Thursday, November 30, 2006

Knitting and purling

I am making the hat to go with the scarf I just finished. It's Lamb's Pride worsted and Twilley Freedom Spirit held together, and I'm doing what's called "Caterpillar stitch -- horizontal" to add a bit of texture. Not sure caterpillars are exactly what we need here, but they seem to give it a bit of a retro look in my mind.

I'm going to knit make it long enough to fold up the brim, and who knows how I'll shape the top.

Quite the sight with the red coat, non?

Look carefully now, and you will see that this wonder of knitting is all only knits and purls. Like all knitting, in fact, even if it's rather more complicated than horizontal caterpillars. Cables are just rearranged knits and purls, lace has a few yarnovers and decreases, but it's all just the two stitches. You all know this, but this is leading to a story, so bear with me!

Paul Dirac was a 20th-century theoretical physicist, who wrote a nice equation which he gets on a plaque in Westminster Abbey, won a Nobel prize and was generally regarded as a pretty clever fellow. Stephen showed me this story about him:

Dirac discovers purling
Another time, Dirac was watching Anya Kapitza knitting while he was talking physics with Peter Kapitza. A couple of hours after he left, Dirac rushed back, very excited. "You know, Anya," he said, "watching the way you were making this sweater I got interested in the topological aspect of the problem. I found that there is another way of doing it and that there are only two possible ways. One is the one you were using; another is like that. . . . " And he demonstrated the other way, using his long fingers. His newly discovered "other way," Anya informed him, is well known to women and is none other than "purling."

If only Anya had said, "knitters" instead of "women".....

It's from here, where you can read all sorts of other anecdotes about him, if you like! Because it's amazing what you might learn....

And since it's raining, my *!^@% internet connection is not connecting. C'mon, guys, this is crazy.... Ah, this might work now!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The blogosphere and... I need some help, here

Lately I've had a couple of nice e-conversations with people about living in England and actually knitting on the Cam, and was thinking fondly of those days and those connections. So I was warmed up, so to speak, when I received a note from Mary (no relation... but do we perhaps need a Knitting Mary webring? Also, her blog is called Quite Contrary, which is the best Mary blog name). She knows Liz, which is where the connections come in.

She had read this post, in which I hint at previous dissatisfaction with making something nice with the usual fall colours palette. And she pondered this for a while, and came up with this post. We were all wowed here with the Photoshop, because I just take a picture, maybe crop it in Picasa, and stick it up. Who knew, but we have Photoshop on the downstairs computer -- the "kid computer"... Last night we had a wild time with filters and stuff, crystalizing and blurring. I know, you were all photoshopping years ago... but I wasn't! Now I just need to get the recent pictures and the Photoshop in the same place...

Now, the bit about needing some help. I made a sweater from Stephen's data. It's just a plain old rectangular cardigan with a V-neck, but what makes it special is the band of chaotic swirls knitted around it. When I was knitting it, I carried around with me a large print-out, 400+ stitches long, and I highlighted and crossed out and folded over, to help me know where I was on the swirly chart. Yesterday I got an e-mail from a woman who wants to knit the sweater, but she is blind. She says if she has a Word document, that'd be fine, and I assume the computer "reads" it to her, but I don't know. So, my question is: How do I get this data into a form she can use, without sitting and translating and typing, 4 black, 7 white, 3 black, 1 white... for several 400-stitch rows? Eh?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Limeade and more!

This is just the coolest scarf! It's 75 inches long! I blocked it out a bit to show up the holes, but I know it will get pulled lengthwise in time. Now I just need the hat and mitts.... I guess it would be counter-productive to have holes in one's winter hat. Imagine it with my red coat! Oooh la.

Yesterday I was "cleaning up" beside the bed. I was putting all the yarn for one project in a heap, and putting magazines away, and I picked up something, who knows what, and apparently there was one nice loose 2mm double-pointed needle on that something, and it rolled off, in just such a way that it ended up down the heat vent! Argh! I lifted the cover and poked around, but it's just a hole that descends from the top floor to the furnace in the basement! I considered calling Sears to come clean out my ducts, but perhaps that's a bit drastic. I have another set of 2mms, but they are very long for socks, and the one that has vanished was one of the nice short ones I got from Sue, who had a fistful of mismatched tiny dpns.

This mishap did have the consequence that I noticed the lovely sock I had cast on, and I found one of my very long needles and continued on the ribbing. So, there's your silver lining.

And just for completeness, here's Elaine's dress. It's a bit longer than when you last saw it, though I think my chances of finishing it by the end of November are slim!

