Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm all aquiver

Hey, I made some mitered squares. Then, I wondered what to do with them!

A pretty baby blanket? Um, a tad scratchy, I think!

A felted bag would be logical, but I didn't leave room for any side panels or gussets, and I didn't want just an envelope -- it wouldn't look right when lugging stuff around!

So, I shall make a round bottom, a round bag. Not knowing how things will felt makes it all a bit more challenging! I'll make buttonhole bag handles, just in case it turns out usable as a bag, but I'm thinking it will be more of a vase-like creation, a knitting-needle quiver perhaps.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The story of the birthday sweaters

Today is my brother's 50th birthday, so I must tell you a story.

Once upon a time, when I was young and carefree and childless, my eldest sister turned 50. I was then spending my days lounging by a pool in Santa Barbara, waiting for a work permit, so I thought this was a fine excuse to make her a sweater, which I did. I think it was a blue wool/acrylic blend, and lacy vertical panels.

It was too small, and she had to send it back to me and I unseamed it and made new side panels, and might have done something with the sleeves but I forget, and sent it back to her.

A few years pass, and my next sister turns 50. However, at this point I was not carefree, but having my first baby! I started well in advance by making something so gigantic that it had to be totally ripped out, and then, finally, late, I made a vest, with some great Norah Gaughan diamond cables. I figured if it fit me, it would fit her, but didn't take into account my nursing-mom voluptuosity, and it was still too big.

Then, in my family there is a big gap before the next 50th birthday. But, if one looks around, one will find a sister-in-law to fill the gap. So I made her a sweater a few years ago. This one I actually have a picture of!

I designed all the stranded work (she lives in Victoria and so there are sea-things, mountains, trees, her house....) and knit like crazy (she was silly enough to be born around Christmas!) and was doing fine, till I went to sew the sleeves in and found that I had knit them both on, apparently, huge needles. Not the usual mistake of continuing on small needles after the ribbing... These sleeves were completely different gauge from the body, and had to be totally ripped and reknit. Grr. Anyways, this did ultimately work out, though I believe she said something like, "It fits fine, especially if I just lost 5 pounds..." It wasn't supposed to be so "body-skimming" but you know, one's gauge changes with stranded work!

That still left me several years before my brother's birthday. I had been on a quest (which, as a matter of fact, I am still on) to find a nice brown yarn that didn't look like mud after a while. I was buying lots of Lett-Lopi, thinking to mix browns and other colours in some artful way in a sweater for me. Then, my brother took this picture and I wondered how I could make a knitted version. A postcard of the Nova Scotia coast (he was living in Newfoundland, but what the heck: browns, greens, blues, greys...) and I was all set.

I started in England. I knew my timetable -- lots and lots of time. All went well till I got to the yoke, where I figured I'd put the clothesline of icicles. But, the yarn was already doubled and quite dense, and stranding doubled icicle-coloured yarn around would have made it incredibly lumpy. And, how does one make short, not totally regular, icicles look like icicles and not just little badly formed rectangles? It was not to be. He might recognise them, but no one else would, and the result would be an in-joke and a lumpy, funny looking sweater.

Now, if we can just avoid the size problem... It's long on me, which is good.

I loved making this sweater; the knitting was completely mindless, which left lots of interest in picking the colours and trying to work my way up to the sky on the yoke. The yarn was lovely to work with, really -- if only it hadn't made us all sneeze!

I have many many part balls of Lett-Lopi left, which will also make us sneeze. Some of them have already been dealt with. (I'd never looked at that colour card before; I think I used about 15 or 16 of the colours, along with a couple of full balls of Kureyon and a zillion scraps.)

With this year, my leisurely approach to 50th-birthday sweaters is over. In the next 6 years I have 2 SILs, a husband, yet another sister and myself! And then.... I think I'll wait till people start turning 100! Ohmygosh, my dad's almost 90!

Added later: My brother writes: Thanks for the lovely sweater, which fits as if it had been made for me.

Well, thank goodness for that!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The problem with pausing

Oh dear, I have fallen from the straight and narrow path yet again.

I guess it's almost 4 weeks since I hurt my wrist, and I have slowly got back into some knitting. But that little pause has left me somewhat adrift.

I thought I wouldn't do socks, though I have 2 pairs on the go and really should get them done. But, too tiny, too stressy on the old wrist -- I should do bigger yarn and needles.

So, I made a hat for Out of the Cold. More of the doubled lite Lopi, nice and warm.

So, la de da, look at the rest of that yarn, just sitting there, such pretty colours, la de da, let's make a mitered square, and then ....

Well, my plans are vague, and my supply of blues is limited (yeah, and that nice rust in there, too) but I can make enough squares to make a bag and felt it.

Only thing is, I don't like this miter pattern! I am used to making miters in garter stitch, with a centred double decrease on right-side rows. Mark the centre stitch, knit almost up to it, decrease, carry on. But, stocking stitch needs a different rate of decrease, and if you want a square, you have to decrease 6 stitches in 4 rows, not 4, like in garter stitch. Ann and Kay, who are clever indeed and must be acknowledged as the queens of the miter, have a pattern in their book, so I got it off the shelf and off I went.

Ack! Knit to somewhere near the middle, do three decreases that are sometimes 2 ssks and 1 k2tog, and sometimes 1 ssk and 2 k2togs. The line wibbles down the middle of the square, and I had to keep looking at the book and counting my stitches! Oh, lordy! Well, two miters was quite enough of that!

Luckily, I remembered that long long ago, in fact Winter 94-5, Vogue Knitting published an article about miters. This gives a much nicer way to decrease -- mark the centre, knit almost up to it, decrease, carry on! Do it on every knit row and every other purl row. Six stitches decreased in 4 rows, easy as pie.

