Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Noro Shirakaba

With the yoke finished and the stitches for the sleeves separated, this project is starting to take shape. So far, so good. I'm really happy with the way this Noro Shirakaba is working up.

It's a blend of silk and cotton with a bit of wool. Not the softest yarn to the touch, but knit up the fabric has an almost felted feel - reminds me a chalkboard eraser. Can't help but think it's going to make the perfect summer cardigan. The yarn does vary somewhat from thick to thin, but the variations are not nearly as extreme as I've seen in Noro Iro or Noro Kureyon, so the resulting fabric is more evenly textured.

The variegation is quite beautiful I think. This colourway moves from a light mint green to a dark olive green, but always consistently green - no yucky transitional colours and no jarring colour shifts. Think of it as Noro for the timid ... my favourite Noro so far.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The little blue sweater is done! I took my time with the seams, because if they aren't right they really let the whole project down. The way the mattress stitches disappear is really quite amazing particularly at the raglan seams. I'm happy with the sweater but it's hard to judge how it will fit; I haven't any kids here to try it on. The wool was a pleasure from start to finish. After casting off the last stitch of the neckband, there was a scant 10 grams of wool left. Perfect. Nothing left to do but wash it and see how it looks after that.

Work continues on the yoke of my Tea Leaves cardigan. Going down a couple of needle sizes got me to the stitch gauge but the resulting fabric was a bit stiff. Instead, I decided to go with the recommended needle size and follow the directions for a couple of sizes smaller. No guarantee that this will work, but what's the worst that can happen? If I have to rip it all out and start again, it wouldn't be the first time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

angered and saddened

When Stephen Harper announced in December that the G20 summit would be held in Toronto there were lots of objections. Why downtown Toronto? Within the square kilometer fenced off for a security perimeter were 18,000 residents, hundreds of businesses and the busiest transit hub in Ontario. Surely there had to be better places to hold the summit? But Harper wasn't listening.

Today I'm saddened at the vandalism and hooliganism and distressed by the egregious disregard for civil rights and liberties shown by the security forces. But mostly I'm angry. Does anyone think it was worth it? Nothing accomplished as far as I can see. Billions of dollars wasted and a black eye for Toronto in the international press. I'm glad I chose to stay home, watch soccer and knit.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

a quiet Friday

Someone described downtown Toronto as post-apocalyptic, and when I boarded the empty rush hour train from the empty platform at 5pm on Friday, that description seemed very apt. I saw more police in riot gear and heavily armed ETF officers, than other passengers. Eerie.

Just outside the G20 perimeter fence, I saw this very haunting and creative WWF protest - carvers created a life size polar bear ice sculpture which melted through the day to reveal a bronze skeleton ... "Melting Hearts and Changing Minds". A very effective way to demonstrate against global warming, huh?

With the downtown core a ghost town, there wasn't much going on at work. Nice to get out early! After supper I finished up the second sleeve of this little sweater while watching soccer. The weekend ahead looks rainy, so it looks like lots more knitting will get done.

Friday, June 25, 2010

a second sleeve

Within a few rows I'll start the raglan shaping of the second sleeve. Then sewing up and the neckband. Normally I would have some trepidation about these steps, but this time I feel pretty confident. My seaming has improved thanks to this tutorial. Picking up stitches evenly can also be worrying but the pattern instructions are so precise that I'm feeling pretty positive about it. I don't usually wash sweaters before gifting them, but in this case I think I will. I'd like to see for myself how this wool washes and dries.

My trip to work may be interesting today. My workplace is near the G20 security perimeter - I'll be walking along side the security fences and possibly passing through security checkpoints this morning. Yesterday a man was arrested just blocks away with implements including a chainsaw, gas cans and a crossbow in his car. A little worrying, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

starting the first sleeve

Motivation to finish this sweater is ramping up, now that I have a plan for how to proceed with my Tea Leaves cardigan. But I've promised myself that the latter won't be started until the little sweater is done ... probably by the end of this week.

