Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Tonight we gathered with Jim's family and enjoyed the noise of a full house nineteen people strong. Tomorrow is a quieter celebration in our home with my parents and probably way more food than six people can reasonably eat. We are safe, and warm, and well blessed. I wish the same for all of you and all your loved ones.

Monday, December 22, 2008

As Requested... Keeping You Posted

I really appreciated all your feedback and input to my last post regarding the cabled yoke pullover. But (and you knew there was going to be a but) I ended up in a tizzy regarding the idea of a brown cable band for the yoke. On Saturday I ranted sufficiently that even Jim, my patient and understanding husband, was asking me to give it a rest. At one point, I declared I was nuts to even consider working the pattern and was very close to frogging the whole thing. Except, I make it a rule never to rip in cold blood.

After I calmed down, I picked it up and worked on it some more. It just felt right. Now that I've gotten my self-doubt out of my system, I've fallen harder for this project than before. Especially with the brown band. You are all so right, it shouldn't work! But my gut says it will. There's some instinct pushing me forward on this project. Of course the proof is in the pudding. A month later, I may look at this posting and wonder if Christmas madness had me in its grip. But right now, I'm enjoying my crush.

On the yarn quantity side of things, it took me five balls of yarn to reach 18 inches of back. I predict that one more ball should do it for the raglan shaping up to the cabled band. The fronts will take the same amount, so that's twelve balls there. If each sleeve takes three, which is just a SWAG (Scientific Wild Assed Guess), then I'll have two to work the last bit of the yoke and the button bands. I'm even contemplating a zipper installation in place of the buttons, which could further reduce my yarn consumption. Well, the main reason for a zipper would be to make the sweater more wearable, but I won't do it if it destroys the integrity of the design. I'll buy yarn if I have to.

Finally, here's a picture of the cables from the weekend when we enjoyed a brief dose of sunlight.

Yummy, aren't they?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


A couple of months spent knitting small, simple projects has whet my appetite for something juicy to sink my teeth into. On impulse I started to work the Cabled Yoke Cardigan from Fall's Vogue Knitting.

I had no expectation of ever knitting this piece until I saw a small picture in the front of the magazine that showed it knit in a solid color. I was very intrigued and the neckline looked much more like something I'd wear.

So I swatched, got gauge right from the get go and launched into it. I'm using Jamieson's Shetland Heather, in Ivory. Two balls of yarn worked up into 8 inches of back. That's a pretty rapid rate of consumption. I decided it was time to crunch some numbers.

The pattern calls for 3072 meters of yarn. I have 20 balls of yarn at 92 meters each which equals 1840 meters, a short fall of 1232. That means I'd need 34 balls of yarn total to finish this sweater. Something seems off, doesn't it? That's a heck of a lot of yarn!

The sweater is 31 inches in length and the first half of my 8 inches had less stitches than the latter half, so I'll bet two balls will get me way less than 8 inches as I go on. Still, I calculate that at the same rate of yarn usage, it would take me 15 balls of yarn to complete the front and back of the cardigan, no sleeves. That's pretty close actually. I wonder if I could finish the sweater with my 20 balls. Do you think Vogue padded out the yarn requirements?

Here are my options:
  • Rip it. Why run the risk of knitting an unfinishable project?
  • Buy more yarn. I'd have to buy almost an entire sweater's worth though. Or I could wait till I'm almost at the end and then buy.
  • Use a contrast yarn for the yoke. It might look funky, or it might look stupid. Knitty-Kat gave me some lovely tweed yarn (cause she's nice) that I think might just do the trick.
I'm leaning towards the last option. I really like working with the Shetland yarn, the knitting process has been fun so far, so I'm really reluctant to rip it, and I'm thinking that using the brown would be a creative and funky spin on the pattern. Am I nuts?

Oh, and there's one other option! Shorten the damned thing! Who needs a 31 inch sweater? I could go to 29 inches and still be plenty long.

I'm going to sleep on it. There's always a sock to knit.

Your input and comments are always appreciated.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keeping Busy

It's hard to believe there is only one weekend left between now and Christmas. Somehow, I've managed to keep to my plan and everything is right on schedule. I don't have things timed to the hour like the Yarn Harlot, but I did have an idea of what should be done when. This weekend was for decorating. Check.

