Friday, 29 January 2016

Why You Should Always Have Coffee First.

And then you wake up completely uninspired.

Or maybe you just need more coffee?

Gahchhhhhhhhh.  Wait a few.  I DO have something to post and it is fantastic!

The Still light tunic is complete and I delivered it to Olga yesterday.  These photos really don't do it justice.  Not at all. It is just gorgeous.

The pockets are right where they should be.  While knitting it, I worried that they would be too high, that I had missed an instruction and started the increases too soon, that...well a hundred different things.
I worried that it would be too short and it is just about perfect.  She feels it might be too long!  I asked her to wear it once or twice and then we would look at it again and shorten if it needed it.  She felt it is too long to wear with jeans or dress pants, though it is really the perfect dress length and to wear with leggings.

My only wish is that I could have had my other daughter in law Amy try it on.  I think it would look great on Amy too.  It is such a lovely garment and a really great knit!  I am so glad she choose it, and I am so thrilled that she allowed me the pleasure of making it for her!

Sigh.  and that is why you really ought to have your coffee before you sit at the computer.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Working on Impulses

While there are always a thousands things I could be doing, and while I am prone to following my impulses in what I choose to knit, January seems to be a month where I am particularly apt to follow an impulse.

A while ago, I purchased  some lace yarn to make a sweater.  I purchased three colours and the plan was to use it, tripple stranded and to change out the colours one strand at a time, to get a lovely soft gradient effect.  That didn't happen, because I did not read closely enough, and the balls were only 25 grams and 200 metres, rather than my expectation of 400 metres and 50 grams. I have had 6000 metres of lace sitting here on the shelf wondering what I would do with it.  The idea of triple stranding got in the way of chossing something different for a very long time.  It sat and I looked at it.

And then  last winter, Brooklyn Tweed published this pattern, Agnes.  Just a nice comfortable casual fitting t shirt style garment.  It was particularly striking for me because my lace weights without a plan are exactly these three colours. And there is enough to double strand all three colours to easily knit version two.  I desire version one though, and hope to get enough yarn, by mixing a strand of a subtly different black with a strand of the homeless lace and alternating rows.  I am short only about 500 metres, so I know I have a black somewhere that would work.  I have to test it, but there is no reason this shouldn't work to resolve my slight shortage of the black.

Anyway, I was sitting here yesterday, debating starting a sweater for myself, and what would I knit, when this popped out of the long list of favourite sweater patterns on Ravelry, I jumped.

That is exactly how it felt.  I jumped from my chair, grabbed the yarns, confirmed that there was enough and off I was casting on.  and then I cast on again.  And again.  

The pattern is written bottom up, in pieces, and I just do not want to start from the bottom.  Fitting is so much easier from the top for me so I am converting it to knit that way.  I am also going to knit in the round once I am below the arms.  There is just no reason not to. that I can see yet.

Anyway, I am off and running today. I am winding the yarn for my daughter in law, Amy's sweater today.  She fell in love with Pole  and she absolutely adores the soft grey lavender Madelinetosh I have for her.  Another Joji pattern!  Hooray! I had meant to start her sweater yesterday but...

I didn't need to start a sweater for me.  I really was just meandering while I took a break.  A sweater for me just fell out and there it was.  Impulses. Not always a bad thing.  

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Much Better Now.

In bits and pieces, here and there, scattered through the last few days, there has been knitting on that thing I know so well.

You might recognize the yarn from last weeks sock choices.  I opted for an all Patons sock.  I had a skein of black Kroy and I voted to use that with the two skeins of colourful Kroy FX I had.  

I have knit other skeins of this same type of Kroy colours, and found that though they look striking on the ball, they lose something in a plain knit.  I also find that Kroy is a little short of yarn for a gents socks.  The black is needed but two row of black is also just the right number for a punchy accent that draws out all the fine gradations of colour.  Black for the toe, heel and top of the cuff and colours with stripes in between.  My kind of knitting.

Of course, all of this leads me to debate what socks I am going to knit for his sister.  You cannot knit socks for a mom, and one of her kids, leaving the other out in the cold.  Nu uh.

When I picked up needles for my these socks, I found, much to my horror, that there were two sets of sock needles bundled together. I know I have 4 sets of this size needle.  That meant I only had 2 sets of socks on the needles. Why I could almost panic at the thought. I may have panicked, but only a little and only for a moment. I knew I could fix it.  

As I am a wise knitter, with multiple skeins of pretty sock yarn and an unending love of plain knitting, I cast on a pair for me as well, also Kroy, also striped.  

  This yarn has a much more defined colour change.  

I only have one ball of this yarn, so yarn management is critical to get a nice pair of socks out of it.  I know it works with this yarn.  I have these as proof.

The striping on this new pair isn't quite as dramatic as the black and red socks, but it is interesting to knit.  You are always watching for the colour change so you can do something. (Interesting aside:  You can see the Still Light tunic in progress, under this pair of socks!)

 I do have two other pairs of socks on the go.  One is patterned and it is a a dark place on the coloured skein right now.  It is a little bit frustrating to knit except during the very brightest part of the day because I simply cannot tell the yarns apart and have lost track several times of where I am.  The other is an intensely bright neon orange and delights me to no end but...

