Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Continuing apace

The Onerva shawl continues.  Since the last time I showed photos, there has been a whole lot of knitting.  But not on that particular piece. No, I started it all over again.   

I sat one afternoon to work on it, but could not seem to find my way to the right part of the pattern.  And none of the little patterns wanted to line up.  I knit and reknit one row, 5 times.  I was getting a little frustrated but as I struggled, I began to understand the pattern. Not just understand it, but to know it.  I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but I got to the point where I knew when it was right and knew when it was wrong without even looking at it.  

And that is when I restarted.  And I have not had to look at the pattern much at all.  The only thing I had to watch for was when to start the next design in the centre section.  

One big oops, one small oops, but only the truly eagle eyed would ever see them.  Mostly, all that will ever be seen is the lovely delicate rhythmic rows of dainty lace.

And so, the shawl continues apace, immersed in rhythm and quiet knitting.   

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Wondering Why

I was knitting a sample for the store last weekend, just a simple linen stitch scarf.  Should have been easy.  Should have been rhythmic.  Instead, it was painful and irritating. Not physically painful, but deeply mentally distressing.  

It had a rhythm.  It flowed and moved along with ease.  It should have been just my thing, but it wasn't.  Why is it that one simple thing will strike a chord and resonate within, leading you down its path.  Why is it that another leaves you cold?  

After two evenings and a morning, spent struggling with it, I gave up.  I knit a little lace scarf, 198 yds. of Heaven.  It practically knit itself, and every stitch was a symphony.  By evening I had it blocking. I delivered it yesterday.  

The lace resonated in a pleasing way.  Its harmonics soothed my soul.  The linen stitch was serious discord.     

Monday, 28 June 2010


I have a hundred things to say today. I have been sitting here trying to figure out what of the hundred things are going to be of interest to anybody, including me.  

I've been sitting here for an hour false start after false start.    These hundred things are clearly, overwhelmingly important only inside my head.  They evaporate into minutiae the moment I write them down.  

So I think I am just going to say the one thing that is really concerning me.    

...  ...    Obviously nothing!  B)

 I'm going to head off to town and get the town stuff done, so I can have a nice afternoon puttering with my plant pots.  

Saturday, 26 June 2010


I know I have spoken of moose before on this blog.  They are a feature of life in my neck of the woods.  Not a daily feature, but they are around.  

My knowledge of moose is the occasional sighting and that 3 yearlings once stopped on my back deck and ate plants in my flower bed.  Mr. Needles knowledge is considerably more. 

He has a lifetime of accumulated knowledge.  He avoids sharing his knowledge of such things because him telling me about moose gets the same bleary eyed response as when I try to explain to him the thrill of watching thousands of simple knit stitches coming off the tip of a needles to make a sock.

Last night, when I got home from work, Mr. Needles was watching 
a show about this guy calling moose...  Seriously. I usually tune such things out, but for some reason, this guy caught my attention.  So Mr. Needles patiently explained what the TV guy was doing.  The show was called The Rackman.  He was calling moose.  

Now as some of you know, calling an animal means you make a sound that will attract a moose who is looking for a mate or a fight to your location.  

Rackman was doing a really good impression of a moose. Listen carefully.  That chuffling huffing sound in the background , yes, the little sound akin to someone clearing their throat, is the moose.   

I have always wondered if moose were the last animal the good Lord made. They seem to be made of leftover parts. Legs that are too impossibly long.  Antlers that are too huge.  A nose sized for something even bigger than they are.  

And a little sissy call.  

Fills me with mirth.  

Friday, 25 June 2010

A stunning development

After knitting past the heel of the first Monkey sock, I ripped it back.  Only a small child could have gotten that tight little socklet on its foot.  

I started again.  Much better this time.  Softer, stretchier.  Just right.  I hope.  Last night I reknit past the heel.  

And then I ripped it back.  

I had dropped a stitch on the heel flap and fixed it, but it just wasn't right. It worked but it wasn't good looking knitting.  Two heel flaps knit and not a pair of socks to show for it.  Sigh. 

 I made an executive decision.  I am going to knit my normal, standard easy heel.  Afterthought.  Here I come. It will allow me to fix what was a rather wide heel to be one much more suited to the wearer.  Suddenly it has all become much more fun.  

You can see the stitch definition much more clearly in the first photo, but the colour is so wrong.  This gratuitous second picture is just for colour.  

Satsuma.  Lorna's Laces.  Seriously fine.   

