Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Umaro by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed
knit with 6.5 mm needles from donated Mary Maxim Titan bulky yarn. No modifications; knit exactly as written. Finished size: 36" x 44" before washing or blocking, although, it's acrylic so I don't imagine the size is going to change much.

The blanket is very striking - everyone who sees it raves about it. Knit on large needles with bulky yarn, it takes no time at all. One thing? By the time you reach the last few repeats the blanket gets really, really heavy on the needles. Not recommended for someone with shoulder or arm impairments! And imagine, the pattern is actually written for super bulky yarn, so if you used the recommended yarn it'd be even larger and heavier.

More than likely I'd knit it again; it really is a very satisfying knit. But next time I'm saving up for some really nice yarn. Maybe that Mission Falls 1824 Superwash aran yarn in my stash is meant to be knit in this pattern. Hmm, maybe.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Often when I reach the last repeat of a pattern I feel a slight pang - almost as if I should be knitting the last repeat quietly and meditatively before it's all over. But right now I'm working one of the last half dozen C5Rp stitches ...

C5Rp: slip 2 stitches to cable needle and hold in back. Slip next stitch to second cable needle and hold in back. Knit 2 stitches from left needle, purl 1 stitch from second cable needle and then knit 2 stitches from first cable needle.

Fortunately these stitches are much easier to work than you might first think. But two cable needles!?! Really! I won't miss that.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Go karts rides + pop and pizza + an arcade = now that's a recipe for manic kids. Everyone had fun though and the injuries were pretty minor. A pretty good day, I'd say, but very tiring!

There's a different kind of mania on the knitting front - it's Russian join mania. That's the join I adopted on the Estonian Starflower Lace blanket and it's working out great on this Umaro blanket as well. In this case, though, I am cutting out one ply on each end at the join to reduce the bulkiness a bit. The resulting joins are undetectable within the fabric of the blanket so I'm pleased. It's also nice to have just two ends to weave in after casting off.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


As I continue to knit this Umaro blanket, I've been trying to pinpoint the smell of this yarn. Is it second hand smoke? Is it pet odour? Is it rancid perfume? Whatever it is, the smell is making the knitting quite unpleasant at times. The last ball of yarn was particularly pungent but thankfully the ball I'm knitting now is comparatively innocuous. The yarn is acrylic, a donation to the local community centre, so I'm guessing the odour must originate from the conditions in which it was stored. I've wrapped the remaining balls in fabric softener sheets for now and once the blanket's done it's getting a thorough wash!

The plan for today involves go-karting at the Nascar Speedpark, and even as I type this sentence I think, uh oh, what have I got myself into?! Family is visiting from out of town and it sounded like a fun way for the niece and nephews to spend the day. Yikes! How do people with kids find the energy for this kind of thing? I'll let you know how this all turns out tomorrow, if I'm not too exhausted to post.

Friday, May 27, 2011

how I convinced myself

Yesterday I wanted to start an Umaro blanket instead of knitting another watch cap or knitting more tiny hats for the Big Knit. I thought about it for a while. Should I exert some self-discipline and stick to the plans I'd laid out for myself? Or should I give in to temptation and cast on Umaro? Obviously Umaro won, but I've come up with this list of justifications to clear up any misgivings:

i) There was never any doubt that I was going to knit Umaro with this yarn eventually; it's hands-down the most attractive pattern I've ever seen for bulky yarn.

ii) With bulky yarn, the blanket will knit up quickly. Within the few days it'll take to knit this blanket, I'll have tidied up an entire bag of yarn - stash busting!

iii) Umaro is one of two patterns I'm considering for another blanket with stash yarn. Shale Baby Blanket is the other. It's good to test drive the pattern before making my decision.

iv) My sister-in-law is visiting this weekend and she'll want to see the Umaro in progress. In fact, she'll want to knit one of her own, I'm sure.