We even wrapped presents which I wasn't planning on. But if you knit small things, and buy many small bags, it's really no big effort. The knit gifts look quite impressive, all lined up like this.

There's just one left to wrap, and that's my Dad's slippers. I felted them this morning and I'm waiting for them to be throughly dry before performing the last finishing touches on them. Right now, they look a little rough.

Yikes! They were knit with Lopi, left over from Ford, which is why they are so hairy. I like them though. The soles are almost hard, which is great. I'll slap some rug backing onto them and they'll be as good as shoes. Then it will be time for a little trim.

Next weekend I'm cooking and Jim is cleaning. After all the Christmas crazies, I'm looking forward to some quiet time off work. Being busy sure does make the time fly until then.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Steppin' Out

Tis the weekend for Christmas parties. Don't we think we are gorgeous?

Oh, just funnin'. We had a lovely evening and it's very nice to get dressed up and go out once in a while. Jim was so thoughtful to buy me this lovely dress, I felt like a movie star.

Today is the children's Christmas party and I have a new sweater to wear.

Pattern: Hey Teach!
Needles: 5mm
Modifications: added one inch to the length of the sleeves and I only worked 3 button holes.

For buttons, I covered rings making Dorset buttons, following this tutorial. I wanted the buttons to be part of the sweater, not stand out.

Oh geeze, gotta run! Party starts at three.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making Time

There's so much going on these days what with work, the boys, Christmas preparations and Christmas knitting. I'm often in a state of wondering if there will be enough time to get everything done. To prevent myself from spiraling off into a frantic frenzy of fury (I love alliteration!) I have to make time to savour my accomplishments and do something for me.

So, here's the latest gifties I've finished knitting.

Pattern: Musica
Yarn: Cascade 220
Needles: 4mm
Modification: upsized to fit a big man's hands. Also, removed the lice pattern to make the musical symbols stand out more.

Pattern: Hansa Mittens
Yarn: KnitPicks Palette
Needles: 2.25mm
Modifications: none! It's a perfect pattern. I did have to duplicate stitch over an error. It was quite notifiable, but simple to fix.

Pattern: Argosy
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed
Needles: 5mm
Modifications: knit to fit the yarn I had. It's plenty long enough I think.

Not too shabby eh? And there are a few works in progress that aren't represented here, namely traveling socks and a fun fur scarf. Yes, I knit about one fun fur scarf per year and I enjoy it. But a yearly dose is about all I can handle. It will go on the giftie pile.

What's left for Christmas knits is a pair of slippers for my dad and another set of mittens. But I've rebelled and cast on this festive little number instead:

This is Hey, Teach! in that cotton/acrylic blend that didn't work out as a cabled vest. It is such an incredibly fast knit! I cast on Friday night and I've finished both fronts and started the back. I think I could have this finished in time for our knitter's group Christmas potluck on December 7th. Anyone want to take a bet?

And now, a knitting tragedy. The squeamish should avert their eyes. Jo, read on, I know you can stomach it.

Last week I came home from work and found this sitting on the kitchen counter:

Alex could offer no explanation as to how this happened. With big, round eyes, he loudly proclaimed his innocence and ignorance as to the event that triggered the loss of an entire finger. There was a vague statement to the effect that he didn't know that the thread he pulled was attached to the whole thing. I blanched, and dropped the subject. I really don't want to know how it happened because it won't change the end result.

I think I've decided that he doesn't deserve to have it repaired. Both my boys have complained that their beautiful hand knit gloves let the wind blow through. Ingrates. I can't believe I'm still knitting Luke a pair of socks.

To finish on a happier note, here's Dexter playing in the snow. Not nearly as much fun as Doug's been having (scroll down for the money shot, literally), but more comfortable to watch.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Tuesday

Well I had a good Monday! Friend and co-worker LaurieB was at a silent auction over the weekend and picked up some yarn at a ridiculously low price. The best bit, it's natural fibers. Here's one:

It's a hairy yarn, thick and thin, with a texture like Lopi. There's fifteen cakes.

