Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Here's wishing you all a very ghoulish and happy Halloween!

My pumpkin carving efforts from last year!

On another note, we have a winner in the quest for a bulky knit coat pattern!

Drum roll and three cheers for...........

ISSARA by Anne Kuo Lukito

Yes, it's rather uncanny that the name of this coat is similar to my name!  Huh!  It must be good!  LOL.

Issara by Anne Kuo Lukito

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I'm an optimist, so let's start with the GOOD.

Yesterday morning I finished the Heather Hoodie Vest I was working on.  I'm delighted with the end result.

Pumpkin Pie Hooded Vest
Headwater Wool (Daina)
6 skeins = 984yds (899m)

And now for the BAD.

Remember the wonderful Briar Rose "Robusta" yarn that was hand dyed for me in the "chocolate swirls" colourway?  That yarn was for Harwood by Sarah Hutton.  I've been frothing at the bit to knit this coat.  So, yesterday afternoon I spent hours researching the project, making notes, charting the complex cable patterns (it's annoying when patterns aren't charted) and knitting the swatch.

Last night I cast on the back.  I knit about 5 inches before I took the time to really look at it.  Oh, so disappointing.  If I strained to see, I could just make out the beautiful cables!  How frustrating.  Maybe in the daylight it would look better.......

No.  It did not.

So I ripped it back.  Now I`m on a new coat quest to find a pattern suitable for this wonderful yarn.

And lastly, the UGLY.  Totally unrelated to knitting actually.  I`d been having issues with blogger since I updated it.  Today I spent the whole morning removing gadgets, trying new templates, changing the formatting and styles, and still my blog kept crashing.  There was nothing for it but to update to the new look blogger, and upgrade to GOOGLE CHROME.

I must say that Google Chrome is super fast, and so far so good.  Having successfully wasted two hours sorting out the blog and IE, I`m now returning to my coat quest.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Few of my Favourite Things....and one NOT

The weather forcast for London, Ontario today is:

Cloudy, with a 40 percent chance of showers after lunch.  High plus 5C.
Mainly cloudy tonight, with a 40 percent chance of showers this evening and after midnight.  Clearing overnight.  Low minus 4.

So, autumn is here, and that's that!

For the most part, I love fall.  And during this cooler weather, I enjoy most of my favourite things:

Baking meat pies!
Fighting for my spot by the woodstove!
And autumn maple leaves

Amidst all this splendour, if nothing else other than to add a little balance, I present to you one of my NOT favourite things:

Mis-aligned shoulder seaming

Sigh.  Sigh.  Sigh.  What's worse is that it's my own fault.  Mis-aligned shoulders, how I loathe thee.  I converted this pattern from knitting three pieces, to knitting in one piece.  No biggie right?  Usually, no.  Once I got to the underarms, I separated my knitting.  I knit the two fronts, and all was well.  Then at the last minute, I decided to bind off two stitches at the underarm for a better fit.  I did it on the back on both sides.  What I totally forgot about was that I didn't do it for the front!!  Argh!  Hence the mis-aligned shoulders.

Following a sleepless night, I awoke this morning proclaiming "who bloody cares!".  I'm not ripping back to fix it.  And to that annoying little voice in my head:  SHUT UP!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Woodstock Fleece Festival

I spent a wonderful day today with two friends, Nadine and Colleen, at the Woodstock Fleece Festival.

We had an early morning start and were in the marketplace just after 9am.  It was just the right amount of busy at that time - but two hours later, and it became quite claustrophobic!  I almost had to start swinging my pointy elbows!

I hadn't intended to buy anything (indeed I only took cash for entry, gas and lunch) - but isn't it always the way that when you don't have money you find everything you've been searching for - and when you do have money, you can't find a darn thing?

So I had to break out the credit card....and on more than one occasion!

Just look at the lovely things I got:

This photo isn't brilliant, but I have three gorgeous
skeins of madelinetosh merino light
in "tart", "glazed pecan" and "kale" colourways

This kit is going to become Earth and Sky by Stephen West and will hopefully resemble something like this:

Earth and Sky by Stephen West

Then I spotted the perfect companion yarns for some special Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK that I picked up from Cotton-by-Post yesterday.

Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK "lemongrass"

Shelridge Farm DK Soft Touch "natural" and "black" colourways
And whilst browsing the Shelridge Farm festival booth, I happened across the Paradoxical Mittens pattern by Lucy Neatby. 

I'll use one skein of the Tanis Fiber Arts in the "lemongrass" colourway, and the skein of below.

Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK "teal"

And as if this wasn't enough of a yarn frenzy, then I happened across a beautiful skein of Wellington Fibres yarn that will make a wonderful pair of mittens for my sister for Christmas.

Wellington Fibres 3ply 50% Mohair/50% Wool

And lastly, I saw a magnetized pattern holder that I simply had to have.  This will make my life so much easier when I knit at night.

Magnetized Pattern Holder
Although this next photo has nothing to do with the Woodstock Fleece Festival, it is blog worthy and yarn related.  Cotton-by-Post sells these wonderful hand-crafted yarn bowls.  They are made by Laurie's Mum.  Look how pretty my newest addition is:

Pottery yarn bowl with cat motif
And now?  I'm broke!  But happy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lever Knitting

Have you ever heard of "Lever" knitting or "Irish Cottage" knitting?

The Yarn Harlot knits this way.  Below is a YouTube video of her knitting.

Lever knitting is generally used by people who knit for a living.  It incorporates both speed and efficiency.  Lever knitting is considered to be the most ergonomic way to knit, thus enabling knitters to knit up to 10 hours a day without fear of RSI (repetetive strain injury).

The Lever knitting technique tends to result in a more uniform knitted fabric because both purling and knitting require small and similar hand movements.

If you're interested, there's an excellent Lever knitting article by sweetgeorgia.  It's a fascinating read.  And other one by Maven Knits.

In the article by sweetgeorge, mention is made of the Yarn Harlot's workshop:  "Knitting for Speed and Efficiency".  If you haven't already done so, sign up for her workshop on Saturday, 21st January, 2012 at Cotton-by-Post.

Lever knitting is all about how you tension the yarn and how you hold your right hand.  As with most things there are a number of ways you can do it, and what suits one person, may be the archilles heel for another.

Me?  I'm finding it really awkward.  This is quite possibly due to the fact that I'm a continental knitter and hold the yarn in my left hand.  I will however persevere because I'd like to be able to knit with the yarn in either hand.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yarn Harlot in London, Ontario?

Be still my beating heart!!
I kid you not! This IS happening!

Here's the partial post from the Ravelry group Yarn Harlot Fans:

Are we thrilled to have the Yarn Harlot come to lecture, teach and sign her new book in January 2012?  YOU BET WE ARE!!!

She will be coming to Cotton-by-Post, 21581 Richmond Street North, London, Ontario.

Suzanne and Garnet from Cotton-by-Post (corner Richmond Street and Medway Road) have invited Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka Yarn Harlot) to teach two classes on 21st and 22nd January, and to give a seminar and sign her new book (All Wound Up: Yarn Harlot Writes for a Spin) on Friday evening, 20th January.

Her final schedule:
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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Yarn Harlot)

  • Friday 20th January at 7pm:  An Evening with Stephanie ($15.00 + HST)
  • Saturday 21st January (all day):  Knitting for Speed and Efficiency (includes a light lunch) ($85.00 + HST) 
  • Sunday 22nd January (all day):  Liking Lace (includes a light lunch) ($85.00 + HST)

(6 hour classes with one hour for lunch)

If you register for both workshops, then the Friday evening seminar and book signing is only $5.00 + HST.

How exciting is this?????  WHOOT! WHOOT!

Ph:  519-518-6134

In Garnet's own words:

"We really hope to have this event sold out and give everyone a taste of what we
will be doing to bring teachers to London".

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cat Show

Yesterday I had the great fortune to attend the PAWSitive PAWS Cat Club's Cat Show in London, Ontario.  Even the London Free Press picked up the story!

My lovely friend Kat suggested the outing, and it was wonderful indeed.

So many beautiful breeds - each cage we peeked in brought silly-girl squeals of joy from us!

I'll let the photos do the talking:

Maine Coon


Devon Rex


Rag Doll




And then there was this:

It's raining cats and dogs!
My Sandi Pandi with her new toy and cat hammock
My Shelby Belby with his new toys

A New Look Blog

Maybe is wasn't necessary to update my blog, but in all honesty, I hadn't given it a new coat of paint since 18th November, 2007!  The blog will basically stay the same with only a few modifications.

I removed the word "violets" from my blog title because, truth be told, these days I only own one plant.  Yes, African violets were a big part of my life from 2002 to 2007.  Unfortunately, the ramant spread of evil, sap sucking super-insects, known as thrips and mealybug, saw the untimely demise of my fabulous collection.  I replaced that addiction with an even better one.  CHOCOLATE.

Oh I love thee.

