Sunday, May 31, 2009


Although her birthday is really tomorrow, we're celebrating today. My sister turns 50! It must be true that 50 is the new 40, because my sister is a woman in her prime - a challenging career, busy home life and busy social life. The celebration? Dinner at the restaurant where she first introduced us to the man she would marry a couple years later. Coincidentally, my favourite restaurant - super nachos and pitchers of Sangria.

No knitting photos today. Mostly because the photos I took this morning look very much like yesterday's photo. Work progresses on my Noro baby blanket - it's nearly done. The Stanley Cup Playoffs started last night, and from the ceremonial puck drop to the final buzzer in the third period I knit. Quietly urging Crosby and Malkin to find the net and silence the Detroit fans. But Detroit dominated last night, much to Gavin's delight. Oh well, it's best of seven, maybe they can even it up in tonight's game!

Also, I packed up and mailed off my little hats yesterday to Andrew for his charity project. And then posted to his Mom's Ravelry forum where she's tracking hat totals. With the six hats I mailed, his total stands at 420 hats and counting. Great, huh?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

words fail me

... really, what can I say? The colours are tremendous. Words completely fail me. And that turquoise! That's what made me buy this yarn in the first place. The turquoise and the indigo peeking out in the skeins.

I've knitted the first skein, and plan to knit two more. Based on what I've got now - 84 sts with bulky yarn on 6mm needles - I expect the blanket will finish at about 28 x 36". The pattern calls for an intricate knitted border to be added to the main blanket panel, but I might just leave it as is. Simple, unfussy and incredible.

Friday, May 29, 2009

now for something completely different

As promised, it's not a hat. In fact, it's the beginnings of a baby blanket using Noro Iro that I picked up at Knit-Knackers in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. In just a few short rows the colours have gone from peach to brick red to deep indigo blue and now are wandering towards violet. And olive green lies just ahead. My first Noro project, and so far the yarn doesn't disappoint. Unlike so many other variegated yarns, the colours never seem to go yucky at transitions.

And so far, the Cielo Baby Blanket doesn't disappoint either. It's simple enough to let the Noro take the spotlight. The yarn thickness varies, the colours shift quickly and it's super bulky and fuzzy - a nightmare for an intricate pattern. Woo Hoo. Look at me knitting Noro!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

last hat, I promise

For this blue hat I pulled out some Bernat Baby Softee from Mom's stash. Hmmm, not as nice as the Wendy 4 ply. It's not just that it's thicker - DK instead of 4 ply - it's just not as soft. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice little hat and still quite soft and comfy. But if I were shopping for more baby yarn, it'd be Wendy 4 ply for me.

Knitting baby hats one after another has been a mental vacation. Like watching hour after hour of daytime TV. Not too challenging. And not much intellectual stimulation. So it's just as well that I'm finishing up my last hat now and getting ready to mail them off to Andrew. Because it's time to shrug off the lethargy. And find a challenge to sink my teeth into!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

another day ...

... another hat. This latest uses some Patons Look At Me baby sport that I've had in my stash for years. When my sister, my neighbour and my cousin fell pregnant at the same time I made a series of colourful baby sweaters to welcome the new arrivals. Nicholas turns nine in July - that tells you how long those leftover balls of yarn have been waiting in my stash.

The pattern is a simple beanie - lovely with this bright and busy yarn. So far this is Gavin's favourite. I like the simplicity of the pattern, but the rolled brim is a bit chunkier than I'd want. Instead, the ribbed cuff of the last two hats might be a bit more comfy on a newborn's head. My plan is to mail my completed hats this weekend - expect to see a couple more hats before I'm done. Maybe one more the same as this one, maybe a couple of white hats.

