Sunday, 29 November 2009

Lack of Commitment

When we were at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair a couple of weeks ago, I bought some pencil roving from Belle Vallée Wools. There were two light grey and two natural white bundles.

I spun one spool of each and then plied them together. Today I spun and plied the remaining two bundles.

The skein I plied today has 40 more yards and weighs 4g less than the skein I spun and plied a couple of weeks ago. There is a total of 297yd and 134g (4.7 oz.). Because of the inconsistent yarn weight between skeins, I guess I'll have to alternate skeins if I ever knit something with it.

Of course my dilemma always is - what do I knit with the yarn I've spun? I have trouble committing my handspun to a project. It's so sad to use it up. For now, I'll just hang on to it for some special, future project.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Fetching (gently modified)

I finished the Fetching fingerless gloves last night at Knit Night. My knitting friend, Paula, suggested I include a pair of those stretchy gloves to be worn underneath so the fingers can actually be covered. I think that's a great idea.

I added a couple of extra cable repeats above the thumb to cover about half the length of the fingers. I also added 1 x 1 ribbing to the thumb to give it a bit of length and so it wouldn't flare out on the cast-off edge.

I've been working on the Vent d'est Vent d'ouest Smoke Ring. I'm using the Diamond Yarns Alpaca Prima yarn I picked up at Romni on Monday. I bought 2 skeins but I think I'll only use one and just knit until I run out of yarn. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Blowout Sale!

On the GTA Fibrefaces group on Ravelry I learned about a huge private yarn sale in Toronto. Evidently, someone purchased $90,000 (wholesale) of high end wool with the intention of opening a yarn shop and then decided not to. She has entrusted Laura with selling as much of the inventory as possible and recover as much of her investment as possible.

Feast your eyes. Ooooooh, ahhhhhh!

Behind me was an entire wall of Briggs and Little yarns piled waist high all along the wall.

It's hard to see from these photos but the two of the blue hanks of yarn have sequins in them. I think they were $11.75 per skein (regular $37).

Here are some better photos.

If you are visiting the greater Toronto area any time soon and want to have a look for yourself, the yarn is located in a unit at 174 Spadina St. (a few doors north of Queen St. W.).  First, you should call Laura at 416-389-3866. Her office is located in unit #500. Arrange with her a convenient time for her to take you to where the yarn is stored and she'll take you to the yarn. She spent most of last Saturday there but is nearby on weekdays and will show you in then, too. I strongly urge you to go with projects and yardages in mind so you'll know how much to buy. There are bags of 10 balls and many colourways have multiple bags. The prices are all below retail just to get the stuff sold. Some things are deeply discounted and others not so deeply. There is lots of Briggs and Little, Lana Gatto, Lana Grossa, Mille Colori, Twilley Freedom Spirit, ToFutsies sock yarn and many other fine yarns whose names escape me right now. Laura plans to continue the sale until it is all sold. Possibly until the new year. 

I didn't go completely berserk there as I am one of those strange knitters who doesn't usually buy yarn unless I have a project in mind. I did, however, buy two balls each of two different colours of Lana Gatto Feeling (70% extrafine merino virgin wool/20% silk/10% cashmere) yarn with some neck warmers in mind and two balls of Filtes Australian Merino wool in a beautiful burgundy colour for a pair of handwarmers.

I am doing some Christmas knitting (even though I wasn't going to but the Invertible Hat got me motivated) and have already knit one Fetching hand warmer using the burgundy merino. I modified the pattern by adding a couple more cable repeats up the fingers and a bit more length to the thumb including a 1 x 1 rib before casting off. It is going to take slightly more than one ball of yarn.

The next stop was Romni Wools a few more blocks west on Queen St. I picked up some 100% Corriedale roving, some Misti Alpaca sock yarn I finally found after months of looking, and two 50g skeins of Diamond Luxury  Collection Alpaca Prima (100% alpaca) yarn.

Last week I picked up a skein of Regia Galaxy sock yarn at Myrtle Station Wool and Ferguson's. I love how it knits up into what looks like the rings of Saturn. I'm sure my grand-nephew will find them to be both cozy and 'cool'.

