Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let There Be Light

I have a new door and I am inordinately pleased about it.

April 2012 037  

You might wonder why I am this ecstatic over something a simple as a door but sometimes it’s the simplest things that bring the most joy. 

The fact is that this doorway has been out of commission for at least two years and for various reasons we haven’t been able to replace the door and frame until now.  This has meant numerous trips out the front door and around the house or, alternately, up the inside stairs, out the kitchen door, and down the outside stairs.

Now I not only have a door that opens and closes (very important qualities in a door) but it has a window (that also opens and closes and has a screen) to let in light to my laundry area and fresh air to the first floor. 

April 2012 034

Simple things but they make me happy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

For the Win

It was about five years ago that I fell in love with Joe Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in colour 416, aka “Cocoa”.  This yarn, composed of wool, silk, and cashmere, is a soft shade of oatmeal sprinkled with flecks of brown, and, in much smaller quantities, white and pink.  I first spotted it at my daughter’s LYS in Olympia, WA and even though I made a point of seeking it out on each of several subsequent visits to the shop, I could never justify purchasing a sweater’s worth of this heavenly stuff.  And then Jessica moved back home and my opportunity to acquire this particular batch of yarn vanished, although the memory of it stuck with me. 

The details are fuzzy now but at some point I gave into temptation and ordered 10 skeins of my dream yarn from WEBS.  Their dye lot had fewer pink flecks than the yarn I’d initially been drawn to but it was beautiful just the same and I envisioned knitting it into a cabled cardigan.  Eventually I settled on Fylingdales and in January 2009 I eagerly cast on, only to find that I quickly became bored with the repetitive stitch patterns.  Over the course of the next year and a half the sweater spend more time in hibernation than in active duty and by September 2010 I’d only made it as far as the armholes. 

Knitting 1817 

Time for Plan B.  I frogged Fylingdales, washed and reskeined the yarn, and cast on for another cabled cardigan, this time Hallet’s Ledge.  Even though the pattern called for a heavier yarn I felt confident that I could substitute the Jo Sharp DK since it works up more like a worsted weight. 

It started off promisingly enough and despite an early setback I was quickly well on my way.

Knitting 1824   

This time I managed to complete the entire body and part of one sleeve before I came to the sad conclusion that it wasn’t going to fit.  The cables drew in the bodice more than I’d anticipated and even though I knew the yarn would relax with blocking, I didn’t think it would be enough.  Once again I ripped out all those stitches, washed and reskeined the yarn, and set it aside until the perfect project presented itself. 

Then last fall I came across Quercus, an A-lined, short-sleeved, cabled cardigan.  Knit from a worsted-weight, tweed yarn, it looked like it might be The One.  Cautiously optimistic, I put Plan C into action and cast on.  The design’s attractive stitch pattern and interesting construction techniques held my attention and it wasn’t long before I had completed the body.  I slipped it on, stretched the cables across my chest and thought it would fit once the front bands were added and the sweater was blocked.  Then life and other knitting projects took precedence and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I was able to pick it back up and complete the sleeves, front bands, and collar. 

I tried it on again, stretched the cables across my chest and hoped it would fit once it was blocked.  I gave it a bath, laid it out on the blocking mats, thought it looked awfully small across the bustline, got out my tape measure, stretched it a bit more, and prayed it would fit once it dried.  It had to—I couldn’t bear the thought of a Plan D.

It did. 

Knitting 2602  


Knitting 2600

I win.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Hold

If I were asked to describe my life right now this is the phrase I would choose.  That and maybe “out of my hands”.  Just minutes after publishing my last blog post I received an upsetting, but not entirely unexpected, phone call from my daughter, Jessica.  She and Neil had decided to separate and could she and Andrew move in with us for a while?  With some regret, Cameron and I said goodbye to our empty nest and set about preparing the house for its new occupants.  We moved my office upstairs and renovated the two first-floor bedrooms.  We retrieved the kids’ old crib from the shed at the cabin, moved breakable items out of reach, and put plug covers in the electrical sockets.  Bring on the toddler—we were ready! 