I had two spare sets of sock needles!!  I had to fix that.  I feel much better now.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

On WIPs and Things That Look Like Well Worn Jeans

As always after finishing a big project, I kind of sit in a vacuum.  I mourn that that one is done, I think, and actually have to make a decision.  Decisions are hard.  Even with so many things in the queue to be knit, the actual decision of what to pick next is difficult  pick wrong and that puppy is going to be sitting in the bottom of a box somewhere taunting me for years.  And even though I am sad when a longtime WIP is done, I actually don't like having things in the WIP box that I don't feel like working on.  

The WIP box as a place I can go to get something good to pick up and knit, not to store things I wasn't really wanting or in the mood for, or any of the thousands of reasons we start a thing that we end up not liking.

Without a permanent decision for what I want to do next for me, I started a sweater for my grandson, Isaac.  He is the biggest of all my kiddies, and isn't hardly small anymore, even though he is only 7.  He is tall and  I am hoping to knit about a size 10 sweater.  I intend to knit a size 10?  I am praying I am knitting a 10.  The goal is to knit it a bit bigger than he is but not so big that he can't wear it now. Gosh, I hope that 10 is going to be big enough.

A size 10 sweater means about 30 inches in chest circumference.  I think.  That seems to be what the Yarn Standards council is saying, so that is what I am aiming for.

 I had the idea to start top down with this sweater.  It probably would have been easier to knit it bottom up and think of it in a more gansey styled way, but I got the idea in my head and here we are. I wanted to knit his with saddle shoulders and I wanted the sleeves to be knit contiguously.  So here I am, working away, and as yet I am not quite far enough to be certain that I have enough width to be 30 inches.  I think I do, but I am not 100 percent sure. I am going to have to knit a bit more till it lays better and I can pin it to get a really good measurement.

 As I did with his brother Carter's sweater, I am keeping to simple patterns.  For Carter, it was seed stitch and reverse stockinette and for Isaac, I am starting with a simple grid of knits and purls, 4 rows by 3 stitches wide. Only the top will be in the patterning, in keeping with the traditional gansey spirit, and the bottom portion will be stockinette.  I want the sweater to be easy to adapt to a growing boy.

And again, I am working with some of the yummy denim I have in the deep stash.  I know that many people don't like working with cottons, but honestly, I could knit with this all day and longer on Sundays.  It is soft and it just lays there, looking good, even when the work is uneven. It doesn't require blocking to make it look like something.  It looks great from the moment you begin, like a nice pair of well worn jeans. Who wouldn't like that?

Today is going to be devoted to washing and blocking sweaters.  There are the two new ones I have recently finished and there is a pile of often worn sweaters that need a good wash. While it isn't exactly sunny outside, it is bright here in my study and it feels like a day where I could get tons of things done.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

There is just nothing like it.

I know that no one is going to understand it, but each time I finish one of my long standing projects, I cry.  They have been my companions and in a way I will miss their being at the bottom of the box.

Nothing like it.  Nothing like the pleasure of a finished sweater.  11 balls of Drops Alpaca and lots of stockinette added to the glorious simplicity of  the design, the Still Light Tunic by Veera Valimaki.  

It needs a good bath and blocking and then a very little finishing, including a single button at the back of the neck...And then off to do a good sweater's duty.

I have always thought that I needed to knit sweaters, even long before I felt I could knit sweaters.  It's always the most incredible pleasure when that last stitch pops off the needles and I look up and there it is.  A complete sweater. A wearable garment.  

I have the ability to clothe myself and my family by the power of my own hands. That is such an incredible affirmation of my purpose in the world. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

In the Interests of Safety

In the interests of safety, I picked up the tunic and started the second sleeve.  It's going well.  While I was knitting the sleeve, I was contemplating again.  This is how I get in trouble, though it is usually only knitting trouble so long as I firmly direct my thoughts to knitting.

Today I was thinking about socks.  It has been coming on for a while now.   At Christmas at my mom's house, I ran into one of my nephews and he said, 'Hey auntie, what does a guy have to do to get a pair of socks."  I replied, that you just have to tell me.  So he says, "That's it?"  

And it really is. For a first pair when I am in a good mood and where the asker had no expectation of getting socks.  He was really just commenting on his mom's socks and teasing me about the sock knitting thing.  I suspect though, that he has stolen her socks when she is out of the house, to wear while he was watching TV.  He felt a bit bashful when I said yes, that I really would make him socks.  In the end, I asked him for a mandala, which he makes.  His mandala work off paper is truly stunning and all I would want is a paper design of one.  I would love to stitch one with blackwork embroidery. I cannot draw to save my life, but I would love one for it's symbolism filled with something I can do.  I know that they can be a very private thing, that the search for that path might be too personal to just give away or reveal to others.  He will get socks even if he does not wish to make a mandala. His sister too, just because.

I asked if he had a colour preference.  He just asked for something fun, which gives me a pretty broad range.  I am stash diving, because I do have an awful lot of sock yarn.

