Wadda Ya Know...I've Actually Made Some Stuff!

Despite being here there and everywhere I have been finding time and opportunities to finish things...

...This infant tomten/hat set and accompanying receiving blanket was done in time for gifting to an Australian friend we saw in Nantes France for her new grandson back home in Melbourne...

This "Jessamin" linen cardi saw completion over several hours of train travel through France in early July and its seen a lot of wear ever since...

Hudson prefers if knitting and the knitter just stay home!

Here at the cottage we spend hours every day in the ski boat dragging Number One Son around the lake. Its windy and bumpy but it can yield a good amount of knitting time for mindless stockinette so while watching stuff like this...

He isn't attached to that wake skate board - its just grip tape and running shoes and somehow he makes it do all kinds of things.

And this...

By contrast - this happens at 32 miles an hour with both feet strapped into that ski.

And while spending time in the car and on the road I got this "Daelyn" pullover done in a couple of weeks...

Meanwhile the "Gift for the Girls Blanket" grew too big to move from the cottage but it is done and ready for the wedding in the woods ten days from now...

Ditto Darling Daughter's Bride's Maid dress The shot below shows it in progress at the cottage where it saw the bulk of its post-toile construction...

There have also been a number of these "Tawashi Knots" produced...

A great little project with a fun new yarn...more on that and details of the other pieces to come of course but for now at least I'm up and blogging!



'Doesn't Feel Right Just Now

I've been writing posts over the past weeks about knitting, about adventures with Hudson, dipping my toe back into sewing clothes for myself. Yesterday I wrote about our trip to France last week. This morning I planned to add photos and post it.

But every time I'm set to hit "Publish" it seems another terrible event occurs somewhere in the world making me feel small and selfish to go on about stitching with linen or running around with my my crazy-fluffy white poodle.

There is so much sadness and pain about, some of which we've been close to just a very few days ago.

Last week we were in France. Our trip started in Nantes where we were part of an international group. There I had, as my dinner companions one night, some Texans from Dallas and the conversations eventually turned to gun control and semi automatic weapons and of course just hours later, the horrible shootings occurred there.

At lunch one day a representative from Instanbul spoke to the assembly, encouraging people to visit her city with assurances of security.

Waiting for a train to Paris I spoke with a man from San Diego who expressed concern about his Republican Party back home.

In Paris we enjoyed beautiful summer days and evenings, watched Euro Cup games in open air cafes and visited museums crammed with tourists from across the globe. All friendly and peaceable.

But there were armed police patrolling the streets and guarding facilities, full body scans and bag checks necessary to gain access to department stores.

Refugee families, with small children, sat on the streets begging, young refugee men trying to make any money they could selling cold bottled water and beer to tourists.

On our flight home a young teenaged boy sitting with his dad in the seats across the aisle from us had a violent seizure. He received immediate care from generous doctors and paramedics on the flight but I'm haunted by the image of his parents, sister and grandparents enduring the hours and hours remaining in the flight and I keep hoping he's now okay.

Meanwhile,  Number One Son is currently travelling home today after two years in Europe. He'll take two trains and three flights to get here and he's already been delayed at the Paris Airport where he'll likely now spend the night. I'll figuratively holding my breath until he arrives but it isn't lost on me, unlike so many others, we are among the luckiest of parents this morning.



Me Made May

On the last day of May I kind of dipped my toe into the thing.

I went to The Workroom (conveniently down the street from Romni) and for the first time in decades, bought myself a couple of sewing patterns.

"Me Made May 2016" blog posts wherein the bloggers/instagrammers put up photos of themselves every day in May wearing their own hand made clothes is prompting me to work up casual basics like tops, tanks, pj's, maybe even the odd simple skirt or dress.

I'm likely late in discovering the world of indie sewing pattern drafting. It seems an echo of the explosion in knitting patterns early in the 2000's but now pairing hand knits and home sewn pieces.

For a while, and for all the fair trade/ethical/shop local reasons, I've also been weaning myself from mass produced/marketed clothing and department/chain store shopping. Its been more of a challenge than I imagined and I hope sewing some stuff will help make it easier.

This is what I've now assembled so far...

The amazing hand dyed indigo from London, I think is going to become a swingy tank...

...possibly lined so as to keep indigo from rubbing off on me and my clothes.

Gauzy plaid cotton will be a lightweight, sun blocking scarf edged with embroidery using the French floss Number One Son gave me from Loop last Christmas...

...This fabric/yarn combo I've already shown you now has a sewing pattern for the top portion of my own top/cardi set.

