Sunday, September 21, 2008

These Three Gifts

After the excitement of the Knitter's Fair, my brain was buzzing with ideas for my Kauni yarn and I think I've figured out what I want to do.

I really like the Kestrel's Alight motif, but I don't like the kimono design. I don't think it's one I'd be comfortable in or would suit me. What I'm thinking of instead is a pullover, with maybe some side shaping, and a very simple treatment of the edges using the purl when you can method. I puzzled over the side-shaping part for quite some time. I've decided to use a panel, as in the Sandy cardigan, and fill it with the leaf chart. As it decreases to the waist I'll prune out the branches and then grow them back in when increasing.

It's clear in my mind now, and I finished up some gift knitting so what do you think I cast on next? Yeah, not the Kauni. I started Durrow, a sweater for Jim. It was against my first impulse, but Jim's birthday is in November, and he really needs some more sweaters, and it seemed smart to knit grey wool while there's color on the trees and save the rainbow yarn for the dark days coming.

I've got three possible gift items knit up. My favourite, and least likely to be a gift, is these mittens:

Pattern: Komi Mittens by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: various sock yarns, all superwash with nylon
Needles: 2.5mm

I used sock leftovers of Trekking and Doug's hand dyed. I just love the color combo! It clicked. But I ran out of the Trekking so had to sub in some leftover Knitpicks Essential.

I still love these mittens. If I'm desperate, I'll use them for a gift. But even better would be for them to go in the family stash as a back up pair so no one in my house will go mittenless this winter.

I also knit a one-skein wonder scarf:

The ends aren't sewn in so you can see how close I made it. It's a shortish scarf, but the blues are pretty and the pattern is light and airy. See?

I have no idea what the yarn is as I threw it in my bag at the Needle Emporium's Tent sale sans-label.

I also made a Monteagle bag. It was fun, but... Let's just say, mine came out a bit different. Here's my advice to anyone trying this pattern using dish cloth cotton instead of linen: Go up a needle size! Or several! My bag is squat. Still serviceable, oh yes, but wide and not deep.

It looks like someone's idea of a crop top, yes? I screwed up somewhere because I had way too many stitches left at the top, so I totally improvised the handles. It's a working bag though. I loaded it with six big cans plus four regular sized cans and then shook 'em all about to lengthen the stitches. Nothing fell out (thankfully, because a can landing on my foot would have hurt!) Here it is loaded:

It just might be gift worthy.

In other news, some how the handle of my ball winder broke off. I have only myself to blame since I should have put away my toys when I finished playing with them. The good news is that one drop of advanced Crazy Glue seems to have mended the break. I wound six skeins of worsted tonight and it held. Whew!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What I Bought at the KW Knitter's Fair

This year, I took my mother to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair and we both had a great time! Like many mothers and daughters, we used to be too enmeshed and over the last several years we struggled as I carved out my own space and identity. However the experience was worth it because we've both grown. This trip to KW felt like graduation to me because we both had a really good time.

Buttons by mom.

On our way there, we got a little mixed up and my mother said that she was having trouble being the "NAGivator". Ha! I had such a laugh. Freudian slip much? I have a feeling this term is going down into the family vocabulary.

The Knitter's Fair this year was held in two ballrooms at Bingemans and both were filled with vendors. The crowds weren't so pressing, so it was very pleasant. They had a much better set up for food too, but mom is diabetic so we had brought our own lunch.

We shopped, ate, took in the fashion show and shopped again. Here's what I bought:

This Briggs & Little Sport was on sale for $1.50 a skein. Ridiculous! I'm thinking stranded socks. My mom bought a bunch of the Briggs & Little two-ply. Enough for two sweaters for herself. She's got a very deep frugal streak in her, mom does.

But I was on the look out for the Needle Emporium because I had a coupon burning up my pocket and a long-held dream to fulfill.

