Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Learning Curve

There are times in my life when I declare that I never intend to learn anything new, ever again. I sense a saturated brain and declare it closed to learning.   Having once heard that reading the weekend edition of the  New York Times provides the brain with  more to absorb  than an entire lifetime of information available to a person from the middle ages I worry about overload.    I know for sure that my brain hasn't evolved enough to absorb information 'ad infinitum'  and so I play hooky from learning for a period of time.

Then along comes a new - or new to me - idea that ignites my curiosity fire and off I go learning again.  That is exactly what happened when I came across Susie M's group on ravelry.  Called Contiguous,  it is  a group that details a "way of knitting the shoulder seams and sleeve caps of a garment from the top down."  That would be set-in sleeves, people.

I have knit top down sweaters of course, but always with raglan sleeves.  Nothing wrong with raglan, but a 'change is a good as a rest'.  I have knit top-down, set-in-sleeves, but always separately from the sweater body.  In those cases, stitches are picked up around the arm hole and short rows  used to create the sleeve cap.  

Knitting  a top-down sweater with set-in-sleeves that are knit as one with the body was something I thought impossible,  until I spotted SusieM's group.

Now all my summer projects are on hold until I learn this new method.  Susie M is hosting a KAL sample sweater to showcase her invention and for today's homework, I completed row 12.  Here you see the entire top-down sample.

Seen here  is a series of increases in the back neck section -
the purpose of which,  I'm sure  will,  eventually, become  clear.

Shoulder seams radiate out from the cast on stitches,  with increases  done on both sides of the shoulder 'seam' stitches  on each row.


Although the KAL isn't  yet as far along as the sleeve cap,  I've been reading ahead.  It seems that a few stitches are set aside as top-of-the-sleeve stitches and increases made on the body side of those stitches to form the sleeve cap. 

I'm very excited to learn this new method.  Since I never read the New York Times, I have empty brain cells available for knitting info. Now what could be more relevant, I ask you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

To The Desert Once More

The New Mexico Sunset Wrap I knit last week, for a customer, was so appreciated that she immediately asked me to knit another.  She wanted  the same Indie yarn but in desert-sand colours - to wear with denim.

Taking creative liberties she didn't ask for  - oops, am I supposed to do that -  I put three buttonholes in this wrap.

The sunset wrap had one buttonhole for one very large button.  This time, to give wearing options, I worked a trim of single crochet along one edge and put three buttonholes near the top.  I've also set aside, for her approval,  Moose Antler buttons that are a great match for the sand-like colours in the yarn.

 My vision - which of course I will have to sell to her :) is one button, three buttonholes.  In-obtrusive buttonholes  that allow the wrap to be closed  by the top buttonhole or as an option, one of the lower two.  In which case the top  corner of the wrap will flap.  A different look altogether.  I hope she likes it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Tears are not  normal  at knit group.  But today, tears of laughter rolled down my cheeks.  It started with Sandy B.  She relayed the story of  getting a speeding ticket earlier today, when only a few kilometres from home.  124 in an 80 zone.  Yikes Sandy.  Have you never heard of cruise control?

Nicki pointed out that a Grandma in a twin set with pearls isn't likely the common 124-in-an-80-zone culprit.    Luckily for Sandy, the officer wrote the ticket for a reduced speed of 105.  Then proceeded to tell Sandy to go to court and fight it.   Do you suppose she reminded him of his Grandma?

At this point in the story, Ingrid  piped up to give Sandy advice about  what to do in court.  Apparently shortly after Ingrid came to Canada, when her English wasn't  good,  she  was caught driving at a high rate of speed in a 40 K zone.   Ingrid's  officer, even more helpful, told her to go to court to fight the ticket advising her to   'plead guilty to 69.' 

Ingrid, in telling us the story,  emphasized her newness to Canada, her inexperience with tickets, judges and courtrooms and her  frustration over not  understanding phrases like 'plead guilty to 69'.   On the established court date, Ingrid was waiting in the  ante room when a  well dressed gentleman approached and began chatting.  Ingrid reported  "He looked like a lawyer.  Very well dressed with nice shoes".  

