Sunday, 28 May 2017

Crescent Swallowtail Shawl

I finished the Swallowtail Shawl and got it blocked yesterday.
The bendable blocking wires were perfect for the round shapes.
Modifications: I added an extra repeat of the budding lace chart for a total of 9. This made it deeper by a couple more inches. There is an option to do that section in stocking stitch as well.

The pattern also has the knitter go up a needle size somewhere in this section. I didn't. It also has the knitter going up a needle size in Chart B on and again in Chart C. I only went up a needle size once, when I was starting Chart C.
I also did a picot bindoff by casting on 2 stitches and binding off 5, making sure there are picots on the points of the 'swallowtail'. On my first try, I got 2/3 of the way across the bindoff when I realized I hadn't paid attention to where the picots got placed. I tinked all the way back to the beginning of the bindoff and when re-commencing the picots, I made sure the swallowtail tips had a picot. This also makes it very easy to run the blocking wire through the picot creating nice 'swallowtails'.
I not only like this pattern because it is a crescent shawl, but it also allows incremental increases. The original pattern only allows 14 or 19 repeats of the budding lace to align with the Lily of the Valley pattern. Adding one, two or more repeats gives the knitter much more flexibility and the ability to make maximum use of the yarn. In this case, luck was with me as I only had 5 metres of yarn left over after the bindoff.
I do recommend running (and leaving in) a lifeline after the 8th repeat of the Budding Lace pattern if you are going to do extra repeats as it will make it much easier to frog back to that point if you find you're running short of yarn in Chart C.

Another thing I like about this pattern is the L O N G garter stitch tab (34 rows/17 ridges) used to start the shawl. This avoids the strange peak that often occurs in crescent shawls.
 The rambouillet yarn that I used was luscious. I hope I can find another source for this yarn. I'm also very pleased with how the tonal dyeing worked, providing different shades of this golden yellow dye. There will be more yarn dyeing in my future...

Friday, 26 May 2017

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Tomorrow will mark the 10th anniversary of the inception of this blog. I started it  way back in 2007 just as my school-teaching career was winding down and as my renewed interest in knitting was getting into full swing.
I've learned a lot more about knitting and have improved my skills significantly.  My favourite thing about the blog is that it has chronicled my activities over the past years and has been a handy pictorial reference. I use the search feature ('SEARCH THIS BLOG' to the right) whenever I want to find a specific post or topic. Skip and I have had many adventures both knitting and non-knitting related. This public forum is not to everyone's liking but I like sharing what I've learned or what I've done with others.

I enjoy having people reference my blog or tell me that they read it. It is nice to know there are some folks out there who enjoy it. In fact, yesterday there were 173 pageviews, 5116 last month, and there have been 404,322 pageviews since it started. I do enjoy reading the comments and try to respond in short order, although I'm not sure how the person commenting knows that I've responded.

I hope I inspire folks to try new things, travel to new places, enjoy new pleasures.

I plan to keep on blogging and hope you'll keep on reading.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Learning with Lucy (Neatby)

The class we signed up for with Lucy Neatby was called "Various Variegations". We were asked to bring variegated yarns and solids that coordinated and contrasted.

We spent the day learning some of the stitch patterns Lucy uses to highlight the distinct colours in variegated yarn.
The first thing we did was knit a swatch using her Flying Swallows pattern. She's wearing the Fiesta vest above which used this pattern on the front.
We then knit a short row pattern from her Sea Lettuce scarf pattern, practiced a picot bindoff and discussed its uses. I like putting  picot bindoff on a plain edge of a shawl like I did on my Silverleaf Shawl.
We looked at various ways yarns were dyed using various colours, how they repeated, and how they could be used. Lucy explained how to create a 3-ply yarn from a single strand using a chain-plying technique as you go. She used that technique when knitting this Venus Rising cardigan.
Above Lucy's head is this cautionary sign.

(People who don't swatch are destined to spend a lot of time knitting ill-fitting garments or having a lot of UFOs lying around due to frustration.)

Her trademark is her brightly-hued hair. I just loved her glasses which really went with the whole look.

Lucy also explained how the yarn patterning can change with increases or decreases. Although it might be terrifying to cut knitted fabric, a good way to maintain pattern integrity in a bottom-up sweater is to knit a tube then cut the fabric of it for the armholes and neck. Also, when creating decreases, add a waste stitch that can be cut away later. 

I had brought a few balls of my handspun so I could experiment and figure out ways to incorporate my handspun into larger knitted items using contrasting or coordinating solids. She also explained 'Siamese Sleeves' where the two sleeves are knit as a tube with steeks separating the two of them. That way it is easy for colour changes and decreases/increases to be done to both in the same round. When finished, cut the sleeves apart and stitch together along the steek line.
She discussed a couple of ways to create bobbles. She showed us some examples of uses for domino knitting or mitred squares. We then experimented with some Fair Isle swatches and her 'Paintbox Pattern' where she alternates one stitch of main colour and variegated yarn in one row and separates the rows with the solid main colour.  

Lucy showed us several of her knitted pieces including socks that were knit with a double knit sole

and explained a garter-stitch, short row heel (also pictured above). It is great for patterned sock yarns where you don't want to interrupt the patterning with the increases for a heel flap and gusset. It is similar to an afterthought heel but you do the short rows as you go with either a contrasting yarn or the other end of the ball of yarn you're using. She explained that it was like cutting a toilet roll tube halfway around and bending it, then filling in the void (heel) with the garter stitch, short rows. I love her explanations.

This sock demonstrated the use of textured stitches. The tractor was done with intarsia.

