Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

With the first repeat of the Bison Tracks lace finished, I thought I'd better thread a lifeline through my Heartland Lace Shawl in case I need to rip back later. Although - knock on wood - the knitting has gone very smoothly so far. This is definitely easier than the Swallowtail Shawl I knit last year, and without Nupps, it knits up much more quickly. Here's hoping that I have enough yarn for quite a large shawl.

With our open house planned for tomorrow, today will be a busy one. Lots of shopping, cleaning and food prep to be done. Gavin and I don't really celebrate New Year's Eve; maybe because I'm not much for staying up late? For the last several years we've celebrated New Year's Day instead. Friends, neighbours and family drop in and stay as long as they like - lots of food, drink and conversation. Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

pondering resolutions

Now that I've turned the heel on my second Tart Lime sock, I know there's just a few days more to finish it. Which means I can start thinking about my next project just in time for the New Year ... a good time to think about my knitting resolutions for the coming year. My first resolution? To choose projects to knit the yarn I already have.

With that in mind, I've cast on a Heartland Lace shawl. Many years ago I bought some dk weight cotton/nylon blend yarn because I loved the colours. And ever since I've been at a loss as to what to knit from it; that is, until a fellow Raveler messaged me to ask if I could spare some so that she could finish her shawl. Absolutely. And after looking at her project pages, a lace shawl seemed an ideal use for this yarn. Last summer I knit a swallowtail shawl - one of the most interesting and challenging knits I'd ever attempted. Another challenge seems like a good way to start a new year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I'm one of those annoying people who is bright-eyed and bushy tailed as soon as I wake. A riser and shiner. A morning person, through and through. All of which is in sharp contrast to Gavin, who mumbles and stumbles through mornings until several cups of coffee later. So it was a big surprise this morning when, within seconds of waking up, he pulled a birthday card out from his bedside table and a present from somewhere nearby. Now that's thinking ahead and shows an alertness in the early morning hours that I hadn't expected.

My birthday gift? This knitting bag for hauling around my knitting projects. Much nicer than my usual ziploc bags, huh? Tidily tucked inside are the six pattern pages for Tart Lime Socks, the first finished sock and the second sock still on needles, as well as all my knitting bits and bobs ... stitch markers, measuring tape, stitch holders, craft scissors, crochet hooks, and so on. The actual gift wasn't a surprise; I'd emailed him a link to the etsy shop weeks ago! But I'm feeling pretty lucky and spoiled all the same.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

relaxing at home

With wind, mild temperatures and steady rain, it's been a very green Christmas. That's good for Gavin who spent a couple hours surfing on Lake Ontario this aft. And good for me; I spent the late afternoon curled up with my knitting in front of the first few episodes of season one of The Tudors. I turned the heel of my sock as William Courtenay fell to the swords of assassins in Urbino. And picked up my gusset stitches as Lady-In-Waiting Elizabeth Blount finds herself pregnant with Henry VIII's child. By the time the child was born and Henry VIII acknowledged him, I was well into the final chart for the top of the foot. Now the first sock is done. Despite my early setbacks, that really took no time at all!

It's been a very relaxing couple of days. Thanks to Roxanne McQuilkin's book "Canadian Bread Machine Baking" I've sorted out where I was going wrong with my new bread machine. Without a preheat cycle, I have to remember to use hot water. Mmmm ... is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked bread?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

fresh socks

Not much to see yet, but it's the start of a Tart Lime Sock in Trail Sock yarn by Fleece Artist. After knitting so many socks by designer Cookie A., I thought I'd better branch out a bit and try some offerings from different designers. And this pattern from Mimknits has been in my queue for months! Although, had I known how much cabling was involved, and how many different charts, I may have reconsidered. I've started and ripped out twice already - first, when I lost track of where I was in Chart 2, and the second time, when I dropped a stitch towards the end of Chart 2. It's frustrating, but worth taking the time to do it right. Thank goodness I'm not on a deadline!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a successful sweater

Bella's mitts are done - how fabulous are they? I'm thrilled with how they turned out, and hope that the recipient likes them as much.

The emergency Christmas sweater is also done, just in the nick of time. As we drove Highway 6 south towards Port Dover, I raced to finish the arm and side seams. And then wrapped it and tied it with a bow at the Tim Hortons in Hagersville much to the dismay of the rest of the coffee-drinking public.

