Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Cat's Pajamas

When I was in NY state a couple of weekends ago, we did some shopping at JoAnn's Fabrics. I found some very cute fabrics for various projects. Last night, while the wind roared (edges of Hurricane Sandy), I decided to make a pair of flannel pajama pants for myself  using one of the fabrics. It makes me happy just looking at it!

Skip got a couple of shots of me in my dining room sewing room for a project he's doing for an iPhoto class. I ♥ my new sewing machine.
I found this nifty tabletop ironing board on sale at Home Outfitters. It even has a slide-out iron holder!
As much as it's a bit of extra work, I decided to make them with pockets. The exact match of the pattern across the pants was a complete coincidence.
I can wear them with various tops - light pink, dark pink, black, lavender, turquoise (if I find the right shade). They'll be great for bumming around this house this winter.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Evening Sparkle

Back in September, I visited the Belfast Mini-Mills in Prince Edward Island and purchased some silk/alpaca/merino/qiviut roving in blues and purples with some 'bling' in it called "Evening Sparkle".
Since I returned home, I've been working on it at Monday night spinning. A couple of nights ago I finished spinning the singles and started plying (2 ply) and finished plying later that evening. I wound it into a skein with my niddy noddy, gave it a nice bath, rolled it in a towel,  'whacked' it a few times and hung the skein to dry.

Ta da! 480 yards of 'sparkle'.
This time for sure, I'm going to knit something with my handspun.
This afternoon, while watching downloads of the new season of 'Homeland', I finished the second twined knitting wristwarmer - my first completed tvåändsstickning project. The light was really crappy for the photos but you get the general idea.

With stretchy, 'magic' gloves.
They are warm and snuggly on the hands.

I'm not that keen on the bindoff with the white yarn around the top. Next pair, I'll do a complete Latvian braid and a loose bindoff with the contrasting colour.

I could have mirrored the chevron on the cuff - oops!
Here's one in natural light.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Tvåändsstickning is a Swedish knitting term for twined knitting or more literally "two-end knitting", where the knitter uses the inner and outer strands from the same ball of yarn,  twisting the strands between each stitch. It is different from other stranded knitting techniques. The twists build an extra layer of thickness behind the surface of the work, making twined knitting firmer, more windproof, and more durable than stocking stitch.  You can also use one strand in front and one strand in back to make 3D surface designs. Ideally yarn that is 'S-spun and Z-plied' is used as 'S-plied' yarns keep twisting and twisting tighter in the same direction and you lose some of the loft of the yarns and they really twist around each other (like when making twisted cord). It's hard to find 'Z-plied' yarns to buy but it would certainly be easy enough to spin some up by spinning counter-clockwise and plying clockwise - the opposite of most of the spinning we conventionally do.

Twined knitting was originally devised as a reinforcing technique on knitted items that would be used as work clothes, gloves or mittens or other repetitive uses that would normally wear out the woolen fabric. Sweater sleeves would be knit using this technique and once worn out, would simply be replaced with new sleeves.

On Saturday, I took a twined knitting class with Donna Kay of Tree of Life Designs. Ours was only one of several technique classes she was teaching at Rhinebeck.
We didn't have any 'homework' other than to bring 3.25mm dpns. She provided the 3ply sport weight yarn.

First we did a three-strand, long-tail cast-on using two strands of the white and one strand of the contrasting colour.  Then Donna lead us through the basic stitches and some of the decorative 3D stitches including Latvian Braid (which I now know is a type of twined knitting).  We had a particularly adept group of people because everyone was able to complete or almost complete the sample cuff in the time allotted.
Once I got home, I found the appropriate Dale of Norway Heilo yarn (as recommended by Donna) in my stash and began the Larus & Ardea pattern from Winter 2008 Knitty.

I'm pleased with how quickly these are knitting up and look forward to wearing them over black 'magic' stretchy gloves.

