Friday, 29 November 2013

Hunting for the right pattern

I spent my downtime or rather, my not knitting time the last few days working on finding a pattern for the wrap.  There are some out there that I love, but that are not quite what was ordered.  I am having a real bugger of a time finding a basic rectangle that I like and that will look good in the yarn I have. 

I think today might be the day to change the plan.  I think I will check out shawls like Mara or maybe this cool thing.  Anyway, I am going to check out the ones that might work and still have broad ends to cover your arms with, but have a little bit of shape and form.  So many more patterns out there if you include a little bit of shape.

I have also broken out the stitch dictionaries and the lace books.  Surely somewhere in all this, there is a pattern that will give me what I need and my daughter  what she wants.

And that is something not too warm and not to heavy but that will wrap around her like a hug and a snuggle when she needs it.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

After Sports, Knitting!

After the sports rant, the world has corrected itself with copious amounts of knitting.  And that is a very good thing.

First off, did I mention how much I love working with Alpaca? Even if it shows off that I really can't knit worth a darn, I just love using it.

All that wibbly wobbly messy knitting will just relax out once I block it, right?  (hopeful knitter voice counting on the fact that this is alpaca yarn and has no memory) 

I am also at the nicest stage of any knit from the top down project.  the underarms are joined and the sleeve stitches are on holders.  I like this part because it feels as if you once again return to the land of speed knitters!  Sleeves take up a huge number of stitches and for a little while, knitting is going to go very fast.  Shortly there will be a bustline increases, and then as I work my way down, the pockets and stitches added to give the lovely soft drape this tunic has, will make rounds long again but this is not a bad thing.  Long means the end is nigh.  

We tried it on last night for fit and it is perfect.  I am using the numbers for the extra small size.  I am enjoying knitting from that side of the brackets for a change.   ;)  

The colour is exactly right.  The needles are right.  The pattern is right.  The knitting is mostly right.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Something that bothers me.

This is not a post about knitting.  This is a post about one of those things.

 In small town Saskatchewan, the day after the wedding is gift opening day and was usually open to all.  Because Mr. Needles and I both came from that same small town and because we both had huge families, my mom booked the hall.  This wouldn't normally be a thing to comment on, unless you loved football.  You see, the day after my wedding, back in 1979, just happened to be Grey Cup Sunday.  

Our home was just across the alley and through a friends yard from the hall, so some ardent football fan decided that they should bring our TV to the hall.  The girls did gifts and the guys watched football, drank leftover beer and ate leftover small town wedding food.  From what I recall of the noise from that corner of the hall, they had a wonderful time.  I have no idea who won, and though I could Google it, I am not going to.  Some things are better left the mystery they have always been.

It isn't that I am an ardent football fan, though I do enjoy a game now and then.  It isn't that Mr. Needles was an ardent football fan.  He enjoyed it, but it did not rule his Sundays.  But Grey Cup has always been intimately connected to our anniversary and I have watched part of almost every game since 1980.  

This year, with the exorbitant cost, decreasing entertainment value, newly limited budgets, and satellite TV turned off,  for the first time in 34 years, I could not watch the game. No one with access only to over the air TV can and I find that sad.

Yesterday morning, the big news here in Canada was that the NHL sold the rights to hockey broadcasting in Canada to Rogers.  CBC can broadcast Saturday night only via a side deal with Rogers and the deal is only 4 years long. Net result, no one with only over the air TV will be able to watch hockey.

Coming from Saskatchewan, I know the positive power of bringing people together through sports.  The Riders and Rider Pride and Rider nation are a phenomenon to be reckoned with.  That happens with access and time and football being part of something shared across the whole, shared freely and openly no matter who or what you are. Everybody could be a Rider fan.  You could be on a beach in Mexico or a plane in the US and see a Rider hat an you knew there was a connection.

Everybody can still be a Rider fan...if they have enough money for the TV channel.  Everybody can be a hockey fan...if they have enough money for the TV channel.

It isn't that professional and near professional sports are hugely important to me at all.  It is that I think we, as a whole are losing something, a fragile ethereal connection.  It was something good that came from technology and we are tossing the good and keeping the technology... but only if you have money. 

