30 December 2014

Another New Year

In a little more than 24 hours a new year will arrive. I guess that means it's time to reflect and write the year end blog post. Recently, going over old posts, I see that I have written less and less about my personal life here. Now, I'm a private person at the best of times but I've been positively silent lately. Perhaps there is some sort of odd inverse relationship at play. It seems the more that is going on, the less I am likely to say.

Much happened in 2014. My daughter moved out on her own. I turned fifty. I lost a job under difficult circumstances resulting in great financial hardship and an uncertain future. I met a man I have grown to love and who loves me; the one who is my person. 

Unexpectedly, the event that should have been the most demoralising, is the one that has been the most empowering. Being wrongly dismissed from my job in a humiliating manner, instead of crushing me, rallied my strength in a way I did not know was possible. With the help of a great non-profit organisation, Worker's Action Centre, I've been fighting this wrong and actually winning some small victories. The support of my daughter, my friends and my wonderful boyfriend has buoyed me, made me feel strong.

Another first in 2014? I knit a scarf for a man! The linen stitch, Sherlock inspired, coat scarf was done in time for Christmas. The full 164 cm was achieved and my fella wears it all the time. It turned out pretty well I think!

I am looking forward to 2015 and all the challenges it may bring. My Freewill Astrology horoscope says this is the year I will "learn more than ever before about what it's like for all the different parts of you to be united". How very exciting! Bring it on.

Happy New Year everyone!

27 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

It has been a wonderful holiday season here so far. There are good people in my life and I have been so fortunate to spend time with many of you over the past several days. 
Happy Holidays to all my friends, those close to home and those I know from afar via the internet.
Peace. Joy.

Notice the photo of my beloved cat Wendell in the upper left. He passed 17 years ago but every Christmas we take time to remember him when we decorate the tree.

17 December 2014

Counting Down

According to Sherlockology, the Season 1 scarf is 164 cm long. Is that with or without fringe I wonder? 
I have about 50 cm of knitting left to attain this goal. With 6 knitting days left until the gift is due and factoring in the average rate of 7 cm knit per hour, plus fringe and blocking...Ahhh!!!!

08 December 2014

Gift Knitting Backlog

It has become painfully obvious that my GAL 2014 participation is likely doomed to failure. Every way I turn, there are bumps in my holiday gift knitting. As I only committed to three items, this is a little depressing.

I always, always, give The Daughter a little knitted something. This year I decided to just re-knit her favourite mittens in a different colour. What could be easier? Yet, somehow, I got the shaping all wrong and much ripping was needed. A loss of precious time was the result.

Then my new beau declared that the gift most likely to warm his holiday heart would be a hand knit scarf from Yours Truly. I tried to explain to him that the ideal scarf he described is really a woven one, but he's a Muggle (a dear one) and didn't really get it. I've decided that a fingering weight linen stitch is most likely to approximate what he wants. Yarn choice and swatching has held me up because I want it to be perfect. The thing is not even cast on yet.

So, the calm days of pub knitting with a pint and a poem are over for now. I shall return to such pursuits in the slower days of january. This little shawl, which seemed like such a good idea, will get finished - just not in time for Christmas.

30 November 2014

Constancy of Stash Level

I finished my latest Broadripple socks and wore them to Thursday night knitting. I've lost count how many times it is that I've knit this pattern. Such a beautiful sock and, at only 56 stitches around, it's a very fast knit.
I enjoyed knitting this BFL Sock so much that I decided I needed another skein of Fleece Artist. Oh it's not like I don't have any more yarn at home. The women at knit night joked that having recently finished a project, I needed to keep my stash level constant. Also, I needed a pick-me-up and this $19.95 yarn is not just beautiful; it's also economical.

I laboured over the choice between 3 or 4 colourways. Then I got it narrowed down to the bottom two. I was drawn to the coral/pink partly because it was Fleece Artist's Kidazzle, a yarn I've not tried before. On top of the wool and nylon, there is a touch of mohair. However, as much as I love trying new things, the bright ocean colours in the upper skein of BFL Sock won over in the end. That's the one I took home.
Unskeined for maximum viewing.

24 November 2014


the slow striptease of our concepts
     -it is even this which builds us, 
for you I would subtract my images
     for the nude truth beneath them

as you, voluptuous, as with mirrors at the loins
     are unclothed piece by piece until
each cloth is slander to your skin and
     nakedness itself is silk across your rising sex

Gwendolyn MacEwen, A Breakfast for Barbarians
The Ryerson press 1966

19 November 2014

A Knitalong Just in Time For the Holidays

I am excited to have joined the Indie Gift-A-Long on Ravelry. I stumbled across it on Laura Chau's blog. She is just one of several hundred indie designers participating. 

What's not to love about this? Support an independent designer, get a 25% discount on patterns and join a fun knitalong that makes you eligible to win great prizes! Love it! As I told Laura, "They had me at prizes." The discount lasts until November 21 if you'd like to take advantage. Use the code giftalong2014 when purchasing any of the eligible patterns.

