Saturday, 24 October 2015

Conference Knitting

This week has been busy and full with little time to complete any projects.  I am off tomorrow to Toronto for a conference on Monday and Tuesday.

Years ago I found that I got more out of conferences and courses if I knit through them.  As long as the pattern did not require concentration on my part, if my hands were busy, I stayed awake and learned what I needed to from the course or the papers presented.  If the knitting was not enough to hold my concentration and keep my eyes from closing, I could stab myself with the needles.

There was one other advantage.  Even in a crowded room, I had lots of personal space.  No one wanted to sit next to the crazy lady knitting away.

This is just a round about way of saying I have been choosing a project for two lovely conference days of knitting.  I chose to start the Unisex Adult: Raglan Sleeve Jacket from Patons Canadiana Back to Basics. 

This sweater will be for my brother.  I measured him up at Thanksgiving.  He chose the pattern and the yarn from my stash.  He wanted a very basic sweater.  His choice suited me as well.  The sweater in the Back to Basics booklet has a zipper.  Neither of us wanted a zipper but this is the same pattern in an older booklet called Canadiana Raglans by Beehive which is a button front cardigan.  The trick is that the older booklet does not have the larger size that I need.  But I have both booklets and see no difficulty in making this sweater with buttons.

The colour of this yarn is somewhere between grey and brown depending on the light.  I think it will be beautiful knitted up.  The yarn was a special run for the 2014 Listowel Tent Sale.  It is no-name Patons Classic Wool.  If you know your brands, you can recognize the unlabeled yarn bargains at the tent sale.

To round up the 3 project plan, I started socks.  While rooting around in the stash, I found the baggies of sock yarn from the 2009 Sock Summit purchases.  I purchased Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up and was in love with her patterns.  I vowed I was going to make each and every pattern in the book.  I laid out the balls and skeins of sock yarn on the bed at home opened the book and asked each skein what it wanted to be.  I placed each in a zip lock bag with a note stating which pattern it chose.  I made three pairs of socks before other patterns took my fancy.  It started with a desire to make a hat.  I convinced myself that I would come back to the socks.  Well first the hat, then mittens, a sweater and as time passed the baggies in the stash were forgotten.

This is On Hold Socks.  The yarn is The Periwinkle Sheep Watercolour sock yarn in Fresh Lavender, chosen at random from the collection.  As this pattern requires some concentration it will be reserved for quiet time in the hotel room.

The knitting is done; I have started to assemble the poncho.

One more seam and the fringe still to go.  The stripes are growing on me.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Mohair Woes

I love mohair, I really do.  I love the halo.  I love how mohair takes up colour.  There is depth, tone and richness to any colour in mohair.  I absolutely become ecstatic over the sheen of a mohair fibre.  Working with mohair is an amazing experience.  But then there is always a "but".  

Mohair is miserable to rip back.  Fibres get everywhere.  Pink and purple fibres are covering the brown recliner.  I had to put T-shirts in the dryer with lots of fabric sheets to remove as much mohair fibres from the cotton as I could.  It is up my nose, in my hair and this morning I found the dog's water dish with a floating haze of mohair.  If I am ever kidnapped I hope I am wearing mohair.  There will be a trail of fibre to lead the police to the perpetrators no matter how much they vacuum the trunk.

The shrug is mohair and silk.  I carefully measured the rectangle before sewing up the sleeve seams.  I tried it on and then made each sleeve seam 2" longer.  It had to be right before I added the ruffle edging.  Mohair is notorious for being hard to rip back.  This fabric is doing something strange.  It is changing length and shape continually.  It was the right measurement before the ruffle.  It has grown.  My lovely niece B is modelling the shrug.  It should have fit her.  I think it is too big.  It now sort of fits me but I swear in another week it will be too big for me too.

I have asked B if she would like this item after the Fair.  If so, I will cut off the ruffle, lengthen the sleeves to narrow the back to fit her.  I have lots of this yarn left to reknit the ruffle.  If not, then I will find someone else who will fit the shrug.  It is really quite beautiful and weighs almost nothing.

The Elegance Poncho is also mostly mohair.  I am trying to blend four yarns in pinks and purples.  I am not sure I am succeeding.  I love this pattern.  I love each and every yarn I am using.  I also love each and every colour.  I am just not sure that they like each other.  I have completed the first panel.

There is triple striping going on.  There are three types of yarn each creating a type of stripe.  There are actually three colour themes going on.  Dark Pink, Wine and the mohair which was unlabelled as to colour but there are differing shades of purple in it.  There are also different textures knit into the piece creating their own striping effect. I think is it beautiful yet it leaves me a bit unsatisfied.  I am not sure why.  Maybe too many stripes?

