Yesterday My Beloved and I headed north to check the cottage one more time now that all the leaves are down and pull the last boat out of the water to be stored for the winter.

We had already done all the real closing up work three weeks ago.
...The summer blinds were already taken down,
...Replaced with sheets over the windows. These old cotton bed sheets work as painting drop cloths in the summer and window coverings in the winter. They yield a soft, creamy white light inside the cottage...
... on everything clustered away from the windows to avoid sun damage.
...This sign Number One Son made with his wood burning set years ago to let people know when the washroom was occupied suddenly had a new meaning when I saw it as we were about to leave yesterday for the last time this season.

Closed. Fermé.

A la printemps! See you in the spring little cottage!


As I stumble along trying to get my knitting to fit, trying to choose patterns that suit me, trying to figure out what yarns to use or substitute I love to visit Knitted Bliss where the "trying" seems to be nonexistent because home runs out of the knitting ball park are standard fare.

I happened on this blog via a link over at Tanis' Fiber Arts blog (Tanis borrowed Julie's wedding dress for her wedding. Read Tanis's account of how it all happened - its a fabulous story.)

One of the best features of Knitted Bliss is a feature Julie calls "Modifcation Monday" in which she highlights how great knitters have modified existing patterns to create truly inspired knitting. This week, however, had me gasping in disbelief. The featured knitter took the chart from a colour worked sock pattern and turned it into one of the most magnificent hand knits I've ever seen.

The colours are bright and contrasty but work perfectly.  The fit is flawless. Check it out - its worth the click!



I'm now well into integrating the adjustments from the first sleeve to the second on the saddle shoulder tee and so far its going well.  I should have been done within a couple of evenings except that immediately after completing the last sleeve there was a yarn-related incident with the dog that has forced a quantum adjustment to my process with this knit.

Like lots of knitters, I set up little knitting camps for projects with multiple or complex (for me) charts or when I have to track rows across more than one element at a time. I spread my stuff out on a table and leave the knitting atop all of it - needles splayed out to the sides just as I was holding them when I stopped working.  This facilitates stopping and starting with very little time spent reorienting myself to where I left off.  I can knit a row or two if I have a couple of minutes rather than a whole repeat and I don't get confused or lost. "Nibbling" away at projects can yield surprising progress for me. Unfortunately I'm having to adjust to working without a handy little camp.

This is because of a "visit" of sorts last week by Hudson to my saddle tee "camp". It was set up on the living room coffee table. We were enjoying a spaghetti dinner in the adjacent dining room at the time and I guess he felt left out. He headed for a small messy tangle of fine cotton yarn I keep with my knitting stuff (it won't stay rolled in a ball) for running life lines, basting etc.. Number One Son saw him go and followed to take it away.  Sensing an impending confiscation, Hudson made sure no one was going to get it by - SWALLOWING THE WHOLE THING!

This immediately prompted a range of reactions.  My Beloved, raised in farm country, surrounded by animals, found Hudson's act hilarious, chuckling away as he predicted a rapid, possibly dramatic reappearance of the stuff. Darling Daughter, aghast at her father's lack of concern began an impassioned lecture on insensitivity as only a twenty-something, chastising a parent can muster. Number One Son and I were kind of stunned, sickly grins frozen on our faces, wanting to laugh but less certain about the prospect for a quick or painless resolution. Hudson, licking his lips, with a distinct air of satisfaction at his victory, settled into a corner and with a big and contented sigh, went to sleep...

I spent that night and much of the next day dreading an imaginary scene at a Vet's office where I would be asked to decide whether to mortgage the house to bankroll a canine colonoscopy or say goodbye to my only just purchased pup. For his part Hudson slept soundly keeping all recently ingested items right where they should be and the next day had a grand time enjoying extra food and walks (to get and keep things "moving") and a visit with every dog that came within a hundred yards of us as I asked the other dog owners what they thought I should do.

