Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A State of Play

Quite some time ago, I started to knit a vest for Mr. Needles.  It was colourwork.  Then somewhere along the way I got distracted.  Every once in a while, he asks about his vest, and I just mumble something to get me out of that moment.  I know he isn't going to stop asking.  I don't really remember how long ago it was, I only know that in the intervening time, I have become a much more comfortable knitter, and a far far more competent one.  

I do remember that I had about 6 inches complete.  I stopped because I was not happy with it. I did not like the pattern and most of all, I did not like the colours.  Something was off. The last few days while doing the finishing on my sweater, and knitting through the magical music that is colourwork, I knew it was time and I knew I was ready for the challenge of the vest.

The new pattern was chosen easily, the Lichen Waistcoat from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. I acquired a lot of stash trying to find colours for the first vest incarnation.   Lichen requires only 5 colours.  Surely there are 5 good colours in the stash.

My picks.
Top left to bottom right:  Light gray heather, oatmeal heather, cream, dark gray heather, and walnut heather.  Not bad, but I wasn't sure of the light gray.  It was too cool for the warmer tones of the rest of the palette.  So I had to search for one more colour.  Sigh.  

After consulting with the Sunday knitters at the store, I came up with this.  
Better, yes? Soft gray out, kakhi green-brown heather in.  Nice and warm.

Better was not enough, so using a trick from a podcast over at the Knit Picks website, I confirmed the choices.  The podcast recommended taking a picture of your choices and looking at them in black and white.  This computer does not seem to have (or the operator is deficient) the ability to do that, so I opted to take all the colour out.  Try it sometime.  It was illuminating.  One thing, one colour stuck out like a sore thumb.  

The dark gray heather was completely wrong.  What looked good in the world, was absolutely wrong in black and white, though I cannot explain why.  It was just too harsh, maybe something to do with the warm/cool colour thing?  Back to the drawing board and looking for a 5th colour.  Sigh.  

Using the intensity discovered in the colour out photo, I matched colours in the pattern, to my colours.  According to the charts, the 5th colour is just an accent, used only on one row in each large pattern section.  Surely there was something that would work.  Running all the way to town for 1 weenie colour row?  Not happening.  Maybe the rust heather from the first palette for the vest?  

Oh. My. Goodness. 

Oh my.  Oh.  It works. Time to do up a swatch.  

(If I may just insert a comment about small stitch count circular swatches, pbthththththth.)

I knew that I was on the right track. It was just too good to be wrong...right up till I got to the cream in the second perrie pattern.   The cream was kind of like a bucket of cold water tossed over the entire process. I did not see that coming.  

I don't think there is a colour that is softer than white but less creamy than what I have, in Cascade 220.  I think I am out of luck.  I tried a bit of the gray (in the swatch), just in case that was better.  It in the picture, it isn't too bad, but in life, it stood out.  Just too cool.
Back to 4 colours.  (Insert extensive knashing of teeth)  

Now wait just one minute. It was deeply frustrating but I was not about to give up after all this.   I took some time to think it through.  

It occurred to me, that the lighter colour in the second of the perrie patterns (See the swatch), only appears in one place. It never strays  from its confines in the pattern repeats separating each of the other patterns (variations on an oxo design) of the vest.  This colour is only used on 4 rows with one ground colour. 

Why not use the oatmeal heather for this small pattern.  Against the rich heather of the green/brown, it will look lighter than where it appears as the ground of the oxo patterns.    Problem solved. Knitting begun.

Note the catchy stitch markers!  I was knitting upstairs when I started the colourwork pattern, and these were handy.  Now that I am back down in the study, I'm switching them out for some nice colour coordinated ones.  (Yes I can do this.  I think I have a stash of stitch markers too)

So I am off and running.  I feel really good about where I am running to.  Now if only I felt as comfortable trusting the math.  

Monday, 30 August 2010

Done and Not Done

As the update said late Friday, I could not get through enough of the shawl to make it reasonably possible to get it all done.  The weather played havoc with my hands and though this isn't a cobwebby lace yarn, I just could not make my hands work together well enough to keep an even tension.

And in truth, after about an inch, I also realized it was an unreasonable hope to finish the shawl by Tuesday.  Maybe for some, but not for me.  For me, knitting this shawl is going to have to be a slow process where I can take my time to play with my gauge and knit it well rather than fast.  They are two very different things in this household.  

So back to the sweater.  It is done!

