Thursday, April 29, 2010

I just went along for the ride!

Yesterday at lunch, one of the women I work with asked me a knitting question. She's a sometimes knitter, and she was working on a Berrocco pattern (Coppelia) for her daughter. It's a little dress with a cotton tank style top and a novelty yarn (Tutu) skirt. Not my choice of fibre, but adorably cute, especially for a 3 year old. She wasn't happy with the cotton she had for the top part - the colour was off, so she asked me if I thought Michael's would have something. I told her why go to Michael's when Mary's Yarns is just a few minutes away? Since she was unsure of how to get there, I said I'd go with her, just to help. (You can see where this is going, can't you?)

We found her the perfect shade of Cotton Super 10, and the needles she needed, and I believe she also left with another sweater's worth of yarn, but for me, "just helping" looked like this:
Yup. about $100 later, I walked out with some Punta Yarn 100% merino in this lovely pale pink and brown combo. This is for my Mom - I plan a very simple triangular scarf/shawl. Mom adores pink, and had a great brown coat, so I can see this for Christmas.
Then I saw the ShiBui sock yarn - a sock yarn I didn't have and have never knit with. Well, I had to rectify that situation, didn't I? These may be for my husband...
Then, back on the Christmas gift line of thinking - I thought about a couple of 198 yds of Heaven scarves for some of the women in my family. Punta yarns - kid mohair with some nylon, in these wonderful earthy tones: And then this Sandesgarn Palett blue (that also had some wonderful shades of green hidden down deep). This will either be two scarves, or probably just a bigger one.

I also grabbed the summer Interweave - there's a couple of things in there that caught my eye...

I'm very lucky - Needles and Knits is just up the street from my house, and Mary's is a short drive from my office. Is it any wonder I have a room full of wool?

See how helpful I can be if you take me to a yarn store?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

someone's having a contest... (but it isn't me...)

Opal's got a new home, and she's having a contest!

Seriously, a knitter/crafter in Hawaii? How cool is that?

And her beadwork? (Swoon). As a half-assed wanna-be beader myself, talk about inspiration! (but you'll have to check her old site to see most of it...)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've waited three years...

...for this rhododendron to blossom, and finally, I've been rewarded!
I've got a spot for another one, so I think I'll be off to the garden centre soon - I'm thinking a white one near the front door...

This past weekend was a garden work one - clearing out the detritus, and getting the boy's garden in shape for planting. If you ask him, he says "Dad grows grass, Mom grows flowers, I grow food". And he does. We get a good crop of green and yellow beans every year, and are hoping for a better crop of carrots this year - we've added sand to lighten up the soil in the carrot patch. There are peas planted with a trellis set up, some mesclun seeds sown, and we get so little sun in our yarn (tall cedar hedges make it more of a shade garden adventure), that we decided to sacrifice this patch of day lilies for a tomato / pepper patch. Two bushels worth of orange day lilies were dug up (they've already been claimed - 1 bushel for some people at work, another is going to the cottage for some fill in planting...)

And this guy was hanging around us, chirping quite loudly. Me thinks there is a nest nearby - there were a few dive bomb attempts as we dug and worked.

The deck also gets pots planted with fresh herbs (a necessity for me and summer cooking...)

There was also some moving of fridges (old one out, newer old one in), some kitchen cabinet cleaning (expiry dates checked, stuff chucked), and some getting together with friends.

All in all, a good one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

argh! (and, cool!)

