Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inherited Genius

Yesterday's mail brought an anxiously-awaited package.  A copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Circular Stranded Surprise Jacket.
I first saw the Stranded Surprise Jacket on ravelry - in both adult and child sizes.  I was captivated.

I saw colour work.  And a second look had me saying the "Oh Yea.  This version is not garter stitch." I was  Captivated.  A must-have pattern for me that just might take the rude approach and jump the queue.

The adaptation from Elizabeth's garter stitch version was done by her grand son Cully.  Meg Swansen's son.  Isn't that every knitter's dream?  Not only a daughter following in your footsteps but a grand son as well? 

But how did he do it?  We all know that garter stitch produces a square stitch and it is the squareness of it that enabled Elizabeth to create the Surprise Jacket.  As Cully says on the pattern front, garter stitch, with it's squareness  was  'an enabler of EZ's most recognized design, the Baby Surprise Jacket.'

Cully goes on to explain how he and Meg played with the square feature to enable the pattern to evolve into a design that could be knit in stranded, stockinette stitch.  He says
  'Meg Swansen discovered that the use of a square, diagonal colour pattern in Stocking stitch will produce a fabric with equal stitch and row gauge.  I was inspired - why not apply this to EZ's Surprise jacket?  It seemed obvious to me that the initial cast-on row of the BSJ could be joined with a steek and worked in the round, and I soon saw that the neck edge and lower flap could be handled in the same way.  ......  With steeks and the square nature of a biased ( diagonal) stranded pattern, the circular adaptation of the BSJ can retain the shape, construction, and mystery of the Garter stitch version."
I quote you all that , not so  that you will instantly understand what he says,  or  what he has done or how he constructs the CSSJ, but rather that you will see the genius he possesses.  The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.  He has  his Grandmother's genius in spades.  Three generations.  Knitters are blessed to have been and to be, still, led by such people.  Thanks, Cully.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Frolic 2013

Saturday was the annual Knitters Frolic  in Toronto.  As with  September's  Knitters Fair in Kitchener, this event is  the work of the local Knitters' Guild.  Toronto's  Downtown Knit Collective is the group behind the Frolic and by the crowds in the hall, I would say 2013 was another successful year for their Frolic.

I took with me, four knitters that I meet with weekly to coach through their knitting issues. Is it not my duty to introduce new knitters to such events?  Pay it forward, so to speak.    Over and over I heard them saying things like  'Overwhelming.  WOW!   I would have never  imagined...    Such fun to take the uninitiated to a show like the Frolic.

We shopped together but I managed to acquire only these few items  - two new shawl patterns by Cabin Fever  and a ball of Cotton Tweed for a baby sweater -

before it was time to leave my 'students'  to meet up with some blogger friends.  

Marie, Sandra and her blogless friend Susan.  We chatted non-stop for an hour, before I had to call an end to the fun for fear my group might think I had abandoned them.

Knitters are not known for an early quit, so on the way home from Toronto, we stopped at True North Yarns in Barrie and there I scooped another deal on their 25% off sale.

 This is Raffaella by Sirdar.  A cotton/acrylic blend that I will use to knit another Cinnie.
I loved knitting and wearing last year's green Cinnie
and decided  it made sense to knit another in a more neutral colour.

I came home tired, happy to have gone to another Frolic, happy to seen some blogger friends, happy to have introduced another group of knitters to a great knitting event and - with only minimal  purchases - still money in my pocket.  Great day, I'd say.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What's Happening Today?

 What's happening today?

The clues are laid out on my bed.

A carry bag

my tummy, money purse,

my comfy shoes,

 and my list.

Why, it must be Knitter's Frolic day.  See you all in Toronto.  And if not, I'll show you my purchases on Monday.   

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursdays Are for Knit Group

Today in our area, we ran the weather gamut from wind, rain, a bit of snow and cool, cool temperatures.  No wonder we knit.  It keeps us sane.

Well, some of us are sane.  Doreen showed us a scarf she knit for her Church bazaar.  The yarn was given to her by a Church friend.  6 balls of yarn to be exact.  One scarf  per ball.

