Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Swatch That Didn't Want to Be a Swatch

I did swatch. Honest, I did.

The silk lace weight yarn I tried was just too fine for the "scarf with the open and solid diamond lace edging" (from Victorian Lace Today, page 90). It was summarily frogged and re-wound on to the ball.

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I swatched with some leftover Jaggerspun Zephyr, on 4.0 mm needles. I finished one pattern repeat. I finished a second repeat. I thought, "Oh, what the heck, I may as well finish the third repeat." So I did.

Before I knew it, I had almost one third of the scarf done! I guess this yarn just wants to be that scarf and who am I to discourage it from it's aspirations?

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The technicalities: This pattern, as shown in the picture, is not as written in the pattern. The picture shows a 3-pointed edging; the pattern is written for a 4-pointed edging, making it wider. I'm doing the 3-pointed edging, obviously. There are corrections on the XRX website. The yarn I'm using, as stated, is Jaggerspun Zephyr, in the copper colourway. Don't ask me the colour number; it's the same one I used for my Icarus shawl. I really like working with this yarn. It slides through the fingers without being slick.

As for the pattern itself, once I got past the beginning lace section, which wasn't difficult but did demand some concentration, it's a simple knit, really. The center panel is a garter stitch base with diamonds comprised of double yarn overs. At this stage, it's an almost mindless knit.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back to Knitting

...but first, a few things about my last post. Leslie asked about John's dad; he was very moved at the sight of the panels. He divorced John's mother many years ago and regrets it deeply now. On seeing the panels, he was in tears, as was John. All of your comments touched me; I found it to be such an amazing story myself. All I did was chronicle it.

Now, on to knitting. I got mail yesterday!

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I ordered this book so that, eventually, I'll be able to repair my Icarus shawl. Remember how I found a little hole (that looked like a *gasp* moth had made it) in it after it came off the needles? Now, I just need to take the time to knit up a swatch, make a hole in it, and learn to repair it. That will happen... one day.

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And this little gem! I've borrowed this book from the library, but now I have my own copy! I'm thrilled to have it in my library. If you're not familiar with this book, "Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook" by Montse Stanley, you should become familiar with it. It is regarded as one of the "must have" books for any serious knitter's library. Cast ons and cast offs alone take up 30 pages! That's a lot of ways to cast on and cast off! (and I intend to try every one of them!)

Then, there's one I'm equally thrilled about. I've been seeing a lot of lacewear from this book all over the knitting blog-o-sphere. And now, I have the book...

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Already I've got some thoughts and ideas. I have two skeins of a gorgeous silk laceweight yarn that I've just never found the "right" project for; in this book, there are a couple of things I think the silk would be perfect for. I have every intention of swatching for one of those projects today. Oh, I know... I'm fickle when it comes to my knitting projects. I should be finishing something before I cast on for another one, but this is just swatching, to see if the silk WOULD be just right. If it is, I'll make a note and put it with the pattern. I won't actually be starting it.

(I hear you... you're saying "uh huh, sure Ev... we believe you".... shhhhhhhhh!)

In other knitting, incidentally, the Split Leaf Scarf is coming along nicely. The pattern's been written up; all it needs is a picture of the finished scarf. So far, I have eight repeats of the leaf pattern finished. It's not a difficult pattern to read and remember once you get going on it. Now I just need more time to work on it.

So many ideas.... so little time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Serendipity - A Tale of "Meant to Be"

Long ago, in 1955, a baby boy was born. His parents named him John. They sent out the requisite birth announcements and the congratulatory notes began to stream in to the proud parents' home. His mother, being a creative sort, took all of these congratulatory notes and built a collage on the back of a divider screen she had made previously. (As an aside, this 3-panelled screen had been made with panels of cardboard and covers of New Yorker magazine, all of them from the early 1950's). Two of the panels became a showcase for the best wishes. They were framed and became a special part of his parents' home.

