Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Whole Truth

When I said, yesterday, that I put Elizabeth Zimmermann's 50th anniversary cardi aside to knit Dorothy socks, it wasn't quite the whole truth. Then I blamed the heat wave - but that too wasn't the whole truth.

Truth is, I'm scared. You see, I am just a few rows shy of starting the yoke pattern.
The yoke that I want to be more necklace-like than deep chested. That means, math is required. As I mentioned last week, I can calculate the math knowing my row gauge. Indeed, Meg Swansen herself has done something similar with her 50th Anniversary sweater. She says "I wanted a shallower yoke pattern, so I eliminated 8 rounds of the chart ....but still fit the truncated chart into a 9 1/2 " yoke with the 16 plain rounds preceding it."

So I know it can be done. But with my row gauge and shallow yoke, I have 30 rows, not 16, preceding the pattern. Not that it matters to style, but will it matter to shaping?

The first decrease in the yoke chart appears at row 27. And - - row 27 of the yoke pattern occurs 37 rows from the body/sleeve join. Something Elizabeth had figured out, I'm sure, to make the body bulk disappear in a timely fashion to create a good-fitting yoke.

But with my additional 30 rows, will the fit still be good? It should - if we I depend only on math. But sometimes the knitting gods don't adhere to the same mathematical rules. That is why I'm scared.

I mean, I trust Elizabeth, it's me that I worry about.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dorothy's Socks

My 50th anniversary sweater is getting a bit of a break. Instead, I'm knitting socks. Dorothy's socks. Dorothy is a dear friend that Dad brought into our family circle. A knitter :):) who recently asked if I would teach her how to knit socks.

Since Dorothy is gracious, lively, a good sport and lots of fun, I chose bright, cheerful Regia Fusili sock yarn to match her personality. Over the Canada Day weekend, I got her started. She cast on with double pointed needles - "Oh these needles are so-o-o small" and explained to her about switching to stockinet stitch once the cuff was complete.

The goal was that she would finish the leg and be ready for heel help by the time I returned from Hearst. But things didn't quite work out that way.

When Dorothy came to visit after my return from the north, she brought with her the yarn - re-wound and a note. It started like this.
"Brenda, I don't think God intended for me to be a knitter. "

Been there felt that.

She goes on to say
"The cuff worked out fine but when I started to plain knit, I had holes and extra stitches and so gave up..."

Been there, done that.

The idea occurred to me, just before heading off to knit group on Thursday that I should knit her socks in time to 'gift' them to her when she comes to visit on Labour Day weekend. A brilliant idea considering our current heat wave.

And so, sock #1 is done.

Bright, cheerful, happy. Just like Dorothy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's That Time Of Year

No - not the Christmas waltz time of year. Or even the 'back to school' time of year as the television ad suggests.

It's canning time. Today, I've done this.
7 jars of Dilled Beans, 4 jars of Pickled Beets

and Day 7 - first day of syrup - of the Nine Day Pickles
Shown here, in the only glass container I own large enough to hold the cukes and their syrup. -my punch bowl.

I love to can. This time of year, I long to be a Mennonite. One with a large family that required jars and jars and jars of home-canned food to get us through the winter. Instead, there is Fred and I. And so, I am a 'mini' canner.

Next week, Chili Sauce and Salsa.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Sandy is under a Horst Schultz spell - addicted, she says, to mitred squares. Inspired by Mr. Schultz's methodology and knit with Koigu's beautiful wool, this is the beginnings of a baby blanket.
Smart lady, she did some colouring planning before casting on square number one.
Like the vest she showed us last Thursday, this promises to be another work of art.

The rest of us knit on in more traditional , but no less satisfying, fashion. Knitting her way to a full washer load, Sharon plans to felt mittens.

Gail finished a little pink sweater in Cabin Fever Cotton Tweed and has started another in green Marble yarn.
The green sweater will go to the little fellow next door, recipient of last week's hats, soon to celebrate his first birthday.

Doreen has been busy knitting 'preemie' hats. In keeping with the tiny hats, she special ordered a tiny needle.
The needle portion is less than two inches in length! Stretched tip to tip, they measure just under nine inches. Guaranteed to cramp I'm sure.

