Friday, January 30, 2009


These days, I am a 'process knitter'. All my ideas need to be swatched over and over before I decide what is and what isn't.
'Le Grand Plaid' is keeping me busy. I realize this project is not exactly a page turner for blogging. However, I share with you my Swatch #2 and Swatch #3.

By choosing the double-knitting technique for my stranded squares I have to live with the rectangular shape of my once square chart. I have accepted this and decided upon using 4.5mm needles which gives my piece the desired firmness. I have not blocked this yet and I am hoping to stetch it upward enough to get back some if not all of the intented shape of this 'square'.

The third swatch is the lovely textured piece called 'Point d'Astrakan'. (My pattern is indeed from France). I love texture. I get weak in the knees over seed stitch so this piece of knitting is like hot butter on a biscuit.

For this swatch, I used 5mm needles and increased my stitches by 26 just to match the new width of the partner stranded piece. In the pattern, the textured pieces are rectangular and are alternated throughout the blanket. My 'Astrakan' piece is much wider than high then the magazine photo would suggest but I decided to run with it because it takes forever to knit. Three stitches knit into one stitch every second stitch...ack! But it's pretty.

Okay, so next up, the casting off of double-knit pieces. I use two short circular needles (knitpicks) and I string up my stitches with all the knits facing me on the front circ and all the purls facing me on the back circ. Then, with a darning needle and main colour (ecru) long tail of yarn, I 'kitchener stitch' the piece closed. I don't know about you, but 'kitchener stitch' is easy yet I cannot for the life of me remember how to start so I always refer to my resource material for this step. Every time. I know.

The compendium of Finishing Techniques by Naomi McEneely is full of cool needle art tricks to make your projects unique. There is also an article about reinforced buttons like the way I finished my Sheep Vest recently.
Lots of good stuff inside including a reminder of how to do 'Kitchener Stitch'. My very good friend.

I am working on a pair of socks too. I had to frog the nearly finished first sock when we couldn't get it on my sons foot after school yesterday. That swatch was a dirty liar!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two for One

So goes 'Le Grand Plaid' the epic saga of wool, needles and many days spent together.

I know for a fact that some of my lurkers are wannabe knitters and I thought you would get a kick out of the steps involved in a knitting project à la Bergère.

My Regal Briggs & little 100% wool (wool-tyme) is bought in a skein like this. I don't recommend you cast-on from this point because you would end up in a mess.

The skein is a big twist of lush wool that once untwisted should be held just so you can proceed to wind into a ball. I happen to have a 'swift' to hold my skein but a second set of arms or chair or knees could do the trick. A 'Swift' opens like an umbrella and easily turns as the yarn is pulled into a ball.
Here is a picture of one of my ball-winders. A vintage one like the above vintage swift that I got as a cool birthday gift from the lady that taught me the craft. Very cool.

Once you crank the yarn completely off the swift you get a pretty gorgeous 'cake' or ball of yarn. One end of the yarn comes out from the middle (this is the one I use to knit with) the second end of yarn is tucked-in on the outside of the cake. This is a good way to keep kids busy should you be trying to do this on the weekend, by the way.

You can buy this equipment at good yarn shops or on the net. You may use the ones they have on staff at the local yarn shop when you buy a skein from the store if you are well taken care of. Good customer service means big bucks cause knitting can be pricey if you like the 'good stuff' and come back for more.

Usually, it is best to buy all the yarn required to swatch and knit up your project. This time, I decided to buy my wool in batches. This gives me the excuse to go back for another visit and stretch the yarn money over time. This project is knit in squares to be sewn up later. If the dye lots are not all the same it only adds a little zing to the finished product in this case. I am nothing if not pragmatic.

Swatch 1

This blanket requires stranded knit colourwork squares.
I used 4.5mm needles for my first swatched square but I found it unreasonably small. The down side to stranded colourwork are the actual strands on the wrong side that are pretty in there own right but could get caught on toes and fingers as a blanket.
The wrong side rows of such work are done in reverse stocking stitch which I find to be insane when two or more yarns are in use.

I decided I wanted to have a crack at 'Doubeknitting' the squares to see if I could master this new-to-me technique. This means I get to knit every row as a right side row. Yay! Much like knitting with circular needles to avoid the back and forth of straights.

I end up with two sides to my square at once. Extra warmth and pretty any way you look at it.

For my next attempt, I used 5mm needles for Swatch 2.

