Thursday, 31 December 2009
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
I have not talked about travel knitting yet. Yes there was travel knitting, though not nearly so much as I thought there would be. I am, it seems, an inordinately good sleeper when flying. There were many times, where I'd wake up and the needles were in the stitch waiting for completion. Mr. Needles has kidded me that I knit in my sleep and it seems he speaks the truth.
I had planned to knit on the marvelous little Topsy Turvy Moebius pattern from the Rainey Sisters while traveling. It didn't happen. It wasn't the pattern that made it not travel knitting. The pattern is absolutely perfect for hours of plane knitting. It wasn't the yarn. The yarn, a bright yet beguiling green Mini Maiden is perfection. Not these things. No.
It wasn't travel knitting because I just could not get used to the feel of the bamboo needles with this yarn. It felt as if I was murdering the softly spun Mimi Maiden with every stitch. I started on bamboo, switched to metal and planned to go back to the bamboo for travel, but discovered the 4 stitch error in my thinking. The 4 stitches left at the halfway point that I assumed were a cast on error, were not, in fact an error, but were half of the 8 of the 'cast on multiples of 16 plus 8' of the pattern. 4 stitches at the halfway point equals 8 at the end. Silly me.
I shed a few tears, accepted I was out of time, and left this lovely project behind.
So I pcaked up a pattern and some yarn I had ready as alternate knitting, and tossed it in the bag. This is the marvelous Aestlight Shawl from the Shetland Trader
I'm using a really fantastic deep rich fingering weight yarn from Tanis Fibre Arts, the deep sea colourway, I think, and a ball of a no longer produced colourway of Sea Wool from Fleece Artist. It is so richly blue. It really deserves to be knit on a Caribbean beach while sipping mojitos and nibbling on exotic fruits. Since life did not take me to said Caribbean beach (it wasn't in the plans), knitting this while on a trip to exotic Kyiv was good. This rich hot deep blue inspired dreams of a beach in the Crimea, which but for the long plane trip, is not a bad idea for a beach holiday. I do have this on bamboo needles, but the needles did not bother me with this crisper, more tightly spun yarn.
I tossed in a sock project too but I really did not like the bamboo needles for knitting with Australian Merino. The incredible bounce of the yarn kept getting stuck on the needles. Not good. Needs metal. I might do better with a nice slippery alpaca sock yarn on small bamboo double points.
This adventure planning the travel knitting gave me a valuable lesson. While I prefer metal over all, and while I like wood needles over 4 mm in double points, (metal in those sizes is just too heavy), bamboo needles have their place in my tool kit. I can happily knit with bamboo needles so long as the yarn is a good match.
The other thing I learned about travel knitting is that 'Up' is a wonderful movie to knit too once you accept the fact that you will cry for the first 10 minutes of the film each and every time you watch it. I know. I watched it 3 times on the way back. Cried like a river each time. After those 10 minutes, its all a charming adventure.
Which is what things should be if you are traveling to Kyiv, unexpectedly, for a wedding, in the middle of winter.
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
When you travel to the Ukraine, to Kyiv in particular,
Excuse me, I am talking to my daughter in law. Sorry, but does it ever strike you how amazing these times are? Used to be that communication to people around the globe was slow and difficult. Now it is as easy as sitting at your computer. Speaking the same language helps, but there are translator programs... Or I could learn to speak Russian or Ukrainian.
When you travel in Kyiv, the one thing everyone tells you is don't use the metro. It is noted on every website about travel to Kyiv that I have come across. But we did.
During the snow storm, cabs were extremely hard to come by. OK, they were impossible to come by. And we had a big dinner to go to. We had to meet the Bride's parents. So the determined bride says we will have to take the metro.
It must be said, nobody really likes to take the metro but like anywhere else, there isn't any choice. It isn't the sort of Metro where you can knit.
Buses are small vehicles, about the size of a large van, you know, the old 15 seater kinds. They vary from very very old to spanking new fancy soft seater buses more like a distance transit bus. With the storm it is possible we saw a bus that meant for longer distances.
