Wednesday, March 30, 2011

getting the hang of this!

knitting with silk mawata - it seems easy, and really, it is, once you get the hang of it.

Attenuating the silk is still something I need to work at. I can get it pretty even, but since this was my first time, I wasn't sure how fine or thick to stretch it out - I would have hated to get to within an inch of the top of the mitt and find myself out of silk. However, by erring on the side of caution, I think I am going to have extra left over. These mitts are never going to stop wind - they are a little fine for that, but already I can feel how warm they are going to be. Seriously, Stephanie was right - they are like little hand ovens.
I have this colourway (Blue Moon's Dragon's Dance), and another from them (Lagoon), and last week I fell down and hurt my credit card on Etsy and bought a couple more bundles - Once I get them, I'll let you you the details of the Etsy buy, but I want to see them first. Their price was a lot better than Blue Moon's, but I'll wait and see on the quality - one never knows...

(A good hand cream is your best friend while knitting this stuff...)

Going forward, I think I may keep the needle size (3mm), and stitch count (48), since it works for my hands, but when attenuating the silk (thanks, You Tube!!)(the attenuating part starts around 5:00 minutes) I may keep it thicker the create a denser fabric.

(I've already got more done than this shows - the thumb gusset is done,
and they fit snugly, but not tightly. Perfect.)

Either way, I'm in love. Really, really in love with these. They weight nothing, look spectacular, and to my non-knitting extended family that saw them in progress, simply re-confirmed the fact that to them, I'm the weirdest of the weird.

Works for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

not sure I ever showed you these...

I did finish my son's socks - after the road trip to Kingston, I put in the afterthought heels n an evening, that's how simple they are. Robyn was asking if they are difficult, and really, they are not. Not at all. What's nice about them is how you can custom fit a sock to someone after the fact. What's not so nice, is it's hard to do any patterning, as you have to break into the sock at one point to insert the heel. But you can preplan these as well, and insert a row of wast yarn if you know where the heel is going to be.
Considering my son grew two and a half shoe sizes in 2 months*, I wasn't taking the chance of preplanning where the heel went! He could have outgrown them by the time I finished knitting.

*That shoe growth made me the favourite person at SportMart - new school shoes, new regular shoes, new basketball shoes and new track shoes. The kid working that night made a nice commission off us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

bunnies and birds

I live in the suburbs. It may not be a totally urban area, but it's houses, pretty close together withe retail, industrial and commercial areas nearby. I would not in any sense of the word, consider it rural, yet we get flashes of the wildlife that was here first.

Birds walking just outside my door...

Birds at our birdfeeder - they are quite used to us now and don't fly away nearly as much when we come to the door...

Bunnies hopping around near our front door...

And Bunny that likes to sit outside the door and just stare at us when we come or go.

Seriously - he (she?) doesn't move, even when we talk to him (her?), or move around. For four days straight now, he (she?) has been in the same place, right outside the door, near the hedges. Not sure what he's (she's?) waiting for, but it is kind of cute.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Some of you may remember Lucky Canuck's short lived blog, and have heard me mention her here - either as Lucky or Susan. She occasionally guest blogs, or I have highlighted some of her fabulous creations, whether they be crochet, knit, sewing, beading, card making, jewellery... She and I are each other's enablers, and we haunt knitting shows and sales together, and when one finds a new craft, the other usually follows (thanks for the polymer clay jewellery kits, Susan - I cant wait to start them!)
Well, Susan is about to embark on a new journey, and has allowed me to announce it. She's getting married! Susan and G. have known each other a while, and since this is the second time around for each of them, they have gone a little less traditional, and I love it!
Here's the ring:

And here's her words as she described it to me:

The ring, presented last night is 18k matte gold with a green peridot setting. Designed by Eles Designs, Toronto. Completely unorthodox, non-traditional, chosen by me and all my style. I am marrying the best guy in the world for me. Plus, he has a nice craft room waiting for me in his house.

Stay tuned as Susan lets me document the plans - you should see what we have in store for the dress! (I've known about this for a while, and we have had many an intense email discussion about dress, flowers, jewellery, etc.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

round trip to Kingston...

We spent part of the weekend in Kingston, Ontario, home of Queen's University.
My husband and father in law are both Queen's grads, and some very good friends of our (whom he met while at Queen's) were going to be in the city, as one of their kids was getting his Engineering Iron Ring. (This is a very big thing for an engineer).
Since it was the end of March Break, we decided to make it a family trip, and surprise our friends. (we told them we may come down, then said nothing more until we were actually at the hotel and ran into them!)
It was the best way to end March Break - we took the boy around the campus, and at 12 years of age,he has decided that he will continue the tradition and go to Queen's. I haven't even had the chance to show him my alma mater, McMaster University!
We also get "Parents of the Year Award" for taking him to one of the boy's houses in the student ghetto - seriously, this is not a place any child or mother for that fact, should see. I had forgotten how university males live! An introducing the boy to the game of Beer Pong will really endear us to his teacher when she asks what everyone did for March Break... (No, he didn't drink the beer - we did that for him... but he did actually sink the winning shot three times! 12 years old and a legend already...)

