Like Winning a Little Lottery

Yesterday morning the phone rang - yes we still have a land line - we're really antique that way and we are kind of fussy about being able to call 911 even if there's a blackout - anyway it was a woman from the neighbourhood who I chat with when we encounter each other walking our dogs.

She said she kind of remembered me saying sometime, in passing, that I knit. She wondered if I might have something called a "stitch marker" that she could borrow.

I said, yes, I did, but that if she was just starting out with knitting that plastic stitch markers were prone to bouncing away under furniture or between cushions on the chesterfield, often never to be seen again and so she might want to try making a yarn or string marker for herself.

..."that's exactly what's happened to my marker!" she shrieked as if I was clairvoyant. You mean you only had one? I asked.

She explained she was currently re-learning to knit after many, many years away from it, was taking a class, had been give materials for the project that included a single lone stitch marker. She had been working on her homework, the stitch marker flew off the needle and she couldn't locate it - anywhere. I think she was a little pleased when I told her her plight was one that befalls experienced knitters all the time. (Experienced knitters just have piles of markers always at hand to compensate! I didn't share that last bit - she'll figure that out for herself.)

Of course I offered to help any time she ran into trouble.

A new knitter in my neighbourhood! How fun is that? 'Feels like winning a little lottery it does!


Shepherd Step Five - Decreasing for Armholes

We are at the armholes - "we" because there were myriad discussions and measurements with My Beloved over the weekend as I worked towards these first decreases 15.5" from the cast on edge.
He has more than a bit of travel on his agenda this week and next and with him gone I need an idea of how things are likely to come together with all the "stuff" at the top of the sweater so I can work on the bits leading up to that before he's back, available for "fittings".

It struck me over the weekend how straightforward these cables are compared to those I struggled with on Beatnik. Nora Gaughan's cables features lots of "business" within each cable where these are just 2 stitch "ropes" - predictably and reliably twisting over and under and only on right side rows to boot!

So tonight its more decreases and starting on the last 11.5" of the back (I'm lengthening it an inch and a half rather than working the symmetrical collar line), so I'm past the half way mark on this panel!

Thanks for dropping by! 


Brrrrr! Yay!

The specter of winter is here with flurries north of the city and temperatures dropping. (I wore a knit sweater under a wool jacket, scarf and gloves on dog walks the past couple of days!)

We'll head north right into the teeth of it tomorrow for a day of cloud and cold sleet. We'll put up the winter window blinds, shutter the doors, clean out the eaves and pull out/winterize the boat. It sounds awful but actually its easier to walk away from the place with numb fingers and a cold nose (inside the cottage!) than on a warm sunny day with the water glistening as the blue jays scream and glide in groups from tree to tree.

I'm through the first repeat of the chart on Shearer and dead on gauge over 4 inches.

Nonetheless the 2x2 ribs at the sides are "stealing" width as they "pull in" together. I think the centre panel will block out enough to compensate but...
 ...to be sure I've decided to move from a 5 to 5.5mm needle.

I don't want to add ribs to the sides for fear of running short of yarn and besides, My Beloved is fearful of a repeat of "Ranger" (although in its shrunken, fulled state he's calling it his favourite "New" sweater and wearing it every evening) so he won't hear of me going up a size anyway.

Hence I'm just plowing on. If, in the end we need more room I can always knit a couple of gussets to run between the side seams - maybe I'll need more yarn - even if I do, a perfect match won't be as critical on flat narrow panels under the arms right?

With fall maintenance being done on our vehicles this week we've booked a date for the snow tires to go on and I'm working on readying the freezer for our beef delivery (grass fed, lean and hardy from a small flock raised by a friend - local, healthy, humane and environmentally better than many other options.)

High knitting season is upon us and I've got cables on the needles at home and WIP mittens stashed in my Blue Jay bag ready to hit the road as needed! Life is good! Have a great weekend - that's what I plan to do!

(Multiple references to Jays here today - must be because I just read this. Great photos Curlerchik! Blue Jay project bag courtesy of Curlerchik too!)