The buses usually have two doors, front and back on the sidewalk side and people get on the front and the back of the bus. There is a crush for the bus, because it might be a long while till the bus comes again, so as many people as can humanly fit go on that bus. The goal seems to be don't stick out the door. So with all these people getting on, how can they possibly pay?
People pass their funds forward. It is the strangest thing I have seen, and yet, so common sense, as I found much of Kyiv to be. Everybody passes the fee forward, and tell the person he passes it to how many fares he is covering. Change or a punched pass, is then passed from the driver back to the person it belongs to. People smile and talk and you get a feeling of camaraderie and unity. The bus fares are a sign of faith in a honourable people.
But the metro? The metro is a place of pick pockets, and they don't seem to care who they target. I have never seen so many cling tightly to their bags. forget holding on to something. The crowd will hold you upright. You hold your bag very carefully in front of you, and you never ever look at anyone in the eyes. There is no talking. There is no camaraderie. It is just bodies getting where they are going.
The distance between bus and metro is down. Way down. Near the place we stayed was the high hill of the city, the massive height where the Cathedral of Saint Sophia sits. You can see her for miles and she is only slightly over looked by the weight of the Soviet era Motherland figure, which marks what we call World War II.
So the metro goes down. Down under the fortress and cave complex that is part of this hill. Down under the river. You go down by two escalators. One was like going down 2 of ours, maybe 3. It was long, but you didn't think about how long it was till you were off it. And it moved fast. That little fear about stepping onto a moving platform and missing the step was magnified. When you got to the bottom of that one, you went on the second.
It was a short walk. While there was no waiting it was a space full of busy moving people. There were 2 escalators going down, 2 going up and every step held at least one person. There was a very tall guy in front of me, so my first thought on this second escalator was what a tunnel feeling. There was a tiled rounded roof to the place. Interesting but not really breathtaking. Then out of the corner of my eye, a guy on the other down escalator sat down. I thought it seemed odd.
And then it occurred to me that we had already been on this escalator a long time. It got to be a very long time. At home, an escalator ride is mere seconds, 10 maybe 8, but it is short and quick and you don't even register it in your day. This escalator ride took minutes. Long minutes. Here is what I found on Wikipedia in an article on long escalators.
'The Kiev Metro Kreschatik station's lower-level second exit escalator (a type ЛТ-2, circa 1965), lifts riders 216 feet (66 m), or 743 steps, up a 432-foot (132 m)-long incline'
Funny. After the fact, it seemed longer. And we were going down, not up. The ride home took much less time, and was by car. By then (very late) the crowds were off the roads, and the driving was good.
The winter storms being what they were, meant I might not have seen much of Kiev, but I did see and ride on the Metro.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Ahh after that short break, back to routine.
One other very noticable thing about the Ukraine, was the feeling of being surrounded by needlework. They still keep and use needleworked things in their daily lives and traditions.
From the traditional rushnyky, which is made or chosen by the bride and will protect the home and insure the prosperity and fertility of the inhabitants of the household,
and wall hangings in the wedding hall,
to gifts from the bride's mothers and grandmothers, there is an air of being surrounded by tradtion and hand made and quality. I received a beautiful handmade tablecloth from the bride's mother. Really quite stunning.
And from the bride's grandmother, oh my, real linen for a bed. Not cotton with a per square inch count, not cotton and polyester, but real honest to goodness linen. Quality linen. Linen that you just know is going to wear for years and years. Its the kind of thing that we can't even find here for on tables without spending huge amounts of money, and I am not so sure we'd be able to find it at all for bedding here.
Linen. Real. Beautiful. Linen. sigh. I'm really quite overwhelmed by the gifts. Seriously overwhelmed.
They may be a country in financial hard times, but honestly, they still have quality in a way we can only remember in the fog of time. Sometimes progress and access to everything isn't all that it is cracked up to be.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
"And now that you have left it is warm and raining and the snow is almost completely melted away! lol" a commenter says.