Many years later, this baby became a tree planter. At one point, after his mother had been hospitalized after several strokes, he was cleaning up the house, preparing to move. The panels were uncovered and, not thinking he'd have room for them anywhere, a friend obligingly took them, with a bunch of other stuff, to the local dump. Unbeknownst to the John, a friend, a former employer, just happened to be at that dump at the same time that the panels were being disposed of. The friend and the friend doing the dump run knew each other and a conversation ensued. The former employer (let's call him Brad) relieved the man of the two panels and went home with a plot forming in his mind.

Now, Brad was a conniving sort; not in a bad way, but he did like to mess with people's minds. He owned a home in a small town near the town John lived in. Brad had converted part of his home into a small cafe. One day, John decided to stop in and say hello to Brad on his way through town. He intended to stay no more than a few minutes, but Brad managed to entice him into staying long enough to enjoy a few beers, long enough to ensure that John would need to use "the facilities". Finally, John had to leave, but asked if he could use the washroom first; Brad pointed him in the direction of one of the two washrooms. There, while using the facilities, John happened to look to his left and saw something he thought he would never see again. To this day, he isn't sure if he actually finished answering nature's call. He was stunned, for there, next to the toilet, were the two panels he thought he had thrown out. There, mounted on the bathroom wall, were all of the congratulatory notes chronicling his birth.

Brad laughed, tickled that he had pulled one over on John and that he owned a piece of John's history that John would never again own.

A few years later, Brad put the house/cafe up for sale. A woman we'll call Lisa purchased the property and had plans to open up her own little cafe. She proceeded to plan the renovations, painting and general decorating of the cozy space. The panels were removed from the bathroom wall where they had resided for several years. She recognized that they were part of someone's history and she shared with several friends that these panels were too important to simply throw out. She knew that one day the subject of all those cards would come back. She propped them against a wall while she continued with her renovations.

Then one day, John took his wife and father on a "Magical Mystery Tour". At least, that's what he called it when they set out in that morning. Eventually, the trio ended up in the small town where Brad lived. John had no idea that Brad no longer lived there, that the property had been sold. After a beer or two in the local, historic, and quaint Armstrong Hotel, the three got back into the car and drove down the street to check on Brad. They stopped; John got out of the car to enquire at the house as to Brad's whereabouts. When he looked in, and realized that everything was being redecorated, he asked if he might use the washroom. Lisa graciously allowed him. John went in to the washroom, looked at the wall and realized that the panels were no longer in their usual place. As he turned to leave the washroom, he was met by Lisa, who was holding the two panels.

"You're looking for these, aren't you?", she asked.

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(The birth announcement; yes, that's John)

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(A detail of one of the cards. Most Canadians will recognize the family name, Berton. Yes, that's Pierre Berton. He and John's father worked for the same newspaper chain at one time.)

After Lisa had completely shocked John, he came back out to the car and told his wife and father to come inside. After introductions had been made, further conversation followed (accompanied by a few beers). Before long, it was determined that, though John had never met Lisa, he had met, and worked with, her partner, Murray. It turned out that he was at an anniversary party (where Lisa had been about to go to when we showed up) just a few houses away. She went to get him and Murray and John got to meet each other again after quite a number of years.

Needless to say, they realized that the entire day had been planned for them,and not by them. The Magical Mystery Tour became just that.... magical.

The End

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Love Being Inspired

In spite of some turmoil around our living conditions, in the world of yarn, things are moving right along. A while back.... ummm.... about a year ago, when I was working on John's Birthday scarf... I had an idea for a woman's seamen's style scarf. The lace stitch had been drafted and the preliminaries were written down, but I had one small problem. The yarn. It had to complement the pattern.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, some new yarn arrived at the store. I oooh'd and ahhhh'd over it, fondled it, caressed it, then put it back. I simply could not justify it's purchase. Then, this week, something clicked.

Going through some files on my computer, I came across the chart I had drafted. And I remembered the yarn I'd been so shamelessly fondling. It came home with me.

The result is what I think will be a perfect fit!

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The yarn is Alchemy Yarns Haiku, in colour #59c Rain Forest. The stitch pattern (from one of Barbara Walker's treasuries) is the Split Leaf pattern. Now, you tell me, does that pairing not sound like it was meant to be?

