Monday, April 30, 2012

Viola at Knitter's Frolic 2012

Ohhhh, how well I remember finding Emily's first beautiful Viola yarns in the Naked Sheep booth at the Knitter's Frolic a few years ago, or maybe just two of them?  I love Emily anyway, because she helped me choose the yarn for the original Lucky Scarf which started out a lot of wonderful things for me, but WHOA does she have a way with yarn-painting.  I was smitten immediately.

And as if dyeing up tons of yarns for a show wasn't enough, she actually did new decor for every booth she had after that first showing, too.  'Viola' spelled out in twigs?  Oh yeah.  'Viola' embroidered in a giant running stitch on a banner?  Yep.  Plus twinkly lights and, this time, a pretty and delicate paper chain running along them. 

What was missing from the Viola booth at this year's Frolic was, oddly:


This would have been weirder if I didn't know that Emily is getting out of the yarn-dyeing business, for now at least.  This Frolic was her next-to-last hurrah, with a big Etsy shop update the following morning that sold out in no time.

That's what happened to the yarn at the Frolic, of course.  Apparently it was like crazypantsland for the first couple of hours of the show, lineups everywhere, people scoring whatever skeins they could reach.  By the time I arrived around noon, there were huge bare spots, and still quite a few people milling.  I didn't quite have to defend my choices from the fingers of other Viola fans, but I was aware I might have to, heh.

This one came into my arms first.

Orchard.  That was a big draw for me, the names Emily chose for her yarns.  SO evocative.

This was another early choice:

Mars, in merino/cashmere/nylon, worsted weight.

Also worsted (its shelf was fullest):


which seemed to go nicely with

Walrus.  (Why didn't I get two of those I wonder?)

Then I fell for


and also


And then I stopped, even though there were more irresistible things, because I realized I was just finding it really hard to let go of Viola-isms and that other people who came late to the show needed to have a chance too.

Still, a pretty good Last Call.   And something to tide me over while I wait to see whatever really creative thing Emily comes up with next!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

When there's nothing to do

Today, instead of setting up a bunch of work to do this week while I'm away, I started the BobSocks. 

I might have mentioned last week that I was feeling compelled to do this for a variety of reasons, one of which is that apparently Bob has been wanting me to knit him socks.  

For a similar variety of reasons, I have been not wanting to knit Bob socks, none of which have anything to do with not loving Bob because I adore Bob.

I'll bet you a skein of sock yarn (see how I'm lowering my stakes here just in case, because I have a few of those to spare) you don't know too many other people who have the same best friend today that they had when they were old enough to sit up and fight over a teddy bear, do you?  Nope.  I'm six months older than Bob but since there was just one house between ours, and that house was on the back end of the same corner Bob's was on such that the corners of our own yards touched, that's the only six months he hasn't been in my life.

In fact, my first memory isn't as I would expect of my own mum even, but of - surprise! - fighting Bob for my teddy bear, in a playpen in his mum's living room, while our mums shopped for Avon lipstick.  I don't know how I remember this so vividly but I do.  And it was only today that it struck me my first memory is of my mum in a way after all, and also of Bob's mum, which is the

MOST compelling


cannot ignore

reason to have started the Bobsocks.  Even though the last thing I ever want to talk myself into is another pair of Mansocks because hello, it's all I can do to sustain interest for my own tidy little size 7 feet.

Still.  There is a lot of power of knitting, have you noticed? 

The thing is, Bob's mum has been very ill.  In the past few days it became clear her time was coming.  There was nothing for me to do about that, nothing I could do to make things better for Bob's family, these people I have known my entire life.  Just the one small thing for that one of them... so of course I have to knit Bob some socks, and of course I had to start them today, the first chance I had, because they needed to have his mum in them.  I didn't want them to be just grieving socks.  I started them in the car on my way to her home this morning, to prove to him that I had in fact got going.

(oddly, he didn't seem to care much. he will later though.)

When I arrived Bob's sisters invited me to sit by their mum's bed as she slept and to hold her hand, the hand that mixed more pitchers of Freshie for all we kids than you could possibly count - probably as many as the stitches in a Mansock.

(If you are too young to remember Freshie, think Kool-Aid.  For some reason Freshie lost out in the sugary drink competition, even though its packet had a brightly colourful toucan-like bird on the front and pretty silvery lining that, now I think of it, tasted horrible when you tried to lick out the last bits of powder that didn't make it into the water.)

An hour or so later, after I'd visited with everybody and gone off to have a quick lunch before heading home again, I picked up Bob's sock.  I knit a few stitches, the feel of his mum's hand suddenly very vivid again in mine, and I thought - how amazing to know I'm putting that energy straight into this fabric.

And then - at that moment, the thought only just complete in my mind - my cell phone buzzed in a text message to say she had gone.

Well, I didn't get very far into that sock today, did I.  Plus, it's looking like I may have to give up on putting a pattern in because I'm not even sure the one I planned on will show.  But I canNOT rip out that cuff because it's got a little of Bob's mum in it.  And finishing it off so he can wear it: that's something I can do.

(Cheerier post tomorrow, I promise: I did the Knitter's Frolic twice on Saturday and there is so much to tell!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Preparing for confinement

Today is my last proper prep day before Jury Duty and - GAH - I have given it away.  But I think it's all right.  I have a few ideas for how to spend between 4 and 10 days in a big room with nothing to do (if I don't get picked to serve on an actual jury, that is.)

1/ design some hats on paper.  Yesterday I charted up some stitches I like and I am pretty sure it will take hours to work out some subtle crown decreases that reduce the patterns organically.

2/ study for a new job I am thinking of taking on.  The job would take up maybe 4 or 6 hours a week, but it is pretty skilled and would require me to pass a pair of tests.  When else am I going to have this kind of study time, aka the kind where I couldn't be making something instead?

3/ read a lot of books.  I spent some more time toying with the idea of e-readers and came close to buying a Kindle (first choice, but the only local chain store that sells them has been out of stock for ages) and then back to a Kobo (very much second choice, especially after discovering that the library's supply of free e-books is both limited and avidly used) and then realized that most of the books I would want to read - new fiction - aren't consistently available for e-reader anyway and the ones that are cost almost as much as the actual book.  I think I will just read actual books and consider it a workout, carting them around.

(compelling aspect of e-readers that might overcome all these objections - Principles of Knitting on e-reader?  It would take forever to look through the illustrations and you couldn't easily compare one vs. another step in a stitch because the screen is too small, but, but consider the thrill of a weightless Principles of Knitting!)

