Monday, 28 February 2011

Its the little things

A while ago, I managed to get hold of a copy of Jan Messent's Knitted Gardens.  A short time after that, I came across a long hoped for copy of Embroidered Knot Gardens by Owen Davies.

And last week I happened across this little gem.  The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard.
  You can see I have an interest in the wee and small.  
The book is filled with seriously cute things and for 10 bucks, a real gem. Its not a big book, but rather a cute book.
These would be great toys for older children, but mostly I am interested in them for me.  

But I am not the only one.  Check out the Knitted Village of Mersham

Friday, 25 February 2011

Living Vicariously

I played around looking in magazines all morning, and reknit my wee bits on the sweater and then I went adventuring.

I went to Sweden... in a knitterly way.  

My bosses went to the recent Vogue Knitting event in New York, and one of them took a tvandstikkning class.  She is preparing to teach the technique here at home and needed some guinea pigs.  I of course, was a willing subject.

My class project was just a simple little cuff, cast off that evening.  I wanted to reinforce the technique in my mind before I lose it, so I dug in the leftover bin for some yarn and away I went.  

I simply cast on, and knit a few rows, did a braid, knit a few rows, then switched out the cream coloured yarn and knit with the other yarn I had. This main yarn is Drops Big Fabel.  

Tvandstikkining is a technique that must be done with the yarn managed by the right hand.  My usual technique is continental or left handed so I am painfully slow and all this right hand yarn management is hard on my arm.  

By happy chance, the colours of the Big Fabel are turning out so right.  Dark in one column, brighter in another.  When the colour changes in one strand, the change in the other strand works out equally well.  The picture is nice, but the periwinkle and green combination of the yarn just does not show up so clear and crisp as in front of me.

I did not intend to knit a tea cozy for my Tim's Teapot, but it fits.  When I am done, I will steek for spout and handle. In the mean time I will 'tvandstik' my heart out.  I shall visit Sweden vicariously.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Running late

A few weeks ago I ordered a few things from Interweave online.  

A spinning video for download, now downloaded but not watched and  the 2 available collections of past issues of Piecework Magazine. (There is an additional one out now.  2004-2005)
The cds arrived yesterday.  

Oh my.  I have loved Piecework most, of all the magazines I have come into contact with on my journey into knitting.  It connects me with all those things I have done, the embroidery (on a huge scale), the quilting (though not on a huge scale), the crocheting (huge) and connects me with where I have yet to go.

And my spring seed order arrived.  It is currently a rather uninspiring little pile of seed packets in plain brown wrap (oh yes, I love the irony), but within them each seed is a tiny pocket of life and hope and things yet to come. They fill me with joy.

I intend to waffle my day away looking at these things.  But I will also be reknitting the neck of the wee gansey.  The neck looks like you could drive a train through it.

Hmmm, in the picture it doesn't look so bad.  But in front of me?  Ok maybe not a train but surely a fleet of matchbox cars.  

Maybe I will block it first.   

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Knitting a porcupine

Sometimes when you knit, it looks like there is a porcupine in your hands.  

This is particularly true if you are, like me, a lover of dpns over circulars,  and if you are knitting something with a small circumference with standard 7 to 8 inch needles.  Porcupine or no, knitting circular on double points gives me pleasure.  

This is another wee gansey I am knitting for the store to help support the classes I teach.  With 2 stores, its kind of nice to have 2 samples.  I've been dawdling on this sample all fall, trying to fit it in, but as a hand stress relief from the cotton, it was just right.  

I knit (and reknit) one of the body sections and now am moving along quite pleasantly on the sleeves.  Another inch or two and on to the other sleeve. With only a collar and ends to weave in, I aim to have it done this evening.  

When the cotton top is done, and when I have finished another project from the WIP bucket, then it will be time to knit myself a nice gansey.  Gansey modern though.  Its going to have to have some a-line or other shaping in it for fit.  

