Keeping it Local

I have my camera back so wanted share details of my Frolic purchases now I can provide photo evidence...

Stoddart Family Farm Merino Mohair Worsted. Natural "Dark".  Three of these four hanks will handily yield Jared Flood's "Guernsey Wrap" but I bought a fourth because it was just too amazing not to. This yarn is organically raised less than an hour north east from our house. Its spun at a mill an hour or so north west of us using solar power to warm the wash water and citrus based soaps to clean the fleeces rather than sulphuric acid.

The fleeces come from the Stoddard's flock of Romney sheep (listed as "endangered" by Rare Breeds Canada). They live and graze exclusively on certified organic pasture. The mohair comes from Stoddard's neighbour's flock of angora mohair goats (listed as "vulnerable" by Rare Breeds Canada).

See what I mean about being amazing! Brown and Grey and Silver. Soft with a bit of a halo but still woolly!

I also picked up this little book by local Toronto knit designer Robin Melanson. When I waved it around at "Show and Tell" last night at Craft Group the woman I would say is easily the most accomplished knitter in the room spoke up said the book was, in her experience, not only full of great patterns but also a great resource for instructions on technique. I consider this very high praise coming from such an advanced knitter and it made feel extra great about buying the book.

Local sheep, local mill, local designer. Love it!


Working out Nicely

I was very happy with the execution of my plan of attack for the Frolic.  I did my research, got there early enough to whip around before things got crowded and so was able to locate the things I was interested in. Then I went back to the booths I had targeted and did my shopping. Lapsed time - 40 minutes.

With that accomplished I felt free to wander about looking at this and that, flipping through pattern books, handling lovely yarn bowls wondering whether I'd enjoy using one, staring at the wall of Shetland colours for a while imagining the "someday" possibilities...that kind of thing.

With both concrete and fanciful "shopping" complete I met with Brenda and Sandra and Sandra's friend Susan for coffee. Sandra left the first comment I ever received here and it was Sandra who made me Christmas PJ pants in celebration of her birthday. We live within half an hour of each other yet we've never met so it was great good fun to finally sit across from her and get a chance to ask her just how she is sooooo productive. (Knitting, sewing, beading, working, parenting, cottaging, gardening)

I had also hoped to quiz Brenda in detail about the amazing construction of her Colour Block Cardigan wherein she ingeniously integrated a combination of two contiguous set in sleeve techniques and but darts but time among the yarn fumes ran too short for that. :( I've made a promise to myself to catch up on those details next time Brenda! I hope you're game!)

With all of that I was still home in time for lunch, a bit of knitting on Deco, some yard work and bbq'd cheeseburgers to celebrate a long awaited warm and sunny Saturday!

Photo evidence of my purchases will have to wait until I get my camera back from Number One Son. He's had it at school for the last few days of his time in residence this year. Tomorrow we move his things home and Wednesday he will follow. ( I don't really understand the disconnect between him and his stuff but at this age and stage I know its probably better not to!)

Tonight is Craft Group and I'll be casting on the first sleeve for "Deco" amid the crazed crafting chatter. I'm not sure what I'll be baking and taking so I'd better get to that!

Thanks for dropping by today!


Advanced Planning to Guard Against Yarn Fumes

Well its Wednesday before our annual "Knitter's Frolic" here in Toronto so I'm mentally working on my plan of attack for the Marketplace on Saturday morning. I don't want to get there early trying to beat the crowds and then just toddle about hopelessly lost in the skeins and balls, batts and patterns and then walk away with nothing or, honestly worse than nothing, things I don't really want or need.

Over the next couple of days I plan to visit the websites of a few of the listed vendors with whom I'm not familiar but in advance of that I know I'll be wanting to shop for two projects in my queue that are currently without yarn.

The first is is Miss Honeychurch from Knitty '09. This summery top calls for about 1200 yards of DK hemp and I'll be looking for a suitably summery white in which to knit it. If I don't get to working it up before I make the move to the cottage it will make a great hot weather project once I'm there in July.