The last photos I have of it, were as it was blocking before the final finishing.  The buttons still needed to be done as well as the ribbing along the sleeve hems.  I'd do better photos of it now, but it is upstairs where Mr Needles is still sleeping.  

All the bits are done now, and I am so very very pleased with it.  

I wore it to work yesterday and it was a very well recieved.  I'd say it was a hit, but that sounds a little too rockstar-ish for this very earthy goodness sort of sweater. (I think I will wear this as if it was a rockstar sweater and I, his greatest fan)   

The pattern is Freyja from Knitting Iceland, a new online magazine, and the yarn is the Icelandic in spirit only, Sirdar Eco DK.  The yarn is Icelandic in spirit because it is a lightly spun sort of yarn with lots of volume for a DK weight.  

There were several diversions from the design.  In the beginning, I worried that I would not have enough of the lightest colour yarn so I felt I needed to knit some bands with the colours.  I have 2 balls of the lightest yarn left and I used just under 2 balls combined of the other colours.  It would have been very close, but I would have made it.  Still I like the bands and the warm grey and brown.   

Because of the length of the design and for fit, I decided not do the increase/decrease sections that the original has.  I opted for a simple gentle decreasing till the fit was right at the underarms.  

I made a 3/4 length sleeve rather than the full length the pattern has.    Part of this was the worry about running out of yarn and deciding to knit down later, rather than stretch my resources before I was certain, and part because when I knew I could go full length, I felt lazy and decided to knit only the ribbing for a nice 3/4 sleeve.  A full length sleeve would always be pushed up anyway.

With the addition of the bands of colour before and after the Icelandic rose and with the soft lovely way the other 2 colours were working up, I wanted just a touch more of them for balance and accent.  I finished all the edges with a ribbed edge.   2 rows main colour, followed by 2 of each of the other colours ending with the darkest colour. I knit 3 one row button holes instead of using the loop closing the original has.

The one thing I did differently that may have changed the way the sweater functions was the ribbing.  The original is finished with a crocheted edging of one strand of Lopi and one strand of kid mohair.  It makes a very crisp no stretch finish to the edge.  Where it might matter to the way the sweater performs is at the neckline.  With its very open stretchy ribbed neckline, mine feels like it is about to fall off my shoulders.  I did reinforce the ribbing with some elastic, but I may yet go back and weave in a strand of kid silk to give it it's proper crisp edge.

But my goodness, what a good pattern and good fit.  Wonderful sizing options and I think it would look fantastic on many body types.  Raggaknits and the Knitting Iceland webzine, it is a hit!  

Friday, 27 August 2010

It is about to get cold

The forecast for the net few days is very cold.  There will likely be a frost, maybe not a killing frost, but there is going to be a frost.  I can feel it.  

And though I have the perfect sweater for this weather near completion, I must park it till next week.  I have a shawl that I'd like to send to Kiev next week when my son heads over.  

The problem is this is what it looks like today.  It is sitting here on a 2 foot square tile.  It needs to completely fill a 4 x 4 square of tiles.  I have a lot of knitting to do.  The good thing is I don't work till next week Wednesday.  

I figure if I go great guns today and tomorrow I will know.  If I am not past the half way point by the end of a good long day of knitting  tomorrow, there is no possible way I will get done.

(slip into the voice of an old timey soap opera announcer)   

Can she do it?  Will the shawl be complete?  Is there enough time?  Stayed tuned for the next installment of shawl knitting.

Update:  7:15 p.m.  Had a bugger of a day.  The weather change is making both my hands have 0 fingers and 6 thumbs.  Sigh.  I don't think I am going to make it.  I only got about an inch done.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

'Why? Because you must'

I get it.  I so get it.  
Felted Duck   Slippers

Without Ravelry...  

There is some yellow yarn in my stash.  And I have a brother...

Ravelry.  Some call it the great time suck.  I call it genius.  Why genius?  Because really, if I had not seen these, I'm quite sure, my life would not be complete.  

The quote in this blog title is from the movie 'Blast From the Past'

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Moments of a Handmade Life.

I have always enjoyed making things.  Some of my best moments, little inconsequential moments in a lifetime of ordinary me moments, are moments connected to things I have made.

I remember one particular doily, an unusual pattern, a standout really, that I gave to a friend for high school graduation.  (All of my friends got doilies.  I am such a geek). The pattern is long gone, but I remember exactly how it looked, crisp and blocked out just moments before I wrapped it up to give it away.   Of all the doilies I made, this one stays fresh in my mind.  (Slightly less fresh, is the memory of the look on my friends face when I gave it to her. 1976? teenage girl who was not me?  Doily?  Not cool.)  

