Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year! It's 42 F / 6 C here today! 

 We've been having beautiful weather. The grass is still green and there has been hardly any snow. You know, I've always been a lover of winter but I think I could get used to this!.

Locals will have noticed that the squirrels are in fine fettle. They still have easy access to their hoards.

The white globes in the following photos are my neighbour's garden lights. They are powered by the sun and hang around a cute little patio that they made for themselves in the bottom of the garden. They have one of those metal fire pots on it (you can just see it in the second photo). In the summer they put chairs around it. You could almost use it now, it's so warm.

I would have written sooner, but I got bogged down with various things: getting ready for kitchen and basement renovations, holiday visit from my daughter, plus I messed up both my ankles back in October and the achilles tendons do not seem to be getting much better. 

Whenever I give someone a piece of knitting, I assure them that they can bring it back to me at any time for mending, blocking or even washing. The only person who ever takes me up on this offer is my daughter. This year, I had several items to mend. This dickey did battle with moths during the warm months which is sad because it's a favorite of the wearer. First, I darned the holes with pale green yarn to stabilize it... 

Then Nadia hid the darning by embroidering over top...

For those who care, the pattern is my own variation on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Dickey von Beethoven. I just added the front opening, the edging and fancied up the collar by using contrasting yarn. Here's another, more recent example:

Cheers and best wishes for 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not all is grey

Our long greyness has begun. We only see the sun for a few minutes in the morning before it disappears behind the cloud. As the sun came up the other day I was thinking about a mitten I would call "Rochester Sunrise." It would be all grey and soft like a cloud, except for the wrist which would be shades of yellow crescents soon to disappear inside the cuffs of the wearer's jacket.

Here is what we saw on our drive to Ottawa over the weekend. I love the part of New York state north of Syracuse, along Black Lake. It's depressed but moody and beautiful.

This is a picture of the only piece of knitting I have finished in the past month, apart from a little scarf. These are my sister's xmas socks but I gave them to her early. The yarn is Nashua Handknits Best Foot Forward.

And here's what I'm excited about now. This is a swatch in the Fleurette Stitch from Walker's 4th Treasury. Some of you may remember that I made a little cardigan with this as an all-over stitch a few years ago. While in the Ottawa area this weekend, I dropped in on Kathryn Dryden's studio in Wakefield (above the Tulipe Noire). Kat has been hand dying Amtex yarn for a while now and I can't say enough about her colours, not to mention the beautiful quality of the yarn itself. Kat is also a painter so of course she has great colour sense.

Luckily she was in and I we were able to have a chat. I purchased three skeins of this gorgeous fingering weight merino. Think Tosh Merino Light in Koigu colours. The colour changes are fairly short, which is good because you don't get enormous pools of a single colour. It's hard to get a good picture because of the subtle colour changes of this yarn. This photo is a bit too orangey, but you get the idea.

So, my idea is to knit a top down raglan with a solid yoke and a Fleurette bottom. We'll see if I do it. I'm moving slowly these days. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I am in awe of my yarn even though it's really not that great. I recently received and put together 3 IKEA  cabinets to hold it all. They are very tall and full of yarn and knitting books. They have glass doors on top and a series of drawers below, made from soft Spruce wood stained a pale gray brown. Two of the big drawers have fabric in them. The rest holds about 80% of my stash. It's all organized. It's all beautiful: lace weight here, sock yarn there. I can stand and gaze at it or just paw through it. 

Terrible, just terrible. When it was stashed away in places where it probably shouldn't have been, I had to use my imagination. I would stealthily get it out and peer at it under poor lighting conditions. Maybe I would put it away again or maybe I'd get to work with it and make something wonderful. I would lie in bed at night and make plans. Now it looks at me face on. Pick me! Pick me! I retreat in horror to knit on a sock. I am unaccustomed to this openness. I'll get over it. Just give me a few days.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Sitting on a rocking chair in the Philadelphia airport, I'm knitting a pair of socks and observing the passing feet...I see a preponderance of what we used to call running shoes...slip ons for middle aged women, ballet flats and Uggs for the younger ones. A certain number of short leather boots are worn by women too, a few wear mid calf level boots. A little kid just called out "hello..." An older man shuffles by in carpet slippers.

