Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three Monkeys

Here's proof of how much my guys love me. In reverse order we have: "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."

Alex is wearing my brother's scarf which ended up being as long as I am tall and I still had yarn left over. The yarn is Noro and the pattern is the one popularized by Brooklyntweed. It's addictive and fun.

Jim is wearing a Walmart sweater and a Sideways Short Row Hat that I whipped up this weekend. The yarn is Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit, which I bought when I took my mom out shopping to Len's Mills. We had a lot of fun and I only bought this hat yarn for myself. I did buy other yarn of course, some Austerman Step for my mom's birthday and some Bernat Satin for my mother-in-law. My mom also got a pair of socks for her birthday, the Sunbeam ones.

Luke is wearing an improvised hat made from Paton's Soy Wool Stripes. The Christmas knitting progresses......

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Dream of Yarn....

The TechPubs team where I work has been in training sessions all week, learning to use a very complex tool. We've had a fair bit of frustrations, and at such moments I find myself dreaming of yarn. Never mind the stash, I want to wander a yarn store and fondle something new. And although I am within walking distance of a most tempting LYS, I haven't had quite enough time to make the trip at lunch, or after work.

Luckily, I will be making a trip this weekend with my mother. It's her birthday soon, so I've got a pair of hand knit socks for her and we're going to yarn crawl to Len's Mills. My mother-in-law is out of yarn, so I need to stock her up. Fortunately, she likes acrylic and I don't, so I'm never tempted to keep what I buy for her. I think my mom has some leftovers she's going to share too.

Today I did manage to squeak in a trip to the London Public Library. I always search through their used books and this time I managed to nab these three:

I was trying to decide which one to get, when I noticed the price, $3 each. So I got them all! Knitty-Kat, did you say you were looking for another copy of The Complete Encyclopedia of Stichery? Send me a message if you want it! I did manage to snatch a read in The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework which was pretty funny since it advises the reader to use asbestos to keep needles polished and damp hands dry. The third book is The Reinhold Book of Needlecraft.

I also managed to get a fair bit of sock knitting done, in between reboots, syncs, and troubleshooting.

This is the vintage Paton's pattern called Diamond. I like it well enough, but it's a large sock, you know?

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Well Rested

We had beautiful weather this weekend. I took Dexter for a walk through the woods on Sunday and the forest floor was carpeted with leaves. He bounded through them with a grin on his face and his tongue hanging out. We stopped at my special rock and I laid back to enjoy the bluest sky I've ever seen overlaid by a gold and orange maple. The quality of the light this fall has been ethereal and the colors luminous. It feels like winter will never come.

We still have flowers in the backyard and this Monarch butterfly stopped for a sip of nectar, likely on its migratory trip south. Apparently, they are a little late this year.

I took advantage of the glorious light to give you a better picture of the Noro scarf. I know the colors could be dodgey for some guys, but my brother Gary is an artist and an independent thinker, so I'm hoping he will appreciate the colors.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Taking a Pledge

I was re-reading the Yarn Harlot's archives last week, and this morning I had an epiphany. I don't take joy in my knits. I'm always finding some little thing wrong with them instead. Self-evaluation is a very useful skill. It lets us learn from our mistakes. But I let it come between me and my feelings of accomplishment and pleasure in a job well done. Stephanie enjoys what she produces. It puts her in awe, thrills her, and she wants to share that joy with everyone (even the muggles).

So I hereby pledge to learn to take joy in my knits. I know I will continue to see their faults, but I aim to accept those faults. I'm going to love my knits.

To that end, there's a picture of me wearing the Halcyon Aran on Flickr. (Blogger won't let me post pictures right now.) I've worn it today and it is just perfect for walking the dog. It keeps me warm, yet ventilated. I find nothing beats a wool sweater for outdoor exercise.

Also, I've spent the afternoon and evening falling in love with a simple scarf knit in Noro Silk Garden. In fact, I'm writing now, since my hand hurts because I knit too much. But I love the feel of the yarn, it's soft and keeps you away with the odd poke of vegetation. The colors are doing things I didn't expect them too, but because I'm using only one colorway, I'm trusting the magic of the yarn to make it work.

My knits aren't bad, they're just misunderstood.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Night Knits go BAD

Ah Friday night! Time for some relaxing knitting as a reward for a week's work. But my knits have turned on me. They've gone baaaaaad.

Father's glove had to be tinked back 2 rows first, but I finished up the palm. Then the numbers wouldn't match up at the fingers so I tossed it aside and picked up Jim's Urban Aran. I finished the back, whoo hoo! Ah, but I can't find the smaller sized needles to cast on for the fronts. Screw it, I've got other projects. Vintage Paton's sock is too streachy, I don't know if I should rip or not, so I'll just ignore it for a couple more days. Oh, there's a hat that needs a crown, but I have to hunt up the right sized DPNs and can't be bothered just now. I only want to knit! Girls just wanna have fun knitting! Dang, here's a plain sock, I'll work on that.

