Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I chucked it all

to KNIT!

But I did keep working on the dolly project.

Just a nice plain raglan sleeve sweater knit without a pattern.  I used a nice stretchy (really stretchy) slip knot cast on so the neckline would fit over all the dollies heads and it is a little loose on this dolly but Cassie has one just a bit bigger.  

As you can see, the pants also turned out nicely.  Again, they are a bit loose around the waist, but the magic of all the elastic means its will fit every doll at Cassie's house.  

All the doll clothes patterns I am using come from a book that has lived on my bookshelf for a long time, The Dolls' Dressmaker by Venus Dodge.  The last print date in my book is 1999.  I doubt I got it that long ago, but probably very early in the 2000's. Sadly, the early 2000's is getting to be a long time ago.  Sigh.

 It has basic patterns for dolls from 14 inches to 25 inches and goes into great detail about how to adjust and use the patterns
  for every kind of doll clothing from very modern to the old fashioned kind you find on china dolls.
It even has knitting and crochet patterns, though I don't need these at all.

I'm glad the day is done, though.  It took far longer than I thought it should have to knit the little thing.  It's would fit a very tiny baby, though and I guess getting it in a day is just fine.  The sewing happened after dinner which was a learning experience.  I cannot see well enough in this light to thread the needle.  It was a challenge.  It shouldn't surprise me, but it does.

Anyway, more sewing for tomorrow.  I was a little worried, but now that the pants are done, and I know how the basic pattern fits, I can move a little more confidently.  And at the end of the day, that lovely sock knitting to look forward to.

 Just a quick peek to keep our spirits up.

And so on

When last I left the sewing corner and the organizing binge, I was in want of organizing the bits and pieces of sewing life so the desk had room for cutting and trimming of dolly sized things.  Pintrest lived up to it's hype and worked for me.  

It showed me to all the ways to use a back of the door shoe storage organizer.  Its pretty much ideal for my sewing corner.  I was going to sew it with fabric I already have but a trip to the dollar store showed that sometimes, purchasing is the smart route.  $3 and well worth it. 

 It's hung on the back of the wool room door.  When it isn't in use, the busy look of it is gone inside the wool room, but when I need it, I open the door and everything is in reach from my chair.  My shelf and desk are no longer cluttered with boxes plus I found out a few revealing things about my accumulated sewing stuff.
 I could used another spool or two of black thread and
I never ever have to buy elastic of any kind again.  I think I have an entire stores stash of elastic!

All that tidying of the sewing corner did lead to more than curtain sewing.  This sewing is kind of where I was heading when I started this!

  My sweet Cassie's 3rd birthday is tomorrow and she is of the age where her play is changing from a toddler's play to imagination play.  Dolly diapers and blankets and some dolly clothes are in order.  I am making them to fit all her dolls, so I haven't finished the details on the blouses and pants and dresses, but I am very pleased with these.  I have a dolly sweater to knit, some pants to sew, a skirt and a blouse to finish. Thankfully Saturday is her party so I have time!

I had to go out and find some velcro without the sticky back (the sticky back stuff I had is un-sew-able.  I found out the hard way.) and while I was out, came across these.
The yarn store had them a month ago but I did not make it in till one lone kit remained.  The fabric store had some so Christmas shopping has officially begun. One sunny lion, two little monkeys and one soccer ball for the big guy.

Another thing to note is that the Fabricland closest to me is also carrying leather and canvas purse handles and bag bottoms.  They are not cheap, but they are there.  It is so nice to have a local source.  

There is a busy day ahead, and a lot of little sewing piled and waiting. I will get that done, but what I am really looking forward to is the dolly knitting.  I am also looking forward to a nice long day of just knitting my regular stuff even if that day is way on the far side of Sunday.  

Monday, 28 September 2015

When I fall in love

This song has been running through my head so much the last two days.  I hope it plays for you.  Nat King Cole and 'When I Fall in Love'

After playing with fabric Sunday, I started working on a new pair of socks.  I thought I would just get started on the toe, maybe do a couple rounds to get really started and then go to bed.  It was getting rather late after all.  (9:30)  And then something happened. 

I could not put it down.

I knit till very late and was into that second pink section.  I swear that time stood still.  It was that hypnotic.

Anybody who knits stripes or two row scarf things knows what can happen, but this is a whole other level of whatever the heck happens with striped.  

Its my first go round with the Geek Socks  from  I say first go round because there will be more.  Oh yes.  Lots and lots more.  This is a pattern that you could knit just for fun a hundred times and it would never get bored.  

