Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Going to Rome.

And I finished all my easy knits fit for travelling! At a loss as to what to take with me. Will need to figure something out tonight or I will end up actually w o r k i n g on the plane there. The horror! The horror!
I knit the Sideways Cloche during the San Diego trip two weeks ago and it was nice and easy even if I completely messed the thing up on the flight back. Two Coronas will do that to your math skills.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Machinery Doesn't Answer Either, But You Aren't Married to It.

Sometimes she knits and sits,
Sometimes she sits and knits,
And you tell her what you have been doing all day and
you ask what she has been doing all day... and you
speak tenderly of your courtship and your bridal,
And you might as well try to get a response out of an
Oriental idol,
And you notice a spasmodic movement of her lips,
And you think she is going to say something but she is
only counting the number of stitches it takes to
surround the hips;
And she furrows her beautiful brow, which is a sign that
something is wrong somewhere and you keep on
talking and disregard the sign,
And she casts a lethal glance, as one who purls before
And this goes on for weeks
At the end of which she lays her work down and
And you think now maybe you can have some home
life but speaks in a tone as far off as Mercury or
And she says thank goddness that is finished, it is a
sight and she will never be able to wear it, but it
doesn't matter because she can hardly wait to start
on an adorable new pattern,
And when this has been going on for a long time, why
that's the time that strong men break down and go
around talking to themselves in public, finally,
And it doesn't mean, that they are weak mentally or
It doesn't mean, my boy, that they ought to be in an
asylum like Nijinski the dancer,
It only means that they got into the habit of talking to
themselves at home because they themselves were
the only people they could speak to and get an
Ogden Nash, 1929

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Last night I went to the Around the Bay Knitters' Guild meeting in Dundas. It was our annual charity silent auction. I took with me some order forms for Cambodia Knits and the first four puppets that the knitters have produced.
The members were very interested and appreciative. They want Monika to come and talk at the January meeting. Many asked for the order form, and two women bought the puppets on the spot! More puppets were requested, but I only had those four. One woman bought the Monkey and the Pig, because her daughters were born in the years of the Monkey and the year of the Pig! The Moose and the Lion also found a new home and 12 dollars for Cambodia Knits were collected.
As if that was not enough, I got the remains of the auction donated to Cambodia Knits! A whole shopping bagful of colorful yarns for more finger puppets.
I Skyped my sister later last night and all she could say was: Thank you! Thank you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Little Blue Sweater.

I was a preschooler when I first heard about this sweater. One early winter evening, when the snow lying in the yard shone into the windows of our apartment, my mother told me about a little sweater that her dear late mother made. It was so blue it seemed like a piece of sky in her hands; my mother would sit and watch her mother and wait for it to be finished. The knitting needles clicked away; light flashed off their metal tips as the forget-me-not blue yarn sped through the needles and fingers. My mother could not wait for it to be ready! She was getting such a lovely thing! And finally it was ready and she had it and she wore it at last. She loved it.

The memory of that little sweater glowed in the kitchen of our 6os apartment and etched itself into my mind. My mother’s vivid recollection of watching her own mother – who died just two years after she made this sweater – fired up my imagination. The wool must have been the brightest and the bluest, the yarn made from the softest fluff little fingers ever touched.

Forty years later I found two photos of my mother's wearing the sweater – she appears to be about four years old. In one she is alone, grinning impishly sideways at whomever is taking the photo, in her hands a small ball. In the other she is serious; she is standing next to her mother, an old tree trunk behind them; my mother’s whole little body leans toward her mother’s lean frame swathed in a too large, light-colored trench coat .

The amateur photo is not in focus, lower left corner is overexposed. It is difficult to make out the knitting pattern. The sweater has oval or rectangular bumps lined up in perfect columns and rows, not staggered. May be they are little purl bricks with single rows of knits and single columns of knits separating them. May be it is the dishcloth patterns with knits leaping down a few rows to make the vertical lines. May be it is some other knit-purl combination. I searched for this pattern in the Barbara Walker’s treasuries, and in other stitch dictionaries; a few seemed a possiblility. I will swatch them, and then I will scrunch up my eyes to blur them to see if they resemble the pattern in the out of focus photo.

The wool I imagine to be a three-ply sport weight yarn. Wool, because there were no synthetics at that time. Sport weight, because of the fine pattern that is just visible in the photo.
The color will be the easiest to chose – I will take my mother to a yarn store and ask her to pick the closest shade to what she remembers.
The sweater itself is a simple little sweater slightly bloused over a 5-6 cm ribbing at the waist and shorter ribbing at the cuffs of the elbow-length sleeves. The sleeves are set in the regular armholes. There appears to be a single pompom at the neck – more likely there were two, attached with a twisted cord for neck ties, but the photos blurred them into one. There is a small stand up or folded over collar.

Don't ask me why, but I will make it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take What You've Got.

May be I learned it in my past. There was precious little wool or any other yarn available, knitting needles were prized possessions - losing one was a tragedy, patterns were circulated according to the best underground traditions. Supplies were limited in the state-run stores; if there was yarn, it would be the wrong weight, or the wrong colour, or not enough of it. You bought it anyway. Women frogged old sweaters to make ones in the latest styles. And yet, even in this universe of scarcity, miracles appeared - big, smooshy ski hats with huge pom-poms, Nordic ski sweaters, belted cardigans form thick Tatra mountain sheepswool.

After a week of lousy results and one big disaster I shake myself. I will go and fix things. I will lengthen the sleeves of the Cranberry that shrunk in the wash, and finally loosen up the turtleneck, so that I can wear it comfortably. I will take out, frog and shorten the sleeves for the Lace for Me, so that they do not dip in the soup I am making. I will probably not change the Moebius (second iteration does not look much better that the first). And I will give the Big Blue Ice (now HUUUUUUGE Blue Ice) to Nadia who is taller and loves it. And I will make myself a new Big Blue Ice because I love it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moebius Magic.

