Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ah, morning

Having said that I sleep in lately, I woke just a little earlier today but I lay in bed for a long time just listening to the birds. The sweetest songs in all the world are sung by early morning birds.

The big long projects, particularly the ones which are really interesting to work on are not providing much blog fodder. The hit and miss, blow by blow of this blog might go on a little while longer.

There has been knitting here. Last night I pulled out a bag that went camping with us a few weeks ago. There was untouched sock yarn in really appealing colours in it, a wee proto scarf project (the scarf is hardly one lace repeat long, so I don't think it qualifies as a full scarf yet), and a couple of dishcloths. Ends needed weaving on two of the dishcloths and one needed to be finished. My evening knitting was finishing them.

I'm not much one for cutesey kitchen things. I don't do towel toppers, I don't knit wee things to hide my appliances, but even I know the value of a good dishcloth. Knitted or crocheted, there is nothing so good as a good cotton dishcloth. I haven't made any fancy ones, nor am I likely too. It just isn't me, but I do use them as samplers when I am trying to figure out a lace pattern and you can make really nice dishcloths when you feel like playing around with an idea. Otherwise it is the good old plain dishcloth that tickles my fancy. That doesn't mean they are plain though.

I let the colour do the talking.

And just in case anyone doubts that there are things in my life other than knitting, I submit this.
OK, I didn't do this, but Mr. Needles did. Isn't it stunning? The wall is made of repurposed concrete. It used to be under the front decking, and it came out when we fixed the upper deck a couple years ago. He broke it up with the Bobcats concrete breaker, and built one wall with it last year and finished this year. There still is lawn to put in, and a lot of other details, moving of plants to properly fill the improved flower bed, weeding of weeds. A yard is a never ending cycle of chores, after all, but I could look at the view from my kitchen window all day.

Well, I'd actually look at it from the dining room (its where I have been knitting lately) but it sure looks nice.

Monday, 29 June 2009

I've been sleeping in lately

Well for me that is. There hasn't been a 4 o'clock waking in at least 2 weeks. Its strange and nice at the same time.

My knitting is bearing the brunt of it and I am starting to miss my early morning knitting. Its such a civilized way to start a day. There is something about starting the day, slowly pulling a piece of yarn thorugh a loop, and doing that one small thing over and over again that is comforting and self confirming.

Without the early morning knitting time, I have a bit of extra time to play. One of the places I have been playing on the internet lately is the magasine Creative Knitting. This is a standard newstand publication. It shows up every second month, and hides among the foody and crafty magasines. Its is one of those magasines that is not going to make waves, and start trends, but at the same time, every time I buy it, it does have things in it that I really really like. This isn't a high style magasine, but it the sort of thing that everyone would wear. In the July 09 issue, all the womens patterns go to 2 x, and some much much larger. I don't know any other magasine that does that.

So why talk about this small publication now? Because they have an online subscription service. If you are a mail subcriber you can get the online magasine for 10 bucks, and if you just want the publication online, you can get it for 14 dollars. BUT...

With your subscription, you get access to 2 years of back issues. This is the part that I find very valuable. Not only new ones, but it keeps the old ones about as long as I would keep them on my shelf. I think that is pretty cool.

All the old issues are in a pdf format, and it takes a while to download them, but so far, it has been well worth it.

As ever, when I am not playing on the net, I knit. I am working on my shawl and have moved into the third ball. It doesn't seem like it is taking long to do a row, but at the end of a full day of knitting, there doesn't seem to be any growth of the shwal. This is the soul sucking middle, and yet, when I am working on it, the Shoalwater Shawl pattern still entrances me. I worked a little on my charity knitting last evening while watching a movie. There needs to be more time for this knitting, so I can work through the bag of yarn before summer dissappears.

Off to another busy week. It is Canada Day on Wednesday so there won't be a post from me then, but there will be a delightful yarn sale at the store. 25% again on all the yarns on the floor. Which is everything the store carries. There should be info on the River City website for anyone who is out of town and interested.

Friday, 26 June 2009

An excellent days work.

I spent the day yesterday waiting for various repair men and parts to arrive by courier, etc, and as ever, waiting is prime knitting time.

