Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Book Review

Before the beginning of the holidays, John and I went to the library. Now, my tendency, when we get there, is to go straight to the knitting/craft section and then to the cookbook section. I'm usually disappointed at the books with the knitting section, but not this time.

I want this book! "Poetry In Stitches" by Solveig Hisdal is a gorgeous book! She's researched old Norwegian clothing and traditional folk art and incorporated the designs into new knitwear. The resulting pieces are truly works of art. Below are a few pictures from the book.

A christening bonnet...

Toddler's sweater and hat...

The pictures are beautiful; the colours are glorious; the knits are appealing and classic, without being 'dowdy'. I really love this book and I think it would make a great and inspiring addition to my (or anyone's) knitting library. Just going through it is inspiring. I may never make any of the sweaters, but I can definitely see using some of the motifs in other things. Truly, this is a book worthy of being a coffee book table and more!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stick A Fork In It!

Well, I'm about as close to being done as I can get without being done. The pieces for the Ropes & Picots cardigan are knitted, have been blocked and sewn together. The stitches for the neck and button bands are on the needles and three rows have been worked. That's where it's at right now.

Unfortunately, by 3:00 yesterday, I had to stop working on it. My wrists and arms were really feeling the weight of the cardigan and, after a couple of days of frantic knitting, needed a bit of a break. So what did I do?

Picked up the Scarf with No. 20 Edging from Victorian Lace Today. Apparently, I started this scarf in July and it's been sitting in my project basket since then. Of the 22 repeats required for the first edging, I had 16 completed. Yesterday, I finished the remaining 6 repeats and picked up the stitches for the center. That center is now more than half done as well.

In case you don't remember (I didn't; I had to look it up on Ravelry), the yarn is Fleece Artist Suri Blue, a wool/alpaca blend and is wonderful to work with! It's so soft! The pattern, as I said earlier, is from Victorian Lace Today. I've knit one other scarf in a similar manner and it's a fun way to do it.

First, the edging is knitted, the entire length of the scarf. Then, all but one of the stitches is cast off and stitches are picked up along the length and the center piece is worked on those stitches. After that, stitches are cast on for the second edging and it is knitted on to the center, like you would knit the border onto a circular shawl. The advantage of doing it this way is that there are no cast on/off sides to prohibit stretch; the cast on/off edges are at the short ends of the scarf and will be "hidden" with a crochet picot edge.

There's a chance I could have this done by New Year's Eve, but I have a feeling this will be the first finished object of 2010, even though the majority of the knitting will have been done in 2009. That's fine; I'm concentrating on the cardigan, which should be done today.

As for the title of this post, well.... it seems there are three things right now that are at about the same point... the cardigan, the scarf and the year. Just about time to stick a fork in it and call it done!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh, It Feels So Good!

The second sleeve is off the needles and on the floor, blocking! What a wonderful feeling it is, knowing that my final FO for 2009 will be this cardigan and not something little. There are times I feel that "little" things don't really qualify as "real" knitting. Silly, I know. Knitting is knitting.

By tomorrow, I'll be able to put it all together and work the button and neck bands, which are all knit at the same time. I'll consider the cardigan finished at that point; it will still need snaps, but I don't have them yet. It will mean a trip to the fabric store, something I really don't feel like facing yet. Maybe one day next week, I will, but nonetheless, I'll consider the project finished as long as I get the bands done.

Today, however, there will be no more knitting. Talk of knitting, certainly, but no knitting. My sister and brother-in-law, from Lethbridge (she of Capricious Cogitation*) will be visiting this afternoon. I'm looking forward to seeing them. If you read her blog at all (if not, why not??), you'll know she's a pretty decent photographer, crafter and sometime knitter. We always have plenty to talk about.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Quiet Christmas

I'm making terrific progress on the Ropes & Picots cardi this week! Because space is at a premium here in the apartment, I decided I may as well block the finished pieces. The second sleeve is over half finished now, and it will be blocked separately when it's done, but this way, I'll be able to start putting the cardigan together while waiting for the second sleeve to dry.