I remember a dress I sewed, dark green, princess seams, with little hints of crisp white braid just a bit above the hems.  I remember standing in grandmas kitchen, taking off my coat and how one of my aunts could not hold back compliments on the fit and style of it.  She was not usually the effusive sort.  Still makes me smile.

I remember a blue scarf I crocheted for my mother in law and how the glittery little thing was something she remembered and wanted to wear even though she lost herself. 

As good as these moments make me feel, there is nothing quite like the moments when I first try on something I have knit to wear. Hope and terror. Pure hope.  Sheer, utter, terror.   That very short walk down the hall to a mirror takes an eon and every horrible thing that I could imagine is imagined.  Terror doesn't begin to cover it. 

The sweater was finally far enough along to try on yesterday afternoon. 

I worried that it was going to be too large.  It looked distressingly blousy and wide while I was knitting it.  It also looked stumpy and short.  And I worried that it would be too small. I worried so all the possibilities would be covered.

After Brenda's post yesterday, the part where she talked about row gauge and where the pattern would sit on ones bosoms...Row gauge?  Where will the pattern sit?  It never occurred to me to worry about that before.   So I did.      

No worries. It fits.

I still have some tweaking to o before I am done.  I need to knit for length and I need to knit some sort of edges and hems, but it will work.

I might not remember everything about this one sweater in the hazy far off future, but I will forever rejoice in and remember the way it feels the first time I see a handmade thing sitting on my shoulders.  

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

To the End

I have to confess.  I'm ready to be done with the colour work on this sweater.  The rose was starting to feel a little tedious.  I really wanted to get it done yesterday, but no go.  I went to bed with rows to do.  This morning I got up early and took it to the end.  

Icelandic roses have bloomed.

It is kind of a relief to be knitting with just one strand of yarn.  Faster for sure.  The rest will be plain knitting, though I am going to knit a couple rows with the dark gray, followed by the same number (maybe) of the soft brown.  

This plain section is going to have its own challenges. The bulk of the decreases happen right in there, and I don't want to get so caught up in knitting that I forget to knit 2 together when I am supposed to.  

It occurred to me late last evening, and early this morning is how much I am looking forward to this sweater being done. And it really has nothing to do with knitting.  

It went down to 7C last night, and 3C at the airport just outside the city proper.  

Yup, I am really looking forward to getting this sweater done.  Sweater weather is here.

Monday, 23 August 2010

How to fit it all in

I sometimes wonder how on earth I am going to fit all the things I want out of a day, into my day.  Today is an excellent example.

I need to clean my study.  I need to clean my laundry room.  I need to finish up all the laundry repair and fix a bunch of things to get ready for the fall.  I need to... Oh the heck with it.  The fact of the matter is that each of us has a list like this and most of us have to add 'got to get to work today' on top of that.  

But really I would rather sit and knit.  Honestly this sweater is hypnotic.  There have been a few minutes when I was panicking about whether it would fit.  I'm still worried, but right now I am having so much fun that it really doesn't matter if I have to redo it.  

Well, OK, it would matter if I would have to redo it.  It would suck, but if I had to, I would do it with an unusual amount of joy and pleasure.  The rhythm of colourwork is weaving its usual magic.   

The pattern is Freyja and I am deep into the colour work on the bodice of the sweater.  Aha, you say, Freyja has only the Icelandic roses on the bodice.  Well yes, but I have 3 colours of yarn, and I wanted to get them all in here.  Ah, you say, one yarn is gray and one is brown.  I know, but somehow it doesn't matter.  It looks exactly right in my eyes.  I love this yarn and love is blind. 

The stuff looked so pleasing on the shelf that I was sure there would be a way to use all three and add few extra touches of natural organic goodness.  There were 17 rows of plain knitting from the point the sleeves are joined before the roses rows, plenty of room to do just what I wanted.  I'm changing the collar, buttonband and bottom welts too, just to get a few more rows  of the colours in.     

Today I will watch Icelandic roses bloom, and if I am lucky the body will be more or less done and I will be able to try it on. 

And if I have a stiff upper lip and am stern  about my scheduled plans, the study will be tidied, the laundry will be done and the patching will be up to date too.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Air update

Much improved Air Quality locally, but there still is the pall of smoke hanging everywhere.  

I've been watching the air quality thing from BC, and boy oh boy, there are some places I am really glad I am not. 

