Just Keep Swimming

It's that time of year - the list of things to do feels longer than the time available to do them.

It's well within my power to decide not to bother. But I'm a born "botherer" so on I push,
keep my head down,  work away and in weaker moments,  think of Dory and her little song.

Meanwhile 'South America over Halloween, with our recent mild weather, has my internal calendar saying "October!" while my needles scream "Christmas!".

A gift mitten frenzy has resulted with this free pattern from Purl Soho, "Arched Gusset Mittens". 'Love how the shaping echoes the palm's natural arch.

I've used a variety of yarns/gauges and hybrids of the various sizes available in the pattern. So entertaining to see how each variation turns out while they're super quick to the finish line.

My favourites so far are the ones on top using  "Cocoon" by Rowan at a super tight gauge to cut the wind. This is a yarn I'll be revisiting for sure.

Four pairs done, a fifth underway after a wee break to work another freebie pattern - "Seathwaite" (on the left) by Kate Gagnon Osborn, again for Christmas giving and again a nice, satisfyingly quick experience exploring another yarn that's new to me - West Yorkshire Spinners Bfl. Gorgeous. (There'll be bona fide FO posts about these with all the details eventually but for the moment know that the squished looking hat is quite beautiful when on an actual head than it appears here all collapsed in a heap!)

A cream coloured, cabled cowl has been requested by Number One Son. He's using the charcoal grey one I knit up for him last Christmas a lot and thinks one in a different colour would be a great addition to his cold weather London wardrobe. We have a few hours of highway travel in the schedule this weekend I hope to fill working on that.

I'd also like to make the kid a pullover in Briggs and Little Country Roving in time to put it under the tree. I've a few ideas for it knocking around in my head, have purchased a wheel of the yarn and done some swatching.

My optimism about this one is extremely qualified - especially since he's told me he doesn't need (aka "want") a sweater. 'Thing is I want to make him one and last year he said he didn't need/(want) a cowl.

So with mild recognition of his disinterest I'll knit one My Beloved could adopt if its fully rejected by the first recipeint. Given all this, I'm prepared to ditch the whole idea if any issue of timing happens to arise.

Meanwhile big projects yet to be started, but with yarn at the ready, dot the landscape of the house. Patterns are printed and tucked in among the yarn should swatching time become available but I'll only start/continue them after Christmas.

I'm smitten with the idea of visible mending I've seen around the web/following Tom of Holland and so 'hived off some of the mending pile for that treatment.

(I'm trying to be "good" in the hopes Santa brings me a darning egg for Christmas and maybe some French darning/embroidery thread .)

Over the holidays Number One Son will be home for two weeks! I'm planning/prepping Christmas Eve, Day and Dinner for the four of us.

These adult "children" may not say so, but they like when we carry on traditions/maintain the standards they've been raised with - no less so at holiday times - so that's what I'll be aiming to do. Before that though...
  • 50 or so dog lovers (without their pooches!) will be here for an early December pot luck.
  • There's a comparatively small crowd of 19 (My Beloved's family) here for a full Christmas style dinner on Boxing Day.
  • Darling Daughter's UK pals are in town, some staying in our house from the 27th onwards.
I've been laying the ground work for all of it in recent weeks - purging, cleaning, cooking and baking food for the freezer, light redecorating, painting etc.. There are some loose ends from those projects still on the list but fewer every day.

So I "just keep swimming" (and knitting!). Thanks for dropping by!



The essence of travel - a small knitting project on an airplane seat!
'Decided last minute to join My Beloved on a business trip to Buenos Aires. We've been back a few days but no jet lag as the 13 1/2 hour flight is a straight shot due south making the time difference only an hour!

Buenos Aires held many unexpected surprises for me - I may have to post more on that later but first, as a knitter, the trip was worth the disruption to the days preceding and following it - even for a reluctant traveller/nervous flyer like me.

On a brief layover in Santiago Chile, amid a stunning mountain backdrop, we stretched our legs after our first overnight flight and browsed shops featuring gorgeous Chilean crafts.

Among the treasures were inspiring hand knits in undyed local wool...

Then it was on to Buenos Aires where there is a full on yarn district! All the city's yarn shops, almost a dozen of them, are clustered along three city blocks or so in the neighbourhood of Palermo.

Many of the shops are filled with bright/lurid colours of largely acrylic yarn as well as super shiney "Vegetable Silk" which I assume is also some kind of synthetic.

These stores look like candy or toy stores do here at home and probably are designed to appeal to children as knitting and crochet is part of the elementary school curriculum in Argentina.

