28 December 2015

Holiday Greeting

My Christmas season is about loving my real family. There may be some debate about the definition.
Family is the hours spent and the care.
Here is part of my family. Beautiful girls in matching beige coats.

The Little Korea festive tiger by Christie Pits.

17 December 2015

The Hat That Wasn't

A skein of Bartlettyarns wool in a beautiful berry tone has been in my stash since January 2013. I purchased it at VK Live in New York so, even though it is a reliable and economical wool (read not trendy), it had a special place in my heart. I had always intended it to be winter hat.

Apparently, the yarn had other ideas.

A few months ago I cast on a pattern only to frog a few weeks later because of bad results. Then last month, I cast on yet another beret, the same Paton's pattern I've made a half dozen times before. I finished quickly; seamed and blocked it in a flash, only to discover that the finished product was mysteriously HUGE. Rip again.

So, last week, I started once again. I made the necessary adjustments for the aran weight of the yarn and it was all going so well... 
Then last night, while Christmas shopping I discovered that my knitting had at some point, leaped out of my shopping bag. I retraced my steps to every place I had visited in the previous hour but to no avail. It is gone forever.

This yarn really did not want to live life as my new hat. It took a good set of needles with it.

So here is a sneak peak at The Daughter's gift instead. A simple cowl that gave me no trouble whatever.

07 December 2015

Another Three by One. Done, Done, Done.

Such a simple and satisfying sock. Good old three by one rib does the trick again. Now on to that holiday deadline crunch.

30 November 2015

It Turns Out That

Post As Much As You Can means not very much at all. Well, that`s OK.

Last night after dinner we were sitting at the table when a song comes on. James Taylor - one I`d never heard before. He declared he loved it and turned it up. Proceeded to sing how he feels well when I`m around while I lay my head on the table and tried not to weep like a sentimental fool. When I raised my head, his eyes too, were full of tears.
"You`re a hard hearted Hannah," he says.

23 November 2015


Confide in the darkness that inspires
Like death. Breath whitens the winter panes.
In streets below your window, fallen wires
Confide in the darkness that inspires.
Night is vital. Void desires
Return to soil like dead-end lanes.
Confide in the darkness that inspires
Like death. Breath whitens the winter panes.

Steven Heighton
Exile The Literary Quarterly  
Vol 18, 1994

17 November 2015

Mystery Solved

What luck. What a coincidence!

We received a new shipment of sock yarn at the store the other day.

"This looks familiar!" I said to myself, eyeing the Ancient Arts. It is definitely the mystery yarn with which I've been making my latest socks. I remember it looking exactly like this on the skein all those years ago. And, now that I think of it, the word "Art" was in the name. 

As it turns out, I was mistaken in recalling silk. This yarn is merino wool with nylon. It just feels like silk.

12 November 2015

Red WIPs

I was sorting through my WIPs drawer today. My, that's a lot of red! A lace weight cardi and a lace stole are there. Both are languishing. So...what else can one do but cast on a worsted weight hat? In red of course!

09 November 2015

City Street, Night Walking

The urban landscape is my landscape. I am at home here.

The book store is closed...

...but the variety store is open late.

The jazz bar is open later.

06 November 2015

Page 57

If I photograph half empty bars, I may become a poet.

   "But where, woman wailing above your station, is it you want to go to, get to, accomplish, communicate? Can't you be amply satisfied with such pain, such babies, such balancing? 
   No. No. There's a blood-flecked urge to go even a step further.
   Above the laughter, above the miseries, above the clatter of glasses and the cries of children, I hear a voice saying: Isn't there some statement you'd like to make? Anything noted while alive? Anything felt, seen, heard, done? You are here. You're having your turn. Isn't there something you know and nobody else does? What if nobody listens? Is it all to be wasted? All blasted? What about the pricey pain?  What about those people. They sit outside this story, but give it its shape. If it has a shape. What about all the words that were said and all the words that were never said?"

Elizabeth Smart
The Assumption of the Rogues & Rascals
Paladin Grafton Books, 1991
original publisher, Jonathan Cape Ltd, Great Britain 1978

03 November 2015

Picture Place

My current window

It's funny what you think of in times of stress isn't it?
Yesterday, while editing my most recent sock photos, it struck me that this is possibly the last pair of socks to be photographed by this window. You see, I am moving in 2 months. My fella and I are combining households. This of course is a joyous life event. Still, I am finding it hard to say goodbye to certain unexpected things about the apartment that has been my home for so long. When the fact dawned, that for seven years, all my Rav sock photos have been taken in the perfect light of this window, I actually got a little misty. Silly me.

