Monday, June 30, 2014

Wheatsheaves: An Elegant Solution

Some of you may have noticed that "Wheatsheaves" is temporarily in hibernation from my Ravelry store. I'm in the process (which I had hoped to have completed by now) of re-working the back neck and shoulders for a nicer fit. After a lot of mucking about, I've come up with a solution that is both shapely and simple.

I intend to work hard on this over the next week and have it written up and updated on Ravelry a.s.a.p. As a bonus, there will be at least one added size, possibly more. Thank goodness for air-conditioning, or I might be having a knitting holiday just now. We're in for a blazing hot Canada Day tomorrow.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June Love

It's hot here today-almost 30C-and the richly verdant late June garden is almost overwhelming.

I'm off to meet with the Fibre Roads group tomorrow to discuss the marketing of my design for them. It should be a lovely drive through the Rideau Lakes and up to the Lanark area. Winter seems like nothing but a dream!
P.S. While I'm working on the revised "Wheatsheaves", I'm listening to Georgette Heyer's "Venetia". So perfect for my mood (even though the novel takes place in November). Can you hear me sighing with pleasure?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Provisional Cast-Ons: The Crochet Chain Cast-On

This is my current fave provisional cast-on. It combines ease with relative quickness (nothing is faster than Elizabeth Zimmermann's yarn-around-the-needle approach, but it is more complicated to work off of down the road). All you need for this method is a crochet hook of about the same size as your needle and some waste yarn of approximately the same size as the working yarn--but if it's thicker even that is not really a problem.
Begin by making a crochet chain that has a few more chains than the number of stitches you need to cast on. FYI, this is some leftover handspun from my Zora cardigan. Not sure why I'm wasting it on this, but it was sitting in my leftover basket so here it is.

When you have enough chains, cut the waste yarn, end the chain off, and tie a knot in the cut end, like this.

This isn't strictly necessary, but it helps to identify the end of the chain where you will begin the unravelling process later on when it's time to work in the opposite direction.
Now, have a look at your chain. On the front side, you have something that resembles a braid (see above), but on the back side notice what looks like a series of purl bumps.

With the working yarn and needle, and starting at the end nearest the knot, begin to knit up stitches into those bumps, like this.

After a while, this is what will emerge. See how the braided front side of the chain runs along the bottom of your stitches? Keep in mind that these stitches count as your cast-on, not as the first row of knitting.

When it's time to undo the provisional cast-on and work in the opposite direction, simply untie the knot and unravel the first crochet stitch. For the rest, the chain can be simply "unzipped", leaving live stitches in its wake. Or, if you are nervous about losing any of those precious stitches, work into them before pulling the crochet loop out, in the same manner as shown here. So easy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quality Over Quantity

Well, it seems that Kingston knitters have better things to do than to go to knit-in-public gatherings, or perhaps they simply didn't go to the two events I attended, but that's all right because it was a case for me of quality over quantity. On Thursday, I headed on down to the Gazebo by the lake. No one else was there. I took a seat (mindful of avoiding bird poop), and hauled out my knitting (the about-to-be re-activated "Wheatsheaves"). It was blissfully peaceful, apart from the humming of a lawnmower in the distance.

Murney tower was on its hill to my right,

and the lake was on my left. Even it was empty of signs of life.

It was lovely. There is nothing about Worldwide Knit in Public Day that says you have to have co-knitters, or even an audience.
But then a few knitters did turn up. First Hannah, and her mum and little sister. Hannah is a New Knitter, with obvious enthusiasm. Look at that smile. Her family is moving back to the U.S. next week. Best wishes, Hannah, and keep up the knitting. I think her mum, who was working on a Hitchhiker scarf, will guarantee that.

In a little while, my friend Margaret appeared, with a piece of an afghan she's working on for a wedding gift. The fact that she showed up really shows her dedication to a) knitting, and b) me as a friend, given that she'd been over to our place for tea and knitting only two days earlier. After Hannah & Co. left to make dinner, Margaret and I had a cozy chat about walking tours in Britain, audiobooks, and knitting, of course.
While we talked and knitted, the world around us came to life. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was by then late afternoon and people were leaving work. A flotilla of sailboats suddenly emerged from the yacht club,

and a martial arts group began to cavort in the park.

So, in spite, or perhaps because of the lack of a crowd, the day was surprisingly satisfying.
Ditto yesterday, when I biked over to the Skeleton Park Arts Festival, where Purlin' J had set up a little tent next to her truck. Some grad students (male!) were there learning to knit, and lo and behold, there was Margaret yet again, and we had another knit and chat before I headed out to pick up some groceries.
My shopping included some heavy cream from our local Limestone Creamery for making whipped cream to go with the first local strawberries of the season. (Why does regular supermarket whipping cream have carageenan and other non-dairy stuff in it?) Finally they're here! The little, round, juicy berries make you realize that there's really no point at all to purchasing the huge industrial-farmed-in-California variety. Back home, I threw together my favourite recipe for shortcake, and yes, I will confess that we had strawberry shortcake for dinner. After all, who needs the calories of a main course + dessert? Another case of quality over quantity!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Join me at the Gazebo near Murney Tower on Lake Ontario,

this coming Thursday, June 19 between 4 and 6 to celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day. Bring something edible to share if you can. 

See you there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I-Cord Tricks

On this perfect June morning, with peonies blooming outside my window,

I've been having a bit of fun with I-cord.

Applied I-cord is great when you want a neatly finished edge that looks good from both sides. After casting on 3 stitches provisionally, I work around the edge,

 loading up my dpn with two extra stitches at a time (for a total of five),

attaching them one by one (getting down to four stitches here),

then back down to three stitches,

reload and repeat until back to the beginning, and finally weave the start and the end together (never a perfect match, but good enough).

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Yesterday Bill and I visited the village of Barriefield, now part of Kingston, on its 200th anniversary. We parked the car in the grass field next to the elementary school, and walked across the road to where the festivities were in full swing. First off, I visited the tent of the Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners Guild, where one of the ladies was spinning flax from a distaff. First time seeing this, and so fascinating that I forgot to take any photos. The long strands of flax were getting quite blown about in the breeze, in spite of their ribbon harness, and I was amazed at the fineness of the spun thread. After that, I got my act together and managed to record the day.
There were people in costume (the day was fortunately cool enough for wool coats),

 craftspersons and their materials,




and St. Marks Anglican Church,with its long, slightly uphill walk with hedges of lilacs framing both sides of the drive.

Wish we could have stayed for the afternoon tea in the parish hall, but even with a hat, I was getting horribly sunburned. A lovely time, regardless.