Almost, a few ways

Joe’s been gone six days now. It’s a long time apart for us, and as much as I enjoy time alone, I’m ready for him to come back. There’s a certain luxury and magic in time alone – I eat what I want, do what I want, keep the schedule that suits me, and for the first few days, I revelled in that. The fourth day I started bugging my friends, and by yesterday, the down side of this much time alone started to show up. One of the things I like best about alone time is the chance to think.  It might be the byproduct of all those years as a mum with little kids, with never a single moment to think things through, but I love it.  Too much time alone though? The result is too much thinking. By day six, I’ve become what I think of as “The Queen of What If”.  What if that squirrel comes back and eats another hole in the roof and we need to fix it?  What if I that thing I said to my friend was the wrong thing? What if I made a parenting mistake when Amanda was three?

Now, being the Queen of What If isn’t always a terrible thing. I like how it helps me think of problems before they happen, and how well it lends itself to imagination, but it can also be a sinkhole.  Too much time in that place, and I find myself agonizing all day, and laying awake at night examining every minor and inconsequential problem I’ve ever had in minute detail, and carefully thinking through every mistake I might ever have made, while simultaneously worrying about all the mistakes I’m very likely about to make, while synchronizing that with trying to solve problems like world poverty.

Usually, at some point in that scene, Joe comes home from work, and I tell him about the potential problem with the squirrel who hasn’t arrived yet, and how we’d better begin saving up for the roof, because it’s only one of about twelve situations that we’d going to have to start getting anxious about, and he’ll look at me and say, in the kindest, and most nonchalant way possible “You’re a crazy lady. You know that, right?”

He says that, and that’s it. I’m yanked right back into the real world, and we have dinner, or watch a movie, and he makes a thousand jokes, and I go right back to thinking about things like rogue squirrels the exact amount that a sane person should, and totally leave off with phoning my children and telling them that we should have dinner together because I’ve thought it over and we need to talk about the plan for the whole rest of their lives. (Our daughters will be especially glad of Joe’s return this week.)

Without him, the crazy train rolls into the station, and there’s not a lot to keep me from buying a ticket for a nice long ride, and I know this about myself, so this week I tried to make a few plans, to have some things to do, and to knit LOTS, because there is nothing that beats down the crazy better than a nice long stretch of knitting.  You’ve  heard the expression “I knit so I don’t kill people”? This is more like “I knit so that I don’t worry about things that can’t be helped anyway.”  Behold, the object of my intention:

little dress 2015-09-03

It’s that little dress I mentioned a while back, and despite that long, full, grey skirt being a bit of a long, dark, tea-time of the soul, it’s getting there. Another bit of knitting today and I’ll be at the border of the skirt, and that border is only 28 rounds, and even though the rounds have more than 300 stitches, how long can that take? (I’m me, and I’ve ben alone a lot, so I can actually tell you. It’s about 2.5 hours, if I don’t take any breaks for coffee, instagram, or texting all of my friends to tell them what in their lives I’ve been worried about too.)  When I realized that I was actually that close to the end of the knitting, which meant that I was that close to the start of the crochet, it occurred to me that I might want to get myself together in that department.  Namely, I wondered if A) I know enough about crochet to get that part done, and thought I might want to start looking up techniques and figuring out what exactly the European pattern means when it says Double Crochet – since the answer can vary, and B) I figured I should get a crochet hook.

hooks 2015-09-03

Now, it’s not like a little crochet doesn’t come up here and there in knitting – I hook when I have to, and I use crochet hooks as knitting rescue tools all the time, but because I’m not a crocheter, I don’t have a full company of crochet hooks. As a  matter of fact, all the ones I own are in that picture, and after giving the pattern for the little flowers a go, I was able to figure out three things. A) I did it wrong. B) I have the wrong hook. C) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I think it would be easier with the right hook.   Off I went to the craft store, where I bought a hook that I think is both better, and the right size, and while I was doing that I think I figured out what the instructions probably mean, and so – I’ll give it another go tomorrow.  I think I got this.

flowerdet 2015-09-03

Now, another round of Karmic Balancing Gifts? (There’s still a lot.)

Helle wrote me with two great presents, the first is some Sandy’s Palette Coopworth fleece 4.6oz, a bar of soap from The Felted Soap Lady, and a dragonfly candle holder that she’ll be sending to Joanna S.

helleroving 2015-09-03

The second is for Celeste N and it’s Knitspot Regatta sock pattern and 2 skeins of Lorna’s Laces hand-dyed Shepherd Sock. Thanks Helle!

hellesocks 2015-09-03

From Deike, four amazing gifts! First, for Rhian D, 100 gr tussah silk roving, unbleached. and Deike says it’s amazingly soft.

Deiketussah 2015-09-03

Second, isn’t this pretty?  It’s 100g of wool, dyed with madder that will be going to live with Andrea M.

Deikepinkroving 2015-09-03

Third – some of Dieke’s own beautiful handspun.  Two 2 skeins Wensleydale/Merino wool in rainbow colours. The skeins were spun to roughly match in colour progression, and I’m sure that Cordula B is going to thrilled with that.

Deikehandspun 2015-09-03

Last, but not least, Deike has inexplicably knit herself a Colour Affection shawl that she’s never going to wear. (Why we do these things, I don’t know, but we all do it.)  She’s going to trust Karma to find it a home with someone who loves it more – and behold, I really hope that’s Liz F.

Deikeaffection 2015-09-03

Diane got a Karmic Balancing gift last year, and so this year she’s paying it forward, and this gorgeous skein of Madeleine Tosh Sock in Tart is going home to live with Jamiee A.

