Monday, February 28, 2011

Request Granted

At the end of January, on our trip to Toronto for Peter's art show, niece Christie requested a pair of texting mitts.  She asked me to knit  the same pattern as her sister's mittens, but in blue and black. Although they have long been  finished, I  neglected to take pictures before I mailed  them  to her.  This past weekend, I caught up with her and took a couple of photos. 

These are Chimera Mittens by Laris Designs.  The picture on the  pattern cover shows fingerless mitts, but included are  instructions for both fingerless and, like those I knit for Christie, full mittens.

These are size small, knit with Rejuvenation yarn by Kertzer.  The yarn is 100% wool and very feltable.  Such a good thing when guessing at the correct size to knit.  If they are a bit too large, they can be felted down.  The double layer over the finger tips makes them very warm. 

Christie's modelled shots show the buttonhole in the thumb tip that makes texting easy.  Apparently a designer, popular with the teenage crowd, has created similar mittens and loyal Christie is disgusted that she stole my idea.  :) 

Next up, Christie  would like a matching hat.  On her next visit, she intends to  search my patterns for the perfect design.  One request granted, another to come. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Maybe it was envy of those from the group who are travelling and enjoying sunshine on the beach but at knit group today, there was much talk of 'having to get away'.  "To some place other than the grocery store" was Bonnie's statement.

Gail  'got away' to knit group today, escaping   the upside-down'ness' of her house following the installation of new carpeting.  This is a true knitters version of relaxation therapy - sock knitting.

Doreen  was a study in contrasts today - and concentration too, by the looks of it. 
Wearing the white vest she knit last year  while knitting a black one.  She lost the pattern for the white vest, so who knows how the black one will turn out.  Perhaps this memory exercise is Doreen's get-away??

Ingrid  hopes she has enough yarn in that little ball to finish her sleeve.
Otherwise, she said " It all comes out".  Stress like that is not a good 'get away', Ingrid.

With all these little pieces to sew together, it's no wonder you need to get away, Bonnie.
Someone tell that knitter about top-down, seamless, baby sweaters.    

Wilma arrived with the cutest, crocheted hat. A one-hour hat, she said. Now that's a get away.

 Lucky knitter that she is, Wilma had a request to knit this hat for her  her Grand daughters.  
Requested knitting always gets immediate attention.


 Pat, who we haven't seen in quite some time was out today.
Dry pavement is an enabler.  Knitting has been her 'get-away' this winter, she said.

If an afternoon of knitting is so effective in helping us  to 'get away' anyone up for a knitting cruise?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Not Yet

Seeing this, you might think.   if you ignored the trailing threads and  the  marker that is, that I am wearing my Pumpkin Pie Pully to work today.


Sadly, not yet.

Close, though.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Think I Can, I Think I Can . . .

I kept repeating the motto of The Little Engine That Could to myself, as I knit, yesterday.  But, obviously, I live in 'la la' land  because, there was no way I was going to  finish Pumpkin Pie last night.  Thank goodness for movable goals. 

Originally, the goal was to wear Pumpkin to work last Wednesday.  Last Wednesday became this Wednesday and now,  although I am absolutely sure I can finish it tonight,  - I think I can, I think I can  -  not likely will it be finished in time to block and dry before 9 am tomorrow. I'll move the goal to next Wednesday. 

By my estimation, there are 22 rows to go before I knit the neck trim. 
22 ever-decreasing rows at that.    I think I can, I think I can.     Ever fond of throwing wrenches into the mix though, I've decided to fashion a square, front neck while at the same time keeping the raglan shaping for the shoulders and the back.  My expectations  at the moment are 22 rows to victory or defeat number two.  Tonight will tell.

Monday, February 21, 2011

One Step Forward

The  'one step forward,

two steps backwards'
adage describes my weekend to a 'T'.   Although it didn't happen Friday night, I would have had my Pumpkin Pie Pully finished by Sunday night.  If I had liked the resluts achieved, that is.

