Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Knitting.

The last week before December 25, I was  knitting  a hat and scarf for son #2's girlfriend.  You might remember that I was given specific instructions. Black hat.  Slouchy tam style.  Not a toque, not a  beret  with a sharply-folded crease.  Scarf to be purple. Whew!

 I had purchased two skeins of  deep purple Fresco at Ewe Knit, a lovely, new, yarn store on Markham Street in Toronto.  Very fine weight and a luscious combo of merino, alpaca and angora.  Once the knitting commenced, I soon realized that two skeins would not  a one foot by  seven foot scarf make. 

My first alternative was to toss the Fresco and haul out my purple Lamb's Pride Worsted,  leftover from Vignette.  Only 3 or 4 starts later, did I realize that nothing I was knitting spoke to me.  Nothing I tried seemed 'haute' enough for son #2's  lovely Lady of Spain.

Ravelry to the rescue.  There I spotted Ridge & Furrow Scarf.  It appealed to me   - a lot.  But not being totally purple, would it appeal to the Lady of Spain?  The pattern suggested using 19 colours in addition to the main colour.  Main colour, in my case, to be purple.   In my vast stash, I could only find 14 colours that appealed to me and looked good with the purple.  So 14 it was.  The scarf is gorgeous.

 It is one of those stitch patterns that look good on both the right and wrong sides.

The hat was opened first and was declared to be "Just what I wanted."  Then came the scarf.  My pre-amble to the opening was that if she didn't like it, my feelings would not be hurt.  But Lady of Spain loved it!  Of course, my camera was buried at the bottom of my suitcase.  Peter did take a couple of shots  with Lady wearing the scarf and if he remembers to send me one, I'll post it on ravelry.

PS - Peter loved his Nifty Shade of Grey scarf too.  He, Lady and I  went for a post-dinner, late-night walk along Toronto's harbour front, all wearing Brenda-knit scarves and hats. A great Christmas gift to me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

Many thanks to all of you  who emailed or commented to express your concerns  and best wishes for my Dad's health.  After a week in the hospital, he is now home and - IMO- recovering nicely.  Dad, however, is much more impatient to return to his former life and if asked how he feels will answer
" Not very damn good."   But to Fred and I he seems stronger each day.

We are just home now from spending a few days with him over Christmas.  It was the most relaxed and stress-free Christmas I have ever had.  Dad napped, Fred read and I knit.  Salmon fillets and salad for dinner.  We did have a Christmas Cake Contest for our Christmas Dinner Dessert.  Unlabelled, on each person's plate, were two pieces of cake:  One piece of my fruit cake and one  piece from  my friend Marie's  fruit cake.  Two out of three voted for Marie's cake.  Guess I gotta' get that recipe.

Here  is Dad, in his own home where he still lives by himself, this morning emptying the dishwasher for the first time, post attack.
 I see by this picture that he relocated the hand towel.  Guess I didn't put it where it belongs.

And here he is at the table with Fred.
On the mend, I'd say.  He figures he will never again  walk from Union Station to the Rex on Queen St and never again cross the border.  But he said "That's OK.  30 or 40 trips to New Orleans is enough."

He has already asked about going to a Jays game next summer and thinks he might enjoy a trip to the Magdelene Islands with his friend.  And as we said good bye this morning, he was settling  in to read a book about President Andrew Jackson on his Kobo.  Go Dad!

Thanks again to all of you for your kind attention.  A belated Merry Christmas to you all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Last knit group of 2012.  Where did that time go?  By all appearances, I am the only knitter of the group with yet unfinished Christmas gifts to knit. 

Carol finished this wonderful tunic for her daughter. 
 Knit with King Cole Riot, it is a fun and very  current piece that will look great with leotards.

Wilma gave up on the lace tam she was ripping last week (it was one of those lace patterns that has a different stitch count on every row in the repeat.  A bit much to try to knit during the pre-Christmas rush.)   Instead she knit these.
 A hat and mittens combo she will gift to her daughter.  Knit in a fancy,  acrylic for the laundry- challenged offspring, they  look lovely. 

