Sunday, July 31, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 02 Post 01

Knitting on the Road: Canada Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

Week four of my Year of Projects, and my first project is done. These Canada socks look a bit odd in the photo - they're a bit too long for these sock blockers - but trust me the stockinette sections are all smooth and unpuckered. Lovely socks and a very nice pattern. I learned a new cast-on: the Latvian Twist. It's quite cute; it'd make a charming edge for mittens. And I'm still charmed by the small details like the ridges of purls that bracket the colourwork top and bottom, and the clock pattern that travels down the leg and along the foot.

I've made a start on my second project, Canal du Midi socks. I pondered yarn choice for a while but finally decided on this Arequipa from Estelle Yarns. The yarn is a gorgeous cherry red shot through with subtle stripes of navy blue, which put me in mind of the French flag and felt nautical to me. There's 20% alpaca fiber in this yarn which caused some concern that it'd knit up fuzzy and impede the pattern, but so far so good. With just a couple of inches knit the pattern doesn't really pop yet, but I think it'll be come clearer as I go and definitely clearer stretched across the leg of the wearer. I hope so anyway, because the pattern is too pretty to overlook!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

the new moon in Leo

With the arrival of the New Moon in Leo this afternoon, it's time for a TUSAL update. As a reminder, "TUSAL" is an acronym for "Totally Useless Stitch ALong"; check out Daffycat's blog for more info. Now this particular new moon looks tailor-made for crafters. Here's the astrology blurb:

Magnetic vibes are dancing about during this vibrant New Moon phase. They have the potential to spark more joy and bursts of creativity. The time of a New Moon in the Lunar phase is that of fresh new awareness and intentions. It feels like fresh dug up soil full of nutrients, perfect for planting new seeds symbolic or literal. Set time aside to set a new intention for the time of the New Moon in Leo. During this time, the themes and attention are drawn to unconditional love, self-expression, individual style, creativity, joy, heart’s wisdom, romance, hobbies, playfulness, innocence, inner child within or physical children.

Do you think the parts about "playfulness" and "inner child" explain my strange diversion into amigurumi crochet last week? Definitely that little octopus, with his eight legs to sew on, created a pile of orts. Because the yarn was held double, the number of orts was doubled. The little jar looks almost full but there's still room if I squish them down. For a minute or two the TUSAL jar held the cat's interest ... until it was clear there weren't any cat treats to be had.

one more lace collar

To this point I've finished two stoma covers for Kristen's mom. I'd planned to make a beaded one but my beading skills just aren't up to the challenge. For the moment I've put the beading aside in favour of knitting; that I should be able to manage more capably! Yesterday I grabbed some cranberry red cotton from the cupboard and cast on this Diamond Point Lace collar.

It's been a pleasant surprise. The pattern picture was too dark and lacking in detail to see the stitches clearly, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. It's quite a clever little pattern. The neckline is created with three stitches of garter; short rows keep it narrower than the rest of the collar. The main section of the collar is stockinette, but every eight rows switches from knit side out to purl side out to create a billowing ruffle. And then the lace.

Seems to me cotton is also a good choice for this, although I'll concede that the silk hankie fiber recommended for the pattern is probably gorgeous. The little points of the diamonds are going to benefit from some attention from a steam iron. Have you tried knitting with silk hankies? Are you going to? This little collar seems like a nice small project to start with. And if I recall correctly, my LYS is stocking just the right kind of silk hankies.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finished Object Friday

Last night I started a Roly Poly Cat and this morning I finished her. Very cute pattern! Chances are I'll make more but first I'd like to source some cat eyes (instead of these teddy bear eyes) and maybe some toy safety noses (in place of my lame embroidery skills). This is a great pattern for using up leftovers of acrylic worsted weight yarns. Instead of weaving in all the ends, I pull most to the inside as part of the stuffing and use the final end for sewing to assemble. Is that cheating? It certainly cuts down on time spent finishing!