I was attempting to knit the pully using EZ"s Seamless Set In Sleeve method.  Of course, to add to the  difficulties, I wanted a  lower version of the crew neck and 'at the same' wanted to keep the cable in it's entirety right up to the shoulder. 

Severe knitterly denial set in some time Saturday.  The entire process was taking too long.  Not time wise, but row wise.  I began to envision the armholes sitting close to the navel. But I kept on.  

Then the neck shaping instructions were so Elizabeth.  That is,  a few details short of clear.  The front neckline was  knit and ripped  about six  times.  Still I knit on.

There was one little niggling thought as I kept knitting. Those  frequent ravelry comments stating  that  the pattern resulted in pointy shoulders.  But most knitters went on to say things like "Love it anyway".  "Favourite sweater nonetheless."  So I knit on.  And finished the sweater last evening.  Guess what.  The shoulders are pointy.  The armhole to shoulder area was way too deep to be attractive.  I ripped it back to the join  and am now knitting raglan sleeves. .

I am  disappointed to discover that Elizabeth Zimmermann is fallible.  My mantra previously had  been "If Elizabeth says it is so, then it will be so."   With the exception of seamless set in sleeves, I
still believe that.

Raglan sleeves are good.  I know they fit.  They flatter.  And they are easy to do.  So one step forward, in a new direction and perhaps, Pumpkin Pie tonight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Tonight?

My KAL sweater , the Pumpkin Pie Pully, is nearing completion.  How much TV time will it take to finish this?  I had hoped for a pre-weekend finish, but that is probably not going to happen.
So far, this plain pully, with it's overly-large, off-centre  cable, being knit  'a la'  EZ's percentage system,  is turning out true to my vision.     The  26 stitch  cable, worked  in K1, P1 rib and  cabled to the front every twenty rows is large, loopy and fun.

One of the untried left-overs from my year with Elizabeth Zimmermann, was the seamless set-in sleeve.  Knit all in one piece like the raglan, saddle shoulder or hybrid,  the seamless set-in sleeve is created  with decreases that shape and define what would, in a pieced sweater,  be the sleeve seam.   My Pumpkin Pie Pully is giving me the opportunity to give that technique a whirl.  So far, so good.

The only thing I don't like is  EZ's recommendation to weave the shoulders.  That is not the best shoulder finish IMO as it gives no strength to the shoulder seam. Instead, I intend  to knit to the top, then as unobtrusively as possible, knit an extra row across both the front and back  shoulders without destroying the sleeve cap finish.  With that extra row I can - or at least I hope I can -   seam the shoulders with a three needle bind off.  That's the plan at this point.

If that doesn't work, I will have to rip back to where  the sleeves join the body and do another sleeve style.  Which would mean, of course that not only will there be no Pumpkin Pie tonight, but probably not for several days to come.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Tanya,  with  a new work assignment for the next few weeks,  left today for the far, far north.  Sharon, if not already gone, is leaving soon for a much needed vacation in the far, far south.   We missed you both at knitting today.  Nicki leaves Saturday for the mid-south - Georgia,  to attend her daughter's wedding.  Such a travelling group.  The rest of us knit on.

Marlene has knit several hats since the last time her work schedule  allowed her a free afternoon to come to knit group.

Doreen obviously enjoyed trying them on.  Knit your own darn hat, Doreen!

Ingrid was wearing another famously, lovely piece.  I admired the great mitred corners on the neckline and loved the colourful buttons. 

Wilma finished her Nimbus, knit with the specified yarn - Peruvia Quick.   It garnered much attention and Ingrid asked if Wilma would help her knit one!  What?  Who would think Ingrid needs help?  But everything Ingrid knits, she knits pattern-free.  She has difficulty reading patterns because English is not her native  language. 

