Sunday, 30 December 2007
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Thus, the TV sock came into being. All acrylic, more of a slipper than a sock, these slightly large, blue shortie socks came into being. He'll get his cotton socks as soon as the yarn arrives in the New Year.
And then final shots of a few gift items. The in laws gifts, and mom's scarf. Dad, sorry, but yours are still most determinedly in skein phase yet. I'll work on those this week.
And then, I have been given a wealth of gifts for Christmas, shown here piled all together, and still to arrive in the mail just into the New Year. Mr. Needles gave me some books - he let me chose which, from Needle Arts Book Shop. From son 1 and girlfriend, I got these. Drops Alpaca, in a soft white, and a wonderful blue. First thing I thought of was the Arctic Lace book from Mostlylurking. There is a head cover that this alpaca would look lovely done up in. Or a mobeius scarf. Wouldn't that look great in something lacy soft in this?
From Son 2, these wonderfully brilliant Lucy Neatby Yarns. These are going to make me wild socks. Absolutely wild colours, and you know, my life is ready for some wild. Sock wild has to be the best kind of wild. Small, almost hidden but there it is, showing off anyhow, if only people choose to see. I can't wait.
And from Son3 and wife a whole basket of treats. Yarn, booklets, Dolly mamas all beautifully put together, in that gorgeous basket, so well wrapped that even though it was some of that clear basket wrap, I could not see what the heck was in there (Trust me I tried. On the sly. When no one was looking) But, oh when I opened it, I felt rich. I immediately pulled out the Dolly Mama. I love these. And the one they choose, well, I'm still giggling over. It says 'I used up all my sick days, so I'm calling in dead' (the Dolly Mama site is really interesting!).
There was a booklet, Trendsetting Totes. How did you know I needed the bag book? I really do. I'm at the beer bag limit. I need something with divided sections so things don't get tangled up, and these patterns for crocheted bags are so right on target. I probably looked distracted and I don't know if you understood but I wasn't there in the room anymore.
I was making bags of the tweedy yarn, and the black and red yarn. I could see that in a couple of the bags from the book and my mind was already designing the insides, and figuring the beads. The tweedy yarn is going to make a wonderful small tote (the blue bag on the cover)... and that black and red? One of the bags shown in black on the cover with the lines of beads, I think. Or maybe the one shown in purple with the flap, or the yellow one. Too early to really decide for sure. I'll make the tweedy bag, and see how that size finishes up and then I'll know which pattern will be the size I'm looking for. Or maybe... well I'll leave that for another day.
And linings. Just think of the possibilities these colours give me for linings!!
My kids, if you doubt how much I love these gifts, know this. I wasn't really there. Ask me what I remember of your gifts to each other. Ask me how I almost missed that Son3s gift was still under the tree, and how you had to pull me back to figure out what I had wrapped up for him. I wasn't there in that room at all. I was dreaming. Yarn is dreams and possibilities, from the simple acrylic in its steadfast and solid self, to the finest Alpaca lace weight, and all the things in between. They have a place and a home here in my little corner of the world.
The gift you really gave, each and every one of you, was dreams. The gift was imagination. The gift is permission to waste my time wisely.
There are no better gifts than that.
And now, the Needles' are off to points far away to visit parents. We are abadoning Son1 to live off of cold turkey leftovers and candy, while we laugh and talk and work with some of the many others so very important to us.
Friday, 21 December 2007
Which is really neat because tonite might very well be loose ends night with all the projects. Some are already wending on their way as presents, one has already been given, and loved.
SS loved the Soft green of the Misti Alpaca, and the warmers and Calorimetry were perfect fits. I really enjoy when people like the things I make them. I take as much pleasure in their enjoyment as I do in the making.
Anyway, I'll probably have some pictures on the morrow, after the loose ends are worked, and I do have about another 10 inches or so to do on the scarf, and then there is a pair of socks. Its all very do-able...
if only I don't clean my house. Our worst was the year we were still painting on Christmas Eve. We already set a low standard and a tradition, so this year will be just part of the routine Holdiay spirit! What the heck, who says you can't do Christmas in a messy house?
Thursday, 20 December 2007
This is what is going on at my house. Just another evening on the cashmere scarf, and then I have to decide about socks. One more pair of socks.
I will have a lot of cashmere left. The scarf is only a shortie, the kind of thing you wear under your coat to keep the chill off your neck. The giftee is, I believe a tucker. A good thing too. I'm thinking of making some gloves with what is left. But no way will those be done for Christmas.
I have one pattern at home for gloves in a copy of Interweave Knits, but they are made of cotton. I'll have to search the net for some freebie glove patterns.
I only discovered knitting on the Internet in spring, so I am at least 10,000 light years behind everyone else. The good free pattern sites that I know of so far are:
Crochet Me (of course Gina, what was I thinking)
Knitting Wisdom (Thanks mostlylurking, it looks very interesting)
If you know of more, let me know, but free sites like these, which either have, or link to free patterns are one of the nicest things I've discovered in my journey to knitting.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Giving gifts during this season has roots in the giving of St. Nicholas. His legacy, be it real or mythical was that he gave. Period. Somewhere along the way we lost that part.
Too often we give because we should. We fall into the 'what would people think' trap. We give because we are pretty sure others will give us a gift and it feels wrong to receive without giving in return. We want to give, we enjoy giving, but we worry is it going to be all right, are they going to like it. We ask for a list of things they might like, but pretty soon, the list starts feeling like demands, and unrealistic ones at that. Those kinds of feelings mean that our Christmases are tarnished, and we feel a lot more like Scrooge than we ought.
