Tuesday, 28 August 2012

So Much To Do, So Little Time

Some friends and former colleagues often ask me what I do now that I'm retired (and starting my 6th blissful year of retirement). They know Skip and I like to travel and they also know I like to do some crafty things. The next two months are shaping up to be quite busy. Here is a summary of some of my upcoming activities:
  • making chainmaille jewelry
  • making a blood donation (I'm O+)
  • spinning on Monday nights
  • sewing some dinner napkins
  • finishing knitting a shawlette and a cardigan
  • painting our bedroom
  • taking a full-day course on crown moulding and baseboard installation
  • taking a full-day course on hardwood flooring installation
  • picking up workboots and safety glasses that I'm borrowing for the DIY courses
  • going out-of-town to visit family for 3 days
  • attending the Knitter's Fair in Kitchener, ON
  • my first visit to Scooter at university
  • providing TLC to Skip during an upcoming series of medical procedures. 
  • attending the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival  
  • attending the Spin-In in Campbellford, ON 
  • hosting out-of-town guests for Thanksgiving
  • attending the Woodstock Fleece Festival
  • attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, NY
That pretty much takes me up to the end of October. It's all stuff I really enjoy and so far, I haven't double-booked anything. (I spoke too soon! I did double-book at least one event - D'oh!)

Last week at spinning, I mused that I've been on a yarn and fibre diet as I haven't bought (much) yarn or fibre since the Knitter's Frolic last May.This amused Jennifer as she quickly reminded me that I will be attending at least 5 fibre-y events in the near future which will most certainly break my fibre diet. Considering my current unmanageable stash, I only anticipate 'to die for' acquisitions but one never knows...

If one has a passion to pursue, they will never need to worry about what they'll do in retirement.

In the meantime, I joyfully look forward to all the cool stuff I'll be doing over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 26 August 2012


My long-time friend, Lorna, got married yesterday to John, a guy we all knew in university. It was a joyful occasion attended by their children, siblings and best long-time friends. Most had been friends for almost 40 years or more.

When I learned that the wedding was going to be taking place, I knew I wanted to wear a fascinator for the occasion. You remember fascinators? They were the whimsical items of millinery we first learned of around the time of the Royal Wedding of William and Kate. Of course, my first research attempt was to try and find a good video on YouTube and to google "how to make a fascinator" for the instructions.

I learned that a fascinator is basically a clump of feathers, netting and silk mounted on a piece of felt and then attached to a hairband. There are lots of images here for inspiration.

I couldn't find any appropriate feathers at our local craft stores so last week when Skip and I were cross-border shopping I found the perfect foundation piece. I didn't get a picture but it was kind of like this without the clip, or kinda like this.  I then went in search of some black feathers to add to it as I knew I was going to be wearing a black dress. I found this, a feather floral trim that had some iridescent black wisps of peacock feathers.
I thought I had a couple of thin plastic hairbands at home but upon careful inspection, I realized I had tossed them out in The Great Bathroom Purge a few weeks back when we were emptying our ensuite bathroom for the renovation. So yesterday morning, Francey and I dropped into Shoppers Drug Mart to see if they had a hairband. They had a pack of several of them which were the right colour and thinness.
I got out my trusty glue gun and started fashioning my fascinator. Gluing the feather stem clumps onto the foundation piece affixed to the hairbands approximately where we part our hair. After some attempts, I achieved success. Francey was so intrigued we made her one, too. Didn't we look spiffy?
What impressed us about them was that they were very light, completely inobtrusive, and surprisingly, the hairbands didn't dig into our heads at all! We made quite the stylish impression at the wedding. We're keeping them to wear for other festive occasions.

