Sunday, 25 April 2010

April Embroidery Guild Meeting

This month's meeting of the Trillium Embroidery Guild wasn't a 'lesson' meeting. We just worked on our own projects and looked around at what others were working on.

Here are some projects that are underway:

This will look like a painting when it is done.

This heart is stitched over one thread with overdyed yarns.

This is stitched on linen and is beautifully intricate. This photo does not do it justice.

Many of the guild members are stitching this kimono project using a variety of threads - cotton, silk, metallic on mono canvas.  I opted out of this project but the ones that I've seen being worked on are stunning.

This is being stitched on black fabric - VERY hard on the eyes but it will be very striking when it's finished.

This banner was stitched by guild members a few years ago. We are the Trillium Embroidery Guild so the theme for the banner was stitched squares reflecting Durham Region, Ontario or Canada.
I just realize I forgot to take a photo of the cars square. That is certainly representative of Oshawa.

There were three trillium squares.

And some lovely bullion-stitched flowers.

Here are some Canadian critters.

This one was stitched over one thread.
The pines represent Canada; the trilliums, Ontario and the marigolds, Whitby.

And these are just beautiful, embroidered, drawn thread squares

Friday, 23 April 2010

Third Time's the Charm?

I have been knitting sleeves; three of them, in fact. The first was the 'gauge swatch' for the sweater. It was going along swimmingly until I realized it was going to be about 3" too long. The second sleeve was coming along nicely until I realized I wanted the cuff to be 4 stitches bigger to accommodate the shorter sleeve. So I am now happily knitting the third sleeve and hoping it will be right. I'm going to take 2" out of the stocking stitch grey part and 1" out of the black stocking stitch near the top of the sleeve.

I'm quite intent on finishing the St. Moritz sweater because I've decided to enter it in the local spring fair. That, and a few other of my knitted items. Maureen, a fibre friend, is going to enter some of her knitted items, too, so we're getting all excited with the planning. We've both registered and are now awaiting our entry tags which will be affixed to each item with 4" lengths of the yarn that were used in each project. The prize winnings are as follows: 1st Place - $5; 2nd Place - $4 and 3rd Place - $3. We'll even be competing head to head in a couple of categories. What I really, really, really want to win is one of those honkin' rosette ribbons. We're also looking at other nearby fairs in which to enter our stuff and have found that the Roseneath Fall Fair has some pretty cool categories, including one where I could have some of my handspun judged.

Today is my birthday and I've been having a wonderful time. Skip outdid himself this year with my presents. I'm hard to shop for because I already own everything and am quite particular about many items that I still want. His gift choices certainly demonstrated that he really does listen to my prattling on about stuff.

Dish soap, you say? Well we were doing grocery shopping the other day and I mentioned that I really like Dawn dish soap but don't buy it for myself because it's too expensive. He filed that little factoid away in his head and surprised me today with a whole bottle of it! It's also good for soaking yarn before dyeing it. Then at Easter, I mentioned that I like the white chocolate almond bark so Skip filed that away in the recesses of his brain, too. But the most surprising thing was receiving the bird book! If you look closely it's "Guía de campo a las aves de Norteamérica". It's in Spanish! How cool is that? The story behind this gift goes back to when we were in south Texas in February. The gift shop at the World Birding Center on South Padre Island has a very nice gift shop. Both Skip and I have the English versions of this book  (two different editions) - it's an excellent birding guide as it has actual photographs of the birds rather than drawings. I remarked that it would be neat to have it to learn the bird names in Spanish. Not only are they in Spanish and of course the Latin names are there too, the English is there as well. And voilà! It pays to let people know what you want. He's so thoughtful. I have already learned that woodpeckers are called carpinteros (makes sense, right?) and warblers are called chipes.

Aside from all the wonderful birthday wishes I've received both as cards and on Facebook, I got a long, newsy e-mail  from one of my favourite former students whom I haven't seen nor heard of since about 1985! A couple of weeks ago I was looking through some old photos so I could scan them and upload them to the reunion webpage of the school I taught at in the 80s before moving here. I googled this particular student's name and was very pleased to find someone with his name with a photography website. On closer inspection, I recognized a portrait of his father and instantly knew it was the same student I had taught 25 (!!!) years ago. Well today, he checked that e-mail account and was very surprised to hear from me and send an awesome response.

And here we were.

We were all dressed up to play in a pit orchestra for the local glee club's production of 'Camelot'.

Boy, it's amazing how much one ages in 25 years. Sheesh!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Family Tree

In 2008, I visited the graves of both sets of my maternal great-grandparents in Mt. Whatley, NB and Murray Corner, NB respectively while in the area with Francey and Lorna. All the cemetery information was available online so between that information and GoogleMaps, I was able to find the old cemeteries without too much trouble, although the church was long gone from the site of my grandfather's parents' cemetery.
Skip has been spending lots of time researching his parents' ancestors and it inspired me to do more research as well. I keep finding out more and  more information and have been able to trace my grandfather's ancestors back to the 1700s in Yorkshire, England. They came to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the 1770s during a great migration from northern England.