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Twilights Call

Sometimes, in the long twilights of a prairie summer solstice, the air is filled with choirs of coyotes.  One den will call and from not far away another will answer.  Coyote song is layers and harmonies and echoes. clinging to the forest edges.  

Sometimes, at far mountain lakes, the evening is filled with the haunting call of the loon. The sound ripples over the water and enters hidden corners of your heart and fills you with the wonder.

Sometimes twilight is filled with far thunder.  The low dissonance hints at something cavernous building in the silent evening sky.  Uncontrolled energy grows into deep rumbles as clouds move closer. Rain starts slowly, firm plops that become an urgent rush, a crescendo of thunder and rain insistently hitting the hard ground.  After the first rush of rain, if you are lucky, the sound softens to the gentle patter of soft drops falling and quenching the thirsty soil.   

I love this time of year when open windows let you fall asleep to twilights call.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


I was working a little on the lacy Onerva shawl last night.  I really am enjoying it.  

There is something so sublime about sitting here, with delicate yarn in hand, making fine little stitches creating an airy tracery.  It makes me feel delicate and fine too.  Perhaps that is why lace knitting appeals to me. It is more than pattern.  It is a personal search for dainty delicate.

I'm still learning the pattern, but I am starting to notice the groups of three that show up.  Three edge stitches repeated, three basic rows.  Double decrease groups climb three high.  Stitches between sections of patterns across the rows, three different counts.

It is no wonder this pattern feels so hypnotic.  The repeats are hidden.  You have to go looking, but once you see them, they pop up everywhere.  

I didn't get enough done to take a different photo.  It still looks, to the untrained eye, exactly like it did from the weekends work, but soon, soon it will look like nothing else on earth.  Rhythmic, defined, delicate, a sigh with order and precision. 

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

What else I did on the weekend

Besides all the bits in yesterdays post, I did knit on the lacy little top.  The sideways portion of all the parts is complete and I have moved on to the yoke.

I completed one repeat and then realized that this was going to take way more stitches than I had picked up.  Rip. Rip.  I picked up double the amount and reknit to the end of the first repeat.  And then I did a little more.  

This stitch pattern is lovely.  It has incredible depth and texture.  So many levels.  But knitting it is very very hard on my hands.  Knit 3 together is not my favourite thing.  It pushes the limit to get through one repeat in a session.  

A tough knit but I think it is going to be well worth it.  

Monday, 21 June 2010

Like a lot of weekends

This one was a weekend of endings and beginnings...with a little working on other stuff in between.

So endings.  

These are simple plain socks but it has been a while since I enjoyed something more. They match exactly.  Right down to the colour on the cast off edge.  Once I realized that, half the fun was just watching them work up, knowing perfctly well that within 3 more rows, I was going to switch colours.  Bigtime fun.  

I know.  I live a small life.

With room in the sock rotation, I began another pair of socks.  

Wait a minute.  Is that pattern?  Yes it is.  This is the famous monkey socks.  Everyone in the world has knit monkey socks.  Or at least everyone of the people in my knitting group has.  I think.  Every single person who has knit them says they are the nicest things to knit.  Most of them have knit second and third pairs.  Many of them consider the monkey their basic sock.  

I now understand why.  Hypnotic little thing.  I started about 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, knit till dinner and am onto the 4th repeat.     

Saturday afternoon as consolation to something bad, but only knitting bad, that was happening, I started an Onerva Shawl,  Onervahuivi in Finnish. 

Not nearly so many people have knit this shawl as the Monkey sock, but they should.  Strikingly hypnotic. Easily memorised.  Delicate looking but oh so simple to execute. 

All in all it was a very good knitting weekend. I could use a lot more of those.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I wish I felt more inspired this morning, but all I want to do is sleep.  So why am I up? 

I will lead you to something that has been running though my mind for days now.  Mr Needles thought of it around the campfire.  

And if that one isn't pretty enough for you, redux,

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The comfort of socks.

Handknit socks are so many things to me.  I really ought to have put up a tag 'Socks' when I began the blog so many months ago so I could see all the things I have already said about socks without repeating myself, ad nauseum.    They were my beginning in the knitting world and who knows, they may yet be my ending.  But not yet.  

How is one to express how much comfort, safety, consolation, joy,   challenge, exuberance and simple pleasure there is in the knitting of socks.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way.  There are so many good books about knitting socks, such interesting sock yarns, so many different techniques to be learned in the knitting of socks, that I am sure that non sock knitters exposed to the full scope of sock knittings mighty and massive range, would assume we are all nuts.   