In other words 'safe to assume everyone you pass on the street in BA knows how to knit and crochet. How amazing is that?

Sadly, from a male tour guide who took offence at the very suggestion, I was informed that grown men in Argentina don't knit or crochet. He assured me many women do so throughout their lives but it's strictly a domestic activity, never undertaken in polite public society. I got the impression its something they regard as the equivalent of ironing.

The thing is, this kind of matched my impression of the local population. BA has a surprisingly serious vibe - none of the raucous Latin joie de vivre I was expecting - unless of course one of their teams wins a game somewhere, as they did with the Rugby World Championships while we were there. Then its late night fireworks above crowded city squares. These filled with cheering masses who happily stream along side streets, often with sleepy children in tow to collect in the huge crowds. All the while lines of shield carrying riot police surround buildings and monuments to protect them and their contents.

In the morning though, its right back to a more quiet civic demeanour they self describe as "noble".

In keeping with this is a refreshingly meagre sense of consumerism across the urban landscape with yarn stores being no exception. They are places where one buys yarn and only yarn - except maybe the odd bikini???!?

Anyway yarn stores don't seem to offer classes, patterns, books or even notions. There are no chairs or couches and its obvious the expectation among the largely male "yarn consultants" that stand behind deli-like counters with the yarn organized on shelves behind them is that the shopper knows what she is doing, what she is looking for and how she will use what she buys.

I had yet to understand these nuances of Buenos Aires yarn commerce when I started my giddy tour armed with a simplistic notion of trying to get a deal on South American brands like Malabrigo or Manos del Uruguay and accompanied by the saint of a man who secretly packed an empty leather valise in his suitcase to accommodate potential yarn purchases en route home.

Here we are, reflected in the first shop we came upon having just arrived in the "District". I'm madly snapping pictures while he passes the time doing email.
I quickly learned Manos and Malabrigo were only stocked in one shop and when I found that store, the brands were no bargain and only a couple of skeins of each to be had so I put that notion aside, opened my mind to the possibilities and discovered in Buenos Aries...

...They love T-shirt yarn.

Me, not so much, I passed on this stuff. (See the bright colours on the shelves in the background?)

...Knitting/Crochet seems to be about fashion not for the sake of the crafts themselves. It isn't uncommon to see mannequins styled with complete outfits of which the hand made item is but one of the garments on display.

My mum favoured crochet so I grew up with it. Nonetheless its never "spoken to me before. In BA, surrounded by great uses of it like this it really started to call to me.
...They do love their synthetics - not surprising I guess - its not like they need the warmth of wool very often!

The acrylic and "Vegetable Silk " are the only branded yarns I saw.  I bet the school kids love these yarns (and probably also bikinis?) 

...The yarn stores that look styled for grown ups, where the natural fibre yarns are to be had, are subdued places with soft, muted colours, thoughtful displays and without a bikini in sight.

...Mohair is big but often combined with acrylic. I was eager to jump on the mohair bandwagon and was enchanted with the colours of the 30/30/30 Mohair/Wool/Acrylic yarn below...

However lovely it looked in the skein, a knitted sample demonstrated you could feel the 30% Acrylic to a degree I knew would bother me so I very sadly left this stuff behind.

You see you don't get to handle the skeins, which are all priced by the kilo, and remember, devoid of labels! If you are curious about it, why there, in the middle of the shop is a table heaped with big knitted/crocheted swatches. Only the consultants touch the yarn in the skeins, its out of shoppers' potentially grimy hands on those tidy shelves behind the counters around the perimeter of the store.

I must say though, considering yarn via swatches in varying shades of white and grey is pretty effective in helping you select something based primarily on what a yarn can do, how it drapes, its heft or delicacy etc.

Once you have a swatch in your hands you like, your male yarn consultant piles skeins onto the big shiny scales just like when you order deli meats at the butcher shop. They don't want shoppers pawing yarn for sale with potentially grimy hands I guess.

You have no idea about yardage, no two skeins are the same length. There are no dye lots, colour names or numbers, recommendations for gauge, needle size or washing instructions because, remember, no labels! You need to recognize what you are looking at, know what to do with it and how much to buy. They didn't really seem prepared to help you with that kind of information.

(Just like you wouldn't walk up the counter where they sell the cold cuts, point at a salami and ask how you might serve that or for lessons on how to slice it or make a sandwich with it.)