When we arrived at Nancy's cottage on the Lake Erie shore we sat on the sofa with coffee and exchanged gifts. Good news: the sweater fits and she loves it! And she was very surprised. I'm sure she knew that I'd make it for her, but I don't think it ever crossed her mind that I'd knit it from start to finish in time for Christmas. And frankly, there were moments when I wasn't sure it was going to happen either.

Now everything promised for Christmas is done. What to cast on next?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bella's mitts

With a few days left before Christmas, I decided to knit one more pair of mitts to accompany an already completed hat. After all, I have lots of wool left over, and with a bulky yarn, mittens should only take a few days. I decided on Phenomenon - modeled after mitts that Bella wears in the car accident scene of the Twilight movie. And from what I can see in this YouTube clip, they're a good facsimile.

The mitts are very long, almost up to the elbow, and the pattern features an interesting texture of crossed stitches on the inside of the hand. Initially I wasn't sure I'd like the finished mitts, but now I'm loving them. They're very comfortable and fit beautifully. The cable pattern is a very attractive detail. And the textured palm adds warmth and padding. These might be the perfect mitts for a snowball fight, and would also be good with a sweater and a down-filled vest.

The pattern instructions are very detailed and thorough - including line by line instructions as well as charts. It's definitely not mindless knitting; there's lots happening in every round and the crossed stitches can really slow you down. But if you've got the time, these mitts are worth the effort.

Friday, December 18, 2009

done, done and almost

Yes, the red mittens are done. Very comfortable and warm - perfect for scraping the ice off the windshield on these frosty Canadian mornings. Might have to make another pair for me, because immediately after the last end was woven in, they were wrapped and placed under the tree with someone else's name on the gift tag.

The Popsicle socks are also done. After breakfast this morning I grafted the toe of the second sock to finish the pair. It was with a pang of regret that I finished them - the pattern was really fun and easy. I'm very pleased with these, especially the bobbles. The bamboo stretch yarn knit up beautifully and the pink, orange and yellow colours make these the happiest socks ever. Hopefully the person who unwraps them Christmas morning will enjoy wearing them as much as I enjoyed making them!

The emergency sweater? Almost. The knitting's done, including the neck. Just seams and weaving in ends left. Should be ready to wrap tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

suddenly mittens

My plan was to finish the emergency sweater and the Popsicle socks, and then see if I had time to knit some mittens. But after rewinding the skein of Cascade 220 while uploading files for work I had an urge to cast on. And then I got carried away. The pattern is very simple - a ribbed cuff, mostly stockinette hand with a centre cable on the back of each hand and an afterthought thumb.

This is my first experience with Cascade 220, a workhorse yarn among Ravelers - used in over 40,000 projects so far. Why so popular? It's available in dozens of solid and heathered colours, it's well priced with generous yardage, and the stitch definition is very good. I'm happy enough with it for these mitts, but I doubt I'd buy it again. For the amount of time I spend knitting, I'd rather knit with yarn that inspires me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

emergency sweater: reloaded

A quick trip to Dundas and Ancaster on Saturday put me back on course with the emergency Christmas sweater. True to their word, the Needle Emporium had dozens of balls of the colourway and dyelot that I was after - thank goodness! Reloaded with yarn, I was able to complete the first sleeve on Sunday and make a good start on the second. It's a cap sleeve - something very common is sewn garments, but not something I've ever knit before. I've matched it up to the armholes on the front and back, and it looks like it'll all fit together fine.

And we stopped in for coffee to see my brother's new home in Dundas. It's very nice - big, bright sunlit rooms with high ceilings overlooking Spencer Creek. Must feel great for his family of two adults and two teens to be out of the two bed/one bath apartment of the last several months!

