Friday, December 30, 2011

Did you have yourself a merry little Christmas?

I had a very nice Christmas this year, thanks for asking.  It was relatively calm and relaxed and all of a sudden it was over.  We didn't get snow until I was back home which was fine.  The driving was good and then I had a great excuse to cocoon myself in my house, which is my favorite thing to do.

I asked for and got some cool kitchen knives.  The big one is specifically for vegetable chopping and whoo-wee does it do its job!  Those veggies chop like they are buttah...
And I got some yarn, Berroco Peruvia 7220, Raku Glaze. Soft and pretty. And a cool fabric bag to boot. 

And I did some knitting over the holidays.  Mostly hats, because I can drink wine while I knit them.  And because I can't seem to sit down for any length of time when there is a house full of people and holiday things to do and holiday meals to make.
Anyway, this camera is not a Christmas gift.  I have appropriated it from my son who rarely uses it.  My blog pictures suck and I would really like to do better.  Call this a new year's resolution if you will.  There could be some funky photos coming as I experiment - be warned.
I am off to do some post-Christmas shopping now.  My lys is having a 25% off everything sale and I am obliged to find some yarn to match the Raku Glaze, possibly to make a blanket. And I may do some stocking up on 220.  It is going to be a long winter and if I do find myself unemployed in February then I am going to need a stash.

I may make a little Resolutions list.  I haven't decided yet.  Maybe the blog will keep me accountable. Maybe.

P.S. My brother loved his hat.  In fact, all the hats I knitted for Christmas got adopted and were appreicated which made me happy.  In fact, my brother wants another.  A funky earflap design this time.  So you see, I have to go yarn shopping today.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

One day to go and then I am off to the cottage to spend Christmas with my family.  And we are all very merry indeed. The knitting is packed.  The wine is packed.  The gifts are packed. The sons are packed. And that pretty much covers my needs for the next week.

I finished my assortment of gift hats.  Very basic but I'm pleased.  Totally suitable for the gentlemen in my family I think. 

Have a Very Merry Christmas.  And a little Peace for us all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas knitting

I know it's only a hat but this took some thought!  My brother asked for a knitted hat for Christmas which is great and a compliment.  He explained that the hats he bought were always too small, which is no surprise as I have the same problem and so do my sons.  But he was unable to give me a measurement. And that was a problem.  So I extrapolated.  Ben and I have 24" heads.  So Brad's must be bigger.  He's a big guy.  I did a considerable amount of Ravelry research to determine gauge, number of cast on stitches and a pattern that would give the hat enough ease to compensate for my lack of information.

Anyway, long story short...

Not yet blocked, that is coming this weekend. Your basic ribbed toque in Rowan Tweed  Chunky in Mocha.  Very thick, very warm, very Canadian.  If it fits I think he'll like it.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silly little washcloths

I have a friend who knits washcloths almost exclusively.  They meet her knitting needs.  Quick and easy and perfect for knitting in front of the television.  They are useful.  She gives them as gifts.  And generally she knits the same washcloth over and over and over.

For me that is shoot me in the head tedious.  If knitting the same washcloth  time and time again was the only knitting I could do then I simpy wouldn't bother.

However, that is not to say that I don't knit the occasional washcloth. I consider them rather like knitting a swatch. In fact I will often test a stitch on a washcloth. I knitted these two over the weekend.

I like my hand knitted washcloths small.  They seem to grow when they get wet and if they are too large they don't dry properly. And we are all familiar with the lovely scent of that. 

Cali keeps me company when I knit.  She is ambiguous about washcloth knitting too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

it was a cold and rainy Sunday...

...and I am tremendously unmotivated.  I blew off my workout.  Blew off grocery shopping.  Blew off house cleaning.  Would you like to see what I've decided to do with my day?

That is a glass of wine (more on that in a minute), some assorted nuts (yummy, calories be damned), my television remotes (I'm watching Burlesque, for the tenth time because it is great in its badness with some terrific music and Cher!) and some cotton yarn to knit some washclothes.  Kitchen cloths don't last long around here.  They get burnt and stained and washed so often they fall apart quickly.

