Monday, 15 September 2014

Applesauce - Part I

I've been making and freezing applesauce for several years. Last year, for the first time, I canned applesauce. The 12 pints got us through to about April.

I wanted to go apple picking last week so I did some Internet surfing for the local u-pick operations. Unfortunately, a hail storm in August wiped out several orchards' crops to the west of here. I also learned that it's a bit too early for Crispin (Mutsu) or Fuji apples. Last week, at Costco, I bought two 6lb. bags of Paula Red apples which were supposed to be OK for making sauce.

Today was the day for applesauce making. I did up one bag and wasn't that pleased with the flavour. It was somewhat apple-y but not that sweet. I also overcooked the batch and couldn't use the sauce at the bottom of the pot (the darker jars in the photo below). For the second bag, I sweetened it with some Splenda. We are avoiding sugar and find Splenda to be an acceptable sugar substitute. It tasted better but I'm hoping to find better apples in a couple of weeks when the Mutsu apples will be in season.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

2014 Knitter's Frolic

My knitterly friend, Jennifer, and I attended the Knitter's Frolic yesterday at the Kitchener Auditorium. This year, to satisfy the fire marshall and provide lots of room for shoppers, two separate arenas were designated. The Kitchener-Waterloo Knitting Guild did a fabulous job of organizing the event.

Ahead of time, Jennifer did some research. She printed out the map of where the various vendors would be located and identified the ones that were 'must sees'.

Waterloo Wools is going out of business and the Fair was their last show. All fibre and yarns were discounted 25% so we made a beeline there first.

I bought this braid of Polwarth wool.
I really like spinning multi-coloured fibre.
I also picked up this dyed Moorit Shetland braid in the Pumpkin Pie colourway.

I really am partial to autumnal colourways.
At the Ewe Knit booth I purchased this Cladonia shawl kit that has 5 skeins of Koigu KPM yarn. The pattern was included as well as one for matching fingerless mitts.

After lunch at Marbles, a tasteful restaurant, we visited Shall We Knit? which decided this year not to have a booth at the Fair.  It is a well-stocked, well laid-out store with a wide variety of yarns. I bought a few drastically discounted balls of Frill Seeker yarn for an upcoming teaching opportunity.

We then headed over to Len's Mill Store where I purchased some cute boots fabric and a coordinating fabric.

I also grabbed this trendy purses fabric.
We had also planned a visit to BeadFX on the way home but they had a booth at the Fair! Jennifer was able to get all the bead she wanted for her various proposed lace projects. It saved us a trip down the DVP in Saturday traffic. We were pretty pooped after all that travel and excitement.

Last Wednesday, I visited the Len's Mill Store on Orfus Rd. in Toronto and snagged these companion fabrics.  I have a couple of project bags in mind for myself.

Ruddington Back

I finished the back of the Ruddington and have started the sleeves.  The stitch markers show where I started and finished a ball of yarn. I spit-spliced so there aren't loose ends to weave in.
Here is the back with the fronts.
The sleeves are stocking stitch with an element of the cable above the cuff. Again, the cable grows naturally from the cuff.
I should probably have knit the two sleeves at the same time but I don't think I'll have trouble duplicating the increases.

After all that concern about not having enough yarn to kit the sweater, the two balls that I tracked down a year after buying the original yarn will not be needed after all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ruddington Cardigan Update

I have about a third of the back done. It is pretty stretchy so there is a possibility that I'll frog the fronts and re-knit them a size smaller - we'll see.
The Cascade 220 doesn't have as tight a twist as some yarns but the stitch definition is evident.
At this rate, I'll have the back done in a couple of days. Then on to the sleeves which are stocking stitch except for cable detail above the wrist.

A Sign That Summer is Drawing to a Close

Our last monarch butterfly emerged from its chrysalis on Sunday. Before I went to bed on Saturday, the chrysalis had gotten darker so I knew the emergence was imminent. As it was still hanging from the empty pupa casing, I put a stick in the Bug Bottle so it could climb out when it was ready to.  Once I saw the open wings, I knew it was indeed a male because of the thin veining and two dots.

