Monday, 30 September 2013


I've been in a real sock knitting mode lately. I guess I just want a couple of small projects after finishing the Rams and Yowes blanket.

Last year when I was visiting relatives in New Brunswick, I had a chance to drop into the Moncton location of Cricket Cove to check out their yarn selection. At that time, I purchased a ball of Opal Vincent Van Gogh sock yarn in the 'Starry Night' (Nach) colourway. I had started a 2x2 ribbed sock but wanted something interesting to break up the ribbing monotony.

I like my sock cuffs to be within the 64 - 72 stitch range and Brigit fit the bill. It isn't mindless knitting - I do have to do 1x1 cables every other row and work stitches as presented on the in-between rows, but it's knitting up quickly. I have knit the leg of one sock and am ready to start the heel.
Brigit using the 'Starry Night' colourway
My new, favourite short-row heel is the Shadow Wrap heel. Once I get to the foot, I will decide if I'll decrease to 72 stitches as were in the leg or a few more stitches so the foot isn't too loose.

Battle of the Blades 4

Last night, Suzanne and I attended CBC's live show of "Battle of the Blades Season 4". Last week was the introductory episode where all the skaters were introduced and interviewed. This week was the first week of competition.
Getting tickets was not easy. Suzanne learned that some were becoming available on Saturday. She bought them, only to learn that she couldn't pick them up at the box office of the arena but had to go to a TicketMaster outlet to pick them up. That sounds simple, right? WRONG!

As she purchased the tickets in the late afternoon, she assumed she'd be able to go to any TicketMaster outlet on Sunday morning. WRONG!

Evidently, of the 15 outlets in the greater Toronto area, only ONE is open on a Sunday. And it was located at Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket. For a while she accepted defeat and decided it was crazy to drive all the way from Brighton (where she spent the weekend) to Newmarket to pick up the tickets and then to Ajax (where she lives) and then to the show in the southwestern corner of Toronto. But then decided to go for it.

I got the message to meet at her condo in Ajax and 4:30 which would give us plenty of time for me to pick up Suzanne and drive through Toronto and possibly grab a bite to eat before taking our seats at 6:30. The traffic was actually not bad and we got to the area in only an hour. We found a wacky Polish/Irishpub, The Albatros in Lakeshore Village - a part of Toronto I've never explored.

The pub was completely decorated for Hallowe'en - tons of ghoulish things - even all the way back to the restrooms. I had an excellent hamburger and was pleasantly surprised when I asked for mustard to get authentic Polish mustard! Cool!
After dinner, we easily found free on-street parking just across from the arena and once inside, after mugging by the "Battle of the Blades" sign,
we quickly found our seats.
Once the ticketed people were seated after 6:30, the seats were filled by those who waited in line for seats all day. We moved over more to the centre for a better vantage point.
This put us closer to the judges, Kurt Browning, Jamie Salé and P. J. Stock. (I apologize for the graininess - flash photography was prohibited so there wasn't enough light most of the time)

If you look at the other side of the ice, you can see that there are 3 rows of people on the ice behind the lights, then about 8 rows of people in chairs on bleachers behind the boards.
The show started promptly at 7pm where it was broadcast live to the Atlantic provinces and tape-delayed across the other time zones in Canada for local starts at 8pm.

This is the third year Suzanne and I attended. We went the very first year (2009) when it was held at Maple Leaf Gardens. That was shortly before the Gardens was closed and a big Loblaws grocery store was opened. The next year BOTB was held on a sound stage in the southeast corner of Toronto. We didn't attend the third year and last year there was no show due to cost-cutting by the CBC.

It's a lot of fun for only $12 admission fee. It's unfortunate that getting tickets is such a pain in the ass. Thanks, Suzanne, for all your efforts getting our tickets yesterday.

Friday, 27 September 2013

One More Step...

I finished the doubled garter stitch border on Tuesday night. It makes the border quite sqwooshy.
When I picked up the stitches all around the edge to begin knitting the border, it created purl bumps on the back of the blanket all around the edge. After I had knit the border with the mitered corners, using increases on either side of the corner stitches then decreases back to the original number of border stitches, I then took a tapestry needle and stitch by stitch I picked up a purl bump on the back and then one stitch from the needle.

It creates a very tidy edge and conceals all of the steeked stitches and ends of yarn from the colour changes.
I really like the look of the back of the blanket, too.

