Monday, June 28, 2010

Third Time's The Charm

First it was Hey Teach, then one of my own creations, but neither time was I totally satisfied with the look of the lovely Eco Cotton as it was knit up.

This spring, the 'Summer Vest' from the May issue of Creative Knitting caught my eye. Immediately I purchased some great Noro for a winter 'Summer Vest'. But my Eco Cotton summer sweater lay unworn. Why not rip it and make a summer 'Summer Vest'? After all, third time's the charm!! Mind you, I did say, if I don't' like the finished product this time, the yarn was headed for the garbage.

But like it I do.
It was a quick knit at 19 sts/4in. Modifications were few. I lengthened the vest so that it falls at the top of the hip. Then I started with enough stitches for the finished measurement. The pattern calls for the vest to start with fewer stitches then increase to bust size. Since I was lengthening the vest, it seemed it might hang better if it was full width from the get-go. At the shoulders, I did short-row shaping. Always a better-fitting shoulder, IMHO, especially when using a 3 needle bind off.

The result? - I like it!! Unfortunately at bust/eye level there is one row where the seed stitch is off. Just ignore it. That's what I'm doing.
Summer vests have a certain charm. Just a little something extra over a tee shirt not only wards off any chill, but gives a more finished look to an outfit. Not that I would normally recommend knitting the same yarn 3 times to get a satisfying finished product, but this time it worked.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Late, But Still Great

This week, I discovered that Briggs & Little have published a pattern - a free pattern - that, if not identical, is darn close to the wonderful Olympic sweater seen at the 2010 Vancouver games. The sweater with the reindeer and maple leaves. Find it here.

B&L have knit it up in their roving which knits to 10 stitches over 4 inches. That is similar to what would be used to knit a Cowichan sweater. My preference would be a finer - perhaps worsted weight or even chunky weight yarn. Easily done by using the B&L charts and EZ methods.

It is too bad this wasn't available for the Olympics but I imagine there was copyright to be considered. Good to have it now, though.

Discovering something like this pattern just before a weekend means a knitter can spend a couple of days dreaming. Those pre-knitting dreaming days are one of the wonderful thing about being a knitter. Have a super weekend everyone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

I was glad to get to knit group today. Last week, I was day tripping, next week is Canada Day, the week after that I'm off to Hearst for the summer. It was good to see what the knitters had on their needles on my last knit-group day until September.

Doreen is finishing her leggings assignment. 4 pairs, I think.
These are so delightfully colourful. Doreen knits often for charitable, community causes but will most likely be glad to be back to her own knitting after several weeks of scarecrow leggings.

Pat showed me her latest baby outfit and posed it nicely for the photo shoot.
I grabbed the latest stuffed toy and placed it in her hands to be included in the picture. Normally verbose, Pat seemed quiet - confused. Once the shutter clicked, she said " I didn't knit this toy." Apparently, quiet, unassuming Gloria - the lady in pink behind Pat - knit this one. Sorry Gloria. My mistake. I've grown so accustomed to Pat arriving with a new toy each week, I forgot we have a second, toy knitter.

Sandy B recently made her fist trip to Koigu. She bought yarn and pattern to knit a mitred- square vest and arrived at knit group today seeking help with those mitres. Who better to help than our resident Koigu queen, Ingrid?

When Survivor ends for the season, life seems much more boring. But when knit group and Survivor are both done for the season - well, only a Survivor-loving knitter would understand.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Up Next

Following the Baby Trilogy and Woodsman's Thick Socks, all small and quickly done, I think I am ready to tackle the 50th Anniversary Cardigan. (picture on left)

This cardigan design of Elizabeth's, found a few years ago, was written on a scrap of paper, never previously published and released on the 50th anniversary of Schoolhouse Press. Not normally a big, yoke-cardigan fan, this one, nonetheless appealed. Most likely it was a 'stars alligning' thing. An EZ pattern, a special anniversary, an intriguing story behind the design, and the great colour combo.

That year, 2008, at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitters Fair, I purchased the yarn for the sweater. My cardigan will be done in this monochromatic, caramel and vanilla colour scheme. In Alpaca.
The ball band on this yarn gives no gauge - Don't ya' love that? But given the stated needle size of 2 1/2 - 3 1/2, I can see it is a fine knit. Not only will I be using EZ's design, but her method of gauge swatch first, then knit-to-my-gauge methodology. Again.

