Sunday, December 30, 2007

The dark side of 'each side'

The self inflicted deadline looms largely upon my person... I have my sleeve permanently placed on the kitchen table until I finish with it. And bitterly complaining about how many times a day I have to actually feed three children, a husband, a dog and some sheep...

Therefore, I am clicking along every chance I get. Last night I got finished one particular set of decreases in my pattern for the top of the sleeve at which point it says you should have 48 stitches left. I counted and got 58! Ah crap. I looked down and gasped. Do you see it too? I read the instruction again and it says and I quote: "dec 1 st each side every other row 10 times-48 sts." Bloody hell. Where did the words 'each side' come from anyways?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Silky drawers

Looking back at my knitting in 2007 I realize the funniest thing to come from my basket is definitely the knitted gitch. I got some silk fiber from a friend and gave it a spin. The fiber is amazingly strong and in my attempt at keeping the slippery stuff under control I actually got achy fingers. So, I had to learn some interesting spinning techniques to get my finished yarn. I learned to spin from the fold. This technique allowed a fine steady feed onto the bobbin which is excellent for alpaca too. I also attempted Navajo plying. This takes practice but it is fun and very practical for sock yarn making because you get a sturdy three ply from it. Then, I decided to dye my finished yarn. I used a navy coloured acid dye from Ashford using half the strength for a lighter saturation. I tied my skein too tightly and ended up with white flecks showing through where the dye didn't reach the fiber. But this produced a pretty knitted fabric. Que sera sera. I only had a small skein of 62 grams and decided to tackle the Lacey thong pattern by Laura Rintala in Interweave Knits Spring 2007. I battled with the gauge because my yarn was homespun and a little wonky in places. My HD raised eyebrows when he peeked at the pattern...I get lots of giggles when I demonstrate spinning silk and people ask me what have I knit from silk? And I point to the undies.
There is a last row of crochet to these babies which completely destroyed the elasticity and thus I cannot get them on...just as well because I much prefer showing them off then tucking them away. Not exactly knitted knickers...but close. Have you seen the article in the new Spin-Off about raising silk worms? Cool!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eat your peas

We had family over for supper on the 26th and when I was cleaning up the plates and putting left overs in the fridge. I made a sheepie-bag of crudités for the herd. Those veggies that the wee folk had on their plates but didn't finish. Along with that was about a ladles worth of peas I served with the meal. My flock are very used to eating fresh goodies from the kitchen and they get excited when they see me coming with a the time I tried a spelt muffin recipe. They ate a dozen in no time flat. When I make apple pies they love the peels. All left over toast and especially homemade wholewheat pizza crust (Koonie's all time favorite). So this time when I went out to the bergerie to check on the water dish...I noticed something in the grain trough...Upon closer inspection I realized they were the peas I had mixed in with the fresh carrots and cauliflower...My sheep didn't eat their peas either!

Here is Frieda and Rhubarb standing on their hind legs to see what I have in my sheepie-bag from the kitchen...

I made this hat to match Ivy's winter coat. She likes to draw this little pig she calls Grink. It is fun to put kid drawings in your knitting.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Time to spin

I got a knitted present for Christmas from my sister. Discloths with a leaf motif. Yum. They match my kitchen. Speaking of kitchen...I took down the tree today and all the decorations. I am amazed everything fit in the same three boxes...every year I add more and for the past 8 years we have been in this house...the same three's a miracle I guess.

Meet Little Gem II. I started spinning this corriedale in late November. I think it is time to dust off the wheel and have a crack at making some soft yarn! I need something warm on my cheeks when I go for a walk. I was out on the bay with my skates on the 25th and the wind is cold in the wide open spaces. This yarn was for socks but my face needs some TLC more than my feet at this point since the cold dries my skin to a crisp.

Thanks to his son Daniel, I now have a photo of Uncle James here doing what he loved best.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Suffice it to say...

For all those fellow knitters whom were knitting into the wee hours and may or may not have been feeling like this.... This is our family pet this morning still trying to get over the fat guy in the red suit popping out of the chimney... Honestly, she does have ears...and her eyes are not always like this. Notice how I omit blogging what I looked like this morning...? No need to thank me.

I got a new sheep for Christmas. The quiet type...

After these last few days all I could hope to do was hold my knitting and thus my travelling project has not changed in length but thankfully in my struggle to keep afloat I managed not to lose my knitting bag anywhere that I went...(gasp at the thought).

Voilà my new sock. I love the way the yarn matches the pattern book cover...very stylish indeed. I am making my very first Nancy Bush Vintage sock.

I am also itching to get back to my Monday spinning group! I haven't been there in ages. The new Spin Off arrived Christmas Eve...squeee! Can you believe I haven't even taken a peek? I surprise even myself at times.

I spent all day (25th) either finding the floor, reading instructions, installing, downloading and charging batteries... I got my arse kicked by a new clock radio with dual alarms...Jeebus...let's hope the thing doesn't set off in the middle of the night now. Suffice it to say, that would be an occasion to read my new Spin Off...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dust is falling...