I tried my hand at Cat Bordhi's Moebius this week. It really makes me wonder how her mind works! How did she come up with this incredible idea? I started to make it without much difficulty, cast on some (it turned out way too many) stitches and started knitting. And then I noticed that the other end is in purl, and there is a ridge in the middle, and that as I continue knitting, the purls increase on the other side with, and it keeps going. I know now how to make it, but I will not pretend that I understand how it works!
The knitted fabric increases between the two loops of the wire needle, separating them as it increases - magic. You cast off and go twice around and have only one edge - magic. You add a color on one row and suddenly it is all around the whole piece of work - magic.

The fact that I decided to be stupid and did not count the number of stitches - not magic, just normal. It ended up too skinny, anorexic actually, and way too long. Frogged and will start again today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Hat Trick.

This was going to be a riff about the beauty and wonder of a properly executed mattress stitch, but instead it will be a grouch session.
My Big Blue sweater would be gorgeous (with the phenomenal raglan sleeves and side seams in yes! mattress stitch), if I had not slip stitched the front edges so that now they curl outward. Considered stitching grossgrain ribbons to keep them flat, considered dropping the edge stitch from the end of the collar all the way down to the hem and reknitting it with proper edging, even - gasp! frogging the whole thing. I have having to fiddle with something that should just be done. And it is just so gorgeous, but it flaps!!!
My Winter Watermelon skirt is too wide and no amount of stitching and elastic will make it nice. The hemming also did not work, got frogged and is now halfway done in ribbing that will problably also not work.
The Grande Side Cloche in Lipstic Lava looks great, but the side cables are not looking at all like the photos. A wrong yarn for the wrong job will do that.
The only things that worked out are the three hats. According to my men this is what the Maple Leafs need - something called a hat trick.

I am off to learn a Moebius in some yarn that - you guessed! did not work out for the Anhinga by Norah Gaughan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Humble Purl.

I love the purl stitch. And I love to purl. My favorite pattern, both for knitting and for wearing, is stockinette. Nothing can be more elegant in its simplicity. Nothing allows to showcase the beauty of yarn, its drape and its sheen. Nothing can be more versatile – sweaters, coats, scarves, socks! - why do you think it is called stockinette? It is the reverse, the purl side, that makes it possible. No ridges, just perfectly fitting knits and purls.

Without the purl we would not have the most beautiful and complex patterns. It is the ‘rest row’ of purl stitches on the back that adds the depth and dimension to the most intricate lace patterns. Without the purl to separate them, the cables and honeycombs of Aran knitting would fade into the background. And of course the guernseys would just cease to exist both in the round and in flat. What about ribbing? I will just leave you here to ponder the universe without ribbing …… not possible? Exactly – the knitting world would stop if there were no purl. Imagine those floppy sleeves allowing gusts of wind to blow up to the armpits, those elephantine neck holes flapping in the wind. No turtlenecks, no snug cuffs on mittens. The world without ribbing would be a sad place.

So why the antipathy of the purl? Since I came onto the knitting scene in North America I have read multiple peans about the beauty and ease of knitting garter stitch or knitting in the round, with an equal, if not greater amount of hate mail to the purl stitch. The eminent and brilliant Elizabeth Zimmermann bears a great deal of responsibility for that. I have nothing against EZ – I love her irreverence, I admire her knitting and writing talent, I share her love for the craft and I envy her panache with patterns and color, but lay off the purl stitch, OK? After all, she practically invented knitting sweaters in the round to avoid purling! She called the purl her “bête noire”! Poor little purl.

Why, I ask, why belittle the little stitch? Even linguistically the purl is abused – it is often called the “wrong stitch”. In Polish the purl is called “the left stitch” (lewe oczko), while the knit – of course – is “the right stitch” (prawe oczko). In Polish the “left side” refers not only to the left side of the garment, but to the reverse side of a pattern, as well. Similarly in French: knit is « tricoter à l’endroit » (knit on the right side) or « tricoter à l’envers » (knit on wrong side).

I have not gone as far as knitting garter stitch using only purl stitches, but I may just do that to prove that the purl is just as lovely as the knit stitch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nineteen Years...

and still going strong!

Friday, June 26, 2009

We Are in Greece, but ...

our luggage stayed in London. We missed our connection at Heathrow, and got to Athens via Vienna (sic!) just in a nick of time. But now we are on the island of Alonissios and it has been 54 hours without a change of clothes.
Tomorrow is the wedding and I will knit 1/3 of my Athenian Holiday to have to cover my shoulders. I have a dress that I bought from the photographer, but it is sleevles. The other two hanks of cotton are - you guessed it - at the airport either in Athens or Skiathos. So onlye 1/3 of a shawl for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Off to Greece for a Fortnight."

I just finished packing. Two adults and two kids means a lot of luggage. We are travelling through England and will have a 3 hour wait in the middle of the night at Heathrow, so I need to plan for entertaining two cranky and tired kids. Then the flight to Athens, then a 4 hour drive to Kamenavourla from where we shall take a ferry to Alonissios on Friday morning.
Yes, it is very far, and yes, it borders on insanity to do this with two energetic and high maintenance kids, but Jimm's friend is getting married there and we were invited. No, they are not channelling Mamma Mia! - he is Greek and wants to get married in Greece. But it is pretty far...
We will stay on the island for five days, then spend four days in Athens and London each (that's why the non-direct flight, something I stay away from as much as possible; it is such a waste of time to change planes).
I packed some knitting - Athenian Holiday (duh!) and Turcs & Caicos II. I may take Soozn Bramble as well, but can't seem to find it right now.
So here we go.

PS. The title is a quote from "Shirley Valentine".

Monday, June 22, 2009

Margaret’s Moss Scarf.