And I can't put off weaving in ends on my Taiga sweater any longer! I've been perplexed about how to go about it - with so many strands in so many in different colours, my usual trick of duplicate stitching them into the fabric won't work. I don't want the colours of the ends peeking through. When in doubt, consult Ravelry! A quick search of the forums led me to this helpful advice. The second method describes working the ends up and down through the purl bumps on the reverse side of the fabric. That should work, thanks Nanette! But how did we get along pre-Ravelry?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

sock update

Slowly but surely the sock's coming along. Just finished the gusset decreases and worked half the first chart repeat for the top of the foot. And like so many other things, it looks harder than it is.

But what amazes me is how many people have asked whether it's worth it. "Wouldn't it be easier to just buy socks?" Which is really missing the point, isn't it? Using that logic how would you justify doing a crossword puzzle or playing golf. It's leisure. It's creative. It's not meant to be an efficient or economical way of making socks. For the hours of enjoyment I'm deriving from knitting this sock, it's darn good value for my entertainment dollar.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May flowers

It must be true what they say about "April Showers ..." because there's no shortage of flowers these days. The fruit trees are covered in blossoms and the Lilacs are blooming profusely. Gavin and I spent the weekend at a friend's cottage on the Lake Erie shore, enjoying the beautiful weather. Warm enough even for a couple hours of sailing on a Hobie catamaran!

The first little pink hat is done, and another is on the needles now. Just a couple more days and a couple more hats before I mail them off to Andrew. Then onto a Noro baby blanket!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

in the pink

Next on the needles? Another baby hat in leftover pink baby yarn. Thanks to Save-On-Crafts for this simple hat pattern. With a K2P2 ribbed brim the hat'll fit snugly, and with the main part of the hat and crown in stockinette, it'll be comfortable. I won't be adding the pompom, though - most hospitals prefer preemie and newborn hats without them.

The yarn is leftover from a baby sweater Mom made last year - one of her caregivers wanted a special gift for her niece's christening. Looks like there's enough for a couple of hats! And why pink and blue for hats? Because that's what the parents of newborns want. The hospitals report that demand for those two colours outstrips all other colour choices. Well, it makes sense doesn't it? Because everyone always asks - is it a boy or a girl?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Knock Knock

Knock, Knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad it's a preemie hat?

Upon finishing, both Gavin and I agreed this hat was impossibly small. So I searched the Ravelry forums for information about baby hat sizing. And learned that very small preemie's heads can be lemon sized. Goodness, that's tiny. One Raveler reported that her son's head was 23cm when born at 20 weeks. My hat? 28cm unstretched to 33cm gently stretched, so it's fine. See? It fits loosely on a large navel orange!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Andrew's Charity Hats

Through the Ravelry group The Greater Good I learned about Andrew - a 10 year old North Carolinian who's very active in community service. With a grant from he's collecting baby hats for Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC. How great is that?

For my first hat I'm using this pattern for an eyelet rib hat. With Wendy 4ply in a blue print from my stash I've cast on and worked the picot border. Very clever, this picot border - provisional cast on, knit stockinette with a middle row of lace, then knit top and bottom together to create double thick border with picot edge. A bit finicky to do at this small size and in the round, but I love the result.

And, of course, the Easiest Ever Baby Blanket is ready to send to the Warm Hands Network. Now that it's blocked and done I like the pattern even more than when I was knitting it. I'm still a bit disappointed in this colourway from Dream In Color - a bit bland I think. But the yarn was lovely to knit.

My plan is to focus on baby hats for a couple of weeks - the official mail by date is June 20th but since I'm shipping cross border I think I'd better plan to ship at least a week earlier. Once the hats are done and shipped, I should have time to complete a couple more baby blankets in time for the September shipment to Labrador. After that? Time to start thinking about Christmas knitting I suppose!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a finished blanket

The blanket's done, blocked and drying now. It looks very nice now that the lace pattern has opened up. Final size after blocking? 36" x 40 with less than a metre of yarn left. Despite my false starts, it has finished very nicely and I'm very pleased. Tomorrow I'll take some better pictures to show the whole blanket.