I cast on the first sleeve late last night while Gavin read. He's stuck in Lee Child's latest book, 61 Hours, and can't put it down. Curled up in an armchair knitting, I reflected that this yarn, Moda Dea Washable Wool, is an absolute pleasure to knit. Many Ravelers have complained about numerous knots, but I've been lucky so far - just one knot in the first three balls. So far I'm really pleased with the way the pattern is knitting up. I just hope the neckband is as well-done as the rest of the pattern. Guess I'll find out in a couple of days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

toddler's sweater progress

With the back done and the front nearly done, this little v-neck ribbed sweater is chugging along. It's been an enjoyable knit, mostly because it fills me with good memories of Mom. This pattern is exactly the sort of knit she liked best - knit on straight needles, v-neck, and a ribbed pattern. I have the faintest recollection of an oatmeal coloured sweater she knit from this pattern for the first child of a woman she babysit decades ago. More than anything, I think she'd really like the sweater I'm knitting. I can imagine her encouraging me, saying things like "that's a beautiful colour" and "you're doing a good job'.

My Tea Leaves swatch is dry but I'm no further ahead. The gauge is exactly the same as it was before washing and blocking. Come to think of it, that's oddly reassuring. One thing - the Tea Leaves pattern was designed in 2009 using Madeline Tosh worsted, but in January 2010, the yarn was reclassified as DK instead of worsted .... which maybe explains why I can't get the gauge correctly. My new plan? Swatch to get the row gauge and then compensate for the stitch gauge by knitting a smaller size. That should work, don't you think?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

in the meantime

My Tea Leaves cardigan is on hold, at least until the swatch dries, and then we'll see. My Lotto Max numbers didn't come up lucky and I don't think this gauge swatch will either. Oh well, what would I do with $50 million, anyway?

In the meantime I've had a look through my stashed yarns to find another quick project - this time a child's sweater in Moda Dea Washable Wool. This is wool I bought on the TTC Knitalong last year with the intention of making a sweater for my youngest nephew. The yarn is chain-plyed making it very smooth and lovely to knit, but the reviews about how well it washes are mixed. The pattern is from eweCanKnit: pattern #210, Child's Ribbed V-Neck Pullover. Pen markings throughout the pattern tell me Mom knit this sweater for an eight year old child. It's oddly comforting to work my way through her markings; like she's here with me as I knit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

if at first ...

If at first, you don't get gauge ... swatch, swatch again!

I'm determined that my Tea Leaves cardigan is going to be perfect - perfectly knit, perfectly fitting, perfectly finished. Don't all our knitting projects start out with these kind of lofty aspirations? One thing I have learned over the last couple of years is the importance of gauge - in this case 20st and 26 rows = 4 inches. My first swatch on 4.5 mm needles was too big; more like 16 st = 4 inches. My second try on 4 mm needles? Not much better. Now on 3.5mm needles I've got the stitch gauge correct, but not the row gauge. On my swatch it's 32 rows = 4 inches. That's quite a difference.

I've been sifting through the Ravelry forum posts to glean some advice on what to do. One concern is that the drape of the fabric may be adversely affected. As well, knitting almost 20% more rows might mean needing more yarn. Definitely a concern as I need longer sleeves and body than most. The best advice I saw was to knit a big swatch - at least 6" and 6" - and then wash and block it. Apparently the yarn may relax after washing and the row gauge might end up closer to what's required. How lucky would that be? Fingers and toes crossed that there's a happy ending to this story tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the shawl dilemma

With the final stitch bound off I can finally spread out the finished shawl to see it in its entirety. It's not completely finished - tonight I'll weave in the ends, soak it and block it properly - but even so, I'm thrilled. I just love the way the lace patterns repeat, intersect and flow out to the edges. One thing though, I don't wear shawls. I can't entirely figure out what to do with it now. Worse still, I want to knit more lace which poses a bit of a dilemma. Does it make sense to knit more shawls? Hmmm.

Next I'm going to swatch my Noro Shirakaba to see whether it's suitable for this Tea Leaves Cardigan pattern. This might be nice cardigan to wear over summer t-shirts in the air-conditioned chill of my workplace.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heartland Lace

You might think that I don't like knitting this lace shawl, considering how long it's been on the needles, and how often I say I'm going to work on it and don't. Not true. It's a very nice shawl to knit. But as I work towards the last dozen rows, each row gets longer - a row takes about 20 minutes now. Not the best project to pick up for a few minutes and then put down. And I still have to pay close attention to each and every stitch within the lace pattern to keep from going wrong - not easy to pick up after a long absence and sort out where you left off.

But isn't that what makes it challenging and interesting? Very different than knitting dishcloths! With a few free hours yesterday I was able to work to the end of the 24th row of the 33 row River of Life Edging. Nearly finished. Nearly.

Monday, June 14, 2010

busted ...

