Thursday, July 31, 2008

just when I had about given up...

Knitters magazine draws me back in. I've avoided the past few issues, because really, no one needs to see me dressing like that. And I had no plans on wasting my precious knitting time on the crap they were showing.

But the Summer 2008 issue? I'd actually make some of these! Okay, some I wouldn't be caught dead in - Heliotrope? Oh please... But for the most part, I like the patterns. And that's saying something, considering how it was looking.

I may not subscribe, but I will check it out on the new stands again...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

my first real weaving project!

20 inches wide, about 6 feet long, just over 1000 metres of Cadenza merino/silk sock yarn. I love it. It's very warm, a little stiff, but it will soften up immensely after a nice Eucalan soak. What a crappy picture of me wearing it! (I'll see what I can do to make it better)

I finished the edges with three rows of alternating knots. This may be for my friend J, or maybe my Mom. Either one would love it. This reddish pinky colour isn't for me, so I have no issues with making a Christmas gift of it.

I do enjoy the weaving. Very Much. But it will not replace knitting in my heart. I love the meditative action of knitting. The weaving is fun (and fast!), but it's not nearly as portable, nor is it as relaxing. So I am still a Knitter, and also a weaver and a sewer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

garden harvest

We've been enjoying the fruits of my son's labours lately: This is one day's worth of green beans. We had beans with the lamb chops I marinated Sunday - fresh rosemary, parsley and lemon basil from the garden, garlic, some olive oil and sea salt, all mashed up with my mortar and pestle (a ridiculously heavy granite one - I love it!). They were yummy. Beyond yummy. We also had them the night before with a steak, and I will probably have some tonight. We are going to clean off the bushes before the end of the week, since we are away next week at the cottage. I don't have a garden there, but I do have pots of herbs, so the mortar and pestle will probably come along - it makes the best marinades...

We had a potential issue with Son's corn crop - the hail did a number on it, but we got it back upright, and staked them pretty well. I don't think there will be a problem, which is good, because Son is looking forward to the corn more than anything. The carrots are coming along, but they are still a couple of weeks away at best. The chili peppers should be ready to take to the cottage next week, which makes husband and son very happy.

We've also made a decision on the garden for next year. I personally think we should just dig up the whole lawn area behind the house, since we don't use that area (corner lot - weird lawn usage). Husband has this outdated notion of having "lawn". Fine - he has to cut it. So what we will do is containers. Large ones. Surprisingly, he's okay with this, even though the containers will sit on the grass and kill it. But it's not a set in stone "garden". Works for me - containers are better anyway - raised beds and all that. We are going very low tech, and getting large plastic bins - deep enough for some root type veggies, and spacious enough to really take advantage of the one sunny area of the lawn. Son is very excited, since he is the "food grower" of the family. "Dad handles the lawn, you grow flowers, but I grow the food, Mom".

Monday, July 28, 2008

stay-cation recap

4 days off, and lots got done! We didn't go to the cottage - the weather did not look like it was going to be in out favour, so we decided to stay home and attend to the sorely neglected homestead. On Thursday and Friday, my son and I played mini golf, went to the driving range, went out to lunch with friends, rode our bikes, and generally had a great time. He is starting to show teenager tendencies - at 9 years old, he's sleeping in until 9am or so. I have no complaints! My husband on the other hand, was grumbling a bit about having to get up and go to work.

Although Friday, we had a rude awakening when the phone rang at 5:30am. It was the Security company, reporting a possible break-in at hubby's office. Now, he has the alarm because about 3 months ago, he had a break-in and all the computers were stolen. SO this freaked us out a bit. He took off to the office, and I was awake. Son heard the commotion, and came into our room. I guess he picked up on the tension, because he wasn't going back to sleep either. The two of us laid in bed, both reading until we got the phone call from hubby - false alarm. However, by that time, there was no getting Son back to sleep, so we had a early start to the day.

Saturday, the weather predictions came true - at the cottage, we were hearing of non stop rain, whereas at home, we had some sun, and some of this: Yes that is hail - compared to a golf balla quarter and a toonie. Fun stuff! We stood outside under the overhang as long as we could to watch, but it drove us inside pretty quickly. It was over in no time, and there was very little damage done to our property, but some of the street got hit pretty hard.

