Wool in my soup

I am a 67 year-old grandmother living on Vancouver Island. I have crocheted, cross-stitched and rug hooked, but I always had yarn on needles. Recently knitting has become my primary hobby!

Location: Canada

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What to knit with gifted yarn!
We had a beautiful summer day today, thus the sleeveless dress and sandals. However, I had just knit the beret and scarf and wanted to get a picture to send to my DD and her family. They sent me the yarn from Germany for Mother's Day.

The yarn is Rowan Summer Tweed and contains 70% silk and 30% cotton. I had three skeins to work with and so it took me some time to decide just what I wanted to make. The beret is from IK Winter 2006 and this is the third time I have knit that pattern. I am happy with it! There was enough to knit a scarf, so again I went to a tried and true pattern. The scarf is the Shape It Scarf from Sally Melville's 'Book 1 - The Knit Stitch'. I don't have enough yarn left to make a pair of booties for a Barbie doll! I started both projects yesterday and finished the beret and started the scarf! Today I finished the scarf. I must admit that I did call a strike on cooking dinner, so my DH made us a delicious omelet! I just kept knitting!

I am very happy with both projects. The plant I am standing beside is a Brugsmania and it smells heavenly in the early evening and morning! As you can see from the back, the yarn is a nice gold tweed with wee flecks of orange and brown. I have been looking at a 'barn coat' from LL Bean, so perhaps I will get one in brown to get a lot more use from this combo!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Few Projects off the Needles!

Here is my Lacy Prairie Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls". It appears to be a solid off white in the photo, but it is a grey and charcoal mix! That is on our front deck, and I am not a fan of painting railings, especially when you use cedar. I like the 'silvering' of cedar with age!This was a great project. It is the same on either side, and will make a nice cosy shawl for winter, or the cool evenings that we have been experiencing this summer. The pattern can be knit all in garter stitch, which I think would be great with a hand painted yarn! I like to let either the stitch or the yarn do the work, and here it is the stitch!

Below is a little shawl that comes from Knitting on the Net. It was a free pattern and came at just the right time.

I was at my LYS last week to show her my Pi Shawl and this yarn was on sale. It is Rowan Ribbon Twist. The content of the yarn is 70% wool, 25% acrylic and 5% polyamide. It is a 100g ball which only has 66 yds. The original cost of the yarn was $14.95, but I was lucky and got it for $3.75 a ball. The vest took four balls. The pattern shows a fringe, but this yarn would not be suitable for a fringe, so I did not make one. I will knit this pattern again, but I learned that the back is a bit large and the shoulder seams do not seam up well. Next time, I will do short rows on the shoulders and then leave the stitches live and do a three-needle bind off!

I have five balls of the same yarn in a deep burgundy with a blue and pink ribbon running through it! I will tuck them away for gifts for my GDs. Knitting with bulky is okay, but I would not want to make a big project. It is tiring for my hands, and I don't have any arthritis.

Now to put a few more hours into the Irish wind breaker!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

EZ - Another wonderful design!I just felt like having a bit of easy knitting while working on my Irish windbreaker, so cast on this soft cotton for a simple Elizabeth Zimmermann baby sweater. I like the gull stitch on this little cardi, but with this variegated yarn, the lace and colours did nothing for each other. The simple stockinette suited the yarn so much better. I came to the part in the pattern where you take off the stitches for the sleeves and then cast on stitches at the armhole and continue on down the body. I decided that two buttons were enough!

After I completed the body, I went back and with my dpns, I picked up stitches where I had cast on for the body and took the life stitches off the stitch holder and knit in the round down the little sleeve. SO - no seams to sew up! I don't know why I dislike sewing up my knitting, but I do. I had enough in that 'cake' of yarn to knit a little hat. This is in the FO box, and a baby will probably come along soon, or it can go in the Christmas hampers!

I have another 'cake' of the same yarn - I've lost the ball band, but I am sure if I took it in to my LYS they would tell me what it was. It is a beautiful soft cotton, but weaving in ends where there was a new ball added is still not easy in cotton!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Knitting an Irish Wind Breaker!
This is showing further progress on the XO Vest! It is one of those knits where I set myself so many rows to do each day. I try to do 8 rows, but that is the two fronts and the back you see there ladies and gentlemen! If I knit more than that, my wrists ache and I don't want to do anything uncomfortable to my wrists - can't get new ones that I know of!