Dianetoshsock 2015-09-03

Meredyth went on a stash dive and came up with three skeins of hand painted LaJolla superwash Merino. One Brazilian Emerald for Dee J,

meredythgreen 2015-09-03

My Sweet Valentine for Kate C,

meredythpink 2015-09-03

and Singin’ the Blues for Sylvia S. Thanks so much Meredyth!

meredythblue 2015-09-03

Emily also got a gift last year, and she’d like to pay it forward as well. She has a skein of Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in the Cognac colorway.  That’s for Melissa H and she is welcome to choose one of Emily’s independently sold patterns from her shop on Ravelry as well!
emilyirish 2015-09-03

Jenn and Meghan make  beautiful pottery at their beautiful shop JamPDX, and they’ve got a very charming yarn bowl to send to Beth R. Isn’t it lovely?

yarnbowl 2015-09-03

Cat, from CaterpillarGreen Yarns (you know how I feel about that one) has a generous gift for Diane T.  One large skein self-striping shawl yarn in “Concrete and Tulips”. (She points out that the gift is the skein of yarn, not the shawl beneath it, which is her precious baby.)

concretetulips 2015-09-03

Jane sent along this pretty picture, along with saying “I will send a spinner 6 ounces of roving from  one of my alpacas.  (That’s a link to her shop.) He is gray and I mixed his fleece  60/40 with wool (merino we think but not sure) that had white in it.  I dyed the whole lot in these beautiful colors and the pink is gorgeous, spins up to a lovely heathery pinkish.  I prepped the fiber at a small mill in Michigan where you work along side her.  It’s been picked and carded into roving. ”  I think it’s lovely already, and I hope that Anne M loves it too.
janeroving 2015-09-03

Steph at Three Fates Yarn has a gift of a beautiful gradient kit – It is 400 yards of sock yarn in “Museum of Contemporary Craft/A Very Aqua Fluevog” colourway, and it is going to live with Jerry D, who I bet feels like a pretty lucky duck right now.

threefatesgradient 2015-09-03

Sarah, over at The Martini Knitter, has a very nice present.  2-at-a-time Socks, and yarn to go with it! She’ll be sending that along to Cindy M.

sarahsockbook 2015-09-03

Maggie went for a wander through the stash, and came up with the perfect things.  She’s going to send this skein of Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Twin in  Merlot to Cheryl M. Maggie’s been saving it for something special, and I’m honoured that she thinks the Rally is special enough.

maggiewoolmeise 2015-09-03

That wasn’t enough for Maggie, so she went back into the stash and chose this yarn specially.  A ball of self striping sock yarn and the color is “Best Friend” with 3 rows “Lean on Me”, 3 rows “Bestie”, 3 rows “I’ll be there” all surrounded by 5 rows “BFF. ”  Perfect for a Karmic Balancing gift, and I hope that Penny B feels the love.
maggielollipop 2015-09-03

Finally, though I hate to end this party, but have got to do something else with the remains of the day… Kathleen has this very, very nice hand painted roving that she’ll be sending to Jessica F. Thank you Kathleen, you’re wonderful.

kathleenroving 2015-09-03

That’s it! Whew – that put a bigger dent in the pile… I can almost imagine the end is in sight – though we’re not done yet.  More tomorrow!

 

Flipbook

roving 2015-09-02

single 2015-09-02

single2 2015-09-02

skein 2015-09-02

ball 2015-09-02

knit 2015-09-02

knit2 2015-09-02

wash 2015-09-02

foldedcowlbywheel 2015-09-02

peekaboo 2015-09-02

samcowldetail 2015-09-02

cowlwholesam 2015-09-02

holdingcowl 2015-09-02

How much fun is that, to see the whole project, start to finish, all in order. Makes me think that knitting blogs are really just stop motion knitting movies, happening really slowly. Roving: Western Sky Knits  Pattern: Hudson Lace Cowl

I’ve got a little more time, so more gifts! (I swear there’s no end in sight. Your generosity is really unbelievable.) I don’t have time to do many, but a few is better than none.

Beth, who owns the beautiful shop Dancing Dog Studio, has this incredible hand made bracelet to give away.  Isn’t it pretty?  I hope that Debbie R thinks so.

beaded bracellet 2015-09-02

Generous knitter Sarah has a lovely gift she’ll be sending to Jyoti P. and not only is she generous, she has great taste. 320 yards of Argosy “Hannah sport” 50/50 merino/silk.

argosy 2015-09-02

The lovely Sally, friend of the show and owner at Rivendale Farms, has  2 skeins of alpaca/bamboo from her beautiful alpaca Teagan, that she’d like to send to Andrea G.
rivendalefarms 2015-09-02

Mia, sweeter than pie, has not eight, not nine, but ten skeins of a beautiful Merino/silk to send to Kristi P.

miasyarn 2015-09-02

That’s all I have time for today, but tomorrow I’m going to try and push through a lot of them. Thanks guys, you’re all amazing

 

Nothing to see here

This cowl I’m knitting and I, we were nearing the end of the road. I’d powered through what was almost left of the knitting, and I was at that tricky bit at the end of a handspun thing.  I had a little bit left when I finished the repeats of the lace, but I handspun is so precious that I hate to waste any, and this particular skein ended in a bit of brown-ish business that I thought would look nice at the edge.  I decided, likely because Joe is still out of town and that makes me believe I can concentrate on things, to play a little game of yarn chicken.  I measured out what i thought would be a rows worth, tied a little knot in that spot, and started to knit. When I got to the end of the round about 30cm before the knot, I decided that I should use that length to calculate how many rounds I could get out of what was left, and come as close as possible to using it up.

