Books and still not reading

When I awoke this morning, the first thing I realized was that it snowed last night. A larger skiff than the previous day, but still just a skiff. It was just 4 C today, so the snow remains in shaded areas. The wind was cold and strong and not at all spring like.

So instead of sitting down and writing, I went to town to have a coffee and start my errands.

One of my errands today was to get a library card. I remember getting my first books from the library at a small library our church had in a small nook in the vestry. I remember when Mrs. Red..., the school librarian let the grade 3 me, go over to the high school library to get books because she could not keep enough interesting things in the elementary library for me to read. I recall the provincial lending library by mail, and went often to its later incarnation as the municipal library. No matter where we lived, getting the library cards was the first thing to be done.

I let my library card go when I was working full time. That should have been the first clue that something was seriously wrong with my world. It really should have, but I was so busy just hanging on, and getting by I didn't even notice.

My first foray with the new library card had exactly what this incarnation of me needed. Some knitting books and books on CD. A couple of favourites, Clan of the Cave Bear and Persuasion. I wanted books I had read so that I could see if the picture I make in my head would be much different than reading it. So far so fair, but there is so much I am missing as the reader reads. Paragraphs that I remember aren't heard at all. Maybe I fell asleep. So far, Jane Austen is too complicated, to much to really absorb the story in the read to me version while I knit.

I'm going to try Clan of the Cave Bear on Sunday and see if the simpler, though much longer story, will work better for knitting to.

I find movies are the same way. Some I can have playing while I knit and some just are not right for knitting to. Chick flicks are great to knit to. John Adams was superior to knit by. From the Earth to the Moon a little less so.

It just seems that when the subject matter catches me too deeply, or demands too much of me, the knitting suffers, or the movie suffers. Light, fun movies work well, and I think that it is going to be the same with books.

While listening to Persuasion today, I took off several rows and reknit on the back of my sweater. I measured it against an over blouse that fits well, and it was way to wide. I cast of 1/3 more stitches on the first row of arm shaping and that seems to have done the trick. It should fit as well as I could hope for.

Now I am going to go obsess over that Morigan Pattern from No Sheep For You by Amy Singer (from the library) and let the old internal debate wash over me. You love it but it isn't to your size, and it isn't going to upsize well, and it's a little complicated and detailed and would drive you nuts, but you love it and wouldn't it look great.

I'm not going there. I'm smart enough to know how much I can bite off, but I'll play the game anyway. Just to keep me on my toes.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Well, heck

I had big plans for the day. Big plans. The weather is not cooperating.

I had planned to wash sheep fleece today. I was going to do it outdoors in a big old fashioned washtub on my outdoor fire pit (which has a really sturdy grate on top). I had dreams of an nice spring day, sitting by the fire pit, communing with nature, sipping my coffee, feeling earthy and good. It was going to be my day late homage to earth day, and things natural.

Nature decided otherwise. There is a fine skiff of fresh snow out there, wee pellets of snow still falling, and with a moderate wind, it rates as miserable for a spring day. If this was still winter, it would only be moderately miserable. It could be worse.

So I am going to fall back on someone elses work, take advantage of linkiness, and point you to an Achenblog piece about sorting through stuff. (note the article about sheep) And this one from yesterday (or was it the day before) about discovering a new planet . Sublime, scientific, silly and profound all in one short span of days. With just a touch of flyaway hair.

A true renaissance man.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Photographs are amazing things

I'm always surprised the way things look in photos. It locks in on a moment of time and records it forever.

I love the way photos can reveal the heart of a knit in progress. The photo might show something that your eye misses up close, something that your mind isn't willing to see and sometimes a photo will show you an aspect of your work, a dimension that isn't standing out to you but that is there none the less. In the moment of capture, a photo sees more clearly than we are sometimes willing to admit.

Its like that with this little shawl I am working on. Its to offset the Lehe shawl, to give me my shawl quota when I know that my brain is too tired to work its way to patterns, too tired to read the charts with logic and clarity.

I'm knitting Shawl that Jazz but you know me, I have to change it and mess with it a bit. I'd like a few more shawls to wear to work and shawls for work mean something smaller than an average shawl, something with ends that are not going to get caught while you are looking for yarns, and running to find patterns, getting the phone, all those little workday things.