"Ganomy Hat" by Elizabeth Zimmerman FO

Pattern: "Ganomy Hat" by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Remnant Worsted Held Double
Needles: 5mm dpn's
Start: October 1 Finish: October 3, 2013
Modifications: None
Poor Ganomy. Finished three weeks ago yet in the "shadow" of "Shearer", not  given a proper public launch until now. This in no way reflects my true feelings about this quick little project. It was entertaining from start to finish, used up more remnant yarn and best of all I am unreasonably thrilled with this hat! Clearly, from the reaction of my loved ones when I modelled it, it is not the best look for me. But it feels so great on and if I pull it down it will keep ears and neck warm - soooo important on my twice daily, often long outings with the dog.
My Ganomy will be a Bitter January Afternoon Hat or a Blustery February Blizzard Hat. The kind of thing you put on when warmth comes above all else not only for comfort but because you know the conditions will be so bitter no one you might meet will be looking at how you look - they'll be too busy trying to keep themselves warm!
The application of mitred shaping to a hat while also working the technique on mittens was interesting to explore and I love how the back of the hat shows that structure as the graphically attractive feature it can be.
Beyond that I'm pleased I resisted my initial impulse to work a bold colour in place of the Oatmeal Grey band. The silhouette is plenty playful without adding bright colour to it as well.
I also quite like the 2x2 row of coloured "notches" at the base of the Oatmeal section that then becomes 1x1 up in the confines of the narrow tip top when changing back to the cream yarn.

With Ganomy finally given its "due" I think I'll indulge in a couple of rows of "Shearer" now. Thanks for dropping by!


Maybe the Knit Gods Know Best

Remember this...

A bit big at the start - after several wearings and My Beloved having shed a few pounds in recent months, now, a LOT big - longer, baggier, frankly all the way to sloppy.

My Beloved doesn't "do" sloppy but he knows I'm watching to see if that knit gets worn so one day he offered to "help me roll the all balls of yarn"  if I wanted to rip, skein, wash and re-knit the thing. As generous as that offer was, I said "thanks" but No.

I decided instead to run a long seam from the cuff to the hem via the underarm and see if I couldn't make the thing more wearable. If it worked, honestly, I was ready to just chop out the excess and call it a day.

First though, a bath. In a sweater bag, with other knits all in their own bags, on the delicate setting. The other knits came out as they always do - just fine. The behemoth sweater, though, felted like there was no tomorrow. (I'm assuming the beast, too big for even the largest sweater bag, suffered excessive rubbing in confined quarters.)

When I discovered it I smoothed it out as best I could - even had to separate the insides of the sleeves that were on they way to becoming one, then I laid it out to dry.

This morning in the wee dark hours before he left for work he quickly tried it on. I'll have to get a picture of it to post later but let me tell you it now fits like a dream.  Even the sleeve length is dead on. He's thrilled and probably relieved he can now demonstrate my efforts knitting for him are appreciated.

The Knit Gods protected the sizing as they sacrificed my hand wrought stitches for the good of the garment and the marital bliss between its maker and recipient!

Oh well, knitting "love" being as fickle as it is, I'll just have to focus on "Shearer" and forget about poor "Ranger's" shift from drapey, fluid if unwearable "sophistication" to stiff, serviceable and probably oft-worn popularity.



Shepherd and Shearer Step Four - Knitting Officially Begins Today!

Buoyed on by chatting with Fiona at the DKC and then her encouragement in the comments with a couple of (obviously) relevant tips from the Queen of Cables herself, I dove into working the set up rows of the first side.

Here's the thing though - if I wanted all cables to flow out of the 2x2 ribs, the ribs themselves -how they are arranged need to be a set up of sorts...

Planning this aspect, the math told me I needed to add 13 stitches that I would decrease away with k2togs in the actual set up row from my revised chart. That stitch count though meant extra inches of loosey goosey width around the bottom of the sweater. Not good. So I used a soft, long tail cast on for stretch on a smaller (4mm) needle and knit the waist band pretty firmly, working up the whole 2.5" depth of the ribbing I've chosen to anchor the design. (The guy's over 6' tall - he needs and can carry something pretty substantial) This allowed me to gauge how well the waist band would/could do its natural "thing" - pull in but also be able to stretch out.