Rams and Yowes is very photogenic.
And an indoor shot.
It is a toasty, warm, lap blanket which will be keeping my legs and feet warm while I knit or watch TV. Working with the Shetland wool was lovely. I will keep my eye out for an appropriate sport or DK weight yarn to make another, larger one.

I did run out of one colour on the border and just knit more with the next colour in the order. I almost ran out of white which was my last border colour and the colour I used to hand-sew the border to the back of the blanket. I am obtaining another ball of the Shetland black (a really dark, dark brown) to knit on the i-cord edging and the last step.

I just have the final episode of the last season of "Breaking Bad" to watch to conclude my "Breaking Bad" binge. I enjoyed watching the first episode of the new season (4th) "Downton Abbey" which aired in the UK on Sunday night. I have just finished listening to Michael J. Fox' book, "Lucky Man" and rather enjoyed it. I'm ready for another audiobook. I seem to be in a biography mode these days.

And now, to run some errands...

Thursday, 19 September 2013


Yesterday I had another dye day out on the deck. Jennifer and I both had some bare yarn and some yarn that needed to be overdyed.

Jennifer hand-painted some KnitPicks Bare Hare yarn using a couple of shades of Gold Ochre. Here, she is measuring out the concentrated dye and water.
As she had two skeins, what she did to one, she did to the other to create the same colourway. After she applied the darkest shade of colour, she diluted it a bit to get a lighter shade of the same colour.
Jennifer also overdyed some light blue laceweight with burgundy resulting in a purplish colour (far left). The other three skeins were KnitPicks Imagination yarn in a lighter green and yellow colourway that she overdyed with varying shades of sapphire blue in three gradations from lightest (on the right to the darkest (third from the right). They are now gradient shades of a teal, green and blue.
I first overdyed some tan-coloured Opal sock yarn. I used chestnut and a couple of shades of spruce. I'm not thrilled with the colours I picked but they'll make acceptable man socks (pictured on the right). The skein on the left is another skein of my handspun which I dyed to somewhat match the two skeins I dyed two weeks ago. The tonal golden yarn in the centre is the norbouillet I bought at the Knitter's Fair. There was quite a bit of VM (vegetable matter) in the yarn but it will be easily picked out while it is being knit. Now to find a pattern for this very special yarn.
For the most part, if you don't like the colour of a skein of yarn, there is always the option of changing the colour.

I have started a shawl using Sparkly Sock yarn from Yvieknits that I purchased at The Gathering in Port Hope back in April.
The pattern is Crescent over Lothlorien by Cordula Surmann-Schmit. I wanted a crescent-shaped shawl with some lace and this one seems to fit the bill. I hope it is big enough. I am doing the pattern as written but now wonder if I should have added more repeats of the plain 'stem' part. We shall see.

I made a mess of winding the ball of yarn and ended up with a huge mess on my hands which took me about 3 hours to untangle the other night. I am leaving it as a hand-wound ball with it unwinding from the outside. Lesson learned - knit from the outside of the ball if the yarn is in any way 'sticky'.
The even-numbered rows are not charted, rather the knitter is instructed to work stitches as presented. However, I am purling the even-numbered rows except for knitting the two-stitch garter stitch border on each side and the two yarnovers on each side. I couldn't be bothered to pay attention to what stitches were presenting themselves on the wrong side and don't believe it will make that much difference in the appearance of the final product. Doing the even-numbered rows as instructed creates what the designer believes to be a 'reversible' shawl but I'm not concerned with that.

I'm hoping it will be appropriate to take on my upcoming Irish knitting tour to wear with my bright yellow coat.

I am on row 13 of 45 of the lace border. It shouldn't take more than a couple of concerted knitting sessions to complete.

Rams and Yowes is almost finished. I needed a break from the 750+ stitches per row of garter stitch. I have about 24 rounds to go before attaching the border to the back of the blanket and concealing all the ends. I may have to order a ball of the shetland black yarn to complete the i-cord edge. I found a distributor of the yarn at the Knitter's Fair. He didn't have the colour I needed at the fair but has it in stock at his store so I know it is easily ordered and shipped.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

2013 Knitter's Fair

I attended the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild's Knitter's Fair on Saturday. This year it was held in a new venue, the Kitchener Auditorium.