So I did what any self respecting knitter/sewer/weaver would do - I headed inside and started creating: I drafted my own skirt pattern for this, using this book - - huge recommendations for this book - I've never had a skirt fit me so well!and used an existing jacket pattern with a few mods to take advantage of the border embroidery. I also got some weaving done, but that's a story for another day...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a night out, and a short stay-cation

Last night, I headed down to the Bathurst Clark Library in Vaughan to see Stephanie talk. As always, an enjoyable evening. It was a small group of us, which really allows Stephanie's personality to shine through. She got over her initial nervousness quite quickly, and read excerpts from her new book, which were then expanded on with discussions and questions from the crowd - not easily done in groups of a hundred or more, but easily accomplished in a small group. After the talk, Stephanie, Rachel H, myself and two other York Region Knitting Guild members, Nancy and Margaret, walked over to a local watering hole for a frosty glass of something and some snacks. It was great to sit down and chat for a bit. While I had my camera with me, cam-nesia struck, and there is no record of this evening, at least from my perspective. I think Stephanie took some pictures - I hope she got one of the cutest baby in the world, who was vocal and happy and just a joy to watch. Over beer, we discussed Stephanie's annual jaunt to Aurora in August - it is happening, however, it's another small gathering, due to space constraints, so we're keeping it to Guild Members and their guests. And yes, there is still time to join the Guild - check us out on Ravelry!

I'm taking Thursday and Friday off work this week - my sitter is away, and I have no coverage for the boy, so I happily decided to stay with him! We are doing the mundane - hair cuts, car maintenance, grocery shopping, cleaning up the gardens and getting some jewellery repaired, as well as the fun - miniature golf, driving range, swimming with friends. We could have gone to the cottage for a long weekend, but we really need a few "at home days" to do the stuff above. I may or may not get near the computer - I find when I have the time at home, I use it for other things. I plan on sewing some skirts with some fabulous fabric I got on sale, and I want to spend time weaving my Red Cadenza wrap. the sooner I finish this, the sooner I can attack the black silk Disco Lights scarf again. And other things. I have so many projects planned - knitting, sewing, weaving, that I will never get to them all. But isn't that what we all do? Isn't that part of life? Taking a few minutes each day to plan out what you WOULD do if you COULD carve out the time. Instead, I do the things I SHOULD do, just to keep things running somewhat smoothly. But it's nice to dream...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

my new favourite sock yarn...

... at least until I get sidetracked by another one.

Misti Alpaca sock yarn. Not only does it come in some beautiful handpainted colourways, it's so soft in the skein, you just want to squoosh it and squish it, and do things to it that you probably shouldn't.

But you think, "it's too nice in the skein. It probably won't knit up so nice. (I can be a bit of a cynic). It will pool the colours, or be a little scratchy (fat chance) or it won't wear very well. It will be full of knots, (which annoy me to no end in sock and other yarn)." Here's where blogs need "feel-o-vision". You have to feel this to believe it. Soft, soft, soft. Strong (the silk and nylon are doin' their job). Incredible colour blending. From far away, this looks like the forest floor in autumn - a melding of all the colours of the fall leaves, creating their own special colour. Up close, it's even better. the individual colours shine through, snugging up against each other, looking like they were meant to be. And I'm giving these away. My FIL has major foot issues. Let's just say his dogs are among the ugliest on the face of the earth, and he's always looking for soft, comfortable socks. I've found them. These will be his Christmas gift, if I can hold on that long. I know he will love them, and I will be collecting other colourways for him.

And thanks for the nice comments on the black Disco Lights woven scarf yesterday. I frogged it last night, and it went remarkably well. I will rewarp my loom once I finish the red Cadenza wrap, and make the black scarf again, keeping it to 10-12 inches in width.
I can't wait - as Deirdre said, it's all part of the learning curve.

Monday, July 21, 2008

finally! an update!

