Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 Enough

I was reading over my blog this morning as I often do on New Years Eve.  Its a nice way of going through what was at the end of one place in time and the beginning of another.  My conclusion?  I lived.

Half the year was adapting to all the things that came after my hospitalisation in 2022.  That same half the year was beset by hand issues that are still being sorted and understood.  Much of the year was filled with worry about my youngest grandchild, Everett and would his troubles be sorted. (They were.) Much of the year was the joy of being surrounded by my grandkids and chasing after them and thinking about them as I worked. 

At the start of the year there was precious little knitting, but I learned to keep myself busy in different ways.  I puzzled, I wove on a pin loom, I did a whole bunch of miniature things for my cabinet house, I read many books. And then I knit blankets.  Lots of blankets.  Lots and lots of blankets. Ten to be precise.  Everybody has one.  Carter has two and even Jane and her mom and dad have one.    

I am really proud of them all.

I also completed several pairs of socks.

I am so glad I got these done.  I really needed them and am going to have to keep doing a few rows on socks every day for a while to replenish my sock drawer.

I did some kid things.

I did some me things.

I did some learning things.

All in all, even though much of the year was stymied by troubles and issues, these have been small things.  I had a great year and that is all that I can ask for.

I am surrounded by love, I am warm and well housed, I have enough.  That is so much more than so many have.  I never forget that.  I am blessed and that is enough.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Norwegian Knitting Thimble

Before I begin the big breaking news of the blog, hi to Wendy from Elmira. I hope you have a great New Year.  

And now,  Wow. Just wow.

Using a Norwegian knitting thimble or ring is amazing.  

I completed this in a couple hours.  I aimed to make a small close fitting cowl, something close fitting and almost turtleneck like. I wanted to be able to use it as a headband for winter wear and to be able to push it down and wear around my neck.  Headbands are everywhere this year and though it is small for a cowl, it suits what I want.  This is the result.  I will be redoing the cast off this morning.  It's sloppy and I can do better.  Serves me right for pushing when I ought to have left it for today.

It took about two hours using the knitting thimble and the above result is as it came off the needles.  No blocking.  It is impressively smooth for the colourwork I produce.  Using the little Norwegian Knitting Thimble made the whole process smooth.  It took all the effort out of it, all the worry about holding yarn to tight or too loose is simply not a thing at all.  The yarn just behaves, very much like you are holding one strand.    All of the very talented and nimble fingered among you who can do it off one finger without a thimble?  You have my endless admiration.  But thank heavens for the person who invented this tool.  The knitting ring is going to become a very treasured tool.  

A few things to know.  I knit continental.  Specifically, continental combined.  This tool is designed for use by those among us who tension and feed our yarn with our left hand.  I'm not sure if it can be useful for those of you who tension your yarn with your right hand.  But I trust the answer is out there.  

One after Christmas adventure was a complete success.

The second adventure begins today.  I need some new mittens.  My current pair have shrunk in length.  I wear them at night as a second layer over my wristwarmers on occasion. It is really great for easing mild arthritic pain. I need a new pair for going out and about.  

I am going to stick with this yarn and I am going to try double knitting some mittens.  I will use the rust and green to form a pattern to match the headband/neckwarmer.  Might as well coordinate, right?     There are a few times where a double sided fabric would be a benefit.  

Off I go adventuring.  I am buoyed by yesterday's success but will proceed with care.  Wish me luck.   

Wednesday 27 December 2023

The days between

I am having a lovely Christmas and Christmasing won't finish till after New Years, but I wanted to pop in and show you what I am up to. 

I have been wanting to get back to this long paused colourwork project, a vest from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Vests, the Scandinavian Star vest.

I bought a Norwegian knitting thimble to see if I can speed up and smooth out my colourwork.  I had one of these for decades but never knew how to use it, so was given away a long time ago.

Now, with youtube tutorials, I know how to use it.  I am going to cast on a practice project of some sort to get used to it.  I think a cowl or wrist warmers but I am not certain of the yarn or pattern yet. A bit of a stash dive will inspire me, I am sure.