The argh! part:
My local Fabricland is closing. Okay, I know it didn't have the best fabrics, but it had some good ones, and it was 2 blocks from my house, so it was easy to pick up thread or a zipper or other necessities when I needed them. (I didn't know they were closing - I must have missed that - I went in Sunday to look for something and found bare walls, and fabrics stacked on tables. I have a week left to clear them out of whatever I can...)
The cool! part:
What I went in to look for was some outdoor solar fabric. I'm making a hammock for the cottage - I had originally thought of weaving a rope one (I had the kit and everything, but weaving it is a HUGE pain, and those rope ones aren't really the most comfortable, and my husband was eying the polypropylene rope, so I decided to make a fabric one.) I needed outdoor solar fabric because well, it's going outdoors and I wanted the fabric that wouldn't break down in sunlight. The rope parts that will attach the spreader bars to the trees are done, and in dark green polypropylene, so I was thinking about a green fabric. Which I found. Green outdoor solar fabric, regular price $22/metre, on sale for $4/metre. There was a 100 odd dollar saving right there! Very cool. However, all the thread and polyester batting I wanted was gone (sent to another store), but patterns were 2 for a $1, so I stocked up on a few. And may go back for more. Unfortunately, there's no rhyme or reason to the pattern sorting, so one really has to just dig through and hope that 1. one finds what one likes, and 2. it's the right size.

Then there was the funny part. The lady at the check out - her greetings and goodbyes to customers obviously have been ingrained for too long. As she checked people out, her parting comment each time was "Come again soon!"

Ummm, to what?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

my next project

I'm still working on the green Rowan sweater, and I plan on finishing it before I start something new, but you know what they say about the best laid plans...

My next project is for a friend of mine. Sue is one of my best friends -we used to curl together, I saw her through the (far too early) death of her husband, watched her rebuild her life after that, and we've become even better friends as we get older. She's Aunt Soupy to our son, and the person we have decided will step into my life if anything happens to me - she's the only one I'd trust with both my boys - and my husband is okay with this. Many people think she and my husband are having an affair, and I'm either the stupidest wife on the planet, or the most tolerant! (when we all curled at the same club, Husband and Sue would be together, and there would be a legion of people working to keep me from joining them, and "finding out". It was pretty funny...)
Anyway, she's a great friend, and I like to do stuff for her (she does thoughtful things for me constantly.) Best of all, she appreciates the hand knits like no one else. She had dark hair, and the colouring that goes with it and she looks spectacular in red. So a red sweater it is. Elizabeth Zimmerman's Green Sweater as a matter of fact. The tailored lines are perfect for her, and the red will be smashing. I'm on the hunt for the perfect buttons - I'm thinking a natural bone, or perhaps a stunning metal. Maybe pewter clasps. We'll see. I'll know them when I see them.

So in making all these decisions, I decided to order the yarn from Briggs and Little, where the original yarn EZ used was made. While perusing their site and colour cards, not only did the red jump out at me, but some wonderful cream and well as a heathery denim blue decided they needed to become this sweater as well. (The cream for me, and the blue for well, probably me. Or my Mom. or, probably me.)

I email Briggs and Little, then call them with my credit card number (not something I put out over the Internet via email). They are the best to deal with. Then I wait. and wait. I'm not that concerned, because I was happily knitting on the green Rowan sweater, and to be honest, not having the new yarn distracting me was a good thing. But as week three was coming to a close, I decide to check with B&L as to where my order was. Crystal at B&L got back to me immediately with a trace, seems she made a bit of a typo on my address, and Canada Post was holding the package at a postal station as undeliverable.

Want to know the typo? Not the postal code - that was correct. Not the city -she got that right. She got the house number and street name correct as well. BUT... it seems she typed DRESCENT instead of CRESCENT. Yup, doing that, while getting the rest of the address correct is enough to flabbergast Canada Post, and declare this UNDELIVERABLE! Geez. And wait, it gets better. I get a phone call on SUNDAY from Canada Post, checking into my complaint. (Actually, it was Briggs & Little that made the complaint, not me). This guy is trying to understand the problem. (As was I.) We spend about a half hour on this, I'm explaining what I know, he's disputing that it would happen that way, then he finally just declares that she had the incorrect postal code, and that's why it didn't get delivered. It should arrive Monday or Tuesday, and he would be sure to call me on Tuesday to make sure of delivery. Fine. The package arrived Tuesday, (with the CORRECT POSTAL CODE, by the way - someone at Canada Post scribbled over it and hand wrote the postal code of the postal station in Mississauga instead). (The follow up phone call eventually did come, but he was rude, and I had no interest in continuing the debate over what happened, so it was short.)

