Monday, 28 December 2015


I finished the right front of the cardigan last night.
It's always good to take a photo of one's knitting as it really allows one to see any mistakes. Sure enough, I found that I had left a row out of one of the honeycomb rows near the top.
That will be easy enough to rip back and fix.

While finishing the right front, I was watching the semi-final and final episodes of the British reality show on TVO called "The Choir: Sing While You Work".  The remaining choirs sang gospel for the semi-final and an original composition by one of the judges for the final.

I then started the back and got the cable patterns established. I only need to follow a chart for the 'Fishnet' cable section between the two 'chain' patterns on each side.
I have been binge-watching the Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer" and was totally drawn in with the first episode. I was surprised to find out there were 9 more. I stayed up WAY too late and bailed after episode 5. My curiosity got the better of me so I googled the subject's name and learned of the disposition of the trial. What a shock! I do recommend watching this if you like a good, true mystery. It is very similar to the first season of the podcast "Serial" outlining the trial of a suspected murderer. Season 2 is now airing, one episode per week.

I do watch a lot of TV when I knit but now, with my PVR, mostly watch stuff I want to watch when I want to watch it.

I also have been watching the final season (6) of Downton Abbey via file sharing and last night watched the series finale, the 2-hour Christmas episode which aired in the UK on Christmas night. It was excellent! I will really miss that show. Season 6 begins airing on PBS on January 3 in North America.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


I finished the first Syncopation sock.
I really like the look of it and it feels great on. However, I weighed the remaining yarn - 48g and the finished sock 50g. Crap!!! I made the leg of the sock too long and there's not enough yarn left to do the second sock the same length.

Sooooo, I'm going to cut the cuff off, unravel a little over 1g of the leg to be used on the second sock and graft the cuff back onto it. Thank goodness I did that class on grafting knit and purl stitches with Ann Budd a couple of years ago at the Knitter's Frolic.

Speaking of the Frolic, just before Christmas I heard back from the Toronto Knitters Guild. I've been selected to teach a 2-hour Latvian Braid class at the Knitter's Frolic on April 30, 2016!! I'm so excited! The 2015 classes are still on the website but hopefully soon, the 2016 classes and instructors will be posted. I hope there is a class offered that I'll want to take that's not when I'll be teaching.

I've also made progress on the Aran sweater I'm knitting. I have the second front completed up to the armhole decreases. It was pretty mindless knitting up to there while I watched various Christmas shows on TV but I took a pause on this project last night as I had to re-read the instructions to continue on.
 I then picked up another sock project in progress, finished the leg and heel flap, and turned the heel. This was the pair I knit with contrasting bands on the legs to ensure that there would be enough yarn for the extra-long foot.


I have been a lazy blogger these past few weeks. After returning from Cuba, I've felt very rushed to get things ready for the holidays. We don't even do a lot of gift shopping but I still wanted to get some decorations up, cookies made, Christmas newsletter composed and sent, the few remaining snail mail cards sent, etc.

Alexa and I went to Tafelmusik's Sing Along Messiah at Toronto's Massey Hall last Sunday.
It was lots of fun sitting amidst other altos and singing our hearts out on the choruses. Herr Handel himself conducted us and the orchestra.
After it was done, we got to sing the "Halleluja Chorus" one more time. This time, Herr Handel brought out his light sabre.
At the end, he had the soloists pose for a 'zelfie' taken with his 'zelfie schtick'.
And this is the photo that was posted on Facebook.
It was a lovely way to celebrate the season.

I knit a couple of mittens from the Mitten Garland Advent on Ravelry, inserting the date on the cuff.

I loved that they had Latvian braid on the cuff.
I still may knit a bunch to use as garland.

One of the gifts I crafted was a shawl pin frame similar to ones I had seen at Rhinebeck.
I used a cable knit sweater from a thrift shop, backed with a couple of layers of poly quilt batting and framed in an 8" x 10" frame with the glass removed. It's great for holding shawl pins and decorative as well. I can also pin other pins and hook earrings onto it.
Of course, I made two - one to give and one to keep.

