Thursday, 31 January 2008

I might like winter, but I'm no dunce, just slow.

As previously mentioned, it has been very cold this week. Each day, I drive to town with a chill running down the back of my neck. In this 4th day of severe cold weather, I, who live in Canada, was born here, have spent 50 winters gaining experience, own no winter boots, no toque, no scarf and have not for a couple of years. I have no warm mitts only plain sturdy cowboy leather gloves with no lining that I buy at the work wear store. This chill down the back of my neck is not a new feeling.

There, now you know my dirty little very un-Canadian secret.

I just never made anything like that for myself. Years ago I knit and crocheted scarves for my kids on a regular basis, just never for myself. I did contemplate a fun fur scarf a couple years back when that was popular, but I found I really hate working with all that fuzz, so it never happened. My approach to staying warm and winter wear was always about extra for the office where it is frigid and you can't reasonably wear your coat. I never even thought about the half hour one way I spend commuting. It just never occured to me.

I consider myself reasonably bright, generally competent, even brilliant on one or two rare occasions in my life. I always knew I would find something that would reveal the empty parts. Knitting seems to be the key to the Pandora's box of my common sense. Since taking up knitting, my lack of brain power is now not just on display, but is on display distressingly frequently. It just never occurred to me to make a scarf for myself, only for my kids.


Since it has been brought my attention by reading recent crochet and knitting magazines, that scarves are not just for cold, but can be very stylish accesories, it finally, belatedly, occurred to me that I had the power in my own hands to make a scarf for myself. So I did. Sort of.

I came across pepperknit's blog, and saw this nifty little thing, The Bainbridge Scarf. I was intrigued. It was small, and looked like it could be finished quickly, it didn't look like it would be bulky under the front of your coat (my chief objection to winter scarves is that they always make me feel stuffed in ), and I liked the way it tied to stay in place. It also looked like it would be a great little crochet project as well as a knit.

The overall size of the project called to me too. I had a single skeins of several yarns given to me for Christmas (thanks again guys for the yarn, just to play with). I tried a couple different things, and ended up using Paton's Shetland Chunky in a rich burgundy colour.

The photos is a bit fuzzy (it's greatly enlarged). It is a stitch pattern from Harmony Guide Volume 6, called Wide Double crochet (I think - I really should confirm these things). Regular doubles except that you place your stitch between the double crochets in the row below rather than in the loop of the stitch below. Its a interesting variation on this most basic of stitches, and it worked well with the bulky yarn.

The fabric it created has such a soft flowing drape. It is a relatively open pattern, and yet the bulk of the yarn fills the openings in the nicest way, without adding any additional firmness or stiffness. And no, no ties. It ended up not being a Bainbridge at all,just a nice loop scarf to wear under my coat.

Why not Bainbridge? Well, I know I've mentioned how I just seem to go off on my own without reading very carefully, so it should come as no shock. I missed the part where the project was supposed to be only 4 inches wide. Mine is at least 6 inches and verges on 7. Its just too much fabric.

But I am going to do that Bainbridge in crochet. I don't think the Bainbridge is really suited to a bulky yarn, though I do really like my result as is, but next go round, I'm going to use something lighter, a double knitting weight or heavy fingering weight ought to be just right in crochet.

And yes, my neck was toasty warm driving to work this morning, thank you very much.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I Love the Depths of Winter

I don't know if it is normal for most people to feel a rhythm to their projects when they look back over their hand working lives, but I sure do. There are always the little exceptions, the little hiccups, but the rhythm is there when I look at the projects where I have followed my heart. Maybe its part of getting to the age that I have come to. There is comfort in that flow of things, comfort in the stages and the processes and I revel in it.

Winter is a great time of year to work big heavy things, things that you can cover yourself with as you go to hold off the chill. The deep winter, the part after the holiday rush is done, is when warm afghans are crocheted, and quilts are completed. Deep winter is for epic embroideries, large panels, and huge pictures with fine shadings and rich tones that take months of dedicated thought and work to complete. My deep winter projects have always reflected my need to hunker down, burrow in, hibernate in the quiet of the day, the quiet of my thoughts to survive the dark and the cold.

As the days get lighter, in the pale of winter, there is a change in the air. Its too cold but you can't help thinking about what is next. Your thoughts are full of garden catalogues and magazines, and there is a lightness in the air that just has to come out. Everything within you is straining to spring. Projects are light tones, small, quick to complete, things that express the urgency of green bursting through the thawing forest floor, of newness, of freshness. It is the season of projects that are light, open, airy; laces, doilies, delicate things, beaded embroideries, but always things that tell of crisp edges against a rich deep blue summer sky.

June is all show, all flamboyance. It's the season of testing yourself, working faster, pushing to meet deadlines, like wedding samplers and bridal gifts. June is warmth and busy days doing everything so long as it is under the sunny skies. Its often about trying something just a little further on the edge than you normally go, like socks, like knitting. Its about not fearing failing, about bold, big movements, confident things that you might not try other seasons. Its when I am most likely to experiment with new techniques, with new processes. Working in the dappled shade on a hot day might bring out lazy hazy days of summer for others, but for me, its all about growth.

August is the fullness of spring and summer promise. August is for bringing things in, for earnest efforts for completion. Everything is about making ready, about preparing for the next step. Fall is purposeful thinking, purposeful handwork. Fall is the time of sweaters, vests, socks, things that have a job to do. I find my self arranging and planning gifts, embroideries , long hardanger pieces, graceful little crocheted snowflakes, long strings of beads surrounded by lace crochet, tatted edgings and small bags to fill with lavender for people you love.

Fall is always followed by the rush of Christmas approaching. Its not about choosing anymore, or planning, its just about making sure its done with enough time to wrap and deliver under a tree. Sometimes this is the season of panic, and rush, but only when you can't reign in your inner belief that you can and must do everything even when everything is unrealistic and downright ludicrous. Its the season of midnight knitting, and beading enough to drive you mad.

I find myself wishing the time of each season would last longer, sometimes wishing days moved slower even now on these dark and cold days. I can't help but see that its the end of January and I want more days when I can simply sit and work. I wish time would move as slowly as most things do in this kind of cold. I'm not really in love with -32 and severe weather, but I'm deeply enamoured with winters projects.