Seems to me that I could pack up one of these little cats along with a gift card to the toy store or the bookstore to make Christmas presents for my preteen nieces and nephews. I know it's gift cards they want, but I like to have a little something that I can wrap so that it feels more like a surprise!

As well, I've finished my Realistic Octopus. His pieces had all been finished for a couple of days, but I'd been putting off final assembly. I struggled to make sense of the final page of assembly instructions; I just couldn't visualize how this would work. Finally this morning I decided to just follow the instructions step-by-step to see what happened. SURPRISE. That worked beautifully.

Lots of sewing and finishing, but now, seeing the finished little creature, all is forgiven! And it seems to me the tweens and teens in the family might like one like him with a gift card. After all creepy, slimy sea creatures must necessarily be cooler than kitties, right? And look, there's a squid too!

Chances are other crafters have been spending their time on far less silly things than me. Have a look here at Tami's Amis to see what everyone else has been up to!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WIP Wednesday

This is a busy Wednesday. I've already grafted a toe closed and spent some time weaving in ends to finish my Canada socks, but more on that Sunday. I've sewn the last couple legs on my Octopus with just final assembly to go. I've packed up four little purple hats for the London Health Sciences Centre to mail today. And I've packed up several hats for StreetKnit which will mail today as well. Still to pack up and ship? My package for the Warm Hands Network. And look, one more pair of finished socks I can tuck into that package. Busy, busy, busy!

How nice to get a bunch of projects finished up, tidied up and shipped off; it clears the deck for some new projects. I've already picked out yarn for more amigurumi and the next pair of socks. Yay! Starting new things!

Find Tami's list here for updates and inspiration from so many others.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


That's unexpected, isn't it? I've gone off the rails and am making an octopus.. well, at least one octopus, maybe more. I saw this little guy on someone else's Year of Projects list and I had to make him. Immediately.

The pattern calls for chunky yarn, but I'm substituting Cascade 220 held double; that seems to be working out okay. The crocheting is done: head, mantle and eight legs all complete. What's left now is the sewing and look at all those ends. That's a bit off-putting, but it's time to suck it up and get it done.

"Why are you making an octopus?" Gavin asked. I don't know. I just don't know.

Monday, July 25, 2011

presents and prizes

Normally I head outside for natural light for my blog photos, but this morning's heavy rains and thunderstorms are keeping me inside at my kitchen counter. Thunder and lightning started at 5:30am, and now at 8:00am, we're finally seeing the end of the storms on the radar. Nobody's complaining though; we need the rain badly.

Late last week a yarn-filled package of goodness arrived by mail from Kirsten; a prize to celebrate her blogversary! I'm not sure how I'll put these two skeins of Knitting Notions Laceweight yarn to use but I have some ideas about crocheting table runners. The colours in the photo didn't turn out too badly - the pumpkin spice colour is my fave, but I also kind of like the two of them together. Thanks Kristen!

Yesterday my sister surprised me with a present for no reason, Nicky Epstein's "Knitting in Tuscany". My sister doesn't knit - she's a lefty and was surrounded by right-handed knitters growing up - but she likes to look at knitting patterns. The book is gorgeous; if I win the lottery there'll definitely be a trip to Tuscany to see it all first hand. I'm looking at the Bella Bride's Dress wondering if I could crochet it as a long top with cranberry red cotton from my stash. It should be possible if I look at the short dresses some Ravelers have made. Not that I need another project in my queue.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 01 Post 04

Knitting on the Road: CanadaCanal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

With the heel turn complete and the gusset decreases well underway, at the end of the third week of my Year of Projects I'm in the final stretch on this first pair of socks. Don't you find that the foot and toe go very quickly? The urge to finish I suppose.

It's been hot, hazy and humid here as it has been through most of North America. When we broke the record Thursday for the hottest day ever in July in Toronto, knitting was almost impossible. The wool was actually damp from the humidity and from the sweat from my fingers - the stitches stuck to the needles. Yuck. We've turned a corner weatherwise, returning to more seasonal temps which is a relief.