February 2012 039

Well…as ready as you can be for life with a toddler.  Naturally, the changes go deeper than just decorating and childproofing—suffice it to say that a household with a young child (even a sweet and loveable one) is vastly different than one without. Used as I was to spending most days alone in a quiet house, it has taken me some time to adjust to the increase in noise, activity, and paraphernalia.  I’ve also begun looking after Andrew while Jessica is at work so that has left me with less time and energy to pursue my hobbies and interests.  Although I had big plans at the beginning of the year, I have put them on hold for now and am taking things one day at a time.

Even though I’ve put off my design project for now, I’ve still had time to knit other people’s patterns.  Since the beginning of the year I’ve knocked out several shawlettes and a hat,


  and, of course, there are always socks on the go.


One of my biggest accomplishments was to finish my journey along the Silk Road, with the completion of Mashad and Salor.  Yesterday, I pulled out all fourteen pairs and lined them up for a photo shoot. 

Knitting 2593 

I had hardly grafted the last toe when Hunter released the e-version of her second book, The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet.  This time the designs are based on botanical prints and I’m looking forward to knitting my way through the various plants and flowers, beginning with Chrysanthemum frutescens

Knitting 2581

Meanwhile, there are numerous other patterns calling my name and I may have had a bit of a cast-on party this past weekend.

Knitting 2584 

As for Cameron’s sweater…well, let’s just say it has suffered a bit of a setback.  Okay, really more of a major setback.  The Sweater That Shall Not Be Named will see some love again one of these days but for now it is on hold.  Indefinitely.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

Even though the 2012 calendar went up over a week ago, for me today feels like the first day of the brand new year.  For the third year running, Cameron and I spent the first week of January on holidays, more or less holed up on our own, with limited contact with the outside world and this morning signaled a return to real life.  This year we opted for a “staycation” and except for spending two nights in a not-so-rustic cabin at a local golf course, we stuck pretty close to home.  The weather was not conducive to a lot of outdoor activities so we passed much of the time reading and knitting and just enjoying being together.  It’s a tradition that we will definitely be carrying on.

The socks have just been flying off my needles.  Since Christmas I’ve finished three pairs.

Knitting 2446  

I enjoyed knitting up this variegated yarn in a slipped-stitch pattern.

Knitting 2480

Almondine worked up quickly in some yarn I received from Jessica and Neil in my "Boxing Day Survival Kit”.

Christmas 2011 055 

Last year I had presented Neil with a video-game themed kit so they turned the tables on me this year, providing everything I needed for a relaxing, knitting-filled Boxing Day (including adult underwear so as to avoid those pesky bathroom breaks).  The truth is, I didn’t put it into use until a few days later (well, except for the Depends…) but it was much appreciated just the same.

I also made my tenth stop along the Silk Road and knit up Yomut in just a week’s time.

Knitting 2473

I just love how they turned out in the Gradiance Yarn from The Unique Sheep.

In addition to socks, I joined a shawl KAL in the Handmaiden/Fleece Artist group on Ravelry and cast on Caricia in some Sea Silk that’s been in my stash for over four years. 

Knitting 2463

I like how it’s knitting up so far.  This yarn has tried and failed to be several other things in the past but I think this one’s a winner. 

And if that weren’t enough, yesterday I began a new pullover for Cameron, the Traveling Man Sweater, in a charcoal grey that’s much darker than it appears here.

Knitting 2483

Something tells me that I may regret all that ribbing in near-black yarn before it’s done but this one is all about the product, not the process.  I’d like to have it finished by the end of February, in time for his birthday.  But it won’t be a surprise.  Cameron is rather, shall we say selective?, about his clothes so he was involved in every step of the planning, from choosing the pattern, to determining the size, to shopping for the yarn.

With all that knitting, I’ve had plenty of time to think about the coming year and what it might bring.  Most of my goals—maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, bringing vacation photo albums up to date, and compiling some genealogical research—don’t involve yarn or needles but I have been contemplating a rather ambitious project that does.  This year I’d like to try my hand at design and put together a pattern collection for sale.  Right now I am purely in the planning stage, with tons of ideas running through my mind and keeping me awake at night.  As the year progresses I hope to bring some of those plans into fruition and share the process with you as the year unfolds.  So hang on tight—it may be a rocky ride.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Making is Over

One by one, I have gradually been crossing things off on my Christmas to-do list.  Today I reached a significant point in my holiday preparations by completing the last of the handmade gifts.  Since daughter, dear daughter is on the receiving end of one of those presents and sometimes reads my blog I can not share everything I’ve been working on but here is a sampling.