The real treasure was this:

Gorgeous color, isn't it? Almost a neon bright, and yet so soft, it's not harsh at all. The fiber seems to be a mohair wrapped with a strand of nylon. It's about a fingering weight I'd say. Here's a closeup:

They're five huge skeins of this and one skein is double sized. It was all I could do not to dive into it right away. My other projects felt bland last night. THANK YOU!!!! LaurieB.

A while back I offered two magazines up for free. I told Laura she could have them, but I haven't heard back from her about how I could get them to her. So Gayle, you were next in line. Laura or Gayle, send me your snail mail, and I'll get the magazines to you. First come, first served.

On Saturday, I was Stumbling through the net when I came across this great poster. I couldn't resist setting it as my desktop wallpaper for the kids to see:
On Sunday morning, the boys walked in on my knitting with smiles on their faces. "Mom", they asked me, "Did you change the computer's wallpaper? That's a great joke!"

I love that they've got a sense of humor.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whirlwind Knitting

Winter's here in London, Ontario. It started as rain and now we've got snow, blowing snow, snow thunder, and wet snow. It was a good weekend for staying indoors and knitting.

I've been cranking on the gift knitting. I'm thinking to get it out of the way before December and then I can work on something lovely and relaxing when the Christmas crazies hit. I finished up a pair of traveling socks (the ones I carry in my purse so that I am never with out a spot of knitting). They're great man socks, but I'm so over the black and red color way after the boy's gloves too.

The yarn is ONLine Seirra color, 2.25 mm needles, 74 sts around. K3, P1 rib, standard heel flap and the rib continues down the foot. While the ribbing makes for a sock that will fit a wide range of sizes, it's rather annoying to work after a while. My next traveling sock has a plain foot.

To give myself a break from the black and red, I knit this bubble gum pink number.

This shade of pink will tickle the fancy of a little girl's heart and I'm hoping that the grown up style will give it some chic. The yarn is gorgeous to work, as it came from Doug's own sheep, here in Ontario. The pattern is The Dawn of the Cape, Ponchos and Wraps - A Knitter's Dozen. Not done with the pink I moved on to this raspberry number:

The pattern is the Sofia Cowl from One-Skein Wonders and they yarn is Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk. The yarn is so lovely and soft it was a treat to work with. I picked up one ball on sale for $5 , so the cowl came up a bit short. But I don't care. Someone will love to wear this around their neck.

Then it was time to move into the blues. First with white:

This is a free pattern I found on Ravelry called Fingerless Gloves "Musica". I've sized it up to fit a big fella and my other modification was to eliminate the lice patterning around the cleft note. I wove in my contrasting color instead. It peeks through a bit, but not too much.

To be perfectly honest, I don't like it much. The color work is too big and so it looks clunky to me. The recipient will likely still like them, and they are a quick knit, so I will forage on and complete the other. This is more what I like to see in a mitten:

Another free pattern found on Ravelry, called Hansa Mittens, I am utterly in love with this mitten. It's perfect. The design of it, the simple cross pattern that is easy to memorize yet interesting to look at, and the lovely braid offset by the simple hemmed edge. It's worked in Knit Picks palette.

Just for contrast, here's the two of them together:

Some might say I'm too picky, and others may say I'm not picky enough. For me, it's all knitting. So long as someone will get some use out of the finished product, I'm satisfied. But there are some projects that thrill me to the bone and hitting that sweet spot is the thrill of the week.

Here's hoping there's more thrills in store next week.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

S'no Bother

What a mixed up fall we're having. Snow in October, then last week we had sun shine and warm temperatures, now back to blowing cold and grey skies. But it's alright, I pushed through and finished up Luke's mittens in time for a freezing walk to school on Monday.

These gloves are my own pattern, that I'm not even going to try to write up because it's all a blur now. I call them "Snazzy Gloves" because that diagonal on the hand really mesmerizes the eye when worn. Luke was already in bed when I finished them, but I'll try to get him to give me a modeled shot in the morning.