If you have any other ideas that don't involve sharp objects, because those aren't allowed in the courthouse, do let me know.  And in the meantime, have a fantastic weekend!

ps next week I'll be posting at the end of the day rather than the beginning, in case you're looking for me.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sugared Pinks, aka my new hat

Here is the hat I just made to wear with my Sugared Violets shawl next fall:

It is very very floppy.  I am experimenting with slouchy shapes and suspect this is slightly more slouch than strictly necessary.  All that extra yarn volume is pretty toasty warm though! and this has been a Very Good Thing the last few days.  The temperature dropped again just long enough to make me feel virtuous for neglecting those summer socklets for this winter hat.  Silver lining: there usually is one.

I think I mentioned a while back that it is very important to knit with new hand-dyed yarn soon after buying it, so that you can determine whether or not you are going to want more.  You never know when a fiber artist will want to try new paths in life.  How I know:

Not only did I get this fabulous layering of sugar-white throughout the yarn, I got these lovely perfect circles for the crown of this hat.  Had I but realized I would have bought even more of Emily's super yummy Viola yarns when I had the chance.  (Fortunately I did buy quite a bit: hello, semisolid sock patterns!)

Speaking of volumes of yarn, lookit what I managed to squeak out of just one skein of sport weight cashmere blend, with a little help from a contrasting skein:

With a very tiny bit to spare... yarn: it really is amazing.

And while we're talking about yarn, in the context of how to handle copious amounts of it, I had some Very Exciting News about something I can pick up at the Knitter's Frolic on Saturday.  I will let you know more about that next week because there will be a dearth of other fun new developments while I'm on jury duty unless the security people decide to let me bring some knitting.

(In case they don't, I'm spending some time today working out calculations and graph paper supplies so I can do some designing from swatches.  The thought of a whole entire week with nothing creative to show for it is just too painful, don't you think?)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just in time for summer: hat edition

I finished my new pink hat last night!  I'm not sure whether or not it's a success, but I'll try to get pictures of it today and maybe you can weigh in tomorrow. 

(in promising news, the sun is shining here today.  lately any picture I take has looked like it was aged for instagram, thanks to the grey.  which I love - the grey I mean - but not so much for picture-taking purposes.)

Meanwhile, I've been worrying a bit about the summer hat situation. 

A few years back I figured out that I could save a lot of sunscreening time by just covering up, staying in the shade, skipping errands during peak sun hours, etc.  (In case you were looking for clues as to my opinion on beach holidays and sunning generally, there are a few in that sentence there.)

A good hat is essential to this effort but the best hats are the ones you can scrunch up and stuff in your bag, and the hat I loved for this purpose - the hat I found by accident in a department store a few years back, a perfect shade of grey in a linen/cotton blend, which looked lovely on and off and scrunched beautifully oh I could cry - has had its biscuit and eaten it, leaving crumbs all over its brim.

I need a new hat.

And this seems to be the best of what I've found, 'best' referring to the top entry in the minority that don't just look weird on me.  See all that venting on the top?  That's one of the features that puts this cotton knit hat (ironic) by Parkhurst into their summer line.  Yes: it's black and looks really warm (spoiler: it is) but it's supposed to feel cool, and I'm going to trust that this is so when the temperatures hit 80 (or 28ish, if you are a metric person as I am supposed to be.)

One thing it does offer is scrunchability, except maybe for the hoop that shapes the brim.

And shade.  Whew.  Do you know how many pictures it took to get one that showed a bit of my face?  A lot. 

Now the trick is going to be pulling this thing off like an everyday accessory, not something just for weddings.  Because it really looks like it should be jetted off to London for a big society 'do, don't you think?

Meanwhile, I think I will keep looking.  Or maybe I will take apart the old cotton/linen hat and try to copy the pattern to sew a new one because ohhhh the linen, it is so comfortable.

Have a lovely Wednesday - see you tomorrow with more hats on!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Square knitting needles (or, how I fell in love)

Remember last fall I was kinda agonizing about the square knitting needles I bought at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair? 

I had needed to update my supply of 2.25mm Harmony Wood dpns from KnitPicks, but I was also open to trying another brand or material.  I don't love bamboo in that size as it can be so bendy, and there weren't any Addi dpns at the fair, but at the very end of the day I found a whole display rack of Kollage Yarns square needles and thought I'd try them.  I was warned at the time that some knitters need to go up a size with the square needles, but I decided to ignore that advice and bought two sets of 6" long 2.25 dpns.

Buyer's Remorse, Round 1

The gauge I got with 2.25mm square needles turned out to be the gauge I'd get with 2.0mm round needles.  Oops! Still got those first socks on, but they're snug. 

Also: the needles, they are pointy.  SUPER pointy.  And metal.  If you brush past somebody while knitting with slender bamboo needles, the bamboo will bend before you do any harm to the somebody.  With the square needles, it's gonna be the somebody who gets hurt.  I started to get nervous taking socks on the subway, which is for me about 72% of the point of knitting socks.

Finally: the heel of my right hand turned out to be in exactly the wrong place not to be jabbed by that really sharp tip. 

Turning My Back, Temporarily

 After I went back to my KnitPicks needles, which were getting progressively blunter at the ends, I started knitting heavier socks with 2.5mm needles, of which I had only one dpn set.  Since I was doing some crazy levels of concurrent knitting at the time, I needed more.  I started haunting the KnitPicks site waiting for dpns to go on sale, since the company charges shipping to Canada and that puts the price pretty high for a few pairs of needles. 

When I finally got too impatient, I stopped by a local yarn store that sold square needles and bought a 2.75mm pair.  Ha! Learned my lesson and went up a size. 

The socks knitted up like a dream.  I just didn't knit those ones on the subway and everything was fine.

From Fondness to Obsession

Sometime before Christmas I casually mentioned that I would be open to having a set or two of square needles in a 2.5mm size.  Remarks like this usually lead to my getting things like four sets of square needles in a 2.5mm size because apparently, I am hard to buy for.


This did not happen.  It seemed the local stores were out of 2.5mm square needles.  So naturally, I decided to buy them myself.  But the local store never restocked that size (or any other size, which makes me think they are not planning to, which is a shame.) 

And in the meantime, the KnitPicks needles were getting blunter and blunter and even starting to split, which made every stitch a struggle.  (I am not disrespecting Harmony Wood needles here: I've put them through a lot of use and abuse, and consider it amazing they've lasted this long.)

Pretty soon I was hunting for 2.5mm square needles wherever I went.  I didn't even remember any more why I needed them.  I just knew I had to buy some the very next chance I got.

Buyer's Remorse, Round 2

Guess what I found at The Gathering?

I was so far down the MUST. HAVE. path by then, I bought out the shop's entire supply of 2.5mm square needles.  As I paid for them I tried to not calculate what a similar number of KnitPicks needles would cost, shipping included.  All that mattered was that I had finally completed my mission... at least until I finished paying for them.  And also when I took them out of my purse again, and when I took that picture.  Is it just me or are those pricetags outlined in neon lights?