Sharon's knitting life has been filled with felting, she said.  This was the only piece that was dry enough to bring to knitting today. 
So cute!  This is the Felted Gift Bag from  One Skein Wonders.

 Next door to our knitting room at the library there was a young girl sewing.  Apparently - in their spare time, I'm sure - the librarians run a 'crafts' club for kids.  This term the topic was sewing.  Here is a 13 year old with her first sewing project.  This, I think,  is called a rag quilt.  The seams are left on the outside and the quilt is washed before use to fluff up the unfinished edges.  First project!  Very impressive.


Several at knit group today, including Gail who left a sick husband,  had left sick loved ones at home.  Part way through the afternoon, Gail got chilled.  Wanting to stay as healthy as possible so as not to catch  whatever might be ailing her hubby, she wrapped up in her scarf and mitts.  Thank goodness for hand knits!
Hard to knit that way, though, Gail.

Jean was sporting a great curly scarf. 

A 'teach myself to crochet' project she said.  I'd say you are a quick study, Jean.  Beginning with a chain, she kept increasing the number of stitches, changed colours a couple of times and even added a bit of sparkle to the outside edge.  Very nice.

With the library closed next Thursday, it will be 2013 when knit group reconvenes.  I wonder what wonders - one skein or otherwise -  we will see then.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Best Laid Plans

Last Wednesday, my 92 year old, jazz-loving, suffer-no-fools, take-no-prisoners, bullet-proof, (we thought)  father suffered a heart attack.

Although still in intensive care, he is doing remarkably well considering his age.  The doctor commented on his unusual strength for a 92 year old and asked if he had been to be a farmer.  The answer is yes.    "Dang!  I knew I should have been a farmer," was the doctor's response.  He said that  in his rural practise, he has many elderly men of considerable strength and they have all been farmers. 

Dad's career as a farmer was followed by a career in Real Estate and throughout both and into retirement he has been a strong believer of exercise.  In fact, for a  couple of days prior to the heart attack, he had been short of breath.  He was disgusted with himself for being so out of shape and  decided to do extra exercises to get into better shape.  Bet that didn't help the situation.

Yesterday he asked the doctor to write a letter to his fitness guru so his exercises can be properly tailored to his new condition.

Our plans for the season, have now, of course, changed.  Christmas dinner?  Who knows.  Gift exchange? Who knows.  Blogging?  Sporadic, I''m sure.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

This time of year means lots of food.  Today, the knitters began their knitting with lunch at a local cafe.  After all, what 's the season for if not for eating?

Direct from the cafe, we headed to the library to the other thing we love best - knitting.

Sandy B arrived home from Florida for Christmas break  in time to head to the library for knit group.  Perfect timing Sandy.  She had with her lots of Florida knitting for  'show & tell'.

First up was her lace project.  The yarn cost her a fortune.  She took a very expensive lace-knitting class. She had to lock herself in a room listening to only classical music in order to concentrate on the work.  But it is done!  Only problem is, Sandy B doesn't like the end result.

Doesn't her posture say it all?  Square look, or pointy look?

 Which shall it be, Sandy?

 Carol tried to show her that it would look lovely over black.

 Nicki showed her that grey would work too.

 She is still not convinced but promised to re-block it and wear it once.  Over something black and as Carol pointed out, not freshly wrinkled from a 24 hour drive. 

Then there was her other poncho. 

This one knit with Noro and the pattern from the Noro Accessories book.  Sandy favours this one.

Doreen knit a cowl. 

A honkin' big cowl.  Can't say I have ever seen on this big, Doreen.  She doesn't like her piece either.

Wilma spent her time ripping back the lace tam she is knitting. 

Lace isn't the most-love type of  knitting here in Meaford, it would appear.

Seasonal time pressures seem to disappear when we get to knit group.   For the afternoon, we forget the rushing and the job list and just relax with our needles.  what could bet better?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meticulous Filing My Foot!

Ha!  The joke is on me.  I pride myself on what I call, my meticulous  system of pattern filing.  Or, at least, until yesterday, I did.

