Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve Fusion

On the eve of James' birthday, we're having traditional tortiere. For my American readers, this is a French Canadian pork pie typically served in the Xmas through New Year's period. When we were in Wash, DC, I made this once when we were entertaining fellow Canadian expats. One of the guests almost cried when he saw the pie, which reminded him of his mother's home cooking. For the recipe, see this earlier blog post.
To accompany the pie I made an apple chutney this afternoon, after walking downtown for some fresh ginger. There was a biting wind, but it didn't seem to deter the skaters in Market Square.

My favourite chutney comes from the original Moosewood Cookbook. Anglo/Indian condiment meets French Canadian main course in a sort of culinary fusion.
At the same time, the Fusion cardigan is coming along.

I'm also washing and repairing some of James' knitted garments, preparatory to their (and his) return to Toronto next week. Happy New Year. Stay warm!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Boxing Day

This day-after-Boxing Day, I thought I'd have a look back at some previous Boxing Day posts for some insight into why I love this holiday so much.

As the "No JAM" post reminds me, I have a birthday to contend with, and a son who has a new sweater request. It's great to knit for someone who really appreciates (and wears) my knits. So, I e-mailed him a few Ravelry men's favourites to score on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, to help me home in on just what he's looking for in his sweater. Then I wandered into Chris James, a local high-end men's clothing shop where my James is working over the holidays while he's home from University, and he showed me some sweaters there that he likes. So, now I have some ideas for the direction this new sweater is going to take. I won't get it done in time for the big day (January 1), but I'll have made a start and it should be ready to try on when he comes home (I hope) for Reading Week in mid-February.
Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Random Updates

1. Fusion, the purple version, is coming along, albeit slowly. Some knitters cruise along at high speed at this time of year. Not this knitter. Too much interference from family, holiday events, etc. I'm almost done the body (just the lower border left), but the sleeves shouldn't take long.

I know, I know, we knitters always think like that and then something horrible happens. I'm optimistic, though. BTW, that's the front steek over on the right, in case you're wondering. And I won't cut it open until after the entire cardi is done, apart from the front borders. It will hold the fronts together nicely while I do the sleeves.

2. Winter is definitely here. I snatched this pic of the Frontenac County Courthouse while out walking two days ago.

It may be snowing on and off, but at least so far it's not wildly cold.

3. Had my annual fun making baked ornaments. Recipe here.

We like them both as is, and painted. They make lovely small gifts.

Our first set lasted more than 10 years, but lately we've needed to re-make them annually, probably because our damp climate turns them slightly mouldy over the summer.

4. Now for the really BIG NEWS. We have gone from owning two houses, to owning none! Yes, that's right. In November, we realized that our beautiful three-storey limestone townhouse had hit the market at the wrong time. At the same time, Bill was becoming increasingly grumpy about moving out of the downtown. So, we decided to put the Barriefield house (still vacant) back on the market. It sold quickly, and at enough of a profit to cover most of our costs, to a doctor just moved here from England with his young family. We promptly took down the For Sale sign on our downtown house, and then on that same day we unexpectedly received an unconditional offer on it. Since in the words of our agent, that offer was "gold", we accepted, although thankfully our closing date isn't until summer. We have all spring to find yet another place for ourselves. Crazy, I know. Makes life exciting!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Getting On with It

With snow squalls raging outside this afternoon (in between brief bursts of pale winter sunlight), I'm forging ahead with Isabel's "Fusion" cardigan in Quince's Chickadee with "Frank's Plum" as the main colour.

This is one of those stitch patterns that gets radically transformed by blocking. See how the fabric looks in the grey version? It reminds me to slow down and wet block the current version before starting in on the fair isle border. Undoubtedly, there's going to be some growth in the length department.

I'll use the hiatus to scrounge around for some more of these little buttons.

They're so perfect with both the grey and plum variations. Stay warm!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Liz's Pussyhat

When I heard about the Pussyhat Project a few days ago, I came home and discussed it with Isabel, who was born and lived the first fifteen years of her life in Washington, DC. She thought it would be a great idea to make a hat to send to the project, so I looked up the pattern on the project's website. Not wanting to knit a long strip and then seam it together, I wrote my own version, seamless of course, because who has time for seaming? It's knitted bottom up so you get the stretchiness of the longtail cast-on, and because it's so stretchy it fits a wide range of head sizes.