I think what I want to knit is really more of a Scarf that Jazz (begging your pardon, Sam). I am knitting the pattern with Silk Garden Sock yarn for no other reason than that a particular colour way spoke to me the other day.

I wasn't certain till today when I took some pictures if I liked the yarn in this simple garter stitch. I do. I am liking the colour of this section and this section, and I'm liking it so much that I'm quite sure this is the right yarn.

What I am not sure about is needles. I'm knitting it on fairly large needles, 5 mm and this may yet prove to be a mistake. I'm doing it for the silliest reason of all. When I started it, I could not find any smaller mm circulars, and I could not locate the 3.5 mm tips I wanted to use. I think I was so blinded my the urge to knit with the yarn and decided it would be prefectly fine to knit this on big needles. It may yet be, but it could also end up being something that loses badly knit so large.

I keep telling myself that it'll be fine, it will look lacy, it will be more of an openwork peice. Riiiiiiiiight.

There is a strong possibility that I am beguiled by the yarn and the simple knitting so much that I am blinded to the scale of each stitch,willing myself to think it will all be just fine. Right now it seems I am perfectly willing to let myself be led down the garden path.

It occurs to me that there may be something else at play. Its spring. Maybe I want to see flowers.

Here is something I am very pleased with, the Lehe shawls centre section. Even laying casually over a chair, unblocked, just stretched a little, this looks wonderful. I can't wait to see it complete. This one is a very satisfying sort of knit.

One good, one bad. I'm about even.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Alzheimer's and World Wide Knit In Public Day

A few years ago my mother in law, came to visit while the fellas went off to do guy things with their dad. A sister in law asked her to help with the salad and for the life of her she could not remember what to do to with the lettuce to make one. That was the beginning, the point where not a single one of us could hide from that fact that something was very, very wrong. She became deeply depressed, and paranoid, was afraid to sleep, and then became a little delusional. The diagnosis - dementia of unknown origin, probably Alzheimer's. It was just the beginning of the wildest and worst ride the family has ever been on.

In the years since her diagnosis, she has slowly lost things, slowly lost bit and pieces of herself and we are all that is left to remember them. Just this past week, she was put into a care facility where she will live out her days. and she is a lucky one. She will be in a place, surrounded by family and friends, who will visit and care even when she no longer knows who they are.

Alzheimer's is a curious disease. It has been recorded in human history almost as long as there has been human history. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew it. Like death, it levels all humans. Fame and fortune is no respite. In the end, in some very sorry and sad ways, the victims are in the better position. They don't know how much they miss while everyone around them recalls and remembers and suffers.

I work in a very small group of people, and with our diverse backgrounds, our separate experiences, our differences, we all of us, know someone or have had someone in our immediate family with it.

The store hosts a special event, Knitty in the City, to support the Alzheimer's Society the event is being held in conjunction with WWKIP day this year. Not only will there be fund raising, there will be fun. See River City Yarns home page, click on the links for Knitty in the City 2009 and WWKIP day to see more.

One of the things being sponsored is a charity knitting program. Knit from now to September and deliver the goods to River City and the mitts, hats, scarves, bibs, bed socks will all go to Alzheimer's wards in and around the city. There will be an auction in September of works of particularly good work and those proceeds will go to The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

My contribution is going to be bed socks and mittens (or maybe hats) to knit in some very washable, wearable soft yarn, Scheepjes Donna. Bed Socks because in the slightly heavier gauge they will be fast to knit and I won't need a pattern and mittens because May is fast approaching.

Elizabeth Zimmermann says in Knitter's Almanac 'Let's make them in May; let's take our time over them; let's venture into new approaches and designs; let's enjoy them. For the compulsive knitter, hot weather need not put a crimp in his or her activity. Large projects may lie heavy and warm on the lap, but small things like mittens and socks are easy to carry about outdoors, and can be made surprisingly fast. '

I'm interested in using her Mitered Mitten (Ravelry link) pattern, (I will check to see if this is taking liberties with copyright). I might just jazz them up a bit too. Surely I could do lace along the cuffs? Maybe a cable (note to self, may have to actually be able to remember how to do cables first)?