And that is what bugs me.

(sheesh, a sports blog.  What in the world is this blog coming to?)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Well that was interesting

Our household was hit by a bit of a flu bug. With any luck at all, it will do itself in, in a day.  I did my usual version of the flu and considering my usual left me ambulatory, I played with Sweet Thing most of the day.  Mommy was in no shape to stand let alone sit, and by lunchtime, she cried 'uncle' and went to bed.

My knitting benefited from all this, as other than throwing a ball and playing peekaboo and chase with my wee one, I spent my time watching the fascinating play of a one year old with a kitty and knitting..  You should try this sometime.  Seriously fun. 

Today, I have a few errands, and maybe knitting group, depending on how mommy is feeling (I am right as rain), and one serious task that I am determined to complete today.

It is time to start on daughter 3's shawl.  I have 7 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Curiosity, a lovely soft lavender gray (or is a a gray lavender?) and all I need is a pattern.  Anybody who has spent time among the shawl search on Ravelry knows this is an epic task.  7 skeins is a lot of yarn for a wrap, but it gives me lots of choices and allows plenty of scope to suit the nature of a simple rectangular shawl.  If you intend to knit a warm shawl in a rectangle, wide enough for good back coverage, and long enough to toss securely over your shoulders, so that the ends stay put, you need a lot of yarn.   By request that is what this is going to be.  Now just to find the pattern.

If I don't come out for a day or two, you will know that I got stuck in the search.  Save me!

Monday, 25 November 2013

And Now for Something Completely

Green.  Bet you thought I was going to say 'Different'.  That would have been plagiarism!

I completed my sweater on the weekend.  It was a 16 day sweater, and had I gone to a sleeve version, it would have been more.  As it is, the sleeveless version sort of fills a hole in my wardrobe right now that needs to be filled.  Sleeveless it is and I love it.  It needs blocking and the very few ends weaving it and some toggle buttons but none of that takes much time at all, not even blocking.  Winter blocking with a furnace running?  Piece of cake.  Finishing left my fingers open to new old challenges.  

I picked up this again.

This being my version of Vera Valimaki's Still Light tunic.  I know I have knit on it a bit on the past few months because it was out here is my day to day work basket rather than in the depths of the WIP basket where it has resided for a while.  I don't know when, but I know it wasn't much.  It was, for certain before I went into sweater mode. Sweater mode tends to wipe all other knitting out of my head.  Not that that is a bad thing.

I do love knitting this finer weight.  After the density of the sweater fabric, my hands are really appreciating the airy lightness of this tunic.

And the colour?  Oh my the colour of this yarn (Drops Alpaca). This colour really is the perfect morning knitting colour.  Just like the lush yellow and crisp white of my study gives me energy first thing in the morning, so too, does this crisp brilliant cadence of greens. A cadence because a green like this surely can best be described by this definition, 'a progression of chords moving to a harmonic close, point of rest, or sense of resolution'.

Knitting with it feels just like this.
Harmony, air, light, music. Things to be treasured and savored.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another quiet day

My day started really early yesterday with my Sweet Thing.  I think Mommie needed a break and just slept through my little ones cries, and Sweet Thing needed some company, so my Sweet Thing and I sat and watched a Dora episode and had some juice and then when all was well, she was happy to go back to bed.  She ended up sleeping late and that was just fine after her long day the day before.  Doctor days are such trauma for her.  All those strange people in white coats...

Anyway, it ended up that I did almost no knitting.  Everytime I sat down, I dozed off.  Today my goal is to fix Paulett's scarf.  

Last spring when I finished it, we put a tiny row of very light buttons along the back so that if she wanted to wear it like a hood, she could.
I know that as i sewed them on, I tried to be very careful that I caught enough of the thread below to be stable and support the closed button.  It appears that I did not do a very good job, so I am going back to the drawing board and am going to reinforce the buttons with regular thread and then will tie the pretty looking short strand of yarn.

Its is a back to the drawing board sort of day.

Plus today my daughter 1 is taking her driving test.  It is expected to be snowing on top of the snow we received earlier this week.  She does well in the snow and has taken the test once before so we are confident that she will pass and will then have her own wheels.  Wish her luck and mojo!