This sock should be completed in the next couple of days, so next week's update should be a first look at Canal du Midi socks. Now which yarn to select from my stash?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

some much needed seed stitch

Nancy reports that I'm sounding "frazzled" these days and she may be right. Maybe that explains the imperative to cast on a seed stitch and stockinette baby hat. Nice fat, soft worsted weight acrylic on chunky 5mm needles = instant gratification.

I picked up a ball of Bernat Satin a week ago with the idea to knit baby hats for the London Health Sciences Centre in support of their Period of PURPLE Crying® Program. The yarn is very soft and knits up like a dream; how satisfying is that? And then there's the seed stitch brim; isn't seed stitch one of the most visually soothing stitches? Like the smell of freshly baked bread or a vanilla scented candle ... mmmm. About an inch to go before the crown decreases and I'm feeling calmer already.

LHSC Recruiting Knitters for Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Campaign

he Trauma program at London Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital is recruiting knitters to help raise awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome. Interested knitters are being asked to knit or crochet purple baby caps in any pattern or shade of purple, and to not include strings, pom-poms or wool on the baby caps.

The caps will be provided to parents and caregivers, in support of The Period of PURPLE Crying® program, which provides important information to parents and caregivers regarding infant crying patterns and comforting strategies, and education on Shaken Baby Syndrome.

“The Period of PURPLE Crying® is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time,” says Denise Polgar, injury prevention specialist, LHSC. “We want everyone to know that crying is normal and that is never okay to shake or harm an infant."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finished Object Friday

This week has been a lot more successful for me ... maybe because I'm using the recommended yarns, the recommended needle sizes and following the patterns? I guess that's a lesson I need to learn over and over and over again!

The Wild Irish Rose necklace crocheted up quite satisfactorily. If I were to do it again I would make the necklace band plainer and not so ruffled. Also, my local stores stocked only white, ivory and this natural colour in crochet cotton; it'd be nice to try it in a fresher pastel colour. Andrea said it was very comfortable to wear, not too hot or heavy, and considering how hot is was yesterday, that's really saying something. If we get a cool evening in the next few days I'm going to try to give the necklace a very light steam blocking. Overall it worked out pretty well, I think.

My second Hourglass sock is also finished; I grafted the toe this morning. The yarn is Viola in a colourway called Robin's Egg and I just made it with only a few meters leftover. It's nerve-wracking to watch the yarn disappear while working the foot on top-down socks!

As for the pattern, it's pretty but I wouldn't knit it again. Why? The fabric has very little stretch so the sock doesn't fit snugly. Me, I like my socks to fit snugly! I added gusset decreases and shifted two stitches on each side of the instep to the bottom of the foot to bring the total number of stitches down to 68 otherwise they would have been HUGE.

Coincidentally, you may notice in future posts that Andrea's long, long hair has disappeared. Hours after the photos were taken she had it all chopped off to donate to charity. Nice, huh?

For lots more posts and lots more finished objects to inspire you, check Tami's list here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday's List of Awesome

Once again, Neil Pasricha's list is my inspiration for today's post; a post to celebrate small pleasures.

i) Feeling the chill of the basement floor on the hottest day ever.

ii) Being startled when a fried 3 TB drive suddenly comes back to life after cooling down for a few hours.

iii) Finding a nickel in my change from the year of my birth.

iv) Discovering that Monday was my three year Blogversary, and yes, I only just realized it.

v) Seeing "Dye Lot: 01" on the sock yarn that arrived in the mail.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday

A Tale of Two Socks

It was the lightest of socks,
it was the heaviest of socks,

it was yarn that evoked spring,
it was a yarn that evoked winter,

it was the most delicate lacy pattern,
it was the sturdiest stockinette pattern,

- in short, one sock is so unlike the other that only superlatives will do.

Good thing Dickens isn't alive to read what I've done to his famed first paragraph for A Tale of Two Cities! Today finds me at the heel of the second sock of both these pairs. And could you ever imagine two so different socks?

