Monday, 30 November 2009
I blocked the Wisp and while it is nice, it isn't quite what I wanted for my new daughter in law. I'll need to revisit her shawl. I have choosen a more full bodied yarn, Mericash in the loveliest of light creams. Not quite white but as close as it comes. Not sure about pattern. Soemthing will come to me, and if nothing else, the Wisp looks marvelous in it.
I'm blocking the mother of the bride's shawl, and I'm fairly certain this one will be fine. It ought to be when you have knit the same thing in the same yarn before.
This morning, I've got my hands on grannies shawl. The yarn is from a local producer and is an 80/20 blend of alpaca and silk. You have seen it here just about a year ago in a scarf I did for my father-in-law.
It is so soft and lightly spun that it barely can support its own weight. It ought to be the perfect yarn for a small shawl.
I'm playing with patterns. I began a shawl from 101 Luxury One Skein Wonders, but it is a little too intensive a patttern. I have no time for it. I think I'm going to restart with a Swallowtail. Everyone says it is a wonderful knit, and I know from my Shoalwater Shawl, Evelyn Clark patterns have beautiful charts to work from.
So off on another marathon knitting day. Brings to mind my favourite poem of all time, Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
" The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep"
I may yet complete these mammoth tasks I have set myself before I get on the plane.
Friday, 27 November 2009
There is always the point in any project where it all starts looking the same. This lovely lace looks a lot like it did the first day I posted about it. It is, only bigger. I expect to have all but the edging done this evening, and look forward to finishing and blocking tomorrow.
There is always a little bit of apprehension surrounding the knitting of lace, and the blocking of it. Perhaps not for everyone, but there is for me. Blocking lace is its revelation day. Any boo boos? Any heinous errors creep in? Any zigs when you should have zagged? Decreases leaning the same way? Yarn overs all open? The thousand and one things that a mass of lace can hide, a good blocking reveals the truth of it. Until I block, I'm standing on the tips of my toes hoping, wishing and crossing my fingers that all is well.
That little tension as you work might stop some people from going there, but lace patterns develop a rhythm all their own and can come to feel instinctive. After you really understand a pattern, you can move forward without counting every single row. You just have to let the rhythm of the lace work its magic.
These are the things that keep me working lace. This tension and rhythm dance side by side, weaving incantations, working their magic.
I'll block the sweet little Wisp too to see if I have more to knit on it.
In a weekend filled with work, the symphony, being the craft lady at a children's Christmas party, a staff party, it is enough.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
I love working in the yarn store. There are days when there is just nothing else like it if you love yarn.
We got a Fleece Artist box yesterday. There just isn't anything like opening one of these boxes. The top layer was warm brown and melted colours of earth and every layer under that was riot of jewels. Aladain's cave would have nothing on this single solitary box of one yarn. Entertain yourself by looking at the colours on the Fleece Artist website sometimes. I could play there for hours. I could while away the hours. I could dream of knits for days. Oh, but for more hours in a day...
There it sat. A case of Sea Wool, and I will not be getting any of it. The trip to Kiev quite rightly displaces the yarn un- budget.
But still, the yarn speaks powerfully. Makes me want to cry at it's richness.
And in case I forget later, a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from south of the border. May your day be filled with family and friends.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Yesterday was our 30th anniversay here at the Needles household. It hardly seems like it, but that is what the numbers say. We stayed home and made dinner.
For most of you making dinner on a Tuesday is about as mundane as it gets. For us, Tuesday dinner is soup. I love making homemade soups. Thick, filled with vegetables, and lentils or peas, rich warm hearty things are my favourite. Tuesdays there is always a big pot of soup on the stove to carry us through the rest of the week.
Even when its other than a soup Tuesday, we are pretty plain people. We grill almost everything, and with a veggie, we call it good. Not a lot of fancy eating here, just hearty wholesome simple foods.
Not yesterday. Yesterday, I cooked. Well, to be more correct, I prepared, Mr. Needles cooked. It was lovely.
