Thursday, June 30, 2011

blocking this wavy shawl

The rainbow shawl is blocking, and if ever I could have used blocking wires, today's the day. Note to self: put blocking wires on Christmas or Birthday list. My edges are likely to be a bit wobbly after blocking because I'm using pins. At the moment I'm thinking about running a thread through the edges and using that in place of blocking wires to straighten out the edge.

In her photos the designer has blocked her shawl with wavy edges but I can't imagine how I'd get that waviness even. Besides the garter edges of my shawl seem to want to be straightened. Tugging them straight doesn't seem to upset the wavy pattern through the middle. Straight edges they will be!

I had planned to use a Russian Lace cast off, but had so little yarn left that I mixed it up with a normal bind off every other stitch and managed to squeak through. Just enough left to weave in an end! Finished photos tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hourglass progress

The leg of this first Hourglass sock is about halfway and you know, this pattern is actually a lot easier than I thought. After knitting the first few rows of the first chart I thought uh oh, this is going to be painful, but so far it's quite the opposite especially having dispensed with the P2Togtbls.

It's very pretty too. My sister had a look at them and has called "dibs", which suits me fine; what she didn't know was that I had picked out this yarn with her in mind.

One thing that's troubling me though: the leg is knit across 70 stitches. Will that make for a baggy sock? Should I switch to smaller needles for the foot? The leg's knit on size 1-1/2 (2.5mm) so I could easily go down a size. All advice welcome!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

random Tuesday

This morning I thought I'd better weigh what remains of my Zauberball Lace to get an idea of how many more repeats are possible. From these last 11 grams I'm guessing 2-3 repeats of the six rows of chart 2 and then 1 final repeat of the 8 rows of chart 1. I'll knit the next repeat, reweigh the yarn and then I'll know for sure. Probably a couple of days of knitting, wouldn't you think?

Once that's done I plan to get back to knitting little hats for Innocent's Big Knit. Andrea made me piles and piles of pompoms - she said she found it relaxing and fun - now I need to catch up with matching hats. Time permitting I'd like to knit up all the scraps of baby yarn in my stash into little hats. Also there are a couple of folks I know headed to the UK later this summer; it'd save me a bundle on postage if I could send my hats along in their luggage to be posted closer to their destination in London!

And then at the beginning of July I've signed up for "Come blog-along", a Ravelry group where each member knits through a book of knitting patterns and posts blog updates on Sundays. A whole book! You can understand why I'm trying to finish up everything else ahead of that!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ndebele [uhn-duh-bee-lee]

When I was at the bead shop with Jane a couple of weeks ago I purchased seed beads to try my hand at Ndebele beadwork - a traditional style of beadwork from the women of the Ndebele tribe of South Africa and Zimbabwe. I saw many striking examples on my visits to South Africa and now I have a notion to make a 2-3 inch tall beaded cuff for a glass vase for myself.

Yesterday I made up a small sample using one online tutorial but my first couple of rows are really wonky and my turns are a mess, so I'll have to try again with different tutorials. Some tutorials I've looked at suggest starting with a ladder stitch; that looks like it'd reinforce that first row nicely. I'm definitely going to try that tonight.

In my sample the bead colours are organized by row - the tutorial suggested that to begin so that the different rows can be easily distinguished - but my intention is to have a very random multicolour pattern. Maybe after a few more practice runs!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the Distillery District

Gavin and I are just back from the Distillery District, a great place to visit during the Jazz Festival. After coffee at Balzac's, we wandered through the open air art market. I was particularly taken with handcrafted metal charms made from coins at Monedarte and clutch purses like these made from recycled license plates. Not to mention the artwork created from Rubik's cubes! Because we got arrived early there were still plenty of seats available near the main stage, not to mention plenty of parking spaces in the lots.

We had lunch at the Mill Street Brew Pub where Gavin sampled a coffee porter with his Turkey Club sandwich and I tried a pint of Cobblestone Stout with my burger. Delicious!