So I sit, knitting endless rounds of stockinette, dreaming of lace, and planning my Saturday morning attack on all these knit projects gone bad. I hope your Friday night was a good kind of bad.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sock News in London Ontario

Tonight a gang of London knitters on Raverly had a meet up. It was great to meet so many talented local knitters.

Aren't they a great lookin' bunch? And see all those socks?

Hi Knitty-Kat! Shes the one with the big smile looking straight at the camera. Doesn't she have beautifully curly hair? I wish my hair would do curls like that instead of my on-again, off-again curls. Kat has curls that let you know they mean business!

Nadine of Balkan Style brought her first ever sock.

It's a rockin' good sock. And here we have me blogging Elan, blogging the first sock.

You've got to check out what Elan knits. Holy Moses. She's got creative bones, this lady. Her knits are currently being displayed in the Landon Library. I have good intentions to get me down there this weekend to check it out. The funniest story, which I take as a great compliment, is that when I entered my fish mittens into the Western Fair last year a lot of Elan's friends thought it was her design.

In other sock news, I've finished up one pair of traveling socks. This pair go into the Christmas gift pile for my brother-in-law Richard.

I loved working with this Trekking XXL colorway at this time of year. The yarn glows with the autumnal palette. Then I started another pair.

These are from a vintage Paton's book. I haven't decided to whom they will go to, but they are definitely a man's Christmas present. Actually, I'm worried they might be too loose.

I'm in no danger of knitting through the sock yarn stash though. Look what I won in CC's blog contest. It's a beautifully shiny and soft merino/tencel blend. Thanks CC!

Halycon Aran

Halycon Aran was completely knit, but it languished in the sewing basket until I got the call that the Forest City Knitting club was having it's monthly meeting, at which point I whipped it together in short order!

Pattern: Halycon Aran
Yarn: Blackwater Abbey, color Silver
Needles: Addi Turbos 5mm
Mods: I shortened the sleeves. The 52 inch size is intended for a man and I don't have a man's monkey arms. Also, I knit the neck in a manner that made sense to me. I picked up as many stitches as made sense. Then I decreased them away at a rate of approximately 25%, all the while trying to maintain the pattern from the body. I wanted the cables to flow into the ribbing. I'm quite pleased with the result.

I'm perfectly satisfied with this sweater, though I don't think it's a flattering look for me. The sleeves are just the right length, and the body is too. It will keep me nice and warm when I play with Dexter this winter.

I have some yarn leftover. I think Dexter needs a matching dog sweater. Maybe after the Christmas knitting is done.....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Comfort Knitting

I'm a little sad today. I've been reminiscing about my family this weekend because my father's mother passed away on Thursday. My Memeh (a childish French name for grandmother, I spelt it how it sounds) was a lively lady in her 94th year. As the matriarch of a large family, I didn't have a very close relationship with her. Still, I've been remembering her, and the moments she impacted my life. She was gentle, liked to laugh, and she believed in me at a time when I didn't believe in myself, which meant a lot to me.

I think this is part of the reason I fell so hard for a knitting project this weekend. I started a Selbuvotter mitten for my mother on Friday night and finished by the end of the day Saturday. Today, I started my father's glove.

I tweaked my mother's mitten by changing the cuff pattern and I made up the thumb pattern too. The Shelridge Farms Soft Touch fingering weight is perfect for these mittens. It's soft, smooth and just the right weight. I'm really enjoying working with it.

I decided to start my dad's glove from the leftovers of my mother's to see if four skeins of fingering weight would be enough for both. I'm enjoying how these mittens are similar yet different. They feel like ying and yang.

Somehow, knitting these gifts for my parents just feels right and comforting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Not to Knit When it's Hot

London's weather broke temperature records this weekend. It was lovely to be enjoying summer weather in October, but it certainly put a kibosh on my plans to finish up the Halycon Aran. I had no desire to sit with a pile of wool on my lap. Right now it looks more like a pile of laundry than anything else.

So I worked on a sock. Then I decided to start my next big project, the Urban Aran for Jim ala Brooklyntweed, because nothin' says lovin' like knitting chunky wool in high summer weather.

The yarn is Rowanspun Chunky, color Cardamom, and it has a fuzzy texture to it somehow.

I must say it is very soft which is great because my construction worker, former cadet instructor, tough guy, husband doesn't like his sweaters to be itchy.

I guess he's just a big softy.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving! Saturday I cooked a turkey with all the fixins. Sunday my family helped me eat the feast. Today is Thanksgiving Day and I'm resting.

I feel very thankful for the abundance in my life, of family, friends, food and fiber. I should have taken a picture of what we ate yesterday, it was fabulous. Everyone was very grateful that I'd cooked the turkey the day before since the temperature in London was so high. But, instead of food I have pictures of fiber to share with you. Yes, finally, the stash aquisition pictures from FibreFest North.