The next baby blanket will be from the Noro I bought a couple of days ago. I've been pondering what kind of pattern would be best for this very colourful yarn, and have settled on this Cielo blanket by Lisa Desseault. A simple pattern to let the yarn shine! Hard to visualize, so I plan to cast on a knit a few repeats to see how it looks - an extra large patterned gauge swatch, I suppose.

Progress also continues on my first Red Rocket sock. I've been taking it slowly, trying to be very careful to follow the pattern without error. I've knit the leg and heel flap, turned the heel and am 10 rows into the gusset. After the short rows of the heel turn the instructions say "18 heel sts rem." And then the set-up round for the gusset accounts for only 16 sts from the heel. I've read it over and over again but can't make sense of it, so I'm concluding the set-up round is wrong. Won't make much difference - just one more decrease round on the gusset to bring me to the correct number of stitches for the foot. It's disconcerting, that's all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

visiting Ottawa

Shame the weather wasn't better. Because the tulips are spectacular. Bed after bed of fully blooming tulips in every colour of the rainbow. During WWII, while Mom lived in Nazi-occupied Holland the Dutch Royal family was evacuated to Canada. And while here, Queen Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet. As a thank you present she sent 100,000 tulip bulbs to the city of Ottawa - laying the foundation for Ottawa's annual tulip festival.

The chilly temperatures gave Edward a chance to try his new sweater - the sweater started by Mom, the sweater I finished after Mom's passing. It's still big for him - so it will fit next fall and winter - but it looks great on him. The colour suits him to a T. I couldn't be happier with that little sweater.

While in Ottawa we visited Knit-Knackers on the main floor of an old house off Bank Street in Ottawa. Everywhere you look is fabulous yarn. Good thing I don't live in Ottawa - there'd be many lost hours spent there. What'd I get? Two large skeins of blue/green handspun - eek, me knitting handspun!?!! My sister insisted the colours were too beautiful to resist. And several skeins of Noro Iro. More baby blankets for the Warm Hands Network in the queue now. I avoided the siren call of the odd ball bin - can't beat those bargains, but it's heartbreak to fall in love with something only to find there isn't enough to knit anything. Fun to look at everything; my sister and sister-in-law enjoyed it too. All the while Edward crawled around in his hand knit sweater and hand knit socks, playing with a small ball of Baby Alpaca and charming everyone in the store.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

road trip

The blanket is almost as far as it was before and I'm much happier with it now. The first half isn't so blandly uniform, and there won't be a stark mismatch at the centre this way.

This morning my sister and I head to Ottawa for a couple days. Too bad the weather is not co-operating - unseasonably cold, rainy and thunderstorms. Not exactly the best weather for strolling and enjoying the Tulip Festival. So, just in case, I've programmed the addresses of a few Ottawa area yarn stores into the GPS.

And figuring that we'll be sharing the driving, I've packed my sock-knitting. Pretty sure I can finish the leg, knit the heel flap and turn the heel in a 5 hour drive.

Friday, May 15, 2009

yesterday I lied

Yesterday I wrote "Guess I'll keep going and see how it looks when it's all done." Turns out, that was a lie. Sorry, but the complete colour change halfway through the blanket was too much for me. After three pattern repeats of the second skein I had to face the music. I spent the second period of the Detroit-Anaheim game unraveling the entire thing. And then spent the third period starting over alternating skeins every two rows.

Nicer now, don't you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a strange thing happened

... when I started the second skein. Suddenly there's a lot more colour transitioning in my knitting. Honestly, the skeins appeared to match when I bought them - same yarn, same colourway, bought at the same time from the same vendor. Weird, huh?

It's an interesting break from the blandness of a few days ago. Guess I'll keep going and see how it looks when it's all done. If I really don't like it then, I can always rip the whole thing out and reknit. By alternating a couple of rows from skein one, then a couple from skein two, I could spread the colours out more evenly. But for now, I'm just going to carry on and see what develops.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

fingers crossed

"It looks exactly like the picture" Gavin exclaimed as I staged my in progress sock on the open pattern book. Which I love to hear, because that's the point, isn't it? But which was exclaimed in a tone that implied a fair bit of surprise, unfortunately.