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Local Smoke

We have been hearing over the last few weeks of devastating fires near Moscow and air quality so bad that many people are suffering and many have died.  I sorrow for them and I do wish for them a good rain to clean the air so they can breathe again.

Me too.  We have not had the sort of air quality that will kill, but seriously, it is not good.  I can feel it in my lungs, and my throat aches from breathing heavy smoky air.    Environment Canada is calling it Local Smoke.  

The Weather Network says our air quality is very poor and is filled with 'fine particulate matter'.  

And the Globe and Mail is talking about all of the alerts that are up about it.  

BC Air Quality has a really neat graphic showing what is going on.  It shows how Edmonton is not good, but then again, if you look for the purple places...well maybe I need to stop complaining.

There isn't a lot a person can do when the air is bad. You just sit back and don't do anything that causes you to breathe deeply.  About the only thing we can do is to hope for a little rain to clear our air too.  If you are reading this blog, and you live anywhere other than Alberta, if you could just see your way clear, to doing a little rain dance on our behalf.  And if you could do 2 for BC, I'd be grateful.  

And then really, while we are it it, if someone could figure out the how to get all the excess moisture from Pakistan...Sigh.  Prayer is probably a good idea.  
Meanwhile, I shall look at it all with a positive eye.  The sun glowed red all day and I will be waiting for the blood orange moon tonight.

"I flied?"

Pattern?  Eeek.  No pattern really for the Bluesey sweater, I winged it,  but I do believe , to quote Petrie from 'the Land before Time" ,  I flied.

I think it was happenstance and karma and one or two extraordinarily lucky choices that made it all come together so well. Lucky choice one is the yarn, Artesanal from Aslan Trends.  Lucky choice two, that I wasn't afraid to knit and reknit when I wasn't happy with something. 

I'm very glad I choose the simultaneous set in sleeves and that going with the much smaller needles to do the collar and front bands worked the first time. My favourite part and best lucky choice was that working off the live stitches on the back of the neck worked out so very very well.  

The basic sweater was knit to fit from Barbara Walker's Knitting From the Top Down, to fit my rather narrow shoulders and my not narrow hips. At the underarm, in my gauge (about 4.5 stitches to an inch, ) I knit to fit, with no ease, 44 inches.  With the button band, that gives a finished measurement of about 48 inches at the underarm.  It has two sets of short rows at the bust line. They are separated by 2 rows of plain knitting to fit my rather blousey frontage.  (This was the choice I made that I feared might make it fail.  I worried that there would be too much extra length in the front, but nope, worked well.)  Increases to accommodate the rather large hips happened at 5 row intervals at what would normally be the underarm seams.  No other shaping was done.  

Otherwise, it is a basic 3/4 sleeve v neck cardigan with a rather nifty front band.  The front band is picked up at a ratio of 3 stitches for every 4 rows on a 3.5 mm needle. Across the back of the neck I used the live stitches.   I picked up the row, purled back and then knit 1 more rows in stockinette.  Then I knit 5 rows of reverse stockinette (or maybe 6), 2 rows of stockinette, 5 or 6 rows of reverse stockinette, and finished off with 5 rows of stockinette and bound off on the purl side, to give the edge a nice roll. I think. 

The bands roots are in a common traditional gansey welting of narrow bands of stockinette interspersed by wider bands of reverse stockinette and knitting the number of rows that looked right.

If I had not done the knit to fit thing, but wanted the look, I would use a good fitting basic cardigan pattern, give it a soft v-neck, and knit the nifty front band following proportions rather than number of rows.    
I hope these notes make sense. But that is what I did.  I think.  Sort of.  

Tuesday, 17 August 2010


Verklempt.  I'll think of something to say tomorrow morning.

A Camping Pictorial

Going camping with family is a very special thing.  They have known me and put up with me from the first moment I breathed and they put up with me still.  That kind of acceptance is a rare and special thing.

And then you take out the cameras.  With a camera in your hand you are no longer just a sister, you are the enemy.

Family goes to all sorts of lengths to not appear in a photo, but if you are sneaky or persistent, someone will wrestle a photo out for you. Persistent with help above and sneaky below.

When you are among family, some things elevate to the level of  art.

Taking photos of people taking photos of each other and

the flash!

While we girls were busy doing this the guys had their own game.

and still more...

Checking out the layers of cloud.  The knowledge of how many layers of clouds we were under was of great value the entire weekend.  You don't know goofy till you have predicted the calling of *SUN* (think 'Squirrel' in the movie 'Up') and the entire crowd movs their chairs out into the sun for the 2 minutes it will shine before layer 4 creeps to block it.

