Monday, February 28, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Gnome Edition

You all know my feelings about synthetic fibre - I have a very low tolerance for it. To me, natural fibres just make so much more sense - I'd rather get a little less quantity and produce a better quality product, that settle for something.
So you can understand my issue here:
It's no secret I love my Gnomes. And while the pattern itself called for an all acrylic composition, I always made them from wool - one of my favourites being the rustic Briggs and Little wools. (Not this one, however - this is KnitPicks merino). But the beard always made me pause. How to get that look without resorting to Fun Fur? The above picture actually looks okay, but in real life, the acrylic beards don't do it.
When Helga showed a Gnome she knit for her daughter, she twinged an idea. You see, Helga's tolerance for Fun Fur is even lower than mine. She actually hooked natural wool into the face for a beard - almost like rug hooking. It looked fabulous, and got me thinking. I dug around in the stash for some natural curly locks I knew I had - I needle felted a sheep with them way back. A few minutes with the mohair locks, and a super sharp felting needle, and voila!
Extreme Makeover: Gnome Edition!
So much better! I used up most of what I had left of the curly locks, but that's okay - Wellington Fibres is coming to our Guild tomorrow night, and Donna is bringing me more! I can see some more Gnomes getting a bit of a new look!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

weekend knitting

This past weekend in Ontario was a long one - Family Day was yesterday. What better way to spend Family Day than with my family at our favourite place - the cottage.
There was snowsledding behind the snowmobile with the neighbour girls:

There was much running and sliding on the ice, as well as some ice fishing (the guys, not me). They were shut out - I guess the fish were not at all interested.

And of course, there was knitting.
I made some great progress on my father in laws socks

he has stopped hinting for new ones, and has come right out and started asking for them. A lot. And often. I thought I'd best get on it. It's been so long since I started these, I have no idea of the wool. I know it has some silk content, and it feels quite lovely. I"m using my traditional toe up construction, but instead of a short row heel, I've tried Wendy's toe up gusset heel. It's okay, but I have to follow the directions, instead of just knitting.
There was also progress on my Mom's flamingo mittens.

I'm not fond of the two circular method of knitting in the round, but I couldn't find my 2.5mm dpns, so I went with it. It takes me longer to do it this way, which is why these aren't finished yet.
Another reason they aren't finished is that I keep picking up new projects. Like this baby sweater.
(sorry for the blurriness - not sure why that happened - better shots to come soon...)

(Raised a few eyebrows this weekend when it was discovered I was knitting a baby sweater, and there are no babies in our family or circle of friends). No worries - it's for a co-worker at our parent company in Spain. She's due in July with a boy (her first) and is so excited. She's incredibly helpful to me in getting info and such out of Spain, so I thought I'd knit her up a quick sweater. I truly believe every baby deserves a hand knit out of beautiful wool, and this Fleece Artist is perfect.
(not the best colour represenation - the colours are much richer and saturated - just beautiful shades of blue)

Another skein gifted to me from the wonderful LuckyCanuck. YOu know my feelings about natural fibres - Acrylic + Babies = Icky. Especially when there are so many wonderful superwash wools and cottons out there.

Friday, February 18, 2011

change of plans

So, I'm knitting away on my Mom's birthday gift, the flamingo mittens, when I get a call form her. (This is not a odd event - I talk to my Mom pretty much daily.) She and I are chatting about this, that and the other thing, when she asks what I'm knitting. "Right now, or just in general?" I ask back. "In general", she said. I told her - the usual, an assortment of mittens, socks, some lace stuff and a sweater or two, why?
"Have you ever heard of fingerless mittens?" she asks, "you know, mittens with an open top".
"I'm familiar with the concept, yes." I answer.
"I think I'm going to make myself some. I could really use them when I go back to Florida. They'd be great for riding my bike in the mornings. What do you think?" she says.
"Sure - that would be a great idea. If you can wait until the next time we get together, I've got the perfect wool for you." I answer, trying to stop her from knitting them herself. (I'm her enabler - I give her the good stuff that she seems incapable of buying for herself. It makes me happy to give her nice stuff to knit with).
"Great! I'd like pink and green to match my bike. Do you have anything like that?"