Stashbusted, that is! A few weeks ago I heard from someone looking for acrylic yarn for making toys, and I thought, aha, this is an opportunity for me to give away a whole bunch of stuff that I wasn't sure what I was ever going to do with. And while sorting through my stash to pack up the colourful acrylic oddments she was after, I came across a largish skein of Handicrafter cotton in a white/denim blue variegated colourway.

Dishcloths! Five identical dishcloths using Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth pattern. I've knit a variety of dishcloth patterns, but so far this is one of the easiest and the most fun to knit. It's also the most practical and durable - it's the everyday dishcloth at our house. But with five dishcloths completed and the skein completely knit up, I've exhausted my urge for quick and mindless knitting. Back to the Heartland Lace Shawl, and this time I mean it!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

rainy day knitting

That's my pair of funky ankle socks done. Leaving a long tail and weaving it back and forth through the cast off edge went a long way to subdue its tendency to curl. They fit nicely, they're comfortable and they're practical for summer, but if I do them again I'll make the ruffled cuff longer and maybe bead the lower edge of the ruffle to weight it down.

Most of this weekend has been overcast and rainy - perfect knitting weather. With my ankle socks off the needles, I should really be turning my attention to finishing my Heartland Lace Shawl. I should, but I haven't. Somehow, a quick and mindless stashbusting project has more appeal. Maybe by Monday I'll have the energy to pick up the shawl again? In the meantime, it's dishcloths for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

finishing the cuff

Just the ruffled cuff to go until my second Medusa Cascade sock is done. There's an inch or so of rib at the ankle which helps the fit and is covered by the cuff when worn - that's what I'm working on now. As I knit I'm preoccupied with thoughts about how to block these socks. First I think a complete wash and dry, and then probably a steam blocking to help the cuff drape properly. As well, it may be that weaving in the end through the cast off edge of the cuff will help stop its tendency to roll.

There won't be much time to knit this morning, though. In a few minutes we leave for my nephew's commencement from Grade 4. Aunt Lynn and Uncle Gavin go every year to cheer him on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

not my average day

Yesterday I drove to work accompanied by the local Talk radio station. When they mentioned a 73 year old man who had been missing since the previous morning, I paid close attention to the description ... medium height, greying hair, walking with a noticeable limp, dragging one foot, using a child's stroller as a mobility aid. But in a city of 2.5 million, what are the odds?

Not two minutes later I spotted him walking slowly with the stroller looking bewildered and miserable in the rain. I pulled off the road as soon as I could, turned a corner to find a parking spot and phoned 911 to make my report. And learned just minutes later that, in fact, the police confirmed his identity. I can't even begin to imagine how terrible the last 24 hours had been for his loved ones and felt my own exhilaration just imagining the relief they must have felt.

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis, a book which discusses theories of history, as well as free will vs determinism. And it struck me that yesterday I was the specific person in the specific circumstance meant to play an important role in a significant event. Yesterday was not my average day at all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

why blog?

Dominant Hands put name forward for a Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks! I've been asked why I blog. That's a tough one, probably because there are lots of reasons. I like to think that within the blogging community we take a few minutes each day or so for a coffee or a chat over the fence with internet friends. Seeing other people's projects and hearing about their progress helps me with my knitting. I like to see how patterns knit up that I haven't tried. I like to read yarn reviews and comments. And I can empathize with the personal stories that people share - stories about never having enough time, stories about biting off more than they can chew, stories about family celebrations ...

10 Things About Me You Might Not Know:

1. I find money almost every day; usually pennies, but sometimes loonies or twoonies.

2. I have a double crown - the hairdresser's nightmare.

3. At over 6 foot, I'm the tallest woman I know. Many people think my sister is taller - she's not, she's actually a couple of inches shorter, but she leaves a taller impression.

4. Vanilla is the only ice cream flavour I like, although I don't mind vanilla with things in it - like chocolate covered peanuts in Tin Roof or like chocolate ripples or chocolate chips.

5. I was born in the year of the rabbit and often see rabbits in the yard.

6. My best subject in school was math, specifically Calculus.

7. My favourite song from my childhood is "There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World)" by Herman's Hermits. I listen to it almost everyday on my iPod.

8. I have a vascular birth mark in my liver. When I had accupuncture, the pracitioner told me that I have a "hot liver".

9. Although I don't raise my voice often, I've been told that I shout at people with my eyes. Kinda like Mrs. Potato Head and her angry eyes.