Only 5 more to go, Doreen.

Nell who we haven't seen in quite some time, came today.  She is crocheting lovely pink and white strips for a baby blanket.

She said to me   "I am going to have another great, grand child.  I don't know why  - I have so many already."  Well, Nell, I guess you forgot to tell the younger couple that you had enough.  Anyway, the blanket will be lovely.

Gail arrived today wearing one of last summer's knits.

A gorgeous scarf.  Beaded by hand all around the edge.

Ingrid arrived wearing a gorgeous piece.  Knit long ago she said.
The sleeves are knit on the diagonal and the original intent was for an entirely different style of garment.  When that didn't work out, Ingrid converted the piece to a shrug then kicked it up a notch with the extreme double ruffle.  Beautiful, Ingrid.

I have  had other picture to show you, including one of Sandy B's cute 3 year old grandson that joined us for knitting time with a favourite movie on his personal, mini, movie screen and several baggies of snacks packed by nanny.  But,  Blogger is in a bad mood.  I've been very patient, trying last night and twice this morning to upload more pictures, but that feature is on strike, I guess.   I've managed  only this few, but am calling it quits.  I am sending Blogger to it's room with admonition to rejoin society once it has decided to behave.  Let's see if that works.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

8 Months 'Til Christmas

Christmas is 8 moths from today.  Which means it should be spring here in Ontario.  But the season is stalled.

This is what I see on my patio table this morning.

Stalled describes  my knitting is as well.  The sock and I were too busy running errands for Dad on our visit to make any headway towards completion.  Not one stitch.

My Modified Mothed sees hours of knitting each evening - but with the fine, lace-weight yarn, it sure doesn't show.

I need the air to warm up, the sun to shine, and some bulky yarn to appear on my needles.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Cleaning

It must be spring.  I am in the 'get rid of it' mood that strikes me from year to year.  This time it is the printed word in my yarn room.

I have  had knitting magazines galore.  Some   date back a decade or more.  Some  have great patterns in them.  But I had to speak sternly to myself to say  " If you haven't knit that garment in the last ten years, what are the chances of knitting it in the next ten?"  

Add to that the fact that ravelry and other Internet options are  now  my  primary  and favourite source of pattern inspiration, and it was definitely time to divest myself of my magazines.  There were a few issues that made the cut and a few  individual patterns that I saved.  But for the most part -  gone! 
I will offer the discards to knitters I know and what they don't take will be donated to the local second-hand store.  Someone, I'm sure, will be happy to have them, and  I am happy to have cleared my shelves.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Not So Freezing Friday

 Last Friday, trying to drive to my dad's for an overdue visit, I was thwarted by the weather.  Today, although totally lacking in sunshine, at least offers dry roads for the 3 hour trip.

The travelling sock is going with me. 

 It is making the journey inside it's lovely new travel bag. 
Gifted to me  by a fellow blogger, a couple of months back when my Dad was so seriously ill, as an expression of her concern.  Warm and caring thoughts and a  lovely bag, complete with my name on it.  I know the best bloggers. 

A doctor, would most likely say that  Dad's health is not that good.  It takes little to cause him to be  out of breath or tired.  But  - he is happy in his new home, walks each day - 'to get his excercise' - and is enjoying his scooter once again, now that the snow has disappeared.  He goes out to lunch occasionally and even managed a trip to Toronto for son #2's art show.  He has accepted his new stage of life and new home with a graciousness that is a lesson to his children.  Both the sock and I are looking forward to the visit. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursdays Are For knit Group

I entered the library on an 8' spring day and came out to 25' summer heat and humidity.  Yet by Saturday it is supposed to be 0'.  While the weather might be inconsistent, we can depend on the knitting.

Sandy B with her Florida stock of Linen yarns

 is creating this wonderful piece.

Something I could never wear, but it will look great on Sandy.

Remember the cutest-ever kid's sock, Carol was working on last week?  Number one is finished.

Cute Cute Cute.  In the end, she says she changed her cuff to 48 stitches increasing to  66 stitiches when she started the sock itself.