Tonight for dinner I'm trying another new recipe: Tofu & Broccoli in Peanut Sauce from a Canadian Living cookbook. No peanut allergies here, thank goodness; just think what you'd be missing! For the last few weeks I've made a point of trying new recipes; seems like we've fallen into a habit of eating the same things from week to week. I've had dishes with peanut sauces in restaurants and loved them, but I've never tried making anything like that at home, so it's time to give it a go. One thing? The recipes from Canadian Living seem to be well tested; they always turn out for me. And after such a filling lunch there's bound to be leftovers from dinner that I can pack as lunch for work tomorrow. That's the plan!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

laceweight or not

I'm still knitting away at my WesterWaldWaves scarf and have decided to carry on until I run out of yarn. As written the scarf would have ended several repeats ago, but even now it's only 9" wide before blocking. Wider is better, right? Besides what could I, or would I do with less than half a ball of lace weight yarn?

Speaking of lace weight, I have been dismayed to notice huge variations in this yarn's thickness. Happily most of the variation won't affect this simple pattern much, but some of the yarn is so crazy thick that I've had to cut it out - like the sample bit shown in the picture. Annoying!

This book, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, followed me home from the library today. It looks very readable and entertaining. Have you read it? I'm digging into it tonight once we're home from a BBQ with friends.

Friday, June 24, 2011

finished object Friday

It's a squeaker! I'm posting in the early evening rather than my usual early morning habit because I've finally done it! I've finished these Herringbone ribs, and coincidentally finished on a Friday. How about that!

pattern: Herringbone Rib Socks
yarn: Merisock Hand Painted from Punta Yarns
modifications: modified to knit toe up

Despite my whining of the last couple of days, I'm very happy with them. In fact, they were no sooner done than they were on my feet! They are warm and quite thick; good for a cool rainy day like today. Did I mention that they fit perfectly?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

an indiscretion

Okay, I'll admit it. I've started these Hourglass socks before my herringbone ribbed socks are finished. I just couldn't help myself. The colour of the yarn is so pretty and so summery that I HAD TO. This pattern has been in my queue for ages - as soon as I saw the Robin's Egg colourway of Viola yarn I knew now was the time.

The pattern is very fussy with all those traveling stitches. Within the chart there are a handful of P2tog TBL stitches, but after watching the video and trying it a couple of times, I've decided to just work them as P2togs. See how much trouble she has with them in the demonstration? I wasn't any better at it. Life's just too short for that kind of nonsense. Switching to the simpler stitch makes little difference to the appearance of the sock, so away we go!

Now, I promise, back to those Herringbone Ribs!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

herringbone ribs update

This second day of summer is cloudy and rainy - just the right sort of weather for knitting my herringbone rib socks. Increasingly I'm thinking of these as "winter" socks and struggle to find motivation to knit the second sock on summery days. Enough's enough. It's time to get these done, don't you think?

This evening my sister and my nephew are picking me up from work, although, for my nephew the opening of a Lego store at the mall up the street is the big draw. Isn't Lego the greatest? After shopping we'll probably end up at East Side Mario's for dinner I'd guess. This visit is a nice treat to look forward to at the end of my work day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the solstice

Today is the first day of summer ... the summer solstice ... the longest day. Here in Toronto we'll enjoy 15 hours, 26 minutes and 44 seconds of daylight and at 1:16pm the earth's axis will be at its maximum incline towards the sun. Tomorrow our day will be two seconds shorter.

In honour of the solstice I've arranged my shawl for photography to look like a sun with knitted waves radiating from the center yarn ball. Well I tried anyway but I'm not sure how convincing it is. Now that I'm back in the orange hues I'd say the shawl is at it's halfway point. Does that count as some sort of knitting solstice?