See, I'm convinced!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

surrounded by hats

Dark hats and light hats, striped hats and solid hats; hats everywhere. Well, maybe not quite everywhere but I have been busy producing quite a pile of hats. With bulky yarn and big needles it only takes a day to make a hat. By bedtime tonight I should be through the last of the Norspun and finishing off the last of these watch caps.

Turns out May has been a pretty good month for knitting up the bulky yarns in my stash. Just as well to knit this stuff before the weather turns too hot and humid. There's still enough Lopi for two more sweaters; I wonder whether I should start one this week?

Also with the little wee hats for the Big Knit, I'm also making good inroads on my stash of baby wool. Maybe I'd better turn my attention to finishing up those next.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

my finished blanket

Starflower Estonian Lace Baby Blanket worked on 4.5mm needles, using 550 grams (1100m) Cascade 220 Superwash in Royal Purple

I wasn't sure about the colour until after the blanket was blocked; the entire time I was knitting the blanket I wondered whether the purple was too dark and whether the pattern was getting lost. But now that it's been blocked the pattern leaps right out at you. It is a very pretty blanket.

There are elaborate borders top and bottom, but at the sides you just knit the first three stitches in garter stitch. It's just the right touch - the sides stay straight and flat without detracting from the starflower panel.

The top and bottom borders are finished with what the designer calls a "typical lace bind off" - knit two stitches, then knit those two stitches together, then knit one more stitch from the left needle and again knit the two stitches on the right needle together, and so on. It's a very nice bind off which leaves a firm, slightly raised edge; not nearly so loose and wobbly as the usual bind off.

The blanket has a definite right side and wrong side - unavoidable for a lace pattern like this - but it's lovely finished. I've put the pattern away carefully, in case I want to do another next year.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

blocking - before and after

With the borders complete, the top border grafted onto the body of the blanket and the provisional cast ons unzipped and cast off, the knitting of the blanket is done. Laid out flat before washing the blanket was 28" x 36". And just to be on the safe side, I soaked the blanket briefly in the sink before throwing it in the wash - no sign of colour bleeding into the water, thank goodness.

Now after machine washing in tepid water on the gentle cycle and tumble drying on low heat until just damp, I've laid the blanket out flat and pulled the tips of the border to points with pins. Size after blocking? Without tugging or distorting, the finished blanket measures 38" wide x 52" deep !!!! I'm delighted with that, but I'd think twice before knitting a garment from this yarn! Finished pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, May 23, 2011

all of a sudden

The calendar will tell you that the first day of summer comes on June 21st, but all of a sudden I think summer may be here already. Why?

• there are flowers blooming everywhere
• orioles, cardinals, white-crowned sparrows and chickadees wake me up each day when they sing at our backyard feeders
• I have a sunburn
• the windows and doors of the house are all open to let the cool breezes through
• we've been barbequing
• the laundry hamper is filled with shorts and t-shirts

Sunday, May 22, 2011

in the garden

You couldn't have asked for better weather around here yesterday - sunny with a high of 25°C (77°F) - perfect weather for a trip to the garden centre on this Victoria Day weekend. Here in Canada we purportedly celebrate the birthday of the late Queen Victoria, but to tell you the truth, we're really celebrating the unofficial start of summer. Finally the risk of frost at night is considered negligible meaning gardeners finally have a green light for transplanting annuals and perennials. And for many Canadians, it's a chance to open their cottages and get ready for summer.

My townhouse gardens are pretty small so at a garden centre like Connon Nurseries I have to show restraint. I did come home with a hanging bag of Impatiens, a couple of Clematis to train up the back fence and this Helleborus. The Helleborus wasn't planned, but when I saw it I just had to have it. And from the crowds at the garden centre it was clear that very few people really thought the world was ending yesterday at 6pm. Everyone was planning their gardens instead of worrying about the end of times.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

mountain elk

Behr 740D-6 Mountain Elk was the colour we decided on. Although, when I took the chip to the Benjamin Moore store to have paint mixed, I almost changed my mind. The paint chip looked khaki under those lights! But here at home on the accent wall in my kitchen it's a muted grey-brown that makes me think of bittersweet chocolate shavings. Perfect.