Yesterday I blocked the Holden Shawlette that I had finished binding off in the lineup at Rhinebeck. Careful blocking is important to display the lacy beauty in its optimum form. First I wove blocking wires through the eyelet along the 'hypotenuse' (longest side) and up the spine.  I then pinned the ends in place measuring to make sure both sides were the same length.
I then pinned the centre picot of each fan and feather feature along a line with t-pins and then pinned out each individual picot in a curved format with stainless steel (rustproof) dress pins. 
It really didn't take all that long and the final result is certainly worth it.

This pattern is perfect for beginning lace knitters, yet fun and satisfying for experienced lace knitters. It can be made larger by simply doing more repeats of the feather and fan edging before the picot border and beads can be easily added. It's a great shawl for using solid or tonal yarns. I like how it shows off the 'bling' in the Turtlepurl Yarns Moon Beam yarn and it requires also only uses one ball of sock yarn.

I think there will be some more Holden Shawlettes in my future.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Rhinebeck 2012

My intrepid BFFs (Best Fibre Friends), Maureen and Dianne and I travelled to the Hudson Valley this weekend to attend the New York Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, NY. It is my 5th time going since 2007, and is the highlight of my fall fibrey pursuits. If you're interested in reading about my other Rhinebeck adventures, you can check by blog posts for 2007, 2009, 2010 the year of the Broken Toe, or 2011.

I was very careful this time to have my passport in hand and had my US wallet, camera, iPod Touch, electronics and cords in my travel purse. A couple of hours into our 700km trip, I realized I hadn't brought my regular purse containing my iPhone and regular wallet which held about half of my US cash and my debit and credit cards.  Arghhhh!!!  I immediately began having separation anxiety about being without my iPhone. Without a valid credit card, I was certainly not free to make any 'to die for' purchases at Rhinebeck.  Fortunately, Di had a surplus of US cash and a valid credit card of her own so she spotted me enough to tide me over (Thanks, Di!) and Mo put all of our hotel charge on her credit card and I can reimburse her when the amount in Canadian dollars appears on her statement. Phew! Note to self - always keep a credit card in my US wallet - better yet, don't be such a bonehead and leave important stuff at home.

Anyway, we arrived at our destination by about 3:30pm, did some fabric and booze shopping and checked into our hotel. I picked up these cute, cable-knit slippers at Target.

This is the second time we've stayed at the Quality Inn and Suites in Kingston, and it may be our last. It is a better grade hotel than the Rodeway Inn Skytop, but once again, neither of my devices and only one of Mo's devices would connect to the Internet. Also, the restaurant was horribly understaffed and the service was SLOW, even though the hotel management knew it was a BIG weekend and handed out breakfast vouchers to all who checked in. Note to self - investigate other lodgings in the area.

Friday morning, it was raining, but we were going to be inside all day taking classes. Mo took a class on Custom Fitting Existing Patterns by Lily Chin and Dianne took a class in basketry from Wendy Jensen on the Highbush Blueberry Picker/Sock Project Basket. They were both all-day workshops.

My 3-hour class on tvåändsstickning (twined knitting) was with Donna Kay of Tree Life Designs. Donna was a really well-organized teacher of this technique with clear, succinct instructions and by the end of our workshop, most of us were able to complete the twined knitted cuff. Here's mine.

In the afternoon, I drove to a small yarn mill in Red Hook but didn't see anything that 'turned my crank' so I returned to Rhinebeck and parked myself at Samuel's of Rhinebeck to use their Wifi, sip caffe latte, start casting off the Holden shawl I was knitting and await my companions as they finished their afternoon classes.

The next morning, we arrived at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds shortly after 8 and lined up to get in. From past experience, we knew that we had to arrive early to get a parking spot even close to the entrance - a must for periodic unloading of purchases throughout the day. At 8:12, this is where we stood in line for the 9am opening.
I thought I'd make good use of our time in line to continue binding off my Holden Shawlette.

It was at this point I realized I had left my e-ticket back at the hotel. Grrr. (It seems I had not only left my purse in Canada, my brain was there, too).