Mr. Well Dressed  asked Ingrid the reason for her court appearance then listened to her story of driving at a high speed in a 40 zone and being  counselled   to appear in court and to 'plead guilty to 69'.   "That's right", said the gentleman.  "Plead guilty to 69."   Then he walked away with no explanation.  Ingrid still didn't know the meaning, but she knew what to say.  She was ready. 

Ingrid happened to be last in the  line of speeders the judge saw that day.  No one else 'pleaded guilty to 69'  and Ingrid began to wonder if she had correctly understood the advice given to her.   When it was Ingrid's turn and the judge asked about her driving, she thought he was asking about her drive to the courthouse that day.  "Oh, it was lovely" said Ingrid. "Beautiful clouds and a very  pleasant drive."

The judge corrected her and asked about the drive when caught speeding. "Oh" said Ingrid. "  I plead guilty to 69".

"$40"  said the judge and it was over faster than it began with   Ingrid still no wiser about the meaning of 'plead guilty to 69".

By this point in the story, Doreen  bust forth with uncontrollable laughter, announcing  her   'low' thoughts and racy interpretation of  'plead guilty to 69'.  At which point we all admitted to  the same thoughts and loud laughter erupted through the room.  Ingrid's English is still not good enough for racy slang and as we all laughed, she puzzled.  Tears ran down my face and my photo shoot was blurred. 
My one good shot is of Gail  and  the lovely gift she received this week.  An Aunt gave Gail  her Mother's first thimble in it's original tiny case.  Such a wonderful treasure to have. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


This beautiful sweater is knit with Qiviut Yarn

Called Canadian Cashmere by some, it is indeed soft and very warm so I'm told.  No, this sweater is not mine.  I did lust after similar garments when I happened upon the Jacques Cartier store  in Banff a few years back  but the prices were too rich for me. 

This sweater belongs to a store customer and it was in sad shape.  She brought it in to see if it could be repaired and sadly I had to tell her I thought it was beyond repair.  Large elbow holes would have been difficult to repair in a plain stockinet pattern.  This sweater sports cables, stockinet and double seed stitch - all of which made it difficult - and for this knitter, most certainly  impossible  - to repair.  The customer despaired. 

She promised she didn't care if the repair was patterned to match the sweater.  She promised she didn't care if the repair was invisible.  She promised that she didn't even care if the repair looked good -she just wanted to be able to wear her beloved, hand-knit, Quiviut sweater.  Attempting to scare her off with stories of how inept my attempts might be, how amateurish the repair might look, I did my best to prepare her for a less than beautiful repair.  Not easily swayed, and having already purchased a ball of almost matching yarn,

she finally convinced me to try. 

An off-hand comment made by another knitter gave me the idea to repair the sweater with patches.  First, I knit two patches and sewed the first  to the outside of the sleeve.  It looked really - patched.  That wasn't going to work, so on the second try,  I sewed the patches to the inside of the sleeves,
 then tacked the  sweater to the patches.

The less-damaged sleeve looks not bad. 

The sleeve with the gaping hole will test the customer's promises. 

Aware the entire time I worked on the sweater of the rarity of the fibre, the exclusiveness of the hand knitting and the sheer cost of the yarn- this 25 g ball has a price tag of $85.00 - I felt as if I was getting a glimpse into  a different social sphere. 

Knowing a Quviut sweater is certainly too rich for me, I was not unhappy when  my face started to itch, my hands started to itch and my eyes became very bloodshot and sore.  An antihistamine  and drops of Visine later, I finished the repair and can now say "Ah, yes.  Qiviut.  Lovely fibre.  Unfortunately, I can't wear it.  Allergies, you know."

Friday, May 20, 2011


A  P.S. to Tuesday's post.   She loved it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Early  rain cancelled a morning hike,  but by afternoon the sun was out.  Other than an afternoon with knitters and yarn, sunshine is the next best thing to lift spirits.  With all three happening at once - well only a knitter could imagine the fun.

Sharon is well along with her Featherweight.  Using the Americo Cotton Flamme she purchased at the Creative Festival, it's looking  fabulous - a wonderful summer sweater.

The advantage of top down knitting, of course, is being able to try it on.  But Sharon, afraid of losing stitches - or so she said - had yet to do a fitting.  Wilma helped and


all fears were allayed.  No lost stitches and it fits!

Ruth had needlework to show.  One down, five to go for an  'owl-loving'  daughter.

I'd say she seems happier with her knitting than her needlework.  This little   sweater is for an expected great grand child.

