31 October 2014

Impressions of Rhinebeck

Of course everyone knows about the knitwear, and the knitwear designers and the hundreds of fibre vendors. What impressed me on this, my first trip to The New York Sheep & Wool Festival, were the less talked-about elements of the fair.

It's CROWDED. One hears about the crowds but we're talking stadium rock festival level crowds. Except here, everyone is pleasant and polite. There are no pushy shoppers, no pointy elbows. Some of the nicest interactions of the day were chats I had in long, long, lineups (for the bathroom, for coffee, for food).

Rhinebeck is also a lovely fall agricultural fair with livestock auctions, sheep shearing and a fleece sale. It reminded me of Toronto's Royal Agricultural Fair, except, being outdoors is a much more pleasant way to view the animals.

This guy really, really wanted to be patted.
The county fairgrounds is also home to a permanent museum which is entirely staffed by volunteers. This is Cal who hosts the hand tools display. He was kind enough to spend twenty minutes chatting with me about domestic life in the not so distant past.

The museum is home to a working loom collection.

Upstate New York is beautiful in the fall. Here are some of my travelling companions heading into downtown Woodstock.

And then I bought yarn.
Mt. Rutsen Studio "Sassy" 80/20 BFL/Nylon
Colorway "Whiskey Rebellion"

29 October 2014

Finishing Other Work


Now that the frenzy of knitting a Rhinebeck Sweater RIGHT NOW is over, I have been able to go back to the projects that were dropped for the cause. Progress goes well on a second sock. That fine lace wrap that's been languishing? Well, it continues so.

I did however, finally get the last six inches of the Darjeeling Shawl border done. It was tight. I had added the pink sock yarn accent to stretch the yardage but still I was convinced that the yarn would run out. In the end, I had about a metre left after casting off. Phew.

This yarn. This yarn! I love it so very much. Not only it is the souvenir of my 2013 trip to VK Live New York, but it has been through such trauma. It's the only skein I saved from the bug episode of last winter. When I opened its bag and saw (sorry) icky eggs, I did what I did with all other infected skeins. I chucked it out the door, onto the fire escape. Yet somehow, I could not bring myself to carry this favourite skein down to the trash. I unwound it and hung it on a plant hook. It hung there exposed to the elements, uncovered, in last winter's arctic temperatures for a week. Then I shook it vigourously and brought it inside for a day long soak in tepid water and Eucalan. After it dried, it was bagged and spent another week in the freezer. Nothing could have survived that. 

Now it is my lovely new shawl. The Rustic fingering weight looks great in garter stitch. And I loved my first experience with a knitted on border. The effect is so pretty and has the the added bonus of no long, long, cast off. Win,win, I say.

23 October 2014

Knitters In the Wild

Well, I have been to my first New York Sheep and Wool Festival. It was overwhelming to say the least. Gorgeous knitwear was absolutely everywhere. I took as many pictures as I could for inspiration. Here are just a few.

That's Thea Coleman of Baby Cocktails on the top left. When I asked if I could photograph her sweater, she introduced herself & insisted on a photo that showed the beautiful collar. 
The pattern is Chartreuse and it will be released soon.
On the bottom right is just one of many Lanesplitters worn that day.


It was perfect shawl weather on Saturday.  So many beautiful yarns and colours!
 I recognized another Knitty pattern! There's Aeolian on the top left done in a beautiful mocha tone. I thought the yarn colour complimented the woman's hair perfectly.

16 October 2014

Sewing On the Buttons!

This puppy is going to be ready in time!

I'd seen several cases on Ravelry where kniitters had foregone the double folded collar. I considered this to be laziness and swore i would do the full collar, seaming and all. However, as I was knitting, I folded the fabric in a few places and found it really was too bulky in this alpaca yarn. So I halved the stitches and am glad I did. The collar/button band sits nicely. It also used half the yarn and took half the time. 

Hopefully I will have some wonderful photos of Rhinebeck and my sweater to share next week.

13 October 2014

Faster Pussycat! Knit! Knit!

Well the pieces are done and are blocking. This evening I'll start the shawl collar and button band. It's a HUGE double folded collar. I suspect that, though simple, it will be time consuming. As one of my fellow travelers points out,  it doesn't actually need to be done until Saturday. I may be finishing in the car on Friday.
These cables are scrumptious.

10 October 2014

Going to Rhinebeck



Here are me and my Rhinebeck Sweater waiting for the bus yesterday. Actually, it's a ball of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the colour Slate, that was soon to become part of my Rhinebeck Sweater. Alas, the bus never came. Hopefully the future of my sweater is brighter.