This is a simple crochet scarf I made after I discovered the versatility and beauty of the crochet seed stitch (also known as moss stitch). I like that there are no obvious rows or lines as happens with single or double crochet. Switching them up in this pattern blurs the lines and produces a lovely thick fabric with a wonderful drape.

I whipped up four and stopped only halfway through the fifth, blue scarf. I guess at that point I was just spent. I used Lion's Brand CottonEase, but it should look great in any yarn. The IC Stone City Scarf uses seed stitch and Noro Kureyon sock yarn and it looks dreamy.

Moss Stitch Pattern:
Chain a multiple of 2 ch plus 1.
Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, dc in next ch, *1 sc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch; rep from * across. Ch 1, turn.
Row 2: *Sc in next ch, dc in next ch, rep from* across.
Repeat row 2 for pattern

One skein of Cotton Ease, cotton/acrylic, Aran / 10 ply (8 wpi).
Hook: 4mm/G.

Cast on loosely 21 stitches using the hook recommended for yarn or go up 2 mm in size. Otherwise the cast on will be too tight and the scarf will narrow at one end. Turn, make 1 sc into the second stitch from end and work in pattern to the end.
Work in pattern until scarf is 60“ or desired length, or until you just about run out of yarn.

Rnd 1 (RS) Single crochet around evenly, making sure the work lies flat, working 3 sc in each corner, join rnd with a sl st in first sc.

Rnd 2 (WS). Do not turn, working from left to right (opposite from normal crochet) sc in each st around, join round with a sl st in first sc. Bind off.

Cut five 10” strands of the yarn. Attach a single tassel in one of the corners (Margaret’s trademark!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Knitting for Baby.

I am knitting a baby blanket for our former baby-sitter. I have already finished a kimono jacket and a bib. I know the sex of the baby, but am not allowed to divulge it so I chose white, yellow, red and taupe.

I am knitting gifts for this baby – a child of a woman I like. I am not knitting for some baby that may be born at some time in the future and for whom I might need a gift at a short notice. If I care enough to give somebody something, it should be knitted/bought/prepared just for that person/baby/relative.

When my first son was born, a friend gave me a hat and sweater set. They were lovely, in a nice blue yarn and in an intricate lacy pattern; but it was quite a dated design and not very flattering (yes! there are things that are flattering and not flattering for babies). It turned out that the set came from a stash of baby clothes that she had knitted over the years “just in case”. No, not just in case she got pregnant and needed a layette, but just in case somebody she knew had a baby and she needed a gift.

Now, the thing about babies is that they come with about nine months’ warning. If you cannot make a baby gift in that time you should probably consider buying something – for that specific baby, at this specific time. Buy a hand-knit, if that is your desire. I am sure that the mother will appreciate it more than a gift knitted “just in case” for just any nameless baby. My friend knew about my pregnancy and the sex of my baby for as long as I knew – about 28 weeks.

The same goes for buying gifts in bulk when travelling. I was a recipient of a nice printed batik place mats and a runner brought from India. The giver went on and on about how she always brings loads of stuff from her trips “just in case she needs gifts” in the future. I am not complaining about the gifts that I have received, but this “gift preparadness policy” irks me. It is quite popular, I know. But I do prefer something bought or knit for me, because it shows that the giver was thinking about me at the time of purchase or about me and my baby during the many hours of knitting the baby gift.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Knitting Reading.

You can read about knitting and you can read knitting.

A few years back I read Barbara Delinsky's "Family Tree". It is a good book about a family confronting its prejudices and biases in the face of their baby's genetic destiny. Driven by the plot I read it very fast, and I did not notice at all that a huge part of the story was set in a yarn store! The protagonist's grandmother runs a yarn store where the girl grew up. There are descriptions of knitted baby clothes, a baby blanket made by the yarn store regulars, yarns' being unpacked at the change of seasons, a Feroese shawl pattern. There are calming knitting rituals. A stash is mentioned by name. And I missed it! I picked the book up again, because I saw it displayed at a yarn store I visited recently and wondered why it was there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TTC Knitalong

I was in the West Team led by Yvette, Lisa and Susan - thanks ladies! I brought my camera, but was too busy to take pictures, sorry!

Visited: The Village Yarns, The Yarn Boutique, The Knit Cafe, Americo (wonder of wonders!) and Romni. Also run into Mokuba ribbon store and run out because of compete sensory overload.

Bought: Debbie Bliss Eco Yarn for sister (2 balls), Louet Euroflax Sport in charcoal (4 skeins) and Cotton Flame from Americo in taupe (3 skeins).

Got as a gift: 15mm battery powered needles for knitting in the dark, small ball of green Smooshy and one ball of fun yarn in dark orange - my favourite colour! From the lady at Village Yarns. Thank you!

Met: Kerry, Holly and Yun - three really fun ladies with sticks!

See you next year!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


My sister returns to Cambodia tomorrow. Back to her life and her loving and very lonely husband. Since I am single-handedly responsible for her acquiring a knitting bug during her stay with our mother, I presented her today with the only appropriate parting gift - a knit kit.

It is a a red Knitopotamus (not Hiphopotamus) - a notions case from Clover bought from Danielle at Spun. He has swallowed two row counters, two stitch holders, three tip protectors, a baggie of stitch markers, a Department of Geneticts measuring tape (that's what I had!), my old and well-used gauge and needle size ruler, a Chibi tapestry needles set and a yarn cutter on a string - not "the" string, but a string nevertheless. The lid has been personalized by Lukie after the photos were taken.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yarn Crawl.

Today my sister (liontamer on Ravelry) and I went on a yarn shop crawl. We started with Lettuce Knit in Kensington Market where Cat Bordhi complemented me on my red-orange glasses: we were not taking her class on Moebius knitting, but I just had to go there and see her. We chatted for a bit. It was there that I finally met a yarn that was too pricey for me - I went to buy Alchemy Silken Straw for the Oriel blouse, but after a rapid calculation in my head and even after a good dose of smelling salts it just would not compute. There was another yarn, whose name I forgot that would have made a beautiful sweater, but again quick multiplication yielded the same result - nah-hah.

