Friday, November 30, 2012

Great Knitterly Happening

It is true what doctors say about aging  - recovery takes longer.  Last weekend, we spent four days feasting and  visiting with friends and family.  Arriving home too tired and  too disorganized to blog, I am just now getting back to routine.

I am glad though that I was back to routine enough by Wednesday to attend a great, local,  knitterly event.  Meaford library routinely hosts 'author talks'.  Living in an area much sought after by retirees means many, highly-educated, experts-in-their-field, even world-famous people now call this area home.  And because they are retired they  give of their knowledge, time  and expertise for little or no monetary compensation.

Thus, in the library's series of author talks, I have listened to an author who wrote for the New York Times, one who had his own TV show, one who wrote for the Toronto Star, one who worked for the CBC, one who is a syndicated columnist and the list goes on.

But the best - for knitterly greatness - was the author we heard last Wednesday.  The library hosted Deb Gemmell.  Her topic was "What Can You Do With A Basic Top- Down?"

 The crowd begins to gather.

 Deb likes to encourage the inner designer in all of us.  With  samples to illustrate,  she walked us through the process of taking a basic pattern and re-designing it to something entirely our own. 
Beginning with  little, baby steps that began with colour changes or  trim changes and leading up to more complicated changes like inserting lace or cables and learning how to adapt the stitch count  for those changes, she dispelled the myth that patterns must be knit as written.  We learned   that changing a pattern is not difficult or to be feared.

She showed us the Chunky adult sweater that used the same pattern  numbers as the  fine-yarn, baby sweater.    And finally she showed us the miracle of bust darts.  Deb's own un-vention for easy, hidden, no-short-rows-required, bust darts. It was amazing to see how much better the fit  when  ladies' sweaters have more room in the front!  Now why did that take so long to figure out?

Following the talk, we followed Deb over to Purrsonally Yours, Meaford's LYS.  There, generous Isabel had laid out trays of crackers and cheese and fruit with dip. 
Deb opened her second trunk of samples and we had fun trying on sweaters. 

What a great day!  Thank you Meaford Library and thank you Deb.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Is it the yarn, or the knitters  that  can brighten a dull, fall day?   Both I think.  But regardless of which it is, the result is inspirational and fun.

Jean, today, was wearing an entrelac vest she knit  with her own hand spun. 
Such talent.  It brightens my day just to be in the room with her.

Ingrid  -of course! -  is knitting a skirt.
 That little piece of Koigu fabric in her hands is the start of another skirt.  "A girl can never have too many skirts" she said.   "Or shoes", I'd say.   The scarf she is wearing is a lovely little mohair piece with diagonal ends that Ingrid fastened off with one glorious bead.  I will definitely copy that idea, Ingrid.

Nicki, we decided should have been a teacher.
She has a gentle patient manner when explaining a new technique as she is doing here.  Ruth wanted to learn the long-tail cast on.

Carol is back from the first half of her Florida winter, wearing a gorgeous, fuzzy, pink cowl. 
Must be for her Canadian Christmas not her Florida winter.   The colour suits you well, Carol.

Outside, the sky was overcast and the sun didn't shine.  But at knit group, there is no such thing as a dull day.

Friday, November 23, 2012

R. A. P. Day

It is my turn to pay it forward.  My   R.A.P. Day.  Random Act of Pattern Day.
From the comments left on the blog regarding the For Good Hat, Fred has chosen one name.

The winner is    - drum roll please -  Jan.

The draw was legitimate  as Fred did the draw, but it so happens,  I know Jan.  Met her in Peterborough at Needles In The Hay where we took the Duct Tape Diva class.

Jan, I know your ravelry moniker so next week - no time right now as we are off in minutes for a family weekend - I   will be gifting you with the For  Good Hat pattern. 

Thanks everyone for the comments and thanks, Megan for the great pattern.  Pics next week

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Computer Issues

Word verification drives me crazy.  I know it drives some of you crazy too. Vera commented last week that it would be her last comment as she could no longer cope with the word verification.  Gina commented that it takes her longer to word verify than to read the blog and post the comment.  I hear ya' Gina.  Others have also expressed frustration over the process.

You must wonder, then, why I use it.  One word.  Robots.  Without word verification, I get robotic comments.  Thankfully I have comments  sent to me via email, so I can peruse and  delete the robotic - often distasteful -  ones. 

But I do have few  suggestions.  Most of you are computer experts or you wouldn't have found your way to my blog in the first place.  So, if I am telling you something you already know, please excuse me.

