Whatever Gets You Through the Night - Knitting Motivation courtesy of John Lennon and Sir Elton

I'm struggling to re-adopt my knitting "habit" or break my current habit of not knitting! Its like getting back to regular exercise after a hiatus. (And unlike exercise I adore knitting!)

'Don't need a sword to cut down flowers, 's'alright, s'alright...

I am making progress though by "nibbling" on only the most appealing bits until I'm sufficiently motivated to take a big "bite".

Do it wrong or do it right, s'alright, s'alright...

It may not be the best way to start, I'm not undertaking the most pressing task I'm only doing whatever I feel like for as long as I feel like doing it. The only thing I hold myself to is I can't wholeheartedly walk away for more than a brief time before I have to take another run at whatever catches my fancy about it.

'Don't need a watch to waste your time, s'alright, s'alright...

Over the weekend this approach had me grabbing what I currently think of as "Dirty Blankie".

It's very dirtiness is the thing that appeals as its a product of the knit's beginnings during the wickedly hot, dry summer of 2012 - it even retains a whiff of that unmistakable scent of sun screen. I'm drawn to the memory of that heat in this late, cool spring of our long cold winter.

Dirty Blankie is also close to completion. With thirty repeats of the the pattern now done, I added a marker as a reminder of progress made and the proximity of the end a few repeats hence.

'Don't need a gun to blow your mind, s'alright, s'alright...

This weekend My Beloved has proposed a trip to visit various elements of his family a couple of hours from here. The prospect is not appealing but just this morning I'm finding myself thinking "at least I can knit on Dirty Blankie!"

With Lennon and Elton ringing in my ears memories of heat and the prospect of completion  are spurring me on.

Whatever gets you through the night, s'alright, s'alright!

Here's the video that put this song in my head - so amazing to think of John Lennon dropping into a shirtless Elton John's Madison Square Garden Concert on Thanksgiving Day. Yoko is sitting stonily cool amidst the adoring dancing fans and in just a few weeks Lennon would be dead. Whatever we're up to its so important to enjoy every minute and make sure we fill our lives with the things that gratify us isn't it?

Thanks for dropping by!


Faux Thrummed Mitts FO (A Melange of Patterns)

Pattern: Classic Mittens by Purl Soho
Inspiration: These
Source: Purl Bee Blog
Yarn: Kertzer Worsted (Green), Remnant Worsted (Turquoise), Garnstudio Super Bulky (Stranded Blue)
Needles: Hand: 4.5mm, Cuff: 4mm
Start: January 20 Finish: January 26th, 2014

I "favourited" these some time ago.
  • 'Loved the cuff.  Provisional crochet cast on facilitating a tidy join to double the cuff over on itself before moving on to knit the hand.
  • 'Loved the k2,s1 pattern of the cuff itself.
  • 'Loved a version of it knit flat in worsted with super bulky yarn stranded to infer thrums.
And after knitting two sets of pointy finger tips with EZ I was up for something fully round.

So I hit the stash, grabbed the remnant turquoise, a single green ball of worsted I got as a freebie somewhere and some remnant Super Bulky from my 2 big blue sweaters (knit, worn, ripped, washed, re knit - man have I got my money's worth out of that yarn purchase!).

As you can imagine they flew off the needles and onto my hands where I quickly realized...

Faux thrums 
Faux warmth!

They were better than a single layer of stockinette but not much. The doubled cuffs were toasty, my fingers quickly numb. They were big and round enough to easily add a layer underneath but I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed.

I am also not thrilled about the seam. The influence of the stranding worked close enough to the seams so as to make at least the pattern seamless made the mittens scream out "Seam's right here everybody!"

They look sloppy and awkward but with the pink mitred mitts underneath they saw a lot of wear and did their job of keeping my fingers from falling off in the -20ish wind chills I often endured as Hudson frolicked. They'll be off to the bath soon for summer storage but I'll be glad to dig them out again (hopefully) late next autumn.

