Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A 2013 roundup

I usually find myself sitting here at this time of year, knitting something new and interesting.  This year, I am knitting on the one little before Christmas thing that did not get finished, the second of the handwarmers in the pink colourway. I guess they will go in the box for next year.  

Most of all I am knitting to keep from thinking.  

There are good things on my horizons.  Beginnings,  moving forward, making a new way in this world, but my heart is set in 2013 and so it will ever be. 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

There are no choices but to move on, to move forward. Time does not stand still.  If it did, I would still be in those really great days between Brian's hospital stays and I would be sitting here, having coffee with him, and we would discuss the news and what we were going to do today even if the biggest thing in the day was how long a nap he was going to take. 

I look back with sorrow and longing, but at the very same time, I move forward, looking at the very good things that are happening for me and ever hopeful that they continue.  

Tomorrow I will knit something new, something fresh, something wonderful but today is for contemplating.  

Happy New Year.  It will be. I choose it to be.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas to All!

My kids all come home today and we do our big family get together tonight.  They will show up at various times throughout the day, when they are done work and we will feed them  and drink them and gift them till they are giddy.

I don't know what the next year holds, where the next Christmas will be or what the heck I will be doing, but where ever and whatever it is, my kids will be there, and that is enough.  I used to think that Christmas had to stay the same and that it couldn't be better than when I was a child but then I had kids and it was different and it kept on being Christmas, just different.  And so it will after this.  My kids will be here and that is enough.

In every deep darkness, there is some happiness if you look for it.  It might not be what you expected, and it might not be what your heart of heart wants, but it will be there.  You just have to let it come in.

A quick note for Christine, cast on 40 stitches, and k1, p1 around till it is long enough then add 1 gusset stitch every other row, keeping in k1, p1 pattern, till there are 20 gusset stitches, cast on 3 stitches to complete the thumb circle and k1,p1 till the thumb is long enough, then pick up your work around and pick up and knit 3 in the 3 cast on stitches and k1,p1 till it is long enough.  Not a pattern, because my batteries were dead on all but this desktop computer and I wasn't knitting by it!  It is what you do when you can't get to Ravelry.

I think I will be taking a break over the holidays.  My mom and my brother and sisters will have the pain pleasure of my company and I will have internet connection only if my brother remembers the password to mom and dad's router.  Or if I go to Tim's for coffee.

I am planning on taking along a sweater to finish and will take along another that needs reworking so I will have plenty of good knitting while I am gone.  And if I am lucky, I will get to stop at the yarn store in Saskatoon too.  

If I do get connection I will post a quick note, and if I don't know that I will be thinking of you.  Thank you all so much for reading and being there.  

So to finish as I started, 

Merry Christmas to all
and to all a Good Night.

Monday, 23 December 2013

More Knitting?

Yes.  There is.  For Christmas too so as you see, and I am running out of time.  

If today does what it is supposed to do, I must bake buns, make meatballs, babysit, clean up my living room, wrap gifts, and knit 3 handwarmers. 

Well 2 and a half.  I have one done already.

I might knit the hand part longer on the first one yet.  Daughter1 tried it on and with her more normal ones versus my pudgy stubby hands, the fingers ought to be a bit longer.  

These will go with the cowls for gifts.  I still haven't decided which set to give to the young lady.  Which is how I end up needing two sets.

A busy day ahead, but all the town trips are done, and ready or not Christmas is here!

There is going to be knitting after Christmas, but it is going to be much more restful knitting.

Friday, 20 December 2013

So far behind

I have a bit of a confession to make.  I haven't been listening to any podcasts recently.  At all.  almost a month.

It just felt like I did not have time to catch them all.  I do though.  Tons of time.  That concerns me, so I am starting to put together a concerted effort to catch up.

I did the Savvy Girls Podcast yesterday.  I only missed two of theirs.  The Knitmore Girls?  5.  5 missed.  I plan on catching up today.

If you need me, that is where I will be.  Knitting and listening to podcasts and sipping lovely hot coffee.  Sounds like a lovely day to me.

Well, I am actually rolling pennies.  My sweet husband always threw his pennies and small change on his side table at night.  over the years, he would occasionally pick out the dimes and quarters and nickels, leaving only pennies.  He hadn't done that for a while so I have about 50 dollars in silver change and about 30 pounds of pennies.  Maybe 40.  The box is heavy.  It will be interesting to see how much money this weight of pennies is.