I'm back. We won't discuss the issues I've had - I ended up working from home for a while because I was getting ready to throw things. My boss was completely in my corner, so I now have anew computer, with the hamster drive replaced by something much more twentieth century. Maybe sometime soon I'll upgrade to the twenty first, but that depends on how much I decide to suck up to the I. T. department...

I've been weaving. I love it. I really do. I still consider myself a Knitter first and foremost, but there's nothing wrong with diversifying my leisure time activities. I sew, I quilt, now I weave. I've done some test items, and my first real project was this scarf made with a thin (think fine laceweight) bamboo warp, and woven with the black silk Tilli Tomas Disco Lights. I love how this fabric came out. It's actually a deep, ebony black, with the sheen that comes from silk, and the sparkly bits of the black sequins. Delicious.
however, I don't like the size. It's too short for the width. When it's this short, it loses drape, and I want the drape. So... I'm going to rip it out, and rewarp (thankfully, I bought a cone of the bamboo, so I have tons left). I'm going to make it about half the width and twice the length. That should make an already beautiful piece just about perfect. However, that will have to wait, as I've already rewarped the loom with the red Cadenza. Yummy.
I've been taking the loom to the cottage, and getting some time with it there, however, this past weekend was just too humid to be working with so much wool, so there wasn't as much done on it. I originally had starting weaving the cadenza somewhat loosely, and decided to tighten it up to create a denser fabric. I bought another skein of it to ensure I would get the length I wanted, so it may take a little longer than I first expected, but that's OK. It's all a learning process.
I did make a fair bit of progress on the alpaca sock, as well as the Eliza wool sock, so things are going well. I've got a short week this week - taking Thursday and Friday off, since my sitter is away, so the boy and I will have a short "stay-cation" and get some things done around our place - we'll get to the driving range, and play some mini-golf, as well as other more mundane things (taking my car for a tune up, cleaning out the house a bit...), but it's all good. And I can read blogs again! I was trying to get caught up at home, but I didn't always get the change to get near a computer, so I"m a bit behind. Management here is great about personal use during lunch and other off times, as long as it is not abused.
Reading back over this post, I realize that I'm all over the place, kind of stream of consciousness, but I've got to get going, so lucky you, you get to read my drivel.
Back soon, and hopefully more coherently...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

computer issues...

...are keeping me from posting (and reading!) blogs. (I write at home, and fine tune and post from work)

Argh! the I.T. department at work and I are not getting along. I've been asking (with my boss's blessing) for a new computer for 2 months. The work I do entails needing a better box than they think I need, but they don't know exactly what it is that I do, and we've been circling around each other for weeks.
Today, after I spent three hours watching two different I.T. guys try different things, they have come to the conclusion that I may need a new computer. Now if I could get authorization...

ARGH!!!! I got all the authorizations two months ago. I want a new box. My boss wants me to have a new box, and has signed off on the request.

If this isn't fixed tomorrow, I'm going to the computer store, buying my own and giving them the bill.

I hate incompetence. I hate people who, without understanding what I do, tell me what they think I should have, when I know what i need in order to do my job. And these two things are not the same. My present computer is old enough to still be powered by a hamster running on a wheel, and the hamster is hurting.

I have some lovely weaving and knitting photos. Really I do.

Peeved?? Me?? I'm off to have another glass of wine. I needed at least one to calm down before I wrote this. You can only imagine what this would have said if I wrote it an hour ago...

Monday, July 14, 2008

gratuitous garden shots

I forgot to download knitting pictures - so here's a closeup of my elderberry tree in full bloom:

Lovely light scent on these - I know elderberries are useful in the herbal community, but I just love the way the flowers look - sort of like snow drifts on the branches.

I have a hollyhock in the back garden - I always forget about this one, because it's tucked away, out of the main traffic area. So when I checked last week, I was surprised to see the hollyhocks out in full force. And, I don't remember them being this deep purple, for some reason I thought they were pink.

