Thursday, April 29, 2010


Today is an unexpected day off. I got into work, and the power was out to the entire business park, with no word on when they will be able to get it back on, so I got sent home. I took advantage of the sunny morning I slipped across the mountain to Mom's, borrowed her camera and lovely mannequin and had a little impromptu photo session with my Sea Silk shawl.

I have to say, there is nothing that I don't like about this shawl. Once again, the pattern is Frozen Leaves and it was a pleasure to knit. Even when it got wider and it was taking forever to knit a row, I loved it. I love watching the leaves grow, and have now favourited hundreds of patterns on Ravelry that feature leaf motifs. I love the lace at the bottom too, it complements the leaves perfectly.

I love the yarn. It's Hand Maiden Sea Silk in 'Woodland' and the colour is a mix of earthy brown and green with a touch of blue. It truly is the colours of a dark mysterious forest.

Even the fact that it is so damn slippery to work with can easily be overlooked when you feel the fabric it creates. It's light, it's silky and has such a beautiful drape to it. As soon as I put it on I immediately feel like a forest faerie princess. I makes me want to tell Dave he has to take me out somewhere special so I can wear my little black dress and spice it up with the shawl.

One of the things I love about silk is that it's surprisingly warm. Despite it's light and lacey fabric, it still keeps away the chill when wrapped around your shoulders.

When mom gave me the yarn, while I loved it on sight, I was apprehensive. This was far too nice to knit with - what if I screwed it up? But this was a great shawl to use it for. Not only does it work with the pattern, but it's a pattern I know I can do, and that I will love the results when finished. The picture to the left gives a much more accurate idea of the colour.

My only misgiving about the yarn (and it's not enough to curb my enthusiasm for it - believe me) is that it smells when it gets wet or damp. I'm assuming it's the sea cell content, because it kind of smells like rotting vegetation. It's not overly powerful or unpleasant - just odd. And when it's dry, I can't smell it at all. So, no wearing this one in the rain.

And I love the size of this one. While the one I made in Top Cat will always have a special place in my heart, this is now my favourite shawl. It's about 65 inches wide - a real shawl, not a shawlette.

My modifications on this one are:
a) I did nine repeats of the leaf motif (pattern calls for seven)
b) I used fingering weight yarn on a 4.5 mm needle (pattern call for lace on 3.5 mm)
c) I shortened chart two as I did on the Top Cat version, because I was worried about running out of yarn - I probably could have gotten away with less leaves and more lace, but the leaves were so much fun to knit, plus the leaves are why I love the pattern.
d) I also shortened chart 3 by two rows, simply because I prefer patterns in multiples of three whenever possible.

Now, so long as the power stays off until about 1 p.m., I won't have to go back into work.... what to do with all that time?

Will I clean the house?

No. I think I'll go knit... another shawl perhaps?

* Edit - I hit publish, put the kettle on and the phone rang... power was back on at work... no free knitting day for me :(

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Settling in

I wanted to thank everyone for their well wishes on the new job. Today was the second day and I'm pleased to say I'm settling in nicely.

Well actually, it's more like I've been thrown in the deep end with out a life preserver, but that's okay - I'm really more of a 'sink or swim' kinda girl. It helps that I've almost always come up swimming. And the people are great. It's a much smaller business than my last employer (only about 40 people on staff compared to 600) and the work culture is waaaaaaaay better. There's optimism, a true open door policy (unlike the fake one at my old job - "sure my door is open, but that's only because HR says it has to be - don't ever use it!") and management actually says "Thank you" when you stay late or go above and beyond.

However, one thing I will miss about the old job is the scenery. My old job was in a much older part of the city. There was fantastic scenery for my lunchtime walks, and a multitude of routes.
This place is in a semi-industrial business park on the outskirts of town. It's not old (they started building it when I was 10) it's not very pretty, and it's definitely not pedestrian friendly. However, it's paved and I can walk on it (as long as I keep an eye out for speeding semis) so it will do.

I was however, lamenting the fact that it would be highly unlikely to find any road treasures here. Then, as I rounded the corner today, I found one! And it's an awesome one!It's a road SWEATER! And it's my size!