After a big challenge, after a project that consumed me the last 2 weeks, there is nothing so wonderful as sitting back and knitting for a while on simple socks. The simple motion repeated over and over, its hypnotic rhythm, soothes and eases my weary soul.  

A plain sock is all I knit on yesterday. It felt very good.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

EZ Done

I cast off the EZ sweater last night. It was late, but I did a quick try on. Pleasing but for the sleeves.  Big sleeves.  Very big sleeves.  Kimono sleeves.  I could make them longer, but they need to be narrower rather than longer.  I could do a quick cuff to tighten it up, but the sleeves would become perilously long.  Did I mention that I have a stubby body?  Stubby arms.  Stubby legs.  Stubby feet. (Stubby brain?)    

I'm going to set it aside for a couple days, then block it and finish it, and will then decide what to do about it.  I may steek the sleeves  narrower to get a little better fit.  Next time the sleeve sections cast on will have fewer stitches.

The yarn isn't ideal to steek, with its low wool content, but there you have it.  Something has to be done.  Possibly a twill tape to reinforce the seam?  Anybody have any ideas?

As I said, I was up late.  Now I am up early when I really planned on sleeping in a little.  A dog was barking at something out in the bush from 3:30 onward so I am just a mite cranky this morning. In order not to spread my unseemly crankiness, I am going to go find a sock to knit.  A plain ordinary sock with no controversy. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Hard to believe

Considering that I am still knitting front button bands, (Note to self:  Hoods are large) the one thing I am not going to talk about is how nice the EZ sweater is.  Maybe tomorrow.

Too my sorrow I have right here in my hands, proof that all things are possible, that what goes around comes around.  

Yes we have here, the single thing, the one item that irretrievably marred the name of good acrylics and manmade fibres everywhere, for all time.  

When people speak of bad acrylics, this is the one thing they all have in mind.  Even young women who were not alive before its demise, know of this stuff through the legendary bubbly slippers.  Slippers made in 1972 still exist, still populate the corners of grandmothers and great grandmothers homes.  

I had heard rumours of its re-emergence.  People told me they had seen it locally  But now I have some.  In my house.  For old time sake?  Nay.  More as a cautionary tale. 

Having a skein means I should look at it as I would any yarn.  So here goes.  

It has the look of unspun roving.  Perhaps its originators meant it to take the place of the unspun White Buffalo of Siwash sweater fame.  Perhaps it was designed to be an easy care alternative.    

Then as now, it is coarse and stiff.  It crunches when you rub it together.  It squeaks when you squeeze the ball.  When I pickup the skein, it sends vibes up my arm that remind me of restless legs syndrome.  

I know that some elderly women wanted to see this stuff back.  I know they want to knit with it because they see it as a good sturdy cost effective buy.  It is not.  For a pair of slippers you will need two balls.  It will cost 8 to 10 dollars for the pair.  Not particularly cheap.  

Then you have to work with it.  It will be very hard on the elderly hands who were looking for it.  Their hands will ache with the knitting of it.  Why do something that will hurt?  

If your grandmother or elderly mother wants to buy this stuff, get enough for one pair, and then go straight to the nearest good yarn shop. Convince them they should buy enough to make a pair of slippers of the coarsest, most inexpensive of wools. If you can, go up a step and get the second most coarsest of wools.  Ask them to knit with both, and see which one they enjoyed working with the most.   

And that ought to put this travesty of 20th and now 21st century manmade fibre production back to where it came from.  The history books.  After all, the feet you save will be your own.

Here endeth my cautionary tale.  

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Back from the High Country

It was our annual, early season trek to the high country last week. Every time I go, I learn something.  This time I learned never, ever forget the long johns.  Ever.  It was almost as good as the time I forgot my coats and outer wear.  No, better.

It would have been cold with them, but it was almost unbearable without.  At least for knitting. That there was one evening Mr. Needles felt it was almost too cold to fish says something.  (I'm not sure if it was just the cold though.  Seems to me that was the same evening as the Stanley Cup final.  The radio came in scratchy and hollow, but it came in.  Very Foster Hewitt)  

But yes, there were days, where, even in the van with an occasional boost from the furnace, and the engine heater, it was quite simply too cold to knit.  My hands ached and became frozen stumps.  

It was pretty though.  The clouds clung in the mountain valleys and kissed the ridges.  It rained in the valley every single day and most mornings brought a hint of fresh snow on the higher elevations to the west.  But for Friday.  Friday dawned sunny and utterly superb.  It was of course time to go home.   

