"Keep It Simple Hat" by April Klich FO

Pattern: "Keep it Simple Hat" by April Klich
Source: Free Pattern on Ravelry
Yarns: Zen Garden Superwash Worsted & Galway Heather Remnant Grey
Colour: Fire Red
Source: Lettuce Knit Toronto
Needles: Addi 4mm circular, 4mm dpn's
Start: May 11 Finish May 13, 2013
 (Leafs in the Playoffs Knitting - the hat worked out better than the games!)
Modifications: worked in two colours rather than five
 A quick, fun, knit using a free pattern, remnant yarn and another of my Christmas gift skeins from Number One Son.

Aptly named it is simple with thoughtful construction details and opportunity to play with the colours as I did. If you consult the projects pages you'll see a variety of colour combinations, added pom poms and variations that play with the length of the droopy bit at the top. Lots of inspiration!

My version has resulted in what I think is a handsome hat that looks good on "boys" or "girls".
'Love the notched slit in the bottom band that works as a design feature and also makes for a comfortable fit.

A long tail cast on gives a stretchy, tidy edge. Then the bottom band is worked flat to facilitate that slit.

Before joining to work in the round an invisible-on-the-right-side increase is worked into a stitch a couple of rows back, It was new to me and something I'll try to remember when working garter stitch in the future because I really like the effect - or maybe better to say lack of visual effect!

After the stranded colour work chart, swirling decreases, made all the more lovely by the hand dyed yarn, march in softly turning lines towards the crown. 

I need a hat for walking the dog in winter. This should fit the bill perfectly. I also badly need warm wool mittens so I plan to knit up a pair of solid colour twined mitts in a similar colour of Cascade 220 Heathers. I want to echo the diamond pattern in the hat with raised chain stitches over the back of the hand and nod to the contrast colour with a bi-colour braid at the wrists.

A "kit" for that project is wound and ready to cast on once the second Tyrolean sock is done. (If you're thinking "...didn't she just knit that giant Man-Cardi in this same colour as these two projects? Yes, I did, hence the break to work on the Orangy Pink socks before the same-colour-red mitts.)

Humidex readings are forecast after which we're to expect another cool down but I spent yesterday in a turtleneck and wool sweater and wore hand warmers to walk the dog so the mood for mittens will still be with me for a while yet - it'll be great to have the whole works done and ready to go next autumn.

And there you have it. "Simple"! Thanks for dropping by!


Craft Night Report

The baking...Lemon Sugar Cookies (Martha Stewart) Crispy, sugar sparkly delicious with an unexpected "hit" of lemony tang. Yum!

The "show and tell"...One sock, one hat and the knitting. ('Didn't work a single stitch - too busy gabbing and moving around the room visiting but you need to have something to hold right?)

The "survey question" - asking the black belt knitters what size I should remake Deco. I modelled what I've got and their conclusion was 3 sizes up for 6 additional inches across the bust. I was only thinking 2 sizes up not considering the need for ease so I'm glad I asked! Their thought is the issue's with how the pattern's been  graded. Interesting to hear because there are comments amid the Ravelry patterns that it knits small, others haven't had a problem with it so it probably comes down to having success if you're lucky enough to have your shape work with the shape of the knit. They key is - Lyn this is for you - do not be mislead by the first sentence of the pattern beneath the top photo that says "to fit" bust..." don't assume that means, to get the fit pictured - complete with some ease on whatever your chosen bust measurement knit the following size. In fact the ladies instructed me last night to ignore that sentence and work out the gauge and inches that will yield at that bust point and choose what size sweater to knit based on that number. That's what they did for me. The other measurements on the schematic like sleeve and body length are easily altered where the bust is difficult to change while maintaining the Deco pattern and one piece construction. Now I'll rip and reknit with confidence knowing I didn't do something stupid that I might just repeat on a second try.