In this case, because the yarn is alpaca and merino, I'm not wet blocking it. I've pinned it out to measurement and laid a wet towel over it. It will take a day or so to dry, I'm thinking. I'm really getting excited now; I'll finally have a new cardigan to wear! Believe me, it's much needed.

In other things, it's a very quiet Christmas day here chez Skae. It's just John and myself; he's in the living room right now, reading a murder mystery and listening to Christmas music on cable (right now, it's Jingle Bell Rock). We'll be having a roasted chicken with dressing on the side later. If I can, I'll drag him out for a walk later, just for some air. It is, after all, a gloriously sunny, crisp day out there. It's definitely a green Christmas this year; the only snow we're seeing is on the mountain tops in the distance.

Back to my knitting now. I hope that you're all having just the kind of Christmas you want to have. Enjoy it, however you celebrate it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No Pics, But...

Just a quick, brief post to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fast I Am Not

There are knitters out there who can whip up a cardigan in a week or so. There are knitters out there who can knit a pair of socks within two days. Me? I'm not one of them. I think I can finally say that I'm a process knitter, not a production knitter. I like the knitting. To me, a project is just that... a project and a project, in my mind, implies something done over time.

The Ropes & Picots cardigan is just that. Because of having input this project into Ravelry, I know that I started it in January of this year. A few months ago, I finished the right front panel; the left front and the back were both at the same point, ready to start the armhole shaping. Well, as of this morning, the back is finished!


I could post pictures, but it is, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than a denimy blue blob at this point and where's the thrill in showing you a picture of a blue blob? I'll save that for the finished object. I'm aiming for the end of this year; I'm hoping that the Ropes & Picots cardigan will be the final finished object of 2009 (if my wrist holds up; it's been a little achy this past week). That's the goal, at any rate.

In other knitting... there has been other knitting, but again, there's really not much to take pictures of. I've been working on the christening dress; there are now 7 completed points on the second edging and the first skirt is a little longer. I've been working on the second of the Lilac mittens, but progress is slow. Other knitting has been waiting for my interest to be revived.

Instead of knitting this past week, much time has been spent baking. Yesterday, we had a Christmas lunch at work and I made some goodies for that. We also had a work girl's night out; again, I made sweets for that. That has meant lots of time in the kitchen this week. I've been trying out new recipes and hunting down recipes for things I remember from my past. Everything I tried was a hit!

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of anything I made; I do plan, however, to make some of the recipes again, and I will take pictures then, and perhaps (if you're really good!) share the recipes. Some of the sweets I made, like Bitterkoekjes (literally translates as Bitter Cookies, but they're not bitter at all) and Bokke Pootjes (Deer Legs... trust me, they taste better than they sound) are old Dutch recipes and are absolutely delicious! Both are a macaroon type cookie made with ground almonds and one of them involves chocolate.

What about you? Do you have a favourite recipe that you pull out at this time of the year? Are there recipes that you go back to year after year, that are always on your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year) table, perhaps even handed down from generation to generation? Care to share?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Love FOs

It's so nice having another finished object to add to the list of FOs for this year! This one will definitely see some use in the next little while. The weather's been pretty cold (for here!) the last week or so and it looks like it could start snowing any time.

This is the Willow Cowl, a free pattern I found on Ravelry. The yarn is Marks & Kattens Fame Trends, a lovely soft singles sock yarn (kind of like Noro sock, but a lot softer, nicer, more even), 75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide, with nice long colour changes. The pattern calls for 4.0 mm needles, knit in the round.

I love the colours in the yarn; I love the texture of the yarn. What I did not like was the tangle this yarn made; at one point, more than half the ball was on the floor, waiting to be untangled and rewound into smaller balls. Not fun!

All in all, though, I'm very happy with the finished product.