First up, when we arrived on Friday night, Ted had swag bags for all of us that included his homemade chutney (very tasty Ted, had it with some fried ham the other night), some chocolates, a Philosopher's Wool video and my favourite thing, this skein of laceweight from Sheldridge Farms:

I don't even see it on their website, so it must be a new yarn. It's soft and lovely and I think I'll make a pretty little lace scarf from it.

Then at the Lindenhof Wool Mill, I had to bring home a souvenir from their store.

This is Romney sport in a natural brown and natural white. It's pretty soft and seems very durable. I think it will make a great hat. The blue bit at the bottom are boot liners made from felted wool. I was thinking they'd be good for Jim, since he works outside all winter long, but I may steal them from him for my boots.

Sunday morning was market day, and after getting a feel for their lace weight, you know I just had to go back to the Shelridge Farms booth.

This is an 8-ply superwash that I think will make awesome Selbuvotter mittens. I wanted to try traditional ones at least once, but I don't seem to have suitable yarns in the stash.

All morning I'd been walking around mumbling "I don't need more laceweight." Over and over. I had too because there were just so many beautiful yarns. But then I found this neat looking pattern from Alpaca with a Twist, called the Filigree Shawl. The picture on their website doesn't do it justice. It has this very intriguing construction technique that I will either find an interesting challenge or will drive me batty. So of course, I succumbed to the call of the laceweight.

This is Baruffa Cashwool. It's what I compared Ted's laceweight too. It's gorgeous, but I will be knitting these two skeins forever I think. Laceweight lingers in the stash.

After the sale, Ted drew for door prizes. It was crazy how we all hummed and hawed over our freebies after shopping ourselves silly. On my turn I was torn between more laceweight, the new Ethnic Knitting Discovery, or this:

It's 11 skiens of Philosopher's wool, in just my colors. There's something about this yarn that gives me a feeling of freedom to be entirely creative with it. I'm dreaming up a jacket where I can to just anything I want with these colors.

After everyone had a prize, there was still some things left on the table, so Ted had a second drawing and I got this:

I may just try two socks on one circular with this bad boy.

Isn't that an amazing haul? To top it off, Ted brought in his old magazines because he wanted to get rid of them. Friday night I picked a half dozen of the ones I liked best, and then told Ted I'd take what ever was left on Sunday morning. Well I've come home with about 20 magazines total and I've been having so much fun going through them bit by bit. I've found articles to read, patterns I'd like to try and a whole lot of nostalgia for those eighties styles.

This amazing abundance is another reason why I said Fiber Fest North felt like Christmas to me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Grab a hat, the cold is coming!

Though you wouldn't know it from the weather we've been having around here lately. It's going to be as warm as summer this weekend. Still, I have this urge to knit for the cold and so I've finished a hat.

Shedir from Knitty
Yarn: Alchemy Lone Star color way Good Earth
Needles ?
Modifications: extensive! I started off with a tubular cast on. I used seven repeats instead of eight going around, and then only two repeats of the main part of the pattern. Then I increased the speed of the crown increases by taking out the rows of plain knitting. As you can see, it fits, and I had even had enough yarn. All's well that ends well.

Give us a kiss big boy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Spinning Yarn

Fiber Fest North was a great opportunity for me to learn about spinning first hand. Saturday morning I watched Ted give Mona some introductory lessons in the art. I was amazed to watch him take a lock of merino from a bag of fleece and turn it into finest laceweight right before my eyes.

The handspun yarn is brown, and the blue yarn is commercially spun laceweight. Ted's got magic fingers (get yer mind out of the gutter over there!)

Touring the Lindenhof Wool Mill on Saturday afternoon was a real treat. This is Angelika who explained the whole process to us in great detail.

Her website has a great breakdown of the process, including how to skirt a fleece and why. Angelika has only run this mill for 3 years, but she gives tours like a pro. She answered questions readily, and ignored the camera flash gracefully. Every time some new fiber passed by, I had to chuckle at all the hands that would sneak out to touch it.

I even took a video for you of the carding machine.

And here's another of the drawing machine in which three rovings are pulled together into one to even out the lumps and to align the fibers.

And here's the finished yarn, swatched, blocked and making Ted very happy.

More pictures of the tour are available on Flickr here. I've learned that while the tools may change, from spindle, to wheel, to potentially dangerous machinery, the process remains the same. It all starts with a fleece and the end product relies on the art of the spinner. I have a new respect for my yarn.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever

FibreFest North was a wonderful event and I had a fabulous time. Doesn't this look like the kind of Christmas dinner you've always wished for:

There were friends, with fun and laughter, there was food, rather more than was good for me because it was all so delicious, and there was yarn and fiber by the bushel-full. Yes, some of it came home with me.

But just like a good Christmas, I find I've got a huge mess to deal with to put my life back in order. Laundry, groceries, kids that need attention and a dog who really wants some exercise. On top of that, I'm a week behind in my blog reading and I just want to play with my new things. But stay tuned, I've got lots of good things to share with you, once I find the time!