Saturday, 31 October 2009

Knitting in Remembrance

November 11, Remembrance Day, will soon be here. Although I strongly advocate buying poppies from the Legion people who will be out and about for the next 12 days, knitting one would afford you the opportunity to reflect on the brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifice during various wars, conflicts and peacekeeping forays.

Here's a free Lion Brand pattern called Field Poppy. If you're not already signed up, it's easy to do at no cost or obligation.

"Lest We Forget"

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A Vagabond Song (1901)

by Canadian poet Bliss Carman (1861 - 1929).

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood--
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellows and the purple and the crimson keeping time.

Photo Stan Ciszek

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills.

Photo Elliot Teskey

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir;
We must rise and follow her,
When from every hill of flame
She calls and calls each vagabond by name.

Photo Jack A. Napes

Monday, 26 October 2009

'Strummed' Mittens

When Marion and I were at Countrywool in Hudson, NY the day before the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, I noticed a pair of mittens on display that were like thrummed mittens yet were different. Instead of tufts of roving knit into the inside of the mitten, pencil roving was stranded and knit in every 4 stitches. The next day at Rhinebeck, I found some pencil roving and it got me thinking....

'strummed' (stranded thrummed) mittens.

I'm using the Briggs and Little Thrummed Mitten pattern as a base pattern and am stranding on every row as the pencil roving is very thin and I want good coverage.

<---I'm using the handspun that didn't turn out as nicely as I would have liked. As a single, it looked great but after plying it turned out greenish and muddy. But with the purple pencil roving, I'm liking it more and more.

And this is what the inside looks like.

Don't you think they'll be really cozy?

Strummed mittens! I ♥ them.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Hallowe'en Preparations

Skip and Scooter undertook their annual pumpkin carving today. As usual, power tools were involved.

We all learned that a slower speed with the spade bit reduces the amount of flying pumpkin 'schrapnel'.

Skip carved his usual 'vomiting pumpkin' (pictured in the centre). It is always a hit with the neighbourhood children (and their parents).
He has saved the 'vomit' (the guts of the pumpkin) and will wait put it out until Hallowe'en night, otherwise the squirrels will steal all the seeds.

We often reminisce about the conversation that took place one Hallow's Eve a few years back. Skip had carved his first vomiting pumpkin and it was proudly on display on the front step. A little girl dressed, not surprisingly, as a princess and no more than 4 years old, came to the door. She took one look at Skip's contribution to the Hallowe'en décor and said in a high pitched 4-year-old voice looking at Skip, "Did you make that?". To which Skip responded to the affirmative. Without missing a beat she observed, "Looks like it ate too many seeds". I burst out laughing from the other room.

All 'artistes' sketch their works of art before rendering them in final form. Here is a shot of Skip's sketch torn from his 'sketchbook'.

I need to 'get cracking' and finish MY pumpkin.

Only 6 more sleeps 'til Hallowe'en!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Recovering from Rhinebeck

Since I returned from Rhinebeck, I've been really pooped. I guess driving all day Friday and then shopping, attending the Sheep and Wool Festival all day Saturday, driving to and shopping in Skaneateles on Sunday, outlet mall shopping and driving on Monday and driving home on Tuesday took somewhat of a toll on me.

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is now just a technicolour memory.

My mind is whirring with knitterly ideas and plans.

Wednesday was Scooter's cross-country meet at Centennial Park in Etobicoke. It was a drizzly day and of course, the heavens didn't really open up until we got out of the car.

Here Scooter is showing Skip what route they were going to take on their 7km run on grass, through woods, up a 'mountain' (used as a ski hill in the winter and which Skip calls 'Mount Garbage' as it used to be landfill) and down the 'mountain' to the finish line.

It really only drizzled during the race and fortunately was not freezing cold for the runners.

Scooter (386 in the red shorts) made a very respectable finish. His team placed in the top 6 schools so will move on to the all-city meet next Tuesday.

It would be so wonderful if it was one of those balmy, sunny fall days.

Back at home this weekend I thought it would be cool to undertake some edible Hallowe'en crafts. The Internet being the wonderful resource that it is enabled me to find the Roots and Wings Co. blog packed with lots of seasonal crafts. This evening Scooter and I made white chocolate ghost suckers.

First, I bought some sucker sticks, white chocolate wafers and little chocolate chips (for the eyes) at Bulk Barn.

I printed the template for the outlines of the ghosts.

Then I put the white chocolate wafers in a ziploc bag and melted them until they were squishy.

I covered the ghost template with waxed paper and clipped a teeny-weeny tip off one corner of the ziploc bag and Scooter piped the outline of each ghost then filled in the body.

I then added the sucker stick, rolling it a bit so it would get all covered. Then he squirted more on the stick and over the whole ghost. Then chocolate chip eyes were added. Mini chocolate chips were called for in the original recipe but I couldn't find them at the Bulk Barn so our ghosts' eyes are really 'googly'.

I then slid the wax paper onto a cookie sheet and put them in the fridge to cool and harden. It only took a few minutes.

Once cooled, the ghost suckers just came right off the wax paper and were ready for eating.

You can rewarm the white chocolate if it starts to get too thick in the baggie. I think I set the temperature too high as the baggie developed a tear so I just slipped it into another bag and carried on.

Seasonal crafts are great when they're edible.

You can also make bat and cat suckers with milk or dark chocolate if you can find a good outline to use. We were satisfied with just ghost suckers.