It needs a good wash, but seriously, how cool is that? Rocky likes it too (it's 30 % wool!)And now the moment you've all been waiting for!!!!!

Mom put all that pretty Fluffy Cat in the shop!C'mon.... you know you want it......

Monday, April 26, 2010

My favourite thing about knitting...

... is casting off!

I know it may seem like I enjoy casting on, what with chronic case of startitis I have, but really I like nothing better than slipping all those pretty little stitches off the needle - I'm definitely not a process knitter - I like the final product.

Tonight (after almost three agonizing hours completing the last six rows... damn those suckers were long!) I cast off my Sea Silk shawl.

It's blocking now:
I made a few modifications to this one (which I will detail when I give you post-blocking photos) but it is much larger than the last Frozen Leaves I made. This one is a REAL shawl, with a width of a nice, snuggley 62 inches! I probably could have made it a little wider (I cut chart 2 short again) but as it grew, it was harder to gauge how much yarn was needed for each row.As mentioned before, I used Handmaiden Sea Silk the colourway is 'Woodland' (and when I do post-blocking photos, I will get some that accurately show it's beauty.) The Sea Silk is very nice to knit with and creates a gorgeous drapey fabric. However, like all silk yarns, it's slippery as all hell, so I recommend using a bamboo needle. Even then, you'll probably end up dropping stitches (because it flies off the needle at the slightest provocation) and invent a few new curses in the process, I certainly did. But it's well worth it - especially with this pattern.

Normally, I don't repeat patterns. I make one of something, and I find making a second version just too boring (Loch Ness Monsters being an obvious exception) but I do love this pattern. Even when it gets enormous, it flies. Of course, I did cast on for a second Zetor, so maybe I just like knitting lace (you can stop laughing now Mom).

So, now I've done four shawl for my 10 Shawls in 2010 quota. I'm debating on which one to cast on for next. As I was looking through my queue, I realized I haven't knit one single shawl that I picked out when I first decided to take up the challenge! I think my next shawl will be in a heavier weight, all though I do have two skeins of Top Cat, already caked up and ready to go...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday

I don't follow any religion, but I've got to say, there's something to be said for taking it easy on a Sunday.
That's what Tux did all day (raining, so no walk today) and I did pretty much the same thing on the people couch, except I had knitting needles in my hands (and I did manage to make roast chicken for dinner and do a couple loads of laundry.)

I worked away on the Sea Silk shawl allllllllllllll day and it's still not done. I'm finally to the edge, so there are only about 10 rows left. But they are freakin' LONG rows, and frankly, I'm tired of looking at it today.

Despite the lazy day, I'm hitting the sack early tonight (new job starts early tomorrow) and I'll probably tackle those ten rows tomorrow evening... maybe. They are really, really, really long.... I'm beginning to rethink my plans to do the Shipwreck Shawl....

Anyway, hope you all had a great, lazy weekend - tune in for the Monday report tomorrow!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Walking the cat....

... is definitely different than walking the dog.

Mostly it involves following the cat around because there is no way he's following you, or standing in one place while the cat eats grass:Tux reacted really well to the harness and leash. He let me put it on him no problem.

Rocky, not so much:
I couldn't get a non-blurry photo of him because he was trying to roll the harness off. Once we got outside, he was pretty nervous. He mostly hunched in the grass, and stayed there.

Dave got a little more exercise because he had Tux:
Eventually though, they were both content to just chill on the lawn and enjoy a bit of sunI think we'll try to make this a daily event. At least for Tux who was more than happy to explore.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Last Friday of Freedom

I finished up my last day of the old job yesterday. I start the new job Monday. So today was my last Friday off for a very long time (probably Christmas when the company does a two week shut down).

So what did I do to celebrate?

Well, my plan was to sleep in, but Rocky had other ideas and decided that since I got up at 7 a.m. to use the washroom I should just stay up. We argued about it for about two hours, until after realizing there was a better chance of me learning to sky dive than the cat going away, I finally pulled my sad, sleepy butt out of bed.I fed the cats, read my email, then got dressed and headed up to Mom's.