To set up my double knit square, I cast-on twice the amount of stitches. Got used to the feeling of having four thumbs and one finger. Knit my chart both sides at the same time by knitting two stitches for one square of the chart. I had to keep both yarns in the right place at all times. Kitchener stitch or graph the finished edge and voilà!

The Gauge, I admit, is way off and the square is loose so I will swatch a third square using 4.5mm again. Crossing my toes since my fingers are kinda busy at this point.

Thanks for tuning in!
P.s. I have cast-on a new sock for Gazou. I used the jogless seam trick for the stripe and it works like magic, more about that next time.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Aha! Doves

Snowbirds #6
Vogue Knitting Fall 2008
Yarn: On line supersocke (farbe 04) & Scheepjes Invicta Extra (white 1357) from Woolaine, Gatineau Qc.
Needles: 2.5mm
Gauge: 37 sts 43 rnds=4"
Would you believe when I decided to knit these (hasty cast-on) I had in mind that this chart had snowmen. Leave it to me to be so busy with everything a-hum around me in my little house that I just clicked away without a care in the world. The big surprise to my delight were the lovely little birds that appeared out of no where. A startled Bergère checked the magazine photo at that point. Well well. They are so enchanting and remind me of a pair of doves I think I've seen somewhere before..?
This is such a stunning knit that my family are quite impressed with my cleverness. Me?
Makes me wonder where they all were these last few months when I slaved away at the sheep vest.
I suppose it is the colour of these that make them stand out so well. I haven't suddenly developed cleverness, surely.
My sister remarked that I would have the pick of husbands being able to knit such pretty mittens! haha-for those who have read the history of Latvian Mittens...

But, I will always remember this project as the one I worked on during the breath taking Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
I had tears- I am so proud and happy for America. I can't get the "At last my love has come along" out of my head and I don't mind it at all.

I made a vow that I would only post the next message when my mittens were ready for the photos. This was harder than I thought! I had to stop myself a few times from publishing this or that...In fact, I spent some time tweaking my sidebar. I am rather obsessed with it by now. I added a little Mr. Depp to wave bye-bye at the end of the page. For you Pet. I also found a lost photo of Jeannie. One taken by me on a summer afternoon. So glad I came across it.

My blog break has given me a happy gift. All the lovely sheep vest comments! Thank you so much for leaving me your kind thoughts. I have never gleaned so many before. I am thrilled! You mean so much.

Guess what? I have nothing on my needles. Gasp. I am almost sick. I have a dozen projects in mind but the one I really want to cast-on is this: Le Grand Plaid from Marie Claire Idées Décembre 2007. I took the liberty of scanning the page for you. Enjoy.

I have been in love with this for a year now. I decided to use Briggs & Little Regal 100% wool. The same colours as in the mag. Yum!
My knit-blog-friend, Fairysteps started a very cool multi-coloured granny square blanket that did me in. I have been in a twist over my urge to knit a blanket for months now. I have three on the brain, actually. Have mercy.
It is so cold again. This gives me (looking forward to) something to cuddle under while I knit it. My napping-under-quilt time is sacred to me here and I have big plans for this blanket. Stay tuned.
Lastly, I came across this photo of my garden. In this blue-cold time of year, it gives me a dose of vitamines. Please enjoy it too!

P.s. Isn't it about time we see a sock going on here? I think so.xx

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No Longer 'Stranded'

Grass Creek Park Vest kit
By Mabel Corlett of the Wool Room in Kingston.
Needles: 3mm circulars
Buttons: Pewter ovals
Stranded colourwork. Applique stitch.

I had these buttons in my stash.
It was fun to look through them all and pick out the ones I thought were appropriate.
I realize now why my Mum used to ask me to pick out buttons for her sewing projects. She was very absorbed in all her work. It was indeed a way to keep me busy and stop bothering her. I could entertain myself in a button collection for hours. Such as last night. Now I get it. Thanks Mom. dejà vu

I sewed small buttons to the underside of the ribbing to stabilize the pewter ones. They have a tendency to wiggle around. Most of my photos had lopsided buttons...
I really wanted to model this knit myself. So many hours I poured into this. I have no camera man in that case. I had to enlist my teenage to take photos. They all turned out a little wobbly but I can't have it all.
This knit is done. Fini. I can die now. Hee.
The swatching has begun for the next ideas in my head but...
It will be a frosty friday before I take on another fair isle.
P.s. I wish now that I had taken a before photo of the curled ribbing. I did not want to share that mess with you. Now that blocking has become my BFF, I wish I had proof.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Teeth a chattering...