The yarn I am using here is just a simple striping ball of Jawoll Colour.

 You see those nice crisp rows of yarn?  That is the secret to these socks.  Sort of.  

If you go back and look at my sock, you will see some very subtle colour things happening.  What looks like a wide band of yellow on the ball band sock is two slightly different yellows.  The brown and purpley burgundy is also very close.  As you can see, I missed the first colour change.  

Part of why these look so seriously fine is that the stripes are so even.  You would get an entirely different look if you knit these in a yarn where the stripe width varied.  It still would be great but right now, I love this.

It got hypnotic again when I worked on it today.  I swear it wasn't long.  My coffee never got cold or at least I don't think so. My spaghetti squash is really well baked.  Edible though, thankfully, so it had to be at least a couple of hours!

The yarn and the pattern with this music, might strike you as two different ends of the spectrum, and in some ways, I suppose they are.  The yarn is very trendy right now with its hot vibrant green and pink.  Peppy and hot and full of incredible energy.  The music is slow and a gem out of time.  Oh so mellow and slow.  But when you fall in love, those ends of the spectrum don't matter.  Love is the only thing that does.

And I love knitting these socks.  

First Things First

It was a very busy weekend, as you can tell by Saturdays post.  Very busy.

I knit a bunch on Saturday and then did some other stuff.  I will show you these things later, but right now, I want to show my victory of the weekend.

I started these socks in July, so to you, it seems like they have been around forever, but to me, I hardly worked on them at all.  I finished a couple other socks between now and then, including whole pairs of socks.  

These really nice Jawoll Cotton Jacquard socks were my bag knitting, my take along knitting, my stitch night work, and slowly they happened.  I have been dreaming of other socks, and have several ideas of what will happen next so keep your eyes peeled for something brilliant in a sock.  

Long live the socks.  Or

"When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle, THIS is what they call...a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!"  (From 'Fox in Socks' Dr. Suess

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Friday File

 As I have said many times, I am on an organizing kick.  It isn't really organizing so much as finally getting all the little things done that I thought about doing when I first came here.  Friday, I was planning to start a little project for Cassie's birthday but before I could do that I had to get the sewing corner unburied.  The sewing corner is a great place to tuck boxes of wool when I am digging in the wool room.  

Step one was putting stuff back in the wool room. Good to go.  Then as part of the new organizing and putting thing, I knew that all the bits hanging on the sewing desk needed to be dealt with before I moved forward.  So I dealt with all the bits.  I moved all the sewing stuff from the desk drawer on the small desk I now use for a computer desk and the few desk things from the sewing desk.  
 It is in pretty desperate need of some work but this is small scale sorting.  Time for that later.   

By then it was 3 o'clock and I knew I wasn't going to get started on dolly things.  I did not want my busy day to end, but I did want doll work to start when I was fresh.  I realized that there was something I could do, something that I planned for a long time and that would also help in organizing the bigger picture too.

I had a lovely toile print duvet cover and pillowcase set from Ikea.  I had it on my bed for a good long time at the old house. When I was packing to move, I just couldn't let it go.  It was part of my blue and white collection even if it wasn't china. Once I decided where my study would be, I thought I would use them for curtains.  And so they sat, on a pile, like so many other little things, for months.  They got moved around and tucked here and there, but they never had a place or purpose. They were my arch nemesis, "stuff".  Time for "stuff" to be done.

 My original plan was full length side panels to frame the blinds, but in a lot of ways, I am glad it took a while to sort out what would work best.  This room, more than any other place, lacked a little privacy.  Privacy meant that I always had the blinds closed...which of course meant that I missed the lovely natural airy lightness from  the pair of windows in this space.  Full curtains, even light ones would have meant opening and closing blinds all the time.  And that bugs me.  

It struck me a while ago that cafe curtains were the perfect solution. They are static, and give me the feeling of privacy while the blinds are wide open and the top of the window lets in a wonderful flood of light.  

The fabric is really very sheer, and is fine for daytime privacy but not quite so fine for night time privacy.  The deep fabric stash has a ton of white lining fabric, though I am going to have to test how it performs at night.  

I turned the two pillowcases into covers for two pillows that were kicking about. The large square one is slated for a knitted colourwork pillow cover (I have the wool) and will do someday...or not, and the round was always meant to have a fabric cover.