I pulled the rest of the undyed Fluffy Cat out and began tying the skeins (with a little help from Russell):Once everything was tied, I put them in their vinegar bath and put on my running shoes.(Look Sam, I actually have running shoes!) and grabbed Lady's halti and leash. (Just fyi, the socks are Hedera in Forstissma Socka - the first socks Mom ever made me.)

After wrestling the dog to get her halti on, I gave her a ball to carry, and we headed down the road for a good long walk while the yarn soaked:When we got out past the houses and onto the country trail, I let her off the leash and it was fetch time:We walked and fetched until we were both tired (and it takes a long time with that dog!) and then headed home (I had to carry the ball on the way home).

By that time the yarn was good and soaked. So as Lady laid down for a post-walk nap, I headed down to the studio and dyed, dyed, dyed.Well, first I paid proper homage to Emperor Tiberius Felinicus, who wasn't going to let me do any dying unless he got his due first.

I stuck with simple semi-solids this time......and created a little rainbow of Fluffy Cat. Clockwise from bottom right are: Winter Wheat, Rumpelstiltskin, Pink Pearl, Brick House, English Ivy, Blue Topaz, and as-yet-unnamed-blue.

Then after annoying my father for an hour or two I headed home to clean the house (not a fun way to celebrate last day of freedom, but it was getting a little yucky in here).

Now, it's 6 p.m, and Dave won't be home until 9 p.m.... three whole hours of uninhibited knitting ahead!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shawl about our yarn

I'm in a little bit of shawl heaven right now.

Remember how Zetor was all pretty in stitches, but kinda yucky in colour?Well this is how it looks now.
Mom very kindly overdyed it for me because I've been too busy. AND she blocked it out for me. She couldn't pull the bottom down into points as the pattern calls for, because I cast off too tight (I was at the cottage when I finished and didn't have a larger needle to cast off) but it looks fantastic! (Mom also took the photos... she's an awesome Mom, I gotta say.)It's much larger than I thought it would be - about 56 inches wide. And it took just one skein of Top Cat. The Top Cat is a fantastic shawl yarn. This is the second shawl I've made with it. The merino blocks like a dream and the cashmere gives a really soft, luxurious feel. There's still some Top Cat left in the shop, and we will be getting more next month.

Mom overdyed the shawl with one of my favourite blue dyes and it created a lovely mottled purpley, blue and green fabric. So pretty, and even nicer in person.

I definitely want to make a larger, pointier Zetor now. I still haven't ripped out the Starry Zetor, so when the Sea Silk Frozen Leaves is done, maybe I'll finish it up.

I'm not sure if I shared this picture with you before:
This is a shawl of my own design, knit in our uberfabulous Fluffy Cat (colour is pink pearl). I knit this back in January. It was still at Mom's because she took the pictures for me (I'm still between decent cameras at the moment.) I want to get the pattern written up and available to you asap... but I have to find my written notes first... a goal for this weekend I think. It doesn't have a name yet - any suggestions?

To me, the Fluffy Cat is the ULTIMATE shawl yarn. It's sinfully soft, has an incredible drape and creates a light, sensuous fabric. Baby alpaca, cashmere and silk - it really is a luxurious yarn. Want to treat yourself to something special? This is the yarn!

There are five colours of Fluffy Cat in the shop right now. We did a little Fluffy Cat dying today and the results should be up in the shop by early next week (or this weekend if we get frisky). I'll be dying more on Friday as well.

And also on the shawl front, I'm still booking away on the Sea Silk Frozen Leaves and loving every minute of it. I've got six leaf repeats done, and it's starting to slow down because it's getting much wider, but I'm still aiming to finish it up by the weekend... so I guess I better get of the computer....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Into the forest....