There's another hat on the needles - this time using up the last bits of grey in an initial stripe and then working through all my odd balls of dark blue for the remainder of the hat. Just a few more hats to go before this Norspun yarn is completely knit up. Knitting this simple hat pattern over and over has proved quite relaxing, but I'd better get back to my purple blanket pretty soon. I'm sooooo close to finishing it.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The way this hat turned out is not exactly as I visualized. When the hat is worn with the brimmed turned up the first grey stripe covers most of the second dark blue and the third light blue stripes making the hat look almost entirely grey. If I were to do another, I'd change the order of the stripes to mix it up better. It's a disappointing because I like to think I'm good at visualizing how something will look.

There's a similar struggle going on with visualizing a new paint colour for the kitchen. Suddenly on Wednesday I concluded the kitchen needed an accent colour - one wall painted a different colour than the rest - and my first inclination was, as always, green. Yesterday I brought home a fistful of paint chips - some greens and some browns. This morning I PhotoShopped each colour onto a kitchen photo only to decide that all the greens look jarring. Instead we'll go with dark grey-brown, a colour which complements the countertop and the colour Gavin picked in the first place. I'm not at all confident, but what's the worst that can happen? We still have enough of the original colour to repaint it back if necessary.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I had a nice lunch with Jane yesterday, albeit a bit rushed. Wouldn't you know it - work's been quiet for weeks and then suddenly on the day I schedule a lunch things go completely crazy!?! I felt like I was competing in that old TV game show Beat the Clock and losing badly.

Feeling somewhat defeated and exhausted, a striped hat was about all I had the energy for last night. Something simple to work away at while taking in the second game of the NHL Western Conference final on TV. It's a testament to the fast pace of the game how much I accomplished. Do you find that? I knit faster as the pace of the game picks up. Prior to the last couple of games I wasn't much of a Canucks fan, but the team has been incredibly entertaining lately. They really could win it all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

two very different hats

One more hat for StreetKnit, now in light blue. Today's going to be a mini-hat day, I think. Andrea is likely to accost me the minute I walk in the door at work for pompom-making supplies, so I'd better produce several more little hats to wear these pompoms.

I've been playing with beehive shaped mini hats - with coils made from 3 rounds of purl stitches separated by two knit rounds. I've found that changing colours by means of a Russian join on the first knit row entirely hides the join and results in a multi-colour hat with just two ends to sew in. Perfect. It's cute, isn't it? But it's got me thinking about knitting this pattern in yellow and attaching a honeybee charm.

I'm having lunch today with Jane - she's sure to have some thoughts about honeybee charms and other things.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

this is more like it

It's clear that Gavin likes this hat much better than the last. That he looked through the yarn to see if there was a colour he liked was a clear hint. This blue colour is too strong for him; he'd prefer something more subtle.

The pattern is Mark Thrailkill's Roll-Brim Seaman's Watch Cap; although I did alter the way the decreases are worked so that the crown flows more evenly from the ribbing. Oh, and I added a half dozen more rounds to the main part of the hat for a more generous brim. The bulky wool makes for a very thick, very warm and very sturdy hat.

Enough of this Norspun yarn remains for five or six more hats. I'm casting another on now, this time in light blue, and we'll just see how many I complete before I run out of steam. It'd be nice to have this Norspun knit up and out of my stash. And it'd also be nice to have made a good start on knitting for StreetKnit.ca

Monday, May 16, 2011


To hang yesterday's freshly dyed Lopi above the upstairs bathtub I had to move the skeins of Norspun out of the way. They'd been hanging there for a week or two, neglected. I should do something with that yarn I thought to myself; something like those hats I'd planned for StreetKnit.ca.

Search the Ravelry pattern database for adult hats knit from bulky yarn and you'll find the pattern with the most projects is this hat - Thorpe - almost 4800 projects. It was certainly quick and easy to knit, but once finished Gavin remarked, "It's okay, but it isn't a hat I'd go out of my way to wear".