Black leather shoes seem mostly to be worn by people who are working, but hey, that's what I'm wearing, too on my way home from a conference....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Bit of Frost

Sunday morning. Up here by Lake Ontario it is balmy 40 F (4 C) this sunny Sunday morning. The 50 year snow storm which hit the Atlantic coast missed us entirely. We had only a little frost on the ground and plants these past few mornings.  

I have admitted Vitamin D into my wardrobe even though I think I'd look better in it if I lost 5 or 10 pounds. I got compliments on it at knit night on Thursday and at work on Friday. I will not post the side view. In any case, it's tremendously comfortable, soft and light feeling. You could easily amend the pattern to leave out the short rows and just knit it as a normal top down cardigan to whatever length you like. Note to self: keep on trying to buy trousers that fit properly. 

Thanks for the comments on pattern choice. I am leaning toward modifying Celtic Dreams and knitting as a cardigan. It would be easy to do by leaving out the centre cable, lovely as it is, and maybe adding a couple more narrow cables on either side of a steek. Tweedy Aran is lovely, but the collar could be itchy and it has that dangerous horizontal line in the mid section, as Joan points out. 

A few posts ago, Helen asked about the cardigan pattern that I have had success with.  It is called Delicate Details was published in 1991 in Paton's Cardigans Booklet no. 654. It's a fairly standard cardigan pattern featuring a faroese type lace yoke. I think that the reason that it works for me is that it draws attention to the bust and shoulders and away from the midsection. 

My best advice is to spend time in a store that has a lot of knits, or possibly before your own closet, trying on different styles until you find one that suits you. Figure out why it suits you and then look for patterns like it. It is important that you be accompanied by an honest, yet supportive critic as the process can be discouraging and exhausting. 

Here is the cover of the Paton's booklet with an image of the pattern in question. Ignore all styling, colour, youth of the model and so on. The yoke pattern is the thing here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Vitamin D is more or less dry. I tried it on. It fits but I don't think it's very flattering, but I'll give it a chance. I'm letting it hang on a hanger over night and I'll try it on again tomorrow over all black. I may have to find a new owner for it.

Here's what I'm thinking of embarking on next, sweater-wise. Please do tell me if you think I'm on thin ice. The Longmeadow Farm yarn is aran weight and is enough to knit Beth Brown Reinsel's Celtic Dreams, which I think is beautiful. I'd want to make it into a cardigan though. OR, should I knit Nora Gaughan's Tweedy Aran, which has been on my radar for much longer? 

The Celtic Dreams pattern sits before me, crisp and ready, while the Tweedy Aran lurks somewhere in a pile...

I think I need to take a break and knit a shawlette!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Here she is drying. I feel hopeful, but still a bit nervous.  I'll just go straighten out that curve on the right front edging...and the one on the left hand side seam....


Vitamin D is now soaking. I just had it on. It could go either way. Very comfy though.

I did the garter stitch rows to finish, not the i-cord as Aniko did. Then the instructions said to cast off loosely so I did that. Maybe too loosely. Before blocking, it was longer than I expected plus the bottom edges were all curled up and splayed.  I tightened up when I cast off the fronts and neck and that part is fine. I can always re-do the bottom cast off, but I'll take the iron to it first if need be. Wah!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumn Whine

I just finished my March socks and I'm part way through my April socks. It's all very dull. I completely blew off the "knit a pair of socks per month" thing that I was enthusiastic about earlier in the year. After these are finished, I will still knit socks, ordinary, occasional, and only because I like to wear them.

My red Vitamin D cardigan is almost finished too. I've started on the last 24 rows. Each row has 330 stitches of stocking stitch. Yawn. After that, there will be a lot of i-cord. I believe that it fits and am crossing my fingers that it will suit me and that I won't have to give it away. It's knit from the top down so I've been able to try it on. I am not, however, been able to tell whether the fronts will drape attractively. 

I'm not good at sweaters. Sometimes I select a pattern or a colour that doesn't suit me. Sometimes I make the wrong size, or I think that I can knit without a pattern. I have given away a cardigan and seen it unravelled and returned to me in the form of balls of wool. I said "oh no you must keep the wool," and saw again it later, knit into yet another cardigan. I think that my daughter has it now. I have had an enormous sweater mailed back to me after 4 years of lying in a drawer unworn. I did my first steek on it and made it into a coat. When asked, I claim that it has dolman sleeves. Another cardigan I made was only ever worn under a coat as a layer of insulation. Those are the ones that I know about. Poor things.