In the end, My Beloved was right - the "dispatch" of yarn coming a scant 20 hours after its disappearance. Neat, tidy, painless and drama-free - at least for Hudson!

Now of course in the interests of Poodle longevity, bank balance and peace of mind I have abandoned the "knitting camp" system, packing up after each knitting session. I could do several rows in the time it takes to lay everything out and figure out where I am in preparation for starting. Of course this also eliminates the possibility of knitting during the day so I'm having to adjust to the fact  things are taking a bit longer than usual.

Eventually this shall pass. Hudson will be trained to leave my knitting alone but right now in this current phase of  "see it, chew and possibly eat it" I'm going to have to adjust my approach right along with my suspicion of how much trouble he can and will get into.

Currently our household routine is being adjusted because My Beloved is in India on business. Fortunately since he travels a lot I'm used to adjusting my evenings in his absence to include more knitting than usual so hopefully this week will see the end of this knit in my WIP column - an adjustment to my Ravelry project page I can't wait to make!
As I'm sure you know, I will keep you posted!

...oh there is one other adjustment resulting from the string "event". Darling Daughter reports she is suffering terribly during her daily morning walks with Hudson. 'Seems "everyone" she sees walking a dog asks her if the string has "passed"...its soooooo disgusting! Why did I have to tell everybody?!!  Oh well, I guess like the rest of us adults she'll just have to adjust! (Just like I've adjusted to the school papers Number One Son has "filed" under the armoire beside Hudson in that shot of him sleeping. I'm told they are all important and that he will be getting them out of there as soon as I stop "freaking out about everything". Apparently unlike adults, teenagers don't have to adjust to anything, we all just have to adjust to them! ;) )

Thanks for dropping by!


Grommets II

My Aunt saw my bag last spring and decided to make her own - and it really is just that - 'such a different take on the pattern with her choice of black cotton yarn and the fabulous lining she chose...
She asked me to install the grommets for her so yesterday I did just that but noticed something else about hers that was quite different from mine...
Its quite a big bigger.  When I made mine I had a complete ball left over to return to the store so I told her I thought the pattern overestimated the yarn requirement. Well it may have been the case for my gauge but not for hers. She finished the bag itself but now will in fact need the whole quantity stipulated in the pattern in order to complete the project by making the bag's "rope"  handles.

Its a real eye opener for me to see a demonstration of just how much gauge can impact the amount of yarn consumed by a given pattern!

Happy weekend everyone!


Last Night at the DKC

Last night's presentation at the DKC was one of the best I've seen by a newly published knit designer.
Elise Duvekot herself was clear, well spoken and entertaining and the patterns in her book, Knit One Below are lovely. Elise is a resident of Holland but wrote the majority of the book while living in Toronto. She acknowledged the wonderful concentration of local test knitters as being a big part of that process. The focus of her talk though wasn't on her patterns but rather on the technique of knitting into the stitch below on which the book is based. Her encouragement to us was to use the book as a jumping off point with this wonderful technique rather than an end in itself.

When using this stitch every alternate stitch on the right side of the fabric is simply knit into the stitch below the next one rather than the one actually hanging on the needle. Purling one below is done on the reverse. Each alternate row both sides is a resting row worked straight and in the stockinette manner. When two colours or even two radically different yarns are used on alternate rows there is an interplay of texture and colour that is quite unique. The treatment of the purl row is what sets this stitch apart from the likes of Fisherman's Rib or Brioche Stitch.

The knitted fabric with this stitch looks a bit like a flattened rib or even a very well blocked stockinette with absolutely no rolling at the edges or ends so no added edging is required to control it.This was evident on the scarves like the stunning Tattersall Scarf (rav link) and wraps like the Gossamer Square (rav link) she brought along to show, all of which sat very well on the body and had gorgeous drape.

Elise assured us it does not take any more yarn than regular stockinette and the gauge is so much bigger she reported her socks like the Pinwheel Socks from the book (rav link) are done on 40 stitches rather than the usual 63 or so.

