Zimmerman on the Brain

I'm starting to think Elizabeth Zimmerman's books should feature a warning lable of some kind.

Yesterday my hands were absent needles and yarn (very unusual but after all I was entitled to a bit of recovery time after my Pi marathon last week) Nonetheless, my brain was busy vicariously knitting along with EZ all day! Her "pithy" words, 'knocking around in my head and it seems I'm powerless to turn them off.

'On line for a bit of distraction - trying to get excited about all the new fall patterns coming out, I looked several times through the new offerings from the Twist Collective. (Mimico is sooo fabulous!) but I kept getting stuck on an article on a "lost" sweater EZ knit decades ago. Clicking over to the advice column by Anne and Kay and they're advising knitters to use up single souvenir skeins by knitting the February Baby Sweater and highlighting how fine yarn is more economical to knit with than thicker alternatives - Knitter's Almanac! - Time to get off line!

I flip through the new VK - Zimmerman's "Ganomy" hat is front and centre and Jared Flood has a feature article channeling her genius of knitting in the round (the article isn't about her but that's all I see as I read it!)

So last night, (My Beloved's out of town, Darling Daughter's, out on the town) Number One Son was enjoying a bit of TV before we head back to the screen-free cottage today, I was fresh and cool from a lovely swim at my sister's, my evening cup of tea in hand, I should have reached for that sock project as I settled in but instead I just flipped open the Almanac to the Aran sweater and vicariously followed along.

Once back to the cottage later today I'll just give over to this Zimmerman thing and hope that Eunny's brilliance awaiting me in the Tangled Yoke and just plain tangles in the red ribbed alpaca scarf to sort through will give a bit of relief.
But I'm also taking a mass of coloured worsted to start swatching for my Fair Isle cardigan. That could be a good distraction but then again, I'll have to try to enjoy that project for its own value rather than regarding it as just creating remants for me to play around with a Zimmerman seamless sweater or three!

'Like I said, warning labels are probably in order - maybe I should make some of my own!

Thanks for dropping by!


Wine Cork Board FO(ish)

A recent post referencing our project to make a wine cork board at the cottage received a few interested comments so I when I was back up north last week I took more snaps to share. To recap, I made a huge error in assessing how much my 3 years' worth of corks would cover which meant we had to revisit how to make this board a reality waaaay in advance of having enough corks to fill it even as the behemoth of a frame that was already assembled and its spattering of roly poly corks hogged the entire cottage dining room table for days on end in July.

In the end My Beloved had the concept of breaking the single expanse of the frame's interior into 5 separate sections by adding four cross pieces. This allowed us to partially fill the middle and outer side sections with wine corks and the remaining two sections with cork boards purchased at a craft store while minimizing the resulting hodge podge appearance.

The board's mitered pine frame is about 7' x 2.5'. (I can't get back far enough in our narrow little hallway to get a better shot)

Its held flush on the wall by two screws over which two slots at the back of the frame simply slide. This keeps any knocks the board might receive from pulling it off the wall as well as providing a nice solid surface for tacking photos up, taking them down and moving them around as I'm keen to do. The corks lie just a bit below the edge of the frame on a thin piece of 1/4" ply wood and are held in place with wood glue.
(There was one coloured cork in the collection - a RED one - obviously my favourite so I took care not to cover it up.)

(Below you can see the corks in the middle section and the cork boards in the sections on either side.
We'll work at filling the three wine cork sections until they are done and then we'll trim the cork board areas to accommodate each year's accumulated corks as we collect them.

We could of course, get corks from friends and family to speed up the process but we're keen to use only our own so we'll have to be patient. In the meantime, the solution works - the photos are up, evoking all kinds of wonderful memories as we pass by the frame many times each day.
But the board also allows for changing the display whenever we choose and frankly there are so many photos on it, its hard to even see just how incomplete the actual cork collection really is.

So its not an FO and won't be for some time to come. Its definitely a WIP but maybe that will be part of its ongoing charm.