Me either, so back to the database search. I've cast on for this watch cap that looks more like something we would wear. It's definitely a nice change to knit full size hats in bulky yarn on 5mm needles after knitting a half dozen tiny hats in baby yarn on small needles.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

a dye job

With the purple blanket at its last couple of repeats (honestly) I started to think about what to knit next. I have enough Lopi for two more sweaters but several skeins were a natural white. The Warm Hands Network is quite clear in their guidelines that they prefer colours that hide dirt and wear - no white or light colours. So dying up seven of the skeins seemed like a good idea.

I've filled the sink with 18 litres of warm water, added lots of salt and dissolved three dylon dark green dye packets. The skeins have been soaking for about 25 minutes now, and so far it looks like exactly the colour I'd hoped for. With the yarn wet like this it's hard to tell though, we'll see in a few a days when the skeins are dry.

Also, if you're ever acting in a play and need to simulate a gangrenous effect in your fingers I know just the trick thanks to a small hole in the middle finger of the right glove.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

an apple today

... might not keep the doctor away, but it sure is cute. This is an adaptation of the apple pattern included in the PDF guide from the Innocent Fruit Drink company for the Big Knit 2010. Because I'm using baby yarn I worked the hat over 40 stitches on 2.5mm needles. Also, to minimize the holes in the leaf I worked the increases by knitting in the front and back of a stitch rather than as yarn overs. Otherwise, I pretty much followed the pattern as written. I can see I'm going to be knitting a few more of these.

Is it possible to knit a citrus fruit? I'm going to give that a whirl today. Hopefully it turns out a bit more interesting than a solid orange hat. We're just headed out now - first stop, a windsurfing equipment swap, and then the Photographic, Video and Digital Imaging Show. Sounds like a good way to spend a damp and chilly Saturday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

now in fair isle patterns

As planned I spent my downtime at work knitting up little fair isle hats in orange, purple and white. Things are pretty quiet at work these days so I got a lot accomplished. Hat production also benefited from Andrea who has been mass producing pompoms for me. "It's so relaxing" she exclaimed.

It's kinda nice to have a little project that can be started and finished in less than an hour. And really, I couldn't possible bore you with another picture of the unfinished purple blanket, could I?

With Blogger down for almost an entire day I was starting to think about what it'd be like without the blogging community. Didn't like that thought one bit!

did someone say Pina Coloda?

What follows is my best attempt to recreate yesterday's blog post which was lost after Blogger's latest round of "maintenance". Apologies to anyone who left a comment yesterday as those were also lost.

I'm much happier with today's version of the pineapple hat. Much happier. I switched to 2.5mm needles, cast on 40 stitches and worked a brocade pattern with crossed stitches and bobbles to punctuate the texture to get the pineapple texture I was after. If you were wondering, Frieda's right: the little fiddly bits are crazy-making.

I haven't really sorted out the pineapple leaves. I've been looking through finger puppet, egg cozy and amigurumi patterns but I haven't found anything suitable yet. I'm still looking though. Meanwhile I settled on a small pompom made more pineapple-y with a punk haircut. Thanks to Mom's smallest size pompom maker this solution was easy-peasy.

Tomorrow I'll knit up some fair isle hats. I've got lots of white baby yarn to use up, and it's sure to look nice when used in contrast with strong bright colours I've got on hand. Maybe this year I can knit up all the sport and baby yarn in my stash!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

a wee pineapple hat

This pineapple hat pattern was included in the information guide for the big knit 2010, so I decided to knit it to see whether I liked it. My result earns a thumbs down! There are some obvious problems:

i) Instead of DK, I'm using baby yarn so I definitely need to increase the number of stitches and decrease the needle size to make the fabric tighter and more sturdy. I'm figuring on 30% more stitches on 3 mm needles instead of 4 mm needles based on this chart.

ii) With more stitches I think I may be able to change the stitch pattern for the body of the pineapple to achieve a more architectural effect - something like this maybe?

iii) Now what to do about the leaves? I'm not at all happy with the leaves in the pattern as written. I think I'd better look through amigurumi patterns on Ravelry to see if I can find something more suitable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Thank goodness! My blanket is finally fixed and back on track. It looked as if I had dropped a stitch and it had laddered back almost an entire repeat to the beginning of a starflower motif. It was a setback but I'm awfully glad I took the time to go back to fix it properly; otherwise it would have bugged me every time I looked at the blanket. And we can't have that.