I worked through the problem on my shawl (an extra stitch), and then knit quite contentedly on that for a while. I can't see it as well in the photos, but in real life, I'm starting to see the colour gradations between the skeins. There is just the faintest hint of an edge of darker colour where the second skein was added in. It really is more that the colours are just denser on the second and third skein. I expect to see another edge soon because....duh da da daaaaaaa

I am almost finished with ball one, and will be adding in ball 3 to work along with ball 2 . If ball one is gone, it means I am half done with ball 2. Most of all, if half the yarn is gone, then I am half done the shawl. I'm about a third of the way into the 3rd repeat of the lace pattern.

As if this wasn't enough, the sweet little BSJ is finished too. I saw that marvelous tutorial that the Yarn Harlot had on her last post about picking up along garter stitch edges and, took out the wee bit of i-cord I had picked up along the neckline, and redid it following her much better looking process. This was one of those places where a good knitting teacher, and her skill from 35 years of knitting really refines and makes my work better. The only thing I am a little unhappy with is my choice of button holes, but this too shall come. Just not today.

Things are moving along so swiftly. Here it is the end of June, and the fullness of summer is on us. The kids are out of school and everyone is going into holiday mode. Time to think of summer knitting. Mine is a shawl I am hoping to do with some friends, but if I don't get started soon, they will be done and I'll be bringing up the rear. Note to self. Wind yarn, begin to knit airy pink stuff.

Thursday, 25 June 2009


I've been thinking hard on spinning lately. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why my knitting has been happening in fits and starts. My mind isn't in it.

I've been looking for a while for a new wheel, a good sturdy solid wheel. I've had several adventures related to looking at wheels, but I haven't had much opportunity to sit down and try them out. I'm feeling a little time pressure because some of the wheels I'm looking at have a huge discount on fibre to the end of July, and wouldn't that be nice if I go with those wheels.

I have looked hard at all sorts of wheels, read tons and tons of reviews and you know what I have found? Some people dislike certain wheels, and some people love those same wheels, but no one ever says anything is a really bad wheel. I have a sneaky suspicion that most of the wheels on the market today are pretty darn good.

So I've narrowed my choices down to the Louet wheels, again in large part for the fibre coupon. Its 200 dollars if I buy before the end of July, and that is just too good a deal to pass up.

I've decided to try a flyer lead wheel this time (my Babe is bobbin lead), so that narrows the choice further. Louet wheels are well known for being good solid bobbin lead wheels but two of their newest wheels are flyer leads. Louet's delightful little Victoria is a wonderful wheel and the other option is the Julia, a less portable model. Each has a lot of the features I am looking for.

It is possible that my wheel decision will come down to what is avaiable, but it will be one of these two. And today is the day.

Gotta go. I have a wheel to order!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I love i-cord

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it before, but I love i-cord. If there were a club out there called Idiots For I-cord, I would be be a charter member.

Some knitters find it a little boring. Some class it with busy work (all those little things that need to get done, but take a lot of time to make things right in the end). Some of us call it sublime. I like the rhythm I get when I am making an i-cord. One, two, three, two together, slip 4, one, two, three, two together, slip 4. When an i-cord is done with just the right tension, it makes just the neatest wee little round tube. Every stitch just sits precisely so, tidy, with the beginnings and ends of rows lost into perfect symmetry.

It is a lovely, though slightly complicated cast on. There are all sorts of reasons to use it for starting a project. It's such an even neat, well laid out little edge, the perfect start for delicate lacy designs. Plus it is just the most delicious cast off ever designed.

That is where I am right now. Casting off. See how well it finishes things? It is all precisely just so.

Little perfections ** fascinate me.

**The idea of an i-cord bind off, not necessarily the execution thereof.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Folk Shawls

The second BSJ is moving right along. I expect to finish tonight. When it is done, I am going to delve into my Shoalwater shawl again and work through the pattern line I am on, yet again, and I will figure out why I have one more stitch than I ought too. Even if I have to rip back a few rows.

Having made it to the end of the second repeat with no significant ripping is the real victory and except for the error making me put it aside for a day or two, I am thrilled beyond measure.

But neither of these two projects have given me any good photo footage (if photos had footage as film does) so I'll tell you about a wee book I picked up.

I've been looking at Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle for a long time now. It has always been on the really nice book list as far as I was concerned and now, with a little found money(funds I did not feel was owed to me), and a need to put those funds right back where they belonged, I picked it up yesterday for a mere 26 cents of from my pocket unfound money. In my heart, this book cost me 26 cents and it worth much, much, much more than that.