But one of the best things about a round trip to Kingston from home is the knitting time it affords. When we left, the boy's socks looked like this:

As of Monday morning, they looked like this:

That's another complete sock and one afterthought heel almost complete and another to do - these should be finished up shortly (due to advance blog writing and delayed posting - probably done by the time you read this!)

We need to take more road trips...

Friday, March 18, 2011

final mitten blank post

Amazing what a little steam can do, isn't it? The left mitt is how it came off the needles, the right one has been steamed and lightly stretched.

There is a big difference to the look and feel of the steamed mitt. It's softer and more pliable now that the kinks have been steamed out. Brenda asked how I knew the fibre would stretch - it wasn't actually the fibre itself (although most natural fibres will stretch and soften with some steaming and blocking).
I purposely made these smaller than I wanted because of the kinks in the wool as it unravelled itself from the dyed blank. I could see in the resulting fabric as I was knitting that it was kind of scrunched up, and when I gently pulled it, the stitches straightened up and stretched a bit. So I knit these to come JUST to the tips of my fingers and thumb, then steamed them and stretched them so they were the size I wanted. It also evened out the stitches, and as I mentioned before, softened up the wool/mohair blend, and made them feel wonderful. I wore them with my green sweater and green Chuck Taylors on the 17th. They were a perfect match. (I also had jeans on, in case anyone thought I went to work in only a sweater and Converse running shoes...)
I really love these. Next time I see Wellington Fibres (Knitter's Frolic, probably) I may just pick up a few more - they would make spectacular gifts.
In case anyone is wondering - I used the mitten pattern that lives in my head, with 2.25mm needles and 64 stitches around. I used a side gusset thumb (I hate those palm placed afterthought, straight across thumbs - seriously - whose hand is shaped that way?)
I knit them both at the same time, using two sets of dpns (I have way more sets of 2.25mm dpns than any sane person needs). I would knit a few rows of one, then the other, since the two strands of wool came off the blank at the same time. This also ensured that the thumbs were exactly the same size and in the same place.
And please note - you don't have to have a mitten pattern that lives in your head to use the mitten blank -Donna of Wellington Fibres will provide you with a mitten pattern when you buy the blank. I used my own because I don't have to look at a pattern that way. It's the same with socks - the pattern is in my head, so as long as that stays intact, I'm good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

so funny...

Comic Strip is Rhymes with Orange - by Hilary B. Price - go check her out...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

mitten blank - done!

I'm at the cottage for a few days (unfortunately, leaving today...) and got a shot of the almost-finished Wellington mittens in the sun, on the deck.
Almost finished, because I forgot my Knit Kit at home and don't have a darning needle here, so there are ends to sew in, and also almost finished, because these need a good soak to smooth out the yarn - when knitting with kinked wool, it makes the resulting fabric have an almost boucle type look. I know these will grow, so I intentionally made them a little short, both in the body and the thumb.
I'm really looking forward to wearing these - the mohair-wool blend is strong, lustrous and wonderfully soft feeling - these will probably be my go-to spring mittens.
As you can see, there is also enough left in the blank to make a headband to match - I plan on lining it with a squishy soft cotton for comfort. Details to come...
Speaking of the cottage - this was the "meeting of the minds" that occurred on the lake out front of our place yesterday. I was out with the kids, then some more kids came over, their parents followed, beer was procured, and we spent about 3 hours out there, chatting, getting caught up and making plans for Easter. If the weather stays like this, Easter may see us in the same spot, only IN the lake - it was that mild...

Monday, March 14, 2011

For My Mom

My Mom turns 79 this month. She's been a widow for 16 years, and in that time, she and I have become closer (I was always a daddy's girl). She taught me to knit when I was about 8, and I knit on and off up until about 7-8 years ago when something in my brain clicked and I became not just someone who knows how to knit, but a KNITTER. (with the required stash, much to my husband's chagrin - I didn't come with all this wool!) I've been able to return the favour, and get my Mom back into knitting as well - she cranks out socks and hats for the grand kids and herself and for charity.

I talked about what I'm making for her birthday (Koigu and Cashmere, mmmmmm...) and I finally finished them, with time to spare. (How strange is that?)
Meet the Cashmere/Koigu Flamingo Fingerless Mittens. They do match (now, but I wanted to show the difference a little steam makes to colourwork.) The mitt on the right is just off the needles. The one on the left has been steamed with my steam iron (with a towel underneath). I steamed it, then while still damp, patted it down, stretching it a touch to even out the stitches. The birds are more even, and the floats on the inside are more even and sit better. The ribbing sits straighter and the thumb is a better fit.