Friday, December 11, 2009

the second Popsicle sock

I'm well into the leg of my second Popsicle sock. With baby bobbles every four rounds, it's easy enough to keep track of the round numbers to match it up to the first sock. Looks like I'll be using about a quarter of the second skein - possibly leaving me enough for a pair of child's size socks. I wonder if I'm clever enough to adapt the pattern to a smaller size? We'll see about that in the new year. Ideally I'd like to finish this sock in the next day or two, leaving me clear to finish the emergency Christmas sweater. With two weeks left until Christmas, there may still be enough time after that to knit another pair of socks, and maybe a pair of mitts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

a small hurdle

The emergency Christmas sweater is chugging along - front and back now done, sleeves and finishing left to do. When I bought the yarn Saturday Nina only had six balls in stock. No problem, she assured me, she'd get more on Tuesday. And then Tuesday rolls around and there's not a single ball of this dyelot available from the distributor or on the shelves of any yarn store in Toronto. "Have I started it?" Nina asks. "Can I wait until January next year for the remaining yarn?" she wonders.

Oh, this sweater is more than started, and, no, waiting until January is not an option. Thanks to Ravelry I was able to find more in a yarn shop a few cities away - near my brother's new home. Guess we'll be visiting them this weekend! Back to the second Popsicle sock in the interim.

Monday, December 7, 2009

the emergency sweater begun

That crazy idea about making a sweater in time for Christmas seems less crazy today. On a browse through Creative Yarns on Saturday afternoon, I found a Noro colourway that I decided would be perfect. Nina suggested knitting the body of the sweater in the round - less finishing, consistent colouration from front to back and faster knit without any reverse side purl rows. All good points, but I opted to knit it on straights - shorter rows, lighter on the needles, and longer stretches between colour transitions. Besides, I don't mind finishing and I don't have any circular needles at a suitable size.

On the Noro ball band, the recommended needle size is 4.5mm to 5mm. The pattern was written for 4mm DK yarn, but I'm guessing that larger needles will improve the drape and flexibility of the knitted fabric so 5mm it is. Besides, it won't hurt my pocket book to use less yarn on larger needles. It took a bit of swatching and a bit of calculation to get the number of stitches right for the size I want. The pattern is written for an Extra Small, Small and Medium size, but I wanted something just a touch bigger. Not much bigger, because the sweater styles meant to be comfortably fitting with just a few inches of ease. Fingers crossed that the finished sweater fits.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

in a holiday mood

The Christmas tree is up and decorated - including my knitted Christmas snowballs. The lights and the decorations definitely help put me in a holiday mood. But for the cat, the lights and decorations seems to pose an irresistible challenge. I purposely left the bottom branches of the tree undecorated to keep the ornaments away from her, but she's already knocked a few down.

The icicle yarn I used for the ornaments does reflect the coloured lights around them. The effect is best at very low light - but the photos turn out blurry and grainy. You'll just have to take my word for it.

And yesterday I bought yarn for the emergency Christmas sweater. I settled on Noro in shades of red, brown and burgundy. The pattern is so simple that I thought the yarn better give it some interest and drama. Nineteen days left - I'd better get a move on!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

happy socks

In the good news department, the first Popsicle sock is done. The second should be cast on later today, maybe during the first period of the hockey. This is a very happy pattern - although it just wouldn't be the same without the little bobbles down the leg. They're the best! Just putting these socks on would make a person happy.

In the bad news department, my friend for whom the next socks were intended mentioned that she'd found a pattern for a sweater she really wants. Which makes me think that maybe I should skip the socks and knit this sweater instead. With only 20 days left before Christmas, will I have enough time to complete it? I know it's crazy to even contemplate this, but ... it is a simple pattern ... and it is a DK yarn ... and it should knit up quickly on 4mm needles ... and she's never asked me for anything before ... so I think I'm going for it. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 4, 2009

pink + yellow + orange

Popsicles, freezies and hagelslag - these are the things that come to my mind as I knit these socks. But mostly hagelslag, or "sugar candy" as we used to call it when we were kids. What is it? Sugary fruit-flavoured sprinkles used as a sandwich topping ... very traditional Dutch. My Tante Heidi regularly brought us Dutch goodies and so often brought "sugar candy" that my childhood friends knew her as the Candy Lady. Yummm!