Check out Tami's list for more fabulous works-in-progress!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

this week's reads

On Saturday I returned last week's library book and picked up a couple of new reads. I wasn't sorry to finish Apocalypse for Beginners; although I enjoyed the first half of the book, it lost its spark for me when the heroine boarded a plane for Japan and left our hero behind. I guess it was the small observances of their relationship that I had liked all along.

I made short work of Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard on Saturday and Sunday. For reasons I cannot entirely express I found it surprisingly compelling and entirely satisfying. In her review for the National Post, Donna Bailey Nurse puts her finger on it ...

Wright has earned a passionate following with such titles as The Age of Longing and Clara Callan, for which he won the Giller Prize and demonstrated his ability to evoke an authentically female sensibility — a gift he puts to good use in his new novel.

One more book followed me home: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel. Funny, I almost bought this book a couple of weeks ago but I stopped myself thinking "Get it from the library instead". At the library on Saturday there it was, prominently displayed on the shelf marked "Staff Recommends..."

Monday, July 18, 2011

making the necklace band

Maybe you can tell from the dark damp photo that it's just rained here? Last night's and this morning's rains have provided welcome relief from yesterday's oppressive heat and humidity. We smashed a record here, but compared to the temps in the U.S. we really can't complain.

It was hot and stuffy in the house last night though, so we spent the evening in lawn chairs in the back garden with cool drinks. And very quickly the light faded to the point where it wasn't possible to see the individual threads within the chained necklace band clearly enough to work the first row of SC. So it's not as far along as I had hoped. Can you tell; patience really isn't one of my strong points!?!

One thing I am very pleased about are the metal findings for the closure. I didn't see anything I liked at the usual stores so I dropped in at Inspired by Beads where Michelle helped me find this almost Celtic looking closure. Much nicer than the usual fasteners, I think.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 01 Post 03

Knitting on the Road: CanadaCanal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

Early last week I lost my sock knitting mojo. Not great timing as it was just the second week of a year of projects; and all those projects, socks. But after a week where none of my "great ideas" amounted to much on the needles (or crochet hooks), getting back to a tried and tested sock pattern has been a relief.

Funny thing, though. It was when I started the second sock and reread the instructions that I realized I'd made an error in the first sock. DOH. The Latvian twist is meant to be constructed from one row light grey, two rows dark grey and one row red. I never switched to the dark grey on the first sock, so my Latvian twist is two colours instead of three. It's okay though, I like it just the way it is, so I duplicated my error for a matching second sock.

Tonight I'll work through the second chart to add the Maple Leaf motif, and then it's all grey all the way to the toe. Perfect transit and travel knitting to carry me into the work week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

the roses aren't so difficult here

Time to pull myself up by my bootstraps and sort out some of these troubled projects starting with the Wild Irish Rose necklace. Yesterday's post was starting to sound a bit whiny, wasn't it? The yarn is a crochet cotton - Ravelry says it's a laceweight - and the hook size is 1.75 mm. Today seemed like a good day to use the recommended hook size and yarn with a view to increasing my odds for success. Teeny, tiny little stitches.

The necklace is constructed from four small "roses" and one large central "rose" which are suspended from a crocheted choker. Here's my first small rose attempt. It looks lopsided in the picture, but it's not; the lopsided look is because of the angle from which it was photographed. Can you see the layers? There's a central wheel around which three layers of "petals" are successively built to make the "rose". Quite clever construction, I think. And seeing as I managed it successfully, I'd have to say the pattern also is quite well written. I'm definitely a novice crocheter.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finished Object Friday

The good news is that the ruffled necklace is complete. I've woven some memory wire through the top row and it fits quite comfortably, as my coworker Andrea - the smiling girl in the picture - can attest. It's quite pretty; all the admin workers have put in their orders.