Why now?  I have decided that this collection should be split equally among us.  It should be something we all can enjoy.  So I think that I am going to buy the wine for Christmas dinner with it.  A nice wine.  Something really special that we otherwise wouldn't have. Or something ordinary that we always drank, and a bottle of icewine.  Or Asti Spumante.  It had historical connotations for us, an in joke that only I know.

So I will wrap my pennies, listen to podcasts and sip my coffee.  And then, when days tasks are done, I will knit.   

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Nothing much going on.

I am sitting here, with nothing particular to write about that is yarny.

The most yarny thing in my day is that I am moving yarn.  While part of this is playing in the stash, it is a lot of work.  I thought most of my stash was in large containers.  

I was wrong.

And then I have to move the containers.  See?  Hard work. Not playing in the stash at all.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cat Bordhi Speaks

When I was in San Francisco, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by Cat Bordhi.  I came across some of the very quick notes that I made while listening.  There was so much more, but the more involved I became in listening, the more I did not write.

Here are a few snippets:

'Dream with no outcome in mind.'

'Learn how to trust meditation.'

'Spend time with ideas until they grow.'

'Honour your own sense of a thing.'

'The pauses are as important as the rest of the process.'

'Forks in the road are not always a choice.  Sometimes they are mobius.'

Some people might have taken these as just notes on a design process, but they really are notes for a more peaceful life.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


It seems this is going to be an unexpected day.

When I awoke this morning, I grabbed a pod of what I thought was coffee, but was in fact milk, so now I am having a french vanilla latte.

I did not knit a stitch yesterday, but I played with my wool. All.  Day.  Long.  And by working on the wool storage all day long, I could finally make it back to the chair where my knitting resides.  

I finished up the second honey cowl and you know what?  Once the knitting was all done and you could lay it down and look at it, it is really lovely.  Unexpectedly so.  I thought it would all blend in, but enmasse, the brighter of the two green pops out and plays off the forest green (olive and teal on my monitor), as does the purple.  Purple you say?  Yeah, I never noticed it before either.  It is there, just to the bottom it show up best, almost lost as a variation on the brown.
 I am not sure you can really see it here, but what you can see is the way the colours popped out.  Unexpectedly nice.

I am not sure what happens when others finish a project and find it turned out so unexpectedly nice, but I feel pumped. Or maybe it was that I finished it before 9 a.m. and I still had plenty of knitting time in the day that made it happen, but then I sat down and started this.

I've been planning some version of this cowl since the moment I saw it on Ravelry.  It is the Inspira Cowl.  If you look through the projects on this one, you are sure to find something that will turn on your creative energy too.  It sure got me.

Though this cowl is designed for 2 different colour changing yarns, I saw it in angora.  I don't know why angora.  Perhaps an encounter with a ball of it when I saw the pattern, but somehow or other, it led me to owning an unseemly number of balls of angora.  Maybe it was that River City had a sudden influx of the lovely soft Schulana Angora Fashion in a whole bunch of knit me colours.  I was pulled into Angora heaven, by this pattern and there was no kicking and screaming involved.

I am of course, not knitting it in that.  Well the colour part is not the yarn I planned for it.  I came across a couple of balls of Kimono Angora in my stash when I was looking through the  scarf yarns and set it with the other angoras in my stash and it occurred to me that it would be perfect as the CC colour for an Inspira Cowl.    My first thought is always to go for the strong contrasts, so I am working a dark gray with it, but now that I think about it, there is a soft purple in the angora pile that would work as the contrast for a much softer colour combination. That selfsame soft purple is what I always thought was gray in among the pink and golds.  I do have another ball of the bright stuff so who knows where this might lead.

I am going to knit on this a while this morning.  I expect to be covered in downy soft and ever so clingy delights.  This one isn't unexpected, but it still is very very nice.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Frankie Brown

There was a fair bit of knitting this past weekend.  I finished the cowl and started another.  Not another brioche cowl, but another cowl.  I would show it to you but it is on the other side of the pile.  In the meantime, let me tell you what I have been up to in between the knitting and the pile.