Then I found a new (to me) website that has my grandmother's ancestors catalogued and quite a bit of information about dates, marriage dates and burial places. When I clicked a link for my great uncle, Carl (my grandmother's brother), I learned that not only had he died at only age 20, it was on 12 April 1917 in France. He was in the 42nd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Quebec Division). His date of death is significant because it was on the last day of the battle at Vimy Ridge. I'm not sure he was at Vimy Ridge as the cemetery at Wimereux where he is buried is quite a distance from Vimy. However, it sure is a coincidence. Another surprise was when I learned that John McCrae (who penned the famous poem 'In Flanders Fields') is buried at Wimereux, too. Note: I've now had it confirmed that he was injured at Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917 and died 3 days later.

My friend, Suzanne, recently sent away for a copy of the page from the WWI Book of Remembrance that contained her great-uncle's name. She said she was very impressed with the copy which she received last week. I, too, ordered a copy of the page with my great-uncle's name.

One reason that I was surprised to learn the Carl was buried in France is because his name is on his parents' headstone in the Mt. Whatley, NB cemetery.
Isn't it cool that my great-grandfather was Charles Brown? Charlie Brown????

The records from that era are very accurate and a matter of public record. They are largely based on the census between 1851 and 1901. Also, most church and county records have also been incorporated into the data base I was using. I learned that my grandmother was 8 years old for the 1901 census so was able to finally confirm her birth date of 4 March 1893. However, her wedding date was not included so I will have to do more searching. I assume she and Grandpa got married at the Mt. Whatley, NB church (where the cemetery is).

I will try and get access to the church records some way. I believe they married in 1915 or 1916 but am unsure of the accurate date.
It was such a beautiful day when we visited there two years ago. I hope to visit there in the next couple of months, this time with my sister.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Next Step

I got the red lice stitched late last night. I didn't take pictures today in the good light so just have lousy flash photos.
Here's  a closeup. You can see the zigzag of stitches inside the back of the sweater. The red 'lice' are below the colourwork on the shoulders.
I have started in on a sleeve. I'm just above the cuff at the first increases. On the test sleeve below, I am only going to frog back to where I want the two colour work to start making the grey stocking stitch two inches shorter. That way I won't have to reknit the cuff and 7" of grey stocking stitch.
Today Skip and I ventured westward to the Pickering Flea Market in search of biryani for lunch. Skip had some last Monday in Toronto at a food court before the Jays' season opener and wanted to repeat the experience. We had a delicious lunch and each added a samosa to our biryani. Mmmm.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

St. Moritz Body - Done!

I finished the body of the St. Moritz sweater this evening. I'm in the process of duplicate stitching a couple of rows of red 'lice' because I didn't want to carry the red yarn every 8 stitches. Here it is before the duplicate stitching of the 'lice' just below the grey stitches below the gold line at the top. I'll post a shot with them done mañana.
I tried for a somewhat arty shot here:
I still am not thinking about the steeking - I've put it out of my mind. I need to get the two sleeves knit first. I'm also concerned that it might not be long enough. However, I can always cut it in the middle of the grey stocking stitch and insert an inch or two. We'll see how much grey yarn is left after I knit the sleeves. I'm going to block it first and see if I can add some length that way.

Today I got an email from that I get a coupon for $10. I'm not sure why. I paid $10 for the .pdf download of the Commemorative Booklet 8502. I'm not sure why I'm getting a credit. However I did see these nifty patches on their website that could be added to future Dale of Norway sweaters. I may even knit one for myself - most probably I'd modify it to be a cardigan.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Short Row Heel with NO Wraps

I have been a sock knitter for 3.5 years and still get panicky when I have to knit a short row heel. There's something about the wraps that confound me. I guess I haven't found a good enough video on YouTube to explain it. However, today I stumbled upon a way to do short row heels that doesn't involve wraps. It's awesome and easy! It is Pricilla Wild's method (find it here) explained by Charisa Martin Cairn. I do like the 'eye of partridge' heel that I usually do but now I'm going to try this heel.

Last night at our knitting guild, we received information and directions about our upcoming knitting retreat from April 28 - 29 at Elim Lodge on Pigeon Lake. It's about 2 hours from Whitby. I'll be doing at least one demonstration - knitting Latvian Braid.

Here are a couple of lovely completed projects that we saw last night.