I had no trouble choosing a pattern. I've decided on Laura's Sagano Shawl. It's unique and sumptuous. The textured daisy stitch makes it look so warm and that's a big plus with the sudden onset of winter we had here in Ontario this week. The yarn I've chosen to use is some Indigo Dragonfly Polwarth Silk that's been in my stash for a while. In fact, I thought of it immediately for this shawl before I even dug it out of the bins. There was a brief hesitation because it's such a large skein - 685 metres - and the pattern (with an extended border) will use 500 at most. However, the colour is perfect for this project. Beauty won out over economy in the end. I'll just have to find a second small project to use up the rest of the yarn.

13 November 2014

Oops, Forgot

It dawns on me that after all that posting about the Rhinebeck Sweater's progress, I never actually posted the end product. It's been up on Ravelry for quite a while now. 
I am very, very delighted with this sweater. It's exactly what I wanted. Warm and cozy. Simple enough to go with everything but not dull. Neutral bit still noticeable. Timeless design. It's definitely a wardrobe staple.
Pattern: #19 Cabled Cardigan by Margaret O'Leary
Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca

Everybody looks better in autumn colours!

10 November 2014

Winter Wool

It's a gray, cold day here and I am home sick. There are three other current projects on which I could be working; all of them light and silky or lacy and pale. Today however, I need to be organic. I need warm earth. So I've been knitting this oh so woolly wool (Blue Faced Leicester to be exact) with its rich autumn colours on warm bamboo needles. I may have just found the cure for the common cold.
Yarn: Fleece Artist BFL Socks
Colour: Kiss Curls
Pattern: Broadripple by Rob Matyska,  Knitty Summer 2003

07 November 2014

A Gratitude Post

I posted this earlier on Facebook today and am re-printing it here because I am feeling uncharacteristically gushy today.
As many of you know, I have been involved for some time in a labour dispute with my former employer. One thing I've learned on this journey is that there are people who have the power to be nice - to "do the right thing" as Spike Lee would say. Yet they withhold help that could be so easily given. Then there are other people for whom being helpful and kind is actually a great deal of effort and hard work. Yet these people give support with such grace and good humour. Thankfully, I have met a lot of the latter group in the last months. Feeling very grateful today.
 It's been a rough two months. Today there was a small victory and I am feeling like my choices have been validated. A good day.

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.

13 August 2014

Summerworks Sock 2014 Edition

This year's Summerworks sock is going much slower than the 2013 Edition. I am working a busier venue so have far less down time. Also, I've chosen a complicated pattern. It is the delicious Ripple Weave Sock from the Fall 2006 Vogue. It's a 20 row repeat and every knit stitch is twisted. The ripple effect is stunning but each row takes time.
My shifts have been mostly closing ones which means there is a 20-30 minute stretch every night when all the paper work is done but I need to sit quietly guarding the lobby waiting for the last show to get out. That's when I knit a row or two.
Check this! There is a show this year about YARN!

27 July 2014

Splitting the Set

Here our lovely model, aka The Daughter looks out while showing off my latest finished projects. Perhaps she is contemplating her bright future in her new apartment? She moves in with friends in September. Where did the time go? 

Sadly, this cute little beret does not look good on me at all which is strange because berets are kind of my thing. Perhaps it is too floppy. As The Daughter remarked, "mushroom" shaped hats look better on me. So this blue hat is now hers. Adorably so. The wristers I will keep for myself and there is still a small ball of yarn left for something else. This Indigo Dragonfly MCN Sock sure has great yardage.
Beautiful happy girl.

21 July 2014

Some Blue

Still water at Sunnyside Pool on a muggy night.

Indigo Dragonfly MCN Sock in colour Fringe Over Troubled Water

15 July 2014

TTC Knitalong 2014

Saturday July 12 was the annual TTC Knitalong. I've lost count of how many I've done now. Is this my 5th or 6th? regardless, this year was the best ever. The weather was fine and the company even better. Even the TTC co-operated with none of the major crisis that have slowed us down in the past.

I took on a bigger role this year - liaising with our charity, Sistering, doing press and communications and gathering prizes. I even got to see how pinback buttons are made! Fun! I'm not working right now, so it's certainly easy for me to take the time. Also, I just enjoy the work. It makes me feel good to use my skills organizing a fun event that helps such an amazing cause. The more I learn about Sistering, the more I realize just how special and unique they are. The services they provide are truly amazing.

The volunteers that make it all happen. I love these people.

I was very happy to see that one of our LYS's, LadeeBee, carries pottery made at Inspiration Studios which is a Sistering run micro business incubator. I bought that soapdish on the right.

Of course, I have to captain a team that includes my own LYS EweKnit.
My co-captain this year was Christina. She is charming and delightful and I could not ask for better company. The  whole team loved her. We had such a pleasant day.