Of course, I have had a few successes. I have a black wool sweater that I knit for myself with yarn that I bought from the back of a truck in the market in Sienna, Italy. I knit the same pattern with Icelandic yarn for my sister and a third, pullover version for myself. We wear those and get compliments. I think I will knit it again. I have some lovely grey yarn from Longmeadow Farm in Freedom, New York. 

So, what have I been doing for fun? I've been playing with three skeins of lace weight that I bought from Jill Draper at Hemlock. The swatch below is made with 4 patterns from Heirloom Knitting. I knit the dark green edging and insertion first and then picked up with the pale green and gold. After blocking and admiring, I pulled back to the dark green and have kept going with that. I'll make that as long as I can with the one skein. After that, I envisage picking up all along the edge with the pale green and knitting the diamonds in a kind of reverse Faroese way until I run out of that and I'll switch to gold leaf lace. This could take some time. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's a mystery to me...

Thanks for your compliments on my orange yarn combination. Helen commented: "Gorgeous. I think that's the loveliest thing you've knitted out, of a lot of lovely things. I would admire your patience but I expect it's something darker than that. Obssession?!"

Obsession indeed. There is definitely an element of obsession in how I operate. Fortunately, my life is currently such that it can accommodate endless knitting outside my day job. From the time we were small, my sisters and I were always making things or reading books. Tracing each other's outline on huge rolls of paper, making little worlds in the roots of trees with flotsam and jetsam, cutting out images from magazines, pasting and colouring, making puppets, houses for dolls, sewing and fiddling with yarn. I fought my way onto the sewing machine when I was 8 but only using the treadle. There wasn't much knitting until later but there was yarn. My mother wove and did rug hooking in addition to sewing. Alternately, we were glued to books. I don't remember being heavily scheduled or receiving much direction when I was young. Meals, school and bedtime were definite interruptions. Now it's meals, work and bedtime that are the interruptions. Oh and cleaning the house, but we won't talk about that. 

My earliest memory of knitting involves my mother, her sister, my grandmother and my older sister. At least one of them must have had knitting in hand. My aunt, who was probably in her mid 20's said something like, "And why aren't those girls knitting?" We were probably hanging around to catch the adult conversation. We would have been quite small, perhaps 5 and 7. Anyway, someone gave me some pink yarn and some needles and I did it for a while and then just began to pretend to knit after I forgot what they showed. Then they took it away and that was it for several years until someone else showed me and I made a few doll blankets. Serious knitting came when I was a teen ager and my boyfriend's mother taught me how to follow a pattern and make a pullover for her son. Then I kept at it off and on until I was in my forties and quit smoking. My friend Shirley showed me how to knit socks and it was game over. Now it's an obsession. Thanks Shirley! 

So I've finished 2 more shawls since the orange one. Purple Island in the Sea, a lace square on the smallish side, it wears well folded corner to corner. It is made from Malabrigo Sock - The Queen’s Lace with Bead Stitch Insert from Heirloom Knitting around a garter stitch diamond centre. Here:

Also, another mohair laceweight mohair combination, this time a bright sea green mohair with alpaca in a milky shade of robin's egg blue. Ah, the depth! The pattern is Stahman's GS Catharina Here's how it looked in the bath but the dye ran and the colours blended somewhat. I saw one of these felted at the Fiber Fest at Hemlock Looked great.

Now I'm messing with Jill Draper's laceweight, Aurora which I bought at Hemlock. I'll let you know how it works out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And what have we here?

I went to work early this morning because it was freshman move-in day, and we had to park father away than usual. Turned out that I had some extra time so I walked around campus looking for statuary to use in my modelling shots of the Wild Orange.

I think this guy needs someone to manage his image.

Here's a closer shot:

It was really hard finding a cooperative statue...

So I gave up and hung it on a tree. Meh. I only had 15 minutes, after all.

It turned out that an ordinary office table was just what was wanted.

Now it's back to the Purple Island. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Everything's coming up orange

It's drying. I can hardly wait to unpin it and take it out in the light of day.

The pattern requires knitting two Crest of the Wave borders and a smaller lace centre. For the borders, I just knit the yarn as it came, but for the centre I tried to control the colours, clipping out the orange and knitting blues, turquoise and purple only. Orange lace mohair throughout. Better pictures soon.

