Friday, 31 July 2009

Because I said I would

I fully intended to be poking fun at myself this morning but I am sitting here a little dazed and confused instead. I'll tell a different story instead.

I was joking around the other day with a good friend about atrocious knitting and I told her about these horrid Christmas stockings I knit in the time before I knit.

OK, let me explain. I learned to knit in Brownies, and when my kids were small, I tried a few things. I knit some wee raglan sleeved sweaters for the two oldest boys, I knit a sweater for my husband, a cabled thing of beauty. It really was fine, though the neckline was wonky and he never wore it. I knit my mom a vest, I knit these Christmas stockings and knit a bright cheery yellow sweater for myself that wore out many, many years later.

And then I stopped. I desperately wanted to go farther, to learn more. I wanted to know why my way of knitting was doing what it was doing when I was making decreases. I stopped at a nice yarn store, and asked if they could help me with my problem, if they knew anyone who could teach me, but I got this funny stoney eyed stare, that made me feel like they were saying, 'so you are too stupid to figure it out for yourself?'. I think that was when I ran. The negative reaction was too much. Other than the lady I learned from in Brownies, I had never seen any person in the place I lived actively knitting. I was alone, and deeply insecure about my ability. I put the needles away, and decided that I only crocheted.

I quit and anything I knit was remembered and viewed as a memory of a failing.

I was charmed back into knitting by some good friends, the Yarn Harlot, and a stuck Internet connection. That was when I became a knitter. I count this as the beginning whenever I am asked. I may have to rethink that.

I've always remembered the cabling in my past, but I did not remember this. It seems I did some colourwork. I did some fair isle. I did a sort of intarsia, not correctly, but I did it. I thought I had embroidered these on in duplicate stitch.

The white stocking is the first because it's toe is about an inch and a half longer than I wanted it to be. I just tucked the excess inside the toe and called it good. The colourwork is really not very good. The stitches are a little uneven and there is a pretty clear difference to the quality of the work on the green sock. I'm pretty sure I did the green sock last because it is the only one where the stitches don't bind in the colour work bands. I even did a cable on the ribbings.

I had no pattern and I made them a way I knew I could knit. They are not gracious, they are not particularly fine, and yet, looking at them with they eyes of a knitter, I would not judge that much younger me so harshly.

I would give her some grace, admire her sense of adventure, and applaud her need to know. I would put my hands over hers on the needles and show her the things she did not understand, and tell her that learning knitting would be a lifetime process. I would point out that she did intarsia and colourwork without any instructions at all, and I would pat her on the back and let her know she did a great job for a first timer. I would make sure she understood that knitting was not lost to her, and that she didn't knit wrong, just different.

And since I work in a yarn store, I would also show her the Harrisville yarns and a book full of perrie patterns.

Without my friend and a joke about bad knitting we have done, these sorry looking Christmas stockings would have just stayed a little joke between me, Christmas, and some really bad needles. Without my friend, I would never have seen that even then, there lurked within me the soul of a knitter.

I am so thankful that knitting brought me such a wonderful, warm and funny friend. You teach me to see with better eyes.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Learning to spin

I've been working on spinning for a while now, and though the process is fascinating, I suffer from an extreme lack of confidence in the quality of the yarn I produce. It really is to the point of goofiness. I hate the thought of showing my yarn because I don't think its any good (way to much thick and thin, way to much underspun/overpsun) and yet I need to show my yarn to spinners so I can ask questions, like am I getting the spinning thing, and can I call this yarn. I understand the basics, but there are some things I have read online that just leave me mystified and there are some things that I have read that just don't quite make a lot of sense in the grander scheme of things. With the new Julia wheel on the way, and the Babe sitting here begging for me to spin on it, I felt strongly that I needed a little guidance.