Stuffed salomon, cauliflower with a white cheese sauce, baby greens and grape tomatoes, butter drenched potatoes and a little very mild garlic bread on the side. We shared a very large bottle of the wine we had our wedding night. We have it on occasion, a small but very important part of our shared traditions and history. Lovely.
Then we had a special desert. How could we not considering the theme?
You see, two days after our wedding, Mr. Needles went hunting for a week. Other people wondered that I was OK with that, but it was OK with me then and OK with me now. Its what happens when you marry a hunter in the middle of hunting season.
After all was said and done, we kind of felt like this little guy.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Gift knitting at its speediest! The Wisp is finished, at least until I block it. It will block to the dimensions given, but I'm not sure if it is as long as I want it. I may yet add another lace repeat or two.
I'm working away on gift number 2, and as expected it is moving along marvelously. For the gift for the mother of the bride, I am knitting another 198 Yds. of Heaven shawl. It is a marvelously intuitive pattern, making it an easy and speedy knit. With the knowledge I gained on my lovely green shawl, this one is moving along as fast as my fingers can fly.
I'm making it in the Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk again. It's just such a great yarn to work with. I will be putting a border on this one. I have a fourth ball of yarn, and there is good stock at the store just in case I need another.
This afternoon I am meeting with the Son of the new bride and wedding of short notice, to organize the craft for a childrens Christmas party he is putting on. He asked me to be the 'craft lady'. I'm kind of looking forward to it. We need to do something that is fun for the kids, but doesn't involve anything with that takes a lot of time. I'm voting for cookie painting. That way all we need is some sugar cookies, some small containers with richly coloured but runny icing, and a few small paint brushes. And I guess I ought to consider stealing old shirts from Son 1 for aprons so nobody gets the cookie paint on their clothes.
I am also going to mine him for more details on the wedding thing. I've been putting off calling my family till I know just a little more.
Monday, 23 November 2009
I thought I would be knitting hard to make something brown this weekend, but I have been released from the brown for a time, nay verily even kicked in the pants by more urgent knitting.
I woke up Friday morning and things were pretty normal. I went to bed Friday night and some things in the world had shifted. There is an air of unreality about it still.
Friday evening, Son 1 told us he was getting married. In Kiev. On December 19th. So little time.
So I rushed my mind through all the things I could do quickly and decided on the airy light and lovely Wisp as a gift from myself to the bride. I'll send it along when Son 1 goes early in December. The gift for her mom, will probably go with me, though it would be nice if I could get both done before he goes.
There are a lot of places I planned to go in this world, but Kiev was not one of them. Now that it is in my travel plans, I am very much looking forward to it. And I am very much looking forward to meeting our new daughter.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
As I said yesterday, my mind wanders while knitting my ocean of brown. It's wonderfully freeing. So far I have been able to track my mind. I haven't lost it yet... but if you see a spare mind meandering down your street, you may want check. It might be mine. I don't know if I'll be able to tell when I really lose it. And really, you don't want my brain out there without supervision. Who knows what trouble it will get into.
What with all the yarn sorting, I have come to the realization that I have some marvelous reds. It just happened that these delicious reds were put to the front and center of the cabinet. There are more, hiding in boxes in closets, whispering in corners.
Misti Alpaca Handpainted Lace - Red Rover
Handmaiden Mini Maiden
Hand dyed Red Sea Cell and Wool from an independent dyer, skein from Saskatoon
Ella Rae Lace Merino
All of these gorgeous reds bring me to this:
The River Valley Shawl from the Edmonton KAL of this summer. What a lovely pattern. Nice yarn. Really, really long rows. I pick away at it here and there. There is movement and growth. I thought I was at two rows left about 6 rows ago, but now I know I am at a couple of chart rows left. Maybe. Plus bind off. I'll finish by Christmas.
Of next year. Sigh.
Such long rows. Purling is killing me.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
The thing about working with oceans of brown, oceans of anything really, is that you are faced with an expanse of same. As far as you can see there is a solid sameness to your horizon and that lack of definition, that almost featureless ocean means your mind is free to wander where it will.
