Sunday, 26 June 2016

Lemon Difficult Done!

I ran out of the lighter, green yarn on the Lemon Difficult shawl while at a knitting get-together at Jen's today. There was about 10" of yarn left after finishing the last light coloured row.
As luck would have it, I had enough to do the last row before the bindoff with the darker yarn. It still needs a light blocking.
My handspun isn't the most consistent yarn but I like the colours.

New columns were created on one side by a brioche version of k1, yo, k1 into the same stitch.
It was fairly easy to keep track of when the next increase row would take place.

This is the look of one side with the fabric slightly stretched out.
And the other side.
It's reversible and would be excellent for a nice, cozy, squishy cowl.

Which is exactly what I've started as my second project - the Ring of Fire cowl by Nancy Marchant. Mine doesn't look very fiery as I'm using KnitPicks Chroma fingering yarn in the Lollipop colourway with black KnitPicks Stroll fingering.

It took me a long time to get the 156 stitches cast on properly using the two-colour Italian tubular cast on and I misread the pattern for the first 6 rounds but I was damned if I was going to frog or tink back so I just kept going. It looks pretty good (except for the odd mistake) but is definitely NOT social knitting.

Here's one side thus far.
 And the other.
It doesn't quite look like the picture in the book but it's good enough for me.

In stitching news, The Pastoral is progressing.
Because I'm using 2 strands of floss instead of 1, I'll run out of MOSS before finishing all the greenery. One local stitchery shop doesn't carry that brand it and the other doesn't have it in stock. However, tomorrow Skip and I are heading to NY state and I found a stitchery shop near Syracuse that carries this brand of floss. I emailed them on Friday to see if they had it in stock but haven't had a reply. I will stop by there anyway and hopefully they can help me out.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Iceland Confirmed

Skip was reading the travel section of the paper a couple of weeks ago and saw an airfare/cruise/land tour of Iceland that looked interesting. It was also a very good deal. It took us about 3 seconds to decide it was something we'd like to do and contacted the travel agency to book it. We've been waiting a week to hear if we're confirmed as Iceland celebrated two national holidays this past weekend.

Yesterday we finally heard that we are confirmed! Yay! I do have an ulterior motive. Skip and I will tour together, then next time an Icelandic knitting tour comes up, I'll feel less guilty going with a girlfriend rather than Skip.

I continue to work on The Pastoral.
The alphabet is complete. I'm now working on the leaves on the top 2/3 and after I complete the rest of the cross-stitching, I'll do all the specialty stitches. I really like the double cross eyelets (blue square flower to the left of the bird). Yesterday at the big box craft store I saw a couple of frames that might be suitable.

Monday, 20 June 2016


I'm loving my new lighted magnifier.

New Stitching Project

Last night I found a stitching project in my stash that I had barely started a year or so ago. The fabric was perfect for my new project, Drawn Thread's 'The Pastoral'. Of course I picked it because of the sheep.
I had found the last skein of floss I needed at the Stitching Place in Waterloo on Saturday. I unpicked the little bit of stitching I had done on the 28 count linen fabric and started stitching.
The pattern also gives instructions for a stitched 'pocket' and scissor fob.

I now realize I really do need a lighted magnifier and just saw one on sale at Michaels. That will be one of several places I shop today.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Button Sampler

Today I finished and framed my Button Sampler.

The frame included the mat and I found it in the clearance bin at a big box craft store.
Buttons were from the button jar I inherited from my mom and random buttons I had.

I'm pleased with how it turned out and is now hanging in our main floor powder room.

It was SO quick and easy. Most of the stitching only took me a couple of evenings.

This simple design is very clever and could be easily adapted to showcase any mountable collection.

I just need to remember next June to enter it into my embroidery guild's themed competition.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Most Excellent Road Trip

Yesterday, Jen and I and my new knitting friend, Barb, travelled to Waterloo with the ultimate goal of taking a class on brioche knitting with Kate Atherley. The class was offered as part of the World Wide Knit in Public events.

Jen and I took a brioche class last fall at another knitting retreat and it was a disaster! We left more confused than when we had arrived. Last week I tried to get a sneak preview by trying to find a decent  video to watch on YouTube to no avail.