Anyway in support of the fund raiser for a cause that is very dear to my heart I am going to knit my way through a bag of really nice yarn. I might even start before May.

If you are interested in taking part in Knitty in the City 2009, call and register at River City Yarns. 780-477-9276. If you are looking for some great Alzheimer's resources, try some of these.

The Forgetting

Alzheimer's Society of Canada

Alzheimer's Association

The HBO documentary The Alzheimer's Project

Monday, 20 April 2009


I had to go digging in my stash today. Since I cleaned, organized and moved the furniture around in my study, the last two skeins of Mericash in that rich and glorious purple had vanished. But only into the void that is my stash.

I usually keep things tidy, sock yarn with sock yarn, lace with lace, sweater yarns with sweater yarns, but when my study and my boxes started getting full, it was every skein for himself, and some things got a little out of order.

There was a time when looking at my stash was un-inspiring. Everything felt neutral and if I squinted, it all looked like dishwater. Fine yarns all, but nothing that made your eyes sit up and take notice.

I think I'm over that now.

There are some pretty spring colours,There are some summer working colours, a good sturdy rust mix and a colour mix that just speaks of jeans and gardening.Some brilliant Welsh blues and oranges and everything in between.
There was a whole box that jumped up and looked me right in the eye and said colour, colour, colour.
Eventually, I found the Mericash, under a pile of books that need to be shelved properly, in a box with a bunch of other bright cheerful lace weights.

We still have a fair bit of snow in the yard. The north facing forested hill keeps thing wintry here long after spring is due, but in the mean time, all these brilliant colours are going to keep me chipper.

**yarns are top to bottom, Meilenweit Cotton Fun, Austerman Step, Colinette Jitterbug, and in the first box, left to right, Tanis Farms, Buffalo Gals, Lorna's Laces. Bottom, Nova Sock from Fleece Artist, Lucy Neatby's Celestial Merino, Handmaiden Cashmere, Misti Alpaca Sock. In the second box, clockwise from the top, Mericash purple, Knit Picks Shimmer hand dyed, HandMaiden greens and gold Sea Silk, Ella Rae bluegreen Merino Lace.**

Friday, 17 April 2009

"Stuck in the middle with you..

Here I am....'

Still in the middle. No exciting pictures, no snow falls (no melt either). No new yarn.

I'm in the middle of the scarf, in the middle of the second sock (you can get a lot of knitting done when you get a tire changed)in the middle of the shawl, in the middle of the sweater. In the middle on so many things.

Middles can be a little less than inspiring when everything is in the middle but I keep myself going by imagining the finishing. When you get to a middle, you can start to feel the end. Up till now it was just a hope you had, but once you are in the middle, you can see enough of it to get a real sense of what the finished project is going to look like.

Take the scarf for instance. When I try it on, its just a little more than half than half the length I want. I'm across the back of my neck in its unblocked state, so on blocking, it ought to be just down onto my second shoulder. I have mixed feelings about the colours. They are so different than what I usually wear, so much more brown toned than I am used to. I know they will look great with my teal jacket and they are doing the most interesting striping all the way down. They took me out of a funk and stale feeling. For this last alone, this scarf will be loved.

I'm looking forward to wearing this scarf for one reason beyond all the others. This scarf is going to remind me that different is good. Stepping beyond boundaries is good, trying something you haven't done before is very good. Looking forward makes the middle shorter.

I expect to finish this scarf soon, the socks really are coming along nicely, and the sweater is looking great even if I have to undo 8 rows (I mixed up a pattern stitch) and the shawl is still a knitters dream.

All in all middles are wonderful places.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

There are always days...

when you should have just stayed in bed. Yesterday was one of those.

On my way to work, I got a flat tire. Me being me, I did not recognize that fact till long after a normal person would have noticed it and would have stopped. Thankfully Mr. Needles was only a phone call away and got AMA to come out and put on the spare tire. (Soon I will be able to call AMA myself but it did come with a cost attached.)