Despite Tux's distracting romp outside yesterday, it wasn't enough to keep me from succumbing to startitis... the good news is, I'm really into this project and will probably have it off the needles by the weekend.
So what is this massive blob of knitting? It's another Frozen Leaves shawl. This time in Handmaiden Sea Silk.I wish I could get a better picture of the colour. It's not nearly so muddy in real life. The greens are clear and vibrant, the browns are dark and mysterious, and the blues are deep like the waters of a lake that time forgot. The Sea Silk is lovely to work with and creates a nice drapey fabric.

I surprised myself with how easily I fell back into this pattern. I barely had to glance at the chart and it all came back to me. It's very intuitive.

As I have two skeins of Sea Silk, this one will be MUCH larger than the last. I'm doing it on a larger needle and I'll probably do at least nine repeats of the leaf pattern.

So Dad's second sock is on hold... it's a good thing Father's Day is in June.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tux's day out!

Yesterday was almost a complete write off - Dave and I barely rolled out of bed around noon, and neither of us had an energy to do anything at all. I couldn't even make it up to Mom's to deliver the new monitor we go her.

Instead, Dave hid out in his studio and tinkered around repairing an old lap-top and I stretched out on the couch, watched historical dramas and finished up Dad's first sock.

I'm very pleased I went with plain stocking stitch, and it wasn't nearly as tedious as I thought it would be. I just knit mindlessly away and watched my movies and before I knew it, it was done.

I really should cast on for the next one, but I'm really itching to cast on for something new.

To curb that urge, today I went outside and enjoyed the nice sunny weather. Everything is in bloom. My lawn has exploded with Grape Hyacinths that were planted by some tenant long ago.

They are absolutely every where. I don't remember having this many last year - but that's probably because the landlord had the lawn mowed already. (edit: 20 minutes after posting - lawn crew showed up and hyacinths are mostly gone)

The few tulips that found room in between the mass of wild roses have bloomed (and yes Mom, I immediately picked them all! They are in a jar in my kitchen now.)

And even the pot of pansies that I bought and killed (lack of care) last year proved they are hardier than I thought, and have made an appearance.

While I was out enjoying the sun, I didn't quite shut the door and someone decided he wanted to take a peek outside. So I brought him all the way out.
Normally, the cats are indoor only.

None of them have any street smarts, I have too many neighbours with dogs (of which they are all terrified) and last year, a neighbourhood cat was doused in gasoline and lit on fire by some horrible person they've yet to find.

But Tux is fat, and slow, and as long as I'm out there to keep an eye on him, he can't get into too much trouble.

He loved it. He explored. Tried to scale a fence (but he's too fat and too slow). He tried to eat my whole lawn - and the shrub.

He even wandered down the side of the house to see what Dave was up to:

All in all, we were outside for a good half hour before a dog barked somewhere and he decided it was time to go back inside.

Rocky was very upset and sat in the window and howled the whole time we were outside. But Rocky is too fast for me to let out on his own. Unlike Tux, he'd make it over that fence.

It looks like I'm going to have to invest in a couple of leashes to stake out in the yard. I wonder if I can train them to go for walk down the street?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Knitting content guaranteed

Once again, thanks for all your well wishes for my health. Except for the occasional coughing fit (which sounds like I've been smoking for 30 years) and a serious lack of energy, I'm feeling much better.

The lack of energy could also be due to the fact that I am on a cola prohibition. I have a serious Coke addiction (no Pepsi thank-you - and yes, I can tell the difference in a blind taste test) and since I've done so well with cutting down on the amount of fast food and processed food I'm eating, I figured it was time to tackle the fizzy problem. I did manage to get myself down to one a day (as opposed to three, or four or five or ten) but I still had the odd day where I'd go a little nutty. But as of Wednesday, I'm off the juice - and since it's my only source of caffeine (I despise coffee and only rarely drink tea) I think it could account for lack of spunk.

So the the zombiesque attention required to knit Dad's F-day sock has worked well because I've just been chilling out on the couch watching movies after work, and haven't had the get-up-and-go to do anything requiring more exertion. As a result, I'm past the heel and about one third down the foot. No pictures, because it's just not that exciting.

But that doesn't mean I don't have knitting content to entertain you all.