Then I held my breath and measured and holy mackerel, it worked!

After that I moved up to 5mm straights (I prefer their firm stability over a wobbly thin circular cable when lots of counting is required) to work the vertically swatched cabled elements now having to follow one after the other in a sequence across with the width of the waist.

I knew the stitches between the elements and on either side of the cable panel were my concern at this point as was making sure I had edges that would work together when the sweater is assembled.

You won't believe what happened....that worked out too! So then it was off the crowded straight, onto a nice roomy circ. and before I knew it I was at the end of the first 6 row chart and able to just see clearly how those ribs flow!!!
(FYI The central orange marker denotes the location of the 2 purls that would be worked together to form the centremost stitch of the sweater front and central cable motif. The pink markers above that are either side of that now single purl stitch that became one stitch from two behind that first cable cross.

The two orange markers bracketing that central one, are the points at which I cheated by placing the centre point of each major side cable, two purl stitches apart rather than right together as the pattern is written, to facilitate the flow of the ribbing into those elements.

I successfully fought the urge after that to just plow on, instead, setting that piece aside and casting on to knit the second panel's 16 rows of ribbing. Next I'll do the first 6 row chart for that side while every thing's still fresh in my mind and then I'll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy multiple inches of delicious creamy, woolly cabling.

Once I get a bit of length established on the first panel I'll use it to do some measurements on My Beloved and sort out how the cables will work with and around the shaping for armholes and neck.

Thanks to Fiona for the encouragement and tips! Thanks to you for dropping by!



"Shearer" demands cerebral attention so post-Dog Obedience Class last night, I enjoyed mindless knitting on what's becoming a mitred project with a second pair of EZ Mitred Mittens in Crimson worsted because I'm....

  1. Hesitant to snip an afterthought thumb hole into the Biscotte & Cie version without any sense as to how location and execution in this pattern might play out
  2. Admittedly interested in working a pair with a few mods from Pair #1.

With 64 stitches cast on instead of EZ's prescribed 48 I'll get additional width for my boxy hands but I know I'll have to release the thumbs from the mitten palms before knowing whether the 64 stitch "recipe" is the one for me.

Truth be told, mittens aren't the only EZ mitres I've been playing with - 'seems her concepts, grounded in experimentation inspire me to experiment too - anyway I've also worked up a "Ganomy" Hat - more miters yielding unique and practical shaping. (With Darling Daughter back from "over the pond" my camera is also back so I'll be able to share shots of that with you tomorrow.)

Tonight is the DKC presentation of new and exciting yarns for the 2013/14 season. I plan to arrive early and get raffle tickets a-plenty. The door prizes at this meeting are always fabulous. One time I won enough Bulky Alpaca to make this! With lots of prizes, 150 or so knitters in the room, not all of whom buy tickets, the chances are pretty good - as are the causes the DKC supports with the proceeds so I'm off to fill up my wallet with loonies and twonies from the change jar in preparation.

Thanks for dropping by eh?


Shepherd and Shearer Step Three - Swatching

Little Swatch. Big Job.

It was no simple "check the needle size for gauge" kind of swatch job over this past extra (Fri. through Mon.) long weekend.

Rather it was working to fill a swatch with deceit and deception - create an impression that the elements of the 91-stitch cabled panel that adorns sweater front and back flow from a 2x2 ribbed border. (Said border not used in said pattern you see.)

I've never knitted such a lie! I was an utter innocent but no more...

I hadn't a clue what to do as I started but armed with the words from Asplund's blog..."try as much as possible" to make the ribbing work with the cables I tried to just dive in with an open mind as to what "try" might entail.

In the end I created stitches where they did not belong, p2tog-ed behind many a crossing where none was called for and so, naturally had to cast on more than really needed.

I changed a field of ribbing between cables over to a more usual purled background .

In one instance I had to accept one treatment wouldn't start with diverging cables side by side but rather slightly apart then I decreased the extra 2 purls out of existence on the next row.

Blasphemy! How dare I challenge THE DESIGNER?

I got over that, I "dared" and I did it!

