'Love it All...

In only a couple of rows I'll be starting the charted yoke pattern - the first element of which will be a lovely little bobble. 
I love how there's a whole sweater hanging from one circular needle.
I also love the orderly little decreases at the fake side seams...
Wrong side of the fake side seam - 'love that too...
And the progression up the side to the yet to be grafted underarm stitches...
On other fronts - 'love the new little wall that creates a bit of privacy for the water heater, blocking the mess of plumbing that surrounds it from constant view.
Where you see the solid grey, there used to be holes gouged out of the floor. The holes are now history. 'Gotta love that!
Finally - look how orderly this new outlet looks. Frankly, I love that too.
'Hope you feel the love today!


Light Bulb Time!

The sun is just coming up - everyone left together this morning and the workmen won't be here for an hour and a half. Peace (and hot black coffee) in the early sunshine - pretty fab!

The lighting installation was done by end of day yesterday. I'm thrilled about it. Eleven halogen pot lights in the rec room will finally allow me to to see what I'm knitting down there. Halogen pots in the hallways will also tie in the lower level with the upper level where such lighting has already been installed. Look how soft and beautiful the light is  - even in this shot of Number One Son's luggage as he left for Quebec in the wee hours this morning. I'm thrilled. Thrilled. Thrilled!

The now thicker wall around the window will soon feature a beautiful deep windowsill - another big favourite of mine. 

 The drywall arrives today along with the cabinets for the laundry room. I won't be here for the big arrivals - I have to source a counter top. I discovered yesterday that the custom sized one I had in mind will be just stupidly expensive so I changed the layout for the laundry room - we're back to stacking the laundry pair rather than running counter over the top of them. This of course has changed the cabinetry layout but with Ikea cabinets that's no problem.We did the kitchen reno thing a bout four years ago. That cabinet exercise was so exacting, so stressful and had such long lead times. This cheap and cheerful approach is much more relaxed.

The insulation is 9/10ths done. It made the room feel warmer almost immediately.

My Beloved is most excited about another arrival today - the guys who will give us the ideal plan for the sound and television system. Throughout our children's lives we've worked to never celebrate TV or any screen activity as "entertainment". In fact its only in the last three or four years that the TV has ever been on in the evenings during week. During elementary school the kid's lives were very busy with school, sports teams of every possible variety and with significant musical endeavours. Their limited time at home was filled with homework and practice and for pleasure in the evenings we read aloud to them. We felt strongly we should model the behaviour we wanted them to develop so during those years there was no TV for us in the evenings either - at least until they were sound asleep!

This approach was sometimes a point of contention and they often tested and challenged us on it but we generally held firm, its all they've ever known, so now its their habit. Hence last week when we disconnected the TV and My Beloved and I were discussing where to set it up for the period of the construction, Number One Son said "can't we just do without it?" Darling Daughter chimed in that she certainly wouldn't miss it.

Its  funny (and a little bit scary!), how  kids regard as "normal" whatever their formative years consistently look like. We designed and enforced the TV and screen time limits when they were young and now its more natural for them than for us! So the Dad is uber excited at the prospect of a long overdue upgrade to our entertainment systems while the kids are comparatively blase about the whole thing. 'Talk about a light bulb going on!

Happy Wednesday everyone!



Missive From Amid the Mess

The last few days the house has been variously without power, heat and/or water, each of these on their own and sometimes in combination for extra fun and excitement. Sometimes its planned and others a special surprise.  Perhaps in sympathy my mouse seems to be loosing its ability to left click which interestingly seems to be more difficult to cope with than all three of the others combined. 

I'm still shopping around like a maniac for the bits I need to go into this hastily arranged renovation/redecoration, helping out with my brother, hosting a little impromptu dinner party here Saturday - are we nuts? - and of course leaving the whole mess behind to go skiing on Sunday - we are nuts!!

Being clearly nuts aside, I do have to say both the Saturday evening break in the program and the ski day that saw the four of us together from the pre-dawn drive north through watching the Oscars together in the master bedroom on the only working TV in the place were both very nice breaks in the renovation/redecoration marathon. (Our first exploratory meeting with the contractor was only two weeks ago tonight!)

Yesterday I headed to my mother's with last week's laundry. The absence of electricity, water, washing machine and laundry sink made doing it here a bit tricky. I cooked dinner at her place for her and Number One Son (The other two were out and about) as the laundry fest continued into the evening, only rolling back in here just before 10:00.