Christmas morning, I put on the fireplace channel on the TV.
And lit a real fire in our fireplace. It was so nice and cozy.
Dinner was a collaborative affair with Skip brining and roasting the turkey and me preparing the side-dishes.

Our table is quite spartan but I love the poinsettia theme and opted for the festive, woodland Christmas plates over my good china. Our breakfast nook is so bright with windows on three sides so at the last minute, I set the table in there because it looked so nice.
As low-carbers, we dispensed with potatoes. However, we both like turnip with our Christmas dinner - it reminds us of Christmas dinners past at Skip's mom's. I also tried a new green bean recipe where I heated olive oil and garlic in a fry pan and cooked the green beans in the mixture for about 8 minutes. They were yummy. The cranberry sauce was made from scratch substituting Splenda for sugar.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 19 December 2015


Skip and I spent a week in Cuba a couple of weeks ago. We wanted a cheap 5-star vacation and Cuba fit the bill. It was a short (3.25 hour), direct flight to Santa Clara then a 90 min. bus ride to our resort (Iberostar Ensenachos).

We had a very nice room with a free mini-bar, lots of channels on the TV, bad lighting (only a floor lamp and table lamp in the very large room), and excellent air-conditioning.
Market at Pueblo La Estrella at Cayo Santa María, Cuba
Cubans have used ration books since the early 60s and the trade embargos. The food at the resorts (all owned by the government) is the best one can get on the island. Sadly, it's not that great. Since we're low carbing, we had to overlook the yummy breads, pastas, and baked goods. Unfortunately, there wasn't any lettuce, but I did eat lots of the cucumber and cabbage. The hot food wasn't hot enough and the cold food wasn't cold enough and we both got 'traveler's tummy'.
Somewhat obscene yucca plant at our resort, preparing to bloom
However, the beach was exquisite with powdery, white sand and no seaweed which seems to plague a lot of beaches in the Caribbean.

It rained every day for at least part of the day but we still managed to get to the beach
Turning the heel on the beach
or the pool.
Syncopation sock poolside
The biggest adjustment was no access to the Internet for the week. Fortunately I had downloaded a bunch of ebooks and audiobooks onto my iPhone and iPad so entertained myself that way. We also got lots of sleep including some darned good naps. I had bought an Internet card to use at the resort but there was not access to a network whenever I tried. However, the card did work at the airport so I downloaded all my email and got caught up there before our flight home. The security person I had was very enthusiastic about his job and confiscated my Addi Turbos that were in my Syncopation sock. He wanted to break the tips off but I couldn't deal with that sacrilege so I just pulled the needle out. (sniff!). He also didn't like the 1.5 inch nail file on my nail clippers and offered to break it off if I wanted to keep them. I never use that nail file so I told him to go ahead. I've taken knitting needles on many flights over the past 8 years and the only time I've had them confiscated was leaving Mexico and Cuba. TSA permits them but Cuba doesn't give a rat's behind about TSA regulations. At least in Mexico, they retrieved my suitcase so I could put the knitting needles in there.

We were thrilled that it was so mild upon our return and our windbreakers were adequate for the shuttle from the airport to our car.

Speaking of windbreakers, when we arrived at the resort at the beginning of the trip, I realized I had misplaced my windbreaker somewhere en route. During our time at the airport waiting for our flight home, the officious security guy passed me off to another person to go to the lost and found - back through security. I was then handed off to another official person who was surprised that there was a lost and found. The official at the lost and found listened to my description (thank goodness I speak Spanish) and looked in a big ledger and to my wonderment, my windbreaker was listed with the description, date, and flight. He then went into the back room and emerged a few minutes later with my windbreaker. Yay! And my mittens were still in the pocket - along with some rubber gloves that weren't there before. He had to fill out some paperwork and call a customs person over to fill out a customs form so my jacket could pass customs, I guess. Then I had to sign something and I was free to take my jacket and go back through security to join Skip - who wondered where the heck I was. Of course, I had the same officious security guy who again noted my nail clippers on the xray. He wanted to stop me and I reminded him that he had already broken the nail file off. Then I found Skip in the waiting area. I brandished my jacket and we hugged with joy. The food selection at the airport was not great, particularly for low carbers so we decided to hit a favourite Japanese/Korean restaurant in Toronto on the way home from the airport. Finally! Hot food that was hot! And salad!! It was good to be home.

