Friday, November 29, 2013


It's late November, but someone seems to have turned the dial ahead to January. The window beside my desk looked like this early this morning:

Reminds me of the "Frost Flowers" stitch pattern in one of Barbara Walker's treasuries. By this afternoon, the sun had melted it and I could actually see outside. It was a balmy -7C when I headed downtown for a bit of shopping. A city employee was taking advantage of the freeze and flooding the rink in Market Square.

My little skein of handspun shetland is dry.

I should be able to get three more of these out of my 150g roving. So many great accessories I could make with this. Time to check out Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, my favourite source for classic little pieces.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Let's face it. I'm die-hard spindle spinner. I have a wheel, but I still find myself spindle spinning most of the time. I say "most", because my new tactic is to spin singles with my spindle, then ply on the wheel. Recently, I acquired a nostepinne, and after a little practice and a view of this video, I discovered that I could wind a very nice centre-pull ball on it.

The thing about a ball wound on a nostepinne, as opposed to a ball winder, is that it retains a hollow core after it is removed, which makes it just about perfect for plying directly from my lap using one strand from the centre and one from the outside of the ball. The two strands simply flow into my hands instead of getting hopelessly tangled. I just tried this technique for the first time, and my beautifully balanced skein is now soaking in a bowl in the kitchen. There's no waste with this method. Usually when I work from two separate bobbins of singles there's a bit of waste since the yardage on each single is slightly different.
Between this little experiment and a visit to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned, there's been no knitting today (so far, at least), but I have been playing with photos of Harriet in order to come up with an ad for Ravelry (my first). It says something about the way in which my designing income has grown over the last year that I'm ready to make this move. I won't show you the photo I've come up with, but I will show you what I wore when I went out this morning.

That's right--Lucy (the scarf) and Harriet (the jacket) turn out to be great go-togethers, especially when you're in the mood for a tweedy look (always, in my case).
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. We used to enjoy this long weekend at the start of the American "holiday season". 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Second Snow: Transformation

Winter has come early this year. I woke up to this:

After breakfast, and a fortifying mug of strong tea, I set out for the City Park, a short block from my front door. I passed houses, transformed by the cleansing white stuff,

and entered a magical world.

where I felt like Lucy, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, following a path through the snowy woods (it seems that I cannot leave my childhood books behind).

What's a grownup girl to do on such a day? I think you know...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spinning Update, and a Sneakpeek

Just because I now have a spinning wheel doesn't mean I've forsaken my spindles. When you really want to zone out and slide into a vegetative meditative state, there's nothing like drop spindle spinning. On the spindle now, is this:

It's "Raspberry Splash", from Hanks in the Hood. With the spindle, I feel that I have more control over the process (this is undoubtedly due to my inexperience with the wheel), and I find it easier to spin a fingering-weight yarn. I may end up plying this on the wheel. That's yet to be determined...
Off the wheel, there's this, the first of my Rhinebeck purchases semi-completed:

This is a nice worsted-weight yarn spun from shetland fleece dyed by Fiber Optics. I'm obviously in a raspberry colour jag. What can I say? The colour becomes me, and it goes with all those bluey-greys in my wardrobe. Now I have to decide what to do with it. Another cowl? Mitts? (I'd probably have to add some commercial wool to eke it out.) NOT a hat; I have a beret I love to wear and don't want another just now. Ideas?
Finally, a second sneak peek at a design currently in progress.

It's a bit wonky looking in its unblocked state, but I can't wait to wear it!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

First Snow: Pleasures of a Small City

It snowed this morning.

View from our third floor library.

The back garden.
The front garden.

I went for a walk.

St. George's Cathedral from Wellington Street.

I did some shopping at the City Market.
Apples for sale, 

and apple cider.



and maple sugar candies.
I walked back home via King Street East and the sun came out and started to melt the snow that had accumulated on the steps of the Victorian row houses.

