Thursday, January 31, 2008


This is a fluff piece, soft and light. I'm talking fluffy angora bunny fiber! Whole heavenly handfuls of the stuff came in the mail for me today from Carrie, the Barefoot Cobbler. It is just the softest thing I've ever felt.

Carrie generously shared the bounty from her beautiful bunny so that I could make some thrummed mittens. (Alliterations are all around it seems....) I'm thinking I'd like to try something different with this stuff. Since the angora is so fine, and so warm, I'm thinking I could get away with less by knitting finer thrums. So if I used a sockweight yarn, then my thrums would be sockweight sized, and the whole mitten would be finer, not so stuffed as many thrummed mittens are.

I have an ulterior motive. Carrie said she sent enough fluff for a child sized pair of mittens. I'm wondering if I could get two pair from the pile. It's so lovely and soft, I'm having a hard time with the idea that I have to share.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trying to Brighten a Grey Mood

We had glorious sunshine this morning, just enough for the trip in to work. I arrived with a song on my lips and a bounce in my step. But then the clouds rolled in, and the drizzle started coming down along with my mood. It was a damp walk with Dexter this evening and the weather is only expected to get worse. Its boring to talk about the weather, but it has such an influence on my life that it cannot be ignored.

My knitting is just off these days. I can't seem to do anything I'm particularly thrilled with. Everything is just meh, or feh. I mentioned a creative idea I had. Well, I let it linger in the basket for a week and now I want to rip it. But I thought I'd post it first.

It's a mitered mitten ala Elizabeth Zimmerman, but I wanted it to be warmer, so I thought I'd throw some color work in there. It didn't work out how I'd planned. I wanted to emphasize the angle of the miter, but instead it's muddied. Anyway, it was a fun experiment, but I think I'll liberate the yarn. The colors are kinda meh too.

So, when in doubt knit socks. I always keep a plain sock in my purse for emergency knitting, but I've also got one going when I'm in front of the TV.

I got this bright Kroy Krazy Stripes at a Micheal's sale and the colors were calling to me. It makes me think of sunshine and green grass and blue skies. Other than that, various works-in-progress are getting a row or two added on here and there. I'm just not very excited about anything right now. I don't know what's up with that.

Angelika kindly nomiated me for the "You make my day" award. That's a nice thrill. Thank you dear. Here's something that makes me smile.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Some Good, Some Not So Good

You know what they say about pride, and the subsequent fall. Just this week I post about how proud I am of my sons, and I even went so far as to say Alex had a "noble goal". Well, Friday Alex did a completely normal bit of bad behaviour, he decided to forge a note from me rather than get in trouble for not doing his homework. Of course he was caught. Of course he knows better. And now he is good and grounded for the week. Plus he had to write a letter of apology to the teacher and do extra chores.

We have never had to ground one of our sons like this. They've never done anything so serious. I'm learning that it is just as hard to be the grounder as it is to be the groundee. I keep feeling bad for him. There was a gloriously fresh snow fall on Saturday. Ordinarily, Alex would have spent his afternoon tobogganing, but he couldn't. I felt so sorry for him. But all, in all, he's doing his time with good grace.

On the other hand, I started a new obedience class for Dexter last week and I now have control over my dog. Dexter had a bad case of leash aggression. He was fine in the house, with the kids, at the dog park, but he'd bark and pull every time he saw another dog, person, baby buggy, squirrel, or anything at all. The instructor taught me how to correct him, once but firmly, so that he understands that his bad behaviour will not be tolerated any longer. I read Ceaser Milan's Be the Pack Leader and I now know what I was doing that contributed to his bad behaviour, so I'm changing my ways. I'm happier with Dexter and I think he's happier too. This is a big milestone for us.