I'm loving this yarn, even though it has a bit of that "silk smell". You know what I mean. It is, however, such a treat to work with, so soft, so sensuous, the colour soooo rich!

On Tuesday, I also received a lovely gift from someone who's becoming a dear friend. Margie will be opening a handknit/handspun gift shop out of her home shortly and has asked if I'd be willing to knit items for said shop. (I said "of course".) She stopped in at the store to drop off some yarn for me to use in my "store knitting", a lovely undyed handspun (her handspun). She also put a skein of yarn in the bag just for me. In her words, I'm to knit something special for myself. She even had a suggestion, one I'd already been considering.

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The yarn is 100% alpaca, 200 grams of it. The shawl pattern is from Knitter's Summer 2007. I've swatched for it already and I can tell you right now that that yarn is a dream to work with! When done, it will be one very special shawl. Margie? Thank you again!!

That's it for today. We're off to pick some strawberries so that John can make strawberry jam later today. Me, I rarely eat the stuff. That's why HE's making it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So what are YOU working on?

Hmmm... where to start. There's so much I could tell you, show you, talk about, but really, I don't know where to start. So I suppose I'll just show you these. They're Cat Bordhi's Baby Life Ring socks (pattern available on her website: click here). They're knitted from the toe up, with a gusset and flap heel (and no stitches to pick up or graft!).

I seem to be on an experiment kick right now, just trying out some of Cat's techniques. Pictures of the cable sock (see previous post) will not be posted today as I frogged that one and am re-doing it in a different colour of yarn - with changes.

In other things, life just keeps moving along. It seems to be a lot of same old, same old. Maybe it's time to do something that will shake things up a bit; what, I don't know yet. My time at the yarn store is quickly coming to something of a close. By July, I'll be full time at the print shop (which is still fun, by the way) and the yarn store job will be reduced to the occasional Saturday and perhaps some evening summer classes. Who knows after that? I do have some ideas, but for now, I'll keep them to myself.

There's so much I could write about, but right now, I just want to get outside. The sun is shining, it's warm, it's beautiful and I have every intention of enjoying it while there's no one home upstairs (one of lifes little peeves right now... that's another story).

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Another experiment

I love Cat Bordhi. I love how her mind works; I wish mine worked like hers does. Every now and then I pick up one of her books and I'm amazed all over again at her innovative thinking and analytical way of looking at things.

This week, I picked up, once again, "Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles". I must admit that, though I've owned the book for a few years, I've never knitted anything out of it. After having knit a pair of toe-up socks from Interweave Knits (Ann Budd, designer), I decided to look at Cat's book again. This time, I'm trying one of her patterns. Toe up. One sock at a time, thank you.

I've chosen to follow her pattern for the Cable-top (though I'm not sure if I really want to work the cable top). It's a toe-up pattern that introduces Cat's "Turned Toe". It also uses a provisional cast on. That's another story. More on that later.

I've just finished the toe box of this sock and I'm really impressed. I mean, I'm impressed with how she did it. It works. It's neat. My work could use a little finesse, but, as it's the first time doing it, it's acceptable. Now, it's on to the rest of the sock.

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The provisional cast on... In the pattern, she uses the provisional cast on with a contrast yarn of the same weight. As an aside, I have Montse Stanley's book, borrowed from the library, and sat down with it this morning to learn the right way of doing this cast on. I must be honest: I don't like working it on waste yarn. I find it far too 'floppy' and hard to pick up the stitches. Anyway, having said that, I sat there with waste yarn, working yarn, a pair of straight needles, Cat Bordhi's book and Montse Stanley's book all spread out around me. And I started thinking.

Cat's patterns call for two circulars. Circular needles are flexible... like yarn. The provisional cast on puts stitches on your working needle and on the waste yarn (which really just sits there holding the stitches, right?). So, if the waste yarn is just holding the stitches, why couldn't the second circular needle hold those stitches instead? I tried it. It worked! The flexible cable nicely held all my provisional stitches; I went ahead with the first part of the toe on one needle, as per Cat's directions, then dropped that needle, went to the second needle and continued the pattern as written. And no waste yarn to fiddle with!