Monday, June 20, 2011

emerging from the purple

As far as this shawl goes, yesterday was all purple all the time. And because the purple is so dark the pattern isn't really jumping out at me. I tried pulling a section apart with pins, but it's still not clear. But all that should change today, because looking at the ball of yarn, today's forecast is mainly red with a chance of orange later in the day. Although I love the purple, it does make it hard to see what I'm doing especially into the evening as the light fades.

The pattern instructs me to work the second chart six times. I've worked it two and half times now, so following the directions I'm almost halfway, but from the looks of the ball of yarn I could add at least a few more repeats before running short of yarn. I may just do that. My thinking right now is that I'd like to end with a similar shade to the yellowish orange I started with. We'll just see how well that works out!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Our trip to the bead shop was very successful. I came away with beads and findings for ten stitch markers, which I've assembled and put to good use separating the repeats of my WesterWaldWaves shawl. Although this Crazy Zauberball yarn puts me more in mind of toucans or rainbows than watery waves.

The weather was magnificent for this morning's beach clean up - warm and sunny with a light breeze. It was an absolute pleasure to be strolling the sandy shores of Lake Erie, even with work gloves on and garbage bags in hand. After our efforts the beach is cleaner and my skin's a little pinker. Now, time to get back to the mundane chores like laundry, grocery shopping and cooking. Especially the grocery shopping because tonight we're trying a new recipe: penne with green beans, potatoes and pesto. Mmm, pesto ...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

happy Jane day

Jane's presents are wrapped, ribboned and ready - lots of crafty goodness inside. The stickers were my attempt to unify the mismatched wrapping papers. Jane is definitely a fan of Mickey's so she'll appreciate the added Disney touch. Me? If I had to pick a favourite it'd be Jiminy Cricket, but I'm not so keen on Disney at all. Today's all about the birthday girl though so Mickey it is! In a few minutes I need to go shower and get ready for my day out with Jane.

The second of my herringbone rib socks is still on the needles, with a couple inches of leg and cuff still to knit. But surprisingly, I seem to have cast on a shawl. This shawl in fact. I came across it while idly browsing through the Ravelry pattern database and I was stopped dead in my tracks. Must. Knit. That.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday update

With my focus redirected at socks, my first task is to finish my herringbone rib socks. Now that one sock is done and I've had a chance to try it on, confirming how perfect it is, I'm motivated to get a move on with the second sock. If work stays as quiet as it has been for the last few days then it's possible I'll have the time to finish it today or tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'm spending the day with Jane to celebrate her birthday - lunch in the Beaches and an idle afternoon of shopping including a visit to Beadworks. Should be lots of fun!

We'll be up early Sunday to drive out to Pleasant Beach at Lake Erie for a beach clean up organized by the Wyldewood Surf Club. Hopefully the rain holds off!

How's your weekend shaping up?

Thursday, June 16, 2011


After another half day of knitting, idea two has been ripped out and shelved. There's a motif I have in mind but I haven't managed to translate it effectively in knitting.

I've tried it in a single colour with textured stitches.
I've tried it in two colours as Intarsia.
And now I've tried it in two colours as double knitting.
That's three strikes - and I'm frustrated - so I'm shelving it for now.

I'm not entirely giving up on it. I have a few more ideas about how it could work but I don't think I have enough experience as a knitter to follow through on those. And frankly, it'll be nice to get back to knitting tried and tested patterns. Like socks!

Speaking of frustration, can you imagine how the Sedin twins feel this morning? I've ripped out a few days of knitting, but they must feel like they fell short on an entire year's work. Congratulations to Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins - a well deserved triumph after a great game and a great series!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

idea two

With this project I'm going back to an idea I started experimenting with several weeks ago. Back then I couldn't get what I wanted after a number of attempts so I put aside in frustration. But buoyed by my success with my Spenser Cat Mat, I'm going to give it one more try. And if it doesn't work today, well then that's that. Maybe it just won't work at all.