The "miracle"...'misplaced a needle a few weeks ago. At first I searched for it then resigned myself to the notion it was gone for good or would just reappear. Last night - the latter - while circumnavigating the room I sat down to talk to a relative newcomer to the group - someone with whom I've never had the chance to visit before. At one point she sat back in her chair, exclaimed in a way my husband often does when "finding" an errant needle in an upholstered piece of furniture and then she said "someone's lost a needle" (Beloved usually phrases the same thought with a bit more "emotion" ;) ) I instantly recognized it as my missing Aero straight from my mother's collection - I must have left it behind last month. I thanked her and the knitting gods that reunited needle and I and on we went with chatting. Once again my knitting life reassures me there is order in the universe.

So that's me done for Craft Group until the fall. They will be meeting again in June but I can't make it that evening. The baking contributions are coming in from many corners of late so I know they won't go "hungry" without my basket of goodies!

Thanks for dropping by today!


Weekend in the Ring

Hudson and I spent several hours early Friday evening then much of Saturday and Sunday at our first big dog trial.

There are many dog "sports" offered at Trials. The ones we entered this weekend were for judging traditional obedience - demonstrating (or in our case trying to demonstrate) Hudson and I can work together, despite the many distractions and self imposed pressure presented at the trail. What's judged is the dog's ability and willingness to comply with Handler commands - commands being prompted by the Judge.

For example, in on leash heeling, we set up so Hudson is sitting close to my left side, his front leg lined up with my thigh. The Judge says "forward", I give the command "Heel" and Hudson and I begin walking, hopefully together, until instructions from the judge such as "Fast" or "Slow" prompt me to change speed or we're instructed to turn one way or the other or "Halt". At every change of speed or direction he should stay with me.  With his level of intelligence, if he stays in position, with his shoulder beside my thigh he should be able to "read" my movements with his peripheral view of my leg while having a very enjoyable walk alongside me.

For many handler's performance in the ring is the goal. For me, its to have a dog - a big dog - that despite his size and power we can take anywhere - including a busy, crowded city street, a dog who will move easily and happily along with us. Trials, insofar as they prompt me to train him, are a means to that end.

Of course there are many other skills tested at trials other than heeling, all of which, once mastered will make for a happier, more portable dog and for Hudson, a more enjoyable life with us. At the level we're at (aka the bottom) just attending the show is a huge learning curve for both of us. Imagine being in an arena (ice is gone for the summer) with four trial rings and at least a couple of hundred dogs milling about waiting their turns or dozing in their crates around the edges but if you close your eyes you can't hear a single bark.

The dogs learn to leave each other alone in that context. Its really amazing to see and really challenging to help an inexperienced dog learn how to handle the situation but invaluable when living in a big city with lots and lots of dogs.

Once you've navigated the arena and enter the ring the dog should have a great time in there so the Handler needs to be relaxed, using clear commands to keep the dog at ease and being successful. (No food inducements or rewards are allowed - you need to personally motivate the dog.) Some breeds - like herding dogs bred for generations to respond to human cues are very, very good at this stuff.

Poodles can be good but not because its instinctual for them. Rather because they want to please you and enjoy working together with you.  Poodles also very much enjoy mental stimulation much like a Golden Retriever wants you to keep throwing a tennis ball over and over. For Hudson it provides an opportunity to think. I just have to keep it from getting boring. No endless hours of routine practice and no flat, uninspired commands in the ring. If he's bored he'll disengage and we'll be toast.

I find this endlessly amusing because it really creates the need for a great relationship between us and the need for us to understand each other beyond just living together.

Now I know this stuff isn't every dog owner's cup of tea and because we're just starting out we may stink at obedience and it will become a passing fad for Hudson and I but yesterday afternoon as I stood waiting for our turn to come up again in the ring I was talking to another poodle owner I'd met the day before and you'll never guess what she told me. She said..."in addition to working with her dogs she's just recently undertaken learning how to knit. Really? I said, I knit as well". Really!? she gasped then turned and over her shoulder called to another handler "hey Cheryl, this lady knits too!"

You know as much as I like it so far there might be benefits to this "world" of dog obedience I hadn't even dreamed possible! What if, in addition to hundreds of dogs in that arena there are also dozens and dozens of knitters?!

I'm sure you can understand how my mind was racing at the possibilities! So I had a great weekend. 'Hope you did too!