It was a very busy weekend because besides the gloves, I had to take some work home with me. But I still squeezed in some family time and managed to go shopping for boots. During the snow in October, I dug my old pair out and realized that they'll do for walking the dog, but not much else.

I've got hard feet to fit, ladies size 11 or size 10 wide. So I knew needed to shop early to get the best selection. I found a pair at Payless that were cute and almost fit, but sort of pinched on the ball of my foot. The sales lady, bless her, talked me out of buying them. She said, "If they don't fit right now, you won't be happy with them."

So we went to Sears, thinking big store, big selection. We were shocked to discover that they didn't sell any sizes larger than a ten. Jim was very indignant on my behalf.

We cruised through a couple other shoe stores in Masonville Place, but I wasn't prepared to pay $265 for a pair of boots. And the styles were so awful! Suede things with no shape, or sneaker styles that came up the leg all wrapped around with ties. What's with the bondage boots? Anything professional looking comes with spikey heels and skinny legs. Oh, it is frustrating to be a big woman with large feet looking for a sensible boot that fits. So I gave up on women's boots and bought these:

Men's size nine, $79.00. They fit like a dream and I think I'll actually be able to walk in the snow with them. Imagine that!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Froggy came a courtin'...

This has not been a productive week for knitting. Mr. Froggy has called and invited my knits to his charming pond.

First up, the project I was so thrilled about, Cul-de-sac, by Elsebeth Lavold. I tried working it in a cotton/acrylic blend yarn and I don't think it's working out. Just look at the curl:

If this were wool, I'd be confident it could be blocked out. If it were cotton, I'd try to iron it flat. But with an acrylic/cotton blend, I have a strong suspicion that this is how it will lie till the end of time. I still like the yarn, but me thinks it wants to be something else. A garment that doesn't flirt with the curl. "Rip-it, rip-it!" calls Mr. Froggy.

Then last night, I started working on gloves for Luke. He requested red and black as his colors and I even special ordered some red for him from the internet to get just the right shade. Yesterday the cherry red Sisu arrived from the Knitter, so I dashed up to the stash closet and in the dusky light, I grabbed the first dark ball of Kroy that came to hand. But in the bright light of morning, I saw that my haste had made waste. Luke has adamantly refused to accept NAVY and red mittens:

Mr. Froggy has already taken these to his pond and they are no more. But two inches of black cuff have grown onto my needles this morning.

The design is my own, something I scribbled onto a sheet of paper last night that met the approval of my fussy son. So far, the knitting is simple and the design seems striking.

At least when Mr. Froggy comes riding he brings gifts with him. The last week has brought me a wealth of knitting literature.

The magazines were given to me by the friend of a co-worker who is moving and didn't want to move these with her. It was a delightful present to be handed a heavy bag of these great magazines! The old pattern books I picked up at the local library book sale, and the copy of Handknit Holidays I found at Winners for $8.00.

I just can't turn down a cheap pattern book. I'd rather get rid of it later than leave it behind and end up wishing I'd bought it. I must confess to being awful stingy when it comes to buying new books and I think this is the reason why. The good ones stick around and you can usually pick them up a few years later for so much less.

I have two extra magazines that I'm willing to give away since I already own these issues. Anyone interested in them?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I was reminded this weekend of the expansion/contraction cycle that a therapist once explained to me. He described how we expand our selves into connection with others or into emotional highs which are then followed by an inward contraction. It's like the tides, or even better, like breathing. Well this weekend I expanded on Saturday and contracted on Sunday.

The expansion on Saturday was due to a shopping trip wherein my very sweet husband bought me an expensive dress to wear to a formal Christmas party. It was his idea, he was delighted to do it and he even asked to come shopping with me and suggested the store to go to. He came into the change room with me while I tried on the dresses. There was one that took my breath away and his too. Even though it was a little more than we had planned to spend, he insisted I buy it. What a rush!! Both of us were giddy and thrilled with the purchase. So that was the expansion.

Sunday was grey, windy and wet. We stayed in, played a board game, read books and of course, I knitted some. I finished up two more Christmas presents this weekend, but was at a loss as to what to work on next. I got grumpy about it, so that was the contraction. I've sorted it out though and I'm thrilled with my next project. Expand.... See? Just like breathing.