My mind wandered to cleaning my study. I seem to do this a lot lately. My chair is always surrounded by a pile of projects and things I needed that never quite get put away in the heat of the moment. The pile of books and reference material is sometimes staggering. But this time, I became frustrated by the yarn bags falling everywhere. I figured it was time for a deep clean in the big stash boxes. Surely there will be room for these things in the boxes. After a long afternoon and some hard but fun work, there was. But as in all good cleaning, you find things you pushed to the edges of your remembery.
Such it was this lovely ball of yarn.
It is a ball of Schaefer Anne, one of my first forays into really nice sock yarn. (It also is the source of my teal phase. I'm not sure I am done with that phase yet.) It has always been meant for something special.
I've knit up the yarn plain, and loved it, but ripped it apart when it just wasn't quite what I wanted. I worked it into alternating rows on a Eye of Partridge shawl with a forest green sock yarn and it just wasn't feeling right. Ripped again. This yarn speaks to me, I just haven't been able to understand its language. I set it aside and it was buried back in the stash.
I saw the Aestlight shawl on the Small Shawl Lovers Group on Ravelry and was quite taken by it. I knew I had something that would work wonderfully for it. I thought it would surely play up the wonderful colours of one of the marvelous multis I have. Somewhere deep in the stash of good things there was a yarn that just wanted to be this shawl. I couldn't think which yarn though.
After cleaning, sorting and repacking all the bins, with all the yarns fresh in my mind, after discussing small shawls at knitting yesterday, my brain was ready to see.
This lovely yarn and the lovely pattern sailed near each other while my mind was occupied with an ocean of brown. They converged and became one, as things do sometimes in large expanses and oceans. The two yarns for the body, worked two by two rows, the multi, worked alone for the lacey bit, and the plain green for the edging.
I see it. I think I've got it this time.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Remember the brown I was working on last week? Well, it was going along just fine till I had Mr. Needles try it on.
I was then faced with the glaring fact that I don't do math.
Or my gauge is off.
Or my skill at figuring out how much ease this sweater needs when winging it is non existent.
I am winging it, you see. I am putting the full force of what I learned doing the gansey class into the making of this sweater. Take the measurements, do your gauge and knit. And it was working too when I discovered that it was several sizes larger than Mr. Needles.
I checked the math. it was right. I checked the gauge. Bang on. (who'd a thunk it) Ease? OK, then so lets go through that process.
I started with one of Mr. Needles nicest sweaters and took the measurements from it. I added 4 inches to allow for ease of movement...
I took the measurements from a sweater. The sweater already has a nice 4 inches of ease built into it. The 4 I added are precisely the 4 inches that this is too large. sigh.
But never fear. There are several things I learned her. I want a longer than the original garter stitch welt at the bottom. I had already planned to add to it when the rest of the project was done. And I have a really really good idea of how much yarn I am going to use up before I am done. According to the the length of what I already knit, I will use no more than 15 balls, and possibly as low as 13 balls of yarn. I think I have 24 in the stash. Not going to run out of yarn.
And so it goes. I have today and tomorrow to knit back to where I am right now, I have some socks bits to work on for the class (so students can knit a heel flap with me), AND I have another couple of baby things to knit. The lady who cared for Mr. Needles mom before she went into a care facility and my good friend's son have presented me with the opportunity! Ah Baby things. So quick to knit. so little yarn.
Friday, 13 November 2009
One of the most interesting things that happens when I teach a knitting class is that I think I learn more than any of the students do. I have yet to see any of my students knit the same style as I, and understanding the many and various ways that people have learned to hold their needles and throw or wrap or otherwise get the yarn around the needles is fascinating.
Because of the differences in how we knit, they sometimes see something very different than I do, or have to do a different sort of maneuver with their knitting to get the same job done. Such was the case last evening.
I was teaching a toe up sock class, and I wanted them to learn Judy's magic cast on. They were having a lot of trouble holding the needles in the proscribed manner, and one lady finally said, 'Can't I just move they yarn rather than the needles? ' She could see what she had to do, but she just couldn't get there doing what I was showing.