A little while ago, I read that Maggie Casey was doing a spinning video with Interweave. I was intrigued. I know Maggie Caseys reputation as a teacher. It was more money than I usually spend on one book/video at a time, but I considered it, and in the end, I decided that a well produced video was going to go a long way in my becoming a confident spinner.

The video was delivered Tuesday and with the later than usual start time at work, I spent yesterday morning with Maggie.

What a great video. Listening to Maggie teach spinning seems to make all things possible. She teaches with a quiet confidence and your are surrounded by it and before long, just the sound of her voice makes you believe that you will be a good spinner. She talked about how to tell if your yarn has enough spin, how to tell when it is too much, what to look for in plying, how to draft, whether you need to draft all the time, how thin, how thick, how much...I could go on, but the bottom line is, in just an hour I spin with a whole lot more confidence and sureness. The picture shows I still have the same problem creating yarn. Quality is going to be a while and will take some practise but at least I feel that I am going in the right direction and I feel better about it.

And when I need to hear it again, I can just insert the video again. Or listen to disk two. That is the really wonderful part. She covers the basics on disk one, in just over an hour, and then discusses a lot more on disk two. This isn't just one class with Maggie. It is more. Disk two covers carding and combing (timely help) spinning with a long draw, spinning worsted, spinning from the fold, and working with exotic fibres. I can't hardly wait to get to that part.

I feel a lot more comfortable with the quality of what I make on my wheel. I feel like I know the direction to go in, and I feel like I now have a map for when I am unsure and feel like I lost my way.

Thank you Maggie, Thank you. It would have been hard to try to get to one of your classes, but now you are just a TV away.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Holly Yeoh Days

I've been taking a few classes this week. We have a Vancouver instructor and designer, Holly Yeoh, in town.

Holly designs some really cute things for kids out of some of the most interesting and fun yarns on the market, sock yarns. Her sense of play and fun with these already fun yarns is amazing. I can see much much more in her future. She's is featured in the current issue of Twist Collective

She is teaching classes in all sorts of things and I was lucky enough to get into her lace and glove class. I must also mention that the lace class was supposed to be during my work hours, but I was allowed to sit and work on the class anyway (Did I mention I work for the best people?)

Like a lot of designers, her class has a special small design for class participants. Its a lovely little lace scarf, with some interesting beading, knit in mohair. Being the chicken sort, chicken to work with mohair, that is, I choose Rowan's Kid Silk Haze for my project, in the bright apple green Jelly colour. If you are going to start a mohair thing, knit with the best. It is a simple lace and though I have knit lace before, and I have done a little bit of beading, I have not knit on beads and I have not worked with mohair. It better be simple!I am pleased to say, I can now do both, and I learned a few little tidbits that are going to make the knitting of these things all the easier. It is the little things I learn in classes that stand me in good stead across all the knitting I do.

Yesterday I took a class in glove making. Gloves have always seemed like fiddly work, way to busy and technical for me, but just like socks, there are a few neat little things to learn, and away you go.

No full on picture, because there is something about this one that you ought to see when you take a class, and yes, you really ought to take the class whenever you can. A class like this is when you get to meet the heart of the designer and this designer is surrounded by a strong sense of fun and play. You can see it in her designs and you can really see it in her class samples.

You also get a little window into her thought process when she is knitting. There is a detail on her Guess Who? glove pattern, that makes you really understand and appreciate exactly what designers do and how they think about some very little things. It is the interesting little thing about this pattern, and about her innovative way of doing the connections between parts that make her design something really special.

This winter, I plan to make some gloves for Mr. Needles and myself. I prefer gloves for driving and I can see a time and place for glove/mitten combinations for both of us, but up till now, the thought of all the little tubes for fingers just hurt my head. I'm looking forward now, to something I put down to best avoided before and that delights me to no end.

So much of my journey here in the land of knitting (On cleaning my study I pulled out Cast Off by the Yarn Harlot. Does it show?) has been about simply accepting the challenge and asking the questions. The knitting is not so hard. It is the getting over the avoidance of it that is hard. I'm tickled to say that getting over the fear continues.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Heartbreak of...