After judging the leak in the laundry room pipes the contractor left behind last night to be something that could wait to be attended to this morning, I made a massive mug of peppermint tea and landed with needles in hand just in time to watch Project Runway Canada. It was the first time in several days I was able to steal a few moments to knit! I can't remember the last time I went so long without knitting. While working on the long stockinette rows between the cables and the point at which the sleeves are joined to the body of Tangled Yoke I felt like a smoker taking long drags on an overdue cigarette. It was calming and grounding and familiar and comfortable. Ahhhhh.

I must admit I have been kind of filling the knitting void by carrying my new copy of the spring issue of Debbie Bliss Knitting around with me, stealing a moment here or there to leaf through it. (In fact that's what I did en route to and from skiing because I just didn't have the energy to organize knitting to take with me) I'm quite smitten with many of the designs. Good thing too because IK's spring issue seems to have nothing that appeals to me.  The mag really does evoke early Martha Stewart with features about DB's travels, collections, inspirations and featuring photography that's longer on mood than illustration. The obvious departure though is what I think is a real absence of good writing. As a fan of DB patterns, books and yarns I've long noted her utterly unimaginative names for designs. So too I find her books never have enough language dedicated to the knits' features, her web site similarly lacks evocative text about her yarns. At this point though I'm probably not capable of enough sustained attention to appreciate anything beyond pretty pictures so I'm nonetheless enjoying the issue immensely. 

Today the electrician is back to finish up connecting the pot lights, outlets and switches that are all in place and with all wires run.  Once he's done, they can start putting in the insulation so that hopefully the drywall can start going up tomorrow.  I'm off to pick up the flooring for the laundry room - hopefully it will be bailed out and dry by tomorrow in time for the floor to be installed. Realistically I'll be doing laundry at my mom's at least one more time but I'm pushing hard to have a working laundry room ready by the end of next week so its ready for the week's 10 loads to be done here.

Number One Son is off very early tomorrow morning on a French ski trip to Quebec. That means another scramble today to get him packed and ready but it also means his laundry for the week will be largly reduced to long underwear!

Thanks for dropping by to follow along with my household adventures - there should at least be some better stuff than stud walls and bare wires to show soon! I'm even hopeful proper knitting content is about to return!


Burning my candle at both ends

I tried to upload these shots yesterday but Blogger was having none of it...

Demo was complete as of Wednesday afternoon and the site left very nicely tidied and ready for the work Thursday of putting up the stud walls.

Despite hanging plastic over the doorways and turning the furnace down to minimize air flow, the dust lingering in the air did travel around the house - rather nasty for my family of allergy sufferers. So Wednesday evening we shifted dinner to Grandma's for the kids while My Beloved and I headed out to finalize a few choices for flooring etc. early enough that I could get down to the DKC meeting for 7:00ish. Once again though the weather conspired against me - snow made traffic very slow, My Beloved was late getting up to this end of the city to meet me and 7:30 found us still in midtown, armpit deep in carpet and flooring samples.

We didn't even make it home until 9:30 but at least by the then the air in the house had cleared.

Yesterday was less productive for our dear contractor and his team. The multi tasking of dealing with the lighting plan and the electrician and frankly, me, threw him right off his game and he called it a day hours early. I wish I could just do that! Instead I spent the afternoon once again sourcing materials and running household errands I had all of 25 minutes to shower and change for a black tie business dinner which then had us out until almost midnight. Darling Daughter and her boyfriend had "created" dinner for themselves and Number One Son so we arrived home to a marginally clean kitchen and a house reeking of garlic and rosemary - 'seems they forgot to turn on the exhaust fan.

This morning the alarm went off at 5:00 to get Number One Son to school for the 6:00 am departure to ski country for the school winter activity day, and My Beloved to the subway - it was good to get an early start through because I needed to shovel the driveway of our new dump of snow (8" or so overnight) so the work men's trucks get in and they can access all their stuff etc.

This morning I have a funeral to attend (neighbour and father of a childhood friend) then grocery shopping - we have nothing left to eat in this house - then more shopping for the basement. I've planned today as an away day because the power and so heat will be turned off in here as the electrician replaces and upgrades the electrical panel.

Are you seeing a pattern here that seems to be absent of knitting? I certainly am! Yesterday I happily stumbled across a copy of the Debbie Bliss magazine for Spring '09 while waiting for some prescriptions to be ready at the pharmacy.  I have a wee little hope that if I have to camp at my mom's at some point - I'll be able to have a cup of tea and look through it. Poor neglected Tangled Yoke, all on one needle and ready to fly forward may get some attention tonight if I don't pass out in my dinner. I hate to even ask Darling Daughter what her plans for this evening are - the prospect of having to wait up makes me want to whimper.  As Brenda pointed out in the comments - I can only "hope" she's home around midnight! Thank goodness reading week is almost over - too bad this basement project has only just begun!