The fabric is similar in heft to garter stitch but feels much lighter. I modeled a pullover knit in bulky wool but it felt surprisingly soft and light to wear.

The stitch also yields fabric that felts very well into a generous and sturdy material well suited to hats and bags.

Before the meeting I spoke with one woman who I know to be an extremely skilled knitter and she said she uses the book in just the way Elise suggested, as a reference for variations on technique. (Just to give you an idea of this particular knitter's ability, her current project is working Norah Gaughan patterns in Noro.  The thing is, she explained, the Noro is not at all like the yarn called for in the patterns and with the structure of Norah Gaughan patterns being generally pretty novel she finds it difficult to make accurate adjustments before thoroughly understanding the process for any given knit. So this woman knits each piece first in something close to what's called for and then once she has the gist of what that piece requires calculates her adjustments and re knits it in Noro.)

The knitting skill and knowledge that is in the room at a DKC meeting is amazing.

Another example of knitting excellence last night was that Wanietta Prescod, Canada's fastest knitter was in the front row. While I was up on the stage helping with the fashion show of Knit One Below Knits I have to admit to staring. Her hands just fly!

The other speaker was the founder of SOAK also gave a brief presentation. She is from Toronto and came to the knit world via machine knitting but was wearing her first hand knit wrap. She told us how SOAK is expanding its product line beyond knitting. I was interested to hear her explain that many "unscented" products aren't truly without scent they just have a masking agents added to prevent the consumer from being able to smell the actual odors (off gassing)  of a product.  Yuck! (BTW SOAK's unscented version is a truly scent free product.)

I had my Australian wool that Lyn sent me in my bag because I was swatching with it while on the subway ride downtown. When I mentioned to the knitters around me how I had come to own this yarn and told them of my tentative plans for it several knitters commented on it and wondered aloud between them at its weight and twist and noted its lovely halo - imagining how it might bloom after blocking.

Its so fun to mingle with knitters! Thanks for dropping by eh!


Getting Back to Feeling like a Knitter - Not just Knitting

Crawling out of the knitting hiatus I suffered this summer has been slow and painful. Without my knitting being top of mind I can't just pick it up and go. like I'm used to doing.

Without taking advantage of all the opportunities to knit each day there are no satisfying FO's.

With no knitting or even thoughts thereof, there is no knit blogging or the attendant enjoyment of reading about the knitting conquests of the knitters I follow on line.

Without day to day knitting and gratification I found my desire to scheme and plan future projects or activities also evaporated.

Of course just letting the knitting go wasn't an option so I have just been white knuckling my way back into it trying not to be scared at the prospect of maybe not making it at all.

So yesterday while at the library to get poodle grooming reference books I nipped over into the knitting section and came home with some great books to flip through in the next couple of weeks.

I also picked up Vogue Knitting Fall 2010. Magazines are only loaned for a week at a time but I've never found a current issue before this so it feels like a great stroke of luck.

This morning I took some time to check out the Vogue Knitting Live show scheduled for New York City in January. I had thought I might go down and take a class or two. The list of "knitterati" designers that will be teaching is formidable plus there will be a marketplace plus its in New York so its got to be great whatever happens.  In the end the only class that really appealed to me (at least on my first flip through the lengthy schedule) is on short rows and is being taught by Fiona Ellis. Fiona lives in my neighbourhood. I know she is a great teacher because I've taken a couple of her classes. In fact I'll see her tonight at the DKC meeting.  Anne Hanson and Veronique Avery are also offering classes that caught my eye but I've already taken lessons from both of them too and part of the fun would be experiencing teachers of note that are still unfamiliar to me. If I can't find a couple of classes that interest by designers I'm not yet familiar with I may rethink the New York idea but at least I'm dreaming and I feel good about that.