Today I am suffering from something akin to the heartbreak of psoraiasis. Sigh.

I realized as I was putting the knitting away after its photo session that as proud as I was of the beginning of the little baby sweater, I must rip. The photos quite clearly show the problem.
Arrow pattern, top photo - 3 and 3. Bottom photo - 3 and 2.

I changed to the plain white row half the sweater too soon.
You'd think with all the little ends showing up here, that there is no possible way to mess up which side is the end of the row and where you change to the next part of one's stitch pattern.


At least I noticed before I was halfway up the sweater.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Took a little break

I knit my heart out this weekend. I knit on the shawl till I was at clue 4 and then I knit a little more. I knit the shawl till I just needed to take a break from the shawl. Mystery or not, sometimes you just have to step back and breathe.

This morning I picked it up again and did another couple rows. It looks like it did last week. Not too impressive is it? That is the nature of lace, I suppose. Looks like a loosely strung together pile of string till you block it. I can show you the pile of string look, but I can't show you what I see when I stretch it out. I'm really really pleased with how looks then. A toast to the designer, Ms. ThatLoganChick.

I needed to escape the lace, so I did as I always do: started another project. I know, but it so cute. I took that Mission Falls 136 and began a something for my niece. I had been thinking of a baby surprise sweater, but this is just so much better. I still have Meg Swansen's 'Knitting' from the library and the cover sweater is inspiring me to take these marvelous neutrals and turn them into a wee baby sweater. I'll steek it and make it into a cardigan, but doesn't it look cute just like this? I'll keep it simple, I think, just the little arrowhead pattern, in both directions, and maybe a x and o pattern for hugs and kisses in between. Well, that is the plan, but simple is my first focus. You don't want to overwhelm a little one with too much pattern. Planning out the colour work would be easier if I had an odd number of colours to work with, but I have plenty of yarn, so I'm sticking just with these, and seeing what happens. So far, I'm pleased.

The other thing I did this weekend was to move all my knitting back to my study. In spring I moved upstairs. My heater died, and my room was just too darn cold, so I sat and knitted in the sunny the big dining room window. With the heat of summer, its time to move back down. I cleaned and tidied and made it a good place to be again. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed sitting down here, with its cheery yellow, and its bright airy atmosphere. The big for a basement window is the blessing of having a front walkout, and I intend to air the room out good as soon as we have a cool day.

Knitting in the study felt a little like being home after a vacation. Its like I am reacquainting myself with all my little fripperies. I'm paging through books, I'm looking at yarn, I'm admiring my collection of little blue and white things.

I'm very contented. I have some very pretty things, I'm knitting and it's good to be back.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Building a Mystery

I'm working on the midway point of the mystery KAL shawl clues. The pattern is working out to be quite lovely, but seeing how I am just about to start the last row of clue 3, I am really starting to feel the long slow middle.

It kind of funny to feel the shawl rather than knowing. Usually when you start a project, you have a clear idea of what to expect. With a mystery knit along, you never see ahead. All you have is what is on your sheet for the week.

In the first couple clues, the rows are so short and the knitting so interesting. Challenged with new stitches and interesting shapes and the quest for the right yarn muddled in the too, it knit so quickly. When I started clue 3, I didn't feel as if the rows were long at all. The rows zipped by and each time I came to one of the 4 markers I needed to keep things straight, I felt a little zap of surprise. It seemed all I could do to finish each purl row, so I could zoom off on the next pattern row, to lay out the whole and see what my stitches and yarn were becoming.