And when it rained the girls found goofy games for us to play, or we just sat back and talked and told stories that were as old as we were.

When you are with family, the air is full of 'remember the time'.

There was cooking.

 There was a surfeit of food.  All of it excellent.

This was the between the meals table.  You really don't want to know what happened when there was a meal to be made.

And then, suddenly, it was time to pack up.  You know it is over when the tablecloths come off the tables.

And just like usual when we go family camping, somehow, even though you have eaten and stuffed yourself till you could not get one more tiny morsel into you, someone wants you to go home with more food then you came with.

No, this was not my corn.  I think Mom brought it. Well, she took it home anyway.  :)  You know how it is...

We were camping at Silver Lake in Saskatchewan, near the town of Maidstone.  They have a great private family group camping section and a wonderful roofed shelter.  Our weekend would not have been the same without that roof. Well worth the added cost.  

Monday, 16 August 2010

Because The Camera Is Still In The Van...

Back from camping and, yes the header is correct.  The camera is still outside and it is dark out there, so no photos of extreme camping yet.  Till then, because really, this just made my day...

and if you need a ittle more...

because...well darn it just because. THE best knitting video of all time.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Tool Storage

With this weeks sweater looking a lot like it did on Monday, 

 I needed a little diversion.  So on my morning errand run, I looked for something I have needed for a while.

I needed a different nedles case.  Badly.  I had one, a small one that came with my interchangeables, but I quickly found I don't like to operate with some needles here, some needles there.  I put all my needles into one case. This stressed the case when I could close it, and with the addition of a crop* of 16 inch long circs, meant it wasn't ever going to close again.  I needed something else.

I wanted to stay with a binder.  I like the tidy way they close up, and I wanted to stay with pockets for the needles, pockets with a good sturdy closing.  I wanted to re-use the interchangable pockets.  The little pages with two and three slots work so well for the tips. 

With all the kids school things out, fall going back to school time is the time to look for alternative ways of storing things.    I came away with a binder case with nifty handles for 20 bucks.  

 It came with organizer pages for people going back to school.   Scrap paper!  I left a little in it for those on the road occasions where a little paper can't hurt.

But then I needed to come up with a good way to store the non interchangeable needles.  What on earth was cheap and had a good closure?  Ziplocs!

But Ziplocs don't come in nice tidy sizes, and they are not going to take a lot of wear and tear when you put holes through the ends for a three ring binder.  I tried to layer up the considerable part of the bag that I would not need, but it was messy and took up a lot of space in the rings of the binder.  

I used a heavy duty double zipper freezer bag, the 26.8 x 27.3 size.  (a fantastic size for project and yarn bags)  I cut off 4 inches from the bottom of the bag, leaving a really nice page size.  Fits perfectly into the binder.  Then, to keep it all together, I closed the end off with a flexible clear packing tape. Once that was done, I rooted around till I found a nice piece of card stock.  I cut a narrow strip for reinforcment and popped it into the bag, punched holes through bag and reinforcing cardboard, and voila, good sturdy pockets, made for very little cost.

I made one pocket for each of my most commonly used sizes. All the needles lengths could go in one bag.  I used one for the really small needles, and one for needles above 6 millimeters.  

It fits them all and still closes!  Now when I want to take the whole case along, I can, knowing that they will stay tidy and safe in one place.

We are off this weekend for the grand family camp out.  My mom, dad, sisters and maybe even my brother and various and assorted kids will all be there.  But mostly, this weekend is a ' buffalo tea' weekend without the buffalo.  I'm still not strong enough for buffalo!

*gratuitous farming reference alert.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Filling Holes

At the start of my adult life, way back when, at the dawn of time, all I really wanted from life was a farm lifestyle.  I wanted to rise by the sun, and watch the skies for rain and know how much snow was falling, and be tied to the earth in the way that only a farmer can be.  

Mr. Needles and I did have the honour of doing it for a while, but with one thing and another (all connected to banks) we left the farm in the early 90's and moved on to a sound country lifestyle and a city job.  It wasn't the farm, but it was a great way to live and bring up a family.  

Like all times of life, some things work for a while, and then they don't.  My dissatisfaction with the city part of my life was fueled by too long of work hours, no space to breathe and feeling as if there was no way out of my middle management hell.  I did not thrive.  But I did discover knitting and knitting gave me the strength to change my life.  Once again, my life looks like the thing I planned for so long ago.