The bad news? Aside from that one successful finish this week has been a washout:
• I'm rethinking the beaded necklace because the glass beads I chose for the front fabric are too thick and heavy - maybe more seed beads and less glass beads are in order.
• I'm frogging my Doodle-Noodle Necklace. The pattern really needs the springiness of wool; it just looks sad and lifeless in the cotton I chose.
• I'm starting over on my Ndebele beading project. As it turns out, the beaded fabric has a bit of stretch and would fit the vase better if I was two beads shorter around. Sigh.
• I haven't even had a chance to look at the Irish Rose necklace, although, maybe I can repurpose the shell pink Rowan 4-ply frogged from the Doodle-Noodle-Necklace for this. Probably not though, if I recall the pattern calls for much finer cotton.

For a look at more (hopefully more successful) finished objects, check out Tami's list here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday's List of Awesome

With a nod to Neil Pasricha here's my list of awesome things from the past week:

i) Daylilies are blooming, and blooming, and blooming.

ii) When asked what he'd like for dessert, my three year old nephew replies without hesitation, "butter".

iii) Watching a miniature schnauser run.

iv) "It was really fun ... the funnest ... " Gavin struggles to find superlatives for the paddling conditions on Monday evening.

v) One green light after another from the highway to my driveway last night.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WIP Wednesday

For reasons I cannot entirely explain I have completely ignored both pairs of socks currently on needles, and have instead been crocheting necklaces and collars. Well actually there's an August deadline for these, so that's one compelling reason. And they're very quick to start and finish, so that's a second reason.

Shown is Daniela Herbertz's Doodle-Noodle-Necklace, which I'm crocheting in a shell pink Rowan 4 ply cotton. This single ball of cotton was leftover from the very first pair of socks I ever made and seemed like the perfect yarn for this necklace. It's so much nicer to crochet with than yesterday's Diamond Superfine Egyptian cotton - far less splitty.

Tomorrow I plan to crochet a Wild Irish Rose Necklace and finish a beaded necklace that I've started. My plan is to have them all in the mail by early next week. Then maybe I'll get back to socks!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a ruffled necklace

Kristen's Mom's throat cancer has returned so she's facing a laryngectomy. How can I help? Well, Kristen has put the call out for crafters to make stoma covers for her Mom - pretty ones rather than the utilitarian kind you get from surgical supply shops. There's lots more information in Kristen's posts here and here. The first version I'm making is based this crocheted ruffled necklace pattern. I've filled in the centre ruffles with double and treble crochet stitches to create a solid fabric for the area where the collar bones meet. And I've added another row of scallops in the centre portion of the first ruffle to make sure it's long enough. Hopefully today I can find a memory wire necklace so that I can try it out.

I'm also planning a beaded version. A crafter posted on an internet forum that glass beads were particularly suitable because they were cool, the beads drape nicely, air flow is unrestricted, they are entirely lint free and the necklace can be easily washed in the kitchen sink. These beaded necklaces by Jill Vater are my inspiration. What do you think Jane? Are you up for another bead store trip?

Finally take note, the London (ON) Health Sciences Centre Children's Hospital has put out a call for purple knit or crochet baby hats in support of the Period of Purple Crying® Program - a program that provides important information to parents and caregivers regarding infant crying patterns and comforting strategies, and education on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Follow the link for complete information. The deadline is mid-October, so there's lots of time for me to knit a few.

Monday, July 11, 2011

happy day for Catherine

On Saturday we attended a surprise "Not Yet 50" party for my sister-in-law. And just look at the clever cake my brother commissioned for the celebration! The knitting needles weren't edible, but the rest was. The yarn balls were molded from Rice Krispie squares then wrapped in icing. The knitted fabric was pure icing draped down the front of the cake. How cute is that, eh? Seemed like a shame to cut it and eat it.

Catherine seemed very happy with her presents, too. From us she unwrapped a skein of Bugga from Sanguine Gryphon in her Lord of the Flies colourway - exactly Catherine's colours. Mmmm, cashmere. She's a sock knitter, so she's probably got plenty of patterns in her queue to pick from. And from my sister she got Haiku Knits. Some very interesting patterns there. Lucky girl!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 01 Post 02

Knitting on the Road: CanadaCanal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

The first sock of the first pair from Nancy Bush's book Knitting on the Road is progressing nicely. Today sees the end of the first week of my year of projects and so far I'm right on schedule ... 52 weeks / 17 patterns = about three weeks per pair of socks.