It looks lovely on you, Wilma.  Wilma choose to knit Nimbus with a larger-than-called-for needle which resulted in  a much more open neckline.  I like it.  Taking a cue from my Nimbus, Wilma   made her jacket two inches longer than the pattern suggested and shortened the amount of  garter stitch trim.  Modifications that make yours perfectly perfect, Wilma.

Nicki, at knit group to relieve pre-wedding stress, started her  second  entrelac  scarf. 

This one, like the first you see there, will be knit with Noro and should make  good car knitting.  It's a long drive to Georgia. 

As the laughter and giggles pour out of the room, the library staff, I'm sure, must wonder  what we are up to.  Any knitter could tell them - Yarn, plus needles, plus knitters equals fun!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

National Sweater Day

NSD comes under the category of   'Why Didn't We Think Of This'  ?  We, being knitters of the world.

But we can celebrate it nonetheless.

Grab your needles.  Pick up your yarn.  Take your comfy chair and wear your favourite sweater.  February 17 is  National Sweater Day.  Look here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Before And After Shots

"What's felting," customers at the store sometimes ask. If you've ever wondered that or what felting does to a knitted product, these before and after shots tell all.

Fred commented when taking these before-felting pictures

that the hat looked like a bucket. Guess that's why Bonne Marie Burns calls it the Felted Bucket Hat.

Even though mine is yet undecorated,
the high fashion of this knit is quite apparent. I like it.

This one, I knit with Ella Rae Classic wool and it took about 10 minutes in the washing machine to felt to size. Having knit five of these now, I should have the felting times down pat. But amazing as it might sound, the colour, so the dye in the wool, seemed to play a role in determining felting time. The two black hats took the longest to felt.

Bonnie Marie's pattern has some interesting construction features. Setting those aside,the hat has a common number of cast on stitches for hats knit with Knitting Worsted yarn. The needle size however is a full, four sizes bigger. All the yarns I've used would normally be knit on a 4 1/2 mm needle. The Felted Bucket Hat is knit with 6 1/2mm.

That suggests to me that I could take any pattern, used a yarn that felts, up the needles by four sizes and felt a garment to fit. Something to try with another hat style.

Wearing the 'before felted' hat made me feel like a kid playing dress up in adult clothing. The 'after-felting' hat is a grown-up hat that makes a high-end fashion statement. Not bad for a couple of evenings of knitting.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cards and Chocolates

Today is Valentine's Day. With days like this - days that if not commercially birthed, are certainly commercially bally-hooed - I find myself sitting, butt-crackingly uncomfortable, on the fence. I know about the commercialism. I know that loving relationships can't survive on only one-day-a-year recognition. I know that unloving people can give gifts. But dang! I love those mushy cards and chocolates.

Mind you I like diamonds and new cars too, but I count my blessings. Candy will do. Receiving chocolates certainly beats the Valentine's Day, long ago, when having read that men are visual learners, I sent myself flowers with a card that read "Love, Fred." Not cut flowers either. But one of those long-life plants that took centre place on the mantle for weeks.

Since that year, Valentine's Day has not gone unrecognized here at the Harris household. Still, it was quite a surprise to arrive home from knit group on Thursday! days before February 14, to find a box of chocolates sitting front and centre. Never subtle, I said " HEY! " Why is there a box of chocolates on the kitchen counter?"

Always subtle, Fred said "That's an early Valentine's gift. You said the other day that you were craving chocolate."

Holy Doodle! Knock me over with a feather! Indeed I had said that. We were about to have tea and I had commented that I wished I had a box of candy in the house as I was craving chocolate. But I certainly didn't expect this.

You see those chocolates represent more than candy. They meant that my husband had LISTENED! How often does that happen? Then while out running errands, he had REMEMBERED! How often does that happen?

Then me being me and Fred being Fred when I questioned him about the recently-acquired skills of listening and remembering he gave me one of his wonderful 'one liners'.