That's 720 grams of Kauni Effektgarn. I was going to buy 7 skeins (each one is either 140 or 150 grams) but the nice sales ladies told me I wouldn't need more than 5. So I put two back. Which left me a little more money to spend on:

Yeah, I need sock yarn like another hole in the head. But I love the vintage labels on the Kroy and it was only $3.50 a skein. I need plain sock yarn for those lace and cabled beauties. The Noro was on sale for $11. Too good a price to leave behind, even though I still have extras from the other balls. I have an itch to see what this stuff would look like in a stranded mitten pattern.
The Soak is exclusive to the Sweet Sheep and it has a light citrusy scent. I usually use Eculan in lavender, but Jim doesn't like that scent, so this will be good for washing his sweaters.

It was nice to see friends both near (Nadine, Isa, Kat, Lynn, Catherine and Janice) and far (Connie) and maybe I made a new friend. (Hi Pat from Michigan!) The Knitter's Fair feels like Christmas to me, including the Christmas aftermath of cleaning and recouping. Monday comes too soon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Made This!

The Sandy Cardigan was a fun knit and the result fits great! I'd recommend it to any big girl with a big calculator.

I'd read online that people weren't happy with the fit of this sweater and I think I understand why. There are some rather complicated numbers to crunch for this baby. She was a head-scratcher for sure. I had to read the pattern through several times to get the gist of what was going on. Plus, there's the errata to follow.

The other thing I did was to knit this a little tighter then the recommended gauge. I'm assuming that the garter stitch will stretch out. It's a safer bet than hoping it won't. I have less ease than the pattern called for too.

There are some really clever moments in the pattern. I particularly enjoyed the sleeve cap shaping and the neck, where short rows are used to good advantage.

I loved working with the purple acrylic. It's soft, has a lovely heathered tone, and it behaved well during the knitting (which you know the Noro didn't). It looks great in garter stitch!

My mom made me the ceramic buttons and we're both very pleased. She's happy to get a request and I'm happy with how they turned out. They've got embossed flowers, and two shades of purple on them. Thanks Mom!

Monday, September 08, 2008

More on Raising Teens

This past weekend we had some company over and the woman was describing some difficulty she was having with one of her teenage sons. The lad had taken to wearing all black, with the hip chain and dyed his hair jet black. She told us how she put him in his place.

"I told him how he and all his friends are trying so hard to be different that they all end up looking the same anyway!"

It's an innocent enough statement, but what struck me was the tone of contempt in her voice. She seemed proud that she had struck a telling blow on the teen.

Another mother was describing how her 17 year old daughter had spent the summer lazing around, wouldn't follow the rules and was now trying to move in with one of her friends. One friend had bailed on her, so she was trying a different one. This mother told me how she was coming down hard on her daughter.

"I told her, if this doesn't work out, then she'd have to come back home and live by the rules. It's time she straightened up her act!"

Now my boys are only 12 and almost-14, so I have hardly any experience raising teenagers, but both of these cases saddened me. They feel hard, and cold. In the first case, I feel that the boy's need to figure out who he is should be respected. In the second case, the girl should have an opportunity to negotiate what her rules and responsibilities at home will be.

I recently had a talk with Luke (Mr. Almost-14) because he kept acting contemptuously of me because I didn't know his favourite cereal, or which books he'd already read. I told him this:

"Luke, you're right, I don't know you. You're growing up and discovering who you are. I won't know about you unless you choose to tell me. So please don't disrespect me if I don't have all the answers. Instead, talk to me."

Luke understood this and he agreed with it. Though he kind of laughed at the idea of talking with me. ;-)

I read Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It! when my children were babies and I think that's where I get my ideas about how to raise my teens. My role as a parent is to guide them, not make their choices, to protect them from their own lack of judgment, and to give them responsibilities to live up to in proportion to the freedoms they earn.