My new window in the sky.

01 November 2015

Post Every Day?

Apparently it is NaBloPoMo, (National Blog Post Month) an event that started many years ago to coincide with National Write a Novel in November. Essentially, the idea is to post to your blog every single day in November. I participated in NaKniSweMo a few years ago and knit a sweater in a month but post to the blog every single day? I don't think I have it in me. However, I have been thinking I'd like to blog much more as a path to increasing my writing skills and my creativity flow. I think I shall declare November my Post As Much As You Can month. 

So, November 1:
I finished the knee socks. They look as cute as can be and were fun to knit. Unfortunately, the silly things don't stay up at all. They started drooping as soon I walked from the front door to the back yard to take my photos. How very frustrating. They are now languishing on my bedroom chair while I come up with ideas on fixing the problem.

29 October 2015

Sock of Unknown Origin

I've been happily knitting away on yet another pair of 3 x 1 ribbed socks. In my opinion, this is the best way to handle handpaints and variegates with dramatic colour changes. The problem I am having with this particular sock is that I've no idea what I'm knitting with.

This yarn has been in my stash since 2012 when I won it at one of the last Knitty Yarn Roundtables. For those of you not lucky enough to attend one of these famous yarn tastings, let me explain that at the end of each evening, Amy Singer would do random draws and when your number was called you got to choose from a large selection of prizes. The choices were knitting books and products companies had given to Amy in hopes of a review, as well as skeins from the evening's samplings. 

On the night in question, mine was one of the last numbers drawn and only all the chopped up skeins were left. I had enjoyed knitting with this sock yarn so chose the pieces of the skein. I spit-joined them back together on the streetcar ride home. Knitty had kept the ball band to reference for the magazine column but I wrote down the info. Naturally, I lost the paper. I've gone back through the Knitty archives but can't find anything that looks like this yarn. Perhaps it never made it to the column? It was definitely a smaller brand that I had never heard of before. I seem to remember that there is some silk in here. It certainly feels like the strength of blended wool and silk. Unfortunately that's all I have to go on. 

Oh well, I guess my Ravelry entry will be incomplete.

22 October 2015

Slow Fashion October

I have been following with interest, all the blog post about Slow Fashion October. Initially, I believed I was just a spectator. I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute among all these talented makers and bloggers! Then I shook myself. Come on girl! Get in there! I'm not the first to observe that sometimes social media can be aspiration focused to the point of intimidation. The sheer beauty of the work being produced and the photography can make one's own fashion and lifestyle choices seem small and unimportant. Yet, I have not survived a half century on this planet without forming some opinions on the subject and they are worth sharing.

I am a lover of all things slow. I cycle, take transit, shop local, avoid big box stores and I do-it-myself whenever possible. When it comes to clothing, I am particularly small. Now, I don't "sew" in the traditional sense and that's not for lack of trying. Twice I've tried to learn - in high school and then again in theatre school - but sewing machines and I do not get along. They instantly malfunction when they see me coming to avoid my clumsy fingers and foul language. So, no cute McCall's dresses for me. Yes, I knit and happily so. My knitwear is the sum total of items made completely by me.

But October 19-25 of the project is mine!

WORN is the theme and it is described as: second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity and bucking trends.

I learned long ago what looks good on me and shop accordingly. I also shop primarily second hand for major items and outerwear (underwear is excepted). At first this was out of economic necessity. Then I began to appreciate the plus side of browsing a store that has only one of everything (So much choice! No cookie cutter fits!) along with the joy of finding that perfect thing that only you can love properly. I also feel pretty good about not contributing directly to sweat shop abuses nor being part of the never ending demand for new.

When I find that perfect thing, a rare occasion indeed, I care for it fastidiously. I hand wash and hand mend. If a dress is beautiful now, it will always be beautiful if you care for it. "To hell with trends!", I say. Recently someone glowingly complimented me on a dress that I've owned for over 20 years!

Now when I say I don't sew, I mean I don't sew properly. For a long time I thought this meant I was faking it but now I am comfortable knowing that alterations I make by instinct work and they are no less valid than those made by expert tailors. I turn up hems on 80"s dresses using iron-on tape, cut off ugly fabric belts and wear beautiful leather ones instead, change buttons and fold up sleeves. Once I put darts in the waist band of a pair of pants then sewed on big decorative buttons over the badly sewn darts. It looked great.