And my daisies! I love my daisies - so fresh looking and cheerful. I have a couple of patches of these - my mom divided them from her garden, so that makes them even more special. She did the same with her peonies, and I love them - however, I totally gapped when it came to taking pictures of the peonies when they were at their prime a couple of weeks ago. I have 4 peony bushes, and had enough flowers for huge bouquets at our house, for my sitter, at the office, and at my husband's office. And that still left a ton of flowers on the bushes. Very prolific, my peonies.

And, in checking my son's garden - he's the "food grower" remember... I found his bean plants getting ready to feed us. The flowers are out, and setting, and tiny baby beans are starting up. I figure in a week or two, we will be inundated with green beans and I can't wait!

Friday, July 11, 2008


I bought more of the Alpaca sock yarn. I went to Needles and Knits, planning on buying one skein, enough to make a pair of socks for my FIL - he loves the handknits, and has been lobbying for a soft pair that is long in the leg. Once I fondled the Alpaca Sock, I knew I had found my yarn for him, so I just needed 1 more skein to make the socks for him, Just one. Yeah, right. You try and decide between these... The handpaint colours are fabulous, the feel of this yarn is incredible, and to be honest, I just couldn't choose between them. I originally thought the blue mix would be good for my FIL: - he's pretty traditional, but then I remembered that I made him a heathery blue merino pair last year, so I wound off the brown mix for him. I checked with my husband - he knows his father, and this colourway got the go ahead. (It's actually darker and more muted than what appears here, although the splash of turquoise is pretty accurate. Gotta shake things up a bit - I mean, FIL is 84, and you'd never know it. He looks and acts like someone in his 60's, so I keep trying to brighten up his wardrobe. This yarn is so lusciously soft, I could have used the pink, and he may have worn them...
Nah, he wouldn't. There are limits to everything, I guess

Thursday, July 10, 2008

new yarn

I bought new yarn on Tuesday. We had a Guild meeting, and we hold our meetings, as you know, in a wool shop. Very handy. However, people were conspiring to keep me from buying, (cough*Nancy*cough), by pulling me away from wool and making me discuss things. I thwarted her, however, and managed to drop some cash in exchange for this: Cadenza sock yarn (80% superwash merino, 20% tussah silk). Yum. (And the red is a much richer, deeper, red, not the pink that appears above. The green is pretty close to true.) There may have also been this in my bag: Misti Alpaca sock yarn. Yes, alpaca sock yarn. Yumminess in a skein. 50% baby alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, 10% nylon.

As much as all this is sock yarn, I think it will become woven scarves. The red is perfect for my friend Jennifer, the green, as much as I want to keep it, will go with my Mom's alpaca winter coat, and the alpaca sock, well, as much as my SIL would love it, I may have a tough time giving it away. We'll see.
I may also be planning on going back to the store (tonight!) and buying more alpaca sock - My FIL is lobbying for a super soft sock for Christmas. I may have found the perfect one. And there is a black, grey, cream handpainted colourway - perfect for the guy that only wears black, brown, grey, blue, and maybe dark green. Maybe. And I know my MIL will hand wash them - she always does.
I had a little issue with the woven black silk and bamboo scarf. It seems the 20" width I was working on was eating up the yarn faster than I wanted. So I unwove (de-wove??) what I had done, cut some of the warp threads to make it close to 12-14" and started again. I think this will be better, since I want it at least 5 feet long.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

the testing is over...

...and I'm ready to start weaving real things! Plus, I've discovered that warping is not that bad when you follow the directions instead of just forging ahead because "really, how hard can it be??"

I started with the black 2/10 bamboo, and made a warp about 20 inches wide by about 6 feet long. I figure this will give me the most bang for my buck with the two skeins of Silk Disco Lights that I have.

Monday night I warped the loom, in between dinner prep, and getting my boy to and from his soccer game, along with cheering them on. (and yes, the other parents now expect my knitting, although I had one Mom last night who hadn't been there yet, so she gave me the "what are you doing? speech. But she did seem interested.) As I said, now that I sort of know what I'm doing, the warping went pretty quick. I wrapped the Silk Disco Lights around the shuttle, and was off.
I am really loving the way this is turning out. The sequins add just the right amount of sparkle, because, if you know me, I'm not much for a lot of sparkle. The silk is thick enough to fill the spaces between the thinner bamboo, and once it's off the loom, and isn't under all that tension, I think the fabric will be lovely and drapey.