Today I finished teaching my knitting lace course at Myrtle Station Wools and Ferguson's Knitting. I demonstrated blocking a rectangular scarf and a triangular shawl and displayed several lace patterns that my students might like to try next.

I finally finished the lace and cable baby blanket and just need to block it and weave in the ends.

I also finished the second 'Practice Makes Perfect' (Kaffe Fassett yarn/Fiona Ellis cable) sock and am thrilled that they are as close to identical twins as one could expect to knit.

The trick is starting the first sock right at a colour change and then finding the same spot in the yarn at the beginning of the second sock. Then use the first one as a guide.

On the way to and from Rhinebeck whilst riding in the car, I completed the first Roses mitten. The main colour isn't really brown, it's more of a dark aubergine (eggplant).

I used thicker yarn this time and the Latvian braid on the cuff.

It is an authentic Swedish pattern by Kamilla Svanlund and only cost $3US for the download.

It is quite long (almost halfway up my forearm) but a good design.

I already have the next new mitten pattern in mind...

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Come Along With Me

This morning, Marion and I made our way to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds just north of the town of Rhinebeck, NY. It was clear and cool with a forecast of rain for later in the day.

We knew we were headed in the right direction when we saw this billboard.

We were there early enough that we were able to park close to the entrance gate.

What follows is a photo summary of what we saw in no particular order. Come along with me...

This woman was clipping her angora bunny. He seemed quite undisturbed by the whole process.

These yarns were dyed with Kool-Aid. The naturally acidic dyes make wonderful pastel colours for knitting for children.

This hooded jacket was machine-knit first, then the front panel was felted with various types of fibre.

Marion found some lovely hand-painted yarn that perfectly matched her coat and proceeded to buy 2 hanks of the worsted and a matching hank of boucle.

And this hat perfectly matched her Painter's Fingerless Gloves (Interweave Knits, Fall 2001). She knit the gloves years ago from 1 ply tapestry yarn and was amazed to find a hat that was such a close match both in pattern and colour. The designer was a very nice guy from Hope Spinnery in Hope, Maine.

These kits were very similar to Marion's Painter's Fingerless Gloves and cost $82US!

This Jojoland Swirl shawl was on display with a kit for sale.

as was this Autumn Shawl, an entrelac shawl like the on Marion had completed a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, there are sheep at sheep and wool festivals. As well as llamas, alpacas, goats, border collies, etc.

This fella was really enjoying having his cheek rubbed.

Lunch consisted of lamb chili (what else?) and a peach Fresca.

In one tent, a gentleman was carving pumpkins. He wasn't selling anything, just carving very cool pumpkins. Clockwise from top left: a sunflower, totem head, an owl, a traditional spinning wheel, a sheep, something I didn't really get a good look at and a ram's head.

What is a fall fair without an inflatable jack o' lantern?

You will note that I have my newly knit Moose Loves Roses mittens on. I did bring them for 'show' but it was so chilly that I ended up wearing them all day.

This beautiful double treadle spinning wheel was crafted out of cherry wood.

These folks were learning how to spin using a drop spindle,

and these folks were wet felting.

This booth had amazing lace yarn. These were some of the samples of the cobweb weight tencel. The yarns were beneath and to the right and left of that were kits with the pattern, yarn and matching beads. (drool)

Clara Parkes was signing her newly released book, "The Knitter's Book of Wool". She is the founder of Knitter's Review and also wrote, "The Knitter's Book of Yarn".

Barbara Perry was also there signing her book, "Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing".

This gal at the Adirondack Yarn Company booth was sporting a very funky 'free style' sweater-coat.

There were about 16 long buildings full of vendors. The displays were very impressive.

Here is a view of the vendors below from the second floor of the only 2 storey building.

The parking lot was packed. Those are the Catskill Mountains in the background. All of these cars arrived and parked after we did this morning.

We got out of there happily loaded down with our booty. We did do one unloading session into the car part-way through the day. It was helpful that we were parked so closely to the entrance gate.

Once back in the car and ready to weave our way out of the parking lot, I was happy to resume knitting as soon as I got my current mitten pattern affixed to the dashboard.

We gave Karen ("spinweaveknit" on Ravelry), a spinner/weaver/knitter we met in the parking lot, a lift back to our motel where she and her husband are staying. She is on sabbatical leave from her university in Brisbane, Australia and happened to be in the area just at the right time to attend the Sheep and Wool Festival. Her husband, Frank, also a university professor, was back at the motel all day enjoying NCAA football and reading two students' undergraduate theses.

We joined them for dinner at the Skytop Restaurant adjacent to the motel.

Here's what I limited myself to...

(clockwise from far left) hank of mill end Socks That Rock superwash merino lightweight sock yarn (The Fold), a Climbing Vine mitten pattern (Hope Spinnery of Hope, ME), beneath the pattern is an 8oz. hank of sport weight 50/50 kid mohair and fine wool (Brooks Farm Yarn of Lancaster, TX. Continuing clockwise, hand-dyed Blue Face Leicester roving (Gale's Art), some pencil roving, 4 little batts of hand-dyed merino top and a 'bump' of hand-dyed Longwool Leicester.

Marion and I are pooped from our adventures today. Attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (or any sheep and wool festival for that matter) is certainly something any knitter or spinner should do at least once in their lives. I am so fortunate that is my second time here - and hopefully not the last...

Tomorrow, we're off to the Finger Lakes Region. Stay tuned for our next adventure.