I Came Close!

Here's what I accomplished on Pi in the week between early last Sunday evening when I cast on and 2 hours before party time - about 2:00 p.m. yesterday when....

...I ran out of yarn. I knew it would be close. I knew Saturday in the sweltering heat at Soccer Field Day...
...as I knit kind of side saddle with the work on top of the cooler beside me rather than on my lap, I wouldn't be ready in time to block it. I hoped I could finish the knitting though.
I worked on it until about 1:00 am Sunday (by that point I had made it counterclockwise around to the single green marker) then got up early and put another few hours on it Sunday morning, set it aside to prepare my contributions for the birthday dinner and get dressed and then set to it again. In that final hour my heart was actually beating a bit faster as I flew along on the garter stitched edging wondering whether the time or the yarn would be the first to run out. If I'd had enough yarn I would have made it!

In the end I printed off a copy of the almost finished shawl picture at the top of this post and tucked it onto the birthday card. Mom was very pleased. With the high humidity yesterday it felt like about 40 degrees celcius as we gathered pool side at my sister's place. Unlike a week or two ago I don't think she lamented the absence of a warm and woolly shawl to throw around her shoulders (she was the only one not to bring her suit and go swimming - she definitely did regret that - the water was beautifully cool and refreshing!)
She does have one more ball of that yarn left with which she needs to crochet the neck band onto her sweater and then I can have the rest. I'm sure there will be enough to do both jobs but my mother is a plodding perfectionist so I'll have to wait. I'll put the few stitches left on Pi without an edge onto a holder and chase her down about getting the sweater done in September so I can have the remainders.

The Pi shawl is an EZ "unvention" that is much like an algebraic "formula". The knitter is free to plug in the variables of her choice (size, yarn, gauge, pattern) and see what the "solution" looks like in the end with the finished FO .(I'm suspecting that most of her "patterns" are similar in this respect but I'll have to dig deeper into her writings to see if that's true for sure).

While the knitting is essentially complete for this Pi, the variable of blocking still remains. It should open up significantly with a hard blocking, changing the feel and drape of the fabric to an as yet to be determined degree that I'll look forward to discovering in the fall.

Thanks for dropping by!


Two-Yarn Resolable Socks by Wayne Pfeffer FO

Pattern: Two-Yarn Resolable Socks by Wayne Pfeffer (adapted by Anne Merrow)
Colour: "Red Mix" & "Silver"
Needles: 3.75 dpns
Start: August 2 Finish August , 2009
Modifications: None

At the risk of seeming a little obsessed of late with interesting sock construction - THESE SOCKS WERE SUPER FUN AND INTERESTING TO KNIT!

Seriously, worsted weight socks? They practically knit themselves except when they're entertaining you with their wild structure!

The Tuffy left over from my cottage socks is the recommended yarn for the soles of this nifty knit. The grey tops are from a partial ball remnant from my Bonbon pullover from last summer. That means these are "free" socks - 'cost me nuttin! (Good thing too with the recent surprise shopping for major appliances we've been up to!)

Here we are - two happy cottagers who finally have warm toes during a cold summer!

The most interesting aspect of this knit are the short rows that turn the heel at the base of a standard heel flap
while the heel gusset is formed by knitting stitches at the sides of the flap together with stitches picked up along the sides of the instep.

I will never likely need to resole these but if I ever did, I'd probably be more likely to just knit another pair - they were that fun (and frankly the top of the sock is so easy and requires so little yarn - why not just start fresh?)

With "Retro Ribbed", these "Two Yarn Resolable" and "Priscilla's Dream" socks (yesterday's post) done from this book in just over a month and the Merino Lace Socks (Grumperina link - it looks like she never finished them though...?) bumping my long planned use for some straw coloured Regia originally intended for "Monkey Socks", this book "Favorite Socks" seems to be quite accurately named for me these days!