In front of us was a gal sporting a very cute fleece sweater.
She and her friend were from the Cleveland area and as excited to be there as we were.
She took our photo. Don't we look happy (although a little over-exposed)?
Maureen wearing the Low Tide Cardigan, Dianne and Geri wearing Acanthus shawl
Once inside, I headed off by myself to begin my browsing. Di and Mo went directly to Jennie the Potter's booth where her commemorative Rhinebeck mugs and bowls were being snapped up. I later learned she had completely sold out of her commemorative things and most of her other items by 9:30am! I, instead, wandered to the far side of the buildings and began my methodical system of seeing everything.

The rain from the day before had dried up for the most part and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Some trees were still ablaze with colour.
This photo shows the kind of fairground buildings where many of the vendors are located.
Basically, they are stalls with woodchips on the floor.

One of the buildings had all kinds of breeds of sheep on display. The locks on these Leicester Longwools are about 7" long.
There was also a building just of alpacas.

I attended a sheep auction. The ewe before this one was pregnant with twins and sold for $450.
At our appointed meeting time, I made my way to the 4H building where the kids were selling lunch items, including lamb chili.

There are tons of midway-type vendors down the hill. Food items such as deep-fried dill pickles, artichokes, falafel, etc. are quite popular. In fact, one of the gals from my Friday class, Carin, of Round The Twist podcast, stated that that is the main festival attraction for her!

On the other side of the walkway from the 4H building, a couple of people showed their llamas and answered questions from passersby.
At this point I took a photo of the field where cars were parked. It was only 11am and almost as far as one could see were rows and rows of cars.
I met up with Di and Mo at this point. They were done shopping and were heading into the town to take in the cuteness and specialty shops.

After lunch, I continued on my way, visiting the remaining buildings and booths.

It is a lovely experience to be surrounded by fibrephiles such as myself. It's fun to spot knitwear and try to guess the name of the pattern. It's even more fun to compliment someone on their knitted item (or to receive compliments) or go up and fondle the fabric of the item. Touchy-feely with strangers is all perfectly acceptable in this environment.

I went to the building where the authors were set up for their book-signing but unfortunately, most of them were on their lunch break. I did however, buy 'Reversible Scarves' by Audrey Knight from the Cooperative Press booth. I had just listened to the KnitPicks interview about this book a couple of nights before. Audrey wasn't there but I did get to chat with Alasdair Post-Quinn about his book 'Extreme Double Knitting' which I had purchased last year. He was on his lunch break when I bought it then, too. I told him I loved his patterns and that I had, in fact, knit a capybara scarf using his techniques for the Corvus Scarf. He exclaimed, "Oh YOU'RE the one who knit the Capybara Scarf." I was so flattered that he had liked what I had done. He has recently completed the pattern for another scarf, "52 Pickup" where he charted 52 playing cards and a joker for knitting a scarf. He considers it his 'Magnum Opus'.

I took some photos of a couple of interesting spinning wheels. This booth featured the SpinOlution wheels, one of which my spinnerly friend, Rosemary, has. Hers is the Bee,  the one on the top left. It actually folds down for travel into an airline carry-on bag size.
I took this photo of the Hitchhiker for another spinnerly/weaverly friend, Diane, as she aspires to own one of these someday.
Here are a few more Hitchhikers (in front) and some Ashford Kiwi wheels in the back.
Back at the hotel, I spread my loot out onto the bed. Clockwise from the top left, Knit and Spin stickers above a 0.4 oz. Golding spindle; 4oz. of Bitsy Knits custom carded roving; I ♥ NYS Sheep & Wool Festival sticker; Reversible Scarves book; Swedish weaving boat shuttle; 2 skeins of 50/50 wool/alpaca fingering weight yarn from Twist of Fate Spinnery, LLP of Portland, CT; another skein of light grey fingering weight 100% wool yarn; 4 oz. of Fiber Optic Yarns Tangerine to Ultraviolet Gradient roving; a bag of lavender; a pair of sheeply alpaca socks; some coil-less safety pins; a skein of 100% white sock yarn and several buttons. I'm not sure why I photographed my Acanthus Shawl with my Ravelry button affixed.
That night, I printed the Larus + Ardea fingerless knitting pattern from Knitty, Winter 2008 on the hotel computer and started knitting a pair of wrist warmers with one of the skeins of wool. I realized fingering weight really is too thin and looked forward to starting a pair with some Dale of Norway Heilo from my stash.