But he's right, I've been paying close attention to the pattern, tinking back to fix even the tiniest of errors. So far, so good. Fingers crossed as I approach the heel, because here's where it's going to get tricky!

Monday, May 11, 2009

easiest ever

While work progresses slowly on the complicated socks, I've cast on some mindless knitting on another set of needles. So I've started Janice's Easiest Ever Lacy Blanket. Now that I'm several repeats into the blanket, I'll admit it - it really is the easiest ever lacy blanket. Which makes it embarrassing to admit that I messed up my first try, ripped out after 10 rows and started again. With this pattern I wanted something quite traditional, vintage even. With the thought that a new mother may see this blanket and think, I had a blanket just like this when I was small!

The yarn is Dream in Color Classy in a colourway called GoGo Grassy. Although lovely to knit, this colourway is disappointingly bland. Not nearly as exciting as the purple colourway from last week. Nonetheless, it's still pretty and it's working up into a charming little blanket.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


After abandoning Kai-Mei from Cookie A's Sock Innovation, it seemed to me that this Cadenza wool/silk blend yarn would be perfect for the Rick pattern instead. Not sure if you can make it out in the photo, but lines of twisted rib stitches travel down and around the leg and then across the foot. The pattern is so striking in tone on tone red, that it seemed like destiny. I had to go for it. After knitting halfway down the leg of the first sock, I can tell you that it's not as complicated as I thought - at least, not so far. Oh, I have to keep an eye on what I'm doing. And it's probably best that I put it aside on a Saturday night when Gavin pours a second Rum and Coke. And just concentrate on Sidney Crosby instead. Because this is definitely not suitable for mindless or distracted knitting.

There was a little crisis in confidence when I turned the page to see the charts for the top of the foot - 32 stitch pattern across 57 rounds. Lots of focus and attention needed, but I think I'm up to it. The pattern is just incredible. I can't believe I'm knitting it! And that it's turning out just like the picture!

A local paper reports that a pair of bald eagles have started a nest a short distance from where we scattered my Mom's ashes just a few weeks ago. It's nice to think that Mom's spirit is soaring with the eagles. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Done, blocked, dried and folded. I love it. The colours are really pretty, and the pattern is very striking now that it has been blocked. This yarn is a dream to knit, with lovely transitions between the colours. And not a single knot or break.

The finished blanket is 30 x 32". There's a raging debate as to what size a baby blanket should be. Some suggest the blanket be big enough for use as a bed cover as the child grows. But others say smaller is better - better for swaddling, for covering a car seat, particularly for infants. That makes sense to me, so I think 30 x 32" is great. Wouldn't a big blanket be too bulky and drag on the floor?

Clara's sundress is also finished - although the "finishedness" is a bit provisional. The dress is better with the embroidered flowers than without, but I'm still not keen on the flowers as they are now. My plan? Bring them to my friend Jane, and recruit her to redo them! She's much better at this sort of thing than I am. Note to self: Avoid patterns requiring embroidery in future.

Next? I really should be weaving in the ends of my Taiga sweater, but some how or another I cast on a sock last night. Maybe I can make a deal with myself? Weave in one end for every 4 round pattern repeat I knit.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

not much going on here

More blanket. Not much else going on here. I'd love to show off finished projects. Or tell you that I've started exciting new projects. Or been somewhere. Or done something. Nope, just been working away at this little blanket.

Maybe it's an emotional wipeout? I just feel tired and lethargic. Not at all in the mood for anything terribly energetic or challenging. The laundry's not getting done. Nothing has been dusted for weeks. Can't even muster up the energy to call for a hair appointment. Just knitting on the sofa, mindlessly watching TV.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like starting something new?