And should I be able to finish it before Saturday - HA! stop right now. That will never happen. But Saturday, I put away the needles for awhile. Saturday is the day the Grand Kids arrive.
They will 'vacation' with us until early July when we all head back north for the remainder of the summer. Once they arrive, there isn't much knitting time energy. Elizabeth might find herself on vacation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Last week, Laurie of The Art Of Tying Holes Together surprised me with a Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks, Laurie, you are most generous.

Part of the deal here is to tell readers ten things about myself that you don't already know. Who the heck would ever be interested in this, I don't know. It might take me hours to think of things I haven't already told you, because one of the things readers DO know about me, is that I don't hold much back, but here goes.

1. I was raised on a tobacco farm in the deep south. Southern Ontario that is. In the southern USA it would have been called a plantation. In southern Ontario, we called them farms. We're Canadian don't you know.

2. Being a farm kid meant hard hard work. It has shaped my life.

3. I have 2 sisters. One 2 years younger than me. The other one - 17 years younger than me. One spring, Mom was driving my sister and I to the city to buy our prom dresses and said " I have something to tell you girls". Indeed she did.

4. My family is long-lived. When a relative passes on at 98 or so, we wail and wail about them dying so young.

5. I married a city boy. Called a mixed marriage in my farm family.

6. My parents were married 10 days before my Dad went overseas in WW2 for 4 years.

7. Stories of WW2 and my Dad's 4 years absence have shaped my life.

8. I have upper arm muscles to scare Michelle Obama back to the gym. I got them from carrying irrigation pipes, still full of water, over my head through tobacco plants, while the face- high wet leaves slapped my cheeks, to the next field. I don't think they do that anymore.

9. I appreciate efficiency.

10. If I sneeze once, I sneeze a bunch. My boys call me a 'serial sneezer'.

If you're still awake, thanks for reading.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Square vs Round

Some time back, I cast on and knit the first sock of a pair. Elizabeth Zimmermann's Woodsman's Thick Socks to be exact. I've made this type of sock before, don't wear them often, but love the down home, rustic cabin, sitting in front of a log-burning fire, cozy feeling they exude.

For me, the trouble with knitting one sock long before the second is not remembering what I did to sock #1.
So, if you look closely, you will see - but probably not, as my great photography skills have positioned the socks to hide this special feature - that one sock has a square heel, one a round heel.

The round heel is my favourite and the one I most often use. To do it, I knit to 2 stitches past centre heel before starting the shaping. The square heel, I knit to 4 stitches past centre. For some reason, I decided way back in winter time to do this pair with a square heel, finished sock #1, then promptly forgot what I had done. Of course, I could have taken a close look at the finished sock when ready to do heel #2. But why would I? I always do a round heel.

And so, I have what Ms McPhee calls 'fraternal, not identical, twin' socks. Loving them, like a good Mom, all the more for their individuality.

Woodsman's Thick Socks - Details.
Pattern: Woodman's Thick Socks, by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Found in 'Knitting Around' by EZ.

Yarn - Briggs & Little Tuffy. The B&L line of sock yarn that has a bit of nylon in it. In this case the yarn was rescued from the 'Moccathin Thockies' I knit earlier in the year. Moccasin Socks, 'unvented' by Elizabeth are a sock where the sole is added last. The point being that if the bottom wore out, it could be unraveled and re-soled. I didn't like the finished product. It was difficult to get the sock to fit snugly and the spiralling decreases under the heel and toe seemed uncomfortable. In the end, I decided that resoling was something that even Elizabeth would agree was -"much more often spoke about than done." I ripped and made the Woodsman Socks instead.

Needles: 3.25 mm

Stitches Cast On - 44

Pattern: 2x2 ribbing down entire leg and also on the instep.

Foot Length - 6 inches measured from gusset pick up to beginning of toe decreases.

Toe - round toe fashioned by decreasing every other round until half the total stitches remain, then decreasing every round until 8 stitches remain and are grafted together.

Size - They fit me nicely and I wear a 7 1/2 - 8 shoe.

