Darling Daughter's First Knit FO

Its done!

'Posting this as "Coach" rather than knitter...
This baby will be leaving on a jet plane. 'Must admit I'll likely miss it when its gone!

Pattern: Alberta by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool and Noro
Needles: 5mm
Start: September 5 Finish: October 5, 2015
Mods: None

The beginner's 1x1 rib was helped immensely by threading blocking wires under each knit column/over each purl ditch during blocking.
The knitting is all hers but Darling Daughter insists coaching made a big difference in making this FO happen quickly and pretty painlessly too because basic knitting is really quite simple and I pointed her towards a pattern than was almost exclusively knitting in a straight line and a yarn that was forgiving of dropped stitches.

She did a great job carrying yarn up at the start of round - not a pucker or loose length in sight!

DD didn't have to waste time fixing things or ripping back because I was there to quickly right wrongs/clarify written instructions and abbreviations.
Double Crochet Steek Reinforcement makes a gorgeous finished edge inside.
Just a few shaping rounds in the whole vest makes this a great pattern for a beginner

She listened when I encouraged her to invest in good quality materials and take care finishing and blocking. These things, are not evident to a new knitter but make such a difference to the finished product and so, I assume, to the satisfaction with the whole experience.

I must say as I look at the vest this morning I'm struck by how beautifully the yarns work together post blocking. The fabric has a nice, solid drape to it. It feels surprisingly rich rather than fluffy and light after its bath. Quite masculine I think. How apt.

Now, all that remains is a cross-Atlantic flight, a few days in Amsterdam followed by a quick stop in London before DD hops a train to Yorkshire to finally reciprocate the lovely bookends she received last spring. Only THEN we will find out if it fits!!!!!

Nightmare Tubular Cast On (turned out quite well after a rocky start - way too challenging for a first timer!)
Speaking of "Fit" we arrived at the size DD knit by examining photos of the young recipient sitting in chairs at our cottage that we could actually measure for scale. Calculations were done from there. I've told her if the thing is a bit too short/long/tight/loose to note the issues with a tape measure and bring it back for re-blocking. No doubt there's lots of room for tweeking the fit with another dip in Eucalan and water.

If that happens Number One Son will be home for Christmas and can take it back to the UK with him at the New Year. We won't be putting this one in the mail if I can help it - can you imagine the heartbreak if it went missing?

So another knitting adventure comes to a close. Only time will tell if Darling Daughter ever picks up yarn and needles again but I feel sure if she wants to she will do so with confidence and more than a bit of experience under her belt.

As for me, I'm taking off my "Coaching Hat" so the knitter in me can consider an "Alberta" for my own project basket!


So Many Topics - So Little Time

As the sky lightens on our third cool autumn day of the season I can see the leaves on our huge backyard maple tree are beginning to change. Its like October arrived and flipped the "Autumn Switch" setting this knitter's brain into overdrive.

Wish I could capture the steam coming off this Cider Laced Almond, Ginger Oatmeal with currants - Its almost to pretty to eat!

No wonder. Atop the shift in weather this week I've... 
  • worn wool
  • talked wool
  • shopped wool
  • bought wool
  • overseen the cutting of steeks
  • basked in the fun of watching Darling Daughter finish her first knitted garment
  • read about Wool Week festivities in Britain - especially Shetland, wished I could go and dreamt of planning to someday soon.
  • tidied up the final details on My Beloved's Bfl Cardigan "Slade" with hands down the most beautiful yarn I have ever worked with.
So, so much more to say on this later!

Meanwhile I'm also mentally racing around the ideas of

  • Slow Fashion October
  • Knitting for my autumn wardrobe
  • Knitting for my winter wardrobe
  • Christmas Gift Knitting.
  • What Darling Daughter might best knit next (assuming she will want another project after successfully delivering her surprise gift when she's in the U.K. later this month.)
See what I mean? Bursting. But first things first.

A few deep breaths then report on my little mid week yarn shopping adventure...

Our first stop Wednesday was Knit-O-Matic in a shiny new larger location just up the street from the original tiny shop. Its now at least twice the size of the first, lots of natural light, high ceilings and mirrors to check out colours against the skin. There's room to sit or set something down and everything's painted white so one can focus on the yarn. (Rest assured the resident Love Bird is still there - so fun - I love stores with animals hanging about!)

There's parking on the nearest side street and the street car line that stops at the door is one that offers 2 hour on and off privileges.

The best thing about the shop, though, is the owner. One of those unflappable people - matter of fact without being indifferent, present, attentive, very knowledgeable and let us explore and discover on our own without interruption yet there to help as soon as we needed anything.

I love that she warned us away from some yarns we were considering as she felt we'd be disappointed with the results given what we were hoping to achieve. She was even able to demonstrate how inappropriate they might be versus a better choice with well labelled swatches.

'Been searching for a sweater quantity of this ever since talking with Viola at the Frolic in April - now finally I have it!