I have a nice bit of toile fabric left and that is going straight to the fabric boxes under my bed.  I am trying to decide what it will be, a ruffly cover for the stool in my sewing corner, or covering for the boxes that store all the sewing bits and pieces.   I have some options! 

For a quick Friday afternoon project, this is wonderful.  It was uncomplicated so I did not have to think hard.  It gave me maximum bang for minimum ($0) bucks.  It gave me a solution to a "stuff" problem.  It gave me a solution to a privacy irritant. A win in every way.  

The perfect end to a Friday.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Are we done yet?

I had Carter try on his sweater the other day.  I am thrilled to say it fits perfectly.  Except.

Except the sleeves seemed narrow and slightly shorter than I would like.  I wanted them to need to be folded up so that as he grows, there is length there to grow into.  So...

back to the drawing board.  As I was pulling back the sleeve, I wondered if Ravelry has way to list projects that are done but are under renovation.  

Both sleeves have been reknit in stockinette to the end of the yarn and new yarn was added to lengthen to make the seed stitch cuff.It should be perfect now.

I am looking forward to seeing this on grandma's sweet little one.  Next up something just like this for his big brother.  Because heaven knows I have the yarn!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A special post on the laundry detergent

Thank you to the reader for your kind comment!

My making this is really about sustainable living.  It goes back to my now lost wish to have a very large farm garden in retirement and my dreams of keeping chickens and other livestock over summer.  I was looking for a simpler way of life, one more connected to the earth we share and more in tune with its grandeur.  I can't do that on the same scale at all, but that doesn't mean I need to leave it all behind.  I still want to find ways to treat our earth better.  Cutting costs is also very much part of it.  With the encouragement and advice from a friend, who has used a very similar recipe for years, I went ahead.  

The recipe I used was from David and is the first one on the sheet.  

The first thing I had to do was find the ingredients.  I knew you could get Borax everywhere so that was step one.  Then I started searching for bar laundry soap.  My friend uses the good old fashioned Sunlight laundry bar (She lives on the east side and finds it at one of the big groceries there) but I couldn't find anything like that here in Spruce Grove and I looked everywhere.  Washing soda was also non existent locally.  My friend sent me a link to   

Washing soda This is the washing soda I purchased.  A nice big bag of it.  I used only 1 cup for this first batch so I will have many many more batches from this investment of $6.99.  The recipe calls for a half cup but the water here is quite hard so it was doubled.  I may try tripling in the next batch, but so far so fair.  

The other interesting thing, that I only came across today as I wrote this, is that you can make washing soda from baking soda.  It doesn't look that hard to do, so if you don't want to go out and buy it, you can get there from what you can find.  And here is a link to the interesting video that shows what needs to happen as it is changing from one to the other!  He does it stove top for this video, but recommends doing it in the oven.  

Soap Flakes  This is the soap flakes I purchased. $13.79.  I chose this brand because that was what came up when I was looking.  There are several other varieties and quantities showing up now.  Look around and see what works for you. Again a nice big bag and it will last a very long time. 

They have many kinds of soap for laundry.  Looking and reading up on what makes a good laundry product, I kept coming up against Castile soap, which generally refers to any vegetable oil based soap.  Search for laundry soap and Castile soap and you get dozens of options.  If you prefer, fels naptha soaps can be had at Amazon as well as the Sunlight brand and these are all recommended for laundry.  Some people use good old Ivory brand bars.  Lazy me.  I choose not to have to grate it myself!

And a box of Borax for about $7.00.

These are the Canadian prices from this website and my local store.  I could have gotten the supplies at Amazon and other places, but chose on my friends recommendation.  Plus, had a few other things that I am happy to have, like lavender oil, to scent my soap.  I suspect they are a much smaller enterprise than Amazon and I like that about them too.

I followed the recipe step by step, exactly as it says, and the end product is a kind of jelly like thing.  It dissolves quickly in the water and seems to do a great job and because of that lavender oil (not required), I get clothing that smells quite pretty too.  If I hadn't added the lavender scent, I suspect the clothes would just smell... clean.

It made slightly over 7 litres of soap, about half my container full.  Next time, I will be filling it.  Easy peasy and seriously cheap.  My batch is going to last a long time, me with my wee washer and only me to care for.  I use a half cup in the machine per load (a measurement cup from the last container of store bought detergent) and at that rate, I should have about 60 wash loads.  