Nice socks indeed. And on the foot, there feels no difference between the square vs the round heel. Good to know. Not the socks for today though - a 30' day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Baby Trilogy

While entertaining out-of-province guests, co-hosting a 90th birthday party, jaunting off to yarn luncheons, knitting time was severely reduced here at the Harris house these past couple of weeks. What I learned from all that is when time is short, knit short items.

My Elizabeth Zimmermann 'baby trilogy' is finished. The hat pattern is from The Opinionated Knitter, slippers from Knitting Without Tears and the sweater - the of-late, loudly- bally-hooed, February Sweater - from The Knitters Almanac.

Everything is so darling that I find myself transformed. Me - a largely 'knit-only-for-me' knitter, now in love with these tiny, precious garments and in search of little people to dress.

The February Baby Sweater pattern was everything knitters have said it was. An easily memorized, easy to do lace pattern. Lace is not my forte, but this is a 4 row repeat, with 2 of the 4 being simply purl rows. "Lace For Dummies" this might be called.
You will note that there are no button holes in the upper portion. Elizabeth doesn't mention button holes until the lace pattern begins. Being a 'jump-in-and-start' knitter, I failed to notice that. Now I need to figure out a way to create fake button holes in the upper portion. My rambunctious nature means my creative side is well developed. :)

Sleeves too are missing, but that is a case of running out of yarn. I had 2 balls of Patons Astra in my stash and knit these 3 pieces with a few yards to spare. I like the 'vest' look - yet another new take on the February Sweater - and think Elizabeth would be proud of my ingenuity. (If one can call running out of yarn ingenious)

Over the years, I have commonly used hats as my small, resting-between-big-projects, knitting. But I might travel down a different street now that I've been introduced to these baby things.

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hate Me Now

When I tell about my day, I imagine many will hate me in that non-serious way we say we hate uber thin, or rich or talented people we meet.

There is no knit group news today because I was on a road trip. One of the yarn suppliers for the store hosted a lovely Open House, lunch and warehouse tour shopping trip. Hate me now.

Store owners browsed the displays over coffee.

There were many scarves
- or black-coat art as they were called today -
knit with what I term 'second generation' novelty yarn. As funky as the first time around, but now made with good quality fibres.

One entire table was devoted to baby things. So Cute.

Lunch was served in a beautifully-restored, historic, stone house, now chic restaurant. My quiche was great, but the lemon tart was to die for. Hate me now.

While we ate we listened to the General Manager of Naturally Yarns from New Zealand.
Easy to look at, fun to listen to - hate me now - and when did they start letting 12 year olds become GMs?

There were door prizes - guess which name was the first drawn?
Hate me now.

And lastly, as we headed out the door for home, goody bags.
I repeat - hate me now.

It was just like the G8 or G20 - without the lake or all the security. We put lots of faces to names, learned lots about our host country distributor, ate lots of good food and smooshed lots of yarn. Hate me now.

A wonderful, wonderful day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Round One Goes To Me

My email is fixed. It involved a few hours of trial and error followed by reading unhelpful postings on the 'help' forum. At that point, I gave up and called son #2. He suggested a little housecleaning and told me where to find the computer dust mop and YIPPEE!! My email is back.

Mind you, I seem to have lost all my blog feeds so I guess it's a good news/bad news kind of fix. But I am now encouraged - even feeling empowered, boss of my computer - and I bet I can figure out the blog feed problem too. That's today's euphoria speaking, - it might not last.

Despite the exhaustion and frustration, there was knitting. Sock #1 is done.
DK weight yarn, 2.5 mm needles, 48 stitches. Such a cute kid's sock. Once I whip off sock #2, then I can get back to the February Baby Sweater. Elizabeth misses me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Been A Whirlwind

It has been a whirlwind of a week, which ended with - well more on that later.

Our B.C. buddies were here - and they turned out to be my hiking buddies.
We had a great visit with them and were sorry to see them go. When friends live so far away it is always sad to see them leave, not knowing when we might see each other again.

But Fred and I were on a tight schedule,practically pushing them out the door as we had to set off for a family get-together to celebrate my Dad's 90th birthday.