Of course it is. I expect that weather in the entire northern hemisphere will now go back to its usual winter stuff, and will only suck in Alberta. Ah well. Back to our story.
In the Ukraine, a groom has to win his bride. There are questions and he must answer correctly.
Here are 3 pairs of shoes. Which are the brides?
You must serenade the bride with her favourite song. Hmmm. What was that song again?
Then there were three ribbons under the bride's door. The bride is holding one of them. The groom must choose the right ribbon. The picture of this did not turn out,
but even so, the groom wins his bride and helps her put on her shoes.
After a few wintery adventures, the whole party arrives at the marriage bureau and things are done.
Mr. and Mrs.
Then on to the feast.
This was only the very beginning. The tables groaned with food before the evening was done. Instead of the North American custom of eat, toast and then dance, they do it much smarter. Eat a little, toast a lot, dance even more, and repeat through the whole evening. There were hijinks
in between and feasting and dancing
and drinking and it was all a lot of fun. I have never ever drank so much in an evening without feeling even the mildest of having had too much, and I was left only with an odd sort of fragile feeling the next day.
It was wonderful. I wish everyone could have been there, and I am so very glad we went. Mr. Needles and I wish them both everything in the world from the bottom of our hearts.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
How can I possibly begin to describe our trip to Kiev? It was a place I never thought I would go but now is a place I will be returning too. In summer, and once I learn some Russian and Ukrainian. The language learning is going to begin after Christmas. the going back? I hope not too far in the future.
By the final morning in Kiev, I learned how to make a pretty good cup of coffee
and how to translate the english remotes to the Ukrainian on the TV.
Finally figuring out how to work the tv was a huge step. Huge.)
Kiev is a city of construction.
I've never seen more cranes in my life. The recent financial crisis hit hard and everything stopped, but things are starting to slowly pick up again.
It is an international centre, and there is a money around. See the fantastic building with the domes in the background? Apartment and condos. We were wondering how much the top floors would cost. Chanel and La Perla and all the stores that I would have to go to Toronto or Montreal to see are all over in the downtown centre. If you felt the need for a Starbucks and Macdonalds, they aren't all that far away.
It is a city of contrasts. Very new, very old, and a lot of in between. Though it isn't recommended that tourists go on the metro, we did. We were advised to ixnay on the english speaking, don't look people in eyes and hold everything close. And yet, once you get off the metro and on to the busses, the behaviour is quite different. Cooperative in an unexpected way, one that if we tried it here...Truthfully that adventure is worth one whole post of its own.
As you go down every street, every little place the sidewalk is wide enough for it, a market of sorts pop up. It isn't really allowed but no one stops it. Some places the vendors set up nice little shops. People with vegetables, clothing, fruit, jewelery sell all your needs on the street side.
It seemed as we traveled over the world, we stirred storms in our wake. Cross the US and they got hit hard. Cross Europe, and the same. By the time we made it to Kiev, our weather mojo made it miserable, but in a very Canadian way. Dry light fluffy snow and about 8 to 10 inches and cold with sharp winds meant that cars and cabs slowed down, but nothing really stopped.
Weather not withstanding, everything went forward wonderfully. The wedding was amazing and will be a post. Feasting will be a whole post. People will be a whole post.
There will be many more pictures.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I'm ready to go.....
Its really early and it is time to go. It doesn't feel surreal anymore, this going to Kyiv, it just feels right. The blog will be quiet so be good while I am gone.
Thank you so much for the greetings, and good cheer. they will be passed on to the Bridal couple.
Next time you see me, my name will be Needles, world traveler. Or something like that. there will be knitting in airports today!
Monday, 14 December 2009
Updated to add photos 10:57 a.m.
Today is all about details. Do I have my...did I... Am I taking...
I did a lot of knitting on the weekend. I think I barely made it, though you know how it is, I would have done it somehow, but here I am ready to go. Some of the shawls are blocking and I will get photos up as soon as they are ready. Here is the number one most important shawl, the Bride's shawl.