Oh, and can we take a moment to discuss needle length?  7" and 5".  WHAT was I thinking?  7" needles will be even more stabby on the subway!

At Long Last Love

You know how I've been hating the socklets?  Well, a few days after I brought the new square needles home I finally remembered why I had wanted to buy new square needles.

Now I am loving the socklets.  And I am loving the 7" needles because guess what?  The end doesn't jab into my right hand any more.  I can save the 5-inchers for subway knitting.  Everyone's a winner.

ps those needles look so scary, don't they?  like stabby spider things.  I've taken them on the subway anyway though... just very, very carefully.

pps square needles really are awesome.  they are so much easier to grip, and pretty light, and just so kind to your hands and arms.  I love love love them and recommend them for sure.

ppps knitter's frolic is this weekend! totally hunting for more 2.75mm square needles for concurrent winter sock knitting.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Consecutive vs. concurrent

Do you knit lots of stuff all at the same time, or one thing until it's done and only then start the next thing, or something in between those two?

I started out being strictly consecutive; I was a student knitting on a dime, and the extravagance of buying up yarn I could not use in that budget cycle was as astonishingly foreign to me as the thought of one of my residence friends having an account at Holt Renfrew courtesy of her parents (she never abused this, but did have the best lipstick I'd ever seen.)

Now, as you will have noticed if you've been around Hugs long enough, I lean more toward concurrent.  In my busy times I'll pick up between two and four projects in a day and make a little headway on each one.  But this isn't my natural approach to life.  I much prefer to get one thing done and then build on it, which makes concurrent a little stressful, and that's why, in January, I decided to recover from Christmas Knit Burnout by going back to one thing at a time.

That was fine until I got really annoyed with the socklets.  I am just not enjoying them at all - not the designing, not the making, not the finished product.  I needed something different!  So I let myself go ahead and start the hat I want to match my new pink and grey scarfything.

Designing this on paper took about 20 minutes - math and typing included - and so far I'm knitting it exactly as I wrote it down, so it's a perfect cure for socklet boredom.  It's becoming more and more clear that the stitch pattern is kind of lost in this yarn, what with all the white and dark bits scattered across the pink...

... but I need this to work the first time so I'm calling that a Design Feature.

I can't help noticing how life and art are constantly reflecting each other.  I don't remember whether the knitting went concurrent first or in part as a reaction, but in the last few weeks three different women who are either close family friends, or close to somebody else who is, have become critically ill.  One died over the weekend, another was told she will die from her condition, and a third is recovering from surgery, which we are hoping has solved her problem.

So - even though the concurrent knitting thing has been a Win, I feel somewhat ready for some consecutive sads.  Though sads in any quantity are not fun - if they were, they would not be sads.

Other considerations on the hat:

a/ Guilt

I'm bringing the hat to a meeting with me tonight as I'm into a long patch of straight mindless knitting and, more importantly perhaps, this pink and a boring circular needle will be less engrossing to others in the group than the multicoloured stripe on four short needles  I brought last week.  I felt terrible to have been a distraction... just not enough to not bring knitting this time, heh.

b/ Memory

A big patch of the hat got knit over Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I haven't seen that movie in years and was struck by the whole 1970s suburban setting - the period I know from my childhood - and how true it was to those endless-seeming summer days of non-routine, in which nothing bad is supposed to happen but actually does in small ways all the time.  Though my dad never got obsessed about acting on an opportunity to leave earth in the company of aliens, so: how bad is bad?

c/ Wearability

In spite of being nearly the end of April and there having been several hot days already this year, it's cold enough today for a hat to be A Smart thing.  In fact as I type this, I'm remembering that I really need to get one on my head before I go out.  Which will be soon.  So maybe I'd better stop typing and find one?

Time Check: yep, gotta go.  I hope your day is All Good, regardless of either knitting or anvils, and whether they are consecutive or concurrent!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Inspired wrapping for a knitter

When it comes to gift wrapping, especially of small knitted things, I lean toward brown paper lunchbags.  Sometimes I tie them up like a parcel, and sometimes I punch holes in the top for running a pretty ribbon through, which in turn holds a simple gift tag I made myself.  But lately I've been thinking more about wrapping, not least because of Hello Sandwich

A Brief Detour

Do you know this blog?  It fascinates me for its many photographs of everyday life in Japan but also, the crazy wonderful crafting and wrapping.  I have not bought the Hello Sandwich Giftwrapping Zine, just so you know.  (yet.)

And Back to North America

When you shop a lot online you see some pretty great wrapping ideas via the mail too, I suppose because it's a way for each vendor to offer the human touch missing from the actual shopping experience.  This varies from an ordinary box (big shops) to little prettinesses (small crafty shops) and today I have to tell you about a prettiness both practical and delightful.

Isn't that fabulous, with the bright colourful pins run through the twine knot (the pointy bits secured safely with a plastic cap?)  It came from Alewives.  There is... oh! actually, there isn't fabric inside.  Do you want to see what was inside?  It's not knitting.  The knitting comes later.  This has more to do with sewing.

Yes... in addition to Really Cute Kitchen Ribbon, there seem to be pins in there.  Because last time when there was fabric inside, my Alewives bow came with trimmed with two of the leaf-topped pins.  Ahem.

And Now: The Knitting Part

You may be wondering what possible use two pins, however pretty, might have beyond prompting an impulse purchase of more pins, but trust me, I have used those two leaf-topped pins both constantly and exclusively in my sewing ever since.  They sit in an eggcup at my desk with my seam ripper and the two new pins, making them convenient for such exercises as...

... checking gauge for a new project. Heh heh heh.

Have a marvelous weekend if I don't see you!  I'm kicking mine off with a walk and a coffee + pastry with a friend, and then there's the new project to wrangle, so clearly it will be a perfect one here.  Yay!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Citrus socks revisited

Most of my in-house knitting lately has been in the form of escape from out-of-house knitting, ironically to some socks that really, really disappointed me at the very end of the winter.  I refer to my Citrus Socks:

I may have been calling them something else before.  In fact I certainly called them something very nasty at one point. 


This is alpaca boot weight sock yarn, with a bit of nylon thrown in for endurance, which is to say they are for pure luxury.  I'm so used to knitting this particular non-pattern of my own devising, I just went ahead and finished - even grafted - the toe of Sock #1 before trying it on. 

Upon which I discovered I had made the leg too short to ensure there would be enough yarn for the foot (there was, with bags left over) and also the foot too short, since I forgot that alpaca doesn't stretch like wool does.


I was so mad, I started the next sock determined to make both the leg and foot longer.  With a view to ripping the first sock back to the heel flap and making its leg and foot longer.