 This is a quick gander at the ones I think might work.
 The orange and brown DGB Confetti is probably the loudest of all of them, but DGB is always what I call fun knitting.  The other is Trekking XXL, and would make a really sturdy, long lasting pair of socks.  Might be a little less fun, though I do hold high hopes for the green stripes in it.
 Up next is the Arne and Carlos from my summer trip to Vernon.  From everything I read about this yarn, it is certainly classed as fun. BUT, the yarn is relatively fine with 210 metres on a 50 gram ball. Might need some heel reinforcing.
 Fine is relative in relation to this, Kroy FX, 50 grams and 152 metres.  These balls are my most favourite yarn in my sock stash (favourite as in Tove favourite).  I love these colours and it is hard not to like Kroy.  I would have to add a black, green or charcoal for toes, heels and ribbing, though, so that there would be enough yarn for the tall socks he wants.  Or stripes.  I could use a plain colour in between sections of the Kroy too.  Stripes are always fun.
Then there is another fun to knit, but more conservative to wear green DGB sock yarn.  I knit a very similar ball in blues and ended up so hypnotized by it, that I stayed up working on it, till 3 in the morning. I just had to see what would happen next. The blue and orange denim ball is one of my favourites.  I knit one ball of this up a long time ago for Brian, gave one ball away, and kept this one for me.  I must have really liked it, or surely I wouldn't have bought it three separate times.

And then there is a ball of Lion Brand Sock Ease.   I love this blue, even though I have been completely unable to take a decent photo of it.

It's a yarn I haven't worked with before, and I am little leery about giving away a pair of socks in a yarn I haven't torture tested.    I sure do like the way it looks worked up in a patterned something or other though.  It can be very striking.

I'm going to ponder these for a while.  There are other choices in the tub.  So much to think about and it makes me very happy.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Beware the Burst of Energy

After writing the post yesterday I went and had a good nap.  And then a little later, I had another.  I felt pretty logy and sluggish and just not right. I think the viruses are ganging up on me.

Anyway, I did knit in the between naps time.  I should have chosen to work on the sleeves.  I didn't, because I didn't have the energy to flip the tunic back and forth for those first early rows.  Once a sleeve is long enough, you can do a lot of knitting while the sleeve twists, before you have to turn it, but i n the early stages, no getting out of it.  You have to turn it every round.

I picked up the wrap instead.  Bad move.  You can see what happened.

I missed the last set of rows stepping down on the pattern.  I think I only noticed because I was debating bed or watch another movie and was holding the piece out and away so I could see how the almost complete set of 3 repeats of the pattern looked in relation to the other pattern.  

When I saw the error, I gave up and went to bed.  In truth, I am just relieved I noticed it before I was into a new pattern!  Note to self, if you don't feel well, pick up socks to work on, not the patterned project.

Today will be better, right?  Yes.  It will.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Of Eeyore and Pooh

I am in the middle of a really bad cold, pretty much down for the count for 5 days.  I started feeling better last night.  I could seriously do some stuff today and yet, I can't go anywhere.  My entire upper lip has formed one giant cold sore. Like a cold sore in triplicate.  Too much information?  I know.  I guess it is a good thing that I have so much yarn and so many books here.

So you know exactly what state I am in.

Even in the throws of personal gloom, there has been a lot of very positive things.

I managed another repeat of the latest pattern in my wrap.

  there will be one more complete pattern before I move on to another twisted stitch design. I am so glad I am using this yarn for it.  It just shows everything off so wonderfully.

I knit the bulk of a sleeve yesterday.

 I was at the end, close to casting off, when I realized that instead of ribbing I was knitting garter stitch.  I could have left it, but that is one of those small things that make a garment look right.  If you use ribbing everywhere else, ribbing should be at the sleeve cuffs too.  Today, sleeve 2.  It goes so much better on the right set of needles.

And that left me time for more of that contemplation thing I have been doing.  Yesterday, I contemplated this.

Madelintosh Twist Light. the multi looks a little out of place sitting there but if you take it out and open the hanks, and twist it and a couple of the greens together to really see how the colours look together, it has just the right sort of punch.  And more green that it seems in the hank.

I debated over this for a bit.  There wasn't quite enough of the green for a full sweater and I have so much yarn already for striped sweaters that I hated to add even more.  It struck me, though, that 4 of these generous skeins, 384 m each plus one of the coloured ones, would be enough for a fingering weight Shalom.  

My first Shalom bit the dust a while ago.

I wore it to death.  Cascade Eco is a great yarn, but I found it pilled heavily and the wear areas needed to be more firmly knit for a good lasting fabric.  I knit this on 5 mm needles and while the ribbed sections still looked great, the stockinette sections were in really bad shape.  I felted it a little hoping for some stability but it felted too much so done.

I am kind of eager to work with the Madelinetosh.  The richly coloured ribs surrounded by crisp greens.  Oh yes.   I can see it!

I love contemplating!  It makes me feel so much less an Eeyore and much more a Pooh. wonder what I could dream about today?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Mind, She is a Wandering

As soon as I finished working on my twisted sweater, I picked up the Still Light tunic to get back to serious work on it.

One of the things I wasn't enjoying was the needles I was using to work the sleeves.  I usually use slightly larger needles for the sleeves.  My gauge tends to be smaller and more even because of all the sock knitting.  The needles I had in the gauge I wanted were a set of 4 needles and I hate, hate, hate knitting with only 4 needles.  I slipped it onto a short circular needle, but that just was not making me happy, plus, as the sleeve grows smaller I am going to need dpns anyway.  I kept digging around and found these, which are slightly smaller than the ones I had been using yet still just fit into the same size hole on my needle gauge.  If the worked gauge ends up a little different, c'est la vie.  Anyway, I am settled now and made pretty good progress yesterday.  