This is Sharion's poncho that started out as a sweater 2 years ago. She changed colours of yarn every other row and figures she used 64 different colourways. Some of them included very fine yarns knit together as three. Sharion talked about the challenges she had with her design and how she solved them.

This is the front.

She was kind enough to model it for us.
And the back was even more stunning.

Margaret spent some time in chilly Florida this winter but did manage to get a couple of quilts pieced. She calls herself a 'topper'. Her sisters will be the lucky recipients.
She has found a place in Panama City that will do the actual quilting by machine with only about a two week turn-around.
 She did manage to get a snuggly, worsted weight cardigan knit as well.
I'm seeing a lot in the press about the new iPad and how it will be a few months before it will be released in Canada. At our Mac User's group last week, we actually got to see one 'in the flesh' as our guru, Aaron Vegh, had made the trek to Buffalo the weekend before on the release date and picked one up. He is a software developer and just had to have one in order to start writing apps. I'd be happy to get the 32GB iPod Touch. My Tungsten T3 Palm isn't holding a battery charge like it once did and it looks very 'clunky' compared to the recent PDA/phone/mp3 players. Wouldn't it be nice if Skip and I won the lottery right about now?

One more thing - if you're looking for some of that wacky Shoppel Wolle Zauberball, I believe it is being sold in Bowmanville at Soper Creek Yarn. The owner blogged about it today

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Progress Report

I am starting Round 69 of 106. It is the last round with two colours until Round 89 - perfect for taking to my knitting groups. I should be able to manage simultaneously yakking and knitting stocking stitch using one colour. 

Once done the body 'tube' I'll have the two sleeves to knit. I'll have to do a bit of math to figure out how frequently to do the increases on the sleeves to get the right armhole depth. But I just deal with one thing at a time.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Little Wee Socks

Fred and I are going to be visiting friends of ours and their new baby, Nate, who was born in November. From what I've seen of him (his photos on Facebook), he is adorable. I knit him this blanket last fall but thought he'd need some more knitwear so I knit him a pair of sport socks to take when we go visit.
 They're nice and warm and soft. Nate's mom will appreciate the washable wool.

I"m on row 62 of 106 on St. Moritz. The two-colour pattern is much less intricate the higher I get on the front. I'll be glad to get the body done as it's starting to get quite cumbersome having it on my lap and having to constantly be turning it as I knit around.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

♫ Just Keep Knitting, Just Keep Knitting ♫

I continue to work away on St. Moritz. The town is 200km SE of Zurich, Switzerland. The Dale of Norway sweater has 106 rounds of the color work which comprise the top 2/3 of the body and sleeves.I just finished round 52. This is the official sweater of the Norwegian National Ski Team for the 2003 Alpine World Championship.
Now visible are the 'high snow-covered peaks'. In the centre of the chest is the famous 'Edelweiss flower'. On either side of the flower is the cross from the Swiss flag.
On either side of the body and on both sleeves (one pictured below) the four-leafed rose represents the four languages spoken in Switzerland -- German, French, Italian and Romansch.
It's taking a while to get done, but the two-colour work in each round keeps my interest.  Whenever I get nervous about having to do the steeking for the sleeves, I just put it out of my mind. I will deal with cutting the finished body tube when I get to it.

Oh yeah, and this came in the mail the other day.

It's the little patch that will be stitched onto the left sleeve.

I still have wanted to get my hands on the out-of-print and sold out Dale of Norway Commemorative Issue 8501 featuring Whistler (made popular most recently by the YarnHarlot during the 2010 Knitting Olympics) and 4 other lovely sweater and hat patterns. Whilst reading a posting on the Dale of Norway group on Ravelry, someone suggested e-mailing the company indicating an interest in obtaining a copy of the booklet. The hope was if enough people contacted them, they might reprint that booklet and issue it for sale.

Much to my surprise, I received an e-mail from Larissa at that the .pdf downloads of this booklet were now available for $10US. Woo hoo! So quick like a bunny I purchased the download and it is now safely stored on my hard drive.

I have now decided that my favourite pattern from this booklet is Le Massif 2004 8501-3. Trees, mountains, ram's horns, snowflakes... what more could one want in an Alpine sweater pattern?

I have got about 1/3 of the Sweet Eleanor hat done using Ravelry red Malabrigo worsted.
I pick it up whenever I need a break from St. Moritz.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

St. Moritz... Progressing

The St. Moritz sweater I'm knitting is coming along nicely. I'm knitting the crewneck version but I've been given strict instructions not to make the neck too high or too tight.
Here it is so far. It's knitting up very quickly now that I'm into the colourwork which I find much more interesting than the grey stocking stitch.

I've just started the star pattern at the centre front. Instead of carrying the white yarn all around the round or duplicate stitching, I'm actually able to do an intarsia technique.