I had always thought of a windbreaker as a jacket made of nylon or some other material that was impenetrable by the wind. I think that is so, but this vest knit from Bainin on 4 mm is also a wind breaker. A raging gale off the northwest Pacific, and I will not feel even a cool breeze on my torso. It will be a nice warm vest when completed.

I have thought many a time about the Irish ladies who knit those beautiful Irish sweaters and vests. I would not get into an arm wrestling competition with them - not that I have ever arm wrestled with anyone, but this knitting makes for very strong wrists.

I love the pattern, but I have changed one thing on it. I am always amazed at how small the buttonholes are on some garments. A k2tog and yo makes for a very small button and with a nice sturdy vest like this, I do not want 'baby' buttons. I did it on the first buttonhole, but I am NOT, NOT, I repeat NOT, frogging back to change it. The remaining buttonholes are cast off 2 st. and then cast on 2 st the next row. I have decided to do this on more garments. I hate to see buttonholes too small and the buttons never lay nicely on the garment. If the buttonhole is a wee bit too large, I can always make it smaller!!

We continue on with the vest, but I am knitting a wee baby sweater from EZ's Knitter's Almanac. I need to get it in the mail this week, as Amanda came into the world on Friday at the bouncing weight of 11 lbs and 5 ozs. The hedgehog is already knit for her big sister, Cate. I am almost finished the first sleeve, so only have one more sleeve to go and then a little rolled brim hat with Icord on the top!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Good Source of Free Patterns!

I received a request on the last post for the pattern for the jade green lacy short sleeved sweater in a recent blog. The pattern came from Garnstudio, who is also the manufacturer of Muskat, the yarn I used. You go to www.garnstudio.com and then there are flags at the bottom of the first page. Choose your language of choice and the pattern for the sweater is in book 101 and is pattern #32. You just print off the pattern! As easy as that and you have a wonderful pattern.

The symbols on the charts are a bit different from what we are used to, but I enlarged the charts and then at the bottom hand printed out the symbols and the details. I do find it tricky to knit patterns that are translated, as sometimes the translation leaves me wondering if all the details are included. I like a few other styles from Garnstudio, so may give them a try in future.

I thought about a couple of the comments regarding perhaps spending too much time reading blogs. I think that Marsha is correct in her explanation of how this is how she learns new techniques, new patterns and, best of all, gains new friends.

Margene, who often comments on my blog, was one of the first blogs I ever read, and she is a very faithful blogger - I mean faithful to posting most every day. Her pictures are so beautiful and she does such lovely work. She also spins and I am enjoying her adventures with all the wonderful fleeces she acquires. She is also one of the most generous of bloggers and I would never have met her without blogs, so Marsha, you have convinced me to keep reading, posting and commenting. Bloggers love comments!

I have met so many bloggers, and I have also had the privilege of commenting to a wonderful gal, Jeannie, who is currently going through breast cancer! I have been there, so I know some of how she feels. Sometimes just a little comment about how you hope things are going well can help, or the little joke I told Jeannie the other day! Want to hear it! It is rated 'family'!

It seems that little Johnny and his Mom and Dad were at Grandma's house for dinner. Grandma puts the food in front of Johnny and he starts to eat immediately. Mom is taken aback and tells Johnny that we always pray before we eat. Johnny's comment was, "Mom we are eating Grandma's food, and she knows how to cook!"

Karen helped me with a much needed bit of yarn, others have links to blogs, shops and sources of knitting supplies that I would never have known about.

I have learned so much about books and You Tube from another Karen in Edinburgh. Jo in Ireland, who I had the privilege of meeting in the flesh and she is as delightful in person as she is on the blog, has sent me Bainin, from which I am knitting an Irish vest! I have met and enjoyed the company of bloggers in my area. Without the blogs, none of this would have happened, so I will be reading blogs - maybe I will cut back some, but darn I enjoy it!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thanks to Karen! You saved my shawl!
Here is my completed Pi Shawl! I really like it and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the yarn that Karen sent to me. I do have to apologize to Karen, as I cannot remember her blog name, and I had just done a clean up of my blogs on Bloglines!