The DKC meeting is of course another great thing on tap today in my little knitting world. (I missed the September meeting because for some reason I thought it was a week later and came very close to going down on the wrong night.) I'm going to help with the portion of the meeting when Elise Duvekot's designs will be modeled. Hopefully I'll knit en route to and from the meeting as well!

All this, is making me feel more like a knitter than I have in weeks and weeks. Its making me realize that just because I may be knitting with my hands sufficient to achieve progress on something, feeling like a knitter seems to be dependent on what's going on in my head and my day around the topic of knitting. Just the knitting itself, it seems, isn't enough.

Anyway, if you're in the GTA, why not come down to the DKC meeting tonight! Maybe I'll see you there! Wherever you are while you're reading this, thanks for doing so!


Taking Rae's Advice

Rae is an accomplished knitter and spinner, among her beautiful pieces recently completed is a gorgeous version of Jared Flood's Juneberry - a knit to which I barely dare aspire. So when Rae commented that rather than frog and restart with the correct foundation stitch count I should just try to make the otherwise acceptable saddle sleeve work, I decided to follow her advice. A Juneberry knitter ought to know don't you think?

Well here is how Rae's advice played out over the weekend...
I sorted out where the stitches should have been picked up (using the other arm scythe as reference). Then, I spread the decreases out over three right side rows to minimize bunching up or gathering. I was careful to confine the decreases to the underarm area of the arm scythe leaving the 8 stitch section that makes up the sleeve  under the arm to lie flat. (The stitches just to the right of the lowest orange marker in the shot below.)
You can see the visible lines of decreases running parallel to the arm scythe in the above photo but that isn't entirely out of step with the rest of the top. In fact I think its quite in keeping with the visible darts at the waist and bust front and back. 
It looks a bit like a puffed sleeve when lying flat but after decreasing the overall size of the arm scythe the sleeve's fit is sufficiently snug the puffiness is not visible when its on my shoulder.
Now I need to quickly do the other sleeve before I forget exactly what I did on the first one!

Thanks for dropping by and thanks to Rae for the great suggestion!


Loose Ends All Rolled Up

I won't be teaching a little class of new knitters this term. I had hoped the children enrolled last spring would come back to finish the projects we had yet to begin when we ran out of time (my fault, I overestimated how much time they might devote to knitting between classes).

Since they had all paid a materials fee the leftover worsted wool yarn belongs to them so I promised that if a class didn't happen I would distribute the remainder of it evenly between them.

So with the help of my little digital scale I divided it all up.

I love hand rolling yarn.  'Seems as long as the stuff is sliding through my hands I'm having a good time (unless its because I'm frogging that is!) To tell the truth, I'm a bit relieved at the cancellation of the class.  The money was very good but now with the dog to deal with I'll welcome  the bit of extra time I didn't think I'd have - it takes a lot to keep up with him!
Thanks for dropping by!


Progress of Sorts

I have all but completed the first saddle shoulder and having taken it off the needles onto a piece of yarn, I'm quite satisfied with the fit.  The trouble is my stitch count either side of the saddle, in the section that runs under the arm is waaaaaaaay off. I have 13 stitches each side of the saddle in excess of what I should have.

This goes back to the number of stitches picked up and knit in the first row that joins front and back and forms the foundation for construction of the saddle.

At the time I was picking up and knitting stitches along that edge I did find the language in the instructions as to the total stitch count for that row to be confusing...

Anyway I've spent a couple of evenings trying to sort out the correct way to go about things by working on the other sleeve. Unfortunately the language for that sleeve basically says to do what was done for the other side except reversing directions so...I cast on for some socks...

I didn't finish the socks I have in progress...

I cast on new ones.  Why does that feel better than spending time on another WIP?


Warning: Photo Heavy Post But No Shots of Knitting!

A few kind readers have asked for more pictures of our "little" guy.
When we first got him he had never really done anything other than play with his litter mates and be viewed by potential owners.  He didn't know how to do every day things like walk down stairs or calmly watch traffic going by. He'd never been in a car or a boat or been in the woods but all that changed in a big hurry when we took him straight to our water access cottage after picking him up at the breeders out in the country north east of Toronto.