I'm off to do my baking for tonight's Craft Group Meeting...thanks for dropping by!


Imagineknitting WIP

As Sandra posts today, knitting can be such an elixir to the soul in troubled times and to Sandra's credit this difficult week for her has seen her produce a pair of socks and a gorgeous icelandic pullover!

What about troubled times when there just isn't time for knitting though? I "Imaginknit" - "knit" things in my head. My imaginknitting is portable and always "at hand" when a moment of opportunity presents itself be it trying or otherwise.

A recent imaginknit I "worked" on resulted from pulling out my copy of Interweave Knits Fall 2007 to photocopy the pattern for Tyrolean Stockings.

One of Eunny's first issues as editor it includes the wildly popular Brooklyn Tweed "Cobblestone" as well as Minimalist and Tangled Yoke Cardis. (I've made two out of those three patterns that together represent over 18,000 projects knit and queued. That magazine's a keeper!)

Among others I'll work someday (Snowflake socks, Hedgerow Coat, or Elfin Hat) the issue also contains a few patterns I can't abide. Don't get me started on the Luna Dress - why do the ribs run so far down below the bodice visually dividing the wearer's body into equal parts body and legs?

Placed Cable Aran" has always looked unflattering as well because the Chain Cable panels running down the front  neither relate to the sweater or compliment the human form within it. Beyond that the shoulder seems droop over like a dropped shoulder at a weird angle fighting with the linear vertical sides of the cable motif.

Flipping through the magazine for the first time in years I once again glanced at it but this time noticed the cables down the back where, if you addressed the drooping shoulder seam for a proper set in sleeve look they enhance the otherwise flat plain between the shoulders and give a bit of flattering drape. The wide, deep rib around the cuffs also jumped into view where I'd never noticed them before. Their shape and width nods to the rectangular outline of the placed cable edges. I was also struck by the open, light cowl collar and rolled hem softening that visual squareness.

After putting the magazine down and casting on the Tyroleans I started imaginknitting that sweater without the cable motifs on the front. (Another feature of imaginknitting - you can do it and knit in reality at the same time for twice the fun.)

Absent the cables on the front I bet the lovely soft collar can better frame the face and the figure of the wearer can take visual priority.  I also imaginknitted it a bit longer to ensure sleeves and hem don't line up across the bottom. (Turns out I had enough imaginary yarn to do it!)

'Quite satisfying imaginknitting an UNPlaced Cable Aran.  Interestingly as with all my imaginknits it worked up error free, smack dab on correct gauge with the recommended size needles and fits perfectly in every way! ;)

Such a wandering mind - no wonder I make mistakes in my real life knitting eh?

Thanks for dropping by!


Bouncing While Trying to Roll

When I have relative control of the various bits and chunks that make up the totality of my responsibilities it feels like managing a giant, cohesive ball rolling along. Its big and I have to pay attention to keep it under control but its under control.

Right now between Cottage, Garden, Number One Son's arrival home from school/imminent departure for a month away before starting his summer job, House, Laundry, Change of Seasons and my upcoming "launch" into springtime Dog Obedience Trials with Hudson it feels more like buckets of balls raining right down and bouncing out of control all around me.

Every day I manage to "grab" a couple but even as I do it seems another bucketful drops. Last evening they were still bouncing around in my brain after more than an hour of trying to organise three consecutive rows of correct knitting - without success! 'Time to set the project aside right?

I did. Problems solved this morning. More balls dropping as I type...'must be off!



Last week I had my little wake up moment when I realized I would have to rip and re-knit Deco a couple of sizes larger.

I didn't want to do it right away, however, because the pattern calls for facing the button bands with ribbon and I wanted to purchase that trim with visual reference in hand for an informed decision. (At least the thing, as knit, was useful for something!)

As part of a larger yarn crawling day I stopped in at Mokuba on Queen West last Wednesday. The best store for ribbons in the city (as far as I know). Mokuba's across the street, roughly midway between Romni and Americo.

