Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Transatlantic Knitting

I have carried knitting aboard every flight I've taken for years except one. Once, while flying out of Tampico, Mexico, I was prevented from taking my dpns in my hand luggage. They were kind enough to retrieve my suitcase so I could stuff my knitting in there.

However, I haven't taken any overseas flights since I started knitting obsessively. I know airline security to the UK can be quite stringent so I spent a good chunk of this morning looking for wooden-tipped 2.25mm circular needles in abandoned UFOs so I could use them with my Chrysanthemum mittens I plan to work on whilst flying.

At long last, I found the circs I was looking for in some Spyrogyra socks (based on this wristwarmer pattern). Huzzah! I quickly transferred the second mitten's cuff to the wood-tipped needles.
I'm going to pack my other knitting project (mock cable sock) in my hand luggage because they've got metal tips and I can't find my equivalent wooden ones - if I even have 2mm wooden-tipped circulars. That red thing is a 'spork' which can sometimes come in handy whilst eating in non-typical eating places.
I got some UK cash from the local money exchange. Marion's bank advised her that the money exchange gives a better exchange rate than the bank.
Did you know that banks charge $3 plus 2.5% on every credit and debit transaction made outside of Canada? That doesn't include the exchange rate OR the fee the bank machine charges where you're using your card. Before you travel, check with your bank and see what their rate is. It might make you a believer in cold, hard cash. And if you do need to get cash from a bank machine, take lots out to make the ATM fee take a smaller percentage of your money.

One more travel tip... contact your bank to let them know when and where you'll be travelling. Unless they know you'll be abroad, they may fail to authorize a purchase when you really need it.

I'm pretty well packed. I just have a couple more things to pop into my suitcase and I'll be on my way.

Monday, 29 August 2011

One More Sleep

Marion and I begin our UK knitting odyssey tomorrow evening, wedged into an AirTransat Airbus A310. I refused to pay to get my seat assignment so am waiting 'til this evening and am hopeful Marion and I will both be able to get aisle seats.

I tend to procrastinate a bit with packing but for once, I got started on it today.We will be away 10 nights so I'm trying to take the minimum amount of clothing for that length of time. My companions will be seeing me wear some things a couple of times. We are fortunate that we'll be staying 4 nights in each of two hotels so anything I hand-wash should have plenty of time to dry.

AirTransat also has minimal luggage allowances. 25kg for checked luggage and 5kg for hand luggage. I can't even use my nifty rolling hand luggage that I just acquired for my cruise last May. I bought a small rolling backpack last week but returned it because it weighed 4lb of the 11 lb. I'm allowed, I returned it and will be making do with my non-rolling backpack.

The temperature in Glasgow over the next week or so is in the 50sF (low teens Celsius) and in the 60s (high teens C) in London so I guess I'll be wearing long pants again - sigh. Except for one night at the cottage last week, I haven't worn long pants since May.

I find I don't remember a lot of details after I read or listen to a book so I tend to not listen to anything 'heavy' if I'm going to be interrupted a lot. I've been ripping CDs onto my iPod Touch - the only bagpipe CD (to get me in the mood) that I own and some short-chapter books from the library. I don't read a lot of print (except on my computer screen) but try to listen to books while I'm trying to fall asleep or whilst I'm knitting. About the only book I can remember reading in the last few months is "The Help", which I read a couple of weeks ago after seeing the movie. It is a good read. But alas, I don't take the time away from my knitting and spinning to read. Some people like to read, some people like to knit, some people like to cook. To each their own preference.

I'm guessing any knitting materials required will be provided for the workshops we'll be attending. I'm only taking two small projects to work on - my sock I started yesterday and the Chrysanthemum mittens.

One more sleep!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Mock Cable Socks

I have been thinking about knitting something with mock cables since I happened upon them in Lily Chin's "Power Cables" book.I decided to design a sock using the mock cable and stagger them on the leg and instep.
I'm using Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine sock yarn. I haven't had a lot of luck washing alpaca socks so will always wash these by hand.

Lily Chin's pattern is written for flat knitting so I modified it for knitting in the round. Basically, in a K3, P1 pattern, instead of doing a cable by reversing the order of the stitches, the mock cable is done by slipping the first st knitwise with the yarn in back, knitting the next two and then passing the slipped st over the two knitted ones. Yes, there is one less st per cable, however in the next row you simply knit a stitch between the two stitches embraced by the psso by knitting into the back of the slipped loop. Confused?? Check out the cable pattern in my Notes here.

This project will also be one (fairly mindless) that I can take with me on my UK knitting tour. Two more sleeps! I'm thinking I'll take the Chrysanthemum mitten project, too.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Skip and I were invited to our friends’ cottage this week. In Ontario, we call it a cottage, just about everywhere else it would be called a ‘camp’. We took tons of food and I took lots of knitting projects.

I spent considerable time sitting out on the deck looking at the spectacular view.
One of the projects I have been puttering away at is my sock yarn blanket.
Each square is about 3" so it is about 18" x 18" so far. A few of my knitting friends want to knit their own sock yarn blankets so I wrote up the pattern for them. Basically it’s a 41 stitch mitered square with a double decrease (slip 2 together knitwise, knit the next st, pass the two slipped stitches over the slipped stitch) on the centre 3 sts. Anyone who has knit socks will have lots of leftover yarn for the project. We may also do some yarn swapping to add more variety.

