Friday, May 30, 2008

Is it ME?? or Is It Chilly Outside???

Just a little greenery to cheer everyone up. No flowers, no pollen, no fruiting bodies, Just green. I couldn't keep anything alive in this coconut fibre lined basket so I planted a hen & chicks with a little Sedum to keep her company a few years ago. Since then, the Sedum has crawled into everything & Mom has repopulated the whole back yard! They never die. You can't over or under water them. They survive flood, snow, hail storm, heat wave & wind storm. This one hangs in her basket under the stairs, beside the door to my basement suite, next to the wind chimes. She's a great place to lay my socks when I shoot them.

I've been coughing up half a lung in the mornings lately - nope, ain't a smoker - I suspect it's probably a combination of allergies, new BP meds, dust mites, mold & the new yarn I've been playing with. I notice my nose runs, I sneeze a lot & wheeze when I'm knitting with the Kauni yarn. It has a lovely blend of colors but it's a little rustic & puts tiny fibres into the air as you work with it. I have the same problem with other "rustic" yarns, linen, hemp, some dyes too, anything over processed or plant based except for cottons. No problems with fleece, silks, minimally processed or smooth yarns. Kind of weird, eh?? Remember Phentex??? My nose seizes up at the memory . . .And Yeah, I was the kid, with hay fever so bad my eyes were almost closed, who insisted on driving the haymow anyway because I loved the smell . . .
So, I've been working on the infamous Baby Surprise Jacket
ned by EZ herself. What a neat bit of architecture it is! What a pain in the *#% it's been! Stupid me, I didn't look closely enough at the yarn before I began. It's a little thick & thin in places which doesn't look so good when you're striving for perfection in the wrong needle size! I started off with my 3.75mm Denise needles - just because I love them. Didn't like the overall texture - I had thin spots which I didn't like very much. So I frogged it. And went down a size or two to 3.25mm needles - liked it much better overall. Was almost to the neck shaping & contemplating adding a hood to it when I realized one of my increase rows looked odd. Bloody hell!! I'd moved over a stitch when I did increases on one side so I frogged it back almost halfway . . . . . So, now it's straightened out & I'm carefully making my way back to the neck. Grrrrrrrr . . . . .

And I'm finally on the last ball of handspun for Danish Working Shawl!! Looking forward to the end & finally being able to wear it! I love the color and the texture. I really like the yarn I spun out of the ovoid mill ends from The Sheep Shed. This wool is NOT over processed. It's smooth, silky & just spins itself. After washing, the yarn is springy with a spongey feel that makes you want to wrap yourself up in it like a big hug. I think I'd love a garter stitch jacket in this wool.

And waddayuknow??? Not a sock to be seen. Nothing on the sock needles! Nadda. Zilch. Zip. Not even a baby sock. It must be the end of the world.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring has Finally Sprung

My Clematis is trying very hard to make up for lost time. Since the weather's been so cold, it hasn't put on the early spring show of flashy flowers it normally does but as you can see, the big, fat, furry buds are just bursting out all over!! The bud in the middle is an inch & a half long . . . .
Now, if the weather stays warm, it should look like the picture on the left which is from last year!

I've been trying to learn the Twisted German Cast-On. I've watched the movies on YouTube. I've watched several animated examples. Do you think I can do it?? NO! I'm missing something in the translation & my attempt is NOT working. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. And I'm frustrated. I decided I want a stretchier top on my socks - especially those I'm knitting for the BT's dad who's a diabetic. Since his ankles sometimes swell, he needs a little more room - just in case. And I can't figure out how to do this technique!! I suppose I'll have to dig out the Queen's Crazy Heels & Toes book & see if SHE has a stretchier cast-on.

Haven't started any socks this week but I did finish the Gluttony socks - my way. I tried my best to overlap & alternate the colors for a couple of inches so they flowed a little better. I really like the result & I learned about sock yarn that I'd never have used. I think there's just enough left-overs to knit a pair of newborn socks for the Afghan project too. I really enjoyed getting the first Deadly Sins package - I can't wait for the second one which is already in the mail!!!

I offered to knit the Baby Surprise Sweater last week. It's in the Kauni yarn now carried by my LYS, Knitopia, in Langley. The yarn comes in 150 gm balls which are varregated & it's not easy to tell what colors are hidden in the ball!! Since I knit from the centre, I started off with yellow which gradually turned to green - I have no idea what other colors are in there but the outer most color is a rich burnt sienna. I guess the adventure is in the knitting!! LOL The Baby Surprise Sweater is an easy knit as long as you keep track of where you are. I'm knitting this one on 3.75mm or US 5 circs to get the gauge of 6 stitches to the inch. And, I'm using my Denise needles again. I love the Denise needles!! I love the way I can just pop off the end, attach another piece of cable & pop the end back on. My hands appreciate the lightness of them too.

Still working on my Danish Working Shawl. I thought I'd use up ALL the splotchy dyed yarn & make it a bit bigger so I have one ball & a bit left to go. I figure I might as well use all the yarn since I'll never be able to match the dye job again! If I get the time to knit this week, I may even finish it off.
And then, I have plans to finish my Arvik sweater at last. Poor Arvik. It's been pulled apart at least twice but I do believe I've figured out exactly what I want this time. It's still TOP DOWN using the Legal Loopholes shaping for the raglans but I want to curve the front neck around more like a crew neck than drop it straight down from the LL Henley type shaping. I'm too big in the bust for the straight drop & the sweater always works its way to the outside rather than hang with a more closed look. This only emphasizes my already large bust!!
Did I mention that I bought La
dybug buttons for it?? I thought the red bug buttons would look great on the shades-of-grey sweater & aren't they FUN????