This embroidery is done.
I think it looks like a Border Collie..?
Oh my gosh, that was longer and pokier than I ever imagined. I am tired of it and will leave the sheep as they are for now. Maybe some other day I will get plucky and apply some yarn to them from my sheep wool.
I find the dog design stiff because of the layer of extra wool and the reverse side of my fabric is spoiled by the evidence of applique stitches and tacked in ends. Knitters always turn it inside out!

This reminds me of someone I loved...My first dog Jeannie was a Border Collie. She was a three year old rescue that my uncle Oscar brought to our farm when I was 7. She was very skittish and shy but after a few weeks, we were inseparable. She was great with my Mums sheep, so clever and my constant companion for years.

This is the only picture I have of her, taken Christmas morning in 1984 when I got a Polaroid camera for Christmas. This was the first photo taken with it. Very special by the fact that she sat up on her hind legs for the picture. She never did that before or the time I snapped this picture, she was falling back down and I was beside myself laughing that she was so cute and playful.

The kids stayed home today. We went one or two degrees below yesterday. Enough is enough. I don't trust that the bus won't break down on some country road and everybody gets frost bite.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Siberian Whizz

When you got to go...outside...for your business... brrr

This morning, it said -36C at the time I started to dress my kids for the bus.

I've had it with stupid teenager mentally. Freeze if that's what you think 'looks good'.

The clincher: The highschool provides one locker for two girls. No room for snow suits. I give up.

The elementary school just called. Gage forgot his school bag at home. Sh*t. HD is plugging in the Toyota to see if we can warm it up.

When you get lemons...make pie!
This went over very well after school yesterday.

I have finished sewing the facings on the inside of my vest. I know I haven't done a great job but I am so pleased.
Today, I block! Thought I would never utter those words. Sheesh I'm slow.
I have been hanging it on a rack in the kitchen to admire during the moments of the day that I must do chores.
HD saw it hanging there before bed last night.

Len: "Are you done?"
Me: "I just have to sew the buttons on and block it."
Len: "Does this mean we will have a clean house again soon?"

Stay Warm out there!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keeping warm

No wonder I was having so much trouble. Leave it to me to make it hard on myself.
A friend from a Ravelry group came to my rescue with a Youtube clip and I picked up those stitches (a third time) all around the front of the vest. Easy. Now I have to live with the armholes done wrong. ?

I picked up my snowbird mittens again. Even HD is impressed. These are a 'one more row' etc project. Fast.

The palm is so pretty!
And because we gotta eat too...When the gang gets home from ice fishing, they sink their teeth into my famous deep dish.

This time I only had orange cheddar in the fridge. I'm the boss of my pizza. Orange is my favorite colour anyways.

No left fact, the wee folk are eating two slices now. Will soon have to double the crust!
Today is -30C or there abouts. A good day to bake lemon pies and defrost the kitchen freezer. We put all the food on the deck until we clean up the freezer. I say 'we' cause HD is hanging out today. I hope my reminders of all the repairs this old house needs will prompt him to retreat to his shop again. I like my peace and quiet. hee.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Camp 'crazee'

Eventually, you have to move the sofa and thus clean there. For those who haven't read before...under the sofa is where I banish bad knits.

I have two UFO's left and this is my 'if it's the last thing I do' part III of 2008 yet to be completed.

I have officially 'run out' of 'pale green' and 'turf'. I managed to play a few tricks just to get two 'relatively-don't-give-a-hoot-anymore) armhole ribbings done to match.
This leaves me with a small pile of similar coloured yarn to step-in for the missing colours from this kit to work with.
I have decided that I paid enough money already for this that buying more yarn is out of the question. I would die if I had to wait another day for mail to arrive with more 'pale green' and 'turf' just to do 4 rows.

...Although I have no buttons and just got back from a trip to the 'city', sh*t.

Note to self: search through button stash in sewing box later!
On Saturday, I picked up all the stitches around the front. (365) Thought I was pretty smart. Then I realized I picked them up first from the left front of vest instead of from the right front of vest. It felt good at the time. RIP.
The eye strain is something else. I am blind in one eye and the other one has been sore since the incident last summer with a moldy bail of hay. I have to take Aerius somedays, just to see. I feel like Frank McCourt's baby brother.