My first Popsicle sock is going really well. I've already turned the heel and worked about half the gusset decreases. And it does seem to me that all those Ravelers who decided against working the baby bobbles - considering them too fussy or too time-consuming - have really missed out. Because the bobbles absolutely make the pattern shine! Although, I was relieved to see the bobbles stop at the ankle, replaced by purls across the top of the foot. Imagine how those bobbles would feel inside a shoe!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

ribbed handwarmers

Finished these up last night. Phew, at least that's one thing finished. And the mega-bright Popsicle socks are going well. With luck I'll turn the heel tonight and start the gusset. All of which suggests to me that they'll also be done well in time for Christmas. Why is it that as Christmas approaches nearer and nearer, more and more good ideas for knitted gifts occur to me? Wonder if I can manage a couple more pairs of socks before the big day?

As I left for work this morning, Gavin was putting up the Christmas tree and hanging the stockings ... with only a few grumbles about those new, easy to assemble, prelit trees. Seems a bit early, but we received a couple of Christmas cards in the mail yesterday. And I'm happy to have the stockings up... gives me more time to look for little things to fill them with.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

24 days

24 days left until Christmas ... and lots to do! One project is a bright pair of socks. And I really mean bright. Colours like these brighten up dreary winter days. The pattern is Popsicle by Nicole Hindes, but it's hard to make out because the yarn is so blindingly bright. It's quite simple so far - just columns of rib with some baby bobbles every 4 rounds - but the top of the foot is where it gets interesting. The Popsicle pattern "melts off the top of the foot".

The pattern has been in my queue for ages. Partly, I suspect, because of all my happy childhood memories associated with popsicles. When we were kids Mom would buy 3 orange popsicles to be split amongst all us kids - they were easily broken into halfs. Why orange? Well, it wasn't anybody's favourite, but it was universally acceptable to all the kids. These days I always have Freezies in the house - my nephew knows the orange ones are for him.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

simple ribbed handwarmers

The last ends of my first Handwarmer were sewn in this morning, and the second is well under way. I started with Shelridge Farms Merino in solid blue for my main colour, and then interspersed stripes of sock yarn leftovers - Regia Design Line, Lorna's Laces, Koigu KPPM and Fleece Artist Basic Merino. They're working out pretty well ... colourful without being overwhelming.

The overall pattern on the handwarmers is ribbing: they're flexible in terms of fit. These are medium size, but they fit my nephew (9 yrs), me and Gavin. Pretty much one size fits all, I'd say. I'm hoping to finish tomorrow, so that I can get started on socks needed for Christmas presents. Is it really December next week?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Niddy Noddy

Several years ago a friend remarked that I got more "Honey Do" projects than anyone else he knew. And tonight, I know it's true. After my drop spindle class I mentioned to Gavin that it'd be handy to have a "Niddy Noddy" and then sent him this link to show what I meant. He checked it out, jotted down some notes and off we went to Canadian Tire.

1 piece 1/2" PVC, just over 5 ft long ..... $3.39
2 Tee connectors ................................ $0.98
4 end caps ......................................... $1.40

For $5.77 plus taxes we had all the supplies we needed. After a bit of measuring and several turns of the pipe cutter, I'm now the proud owner of a Niddy Noddy.

Already I've put it good use. Over the last few days I've spun and plied about 30 yards of Corriedale. Yesterday I soaked it to set the twist. Now it's drying on my Niddy Noddy. Next time, it'll be on the Niddy Noddy straight after plying, because that's the beauty of PVC - it can go straight into the soak! Neat, huh?

handwarmers from scraps

Just the pinkie and the thumb left to do on Gavin's third glove and the finishing. With less than an hour of work left, this glove should be blocking tonight. And what a difference blocking makes! I can really see it when I compare the gloves blocked weeks ago to the work on the needles now - softer texture, smoother and more even stitches, more pliable fabric.

As well, I've started a KAL of small projects before Christmas. First is a pair of Simple Ribbed Handwarmers from the pattern by Debbie Haymark. The pattern uses sock yarn, so I thought it'd be a perfect use for some of my scraps. Between rounds of solid main colour I'm interspersing stripes of various leftovers - Regia Design Line, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Multi, Fleece Artist Merino Sock, and Noro Kureyon Sock. Depending on my work schedule, there's a chance the first handwarmer may also be done today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the third glove

Sounds a bit like a mystery novel, doesn't it? "The Third Glove". But no mystery here. Weeks ago I made Gavin a pair of gloves for winter photography with abbreviated thumb, index and middle fingers on the right hand glove. And shortly after he asked for a third glove with all the fingers like the left glove, to give him the option of wearing a pair of complete fingered gloves. No problem. That's one thing about Ravelry - it's easy to go back to a project page for exact sizing, needles, yarn and pattern. Just the fingers left to do ... the fiddly bits.