A few people have told me that I have a unique sense of style and I'm always proud to hear it. I'm not rich but I manage, without damaging the environment, to feel good about the way I look when I leave the house.

My birthday outfit. The dress cost $10 second hand.
The sleeves were too tight so I notched them at the armpits and then I wore a great belt to give it shape. The shoes I bought at my neighbour's yard sale for 50 cents.

17 October 2015

Yard Sale!

It's hard to believe I don't own most of this stuff anymore. Even harder is that I owned it all in the first place.

Last weekend, on a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday, I hauled my belongings onto the front lawn to be viewed and pawed and (hopefully) bought by passers by. This isn't even all of it! I sold a bunch before I thought to take a photograph.

Notice the large amount of what I call "pretty but useless". So much china, shiny glass, cute collectible and antique pieces. Some of these were my parent's and grandparents'. Much more of it I gathered myself along the way. I thought long and hard about letting it go. When my marriage ended seven years ago and I got my first single place, it was very important to me to create a pleasing, comfortable space. I filled my apartment, somewhat unconsciously, with pretty girly things. Being surrounded by so much that is visually pleasing and entirely my own, has made me feel safe and comfortable for many years. Now that I've grown and am moving on, I've decided that I don't need to be defined by my stuff anymore. Time to downsize.

Of course I still have my favourite pieces - a lamp, a plate, a clock. I'll never fully renounce my love of all things rose-covered. And though I sold the bulk of my doll collection, most of which is not pictured, making many little girls happy in the process, I did take the four Beautiful Crissy series dolls seen below, back into the house. I decided no one can love them as much as I do. I intend to knit them all new dresses.

06 October 2015

Knee High

I've been knitting knee socks! I know!
The last time I knit a pair, they turned out beautifully. Once they were done. Which took forever.

This pair is going along much more quickly. The foot is just 48 stitches around and is flying along. The pattern is from Classic Elite and calls for their worsted weight Mountaintop Vista. Vista is a lovely yarn but I am knitting my socks in Elann Esprit (a Cascade Fixation knock off) because
a) I have no Vista nor any cash to buy some
b) I've knit socks in this elastic/cotton blend before with good results. With the inclusion of elastic, the socks stay up - an especially desirable feature in knee length hosiery.

In the original yarn, the socks look very earthy and natural. Knit in Esprit, they are more nubbly and fun looking. The effect is not intentional but it suits me fine.

I love, love, love this cuff! How can something so simple to knit turn out looking so cool and intriguing? 

01 October 2015

Found Another Fashion Sweater

The Daughter and I were clipping fashion mags yesterday and making awesome paper doll clothes. We both stopped and gasped when we saw this stunning ad for a Brooks Brothers pullover. Yet another example of knitwear being current and fabulous. We both agreed that we would wear this. Just look at that cowl neck.

Though this was likely machine knit, the actual knitting here doesn't look that difficult to do by hand. The arms and body pieces look relatively straight & the stitch pattern is consistent. I love the ombre affect. It reminds me of Noro's Natural colourway. I wonder if there is a comparable soft wool brand in this colour?

20 September 2015

Fill in the Blank

Change is...

  1. Good
  2. Hard
  3. Inevitable
  4. All of the above.

09 September 2015

Life Continues To Say "Gotcha!"

Here you see a portion of my shawl collection which is now spread over every available surface of my apartment. You may ask, "Why is this so?"

Moths have been spotted in my home. It's not an infestation but I have trapped a few so, naturally, I am concerned. My stash is very safely packed but my FO's are not. So, I spent yesterday morning pulling out every sock, sweater and shawl to shake and inspect. Oddly, the knitwear is all fine but a few silk scarves had eggs (old ones to which i am not attached thankfully.) I decided I needed to pack everything in plastic but before I did that I wanted to lay my shawls, which were stored next to the silk scarves, out in the sun for a few hours. I lay them all out in the clear, bright, hot yard, then trotted off to the hardware store to buy a zip-loc bags in quantity. 

Fifteen minutes later, the skies darkened and opened - dropping a torrent of water on all my lovely shawls while I stood dumbfounded and helpless outside the Home Hardware. Damn! (Well, I used stronger language at the time.)

It took 2 hours to wash every single shawl in Eucalan and lay them out on flannel sheets. Everywhere. The air conditioner has been running non-stop to keep up with the humidity. 

At least I have clean shawls now! Also, I am enjoying today seeing the beautiful results of hours and hours of my labour displayed before me.

