Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Time for some Trick or Treat:

(literally, because this Twisted Fiber Art colourway is called Trick or Treat.  This one's getting given away, unlike Mon Petit Chou apparently.)

The houses around our neighbourhood are duded up with some serious horror movie action, and if it's not the same in your neck of the woods I thought you might enjoy seeing a few.

I have to admit, I love the zombie corpse guy at the edge of the front path. 

In the dark, he's going to look so creepy, only candy will motivate kids to hit this place.  Of course, candy is pretty motivating...

This place has gone for the floaty ghost angle, with a side of giant spider.

I don't think you can top this ghost though...

I had to do a double take before I realized the face isn't just a styrofoam head, but a child-sized styrofoam head.  So eerie.

As for me?  I have my work cut out for me.  I've been so busy with renovation stuff I haven't gotten any farther than thanking Pete for remembering to get pumpkins, though yesterday I did throw some grey mesh spider web, complete with spiders, onto the rotted-out porch railings so kids don't mistakenly assume they will offer support on their way up the door. 

Every year I try to change it up a bit.  This time?  I'm pretty much going for 'derelict house'. 

I have a scary-faced cardboard werewolf for the side of the front door, and I cut out a big heart that says Love You! with hearts where the Os and the bottom of the exclamation point are, to up the shock value.  Will it work, do you think?  and what about this spider who's eaten all but the bones of this poor glow-in-the-dark victim - too much?

Man, I will miss the exterior decorating when we're downtown next Halloween.  But not the mad rush to carve pumpkin lanterns an hour before sunset, which is a definite date for later today.

Hope you guys have a great night and a lovely weekend - see you Monday for a BYOC (bring your own candy) fest!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New yarns, great minds

Today's life tip: checking the mail is always more interesting if you're in a yarn club.  Here's the latest from Twisted Fiber Art:

That's 'Seaglass' - gorgeous greens and blues on my favourite roving, Blue Faced Leicester.  Ahhhhhh.  but wait, there's more! because there are two streams of colourways in Twisted's yarn club, and you always get a sample of the other one so you know what you missed.  In this case, 'gala'.

Which, knit up, looks like this.

Christmas tree ornament, or earbud pouch?  You decide!

A couple of days ago Trish dropped by with the next installment in the Indigo Dragonfly club, which we joined as a team to save on shipping.  Luckily that's going to her house because I won't be in my house much longer.  Criminy, I'm going to have to have my yarn clubs redirected!! but more on this problem another day.  The point is, lookit:

Great minds think alike, I say.  This colourway is called Octobaa, and it's clear that the same thing that applied to me and my writing friends - that  fact that there are clusters of creative ideas floating around above our heads and we will often select the same ones without realizing it - applies to yarn too.

Not quite close enough to knit these yarns together... although, they might be, depending on how much the greens and blues blend when I spin the Sea Glass.

It's been a SUPER busy week here for me, how about you?  I knew when we decided it was time to put a second floor on our tiny bungalow there would be a lot of work to do, but I have to admit, it hasn't been arduous work (since I'm still putting off any packing or sorting.)  It's mostly phone work, and e-mail, and decisions, and remembering six things that all have to happen at once, and thinking about where you want to live while it's happening and how you want to live when it's done. 

Double, if you happen to be putting a new deck onto a cottage, and other opportunities come up such as straightening the concrete posts that support the foundation (turns out there's just one guy in a 90 minute driving range of our cottage who does concrete work, and our contractor knew how to get hold of him.  Whew!)

So: I'm really, really ready to sit back and eat bags full of leftover candy when Halloween wraps up tomorrow night.  I won't though, because I am a mature adult with other more productive things to do.

(of course, I am kidding.  I am totally eating leftover candy tomorrow and I don't care how many legal forms I'm allowed to sign, I don't believe I've somehow become a mature adult.)

Have a good day yourself, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Matching up some handspun twins

Do you remember that I was working on a second pair of handspun Ferryboat Mitts last spring?  Well, as the weather got cooler again I finished one half of them, and it's a beautiful half if I do say so myself.

I love the brown cuff and the way the blue stripes hit at regular intervals later on.  I still need to do the thumb of course, but I think it's a beautiful piece of knitting.  If only I could stop there, but no.

Time to cast on the second mitt! and you know that one never, ever looks the same as the first, when you're working with randomly striped handspun yarn. 

I tried very hard not to care so much as I did with the orginal pair of these.  Caring meant constantly snipping off huge sections of colour to feed in something more appropriate in time for the next stripe, and this time the colour shifts in the cake weren't pronounced enough to make a difference.  Also, I would be happy simply to have the pair done.

I wasn't entirely successful - I did do a lot of snipping and adjusting - but I think the pair might look quite nice in the end.  From the knuckles onward, the stripes almost line up, and the non-matching part at the wrist might well end up hidden under a sleeve.

For now though, I am happy.  And so are the mitts!

Now to do the thumbs, and run in a million ends, and then I will be able to set aside another gift knit.

Hope you're getting some stuff accomplished that frees you up for fun... see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This Christmas knit is a problem

Hello, troublemaking gift cowl, looking all innocent in your sun patch:

This thing has been giving me grief since I started spinning the fiber.  It's beautiful fiber, by the way, merino and silk, and I got it on sale from Twisted Fiber Art, feeling especially pleased with myself because Mon Petit Chou was a colourway I'd admired.  But when I got to spinning it I felt differently.  I didn't love the colour combination as much as I had, and I resisted working on it.  Plying it wasn't any more exciting and good heavens, was caking it ever a chore.