All of these projects are relatively quick knits and certainly completeable within a week as long as I do nothing else but knit. Sounds good to me.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Naughty Knitting

Whilst searching Ravelry for Scandinavian mitten patterns, I happened upon this one. I have a nephew who loves to hunt so I decided to knit him a hat with that pattern. I found another pattern that is a basic lined hat with a Nordic star pattern for the public side and the copulating deer on the private side.

Public side                                                                       

Private side
I call it the Invertible Hat.

The Cascade 220 yarn is so soft - not scratchy at all. With the double thickness, it will be a very warm hat.

I found a neck warmer pattern that is to my liking called "Vent d'est vent d'ouest" by Marie A. Boyer. I've cast on the remnants of the mericash yarn left over from the "Scarf With No Name". I have about 150m of yarn which should be enough - I don't need it long enough to cover the head.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

An Evening with Rex Murphy (among other things)

On Monday morning, Skip and I headed to southwestern Ontario to stay with my sister in Petrolia. The next morning (yesterday) we went over to Port Huron (Michigan, USA) to pick up a few things. I have been blessed with a husband who likes to shop as much as I do. I know! A husband who shops? Willingly? We love going to the US and getting items we can't normally get in Canada, especially since our dollar is almost at par these days. On the way back, something happened that I've never experienced before. We were able to drive right up to a customs inspector without any wait! And even though we were over our daily limit, we were quickly waved through.
After a very tasty dinner at Sarnia's hippest Thai Restaurant (and only one as far as I know), South East Café, we hustled over to the Public Library Auditorium to get good seats for our evening with Rex Murphy, political commentator and Globe and Mail columnist. He's currently on a nationwide book tour of major cities and Sarnia. The event was a fund-raiser to promote literacy and after-school literacy groups at six Lambton County sites.

He was introduced by Sarnia mayor, Mike Bradley.

We were then entertained for an hour while Rex spoke in his inimitable way about many topics including former Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood's commitment to education (among other things); former premier Brian Peckford's obscenely expensive and idiotic attempt to make Newfoundland the Cucumber Capital of the World; pivotal speeches of Abraham Lincoln and how they resonated 100 years later with Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and again last year during Barack Obama's campaign, and many other timely/entertaining/amusing/interesting topics.
He is a wonderful speaker and his self-deprecating manner is very engaging. I could have listened to him for hours. Skip beetled up to the front to have Rex autograph his latest book, "Canada and Other Matters of Opinion",  a collection of his Globe and Mail columns from the past few years.

We were so pleased to have had the opportunity to combine an intellectual outing with a trip to my old stomping grounds and a visit with a couple of family members.
After arriving back in the GTA, I went to my embroidery guild this evening. Many members brought finished projects to display.

Alda is an amazing stitcher. She stitched the Sharpei for her son and his wife who live in Spain. Their photo is beneath the stitched picture. She stitched the Chinese characters for her kitchen décor. (click on any of the images to enlarge)
Another member stitched this sampler from the current Just Cross Stitch Christmas issue.

This tiny piece is stitched over one thread and the design is about 2 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Click on it to see the beautiful detail.

Seeing this bell pull reminded me that I have a similar one with stitching completed and ready for finishing. Now where did that thing go?

This reminded me of the "Take Time to Knit" project that sits unfinished. I keep reminding myself that there are no cross-stitch 'police'.


 I saw this one in various states of completion while Marj was stitching it.

This was an unfinished project that is being stitched over one thread at 25 stitches to the inch. I really like the look of the variegated over-dyed threads.

During the meeting, I worked on the buttonhole border of my Hardanger project. I have a lot of stitching left to do on that one.

I am looking forward to my two guild meetings in December as they're both pot luck dinner meetings.

Knitterly speaking, I have started the 4th ball of yarn on the Every Way Wrap. I got a lot of it done in the car on the way to and from my sister's and when we were watching TV when we were there. I want it finished as  I'm itching to start a couple of mitten projects.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

This year Skip and I made our annual trek into The Big City to go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair or "Royal Winter Fair" as we call it. The entire fair is held indoors at Exhibition Place in the Horse Building, the Coliseum and the National Trade Centre. The GO train is the most convenient and stress-free way to get there.