I worked on the shawl yesterday at lunch, I worked on the shawl last evening while visiting the guy stuck in hospital, I worked on the shawl this morning in the wee early hours. It still looks much as it did in the photo I took more than a week ago, even though it has been a constant in my days. It is with me everywhere, and it is in my mind even as I finish small and more urgent things. Most days there is a row or two of the shawl. Part of me is distressed by this slow middle, but most of me is entranced. Projects like this are like finding a friend, learning who they are, getting to know their secrets.

This shawl will be my companion a while longer still, and that is very very good.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Just saying

I woke really early this morning. I think the furnace was bugging me. The darn thing would not shut off. This happens if someone hit the temperature hold button (it stays at the same temperature no matter what) rather than temporary to give yourself a wee temperature boost in the evening.

The airport is reporting a reasonable -35 C but we are 80 km from the airport.

I looked at the thermometer outside. The little red stuff? curled up into a ball and went home.

Just saying.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Knitting Happens

Wow. This weekend, actual knitting happened. It feels like ages since it worked that way. I also managed to sneak in a few stitches on that cute little Dolly Mama son3 and spouse gave me for Christmas.

I finished the hat. It looks better on a head but the head is sadly still in hospital. He's fine, just still on iv for antibiotics and other liquids. Though it looks a little bit like a cartoon picture of the Matterhorn, it has been confirmed, it fits just fine.

And then I did this. Calorimetry 3 and wristers.This is made of Zitron Loft, a really nice un-plied yarn and Misson Falls. I do hope the recipient enjoys it. Its her first semester away from home at a new university, and she is having a bit of a mid season slump. We are thinking of you, songbird. Cheer up. It goes in the mail today.

A word about Mission Falls wool. Really really nice wool. It's so warm as it goes through your fingers. Its soft and squishy and just everything you could ask for in a yummy yarn to play with. I could sit here all day rubbing the wristers in my hands and marveling over the soft, firm (I know, its polar opposites, but knit up a swatch and you will see what I mean), well defined fabric it makes. I will be using it again. If I will be using it for large project is the question.

It is one of the higher priced yarns at 7 dollars a skein but its main shortcoming is the small skein size of 85 yds. For the life of me I don't get why yarn makers do this. I'm sure they have a really sound reason for it, but from the crocheters or knitters side of things, small skeins are a sort of a pain in the behind. It soft plies make joining the ends is very very easy, but all the stopping to do it, that would make me bonkers.

Both the wristers and the headband are very yarn friendly. Calorimetry takes about a hundred yards. The wristers take about 120 for the pair. A nice quick weekend project,t perfect for times when your knitting life needs some completion.

Its been a zoo round here, and I really needed a completed something, so Calorimetry was just the ticket, but that doesn't mean I have avoided things I am determined to complete in short order. The shawl is still there, still being worked on. I'm starting to think I am practising knitting garter stitch while asleep. I'm finding I have a distressing tendency to zone out when I'm working on it and before I can say boo, my brain is snoring.

Which is usually what wakes me so I can keep knitting.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Not Enough Coffee

I started my day by sleeping through the first buzzer. I turned it off, but have no memory of doing so. I recall turning off the second buzzer, but I feel back to sleep. I dreamed and when I awoke I felt worried, worn out, and like there is something I need to remember, something really important, something that matters, which I have completely forgotten.

Obviously, I needed a coffee to set myself to right. I usually get that first cup at the office, but today, I had to take stuff up to son 1 in the hospital. Air cast? Check. PSP? Check.

Ah right, there is the stuff I had to remember.

Doesn't sound like it should be a problem in the grand scheme of things. Except for the coffee. I'm an hour behind on my coffee intake, and I can tell. I did buy a cup of coffee at the cafeteria but we all know that the only thing less inspiring than your basic institutional food is your basic institutional coffee.

The day has been devoid of anything to soothe my soul so far, but I'll get over it by lunch time. It might take a Guinness though.

Thursday, 24 January 2008


Since this is my first hat attempt, you'd think I'd worry a little more about fit. So far, I'm following my usual practise, of going merrily along, and waiting for utter disaster when I try to deliver the product. Let's just say my idea of how much hat his head is going to need, reflects an absolute blindness to size. I think I have demonstrated my disconnect from reality so far as size goes before. If heads fit hats, this hat would need a pin head. Literally.

Thankfully, we found a hat he was wearing and measured for size before I was too far down and I added what I needed. I'm also working in that other green colour. A quick trip to the yarn store fixed any lingering doubts about having enough yarn for hat and scarf, and cured that mild shortage of Mission Falls for the next project.

(It solved other matters too. I should be ashamed, but I feel strangely satisfied. I found the most wonderful Handmaiden Sea Silk, this kit actually, in the colour of the moonlight on the waves. I'm sure I can find reason to knit it.)

The addition of the green is doing something amazing. In a hat where you have darks and brilliants, its out brillianting the brilliant green. What a fantastic colour combination.

The true colour tone is somewhere between the first photo and the last. I'm working the new green in between rows of the variegated Patons Classic.

The new green is ... well darn it all, I've left the band at home. Its a yarn simply labeled Australian Merino, coloured in a tweed effect in varying shades of Granny Smith apple green. While its not a perfect match, it fits in with the varying shades of green in the Patons Classic. In the next round of the variegated colour, I'm going to work in two rows of the new green, then 3 and on up to the end of the hat. I hope to end in the plain brown, and may have to work an additional row or two to get it.

The scarf is going to be re knit to include this new green. Unless of course, sons 1's girlfriend, SS, takes this hat from him. Cause then I'd have to knit another hat.

This is starting to feel like sock knitting. You make one pair and pretty soon, people are asking for things.

Thanks for the good wishes for Son 1. He's had surgery to clean things out and get rid of the infection, and hopefully he is on the road to full recovery.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hats for Sick People and Yarn Harlot Books

Soon after I started the scarf, Son 1, commented how much he liked the way it looked. I think he helped pick out this yarn while in BC. And then he said he could really use a good hat. I could have pounded my head on the floor, because this was a scarf and I was really enjoying it. I was determined to make him a hat out of something else, and yet...

This morning, I began doing this from the other end of the yarns. I have no idea what size his head is. I don't think you can take his guitar player fingers and hands to use as a measure of his head (Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules for hat size). But the hat begins. I'm feeling just a wee bit sorry for him. His place in the world right now sucks, so it just seems right to use something he liked to make him a little something to make at least one moment of his day better. Poor baby.