It's not a perfect, fancy kitty hat like this one, but is meant to be quick and easy. The idea is to make a big visual impact at the Women's March on Washington on January 21. I read today in the Washington Post that the National Park Service has not yet handed out permits for any marches in the days surrounding Mr. Trump's inauguration. However, a starting location has been set for the Women's March, and it is expected to go ahead regardless. If you can't be there and want to show your support, knit a hat (my version is here) and send it to the project for someone to wear. There's a label to the wearer for you to fill out if you wish, on which you can communicate which women's issues matter most to you. Grab some pink yarn and get going!
P.S. Yes, this is a slightly different version than the one you saw here yesterday! We decided we preferred the version with the "ears" unsewn and left to curl on their own.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What ever happened to...

Last spring, when I was interviewed by Andrea for her Fruity Knitting Podcast, I indicated that I would soon be publishing my Fusion cardigan. 

I had the pattern all written up, and a version made up for myself,

but I was waiting for Isabel to come back home in the summer for photos. Then we put our house up for sale and I got bogged down with all the cleaning and house showings and more cleaning, and to make a long story short, I never did get those photos. Finally, I'm getting on with this project, but the publication will probably be closer to Xmas. You see, I'm knitting up a whole new colourway for Isabel, who is now back home and job hunting.

You'd be right if you think I can't seem to get enough of this terrific fairisle motif. The pattern is coming, I promise.
P.S. If you happen to be in the Portsmouth area of Kingston, be sure to swing by this knock-your-socks-off example of yarn bombing on the fence at the corner of Francis and Churchill.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I've always had a thing for red shoes. There's an old photo of me, age 3, in a photo album buried away in a trunk, wearing a smocked dress and red shoes. I look pretty pleased with myself. I still love red, especially at this time of the year as we count down the last month to the winter solstice.

The schoolhouse wall, as seen from the back of our house.

Crabapple tree a couple of weeks ago.

Procession entering Grant Halll at Queen's University last week during Convocation.
So yesterday evening I reached for a basket full of skeins from Philosopher's Wool. I had purchased the skeins as part of a kit at the last Rhinebeck Festival attended by Ann and Eugene and I had meant to make Ann's Kilim Jacket. Problem is, I've changed my mind since then. The Kilim is really too boxy and oversized for 2016. This, below, is more the silhouette I favour for this cardigan/jacket. (There might be a little disagreement with Isabel about the collar. She favours no collar, the better to wear with shirts/blouses with collars, while I prefer the face-framing character of a wide shawl collar.)

It's inspired by the shape of this, below, from Vogue, 2011. OK, the hair is a bit much, as it often is in Vogue Knitting, but I love the cardigan silhouette and also the styling, with the layered, but flowing, pieces.

So, now I'm playing...

P.S. That's actually red at the bottom of the swatch, even though here it's taken on a distinctly pink overtone. The camera lies. And now I need red even more, after this happened two days ago. Winter isn't just coming. It's here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


In advance of my workshops on the 19th of this month, I am releasing Yule, suitable as a first stranded knitting project.

Detail of corrugated ribbing.

Blocking on a dinner plate.

On the head (obviously!)
Here's what the pattern blurb says:

This easy tam was designed as a first project for students in my stranded knitting classes. The stitch pattern is adapted from the “Snowstar” mitten in Inger and Ingrid Gottfridsson’s delightful little gem, “The Mitten Book”, translated from the Swedish and first published by Lark Books in 1984.

The tam has a few rounds of corrugated ribbing, only one round with carries long enough to require weaving in, and no colourwork at all in the crown shaping. The colour changes are taken care of by the yarn, Noro’s Silk Garden. Be sure to select a solid background colour with a good degree of contrast. Choose a wool that is not superwash treated to allow the hat to be blocked into the classic tam shape. You can probably complete this project in a weekend, making it perfect for holiday gifting.

And it's free as of now on Ravelry here

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Day of Workshops

It's time to get ready for the gift season. While I try to avoid last minute knitting for gifts (knitting to a deadline seems to suck the joy out of the process for me), I know that lots of you put on a push to make a few items for family and friends. And even I usually end up doing a little of this no matter how much I try not to. What are my favourite gift items? Hats. No need to make a pair, as is the case with mitts and socks, and great for using up odds and ends from the stash. Join me on November 19 for a day of skill-boosting just in time for the holidays.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016

Where: 420 Regent St. (Barriefield), Kingston, ON (Unlike our current location, there's plenty of parking!)

Workshop 1 (9-12): All About Stranded Knitting (Fair Isle)
 I'll cover techniques for both one-handed and two-handed methods for stranding, how to weave the carried yarn in at the back of the work, how to work corrugated ribbing, read charts, and make yarn and colour choices. I'll also talk about types of fair isle patterns and designing your own. You'll get a copy of the pattern for this easy tam to try out just in time for gift season.