All this to say, I am still picking up stitches. I have no instructions on how to make buttonholes with this pattern. Whoa? I had to look up an Alice Starmore pattern featured in the British Invasion Vogue Knitting Holiday 2007 for a hint. I distinctly remember Mrs. Corlett mentioning to me that I should refer to Starmore for extra instructions... It was a blur to me then. I was so smitten and in-love with my new kit. The pokey details of finishing this project seemed to be so far off in the future but here I am. Older and blinder. I still really love this vest and can't wait to take it out for a ski.

Not before I embroider the armadillo border collie pup and the sheep. The sheep I plan to embroider with yarn spun from my own beloved ewes. I have Koonie, Rhubarbe and Freida fleece to use for this. Very special knit indeed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Le Sigh....

Feather scarf
Needles: 8 mm circulars
Yarn: Polyester eyelash
Tension: N/A
Garter stitch in strips lengthwise until I ran out of yarn.
This was amazingly fast to knit. A real no brainer and both my girls asked me questions like: "who's that for?" and "can you make me one?"
My sister-in-law's boyfriend spent the day here yesterday and I was able to finish this, take blog photos and slip it into his unlocked Toyota.
My sister-in-law called later to say she loves it. Mission accomplished.

About the sigh part...would you just look at this for a minute.
My hubness built this house. We don't have one but it has only been 17 years. Give him a break. Sigh. Oh well, with no mortgage to pay, I can buy yarn and stay home with my kids. Besides, I get to see everyone elses beautiful log home and their pets!

Oooh Llamas....

These are Shropshire cuties!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Voilà - My version of the rib warmer adapted for a dude after much counting, ripping and knitting.
Yarn: Highland Heather Colour 700(4) & 733(1)
Needles: 5mm (US 8)
Tension: 5 sts = 1 inch (worsted Wt yarn)
Tech.: Garter stitch. Turn & wrap corners, neatening of wraps to avoid hole when adding a stitch every other row on corner.*
Pattern: An adaptation of the Rib Warmer from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop

This pattern was written for ladies.
I adapted it to knit for my hubness.
He is alot bigger than this lady so I had to do the math. Gulp. I was successful and for that I am impressed but humble.
This pattern requires some sewing (I like that). You knit two pieces identical than join the two along the center back and at shoulders. I left a little 5 rib indent at the bottom just because I'm the boss of my sewing. See.
I modified the corners too. Turn and wrap all the way to the last 5 sts. *I picked up the wraps when increasing the stitch count back to the original number. This prevented a nasty hole every stitch. A little trick I learned from Lucy Neatby Dvd (gems). Love these Dvds and they are so very useful.
Those holes are pretty for a lady but I thought it was too lacey for a guy. The holes also made the fabric droop. Can't have that either.
The blueish yarn was a shopping mistake that I made into a design element. Cough. The colour is not too shabby and accents those nifty corners. Ta da.

The collar is my favorite element of the design.

Happy 45th birthday Len.

I am very pleased to have sorted out my lists on the sidebar. Not that anyone cares but me. I stayed up wayyy passed bedtime last night when there was peace and quiet and less competition for the internet. I stared, stalked and studied those HTML codes into submission. Very pleased.


I am on the last leg of my vest...I am damn near out of brown yarn too. If I technically run out of the main colour I have decided to proceed with the left over blueish yarn I used for the corners. God forbid that should run out too. It is in fact a vest made for fishing. Not one for going around looking cute. It will be much like the 'Joseph multicolour coat' I'm afraid.
And don't care anymore. Poo.
No really, it is a satisfying project. I just like to make fun of it, that's all. It's my own design by now and should I make it again, it would have to be shorter to accommodate the yardage of this particular yarn. I know that now...

As for the confession: What a mess my sidebar has been!
I can't tell you how annoying it is for moi to come to my very own place on the web each day and see the pain-in-the-arse way my list of knits with the-cute-little-picture and the nifty link-to-said-post is all askew. Haremph.
I am hopeless with html codes. Honestly, if it's the last thing I do (been saying that a lot lately) I will learn how to fix each and every one of 'em! I managed to get one screwed on straight this morning. I think I am getting it. Shh.

I am so inspired by all of you out there. Each and every day, I come to visit your blogs/ravelry and see what's simmering. I am leagues behind most of you but what a sweet ride it is to be inspired and sometimes noticed.
All this to say that 'behind in my knitting, I am' because I have been more on the net than in the knitting chair. Because of which, I managed this morning to fix one of my sidebar upsets which pleased me to no end and I found several new free patterns that I want to knit and gift this year (maybe Xmas 09 already?).

