Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend update

It was a pretty quiet one here at Chez Wandering Cat, but relatively productive. Saturday was cold and wet as the storm that blew in turned to freezing rain. Today was much nicer and Dave and I did get out to enjoy the sunshine and a nice long walk. But, most of it was spent indoors. Dave killed zombies and played guitar, while I attempted to make pie crust.

And what did I learn from this exercise? It's much easier to just buy the pre-made pie crust. But I did manage to make some tasty apple tarts in the process:They don't look like much but I promise they are delicious! Just don't eat them without a napkin or plate. The crust tastes fine, but it just won't hold together.

Over the course of the weekend I mostly worked on the crackghan - almost done another row - but I also cast on for that unbloggable project I mentioned earlier:As it is unbloggable, this is all I'm going to show you. And all I'm going to tell you is that it's made from our lovely new Slinky Cat Fingering - a fantastic yarn to knit with. Right now there is only one colourway left in the shop (Copper Penny, which is rich and warm and just beautiful) but hopefully there will be more soon.

I also cast on for my 3rd shawl of the 10. I started working on the Chicago Shawl, but in the end decided it wasn't the result I wanted with the yarn - so I started designing my own. Right now it is just a giant blob of knitting:
This yarn is Fiddlesticks Country Silk - and it has the most unusual texture. It's a wool/silk blend, though you wouldn't know it by looking at it. It's rough, but not scratchy, and at the same time the knitted fabric has a really nice sproing that makes it... comforting. It's really hard to describe.

So that's the excitement for this weekend. I'm off to heat up some tarts and get out the ice cream. I'll leave you with a better look at the results of Friday's dye day:
They will be in the shop soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Cause I've got yarnz!

The snow stopped long enough this morning for me to drive up to Mom's and do a little dyeing (without her and now she's sad). It started up again and made for an interesting drive home, but at least I got to play today.

Here's a sneak peak:On that rack is some Fluffy Cat, Top Cat and Alley Cat. It should be up in the shop in a week or two. Although, Mom has already laid claim to one skein, and I'm having a hard time letting go of another one.

While I was up there, I also scammed some more yarn:From right to left:

Wandering Cat Yarns Top Cat in Snails. This one has been in the shop for a while, and hasn't sold yet. I've always liked it and so does Dad. It's one of the few colourways he's commented on. Since Father's Day is only a few months away, I figured I should grab it and make him some socks.

Wandering Cat Yarns Slinky Cat in Steel: This is our new fingering Merino/Silk. It was in the shop and one skein already sold. But this skein has a couple of broken plies, so I'm going to use it to make an special gift - can't say what or for who because she reads my blog

Wollmeise Twin in We're Different Spice Market: Like many knitters, Mom has a bit of a Wollmeise problem. But to her credit, she's been destashing and trading away lots. As an objective party (I don't quite see what all the fuss is about - it's nice yarn but it's not that nice) I've been helping her decide what should go on the chopping block. However, Spice Market is one of the few Wollmeise colourways that I absolutely love - it's the reason I fell in love with the Nutkin pattern. So, I snagged it! (Don't worry she has three others, and this one didn't match them very well.)

So while I've probably got about a foot of snow and it's still falling, it's all good cause I've got plenty to keep me busy

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Knitting Limbo...

... that's where I am. I've cast off Tea Leaves (still totally thrilled with it) and I don't know what to do next. I should probably finish one of the projects I've got on the go (one sweater, two pairs of socks, one pair of gloves and two crackghans) but I'm just not really feeling that.

I could cast on for another Loch Ness Monster, but I can't find the pattern at the moment.

I should probably cast on for another shawl, as I am trying to knit 10 this year.

I have a couple of designs in my head I want to get out on paper...

... but what I really want to do it buy some new yarn.

I really have to stop reading other people's blogs. I was reading one (can't remember who) and they did Liesl (A pattern I've wanted to do for a while, and right now I'm all about top down yoked cardis) in Blue Moon's Luscious Silk Single.

Now, you know how I feel about silk, and I loved the Madeline Tosh I used for Tea Leaves, which is a single ply.

