Friday, 27 November 2015

Red Scarf Update

Alexa handed in our red scarves last week. Evidently, the committee was 'blown away' with the number of scarves donated - over 400 in all - for the December 1 event.

I snapped this photo of the contributions of Donna, Alexa, Jan Neville, and me just before they were dropped off.
I've been happily knitting away on my Shalor cardigan only to notice I haven't been doing the wrong side knit stitches correctly. I've been knitting them through the back as the ones on the front are done. On closer reading of the pattern, I noted last night that the wrong side knits are not supposed to be knit through the back. I attempted to correct this by undoing the offending column of stitches and laddering them back up with a crochet hook but they just didn't look right so I'm going to have to rip it back to the ribbing and do it right. Sigh.

I guess, since I've had the yarn for over 2 years, another week or so of re-knitting won't matter. I don't have a deadline for this cardigan.

Customarily, I knit one sweater a year. This year, I haven't completed an adult sweater but I did knit 4 baby sweaters earlier in the year so that's going to be it for 2015.

Yesterday, my stitcherly/crafty friend, Marilyn was over and spotted the checked scarf I had woven and said, "May I have it?". Without missing a beat, I said "Sure! It's yours". She's pleased to have it and I'm very happy to have it go to someone who will appreciate it. If I want or need another one, I now possess the skills to whip one up in a matter of a couple of hours.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Last Week of the Month Already!?

This has been a very busy month for me. I have had total knitting/weaving ADD and have been jumping from one project to another as a result. Any time I've thought of updating this blog, I've started to do something else.

The fall is a very knitterly time of year with festivals, retreats, knit/spin nights, etc.  A couple of weeks ago at my spinning group (Whitby Spinners) discussed participating in our local red scarf project about which I noted in my last post. I took the opportunity to weave a scarf which not only enabled me to contribute to this worthy cause, but also allowed me to finish a scarf in much less time than I could knit it, and also gave me some more practice warping and weaving on my Leclerc Dorothy loom. One of my spinning buddies, Alexa, came over last week and got an introductory lesson to warping the loom and beginning weaving on one of the scarves.
She really got the hang of it and accomplished a lot.
Here is the hemstitching I did on each end of the scarf before cutting it off the loom.
Skip got a shot of me twirling the fringe.
Basically if you make the number of twirls the same, the fringe will look uniform.
I finished that scarf and made another with the yarn Alexa provided. Then wove one more last night and today bringing my grand total of scarves for this project to 4 (which included the ripply scarf from the last post).

Here are the last three ready to drop off at the donation centre.
If I think of it on December 1, I'll drive around Whitby and Oshawa to see if I can see any tied to posts or signs around town.

Changing gears --- I started the cardigan with the yarn I brought back from Ireland two years ago. It took me this long to find a pattern that I felt was worthy of this yarn. It is the Shalor Cardigan designed by Penny Straker. A woman at Rhinebeck had one on that I admired

so she gave me the info. and I began the hunt for the pattern. (That's one the the things I LOVE about knitterly events - it is perfectly OK to go up to a perfect stranger and fondle their knitwear or ask them who designed the item). I first heard her say it was a Penny 'Striker' sweater. After some futile googling and Ravelrying, I determined the correct name of the designer and her cardigan. On her website I noted that Patternfish carries her patterns but alas, not this one in particular. I contacted Gayle Clow of Patternfish and she said she'd look into it. In the meantime, I mentioned it in a Ravelry group, and some kind soul told me of a retailer that sells the pattern and that it was indeed in stock. I ordered it online and short order I had it in my hot little hands. I did the recommended swatch and adjusted for the correct needle size so began the left front.
The knits in the 1 x 1 ribbing are through the back loop, this twists the stitches, as well as all the knit stitches on the right side of the elaborate cable. The cables are written out line by line so I charted them with my software and printed them out for my reference. I also had to plot out the patterns across the row to keep them straight. I have internalized all the patterns except the braided cable and am easily following the chart. The safety pin is holding the buttonband stitches which will be picked up and knit after completing the front, then sewn to the honeycomb edge using a 'serpentine' stitch, definitely NOT a whip stitch. I'll have to have a closer look at that part when I come to it.

As a result of my weaving experiences this fall, I really want to obtain a folding floor loom that is at least 36" wide. I'm willing to wait until I find one in my price range.

Skip and I just booked a tropical holiday in Cuba at a 5-star resort (in Cuba, the more stars the better the food) for the not-to-distant future. Now that our temperatures have plummeted to below freezing, we're both really itching to get the heck out of this icebox.