I did my best to get rid of some no-longer-wanted books and patterns.
About 20 pounds went to Knit Group but sadly, about 10 pounds came home. I'll try again next week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Helping The Economy

When at the trailer, my credit card gets a bit of a rest. Without an internet connection, temptation fades as opportunity ceases. But it doesn't take long, once back at home, for the card to start to twitch.

Simple City - a lovely shawl pattern by Eskimimi Knits was the first pattern to make the card sit up and take notice. Made with just one ball of Zauberball Sock yarn, the colours are gorgeous. Shawls of an ordinary size dwarf me, but these lovely little 'neckies' are perfect.
CH - CHING! The pattern is mine.

Even before summer vacation, I was eyeing Peasy . A lovely sweater designed by Heidi Kirmaier. The sweetheart-ish neckline, the lace work near the face and the elegant classic lines make it the perfect knit for this yarn.
The DK weight wool I won when on my 'Hate Me Now' excursion. CH - CHING! The pattern is mine.

Just doing my best to help the economy. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not Done - Yet

As promised yesterday, I have knitting to show. While this sweater didn't get completed at the trailer, it is on it's way.

I started, as good knitters do, with a gauge swatch.
OK. The technically-correct term would be sleeves. (They look small!) Knitting this sweater EZ style, I guesstimated the stitch count to be 24 stitches over 4 inches making my 40 inch sweater have a key number of 240 stitches. At 25% of that, I started the sleeves with 60 stitches - pure EZ - and found them to be too big. I started again with 52 stitches - 22 % - and they are just right.

After a few false starts where I tried different needle sizes to get a tidy stitch, I was on my way. Both sleeves were finished and the body cast on before I left for home.

That gave me 12 hours of car knitting time - well minus the three hours that I drove - to get a good junk of body knit. This past weekend saw me make the great join. Sleeves are now attached to the body.

(It looks small !)

Reading Elizabeth's take on yoke sweaters, it seems she disliked deep yoke patterns. In fact her rule of thumb is the pattern portion should take up only 50% of the yoke depth. Hmmm. Comparing the look of a deep yoke to a shallow one, I think I have discovered why I am 'not normally a fan of yoke sweaters.' Being petite. short and previously a blind pattern follower meant yoke patterns often hit unattractively close to my belly button. Not a good look.

With Elizabeth's guidance, this time, I counted the yoke pattern rows. Knowing my row gauge, I translated the number of pattern rows into inches. Then, I measured those inches on me to decide whether or not if I wanted the pattern to come that low.

Looking at that tape measure against my 'front' I decided to eliminate some of the pattern rows and substitute them for plain rows beneath the pattern. Thanks Elizabeth.

Not actually genius thinking, but when following a pattern, most knitters I always presumed the designer to be right. To be above questioning.

Questioning or merely thinking is one of the knitting wonders Elizabeth has taught me this year. So far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not Done

This morning, I re-shelved my trailer yarn. 9 days at home - it's about time. The good thing about my yarn is that I have an entire room devoted to it -with a door that shuts. Out of sight out of 'I-must-get-that-done' pressure.

But Fred will be home soon and I am ever the little housewife still. Getting the place ready for the return of the 'man of the house'. (Serious therapy could definitely be required here.) So back to the shelves went all the unknit trailer yarn.

Originally, when I packed the yarn I took various and sundry balls of yarn in addition to 'kits' for 5 sweaters. Yep five! Realizing that was a bit ambitious, even for me, I left two kits home and took only three. And I knit one! The yellow cotton cardi.

Still undone is this.

The Moose Eh! cardigan by Kate Atherley. I purchased the yarn
and pattern last winter from The Purple Purl. It is a 'spoof' sweater - one that takes a laughing, light-hearted approach to the serious moose & beaver sweaters knit by previous generations.

And this one didn't get done started either.
This is Cerisara. Pronounced Cerise-ara?? (Cerise like the French word for cherry) or saree-Sarah?? or none of the above?? and designed by Bonnie Marie Burns. I purchased this pattern on line shortly before heading up to the trailer, planning on knitting it up with this yarn. A gorgeous Italian, Cotton, Viscose, Ramie blend given to me by a friend a few years back. I have been waiting for the right pattern to jump off the screen at me and Cerisara is the one. I'm pretty sure.