Onto Romni Wools on Queen Street where I died and went to Noro. After some judicious sniffing, holding and hugging of yarn I tore myself away to buy four skeins of Katia 100% linen for a window curtain which I saw yesterday, three hanks of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in pink for a gift for Irene, and two skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino because I loved the colour. I wanted to make the Corfu Shawl with it, but it seems that two are not enough, darn. I also found three past issues of Interweave Crochet that I did not have. My sister got some Scottish Tweed Aran Rowan for a sweater for her husband.

Continuing to Milton's Main Street Yarns. After a nice chat with the owner my sister bought some sale yarn for her next project. She is now a total addict.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go for a Stich'n'Bitch, ehem, Sit'n'Knit at Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Knitting Bag.

A call from the screen. Stripes in many colours –
cerise, puce, cranberry, pistachio, ochre,
deep purple
strong enough
to handle the world.
Gold shoes.
Pockets full of life necessities:
tape measures
stitch markers
row counters
tension gauges
yarn swatches
tip protectors.
A rhomboid mouth to let the length out
Spacious enough for my
crochety productions.
Can creativity be carried
in a bag?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Yesterday I received a letter from The Writers' Union of Canada. A story I submitted for their Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers made it to the top 115! I was not a finalist, of course, but I made the first cut! There are two of me right now, because I am beside myself with joy. This was my second story ever written.

The letter came with a review provided by the original reader and contained some really nice things like "great command of language" and "well-written" and "nicely done, a good idea". Unfortunately, the reader missed the point of the story, so obviously I need to work a lot harder.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Silesian Lace.

I remember sunny afternoons, after the dinner dishes had been washed and dried by hand, all the women sitting on wooden benches in the front of their apartments’ stairwells with lapful of lace. They crocheted it effortlessly, their hands blurred in motion, pulling and twisting loops of cotton thread. Their hooks so small as to be invisible on the end of the metal shaft. In and out, in and out, pulling, hooking, loops and chains worked in intricate patterns of flower garlands, bowls of fruit, branches and leaves, peacocks and birds of paradise. They made window sheers and curtains, bedspreads, coverlets, and pillowcases, borders and inserts, tablecloths and napkins, runners and doilies all later displayed in the windows of their flats and on all possible surfaces. Always crocheted in blindingly white cotton. The lace was bleached by the sun stretched on the wooden rakes their husbands made expressly for that purpose: four beams of pine wood polished to a dark sheen by years of use, held together by wingnuts, capable of being screwed to the required size for the piece being blocked and dried. I was brought up to think that it was beneath good taste, too plebeian, too lower-class, too Silesian. Instead I was awed and impressed.
And I still am.
The photo is of my attempt at filet crochet, which is what the women were making, made with 1mm hook sometime in mid 1980s.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Scarves, etc....

I make scarves. At a slightest provocation, with whatever yarn I have. Shorty skinny ones for my sons when they were babies and long, thick ones for my husband who loses them. Last year when I rediscovered crocheting I made about seven of them in a furious spurt of activity. Last week I made a Czech glass-bead embellished Noro scarf for my son’s Mr. Bear. I have thirty-one scarves on Ravelry.

I knit them in lace, in 1-1 rib, and everything else in between.

Even if they are always the same - a longish piece of fabric to wrap around one's neck - they are always different: shorter, longer, narrower, wider, bulky, skinny, silky, wooly, scratchy, smooth, unicolor or rainbow. Every one tells a different story, every one made with dedication and love.

But making scarves is not just a simple rectangle of mindless knitting or crochet. There is a method. To look really good yet simple the scarf’s edges have to be neat and straight, the corners at right angle. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. The slip stitch edging works great for knitting, with crochet you may need a few passes to figure out the best method. The cast on and cast off edges in knitting often stretch and widen - not very attractive. You can call it a design modification or you can try some tricks - smaller needles for the first five or ten (depending on gauge) rows or a tighter cast on and cast off methods.

In crochet my chain is usually too tight when I use the hook required for the gauge, so I use one a size or two up for the beginning chain. Sometimes I use foundation single crochet which is a lot more stretchy. This is very important for crochet scarves made longitudinally where the small amount of tightness multiplied by the length of the scarf results in a big smiley instead of a rectangle.

Once you have the edges figured out and the cast on edge at the right tension, making a scarf is simple and easy. It can be done a few rows or stitches at time or completed at one sitting. Scarves are portable. They can be done mindlessly, although the repetitive stitches of the simplest scarves actually allow you to experience the moment much more fully and as such can be used for meditation.

There is nothing more elegant than an unembellished scarf with even edges and rows and rows of even stitches. It is the essence of knitting, a sample of one’s abilities and a showcase for the intricacies of a pattern or the beauty of a new yarn.

Then there is the triangular kerchief:

And the fabulous curvy or modular crochet scarves:

And I have not even mentioned the imaginative architectural scarves of Lynne Barr!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mindless/Brainless/Demented/On Hold.

I am stuck in the mindless zone - a granny rectangle blanket, a garter stitch triangular scarf (Noro), a V-stitch bath mat (a baaaath maaaaat?!!! what do I need a bath mat for?! from a dollar/skein plain vanilla white cotton from Michael's, but it is actually quite comfy) and now a seed stitch crochet scarf (another Noro) while some more complicated projects are languishing.

I did a few stitches (read: inches) of the Kidsilk Haze Veronique to finish the back, but have not had the wherewithall or the backbone to put it on a spare yarn and to block it, and I have tried a few starts on the second Tomatomus sock, but it keeps pooling, so I keep on frogging it and trying to start at different point of the color sequence - the first sock did not pool at all, so I do not know why the second is doing it. That's about it. The Veronique was supposed to be for opera-going with my dad - the orange should look nice with black.