Today, however, it was about 8C - warm enough for me to do a last outdoor window washing of the season. I only had a fleece jacket on and was plenty warm in the sun. Here's hoping we get lots more days like today before winter sets in.

And finally, I received an email last Friday inviting me to submit proposals to teach at a big knitting event next spring. I'm hoping at least one of my proposed classes will be accepted. I love teaching and I love knitting so I hope to be able to infect others with my enthusiasm - knitting missionary that I am. (LOL).   I'm hoping to know by the end of December. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, 16 November 2015

One Day Scarf

The AIDS Committee of Durham Region is undertaking a Red Scarf Project this year. Knitted or crocheted red scarves 6" x 60" are being collected and will be tied to posts and trees all over Oshawa and Whitby on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2015. Each scarf will have a tag affixed inviting people to take the scarf if they need it. Any scarves remaining will be donated to local shelters.

Some of my spinning peeps have been talking about participating, I wasn't interested in spending hours and hours knitting a scarf but thought I could weave one in a fraction of the time.

I picked up a skein of very affordable, soft, acrylic yarn (Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny - 170g/311yd) at Michaels. Today I wound the warp and warped the loom in under 2 hours. The sett was 60 ends (including 2 floating selvedge threads) at 8 epi (ends per inch). I knew it would pull in significantly on the loom with a twill pattern. After some experimentation, I decided to use two shots of weft over 1 x 1 for 12 picks alternating with two shots over 2x2 weft to give it a bit of interesting texture and to disguise any irregularities in my weaving.
It made for an interesting texture.
Off the loom it is a bit waffle-y. It shows how much the 2 x 2 weft pulls in compared to 1 x 1.

I will try to steam it but am not sure how that will work with the acrylic yarn. I'm reluctant to wash and tumble dry the scarf in case it looks really crappy afterwards. Although it's not 'knit or crocheted', I hope it will be accepted for the project. It definitely is soft and snuggly.
I'm thinking of weaving another one, still with two shots of weft per shed but only using the 1 x 1 warp pattern.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Catching Up

This has been a busy month.

Last weekend, Jen1 and I went to a knitting retreat at Jackson's Falls Country Inn in Prince Edward County. It was organized by Lesley Snyder from Rosehaven Yarn Shop in Picton. It was only its second year and registration sold out in 1.5 hours last May.  Jen and I had heard about it last year and I jumped upon the chance to attend.

On our way, we stopped in at Port Hope and had a delicious lunch at Basil's Deli then visited Laurie Goldiuk at The Black Lamb's new location. Then we headed for Picton to shop at Rosehaven before heading to the retreat.

There were 26 participants at the retreat, most of us housed at the inn with a few at a nearby B&B. We all ate together in the 'schoolhouse'. It was fun to have people haul out their knitting between courses.
The inn is licensed and we were permitted to bring our own wine and pay a corking fee. Lesley set up a small yarn shop in the foyer of the inn.

Friday night we shared our favourite knitting books. I took notes and have some searching to do. Saturday morning I took a class on two-colour brioche knitting. It is quite a complex concept but after forging on after a some nasty-looking setup rows, I seemed to have gotten the hang of it. I really do need to review those setup rows.

At lunch, Purlin Js rolling yarn wagon pulled up. It is a large truck jammed with bins of and skeins of yarn and knitting accessories based in Kingston ON.

After lunch I took a class on mosaic knitting. That went a lot better than our morning's class. I'm not sure what I would use it for but evidently it can be used in lieu of stranded knitting in certain circumstances.

After dinner that night we each showed off a favourite knitted item. Again I took notes.

Sunday morning, I took a class on two-at-a-time toe up socks. It was a good refresher of Judy's Magic Caston. It was also an excellent introduction of Magic Loop for some of the participants who, after Cheryl's demo, had no trouble at all with either concept.
We also did the Fleegle Heel which was surprisingly easy to execute. I may not be a devotee of toe-up socks but there is merit to them, especially when wanting to use up all the yarn for nice, long cuffs and avoiding having to graft the toe.

While at the retreat, I cast on the Baa-ble hat which was so popular at Rhinebeck this year. It was designed by Donna Smith for Shetland Wool Week. I used green Berocco Vintage for the ribbing and 'grass', some random worsted black for the legs and faces and white and blue Donegal Aran Tweed yarn left-overs from the classes I took on my Irish knitting tour in 2013.