Neither pattern got started but I am justifying that by the fact that neither could be EZ'd very well. They will be queued up for January 2011 - after the close of my year with Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Some trailer knitting did, of course, take place. And if I wasn't' so busy tidying my yarn room, I'd show you. Tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Good And The Inevitable

One great thing about coming home is the mail. Especially because, just before leaving, I had ordered a new knitting book.
Not that I spin, but I'm a sucker for small project patterns. This is a lovely book -published by Interweave Press and edited by Amy Clarke Moore, the editor of Spin-Off magazine.

There are, of course, the expected shawls, scarves and socks. But there is also some really 'cool' baby stuff: A wee jacket which zips up the back, a tiny Andean-style poncho and these.
It amazes me that young moms use wool diaper-toppers, but they do. We've had several at the store looking for organic wool to knit these soakers. Me, I was of the era of, and still a truster of rubber pants.

The book has some wonderful hat and mitten patterns.
This one being 'fake' isle using black and variegated to create the pattern.

And these fantastic gauntlet cuff mittens.
Gauntlet cuffs, seem to me, to be the answer to dressing in the 'requires-no-thinking' order. Coat first, then mittens. That could be just me, but a ribbed cuff mitten, to keep the wrist covered, needs to be put on before the coat. Who remembers to do that? And if you do remember, who can button their coat with mittens on?

Naturally, the world needs balance. Too much of a good thing would get boring! And if you believe that stay away from Alaskan freezer salespeople.

My balance is this. One knitting book and many, many of these.
Back to real life!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

First time back at knit group after a 6 week absence. It felt so-o-o good!

Sharon knit a lovely scarf with beaded yarn.

Since we Meaford knitters are known to recognize genius when we see it, Doreen started one too.

Bonnie, who never in her life prior to 2010 knit anything for herself, has done it again.This time, it's Bonnie by Bonnie. The Sitcom Chic Cardi designed by Bonnie Marie Burns knit by our Bonnie. That would be the same Sit Com Chic Cardi that Gail
and I have all made. It's a great pattern.

Sandy spent her summer learning mitred squares and creating this Koigu masterpiece.
Work of art knitting and not for the faint of heart needles.

Gail's neighbour's one-year old son was born with some cranial problems and recently had surgery that opened his skull from side to side. Gail intends to keep his tiny head warm with these.
Gail used the basic hat pattern from this book and now thinks she might work her way through the book, knitting every hat. Quite a challenge as the book claims to have over 600 size, yarn, hat pattern combinations. But - it should help with your 'knit-a-ball-a-day' plans, Gail. After all, it isn't long now until the Knitters Fair.

Seeing all the knitters and getting caught up on their summer activities was fun. Now, when Survivor starts, normal routing will really be established.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Yippee!!! I'm home. Not that I don't enjoy our summers near Hearst but being away for almost six weeks is enough for me.

Strange as it might sound coming from someone who summers in the great outdoors, after a few weeks, I get claustrophobia. A trailer is small, yes, but it's more than that.

Northern Ontario has LOTS of bush. Even the roads are just narrow ribbons laid between miles of bush. Claustrophobic. Add to that the fact that there are things that go bump in the bush - like bears - that keep me bound to the trailer deck. No walking, no biking, no hiking. Claustrophobic.

The town of Hearst itself, with a population of about 6,000, is a nice town. But it takes 70 minutes of driving eastward to reach Kapuskasing - the next town of any size. Heading west is worse - it takes 5 hours to reach a town bigger than Hearst. Claustrophobic for this Southern Ontario girl, used to driving mere minutes to see the sights and sounds the next town has to offer.

Hearst's primary language is French. While I can stumble along in my second native tongue, I am far from fluent enough to hold easy or in-depth conversations. With anyone. Trailer neighbours or store clerks. For this girl with a gift for gab - very claustrophobic.

And so, I am glad to be home. Definitely, I'll be ready to head back up next summer, but for now, home and my favourite knitting chair feel great.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Almost two years ago, I purchased some gorgeous Alpaca at the KW Knitters Fair.
It was the year of the 50th anniversary of EZ's newsletter publication, Wool Gathering. To mark that special occasion, Meg, EZ's daughter, released a never-before published pattern of Elizabeth's for a yoke sweater.
Not normally a fan of 'yoke' sweaters, there was something appealing about this one and when I spotted the Alpaca, I knew that I had my yarn. A friend cautioned me to knit the cardigan style so I oculd easily take it off if I became too hot. Alpaca is reputed to be very warm. 7% warmer than wool, so I'm told.
Two years later, my Alpaca 50th 52nd Anniversary cardigan is started.