Ever feel that the most precious gift was not what you received, but what you gave to someone else? I had that chance this year.
I have a group of imaginary friends over at the Achenblog. Its a group of people who read the writer, Joel Achenbach's Washington Post blog pretty much daily. On most blogs there is the writer and the reader. Seldom do readers connect in significant ways, through comments. Achenblog, from its inception was different. The writer graciously accepted the commenters talking among themselves, responding back and forth, occasionally squabbling, but mostly sharing very civil commentary. Along the way we have become friends. There have been highs and Rovestorm like lows, but it has become an Internet home. I share coffee with them everyday at my desk. These people of all walks of life, of every background, of many beliefs, from every social strata, are my very best imaginary (and not so imaginary) friends. For all our differences we are equal on the big friendly Achenblog porch.
I gave a small token as part of a group gift to one of our members this year. Gifting to her was something I was not required to do, something no one asked me for. Rather, gifting her was something I was offered, something I was given the opportunity to do.
Giving to her was a gift I was given by a whole lot of really nice people. Giving one small thing to her, I got back 10,000 tiny pieces of joy which seem to break open, **pop** and little sparkles sprinkle through moments of my day. I owe my entire season and all the simple contented joy I'm finding in small silly things, to the glow of those little sparkly bits illuminating every corner of my world.
I wish all of you that this year. I hope that you get the gift of one small opportunity and that whatever you do because of that opportunity will light up your world.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
The Misti Alpaca was one of those really great yarns. Working with it felt like my hands were jumping into downy warmth. I hope there will be more of that down the road.
Handmaiden Cashmere is so wonderful is one too. This is a 2 ply silk and cashmere blend that they don't appear to be making right now, though they do carry a 4 ply. This yarn is so light and airy that it almost isn't there as I work with it. It magically appears as stitches and rows below the needles making a fabric that is soft and buttery, and oh so very smooth against my hands. Its going to make a wonderful gift.
This is the third incarnation of working with this yarn. The colourway did not adapt well to the stitch I choose to crochet, nor to the second one, so it seemed knitting would be it. I did think about trying something from Arctic Lace, but at this point, I'm going with the lace that I could remember. I still am going to have to boogie to get this one and one last pair of socks done. It's only 2 small projects. No problemo right?
A close up, which displays exactly how good a knitter I am not. My decreases are not at all decent. (I am going searching for help on that after the holidays) I am not a master, I'm not even a journey man. I'm not sure I could even put me in the apprentice category. Nah, I'm really just like the guy who fixes things in the backyard. It works but it isn't going to look like new.
With string I can be fearless, and if I fail, well it is only string after all. I jump in, eyes closed to everything else and just enjoy the trip. In my wake I leave behind a few nice things and a a trail of tiny little strings on the floor.
Monday, 17 December 2007
If you look hard enough the tops of the wrist warmers, they seem a little loose. My hand model, the redoubtable SS (you recall her from this post ), has tiny dainty hands (which probably morph) and very fine arms, but if I recall correctly the giftee also has fine hands. If needed, I can do quick and easy adjustments. I can narrow the width of the palm of the hand, and shorten the chain loops for the ties if needed to get to a perfect fit.
I will try to get better pictures from the giftee, but for now these will have to suffice. They are far far nicer than the pictures show and there is nothing yet in knitting that has pleased me so well. They are stunning and I am so glad I made the attempt and did not give up.
The weekend was so much more. Sunday morning I did these in that nice thick quick to work up chunky weight Misti Alpaca I picked up the other day. Calorimetry, for a second time (I like this pattern and this giftee likes wearing it), and a set of wrist warmers from the leftover bits. I may make these a bit longer in the arms, I do have a bit of wool left, but I will wait and see if they meet the needs of the giftee first.
Tthe swift that Mr Needles made saw action. The Handmaiden is wound. I worked with the yarn for a bit, but I can't say I'm content with the pattern I've chosen. That is today's goal. Find a pattern more suited to display the lovely colours of this yarn, and then knit my buns of before Christmas.
I know I said if I finished it, I finished it, that I wouldn't stress about it, but there still is the wish to finish just one more gift for one more person. I'll have plenty of time to knit over the holidays. Thankfully our office closes down from the 21st to the 2nd of January, and we will be doing a lot of traveling, and I will be sitting with my mother in law for a couple or three days. These things will give me long stretches of work time, so if someone doesn't get something right at Christmas, they will get it just after. There is also my shawl to finish and some non-holiday socks, for me in the bag, begging for time.
I'm looking forward to January, when I can begin the project for my daughter in law, of the soft and luscious Rowan Bamboo tape. And that green Cascade 220 will turn into something lovely for SS. And then there is all that other nice yarn, the new green lace alpaca yarn and that delicious Arctic Lace book, and some Zephyr lace, and well, a bunch of stuff in the stash.
I really am going to finish some other work too. My hardanger pillow keeps calling to me, and there are some other pillow designs I mean to make for the reading nook in my study. I'm thinking a knitted lace, in a pure and unsullied white, with a soft blue lining, maybe a knitted ruffle...
I'm getting myself into trouble just thinking about it. A little of this sort of trouble is very good for the soul.
Friday, 14 December 2007
If I were a grumpy sort, I'd leave everything up that I posted first thing this morning. But I am not and its the holidays, and I'm tired of being grumpy. Besides after a wee bit of knitting while I was waiting for reports, the 3rd go round of the hand warmers is going to be just right.
And so far better than my earlier post, here is a treat for you.