It was - at Dad's request - a family-only affair. Not many people, but lots of fun, laughs and good food. Dad is holding the cake, baked and decorated for him by Christie. You might remember that Marlene from knit group gave Christie and I a cake decorating lesson last year. Christie has done wonders with her new-found skills and is now the family cake baker/decorator.

Getting to Dad's requires a 3 hour drive each way, which, for me,the passenger, meant some knitting. A new pair of socks - a sample for the upcoming book.
Ribbed, striped, coloured heel and - soon - coloured toe.

As mentioned above, there was a frustrating end to the week. My computer is on the fritz. I can see my emails, but I cannot open them, read them, send them, get to my contacts list or do anything at all with email. All other internet applications are working and I hope stay that way. If you send me an email and I don't get back to you right away, it's because I am buried under the gobbeldy-gook that is computer speak, trying to fix gmail.

I would say 'back to routine' this week, but fixing my computer will be anything but what 'routine' might normally suggest. If anyone knows how to fix gmail, I'll put on the coffee, and offer encouraging words. All welcome.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is It Thursday?

Time flies when you play tourist in your own backyard. Our B.C. buddies were a good excuse to take a fresh look at the attractions in our area.

One of which, of course, is knit group. As we drove to knit group, Shirl, unsure, I think, of being in a group of women she didn't know, commented that she would come, say 'Hi', then head over to the yarn store to shop. No worries about shy awkward moments with Meaford knitters, though. Once there, Shirl couldn't get away.

Nicki, who hails from B.C., found she and Shirl had some favourite yarn stores in common.

Wilma, just back from her B.C. vacation, shared lots of B.C. stories while showing Shirl the results of her travel knitting.
A cardigan from Button Up Your Top Down, knit in 'Buttons'. Shirl was so inspired by it that when we finally got to the yarn store, she paid Wilma the ultimate compliment. She bought the book and the exact same yarn for her homeward bound, travel knitting.

It was fun for Bonnie to show off her finally-finished, shrug. This was not an easy piece and required much 'stick-to-it-iveness'. Well done, Bonnie.
Doreen displayed one pair of 'scarecrow stockings'. Done.
and Marlene is half way through her second pair.
These stockings will be worn by Junior High students dressed as scarecrows, as they march in the parade.

When we arrived, Pat showed Shirl her latest 'toy' - a one-armed Penguin.

Two-armed, by the time we left.

The rest of the ladies were busy knitting yarn from 'Bag Lady Sue's stash donation. Sharon has 3 felted purses, just waiting for their button closures.

Sandy's started a scarf,

and sister Sandy B, in her best 'neighbour Wilson' pose, showed Shirl her shawl.

Heading for the car at the end of the afternoon, Shirl summed up her Meaford Knit Group experience perfectly. "That was fun". Indeed it was, Shirl.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today we are happily awaiting the arrival of friends from BC. They are touring Ontario - their pre-retirement stompin' grounds - and lucky for us, have time to spend a few days with Fred and me.

Although Shirl
is a knitter and I do hope to show her off at knit group on Thursday, I have laid aside February Baby,
my summer vest, cast on last night
and the socks.
I imagine we will be too busy yarn-store hopping to allow for much knitting.

You might remember the Vancouver Island yarn-store hopping I did when visiting Jim and Shirl in 2008. This is hubby Jim
He thought it such an endearing strange thing to spend vacation time yarn shopping that he had to take my picture with 'the haul'.

Much of which is still to be knit, I might add. Whether we knit or not, it is wonderful to spend time with friends and I can't wait till the door bell rings.

Monday, June 7, 2010

All Baby, All The Time

If I was 30 years younger, I might think my knitting was trying to tell me something. I am on a great baby kick.

First, I tried Elizabeth's 'Good 2-Needle Garter Stitch Slipper With Cuff' from both Knitting Without Tears and The Opinionated Knitter.

They were s-o-o-o cute, I went on to the Baby Bonnet, also found in The Opinionated Knitter and shown here on the only baby-sized head in our house.

The bonnet, like most of EZ's designs, is one-piece construction. This one, shaped with decreases. Starting at the front - that is the forehead portion of the bonnet - a shaped headband is knit. Then stitches are picked up along the back edge of the band and decreased away to cover the back of the head.
It reminds me of the bonnets worn by Laura Inglis Wilder from Little House On The Prairie. I felt a definite connection with Grandma's of yore as I knit it. That, my knitting friends, pleased me beyond any 21st century reasonableness. What can I say?