I knit it with 6+ skeins of Lang Jawoll sock yarn! I knit it on a 4 mm circular needle. The edging is from the Spanish Christening Shawl in Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls book. I love the design and would knit it as an edging again.

Do any of you ever restrict the time you spend reading blogs and checking our knitting shops on line? I sometimes just have to pull away, as I think, "Darn, look at all the time I could have been knitting!"

I also got my IK Fall 2007 today. I have only just perused it, but I think I will knit the Cobblestone sweater by Jared Flood of Brooklyntweed blog. He is currently knitting a beautiful afghan! He has done some fantastic knits from Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns, so you know I like his style right away. Anyway, if you don't go to his blog, go and take a look!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Keep it! It will come back into fashion!

I was reading the paper this past weekend, and there was an article on the fact that 'silver' hair for women is back in fashion! I have been collecting this silver hair for just over 50 years, and I never thought it was 'in' or 'out' of fashion! Who knew? I have never had the desire to colour my hair and I note that a few visitors to my blog like the 'silver' hair. I love it and have no desire to change it, but it is nice to know I am now 'in fashion'!!

I have been busy with two projects. This is the XO Cardigan/Vest from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Vests. It is a vest design from Ireland, and the yarn is Bainin, which was sent to me by the dear Irish lass, Jo. You can see the X's and O's starting to form. I must admit that it is a knit that is a bit hard on my wrists, so I only knit about eight rows per day. The body is knit seamless, so eight rows is accomplishing something! I am finding the buttonholes a tad small, but worry that if I make them larger they will get baggy. Now that I think of it perhaps it would be better to start bigger, and if they enlarge too much - just take a quick stitch or two with a darning needle and yarn! I have only done one buttonhole so far, so rest assured the next ones will be larger! Isn't that why we knit - so that we can have garments just the way we want them?
The other project is Cheryl Oberle's Lacy Prairie Shawl. I must admit that the photo has it looking beige in colour, but it is actually a light grey!

Way back in the spring, Outi, of White Country and I traded seeds for pelargoniums, or most folk call them geraniums. These geraniums are the result of our trade. They are much more red than the photo shows, but I am so pleased with them. I hope Outi's geranium seeds worked for her too! This is another plus of blogging, I'd say!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another FO - so let's go out to the theatre!

This is a sweater I had downloaded the pattern for way back in early May. It is a pattern from Garnstudio knitted with Muskat - 100% Egyptian merserized cotton in a beautiful jade colour. The sweater is deeper in colour than it shows in the picture. I thought I was smiling more than this photo shows, as I am so very pleased with this sweater. I'll have to make sure the photographer makes me smile more for photos! I think it is perfect with the 'little black dress'. You know, the type of dress that takes you anywhere. I was off to see 'Cabaret' at our local theatre - it was wonderful and so nice to hear the music again!

It was a relatively easy knit, but the symbols are Scandinavian and a bit different, and also sometimes when a pattern is translated, you feel there are some things missing between the lines. I like the fit, the colour, the feel of the yarn and my knitting. All in all, a perfect FO!
You can really see the pattern on the back! Perhaps I should have pinned down and then soaked those little points a bit more, but never mind, I am still thrilled. I am always amazed at my 'swimmer's shoulders' when I see a back view. A small problem, really!

Now, what to cast on next. I have had some 100% Turino silk from Plymouth yarns and I had planned to knit a sweater. Once I read the book, 'No Sheep For You' I realized that this silk would not be the best choice for a sweater. It might grow on me, and I definitely did not want that to happen! So, as the yarn languished in the stash, I thought of what would be the best use of it! I had ordered Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Shawls" and when I saw the Prairie Shawl, I knew the mix of pattern and yarn would be perfect. I have lived on the prairies of Canada and know that a mohair shawl in winter would not be a great match, especially if you lived long ago in a sod hut! I like the earthy feel and look of the yarn and the pattern is reversible. Lots of garter stitch, but if you have been reading my blog for long, you know I love garter stitch!

I have 12 balls of this light grey, so there is no fear of me running out. Now, I also have two balls of medium grey, two of a dark grey and one of a lovely jade! I am wondering about trying it double for a Rib Warmer Vest! I'll see how much is left over from this shawl. I am not that thrilled with the work at the start, but I plan to put a good bit of blocking there and perhaps a tassle!

