Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm Quivering with Excitment

In a burst of effort, I hit the finish line this morning. I'm really am that excited, I feel all trembly. I need to take a break before I cut the steeks. I like to steek naked, that is, without sewing the knitting, because the Shetland wool doesn't really need reinforcement and it makes for a more flexible edge.

It occurred to me at the end, as I was flipping this thing around on my lap, that I would have been done a lot sooner if I were a smaller woman.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the Wierd Wired World of the Internet

Like some mad magpie, I've got an odd collection of bibs and bobs for you tonight that I've picked up in my travels around the 'net.

Crazy Aunt Purl asked people today what was the weirdest thing they had ever knit. I found two people who knit squid. Yeah, there's two of 'em and they are both different. There's a Archie the squid and, perfect to go with fish mittens, a squid hat! I tried Googling that and found a pattern for a baby-sized squid hat. Hmm, I guess there's more than two. How many could there be?

It boggles my mind. I know many people have bought the fish mittens pattern with the intention of wearing them, but I will confess I've never entertained the idea. I guess I think of them as kind of alive and I wouldn't want to torture the fish by gripping things. I know, that sounds weird.

Today, I found a baby fish in a puddle. I was walking by the river and there was a good sized puddle on the path. I saw a wriggle and when I investigated closer, it turned out to be a little fish. It probably got trapped there when the flood waters receded. So I picked it up and flung it into the river. Even with the waters going so swiftly, I figured it would have a better chance there than in the puddle.

I won a contest last week. Yep, I won some of Maia's handspun, which I know is good stuff. Maia wanted people to guess how many colors she used in a fair isle sweater she designed. What a beautiful sweater and it's 25 years old! I hope my knits will age as well. It was a fun contest and now I have the fun of looking forward to a present in the mail.

Not only that, but I finally broke down and bought some Schafer Anne from the Loopy Ewe. I've been wanting to try this yarn ever since I saw someone at the Knitting Club working with it. I'm looking forward to some mohair enhanced socks next winter.

Finally, I would like to direct you to a virtual tour of Spruce Haven Farm which is "A low-input pasture based sheep farm near Meaford, Ontario, Canada." I learned a lot reading this website and I thought you might enjoy it too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Use Your Imagination

I'm having a hard time coming up with a family-friendly title for this post. I'm slightly damp from having just washed my car, and our garden and lawn are all squishy wet from the spring rain we had yesterday. Any title with wet, damp, or moist in it seems like a bad idea.

Today was sunny and warm. I left for work with the furnace turned off and the windows slightly open to let in some air. But the change in the weather certainly makes one think about a change in the knitting projects. I think the spring weather was partly responsible for this little item:

It's fun, it's funky, and I'm glad it's done. I had to push myself to finish up the final sewing. I think it shows, because somehow it doesn't seem to lie quite right. I think my set-in sleeves are off. A minor error on such tiny sleeves makes a big difference. Given that babies are wiggly and cute, I don't think anyone will notice. I did put in a nice tubular sewn cast-off for the neck band that should be soft against the wee one's neck.

I've also decided it's high time I finish up this project:

I've finished the armhole shaping, so now it's only the neck shaping to do. It was a little confusing for a while there because the neck decreases every third row and the arm hole decreases every other row. Plus, you are supposed to do the arm hole decreases 10 times and the neck decreases 24 times.

I'd put this project aside a few times wanting to savor it. In the beginning, I was avid for it and was worried I'd get it done too fast. But then, after the first repeat, I started to get bored. Fickle female I am. But the cool weather is almost gone, so it's time to "git-along little doggie"! I'm going to invest some serious knitting time into this.

Oh yes, and the sock progresses:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Natural High

This is Ted:

This is yarn:

This is Ted with yarn:

Any questions?

Oh, I couldn't resist! Look how happy he is with his new yarn. Ted the KnitterGuy was in London Ontario today for a family 'do but he escaped the family took time out of his busy schedule to meet with me at Needles and Pins for a yarn crawl followed by a cup of tea. We talked, we laughed, and we petted the yarn. Nothing more to say but, let's do it again sometime!

ETA: By special request, here's Ted off-kilter:

It seems to be a natural pose for him.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Get Ready for a Party

A seaming party, that is:

They yarn is Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, color 815. The pattern is from The Essential Baby Book by Hayfield that I picked up in a used book store.

And here's a quick tip for those who hold the yarn in their right hands: When casting off on the wrong side row, you can easily duplicate the look of the standard cast off (k1 slip the last stitch knit over this stitch) by using the decrease cast off (p2tog, slip the new stitch back onto the left needle). The decrease on the wrong side looks exactly like the standard on the right side. No more flipping the yarn front and back to cast off on the purl side!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Off on a Tangent

I got invited to a baby shower and I don't have many opportunities to knit for babies. So off I go, side-tracked again:

Talk about gratifying! I cast on for this Monday evening.

Before this little cardigan came along, I had got back to work on the Oregon Vest, I'm at the neck shaping now, and I made a good start on the Clessidra sock from the latest issue of Knitty.