Oh yeah, these are actually cucumbers and they taste good too. Not sure about why they are orangey yellow. Could it be because they were planted between tomatoes and strawberries?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Purple, blue and orange

I've managed to maintain slow but steady progress on the 20 row repeats of the Queen's Lace edging around the Purple Island despite a major distraction. It just happened, I tell you.

I'd been walking past the same pile wild orange coloured balls of Karabella Lace Merino in the LYS for months. Last week it came to me that this yarn would perfectly complement and in fact give a boost to the 5 skeins of Jojoland Melody that I have been stashing for a few years. Now Jojoland Melody is a fine yarn, somewhere between sock weight and lace weight. it has nice slow and subtle colour changes. People on Ravelry have made lovely things with it. But I adore combining mohair with other yarns. It adds such depth. I've done it before with mohair and alpaca in the same pattern, Cheryle Oberle's North Sea Shawl from her book Folk Knits. It's a fun and easy knit. For most of it there is just one lace row so you can knit it without looking at the pattern too often. Gotta go!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Purple Island

I started a purple garter diamond because I needed some mindless knitting for the car. I selected the yarn (Malabrigo Sock) just because I like the feel. I figured I'd knit the diamond centre and choose a border and edging later. It has 162 stitches at its widest. I finished this centre just after completing Rock Island Canopy, when I still had the itch to continue with Shetland Bead stitch. So that's what I went on with. In a way, it's an extension of the last several projects.

If you embiggen, you can see the Shetland Bead stitch right next to the purple, though you can hardly tell that's what it is. I used the same needle size throughout. I persevered through 20 repeats. I did wonder, while knitting the border whether or not I should change to a larger needle. It felt a bit tight while I was doing it but I just kept going. Blocking should fix it.

The edging, similarly unrecognizable at present, is Queen's Lace Edging (Heirloom Knitting page 129) with Small Bead Insertion (page 128). I don't know why I'm even explaining all this when it's impossible to make it out in the picture.

My guess is that apart from the colour choice it will look very traditional. I ran out of the purple even before finishing the centre and switched to blue because it was at hand. I have no inkling about the final size or whether my proportions are reasonable. I am enjoying it, however it all feels a bit irresponsible.

Our heat wave/drought ended yesterday evening. Up until then we had less than half an inch of rain in all of July. I did minimal watering, focussing on the vegetable plot and phlox bed. Nevertheless some things continued to bloom...especially weeds.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Been and gone

We have been and gone to Wakefield for our summer week off. It was quite hot and we swam every day often more than once, and as it turned out, right alongside a beaver. Once Nadia saw him pass by as she floated in the water, we switched to swimming at my sister's dock on the other side of the river. It was near the end of the week anyway.

The latest pink shawl has been sent off to an elderly and housebound friend who has a hard time dressing stylishly and loves something pretty to throw over her shoulders.

I also finished off this La-La made by holding the Noro lace yarn along with a strand of grey Karabella lace weight Mohair. Someone commented that he wood really brings out the grey in the scarf in this picture. That made me laugh.

While in Wakefield, I made my annual appearance at my friends' knit night. It was held at potter Maureen's with my sister Tina, friends Julie and Kathryn, and a couple of others in attendance. I don't remember their names but they had done interesting things locally like bringing back midwifery in the 1970's. Kathryn has been hand dying Amtex yarn - superb yarn, superb colours. She has a small studio in Wakefield and has done some kits with patterns by Julie. Hope to see more from them. Wish I had a link to share.

It was a fun but exhausting week. We had to cart in our drinking water. Good thing there were 2 sisters and a daughter to spread the load.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pink Update III: among the tomatoes

To re-cap - I started at the top with 11 repeats of leaf lace motif from Forest Canopy. On the last row, I increased one stitch for every yarn over in order to transition to several rows of garter stitch, maintaining the openness of the leaf lace. Then I knit the bead lace chart from Heirloom Knitting, a few more garter rows. I finished up with the Wave lace chart (also from Heirloom Knitting). It's sort of a Rock Island knit backwards with leaf lace instead of garter for the centre.

Purists will insist that my edging is backwards but frankly, it's not a problem for me.

Here is our local feral cat, Cleo. She's fixed and has had her shots, thanks to our neighbours. Here she is lying on the cat pedestal, under the birch.