One of the things I have to do differently is walk him hard, every day, no matter what. Our weather lately has been very cold, with lots of snow making it difficult to be motivated to walk. But I have and the result is that Dexter is tired out, but so am I. And my knitting has suffered. I just want something simple and soothing to work on after all that. Like socks:

Pattern: my own
Yarn: Schaefer Anne
Needles: 2mm

At least I'm getting good exercise. You've gotta take the good with the bad.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Career Choices

My sons are at that age where they start to think about what they want to do when they grow up. Luke is 13 and will be starting highschool next year, so he is considering what courses he wants to take, and what he would like to do when he graduates from highschool. Will it be post secondary education, or straight into the work force? Alex is 11 and naturally interested in the discussions we are having with Luke.

Alex has already told us that he would like to join the Canadian military so that he can help people while having adventures. There are some excellent television commercials on right now that have made an impact on him. Sure, that's a scary career choice, but I support him in his decision. Mostly because I admire his reasons. Helping people is a noble desire.

To help Alex with his career choice, he's intending to sign up to be a Cadet as soon as he's twelve. Jim's family has a long history with the Cadets. All of his brothers went through the program and Jim was an instructor for 10 years after he graduated from the program. I think this is an excellent way for Alex to build skills as well as discover if he's really suited to the career path he's chosen.

Tonight, Luke mentioned that he's thinking he'd like to be a scientist. Apparently, Luke was discussing this with his Dad, and Jim asked him what his strong skills were. They determined that he really likes science and has superb math skills, so perhaps he should go into science. Nice job Dad!

Now here comes the true confession. I've got to admit I'm just tickled at the thought of my boys all grown up and pursuing a career. In my mind's eye, I can see Luke, pale and serious, with a white lab coat on, expostulating some complex and esoteric scientific theory. And I envision Alex, strong and competent, handsome in his uniform, rescuing people from a dangerous situation.

Then I say to myself, "Simmer down Mom!" My boys have a long road before them still. But my, this is an exciting time for our family.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excuses, excuses

I've got a few. It's been a week since I last blogged, but I see that the internet has managed to go along fine without me. It's too bad I don't have any photographic evidence of what I've been up to. Are you ready for a written report?

Last Tuesday was the Forest City Knitting Club meet up. That group is really growing! In part due to rave reviews passed around on Ravelry.

Wednesday night we attended an open house at the local high school that Luke will be attending next year. I went to it with trepidation and left favourably impressed. They went to considerable effort to put their best foot forward. The teachers are enthusiastic, there's a ton of programs and the school has great facilities. Two of Luke's good friends are planning on going there, so it sounds like a good transition for him.

Thursday I took the kids to Costco for the first time. They begged me to go. Luke summed it up for both of them when he said, "It's not so big, but it sure is tall." I can't tell if I'm saving any money shopping there. It's too much math, trying to calculate what I would normally pay for one tube of toothpaste against the price of seven all at once. I think I may just turn my membership back in. The main thing is that we bought a little freezer and now we can stockpile meat when it goes on sale. This is especially important since Dexter can eat almost as much as the four of us in one meal.

Work has been very busy too. By the time the weekend rolled around, I was about done in. Plus it's super cold around here. It's been grey outside and I can feel my energy slowly slipping away. Most nights this past week I was content to knit a sock. I did finish one sleeve of my tunic as well as one sock. I'm underwhelmed. Socks are no good unless there's two and it's hard to tell what the sleeve will be like until the lace is blocked.

I was bit by the creative bug this weekend. I couldn't stand to knit from a pattern or something so simple as a sock anymore. So I started something new and complex by layering two simple ideas together. But that's a blog post for another day..

In the meantime, you all just keep the internet running, will ya?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Garter Stitch Does Go On...

It seemed to take an awfully long time to get through the garter stitch yoke on the Rose Leaves Tunic. I put a good movie on and got to it on Saturday night, but still didn't finish it up till late Sunday. Once over the garter hump, it has been smooth sailing down the sleeve. I'm just beginning chart B.

Black yarn does not make for exciting pictures. Let me explain a little about what we are seeing here. On the far left hand side, the straight grey bit is a provisional cast on. The yoke is knit in garter stitch, sideways. The grey squiggley bit in the center is the left side of the neck, being held on waste yarn. You shape it with short rows. The other side of the neck requires you to cast on stitches. At the far right we have a lace sleeve starting out.