I am also thinking of giving a go to a small double knitting project to see how that goes.  I took a class on the basics many years ago, and just never got around to it since.  I wasn't very successful at it, but it is time to give it another go.  The desire to learn double knitting has been lingering even longer than my wish to do brioche, a technique where I now have two projects on the go. 

I did have time for a few stitches on some socks over the last couple of days.  Not many stitches and not much time but enough to keep the edge off and to relax me before bed.  

I have been so excited for Christmas this year, more so than for many years.  I feel like a little kid about it and that is the best gift of all.  

See you soon.

Friday 22 December 2023

Solisticial Delights

This is it.  Last night at about 8:30 p.m., the darkest day was marked.  It is officially winter.  

And I am thrilled.  That means from today, days are getting longer.  We may be going into the coldest time of the year but the days are getting longer and that makes it all right.

I have cookies to decorate and butter tarts and buns to make but that is it. I might make some cheesecake tarts too but pie crust is easy and it doesn't take much to make cut out small circles.  This is the most baking I have done in years and I am loving it.  So is Keith.  He is the test pilot or quality control.  He likes his job. 

Of course I like to eat some of it too.  

I did no knitting yesterday but for two rows on a plain sock.  I did pull it back to the toe and pulled out the last two increase rounds to get to my desired stitch count.  

Pulling it back and making it the right size might seem a bit of a downer, but honestly, for me, making it right feels good.  It just means more knitting plus the finished product is going to fit nicer and there is nothing like a pair of handknit socks that fit your feet well.  

This blog is going to go on a bit of a pause over the next week or so.  I will probably pop in later next week, but I am going to take some days to simply relax and goof around and just play. There will be knitting but no serious push to finish things.  There are a few play projects in the planning stages and there is a good possibility that the only thing I will do is knit swatches for colours and gauge swatches or to teach myself new techniques.  There will be much reading of favourite books and finding comfort in familiar and the familial.  (My kids are all visiting)

From my house to yours, whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you the very best.  I wish for peace for all of us, for plenty for all of us, for joy in all the ways we need to find it.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Cooking Cooking

Baking continues, or at least icing the cookies.  I am debating gingerbread cookies, but they are always left on the cookie tray so it seems like a waste.  Around here, they would eat the candy off the gingerbread houses, but not the cookies themselves.  

I do have to make poppy seed rolls and that is what I will focus on today.  There are other things to do, but these are a family favourite so I will be doing at least a double batch of these.  They are a bit of a pain to make but they are well worth it. 

I need a prepping day too.  I am going to carmelise onions and chop celery and make the turnip casserole. Luda will make cabbage rolls and vereniki for Christmas day, and I will contemplate salads. Christmas is the biggest feast we have.  
Any knitting that happens is going to be socks.  It would be scarf knitting but there are no scarves on any of my needles at all.  

And off I go.  I am looking forward to the day, but at the same time, I am looking forward to the quiet contemplation of the days between Christmas and New Years.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Socks But Not Meditation

Cookie baking has commenced.  Today is more cookie baking and then tomorrow, icing the cookies and baking buns.  

When I was little my mom baked and baked and baked at Christmas.  She did that most of her life for us and though I cannot vouch for my sisters and brother and my dad, I can say that we showed our appreciation by eating it.  I have a feeling that as fast as she baked, we ate.  She is a very, very talented baker.

I remember at Christmas she would bake in the morning and then spend the rest of the day icing one type of cookie.  As she worked, whole dishpans would fill with cookies, before she was done.  She would make dozens of squares, chocolate ones, date ones,  and pies too, all sorts of things so our tables was always well filled for Christmas. Plus the turkey and stuffing.  Sigh it was a golden time in my memories.  I only know that when I attempt to do things like she did, I end up so tired.  I am not remotely the woman she is.  Even now in her mid eighties, she can still outpace me.  

Anyway, today I shall do a bit more baking, but only enough to keep the kids, big and little happy.  I would rather do a bit every once in a while, in part because that is more relaxing but also because I don't have the giant freezer she had.  

There was knitting on the sock yesterday, but not a lot.  I did take out one of the plain socks to look at this morning, and to knit on and you know what.  

