Thursday, August 28, 2008

Telling Tales

Yesterday, my shipment from Knit Picks arrived, containing a set of Harmony DPNs and lace blocking wires. The DPNs are all I expected them to be, but the shipping tube for the blocking wires had been crushed and then taped. I took a little peek inside and the ruler had been broken. So I called Knit Picks and their customer service rep said they'd send me a new set right away. Yippee! And I was only complaining of the ruler. When I opened the tube, I discovered that the wires themselves are bent. Jim thinks it would be impossible to ever get them truly straight again. But kudos to Knit Picks for doing the right thing, right away!

Tonight, while walking the dog, my brain was wandering and I had an idea. I have 20 balls of natural colored, aran weight Jamieson's Shetland marinating in the stash. I realized that one of the reasons I haven't worked it up yet is because the color doesn't suit anyone in the family. I do love natural colored yarns, but cream is a color best used for richly colored complexions. So why not dye it? What would be really cool is color progressions such as Ruth was showing today. If I could do ten in blue and ten in red, perhaps I could do something interesting with the charts from Kestrals Alight, from American Knitting. I realize that this is an extremely ambitious dream, but I just have to write it down. I know from experience that it won't amount to much, but ah! what fun in the dream!

Hmm.... or I could save my money for some Kauni yarn....

Oh! If you live in the US and you'd like some beautiful buttons, check out Crazycakes on Etsy. I love all her buttons, but I particularily wanted these for the Sandy Cardigan:

Oh woe is me, she doesn't ship to Canada. Good thing I've got a crafty mom to help me out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Good Start on a Fall Sweater

Vacation's over, at least for me. I had a lovely two weeks that included our trip to Ottawa, my high school reunion and last week the Olympics kept me entertained at home. Plus the weather was beautiful, so I went on some super long dog walks. Then on Saturday, we all went to the Port Stanley beach. The day was hot and the waves were strong which was great fun.

Today I felt that summer was saying good bye, but I consoled myself with the thought of the many fine days still left to us through the end of summer and into autumn. A new sweater for fall is a big consolation too.

The Sandy Cardigan is a sweater that will not photograph well lying flat. That is because of the strategic shaping knit into the sweater to mimic my curves, of which I have many in contrasting proportions. That rippling at the top of the sweater is due to the 4 extra inches added to the length of the panels to accommodate my contours. But it looks good on! I owe you a modeling shot, but I can't until I get the other side panel done. The knitting is unwieldy at this point, since you've got to flip it around and back to work on 30 odd stitches for one side.

Yes, I'm using the acrylic. Something in me was deeply satisfied with this combination. It just feels right. Also, I've asked my mother to create some ceramic buttons for me. This sweater needs something extra to give it that personalized touch. That is, in addition to the major screw up that made. A screw up that I've decided is a feature. Here's a shot of the back:

Can you guess what the screw up is?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Great Garterstitch!

It's all Brooklyntweed's fault. His glorious photography of humble garter stitch finally pushed me over the edge into casting on for the Puzzle Pillow Blanket, a pattern that I've been intrigued by for quite some time.

And you know, it was really a lot of fun! There was plenty of easy knitting and occasional bits of thinking required. It was sort of like sock knitting, and now I want to knit some more. This is the medium size (42sts) and it will just do as a lap blanket or a child’s blanket.

The puzzle part of the blanket, is that you knit a pocket on one corner into which you can fold the blanket, if you can figure out how. (Meg Swansen provides the instructions.) This aspect of the blanket makes it portable, and handy as a cushion too.

The yarn is Sandnes Garn Alfa, of which I had only 14 skeins. I was worried I wouldn't have enough, but the project took just over 10 skeins. The yarn is a mohair/wool blend which gives the blanket a bit of a halo, but makes it very cuddly. My only concern is that whomever I give this too will have to know how to care for natural fibers.