Deirdre asked if I had bought any other heddles, the ones with the smaller holes. Not yet. I think I may end up doing this, because I love the way lace weight yarns weave through it, and the heddle I have may be a little too big for some of the lace weights. We'll see. Last night at our Guild meeting Ann brought in some of her weaving. She had a 36" floor loom and a 48" floor loom. Holy Crap, does she do some nice work! She had the most beautiful baby blankets, silk scarves and table runners. SHe gave me a bunch of tips and help, just in a quick conversation. I know I will be picking her brain in the future. I can only aspire to waht she is creating...

And Carol wondered what time I went to bed if I was up at 5:30am. Unfortunately, not early enough to make up for the early morning! I usually get to bed around 10:30 or 11:00, which is pretty early for me, considering my past life, but I always read, so it could be midnight some nights. And yes, I make up for it on weekends where I can. I guess I do consider myself sleep deprived, but my life is pretty full, and I seem to be making my way through it in only a little bit of a fog, so I guess I'm alright so far. I haven't fallen asleep at work or while driving, so I think I'm managing.

I'm knitting. The socks are coming along nicely, although I think I may put aside the second Regia Galaxy for a while. It's not really slated for anyone, and I want to get some Christmas gifts going, so I may pick up some other socks to get going on. The copper lace shawl is growing slowly - with almost 400 stitches on each row, it takes time, But the lace pattern is very intuitive, so it doesn't have to wait for periods of intense concentration. I have Kauni all set to go, but if I want an all over pattern, I'm going to be short a ball, and the rainbow colourway is pretty much sold out. I could pattern it only on the yoke and bottom, allowing me to save yarn, but will I like it as much? I think, since I am making a top down raglan, I will start it, do the pattern (a Celtic Knot pattern I found), and decide if I like it enought to do an all over pattern, in which case I will order more yarn.

(You know I'm just going to order more any way, don't you. I think a woven scarf in this colourway with any leftovers would be smashing...)

Monday, July 07, 2008

the best weekend...

Last minute decision to go to the cottage. We had something planned for Sunday that would have kept us in the city, but after looking at the forecast for the weekend, we cancelled those plans and headed north. An added bonus was grabbing our nephew (same age as our son) and taking him along - his older brother had a baseball tournament all weekend, so the family wasn't going. The boys had a blast. Swimming, tubing, just hanging out. It makes it easier on us as well, as they really do entertain themselves, with minimum supervision.

And, the real bonus of the weekend - wild blueberries! We haven't seen berries like this back in the bush for years, so we took advantage, and had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, blueberries mixed with Ontario strawberries for dessert, and brought some home as well - I see muffins being baked shortly.

The boys were all over the picking, and went out three times - slave labour at its best! (the bug shirts were lifesavers).

We played with our new toy - a remote controlled fishing boat. Yes, I live with a family of fishermen, both rod and reel, and fly fishing, but most of the time, they had this little remote controlled thing zooming around the bay! As you can see, it works remarkably well. It even caught a fish that was then swallowed by another fish before we could get to itYou can see the tail of the fish that was eaten by the bigger one here. Surprisingly, both survived the ordeal, and once released, went swimming happily away! (We are big believers in the catch and release type of fishing - sustain the environment as much as you can).

My son also gave his new fishing rod it's inaugural test, and pulled in 12 fish in one session! That's the definition of a happy boy.

There was some knitting done - mostly work on a sock, but nothing of note. It was so hot that knitting seemed like too much effort, so I read instead.

All in all, a great weekend, and I hope to repeat it starting next Friday night...

Friday, July 04, 2008

knitting update

I've completed one pair of socks, and I like them so much, I think I will make another pair exactly the same...

(sorry for the blurriness - I'm not that cognizant of these things at 5:30am. (And on a personal note - I don't like the fact that I see 5:30 twice a day.))

On the left is a hand dyed, incredibly soft yarn from my friend Elizabeth Fallone - not just a talented dyer - you should check out her patterns as well. My father in law is eyeing these...