Check in with me in 4 years. Let's see if I can hold to it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Slice of my September

It's been stressful having the kids back at school. There are so many papers to sign and details to look after. But Luke has settled right into highschool and he seems to be happy. We're so relieved and hopeful too, that he may finally bloom. He's writing, he's interested in after school activities and he seems to be taking a proactive interest in his homework. Of course, as soon as one kid gets his act together, it's the other one's turn to kick up a fuss.

Alex is extremely resistant to water these days. Which is unfortunate, because at twelve, his need to shower has increased. Apparently, I'm an entirely unreasonable mom for expecting him to shower two days in a row. I was quite surprised to get so much resistance on such a trivial topic, but we've hammered out an agreement; if you stink, go shower.

My thrill for the week came from my co-worker Carl. In July we were discussing our pending summer vacations and when I heard he was making a trip to Iceland I naturally mentioned Icelandic yarn. He volunteered to pick some up for me and asked me what kind I liked. I asked for naturally colored laceweight and lo! behold what Carl delivered:

I was gobsmacked, speechless and just about ready to squeal. What a thrill! I wanted to repay Carl his money, so I asked him how much it cost. 920 kroner which he tells me translates into about $12 Canadian. Dudes, Schoolhouse Press wants that much for one ball, plus shipping. What really makes this yarn special for me, is that Carl went through the trouble to get it. Thanks again Carl!!!

I think the Icelandic yarn wants to be a sheep puppet. (Likely held double.)

My Sandy Cardigan is almost done, but I have to wait yet for the buttons. I want to save telling you about it for a future post, but let me just say: It is good. Very good.

I finished a pair of socks.

Pattern: Knotty Pines, from a vintage Patons book
Yarn: MadelineTosh Highland Sock
Needles: 2.25mm

I had no idea one sock is darker than the other. It doesn't matter in the least. The yarn was lovely to work with, and I really enjoy how the color worked up. The pattern was simple to memorize and work. Even though it's a lace pattern, it's not excessive. This pair will be going to Jim. My sock drawer is quite full.

In the cheap thrills department, I found this at my local Goodwill:

I got two for 49 cents each. There's a nice soft halo to this yarn that would be lovely on a pair of mittens. There's something romantic about red wool mittens with a soft halo about them.

Next week I'm looking forward to going to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair. I expect to see a fair number of Londoners there. I'll be watching for you; give a shout out if you see me. I'm pretty sure I have readers in the London area that I've never met. Please introduce yourself. I'd like a chance to say Hi!

And just to round out this rambling post, I give you vegetable sheep:

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Fair Report

Yesterday was the final day of the 154th Harrow Fair and it was well worth the drive to go see it. The fair has a very strong rural and agricultural background which was evident in the exhibits, events and displays. They had many categories to enter and a lot of creative classes. The children's entries were delightful. There was a great turn out of entries in all categories. Here's what the knitting section looked like:

Yowza! I had entered 5 items and came away with 4 ribbons. The following picture shows my two firsts, one for the Rainbow Lopi sweater and the other for a boy's aran hoodie (it's hard to see the red ribbon over a red sweater).

I took second for the Shetland Garden Faroese shawl and third for my Noro stranded socks. The shawl lost out to a poncho that must have taken a great deal of will power to knit. Its in a chenille yarn and it's just huge! I was told to keep knitting lace because next year they wanted to have a separate category for lace. They thought it was like comparing apples to oranges trying to judge between these two.

Mary Jane, who guided me and helped me through the whole entry process, entered 7 items and came away with 5 ribbons. One example is this beautiful little baby sweater:

Lovely, isn't it? Makes me want to pick up some baby yarn.

On a sad note, the Western Fair is only offering knit classes for children 7-10 and 11-15. I don't understand the rhyme or reason behind these decisions. There's a article in the Londoner that sums up my feelings about the situation, but the article doesn't offer any explanations. It seems that the Western Fair is now an urban fair, with the focus on entertainment, business and products.

Thank goodness for good old-fashioned country fairs. Keep up the good work Harrow Fair!