Oh yes, I love Cheryl Oberle's books, and I also have her 'Folk Vests' and cast on for the Irish XO vest with a Bainin I got from Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Doing some blog housekeeping!

Before I get on to answering a few questions from my previous post, here is a picture of what I have been working on. This is Rumple 100% Silk from Handmaiden yarn and the bias shawl was a pattern on the yarn. It is a simple pattern, but the yarn is best done with no real pattern and at $42.00 a skein, I wanted to have something I could wear as a little shawl or a scarf. I loved knitting with this yarn and I used my Rosewood needles - such a pleasure to knit! The needles are a souvenir of my first knitting retreat back in March!

The colourway of the yarn is called 'Mineral', but the post on the Handmaiden website shows a bit more 'silver' in the sample than my skein had and I am not at all unhappy with my skein.
This is a bit of a closeup, and the truest colour is where the scarf is folded onto itself. I think I need a new camera - you have all seen this table before. It is great table about 4'X8' and my DIL gave it to me. It is great for sewing, blocking, parcel wrapping, etc. and I often lay my knitting on it to photograph it.

Now to answer some questions - the Baby Surprise Jacket (the little green and yellow ones) is a pattern by the wonderful Elizabeth Zimmermann and it can be bought through Schoolhouse Press or it appears in the book, "Knitter's Workshop". I find that there is a good deal more info on the sheets than appears in some of the books. For instance, I have knit 7 Rib Warmer Vests and the sheet contains the method for knitting the vest without a back seam. This method does not appear in the 'Knitter's Workshop". I am a true fan of EZ and, in fact, I am hoping to go to an Elizabeth Zimmermann camp in 2009.

Why 2009? Well, I am a breast cancer survivor of a rare form of breast cancer, which has a very high survival rate, but it can return even up to 12 years post treatment. In 2009, it will be year 13 for me, so I may, I repeat MAY, finally stop looking over my shoulder for the cancer to return and so I want to celebrate. I suspect I will always be concerned about its return, but I will not let it stop me from doing all the things I want to.

One person wanted to know about 'Bertha and Beulah'. For those who have read this blog before, you know the story, but for the new folks, here it is.

If you have a problem in your life, and who doesn't, then you find yourself lying in bed in the dark and going over, and over, and over, and over, in your mind the problem and a hoped for solution. Well, the breast cancer was one of those times that there were many restless nights, and these voices would nag at me about whether or not I should believe, the surgeon, the oncologist, the nurses, the family doctor, my family - you get the picture. The voices were very negative and telling me that I was being overly optimistic! Of course, a night or two of these nagging voices and I was less than a happy camper the next morning. My DH was baffled by this and wondered why I was so optimistic most of the time, but at times I was not the easiest camper to share a tent with.

I struck upon the idea of giving the voices names - Bertha and Beulah - which are two names I do not care for. Sorry, to all the Berthas and Beulahs of this world. Anyway, in my mind they were nags of the first order and so on the mat I made them with long straggly hair, dull clothing, ugly hats and sour faces! Then in the middle of the mat, I had them dressed up with wild hair, (eyelash yarn was used) brighter colours, attractive hats, etc. Because you see, I think both Bertha and Beulah were really meant to be guardian angels, but they were so new at it they did not know what hit them when they took up temporary residence with me. I gave them a run for their money, and eventually they changed their ways and we got along fine. They were given fair warning to go off and help other women in the same boat, but to be supportive, not nagging or nasty. I could not send them out in their dull, drab, dreary and disgusting garb, so I sent them to the Sally Ann (Salvation Army) thrift shop to buy new outfits. They were not rich financially, so I sent them to $1.00 Day - every piece of clothing is $1.00. They actually scrubbed up quite well, I think. The saying on the mat/rug is "Bertha and Beulah go to dollar day at Sally Ann!" The mat/rug appears in full in either September or October of 2006, but often shows up behind me as I model a sweater!

This may seem like a very simplistic way of dealing with a problem, but it worked for me and that is what matters. Once I told my husband about the voices and that they were called Bertha and Beulah, it became easier for him and me - not your usual chippy self - Bertha and Beulah had visited the night before.

Hope that clarifies Bertha and Beulah and how they helped me deal with a trying time in my life. If they have visited you and gone back to their old ways, then give them a talking to and tell them if they don't smarten up, you will send them back to me for a bit of a refresher!