On Saturday, my friend Connie and I took a trip to the Woodstock Fleece Festival.  We have been going together for several years now and we just have a blast of a time.  We used to leave early in the morning to get there right at opening.  We live 2 hours away from Woodstock so it was a very early start.  We would get there wait in line in the cold and the rain to get in.  The venue was crowded.  The vendors' booths had great selection but we could not get in them to have a good look around.  So the last couple of years or so, we leave later, stop and have lunch then get to the festival around 1PM.  We don't have the big crowds, we can get into the booths and browse and we can park closer to the venue.  We enjoy the yarn orgy so much more.

This year this was again our plan.  We were enjoying the drive and commenting on how lovely the weather was.  It did not look like rain.  The Fates love to mess with us.  Less than 10 minutes later we were in a snow squall being bombarded with graupel. Shortly after that we were at a standstill on the 401.  It took forever to exit at Putnam Road.  We made our way to Ingersoll where again we crawled along to the four way stop sign on the edge of town.  The 401 traffic headed south and we headed north.  It has been more than 20 years since I spent any amount of time navigating the streets and byways of Ingersoll.  I thought at one point we were correctly heading north but the compass on the dash of the car said west.  West was wrong.  The lovely app on my I-phone confirmed I was right and the compass was wrong.  We made our way to what used to be Highway 2 and which also happens to be the road we needed to get to the Fleece Festival.  The delay and detour put us in Woodstock almost an hour behind schedule.  Would there be any yarn left?

One of my favourite things about arriving at the Fleece Festival is the parking.  Parking is on the Woodstock Racetrack.  Any kid who watches hockey dreams of being the Zamboni driver when they grow up.  If you spend any amount of time watching horse racing, you want to be the pace car driver.  At least I do.  At Woodstock, I get to drive around the racetrack to find the perfect parking spot.  Sometimes I miss it and have to drive around a second time.  For that brief moment in time, I am the pace car driver; 8 horses and sulkies are following me until the barriers lift up and I accelerate out of their path.

Connie and I separate once we get there.  It is too hard to stay together but that does not mean we are not meeting up.  I like to scope out all the vendors and figure our what I want to buy before going back and actually making my selections.  I found Linda's Craftique who had a selection of Fleece Artist kits for the Elegance Poncho.  I checked them all out.  Did I want to start a second one?  I found Connie and took her back there for a second opinion.  I showed her a gorgeous blue and green combination that stunned us both with its rich colours.  I then pointed out a second combination as an alternative.  Connie took one look at it and said I had to buy it and I had to buy it now.  

The colour is labelled as Ebony.  C called it "Bark".  I call it "must cast on now".

Both C and I signed up for the next Stephen West Mystery Knit Along.  It calls for three colours of fingering weight yarn.  C had picked out a lovely combination from her stash but wanted to keep her options open.

I had picked out three as well but didn't like one of the colours with the other.  C didn't like it either.  I brought them along to pick out something better.  I went from booth to booth holding my two skeins against possible thirds.  Nothing was working.

Eventually I made my choice.

The two on the outer edges are from my stash.  The two in the middle are my choice from the Festival.  I bought two as the yardage was less than the other two colours and I wanted to be sure I did not run out.

I ran into Connie after buying the Hedgehog Fibres at Georgetown Yarn.  She at least was running.  I was sauntering along and thinking that I never win a door prize at these types of events when I heard them call C's name, looked up and there she was running towards me and asking where the red balloons were.  The announcer had said that prizes could be picked up at the red balloons.  She had won two lovely skeins of yarn.  I can't wait to see what she makes with them.

So, since we were together again, I showed her my Hedgehog. I thought she was going to faint she was so excited. Hedgehog!!!! Where did I get it!  She had to have some! So I took her to the booth.  She picked out three combinations for the Mystery Knit Along Shawl, plus a few extra.  C never under-does anything.

Here are my other purchases.
  Another skein of Hedgehog Fibres.  This one because it is speckled.  C kept saying on the way down that she wanted speckled yarn.  She did not have any in her stash.  Turns out I am very susceptible to persuasion.

I had to stop by Zig Zag Stitches.  Numerous people saw the bag I was carrying and asked if I got it there.  No, I made it myself.  However I did fall in love with the above project bag.  Now when I ask Hubby to pass me my sock bag, he will know which one holds the socks in progress.