(btw this is a link to errata for this book - I just discovered that every time they reprint they add corrections so depending on when yours was published you may or may not have the most up to date set of errata - I checked for corrections and noted them in my copy or where necessary printed out the revised charts etc. and just stuck them in the spot to which the refer so I'm all ready to go whichever socks strikes me fancy.)

I hope whatever you're working on , you're finding it as fun and enjoyable as these socks were for me last week! Thanks for dropping by!


Priscilla's Dream Socks by Priscilla Gibson Roberts FO

Pattern: Priscilla's Dream Socks from Interweave Knits "Favorite Socks"
Yarn: Briggs and Little "Tuffy" (Very close to 1 skein)
Colour: 93 "Red Mix" Lot: 893
Needles: 3.75mm dpn's
Start: July 13 Finish: July 30
Modifications: Omitted changing needle sizes to make more slouchy fit at ankle

I was feeling brave after my foray into toe up construction and I had some very cottagy rough, red yarn newly stashed.
My feet had been cold for three weeks straight up north but I didn't want to walk around the cottage in my pristine Cashmerino bed socks. I was yearning for a pair of tough, indestructible slipper-type socks that could handle the often gritty cottage floors but would also be cozy and comfortable when pulling my feet up underneath me on the couch. I was flipping through Interweave's "Favorite Socks" when I came upon this pattern that seemed to be ideal for my yarn, well suited to my purpose and had another interesting kind of construction for me to explore - short row heels AND toes!

I did a gauge swatch, starting as I usually do, one size larger than the recommended 5.0mm size to account for my tight knitting but in the end I needed to go down to 3.75mm to achieve the gauge required by the pattern of 5sts/inch. the resulting fabric is stiff and tight and frankly just what I was looking for - I was off and running!

Until I tried to tackle the "Old Norwegian" or twisted German cast on recommended by the pattern. I fiddled with it at intervals all day, cross referencing the technique between the pattern book and Montse Stanley's version. Following the illustrations I would get it but then if I lost concentration I couldn't replicate it. Finally I set my mind to trying to understand what I was doing rather than just occasionally (accidentally?) stumbling upon the correct approach. That was the key to success and by that evening I had a lovely, thick cast on edge and I was stiffly working my way down the leg.

Her technique for short rows was very effective - only two holes appeared on the first heel and after that I didn't have another problem with it. To be honest I don't really understand enough about short rows to comprehend why this worked but it did - and better than any other short row technique I've ever tried. Then it was more stiff, ache inducing knitting onwards towards (my first ever) short row toe.

How fun to swoop up under the toes and then back over the tops towards the instep! (Starting on the instep of course alternatively allows you to hide the seam underneath the toes if that's your preference.)

The decorative "X" cast off though is too nice to hide. Or rather my second decorative "X" cast off was too nice to hide.
The first, pictured above, was too wonky with my uncertain tension to leave as is so once I saw I could do better with the second sock I went back and redid toe #1...

Towards the end of that second sock the first skein of yarn ran out. (I think without the large gauge swatch I could have made the pair with the single skein) I decided to try splicing the yarn together to avoid a knot.

Here is the yarn, split and interwoven...

...Twisted together

...Knit onto the needle - see the thick looking stitches at the left?

Then there it is, its two rows down from the needle. Can you see it? I can't!

In the end, I love the lack of adornment save for the toe seam and the rolled cuff. Taking the toe seam - an element of the sock we generally minimize and making it a features while treating the usually decorative fabric of the sock as background is sooooo clever and I think the end result is quite striking!

This yarn is every bit as "TUFF" as its name implies. I feel like I could walk around downtown in these socks and neither my feet nor the socks would be any the worse for wear. They are going to be perfect hanging around the cottage socks. But now what to do with that almost full skein of Tuffy that's remaining? I went back to "Favourite Socks" and found just the thing!

I should be ready to post an FO report tomorrow. Thanks for dropping by!


Cottage Life

Last Friday Evening...