Mr Needles and I have just sent off the final part of our down payment for a piece of good farm land.  All the conditions are met, the financing is in place, the work, the investigations and the deal are done and sound. We take ownership at the end of August.  

We owned land before when we farmed.  We own 3 acres now, acres of forest, cool, shaded and ancient.   But there is something about having land this time around that feels different.  It feels like I am complete again, whole, when I did not even know a part of me was missing.  The holes feel like they have been filled.  Perhaps that feeling is no more than knowing next spring I will have a garden, knowing that I will plant fruit trees and potatoes and that I will feed myself instead of buying it from the store.  

There is a crop on it.  It is actively being farmed and we cannot disturb the crop till after harvest.  We cannot plan where the garden will be without talking to the farmer who currently rents it.  (We sure hope he wants to rent it again, or I will have a heep, a big, big heep of weeding to do next summer).  There is nothing I can do right now, till all the paperwork is final and it is completely ours.  

But there is something just a little more solid than a dream.  There is a plan I can make and there is a new, old way of life to look forward to.  It feels very, very good.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Mail Man

In my part of Alberta, we don't get mail delivery at our house, and we don't have delivery to a local post office.  We pick up our mail at a Superbox (are they still calling them that) just down the road.  Superboxes mean that packages up to a certain size can be picked up there too.  On parcel days they leave you a nice red key for one of the parcel compartments.

Yesterday I got a red key.  It was unexpected.  I mean, I knew I had a package coming, but this one came weeks faster than I expected.  It was lovely.

The red Icelandic lace is direct from the source via my friend who went to Iceland.  I picked up the cream to use along with it to make the Lilia Hyrna shawl.  

I had begun a Lilia Hyrna with a sport weight Shetland yarn.  I was in the process of taking it out because of one small mistake in each portion of the knitting.  I did not think it would make a difference to the rhythm of the pattern, but it did.   This was happening right when Frazzled Knitter gave me the magnificent Icelandic yarn the pattern was designed for so I decided to change course entirely.  My Lilia Hyrna will now be as it was meant to be.  

My package contained the nice creamy natural laceweight and several other things.   This was my first order from Schoolhouse and if I am going to order one thing, I might as well pick up a few other things. I bought a book and a few patterns.  

Getting things at the mailbox is fun. It makes me wish for the days when people wrote letters and every day you could have notes from friends in your mailbox.  Or is the want for that, just a holdover from reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society?  Still, it was a nice surprise to find waiting at the end of the street.  

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Darn it.

No, not socks, just time and life and all the things that get in the way of ones knitting.  (Most people would say that knitting gets in the way of life, but you an I know that knitting is life)  The sweater is not blocked, and the ends are not worked in and I am more than a little fed up with myself.  

What is the point of making a plan if I so blithely disregard it?  But I had many other things to do.   After a call to the shipping people, I found I could not reliably count on food products to get in to Ukraine, so I had to go replace the somethings with other things.  I spent the entire afternoon gallivanting around the city.  When I got home, I organized the packing, collected some photos, and knit a very wee bit.  

And then I picked up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I think it is even sweeter the second time around. This time I am seeing beyond the story to really hearing what they say about the writers.  I have this overwhelming urge to read Charles Lamb and Seneca and I feel more than a little bereft that we don't write letters like that anymore.  

We write emails for things like this and I don't know that anyone would think of taking a collection of emails and putting them in a virtual book.  They are such mundane little things, the bits and pieces we toss back and forth, but the quick conversations between Sidney and Juliet and she and Dawsey which are the real illumination.  

Somehow it is these small things, these mundane things that ring true.  It the small day to day acts that mean the most, that give the form and substance to the lives lived in this book. Perhaps that is why this book resonates so.  It is a mirror to a real life, it feels as if these folks live.  They are fictional characters but they come to life when you read this book.   Sigh.

I am going to get in some knitting time today.  This evening, I hope to knit at least several rounds on this new sweater, and I hope to find a few minutes to finish up the blue one.  Won't take long.  Just needs doing.   

Monday, 9 August 2010

Moving On

The gift things are done.  It will go out today.  (I hope) The Blue sweater is done but for closings, and weaving in the ends.  And blocking too.  But that is one of todays tasks.  

Yesterday I needed to knit and had nothing particularly important on the go, so I took out some yarns and started to swatch.  I finally set on one yarn, Sirdars lovely Eco Wool DK.  It is a lightly spun single with as little processing done to it as possible.  The light spin makes the fabric have an entirely different feel to it than anything I have used before.  

