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!


The Babies are Coming!

First grandchildren are starting to appear on our social landscape.

A celebratory "bottle" for the new grandparents is nice but I also want to do a little knitted something for the wee one too.

And I mean "little". A gesture. Not a grand creation.  Leave that to the grand parents I think.

So over the weekend I worked up these...

Knit with remnants - Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and Rowan Baby Merino Silk for the toes, heels and cuffs. The pattern from this Debbie Bliss book.

Seems I didn't take a picture that shows their wee size - you'll have to take my word for it.

Teeny. Tiny.

Which of course doesn't reflect the amusement factor in making them.


More fun, also newly arrived at the cottage over the weekend - Darling Daughter bearing a bag of yarn and a plan to knit an Alberta vest for a friend!

Really BIG FUN!

Well, the yarn - at least trim and main colour - really big, HUGE hanks of Cascade Eco Wool.

Also really big but not fun at all - for anyone - and here I include the dog who could just feel the tension in the room - the challenge of helping her through a 1x1 rib tubular cast on. I tried to suggest something simpler but she was having none of it.

Once past those 12 hours though - not joking here - 12! - the skills learned making that one scarf I pressed her to knit back in grade 7 seem to have stayed with her. 

Freed of the pesky need to alternate knits and purls she's scooting along with lovely tension watching the Noro colours work their magic as she heads up the body in all-knit-all-the-time seamless circular knitting. (Alberta's neck and arm holes are steeked - so really no purling!)

She took it with her to work hoping to get a stripe or two done over her lunch hour!

Meanshile I'm happy to be back in the city with September-ready energy, drinking in all the new fall patterns as they come out this month.

Thanks for the welcome back comments last week and thanks for stopping by today!


What I did on My Summer Vacation

The several hundred photos I took over the summer bear out my impression we had a really great time! I'll go on about some of our adventures eventually, but today, I'll stick to knitting!

The end of June saw the conclusion of 6 months of knitting monogamy. "Elmont" and I needed some time apart. I needed some knitting fun and I managed to find quite a bit of it.

Hands down, most fun, is the project pictured below - the start of a BT "Slade" cardigan designed by Michelle Wang that I am making for My Beloved. I ordered some untreated Blue Faced Leicester from Georgian Bay Fibre in this inky colourway "Grondine Swell". 

'Much, much more to say about this later. I couldn't be happier with this one.

These are Briggs and Little "Tuffy" intended for dog walking mittens for me this coming winter. In high contrast to the purchase of the sweater yarn above, 'minimal in expense and consideration. 'Bought on a whim! Current plan - make a pair of these.

The skeins are sitting on my new mini blocking board. I can't imagine why it took me so long to put one of these together for blocking swatches without pulling a huge blocking board out for a 6" square!

The handsome fella pictured below is hemp and many hours over the summer saw me knitting then ripping then reknitting this stuff (and a slew of other lightweight cotton remnants often held triple just to keep up) on 15 mm wooden needles. I wanted the whole works to become a bag of some description and slowly but surely I am getting there.

While the summer yarn remnants sat about the cottage awaiting inclusion in the Big Bag project I was inspired one day to stitch a couple of hostess gifts to accompany locally made soap.

First a little wash cloth in soft, summery, bleached green garter stripes.

Then a rough and tough, monogrammed loofah envelope in garter stitched jute twine.

And I also knit up an FO! Another spontaneous undertaking, its "Quick Sand" by Heidi Kirrmaier in Berocco Maya's "Aqua" colourway. (Despite the reflected rosy glow in the photo below, its a cool watery blue chainette cotton with 15% alpaca.)

This became a real go-to piece to keep the sun off bare arms in the heat or the chill away on cool evenings. Several great modelled shots of it are currently "trapped" in a tablet and zipped in an email to myself from said tablet so more on this one later for sure.

I hope you had a great summer too and I hope you are as keen about the Autumn knitting season ahead as I am!

Happy September!