She held her needles upright and moved the yarn around the needles. With the tail yarn coming from the right and ball yarn coming from the left, she began to move the yarn behind both needles to reach the opposite needle, moved the yarn over the needle, and then down between the middle of the two needles. It was the same as if she was holding it as Cat Bordhi does only her tick tocks were made by the yarn. She accomplished a fine Magic Cast on in a few minutes when she had been struggling for almost an hour to get the same thing done the usual way.
Note to self: People often see the way to do it before their hands understand. Let them run with it, and sit back and learn.
In the end, we were all quite delighted with what we learned and with the beginning of the sock. Toe up on its way, and now all that needs to happen is that we are going to need to knit the foot so we can get to the heel flap for next week. Both ladies were concerned that they weren't going to make it. My task is to knit some stubby feet so that they knit a the heel flap and turn the heel in class even if they can't fit the knitting in.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
I did knit other things while on the way to the lovely Heaven shawl and I thought about knitting many more other things.
I can tell you that all this thinking has produced something brown. It doesn't look like much yet, but I sure am contemplating brown. It is a study in brown. What an unusual colour brown is, that plain ordinary brown. If brown was a box of crayons, brown would be the colour you use for puppies, soil and tree trunks. Not that any of these things come in the shade of crayon box brown, but it is what you use brown for.
In a yarn store, brown is one of those colours that you talk about in terms of shades of brown. Red brown, violet brown, soft brown, warm brown, rich brown, charcoal brown. You seldom hear 'its brown' because there isn't a lot of yarn that is just plain brown.
So I am not sure what you would call the brown of Lang Zoom. It's an unusual yarn. It is airy and light, and it almost feels it isn't running through your hands, and then you look, and yup, that mildly felted little strand is running through you fingers and yes, all your knitting is adding to the sweater, and not just slipping into thin air.
But trying to quantify this colour of brown is something else. It isn't a heathered brown at all. It is a haze of brown, just a skiff of brown over the top, a light dusting of brown over a soft core. It is almost ghostly, but ghostly implies gray. This clearly isn't gray. It is brown.
This is a character brown. Not brash or harsh or severe. It is a brown that cuddles up alongside you and sneaks right in to to sit a spell beside you.
If a sweater ought to be warmth and comfort and a hug, this sort of sit for a spell brown is just right for it.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
They are the Kings Firecrackers in performance at the US Naval Academy.
Makes me feel the need to be twleve again. Makes me want to jump. But I am not going to. That would hurt.
In all seriousness, I planned a long Remembrance Day post. And then, this morning, I forgot what the date was. That saddens me to no end.
Remembrance Day ought to be about keeping the memories of those who fight and die, remembering and honouring their sacrifice. I do.
I just wish we could find a way so I didn't have to.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
You know how it is when you are knitting away, and you decide you are having so much fun with it, you are going to do just a little more?
I was having a lot of fun with 198 Yards of Heaven. I had two full skeins of the Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk plus another partial skein. I figured I had at least 250 Yards of Heaven, so I did a little more.
As the name captured my imagination, so did the knitting. It was like sitting in a forest where the moss is so deep that all the sounds of the earth are pulled into it and become part of the soft drifts of green. I'm not entirely sure which captured me more, the yarn or the pattern. I suppose it doesn't really matter. I was captured, caught in the rythmic soft green.
Like all magical mystical moments out of time, time came and I landed firmly back on the earth.
There I was at the end of chart one, on the fourth repeat, with no yarn left for the edging. I really hated the idea of ripping back that last repeat. It was the size I like to wear. What to do, what to do.
I decided to just knit, following the column of yarn overs as established, I turned the two purls into one knit stitch with a yarn over on each side and knit till my yarn was gone. The bind off ended up on a purl row. If I had to do it again, I would keep the purl column, put a yarn over on each side plus a yarn over in in between the purls. I might have gotten pointier points when I blocked with that little extra bit of yarn on tips. I probably would have run out of yarn though. C'est la vie.