Oh yeah, and the wedding was wonderful, too. (heart)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Off the Loom

I finished weaving the Faux Berry scarf today. 
I hemstitched both ends.
I still have a bunch of ends to weave in but you get the general idea. The reason the black horizontal stripes look like different widths is because my beating was a bit inconsistent. It turned out a bit more weft-faced than I would have liked. I don't think I'd want there to be any more ends per inch (e.p.i) so I guess I'd have to concentrate more on more gentle beating.
I started twisted fringe. It's rather tedious but I like the result. I'm going to be ordering a fringe twisting device for future fringe twisting.

Here the fringe is about 6" long. I'm going to trim it back to 4" long.

Burberry                                                                                     Faux Berry

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Inaugural Shower

The glass was installed in the shower in our renovated ensuite bath yesterday. I had to wait 24 hours for the silicone caulking to cure before I had the first shower. So promptly at 9:30am today, I hopped in and splashed about. There's lots of room as the enclosure measures 42" x 48".
Having a half-wall with glass to the bulkhead really opened the room up and it lets a lot more light in.
Scooter took the next shower after his run. I gave him strict instructions to use the squeegee on the glass and tile afterwards. He did a good job!

Skip will get to try it out tomorrow morning. The tile on the shower floor (altho' you can't tell from the photo) is 2" x 2" textured tile. It's non-slip.
There is enough of a ledge inside the shower on the half-wall for the soapdish, shampoo and squeegee but I'm hoping to find something to have inside the shower below the line of sight for these items.

I'm looking forward to my shower tomorrow morning again.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Fauxberry and Denim, Yadda, Yadda

A while back I found tartan designer software online. I was intrigued as it looked very user friendly and very applicable to weaving tartans and plaids. I don't particularly like the colours and look of Burberry plaid and find their goods to be ostentatiously overpriced but I thought I'd try to weave a Burberry-esque scarf. Perhaps someone might like it as a gift when I'm finished

I googled a photo of the Burberry plaid and deconstructed it to create the formula.

I ordered some red and black Stroll sock yarn from KnitPicks, was given the tan Kroy sock yarn and found some white Sisu sock yarn in my stash.

I warped it using all four colours as follows:
tan - 2 ends <--float end plus 1
*red - 2 ends
tan - 12 ends
black - 4
white - 4
black - 4
white - 4
black - 4
tan - 12
and repeated once from *
and ended with 2 red and 2 tan (including the float)
When I went to weave it I tried twill and it did not work at all so I took it all out and just did plain (tabby) weave. I found I preferred the look of it fairly firmly beaten so for the weft (to make it look proportional) I am doing 20 tan, 4 red, 8 black and 8 white.
I have learned to carry the yarns up the side wrapping them with the float. I think it's going to look pretty cool.

Initially I hoped for 10 ends per inch (e.p.i.) but I didn't have a 10 dent reed so I switched to a 12 dent reed. Originally I had hoped for a 9" warp on the loom which would reduce to about 8" when taken off but when I had to use a 12 reed it reduced the width. It's about 8" on the loom so will be a bit narrower when it comes off the loom. I will be hemstitching and doing a 4" fringe on each end.

Now that the warping is done and I've re-started weaving using plain weave, it's moving right along. If I do this project again, I'll make the warp wider - perhaps 11" or 12".

In spinning news, Jennifer and I were the only 2 at spinning on Monday - no problem. I grabbed this bag of beautifully dyed Polwarth roving as I was flying out the door to go to spinning. It's 115g - 4 oz. I must have bought it from Heidi at some point.

I like the different shades of blue.
As the colour intensifies when I spin it, it looks like denim. Dontcha like my WooLee Winder? It makes spinning so smooth and winds the bobbins so evenly.
I'm spinning it fairly thinly and plan to 2-ply it. I'm not sure what I'll knit with it when I'm done.