Skip dropped me off and headed off to Guelph to have a visit with Scooter and check out his new dormitory lodgings. I joined the line of people to buy tickets (an increase of $2 to $7) and then the long lineup to head downstairs to the hall. There were 54 vendors in booths around the periphery of the hall and down the centre.

I met up with my knitterly friend, Jennifer, (as opposed to my spinnerly friend, Jennifer) in the lineup and while in the hall, made contact with my long-time friend from London, Cathy. Cathy gave me a set of delicate, beautiful stitch markers and a row counter.
My first purchase was at Wellington Fibres. I couldn't walk away without picking up this gorgeous skein of 80% mohair/20% wool colour-variegated yarn. It is more of a peacock blue (greener) than this shows.
Over at the Needle Emporium's booth I picked up this similar-coloured skein of Madelinetosh Prairie yarn. It is 800 yards of 100% superwash merino wool in the Cousteau colourway.
I can't remember where I purchased this Casbah sock yarn in what I believe is the Tidal Pool colourway.
These are the colours on the other side.
Over at The Black Lamb's booth, I noted a new yarn for sale. The norbouillet/mohair blend is fingering weight and very soft. I will have to decide what colour to dye it on Wednesday, my next dye day.
That's all I bought. My stash of lovely yarn is already so great. My task now is to find worthy projects for some of these lovely skeins.

After my purchases were complete and I had seen everything, Skip and Scooter picked me up and we went for lunch on the way out of town. Back at Scooter's dorm, I got to look around. It's a very nice setup (East Townhouses at Guelph U) with 3-storey townhouses each accommodating 4 students. On the ground floor is a kitchen and living room, on the second floor are 2 single bedrooms, a storage room, a room with a toilet and sink and a separate room with a tub and shower. The third floor is a duplicate of the 2nd floor. These lodgings are way nicer than the dorm I lived in my first two years at university. I think Scooter's dorm suits his needs just fine and he'll be very comfortable there.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Core Spinning in the Kawarthas

Yesterday I joined some members of the Kawartha Handweavers and Spinners Guild of which I am a member for a core spinning workshop conducted by Donna Lonergan.

For each of the 4 techniques, she demonstrated on her wheel with the humongous jumbo flyer and then we'd try it on our own wheels.

First we used a merino core (the white bits) and spun roving onto it. Ideally, the entire core should be covered. We also learned a 'cocoon' technique where you created fibrey lumps on the core. Z-spun means you are spinning the wheel clockwise so the twist slants like this / or the letter Z.
Here, we took a two-ply S-spun core and spun angora onto it with Z-twist. S-spinning is counter-clockwise \ like the letter 'S'.
Mine looked like lumpy cat hair.
Then we used 2 strands of copper wire and Z-spun with roving again. I had quite a bit of trouble with this as one of my copper strands was like thread and was easily broken. Also, we learned never to let it kink or spin back on itself as this is how the wire also weakens. We alternated spinning the roving around the two wires and then between the two wires.
This last technique involved spinning with roving and interspersing locks. The locks we were given in our materials kits were wildly coloured. My results looked somewhat like a clown wig.
The angora core-spun yarn could be used to make cozy, small items like handwarmers. Finding uses for the other yarns - other than artistically in a weaving or artwork of some kind - would require some creative thinking. Perhaps for embellishments for cuffs of mittens, gloves, hats or scarves.

This was the project sample card and our resulting skeins. I liked Donna's 'high five' punch she used instead of the mundane hole punch.
I really enjoy trying new techniques. It stimulates my brain when I learn new things. I also like the camaraderie of being among people who share my fibrey interests.

The drive to Lindsay is enjoyable - only about an hour and 10 minutes from home. The best part is the low-traffic route I take goes past Buttertarts 'n' More in Little Britain and I get to buy buttertarts to bring home.


Last time I was at The Black Lamb in Port Hope, I purchased Laurie's last skein of overdyed merino superwash pencil roving. I believe it initially had been dyed creamsicle orange and bubblegum pink and then was overdyed to these beautiful rich jewel tones. (I can't seem to find a photo of it)

I've been plugging away at it for the last month or so. Isn't it gorgeous!?
It was spinning up into nice bands of colour.
I would have chain-plied it to maintain the colour integrity but wanted the yardage so 2-plied it instead.

