Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Something Totally Different

Something I didn't count on when I was finishing the Spring Celebration Wrap was the question of "What next?".   It's sort of like finishing a really good and engaging book; I was at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

But that didn't last long.  I've been hankering after a pair of fingerless mitts for most of the winter and I finally had some time to knock out a pair.  I had a ball of wool from my stash that I quite liked but was having trouble figuring out how to use.  This is Autumn Flame from Sweetgeorgia Yarns.

I found a simple pair of mitts on Ravelry called Chillchasers by Shannita Williams and they were perfect.  They were simple to make (only took 48 hours), long enough to cover my wrist and lower arm,

had a thumb that was worked into the design

and had something new for me to learn.  You see - I've never learned how to do an I-cord.  For 13 years or so, I've managed to dodge it.  Do you ever take an irrational dislike to something?  I did - to i-cords.  And I decided I was going to correct it.

The I cord, as you can see was easy enough to learn but ironically, in this case, I don't think it works.  I wore these at work today and the binding around the fingers was just a wee bit to firm.  I would have preferred a looser edge to allow more movement of fingers.  Perhaps next time.  Right now, I'm still marvelling that something so simple could do such a great job of keeping me warm in a cool office.

However, having finished them so fast, I'm back where I was.  What next?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Spring Celebration Wrap

This was a long time in the making but now that it's done, I think it was worth the effort.  I bought the yarn, and I think the pattern as well, on my last birthday.  August 11.  I worked away at this until sometime in October when one of my dogs gave the yarn a good shake and the yarn cake exploded.

This was a mental setback more than anything as I couldn't bear the thought of having to untangle 350 meters of lace weight yarn.  So it was packed up and put into a bag where I could forget about it and focus on the Christmas knitting where I turned out three more scarves, a cowl and two pairs of socks.

Then on a long break over Christmas I decided to get this out and see how much damage the dog did.  It took just over an hour to wind everything back up and get it all sorted again.  I worked away on this for a while and got to the point where I thought "OK, just one and a half more repeats (60 rows) and you'll be done".  Except it was two and a half repeats.  100 rows.  I don't really know why, but that was crushing.  I stopped again and knit another scarf, learning how to add beads while I was at it, and two more pairs of socks.  It was about this time that I dubbed the scarf "the Never-Ending Stole" and it was about five minutes after that that I realized that if I never worked on it, of course it would never be done.

So I got it out again and plodded along but found it hard to focus - not a good thing when knitting lace.  Frequent breaks were necessary but I'd find myself cruising through Ravelry to see what else I wanted.  My company's new office space is considerably cooler than the last location so I wanted fingerless mitts.  I went stash diving and found some lovely worsted weight wool that would be perfect and found a pattern that I thought would work well with the yarn.

But that wasn't getting the stole done.

I've never really lost the drive to finish something and I don't really know what the problem was here.  It isn't a boring pattern, but neither is it difficult.  You do need to pay attention but it's easy enough that you can watch TV without making mistakes. I plodded on with it.

And then, on the second day of spring, it was done.  I put it aside until the weekend when I could have good light to do the grafting.

In celebration of the arrival of Spring, I'm called this Spring Celebration Wrap.

Happy Spring.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

So Close I Can Taste It

Holy cats - I didn't think this day was ever going to come!  I'm within spitting distance of finishing the Never-Ending Shawl!  I have eight, yes eight more rows to go and then the knitting portion of this adventure will be done.  After that, the two halves will need to be grafted and then blocked and I will finally have my birthday present to me.  My birthday was in August but that isn't important right now.

So I'll have to come up with a better name for it now since it will obviously soon be finished.  This is a Knit Spot design and Anne Hansen called it Autumn Arbor Stole.  I'm thinking Spring Celebration Wrap.

Anyway - no time to chat.  I have some knitting to finish.  Pictures will follow soon.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Take Two

I've told you that I'm part of the winter yarn club from Sweetgeorgia Yarns and I showed you a picture of the last shipment I received.  Here's a reminder.

I also mentioned that the colours didn't really 'speak' to me but it is a lovely-to-touch merino/silk/nylon sock yarn blend and I thought that even though I don't care for the colours like this, that maybe it would knit up into something I liked.

So I wound the skein into a cake.

I'm still not totally thrilled with it.  But maybe it would look better when it's actually knit up.  Varigated yarn can be that way.

Not a chance.  I'd never wear these - not even in work boots where nobody would ever see them.  I do like the spiraling stripe, but not in these colours and certainly not with glitter in it (pity you can't really see the glitter, you're missing the Liberace effect of the yarn).  One of my nieces is a real 'girly' girl and I suspect she'll appreciate the colours and glitter more than I will.

So in the meantime, I have about 80 rows left on the never-ending stole, and some red sock yarn that I picked up a few weeks ago.  

The day I bought this, I was getting dressed and wanted red socks.  I've never worn red socks in my life - but then I happened to see red sock yarn later that day.  Must be fate.  

I have a soft and slightly fuzzy pink yarn and a pattern by Fibre Trends to go with it.  I'm thinking 'Stream'.