Knitting theses sleeves, gives me time to contemplate this.

This is the yarn I was going to use for my Twisted Stitch Sampler wrap.  When it got voted off the island, so to speak, it stayed sitting out among all the other yarn that's in my working area right now.  As I was working on the sleeves, I found myself thinking about what it could be used for instead. 

It is a full cone, or almost full cone, of Custom Woolen Mills mule spun single ply yarn.  There should be something close to 1500 metres here. Somewhere in the cone stash, there are also partial cones of blue and green and white.  I found them in the discount bin at the mill store and they were all, really, just too good of a deal to pass by.  I originally only picked up the blue, green and white cones, thinking mittens or socks, but when the red cone was dug out by the staff member who said there was more coned yarn in the bin, I went for it.  SWEATER, was my first thought.  Colourwork was my second.  So I suppose that this lovely toothy single will once again be a sweater in my minds eye, with some blue, green and white colourwork.

Which made me think of the last time I was at Custom Woolen Mills.  Last time,  I picked up their new sock yarn.  Or maybe it is 'newer' sock yarn.  I don't ever remember seeing a wool and nylon yarn in the line up before.  Contemplating the red single made me think of the yummy softness of this newer yarn.  And how much I am looking forward to working this strikingly soft yarn from a rustic mill.  Which got me to thinking about...

Beware the wandering mind.  I am knitting a project that doesn't really need a lot of attention right now, so the mind is free to wander the depths of my stash, and dream of all possible things, of shawls and lace and wraps, and..

But dreams they will remain, at least for a little while.    

Monday, 18 January 2016

An Empty Bag

Today we have an empty bag.

We also have a very little bit of yarn left over.

Which means in the grand scheme of things. a sweater is complete!

 I have already woven in all the ends on it.  All the remains to be done is to find a button for the faux henley neckline bit, which you can just see peeking at the top, and a good wash and block.

I do have one other thing to do, and that is to reinforce the neckline.  This sweater, based on A Twisted Little Raglan by Anne Budd has a wide neckline.  I probably could have gone to one size smaller to start with, and knit one more row or two to make the neckline just slightly smaller, but I do like it the way it is.  It just needs to be placed on a firm backing so that it doesn't feel as if it is falling off my shoulders.  Each time I tried it on, I was wearing a turtleneck or other top and it seemed okay.  Because I plan to wear the sweater without anything under it, it is just a wee bit wider than optimal.  That is a good lesson to learn I suppose.  

Other than that one thing, I like the sweater just fine.  A good plain sweater, with just the smallest touch of something different. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Palette Cleanser or Panacea

Do you know what?  Trying on a garment in progress can be tedious, particularly when you put said garment on a piece of yarn rather than just popping it on needles.  Even more so when the thread breaks halfway through trying to put it on the string and then you eventually get it all back on and everything is ok, but you have a million ends hanging everywhere and you don't know what you tied off to what end and...

That is how my yesterday felt..

I opted for a split hemline.  I am going to give it 4 inches, I think and then we will see.  I could go a smidgen longer if needed, but 4 inches takes me to where I want the end to be.  The ends will be lapped, so if I don't like how it performs, if it flips or doesn't look like I hope it looks, I can always make it work better without too much pain.  It's a hem.  Good to go.

Of course that did not get settled on right away.  I had to put the whole thing down after the 'putting the sweater on a string' thing.  And when we put something in the corner for a time out, we must, perforce, start something new. We need a panacea.

I keep coming across some really yummy bits in my sock ends box. Not sock ends but rather the remainders of 3 very yummy skeins of Illimani Royal Alpaca.  I used them last year to make some gifts.  

There is a fair chunk left of all three colours, and it is so delicious a yarn that they can be only one thing.  A cowl.  Just a nice scarf width simple cowl in a mistake rib stitch.  I hope to get it long enough to wrap around my neck twice, but if it only makes it once, c'est la vie.

I will probably be fairly monogamous on the sweater, so this wee new project will probably sit till I have a strong need to do something else.  I do have that fascinating twisted stitch project to work on, but it makes entire days disappear and I really do want the sweater finished. It isn't a good in between project.  This wee bit of goodness will be a great palette cleanser between courses of sweater knitting.

Thursday, 14 January 2016


It was a babysitting day yesterday and it seems I forgot my plan to blog on location.  Oh well.

When I got home last night, I made a good dinner with my first ever purchase of sauerkraut.  I am not a sauerkraut eater.  Ever.  Well ok.  There was one time when I was little, but I told Dad I didn't like it, so he said to put sugar on it.  I did and sweetkraut?  Trust me on this.  Not a good idea, particularly when you are 4 years old. It had not ever crossed my lips from then till the holidays.  Over Christmas, I came across a sauerkraut and potato casserole and it was delicious.  That was my dinner last night and it was yummy.

With the comfortably filled tummy, I sat down to knit.  I am now at the point on my sweater where if I intend to split the side seams, I must do so.  I haven't tried it on yet to check out exactly how the fit is, but once that is done I will need to know what the finish will be.  

I am not even sure if I want that look, or if I should just opt for a shirttail hem, or just a hem.  So many choices so late in the game.  

Off to coffee and decision making.  It's a good way to start a morning.