This is sleeve #1. Done. Actually, it is almost the third sleeve. The first two half-sleeves(alias gauge swatches) were a toss. The ball band had no gauge stated. It did have a little picture of needles saying 2.5 - 3.5. They couldn't possibly mean that small was my thought, and I cast on with a 4mm.

4mm was definitely too large. The Alpaca,without the memory that makes wool my favourite fibre, was sloppy and showed every stretched stitch. OK. I ripped that and tried a 3.75.

I know, the label said maximum 3 1/2 - but they couldn't possibly mean that. Could they? Turns out they did. The 3.75 was still too sloppy so down to the 3.5 I went.

It looks lovely. The tension is perfect and the yarn is very, very soft, light-weight and with lovely drape. Sleeve number two is well on it's way and I hope to have the body started so I can mindlessly knit on the 12 hour drive home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Yellow Summer Sweater

Knitting at last! My little yellow summer sweater is finished. Blocked, but not yet worn. I am saving it for the trip home. Good gas station service is a definite with this sweater.

The yarn is a yellow, cotton denim. The exact name is on the label, back at the trailer, while I type here in town. Once home and more organized I'll try to remember to post it.

Knit at 22 sts/4 inches on 4 mm needles, I knit it EZ style. Casting on enough stitches to create a 40 inch sweater minus 10% for the bottom. Instead of increasing immediately after the ribbing, I increased every couple of inches as I knit up to the armholes. Wanting a little cropped sweater, the armholes are at 11 1/2 inches. The yoke gives it another 9 inches or so, making the total length about 20 - 21 inches.

Originally I intended to stripe the yoke a bit, but after reaching the neckline I took a good look and realized that the striping wasn't too creative. Creativity is rampant at the trailer this summer and I have James and Abi to keep up with.

So, the yoke was ripped and an inch or so of slip stitch stripes in yellow and white became my decorative element.

I cast on for the sleeves but only knit a row or two, before putting them on waste yarn. With the yellow yarn in short supply, I left the sleeves to last. There was one ball of yarn remaining when I started the sleeves, so half a ball per sleeve. That gave me about 4 inch sleeves - perfect for a little summer sweater.

I think EZ would be proud except for one thing. It's not wool. Shhhh.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Taking A Back Seat

I've knit less this summer than I can remember. Knitting has taken a back seat to many summer activities. I blame the weather.

The summers of 2008 and 2009 were less than stellar in terms of warm, sunny summer days. That meant lots of indoor time. Without telelvision, and only one radio station, indoor trailer time is knitting time.

The summer of 2010 has been different. Lots and lots of warm, sunny days. Swimming, kayaking, boating and two BIG birthdays have taken my time away from knitting.

Birthday # 1 was James' tenth in July. James often bring his friends out to the trailer for his birthday parties. They go tubing and knee boarding and play the the 'old fashioned' games that grandma organizes. Games like three legged races, sack races and musical chairs that today's kids don't often play but make make my grand kids howl with laughter.

This past weekend, was the BIG party. We celebrated Charlie's 40th. Two families of friends from 'down south' made the long trek to Hearst to party with us. We painted the birthday boy's underwear with 'Happy 40th Birthday', froze them, then hung them outside the party pavilion for all the world to see. But the most fun was pummelling the birthday boy with 40 water balloons. The kids had filled them ahead of time and on the count of three, we drenched Charlie.

The weekend ended with an afternoon of fishing. 9 Walleye were caught for a big blow-out fish fry.

Lots and lots of fun. No knitting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Little Miss Abi

Little Miss Abi, age 8, has taken an interest in sewing. Using an old shoe box, - decorated of course - she robbed the household sewing supplies to build her own sewing kit.

Seeing that intensity of purpose, Grandma took her to the fabric store and we purchased supplies for her first project. A hand sewn project.

There was a recent baby in the extended family and Abi decided to sew a bib for the baby. Grandma 'guessed' at the size and shape and did the major cutting. Abi did all the sewing. Rosettes for eyes, a piece of felt for the nose and great back stitch work with embroidery thread for the mouth.

Following in Grandma's footsteps, Abi grabbed the nearest relative - in this case 'Mom' - to model, prior to modelling it herself.
And here is the seamstress herself modelling her first project.
Great job Abi. Creativity rules again.