Monday, May 4, 2009

knitting chalice lace

With a pattern that needs just 2 skeins, it's easy to calculate how big to make it. At the end of the first skein I'm halfway ... as long as I make sure I'm at the end of a repeat or in the middle. Nice to know that I can knit pretty much every yard of this beautiful yarn without worry.

The chalice lace looks complicated, but it's straightforward now that I'm a ways into it. Still, I have to keep a close eye on what row I'm working on. And I doubt I'd find my way if I were to put it aside for any length of time.

For the next couple of days I'm going to focus on this blanket. And then? Nothing new on the needles until I finish other projects. Like embroidering flowers on Clara's sundress. And weaving in ends on my Taiga sweater.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

the beginnings of a blanket

I've completed a swatch for my Chalice Baby Blanket. Okay, okay, not so much a swatch but the first 30 rows, after which I decided to start again on slightly larger needles, with 2 more pattern repeats. The pattern is written for a smallish blanket - approx. 24 x 36" - but I'd like to go a bit bigger, maybe 32 x 32". That strikes me as a good "swaddling" size.

Oddly, I'm not frustrated by starting over on this one - I can see how lovely it's going to be with this hand-dyed wool from Dream In Color. Once finished, the blanket's headed to Ottawa for the Warm Hands Network's September shipment. They put the call out for baby's blankets, and I couldn't wait to cast on!

And the little sundress for Clara has been blocked. Silly me, I thought I could embroider a bunch of flowers in no time flat, and then set it up for a photo. But then my OCD set in. My first attempt was with a single strand of Louisa Harding Mulberry silk in white. Didn't like that - too thin and straggly looking. But double stranding makes it trickier to keep the petals even, untwisted and nicely rounded. I also tried a flower in a second contrasting colour. Didn't like that either - looked out of place and mismatched. I've finally got the flowering making method down now, just need to make lots more. The first few flowers have taken almost an hour, so there won't be anything quick about this. Hmmm, maybe tomorrow I'll have a photo showing it finished.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Ahem. Mr Fasset? Sorry, but I'm not loving your Design Line Mirage Fog colourway. The colours pooled at the cuff, then striped for a while, and then went back to pooling. And, is it just me, or is the overall effect that of a greasy rag from an auto mechanic's shop? Add to that knitting with the recommended needles ends up way too small, and what else is there to do but rip it out and start again.

Next yarn? Estelle Cadenza, in tone on tone scarlet. On the next needles size up. This yarn is a merino/silk blend, and this is the first time I've tried it. It's lovely soft - almost feels like a chenille on my fingers. Not nearly as stretchy and springy as most yarns, but knits like a dream. Except, wouldn't you know it, this yarn is pooling too! No kidding! The tone on tone part is all on one side of the sock, and on the other side, completely solid colour. It just looks odd. And I really can't continue with it like this. Just odd.

Deep breath. Maybe I should put this pattern aside for a bit and knit something else? Yes, I'll knit something else. At least until my frustration level ebbs.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Clara's little sundress is finished - ends woven in and being blocked. Photos to follow in the next day or two. So what's next? For a few weeks now I've been hankering after Sock Innovation by Cookie A. And when Gilraen featured a photo of her Kai-Mei socks on her blog, I knew I had to have it. Emergency trip to the bookstore after work yesterday!

My first thought was to knit this pattern with the Natural Dye Marigold Yellow Merino that I purchased from Indigo Moon Yarns last weekend. Because a yarn that special deserves a very special pattern. But, after sleeping on it, I decided to try it instead with a Kaffe Fasset colourway from Regia. The leg is entirely K3P3 rib, so a busier yarn might be a better choice. At the SpinRite Factory outlet sale last spring Mom bought a couple balls of this yarn - she couldn't resist the mix of teal, purple, grey and olive of Mirage Fog. But Mom wasn't a sock knitter, so the yarn sat unknit in her stash. Until now.