My Pomatomus socks are also done; they just need to be blocked. And then I need a sunny day for photos. Not like today - a dreary, drizzly, damp and chilly fall day. A good day for a mug of coffee and some knitting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

out for a few spins

This afternoon I spent a few hours with Heidi at the Spindle Loft, who very patiently showed me how to spin yarn with my Drop Spindle. I picked up a beautiful Forrester Spindle at the Creativ Festival a couple of years ago, along with some Corriedale roving, an instructional DVD and a reference book. Despite watching the DVD a couple times and reading the book cover to cover, I was too intimidated to try it on my own. My poor spindle lay unused in my yarn cupboard, until now.

After a few hours of drafting, spinning and plying, I'm starting to get it. Don't get me wrong - it's going to take lots of practice to do it well. Yards and yards and hours and hours of trial and error are ahead of me, until my fingers know just how far to attenuate the fiber and just how much twist is right. But the "Park and Draft" method of drop spindle spinning is perfect for a beginner like me. I can take my time and give my full attention to drafting the fiber properly and evenly.

Even better, Heidi spent a fair bit of time showing me how to fix things. Like how to unwind slubs, redraft and respin them. Like how to fix breaks where the fiber is drafted too thinly. Like how to release some twist where the yarn corkscrews. Lessons I'm going to put to good use, I'm sure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

nice socks

When I asked Gavin to help me with this photo I thought it'd be nice to see the two socks together. A picture, I thought, to show that the gusset of my second Pomatomus sock is done. And to visually demonstrate all the progress on the foot. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, isn't it?

But Gavin doesn't think that the picture communicates much about knitting. Instead, he thinks that everyone is likely to be distracted by what he calls the "massive gap between my toes". Really.

I know there's a big gap - it's handy for flip-flops. I know my feet are too long to fit conventional shoe sizes and too narrow to be practical for balance. And I know my arches are too high for most boots. But I like my feet anyway. And don't the socks look nice?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

everything but knitting

There's been lots going on, but not much knitting.

Work's been crazy busy - a clear sign that Christmas is near; all the clients want their promos in time to lure you. Better now than last minute, though. But the frantic pace leaves me no time to knit.

We hosted my nephew for his very first sleepover. Which brought Gavin and me back to the world of kids... Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for dinner, Madagascar II on DVD as the evening's entertainment and Lion King as a bedtime story. Again, not much knitting.

So you'll understand that I've only made it halfway through the gusset on the second Pomatomus sock. And nowhere at all on the rest of my projects. Only two days 'til the weekend!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

changing priorities

As you can see, I'm well on my way with the heel flap of the second Pomatomus sock. Given the problems I had following the pattern on the first sock, it's best that I take my time now. Let's see if I can do this one right the first time.

But taking my time with the second sock is not sitting well with some. Particularly with someone waiting for a third glove. At the end of September I knit a pair of gloves for Gavin - one glove with all the fingers, and one with two fingers and the thumb exposed for manipulating his camera. But now he wants a third with all the fingers so that he can wear them as a pair of normal gloves. And, from what I can tell, he wants it in a hurry.

The yarn for that glove has made its way downstairs now, and sits waiting for me to cast on. Guess I'd better get to that soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

one down

That's one project done. Well, at least the icicle novelty yarn is finished. With less than a yard left after I finished the fifth one, that's that. The ornaments look great, and in only a couple of weeks I can put them up on the tree. I can't wait to see how the lights reflect on the sparkly bits in the yarn. And hopefully the yarn will cushion the glass ornaments inside, should the cat decide to climb the tree and knock them down.

Next? Progress continues on my second Pomatomus sock. Time permitting, I'll finish the leg and the heel tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

back to my needles

Another several hectic days have gone by, but now I'm finally back to my knitting. The first Pomatomus sock is done - and badly in need of blocking. I'll cast on the second sock today. As I knit the leg of this sock I was thinking unkind thoughts about all the knitting through the back loops. Now, as I survey the finished sock, I'm mentally apologizing for my earlier complaints. By knitting through the back loops the stitches are twisted and look more prominent, which makes the pattern very striking. Well worth the effort!