But Monday evening, I couldn't find the  pattern  I wanted to use for the scarf I intended to knit for  the woman in son #2's life.   That gift exchange takes place December 22nd.   10 days from now, in case you haven't checked the calendar.

Yesterday morning then, it was with a sense of panic that I started the search for the One Row Reversible Scarves pattern.  Instinct - sharp cookie, me,  said that the most likely spot for the pattern to be hiding was the yarn room so that is where I started my search.

Storing yarn with it's intended pattern, together in a bag, is a great system.  I do that.  As proof, here is my bag of Galway Chocolate intended for my Must Have Cardi.   
Digression -in my case the pattern is  more accurately called the Maybe Want This Cardi   as I have had the pattern since publication and the yarn for at least 2 years.   

Shock.  Shock.  When I checked the back side of the bag, I saw a filing error. 

"Might as well correct that mistake right now", I thought as I removed the papers from the bag.  Ooh!  Look what poked  out from between the Skull Cap papers.

 The sure-tell corner of a London Yarns  pattern.  "YIPPEE!!!  I found it!"  But no.  It was my other favourite scarf pattern.  Dang. 

I kept searching.  The bookcase,  The files of leaflet patterns.  The books.  The bags of yarn- again.  Take a break, I thought.  ReconnoitreBut, while breaking, might as well correctly file those misplaced patterns.  Luckily,  when  I picked up the Other favourite scarf pattern, I turned it over.

AHA! Favourite Scarf  Pattern.  Found.  Two scarf patterns in one container.  Nicely filed, Brenda.  In the bag of chocolate Galway intended for a  cardi.  Poorly filed, Brenda. But at least found.  Scarf was cast on before mid-day.

There has only been one rip so far.  The scarf must be 12 inches wide.  I estimated the number of 'multiple of 4' stitches for cast-on to arrive at the desired width but I miscalculated.  By about 2 inches.  "Too  much of a discrepancy," said Fred.

Rip, repeat and now, including time out for 2 Christmas get-togethers I have 5 inches.
 I need 84.  79 inches to go.  9 days to knit.  One day to block.  Lots of  inches per day.  Gotta go.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Knitting

Stop the needles!  Put personal knitting on hold.  The big day is fast approaching.  And there has been a request for handknitted gifts.

Son #2,  after a l-o-n-g hiatus, has a  woman in his life.  And this will be our first Christmas with her.  I asked Peter if she liked hand knits and the answer came back "Yes!"  With a codicil.  Peter reminded me that she comes from Spain, has a haute sense of fashion and does not like anything that might be construed as hippie, peasant-like or crudely crafted.  O.K. then.

The request was for a hat and  scarf.  A  French, beret-style hat in black.  No little 'tag' on top and in slouchy fashion rather than  with a  precisely-pressed  fold.  O.K. then.    The hat - I think  - is finished.  Knit with Paton's Classic, chosen because, before I learned of the slouchy factor, I had thought to felt it.  Following Elizabeth Zimmermann's guidelines but knit top down, I first gave it 4 inches of slouch.  But when I tried it on, it drowned me.  The woman-in-his-life is quite petite  -she would be dead in the water.    So I ripped back for a 3 inch slouch and think it is much better. 

No chance that I will convert to this colour, Nicki.  Black suits 'Teddy' much more  than it suits me.

Now on to the scarf.  Purple is the colour specified along with the dimensions of  one foot by seven feet.  Yikes!

I have a wonderful booklet of One Row Scarf Patterns.  Purchased at London Yarns, it contains 14!!! different, one-row patterns.  With only one row  to memorize, the patterns  are perfect for  fast-approaching-deadline  knits.  Last night my goal was to study the 14  selections and choose one  to knit.  But dang, despite my - I thought -  meticulous filing system,  I cannot find the pattern.  I looked as hard as the late-night hour would allow and could not find it anywhere.  This morning I intend to scour the house.  I will give it until noon.  If not found by then, Plan B - whatever that might be - will have to be put into action.  Wish me luck.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Have You Been A Good Girl?