Then in a fit of optimism I picked up a roll of sewable tracing paper-type stuff from Sweden with which to duplicate patterns for re-use or even to make up some of my own from existing pieces I need to replace but the fit/function of which I love.

I want to sew up at least a couple of these things to "warm up" my technique before tackling Darling Daughter's Bride's maid dress.

Fun and exciting, colourful things to ponder as I take a break from afghan knitting. Another baby has been born into our social orbit so my trip to Romni yesterday yielded yarn for Tom Ten Jacket IV.

Not a lot of colour here either but the yarn's 50% cotton content is novel in my hands, the prospect of a sweatshirt vibe in the FO is engaging and the creamy cotton wool planned for a little hat is lifting my knitting spirits even more.

And so onward!


Darling Daughter's Darling Cardi

"Trellis" from Knitty in  Superwash Cascade
'Have to say I love having FO's seemingly "pop up" around here. Darling Daughter finally got the buttons sewn on and they finish it off so nicely!

She needed very little help knitting/assembling. Hard to believe she'd only been a knitter for six months when she cast on for this.


That was then but this is now...

The Gift for the Girls blanket is coming along...half way into #6 of 9 skeins, two more to go in the main colour before the final ball in dark green garter edging.

Casting on, the colours looked like the British Racing Green and tan of a classic MGB Roadster.

Now, all I see on my needles is something akin to muddy greyed brown.

Switching from wooly wool to superwash at the outset was the right thing to do and knowing that made me confident in the switch.

Still I can't convince my hands to stop balking at the feel of this superwash yarn.

Starting/knitting the first half felt like a grand gesture.

This second half now seems more like a sacrifice.

Sometimes, even as a project moves along, the further and further it feels like it is from ever being finished.


I Spied (But Didn't Buy) Wool in London

Love this moving water sculpture just outside the security zone at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

As we stood in the line snaking through airport security en route to London we kept passing a young woman whose backpack had skeins of hand dyed yarn flopping out of the pockets. She was wearing a Steven West shawl over a hand knit wool cardigan. I saw her as a good omen for wooly fun ahead.

A few hours later as we walked into our room at the uber hip Ace Hotel in Shorditch, there under the window, with a great view of the Gherkin was an expansive day bed that immediately called out..."why not sit here and knit?!"

(In the end, Number One Son's 18 hour-a-day tours left no time or energy for knitting but even the prospect of it was a lovely thing to imagine.)

Out and about I was ever on the look out for wool and there was plenty of it to be seen.

The families lounging upon wool blankets on the grass at Kew were only the beginning. Unlike here in Toronto, many of the home wares shops I visited offered pure wool blankets for sale - in an array of wonderful colours...

Knitted bunting hung in shop windows that didn't stock yarn...

In Churchill's underground WWII War Room, literally preserved as it was on the day of the Armistice, wool yarn was tacked up on huge wall-spanning maps to illustrate the ever changing picture of enemy/allied advances...

I wondered at the prospect of someone, in the days of the Blitz, going out to pick up the yarn for this.

On the streets of London, I saw many people, and especially males, wearing fantastic wool jackets, sweaters and scarves. This little boy was my hands down favourite!...

Of course,  there was also my plan to bring some wooly goodness home with me from Loop!

I wanted a hardy, UK tweed wool yarn for a "cracking good", British sweater or vest for My Beloved.

Then there was my additional idea - the one I went on about in my last post - to nab a sweater quantity of rosy pink wool yarn for myself.

Images of such soon-to-be purchases were on my mind as we headed out walking from Shoreditch to the neighbourhood of Islington where Loop is located.

Our route took us alongside a picturesque canal lined with boats that serve as people's homes. That in itself was worth venturing off in the direction of the shop but the little alleyway in which Loop sits is also utterly adorable...

And the alley runs behind an equally beautiful, leafy roadway lined with interesting shops and cafes.

The tiny store looks like its associated web site and at first glance seemed a perfect combined distillation of London and Knitting. As I slipped through the narrow doorway into the shop my heart raced at the prospects therein.

Then the shop owner greeted me...with an American accent? The salesperson on the upper floor offered to assist me - another American.  Two knitters, sitting round a table upstairs chatting - one of whom worked in the shop - both Americans. Nothing wrong with Americans, just not what I was expecting at all.

Not surprisingly, as with the web site, many, many of the yarns were also North American (Debbie Bliss and Rowan yarns I can find here any day of the week won't evoke London to me once back at home.)

Overall I'd say the selection was international - Brooklyn Tweed in all its forms, South American yarns, Quince and Co., Japanese and Icelandic yarns - you get the idea.