I made a start yesterday but ripped it all out while watching "Wipe Out" last night. The needles I was using yesterday were too big and too slippery. Now that I've switched to smaller bamboo needles I'm much happier with both the knitting and the knitted result. By the end of the hockey game tonight I'll be far enough along to see whether the chart knits up the way I'm envisioning it. It's do or die for the Canucks tonight and do or die for this idea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


With three periods of hockey last night and a few minutes this morning I had time to complete a second Spenser Cat Mat sample. And I'm really happy with this one!

This little mat is a 12" x 12" square because that's the size requested by my local animal shelter for their cat cages and travel boxes. It's knit in two colours of smooth acrylic yarn for hygienic reasons - obviously in a shelter environment where sick and healthy animals live in close quarters, everything gets disinfected in hot water - and also because my cat made short work of the bouclé textured first sample. Also for hygienic reasons the stuffing is machine washable polyester. Working as double knitting allowed me to create a mat with pockets within the stripes for stuffing and an entirely reversible finished product. After slip stitching all the sides closed with a crochet hook using the long yarn tails of the lighter colour yarn, I embroidered a nose and a couple of eyes. And, before you ask, the nose is crooked on purpose, and the left eye is also smaller than the right on purpose. I thought it looked cuter and friendlier that way!

Monday, June 13, 2011

finished object Monday

Finally! That's the Brigitte cardigan done and off the needles. The ends are woven in, but it definitely needs blocking to even out the colourwork yoke. I ran out of green yarn - short yardage seems to be a trend with this David Grains Lopi - so the neckband is a couple of rows shorter than it should be.

There's enough Lopi for one more cardigan, but I've promised Gavin to give it a rest for a few months. The lint from that stuff is just unbelievable! Instead I think I'll finetune my Spenser cat mat pattern and work on a few other ideas. Gavin reports that when he woke in the middle of the night, our cat was still lying on the first sample mat. She seems to really like it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

test marketing

I've knit my first "Spenser" cat mat and as you might expect there are a couple of things I want to change. There seem to be dozens of strategies for casting on, binding off and closing side edges in double knitting but after trying a number of these, I'm leaning towards working it with open sides and edges and then adding a single crochet border all the way around to finish it off. This sample was knit in Bernat Harmony, a textured yarn almost like a bouclé, in honey beige and ivory beige. I like the softness of it, but I'm not sure whether the cat's claws won't end up shredding it to a mess of tangles and pulls. But before I knit another sample in a smoother yarn, I tested it out on the target market. Looks like a success!

Speaking of cats, this weekend and next the Toronto Humane Society is holding an adoption blitz. If you're in the GTA and looking for a feline companion, now's the time!

And then there's this. Pepsi Canada is running an online promotion where people or organizations can submit "good ideas" that have a positive impact on our communities. You can vote for up to 10 ideas daily and there are tons of great ideas and worthy causes to support. I especially like that Pepsi's website allows you to see the projects nearest to you. All Heart Pet Rescue is currently 6th in online voting to compete for one of two $25,000 grants. Laurel at Queensborough Farm Alpacas brought this to my attention. And just look at the two border collie pups that she adopted from the shelter; how cute are they?!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

random Saturday

My Scrub•Bee dishcloth pattern was published in late summer 2009, so the other day I decided to have a little look to see the response to the pattern. Imagine, someone used the pattern on the front of a bag! How cute is that!

The weather for today's Waterfront festival was cool and overcast, which isn't great, but it's better than a steady rain that was forecast. Gavin did SUP demonstrations and then invited a couple of friends back for lunch. I decided on a Greek salad to accompany the farmer's sausage he was barbecuing and tried out this recipe for buttermilk dressing. Delicious! And thanks to these frozen dill cubes, preparation was a snap. When I buy fresh herbs I always end up with most of the bundle leftover. Not any more thanks to these handy cubes; they're very convenient!