10. Sleep is one of my greatest talents. I sleep eight hours everyday - can't function on less. It only takes me seconds to fall asleep, regardless of where and how much noise. And I wake up completely alert - a true morning person.

Now to pass on the Beautiful Blogger Award to ten of my favourite blogs, in no particular order:

Restless Needles, Wish I'd asked my Gran, Wandering Cat Studio, With These Hands, Knit Geekery, One Pair of Hands, Knitting Alone, Knitting Interrupted, Cambodia Knits and Hugs for Your Head.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

getting things done

Today on the train I'll be starting the gusset increases on my second Medusa Cascade sock. Progress has slowed to a crawl on this, mostly because work has been so busy that I've been putting in extra hours. Today is also the day that the guy comes to blow in more insulation into our attic. We're adding about a dozen more inches of loose fill, with the hope that the house stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. We've been talking about having this done for more than a year amongst the neighbours. Weeks and weeks of back and forth. Enough already, Gavin and I agreed to just go ahead and do it. I won't be surprised if this time next year the neighbours are still talking about it, but haven't done anything about it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

weekend review

Okay, we did go to the beach, both our local beach and the beach near Confederation Park in Hamilton. I spent Saturday morning in my front garden - weeding, pruning and sorting things out. Funny that I can spend 2-1/2 hours in a 6x10 garden and still feel like there's several more hours of work to do! Saturday late afternoon we went to see Iron Man 2. Gavin thought it was better than the first. I don't know about that, but it was non-stop, action-packed entertainment. We finished Saturday evening in the hot tub. Sunday morning Gavin surfed and then we spent the afternoon visiting friends. Busy, busy, busy! I didn't get a chance to read more than a couple of pages of my book, The Occupied Garden.

Oh, and the laundry, grocery shopping and vacuuming (thanks to Gavin) also got done. The dusting and sorting out of my closet did not. And, with time to knit on the drive back and forth to Hamilton, my Blue-Muda blanket was also finished. I'm bringing my Fancy Socks with me on the train this morning to get moving with them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

could do or should do

Aaaah, the weekend. More rain overnight and what looks like a beautiful sunny day ahead. The day is filled with possibilities ... now, aside from some knitting, what to do?

Fun things I could do - go to the beach, weed the garden, go for a bike ride, visit friends, take the Kayak out onto the Lake, soak in the hot tub, see a movie, read a book.

Mundane things I should do - laundry, dust and vacuum, grocery shop, back up files from my computer, clean out my clothes closet.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

movie nights knitting

We've been on a bit of a movie kick lately - partly because all our usual TV shows are finished for the season and partly because the evenings have been rainy. After seeing Robin Hood in theatres, Gavin remarked on how similar it was to Gladiator. Was it? I'd never watched Gladiator despite the fact that we received the DVD as a gift many years ago. Time to dig it out and have a look. After seeing both, I'd have to agree: same movie, different costumes. Despite that, both movies were entertaining and worth the time, I think.

And isn't a blanket the perfect knitting for movie nights? This Blue-Muda Triangle Blanket that I started in the last days of my vacation is nearly done. Another project that should be finished by the end of the week!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

happiness is ...

Local radio reported that Canadians are ranked number two in the world in happiness with their living situation. Number One? The Dutch. I believe it. Makes me think of that beer ad that ran throughout the Olympic coverage in February ... we have more square feet of awesomeness per person... well, you get the picture.

Here in my little corner of happiness, progress continues on the second sock. Just a bit more straight knitting to go before I start the gusset increases. Once I get to the heel, there's really not much left, is there? By the end of the week I should be back to my Flip-Flop socklets redesign.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

another provisional cast on

The rain arrived after 11pm, and from what I can tell, it rained hard through the night and then stopped at about 6am. Perfect. After a very mild and dry winter, and a hot and dry spring, a long soaking rain was definitely needed. In fact, another week or two of rainy nights wouldn't come amiss. It's also perfect weather for sleeping - the soothing sound of rain accompanied by cooler temperatures and a break in the humidity.

Last night I cast on the second fancy sock. Maybe I don't like toe-up socks because I don't like provisional cast ons. Somehow or another, I struggle to get them to "unzip" properly and I find the process of picking up the stitches stressful. For the second sock I used this method where you use a crochet hook and scrap yarn to crochet the stitches around the knitting needle. I'm sure I've mentioned it before. This method always works for me; unzips perfectly every time. Now on with round after round of straight knitting to the gusset... ideal train knitting.

Happy birthday to my sister, Janice!