Now, I know this cowl and I have been having a hard time of it, and so far my math (or lack thereof) hasn’t exactly been at a stunning level of calculation.  Still, it seemed to me that if I was generous, and padded the thing with an extra rounds worth or two, then I should be ok. I measured, figured out I had enough left for 12 rounds, and decided to do 10. Then I had a moment of incredible clarity, remembered that binding off takes more yarn than just knitting a round, and decided to do eight. Eight, plus two rounds worth for the cast off, with two lengths as insurance.

At first, it seemed to be going pretty well, but as the rounds advanced – the yarn started to be consumed at an alarming pace.  It still looked like I might make it, so I kept on knitting.  At the end of the thing, with just the bind off left to go, I counted arms lengths of the yarn left.  9. Well, I thought, that’s probably fine.  I’d calculated that I needed about 4 to do a round (although it was starting to look like I’d done that math as well as wet cats express cheerfulness) so 9 should be enough for a cast off.

castoffno 2015-09-01

It wasn’t.  With about 46 left to go, I ran out.  I cursed, and thought about my options. I could pull the work back – taking out the garter stitch edge, and then a few rounds of the lace, then bind off again, that would work, but I was so close to done… the other thing I could do, it occurred to me, was get more of the yarn.  I only needed a metre or less, and while I didn’t have any more of that fibre to spin up, I do have a lot of fibre upstairs, and my little emergency bag of bits and pieces. I felt sure that I’d find something. I headed upstairs, and stood in the stashroom for a minute (It’s more of a stash closet, to tell the truth, but I like the sound of stashroom) and looked around. Most of the yarn is on shelves, like at a shop, but the fibre is in bins on the shelves, and I reached out, and pulled down the one that I thought my bag off oddments was in, and nope – wrong bin.  That was my bin of single balls of fingering weight yarn for colourwork, and I was about to shove it back on the shelf when I had a thought. I gave the bin an experimental stir, and there it was.  A single ball of yarn that looked like it was exactly, precisely, amazingly the right colour.  Not   “it will do in a pinch if nobody looks too closely” not even “only I would be able to tell the difference” I mean – perfect. Absolutely perfect. I pulled off a couple of metres, and just about ran downstairs to check.

matchymatchy 2015-09-01

Look at that. The only thing wrong was that it wasn’t the right weight.  I tried it single, and it was too thin. I tried it doubled, and it was too thick. I needed something right in between, and that’s when it occurred to me that the yarn I was holding was a two ply.  I split it into two plies, added one of the plies to an intact length, and tried that.

matchdone2 2015-09-01

It was amazing. I bound off, wove in my ends, gave the thing a bath (because it was still full of beer) and voila.  The whole problem took about 2 minutes to solve, and I can’t remember the last time I knitting problem got fixed that quickly around here.  I feel as though the whole thing was kismet, or maybe I’d paid my dues on this one, and the knitting fates decided that I’d had enough – whatever the reason, the moment I grabbed the wrong bin, things got way better.  (I’d like to take a moment to point out that if I was super organized, and totally knew where everything was, I’d probably still be spinning. Untidiness has surprising advantages. Stick with it.)

washdone 2015-09-01

It’s drying now, and the world’s top knitwear model is coming over later, so pictures tomorrow. I love how it turned out.  Now, I have an hour before I need to do something – so, Karmic Balancing Gifts it is!  (I’m determined. This long queue of them is going down.)

First up is Katrin,  she specializes in historical textile techniques, and sells materials and tools. (Her shop is very cool. Have a peek.)  She has a medieval style spindle (the whorl is detachable, and the spindle is a very fast one), with spinning instructions (available in German or English) and a bit of wool from three different breeds. Katrin will be sending that along to Shelley C.

medivalspindle 2015-09-01

For Janell H the pattern for “Dread Pirate Roberts‘ Favourite Winter Hat” (I love me a good Princess Bride reference) a hat worked top-down in the round (no swatching needed, because all the pirates she knows hate to swatch), and the three-dimensional skull-and-sabres motif can also be used on any other item knitted in the round. Along with it will come an oil-light wick holder and wicks in a tin, a tealight-sized glass, and a lid to extinguish the flame. It uses vegetable oils as fuel, making it an eco-friendly alternative to regular tealights in their aluminum shell.

pirateroberts 2015-09-01

Jenny has a beautiful shop, full of handmade wooden things (the spoons!) and she’s got a beautiful set of lovely handmade things she’ll be sending to Annestasia G.  Rustic DPNs (I love those) and buttons, and a beautiful nostepinne for the loveliest hand wound balls.

jennywood 2015-09-01

Linda has a present from her stash for Tabitha N. It’s 4 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in the colorway Lorikeet – saturated primary colors of red yellow and blue.  100% Superwash wool. Total 900 yards.

llindashepherd 2015-09-01

Carol (who says in her email that she’s definitely achieved SABLE -that’s Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) has two very, very nice presents.  The first is 8 balls of Silky Wool for Kacie R.

silkywool 2015-09-01

The second is a very nice set of sock yarns and a set of rosewood needles to knit them with, and she’ll be very generously sending those to Caroline R

cyperfiberset 2015-09-01

Janice D has a very sweet idea for a present.  She’ll be sending a $25 gift certificate for Knit Picks to both Sarah N and Jackie D. (It’s hard to come up with a picture for that one, but I think she’s great.)

Robin Hunter wrote, and she’d like to offer a very grand thing, a pattern for  her beautiful Noreen Elliot shawl,  and a skein of 100% alpaca yarn to knit it with. She’ll be sending it to Marilyn B.

robinshawl2 2015-09-01

Ok, I’m out of time- more tomorrow, and a finished cowl.