Sunday, May 11, 2008


What is it about BLACK that sucks the cat hair out of the air??
And you don't even have to have a cat. I'm not stupid, I know all about clothes brushes - oh, I've got the one with the sticky tape that you peel off & I've got one with a sticky surface that you rinse off. I've even got a folding sticky brush in the car for all the hair that attacks as you try to get from
the house to the car!! Nothing really works. Not in the 'burbs anyway . . . I'm thinking black is the color of the city - I'll bet smog & air conditioning clean the cat hair out of the air so those people can wear it. I suspect the kids who love black sleep all day & go out at nite do it to avoid the hair that sticks to their clothes! And what is the point of this ranting?? I bought three pairs of pants on sale last year that I can't wear because they literally suck cat hair right out of the air! They have hair & I've never had them on!!!!
And people ask me why I wear sweats!!

Knitting content??? Well, I have been busy this week but not too busy to knit. I've made a lot of progress on my Gluttony socks & I'm about to start the toe shaping. I decided if I have to reknit them, I'm gonna do it MY WAY. I didn't bother with a pattern but I did overlap the colors somewhat so there's no demarkation line where one color ends & the next begins - I think they're really pretty!! As I said before, I'd never have bought this handpainted merino before this Seven Deadly S(p)ins group but I like the result. These socks are mine to wear & enjoy!! I've had notification that the second package is on the way already!! I can't wait.

The Danish Working Shawl is well on it's way too. I've started the second big ball - second skein of four - & this shawl could be HUGE if I used all the yarn! If I had it to do again, I think I'd double the yarn & work with slightly larger needles. But, this one should do just what I wanted it to do & keep me warm without getting in the way of anything. I've never wanted or used a shawl before but I think this will be great to snuggle in especially when I'm sitting outside in the evening & just want something light to wrap around my shoulders. One thing about this shawl - it's given me more ideas about things to knit with handspun. I love the sponginess & springiness of handspun! I love it's softness as I knit. I love the fact that I made this yarn & dyed it myself - GAWD, I sound like a commercial for handspun!

And on to other things - I volunteered to make the Baby Surprise Jacket. Now, this is something I've been eye-balling for a while & I wanted to knit one up from odds & ends of sock yarns to see what everyone's been talking about. I understand there's people out there who churn these things out like a factory. And there's even an adult version too. So, like I've got nothing else to do, I volunteered because it gives me permission to knit when I should be working . . . . . . LOL
So, I had to drop all the other projects & start the Jacket last nite. I found some old Scheepsjwool Luzerne - my old fav in wool & acylic - & cast on. The only real thing I found you have to do with this pattern is remember which side you did the decreases on & exactly where they are. It's not that apparent in the first couple of rows!!! Other than that, it's dead simple!! This might be a great project to pack around when I'm off to drink Tea at Starbucks . . . . .

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back to Knitting & Spinning!!

The paperwork pile has diminished somewhat
although about a dozen of the perpetually late entries are still to show up & the business stuff has only begun. Hopefully all this work will help me buy a NEW portable wheel!
! pant pant I've sent my newer Country Spinner off to be viewed & hopefully purchased, by a newby spinner. It spins anything from silk thread to heavy Cowichan style singles very nicely - it spins much better than the old Mud Valley clone - I would've preferred to use it, BUT, my my old one is too persnicketty to sic on anyone. So, I kept the old one. And I've had it since the early 70s, so we understand each other! And I can still pack it fairly easily to any Spin-In while the other is really hard to get into my little car.

But, I haven't been spinning. I've been knitting! Yes, Gail & Karen, I am actually turning yarn into something useful - well, other than socks. I saw the Danish Working Shawl in the latest issue of Spin off & thought - "That's just what I need!" so, I decided to cast it on the needles that day. I found FOUR balls of my splotch dyed handspun in the end & just started on the second ball - if I use it all, this will be huge. You can really see the color variation here too. Here I've been concerned about having enough yarn to knit up something for myself but with this shawl, I've come to realize that I DON'T need a huge amount. Handspun goes a looooooong way! I noticed that with the Arvik sweater too - when I frogged it, I had three largish balls for the whole sweater. And I knit it with two strands.

Haven't done much on my Gluttony socks other than reknit the ribbing after frogging them as you can see in the picture. But, as I s
aid before, I should've followed my own numbers from the beginning on this one. They won't take much time to reknit, I just wanted to get the shawl going until it's too big to haul around comfortably whereupon it will stay home by the TV & the socks will come visiting with me.

Last nite, my Starbuck's buddies, Steve & Kelly, arrived with a huge pot that someone had abandoned in the
park across from their house. Kelly walks his dog - aka, the Dirty Little Dawg - several times a day in the park which is a semi wild gully park with a salmon spawning creek at the bottom. The boys're always hauling crap out of there. Anyway, they arrived with this huge, heavy pot of BAMBOO. Since I'm not much of a photographer, you don't really get the scale of this pot. The guys figure it weighs about 150 pounds & it took two of them to get it into the truck!!! Now I've been saying for a while that I'm going to get several big tubs & plant bamboo in them as a forest on the side of my patio to keep the kids from cutting thru. So, when the boys saw this, they brought it over to my house. It may take an axe to split it up but I figure we should get at least four big tubs planted! Now, if I wasn't planning on moving this summer, I'd get a big box about 8 feet long & 2 feet wide built & plant the bamboo in that!! I love to hear the wind rustling thru bamboo & grasses. I'm such a fern, vine & grass person . . . . .