I asked. "How come you've started to do this kind of thing since you retired? Listening to me and thinking of me while shopping. You never used to do that"

Fred replied " I couldn't do it when I was younger and working. I can't multi-task."

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. And thanks for reading. I ''heart' your loyalty.

Friday, February 11, 2011

How I'm Filling My Time

I have three wonderful, happy, fun-loving grand kids. Sadly, they live far, far away. This means lots of bonding by 'Bell'. Last Sunday evening, I spoke to all three, but it was ten year old James who started his telephone time with this question.

"So, Grandma. What are you doing to fill your time this winter?" Hmmm. Quite a query for a ten year old. Whenever a child asks such a deep question I feel they deserve not to be brushed off. Not to be trivialized. But rather to be given a well thought-through response that respects the seriousness of the question.

So I told James about my Legion Lunches. Fred and I are both active members of our local Legion. In the summer, the branch raises money by hosting Friday night bar b ques. Hamburger and salad for $4.

Winter times, however, are different. With no kitchen in our small branch, hosting 'food' events is difficult. Trying to solve this problem, I asked a friend if she would like to partner with me, throughout January and February, to serve Friday Lunches. Eager beaver that she is, her reply was enthusiastic. A planning meeting followed, menus where developed and posted on the bulletin board.

New ventures can take time to become popular, causing us to nervously wonder as our first Friday approached, just how many diners we might have. Twenty Five came!! My partner and I high-fived ourselves at the end of the lunch hour. With she and I donating all the food for this winter project that day saw a $100. go in the Legion's coffers. The next week, 35 showed up. Then 37.

Last Saturday morning, I 'filled my time' by making and freezing Shepherd's Pie for 40. That's what is on today's menu along with salad and homemade rolls that my newly-acquired-since-retirement, bread-making skills enable me to do.

Preparing enough food to feed forty people each Friday is hard work. But what a rewarding experience it has been. How heart warming to see the room filled with people, surrounded by friends and neighbours enjoying good food, fun and conversation.

Today, being close to Valentines' Day, a local keyboardist offered to provide music for our diners. Thanks so much Avril.

This good looking guy is knitting friend Nicki's, husband Paul. He looks quite well fed and happy, here. Isn't that smile a great reward for a little time spent in the kitchen Saturday morning?

How special and loved I felt when James showed an interest in how my days go. And it was wonderful to have rich activities and experiences to share with him. Thanks, James.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Not an outdoor scene such as opened last Thursday's post, but still, another great view to greet us as we arrived at knit group today.
This is a painting on the wall in the basement room of the Children's library. The attic work at the library is still not complete, making our usual upper room un-useable. Today, we knit in the basement. On those itty, bitty children's chairs. But hey! Who cares? It's knitting. It's laughter. It's fun.

First up, Tanya's Fish Hat. Look. Done enough to actually see the 'fish'. Way to go Tanya!
She has switched from circular to double pointed needles for this last, narrow bit of knitting. A great opportunity to poke her eye out with 8 different points, she said.

Ingrid was knitting today. She had some hand surgery a few weeks ago
which kept her from knitting for ten!!! days. She said you don't realize how much of a part of your life it is until you can't do it for ten days. But she's back at it now.
This is a sleeve - take four and final take - Ingrid said, for a new tunic top she' knitting.

Sharon has been busy making scarves with her other hobby. Weaving. I know, I know. Who would ever think a knitter needs a second hobby? But Sharon weaves AND knits. Beautiful scarves, Sharon.

Nicki arrived wearing her 'origami' top. She and Bonnie both knit this sweater and both struggled to understand how to put together. Finally sewn up, it looks good, Nicki. Very 'today'.

Nicki also brought her lovely fairisle work.
The knitting is exquisite, the colours beautiful. A lovely project, Nicki.

Christie's black and blue mittens were finished last night. They look great so I took them to knit group to be admired before mailing. So anxious to catch the 4 pm mailing deadline, I forgot to take a picture of them. Dang! Hopefully, Christie will send me one.

