Monday, December 28, 2009

Where the Cats Go

I finished my first Felicity hat. And Helen, I'm definitely going to knit another soon, maybe one to match these mittens:

But back to the hat. Here are a couple of modelling shots.

The back is really the nicest part:

I tacked down the lining and pressed the edge. Next time, I'll try to make a sharper fold and I'll try it with few stitches, maybe 140. This one holds to the head OKAY. In fact, it's pretty good if you're afraid of mussing up your hair, but it could be a little tighter.

So, where do the cats go? To the Cat Maze, of course!

Most cats are happy enough to stay indoors in winter, snoozing in a warm spot. They might occasionally wander out onto a porch for a few minutes but they soon want to come back in. This is the third annual Cat Maze in my daughter's back yard. It starts out small, but if she keeps it up, the walls get really high. Her two cats actually use it to take walks. It's nice at night too:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I really like visiting Montreal. I end up walking a lot, which I enjoy, and there's a lot to look at. A few days ago, I took a trip to Chez Mouliné Yarns on Notre Dame West. It's a large store. They had a nice selection of yarns including a nice selection of Handmaiden and Malabrigo. There's a very good sale at the moment so I picked up a few skeins of the former and the latter and put them away in my suitcase.

In a walking city where the average low temperature in winter ranges from 10 to -15°C (6 - 13°F), you really need a good hat. I've been working on a modified version of the Felicity hat for my daughter. Here's the pdf link to the free pattern. I'm making it out of sock yarn.

I started by casting on 150 stitches. My gauge is about 7 stitches per inch on a 2.5 mm needle. I knit a tube 5.5 inches in length. This serves as the hat's lining, or hem to keep your ears warm under the hat itself.

Then I did a picot edge to make a nice fold and began knitting in a lace weight mohair along with the sock yarn. The mohair adds warmth and also depth to the fabric. Anyway, I pretty much followed the pattern for Felicity for the rest of the way, except that since I'm using sock yarn, I followed the numbers on Bluebutton's project page, which are adjusted for sock yarn. I added 3 red stripes which are a little sportier looking than I wanted, but again, the black mohair kind of tones them down. I've worked on it more since I took this picture. In fact, I'm working on the final decreases now, hoping I won't run out of the mohair.

As I said, I've been limiting myself to sock yarn because I'm pretty sure it's moth proof. I used up two different kinds of sock yarn for these mittens.

We had a very nice Christmas today, after all the miserable washing and cleaning of the past week. We didn't decorate until Christmas eve. We limited ourselves to making a wreath out of pine boughs and hanging it above a shelf on which we placed our gifts and a little creche made out of toys and bits.

PS. James - the Yorkshire puddings were spectacular and we ate 5 each!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where I am

I'm up in Montreal for a family emergency. I'm staying in a house with moths that are only kinda, sorta under control. Wah!

I thought it wise only to bring sock yarn to knit with. I'm finishing the toe on the first pair now - it will go as a thank you gift. It's fun to be back in Montreal though. I lived here for almost 20 years. If only I could get out of the house! Nevermind. Will do so soon! I hope to visit the sale at Chez Mouliné.

Best wishes and happy holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Seen This?

I'm just re-posting, not adding anything new, but isn't this exciting? What am I talking about?

The Twist Collective article on the re-discovered Elizabeth Zimmermann Green Sweater. The article is written by the person who discovered and reconstructed the cardigan. The interesting thing about this cardigan is that instead of having the decreases for the sleeve hidden underneath the arm, their right out on top. Looking at the pictures, you can recognize various EZ techniques, but the sleeve decreases are new. A gift from the past from a great knitter.

Once you've digested that, you can read more on Meg Swansen's (EZ's daughter's) newsletter no. 9. and order the pattern. On Ravelry, the discussion has begun on the Zimmermaniacs group. Of course, there's a knit-a-long too.

Gotta go read. Just discovered my nephew's blog...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm game!

You may remember, or not, that I have been experimenting with various new vehicles for reading. I feel it's my duty, somehow. I tried listening to people with the wrong accents read 19th English century literature aloud to me from Librivox. At a minimum, I need Alistair Cooke for that. I tried reading daily installments of The Pickwick Papers via email from DailyLit (I quit after 4 installments) and most recently I tried reading the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on a cast-off, first generation Kindle. I got through it, but wah! Thumbs down to all these.

Now, DailyLit Style is tempting me again with Shoes, Bags and Tiaras from V&A Publishing. Yes, I have signed up to read about fashion by email.