Have a great weekend! 



And So it Begins

The demolition on the basement has begun, hence I'm on the run so this will be brief...

I made it to the point of joining sleeves to body of Tangled Yoke last night, I just can't seem to locate my camera in the melee here this morning so you'll have to take my word for it.

With nothing of interest to report on the knitting front I should at least give you an interesting link to check out. Brenda has been providing knit blog reading gold this week with...
  • an outline of how she took a top down sweater with a hand knit yoke and quickly finished it with a machine knit body
  • a formula for converting guage from the yarn stipulated in a pattern to the yarn of your choice while also changing the sizing of a one size fits all design.
Hopefully I'll get out of here tonight to catch this month's DKC meeting after meeting My Beloved at the flooring store to finalize what I need to order for the basement.

Have a great day everyone!



Mission (pretty much) Accomplished

The kids and I grunted our way through yesterday, wrestling a huge bookcase (and its even "huger" quantity of books) as well as the piano and everything else in the family and laundry rooms, into new temporary homes. Phew!

Today I will tidy up the last few bits and pieces and transport the frozen food to my mom's for storage in her freezer before our old second fridge is sent to the curb tomorrow. I will also enjoy the quiet of 
the lull before the storm because today...
  • Number One Son is back at school after a four day weekend.
  • Darling Daughter, on reading week from University, is out and about downtown with friends. 
  • My Beloved is still in the throes of his busiest week of the year and so is once again gone until late evening.
  • The contractor, for whom the entire lower level of the house has been readied in time for him to arrive this morning has put off starting demolition until tomorrow - just in time for a messy rain snow mix (today is pure, mild sunshine). Why are renovation plans ALWAYS a crap shoot?
'All very interesting I know but what about the knitting??? I got some time on the needles last evening so the second sleeve of Tangled Yoke is now  4 1/2 inches from being ready to join with the sweater's other two pieces on one circular needle.
Not bad considering this time yesterday less than 4" of that last sleeve had been knit! 
With only two for dinner tonight, I should have time to finish the sleeve, be on one needle with all three pieces and do a couple of rounds of the stockinette south of the tangled yoke cable by the time Darling Daughter rolls in around midnight!


Yucktastic Weekend Chez Sel & Poivre

In the vein of making lemonade from lemons, I focused Saturday on how well these beet and blue potato chips went with Valentine's Day!  (Pretty, all natural, no preservatives or artificial colours - love it - and after all "love" is what Valentine's Day is all about right?!)

All weekend though I had almost no time to knit. Instead I was wildly racing to be ready for workmen and dumpster Tuesday morning and mourning the fact My Beloved had to work.

What progress I did make on Tangled Yoke is pictured below. The body is now finished to the underarm as is left sleeve. As you can see the right sleeve is still in its infancy so now it will receive whatever attention I do have to give.

If I wasn't so distracted with emptying the lower level of our house on my own with the kids today I'd probably be quite excited at the prospect of putting all three pieces onto one needle and getting the best part of the this knit - the Tangled Yoke!


Happy Valentine's Day!

Knit last August in the heat of the summer, filled with last year's lavender harvest and having already received an FO post these feel nonetheless also perfect for a knit blog post today!

Have a happy Valentine's Day everybody!


Tangled Yoke at Two Weeks

From the back...
...and the front...
Adding length  1/4" here in garter rib section...
And also one extra row between each increase row in the stockinette section.
One sleeve is done...
The second is on its way (and yes, for those of you with sharp eyes,  just "north" of the CO edge I did make a "P2K2" row into a straight knit row. It will be rendered undetectable with duplicate "stitch" rather than duplicate "effort" - no ripping back and reknitting on this petit problèm! 
I don't know exactly where my focus will be this weekend.  Concerted effort on this would likely bring joining all pieces together into the rhealm of possibility by early next week but I've got to scramble if I'm going to have the DKC Diamond scarf blocked and ready for next Thursday's show and tell. The thing with that knit though is that I really can't sustain focus on that pattern long enough to knit more than two 12 row repeats without starting to make stupid errors. Given that, I may have to just bail on my goal for this month and aim for next month's meeting.