I spent a little time looking at my pattern highlights on the main pattern page.  and then I ended up favouriting some stuff.  All the stuff belonged to one designer, Frankie Brown.

I don't know if you know about Frankie Brown.  If you aren't prepare to be amazed.

What I have been favoriting is her striking patterns for her Woodland Wreath.  That one pattern is the basic construction.  Each day after, through December, she will be adding another pattern for little bits and pieces to add to your wreath to turn it into a customized masterwork.  Flowers and leaves, and mushrooms and wee creatures of the forest.  All play a part in it so far.

The incredible thing is, that these stunning creations, these interesting little diversions from your regular knitting, the famous 10 stitch pattern,  the Pinwheel Purse, the fantastic amazing shawls.  All these are free.  Frankie asks for only one thing in return.

A donation to a cause dear to her heart, the Children's Liver Disease Foundation in Great Britain.  That is not too much to ask of us in return.

So, in this season of giving, how about making sure to give just a little to places we all know like this?  Tis the season to count our blessings.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A little Christmas present

I decided that I would buy myself a Christmas present.  Not one that I needed but one just for fun and just because.  I already had some things that could be seen to be Christmas presents for myself, like the chair I bought so that I no longer had to push with my toes to keep me from falling out of my computer chair (Brian's chair did not go low enough for me) or the moving dolly I bought because I am so darn tired of carrying boxes or waiting for the boys to move the heavy stuff for me (I have a couple more moves in me, I am sure so it just makes sense)

So what to get when I don't want more stuff and don't want to buy more yarn (not till after I move and settle somewhere new.  Well not unless there is a yarn emergency) and want something that is fun?

You buy yourself a book.  Sure you have to move it but a book is not 'stuff'.  A book is a passport to something wonderful. A book is captured memory.  A book is a close companion on the days when a close companion and a cup of tea are all that you need. Which probably explains how it is that I have eleventy billion boxes of books.

In my various gooffing off on Ravelry, I came across some things that were from the newly published 'Lace One Skein Wonders' by Judith Durant.  A new One Skein book?  Time to check it out!  I have all the other knitting One Skein books she has written and edited and each of them has enough things in it that I will knit and use, that this book seemed a natural fit.  I am so pleased.

It has socks and delicate little things for your wrists.  It has plenty of lovely scarves.  It has hats and tams, and full blown shawls and stoles and baby things and the cutest little baby dress you will ever see, and dainty little household accessories and things that are knitted and a few that are crocheted...big breath...but where it really shines in my eyes are the cowls.

Sure cowls are the hot thing right now, but these are lovely little things.  Dainty and not so dainty, long, short, very open laces, small wee laces, Mobius and not twisted, end to end and bound off together or knit circular.  You want a lace cowl, you will find one that you love in here.

It feels as if I have not bought a book for myself for a while.  Most of what I have bought lately is electronic, which works for me in many ways, but some books are meant to be paged through and contemplated upon and pondered over in a way I just can't with an electronic book. This is one of them.  All for the price of a mere 20 dollars.  It is a lot of fun for the bucks.  No, I don't really need it but it is lovely to have.  A Christmas treat.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Hidden Riches

Nothing stays the same for long as we all know.  And so the blogger moves from things of sorrow to things of ...well not yet joy but things that please her.

Cowl one, finished though not blocked and ends not woven in.  I love the way this turned out.  I was not at all sure I liked the colours in this yarn.  They were so very different than what it looked like when I bought them (Oh the perils of purchasing online) and yet, in Brioche stitch, the colours look really very nice.  I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

Here is cowl two of these yarns I am indifferent to.

Up front, this yarn was much more pleasing, though still very different from the online colours.  The warm greens and browns felt nice.  In Brioche stitch though, the colours disappear.  It is almost too blended, too much the same.  Though my monitor shows strong pips of a warm blue green in this photo, up close and personal, it is a forest green and it blends so closely into the browns that you cannot see it is there unless you really look close.  Across the very well lit library space I was knitting at last evening, the two greens in this colourway were not visible at all. Still, it goes on and the knitting will not stop till the yarn is all used up.  Not everything is perfect.  Perhaps it is more a case of hidden riches.

So too in life.  Hidden riches. 