So there I was, 20 minutes left to make some decisions, surrounded by yarn, My Beloved patiently doing emails and my yarn buying experience rendered null and void for tackling the task before me of filling that empty valise.

It took a few minutes for this prospect to stop being terrifying, but then, I have to say, I felt kind of empowered. I took a deep breath, adjusted my mental point of view and looked about for some yarn to grab my attention and tell me what it wanted to become back here at home.

Can you guess what screamed out to me as I approached this shop window?

Yup, the creamy basket of undyed, locally grown, hand spun crazy fabulousness in the bottom left corner...

I marched into the shop, located the swatch, found the consultant with the best English and bought 1.5 glorious kilos, (about 3.3 pounds) of that stuff for $67.00 Canadian.

Then from the same shop - 75 grams of undyed wool roving, silky with lanolin for under $3.00 - my plan, to tuck this BA souvenir secretly into the lining of mittens - ironic for a sub-equatorial souvenir don't you think?

This was followed shortly thereafter in another store by a purchase of 2 kilos of bulky Patagonian cotton for just over $40.00.

Both of these larger treasures told me, in no uncertain terms they desired to become glorious throws - the wool one for home, the cotton for the cottage.

Next we joined some friends for coffee in an outdoor cafe on the grounds of a former Mansion turned Decorative Arts Museum.

Al fresco Espresso and Candied Orange Peel
BA is a most civilized place - everyone knows how to knit and no one drinks coffee from paper cups! 'Hard to say if I'll ever go back but most certainly I am glad I chose to make the trip this time!


A Good Night at the Toronto Knitter's Guild

'Have to say The TKG, (formerly DKC) meeting last night felt fresh and new, positive and fun.

Transitional struggles seem to have settled and there were many bright, young faces in the crowd.

As I stood in line to pick up my membership card (purchased on line via Pay Pal no less!) two young women behind me were discussing buying their memberships after having enjoyed the "Try before you Buy" program of free meetings for non members at the start of the year, I overheard one of them say
"...well I'm going to join because everyone here seems really nice and helpful too..."
I wanted to turn and point out how, beyond getting to know other knitters via the Guild,  the membership of $50.00 more than pays for itself via discounts offered at GTA LYS's when you present the card. Which ones? they may have asked. I would have said "they are all shown on a handy chart on the new Guild website HERE!"

Meanwhile Innes Hall, where meetings are held, has been fully renovated by the University and its just fantastic. From a spacious seat in the back row against a side wall, I could clearly see details on the amazing knits held up during "Show and Tell", enjoyed Kate Atherly's "Math for Knitting" (the power point presentation was run from the control booth without a hitch) and I even had enough light to see my own knitting as I listened.

I also see from the website the program calendar for the year has been finessed. The December meeting will be more of a social while the Work of Our Hands Fashion Show is moving to February which I think, will encourage more knitters to submit pieces because they won't be having to do so during the crazy weeks prior to the Holidays.

All that plus the Jays pulled off another win yesterday despite the "beating" they took the night before and I easily made it home in time for the news to learn that apparently the world thinks our new Prime Minister is "Hot".

Quite a night. Thanks for dropping by today!


Lucky Us!

This is our new Prime Minister, some years ago, long before he entered politics eulogizing his father, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

Past the cute story at the beginning he speaks of the passion and respect for Canada and Canadians he learned at his father's knee.

Like I said, Lucky Us!

(Things aren't so swell on the Blue Jays front after last night - still crossing fingers for them in the coming hours!)


A Big Day

'Got Word
The Vest
 Fits Perfectly!
(No photo evidence yet but received a text from Darling Daughter in Yorkshire with 5 thumbs up - what a relief!)


Most Importantly - If you're Canadian - please, please, please, if you haven't already done so, make sure you vote today!

Btw, Steven Harper's own lawyer in the PMO, Benjamin Perrin, said yesterday,  he felt no other choice but to abandon his lifelong Conservative vote because... 

"based on what (he's) personally seen and experienced...the current government has lost its moral authority to govern."

I don't know what's more telling, that statement or the fact Mr. Harper spent time in these last crucial days before the election here in Toronto with Rob Ford!

...just sayin'.


Darling Daughter's First Knit FO

Its done!

'Posting this as "Coach" rather than knitter...
This baby will be leaving on a jet plane. 'Must admit I'll likely miss it when its gone!