(And yes even when they are 27, they are still your babies)

With luck, there will be enough for a shorter version of the scarf, more of a coat length, something that tucks around his neck, and the hat. If not, I'll start the scarf a little thinner and introduce another skein of something worked alternately to make one nice comfortable length scarf. Maybe green.

Knitting Rules. I love this book. I don't think I could review it with a neutral eye. I was given the book as a gift, by my non yarny daughter in law. She picked well.

Like all of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's books (I've two others since), it's a wonderful read. Homey, warm, and funny. Funny not in the big star way, not in the famous way, but funny in the silly things people do that you talk about sitting round your kitchen table sort of way. Her writing is infused with her warmth and her observations about human nature and knitting nature are on the money. I was not a knitter when I first read this book, but I was surely charmed into knitting by it. (Clued in is more apt).

What strikes me most about this book and why it is the book I most often carry, is her philosophy of knitting simple things, simply. Her basic sock pattern in the book is, well, basic. Her hat basics, scarf basics disscuss the projects for what they are, simple things we use every day. She makes you believe you can do these things all on your own. She makes you know that you can function without a pattern for these simple little things (Not that there is anything wrong with patterns). Its the sort of knitting thinking your grandmother would have given you if your grandmother knitted (or crocheted). Stephanie is part of the chain of knitters with their hands on our shoulders, passing on the wisdom of the ages, the best kind of wisdom which is fun too.

Knitting Rules is a Double Treble, just go get it, and while your at it get these too.

Brand spanking new on the Amazon lists!

Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To Or Not)

And for 2009, her calendar - Never Not Knitting

2009 should be far away, but time flies when you wait for good things.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

You Can Get a Lot of Knitting Done

in a hospital emergency room. Ask me how I know.

Yesterday, mere moments after I finished my goofing off at lunch, I got a call from my son. Son 1 broke his legs 18 months ago in a motorcycle accident, and one leg's more severe breaks have been a mild sort of on going nightmare of not healing, infection, hope and minor despair. Since his bone graft, he's had fairly steady low levels of infection, which finished in a massive round of antibiotics this fall - 6 weeks of iv treatments - followed by oral antibiotics. It seemed to be cured and by Christmas he felt better than he had in years. Yesterday infection returned, and not just a little. Massive infection. So we sat in the emergency room while he was viewed, poked, prodded and pictured till they decided what they needed to do.

He has become their guest, and I knitted the better part of a sock. I expect more sock and simple knitting over the next little while

Yesterday something happened that reminded me of something strange about me. Not weird strange, just a rift between me an normalcy.

It began when I was a little girl. My paternal grandmother had a very small house and many grandchildren. We'd all show up on boxing day, the gents went to the basement (a surprisingly cheery place) to play cards, the ladies in the kitchen, and the kids went to living room where we'd play bingo. It didn't take much room, kept us quiet largely till dinner was served, and had one golden rule. You had to stay and play till you won.

I played a lot of bingo, and I never ever won. Games would end because dinner was served. Every year from the time I was 4 till I was about 14, I bingoed with the best of them and kept a losing streak that has never been equaled in the family annals. Grandma finally took pity on me and let me pick a pity prize from the box, and declared I would never have to play again. There were 2 things left in the prize box, and this is what I chose.

It sits in a position of honour on my trophy shelf. I have a trophy for being at the bottom of my bowling league, a trophy of a horses hind end for being the 'best' player at a kaiser tournament (I still don't know how they talked me into that) and this Rudolph mug. I do not win things. Ever. This is a blogs where you won't find memes, quizzes and contests. I rarely play games and when I do, it's not because I am trying to win. Decades of constant losses have taken a toll on my fragile ego.

A week or so ago, I posted a silly comment on Curlerchik's blog where she had a contest running for her 1,000 comment.

I winned!

For the first time ever, I can declare I have a winning strategy.

" I'm like one of those little old ladies who watches people play slots, and waits till they leave for more change, and then swoops in to win.

I'll just sit back and watch, patiently while I let everyone else bump up the number count."

My big quandary is do I simply put this lovely yarn on the trophy shelf or do I make something with it and sit the product on the trophy shelf?

Decisions, decisions.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Arctic Lace and other good things

All that changeable weather last week, brought some fresh new snow. This is a shot from my back door very early Saturday morning. Looks sort of sad and gray, but fresh snow much improved Sundays sun. We haven't seen a lot of sun this winter, not on weekends at any rate.

I have a request to knit another Calorimetry, so Saturday I was off to town for a quick yarn trip. I found some of my favourite things!
River City Yarns has Zitron Loft in stock again. This is a really, really nice yarn, truly wonderful to work with. Since the request was for a combination of yarns, we searched the store for a good colour match, and I came away with some Mission Falls, a new to me yarn, with a really great soft feel and a dusky warm tone. I'm looking forward to using it. Calorimetry is such a nice quick to work project. For those of us who thrive on the gratification of completed projects, this is as close to instant as you can get and a great study in short rows. I may go back for one more skein of the Mission Falls yarn. If I have two skeins, I will have plenty to make both the headband and a bonus of some wristers. The lovely recipient will have a treat more than she hoped for.

I did come away with some other treats too, I'll show you those tomorrow. River City has some really great stock in right now. Some of my favourite yarns and some really gorgeous colours, symphonies of colours.

Saturday afternoon, Mr. Needles and I found some intriguing stuff on the Internet about his uncle who was a POW in WWII. We spent a lot of time cruising sites WW II sites looking at and reading information about Lancaster bombers, the crews and reading POW stories. There were many tears, and much sorrow found, and a lot of contemplation about the dark side of humanity. But there was also a lot of good found, that some people still care to remember, that someone out there took the time to write and record and put in out there on the Internet. Some knitting happened around all this reading, but a lot of it was just a little too intense for knitting. Hard to believe, but it happened. Its been a while.

I worked on my shawl along with these other things. Its getting close to the size I want.I figure another weeks determined work and it will be ready for the edging. I had hoped to get it to that point this past weekend, but for all that there was knitting time, there was not large amounts of knitting hours.

I must beg forgiveness of the photo though, maybe Ms Shawl too. I didn't notice till I posted the picture that the needles are impaling the shawl. I will prefer to think of them as being Ms. Shawls delicately folded hands.

Thinking of folded hands, I am reminded of this pattern from Arctic Lace. This one too. The first is called a chevron scarf, and besides the chevron, I saw the folded hands of a contented knitter. Maybe some of you can see that too in these chevrons Donna Druchunas was inspired to create.