Then I open it, and...
Crap! There's only one skein of red! I look at the packing slip - 6 cream, 6 blue, 1 red. Really? I only ordered 1 skein of the red? Geez, I'm an idiot. So I check the email I sent. Oh. Seems I'm not an idiot - I did order 6 skeins of red. I send a quick email to Crystal at Briggs and Little with the question, and get an immedate reply - "SO SORRY!" She had mistakenly ordered only 1 of the red for me. She was getting the remaining 5 in the mail (matching the dye lot, and OF COURSE, NO SHIPPING CHARGE...
You know, good customer service is not always about getting it perfect. Good customer service is recognizing an issue, and addressing it in a timely manner.No trying to justify it, or make excuses - just, "We'll get that right out to you".
And they did. Canada Post could take some lessons here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

second verse, same as the first...

start of the second sleeve. Yup, nothing but thrilling stuff here...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

more sleeves...

Yes, the sleeves continue. Unfortunately, they aren't interesting, but it's all I've got at the moment.

Scary to think that this is the most exciting part of my life at the moment... (or at least the most exciting of the parts I'm willing to share...)
I do live a pretty full life, but I can't share work related stuff (I have no interest in getting Dooced), and I keep my family mostly anonymous, so while I do share quite a bit, there's nothing all that interesting happening right now. No family dramas, even. (Could be because I just haven't made much of an effort to be in contact with most of the in-laws.) My Mom is in Florida, and my brother and nephew are stuck in Europe - they went over for my nephew to play hockey in Iceland, Slovakia, German and France. Nice timing. Hopefully they're back later this week, but really, being stuck in Paris? Not so much of a hardship. And yeah, my 13 year old nephew was asked to play hockey in Europe. He's kinda good...
As far as the sleeves go - what you see above is 1 ball of the Rowan Yorkshire Tweed, knitted up as a top-down, set-in sleeve. (Have I mentioned how much I love this technique? I'm not sure I've mentioned it. It's brilliant, and I may have changed my opinion of raglans as my favourite sleeve. So, just in case I haven't mentioned it, I love this technique...)
I have a little more than 3 more balls of wool, which is perfect. 2 balls per sleeve, then the left overs for the front button band and neckline finishing. I started the short rowing on the other sleeve before finishing this one, as I wanted to do the short rowing while I still remembered any changes I made to the pattern on the first sleeve. (I like my sleeves to match). Then I'll finish both sleeves in the plain stockinette, with the turned hem same as the body.
I'm hoping to find some other knitting of interest to show, as watching sleeves grow inch by inch is the knitter's equivalent of watching paint dry.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the continuation of sleeves...

Sleeves are not interesting. The problem of blogging about a sweater is that once you get to the sleeves, it's boring. Especially the second sleeve, and I'm not even there yet! I'll have to come up with filler to keep my 6 or 7 readers interested through the sleeves.

However, these sleeves are cool. It's the first time I've done a set in sleeve this way, and it won't be the last. I love the fact that they are knit from the top town, with no seaming. The short rowing is brilliant, and it just flows nicely without a potentially wonky seam. Also, adding the sleeve has changed the silhouette of the sweater a bit, making look more like something I would wear.

Once the sleeves are done, I just have to knit the front button bands (two really small ones in the short V area), and pick up and knit around the neckline. Then I'll have a nice wool sweater n time for summer... Oh well. Considering wool is my first choice of fibre, I guess this is going to happen. As much as I love my cotton/viscose cardigan, It's not my favourite fibre to knit with - I prefer the elasticity of wool. Next up after this Rowan one, will be Elizabeth Zimmerman's Green Sweater, only Red. Once I get the remaining 5 skeins of Red yarn from Briggs and Little. But that's a post for another day...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

hem? done. sleeves? started

I've hemmed the Rowan sweater, and I steamed it a bit to even it out and lay it flat. I love the way it looks - nice and finished.

