Friday, 25 January 2013

Celtic Cables

This tired, old, little pillow was perfect for supporting my lower back when lounging on the 'tryptophan'* sofa but was looking too nasty to have on display.
So I decided to knit a little cover for it. What inspired me was seeing a lovely, knitted  cover on a pillow when I was at The Purple Purl a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to do Celtic cables and at the same time do a bit of a swatch for a cardigan I'm designing. I looked through various stitch pattern books and three of Barbara Walker's treasuries but couldn't find cables in the widths I wanted that consistently went over and under.

I then realized that there were a couple of good cable patterns in the Great American Aran Afghan that I had knit a while back.
Dana Hurt's square had the centre cable I was looking for.

I found almost exactly what I was looking for in the square by Barbara McIntire
except the narrower Celtic cables went over, over, under, under instead of over, under, over, under.

I had to figure out how to correct it. I realized that if I changed it so all the outer cables crossed to the right and the centre cable crossed to the left, it solved the problem. Trace one of the 'ropes' to see the over, under, over, under path.
Here it is with its inspiration...
For the back, I just knit two stocking stitch pieces with 2x2 ribbing with buttonholes. I found the buttons in my stash and stitched them on with the rounded side up so they wouldn't snag as easily on things. I mattress-stitched the pieces together all around, overlapping the two back pieces.
I'm pretty happy with how it looks. With the other pillows, the GAAAfghan and the sofa.
Now to finish designing the cardigan.... I bought the yarn for it today but will save revealing it 'til tomorrow.

*we call it the 'tryptophan' sofa because it has recliners at each end and when one is reclining the effect is like tryptophan, the amino acid claimed to be a sleep aid and is present in turkey meat - hence the desire to have a nap after eating a big turkey dinner.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Socks with Lace Edging and a Bit of a Rant

I finished up these socks this evening while watching the second part of Oprah's Lance Armstrong interview*.
The inset lace band was an easy lace pattern. Using this basic design, it would be pretty easy to insert any 15 stitch (more or less) lace pattern for a custom knit.

The instructions were a little difficult to follow. I basically 'did my own thing' once I realized how the lace travelled across the instep. Increasing on one side and decreasing on the other, keeping the sole stitches as is. A less experienced sock knitter might find the instructions to be quite frustrating and difficult to decipher.

I've some really nice yarn in my sock stash. Now to find another interesting pattern to knit...

*re: Lance Armstrong and those of his ilk. I believe he is sorry he got caught and would have perpetuated the lies had he not been caught. What is it with liars and cheaters these days? Margaret Wente, a columnist with the Globe and Mail gets caught plagiarizing, Chris Spence the director of education of the largest school board in Canada gets caught plagiarizing, Manti Te'o, a promising NCAA football player for Notre Dame and runner up for the Heisman trophy gets caught lying about a non-existent girlfriend and now Lance Armstrong finally can lie no longer about his doping and cheating on every one of his 7 Tour de France wins. Can anyone be trusted any more? I'm not perfect but one thing I am not is dishonest. I'm sure Chris Spence really is a good guy who had a lapse in judgement and took a shortcut by taking someone else's speech as his own. It is unfortunate that he has sabotaged his own career but he really did screw up! I really hate liars and cheaters. Is there corruption in every institution? It really does shake one's faith in all that is just and good.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Golden Globes

Skip and I have been trying to go to all the good movies, especially ones nominated for awards. Last night was the the Golden Globes broadcast so I set the PVR to record all my other favourite Sunday night shows, "Downton Abbey" and "The Good Wife". I then grabbed a couple of balls of dishcloth cotton in contrasting colours and sat down to knit the ubiquitous ballband dishcloth.

First I used 4.5mm needles and had knit about a third of it when I realized the fabric was too dense and I needed to go up a needle size. So I frogged it and hauled out some 5mm needles. Within a couple of hours I had completed it.
It didn't take long for me to internalize the pattern so I didn't have to constantly look at the instructions.
 It was lots of fun. Now I can toss out some of my most sorry-(sorriest?) looking dishcloths.

I like the Golden Globes presentations better than the Academy Awards. The GGs are more relaxed and fun,  and this year Tina Fey and Amy Pohler were amazing hosts. It's interesting that in spite of "Argo" winning the GG for the Best Movie Drama and Ben Affleck for Best Actor, he was shut out of the best actor nominations for the Oscars. Skip and I just saw "Argo" on the weekend and it was an excellent docu-drama. I'm not sure why I wasn't aware of the real plot to get the Americans out but it made for a gripping story. Even though we knew how the story ended, we were all holding our (respective) breaths during the final scenes. As uncomfortable as Tony Mendez (the manager of the caper) was on the stage last night, I was glad to see he's alive and well (retired from the CIA and living quietly in rural Maryland now) and received an ovation when he was introduced.

