Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Surmount the Stash - October roundup (Scary picture edition)

(Scary how crappy the pictures are.... I love fall but the shorter days do not lend themselves to quality photography)

This month was not great in number of projects (surprising because I did have a whole week off) but the yardage count is decent.

Lets start with smallest to largest.

First up Noah's Nessie.

Canada Post tracking says my cousin received it today, so I'm hoping to gets some pics soon. Nessie used about 80 yards of random leftovers. Not a huge stash bust, but a cute one!

Next was the "heart shawlette"

I meant to get decent pictures of this on the weekend. But I was so scattered before I went up to Mom's  I completely forgot to bring it, so you're still stuck with the crappy blocking picture. This shawlette used 400 yards of Barn Cat transitions. I was going to design a few other pattern and put it up as an ebook - but I'm thinking I might just throw it out there as a free pattern. 

And last but not least  - Eileen

True she doesn't have her zipper yet, but I'm still counting her as done - because she adds another 1450 yards to my tally.  She also completes another goal this year - to knit four sweaters! True - two of them didn't have sleeves - but they are sweater-like so they count!

All tolled October used up about 1,930 yards of yarn - can complain about that!

Total for the year so far - 12,904 yards!

And Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's all over, but the zipper

Yes - Eileen is finished.
...but as the title suggests and the picture shows - she still needs her zipper. I have it, I'm just waiting for the weekend when I have a little more time and patience to put it in properly.

Better pictures will follow, but it's nice to have this one off the needles. It was a good knit, and I never got bored with it - I just have so many other projects I need to do - Christmas is creeping up!

Eileen used just six skeins of Madeline Tosh Heritage Wool in Antique Lace (the yarn is now discontinued according to Ravelry - though it just came out last year).  I was pretty lucky and got a decent set of mostly matching skeins. I still alternated skeins on the fronts and back, and the overall affect is pretty even for a hand dye.

It's not the softest yarn I've ever knit with, but the pieces did soften a bit with the soaking and blocking. The really nice part about the yarn, while it has a bit of a rustic feel (it doesn't have the smoothness of a superwash) it's not itchy at all. I was quite surprised and it was one of the reasons I made a cardigan - that way I could layer it if it was itchy.

The cats absolutely adore this one. Sewing it up was a challenge because at any given moment I had Rocky or Peno trying to snuggle in it in my lap.

So... now it's onto some Christmas socks methinks!

Working on Eileen in the midst of Sandy

I hope all my friends in the path of the storm are safe and warm.

The weather was getting pretty wild, so my boss sent me home early. Dave wasn't rolling in until 10ish, so I made good use of the time and got to work finishing Eileen

The majority of the evening was spent in knitting on the collar. The last hour I've been working on fitting in the sleeve and sewing the seam. I hate sewing in sleeves, I usually have a heck of a time, and always end up making them look all puffy and weird. But this one turned out pretty good. I took some of my own advice (which was given to Samantha during her sewing lesson) "Pins are you friend - you can never use too many!"

The other sleeve is still on the blocking board. It's still damp but should be dry by tomorrow. There's conflicting reports on how bad the storm will be tomorrow. I brought my computer home, so I can do some work from here if necessary... and maybe sneak in a little knitting time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hunkering down

It's cold and windy and rainy - and I hope all of my friends on the east coast are safe and warm and snug.

The worst is suppose to hit Ontario tomorrow, but it was still miserable enough today to keep me from doing what I was supposed to - repairing a scuff and ding I put on my fender last week.

Instead, I headed into the studio to dye of some heavier yarn. It's almost hat and mitten season, so it's time to stock the shop.

I also cracked into some new stock....

Top Cat Aran.....yep - our fantastic Top Cat content in Aran weight - this stuff is going to be heaven to knit - you should feel it!

Oh... and I finished the sleeve on Eileen!!!! Hopefully I can get it sewn up before Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Slowly, so slowly

I'm starting to think those people who knit their sleeves first might be onto something...

After three evenings of knitting....

I only have five repeats done. It just seems to be taking forever. I really would like to have this off the needles by the end of the week... I don't have a whole lot for my stash down report this month...