Late Breaking Fairy Tales:
The knitter awoke before dawn and heard faint cries. The knitter could not make out what the sound was, but she thought it must be a soft winter breeze stirring blowing warm air her way. The voices started very faint, soft. She kept listening and the calls grew stronger. Finally just before lunch, the voices were a bit louder and the knitter heard what the voices said. 'Free me' said one voice. 'Help me' said another. The calls were so urgent and so sorrowful that knitter knew she had to go. The knitter followed the soft but urgent cries, down the path, across the river to a small but very friendly looking sort of shop.
The knitter kept going, wandering around, following the voices. Finally she thought she found the voice calling softly 'free me'. She saw it was poor lonely slightly handled hank of Handmaiden 2 ply Silk Cashmere from the high hangers in the sock yarn corner. It cried out for release. It told the knitter that it had just one wish in life. It just wanted the chance to be made into something for someone special, for someone who would love it and care for it for always. The knitter knew she could do this for the yarn. She knew there was a special someone out there that would treasure this yarn and what would be made from it.
The knitter still heard the voice saying 'Help me', so she kept looking. The Handmaiden softly whispered 'lower, far down'.
There on the bottom tray of the sweet little yarn rack in a basket was the last of its kind.One sad lonely skein of Lang Mille Colori. Mille was afraid it was going to be tossed into the bin of ends, in the dark back of the shop where it would perish among the bin of single skeins of sock yarn. It was worried. It begged the knitter, 'take me with you, help me find something I can be with'.
There in the back corner among all the fancy yarns, the silks and the laces, sat a big soft sage Misti Alpaca Chunky. It was surrounded by friends and family, Misti's of all sizes and twists, Alpacas of many brands, but it turned and saw the little orphan skein of Mille Colori. It jumped up and gave the Mille a big hug, and said 'I'll be your friend'. It didn't care one bit that it was 100 % baby alpaca, and Mille was a 50% wool- 50% acrylic mix. It felt that all yarns were really the same inside. The wise Misti knew that yarns all just wanted to be something warm and soft.
So the Knitter, Handmaiden, Misti and Mille, all went to the counter to take care of the bill. Misti and Mille found a tidy corner where they are right this very minute having a good getting to know you chat about their hopes and dreams. Handmaiden is right there with them, but she busy just now checking out the needles in the comfy work bag they are sitting in, and the knitter is dreaming of just what comes next.
Thursday, 13 December 2007
My tree though, is touches of lace and I really enjoy its delicacy.
The angels and a few other little snowflakes are tatted.
I learned to tat last fall after having a tatting shuttle in my work bag since 1974. It too was just something I could not quite understand. Once given the basics, I felt like a duck in water, and love the little rings of its dainty nature. My teacher was a master tatter. It was she who told me about Nordic Needles online as a great source for tatting. Its a superior source for all kinds of neat things.
I have some ball cover patterns in tatting on the to do list, but knitting got in the way. I planned for a few more snowflakes, but knitting got in the way. I have dozens of incomplete things that I mean to finish, but, well, knitting seems to have consumed me. There is so much to learn, and I have tons more still to experience, but soon, there will be much work on some of these other things. I love them just as well. Now if I can just stop coming up with interesting things to knit!
I got a good start on the hand warmers this morning. They will have the same lac pattern as the scarf, best displayed here. Annie Modesitt's pattern from her lace class (the black and silver doesn't take good photos).Because the set of scarf and hand warmers are of man made yarns, I've had to think through how I was going to fit these to her tiny hands. Remember my little black lace thing from long ago? My plan there was to use a ribbon to close up the arm part of the wristlet. I saw a pattern on Ravelry that did the same thing up the whole of the warmer, and that will work here. The laces will compensate for the lack of stretchiness in the yarn. Doing it the whole way up the warmer might just solve my long standing problem with the lacy black wristlet. When I realized that yesterday, my hope for the project that was and now once again is the reason I learned to knit, is reborn.
So I'm going to work a bunch over the next two days to get these wristlets knit up, and then I will decide if the over part that Curlerchik uses so well, will look right. I still like the idea, but I'm a little concerned that the lacing will be to much fussiness with the over skirt. The lacing is a feature all on its own, and two big design features on one small hand seems to much.
Beads? Well I can see beads running up the edges, alternating silver and black (I found the right size beads!!!) in a bit of a wave to echo the lace. Or maybe all along the lacy waves. I'm going to knit i-cord with one of those funny little i-cord knitting things, of crochet cotton, to use for lacing. I'll bead the last inch of that too.
You know what? As I write this, I realize how very clearly my direction forward is. What was just a thought from yesterday, an informal start to a plan, is a picture in my head complete and lovely on her hand. I really hope she likes these.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
I am absolutely enchanted by Arctic Lace. I'm not ready to review it yet, there is just too much there for a morning review. Saturday I'll sit down and really write about the book. The insta-meter rating is Treble, verging on Double Treble.
While I'm busy being enchanted by the book, I'll let you be enchanted by these. Snowflakes that you never have to shovel and others.
In a lot of the pictures, you see the garland I posted about before.
You will see that the lacy bits on the garland are definitely not starched, not even ironed. Most distressingly, several pictures display the dainty tips which hint at icicles, pointing up.
Sometimes things are just better not mentioned to ones garlander and light person. Well not at my house anyway.
What a garland such as this really needs is a good stiff blocking, perhaps some spray starch (though I don't like how that coats the beads) and then it really needs to be hung on branches from an ornament hanger. Maybe next year. I'll aim for starched next year. Or maybe ironed.