With things back on the rails I'll go ahead and say what I was going to say a couple of days ago (in that innocent time before the dropped stitch fiasco): this lace pattern is easier than most because you can read the knitting and see (almost) right away if you've gone wrong or missed a yarn over. That's kind of nice because it means I can knit while watching a hockey game; I don't have to refer to the chart every couple of stitches. Now let's hope I can complete the last third of the blanket without incident.

Monday, May 9, 2011

the big knit

Last year I knit 26 wee hats for the big knit - an annual event sponsored by Innocent Drinks in the UK to raise money for Age UK, a charity which helps with heating costs for seniors across the UK. Imagine, an average of 25,000 additional winter deaths amongst seniors yearly just because they can't afford to heat their homes!

The little hats were quick and easy to knit and just adorable when completed. But this year I'm planning to be more adventurous with my hats. All the clever and creative hats that others knit got me thinking - surely I can adapt finger puppet patterns to make hats the right size for these little juice bottles? Could be a lot of fun to knit. As soon as I finish the projects on needles I'm going to give it a try now while I still have lots of time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy thoughts

Let's not talk about the blanket, shall we? Suffice it to say that as the third period of the hockey game began last night I noticed a problem several rows back. Ripping out lace is too risky for me so I'm laboriously tinking back. tink tink tink tink tink tink "Why is there all that loose yarn?" Gavin asks innocently.

Instead let's think happier thoughts. My second Herringbone Rib sock is well underway; with lots of knitting time on trains, subways and buses tomorrow, I should be close to the heel by end of day. Another happy thought? Finally some warm and sunny spring weather! I spent part of yesterday afternoon at the garden centre, and brought home several pots of ivy geraniums to transplant into my wall planters in a couple of weeks. There's still a risk of frost at night, so it's still too early to transplant. But soon!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

along the waterfront trail

On an afternoon walk by the waterfront trail I managed to snap this picture of one of the fox cubs before it disappeared into the lair. Cute, huh? Too bad my pictures of the local groundhog aren't worth posting. The groundhog was not moving far from the burrow - probably protecting a litter of young ones - and almost deafened us with high pitched whistles when we approached.

I've received another large donation of yarn from the ladies at the local community centre - this time a bag of bulky acrylic yarn. It's all from the same dyelot in an off white shade and there's about 800 yds. It's not a yarn I would have purchased for myself but when I saw it I thought "Umaro". Oh dear, my queue just gets longer and longer.

Friday, May 6, 2011


This morning I woke up with the conviction that I was going to rip out this blanket and start again. I had convinced myself that this blanket was coming out too small and had decided that I would spread it out, make a photo and then start unraveling.

But when I spread it out, without stretching or tugging to distort it, the blanket measures 28" on the width. And I'm lead to believe that the yarn relaxes and blooms in the first wash, so I expect the blanket will grow to about 32" wide. Maybe more; some Ravelers report that their finished items end up "scary huge". It's possible that after machine washing, tumble drying until just damp, and then blocking, that the blanket will be more like 34 to 36"wide.

It's tough, isn't it, the not knowing part? But the only way to be absolutely sure is to try it, so that's what I'm going to do. One thing's certain: I'm going to measure and record the dimensions in my Project notes on Ravelry before washing, after washing and after drying. After all, maybe someone else can benefit from my experience.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Over at Wandering Cat Yarns they've just announced their Summer Stitchalong. The rules?
• you must be a member of the Wandering Cat Yarns Ravelry Group
• entries must be knit or crocheted from Wandering Cat Yarns
• must be completed between May 23rd and September 5th
• project type must start with an "S" ... socks, scarves, shawls, etc.