I think everyone was surprised to see President Bill Clinton on the stage to introduce a clip from "Lincoln". He looks well and has been taking care of himself. Skip noted that if he were to run for president again, he'd surely get elected again. I agree, but I doubt he'd want the hassle in his life at this stage.

I've added a couple more to my 'must-see' list: "Django Unchained", "The Master" as I like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, "Quartet" because I LOVE Maggie Smith, and an indie movie also showing downtown in The Big City called "A Late Quartet" (that's not too confusing...) starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Master (Mistress) of My Domain

I took the plunge yesterday and registered this blog as a domain so the URL is now: . If you're a regular reader, make sure you update with the change. Anyone using the old 'blogspot' URL will be automatically directed to the new one. Unfortunately, in the process, I lost all the 'Stuff I Like to Read' (knitting blogs I read), 'Stitching Stuff' (stitching blogs I read) and 'Podcasts I Enjoy' from the right side of the blog. I don't know if they'll show up or if I have to start from scratch. My 'Followers' disappeared for about a day but have shown up again. I'll give it a couple of days and see what happens.

I finished the first lace panel sock and am loving the soft, squishy-ness of the Regia Angora Merino premium yarn. It's cool how the lace panel grows out of the edge of the gusset and across the top of the foot to the toe.
I think they might pill a bit but will be really cozy on my feet. I have the leg knit and just started the heel flap of the second one. 

I'm in the process of preparing to make a presentation about my fibrey passions (knitting, dyeing, spinning and weaving) to my embroidery guild as this month's member profile. Basically I'm trying to locate some of the key items I've knit, dyed, spun or woven. I love sharing my passion with other interested parties. How knows? Maybe my 'missionary work' will encourage someone else from that group to start knitting.

Skip and I saw 'Argo' today. Before I went I knew it dealt with getting the 6 Americans who were hiding out in the Canadian embassy out of Iran but I really had no idea what plot was hatched to do so. Where the heck was I in the Clinton administration when the information was declassified and it became public knowledge? I do remember hearing the name 'Tony Mendez' but no recollection from that time of what he did. I now want to do more investigation about the event and see if any of them wrote books, articles or accounts from their own point of view. It was a very interesting and gripping movie.

It was 12C today - like a balmy fall day. All the snow is gone. I wore a windbreaker when we went into The Big City today to see the movie and didn't take mittens! If only the entire winter was like this, I wouldn't have to seek the sun during the winter. Speaking of my winter holiday, I'm starting to think about what projects I'm going to take.. I'm assembling some small stitchery projects to take but I also want to choose some knitting patterns and yarn to take.

Monday, 7 January 2013


I wanted to start knitting these socks.
using this colourway.
I started with the 2.75mm needles the pattern calls for but the gauge was too loose. When I went to find some 2.5mm needles, I discovered I didn't have any long enough to knit them with 'magic loop'. I then had to hunt down a 2.5mm circular that was occupied by a UFO.

I found an appropriate one in socks I've been knitting for my friend, Robbie, who is halfway through his 12 chemotherapy treatments (to be finished in April). I only had the toe to finish in one and the foot and toe to finish in the other.

Last night was a big TV-watching night with the one hour pre-'Downton Abbey' show on Highclere Castle where some interiors of the show are filmed, followed by the 2-hour 3rd season opening episode. Then, because I have a tendency to be a 'night-owl' I watched the new episode of 'The Good Wife' starting at midnight. That gave me about 5 hours of knitting time and I got Robbie's socks done. They're the longest socks I've ever knit as he takes a size 12 shoe.
This Regia booklet of patterns supports their lovely Angora Merino premium line yarn which comes in several colourways.

These socks looks like they'd be fun to knit, too.

The Regia patterns are written quite differently from most that we see in North America.
  • the basic patterns for all patterns in the book and all abbreviations are on the second page rather than in the body of each pattern
  • the sizes are European (i.e. 38/39, 40/41)
  • all measurements are in centimeters
  • quantities of yarn needed are in total grams rather than in number of balls needed
The instructions are 3 columns on a page so I would use a sticky note to keep track of where I am in the pattern. The charts and legends are very easy to read.