It works. I'm in heaven.
Monday, 9 November 2009
I had to go into the box with all the scarf yarns the other day. A knitting friend needed a ball of yarn she knew I had (she is doing the Kernel along with the Edmonton knitters and you should see it: a thing of beauty) for her project, and it gave me time to consider Heaven.
The stash is a thing of beauty these days, big enough to have a little something in it for every project you could think of, small enough that I think I can remember what is in there. Digging proved me wrong.
After Fridays blog, surely it was clear that 198 yards of heaven is speaking to me. Who am I to ignore the call of heaven. While digging, I found the perfect yarn. If a yarn was ever meant for heaven, surely this is it.
I had two full and one partial ball of Misti Alpaca Baby Suri and Silk in this lovely fresh green colour. If ever a Canadian needs a colour in the dark of winter, this bright spring green is it.
I did a scarf a long while ago that used just a touch of what I had. The yarn is a slight bit lighter than what is called for in the pattern, but with the extra meterage, I'll get the size project I am looking for.
I had forgotten how much I loved working with this yarn. I could talk more about this yarn. I probably will tomorrow, but right now, I have itchy fingers.
I must go knit. I'm working on heaven. It's a good way to start a week.
Friday, 6 November 2009
The other day, I was scrolling around Ravelry, when I saw a post about 198 Yards of Heaven.
With a name like that, how could I not follow it?
198 Yards of Heaven is a really nice small shawlette. More of a kerchief than a full shawl, but it is sweet, and cute and well, small. I intend to make one just so I can say its name.
But more than that. It lead to this amazing group on Ravelry, called Small Shawls. The sweet moderator, and its ardent adherents, have colllected the finest of the small shawls on Ravelry, both knitted and crocheted.
So go there and look. Just a word of caution. Make sure your coffee cup is full before you do. You are going to be there a while.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
I went to knitting last night and I spent time with lovely women with marvelous knitting. I also spent time with errors it was impossible to get past.
I ripped back the Cafe Capelet I had been working on. Counting to 2 reared its ugly head and even though I know this pattern so well after all these rows, the count was off. Not by 2 but by 3. I ripped back 4 rows, but I think I'm going to have to do a little more till I get to a point of sound knitting.
Then I picked up the Pretty Thing I am working on in the Kimono Angora from Louisa Harding. There has been 1 small error, which I thought I corrected, but it shows up every second row. The error was back on the first row of the chart and there was no other choice. Rip it all the way back.
I did have some plain and simple socks in my bag, so at least I had something simple, painless to do. But I had to laugh. It is completely apparent that in moving from an 8 inch long set of needles to a 6 inch long set of needles, my gauge has changed. The socks magically get smaller with the shorter needles. I did not rip back the socks. This little gauge issue isn't going to matter inside a shoe. It will block out, right?
Part of me doesn't want to face it, part of me abhors ripping back and redoing all the time, but if there is one thing knitting has taught me is that it is OK to fail. Knitting is one of those fairy godmothers who always find the right way to say 'Try again. Its OK. You can do it."
I always tell clients that this is one of knitting's greatest treasures. You take something that isn't going well, and you pull on it for a while, and you turn it back into a ball of yarn. And what is a ball of yarn but of a pile of possibilities? A ball of yarn is dreams that are not yet knit. The potential of each to become something else is almost without limits within the fibery sphere of things. Mitts? Hat? Part of a sweater? Doily?
I don't mind turning yarn into possibilities when its something I know I'm not going to redo. I don't mind ripping back when I have learned something new by making the error.
Its the ripping back of a perfectly good project because I counted wrong that really is irritating. It is forgetting a yarn over and correcting it wrong. It is losing an entire day of knitting because I was careless that nags at me so. I hate to rip back because of these things. I suppose they are learning moments too. I suppose the lesson I learned about each of these things at least once before, needed just a little more reinforcement.
Today is going to be about moving forward with a little more care, with a little more caution. Today is going to be about taking the time to see the possibilities.