Ummm, I can probably find something that will work...

Perfect timing. I was just getting to the top of the first flamingo mitten. So I've stopped there. I think I can put her off until her birthday next month. I know she's in the middle of socks for the grandchildren, so plenty of time.
(still have to add the thumb to this one...)

Mom taught me the basics of knitting when I was about 8. We both let it slide for years, then I picked it up again a while back, and retaught her about 3 years ago. Gave her good wool and tools, and she's been cranking out socks and hats ever since. When her sister (my Aunt) came down to visit last year, we got her knitting again too. She's now cranking out Aran sweaters for my Uncle!

The song "Circle of Life" from the Lion King is now running through my mind...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

to heck with resolutions...

(originally sent to me via email - origin unknown, or I'd give credit - I'd hate for "anonymous to get on my back again...)This is Gillian McKeith, host of the show “You Are What You Eat” – she’s 51.

I knew I was on the right track...

She is a TV “health guru” advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and ill health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, also makes statements that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and about the utility of lingual and faecal examination.

This is Nigella Lawson, she’s 50.Nigella Lawson **UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS OUT** Nigella Lawson attends the UK premiere of 'Bruno', held at Empire Leicester Square on June 17, 2009 in London, England.

She is a TV chef, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts, washed down with lots of wine.

So the heck with those New Years resolutions!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More ripping!

After the success of ripping out the denim sweater, I went looking for other "not so hot knits" to destroy, um, I mean recycle.
And I found one. I knit Tubey a while ago. I bought the hand-painted autumnal coloured yarn at the Kitchener Knitters Fair way back when - It was a see it, love it - have to have it kind of wool.
(seriously, is this not stunningly beautiful?)

There wasn't a ton of it, so I knew I'd have to match it with something. I had some Elann Peruvian Wool in Red Maple that matched beautifully. In concept, this was a great sweater. The colours matched, the style was good. But... it was just that little bit too short, and worse, I hate wool pullovers. I just don't work in an environment where heavy-ish wool is suitable. Cardigans, yes, absolutely. Pullovers - not really.
So this:

became this:
I realized while rewinding that I must have spit sliced the Elann, because that is one HUGE ball! I also realized that ripping out knitted fabric that was knitted alternating two balls is really a pain in the ass. Really. If wasn't so completely in love with this wool, I may not have done it. But I did, and I'm envisioning a cardigan of sorts, using both these wools. As much as I'd like to use some fair isle type colourwork, there's not enough of it to double up like that, so striping or colourblocking it will be.

Now, I just have to stop myself from dropping everything else and working on this...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

one day project

I was reading blogs the other day (as I am apt to do...) and I came across Tanis' post on the Anthropologie-inspired braided headband.
Timing is everything. I am not a hat person. At least, I am not a winter hat person - I wear baseball and straw cowboy hats in the summer, mostly at the cottage. But I don't like toques. (note that I'm also not stupid - I DO wear them in times of extreme cold and extended outdoor periods.) I made the hood a while back, but I've always been a headband girl - they keep my ears warm and my hair out of my face. I've been doodling around some fair isle patterns, trying to work out a headband using up my bits and bobs of Cascade and Zara, but I haven't really had the time to spend REALLY working it out. Then I see Tanis' braided one, and the brain all of a sudden clicked. (It might have been the sound of the dryer finishing, but there was a click.)

I was working at home of Friday, so in between running spreadsheets, and putting out fires over the phone, I sat at my knitting machine and cranked out a length of stockinette, using a fabulous skein of Fleece Artist, gifted to me by the wonderful LuckyCanuck. (Lengths of stockinette are about all I crank out on my LK-150 - I'm not that fond of using my machine, and in return, it hates me - it likes to drop the edge stitches, and yes, I use the weights and move them often. Whatever).
Then I took an even bigger and most horrible shortcut - I sewed up the tube using my... SEWING MACHINE!! (I wanted this NOW, and mattress stitching takes too long) Obviously, I was totally embarrassed by these actions (or just reaaaaallllllyyyyy lazy, because there is no photographic evidence of the dastardly deeds).
I then braided it, sewed the edges together, and voila - a headband in less than half a day! I love it. I love the colours, the fit, the concept, everything. I'll make more, and play with the proportions - maybe a bit wider (but then I'll need more than one skein).
the colours are actually brighter than they appear here - the green is almost electric in places. It looks great peeking out under my hair.