The second pattern for which I'll be hunting up yarn is Jared Flood's Guernsey Wrap. Jared's is of course worked in his own "Shelter" worsted. I haven't any firm vision on the colour for this but I'm leaning towards Grey. That seems simple enough but I'm on the hunt for a special yarn in a fabulous shade of  this wardrobe classic. Maybe it'll be a tweed, Maybe super pale. Possibly something with a blue or brown undertone. It could also have a hint of something luxurious. It could be natural and undyed. I'm open minded and I'll just see what I can find and if nothing strikes me as "just the perfect yarn" I'll leave it for another day.

One thing I know for sure I will find at the Frolic is hundreds of smiling, giddy knitters. They'll be all crammed together among the booths, all talking at once. I swear this event, is, on this last Sunday in April, the happiest place on earth!

I hope you're happy today! Thanks for dropping by!


Now Underway...

...Spring Planters

...Basil Crop

Deco...I want the "boxy" look Kate Davies describes in the Deco pattern notes but my figure can be a bit assertive in a boxy look. Hence I've contemplated omitting decreases. I read in one Raveler's Deco notes she added stitches (across the back just prior to dividing for the armholes I assume) to make the stitch count at the chest match those at the hip. Doing that would mean I could avoid messing with the Deco pattern at the yoke and around the armhole. My dilemma is, that turns this boxy cardigan into an hourglass shape - much like me but unlike the sweater I want.

I "carried" that conundrum with me yesterday and thought it over as I tidied garden beds of their winter detritus. By the time I came back into the house I had dirty hands, a slightly sore back and resolve to move ahead with adding 8 stitches across two rows and fairly close to the sides so as to hide their presence (an unecessary worry now that they're in and all but undetectable). Now I can work the pattern as written for the fronts. I'll just have to tweek the Deco detail across the back for the revised stitch count. Hopefully its enough. If I still need room I can always tinker with placement of the snap closures.

Much like these two little pots of Basil in an afternoon sunbeam there's nothing wrong with getting what you need from somewhere other than an obvious place right?

Now Hudson and I are off  for our morning hike. Then its back to the garden. Winter leaves quite mess behind! Have a great day and thanks for dropping by! 


Pausing to Contemplate

'Worked away on Deco every chance I had over the weekend.

I've added an inch of length just below the armhole and now as I'm ready to break off and work the right front panel I'm contemplating whether to make all suggested decreases (4 stitches for 1/2") or omit some or all decreases to preserve width across the bust. I want to protect the wonderful straight "Deco" lines when the cardi is buttoned but I don't want to wreck the wonderful way the design brackets the sleeves and continues across the upper back.

I have to spend a bit of time with the pattern to understand the ramifications of doing anything other than written.  You'll be the first to know what I decide!

Thanks for dropping by!


Gaspard Fits!

By the looks of it not for long though!...

'Glad I made the 24 month size!

'So kind of his mom to forward this adorable picture. As often discussed, there's nothing better than an appreciative recipient of a hand knit is there?

At 11 weeks Benjamin is one Big Boy!
('Seems he moves a lot too!)



I am having such a nice time knitting away on Deco. After a wait of three years or so its hard to say how much of the enjoyment is just finally getting underway.

In 2010 when Kate Davies first published it I loved the details of its construction and the finer gauge woolly wool. I even decided to source the yarn from the British Blacker Designs woolen mill where Kate got hers.

Understanding the vernacular of yarn weights in Britain was at first a challenge then it became getting the same Olive colourway Kate had used.  I stalked the site watching for new batches of colour, found it, then the shipping price stopped me dead in my tracks. I set the whole idea aside.

Then my mom fell ill and if you've ever undertaken the care of someone you know the benefit of having something to chat about because you become the main source of social interaction for that person. Knitting was a great topic during that time and the search for yarn for Deco naturally fell out of it.