And now our story resumes

Since the beginning of the misery of the socklets that wouldn't die, I've been slipping into the knitting sofa for a little while at the end of the day to hold the second alpaca sock and pretend it is a comfort bear.  Sometimes I actually knit a bit of it.  Well: the other night, while marveling at the marvels of the original Gidget movie which I somehow missed seeing all these years, I noticed I was getting close to the toe of the second sock. 

Very carefully, as though I might somehow disturb some natural balance by messing up, I counted the rounds from the end of the gusset, and then counted the rounds on Sock #1 from the end of the gusset to where I started to decrease, and then knit an extra two rounds on Sock #2. 

And then I watched Gidget get Moondoggie.  (is it too late to say 'spoiler alert'?)

Then I did the most exciting thing of all:

I pulled out the yarn end I'd run in after the ill-fated grafting of that toe.

(I couldn't actually rip it out because I don't have any needles to put it on till sock #2 is done.)

The whole thing was so encouraging, I even made a start on a third try at the socklets...

.... but they're no alpaca comfort bear.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why you need to go to the Knitter's Frolic, 2012 edition

We all want to go to the Knitter's Frolic here in Toronto, naturally.  Even those of us who live in Australia. If you're near and you can fit it in, the reasons to go are obvious:

Yarny Stuff, and Classes.

But over and above all that, Silvia will be there representing Stoddart Family Farm!

I know I keep saying this over and over, but you will. not. find. softer warmer sock materials than the splendid locally-produced Romney/Mohair yarns Silvia shows.  I know people who swear by Briggs and Little Tuffy yarn (scroll down at the link) and I am sure they have many merits I too would appreciate, but I haven't heard any of them saying ohhhhh, they're so soft! or ohhhh, the colours are so nuanced and beautiful!  which is the general gist of what people say when faced with the splendour of the Stoddart booth.

At the event where I found Silvia this past weekend, she was showing mostly roving, and I could not leave without some.

Here is what I am calling Sunset:

and this is Mossy:

They are both cuddly like teddy bears so I really did have to name them.  I figured out when I was hugging them that each one has a lot more that 115g of fiber, but I got distracted, chatting, and didn't ask how much more.  It's too much to nest on my scales without a bowl, I can tell you that much.

At the Frolic, Silvia will have a lot of yarn too.  Go if you can, and treat yourself, and then make some socks.  You won't believe how much you will love them, come December.  Especially if you don't live in Australia.

The following could be a separate post but you know what? It's related, and I want a longer break from tax stuff.  You're welcome.

Sometimes yarn doesn't listen

I did say Silvia had mostly roving at the last show, right?  She also had some yarns, and since I am still thinking about twined mittens, I couldn't help noticing a basket of bulkier-than-DK weight of undyed yarn.

I thought - just like last time, and I was just as wrong then too - it might match my grey winter coat.

It doesn't.  And why I keep fussing about this I do not know because if a day is cold enough to make twined romney/mohair mittens a practical choice, it is going to be way too cold for this coat; I'd be wearing my dumpy-but-warm black one, which goes with everything.

Worse than my internal argument about mitten colour though is the yarn itself which is saying:

Bob's Socks.

GAH.  So loud.  How can I ignore it?  The guilt alone is overwhelming.  But add to that, the facts:

1. I made Bob try on the Mansocks I made a couple of summers ago for Robert, because they take around the same shoe size.

2. Bob thought I was secretly making the socks for him and only pretending they were for Robert.

3. Bob has been waiting for handknit socks ever since.  He actually looked a little hurt when he admitted this to me the last time I saw him.  Ouch.

Compelling enough?  But wait, there's more!

4. I know there is no way I can knit more Mansocks in fingering type sock yarn.  It's gotta be DK at least.

5. Bob lives in a really cold city and walks to work as much as possible. My go-to superfast DK sock yarn, while lovely and totally worth working with anyway, is simply not warm enough to stand up to that. (I know, I've tested.)

And the last straw?  The absolute most horrible thing to have to ignore?

6. Bob wants me to make him handknit socks.

How many people in your life - people deserving of handknits, I mean - actually ASK you to knit them something?  Okay, it's probably a mixed blessing if they do but honestly, how many?  The more common scenario is
a/ knitter makes beautiful thing and
b/ recipient, with glazed smile, says Ohhhh, how nice!

(this is not true of the people I knit for, especially Lannie.  But it is also true that I hardly ever knit for anybody else because I am not only greedy but die a little inside every time I get the glazed smile.)

Alternatively, you can have in your life a Pete, whose go-to line is Mary.  Please.  Do not knit for me

So there's that.

And also, that schedule for the Frolic classes.  Dang, I really wish I hadn't looked at that schedule when I copied in the link, because I am pretty sure I won't have time for very much Frolicking at all, this year.

Hope your yarn is listening to you today - see you sometime tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sock hop (not)

Well, I have finished my second attempt at customized socklets for my Mary Janes:

The strap works well and it's in the right place, plus the extra wide border is definitely keeping the sides from rolling down.  Even so: I can't decide whether these look really cute or really lame.  I'm leaning toward lame, but that's probably because even though I did get the strap and border right, I got something else very wrong.

Can you tell what?

I bet not.  You're a much more sensible person than I am, and also you can't see the Mary Janes in this picture.  Oh, and you don't have the angle I do, looking down. So this is a pretty unfair question.

Does this help?

Boy, you can really tell how the tiny border makes those sides roll down in the original version of these socks, can't you.  What's not so obvious, so I'll tell you, is how uncomfortable that feels inside the shoe.  Especially on an unexpectedly hot day in April, which I know because I tested them for a few hours yesterday.  The roll is bad, and the lack of strap is bad.  Fortunately it is within my power to add a strap even at this late date, and adding a strap should solve the rolling problem.  Yay for knitting magic!

Okay, have you guessed yet?

Look again, this time at the TOE.

You know that thing about how it's important to read the pattern, and not second-guess the designer? (even though we all know even the best designers have typos in their patterns sometimes.)  Well, the same goes for when you yourself are the designer.  I did not read the pattern, sitting there in the car full of ideas for the big pile of Silvia's amazing roving at my feet.  And I made the foot 10 rows longer before I started the toe, which has given me a perfect toe for ballerina flats, not Mary Janes.

I tested these too and HOOOO boy.  You so much need a sock that comes between you and the front edge of your Mary Jane.  To say nothing of how weird it looks to have sock borders along your strap and down either side of your shoe opening, and then nothing at the end.  You will notice I am providing no picture of this.  That is how weird it looks.

Again though, we gotta say Yay! for the magic of knitting, because I can pick up stitches from the too-late toe and make a little trimmy extension that will excuse me from reknitting the whole front end.

And also, Yay! for the temperature suddenly dropping again this morning.