 Last evening I had a house guest - the six year old daughter of a friend.  Said friend found herself in a tight spot and I agreed to babysit for the evening.  It has been many years since I've had the pleasure of the company of a child for an evening.  Here is a picture of my younger son who has obviously decided to have the same pyjama day as his mom.

So, yeah, its been quite a while since he was six. 

 So, she and I decorated the Christmas tree. And that worked out quite well, because I had forgotten how much energy six year olds have and how demanding of your attention they are.  The tree provided the both of us with a couple of hours of great fun.

A closer look and it you would see that it looks as though a six year old decorated it. Every decoration we owned was put on that tree including some decorations that more rightfully belonged on a centrepiece or hanging from a doorknob or draped on a bannister. And I love it.  I won't change a thing.

We also decorated this.  The boys and I don't have a mantel so the stockings are hung from the antique fridge. Which in these more modern times serves as a .....

Liquor cabinet.  I'm not much of a drinker truth be told.  But I do enjoy a glass of red wine.  And this is our family favorite...

I highly recommend it.  My parents have traveled the world, experienced some of the best wines ever made and they have decided on this one as their inexpensive "house" wine.  I bow to their expertise and have to say, it is fabulous.

And that is the way I am spending my cold and rainy Sunday.  To Hell with the insane boss, bills that need to be paid, Christmas shopping that needs to get done and the dozen other worries that plague me.  Today I'm going to drink wine, eat whatever I fancy, knit some dead simple washclothes, enjoy the guilty pleasure of bad movies, admire my Christmas decor and truly take the day off.   

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Cute. And true.  (I'm trying to figure out the whole imbed thing, or at least give credit where credit is due. This is from Pinterest. Good God this blogging thing gets technical.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


So I had this plan.  The book is Nicky Epstein's Knitting Block by Block

The pattern is Winter Solstice hooded scarf.

Pretty isn't it. 

The plan involved my much loved Fisherman's Wool.  I had a problem with the visible stranding on the backside of the scarf.  I hate that.  So I considered sewing on a fabric backing but that seemed like too much trouble.  Then I considered double knitting which of course doubles the number of stitches, but more importantly includes lots of purling. So that lost out to knitting a magic loop tube. All knitting, all the time.  So, see there, I had a plan. 

And I got started and I have to say it was looking good and feeling soft and warm. But I stalled. Surprisingly quickly.  You know, when the knitting is sitting there but you find yourself avoiding it? I couldn't figure it out at first. But in the end I think it is the sheer amount of work ahead of me - essentially twice the amount of work it would normally be if I didn't have a hang up over the visible standing.  Which, by the way, I'm not going to get over.

So I find myself at a crossroads.  Possibility number one: put it aside and wait for inspiration to continue.  Possibility number two: frog it.  Maybe rather than stranding I work a cable pattern on the blocks.  Each block a different shade of the Fisherman's Wool.  No ugly backside that way and only eight or ten blocks instead of sixteen or twenty.

I think I've answered my own question.  


Monday, November 28, 2011

Some projects wait patiently

This lovely combo of book and yarn has been biding its time in my stash.  I adored the cover projects so I bought the book.  This is very against type for me as I rarely buy knitting books which are both expensive and space consuming.  I didn't believe it could happen to a book lover like myself but I am a total convert to e books.  Some day, when I can afford a large format colour tablet I will move all my reference books, recipes and knitting and such over to electronic format.  SO much more convenient. 

Anyway, the book is Fair Isle Basics and Beyond and the yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK, the yarn and specific colours used in the cover project. 
I have fallen in love with the cover project, the Eileann Scarflette and Fingerless Mitts.  There is something about the colors - colourful but not bright or garish.  The yarn is actually much softer both in texture and shade than the book photos would suggest. I picked up a few extra skeins not called for in the pattern in the event I am moved to improvise.  The scarflette might bear lengthening and maybe widening. We shall see.

Oh, and the yarn...well it was fifty percent (yes 50%) off.  Anything I can do to support my lys.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern
I am of an age when I can remember pre-internet, when the world was a much bigger place and people and events of distant lands were very far away.  I remember when I realized how much this had changed when my sons began to play online computer games and I would hear them, on their enormous headsets, speaking routinely with other kids all over the world.  And the conversations were not only game talk but the casual flow of weather, school and world events chat.