PS.  she passed!  Good job mommie!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Happy Feet Me

I finished one of a pair yesterday.

And then I realized I was wearing the other pair I have in this yarn.
Note to self.  Don't suddenly laugh out loud in doctors offices without a reason they all can see.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Day of Stuff

Yesterday was another day of less than average knitting.  There still was knitting but it was reserved for when I was watching tv in the evening so just a couple of hours instead of the usual couple in the morning , couple after lunch plus the evening.  

I was working on this.

These are just a part of the rocks that we have collected over the years.  If I looked over in the packed boxes I fear I would find a couple boxes filled with the better rock samples which we had up in the living room. We were very natural history museum here at Chez Needles.  These shelves here were the less pretty looking, more often explored pieces.  4 book boxes, packed half full but heavy enough that there is going to be whining from the helper squadron.

Then there was this.

We started collecting seashells on our honeymoon.  Every trip after that to places along seashores became an opportunity for more.  We have one medium box of shells, about 2/3rds full.  This box is remaining open so that the rest of the natural history collections can go in it.  There is an interesting beaver skull and some lovely pieces of birch bark that will fill it up.  This is a light box and the helper squadron is going to fight to move it.  I know my helper squadron.

And then, if you look again at this,

You will see books and books and books.  

These are the books published as sets.  A set of Will Durant's Story of Civilzation, a set of Winston Churchill's Second World War.  A set of time Life books of cultures and histories from around the world. (I have no idea what the heck they are called but they are way better reading than Uncle John's Bathroom Readers.)  A set of the Companion Library.  Not a complete set like my dad had, but enough volumes that these and the Book of Knowledge were my library when I was a kid. A set of Readers Digest Great Encyclopaediac Dictionary, volume three of which has the most eclectic assortment of information that a kid really ought to read and know so that they could win all the trivia games they ever will play.

And this.  
I think you could refer to this one as a calculator from before calculators were cool.

There are also a dozen or so Readers Digest Condensed books that have crept into the house over time.  These are not my preferred way of reading books - there is so much out of them, but once I had them and read them, they became mine to conserve.  If I didn't keep them who would? 

The pile, minus 3 boxes of books. They just didn't fit in the picture.

Keep in mind that this is just one small corner, literally the shelves built under the stairs, in a wee reading nook that I have always loved. The hard to picture part for you guys is that about half of the books that were on these shelves were already packed up.  There are boxes of text books that also called these bookshelves home.

I am not sure how it all fit!

Yesterday I thought I would put the nativities and music boxes here till after Christmas.  And I still might, though even now, with just the music boxes,  
the nativities might not all fit! 

I don't know if Mr. Needles and I were collectors naturally, but together we sure became that.  It was kind of a shared joy, finding interesting stuff and putting it on our shelves for the kids to wonder over and ask questions about.  Perhaps it played to my girlish notions of living as the Swiss Family Robinson did (from the Companion Library) but I have loved hosting this odd assortment of things over the years.

I hope you don't mind these forays into stuff.  There might be more if I think the stuff is weird or might be interesting for you and if I remember to take photos as I go.  I will try to keep it to a minimum.

Just in case I have not bored you enough, or to take away the sting of reading about my crap, I will impose one more small thing. It is a happier thing, even though we are teething.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Other Things. Again.

I was waylaid by other things yesterday and didn't knit a whole lot.  I am trying to get some things cleared up and packed up and organized for a change.  I gave myself three months and that has passed so it is time to move forward again.  I have to confess I am moving forward kicking and screaming (Translate this as sitting doing nothing effectively or deliberately.  Moves only when required.) , but I know that I must go.

While I was in San Matteo, the cabinet with my collection of music boxes was moved and most of my things were brought down for me to pack.  This was planned and expected and yet I am a little reluctant to put them all away just yet.  They are Christmas music boxes and  I find myself contemplating Christmas. 