In other news, last night I went to turn on my computer and it wouldn't power up. So I traipsed downstairs to use the PC in the dining room (that Scooter is glued to most of the time he's with us as he's addicted to a video game on it) to discover a sticky keyboard full of crumbs from whatever Scooter has been eating whilst masterminding battles on the video game. Goldfish crumbs, cookie crumbs, etc. After I cleaned the keyboard, the letter 'i' no longer would work. That was a problem for me because my surname begins with the letter 'i'. So I traipsed back upstairs and unplugged my keyboard from the non-functioning PC and plugged it into the other one.

This morning, I took my computer to the repairer and for only $100 he diagnosed the problem, replaced the power source, gave it a good cleaning (there was a massive amount of dust in the CPU) and tested it. It's about 7 years old but still works great (except when some plug and play device craps out on me) so for $100 it'll probably be good for another year.

And the most exciting news of all.... the glass for our new shower was installed today! Yayyyyy!! The silicone caulking needed to cure for 24 hours so tomorrow morning at precisely 9:30am, I'll be taking the inaugural shower. After which, I will practice my squeegee technique. Soap scum be damned!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Being a Copycat?

Mo was over the other night for an evening of sitting and knitting. She was sporting a lovely shawlette that she had knit from some beautiful Handmaiden yarn. Upon inquiry, she referred me to the link on Ravelry - a series of shawls in the Be Mine Collection by Rose Beck. This one is the `And So Are You` shawl.
I have been knitting from my stash lately so I went hunting for some appropriate yarn for the project - something drapey with a sheen. I remembered I had a skein of sea cell that I had hand painted with Sky Blue, Violet and Spruce a couple of years ago.
I like the little `flowers` that are staggered regularly throughout the stocking stitch portion.

It`s been fairly easy to internalize.
One could call me a copycat, but I prefer to think that Mo 'inspired' me. We enable each other. :-)

My Olympic knitting will not be completed by the end of the Closing Ceremonies tomorrow. However, I am pleased with how far I have progressed.

I got the fronts done. I had to rip out and re-kint the decreasing portion of the right front several times before getting it close to matching the left front. I should have just counted the number of rows before decreasing for the armhole the very first time. D'uh!
I then started the back, mirroring the cables as I had done on the front. The pattern calls for a 20-stitch honeycomb feature in the centre which includs one purl stitch on each side leaving 18 sts of honeycomb. However, the honeycomb pattern is in multiples of 4 so I knit 2 purl sts on each side and honeycombed over 16 st for a nice balance.  
I'm about halfway to the decreases for the underarm and raglan sleeves.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Knitting Homage to London 2012

I haven't participated in any Olympic knitting in the truest sense this year. Mo gave me a bunch of this yarn during her de-stashing so I wanted to use it for a lovely, cabled Aran sweater.

So I dug out the Fall 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting - their salute to London - and am doing the cover sweater.

I'm omitting the collar and pockets and making the ribbing on the bottom and cuffs a bit shorter. I'm also doing a v-neck and will do a continuous button/buttonhole band all the way around the fronts and neck as I did with my Must Have Cardigan.  I picked this pattern it for the raglan sleeves 
and interesting cable pattern that has been relatively easy to internalize.
I'm mirroring the cables on the fronts and will do so on the back as well. I have just started the decreases for the sleeves on the right front.
Unlike most pattern recommendations, I like to knit the fronts first. My thinking is that when I start with knitting a front, if I make a mistake while learning the pattern or trying to tweak the gauge, it's a lot less knitting to rip out and re-start than if I did this with the back.

I doubt I will complete it during the span of the Olympics but I have been knitting on it whenever I've been sitting and watching the events. It will also serve as my 2012 sweater.

All the shots of London and the countryside make me yearn to return to the UK. I wish we had enough disposable income that we could send Scooter there for a holiday. He is such a history buff, he'd really enjoy being there. Instead, we're sending him off to university. Hopefully Skip and I can find a nifty tour of England and Scotland for ourselves sometime in the not-to-distant future.

In the meantime I need to finish painting the trim and doors in my lovely new bathroom. I just don't have the inclination to paint today. Mañana.