PS. You think the chicken hat is silly? Check out the Turkey!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Eye Candy rainbow

We have a south-facing bathroom, and a prism on the windowsill. This morning when I was in the shower, I saw a great spectrum splashed across the wall. Of course, I didn't have a camera in the shower, and nor did I have my glasses on, so it was nice and smudgy! As time passed, the sun moved across the sky and this is not as big as the earlier one, but what could be better candy for the eye than all the colours of the rainbow! Note the red of Elaine's dress and the limeade of my scarf!

My bathroom wall is not black, but this is taken without a flash!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A distraction

This hat is not meant to aid Arthur in any sneaky pursuits, but it is meant to keep his head and ears and neck and nose warm!

The bottom part can tuck under his chin if the wind is not howling, nor the sleet flying!

Super quick to knit -- I think it's 72 stitches, 2x2 rib, cast off half the stitches for the face hole, then cast on again and just... make a hat!

Happy Thanksgiving to all those Americans out there, and remember, Friday is Buy Nothing Day! In England you can go for a bike ride instead of shopping! Just Buy Nothing!

(I myself will not be buying nothing, since we have got a babysitter and will be going out to dinner or a movie or something. Sorry!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A quick couple of things

Now we find ourselves back at WIP Wednesday. I must say I'm not doing very well at getting the pile winnowed down. But my intentions are good, honest! And I did that sleeve! If only I didn't keep thinking, "Oh, I'll just do a few rows on this new scarf," or "Arthur needs a new hat coz none of our 374 hats is just right for him this winter." After Christmas, you'll just see me zip through projects new and old. Yup.

A terrible story: I have been intrigued by mention here and there of Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan book. So I put a hold on it at the library and they had it for me today. I was just looking through it, found a picture of a square I wanted to knit, and looked for the instructions, but the page had been cut out! Cut out! With a razor someone had mutilated not only a library book, but a library book about knitting! Arrrrrrghghghgh! I was miffed.

But then, I found the teaser trailer for the new Harry Potter, in which the gang zooms through London on broomsticks. Fun, or what? I hope the movie doesn't stink....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Limeade on the porch

Here's some Limeade! I do it in short snatches, but since each row gives me half an inch or so, I'm whizzing along!

The stitch pattern is just *yo, k2 tog* across on the right side, and *yo, p2 tog* on the wrong, with a garter stitch at each edge. I started putting a few rows of garter stitch in at the beginning, but soon realised I didn't like that as well, so it's now what we call an "accent."

Due to a glitch of some kind, I was unable to access my site meter for a day or two. I am always delighted to see that people find this site when looking for postboxes! One day I'll go back to England and find some more.... Ahh.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Been shoppin'?

Noo, I've been shopping.

I have a friend who comes to the big city every 6 weeks to get her hair cut. Crazy, perhaps, but it means she gets to see me every 6 weeks! Hah. And I say, Oh, I need a darning needle, and we go to a yarn shop and I get to watch her buy yarn!

So this time we went to Alterknit, with the kids. They both pulled out their knitting (Arthur's is the orange cotton tape and Elaine's is the off-white. She's been knitting for less than a week) and wowed the ladies in the shop, and Pat and I looked at wool...

Oohh, I liked some brown Malabrigo. I think it was 05 Coronilla. Alas, one can't buy it all. I was distracted from that by ... oh, various other things.

Arthur pulled a giant skein of Burly Spun out of a basket... I noticed it came in an outrageous green called Limeade. I was sunk! It's so... green! I got 2 skeins of that, which Arthur had fun winding off the swift in the store. (Lucky boy, he got to wind 8 balls of bluish Malabrigo for my friend!) And then since I thought this would be impractical for mitts, I got some Twilley freedom Spirit in 505 Earth. And then since I thought that would be too thin for a good hat, I got more Brown Sheep, some Lamb's Pride worsted in the same limeade colour to mix with the Spirit.

Oh my what fun! And they have brownies and lemon tarts and coffee, so we were all set.

I managed to finish Arthur's blue sock, and am making some progress on the red dress, but of course now all I want to do is knit giant green wool into a scarf...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday sky and a WIP

I haven't been very consistent with my Saturday sky pictures, and I didn't even take this picture today. Does that count? Who needs pictures of grey skies, anyways. What I should do is get up, open the window and take a picture of the CN Tower every morning. The other day we couldn't even see it, it was so misty! Anyhoo, this is just the sky and a tree...

I got out the big Lopi sweater that makes us sneeze and finished off a sleeve the other day. Arthur's nose objected immediately, even though I only knit a bit at home.

I need to do one more sleeve, then surreptitiously measure the person it's supposed to fit, because lately I've been wondering about that... Perhaps measuring should have been done somewhat earlier in the process!