Its visually clean and uncluttered, impeccably organized and the staff are blessedly detached (in my opinion) leaving one to browse without interruption. They make no effort to engage or gush. "Clinical" would be an apt description. Faced with thousands of options, clinical allows me to keep a cool head - important as I considered...
  • Polka Dots to give visual relief to the strong linear elements of the cardigan's design? Nah to busy.
  • Plaids to nod to the Scottish Designer Kate Davies? The colours were wrong.
  • Floral prints to accomplish both of the above? Too girly for me.
  • Velvets and brocades? Too heavy.
  • Muted shades? No, they brought out the olive component in the yarn to the point of making it drab.
  • Kitchy, funky graphic patterns in ideal colour combinations? 'Didn't suit the sweater.
After considering all these options (and more - how about stretchy ribbon?) I happily chose this...

It enlivens the springtime green of the yarn (even more than I can capture in a picture - this yarn wants to photograph "grey".) I love how the sheen of the ribbon offsets the haze of the knit's wooliness. Picking up this trim was a bright spot of fun amid the storminess of now needing to frog.

In happy sock news though, I'm closing in on the heel!

Thanks for dropping by!



The "model" of swift I use at the cottage most often is called the "Darling Daughter" 'Nice of her to make her  pedicure match my yarn don't you think? ;)

But "swift" isn't something often association with knitting knee highs! These are Anne Budd's Tyrolean Stockings from Interweave Knits Fall 2007 
The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Worsted (50/50 Wool and Alpaca) Purchased midway through last week on a trip to EweKnit. They have 9 or 10 different Berroco yarns on offer and in the case of this beautiful stuff this was one of the four orangy-red colourways on display.
Can you see the orange, fuscia and golden yellow in there? The colours meld to a softer combined shade than any of the individual parts. The Alpaca, lovely and soft with the wool maintaining reassuring elasticity.
I love the thick, stretchy edge from the "Old Norweigian" long tail cast on.

On the feet these loungy things will be unabashedly softsquishy. The eyes will get the halo of the alpaca for the requisite rustic quality of the pattern but the colour? Pure playfulness compared to what an undyed wool yarn could convey.

With all this going for them I'm thinking these knee highs will, in fact swiftly make it to the FO pile!

Thanks for dropping by!


Keep it Simple with Zen

"Zen emphasises the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight..."

Over the weekend, with Deco's second sleeve cap done and on a piece of yarn I was ready to begin the button bands. I tried it on first then  I measured, re-checked gauge, remeasured, stretched the thing and rationalised what miracles might be wrought out of a good blocking

Then, suddenly, in front of the mirror with an apparently shrunken outline of a someday cardigan straining around my underarms I attained "enlightenment" as to the fact I have no idea how big I am/what size a garment must be in order to fit me. (Yes the last sweater I finished was miles too big, lets not get distracted here...) this issue - (once again) is failing to understand how big I am/what size a garment must be in order to fit me.

The inch of insurance width I added at the underarm? Ha! How about more like 6 inches!


Reconsidering the pattern from this enlightened point of view I see I need to express that direct insight by working a version of Deco two sizes bigger than the one I have almost just completed. Although I might momentarily want to set fire/drive over/shred/leave at the cottage dump I can't abandon this project, however long however much Zen it takes. I 'love the pattern the yarn, the colour and process of knitting it all together.

Re. Knit.

'Thing is, I hadn't the heart to frog 5 weeks of dedicated knitting to cast on and start over just then...but I was working on "Zen" for Deco why not take a bit of break and knit with Zen (Garden Serenity) for this little cutie? 

So that's what I did. at the cottage, in the car, back home watching the Players and the Hockey Game I knit something called  "Keep it Simple" worked with Zen Garden Serenity Worsted and some remnant Galway Heather.
"Keep It Simple" hat by April Klich - free pattern on Ravelry
After each repeat of the pattern I took it off the needles and tried it on. The good news is I seem to understand how big my head is. Now all I have to do is sort out the actual size of all the stuff below that!

Onwards (with Zen but lets face it, once this hat is blocked, little chance I'll try to keep on keeping it simple! There's no sustained fun in that!)

Thanks for dropping by!