A paper crane all the way from Hong Kong! Today we had an unexpected visitor at the Bergamot bergerie. A lovely lady named Irene from Hong Kong whom loved the sheep. She is visiting my nephew Daniel and they popped in for a visit. The kids and I were crafting and this lovely girl grabbed herself a piece of construction paper and started folding....I smiled in anticipation to see if my guess was right...a paper crane! I lost my family dog at Christmas in 1989 and in memory of him I made a paper crane for my Christmas tree. Which still graces the branches next to skinny Santa...I have long forgotten how to fold a square of paper into a lovely bird and was rather beside myself when the magic happened at the kitchen table. Not quite believing the impeccable timing...

I am amazed at the way life can twist and turn you around. Things happen and sometimes the timing is just right or wrong. This past week we lost our beloved uncle James, my husband's brother and best friend. We are now getting the family ready for the funeral and Christmas and it all seems so surreal. We are strong because his vibrant love of life and jovial self has left a dust fall on us all with his passing to teach us that life is too short and time is too precious. We miss him. But he would be sad that Christmas would be called off!

The paper crane on the tree is another speck of dust...a gift that a young girl from Hong Kong has delivered to us without knowing she was such a timely and meaningful messenger. I believe in destiny and am so grateful James was here last Sunday in my kitchen telling me all about the gifts he just bought for his family.

After the paper cranes were perched in the tree our conversation turned to the loom in the family room which led to a demonstration of spinning on my wheel and my spindle and the spindle she wanted to try! I taught her how to spin in return for the paper cranes... After they left I realized I forgot to take a picture of us but hopefully we will have another chance.

After our evening meal of pancakes, sausages and real maple syrup...we started to make Gingerbread dough. This year, the children are each making a birdhouse to fill with candy. I got the idea from Danceswithwool. I guess wool is not always about end up sharing so much more.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


My sister suggested I replace my title summer barn picture with a more appropriate seasonal one and I just got around to it today. If you notice, I changed the title picture to a snowy version of the bergamot path. I love this plant so much that I do not remove the dead stalks until the following Spring. I think they are still attractive sticking out of the snow. The Bergerie has changed too...we have an additional storage room. I would love to buy a wreath for the Bergerie...I mentioned this to Len last night and he laughed. Maybe I should think about making one.

Today as usual, my herd was happy to see me and they recognized me even though I was completely bundled up against the storm. Then again, they more than likely recognized the digital camera...ah that must by Maaaa! Rhubarb is always the loudest and most vocal of the sheep. She always says "Maaaa". I think she is greeting me. Each one has her own voice and I can tell which one it is from a distance. I answer back and say Hello Rhubarb...Frieda...Mimosa... or Kounie! Pogo never makes a sound. He is very gentle (and sneaked off to the side when I snapped this photo).

Birthday socks! I promised to blog a picture of them and only after I sealed the parcel shut did I realize I had forgot to photograph them. Pepper asked me why I have to take pictures of all my knitting? It all seems a little silly to her. This is Super Soxx in the plain recipe for my hubby. His birthday is the 19th. I really wish his birthday was not the same week as Christmas. I think he has been jipped all his life. I try to make his day special but he often gets Christmas wrapping paper or Christmas cards saying Happy Birthday. Or just plain forgotten by family or friends. I find it tricky to come up with enough cool gift ideas for both occasions. I really have to put my thinking cap on every year. I am really grateful he loves my socks. Can never get enough of them. Will complain if left too long without a new pair etc.
Ivy made us a snack for lunch. And can you see the snow piling up in the window??? yikes! I hope the boys make it back soon. They had locked the keys in the truck this morning and Uncle James went to unlock it...stay tuned. I am still managing to walk to the wood shed for more logs. The snow is coming down and its blowing around making drifts. It is 11 degrees below. Tea anyone?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Look out for icebergs man...

As promised...Mr. Hedge has a face! I used some of Frieda's wool to match his paws. I think he looks smashing. I used a felting needle and my wits to provide him with a face. What do you think? I don't have a huge blog fan base...I mean unless you count those people whom love me and are forced to answer trivia questions over the phone about my last post. Seriously...I am no Yarn Harlot or anything but if you are out there and happened to peek in, I would love to hear from you.
So I ask the question..."isn't he handsome?" Merry Chirstmas Ivy!!