But don't hold me to it.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
It was from my friend Mostlylurking. I was expecting an envelope from her. She emailed to let me know it was on the way, she claimed it was small, just some little things she found that she thought might interest me. This is what I was expecting. There are at least 4 new to me stitches in the little crochet booklet. The Lion Brand booklet of afghans is great. The designs are all based on quilt patterns and I know of two that were instantly on the do list. There are probably more. I liked these books, but I found myself distracted.
The rest of the 'little' package was filled with this.As I opened the little gift wrapped packages, I cried. I touched that lace yarn and cried at its softness. The greens have stayed remarkably true to colour but the soft greys are a wee bit more prominent than they really are.
This lovely Fino alpaca and silk is like looking into the forest in the back yard. Deep, soft colours where surely mists cling. Enchanting yarn.
She sent needles too. 3.25 mm circular needles of bamboo. These lovely things are not at all related to the bamboo needles I have at home. These glow in your hands and are warm and light and whisper, knit with me.
And she sent me some of these, which delight me to no end.
And finally, there was the book, Arctic Lace. It's more than a book. It is history, it is ancient stories, it is culture then and now of the people who were there before Alaska.It is also the story of a positive movement to make the lives of women in villages better. It is also the story of lace and fabric, and using what the land and nature gives you.
I'll tell you more later, but right now, I'm just going to hug this book to my heart, this yarn and these other little treats to my heart, and I am going to bask in the warmth of a thought, a gift from a friend.
Yes my friend Mostlylurking has an odd sense of the true size of things. Anyone who knows her would agree that her sense of size is based on the size of her heart. Her heart is quite simply, big.
So sometimes I guess I cry when I get mail, but its all good. Really really good.
Monday, 10 December 2007
There are so many good patterns for wrist warmers out there. Tons, myriads. They are a wonderful project in crochet and knitting. Small time requirements, you can use wool you deem expensive because they take little, and there is a lot of room for creativity. Cables and lacy stitches show up very well and can result in a project for warmth or for dressy looks.
I'm not sure how this man made yarn will work up into warmers. I'm sure it will be fine, but I do have to make them very close to size because the yarn simply does not have the stretch that any wool fabric does. there is a pattern for driving gloves in cotton in the summer Interweave Knits that I'm going to use as my guide to size, and beyond that, well, the underpart is going to be plain. The over part, well, I'm anticipating a lot of fun.
I was looking for beads, but found none in the size that will show up nicely on this yarn. I had seen leaf shapes, but by the time I went back to Micheals, they were gone, though I did pick up some silver disks that might do the trick. I'm a little worried that they will look too flashy. I also found some very tiny seed beads in the perfect colour but they are too small to show up on the yarn, and too tiny to work in. If It gets down to these tiny beads as the finishing touch, they will be worked on some very fine black thread in at least 2 layers of alternating loops. But there will be some kind of snazzy edging.
I will post pictures of my adventures on the morrow. That is just how this feels. Adventurous, like there is so much of the world out there just waiting for me to see.
I almost forgot! I've been waiting since May to blog my Christmas tree. There will also be some seriously Christmas posts this week too.
Friday, 7 December 2007
On to a second scarf. This is in Patons Brilliant, an acrylic, nylon and polyester yarn. Up front it has a very different feel than the delicious Colinette. It not bad, just different. Cooler, and dryer, more firm feeling as it runs past your hands. The yarn itself is not a typical spun yarn. Its a braided kind of yarn, and will unravel if it you pull on the fine threads at the end. To stop that unraveling I had to tie a very samll tight knot. I'm working this up on 4.5 mm needles, and I find I do have to take some care to go through the full thickness of the yarn, rather than splitting the threads with my needle tips.
While this might strike some as a drawback, I am interested to see how this works up. This is my first work with with this kind of braided yarn, and down the road, I have the Rowan Babmboo Tape, which is constructed in a similaiar fashion. I have a feeling learning to work with Brilliant is going to be great training for my plans for that gorgeous stuff.
Every yarn has its blessings. This yarn? It is holding its shape really nicely, and the stitch definition is great. The lace waves are going to show off very nicely. The little glittery threads running through the yarn is adding just the right amount of flair. This won't be a snuggle into winter sort of scarf, but an accessory scarf, an scarf to wear those days when you want to add just a little drama to your ensemble, but not a lot of flash. This scarf is going to work with very formal dresses or with simple tops for going for coffee and desert with friends. Just right for the eventual giftee.
The scarf is just part 1. Part two is going to be some wrist warmers. I'd love the look to end up a bit like this super idea from Curlerchik (scroll down to Nov 13th). I'll have to see what can supply the light and lacy topper look in a plant or man made fibre, but right now I'm thinking rayon embroidery floss.
I look at the picture and I wonder if this project is calling for some beads, silver or silver lined clear beads scattered on the ends of the scarf, and as Curlerchik does so well on those dainty warmers. Hmmm.
Thursday, 6 December 2007
I picked up this book from one of the best needle work sources on the net. Nordic Needle is a major force in the hardanger and embroidery world, but they also carry a few other goodies. The book is Classic Knits for Real Women . Since I must have cleared the last copy from Nordic Needles (it's no longer on the website), I've linked to the Needle Arts Bookshop link for this book.
This is a book that is sized for those of us from a 36 inch bust to a 46 inch bust. As you can see by the pictures, the sweaters are classic shapes, simple, easy to wear anyplace. Good sold design for regular women. Nothing bold and vivid here. Delicate colours and soft subtle shapes and waist lines in natural yarns. The designs should give us the feminine form we desire without clinging to the squidgy bits.