So right now I'm resisting the urge to buy a couple of skeins. I want this colour:Motley Hue. Normally I'm not a blue person, and it may just be the name speaking to my 80s Hair Band past, but I really, really like this colour. But buying yarn just isn't in the financial cards right now - what with the speeding ticket I got and rent coming due and all...

Sigh... I guess I'll go work on one of the Crackghans.. it's a good way to clean your palette between projects.

Oh, and we are indeed getting more snow up to 25 cm (about 10 inches) overnight! Woohoo. I don't have to work tomorrow, and I'm stocked up on milk and hot chocolate so it's all good!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tea anyone?

Holy Crap! Valerie knit a sweater! And it took her less than a year! Amazing! Tea Leaves is finished and I am absolutely thrilled! I've never had a sweater I knit fit so well. There is not one thing I don't like about this cardigan! The round yoke is very flattering.

I did enjoy knitting it in the round - not having any seaming to do was nice - but it did get a little and heavy and awkward as it grew. And having 300-some-odd stitches gets a little tedious. That said, I'm am still planning on designing Dave a top-down sweater, so I guess it wasn't all that bad.

But back to the sweater at hand - I only made a few mods to this one:

Because I have a freakishly short torso (but freakishly long legs - go figure) I cut it by about 3 inches. It comes just past the top of my hips which is perfect. The sleeves are about an inch or two longer (to accommodate my freakishly long arms) than in the pattern, but that's something I have to do to every sweater I make.

I also cut the amount of garter edging. The bottom called for 18 rows of garter stitch. I did 10.

The final mod was to do three button holes instead of two. This was due in part to my need to have things in threes, but also because in the pattern, the buttons looked waaaay too far apart.

I bought these buttons a while ago, with nothing in particular in mind. But when I started the cardigan I knew they would be perfect... and they are.
I just had to order some more for Mom because she fell in love with them when she saw them.

About the yarn:
It's knit with Madeline Tosh Merino (colour is Kale). With the exception of the first skein, it was all pretty well matched for hand-painted yarn. In regular light (ie - no camera flash) the difference is barely noticeable. It's a single ply worsted and it is definitely one of my favourite yarns. It's soft and smooshy with very little itch. It does, however, fuzz up quite a bit, so if you're looking for a smooth yarn that shows off stitch definition - this isn't it. It also attracts cat hair like no yarn I've ever seen - or maybe it's just that the cats would seek this out whenever I set it down.

My only complaint is that the dye came off on my hands - but that's not the end of the world - hands wash.

I still have almost two whole skeins left. Guess what I'm going to do with it? I'm making myself a Loch Ness Monster! (And some will go in a crackghan of course!)

I almost forgot - here is a pic of that lovely snow I was telling you about:

Only an inch or two - but they say there is more on the way.. YAAAY!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Be careful what you wish for

I've been extremely jealous of all those people who have been enjoying my nice snowy Canadian winter, despite the fact they are not in Canada. Here (in my part of Canada at least) we got squat.

I am one of those crazy people who likes snow. I love how it looks, I love the stillness in the air as it falls, I love how it crunches under your feet. I love sitting inside curled up with my knitting and a hot chocolate as it covers the outside in pure, angelic white. I even love it as it warms up, and it starts to melt. Being outside in the warmth of the sun as the snow melts and spring returns is a great feeling.

But here, on the south end of Lake Ontario - we've had none of that. Oh we've a had a few dustings... but mostly it's been grey and dreary... and grey and dreary is no fun unless there is snow!

But that all changed today. I wish I had taken pictures before the sun went down... it's very pretty.

Not so pretty to drive in though - the 15 minute drive from my Mom's took almost twice that long as I enjoyed near-zero visibility. And then - when I got home - there was no milk for my hot chocolate! (Thanks Dave....why is it so hard to send me a quick email that says "hey I used all the milk" so I can pick some up on the way home???)

So, snow - can you go away and come back when I don't have to drive and can enjoy a nice milky hot chocolate?

At least I still have knitting.

I did manage to step away from the crackghans a for a few hours after blogging last night and I did some more work on Tea Leaves. (Well snow, at least you're keeping it cold enough for me to wear this)

I've got about six inches or so left for the final sleeve:
(I've got the work camera for the week - and it gives a much
better representation of the colour of this yarn - gorgeous!)