From my original investment in ingredients, I will get many many more batches.  According the the mighty internet, I estimate 7 batches at 1 cup per batch of washing soda, 18 batches from the borax and 9 from the soap flakes.  So a ton of loads of laundry for 5 dollars more than the price of one large container of brand name detergent.    

They do have other cleaners on the pdf I linked to, as well as a recipe for dry laundry detergent.  My cousin in Saskatoon uses the dry kind and has for years and recommends it. 

So there you have it.  Laundry on the cheap. Recommended by friends and family.  And me.

A knitting kind of day!

And really, that is all I did.  

The back of the bolero is complete and the first front is well on the way.  It isn't taking anytime to get it done at all.  So far. I say the so far lest karma comes back and bites me.

It is still black.  Plain black.  There is very little plain black in the wool room and I am ever so thankful for that.  knitting black isn't bad once in a while, but boy, if I had bought yarn in the colours of my wardrobe...Black.  I find myself not fond at all of black knitting.  I can really only do it in daylight and have to deal with sitting there once twilight comes.

I need to start something bright.  I have a couple of ideas but I really need to finish some things up first.  I need to finish sweaters for the girls and I have to do a sweater for Isaac too.  Thankfully these things are bright enough to carry me through. 

Knitting away, in black.  sigh.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

A not knitting kind of day

Monday was a not knitting kind of day.  It was a finishing up of stuff kind of day.

I finished the laundry.  I had gotten a bit behind a few weeks ago with sheets and towels and it seemed like every time I made a concerted effort to catch up, I would get caught up in loads of clothes, which led to getting behind in folding, which I said I wasn't going to let happen again but which happened again.  And so on.  It's a vicious circle.  With the recent burst of energy, I feel like I really can make a go of keeping up.  It's a small machine but there is only me, after all.

When Mr. Needles and I were newly wed, I used to watch my neighbour and wonder.  She was a lovely little Ukrainian lady, and every morning, she was out on the stoop, washing clothes from the day before on her scrub board, and hanging them to dry. When a towel got used, it got washed. No backlog for her.  The only thing she did in her machine, was sheets and pillowcases.  The big stuff.  Her daughter told me about her dislike of the machine, but I have often wondered if it was not really just that momma saw the machine, as a great waste of time and water.  She could take 10 minutes and do it on the back stoop and hang it and she was done.  I have often wondered if she wasn't doing it right.  Think of how few things you would really need, if you kept things right up to date. Imagine how little you would need to buy, to store.  I think about that older way of living, that older style of low consumption and sometimes I think she was doing it right.

And then I hung some things on a newly installed curtain rod. Not curtains and certainly not on a window.  I have several things, a table cloth, a simple hardanger throw, a thing from my mom's wedding shower, a table runner from Ukraine, some truly marvelous real actual linen sheets that were a gift.  These are things that have always been close at hand, and have been tossed around here in the most heinous way.  There are a few other things that I have to take out from boxes that will be added in time.  These are things that are precious to me, that have always deserved to be used, but I have no reasonable way or place to use them.  These are exactly the kind of things that professional 'organizers' tell you to get out of your house, but I see it as just needing the right way to display them.  It might seem like a weird idea, but a hanging display will suit my study just right.

Yesterday was lovely outside.  The deck was sunny and warm, and sheltered from the wind that rose as the day wore on.  A neighbour stopped and we had coffee.  Then,  I decided it was time to do a little something that I had been putting off for a week or so.

I have lovely deep window ledges.  They are one of my favourite things about my wee house.  Lovely old fashioned window ledges.  I also had some really great bright pelargoniums/ geraniums on my deck, that made it through the whole summer in grand style and two nice varieties of ivy.

I thought I would give a try at saving the geraniums for next summer.  If I don't manage to keep the slips alive, I lose nothing but for the 2 dollars that the rectangular containers cost.  Even that wouldn't be a total loss.  I can fill those next spring with pansies and violas.  Or cucumbers.

I let them sit in the sun against the house after I  finished planting yesterday, and made a mad dash late at night, to bring them in when I realized that there was a frost warning for my area.  Today they will be put to their new homes.

And then I went off to play with my little boys. And that was my day.

I mean to be back on my regular schedule today.  A little knitting with coffee, a little quilting, and the usual stuff of day to day life.

Monday, 21 September 2015

That is the plan.

It was a busy weekend here at Chez Needles.  I had some help though and for that I am eternally grateful.  It was tall help and it made everything so much easier than if I had tried these things alone.