We spend many hours a week in our ski boat while Number One Son does what he loves to do at the cottage... Wake Skate, Water Ski, Wake Board and "Ski" Bare Foot. In the shot below he's wake skating only wearing running shoes on a board covered in the same grip tape they use on skate boards.
Of course Hudson needed to learn how to behave in the boat that kind of situation. For example to know to sit still and well braced (as in the shot below) in preparation for the moment the boat lurches forward to pull the skier up out of the water. (Pulling speed for slalom skiing is about 36 mph and the boat goes from zero to that in a few seconds!) This shot shows Hudson's Parti Poodle colouring - it runs pretty symetrically down his back and then down the back of each leg.
He also had to learn not to jump around while the skier is up...
He also discovered ways to entertain himself. (Biting the wake waves is a particular favourite but only in the first few minutes of the ride - after that he doesn't bother with it again until the beginning of the next outing.)By the way he was always on a leash so as not to fall overboard!
Here's another favourite pass time he found...chewing on the end of the ski rope.  He spent hours in this position. I'm worried he won't be able to fit in that spot by next year!
Of course on occasion he would also just relax and enjoy the view as he's doing in the photo below. I think you can really see how he matured as the weeks went by if you look at this shot versus the one at the top of the post...
He also found a favourite spot to sleep (If the water conditions are favourable, these "runs" as we call them, often last more than an hour!) Can you see him there sound asleep under the steering wheel?
I like the look on his face in the shot below - he looks as if he's saying "do you believe this kid? Look how high the moon is and he still wants to keep going!...
In the end Hudson was very comfortable and knew the "drill" to the point of being quite easy to have along for the ride.That boat is now in storage and after this weekend the whole place will be closed for the season and all the boats out of the water for the winter. I think he'll miss it - as we all will until next spring when we start all over again!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! (Ours is earlier than American Thanksgiving because our shorter northern growing season means we have an earlier harvest for which to be thankful.)

Thanks for dropping by!



In the last three weeks since school started I've had the attitude that if I don't have time to knit, I don't have time (or fodder) to blog and If I don't have time to blog I don't have time to read anyone else's either.

With a couple of posts under my belt by yesterday I finally felt I could do a bit of "visiting" and after starting to catch up with my list of favourites I was struck by how much impressive stuff has been going on while I've been away. (And I've only been able to catch up on a few so far!)

For example...
  • Brenda launched a sock book she co-authored with Deb Gemmel
  • Cheryl has been knitting and felting and weaving and decorating and travelling and taking photos of it all!
  • Les launched 4 more adorable children's hat patterns into the world
  • The ladies at Passionknit cranked out more knitted skirts than I knew patterns existed for. 
  • Girl Who Knits finished a sweater that she just loves in every detail and every way (how often to you read about an FO like that?) Unconditional satisfaction can be a rare knitting commodity!
  • Sandra has had an unbelievable output of knits and sewing and jewelery.
  • Stephanie has been the University student equivalent of Sandra - output galore but with studies.
  • Laurie became a telecommuter and started spinning.
  • Elizabeth is changing the way she eats and adding regular exercise to her life!
  • Glenna ran her first half marathon
  • Rea passed the Bar Exam!!!!
Its a pretty diverse and impressive list isn't it?

Congratulations all around (especially on that Bar Exam Rae!)!

Thanks so much for dropping by!


Summer Highlight

One of the knit blogs I follow and most enjoy is Shades of Grey. Knitblogger Lyn is one of my Ravelry "neighbours" as we have several projects in common. We also share a similar hair cut and colour but Lyn lives in sunny Australia while I shiver away here in Canada.

Its fun to note when checking my blog roll before going to bed that Lyn's pre-workday post has just gone up as she is already into the morning of the next day. Its also motivating to follow along as Lyn and a few other Aussi bloggers get back into autumn-induced knitting enthusiasm as I come into the summer knitting doldrums here in the northern hemisphere.