Friday Stuff

Well the Phentex got people talking! That squeaky, pure petroleum "hand" really sticks in the memory in a way not unlike the yarn itself doesn't it?

In knitting news I've spent the little time I've had with my needles this week playing around with the sleeve caps on Deco. Ripping and re-knitting a second one using a different point from which to pick up the cap's stitches. (I've put knitting the first completed cap into a sleeve on hold pending resolution of how I wanted the caps to look.) In the end I've decided to go with the way the first one is knit but I need a short 3mm circ. to proceed and I'll have to head out and buy one so I might just move on the to the button bands and collar over the weekend.

Oh and yesterday in my Ravelry Library I stumbled upon the feature that allows you to see the patterns you've used from each book or magazine in your collection. Or the ones in the queue.

Then from within "Favourite Designers" you can do the same thing! How fun and illustrative is that?

Its making me re-think the fact the only projects I have in Ravelry are those knit within the time frame of this blog. My "modern era" knitting began in earnest about 18 months prior to that point so the stats generated from the project page aren't really accurate in that regard. Hmmmm something to ponder tonight as I K2P2  our drive north in the rain.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend to all!


Squeeze It and it Kind of Squeeks

A non knitting friend, whose mother recently passed away has been giving me knitting stuff she finds among her mother's things.

The first load was a bag of needles. Then this wonderful, well worn counter...

Most recently, this blast from the past...

Containing this...

The enclosed sales receipt is dated New Years Eve 1985.

 'Funny, I thought Emerald Green's was a hot " new" colour for spring 2013!
Phentex for the slippers of yore, What with being a "hot new" colour and a "vintage" yarn I'd better pass it on to a fashion concious someone who will appreciate it more than I.



Fun from the Toy Box

Like Peter Rabbit after lettuces, Hudson finds the effects of his Toy Box quite soporific...
Unlike Hudson or Peter Rabbit, my Toy Box Inbox containing a new Wool People to peruse aaaaand an update on The Shepherd and Shearer may well keep me wide awake imagining the possibilities therein!


Pretty Darn Fine!

What a weekend...

'Opened the cottage in perfect weather and found no incursions of wildlife or water!

Despite very high water levels in the lake our steps were spared any damage - see the high water mark where the "surf" left a line of detritus up to but just short of them? Obviously the wet area marks the current water line.

These two docks are usually even at mid summer. By Labour Day the floater at top often drops as much below the stationary crib dock on which My Beloved is standing as it is currently above.

There was knitting. An interesting and new to me construction of the sleeve cape on four circs...

I was so transfixed as I worked it I knit it wrong side out. (Not as stupid a mistake as I usually make because I did check but when I did took my cue from the wrong side of the fabric which, in Deco is reverse stockinette at the yoke (beside the sleeve cape) but regular stockinette everywhere else.

I think Chicken Pillow beside me noticed the error before I did - don't you think that grin is a bit smug?

I stepped away from the project for a while after that and did a bit of raking up outside. (A crucial part of the ecosystem in Central and Northern Ontario are swarms of biting insects a few weeks in late Spring that feed numerous other species as they raise their young. They don't last past the first hot, dry weather but while they're at their peek (which they have yet to do this year) we don bug jackets when working outside in the brush. I was overly cautious yesterday due to the fragility of having just suffered inside-out-sleeve-cap issues.

Eventually I went back in to undertake the necessary ripping. Last night, home in the city, a correct sleeve cap was produced while watching Foyle's War on TVOntario. We're big supporters (and viewers) of public television from both sides of the border. We'd hardly turn the TV on if it weren't for TVO and WNED Buffalo PBS.
 Oh and also, in case you didn't hear...THE LEAFS WON!

I guess we'll be watching CBC while I knit tonight. Thanks for dropping by!



This skein is a recent gift from Number One Son. Worsted weight Biscotte & Cie hand dyed yarn from Quebec. How gorgeous is that colour? That adorable boy has purchased yarn for me over the past few months from "his" LYS (the one closest to his residence at school) - Lettuce Knit.