In word verification, it is important to type the letters exactly as they appear.  Forget the common computer rule of always using lower case.  If you see capitals in the word verification, type the letter in upper case.  Also, if there appears to be a space between letters and numbers, leave that space when you type. And  - one that took me a long time to twig to - type the number  in numeric, not word,  form.  Thank Sandra of Curlerchick for that one.

But the biggest difference for me came when I learned  that if you hold the control button  - lower left - and repeatedly hit the plus sign - upper right  - that the page - and the print on it -  will increase in size.  Sometimes this still doesn't make reading the wonkily-shaped word verification  letters  any easier but lots of times it does the trick.  If, in your excitement of seeing the words  grow in size, you  hit the plus sign too often and make things too large, simply hold control and hit the minus sign on the key to the left of the plus sign.  Things will get smaller.

Learning this trick was a WOW!  moment for me.  I hope it helps make your blog reading easier.

Monday, November 19, 2012

For Goodness Sake

Friday past was a heartwarming day.  I opened ravelry to see a message from my Southampton friend, Elena.  Or,  as  I sometimes call her,  Crankin' Elena.  She and her Mother,  Moe, -(Mother Of Elena)  own several antique sock knitting machines and spend their time crankin' out socks.  In fact they enjoy this pastime so much that in October, they organized a Crank-In  that saw crankers from all over Ontario and the N.E. USA spend the weekend  in their neck of the woods,  crankin' out socks.

Elena's ravelry message  read that she was gifting me with an e-pattern.  Elena  called it a RAP.  (random act of pattern)     How nice is that!

The pattern,  For Good,  is a hat pattern designed by Megan Williams to honour her deceased sister.  I'll let Megan's words tell the story.

"My sister Melissa affectionately called Melly, was a fun-loving,quick-to-laugh, caring and generous soul.  As a forester, she loved to play in the woods hugging trees.  She was never a fan of doing her hair, and was often seen wearing a hat.  

Melly tragically died in 2007 from pulmonary embolisms ( blood clots in the lungs) we believe were caused by the birth control she was taking....
In remembrance of her on her birthday, November 29th, I have designed a hat that I would love to knit and be able to give to her..."

Such a story.  And perfect knitterly timing for me.  Weekends, I like to knit quick projects that I can finish in two days. I enjoy the motivation of the quick finish and the break from the more time- consuming projects that occupy most of my knitting time. 

Here is my - almost complete -  For Good  hat.

 Knit with 100% wool  Rejuvenation in off-white,   I used 4.5 mm needles.   I thought the needle size suggested in the pattern was too small to achieve gauge with the yarn.   Most likely, that is  due to a difference in  the Americans versus Canadian definition of  Knitting Worsted weight yarn.

Since one good turn deserves another and since all proceeds from pattern sales are being donated by Megan to National Women's Health Network, I  too will gift someone with a pattern.  Just leave a comment today through Thursday and Friday morning, I will annouce who gets my RAP.   For goodness sake.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Sucker? Or KNITTER

A couple of weeks ago, while at a community event, a friend    -no not really - an acquaintance approached me with  her a ratty, old, worn out hood/snood in hand.

"Could you knit me a new one of these?"
"Well, actually two."
 "I used to knit but haven't knit for years."
 "It won't take you long."
" I guess I will have to buy some yarn - or maybe you have some."

There was no pre-amble.  No - "Are you busy?"
"Do you ever knit for others?"
"How much would you charge to..."
 There is no hurry but ..."

Call me a sucker if you like but more aptly you could call  me stunned into acquiescing silence.  By
 the time she suggested I might have some yarn, I was recovered enough to tell her I have lots of yarn but being a fibre snob, they are all natural fibres.  Silks, Mohairs, Wools, Linens etc and I was sure she didn't want the laundry hassles dictated by those fibres.
No, she agreed she didn't.  So I suggested she buy some acrylic yarn in a Knitting Worsted weight and that I would knit them on the machine.

At noon, at the close of the event, she returned to my chair to ask for my address.  "I will head  over to the yarn store  right now."  Sure enough, Fred and I were still at the table eating lunch when the door bell rang.

My initial reaction was to get them knit up and returned to her ASAP to get them out of my hair    knitting basket.  But Fred suggested a delayed delivery might be a better idea.  No use letting her think I can whip these up PDQ.

Today, almost 2 weeks have passed and I am definitely ready to get them back to her.  This one is knit with  Life by Stylecraft in grey and  Patons Decor in maroon.

The multi-coloured one,
fresh off the machine and not yet blocked or seamed is knit with Schachenmayr Bravo Jacquard Color.  It is a few inches shorter than the grey one, despite using all of  3x 133 metre balls.