Updated to add:

I am working on my NaJuReMoNoMo list of new to me novels, and I have to admit, once again, I am struggling.  It isn't that I am not reading.  I am, but I am right in the middle of a short version of a History of England, that I really am enjoying.  It's hard to pop novels in the middle.  I have only finished one novel so far, The Martian, which is excellent and well worth the read, but I am struggling to stay in focus with my second, Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin.  It is a lovely book.  I am really enjoying the way she uses language, but I am struggling staying focused.  I have started another Miss Silver Novel and that seems to be going a bit better.  Maybe 2 this year.  We shall see!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A little twisting

As much as I love knitting the twisted stitch wrap, I am giving at least equal time to the sweater.  I just want to finish it up and get it off the needles and into my wardrobe.  A good plain sweater.  I need a few more of those in my wardrobe.

It shouldn't take too long.  I am past the thinking part and I don't have to worry  about having enough yarn.  I have 5 full balls left and already have 14 inches of fabric below the armscye,

 so another 4 or 5 inches maximum.  I get a healthy couple of inches out of each ball of yarn so I am good to go. Though there is a swath of stockinette to go, it never really feels like you aren't getting anywhere.  Just when you are wondering if this row will ever end, you get to side seam marker set one, and then you knit till you wonder and voila, side seam markers number two!

I love this small touch down the sides.  It is a break in the smooth field of stockinette, just a touch of texture that says, hey, I am here and I am special.  It doesn't whack you over the head with texture like the twisted stitches on the wrap do.  These just are, and if you notice them, great.  If you don't, your loss and they are ok with that.  They have their own little thing going on and they are quite content with it.

I am still debating the hem treatment.  It's getting close to where that would have to happen, if I do it. I want to knit another ball of yarn and then, I think I am going to put the stitches on a string, rather than on needles for a try on. You get a clearer idea of how the garment drapes and sits with something softer than the cables of needles. Knowing whether a split hem is right for this sweater, is going to depend on the drape of it. 

Anyway.  A little more unthinking knitting before I need to know.

Monday, 11 January 2016

A long time ago

Now that my father in law is in a low level care facility (Home care comes and assists him.  Cooking is provided), his house is being sold and the family is taking care of all the things he did not want and could not have taken with him to his new home. As things are being divided up, I am getting what would have been Brian's.  Most of it is being passed on to those of my kids who want it, but I wanted to show you this before I tucked it away.

Mary Maxim, craft store to the far flung Canadian woman, had a lovely little sampler for Grandparents.  It had clouds for your grandkids names around the phrase 'Grandchildren are the Treasures of Life.'

In the early 80's, I was just starting to get into cross stitch.  So many of us were.  I crocheted, I knit a very little and not so well as I liked, I quilted a bit, I sewed a great deal for my kids.  I did what needed doing.  I wanted to make that sampler for my mother in law.  She was not into embroidery at all,  so I knew it would be the perfect gift for a very hard to gift person. She always appreciated handmade things, being a very talented craft person in her own right.

What I did not want to do, was have to buy what was then, for my household, a very expensive kit.  We operated very, very lean.  It was the days of high interest and low return from the farm.  It was our pea soup days. There wasn't anything to waste.

So I searched through some old magasines I had and found a little motif and created this.  

The fabric is Aida cloth and the work is done with DMC thread.  I started using DMC thread because my mom used DMC thread and I had inherited her thread box.  I consider that a stroke of luck because DMC threads had a much broader range of colours when I began doing a lot of embroidery.  

You can see the outer edges of the work.  They are, most horrifically, bound in tape.   This was, at the time my magasines came from, a recommended way to stop the edges from fraying.   Horrifying to think of it now, and it should have been removed, but the way the frame was constructed, we needed a firm edging to mount the work in the frame.  I would do anything to be able to redo it now.  I should have sewn a strip of bias tape around it for mounting and stretching properly.  As it was, the work was tacked to the frame and that was that.  

Brian had made a frame with ends of the ash he was using as he built their house and he built to the size of the fabric before I started embroidering.  Once the work was complete, I washed the piece and disaster struck. The embroidered fabric shrank.  I was desperate.  The holidays were imminent and I had no time to rework the piece to fit the frame.  I had more aida so I used the sewing machine to sew a wide buttonhole stitch around the work to connect it to the larger aida backing fabric.  It turned out well enough and the picture hung in their living room undisturbed, but for the adding of three more grandchildren as the years went by.

It was the very first large embroidery piece I did.  I worked many large pieces over the years.  I wish I would have taken pictures of them as I finished them.  There were some truly lovely pieces. Birth samplers.  Lots of those.  Wedding samplers.  All kinds of lovely things. I don't know if anyone still has the work, but I like to imagine that somewhere, somehow, they are treasured, even if it is only in memory.  

Sunday, 10 January 2016

My brain hurts

I have been sitting here knitting this second pattern on my wrap for a couple of hours now, and while I am pretty sure somewhere down the road the zen will come back, right now, things are far from zen.

It isn't a hard pattern or a particularly hard technique.  Few things are terribly hard in knitting so long as you set your preconceptions aside and just do exactly what it tells you.

There is a certain syllogism to knitting, a linear progression where you do this and then you do that and you get this. Yet for all the unswerving logic, the pure pleasure of knitting is when you make an error but the error is good, sometimes even great, and creates something with its own logic and its own syllogistic perfection. 