Dear knitting Gods... please make this sleeve go faster. I'll totally give you a cat in return....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A ghostly collection

Just in time for the season, indie designer Teresa Gregorio - aka Canary Knits - has release and e-book full of spook-tastic knits, as well as essays on the ghosts that haunt them, called Ghosts: historiographies, cultural manifestations, and the knits they've inspired.  As part of the blog tour, I interviewed Teresa about the e-book, her design process, and some general thoughts as a knitter. Please enjoy.

You say these knits were inspired by your research - what inspired you to research this topic in the first place?
I was on holiday in Munich. My mom and I decided "what better way to spend a Saturday night in this city than to go on a guided ghost walk?" It ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. It was a tiny group (consisting of just us and the tour guide!) but with that it was very personalized and interesting. The guide was fantastic: it was a when he shared that ghosts weren't always written about as transparent, light-coloured, floating figures that I began to wonder just how differently ghosts were described throughout history.
With the exception of a couple of designs, you've used a very ghostly palette (whites, greys, and blacks) - was that intentional, or something that seeped into the designs from the subject matter?
It was absolutely intentional. The red of the Calavera Catrina bonnet inspired that pattern specifically (being one of the two colourful exceptions). I was hoping the restricted colour palette would help to create a unified look to the entire collection.
How long did it take you to design these garments and put the book together?
All told, it was about six months. I spent about three months researching, with most of the design time overlapping that. You'll see most of the patterns are accessories, things that are only one size, and fairly small knits. That's one of the reasons it didn't take me longer than six months to put together. There was also plenty of overlap time in those months with testing and tech editing, photographing and layout.

Do you have a favourite garment from this collection, and why?
I do! It's the Calavera Catrina bonnet. I think it's mostly the little shaping bits included in it that make it my favourite: I have a thing for turned hems (there's more than one provisionally-cast on design in the collection!) and the shaping for the hood, petals, and the little tabs on the ends of the ties.

Your book covers a wide range of garment types (pullovers, hats, scarves, shawls, skirts, socks, etc.) Do you have a favourite type of garment to design? If so, why?
I really like to design pullovers. There's so much room to play with different elements on a pullover! I would have included more than one in Ghosts had I not created such a tight design schedule for it. I'm planning on a number of new patterns/collection for 2013, which will give me the opportunity to design more sweaters.

As a designer, do you have a favourite yarn or fibre type, and why?
I love wool, a nice soft, sproingy wool. First it was all about Malabrigo. Then I had a yarn crush for quite a while on Dream in Color. It's still fab, but my newest loves are madtosh (surprise!) and Zen Yarn Gardens.

What is your process when you start a design? Do you sketch, swatch, calculate, etc? Or do you just dive in with yarn, needles and the bare minimum of calculations?        
It depends on the garment type: for fitted items like sweaters, cardigans, shrugs, I have numbers worked out. I like to have a range of about 6 or 7 sizes for those sorts of knits, so it's really best in the end to have those numbers worked out before I start testing and knitting up a sample.
Everything gets sketched first. (Mostly because I just love drawing!) I have this "collection" of notebooks, which I make great use of for my idea sketchbooks. When I started out designing I'd just have piles of random scraps of paper, with varying degrees of pattern ideas scribbled on them. That quickly became a messy headache, so now I force myself to keep it all in one current notebook.

How did you get in to knitting?           
I wish I could recall some magic moment, but I've always liked making things in general. I do remember the hideous thing I first made with the ugly ugly yarn I chose. From Walmart. Just some varigaetd red heart. I picked up just one hank and, in my ignorance thought: this is enough for a blanket! Lesson quickly learned that 1) 100% garter stitch blankets are just not my thing. 2) My powers of yarn estimation are very poor indeed. 3) I need to get me to an LYS!
To see more of Teresa's ethereal designs, check out the e-book - Ghosts: historiographies, cultural manifestations, and the knits they've inspired.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Can you say awwww?

My irresistible teddy-bear cat...
... using my yarn as a pillow. That is all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another finish

 Today was a nice lazy Sunday that went by way too fast.
Peno and I camped out on the couch and enjoyed the sunshine that was coming through the window. She rolled around and looked cute and I worked on my new shawlette design.

and by dinner time, it was blocking. This one used just under one skein of Barn Cat Transitions and will be part of an e-book I'm hoping to release in February.