I also made up a batch of laundry detergent.  Well, not detergent.  The point is, there is no detergent in it.  It is a mix of borax and soap and washing soda.  Its the old fashioned kind of laundry product and I'm pretty happy with it''s performance so far.  I was a little worried because our water here is very hard and I have no softener, but I am really pleased.  I did 3 loads and I think it works better than the commercial detergent I used.  Plus for the cost of one large container of store bought, I will have laundry soap for years. And years.

 In between stuff of the weekend, I knit.

This is the back of the bolero I am making for my mom.  It is laid out a little funky but I am very pleased with it so far.

Yes it is being knit in pieces.  I didn't mean to do that, but it just sort of happened.  It's almost long enough which is really good because I have 7 balls so the back can't reasonably take more yarn that 2 balls.  If the back takes two balls, and the fronts take 2 balls and sleeves one ball each, it leaves me with one ball for the ribbed outer edge.  That is the plan.

And with a little luck, the plan will come together.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Well played

So, you know how I said I was having power outages yesterday?  Well I did.  It finally stabilized about noon.  I still don't know what the trouble was but I am going to call the office in the morning and with luck, they can tell me.  

As such things go, there were unintended consequences.  You must know that it got very cold here last night.  Touch of frost.  I could see it on my plants this afternoon.  The house was very very chilly.  It was really cold and while I did have my felted wool blanket on my bed, 

and a lightweight quilt that my mother in law made many years ago, it wasn't enough.  I should have kept my socks on, but there was a point mid way through the night when I must have been overheated (as happens to ladies of a certain age) and kicked them off.  The feather duvets are tucked away still and are not that easy to get to so there wasn't any hope of getting them out in the dark of night.  I do remember last weeks ending.  Not going there again.  

To say I was well chilled this morning is to put it mildly.  I tried to stay in bed till it was light out, but I just couldn't do that.  It was too cold.  I got up, and with the light app of my cell phone, got washed up in very cold water, and then got dressed in more layers than I can shake a stick at.  My ereader was charged and is lighted, so I read till it was light.  Then I started my day.  About noon I headed over to the kids house where my daughter in law was doing a job for me.  I stopped at the yarn store on the way (Wheel is in for repairs).  I got gas.  I got coffee.  I talked with the electrician.  I got the mail.  I did a whole bunch of stuff out and about today.  

It was only as I was putting away my supper things this evening, that I realized...

My pants are on backwards.  

They are yoga pants so it really doesn't matter much and they are stretchy, but it does explain that mometary weirdness this morning.  No one noticed or they were kind enough not to tell me.

And because it was 5 minutes to 7 p.m. and I was running late to get to stitching night with the ladies in my neighbourhood... well you can end that thought however you want, but let's just say that not a lot changed.  

Because that is how we do that at 7 p.m. when we are late for stitching.

Fridays.  Preternaturally weird.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

And so we begin

I could use that title for blog posts a hundred times and it never gets old to me.


The fabric photographed blue here, but is a rich dark black.  It does show how nice the texture looks though.  

My power is up and down starting late yesterday and through this morning.  Its at the main box for my street and they do have people coming to fix it, but meanwhile it goes up and down.  So this is a quickie post.

Ending now!  

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

All possible dreams

When I was young, 16 or so, my godmother gave me a very large crewel work piece.  It was a gorgeous leopard in a tree, about 12 x 18 inches, solidly worked, and was so far beyond the skills of 16 year old me.  It was the progenitor of my 10 year rule.  If you can't finish it in 10 years, you can let it go.  I let the leopard go many years ago, but I have always always wished I would have had the skill and the knowledge to go forward.

I still love embroidery. All kinds.  I would do it more but life seems to be surrounded by knitting and grandchildren and lately quilting.  I do have some things lined up though.  I have a lovely winterberry design that I want to put on some linens for my table and some cute retro days of the week transfers for tea towels.  I have that marvelous linen toweling that my daughter in law Olga brought back from Ukraine to put them on.

I think the magic showed up because I had been looking at tambour embroidery online, the kind of work used for the very stunning ornamentation of designer clothing.  A friend sent me a link, and well, you know how that goes.  As I was organizing my knitting book purchase, the most beautiful book came up on the suggested list.

I usually ignore the suggested list, but I could not look away.  I was captured, hook line and sinker and it popped into my cart.  It is a book of embroidery done in the style that is occasionally referred to as needle painting.  And it is quite breathtaking.

One thing led to another.

