Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cabled Cardigan

Back in July, I started this cardigan with some Evergreen Aran tweedy yarn that Mo gave me. I modified the Vogue pattern quite a lot. I made the ribbing on the bottom and cuffs about half the required length, I started each row with 1 stockinette stitch to make it easier to sew up later. I omitted the ribbed collar and made a v-neck instead. I did this by decreasing at the neckline at the same time I started decreasing at the underarm for the raglan sleeve. I made the sleeves shorter as I don't like sleeves below my wrists. I also mirrored the cables.
I like to wet-block all the pieces before I sew them up.
Once I sewed it all together, I knit on the button band picking up the stitches in a 3:4 ratio. I picked up 3 stitches and skipped the 4th using the same needle (5mm) that I had used for the rest fo the sweater. This way, the button band lies nice and flat.

After I finished that, I reinforced the stitches along the back of the neck by crocheting inside the line between the back and the neck ribbing a la Yarn Harlot.
I couldn't wait until I bought the buttons to take some photos. I mistakenly made 9 buttonholes instead of the 8 I needed so I just sewed up the hole to look like the reverse stocking stitch it should have been.
I had to do a bit of adjusting the length of the fronts to match the sleeve lengths but things worked out pretty well. 
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Thus endeth the creation of my 2012 sweater just in time for crisper temperatures aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand Rhinebeck! :-)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Where Do I Start?

I've been away at a family reunion for a week. It was a whirlwind trip to the Maritimes. First, I flew my favourite airline (Porter) to Moncton, NB, picked up a rental car and drove to Elizabeth's in Prince Edward Island. I stayed with her and her family for two nights.
We visited the Belfast Mini-Mill, had lunch in their tea room and got a tour of their facility. They were processing a $4500 bag of qiviut that someone had sent them after skinning a hide from a muskox from his herd. Of course, I had to buy some qiviut so I picked up 4 of these 2 oz. bags (called 'Evening Sparkle') containing a sparkly blend of silk, alpaca, merino and qiviut; two for me and two for Mo (who is going through a very difficult time right now).
The next day we went to 'town' (Charlottetown) to do some shopping at Fabricville (the eastern Canada version of Fabricland) and have lunch. At Fabricville, I discovered I could used my Fabricland Premier card. I discovered they were selling fat quarters for only $1.25! So I snagged a few:
We then had lunch and parted ways and I drove downtown. A trip to Northern Watters Knitwear had been recommended. There, I bought a skein of Kidazzle sock yarn. I recalled from my workshop with Cat Bordhi last year at about this time, that she had recommended it.
It was the only skein left. Fortunately I liked the autumnal colours.

I then drove back to New Brunswick to join my family members for our big family reunion. Basically we went from one huge meal to the next over the subsequent 5 days. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to visiting them all again sometime.

On Monday, I drove to Moncton to check out Cricket Cove and bought 2 skeins of tan Opal yarn for my Fauxberry scarf weaving
and a skein of Opal sock yarn in the Vincent van Gogh "Starry Night" colourway for my knitting on the flight home.
I then went to the Moncton Fabricville and found this very Mexican-looking fabric which I may use for place mats and napkins.
I also found this linen/cotton tea towelling. It wasn't as fancy as the stuff I had seen in Charlottetown (and passed up) but I've never seen linen/cotton tea towelling at any Fabricland in Ontario.
On the plane home I finished the second Practice Makes Perfect IV sock,

and this afternoon the second sleeve (and last piece) of my cabled cardigan. Now I just need to wet-block all the pieces in preparation for sewing up and knitting on the button band. This will be my 2012 Rhinebeck sweater if the weather cooperates.
I have tons of housework to catch up on since I got home. The most pressing issue is to get my office cleared out of sewing and knitting stuff and convert it back to an office/guest room.

I acquired a desk today which will make a good sewing table and Skip and I wrangled it downstairs into the basement where my new sewing area will be created.  I have out-of-town guests staying with us over Thanksgiving weekend and this is motivating me to get some things organized to prepare our house for receiving guests.

Skip's radiation therapy has started with 2 treatments down and 13 to go. I am very, very grateful we have skilled practitioners nearby at the cancer unit of the local hospital and that we don't have to get up at an ungodly hour to make the commute into Toronto for his treatments. It's a 10 minute drive for us and I have found a place where I can legally park on the street only a couple of blocks away. Things could be better but they certainly could be a lot worse. Skip went golfing after today's treatment and has a tee time arranged for after his treatment tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sewin' 'n Stuff

Yesterday I made three straight-sided cosmetic bags using this tutorial. On the first bag, I used low-loft fibrefill quilt batting.

On the next two, I used light fusible interfacing.
 Then I headed off to spinning for the evening. There were 8 of us who showed up - all doing various things. Jennifer and I were spinning/plying on our Ashford Joy wheels. Rosemary was spinning on her funky, new SpinOlution wheel which looks like this when just pulled out of the bag and like this when ready to spin. Diane was combing some fibre in preparation for spinning and Cheryl was getting re-acquainted with her Ashford Traditional wheel she hasn't used much in the last couple of years. Donna showed up to just sit and knit. Eleanor was drop-spindling some of the fibre from sheep from Windreach Farm and Karen was spinning and at one point, teaching an inquisitive little girl how to knit while her little sister did cartwheels nearby. It was a happy gathering where we shared ideas, fondled fibre and thoroughly enjoyed all the processes that were being undertaken.