This morning, working on these last rows of clue 3, it is starting to hit me. I'm not at the beginning anymore. Shawls, particularly triangle shawls, such as this is, have a hidden middle. You feel the end of clue 3 must be the middle since there are 6 clues to the shawl. Logic tells you that you there is no way you are at the middle, because you just moved into the second ball of yarn, and it says you need about 700 metres for the whole shawl. The rows are starting to feel long. I'm starting to feel a wee bit let down when I realize that this section of faggoting is only the middle of the plain row and not the end of the row. The stitches are just beginning to have a really crowded look and it takes a bit of effort now to see the pattern on these 32 inch cables. Even as I know that I am just now coming up to the middle, it is time to begin to prepare my head for the long, long rows to come.

I know there can't be too many rows left by row count, but what is left is the long rows. All of the long rows. That simple faggoted middle point marked so carefully on these shorter rows, is going to be something to look for and look forward too. It is going to be the place where I can stop to breathe, can stop to refresh my brain just as much as the short ends used to be.

I have the pattern for section 4, the current clue, and I can feel a little of how it will look, but it is just beginning to hit me how different this process is. I've read mysteries before. I like movies that are not too transparent, and keep a little left for me to guess along the way but I've never quite understood why so many people joined these mystery knit alongs. I never quite understood the mystique.

I get it now. I understand. Stitch by unknowing stitch, you can't help but feel that you are making the mystery, that it couldn't quite happen without you. It becomes part of you, and you become part of it.

Building a mystery. An interesting way to work, a fascinating process on your needles.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

A Special Request or an Ode to Mr. Needles

A friend was asking about the photos of my kitchen the other day, and was having a little trouble seeing the evolution. I promised I would assist.

Before renos begin, the main kitchen. Note dishwasher placement. (highly technical installation. The waterline went through the floor to a set of taps)

Back Hall, pre reno.Toward the dining room at the east end of the house.
The walls are out at the back door end of the room.
Putting in a big window.
Ready to paint.
A finished dining room with a BIG window.

I still enjoy looking at this montage. (I have not seen the kitchen this clean since)

We had a fellow to do the wiring, and we had a guy come in to do the drywall, plastering and ceiling. The cabinet company sent an installer (though Mr. Needles said he would do it if we ever do this again - in another house). And flooring. We had a guy do that so we could qualify for the warranty. Otherwise, every single molecule of work was done by Mr. Needles. (Well I did sweep up)

When you add up the various exterior shots over the years, and consider his recent and masterful concrete wall building, add in a similiar major bathroom renovation, and that he redid the family and laundry area in many and various ways, you get an idea of just how handy a guy Mr. Needles is.

He is like Mikey. He can do everything.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Baby Things

I've been knitting in the dining room for the last while. This is leading to a huge (humongous, mountain) pile of things upstairs that for all intents and purposes really ought to be downstairs. I'm not really content with this, , but knitting in the dining room has one splendid benefit. On a sunny day, just as the sun crests over the trees, it comes right in the east window and makes certain yarns shine.
I was working on the shawl KAL (knit along) yesterday, the sun shone and the entire room filled with the magic of some pretty garnet coloured yarn. You don't have to be a gemstone to flash.

I spent a lovely day off knitting with some of the most inspiring knitters and then took a little trip to River City's new south side store.

Oh my what an elegant space. They have done some things with their displays that are absolutely striking. Towards the back they have the stock of animal and bast fibres. Brilliant garlands of colours, flowing down the racks. Its absolutely marvelous. These rivers of colour skirt a large classroom and work area. The yarn is along the walls of the store in the best storage for yarn, a standard cube, but like everything else at River City, its a magical display. The ribbon yarns display is really a sight to behold. Down the centre of the store there are elegant little displays of yarn and pattern, and some seriously fine spots to stop and read, or just to sit and take in the sights.

I didn't really have a goal, but I did get the chance to visit some of the yarns that are no longer in the north store. I visited a little with the Garn Studio Alpaca (I miss you). I stopped and played with the Silk Tweed. I also spied what will be one of the feature yarns of the new store, Mission Falls 136.