I have to pull it back to the toe.  With the change in my foot size, it just doesn't need to be 72 stitches. The ones I am working on right now are 64 stitches and that fits really well.  So back to the beginning I go.  It means I have to have a look at the other pairs of socks on my needles too.  If they are 68 stitches, I can work with that, particularly on the plain socks, but if they are also 72, back to the beginning they go.  

I am going to have to look at these as well, but it will be an easy fix here.

It would be particularly sad if I had to pull back the other two pairs of socks.  One is my I Scream socks from Operation Sock Drawer. and the other is my A Drawer Full socks, also from Operation Sock Drawer.  

The I Scream socks are coming along nicely though when I started them, my brain was not really clear and there may be errors in the patterning.  Don't look too hard.  

I am doing them in regular commercial sock yarns to keep things budget friendly and dryer friendly, and I really want these socks.  They remind me of may dad so these are important to me but if they don't fit well, they don't fit so if I have them on 72 stitches, they will come out.  

The A Drawer Full socks are a bit harder to know.  If the colourwork is too tight, 72 stitches will be okay but if I am doing it right, 72 will be too big.    

I am not 100% sure of my yarn choice.  The colours are not doing what I hoped they would do so it might be okay to rip back and change it out for something that shows up better.  Or I could just keep going and let them be.  I really don't know.  That is if I have them on an amount of stitches that will work for my feet now.    

It is time for me to start my baking.  Christmas is soon here and there is much to do.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Lots to do

For all that it was a quiet knitting day, there were a lot of things to do.  First up, I had to weave in the rest of the ends on Janes blanket.  

It took almost no time at all.  This yarn is so easy to hide all the ends.

Then, it was time to get the blankets rolled up and into bags for giving.

Not too much fancy from me.  The bags are simply the best option and with a tiny bit of ribbon to holiday it up, it will do quite nicely.

The rest of the day was full of laundry and household chores but in the late afternoon, I had a bit of time to knit.  I pulled out all my socks and assessed the state of the various ongoing socks.  

I didn't want to do colour work and the two plain socks are barely begun.  Then I got to this sock.  I still love the pattern  but not for this yarn.  I just didn't feel any love for the combination at all.  With another yarn and at another time.


I pulled a few sock books off the shelf and took a look through them.  One caught my eye. 

This is Scottish Kilt Hose from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush.  

I'm not really interested in the fold over cuff but I love that little detail on the leg.  I have seen more than a few sweaters this winter with that kind of detail, a little column of alternating yarn overs running down them, or a columnar faggoting stitch.  It's one of those hidden gems of knitting: quick to knit, looks lovely, still rather mindless and is easy to read in your ongoing work. 

So that is what I decided to do.

And once again, Folk Socks surprises me.  This is where I found the best description of adding reinforcement on the inside of a sock.  

Folk Socks is one of those books that has been around forever.  It still is available and is well worth having on your bookshelf.  There is so much in it besides patterns.

As for me I am off to the kitchen today.  Cookie baking commences.

Monday 18 December 2023

A Spree

Four edges.  See them?

The blanket is finished.  Only my own blanket remains and that is going to be a pleasure from pattern to yarn.  For now, finishing this makes me feel really good.

That led to finishing these. My advent knit socks.  

I really loved making these.  Yarn from the stash and following the rule of seven.  Seven rows of colour, three rows of white.  I knit ten rows per day, one set of white and one colour.  It worked out pretty well.  In the end, I went with a plain cuff, even though I debated about adding single row stripes to it.  I tried it and it felt fussy and it took away from the punch of the clarity of the rest.  Better plain.

And then I still had energy and time left so I did this.

I finished another pair of socks.  These are Opal socks, from the painter series (famous painters and colour ways based on a work of theirs).  

Both pairs of socks are a little shorter than all my previous pairs.  Putting them on the sock forms reminded me that I have to peel off a bit of the sock form too.

There is something powerful about finishing a project.  I always feel strong and have such a clear sense of accomplishment.  Some people get that from cleaning a place.  My friend Debbie once said she thinks her hobby is cleaning.  My mom is sort of that way too, though mom always loved to cook too.  For me it is knitting.  Forever my happy place.  