I stopped by Mom's after work today with the intention of over-dying my Zetor and getting it blocked out, but I didn't even have the energy for that (Dave said he may go to the cottage for more shed-building fun this weekend, so if he does, I think I'll opt out and head up to Mom's to break in the new dye studio). Instead I left Zetor there, and picked up a couple skein of yarn:These are Top Cat from my last dye session. The colour is Magnolia and it's slightly more purple than the picture shows. You will see Magnolia in the shop (with better pictures) soon, because it's such a pretty colour.

I didn't even get a chance to tell you about the rest of the yarn from that dye session because shortly after Mom put them in the shop, they were gone! All that is left is two skeins of Jiminy Cricket:This is one of my new favourites too! The idea for it actually came from a test skein Mom did when she was trying out some new dye. I have a little scrap of it and knit it in to the Crackghan. I liked it so much, I recreated it for the shop.

Even though I've been knitting steadily on Dad's sock, I've been feeling kind of edgy about my projects - I want to start 10,000 new projects, and I really have no inclination to work on anything already on the needles.

I'm sorely tempted to frog the Starry Zetor - I'm just not loving the yarn. I think I'm going to try to knit one more repeat on it this weekend and see if that gets my heart beating any faster for the project. If not, to the frog pond it goes!

I'm also resisting the urge to whip out the credit card and buy a bunch of new yarn for this:She's had each square up individually on Ravelry and finally released the whole set for sale today for $10. I had $10 in my paypal - so into my library it went.

Now those of you that know me are going, "But Valerie, you HATE colourwork". Yes. I do. But this is so damn adorable, and it's an afghan (we know how I LOVE afghans), and it's faeries, and its done as individual squares.

I figured it would be a good way to practice colour work. The only real problem I have with colourwork is that my tension sucks, and everything gets all bunchy and too small... with a blanket, that's not necessarily as much as a problem as it is with say... a hat!

And, I can't wait to see Dave's face when I finish it and put it on the bed! Of course, she also has a pattern for a beautiful fish blanket - so I could make that one for him to make it up to him.

I'm thinking of using something from Knit Picks ... any thoughts, reviews?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You know where you are with an honest pair of socks

As a definitely-more-than-beginner-somewhere-around-intermediate-but-definitely-not-advanced knitter, it's easy to get seduced by the siren song of a pretty stitch pattern.

It's tough to remember that sometimes a nice yarn could - and should - stand on it's own.

You will recall from last blog post, that I had cast on for the Sagittarius socks for my Dad for Father's Day. What I did not tell you was that I originally started designing my own pattern (just ribs and cables - nothing too fancy) but I ripped it out because the yarn was just a touch busy and I wasn't getting the look I wanted.

Then I spent an hour trying to find something I liked on Ravelry - I must say - I'm not that fond of most men's sock patterns. And the ones that I did like wouldn't work with my yarn. So, I decided to cast on for Sagittarius... but just as with my ribby-cables, the yarn was a tad too busy.
So tonight I said screw it and I ripped back to the ribbing. I added five more rows of ribbing and switched to good ole reliable stocking stitch:
Fiona Ellis came to my old guild one day, and she left me with a very valuable bit of advice. She said, basically, that you can design the most intricate, beautiful mind-boggling garment, but if you're not going to wear it - what's the point? In other words, design something you'll wear - no matter how simple.

And as I look at the patterns and designers I really love (Debbie Bliss for example) I realize how true that is. They are classic, timeless - some have beautiful lace patterns, but at the heart of them they are still basic.

So, I have to remember who I'm knitting these socks for - my dad. He's a man who's idea of high style is a brand-spanking new pair of dark (DARK) blue jeans and a plaid shirt. He only wears ties for two occasions - weddings and funerals. He won't care if a pair of socks has some funky stitch pattern - he wants comfortable and wearable.

These are nice and mindless and the colourway is doing just find by itself - fancy stitchwork need not apply.