Back at home, I was reunited with my purse and iPhone, Skip and Ollie. My memories of Rhinebeck 2012 are printed on my brain. I am already planning next year's epic fibrey foray.

Thanks to Mo and Di for being such adventuresome and amiable companions. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Shawl Collared Cowl

I have started 3 of Alana Dakos' 'Shawl Collared Cowls' after seeing one at Soper Creek Yarn on Saturday.

On the first one, I used Bergère de France Merinos doubled. I'm about half done.
On the second one, tried timiQuipa, 100% baby alpaca, doubled (no photo yet). I'm hoping I won't run out of yarn.

While in Newmarket yesterday for a sewing class at The Quilt Store, I wandered into the back into The Yarn Store and found some Debbie Bliss Paloma, an i-cord type yarn consisting of 60% baby alpaca and 40% merino wool. I used that yarn on the Shawl Collared Cowl III and finished it this evening.
I modified the pattern somewhat by doing a garter stitch edge to prevent rolling, K4 P1 and one less K4 P1 ribbed section. I had the perfect buttons in my stash.

Today, Jennifer and I ventured to the Woodstock Fleece Festival. We had lots of fun. I snagged a couple of colourways of Malabrigo Sock Yarn - Solis and
a new colourway, Ivy. Both are superwash merino wool.
And at the Turtlepurl booth, there was a lovely Holden Shawlette on display in a beautiful plum-coloured tonal yarn. But alas, there was no more of that colourway in stock so I bought the more purple, Inner Peace colourway instead. It is 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon and 5% stellina (sparkly stuff).
I have my Holden Shawlette underway and have several repeats of the increasing stocking stitch to do before I start the eyelet border.

I need to have a couple of projects ready to take to Rhinebeck on Thursday. It's about an 8 hour drive each way and the three of us will be sharing the driving. We'll each have 5 hours and 20 minutes to knit in the car each way.

5 more sleeps!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Post Thanksgiving

I spent a lot of last week getting the house ready for out-of-town guests for the Thanksgiving weekend. It was good to get some stuff cleared out - either to the thrift store or into the garbage and get my office somewhat tidied up so the sofabed could be pulled out.

I did a lot of cooking (for me) on the weekend and we've been enjoying leftovers ever since Sunday. Yum! I can coast on leftovers for about 3 more days.

I'm having lunch tomorrow with a friend who is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. I knit him a soft, light chemo hat with two colourways of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend using Jared Flood's Turn A Square pattern. I'll do a heavier one for the colder weather next. Here it is folded up.
It's pretty big. I'm hoping Robbie has a big head. ;-) (model: Skip)
I had it ready to cast off the last 8 stitches when I realized it was WAY too big so I frogged it completely and reduced the number of stitches. After re-knitting, it's still pretty big (pictured above) but it will have to do. I think there's probably enough yarn to knit a second one.

Tonight, I started Alana Dakos' Shawl Collared Cowl which I had seen at Soper Creek Yarn on the weekend. I didn't have the right chunky yarn in my stash but then realized I could double worsted to get chunky weight so I'm using two strands of Bergère de France Merinos in the Caresse colourway.
I can probably finish it in a day or two.

Today was the October meeting of my spinning and weaving guild, the Shuttlebugs, in the Greenwood Recreation Centre. Carol guided us through our project this month, which was a Christmas ornament using bent copper wire and a few beads.

I really enjoy "Make and Take" workshops.

After a summer of wearing sandals and flip-flops, my heels have taken a beating. It's been too warm to wear socks to bed but I needed something to cover my heels after I put some heel cream on my feet before turning in for the night. So I knit a little heel sock.

Basically, I knit about an inch of ribbed cuff, knit the heel flap, turned the heel, picked up the stitches on the sides of the heel flap, decreased for the gussets and knit a bit more ribbing before casting off.
My toes stay cool and the heel cream stays put.

Ollie (the best cat I've ever had) was a delightful host this weekend and, as usual, charmed our visitors. Here he is catching up on his sleep after an eventful Thanksgiving.
"I use my tail to keep my feet warm!"