That year Mom didn't have the energy to even shop online for my birthday gift so she offered to buy the Deco yarn if I would source it. I bought the pattern right away which made her feel good but shortly thereafter her health declined and yarn shopping went on hold. In due course there was so much to do settling her estate that were it not for the presence of that pattern on my desk I may have dropped the idea  completely. As the anniversary of her death approached I found the Sandnesgarn Tove at Romni.

Bright Olive Colour? Check!
Wooliness? Check!
Sweater quantity in stock? 


They ordered a bag for me. The wait continued. The yarn arrived the last week of  December but I was in the midst of knitting an 8 item gift queue and then came Ptarmigan.

With Ptarmigan now around my neck the decks are cleared. Its Deco time and its living up to my expectations and proving itself worth the wait. A few hours worth of knitting has me past the waist band and onto a lovely experience of attending to bits of detail every few rows amid autopilot stocking stitch.

I'm impressed with how the usual ribbed waistband is expressed through the first (of many) applications of the "Deco Stitch" - columns of slipped knit stitches amid a reversed stocking stitch background.
The result is surprisingly lofty, dead flat and curl free - well  suited the bottom edge of this boxy cardigan.
Then stocking stitch background, edged with stair steps of the "Deco" treatment and side shaping begins. Very satisfying. 'Seems there is more to my happiness with this project than just getting started! I have to be careful though, things going well like this often triggers my "Stupid Error" reflex but for the moment its all good.

'Hope you have a good day!


"Ptarmigan Cowl" by Jared Flood

Pattern: "Ptarmigan" by Jared Flood
Source: Brooklyn Tweed Online Store
Yarn: Illimani Baby Silky Llama
Source: Lettuce Knit Toronto
Needles: 16" 4mm Addi Turbo circular
Start: April 7 Finish April 11, 2013
Modifications: None

(While the designer Jared calls this pattern "Ptarmigan", for me its just really "Nice!")
Nice Yarn!

Nice Pattern
Nice Big Charts!

'Nice Break between Sweater Projects
'Nice to Finish Something Quickly

'Nice Little Cowl for this Chilly Spring

Nice of you to drop by!


Seasons in my Head and Hands

"Nature's first green goes down to gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay..."
 I wrote a paper on Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay" in University. It haunts me to this day - especially the first line - 'such a great "lens" though which to consider many events of daily life but never more so than this early Spring wherein the imagery of the poem literally resides. No surprise that as winter's last blast (please!) melted I looked out the window Saturday morning with that line in my head.

Then, it being the weekend of Golf's Master's Tournament (Go Aussies!) where the final prize is the coveted "Green Jacket" and with a lovely Green project on the needles all ready for TV time it was hard to shake off the whole stanza through the day.

Saturday evening fairly catapulted me out of Spring into Summer as I enjoyed a performance by Measha Breugergossman and the Toronto Symphony. Her Knoxville: Summer of 1915 strongly evoking a young child's memories of summer nights in Tennessee. 

Sunday, again watching the golfers move about Augusta National among the spring blooms, with bird song in the background and the hushed voices of the announcers I mentally rebooted back to the season now upon us. How could I do otherwise while watching that and knitting glorious woolly green all afternoon and hoping the chilliness lasts until I can wear this cardi this Spring!

The yarn is fabulous! "Tove" means "felt" in Norwegian and you can feel that potential as it moves through your hands with that unmistakable woolly "stickiness" about it. 'So very glad I waited to find this kind of yarn for this knit!
I can well imagine how wearing this as an FO will be a bit of a come down from knitting it! (Uh oh, the first line of that poem's back in my head again!

'Hope you had as good a weekend as I did. Thanks for dropping by!


Stormy Outside? No Problem...

...I have a very "productive" day inside all planned out! Have a great weekend!


Knitter's Time

Yesterday I was all about finally getting into Kate Davie's "Deco" - my next sweater project but then last evening 'actually worked on something else.

Its another Jared Flood pattern,  "Ptarmigan", cast on right after Gaspard left the premises as I planned to work it and Deco concurrently. (Truth be told knitting the Deco swatch was actually jumping ahead of starting Ptarmigan.)