03 September 2015

Vintage Magazine Check-In

Check out these sassy dresses from 1966. This brochure from my vintage collection is Bernat and the featured yarn was Opalette  - 55% virgin wool, 45% viscose. Hmm...I wonder how comfortable that was to wear as a dress? Regardless, I love the silhouettes and the serious hairstyles. I especially love that these illustrations are drawings rather than photographs. Just lovely.

Fast forward nine years to one of my favourite fashion years; 1975 and the McCall's Sweater Book. When I first saw this photo, I thought the sweater sat at the waist. That impression turned out to be an optical illusion caused by the way the model's hands are posed but that's the length I would knit this cardigan. It's the only modification necessary because in every other way the piece is modern and relevant. I can see this delicate thing knit up in a number of present day DK yarns. I think I need this in my wardrobe.

The rest of the outfit? Well, we don't need the polyester trousers or the sharp lapels but a version of that hat has been on young women everywhere this summer. Just goes to show that classic styling is timeless.

31 August 2015

Imperfect Mittens. Imperfect life.

In accordance with the recent trend of using stash in the production of handwear, I present Adorable Not-Fingerless Mitts. They are worked in leftover Cascade 220 which I used on another Andi Satterlund pattern - Hetty
So... my centering at the top point is imperfect and my thumb join is loose with small holes. I still have a nice pair of mittens that will keep my hands warm (despite their refusal to be photographed true to colour!)

My cat is still breathing, albeit sometimes in a laboured way. Last night she jumped up onto the bed demanding cuddles, head butting & purring. I've vowed that as long as she still seems present and her personality is evident, I will care for her. One day at a time.

25 August 2015

August Mittens

There's nothing wrong with knitting mittens in August. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. It's a light, portable project that won't overheat you and it will give you warm hands in the winter; a winter which is coming sooner than we like to admit.

Confession. These are accidental full mittens. I wanted the quick satisfaction of a small project so I cast on Adorable Fingerless Mittens by Andi Satterlund. When I got to the palm of the first mitt it was clear that my gauge was way off and these mitts were far too loose. I also used the wrong yarn. The pattern uses sport weight and this Cascade 220, leftover from a sweater, is worsted. 
Rather than chuck the project, I decided to just keep going and make traditional mittens. It was an easy modification to make and I am quite happy with the result so far.

17 August 2015

Not Much Knitting & A Sick Cat

Very little knitting to report. It's been a rather nasty August here. Not to complain but, really?

In early August I had a frightening cycling accident that caused a bloody and terrifying injury to my leg. Thankfully, both my boyfriend and a helpful police officer were on the scene and acted quickly. Two words. Ambulance. Stitches. 

This happened just five days before the annual theatre festival for which I do venue management. It was too late to cancel the gig, (and frankly I need the money) so I worked the contract using a cane. The event was more hectic and more poorly scheduled than usual. It was exhausting and painful.

Then my poor cat Molly tried to die in the middle of all this. As it turns out, she has advanced heart disease which she has been hiding, as cats do. We are trying treatment to see if she can go on to live a decent quality of life. So far she is responding well to her twice daily meds, but we we're not out of the woods yet. We'll know her prognosis in a week or so. Poor sweet girl.

Right? Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Back to carrying on.

Molly under the dining table looking much better than she did a week ago.
Honestly, she looked and sounded then as if she was going to leave us at any moment.
This bright eyed photo gives me hope.

04 August 2015

Summer Album

Moan, moan. Complain, complain. It's all very well to fret on about being unemployed. Under-employed. Precariously employed. Whatever you want to call it. Yes, it is a serious problem, one with which I live daily and take constant action to try to change. However, it is time to step back for a moment and view some goodness. After the day's resumes have been sent and the emails answered, I often get the chance to get out and see the beautiful world around me. Not everyone gets to do that or is lucky enough to live in such a lovely part of the world. 
Today I just want to appreciate my good fortune on that count.

Early in the spring, I went for a walk in High Park and caught the tail end of cherry blossom season. This park is right next door to me. How lucky am I?

This glorious foxglove is at the High Park greenhouse.

I try to ride out to the Humber River a few times each season. This was 2 weeks ago.

Not sure which street this overpass is. 
This as far as I go. I rest here, then turn back

Knitting by the river. A bench. An apple. A bottle of water.

Last week my boyfriend took me for a drive through the Beamsville Bench wine country. 
I'd never done a wine tour before. It was a lovely drive on a hot day. Beautiful scenery. Friendly people. Some very tasty wines.