Hmm... the close up is not much help. You can see the phony seam going horizontally in the middle of the picture. I really like the way it adds structure to the otherwise floppy garter stitch created by knitting so loosely.

I've decided on a rather major modification for my tunic. The original design calls for a drop shoulder with a finished circumference of 46". I need more width than that, given my 48" chest. So I decided on a set-in sleeve. I referred to Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top to figure out what to do.

Instead of starting the sleeve in the round right after the main yoke was knit, I knit back and forth for about 3". Then I joined the sleeve in the round. When I pick up the body stitches, I will do so around the yoke, and along the bottom of the sleeves. I've left myself plenty of wiggle room, but if I've got too much ease, I can sew up the sleeve seam a bit highter, and/or pick up fewer stitches.

Oh, one other mod. The sleeves as written are 15" around. My upper arm is bigger than this, so I added some extra stitches and I'm knitting them in stockinette on the underside. I've just finished decreasing them away as I'm about at the elbow I think.

I'm not a methodical knitter. Instead, I fly by the seat of my pants. Here's hoping I don't crash.

Hmm... Maybe I should put that sleeve on a circular needle and try the thing on.

Ha! No sooner typed than done. Everything is going according to plan.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Welcome to Friday everyone! It's been a busy week, but the weekend is almost upon us. I love weekend knitting because I have the time and energy to get something good going. Do you know what you're knitting this weekend?

I do. I finally chose a project. It's not the overly ambitious Celtic Jacket idea, though I may still get to it one day. Instead, I listened to that quiet, but insistent voice that said "lace". Here's my progress for the week:

It doesn't look like much. It doesn't even look like lace. But I'm still excited to work on it because of the yarn.

Yep, Elann's Baby Cashmere that has been aging in the stash for well over a year. It makes a lovely fabric, drapey and soft. I don't even mind knitting black in January because I'm anticipating a highly wearable end product.

But I haven't told you what the end product is yet, have I? Can you guess? It's the Rose Leaves Tunic from the Gathering of Lace. (It was really hard to find a picture of it on the net. I got the link above through Ravelry.)

When I first bought the book, I was in love with the idea of knitting this tunic. It's like creating a shawl, but more wearable. But I found Meg's directions too sketchy, so I was scared off. Somehow, either because I'm more confident or because I've read the instructions often enough, it seems doable now. Maybe one day my own design ideas will seem doable too. In the mean time, I'm really looking forward to finishing the yoke so I can get onto the lace patterns.

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you all have a juicy project to sink your needles into.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I can't decide what to knit next, so I'm working on a sock. While I like idea of designing my own jacket, the whole creative process intimidates me. I work at a job that requires a great deal of mental effort, and I'm enough of a process knitter to want to knit something that will relax me at the end of the day. In such a case, having a good pattern to follow is a treat. On the other hand, I get a great deal of satisfaction from creating something new, but the cost is a whole lot of effort and frustration.

Other thought processes get involved when I'm trying to pick a project. There's the suitability of the project to the season. I know I can only knit light projects in the summer, so I should do my heavy sweaters now. But somehow I'm tempted to knit lace in January. Then there's the color issue. Do I want blue, red, green or that pretty variegated that has all of them in it? I also have a back list of projects I'd like to get to "someday". Perhaps today is someday. But which one? There's so many.

It's tiring having so many ideas swirling around in my head. So last night I decided to work on stress reduction and I knit a sock. It is simply patterned, in a gorgeous yarn, hand dyed in beautiful colors. As I went round and round on my sock, I thought, perhaps this is what I need to learn from my knitting today. I need to appreciate what's before me, rather than jumping ahead to the next thing. I need to go with the flow of my life and not try to shape it into what I think it should be.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm waiting for the irresistible urge to cast on. I'm waiting for the project that captures my imagination and steals my heart. In the mean time, there are always socks...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It Puts a Smile on My Face....

It's been a busy weekend and I didn't have time for anything more than this, but that's all right because I'm really happy with it.