Anyways, it's lovely and it's super fun to knit, because it's just round and round knit knit knit, but I get to change colours every 5 rows, and I line up all my balls, fret about running out of colour A or B, unwind those leftover Kureyon balls to get to the surprise centre... And then give my kid a box of kleenex....

I'm super thrilled about my upcoming search for wool for a hat/scarf. Now I'm thinking of making Norah Gaughan's sunflower tam and a phyllotaxis scarf. But that hat is totally different from what I thought of at first. Oh, choices, choices....

Friday, November 17, 2006

Eye candy Friday

More autumn colours for you! I love this bush with its bright orange leaves and little red dot berries.

How to get these colours in a scarf, eh? Put red, orange and yellowy with a bit of grey and often enough, you'll just get something terrible!

Here's some green. A venus fly trap at a greenhouse where I went with Arthur's school on a field trip.

In preparation for yarn shopping this weekend, I looked through various bits of stash and found a lot of balls of green/gold/brown that I would love to combine somehow. There's the problem of gauge, and the problem that they don't all go with my new coat, which is the whole point here. But I will continue to look at this heap of stuff...

Elaine's dress has another zig knitted -- and hey, did I tell you? She's been knitting! Pictures shortly!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knitting much at all, Mary?

Why yes, actually, I have been knitting! I finished the secret thing, and it is soft as a kitten, and I feel like running back to the store and buying a million more balls of that yarn.

But I won't, because I am making fair progress on Elaine's red dress, and I know I must keep going. It might not look like much, but I'm knitting it in the round, so really, imagine twice as much! Just keep knitting, knitting, knitting, just keep knitting... I'm still keen to finish this for NaKniSweMo.

And I also know that I am going yarn shopping next weekend to find some lovely wool to make a hat to match my new coat. Totally distractable, I am. But you know, I would rather knit a hat than just about anything, actually! A hat is the perfect thing to show off yarn, the perfect gift -- oh, no, dishcloths are the perfect gift, aren't they... Anyways, I love a hat. But right now I'm working on a dress. Right. (Gives head a little shake....)

I just learned about the the November calendar contest.

We have 3 calendars: the Toronto garbage collection calendar; one that the kids made at our school in England; and Arthur's airplane calendar.

November is not the best month for any of these!

Neither of my children is represented in the school calendar this month, and the airplane calendar has the Spitfire next month. And garbage collection -- well, that's just dull no matter what, isn't it?

And Torontonians, go vote Monday!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday already?

My birthday is in March, but my sister-in-law saw this card and couldn't resist! Little old lady named Mary, knittin'. Happily, my SIL is also named Mary, which is now apparently an old-lady name. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WIP Wednesday again

What is this pile of ... um, jumble of.... well, what is this??

This is our museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, a venerable old institution, getting a new addition. They've been at it for ages, and the dinosaur gallery is closed, but I think they are supposed to be done in a few months.

It'll be very cool when done. Earth-shattering, new, exciting, trend-setting!

Just like knitting (and diminishing the pile of works-in-progress). These things take time....

Monday, November 06, 2006

The penultimate dishrag

Good thing I didn't actually sign up for NaBloPoMo, since I lasted only 4 days at posting every day! Ah well...

And my knitting promises are sort of loosey-goosey too. But my excuse is that it is coming up to Christmas, and I have things to do! One more dishcloth and then I'm done with those for now!

My latest is quite the masterpiece, I must say. And doncha love the tiny little bit of pink on the edge? That's coz I ran out of yarn about 20 stitches from the end and had to use a different variegated yarn to cast off the last bit. It's a masterpiece, but it's still just a dishrag.

I also finished up another hat for Street Knit, and took three of them up to Knitomatic on Sunday. When the woman took them and tossed them in the bin*, she asked if I would like some more yarn, and gave me a bag of various bits and bobs. Oooh, aaah! I love to get yarn like that! It's a potpourri of greenish miscellaneous fibers, and I shall have fun combining them to make something... not sure if sea-foam acrylic/mohair from 1983 is the best thing for a hat for a street person, but we'll do our best.

*For our British readers: I mean she put them in a big plastic storage box, not that she threw them away!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Another day at the shops

I wish I had documented our trip to the knitting shops this morning. I had my camera, but never took it out of the bag!

I could have shown you a woman who has knitted herself 60 pairs of socks (those are the nice ones -- the others she gives to her mom)! And I could have shown you the chicken hat she made, and the cute kid wearing it. And my new chapeau, as well. I was going to give it to Street Knit, but it was so great, I had to take it out for a walk! I might be able to get a pic of that sometime soon. I had a couple of other hats to hand in at Knitomatic, but I didn't make it there today.