It was like sock yarn.  If it's under 20 dollars so you can afford it right?   Both of these were.  Most amazingly, both of these books answered all the questions that 16 year old me wanted to know about massive embroideries and crewel work and how to make a picture look real with the colours of your threads.  Had I had these books, oh so long ago, I would have completed that leopard with its golds and green and blacks.

Once you get one book in a book cart, you are, of course, flooded with more suggestions of things.

I thought about that long ago me, and how aptly named this book was. Colour Confidence.  Confidence.   What handcrafter does not want that?  So I paid its much more premium price and I am so pleased I did.  The other books will take you to school, but this one takes you to magic.  While the magic is meant for embroiderers, I think that there is going to be much to learn here for a knitter who loves colourwork.

Lovely things, all laid out with pages and pages of harmonising schemes and design schemes of colour. This book goes colour deep, colour rich, into the art of colour and why these things work.

You can go so far into learning about the way of colour things that you become changed by it.  This is colour school beyond what a knitter needs, to where a knitter wants and dreams with all her heart, to make her work magic.

And then, to top it off, there are designs, flowers and florals and birds, that will simply take your breath away.  But it doesn't leave you sitting, unable to breath.  Each and every one of the splendid designs are shown broken out into bite sized pieces and it makes you feel that even you, if you take it in steps, with practice, could reproduce these masterworks.

This is never going to become an embroidery blog but I crave the understanding of this.  I crave it in the same way I craved knitting.  I don't know if any of these works of art will be translated onto fabric by me but I can dream.

Knitting was once an impossible thing for me, yet it happened.  Even if I never ever get to works of this kind, it feels really, really good to dream a possible dream.   

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mail or something like it.

I love receiving mail and things like mail.  Ok, I really love receiving not mail but packages of things from Amazon.  Now that I live in a town like place, without a long driveway, the driver leaves my packages on my doorstep or tucked just inside the door frame.  

I got one yesterday and barely had time to look at it.  Yesterday was busy busy busy.  Once I was home to stay, I did peak though and was completely delighted in what I found.

I got a copy of Custom Socks by Kate Atherly.  The Knit Girllls reviewed Custom Socks on their episode 266 but I had already ordered it.  What they said is right, though.  Its really a must have kind of book.  All I have done so far is scanned and read notes on the sidebar of some of the patterns and I have learned a few things.  I love that.  When a reference book teaches in moments you know you have a winner.  

And there are great socks designs in the book too. Most of them are something I can see myself doing.  They are beautifully photographed, not just for style, but to show off the details of construction. The Wellesley pattern has a complete case study of all the design details, that will help aspiring designers but will also inform those of us who need to adjust in almost every pattern.   

Pretty darn pleased with it so far.  I suspect more good things to come as I read through it.

The other little knitting treat I picked up for myself is Increase Decrease by Judith Durant.  I haven't really looked at this one at all but for a few minutes this morning, but I have high hopes for it as a compendium of increases and decreases.  I was pretty pleased with their Cast on Bind off in format and in content.  No book will ever get every single way out there, but these are a very good place to start.   

Both of these are reference books that I think, will stand the test of time.

And just a little note, if you are looking for pattern books for sweaters, do check out Hampstead House Books.  They have a couple of really great sweater books in the crafts section this month.  
Lots of other good things too.  Keep in mind they are remaindered books, so you have to make up your mind  and order.  Waiting means they may have sold out.

Anyway, there were a few other things in the package, but not knitting things and they will wait for another day.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Mostly done

A weekend brings at least one mostly finished object.  

I know it must strike you that a 'mostly finished' object isn't really done, but it is and this is why.

Years and years ago, I crocheted a great big, single granny square blanket.  (the link takes you to a post about it from long long ago) 

I made the entire thing in one sitting watching a marathon showing of the entire 'Ken Burn's Civil War' .  I loved that blanket but it was stolen (again) from me by one of my dastardly devious sons, when he said 'Mom, can I have that blanket?' and took it.  I have always wanted another.

In January of this year, I was digging into the stash and found a yarn that I could do it with. Originally, I thought I would make the blanket huge, but in truth, there is a problem with having afghans that are too large.  Unless you are lying down, fully snuggled under them, a full sized one is just too much fabric. I sledom am laying down watching tv.  That is prime knitting time!  I usually cover my lap and knees and have a pile to trip in at my feet.  As I was working this one, I realized that I didn't have to make it work for anybody but me, so I started thinking of it as a lap sized afghan.

And then it got a little complicated.