Meanwhile, depending on how I choose to look at it we're about to undertake either a minor renovation or major redecoration of our family room. Demo of existing panelling, ceiling and flooring would ideally start next week (no walls will be removed, no plumbing relocated, no doorways added or revamped - thank goodness) but the prospect of possibly four weeks of our admittedly wonderful contractor and his gang of merry men in the house makes me cringe. Over the past several years, as we slowly but surely continue the unending work of updating/maintaining our 40 something year old house I've cumulatively spent months in the daily company of this group. They are good guys with strong professionalism but the mess and the unexpected things that inevitably spring up are always challenging. I also make more work for myself by paying close attention to what they're doing, encouraging and acknowledging and serving coffee and fresh baked treats and cleaning up the work site every night after they leave. This attentiveness goes a long way towards ensuring the best possible outcome for the job and in the end that's what its all about!

Its a long "Family Weekend" in Ontario but My Beloved will be working throughout the whole thing. There'll be no skiing - scratch 4 hours drive time of knitting on that count. Then I'll be flying solo between flooring, tile and stone showrooms - no time to knit in the car if I'm driving :( ! 


Blocking Crochet

As I posted yesterday, my mom is working on a crocheted jacket and I offered to block the single piece that makes up the body using my new blocking trinkets and tips. 
Its a good thing I did too because it would have taken up too much room in her apartment and doubt her knees could have withstood the crouching and crawling. Memo to self - insert ALL blocking wires - not just the long ones around the perimeter BEFORE pinning anything to the board! 
The measurements for this piece were 5 inches wider and three inches longer than what I tucked into the washing bag for its first SOAK yesterday.

Both in terms of the stitch design and the shaping its a very linear piece. 

This, combined with how far it had to stretch, I assure you would have been impossible to manage without the wires and the board and the instructions from Patrick's DKC workshop all brought to bear.

See how, even pinned and with wires it stubbornly pulled away from its original moorings as it dried?

Speaking of drying, with the fan on it was dry by the time I went to bed last night. (I couldn't go to sleep without sneaking down to pat it and check on the progress!) The pins remind me of little soldiers at attention - all on duty to keep things under control until the danger of shrinking is past. 
In the end, once fully dry this morning and after all the pins and wires were removed, the piece did spring back about an inch in both directions.  The fabric feels much more fluid and now has a lovely drape where before it was thick, dense and pretty stiff. I put this off to the fact its crocheted but obviously proper blocking has taken it to a point closer to its actual potential. On behalf of my mother the crocheter, once again thank you Patrick Madden! 

BTW the jacket is a kit from Sheldridge Farm purchased at last year's DKC Knitter's Frolic. Without attending the Frolic there's no chance my mom would ever have had opportunity to consider or buy this pattern and yarn. This year the Frolic is April  25-26th.- the marketplace, with vendors from all over is worth the trip alone but there are also two days of workshops - maybe Patrick will be teaching again!


Knitting? Laundry? A Bit of Both!

At the DKC finishing workshop I learned a bunch of great tips for finishing garments. One of the big topics of course was blocking which obviously also needs to be done whenever a knit is washed. The instructor, Patrick Madden brought a number of pieces that he'd put through the "wash" that very morning. Each knit was neatly folded and in a separate zipped washing bag. There were two sizes of bags for large or small items. (One of my errands last week was to get me some 'o those bags so this week's laundry day found me ready to refresh my hand knit collection.) Using Patrick's suggestions here's what I did...

I started by filling the washer with cold water and a dribble of SOAK a bit ahead of time to let the water warm up a wee bit.

 Meanwhile I sorted the sweaters into groups of like colours, used my handy dandy clothes shaver to remedy pilling while I checked for spots or areas that looked dirty and might need spot treatment.

Each knit was then folded and placed in an appropriate sized bag.

After sorting to make a light and a dark load I dropped the bags for the first load into the machine, hand agitated them a bit and left them for 20 minutes before advancing the machine to the spin cycle.
 Once that cycle was done I moved the bags around in the tub and spun them again.

What came out after that were damp bags with still folded sweaters inside. They required no hand squeezing to remove excess water yet weren't dripping and still folded in the bags, were neither wrinkled nor stretched out of shape nor were they dripping wet or slithering out of my grip.

Then it was off to the blocking board. (I've had this board for many years but I've only ever used it for sewing. Patrick strongly advocated the use of these cardboard types for blocking knits, explaining...
  • The printing on the boards is useful for aligning sides, hems, shoulders etc. and is fully colour fast.
  • Their corrugated construction allows for pinning, using blocking wires, or even steaming with an iron just above the surface of the knit.
  • To free up floor space while knits are drying he even advocated setting the board upright once a knit is fully pinned in place. I didn't try that yesterday but you have to know I sure plan to!
On the board then it was a question of finessing the garments into their intended shape and dimensions (This gave me an idea - as part of my FO housekeeping when I'm filing my marked pattern and notes, used needles and remaining yarn, adding to my Ravelry info, my Flickr account and the blog I'm also going to make a little laundry and blocking card summarizing washing instructions and illustrating ideal measurements for each hand knit. I'll store them in the laundry room for easy reference.)