I've been wanting to try this yarn for a long while. It is superwash, just like its big brother 1824 Wool. It has the same rich colour palette. It is just the right thing for the next new baby on the way. One of my favourite nieces is due in mid September and this young lady really deserves something special. A real heart of gold kind of girl.

136's colours are stunning. Grouped together for display at the store, you can just about see the project taking shape right in front of you. though it doesn't look it, there is a green cast to these taupes and creams. That darkest colour really is a green (though it is a very brown earthy sort of green). There will be a Baby Surprise Jacket, I think. But a little more. I have plenty of yarn to do a nice blanket too. There is an interesting one in Opinionated Knitter.

Then again, I might knit for baby's first spring. I have a little time to think about it yet. For now I will sit back, consider the yarn, and just revel in the possibilities of knitting.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Attention pattern writers

Dear Pattern writers,

I was helping a lady with a pattern yesterday. She should have been able to get gauge with the yarn she had and the needles she was using, but it was elusive. Finally, I took the book and was reading the pattern details one more time. The gauge in the book is not over the standard 4 inches in pattern, it is over 5.

Who writes things over 5 inches? Why would you write over 5 inches. Who do you think you are to be messing with a principle tenet of pattern writing? Are you out of your mind?

I know exactly why it was done. It was to make the stitch count a nice round number, but for heavens sake, this couldn't have been edited by anyone who regularly edits knitting patterns. Seriously, who ever heard of a gauge swatch being 13.75 cm. I mean really.

10 stitches over 4 inches is a whole lot different than 10 stitches over 5.

There ought to be a law. Or something. Harrumph.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Knitting among other things

It was a very busy weekend, and I got a lot of knitting done and yet, it feels like I hardly did anything.

I knit on the red socks I showed you the other day. I finally have the heel figured out and was happily knitting along, till I realized that one side had 19 gusset increases and the other side had 25. Had I been only 1 or two stitches apart, I would have kept right on going but 6 stitches is too much, so I have to go back and redo the gusset knitting. If I may say so, Diamond's Footloose is a good and sturdy yarn and isn't showing a lick of wear where the heel stitches have been done so many times. (4 times IIRC. I am trying to forget)

Then I knit on the mystery shawl and came to a decision. The designer has noted that the shawl needs fairly firm blocking and to be sure that your yarn is strong enough. This yarn is never going to be strong enough for it. It broke a second time just pulling it from the yarn cake. And it wasn't even binding, it just broke. I'd really love to work with the lace weight, but it isn't going to be right for this project. A Wisp might be just the ticket for this pretty pink.

I went to the stash and dug till I found something that I had enough of. I found some really nice Garnet Heather Palette in my stash, 4 balls, plenty for the shawlette. A good yarn for the hard blocking.I picked up and gave it a go. In an hour and a half, I knit to one repeat short of the second clue. Much more like it.

Then while visiting with family, I knit on my charity project. I've been neglecting it, and since I really enjoyed thoughtless knitting after the shawl and sock events, I just kept right on knitting it. Amazing what you can do when you sit down and just knit simple for a while. First pair done. Second pair on the go. The project is heelless bed socks and I hope that people in wheel chairs and who are confined to bed can help to stay warm with them on their toes.
The yarn is Donna from Scheepjes, the nicest little bend of micro fibre and wool.

Maybe I am being a bit too hard on myself. I'm going to have to re-think that feeling of not having accomplished enough. I did after all make significant progress on two projects, did a relief inch on the little Eye of Partridge shawl and finished some socks. I also listened to one complete book, (A Beautiful Mind), watched a movie, visited with family twice, visited once with imaginary friends, and talked to my sister on the phone for a couple of hours. Plus laundry and a few other household chores (which there is no way I did enough of and I am not sure I care - much)Surely I can give myself enough of a break to accept that I got a lot done this weekend.

I'm working on that next.