I often speak of the great, warm feelings knitters have for one another.  Bonnie and Ruth demonstrated.  Hammed up  for   the camera of  course, but no less real for the  staging. 

Sandy is still working on little hats - 

 and searching here for something in that big bag of hers.  Perhaps a little girl for the pink outfit Sandy knit before  everyone knew the baby was a boy. 

And smiling Gail is working on Smiley's Stripey sweater number two.  Two sleeves at once.  Very clever, our Gail.

Bright yarns, bright knitters, bright sunshine.  A great spring day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Confession

Forgive me Nicki, for I stole your Rhubarb.

Number two son, Peter,  called to say he was coming to visit  last weekend.  Ever the Mother, (Peter is 36) I set about to plan the perfect, home-cooked meal. 

Being spring, and being a fair, pastry chef, I thought  Rhubarb Pie would be the perfect dessert.  The only problem was/is - my rhubarb patch is pathetic!  Nicki, on the other hand,  has the best rhubarb patch in the county.  Growing in what must be  perfect sun and soil conditions, Nicki's rhubarb reaches gigantic heights and flavour very early in the season.

Normally I would  simply have called Nicki and begged for rhubarb.  And, as she has done in the past, she  would have generously given me lots .  But Nicki was out of town on pie-making day.   So, Nicki, I stole your rhubarb. Enough for a delicious pie. Oh and maybe just a  bit extra for the freezer.

It was delicious and I'm hoping my penance won't be too severe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's A Wrap!

Two days in a row  with  finished knitting projects to show.  Today's wrap has  been my fat needle, unshaped, easy-knit relief from Peasy.

Unlike most of my knits, this one is not for me.  It's a commission!  LOL!  I've always wanted to say that and in this case it's not entirely untrue.  The piece is a  wrap I knit for someone who fell in love with the colours of the yarn  then looked at me with big brown eyes to say   "But I can't knit."

Using Indie by Sirdar, in shade 0150, the colours are those of a New Mexico sunset.  The customer loved them all - except the eggplant.  She asked if I could cut that out of the ball of yarn to focus more on the orange and pink.  Sure.  Since the ball contained a lot of eggplant, it meant losing a lot of yarn. 

Not being  a deep purple fan myself, I could see her point, and I love the finished look.  Just enough eggplant to give contrast to the lighter shades but no so much that it is a 'purple' wrap.
The piece is loosely based on a garment  in the Indie pattern book.  I cast on enough stitches to make the wrap about 18 inches deep.  There are two garter stitches at each side, the rest is a 3x3 rib.  After about 40 inches of knitting I worked one row with a buttonhole.  Two more rows then a loose cast off.    The button  is gorgeous - hand carved walnut.  A wonderful finish to the wrap.
Tomorrow it goes with me to work and I get to see the reaction of my first commission customer. I suppose, like most commissioned artists, I expect one of two reactions.  Either I'll never see the wrap again, or I'll be wearing it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Punishing Peasy Ultimately Pleases

At last,  I present, with it's lovely uncurled edges,  Peasy. 

As my title suggests, Peasy was not an breeze- through knit.  It's curling edges stumped me through five incarnations. In it's final form though, the sweater pleases me. 

Once again, I find myself out of sync with the 508 ravelry knitters   who have knit this pattern.  ("Great pattern.  Easy pattern.  Lovely pattern."  Not a negative or instructive  word to be read)   The pattern wasn't horrible, but is certainly not one that I would recommend  following blindly.   Heidi Kirrmaier has some lovely designs.   Vitamin D, Pipit, Summer Solstice, Grapevine and Buttercup are but a few that I had envisioned knitting.  If, however, I were to knit another of her patterns, I would  certainly approach the project  with the eye of a cynical technician.   I'd  ask  - "Is this really how I want to knit this sweater?"  "Is this really how I want this sweater to look?"

Peasy, as an example,  is a top down sweater.  Great - that's usually good, problem-free knitting.  Peasy however, started at the neck with three rows of garter stitch above the lace portion only.   The top of the sleeves and back started with stockinet stitch.  Once the sweater was complete, the pattern said to return to the unfinished sleeve & back tops and knit three rows of garter stitch to finish off that section of the neckline.   Then, of course,  somehow the added-later garter edge had to be connected to the original garter edge.  A cast-off edge, connected to a cast-on edge.  A different look entirely and because the connection sits at the centre front of the sweater, it needed to be neat and tidy.  How much easier it would have been to start the entire sweater with the ultimate finished edge.