I thought I'd broken my camera yesterday - it'd power on and then shut off promptly, or not start at all, or flash EMPTY BATTERY warnings. Gavin fixed it though. As it turns out the metal on the bottom hinge of the battery compartment wasn't properly contacting the battery itself. A bit of a tweak, and voilà, it works again. Phew!

Now, I think I have an evening free to knit, so see you tomorrow!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Earlier in the week I announced my plan to have the sweater completed today, but no such luck. Turns out that today is another unFinished Object Friday. It just brings home how unrealistic my deadlines are, doesn't it? The yoke is complete and I took some time last night and this morning to weave in all the ends. Right now I'm working on the left button band, leaving the right button band and the colour to do. Finished Object Saturday? Finished Object Sunday? We'll see how it goes.

I am really liking the seed stitch welt and button bands - they're sturdy and they lay flat. As well, knitting this sweater on circular needles makes for less finishing; at least there's no seaming even if there still are a ton of ends to weave in. Can't complain though, it's actually kind of amazing that a full size adult cardigan can be knit in just over a week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

idea one

I mentioned at the beginning of the month about the half dozen design ideas in my head, that I was going to try to get them knit, written up and published. Part of my "New Moon" resolutions, you could say. Now that the Brigitte sweater is too big and unwieldy to lug around for travel knitting, it's time to make a start on the smallest and simplest project.

Idea one is a cat mat worked in double knitting from bulky acrylic yarn. I've looked through dozens of patterns but none was exactly what I wanted. Instead I thought double knitting would create a thick, lofty pad that should be warm and comfy. So this project is on the needles now with the pattern tentatively named "Spenser" after my first cat who was adopted from the Toronto Humane Society many years ago. Sounds like a quick project, right? It should be, once I learn how double knitting works.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

super macro day

For unknown reasons I have been obsessed with the super macro setting on my camera these days. Somehow the details of nature examined close up have been engaging my focus lately. Look at the patterning in those Iris petals for instance (click photo to enlarge). Amazing, huh?

On the knitting front I'm working away on the yoke of my Brigitte sweater. And now, after a couple of sets of yoke decreases, progress is accelerating. With any luck it'll be a "Finished Object Friday". No need for a macro lens for that!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

this colourwork chart

This morning I came to a realization: I like stranded colourwork when it involves two colours. But when I add a third colour? Not so much. Fortunately there are just four more rows of the chart that involve three colours, after which it should be smooth sailing.

Sometimes when I look at colourwork sweater patterns on Ravelry the designer's notes say something about "only two colours at a time". I have a new appreciation for that comment. For instance, my dream project, Henry VIII by Alice Starmore, uses 22 colours altogether but only two at a time.

My cat, on the other hand, has a differing view. As far as she's concerned, the more yarn balls involved the merrier. The cat makes it even trickier because I have to divide my attention between knitting the chart and protecting the various yarn balls and ends. Only four more rows, though.

Monday, June 6, 2011

most of a sweater

It's an exciting moment, the moment when you knit across the stitches of the sleeve to join them with the body of the sweater at the yoke. It suddenly feels like most of a sweater, and that's where I am with this Brigitte sweater today. A few more days to knit the yoke, the button bands and then the sweater will be complete. Thursday? Friday maybe?

Yesterday at the garden centre I picked up some basil and cilantro to add to the chives growing in my herb garden container. There was a bewildering variety of herbs for sale, but at least with these two I know some recipes for using them. I have this idea that I can pick a handful of leaves a day and add them to the pot. Does it work that way? Or will I have a bumper crop one week in August and nothing the rest of the summer like with tomatoes? The basil especially smells terrific, now I just hope it grows. I suppose the trick here would be for me to remember to water them regularly. We'll see how that goes!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

a leisurely Sunday

I thought I'd be a bit further along with this sleeve when the hockey game went into overtime, but when Vancouver scored just eleven seconds into sudden death there wasn't much time to knit. Exciting! Looks like the Canucks might just do it!

