Thursday, November 29, 2007


Well folks, I've got a big ole flop on my hands here. Take a look at this amazing ugliness:

I scooped up 7 balls of Noro at the Needle Emporium's tent sale this past summer and, inspired by the fun I had with the Silk Garden scarf, I thought I could knit a mini-Lizard Ridge. I hoped to squeeze 9 squares from the 7 balls; 8 at the least, since I could always cook up some special interest square for the center. I figured it would make a nice little lap blanket.

I was entirely unprepared for the horrible ugliness of the squares. Everybody else's blankets look lovely, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I must confess that I started making squares with the balls of yarn I liked the least. I guess I was saving the best for last. Still, how is it possible to screw up color work with Noro?

Here's my options:

  1. Rip and re-knit. These squares where done using opposite ends of the same ball. Perhaps by mixing balls, I could make something nicer out of it.
  2. Cut my loses and quit knitting. Perhaps these squares could be sewn into a scarf and given to charity. There's no denying it's warm, if you don't mind the color. Then I could use the other balls to make mitered mittens, or felted bags.
  3. Carry on! If I knit the other colors, they may counter balance the horribleness of these three.

What say you? I bow before the wisdom of the masses.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Hooray! It lives!

This is why my husband deserves great hand knits. To get my swift back together (after the dog had chewed on it, and my dad helped create replacement parts) Jim had to undo a the wire that holds all the pieces together at the bottom and take out a bold that holds the pieces together in the middle. He twisted the wire back up, but there's no way to replace the bolt, so he just tied it together. I took it for a test drive last night and it did just fine.

I know you'll ask, so the yarn on the swift is Schaefer Anne sock yarn in a red almost too beautiful for socks. I bought it as a birthday present to myself at the beginning of the month using Red Bird Knit's birthday discount. Also in the above picture we can see the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl in action as an afghan. It's warm, and light and big. We cozy up under it often.

In other news, Dad's gloves are done.

One more obligatory Christmas gift to go. I have plenty other things on the needles, but I do miss having one big project on the go. Do you realize it's four weeks to Christmas? Maybe not the time for me to start the next big thing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Winter's Sweater

Just in time for the cold season, Jim's sweater is back from the tailor's.

Pattern: Paton's Urban Aran
Yarn: Rowan Spun Chunky
Needles: 6mm

I'm thrilled with the results and so is Jim. Other than choosing the yarn or the pattern, he's been a part of the process the entire way through. He told me how long he wanted the body and sleeves. He specified that he did NOT want a two way zipper. He even looked through Ravelry with me to discuss the different options for the collar. The end result is perfect for him.

For my zipper-side edge, I only left one selvedge stitch, which I slipped. I wanted the front to come together quite snuggly at the cables and that's what I got.

I had the zipper installed by a tailor. She's done other work for me and I'm always pleased with what she does. Except that she wanted to put a plastic zipper in, but I over ruled her on that. This metal zipper has a fluid drape to it that mirrors the drape of the sweater. It cost me $25 for her work, but it was well worth it to me for the peace of mind. Plus, I don't have a sewing machine.

This was a very successful knit. I hope it lasts Jim a good long time. It's not a Christmas present
because I think he just deserves a hand knit for all the wonderful things he does for us.

I did not enjoy knitting those stacks of cables at the waist, but once they were over with this was a pleasant enough knit. The Rowan yarn washed up beautifully soft and was very nice to work with.

Here's one last picture. The color (Cardamom) is more true in this shot, and I love the brooding winter feel of the image.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Making a Repair

I did make a repair last night, but not on the sock. It was Jim's work guernsey that needed a little help.

As you can see, he's worked a considerable hole into it. We guess that he snagged it on something, and we didn't notice it quick enough because there's a whole row missing here. Jim was quite anxious for me to fix it since he wears it to work every day as soon as the weather gets cold. He's had it through two cold seasons and other than being a little flat, it's holding up really well. The Philosopher's wool that I used is ideal for this sort of garment.

I have plenty of the same yarn left over. Taking a good long piece of wool, I threaded it through on the wrong side, and then performed a quick and dirty graft using those DPNs I stuck through the live stitches. Then I went in on the wrong side again and did a weave from top to bottom and side to side, catching any loose yarn that was left. It's not pretty, but it's darned sturdy.