Being away for a week in early December does make one feel quite behind with respect to preparations for Christmas so I've been trying to get caught up. The tree is up and it and the house are as decorated as they're going to get.
Skip and I have decided to shop for each other after Christmas when the sales are on so aside from stocking stuffers, that took a lot of pressure off me.

I got a bunch of baking done today, much of it with my new cookie press. I also use the press to stuff devilled eggs but today, used it to make spritz cookies for the first time. It took me a bit to get the hang of it but since this batch (pictured) was done, I re-read the recipe and omitted the parchment paper, choosing instead to spritz right on the greased cookie sheets. The cookies stuck to the sheet much better. My subsequent batches had cookies that were spaced much closer together.
I still haven't been able to get a soft enough dough.

I've been crafting a couple of things but will leave that for another post.

On Sunday, Alexa and I are going to the Tafelmusik "Sing-Along Messiah" with our scores and sticky notes to mark what numbers we're doing. We and a couple of thousand other sopranos, altos, tenors and basses will enjoy the soloists and sing the choruses conducted by Herr Handel himself.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

I Learned a New Cast On

Last week at our monthly knitting get-together at a local Mexican restaurant, Jennifer showed us the socks that she's knitting with the 'Syncopation' pattern.

I thought it would be a great pattern to knit while I'm on vacation. I'm doing it top down so thought a tubular cast-on would be nice. I found a video for casting on straight and modified it for knitting in the round.

First, I cast on half the number of stitched I needed with waste yarn. Any cast-on will do - I used long-tail. Then I divided the stitches for circular knitting and changed to the sock yarn and knit into every waste yarn stitch and then did a yarn over.

Then on the next round, I knit the knit stitches and with the yarn forward, I slipped the yarnovers.

Next round, I slipped the knit stitches with the yarn in the back and purled the yarnovers. Basically, I double knit for the two rounds.

On the next round, I joined the two sets of stitches by knitting the knits and purling the purls and voilà! The tubular knitting is complete. You can snip the waste yarn and pull it out at this stage or leave it until later.

A smooth, stretchy edge is created.
There are other ways to do a tubular 1 x 1 cast on including one where the long-tail cast on is done with knit and purl stitches but I found that one quite fiddly with thin sock yarn and lots of stitches on a long circular. The method I'm using let me really control the stitches on the needle. You could also cast on with a straight needle then knit the first round onto a circular.

To make it 2 x 2 ribbing, you just need to switch the order of the stitches so a knit is beside a knit and a purl is beside a purl creating pairs of stitches. I'll try that on the next sock I knit with 2 x 2 ribbing for the cuff.

Monday, 30 November 2015

I Changed My Mind

I was going to frog most of the left front of the Aran cardigan I was working on after I discovered that I was erroneously twisting wrong side knit stitches.  I decided, after all, to keep going and compare the look of the corrected knitting to the part where I had made the mistakes.

I don't think it looks that much different so I continued on, have done the underarm decreases and most of the raglan decreases. I only need to decrease as far as the green stitch marker at the top.
Standing back, the difference in the top and the bottom isn't noticeable.
The twisted stitches are supposed to be on the right side single knit columns (p1,k1b,p1) and the 'fishernet' cable. The rest of the right side stitches are untwisted.  I do have to follow a chart for the fishernet cable but the other columns of patterns are easily memorized.
 I am making it exactly as written in the pattern size-wise. I am prepared to do some adjustments and some re-knitting if necessary to make it fit well. I plan to knit the back one size smaller in width as my back is somewhat smaller than my front and this technique worked well on my Ruddington cardigan.

At one point I didn't think I was going to have enough yarn to complete the project but found another yarn cake from the first skein which I just started part way up the raglan area. So the first skein of the 5 will complete the left front and about 1/3 of the right front. The woman I purchased the yarn from, Annie O'Maille, has about 100 knitters using this yarn to hand knit cardigans for sale in her shop in Galway, Ireland. They use 3.75mm needles which makes for a much denser and warmer fabric than the machine knit ones seen in most Irish shops. As I am using 4.5mm needles to get gauge, I will be using far less yarn so logically, there will be more than enough.