In the year or so I've been following Lyn she has of course shown many lovely knitting projects both in progress and finished. She has also posted a wonderful travelogue from her trip to France and documented her moving house complete with details of renovating her new apartment.  As part of the renovation project she had a little contest asking readers to contribute storage and organization ideas. After putting in my two cent's worth she sent me an email telling me I would be receiving something for my participation.

Then sometime mid summer I received this!...
All the way from Australia - a lovely lavender cake of fingering weight Australian wool! With the yarn was a lovely note written in a graceful hand on creamy, heavy hand made paper. It was of course from Lyn!

I can't tell you what a thrill it was to receive that package. In our little cabin in the Canadian woods in the midst of my knitting drought I was suddenly holding an unexpected knitting treasure from the other side of the world! It was just a delightful treat. I set that lavender cake on a shelf in the kitchen for a while then moved it to a book shelf in the living room for the next couple of weeks so I could look at it and of course give it the occasional pat as I walked by.
As for what I'll do with it, I'm leaning towards mittens...something with some lacy detail at the cuff. I like the idea of that lavender to wear in early spring!

Many thanks to Lyn for giving my knit-less summer its only knitting highlight and many thanks to you for dropping by today!


Actual Knitting Content!

At last some knitting to post about!

This project , from the IK Spring issue this year, was started at the end of June.
The yarn is a DK Mirasol cotton/linen blend. and yields a very beautiful fabric. (Not surprisingly, as the weather turns cooler the fabric becomes less and less engaging.) I am determined to get this project done before I indulge in anything deliciously woolly though so onward I am pressing!

My plan with this (other than to have it finished and ready to wear a couple of months ago!) was to focus on shaping for a better fit. Anne Hanson (in the workshop I took with her at Purple Purl last spring) suggested I might generally try moving shapings in from the edge to create kind of darts both above and below the bust line to better address my shape and measurements.
Before I tried that approach with this pattern, I did a trial run with knitting the back as written.  It didn't take long before I decided it was worth trying something different because with the shaping out at the edge the knitting seemed stiff, the shaping a bit awkward.
So I ripped it back, restarted and this time placed increases and decreases just as the pattern recommended except that below the bust I placed them 4" in from the sides and above the bust, 3.5" in.
So despite its appearance, the right side edge of the piece above is actually dead straight!  The shape of the piece, driven by the increases and decreases about 4" in from that straight edge. When I hold it up to myself it hugs me all the way across the front rather than just being necessarily narrow at the sides. 'Just what I was hoping for!
If you look closely at the larger photo you might notice that the shaping below the bust (close up photo directly above) looks a bit like a plant stalk with little buds on alternating sides.  They are "paired" on alternate sides of a mark to yield that slightly wiggly line. I figured that since the cotton/linen yarn in a stockinette background was bound to make the decreases and increases visible I decided to play them up to go with the viney leaves on the saddle shoulders.  By contrast, above the bust I left them in a simple line placed inside the markers...
...I didn't want too much of a good thing!

At the arm holes I wanted to keep the arm scythe narrow so I went down one size in terms of the height of the arm hole. I did this both because it seems to be an adjustment I need to undertake with most patterns but in particular, the photo in the magazine and on the website shows quite a bit of bunching under the arm on the model so I'm assuming there is unnecessary extra room there to begin with. I'm playing with fire on this count but since the saddle shoulders are made right on the sweater I should be able to tell by the end of the first sleeve if any changes need to be made to things work well together.

I worked on sleeve number one yesterday for quite a while and made good progress. Hopefully by the end of this evening I will have that one done and know whether I've dug myself into a hole by reducing the arm scythe as I have.
Wow. a bona fide knit blog post about knitting! I'm sure my new "knitting supervisor" is much more impressed than his expression indicates!

Thanks so much for dropping by!