For Doreen's children who like to see her smile.  Doreen has waited all winter for our mitred-square expert, Sandy B, to return from Florida to help her with her scarf.
You are a patient woman, Doreen.

Bonnie's approval rating for her knitting projects is certainly no secret.  First puzzles then smiles.  From "Is this sock too long?"

to - "It looks just right  -   for someone with a longer foot."

Deanna is almost finished her poncho.


That is one heck of a lot of stockinet, Deanna.  A perfect project for the machine,which is how I would knit it,  but Deanna's is entirely hand knit.

Remember this lovely cardigan Gail was working on last week?

It is finished, gorgeous and luckily fits me!  Too bad Gail's grand daughter knows it is coming her way. 

Gail took votes on the buttons.  I prefer the blue. 

Another great afternoon of knitting with a  "Hi guys" message arriving on Wilma's new iPad  from Sharon who is in England for 3 weeks.  Bet she misses us.  Even with our weird weather.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thinking Green

If I think green, and knit green, it might make spring  come  finally,  to my neck of the woods.  It sure couldn't hurt.  The lingering, winter weather is the talk  of the town - and nothing favourable is being said.

I am doing my green part.  First my travelling sock.
One finished and the second one started.  Of course travelling is done for awhile, so these might not be spring 2013 socks.

Also green and on the working needles now is a version of Mothed

It is a slightly different Mothed from what the pattern describes.  It's not the same yarn.  It's not the same gauge. It's not the same neck trim.   There will not be  flared sleeves and I am diverting from the pattern to  put the 'mothy' holes over the entire sweater, not just the sleeves.  Not withstanding those exceptions, I am calling it  Mothed -   My Modified Mothed.   Being knit  in green Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Fine  that I salvaged from a disappointing and frustrating attempt at the  Geodesic cardigan.  If spring depended on me finishing Geodesic, we would have another ice age.  Mothed on the other hand, is going fine.

Thinking green, knitting green - probably why the sun came out this afternoon. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekend Repairs

Last fall I placed three sweaters - all needing revision -  on top my dresser.   The first two, being winter garments, I fixed in short order.  The third, my Sitcom Chic Cardi, languished.    But with spring and perfect Sitcom weather soon approaching, I tackled the revisions this weekend.  Thankfully, they worked out faster and easier than I thought they might.

I took Sit Com from this

to this.

In order to do that, I had to remove all trim, meaning a few hours were spent finding ends to un-weave.  Darn, I am so good at that weaving in of ends!

Once I found the ends  starting point, the revisions didn't take too long.  First I lengthened the body by about two inches.  The sweater is modelled as a cropped garment.  But cropped on my 'woman-of-a-certain-age' frame means boxy.  As wide as it is long.  Or as my Mother would have said - 'easier to jump over than walk around'.  Lengthening was in order.  I finished off with with non-curling rows of 2x2 ribbing.

Once that was finished, I tackled the button band trims and re-shaped the top portion of the sweater.  Thanks to a raveller who asked
"Why doesnt' this sweater have a 'V' neck since that is what it always wants to do?"  I began to think of Sitcom  in a new and  improved 'V' neck style.  I could have re-knit the sweater to accomplish this, but instead simply turned under, as facing, the excess fabric to create the new neckline.  I'm all about the easy.

With the new 'V' neck in place, I then put new button bands on the sweater.  Tired of the curling edges - another annoying feature of Sitcom  - I worked several rows of  2x2 ribbing, followed by one knit row before the cast off.  Take that you curling edges.

And thinking the back neck would be too high if I added an inch of trim, I undid the back-neck cast off, with it's tight stitches, and stitched down a scallop of facing there as well. 

It needs washing to complete the spring makeover.  Then, I intend to get much more, or at least much more comfortable,  wear out of this work horse cardi. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Freezing Friday

April 12, yet freezing rain and ice make the day seem more like one in  March than April.  Sane  people  stay indoors.  Me, I had plans to visit my Dad.  In all, with our B.C. vacation  plus previous commitments, it has been several weeks since I have seen Dad.   I planned on being down to his retirement home in time for lunch. 