No pictures of the dress today. I'll show you all when I get myself dolled up for the actual party. And no pictures of the thrilling new project. I didn't get it started till late tonight and I'm sure it won't photograph well in the dark. Of course, I do have pictures of my FOs. First up, the ubiquitous scarf.

This is just a moss stitch scarf. But the yarn is a mohair wool blend and knit loosely it makes an extra smooshy fabric. Love it!

Then this morning I knocked off a one-skein quickie, which is also a winner!

It's the Cable and Bobble headband from Interweave Knits, 2006. Yep, I even did the bobbles. They sort of looked like little flowers to me, or like jewels in a crown. I used Paton's Soy Wool Stripes and a 6mm needle. I added 4 extra stitches because of the smaller needle size. No gauge swatch for this super-quick project. I really like it. I may have to do another for myself.

Now back to the work week and a thrilling new knit project to take me through it. Yippee!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hot Stuff

At only twelve years old, my son Alex is hot stuff. So I knit him gloves to suit his personality.

I used the chart from the Hot Rod Socks AKA Olympic Flame socks for the flames. The rest was just designed on the needles. Alex was a very good sport and put up with me shoving a partially knit glove on his hand over and over again. He even put down the video game to try them on!

Pattern: my own - 64 sts around, with an offset thumb.
Yarn: various sock yarns
Needles: 2.50 mm

Alex took the plunge this year and joined Air Cadets. He was enthralled with the idea since he was ten and had every intention of joining when he turned twelve. But when it actually came time to show up, he got cold feet. Jim and I gave him a parental push and made him join, with the caveat that he could leave if he wanted to in January. So far, he seems to be enjoying it.

In September he went away for an entire weekend for survival training and survived. So did we. The only thing that worried me about the survival weekend was not being able to contact him if I wanted to. I'd never been in that situation with one of my children before. Last week he got his uniform and on Sunday he put it on for the first time to participate in tag day, which is a fund raiser for the cadets.

I can't describe the mix of feelings I have over seeing my son in uniform. Pride, respect, worry, all tinged with a rush of mother love. I'm beginning to think that raising teenagers is going to be the hardest part of this whole parenting gig.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I'm on a roll designing on the needles these days. Here's a pair of socks I designed and knit for my mother-in-law, Cynthia, for Christmas.

Pattern: Flattery - by me
Yarn: Kroy
Needles: 2.25mm

I'm calling them Flattery because I was trying to imitate Nancy Bush's Latvian patterns. These socks have some ribbing on the back of the upper leg, and a lace pattern that goes from the top to the toes. You can see this design better when they're on the sock blockers.

You can also see how loose they are. My blockers are a medium, so I'd say that these socks are a ladies large, or more due to stretch. Cynthia is diabetic and has arthritis, so it's important to her that the socks pull on easily and are very loose. I'm very confident that these will fit the bill. I think this sock would be great for most diabetics or ladies with large calves.

Now I know someone is going to ask me for the pattern. So here's a quick'n dirty one. I expect you know how to turn a heel and that you have Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries. If you don't, try the library.


First set-up that teeny cuff. Cast on 72 stitches (18 sts per needle). Work 4 rows of K1P1 ribbing. Increase one purl stitch in the last stitch of the last row and move the last two stitches to the working needle.

Next, set-up the calf ribbing and start the lace. You've already got two purl stitches on the working needle, now (K4, P2) to the end of needle 1. On needle 2 and needle 3 work Barbara Walker's Chevron and Berry Stripe. This pattern has a 17st repeat, plus 1 st to finish the pattern. So after doing two 17-st repeats, you should have one stitch left at the end of needle 3. Move it to needle 4. Now (P2, K4) to the last two stitches, P2.

On the next row, start working Italian Chain stitch on needle 1. Continue in Chevron and Berry Stripe pattern for needles 2 and 3. Then back to Italian Chain stitch for needle 4. I knit 3 repeats of the Chevron and Berry Stripe and then switched to stockinette for needles 1 and 4. When I switched, I decreased away one stitch at the center. Then I knit 3 more repeats before starting my heel. I had to decrease away two more stitches, one at each end of the heel flap to get an even 70 stitches for the whole sock.