Gotta love it!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

...and the pics

The Magic Loop kid's socks. I want to know how many socks of this size (2-4 years old) I can get out of one 100 gram ball.

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The yarn is Online Supersocke 100 Tropic-color #929. I'm knitting the socks on a 2.50 (US 1) 40" circular needle. Thanks, Brenda, for letting me know your favourite needle length (32"). I tried the 32" this morning as well as the 40". I think I prefer the 40", but that's still up for experimentation.

And now, just because the day turned out to be quite nice, here are a couple of pics taken around the yard (within the last half hour).

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The cherry tree is right outside my computer room window. Those cherries are almost ripe; they're not the deep purple Bing cherries. They are a pale coloured cherry and they're going to be good; I've already had a couple.

And now, back to knitting.

A No-pic Post

I have a couple of pictures on the camera; I was going to take a picture of a project in progress. The camera, however, chose not to co-operate; the batteries died this morning. They're now in the charger, so pictures will have to wait till this afternoon.

The toe-up socks are finished. They turned out pretty well, I think. Still, though, I'm not really happy with the short row heel. One sock feels good on; the second sock feels a little tight around the top of the ankle for some reason. I haven't figured that one out yet, as I made them both the same way. Strange. As well, I find that they just don't stay up as well as the heel flap and gusset socks I usually make.

Still on socks, I think I may have been wooed over by the Magic Loop method of sock knitting. I did the majority of the toe-up socks on a 2.0 mm circular needle, using ML; I switched to 2.25 mm dpns for the leg, for the sake of fit. The socks I'm working on at the moment (pictures later) are being done completely using an Addi Turbo circular. I'm finding that the 407" Addi Lace circular is almost too long, while the 24" Addi Turbo is almost too short.

For those of you who knit your socks using the Magic Loop method, what's your favourite length of needle?

A couple of comments on some of the comments...

Louisa asked about a pattern for the can cozies. The pattern is from the Knitting Pattern A Day 2007 calendar, June 7. It's possible that it's also available as a freebie somewhere on line, but I haven't found it yet. If you do, let me know.

Louisa also welcomed me to the "dark side", the world of spinners. Thanks Louisa! I should let you know though, that one afternoon of spinning really doesn't qualify me as a spinner yet. At least, I don't think it does. I have no wheel, no spindle, no fiber with which to practice. And, right now, not much time either. As well, with all the yarn I have in my garage, it will be a long time before I need more yarn to knit up. So, as much as I appreciate the welcome to the "dark side", I've only just let one toe into "the dark". *grin*

Now, it's time for me to get some warm clothes on (it's gray and slightly soggy here today) and to get ready for my trudge to work (I may even wear a hat since I don't have an umbrella).

Today is crochet class day. I'm enjoying this class; it isn't all crochet. I have two women knitting socks, and two ladies crocheting. One of the sock knitters is also challenging herself by learning a stitch per week from some of the available stitch dictionaries and is in the class more for hand holding (in case she runs into problems) than anything else.

Till later, when I'll post some pictures... enjoy your day!

Friday, June 08, 2007

An FO is an FO, no matter the size

A finished item is a finished item, right? Well, I finished TWO items yesterday! And started them yesterday! Gotta love small projects.

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These are can cozies, from 2007 Knitting Pattern a Day calendar (June 7), worked in Zitron's Loft on 6.0 mm needles (US 10). They work up very quickly, obviously. I felted them before getting dinner started and by this morning they were dry. I managed to make two cozies out of one ball of yarn; I still have one more ball in the same colourway, so I may just make another two of these.

In other knitting news, I'm working on a number of projects (big surprise!), trying to finish things rather than starting new ones. I'll post more about these projects another time, but for now, some of the projects close at hand are:

1. Sirdar crochet shawl that is supposed to be a store sample (started in January)
2. Two cardigans for me.... 2-way lace and a lacy Sirdar cardi that I haven't written about yet
3. Socks for John (one's done, second is up to the heel flap)
4. Toe-up socks for me (one's done, second is up to the heel)

Those are the active projects. Now, though, it's time to get dressed and get ready for work... and maybe knit a few stitches before it's time to head out the door.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quick note about an update

The recipe page has been updated. Ok, I added one recipe. Gail, the Lasagna recipe has been posted on the recipe page. Enjoy!

