Monday, 31 May 2010


Yup, weather was a factor to everything this weekend.  

Not to bad, really.  If this was October, I'd be calling it pretty. About 4 inches of accumulated snow.  

If you look down the drive, you'll see a few small tress bowed by the snow hanging on their leaves to the ground.  

But this is what happens when a tree is fully leaved and loaded with snow and cannot bend.  It breaks.

The poor garage was swamped by small trees hanging low, resting on its roof.  

In 1997 we had a foot of snow in late May, and we are still cleaning up the back from that late snow. This was really quite minor.

Such was our weekend.

All photos courtesy of Mr. Needles, from whom I have stolen shamelessly.

Friday, 28 May 2010

We have had a very strange spring.  It was extremely warm in April, and now that it is May, it is cold.  Ahh, weather in Alberta.  Calgary had a good dose of snowstorm last evening.

Here, nearer Edmonton, it is just a little colder and much much drier than normal.  I'm trying to feel spring-like, but the truth is, I still want to hide inside and put my heater on to warm my toes. So do my tomatoes and begonias.

I want to knit spring things (and I am) but I really feel like knitting heavy warm winter things. I have a heavy winter vest on the go somewhere deep in the WIP archive. I was going to knit some intarsia in the round with it, but I saw a really nice little sideways knit garter stitch cardigan.  I might switch out the pattern for the new one.  Might not.

That nice little pattern would also be a great pattern for some rich deep forest green Mission Falls Wool in the stash. And there is a rich musty lichen green Cascade 220 that might work wonderfully too.

I'm looking for a pattern for some Harrisville Wool and Flax.  I have 9 skeins of a lovely rust.  It is a chunky yarn and though they don't recommend knitting in large gauges for large women, I figure its my party and I can if I want too.  It won't be anything with cables, or a lot of texture.  Something very very simple, I think.  Stockinette perhaps.  Just a nice heavy jacket type cardy might be just the thing.

If thinking of these heavy warm things isn't a sign that my surroundings are chilly, I don't know what is.  My thoughts are on winter and I sure wish it would stop.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

How to follow a pattern

I know that following a strictly laid out pattern is not something that comes easily for me.  Too much of the rebel rests in my soul.  Knitting usually allows for a good bit of rebellion, nay even encourages it. Even so, I am pushing the envelope.

I fully intend to knit patterns.  I want to adhere strictly to a row by row count.  I try to pay attention to what the written word  of a pattern says. I struggle with it.  Patterns seem to have this odd expectation that a knitter read the pattern through first to catch some of the important fundamentals of it.  

This morning I was reading the lacey little top pattern and noticed something that leads me to question my ability to read.  Why not?  After all, knitting has already taught me that I cannot count.    

The first part of the pattern says 'Lower Back'.  This is fine, except I knitted two fronts.  

Even I usually catch stuff like this.  And I am glad, really, really glad, that this is a simple pattern.  


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Lacey Little top

I haave no idea why this little lacey project has become so interesting, but I'll tell you  It is a hypnotic and consuming little thing.

I did have to change the wide lace panel a bit.  I'm using Mission Falls 1824 Cotton.  The original lace panel used M1 increases and the Mission Falls Cotton with its textural twist, seemed to overwhelm the flowing lace stitches. It felt like a lot of work for not a lot of show. 

All the comments on this sweater showed people found the pattern short. I'm not that tall, but I felt that the different lace panel would help in two ways.  The lace panel has 3 extra stitches to give me the added length and the open yarn overs give it a little extra drape. This lace also has a center purl stitch between the wave shapes, that helps define the edges of the flowing shapes.  I like the way it is working out.  A lot.   

The little lace I'm using comes from a lace class I took from Annie Modesitt when I had only been knitting a few months  I was so out of my depth, so overwhelmed but there were a few little things she spoke of that made a great deal of difference ever since.  I kept the notes and have used this delightful lace a few times since. 

I have the two fronts done but I am not going to get a chance to work on it till Saturday.  There is knitting this evening and I have promised myself to work on the skirt and the next few days I have an Ilga Leja Year of the Scarf project I have to work on.  

We are doing a knit along at the store, and May is my month to join the ladies to display our scarf.  It is a fascinating knit.  Unusual shapes on unusual shapes out of an interesting yarn.  

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Nothing to see here

I have started a new project.  You had to know this was coming.  I did serious work in the study.  I touched lovely yarns.  And then  the wandering through all the many patterns on Ravelry I came across a pattern that caught my attention.

I did not like this when the issue came out. Well maybe I was lukewarm about it with an emphasis on the not warm part.  In fact I think this was the issue that made me decide to review well before I paid good money for a magazine.   