But as you can see, my error has no logic or perfection.
It is about the 4th section from the start of the pattern round.  By the 4 time you knit a repeat, it should be in ones brain well enough that you don't have to stop and think it through.  And that is the problem.  It's exactly the same as the counting problem in lace.  Sometimes counting to two is a bridge too far.

I'm over thinking it. After learning the section the first time through, I just knit with the feeling that I was really coming to understand the subtlety of the pattern. And I was, because the next two sections were right.  On that 4th section, I caught myself wondering if I was doing it right. Had that thought not popped into my head to interrupt the flow of what I was doing, I probably would have done ok.  As it was, I did not.

I redid this repeat twice right after I knit it.  Then I moved on, and stopped to admire my work and saw it was still wrong.  I slipped the stitches back and redid them...wrong for the third time.  I will be re-knitting them for the 4th time, when I get to them as I work the next round. 

Trusting myself the first time is something I need to improve on.  In a lot of ways. Till then my head hurts and I think I need more coffee and I continue to search for the syllogism in my life.

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Most Amazing Thing

I worked on the wrap piece yesterday to the detriment of the sweater.  Long plain rounds of stockinette are hard to stick to when I could be knitting something so interesting and so hypnotic as the wrap.  That first simple stitch I did was really quite zen.

About midway through that first section I wondered if the stitch would get boring.  And then promptly went into the 'zone' and found that I'd be at the end of a 6 row pattern repeat without even realizing that I had switched rows.  Very zen.  Not at all boring.  

As the piece got bigger, the cable of my needles seemed to be an issue.  It seemed to develop this weird bend in it.  I think it was the piece getting heavier pulling the cable down a bit but it felt odd in my hands.  Still things happen for a reason.  While I was checking that out, I found myself looking at the other side of my work.

All my emphasis is on the things happening on the outside of it's current tubular form, but just look at what is happening inside.  Baby rope twisted cables. Depth.  Poofing rows.

I remember reading somewhere, how new a technique Aran patterning is, how it never really appeared as a unique form till early in the 1900's and how the first 'traditional' pieces showed up in the 20's.   The article or book, (I really don't recall) felt that the rise of Aran patterning was not from old sources, but developed as women from one part of the world saw women from other parts of the world knitting in the large immigrant centers in the vast sweep of immigration in late 19th - early 20th century North American.  The writer's theory was that Irish immigrants who were turned back, took what they saw on the needles of  other immigrants home with them.

Looking at what is happening on the backside of that simple first pattern makes me wonder if this truly is how it happened.  All it takes is one knitter, seeing something that she could not quite get out of her mind.  And then with a huge need to support a family, knit a something different that she sold. And that others in her small island or otherwise isolated community saw and copied and then everyone started doing a little of this and a little of that. Before you know it, something new and unique was taking the world by storm.

Since I can't recall where I read this theory, I can't verify it.  Really who could?   Things arise and happen and before the internet and the rise of Ravelry, these simple knitting things, taking shape by the fires of homes all over the world, were not recorded for posterity.  They just appeared.  They arose from the hands of usually nameless people who created magic with what was at hand.

And that is, quite simply, the most amazing thing.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Non-traditional traditional

This pattern section is almost long enough.  I think another two motifs will be just about perfect and it will be time to switch motifs.  I caught myself wondering just where in the pattern I was yesterday.  This motif has become zen, that place where you know you are knitting but you can just let go and it seems to knit itself.  I love that place in knitting. 

I also love the way this is working out.  Now that there is a nice piece to assess the stitch pattern, I did find myself wondering if I should have been knitting on smaller needles. I don't think so, but it was worth thinking through.  

If you were sticking to the traditional knit form, from the Styrian Enns valley, you would be knitting this much more firmly with smaller needles, so the twist in the stitches would show more crisply. the fabric would be rather more firm and dense.   Traditional knit patterning developed to suit a particular want and need.  My want or need may or may not be the same.  It is important to understand a traditional knit style and why it was developed.  I think it's important too, to be able to reproduce it and work it should the need or want arise.  At the same time,  to blindly go forth and knit something in a traditional way, that doesn't suit your own personal end goal or end use for the project?  That is just silly. 

I want a wrap to snuggle into.  I want my fabric to be softer and a little more relaxed.  I do want the lovely patterning displayed but I do not want dense and firm. So this is not really traditional.

Tradition changes.  When I was a kid, my Christmas tradition was Christmas Eve at home with mom, Christmas Day with Grandma Struck, Boxing Day with Grandma Diederichs.  It was surely sacred and immutable.  And then we had kids and some Grandparents were gone and things changed.  We moved far away and things changed again, and again, now that my generation has grandchildren.  Traditions are not so solid as we think they are.  Tradition is a picture in time and only pictures really stay the same. Only the big general things stay the same.  Everything else changes ever so slowly and ever so slightly.

Knitting is progressing on my non-traditional traditional piece.  I don't know what the next element will be but there are dozens to choose from.  Dozens and dozens.  The plan calls for the next element be just a little more complex and that is about as much of a plan as there is.  I am right here with the rest of you, waiting to see what pops up next.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Going through

Today is going to be a day for going through stuff.  you would think that I have gone through all the stuff I have, but honestly, when you live in one place for over 20 years, even when you don't mean to, you accumulate stuff.