One very nice thing about doing mitered squares it that you knit the next square onto a previously knitted one so there is no sewing up at the end. And if you weave an end as you pick up the stitches along the edge, you will have fewer ends to weave in when you’re done.

Another project I started on Sunday was the Chrysanthemum mitten. I picked a charcoal MC and a variegated yarn (Sandnes Mini Palett Superwash) for the CC.
I knew the picot edge would flare out a bit but I’ve never done it on a mitten before so I thought (for a change) that I’d strictly adhere to the pattern instructions. I like the way the cuff with the alternating colours hugs the wrist.With blocking, things should even out nicely.

Here's a closeup of the 'chrysanthemum'.
I got tired of the dark purple so I cut the yarn and wound it off until the pink colour was starting. Other than that, I just let the colours unfold as they came off the ball.
I’m getting ready to start packing for my UK knitting tour and am spending considerable time trying to decide what projects to take to amuse myself. I need at least one ‘mindless’ project - perhaps a vanilla sock of some kind - for social knitting. Then there should be at least one that might be a little more detailed to keep me interested.

I also picked up a project I’d abandoned a couple of years ago - Annie Modesitt’s “Backyard Leaves”, found my place on the chart and knit a couple more rows. This Sandnes Alpakka yarn is very soft and squishy which will be nice against the skin on one’s neck. It doesn’t make a very wide scarf with the DK weight yarn so it would be very appropriate to use worsted or even chunky weight yarn for this project. We’ll see if (when I ever finish it) it blocks out to be a decent size.

... a little later...

I used the term 'cottage' in this post. I grew up in southwestern Ontario and now live in central Ontario. North of us is known as 'Cottage Country'. I have always used the term 'cottage' for a place people go for a holiday usually on a lake or river. There is a building. It can be rustic or it can be fancy. The first time I heard the term 'camp' being used for what I call a 'cottage' was while visiting my cousins in New Brunswick. There is a family camp on Douglas Lake. I visited the camp in the early 80s and discovered it is what I would call a 'cottage. There are great debates about which term should be used.

What's YOUR definition?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Acanthus II

Since finishing the Brideshead Shawlette, I've been working like a fiend on a second Acanthus Shawlette.I'm leaving in two weeks for a wonderful knitting adventure in Scotland and England. I wanted to have a nice scarf/shawlette to wear as the weather can be so cold and chilly in the UK this time of year.

I love the detail of the pattern.
It only took one skein of sock yarn - in this case Araucanía Ranco Solid - with even a bit left over. This 'solid' yarn is really a hand-dyed tonal yarn. And this colourway is perfect for a 'leafy' pattern.

Here's the requisite 'sofa shot' with half a cat.
It can be wrapped around the neck or draped around the shoulders and held with a pin. There is a similar pattern on Ravelry, Semele. It has more of a point to it but I like the leaf pattern on the other side of the short rows. It would be easy enough to eliminate the point by knitting the first row 5 or 6 sts beyond the centre before turning, as was done in the Acanthus Shawlette.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Acanthus Shawlette

I finished the Acanthus Shawlette that I've been working on. It's a pretty fast knit, mostly done while I watched the 11 episodes of Brideshead Revisited that I borrowed from the library.

I call my creation, Brideshead Shawlette.
It's a semicircular shawl with a leaf motif. The two sets of leaves are knitted first. The first chart is of the main centre part beginning with a provisional cast on. There were 12 chart repeats. I only did 10 because I was afraid I'd run out of yarn. It turns out I probably would have had more than enough, but anyway...

Then the decreasing left side is knit. Then the provisional yarn is unzipped and the tapered right side is knit.

After that, I picked up the 142 sts of the edge, knit 6 sts past the halfway point and then completed the stocking stitch section with short rows, consuming 4 sts on each side with each row.
The Berroco Metallic Sox yarn may not have been the best choice of yarn but the shawlette will look nice with jeans. It`s also not the softest yarn - probably because of the metallic yarn (duh). So I have started another one using some Araucanía Ranco Solid sock yarn. It looks a lot leafier. You can see the pink waste yarn from the provisional cast on at the right.

See? Doesn't the green make it look more leafy?
I have more than enough yarn to complete the 12 repeats before the tapering side sections. When I block this one, I won't pull the stocking stitch short row section so tightly. On the blue one, I'm not happy how the bound-off edge is curling in spite of the hard blocking so I'm going to crochet something along the bound-off edge to flatten it out.

Wouldn't this be wonderful with a fingering weight alpaca yarn?

Monday, 1 August 2011

Playing with Yarn - A Pictorial Story

This is spun from some Corriedale fibre. I plied it
and painted it yesterday with russet, spruce and 2 shades of chestnut.
Here it is in a nice skein.
Then I re-skeined it because I love how it looks when it's all blended.
Then I wound it into a centre-pull ball.
I knit the first of this pair of mittens - Cruiser by Cailyn Meyer.
I kept weighing the ball of yarn to make sure I had enough for both mittens. Yay! There's more than enough for both.