At last night's DKC presentation Sally Melville gave a most entertaining talk on why knitting makes us happy. She cited many of the reasons with which we, as avid knitters, are familiar but beyond that asserted when we knit useful, wearable garments that fit well and look good on us we find the confluence of all the best things that knitting can provide for us, our families and even society as a whole.

It made me think of these mitts among all my pure wool sweaters, socks, cowls, scarves, hats etc. etc. - the pieces that literally made it possible for me to ensure Hudson never missed a single day of being out for at least a couple of hours of the brisk walking we both need.

I know people with big, young, athletic dogs who need and deserve at least an hour and a half of daily exercise who rarely got out for weeks on end because their owners felt it was "too cold".

It was COLD, it wasn't comfortable and we had to be careful but properly dressed and always moving - you can't just stand around in weather like that,  it wasn't so cold as to keep us inside and the poor dog from getting his proper exercise. (Or the dog's owner for that matter!). Without a doubt, the products of my knitting made dog ownership, Hudson's life and my own overall fitness all that much better this winter. I'm with 'ya Sally! 


Mitered Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmerman FO

Pattern: Mitred Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitter's Almanac (May)
Yarn: Biscotte and Cie (Yellow) Remnant Wool Worsted (Pink)
Source: Lettuce Knit (Yellow) Romni Wools (Pink)
Needles: 4mm dpn's
Start: September 12, 2013 Finish: January 21, 2014
Modifications: Omitted Pointed Fingertip for Squared Off Shape

This sunny morning with the yard covered in Spring snow it seems topical to post some springtime mittens.

"Spring"in Canada doesn't automatically mean high temperatures or an absence of snow. It is warm-er than the depth of winter and as today's sunshine demonstrates its our brightest time of year with powerful sun and no leaves on the trees to give any shade.

With bright sun yet still cool temperatures I'm inclined to want knits in my wardrobe that are warm but bright and maybe a bit whimsical after trying to stay seriously warm during the previous winter months. I've knit a few pieces to these specs in recent years and I enjoy having them in my "Spring" wardrobe but there was nothing along these lines among my mitts/gloves.

So I dedicated this gorgeous skein of Biscotte&Cie yarn in the aptly named colourway "Vitamine C" to a pair  of EZ's mitred mitts.
Their single layer of stockinette, while insufficient to fight a blast of winter is just the thing for this time of year.
A second pink pair followed quickly thereafter in remnant worsted before knitting any afterthought thumbs. (I really prefer a gusset thumb don't you? Not as easy to knit but they function so much better!)

The pink ones got snipped, "thumbed", finished and I think, within hours, worn way ahead of their "Spring time" purpose paired with the garter stitch dk weight ones as pictured below. The pink giving a nice added length at the wrist and of course warmth to the hands!
The narrow shape and squared off finger tips I substituted for EZ's pointed ones also make them perfect to layer together too. I love their strong equal tones visually holding each other at bay!
Although thumbs for the yellow pair followed shortly after the pink ones their sunny colour seemed a bit much. Now, though, their "moment" has arrived. They'll be perfect to wear downtown tonight to the DKC!
Happy Spring!


Hudson's Spring "Do" FO

Walking around in public with a white, traditionally styled poodle means I'm often approached by dog groomers (probably wanting to get my business) These groomers generally lament that most, if not all their clients, request that their poodles NOT be clipped so as to look like poodles. I get that. I didn't really love their aesthetic but careful research nonetheless taught me the poodle breed is the exact right one for us, so that's what we got - and a white one to boot!

So I figure, I've got it, may as well flaunt it. Why pretend he's something other than he is so my family is quite used to seeing him "clean shaven" around his face feet and tail and they've watched with reserved acceptance as he's variously sported a moustache, short, shaved ears, been close cropped and covered in curls as well as fluffy to the max.

Last Friday, however, when the "troops" came home there was all out disgust at my latest efforts. My first attempt to "Set" a bonafide pattern - in this case, a modern take on the "Dutch" clip - a look that I understand was almost the universal poodle clip of the 1940's and 50's.