It is soft and lofty and even now, there is no doubt that the sweater it makes is going to be warm and deeply cosy for cold winter days. 

Once again, in the search for a pattern, my thoughts went to the many ways to knit a sweater.  When I look back on this year, it will be remembered for a devotion to learning different ways of making a sweater.  This sweater is pure Icelandic.  

The pattern, Freyja by Ragga Eriksdottir was one I came across after my friend Frazzled Knitter traveled to Iceland. (Check out her post from May 28, half way down the page.  Look for the sweetest little lamb photo)  Frazzeled Knitter told me about the Knitting Iceland website and thus, I found the pattern.  Kits for Freyja can be purchased starting this fall but the pattern is available now from the Knitting Iceland store.  Keep this place bookmarked.

My yarn is finer then the Lopi asked for in the pattern, but I am knitting a larger size to compensate.  The directions are a wee bit spare, without being spare at all.  The pattern says when to do things based on inches not rows, making it easy to adjust for a yarn change.  

I'm also going to adjust the shaping of the body of the sweater.  I'm skipping it entirely.  My decreases will make the silhouette slowly get narrower as it grows in length to the underarm.   

An Icelandic sweater is traditionally knit from the bottom to the sleeves, then the sleeves and body are knit together to make the circular yoke. I'm feeling just a wee bit tense because I cannot try it on as I go but at some point I have to learn to trust my gauge and my tape measure.     

It feels a little like knitting blind.  Or at least with thick dark glasses on.  Just so long as my hands are free to knit, I'll be fine.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Friday is for...

There has not been a lot of knitting this week.  I'm a little miffed about that.  I don't know what it is about summer evening breezes and soft summer mornings, but there just doesn't seem to be a lot of knitting around here.  

Or maybe it is the lack of focus on getting one thing done!    

Actually I am distracted by other things in life.  I am trying to send a package to my daughter in law, and have been trying to find things that are distinctly Canadian.  And things that say how much we miss her and can't wait till she gets here.  

But like all things Canadian, it is a little hard to say what is distinctly Canadian beyond the coffee and the beer.  I can't show them to you because I want it to be a surprise and she might check out this blog. So suffice it to say I am mired in all things Canadian.  

When I am mired, in order to keep sane, I listen to distracting music. Usually there are no words, no singing.  It is easer to mired when there are no words in the music to muddy things up.  So that is about all I have for you today.  I love this particular soft section of Handel's Water Music and this particular performance.  

Close your eyes and listen.  It soothes away all the busy uncaring minutes of the day and then more brightly and determined, sets you on your way.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

I didn't mean to do it.

Somewhere along the line, I developed a sense for cheap, a desire for a really good buy.  Man oh man do I love it when things feel like a bargain.  Even better is when they really are!  

But up until now, yarn accidents were a thing I read about in a book (Yarn Harlot Casts Off) and could giggle about and joke with my friends about.  Till now.

I have been playing the bag sales from Elann.com.  There just are some things they carry that have been exceptional deals, and there are often yarns that just are not available at the store.   If I tried, I could absolutely beat the quality of these yarns at work, but not even a really good employee program could beat the bag sale prices. 

So I admit it.  I scored a few bags, particularly a wool cotton blend from South Africa.  It really is a decent yarn and a blend that will work for me.  

There was one colour I **needed** and in a weak moment, under just a touch of duress from things not knitting, I caved.  I bought the red wool and cotton blend - 2 bags - even though I already have a nice yellow and a soft lichen green in the same yarn.  I went ahead and bought the red.  It's nice, and I completely understand why I have it in my hot little hands.  

What I don't get is why I have 2 bags of a deep royal purple 100% bamboo that knits to 28 stitches and 32 rows on a 3.00 mm needle.  I really have no idea what I was thinking.  I do have a vague memory of ordering it.  I know that I paid for it (I checked)  

I must have had at least an idea of what I was going to do with it.  I almost always do have at least a notion of what it will be.  I will know if I am buying for a sweater, or a wrap, or a mitten and hat. I don't really become interested in a yarn till I know what I would do with it.  Sometimes it happens fast, and sometimes it is a very slow process that starts with a 'gee, I like that yarn'.   The only time I have bought just to have some, was some Fleece Artist that was just too pretty to pass up.  But I remember every wonderful moment of buying that.   

But these 20 ball (20 balls) of deep Iris purple?  I have absolutely no idea.  A fingering weight gauge?  Whillickers.  And Bamboo?   Don't I already have 20 balls of a delicate blue Rowan Bamboo Tape in the stash for all my bamboo knitting needs?