I am feeling a bit of the usual lull that follows a finishing.  I have no idea what to pick up to work on.  Good thing it is laundry day...Wait.  What?  

Friday 15 December 2023

Garments that I love.

This mornings bright and early did not happen so bright and early.  I did not get out of my room till 10 a.m.  I had a long period of wakefulness last night and compensated for it by sleeping in.  It was great but I feel behind.  It just past noon and I am only on my second cup of coffee and I ought to be having breakfast but instead I shall have lunch.

I started my second to last stripe on my socks this morning having knit the yellow stripe yesterday.  

As I write this, the red stripe is complete on sock one and I am about to start on sock two.  I am thinking about the cuffs and how I want to do them.  They could be plain white like the toes and heels or they could have a row or two of each of the colours in them too.  I haven't quite decided yet, but it is fun to think about.

I am well on my way on the blanket too, so it was a pretty good knitting day yesterday.

I put on one of my lighter weight sweaters this morning, 

I will show you the unfinished photo because it really shows the shape of this sweater.  It is made in a DK weight wool and cotton and is one of the nicest things to wear.  I usually find it not quite warm enough for deep winter, but this year I am finding it is reached for often.  

It is almost perfect for today but my upper back still feels a bit of a chill, so I grabbed a shawl to put on.  When I was working at the yarn store, I wore shawls a lot.  Some of them stayed sitting on my shoulders no matter what I was doing, and that was exactly what I needed for today.  Something that would stay put but keep me just that little bit warmer is what I needed.

I even am colour coordinating today.  If that is not success, I don't know what is. 😁  

It is the Simple yet Effective Shawl by Laura Chow  and is one of my favourite things I have ever knit.  I knit it in two skeins of Noro Kureyon Sock.  The pattern was published in 2008 and is still being knit today.  It is one of those really nice relaxing knits that is always showing you something interesting about yarns and colour. It isn't particularly well executed.  That back spine is rather wobbly.  I had only been really been knitting a couple years at that point and missed that the markers sometimes slipped under the yarn overs.  Whenever I wore it to work, someone commented on it and in its time, it managed to sell more than a few skeins of Noro sock yarns. It reminds me of all the good friends I made working there and of one of the loveliest jobs I ever had. 

Past noon though it is, it is time to make my breakfast/ lunch.  I think an omelet with some whole grain bread toast is in order.  Or maybe some salmon with with crackers and pickles.  I'm hungry and that is all know for sure.

May Monday find that the blanket is complete.  I am going to give it my all.   

Thursday 14 December 2023

Renewed Vigour

Feeling pretty good about this.

I finished up the marled part yesterday.  I measured for the last inches four times and it seemed as if whatever I knit went into the black hole of knitting.  And then suddenly, it was done. 

I am positively giddy about this. The new colour makes it all feel fresh.  The rows now need to be counted to match the pattern on the other side (I noted the row count on my Ravelry pattern page) so it will be a bit of fussy work but I ought to be able to get it done in just a few days. 

No more giant bags around the living room.  No more large things lurking in corners. Wonderful.

Except for this yarn.  

And the blanket I plan to make from it.  For me.  The yarn isn't lurking in the corner though.  It is well mannered.  It stays tucked in one of my yellow storage stools, properly contained.    

I had started a Friesland Blanket, a really lovely design by Jenise Hope but I didn't enjoy it's center out design.  I don't mind that sort of thing in crochet, but not in knitting it seems.  It is lovely though and I will probably make a pillow one day.  When I saw this Blue Willow pattern, and knowing how I do love my cheap blue and white china things, changing the pattern felt right.   This one is going to be my cast on for the new year.  

Yes.  You read that right.  I, who have sworn off blanket knitting forever, is going to make her first cast on of the year a blanket.  

Wednesday 13 December 2023

The Marly Part

I was feeling a bit down yesterday about my knitting.  It isn't really surprising because sticking to one project when you like it but are not completely in thrall to it can get tedious in the long middle of a large thing.  It has happened before and it will happen again.  Thus is the large pile of WIPs born.