The modern version trends away from the super puffy legs used in those days to evoke traditional Dutchmen's Trousers but maintains the idea of the Dutchmans' "jacket" and "pants"...

The pattern is set by clipping lines according to the relative position of "landmarks" of the poodle's body - rib cage, hip bones, shoulders etc. then tweaking them to make the dog look like an ideal specimen - fooling the eye where necessary. Finally once its all set, the edges are bevelled using sheers and the overall length of the full sections hand scissored to 1" all over to give that signature poodle puff ball appearance.

Then you check for balance and symmetry not only as the dog stands but sits, lies down and moves.

 The impression should be that dog is squarely built, elegant, smart and well proportioned. 

In my  view, further to that, the dog should feel great all clean and free of his heavy winter "wear". I easily took >3" of length off his upper body. It kept him comfortable during hours of walking with nothing extra on but his collar while I was swathed in knits and down this past frigid winter. Now, though, one of the great things about the poodle is, we can "change" his outfit to something that better suits the season.

Just check out that poodle smile - whatever the others say, I know he feels good and he's happy. (BTW except sometimes right at the end he's generally pretty happy while I'm clipping him too - there's no place on earth where he gets more or better treats than when he's on the grooming table!)

Tonight at Obedience Class we'll see a couple of groomers who have poodles of their own - there will be scrutiny for me but liver and salmon treats for Hudson so probably more poodle smiles too!

Thanks for dropping by!


Bee Stitch Cloths FO

Pattern: Bee Stitch Wash Cloths
Source: Yarn Harlot Blog August 2013
Yarn: Rowan All
Colours: "Organic"#178 and "Bleached" #182
Source: Romni Wools Toronto
Needles: 4mm
Start: December 20, 2013 Finish: January 8, 2014

This Aran weight 50/50 Cotton/Nylon was fabulous to work with. (I love the tactile experience of knitting so its entertaining to experience how changing from one kind yarn to another feels "refreshing" to the hands.) This time it was a nice to change to the firm, cylindrical feel of cotton after the wooley wool of Shearer and this stuff felt pretty "beefy" even after the Super Bulky Alpaca of the Drop Stitch Cowl.

The Harlot's recommended "Bee Stitch" yields a substantial but manageable cloth for washing face, body or dishes.

What I should have done at the outset, will do in future, is divide the balls in half by weight before I start knitting. There's no magic to making an exact size so why not ensure bang for the buck with two per ball?

The Yarn Harlot, from whom I copied the idea, works from a cone of yarn - much better suited to mass production -no ends sewn midway into one of these things or wasting the better part of a ball if the remnant is insufficient to making another without a join.

I experimented with the edges for the wash cloth trying three different approaches before casting off the first one. For the dish cloth version I opted to drop a distinct edging altogether.

I also decided to forgo making any with the pink yarn. 'Not sure why, because when I started knitting these I was kind of saving the pink for the last as I was looking forward to working with it the most.

My Aunt worked up 7 "Spa Clothes" in Bee Stitch (using worsted weight cotton yarn) and packaged each up with a beautiful bar of French milled soap tied with a fabric bow. Hers were bigger than a regular wash cloth and in worsted, with her more relaxed natural tension, more open and drapey. They were beautiful and well received Christmas gifts.

In a season of gift knitting mine were started as gifts but finished as keepers. Such a selfish knitter!


Drop Stitch Cowl by Abi Gregorio FO

Pattern: "Drop Stitch Cowl" by Abi Gregorio
Source: Free Ravelry Download
Yarn: 3 skeins Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky
Colour: 1010 Red
Source: eweknit Toronto
Needles: 10mm Circular
Start and Finish: December 18, 2013
Modifications: Added 10 sts at cast on.

Darling Daughter spotted the pattern for this cowl as I was scrolling around Ravelry a few weeks before Christmas said she liked it. Such statements are rare so I instantly resolved to knit it for her in time for the 25th using the wondrous Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky I sourced at eweknit.

