Wednesday, March 14, 2018


My spring fling feelings of last post were unhappily premature. Winter is making a hopefully brief return. The wet, heavy white stuff began falling yesterday afternoon and although it is a nuisance, the roads are remaining thankfully bare and the walking is reasonably pleasant. And with daylight saving time, there seems to be more light. Here are some views from this morning of the apple orchard at Bellevue House, down the street from my place.

The ice has broken up on Lake Ontario. I'm always surprised at how quickly the break up happens.

I'm doing quite a bit of sewing just now, adding more linen things to my wardrobe. I wear linen year-round (by layering), but with new fabrics and colours coming into shops at this time of the year, it's a good time to expand my wardrobe. All the sewing means that my Perth Cardi is growing a little slowly. Nevertheless, I'm nearing the lower edge.

The colour is really more green than blue, a hue that is quite difficult to capture with my camera. I'll probably put everything onto waste yarn and wet block before I reach my desired length. This stitch tends to grow in length, and it's better to take the time to block and dry than expend the time and energy finishing the body, then having to rip back. It won't be finished in time for St. Patrick's Day, but at least I'll be working on something green. My usual Irish Soda bread, courtesy of the late James Beard, will be on the menu.
P.S. The eagle-eyed may notice that I have altered the seam line from the pattern. Instead of working it in purl, I'm working it in knit. Much easier, still looks great. I'll do the same on the sleeves, working SSK to the right of the seam stitch, and k2tog on the left (making the decreases lean toward the underarm).

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Springing for Joy

Whilst "the beast from the east" is wreaking wintry havoc in the UK, on this side of the Atlantic we are enjoying amazingly sunny and warm weather. March is definitely coming in like a lamb. The upside of having grim winters in this bit of the globe is the joy (is it too much to say exhilaration?) of finally being able to go out the door without winter boots. So, in tune with Mother Nature I have updated the Perth Cardi, which in my mind is the perfect sweater for transitional seasons--just enough warmth when you need it, but not too much.

Here's what the pattern description has to say:
Whenever I visit Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Sheep and Wool Festival, I look forward to shopping in the village. On my 2013 trip, I purchased a mohair-blend crossover cardigan with ties at the front, even though I didn’t really love the way the ties hung down when it was worn open. So, “Perth” was my solution—a lightweight, airy, drapey little cardigan to wear dressed up or down that looks great open or closed. This is an updated version of the original pattern, now designed for a merino fingering-weight yarn. Sleeves can be full or three-quarter length. Takes 4 (5, 5, 6, 7) balls, but you may want to purchase extra yardage if you are taller than average.

The original cardi was knitted in a no-longer-available ultrafine alpaca. I made two, one in grey and another in this burgundy.

The grey version was gifted to a friend, while I kept the burgundy one and wore it to death. At the end it became a sort of bed jacket (if you're my age you can remember when those were a thing) I would wear while reading in bed. Eventually it became unsalvageable. I really need a new one, and here is my new wool recommendation.

I've knitted with this wool at a DK gauge before. See the lovely result here. It's soft, with remarkable stitch definition, and it's not superwash, so I know the result will be predictable. The updated pattern is on sale for the month of March. The Ravelry link is here. See you soon with photos of my new cardigan as it progresses.

P.S. (next day) It looks as though the Babyull is indeed superwash wool. However, it doesn't behave at all like most superwash. It wet blocks beautifully and holds its shape as it should. And comes in a huge array of adult colours. Loved it before, and still do.
It snowed last night. Mother Nature is fickle, especially in March. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pembroke Scarf

When is a design free? When it's barely a pattern. My Pembroke Scarf is up on Ravelry this afternoon, and apart from thirty minutes (at most) of experimenting to get the selvedges just right, and fifteen minutes playing around to find the best way to make the two tips of the scarf symmetrically rounded (not sure why, when it's an ASYMMETRICAL triangle), the only effort involved was in the actual knitting. Even then, it wasn't exactly EFFORT, since there were only two rows, repeated ad nauseum infinitum. However, that's what makes this scarf perfect for "social" knitting -- you know, the type of knitting you do with friends when you actually want to have a conversation. Pembroke is also perfect in two other ways: it makes an incredibly useful wardrobe piece, and it uses up lone skeins of luxury fibre that are sitting in your stash. I'm already thinking about a linen version for spring and I have another on the needles in hand-dyed merino for when I'm watching Netflix.

To download, go here.

Friday, February 2, 2018

February Sale

It's February, the cruellest (at least in my opinion) month of the year. So, in case you're looking for a quick, soft, fun knit with almost NO FINISHING, Glenora is on sale for $2 for this month.