Count me in! I've got my Alley Cat BFL at the ready in this cute "Peeps" colourway and I've picked out my pattern. I'm thinking of these as Silly Summer Socklets, but first I need to finish my herringbone ribbed socks!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

cold and damp at the zoo

Yesterday was the last of the few days I had booked off work. Our planned trip to Rhode Island for an Eastern Surfing Association competition fell through when some family stuff came up, so the vacation turned into a "stay-cation". I wasn't very lucky with the weather - damp, cold and rainy - but yesterday we decided to get out and do something out of the ordinary for my last day off. We settled on a trip to the Zoo.

The Toronto Zoo is just up the street from us, but we seldom go because it's very expensive. Don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining about the admission price. I can't even begin to imagine what it must cost to feed all those animals, see to their health and well-being, and maintain all those habitats. A few of those massive pavilions were heated and humidified to tropical conditions - that's got to cost!

Because of the weather we spent most of our day in the various pavilions looking at fish, reptiles and bugs. The tigers were outside pacing the edges of their enclosures, but they looked extremely annoyed with the rain and the mud. Most of the other outdoor animals were hanging out in sheltered areas, looking none too happy either.

A couple of months ago Bob Barker was in town, promoting the transfer of the three elephants of the Toronto Zoo to an elephant sanctuary in California. We didn't visit the elephants on our trip to the zoo, nor do I think the absence of elephants would affect my likelihood to visit again, but one thing's for sure: California's got to be a better place for elephants than here. I just hope the board of the Zoo is listening!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the new moon in Taurus

With the new moon, it's time for a TUSAL update. Turns out, not much has changed in my little jar. With russian joins as I switch balls on this blanket, no ends have been created so far. And with my Herringbone rib socks still progressing slowly, no ends there either. Thinking back, I used every inch of scrap yarn on my Lopi sweater to complete the seams, didn't I? More often than not, I was digging out scraps from my TUSAL jar to tie off skeins of Lopi before washing instead of adding anything to the jar.

Astrologers tell us that the new moon in Taurus means that "available energy moves from the inspirational to the practical." The seeds that were planted last month take root and experience solid growth. Hmm, maybe. I do seem to be knitting the things in my queue rather than adding to my queue. Socks are being knit, blankets being completed, Lopi yarn being washed and knit. And as a result the pile of finished objects for the September shipment of the Warm Hands Network is growing. All good.

Monday, May 2, 2011

shopping highs and lows

Although the Frolic ran Saturday and Sunday, the marketplace was only on Saturday so Shirley and I were out of luck. MUST. READ. FINEPRINT. MORE. CAREFULLY. Fortunately, even on a Sunday there are lots more yarn shopping options in Toronto. Within minutes of our initial diappointment we were back into the car, headed towards the Purple Purl. And as you can see, I was able to pick up most of the items on my shopping list. Needles for hats, needles for sweaters, and yes, some sock yarn too!

The yarn is Viola sock yarn in a Robin's Egg colourway. It's very softly multitonal and I think it'll be perfect for Bayerische socks. Or maybe something fun and lacy instead? Sounds like a good excuse to wander through the Ravelry database looking at sock patterns, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

the frolic

In just over an hour I'm picking up Shirley and we're heading to the Frolic - the Downtown Knit Collective's annual event. The marketplace at the Frolic gathers a wide assortment of local vendors; that's what were going for. This morning I prepared my shopping list:

i) a ball of Jojoland Melody superwash so that I can finish my latest scrappy lengthwise scarf

ii) needles for another Lopi sweater. I've decided to knit the next one in the round, but I don't have circs nearly large enough

iii) needles for the planned fleeced earflap hat(s)

And if some sock yarn happens to fall into my shopping basket, I'm going to try to make sure there's enough yardage in a subtle enough colourway for some Bayerische socks.