It's not that there is nothing funky here. There is in spades. There are some interesting collar designs, a funky hat and scarf set done in a loop stitch that is meant for those with a great deal of flair among us, a fringe edging that I can see all kinds of places to use. BUT these funky attributes update the look of these classic pieces, funky is not intrinsic to the design. In each case, a much simpler edging, or collar could be used, to give you a great classic design.
Besides the funkier innovations, there are fine delicate little touches. Beads, textured stitches, cables, and touches of lace add to the look. It isn't just sweaters, as the name implies. There are some nice designs for scarves, a scattering of crocheted items, and a couple of bag designs too.
The book says exactly what it is, classic designs. This book targets those of us who are by nature or time of life, more sedate, more settled. It isn't a book for the young and trendy, though there are things here that speak to that part in all of us.
This book ranks as a solid Double Crochet for me. Its conservative style holds a strong appeal. BUT, if you are interested in more innovative things, you may want to check it out from a library before you buy.
More work on the scarf. The ball is getting very small, and before the end of the day, I ought to be finished.
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
We have done 2 trees for a few years. The 'beast' with its more than 6 foot span across the bottom, and one upstairs in the living room. I don't know about the beast this year. I love the ornaments we use there, but the basement is in such disarray. Son 1 has stuff everywhere, and I don't know if I'm up to cleaning it away to set a tree up.
My living room tree is the one that gets the special treatment. All red white and sliver. Yes it has a theme, and its decorator but its pretty, and sparkly, and I like it a lot. I still have not starched the bead and crochet garland. Maybe tonite. Or maybe not. If it goes on un-starched, well, so it goes. Except for a few balls, Its snowflakes and other lacy things. I'm starting to feel like Christmas.
I will show you pictures over the next few days, I hope as well as the finished scarf, and the next project, and some more socks....
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
After such a very short time, there are feet of it, miles even. And it simply works!
This scarf is everything that keeps people coming back to knitting. It looks complex, but I know the secret of its simplicity. All the feet of it means I stayed dedicated to the task and when its done, it is a thing of such loveliness and delicacy that I intend to be fully and absolutely amazed that it was made by my hand. Everything about a project like this lacy scarf shouts I am here and I am good. On those days when you need a little confirmation that you are OK, this scarf, this lace is just the ticket.
This scarf with all its feet, its loveliness and its simplicity is a meditation for me. Its a time of quiet where I can submerge myself into the simple repeats and its tidy stitches and block out everything but the string and the needles. Getting so deep into a thing on my needles opens my brain to see the other threads of my life. I see the little blips better, I see where the pattern is getting off track, I can see where the fabric I create is no longer pleasing to me. Submerging into this lace, into my embroideries, and into those many chains of a ruffled pillow edge, lets me question if the fabric I will look back on as I weave the final threads of my life are good. Is it something I am proud to say was mine.
Lately I've not been happy with my fabric. Its not bad, its not unpleasing in all its many little sections, but the parts of the fabric aren't fitting together, the colours jar, the angles are too sharp, the scale is a little off. I've known this for a while now, but I have not been able to understand the next pattern, I have not been able to work through the next step. It seemed as if all my strings were tied up in knots.
Playing intensively with yarns, by crochet, by knitting, by reading and feeling part of this community of crocheters and knitters, I started to see that if I am displeased that I can set it aside. I don't have to work with the bad wool I feel I have had running through my fingers. Someone out there is going to love this wool, and someone out there is going to make something beautiful with it. Just because I don't really love it anymore, doesn't mean it does not have its charms, that it is not a fine and beautiful thing just waiting to happen. For someone else.
I handed in my notice yesterday. I feel lighter than air, I feel like my back is standing straighter today. It took a long time to let go of this very good but demanding and intricate position, and it will be some time before we find the right replacement. I will not leave before me and the powers that be feel comfortable with the choice. But we are looking, and I see the finish line. I have hope, and that feels very very good.
It won't be possible for me to not work. The intensive reading of this job is no longer physically possible for me though, so I need to change scope, look at other things, and find a new way to earn a living. I feel really good. I know that I will land on my feet, and I know that this time I will take better care of me, while I am taking care of the bills.
The one thing I am going to make absolutely certain of? There will be much more time for crocheting, knitting and whatever embroidery and other string play that should happen to come along.
This is a great scarf. I see the beauty in its simple intricacy. That is where I am going. That is what I want.
Monday, 3 December 2007
Friday evening I took Son 2 out for his birthday. He taught me how to use chopsticks, and how to best open those cool little tubular sugars packets, and how to use my stupid cell phone. We also discussed how I might be the only person in the world who has yet to figure out how to get photos from my phone, to my computer, AND who has actually taken pictures of her computer screen to use as a wall paper for her phone. We had a lovely time, even if he spent most of it laughing at me.
I went home and worked on socks for the rest of the evening. Saturday by 10, both socks were done, so I played a little on Ravelry, where I am canadiannneedles. I uploaded most of my stash.
Playing with my stash led me to wanting something nicer than socks for the next gift for a lady. I had this really fine Colinette yarn, in Velvet Damson, just crying out to me, begging to be more than socks. A search on Ravelry led me to a pattern, The Tiger Eye Scarf from Stitchin Girl. I worked on that for a few hours, but kept making an error, and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.
I left that behind for the pattern Annie Modesitt uses in her class. Thank you Annie, because look here!
I have knit feet of this already. What an absolutely marvelous pattern for a gift, fast, almost brainless, but with enough interest to keep you going. As I work along I'm working out the little problem I seem to be having with decreases, where the edge is not very tidy. If I work a wee bit more firmly on my purl rows, the edge on the decreases which are leaning to the left become nice and even. I love the edging she showed us in the class. Its gives the sides wonderful body. I opted for garter stitch to begin with, because I am not yet satisfied at how my i-cord casts on looks, but you can't have everything all at once.