Pattern: Alberta by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool and Noro
Needles: 5mm
Start: September 5 Finish: October 5, 2015
Mods: None

The beginner's 1x1 rib was helped immensely by threading blocking wires under each knit column/over each purl ditch during blocking.
The knitting is all hers but Darling Daughter insists coaching made a big difference in making this FO happen quickly and pretty painlessly too because basic knitting is really quite simple and I pointed her towards a pattern than was almost exclusively knitting in a straight line and a yarn that was forgiving of dropped stitches.

She did a great job carrying yarn up at the start of round - not a pucker or loose length in sight!

DD didn't have to waste time fixing things or ripping back because I was there to quickly right wrongs/clarify written instructions and abbreviations.
Double Crochet Steek Reinforcement makes a gorgeous finished edge inside.
Just a few shaping rounds in the whole vest makes this a great pattern for a beginner

She listened when I encouraged her to invest in good quality materials and take care finishing and blocking. These things, are not evident to a new knitter but make such a difference to the finished product and so, I assume, to the satisfaction with the whole experience.

I must say as I look at the vest this morning I'm struck by how beautifully the yarns work together post blocking. The fabric has a nice, solid drape to it. It feels surprisingly rich rather than fluffy and light after its bath. Quite masculine I think. How apt.

Now, all that remains is a cross-Atlantic flight, a few days in Amsterdam followed by a quick stop in London before DD hops a train to Yorkshire to finally reciprocate the lovely bookends she received last spring. Only THEN we will find out if it fits!!!!!

Nightmare Tubular Cast On (turned out quite well after a rocky start - way too challenging for a first timer!)
Speaking of "Fit" we arrived at the size DD knit by examining photos of the young recipient sitting in chairs at our cottage that we could actually measure for scale. Calculations were done from there. I've told her if the thing is a bit too short/long/tight/loose to note the issues with a tape measure and bring it back for re-blocking. No doubt there's lots of room for tweeking the fit with another dip in Eucalan and water.

If that happens Number One Son will be home for Christmas and can take it back to the UK with him at the New Year. We won't be putting this one in the mail if I can help it - can you imagine the heartbreak if it went missing?

So another knitting adventure comes to a close. Only time will tell if Darling Daughter ever picks up yarn and needles again but I feel sure if she wants to she will do so with confidence and more than a bit of experience under her belt.

As for me, I'm taking off my "Coaching Hat" so the knitter in me can consider an "Alberta" for my own project basket!


So Many Topics - So Little Time

As the sky lightens on our third cool autumn day of the season I can see the leaves on our huge backyard maple tree are beginning to change. Its like October arrived and flipped the "Autumn Switch" setting this knitter's brain into overdrive.

Wish I could capture the steam coming off this Cider Laced Almond, Ginger Oatmeal with currants - Its almost to pretty to eat!

No wonder. Atop the shift in weather this week I've... 
  • worn wool
  • talked wool
  • shopped wool
  • bought wool
  • overseen the cutting of steeks
  • basked in the fun of watching Darling Daughter finish her first knitted garment
  • read about Wool Week festivities in Britain - especially Shetland, wished I could go and dreamt of planning to someday soon.
  • tidied up the final details on My Beloved's Bfl Cardigan "Slade" with hands down the most beautiful yarn I have ever worked with.
So, so much more to say on this later!

Meanwhile I'm also mentally racing around the ideas of

  • Slow Fashion October
  • Knitting for my autumn wardrobe
  • Knitting for my winter wardrobe
  • Christmas Gift Knitting.
  • What Darling Daughter might best knit next (assuming she will want another project after successfully delivering her surprise gift when she's in the U.K. later this month.)
See what I mean? Bursting. But first things first.

A few deep breaths then report on my little mid week yarn shopping adventure...

Our first stop Wednesday was Knit-O-Matic in a shiny new larger location just up the street from the original tiny shop. Its now at least twice the size of the first, lots of natural light, high ceilings and mirrors to check out colours against the skin. There's room to sit or set something down and everything's painted white so one can focus on the yarn. (Rest assured the resident Love Bird is still there - so fun - I love stores with animals hanging about!)

There's parking on the nearest side street and the street car line that stops at the door is one that offers 2 hour on and off privileges.

The best thing about the shop, though, is the owner. One of those unflappable people - matter of fact without being indifferent, present, attentive, very knowledgeable and let us explore and discover on our own without interruption yet there to help as soon as we needed anything.

I love that she warned us away from some yarns we were considering as she felt we'd be disappointed with the results given what we were hoping to achieve. She was even able to demonstrate how inappropriate they might be versus a better choice with well labelled swatches.