Once the sleeve is done, I'm taking out the cast off on the body. I made the body shorter than the pattern (I have a short torso) but I think I skimped a little on the garter stitch. The edge keeps folding up and I want to see if a few more rows will keep it from doing that. After that, it's just the button bands and the quest for the perfect buttons - I think I can finish it this week!

So, I'm off to it.

If I can get it back, that is..

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anybody up for an intervention...

.. becauseI think I'm in need one of one....

This crackghan is totally addictive. While I should have devoted this weekend's knitting time to the Tea Leaves Cardi, which is so close to completion, instead I completed another row on the crackghan...
... it's up to 23.5 inches long, so it's a little more than 1/3 of the way there.

And after completing that row, I went and did something totally crazy.....

While I was cleaning out the stash, I came across many part balls of heavier yarn - DK and Worsted... and I got to thinking... (can you see where this is going?)...
Why not make some heavier ones? So yeah... I started a DK weight one today - Crackghan Mark II.

If there is one thing I regret about the sockweight one, it's not making it wider. It's wide enough for just me... but if Dave wants to snuggle - he's totally out of luck. So - the DK one will be big enough for two.

As you can see, I'm doing this one on an angle so it will have smooth edges, unlike the sock one with has jagged edges. The squares are just a little larger than the sock one, as I went down to 24 stitches from 32. I'm using 3.25 mm needles.

While it is heavier, it's probably going to take me longer than the sock version, a) because it's going to be bigger, and b) because the DK leftover stash isn't near as healthy as the sock leftover stash. I've knit more sock and shawls than anything else and the sock stash got a huge injection from Mom, my grandma and Jeanne. I am going to go raid Mom's and see if she has any DK bit balls hanging around, but it's still going to take a while to get enough yarn for this puppy.

I've started a basket for worsted leftovers, but I'm not going to cast on for that one for a while yet.... at least a day or two. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mmmm... fibre!

A quick thanks to everyone for their kinds words about the passing of Dave's uncle.

As you can imagine it's been quite the week and I have very little knitting done to prove it. When I have been knitting, I've been working on the Tea Leaves Cardi - almost done the first sleeve, but a picture at this point wouldn't be very stimulating. My goal is to finish by the end of the month so I can at least get a wear or two out of it before the weather warms up, so hopefully you'll see pics soon.

Despite my lack of knitting, I do have fibre content for you. Mom updated the shop with the fruits of last weeks labour. There is some new Fat Cat and Alley Cat and two new shades in my favourite - Fluffy Cat
Graze... and...Coral Reef

And Mom has a new favourite - introducing Slinky Cat Fingering (we previously only had Slinky Cat in lace weight)
It's a 4 ply 50% Superwash Merino/50% Silk blend, 435 yards

It's available in...
Steel.... and.....
Copper Penny!

Stop by the shop and check them out!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cleaning House

While spring is still several weeks away, I've been getting the itch to do a little spring cleaning.
Not just tidying up and organizing (though that is sadly need and will be done), but cleaning out things I don't need and just generally simplifying my life - in all aspects. It's part of the reason I left Job #2 - I was just starting to feel overwhelmed.

Dave an I have already done it with our diets - there is very little processed food left in the house - mostly canned goods, cereal and crackers.

I do it frequently with my closet - two or three times a year, I clean it out and ship what I'm not wearing off to my best friend. It's kinda sad that I can do that and never run out of clothes. I love to shop, especially for clothes and shoes. I've been really good and haven't bought a new pair of shoes since I bought my big girl shoes. I'm going to try to do the same thing with clothes. When you can go two months without doing a load of laundry (yes.. I can - yes... I have) - you probably don't need any new clothes.

I want to go through the entire house and get rid of the clutter - anything we don't use/need - I want it gone.

And lucky for you knitters... that means yarn too.

Yesterday I went through my stash. I filled up two garbage bags (yes, Sam...TWO garbage bags...) full of acrylic yarn I am just never going to use. Sam and her sister are going to go through it and whatever is left I'll probably donate to a seniors' centre. Most of it was from my grandmother and great aunt. My intention was to use it to make baby stuff and afghans... but I just really don't enjoy knitting with it... and if you're not enjoying knitting... what's the point?