I have a plan, I just need the time.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I should be...

doing something responsible, but right now, I am sitting at the dining room table, the sun is shining in, warm on my back and I am looking at gardening things online.  I would considering making a cup of tea except it would mean I would have to be out of this delicious sunshine. 

What a lovely afternoon even if I am not knitting. 

Taking the edge off

Mr. Needles left early yesterday morning on a short trip to the land of golf.  Usually, I see this as a wonderful excuse to just knit and knit and knit.  PB and J for dinner!

And it is a wonderful excuse but for one small thing.  I am knitting on cotton, and with all the hours I knit Sunday and yesterday, my hands ache.    My hands ache.  And my wrists.  And a wee bit up my arm. The weather is probably contributing too, but there it is. 

I ended up having to redo a huge section of the blue cotton top I am working on.  I was dividing for waist and back shaping and realized I was 4 stitches short on one side.  The problem went back to an armhole increase and it was stitches I needed. So, rip.  It seems there were a lot of us doing this the last few days.  I managed to get right back to where I started the day, which in this instance is a complete victory.

I also finished the missing heel on that sock and worked a lot on my February socks.  I'll be working on those in order to finish them before the end of the month.  Funny how February just got lost along the way as far as the socks were concerned.  

It is these socks that I will probably knit today.  With luck to finish, or at least get in the ball park, but there will be sock knitting. OK, finishing would be too much.  

I'll do just enough to get my hands loose and easy again.  Just enough to keep my hands from feeling lost and alone without yarn in them.   Just enough to take the edge off.  

Monday, 21 February 2011

A station break

The TV announcers used to always cut into programs and announce 'we now pause for station identification'.  (Now they just identify their station in the form of advertising.)  

 There are a dozen things I ought to be knitting, like sock heels
 and warm lichen sweaters
 and long forgotten lace.
I did give myself permission to take a 'station break' and knit something new, so I am.
It might not look like a lot yet, but it will.  

Friday, 18 February 2011

Just sayin...



After one false start I did finally settle on a tank.  Maybe.  This is a sound basic pattern that could be converted to an anything else without a lot of work.  

I settled on that good old summer standby, Butterfly Super 10, in a deep warm rich lapis lazuli colour.  

I love knitting cotton.  It feels so good in my hands. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't feel this way if I was not so comfortable with all those years of crochet in my history.  Wool is good, but ah cotton feels like coming home.  (I'm pretty sure I have said this before)  

And those socks.  I'm midst putting heels on as I write this, and they will be completely done by the end of the day.  I suspect I will wear them tomorrow.

Have a lovely Friday.  I intend too.  Saturday I work and then am taking a tvandstickkning class.  I'm looking forward to it, but I expect trouble.  It means I have to knit with my other hand again, IIRC.   A little bit of trouble is good for the brain.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

From Genius to Regular

After spending days with the biography of Einstein, and contemplating grand things, I back to the far more regular things that I know so well.  

I finished another pair of socks last night. Finished but for heels.  I will do the heels this morning but they are pretty much done. (Photos another day) This was the last of the 4 pairs hanging out in my WIP pile that I wanted to clear up before the end of the year.  

I'm working through my list of WIPs that I wanted done but it is taking up all my knitting time.  It feels good to finish stuff up, to start to feel like I am making headway in the mess. It is a load off my mind.

Because I am doing so well, I have given myself permission to start one new thing.  I'd like a summer top, a polo t shirt type top.  Or maybe a tank.  I don't know, but it is time to do a little knitting I can wear for summer.  

Looking at summer yarns means digging into a different part of the stash.  The cotton and other summery light yarns hide at my feet, behind my desk on the big bookcase under the window.  When I take them out, just like when I take out the wools, it fills up the floor.   

I am telling you this just in case you don't hear from me for a day or so.  If you don't hear from me, likely you will find me at the bottom of a pile of yarns.  

Please dig me out.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's  monumental biography of Einstein.  OK, I didn't read it.  I listened to it while knitting.  While I don't really care for fiction delivered by audio, it wonderful for all the rest of the things I want to read.

In a book filled with marvelous insights, I give you this.  