I added new sunshine yellow wallpaper to to my blog to dress up the old drab green paint.  I think it's brightened up the whole place!

And lastly, I added a few new gadgets (search, email notifications), and a shiny new blog banner.

Change is good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Change is Coming...

Nothing is more certain in life than death and taxes (Benjamin Franklin) and change (me).

I don't feel like I'm dying just yet, although, like many others, some days death would be easier....

Since I own and operate a small business, I must confess that (and what better place to air my dirty laundry than in public?) I've been having a raunchy, very one-sided and often unexplicable affair with the tax man. I have decided that taxes are designed to keep me poor despite working 12 hours days and 7 days a week.

And then there's change. Not too many of us relish change. I've often been heard uttering such things as "but, I don't want to change", or "it was just fine the way it was". Mind you, some change is good. And the change I'm working on this weekend is to my blog! Ha!

Stay tuned...a change is coming....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Signature Performance

Last week, during a moment of total disregard for my finances, and in sheer terror, I clicked:

  • Add to Cart
  • Check Out (quickly before I change my mind)
  • Confirm Payment

It was done.  No going back.  I was soon to be the proud Mummy of a Signature circular needle.  Why the terror?  Because it cost me $US40!  Can you believe it?  How frivolous!  How wildly reckless!  How insane!  See what happens when I'm chocolate deprived??

The postman delivered by new circular needle to me today.  First impressions:  it's so pretty!  I wonder whether red really is faster?

I immediately cast on a 20 stitch swatch with some worsted weight yarn.

Six rows of stockinette using addi turbo

Six rows of stockinette using signature

Close-up comparison

Can you see a difference in the knitted fabric? 

From my perspective, the addi turbo is smoother and dare I say it....a little faster for me.  The signature needle is fast, but the red coloured part is a "matt" finish and there is a slight resistance when knitting.  I felt like I was knitting a little tighter with it.  Perhaps I should have chosen the "stilhetto tip type"?

Comparing both needles....I like the longer needle length on the signature; it suits my hands and my continental style of knitting.  The signature circ has a slightly sharper point which I like for cabling and K2togs.  I really like its cable - there's a very smooth transition between the needle and the cable.  The cable is also very soft and flexible.  The addi turbo has a shorter needle length that sometimes results in my hands aching a little.  There's a slight kink between the cable and the needle, and sometimes that requires more effort on my part to move stitches along the cable.

Signature Pros:

Signature circulars let you pick your needle size, the point profile type, needle length to best fit your hand, needle length (overall point-to-point length) with cable, or even choose a custom cable length.

Signature circulars are hand crafted, hand polished, and have an incredibly smooth, flexible and memory resistant cable.

Signature Cons:

The cost.  $40 is a very high price for a circular needle.

Final Thoughts:

I'm glad I bought the signature needle in a 4.5mm size with a 32in cable and 8in needle length.  It'll get a whole lot of use from it. 

However, I would probably not buy a Signature needle again unless they go on sale.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Fair Was Good To Me (Image Heavy)

Or was I good to the Fair?  Hmm... [laughing]

2011 marked the 160th anniversary of the Ilderton Fall Fair.  To my thinking, such a monumental occasion deserved equal monumental input from me!  So what did I do?  I entered a whopping 20 items in two categories!  The "homecraft/knitting" division received 14 knitted items, and the "food department" received six goodies.

This morning Barb and I shuffled through the Ilderton Fair's exhibit buildings expressing the appropriate oohs and aahs.  We put on brave faces, but it was very c-c-c-cold!  Under the main exhibit building is an ice arena!  Brrrrr...

My cold and red hands could barely hold the camera steady to take photos.  My hot breath warmed my fingers enough to take the necessary 13 pictures!  I won 15 ribbons in total - 9 x 1sts; 5 x 2nds; and 1 x 3rd!!  Whoot!

Baby Surprise Jacket - 2nd
Clepsydra Hat & Mitts - 2nd
Dark Mark Illusion Scarf - 1st
Felted Boots - 1st
Felted Aran Mittens - 1st
Sunflower Handtowel Topper - 1st
Ilene Bag - 2nd
Aunty Isa Monkey - 1st
Rayna Booties - 2nd
Seneca - 1st
VBV (Very Best Vest) - 1st
Socks - Vickies - 1st
Xmas Ball - 3rd
I also got a 1st for my Eggs Florentine and a 2nd for my Maple Panne Cotta.

So another Fair bites the dust [big heavy sigh].  Time for a little R&R.  I'm pooped.