Basically, you knit the first round with the background colour and use white yarn where it is required. On the next round, knit the background stitches as required and slip the stitches that should be white, then turn the work and purl the white stitches back where the slipped stitches were left and slipping any background stitches, thus leaving the background yarn beyond the intarsia section and working back with the right yarn to leave it at the beginning of the intarsia section. Once all the white stitches have been purled where the stitches were slipped, leave the white yarn, turn with right side facing and slip all the stitches of the intarsia section until you catch up to the background yarn again and continue the round.
I am doing the XS size, in hopes that it will be about 44" as a finished size. However, it will be more like 46" after all. That will create 7" of positive ease and make it a nice, comfortable sweater. I also shortened the grey stocking stitch by 2" before starting in on the colour work - the row with the red stitches. I am using one of Skip's favourite sweaters for my measurements. I still need to frog the sleeve I knit last week and shorten it by 2" as well. However, if things keep progressing at this rate, I could have the sweater all knit in a week or so.

I was really excited that I found the Dale of Norway St. Moritz patch for sale on eBay and I have ordered it. It will look very spiffy sewn on the left sleeve.

I took my car in to the dealership today for a diagnosis on the creaking sound that developed on the weekend and the squealing brakes. A new strut has been ordered for the front left wheel and a new brake caliper for the left rear brake. I will be without a vehicle tomorrow but hope to get the car back sometime Friday morning. I got a name of a body shop a former colleague recommended so will take the car in for a quote on some rust repair. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be less than $500. I will have had the car for 9 years in June so I'm don't want to put a lot of money into it, but getting these repairs done is a heck of a lot cheaper than having to buy a newer one.

So.... my yarn buying may be curtailed for a while but that's OK, I have several projects on the go that can be finished once St. Moritz is done and I have a couple of other stash-busting ideas in mind.

One in particular is this nifty Red Bird Knits October 2008 Sock of the Month pattern called Latvian Dances I snagged the other day at Never Enough Wool in Port Perry. I have some brightly coloured Kroy socks yarn and some black sock yarn that will be perfect for this pattern. The pattern calls for Arequipa yarn but after my beautiful Embossed Leaves socks felted, I'm reluctant to use it for anything requiring any kind of stitch definition.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Warm Weather! Random Stuff...

We had record-breaking warm weather this weekend. It was so nice to be outside in capri pants about 2 months before it is my usual attire.

On Saturday, I drove into The Big City to have brunch with Alexa, whose vocal recital I attended a couple of weeks ago, and Paul, whom I haven't seen in 16 years. I taught them in the 80s and they both majored in music in university (not that I had much to do with that). Paul attended my alma mater - the centre of all learning in the universe - the University of Western Ontario - and Alexa went to the University of Toronto. It is so nice to just pick up where we left off and get caught up. We had a great time. After eating, we wandered along Bloor St. and helped Paul tackle a few items on his shopping list.
Alexa accosted some kid on the street and asked him to take our picture.  I then bid my farewells and walked over to pick up Scooter at his mom's and we made our way out of the city and home. It is way nicer driving in The Big City on weekends when the traffic is a fraction of its usual volume.


When I step out my front door at home I hear this guy singing his little lungs out.

He's our resident house finch. I love how he looks like he's been dipped in raspberry juice.


On Thursday, the yarn for Skip's St. Moritz sweater was delivered and I started in on the sleeve. I have gauge on the solid stocking stitch but when I go up a needle size for the colourwork it really lengthens the row count.

I'm going to have to re-knit the sleeve eliminating 2" of the grey stocking stitch. Otherwise, they'll just be too long.

I'm also going to not increase as quickly in the sleeves as the pattern calls for (every 4 rounds) so they won't be so wide at the top.

I'm very glad I ordered an extra ball of the grey because I'm definitely going to need to use it.

I'm also shortening the body of the sweater by 2". I have about 7" done and will do two more inches before starting the colourwork. The stocking stitch is mind-numbing but I can read while I do it. I'll be really glad to start into the colourwork, though.

I watched a whole bunch of videos on how to do steeks and am fairly confident that I'll do an adequate job. I'll just "measure twice and cut once".

Look What I Made!

I've been wanting custom labels to sew into some of the knitting items I completed. While reading someone's blog, I came across this tutorial by Grumperina on how to make custom labels. All you need is iron-on transfer paper, an inkjet printer, a hot iron (no steam), satin ribbon (I used 7/8" but thinner would work, too) and Fray Check (I couldn't find mine so I used clear nail polish).
 They were easy-peasy to make once I got the hang of figuring out how to print a mirror image (Printer settings/Properties/Basics/Mirror Image) and also peeling off the transfer paper while the label was hot. I think they'll be an excellent and inexpensive way to personalize my knitted items. The recipient's name could be put on the label as well as the washing instructions (see bottom label).