I can do quite a lot in a hour of work, so this one is going to be my lunchtime project. First intentional gift down, and onto the second, and looking for a good timely completion. I'm very very pleased with the way the weekend worked out.
And yes, I will have more of this kind of Colinette yarn in my stash as soon as the holidays are done.
Friday, 30 November 2007
I have been thinking about toes though. I greatly prefer toe up socks. Part of it is that I am avoiding ribbing as a way to begin, but also it's the nature of a toe itself.
I don't use anyones fancy anything for a toe recipe. I just cast on 8-12 stitches and knit them one way, pick up the back loops and use that to knit down the other side, and then increase one stitch at either side till I have enough stitches. Its simple and produces a pleasing line of bumps at the toe. Some may not like it but I do.
But its more than starting with a few stitches. I like toes because its interesting to start with just a few small stitches, and magically watch it grow as you work around. I like that when I add stitches by working one in the front loop and one in the back loop, a lovely row of stitches forms up the side of the toe, to give it a little depth. I love how I can make this toe fit my very squarish toes, without even thinking about it. I love that I don't have to think about whether this is the round I increase, or work even.
Someday I might give a try to the Star Toe I keep reading about, someday I might vary toes by people, and there is always the possibility that I will get tired of this toes. I'm a long way from that still. I'll just keep going as I am for a while. I knit for comfort, for ease, for stillness and quiet. And this toe is all of those things.
I am enchanted by the toe of socks. It's the second best magic of socks. It might not seem like much, but there are two kinds of grandness in this world. Large grandeur like mountains and mighty rivers and far vistas, and then the grandness of small things, like the puff of a breeze on a spring day, or the stem of a prairie crocus, all fuzzy and soft, or the red of the rose leaves just before they fall.
It doesn't take much to inspire me. In fact sometimes I am more inspired by the small things as I move my way through the world.
I surely am inspired by sock toes. Beginning a toe, inspires the end.
Thursday, 29 November 2007
There was a day not long ago, somewhere about February I think, that someone linked me to knitting online. At the time I did not knit, and the only online yarn source I ever heard of was Mary Maxim. It's OK, you can laugh, and you may want to tidy up after you spewed your coffee, but it never occurred to me, that anything like this knitterly yarny world existed online. Call me 10 kinds of a Dunce, but I never ever thought about googling it. I'm a googler newbie, a novice, a dunderhead. My only defence is that I had painful dial up at home, and almost all of my Internet is at work. (Its weak, I know, but it is all I've got) Once exposed, knitting online was a good virus.
Knitting online led me to so many great yarn and needlework sources, Red Bird Knits , Knitpicks, Webs, and then all the small sites, the specialty yarns, like Blue Moon and all the wonderful sellers on Etsy and Ebay. Online led me to a great LYS, and some wonderful people who are taking me, screaming, one step at a time, to knowing knitting.
I really enjoy getting the mail and even now I wait for a book. Each day I stop at the boxes down the road, and open my little mail cubicle, and sometimes there is magic. Occasionally there is magic that I'm not expecting.
My first Seed catalogue for 2008. I have ordered from T&T for 25 years. Back to the days of the farm, when 10 50 foot rows of peas was the norm. When gardening was vegetables, and potatoes were staples. Its all flowers now, but that;'s ok. Veggies need sun, and I don't have a lot of that. T & T are great source of short season seeds for the Canadian climate. This years catalogue is so new the website isn't updated, but I have it in my hot little fingers. Here in the cold of the northern hemisphere, before the depths of winter, just as the darkest dark descends, I'm thinking solidly, Spring. Excuse me while I go jump up and down for joy.
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
That is how I feel. Ailing. Like an overtired child, I have nothing to grump about and yet, I'm grumpy anyway. I'm currently deciding if I will get over it, only I haven't been able to put a finger on just what 'it' is. I'm restless, and tetchy, and would chew out St. Nick if he looks at me wrong. I could list a hundred things, and and none of them are it.
A lot of people think its the cold that they run from as they rush off on winter vacations. I like the cold. Well reasonable cold anyway. Even down to -23 I can live with. It wouldn't be a real season if it didn't spend some time at bitterly cold. I don't want to run from the cold.
I want to run from the dark. I hate this time of year at this latitude. I can't imagine how I would cope way up north. I only know, this increasing darkness as December comes calling makes me feel as if I am a bear. I just want to hibernate, and hide out, and snuggle into something warm and comfy and stay there till the the sun is a little higher in the sky and stays up a little longer.
This is the time of year when all I really want is January.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
That crisp white toe just makes me laugh. Laughing is good, since it will put happy thoughts into this sock. Happy socks will mean happy feet, right?
Its sort of a welcome relief to knit plain and simple socks out of big yarn.
I might do simple socks again. I have a fair bit of yarn from the vest, 3 or 4 skeins bought when it wasn't going to be all the Ragg acrylic, that ended up being a different dye lot (I know I know, I have a history) . That yarn ought to make great tv watching socks. Its soft, its fairly thick and its very sturdy and washable. Our basement has very chilly floors, and the big animal slippers we got as gifts a few years ago are pretty much worn out so warm super thick socks are on the NEED list. They'll also make good socks for those among my family who don't wear animal fibres.
I'm going to ignore the shawl for a wee bit. I'm not filled with love for it at the moment. Sort of like the vest. Its a great yarn bound up in a stupid counting error. I'm thinking kindergarten would be good for the next class I take. 1....2...3...
If anyone out there knows of a great non animal fibre sock yarn, let me know. I'm looking.