It's a pleasure to knit patterns designed by Nancy Bush, and not just because they are clearly written with thorough explanations and complete charts. Her patterns always include charming details that make the socks really elegant; check out this "clock" pattern that creates a subtle column down the leg to the ankle and around the gusset along the side of the foot. It's a very nice way to dress up an otherwise rather plain leg. Here's hoping I can still say how much I enjoy her designs after 51 more weeks of knitting her patterns!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

but it was on sale...

I gave myself a stern talking to before Shirley and I went to the store closing sale of the Knitting Basket - no impulse buys, maybe some sock yarn in solid colours and maybe a couple of patterns, nothing more. But when I saw two Alice Starmore books at 50% off, I had to get them. Then I saw Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia. I LOVE Nancy Bush's patterns - they're so interesting and well-written. Had to get that too!

I did stick to the plan as far as the yarn went: four 100 gram balls of On Your Toes sock yarn and four 50 gram balls of Sisu. I think I can combine these in colourwork patterns with some of the sock yarn scraps in my stash. Well, whenever I catch up on all the socks I'm already knitting, that is.

The store closes at the end of the July, so it's possible there'll be deeper discounts in the coming days, but I'm not sure I should go again. Do I really need more yarn?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finished Object Friday

What's finished? Just one sock; the first of my Hourglass socks. Ditching those two stitches on either side of the top of the foot was the answer to making the foot a bit more narrow for a better fit. I'm very please with how it worked out. It's going to be hard to give this pair away!

Today the little plaster man is minding my stitches. He seems particularly absorbed by one section of the leg; hopefully he doesn't see a mistake or a dropped stitch. The little plaster man is one of my Grade nine art projects. He spent many years watching over my Mom, and has recently moved back in with me.

This weekend we have a birthday party to attend and then we're spending the rest of the weekend at Lake Erie with friends. Can't wait! If you have a moment today be sure to visit Delusional Knitter's blog - she's just opened her Etsy shop and she's giving away yarn! I'm not taking any chances though; I decided to go ahead and order the skein I wanted right away.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday's list of Awesome

With a tip of the hat to Neil Pasricha and his blog 1000 Awesome Things I’m making my own list of small awesome things from the past week.

i) Dragonflies. There were a ton of these marvelous little creatures at the cottage. Look at those wings. Did you know that their flight muscles can adjust stroke frequency, amplitude, phase between fore and hind wings and angle of wings to fly in all kinds of different ways?

ii) I made a pot of coffee and someone remarked that it was "really delicious". And it was.

iii) Print your own solar cells: engineers at Oregon State U have successfully manufactured ink with the chemicals necessary for capturing solar energy opening the door to low cost solar panels.

iv) In a shoe store with my sister I found a pair of sandals that fit me perfectly. That pretty much NEVER happens. I bought them and have been wearing them non-stop since.

v) On Saturday Gavin and I discovered that we could bike from Port Union through Petticoat Creek Conservation Area, all the way to Frenchman's Bay on the Waterfront Trail.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Today's Wednesday update focuses on my Hourglass socks. I'm making good progress on the first sock, with the heel completed and the gusset decreases well under way. The pattern as written has the foot knit over 69 stitches - that'll be too big! Instead I've decided that the first two and last two stitches of the instep pattern aren't needed. By shifting those to the bottom of the foot and continuing the gusset decreases I can bring the number of stitches down to 61 stitches. Much better.

There'll be plenty of knitting time today on my Go Train to subway to bus commute back and forth to work. Looks like the second sock will be on the needles sometime this week. It feels like these socks are knitting up very quickly, doesn't it?

In the meantime, Gavin is busy making me a set of blocking wires using plastic coated coat hangers. Does anyone have blocking wires? Will these work or will they be too thick?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

books reviewed

I finished The Imperfectionists on Saturday - it was a seven day loan and I had to get it back to the library before leaving for the cottage. My review? It was okay. Parts of it I really enjoyed, but overall I don't think I'm a fan of the format. The book is organized so that every other chapter is kind of a stand alone short story of one of the characters alternating with chapters that flash back through the history of the newspaper they work at.