It doesn't seem to matter where they put us. Upper room, basement or kick us out entirely, we always have fun at knit group.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Changing Plans

Back in January, I started a vest with my Noro stash.
Noro being Noro, that is yarn with wonderful bands of colour - read exquisitely variegated yarn - I looked for a pattern, or at least a vision, that would create vertical-ness to the striping. Sure, many in the world knit Noro normally and it looks fabulous. But I kept seeing those ribbons of colour going 'up' rather than across my body. I found this pattern on the 'net' and ordered it.

As I mentioned in the above-linked post, the pattern is a bit hoky. It's also for a sweater that starts at the cuff, but I'm knitting a vest. That meant I had to search for an appropriate starting point and could only guess that I had found it. I knit about 5 inches on the vest and couldn't 'see' it happening. So it's been resting for a week or two.

On the weekend, having run out of black yarn for Christie's mittens, I did some virtual knitting through blogs and ravelry and somewhere on my tour, saw reference to this pattern.

How perfect is that for a vertically striped vest? Lion Brand # 1168. Still available. Still free on their web site. In fact it's available in two yarn weights. Sport and chunky. Mind you, neither weight is my weight, but that problem I can solve.

I have changed my plans. I'm excited. That pattern will have my Noro performing exactly as I envisioned.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Green Again

Having run out of black yarn for Christie's mittens, and tired of acres of stockinet stitch for my pumpkin pie pullover, I did what my Mother would have been disappointed to see me do. I started yet another project before finishing my previous one. Previous two actually.

A Felted Bucket Hat from Chicknits. Fred and I had a short road trip this morning and what better thing to do in the passenger's seat than knit? I cast on and got this much finished before we returned home.
Can you guess who gets this hat? Your clue? It's green. If you guessed, 'no one but Brenda wears this shade of green', you're right. The hat is for me!! Not particularly pretty in hats, I might, I think, look not too bad in this one. It's the face-framing brim that kicks up the style quotient and makes it a hat I can I think I can wear. And of course the colour suits me well.

Friend Nicki, often suggests to me that I should enlarge my colour range -wear colours from outside my colour comfort zone. Although her nagging encouragement hasn't yet put me in blue or pink, it at least makes me question my colour choices. And I've come to the conclusion, that I fall somewhere between a woman who knows what looks good and flatters, and a woman in a rut. Your opinions not required. Thanks just the same.

Since I have this lovely piece of 'black coat art' -
the green again hat should look just fine.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Weekend's Worth

A weekend's worth of knitting can easily produce a great pair of Chimera mittens. These mittens knit up very quickly - a puzzle to me. Being a double layer, they are actually the better part of two pairs of mittens, yet they knit up quickly. There is something about that layering that is motivational.

Niece Christie, Katie's sister - that's Katie of the red hat and red & black Chimera mittens - requested 'texting' mittens. Yes, you heard that right. Another request. I think, so far, I'm up to four for 2011. A record!

Christie: "Aunt Brenda, could you knit me texting mittens too? I could pay for the yarn"

Me: Masking my extreme delight at another request so as not to appear too dorky
"Sure. I'd love too, and you don't have to pay for the yarn. It will be a gift."

Christie: With a big grin. "Thanks Aunt Brenda."

Me: "Do you want the same pattern as Katie's mittens?"

Christie: Again, with a big grin. "Yes, please."

Me: "And what colour would you like?"

Christie: "Blue and black, please."

Me: "OK, blue and black it is. "

Christie: With another big grin "Thanks, Aunt Brenda. Are you sure you don't want me to pay for the yarn?"

Don't you love 14 year old girls?

Wednesday at work, I picked up the blue yarn but no black. I had lots of black left over from both Katie's mittens and 'Sis' hat.

And my weekend's knitting produced mitten number one.
And then this.