Immediately afterwards, librarian that I am, I googled around to find out more about the actual book that I thought these installments would be based on. Couldn't find it by title. Let's try by publisher: V&A publishers. There they are, but no Shoes, Bags and Tiaras. Only Tiaras Past and Present. It seems V&A Publishing is an imprint of Abrams. Hmmm. Time for that old librarian's standby, Books in print. Nope. nothing there either.

I'm betting that Shoes, Tiaras and Handbags is some kind of fresh hell that is being put out there with the hope that some of us will then cough up the cash for Tiaras Past and Present. Heck, I'm game for it. I may have a limited attention span when it comes to tiaras, but who knows, maybe one day DailyLit will offer installments of Addis, Sheep and Sharon Miller.

You can read a sort of review of DailyLit here on the Follow the Reader blog.

Now I'd like to offer a quick reply to Chris, who left a comment on one of the Pine Tree Palatine posts without an address to contact her. Chris asks whether I think there is a mistake in the pattern, near the beginning, before you get to the borders charts. Chris, it's been a while, but no, I can't say that I remember any mistakes in the pattern. I do think that if it looks ok to you the way you did it, then that's probably just fine. The whole thing is so big and detailed that most likely, no one will notice. If it's disturbing you, then frog it.

Now, talk about confusing. There is a potentially confusing thing about the borders, further on in the pattern which I only became aware of through talking to another knitter. She was trying to give me a heads up. On each the charts starting on page 36, there is a column of two stitches at the center of the page ("in the gutters" as it were) that are shaded more darkly that the rest of the chart. The rows on the charts on page 36 and 37, for example, continue from one page across to the next, and the darkly shaded stitches are at the center of the row and should only be knit once.

Rather confusing, no? I only avoided this pitfall through faulty photocopying. I photocopied the charts for convenience and when I did it I cut off the column of shaded stitches on one of the pages and so it never occurred to me to wonder about it. You can tell what kind of knitter I am!

Harpa, Helen and Shandy - thank you for your kind remarks. I have not had the second Aestlight off since I unpinned it on Sunday and I am still wearing my Icelandic!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brown, Brown and Brown

Here in Western New York, the Fall season has been very colourful. The reds and yellows have been brilliant.

There has been lots of sun and warmth too. I was down in and around Naples, New York today and the temperature reached nearly 18 C/ 68 F. There was hardly a breath of wind on Lake Canandaigua this morning.

Despite all this loveliness and light, I find myself working on three brown projects.

First, and I just finished this one yesterday, is an Aestlight. I loved the first one I knit two weeks ago so much that I had to knit another. The yarn is Malabrigo Sock in a very chocolatey shade. These photos show the final edging being attached. I think I'll be wearing this a lot.

My second brown project is the Woolie Jacket that had my elbows aching on the plane ride from England. Here's the pattern picture. I'm a bit nervous about that pouffy part that you see sticking out from behind her elbow.

The biggest piece of knitting in this pattern is the back. You knit an extra 7 inches or so in the width to create a pleat. The fabric is very thick. Hmmmm. I feel that knitting this is a bit of an act of faith, however, it goes quickly because the yarn is so thick: 3.5 stitches per inch. Worst comes to worst, I'll just have to redo the back without the pleat. It's sale yarn from the Wool Shop in Alnwick. Here's how my knitted fabric looks:

Lastly, I am knitting a cosy vest for Auntie Margaret. I don't have a pattern. I started out trying to knit something similar to a garment we saw in a department store. It is getting farther and farther away from the original. I'm knitting with Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK undyed on 3.5 mm/5 US needles. The yarn is very soft and smells faintly like a sheep barn. I love it.

The vest will be divided into two sections. The bottom half is fairly plain: a combination of stocking stitch and a stitch from Barbara Walker called Shadow Rib. It's from her Second Treasury and appears among the first few stitches. The vertical pattern doesn't pull in the way a regular ribbing does. I'm hoping that it will add interest without drawing the eye too much. There will be more interest in the top half of the vest where I am planning to place some staggered cables.

PS. I am still living in my green Icelandic sweater. I wear it to work, to garden, for a walk. It feels great.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I recently finished knitting Shetland Trader's Aestlight . I stranded a very fine pale grey merino with a green mohair. The result is very warm, definitely set to embellish a winter coat, maybe one of those "not quite warm enough" coats.

I took it outside for a few nature shots.

Posting about this makes me want to immediately knit another one in a more "indoor" kind of yarn, something soft and smooth. Hmmmm...