'Been searching for a sweater quantity of this ever since talking with Viola at the Frolic in April - now finally I have it!

My credit card came out while I was there (more on that later - 'just trying to stay focused here today). My Aunt, who was along with me, left with a few ideas to mull around until next time and there will be a "next time" quite soon because the whole experience there left us feeling calm, capable and grounded where so often one emerges from yarn stores just feeling frazzled and unsure.

Second stop, 10 minutes drive south, was the new location of Ewe Knit.

The huge shop, previously a Credit Union office, is best described as GORGEOUS. It's deep and wide with lower ceilings than in their original location (a Victorian row house). Set up and styled to be of the moment with raw wood and painted black trim punctuated with girly chandeliers and well placed embellished antiques. Its a polished and compelling display of the tactile and visual possibilities of knitting and needlework stocked with goods that reminded me of the inventory at Purl Soho in Manhattan.

The lighting in the shop is amazing. There's natural light through the south facing windows but the ambient lighting throughout is low, punctuated by halogen spotlit columns of pure light that allow the consideration of a colour or yarn with focus and clarity as the surrounding visual distractions fade into the darker background.

One of the things I've always loved about Eweknit are the knitted sample garments on display and often featured on the their website. In the new shop they take pride of place, carefully laid out in distinct colour groups on big wide tables greeting you with delicious possibilities as you enter.

Now my Aunt loves gleaning project ideas from yarn store samples she can see, feel and try on and within moments of walking through the door she had the materials for a lovely store-designed cowl in Cascade Eco Duo "Zebra". It looks very graphic in the skein and sounds contrasty in the name too but it knits up visually softer than the yarn appears with the hard-to-believe-this-stuff-grew-on-an-animal softness that only Alpaca can deliver.

(Given my Aunt's knitting style I bet that cowl is ready for wearing before the weekend's out.)

Of course the glamourous and effusive owner Claudia was there, as ever seeming more hostess than shopkeeper and so making you feel like you could well spend the day there and be welcome to do so too. There are also two other staff  able to help with the details of selection and purchase.

Its hard to say whether I was so well satisfied with our almost contemplative time in Knit-O-Matic and my purchases there that the details of the Eweknit yarn were lost on me this visit but I ended up walking out with a yard of cotton in an autumn print that will soon become a cushion cover either here or at the cottage.

Goodness but we had fun, well suited to the freshly brisk weather tempered by a still quite warm sun. If you're local to Toronto I'd highly recommend checking out either (or, better still, both) shops.

If further afield, and say, shopping with American dollars, why not take a trip up here and get a real bang for your yarn shopping buck? These two stores are only a couple of the great LYS's Toronto knitters enjoy and if you were coming from somewhere really warm (like Texas or something ;) ) I can assure you the cool fall air and changing leaves on the trees is a compelling context indeed to fuel your knitting imagination!

Okay. I'm cutting myself off there! Obviously lots more to post about next week!

We are heading north for a cool Autumnal weekend with lots of time by the fireside indoors and also maybe outside too! I'll leave Darling Daughter to tidy up loose ends on the vest and be back Sunday afternoon to help her block it.

Happy First Week of Autumn everybody! Thanks for dropping by!


Cutting Happened

Only one armhole - but it went perfectly.

(Heading off this morning for my two-stop-yarn-shop survey but I'm rushing to get this up before I leave because I thought you'd want to know.)

Rather than do all the cutting at once she worked the ribbed edging to the point of casting off, then put it on a string so she could see just what she had done. After that it was time to stop for the night.

This project needs to be in a suitcase en route to its recipient in England next Friday. There isn't time for errors/reworking and with her limited experience fatigue could lead to disaster. I've told her measured calm and working only when she has the focus and energy to do so will help immensely in avoiding trouble and she's been very accepting of that advice.

Its interesting when I suggest she just stop and leave it or encourage her to complete an element before setting it down. Her blissful freedom of passion for the process makes her quite open to doing whatever that process demands. There's no burning urge to just "do one more stripe". She's not unreasonably eager to "see how it looks with everything cut open" like I would be.

As in most aspects of her personality this girl is 180 degrees different from her mother. I'm compelled by the knitting process so much I must force myself to focus on the product whereas this "knitting thing" is simply a means to an end for her.

The vest is a reciprocation for a set of almost magical bookends made with her initials for her last spring. (She is a lifelong avid reader so bookends are a particularly fitting gift.)

The sliding "ends" are beautifully and exactingly carved in one piece, their curved footings wrapping the wooden base prior assembly. They slide side to side yet at the same time can hold books or magazines in place.