But no more than that, because of this.
Not enough black yarn. My weekend's worth of knitting could have produced the mittens. But only if this knitter had been smart enough to purchase sufficient yarn. The good news is that with the extra black yarn and the leftover blue, I will probably have enough to knit Christie a matching hat. Another weekend's knitting and hopefully another of those delightful big grins.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why These Thoughts?

There is no reason for these thoughts to cross my mind today. If I try to imagine why they are filling my head, I can only come up with this.

Dad's early morning routine for years now has been to rise at 6am and head to the gym. A few days ago, while there, he fell. The doctor sent him to emerg, for ex-rays. He's OK. No broken bones and was told to take Tylenol and grin. A diagnosis Dad loved.

My thoughts began when he told me that on his trip to emerg, he was wearing the 'Unity' sweater I knit for him several years ago and while at the hospital, received two compliments on the sweater. The 'Unity' sweater was knit during the 1995 'separation' crisis. The one when
Prime Minister Chretien said 50% plus one will be the number that decides if Quebec will separate. Dad went to Montreal to join the thousands that demonstrated against separation and I knit him a 'Unity' sweater. A large, blue Fleur de Lis on the front surrounded by several small, red, maple leaves. A large, red, maple leaf on the back, surrounded by several small blue Fleur de Lis. He loves it.

My thoughts strayed further. Thinking about that time of Canadian unity crisis, reminded me of Dad's friend, a lawyer. 'Bernie the attorney' he liked to call himself. While all of Canada waited for the tallying of the vote, Bernie told the story of having telephoned the one and only Quebec family he knew, to ask them to vote no to separation.

Bernie knew this family because many years prior their son had come to Ontario to find work. While here, he was involved in a hunting accident in which another hunter lost his life. Murder charges were laid and Bernie was asked to represent this young man. Pro Bono, I imagine, although I don't know that for sure. Bernie felt strongly that the fatality was the result of an accident and argued so. Bernie won the case and the young man returned to Quebec to his family.

Years and years later, during the separation crisis, Bernie dug out the telephone number for this family and called them. Bernie said he started the conversation by giving them his name and asking them if they remembered who he was. In their broken English, they said of course they remembered. How could they forget? This man had saved their son.

Bernie said " I'm calling to ask you to vote 'no' to separation."

"No need to ask, Mr. Bernie. That's what we intend to do."

Bernie passed away this past fall and it makes me wonder. Will Canada ever see another generation of men such as Bernie and Dad?

All this - these thoughts - because 16 years ago, I knit my father a sweater and he wears it still.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Today, knit group was relocated to Gail's house as work was being done at the library. Gail lives in the last house before the harbour and this is the scene that greeted me as I parked my car.
The bright blue of Georgian Bay and the sail boats tinkling in the breeze. Could we knit outdoors?

Indoors was good too, though.

Bonnie was wearing one of her 'first-ever-for-me' sweaters. Perfect fit. Proud knitter.
Adorned with a curly scarf made from the yarn that curls itself and is all the rage this winter.
Several in our group have made these scarves and despite the gorgeous finished product, none liked working with the yarn. Too fiddly is the complaint.

Sharon has started a 'high-class' Nimbus using Fleece Artist. Oh to have Sharon's stash.
Wilma too has started a Nimbus in a deep, rich red. (There's that anti- mid-winter-blahs colour again.) What do you call two Nimbus? Nimbi?

Doreen, made a gorgeous cowl and hat. Red again.

She says she's had many covet the hat but she's only offering up the pattern. The hat is hers to stay.

Gail's neighbour, Ruth, joined us today. Turns out she's a darn good knitter too. Lovely sweater, Ruth.

Tanya, despite a heavy weekend in the USA where she was taking a course managed to get a few rounds knit on her Fish Hat.

And, she brought Red Velvet Cupcakes to the party.
I believed her when she said she made them herself and asked her to be my daughter- in- law. Turns out she bought the cupcakes, so she thinks she's off the hook.

Another fun day with food and yarn. What's not to love?