 

More and More

Joe packed up this morning and took off on a business trip, and to be totally and completely honest, his timing is great.  I’ve got something I’m working on, so the peace and quiet will be nice, and frankly he’s been on such a roll around here that yesterday Ken texted to ask if Joe and I were still married. We were, we are, and poor Joe has had a heck of a week, and I think that he’s just as happy for a few quiet days as I am.  He’s had one mishap after another, and last night the guy tried to make up for the craptastic week he’s had, and we went out for a sail with a friend of a friend.  It was lovely, and just the thing to make me think I would miss him and the remarkable sense of misadventure he’s brought to this week. We docked the boat when we were done, and Joe went below and got three beers, and passed one to me, and I opened it, and then plunked it down next to my knitting and then climbed up and over to flake the genoa. (That’s “fold up the front sail.” Joe likes it when we use proper terms. I think he likes to imagine we’re in the Navy.) He sat with his friend, chatting, and I was feeling great about our marriage philosophy.

cowlboat 2015-08-29

Whenever we’re stressed out, or things aren’t going well, we redouble our efforts to be kind to each other. It’s sort of a “fake it ’til you make it” idea.  If he’s bugging me (or the other way around – frankly that’s more likely) then we pour on the sweetness.  Forgot to do an important task? That’s cool man, I’ll do your laundry and fold it.  Left the car lights on (three times in a few weeks)? Your favourite dinner.  Ask me to meet you at the boat at 5:30, and then show up late at 6:30? That’s fine. I’ll rig the boat for you while I wait. This week has been just like that, and Joe knows it, so while he sat, I was happy to flake the sail, and do the tidying up.  I got it done, and Joe paid me a compliment about how well I do it (I am the best out of all of us, I think it’s all the laundry) and I asked him to pass me the sail bag from below, and he climbed down to get it, and then (likely because I bugged the hell out of him this week too) he came out on the bow to pass it to me, instead of waiting for me to come and get it. Very nice of him.  As he stepped back into the cockpit, and made to go over where my beer and knitting were, I said “watch out for that beer” and he said “OF COURSE I WILL” in a way that implied that he is not even remotely the sort of person who would not ever not watch out for a beer, and then promptly knocked over the beer, and drenched the cowl and yarn.

He looked right at me, then at the beer, spreading through the knitting and handspun, and he said something like “My flight is at 9.”

I’ll miss him – though I’ll miss him more when my knitting is dry.  (I suppose the beer will wash out after.)

I promised Karmic Balancing gifts for today, and I’ve got 2 hours – so I’ll whip through as many as I can -

Susan B, charming and lovely knitter that she is, has this gorgeous lot (800g!) of original Rowan Denim, that she’ll be sending to Stephanie N.

rowandenim 2015-08-29

Laura Neel would like to share a copy of her book, Sock Architecture with Margaret N.

sockarchitecture 2015-08-29

Linda L has very generously decided to send this POUND of cotton sliver to Linda R.

cottonsliver 2015-08-29

Lexy is offering ten balls of Kidsilk Haze in the once limited-edition and now discontinued shade of Daffodil. They’re still in the original bag, and I bet Rebecca D will be thrilled.

Chris Riley, over at Upstream Alpacas, has a really beautiful batt to share. (Everything in that shop is very pretty.)

upstreambatt 2015-08-29

It’s baby alpaca and silk, in a gorgeous colourway called “Black Rainbow” and I bet that Becky S loves it to death. (I would.)

Kristen, over at the charming Rosetwist shop (check it out, it’s jewelry made from rose petals) has a button and rose bead stitch markers for Melissa B. The beads are made of rose petals, and they smell like roses!

rosemarkers 2015-08-29

Jessica has a very nice present for Kelly B, 225g of undyed Perendale wool. Thanks so much Jessica!

perendalewool 2015-08-29

Nina, sweet as she is, has a project bag from Grace’s Cases (love them!) for Rebecca S.

baggracescases 2015-08-29

Three really neat presents from Judith Brodnicki, and Elizabeth Lovick, who got together to come up with some fun stuff.  Of their first gift, Judith writes “Print copy of Exploring Shawl Shapes, plus 2 hanks of Zitron Trekking Hand Art (75% superwash wool, 25% polymid) in the Sansibar colour.  Exploring Shawl Shapes has an expected release date of June 2015 from Northern Lace Press.  It is basically all of Liz’s workshop lessons rolled into one 98-page book.  Not only did I have fun in designing the book, but working on it gave me the courage to try out some new skills!”  Very neat, and it will be off to Barbara A.

shawlshapes 2015-08-29

Of the second gift she says “Print copy of Centenary Stitches, plus 6 hanks of Cascade 220 Quattro (100% Peruvian Highland wool) in colour 5024 (blues and greens).  I used Cascade 220 to knit the Service Cardigan, which is one of the patterns in the book.  Centenary Stitches is a book containing most of the patterns (for knit and crochet) that were used to costume the independent film Tell Them of Us.  There are 170 pages with patterns, information about the film and Crowder family (whose story is told in the film), and techniques.  More than 200 volunteers came together to knit and crochet for this film.”  Nifty, right? I love this idea – I hope that Tess Y. does too.

centanarystitches 2015-08-29

As if that wasn’t enough “DVD of the independent film Tell Them of Us. Produced in the UK by WAG Screen, this is the true story of the Crowder family of Lincolnshire during WW1. The script was created from the letters and diary entries of the Crowders.  I am the graphic designer listed in the credits (I designed the DVD cover, among other things), and I’m also one of the 200 volunteers who knit and crocheted items used in the film.  (You should see the list of knitters and crocheters in the credits — it’s impressive!)  I am also including from my stash 7 hanks of Fibranatura Shepherd’s Own (100% wool, natural colour).”  I’m very jealous of Rachel L.

tellthemofus 2015-08-29

Yvonne, over at the Dublin Dye Company, has a wonderful gift.  Corrine P will be choosing the skein of her choice from the shop.  (This one is 75/25 merino nylon ‘Swing’ sock yarn in the colour Sundae, but she can have any one she likes.)

dublindye 2015-08-29

LeeAnn has two charming little balls of My First Regia, she’s so sweet, she’ll be sending them to the equally darling Jessica M.

firstregia 2015-08-29

Finally, (I know, but it has to stop somewhere today)  Susan over at Spinning Bunny has a really lovely set of gifts from her shop.

spinningbunny 2015-08-29

It is 4oz / 113g of hand dyed black/blue face leicester top in Rose and a top whorl spindle hand made by Jim Johnson. The spindle has a Padauk bowl whorl with a maple shaft and weighs 1.2 oz / 34g – and they are both really, really lovely and will be going to live with Karen R. 