I see something else too. Something I saw from the first moment I saw the design of this lace. If you look at the pattern from the opposite direction, you see a woman. See her head centered in the pattern stitches - she is wearing her hair in a bun? She has her hands laid lovingly on her daughters shoulders, who has her hands on her daughters shoulders, and so on down the scarf.

This is the image that sticks in my mind. Its such an warm comforting concept that fits how I see knitting, spinning and all these wonderfully fulfilling things that use strings and needles. Someone at some point developed how to do them, and we are shown and taught, guided by those who have been shown and guided through the many seasons of humanity. Our ancestors hands are on our shoulders, and we have the duty of passing these things on.

We are one long unbroken yarn of time and love.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Books Needlework, Needlework, Books

I have a deep and abiding affection for reading that competes for time with needlework. Of late, the needlework has won the battle, but the last few days, I have been reading the Phillipa Gregory novel, 'the Other Boleyn Girl'. A very very satisfying read which I will likely finish this evening. I recommend it for your reading lists.

There is a lot of work happening on the shawl, just not as much as usual. Its so chilly in the house I can't bear to get out of bed where it's warm and cozy in the morning. That cuts out a healthy 2 hours of my work time. Still progress is happening. The needles will be full by the end of the day of my nice unsquished stitches, and its not too much farther till the main body of it is done, and I am ready for the edge stitches. This plain and simple Truly Tasha's Shawl, has a lacy bit on the edge, and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

I work on the forest scarf when my hands tire from the weight of the shawl, and that too is growing longer by the day. I'd take a picture, but I left my camera at home. It's going to be a nice long scarf, one that you can wrap around a few times. The single skein of Patons Classic would have been enough to make a short under coat kind of scarf, but longer one that you can wrap around a few times is what this kind of weather needs.

-27C at my house this morning, even if it was only -20 in the city. Verified by 2 different thermometers, and my freakishly cold fingers.

UPDATED: And last night on the way home from work the temperature read -11. Such is winter on the Canadian prairie.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Knitting in the Old Way

Knitting in the Old Way is one of the books I choose for my Christmas present from Mr. Needles. I may have been a little disappointed in The Vogue Ultimate Knitting book, but this choice amply compensates. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this book. I have read it through a few times already and I'm entranced over and over again.

It's not a book of patterns, and yet it is. Its not a book about history, and yet it is. Its not a book about traditions and yet it is. Its not a book about new and yet, it is. In a way it is a recipe book for knitting. Whatever you class it as, it is a masterwork and even if you never knit anything from this book your work will be changed by it. You won't be able to help seeing yarn differently. You won't be able to help seeing patterns differently.

Long ago when generations lived together, when knitting was the only way you could get socks and sweaters, your grandma would have taught you to knit when you were tiny. A lot of the things in this book are the things your grandma would have guided you to know and feel intuitively about your knitting.

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson take the place of the past generations of women and do a wonderful job of bringing knitting to us as a living intuitive craft reborn for the future.

This book rates a Double treble. Just buy it if you can. If you cannot afford it go find it in a library, but whatever you have to do, you NEED this book. Keep it out as long as you can without the fines, sign it out again and again and take in what it can tell you.

Studying this book is like sitting on a low stool beside my grandma or perhaps Auntie Lorraine watching her, and being instructed as I work along side her, being gently corrected and shown every skill from generations past. It is like having grandmothers and aunts and mothers from many places as they lovingly teach me the way. It explores the very reason that I do handwork. It channels all the things that I have been waiting a lifetime to know. It channels all the women from ages past that I wanted to learn from and makes their voices sing. This book speaks to my soul and gives it wings.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

New Yarn

Panda Cotton, bamboo, cotton and elastic.
Cascade Fixation, cotton and elastic.
Sockina Cotton, Cotton, acrylic and nylon.

I could stop right there at the pictures, but you know me, always something to talk about.

My sister commented yesterday about looking for yarn. She has asked me to make an afghan for her. She wants to choose the yarns, and patterns, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with. Since she is where I was some months ago, I will tell her what I have learned about the modern world of yarn shopping.

There are some great places online, though there is an ever improving stock of really nice yarns at places like Micheal's, and there are seriously fine yarns at local LYS where you live.

For your project, wool is going to be best overall. Superwash wool (it will always say if it is) will be even better. Worsted or aran weight yarns are your best choices.

There are dozens of great brands. Knitpicks has some really great prices, like Wool of the Andes 1.99 for 110 yards in all sorts of colours. Webs, the store yesterdays purchases were from, has a bigger range than anybody else I know of. Valley Yarns has an all wool yarn, called Northhampton, 247 yds for 4.99. Patons Classic Wool is available at Micheals for about 7.00 and at Ram Wool for 5.99 (with a discount if you buy 5)for 223 yds on a skein. Your local yarn store has Cascade 220 or something very like it, for about 8.00 for 220 yds in a skein.

Check out weavers yarns, and see what they have to offer. Webs Weavers line includes Harrisville Designs Highland yarn. The cones are half pound cones, 450 yds to a cone for 16 dollars. GD who is waaaaaaaaay better at math than I am, will already see that the cone will cost about the same as most of the above yarns. Halcyon Yarns is another really great place with a wonderful selection. (I've looked but not shopped)

Some places will have a house brand and a stock of many other kinds of yarns. Some will carry only their house brands . Some online places are niche places, Like Red Bird Knits , which is largely fingering and lighter weights or Simply Socks, which, well you know.

No matter what you work on you usually do consider cost. There just are not a lot of times, where price is no option. There have only been two times in my life where cost was not considered, one was for the shawl in fuzzy brown yarn, which cost about 75 dollars and that linen I spoke of above. 7 or 8 yards of beautiful linen at 30 dollars a yard, 25% off, in about 1990. For every other purchase, I have considered, sometimes wrongly, but mostly right the cost into the decision to buy.

Best cost may not always be the cheapest. While basic acrylic from a big box store like Walmart may be cheap, for a big bed sized afghan it will cost you about 35 dollars. You size that afghan a little smaller, (and more reasonably - you know some of the behemoths I have made) and you can easily look at wools, lovely scrumptious wools. Wools in the same price range as all but the lowest grade acrylics, with a thousand times better feel and wear are possible.