My credit card came out while I was there (more on that later - 'just trying to stay focused here today). My Aunt, who was along with me, left with a few ideas to mull around until next time and there will be a "next time" quite soon because the whole experience there left us feeling calm, capable and grounded where so often one emerges from yarn stores just feeling frazzled and unsure.

Second stop, 10 minutes drive south, was the new location of Ewe Knit.

The huge shop, previously a Credit Union office, is best described as GORGEOUS. It's deep and wide with lower ceilings than in their original location (a Victorian row house). Set up and styled to be of the moment with raw wood and painted black trim punctuated with girly chandeliers and well placed embellished antiques. Its a polished and compelling display of the tactile and visual possibilities of knitting and needlework stocked with goods that reminded me of the inventory at Purl Soho in Manhattan.

The lighting in the shop is amazing. There's natural light through the south facing windows but the ambient lighting throughout is low, punctuated by halogen spotlit columns of pure light that allow the consideration of a colour or yarn with focus and clarity as the surrounding visual distractions fade into the darker background.

One of the things I've always loved about Eweknit are the knitted sample garments on display and often featured on the their website. In the new shop they take pride of place, carefully laid out in distinct colour groups on big wide tables greeting you with delicious possibilities as you enter.

Now my Aunt loves gleaning project ideas from yarn store samples she can see, feel and try on and within moments of walking through the door she had the materials for a lovely store-designed cowl in Cascade Eco Duo "Zebra". It looks very graphic in the skein and sounds contrasty in the name too but it knits up visually softer than the yarn appears with the hard-to-believe-this-stuff-grew-on-an-animal softness that only Alpaca can deliver.

(Given my Aunt's knitting style I bet that cowl is ready for wearing before the weekend's out.)

Of course the glamourous and effusive owner Claudia was there, as ever seeming more hostess than shopkeeper and so making you feel like you could well spend the day there and be welcome to do so too. There are also two other staff  able to help with the details of selection and purchase.

Its hard to say whether I was so well satisfied with our almost contemplative time in Knit-O-Matic and my purchases there that the details of the Eweknit yarn were lost on me this visit but I ended up walking out with a yard of cotton in an autumn print that will soon become a cushion cover either here or at the cottage.

Goodness but we had fun, well suited to the freshly brisk weather tempered by a still quite warm sun. If you're local to Toronto I'd highly recommend checking out either (or, better still, both) shops.

If further afield, and say, shopping with American dollars, why not take a trip up here and get a real bang for your yarn shopping buck? These two stores are only a couple of the great LYS's Toronto knitters enjoy and if you were coming from somewhere really warm (like Texas or something ;) ) I can assure you the cool fall air and changing leaves on the trees is a compelling context indeed to fuel your knitting imagination!

Okay. I'm cutting myself off there! Obviously lots more to post about next week!

We are heading north for a cool Autumnal weekend with lots of time by the fireside indoors and also maybe outside too! I'll leave Darling Daughter to tidy up loose ends on the vest and be back Sunday afternoon to help her block it.

Happy First Week of Autumn everybody! Thanks for dropping by!


Cutting Happened

Only one armhole - but it went perfectly.

(Heading off this morning for my two-stop-yarn-shop survey but I'm rushing to get this up before I leave because I thought you'd want to know.)

Rather than do all the cutting at once she worked the ribbed edging to the point of casting off, then put it on a string so she could see just what she had done. After that it was time to stop for the night.

This project needs to be in a suitcase en route to its recipient in England next Friday. There isn't time for errors/reworking and with her limited experience fatigue could lead to disaster. I've told her measured calm and working only when she has the focus and energy to do so will help immensely in avoiding trouble and she's been very accepting of that advice.

Its interesting when I suggest she just stop and leave it or encourage her to complete an element before setting it down. Her blissful freedom of passion for the process makes her quite open to doing whatever that process demands. There's no burning urge to just "do one more stripe". She's not unreasonably eager to "see how it looks with everything cut open" like I would be.

As in most aspects of her personality this girl is 180 degrees different from her mother. I'm compelled by the knitting process so much I must force myself to focus on the product whereas this "knitting thing" is simply a means to an end for her.

The vest is a reciprocation for a set of almost magical bookends made with her initials for her last spring. (She is a lifelong avid reader so bookends are a particularly fitting gift.)

The sliding "ends" are beautifully and exactingly carved in one piece, their curved footings wrapping the wooden base prior assembly. They slide side to side yet at the same time can hold books or magazines in place.

Clever and beautiful.

Hence you can see how the bookends set the bar pretty high for this vest but I've also talked with her about "picking her battles" and recognizing absolute perfection is not a realistic goal here. Its something knitters need to come to terms with at some point right?

Sleeve steek #2 is on the schedule for tonight.

Before that I'll be exploring yarn shops and with the temperature dropping significantly overnight I'll be able to wear a wool sweater to do it! Oh my goodness what an embarrassment of knitting riches today!

I'm off!