Clever and beautiful.

Hence you can see how the bookends set the bar pretty high for this vest but I've also talked with her about "picking her battles" and recognizing absolute perfection is not a realistic goal here. Its something knitters need to come to terms with at some point right?

Sleeve steek #2 is on the schedule for tonight.

Before that I'll be exploring yarn shops and with the temperature dropping significantly overnight I'll be able to wear a wool sweater to do it! Oh my goodness what an embarrassment of knitting riches today!

I'm off!


All Ready to Cut!

Just look how nicely the double crochet steek reinforcement technique (from Kate Davie's blog) looks on Darling Daughter's Alberta Vest!

How fun that she used three different colours to do it!

I can't think about steeks without remembering when the Sheriff of Knittingham came to speak at the DKC and as she was speaking she strode over to a magnificent stranded sweater displayed on a dress form and just started cutting unreinforced steeks and how I, along with the 100-odd other knitters in the room, all gasped as one.

I'd told that tale around the dinner table here at home the next night and none of them, Darling Daughter included, really "got" what the gasping was about.

Now that DD is getting ready to cut her own knitting though, I revisited the story with her last night and boy I got a reaction out of her this time!

Tonight, we will attempt to channel the Sheriff and cut - reinforcements in place but none the less - CUT!

Wish us luck Lorrain!


Bundles of Fun

Have you tried out the "Bundle" feature in Favourites on Ravelry?

I worked with it over the weekend to sort out what I might want to knit for my Autumn wardrobe (here is the page with my new new little bundles - you can click on the Autumn 15 one to see what I've put in there so far.)

I am using it to help me separate the things I'd like to knit from the things I need in my closet and to sort out what I might be able to actually accomplish from what I'd just love to knit.

I need to do this because, in my closet ,there's an excess of cardigans and over sized pullovers where I'd like to be finding some neatly fitting crew neck sweaters yet while I see the disconnect in that picture as I get dressed, my awareness of it evaporates as soon as I am falling in love with knitting patterns ("fav"-ing cardis hand over fist).

The Bundling thing facilitates comments and lets me see them and a variety of images/colours/silhouettes on a group of patterns taken from among my favourites - all at one time.

Even better, editing them out of the bundle doesn't remove them from my larger collection of favourites so I can revisit them, save the idea for later or even add them back into the Bundle.

I particularly like being able to feature any single image of a favourite to better illustrate why I've chosen it. If I like this sleeve or that colour combination, for example,  I choose that image to be foremost on that bundled favourite.

In the notes beneath each image I also highlighted possible remnants I'd like to use and/or the modifications I would make.

This morning then, my "Autumn '15" Bundle shows me a variety of knitted pieces that could all work together in the coming months if I work them up as noted.

What a fantastic tool to search the yarn I have on hand/shop for yarn in the coming weeks and even to decide what next to cast on rather than just chronologically working through my queue as I have in the past.


(Especially nice because P.S. in knitting terms, Christmas isn't that far off! 'Gives me an idea for another Bundle!)

Oh and also nice you dropped by today!


What's Next?

As every knitter knows, nothing like finishing one thing up to start us thinking about what's next.

This morning I got up early to finish casting off the neck band for Slade. 50,  200-stitch rows in 2x2 rib!

The sweater is now receiving a stern blocking to pull that ribbing out to its full 5.5' length. A bit of seaming and sewing on three buttons will have it wearable.

A hair over 3 weeks to knit this up. Far and away my fastest finish ever on a sweater for my 6'1" , Size 42 tall Beloved and I owe the quick finish, not to knitting but to exercise.

Yup, last spring I met with a personal trainer we use from time to time to see about addressing the knitting-related pain I've been living with and knitting in for the better part of 2 years. I had to. It was getting worse with every project.

(Funny, when I was younger, of course fitness was about looking good, then with the arrival of kids I needed energy to keep up. Now I want to be able to knit for long periods of time - my goodness how motivation changes over time!)

Of course its brutal undertaking any new exercise program and the effort I put into just getting started over the summer was significant but now I'm on my way, feeling better and as long as I keep it up and don't push too hard knitting I am doing so quite comfortably for the first time in a long while.

Hence I really am ready for sorting out what to work on next!

So I've spent a bit of time on Ravelry tidying up my queue and looking at my project page to sort out what to swatch for (BT's "Truss" is currently in the lead) and what could stand finishing among my little pile of WIP's.