The desire to finish up all the blankets remains strong.  It is only one blanket and it is a decent knit.

The rhythmic nature of the blanket isn't quite as entrancing on the seventh go around, but it is enough that it keeps moving along smoothly. The marker notes where I did the math.  At that point I checked to see just how much more I needed to knit of the marl to get a blanket that measures between 52 and 54 inches long.

The border section is 10 inches long and the blanket itself was 35 inches long when I measured so a matching end section would add another 10 inches, making it 45 inches.   In order to get a finished project of about 54 inches, I needed to knit another 9 inches of the marl.  I put the marker on and kept on knitting.  

Just like the last Sock Monkey Cabin Blanket blanket I did, ball 1 of the denim yarn ran out a few rows ago with about 6 inches left to knit.  Ball 2 of the cream still has a few more rows to go, because knitting started with a partial ball of the cream from the previous blanket.  

At the end of yesterday I had 4 inches of the 9 marled inches I needed to knit, complete.  I am looking forward to getting to the cream because once I hit the different colour, it will all feel new and will knit up fast and furiously fun again.

I did knit on my advent socks too.  As you can see, there is now an orange stripe and a blue stripe knit up and it is looking very sock like.  

Because I kept up to the plan to knit everyday on these, I am much farther along than I thought I would be.  It is still 11 days to Christmas and that will be lots of time to finish them.  I am going to leave these sit for a day so that I can put all my efforts into getting this one last blanket done.  

The push is on but I am going to be mindful about over doing it.  I want to keep my joints in good shape for after Christmas knitting.  Because I have plans...lots and lots of plans.

Monday 11 December 2023

Blanket Yarn Blankets Are Done.

And so the long blanket-a-palooza is done.  Cassie's blanket is complete.

I still have ends to weave in but that won't take too long.  Its a good thing to do after my knitting day is done because it isn't putting stress on my hands and wrists.  The funny thing is this.

This is what remains after I finished.  I have very little of the Twilight Blanket yarn left and slightly more of the mixed colour.  I expected this because the darkest colour does a foundation row of single crochet as well as an additional pattern repeat of the navy at the end so the blanket could start and finish on the same colour.  What blows my mind is the Light Teal leftovers.  That large ball is solid.  I was pulling from the outside of the ball so the centre is still packed as from the factory.  There are the same number of rows of mixed and light teal so they should have used almost the same amount of yarn. The picture show the difference in what I have remaining.  Methinks that the factory gave me a lot more yarn than shown on the label.  

Not such a bad thing unless you were hoping to use up most of the yarn dagnabbit.

I am not quite done with the Blanket yarnfest.  Marcus asked for an amigurumi of Casper.  The colours I used for Casper in his blanket were originally bought for it but I was made aware he needed Casper in his blanket too.  

I had to get other yarn for the amigurumi so there will be lots and lots leftover. Oh well.  I will have to content myself that I will be using up all of the soft grey and the cream leftovers from the other projects. (Casper was a gold coloured tabby cat with a cream coloured tummy)

On the Advent Sock knitting, it goes well.

Heels complete.  I thought about doing half a heel a day and likely, I should have. The hands are a bit iffy this morning. Oh well.  From here on it is easy knitting.  

I did get in enough time on my other socks to finish that second sock heel too.

And now, with my hands iffy, I am starting to wonder if my approach to making heels last longer is still doable for me.  Even the heel flap on this sock was very hard on my hands.  Firm knitting on small needles is maybe harder than I can cope with.  I may have to switch to a technique that I read about a long time ago in Piecework Magazine.  

The magazine article was about mittens that were common in the upper northeastern US.  Instead of knitting a lining or using thrums, they worked yarn on the inside through the purl bumps.  I saw a similar thing done on socks by someone, Lucy Neatby, if I remember correctly.  Yarn was woven in through the purl bumps on the wear areas of the foot.  It will be much easier on my hands that knitting on small needles with doubled yarn.  So I am going to give that a try next year.

My day is well under way.  The second load of laundry is in.  The first cup of coffee is gone and it is time to go for my "walk" with my cubii and a hiking video from the Dave's Walks or Simply Hiking channels on Youtube.  And then knitting in between. It looks like the start of a good day.   