Anyway, back to the damp knits, once all spread out, I added a portable fan (again a recommendation from Patrick) to really speed up the drying which of course it really did.

Now I'm ready to continue with the next batch of knits AND block out the body panel of a jacket my mother is in the process of crocheting. (I can't get over how it doesn't look anything like crochet!)
Patrick advocated working assembly with pre blocked pieces because with proper blocking they become...
  • flat 
  • straight 
  • their stitches are set and so quite visible
  • they are the right size and shape so should fit together exactly.
NB  I'm only touching on a wee bit of what Patrick shared that day with us - if you get a chance to take this session with him I'd recommend it!

So now its back to the basement for me to finish up my "knittinglaundry"! Have a great day!



I've been on the fly for a few days but the first sleeve of Tangled Yoke saw completion as a result of having it cast on and ready to take along on my travels.

The body received less attention as evening commitments severely limited my usual knitting time. When I did get some in it was late evening, waiting up for Darling Daughter to get home. A few stupid errors resulted from knitting while trying (not always successfully) to keep from dozing off. So there has been a bit of picking back - nothing major, just a bit of a drag on progress forward. I'm nonetheless only a few rows from being finished with the garter rib portion on the body. Once I hit the stockinette things will fly along (for a while at least).  I need to move live stitches to sections of waste yarn on the sleeve that's done so its ready for joining with the yoke when the time comes and to free up the dpn's to cast on for the second sleeve. 

The tilting blocks scarf is nearing the 2/3's done mark. 'Having memorized the pattern I've picked up the pace so in the course of a single cup of tea I'm doing two blocks of 12 stitch repeat before my concentration wanes where early on I could only manage one. This silky, shiny piece is sure a nice break from the knit and purl in the scratchier Felted Tweed wool of Tangled Yoke. 

Another "WIP" of sorts - Darling Daughter to be specific ;) - had her birthday yesterday so I put on a big family dinner to celebrate.  To maximize room for guests in the Living Room I had to move the giant basket of yarn that sits inspiring me, awaiting swatching for the Fair Isle 

I set it beside my bed and awoke today to see its brimming potential in the half light of pre dawn.Its has me motivated to squeeze every minute of knitting time out of the day I can possibly find so I can finish with the garter rib on Tangled Yoke. I don't want to start swatching for the Fair Isle Cardigan until I'm cruising through the stockinette section on T.Y.! 

In the meantime its laundry day and I plan to try some new sweater washing/re blocking tricks I learned at the finishing workshop last weekend. Thanks for dropping by. Have a great day!


Debbie Bliss Pencil Case FO

Pattern: Pencil Case from Premier Issue - Debbie Bliss Knits Magazine
Yarn: Remnants Debbie Bliss Cotton DK
Colours: Duck Egg, Stone, White
Start: October 20, 2008 Finish: February 3, 2009

I stitched this pattern from the Premier issue of the D.B. Knit Magazine back in the fall using Debbie Bliss Cotton DK remnants. Not having a lot of call for pencil cases around here these days I'm going to use it to house my knitting notions. 
I knit on this until I ran out of yarn, modifying the pattern's alternating colour instructions to add a solid colour section that better utilized the unequal amounts of yarn I had to play with. After blocking with steam I left the little rectangle and bit of a cotton remnant from my fabric stash that I thought would make a nice lining in the mending pile awaiting the next time I wrangled the sewing machine out into the light of day.

I sewed in the lining and attached the zipper to the sides on the weekend during my Saturday mend-a-thon.

 'Basted in the zipper last night. The zipper work is really the challenge of this little piece. Garter stitch is particularly stretchy of course and that makes it tricky to attach to the zipper that is free of all stretch. The last zipper I installed was along  a moss stitch edging - much less stretchy, much easier installation. As with any zipper, careful pinning and basting is the key - oh and ripping it out and redoing it a couple of times helps too. Anyone who saw yesterday's post and went to the VK 360 site saw the Fair Isle Cardigan I'm about to start has a major zipper aspect to it. This was good practice in anticipation of that exercise. With the work now done on this little piece, this morning I'll spray it with Scotch Guard inside and out to prevent it from getting grotty.

Tonight I'll enjoy having it out of the UFO pile, once again among my WIP's - this time as a working FO!