I started it on Friday night at the knitting retreat and had to rip it out so many times. First I had the wrong stitch count on the ribbing, once corrected I started in on the stranded pattern falling short of stitches. I then realized I needed to increase 24 stitches in the last ribbed row. I then changed needles according to the pattern and knit the rest of the hat finding it to be really slouchy which was not the look I was after at all. I frogged it back to the increase row after the knitting and continued on with the 4mm needle I used for the ribbing. It knit up in no time once I started doing things correctly.
I still need to make and attach a pompom.
On Wednesday at the Shuttlebug guild meeting one of our members did a little workshop on Zentangle, a meditative form of doodling that is all the rage right now along with all those adult colouring books one is seeing in book stores.

She passed around a little clutch bag she had doodled (Zentangled) on with a basic white fabric that had solid black lines.
She also quilted along the black lines and used a very cool, wavy, black and white, checkerboard lining.

She then set us to work on our little 3 1/2" square tiles, having us try some different techniques in each divided portion. I'm not sure how meditative it was as most of the time I was doodling, I was thinking of how I could be using the time to knit.
However, yesterday I went out and bought myself a little sketchbook and have been Zentangling a bit with Googled images as a guide. This technique can be enjoyed by people with no fine art training (like myself) at all. I wish I had known how to do this in my past life sitting through mind-numbing staff meetings every month.

Today I got all inspired to do some sewing. I made a couple more earbud cases using this tutorial. Then I made a thread catcher with an attached, weighted pin cushion using this tutorial.

The thread catcher project was very clearly explained and took me under an hour to make it. I had purchased 18" of 1/2" boning a while back for the project and used red lentils to fill the pincushion. I guess one could use a strip of 2L soda bottle or other large diameter plastic bottle for the boning and any grain for the weighted pincushion. I used half of two coordinating/contrasting fat quarters from my stash.
It was also a really good exercise in making a bag with boxed corners which could be used for gift bags, project bags, etc. etc.

I have a couple of other sewing projects I want to do - a zippered swift bag and a little pillowcase.

I'm still in a bit of a knitting slump but am spinning some yarn to knit some twined mittens. This involves spinning the yarn counter-clockwise with an 's'-twist then I'll ply it clockwise to create the desired 'z'-twist for twined knitting. I found some random roving in my stash and started it at Mo's last night.

I have at least one more pair of socks to knit for Christmas gifts. They're for someone with long feet so will do a pattern on the cuff for about 3" with another yarn so I'll have enough of the main yarn. I guess I could even do them toe-up using half of the main yarn on each sock and other yarn on the cuff to get the length I want.

I have a couple of weaving projects in my queue as well and will be getting at those next week.

That pretty well catches me up. It has been a very crafty fall but now all my special knitting events are over and my Christmas gift-making is getting into full swing.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Denim Stripes and Pom Pom Hat

I finished the striped socks that I started for the drive to Rhinebeck. The yarn is Lana Grossa sock yarn (Meilenweit) from deep in my stash.
I really liked the denim colour. I have someone in mind to give them to but rather like them myself so will have to grapple mentally about that. Not that I need any more wooly socks...
I did achieve identical twins. I had to fudge a bit on the toe decreases but it's not noticeable.
I used my standard cast-on, a long-tail cast-on around two needles.  It's not as nice looking as a tubular cast-on but it is easy and nice and stretchy.
We have new neighbours with a very cute baby. Skip commissioned me to knit the little fellow a hat which we will take over as a gesture of good will and welcome to the neighbourhood.
It's the baby version of Declan's Hat with Cascade 220 superwash worsted yarn.
I watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to make a pom pom and found this one to be the easiest method for me.  I just used a larger fork to make a proportionately larger pom pom.
I'm itching to warp my loom for some type of weaving project; perhaps another scarf.

Next weekend, Jen1 and I will be heading to Prince Edward County for a knitting retreat. We plan to take classes on Brioche knitting, two-at-at-time toe-up socks, and mosaic knitting. I'm sure there are YouTube videos on all of the topics but I enjoy taking classes and usually glean cool knitting tips from the teachers.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lots on the Go

I finished the first Climbing Vine Mitten (except for the thumb) with the Hope Spinnery yarn I got last weekend at Rhinebeck. I'm about half done the second. It's a very straight-forward stranded pattern, although the directions for the rows just above the thumb are open to interpretation. I'm also doing 2 x 2 corrugated rib on the cuff rather than the 1x1 stranded ribbing the pattern calls for.
The striped socks turned out very well, It was pure luck that I didn't interrupt the striping on the instep very much with the heel work.
I did my usual toe and eye of partridge heel flap.
I started the Laura Aylor 'The Woods in Winter" shawl. We saw it at the indie trunk show before Rhinebeck and in our goodie bag was a coupon for a free pattern for one of her designs. She has designed many lovely shawl patterns. There is a chart but I'm following the row by row instructions. The yarn? Some mystery yarn that I unravelled from a Value Village sweater.
I first tried to use this yarn for Sally Melville's "L'enveloppe" but I just couldn't get the gauge with this yarn unless I used a ridiculously large needle. I'm searching in my stash for the right yarn in the right quantity for that project.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Rhinebeck 2015