I could have shown you us missing the bus, and us walking up the hill, after stopping at the new chocolate shop. And going to the wrong address, and finally finding Alterknit! (It doesn't seem to have a web page yet, but they've only been open a few weeks, so we'll give them a moment.) It's a cool little yarn shop with a very nice cafe. Good brownies, the kids said, and excellent coffee, says the other Mary who was with me. There was some lovely sock yarn, and I bought some 6.5 and 7 mm needles and a Chibi! My very own, so I won't lose my darning needles! Yay. I was about to buy some nice greenish sock yarn, and Elaine was sort of egging me on, but then she said, "When are you going to knit me my dress?" Oh, yeah. So I put the sock yarn back...

We could have dragged the kids around even more, but Elaine had to be at ballet class, and I had to feed them first, and so I sent the others off to the Sally Ann and perhaps beyond... We barely made it out of McD's and down the hill in time! But since I had my new needles and a new secret project, I was happy to sit and wait for Elaine to finish her dancing.

New secret project? Yes, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Also, I have, despite my earlier clear thinking, agreed to knit Elaine her sleeveless cotton dress in toto in the month of November! I figure a) I told her a while ago I would make this for her, and no fair waiting till spring and b) I did the Knitting Olympics, so I can do this. So it's finer yarn, more shaping and things to pay attention to, but that's of no consequence (she says breezily)... I have a supply of dishcloths that should meet my immediate needs, so I think I'm set. One secret project, one summer dress, and perhaps a sock in my spare time!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Not a secret anymore

This is what I've been working on lately. Nice, eh?

But, not nice enough... The colours, while there's nothing wrong with them, are not right for my intended recipient, and I was thinking quite nasty thoughts about the yarn as I got to the end -- their wonderous technique for getting nice long runs of colour seems to be to splice together the different colours, not dye the one piece of yarn! It's soft and lovely and... suddenly you've got a bump and you're knitting with black instead of lilac. It was just bugging me!

It is very soft and cuddly, and it's unisex in style and it's 5 feet long, so... this is officially my Red Scarf, which gets me off the hook concerning my reddish yarn! I can think of something else to do with that, yay! I am now so sick of scarves....

I've even embarked on a project which doesn't involve knitting! I got this Gap sweater at the thrift store and tossed it in the wash. It's so pretty... I think it needs another go-round in the hot water to really toughen it up, and then I shall start in with the scissors! Next time I will remove the ribbing and separate the body pieces first, then wash, because the ribbing doesn't felt like the rest of it, and the seams are a misery to deal with after the felting!

I was thinking bag, then tea cosy, and now I'm simplifying to the point of "hot pad." Cutting I can do... sewing it, I dunno!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

No, stop me!!

I couldn't do this. I wouldn't finish; I don't even know where to start.... But I kinda want to give it a try... But no.... Find out all about it at Knitgrrl!

And if you find a lot of little posts these days, it's because of NaBloPoMo, more craziness for November, that I'm not quite ready to commit to...

Maybe it'd be easier to just write a novel, or maybe a very short story. Nah, I'll just try to finish a knitting project.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Verrrry spoooooky

Don't we all just love Halloween? A month's free supply of stuff you don't really want your kids to eat... I do like sitting on the porch with my wee dram and my knitting, watching the crowds go by and handing out candy to kids who just stand there with their bags out, waiting.

This is Elaine at her school's parade. (Many of the ladies in the neighbourhood thought she was a bride, but really, folks, she's a ghost! Duh.) The first prize at school, if there were prizes, would have had to go to Mrs J, in her Paper Bag Princess outfit! (Do listen to it if you don't know the story!) A leaf bag and a paper crown, brilliant! And if you've been following the shoe story at MDK, take note that one of the teachers, Mr F, who is well over 6 feet tall, was walking quite nicely in his high heels and Little Red Riding Hood costume, even though the wolf was right there with him.

Arthur wore the same costume he's worn for years, but with new headgear this time. Buzzers and LEDs are all wired in and controlled by an old oven dial on the front. Head separately controlled.... Much commented on.

The kids collected at least 156 pieces of candy. Well, no, lots of that was chips... Oh, let me check the list.... Yes, 18 bags of chips; 156 items, not including the 2 tennis balls and 2 erasers. All this will hit the Excel soon. Arthur's kind of into graphing these days.

And, ahem, it's Wednesday, time for WIP Wipeout. I am sticking to my 4 projects I told you about on Monday, though for sure I am mostly working on the one that is a) new and b) secret so I can't show you progress pictures! You'll have to trust me. Bwa ha ha.