Then there are the sleeves - the unshaped sleeves.  Knit top down, they are one width all the way down. Close to the bottom of the sleeves, there is one row where stitches are decreased away before knitting the ineffective  three rows of garter.  I knew that the sleeves were unshaped and could, of course, have rendered them my own with some decreases as I descended towards the finish.  And know now that  I should have.  But I liked the picture on ravelry, showing the sweater  knit as the pattern instructed, so decided to knit mine that way as well.  The sleeves are simply OK.  Not great.  Just OK.  Next time, I'd shape them.

And lastly,  there is the most ineffective, three rows of garter edging.  It simply doesn't work - at least not for me and the yarn I used. I finally chose a  six row, 3x3 garter rib for the bottom edge of both the sweater and the sleeves.

The front bands I finished with a 5 row, reverse garter ( purl stitches rather than knit stitches) edging.  It was  knit up the right front, across the lace,  the sleeves and the back and continued on to finish at the bottom left front corner.


 Zara, the yarn used for my Peasy is a washable wool.  It's spin is somewhat  tubular  and probably for that reason, it split easily.   I have some very uneven stitches in Peasy that occurred when I  let a stitch drop down several rows in order to correct a spit stitch and then laddered back up with a crochet hook.  The unevenness has been somewhat subdued  by blocking, and will, I hope, disappear as the sweater is washed and worn.

Knitting  this pattern has only confirmed for me, that I am better at pattern-free knitting. I do better with a vision, a concept and Elizabeth Zimmermann by my side.    Having said all  this negative 'stuff' about pattern and yarn,  I do admit that Peasy's end result is a very, wearable, off-white sweater.  A great  neutral garment that should see  lots of wear.  Punishing to knit, but a pleasing addition to my wardrobe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thursday - A Day late

Readers who blog know that Blogger has been down for maintenance. A one hour shut down, Wednesday's message read.  Since the site wasn't up and running until after lunch today, maintenance at Blogger's house is  like maintenance at my house.    Readers who are don't blog must have wondered if I had stayed home from knit group this week.  Heavens no!

And glad I am that I went.  Ingrid had a copy of the Koigu magazine that features her design on the front cover.
What she previously neglected to tell us is that she also has two other designs in the magazine.  We sit amongst the  published and famous at our group.

Bonnie is looking for a metre or so of Angora to finish this little hat.
She held the Angora together with another yarn and darn,  the Angora finished first.  

This little red 'hoodie' is another 'craft show' project.
When you have to knit a booth-full of kiddies things before October 1st, there is no time for personal knitting.  I admire her stamina.

Gloria is back!  Gone two weeks, we wondered - "Does she have the flu?"  "Is she  on vacation?"  No.  Turns out she had a pace maker installed.  Just two weeks ago, she didn't know she needed one!  Knitted dolls must be recuperative knitting because look at these!

With some close up shots of the details.

Very wonderful, Gloria. 

Wilma, looking here as if she's hogging the candy dish,  is ready to sew the buttons on the  pink top-down  sweater from Cabin Fever's Baby 'V'.


 Made with  Cotton Tweed  left over form a previous project and the perfect pink for a little girl.

Sandy B showed me how she will sew together her Maggi Jackson's  linen top.  First though she has to sew 73 buttons in a random pattern on both the front and backs of the sweater.  The pattern has you work a purl stitch everywhere Maggi suggests a button be placed.  With 73 to sew on, I'd be glad of those purl stitches.  

I have given Sandy B the first-ever, knit group prize for largest knitting bag. Who needs a craft room when you have a big this large?

Lastly, but most certainly not least, a new knitter has joined us.  And I FORGOT to take her picture.  Nan - 'skeiner' on ravelry -  has  moved from Toronto to the  Meaford area.  What else would she do on her first Thursday in town but come to knit group?  Nan spotted me on ravelry last year and is the knitter who stopped me in Toronto at Romni Wools last fall.  "Are you Brenda?"  "Brenda from Meaford?" 
We're glad to have you Nan and next time - I'll take a picture.  I promise. 