I'm starting to think about what projects I want to take on our upcoming week's holiday to Cuba. Of course, there is a sock project - Syncopation - that I'm trying to decide on what yarn from my stash to use. I'm also debating taking some of the Aran cardigan to knit as well. It will depend on what space I have. We are allowed 50 lb. in our checked luggage for free so I should be able to squeeze it in.

There is lots going on this week before we lift off early Friday morning. I've been working on a mental list but really need to write stuff down and start checking them off.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Red Scarf Update

Alexa handed in our red scarves last week. Evidently, the committee was 'blown away' with the number of scarves donated - over 400 in all - for the December 1 event.

I snapped this photo of the contributions of Donna, Alexa, Jan Neville, and me just before they were dropped off.
I've been happily knitting away on my Shalor cardigan only to notice I haven't been doing the wrong side knit stitches correctly. I've been knitting them through the back as the ones on the front are done. On closer reading of the pattern, I noted last night that the wrong side knits are not supposed to be knit through the back. I attempted to correct this by undoing the offending column of stitches and laddering them back up with a crochet hook but they just didn't look right so I'm going to have to rip it back to the ribbing and do it right. Sigh.

I guess, since I've had the yarn for over 2 years, another week or so of re-knitting won't matter. I don't have a deadline for this cardigan.

Customarily, I knit one sweater a year. This year, I haven't completed an adult sweater but I did knit 4 baby sweaters earlier in the year so that's going to be it for 2015.

Yesterday, my stitcherly/crafty friend, Marilyn was over and spotted the checked scarf I had woven and said, "May I have it?". Without missing a beat, I said "Sure! It's yours". She's pleased to have it and I'm very happy to have it go to someone who will appreciate it. If I want or need another one, I now possess the skills to whip one up in a matter of a couple of hours.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Last Week of the Month Already!?

This has been a very busy month for me. I have had total knitting/weaving ADD and have been jumping from one project to another as a result. Any time I've thought of updating this blog, I've started to do something else.

The fall is a very knitterly time of year with festivals, retreats, knit/spin nights, etc.  A couple of weeks ago at my spinning group (Whitby Spinners) discussed participating in our local red scarf project about which I noted in my last post. I took the opportunity to weave a scarf which not only enabled me to contribute to this worthy cause, but also allowed me to finish a scarf in much less time than I could knit it, and also gave me some more practice warping and weaving on my Leclerc Dorothy loom. One of my spinning buddies, Alexa, came over last week and got an introductory lesson to warping the loom and beginning weaving on one of the scarves.
She really got the hang of it and accomplished a lot.
Here is the hemstitching I did on each end of the scarf before cutting it off the loom.
Skip got a shot of me twirling the fringe.
Basically if you make the number of twirls the same, the fringe will look uniform.
I finished that scarf and made another with the yarn Alexa provided. Then wove one more last night and today bringing my grand total of scarves for this project to 4 (which included the ripply scarf from the last post).

Here are the last three ready to drop off at the donation centre.
If I think of it on December 1, I'll drive around Whitby and Oshawa to see if I can see any tied to posts or signs around town.

Changing gears --- I started the cardigan with the yarn I brought back from Ireland two years ago. It took me this long to find a pattern that I felt was worthy of this yarn. It is the Shalor Cardigan designed by Penny Straker. A woman at Rhinebeck had one on that I admired