Even the inside looks good.I've started the sleeves as well. Because my armhole length was larger than the pattern said. (I will say that I kind of like the pattern. I think a newer knitter would have some issues with some of the assumptions that are made and not really described. But I digress...) I picked up the stitches on both armholes to ensure that I had the same number of stitches in the same places - this is important because of the short row shaping that occurs - you want the increases to be the same for both sleeves.I do love how the short rowing allows a set in sleeve to be worked top down, without having to seam it into place.

One thing about ribbed or partially ribbed sweaters - they are not attractive when laying flat. And they make one question oneself as to why one would actually make something that looks like this.

But... I did try it on, and it looks better on than it does lying here. But I'm holding off on a final endorsement until it's done, steamed and being worn. Then we'll see...

Monday, April 12, 2010

lost time

I lost a ton of knitting time this weekend. It was for a good cause, however:
We finally got the promised net for the boy's birthday back in February. (You'd be surprised at how scarce these things are in February - we had to wait for them to get in stock). Husband started the construction, and I asked if he needed help. I got the typical male response "Nah, how hard can it be?"
Well, when the instruction book lists "two competent adults" under the Required Items, they weren't kidding, (and no jokes about the "competent" part - we already made them to each other...), and it didn't take long for him to enlist my aid.
This thing took a couple of hours out of my day, but it was worth it when the boy returned from a friends, and saw it in place. The ball came out, shots were taken, fun was had, and plans were made for a gang to descend on my driveway tonight. It's all good.
However, it put a dent into finishing the hem of the Rowan sweater. I decided to do a sewn hem, rather than the rolled hem shown in the book. It looks better (in my opinion), but it takes longer. I'll try to take pictures tonight, if there is enough of the hem done to make it worthwhile.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Susan's having cotton issues!

Susan (formerly blogging as LuckyCanuck, now sadly defunct) and I keep up an email exchange, often having a conversation that lasts a day or more. We start out on a particular subject, and it often morphs into something else. We mostly discuss projects - knitting, crochet, beading, papercrafting.

This week's main subject was Susan's Epic Fail on a crochet bikini project. (And No, she does not swim in them - get those saggy butt images out of your minds...)

She had a pattern that suggested Paton's Grace, and had a stash of Grace, so... it seemed like the right thing to do. Well, no. It wasn't. I got a play by play (anything in italics is Susan's):

I spent my weekend yup - crocheting said bikini. I am almost done, just
doing the ties. I have to admit, it looks pretty good and was a lot of fun
to make ... Crocheted with orange Paton's Grace, still have to sew in the running
stitches of the elastic thread. The Grace is a nice yarn, so glossy, but my hands got tired due to the inflexible cotton.

All sorts of comments on Ravelry about whether to wear the bikini in the
water. I say, stretch cotton or not, just don't do it. Don't take the
chance and have your lady bits on display for all to see. ... my opinion is firm - no way for two piece anything belonging in the water, in my opinion.

then, the next day:

Crocheting this Paton's Grace has reminded me of one thing. 100% cotton
sucks. Finished said bathing suit, but I don't like the feel. It's like a
board. Wasted yarn, couldn't be bothered to rip it out. Today was garbage day. Guess where it went.

From one day to the next, she went from loving it, to tossing it in the trash!

I suspect no amount of washing will help that cotton. Too late - it's on
its way to landfill by now! I still have a couple of balls left. Who knows
what I'll end up making with it. That will definitely sit in the stash for40 more years. Too bad, it's a nice yarn.

Which leads me to a question - if you finished a project and hated it, would you save the yarn? or just toss the whole thing? I'm like Susan - unless the yarn was very dear or lovely, the whole thing is gone. I know I ripped out the ridiculously ugly brown and blue Romulan sweater, but I thought I could do something better with the yarn. I couldn't, and it's gone. (I sent it to Goodwill, only because other stuff was going - otherwise it would have been landfill. I understand frugality, and practice it within reason (I'm always on the lookout for a bargain!) but really, there are limits. Like all the acrylic crap I somehow accumulated - gone. Some to the school for craft projects, and the rest to Goodwill. Why knit with stuff you don't enjoy, isn't comfortable to wear, and won't hold it's shape? I admit there are places for it, but even for babies, give me a soft cotton or superwash wool. Yeah, it costs more, but aren't babies worth it? (Not to mention some adults...) Susan and I have this conversation often - we are both firmly in the natural fibre camp - synthetics have their place (some blends are good, especially for socks) - but the largest percentage of fibre in a yarn has to be natural for me.