More than wanting to knit this lovely cowl, or wear it before next autumn I want to be seen knitting with the Illimani Silky Baby Lama. This yarn, among several other luxurious skeins, was given to me by Number One Son this past Christmas and I want to demonstrate my appreciation in terms to which he, a non knitter, can relate.

He has a typical "covet/need then purchase then use" mentality. One thing promptly following the next so the cycle can begin again. (Hence the descriptor "Consumer"; an ugly if apt description in my view, but I digress.)

Curiously Knitting Time (i.e. that sensation of the passage of time in the knitter's brain) seems free of this burden of speed in a way and quite distinct from non knitting activity -  little understood if even imaginable by non knitters.

"The Stash" is borne of this. Its not uncommon for knitting projects to take years to proceed from yarn or pattern purchase through the pairing process of the two through casting on and knitting to completion. Some knits even spend time in a blocking pile after the last stitch has been bound off.

"Deco" is, for me, such an undertaking - more on that some other time.

The Shepherd and Shearer Project is another. Non knitters listen incredulous when I speak of the premise wherein a knitter like me pays a lot then waits while
......sheep eat grass and grow fleece (non knitters think this is a joke!)
............designers on two continents imagine and express a design
.................Shearers shear
.........................A mill cleans and spins and skeins
..................................A "shop" ships
.............................................The mail carrier delivers
.........................................................A swatch is swatched
..................................................................(Slightly unrelated but nonetheless true) several seasons pass!

Until at last knitting on the sweater can begin and that is assuming the "queue" (aka current mood of the knitter) is ready and open to cast on that new project.

Non knitters don't understand this sometimes long search for perfect partnership between pattern, yarn and opportunity. Lets face it, some sweater projects "marinate" for longer than some Engagements last! So its no surprise non knitters need to see the connection between their yarn gift and completed knit in something closer to typical a typical retail cycle of time.

While recently working slavishly on Ranger under the direct oversight of its intended recipient, I sensed impatience tinged with disbelief at how long the thing was taking and it was the size of a small football field!

So bottom line on Ptarmigan I want to "speak" to non knitting Number One Son in the Buy-then-Use language he understands so I'm stitching on Ptarmigan to have something to show him by the weekend when he next comes home.

Deco will wait a wee bit longer - I know YOU all understand!

Thanks for dropping by!


Will Wonders Never Cease!

 Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a swatch!
A washed and blocked swatch!
A swatch that includes the stitches particular to the knit aaaaand perhaps fanciest of all... a swatch with three garter stitches amid the stockinette to denote the section worked on 3mm needles!(For future reference!)
I feel like a grown up knitter I do!

Now with stitch and row gauge nailed I can cast on with confidence. I must remember though that as invaluable as good swatching might be its not kryptonite. It won't protect the project from oversights or, as is commonly the case with me -  failing to pay attention.

Ah the beginnings of a sweater project - so blissful - especially with a swatch! 


"Pull Gaspard" by Christine Rouville FO

Pattern: "Pull Gaspard" by Christine Rouville
Source: Download from Christine Rouville Ravelry Store
Size: 24 months
Yarn: 4 Balls Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Source: Passionknit Toronto
Colour: 69 Lot:340027
Start:March 16 Finish: April 4, 2013
Modifications: None

I loved this pattern from the moment I saw it on Ravelry, and once the English version was released and I got my hands on it, the pattern itself did not disappoint! So many thoughtful little details on this clever knit. Like the little shirt tail openings at the side hem...

This little pullover is worked from the bottom of the front, up and over the shoulders, pausing briefly to work the adorable sailoresque collar, then down to the back hem...
I think the combination of garter and stockinette strikes a great balance of classic and and modern for boy or girl that suits a gift for someone of whom I have little knowledge and whose baby I have never (or likely will ever) see. I can imagine making this for a yet-to-be-born baby of unknown gender in grey or how about  the wee tiny infant size in white!

But getting back to this knit...sleeves are picked up from the shaped arm scythe and incorporate short rows at the tops of the sleeves (rarities in my experience of patterns for baby!)