The more I worked, the more I realized that I was going to have tons of yarn left if I made a lap sized afghan.  I started wondering if there was going to be a sweaters worth left or a vests worth. And then I started thinking that the very last thing I needed was a blanket of extra big size and almost enough for something else.  I hate that point where you are a couple balls short. My hatred of running out shows up in my stash  no matter what class of yarn you look at.  I started with 24 skeins of this yarn (Elann's long gone Peruvian Highland Wool) and I need 14 or so for a sweater, depending on the sweater details.   

When I was cleaning last week, I realized I had 16 balls of yarn remaining. I spent a few days thinking about that, deciding if I wanted to try for a sweater sometime.  I also had to decide if the blanket was big enough.  A too small blanket would be just as useless as an unfinished sweater.  

Just right.

So, I worked till one solid round of DC was complete and I am calling the blanket 'mostly done'.  When the rest of the yarn is used for a sweater, if there is anything left, I will add more rounds of double crochet.  That is the cool thing about crochet.  You can add on without worrying too much about it.  You can just add.

So there you are.  Mostly done, the great big granny number two.

Friday, 11 September 2015


I have no real excuse why I was walking in the dark but it is a long habit and it is stupid.  Mr. Needles was never a happy camper if you woke him from a sleep suddenly.  He would wake, snarling. He would have been great in those emergency situations calling for immediate battle back in cavemen days or if a bear got in the house.  But you did not ever wake him suddenly from a sleep.  Everybody in the house knew that. His normal kind gentle heart was completely missing on being woken suddenly from a deep sleep.  Very scary.  

Over the years, I became used to wandering around the house in the dark. so that I wouldn't wake him.  I still do it.  Or I did till this morning.  Over done, not doing that again.

I left my playbook with its alarm set on my study desk.  When it went off, I had to get up to find the blessed thing to turn it off.  I intended on going back to bed and sleeping for another couple of hours.  I tripped walking to my desk.

I had no idea what I landed on, but I knew that I was up against my display cabinet.  All I could think about as I heard the crush against the cabinet, was 'please don't break the glass, please don't break the glass'.  I had visions of being covered in shards of glass, dolls, and the oily stuff that is inside music boxes.
The glass is fine.  The cabinet did not move at all.  Even the picture, standing on top, is still standing. No harm I thought for a second.  Till I turned on the light.

My Victoria wheel.  Destroyed.

 You should not be able to see this part of the flyer shaft bearing at all.
 This part should be attached to the above part.  They are actually one part.
 Broke the orfice too.
and to top it all off, broke the flyer too. May even have bent the flyer shaft.

I am thinking about going to have a little cry.  I'm also thinking of going out for coffee this morning.  And desert.  Does anybody serve chocolate caramel cake with ice cream for breakfast?  


PS  Only the wheel was harmed.  I am fine except for what is sure to be a spectacular set of bruises topped by a bit of a scrape. Thank you to all the lovely people looking out for me. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Between the naps

I woke yesterday with the intention of finishing the job of the day before, only that did not happen.  Things conspired against me and I slept a healthy portion of the day. I slept with knitting in my hands while sitting on my sofa.  I slept in front of the computer.  I was so sleepy.  I slept well the night before and slept very well last night too, even with all my many naps through the day.  I have a new mattress and everything is just a little different and I suspect that I am adjusting.

Thankfully I realized that my brain was not up to snuff, so I didn't work on Ripstick, which is at the point where I have to pay attention, and I did not do anything like starting mom's bolero.  

Rather, I dug in my bags and found the toe of a sock.  It was a toe I had started while traveling this summer.  I used the two yarns to make these previously.

I gave these away, and the original plan was to make another pair for myself.  But when I picked it up yesterday, I just was not thinking Ugly Duckling.  It is fun to knit, but I just wanted something different.

And so I went a Raveling....which as we all know, can take a long time. 

By the time I came up for air, a plan was at hand and this is what happened next.

They are the Broken Seed Stitch Socks.    Kind of neat, isn't it?

And that was my day.  Between the naps that is.  

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Carter's sweater

I have finished another sweater for Carter.  Carter, however is just in a growth spurt, again, and will probably grow another inch overnight. This little boy always seems to be growing.  Funny that.

If you recall,
The last sweater I knit for Carter fit a little close.  That was in June.  Sleepers that were too large for him in June, are almost too short now.

I tried to knit this sweater larger, better, longer.  I followed the style, but not the pattern for this one.