I know, some of you are wondering why I'm not going to repair those socks. Frankly, I don't like the color. I bought the yarn over the internet and was very disappointed with the colors when I received it. The socks are soft, the pattern was nice, but those colors are monstrous! I'm kind of glad to see them go.

Oh, I visited the Halcyon Aran today! The tailor said it will be ready tomorrow so you can expect a photo shoot this weekend. Here's hoping for some sun.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A New Way to Wear Out Socks

I'm pretty hard on my socks and I have many ways of wearing them out. I've walked holes in the heels, holes through the bottom of the foot, and poked holes through the toes. I loved and wore a pair of Regia silk lace ones to the point that the lace was threadbare on the foot. I've even had socks go missing in the wash. (Jim does the laundry and it's worth the loss of a hand knit sock to have a husband who does laundry. Really.)

But today I put on a pair of socks that are wearing out in a whole new way.

This is a shot of the heel flap, and you can see that the stitches are laddering up. I'm gobsmacked. I can only think that the stranding holding the stitches wore through and set them free.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Dog Ate my Swift and Other Stories.

One day, the whole family went out. "Shall we put Dexter in his kennel?" I asked Jim. "Naw. He'll be fine." And so he was, but while we were gone, he found it necessary to eviscerate a box of tissues and chew on my swift. I'm sure he thought it was quite a lovely stick.

Since then, I've been a little lost. In thinking of what I'd like to knit next, I'd contemplate whether the yarn came in hanks or balls. It's not much fun to be constrained in your projects like that. But today, my Daddy delivered replacement parts.

He and his neighbour got together and made these peices for me using one of the chewed pieces as a template. Yippee! The wood has to be varnished first, and I still have to figure how to work around the join bit, but at least now I have parts to work with. I hope to have the swift repaired soon and do I solemnly promise to store it some where dog-proof from now on. Also, I sent Dad home with a pair of socks and a hat so the neighbour could choose one as a thank you present.

I've been finishing things around here. The Paton's vintage socks are done and I've finally taken I nice picture of them.

That's one more pair for the Christmas gift pile and I'm quite happy with them. I like the way the diamond finishes on the arch of the foot and I'd like to try using that same idea on another pair some time.

This weekend I decided I deserved a break from the Christmas knitting. What I really needed was a hat to keep the November wind from my ears. My last hat doesn't quite cut it. So I cobbled something together using a design from Charlene Schurch's Hats On, and a chart from Small Sweaters.

I love having a hat unlike anyone else's. It's a snug fit and two layers of Mission Falls wool should protect my tender ears. They're particularly susceptible because I'm coming down with a cold. Yet the dog must still be walked. It wouldn't do to have him chewing on the furniture. I don't think Dad and his neighbour could whip up a new chair leg as easily.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rag Tags

What a difference the light can make. Today the sun was shining brightly and I spent most of my lunch hour outside. It recharged my batteries. But not soon enough I'm afraid. I totally forgot to take pictures of the Urban Aran all put together. Doh!

I'm really happy with how the sweater turned out and the fit of it. I took it to the tailor's for a zipper. I don't have a sewing machine and no real interest in learning to put a zipper in, in spite of the really great tutorials that are out there. So now I'll have to wait till next week to show you the sweater.

It feels odd not to have a big project on the needles right now. I've been manufacturing a sense of urgency in my knit projects for quite some time now. What I mean is that I choose to knit to a deadline, such as the Fair, or Christmas, or some other event that I want the FO for. But after I finished Jim's sweater, I found that feeling of needing to push was just gone.

I don't quite get why I push myself. Does it make the knitting more exciting? Or give me an excuse to brush other things aside as less important? I wonder how long I can go without creating some new deadline for myself.

Ravelry came in handy while I was working up the collar of the sweater. I searched the database and found 54 Urban Arans, which I then surfed through to see how they handled the collar. Jim looked through the images and pointed out which styles he preferred. In the end, he got exactly what he wanted.

My KnitPicks catalog came today and in a fit of inspiration I went through it circling the things I like. I pointed out to my husband how easy it would be to shop for Christmas presents for me using the catalog. They might never use it, but I had fun making the wish list.