Ever since I gifted the first felted slippers back in 2006 I have received requests for at least a pair or two every year.  Knowing how much they are loved and appreciated, I am happy to oblige, even though the novelty of knitting them wore off long ago.  This year I had planned to make only two pairs, one for my sister, Anna-Marie, for her birthday and one on behalf of my sister, Alison, to gift to her daughter-in-law.  I think it was halfway through the third slipper that I decided to also knit a pair for my brother-in-law, Doug, for his birthday (we celebrate the winter birthdays in my family at a post-Christmas brunch so holiday gift-planning also includes several birthday presents).  I vaguely recall having a conversation with him about them and I’d recorded his shoe size in my knitting notebook so I am guessing that he had expressed an interest in owning a pair at some point.

So, that makes three pairs in all:

Knitting 2441

I still haven’t decided whether to gift them felted or unfelted—I’d hate to get the sizing wrong but it is nicer to receive a pair that you can slip on right away.

Once upon a time I used to be quite a seamstress but it’s rare these days that I use my machine for anything other than hemming or mending.  However, since Santa is bringing my granddaughter an Easy-Bake Oven, Jessica suggested that an apron might be a good gift for Morgan this year.  I found a really good tutorial online and had a lot of fun picking out coordinating fabrics.  It made up in no time and I love how it turned out.

Knitting 2442    

While I was sewing it I remembered a Christmas apron panel that I’d bought years ago when I used to work at a craft store and decided that it had sat in the fabric stash long enough.  Luckily, I had just the right amount of muslin to line it with and before I knew it I had another apron to gift, this time to my mother (who is actually the only person I know who regularly uses an apron).

Knitting 2439

You’ll notice that I’ve used our Christmas tree as a background for all of these projects.  If you look more closely you’ll see that the Christmas tree is completely bare of ornaments, even though it has been up since Sunday.  I am hoping to remedy that situation in the next day or two, now that the making is over and the shopping is almost done.  (We won’t dwell on the fact that I haven’t even begun the cards.)  Considering the jobs that still remain on my to-do list it is unlikely that I will be posting again before the big day so I’d like to extend a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my blog readers and wish you nothing but good things in 2012.

P.S.  If you have the means, please try to make the holidays brighter for someone less fortunate.  Every year my ladies group adopts a family for Christmas from our local women’s shelter and we are going shopping for them tonight.  This is one of my favourite holiday traditions—it feels good to ease the family’s burden at this time of year and it always makes me feel even more grateful for all I have.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Now that Andrew’s birthday has come and gone I can share details and pictures of his super-secret birthday sweater.  Well, it wasn’t entirely secret.  Jessica knew which sweater I was knitting for him, she just didn’t know what colour it was going to be. 

I fell in love with Arshile months ago so when I saw the booklet in my LYS I immediately snatched it up and purchased yarn; an added bonus was discovering Abi, which by the way, despite numerous issues, turned out perfectly.

Knitting 2422

(One of these days I am going to have to get model shots of all my sweaters—the laid-out-flat-on-the-floor poses just don’t do them justice but it’s hard to take pictures of yourself!)

Back to Arshile…

I really loved the gansey-style textured stitches and I am a sucker for a hoodie.

Knitting 2427

The pattern called for knitting it flat and seaming but I couldn’t see why it couldn’t be knit in the round so I adjusted the pattern and cast on after taking off for Miami back in September.  It turned out to be perfect travel knitting—the pattern was straightforward and just mindless enough that I could knit and look out the airplane window at the same time.  I worked on it a bit on the way home but mostly I just slept.

It didn’t take long to finish once I got home and settled in. 

Knitting 2424 

Once blocked, all I had to do was wait for the big day…

With Andrew so mobile these days, it’s hard to get him to stand still for a picture but I managed a quick one.

November 2011 040

and then another.

November 2011 041

After that the photo shoot went downhill when I tried for one with the hood on and he proceeded to jersey himself in his effort to get it off.  However, I am happy to report that he has gone on to wear the sweater multiple times since without incident.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Birthday Boy

From this

Andrew's birth 019

to this

November 2011 029

in the blink of an eye.

Happy Birthday, Andrew!