Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pulling the Plug

I'm in a rage with my telecom company, and the fact that I've a full-blown head cold isn't helping. I loathe the system under which the companies offer a "promotion" for land line service, or an internet connection, or whatever, and then six months down the road you suddenly find your bill has doubled overnight. That's what just happened with our home phone. We no longer have satellite or cable, so at least television has been removed from our equation. I'm at the stage where I'm considering doing away with the land line entirely. I know, I know, it might have a deleterious impact on the ability of 911 services to locate us, but I'm pretty much prepared to take that chance, given the almost $50 per month that our telecom wants to bill us for "home phone light". At this point, almost everyone we want to communicate with long distance uses Skype anyway. Rant concluded.
So, I might need a little knitting to calm me down. The top-down hat has been shelved for now. It'll get a style boost down the road. Meanwhile, I've started on James' new pullover. He wants something thick and warm (sorry, Bruce Weinstein, but this is Canada and the rule against heavier sweaters for men doesn't apply). I've long had the notion of converting Petrova to a men's version. The cabled saddle shoulders are so perfect for a guy.

The slouchy cowl neck, not so much,

nor the waist shaping,

 nor the full-length button closure.

I got the project launched late yesterday, and because there are no pockets, no waist shaping, and no buttonhole borders to think about, it's clear sailing. Perfect head cold knitting, with a box of tissues, a pot of tea, and a good audiobook for company.

The yarn is this in an almost-black charcoal (it only looks light here because it's in strong sunshine).The seed stitch has been James-approved.

Guys are so fussy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I knew it last night, but wasn't prepared to admit it. My hat needs a style boost. It needs more "pouffiness", more shape, and possibly even more colour. It's a good example of how a yarn that looks lucious in the ball can suck you in, only to disappoint in the knitting. Back to the drawing board. The yarn will find it's way into something else. I never mind frogging. As the incomparable Elizabeth Zimmermann expressed it, ripping out is so "purifying".
And things aren't so desperate on the hat front after all. A little digging through our accessories basket (strategically located on a bench next to the front door) revealed these favourite tams shown in a much earlier blog post. Isabel has been wearing the darker one lately, but I'd forgotten about the one with the cream background. No need to panic; I'm covered (literally).
So, maybe I should move on to designing that sweater James has been asking for...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not a Moment Too Soon

Finished my new hat this afternoon.

Hmm, do I want the top to be "pouffier", more slouchy? Not sure; I'll sleep on it. The wind chill this aft was -12C--January in November. At least we're doing better than Buffalo. Our side of the lake is much less prone to such lake effect snow. Still, it just started to snow here and with the gale force winds we're experiencing, the snow is moving in a totally horizontal direction. This does not bode well.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Heady Thoughts

Woke up this morning to snow on the ground. It melted, but we all know that soon it will come back and stick around until sometime next spring. So depressing. It's got me realizing that I need a new hat, mitts, and scarf/cowl/something to keep my neck and chin warm. And I need them now, or at least very, very soon.
I thought about making an amazing twisty, cabled slouchy hat, but that would take a lot of time and really, I need a hat NOW. And if I made such a lovely hat, then I'd need things to go with it, because there's the whole "matchy" problem. You know, where you recognize a knitter on the street not by the amazing knitted stuff she's wearing, but by the fact that none of it goes together. If I make a tricky, cabled hat, I'd want to do it with a fairly lightweight wool (not superwash--that wouldn't be warm enough), and then the other matchy bits would take forever to make, and they might not be thick enough to keep me warm next January when the temp drops to -21C (or worse). So, I've realized that what I want is a quick, thick hat. Something simple, but beautiful.
Looking through my stash, I found some recently acquired chunky alpaca/wool single-ply yarn in soft shades of pale robin's egg blue and green. I used Emily Ocker's circular cast-on, made famous by (you guessed it) Elizabeth Zimmermann, and in no time I had 48 sts, enough to transfer everything to a 16" circular.

Beautiful yarn like this calls for a simple shape. Not sure yet where this is going, but I'm loving it. Best of all, I've enough to make mitts or a cowl. Matching two out of three seems a better plan than three out of three, don't you think?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wine and Wool, Wool and Wine

I couldn't possibly do a better job than Robin has done of documenting our retreat last weekend. In fact, I confess that I took NO PHOTOS AT ALL! What can I say about this lapse? Sometimes you have to live in the moment. So, click here to see all the fun. And Brussels sprouts grow on "stalks", Robin, not "branches"!
P.S. The lace pattern from yesterday's post is from this brilliant book. Quirky charts, but a wonderful publication from Schoolhouse Press.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

This Knitter Just Wants to Have Fun

With the retreat behind me, I've given myself a little knitting holiday. Note that I didn't say "holiday from knitting". I'm playing. No deadlines, no pressure. Last spring I spun up about 100g of BFL top. After plying and washing, it turned itself into a gorgeous, bouncy, slightly fluffy skein of sort-of-DK-weight yarn, EXCEPT for the fact that the creamy colour didn't work well with my going-grey hair. So, yesterday I remembered that I had some packets of Kool-Aid drink mix sitting at the bottom of a basket. In no time, I had mixed together five packets of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade with one packet of Lemon Lime. I checked out this great chart first, just to make sure I was on track. By this morning, I had this:

By noon I had this,

which, when steam blocked, turned out to look like this:


By tomorrow, I'll probably have a new scarf, and I'll have had a refreshing little break from sweater knitting. More about the origins of the lace pattern next time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wolfe Island Gansey

This was done before I headed off for the retreat in Prince Edward County. What you see here is the first iteration. So far there are handwritten notes and charts in only one size. No photos so far on a human being, Isabel being too caught up in things at Queen's to donate any of her time (this version is in her size).

I chose to steek this little cardi to make the gansey pattern (Arbroath marriage lines) easier to work. Every row is an "action" row, which makes it much simper to work when the right side is always facing. I took this prototype with me to the retreat as an example of a non-stranded steeked garment. The yarn is Quince & Co's Lark in "Honey". My own name for it is "Dijon", but colour is in the eye of the beholder I guess. Discussions are underway at the dinner table concerning the colour for the next iteration. Red? 
FYI, Wolfe Island, named after the British General Wolfe, is just a short ferry ride from my front door.