Next you're on to the super fun front pocket where stitches are picked up from one side, across the bottom and then up the other side. After that you knit back and forth working the handsome mitered effect at the turns until its time to decrease up towards the neck for a 3 needle bind off at the collar.

The pattern thoughtfully incorporates a lot of picking up of stitches so that the only sewn finishing is joining the back collar to the sweater back and the short little side and underarm seams - quick and easy after blocking. Still it doesn't look as though its knit in one piece at all!

I did struggle with the double row of crochet edging that rims and joins for strength and stability the pocket and collar. It took many tries to get a neatish and almost consistent line along the bobbly edge where ever the decreases are worked. If I make this again I'll try moving the decreases in from the edge a stitch to avoid that problem.

Love this Debbie Bliss yarn for baby knits - great colours and a beautiful, soft, machine washable fabric! With the label attached...

 ...and a bit of pretty ribbon its ready to go! 

Thanks so much for dropping by!


"Ranger" by Jared Flood FO

 Pattern: "Ranger" by Jared Flood
Source: BT Fall '11
Yarn: 8 Skeins Diamond Galway Heather
Colour: 620 Lot: 05533
Source: Romni Wools
Needles: 7mm 6.5mm 6mm 5.5mm
Size: 47" (4"positive ease as recommended in pattern)
Start: January 8 Finish: March 16, 2013
Modifications: Lengthened Sleeves 1.5" (Bad Idea!)

This photo pretty captures the great features of this pattern. 
  • Lovely stitch - a slipped rib kind of effect.
  • Nice orderly decreases either side of a handsome 4 stitch welt knit in sock heel stitch.
  • Short row shaping across the back that is essentially undetectable.
  • A cozy stand up 2x2 ribbed collar knit on four consecutively smaller sets of needles. (I like this size of rib for a large man's sweater - the scale seems quite appropriate.)
  • Great fit across the upper portion of the sweater 

The knitted fabric is soft and drapey making a garment that's easy to wear and very warm.
Of course there's no going wrong (fit wise) with a yoke that eliminates the need for shoulder seams...
Except that without the reinforcement seams would provide both across the shoulders and down the sides a shocking amount of stretching has transpired... the length seems almost alive! The sweater''s received significant wear "couch surfing" over the last three weekends and more than a few evenings in between. As you can see below its become wrinkled down the back and sitting on it has stretched it as well.
The excessive sleeve length is all my fault though - 'thought I'd be clever and lengthen them to match another much worn sweater. The amount I added is very close to the amount they're too long.

Recognizing all this and appreciating the features of the pattern there's a good chance I'll try this one again in more of a workhorse yarn like Briggs and Little and probably without planning for so much positive ease (4" on this knit). If I do I'll work less length between hem and yoke to avoid the "seating" stretch this one has suffered.

I'm very happy with the buttons - a pressed leather in reddish brown and a classic style.
I sewed them on in actual position with the sweater laid flat rather than simply using markers and I'm quite pleased with the accuracy of how they line up beside the 1 row button holes (a la EZ).
Bottom line on this one - My Beloved has worn it a lot already and even if he tires of its increasingly sloppy size there's someone else who loves the idea of a great big cozy, over sized, blanket of a cardi...
Maybe they'll even fight over it! 

Thanks for dropping by!


We Had a Happy (Yummy!) Easter!

It may have been c-c-c-cold outside but the spring colours inside warmed our hearts and stomachs nonetheless!

Homemade Marzipan Eggs on Chocolate Truffle Cake

Even ingredients for things at this time of year look pretty!

Piping Hot Phyllo Spinach Pie

Creamy Warm Rice Pudding with Blood Oranges looking as good as it tasted in my late Mother In Law's China

Knitted "Bunny Nuggets" filled with Cat Nip - a hostess gift for my Sister's Kitties...

...they seemed to be "yummy" too!
Embroidered rather than  pom pom tails - didn't want them to get eaten in the catnip frenzy!

We are all super tired now!

'Hope you had a great weekend too!
Thanks for dropping by!