Thanks to everyone for your input on the shawl. My thinking matches most closely with Ruth's, the combo of yarn and pattern just didn't come together for me. I'd love to see the Diamond Fantasy knit in some Sea Silk or some other shiny variegated yarn.

But for now, I'm off on my tangent.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sharing my Secret

I feel like I've been holding out on you guys because there's something else I've been working on during my vacation. A baby Fiber Fish:

This little guy was knit in Trekking XXL color 110. His tail has an extra row of mitered squares and his body has two less rows of entrelac. I wanted a fish of a different shape and color for this:

Fish as art! I had planned to do something more elaborate, with extra fabric to make waves and rocks in the stream, but we've settled on this for now. The boards are ceiling tiles that we've covered in tie-died cotton fabric. The fish are attached using straight pins so that I can take them off. This makes it easy to re-arrange them, wash them, or use them. There are some definite glitches, so we may have to do it again, but as a proof-of-concept I think it works. Jim has been painting our living room and this actually ties in with my newly painted front door.

The yellowish wall the fish are on will one day be painted the same color as the cream around door (the paint color is called "Glazed Bone". Lovely, eh?). Apparently, it will be a difficult wall to paint. We're also planning on painting the stair rail a chocolate brown which will tie in to the brown leather furniture.

The thing is, my whole family is very proud of the success of the Fiber Fish. It was partly Jim's idea to create this showcase, and to place it in such a central location of our home. And my children brag about the pattern to their friends. I've heard them do it! It's a wonderful, surprising feeling and I love them for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nice Try Spring

I guess my enthusiasm got a head of me, because it's back to gray skies and the possibility of snow for us here in Southern Ontario. Oh well, it won't be long now.

My knitting seems kind of dismal too. Here's a stack of swatches that are trying to look cheery, but instead look like a drift of snow:

I've answered the greater part of the questions that go along with these swatches, but there is still a bunch deal of work to do. The March Break has been a convenient time to do the Master's Program, since I'm not at a computer at work all day, I don't mind being on a computer at home so much. But it's dry work. I thought I'd try some lace knitting:

I'm not liking this so much. The pattern is Diamond Fantasy from Sivia Harding. It strikes me as a modern design and the yarn is a lovely wool, but with a touch of hairiness that feels rustic. Also, I have may have been spoiled for this pattern by Maureen's version.

I'm thinking of ripping it and trying the Trellis Scarf from Interweave Knits Spring 2006 instead. What say you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Buh-bye Winter

I am ready to say so long to winter. Here are my spring socks on old winter snow:

Pattern: Birch Leaf Lace Socks, by Nancy Bush, in A Gathering of Lace
Yarn: St. Ives Sunbeam
Needles: 2.25 mm

The pattern is sized for a ladies medium and I have a large sized foot which is why I went up one needle size. Also, I substituted a wedge heel for the band heel in the patterned which gave me the width I needed across the top of the foot.

We've been having warm temperatures in London Ontario, and today it should get up to 13°. There's been a significant amount of melting going on.

I love these socks. I'm so happy I finally have a pair for myself.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Masters

I'm four swatches into Level I of the KGA's Masters Program and I thinking that only two of them are any good. I've always considered myself a neat knitter, but this program is forcing me to scrutinize my knitting with the most critical eye.

Along with swatches, you have to answer questions and do research. The first question has to do with how stitch patterns effect gauge, so I knit the swatches that I need to answer this question. Here they are, getting a gentle blocking:

click for bigger

The stockinette must be blocked so it doesn't roll, but the swatches mustn't be over stretched.
Problem one, the garter stitch in the upper left corner has an ugly gap. That's the spot where I dropped a stitch. I ripped and reknit, but you can see the tension has changed there. Problem two is my stockinette. It seems fine on the front, but here's the back with the gentle morning sun shining behind it:

I've rowed out!

I always thought I was as even on my purls as my knits, but apparently not. It's so slight, I wonder if it counts. Fortunately, I fared better on my seed stitch.

No holes, no gaps. Maia, what do you think? Should I reknit those two? Too bad I couldn't have blocked them severely.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Off to a Good Start

The March Break holiday started off wonderfully. I finished off the Round Trip jacket on Friday and here it is blocked.

It fits as a shrug rather than a jacket, but it is soft and comfortable. I think it is just right for this time of the year as the weather warms up.

I've decided to do the Knitting Guild of America's Master Hand Knitting program. I'd considered the program before, but it was Maia that really got me going. Friday evening, I bought myself some Cascade 220, the office supplies I need and two video games for the boys, so I should be all set to get a good start on the program during the March Break.

I also received my books in the mail last week. I would love to make a wall-sized wheel tam and I love those sheep puppets! The Nancy Bush book needs no explanation.

I found the old sock pattern books on the left at a used book store. I wanted to know how they put the color in the sock like that. It's pretty easy, they knit the socks on two needles and sewed them up! It seems like sacrilege to me, but I do love the effect of the stripes going down the foot instead of across. And for Level II of the Master's program, I'm going to have to knit an argyle sock, so there you go.