Its really lovely, just exactly the right width, the right colour, the right softness. The ruffle balances the top garter edge just so. It is the right length. Not too long to get in the way when you wear it as a shawl. Not too short to wear as a scarf. It lays just right on the shoulder and graces the wearer with elegance. In a world of rights this is it.
Yarn: Punta Yarns Mericash Solid, Merino and Cashmere, 3 skeins (but only 2 ruffle rows and bind off into the third skein)
Mods: My yarn was smaller than the pattern is asking for. I knit repeats of pattern one till I had the depth I was looking for, about 48 stitches in the stockinette section, and used a plain bind off rather than the picot bind off.
The Mother of the Bride's shawl is blocked and is now almost ready to come off for its final finishing. (weaving of ends etc.)
Does this picture make you dizzy?
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk Alpaca 3 full skeins
Mods: Extra repeat of the pattern and no edging.
And finally, the Grandma of the Bride's shawl.
yarn: Amber Autumn alpaca and silk blend, about 400 metres
Mods: I ran out of time to figure out the edging, so I ended with a plain garter edge. I really would have liked to understand where my error was and may knit this again for myself. Lovely pattern, but the knitter was the flaw. Had I known the edge would end up lain, I might have knit the nupps.
It wasn't that hard to find someone smarter than me. Took the card out, read it on the computer in Windows Explorer and zip. Bad photos gone.
Friday, 11 December 2009
Speed Bridal knitting? I guess it is. And no small thing it is. I accept that, but I almost feel as if I cheated.
The 198 yds. of Heaven shawl is as easy as pie. The sad Wisp was truly a problem but it was dead easy. The Swallowtail was supposed to be easy, but I could not get the border and I clearly cheated. ( Don't think I'm sorry at all.) And the Cinnamon Grace is mostly stockinette, but it is really cute and I think will suit my new daughter in law better than the Wisp. They might be lace, but they are smallish, the lot of them.
So I don't know about speed knitting, but it has been...umm... intense. But I only work 3 days a week, so I do have time.
My house is about to fall apart though. There really shouldn't be any excuse. There are things that seem to be creeping out of the fridge that I am afraid to acknowledge. There is enough clutter around this house, that if an archeologist stopped by, he would feel compelled to report a historic find and may even wonder if he is in the cave of a link between bigfoot and humankind.
It is scary enough that I am considering hiring a cleaning service to save me while I am gone. Maybe I could tell Mr. Needles that Santa did it? Mrs. Claus? The Elves?
Can Christmas really be this close? Will the Needles household ever get a tree put up? Will there be holiday knitting? Do we have time for dinner?
Tune in on the weekend for frequent updates. Or maybe not. It depends how the shawl knitting goes. (but it is looking really good)
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Once the idea to knit that lovely moebius entered my head, I had to go in search of the right needles. I wasn't sure if we had a bamboo needle that long at the store, but yippeeee, one 47 inch bamboo needle is now mine. Good to go.
Just need to print the pattern and I am set. Travel sock knitting needs sorting but that is easy. Just dig in the bin for a yarn, and toss the needles in the sock knitting bag and good to go.
Bridal knitting almost at the full length it needs to be before starting to decrease stitches, and then it is only the lacy bit on the edge. That won't take too long. It is a cheery simple to knit ruffle. The bind off is one I have done before, so I anticipate completion in good time. I must reserve Monday for blocking. Good to go.
And packing. And washing clothes before they are packed.
It will be nice when all is said and done, to just sit and knit for me again.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Inspiration is an interesting thing. What is it that catches our brain and becomes that which drives us to pursue some sort of a goal? How will we know it when we see it? What if we pass it by a thousand times before it catches us and becomes something amazing to us. What is magic but those times when we see a thing but once and it inspires us? This morning, I cruised my blog list looking for something, anything, that would spark my brain this morning. I felt really slow, sluggish and a little worn out and tired.