Over the next few days I need to finish the things I've started. My tree frog needs front toes. Gavin wants a third glove so that he can choose between exposed fingers for photography or covered fingers for warmth. Then Christmas knitting ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


In 1945 Canadian forces marched through the Netherlands liberating towns and villages. My Mom recalled those days clearly - particularly the chocolate and cigarettes handed out by the handsome young Canadian soldiers. My family owes a debt of gratitude to them, so today I'm making a special point of reflecting on and remembering the service and sacrifice of our armed forces personnel, our veterans and their families.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

winning streak

Having re-knit the leg, the heel and the gusset - correctly this time - I feel like I'm on a bit of a winning streak. And the nice thing is, now that I'm almost at the point where I ripped back last time, I'm almost at an end of curly, splitty once-frogged yarn. What a relief! The pattern is spectacular, the colours in this yarn are glorious, and I'm happy, happy, happy that I took the time to redo this correctly. Barring any new disasters the first sock should be done in the first day or two.

The Leafs are also on a winning streak, beating Detroit last night for their second win of the season. Only last week we wondered whether they'd go "0 for November". Thank goodness. At least now they're playing more entertaining hockey!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pomatomus Redux

Now that's a happier picture! My restart of the Pomatomus sock is well underway. And I've given a lot of thought to where I went wrong the first time. Here's what I think: the pattern is so simple and intuitive that after a few rounds I went into autopilot. Then, after working the heel, I just blundered ahead without paying attention to the differences in the charted pattern for the top of the foot.


Only time will tell if I've learned my lesson. Hard to say, because re-knitting this sock hasn't been very onerous. It's a really enjoyable knit - just challenging enough to make it interesting. And the result is really spectacular. No wonder it's been knit by 3060 Ravelers and is in the queues of 3600 more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

socks and more socks

Sad, huh? That's my Pomatomus sock. I ripped the whole thing out and started again. Which puts me back at the ribbed cuff. Progress is likely to be slow - this poor frogged yarn is very splitty and curly, meaning I have to take my time and mind my stitches. I know it'll all be worth it; I knit enough of the sock last week to see how beautiful the pattern is.

Thanks to Beth LaPensée, my queue grew another project. I fell in love with her Thomasina Sock pattern months ago when I saw it in the parade of new patterns in Ravelry. But the pattern wasn't available yet and as time passed I'd almost forgotten it. Yesterday Beth pm'ed me - the pattern is now available, and it's a free download 'til November 14th! An early Christmas present! Now that I'm caught up at work, I should have more knitting time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

days like today

With all those traveling stitches, K2togtbls and yos, ripping back and then picking up all the right stitches again proved frustrating. So I've given up, ripped out completely and am set to start again at the beginning. It's a shame, but the yarn and pattern are so pretty that I really want to do this right. So far the Lorna's Laces sock yarn is living up to all its hype - it really is "the cadillac of sock yarns". Hmmm. That account I have at The Loopy Ewe might prove dangerous indeed!

Today would have been my Mom's birthday. Which makes me sad because I miss her so much. On days like today I like to look through the photos I have of her and remember all the fun things we did together. Last year we were at a bookstore shopping for birthday and Christmas presents when a terrific storm developed. Storms and lightning made Mom nervous, so we treated ourselves books to read while sipping hot chocolate at the in-store Starbucks. Neither one of us required much convincing - we're a family of avid readers. It turned out to be a very pleasant way to wait out the storm, and one of many very happy memories.

Thank goodness for happy memories, because days like today would be impossible without them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

elven accessory patterns

These Arwen patterns and ads are among the projects that have been keeping me so busy for the last couple of weeks. I test knit the slippers for Tabitha several weeks ago, and have been helping her out with the design and format of her PDF patterns. The slipper sock pattern has been well received, prompting Tabitha to design, test knit and publish multi-size patterns for a series of accessories - slipper socks, cowl, cloche hat and fingerless gloves. Thinking that they may be popular knits for gifts, we've been racing to get them out promptly; in time for Christmas knitting.