With the cold, I didn't get quite as much knitting done as I hoped.  It is a basic EZ Adult Surprise Jacket, with a hood and possibly pockets.   Right now taking a break from a marathon of knitting on the hood.  I have 4 inches of hood left and a bit of button band and the veriest smallest bit of weaving ends in and finishing them off.  

I had to get the sleeves sewn this morning so I tried it on and I think it could replace the Leisl as the nicest sweater I have knit yet.  Nice big sleeves to accommodate the many layers of camping. Good length, good fit across the chest, with luck, a good hood.    
I'm going to be very close to short of purple.  I'm making most of the hood out of the multi colour.   My plan is to finish off the fronts with a set of purple ridges, then a couple ridges of the multi, where in the buttonholes shall reside, and then finally to wind up with purple again.       

I have to say, this is a really nice knit.  I might do it again if another yarn and sweater are behaving so badly as the first go round with this yarn did.  The Adult Surprise Jacket, saver of good yarns from bad patterns.    

Friday, 11 June 2010

A Little Lace 5

The darkest nights

Left to right:  2 small balls of Centolavaggi, Shadow, Shimmer or something from Knitpicks  I forget which.  10/2 Bamboo

I don't have a lot of blacks.  Not my favourite thing to knit, no matter how good the yarn is.  

I could tell by the time I got here, that it was time to stop.  I couldn't remember things, I missed some others that I really wanted to show off.  There is a particularly lovely hand painted red Merino and Sea Silk from a hand dyer in Saskatchewan that I wanted to show.  And the purples and the golds...I'm sure there is more.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed the parade as much as I did playing with the yarns.  I only wish the pictures were better.  If you could magnify the colours...

Come Monday, I hope to have something really nice and knitterly to show you.  Its nice to see yarn, but where is the knitting, Needles?  Where is the knitting?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A Little Lace 4

Ravishing Reds

Bottom, left to right:  Hand dyed Misti Alpaca, Shadow Tonal, Mericash, Ella Rae Merino Lace, A new and really lovely thing, Helen's Lace in Ysolda Red (there might be 1 more skein at the south side RCY if you are interested, but I expect it to go fast), Centolavaggi, Colrain Lace

Top, left to right:  Hand dyed by me Old Roses, Mini Maiden, Merino Oro, Einband Icelandic Lace.

The reds are some of my very favourite things.  I love red.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Little Lace 3

How Green is my Valley

Bottom, left to right:  Sea Silk, Shadow, another Shadow, Merino Lace, Hand dyed Shimmer

Top, left to right: Sea Silk, Alpaca with a Twist, Kid Silk Haze, Colrain Lace.

Again, the colours are just not doing these lovely things justice, but this one is better than the rest of the pictures.  Take a cue from the Kid Silk Haze.  It is the Jelly colourway.  Brilliant yellow green.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Little Lace 2

Blue on Blues
Bottom, left to right:  Colrain Lace, Superior Cashmere, Knitpicks Shadow Tonal - 2 colours, layered by 2 colours of Knitpicks Shimmer, Shadow Tonal, Superior Alpaca, Shimmer, Merino Oro in denim, Merino Lace in Teal, Colrain Lace

Top, Left to right:  Shimmer Hand dyed, 2 colours of a new Lace from Zitron, Filigran, Handmaiden Lace Silk, Hand dyed by me, Forget Me Not, Handmaiden Mini Maiden, Misti  Alpaca Lace, and closing off is that previously listed cone of Colrain lace.  

The colours are much, much richer than they show up here.  Even the pale soft shades of Shimmer and Misti Alpaca Lace have hidden depths.

Lovely Lovely blues.

Monday, 7 June 2010

A little view of the lace collection

I have tried to explain my lace thing.  To myself that is.  There is no way I could possibly explain it to others.  

In an effort to teach myself that I do have enough, and that it will take decades to knit this stuff up, I am going to have a lace parade. Over the next few days, I'll try to display it for you and for me, in colour families.  

There are significant things left out.  I won't show you any of the multi coloured yarns but for those that are heavily influenced to one colour range or other.  Or were on top.  I left out the purples entirely.  Golds too are not represented.  I'll do that next week. And my most recent aquisitions are not even here yet.

The other thing is, this is only a representative sampling, not quantity.  Quantity is something I have to face on my own. Most of the small skein yarns have been purchased in multiples.  I usually purchase between 1200 and 1600 metres of a particular yarn. Lace, even this much, doesn't take up much space, so it is easy to store.   That way, when I am knitting them down the road, I can do a large shawl or a small scarf, and not run out.  Lace, even this much, doesn't take up much space.   