Tonight we are all hanging out in the house keeping the fire burning and the wee ones are snuggling under quilts already...while Mumz knits this fetching little scarf for Mr. Hedge because Baby it's cold outside!
We are getting hit with the mother of all storms here tomorrow. We already have wayyyy more snow in huge piles in the yard compared to last year. The wee ones are thrilled. And Mumz here is planning on doing some serious cross country ski action very soon. Maybe tomorrow?? Len has already groomed a fairly long trail and we are hopeful about what energy tomorrow brings. Today, I had to step out and do a little Christmas shopping for last minute paper and tags and stuff. I put on two pairs of pants so I wouldn't feel like this.......
In other knitting news... I will be tacking in ends tomorrow on the newest pair of birthday socks. And I have a new Lucy Neatby Dvd to watch on the off chance I get my hands on the remote. Sock techniques 2... Yum. I adore these Dvd's. I am useless when it comes to teaching myself from a book and these knitting techniques are just what the stitch doctor ordered. I highly recommend them. That is if you can figure out which one to pick first without blowing your budget on the whole enchillada. Save that yarn money!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meet Hedge

I must finish with one Christmas present for my oldest daughter Ivy... She keeps making comments about me not working hard enough on her Hedgehog...hint taken.

Way back when I couldn't upload pictures to said blog I was knitting this cute-as-ever pattern by Fibertrends. At first glance it looked more like road kill than a cute toy.

It took me three tries to get the pattern to work. Not because the pattern is difficult nor is it hard to follow...but just because I am almost constantly surrounded by wee folks and they talk a lot and I try to follow what they are saying...or watching t.v. etc... Anywho, I was very pleased to finally pop this into the washing machine.

Today, Hedge (as we lovingly refer to it) looks like this after two sessions in the washer. Ready for a face and some nice clean wool stuffing. I bought some Classic Merino in a light pink shade to make a new one very soon. This one I used Gallaway in a light green colour with some of my brown wool from the flock here at home. The face I will put on with small amounts of carded coloured fleece and my felting needle. I don't have a ton of colours on hand but I will see what I can come up with!

Pepper is still working hard at her knitting...

See...its getting longer!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Warm and cozy needles...

One good thing about being three apples high in my case, is that I have short arms to match the short everything else (thank God!). So my first sleeve is zipping along and I really enjoy seeing the delicate curve the increases are giving the sleeves' sutle shape. Nice... It is good to be so far along and still have that old fuzy feeling about this project. I can't wait to tackled that cute collar!!

I have been busy making pies this week. So in the evenings I am glad to curl up on the couch with my needles and stay warm after freezing all day in and out of the walk in freezer or just standing near the open freezer door while someone else is in there...nippy! Tonight we are having blueberry pie because I made dozens of them all day and so my hands are purple. A little note of nostalgia...the cable needle used here belonged to my Mum. I remember how much she loved to knit cables and I remember how happy she was to use this particular cable needle. When she passed away I put it in a safe place and I think this is a pretty cool inheritance.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Moss stitch madness

I have big plans folks for 2008. So it is game on for this cardigan.
I started it when I sat down one afternoon to fill out a questionnaire in my new Vogue Knitting magazine Winter 2003/04. The title was Getting to know you! Question #14 was the catalyst. How many of the items in each of the following categories have you knit in the past twelve months, and how much have you spent on yarn for each project? Uh...? None. I had subscribed for over 10 years and realized at that moment that I have not knit one pattern. Where does the time go? Too busy with career and kids, I say. I had this yarn from way back that I wanted to make into something washable for myself so I picked the Sitting Pretty pattern #16 of the same issue. Not much for shopping around. I have a thing for moss stitch. I see it and go weak in the knees. Sold. I had a darn hard time knitting said cardigan with three wee kids running around and bookkeeping. I read through the pattern and it said something about Short Row Wrapping....yeah right. I so can do anything and proceeded to put it in a Ziploc and forgot about it. I joined the Ottawa Knitting Guild last year and the first workshop I took was about short rows. I think it was destiny. I came home that night and unzipped the bag with the aran sweater and read the pattern over again and started knitting... The bottom is kinda wonky. I don't care. I just want to finish with this acrylic albeit nice brown washable moss stitchy cardi.

This summer I got the scary short rows wrapped and the shoulders thus shaped. I must say thank you to Lucy Neatby for the moral support and her phone number (no kidding).

I finished the back and then the kiddos where off on summer vacation. Where did I put that Ziploc again? I went on to some easy beach knitting like socks...then once September rolled around I got the Ziploc out and had a go at the front. My husband got very nervous each and every time I found a mis-turned cable and had to perform a knitting autopsy on the kitchen table. I unfortunately deleted one of those pre-blog photos by accident while cleaning up my pictures this past weekend, ah crap.

It is a great relief to know you can actually fix a mistake in a 28 row repeat of cables without frogging the entire section. Keep a crochet hook nearby at all cost and a note pad for documenting and you're good to go.

I found these buttons at the Wool Room in Kingston which I thought would be so pretty...

Here is the sleeve in progress. I like the way the cable is different here and there is more moss stitch to look at...yummy! Wish me luck because my goal is to get this off the sticks before New Years Eve. I start to work tomorrow 20 hours a week at my neighbours store to help with the pre-Christmas rush and make a little yarn money spending money for the holidays. This regrettably cuts into my knitting time so the pressure is on. But I will need to relax after a long day of pies, pies, pies, pies.