Monday, June 04, 2007

FO and More

I have a finished object, one I haven't even blogged about yet.

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This is the Syncopated Cap from IK Summer 07, designed by Kate Gilbert. What a fun knit! The details? I used one skein of Louet Gems Pearl, colour #1022, Ginger and one skein of Koigu in colour #P511266, on 3.0 mm needles. I used the two-handed fair-isle technique that I learned from a video put out by Philosopher's Wool (borrowed from the library and probably overdue by now).

Here's a picture of the hat on me, after blocking...

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I think it will go quite nicely with my suede coat. And, just because I'm so proud of it, here's a picture of the wrong side of the work...

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I can see doing more of these hats. The possibilities for colour combinations are endless! Can you imagine it with a self-patterning sock yarn and a contrasting yarn? How much fun!!

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering about this new opportunity that's come up for me. I didn't want to give out too many details until it was a done deal. Today, it became official. I will be working at a print shop. For the month of June, because of obligations at the yarn shop, I'll be working three days a week, but starting in July, I'll be at the print shop full time. In my other life (before the separation and divorce), I worked in a print shop in Abbotsford, so this is going back to something I've done before. I very much enjoy the work and I get to see projects through from start to finish.

I will be keeping my hand in at the yarn shop as well, working the occasional Saturday. It will be a way to keep the inspiration going; that's important! So, now you know... I will be keeping up the blog and, more importantly, the knitting. I am, after all, a knitting fanatic, right?

On a completely different subject, I have a couple of pictures to share with you, taken when I made a trip home a few weeks ago, but haven't shared yet. I'd like you to meet two of my grandchildren, Oceanna and Teagan.

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Oceanna is my younger daughter's daughter and she was born on John's birthday almost two years ago. She wasn't too sure of me, but that's understandable; I don't get to see her as often as I should. Her little brother, Teagan, was born this past December. Remember the story? He couldn't wait to get into the world.
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Sharing the limelight with Teagan is Trinity, my oldest granddaughter, Teagan's cousin.
Next time, I'll share another, very special, picture with you. Now, I have to go watch the rest of the hockey game (Go Senators!) and have some dinner.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A First!

So many of the knitting blogs I read are written by knitters who also dye and/or spin their own yarn. Spinning is something I've wanted to try for a long time, but every time the opportunity came up, something else would rear it's head as well (like having to move).

Not this time!

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That's me, in the foreground. Spinning!

Three of us, Sue, who teaches knitting classes at the store, Wendy, who takes knitting classes at the store, and myself, drove out to beautiful Summerland (about 45 minutes away) for a day of learning to spin. For those of you who do spin, I won't make you envious of Wendy, who's brother has alpacas and a ton of spinning equipment he doesn't know how to use. Both Margie and Gail (who patiently taught us the basics) were drooling and were quite willing to swap their brothers for Wendy's.

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We had a fun day, I have to say. Gail was a wonderful hostess and their llamas and alpaca are absolutely charming. It was nice to sit on the patio, feel the wool slipping through our fingers, sense the day warming as it went along, and to watch the animals from where we sat. And Margie was infinitely patient with the three of us and the various "issues" that came up with the spinning wheels.

And I came home with this...

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I had all kinds of intentions of taking a ton of pictures. I, however, with characteristic head in the clouds, forgot the camera. Thankfully, Margie had hers.

We left Summerland with the admonition to practice, practice, practice. For me, I'm afraid that will be more difficult than it sounds. I don't have a wheel, for one thing, but that can be fairly easily remedied. For another, I have a feeling that my knitting time and future spinning time will be seriously curtailed over the next while.

Here's where I make an announcement.

This morning, I'm heading off to a new job. I'll be putting in a couple of days to see how "the fit" is, whether or not they think I can do the job, whether or not I think I could handle the job. If it all works out, I'll have a full time job. And it's not knitting-related in any way, shape or form.

I'll let you know how it goes.