*The title is a quote from one of my favourite movies - "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day". If you haven't seen it - I highly recommend it. Great Music. Fabulous Fashions. And Nifty British Accents. What's not to love?*

Monday, April 12, 2010

A case of the "itis-es"

First, thanks for all your well wishes on my horrible state of health. I'm a little better today - the Nyquil really seemed to help. I think next time though, I'll take Zoom's advice and mix in a little gin - if I add my pain killers it will really be a party. Of course, my liver might decide to divorce me, but oh well - your liver isn't really one of the "pretty organs" is it?

Of course, this cold couldn't have hit at a worse time - not only has the weather warmed up, but my editor is also off on holidays, so I have twice the work to do and taking a day off is not an option.

I did manage to slide home early today, but that's only because I'll be pulling a 10 to 11 hour shift tomorrow. It's an early bed for me tonight. And, as long as I am better by the 26th, it's all good - because I start a new job on the 26th! (More on that later)

Now back to the subject the title was referring to. Apparently the cold has also lead to a leave of my senses and a serious case of startitis.

Yesterday, while laying on the couch and whining to Dave about how sick I was, I finally finished the first of his pair of socks:
(Why did I fall in love with a boy with such big feet?.... Oh yeah... now I remember...)

As I was finishing, I realized how quickly Father's Day was sneaking up on us. Considering how long Dave's first sock took, I figured I better set them aside and get working on Dad's F-day gift.

So I cast on for my Sagittarius pattern in Top Cat:The colour is "Snails". It's hard to see in the picture but it also has a touch of olivey green!

After completing two pattern repeats on the sock, I got itchy to work on something else. So I cast on for another shawl - and discovered apparently I have Zetoritis!Yup - another Zetor. I love the one I just cast off, but I'd like it all little bigger. This is the Starry that I decided wasn't working for socks, and it works much better for a shawl though it's still not that soft.

The skein has a little more yardage than our Top Cat, and I'm doing it on 5mm needles (instead of 4mm like the last one) so hopefully that will give me a slightly larger shawl.

And as if those itis-es weren't enough - I also have a case of pain-in-the-butt-itis:
I think it's his idea of a mouse hunt!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's not fair!

Yesterday, Dave decided that we'd take a little road trip to his cottage to help his uncle build a new shed.

The weather was beautiful, so despite the fact that I really wanted to stay home, I tagged along. I took Zetor with me because I knew I was only a few repeats away from finishing it.

Despite Dave's protestations (he doesn't like fibre "fluffies" in his pristine car) I knit all the way there. Then I camped out on the back porch of the cottage and while the boys were building, I was knitting.

And lo and behold Zetor is done!
I apologize for the EXTREMELY crappy picture - but I wanted to prove that I did indeed cast off. As you can see, the yellow is almost the same colour of my pine floors, but I have no energy to go upstairs and get a sheet for better contrast.

Why do I have no energy? Well all that fresh cottage air did something to my cold. It's like all those cold germie got a breath of that fine Lake Erie wind, and decided to have an orgy and multiply! Oh, and on top of it - I'm sunburned!

By the time Dave and I got home, I was ready to find a hole to curl up and die in. I haven't had a cold this bad in a very, very, very long time. It's so bad, I actually slept on the couch last night so I wouldn't keep Dave awake with my coughing. Normally I'd make HIM sleep on the couch - because I LOVE my bed - but I knew I wasn't going to be sleeping anyway.

I did manage to sneak in an hour or two between the coughing, hacking, and spilling out a lung on the living room floor.

We took a quick walk to the drug store this morning and stocked up on NyQuil and Neo Citron, so I have a feeling I'll be catching up on my sleep very soon. And besides, there is a very handsome boy waiting in the bed for me:... and you thought it was Dave!

***Proper pictures of Zetor will come once my cold abates, and Zetor gets re-dyed (too much pine yellow for my taste) and blocked. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sockin' it

It's a good thing I only have so many pairs of 2.5 mm needles, because if I had more, I'd have a lot more socks on the go. They are just so easy to cast on and set aside for other projects.

Currently I have three pairs on the go (as many as I have needles for). I've been working on them intermittently and I'd probably have more accomplished if Dave didn't make me drive every time we go out - I still haven't mastered that "driving with your knees" thing yet.