It perched on the end of the stick, opening and closing its wings.
At one point, I put my finger out and he crawled on it but the wings were still wet and floppy and bent right over. Back on the stick,  he perched there for over an hour. Then he flew over to the neighbour's Rose of Sharon bush and hung there, again for over an hour.
And then he was gone.

It was a bittersweet moment for me. I was happy he got safely to adulthood from his humble egg form in the care of Mike and me; happy to be able to witness this complete metamorphosis firsthand. But I was sad that he was gone, the season was over, and that I have to wait another year go do this again.

I hope he makes it to Mexico and his great-grandchildren make it back to Whitby next summer.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Garterlac and Ruddington

Next week I'll be doing a preview of a workshop I'm doing in October with my spinning and weaving guild, the Shuttlebugs. I knit up a dishcloth last night for the demo.

Garterlac dishcloth by Criminy Jickets
When purchasing dishcloth cotton, the balls are all the same price but NOT the same size. The solid colours  have more yardage than the striped ones. This ball was only 42.5g (1.5 oz.)  and 62m/68 yd where a solid ball would be 56g (2 oz.) and have proportionately more yardage.

I got a little nervous as I was knitting the last tier of squares because I didn't think I'd make it to the end of my knitting before the end of the yarn. Fortunately there was enough with 6 yards to spare. So this project took about 62 yards of yarn on 5mm needles.

I then went back to working on the Ruddington cardigan and have almost finished the left front.
Hopefully this evening I'll get it finished and cast on the back.

My knitterly friend, Jennifer, and I are heading to Kitchener next Saturday for the Knitter's Fair. Neither of us needs to augment our stashes but we love being amid our people and seeing all the lovely things. A nearby yarn shop,  Shall We Knit? , won't have a booth at the fair this year because they get swamped with shoppers who go to their shop in Waterloo after attending the fair in neighbouring Kitchener. It's too hard to staff a booth at the fair as well as staffing the shop on such a busy day for them. So Jennifer and I will stop by Shall We Knit? and also hit Len's Mill Store just a couple of blocks from there.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Inspired by Socks

A couple of weeks ago I completed a pair of socks inspired by the cable pattern in Fiona Ellis' 'Ruddington' cardigan.
I have started the sweater to match them using Cascade 220 yarn in a beautiful heathered purple yarn.

I finished the right front two nights ago. It was a fast and easy knit since I'd had a lot of practice on the cable pattern.

I do check every once and a while for mis-crossed cables and only once had to rip down about 8 rows to fix one.

I like this pattern for many reasons.

1. It has raglan sleeves which are much more flattering on me.
2. The cables are scrumptious. I don't use a cable needle so they knit quite quickly.

3. The pattern is well written. It does pay to read through the instructions, though, as there are armhole AND neck decreases happening at the same time.
4. Fiona has the first and last stitches of the row in stocking stitch which makes it MUCH easier to sew up the seams later. Not all patterns do this so I appreciate Fiona's attention to this detail.
5. The armhole and neck edge decreases are flanked by 2 stocking stitches. Again, this makes it very easy to sew up once completed. (Have I ever mentioned I like sewing up well-blocked sweater pieces?)

Most cardigans have you knitting the back first. However, I like to knit one of the fronts first. It's a smaller project to have to rip out if it isn't working gauge-wise. In this case it was pretty close to perfect and will be easily blocked to the perfect dimensions because of the elasticity of the fabric due to the cables.

One modification I am going to make is to make the back a smaller size. Last night I measured my back width at its widest point from centre underarm to the other centre underarm and got 18". My front width from underarm to underarm is 25". In the past, I have found by knitting the sweater that has a couple of inches of ease yields too wide a back. So if I make the back a size smaller it won't feel and look too wide and sloppy. The narrower back will work well as long as I make the length the same as the fronts. I may have to ease the sleeves into the armholes a bit but I'm sure it will work. I will also knit shorter sleeves than called for in the pattern as I have shorter arms than most and don't like cuffs that go beyond my wrists.

I have completed one pattern repeat on the second front. Stay tuned...