Cost is not always tangible. Best cost often is supporting your local yarn store. Tell the owner what you are making, feel the yarn, and look over her offerings. You may pay a little more, but what she can tell you about the yarn you desire, is often worth it. She can suggest the right substitions of yarn from her stock for project you are planning.

For most of us, and certainly those of us who are just wandering into this world of yarn, and the vast numbers of kinds and sorts and properties of the various yarns fibres, yarn blends, yarn qualities, a good LYS is a must. Check out her stock, price it out and do consider the full value of what your LYS is really selling you.

If you are a crocheter, and the LYS you walked into makes you feel crochet is an art for people too stupid to knit? You turn right out and move along to the next yarn shop. This is not a good LYS. A good LYS will just want to lead you into the wild world of yarn, and possibilites. A good LYS will always have time for anyone interested in yarn purchasing. I am of the strong opinion that while they personally may only knit (uni- craftual, - like uniligual only sadder), they will glady enable your trip to the world of modern yarn even if all you are doing is making cans wound in yarn as a kindergarden project for an art class.

Cause let me tell you, a good LYS owner knows as absolutely as I do (having been recently introduced to Misti Alpaca at River City Yarns), a person who has once felt a bulky alpaca yarn, is going to find a reason to have some. And some more after that.

Now if my dear sister, should you be interested in purchasing Misti Alpaca which costs 11-14 dollars for a hundred metres, and which for an afghan is way pricey, but would be heaven to sit under, well, I'd work it.

Of course, I'd be sending you to the looney bin for spending that on a blankie, but at least you'd have some Misti with you.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Yarns and what to do with them.

On the weekend, I knit up a swatch of the Rowan Bamboo Tape , and this morning, just for fun, I crocheted a swatch (sorry I forgot to take a picture). Both worked up really, really well, but I think the knitting better displays how absolutely gorgeous this yarn is. Crochet somehow did not show off the softness as well. The many spaces between the crocheted yarns just could not match the knitted sample for touch and feel. Too bad you can't feel it. The search for patterns continues, but it has to be light and lacy in case I am short of yarn.

Mail, I have mail!! I have a parcel to pick up today that I hope will be filled with cotton yarns. I'm having a little trouble finding non wool sock yarn locally, but did finally order some from Simply Socks. I'm sure there is some round here, but in the rush before the holidays, I did not find any. Now I have to wonder what my rush was. Oh right, it was the need just to contemplate future yarn. Well I think I took care of that yesterday.

I took care of that with some of this yarn in banana, ordered yesterday. Yarn Harlot made her sunrise circle jacket out of this in a different colour, IIRC, so I know it is a fine yarn. I ordered 4 pounds. I also ordered some of this, 2 or 3 pounds in birch (I was a little lightheaded, I forget), and they have a fairly decent sale on this too.

This was NOT an impulse buy, I considered it long and hard. I considered what I would do with it, what if I didn't like the colour, what if if I didn't care for it's feel, what I would do if I hated everything about it (OK the last is simply NOT possible). I've also considered what I will do if I adore this yarn. I thought about that more than anything.

Along with considering those things, I did consider this. My poor work bag is starting to show its age. I have used it for 2 years, but since spring I've carried it every day. It can't take the pressure and the weight of all that I tote with me.
I mean really, I considered this bag my signature. It showed my goofy side, I loved its wide open middle. I loved that no matter how much was in it, I could still fit in more (I think that part comes from its roots as a beer bag).

Replacing it is a constant thought in my mind. I'm going to do one up from the book I received for Christmas, with the nice yarn the kids gave me, but I also think I'd like to felt a larger version, wider too. I have thought long and hard about what I want the lining sections to be.

On the knitting side, I want a place for my water bottle dpn case. I want a place for the bits of knitting, the tape measures, the little calculator, the scissors. I want a sectioned area for at least 3 different projects, one big project, and two sock sized things. I need an area for the book or pattern, and I need an area for at least one reference book or novel (hey I do read more than knitting and crochet books. Really I do).

A really sensible bag should be big enough to function as my purse too. I need a place for my wallet, for receipts, and my cell phone, and maybe my camera too. I'm feeling a little daunted by the idea of the lining sections, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

To get to this next project, I'm going to have to bust my buns. I'd like the scarf out of the way first. Once that is done, I'll start bag version 1, and see what I come up with.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Very Good Things

The other evening, I was sitting in my study, with a fresh cup of coffee, and '84 Charing Cross Road', one of my favourite movies, was about to begin. My shawl and I were suffering from a little too much familiarity. I'd worked on it on and off since 4 in the morning and I was feeling a little bored. With one other knitting WIP on needles, and only 2 real WIPs (as opposed to UFOs) on linens, and 2 languishing crochet projects, you'd think I'd have found something to work on, but watching this movie needed something different.

I was given a skein of Patons Classic, in Forest (go to the bottom) by a friend and it just kept sitting there at the edge of my mind saying, 'knit me, crochet me, do something'. Its a wonderful mix of a really dark browns, tans, and soft rich greens that end up in a bright apple green.

The Classic at 204 metres (223 yds) didn't seem like enough to make a scarf with. I dug into the depths of the stash. I knew there were 2 balls of a brown from Lana Grosso. What I have seems to be discontinued, but I will update the link if I find it later. What I have is a merino, on the light side of a double knitting weight and 160 metres (175 yds) per ball. I picked it up in case I ran out of yarn for a different project, and since it is now unlikely that I will need it, I felt comfortable using it here. I don't get the opportunity to work with brown a lot since it's a colour I don't wear, and leaving such nice yarn sitting there with no idea of what I was going to do with it seemed wrong.

I'm alternating the yarns, 2 rows Classic, 2 rows doubled brown, then 4 rows Classic, 2 rows brown...

I knew instantly that everything about this was right. Pretty, isn't it?

The yarns felt lush, scrumptious, rich and smooth. I love the sqishiness of both of these wools. The way it looked with its bright green balancing the dark greens and tans, fitting sublimely with the warm browns of the lighter weight yarn was breathtaking. It might only be a scarf but it was as close to perfect as I've ever seen on my needles. It sang to me, and for one moment I was almost in tears at how good it all was. I felt just a bit irrational.

It had nothing to do with the fact that the movie makes me tear up, that I had uncountable cups of coffee through the day, that it was no 11 p.m. and way past my bedtime. No. It was the knitting.