Not that I keep these guys hidden!  They are my riches.  They are my wealth.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Watching the news

You know how some things you watch on tv seem unimportant and far away?  

Well there are things going on right now that are coming into my home.  My Daughter1 is from Ukraine.  She left her country for her husband, not because she wanted to leave her nation.  Watching her go through this from afar, watching her anguish for her countrymen, for the peace and orderly life of her people is hard.

We are watching some live tv from Ukraine, a publicly supported station much like PBS, that does things on the ground, and on the cheap, but it is the most incredible coverage.  They are a force that the government does not control and has not been able to shut down and are doing a fantastic job of keeping people informed.

The situation in Ukraine is sad.  You have a president and ruling party that thinks they can do anything they want, defying the laws of the land.  They think they can put their people and their nation back in the box of oppression.  I don't think they know their people.  Whatever else this is abut, it is about this.  

The people are not going to go so quietly into the night, they are going to stand firm and see right happens.  They have not worked so hard to get where they are to go back.  My Daughter calls the Orange revolution kindergarten in comparison to this.

It has been brutal in some instances.  People she knows, people I know from their wedding have been beaten just for being there and recording the events, while doing their job as a journalist.

And that makes my heart hurt.  

In knitting, I have finished cowl 1 and have moved on to cowl 2.  It is brown and green and not nearly as exciting to knit.  The colours are there, but they are muted in comparison with the other.  Pictures tomorrow when there is enough to really see how it is going.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Brioche that actually gets finished!

I spent the day knitting on the Brioche project.  All of a sudden it is almost wide enough to be called complete. (The colours are absolutely true on my monitor.  Interesting stuff, yes?)

Even the longest middle eventually comes to the end.  It is about 8 inches wide and I have a little more than a  ball and a half of yarn left.  I am thinking of calling it wide enough and calling it a day and using the rest of the yarn to make some simple wristwarmers for the recipient.  

My question is, is it wide enough?  I have used 4 and a half balls of yarn and I love the way it looks now. It isn't going to drown the owner when it is doubled and close to the face.  No one will look swallowed by the knitting in this width.  In a wider cowl, you might.    I worry though that the young lady I am making it for will think it hopelessly odd because it is too narrow.  When you read Ravelry, most of them are 8 inches wide, but look much wider and I am the last person on earth to know what stylish young ladies are about.  

Anyway, I am going to knit a few more rows, and then cast off.  It will be what it will be, I suppose.  

The yarns colour placement is odd and yet, it never came close to pooling.  It looked like it would be headed there, but then completely changed spacing. I am very pleased with the way it looks in this Brioche knit.  It is an unusual combination of colours and if she doesn't like it, I still have the other yarn to fall back on.  its is brown and greens, a more traditional colour blend.   

Who knows if it is going to work the same, but I sure am happy to play a while and figure it out!

It will be Brioche again for this second colour.  Even though it seemed as if it would never grow, it knit up fairly quickly and was a lot of fun.  Brioche might be my technique of note for '14.

Monday, 9 December 2013

:Long Middles

It was a very busy weekend.  My special little guy turned 5.  His party was swimming and family and lots and lots of good things.  I think he had a wonderful day and so did grandma. His mom is still having trouble believing that her baby is 5!

I spent my knitting time this weekend knitting on that pretty green tunic.  It is actually starting to look like clothing and the shaping of this design is starting to really show up.

 You can't see it so clearly on this colour correct picture,  so let me try this.

You can just see how the shaping is happening on either side of that line of markers.  The pocket forms along here.  Its just kind of fascinating to watch it gently flow.  That gentle flow without a doubt is what attracted me to this pattern and I am so happy that my Daughter1 loves it too and wanted me to knit it for her.

And yes it is a real pleasure to knit for someone so tiny.  If there is anybody out there who knits small or medium and bemoans the middles of sweaters, quit whining. You do not know.  Trust me on this. 

I am in the middle on everything these days.  That Brioche eternity scarf is taking an eternity.  The Viajante is an awful lot of stitches now.  The eternity scarf is getting more of my time right now, but that is because it is probably needed under my Christmas tree.  

These are all projects in the middle, projects which need a lot more knitting till they are done.  And you know what?  I haven't been so pleased with all the things on my needles in a long time.  