When I finally got to work, the parking area was full, so I parked on the street. Its OK till 4 o'clock, but you have to get off the street during the afternoon rush hour. I forgot. I avoid street parking like the plague because I know I'll never remember to move my car. Of course I got a ticket.

Sometimes I just shake my head at how tiny the cocoon I live in is. If my cocoon is shattered and the world isn't going according to plan a, b or c, if it isn't in front of my face, it doesn't exist. If my internal calendar is off, it isn't going to happen.

And yet, my brain is full of trivia. I can remember tiny little details about all sorts of arcane things I read blurbs on 20 years ago. I know things like how post its were invented, and how J. S. Bach had 17 children. I remember most of the books I've ever read by plot and I can usually talk about my favourite character even though the name of the book escapes me and the authors name never even registered.

I have a brain full of trivia and bits and pieces of useless information, but I cannot remember the simplest little unexpected details for the life of me. I have a pretty good brain, I like to think, but it sure isn't one of those brains that works from logic and form. It's lot more like a puppy brain. Its good, its eager, it has a big capacity to learn. Aim me in the direction you want me to go, and I'm off . It's also easily distracted by Frisbees, games and will slobber at the simplest little things. Wave a piece of string in my face, or throw me a nice ball of yarn and I'll follow you anywhere. Best Buddies forever.

With all that, there was no way I was touching my purple shawl. No way was I going to attempt anything with counting. I could have worked on the socks, but sometimes, even I clue in. The world was telling me to stop.

Days like this remind me why I love knitting so very much. If I mess up, If I get a flat knitting tire, or if a project has been on the WIP pile a little long and has a parking ticket (!!), I can pull it all out, I can start it all over. When I pull it out, all that lovely yarn is once again just a pile of possibilities and nothing bad ever happened to it. Its slate is clean and fresh and new.

Knitting is going to have to be peripheral today, but I take great comfort from it. I have a ton errands to do today, and you can bet I am working from a written list. It starts with' fix tire'

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Mooshable Squooshable Yarns

Now where was I?

Ah yes. Squooshable yarns.

I'm not working on my lovely shawl today. It really demands more attention and awaklefulness than the early morning hours bring me, so I picked up the nice farmer socks I've got on the go, and am working on them. (and dishcloths, and the scarf and...)

Brings me to the subject of yarns I love to work with. Yarns with a mooshy squooshy sort of feel inspire me to great socks. I really am enjoying the Zitron Lifestyle, a seriously fine moosy squooshy yarn. Two sets of needles. I don't want to put the cuffs on till I am sure they are the exact same length and that I have every bit of this really great yarn used up. I always enjoy working with the turquoise Cool Wool 2000. (Lots of yarn here for heels, and cuffs. Not even going to think about worrying about it)

(left to right) red - Scheepjes Donna, fuschia pink - GGH Maxima, golden - Cara
handpainted - Mirasol Hacho, turquoise - Cool Wool 2000

I started thinking about the yarns I have in my stash that have these qualities, and realized its way beyond socks. I like this sort of feeling in a yarn no matter what kind of project I intend it to be for. I don't much worry about the fibres it is made out of either, so long as it has this lovely lofty bouncy feel.

There seems to be two things going on with all of these yarns. In part, it is due to how it is spun, and in part, due to these being all plied yarns. There are probably other reasons that these yarns feel the same, and a more technical person would know these things without a doubt. I'm going by instinct and feel, because that is after all, where it all begins and ends for me. The feel of a yarn in my hands.

Its an entire class of yarns, the bouncy, squooshable class, and there just doesn't seem to be an end to them coming across my radar any time soon.

red - Colinette Jitterbug, Multi - Australian Merino

I'm absolutely thrilled to see Australian Merino back in Canada. It was my first brush with this kind of yarn and I have been wishing for another chance at this brand for a long while. It was previously distributed in North America by the now gone Needful yarns, but has been picked up by another supplier. So its back, and I can rejoice.

The Colinette is in there just because it is too pretty to not include. That and well, it is a mooshable squoosable yarn.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


I woke early this morning. Deep of night to be truthful. I gave up and arose about 4 a.m. Its dark then so I'm not in the habit of looking outside. I came down to my study and sat and knit on socks for a while, and was all ready to post to the blog. It was going to be a great post, a fantastic post about how I love squooshy moshable yarns, the kinds of sock yarns that are just too yummy to ignore. ( I'd never ignore a sock yarn)

And that is when I realized we had a little problem. My satellite internet connection was not working.