Now I'm onto a larger kind of swatching project.  Having determined the revised total number of stitches I need, I cast them on and marked where each cable element should start. Atop just a few rows of ribbing I'm now seeing if my revisions and new stitch count will play out correctly across the full width of the front panel. Once I have that nailed I'll knit the first few rows of the chart then cast on and get the back to the same point while the "lies", while duly noted on paper, are still fresh in my mind and hands. Then I'll knit up a couple of cabled rectangles/prepare to tackle revising the necklines.

I have thought the neckline through and done a lot of math around it but I've taken it as far as I can without having something concrete to hold up and consider. So that's the plan. Just wish I was looking at another 4 day weekend to devote to this!

Thanks for dropping by today!


Shepherd and Shearer Step Two - Scheming and Planning an Heirloom

The premise of the Shepherd and Shearer was to by provide hand knitting wool and pattern(s) that when put together would transcend time, wear and the vicissitudes of fashion. In short, a hard wearing, long lasting classic.

With more than a few family heirlooms already in the cedar chest, I'm aware the "company" my Shearer will someday keep in there is rarified. So I want it to look good even to people who might hold it in their hands and pull it over their heads saying "where did this come from?" while their only other knowledge of me is perhaps a faded photo (hopefully not one from the 70's or 80's!).

This is leading me to attempt to follow the inspired example of knitter and blogger Asplund. Specifically his recent men's pullovers such as this and this.

Hence I'm playing with the pattern...
  • Adding ribbing that flows into cables wherever possible and fudging things where it won't.
  • Substituting a higher, narrower, more classic neckline with greater length up the back rather than the wider, symmetrical neckline of the pattern and then knitting it double, tacking it down on the inside.
  • Knitting the sleeves top down, starting with a shoulder strap and then picking up along the edges of the arm scythe, finally sewing the shoulder strap into place at the end.
...and whatever else I dream up while swatching over the weekend.

I'm actually using math and scrawling my own little diagrams to make sure I'm not acting without understanding what I'm doing, or not going to do. I find this exercise boring but in short bursts its manageable and I hope worthwhile.

To all my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! Last night in a restaurant I overheard someone explaining to man from South America that Canadian Thanksgiving marks the end of summer - cottage closing and the like whereas American Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas holiday season. I've never thought of that juxtaposition but it is an accurate description isn't it?

Thanks for dropping by - have a great weekend!


Shepherd and Shearer Step One - Washing

I am pretty sure the mail man's van was still in the front of the house as I snapped this picture on the back porch...
I know this because he was just pulling out as I raced past the front door and down to the laundry room moments later to drop all of my newly arrived, sticky with lanolin and shot through with hay, skeins (save one for purposes of comparison!) into a sink full of SOAK and water...
A little over an hour later after the SOAK, a vinegar and water rinse to close the wool cuticles, a squeeze, a wrap and press between towels, the skeins were on their way to drying. (The photo above is deceiving - after both the SOAK and the rinse the water in the sink was positively milky with lanolin.
Below, on the left, the comparison skein -  with the skein on the right and the whole background showing the loftier and lighter end product of washing and drying. Amazing!

 And finally, with a lapsed time of about 18 hours since the stuff arrived, a centre pull ball wound and ready for swatching!
Meanwhile last evening I stayed up way too late scheming as to how I would approach the Shearer pattern. I have a few modifications in mind...

On top of it all, a long weekend at the cottage on the horizon! Thanks for dropping by - its nice to be able to tell this tale to an understanding audience. 'Seems no one (except Hudson!) found deep sniffs of lanolin vs washed wool to be very compelling. Their loss! 


Amerind Cowl by Sarah Wilson FO

An interesting, asymmetrical cable in an asymmetrical cowl designed specifically for this yarn and colourway. Interesting, that is, as long as you wear it in the slightly unconventional and more than a bit impractical "covering your head and face" approach pictured below...
Pattern: Amerind Cowl by Sarah Wilson
Source: Ravelry Download
Yarn: Zen Garden Serenity Worsted
Colour: Black Pearl
Source: Lettuce Knit Toronto (gift)
Needles: 4.5mm
Start: September 19 Finish: October 1, 2013
Modifications: None

Releasing your eyes from the captivity of the cowl structurally diminishes the impact of that interesting design.