I am as happy as a  piggy in a puddle in the very merry middle.  Which reminds me I have just a little bit of shopping to do!  Busy busy!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Did you know

Did you know that I have been knitting this brioche eternity scarf for three days and it has not gotten any wider than the first day I worked on it?  Brioche takes some gumption.

Friday, 6 December 2013


It is cold here this morning.  -30C or colder.  That is an ugly kind of cold and it is going to be a day where I hunker down and stay inside.  I think I am supposed to do something today.  I have no idea what it was, though.  I have been trying to remember and I am hitting a blank.  So if you are who I am supposed to be doing it with or for, please remind me. I hate when this happens.

Yesterday was an almost no knitting day.  But I had a lot of fun.  I went a did this (well mostly, I watched because this is their first tree.  I was happy to be part of it!)

and cheered this on
and played hide and seek and and games with my special guy.  I spent the afternoon with Daughter3 and we talked and talked and suddenly it was dinner time.  It was a great day. 

Unless I do have something I am supposed to do today, this is going to be a whole day of knitting.  We will pull out a few more Christmas decorations but mostly it will be knitting.  I have videos in the queue and knitting on the needles and all I need now is a cup of coffee.

Which is really a bummer.  I forgot to bring my cup down after morning coffee with Daughter1 and Sweet Thing.  Well, at least I keep all my knitting in one place.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Unfolding as it should

Wednesday was a very busy day with not a lot of knitting.  On the other hand, almost all my shopping is picked up from its various places and almost all my gifts are ready for wrapping.  There are a few things to do yet, but I am so very close to done.

We had a Christmas potluck last night at my friend Paulette's house.  This apartment is Paulette's first home of her very own and she really enjoys having company.  The ceilings are high and she has a light in the center of the living room ceiling, an old fashioned idea that really should make a comeback into modern architecture, so the light is bright and even and there are no dark corners.  It was such wonderful food.  Everybody brought a little something to compliment Paulette's chili and it turned out to be a really really nice evening.  Everybody was sensible when it came to main courses but that went right out the window when it came to cookies.  Every single one of us brought some kind of cookies!  It was a real cookie fest and it was lovely.   We were served a really great punch too in a very pretty punch bowl.  I haven't had a nice punch in so long.  It was wonderful and I think I am going to copy it for my Christmas too.

It made me think of how all the many ways that knitting gives me the path to move forward.

There is a large shawl from the prayer shawl ladies back home.  It is just a simple triangle done in a block pattern of 3 stitches. 3 corners, 3 stitches, a reminder and a prayer built into the very structure of the work.  I know the ladies who worked on this and I know the prayers that went into it and I am comforted by it.    

A good triangle shawl is really just the perfect thing.  I know that a lot of the shawls people make and wear right now are the longer, shallower, horseshoes and crescents, but a good triangle shawl sized right, hits all the right notes.  It covers your back and folds over your arms just enough that it stays put but never gets in the way.  A simple triangle is highly undersung. 

Then there is a lovely stole from my friend and travel companion from my San Francisco trip.  
 It is made from Rimu, a New Zealand product from  Zealana.  It is a unique 40% possum 60 percent wool.  If you get the chance to work with this, do.  I mean it really.  Do.  It looks a little flat in the skein but oh what loveliness when you wear it a while.  It blooms into the softest halo and just cozies right up to you to say, 'hey there, how goes it.  you ok?' and you wrap it just a little tighter around you and it just sighs and sits itself so close around your shoulders.  My friend made this thinking of me.  She knit this lovely warmth in high summer and I think of her sometimes sitting working on it in the heat.  It makes me smile and think of her and travels and good times and my heart is filled with peace.  

And other things too.  My travel friend gave me some lovely yarn to work with too, a local to her BC alpaca farm.  I know it is in the study somewhere but I can't find it this morning or I would show it to you.  I love it though.  It is that soft natural warm golden tan that looks good on you even when you feel you cannot wear browns.  I cannot wait to work with it.