I've also put several more luxurious knitting items up on my destash on Ravelry. There's some Debbie Bliss, Rowan and more. Please take a look and if there is anything you're interested in - let me know!

All items are from a smoke free home...

But.... as you know...
... it's not pet-free.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saying good-bye...

... to WIPs and a good man.

Here's two projects to mark down in my "Finish it February" personal challenge.

First up - the Crayon SocksPattern: From my head - Basic 3-1 Rib with 3 inch cuff
Yarn: Socks that Rock - Lightweight
Colour: Unknown - it's a mill end

I did most of the second sock at my final shift on Saturday at Job #2. I finished up the toe when I got home and immediately put them on. Nice and toasty.

Second - Little Boy GreenPattern: Baby Sophisticate - Free on Ravelry
Yarn: Wandering Cat Yarns - Big Cat (only used one skein!)
Colour: Huntsman

Quick little knit - I cast on for this on Saturday night and cast off today. The yarn - this is our newest edition to the Wandering Cat Line - BIG CAT! It's worsted weight, superwash merino - Scrummdiddlyumptuous! It's not up in the shop yet - but keep your eye out - I'll let you know the minute it is.

I hope everyone had a good Valentine's Day. Ours was unfortunately marked by the untimely passing of Dave's uncle. While he wasn't in the best of health - it was still a shock. He was only 55 and leaves behind his wife and six-year-old son. Make sure you give your loved ones an extra squeeze - because unfortunately we just never know how much time we have together.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday funday!

Mom and I did a little dying today We dyed Alley Cat, Slinky Cat, Fluffy Cat and Fat Cat!

Most of it's drying at her place, but I had to bring these two home because she was threatening to steal them!
They are destined for two separate baby sweaters for impending arrivals. Its hard to see in the pic, but the one on the right has lovely little hints of blue and pink throughout.

The hardest part is waiting for them to dry - I want to knit with them NOW!

A while back we ordered some samples from a different supplier. We really like our bases, but we wanted to see what else was out there. We weren't too impressed by the yarns in the sample package, but as I was going through the bag - I realized there was probably enough in each sample for a crackghan square or two!

So, as we were dying, I was dipping these little skeins into every colour we played with:
These little guys are hanging over the heat vent right now, and when they are dry you can bet I'll be working them into the crackghan!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


... I am such a faithless knitter.

I couldn't wait to cast on for the heart socks.Already at the heel (ankle length... of course.)

I guess knitting monogamy is just not for me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm in love....

...with myself!

I've decided to make a little Valentine's gift for myself. Dee over at Tangled Up in Sticks and String put up a lovely free pattern the other day, and it was like she had been reading my mind. I've wanted pair of socks with eyelet hearts for a while. I have one that's toe-up, but I really can't be bothered to learn toe up at the moment... so I was going to design my own... but designing takes time... and this is pretty much exactly what I wanted!

I was up at Mom's for dinner tonight so I snagged a skein of Top Cat (because oddly enough... I don't have any pink or red sock yarn in my stash!)
Colour is Candy Girl.

I will probably start them this weekend - but I want to cast off my STR socks first... I've just got to the heel on the second one... so maybe a long night of knitting tomorrow and a little more on Friday and then I'll be knittin' up a little love...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Frozen Leaves Finis!

Well here it is... Frozen Leaves all blocked and ready to wear... and I am!

This was a really fun knit. It was a little confusing at first. The designer, who is obviously very talented, is Russian - so the English translation isn't all that clear.

Unless you understand shawl construction, the charts may be confusing, but I understand someone on Ravelry has redone them and they are better. That said - with a few looks at other's finished projects and some common sense, the original ones aren't hard to figure out.
I did make a few mods:
The pattern is done without a centre stitch - which looks quite nice, but I was having some issues with the double yarn over. I got tired of those issues so I just said screw it and threw in a centre stitch - which works just fine too.

The pattern calls for lace weight yarn and 3.5mm needles. As mentioned before, I knit this with our Wandering Cat Yarns Top Cat, which is fingering, on 4mm needles. The result is a slightly less open space between the leaves but I think it works.