I'm trying to think of what to knit when I travel. It is more an undercurrent to my days rather than a must get this done and yet it concerns me. I worry a little about flying with an unoccupied brain. I have done it before, but those flights gave rise to a sort of tension about flying. I will knit socks on the plane, but even that, in the nicest yarn available is only good for so many hours. I have almost 14 hours of airtime, one way, and a little waiting in the airport time to fill. I keep thinking lace would be a great alternative.
I saw the pattern on the Rainey Sisters blog this morning. It caught my attention before and occupies a place on the list of things I want to do. I even purchased yarn with it in mind.
It took a few moments for a connection to be made this morning, but the yarn shouted down the hall from my study to Mr. Needles study, and made enough noise so I remembered it. An urge to knit this pattern rose strong and fierce. Really fierce.
The yarn is wound gently and is ready to go. The pattern seems easy enough to remember and once understood, certainly ought to be simple enough for knitting on a plane yet be enough to keep my feeble mind occupied. My only question is would I be able to get a 47 inch long bamboo needle on a plane even if it was loaded with any many little lacy stitches which held it in one round moebius shape? Would I be a fool to try?
I'm thinking, fool that I am, I'm going to try. If it can just get me over the Atlantic, I'll be set. Now all I need is a lace project in case the airport security people don't like my needles. Calling all lace patterns using short needles...
I might have been sluggish when I sat down at this keyboard but the combination of a fine pattern and a nice yarn have inspired me and charged my day with goodness. Thank you Rainey Sisters, for the boost.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
I was going through photos the other day and you know what? I had really cute kids. Sometimes it is hard to remember how cute after all the teenage trauma that goes on, but they were really really cute.
And you know what? They are still kind of cute.
Or maybe goofy is a better word.
This blogger desperately needs a few more hours for knitting.
Monday, 7 December 2009
I have finished the Swallowtail but to do so I had to make an tough decision.
There will be no dainty tails on the swallowtail. All I have is today to knit and with the wisp being a disappointment, I must move forward and knit on the bride's small shawl. The Swallowtail was finished with a couple of garter rows after the Lily of the Valley Charts. It is still a very nice shawl, but not the fantastic thing the designer planned. Nice it is and for a good warm thing to toss around Grannie's neck. The yarn choice was perfect for it, and I am glad to be past it.
With the Mom's shawl done, and the grannies now finished, there is just one more success needed to call this marathon of shawls complete.
For the bride's shawl round 2, I am going with a really pretty little thing called Cinnamon Grace. I'm working it up in the lightest of the Punta Yarns, a heavier than fingering but I'm not sure about sport weight Mericash solid in a creamy white. Its a close as it comes when you switch yarns. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
Moving along, nothing to see here.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Down the drive.
By request. It is minus 18C out there. And still windy , though nothing like yesterday, which was nothing like Friday. Friday was the worst.
Action shot of fancy schmancy new shovel.
He's got a long way to go.
Drifts off the roof.
By request. It is minus 18C out there. And still windy , though nothing like yesterday, which was nothing like Friday. Friday was the worst.
Friday, 4 December 2009
I got a new book today, and I am absolutely thrilled with it. Norwegian Handknits - Heirloom Designs from the Vestersheim Museum.
The book is one of those marvelous collections, part history, part history of knitting, part knitting but all of it completely wonderful. There are tons of designs that come from Norwegian knitting, but the museum has also inspired the writers to look at other textile arts and make a knitted take on them. There are a number of projects inspired by embroidered techniques, including a stunning series of projects inspired by a headscarf. The link shows you one of the projects. The couple is wearing the Voss Family sweater project from the book.
Beyond all the marvelous socks, bags, gloves, and other assorted knitting projects, this books magic lies deep in the heart of some sheep. Little entrelac sheep.
They stole my heart. The authors explain that entrelac isn't a typical Norwegian technique, that it is thought to be Finnish, but that the Vestersheim has a particularly fine example from the north of Norway, and is included in their display of knitting. No matter says my heart. The technique could be Greek or Innu. My heart still desires those wee entrelac sheep.
If you like stranded colourwork mixed with rich history, do consider getting hold of a copy. Ask your library to bring it in if buying books isn't your thing. It is a lovely book, well worth taking the time to look for. I am thrilled to have it on my shelves.