I have read some funny and lovely stories from webfriends I much admire. Such as Ren! Ah, it's a good good day indeed. This morning I started to cast-on the feather boa scarf. It is much more fun than anticipated. It is not often (if ever) that someone turns up at my door with yarn (I don't care made of what) and just hands it over to be knit anyway I like. I love that.

My new Piecework mag has arrived. Could be why I am so chipper. An Alice Starmore pattern inside! Blessings Blessings.

This just in...I've been out for my ski and back; in one piece but nervous. I was slipping along nicely and suddenly there was very fresh dogish/wolfish prints along my trail on the swamp part of the journey. Then to make matters worse, a fresh pool of blood. I know. I stopped dead and had a wee reflect on life. Looked around. Made some loud noises and looked around again. I guess that was Mr Wolf's lunch. A mole no doubt. I finished my ski without any problem. The pair of them, Mr & Mrs, seems to have split up (?). We only see one now and one set of tracks. Poor dear whichever one is missing. I hope the other doesn't decided to want to meet me. I'd rather be anonymous.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter activity

Isn't it funny sometimes how things fall into place? I have been clicking around the knit blogs for inspiration and found 'dogged' a blogger that not only knits beautiful stuff and has a cute dog but she sews. When I see beautiful quilts or fun sew projects, I get all excited and start to pull the covers off Mr. Janome.
Ivy starts her phys. Ed swimming tomorrow and she desperately wanted some shorts to wear over her bathing suit.
I found this vintage pattern from my high school days in my cupboard. I can't believe its the next generation already. I had some black stretch fabric also in my cupboard (who remembers the tickle trunk?) and spur of the moment started to sew.
I have a bad case of 'Cabin Fever' these days and the last thing I want to do is venture out and spend money on shorts. Who needs 'Louis Garneau'? I stash dived into my fabric and found some black elastic and thread and made a nifty pair of shorts. Ivy tried them on and LOVED them. Saved myself a few bucks and got to work on lots of other stuff today.

The days are slipping by so fast this month. When the kids are away at school the days just fly by. Sniff. I have to watch carefully not to miss my daily exercise. It came with a bonus of fresh powder. The world was rather blue today when I ventured out.

Alone in the wilderness... Only a fresh set of animal tracks before me.

Breath taking berry decor under a cloudy cover. ooooh.

I love these bushes! These are the closest ones to the water hole that stays open all winter (because my trail is a swamp along the Outaouais River) where the wolves fish for food. A few weeks ago, we found a frozen chewed up fish lying beside the hole... That's when we realized what was what. It was a very big fish. Impressive catch! (As long as everybody is full of fish and not hungry for little woman on trail)

Since we polished off the last cake I baked (Lemon Banana). I decided to make my 'Surprise aux pommes' this afternoon. Last summer, a friend invited us to harvest apples from his tree in the yard. I froze many bags of apple slices from what we picked that day. This is the first recipe from them. Delicious!

Uncooked at this stage... Was excellent for dessert! I rather serve this than apple pie. It has oatmeal instead of shortening. Yum.
All this to say I have not really knit today but was busy with a whole lot of other stuff. Tonight is tv night and with that I will polish off my long as I have enough of that yarn! I may or may not have to venture out tomorrow depending on the answer.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

If it's the last thing I do...

The first half of the rib vest is off the needles. It really doesn't photograph well at all. It doesn't look anything like a 'rib warmer' so I will give you a peek at the pile of garter stitch instead. Sorry.

Here is the second half of the vest. Really overdue for the birthday. I am about to turn the first corner. All is well. I can't wait to be over and done with this knit. I have so much lined up! I need a part time job to afford the yarn I plan to consume this year.
Next up...
My sister-in-law brought me some feathery polyester yarn over the holidays. She would like a scarf made of this. She is unfortunately allergic to wool and even some acrylic makes her scratch. Poor dear. She can't knit either. She suffers from pain in her shoulders and bad posture that makes knitting impossible. I offered to knit the scarf for her. It should be a fast one. (Remebering that I said that about the rib warmer until I tried it).

I have been skiing my heart out these days. Weather is perfect. Yesterday, I found a new trail someone made with a skidoo. Having read so many Nancy Drew books as a kid I got plucky and followed it. All of a sudden I was in someone's back yard and heard 'WOUF!' Won't be doing THAT again.

I decided to name my trail 'Red Berry Trail'. It must have been a good year for berries last summer because there are still lots of them. Gorgeous. The only draw back is the odd ice patch where I nearly left my hips.