Our favourite stop was Hidden Bench.
We came upon it unexpectedly which made it that much more special.

Then on July 5, I marched in the Jobs, Justice, Climate march. Because life is not all wine and knitting. Sometimes you have to stick it to The Man.

31 July 2015

The Tao Of Physics

In the vast spaces of the subatomic world where
Matter has a     tendency     to exist
The lord of Life is breathing in and out,
Creating and destroying the universe
With each wave of his breath.

And my lord Siva dances in the city streets,
His body a fierce illusion of flesh, of energy,
The particles of light cast off from his hair
Invade the mighty night, the relative night, this dream.

Here where events have a    tendency    to occur
My chair and all its myriad inner worlds
Whirl around in the carousel of space; I hurl
Breathless poems against my lord Death, send these
Words, these words
Careening into the beautiful darkness.

Gwendolym MacEwen
Afterworlds, 1987

22 July 2015

Notorious Red In the Park

It's a truly beautiful day here in the city. Sunny but not too hot. Breezy. 

Finding myself full of anxious energy due to boring old life circumstances best not dwelt over, I decided to take advantage of the weather. My knitting. my camera, and I went for one of those long, long, walks in High Park.

Stopping to rest and knit at the picnic tables between Dog Hill and the allotment gardens, I was challenged again by just how hard it is to photograph red. After multiple settings and a dozen shots, these two are the best I could achieve. Perhaps there is a better photographer than I out there who can explain the Notorious Red phenomenon to me.

It's hard to tell, but this single-ply lace weight from Riverside Studio is slowly becoming a cardigan. Ever so slowly. 
I always wanted a lace weight sweater and it seemed like a good idea to try on. However, I am only 80% through the back piece and already it feels like a slog. I am hoping that as more pieces form and I can better envision the end product, I will get excited again. It is, after all, a lovely shade of red.

16 July 2015

Classic Cool Sweater

I came across this image while flipping through one of the fashion mags I keep around for collages. Don't you just love the fresh styling of this classic pullover? The ad is actually for the boots and bag brand but I think the sweater takes center stage here, especially the way it is paired so unexpectedly with a cute floral skirt and dark tights

The photo reminds me so much of the knits in Susan Crawford's amazing Vintage Shetland Project. If you've not heard of it you should read her blog. Amazing detailed, loving work. Susan suffered a frightening setback this week with a fire in her barn. Thankfully her family, human and sheep, are all fine but she lost her recently sheared fleece. Her crowd funded campaign is still happening if anyone would like to support her and pre-order the book.

13 July 2015

Pink Lace? Me?

Piperita by Andi Satterlund
Modification: Plain garter stitch substituted for the original scalloped edge.

Oh, I just love fingerless gloves. I find them to be both whimsical and practical; vintage and fashion forward. I've knit many, many pairs and I wear them all. They're great under mittens in cold cold winter or by themselves in spring and fall. I wear them constantly in cold offices while I slave away at a keyboard or with a cash drawer. They make my busy old hands look cheerful. This lace mesh design is particularly lovely and I know I will make it again.

I also love using up yarn scraps. This pair used up a plum sized ball of Opal yarn leftover from socks knit years ago. I think I may never buy glove specific stash again. I've more than enough small bundles stored away to keep my hands warm for years.

About my pictures.
Like many other knitters I use the timer to take blog and Ravelry photos. Usually I just try for a nice project shot and crop out my face in the edit. However, on very rare occasion, a photo of me that I actually like results. The one below was taken with my point and shoot on a 10 second delay and set to the Sunny Day setting. The location is my favourite chair by my dining room window in late afternoon. This is where I drink my coffee every morning. The light was coming in just right and I guess I was relaxed because I think I actually look kind of pretty here. Allowing for a small bit of momentary vanity, I am sharing this photo with you.

08 July 2015

My Morning At the Library

I was really happy to find this colour plate of Vanessa Bell's portrait of Strachey.
I had previously only seen it reproduced in black and white. 

Let me not know the wherefore and the how.
     No question let me ask, no answer find;
I deeper taste the blessed here and now
     Bereft of speculation, with eyes blind.
What need to seek or see?
It is enough to be.

In absolute quiescence let me rest,
     From all the world, from mine own self, apart;
I closer hold the illimitable best,
     Still as the final silence, with calm heart,
What need to strive or move?
It is enough to love.

                                  Lytton Strachey, 1931
                                  A Critical Biography Vol II, p.691