And one final Yay! for ugly sandals, which is what I ended up wearing at the end of the day because bad socklets in good Mary Janes is just not the way to enjoy a bright and warm afternoon.

* * * * *

Administrative note:   Thanks SO much to everybody who commented or e-mailed me about whether or not to close up shop at my Procrastination Diary and bring all those goodies over here.  Overall feedback: please do, with a minority vote no less compelling to say please don't.

I think the best compromise is to go for it, but with a continued emphasis on knitting most of the time and also the use of very clear post titles and opening paragraphs to allow the anybody who only wants knitting to easily skip over to their next reading opportunity.  Sound good?

I won't make the change till next month probably, as I'd like to overhaul my websites at the same time.  Haven't done any redecorating on that front in ages and I am bubbling over with ideas.

Have a lovely Tuesday - see you tomorrow!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Survey says... what?

Today is grey and rainy, my favourite except when trying to photograph gorgeous new hand-dyed fiber.  It would be my favourite anyway if I had time to spin the gorgeous new hand-dyed fiber, but I seem to be organizing my week instead which is proving to be a Big Job.  It's going to be an unruly one with lots of straw and stuff sticking out at inopportune spots, but at the end of it I'm going to be meeting a friend at a pastry shop coffee so: carrot.

Since I can't show you the pretty things I got from Silvia yesterday, and since I'm organizing everything else in my life today, I want to ask you about

blog content

again.  I know, I just did that, and I hope you don't mind my bringing it up today.  I'm still trying to figure out how to pack the most Hugs into the shiniest new package and an unexpected thought has occurred to me which is...

... what about folding my Procrastination Diary in here?

I've kept my two blogs separate since launching Hugs, which makes less sense now - apart from the most recent post about mouse-wrangling, The Diary has skewed almost entirely crafty for a couple of years, and I know a lot of we knitters sew and draw and decorate and enjoy life generally.  Plus, even when I go a little sew-crazy, I still manage to knit enough to fuel five Hug-worthy posts a week.

Unable to make a decision by myself in the face of so many Ifs and Maybes and not enough caffeine apparently, I'm thinking Survey.

What do you think about the following things showing up here instead of there?

1. The Cottage Project.  This is a biggie, as you can imagine, and all of it pretty much along the lines of home decorating.  There will be sewing - slipcovering, curtaining, pillow-making, tableclothing, and more.  There will also be arty showcasing type things because my uncle is a great collector of vintage everything and he's left some cool things up there.  I have plans for projects that will allow kids to show up for a rainy weekend and still have a good time, too.  And there will some updating of old wool blankets as bedspreads... maybe with needlefelting.  Or sewing.  I just don't know yet.

2. Organizational Aids.  I don't see any more of these on the horizon exactly, but when I come up with a new strategy it usually buys me more crafty time.  So - maybe interesting?  Maybe not?

3. Paper Crafts. I don't scrapbook, but I do decorate with paper in a small way and make my own gift wrap and tags in a much larger one.  Let's face it, we do give away some of what we knit.  Is this something that would appeal to you?

4. Recipes. I only have a few over there, for special family cookies; maybe I should just leave them be, but it would be neater probably to shift them over entirely or post them on my website and link to them from here. H'mmm.

5. Deep Thoughts.  We talked about this last time and it turned out, surprisingly, that those are not entirely uninteresting to people other than me.  I'm guessing they'd be okay here, though realistically: when would I have time, if I'm posting all this other stuff?

Let me know through any channel that suits - e-mail, comment, Ravelry message, smoke signals (though I might not get those, owing to the aforementioned greyness.)  And have a great day, even if you aren't up to your nose hairs in a delightful variety of planning and organizing!

(yes, that was sarcasm; I'd rather watch paint dry, especially if I could drink tea and put my feet up while doing it.  wouldn't you?)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A busy day for this knitter

WHAT a day, folks.  Looking back, the two most prominent parts are easy for me to identify.  Bet you won't guess them though... I'm not sure I would.

In fact, why not? Go ahead - make your two best bets:

1. Peaceful errand, with knitting.

2. A nice visit with my mum, no knitting.

3.  Drive to Port Hope, sooooo much knitting.

4. Lunch at Tim Hortons in a town en route to Port Hope, can't remember the name.  No knitting, but instantly sticky shoes.  I don't know - this was the friendliest, best-staffed Tim's I've been in ever (which is saying something) - and yet the entire floor area was sticky.  ???

5. Arrival at The Gathering, in Port Hope.  Such a nice event with yarny vendors' booths around the outside walls of the community centre's gym, and rows of chairs in the middle for visitors to sit and spin or knit.  So many wheels!  So much roving!  Tools, woven blankets, books, magazines, already-knit things that (dang!) I forgot to buy just as I was leaving, yarn, and - did I say roving?  It was mostly an event for spinners, you see.

6. A visit with Silvia from Stoddart Family Farm, which involved packing about a million conversation points into 5 minutes while we multitasked about getting more of her Romney/mohair items into my bag.  And if I didn't feel kindred spirity enough about Silvia by now, I saw we both use Joy spinning wheels.  Not that she was getting much chance to use hers.

7. Forgotten from The Gathering when it was suddenly time to go:  handknit handwarmers from the booth next to Silvia's - superdang, because they were so soft and pretty - and also the amazing array of Jacob wool products the proceeds from sales of which would go to maintaining the sheep that produced it.  I am kicking myself because I love Jacob wool.  Oh! and I forgot I really did need to say Yes Please to the offer of a vendor's list, because it had the date of next year's Gathering on it. GAH.

8. More driving, this time to Les' farm, and again: sooo much knitting.  Also more coffee because oddly I could barely keep my eyes open any more.

9. A stop at the cemetery near Les' farm to pray over various absent relatives.  Then a very long walk through the stones to revisit the extensive relationships between the families buried there.  Among those unrelated to me in any way was a woman who had buried her 20-something child, then her husband, then died herself at age 55 before WWII was even over.  I can't imagine what all that must have been like, but there were several other women there who'd outlived all their children, so this poor woman's life wasn't a fluke.  Some of the stones dated back to the early 1800s; it's an old cemetery by Ontario standards.

10.  A stop at the trout stream: the fish are starting to clump together in the stream to swim uphill.  So pretty.

11. Arrival at Les' farm to find a whole lotta trees came down over the winter.  Suddenly I understand what he did here every week for all those years when he drove out for the day from the city: he dragged fallen trees with the tractor and then either cut them up or left them somewhere safe to rot down.  I'm not sure how any of that's going to work into anybody's schedule now.

12. A long drive home: still more knitting, still not finished the socklets.  (but close!)  Passed by the offices of Viceroy Homes.  Briefly contemplated what Les' farm would look like with one on it, by way of adding an incentive to go and stay long enough to chop all that wood.