I could return it I suppose.  Technically.  It would not be at all like me to do that, not with yarn, and well, there is this other thing.   

It's...ummm...it's bamboo. It's soft.  And yummy.  And it is here.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ruffly good

This is the wee scarf that I have been distracted by.  I would have liked to make the shawl length, but it would have taken 7 skeins of yarn, and 7 just was not in my budget right now.

The scarf version took 3 skeins and a weekend to knit.  The yarn is Diamond Yarns Mulberry and Merino, a truly lovely silk and wool blend.  It is a softly spun single that glows as if it had a source of light on the inside. 

 I dream of an enveloping huge Shawl That Jazz out of this stuff, or a  nice comfy cardigan with a deep collar to hide in on chilly days.  Sigh.  To dream.  At least I have the scarf.

As I said I am conflicted.  I bought this pattern.  I like it a lot.  BUT
it is awfully, and I do mean awfully close to Laura Chau's Just Enough Ruffles.  

That is one of the things that Ravelry really reveals.  The nature of creativity seems to be if one person has a great idea, shortly there will follow several absolutely independently arrived at projects.  Sometimes they are so similar as to make you wonder about influences that bring up these good ideas at almost the same time.  

And sometimes, it makes you wonder where the line ought to be between what is a pattern someone can claim as theirs and what could be sorted out by every knitter. What makes a design a design? 

Brooklyn Tweed and his Noro Scarf .   On the Ravelry pattern page, he says quite plainly, 

"First off, this is not MY pattern. It’s been done time and time again. I’ve written up how I did MY version on my blog (follow the link below), but I’m not claiming to have designed this.  

I was urged to list it under my designs for the sake of "Queuing" on Ravelry. " 

I like that he says this up front.  Almost too universal for a pattern, but it was his idea to do it out of these two yarns and he was inspired to do it at the right place in time.  He does not claim it as a pattern, but in my opinion it is his and I do attribute my making some to him.  (I knit 2 for the donation bin)  This pattern is free.

Another one.  The Easy Drop Stitch Scarf Same thing.  The designer is very willing to say this was based on a stitch pattern.  That is the first thing she will tell you about it, but it was her idea to put it into a scarf, and it was her idea to do it in a yarn that inspires so many people.  It also seems to have influenced a host of other drop stitch designs.  This pattern is also free, though there is a fee for commercial use if you wish to sell scarves you make. It is more a way for the Frazzled Knitter to track who is using it commercially than anything else. And Christine is having a lot of fun watching people knit and enjoy something she sat down and did one day. (so am I.   I live vicariously through smart people!)  

So if I can sit down, figure it out and do it all by myself should I?  I don't think so.  Not without attributing it to the original person who came up with the bright idea to use 2 colours of Noro, to use a drop stitch pattern, or to put ruffles on one edge and to size it to a scarf.  Not by me.  

But how do I deal with something like this scarf pattern? Where a commercial company is cutting so close to the design that if it was me doing it, I would have to acknowledge the original and keep it free?  This pattern is dirt cheap, by the way.  At wholesale prices, just barely enough to cover the cost of printing.  They are not going to make money on it, that is for sure.  But does that make it really right?  

I don't know, and maybe it doesn't matter.  Were it not for Ravelry, I'd be sitting there assuming this was the only one of its kind, thinking what geniuses they were for figuring it out. I'd still buy the pattern and I would still use this yarn, and I would still love it.  Of that I am certain. But I am sure conflicted about patterns like these.

And just FYI, and overview of the way things are here in Canada  .

**  I'm sleepy.  If there are errors...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Weekend stuff

A long weekend ought to have certain things to make it perfect.

Good weather? Check

Good food? Check

Good company?  Check

Good knitting?  Check

All of these things came to be, and it was perfect. Even the knitting. 

I knit a wee scarf this weekend.  I'll show you that tomorrow.  I have to think about it a little.  I have some conflicted feelings about it.

I knit on the Satsuma Monkey Socks.  So close yet so far away.  I will finish these up this week.

And I knit on the blue sweater.  I almost had the 'button band' (in quotation marks because there will be no buttons) done and then decided that it could be better.  So I pulled that apart and made it better.

See?  Better.  Originally it started with reverse garter stitch right up against the fabric of the sweater front.  It lacked definition.  The band came off, and was reknit with stockinette first, then a band of reverse stockinette.  There will be another repeat of this and it will be finished off with a stockinette band which will roll most pleasingly.  I hope.