I love to listen to the boxes at Christmas.  My mom got the first one for me when my kids were small and after all these years, it still works.  Because it is wooden, it is the one all the kids are allowed to wind and we do it gently, together, so that they learn to feel when the box is fully wound. Each year, whenever I am alone in the house, I wind them up and let each one play.  I love to hear their tinkling melodies.  Sitting, thinking of this, with them all around made me think hard about Christmas.

I want a display of my Christmas music boxes on the shelves just under the stairs.  And the nativities too. All the books and rocks that usually occupy space there, are packed and it is a little bare and empty.  I think this will be the perfect place for them.  Out and yet out of the way of little fingers except for when Grandma and the kids wind them. 

This is only step one.  I have been meaning to make a big Christmas, with the house decorated to the nines...well the eights at least ;) and cookies and delicious treats and recipes old and new, for the last several years.  It has been too long since Chez Needles did a big Christmas.  The last two years Christmas has been taken up with Mr. Needles knee problems so these things just haven't happened.  And now, since I have to go through all this stuff anyway in preparation for the move, I want it all out.  I want this year to be big and flashy and full, as a sort of goodbye to the house and to mark not the sorrows of the last months, but the joys.  

Christmas is a goodbye but it is also a sign that there is hope, that life moves on and changes and that after a season of darkening, the light will come again.  It is a gift, perhaps the greatest gift.  Christmas marks moving forward and moving on, as we must.  Bittersweet.

Somewhere in that place between joy and sorrow, I sit, not so much knitting, not so much organizing, maybe a little packing, some trying to figure out where the heck will I put the tree.  Busy, but good.  Or at the very least, good enough.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The slogging for comfort part

A friend in the comments said something about speed sweaters, but no.  This is not going to be that.  I am making progress, but it isn't going to be a fast knit.  It is 10 days now and I have at least another 2 days worth of serious work and that is without the sleeves and if I don't go to knitting group till it is done. (I never get enough knitting done at knitting! Funny that:).  

Last Friday:

And this morning:

As you can see progress, but there still is a ways to go.  These are not the pretty fun rows either.  These are the slogging hard work rows.

When I knit a sweater, I do it to fit.  By this point in any garment for me, I have long tossed the pattern aside and am knitting from lessons learned over a lifetime of fit issues and measuring and knowing where I go wider than average.  I did not understand it so well back in the days when I sewed, as I do since I began my adventures in knitting, but in the end that is neither here nor there.  

What I can say absolutely is that these rows get long.  Really long.  This is the part of my sweater knitting where it takes some gumption to get a garment that looks right.  On occasion, my gumption deserts me, and I end up with a really lovely sweater that doesn't get worn so much as it ought because it feels too short.  I have a few of these in my closet, at least one of which, I am actually going to take apart and redo (it is really nice yarn).  These short ones always seem to be the ones where the button band is knitted on after and is the more elaborate part of the thing, so that giving it a redo is never so easy as it ought to be.

I am determined that this is going to be a sweater that gets worn because it feels good, comfortable and cozy and makes me feel at home where ever I am in the world because it says to the world that this is me.  

That comfort feeling and that at home feeling takes some effort and this is it.  


Friday, 15 November 2013


As I said, there has been even more knitting around here than just socks and Viajante.  For some weird reason, I am feeling a little sweaterish.

It is a very long time since I felt an urge to knit a sweater and it is kind of a relief. I thought I had lost the sweater knitting mojo and that would be an absolute crime.  It would be an even worse crime than a standalone mojo loss crime, when you consider the many, many thousands of miles of sweater yarn I have in the stash.    

I am knitting another Shalom.  I am using Cascade Ecological Wool in one of its soft natural gray browns and for a little fun, the ribbed section is knit using Noro Kureyon colour 214.  Before I started, I was certain this was the perfect pairing of colours, but I lost that confidence while knitting it.  The colours seemed so much softer and less vibrant than in the ball.  The Kureyon looked sort of anchorless.  Now that I have knit more of the plain and have tried it on, I am very happy to say, I was right.  It is going to be a sweater I never want to take off.  