Close-up of the door panels, above.
Back home for roast beef sandwiches, tomato soup, 
 and knitting!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Up the Rideau

November, when it's sunny and reasonably above freezing (10C?), can be the best time of the year. With the leaves long gone, and the sun at a low angle, the quality of the light is quite special. I took pleasure in this yesterday as I drove up the Rideau lakes/canal system to Merrickville. This waterway, with one end in Ottawa and the other in Kingston, comprises, together with the Kingston fortifications, a Unesco World Heritage site. My goal was Unraveled, currently my favourite yarn shop in eastern Ontario. Merrickville has transformed itself from a sleepy hamlet on the Rideau to a boutique shopping/dining destination. The streets were lined with cars and the sidewalks full of shoppers laden with bags.
After I was done at the shop, I wandered (ice cream in hand) across the street to get a view of the water. Here, the canal (in the foreground) flows next to the river (behind).

I looked down into a dry lock, and realized that I rather liked the quietness of the season compared to the bustle of boaters in the summer.

The blockhouse basked in the early winter sunshine. I love the bare bark on this tree.

I dropped into the bank for some extra cash, and enjoyed the view across the street of this classic nineteenth century eastern Ontario house, complete with pale brick cornerstones and white gingerbread trim.

Today is drizzly and grey, but I worked anyway on getting some decorative winter greens into the pots at the front of the house. If I wait another few days, it's likely that the soil will be too frozen.

Nothing left of the Boston Ivy except bare vines until next spring. The dark days are here.

Time for some colourful knitting!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Harriet's New Look

In the last week I've lengthened Isabel's Harriet, as well mine. What a difference an inch makes!

The jacket seems more wearable and useful at this length. Getting the model to pose is the hardest part. I talked Isabel into this after right after lunch, before she ran off to her afternoon classes. Usually I have to take a bunch of shots to get one good one. Today I hastily took three and two were terrific.

I think I'll put one of these on the cover of the pattern, so if you purchased one you'll get a notice on Ravelry with the option to download a new cover page. As I mentioned earlier, I've added an extra inch to the three smallest sizes. The largest sizes automatically turn out longer due to the fact that the jacket grows in length as it grows in width. The yarn quantities listed were generous enough that no changes are needed there.
What else have I been doing? 

I'll leave you guessing...
P.S. Photos taken from the front door on Remembrance Day below.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fibre Fun in Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a neighbourhood on the lake in Kingston that started life in 1784 as a village founded by United Empire Loyalists. It's a bit west of downtown, still has the feel of 200 years ago, boasts a harbour built for the 1976 Olympic sailing events----and now has a new hangout for fibre enthusiasts. Yesterday marked the grand opening of Anwyn Yarns,

a dye-studio and classroom space that is the brainchild of Meriel, shown here teaching Michael to knit.

This place is all about colour, from the art of the walls (see photo above), to the yarns (all dyed from nature),

 to the mugs for coffee and tea.

The studio is a bright, welcoming place, although it's hard to tell that from my photos, taken on a grey, rainy day.
Portsmouth is also the home of Carolyn Barnett's studio, and Carolyn was present yesterday in a corner of Anwyn Studio, working on some of her incredible buttons.


Carolyn's work is colourful, energetic, and stylish. When I arrived, she was working on a clay pin with dots,

some of which were teeny, tiny,

to go with with this amazing felted hat.

Love orange but can't wear it next to your face? (Who can?) This is the answer. Notice how the orange features at the crown of the hat while purple frames the face.
I put in a special request for some buttons in red, to form the basis of a new design. Sometimes yarn is the inspiration, but sometimes it's buttons. Carolyn then hauled out her "red bag", full of these multi-hued balls of clay wrapped in plastic and looking for all the world like little candies.

In short order, she'd finished the buttons, but when I tried to get a photo, my camera refused to take any more closeups under the lamp glare. The buttons still needed baking when I left, but you can be sure I'm already thinking about a design to feature them.
To complete the fibre goodness of the day (which I should mention included a visit across the road to the Kingston Handloom Spinners and Weavers annual sale), Purlin J's Roving Yarn truck was parked in the lot next to Anwyn. You can read more about Purlin J in the current (Holiday) issue of Vogue Knitting in the Made in Canada column. The day was wet and close to freezing, so I ran across the street to the local Tim's to fetch some hot coffee for Joan, who was kind enough to pose with her hot drink and her cozy wool.

The truck/shop will remain in Portsmouth (conveniently across from the Tim's) for the next couple of weekends. Go visit; this is the time to get going on those holiday projects.