At our recent family Christmas, Dad's friend Dorothy was not the winner of my 'much-fought-over' Hat and Infinity Scarf.    In an earlier post I mentioned that the knitter in me  couldn't resist her sitting on my lap, Santa-style,  asking me to knit an Infinity Scarf and Hat  for her.  I asked her if she had been a good girl. No, I didn't.  I know Dorothy well - good is an understatement.  Instead, I asked her what colour she might like but was  told colour didn't mater.

Dorothy is a woman not afraid of excess when it comes to fashion.  Whether that  be over-the- top style or colour, Dorothy wears it well.  So I chose a fun ball of James Brett Marble Chunky in shades of bright pink. 

Pattern:  My own.  But hopefully available soon, on Patternfish.
Yarn:  James Brett Marble Chunky
Needles:  6.5mm
The hat starts with fewer stitches but increases 10% after the ribbing to give the hat a bit of a slouch.  Looks better on me that way, so I'm betting it will look better on Dorothy that way too.   The scarf is perfect navel-grazing length for petites like Dorothy and myself  but does wrap, twice, comfortably around the neck  to make a great, high-fashion, wind-stopping cowl  for frigid, winter days.

Surprisingly,  since it is not green, I am amazed to say -"I like this colour on me."  Nicki - have you opened my mind?

My friend Nicki tells me often that I need to expand my colour palette.  She might be right.  If  Dorothy hadn't sat on my lap, this might be mine.  Instead it will go to Mr. Post today and hopefully get delivered before the big day.  Wear it in fun and good health, Dorothy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Word must be spreading about the fun we have on Thursday afternoons in the upper room of the Meaford library because today there were so many knitters we needed two rows of chairs around the table.  Just like in Church, some knitters  headed for the back pew row of chairs.

Sharon, wearing her Shalom,  finished her Noro Mistake Rib scarf.  The colours are glorious - especially great against her new, red coat  -  
 which you will just have to imagine as I didn't capture the coat in the photo.

Nicki again is up to her teaching tricks.  Here she shows 'newby' Pat how to drop spindle spin.

Gail has one Christmas gift finished and stroked off her to-knit list.  This pair of socks, displayed so nicely against Carol's bright red coat.   
Honkin' big socks I said. 

Doreen arrived wearing her latest scarf.  The scarf colours look great with the coat.
 "Yes, that's why I bought this yarn" said Doreen.  Of course.

Newby Pat showed off her ear-warmers, knit with a front-peak opening  to accommodate a baseball cap.

 Ingenious, n'est-ce pas?

Nell is most definitely our crochet queen.  I have wrapped her in one of her colourful lap rugs and she is working on another. 
The latest one looks like the American Flag I thought.

A nice picture of Nicki with her cabled hat - especially for her Mom in B.C.  Merry Christmas Vera 

A few weeks ago at Knit  Group, Gloria gave away some no-longer-loved yarn.  Sharon took home a bag of 'rail-road' yarn and brought it back today - all knit up into a beautiful scarf for Gloria. 
 That's Christmas spirit, knitter style, I'd say.

Carol's daughter is the lucky girl who will get this hand knit tunic.  Perfect topper for leotards.
 If that is for December 25th, Carol, there won't be much sleep at your house.

Lots of fun, laughter and chatter today.  Oh - and knitting too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nifty Idea

Last June, while  on a road trip with a group of knitters, I learned a nifty, helpful tip.  One of the stops on our day of yarning was  Philosophers Wool.  Eugene and Anne Bourgeois, gracious hosts, gave us a grand tour and showed us many of their colourful  knits.

Eugene, himself, was knitting a multi-coloured,  'leftovers' sweater with several, small balls of wool.  I didn't recognize it as a sweater, though, because, with a closed bottom, it looked more like a bag.  Puzzled over what the finished item might be, I questioned him.  He assured me it was a sweater.

"But you have sewed together the bottom" I said.

"Yes, he replied.  "It creates a bag to hold my yarn while I knit."

Now isn't that clever! No balls rolling around the floor.  No balls getting lost under cushions or played with by curious animals.  Clever indeed!