The big feature of the yarn and pattern is that its BIG. So the piece should appear big on the wearer right? A quick glance at the designer modelling her work on the pattern revealed something on the order of "Petite" whereas Darling Daughter measures in at nigh on 6 feet. So I increased the number of stitches cast on by 10 or about 20% to yield something suitably substantial and use up all but 8" of the three skeins I'd purchased of this beyond soft, Super Bulky Alpaca & Wool, roving-style yarn.

Once I got to it, it was only a couple of hours before I was weaving in the two short ends.  (I opted not to block it - leaving it as thick and lush as possible.)

Obviously this was a great winter for big cozy knits and the colour was very complimentary on her so it saw lots of wear, indoors and out.

Thanks Abi! You're a clever generous woman putting this great pattern up free of charge!

Oh my goodness I feel so blessed to have raised a family in Canada!
If you embrace them, even tough winters are fun!
(Especially if you've lots of hand knits to wear!)


"Shearer" by Kirsten Kapur FO

Pattern: "The Shearer Pullover" by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Shepherd and Shearer Worsted
Needles: 4.5mm, 5mm
Start: October 13 Finish: December 8, 2013
Modifications: Details on Ravelry page (here) and blog posts labelled "Shepherd and Shearer"

 This knit has seen wear every weekend day for almost 4 months as well as its first washing!

This because My Beloved has very much appreciated its warmth during this oh-so-frigid winter...Under a heavy coat when walking the dog, over shirt sleeves hanging out around the house, whatever he was doing, the minimally processed, heavy worsted/light Aran yarn held in the heat/kept out the chill like a dream.

Now as the weather finally moderates a bit he's taken to wearing it on dog walks under a fleece vest and leaving his coat behind at home.

I fretted so much trying to modify it from the pattern as written to be more akin to the kind of men's sweater people bring back from trips to Ireland or Scotland.

The gory details of those mods are laid out step by step in past posts, suffice here to say to make my vision a reality in wool I...
  • Added ribs at cuff and hem so as to make the cables appear to spring from/flow back into ribbing. 
  • Eradicated the drop shoulder and worked the sleeves top down after picking up around the armhole.
  • Rolled and tack down the collar.
Using the amazing Asplund as my inspiration on how to approach sorting out those mods I was uncertain whether I could actually make it happen. Like The Little Engine that Could I just kept saying "I think I can", visiting and revisiting Asplund's blog and Ravelry Projects and sure enough, in the end, I did!

Looking back now I don't know what I was so worried about. The exercise was less about knitting technicalities and more about keeping an open mind to...

  • the possibilities of how I might accomplish what I wanted
  • letting go of the habit of relying on the pattern to instead work with the pattern.
  • being ready and willing to try things, rip back, try again and maybe again to get it right while recording the details so I could repeat it on the other side.
  • Working without interruption from other projects so as to keep a clear eye on my process and all the details straight in my mind.

Once I relaxed and accepted those unusual (to me) practices the process of finishing the sweater in fairly short order left me feeling more satisfied than exhausted and with a satisfactory result too.

Much credit to the yarn itself. No doubt the kind of beautiful stuff for which cables were originally designed. It knits like a dream but also washes beautifully. A pinching along the length of the cables and ribs as it dries adds great visual pop and I bet, also, warmth. During drying I also occasionally encouraged it to kind of fluff up a bit to great advantage. When My Beloved saw it dried and ready for wear this past Saturday morning his first comment was "This looks like a brand new sweater again!". After all a cream sweater worn repeatedly every weekend for months can't help but start to show some sign of grime - especially around the hems but there's no sign of it now. The yarn really is fantastic.

I'm pleased to say my approach to Shearer carried forward into the knits I worked over the weeks that followed. In coming days I'll post about them as well. 'Meantime, thanks so much for all the kind comments that have welcomed me back this past week and thanks for dropping by today.