13. Pizza.  No knitting.

14.  Pure exhaustion. Definitely no knitting.

15. And... some typing.  This very typing, in fact.

Okay: what's your guess?  If this were your day, which bits would stand taller for you when you look back at the horizon from the end of it?

Are you ready for the answer?

It was those five minutes with Silvia, and the time in the cemetery reading all those stories over all those generations.

An odd juxtaposition if you ask me, but there it is - and now it seems to be time to fall over entirely.  Hope you're having a good weekend so far!  Come back tomorrow... or maybe Monday... for pictures of Silvia's most irresistible-to-me artwork.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bag in a (knitting or otherwise) bag

Today I am technically writing about my genius new inspiration for knitting two socks at the same time, so as to avoid making one different than the other.

Disclaimer: I'm not talking about two socks at the same time on the same needles.  Definitely using different needles here.

Here is the genius, are you ready???  Okay: you slip one bag inside a slightly larger one.

(I know it seems like you're looking at one tall bag behind a shorter one, but trust me, the tall one is inside the short one.)

Then you put one sock inside the small one, and another in the space between it and the larger bag.

That way they're together, and you can reference them against each other, but you don't get the yarns all tangled up.

I'm thrilled with this idea because it justifies the ridiculous number of bags I've bought from tiny happy for stowing my knitting projects, and might even justify more.  Yes, I realize buying more would be totally irresponsible since I can sew and have a great sewing machine, but Melissa has the BEST fabrics! and her embroidery is lovely, and - well, I just love her stuff, it makes me happy. Go figure.

The socklet design itself is coming along better this time - the wider border does seem to sit flat, and the addition of a strap is going to make it much more comfortable to wear my Mary Jane shoes in hot weather...

... because I noticed a bit of abrasion when I tried wearing them with the first, strapless version of the socklet.

In related news: I worked at these during a meeting last night and was, unfortunately, a distraction.  Was it the colours do you think?  Too yummy not to stare at?

Meanwhile, I'm already having some panic about getting on a plane to go to Italy next year because apparently it's never too soon to start that sort of thing.

As always when faced with things I can't control, I reach for something I can control, which seems to be why I'm obsessing over the most compact possible travel wardrobe.  So here is another aspect of bag-in-a-bag thinking, because I really like wearing baggy pinafores these days, and am trying to determine the best possible bag shape so I only have to bring one.  Which I will presumably wear on the plane.

I've been reading a lot about  travel wardrobes as a result.  The overriding theme seems to be, pack less and wash more.  Hello, Soak! I was going to do that anyway.  Even within that theme though: soooo much range.  You've got the fashion fans dictating outfits that will not peg you as a tourist, and the I Hate Ironing fans promoting wrinkle-free fabrics from artificial fibers that are thin enough to dry fast after washing.

(a thought: what do people do when they're not staying more than a night in one place?  MAN those things would have to dry fast.)

All those agonies though, they just seem to start off on the wrong foot.  Literally.  Because as far as I'm concerned a travel wardrobe has to come down to shoes.  You can be warm in a lot of different kinds of cardi or wrap after all, but you gotta have comfortable feet!

In my case: it's the rugged, waterproof Mary Janes.  I'll be packing for about two weeks of wearing those shoes, since apart from my rainboots which are NOT coming, they're the only footwear I've found that don't send me to the chiropractor's office.

And that means leggings with an above-the-knee pinafore, or cropped pants if I can find a pair that aren't too floaty, or leggings with a little skirt - again, above the knee.  And some tops I can rinse out, one cardi that goes with it all, a good lace wrap for dress up/dress down, a woven scarf for variety, and a raincoat that doesn't look frumpy.


And - oooh! that means I have some ideas for stuff to knit next!  How convenient.

Have a great weekend guys - it looks like I really am getting to go to the spinning/weaving/yarny show tomorrow so with luck I'll have some great books to show you on Sunday.  See you then!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kathi doesn't need a loom, and other stories

I was distracted yesterday by emergency mouseproofing, but even a day late I couldn't resist playing a bit more tag since Kathleen Taylor posted some very good questions of her own.  You'll notice which one especially caught my attention, I think...

(in non-mouse news, the summer socklets are coming on a treat.  today is really gotta-do-taxes day but there might be some socklet knitting instead.  only. human.)

Kathi Wants To Know

1. Have you ever been abducted by aliens? Not that I know of, but that could mean anything. 

2. Do you come here (to this blog) for the knitting, or for the paper dolls, or for American Idol Recaps, or for some other reason? Knitting and the Love Of Kathi.

3. What's your favorite spring flower? The little white ones in my garden, the name of which I forget.

4. The Monkees were a much better band than they ever got credit for. Discuss. Is discussion needed? They were awesome!

5. What's your favorite candy?  Chocklit.

6. What other needlework do you do?  Sewing and very bad embroidery.

7. Is Facebook a Tool of the Devil, or The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened?  or maybe just a Tool? (and I don't mean that in a 'productive implement' way.)

8. If you are a knitter or crocheter, what is your favorite yarn? Just one?  ugggghhhhh - probably Stoddart Family Farm romney/mohair blend. 
* * * * *
9. Why should I not buy a loom? Seriously, why not?
a/ Because if you bought a loom you'd have to buy yarn to use with it; you can't just go using the yarn you'd use for knitting or crochet, and even if you could, you don't have enough to go round all those different crafts.

b/ Because anything you could make with a loom, nobody would ever want.  I mean, a firm scarf the wind won't go through?  Placemats colour-coordinated with a special dining room?  A handspun runner as a wedding gift?  Please - you'd get old tomatoes thrown at you. Maybe even a few of the harder unripe ones.

c/ Because learning new skills is boring, and sometimes even hard.  C'mon, it's not like you ever hold the door open for a challenge.  You'd hate it!

d/ Because the only kind of loom you can buy is the size of a room, and not a tiny room either.  Who has space for a loom?

e/ Because looms are super expensive.  Don't believe those stories about the little portable ones that set you back a quarter of the cost of a spinning wheel.  Like I said, looms are the size of a room; the little ones are just imaginary.

f/ Because even if anybody ever bought you a present, it's not like Mother's Day is coming up.  Or your birthday.  Or even Christmas - the next one of those is, what, three years out still?

* * * * *
10. Do we know each other in person? never even talked on the phone, after - what, 15 years?

11. Which place do you like to visit the most? England, just about any part of it.

Okay guys: time to get out the tax papers and start tallying.  I so hope I'm going to run up against proof that I need to start working through my stash instead of buying new yarn... but fortunately, I have a loom coming, and I'm pretty sure that'll help if I do.