Pattern: Sea Mineral Mittens
Yarn: Koigu, Celestial Merino, and Apple Laine
Needles: 2.25mm bamboo
Mods: I got funky wit it!

I changed up the patterns at the wrist because my printer wasn't printing blue, so the chart was shades of pink. Getting creative with those bands at the cuff was a lot of fun. I barely had enough blue yarn to finish, which is why I made the back of the thumb mostly white. The patterning is from a Nancy Bush mitten.

I decided that I didn't want pointy mitten tips this time, so I just stopped decreasing and grafted the end shut. Then I did the same with the thumb so they'd match. Also, I sewed on the fish before I grafted the thumb shut. I sewed it using chain stitch and just some short flat stitches. I decided that one little fish was all it needed. The other mitten is plain. Plus, I was so happy with how it turned out, and I wasn't sure I could do it twice. Here's the little fishie, larger than life.

Now for a wash and a good stiff blocking to make that scalloped edge stop flipping over.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Creative Ideas

I've got two ideas that I'm toying with. One I'm certain to bring to light, the other is too uncertain yet.

What's certain is that I want to do something funky with this mitten:

I'd like to embroider some little fishies on that beautiful sea background. Perhaps just one cutie on the thumb ala Bird in the Hand Mittens. Or perhaps I'll try to knit the thumb to look like a fish, that'd be fun too. Either way, I'm certain that something funky is going down with these.

My other idea is to create a fair isle jacket using the Philosopher's Wool that I got from FibreFest North. It would have to be a jacket, because anything stranded at this weight would be too warm for most indoor wear. I don't think a pattern exists for what I have in mind, so I'd be designing my own thing. And that's where everything gets foggy because I don't have the neck line or edges or closures set in my head. There is inspiration all around though.

I've separated out the colors into the lights and darks.

I'd like to use a Celtic pattern from Alice Starmore's Celtic Collection. My next step should be to wind up the balls and start swatching. It's a daunting proposition though. I get plagued with doubt. Negative thoughts run through my head:
  • "It's too much work."
  • "You already have a fair isle sweater you didn't finish because you don't like working sleeves."
  • "Designing color work is hard."
  • "It won't look right."
  • "How will if figure out the sleeve shaping?"
The only positive thought I can come up with to counter act them all is "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I don't know how designers get the gumption to do it for a living.

Then again, maybe I'll knit lace....

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back to Work

Le sigh. Today, I must head me back to work. It was a lovely, relaxing vacation. I allowed myself to do not much of anything. There were many naps, and there was much knitting. It was just lovely.

Here's what I'm knitting now:

Pattern: Sea Mineral Mittens
Yarn: Koigu, Celestial Merino, a smidgen of Apple Laine.
Needles: 2.25 mm

This is a lovely free pattern I found on Ravelry, created by SpillyJane. She had a vision of these mitts as calming due to muted colors. Apparently I have a different vision. When I first knit up the cuff, I was scared it was too bright. The colors are really saturated. But once I got up into the hand, it started to balance out and now I'm okay with it. I do like how the variegated blue simulates water.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2008! I rang in the new year at a family wedding. My niece Amanda is the beautiful bride.

It was a lovely wedding, with good food, music, lots of laughter and even some stealth knitting.

Not who you expected, eh?

We didn't stay late because Alex was staying over at a freind's house and Luke was home alone. I called Luke every couple of hours to see how he was doing. At 9:30 he told me he was fine, but that I could come home at 10:00. It would have been nice to stay, but we respected his limits and came home. When we pulled the car into the garage, he cracked the door open to peep at us and we could see Dexter peeking through too. So cute! I know Luke felt safe at home because of Dexter.

My brother-in-law stayed overnight with us, so we all stayed up until midnight to ring in the new year. I managed to finish off the first FO of the new year. The Chalet socks are done like dinner and now I can knit for myself! Woo hoo!

Pattern: Chalet Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Regia Silk
Needles: 2.75mm except for the heels and toes which were on 2.25mm
These were knit to fit a man's size 11. I have very little yarn left over.