My first Shalom was completed in about 7 days, but this one is going to take a little longer.  I hoped it wouldn't but with this versions smaller gauge (5 st per inch vs the original patterns 3.25 st per inch) using the same yarn, it is just not going to happen.  That is one of the interesting things about Shalom.  It is such a fundamentally simple design that once you understand its design principles, you can easily knit them to any size using any yarn, even sock yarn!  Isn't that a great thing for a sweater to be?

I am knitting to a smaller gauge as personal preference.  I know the gauge that Cascade Ecological Wool says it is good for (3.5 - 4 stitches per inch) but as nice as that is, I just think it should be knit tighter.  I might be taking it a little far pushing it to a 5 but I think the yarn is going to perform better knit more tightly and I have no concerns at all about drape with this sweater, since drape really isn't an issue.  In fact, I would rather it not have drape, which often seems to catch and cling where I most decidedly do not want a garment to catch and cling. 

My other goal in knitting to a gauge of 5 st/ inch is to slow the pilling.  My other Shalom is knit with Cascade Eco + (the dyed version of Ecological) and is just about the pilliest thing on the planet.  It has to be tidied up before each and every wear.  It doesn't seem to be slowing at all though the sweater has been worn and washed a lot.  I really didn't want to have to go through that with another sweater and I sincerely hope this tighter knit helps.  I have a lot more of this yarn in stash.

It is a great yarn to work with and I love the colours, both the natural and the Eco + colour range, but sometimes even great to work with yarns have flaws.  

All that is left is to knit the sweater for length.  If I stay with the original pattern, a few rows of garter stitch at the sleeves and it would be done, but I have plenty of yarn and I might feel a sleevish episode coming on.

First sweaterish.  Now sleevish?  What is the world coming to?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

But there still is knitting

And now to update on actual knitting!  

My take along project while gone to Knitlab was a pair of socks, the makings of which are always in my bag, and the lovely Viajante.

I love knitting this.  There are only two places to watch.  The every second row decreases and the increases.  The places where these things happen are at the same spot on every row so it is remarkably easy to keep track.  
 Unless you are me and are knitting with friends.  Then you might forget a decrease or two.  I have to check, but this could be the case on a couple of rows.  I won't rip back unless miracles happened and I knit many more rows than I think I knit yesterday.  There should be plenty of ease to forgive a couple wee errors.  (see Oxford Dictionary, 'optimism' 'idiot')

I am very pleased at the way these strong colours are working up.  These colours preclude a lot of lacy patterning.  The colours are strong enough to hide any pattern you might want to knit but in a pattern like this, where shape and form and function are the king, the colours are really just splendid.
It seems to want to work into a very striped and interspersed looking knit except for that moment when I hit the yarns sweet spot.  I could have completely avoided this had I chosen to work with two balls of yarn at a time, but that is a lot of metres of trying to track two balls and I wanted to have some fun.  This interesting occasional pooling is going to be a feature patterning as it happens whenever I get to the next sweet spot in the yarn.  I accept that and I am kind of looking forward to it.

It is a lovely thing to work on as so many of Martina Behm's patterns are.  They are simple, and yet, it isn't something you can knit in your sleep.

It is the perfect thing for travel knitting that isn't a sock.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

For all that knitting is Important to me,

it is the other things that are the biggest part of life.  Knitting is big, but the things part of this blogger matter.  Today you get to share a little of that.

The photos from Son3 and my new daughter's wedding are in!

I love these photos because I love every person in them.  I love the way these wonderful people put everything together.  They did it all themselves right down to catering the dinner.,  It was a wonderful home cooked roast beef dinner.  Everything was handmade including the bouquets and done with love of family and friends.  

And of course, these photos were taken by Daughter1, the mommie of my Sweet Thing.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A few other bits and bobs

There were a few other little things that I picked up along the way while in San Matteo.

I found what must be the prettiest set of needles ever made, the prettiest in my personal possession to be sure.

ChiaGoo Blue Flower limited edition needles.  This set just tickles my fancy.

And then, once again in the extraordinary Galina Khamelev's Skaska Designs booth, a pin, but not just a plain pin.

A simple pennanular pin.  I have wanted one for the longest time.  It has already been well used and may very well be the easiest pin I have ever used on a shawl.  It just puts no stress on any of the fine threads individually, but holds it all together as a grouped stress and keeps everything just right.

