Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TV knitting

Another day, a little more progress on this Gull Lace Baby Blanket - a simple and effective pattern, that I'm finding quite pleasant as TV knitting. Gavin made this antenna and put it up in the attic - now we can tune into a number of local stations, including some HD digital broadcasts, for free. You need a new-ish TV with a built in digital tuner to work, and it helps if you live on the Lakeshore. Reception improves as the weather improves, so our channel line up may expand, but for now we get a pretty good list of channels.

Both CTV and Global - our two favourite channels - come in as crystal clear digital broadcasts. And a number of other channels like CITY Toronto, TVO Toronto, Omni One and Two, French CBC Toronto and a couple of religious programming channels also come in clearly. The fuzzy channels include CBC Toronto, CHEX Peterborough, CHCH Hamilton, SunTV Hamilton, PBS Buffalo, and a few others. But even with hundreds of channels by satellite, there was tons of duplication and little worth watching. Sorry ExpressVu, no more money from me!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

it's a small world after all

With a four hour drive to Ottawa in the early hours of Saturday morning, and another four hours to come home to Toronto on Sunday, another baby blanket seemed like an ideal project. The pattern is based on the gull lace stitch used in EZ's February Sweater - a very simple row lace pattern. I'm using Patons Classic Wool in Russet. As the blanket progresses my reservations about the colour are dissipating; increasingly I think it will be quite flattering for a newborn or infant.

While in Ottawa my sister-in-law and I met up with Suzanne to purchase some of the magazine and knitting books that she was clearing out. Through Ravelry I discovered that she was selling an old issue of Knitter's Magazine that I'd been looking for. And after talking for a short while, we discovered that we both knit for The Warm Hands Network. In fact, last year Suzanne assembled donated squares into a blanket, including two of my squares! And, when talked turned to Amy and Anita - the forces behind the Warm Hands Network - my sister-in-law realized that she knows Amy through her Natural Foods Co-op. Despite all those hours of driving, it really is a small world.

Friday, March 26, 2010

a pretty sock photo

This morning's happy news is that my first Esther sock is finished. Without hesitation I'd say this is the prettiest sock I've ever knit. This pattern is "a show off knit" one Raveler remarked, and I couldn't agree more. There's very little stretch to the lace pattern making up most of this sock; hopefully the socks will fit my sister-in-law snugly. I'll cast on the second on my train ride to work this morning.

Today's photo was taken with my new camera. For the last several months Gavin has patiently put up with me using his point-and-shoot as if it were my own. It's worked out okay for the most part but we tend to disagree about how many pictures of knitting, yarn, flowers and plants are necessary. And we both cringe if I'm clumsy with it. A new camera of my own seemed like a good thought.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Instead of finishing my first Esther sock, I cast on a baby hat. And, instead of working on little bunny egg cosies, I continued to work on the baby hat until I finished it this morning. The hat seemed more imperative.

A few days ago I went through my piles of patterns in anticipation of my visit with my sister-in-law this weekend. There are dozens of patterns for babies and children which I've inherited from my Mom - Elizabeth may want some of them. Amongst them was a Sirdar 3149 booklet of baby hats and bonnets - Mom knit dozens of these little hats for the labour and delivery department at her local hospital. I love knowing that her handiwork is out there warming unknown little heads in the community. Made me want to knit a hat or two myself.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Esther progress

This afternoon I finished the gusset decreases on my first Esther sock and knit a little ways along the foot. With reference to this chart, I've calculated that I need to work one more pattern repeat before starting the toe. Too small for me, but hopefully just right for the birthday girl. Depending on how my day goes, I may finish the first sock tomorrow. The forecast calls for a sunny day with 12-14° C temps - sounds promising! So far I haven't managed to capture the subtle shades of light orange, burnt orange and copper in this beautiful "Campfire" colourway of Alley Cat yarn, but maybe tomorrow?

Also on the agenda for tomorrow - bunnies. Time to get cracking on those!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the first bunny

Here's the first little bunny ... I'm sorry to say that she's posing on a shot glass rather than an egg, but I plan to take care of that later this afternoon. I imagine she'll be happier on a chocolate egg!

I've made her sweater with scraps of pink and white Louisa Harding Mulberry Silk and used scraps of brown alpaca for her head and hands. As I knit her head I worried she was turning out too large, but now that she's finished I think it has all worked out fine. The finishing is fiddly but the pattern works out very nicely in the end. Now to make half a dozen more with different sweaters in time for Easter!