Yes I really do worry about running out of this stuff. If you hear mad cackling when I say this, it's OK.  It's just me.  Bwhahahahahaha

So to begin. The soft and sublte creams and almost whites.

From Left to right:  
bottom:  Punta Mericash Solid, Knitpicks Bare Merino Lace, Yarns 2 Dye 4 Merino Lace, Kid Silk Haze

Top:  Zephyr Wool and Silk, a gifted thing of loveliness, Elann Baby Merino Lace, Rowan Kid Silk Haze, Fleece Artist Sea Silk, Zephyr 100% Wool Lace 

Friday, 4 June 2010

Though there has not been knitting content

There has been knitting.

I have given up on the Sandi sweater.  After 4 tries to adjust the sleeve so it fit nicely, I give up.  It looked awful.  

But I liked the yarn and did not want to give up on it.  It isn't fancy. It isn't expensive.  It is in fact really inexpensve.  It is a blend, mostly acrylic, but it just feels nice running through my hands.  

And I do need a sweater out of it for camping.  A camper van sweater, needs to be something that doesn't have to lay out to dry.  It has to be able to hit a dryer, I know, handknit and all, but if you are traveling for more than one round of a closet full of clothes, in a mini house, this is one of the realities.  

So, sitting here, completely unwilling to give up, I decided to knit an Adult Surprise Jacket.  I know I can't lose.  It is a good feeling.  

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Little tasks

Today I must begin to stock the van for the season.  Its going to be a long, busy day, but I am looking forward to it.  

Books to choose for the van.  The bird book starts the pile.  I have to go looking for the plant book.  That gets used a lot around here.

It looks like it is going to be a great day to hang blankets out to air.  And the sun is going to do wonders for the pillows.  I might even go so far as to hang out all the bedding from the house too.  

There are plants to stick in the ground before we go and boxes to move about in the vegetable patch. Only two perennials, but small moves accomplish big things over time.  Gardening is a patient mans game.

There is a little more yarn to choose before I can call the van stash complete, some needles to put out with it, so that even in that most horrific of times (if I forgot my knitting at home) I would still be able to knit. 

Odds and ends chores, for house and traveling home.  Little things will fill this day, but there will be time, I am promising myself, to sit and knit in the sun.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Yarn Emergency kit

I'm getting the camper van ready for the season again.  It is that time of year when I must prepare for the backwoods, for remote possibility that I will run out of things to knit and that yarn will be several hours drive and a whole lot of effort away.

What to pack? What to pack? Basics first.  Sock yarn choices for this year were easy.  A little red, a little blue, a little yellow.  Cotton. Wool.  I am covered.      

I'm trying to resist the urge to toss a sweaters worth of yarn in, though I do have room in the emergency kit for a couple scarf yarns. Once the biggie ziploc bag is filled, I am good.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

From Knitting

There are a lot of things I gained from knitting, not the least of which is some lovely things to wear.  

I gained a fantastic job,  River City Yarns, and wonderful bosses.  I gained shorter days, and a whole host of new career experiences.  I'm still not sure that I am good at selling yarn, but I know, positively, absolutely and beyond all doubt, I can sell knitting.  

I gained skills, confidence and the firm knowledge that there is at least one place in life where I get a mulligan (I use it almost every dang day) and it means I just get to knit more.  

But most valuable of all, the thing I really gained from knitting is a marvelous community of knitters. Knitting friends.  Of all the things I have gained, it is the knitting friends that surprised me most. I never expected that.

So when a friend brings something wonderful back from her dream vacation, I am thrilled and speechless. 

Little more than a week ago, these skeins were sitting on a shelf in Iceland.  And now they are here. Sitting on my table.  Real honest to goodness Icelandic lace weight, straight from the backs of a line of sheep a thousand years old, straight from a culture of stories and sagas that go back long, long before the printed word was common.  It comes from a people whose roots are were the sea and on land worn by glaciers from deep craggy places.  It comes straight from a century old company  producing a wonderfully warm, fashionably crunchy, lightly spun kind of yarn.  I feel touched by ancient traditions and patterns and people who knit because that is just what you did...

Special yarn deserves a special knit. The search for something that is traditional and shows off all the best qualities of this lovely red lace is on.  

Thank you so much for an unexpected pleasure, Frazzled Knitter.  Unexpected friends are the very very best kind.