And then because I need to think of smiling things and simple joys, 

My special Batman and his sidekick Boots.  Well, it is Dora the Explorers sidekick Boots!

I have to think more on the joys of these two and less on what sorrows there are in this world.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The haul

And now for the most important part!  The haul!

Knitlab (or more correctly Knitting Lab) is a smaller event.  It doesn't draw the thousands that Stitches does.  The instructors all feel that the events have different purposes.  Stitches is a more project oriented program and Knitlab is about technique.  Stitches is huge, Knitlab smaller and more intimate.  Almost everyone who attended both says that.  Knitlab has a smaller market but you know, some really good stuff shows up.  These are probably things you might overlook for the sheer volume at a stitches event, where here, they shine.

So my personal haul.  I stuck to budget.  Or I would have without a few little things like some pretty needles and a wonderful shawl pin.  And some stitch markers.  But that is for another day.

Today you get to see the yummy yarn.

Jacob and Alpaca sportweight blend from Toots LeBlanc.  This is just yummy stuff and if you see some out there in your travels, get it.
Freia gradient laceweight.  There were so many wonderful colours of this, it was hard to choose.  I fell for this wonderful colour and had a very hard time not falling for many more.
Invictus Yarns sock.  A warm and silvery gray.
Pigeonroof Studios mini skeins, gathering the best of their colours.  I would have loved to come home with one pack of each.
See, I couldn't stay with only one.
I also fell for this golden sock yarn from them.  Stunning.
And then, the place I had the hardest time getting by. These last two are from Galena Khameleva's Skaska Designs. I dropped serious bucks here.  This is a skein of camel and silk laceweight.  It has an almost Victorian/ Edwardian feel to it.  It is breathtakingly fine ( a 30/2 IIRC.  The label is tucked away )  and I can't wait to work with its delicious 1700 metres.
And then a cone of delicious warm brown cashmere.  Good golden warm.  There was another vendor there with direct from China cashmere at a really really good price and it was stunning, but it did not have the lovely warm more natural tone that this did.  I paid my bucks and bought this pinnacle of fine yarn.  

I thought about quiviut but this is where a failing credit card worked out just the way it ought to.  I did after all, end up pretty much within my budget.

And I don't know if I like this or am heartbroken by it.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Elegant places

The first of my trip blogs is going to be about where we stayed at.  We stayed at some wonderful places.

These are some shots of the hotel Knitlab was at.  There were knitters everywhere.  You could ask people to join you for lunch or breakfast and pretty much everybody did.  You could accost people with the most amazing sweaters and they were happy to talk about their garments and shawls.  It was great.  And people came and asked about what you were working on. Everybody was knitting and the few who weren't looked slightly out of place and I think, on occasion, felt themselves to be so.  It was the loveliest thing to be surrounded by so much knitting.  Comfy, comfy beds.

Another plus was the Trader Joe's across the street.  As I said yesterday, hip and trendy.  Yup that is me. 

After the conference was over we decided to go to downtown to stay.  The country between was unexpected.  There were many signs of people but there was much more open country than I thought there would be in an area with so many people.  

We stayed at the Hotel Fairmont on the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco.  We were steeped in elegance and history.

The really cool thing was that just like you see on tv, there were business meeting taking place in the lobby.  Here and there casual seeming groups of men in elegant dark suits talking earnestly, sitting far too long to be discussing golf. 
I thought that only happened in movies. 

We had lunch there and sat on soft leather chairs.  I don't know that I have ever felt leather that fine before.  Just wonderful.  We at pumpkin bisque and grilled cheese sandwiches which were like nothing I have ever tasted before. Splendid sourdough bread and a delcious white cheese that complimented the sltighty nutty taste of the bisque perfectly.    Later in the evening we adventured out to Cioppino's on Fishermans Wharf.  Wonderful food and a very fun waiter.  

My room.  Marble baths.  So me, yes?  hahaha

What lovely places we stayed and visited but still I am glad to be home.  My own bed might not be so fine but it is mine and has charms all its own. Like my warm felted blankie and my own pillow.  All mine and just right.