Meanwhile, I have started a few other warm projects, including a long cosy vest for my aunt. I'm starting at the bottom, making it up as I go along and I've already had to rip out and go back to the drawing board once. I tried to combine 2 stitches side by side but the row gauge didn't match up. It gave me another idea. I'm off to knit now...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh Gord, where to begin...

A lot has happened in the past month. Just in time for what seems to have become an annual vacation in the Northumberland countryside, I finished a cardigan out of Lett Lopi (aka Lopi Lite), a good, warm yarn that I bought on my Spring trip to Iceland. I'm working up to knitting one out of the less commercial, less processed Plötulopi from Þingborg. Anyway, the pattern for this yoke cardi, which I can honestly say that I have worn every day for the last 2 weeks without fail, is based on the Elizabeth Zimmerman percentage method, in which everything develops from one initial measurement. I knit and re-knit the collar a couple of times. I like its hugeness. It feels like two big rhubarb leaves hanging around my neck. The colours are a little uninspiring and the pale blue does in the Hawser motif kind make me feel that I'm wrapped in hyphens. Never mind. This cardigan has been doing what it was meant to - keep me warm on walks high and low.

Walks high and low there were - on the beach, over the tops and through the woods. With a Jack Russell, you're not going to get away with an hour and a leash.

Fudge is an old lady of 7, but she still loves the terrier races at Alwinton. She didn't win anything this year, but she tried hard. These are fun races with cute family dogs. There's a lot of laughter and good spirits.

As I was saying, walks hight and low...

We saw plenty of these beauties...

Once, we even interrupted our walk to drop down into Rothbury to go to the shops...

Washed my job right out of me, let me tell you.

One day, we took the train to Edinburgh where we passed a very agreeable afternoon with Chronic Knitting Syndrome Helen. We spent most of the time chatting, the hours flew by, but we did manage a visit to K1 Knitting, which carries locally produced yarns for the most part. I picked up 3 skeins of their laceweight linen and some souvenir sock yarn.

I also paid a visit to the Wool Shop in Alnwick where I bought some Wendy Origin boucle, chunky. I think this must be a discontinued yarn. It was nice and cheap. I started a jacket out of it on the plane home and it's making my elbows hurt. I don't usually knit with yarn this heavy and I must remember not to throw myself into the knitting the same way I would with laceweight. On he other hand, maybe it was caused by being wedged into an economy seat on the plane.

More soon about the Aestlight shawl that I am working on now and my two La-la's.

Monday, September 21, 2009

thnx, or smth

The red sweater has been pronounced lovely in several venues now and has been claimed by my younger sister Frances for her Xmas present. I've gotten over it not suiting me.

As you get older, it seems that what suited you in the past, no longer suits you and you've got to get used to a new set of colours. This is particularly upsetting for us hard headed types. While at the Finger Lakes Fibre Fest this weekend, I could be seen repeatedly holding skeins up to my face and asking nearby browsers for their opinion. In this way, I learned that others think that teal looks good on me now and coral does not. D-mn. Nor does the purpley blue of the Pine Tree Palatine, alas. Western New Yorkers take note: Jeannine Sims is taking names to knit with Galina Khmeleva here in Rochester on April 18th, 2009. You can contact her through the Rochester Knitting Guild. I must finish with the Pine Tree by then if I'm to hold my head up in April.

So, I've been consoling my self for the past week or so with a Seamless Yoke Sweater knit according to the Elizabeth Zimmerman percentage method. Everything starts with one measurement. All other calculations are based (more or less) on a percentage of the circumference you want the garment to be around the chest. You do a gauge swatch and multiply the number of stitches per inch by the desired finished circumference. Then you cast on. You can add shaping or not. You can make it any length you want. No setting in sleeves. Did I say it fits perfectly? Best of all, it's all done in one piece with no seams. The method is well described in EZ's books, Knitting Around and her Knitting Workshop as well as in Wendy Bernard's recent Custom Knits which I have out from the Guild library. The design tips are in the last 16 pages or so of Bernard's book.

I put EZ's Hawser motif around the hem, cuffs and yoke. I used Lett Lopi (Lopi Lite) yarn. I'm currently gathering the energy to baste and cut the steek, like I did on my other Lopi. I have no idea whether this colour suits me wither. The pictures that I've taken so far do not reflect the real background colour. It looks like a boring forest green when it's really a dark sea green blue colour; Maybe. Anyway. Sorry there are no photos. I'm flaked out at the moment, but will post some with time.