Friday 8 December 2023

Just a Bit of Knitting

Sock knitting was about all I got up to yesterday.

Simple is really enjoyable sometimes.  

I wrapped presents yesterday and spent a great deal of time wondering if I really was done Christmas shopping.  I also have two birthdays in December now, one of which I remembered because toys and the earlier one, which I forgot.  Sigh.  I always forget Isaac's till it is too late to reasonably order something and end up giving him cash.  He is now a licensed driver so he would have been easy to shop for too. At the same time, he appreciates the cash.  Everett is just turning one year old on Boxing Day but I remembered in time and made sure I had a gift to send home.  

I had planned to bake cookies today but I might save that and just work on blankets.  Though they are getting closer to complete there is still work to be done on them.  There is also some planning to get started for  a bit of a project for Marcus.  It was something he asked for months ago and that I sort of planned for and now have the yarn to do.  

But that is for tomorrow.  There is always stuff to do. 

Thursday 7 December 2023

Hey! I didn't know that was there!

This morning, we will start with the knitting.  

All my colours are now in the sock.  The green will start again tomorrow.  I am still having a lot of fun with it.  Stripes are always fun.

I worked on Cassie's blanket for most of the day and am thrilled to be able to tell you that it is 45 inches long.  So a couple more repeats of the three yarns and it will be done.  It wont happen today, but soon. 

After I was done for the day, I pulled out a couple of books from my shelf.  It always surprises me when I look at the old things.  They are such treasures.

The first is  Practical Home Knitting from 1949 published by Odhams Press Limited.  

It is filled with sweaters, twin sets, ladies suits, kid's things, men's things, big and small.  Many of the patterns are lovely and would work well even now.  

What I really came for was this.  

Every year at this time, I think about knitting myself some soft undershirts.  I have been thinking of this since forever.  I even have the yarn.  These thoughts strike each year as it gets to the true start of winter.  Its a baby pattern but there is no reason why that same idea and shape wouldn't work for me.  Olga bought this book for me in Kyiv and it is one of my treasures.  

Next I picked up another treasure from deep on my bookshelves.  The Good Housekeeping Needlecraft Encyclopedia.  Its a compendium of how to in all  kinds of handcrafts.  This goody was published in 1947 and was edited by Alice Caroll.

I was wandering my way through it, idly turning pages, stopping to admire things here and there, when the book opened on this page.  The day became considerably more interesting.

It is Pin Loom instructions.  Specifically the kind of pin loom that is now sold as Schacht's Zoom Loom .  

There is no header other than weaving and it does describe the most basic instructions about other looms, but this small pin loom is described as being produced as a 'Weave It'.  It gives complete instructions about how to use the loom and more.

It has several patterns included for producing various textures!

I was really excited to see these.  

I can honestly say that till I had experience on my little Zoom Loom, I would never have noticed the instructions.  Immediately before it in the book was Swedish huck weaving and I would have just skipped over that part.  I am familiar with huck weaving and while it is an interesting technique, not really my sort of embroidery.  My brain would have passed over the four pages before, unseparated and non titled or noted in any way as it is.  Now that I am familiar with pin looms, my brain recognized it and paid attention. 

I might try some when I get back to Zoom Looming small squares to make... you guessed it, a blanket.   

Will I never escape blankets?  Probably not.  

Wednesday 6 December 2023



I went light on the icicles.  It was just one step too far and I was feeling tired.  Beyond this, there are a few stockings to hang and some small nativities to put out but this is all I do for decorating.  Back at the house, I used to go full bore holiday mode, but these days, it is not so much the setting up that stops me.  It is the taking it all down. A tree and a few things is enough.

I did do a bit of knitting yesterday.  I did a few rows on this sock.  

I really do want to get this pair done before the end of the year.  The last few years there have been so few completed socks that my sock drawer is really showing it.  Two pairs of socks, (one previously completed) plus my Christmas socks will be a real boost.

And at the tale end of todays ramblings, my Christmas sock.

Its not going to win awards, plain sock that it is, but these simple solid colour stripes make my heart sing.