Then my mind started shifting naturally to shopping. A few years ago I made a point of doing the rounds of Toronto's LYS's. I hit Passionknit, Knit O Matic, The Purple Purl, Americo, Romni Wools (the now defunct) Naked Sheep, and the newest kid on the block Eweknit. That's not all of the shops in the city nor is it taking into consideration the shops in the outer suburbs and the nearby countryside. When you factor in the Guild's Frolic on top of it all its no wonder I haven't any wanderlust about looking for yarn.

So its time to do another tour round the local shops to see what's on offer.

Two Toronto yarn stores moved to bigger premises in recent weeks and I think I'll start my survey with them. Knit-O-Matic and Eweknit are not too far from one another so I think I'll undertake a single trip to check both of them out.

To my eye these shops boast the best websites of the yarn stores in the city - 'such an advantage to see what they have before making the trek to check them out in person.

(Btw if I was shopping online with American Dollars I'd be visiting their sites and prices after the exchange rate has been factored in - there might be some deals to be had!)

I'm also quite excited about all the breed-specific yarns on offer in the UK. While I won't be visiting any shops over there in the immediate future, Darling Daughter is prepping for another trip there next month and of course Number One Son is still resident there and will be looking for Christmas gift suggestions before he comes home briefly at Christmas.

So I'm not sure exactly what's next but I feel pretty confident its going to be good!


Weekend Progress

I had two knitting projects on the go over the weekend...mine and the new knitter's...

I can report good progress made on both!

With close oversight, Darling Daughter, sailed through the various maneuvers of the final collar decreases and short row shoulder shaping on Alberta yielding the foxy-looking thing above all ready for steeking.

(Probably using the technique outlined in Kate Davie's Double Crochet tutorial here.)

As the rounds got shorter she also took to cutting up the Noro to ensure each stripe appeared similar to those in the longer rounds below. I think she did a really nice job with that.

As for Slade, I'm now just passing the horizontal button holes on the neckband, dipping into the 6th of 7 skeins to finish the final 2 1/4" of ribbing yet to go..  

Like I said, I'll be sorry to see this yarn off my needles.  Good thing I'm going to have well over 300 yards of yarn left once I'm done!


Worthwhile Extravagance

While Guacamole-fest preparing to do a little home dying was fun, the most exciting yarn adventure of the summer was selecting, ordering, picking up and knitting a batch of hand dyed, untreated Blue Faced Leicester from Georgian Bay Fibre Co. ...
  • My order was dyed with my project in mind after I had a chance to talk with the dyer Carla herself at the farmer's market in town near the cottage.
  • When I picked it up a week later it was beautifully packaged, with a post card tucked inside outlining and illustrating the inky blue colour way's inspiration - the stormy waters of Georgian Bay, in whose waves I played endlessly as a child.
  • Impossibly gorgeous, heavy, rich and glossy yarn put up in beefy 200 yard skeins.
  • All this and I'm supporting a new local business and a keen young entrepreneur.
Extravagant yarn purchases are not my usual practice. I recently realized that between shopping carefully at LYS's and the Guild Frolic, re-knitting yarn from hand knits I no longer wear, renovating old pieces and using remnant yarn over the last couple of years, I've spent, an average of $30.00 per sweater.

Now those knits were in the wake of heavily investing in the Shepherd and Shearer program but that was so enjoyable, felt so good, yielded blissful knitting and an heirloom quality FO My Beloved wears constantly in the winter.

So jumping in with both feet to invest in something special again seemed reasonable enough and
boy this yarn is special.

As with The Shepherd and Shearer, every stitch has been laden with pleasure at the features of this wonderfully aromatic yarn and how they're playing out into the garment. Similarly too, despite being keen to see My Beloved wearing it, I'm sorry to see the end of this project's knitting phase.

All the pieces are currently blocking under a fan in the hopes they'll dry quickly. I'd like to take them to the cottage tonight, seam them tomorrow and get going on the button band/collar.

Its about 200 stitches around, 2x2 rib for 6" all while wrestling the entirety of the garment as I go. Not my favourite kind of knitting but I'll have the wonder of the yarn for distraction as well as tracking/helping Darling Daughter with her project.

In 10 days of knitting she's made it to the point where shaping for the neck begins, having established steeks for the armholes 4" earlier. By tomorrow she'll be undertaking her first attempt at a few short rows and doing a bit more shaping and then it'll be on to securing and cutting the steeks!

All kinds of knitting fun to look forward to this weekend. Hope you have a great one too!