This smaller world has become more obvious to me in my daily surfing of my favorite knitting blogs.  Defined not by geographical location but by writing skills and general interest these blogs are truly international in scope with some of them being posted in their native language with English translations.  This week the predominate theme has been thankfulness, due to American Thanksgiving.

I believe that because these blogs are primarily written by women, and that women tend to take such themes to heart, that thankfulness resonates whatever country we find ourselves in.

I was given notice of my dismissal from my job last week, for which I am very thankful.  I have a boss who is widely considered to be mentally unstable and whose pettiness and vindictiveness is legend.  While being unemployed in this time of economic crisis is frightening, I know that there are far better times ahead.  Being out from beneath that cloud of terrible darkness and negativity brought me such joy that I danced in the parking lot the day of my firing. 

I am also thankful for the unconditional support of my sons and my parents.  Again, the web has allowed me into other women's lives and made me so aware of how incredibly lucky I am to have what I have when so many others don't.  

I am thankful. Thankful for all the good in my life and thankful for this technology for reminding me to pay attention to it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dirty little secrets

One of the things I admire about professional knitting bloggers is their ability to score top shelf yarn.  Can you imagine the yarn the Yarn Harlot must receive, gratis?  I love her blog, applaud that she is Canadian, and hold no ill will against her, but damn, the yarn she uses...well, thats just a dream come true isn't it?  Good yarn is expensive.  Gorgeous yarn is really expensive.  And the yarn that I crave is ridiculously, totally out of my reach, expensive.

But I love to knit and I outgrew acrylic about 20 years ago.  So I have a few economical go-tos.  KnitPicks is one.  Their yarn isn't imaginative but it's serviceable.  My lys' annual "clear the shelves" sale is always good for stocking the stash. And then there is Michaels and their Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool. There always seems to be a coupon or sale so I never pay the full $15 a skein. And, and this is a big "and", the skeins are 465 yards. Thats a lot of "100%  Pure virgin wool containing natural oils".

I really like this yarn.  The colors are basic variations on beiges and browns which is fine with me.  I don't have problems with splitting or mid-skein tied ends.  The yarn fluffs up nicely when knit, blocks well and gives me a stiff, thick fabric when I knit it on size 6 needles and a nice drape when I knit on 9s. All in all a great yarn. 

Which, of course, means that by this time next year it will have been discontinued, much like my favorite neutral lipstick color, favorite aerobics shoes and favorite perfectly fitting bra. 

At least we're not in Alaska

In Alaska they have begun their months and months of 24 hour twilight.  So, you know, this isn't that.  Thank the gods.  But winter is just around the corner.  And it is so bloody long. On the positive side that is many cozy evenings to be spent knitting.  So there is that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And the Christmas fairs continue...

This time at Museum on the Boyne. It was a very tiny event, fewer than a dozen booths.  But sweet and charming.

I often see fruit cake for sale, but this is the first time I've seen Christmas pudding.  I have fuzzy memories of it being served at my grandparent's very traditional english Chrismas dinners when I was a child.  I remember it as being basically fruit cake, pudding style, with brandy sauce. I didn't like it as a child and wouldn't like it now.  Like brussel sprouts and scotch, you either appreciate them or you don't.

This woman was selling tea and tea pots.  I am a huge tea fan, my go to is Earl Grey and I have at least three cups a day.  I have had a number of pretty tea pots over the years and I have to admit a fondness for clear glass tea pots.  But my pragmatic nature can't get past the cleaning that would be required.  A clear glass pot would have to be kept spotless and I haven't the energy for it. I'll stick to my brown betty for now.

And this was my purchase of the day.  They call it a massage candle.  Now that was not a particularly strong selling point for me frankly.  Being very single and all.  However, a chat with the vendors was quite illuminating (yuk,yuk).  Basically you light the candle, let it burn until there is a small pool, then use the spoon to put some of the melted wax on your hands and rub it in.  Moisturizing like a parafin, but you don't peel it off.  Its a soy candle and doesn't get overly hot and the fragrances were wonderful.  My hands were soft and fragrant most of the afternoon.

And as much as I would love to keep it for myself I must focus on Christmas shopping. So it is destined for my sister-in-law.  So sad.  But there is another fair down the road in the next town in a few weeks.  And the candle seller will be there. I may not be able to resist. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

...and so it begins...