It is such a treat to be able to go in the daytime now that I am retired. One of the first things we did was go and take a look at the winner of the biggest pumpkin contest. The winner weighed in at 1242.6 lb.

We like to go and see the livestock - llamas, cows, pigs, horses and of course, sheep. This is a Leicester Longwool which was the breed of the year at the 2009 NY Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of weeks ago.

There was quite a display of rabbits. This guy is a Flemish Giant breed. 

There was also a big pile of fleeces including the prizewinners.

I enjoyed biryani and a samosa for lunch and Skip had a lamb pot pie. We got our complimentary potatoes from the Prince Edward Island booth. Then we went to look at the poultry exhibits.

These White Crested geese were among the most unusual we saw.

I also liked the look of the curly feathers on these geese. 

Later, we explored the vendors' area. Skip bought a new (shorter) Italian leather belt crafted in Canada and I bought some pencil roving and yarn from Belle Vallée Wools.

Being able to go on a week day is great - not too crowded. There were lots of school groups there but not so many that we couldn't easily see and do what we wanted. 

One thing we like to do just before we leave is walk through the Horse Building and see where the horses go to be washed. It's brightly lit and the horses seem to enjoy the warm water and the rubbing down. There's also a convenient restroom and the exit is the closest door to the GO train station.

On the GO train ride there and home, I made quite a bit of progress on the first Icewine Mitten. Instead of the corrugated rib cuff, I used my favourite Latvian braid technique. this Jo Sharp yarn is knitting up quite nicely. I forgot to knit the mitten inside out so my floats (strands inside the mitt)  would be at their loosest however it seems to be fitting nicely right side out.

And in further knitting news ... the Every Way Wrap is coming along nicely. I'm more than halfway through the second ball of yarn. This is going to look lovely once finished and blocked. I ♥ this Cascade 200 wool.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Time to Remember

Skip and I went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair today. I'll write more about the fair in tomorrow's post. I didn't make it to a cenotaph or get to see the ceremony on TV from Parliament Hill as I had originally planned. However, we arrived at the fair just as the Remembrance Day service was starting in the western main concourse.

Everything stopped when "The Last Post" began. Then there were 2 minutes of silence followed by a reading of a poem. "Reveille" then sounded followed by "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes (major lump-in-throat at that point) followed by the singing of O! Canada in both our official languages. 30 years of morning announcements with the playing of O! Canada has cemented both English and French versions in my brain and I sang right along with more and more people around me joining in. My eyes welled up with tears. I'm not sure I can completely articulate why other than I'm so glad to be a Canadian, to live in a country where I can get medical treatment and not have to worry about the financial impact it might have on my family, where I am free to express any personal or political opinions whether they are popularly held or not, etc. etc.  I also think of all the moms and dads whose sons and daughters have lost their lives in defense of our country or in alliance with other countries during both war and peacekeeping forays.

Last year, I wrote quite a lot about what Remembrance Day means to me now as a middle-aged, retired person. I'm reflecting on it again today.

It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing at 11am on November 11th. There's always time to remember.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lace and Cables Blanket

I finally finished this (Cable and Lace baby blanket)  project a couple of nights ago and got it blocked. I did a hard wet-blocking and the finished dimensions are 38" x38".

I guess we need to do some repainting on the deck rails next spring!

This baby's parents have been waiting for this blessed event for a very long time and as of last night, are still awaiting his arrival one week after the due date. I had hoped to drop it off this week but have been asked to bring it to my Thursday evening knitting group so will show it off at guild tomorrow evening and at both knitting groups on Thursday and then get it to the parents on Friday.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Highway of Heroes

A couple of years ago, I was driving from Whitby westward to Toronto on the 401. On every overpass, there were fire trucks, police cars and private vehicles stopped, adults and children standing, Canadian flags waving.