And these treasures picked and and chosen with such care for me.
 This stunning Fleece Artist BFL 2/8, picked up at a shop in Halifax when a friend was on vacation there.  This one, though not yet knit, is one that I keep close by.  It is always in sight and those summer ocean blue greens connect me with places Mr. Needles loved to be.  In a perfect world, with all the choices in front of yourself, I think if given a do over, Mr. Needles would have happily been a beach bum and hippie.                      
 This is treasure for several reasons.  It to came from that east coast trip of my friends and is a colourway only for the one shop.  My friend got one for her and one for me with the idea that we would spin it together.  She has hers done and I am a little slow on mine.  I have seen it knit up and...want.  The turquoise and gold are so good together.
Then there is the harmony of blues and reds and a little of every colour in the universe that ever played out in our spectrum of light found in this bag of soft Polworth.  A friend gave me this as something to hold on to in the very early days of Mr. Needles diagnosis and I can only say that I have.  

And then there are the friends who I have never met like jessmadi who was willing to play a game in which I tried to 'sell' her my single Son2, using every power I had in my possession (ie, the stash) to get her to come to Canada and make a life with him and grandchildren for me.  Son2 is gonna kill me if he ever finds this out, of course, but having that silly game to play made some very dark days bearable.   And then how to thank the Savvy Girls and the Knitmore Girls who just were there to listen to and who will never really know how much it meant to have the podcasts to fill corners of the day to keep my mind moving.

And all the knitters that I knit with. There are dozens. Some are virtual on blogs and Ravelry and some are the ladies I see almost every week.  Some are you.  All they do is show up in their usual places, online, coffee shop or library and still they give an intangible gift.  They give me the gift of a place to go to and conversation and laughter and warmth and smiles and take me out of the corner where I sometimes hide and keep me moving forward. It is no small thing, this gift.  

Last night at dinner, surrounded by knitting friends in the warmth and comfort of Paulette's lovely home, I thought a lot about how lucky I am.  I lost the framework of my life when Mr. Needles died but the warmth and care of so many good people with such diverse backgrounds, from all over the place, these people who touch my life in so many ways, are keeping me going, helping rebuild a new way of being.  

I am thankful for each and every one of you.  It is richness beyond compare. You are my blessings and the universe is unfolding as it should.     

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Not a Honey Cowl

I was working yesterday in my study and I came across some yarn.  

Funny that.  All the yarn is in my study. 

Anyway I came across some yarn and rather than working on what I had planned for the day, I had the urge to try a honey cowl again.  I tried a honey last year at this time and was not successful.  Once again, not successful.  I do OK the first couple of rounds and then my tension gets tight and the cowl looks as if it is going to strangle itself as well as the wearer.  I worked on knitting more loosely, but it was never enough.  The little collar that the yarn in front of the slipped stitch makes, strangled and choked the life out of the thing.  

I give up.  No more honeys.  What to do with this interesting but oddly little yarn?  (The yarn is Bosco, an old Ornaghi Filati yarn)

It occurred to me that I could brioche it.  I did learn the stitch on my recent trip and it should work well with the odd colour sections found here.  The foundation knit rows from the Honey Cowl could be reused and the number of stitches would work well, plus I really hated to waste a perfectly good piece of knitting that was not twisted.

Brioche is such interesting knitting.  It is incredibly rhythmic.  It seems as if it should knit slower, because in order to knit one complete round, you have to work across the row twice, but because of the tempo and flow, it doesn't feel slower.  Much like a Two Row Scarf, you never notice how long you are knitting.  You just simply cannot stop knitting it. Very compelling.

I know that I stayed up way past my bedtime knitting this and I had to have a serious talk with myself about today's adventures before I could stop. 

This morning, even though I want to, I will not touch the brioche.  I will do the tasks of the day first.  There will be time for knitting with friends this evening, and that will be soon enough for me to enter Brioches thrall.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Big Needles

I love shiny metal neeldes.  I love the slip of them, I love the sheen of them - pretty pretty.  I love the tiny little clicks as you work.  But not in bigger sizes.  I don't like the feel of big needles in my hands.  It feels awkward and strange and...gosh darn it, I deeply dislike it.  I don't have very much yarn requiring anything more than a 6 mm needle because of how much I dislike great huge needles.  

And yet, I have to say, I did not mind yesterdays adventures in 8 mm needles so much at all.

I have been working off and on, on a mohair stole I started last year.    
 I was using the 8 mm needles from my Addi lace kit, and knit about half the stole on them.  