I went back to work today - everybody was nice and kind, there wasnot much new stuff to deal with, but mounds of things from the past ten days.

I think I will go and block Veronique. I need to get out of this rut.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Blanket for My Father.

My father loathed knitting. He thought it was beneath me. Plebeian and pedestrian. Vulgar, common. He worked hard to rise above peasant things, and his daughter should harness her energies and intellect for scientific and professional endeavors. He was crestfallen when recently I had stared to knit and crochet obsessively.
He would cringe when he saw me pull out my knitting in public – I did it just to bug him and show my independence from his prejudices.
To him there was no such thing as a luxury yarn - if he knew that yarn could cost more than most people make in an hour, he would have certainly scoffed. There was nothing difficult or beautiful about intricate lace patterns. Silesian housewives did it, cleaning ladies did it, his daughter did not do it. It was a waste of time, money and talent.
Some time in the past he got the idea that it “calmed my nerves”. I think my mother – herself lacking insight – told him that. I do have my share of psychological problems, but none of them can be – or have ever been – helped by knitting. It infuriates me when people suggest it.
So it is multiply ironic that I chose to crochet a blanket for him when he got sick. The morning after he was admitted to ICU and placed on life support I drove to the store and bought more than a pound of expensive thick fluffy wool and mohair blend and started a large granny rectangle with it. He died later that day; I finished it for the visitation at the funeral home – it was draped over the prie-dieu by his coffin and later I asked for it to be put inside. My husband and best friend thought that it was “sweet” – meaning caring and thoughtful? – that I wanted to do it for him, but I have my doubts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy and Cheerful Will Not Happen

My father is critically ill. I just got back from the hospital. He will not recover.

He died yesterday. I will finish a blanket for him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

After the Forty Days...

I need to cast on something happy and cheerful.
Any ideas?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Forty Days - All Done.

Well, it sort of worked out, and it sort of did not. I did not blog, I did not post, I did not comment or write anything. In the first days I did not look at Raverly, Nasza-Klasa, PBase or my genealogy websites. Then I slowly started to sneak bits and peeks here and there, but feeling guilty all the time.

But I continued to knit and I:
1. finished four pairs of socks - one for me and three for Lukie - these are tiny;
2. finished the silk baby doll and matching thong;
3. finished the Ogee skirt before the March break holiday;
4. cast on and finished two completely unnecessary scarves (Aria and Kerchief) from yarns in the stash; realized after I got home from the holidays that I actually did not know how to wrap stitches; called it a design modification;
5. crocheted the Ariadne Tears scarf complete with sea glass beads and had a person refuse to deliver it to the person for whom it was intended;
6. had re-discovered the Fan Bookmark, had to make it and did two; realized that I still got it with the 1 mm hook;
7. got carried away and did a scarf from the same pattern in leftover yarns in the stash;
8. instead of frogging and redoing its border cleaned up the Infinity Shawl and declared it finished;
9. did not finish the Tomatomus socks, or the (now) Twenty-One Year Vest; realized that I cannot find my place on the chart for the Pomatomus and that the only way I will be able to do so is to start the second sock and get in the groove with the pattern again;
10. fiddled and agonized ovet the Lace for Me; finally settled for a crochet border at the neck, but am still fussing over the ties (I-cord? ribon? crochet ties?), still have not decided;
11. cast on a scarf for Susan, realized that I will not have enough yarn to finish it and bought another skein of - almost - matching HandMaiden Silk; am not plased with the combined result at all;
12. went to cast on Aimee for which I had been buying up skeins of KidSilk Haze only to realize that it is meant to be in Aura; gauged it and decided that it will work on larger needle in Haze; cast on a few hundred stiches - because I was going to make it in the round - only to realize that it did not stretch enough to allow anybody through, except may be the Olsen twins and only one at a time; frogged it and decided to
13. cast on Veronique, only to discover that I used the number of stitches for the next size up; decided to keep it anyway and just have a bit more swing in the back.

Toward the begining of the fifth week I started to sneak photos to Ravelry and PBase; updating my stash and project pages. I still did not read the forums or groups on Ravelry. Later that week I started to sneak peeks at patterns on Ravelry.

Throuout that I kept on borrowing knitting and crocheting books from the library and photocopying what I was going to make (Twist Vest, Sweater and Skirt). I also caved, went to LYS and ordered Summer Tweed for the vest for Jimm for the holiday in Greece. Yes, I do know that I still have not finished the previous vest, why do you ask? And bought more sock yarn (Lorna's Laces in camouflage for Lukie, at his specific request; and Noro Kureyon - I needed a match to make the simple scarf as I had Natural and did not know what to do with it). Bought a bunch of CottonEase as it was on sale and Lisa is having a baby and it is a good yarn for kids' stuff. Bought a bunch of Rowan Cotton Glace for the crocheted motifs for the bedspread that I do not think that I will ever make, but what the heck. Bought a bunch of statin and grosgrain ribbons for the Amy March slippers which I hope to make sometime, but cannot start right now, because I lost my photocopied directions for toe-up cast on.

And I bought books - even ones that I had from the library: French Girl Knits, Knitter's Book of Yarn, Closely Knit, Estonian Lace, Knitting for Good, Knitting without Tears, Knitting New Scarves, and just about every knitting and crochet magazine (well, only four). Sigh. I also realized that I did not like the YH as much as I thought I did - reading her blog and most recent book I noticed many recycled ideas. And she dislikes crochet so much. I know - I will most likely be stoned by yarn balls for admitting this, but what the ....

Took two trips - Warsaw, for me and genealogy, and Mexico, for March break with the boys. Knit like a maniac on both of them - socks, the Ogee skirt in Warsaw and the scarves and socks in Cancun. Forgot all about them by now - just a tiny blip on memory lanes.