Last night it snowed. A little.

Low angle shot taken by guest photgrapher, Mr. Needles.

Then before I left for work, it snowed a little more. And when I was at work it started blowing and blew even this lovely wet heavy sticky snowinto drifts and piles like nobody's business. Spring snows seldom have drifting but this one had power and not a little fury behind it.

By the time I left work, the wind was down dramatically, the sun was out and the big melt was on. Where this morning cars were pushing through 4 inches of slush, this afternoon, the pavement was dry.

Such is spring on the Canadian prairies.

Mr. Needles, who does all our outdoor grilling, shoveled himself a path to the barbeque, and away we go. But I'm going to have to get him to sit a spell. He is clearly losing his mind.

He thinks there are two aliens sitting in our chairs holding hands, but it's obviously Mr. and Mrs. Snowman who have lost their heads sitting in the chairs holding hands.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Come Monday Morning

I had a marvelous weekend working on lace. Really marvelous. Only one mistaken row, where the yo's were out of order to rip back for, but nothing to make me rethink my decision to skip a lifeline. The pattern has wrong side rows that only are purl and garter stitch so that is my lifeline. I love the yarn, I love the design. Still in heaven.

Lest I wax on rhapsodic just a little too long, this morning I cast on for a dishcloth. The bachelor pad (established a couple weeks ago by my eldest and second sons) is in need of dishcloths. Not that they use a lot of dishes, nor that they have a lot of dishes, but everybody needs something to wipe up with at some point. I'm knitting dishcloths this morning.

A dishcloth is sort of like the socks of the kitchen world. Socks are the utlimate in handknit clothing, so simple and basic that they are profound.

So is a dishcloth. Nothing wipes up better than a knitted or crocheted dishcloth. Nothing soaks up spills better. Besides my lone knitted duster attempt, dishcloths are my lone household useful article (Doilies don't count. They are lacy but mildly less than useful in the kitchen) I'm not a kitchen kitsch sort of person but I am a huge fan of dishcloths.

Dishcloths at 20 paces. That is my knitting for this morning. Here is hoping I can whip a simple one up in one day.

Friday, 10 April 2009

I'm gonna get me some more.

My oh my, I am having a good time.
This is the center section of the Lehe Shawl from Estonian Lace. I'm well into the first ball of yarn and the bulk of the centre pattern is now established. I'm being very careful of my stitch counts and am taking a good look at it after each wrong side row.

This yarn, Punta Mericash, quite defies description. It's warm and rich and airy at the same time. Even now I can tell it is going to be heaven.

Its going to be like dancing in that lovely feathery elegant dress with Fred Astaire singing softly to your heart.


I think there will be more of this in my future. Maybe even in my immediate future.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

With a Little Slothfullness On the Side.

Sloth could be an aversion to work or an avoidance of work. It could be laziness, and it could be a very slow moving South American animal.

In my case, I mean to say I am reluctant to commit myself, I am disinclined to stick to one thing, I avoid my work because there are other things to do.

I'm a little tired of my sweater, my scarf and my current socks. I have no problem ignoring a bunch of noisy things I ought to finish on the work in progress pile (growing at a fantastic rate) . I can leave the dishes and the laundry till the cows come home. (I don't own any cows, so it will be a while)

What I just can't ignore any longer is Knitted Lace of Estonia (local to Edmonton, River City Yarns has a couple copies)and the Lehe Square shawl pattern. And the Punta Mericash yarn.

I was dreaming of these things. I'm not sure what it means when you dream of yarn and pattern when you sleep but clearly, this yarn, pattern and I are destined to meet sooner rather than later. This mornings work has been to wind yarn. As you can see, it is on the swift, but not the ball winder.