And yes, that's the marvelously talented Cheryl Toy modelling in the first two photos with such exhuberance. Thanks, Cheryl. To purchase, click here.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Passing of the Blog

Did you see this weekend's article in The Washington Post, "How the Mom Internet became a sponsored, spotless void"? The article's focus is on how "gritty blogs have given way to staged Instagram photos". The author, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, is writing about parenting blogs, but she could have been writing about knitting blogs, or maybe blogs in general, because the trend is obvious. You may have noticed that my own blogging has been dwindling in frequency. Good blogs are more than just collections of photos. They are mini-essays. Essay writing takes time and effort, which could be spent on doing the actual thing one is blogging about in the first place. Kate Davies is a good example of a knit designer who blogs less now that she is running a wildly successful knitting design and yarn business. While I always enjoy her thoughtful and well-researched posts, I have to admit that I derived more pleasure from her earlier, seemingly more spontaneous style. I still look forward to the Yarn Harlot's thoughts on knitting and life, but even she posts at most once a week and frequently less nowadays (admittedly she has sustained a stressful year). And it should be noted that the Harlot is a perfect example of a blogger who very successfully walks the difficult line between her public and private life.
Today, some of the most successful blogs have a completely different character from blogs of five years ago. Take Karen Templer's Fringe Association, which is published early in the morning every weekday. It's an example of the new, "influencer" style of blogging, full of highly "curated" (such an overused word!) photos and links to other websites on the subjects of knitting and handmade, sustainable clothing. Make no mistake; I find Fringe Association an incredibly useful resource. It keeps me up to date with all the latest trends. But blogs like it, albeit useful and beautiful, have a certain sanitized feel. They don't offer up the little slice of real life that was present in earlier blog writing. That personal connection to the writer was what brought me to blog reading in the first place. As to why I started writing my own blog, it was more or less required by the first magazine publisher interested in my work.
So, where is my own blog headed? It's hanging around, although I've definitely jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. Instagram is so simple. Just pick up your phone, click a photo, post it, and almost instantly you have customers looking up your Ravelry shop. Social media are constantly changing the marketplace. Ten years ago, the way to get noticed was to publish with an online magazine. Then, Ravelry became the way to go (and it still is a critical marketing tool). But now it's Instagram's moment in the sun. Who knows what's next.
In the meantime, expect to continue to see less frequent blog posts here. I plan to reserve the blog for important announcements, detailed explanations of technique, and anything else that I think needs putting into words, as opposed to pictures. Not that I don't love good blog photos. Here are a few from the past month.

Bellevue House, down the street from my place.

Close-up of the "tower" at Bellevue House.

The Tett Centre (left) and the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts (right) with ice fog on Lake Ontario.

Launching into a new design, with inspiration from snips in my notebook from "Egg Clothing".

Pale hues intended for a couple of new cowls.
So, even if you don't see a lot of blog action, there's a lot going on. Click on the link in the sidebar to my Instagram account to stay abreast of developments. How many weeks (months) to spring?
P.S. I am frequently asked about Facebook. FYI, I do not have a Facebook account. Maybe I'm the only person left on the planet without one, but there you are.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Zora Re-Issued

Remember Zora?

This is a cardigan I wear again and again. It's flattering, looks great with jeans or my handsewn clothes, and works from fall through spring. The grey version, above, was my first wheel-spun wool project. The original blue version was knitted in a yarn that is no longer available, and I've been meaning to update it for a while. At the same time, I want to do more to use and promote sustainable wools. So, I'm happy to announce that Zora has now been re-published on Ravelry for knitting with Topsy Farms Pure Sheep Wool 2-ply. You can read more about Topsy and my trip to Amherst Island last spring here. I'll be knitting a new Zora for myself shortly, probably in their soft black. (Am I crazy to knit an aran pattern in such a dark colour?) You can order Topsy wool here. Note that my yardage recommendations are generous. However, I don't think you'll have difficulty finding something to do with any leftovers.
The Ravelry link is here. Take time to check out the project pages. You'll notice that some knitters have chosen to interweave the cables while others didn't bother to mirror the cables as written. There's lots of room for choice.

Friday, November 17, 2017

In the Works

Recently someone asked me about my design process. Do I plan everything out in advance, or do I launch right into the knitting? The answer is somewhere in between. I like to start with a sketch, inexpert artist that I am. My current project started with this a couple of days ago.                                            


I did a little experimenting with a small stitch pattern built into the yoke increases and then, because I'm working in a yarn I'm familiar with and know my gauge, I simply cast on. I played around a little with some short row shaping at the base of the collar, but then after trying it on, decided to nix it. I want everything simple.
Next, I plotted out the yoke shaping and did the calculations. You can catch a glimpse of those at the side of my sketch. I like to work in notebooks and I try to avoid the temptation to skip writing everything up, even the failures. It's a huge time saver, because sometimes I'll go back to a "fail" and take it in a different direction. That's how Harriet's Jacket was born.
This current pullover has been in my mind for a while, but it took the weekend away, talking to other knitters and designers, to get it going. On Monday, I took a good look around my work space,

and felt re-energized. Are you noticing more colour in my work?

 This is my teal triple whammy. Everything made by me!