Friday, 17 July 2009

The Friday File

I wish I had more knitting to show for a peaceful day off. I knit a little, read as much as I could cope with and then spent some time snoozing in the sun. It was great.

I stopped by the library on Tuesday and found a copy of Meg Swansen's Knitting on the shelf. Wow. Just Wow. When I grow up...

And I also found a copy of Richard Rutt's History of Hand Knitting. The scope of this work is breathtaking. The detailed analysis of the early work is amazing. I love this kind of History.

I'm pondering the knitting I did do yesterday. I worked on the red socks. I'm at the interesting part (the heel) and I suspect that I will be pulling it out again. See up till now, when I knit socks with a gusset, I don't do the plain knit row between the decrease (or increase round as the case may be). It still works out and I don't have to think about anything. As Cat Bordhi found, as long as it is within that particular area of the sock construction, it works.

Not so with this heel. I've been struggling with this heel for a while. I like knitting it better than other short row heels, but the fit hasn't been right. There always was too much fabric at the ankle, even though my stitch count was right. After ripping and redoing and ripping a second time, and redoing, I think I get it.

This is the one heel where those knit rounds between the increase rounds matter. A lot. If you don't have those plain rounds between the knit rounds, you finish the heel work too soon, and the entire ankle area is out of kilter.
When I try on these socks, the completely decreased gusset stitches are still below my ankle. To get to the nice upright cuff of the sock, what I am doing is, in effect, knitting those rounds I skipped. You can see the difference best if you look at my photo and see the height of the completed gusset and then go over to Wendy Knits and check out this link. See where her gussets finish? Yup. The lazy hazy way I've been doing it means that there are a lot of rows bunching up on the top of my ankle before everything reaches the leg.

I'll be ripping back and redoing again. My consolation is the the slip stitch bottoms. Doesn't that look nice? I've done just what one of the knitting group lady said, and started making a v of slipped stitches in the middle of the arch of the foot, and added a pair on each side after 8 rows. Or 6 rows, till all the bottom of the foot stitches are part of the slip stitch pattern. A most elegant little bit, that will take the punishment the bottom of socks need to take.

One good part, one redo. That is just about right for a Friday in the middle of some days off.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


One of the things we do at knitting each week is a quick round of show and tell to show how your projects are coming along, to discuss problems, to generally sort and order our work, and though I am not sure about anybody else, it helps me to list in my mind, the active projects in my knitting bag.

I continue to ignore the inactive pile of things.

Do you ever wonder if what you really need is a finish along?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Second go Round

Early yesterday morning, I worked another couple of rows on the mystery shawl KAL, but soon enough, the lace knitting wore me out. I felt a decided lack of interest in my socks but I did pick them up and knit for a while. I've almost got the full length of the foot done on red sock one. That little slip stitch trick from one of the ladies at knitting is working marvelously well but much as I like socks, I was done with them for the day, if you know what I mean. I needed something to keep me going the rest of the day.

I took a quick trip to the stash, and came away with a yarn I dyed last summer. It's like a lady slipper. Brilliant copper, rich hot pink, and a little of both in between.I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I found some needles that would work for a generic something. Packed last and on top of the bag. When I sat down at knitting, I pulled it out and as I took the needles, I knew what I was aiming for.

Perhaps in the time it took to drive to town, in the dark and cavernous space that is my brain, yarn and pattern parked beside each other. I don't really understand a lot of things that go on in there, but whatever strange thing it is, it worked.

I like the backside as much as the front. I love the Eye of Partridge Shawls simplicity and the delicate way it deals with colour. And I love that for its size, it is a speedy knit. Slipping every second stitch becomes so rhythmic. Simple music to be sure, but good none the less and just right for the rich and shocking palette of this hand dyed laceweight.

I like reading books a second time. The best books deserve a third and fourth and sometimes even a fifth go round. The best movies can be watched many times before they loose their sheen. Some things, like the Laura Ingalls Wilder books have not lost their sheen in the 40 years that I have been reading them, and we've been through 3 tape and CD sets of the Star Wars saga. It is exactly the the same with knitting I suspect. The BSJ will always be and interesting knit and I suspect that this little pattern is going to be too.