As you can see the knitting is finished, but the sweater isn't completed.  It needs ends woven in, and I think I am going to do a row of crochet along the neck edge, just to give it a little more substance.  I might do it on the hemline and cuffs too, but it is almost ready for delivery!

And it will fit too, so long as my sweet little boy doesn't grow too much! 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Tickles my fancy

My mom is a stylish woman.  Little old lady describes me far more than it does her.  And she has shopping sense.  She can go out and find good things everywhere.  (I think shopping is her hobby.)  She went out a couple weeks ago and found an absolutely stunning dress and she wanted a little bolero to go with it.

She told me this when I met them for a few days in Enderby BC right before the yarn experience that is A Twist of Yarn.  I picked up some yarn right there and then.  Seldom is there an opportunity to do something like this for mom.  She is a decisive shopper.  The only reason I get a chance is that she hasn't been able to find anything she likes in the right size.  

The yarn is Hempton from Hemp for Knitting.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.

I love how ordinary cotton feels.  I love how linen feels.  But this is really quite unique and wonderful.  It slips through your hands.  It really does slip.  It is lusturous and you just don't expect that in a yarn from a plant fibre.  This blend?   It is.  The blend of hemp, cotton and modal is just bang on for all the qualities that anybody would want to knit for against the skin wear.  I am looking forward to working with it.

One for colour, one to see the texture.  Mom says just a little more airy, so I will redo the swatch one size needle up.  I might make a small change too, to a texture pattern I saw on a top I have long admired.  Summer Trilogy, Part II.  If you go to the second from last photo, you get a great closeup of the texture pattern used.  It's not quite as busy as the two row seed stitch I tried above and I think it would show off the really lovely sheen of this great yarn just a little better.

With moms dress, and this yarn, if it was me I was making the bolero for, I would go with something like this design for the way the yarn could drape.  Mom has a different vision and a more trim silhouette in mind. She knows the way things lay across her bosom better than I, and she far prefers the definition of a set in sleeve.  What she has chosen is going to be great.  The exact pattern she chose is not really available to me.  I had it.  I honestly had that magazine issue, but it was part of the great weeding and did not make the trip to my wee house.  It is so similar to this one though, that I have complete confidence that I can make the small changes she wants.

I will dispense with the crocheted edging which is featured here and will go with something much simpler and trimmer but it is fundamentally this pattern.

I have to laugh.  We communicated about the project on facebook.  We pinned the project gallery from Ravelry on Pintrest.  We sent pictures by SMS.  We are using a lot of new technology to talk about it.  What we have not done so far is talk about it on the phone or discuss it in person!  All this technology to make a hand knit.

This confluence of technologies and hand work tickles my fancy and that is how it's getting recorded on Raverly for posterity.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Top Down reimagining set-in sleeve design

We'll get the old stuff out of the way.
That is the story of my day yesterday.
Create bag.  Have yarn left.  Make dishcloth.  Call it done.

I don not regret the passing of this yarn.  I have many useful articles from it.  Many.  Many, many.


I listen to the Knitmore Girls podcast and on one of their last episodes before their mat leave, they reviewed a new book and I had to have it.  I buy books carefully these days.  There just isn't room anywhere for more books, so an actual book had better be something I really am pleased with.

I purchased the book on their recommendation and have to say, if I weren't so excited by this book, I would be filled with something akin to the quiet satisfaction with a sound purchase.  I am much too thrilled with this book to be quiet!

Wow.  just wow.

Elizabeth takes you through the fundamental differences between sleeve cap design knit bottom up and top down.  She explores everything to make sleeves fit perfectly.  Everything is there, all the little bits that will help you make it fit you rather than you ending up close but no cigar.  And then at the back of the books she walks you through all the things to consider making adjustments.

She walks you through gauge swatches more completely than I have ever seen done before. This section is quite simply, beautiful.

The Knitmores spoke about the quality of photography in this book.  They are so very right.  No dark places and dramatic makeups.  Elegant simplicity is the rule of the day.  The sweaters rule these photos and each sweater is shown front, back, sides special touches.  All the things you wish you could see are there and each photo turns the little touches and incredibly simple detail into fine art.

The book is published by Quince and Co and their yarns are used exclusively in the book. If you ever have visited the Quince and Co website, you will see that everything here is infused with the aesthetic of their vision.  And that may very well be my favourite thing.  A full and complete vision of who they are is reflected here in every facet.

To say I am pleased is putting it mild.  This is the kind of book that will become a classic.