That’s it for today, more tomorrow!

That moment right there

There are a lot of things about knitting that I like. I like that I’m making something, I like that those things are (mostly) beautiful.  I like that it’s good for my brain, I like that it’s good for my sanity (mostly) and I like that my ability to make clothes gives my fellow humans a fairly decent reason to help me stay alive after the zombie apocalypse. Those are the big things I like.  This morning, drinking coffee and planning my day, I was knitting on the cowl and I looked over at the ball of yarn, and my heart leapt a little for just a moment, and I thought of a small thing about knitting that I like.

almost 2015-08-28

It’s that moment that comes after you’ve ripped back a bunch of knitting, and you’ve wound the yarn that you pulled from your work back around the outside of the ball.  You start knitting again, and you’re using the yarn you used before. Pulling it from around the ball, gaining back the ground you lost. You keep knitting, and knitting, but none of it really counts, and then you happen to glance at the ball, and see that there’s only a little bit wound around the outside anymore. Another few rounds, another few wraps disappear, and then it is that moment. It is that great moment when you’ve knit up all the yarn you knit before, and suddenly you’re knitting fresh yarn, yarn that’s never been knit before, and the whole world opens up again.

newyarn 2015-08-28

No matter what came before, everything from that moment forward, is progress. I love that moment.

Since I’m making progress on all manner of things today, not just the cowl (by the way, I’ve updated my gig page again. Check in if you’re near Boston, Calgary, Lethbridge, Vancouver, St Andrews By-the-Sea, or The Dalles. A bunch of you have asked about Rhinebeck, and yes, I’ll be there, but just as a knitter. I’ll be around, but have no events scheduled. Cuts into the wool time.)  I thought I’d tackle the Karmic Balancing gifts again. I know, I’m horribly behind to have that still going on, but it’s amazingly time consuming – and I keep needing many hours free to catch up. Today I have two hours to throw at it, so let’s see how many I can get through! (I’ll keep going as I have time. I promise. If you’ve sent me an email with a gift, you’ll hear from me when its your turn.)

First, some gorgeous patterns from Susanne Visch. (You know, one of the best parts of this is getting to see patterns I hadn’t noticed.  I love these.) Susanne has very generously donated at ton of them! She will be sending her Gladiool hat and cowl set to Beth J.

Gladioolhatanccowl 2015-08-28

The Ijskristal hat and cowl set pattern goes to Susan.

ijskristalhatandcowl 2015-08-28

Zoel hat and scarf pattern to Rosane M.

Zoelhatandscarf 2015-08-28

The very beautiful Schelp Shawl will be going to Kathleen P, Karen W and Colynn H.

schelpshawl 2015-08-28

Moerbei is for Hannah S, Crystal R and Helen O.

moerbei 2015-08-28

Bloemen in het gras (I don’t speak Dutch, but I bet that means “blooming in the grass) shawl is for Mary M, Amy F and Stephania F.

bloemenshwl 2015-08-28

Her charming Zeeglas Cowl goes to Susan H, Rose M and Ashley F.

Zeeglas 2015-08-28

The Flits! Cowl is off to Monique G, Sally O and Miriam E.

Flitscowl 2015-08-28

and last, but certainly not least, Kay B, Victoria L, and Elizabeth A will be enjoying a copy of the Ayamaru Cowl.

Ayamarucowl 2015-08-28

Carolina has two generous gifts, a stocking kit with all the fixings for Jennifer D.

stockingkit 2015-08-28

and 14 skeins of beautiful Alpakas yarn for Jesse K. (14 is a lot. I wonder what Jesse will make?)

lotsalpaca 2015-08-28

From Shannon (delightful person in real life, and friend of the show) her fantastic bundle of knitting apps.   Knittrick and Knitamus for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. (I actually use these, and love them) for Arlin C, Elizabeth C, and Maro B. (All their emails were sent from Apple devices, so I know they can use them!)

knittrick 2015-08-28

If that wasn’t enough, Six skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico, Cinnabar colorway.  50% baby alpaca, 50% raw silk. Delicious stuff, and it’s enough for Katy A to make the Etched Rio Wrap (which is what Shannon planned it for, but it would be awesome for anything.)
metalico 2015-08-28

Whew! I know that doesn’t look like much, but that’s 27 gifts! More tomorrow, I promise.  Joe’s out of town, and when he’s not around, my whole world opens up. For now, I’m off to the sailboat. Midge beckons, and there won’t be many more days like this.

 

Actually, in Reverse

For something that started so quickly, that cowl is totally going the other way now. The spinning and plying flew by and now…  The problem is me, like it always is.  I started knitting the cowl, charging along – following the pattern and when I had about 8cm, I realized that the gauge wasn’t working out, and that it was coming out too small, and… I ripped it back added another repeat, and kept going.