Have a nice day, Kathi!  I'm sure there will be no shopping involved...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Embracing imperfection in knitting

It's not easy for me to say this because I am so very fond of visually balanced things - as opposed to other kinds of balance, like between work and play or sleeping and waking or healthy vs. treats - but:

There is a lot to be said for being okay with less than perfect knitting.

Normally when I'm working on something I'm very picky.  Even though I know those loose stitches in row 46 of that shawl about 13 stitches in from the side are going to not remotely matter to me when the shawl is bunched up and shoved carelessly onto my front hall shelf, or even when it's wrapped around my neck in a heap, they just really matter to me when the shawl is sitting on my lap for all the hours it will take to make it.

If I spot loose stitches so far away from where they happened that I should just Not Even Think About Ripping Out, I'll spent 20 minutes tugging at the neighbouring stitches to try to spread out the pain and make it blend in more.  But if I come upon a second mistake that means ripping back just a few rows?  I will totally rip all the way back to the loose stitches to try to do better.

(and promptly create a few more loose stitches while reknitting that section.)

This is why, I think, my little summer socklets have been such torture.

Look at them.  Curled up like the stripey legs of the Wicked Witch under Dorothy's house, after the ruby slippers were off.  Show your true colours there, kiddlies.

SO many things went wrong as I tried to improvise a pattern that matched my Mary Jane shoes perfectly.  Too many stitches, then too few, not enough border to keep the sides from rolling, the wrong number cast on for the foot, not one but three times (it's true), the closed-over part beginning a bit too close to my toes, then barely far enough away, and then I accidentally put in an extra stitch on the side borders on the second sock.

That last one really put me over the edge.  At that point, I thought:

nobody is going to care about this. 

Not even me.  I'm not releasing it as a pattern, and the whole point is that the socks be practically invisible inside the shoes, so why freak out?  Why not just - finish them.  So I can wear them already, because even though we are back to frigid windy greyness outside again I can bet you we will have another unexpected heatwave just about any ol' minute and I want to be ready.

So I finished them.

I didn't even let it bother me when I noticed I'd accidentally rolled the second ball backwards so the stripes run opposite each other, though I guess I'd better fix that before I knit actual socks with the remains of this yarn.

That's the nice thing about this pattern, in the end - it takes just about as much as I typically have left over from my Vesper socks.  I'd been hoarding those bits in case I ever needed to mend holes in the soles, but after three years of constant use even my original Vespers haven't the least hint of a weak spot, so I'm just gonna go for it.

With a contrasting heel colour to be on the safe side, because I don't think I could stand running out of yarn at a critical moment... and this time, I'm knitting both socks at once, because one pair of imbalanced socks is also about as much as I can stand.

Oh, and I'm doing a wider side border and adding a strap and I just spent two hours deciphering and typing up my notes so I don't mess up again this time.  You know what?  I'm probably not embracing imperfection nearly as much as I think I am.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A rousing game of tag (no running required)

Marilyn at 4 You With Love has invited me to join a game of online tag by answering 11 questions and passing 11 more onto 11 other bloggers.  I'm gonna break the rules of the game a little bit though and instead of tagging more blogs, I'll throw the 11 questions out to you guys - you can answer in the comments or just drink more coffee and read on, according to what pleases you.

(Updated to add: Kathi had a great idea and is playing by posting her answers and a fresh set of questions on her blog.  She has some great stuff there.)

Before I start I'd like to mention that Marilyn values a lot of things I value too, like being organized and living green and - naturally - knitting a lot.  Plus, she's handy: she not only recovered a chair a whole lot better than I did the first time I tried, she documented the process so thoroughly I'm almost tempted to try it again.  (almost.)  You should check out her blog!

Marilyn Wants To Know

1. What blog inspires you most?

Even split between SouleMama and Attic24.  Ironically I'm not interested in farming/homeschooling or crocheting myself, but over and above these focal points both blogs read like magazines with great pictures.  I'm often motivated to incorporate something I've seen there into my own day.  Maybe if I had to take a point from one to the other it'd go to Attic24, because I looooove England so much and miss being there since I became too cowardly to fly.  Lucy's put me onto a lot of little tastes of life there that make it easier for me to be in Canada all the time instead.

2. When did you start blogging?

Wowza.  I had to look up my oldest post to get the answer to this and, gah: coming up on 4 years of posting at least once practically every weekday.  And I wonder why I haven't put together a book-length manuscript in a while.

3. How many blogs do you have?

Two.  I started with my Procrastination Diary, but when I got to knitting all the time I feared the non-knitting readers would hurt themselves banging their heads on a nearby wall, so I launched Hugs For Your Head.  I posted at both every weekday morning for a year or two I think, then eased back on the Procrastination Diary.  I post there whenever I'm doing or thinking about something cool that's not knitting.

4. Do you have a schedule for your blog or do you post randomly?

I have a schedule. Right now, owing to a big ongoing project that isn't knitting, I'm on off-season hours and posting four times a week instead of five.  Except for this week because I'm doing this tag thing instead of putting together my tax stuff (didn't exactly have to twist my arm, did you, Marilyn?)

5. What is your go-to easy meal when you don't have time to cook?

Soup from a tetra pack.  With toast if I remembered to pick up bread.

6. Does your blog have sponsors and if so, how did you acquire them?

No sponsors, just me.

7. What is your favorite way to have people follow your blog?

Any way people read what I write is good - it just makes me happy that people want to do that!

8. What is your next big decorating/remodeling project?

Backdating an early 1970s-era cottage to a 30s/40s feel without actually changing anything.  (except for maybe the wiring, and the addition of another bathroom, and the plugging up of any mousey access points. that last one is probably more important to me than anything because hello: mice got onto my new/old stove this winter, to which I say EW)

9. What is your favorite color combo? (grey/yellow, black/white, etc)

Red and anything.  At the moment I'm in love with red and robin's egg blue with hits of white and brown.

10. Do you use a PC or Mac?

First one, now the other.

11. What is your dream car?

A Citroen DS, which I would never ever have the courage to drive I'm sure.  I still remember the first time I saw one... they are so dreamy. 

I almost never see them in Canada so I have these models to gaze at adoringly when I need cheering up.  Aren't they pretty?  The Easter Bunny brought the yellow one.

Is that 11?  Okay, here are my 11 for you - answer as many or as few as you like in the comments.

(my assumption is that you will opt for so few as to be 'none', which is perfectly okay so no need to pain yourself on my behalf if the comments cupboard is bare as you read this. I know most people are much more responsible and dedicated about assembling tax stuff than I am.)

Mary Wants To Know

1. a/ Did you know you can knit in the round on straight needles? and b/ Would you ever try doing that, or just look at the person who suggested it like this is crazy, and wave a circular needle in front of his/her face?