After I got home from spinning, I gave a bath to the skein of Polwarth hand-dyed yarn I had finished plying earlier. The 115g skein yielded 582 yards of two-ply. Jennifer calculated that it was light fingering weight. I really liked the denim-y colours.
Now I need to find the perfect pattern for a stole or shawl.

This afternoon, I thought I should make myself a cosmetic bag with the fabrics I selected last week. I was inspired by this photo. I liked the curve on the top of the bag and devised a way to scribe it drawing an arc using a pencil and a piece of string. I thought it would look nice if I centred the pattern I created on the fabric and cut out the outer and inner fabric pieces. I then cut out the fusible interfacing leaving a 1/4" margin all the way around.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Knitter's Fair 2012

Last week, I went to my old home town to visit my sister, her daughters and their families. I also went to the U.S. to see what fabrics I could pick up at Mary Maxim and JoAnn's that would augment my stash.

I found the espresso fabric that would match my new bathroom and the contrasting pink lining fabric for a cosmetic bag.
This fabric is good to line projects.
I liked these fat quarters and black/white fabrics, too.
These charm packs (5" x 5" precut squares) were on sale.

And in the discount area, this needle case was 40% off - supposedly Vera Bradley-esque. It is also the prototype for some needle cases I will be sewing.
These #3 Perle Cotton skeins were in the 'overstock' bin and also deeply discounted.

Back in Canada, I visited FabricLand to see if there were any good sales. This fabric looks like cut out pattern pieces
and this fabric shows various types of embroidery knots.
Brocade was on sale so I snagged some to perhaps make some knitting needle cases or jewelry bags.
Saturday morning, I dropped into the Knitter's Fair sponsored by the Kitchener/Waterloo Knitters' Guild on my way back home.

While there, I saw several knitterly acquaintances - Anne Featonby, Laurie Goldiuk (both of whom were on the UK knitting tour with me last fall), Jennifer Barnim and Stephanie Grace (local knitterly friends). Spinnerly friend, Jody vanD was at the Hubbert Farms booth selling her lovely alpaca handspun and some knitted items.

The catered food was excellent! It was a year ago now that Marion and I were on the UK knitting tour.

Anyway, I picked up this bag of SW merino mill end roving (160g) from The Black Lamb.
These two braids of BFL called to me.

My penchant for purple lead me to this CEY Silky Alpaca Lace.
This silk lace yarn would make a very nice woven scarf.
And in the discount bin (I'm all about the discounts), there was this hand-dyed silk/linen blend. 'Twould make an excellent warp for some weaving project or other.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

Today is the unofficial end of summer, marked by the beginning of another school year. Back when I was teaching, it was always a busy time - a time where I'd go from the idle of the summer to the red line of the first few days of the semester (using tachometer terms). I would run at full throttle from the Tuesday after Labour Day until the last teaching day in June with a few breaks for holidays and R & R in between. Then I'd get my life back for July and August.

Today marks the beginning of my 6th year of retirement. I do not miss one thing about my former career. I am still in contact with many of the people I used to interact with and have developed lots of interests which seem to fill my day and more. I do not miss the stress, being verbally and emotionally abused by poorly socialized teenagers, unreasonable demands by administrators, and the constant quest to make my students' learning more effective. Don't get me wrong, there was no other work I would have rather been doing those 30 years. But I was certainly ready to 'do other things' when I retired.

Today I attended a "To Hell With The Bell" luncheon sponsored and partially subsidized by a retired teachers' organization to which I belong. There were a few dozen newly retired teachers and lots of other retirees - over 100 of us in all. It was quite a joyous occasion where we celebrated making it to the 'finish line' with 'all our marbles'.

One new retiree shared her nightmare that she had on Sunday night that she was being confronted by her principal (a bully) and after some unreasonable demands by the principal, to which the retiree reminded her that she was retiring, the principal ordered her out of the school saying something like, "Don't ever come back here again". To which the retiree quickly said, "OK" and happily skipped off into the sunset. Skip had teaching nightmares for over 10 years after he retired. We decided that he (and the recent retiree above) were suffering a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Happily, Skip's nightmares are very rare and I was fortunate to never have had any such nightmares (that I remember anyway).

Anyway, we are all free of our shackles and blissfully enjoying the rest of our lives.

I never knew how wonderful autumn was until the two years that we were participating in a provincial political action movement and on strike the following year. For the first time in over 40 years, I got to be outside in the fall during the daytime. It was amazing! The sun was warm and golden and the nights were crisp. I then realized that it truly was "the most wonderful time of the year" weather-wise. And now, in retirement, it is even more wonderful to not have to go back to work the day after Labour Day.

To occupy myself this afternoon, I spent some time online looking at winter vacation rentals in the sunny southern US and looking at the Rams and Yowes pattern for a beautiful blanket knit with Shetland wool. Within the next day or so I'm going to have to decide whether I'll order a kit or scrounge for the required yarn in by means of various destashings. I'm working on editing a bunch of photos from a wedding I attended recently and planning what items I'll take to Scooter at university when I pass through Guelph this Saturday on the way back from the Knitter's Fair. Skip and I are going to a 'cheap Tuesdays' movie tonight and afterwards, I need to pack for a visit to my sister's to see her, the family, and some friends this week.

And people wonder what we retirees do with our time...