And I did not write anything. I am not happy with that at all.

So? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Forty Days.

This may seem contrived, but here it goes: I will not waste time on the Internet for the next forty days. No Ravelry, no Facebook (I am hardly ever there), no NK, no genealogy. I will use the time to knit things for my family, to spend time with them, and to write. E-mail at work only and for work purposes. No surfing.

The irony is that I got this idea from Ravelry - somebody joked (or not) that she was going to give up buying yarn and another person with more spritual approach suggested not giving up knitting, but rather to give up Ravelry/Internet and spend that time on other things like knitting for charity. And seeing how many FOs you end up with at the end of the forty days.

Well, this is what I will do. I have the yarn, I have the patterns, now I will have the time - so knitting will go on. I will log in what I knit just to record the dates, but no stories, no photos.

And I will write - I will work on the stories I have been carrying around in my head and heart.

I am looking forward to this!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Wonderful Day.

Yesterday morning the four balls of RY Cashsoft form Sheila in Illinois arrived in the mail. This lovely lady had the exact dye lot of the shade I needed to finish the Twenty-now-Twenty-One-Year Vest and she send it to me even before I was able to pay her! I will finally be able to finish it, although I have to redo the frogged back.

Then I went to the library to pick up some books (Glamour Knits, if you need to know; even though I had the pattern for the shrug from the CanadianLiving website I wanted to see the real thing again) and I got:

1. the IK issue I have been hunting for for the last two months, the one with the Oriel Blouse and the Ogee Skirt in it; finally somebody returned it;
2. CSI: The Seventh Season 5 CD set (I was waiting for it for over 6 months); and
3. another IK issue that turned out to be the newest, Spring 2009, brand spanking new issue that I have not even seen in the bookstores yet! I could not believe my luck! What a feast!
Then I went home and, after two failed attempts at casting off the collar for the Noro shrug, I realized that somehow, in the wee hours of the morning I set the collar off by about an inch and one sleeve is longer than the other. Darn!

But I love it. I am wearing it now even with the uneven sleeves (of course I will frog the whole day worth of knitting in the collar to reset it just right, why do you ask?). The colours are glorious, and with some creative splicing I got the sleeves to almost match. I used the newly acquired skill of K1P1 knit cast-on (it gives a great finished edge) and I cast the second ribbing from the end and then grafted it onto the end of the sleeve so that it would match just right. I did it! I grafted K1P1 ribbing to each other! So it is only the matter of that one inch. It would have been a perfect day...

Now I am off to the Twenty One Year Vest.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Third Noro Scarf.

I just finished the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. It was going to be just diagonal, but I could not keep it straight and as I started to think "it will block itself out" I realized that it will not, frogged it and did the actual MDS.
It took forever. Almost five feet of 55 stitches across (diagonally) in garter stitch on 3mm needles - enough to make you suicidal. But: no thinking required, just pure brute force of perseverence, so I persevered. And I noticed something else entirely - I could not stop before I finished the whole skein. Just could not. Halfway through I decided that I will give it to my friend Jacek, so it could have been a lot shorter (guys prefer shorter scarves), but no!, the Noro effect would just not let me stop. I had to see what color will come up next, how the plys will mix and match, how the colors will bring each other out as different combinations come together on the diagonals. It was surreal, I was in its clutches and could not free myself. And now I cannot wait to start another project with a Noro yarn. [It will either be a Evelyn Clark's swallowtail lace shawl in Noro Silk Sock in rainbow or Erica Knight's ribbed shrug in Silk Garden Chunky in red-orange-limey green.] And I love coming across the thicker and the thinner sections, the fluffy parts almost not fitting in the previous row's stitches. Nothing boring about Noro.

I used the alternative ending for the scarf and in the end I had exactly 2 inches of yarn left. Because it is a bit scratchy, I soaked it in Eucalan (never used it before) and now it is blocking and drying. Photos will have to wait until tomorrow, because the colors just do not come out nice in fluorescent/flash light.

And I need to develop my colour imagination. Striped and self-striping yarns just look COMPLETELY different when knitted from how they look in the skein. This yarn did not show any of the boring drab olives, marroons and blahy browns that make up about half of the knitted scarf. All I saw when I bought it was the fire-engine red, emerald green and some purples. Selective vision, maybe?

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Have My First Follower!!!

Thank you, Cathy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The n OR o Waiting Scarf.

I used my favorite needles - 11' 5.5 mm ones, nicely fat and short, perfect for scarves - to pass away the time of waiting to find out if my son's surgery will go on. He was scheduled for 9am, but a transformer blew at the university and the hospital, and we did not know until 1:20pm if he was going to go in. In fact, the hospital was on Code Gray (evacuation) standby. The power came back on at 9:55, but there were ventiallation and sedative scavenging system failures in the OR block that took all this time to fix. It was a 25 min hernia repair, but we waited for six hours. Mark (the surgeon and a friend) did not cancel Lukie's surgery, because he was the first on the list and we were hoping that the thing will get fixed before 3pm, when Mark's OR slots were finished. We gambled and got lucky.

Lukie was a real trooper, even though he was hungry as all get go. I brought my knitting bag and planned to work on the Twenty Year vest. But when I found out about the delay I could not concentrate on the vest, especially as it started to look that the diamond panel was too narrow and that frogging was in order. Fortunately, as I was going out the door in the morning I grabbed the new Noro Silk Garden and my shortie needles. Don't ask why - the Knitting Gods were looking out for me. A scarf was the only thing that I could do while we waited, between iPod and the DVD player watching Bug's Life, Bob the Builder and Finding Nemo. Then I had to carry Lukie around a bit, because he took to yelling out loud that he was hungry. But overall he was great and brave.