Now the astute among you will notice that I have here violated knitting rule #1, which is that I didn’t do a swatch, if I’d have done a swatch, I would have known my gauge was off, and that it would be too small, and I could have prevented the wasted knitting time. It’s a cowl though, and so I broke the rule, and when I had to rip back there was nobody but me to blame, and it wasn’t that much time wasted. The cowl is small, it’s fast knitting.  That first rip didn’t even bother me. It took two minutes, I pulled it all out, I added another repeat to the stitch count, and I started knitting again.  Now, is there anything you think I missed there? Any step that I should have taken, any technique I could have used at that moment to make it more likely that things would go better for me in the future? Yes, yes there was, my little poppets. I have here executed classic knitting mistake #2, which is that if you make a mistake, then it is likely best not to repeat the mistake and then expect the result to be different. I was in trouble because I didn’t measure, and I could have gotten out the measuring tape, and I could have seen how much it was too small by, and then I could have added an appropriate number of stitches based on that, rather than just adding “some” and feeling better about the whole thing.

That wasn’t the choice I made though, after executing mistakes #1 and 2, and so when I realized that I hadn’t added enough stitches (for the second time) and it was still going to be too small, there was nothing to do but blame myself again.  I pulled the work back, and added two more repeats, and started again.  Returning to the astute among you, we see that I have still not made any mention of a measuring tape or simple maths, even though I have now been twice punished with wasted knitting.  Inexplicable choice, that. Inexplicable. Still, I am who I am, so I added more stitches, started again, and knit until it was more than clear to me that I still had a problem. Then I knit for a while longer.

That’s right. Classic knitting error #3. I knew it was wrong, and I kept right on going while I thought about that.  I kept knitting and knitting, and the more I knit, the clearer it became that I now had not one, but two problems. First – the cowl was not going to be big enough, and second, it wasn’t going to use up as much of my handspun as I wanted. There’s nothing quite as sad as wasted handspun, so… I knit for a while longer and thought about how sad it was that I was making this mistake. I kept knitting, and knitting, and every so often i would spread it out on my leg and sigh, and think about the mistake I was making, and then do another few rounds. It was late into the evening before I decided that I couldn’t ignore it any more – so I knit another few rounds while I thought about how to solve it. This, of course, is knitting madness, brought about by brought about by an unwillingness to live in reality, and I kept knitting like knitting would solve my knitting problem. The more I knit, the bigger the problem got, and the more I knit the less I wanted to pull the work out and start again.  I thought about alternate ways to solve it while I knit. I thought about living with it (obviously, I was leaning that way), I thought about doing some increases and making a weird shaped thing. I thought about knitting socks instead.

rippingmeasuiring 2015-08-27

Once I’d sighed several times, and spread it out again, and the problem was still there (despite all the times I’d tried fixing it by doing nothing) I finally took the needle out of it, and got a tape measure, and went to the scale, and faced a few facts.  First, yes. It was too small.  I wasn’t getting gauge, and it wasn’t going to be big enough. Not quite. Second, after weighing the thing, it was plain that I wasn’t going to use up the handspun. I was more than halfway through it, and there was way more than half the yarn left.  I think that was when I poured myself a decent size glass of wine, reminded myself that I had nobody to blame but me, wondered absently how it is that I never learn my lesson, and ripped the thing all the way back.

Now I’ve started again. I’ve done the math, I’ve used a measuring tape, and I’ve (once more) sworn that I this is the last time that I’ll ever screw up in this particular way.

redocowl 2015-08-27

I’m 12 rounds in, and I vow, this will be a cowl. There’s no other mistakes left for me to make.

Right?

Whoosh

Whoosh, that’s the sound that the last week made as it blew right by me. I’ve been so determined to enjoy what’s left of the summer, before everyone gets all the way back to work, and the weather turns. There’s only a little time left for sailing and bike riding, and going outside without layers on, and I haven’t wanted to miss a minute of it – so that’s where I’ve been, making hay while the sun shines.  A very busy September looms right around the corner (I’ll be in Lethbridge, and Calgary, and Downsville, Wisconsin, and there’s another one I’m just about to add in Boston) and that month will be all hotels and airplanes and knitting and writing. Since I saw you last I’ve snuggled Frankie, and read a story to Luis, been for a very long and lovely bike ride (I can’t believe I just typed that about a ride that was 110km long. I don’t even know myself anymore) and ate peaches in the sunshine, and been to about 4 meetings, and worked (almost) every day and KNIT and SPUN.  Yay verily, the time of the big yarning is upon me, and I can barely stand to put down the needles or step away from the wheel.  It feels fantastic. I had a big attack of startitis last week, and managed to rein it in enough that I only started one thing.

babydress 2015-08-24

I know. It doesn’t look very exciting, but it is.  It’s the little dress on the cover of this book, and it’s miles and miles of tiny knitting that culminates in a ton of – wait for it… crochet.  I know, I know. I’ve said I don’t like it, and I meant that, but this little dress is worth it, and crochet is the perfect thing here and, well. We’ll see how I feel about it when I get there. I saw this dress all knit up the last time I was at StevenBe, (I bet they still have all the parts, if you were to ring them) and I think it’s just about the most charming thing. I feel like this dress is the whole reason that I have a little niece, and wing of moth, she will own it, no amount of crochet can stop me. (Again, let’s note the date and time I said that, and correlate it with the actual action of crocheting, and its attendant swearing later on.) For now, it is miles and miles of plain stockinette, and that leads me to what I needed to do to break that up a bit.