Its one of the more storied yarn shops in this city of yarn shops. 'Long time hang out of the Yarn Harlot, a photo shoot location for Franklin Hobbit's 1000 Knitter's project, where Ysolda attended knit nights on her early trips ('08) to T.O. visiting chum local designer and Lettuce Knit employee, Laura Chau - you get the idea. Currently they also seem to stock an abundance of expensive hand dyed goodies.

On this shopping occasion, as at Christmas, Number One Son says he chose a skein and asked whether it was "enough to make something". To a non knitter its a straightforward question worthy of a "yes" or "no" response. To a knitter the answer's more accurately "it depends" and that was the answer he got.

It wasn't the answer he needed though so he pressed further asking what you could make with that skein. Again, knitters know a knitter's answer to a knitter is "it depends". And again that's what he was told.

The thing is, he's not a knitter and I'd imagine that's pretty obvious to talk to him even before a classic non-knitter question like "is this enough to make something" comes out of his young mouth so it galls me an experienced knitter, and salesperson of yarn would be so obtuse.

(To be fair, I've heard this phrase in answer to the inquiries of new knitters in other shops at other times and wondered the same thing.)

Wouldn't the more appropriate answer be..."yes, you could make a cowl or a short scarf  or a hat with that but its not really enough for something like mitts and you'd need 6 to 8 of those to make an average sized sweater."?

Now I don't want him to think he wasn't well treated. DO NOT want to squash this new and FABULOUS trend of yarn gifts coming my way! So I just quietly suggested he might want to try try "Ewe Knit" which is also close to where he lives and where I sense the atmosphere is less woolly refuge where if you don't speak the "lingo" too bad for you and more classic "how can I help you today" retail.

He said he'd think about that but then added "its hard to believe that place (Lettuce Knit) can even survive so I'd like to give them the business". The knitterly cache of the shop and its wares has been lost on him. The sales potential of this son buying yarn for his mother was lost on the clerk. A sale, but no connection, was made.

After being "together" at my desk for a few days, the yarn and I, unlike the clerk and my kid, have a good solid connection. In fact the yarn's "telling" me, as I cruise around Ravelry, that it wants to be a springtime, graphic, open lace scarf like this.

Lets face it, connections between all "parties" (LYS, yarn, skill, needles, mood, knitter, pattern, colour, size...etc. etc. etc.) really is critical to successful knitting. The trick is to recognize the difference between a true connection and passing fancy. Not too much unlike life I guess!

Have a great weekend. Thanks for dropping by!


Almost Summer!

To me, "Summer" means primarily three things...*

Warm Weather
No School

I moved Number One Son out of his university residence in the most glorious sunshine yesterday so we officially now have two out of three around here.

Up at the lake the ice went so we can now launch a boat, get to and open the Cottage for the season this weekend. Then it will really feel like its here at last!


Knitting as Reward or Necessity?

I had a most interesting chat with a knitting friend the other day about how knitting functions for us beyond the obvious process/product benefit. Do we knit after all else is done to reward ourselves or knit to generate the mental/emotional "nutrition" that fuels productivity in other areas of our lives?

For me, knitting feels like it used to be exclusively reward but its morphed in recent years to often reside in my "fuel" category.

Of course whats being knit contributes to what it "does" for me. In light of that, what's Deco's current contribution?

Its quite satisfying on many fronts with bits of instructions to attend to producing satisfying little details like waist shaping...

That's broken up with working expanses of mindless stockinette knit a bit on the tight side. Right up my alley so row and stitch gauge is bang on!

But a bit of angst is creeping in, as ever, around the question of fit. While I'm happy with the additional inch and a half of added length and I have to remember I did add an inch and a half of width at the arm hole the upper body still seems so meager! I have to remember the generous neck and button bands are still to be added and the thing is rolling like crazy which assembly and blocking will put to rights and the finished neckline is low and wide...
Knitting as "Reward", "Necessity" or "Punishment"?
More like just "Enthusiasm" coloured with "Blind Optimism".

I bet if I read my own blog I'd see whatever I chat about with other knitters, the latter is what knitting gives me all the time?! 'Way to hold me accountable Deco!

Thanks for dropping by!