I cast it on at about 8:45 and cast off just before he woke up in the recovery room. Love the colors, but next one I will try lengthwise because I think the colors will look even better that way. I need to get long circulars for that.

The Twenty Years vest got frogged and started again in the Post Op Room. Lukie recovered great, has not asked for any pain meds and was boucing up and down on the bed right after he woke up. Mark Walton is a great surgeon!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Big Disappointment.

So the Jaywalkers are finished and I do not like them. I am not even proud of them. I worked on them for a month. Tried four different yarns: the first, a lovely red crimson handpainted yarn, did not show the pattern well enough, the next was too Eastery for what I had in mind, the third had the problem with colors coming together cancelling each other out so that there was no orange or lilac to be seen. It also puddled into stripes of purple and washed out lime. Finally the last one - a Hobby Print - jaywalked well. However, the second sock developed a severe case of the puddles as I had finished the gussets and was on the home stretch on the instep. Had to frog it. And it continued to puddle and puddle. I finally took to skipping short lengths of yarn to avoid it and ended up with a whole bunch of knots on the inside.

And I do not like the way the ribbing ruffles at the corners of the jaywalks - I noticed it on the original photos in the pattern and in other people's socks as well. Mine just seems more pronounced.

And the yarn is already fuzzing and I have only worn them for three hours!!!

And to add insult to injury, even though I counted rows all along the second sock ended up shorter.

What a waste of time. Wow.

But I had made up my mind and ripped out the back of the Twenty Year vest and restarted it narrower by 30 stitches. Now I worry that it will be too narrow, because my tension seems to be tighter. Oh well...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tiered Procrastination

I am a little bummed out this weekend. The long awaited Twenty Years vest will not be finished anytime soon. I run out of yarn and even though I am willing to try a different dye lot for the front inset and the neck and armhole ribs there is none of the DK Cashsoft to be had. I considered frogging the whole thing because I thought it would be way too wide, but Jimm likes it loose. It can also be considered to be too long - it is a very 80s design. So we have two possibilities (the third - forgetting the whole thing for another two or twenty years is not an option): 1. frogging both front and back down to the ribs and staring all over again amking it both narrower and shorter; or 2. frogging only the front (or the back) and narrowing only it to salvage enough yarn for the ribs and inset; keeping the length the same. Jimm's birthday is on the 17th and I still have time to do either option if I knit like a maniac. But I got into the avoidance mode and:

1. bought three differnt skeins of Noro Sock Yarn just to see the colors and what the whole Noro hoopla is all about;

2. bought two matching skeins of Noro Garden Lite for the same reason;

3. bought a skein of Classy Dream Yarn for a hat for Jimm (in crazy red-orange, wonder if he will ever wear it);

4. bough two skeins of Lorna's Laces sock yarn for blue socks for Luke;

5. cast on one of the Noro Sock yarn for a diagonal scarf; and

6. continued to knit the second Jaywalker.

I promised myself that when I finish the second Jaywalker I will make a decision about the vest. But as you can see, I am procrastinating on that too. This is called tiered procrastination.
Now my second Jaywalker developed a severe case of the puddles!!! Darn it, drat!!!
A bad weekend all around.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Good News on the Sock Front.

I got my mother's antique gold scale today (it was used to weigh gold, it is not made of gold) and guess what? I have enough yarn for the second sock of the Miss Calculus socks! The original sock weighs about 40 grams and I have about 50 grams of the assorted yarn left. I may have to rename it now, since I did not miscalculate. :-)

I will have to start right away, so that at least I will have one pair of socks that I am happy with.

Now, if I only remembered what size needle I used......

Wow! I wrote it down in my project description!!! I love Ravelry!!!

Socks, socks, socks...

Knitting like a fiend with the Hobby Print yarn to have at least one sock in the Jaywalker pattern finished. By the number of stitches I have made at least two and two-thirds of a sock so far, but nothing to show for it yet. Why does everybody else's Jaywalker look so great and mine does not? As I am knitting this infernal sock I am learning a lot about self-striping yarns, how they pattern, and - of course - about colour dynamics (whole blog about that). But this time the sock seems to be really wide in the foot - sock mechanics problem here. Around the leg and heel it is just right although loose, but the foot... Well, I will just follow it to the end and see it how it ends. On the photo the top looks saggy as well. If in the end the pattern does work out for me, I will make the second size smaller (it was too tight in the Lorna's Laces, but this yarn has much more give). Live and learn. By the end I will know the right size in the two yarns, but not a well-fitted pair of socks.

But the Tomatomus looks great, though.

I went to Angela's today just to get extra sets of dbl needles, b/c the Pomatomus pattern specifically spells out that you need five for the foot. Have not gotten to that part yet, but if I get going I do not want to get stuck. I am sure that one could probably wing it on 4 needles, but I will not risk it. I know they are not artsy, but I like metal needles. I have never tried wood or bamboo and with two sons as mad as mine I am not going to try my luck with such fragile items - their life expectancy in my house would be measured in seconds. Do you think I have enough? ;-) I think I found a right ribbon there as well for the Lace Number I am trying to finish.

And I started socks in Tofutsies in a crazy yellow-blue-green colourway. Nice and tight twisted rib, if I only cast on 66 stitches I could be following the Spring pattern, but I followed the 8 Stitches-to-an-Inch pattern by Ann Budd and I have 74 stitches. These will have to wait until after the Tomatomu, Jaywalkers and Jimm's vest aka the Twenty Years Vest are done. Colour looks good, though.

Ideas to follow:

The Little Blue Sweater.

Freedom Knitters.

Pani's Lilac Crochet Sweater.

Things I Crocheted in Poland and Their Stories.

Home Ed Class and the Girls from Rybnicka Street.

The 1933 Sewing Class.

Silesian Lace.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Way of the Rainbow

This is the way this yarn should look!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things to Do.