The book was published in 2000, so as far as book life goes, it has been around forever. As usual, when you see a book with that publication date still being sold and still being admired, knit from, and talked about you know you have a winner. These are not complex patterns, but are patterns reflecting lace shawls as they were knit and worn day to day. They are the shawls of working people,and the designs, the shapes and the simplicity are very attractive in our busy world.

Shawls have gone lacy and light in the intervening years. We we talk about shawls today, we are usually looking at what people wore when they dressed up or what they sold to wealthy women. This book is the shawls and shapes of the people who knit the fancies for sale and knit these for warmth and comfort.

The Wool Peddlers shawl is eye catching, Little Dimun is quite fetching, the Aran pocket shawl appeals with its little pockets to tuck things into. Simple shapes, knitting for warmth and elegance, knitting for comfort. These all strike just the right note.

Its a book I am thrilled to have in my collection and you will see me knitting from it sooner rather than later. Its a a solid Double crochet sort of book and is going to fit in just fine on my very full book shelves.

Monday, 22 June 2009

There is a lot of knitting between Friday and Monday

You know how Friday I said I was going to sew? And work on things I already had ongoing? I lied. Except for the part about lever knitting. I have not been able to progress at all on that.

I think that is why, after the doors were delivered on Friday, I just could not sit down to work on what I already have on the needles. I just needed something simpler, easier, just something I didn't have to think about. Usually that would be socks, but I did not feel like socks.

So I delved into the stash and came up with a nice yarn to knit another BSJ with. Now that I understand the basics of knitting one, its easy to know exactly what to look for on those pesky corner turns. Its easy to see where my decreases and increases may have taken a flight of fancy and gone off that center stitch and with the knowing what to look for, I have only had to pull back twice so far. Once on the decrease portion and just this morning on the increase portion. This is relief knitting pure and simple. And it is pretty too. The multi colour yarn is a discontinued yarn called Rozetti Always Surprise. It is a 75 % acrylic 25 % wool blend, but it is really really nice. You can't help but feel the difference between it and the green edging yarn, a Mission Falls 1824 Wool, but it isn't at all like knitting plastic. It is just a good solid yarn for a kid. Its a reasonable match for the Mission Falls in its wearability. Bottom line, I fell for the pretty of this yarn. Peach, gold, pale gray blue, soft green. Seriously who wouldn't. I may just have to knit a blanket too just to see how this interesting little yarn looks in stockinette.

Some days a person just want to run and hide, even from your knitting. If it is just knitting we were talking about, it would be possible. Not so with real life. It's easy to get caught up in the day to day stresses that come and go in our lives. Sometimes big things come up and we'd really just like to scream, but we can't. It can feel lonely and dark and cold and sometimes it feels like there will never be a way out.

These days, when I know that someone is in need, I tell them I could teach them to knit. I know that most of the people I say this to are not going to take me up on it, but it does make them smile. Smiling helps, laughter helps, and when I talk knitting with non knitting friends, it usually get silly very fast. I have no problem with my knitting being the butt of jokes if it makes them feel better, even if it is just for a moment.

But I wish they would knit. Knit knit, purl purl, rip back, knit more. It's comforting and forgiving and everybody needs a little of that in their day.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Sitting here

I'm having a quiet coffee this morning, sitting in my jammies waiting for some guys to deliver doors we ordered in April to arrive.

... I'm in my jammies. Oh dear...

There that is better. It wouldn't be a good thing to still be in my jammies when the delivery people arrive with my doors. It isn't that my jammies are indecent, but rather the state of my jammies is, well... Around here, jammies tend to be comfortable. An old cotton sundress that is just too comfortable to toss out, a couple t shirts that saw better days years and years ago, some comfy old gym pants.

I don't know about anyone else, but my wardrobe has these days when all of a sudden there isn't room for things in my drawers and closet and its time to go through the stuff that that is only good enough for the next time I have to paint. Right now, without even thinking about it, I know have at least 6 pairs of comfy stretchy pants and double that of t shirts that I am embarrassed to wear even when I am alone. But they might just be good enough to wear when I paint right? Does one woman really need this many sets of painting clothes? Time to toss and sort and make space. New things might fit!

Before I work anymore on the lever knitting, I am going to have to find my wrist brace. I am so close to really getting this way of knitting, but I'm going to need a little assist to learn to hold my hand properly so I don't give myself carpal tunnel type pain. I need to learn to hold my hand at a better angle, and to stop the lobster claw thing.