C and I finally met up just before 4PM.  I asked if she was ready to head home.  Yes she was, she said, she was out of money.  Me too I replied and we headed towards the door.  C just had to introduce me to her new friends at Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn, an indie dyer.  I just had to have the linen project bag and then I accidently touched the Olive skein of 70% Baby Alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere.  I could not let go.  I dug into my hidden cache of just in case emergency cash and they came home with me.

Here is C with the lovely ladies of Red Sock Blue Sock Yarn.

  Here are some other photos from the Fleece Festival.

I couldn't resist this skein of yarn.  The ladies at Dyed by Lindsay were so helpful trying hard but unsucessfully making a match for that third skein for the mystery knit along,  I just had to buy something.  This was too beautiful to pass up.

Progress Report

The Cowl is done.

The first 5 squares of the afghan are done and sewn together in a strip.  3 more strips to go.

I have added an Excel spreadsheet to the sidebar.  You can click on it to see progress on each project.  I will be updating it from time to time.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Yarn Story

My yarn speaks to me.  I hear their little voices from the Rubber Maid tubs in the basement.  "Knit me first.  I want to be a shawl.  I don't want to be a sweater.  Knit me now."

I find the voices hard to drown out in the quiet of the early morning when I wake up sweaty once again, another hot flash ruining a perfectly good solid sleep.  I lie there and tell the yarn to shut up.  If the Hubby is on Pelee Island, I simply turn on the TV to drown the yipping noise from the yarn.

I tell the yarn that yes, I will knit with you.  But I want to knit what I want to knit when I want to knit it.  Don't nag me.  Your turn will come.  But then I go out and the fibre in the store is new, exciting.  I am seduced by the curve of the skein.  The colour has never been so bright.  I am overcome with a warm glow (could be another hot flash, I can't tell the difference).  I don't care that I have lovelies already at home.  I have to have that virgin merino, polworth or alpaca.  I have no self-control.

The voices from this yarn were getting strong and making themselves heard over the din.

There are three yarns in those piles.  I purchased this yarn many years ago from Grand River Yarns.
The plan was to make the Simple Elegance Poncho from the book Knitting with Fleece Artist 2, The Yarn Garden.  I can't find a photo of the poncho but there is a photo of the Simple Elegance Afghan and the pattern is the same.  Just visualize half the afghan and the ends sewn to the sides to form a poncho.

I have tuned out their voices for a long time.  I love pink and purple but for the last few years I do not have these colours in my wardrobe.   I still don't. However, my boss does.  She says that she is willing to wait a year to receive it and wear it.

I located the yarn in my inventory records.  It was not hard.  They were the first entry.  That shows that I have had this yarn at least as long as my recording system.  More than 10 years I think.  Well, out it comes.  I take the pictures, separate the skeins and then I take a close look at the Curly Locks.  I swear a few times, pound the table and have a little cry.  I don't think I have enough of the Dark Pink Curly Locks.  I weighed the skein.  It is only 100 grams.  A regular skein is 125.  In fairness to Fleece Artist, I purchased the pink as a kit for another sweater because it had 2 of the three yarns I wanted.  I never thought to check if the kit had full skeins or only the amount needed for the kit sweater.   In 10 years the yarn stayed silent on its skinnyness.  I needed fat skeins.  Now what.  I booted up the desktop and started my search.  Confirmed the colour is discontinued.  Confirmed a standard skein is 125 grams.  Checked if any of the current colours could work.  The colour named Wine seemed like a likely choice.  Next step was to check if any of the yarn shops between home and my mother's place carried this yarn.

Hubby and I would be passing through London Ontario on the way to Thanksgiving dinner at my mother's place in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I could not believe my luck when the Wool Boutique website showed they had one single skein of Fleece Artist Curlylocks in the colour Wine.  It would only add 45 minutes to our trip to detour to the shop.  I tried calling from the 401 before exiting but the shop was so busy on the Saturday morning no one answered.  I decided to chance my Hubby not speaking to me for the rest of the weekend if we got there and the skein was gone.  Luckily (or not depending on your point of view) he is still speaking to me.

I did check the skein colour to make sure it went with the other colours and I can't believe my good luck this weekend.  Right now this is making the top of my list for what I am thankful for.  I know I should have more profound things to be thankful for, and I am, but today this tops the list.

I did resist the siren calls of the other yarns in the shop.  It wasn't easy but telling Hubby I would be out in 5 minutes helped.

I finished casting off the shrug in the car.  Hubby drove again, letting me play with the needles.  I did not think the cast off would ever end.  I did not count the stitches but the circular needle was 24 inches long tip to tip, the yarn was thin and the needle was stuffed full of stitches.

The cast off took 5 hours but worth it for the lovely little ruffled edge.