And I found this while looking for the pink yarn.  I had forgotten about this.  It's labelled as 'recycled' silk and is surprisingly heavy for the size.  This is 100g.   

I have another in similar colours but not close enough to consider it two skeins of the same thing.  But given the variation in colours, I could probably do a few rows from one skein and a few rows from the other and nobody would ever know.  It would look planned.  I don't know the yardage, but I might be able to get a loosely knit cowl out of it.  A Möbius cowl maybe?  Something with really simple construction in stockinette stitch on oversized needles that will allow the colours to be the star of the show.  What do you think?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Maple Trees and New Socks

One of the curious things about Eastern Ontario is the speed with which seasons change. Last week the temperatures were well below freezing but today it is 10 C (50 F). I was outside in just a fleece jacket and I was comfortable.

And what was I doing while I was outside? I was tapping my maple trees!  Lanark County is considered the maple syrup capital of Ontario and the supplies for this are readily available in every hardware store around. The process is really quite simple:
1. Drill a hole in a Maple Tree.

2. Clean the hole.  The dark line below the hole is the sap running out.

3. Bang in a spigot and hang the bucket.  You can see the clear sap running into the bucket already.

On a 4.5 acre [1.8 ha] property, I only have three maples...something of an oddity in these parts.  So now we wait.  We'll have to collect the sap daily, filter out any debris that lands in the buckets and then start boiling it down so it will thicken.  I've never made my own syrup so I'm quite excited to see how it turns out.

I also saw daffodils poking their heads up on the south wall.

And the lilac tree has heavy buds

Spring is clearly well on it's way.  Good thing I finished Chucks socks while it's still cool enough to wear them.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Ladybirds and Hornets and Flies! Oh My!

One of the things about an old stone house is that even though it looks like a big pile of stone which has been arranged in a fashion pleasing to the builder, it is very much a living and breathing thing.  No, the stone doesn't 'breathe' the way you and I do, but the house as a whole is certainly not an airtight structure.  I have drafts all over the place;  some where you expect them like windows and doors, and some in unlikely places like the middle of a wall.

And it is very much alive.  It is crawling with life.  And herein lies my problem.

I was sitting up in bed the other night reading and got smacked in the middle of my forehead by a ladybird flitting around the room.  Most of my windows have at least one housefly in them trying to get out and we have hornets in the living room.  Ladybirds and houseflies I can deal with.  Hornets are another matter altogether.

Last fall, quite late in the season, Chuck went around the outside of the house with a mortar compound and filled in lots of the little cracks.  While he was doing this he found a large gap under a windowsill so he filled that in as well.  Curiously, that same window is where the hornets are all appearing in the house so we think he might have sealed in a hornets nest.  We've killed four or five a day for the past week.  Now the question is how to get rid of them.  I'm inclined to go out and chip open a hole under the sill - both to let the cold air in to encourage a longer hibernation (we still have a foot of snow on the ground.  I'm not prepared to deal with hornets yet!), and to provide another - hopefully more attractive - exit for them when it warms up.  I'm also trying to find out where exactly they are entering the house to seal that off.

In the meantime I keep reminding myself that it could always be worse.  It isn't snakes in my bathtub.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

New Yarn and One Sock

This past week was somewhat difficult.  There was a major professional deadline to be met and a major winter storm came through.  My boss is a big fan of me working from home when the weather is poor so I've been at home since Wednesday!  On Tuesday night as I drove home I figured I'd be able to get some spinning done, and move ahead with my knitting, tame the laundry monster and get the floors cleaned all while hitting that deadline with ease.

HA!  What a joke.....that professional deadline ended up being tighter than I thought but I had everything done by 5:00 on Friday.  The downside is the laundry monster is still rampaging upstairs and the floors still aren't clean.

I did however get some spinning done.  This is my very first attempt at a three ply yarn.

The colour is called "Tavern" and is part of the spinning colour Six Pack from SweetGeorgia Yarns.  I'm much happier with the finished look and feel of this compared with the two-ply yarns I've been making up until now but that could possibly be because maybe, perhaps, I'm getting better at this.  I've also learned that I'm not a good judge of how a dyed roving will look when it's been spun.  I thought the roving for this was straight up ugly.  No nice way to say it, but I'm quite taken with this finished yarn.

I also have a finished sock in the Fleece Artist yarn I showed you last week and have done about half the leg on the other sock.  I decided to give them to Chuck for no particular reason other than I thought he'd like them.  I was right - he's looking forward to having them.

I'm also considering the purchase of a new spinning wheel.  I have a lovely Jacob Plum wheel that works well and is in good repair but that has the distinct liability of only having one bobbin - makes making a decent three-ply yarn more of a production than it needs to be.  I knew when I bought the wheel that this was going to end up being a problem and since there isn't a local 'Jacob Plum' dealer it's not a simple thing to get parts.  I know I can send the entire flyer assembly to a guy who will make bobbins to order and that's all well and good, but what happens when something else breaks or wears out?  

The quest is on.