In my personal rating system, it is a treble, a five star project.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
Have you ever played word games where you find an appropriate word for a group, flock or herd of something? Murder of Crows. That sort of thing? If you do, please accept my choice of an agony of lace. Or maybe an ecstasy of lace. It certainly isn't going to be a humdrum of lace.
I made it through the lily of the valley section. I ended having to rip back the entire charts of 3c and d. On the upside I am now on the 4th chart and that is going to be easier. Right? Right? Right?
I got through the lace by letting the logical me shine clear. I know one repeat is precisely one stitch out, but I'll bet you won't find it, and I ain't gonna reknit. I think I'll cry if you make me. Seriously, it is only 1 out because I did a wrong decrease, but that was fixed on the next row, so it hardly exists at all.
In much cheerier news, I received an order yesterday for something available only on the Internet. It is a tencel and wool product and it really is quite splendid. The colours have the most hypnotic depth and sheen. And yes, you do have to see it. You do need to touch it.
May I present my first foray into Valley Yarns Colrain Lace.
There will be more.
An obsession of Lace?
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Don't get me wrong. The lace is fine. The yarn is fine. It is the knitter I must take issue with.
The problem with the rhythm of lace is that it gets inside you and pretty soon you feel you know the lace, and you are moving along knitting quite happily. Then you knit the next row, and realize that hey, those holes are not where they are supposed to be. There ought to be no places where the decreases sections sit side by side. There ought to be lovely decreases followed by sweet increases and even though you know this in your heart of hearts, the chart says so, and if you were following the word directions you would read this too, but you? You are not doing this.
How can this be, your creative self says. Your spirit is moving, you are going with the flow, the knitting is happening inside your soul. It is so good it clearly cannot be wrong.
The logical side of you pipes up once in a while and says, yes but these holes are not in the right place. The creative self doesn't even register the objection. The creative self is a mite stubborn, mulish even.
I'm midway through the lily of the valley section, on to charts 3 c and d, and only have two rows to go. I will be reknitting a couple of rows yet again, before I move on to chart 4.
Such is the way of lace. If this were a normal project, this is where it would get tossed into a corner. But marathon knitting is just like marathon running. You might hit the wall where your body just doesn't want to go anymore, but if you stick with it, and move deliberately through it, you will get to the finish line.
Same thing with knitting. Stick with it, and you will get there.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
I'm on to the 13 th repeat of bud lace, so this shawl is moving along with great speed.
As happened last year, when I knit with this yarn, I am overwhelmed by its delicacy. It is so incredibly soft. Like down without the feathers. Like a cloud without the cool wet. It a sigh, a whisper, a shimmer of light off rippling water, ethereal.
The yarn is a local product, from an Alberta alpaca rancher, Amber Autumn Alpacas. There are still some skeins of last years milling in the south side store, worsted weights and a few skeins of finer weights, and there is an alpaca merino blend from this year that should not be missed. Really great yarn.
I'm finding I am contemplating nupps as I knit this morning. The next section of lace is 3 repeats (IIRC) of the lily of the valley pattern. While the nupps look delicate in laceweight yarns, I don't think they will add to the look here. I worry that the balance, the rhythm and flow of the patterning will be upset by the sheer volume of nupps.
I don't know that I'll add beads either. Beads would be nice but this is for the bride's grannie, and grannies deserve warmth and comfort in the things they wear about their shoulders. Beads would attract cold.
But most of all, I fear running out of yarn. I don't think there is anymore of this marvelous concoction available anywhere, so if I run out, I must come up with a different plan. Surely, skipping the nupps is going to save me many feet of yarn, miles even.
So on the marathon of knitting goes. I don't think I'm going to get to knitting circle today. I really want to make progress on this shawl today. If I don't now, I might end up taking short cuts that this yarn and this delightful pattern don't deserve. If all goes well, all the shawls will be finished by next week, and I'll be able to show them all off.
The operative phrase is if all goes well.