Knitting can make you just a little irrational, but in a good way.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Friday File

For several years, I sent my brother and sisters and my mom and dad an email each Friday morning. The general trend in emails went something like this:

'Mr. Needles has been....this week. He is out doing...... this weekend.'

The whole thing of repeated itself for me, detailing whatever mundane thing I had planned.

I was contemplating this kind of daily stuff that takes up ones life this morning while knitting on my shawl. That I was contemplating mundane should be no surprise, this is a garter stitch shawl after all and the interest is going to be the lacy bit way at the end of the project. The fact that I have restarted it over in a bigger gauge ceased to be exciting after the 12th row, and now that I am almost caught up to where I was when I ripped...

See, there is the exciting bit. After very little time, with needles one size up, with a spiffy sharp points, I've already knit up almost all of the yarn from round one. I've got about an hour left, maybe 2 but before I go to bed tonite, I intend to be where I was earlier this week (in terms of yarn usage). I'm pretty proud of that, but it isn't me at all.

It's the needles.

Addi Turbo Lace needles, I am developing a serious fondness for these. I can do things with my hands with these needles that I never dreamed I could do. I am maintaining my gauge and evenness with very little stress on my wrists and fingers. I can see my knitting go faster each row. Speed shouldn't matter - unless you are in the middle of a garter stitch shawl.

I have 2 projects lined up for winter besides the shawl, two sweaters, one in some lush Rowan Bamboo Tape And the other in Cascade 220

in a deep earthy loden green. These will both be swatched. I have lots of the Cascade, 1500 yards - plenty for a great sweater, but I have only 820 yards of the Bamboo. Enough, I hope for a nice light lacy top for a very tiny woman. I'll swatch it and then I'll have to use it. I have a feeling that every inch of it will matter.

Between the mundane bits of a weekends chores, I manage to fit in a lot of excitment. Something so simple as swatching and the prospects of working on a garter stitch shawl might not excite an ordinary person, but my boys are always saying "yeah mom, but this is you we are talking about".

I feel like a kid who has been given 5 bucks and is going to the penny candy store. Can't hardly sit still in my chair.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

On a Thursday morning

On a Thursday morning one can be swamped at work, and so one will have to do work. Will post later.

Updated: Well, that was done at about 8 this morning, and this is indeed later. 5:15 p.m. local time. Muuuuuuuuuuuch later.

After thinking about it yesterday watching the gauge change and disintegrate into several different ranges as I worked with my new Addi Turbos on my shawl, I decided to rip it.

The yarn was lovely and soft but it just seemed too tight, and I don't want a wall of fabric when it is complete, I want a nice flowing cuddly shawl. I ripped out the entire thing, and began again with 4 mm Addi Turbo lace circulars. Its working up much faster, and the fabric just feels right. I will remember this feeling.

This is how it looked on 3mm needles(It does look like a thong)

And this is how it looks on the 4 mm needles now.

Note how it has much more drape....

Pictures just don't show it. You'll just have to trust me.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Vogue Knitting

In the absence of knitting on anything other than the shawl, I picked up my new book, Vogue Knitting, the Ultimate Knitting Book. Time for a book review! I went through the whole book last evening, reading much of it, and scanning all the technical stuff.

It's a heck of a book. Easily readable, Really good clear drawings, great photography of details. It has the finest section on the history of knitting in a book of this kind that I have read with photos and samples of ancient works. It details the types of tools and the basics of yarns. It gives the fundamentals of knitting, it goes through all kinds of basic techniques, it details all sorts of finishing techniques, blocking styles of knitting and a really neat section on collars of all kinds to help you adapt basic design to make it your own. It is without a doubt a good book filled with all kinds of great technical information for those of us looking for a solid reference book about knitting.

With one huge flaw. It says there are only 2 kinds of knitting, Western and Continental. It details the differences of those two styles and does well enough, but to be honest, to a combined knitter like me, and to anyone else who knits just a little different, this book feel like a slap in the face. Books with that narrow perspective are the kind of thing that kept me from knitting for decades.

Had I not given up entirely on knitting, (to the point that I gave away my lone knitting book, a really good copy of the old format of the Harmony Guides, which I wish I had back) reading Vogue Knitting would have made me quit. It would have convinced me with that first section that I was a dunce, and a person entirely short of the brains required to knit. Nothing in the book, not the pictures, not the language, not the narrow focus would have identified why I could make every flat piece of knitting in the darn book, but that every single time I decreased or increased, why each time I tried anything other than knitting and purling, everything would have ended up looking wrong.

I think this version of Vogue Knitting falls short of the mark. All it really needs is a chapter discussing the different ways of knitting, a few pictures showing the orientation of the stitch and the way the needle enters the stitch would have made a huge difference to knitters like me.

It pains me to feel this way about this otherwise pretty solid book. Reading it with the understanding I now have, it will be a very valuable reference. I expect to go back to it many times over the course of my knitting life.

Feeling the way I do, all I can give Vogue Knitting the Ultimate Knitting Book is a Single Crochet.

If you know a little about knitting and have been taught by someone who knit Western, this is a good book for you. If you have been taught by a knitter of another style, keep looking.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

We have to SAVE these people.

Spinning at 4:30 in the morning is not recommended. I tried it and lost fingers that I still have not been able to find. There is a very good possibility that if this was the time of mankind where people spun the yarn for the cloth for their clothing, I would be the naked guy standing in the middle of the street.

Since my hands did not wake with the rest of me this morning, I read several chapters in "Knitting in the Old Way" this morning. I tried learning the long tail cast on from her directions, and still it is a no go. There are several other books in the bunch with multiple casts on in them and maybe one of them will make me see the light. But so far so fair. "Knitting in the Old Way" is a very interesting read, and I foresee very good things about it being an interesting knit.

Since the cast on did not progress, I played with a piece of knitted fabric, born of the yarn from the first Calorimetry (and because I was so proud of both of these, here is the second Calorimetry midway down). I knit up some of the Patons Classic, and a couple rows of the Zitron Loft and felted a swatch just for fun. That swatch has been on the table sitting at the base of the lamp and I've been looking at it for months wondering now what do I do with it. I turned it into this.

My little needle sizer and gauge measure is in it at the moment though that might not be its best end use. Its probably going to end up holding a pen and some pencils. Kind of like a knitter's little pocket protector. (And they think Knitters are odd )

Well, after following some of those links, there is just nothing left to say. I feel so normal. But we should probably save these people and knit some (felting optional).