Her old, ratty snood is 13 inches across (26" around) and 14 inches long.  She asked to have these knit a bit longer so as to completely cover the back of her head when she pulls them up like a wimple.


The non-pattern pattern, if you are interested in knitting one of these by hand  would read like this:

With a circular needle of the approriate size for your yarn,  cast on enough stitches to equal 26 inches.
      If your gauge is 5 sts per inch, like my multi coloured snood, you will cast on 26 x 5 =130 sts.
Work K2, P2 ribbing or a hem, whichever you prefer,  for one inch.
Switch to Stockinet stitch and knit for 17 inches.
Finish off as you began - with  one inch of K2,  P2 ribbing or a hem.
 Cast off.

Then - don't tell anyone that you knit.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

 A glorious fall day today - what we used to call Indian Summer.  Is  that still an acceptable term?  Mild temperatures, sun shine and at knit group, lots of fabulous knitting.

Ruth arrived  wearing this gorgeous new sweater. 


 The day of  Sandy B's, sister Sue's most recent, great, yarn give-away,  Sandy foisted - yes foisted - this yarn on Ruth.  "Your colour," she said.  "Enough to make a sweater." she said. But Ruth who prefers knitting smaller things, asked her sister to knit it for her.  

 According to  Ruth's 80 year old sister, this is an easy pattern.  'Anyone who can count to 7 can knit this pattern' is the story that Ruth relayed to us.  The buttons  came from her sister's button box and started out as black buttons.  Clever woman, she   got out her nail polish and painted them purple.  Volia!  Matching buttons.  Now we are all jealous - of the sweater and the sister. 

Jean knit this fabulous cowl.
 Hand spun by Jean.  Hand knit by Jean  "Is it good enough to put in the Spinners & Weavers Sale?" was her question.  Most definitely,  Jean.  Especially if you let Ingrid fashion-ize it for you.

Our newest knitter, Sue  - obviously another 'take a picture of   the knitting but not of me' kind of knitter -is working on a Muff.  

It is going to her Mother who suffers from cold hands. 

Doreen is knitting a Mistake Rib Scarf.  Such a long scarf, so many hours of knitting, she says she can't sleep for dreaming about the Mistake Rib.

Which do we do more of on a Thursday afternoon.  Knit or chat?  It's a toss up, I think.  Three ladies, one set of needles. 
One does not have to be a knitter to enjoy chatting, or a chatter to enjoy knitting.  But they do go well together.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Felted Slippers

Having paid  full price for my Knitscene magazine a few weeks back, I hoped to lower the cost per pattern  by making additional things from the issue.    After knitting my Lucy From Galway Hat, I intended to knit my second item,   The Friday Slippers. 

Appropriately enough, I started the slippers  on Friday night.  Started again. And again.  And yet a fourth time before deciding I must be way too tired or need new glasses.

Saturday saw another attempt.  And another and   another and a few more.   Finally,  I was achieving a modicum of success.  Then I turned the page.  Yet another entire page of instructions.  Most of them short rows - the source of the frustration for my first 8 or 10 attempts.  So I asked myself.
"Brenda, do you really need this amount of Friday stress?"

 Good question.  Obviously the Friday Slippers, for me, were going to be 'A Week From Friday Slippers' or  more likely,  'The Last Friday Of Next Month  Slippers'.
By the time I got comfortable with the  pattern I could  knit multiples of my slipper favourites - Duffers

And that is just what I did .  No Friday Slippers for me.  Instead I shopped the stash
 This yarn,  acquired in some long-forgotten yarn swap and  just aching to be used, is 100% wool packaged in 23g !! balls.

My complete stash of 4 balls, along with a bit of contrast yarn,  knit  2 pair of Duffers.
The pair on the right were knit  with a single strand of yarn, the other pair with a double strand.  Above,  you see them before  felting.

Below,  freshly felted.

Definitely, a Friday night knit.  Easy, quick, stress free.  Just what Friday nights were meant to be.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cone Yarn

Thursday at knit group, Ingrid told us of a Big  Yarn Sale.  She had only sketchy details, but knew it was taking place in Collingwood from Nov 10 - 18.  It sounded like a liquidation sale - I was curious.

I messaged a weaving friend from Collingwood via ravelry to ask  if she knew of the sale.  Turns out she did. A local 'production weaver' is downsizing and selling off her yarns at 75% below retail.

Now what's a girl to do?

Five cones is all I bought.

