Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Do you think...

Just home from a stroll around the block.

Do you think gardeners live here?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Better Design: All about Thumbs

There are a lot of ways to incorporate thumbs into mitts and gloves. There's the gussetless version where you knit in a strand of waste yarn, then pull it out to reveal live stitches from which you work the thumb--very good when you don't want to interrupt a pattern stitch on the palm.
Then there thumbs with gussets. I prefer these because gussets allow wrists to be closer fitting and -- ahem, this is Canada after all -- warmer. There are gusseted thumbs worked at the side so that, depending on what else is going on, you can wear the mitt/glove on either hand. In fact, Elizabeth Zimmermann recommended knitting these in groups of three, not two, as invariably one mitt would go missing! This latter type has a drawback, however, which becomes more obvious in fingerless gloves. Without fingers to hold the patterned back of the hand in place, the pattern has a tendency to torque out of position. This is because of the anatomical fact that when we use our thumbs for typing, holding doorknobs, knitting, ...whatever..., the thumb is positioned more toward the palm.
So, after some test wearing of my fingerless gloves, Version 1 (with side thumbs), and frustration at having to twist them back into position every now and then,

See the right-leaning torque?
 I decided to move on to V2, with the thumb positioned 3 sts toward the palm.

Ahh, so much better!

And here you see them in three sizes, including a man's size (the pattern is unisex on purpose) in Quince's tweedy (and manly) "Owl Tweet" in Oak.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rideau Wrap: a Reboot

A year ago, I completed a design for a group of Eastern Ontario farmers. Until now, the pattern was available only in kit form in a beautiful custom-spun alpaca/wool blend. As of today, the pattern is available on Ravelry for free with two commercial yarn alternatives: Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter and Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Light. Kits are still available from Janice at Windblest Farm, should you wish to indulge in hand-dyed luxury.

From the pattern intro:

This very oversized, minimally-shaped, no-sew cardigan/wrap is designed to work on a wide range of body sizes and shapes. The stitch, Barbara Walker’s “Banded Insertion” pattern, has garter stitch ridges and stocking stitch valleys worked on two differently-sized needles, three sizes apart. The result is a light, airy, drapey fabric that works up fairly quickly.

The body is cast on provisionally at the centre back, then worked outwards until the sides are joined by 3-needle bind-off. The sleeve stitches are transferred to a small circular needle and worked out to the cuff, with the ridges gradually spaced at longer and longer intervals. Finally, the centre back is joined, and an I-cord border worked all the way around, with graceful scallops framing the neckline.

Click here to download a copy from Ravelry and enjoy some carefree summer knitting!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

You say Pom Pom, I say Pom Pon

Both are considered correct, but I learnt the latter, which is an earlier version and closer to the source French, so in this post, "pom pon" it is. Had a change of mind yesterday morning, and added a medium-sized pom pon to my handspun tam. I really like the mix of colours in this little adornment.

And here is a better view of the colour mix in some of the leftover roving.

So soft and hazy, like this very warm and muggy first day of summer here. I'd say the humidity is oppressive, except that I've lived in Washington, DC and by that standard, it's fresh.

A good day to be on the water,

but probably because there are storms predicted this afternoon, the waterfront (at least at the bottom of my street) was pretty much deserted.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two Hundred Years

I realized, after reading the news yesterday, that this week marks 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo. Even as far away as we are from that event, in both time and distance, the impact of it is still felt. It turns out that Picton, the location in Prince Edward County of Rosehaven Yarns, a favourite yarn shop, is named after Sir Thomas Picton, Wellington's second-in-command at Waterloo. And, of course, the name "Wellington" is everywhere, including the street that adjoins my own, and the wonderful beach town not far from Picton itself. I had thought to call my new tam "Wellington", as I could easily imagine myself wandering along the beach there, and among the galleries and restaurants on a cool fall day wearing the object in question. Unfortunately, a quick perusal of Ravelry indicated that that name abounds. So, for now at least, I'm calling my tam "Picton". The handspun is super-soft and airy, having been spun "off the fold", and I'm opting
for no embellisment at the top, the better to show off the colour gradations,

unlike the version below, which has a small I-cord tab--

very classic and tailored, I think.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Edgewater Collection

It may be late spring/early summer, but I'm busy getting my new Edgewater Collection ready to come out next fall. This little pile of folded items is part (only part!) of it.

The plan is to bring the garments out individually, then once they are all published on Ravelry, to offer them in book format at a price less than the cost of the total. Many of the pieces are knitted in Quince and Co's line of basic wools, but some are done up in other yarns, including handspun. I've spent the last few days whiling the time away while our dining room floor is being re-done (with 19th-century pine) spinning up some of Malabrigo's Nube on my top-whorl spindle for a tam.

I know it seems idiotish (a word I love from Georgette Heyer's novels), but I absolutely adore working with my own handspun. I love the thick/thin quality of it, and the soft blend of colours. The knitting portion of this project takes only one day of on-again-off-again knitting--the perfect sort of piece for a last-minute gift. But, really, I don't think I could part with this particular hat. This one is for me!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Colour Play

From time to time I enjoy checking out the Ravelry projects knitters have made from my patterns. Today I was wowed by CathyCake's Fibonacci.

Memo to self: next time I visit a fibre festival or new yarn shop, be on the lookout for gradient fingering weight yarns. Better yet, click onto Twisted Fiber Art and order direct (exchange rate on our dollar be damned!)
Next up, beatz58's Harriet.

Sometimes I'm blown away by the creativity that knitters bring to my designs. Beautiful!

Friday, June 5, 2015

What's the Opposite of a "No-Brainer"?

My lovely spindle-spun wool is turning into a "no-brainer" project, the kind suitable for social knitting or travel knitting or for those times when you need something soothing to knit on auto-pilot.

It's a Lacy Baktus, one of my favourite patterns, very simple, extremely wearable. However, my attention span being rather short, I've also cast on for a new design. This one is bottom up and here's the lower hem.

It's my first project with Rowan's Felted Tweed Aran, and I'm loving it so far. Having spent about a half hour doing calculations before casting on, it's clearly the opposite of a no-brainer, but I'm stumped for what the word for that might be. A puzzle?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


OK, it's out of my system for a little while. I've spun half of the Malabrigo Nube and it looks like this.

What I have here is 45g of fingering-weight, quite a lot of yardage. I won't wait too long to spin the remainder. I find it's best to do this sort of work in a short time frame to maintain consistency.
Bill and I spent most of yesterday re-arranging the master bedroom, taking apart the old pine bed we bought around the time we were married and replacing it with a new old (as in antique) pine bed we bought down the street at an estate sale. No knitting or spinning at all in the last 24 hours, and I'm feeling grumpy for the lack of it. Guess you know what I'll be doing today...