I do have photos of another recently finished project however - my second Weldon's Double Bordered Diamond Scarf. This one is dark navy. It was supposed to be black, but I compromised. Same yarn - Karabella Lace Merino. There must be a devil at Karabella, I think. Someone with pent up anger who wants to put a spoke in the works. You have to be very careful if you want to get the right shade. Not only is the navy very dark, almost black, but the numbers for each shade are very close - navy is no. 3612 and black is no. 3617. Not very nice. Just saying.

Another gift, it looks good on this chair, I think:

Nice and floaty, it's fairly broad and comes down to waist level. Perfect with a white blouse.

I'm also halfway through a brown sock and La-La's Simple Shawl. This pattern is just right for the brain dead, for those watching TV, or for those in need a pattern for a quick gift. This CoolFlick site, or QFlick (things change so quickly now) takes people's Flickr shots and presents them in a way that on the one hand can make you feel very dizzy, and on the other hand makes these very simple shawls look stunning. Mine's not finished or photographed yet.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bit Red

It all started with a glimpse of a coral coloured swing jacket hanging in the LYS. I fell in love with the colour. I'd been wanting to knit a swing jacket for some time. I had to knit it. Knit what? Noro Design 15 by Jenny Watson.

I'm not one of these brave bloggers who is able to post about their sweater knitting every step of the way. I don't have good luck with sweaters. This morning, my sister even suggested that I should stick to lace shawls, and perhaps the odd shardigan. Shardigan? Google it. 'Nuff said.

I finished knitting this last week. I almost didn't blog about it at all, but I've decided it's not a total loss. It does fit and feels good. The worst thing is that the colour doesn't suit me. Not at all.

I made a lot of mods to the pattern.
  • First off, I made it longer than called for. I saw someone wearing it and decided it was just too short.
  • I used a solid yarn rather than the variegated Noro called for by the pattern. I decided alternate two colours of Cascade 220 Heathers.
  • Rather than knit all the way to the edges n the same colour, I used the basic intarsia technique to keep the lighter red in enclosed blocks. Why I though it would look like coral, I'll never know.
  • I retained the basic bell shape of the sleeve, but I made it much narrower than the pattern called for (about 12 stitches narrower to begin with)
  • I added a good six rows of short row shaping near the beginning of the ribbed collar.
Things I like:
  • Style and fit.
  • Good basic pattern with a few mods.
What I wish I changed:
  • the colour!
  • the yarn. Good for hats and mitts but not quite good enough for bigger pieces of clothing. Don't settle for the cheap yarn. Go for the Noro, or whatever. Save up.
  • If I had it to do over, I would have tried to hide the decreases in the jacket body. You can probably see them in the pale area of the center fronts and back. Do you think I should embroider tiny red flowers over them, cover the ugly decreases with tiny buttons, or just ignore them?

Here are some shots, starting with a close-up of the decreases on the sleeve.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mystery Solved

Thank you Practical Katie for the vintage mags! Imagine going into a thrift store and finding those!

Now I hear that my Dad is driving around Ottawa with a trunkful of his wife's old knitting magazines for me. Don't throw them out, Dad! Ask Frances to hold on to them for me, please.

Mary Lou, I have to confess that I had to look Adam Ant up on wikipedia. For some reason my mind draws a big blank on the late seventies and early eighties, just when I should have been most attuned to popular culture.

My recollection of girdles is limited to a vague memory of envying our friend Charlotte who had one in the early sixties. We used to get dresses handed down from her and I was always hoping we'd get the girdle. What can I say, I was only about 6.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I opened the mail today and found these four beauties in a plain brown envelope, sender anonymous:

What fun! Sunglasses and slouching seem to go hand in hand:

They were pushing plaid on the knitting public as long as 51 years ago:

It's amazing how thin people were and how they constricted their figures:

And not just women. This pullover looks very stiff:

I've nothing of my own knitting to show right now. I'm halfway through my second Double Diamond Border Scarf (Victorian Knitting Today). I keeping wondering why I'm not experimenting with the technique in a different border pattern. It's a gift and it was supposed to be knit in black yarn. On closer inspection, six inches into the pattern, the yarn revealed itself to be a very dark navy. That's fine. This way I'll avoid Mary Lou's curse of the black shawl

I'm also nearing the end of a swing jacket which just may be my biggest mistake in years. I'll let you know how it turns out. Not much hope. Picture two shades of red and a lot of horizontal stripes.

Also, there are socks to be knitted. Anyhow, I'm at the point where I'm kicking myself for not having recognized various warning signs in connection with the swing jacket and wondering why I'm not finishing up the Pine Tree Palatine or working with the wool I bought in Iceland. Such is life.

Oh, and many thanks to anonymous for cheering me up with these magazines!