I'm glad my Mom got to me before I made these full mitts - I think the changes I made to the pattern did not translate well to a full mitt, but they are perfect for this incarnation. They're exactly what my Mom would wear - pink and green - they'll match her Florida house perfectly.

I may just have to go down this spring to see them in action...

Friday, March 11, 2011


Yes. I'm a sheep. I see something, fall in love with it, order it, wait for it, get it, and now I have to knit with it.

(mawata silk hankies in 2 colourways from Blue Moon -
Lagoon for me and Dragon Dance for... someone, I'm not sure who yet...)

I admit it. And I don't think I have a problem. I can stop following the herd anytime... really... it's not a problem...

Besides, I'm going to the cottage this afternoon for a few days (the boy and I are extending the weekend into March Break next week), and I'm going to need something to knit. It's not like I have hundreds of projects to choose from!

Oh, wait...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

you've heard of sock blanks...

This is a mitten blank. It's from Wellington Fibres, one of my favourite places. They came to our Guild meeting this month, and on top of the one box of curly locks that I bought (white) and one I ordered (grey), I also picked up this wonderful mitten blank, hand-dyed by Donna. I can't wait to see how it knits up! It's a super soft 50/50 blend of mohair and wool, and I just fell in love with the colours. Donna does some incredible work with dyes - if you are ever in the Elora area, it's a must-see stop.

Monday, March 07, 2011

the mojo returns!

I'm knitting socks again! My father in law will be so happy, especially since these are for him. The finished ones are a Lang Jawoll wool/silk blend, and feels very nice. These are toe-up, and instead of my usual short row heel, I used Wendy's Toe Up Gusset and Heel Flap method. Meh. It's okay, and fits nice (I had my husband try them on), but it's time consuming in that I had to follow the pattern instead of just mindlessly knitting, which is what I like about socks. I know there a re so many great and fabulous sock patterns out there, but I pretty much exclusively knit stockinette socks, toe up. I use it for knitting in tight quarters, or when I can't keep track of rows or patterns, Totally mindless. The new pair at the bottom are for my son. He asked for a pair, and picked this really nice Shi Bui 100% merino superwash. Absolutely yummy to knit with. and I'm following my basic sizing for adults. Seems my baby has gone and done grown up. 12 years old, and he's wearing adult sized socks, his voice has dropped, and he's almost looking me directly in the eye. (and I'm not remarkably short). He'll pass me in height sometime this year, I'm sure of it.
I'm planning on using an afterthought heel. thanks to Needles, I was reminded of this wonderful method of sock heel construction. I've used it before, and have refined it to the point that I'm quite happy with it. Like Needles, I add about 4-6 stitches at the corners to ease some of the tension, and I actually go a little beyond half way around, using more stitches for the heels that a short row heel would usually use, making it cup the heel a bit better.

Friday, March 04, 2011

so cute!

I love knitting for babies. Admittedly, some of the charm lies in the size and speed - this set took under a week - but it's just the fact that babies suit cute knitwear.
I've never met Emma (the mom to be), and will probably never meet her or her soon to be baby. They're in Spain, and we know one another through work. Emma is incredibly helpful to me, so I wanted to do something special. So a sweater and hat, knit in Canada using Fleece Artist (a Canadian wool), seemed right.
Emma's due in July, so we have a bit of time to put a box together from the North American office - this set, some toys and other clothes are the plan. The person in charge of getting the matching jeans and shirt had to wait to see my finished project, so she'll get this soon to go shopping.
 I'm in love with the little bus buttons - and the blue is a perfect match.
No real pattern, just a small top down raglan, garter stitch yoke, stockinette body, garter stitch edgings and button bands.
The hat is a simple stockinette beanie, again no pattern.

I'm pleased with the colouration - the Fleece Artist didn't pool at all on the sweater, and swirled nicely on the hat. Now, pooling doesn't usually bother me, but with gifts, especially for long distance ones, it's nice when things work out, and I don't have to explain what sometimes happens with hand-dyed wool. The whole set took a skein of Fleece Artist merino superwash sock weight - about 350+ metres or so. What a great use for some (rather large) stash of sock yarn. (although, the sock mojo is returning!)

Now if only more people I know would start having more babies...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

fun with paper

Because I can't seem to just stick with one craft or pastime, I ordered a bunch of quilling paper to make Moravian Stars. (i have the wonderful notion of doing my Christmas Tree every year in a completely handmade theme - I can dream big...)
I love the stars - I love making them, looking at them, and planning just what the hell I'm going to do with them.

(Here's a small sample of my collection)

But I couldn't stop there - I found directions for making a basket! Who doesn't need a multicoloured paper basket?
Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? I have no idea what to do with this. Yes, it was kind of fun to make, but not enough so that it justifies actually making it.
I think I need to rein myself in sometimes.

Oh, did I tell you I bought some more beads? I fell in love with this, and really need to make some...