As for Knitting...

Last time I went on about changing my approach to shopping for food/how it enhanced our eating over the summer.

'Have to say the whole thing also affected my yarn shopping. Or maybe, in this one instance the yarn shopping influenced some menu choices...

I'd read an article in June (this one) about making soft pink yarn using a dye made from chopped Avocado pits and may have started feeding Avocados to my family at rates previously un-imagined around here.

With a growing pit collection in freezers both up north and at home I then had to hunt down some yarn still in a natural, undyed, untreated state right?

At one open-air-market-in-a-park we visited a few times I explored "Farm Yarn", which I understand, refers to yarn that comes from whatever variety of sheep a shepherd of a small flock might keep - often with fleeces of multiple breeds mixed together.

I bought a hank of creamy, natural worsted to dye and another in a sheep-coloured grey-brown I hope will go with the home dyed pink in my future.

So, I've had both an opportunity to perfect my Guacamole recipe and undertake a yarny adventure that included chatting with a local Shepherd. Meanwhile I dream of softly rose coloured yarn emerging from a stock  dye pot in my very own kitchen.

Not the kind of yarn sourcing I typically undertake at an LYS!

The Georgian Bay Fibre Co. Bfl yarn I'm currently knitting into Slade for My Beloved was another fun purchase outside of my usual habit but I'll save that story for another day.

Its the first meeting of the Season for the Toronto Knitter's Guild tonight so I'd better scoot!

Thanks for dropping by eh!

P.S. Tonight's TKG meeting is a "Free Trial" meeting for people who are interested but aren't sure they want to become members just yet so its a great night to come and see what its all about!


Changing it Up

I just read Brenda's post about how she's changing her use of /approach to her blogging.

I feel like I am changing up my approach to just about everything these days too. Over the summer, our food, where I buy it, what I pick up and then what I prepare and serve underwent major renovation after we were in Boston over the 4th of July weekend and I visited a Farmer's Market in Copely Square. Right then and there I resolved to make a point of seeking out such markets back here at home.

So that's what we did. In fact I swore off even entering Grocery Stores for the duration of the summer.

Of course farm stands, open air markets and old-time butcher shops have always been around and we do use them but this was different. I was determined to avoid any and all air conditioned big chain grocery stores. Period.

It was harder than I thought. It took more stops to get the job done when we went to town but it was so much more pleasant and relaxed.

Like buying peas in the shell rather than in the big frozen bag...

Fresh bread is hard to come by when you have to take a boat to your car before driving to town but when I make it at the cottage, that issue completely disappears and I barely have to leave my knitting to do it.

No Bread Maker - that's my covered bowl for rising dough set in the warm air atop a bookcase.

In fact I also made burger and sandwich buns as well as crackers, croutons and yogurt - all things I'd usually pick up at the grocery store. Rising bread and culturing yogurt are easy in the warm confines of the AC-free cottage and most of the effort is done by the yeast and the live yogurt cultures leaving me free to hang out as I please.

Home made yogurt, local blueberries and organic chia seeds - not blueberry yogurt
I did frequent an impossibly well stocked health food shop in town and a vintage family grocery store that sits on the edge of a nearby lake.

Without being able to access our usual brands of prepared food I had to purchase things I wouldn't otherwise have considered which in turn lead to preparing things in new ways...

Summer linguine with fresh orange juice reduction, Nova Scotia scallops, yellow peppers and citrus marinated avacado instead of the usual Marinara Spaghetti and Cesear Salad.
Breakfast! Bacon Foccacia, Fresh Banana Bread and Grapes with Coffee on the Dock as a change from toast/cereal etc. served in the cottage.

At "Cocktail Hour", the taco chips/salsa, cheese and crackers on this day, gave way to organic hummus, local heirloom tomatoes, home baked sour dough toasts and fresh Guacamole.

Grilled Shrimp over Heirloom lettuce/sunflower sprout toss with oranges and jasmine rice - 'loving the hot atop the cool greens instead of beside cooked ones.

Fresh Corn Soup (using boiled cobs to thicken the broth) with Field ripened tomato sandwiches on Grill-toasted homemade peasant bread.
Of course we did "do" the bbq steak/burger thing as well, but rarely and we didn't miss it a bit. Every day I just looked at what I had and dove into making something to use it. It was fun, novel and delicious!

It got me thinking about changing how I shop for more than just food and as you can imagine, it wasn't long before the question of yarn came to mind.

Maybe I'll save that for tomorrow! Thanks for dropping by today!