Maybe I'll have to keep this one and knit some more for Christmas presents. I'm so hard done by.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vacation 2008 - Treasure Hunt

Without intruding on my family's vacation, I did manage to sneak in a fair amout of fiber adventures. All it took was a keen eye (which my obsessed mind readily provided). For example, while looking for lunch in downtown Ottawa I spied a Celtic shop selling these:

It was a good start, but these sweaters are all machine made. The prices reflect this, they'd be sinfully cheap if they were hand knit!

Coming home from our Parliment tour I managed to hit two yarn stores since they were both on our way to Rockland. The boys had bought a video game at HMV and so they were quite happy to stay in the car while I had a look around. The first store was Yarn Forward & Sew On, an tempting combo of yarn store and quilt shop.

It's a lovely shop, roomy and bright with helpful and friendly staff. There was a wide range of yarns available. Jim was struck by the alapaca blend sock yarn and commented that he thought it would be quite warm. So, I told him to pick a color for me to make him socks. Here's what he chose:

Bright, eh? I'm thinking that this would look gorgeous in some color work. Then I found some Lucy Neatby sock yarn and once I put my hands on it I HAD to have it. The price was rich, but I was powerless before this yarn. I didn't even stop to read the label. It wasn't until we were driving away and I was petting my pretty that I read the label and discovered that I had bought a cashmere blend yarn.

Yes, I had to knit it up right away. This is a Monkey, but it is soon to be ripped since there is no way it will fit me and there's also no way I will be giving this yarn to anyone else. It's all mine!!

Wool N' Things was also on the way home so we stopped there too. I wasn't going to spend money, just look. But the first thing I saw was this beauty:

It was lust at first sight. Then I picked it up. Egads! But you have to buy the Handmaiden or Fleece Artist you love when you find it because it's always different. Wool N' Time had some new sock yarns in from Regia. This one is furry:

And this one has little bobbles all over it:I think they are both just awful! I've heard rumors that Regia has discontinued their silk blend sock yarn. I can't believe they would replace a quality yarn like that for this junk. Bleh.

I also picked up some Tuffy and needles to teach my sister-in-law Cathy how to knit socks. Then, just at the cash register, they had this little gem which was an impulse purchase:
Laceweight soy-silk. Like I need more laceweight, but it was only $16. Curiosity killed the cat. Me-ow! Or do I look like the cat that swallowed the canary?

As you can see, Cathy was pretty happy learning to knit socks. She knows basic knitting, but this was her first time with DPNs and purling. She's a quick study!

As a last cap and glory to the trip, we stopped in at Half Price books in Oshua where I pored over their knitting section and there I had my magic moment. A copy of America Knits for $10. I've borrowed the hardcover from my local library several times and fell in love with this book. To find it new, and inexpensive was such a thrill! I bought it and One Skein Wonders.

These are my souvenirs of a fabulous trip!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vacation 2008 - Parliment Hill

We left London Friday right after work and stopped just after the 407 express way for some dinner. Luke ate very little and we discovered that he's been so stressed about going away, that he hasn't been eating much for a while. This was worrisome because he's growing so fast, his joints stick out all over.

We stopped in Trenton to stay the night, and were on the road again bright and early. We made it to Rockland before 11. We stayed with Jim's brother. Gord is married to Cathy, they have two children Evan (19) and Josie (16). Also in the house was Evan's girlfreind, Josie's boyfreind assorted other teenagers as well as two dogs, two cats and one rabbit. But all was harmonious! Luke had a computer in a quiet spot where he could read and de-stress. I enjoyed sitting out on the deck, chatting with Cathy and even swam with Alex a couple of times.

Visiting Parliament Hill was my favourite of our touristy travels. It was just so impressive! You can see we had a very overcast day, and while we did get rained on a bit, at least it wasn't horribly hot. There are a lot of interesting things to see on the grounds. Restoration work was underway. It looks like they've put a sweater on to this tower:

There are statutes of famous Canadians all around the grounds. Alex was having a lot of fun taking pictures of them and playing in, around and on them.