Jen picked us up shortly after noon so we headed first to a stitchery shop, The Stitcher's Place. We browsed there for quite a while. It is a well-stocked shop with a wide variety of stitching accouterments.

Barb and I both saw a very cute knitting chart with sheep. And there was one for each of us!
There was only one skein of two of the colours so Barb and I each bought one and split them to share. I don't think there will be enough left of the green that we split for all that grass so I'm probably going to use one strand of it with one strand of the DMC equivalent.

I also found a colour of floss for another project that was back-ordered at Kimat Designs where I bought a floss and a chart for another project. I also picked up three other skeins that were called 'short cuts' - ends of colourways that may be short a little bit of floss so were deeply discounted.
I will now be on the lookout for a frame to fit the finished project, so I'll have it ready to frame once I finish it. (That's optimistic, isn't it?) I will do the house in a different colour and possibly additional colours for the flowers.
Our stitching guild selected 'samplers' as the theme for this next year's stitching so I have at least two projects in mind. I now just need to get stitching.

Then we moseyed over to Shall We Knit? to shop before dinner and our class. I snagged this Gifts issue that doesn't come with my regular Interweave Knits subscription
Jen found a clearance basket with Freia yarn. I picked up this ball of 200 yd. of sport weight - possibly for some future brioche pattern
For some of the knitters on my upcoming cruise, I found some small skeins of the frilly, novelty yarn that were on sale for only $1. I will start knitting one of them and leave it as a demo sample and any who want one of the other skeins may have one. Any of these would really jazz up my little black dress.
After Thai dinner, we headed back to Shall We Knit? to get ready for our classes.

We first practiced some of the brioche stitches on a little swatch. Then we cast on for Kate's Lemon Difficult pattern. It is a 'squooshy' triangular shawl.

After a few rocky starts, and a couple of mistakes a few rows in, I felt I really had grasped the concept and just before we left, I ripped out my attempt to prepare to start it in earnest.

Once I got home, I sat up for another couple of hours to get the project underway. Today I got more done, including finding a mistake a couple of inches down, ripping back to that point, and knitting back up and beyond.

I'm using my handspun so the stitches aren't perfectly consistent. However, I'm really liking the colours. One colour dominates the ribbing on one side.
And the other colour dominates the other side. I can really see this is a great way to use up some of my single skeins of handspun. I also just remembered I have some bright-coloured Knit Picks Chroma yarn that would be excellent for a brioche project.
What I liked the most about Kate's teaching is that she showed us how to read our knitting so we could confidently know where we are in the pattern. We really understood the concepts. She is an excellent teacher and I highly recommend anyone take a class with her.

Doesn't this yarn look Noro-esque?
This was that MCN that I spun at the retreat last month. I'm just going to knit until I run out of one colour.
 Needless to say, I'll be on the lookout for other spiffy brioche patterns - cowls, hats, scarves.

It was SO fun spending the day with other knitters who also like stitching. Now we three need to find some time to get together and stitch and knit together - hopefully on somewhat of a regular basis.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Turning 90 Degrees

Last time I mentioned this, I had decided to turn the blanket 45 degrees so the 'squares' would be diamonds. For me, it looked much more interesting.
However, it made the blanket too wide for my liking. I decided to turn it 90 Degrees to make the 'spines' horizontal then ripped out about 5 diamonds on one side and a few off the top and bottom which eliminated a couple of rows and columns, then added more to the corners.
That solved the problem and now makes the blanket the desired 36" wide and it will be 48" long when finished, which includes adding another row to the top so all 4 corners will match with 2 squares each.

I have really enjoyed knitting this after having it languish for months. It has also made me corral all my odd bits of sock yarn. I also appreciate all the contributions from friends.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Ultimate Procrastination

About 30 years ago, I took up stained glass crafting. One of my favourite things to do was work with bevel clusters. They were so easy to work with. Just create the pattern around the cluster, cut out the pattern pieces, foil them, and solder them together.

I made a 16" x 20" Edwardian-style piece that sat for about 8 years unframed. Then a colleague who enjoys woodworking made a frame for it. Then it sat propped against a window in my dining room for over 20 years.

I think the reason I never hung it was that I was afraid to drill into my window frames, fearing I'd compromise the insulating factor. I now realize, they were all wood frames holding the vinyl windows in, faced with quarter-round trim.