I am waiting on the arrival of a niece later this afternoon to take final photos for you.  The shrug looks like nothing special photographed flat.  It needs a body inside to show off its charms.

40 left to go.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

One Down

I am so excited.  I finished one entry.  Only 41 left to go!

Hubby took the photos.  I think he did a good job.  I have been trying to teach him good composition.  I did edit a little bit but I think cropping a photo to improve it is okay.  When he first starting taking pictures of me in knitwear, I would get a lovely photo of my head centered in the photo.  I would then have to explain I wanted a picture of the sweater.  I would then get a lovely photo of my breasts showing off the sweater.  The third time I would get a photo of all of me with these strange expressions on my face.  A still photo of a face while giving verbal instructions is never a pretty sight.

For those of you tuning in just in the hope of more motorcycle photos but without knitwear, enjoy.

I like to finish well.  Often it is the finishing details that takes a good knitwear into a great one.  Here is the detail of the finishing of the zipper installation.  I added grosgrain ribbon to hide the black zipper tape.  I think it finishes off the zipper nicely.

I can also hide the yarn ends in behind the zipper and ribbon.

 Also, I expect I will drive the car while wearing this sweater so I wanted a zipper that unzipped from the bottom.  Opening the zipper at the bottom helps keep the bottom edge from stretching out while sitting.

I thought you might like a picture of the pocket detail.

This is all that is left of the ball of yarn the lovely Tammy sent to me for the collar.

I am later in posting this blog this weekend.  My hubby and I took a trip to Stratford.  We were celebrating three milestones; my birthday, his birthday and our anniversary which falls between the birthdays.  We went to see the Alchemist and stayed overnight.

My Husband and I have been together for 22 years and still he manages to surprise me.  We were discussing what time we should leave on Saturday.  Stratford is about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive if stops are kept to a minimum.  I wanted time to check in to the hotel, have dinner and generally relax before the play.  He suggested we leave at noon.  I said great, the yarn store closes at 6.  He choked on his drink and said, "I didn't see that one coming".

Close Knit is a lovely little store in downtown Stratford.

We checked into the hotel and the receptionist said we had a cute suite with a fireplace.  I thought how romantic.  It was pouring rain out and a cozy fire would be just the thing to dispel the damp.  I saw the fireplace and could not stop laughing.

This isn't a fireplace, it is a child's toy.  Yes it gives off heat but no warmth.  See, no fear of damaging the knitting.

The shrug is about 3' long at this point.  The yarn purchases from Close Knit are holding the piece in place.  I got a lot of knitting done on the drive.  Hubby drove and I was grateful.  He prefers if I drive on long trips or where I know the route better than him.  I qualified on both counts.  After all I lived just north of Stratford 40 some years ago.

Earlier in September I dropped by Maclaren's to have my 2015 Harrow Fair photos printed.  Brad Maclaren had a film crew in to make a commercial.  He asked if I would mind being in his commercial.  If you blink you will miss the back of my head.  Feel free to laugh out loud if you want.  I can't stop giggling.

I have finished another square for the afghan.  17 to go.  I wouldn't even bring it up if I didn't have a story about this one.  Last week I told you about knitting a square at the Essex 73's game.  Turns out I was so focused on the square not only did I miss all the goals, I also had the wrong team playing.  Last week it was Dresden not Blenheim.  On Tuesday of this week it was Blenheim.  I was working on a new square.  This time I did see all 4 goals - all for Essex.  Zip for Blenheim.  They thought they had two but sadly didn't.  Hubby made it to this game.  I thought the crowd was pretty tame for this one.  The yahoos who taunt the other team's goalie (and annoy me in the process) kept quiet most of the game.  The fellow who jumps up regularly shouts at everyone and pounds on the plexi-glass stayed seated and only turned to ask me if I was making a crying towel for the other team.  I rolled my eyes and kept on knitting.  Hubby suggested later that I could stop those sorts of comments if I went down, sat with the guy and proceeded to explain about the choice of yarn, colours, the Harrow Fair and my blog.  He would never ask again.

The game ended and on our way out of the arena, something happened that I have only ever heard about but never before witnessed.  A fight broke out in the crowd.  Not on the ice.  Not with the players.  This was spectators.  I  don't know what game offense started the altercation but I was a witness to the the shove and the punch.  I am not going to get into a discussion of violence associated with hockey.  Just suffice to say I was not impressed and I wish it hadn't happened and more over, I wish I hadn't seen it.  So what does this have to do with knitting you ask?  The game ended, my husband was ready to leave.  If we had gone then and there we would have missed it but instead I said "just one more row".