Monday morning finds me caught up on a few fronts. And I'll have some much needed knitting time on the train to work. Oh yeah, work. Can't wait to see how far behind things are there.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

meanwhile in Cambodia

Here in Toronto, I haven't been knitting at all. Not one stitch. My poor Pomatomus sock is calling out "Knit me, knit me". Coming back from vacation finds me so far behind on my work projects, that I have no choice but to keep my head down and plug away. And it doesn't help at all to know that I've brought this all on myself. Biting off more than I can chew, as usual.

Meanwhile in Cambodia another Canadian woman has started something really ambitious - Cambodia Knits, a knitting co-op of sorts. Monika is training 33 members of the Toul Sambo community to knit. Yarn and patterns are provided to knit toys for sale. With training, supplies and a market for the finished goods provided, the co-op provides accessible, flexible employment. Phew, that's quite an undertaking!

That's not all. As the program develops and expands, Monika hopes to create self-sustaining "knit centres". And then plans to reinvest the profits within the community - building schools, providing scholarships, and investing in development projects. I've sponsored these two knitters shown and I have my fingers firmly crossed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

an end to pub lunches

Thursday was a bright, sunny day with mild temperatures. A perfect day to spend wandering in and out of the shops in downtown Fredericton. And a perfect day for a lazy pub lunch at the Lunar Rogue. That really makes you feel like you're on vacation - idly sipping a pint while business people grab hurried lunches all around.

No trip to Fredericton would be complete without a visit to Briggs & Little. I'd planned to buy SoftSpun, but was waylaid by these darker Heritage colourways - midnight blue and brown heather. On the drive home I knit a hat based on B&L's free pattern, All Dressed Up by Ann Marie Cunard.

Now that I'm home the frazzled business person is likely to be me. Time to buckle down - work has been piling up for the last week.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

sock delays

Early Tuesday morning we set out for Nova Scotia looking for some good surf. And were sadly disappointed. It seems I'm "wave repellent". Reports are that the surf was great Sunday and Monday, until it died Tuesday when we arrived. Hmmm, isn't this exactly what happened last year? So we bailed and spent the afternoon and evening in Halifax. It was cold, almost everything was closed for the season, but at least the hotel was nice. And they did a very nice complementary breakfast as well.

On the drive to and from Lawrencetown and points in between I knit another cabled hat. Couldn't help but feel that my styrofoam head was looking a bit cold. And these big bamboo needles are far less likely to slide out of my knitting to fall to some unreachable spot below my seat in the car. Besides, there's been a little mishap on my Pomatomus socks - I've realized that I completely messed up the chart for the top of the foot and had to rip back almost to the gusset. Hmmmm. Might be wise to put that project aside for a day or two!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just for Laughs

At the Fredericton Flea Market I picked up a styrofoam head for a buck. I figure it'll make posing hats a lot easier. The vendor offered me a second styrofoam head for free, but I declined. What possible use would I have for a second head? My brother bought some really good used books - various titles from Sandford, Robinson and Grafton. And we all munched on some really good fudge.

Later we drove out to Saint John for the Just for Laughs comedy festival, headlining Danny Bhoy. Hilarious! Especially the bit comparing beer drinkers to wine drinkers! Add in dinner at a fancy Indian restaurant and you can see why not much knitting was done. Finished the heel turn and worked the gusset, but still on the first sock.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

15 hour drive

The first few hours of the drive were in complete darkness, so there was no possibility of knitting then. And the last couple hours were also in darkness, so same problem. But that still left almost 10 hours to knit. What to knit? Well, I've had Pomatomus socks in my queue for months. And I have these two skeins of Lorna's Laces handpainted sock yarn. Seemed like a plan. And let me tell you, the pictures do not do this pattern justice. It's fantastic! And so is the yarn. I knit most of the leg of the first sock and was just about to start the heel flap, but it was time to put my knitting aside. Because when driving in New Brunswick, it's a good idea to keep a sharp eye out to see if any moose or deer plan to bolt in front of your car ... something my brother learned the hard way.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

never can tell

For months after buying this Gedifra yarn I'd been regretting the purchase. Not very practical I thought. It might end up sitting in my stash for years. But after hat wars I got to thinking about knitting more hats. And I'm very glad I started with this one. Because as much as the yarn wasn't doing much for me when it sat in balls, I fell in love with it as I knit. It's wonderful to knit and gives a very pleasing result. Too bad I didn't buy more.