Sorry I'm so dull lately. I just haven't had a lot to say. Anyway, it's late. Time for bed. G'night.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jump Start

I really appreciate the supportive comments I received on my last post. It seems I'm not the only one battling November's grey and dreary doldrums. Many a blogger is reporting a sense of malady. Thank goodness we have Christmas to rev us up.

While I don't like to decorate early, I do like to begin preparations early. My first son, Luke, was born October 4 and that year I realized in November that I must get my shopping done early because there was no way I wanted to be in the stores with a 2-month old baby in December. This has been my rule ever since.

This weekend I finished up the main part of my Christmas shopping. The only difficulty in buying early is the temptation to buy more, so to work around that I leave stocking stuffers to be bought in December.

This weekend was busy with general winter preparations. Jim cleaned the garage so now I can park my car indoors. Lovely man. He has saved me precious minutes in the morning spent scraping and waiting for my car to defrost. Every morning, Dexter and I go to the local off-leash dog park to exercise and socialize. It's a commitment, but we both benefit. So I really do need every moment in the morning.

I am on the cusp of finishing Jim's Urban Aran. The poor guy has been feeling the cold lately. I've worked hard on it all weekend, but not in time to post it for you today. The fit seems good and I'm really looking forward to seeing what it looks like washed up. Yes, I seam with out washing first. Mattress stitch seems as easy as doing up shoelaces to me and I'm too impatient to wait for the thing to dry once I've finished knitting.

The other thing we did this weekend is make our one, traditional, holiday goody: Rum Balls. It has been written in stone that every holiday must have Rum Balls. Each year, we have them in a cut glass dish so they look elegant. Plus, we have a fun little family party when we roll them.

This year, I thought I'd get a jump on it since they freeze so well. To store them, I've got them in plastic containers and then double wrapped. Perhaps you'd like to get an early start on the season too? If so, here's my recipe:

Chocolate Rum Balls

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 eggs slightly beaten
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
2 tbsp dark rum

Combine butter, icing sugar and chocolate chips in a double boiler. Add beaten eggs and salt. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture thickens and is smooth. Remove from heat and add rum and crumbs. Combine well. Refrigerate at least three hours. Shape into balls; roll in chocolate shavings, coconut or nuts.

Every person who helps roll gets a rum ball for their efforts.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back from Battle

Well hello there. Anybody miss me? I feel as though I've missed two blog posts and I've never been away for that long before. I've been wrestling my demons with the usual result that I want to cut off contact with the world. But here I am, crawling out of my cave which is a good thing.

Of course I've been knitting, but progress seems slow. I've finished up one of the traveling socks.

I've got to get a daylight picture for you, because the diamond design is quite pretty and travels to a nice point on the foot. That might be difficult since we're well into winter weather here in London Ontario, with grey clouds either looming in the sky or being swept briskly along by strong winds. October extended summer with warm temperatures and sunny days, but November is getting us back for it.

My mother's Christmas present is all done.

These are based on Selbuvotter NHM #7, but I changed the cuff design and the thumb. I'm particularly pleased with the thumb because I just knit it up on the fly, basing it on what's on the cuff. It seems very elegant to me. Mom should be well pleased with these. The Selbuvotter design is very dramatic in white and black.

I've also finished up one of Dad's gloves for Christmas:

This is Annemor #7 from Selbuvotter. I know it's supposed to be a reindeer, but doesn't that look like a Canadian moose on the hand? Love it!

My dad used to go moose hunting every fall when I was a kid. Mostly he brought back squirrels and grouse, but I know he had a soft spot for the moose. I think he went mostly to have an excuse to hang out with his buddies in the woods.

When I mentioned I might make him gloves for Christmas, my Dad noted that mittens would be easier so of course I had to do gloves. The pattern was wonky when it came to the fingers so I made it up. The pinky needs about 5 more stitches than what is called for in the pattern. Three I increased on the back of the hand, and the other two I cast on in addition to the two the pattern calls for. It doesn't really matter so much because you'd never notice it when the glove is on. The main idea is to continue the palm pattern up into the fingers, and have an even number of stitches between the front and back.

I really like how my parent's mitts and gloves are similar yet different. They belong together. Finally, I got all three from two skeins of Shelridge Farms soft touch. Whoop!

Obviously fighting my demons hasn't curbed my enthusiasm for knitting. Here's to you demons!