Christmas, that is.  It starts so quickly.  One minute I'm eating Halloween candy, the next, Christmas shopping.

Living in a rural area we have quite a number of fairs and festivals.  Potatoe Festival, Garlic Festival, agricultural and antique fairs, and today, the SugarPlum fair. A local Christmas sale for aritisans and cottage industries.  I'm afraid the photos aren't great.  I'm not accustomed to intruding on people by taking their picture.  And an explanation as to why I'm taking said photo, well, the explanation that it is for a blog seems...lame.

These are lovely glass ornaments that sparkle and glow. I have in my mind's eye a four foot white Christmas tree festooned with nothing but these of all size and colors. I also wonder about the logistics of transporting all this very thin, delicate glass from fair to fair. I wonder what their loss ratio is.
Candy.  Chocolate and bark and fudge.  This is a very popular home business if the number of booths are any indication. And they give out free samples.  The trick is not to start, I suppose.  But I'm not terribly good at that and I may have come home with a bark or two.

There were also a number of hand made knits booths.  I really enjoy looking at other people's work, how skilled they are and what they believe their wares are worth.  Acrylic or real yarn, Toilet roll covers or Clapotis shawls. I was with non-knitting friends at the fair so I couldn't really stop and chat but I may go back tomorrow to do just that.  I don't know any other local knitters and who knows, I could make a friend.

These are zipper pulls and are perfect as knitting markers.  The hooks on them are too tiny to fit around a knitting needle so I throw them on yarn or plastic markers.  At three for five dollars I can afford to start a little collection and I have.  Almost every fair and festival has them and I think they are so pretty. 

Next:  Museum on the Boyne Christmas Market.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Knit Picks

Why not.  I would love to win some yarn for the winter.

And maybe knit up something like this Min Ulla Scarf, found on Ravelry. But multi colored. At a different gauge. In the round, tube fashion to hide the stranding. With maybe a few animal motifs.

Anyway, wishful thinking. I keep entering contests and buying the occasional lottery ticket but I have yet to win anything.  My friend's twin sister wins things constantly, while my friend enters exactly the same contests and never, ever wins .  Another inexplicable part of life.  Like how you can trip and fall and bloody your knee but not put a run in your hose? How is that even possible?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ok, I thought about keeping it for myself

This is my "deathflake" hat.  Actually it is no longer mine as it is hurtling its way via Canada Post to my son at university as we speak. Its a basic earflap pattern knitted with Stitch Nation peruvian wool.  I love this type of stranded color work, with a picture emerging as I work. It took a weekend and is everything I enjoy about knitting.  Creative, challenging but not frustrating, and in the end I have something practical. 

And thats Cora. Every knitting blog has to have a cat. It is a prerequisite.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Necessity being the mother of, um, MacGyvering?

On the needles: Lovely Shelburne mittens.  It just so happens that my lys, yes the one I don't often get to, had a sale on Rowan.  I picked up a few skeins of  felted tweed chunky in Grey Pebble. I really wasn't in the mood to test for gauge so I did the the equivalent of a reverse search on Ravelry.  I looked up the yarn and found the associated projects. Searched for free patterns and voila!  Oh, how I love Ravelry.  Anyway, my mitts are going to need a serious blocking.  The rib tends to twist and while they have great stretch, they are a bit narrow.  My usual "pin to a bed" blocking won't do it so I've MacGyvered. 
Its only ridiculous if it doesn't work.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

There was a day when stash meant something else...

This is my stash.  Keep your comments to yourself.  I know it's small and that yours is no doubt bigger than mine, but it makes me warm all over to look at it. 

My lys is miles and miles away which is probably certainly a good thing.  My stash may be small but it represents a significant financial investment for my single parent status.  No acrylic here.

I have to admit to some Knit Picks yarn.  Don't judge me.  It's economical.  If you know of  a decent online store, with interesting yarn at a comparable price, with free shipping, please let me know.

The old biscuit tins are garage sale finds and hold all my bits and pieces including many bars of scented soap that I pick up everywhere I go.  Its a bit of a thing for me.  Luxury soaps don't get nearly the attention they deserve.  And I have the most fragrant yarn.

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