The colour is "Mystic Midnight". It's a beautiful colourway that happened totally by accident - but as you can see it was a Happy Accident! It's full of moody greens, purples and blues. I am going to try and duplicate this and get some up in the store for you all - it truly is one of my favourites (yes I know, I have a lot of favourites... but this one is on top of all those favourites!) It's the perfect way to dress up a plain black dress with just a touch of elegant colour.
The Top Cat (Merino/Cashmere/Nylon) worked out beautifully for the lace. It's soft, has great stitch definition and blocks beautifully! Definitely not just for socks!

Unfortunately I only had one skein which lead to a couple more modifications.

I ran out of the Top Cat about halfway through the second chart and I really didn't want to rip back and do less leaves (I'd also neglected to put in a lifeline like I'd planned - I knew when I started I probably wouldn't have enough yarn). I had some solid black Regia that would work in a pinch, but as usual Mom saved the day... she had a skein of Lorna's Laces in a nice soft black - a much better match than the stark black of my Regia.

So - I cut Chart 2 short by about 12 rows, added a double garter ridge between Chart 2 & 3 and completed the border in the soft black Lorna's Laces. I also cut the border short by two rows because I prefer patterns in multiples of threes (that's just a weird personal artistic thing).
The result (because of the limited yarn) is a nice little shawlette measuring about 56" x 25". I will definitely make this one again - I'd love a larger version and both Mom and I agree it would make a beautiful wedding shawl (if I can ever convince that boy to marry me!)
I really motored through this shawl too - I'm not sure if I was just feeling particularly monogamous, if it was the yarn, or just the pattern or a combination. Once you get working the leaf stitch pattern (31 rows) is very easy to remember and you want to knit just one more row to see them unfold.
This was also a great practice shawl for me. I feel a lot more confident about starting the Red Dragon shawl with my Handmaiden Sea Silk. It's one of those yarns that's almost too nice to knit with. I really don't want do screw it up! But I think I can handle it now - scary lace is scary no more!

Monday, February 8, 2010

This post is brought to you by the letter 'F'

Since it's February and it's a little frosty outside, I thought I'd write a post on topics beginning with the letter "F"

Fibre: I've been a bad business person - mom has done two updates in the shop and I haven't mentioned either. There is some new Alley Cat, Stray Cat and Fat Cat up... check it out.

Here's my latest favourite:
Creeping Phlox

Free time: After a lot of thinking and some serious number crunching, I have gleefully said goodbye to Job #2. It's not that it was a bad job, it was easy and everyone was nice. I was just starting to feel overwhelmed.

So, now I'm sitting here with a whole bunch of free time ahead of me thinking, what am I going to do with it?
Fill it of course - one of the reasons I let the job go was to focus on expanding the amount of freelance writing I do. Dave is also planning on starting a business from home, so I will be helping him get that off the ground. And then there is the whole Wandering Cat world, with yarn, jewelry and beads, that I'd like to devote more attention to. And of course designing... so it's not really free-time, more like flexible time I'm not tied to any one project or workplace for a set amount of hours. And its time spent doing things I love, rather than just "work"

Frozen food: As mentioned before, Dave and I are trying to cut as much processed food out of our diets as possible. We are doing pretty good - the freezer is free of chicken fingers, fish sticks and the like. But it's made it tough for the nights when we get home late, or I just don't feel like cooking.

But I've come up with a solution - faced with a mountain of leftover mashed potatoes the other night, I decided to make some Shepherd's Pie. But instead of making one large pan and having another mountain of leftovers, I went out and bought a bunch of individual aluminum dishes with lids - voila - frozen dinner with out all those preservatives. I plan on doing this with lasagna, maybe some macaroni and cheese or even stir frys. Just heat them up in the oven when you're hungry! I will probably make some more up this weekend.

Funny: I generally leave for work before Dave, and normally by the time I get to work, there is an email about the cats stalking him while he's getting ready. This morning I got this: "Put your yarn in kitchen closet the dam cat 10 minutes after you were gone was running around with yarn in his mouth you had better lock that shit up"

This made me laugh so hard, because if Dave had his way, the cats wouldn't be allowed to do anything. I already have a hook on the basement door (where they get put at night when Dave is here because they keep him up) because they learned that if they take a run at it, they can force it open. His studio has a hook on it, because he's convinced the cats can open it - they can't he just wasn't pulling it shut all the way so it wouldn't latch. Said kitchen cupboard has a latch on it, because Peno likes to open it - just for fun. She doesn't want in she just wants it open - which drives Dave crazy.