But the other day, while trying to get out of cleaning the study, I saw someones project on Ravelry.  Very nice.  Suddenly, I was wandering through all the projects for this pattern.  Very nice.  One of those things that looks good on almost everybody.
I had some Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in cream that should work.  It looks like a quick knit. I like quick knits.  While I was cleaning I was swatching.  When I wasn't swatching I was thinking about it.  This project took up a healthy portion of my free time this weekend.  

I have not knit enough of it yet for photos.  A few false starts and a pattern adjustment meant I'm behind where I hoped I would be. I should have enough by the end of the day.  If it keeps being a positive knitting experience, who knows what I will have ready to show you for tomorrow.  

Monday, 24 May 2010

Cleaning is a messy business

It was coming for quite a while.  A cabinet in my study needed cleaning.  Most of my furniture is shelving but for one glass cabinet, and it has been bugging me. With the new chair and the seating opportunities it offered, the study needed a rearrangement.

As ever when you clean, you create a big mess.

Looking a little 'Hoarders', isn't it?  

The cabinet was emptied sorted ordered and moved.  Casters were put on the bottom of the nice new blue chair. The desk was moved to its new spot.  

The WIP pile was gone through and any marginal items were taken out and decided upon. Frogging happened here.   I'm down to one basket of things I know I will finish.  My Lehe shawl.  My River Valley shawl. Some socks. There is another basket of projects that are actively being worked on.  The Sandy sweater, the skirt, some socks.    

All the bits and pieces that accumulate from the normal work of knitting are put away.  The bin with all the bits and pieces, all the leftover bits of projects were admired and played with.  I have some very pretty little bits and pieces as well as some mundane sock bits.

There were a few odd balls of yarn to be added to the sock yarn bin.     For some reason, likely the sheer size and weight of it, this bin, is always at the bottom of the pile of bins.  Most inconvenient, since it is the one I dig in the most.

The long and the short of it is, that from its earlier disaster phase,  the study is looking much better now.  (Amazing find of the day?    This place has a floor!)  I can get in and out with ease.  I can see the spinning corner.

It isn't perfect yet.  Not by a long shot, but it is much much better.  There are drawers to go through.  There is a works in progress cabinet to restore to its rightful place beside my chair. There are bookcases to dust, and shelves to put to rights.   There are printed things and patterns to go through and a pile of yarn to take to knitters in need.

But, all in all, the study is a much cheerier place this morning.  And I am cheerier for it.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Done! And then what?

It is a pretty thing when Friday ends the week and there is a finished object on the table.  Socks for Mr. Needles, just needing a heel, but in my eyes, complete.

The next thing I did this morning was take out another pair of socks that were done but for the heel.  I have no photo of them for my Ravelry Sock Parade.  These are a pretty pair, in an alpaca from Alpaca Plus, one of my favourite Alberta alpaca producers.  This stuff is just luscious.  

And then I looked closer. As I was laying them out for photos, I could see that one was just a few rows shorter than the other.  Just enough to show up.  Just enough to need more knitting.  And the problem wasn't the ribbing.  NO,  the ribbing matched perfectly.  Sigh. 

Unpicked and picked up and ready to go.

So here I sit, done and undone.  Situation normal. Sigh.

Updated:  Ha.  Done and done.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dear Winnie

Dear Winnie,

I've been reading you for a while now (Winston Churchill and his epic 6 volume series on World War 2), and you know what, Winnie?  

You are dry.  And I am only about a quarter of the way through book one. David McCullough you are not.

I know that if I move forward through this first part about what happened between the wars, it will be better.  Once you get to the battles, history becomes a little more interesting.  Then, history has stories of pithy details, of individual braveness, of heroics, of behind the scenes.  There is movement and there is grand victory and there is huge and desperate loss.

It is easy, Winnie, to read the history of things when it is exciting. But maybe Winnie, just maybe if you made this first part, these details of how political avoidance of  the task at hand, how the desire to keep the electorate on their side, and the wish to placate without resolution, made the second World War happen.  Maybe just maybe if more people thought this part was as exciting as the battles were, then maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't be making the same mistake over and over again.  

I know Winnie, that if you were here now, you would  tell me hush up.  Read it any way.  It is good for me, but I just have to say, Winnie, it is dry.  Really dry. 

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Heinous Truths

I learned a heinous truth yesterday.  Red wagons are expensive.  They aren't just expensive, they are priced out of reach for a lot of families.  