But now it's bedtime. Especially considering the alarm's set for 4am. We're getting up before dawn to get an early start. If we get on the road promptly we can get to NB before bedtime tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

hectic days

Things have been hectic for the last several days. With several large work projects on the go, and getting ready for a vacation starting Friday, I haven't had much time to knit, or blog, or even sleep. Although, I have knit most of a simple cabled hat between tasks. But finally the to-do list is getting smaller. There's a light at the end of the tunnel - thank goodness!

In the early hours of Friday morning we're packing up the car and heading to New Brunswick to visit my brother. With a fifteen hour drive ahead of us, I need to pack some car knitting projects. A lacy shawl might be a bit too ambitious, but maybe a couple of sock projects would fit the bill.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a frog, almost

So that's him, almost ... just a bit of work left on his front legs. I still have to graft to create his elbow joints and a couple of toes on each front limb. And then he's done. I'm really, really happy with how he turned out. The short row shaping of the arm and leg muscles is oddly effective. He's a bit smaller than I expected - about 10" long from hind toes to snout - but still a good size. If ... when I do another, I'll have to remember to moderate the amount of stuffing in the hind legs and bulk up on the stuffing in his body. I've got lots of this Patons Look At Me yarn left so there may be another couple of frogs on the needles in the next few weeks.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

a busy Saturday

The Leafs sank to new depths last night losing to the NY Rangers to bring their record to 0-7 for the season. Even if the Leaf forwards weren't productive through the game, I was; I finished my Easy Eyelet socks and knit two more snowball Christmas decorations. The socks look cute and comfortable - I'm quite happy with them. And I'm still infatuated with the Christmas decorations. Every scrap of novelty yarn in the house may be knitted into decorations in the coming weeks!

But it was a busy day yesterday. Up before dawn to head out to work for a few hours. Then up to my sister's to catch up with my nephew, so that his parents could spend some time at the hospital with a sick friend. And then off to the dealership to pick up MY NEW CAR!!! Even as I think it, I can hear the announcer describing the Showcase prizes on the Price Is Right exclaim "... A NEW CAR!!!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

a box of eyes

They're here - a whole bunch of safety eyes! Figuring that shipping was going to cost me more than the eyes themselves, I thought I may as well order a whole box of them. Maybe I'll make several more frogs! I have lots more of this Patons Look at Me sport yarn. Or maybe I'll try other Amigurumi. If this frog is anything to go by, they're very fun to knit.

Gavin remarks that eyes look more like Teddy Bear eyes than Frog eyes. And he's right, because THEY ARE Teddy Bear eyes. But I am undeterred. Check out Aerulan's photo. I'm hoping they'll turn out like that. Today I'm going to finish my second sock. So that tomorrow I can turn my full attention to the frog.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

second sock

Knitting my second Easy Eyelet sock seemed like a good way to pass the time while I wait for my Frog eyes to arrive. The temptation to start new projects has been particularly strong over the last couple of weeks, so I need to buckle down and finish things first. As I knit this second sock I'm reminded how quick and mindless the pattern is. Perfect for knitting in the car, on the train, at work and in front of the TV. Last night I turned the heel through the Tudors. Poor Jane Seymour - we all know that her pregnancy won't end well! As I knit I've resolved that the next few projects will be more challenging. Maybe it's time for another lace shawl! I've been looking at Heartland Lace Shawl from Evelyn Clark, and I think I have some suitable yarn in my stash.

Monday, October 12, 2009

mixing up the holidays

Here in Canada we're celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. Our holiday is a few weeks earlier than in the U.S., but so is our harvest. Makes sense, right? It was nice to have dinner with my sister and family, complete with a Turkey and all the trimmings. And a three day weekend also doesn't come amiss.

But when the craft store informed me that they no longer carried the safety eyes I need to finish my frog, that bit of bad news put a wrench in my knitting plans. So I've ordered them online, but it may be a few weeks before they arrive. In the meantime I'm getting a head start on my Christmas knitting. At first, for the pattern Deck the Balls, I planned to use sock yarn leftovers. Until I came across a ball of icicle yarn in the yarn from my Mom, which got me thinking ... snowball ornaments!