Friday, August 03, 2007

This is in place of a hug!
If I were near my niece, I would give her a big hug, but I am on the other coast from her so this will take its place. This is the Comfort Shawlette from Daily Knitting. I had some Berroco Ultra Silk left over from a project and this was perfect, I think. It feels so soft and I love the colour. I had just got home from the pool, so excuse the outfit!!

You can see on my right shoulder area where I misaligned the yo's - about four inches up from the bottom. Is this what makes something look like it was lovingly knitted by hand? I did not notice it until I was casting off and I had no intention of frogging it back. It will get a little steam this morning and then go off in the mail!

That is Bertha and Beulah in the wall mat behind me. Perhaps my niece gets these terrible women and their nagging voices in the night like I did! If so, give them their walking papers. Why can things be so troublesome in the dark, when you are completely alone with your thoughts, but so much more bearable when the light of day arrives and you have others about?

I will knit this pattern again. The cast on for the neck area was a bit tricky, but once I got that worked out, it went along well! It would make a great gift, as size does not matter, and I would not be overly concerned about gauge!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What Would EZ Think?!
I picked up the most recent copy of the "O" magazine and while leafing through it, I happened upon this sweater. It is not exactly the Rib Warmer with sleeves, but I am sure that the wonderful vest that Elizabeth Zimmermann designed influenced this pattern. This little sweater/vest sells for $475.00 at Barney's in New York City. I will not be ordering one, but I just thought how the fashion folks must look and see what is popular among knitters and then put their own touch on it!! I will perhaps think about sleeves on a Rib Warmer, but not in a bulky short sleeved sweater. Have I done everything correctly here, so as not to have some form of police call at the door?

I just completed a Comfort Shawlette from a pattern that came from Daily Knitting. If you are not aware of this little email newsletter, it is through Interweave Knits and has some wonderful hints, news in the knitting world and free patterns! There were two shawlette patterns and I made one with some Ultra Silk from Berroco which I had left over from another project. I learned something from this project. I started out with a circular needle - size 6 mm and once I got several stitches into the project, I noticed that it was difficult to slide the stitches from the filament back onto the needles. It was as if the stitches became smaller. I think the problem is the softness of the yarn and also the weight of the shawl. Once it got any size, the weight pulled the knitting 'down' and made the stitches 'smaller' on the filament. I ended up putting them on a straight pair of birch needles. The circular would have been quicker, but not when you had to struggle with moving the stitches along. Once I get a photo of the shawlette, I will post it to the blog!

I think this proves that with each project we learn something new. In this project, I also learned another new cast off! The edges of the shawl are in seed stitch, so at the beginning of each row, I slipped the first stitch in the 'purl' way and then proceeded on with the knitting. This made that wonderful 'chain' edge. Now how to get that along the bottom on the cast off. You k2tog through the back loops of the first 2 st., then put the remaining stitch back on the left needle and go through the back loop of the 'new' stitch and the next stitch and continue on. It gives that lovely chain look to the bottom of the shawl! This was a great project, and I can see myself knitting this shawlette again!

I have cast on some Silk Rumple from Handmaiden Yarn to make a simple scarf/shawl in a simple pattern - 1 row knit and the 2nd row k1, yo, k2tog to the end. You need an odd number of stitches on the needle. I am very fond of the tunic shirts, especially in winter, and these scarves tied in a loose knot in front or just left to hang make a nice 'fashion' statement. Like I know much about fashion. I do know at my age what I like and what I think looks good on me, so that is all that matters. I do have a DD and a DIL and I have told them both to please let me know if I was dressing too old or young for my age. So far, I seem to be okay!

Oh yes, for the Silk Rumple scarf, I am using a pair of Rosewood needles. What a joy to hold in my hands. They were not inexpensive, but well worth the cost. They are a 6mm needle, not overly long - like about 12 inches/30 cm and they are perfect for loose scarves. I bought them last year at Fun Knits as a souvenir of my knitting retreat. What a wonderful souvenir.

Gail of Gail's Good Yarn commented on my blog about the Elizabeth Zimmermann knitting camp that is a continuation of the camp EZ started and now continued on by her daughter Meg Swenson. That has truly peaked my interest, and I must look into it for next year. Imagine being able to wear, even if only for an hour, something that EZ herself knit! Heaven!

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