I am so excited to be attending Rhinebeck for the first time this year. As soon as I accepted the invitation about three weeks ago, I cast on a new sweater. Thankfully I already the yarn and a chosen pattern. This is to be a shawl collared, belted, 70's style cardigan. The knitting, with a few setbacks, has gone well. One of the challenges that slowed me down was the transition on the front panels from the ribbing to the cables. The pattern says "decrease evenly" but that made some cables come awkwardly out of pearl stitches. I wanted them to flow out of the knits and  also to maintain the ribbing along the button edge. The only way to accomplish this was through a combination of increases and decreases to line everything up. Yes, it slowed me down but it was totally worth the effort.

24 September 2014

10 Books

There's an interesting meme going around social media. The idea is to list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. The list is not meant to be great literature - just some books that have had a lasting effect. The instructions state not to think about it too much but of course I've ignored that advice. I think about everything too much. 
The list itself was not particularly difficult to make. A group of about fifteen books came immediately to mind and that was fairly easily whittled down. It's the 'why' of the selection that intrigues me. Of the hundreds of books I have read, why these particular ten? 
After much thought, I decided that there are a couple of factors. 

First is the story. My list contains stories that are compelling from the first to the last word, often featuring a character with whom I am heart-breakingly in love. A group of academic colleagues uncover the unknown depths of a man after his death. A gifted writer and student goes through psychological hell and comes out the other side. A child understands racism for the first time and doing so, sees the heroism of her beloved father.

The second thing that stays with me always is language. My favourite books use language in a way that keeps me coming back to hear it again and again. I love words beautifully and simply used. They echo in my head for days and years. A few of my books make this list largely on one phrase alone:
"My darling, my darling lie down with us now, for you are also earth whom none but love can sow."
"I keep writing here so I will always have something to read."
"There is no such thing as a breakdown."

Some of these books I read more than thirty years ago and one, just last year. I've shared a few of them with my daughter and she loves them as much as I do. All of them remain on my bookshelf and will do so always.

What's Bred in the Bone - Robertson Davies
Famous Last Words - Timothy Findley
The Passion  - Jeanette Winterson
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept - Elizabeth Smart
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien
Safe Houses - Lynne Alexander
The Sonnets - Ted Berrigan

21 August 2014

Grenadine Is Its Name


Pretty, isn't it? I bought it last weekend at LadeeBee when it looked like there would not be enough yarn to finish the lace edge on the shawl pictured in my last post. I knew I'd never find a match so why not make the edge in a whimsically contrasting colour? This hand-dyed coral/pink looks very striking against the wine tones of the shawl. Now however, I have reached the shawl edging and there seems to be quite a bit of the purple left. So I'm giving it a go. The LadeeBee may still be called into service but for now, it is standing by on the swift, gracing the room with its beauty.

20 August 2014

Take Me To the River


Summer is fast coming to a close. Too fast! Somehow there are fewer than 14 days left and I've not done many of the fantastic summery things I had planned to do. Where are all the books I was going to read, projects I was going to knit and photos of amazing outings I was going to take? I've been too busy with other, more intellectual pursuits, such as internet dating and watching SYTYCD clips on YouTube. Oh well.

One of the summer things I love to do is ride along the Humber River trail. Yesterday was the perfect day for it so off I went. The trail itself is not a challenging bike ride; it's the getting there that hurts. Those hills on Bloor Street West are killers! Once there however, it's so peaceful and green.



Naturally, I brought knitting on my bike ride as one does. I had also quite unnecessarily packed my mp3 player. The music of the river was enough. I sat on this bench knitting for almost an hour. The colour of my luscious yarn kept twinkling and changing in the shifting light. There were children playing and chattering on the stones just below. It was kinda perfect.



17 August 2014

See the Pretty Flowers

My friend Sally and I recently went for a walk in the gardens of Spadina House. It was a beautiful summer day and the garden was in full splendour.

The gardens are maintained almost entirely by volunteers. 
The design is traditional kitchen garden. Thus there are vegetables planted in alternating rows, with the flowers - all just a few steps from the kitchen back door for easy picking. The aroma of these ripe cabbages in the sun was fantastic. Later, we saw a goldfinch feasting on insects in the patch.
This, Sally tells me, is a zinnia. Those beetles you see were everywhere.
Sally on a leisurely stroll.
This is the view from the top of the huge staircase that travels up Spadina Hill. Brilliant.