Workshop 2 (1-4): Dare to Cut! Taking the Mystery Out of Steeking (Cutting)
No knowledge of stranded knitting is required for this class. Learn why cutting is a useful skill to have in your knitting toolbox and why it's not just for fair isle enthusiasts. I'll go over four different methods of creating a steek, or bridge of stitches for cutting, how to work shaping around steeked edges, how to secure the steek, cut, and finish it. By the end of the workshop you'll have lost your
fear of cutting, and opened up new avenues for your passion.
Cost: Half day--$30
          Full day--$50
Bring your own lunch. Coffee and tea provided.
How to Register: Send me a message at I'll contact you with information about course materials, which are minimal and how to pay in advance via Paypal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tutorial: A New All-in-One Shawl Collar

This tutorial demonstrates a deeper shawl collar than the one in the original Buttonbox Waistcoat from Knitty, Spring 2013. I've been thinking about this for a while. My previous tutorial on shawl collars presented a two-step format, with the front bands being completed first (laying the base for the collar), and the collar being completed separately. The advantage of that format, as a designer, was that it allowed for some playing around with the collar while leaving the front bands undisturbed. This one-step version involves partial completion of the front bands, then partial completion of the collar, followed by a long cast-off of the whole works in one smooth step. This new version can be adapted for any of my shawl collar garments (Zora, Wakefield Redux, Buttonbox, and Harriet), but for the purposes of this exercise I'm going to set out how to do it for the Buttonbox Waistcoat. Here goes...

1. Using a size 4 mm 32" circ (one size smaller needle than that used for the body), and starting at the bottom of the right front, pick up sts along the right front band, around the collar, and down the left front band. Do so using the same ratios I presented earlier:
- for vertical sections (front bands and the upper V-neck), pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows,
- for diagonal bits (the  V-neck and the short slopes on either side of the back neck) pick up one st for every row,
- in the tiny gaps between the back neck slopes and the centre back neck, work M1s into the horizontal strand in the gap; make the M1s lean toward the centre back neck, i.e. M1L on the right hand side, and M1R on the left hand side.

2. Knit one row. Insert locking st markers where you want your buttonholes to be. The top one should be 3 stitches below the V-neck, and I like the bottom one to be about an inch from the bottom. Space the others accordingly. Place them BETWEEN the two stitches where you want each buttonhole to go. Use locking stitch markers of a different colour to mark where the V-neck begins and ends.

3. Buttonhole row  AND beginning of short rows for collar(RS): *Knit to 2 sts before buttonhole marker, k2tog, YO, k2tog, rep from * until last buttonhole is completed, knit around collar to 2 sts before left side V-neck marker (the second one), SWR (see below), turn.
4. (WS row): Knit to 2 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

5. Knit to 4 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
6. Knit to 4 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

7. Knit to 6 sts before left side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.
8. Knit to 6 sts before right side V-neck marker, SWR, turn.

Cont to work pairs of short rows, working the wraps 2 sts apart until there are 22 wraps on ea side in total (total desired number of garter st ridges minus 3). In this case, I wanted 25 ridges in total (remember that in garter st, it takes 2 rows to make one ridge.)
AT SAME TIME, after 12 ridges (about half the total desired number of ridges) counted from the RS of the waistcoat back (don't count the first ridge which is actually the ridge from Row 8 of the charted pattern), inc approx 3" worth of sts (14 in this example) by the kfb method in the centre back between the shoulders. The increase row must be worked on the side that will become the RS when the collar is flipped over into its position when worn.
After the last SWR and turn, knit to end, ignoring wraps, i.e. don't bother to neaten them (see note below).

Next Row (WS): Knit to end, ignoring wraps, and working (k1, p1) into each YO to complete the buttonholes.

Last Row: Knit.

BO knitwise from the WS, using a 4 mm dpn in your right hand for the front borders (which should be worked rather firmly) and a 5 mm dpn (one size larger needle than for the body) for the collar (which needs to be done in a more relaxed manner). When casting off, work the last 2 sts tog for a neat corner.
Ta da!

General notes on garter stitch short rows: I've used Lucy Neatby's abbreviation SWR for slip, wrap, replace. Slip next st purlwise, bring yarn to opposite side of work, replace the slipped st, turn, and continue. Make the wraps fairly snug. In fact, Lucy talks about "strangling" the wrapped stitch! In garter st there is no need to to do anything more to neaten the wraps. Neither should you slip the first st of the next row as you would do in stocking stitch.

So, here's what the completed deeper shawl collar looks like:

Beautiful fall morning here, but...

chilly. Winter is coming!

P.S. In the course of re-knitting the waistcoat, I uncovered an error in the upper back regarding the placement of the knot pattern. See here for the correct numbers.