Saturday, the boys were at a friend's birthday party for the afternoon, so Jim and I went for a cruise through the Museum London and a few smaller art galleries. The sun was shining, the company was congenial and we had a really nice time. Today there is more sunshine, and I've just turned the heel on the second Birch Leaf sock. I've got a turkey breast soaking in a maple brine so that will be supper.

I think I'm going to be in knitter's heaven this week.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Finally, a Finished Object

Pattern: Gentleman's Sock for Evening Wear by Nancy Bush in Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: St. Ives Sunbeam and Knitpicks Essential
Needles: 2mm

I've finally figured out why I didn't enjoy knitting these socks. It was after I'd finished knitting the first Birch Leaf Lace sock and I picked this one up again, I realized that the gauge was too tight for this yarn. It made the lace difficult to execute and the fabric is slightly stiff. I'm sure they will wear well, but I prefer this yarn knit on 2.25 mm needles.

My husband picked this pattern and he's happy with the results. Jim is a construction worker, he installs siding for a living, but he likes bubble baths and lace socks. You just gotta love a confident man.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I've got the week off next week. It's March Break and I'm the designated parent to stay home with the boys. I had happy visions of wild creations flying off my needles while my children enjoyed quality time with me learning to cook and sew on buttons. (My 10-year-old son said to me last week, "Mom, these pants need to go in the garbage." I checked out what he was wearing which looked newish to me. "Why?", I asked. "Because the button fell off." he replied. "My son," I said solemnly, "it is time you learned to sew.") But then I realized how much I have on the needles: three pairs of socks and two sweaters. There are also some "retired" pieces that I keep intending to get to some time a shawl and a sweater.

I'd love to finish some of these things, but I'd also love to get jiggy with my knitting. I'm thinking of fantastical fish and stuffed toys and lace. Not all at once of course! So this week, I decided I'd dedicate myself to finishing off some of my projects. And this is why I have no pictures for you, because it's just more of the same these days.

I've finished one sleeve of the crazy Noro shrug. It's going to be too small to be called a sweater by any body's criteria. I don't think I like the colors. They aren't ME. But that's okay. Maybe it wants to be a gift. Anyway, I'm on the second sleeve. Whoop. I've also turned the heel on Jim's lacy sock. It looks just like the first, only not done.

I am expecting some exciting things in the mail before March Break. I ordered some books and yarn. Hey, my kids will be getting some video games to play with, and I wanted some toys too. So now I'm just waiting for my fun to begin....

Are we there yet?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ahh...That's Better

Thank you everyone for the funny and thoughtful comments. You made me smile, you made me laugh, and you cured me of getting grumpy about grumpy people.

Also feeling better is my Birch Leaf Lace socks:

No more pulling!

No more puckering!

Happy foot!

I received some good suggestions on how to fix this one, but I have a good strong stubborn streak and I proceeded with my original plan. Plus, I know what I like. I'm very happy with the fit of the heel now and I like the little pointy leaf ends on my toes. Makes me feel like a dryad. I can tell that these socks will be perfect for spring.

Finally, I want to show you that I'm not the only one doing gorgeous knitting. This past week I have stumbled across (or have been push towards by helpful friends, thanks Maureen!) two examples of Oregon Cardigans done in the autumn colorway. The first is by the designer herself, found via Stranded on Fair Isle. By the way, if you like fair isle knitting, you must explore this blog. You'll be blown away. The second is a work in progress by Susan of the Rainey Sisters. What she's done with the sleeve of her cardigan is a major feat of engineering.

I know I knit well, but sometimes I feel like a rank amateur. I'm not fishing for a compliment here. It's really good to know that there are always new heights to climb, and new things to learn. It's good to have something to aspire to. This knitting thing never grows old, does it?

ETA: I've fixed the link for Stranded on Fair Isle. Thanks Vicky!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cheer Up Damit!

I've read a lot of grumbling on the blogosphere lately. It seems as though cabin fever has hit the net. What gets my panties in a twist is people bellowing on about how rude people are. I've never seen anyone turn pleasant after being chewed out for rudeness, have you?

While I was in university I worked at Herbie's as a checkout girl. At the end of our shift when we were counting our tills, one of the girls would always complain about how she got all the rude customers every day. I was surprised, because my customers seemed fine. How did she get singled out? And then I watched her one day. She never looked at people, she never smiled. She seemed annoyed to have be at work. If she got a miserable customer she turned even more miserable. For myself, I always smiled at my customers, I made jokes with them and if one of them was rude I would sympathetically comment on how they must be having a hard day. Sometimes, I found those grumpy people would leave my till feeling better.

Now I'm not saying I'm perfect. Not by far! My greatest failing lies in not treating my loved ones very well when I'm grumpy. But I think you take my point. And in an effort to keep the good will flowing, I'd like to direct you to some recent examples of cheer:

There now. Don't you feel better?