It has been that long, though, since I have knit a sweater in the round but at the  moment I have one on my needles. 

Some running stitches were all it took to create my sweater cum yarn carrier.  

Since this is one of those fine-yarn, large-gauge sweaters where it is so, so, so easy to drop stitches, I have also found that the yarn bag is a god place to store my too-often-needed  crochet hook.

Clever.  Thanks, Eugene.

Monday, December 3, 2012

All I want For Christmas . . .

No front teeth wanted here.  Last weekend was my family Christmas get-together.  For several  years now, we have down played the gift-giving aspect of the get-together and instead have an entertaining,  gift  - for want of a better word - fight.

Each person brings a $10 -$15 gift, suitable for themselves.  That is, as an adult female, I am to bring a gift suitable for an adult female.  That way, there are gifts suitable for each person in the room.  The gifts arrive wrapped and are placed on the coffee table.  Guests names are drawn, one by one.  When a name is called, the person can either pick a wrapped - and therefore unknown entity -  gift from the coffee table or 'steal' an already-opened gift from someone whose name was called earlier.

  If  a person has their gift stolen, they are now, of course,  gift-less.  They then  can steal someone else's  gift or choose another unknown one from the coffee table.  The only rule is that one cannot immediately steal back the same gift. 

Each year there are a few, very popular, and oft-stolen gifts.  I aim for that category when I select my purchase.

My gift this year, following the very successfully fought-for purple scarf of Christmas 2011, was  the Red Infinity Scarf and Hat.  As hoped, it was passed back and forth quite a few times.

Dad's friend Dorothy went for it every time her lap emptied.  But in the end, it went to one of my sisters.

At that point, Dorothy came and sat on my lap and in a mocking, whiny kid's voice said    "Santa..."

 How could  a knitter resist an appeal like that?  So another Infinity Scarf and Hat are in the works.
Not quite finished over the weekend, but certainly it will be  finished in time to tuck into Miss Dorothy's stocking before Christmas.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Great Knitterly Happening

It is true what doctors say about aging  - recovery takes longer.  Last weekend, we spent four days feasting and  visiting with friends and family.  Arriving home too tired and  too disorganized to blog, I am just now getting back to routine.

I am glad though that I was back to routine enough by Wednesday to attend a great, local,  knitterly event.  Meaford library routinely hosts 'author talks'.  Living in an area much sought after by retirees means many, highly-educated, experts-in-their-field, even world-famous people now call this area home.  And because they are retired they  give of their knowledge, time  and expertise for little or no monetary compensation.

Thus, in the library's series of author talks, I have listened to an author who wrote for the New York Times, one who had his own TV show, one who wrote for the Toronto Star, one who worked for the CBC, one who is a syndicated columnist and the list goes on.

But the best - for knitterly greatness - was the author we heard last Wednesday.  The library hosted Deb Gemmell.  Her topic was "What Can You Do With A Basic Top- Down?"

 The crowd begins to gather.

 Deb likes to encourage the inner designer in all of us.  With  samples to illustrate,  she walked us through the process of taking a basic pattern and re-designing it to something entirely our own. 
Beginning with  little, baby steps that began with colour changes or  trim changes and leading up to more complicated changes like inserting lace or cables and learning how to adapt the stitch count  for those changes, she dispelled the myth that patterns must be knit as written.  We learned   that changing a pattern is not difficult or to be feared.

She showed us the Chunky adult sweater that used the same pattern  numbers as the  fine-yarn, baby sweater.    And finally she showed us the miracle of bust darts.  Deb's own un-vention for easy, hidden, no-short-rows-required, bust darts. It was amazing to see how much better the fit  when  ladies' sweaters have more room in the front!  Now why did that take so long to figure out?

Following the talk, we followed Deb over to Purrsonally Yours, Meaford's LYS.  There, generous Isabel had laid out trays of crackers and cheese and fruit with dip. 
Deb opened her second trunk of samples and we had fun trying on sweaters. 

What a great day!  Thank you Meaford Library and thank you Deb.