Monday, 26 November 2007
But maybe that is the problem. Maybe it is a yarn that likes to be worked. Maybe its afraid of ending up sitting in the closet to be taken out and stroked before going back onto the shelf. No yarn, this is not the case. You are meant to be a shawl of much use, and wear. You are going to be the shawl of warmth at my desk.
Then again, maybe it is clinging to its aspirations of grandeur. It is after all some seriously fine yarn, and it is amazing to work with, and so soft and smooth and warm that I await its delights with bated breath each morning. Maybe its wants to be with other wondrous works of beauty sitting on shelves in closets to be taken out and displayed in all its shawly grandness only on special occasions.
Sigh, I only know I love this yarn but I am incapable of counting it. Here and now, let me state that I will never attempt anything like this again without putting in markers all over the place. I should have had markers every 10 stitches all the way along. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.
Saturday morning I contemplated completion. The yarn ball is rapidly decreasing, and I want to have enough left to make an i-cord for the neck edge. I decided to count, and yup, one side has 6 stitches more than the other. I made probably made the error 2 or 3 days ago. After a short search, I found the culprit, marked it, and then put the darn thing aside. I will frog later this week when I have the heart for it.
Lessons learned knitting a shawl are surely going to include how to love frogging without really trying. Its a highly under rated skill in knitting. And crocheting. However in crocheting, even the really long rows go a lot faster. the long rows on this shawl means at least 6 hours of reknitting.
On the upside, I didn't have a lot of time to knit anyway. It was Grey cup so there were a few extra mouths to feed, and it was time to work on some socks. The grey ones for my father-in-law are coming along nicely. No way am I going to make it using only 1 ball of grey yarn, so I decided that I will make the change to the slightly darker ball around the ankle. That way, both sock will have slightly lighter feet, and darker calves. They will at least match. To that end, I started working the new yarn on alternate rows. The slight heather of the colour is making the switch disappear, I'm glad to say. Now that I am on the calf, and fully in the darker yarn, you can't see the difference at all. Its a good trick and I'll do it again if I make the same error when buying yarns.
So, good things and bad things, it was a normal weekend for me. Knit, knit, undo. Just so long as the knitting eventually takes me somewhere, I'm good to go.
Saturday, 24 November 2007
First off, because it was a small town, and there were relatives coming in from all over the place, the hotel was full. Mr. Needle's brother, sister and their respective spouses stayed at our home over night. We bunked at our folks. The other important thing to know, was that it was then as it is now, Grey Cup Sunday.
Normally gift openings are your immediate family, aunts, grandparents and ladies from the community who knew them. A normal crowd usually has tea coffee, some dainties and checks out your gifts, and who gave what, and then goes home with a tiny bit of gossip. Our gift opening wasn't normal.
Mr. Needles brother and brother in law decided it was in their interest to bring our TV to the hall. Once other sports fans realized they would not miss the game, they called buddies,and more people came. Wives called husbands, husbands brought sons. By game time, the crowd who came to gift opening was almost as big as the entire number of people invited to the wedding in the first place.
Men and boys crowded around that 21 inch screen as men never did in those days before big screen TVs and bars with sports themes. It was the biggest Grey Cup party anyone had ever been to, and none of them was providing the beer. My mom worried about running out of food, and my dad worried about running out of beer.
The gents were settled watching the game, the entire assembled horde had been fed and watered, and my mom said it was time to start opening gifts, or we would never be done. So we looked around for my bridal party.
Who weren't there.
In that huge crowd of people, not a single one of our 3 bridesmaids and groomsmen were there. They had not been seen all day. I hadn't seen my little sister either, just my very, very pregnant sister. Only Mr. Needle's married siblings. A few close friends were missing too. Suddenly it seemed that an awful lot of important people missing.
We were midway through opening gifts when in walked the bridal party and assorted hangers on. Some of them were still in wedding finery. They looked really tired, happy but really tired. They apologized for sleeping in, and we fed them anyway. They wandered around, talking and visiting and having a nice time. They were nice enough to let both Mr. Needles and I know when they were leaving. Just to show us they had good manners, they complimented us on having the best wedding ever, and told us how much fun they'd had. Some asked us if we could do it again.
The game was done (I have no idea who won), the guests left. The family who had stayed at our place remained, as did our folks and 3 very good friends. We loaded the gifts into half tons, and I went with Earl, Mr. Needles bachelor hunting buddy to get started unloading. Mr. Needles followed with a second truck. I knew something was up the moment I stepped on the porch.
My afghan was covering the kitchen window, and a 'see no evil, hear no evil,' statuette was taped to the door. Earl just kept saying oh my. In other instances it would have been a thing of beauty.
Everything was upside down: sofa, chairs,tables, stereo, bed. Plants stands, bookcases , and lamps were affixed to the ceiling. Every surface not upside down was festooned in toilet paper. Long lovely loops of toilet paper hung from surfaces I didn't know I had. The mail was in the fridge, there was beer in the 'Body on Tap' brand shampoo. There was plastic wrap over the toilet bowl, there was rice in every pocket. Every fly on every single pair of pants had been sewed shut, every leg hole and sleeve as well as well.
There was no doubt in my mind who the evil doers had been. The wedding party had indeed worked very hard for most of the day. No wonder they looked tired and pleased. No wonder at their effusive praise at our choice of wedding attendants and the lovely party we had thrown. I had absolutely no doubt whatsoever when they said they had a lot of fun.
Mr. Needles brother, sister and their spouses took their suitcases, deciding the best thing they could do would be to let us clean it up.