I finished spinning it a couple of weeks ago and finished plying it on Monday night at spinning.
It yielded 502 yards. Plenty of yarn to do a decently sized shawl.
I struggled with lighting. This is flourescent light, indoors at night.
This is outdoors in shade.

You get the idea.

Now to find the perfect shawl pattern...

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Around and Around...

I blocked the Rams and Yowes blanket last week.
'Tis a thing of beauty, if I do say so myself.
 I have picked up the stitches around the edges for the garter stitch border. The way the pattern is written, I was to pick up each stitch along each side. However, as stitches are shorter than they are wide, many people who followed the instructions were dismayed that the border was rippled, particularly on the sides. Garter stitch is also very stretchy compared to the stranded knitting of the body. Some suggested going down a needle size for the border. However I stayed with the same size (3mm) needles.

Normally, when I pick up stitches along the front of a cardigan for a buttonband I pick up 3 and skip one so I used this technique on the sides of the blanket and on the top and bottom, I picked up every stitch but on the first knit round, I knit 2 together every 5th stitch.

To do the garter stitch edge, I knit one round and purl one round, increasing one stitch on each side of the corner stitches on the knit rows, creating mitred corners. Every 2 ridges, I change to the next darkest colour. I'm on the sixth or seventh colour at this point.

The 'natural' colours of sheep's wool have very funky names: (from light to dark) white, gaulmoget, katmollet, mooskit, shaela, sholmit, moorit, yuglet, and black.

Once corner is a little wonky but it was too fiddly to rip out and fix so I will be doing some trompe l'oeil duplicate stitching to fix it once I'm done. This is one of the non-wonky corners.
Once I go through all 9 colours, I'll do them in descending order decreasing on either side of the mitered corner stitches. Then I will knit the last row picking up the purl bumps on the back of the blanket from the first row of border stitches. This will create a double thickness of the border and when I pick up the purl bumps, I'll also conceal any yarn ends.

There's one more step; that is, an i-cord edging all along the outer edge of the blanket. A good final blocking will smooth everything out (fingers crossed).

It's been perfect knitting (700+ stitches per round) for my bingeing on the entire series of "West Wing" DVDs. I've spent the entire summer reserving the disks at the public library, picking them up, watching them, returning the disks and reserving the next ones. Last night I watched the last episodes of the seventh and final season. Each season had about 21 episodes so that was over 150 episodes in all! Nowadays, there only seem to be 13 or fewer episodes in a season.

I could really tell the difference between the first seasons that Aaron Sorkin wrote and the subsequent ones after he left the show. It seemed to lose its way somewhat but I found the last couple of seasons which dealt with the election of the new president (after Bartlet's 2 terms were ending) to be quite interesting. It was pretty idealistic for the two election committees to keep with the squeaky clean ads and no 'mud-slinging'. Nowadays that is certainly not the case. "West Wing" is also quite the contrast from the Kevin Spacey Netflix series, "House of Cards" based on the British series of the same name.

I'm also nearing the end of season 3 of "Breaking Bad" and have a couple more seasons to go. I have to borrow it from another town's library as there are at least 8 people ahead of me in line for the DVDs at the Whitby Library.

Now that video rental stores are finished, I'm finding the public libraries to be a wealth of resources. Since I do so much knitting, I don't take the opportunity to read a lot but have been ripping a lot of books on CD to my iPod Touch and listen to a lot that way. Today I vacuumed for much longer than I normally would because I was listening to Barbara Walter's autobiography, "Audition" all the while.

Next up on my list is Valerie Harper's autobiography, "I, Rhoda". I look forward to seeing her on "Dancing with the Stars" and sure hope she is well enough to make it pretty far. She was a dancer in her early career so it would be nice to really see her kick some butt in spite of the fight she is undertaking with her terminal brain cancer.

Blue Blocking

This morning I soaked and blocked Mo's latest shawl (she's working on a name for it). It is being test-knit by some other busy knitters as I write this.
There aren't a lot of blue flowers with four pointy petals in nature.

Pinned, it's about 64" along the hypotenuse and about 31" long.
 It has a lovely texture.
Mo's favourite colour is blue. Could you tell?  ;-)
It will be lovely and drapey once off the blocking wires. Hopefully it'll stop raining so I can snap some pics before returning it to Mo.