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.