What would you do?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

she needed a severe talking to...

My Mother-in-Law, that is.

she was telling me that when "the girls" came over for bridge at the condo, she gave them a tour, showing them some new furniture. She told me she had taken the pink cashmere shawl OUT OF STORAGE, to drape across the bed so the ladies could see it and admire it.

that's where the talking to came into play. I can appreciate her wanting to show it off - that's pretty cool that she likes it so much, she wants to show it off. The problem is that she had to take it out of storage! "What the hell was it doing in storage?" I asked.

"Well, it's too good to just wear around - I only keep it for 'good' " she said.

Am I the only knitter offended by this? I made it for her to WEAR, not to pack away, and I told her so. I said if she was going to pack it away, then I wanted it back, and I'd loan it to her for viewing purposes only. I then got my FIL involved, and told him to make sure she wore it, and wore it often. She could scrunch it around her neck as a scarf, or drape it as a shawl, but if I found out it was being packed away, I was coming down to get it, and worse, HIS supply of hand knits would stop. That got my FIL's attention, he who loves the handknit socks. I could hear him tell her to "wear the shawl or I don't get any more socks!"

I bet she starts wearing it...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

records were broken...

Okay, I know weather records were broken, but we broke a few of our own at the cottage this past weekend.

Earliest date for swimming - April 2. (beating out April 10 from a few years back)
Most kids in the water at once for the first swim of the year - 7. Beat last year's 5 kids on the May 24 weekend.
(although not shown here, there was head dunking!) They were crazy - there was ice on the lake on Wednesday, and this was Friday - the water temp was less than 10 degrees above freezing! No parents went in, I can guarantee that...

Finest Easter weekend spent at the cottage that we can remember. We arrived on Thursday night, and were able to unpack the truck in shirtsleeves. No need for a fire to take the chill out of the air inside the cottage, rather, we had to open windows to relieve the stuffiness. Friday morning, the kids started arriving at the door. We have a great group of kids on our bay - anywhere from 5 to 10 kids are all within walking/boating /shouting distance of one another, and they gather in a great horde that moves from cottage to cottage, leaving a trail of crumbs, and food wrappers left behind. I fed them lunch one day, and other moms handled the other days. Snacks happened at odd times, wherever they were.

We also had our annual Easter egg hunt - sending the horde out with a compass, and specific instructions as to direction and number of paces to take, as well as some landmarks to help them. 90 minutes later, they arrived back with all the chocolate and other stuff that we hid. Some new parents to this tradition were a bit surprised at the extent we go to, but they don't know my husband. He may have just turned 51, but he's really about 12 years old, and loves doing stuff like this for the kids. (okay, so do I...)

There was food galore, including a turkey on Saturday, which translated into soup last night. My in-laws love soup, as does my son's daycare provider, so I always have willing recipients.

There was a ton of knitting done on my Rowan sweater (I'm still refusing to call it Slinky Ribs). I will finish the body soon, but when I tried picking up the stitches for the sleeve opening, I had a small crisis. My sleeve opening is larger than the number of stitches required for the size I'm making. So I put the body stitches on a thread and tried it on - whew. The armhole is the perfect size, so I will just adjust the number of stitches they call for to make it work. the sleeve caps are knitted down, using short rows, so I want to ensure the picked up stitches are perfect - there's no seam to hide the imperfections!

This is definitely a yarn that will benefit from a good soaking and light blocking. It's quite rustic, and so the stitches appear uneven and rough. I love how a good soak evens everything up. The yarn is a more lime-y green than it appears here - it's a tough colour to get right - even with natural, indirect light, it looks washed out.