First up is a sockette of my own design in Top Cat.
The colour is Misty Highland (look for it, or something close, in the shop soon). It may take me a little while to get to the second sock on this one, as you will notice, it has a picot hem, and well, I've had enough picot for the time being. But, when it is finished I will be offering it as a free pattern, so keep your eyes peeled.

Next is the Traffic Island Socks:
These are Alley Cat, colour is Wood Nymph - Light. There is Wood Nymph (regular) (in Slinky Cat) up in the shop and it's even prettier than this. Nice little pattern that is similar to the Jay Walker, but with out all the fit issues.

And, as you may have noticed, I make a lot of short socks. There are several reasons for this:

1) I like short socks.

2) I'm a pretty lazy knitter and some days I'm all about the instant gratification - being able to knit a cuff and a heel in just a few hours eases that need.

3) When we get our yarn, it comes on cones and we wind it into several 400 yard skeins. After doing that there is usually only about 300 yards left on the skein. It's not enough to put in the shop, so I usually dye it up and keep it for myself. In some cases, we use them as test skeins to try out new colours. That was the case of Misty Highland. We were using it to test out a bunch of different dyes, and when it was done, it was pretty darn gross - what Mom would dub a "pooz yarn". I had some leftover dye from another colourway, so I dunked the whole thing in to see if I could even out the colour a bit. Both Mom and I were quite surprised and pleased with the result. I'm going to attempt to recreate it - or something close to it.

But, that's not to say I never knit full length socks. I've also got these on the go for Dave:
Of course, I cast on for these just after finishing up my Christmas socks, and I'm still not done the first one - I'd much rather work on socks for myself. Maybe I'll get them done in time for Dave's birthday in July - but they are just so long..... sigh...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Well that will brighten the day!

It's grey and dreary, with only semi-impressive thunder-boomers rolling across the landscape.

But that's okay, because I got presents in the mail to brighten up my day. (Okay, they probably don't count as presents if you bought them for yourself, but hey - I don't get a lot of the other kind of presents so I'll take what I can get.)

First up:Fifteen bright and cheery balls of Louisa Harding's Kashmir Aran (55% merino, 35% microfibre, and 10% cashmere). In real life they aren't quite so lemony looking as they are in the picture. It's more a a nice warm, sunny yellow.

You may wonder why I bought yellow yarn when I was just recently grumbling about too much yellow in the yarn I'm using for Zetor. Well, grumblings aside, (which has more to do with the yellow, pink, beige combo in above mentioned yarn than with yellow itself) I actually love the colour yellow - in the right shades of course.

I love a nice soft baby yellow, a warm, rich happy yellow, a comforting honey yellow and of course a deep, brooding mustard yellow.

In fact, as a child my favourite colours were pink and yellow and I really wanted a yellow bedroom. Of course, that would have meant removing in about 50 years and 15 layers of wallpaper (and that's not hyperbole) from the walls, so mom compromised by making me a nice yellow quilt and matching pillow which I loved to death.

That said, as an adult, when I moved with Mom and Dad from the city, I immediately painted over the yellow walls in my new bedroom. And my bedroom here is yellow and I'm just itching to paint over it (a nice soothing green in fact) - what I really want now is a nice yellow kitchen (which ironically is currently green).

So back to the yarn - I think this is going to be used for some sort of yoked cardigan - something that will add a bit of cheer to dreary winter days.

The other present is just as good if not as colourful:Three new books! I haven't had new books in months. Okay - two of them are graphic novels (okay, comic books) that won't take me more than an hour to read - but when you're reading you favourite books for the 35th time in six months, it might just be time for something new.

They are from my two favourite authors; Patricia Briggs - Home Coming which is a graphic novel of her character, Mercy Thompson's beginnings, and Silver Borne, which is the latest Mercy Thompson novel; and George R.R. Martin - The Hedge Knight Sword Sworn, which is a graphic novel set in his magical world of Westeros and his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Mr. Martin is in the process of writing the much anticipated next installment of this series, and he's been working on it for about six years or so, so it will be nice to dive back into the world while I'm waiting.