My new MAC is up and running with everything installed and verified. Apple makes set up easy with their migration software but first I had to remember my Apple ID password. I have way too many passwords to keep track of so instead I use a password manager called Pastor for that. As well I had to deactivate Adobe Creative Suite software on my old MAC before reactivating it on my new MAC. I'm still pondering what to do about the music I've purchased through iTunes. Right now I'm considering deauthorizing it on the old MAC and my old iPod shuffle; otherwise I'm at my limit of five devices having authorized it as well on my new MAC, my new iPod Nano and Apple TV. All of which makes me very grateful for Gavin, my in-house IT guy.

My plan for today is to finish up my chores and then visit the garden centre with my sister. A white load is presoaking in the washing machine now, and while that soaks I'll make a bean salad to eat through the week. Dinner tonight is soup and salad. The weather has been a bit cooler the last couple of days - perfect weather for cooking up something warm, like this Lentil Soup recipe I want to try.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

look! it's shiny!

Three or four more rows left to knit on the body of the cardigan before I set it aside to start the sleeves. It really is going quickly! Through game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals tonight I should make good progress on the first sleeve at least.

But never mind that - I got a new MAC today! It's the 21" Intel Core i5 2.7 GHz model and it rocks! You just wouldn't believe how sad and dated my old computer looks beside it. I had been trying to wait for the new system software - Lion - that's expected in the next few months, but today I broke down and pulled out the plastic.

Maybe I won't be knitting tonight. Maybe I'll just play with my new toy!

Friday, June 3, 2011


This Lopi yarn sheds an unbelievable amount of fuzz with handling. I'm covered, the sofa's covered and there are fuzzy lint bunnies lined up along the skirting boards of the front hall. "Is this sweater likely to be finished soon?" Gavin enquired.

Maybe not soon, after all I only started it the other day. I've decided to skip the colourwork pattern on the cuffs. I don't know about you, but I just hate catching my fingers on yarn floats on the inside of a sweater sleeve as I put it on. Besides, I'm already starting to worry about whether I'll be short yardage on the contrast colours. Better save what I have for the yoke pattern!

I think I'd better plan to knit monogamously on this sweater until it's finished. And then I think I'd better plan to dust and vacuum.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

another Lopi sweater

It's June. Already. The Warm Hands Network shipment is in September, my plan is to drop off my knitted pieces in August, and it's June now. That's not much time, especially for knitting sweaters and blankets. So with that in mind, I've cast on another Lopi sweater - this time I'm knitting the Brigitte pattern from the Best of Lopi.

Amongst the donated yarn were seven skeins of white, but in the remote communities to which the Warm Hands Network ships, laundering opportunities may be few and far between - not just because of the scarcity of washers and dryers, but also for lack of running water. For those reasons, they prefer colours that don't readily show dirt and soil, and in view of that, I dyed those white skeins to a muted celery green. Much more suitable I think!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the new moon in Gemini

From Tracy's Astro Salon: Elementally, Gemini is air and because it is the first air sign of the zodiac, it is all about our first thoughts which tend to be all about number one. “Let me connect for me and my interests.” ... How wind translates to us personally is through communication and connections... What blows into our life for the next 28 days will be new connections. Not just the people but the connections that happens in our brain. We ‘get’ stuff like we never got it before.

With this new moon in Gemini I'm hoping to get organized on the handful of half-baked pattern ideas I have churning about in my mind and on my needles. Mom used to say some days things just won't "go" and other days things just fall into place; no sense in trying to "force it". Today I feel like some of these stalled projects will do just that - fall into place. Fingers crossed.

The TUSAL jar is getting very full, possibly because the scraps of bulky yarn from the hats I've been knitting are so voluminous. Yesterday I knit pot scrubbers. Way back in September I made a test scrubber from Phentex yarn and we've been using it non-stop; time for a couple of replacements. My first scrubber is in the dishwasher; there's still a bit of scrub left in it.