Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Smorgasbord of Finished Objects

From Ravelry, here's a smattering of projects:

LittleChurchKnit's Wheatsheaves Scarf. This is such a great photo. Makes me realize that I ought to choose bright colours more often.

Khandroma's Inverness Gloves. Same comment as above.

Why aren't I this daring?

Jaxie985's Harriet. So perfectly tweedy in Bartlettyarn. So perfect for her trip to Scotland!

Rabarbara, who is based in Norway made the MacKay shawl.  She used my favourite Kauni Effektgarn, and writes, "I started this shawl the same day as the twin terror attacks in Norway. This will be to remember the dead and injured and their families." She renamed her project "Remembering". Note that she opted to leave off the lace border. Beautiful.

 jrs' Buttonbox.

A classic, if ever there was one. You've got to love the dark tweed combined with the white shirt. A perfect pairing!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cataraqui Scarf Pattern Now Available

I've finally got this scarf pattern ready to go in my Ravelry store.

I'm thinking about a version in a gradient fingering (the version shown is in lace weight). The pattern is easily adjustable for different weights of yarn. Or maybe I'll do one in something with a bit of kid mohair for loft, or .... Lots of options here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Frozen (Not the Movie)

It's a tough time of year in these parts. -20C at night, -12C by day, and all of that's before the wind chill is factored in. Spring is so far away it can't be contemplated. What to do to stay sane?
1. Skate. Look closely and you'll see the child in the pink coat has a plastic frame in her hands to help with her balance while she learns.

2. Winter biking. Not for the faint of heart, but there's a lot of it going on here.

3. Ride the ferry across the ice for free. The Wolfe Island ferry keeps a channel open year round for residents. That's it in the background.

4. Go for a walk. I wore this getup and was fine, at least until the wind got me near the lake.

5. Coax my reluctant daughter to sit for some scarf photos. "Never again," she said. I swear there's no one as ticklish around the neck!

Worth it, though.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Knits at Work

This is a part of the world where we don't only knit for fun. Winter can smack us hard here on the north shore of Lake Ontario and that's just what it did last night, with snow squalls coming off the lake until dawn. The knits have been hard at work, indoor and out. These mitts are dry finally and ready for another bout. Notice the double layers. Who wears only a single layer of mitts? And forget superwash; it doesn't have what it takes to keep the cold out.

I had a look at the lot behind our house where we park our car, and couldn't tell which one was ours until I brushed off a few licence plates. Decided to leave the task of digging out until this afternoon, when James gets home from classes.

Took off on foot to do a few shopping errands.

Earl Street between Wellington and King Street E.
Princess Street on my way to Pan Chancho for bread.
The lake is still open. Once it freezes the snow squalls should end.

It wasn't exactly a hardship yesterday being stuck indoors with a huge yarn stash. I dragged out some skeins of Kauni and played, discovering alas, that it does not work up to the same gauge as Quince's Chickadee. I've been toying with the notion of doing two versions of my colourwork cardi.

I abandoned the Kauni and decided to cast on a sock.

I've mentioned my sock philosophy before. I'm not a sock adventuress; I leave that to other knitters. Socks are a way for me to relax with knitting--no thinking, minimal counting, nothing unknown. Frequently I crank out a pair in the same pattern stitch as a sweater I've just knitted. Brookline Socks after the Brookline cardigan, Urban Rustic socks after the Petrova jacket, and so on. Guess what inspired these ones?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


I have a special interest in gansey patterns, and indeed, that's the focus of the book I'm working on. I won't be offering up any traditional ganseys; there are plenty of beautiful versions of those from the likes of Beth Brown-Reinsel and Alice Starmore. (FYI, I had the privilege of taking classes with both these master knitters/designers during my time in Washington, DC.) I'm more interested in playing with gansey patterns, adapting them to modern silhouettes and knitters not necessarily interested in working at a firm gauge in fine 5-ply gansey wool.
This week I'm asking the question, "What if I take traditional gansey textured stitch charts and re-interpret them as colour patterns?" I happened to have some of Quince's "Chickadee" hanging around in two colours, so yesterday I played around with this chart,

using it as a colour chart for stranded knitting, instead of a chart of knit and purl stitches.