"Music continued to beguile Einstein.  It was not so much an escape, as it was a connection to the harmony underlying the universe, to the creative genius of the great composers and to other people who felt comfortable bonding with more than just words.  He was awed both in music and in physics,  by the beauty of harmonies."

"What Einstein appreciated in Mozart and Bach was the clear architectural structure that made their music seem deterministic and, like his own favourite scientific theories, plucked from the universe rather than composed.  'Beethoven created his music', Einstein once said, 'but Mozart's music is so pure it seems to have been ever present in the universe.'  He contrasted Beethoven and Bach, 'I feel uncomfortable listening to Beethoven.  I think he is too personal, almost naked.  Give me Bach and then more Bach.'  He also admired Schubert for his superlative ability to express emotions, but in a questionnaire he once filled out, he was critical about other composers in ways that reflected his scientific sentiments.  Handel had a certain shallowness.  Mendelssohn displayed considerable talent but an indefinable lack of depth that often leads to banality.  Wagner had a lack of architectural structure I see as decadence and Strauss was gifted but without inner truth." ( from Einstein:  His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacoson)

Sigh.  I think Einstein would have understood my feelings about  knitting lace.  It is the harmony of the thing.  Knitting lace feels like music.

Bach - Bwv1068 Orchestral Suite - 02 - Air

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

True Romance

Here at Chez Needles, we are a pretty pragmatic bunch.  No flowers.  No candy.  No fluff.  Besides, Mr. Needles curled last night and I stopped to see one of my boys.  (Whom are no longer boys, but men.)

We had a lovely dinner together on Sunday evening, and last night, we promised each other that we would never ever make the other watch the Beieber movie.  

Silliness and laughter.  True Romance.    

Monday, 14 February 2011

Other things

Since finishing the shawl, I've moved along to things.  I am amazed, shocked, even, that they are not new things, that they are things already on the needles, even though I gave myself permission to start something completely new.   It seems I like my stash and I really like the things I put on the needles around the holidays.

I have been working on the Seaglass vest 
in that rich warm lichen green from Cascade 220 (it could be Yakima Heather instead of lichen)  It looked like this a few weeks ago and

 it looks exactly the same now, just  a little longer. 

The pattern is from the Summer 2010 issue of Knitter's magazine.  I have not knit from Knitters much, and though there is every possibility that the problems I am having with the pattern are because I am knitting fronts and backs together, rather than flat as they do, but this is a pretty awkwardly written pattern.  

Or it could be that I have had to do a little bit of gozinta-ing to the bottom so that it sits nicely on me when done. 

Or it could be that it needed to be a lot longer...
Or it could be that I am just not that great at reading patterns...

But man, this is an awkwardly written pattern.   Awkward, not bad. Just something awkward about it.

Still, I am getting there.  It is looking like it should.  I think.  I'm just at the point where I have to do the underarm decreases, at the same time as I am decreasing and moving the pattern along at the neckline. (Makes no sense, but you will see what I mean when it is done)  I ought to have more to show you on Wednesday.  I'm kind of hoping to be done by Wednesday.

Might be overly optimistic.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Purple Haze!

Done and done again.  

With not a lot to spare.  This is all that is left of the Zauberball, and I have enough of the colrain lace to do a nice little scarf sometime.  There was plenty of yarn to do much more, but this shawl was getting large enough.  Too big and a shawl gets hard to wear to work.

I ended it as I planned in the beginning.  

Just a simple little garter stitch edge in some black I had reserved from the Zauberball.   

But I think I am really going to enjoy this one.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Oh Canada

I was born here to some people who were born here, whose parents were born in the US.  When you are born in a place like Canada, you seldom think about why others would like to come here.  

Yes I know it is a good place to be, but I really don't spend a lot of time thinking about it or about what it means to be Canadian.  

Today I would like to welcome someone who did spend a lot of time thinking about about Canada and what it means to be Canadian.  Dear Allison, new Canadian, welcome.  We are lucky to have you.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Big Picture

As most of you have noticed, I am now using big pictures on the blog, but sometimes the big picture shows more than I really want to know.  Seriously, I could cry.  