So I've liberated the 2.5mm needle and look forward to casting on at my earliest opportunity.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Clog Felting Success!

After the initial felting in the bucket and tumble drying on high heat, I ran the clogs through a couple of loads of laundry. They were still too long and I could still discern the individual stitches.

Before any felting...
After felting...
Now, after going through the two wash loads (with bulky, dark clothes) the stitch definition is almost completely gone.
Lesson learned? If you're felting something and can still discern the individual stitches and it's still too big, you can still felt it more to shrink it down. With a front loader, one just needs to keep throwing the item(s) into wash loads until the desired result is achieved.  It is an inexact science.
And a 'before' and 'after' side by side with my foot the same size in both photos.

Generally felting can shrink the item almost to half long-ways and by about a third in width.

The clogs are knit with a double sole. It makes them nice and 'squishy' and provides a better-wearing double thickness. I made sure not to have any knots on the soles and when I was stitching the centre sole seam closed, I used a fairly loose whip stitch that just butted the two edges together. There was no overlap creating a ridge.

They didn't turn out as fuzzy as several folks on Ravelry who had used the same yarn had said. That could be because I pre-felted in the bucket and loosened and washed away a lot of the wool fibres at that time. There was hardly any wool fibre on the dryer filter last night after the tumble drying.

I have enough yarn to make another pair a size or two smaller.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Skip, Marion and I had a retro New Year's Eve. I hauled out my electric fondue pot and we had beef fondue for dinner. It was yummy.

I really enjoyed the Lincoln Centre tribute to Marvin Hamlisch on TV. At midnight, we opened our little bottle of sparking wine and toasted in the new year.

2012 was mostly good to us. Skip's health is back to normal. Scooter is well ensconsed at university. I am very content. We are looking forward to what lies ahead for us in 2013.

I didn't do as much knitting in 2012 as I have done in the past as my crafting attention was spread out among knitting, spinning, weaving and stitching. However, knitting is still my No. 1 preferred past-time.

I completed my Lehe Shawl lap blanket on New Year's Day and blocked it yesterday on the floor of Scooter's bedroom.
I love how the garter stitch border just flows into the diamond border and the picked up stitches hardly show as the basis of the lacy border.
I had almost two complete balls of yarn left over so I knit an extra two rows of the border before binding off - just to make it a little bigger.
I used 4mm needles with the DK weight yarn and am very pleased at how open the stitches and lace are after blocking. The finished size is a 56" square.
It's plenty big enough to drape over my knees while at the computer, to snooze under and to fold into a big triangle and wear as a shawl as originally intended.
I also knit a pair of Felted Clogs using grey and multicoloured Sandnes Fritidsgarn. The pattern and yarn have been in my stash for several years. I may have made the wrong size.
I'm hoping they'll felt down so they are at least wearable by me.
I have a front-loading washer so it takes about 3 or 4 washes to get them felted enough for the stitch definition to disappear. I have started the process by agitating them in a bucket with a (dedicated-for-felting) toilet plunger alternating hot and cold water. They're in the dryer now so we'll see how things work out. The Ravelry comments about this yarn is that after felting it's very fuzzy so I may or may not give the slippers a haircut. With doing the first couple of feltings in the bucket, I'm hoping to minimize the amount of wool fibre that goes through my washing machine when I actually do throw them in with a load of wash.

On the 'missionary' front, I may have another convert for our happy, fibrey fold. Suzanne was intrigued with my teaching at Continuing Ed. where she is an administrator and taught herself how to knit on the weekend using Knitting Help dot com videos. She's a maniac and knit through two balls of chunky yarn, creating a moss stitch scarf.

She actually likes knitting alternating with purling so yesterday we went to Soper Creek Yarn to find her appropriate yarn for a linen stitch scarf. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out for her. I have my own linen stitch UFO scarf to complete which I've hauled out of the 'closet of shame'.

While at the yarn shop I purchased a skein of Hand Maiden Sea Lace (70% silk/30% sea cell) in the November Sky colourway. This is an approximate depiction of the colourway - although not the correct yarn.
I started the Corydalis shawl and am finding the nupps (rhymes with 'poop') very annoying to do with such thin yarn. I am doing the crochet hook version, however, which is, for me, the easiest way to do them - all on the right side row. Corydalis is a somewhat semi-circular, entrelac, lace shawl. I think it's going to be quite a slog but will keep at it.