Finish it: A few people have asked if I'm going to take part in Ravolympics. I'm not. I don't like putting myself under that kind of pressure - not with my knitting. I work for a newspaper, in a world of constant deadlines, I don't like deadlines on my hobbies too.

However, since I'm still riding the high of the cast off Frozen Leaves, I've decided to see how many WIPs I can get off the needles in the remainder of the month. I'm calling it 'Finish it February' Wanna join me?

It doesn't matter when you started you projects or how many you finish, or even if you start one fresh... the fun is to just see how many we can finish by the 28th! It's not a deadline, it's an open-ended challenge.

Sneak Peak

It's a crappy picture for colour, but it shows the lace pattern beautifully
After several long hours today, I finally cast off Frozen Leaves.
I'll get better pictures, and give mods and details later this week after blocking

Friday, February 5, 2010

Little Pinky

I did indeed salvage the yarn that Rocky thoroughly mangled. And for those of you who asked... yes, he's still alive... but only because he's so darn adorable....

See for yourself:I've completed another repeat or two on the shawl, but I can't show you any pictures. It's sooo big on the needles I can't spread it out and it just looks like a giant blob of knitting.

What I can show you is that Fluffy Cat shawlette that was blocking all those weeks ago. It's no longer blocking and Mom took some lovely photos for me:
The plan is to get the pattern together sometime this week. When I do, you will be the first to know.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I think his soul is made of pure evil...

You remember that comment about spoiling cats...? I take it back - at least about one of them.
After working 12 loooooooooooong hours - I came home to this....Actually.. it was strewn across the entire house, a little chunk in each room. I guess at least he didn't chew through this like he did with the last one.

But you know what really ticks me off... this was tucked away in a knitting basket - with a lid on it!

Grrrr. I guess I'm off to untangle some yarn.

Monday, February 1, 2010

If spoiling my cats is wrong... I don't want to be right

Is it wrong to want to buy a couple of skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino to make your cat a blankie?
Every time I pull out the Tea Leaves cardigan a leave it unattended - I find Peno on it. Last night was no exception. I finished blogging, turned around and there she was (with Mr. Rocky trying to figure out if she might share). What is odd is that Peno is the kind of cat who will run and hide if you look at her the wrong way. But she absolutely refused to get off my cardi. I had to pull it out from under her. She really loves that yarn.

Under the heading of spoiling your cats - Tux has been thoroughly enjoying his couch. But it's been pretty cold and there is a really strong draft that comes across the floor, right by it - so I wanted to make sure he was warm enough...
... he's a cat that just loves to be tucked in! (Mom says I need to have a baby - I say why? I have a furbaby!)

On the knitting front I've just been working on the Frost Leaves shawl. I have the pattern memorized now (it's only a 31 row repeat - that's not weird is it?) and I can work on it without referring to the chart. That will change when I get to the border but for now I'm trucking. I've completed four repeats and I'm working on the fifth...Sorry about the crappy picture - there are days when I really miss my SLR camera.

I think I only have two or three more repeats until I do the border, but it's hard to say because:
1) the pattern doesn't give any measurements (at least not in the English version)
2) The pattern is written for lace on 3.5 mm needles. I'm using fingering on 4 mm.
3) I only have 400 yards of this lovely yarn and very little chance of dying more to match (this was what I call a "happy accident" skein) so it's going to have to be a shawlette and I'm going to have to be very careful on my guesstimating repeats so I don't run out. The pattern gives a very unhelpful 383-437 yard guideline.

I thought this yarn was nice for knitting socks (its our Top Cat - Merino/Cashmere/Nylon) but man - is it ever fun to knit a shawl with. It's unfortunate I don't have more, because I'd love to turn this into a full size shawl. I think Mom and I are going to have to start dying some "matched" skeins in case anyone wants to knit shawls with it - what do you think? Would you like to see multiple skeins of one colourway in the shop for shawls? If so, are there any particular colourways that are your favourite?