This yarn is so delicate, so light, that I just feel it needs a little gentler handling than my ball winder will do. It is so soft, it feels as if pulling with any tension at all is going to harm this lovely and delicate thing. It isn't though. I've tried a little strength test on the end of it, and while it looks and feels like angels wings, it isn't going to fall apart anytime soon. It could be done on the ball winder, but it isn't the way I prefer to handle it.

Besides, the ball winder is buried under a bunch of yarn...I think. It is missing somewhere in the middle of the cleaning and tidying the study detritus (fixing this is much more important than dishes or laundry and I will attend to it today) and I could not see it in the early morning light.

Sometimes, there is a good reason to go a little slower, do it a little more manually. It gives me more than the usual time handling this and seriously, any time spent playing with this wonderful purple is time well wasted.

My motto.

And that is exactly what I am going to do today.


I started knitting just after I posted earlier. I cannot tell you enough how luscious this yarn is. Wait till you see some pictures. Here's hoping the pictures will look even half as good as it does in front of me.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The very merry middle

"See the piggy,

See the puddle,

See the muddy little puddle.

See the piggy in the middle

Of the muddy little puddle.

See her dawdle, see her diddle

In the muddy, muddy middle.

See her waddle, plump and little,

In the very merry middle."

(Piggy in the Puddle, Charlotte Pomeranz, 1989)

This wonderful rhyming children's book has remained in my memory long past the point where my children needed stories read to them. this morning, I find myself 'In the very merry middle'.

Having found myself there on a regular basis, I have decided its going to be fun. The pictures look about the same as before, though the projects are just a little larger and the photos are taken from a different angle.

The sweater, back completed to the arm and moving along quite nicely. Just look at that stitch definition.
The scarf with its luscious puddles of muddied colours (tones of colours actually!), just going into the long middle section, A speedy knit.The sock, just about to where I would normally insert the heel. Lots and lots of yarn left, so I may widen the calf some, and knit a taller than normal sock, before getting to the glorious turquoise for the ribbing.

There you go. 3 middles. I'm off to go dawdle and diddle in the very merry middle of my own muddy little puddle.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The next thing in my head.

I'm pretty sure there is something I am forgetting to write down, sure there was something I meant to take some pictures of, but for the life of me, I can't think of what it was. I could take a picture of my still piles of snow, but even that isn't what it was yesterday. It was + 14 C yesterday and a lot of snow melted. It is looking like spring everywhere but right here in my north facing hill of a yard. In my yard, the snow piles look kind of sickly, watery, shrunken and older, but they are still there. Old man winter lives long here but gets decrepit and cranky at the end.

Knitting continues apace on the sweater, the Drop Stitch Scarf is moving right along, the socks are still on the needles and are being worked on, whenever I get a minute, but nothing is so earth shattering that it needs a new picture.

About the only interesting thing is that I am sitting here having a big cup of coffee, and that isn't at all interesting.

I can tell you I am contemplating shawls. I've thought about doing a Pi Are Square Shawl for some time. It is another EZ project from one of her books and that is one of my goals for the year. I have found some interesting yarn to work with and I can't wait.

I have a couple skeins of Kauni in the greens colourway, EK. One of the things I have noticed about shawls made from Kauni is that the ones that appeal to me are usually made with a center increase, or shawls that have a circular shaping. There are some beautiful Shetland ( a Ravelry link) shawls and I'd make the chevron styled Northern Lights shawl in a heartbeat but everyone who uses Kauni is doing this one.

The Pie Shawl is going to do exactly what I want for this yarn. Its going to give the colourway a circular flow and then a masterful square shaping along the front. I may or may not do a lace pattern. That will depend on how long the colourways are as I move down the shawl.

This could be a really really big shawl. I have enough yarn for one, but for practical purposes, I don't want to be floundering in it. Shawls that are just right let you knit while wearing them. I want this to be a warm shawl to wear here at home, but I want it to be small enough that it will fit under my winter coat.

Here I sit, dreaming of next year, thinking of next winter when this one is hardly over. I wonder if this is the Canadian way, or it is just me. This shawl is going to have to be summer knitting. With this shawl and that lovely purple Punta Mericash lacy weight yarn in the wings for a design from Estonian lace, I can already tell what kind of summer I am going to have.