The only thing that might put one off is the fact that one has to, ohmygawd, purl 2 together, and even purl 2 together through the back loops! This is not really that challenging, you know. Anyone can do it, truly! At least for me, it's easier than counting!

And see, it makes a nice straight line down the middle.

If you want a definite line like this, k2tog, then ssk (and p2togtbl, then p2tog on the wrong side); you can make a less noticeable decrease by doing the ssk first.

Well, now, just lemme finish up this project, whatever it finally turns into, and then I'll get back to those socks, really!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fun in the sky last night

Okay, who saw the eclipse? Lucky us, we could stand on our new deck, with the camera on a tripod. Well, the guys did that, and I lay on the bed under the window inside! A great view, either way.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Okay, I'll just say one more thing about snow

Yesterday and today I saw big diggers in our neighbourhood, scooping up the snow and taking it away in dumptrucks.

Hooray for snow removal.

You can watch the mayor and the dumptrucks here, and see what I'm talking about!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Something else

I've been told my blog is boring, by someone whose blog has been, I admit, kinda interesting the last little while. I have too much knitting, or lamenting about the weather, he sez.

That's a laugh. I have stopped myself often from complaining even more about the weather!

But, we aim to please here, so I shall think of something else.

Ah, look, someone else has already thought of something else! Making tweed fabrics with reflective fibers, so you can be jaunty and safe at the same time, as you zip through London on your Vespa. If you scroll down their blog a bit you will see the cutest hat! I learned about this via Ham at London Daily Photo -- it's not like I could think of something else on my own...

But you can have a picture I took of the Saturday sky.

Don't be fooled by those south-facing roofs. There is still a huge amount of snow on the ground. And it's supposed to warm up, so we'll have huge amounts of slush. But, I mustn't complain...

Monday, February 11, 2008

I can't show you this

I'm quite thrilled, but also quite secretive, about my latest FO. If you are on Ravelry, you can find it in my projects (I'm SquareMary). If you're not, well, then you'll just have to wait a bit. All will be revealed shortly.

We got a whole lot more snow, and the fort-building has been intense.
I hear there are crocuses up in Cambridge!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Eye Candy Friday

It's been a while since I put up any eye candy, but today I can give you the clear blue sky we got yesterday. It looked lovely, the dark trees and white snow and all that...

Just get the snow off the sidewalks and roads!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

An almost done blanket, and some snow

My blanket of squares is all sewn together. Sewing doesn't appear to pull the same bits of the wrist, and I think I didn't injure myself by finishing the last few seams. Now, a few little ends, and the @$(#$* edging. This is the horrible part. I think it needs a wide edge, not just an i-cord, and the horribleness of picking up the stitches would be as bad for a small or large border.

I think I will get a long circ, pick up and knit stitches all along the side, and attach a sideways knit border, something like this one.

But, I knit this bit ages ago and can't remember where I got the pattern! Also I want to knit it on as I go.

So. A huge tasks looms.

For your enjoyment, this is what it looked like outside yesterday, before the latest huge snowfall dumped on us:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What should Mary knit this time?

I kind of hate to even discuss this, since I still can't knit, so can't show you a swatch or anything! Perhaps it will all come to naught. But, heck.

This is my Felted Tweed.

I want to make a sweater. I don't especially love that purple; it just happened that I bought a bag of three on sale, and... so, I have lots of it. Also not sure why I have three of the grey! The one that looks red is a lovely rust colour.

But, to the point, what shall this sweater of mine look like?

I could round up a few more colours and make something like this:

(from Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knitting, Zigzag,
"a quick and easy two-colours-a-row design" )

or I could make a multicolour masterpiece with some of these:

(mosaics by Barbara Walker)

or, I could just make horizontal stripes and turn them on their sides.

(from an ancient Vogue Knitting magazine, Winter, 92-93)

I am leaning toward the final one, but I feel this is the easy way out. I know what it'll look like when I am done, for one thing! I don't really have enough colours to do the Kaffe properly, and if I were to pick a mosaic or 10, who knows what trouble I could get into? Should I be more bold? Should I just make a big wrap out of my single balls and make a one-colour cardigan? (No, I should not!)

And there's always this, another VK treat, from Fall 1992:

I just wonder if I would have the fortitude to do the embroidery, and need I say, I didn't set out to have a sweater with lots of embroidery? But it takes care of the colour situation; it does look good; it's got that cool collar... And I think it would look silly without the embroidery. It's supposed to be patchwork-y, get it?

But wait, just over the page is this one:

I could get a few more balls of one of the greens for the main body, and it would be fun to knit, and I wouldn't put any angora in the bottom stripes, and I would likely sew the side seams up all the way to the bottom. I wish they hadn't shown it in black -- it's taken me 17 years to realise the top part was textured. Hmm.

Well, this has been very helpful... It's clear I have no idea what to do.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Oh, it almost slipped by me!

It seems today is the day of the Poetry!

I quick got Elaine's poetry book (Read Aloud Poems for Young People), and after a bit of searching through the "Laughing Lyrics" section, came up with this:


You ask why Mary was called contrary?
Well, this is why, my dear:
She planted the most outlandish things
In her garden every year:
She was always sowing the queerest seed,
And when advised to stop,
Her answer was merely, "No, indeed--
Just wait till you see this crop!"

And here are some of the crops, my child
(Although not nearly all):
Bananarcissus and cucumberries,
And violettuce small;
Potatomatoes, melonions rare,
And rhubarberries round,
With porcupineapples prickly-rough
On a little bush close to the ground.

She gathered the stuff in mid-July
And sent it away to sell--
And now you'll see how she earned her name,
And how she earned it well.
Were the crops hauled off in a farmer's cart?
No, not by any means,
But in little June-buggies and automobeetles
And dragonflying machines!

Nancy Byrd Turner