We toured the grounds while waiting for out turn to tour the interior of the buildings. When we got tired, we stopped and I knitted.

You have to pass airport-type security to get into the building and my boys were very worried for my knitting needles. "It's only knitting" I told them, "I'll get it back." But they needn't have worried. After a brief consultation, which I couldn't understand because it was spoken in quick French, the security guards let my knitting through. I wonder if having a 75% complete sock on the needles increased my odds.

Right at the beginning of the tour, we were waiting in a hallway that was covered with plaques carrying the roster for the various parliaments. For a lark, I started reading the names. What a thrill when I found mine!

Actually, the member of parliament listed here was LĂ©opold Corriveau, but still a thrill for me.

The building is rich with art, in stone, glass, metal and paintings.

The best part was the library, but we weren't allowed to photograph it because librarians are actually working in the building. The library is the oldest and most beautiful part of the whole thing and it's worth trip to see it.

There are more pictures up on Flickr, if you care to see them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Safe and Sound

We're back. We survived vacation with a teenager and what's more, the teenager survived too! It was the furthest and the longest we've ever been from home. A laid back style of vacation suited us all perfectly. There was so much more we could have done, but none of us had the stamina for more than we did do.

We stopped in at Trenton, Rockland, Ottawa, Kingston, Oshua and Toronto. We saw the Science Museum, toured the Parliament buildings, explored Fort Henry, and visited the Ontario Science Center. In the fiber department, I made some discoveries and brought home some treasures. Half the fun was hunting things up.

A full report to follow....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

And Away we Go! (Almost)

Just a quick note as tonight we are cleaning and packing and generally bustling around so that we can leave on our vacation tomorrow. Ottawa is almost an 8 hour drive from London and with Luke's temperament we have to take it in stages. The plan is to leave late in the afternoon, drive a couple hours, then stop for dinner. After that, we'll drive a few more hours then stop and stay somewhere with a pool. A swim is just the thing to de-stress everyone and stretch us out.

We've just vague plans made for what we want to see and do because it's impossible to tell if a given attraction will fall within Luke's tolerance or not (for example, big crowds are not tolerated). Also, if Luke gets too tired, his tolerance level goes down. But I'm content. I think that we know the ropes by now and we know what we need to do to have a fun vacation.

The gift knitting is all done. Here is the mitten picture I promised:

Ah, I hear the dulcet tones of my family calling me back to work! Must run!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend wrap up.

I've spent my weekend preparing to go on holidays. We're leaving Friday night (August 8th) for Rockland to visit Jim's brother and tour the Ottawa area. So lots of cleaning and shopping and organizing to do. Plus knitting! Our hosts and their children will be getting knitted gifts and I've knit almost an entire mitten this weekend. It's a big one too, 92 sts around. Whew! But I've just the thumb to do and I'm done.

What with all the planning I've been speculating on what knitting I should bring on the trip. I've narrowed down the field to a sock with a simple pattern and possibly the Icarus shawl. The project must be light, small, moderately interesting, yet easy to do. Two projects would be good in case one doesn't pan out.

For a break from power knitting, I'm discovering how to get StumbleUpon to give me knit-related sites. Some things it turned up were no surprise, but KnitPro is a nifty new tool and I especially liked the blanket knit with a quote from Richard Rutt in The History of Hand Knitting. Then there's a UK version of Knitty called Knit on the Net, and some wild and crazy knit pics. Stumbling through the web is very addictive. Proceed with caution.

BTW - I spent my Friday evening with the Twist Collective. What a smart magazine, in all senses of the word. If you haven't seen it yet, you must go look. Off with you now! Nothing to see here, I'll have mitten pictures next time.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Blow your mind

Have you heard of Stumble Upon? I just tried it out and my mind is blown. In just a few minutes I've seen live trees shaped like people, a mesmerizing graphics display, and some wicked street art that makes you laugh and makes you think. Go try it.

It's a good thing it's a long weekend, so I've got some time...