Now.... let's get back to that cardigan.....

Saturday, October 20, 2012


It's a dreary, rainy Caturday here.

Rocky has spent most of it goofing around with a broken box.

I've been finishing things. First, I finished the Loch Ness Monster for little baby Noah. I love this pattern. This one was done in some leftover Cascade 220. I will be making another one of these for cousin Katie's baby.
 I also finished up the first sleeve of Eileen.
I should have had this done last week, but I got distracted by some Barn Cat  - the new shawl design is coming along swimmingly - I might even have pics to show you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


If you'd asked me three months ago if I thought I'd be writing this post... the answer would be "definitely not".

But we decided to stick it out, stick together and, well - here we are at our 10 year anniversary. Here's hoping for decades more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goodbye vacation...

After all the excitement of the last two days, today was a day to just chill at home. Normally, that means doing nothing but knitting - but I got a bit of a bug up my butt about my TV, and just had to do something about it.

You see - I've been very lucky, and gotten most of my furniture as hand-me-downs. My TV stand was a large TV/storage unit that began life at my parents old house when I was a teenager. It survived two household moves, as well as me shuffling it around the living room every six months or so, but it was starting to look a little beat up and well.. crooked and wobbly. I've been wanting to get something a little smaller and more streamlined for a while, and as fortune would have it - a coworker was getting rid of just the type of stand I wanted. I brought it home, and it's been sitting in my living room, waiting for Dave to have a spare moment to switch everything over.

He was going to do it tonight when he got home from work... but like I said, I got a bit of a bug up my butt... so I did it all myself. (And I didn't even have a Wonder Woman costume!)

However, I wasn't able to move the old unit to the basement, so I pushed it into the kitchen, out of the way until Dave could attend to it...
  .... much to the delight of the boys. They don't often get a chance to look out this window. And it was warm enough that it was open today.

I also had a craving for cream cheese frosting...
so I made some cupcakes to go along with it (carrot-apple cupcakes!).

Despite that, there has been a little bit of knitting....

A new shawl design in Barn Cat Transitions.... you can see I'm just starting to get to the middle shade of  pink. Mom put a few Transitions in the shop today if you want to knit something similar!

And so marks the end of my vacation... tomorrow is back to the grind. Sigh....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

To Woodstock and back

This morning I was up bright and early, and Mom and I set off to the Woodstock Fleece Festival. It was a nice little show, with all the usual suspects for vendors - much like the Frolic, just in another town, and with more fibres for spinners, and some weavers thrown in. There were also several rug hooking vendors, and I found them very, very, VERY tempting.. but I don't need another hobby.

I was a very good girl, and didn't buy anything. I still haven't used any of the yarn I bought at the Frolic last year. I almost got some buttons for the stash but the booth was pretty busy so I didn't bother. However, if I could have figured out a way to bring an angora bunny home, I would have!

I love the animals - and that little alpaca on the bottom left was the friendliest alpaca I've ever met! Not the least bit shy.

And, while I didn't buy anything, the festival did get my juices flowing. I came home and dyed 20 skeins of yarn (mostly Barn Cat and Slinky Cat)!
And now I'm pooped! So it's off to the couch to knit for the rest of the evening!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sew much fun

My vacation week is winding down, and no vacation is complete with out a little road trip to visit my best friend, Samantha.While she lives just under an hour away, our busy lives keep us from getting together more than just a few times each year.

Today, we had a plan. Samantha is a novice sewer, and really wanted to advance from basic bags and curtains, and tackle something from a pattern, but she wasn't quite comfortable doing it on her own. She mentioned that she'd love to make pajama pants for her kids and husband, and I agreed that they'd be the perfect pattern to learn on.

Our day began with lunch (in exchange for the Pumpkin tarts I baked her)
and a fabulous drive down to Lens Mills in Port Dover. I really should have taken some pictures - the fall foliage is amazing, but we were too busy chatting.

When we got back, it was time to get to work

And, in no time (even with the drama of three kids and their after-school mayhem), there was a finished pair of pajama pants.
And they fit perfect!