So onward to sewing. I need another good skirt for work. Just a little wrap thing I think, to go with a tan and black plaid blouse I have had in the works for a while. Maybe some knitting on my Shoal water shawl this afternoon. Then again, might start the KAL shawl...A whole day with nothing urgent...just waiting for doors.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Knitting with kindness and compassion

Yesterday evening at while knitting with several other ladies, I was struck by a small comment made by one of the knitters. I'm not even really sure exactly what it was that was said anymore, and I don't really remember exactly what we had been talking about. The details aren't really important.

What is important, what stayed with me, what quite took my breath away is perhaps best described by this quote:

"What is the difference between kindness and compassion?
Kindness gives to another.
Compassion knows no "other"."

Kindness is like giving a man a fish and feeding him. Kindness is easy, though we don't see it often enough. We take a moment of our time, of energy of money and share it with those who need these things.
These are important things to be sure, and our world could use much much more, but for most of us, kindness is relatively easy.

Compassion, real compassion, is so much more. Compassion is taking the time to understand a man enough to know he needs to learn how to fish, and then sees that he learns how to.

I knit among people like that.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

How is the lever knitting going?

Its been a little more than a week now since I took the lever knitting program at Stitches Saskatchewan. I've been working on this style of knitting very ardently.

Well, ardently when other things didn't get in the way. Like a sore arm from driving the van. Driving it along bumpy highways - do we have any other kind - kept me tense and though one arm is feeling OK again, the knitting arm is less than happy. I knit a day and take a day off. So I'm working on lever knitting ardently - ish.

But I do have progress.

It's not very big is it? sigh.

Maybe it will look bigger if I do this.

Or this.

No? Well dangit all.

The knitting is moving along, and I am starting to get a feel for it and a bit of a rhythm. I still look like the big claw of a lobster, and there is no way that what I am doing is showing anything of the simplicity and economy of motion that Stephanie has. People sitting beside me are in mortal danger of getting their eye taken out by an errant needle end (the one with the stitches) but there is some small knitting happening. That is enough for now.

There are a few little things I have discovered about lever knitting even with these few hours under my belt. For instance, if your needles end looks like this

you really, really want to be wearing something with sleeves before you think about tucking that puppy under your arm.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Here in Edmonton knitters gathered together for WWKIPD on the 13th of June. I came back a day early from the lake just to be there and I am so very very glad I did.

River City Yarns has held a fund raiser for the Alzheimer's Society for several years, and this year, did it in conjunction with WWKIPD. River City asked that people register with us for 10 dollars, and then join along with us and spend WWKIPD riding the rails of the Edmonton light rail transit system. The registration fee goes directly to the Alzheimer's society and we are still accepting donations for that. Thank you. Thank you to all the knitters and non knitter's who registered and helped us support a cause near and dear to so many of us.

The store is accepting knitting donations all summer long and with every donation of a knitted good you get a little package with a little surprise knitterly coupon in it along with some other good things. We have an ongoing silent auction (or direct purchase of the item) of donations from our suppliers that will go on all summer that will also continue to raise funds for the same good cause. So come in and check out what is up this week, or today. There are some seriously great things coming up.

My job on Saturday's event was to ride the train, and help any one who needed it or had questions, make sure that all the knitters were having a good time, and ask silly questions and give away little knitterly prizes. Oh, and did I mention that I rode the train all day?

There is just no way to describe the looks on muggles faces when they got on the train and realized that over half the car full of people was sitting there and knitting. Cool fellas and hot chickies (I can say that no longer being young and never having been hot or cool) would get on the train, looking nonchalant, and you could see when they realized what was going on around them. Slowly, ever so slowly our sheer numbers would dawn on them, and they would sort of back off and this slightly glazed look would cross their eyes.

The really oblivious would sit down on whatever seat was available among us, and after a few moments would look around and try really really hard to not notice something was just a little different about those around them. One guy, went to the back of the car, and asked us to hold the knitting in the center of the aisle so he could take a picture. We did, and he just kept saying 'this is too surreal', and 'Nobody is going to believe it'.

Lots of people asked questions, lots of people were interested, and we may have, in the nicest and most un-subversive of ways, turned a few new people over to being knitters.