Today, I bring you this.

4 large boxes of old VHS tapes we recorded and a selection of movies that were once Christmas presents for our kids. I went through 1 box of these before, but it is time to delete the remainder from my space.

There is a stack of things to go through because there are no labels on them, and some destined for video capture, but I mean to see the vast bulk of these be gone in short order. Part of the process is not knitter friendly and part of it is very knitter friendly.  So I am kind of looking forward to it all.

There will be knitting. I am debating the green sleeves, but I am not sure I am quite ready for the push to get them done yet.  It might interrupt the push to get the other sweater done and I am on a roll with that one.  

I am also going to work a little on the Twisted Wrap today.  That has a deadline, well a finish line really attached so I think I need to work on that a little bit every day. It is easy knitting, and it goes fast.  The changes in the pattern as your move row by row, always keep you focused on going forward.  That takes me to that knitting place where knitting time and knitting space meet Einstein's relativity theory.  (Of course Einstein was thinking about knitting relativity :)) In relation to the rest of the day, time and space just fly.

I have to say, I am really enjoying working on the wrap.  The first section is turning out beautifully and I am so pleased.  Even this single small basic element worked en masse, across the whole of the fabric is making such a statement.  It is capturing everything I was looking for.  In just a few stitches.

Like.  Bigtime.   

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Birthday Thing

Birthdays just have not featured large in my life. As others whose birthdays are so close to a major holiday know, a birthday isn't a big day. Don't get me wrong. Our birthday was marked as special and it was never forgotten but it was not a big deal inside my head. Well it is, but it is a quiet and intimate kind of thing.

When your birthday happens far away from Christmas, there is a little build up when you are a kid. "What do I want for my birthday?" "What will I get?" The dreaming of presents plays large in the minds of children but I suspect the build up to a birthday is what remains with you all your life. Your birthday is coming up and you are excited because that is how it always is.

When you have a birthday right after Christmas, you don't ever feel that birthday build up.  Ever. Your build up is Christmas and as a kid you are still too satisfied with your Christmas stuff to worry about birthday presents. Generally. Even if your Christmas didn't get you the specific thing you really, really wanted (Lego), you did get things that were wonderful like the dollhouse which I am sure I wanted just as much.

This exact dollhouse in fact. (The picture is stolen shamelessly from an expired ebay listing but the picture remains, floating forever on the net) My sister and I got one like this for Christmas. My brother got a barn. Best Christmas ever. Ranks high in the family memory for many reasons but mostly that my dad made cow pies for the little plastic cows in my brother's barn. This kind.

See? Cow pies. It was a farm kid thing. For an embarrassing number of years I did not know what regular people called these. They were cow pies to me.

What birthday present could ever come up to that memory? None that ever stayed with me, though I am sure that they would have, had my birthday not been so close after Christmas. It was not at all that I didn't get a birthday or a present at all. It was just that it really was hard for a birthday to live up to Christmas.

Without that buildup, you have an entirely different relationship to your birthday. My birthday became a day that was very personal to me, a day where the best part is doing what gives me great personal satisfaction.  

I am not quite sure how that happened, but it is possible that it is connected to how I felt about doing the dishes. I hated doing dishes. On your birthday, you didn't have to do the dishes. All the other kids had to and you could go watch TV with dad or you could get a book and read, or you could play with that wonderful aforementioned dollhouse and your brother's barn. He couldn't stop you. He was drying dishes.

Birthdays were a day where you could do something special, just for yourself, something that you really wanted to do. And that is still how I see and celebrate my birthday, doing something that I really want to do. Some years, I baked bread for my birthday. Some years, I played games and read out loud to my kids. Some years, I knit. Some years, I recovered love seats, well a love seat. Some years, I play in my yarn stash. Some years, I read a good book and some years I just play with them, moving and rearranging my library. What I never ever do on my birthday is dishes. Seriously. Never.

My birthday just means something different to me. It is deeply personal and intimate, this quiet sense of satisfaction, the quiet sense of accomplishment, the quiet sense of delight, of joy. It isn't anything weird like I am trying to hide from my number of years. It is just that I feel a little uncomfortable when other's acknowledge such a personal day. 

And all because my mom and dad gave me the gift of not needing to do dishes on a birthday. Seriously. Big. Gift.

All about the Twisted

As I was digging through the projects last week, my hands kept wavering over a sweater that I started last spring and knit in a hurry, and then dropped only for it never to be seen again.  I think I kept looking at it as sweet release from small green tubes.  I was getting a little tired of the idea of little green tubes on my daughter in law's Still Light Tunic.  The sweater looked like this in May.

I knit that far on it in just a few days and remember how much fun it was working with that yarn.  The yarn is Sheepjes Donna, a long discontinued line.  I think the construction of the yarn makes it such a pleasure to work with.  It has such bounce, such life.  

I stopped after I tried on the sweater, shortly after this picture was taken.  I did not like where I had worked the increases at the bustline and felt the sweater would be so much better if I changed their placement.  The sweater sat since that try on day, waiting to be pulled back and reworked.  That is my usual response to things I am not happy with.  Make them sit.  Not an effective response and I am working on that.

I let my hands waver just a little too long the other day and voila, magic.  