There might have been a down time for maintenance at Blogger, but at knit group, the knitting never stops.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brenda's Edge

Some say 'third time's the charm'.  In fact, many times, my own knitting re-takes have caused me to say it.  But Peasy defied the three-times-lucky rule.  I lost count of the number of re-knits for the front borders.  Towards the end, I thought the sweater was ruined because of the large holes created along the front from the many knits and re-knits.

But, channeling  - and probably paraphrasing - Winston Churchill -' we shall never, ever give up'   or my Mother - 'try again, dear'  I kept at it and think I have conquered the curling edges.  Not with three or even five rows of garter. Not with reverse  stockinet trim,  nor with I-Cord.  I have conquered it with my own version of    ??   trim.

I began by picking up stitches all around the sweater edge, including the neckline.  This doesn't sound like innovation unless you know that the pattern suggested  the  neck trim  be worked  only from where the lace portion ended.  That meant, of course, that somehow you had to sew the finished, prescribed garter edge to the lace edge in the highly-visible, centre front of the sweater and make it look good.

Yes, it is true that the lace portion began with garter edging, but a cast on edge looks vastly different than a cast  off edge and the pattern made no suggestions for a cast on that might  mimic the cast off. 
Sally Melville would have been shocked.

So what did I do?  After picking up stitches along the right front, around the neck, and down the left front, I purled the next row.   My theory being that when turning a piece of knitting, a purl row makes the turn sharper.  And my front edges definitely needed to  be turned.  Away from the  inside of the sweater and towards the outside.   The next three rows, I worked as a  garter edge of sorts but by purling rather than knitting.   I added stitches on the convex corners and worked two together in the concave corners.  Lastly I cast off by purling.

Peasy is blocking now and of course within those strict confines, it is difficult to tell.  Before blocking, though, I tried it on.  I laid it over a chair back.  And DANG!!! I think I've got it.

Is there a name for garter edging  in purl stitch?  I don't think I've ever encountered it in my knitting life.  I ask because if it doesn't have an official name, I think 'Brenda's Edge' has a nice ring to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lene from Dances With Wool today said."I hate it when I have to say to myself that I cannot do something. (That is in my craft, there are plenty of things outside knitting that I cannot do, but after forty and some years of knitting, saying that I cannot do something, irritates me.)"

I know just how she feels as I am almost there with the  &^*% curling front borders of  Peasy.

Then I read Knitting To Stay Sane and I think I have found my answer.  The cure for  curling front borders.

Do as Glenna did.  Knit a pullover.  From now on, baby.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peasy - You Are Driving Me Crazy Nuts

When my  niece Christie, at the time, two years old,  awoke from sleep one night  to find her Mother painting the bathroom, she was immediately drawn in.   The paint, the brushes, the after-hours activity all looked pretty exciting to a two year old and she tried to convince her Mother to let her 'help'.  When Mom wasn't swayed,  Christie thrust her hands onto her hips, stamped her little, two-year old foot and loudly declared  "Mom!  You drive me crazy-nuts!"   before stomping back to bed. 

'Driving one crazy-nuts' has  become 'family-speak' for the futility and frustration one feels about a situation we'd like to change,  but can't.

Peasy is coming close to that stage.  I'll reserve detailed  details for when the sweater is actually done - ever hopeful I am -   but for now,  take a look at some of my frustrations.
The pattern called for all edges to have three rows of garter stitch then a bind off.  I tried that along the bottom.  It curled.  I tried five rows of garter.  It curled.  Now I have a  3X3 garter rib.

It is almost non-curling.  Good enough, that curl or not, I'm not re-knitting a fourth time.

The sleeves had the same three rows of garter and although with their smaller circumference, they  didn't curl, they also didn't match the new bottom edge.  So the sleeve edges are being re-knit.

The button bands too, with just  three rows of garter,  curled .  Their first re-incarnation was with the garter rib.  It looked OK but not spectacular.  While fine on the bottom, it looked a little too un-refined running up the sweater front.    In Sally Melville's Purl Stitch and Styles books, she often  used Reverse Stockinet edging.  Attractive in her patterns and even here.

  But definitely not a good, curling stopper.

Next up, try number three -  attached I-Cord.
"And Peasy",   just so you know, "You are starting to  drive me crazy nuts!"