She's on her own for the next pair, but she'll do fine. She's a natural! Now I need to haul out my machine - I'm in need of some jammies too!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just a babe in sweaterland

 I've exchanged the firearms for knitting needles today, and turned my attention back to the Eileen cardigan.
I'm about half way done the first sleeve. When I was planning my vacation, I was really optimistic about finishing the cardigan by the end of it - but now I'm not so sure... I've got general errands to run tomorrow (and possibly some dyeing), Friday, I have a play date with my best friend. Saturday, Mom and I are off to Woodstock, and well - by Sunday, I'll need a nap. Anyway, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to finish this. I'm just going to enjoy the knitting.

I should've have had this sleeve a little further along, as I'd planned to start it on Monday, not Tuesday night. I packed up the yarn and pattern before heading out with Dave to his family's Thanksgiving gathering, but when I got there I realized I'd forgotten to pack the needle!

Fortunately I'd also packed some back-up knitting.
Readers might recognize this as the cardigan I cast on waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in March.  I put it down and just never picked it back up. Monday, I managed to add a few more inches to it, but cables and a patterned wrong side make for very slow growth. I'll give it some proper loving once Eileen is done.

Meanwhile, Tux has promised to keep it warm for me.
Such a helpful kitty.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I am officially ready for the zombie apocolypse...

... as long as the zombies are standing perfectly still, that is.

Today is the first official day of my vacation. Coincidentally, Mom and Dad are also on vacation, so Dad took me out to the gun range to let me have a little fun.
(This gives you an idea how far away the targets were - and yes - you need those head-phones - it's LOUD!!!!.)

I've grown up with hunters, so I'm not completely out in the woods when it comes to firearms, though it's been almost 20 years since I've had one in my hands (and it was just a BB gun).

I also got to try my hand at something a little smaller...
It's not as easy as they make it look on TV... but after a little while, I was able to at least keep the shots on the target.

Tomorrow's day two - but after all that excitement, I think I'll probably just stick to knitting.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Noah's Nessie

My cousin gave birth to a little boy yesterday evening.

They've name him Noah and as you can see, he's hale and healthy.

I haven't sent off his cardigan yet, so last night I decided to whip up a quick Nessie for him.

Nessie just needs flippers and horns - more pics coming soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

With a little bit of this, and a little bit of that and it goes like this...

Sorry for the lack of posting.... chaos rules again here at Chez WanderingCat....

But I do have a few little tid bits to keep you entertained until the next post.

1) As this weekend is Thanksgiving up here in good ol' Canada - we are having a sale in the shop. Use the code THANKS15 from tomorrow (Friday, October 5) to Monday (October 8) and save 15%!


2. I've been knitting - mostly on socks, and not on any that I should be. I've actually started a new design - a light, lacy sock in Crystal Palace Panda Silk (wool/bamboo/silk). The combo of the lace and yarn necessitated going down a couple of needles sizes (to 2 mm). That combined with a stitch pattern that wasn't cooperating has meant very slow progress... so no pics yet.

3. Rocky is going the right way for a smacked bottom!
Lately, I've been letting him go out to play with the neighbours cat (Oreo.. who suddenly thinks he's MY cat.. but that's another story). Frequently I let him go out when I get home work - I sit outside and keep an eye on them for ten minutes, then bring everyone (minus Oreo) in for dinner.

Well - the past few weeks, I've gotten home to late to do that. It's dark, and not to mention cold and sometimes rainy. Rocky doesn't think this is a valid excuse, and he's takn to expressing his displeasure in a very vocal manner. He's pretty much walking around yodelling non-stop for an hour or two after I get home.

Dave got home before me the other day and was treated to Rocky's new serenade for the first time - when I walked in the door I was greeted by the now-familiar caterwauling, and Dave's voice from the livingroom saying, "Cat... I don't like your new soundtrack... if you don't knock it off, you're gonna be eating my sock."

No surprise, the threat didn't work.

4. Be sure to check out my blog on October 23 - I'll have an interview with Canary Knits on her newest set of designs - Ghost Knits!

5. I'm supposed to be on vacation all next week - so I'll have lots to blog about soon... that's if it doesn't get cancelled. It's feast or famine in my department - and three new projects just dropped yesterday.. I'm hoping I can work through the majority of it tomorrow, so I don't have to postpone my week!