It took me a while before I realized I was just ahead of a procession from the Canadian Armed Forces Base at Trenton which was making its way along the 172km route to the Coroner's office in downtown Toronto with the body of one of our fallen soldiers. It was my first time seeing this tribute. It gave me a lump in my throat.

This observance began informally at first. It grew and eventually, as a result of a petition, the strip of highway between Trenton, ON and the Don Valley Parkway was officially deemed "Highway of Heroes". In August 2007, Ontario's provincial government consulted the federal government, municipalities along the highway and the Royal Canadian Legion about the name change. No one opposed the idea. Signs were erected to indicate this.

Canada has sustained a high percentage of casualties on their peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan - 132 to date. Too many young men and women have lost their lives on this mission.

There are Facebook pages where one can get the information about when the next repatriation ceremony and procession will be - usually a day or two after we hear the news of another fallen soldier.

This video is a very moving slide show of the whole procession from the viewpoint of a rider in one of the vehicles.

This Wednesday I will be making my usual 8 week  blood donation and either attending a Remembrance Day service at 11am at my local cenotaph or will be watching it on TV from Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

On Wednesday, November 11, I will remember.

Hardanger Class

Yesterday I took an intermediate Hardanger class from X's and Oh's'  Jo Gatenby at Hedgehog Stitchery. This is the finished item we were striving for:

I got the 'homework' assignment (completing the kloster blocks) ahead of time and spent hours trying to complete it between Thursday night and Saturday morning. On Friday evening, I realized I was probably the only one who got the homework assignment ahead of time anyway and that the other participants in the class wouldn't have done anything on the homework so I relaxed and determined I was ready for any new stuff we would be taught.

We spent the morning stitching kloster blocks and after lunch were instructed on wrapped and woven bars,
woven bars with picots,

split bars with adjoining wraps,

and square filets.

We reviewed dove's eyes and Algerian eyelets with which I'm quite familiar from previous projects.

The red stitching is all I was able to accomplish in 3 hours in the afternoon (!). Clipping and pulling the threads took quite a bit of time as well as a repair I had to make when I pulled one thread too many.

Needless to say this will be an ongoing project.

Hardanger really isn't that tedious, however, I think I should stick to smaller projects in the future if I want to get them done in any reasonable time.

Our next class will be in the spring and Jo will be designing a cat for us with a few more new stitches. I hope we can get the 'homework' at least a week ahead of time.

I have been working on the Every Way Wrap from the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits. It's a very cool pattern because (except for one 1x1 cable) it is totally reversible - the cables and moss stitch appear on both sides. After re-reading the instructions, I realized I hadn't done the ribbing properly. I had just jumped in with K2, P2 ribbing not realizing I was supposed to start with a K3 first. After looking at the project on Ravelry,  I also learned that in the legend, the wrong definitions were placed with the symbols so I had to hunt down and reprint the corrections.


So here it is, restarted with all the corrections made. I'm on the second repeat of the cable pattern. This is my first time using Cascade 220 yarn and I'm liking it so far. To make a smoother garter stitch edge I'm slipping the first stitch purlways with the yarn in front (wyif) on the first stitch of every row. It's a technique I learned knitting all those Estonian lace shawls.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Lehe II - Done!

Monday morning, Anne Marie and I headed to Buffalo for a 2-day shopping trip. I restrained myself somewhat and really only bought things in bulk for which I had coupons. Knitting-wise I didn't go to any yarn shops, however I did purchase the 2010 Knitting Pattern-a-Day Calendar , the Holiday 2009 issue of Interweave Knits and October Issue 18 of Yarn Forward magazine. While perusing the Yarn Forward magazine I was delighted to see an article on Selbu knitting by Terri Shea the author of "Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition" which was on its way to me from the KnitPicks 40% off book sale. There is also an article on Toronto yarn shops.

While away, I ran out of yarn binding off the Lehe II shawl. After getting home yesterday, I finished it up and got it blocked.

I bought these 2' x 2' nifty foam tiles for my lace class blocking demo and they've proved to be quite useful for blocking on Scooter's bed.