so she gave me the info. and I began the hunt for the pattern. (That's one the the things I LOVE about knitterly events - it is perfectly OK to go up to a perfect stranger and fondle their knitwear or ask them who designed the item). I first heard her say it was a Penny 'Striker' sweater. After some futile googling and Ravelrying, I determined the correct name of the designer and her cardigan. On her website I noted that Patternfish carries her patterns but alas, not this one in particular. I contacted Gayle Clow of Patternfish and she said she'd look into it. In the meantime, I mentioned it in a Ravelry group, and some kind soul told me of a retailer that sells the pattern and that it was indeed in stock. I ordered it online and short order I had it in my hot little hands. I did the recommended swatch and adjusted for the correct needle size so began the left front.
The knits in the 1 x 1 ribbing are through the back loop, this twists the stitches, as well as all the knit stitches on the right side of the elaborate cable. The cables are written out line by line so I charted them with my software and printed them out for my reference. I also had to plot out the patterns across the row to keep them straight. I have internalized all the patterns except the braided cable and am easily following the chart. The safety pin is holding the buttonband stitches which will be picked up and knit after completing the front, then sewn to the honeycomb edge using a 'serpentine' stitch, definitely NOT a whip stitch. I'll have to have a closer look at that part when I come to it.

As a result of my weaving experiences this fall, I really want to obtain a folding floor loom that is at least 36" wide. I'm willing to wait until I find one in my price range.

Skip and I just booked a tropical holiday in Cuba at a 5-star resort (in Cuba, the more stars the better the food) for the not-to-distant future. Now that our temperatures have plummeted to below freezing, we're both really itching to get the heck out of this icebox.

Today, however, it was about 8C - warm enough for me to do a last outdoor window washing of the season. I only had a fleece jacket on and was plenty warm in the sun. Here's hoping we get lots more days like today before winter sets in.

And finally, I received an email last Friday inviting me to submit proposals to teach at a big knitting event next spring. I'm hoping at least one of my proposed classes will be accepted. I love teaching and I love knitting so I hope to be able to infect others with my enthusiasm - knitting missionary that I am. (LOL).   I'm hoping to know by the end of December. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, 16 November 2015

One Day Scarf

The AIDS Committee of Durham Region is undertaking a Red Scarf Project this year. Knitted or crocheted red scarves 6" x 60" are being collected and will be tied to posts and trees all over Oshawa and Whitby on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2015. Each scarf will have a tag affixed inviting people to take the scarf if they need it. Any scarves remaining will be donated to local shelters.

Some of my spinning peeps have been talking about participating, I wasn't interested in spending hours and hours knitting a scarf but thought I could weave one in a fraction of the time.

I picked up a skein of very affordable, soft, acrylic yarn (Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny - 170g/311yd) at Michaels. Today I wound the warp and warped the loom in under 2 hours. The sett was 60 ends (including 2 floating selvedge threads) at 8 epi (ends per inch). I knew it would pull in significantly on the loom with a twill pattern. After some experimentation, I decided to use two shots of weft over 1 x 1 for 12 picks alternating with two shots over 2x2 weft to give it a bit of interesting texture and to disguise any irregularities in my weaving.
It made for an interesting texture.
Off the loom it is a bit waffle-y. It shows how much the 2 x 2 weft pulls in compared to 1 x 1.

I will try to steam it but am not sure how that will work with the acrylic yarn. I'm reluctant to wash and tumble dry the scarf in case it looks really crappy afterwards. Although it's not 'knit or crocheted', I hope it will be accepted for the project. It definitely is soft and snuggly.
I'm thinking of weaving another one, still with two shots of weft per shed but only using the 1 x 1 warp pattern.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Catching Up

This has been a busy month.

Last weekend, Jen1 and I went to a knitting retreat at Jackson's Falls Country Inn in Prince Edward County. It was organized by Lesley Snyder from Rosehaven Yarn Shop in Picton. It was only its second year and registration sold out in 1.5 hours last May.  Jen and I had heard about it last year and I jumped upon the chance to attend.

On our way, we stopped in at Port Hope and had a delicious lunch at Basil's Deli then visited Laurie Goldiuk at The Black Lamb's new location. Then we headed for Picton to shop at Rosehaven before heading to the retreat.

There were 26 participants at the retreat, most of us housed at the inn with a few at a nearby B&B. We all ate together in the 'schoolhouse'. It was fun to have people haul out their knitting between courses.
The inn is licensed and we were permitted to bring our own wine and pay a corking fee. Lesley set up a small yarn shop in the foyer of the inn.

Friday night we shared our favourite knitting books. I took notes and have some searching to do. Saturday morning I took a class on two-colour brioche knitting. It is quite a complex concept but after forging on after a some nasty-looking setup rows, I seemed to have gotten the hang of it. I really do need to review those setup rows.