So, if you don't see any knitting content for a day or so, know that it's because I'm battling vampires and evil faeries, or jousting with hedge knights and tournament groupies.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Button, button - I've got the buttons

I ducked out of work a little early today to enjoy the lingering sunny weather (that thunder-boomer I was hoping for is suppose to come tomorrow) and headed down to Ottawa Street (local textile district) to do a little button shopping.

I found some great buttons for Helena

It wasn't exactly what I had in mind - I was thinking delicate pink crystal flowers, but I couldn't find anything like that.

It think the butterflies work nicely, and though you can't see it in the picture, they do have a slightly pink tint.

I am so pleased with how this one turned out. Normally I make baby clothes and go "oh that's cute." and move on - but I can't stop staring at this one.

I don't really want to give it up and even looked at Dave this weekend and said, "Hey, wanna make a baby?" (His reply was - "You don't like babies." - which shows you just how much I like this sweater.) Of course then I spent a few hours with my brother's endearing children (both girls - one six one almost two) and that drove any desire for baby making right out the window. (Beautiful girls, but man do they have lungs!)

My love for this project is partly the pattern - Helena is a gorgeous little pattern and I've loved it since it first went up on Knitty. I am definitely going to be up-sizing it for myself.

But I think what really does it for me is mostly the yarn - I love, love, love this colourway, which I named Kaia in honour of the much anticipated recipient.(You'll see this colour in the shop soon.) This pictures do not do it justice. The green is a soft, dusky shade that has a lovely antiqued feel and the subtle pink and blue highlights give it such depth, making each stitch pop.

That's also due in part to the yarn itself. I don't like to boast, but our Fat Cat is some of the nicest DK I've ever knit with. It's soft (and not itchy), it's squooshy and gives wonderful stitch definition. It makes my mediocre knitting look so much nicer than it is. It's also perfect for children's garments because it's superwash! I don't think I'll be making any baby gifts out of acrylic ever again.This is also a fantastic, easy pattern. But, never one to colour inside the lines, I had to make a few modifications. The most obvious is that I replaced the ties with buttons, but I also opted for a picot collar and button band to match the hems. The garter stitch just looked odd to me - I'm really the kind of girl who wants collar and cuffs to match.

And, once I decided to do the picot bands, I thought the garter ridge above the lace would look odd too. So, I did a cute little picot band there too. It's hard to see in the picture, but it adds a really nice touch, and takes the femininity and delicacy of the pattern up just a notch.

The final mod was to make the sleeves longer. The pattern calls for 3/4 sleeves but I went for full length.

And, as promised, I made a pair of my Baby Janes to match.

Even on my own patterns I can't resist a mod or two.

Just to make it all co-coordinating, I changed the strap so it was picot too! (I think I'm a little picot-ed out now, thank you!)

And of course, they have matching butterfly buttons!

While I was out, I also picked up some more buttons for the stash. (Hey, there was a 50 per cent off clearance!)

The ones on top are like a mother-of-pearl and have a pink and green irridescnces. I actually got them just incase the butterflies were too small, but pink and green are my colours so I'm sure I'll have no problem finding another use for them.

The leafy ones I bought just because they were so pretty and if they weren't 50 per cent off, I never would have indulged.

Though Mom has hinted about how lovely they would look on her yet-to-be knit Tea Leaves cardigan. She bought some lovely Madeline Tosh Vintage in Rosewood (a gorgeous brown with pink highlights) and I have to admit, they would be a pretty good match.

And, with all the yarn I snag from her stash, I really can't say no can I? (but of course, she has to actually get off the Ravelry swap groups and knit something... hint... hint...)

In addition to buttons I got a great deal on blanket binding, so look for a Kaia's baby quilt soon - hopefully next weekend!


Almost forgot - Mom got into the dye without me (can't leave her alone for a minute!) and created some beautiful new colourways which are up in the shop now. Feel free to browse and buy whatever you want... except Green Eyed Lady - that one is MINE!