My long-time friend from high school, Cathy, was also in attendance so the three of us went out for a good Mexican lunch at Bella Jacks. We did more watching and swatching after lunch and finished up in time to do some browsing and shopping at the Little Red Mitten. There was one door prize - a choice of either Lucy's 'Double Knitting Delights' DVD or her 'Cool Socks Warm Feet' book and my name was drawn!!!!! I'm so lucky. I have the Double Knitting DVD so I selected the book

which I didn't already own. Lucy graciously autographed it for me.
Initially I handed her a blue Sharpie to sign my book, which she refused. She found a pink one that was to her satisfaction, so she could sign my book.

Another Road Trip with Jen1

On Saturday, Jen1 and I hit the road. Our destination for that night was London ON where we spent the night before our class on Sunday with Lucy Neatby at The Little Red Mitten yarn shop in St. Thomas ON.

We had both been researching stitchery and yarn shops en route. Our first stop was Stitch-It Central in downtown Ingersoll. We barely got in the door before we were enthralled with the mere volume of fabrics and stitchery supplies.

The proprietor, Maria Santos, cleverly displayed a line of fabric on the theme of sheep and knitting in one bin. It is the 'Knit Happy' line by Stitches of Love for Henry Glass & Co. Of course I selected 7 patterns and took a half metre of each.
She gave me a great tip. The selvage has all the colours of the fabric. Rather than lug a bunch of fabrics to find ones to coordinate with them, just take the selvage edge strip with you. I loved how this line had sheep as the colour register.
How could I resist these knitting sheep?
And these happy ovine creatures with flower 'leis'?
I also picked up a sampler chart that was on sale which will be a quick stitch. It's the 'Friendship Sampler' from Little Dove Designs.

I will definitely be shopping there again on trips to southwestern Ontario.

Our next stop was at Thread n Eye in London - a very nice stitchery and framing shop. I took a few photos and bought several cross-stitch patterns. The two hummingbird charts were on sale.
I'm not sure I'd use as dark a background fabric but they should be fun to stitch.
We actually see Buff-bellied hummingbirds when we are in Texas.
I couldn't pass up more sheep-themed samplers. This one is 'Jump for Joy' from Country Cottage Needleworks, Chart 119. The lettering and flowers are coral shades so I'd probably use a different colour as coral is not my fave.
There were also laser-cut wooden sheep buttons 'Collection p'tits moutons' from The Bee Company and were made in France.
From Nathalie Cichon at  Jardin Privé,  I purchased "L'Arbre aux Oiseux"
and one of the charts from the "Histoire de Moutons" series. This one is #3. There are 4 in the series that can be stitched on one big piece of fabric.

I decided not to purchase all four so selected this one because the elements were my favourites that  could be stitched individually.
Our next stop was at a very cute, boutique yarn and fabric shop, Knit Stitch on Wharncliffe Road S at Elmwood just north of the Hyland Theatre in London. This was a shop that Jen sleuthed out and what a find! I didn't take any photos. If you like modern fabrics and patterns, you'll love this place. It's bright and airy and she carries lovely high-end fabrics for quilting and sewing and luxury yarns.

Our last shopping stop was at Len's Mill Store on Exeter Road in south London. All the Len's Mill Stores I've been to are crowded, messy warehouses filled with discount goods. They have a lot of commercial yarns but I really like the fabric selection. Jen found some Star Trek fabric and some other fabric for me to make her some pillowcases. (I'm going to teach her how to do it herself - heh, heh, heh).

I had 2 particular fabrics in mind. Unfortunately, I only found one. It's "Draw Near - Art Supplies - Cream" by J Wecher Frisch for Quilting Treasures.

The other one I wanted was 'Watercolour Paints' an all over print with the cream background.

I will keep looking for it.

I made some cosmetic bags and luggage tags for my friend, Marion, a few years back with it as the outer fabric and another set with it as the inner fabric.

After checking into our hotel, we met friends of Jen's for dinner at a nearby restaurant and then settled in for the night.

The next morning we got up and headed directly to St. Thomas for breakfast before our all-day 'Various Variegations' class with Lucy Neatby at the Little Red Mitten. And that will be the subject of my next post.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friday Morning Birding

Skip and I went out birding this morning at Thickson's Woods again. We hoped there would be more action as it has warmed up a bit and there are lots more bugs/midges/food for the birds to eat.
In the woods the ferns are almost all unfurled.
I'm not sure what fern species are used for canning fiddleheads but these could certainly qualify.
I've never tried to eat one so I won't pass judgement on how they taste.
The trilliums are also more unfurled this morning.
We think this is a wild strawberry flower.
There wasn't much to see at all in the woods. Over in the meadow the birds were a bit more active.

We saw a couple of pairs of yellow warblers.
They were very 'flitty' so it was hard to get a shot.
 By this time it was very overcast so I had to lighten a lot of my images.
The flashes of yellow made them easy to spot.
Finally, one dropped down to eye level.
A pair of grey catbirds were making their way through as well.

When they were near the box, the tree swallow stood guard, blocking the entrance.

Back home, the tulips are in full bloom. Totally by chance we have a couple of red and white ones - which could by our salute to Canada's 150th birthday. Why are they caged, you say?

Because last year, the damned rabbits bit off all the blooms and ate most of the leaves. This year, Skip got the cage over this cluster in the nick of time. As it is, the rabbits have eaten the leaves that stuck out beyond the cage.
Lots of other neighbours have tulips that haven't been touched by the rabbits. I'm not sure why we get the 'honour'.

The emerging hosta also got nibbled almost down to the ground.
So Skip put a cage over it, too. Hopefully it will grow fairly quickly and we can remove the cage.
Rabbits are very cute but VERY destructive to gardens. We have been waging war against them for years.