Monday, 7 January 2008


Wonderful is a simple word. It has been part of the English language since the 12th century. The word makes me think of and old commercial for a Wunderbar candy bar. Big burly Vikings landed on the shore dragging treasure chests, opened them, and found them full of the chocolate bars, and commenced dancing around shouting 'vunderbar'.

My weekend was wonderful. I opened boxes and bags of treasures, and I felt like dancing around shouting 'vunderbar' too.

My Christmas present arrived. 4 very good books.

Knitting From the Top Down

Vogue Knitting's The Ultimate Knitting Book

Knitting in the Old Way

Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques

I feel like I barely glanced at them, even though I spent all of Friday evening reading them, looking at them, and pondering them. The big debate for purchasing was stitch treasuries and dictionaries or reference books. As you see the reference books won out. They all look like good solid picks.

On the knitting front, I worked a long time on the Truly Tasha's Shawl. I can tell this is going to be a long project. The very good part is that in my foray to my LYS, I picked up some Addi Turbo circulars, one set with lace tips and one with regular. The regular tips are in use for the shawl and I really like them, but I can see that the sharper tip could easily become a personal favourite. The yarn slips smoothly along the shafts of the needle and they have the most amazingly flexible and strong cable. They are lovely tools to work with, but still I hope that somewhere out there, a manufacturer makes circs with a longer shaft.

I'm impressed with the yarn - Jaggerspun Heather - indeed this whole project. The pattern is just what I need, the stitch is great for the yarn, and it's to the size where I can feel the warmth of it as I knit. I really am enjoying it even if the shawl is at the point where it isn't growing no matter how much I knit.

And I completed these. Lucy Neatby Cat's Pajamas yarn (truly random striping), a basic sock adapted from the Yarn Harlot's recipe, toe up, using Maia's Toe up Gusseted Heel. I'm wearing them right now. This yarn is nice and squishy. It feels like heaven on my feet and the only shame is that this isn't the season to be wearing clamdiggers to show them off.

Mr. Needles gave me this lovely flower for my birthday. I've never had an Orchid as a houseplant before, so this lovely flower is going to be a real treat to learn with. We don't have a lot of places that the cat can't get at plants, so for now its in the bathroom which is lit with a small skylight. I'll probably have to bring it out to the kitchen, but I have to find a safe place first.

I did do some spinning. No, no, that seems to imply that I accomplished something. That I attempted some spinning is the truth. I have a leeeetle teeny tiny problem.

I've got 2 fingers and 8 thumbs. I'm going to look for my proper hands tonight.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Its going to be a lovely morning.

Its going to be a lovely morning. Now that it's light out, I can see there is a ceiling of clouds but it still has that 'nice' morning feel.

The feeling probably comes from the lovely birthday things I received, and my Christmas present arrived. I also had a small accident at my LYS, but nothing fatal. No yarn and only the needles I really, really needed. what happened was sort of like stubbing my toe though. It hurt but only at the checkout, and not that much at all, its just that all I really meant was to get some needles.

I fell for a spindle. And a book about spinning. And wool nicely ready and carded and just waiting for a newbie like me. Its 08 and time for a new obsession... Part of me is shouting wait, I didn't finish knitting yet and the rest of me is saying yeah, but just wait, maybe you can knit your own yarn.

I want it all, somehow. I'm greedy to know. If I never got beyond that, it would still be OK, just so long as I know.

Anyway, time to get that coffee and do a little more than pretend that my house is clean and that the laundry mountain is a 'small pile'. There is Christmas to put away, and rooms to restore. There is birthday cake to eat (not mine, but my niece's precious little girls)and Son1 and SS to pick up at the airport. Busy day ahead but I will squeeze some knitting in there somewhere. I've a wild sock to finish to ease a severe sock shortage.

I will post about my presents and my books and any new obsessions shortly. I haven't had this much blog fodder sitting waiting for quite a while.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Contemplating the number 5

I feel a bit like Ernie from Sesame Street this morning. But I am contemplating the number 5.

Five is a good number. Solid. Upstanding. It is right there in the middle of the numbers we first learn to count. When you are small and learning, counting to 5 is big (counting to 10 is bigger but for the purposes of this story way less important).

5 is the third prime number. In mathematics, a prime number (or a prime) is a natural number which has exactly two distinct natural number divisors: 1 and itself. Apparently this matters. It at least gives rise to this interesting article. OK, it would be interesting if I was still in school with an agile mind and an interest in math.

Back to 5. When you are little, 5 is a very important number. 5 is when you get to go to school for the first time. Maybe this extreme pleasure of childhood has been diluted somewhat by preschools and pre- kindergartens, but I still have never met a 4 year old who didn't know 5 was a very big number in a kids life.

The 5th element on the Periodic Table of Elements is Boron, which has the most versatile name. Who has not occasionally thought ' what a boron that guy is' while driving and seeing someone in front of you do something really stupid.

The Fifth Element was also a movie I really enjoyed. Pure stupid escapism with a really memorable Diva scene and a song that must be one of the all time best Sci-fi movie songs.

The first time the number 5 shows up in the calendar this year is a Saturday, one of the all time great days of the week.

And this year for the first time in my life, 5 is at the front of the digits which state my age, rather than its usual position in the second slot. Yup. The big 50.

I'm not bothered by the number of my age at all. Its kind of neat because I remember the year my mom turned 50(I probably forgot to wish her a happy birthday). I remember thinking whoa, 50. It was hard to believe that was her age (she was then and still is younger than springtime to me), and now I am there.

And you know what? I still feel the same. Whoa. How did this happen? WHEN did this happen? Did I miss anything? If I did, I'd have probably forgotten it by now anyway. There is some comfort in that.

The fact that I was 30 never bothered me, or 40, and not 50. What bothers me far more is that my little sister will be 40 this year. I'd have talked to my mother about that 40 years ago, if I'd have known my baby sister would, like, get old. It's just so wrong.

As for me, I intend to rush through my work a bit today and see if I can't get out of here by 3. I'd like to go over to my LYS, and see what they have in stock for needles before I buy. And maybe some birthday yarn. Or a ball winder. They may be picked over a little from all the heavy holiday shopping, but I am sure that they will have something I absolutely must have once I get there.

My friend Mostlylurking said in the comments yesterday "I've gotten to the point where I can resist the yarn, but I walk out the door with $30 worth of needles. So much better than what I was used to!" I feel exactly the same, only I'm not strong enough to resist the yarn yet.