I’d gone into the spinning stash with every intention of coming out with another two rovings so I could try the gradient experiment again, and inexplicably came down with this braid of roving instead. It’s a gorgeous bit of business from Western Sky Knits, and I’d forgotten it was even in there.  What happened after that was so fast that I barely noticed what was happening.

westernskyroving 2015-08-24

In the blink of an eye I had a full bobbin…

westernskybobbin 2015-08-24

I blinked again and there was two…

westernskybobbinstwo 2015-08-24

Then a skein…

westernskyskein 2015-08-24

Which I tried to put away…

westernskyskeintwo 2015-08-24

Somehow while I was putting it away I wound it.

westernskyball 2015-08-24

And now it’s becoming a Hudson Lace Cowl.

westernskycowlnot 2015-08-24

Actually, that last picture is a lie.  I’ve ripped it back since then and started again. As is so often the case with handspun, I wasn’t getting anything that was remotely like gauge, but I liked my fabric, so ripped back, added another repeat, and went for the do-over. I’m in love, and I don’t know why. The colours aren’t me – but I loved it when I bought the roving, and I freakin’ love it now. Every once in a while there’s just no explaining that kind of thing, and I’m just going to roll with it. (I may rip it back again. I still think it could be bigger.)

Finally, in between all the knitting and spinning and fun I’ve been having, I got a pattern finished.  When I knew that Frankie was coming, and that he would be born in hospital, I decided he should have a very special outfit to wear home. I wanted something perfectly sweet, and unisex, and simple, but charming.  I designed what to me, is the perfect layette.

frankiewhole 2015-08-24

A sweet little top-down, seamless sweater, with a matching bonnet and bootees, and trimmed with plain, good ribbon and four perfect little buttons.

nouveaunewhole 2015-08-24

It’s mostly plain, with the bonnet, bootees and sweater all adorned with an old favourite of mine, Bee Stitch.  Bee stitch is a “knit one below” stitch pattern. Instead of knitting the stitch on the left needle, you knit into its mother, below. It collapses the stitches atop each other, and makes it extra cozy and sculptural.  I love it for so many things. (I used it on Luis’ blanket, and I use it for washcloths all the time.)

frankiefeet 2015-08-24

I made the neck big (because of the way that babies sort of don’t have a neck) and the sleeves a little short, so they don’t fall over their tiny hands and get chewed on, and the sleeves and armholes are nice and wide, so that it’s easy to get on and off.

nouveaunesweater 2015-08-24

When I was done knitting it, it was everything I’d hoped for – to my way of thinking, the perfect newborn layette.  I wrote it up, waited for Frankie to be born so he could model it, and voila.

nouveaunebootees 2015-08-24

Nouveau-né, that’s French for newborn, and it’s the name of the design.  I hope it warms many a wee one.

frankieface 2015-08-24

I think Frankie liked his.

Randomly on a Wednesday

1. I don’t know what came over me. Despite being behind on so many things, when a chance to go to the cottage for 24 hours came up, all I could think about was swimming in Georgian Bay, knitting in the sunshine and eating peaches, and I got in the car and left.

2. It turns out that swimming to the big rock with your sister doesn’t get old, even if you do.

bigrock 2015-08-19

3. My middle daughter, Megan, turned 24.  I have few words for this, since I’m really not sure it’s possible.

megbirthdaybetter 2015-08-19

(That’s her puppy, Penny. I have no dog. The cat will not tolerate such nonsense.)

4. I updated my gig page, with everywhere I’ll be in the next little bit. Have a look, if you’ve been trying to hang out. There’s some good stuff, and there’s still spots.

5. I finally finished Ken’s Rally Socks.  I didn’t tell you about that, because I was trying to be all stealth.  I began them on packing day for the Rally, and knit them all through our trip together.  Last year I made Jen some socks to thank her for being my co-lead, and this year it only seemed fair to continue the tradition, especially since Ken was good enough to step up and help me when I was really in a bind.

kenssocks2 2015-08-19

He totally deserves them. I couldn’t have had better help.

kenssocks1 2015-08-19

Last year I made Jen’s socks out of the colourway that Kim at IndigoDragonfly came up with as a fundraiser for the ride. This year I thought it would be nice to do that too.  (Hey, did you know that IndigoDragonfly sponsored our team shirts again? They’re awesome.) In any case, I wrote to Kim and asked her if there was a rally colourway, and she asked me to stand-by, and I did, and a very little while later, a package arrived at our door.  I opened it, and inside was several skeins of yarn, all in a colourway I didn’t recognize, and a letter.

kenssocks3 2015-08-19

I asked Kim if she wouldn’t mind if I told you what the letter said.

Dear Stephanie,

You asked me to send you a special colourway to knit Ken socks with, if we had done one for the Rally.  Every year we change up how we’re going to raise a little money for your team, sometimes we choose a yarn base, sometimes we make a colourway. This year it was a yarn base.

But there is a special Rally colourway.

There is one pot of this yarn in existence. There will only ever be one pot of this yarn in existence. It is for your team. There are skeins for each of you, and a skein to knit Ken’s socks.

Let me tell you about this colourway and why it’s for your team-

Brown: for every time you’ve fallen and gotten up to keep riding.

Red: For every bump and bruise, every scrape and cut. And for your hearts, that keep you coming back year after year to do the crazy.

Pale grey: for every piece of gravel you’ve picked out of your knee, every rock you’ve hit with your tire, every pebble that’s slingshotted into your glasses. And yet, you keep going.

Black: for strong tires and a fast road.

Blue: for clear blue skies to ride with, and the wind at your back.

Ride well and strong, my friend.

Kim

6. The colourway name? “The Seven Deadly Schwinns.”

kenssocksprogress 2015-08-19

I think Kim and Ron are just about the best ever. Businesses don’t have to act this way. To contribute actively to their communities, to support things they think are good. It’s optional, and I think it’s amazing that they do it year after year.  Thanks, guys.