Friday, March 19, 2010

German lessons

When I first laid eyes on this custom dyed Campfire colourway of Alley Cat Fingering sock yarn from the ladies at Wandering Cat Yarns I was thrilled. Exactly the mix of rich oranges and coppery oranges that I had envisioned. Next I had to decide on a sock pattern to show these beautiful oranges to best advantage. That's when I found Esther by Stephanie van der Linden. Just a few weeks ago I finished a pair of her Komet socks, and I love them, so I thought I'd have a little look see at her other designs. Wow.

Most of her designs are in German - the English versions seem to have been translated by someone unfamiliar with North American knitting terminology. For instance, Ktbl is instead called a "twist stitch". It can make following her patterns in English challenging. And amusing when you come across instructions like "... knit one more round und increase 10 stitches .." But one thing I've learned - what we call a Picot edge is called Mausezähnchenkante in German. Literal translation? Mouse teeth edging. Yes, I'm learning German one stitch at a time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


When I joined Ravelry almost two years ago, the very first pattern added to my Favourites was this one - a collection of stuffed Bunnies. Adorable, but there hasn't been any reason for me to knit them.

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law proposed an Easter visit with her family. Perhaps the timing of the visit can be explained because my Mom passed away last year at Easter; the natural inclination is to spend time together as a family. A good idea, I think.

Then I happened across this pattern for Easter Egg cosies. On Easter Sunday morning, my six yr old niece, and, my 10, 9 and 2 yr old nephews will be together - wouldn't it be a nice surprise to awake to find a carton of Kinder Surprise Eggs with handknit cosies? Adorable.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

finished Nutkins

My Nutkins are done and I'm very pleased. The pattern is simple but striking, and the resulting socks look comfortable and wearable. And they're done weeks before the birthday! Shocking! You see, I'm the sort who leaves things to the last minute, underestimates what's involved and then bites off way more than I can chew.

Picture me desperately knitting a fair isle yoke on Christmas eve.

Picture me frantically sewing sweater seams in a Tim Hortons 10 minutes away from a friend's house.

Looking back there were years when Mom would pitch in to help save me from whatever I've gotten myself into. But these socks are done well ahead and I'm trying really, really hard not to fall into the trap of thinking that I could or should knit something more for the birthday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

dishcloth mania

Apparently I need to knit a few more dishcloths to get this sudden dishcloth mania out of my system. After knitting the first two using Grandmother's Favorite pattern, I couldn't help but think about variations on that pattern that would spice things up. Mom and I often had this problem - instead of following the instructions, we'd feel the need to deviate with our own little improvements. And sometimes those improvements failed entirely to live up to how we visualized them. In trying to become a better knitter, I've made the conscious decision to knit patterns exactly as written at least once before improving them ... and so far that's been a wise decision.

Delving a bit further in the Ravelry database of patterns brought me to this variation created by eLoomanator, with a sort of lattice inset in the middle of the dish cloth. Just what the doctor ordered. Interestingly, the designer uses SKPs in place of K2Togs. At this tight gauge, they're certainly easier. She also suggests that I could work SSKs instead of SKPs. I'm going to have to try it; because that would speed things up tremendously.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

a quick knit

When I finished the blanket, I decided to knit a couple of quick and easy dishcloths. And for my pattern, I consulted the Ravelry database. Grandmother's Favorite dishcloth pattern was by far the most popular, so I went with that. There's a warning attached to the pattern, though ....

None of my friends had ever used one of these cloths before, and once you give one away and they find out that you can scrub glass with one, you will be knitting these things for the rest of your life.

We'll see about that. In the meantime this counts as stash-busting. This is a good use for all that Bernat Handicrafter cotton that I picked up at the Yarn Factory Outlet sale last year.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

that's a wrap ...

... er, a blanket anyway. Yes, I'm glad to report that my Blue-Muda Triangle Blanket is done. As I neared the end I started worrying about how much yarn was left. On the one hand I wanted to use it all up, but on the other hand I didn't want to find myself short before completing the final pattern repeat and the border. That's when it occurred to me that I could use my kitchen scale as an aid in my decision making. The plan? Weigh the remaining yarn, work a few rows, weigh it again, and then calculate approximately how many ounces would be needed for each repeat and the border. At the end of the seventeenth repeat with just over an ounce left, I knew I had just enough to work the border and bind off. Et voilà!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

turning a corner

Things have been on the quiet side here, in part because I've been feeling under the weather. A slight fever and an outbreak of cold sores had me feeling miserable until I decided to do something about them. Did you know that aspirins and glass after glass of cold white milk seem to help? Aspirins to bring the fever down, of course. And my Google results suggested that Lysine - available in white milk amongst other things - has an antiviral effect, which can help stop an outbreak and speed healing. Four glasses yesterday, two so far today and it seems to be working. Feels like I've turned a corner.