Which totally explains how stopping at Micheal's to look for one measly kind of small needle meant I went home with a cookbook and 3 skeins of Kroy in what I think is the Crayon Jacquard and nary a needle in the bag.

I am getting myself a birthday present of some of those Signature Needles, but only if I get out of my LYS without having a yarn accident.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Needles and Knitting messes

I play with strings for two very different reasons. First and most importantly, I enjoy them. I like how threads feel running past my fingers. I love squsihy wools, fluffy acrylics, silk like cool bamboos, soft cashmeres, dainty mercerised cotton, soft linen floss. I just love how they play across my hands and go through some small implement and magic happens right there in front of me.

The other reason is to escape into quiet contemplation, into a place where I can hide where the world cannot follow, where I can focus outside of myself and just see something very interesting happen no matter what my day was like.

On rare occasions the world intrudes into my focus, and there is less of an escape there. When that happens I go intense. Hyperfocus even. Or I try. Somedays it takes hours to work off the stress. Yesterday was just such a day.

In the space of an hour I knit 6 inches on socks and then I picked up the shawl and knit on that for several hours. Even with my slow pace here to keep my tension as close to perfect as possible, the Tasha's shawl rapidly grew past what I was comfortable working on the straights with. So back to the sock. I then realized that I could no longer focus on anything. Time to put the needles down. No way was I ready for sleep. I would have watched TV but the blurry part was a problem. Reading was not an option so I started tidying my knitting needle container. Old circs and and old needle holders wound up inside the container were causing problems.

As soon as I picked up the wine gift box that I use as a needle holder, I realized that my hands were no longer gripping anything well. This happened. Sigh.

It looked a lot like my day. I realized that in this mess, I had a 2.75 ciruclar needle and it was nice and long. I thought I'd give it a try to see if I could maintain my gauge on the shawl. Close. Very close.

It looks ok, and it seems to be holding, but the problem is this.

Do you know anyone who knits a light worsted weight yarn with a 2.75mm? That just seems wrong and I'm doubting if the whole project will be too stiff (Swatch? What swatch? ) Its going back on the 3 mm straights, and I am going to get some proper needles.

Serious needles investigation is at hand. This knitting is pretty intense, and since I'm positive I will be doing it for quite some time, I'm going to get some really decent needles. I'll be checking reviews on some of these.

Denise Interchangable Needles

Signature Needles (dreaming of these)

KnitPicks (I'll link to this one later, they are down, but they have wonderful things)

Boye Needle Master

Addi Turbos

Plus the usual crowd of Susan Bates and others.

Shopping anyone?

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

First off, TBG, your comment made my morning. Sent coffee snorting all over the place. I'm thinking my keyboard needs a hairdryer.

Ahem, as I said back to our regularly scheduled stuff. Back to work, no more knitting the afternoons away, no more reading while it's light outside, no more seeing the sun (I have no windows near my desk). But there will be intense work on knitting, and intense trying to figure out my little 'Anne' shawl problem. This figuring threatens to consume me. I played with that as much as I played with my new shawl.

The new shawl is nice and safe. I need that at this time of year. Something comfortable to come home to after dealing with the busy after the break workload. Something which isn't too demanding. Something which gives so much in return. Its the perfect project for my winter hibernation.

The only problem I see is that I can't bring this to work with me till I get some different needles. The needles don't fit into my workbag. These long straights will be close to capacity by the end of the day anyway and circulars are going to become an urgent need. In fact I am going to be doing some investigation into how I can custom make some longer needled circulars to finish this project. Every time I work with circs, I find my gauge and tension go right out the window and I really don't want that to happen with this. I think its the short needles in my hands because I do see the same thing when I knit with short dpns.

As I sat knitting in the early hours this morning, I realized that I had not tried on my Lucy Neatby yarn sock. Usually a completed sock goes on my toes immediately it comes off the needles. That way I know if I have to make a change before I start the second. So I cleaned out the unbelievably cluttered workbag to find the sock (all those bits a pieces from holiday knitting) and tried it on. Its fits my pudgy feet to perfection, and the wider calf is perfect. I'm going to have to take a few notes on the calf increases though. Shoulda woulda coulda me didn't write a darn thing down and now I am regretting it. These delicious socks are going to be my workplace knitting for the next few days, and I expect to be wearing their cushy soft brilliance shortly.

I must now slip away to do my actual work, though I hate do. Yarny things are much more fun. Bring on the lunch hour, where I can sit and knit and regain an aura of sanity.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Knitting D Day

Knitting D day came and went with nary a whimper. The plan I had should work, but I'm not understanding enough yet about lacey things to know why it isn't. I suspect it is a matter of where I am putting the increases and decreases. Its bulbing out in the center, where the increases are, and yet the decreases cannot be near them, they must be on sections with a full count of stitches.

I have 2 choices for the Anne yarn. I can use it for a well established idiot proof pattern where there is no counting, or I can put it aside in all its loveliness and wait to use it till I do understand lace better. I'm putting it aside for now. I'll think about it a bit, and play on some of the leftover yarn I have to see if I can figure out what I am doing wrong. Anyway, logic is telling me my plan will work, I just have to figure it out.

As befitting a New Year, I started something entirely different.

I came across this on Ravelry. Nancy Bush's Truly Tasha's Shawl. The simple warmth and goodness of this shawl appeals to me in my chilly study. I'm hoping I can continue to work this on my really long new straights - nice metal needles chosen because of their relatively sharp tips - my gauge is so much more stable on straights. I may yet have to find some really long cabled circulars, though, and it may be that Mr. Needles may have to manufacture some with really long straight sections (but don't tell him that). The yarn is from a cone of Jaggerspun Heather in a 3/8 weight, with plenty on one cone for a sweater for an average sized person. It is a medium grade wool, so it may not be right for something to be worn next to the skin, but for a cardigan, vest, or shawl, I think this is going to be a great yarn. A good solid knit to start the New Year.

The last two years have been an odyssey for me. 2006 brought me the previously mystifying art of tatting, and 2007 has brought me to knitting. I intended to learn both properly so long ago - I have a tatting shuttle and needles older than half the people on the planet - but just never made the time and never found the persistence to work through my problems with each skill. Its just so darn nice to know how. Small pleasures bring great rewards and 2008 surely will be a year of rewards.

Happy New Year.