The other day I purchased all the hardware to hang the piece in our breakfast area picture window. Today, I finally spent the 20 minutes total installing it. This included taking down the blind, measuring for the centre of the window, marking the spots where I'd drill, hauling out the new 21st Century cordless drill Skip just replaced our old one with, drilling pilot holes, screwing in the eye hooks, measuring, cutting and attaching the 50lb. nylon line, hanging the piece with 's' hooks, re-installing the blind, and putting everything away. 20 minutes! That's all it took!
Sometimes I even drive myself crazy with my procrastination.
All that worrying that it wouldn't allow the blind to open and close properly. For nothing! Better late than ever, I guess.

It almost makes me want to do stained glass again. As if I needed another hobby.

Way Old UFO

I unearthed another UFO - Teva Durham's Aran Tree Skirt. Actually, I finished knitting it a year and a half ago after having started it in December 2013. I'm not sure why I took so long to block it.

It was pretty easy to run the wires through the cable border. Aren't those cables scrumptious?
The pattern calls for doubled, chunky yarn. I used one strand of worsted Lion Brand Wool-Ease.
I stretched it out as far as I could. When I blocked it.
After blocking it only measured 25" in diameter.
It might work for the Christmas tree Skip puts on a table in the living room. Otherwise, I'm not sure what I'll do with it.

It was a fun knit with interesting cables. If you want a big one, use the yarn and needles recommended.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Sock Yarn Blanket

I have been plugging away on this sock yarn blanket for quite a while, using odd bits of sock yarn left over from various projects. I'm using a 3.25mm needle so it has a nice 'drape'. My 3" squares are 20 sts on each side. So I cast on 41 sts (20 + 20 + 1 corner stitch).At the beginning of each row, I slip the first stitch to create a nice edge which makes it very easy to pick up the stitches on an adjacent square. On the right side I do a ssk, k1, k2tog on the middle 5 sts. I use a stitch marker before that corner knit stitch. On the other side, I just knit across. I keep decreasing in this way to the last 3 sts, then slip the first stitch, k2tog, pass the slipped stitch over, snip the yarn with a 3" tail and pull the stitch through.
I had been knitting it as a big rectangle with the 'spine' going in one direction but it looked kind of boring that way. After looking at some online and Mo's, I decided to turn it 45 degrees so the 'spines' were vertical. I think it's a much more interesting looking blanket that way.
However, it means I have to knit as many squares again to fill in the corners. I've been getting contributions of sock yarn as I'm getting tired of my own remnants.

This is a good project to do when I'm (binge-)watching foreign TV shows on Netflix. My latest find is a Danish show, 'Dicte'. It is about a journalist who moves back to her home town Aarhus (capital of Jutland) from Copenhagen. It has English subtitles so it's hard to knit lace and watch it at the same time. If you liked 'Borgen', the Danish political series on TVO, you'll probably like 'Dicte'.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

MCN Handspun

At Rhinebeck last year, I bought a braid of Into The Whirled MCN (Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon) roving.

In the last couple of weeks at various spinning opportunities, I decided separate the darks from the lights and spin them separately. Then two-plied them.
I got 222 yards out of the darks
and 162 yards of lights.
I now need to determine a nice, two-colour pattern to knit.

Wishing I Had Smell-o-vision

My favourite peonies have bloomed. Although the one on the right is gorgeous, the one on the left has an exquisite smell. Smell-o-vision would be amazing to have right now.
I try to keep blooms on my kitchen table for as long as possible. I should get about 3 weeks' worth on the shrubs outdoors unless the rain wipes them our after blossoming.
Another favourite is this purple jackmanii clematis. It seems to love this spot along the fence.
 These blooms also last a couple of weeks. At my previous house, I had a clematis that bore dinnerplate sized white blooms. If I ever find that kind again, I'll grab it.
This solomon seal was given to me from a friend's garden when we moved in here 20 years ago. It is still going strong.
These lilacs are almost finished
just as this prestonia lilac beside it is coming into full bloom. The later lilacs don't smell nearly as strong as the earlier ones.
Potentilla is blooming.
Bleeding hearts are still in bloom and the hostas are ever-expanding.
Skip has worked very hard to fill in bare spots with some colourful annuals.