Things worth doing deserve a second look and good things just keep getting better with age.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Just wandering around the net thinking about knitting

I'm scrolling through things on Ravelry this morning, just for the heck of it, and came across this. Egg Sweater which inspired me to check out some of the knit and crocheted toy things on Ravelry.

Where, naturally, I ran into one of my favourite little things, Elefante, one of the sweetest toys on the net, and then this, Felt a Flock which of course is from Fibre Trends. After getting to Fibre Trends, I got a little lost. At Fibre Trends, you can find all manner of neat little things.

But of course, a visit to the Fibre Trends website, leads to other things. Like Eugen Beugler's marvelous Spring Blossoms Shawl. Can you just feel the rhythm in this lace just looking at it?

And then, whenever you go to the fibre Trends website, you end up at the Evelyn Clark part. Where you find more marvelous things like this and this and this . There are all manner of other lovely things there.

Its hard to escape it. The only reason I would willingly leave this bevy of beautiful lace at this point is that I have finally cast on for the Edmonton Mystery shawl. The yarn is just right, (if I wear it with something black or dark it is going to look stunning) I'm using needles just a little larger than called for and the lace weight yarn I am using is a delicate, dainty, airy soft pink Skacel Merino lace.

Quiet now. There is some intense knitting going on here. I have to catch up before clue 4, which should be out this week.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A lot of visiting, but not a lot of knitting.

I'm having a lovely time with my folks. We shop a little, talk a lot, eat a lot. There has not been such fine cooking at Chez Needles since...the last time my mom was here. She inspires me, and is the best cook on the planet. (IMHO. Insert your mom's name and apply to your own situation)

But I did knit a little along the way too. I finished the bind off on the shawl and that will be the end. There isn't enough yarn to do any further i-cord, so what it is, it is. But it is beautiful. I hope to slip in a chance today to block it so I can show you tomorrow. The plan for the day also is going to include winding the yarn for the mystery shawl knit along and maybe if I can, knit at least a few rows. No point in waiting till I am 4 weeks behind.

I also knit a few kitchen things. I used one of the new dishcloths I made and realized the condition the rest of my dishcloths are in. I really really need to replace them. It is almost embarrassing. Oh forget that, it is embarrassing. Really embarrassing. We stopped at Micheal's while shopping, so I took the opportunity to stock up on a few skeins of some seriously bright cotton. Some has already gone into use.

I knit the dishcloth last night while waiting for dinner to cook on the Barbecue, and this morning before everyone was up, I unvented (thank you EZ)my version of a floor mop cover. I really wanted to make it using that long loopy stitch technique that I tried a while ago to make a dusting cloth (I'll be making more of those one day soon too), but could not remember how, and I was just a tad too lazy to walk downstairs to get my stitch dictionary.

Now that I am down here, I'll grab it. Might work on a second mop cover before the day is done.

Kitschy kitchen things are not my favourite things, but dishcloths, cleaning cloths, this duster for my mop. Somehow these make cleaning a lot more fun. And seriously, couldn't we all think of something better to be doing than cleaning?

Like knitting.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Cleaning Up

I worked on my shawl yesterday but only wee moments snatched from what was more important. I started the bind off, but did not care for all the picots. Too fussy and I was not executing them as neatly as I hoped. It came to me that what this long and very drapey shawl needs was weight, so I started to do an icord cast off along the bottom. I love the way it looks and will do the top icord edge if I have yarn enough. Decisions decisions.

I was several inches into the bind off when my mom called. They are taking their new to them Class B Motorhome on its maiden voyage and their destination is here. I am thrilled that they are coming and appallled at the state of my house. We clean regularly, but we never really do a lot of putting away. Piles of books and things (yarn) slowly build beside chairs and along wall space, till even clean, it looks as if a tornado had gone through. I spent the day attending to the living room.