After 3 hours of driving during which I encountered closed roads, hydro poles broken in half with downed hydro wires being guarded by police, and roads so buried under ice as to be invisible, I arrived - safely, thank goodness - back home.

This is a day to knit, not to drive.  Perhaps I will work on the second sock of the travelling sock pair.

Or maybe I will surf ravelry to find inspiration for the yarn I purchased at  the Beehive Woolshop in Victoria B.C.
Either plan sounds better  saner than driving.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

Back home means back to knit group on a Thursday afternoon.  And other than being on vacation where someone ELSE vacuums my room, makes my bed and prepares my meals, there is no place I'd rather be on Thursdays.

With the bright, background  appearance of these pictures, one would think the sky was sunny today.  But the only place that was sunny was the upper room at the Meaford library with the knitters.

Our returning snowbirds, Sandy B and Carol  looked tan and fit after a winter in Florida and had some interesting knitting.

Sandy  knit sleeper jammies for a little one. 

I think she said something about having had the yarn for 20 years.  That's stash busting.

Carol has the coolest idea for little girls' socks.   Fuzzy Tops, I'd call them.
Despite the poor shot of the sock, just know that it is CUTE!  Using  fuzzy, novelty yarn for the cuff and casting on 36 stitches, she is making short socks.  No leg other than the cuff.  The cuff is knit in the fuzzy yarn, while the rest of the sock is  knit with regular sock yarn.  Cute as can be for a little girl.

Doreen has finally finished the Lopi sweater she offered  was coerced into finishing for her friend.
 I told her not to offer to do another.  Otherwise that 'L' won't stand for Lopi.

Elizabeth Zimmermann is the only other knitter I ever heard of who re-soled hand knit socks.  But look.  Jean does too. 
She starts at the heel with a few stitches, increases on each row until desired width, while at the same time, picking up one side stitch of the existing sole. 

Clever, clever knitter.

Wilma has had Leaflet in her queue for a long time.
Finally she found some Cascade Eco in a colour she loves and Leaflet is well on it's way.  She intends to lengthen the sleeves for a more versatile garment. 

Gail is knitting this  pattern for a grand daughter.

 I have always liked this pattern - ever since our very own Wilma knit it up for a store sample at Purrsonally Yours,  Meaford's LYS.  I like the  increased width between cables at the hips.  Right where women of a certain age need extra width.  A younger lady would appreciate the swing that extra width gives,  so you have a pattern for al ages.  Gail  says with two grand daughters of a fashion-conscious age, she will have to knit two of these sweaters.  Seen here with two sleeves almost complete, it won't take her long.

Two weeks ago Thursday, I was here.
This Thursday, the only hazard was the occasional stray needle.  Fair exchange, I'd say.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Home Again

The thing I find the most difficult about returning home to my normal life after travelling is waiting on myself.  Much  too easily, I  get used to someone making my bed, cleaning my bath, preparing my meals.  Imagine how life must be for the Queen!

We had a wonderful trip and saw some great things.  Here is a short (you will thank me for that as in total there are over 200 photos)  photo review of some of the interesting highlights.

Fred behind bars in the playful jail at our friend's skeet shooting club

Nature's art.  A fallen tree in Cathedral Grove Park on Vancouver Island.

The restaurant at our hotel in Tofino B.C.  On stilts over the water.

The well-known, LYS at Whippletree Junction, south of Duncan B.C.  Didn't buy anything here either.

The postcard-perfect picture of the Sunken Gardens at Butchart Gardens, Victoria B.C.

The gates to China Town in Victoria B.C.

 Ferocious me in front of the woolly mammoth at the Royal B.C. museum in Victoria.

Part of the closing ceremonies at the World Curling Championship Games in Victoria.

Fred at Mile 0 of the trans Canada Highway, steps from  the Pacific Ocean in Victoria B.C.

Each time I visit Victoria and surrounds, I tell myself   "This is my country, my language, my government, my currency, yet still I return to cold, snowy, drab, unleafed, still-brown Ontario.  Why?"