Second repeat?  I missed a couple rows.  

Do I care?  Yes.  

Am I going to do anything about it?  NO.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011


I ended up knitting on the purple shawl.  The Shetland will wait for Thursday. I did it because I think I found a way to finish it up without knitting endless rows of the same design and I found a way to keep the simple edge I planned for.  

The lace design, with its triangles and its switching between lace and solid, is perfect for simply switching out to all lace.  

So that is what I am going to do.  I will knit this little variation on bud lace for about the same length as the original designs 3 repeats and call it good.  The bud lace is fast knitting.  I really do hope to be done by Friday a.m.  

It was a good plan for a full day.  I think I do better and get more done when I lay out a specific plan of things to accomplish.  There is something about lists and being able to stroke off the tasks as they are done. ( I might need to adopt this for all my knitting too) Most of the housecleaning is done, though the 2 rows of knitting did not work at all. Three or four rows of knitting and a cup of tea fits together just right.

A little knitting happened on a much ignored green sweater/vest that was taking up space on the dining room table too.  It was nice to do a little of it, with its seed stitch and ribbing.  I haven't worked on that since early in January.  If all I did was work on it while waiting for stuff in the kitchen, it won't be long before that one is done too.

After what feels like a very long time between big finishes, I can see     the end of three different large projects, Shetland, Purple and green.  

I can see the end, but for 2 of these projects, it is the long view.  Might be long, but it is in view.  I'm good with that.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Work or play? Shetland or Purple?

So today I have a hundred and one tasks to do.  I have a mountain of laundry to fold and more to wash.  I have bathrooms to clean, and even I can see the state of my kitchen.

And yet the only question I have this morning is Shetland or Purple?  Which one should I work on today?

All things in good time.  I am hitting some of the housekeeping first, before I let myself touch any needles.  Bathrooms first.  Then I will knit, but only two rows and a cup of tea.  Then I will hit the laundry, clearing the backlog of things to put away.  Then I will knit 4 rows and drink two cups of tea.  That should take me to lunch when I will hit the kitchen.  After the kitchen, I will knit just a little more and drink more tea.  

This afternoon there are some farming matters to take care of.  We'll call it varietal research.  It sounds better than just looking at gardening catalogues.  When I am done with the gardening decisions, I hope that the waning afternoon finds time for a couple more rows and maybe another cup of tea.  

Its a good plan.  The weakness in the plan is that there is knitting in there all over the place, and in the face of all that knitting, I am weak.  2 rows often will begat 3 rows even after the tea is gone.  The weakness in the plan is me.

Because all I can think about is Shetland or Purple?  Which project shall I knit on?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Weekend knitting

I love the weekends for how much knitting I can get done and how little anyone expects me to do besides knitting! 

I started the day at 1 repeat and 1 row done.  At the end of the day I am half done the last of my planned 3 repeats before it simple crocheted edging. 

Planned for is the operative phrase.  Now that I have some of the lace knit, I know that 3 is not enough.  This is a rather compact lace.  Though it is a goodly number of rows, it isn't a holey lace.  It isn't something will open significantly on blocking.  3 repeats are out of scale.  I am going to aim for 5 repeats, and may have to go to 7 repeats to get the right scale, the right proportion that this project seems to be demanding.  

Luckily I have a lot of the plum lace and I have an optional black yarn that could be used for the bind off, should there not be enough of the reserved Zauberball black.  

This is such an interesting adventure.   I'm just knitting and letting it happen.  There just a vague notion of where it is going.  I only know that the project and I walk side by side for a time and we will get to wherever we are going together.  

Getting there is going to take some time though.  Each repeat of the lace  adds 1 triangle section plus one stitch to each side of the shawl, plus two triangles at the centre.  Each section is 18 stitches so 18 x ... it doesn't bear thinking about.

I think it is safer to ponder it its rich delights.  

The lace is delightfully simple and hypnotic.  And purple.  Very very purple.