Cadillac Model but at least it is a 4 season model: Lee Valley Tools,

All-Season Convertible Wagon - Gifts

$195.00. Yowsers

Canadian Tire was out of Red Wagons,
 SuperCycle Kidz Wooden Rail Wagon 
if you went for plastic wheels, you could pay as low as $79 bucks.  Highway robbery.

And Walmart only had 1, a single season, just with tires model, for $149.00.  

There is something wrong with this.  Every kid should be able to afford a red wagon.  And if the cheap ones are going for 80 dollars, red wagons are way out of reach for a lot of people, a heinous truth of modern Canadian life.

At least most families can still afford a trike, $32.00

L'il Red 10 in. Child's Trike

I came home with this one.
  Yardworks Garden Mesh Cart

A fairly adult version, perfectly adequate, sensible even.  Sigh.

But I am thinking of painting it red.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Did you ever dream

Did you ever dream that as a full grown (and in my case over grown and nearing old) woman you would one day say to yourself, "Gee I wish I had a red wagon"?

I'm going to plant all my garden boxes today.  I have some very large tomatoe plants, some seeds to put in boxes for peas cucumbers, zucchini.  I have some herbs to plant, and I am going to have to do something about the overwhelming return of the chives, too.  

There are a few flowers to plant too.  I have oxalis to tuck somewhere.  It is hard to resist their warm red.  I have some pansies and violas to tuck in pots and baskets.  The bright sunny yellow and rich cheery purples will cheer up and add brilliance to quiet corners.    

There are bags of soil to move around, and if I look around here somewhere, there is probably peat too.  Lots of things to keep me busy all day long.  Lots of things to move from here to there, and there to here...

And thinking about moving all these things around my yard, with its hills and ups and downs and stairs, is right when I had the sudden wish for a little red wagon, a sudden and sincere urge, indeed need of one.           

Here I sit, as a full grown adult, thinking seriously about purchasing a brand spanking new red wagon of my very own.  I could do the adult thing and get one of those little carts meant for moving plants.   The garden centres all carry them but there is just something about a red wagon, that feels right. 

Monday, 17 May 2010

Weekend knitting

It was another busy weekend here at Chez Needles.  I worked on the skirt, the Bitterroot shawl and a fix it for a friend.  But because none of them are done or are close to done, I find myself swimming, looking for something to show you today.

When in doubt, go with the socks.  

These are a pair for Mr Needles out of Australian Merinos.  It is going to take 3 balls to make these nice long socks, but other than that single flaw, this is quite simply some of the finest sock yarn available.

I love the tweediness of this yarn.  I love the squooshy bouncy feel of it going through my fingers.  I love how the knitted fabric feels, thick and snuggly, smooth and soft and warm.  

I'm knitting a lot on socks right now.  It has to do with the season.  Socks are perfect hot summer afternoon in the shade knitting.  They are simple so you can stop and watch the birds and squirrels play without losing your place.  You can put them down and pick them up a dozen times and it is easy enough to see where you are.  Its a plain sock.  How can you go wrong?

But socks are also always on our minds here because it is spring and near to summer.  When it is lovely and warm outside, our basement becomes something a little more than chilly. Too hot?  Go inside for a while and you start wishing you could find a couple pair of socks to put on. Popsicle Pete's Palace it is.  Since the TV is in the basement and our studys are there too,  socks sit at the forefront of our mind even more in summer than in winter.  

If you find the chat here wandering distressingly often to socks, it is just a sign of the times.  Its summer. It is sock season.  

Friday, 14 May 2010

A good day

Thursday was a lovely day.  I had errands.  I wanted to stop at the greenhouse.  I had interesting things to pick up.  I was running early.

I'm not sure which of these things was best, but there was that part where I was running ahead.  Yeah, that was probably it.  It just doesn't happen that often.  

I had an hour to kill and I was near my favourite Salvation Army store.  It is a small store with special things in it. I love stopping there.  There is always something of interest to see, to think about, to buy.

They have a wonderful book selection.  I found a boxed set of books, paperbacks, with selections from Euripides and Plato to Melville and Einstein.  For 2 bucks.  That my friends, is a patented cheap me find.

I've always loved finding things of good value.  I watch fairly carefully and old has to be special or something interesting before I will purchase it.  This isn't old but I'm pretty sure there will be 2 bucks of interesting reading in that box.  

With one really good buy under my belt and my spidey senses tingling, when I saw something interesting across the room, I could not resist.  

On a side table, looking forlorn and dingy, was a tea set.  Pot, creamer, sugar and tray.  It is a nice little tea set.  Not expensive, just nice.  It was all grimy and blackish and dingy as only silver can be. 