Two of my friends named Jennifer (let's call them Jen1 and Jen2) and I travelled to the Hudson Valley last weekend to attend the NY Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, NY. It was their first time (much akin to taking children to Disneyworld for the first time) so they were in for a jaw-dropping, yarn encompassing, fibre-ly good time.
Jen1, Jen2 and Geri
Jen2 wore her recently completed 'Les Mis' scarf for the occasion.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we checked in and lined up for the indie trunk show that was to take place in the ballroom from 5 to 9. Here we are at 4:32pm. The first 100 people got goodie bags. All of us got draw tickets for the doorprizes that had been donated by the vendors.
We met lots of nice folks in line - all as excited as we were. One yarn shop owner from NJ organized a bus tour and had special bags printed for the occasion.
The door prizes were on tables outside the ballroom, each with a bag where the attendee deposits the door prize ticket. Half the items were drawn at 6:30 and the other half at 8pm. We went for dinner between drawings.
Inside the ballroom were many vendors with many lovely items. Here is a sampling of what was available:

Color Purl hand-dyed gradients,
Vivid Fiber Arts had a beautiful display (with no posted prices).
 Each cube had its own LED light.
White Birch Fiber Arts had lots of nifty self-striping sock yarn with samples on display.
This Silver Spun yarn has silver filaments running through it - perfect for knitting gloves or tips of gloves with conductivity for people who like to check their devices without having to remove their gloves.
It was an excellent way to begin our weekend. There were SO many people, however. It is not for the faint of heart or claustrophobe. I'm not sure how the issue can be solved - more ballroom space? It has become a well-known precursor to the Festival in this, only its second year. But it's an excellent opportunity for smaller, independent fibre people to get exposure and reap the benefits of a captive audience.

The next morning we got up early to arrive at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in time to get a parking spot close to the gate. This is very handy to drop off purchases during the day and in our case, we met there to have our lunch which we'd pre-planned and kept in a cooler in the car.

We were fairly close to the beginning of the lineup. This was the lineup ahead of us at 8:22am. Gates opened at 9. It was absolutely no problem buying our tickets at the gate. We had $3 off coupons, saving the service charge had we purchased them ahead of time online.
It was pretty nippy and windy but we knew to bundle up and dress in layers.
Clara Parkes was going to be giving away 100 copies of galleys of her book, Knitlandia, which will be coming out next February. We knew to make a beeline over to building B to line up for the event.

The other authors are also behind tables along this narrow area. I bet they were glad when Clara's crowd left.
Jen1 sported her Mizzle shawl and I had on my Ruddington cardigan and Travelling Woman shawl.
Jen looked quite delighted as she was about to meet Clara, who chatted with each of us, complimented our knitwear, and autographed our free galleys.
We then fanned out with an agreed-upon meeting time for lunch.

Bijou Ranch had the most expensive ball of yarn I had ever seen. 1 ounce of vicuña yarn @ $300US! They also had 100% qiviut one-ounce balls for $167US. Eeek!
These rugs were crafted from felted balls of roving. They'd be very squishy to walk on I suspect.
Between buildings, I took an iconic autumnal shot.
And more autumnal shots.

Another fibre artist specialized in needle-felted works. This is one she did with trees.
And a closeup.
Back outside, I took a shot down the hill towards the vendors. It was a mass of people.
While at the Bitsy Knits booth, I found Mo! She was helping out for a couple of hours.
There are always pithy, fibre-ly sayings:
This one, I believe, is true.

We had a full, busy day and were very glad to get back to the hotel.  Then we spread our respective booty out on the bed. I didn't buy a lot of stuff - mostly hand crafted fiber or items. But was very happy with what I came away with.
Our drive home the next day was uneventful. Lots of comfort stops and a bit of shopping in Watertown before crossing back onto Canada. We got Jen2 back home in Kingston and then got ourselves home to Whitby.

And then it was all over. The Jennifers were very easy to travel with, get along with, and were lots of fun.

Jen2 is already off on another adventure for a couple of weeks and Jen1 and I are looking forward to a knitting retreat in November.