I prefer a heel flap sock for roominess. If you're doing a short row heel, you may not want to decrease those extra stitches away, so you can get a deeper heel. Knitter's preference. And that's pretty much it. Knit your heel, then the foot, and then the toe of your choice.

I hope that's clear enough. I'll edit it if need be. I don't have any charting software to capture the lace pattern. If I did, then this sock pattern wouldn't be a freebie, ya know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Jim and I walked down to the elementary school tonight to vote. As we waited in the hall we read the sign which described the accepted pieces of identification. Jim got to the table first and handed over his driver's license and voter's card. While he spoke with the lady, I looked over the table and noticed a child's knitted slipper, two plastic needles and some rag tags of yarn. Thinking quick I dug into my purse and when it was my turn at the table I waved my sock in progress at her.

"I've got my identification right here!" I said.

She laughed at me. "Oh you smarty!"

Isn't it fun, being a knitter?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Glad to be Alive

The weather today was so beautiful. The color on the trees is intense this year and the sky is a vivid shade of blue. A good day to be thankful for friends, family, food and for feeling fine. Also, I think my husband is thankful for this:

Pattern: Durrow
Yarn: Beaverslide - sale yarn
Needles: 5mm and 4mm for cuffs and collar
Modifications: oh yeah, I made some!

I started with the sleeves and got them both done to the same point. Then I knit the body which was a slog. I've heard good things about Beaverslide yarn, mostly that it softens when washed. It certainly wasn't so soft to knit. But I'm not a wuss, it was the boring ribbing that had me pushing to get it done.

Just before joining the sleeves to the body, I added 6 short rows to the back of the body. Jim is a slim guy so his sweaters tend to ride up at the back due to his shoulders. The short rows are to give him extra length in the back in the same way that many ladies need extra length in their front.

I was going for a modified-raglan/shoulder-strap treatment for the shoulders because I really wanted those cables to come together around the back. I fudged it, and it's not perfectly equal but I did get it together.

I like that it's not perfect actually. Even down to the fact that I twisted both rings and so I've got a little bloop at the grafting point instead of a nice twist. I've decided I don't care! It's unique this way! Life isn't perfect, neither am I, and neither is my knitting.

Then came the neck and having that extra cable at the back meant that I didn't need nearly as much neckband at the back as I did to fill in the front. No worries though, I used some short rows to fill things in and here it is:

It all flows together fairly well and you'd never guess that a knitter was just going crazy on this thing. It's an enjoyable experience to just let the knitting tell you what to do. It flows. Of course, having some technique under your belt is a big help to problem solving.

The sweater hasn’t been blocked in the photos and I’m expecting it to loosen up some. With a busy day of cooking and cleaning today I didn't have a chance to do it yet. Also, as noted above, the Beaverslide yarn I used was a sale yarn and it seems to be different shades of grey. Once I became aware of it, I noticed color changes even within one ball of yarn. I’ve decided that it’s so subtle I’m going to call it a feature. It goes well with my extra cable bloop at the back.

Now the gift knitting can begin in earnest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Time Flys

I generally try to blog once or twice a week, but I've missed the last couple of weeks entirely. Life became a cacophony of teenage angst, health concerns and stresses rather than the pleasant symphony I'd prefer. My policy for this blog is to always remember that it is a public space, and so for that reason I'm not going to go into a lot of details here. I can say that the teen angst, while painful to watch, seems like a good thing since it indicates emotional growth. And I can also say that the health concerns are minor, since we are monitoring things at a very early stage. As for stress, who doesn't have that in their life?! My challenge is to remember to nurture myself and maintain my connections through it all.

Most certainly there has been knitting. Just this morning I finished Durrow. But it deserves a post of it's own. Instead, here is some more gift knitting completed. A pair of super big socks for man-feet:

And a pair of Fetchings, modified for a different gauge:

I don't like them much because of the curl, so I'd do them differently the second time around. I still think they're gift worthy though. A non-knitter might not care, and a good blocking might sort out the curl.