Maybe just one more ball

Today I’m posting late pets, because I just did one of the wildest things that I’ve ever done, from a knitting perspective. Do you all remember my sister-in-law Kelly? She’s been a regular on this blog since the beginning, and Kelly has a wild life. She lives all over the world, most recently in Madagascar, and now she’s been home for a few months to see Frankie safely born, visit with us all, and… frankly, to restock on yarn.  Kelly and her husband Ben are done their work in Mada, and now are taking off for a few years in Vietnam, and since there will be no access, or limited access to yarn while she’s gone, and since Kelly has a pretty significant knitting habit, and pretty limited luggage space, before she leaves for a whole year without a re-stocking opportunity, today she and I went shopping for (get this) an entire year’s worth of yarn.

That’s right – she’s going to have no stash except for what we were going to set her up with, and the idea was so overwhelming that we decided we needed a good plan. Kelly’s been collecting patterns that she likes, coming up with enough projects to amuse her for a year, and today we took that stack of patterns to the yarn shop, and started.

arrivingromni 2015-08-13

We only wanted to make one stop, and we wanted to be done pretty quickly – that kind of pressure gets to you after a while, and Kell was saying that she thought that if she had to do it alone, she’d end up freaking out, buying weird stuff and regretting it all when she got there. It’s a more complicated thing than you might realize.

checkingthelist 2015-08-13

Not only do you need the right amounts of everything, but to maximize her limited amount of space, we needed to make sure that the leftovers from things can sort of hang together, so that a half ball of this and a part skein of that can be a striped something else – you don’t want to be giving real estate to something that could become an orphan.

Now, Toronto has some pretty awesome yarn shops, but if you have to buy a years worth of yarn in a single afternoon, you go to Romni. It’s the biggest, and has the largest inventory, and we thought it was out best bet for big lots of matching yarn, and since part of our strategy was the same yarn, but in lots of different colours… Romni it was.

Dudes, it was nuts. We had a sheaf of patterns, and it was about 15 minutes before the calculator came out, and then the Romni staff was up and down ladders, finding a bag of this, another skein of that…

onthefloor 2015-08-13

The perfect blue, the softest bit of that, finding the perfect colour, but in the wrong weight, the right amounts, the matching dye-lots…

I think by the end of it the staff there had figured out we were on some sort of black-ops mission and not just total lunatics, but I’ll never know for sure. (It’s possible I should shop somewhere else for a while until the memory of how bizarre we were fades a little for them.)

nevergoingtofinish 2015-08-13

The whole thing was really intense. Really intense. When you’re talking about a whole years worth of knitting, everything has to be just perfect I suppose that if we made a mistake, and had the wrong amount or the wrong colour I could technically mail it to Kelly, but mailing stuff to rural Vietnam seems like a terribly slow and expensive way to solve a yarn problem – and since this was a years worth of knitting, it’s possible Kell wouldn’t even know she had a problem for 9 months, and what happens if it’s your last yarn, and it’s the wrong yarn? What’s she going to do… not knit until the yarn gets there? What if the yarn was wrong for the pattern? What if we miscalculated, what if Luis is way bigger in a year?

We feel really proud that it only took about 90 minutes.

thehaul 2015-08-13

(Note to you: That is not all of it. Note to Ben: Sure it is.) in the end, we felt pretty stunned by the whole thing. Kelly’s got about 15 knitting projects there, big, and small, and creative ways for all the leftovers to go together that will give her a few more…

thisone 2015-08-13

When we were done, we went to lunch, and I got out some paper and we compared the patterns and the yarn, and made a list and put them together so that seven months from now she’ll stand a chance of remembering what we were thinking that crazy summer day in Romni, when we bought everything she’ll knit for a year.

wineafter 2015-08-13

I feel good about it, but I’m not the one who just got locked in.  Good Luck Kell.

 

Quickie

A quick one from me to show you the plied yarn from yesterday. Then I’m off to do “something” about the house, which has slipped into a chaos that’s beginning to feel permanent.  I feel like that “something” is going to be cleaning, but am hoping to discover an alternative. (Over the last few days I have tried knitting, spinning, having brunch with my daughter, snuggling a baby, drinking coffee, going for a walk, napping, drinking wine and ignoring it. No dice, and the fridge still smells funny, but will keep you posted.)  Last night I plied up the two bobbins of yarn I had, and the end result, while quite pretty, isn’t quite what I wanted – although I think that next time I try it, I’ll get something that’s more like what I intended.  If you recall – I had two colours of fibre. One reddish-orange, and one brown. I split the reddish-orange into thirds, and spun 1/3 onto one bobbin, then finished with brown, then spun the other 2/3 onto another bobbin, and finished that with brown.  In theory, when I plied those two bad boys against each other, I should have gotten a skein that was 1/3 red/red, 1/3 red/brown, and 1/3 brown/brown.

onniddy 2015-08-11

In reality, what I ended up with was a skein that’s goes red/red, a tiny bit of red/brown, and then brown/brown.  That middle third isn’t as big as I would have liked. Knit up, there will still be a transition, but it won’t be the third I thought would happen.

yarnstrand 2015-08-11

In retrospect (like the funny smell in the fridge after 2 weeks of ignoring it)  this really shouldn’t be a total surprise. I think where I went wrong was when I eyeballed the amount of brown. A smarter spinner, the one that I will be when I try again… a smarter spinner would have done something clever, like weigh the brown and divide it up that way, instead of what I did do, which was guess. Badly – apparently.

yarnskein1 2015-08-11

I think it would have worked better too, if I started with the brown on the wheel, and then the red. I ended up with an unequal amount left on the bobbins – one ran out before the other did, and I think that threw off the calculations – if you can call making a wild guess a calculation, which it turns out you can’t.

yarnball1 2015-08-11

Still, for all the work it is a pretty little ball of yarn, and not a total disaster, and it’s encouraged me to go back up to the stash and try and find another two fibres to try it with.  You know. After I clean. I’m going to start with the fridge, then vacuum the cat hair of of the…. everything, and then it’s back to the wheel.  Anyone have a better way to come up with what I want?