It keeps my ears warm, which is the main reason, and it's somewhat stylish, in my opinion. Of which value, I am aware - not to worry.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

only in a Canadian Household...

We're not a hockey family. (I know, let the gasps of surprise start...) My son doesn't play (he's a basketball guy), and to be honest, we rarely even skate. In the 20+ years I've known my husband, Ive seen him on skates exactly once. I'm better, but even so, it's been quite a while since I've strapped on the blades. My son doesn't skate that much either.

So with all of this, why does my front hall look like this?

(That would be 2 hockey sticks and a puck amidst the general clutter). There's also a basketball under the black plaid jacket)

Only in Canada...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

easy mittens and my boy's birthday

I have a simple mitten pattern that I can pull out of my head when needed. (I think a lot of knitters have those kinds of patterns, whether they're for a hat, mitts, socks, baby gear...) I can do socks like that as well, but since I had all kinds of Cascade 220 hanging around, left over from other projects, I cast on for some simple mittens.

I decided to add the red thumb stripe, just because I had the ball of red nearby. Now, even though this is my no brain required pattern, I did keep some notes, just so the stripe would match. I had no plans for these, I just figured they would find a home eventually. And it seems they have - My MIL wore them home last night after dinner at our place! Now I should probably cast on the reverse set - red with a blue stripe, since I still have lots of wool left...

And the reason my MIL, FIL and my Mom were at the house for dinner was to celebrate their grandson's 12th birthday. 12 years ago today, my boy came into the world. My baby is now 12! I'm having trouble with that number for some reason. He loved his gift - we gave him new golf clubs - he has outgrown his cut down set, and is really enjoying golf and his lessons in the summer, so this was a good thing. The not so good is that my 12 year old now has nicer clubs than I do! I offered to trade and got the requisite eye roll from him.

Yesterday, for his basketball game, I made some candy melt lollipops for the team. No one should be surprised by the mold I used.

the kids loved them, and I even had a few extra for the referees and coaches.

I really am one of those annoying Martha Stewart like moms...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Wow, epic timing...

I got a comment on yesterday's post from "Anonymous"

It really isn't all about you, you know. Spillyjane gets the credit for the pattern. You should be thanking her.

Wow. I'm pretty sure I thanked Spillyjane. I bought the pattern (and yes, rearranged it to suit me), I thanked her in the original post about them, and mentioned her again here. She sure has a champion in Anonymous, because obviously, that person didn't think it was enough.

Oh, and "Anonymous"?? Thanks. Your timing was epic. You managed to take an incredibly crappy day for me and make it worse. Thanks, I really appreciate that. Especially from someone who doesn't have the balls to identify themselves.

For the record, I adore Spillyjane's patterns. She is very talented.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cashmere and Koigu progress

Nothing against Spillyjane - she writes wonderful mitten patterns, but I'm happy to take her work and rearrange it to suit my own likes. So her pattern became my pattern, and the progress shots are here:

The green Koigu is just slightly tonal, and the pink cashmere pops perfectly against it. The bonus to the colourwork is that there are somewhat longish floats of the pink cashmere, meaning that's what is felt for the most part against the hand while wearing the mitten.

Good thing I adore my Mom - otherwise, I'd be hard pressed to give these up.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

what's old is new again

I love denim cotton sweaters. Especially on men, or to be specific, young men. I made one for my son back when he was younger (around age 6 or 7, I think). I loved it, he loved it, but as time went on, the boy grew. A. Lot. The sweater had faded nicely, and I couldn't let it go. Sooooo.... I didn't. I unraveled it,

and will add this beautifully faded denim to my collection of other denim yarns for another sweater for the boy.
(the bits of red cotton were trashed). The problem is at the rate the boy is growing, if I make it to fit now, I'll be doing this again in a month. Not that I really mind (much.) But considering the queue at the moment, I think I'll be waiting a bit. Plus, he's not that much of a sweater kid right now.
S'okay. It's not like cotton goes bad or anything...