At lunch, Purlin Js rolling yarn wagon pulled up. It is a large truck jammed with bins of and skeins of yarn and knitting accessories based in Kingston ON.

After lunch I took a class on mosaic knitting. That went a lot better than our morning's class. I'm not sure what I would use it for but evidently it can be used in lieu of stranded knitting in certain circumstances.

After dinner that night we each showed off a favourite knitted item. Again I took notes.

Sunday morning, I took a class on two-at-a-time toe up socks. It was a good refresher of Judy's Magic Caston. It was also an excellent introduction of Magic Loop for some of the participants who, after Cheryl's demo, had no trouble at all with either concept.
We also did the Fleegle Heel which was surprisingly easy to execute. I may not be a devotee of toe-up socks but there is merit to them, especially when wanting to use up all the yarn for nice, long cuffs and avoiding having to graft the toe.

While at the retreat, I cast on the Baa-ble hat which was so popular at Rhinebeck this year. It was designed by Donna Smith for Shetland Wool Week. I used green Berocco Vintage for the ribbing and 'grass', some random worsted black for the legs and faces and white and blue Donegal Aran Tweed yarn left-overs from the classes I took on my Irish knitting tour in 2013.

I started it on Friday night at the knitting retreat and had to rip it out so many times. First I had the wrong stitch count on the ribbing, once corrected I started in on the stranded pattern falling short of stitches. I then realized I needed to increase 24 stitches in the last ribbed row. I then changed needles according to the pattern and knit the rest of the hat finding it to be really slouchy which was not the look I was after at all. I frogged it back to the increase row after the knitting and continued on with the 4mm needle I used for the ribbing. It knit up in no time once I started doing things correctly.
I still need to make and attach a pompom.
On Wednesday at the Shuttlebug guild meeting one of our members did a little workshop on Zentangle, a meditative form of doodling that is all the rage right now along with all those adult colouring books one is seeing in book stores.

She passed around a little clutch bag she had doodled (Zentangled) on with a basic white fabric that had solid black lines.
She also quilted along the black lines and used a very cool, wavy, black and white, checkerboard lining.

She then set us to work on our little 3 1/2" square tiles, having us try some different techniques in each divided portion. I'm not sure how meditative it was as most of the time I was doodling, I was thinking of how I could be using the time to knit.
However, yesterday I went out and bought myself a little sketchbook and have been Zentangling a bit with Googled images as a guide. This technique can be enjoyed by people with no fine art training (like myself) at all. I wish I had known how to do this in my past life sitting through mind-numbing staff meetings every month.

Today I got all inspired to do some sewing. I made a couple more earbud cases using this tutorial. Then I made a thread catcher with an attached, weighted pin cushion using this tutorial.

The thread catcher project was very clearly explained and took me under an hour to make it. I had purchased 18" of 1/2" boning a while back for the project and used red lentils to fill the pincushion. I guess one could use a strip of 2L soda bottle or other large diameter plastic bottle for the boning and any grain for the weighted pincushion. I used half of two coordinating/contrasting fat quarters from my stash.
It was also a really good exercise in making a bag with boxed corners which could be used for gift bags, project bags, etc. etc.

I have a couple of other sewing projects I want to do - a zippered swift bag and a little pillowcase.

I'm still in a bit of a knitting slump but am spinning some yarn to knit some twined mittens. This involves spinning the yarn counter-clockwise with an 's'-twist then I'll ply it clockwise to create the desired 'z'-twist for twined knitting. I found some random roving in my stash and started it at Mo's last night.

I have at least one more pair of socks to knit for Christmas gifts. They're for someone with long feet so will do a pattern on the cuff for about 3" with another yarn so I'll have enough of the main yarn. I guess I could even do them toe-up using half of the main yarn on each sock and other yarn on the cuff to get the length I want.

I have a couple of weaving projects in my queue as well and will be getting at those next week.

That pretty well catches me up. It has been a very crafty fall but now all my special knitting events are over and my Christmas gift-making is getting into full swing.