It isn't collector sort of silver and it isn't the kind of thing that is going to show up at estate sales.  No, this is the sort of inexpensive silver plate that shows up at garage sales and new to you stores in a dingy sorry looking state.   But it was a silver tea set.  

There is something about a silver tea set that just makes me want to wear red and bring out fancy tea cups.  I would only serve the finest of teas and crumpets with raspberry jam and clotted cream. I would hold my pinkie finger in the air while sipping.  I would probably be reading Plato, or knitting with the finest of Shetland wools. A silver tea set is an adventure, through space and time and silliness.       

All my sweet silver set needed was a little bit of elbow grease.  
So elbow grease it was.  It looks reasonably decent.  For 14 bucks, I think it is a pretty good deal.  

Today's full purchase was 22 dollars.  I got something kind of nice, something really interesting, did it without creating more waste plus I get to give to a cause that does really good work. 

It was a really nice day.

PS.  It is my oldest sons birthday today.  Many Happy Happy Birthdays, son 1.  30 years, old man.  Where have they gone?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

More skirts

The thing about skirts is, there is a lot of knitting involved.  The same thing over and over again.  Or as in my case a 2 row repeat.  For miles and miles.  Its a good thing the stitch pattern is hypnotic. 

I have to knit another ball of yarn before it is ready for trying on again.  That will be about the same point where I will want to change needles and go up one needle size.  

Until then it is a lot of mottled red knitting.  It is a lot of the same thing over and over.  I am going to try to keep my knitting life spicy by finishing up other things.  That lovely purpley Bitterroot awaits some last few rows. There are some really nice socks to finish in a delicious navy tweed Australian Merino,  and oh yeah.  There is the white knitting of forever for the as yet unfinished blind.  

Plenty to work on to keep me entertained.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


I whined the other day about works in progress building up, and today I am doing something about it.  

I started a skirt a while ago.  Began it and ripped it back and began it again.  I finally finished the first part.  I sewed it together and tried it on.  Just right.  No overly generous ease this time, just decent fit.  On to the next part.  

The next part has been the subject of huge internal debate.  I have waffled and changed my mind numerous times.  Just last Friday I was sure I was going to work colour panels.  Then on the weekend, while traveling, I thought 'no, quicker to knit in one colour'...and back again.  I liked both ideas.    

I had no idea which way I was going to go and figured I'd make the real decision when it came time to knit.  And that is exactly what happened.  The decision sort of made itself.  

There I was with the skirt sewn together, with the stitch pattern in my head and fingers that were itching to get going.  So I picked up the needles and began.

There at the top, is mistake rib.  I love the way this stitch looks.  Its lacy but not frilly.  Its strong vertical lines offset the busy in between.  As I knit down to the hem, I'll switch to larger and larger needles, probably going up two sizes, to get a lacy effect.  And then I am going to knit something really lacy, in a rich racy red, to peak out below the hem.      

Racy red lacy.  Am I old enough for this?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Dawn minutes

There is a quality to early morning light that defies description.  Or perhaps it is that the early morning sky doesn't have a colour with a name.  It isn't gray, it isn't blue, it isn't black, it is somewhere in between. It just is lighter.  

There is an expectancy to early morning light, a sense that something is about to happen, but it isn't yet. Time hangs on the gentle balance between night and day.

Soon enough the east will be suffused in soft peach that grows richer with each passing minute.   It slips to hot pink and then the sky will flash with orange and the sun will crest the horizon and day will begin.  

Till then I'm just going to sit here, and watch and dream that I have endless moments.  

Monday, 10 May 2010

Monday Miscellany

This last weekend, we were back in Saskatchewan, visiting more family.  While we were out there, I went through my mother in laws yarns, needles and stuff.  There were some very interesting things and some very ... well some other stuff.

There were a lot of bits and pieces.  She belonged to the generation of women who saved every bit, who would find a way to use it rather than toss it out.  There were a lot of bits (pieces shorter than 6 inches) and a lot of pieces (shorter than 1 foot)  They have been separated from the pieces that were long enough to do a nice long  row of knitting or crochet.  

It fills one big storage box and two small containers for the special things.  

This is one of the special things.  My Mother in law worked in Vancouver for a while when she was young. She lived in a womens hotel (hostel) and evenings were long and quiet.  She decided to make a tablecloth.  She bought all the thread she needed, and worked on it until she moved back home and got married.  

It sat in her hope chest till long after the kids were grown and gone.  She came across it again and finished it in the early 90s. These tiny balls of size 30 cordonnet are what is left.  