1. Stitch together the Lace Peignoir so that I will have enough stitch holders to finish the vest for Jimm.
2. Weigh the remaining yarn and the sock already produced so that I can figure out if I can make a pair of Yaya socks.
3. The colors on the Jazzy Jaywalkers just do not look right. They blend together and the nice reds and oranges are just lost and the overall effect is just washed out limes and green yellows with some purples thrown in. Nothing to be done with this, but I will finish them.

4. Get the CD with the photos of my stash and upload the photos!
5. Photocopy the patterns I want and return the books to the library!
6. Repack the needles and hooks into the new bag from Lena Brown (via Etsy).
7. Prepare the Jimmy Tie and the Starfish Shawl patterns for upload to Ravelry (may be).

Progress report:

I. Lace. Stitched the shoulder seams with Kitchener stitch - it looks great! The Hempathy yarn matches the Blood KidSilk Haze as if they were dyed and matched in heaven! I got lucky here. I am making the edging right now.

II. Repaired Jimm's (now my) Fortune. Reinforced the hemlines and the bottoms of the sleeves and repaired a hole using the brown part of Berocco Sox; looks ok, but of course not perfect. Never make a scarf from leftover sweater yarn for your husband as you may not have yarn for repairs. And he will lose it anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sock Woes.

I got into knitting socks. Over the Xmas holidays I watched people with their projects on Ravelry and got hooked. I decided that I needed Monkeys, and Jaywalkers, and some lacy numbers, and some plain socks in awesome hand dyed yarns. Discovered Sunshine Yarns and ordered two skeins from them, bought Red Rovers by Lorna’s Laces form LYS. Socks were going to be it for me.

I cast on Herringbone Rib socks in a Berocco Sox yarn (bought originally for a tie for Jimm) and although I persevered and persevered and frogged and knit up again I am not impressed with the results. The stripes are too obvious for the pattern, the colourway not subtle. Yes, I know these are supposed to be self-striping yarn for regular, plain stockinette socks. And the husband, for whom they were made, considers them too nice to wear! Plus on him, the ribbing really stretches and it looks like it laddered even though it did not. One for them, nought for me.

Then I started on a sock from leftover yarn in my late mother-in-law’s stash. I did the gauge, established that it would be the 6 stitches per inch sock from Ann Budd's book and cast on. I miscalculated – well, I am new at this – and what I thought would be enough for a pair of nice socks ended up one nice comfy sock that I am wearing right now and which is keeping my right foot nice and toasty. Well, there is some yarn left over, and this is what Ms Brilliant is going to do: frog it to the top of the heel flap, weigh how much yarn the foot actually needs, see if I have enough left in the stash for the second one, and – if not enough, see if I can divide what is left of the leg into two and make two anklets. If that is not enough, I am considering making it a size smaller. Now I only need a small weighing scale. Yes, of course, before all that I will weigh the whole sock and see if I have enough yarn for the second, although I am pretty sure that I do not.

The Jaywalkers are also a bit of a problem. I cast them on as a treat for finishing a bunch of UFO. Then it started – here is the play by play.
“How on earth does one knit into the front and back of a stitch?!!! Off to the Knitter’s Handbook to look it up. And I thought that I can figure anything out. Bummer…. The colour is not the greatest - where is the wow of hand-painted yarns? Later. This sock is totally not happening for me. I need to rethink both the decreases and the increases = mine are a complete mess right now. I think I have the decreases figured out, but the increases are a different story. Is there really no knit in the middle? 12.1.09 Went to bed and tried to figure it out for a while and finally it dawned on me. The second knit into the front becomes the raised ridge, the first goes off at an angle pushed away by the first knit into the back. Then I had to figure out a backward way for the double decrease, necessary, because I knit Continental and not English. My knits are twisted about 90 degrees wrt to the English knit stitches. After one more frogging I seem to be on my way.”

And now – the zigzag is not happening. This yarn is too subtle for Jaywalkers. Well, an order of Sunshine Yarns aarrived today and I decided to try the Jaywalkers with Florida Sunshine. I just added it on to the existing sock to see how it would strand. Not wowy enough, the zigzag is not showing. More like Easter Egg rather than Florida.

I have to go get me some other yarn for the Jaywalkers and will save the Florida for some lacy number.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Threads" and lichens.

Many years ago I found Threads magazine at Lichtman's at Atrium on Bay in Toronto. Yes, it was way baaaaaaack in winter 1987 or 1988. I was there with my then boyfriend, current husband. It had an article about crocheted coats and sweaters and what struck me was that the author said how crochet has poor drape when worked horizontally back and forth, and how working on diagonal improves it. I had always thought the same, just did not know how to express it or that anybody else cared! There were photos of a phenomenal full-length coat with appliques of lichens at hem and sleeves. Now, I do not know why, but I adore lichen. It has something to do with its symbiotic nature (algae and fungi together growing where neither can alone), its pioneering - it usually is the first to grow onto naked rock, erode it and make it available for other plants years later and its fantastic colours - golds, russets, greens, greys, blues. The coat was too much for me, I would never wear something like that, but it was beautiful. At the time I thougth that I could not knit, and crochet was the only thing for me. I loved the fact that somebody was actually thinking about the drape and design in handcrafted items. It was a revelation. Of course I bought the magazine even though it was a bit much for my pocket ($5.95!!!!).
The other article was by Alice Starmore and how she used the colours of the islands to design her Fair Isle sweaters' colourways. Wow.
I continued to buy Threads until it became sewing-only magazine. I learned oodles from it over the years and loved the articles on Shetland lace, Fair Isle knitting, glove knitting, shaping and finishing, mitering corners and buttonholes in knitted articles. There was always a little bit of history. There were great photos. I miss Threads.
And lichens? They are still around, and I still love them. The photo was taken this October, at Ball's Falls in Ontario.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Here we go....

This will be about my knitting, my writing and my liff which means my life at home.