Now I have started this.
Recognize that pattern?
It's adult version has seen much hype on blogs and ravelry this past couple of years. It is The February Baby Sweater from the Knitters Almanac. Knitting it in a size to fit me has been tempting, but I can't get past the chain mail armour look of the garter stitch yoke. A baby, though, knows nothing of fashion for the medieval 'knight in shining armour' so while I'm still on my baby kick - and still have some Patons Astra yarn left - I am completing my layette.

Who's baby this knitting is destined for, I have no idea. But I will be ready when the baby announces it's arrival.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Once upon a time --- I arrived at knit group to have my camera batteries die. Since that time, I have carried a set of charged batteries in my purse.

That would be my brown purse. Not the green purse I took with me to knit group today. Today then, is a one shot day.

Here we have Gail's 2 little hats.
Knit with yarn she picked up from Sandy's sister, Sue's stash, last week. Gail, of course is our knitter trying to knit a ball a day from her own stash before the September Knitters Fair. Sue's big, stash give-away obviously has put her behind a couple of balls - or more. Notice that variegated Galway she's knitting with? That too is from Sue's stash.

Without batteries, that's it for today. Shots of Sharon's red,to-be-felted purse from One skein Wonders, Sandy's green scarf, Lois' bright blue sweater beginnings, Doreen and Marlene's giant stockings for Meaford's scarecrows - all those will have to wait for another Thursday.

Thomas Watson - founder of IBM once said "Nothing happens until a sale is made". I would add - not much can be seen to have happened without charged batteries.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ready To Wear

Remember this topper - the Easter 2010 Topper? Easter, again this year, has come and gone, but at last the topper is ready to wear.

I trotted my tootsies into blisters looking for capris or a skirt to match this top. Seems orange isn't a popular colour for clothing manufacturers. Desperation forced the decision and I decide to sew a skirt. Voila! The perfect summer outfit.
As a 'tween' and teen, I sewed all my clothes. Then, as life got busier, off-shore imports got cheaper and knitting more important to me, I let the sewing slide. To occasionally take it up now, is difficult.

My sewing mind still perceives my body as that of a young person. Double checking my measurements before pattern shopping causes me to gasp. Sewing patterns are often sized 'larger' than ready-made clothing and to purchase a size 14 pattern almost gives me chest pains. (No disrespect to full bodied women, but I'm a petite little thing. Or maybe not. That could be my 18 year old brain still living in this 60 something body.)

Then of course there are all the little 'tips' that daily sewing teaches one. Those are long forgotten and the cause of much 'ripping' in this skirt. Thank goodness I still own a seam ripper.

Will viewers be so impressed with colour match that they don't notice my less-than-stellar sewing skills?
First wearing will tell. When I get the nerve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Elizabeth and I have been reunited. As usual, she is leading me where I've never gone before.
Of course,this time that's not saying much as I am probably the only knitter in the universe that has never knit baby booties. Not that there are any babies on my horizon, but these booties caught my attention in Knitting Without Tears.

You see, I have a thing for slipper patterns. Not that I knit many slippers, but for some reason I collect slipper patterns. In Knitting Without Tears, Elizabeth calls these booties 'A Good 2-Needle Garter Stitch Slipper With Cuff ' and knits them with thick - 8 sts/4 " - wool. My original plan was to knit them just like that until the same pattern caught my eye in The Opinionated Knitter.

In that book, Elizabeth knit them with fine yarn and they are part of a baby outfit. As with the Tomten Jacket, Elizabeth used the thickness of yarn to change the size. I love that concept. No change to number of stitches or rows, just change the yarn. Of course, designers would starve if we all knit that way.

These 'slooties' or blippers' are typical Elizabeth.
All one piece, all garter stitch. Shaped with increases and decreases. Open to striping, fair isle or colour work of your choice. Bless your heart Elizabeth for being so creative.

In Knitting Without Tears, Elizabeth comments "These boots come to an endearing point at the toe, so that you look like a Lapp, Eskimo or Kurd." Who can resist Elizabeth?