I had an absolutely wonderful time, and talked to so may great knitters, some whom I have known for a while and some who were new friends. There were so many different things on people's needles. Some of us had charity knitting, some had lace, some had afghans, some had sweaters, some had hats. There were big things small things. There were expensive yarns and very price conscious yarns. There was wool and there was acrylic. There were metal needles, plastic needles and wood needles. There were quite simply, all sorts of knitters and we were as one.

Through the day, as knitters would join us to ride, I would ask what the silliest thing they knit was and some of the answers were funny, some were sweet and some were poignant, like the woman who knit a womb for a friend who really needed a new womb. And the knitter who knitted a bra for a friend so it wouldn't rub on fresh scars. In places and situations where words cannot convey a shared sorrow, the knitting did.

Last Saturday, knitting took a large group of people few of whom had ever met before, and gave us instant family ties. Knitting tied us across ages, across abilities, across income, across sophistication, across education. This smallest, most benign of things has a power, and a unique community that simply cannot be denied.

I am honoured to be counted among you.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Come Monday morning

It's a wee bit strange to be actively posting again after a week of posting but not being there. I was glad to get it written down before I forgot the best parts, and was thrilled to have a chance to use the schedule posts feature.

Camping was lovely. It still is early spring there. There are still some snow banks in shady places along the lake and the fish are just starting to wake up. The buds are just popping out, but at the very same time, there are tiny flowers making the most of the very short season. Mr.Needles did some climbing again, and got this spectacular shot against a clear blue mountain country sky.

Mr Needles, being the ardent photographer he is, gets right into his work. Over and over again. I am not going to tell you how many days, and times of day he got down to try to take a photo of this wee small lady slipper. Its colours almost defied photography.

There was some small excitement around the camp. The elk mommas and babies were again across the river, and were being bothered by a big hungry black bear. In the way of nature, the bear did not leave empty handed and some of the mommas will have to wait till next year to raise a strong young calf. The rangers cleared the valley of bear, it being a place of stupid human occupation (humans are often truly stupid when it comes to wildlife), and Mr. Bear is off up in another valley and will be finding berries and tender shoots to eat in very short order.

The lake and sky and air that we love so well, were wonderful, marvelous and a balm to weary souls.

Over in the campsite below, there was much knitting. After taking the lever knitting class with the Yarn Harlot, I did as she said and have been working on a ribbed project to get the style of knitting firmly into my mind. I choose to make a good little ribbed hat, a la Knitting Rules. I plan to knit it straight and then pull it all together on top, and tie it up for a simple, old fashioned hat. I have yarn to make some wristwarmers too, and there might be enough for a short ribbed neck warmer too. I'm using left overs from the hats I made at Christmas, and I am doing the same for this set. I'm double stranding and knitting tight. The knitting tight, I can't quite seem to help, with the new knitting style and all, but I am sure that will work itself out in time.

Just before we left, I had started on a Shoal Water Shawl. I have loved this shawl for a long time, and after a friend, SweaterRae (on ravelry) wore hers to the store one day, I just could not hold off. The knitting on it continues at home, and I am just at the end of the second repeat. This is right where the rows are starting to get really really long. Some people may find it a little dull with its long rows of garter stitch and waves, but I cannot help but be absorbed by the rythmic simplicity. To me, this is knitting at its finest. A little focus, and a lot of healthy zen like meditation.

It was really a silly time to start this shawl. Its big and it is going to take some time. I have committed myself to a lacy shawl knit along with some friends this summer, and I am now one full week behind everybody else. It just didn't seem like the red merino lace I have choosen, was camping knitting, and to be truthful, I am not entirely sure that I want to do it in the red as I planned. I have the strongest feeling this secret lace isn't going to be a red-like lace. From the glimpses I have seen of the pattern, it should be, but I don't know. Now that it is time to knit, I'm can't commit. Is there such a thing as a lace colour that a pattern shouldn't be knit in?

To top it off, there is this icy cool pink merino lace at the store that is crying out to be knit, and there are little wee pearl beads that are just begging to go along with it. It would be like knitting candy tufts, only lighter, sweeter and with no calories.

Further to the knitalong shawl staying busy in my thoughts, is my moms Christmas present. I have some very delicate soft blue cashmere for a shawl for her. I origiginally planned for a wisp, but I think she'd like something a little larger, a little longer. If I do that, I'll need just a little more yarn and then with that little more yarn, should I be making a Wisp or something ethereal from Victorian Lace? These lovely things from a past issue of Twist Collective? The only thing I know is that the yarn cries for something ethereal.

And maybe pearls...