While I was at it, I cleaned off the book case, and you know, I'm glad it has been so long. If I had not waited, I would not have had all these bits collected. I found a pile of loose photos, and just had a really, really good time going through things.

This is probably the oldest picture we have of the house and yard. We have done so very much to take this place and make it our own. A 1990 then and 2009.

I found a series of pictures of the kitchen (I love my new kitchen), most recent to oldest.

This last photo is the only picture I have of the original kitchen, but I keep it close by because its a really great photo of my kids.

There was some misbehaviour happening, but I did not find out who the guilty party was till much much later, and IIRC it was not the guy kneeling down. (Son1 kneeling, Son3 - the guilty party - saying 'ha ha' while Son 2 is just off camera in the living room laughing his head off and now I know why)

And then I came across these.

Just a typical family photo session at Chez Needles, more precious to me than gold.

I have great kids. I should probably tell them that more often.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ready to Rumble

I am ready to begin the last lace repeat, then work back one row, knit 2 rows, and then bind off....

and then I'll know how much yarn I have left and whether I could make an i-cord edging along the top. I was talking to someone who made this same shawl and she felt that the top edging was not really needed. It is entirely possible that without an i-cord along the top edge, this shawl will be done by noon.

Whoa. Ready. Coffee is on. Needles are set. I'm ready to Rumble.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

A rare day

We had some rain yesterday. A good soaker of the old fashioned kind. We have a long way to go to get to even a reasonable amount of rain for the year, but it finally feels like the dry has been broken. Mr. Needles and I were out a bit in the evening, him taking many beautiful photos of the yard, including these puddles, a rare sighting these days.
My photos are more mundane. I've been meaning to take a picture of the tiny spruce trees again, just to show you how they grow. Back in May I posted a picture of some tiny proto spruce trees growing in the mulched beds alongside the house. At the time they were mere budlets, but now they have achieved some height.

Another inch or so, and we can have some real fun with them. It is almost impossible to pull these wee treelets. On the cute scale, they rank high and this is the best, easiest time to move them if I were so inclined. The debate rages on. Do we weed, or move to a better spot to grow and flourish?

I also have a picture of one of natures wonders. Whenever it rains or stays moist for a day or so, in just a few places between the washed rocks along the edges of the driveway and parking pad, this slimacious goo appears.

It actually has a bit of a form. There are leaf shapes that can be seen, but usually, they can't be seen for long. It shows itself only on the rare days when it has rained some. I think it is a kind of liverwort, or other moss/lichen/liverwort like plant species but have never seen anything like it in photos.

I have wondered if it is a species which is trying to take over the world or defeat mankind by nefarious means, but no. It never spreads, has no odour and only appears when there is a certain amount of moisture. It's really quite mannerly. Just don't step on it. If you step on it, it rears its slimacious goo head, and will toss you to the ground like a leaf in autumn. Tread carefully where it lives and you will coexist quite cheerfully.

There has been knitting. I had the day off and managed to make it to my regular Tuesday group. It was lovely to see everybody again. I am down to the wire on the shawl. I am on the second last pattern row of the 4th repeat, and my yarn is leaving the ball at an appalling pace. After all the pattern repeats, there is an i-cord border for the top edges, and a picot cast off along the bottom (I may turn this to i-cord as well) that are going to need quite a bit of yarn. If I end with this 4th repeat, I will be fine for yarn, but no way will I make it if I keep knitting to end at row 50 of a fifth repeat. By this time tomorrow, I fully expect to be zipping along the outer edges.

I'm so close to the end, so close to done, I can hardly stand it. All this pent up energy is setting me up for a good start on the mystery shawl. This is one of the best times in knitting. it just is. Almost done, but dreaming of the next big thing. Dreaming of the next big thing.