Friday, 4 February 2011


 Morning finds me with enough gumption to knit only on socks.  Its a good thing this pair just needed a toe.  I think I can do a toe.

This is day 2 3/4 since coffee.   Almost surreal how icky I feel.  I keep thinking it is a good thing I wasn't doing this at a time in my life when I drank lots of coffee.   

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Conquering coffee

I am trying to conquer coffee.  

Don't get me wrong.  I love my coffee.  I love the idea of coffee.  It is the beverage I sip in the morning to wake up.  It is the break in my workday.  Coffee is my fallback position for thinking and figuring out.
But coffee loves me slightly less than I love it.  When I worked in an office, I drank a lot of coffee, a healthy pot a day. When I first left the office, I my first job, every morning, work day or not was to make a pot of coffee and have a couple of cups before anything could happen.  

These days, I'm just thirsty in the mornings.  Somewhere along the line, I don't need the jumpstart coffee gives.  I no longer make a pot on work days. I have a cup when I get to work and that is it.  On heavy coffee days, I have a cup at lunch.  On days off, I do make a pot, but I drink a half a cup and the rest gets cold.    This is repeated till the pot is gone, but I cannot remember when I made a second pot in a day.  Sundays I do, but then Sunday I am not the only person drinking the coffee.  

Because of my slowly decreasing coffee consumption, I am having few withdrawal symptoms.  Thats my story and I am sticking to it.  


However, none of this is what I needed to ask the world this morning.  No.  This morning this blog is asking another one of the big questions.  We ask so you don't have to.  

I am sipping Bengal Spice Tea, a lovely sweet confection (confection because it really is sweet tasting without any real amount of calories)  The box says it is made of many things, most of which are ' natural flavours of '.  

So world, just what is a natural flavour of vanilla if not vanilla?  What is a natural flavour of cinnamon? It isn't the flavour part that I question.  It is the natural part.   How does it get to be a natural flavour of a thing if it is not actual natural vanilla? 

Does natural flavour of mean it tastes like the natural flavour of real vanilla but it has no connection to natural at all?  Ambiguous food labeling is contrary to the clarity the label is supposed to provide. 


I don't mean to cut coffee out.  I just mean to put coffee in its proper place right beside tea. I want these things to be drinks to relax by, not the things that drive my day.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Ever have trouble making yourself clear?  I do.  All the time.  I know that I don't think the way the average person does.  My brain is just not organized that way.

I once read a description of how people who have true ADD think versus how an average person thinks.  An ADDer interprets everything as ripples on a pond, and sees points all around, an endless an ever widening range of points that need to be considered.     A average brain (if there is such a thing) sees a far more linear path.  

I have never been diagnosed, but oh boy, oh boy do I wonder.  I think in ripples on the pond. Sometimes it is a sad and lonely place to be.  

To make myself clear, I have to write. And so this morning, I write. I will take pictures.  I will make myself clear. I am pretty sure that I am not wrong in this.  I just know that trusting my instinct has carried me further than questioning it.  

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A state of Interesting

I was sitting here hoping to write something smart and clever, but I was having trouble coming up with anything. I really wanted to just settle down and ignore the blog for a while, and  sit back and knit on my purpley shawl.   

I paused my deliberations to take a photo of the border and right there in the middle of a row, 40 dropped stitches.   

EEEP.  It is a simple lace, but suddenly my morning just got a whole lot more interesting.  And I really have to go now.  I have a problem to fix, a few rows to go back so I can be certain I've got the lace saved properly.  The holes need to be in the right place.  

Sigh.   I still don't have anything to say, but if you could all just think good thought for my lace, I'd be grateful.

For anyone wondering where I got the savvy new bead storage, it was in the clearance aisle just after Christmas at a local drugstore.  The tubes were filled with spices so they might be available at kitchen stores (though at kitchen places, with their greater cost), I hope the tubes would be made of glass. I paid only 9 dollars for each set and have to wonder if things like this might best be found at places like Winners, Walmart, a dollar store.  All the looks but not the cost of a kitchen place!