Sure wish I didn't have to.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
I read this yesterday. It's about blogging that reflects a pause and a moment in time. I think this is what knitting is for me. It is a place where I don't have to live at the pace of things around me. It is where I get to live in the moment of one little stitch on the tip of my needle. I'm not sure I can extend that to blogging. It seems I just like to chat mindlessly along anyway.
I'm working with a yarn called Rimu this morning.
It is one of the newer New Zealand yarns from Zealana. It's the simple rust colour in this scarf. The more I work with Rimu, the more I like it.
You know how some yarns, like the Silk Garden Chunky (the multi in the scarf) feel dry and papery from its silk content, and how some yarns like Handmaiden Sea silk feels as if water is running across your hands only it isn't a water that is wet? Each yarn in the very vast array of yarns I get to play with feels so different. Each has a unique connection to our brain as they move between out fingers.
Rimu's unique quality is warm. As it slips over my hands and between my fingers, it is warm. It isn't a heavy warm, like a double layer of quilts on your bed on a cold night. It is the warmth of solidity, of close, of comfort. It's a little like wrapping your favourite sweater around you on a chilly day. It is only a DK weight and would normally work to 22 stitches over 4 inches on 4 mm needles. (I'm doubling it here and it still is a wee bit light for the heft of the Silk Garden Chunky. ) This little adventure into a yarn I haven't tried before makes me think this warm character would carry over to a sweater or shawl or something to snuggle into, in a most wonderfully comforting fashion.
Rimu comes from about as far away as you can get from Canada. That probably takes it out of the line up as far as the Slo Movement goes. But in every other way Rimu is the ideal Slo yarn. It is made from a fibre that is found locally in new Zealand that would otherwise be sent to the dump and combined with something they produce tons of and having it in your hands and on your needles makes you want to take time, to stop and treasure how working with it feels.
Rimu makes me want to live slow, surrounded by warm and comfort and time. My only problem is I have enough yarn. My stash is full. I'll have to knit fast to use up what I have to find it a home.
Knitting fast. I wonder if it is going to be the new Slo?
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
After last weeks very busy knitting but not actually doing any knitting week(classes), this week is catch up week. This house needs to be cleaned.
For instance, there were a few dishes on the counter last time I looked. It was coffee cups and wine glasses. No one cooked here last week at all. These things gave birth and we may actually be on to the second generation of dirty coffee cups and wine glasses because I just filled the the dishwasher and there are still a few seed dishes left.
The bathrooms. Let's not go there. OK. No problemo.
The living room. I don't want to go there either.
The laundry. Ever wish you had a laundromat in your house, so you could just toss it all in at once and get it all done in just two hours instead of a parade of loads that take all day. At least when we washed at the side of the stream or even when we carried our own water from the well, we were smart enough to have only enough clothes to get by with, and towels always were used more than once.
Tuesday is for spinning, I know, and there will be some of that. I am really encouraged by the little scarf I knit. I can't wait to get my hands on more of my own stuff to knit with. It was a bag of fluff when I found it, and now it is a little scarf.
There will be some knitting this afternoon too. And groceries. And apparently, more dishes. I just hope they don't give birth to more before I get home.
Monday, 2 November 2009
I know that I said I meant to put down the mohair sweater, and begin again, but I worked on it anyway. I have only used two balls so far and I have 8. Even if I choose to start over, I still have tons of yarn and I can also undo these pieces. I have tons.
I just had to know what it looked like so far. So I finished up the first front and knit the second front and put them together at the shoulders. I didn't get to the side seams yet, but that will be easy. Just side seams and then I will know. It actually looks pretty good. I haven't tried it on yet, but... you know, I might not have to knit another. If I have to redo, I'll begin in a slightly different way.
Meanwhile, I picked up my little skein of handspun, and decided to knit. It wasn't plied well enough for much but a scarf, so a scarf it is. Taking advantage of its thick warm feeling, I did a simple one by one rib.
Pretty nice. It's not too long but it will be just the right length to wear with pinned together at the ends.