Its going to be a lovely lacy one.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Bright and early on a Monday morning

One of the non knitting things which has taken bits and pieces of my time this winter has been the final finishing of Mr. Needles study. It was done but for wall papering the massive panels on the end wall, the closet, and all the trim. As ever, Mr. Needles is in charge of construction and I am in charge of painting, staining, and wallpapering. Voila. Finis.

If you want the look of cherry 'woodwork' to match cherry look furniture, it can be done with a little plastic, some basic white moulding, a couple of panels of cherry look shelving material and a couple little cans of dark walnut and burgundy coloured stains. All that is left is the cleaning and tidying. That will happen when the cleaning of the corners happens, an ongoing issue here at the House of Needles.

Those days last week really felt like a holiday even though they were not. I accomplished a lot and got some corners tidied and on occasion, I sat and knit. And Sunday, I knit a lot. I worked on several pairs of socks, that interesting drop stitch scarf and something completely new.

Friday at knitting, I cast on for a sweater. I planned to begin with my lovely red Cloud Cotton, but because the basic sweater is from a book I have not knit from before, I dug in the stash to get out the blue Cloud Cotton from a long time ago. This nice yarn never quite developed into what I was working on. It was just sitting on a shelf, wound and ready to go.

The book is Sally Melville's Purl, and the sweater is called Another Coco Jacket. The design and yarn are well balanced, and the only changes I am making is a wee bit of upsizing to fit. It is this mild stitch or two upsizing that makes me very conservative with my precious Red Cloud Cotton.

I am really pleased with the fabric. If Cloud Cotton has a flaw, it is it's very very matte nature. There is no play of light within it, there are no secrets hiding among its strands. Its there, straight up, hiding nothing, a simple yarn. The stitch pattern, with its offsetting blocks of patterns, stockinette, garter, and reverse stockinette, give the blue yarn depth and interest, making a most pleasing fabric. (Gratuitous second shot - it's that nice.)
The other thing the blue yarn is doing for me, is showing me exactly how much yarn a sweater with sleeves is going to use. In my ever paranoid state of mind, I am sure I am going to run out of yarn, even when I have dozens of skeins on hand. I have 12 skeins, 150 metres a skein, of the blue. I know, I know. It will make a whole sweater but deep inside, there is always that doubt. What if.

When I work on the red yarn, I want to know exactly how much mileage I'm going to get.

Its working up fast, but I don't want to jinx myself. It will be done when it is done.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Its Still Friday

I woke up with an urge to check the calendar again. Was it Friday or was it Saturday and I had to work?

Its still Friday and you have no idea how this small thing blows me away. I've had 3 days off in a row. And not so long ago I had a week off. And just before that, near Christmas I had another more or less week off. And in the fall I found a week off. And there were a few times in summer where it felt like I had a week off.

In the 15 years I worked at my previous job, it felt like I never had time off, even when I had time off. Especially those last 5 years. A weekend felt like an hour and weeks off were things I didn't even have time to ask for. Actually having time off was not the problem. I did, though not nearly enough. The problem began and ended in my head, letting myself feel like everything was too compressed. It was a stressful way to think and it has taken months to train myself to think in a different way.

These days, with my work a bit, play a bit, and playing at work is totally ok sort of life, I'm starting to feel like grocery shopping is not a major event, like haircuts really only take 20 minutes, and as if I can stop for a few minutes on any given day and sit and have a cup of coffee and read or knit without totally screwing up my life.

Part of me is sitting here wondering is this how normal feels? All of me is counting my blessings at how very lucky I am.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Sweet Spot, Round Two

The sweet spot revealed itself. What an interesting knitting adventure.

See what you think. I be happy to hear your opinions.

This is the sample from yesterday, the 46 stitch wide sample. There is a very strong coppery colour pattern happening here. That strong v is definitive. It was interesting and cool and was repeating itself on the last rows I did after the photo was taken. Note how on the garter stitch rows, the colours repeat in the same general area as on the drop stitch rows? This makes the colour sections stronger, sharper more clear and well defined. The sample doesn't quite give a replay of the lozenge effect that showed so beautifully on the original design, but it is quite clearly saying something.