It is very much a 'not thinking' knitting project and without feeling I worked on it at all, the offending section was pulled back and reknit, with the increase stitches added in slightly different place.  I just kept on knitting and am now at the waist.  I zip along without even realizing just how long I have been working on it and how much has been done. I love when that happens.

In a way, I am glad that I did not finish it last spring.  This year, one of the things that seems to be showing up in new designs is a split hem treatment, sometimes almost a split side treatment.  There is a beautiful example of this at the Rainey Sisters Blog  .  Another is the shirttail hem, styled after the long backed men's shirt style like the Lipstick pattern has .  I honestly don't know if either suit me, so I plan to pull out the old tools to see if they work.  (The old tools are from a sweater class I took many moon's ago with Sally Melville.  It is like playing paperdolls with your silhouette, and it will tell me what the most effective length will be.)  

My original plan was just a plain sweater, just something simple and ordinary with the only fancy touch being the subtle twisted stitch detail that I loved so much about this pattern in the book.  (The book being A Knitter's Handy Book of Top Down Sweaters  by Ann Budd and the pattern being a Twisted Little Raglan) 

I mention that twisted stitch detail and I think that is where I will finish up today's sweater love. 

I love that detail and the small intricate interest it brings without overwhelming or being difficult to execute.  I stop and it look at the way it looks in a field of otherwise plain stitches quite often.  So perfect.

Yes, this is another project using twisted stitches.  That I was inspired by this and am now working another far more detailed twisted stitch project is no surprise at all.     


Monday, 4 January 2016

Here we are in 2016

Well now, isn't that odd.  No posts at all till today!  What is the world coming to?  Bahahaha

My sister came and spent New Year with me, which was lovely, and then it was the last of the holidays and it is now time to get back to work.  Or whatever the heck it is that I do.

I have been pondering resolutions for some reason.  I think the last few years I have been too shell shocked to think about resolutions and goals of the year but this year, I am thinking about it.  I only have one really and that is to knit more for me and knit more big projects. I have done so many small things in the past while and some nice major works would be a lot of fun to plan and execute.

One of the podcasts I follow has a craft all the things for new to you techniques going on right now, and I decided this would be a great idea even if I am not really a craft along kind of person.  I have a lot of plain knitting happening, shawls, sweaters, and a fair number of small stockinette tubes aka sleeves.  The next up sweaters are a size 8-10 boys sweater, mostly plain stitching, and Pole, which is all plain.  A new to me technique is just the antidote needed for a plain knitting overdose.  So I jumped in and decided to start a twisted stitch sampler.

 Several years ago, I bought the book, Twisted Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher.

I love the way these twisted stitches look.  I love how they are complex and yet simple at the same time.  Ordinary cables seem almost too bulky to cover a whole sweater with, but these low relief but high detail masterpieces?  An entire sweater in them would be a homage to intricacy.

I read the book several times, and I took a class in this technique when I was in San Fransisco a couple years ago at Knitlab. (Knitlab has been replaced by Yarnfest.  I may have to look into Yarnfest. There doesn't appear to be a hotel component and class prices are incredible!) The course was just a short one but it was very interesting and resolved my big questions about the technique that arose from the way the book was written. 

It is a very simple, particularly in the round and part of the course was to show how the resultant motifs could be decorated as they often would have done for traditional costumes. I wasn't planning to do any of that on this wrap, but you never know.

I sort of wanted to follow Mrs. Zeckler's lead (a knitter who insipred the book's author) and the lead of all the people who made samplers to remember and share patterns.  I had a skein of red yarn, albeit a fingering weight yarn that I planned to use. I was aiming for a lighter weight wrap with incredible detail. 
The yarn has one small problem.  It is a single ply.  According to the book, the best yarn for this technique is a plied yarn with good twist. An unplied yarn might possibly make the project bias.  When you are hoping for a rectangular stole with crisp shapes, bias is going to matter.  It was also a more sticky yarn that I thought.  I did a couple inches of it twisted to get an idea of gauge, and it wasn't really fun.  It felt really draggy.  I might get everything I wanted from a project with this yarn, but if I wasn't having fun, it would take years.  And years. The craft along gives me till March and I really want to be done by then.

I opted for a a basic worsted weight, natural coloured yarn, a much more traditional look.  A more traditional look, perhaps, but I have the yarn and it will do nicely.  the wrap won't be nearly as light but I am sure I can use another snuggly reading by the fire kind of wrap. I don't have a fire, but I do have the right kind of chair and lots and lots of books! Good to go.

I am starting with the very first chart in the book.  Just a simple slanting line of stitches that moves across an field of three purls.  I veered from the chart in one respect by accident - I worked an extra row before starting the second slanting line of stitches.  It adds just a touch of difference to the look but it is quite nice so I will keep the error and run with it.

Each section will be 6 or more inches long and the row counts will probably vary up to 8 and maybe even 10 inches.  I am going to let the stitches determine the right length of panel for their complexity.  The goal is to show off the stitches rather than having tons of different stitch patterns in my sampler.

I don't know what pattern will be next.  I am going to play it by ear but in general my plan is to have the patterns become more complex for the length of wrap I want and then go back to simpler patterns ending, once again with very simple patterns.  The patterns might repeat and might not.  That is a decision for another day.

Time for coffee and to see what trouble I can get into and knitting. Some plain, some not so plain, but all very good.