 Two, off-white wools and one white, boucle, knit-a-long yarn. Lucette's TDGSY jacket  was the pattern on my mind Saturday as I went shopping for the white yarns.

The small cone of rust boucle I thought  might work as a tag-a-long coupled  with the off- whites.  Once home, though. I realized it is too dark for the mono-chromatic look the sweater demands.

The last item I spotted was the large cone of green tweed.  Resistance was futile.  With a  life- time supply of green yarn,  what fun I could have teasing my friend Nicki.  She  is sick of seeing me in green and keeps insisting I branch out colour-wise.

Wilma emailed to say she had gone to the sale but was disappointed.  She thought the yarns looked old, dated and had a 'too-long-in-storage' smell to them.  She passed.

Today, to take  the picture for this post, I took all cones out of the bag and set them on the desk.   Wilma is right.  There is a certain, not-very-pleasant  'eau-de-storage' about them. 

But for $22,  no tax, on a dark, grey, Saturday afternoon,  I had a fun hour fondling fibre.   So  my way of looking at it is  --"Bargain if I never use it".  Or     "I've spent it in worse ways."    Or   "They're  printing it everyday."  Take your pick.  Or   my   Robert Frost's final word on the subject  -

Never ask of money spent
Where the spender thinks it went.
For no one was ever meant
To remember or invent
What he did with every cent.

My sentiments exactly.

Friday, November 9, 2012

But He's worth It

Working on Fred's scarf for the last few weeks, it was the on-the-go project I took with me for  Knitters Night Out.   During  'show & tell',   I mentioned that I had first thought to use my ball of Quiviut   for Fred's scarf but after knitting a few rows, realized it was much too delicate to risk in the hands of a   man   Fred.

Instead, as I showed  the knitters, I  used Patons, Kroy sock yarn.  Two label-less balls I had purchased from my Southapton, 'crankin' friend Elena a couple of years ago.  Elena had scored a large quantity of  Kroy at Paton's Annual Tent Sale in Listowel at a very good price.  She charged me $1.00 per ball.  Fred's scarf took 2 balls.  The original plan to knit a scarf for Fred with $90.00 of Quiviut  changed to the reality of a $2, sock-yarn scarf.   "But,"   I  told the assembled knitters,  "He's worth it."

 'But He's Worth It' Scarf  for Fred.
Pattern:  Mine - I call it Garter Rib. 
Yarn:  Patons Kroy Sock Yarn
Needles:  3.50mm

 The pattern precisely is -
Cast on 44 stitches,  or any number of stitches divisible by 4 and which gives you an odd number of groups of 4.  EX: My 44 stitches gave me 11 groups of 4.  The odd number is necessary so that both side edges of the scarf are identical.
Knit 8 rows.  (4 Garter Ridges)
Row 1:  *K4, P4.  Repeat from * to last 4 stitches. k4.
Row 2:  Knit.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 until - as Elizabeth Zimmermann might say -   ' you get sick of knitting or run out of yarn, whichever comes first.'

Finish by knitting 8 more rows, then cast off.

I used my own version of a stretchy bind off.  I do it like this - *Cast off  5 stitches, then create a stitch by picking up the purl bump from behind the next stitch.  Knit it,  cast it off,  then repeat the process from * across the row.  This gives about 20% more stitches for the cast off  and kept mine nice and loose.

Colour suits, looks good with the jacket, matches the beard.  Should keep him warm this winter and as I said   "He is so totally worth it."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Many cliches come to mind.
 'Put brain in gear before putting mouth in motion.'
 'Loose lips sink ships.'
'Think before you speak.'
'Once spoken, the words cannot be taken back.'
'Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.'

What has brought these saying  to mind is an email I received last night.  You see, I have two sons.  Communication with them is limited.  It's a guy thing.  Great tragedies in their lives usually result in communication home to Mom and Dad - as do the great triumphs.  Otherwise - 'No news is  hopefully good news,' Fred and I say.

But last night son #2 emailed. Saying something like this - "Being the loving son that I am, I read your blog.  And it has spoiled my surprise."

He was speaking of the Nifty Grey Scarf

I knit it, then on the blog, publicly declared  it to be  a Christmas gift for him.  Oops.