This 36 stitch sample shows a colour pattern but it is quite different than the 46 stitch sample. The blues show up more in the original design's waves, but once again, it is the coppery colour that tells the tale of the sweet spot. Though the lozenges of drop stitches show off the blues a little more boldly, the copper and gold are showing up strongly across the garter stitch rows. The effect is a little more subtle up close, but it is enough that the whole scarf is muddied and muddled. It just isn't saying what I want it to say. It isn't serving the yarn well.

These are beautiful colours, this is splendid yarn, and I want it to show off and be vibrant and wild and just a little bit of a rebel. These colours spoke to me, and who am I to muddy what they say.

I'll be ripping it back one more time, and restarting at 46 stitches.

Searching for the sweet spot has been interesting from the perspective of this one particular skein of yarn, but I think I learned a lot more than that. I've always felt that you have to look at a handdyed yarn a little differently, but I never understood why quite so clearly before.

In other BIG news, I got a letter from Stitches Saskatchewan yesterday. I got the class I hoped for, the Yarn Harlot's Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.

I am tickled pink. Bright Pink.

I should go sit down make a cup of tea and get hold of myself.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Sweet Things

I am on a quest, a serious mission, and it has debunked my waiting for springish funk. I'm in search of the sweet spot.

The yarn is from Indie Dyer, a maker of glorious skeins of jewels. Its a wonderful yarn to play with, very soft and lustrous, and there is between 350 - 400 metres here (I didn't look at the band at all) I saw this one, down on the bottom of the finer sock yarn rack at the store, a little out of the way. The orange has got a little more depth and variation than the photo shows. Its much more copper, the yellow a richer deeper gold, the turquoise much more sated and dense.

I knew instantly that this was just what I needed to help me get out of my funk. I don't wear orange and coppers and brown at all. Copper and orange make me sallow and brown just turns me invisible, but I have a teal jacket that is exactly right for this yarn. Its a nice little jacket. It's warm enough for coat days, but not so warm that you have to take it off when you get to where you are going. It's been a close companion for several years, and though there still is some life left in her, a little pick me up is required.

Getting the scarf going is another matter entirely. I started at least 5 times. I tried a chevron lace design (you knit a chevron pattern into a stockinette ground using yarn overs). Nice, but not for this yarn. I tried a feather and fan. Blech. Icky. Phooey. I tried a Mrs. Hunter's stitch, but it felt like colour interrupted. I tried alternating garter ridges and stockinette. I tried just stockinette and seed stitch edges. Nothing showed off the yarn the way I saw the yarn. Nothing took advantage of its rich heart.

Strongly coloured yarns need careful handling. You have to find the sweet spot, that perfect balance between pattern and yarn. For strong hand paints, it is that point where the pattern is lacy enough to be seen but the lace is content to let the marvelous colours be the star.

I might have found it here.

This is the Frazzled Knitters' Easy Drop Stitch Scarf. This is one of those little things that lists high on Ravelry's list of popular scarf patterns. Its simple, works in all kinds of yarn, and with careful handling, is magical in handpainted yarns.

If you take a good look at the pattern photo, you can see she hit the sweet spot of the scarf exactly right. Her colours wave across the scarf perfectly nestled in each drop lozenge. Serious magic.

Her yarn is a heavier than my sock yarn weight. I cast on 46 stitches to her 26 to get the sort of scarf width I'm looking for. I'm close to the sweet spot. There is a dramatic v shaped ebb and flow of coppery orange, but I am not sure if this is the look I want out of this wonderful yarn. I'm not sure I found this particular skeins sweet spot.

I'm going to knit one more repeat just to see if this trend keeps showing up and to see if I like the way it pulls together. It is quite possible that I'll be restarting yet again, aiming for a scarf of 36 stitches. From the way the pattern is working up, that 36 stitches might give me the same dramatic drifts of colour as the original.

If you swing a golf club, you want to hit the ball with the sweet spot on the clubs head. I've never done this in my life, and it probably has a lot do do with the way I play golf. I don't worry too much about this. In golf, I'm just content when I hit the ball.

I'm going to keep trying for the sweet spot with this yarn. I have no doubt with some patience and practise and a little fooling around, I'm going to find it.