OK, some textural stuff got thrown in. I couldn't resist.

I made the swatch on a 16-inch circular, with a steek, so I can cut it later on (also because it's so much simpler to work this sort of thing when the right side is always facing).

I soaked the swatch in water, then laid it out and, as anticipated, the top bit in purl diamonds ballooned out. I'll need to do either a needle adjustment or a stitch count adjustment to maintain width when this is turned into a sweater.
Ignore the insipid colours you see in this swatch. This design calls for rich colourwork, and I've already ordered a selection of colours. All this swatching is saving me time when they arrive.
Do you notice the similarity to Scandinavian stitches in my swatch? It's no secret that knitting patterns all around the North Sea influenced each other. So, the cardigan I'm aiming for is quite likely to have a Scandinavian look.

Something like this...

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Environment Canada surely delivered--here's the view out the window this morning with everything under a light coating of ice. Good thing we don't need groceries.

This is a day to make soup, drink tea, and finish up the hat I cast on after dinner yesterday.

Before casting off,

After casting off, tassel added....

The yarn is Quince's Puffin in "Bird's Egg", knitted on 6.5mm at 3 stitches per inch. This was a top-down knit (the successful conclusion of an earlier less successful experiment). Why top down? I like the shape of the top, neither flat, nor peaked, and I love the beguiling way that the top-down format lets you sneak into the knitting, allowing you to feel that you really haven't embarked on anything much at all until suddenly, you have a whole hat ready to take outside into the January chill.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Years Knits and Eats

We rang the New Year in with snow. As is the nature of lake effect snow squalls, there wasn't much actual snow; nevertheless, for most of yesterday because of the wind there was almost zero visibility.

Things have settled down today, with  lots of sunshine, and although sun doesn't make for the best photos, I had no choice but to make the attempt since we have another "significant weather event" (Environment Canada's words) on the way for Saturday and Sunday, and everyone goes back to classes on Monday.
First up, the new tam. This was one of those amazing little knits that just popped off the needles in under a day. I knew I wanted to make a generously sized tam with ridges, along the lines of the one worn in the 1993 Secret Garden movie (see previous post). The yarn is Quince's Lark in "slate"; the 7-pointed methodology is pure Elizabeth Zimmermann (from Knitting Without Tears).

Up next, James' birthday sweater--a thick, warm sweater, as requested--the Modern Gansey.

I bowed to James' request for no headshots, on account of his slightly bloodshot eyes. Those were not a result of binge drinking, but rather, binge watching Game of Thrones, after Isabel talked him into seeing if he might enjoy it. Obviously, he did. The sweater is a huge success, and James, unprompted, showed such loving gratitude that even the Yarn Harlot would have been satisfied.
The sweater grew a few inches when blocked (as I suspected it might), so I spent New Year's Eve ripping back the body and cuffs and then re-knitting the ribbing. I think you'll agree it's a great fit.
We always have James' birthday dinner on Jan.1, and I thought that since I can't at this stage give you any pattern instructions, I'd offer up our favourite chocolate cake recipe from an earlier post (eggless, because of Isabel's egg allergy, but handy in case you know anyone vegan).

Rich, Deep Chocolate Cake with Orange Icing

3 c unbleached flour
½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 c canola oil
2 ¼ c water
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare pan(s) with cooking spray. Choose either one bundt pan or 2 layer cake pans.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients and mix well, using an electric mixer for best results. The batter should be quite smooth. Pour into the prepared pan(s). For a bundt cake, bake for about 45 min; for layer cakes about 30 min. When done, the edges of the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan.

To make the icing, using an electric mixer, mix together, 1/4 c butter, 2 c icing sugar, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, and the grated rind from the same orange. Spread on the cooled cake.