After that initial spurt of knitting, whenever I picked it up to work on it, it crossed my mind how much I hated the whole thing.  I liked the yarn and the fabric but could not make myself work on it.  I looked at it several times through summer knowing that what I needed most was simplicity but I just could not force myself to work on those needles.  

I pulled the bag with the stole in it, out about a month ago and kept it by my side.  I thought I could do a row or two at a time, as a knitting break from whatever the big project of the day was and I did, but I hated every single row.  Yesterday morning, needing a break from the fine green project, I picked it up, grit my teeth and started knitting it.  

I had enough.  It was the needles and nobody should hate the knitting just because of the needles.  This is supposed to be fun.

I went back into the study and dug around.  I thought surely there must be a pair of Susan Bates straights that would work.  Nope. 6 mm is as high as those nice short scarf needles go.  I sorted through books for a while because I could not get past my little bit grumpy at my knitting thing.

I had to move a jug full of needles to get to a stack of books.  It was filled with needles that did not have a home elsewhere, needles that I don't use often, specialty needles, needles with a surface I dislike.  My old Aero needles were there among the rest.  

I don't like these needles.  The points are stubby.  The yarn clings and drags and sticks.  They are the old fashioned straights.  But wait a minute. There was a really big set in there.  I grabbed a gauge to check the size and sure enough 8 mm, just what I had the stole on.  

It couldn't hurt to try these because nothing could have been less pleasure than working with the big metal needles.  I moved the stole over to the big plastic needles and you know what?  The next thing I knew it was 6 p.m. and there was very little left on the balls on the floor and I knew that I would be finishing the project shortly.   

Whumpffff.  Done.  

Two terrible pictures of a rather nice shawl.  I will get better pictures today with a helper and daylight.

I met my goal of using it all up.  
Just the smallest bit left.  Enough of the small ball for 1 row but not two.  I like it.  I like it a lot.  

The moral of this story is never toss out the old needles without knowing everything you can do on them.  Sticky needles are good for slippy yarns and that is that.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The wearing of the wool

Sometimes when I am sitting and not knitting, I am still thinking about knitting.  Well, OK, when I am not knitting, I am always thinking about knitting, but that is beside the point.  

This morning I was sitting looking at patterns at Ravelry, thinking about what I will knit right after Christmas.  

I have a hankering to knit these:

(note:  these are pattern photos, not my photos.  I didn't ask.  I know, I am bad.)

because, really, who wouldn't want something so lovely as these.  Sigh.  I have the yarn assembled and they will be mine.  The same colours too.  I don't usually do that and am a little embarrassed by it, but it had to be these combinations because they really are perfect.  Plus I already had the green yellow, with no idea what to do with it.  Yeah that is it.  The green one first, because...well, for no reason really, but it will be first.  Also, it will look great worn with its yellows and green in spring over a crisp white shirt.  Note to self:  Need new crisp white shirt.

And then after an hour or so of that and of scrolling through people's projects with these two patterns, I watched a little Poirot.  Then, between shows, I realized that I was petting the shawls that are on my shoulders this morning.  

Do you ever do that.  Wear something you have knit, and then find yourself stroking it through the day?  I do it a lot.  I love the feel of wool.  I love the way it feels sitting on my shoulders and I love the feel of it under my hands.  Be it sweater or shawl and sometimes even socks, like the ones I have on my feet this morning, 

I have knit some really nice wools, you know.  Really nice. 

What am I wearing this morning that pleases me?  
It is a good way to start a busy day.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Hunting for the right pattern

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 28 November 2013

After Sports, Knitting!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love it when a plan comes together.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Something that bothers me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is what bugs me.

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

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Well that was interesting

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 25 November 2013

And Now for Something Completely

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

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

I picked up this again.

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

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

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

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

Friday, 22 November 2013

Another quiet day

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

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

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

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

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

PS.  she passed!  Good job mommie!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Happy Feet Me

I finished one of a pair yesterday.

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

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Day of Stuff

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

I was working on this.

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

Then there was this.

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

And then, if you look again at this,

You will see books and books and books.  

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

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

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

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

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

I am not sure how it all fit!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Other Things. Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 18 November 2013

The slogging for comfort part

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

Last Friday:

And this morning:

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 15 November 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 14 November 2013

But there still is knitting

And now to update on actual knitting!  

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

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

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

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

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