2. How many real-life, physically-near knitters do you know?  Seriously, I have like 3 local knitting friends and one of those is a friend of a friend I've never met in person.  The others I met online and would be lucky to see once a year.

3. Process or product knitter?

4. Chocolate or maple fudge?

5. Form or function?

6. If you like a pattern in a magazine and buy it so you can make it, do you take the time to photocopy the pattern or just cart the magazine around in your knitting bag till it's all bendy and dog-eared?  

7. What about if the pattern is in a book?  (side note: one time I was knitting something from a book that I hadn't taken the time to photocopy and then suddenly had to go and spend an open-ended amount of time by an hospital bed in an emergency and Lannie wrote out the pattern for me by hand.  Even though she doesn't knit and had no clue what all that coding meant, just so I wouldn't have to cart that heavy book around on top of everything else.

8.  Do you have a non-knitting friend who 'gets' your knitting enough to write out a pattern for you?  Lucky!

9. You're going on vacation: what's the first thing you look into?  a/ airline safety b/ clean socks and underwear c/ a book to take along, or d/ what knitting to bring?

10.  What's your favourite way to cram exercise into a busy day?  I was reading about this town in Europe where business people go to lunchtime dance parties in a parking garage to get in some cardio and I would totally do that if I didn't routinely work (which sometimes means 'knit') through lunch.

11. Preferred movies to knit to: a/ romantic comedy b/drama c/ western d/ action e/ sci-fi?

Bonus fun fact about me: I kinda like westerns.  I'd hate to have to live the way settlers did but the story arcs are so human.

Okay, you're it, if you want to play.  And now I gotta go Kitchener a recently-finished Thing or I'll have nothing exciting to tell you about tomorrow!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ten Things: Easter edition

Easter, spring, bright cheery colours, sunshine (this morning, at least), my cute sheep tape measure forgotten beside my keyboard - so many simple little things leading me to stop and be glad I am alive today.

Some bigger things:

1. Not craving the chocolate I am not having today, because I have such unbelievable willpower (ha: try, cavities I don't want to make worse before I have time to get them filled. next year I am SO not booking my dental checkup for the week before Easter.)

2. Receiving a non-edible bunny to mark the day.

His name is Edgar and he is settling in just fine as you can see (you'll hear more about the yarn, the April offering from this spring's Biscotte club, a bit later.)  Edgar is sitting on the desk in front of me as I type, supporting my chin with his head.  He is very soft and warm.  I love him already.

3. The cover of a magazine I keep not putting away.


I love, LOVE, the red stripey teapot in this picture. And the robin's egg blue chair.  Actually in another new-to-me magazine  I keep stopping at a picture of a robin's egg blue Aga oven in a white and red kitchen.  I could drink in these colours forever.

4. My new ugly sandals.  After I bought them Pete and I had a very serious discussion about whether they could look even uglier if I put handknit socks in them.  Today I tested:

I vote Yes. and also, Yum.  Because the sandals are squishy-comfy in their orthoticky way and the socks are warm and what more does a girl want on a chilly spring day?  (answer: a nap.  I am resisting.)

5. My new pretty sandals.

It would be almost worth knitting some of those socks with the big toe separated out just to see whether it's possible for them to become ugly.

6. Thinking about ugliness and beauty and how they differ for everyone; possibly somebody looking at these pictures is saying Ew where I am saying Oooooo, and vice versa.

7. The curly ends of the Sugared Violets shawl I wore to church today:

I ended up not pinning out the shawl at all, realizing it was just going to to what it wanted anyway.  I put it into water with Soak, forgot about it for half an hour, blotted it in a towel, laid it out on blocking mats, and came back a couple of days later to see whether it was dry.  I take no credit for the result, whether you are thinking Ew or Oooo, but I will say it was very soft around my neck.  And Easter-y!

8. Hot Cross Buns.  Oh MAN, the hot cross buns.

9. Living close to three great bakeries, one of which makes the best hot cross buns ever.

10. Knowing that this is just a few months away:

I bet that view will look even cuter with a new dock stretching invitingly out into the water, don't you?

(well, maybe not.  in fact, the dock might ruin the effect, but it will get me and the canoe out into the lake, so I will live with it.)

Here's hoping you have lots to be happy about today too!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Eye candy for yarn people

This came in the mail on Thursday:

Yarn spaghetti!

No silly, it's the latest installment of Stoddart Family Farm's woolshare program. It's still my much-loved Romney/Mohair blend but instead of the sock or boot weights I can't live without, it's bulky yarn with a looser twist and so soft you can't believe it.  I know I couldn't.

Seriously: mohair can be supersoft.

And soooooo pretty.

I love how it looks like a waterfall, don't you?  Except for not being water colours, unless you're looking at a waterfall downhill from a copper mine.

Not sure what to make with this yet; Silvia suggests mittens, which would certainly maximize the potential for touching this All. The. Time. but also a hat, and we all know how I feel about hats.  Plus this is such a pretty colour for wearing on your head!

* * * * * *

In aid of dock-placement-marking I went to and back from the cottage yesterday.

Knitting Digression

(is that possible in a blog about knitting?)

In about 4.5 hours of driving time (I looked out the window some of the time, too pretty not to) I managed to knit a sockette up to almost the toe decreases, but then I realized I had cast on too few stitches for the top of the foot AGAIN, and had to rip back and then got a few rows back onto the foot.  So I would estimate that each sockette is going to take me about 6 hours, which is unfair because I need about 4 pairs and that is, what, 48 hours of knitting time?  GAH.  More on that later.

Serenity Time

The cottage: it is


I really wish it were possible to bottle real-life scent and then share it online because ooooooomigosh, you cannot believe the way it smells up there in the forest by the lake.  Step out of the car and breathe in and the stress floats off.

(replaced only by the distress of knowing you can't stay because hello the water isn't hooked up and the toilet doesn't work and OH MY GOODNESS does an unheated cottage stay cold after a cold night.  Seriously, my hands were numb after five minutes of trying to measure the sofa for a slipcover.)

There is no beauty like the beauty of a forested lake in the Canadian Shield area of Ontario, and when your neighbours pull up the same time as you do that is pretty nice too.  I am loaded up with tips on how to adapt to this new world of cottage curating, like: there is no shame, and way fewer bug bites, in letting the dock guys put the dock in and take it out every year.  And oddly, watch for people's fishing rods when you head to any of the bonfire events because you so don't want to find a fishhook in your pants.  Not a problem I had anticipated in my long list of Mice? Damp? Rot? Water Supply?

But really, am I likely to go to a bonfire?  Would I not just while away my evenings knitting or spinning or weaving or sewing the slipcover of doom?

Or will I just park myself on the new dock for the duration, looking at this?

So many possibilities.

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend celebrating whatever you might be celebrating at this special time of new beginnings!