8:00 ...Looking forward to a cold beer after retrieving Darling Daughter from Go Train 1.5 hours south, My Beloved grabs a can from fridge - is reminded of our serious need to generate some corks, grudgingly returns it to the fridge and notes unusual warmth of can.

8:10...Darling Daughter sits down at the dinner table noting her milk is not very cold - we dismiss comment as overtired, "I've been alone in the city" type whining.

Saturday Morning...

7:00..air in fridge is warmer than air in cottage - not that unusual this summer but still - fridge is turned up.

9:00...My Beloved and Number One Son make trip to dump (cottaging is so relaxing!?)

9:05...with male members of household out of the way I begin baking dessert and doing prep work for dinner party that evening. Guests will arrive at 4:00.

10:15...Dump run complete, My Beloved checks fridge to see what, I now know - after the oven I am pre heating, the interior of the fridge is the warmest place in the cottage. Our "Admiral Frost Free" has died - 20 years to the day after it was purchased following the sudden and very untimely passing of the ancient fridge that came with the cottage.

10:20...Oven is turned off, all other food prep ceases, we are in the boat headed for the car into town to get a new fridge ASAP.

11:00...Local Farmer, with truck has been located, contacted and will pick up new appliance as soon as he hears we've made a purchase.

11:20...We walk into locally owned appliance store in town ('only interested in supporting local businesses we never even visit the new big box stores starting to sprout up around town)

11:20:30...I point at the smallest white, top mount model I can see, saying "that's it".

11:22...After uber brief consideration of features and prices, we agree to purchase one model up from the smallest to get slightly more freezer space (and a freezer shelf!)

11:25...Local Farmer is called as signature is made on the credit card slip.

11:28...We get back into the car and head for the boat.

12:00...BBQ at cottage is lit as stove is restarted, lunch is made and served.

12:15...cake goes in the oven

12:16...I turn attention to dearly departed Admiral, its unplugged and then I spend an hour emptying its contents into cooler bags, pulling it out, washing the wall and floor behind it and clearing a pathway from front door to now prepared empty fridge space.

12:25... Number One Son does dock start using wake board, Darling Daughter is in observation seat, My Beloved, driving. They disappear out into the lake.

12:45...Just as my wake boarding boy sails off the end of the tow rope towards our dock local farmer calls - new fridge is at the marina.

1:15...In 18" space between the Admiral now standing in the middle of our wee cottage kitchen floor and the counter I continue to prep dinner.

1:40...Boat with fridge and 20-something woman (aka Darling Daughter) standing at bow, holding fridge upright, appear around the point. Boat driver's head is peeking around the side of fridge.

1:45...Next door neighbour and his son (both of whom helped with previous fridge replacement 20 years ago) arrive to help lug the new beast up the 34 steps to the cottage, squeeze it through the doorway that with both screen and front doors removed is just wide enough, push the thing into place and then haul the old Admiral back down to the boat.

1:50...Boat, old fridge 20 something woman, etc. etc. disappear around point en route to marina. Local farmer will pick up old fridge and take to amnesty day at dump (how's that for timing!)

2:15...Darling Daughter is sunning on the dock, Number One Son and My Beloved are rigging sail boat, dinner prep continues apace.

4:00...Dinner prepped, daughter tanned, cake baked, sailing trip complete, boat and rigging re stowed, new fridge humming its way to interior coolness, guests arrive, wine is poured (more corks!)...Cottage Life!

...Now what advenures will this weekend bring?


3 Pairs - Toe Up Afterthought Heel and Toe Socks FO

Pattern: Toe Up Afterthought Heel and Toe Socks by Annie Modesitt
Colours: 100 (White) 204 (Light Blue) 013 (Lavender) 014 (Grape)
Needles: 3mm dpn's
Start: June 27th Finish: (3prs) July 25th, 2009
Modifications: Extra chunky cuff edge knit with yarn held double

These socks are my first attempts at knitting socks from the toe up. The afterthought heel and toe construction (Also a first for me) makes knitting the foot and leg super mindless - this was even more the case as I was knitting three pair in succession. I would cast on for the drive home and then finish the leg on the way back to the cottage.