Of late, I've been looking at my pile of unfinished objects (UFOs) and have decided that I really should try to finish one or two of them... or frog them completely and use the yarn for something else. One thing that should have been finished long ago, that I really could use right now, is the Ropes & Picots cardigan, so it was resurrected from the bottom of the pile last night.

There really isn't all that much more to do on it; one of the front panels is complete, the second is up to the armhole shaping and the back is up to the armhole shaping. Then, it's just the sleeves that need to be done. Today is Sit & Stitch, so I think I'll be working on the cardi this afternoon.

I've been consciously trying to avoid looking at patterns in the hopes that it will encourage me to finish what I've started rather than itch to start something new. Hopefully, that will work; I really could used another cardigan!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It Smells Good Here!!

I've been baking. I'm having fun! Have I mentioned how much I love baking? I find it soothing, comfortable. And it makes the apartment, if not the entire floor, smell good.

We now have two kinds of cookies to choose from, both from Dutch recipes. The first cookies, in the tin, are called Bitterkoekjes (bitter cookies). They're, basically, a macaroon-type cookie made with ground almonds. When I explained them to John, he was a little skeptical, but after he tasted them, they got a seal of approval.

The second cookies are from a Dutch cookbook my mother passed on to me. Translated, they're called Cinnamon Crunchies. They're not really all that crunchy (I probably rolled the dough too thick... oh well), but they do taste good. They're not overly sweet and there's a lot of good stuff in them, including ground almonds and finely chopped dried fruit. The recipe called for finely chopped candied peel, but I can't stand that stuff, so I used the dried fruit mix instead.

Again, they got John's seal of approval. And mine. :)

There were a couple of ingredients for the cookies that I didn't have on hand, but I was pretty sure that the German delicatessen down the street would have what I needed, so I walked over there this morning. On the way home, I stopped in at the thrift store, just to look around. I don't usually find much there, but occasionally I come out with something. This time, it was a vintage knitting book that caught my interest.

I'm not sure how old this book is, but judging by the models, I'd say it's from the 1950's. There's a wide variety of items in this book (more of a magazine, really), ranging from bed jackets, cardigans for everyone in the family to egg cozies and hot water bottle covers and everything in between. Here's a sampling of some of the patterns in the book...

These "parka, scarf & glove sets" are hilarious! I found it interesting that the hats (hoods?) are called parkas; I thought a parka was a winter coat with a hood.

This was the main reason I HAD to have this book. Check out the "Ladies Panties"! Panties!!

I don't think I'll be making myself any of those; just thinking about that makes me twitchy!

What a Difference a Needle Makes

Early this week, a Knit Picks order arrived for me; in it were a couple of 2.0 mm circular needles. You might think that the last thing I need is more needles and you might be right. However, while working on the Christening dress, I found that the Addi Turbo needles I was using were just not sharp enough for the task. I needed to knit back two rows and it was becoming extremely frustrating because the points on the Addis were just too blunt. Hence the Knit Picks order (and no, I did not order yarn.. a book, yes, but yarn? nope). In this picture, you can see the difference between the points on the needles.

Changing the needles really has made a huge difference. I managed to tink back the rows I needed to tink (knit backwards) and have made progress.

That's where the milestone part of this post comes in. I've finished the lacework on the first of the two skirts. From here up, it's just knit, knit, knit!

Because this skirt has now reached the point of being (almost) TV knitting, I've cast on for the second skirt. I think I've mentioned, haven't I, that I'm making a couple of modifications? In the original there is a zigzag pattern that comes next. I've decided I really don't like the zigzag and that it really doesn't "fit" with the rest of the patterning, so I'm leaving it out. Secondly, I'll be making the dress longer than the pattern calls for. To that end, I did pick up a second skein of the Skacel Merino Lace, which I'm using for the second skirt.

I'm happy!

(There's been other knitting, but I'll leave that for another post.)