Things have also been on the green side here. Were you to scan back through my blog entries of the last few weeks you'd see green, green, blue-green and more green. Admittedly, green is my favourite colour, but it's feeling like too much of a good thing. I'm greened out. How serendipitous that a package of brightly coloured hand painted yarn arrived from Wandering Cat Yarns a couple of days ago! Feels like there's a big colour shift right around the corner as well.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

more than halfway

Through the weekend I worked mostly on my blanket when home, but the Nutkin socks have not been languishing on the needles. The first sock is done and I'm almost at the heel of the second. The thing is, the blanket is more than halfway now - at 30" wide and about 20" long and counting, it's taking up a lot of counter space when I'm not working on it. So I'd like to get it done. And, as we plan to go to Ottawa in a few weeks, I could deliver the finished blanket to Knit-Knackers in Ottawa. I'm sure the spinner of this gorgeous yarn will want to see the finished blanket. Also, delivering the blanket saves on postage which is no small matter when a blanket is involved.

Funny, blankets always seem to come to this point, huh? As much as I enjoy them, at about halfway through, I just want them done and off the needles. Especially when there's new projects and new yarn around to tempt me.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

warm thoughts

For the September shipment to the Inuit communities in Northern Labrador, the Warm Hands Network has specifically asked for baby blankets and socks. The need for socks I understand - everyone in the community needs several pairs. By September I hope to have at least a dozen more pairs knit and ready to send.

Anita explains the priority placed on baby blankets this way:

[Community leaders want] to give every new baby born in the year a blanket when they come into the clinic. It gets young moms into the clinic (a definite plus) and I have to think it sends some good kharma into the atmosphere when a teeny baby gets something they will have around them for the next few years.

Friday, March 5, 2010

blanket beginnings

On a visit to Knit Knackers in Ottawa last year, my sister insisted that I buy this yarn. In fact, if I didn't buy it she was going to buy it for me. Why? Deep, rich, saturated blues and greens. I was shopping for yarn for baby blankets for the Warm Hands Network, and my sister feared all my choices would be dull and boring neutrals.

Turns out my sister has great taste. I'm glad she pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone. As I knit this simple blanket I'm really enjoying watching the different shades of green and blue in this yarn express themselves. And I can't help but think that a baby will find the colours just as fascinating.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

an exchange

When I finished my Cottage Garden sweater I was dismayed to see how much yarn I had left over. My New Year's resolution was to knit down my stash; the idea of adding almost 1000m of yarn was disconcerting. What do you do with 1000m? It's too much for mittens, but not enough for a sweater. So I called The Naked Sheep to ask about their return policy. And, yes, I was able to exchange them! What did I get? A bottle of Soak which was a must as I ran out after blocking the aforementioned sweater. A book of sock patterns, which is always handy. And one skein of Viola hand-dyed sock yarn in a colour called "Red Squirrel". I know, I know, that does technically qualify as adding to my stash .. but I figure it's one skein instead of five, and it'll be used up soon enough.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

turning the heel

With the leg of my first Nutkin sock done, I knit the heel flap, turned the heel and started the gusset last night. I opted for an Eye of Partridge heel flap ... mostly because I like how it looks rather than for any sensible reason. It'll work out okay, though, as the person for whom these socks are intended does not have particularly narrow feet or heels.

Following the pattern instructions I knit 8 repeats of the pattern chart for the leg; a nice length, I think. And my misgivings that the socks may work up to wide have dissipated. The pattern is scrunching in so the socks will be a bit stretchier than I originally thought.

Mostly I'm looking forward to having these done. My next project is going to be something completely different - maybe a baby blanket. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm feeling a bit tired of knitting socks. Winter blahs, maybe?

Monday, March 1, 2010

the difference a day makes

This morning finds me about halfway down the leg of my first Nutkin sock. And much happier with this pattern choice for this gorgeous Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn. What a difference a day and a do-over make! As advertised, the Nutkin pattern is simple and easy to memorize and the result is lovely.

The cuff is unexpected - it's a folded hem, similar to the picot hems of my Cottage Garden sweater but with a plain purl turning round. I had to be careful when "welding" this hem to align the stitches correctly to avoid biasing. Misalignment can twist the rest of the sock out of shape. It's all good, though; my hem is straight, flat and tidy. And there's enough texture in the rest of the sock, so that the double-thickness of the folded hem doesn't appear distractingly bulky.

There are two pattern modifications that I am considering adopting. First, the heel. Instead of a short row heel I think I'll opt for a heel flap and gusset to make the heel deeper. The second mod? Mirror the pattern on the second sock. Looks easy enough to do, so why not!