Then, if  worn like, say, a cowl, its just a glorified turtleneck or as we used to call them in the bad old 70's a "dickey" collapsing onto itself thereby eradicating all view of the lovely pattern.

There's also a fancy, Figure 8 cast on that allows you to do a 3 needle bind off at the end, yielding a magnificently evident seam. But at least its easy to know what section to put at the back right?!

So if yesterday's FO was a "5 Stars" kind of thing this one gets more like a "2".

As for the yarn, it is, like many expensive, hand dyed, superwash yarns, squishy, round and hairless. In this instance, carefully and skillfully dyed to get the same colouration as the yarn from yesterday's FO that sheep and Mohair goats grew on their bodies by eating grass and standing around in the sun and wind.

Both Darling Daughter and My Beloved commented on the softness, loved the colour and felt it was great, wearable piece. (High praise from those two who rarely find anything other than polite interest in my knits.) To each his own - maybe its my deep Scottish heritage but I seem to just want to go for the rough, hairy, sticky, wooly wool!

And speaking of which - yesterday afternoon my package from The Shepherd and the Shearer arrived! (I may have squealed a bit as the mailman handed me the package.) Talk about "sticky wool"! Darling Daughter, off on a British adventure this week has my camera, but I took some pics with my tablet for posterity of the fully gleeful skein washing and drying that began moments after the mail truck pulled out of the driveway. That'll be the stuff of tomorrow's post!

Thanks for dropping by today!


Guernsey Wrap by Jared Flood FO

"Guernsey Wrap" by Jared Flood
Source" BT Look Book
Yarn: Stoddart Farm Undyed Worsted Romni/Mohair
Source: DKC Knitter's Frolic 2013
Needles: 6mm straights
Start: August 19 Finish: September 11, 2013
Modifications: None
This FO's pretty simple - no magic here - just a loooooong rectangle of knits and purls in blocks of pattern.
There is magic in the yarn though- so complete all on its own...blended fibers locally grown, sheared, washed and spun together not far from here...

yielding something so willing and able to both take and hold a severe blocking...
The sheen on the yarn, despite the halo the Mohair adds, just makes the pattern pop!
But the real magic here in the gauge and how, through blocking...comes drape and movement despite a surprising amount of overall weight - this piece is not like lace...its quite hefty...as you can see in the photo below, the piece doesn't collapse into a pool as lace can do... 
But check out how the thing moves.....
I am not making a huge effort to get this to happen
Also amazingly warm!
This one's going to see a lot of action!

(These shots from the back also illustrate how my hair needs some action too. I must get on that!)

Thanks for dropping by!


'Cottage Cowl" FO

One last FO from the summer just past...

Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison
Yarn: Sirdar Chunky (Remnant)
Colour: Denim Blue SH502
Needles: 6.5mm 60 cm circular
Started and Finished July 1, 2013

When I started back knitting after a decade's hiatus, the first sweater I knit was in a reasonably priced chunky wool/cotton yarn by Sirdar and I ended up with one remnant ball.

The Sirdar sweater sees a lot of late August wear at the cottage when the weather can start to turn sharply cooler, but the cotton content keeps it comfortable against the skin as the wool content makes it warm. Still sometimes I wish I could just put on a scarf rather than a pullover but a scarf in August feels a little depressing.

Early one chilly morning this past June, hesitating to put on the sweater, 'worried about feeling too cool it struck me I should use the remnant yarn to make a cowl - get the benefits of the sweater when the sweater itself is too much.

So on Canada Day I did just that - rounds of eyelet framed top and bottom with garter, separated by 5 rounds of stocking stitch.

I love the way Stockinette rolls in on itself allowing the sturdier Eyelet and garter rounds to stack up vertically behind the neck. This piece saw a lot of wear and although I planned to leave it at the cottage, it came home with me where I continue to grab it on cool mornings. How satisfying to have a need and then be able to address it quickly and effectively.

Love It!
Thanks for dropping by!