On the right is another pair of the Regia Galaxy socks - Regia is a good, workhorse sock yarn - dependable, hard wearing, but to be honest, when I knit this at the same time as Elizabeth's (or other hand dyed yarns), it feels noticeably rougher. No matter, they will go into the gift box (once the mate is finished), and someone will enjoy them.

We're looking forward to a great weekend, heading to the cottage tonight, hopefully with one extra person. My nephew is the same age as my son, and the two are best friends. My older nephew has a tournament all weekend, so they were not planning on going to the cottage, so I asked if the younger could come with us - the two boys entertain themselves, and it's so much easier with two. My SIL seems a little anxious about this, so we'll see. Hopefully it's a go. Either way, we're going and looking forward to the 27C (80F) forecasted weather, with a humidex that will make it feel like 35C (95F). Ahhh, no better place to be...

To my American Friends - Happy Independence Day! Hope your Fourth is as great as our First!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

the learning curve continues...

I'm having fun with the loom, and looking around at my stash to see what I can weave up next. I finally got the hang of warping, but it's still the most time consuming part of the process, as well as the least fun. But man, once that's done, the fun begins!

I just did a short test piece with the three colours of Briggs and Little, but I can see this being a nice blanket type fabric - I'm picturing 6-7 foot long stripes, 22" across, sewn together as a nice blanket.

Right now, I've warped some milk chocolate brown and turquoise cotton, and will be weaving the same through it. Hope you like it, Jen!

And once I really feel comfortable with this, I'm going to warp some of the black bamboo I bought, then for the weft, I'm going to use the black silk Disco Lights I bought at the Knitters Frolic. I can see t his being a drapey, quite fluid wrap type scarfy thing (such a technical term...) that I will not give away!

I've also been knitting and have completed a pair of socks, as well as making a ton of progress on my copper lace shawl. The Kauni math continues, and I 'm hoping to get this cast on soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

a day late, but...

Canada Day Graphics
a very happy Nation's birthday to all! Canada Day was yesterday (July 1st), and our company gave us the Monday off instead, so while I had a long weekend, I spent the holiday working. (and working hard! Everyone who was away decided to dump stuff on my desk - all with very short deadlines.) Oh well, stuff got done.
I was feeling patriotic and had made a salad for lunch, with lovely red tomatoes and white bocconcino cheese,or "cheese boobs" as they are known in my family. (Really - what would you call them? And you can't even see the nipple part on these...) I also had the Maple vinaigrette to go over it, and ended up having to pass the recipe to 4 more people after they snagged a taste.
Since the company I work for also makes temporary tattoos, we also felt the need for some patriotic body art. Pretty much everyone had something like this going on yesterday.
My boys (both large and small) were off, and spent the day at the driving range and playing mini golf. What they didn't do is the laundry I had left for them, and dinner. But it's hard to fault them - my husband works some long hours, so for them to have a day to themselves, without me, is pretty rare. So I let them enjoy it. We then enjoyed the Town Fireworks display last night.

But someone still has to do the laundry...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It came!

... and I didn't take any pictures of it arriving. I could have done the whole photo essay - seeing the box by the door... opening it... seeing all the pieces... putting it together... but I didn't.

I did put it together, and thought I would do a test piece, using up some of my Briggs and Little wool stash (I have a LOT!). I should have read the warping instructions, but being me, I just forged ahead - "How tough could it be?" may have even come out of my mouth...

Well, when you don't read the instructions, it can be a little tough. And tangled. But I persevered, and got going.
I didn't have a chance to take this to the cottage with me - it's a little bulky when set up, and space can be a premium in the vehicle, so it was waiting for me when I got home last night. I finished warping it up, ans this morning, started the weaving. The amount you see above is what I accomplished in about 20 minutes before I got dressed and left for work. I like this - I can see a real use for this in my life - it will never replace the knitting - I enjoy that too much, but it will take it's place with the sewing and quilting and other stuff I do.
Now I just have to find a good home for it in my house - it can't just be stuffed into a tote bag like my knitting can...