 "Act surprised," my Mother would have said.  Peter said he will try.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lucy From Galway

Somewhere on the 'net' I spotted Carina's Spencer's  Lucy Hat and fell in love.  From the Special Issue, Light Up Winter  Knitscene, it was one of those patterns that caused me to run right out and purchase the magazine.  No small feat for me as #1 - I have a K- Zillion too many knitting magazines already and #2 - I find magazines of any kind too expensive for my taste.  But Lucy made me do it.
 Pattern:  Lucy Hat from Special Issue Light Up Winter Knitscene
Yarn;  Galway Green Heather Worsted- about 60 G
Malabrigo - small amount in co ordinating colour
Needles: - 4mm

At least I was able to counter the price of the magazine by shoppping from my stash.  And for that I say 'Thank you Sue'.   Sandy B's sister Sue often sends   some of her    bags and bags of her 'I'm-no-longer-interested-in-this-yarn' leftovers down to the Meaford Knit Group.    Last time she did that I scored a ball of Galway Worsted in a gorgeous heathered green  and a ball of co-ordinating Malabrigo.  I know.  Who the heck gives away Malabrigo?  My farm upbringing told me to 'not look a gift horse in the mouth' so - Malabrigo for Brenda.   Both perfect for the Lucy Hat.

An easy pattern with some short rowing near the beginning to create the flap, and an interesting crown decrease.  The crown is shaped by dividing the stitches into 5 sections and decreasing once in each section,  every round.  Different from the more common crown shaping which is to divide into  8 sections and decreasec one each section,  every other round. 

The pattern says to turn the flap up, onto the side of the  hat,  and tack into place.  I haven't got that far yet because I wanted to see if it might look better to wear the flap differently than suggested.  In front, cap-like, perhaps?

Or down to warm one ear.

 Or maybe, just as the designger intended.

A nice, quick project to celebrate the conclusion of what seemed like the never ending saga of Vignette.  And to spread the price of the magazine over more projects, I think  I might make the Friday Slippers.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Red Infinity Combo

With 341 yards of yarn on the ball of Marble Chunky used for my Red Infinity Scarf, there was enough left, after finishing the scarf,  to knit a hat.
 Pattern:  My Own
Yarn:  James Brett Marble Chunky.  One Ball
Needles 6.5mm - A half size bigger than recommended on the ball band.

 Some time ago, I  downloaded a top-down hat recipe from ravelry, called  Lifestyle Top Down Hats, No Swatch Needed by Charisa Martin Cairn.    The frustrating experience of dealing with multiple, double-pointed needles on a very few number of stitches has made me shy away from knitting top-down hats.  But Charisa suggests casting on with 2 circs.  What a great idea.  It works like a charm. 

From there, I simply copied the stitch patterns of stockinet, reverse stockinet and K2, P2 used in the scarf.  In no time, this chunky hat was finished.

When knitting a scarf 'lengthwise' one is never sure - unless your math is much better than mine - of the finished length of the scarf.  And so it was with the Red Infinity.  I cast on 200 stitches hoping to achieve the navel-grazing length noticed on the Toronto fashionistas.  Instead,  my infinity grazes a totally different body part.  Not one I am willing to name here for risk of recceiving off-colour spam messages.  See for yourself.

Nonetheless, it looks great wrapped twice around the neck.

Now, IMHO,  I have the perfect, young-lady gift for our family Christmas swap. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

While it wasn't dinner out and knit night at Riverside Yarns like last Thursday, knit group today was still fun.

 I brought Vignette along and  seems it was a hit.  It fits and looks good on Bonnie, worn over white.  

It fits and looks good on Sharon, worn over maroon. 

See Jean sitting behind Sharon?  See her knitting?  She is yarn bombing. We all get requests for knitted items, but Jean's neighbour's request was specific.  He asked for  knitted covers for his tree stumps.  
 She seems happy to oblige.

And Ruth, wearing the latest trend in scarves - hers with sparkles and knit for her by her sister - finished the baby jacket that has been on her needles for a few weeks.
 Last I saw it, she had the teeniest ball of yarn remaining with  yet one sleeve left to knit.  Never did I think that she would get one complete  sleeve from the itsy ball of yarn she showed me last week.  But she did.

Now she is on to a sweater for a little boy.  Knit in 2 pieces, front and back identical in a  T shape,  it is, Ruth says, an easy knit.

Ingrid hidden by her knitting - oh we have all done that, Ingrid -  is well on her way to completing her latest skirt.  This one in Americo Cotton Flamme. 
You've got time Ingrid.  It won't be cotton wearing weather for a few months now.

Wilma is almost finished her cowl.  Knit with Cabin Fever's Fingering Weight yarn laced with Sterling silver, we decided it is a 'dressy' cowl.  Being Lilac in colour, Ingrid has already hinted that it would suit her.

Thursdays have been big nights in my life lately and it is now  way past  my PJs and knitting time as I write this post. Time to end the day with needles in my hands.