When inserting all the heels and toes I did find picking out the provisional cast on stitches surprisingly difficult. I used the recommended cast on from the pattern which is cited as being easy to remove but since this was my first time using a provisional cast on it could very well be that I a) did the cast on incorrectly or b)took it out wrong and in so doing made it more difficult than it had to be or even c) had an unrealistic view of just how "easy" easy would be!

Picking up heel stitches from the 2x2 ribbing was also a bit fiddly. If I were to make these again I would work a round in stocking stitch after inserting the waste yarn for the afterthought heel before commencing the 2x2 ribbing that makes up the leg. This would mean I would avoid having to pick up the purls.

The heel of the first sock, originally worked in a fingering weight yarn looked kind of miserly and tight compared to the rest of the sport weight sock (that this would be the case of course should have been obvious to me before I used it!?) So I took it out and replaced it with Cashmerino. As the pattern suggests it was quite simple to cut out the heel and replace it.

This pattern was ideal for the loungy, stay at home (or stay in bed!) socks I envisioned when I bought this (blue and white) yarn with socks in mind. The ribbed legs are nice and loose and the feet - knit a wee bit on the long side (7.25" rather than 7") make the whole effect perfectly slouchy. The yarn is of course super soft and cozy in the 2x2 rib - an affect that was lacking with the predominantly stockinette patterns I had tried with this yarn in the past.

The purple version used remnants that have been languishing in the stash for at least 4 years so its great to have both new socks and new stash space as a result of those being done.

For me, these were a fun, (for me)novel and ideal start of summer project that I decided to do after reading "Knitting Heretic" following taking a class from Annie in June. I'm pretty sure I'm the only knitter left who had yet to try toe up construction but if there is anyone else out there thinking about giving this technique a try, Annie's approach really couldn't be an easier way to start. Thanks for the inspiration Annie!


Oh Hello! Has Anyone Seen Summer?

I came to the city to see if summer had perhaps become hung up on the shore of Lake Ontario and so hadn't made it to cottage country but it hasn't arrived in Toronto either and now we're into August where the nights get cooler(?!) and daytime heat generally looses(!?) a bit of the "intensity" of July! Seriously the only thing approaching warmth I've found up north this summer was in a 5'x7' washroom in a local restaurant that was actually being heated in July!

I'm at the point where I don't even feel good about saying "at least its good knitting weather!"! I'm sick of "good knitting weather"! I want some "too hot to knit" weather, I want it now and want about a month of it!!

Craptastic weather aside, modest FO's were generated last week. I'll work on some posts for those once I get the laundry underway today.

The Cork Board got "finished", covered in photos and hung on the wall. That's a WIP shot above, I'll get some FO pics of it for next week.

Berry Season has been fabulous both morning..

...and night ("Lemon Feather Cake" with "Lemon Filling"from Vintage Purity Flour Cookbook, whipped cream and fresh local blueberries - yummmmm!)

The Daylillies, having a heavy bloom load from all the rain yet being "Day" lillies only open a single blossom when sufficient sunlight makes it worth their while to do so, still have several days worth of blooming to go here in the first week of August when they are usually already done by mid July!

We've also noticed the Dragon Flies are growing very big this year ;)...

Anyway, today in Toronto is a sunny, if unseasonably cool day. While last night's soccer game wasn't a frigid affair for us spectators, (first time this season!) We did get drenched in rain during the final 10 minutes of the game and I understand there were a couple of big cloud bursts here earlier in the afternoon and there was also more rain over night so the gardens should at least be easy to weed.

I'm going to focus on the sunshine.

An FO post will be up here at Sel and Poivre tomorrow for sure! Thanks for dropping by and have a great day!