Now I've moved on to Apocalypse for Beginners and after 50 pages, I'm enjoying this read much more. It's quirky and funny, very much like reading Douglas Coupland, one of my favourite modern authors. The liberal sprinkling of Canadian cultural references also makes me feel quite at home in the novel. We'll just have to see if the promise of the first 50 pages is delivered in the last couple hundred.

I'm also still beading away - twelve rows done. The fabric of the woven beads is very interesting. It's a bit heavy but very flexible, slipping and sliding through my fingers. I can certainly understand the inclination to add it to one's knitting!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 01 Post 01

Knitting on the Road: CanadaCanal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

We've spent the last couple of days at a cottage resort on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, and it gave me a chance to visit with my brother and his family, as well as my sister and her family. It was fun to see the kids playing at the beach, swimming in the pool and kayaking on the lake. A nice little getaway!

After full days of fun in the sun these exhausted kids tend to fall into bed early, leaving the adults time to catch up and leaving me time to knit. I cast on the first sock from the first pattern in Knitting on the Road. I'll admit that I wasn't too excited about this sock when I saw it in the book, but now I just don't think their colour choices and their photography do it justice. I'm loving my version of it! The Latvian twist that begins the cuff was a lot of fun to do and gives a striking result. Two thumbs up so far!

Happy 4th of July to our American friends!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

that's it

Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? After a not entirely successful first attempt at Ndebele beadwork I poked around for a better tutorial. And when Fusion Beads was mentioned on a Ravelry forum I had a look there. VoilĂ ! This tutorial explains it really clearly; even I can do that!

Turns out a two row bead ladder is a great way to create a solid foundation for successive rows of beads. And the online tutorial at Fusion Beads also explains how to end one thread, how to start another and how to turn. As if they knew that I know absolutely nothing about beading ... very helpful!

I wanted a random mixture of beads so I've emptied them all into a bowl, stirred to mix them thoroughly and then I'm stringing them however they come. This is surprisingly difficult for me; I have to fight the urge to select specific colours and resist the temptation to reorder the colours when two or three of the same colour align. It's probably good therapy for me, helping towards overcoming my control issues. Maybe that's why I find it so relaxing?

Friday, July 1, 2011

the new moon in Cancer

Amy Herring writes, "The second solar eclipse of the summer takes place this Friday [today] in the 10th degree of Cancer. The Sabian symbol for this eclipse is a large diamond in the first stages of the cutting process, suggesting something that has taken a long time to build, form, and develop, and now it's ready to be cut and polished. This eclipse speaks to recognizing how to bring out the inherent beauty, and also the potential for fear to cripple you if you are afraid to take the steps to make this beauty (you? your project? your life?) really shine."

The process of matching up a pattern to yarn is like that, isn't it? You have to consider the inherent qualities of the yarn to find a pattern where it really shines. With Zauberball Lace, two things struck me when selecting the Westerwaldwaves pattern:
• these long colour repeats would really shine in this wide horizontal pattern
• these simple fan motifs wouldn't be lost in all this really dynamic colour variegation

It's also fitting on this Canada Day that I'm getting organized to begin Come-Blog-Along. The book I've chosen is Knitting on the Road and the first pattern is aptly named "Canada". Nancy Bush's introduction to the pattern is a perfect commentary to celebrate Canada's 144th birthday:

The inspiration for these colorful socks comes from wonderful memories of my many visits to Canada and the delightful friendships I've formed with the people who live there. The yarn is Canadian, from Shelridge Farms in Ontario, and the colors reflect a Canadian autumn. The technique for the "Latvian twist" was taught to me by Lucy Neatby, a very skilled British knitter, designer and teacher who lives in Nova Scotia, and the main pattern is an Estonian design called "Maple Leaf". So many people have found refuge in the country, I like to think these socks reflect some of the diversity of cultures that are at home in Canada.