Later that evening after everyone had gone home, and a semblance of sanity was restored at our abode, we got a call from Mr. Needle's brother. Strangely enough, their pockets and hems, and sleeves had been sewn closed too. After a short interrogation, members of the wedding party claimed they could not take the chance that it wasn't our honeymoon luggage.
So today, on our anniversary, both Mr. Needles and I would like to thank our wedding party. We will raise a glass to your honest and sincere efforts. We appreciate your hard work.
But couldn't you have taken some pictures?
Friday, 23 November 2007
It's becoming very easy to love Kroy yarns. They work up so fast, it's very rewarding. These are for my father-in-law, nice workman like simple comfortable warm socks (searching for more adjectives). Of necessity they will have a peasant heel, unless, I magically learn how to work a short row this evening. I'll probably try it and see what happens, just for fun. I probably should practise with some scarp yarn first. But I am yearning for completion of something, anything.
I did work on the shawl. Time trials reveal that a knit and purl row pair are now taking about 20 minutes. I'm working slow though and keep going back obsessively to make sure I have not lost the centre stitch again, and that my yo's are where they need to be. Soon. The ball does look a little smaller today.
I may have spoken about the 10 Year Rule before, indeed I may have blogged it before, but well, I'll talk about it again.
Over a great many hand worked string things, over a very long time, I've come up with a rule that allows me to forgive myself when I fall out of love with a project. It began with a huge crewel work picture given by an aunt when I was 16. I just was not ready for it, and many years later, I put it for sale at a garage sale. I felt bad about that, but I reasoned I was never going to finish it, and it had been at least 10 years since I touched it, other than packing it in moving vans. So I now apply the rule to things that sit around for 10 years.
The quilt top is getting perilously close. The top is a Grandmothers Fan , though I was going to orient the fans facing one way with a border of blue between every square, and an outer edging of blue. In my mind, it is beautiful, but in reality is is in parts. The squares are all assembled the borders are all cut and are ready to go, I just have to sew it together. In fact, about half of it IS sewn. I touched it last about 3 years ago, when we were putting cabinets in the laundry room. Even then, I only touched the bag it was in.
I really don't want to put it on the 10 year pile, I really want to finish it, but...
I have this dream, and like the embroideries I showed yesterday some dreams die hard. I dreamed of a lacy bedroom with embroideries and doilies, and a lovely quilt to top it all. White sheers, and blue ruffly fouffy curtain swags. I dream of the kind of bedroom that makes you think of warm comfort and old fashioned snugly goodness. I long ago gave this room to the status of guest room. Maybe that is why the dream dies so hard. A guest room is not really for using, it's mostly to look at, with occasional people sleeping among it lacy bower of goodness. It was going to be my girly space in the house, the showcase for things I love and do.
After 10 years is it still a possibility? A probability? Well...maybe... just maybe.....sigh.
I can't seem to let the dream go. I'll keep these pieces for a while yet. Maybe I'll invent a 20 year rule.
Thursday, 22 November 2007
It occurred to me that some of this may be from the really really short circs I'm using. I might put them onto my new straights to finish. Crowded stitches, might be easier than the constant pull from a needle not long enough.
I've also considered that now that I am on the really long rows, shawls suck the life out of you, even when you really really want it. Maybe that is why blocking lace is so wonderful. After that last bit of slogging long rows, all of a sudden beauty sits beside you even when a shawl is simple.
I'm going to start work on another set of socks. I've a pair I'd like to do for my father-in-law, some warm and very washable ones, that it would be nice to have done before the holidays. I've several neutral man colours and I don't know what I'll use, but it will be something simple. I'm kind of looking forward to simple, idiot proof knitting. Knit knit knit and then a purl two knit-however-many-I-need-too ribbing all the way up the calves.
Since this would be an otherwise pictureless post, I'll show you this.
Lo, many many years ago, I was deep into cross stitch. Its not that I didn't crochet, and indeed I even did some very very rare knitting in those days (bad, worse than bad), but its just that we had a cross stitch store in the small town I lived in. I dearly love this form of embroidery. Even though it is all following someone else's design with not a lot of room for creativity, it fed the part of me that liked order. My kids were preschool and grade school at the time, and order was not something I had anywhere else in life. I love it still, I just can't do it for long. About an hour and my eyes can't take it even with a magnifier. The design is a Paula Vaughn, "the Upstairs Sewing Room" , published by Leisure Arts. It was part of a series of antique quilts and dresses designs based on her painting.
And full proof, that there are some crafts where you can get away not finishing them, and still hang them on your walls where it can continue to bug you the REST of your life, that this isn't finished. A second by the same artist, called "Reflections of the Past"
These were always on my to do list, though now the to do list knows better than to dream. I have an quilt top that these lovely designs were supposed to coordinate with and the dream of a wall of lovely feminine delicate cross stitch pieces were to set off.
Cameo of the Past, A Little Girls Fancy, Let's Pretend, Something Old, Something New, Sisters Three, In the Garret, Sunlight and Silhouettes, From this Day Forward, Make Believe. I have all of these designs, and I have the old 'Leisure Arts' magazines and 'For the Love of Cross Stitch' magazines with even more of these lovely things in them. They are all on my to do list. Only I know that it would take a lifetime of dedicated stitching 1 hour at a time, everyday for the rest of my life to fit it all in. I even have the linen for this series of pictures.
I'm not even going to worry about these until the quilt top is finished. And that is going to the 10 year pile this Christmas. (Have I told you about the 10 year rule? No. Ah, Blog fodder for another day!)
Knitting WIP's? Piece of cake.
All handwork WIP's? You. Do. Not.Want. To. Know.