I also came across the pattern she used for the tablecloth.  I think the proper thing to do will be to use it for something special for her 9 granddaughters.    So, sometime in the very near future I will be crocheting wee tiny spiral motifs, hopefully 4 from each ball.  I will block them, then mount them on a dark something, ready for the girls to frame.      

In the meantime, I found a tiny animal sitting on my shelf with my teapot.    

Did anyone lose a wee knitted bunny?  

Bunny is knitted in Kidsilk Aura, one ball with enough left over for a tiny little baby bunny.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Liesl of the Sun

The last time you saw my Liesl, it looked like this:

 Then I took one photo when it looked like this:

This is a fast sweater.  I knit a bout 6 hours on the weekend, and about 2 today, and she now looks like this:  

Well, she did.  She is blocking now and looks even more crisp and neat..  What a fantastic sweater.  It is the nicest thing I have knit yet.

I could knit more of these, but if I have one in every colour, will people think I am weird?  I do have one more planned.  Longer sleeves, I think, and smaller, more reserved buttons.  But just one...for now.

Some Ravelry members wonder why people post pictures of their projects on a dummy rather than on them.  Lack of a willing photographer is my principle problem, and then there is this:    

Yeah.  Not happening. 

I will...

Today, I will vacuum my study.

Today I will vacuum my livingroom.  

Today I will dust.

Today I will wipe walls.

But I also need to get my hair cut, get a new mattress from Ikea for the travel van.  So, ummmmm, Road trip.

Because I am heading to town, I will stop by the southside RCY where they have some really fantastic shell buttons.  One of these very large buttons, should be just the right finishing touch for the Liesl.  My mantra to prepare for this part of the trip is 'I will not have a yarn accident'.

By the end of the day, there will be a finished Liesl for the button to be sewn to. A couple hours for all the final touches, small sleeves, weaving ends, making a button loop, sewing on button, light blocking.   If I can't squeeze that out of a day full of housework and errands, then I am quite clearly, doing too much housework.  

So if the housework doesn't get done... again, and the house continues to look a little more like layers of dirt, could we just pretend that I am trying to plant a rose garden right here, inside the house?  Stopping to smell the roses shouldn't stop at the front door, now should it? 

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


I slept in again.  Talk about luxury.  It leaves me with little time to think or write or organize my day.  Luxury. Uhuh.

I'm well along on the Liesl sweater.  All I have left is the sleeves, and really, that isn't much.  They are going to be short, just a wee bit longer than caps.  I'm really impressed at how this turned out. It took me more than a day but not that much.

It is almost time to start getting organized for work.  Behind before I begin.  I hate when that happens.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Spring is yellow

I woke this morning, facing my bedroom windows.  Even in the very very early morning light, that early light where you see only two things, dark and a slightly less dark sky, I could tell one thing.  It was windy.  The high tree tops danced an artful dance against the indigo sky.  Our spring has been odd and the one thing connecting all the days has been wind.  

And so it goes.

All the wind is keeping my thoughts stuck on sweaters.  Yes I still have the urge to knit red.  Its the oddest sort of feeling, this urge to just knit something red.  I will stay strong against it.

When you try to resist something your fingers seem to want, it is a good idea to work with something else you love. I am.  

I'm working with butter yellow.  This is Cloud Cotton again. It is just one of the nicest yarns.  Lofty, with the weight and hand of a good worsted weight yarn.  Nothing mercerized or glossy or crisp about this yarn. Just soft.

We've been having an informal Liesl along at the store.  As in, two people knit them in the last few weeks and I'm jumping on the bandwagon.  I have been admiring Liesl for a good long while but I just could not sort out the yarn I wanted to use.  I dithered while they knit.  Last Friday, I jumped and picked up the lovely yellow.  

I was influenced by my recent knitting with Cloud Cotton, but mostly it was just the yellow.  It suits the season. It's a warm yellow, but not an orange warm.  It speaks more of cream and fresh green pastures and baby chicks. I was deeply committed to the color even as I wound the yarn into yarn cakes.  Seeing it in soft round cakes made me like it more.  On to knit.  Yummy.


Monday, 3 May 2010


A friend of mine is having really, really hard time and I find myself contemplating how can I help?  What can I do?    

There are hundreds of platitudes and sayings about how to be strong and how it will get better, but you know what? Sometimes it just sucks. 

Sometimes there is no way around it and sometimes the only option is to sit and just breathe.  Just breathe.  In. Out.  

A friend can remind a friend to do this.    A friend can send a hug and hold your hand even when they are not close by.  So I am, even when you cannot feel it, I am holding your hand and am hugging you when you need it.

And for the rest of us?  Just breathe.  Sometimes we all need to be reminded of that.