The worsted weights were alpaca, silk and some blends - none of it was what I was looking for.

Loop has had custom colour ways in some yarns but they were sold out.

There were a couple of dozen shades of Shetland Jumper Weight but nothing in that British rose kind of colour I was hoping to find.

In the end I picked up a copy of Loop's 10th Anniversary Pattern Book.  The photography captures the feel of what I'd hoped to find. I'll source the yarn from home. Book in hand I rejoined My Beloved and Number One Son outside the shop. They greeted me with shocked amazement. "That was quick!" "No yarn?" "Are you sure? We don't mind waiting."

I assured them I'd exhausted the possibilities of the store's inventory to my purposes and off we went.

That quick exit paid off a couple of days later though. On a rare few hours without our "guide" My Beloved suggested we go back to Liberty of London (thank you Lorraine for that fantastic recommendation!) so I could maybe get some fabric to commemorate our trip since the plan for yarn had been abandoned. On our way to Liberty we stumbled upon a street with many fabric shops and there I found the most fantastic little place, every bit as charming as Loop and maybe even then some. I spent over half an hour inside and came out with some wonderful goodies...

Breezy, plaid cotton gauze from France, some hand dyed in India indigo and a wee little embroidered initial from Japan for Darling Daughter.

So, wool was a big feature of London for me - its just the only wool I brought home in my bag was the Debbie Bliss, Irish tweed I took with me in the first place. 


(Our) Spring Time in London

London was, as ever  sprawling, bustling, clearly ancient yet confidently modern.

Seeing it with Number One Son, whose been there a couple of years now, was a headlong race to tour, taste and meet up with the fantastic gems he's discovered. So much so, I only recognized the details of all we did once back at home last week sorting the hundreds of photos I took.

Impossible to miss in real time though, was the perfection of the sunny spring weather and its accompanying sights. We even had a few light rain showers one afternoon to make things feel properly British.

The leaves on the trees were beginning to unfurl.

The weekly Columbia Flower Market was extra crammed

This was literally the only place this little guy could stand and not get trampled!

There were folks picking up fantastic looking plants for their plots at home...

But no less showy was the quantity and array of cut flowers both in Columbia Road and in the little street corner stalls across the city we saw as we toured about.

Parrot Tulips

Bouquets of Crocus like I've never seen here at home

Several different colours of light pink roses to choose from in this one stall!
Maybe its the nature/quality of the light in London but there's something about the way the Brits "do" pink - sophisticated and cool without looking lurid, or girly.

Just look at this beautiful (delicious) chocolate coconut wafer cookie...

Wouldn't these stripes look great on a knitted pullover?
And I just had to snap a picture of this great looking bike...

Even big, beautiful blush pink meringues were calling to me as colour inspiration for knitting.
All these sights got me resolving to pick up rose-coloured yarn as a souvenir of this trip when I finally made it to Loop.

Before that, however, we were to head to Kew Garden and it didn't disappoint. The scale and ambition of the plantings are literally without parallel.

Trees planted to create the appearance of landscape paintings complete with forced perspective - here, along with the meandering mown path leading the eye to an unassuming bench.

Clipped vistas set against lush expanses of lawn...

Photo-inducing frames for Kew's collection of period structures and buildings...

Kew's famous "Pagoda"
Luckily the garden seemed free of tourists on the Bank Holiday we visited, instead, local families lounged on the grass atop wooly plaid blankets as if out of a BBC television program.

Kids were making daisy chains...

Then there were these two gardens, set virtually next to each other...one, behind Kew Palace...

The other...behind the building housing the Palace Kitchens...

They evoked many, many British books, movies and television programs. I half expected to see Peter Rabbit in his little blue waistcoat hopping around the lettuces in this one!

Of course, back in central London signs of the British spring were everywhere too. Grand floral displays...

Charming domestic plantings...

Flowering fruit trees in Notting Hill looking almost artificial against the pure blue sky...

Probably the sweetest, most spring-timey sight though...flowers on little girls...in their hair...

Printed on their dresses
Encircling their heads...

Finally (and best), we even had a bit of springtime in our room at the hotel...Number One Son organized a sweet little arrangement of flowers for us...

I've never had such a treat before while away on holiday but 'have to say it was surprisingly fantastic to come back to the sight of them and their scent hanging in the air after touring the streets of London for hours and hours each day.

Yup, all this had me primed and ready to splash out on some rosey British yarn. I'd been looking forward to my trip to Loop before but now I couldn't wait. Day 3 would start with the half hour walk there from our hotel!

Details on that tomorrow and thanks so much for dropping by today!