Then it came time to allocate yarns to the people for whom I might want to knit cowls and oh dear.  I didn't think there was anybody who would want green and purple when there were so many other combinations on offer from my freshly refilled handspun basket.

I was actually pretty proud of myself when I picked this yarn to knit next, even though I thought I would never be able to justify giving it away.  It's important to have faith in your yarn, after all.  But folks, I did not know what trouble was till I really got going on the pattern.

See, I started to kind of like it.  Too much, if you know what I mean.

How does that happen, anyway?  Why is it that sometimes you just get so overcome by love for a particular knit that you want to keep it, even though you know you need to give it away?  Never mind that you didn't love the yarn till it got to work.  More importantly, how to you fight the temptation?

I'll tell you one thing: it isn't by casting on a matching hat.

Hope your day offers a clearer path, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rummaging at the fall sale

The days when I would rampage through a rummage sale gleefully picking up amazing vintage things drifted away when my tiny house started to fill up, and I've bought very little new or old since I realized I have to pack it all up for the renovation... but it would be wrong not to buy anything at the twice-annual Sale at our local United Church.

Just as it would have been wrong - very, very wrong - not to buy this 1962 pattern booklet.  I don't know which of those hats I'd dread making first, do you?  Maybe the pink Robin Hood one.  The turban might actually be pretty awesome for a chemo cap, and the crocheted pillbox could be updated with something bulky with lots of halo for a sort of Russian look, don't you think?

And check out the back cover.

Those yellow and blue men's socks are completely on point with the very colourful socks I see in the men's stores I pass downtown, and I have no quarrel with the very cute blue and white mittens either.  But do you see those dark green crocheted slippers in the top left corner, just above the pink ones with ducks on them?  Well, try to imagine any man in your life wearing those - and know that there are two more patterns for men's crocheted slippers inside.  Gulp.

Best of all though - and I do mean best:

There are no words.

Now, the thing about this very exciting sale is that I always find something truly fantastic, by which I mean useful, and often that happens in the textile room.  (yes, you read that right. there is a reason they call it The Awesome Fall or Spring Sale.)

This time, it was a stitch dictionary.

It looks like it was published just after 1963 under the protective wing of Pinguin Yarns,  and initially I thought No, nope, Swimming in stitch dictionaries, they're all the same, I have too much to pack already.  But then I came to my senses.  And thank goodness because this tattered little book has much to recommend it.

For one thing, it was owned by a woman with beautiful handwriting.

I love that sense of walking the path of another, older-than-me knitter, don't you?  Also, it's got tons of amazing information in it.  There are detailed and well photographed instructions for knitting, crochet, and tunisian crochet.  But also - fork, or hairpin, crochet.  Had you heard of this?  I hadn't.  It looks really pretty.

Also: two pages just on knitted chevrons.

I've never given much thought to chevrons, but now I see the error of my ways.   There is a lot of yum there.

Most of the book was printed in black and white, but four sheets were done in colour.  I always love to see the fashionable colour combinations of times gone by, and this page was my favourite, with the Christmas-y design at the top left corner.

In fact colour is my favourite part of this very special rummage sale.  I always find the coolest, most colourful things.  Like this fruit-print jug from the kitchen gadget table...

(okay, there were two, and I bought both)

and this linen dresser cloth in pink polka-dots, which was perfectly ironed when I bought it and got a bit crumpled from being packed next to one of the orange jugs.

Writing all this, I realize I am not going to be in the neighbourhood at the time of next year's spring or fall sales.  I'll have to ask Trish to let me know when the signs go up because criminy, it'd be awful to miss any after so many faithful years! 

Hope your day is full of delicious discoveries and I'll see you tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October: time for a scary knit

There are no Hallowe'en decorations up at our place yet, but there was plenty of Scary Knitting going on inside this week, let me tell you.  That is, if you're scared by things like too many decisions and lots of uncertainty and the risk that you might lose many many hours of work and have to redo it all.

Because I am scared by those things, I started with a swatch for the first Gift Cowl of winter 2014.  There are so. many. gift knits this year in general, and the schedule works only if I get the most important and assembly-line-ish ones done before November hits.  But matching up all those handspun yarns with people who might want a cowl... and then finding a stitch pattern to stretch out the limited yardage... well.

I liked the nubbly look of the swatch (even though the lacy stitch was a bit fussy and boring to do) and the yardage was looking good - openwork is always ideal for making the most of the supply you have - so I went for it.  I cast on 60 fast stitches onto an 8mm circular needle and got going.  Whoo hooo!

Whoo - hmmmm?  Something was clearly going on with this cowl.  I mean, a cowl in progress shouldn't be making you think about door wreaths.

And yet, the stitch... the little bobbles on the wrong side resulting from all that texture...

So. Delicious.  Like blackberries or something.  Oh! right, that's what's wrong here.  I shouldn't be seeing the wrong side of a circular knit at all.  That only happens when...

The work is curling like mad.  Which you do not want in a cowl.

I know this really.  I know that you have to be very careful to choose a stitch that is consistent up the length of a cowl, unless you want a fold partway and sometimes you do, and also, that it must be a stitch that wants to lie flat like a board.  Sort of like this checkerboardy option (which happened after I ripped out the whole lace cowl and reknit exactly as far again in the checkerboard.)

Ahhh, so much better.  Still very nubbly, but so much more brainless to stitch.  I didn't realize how, erm, colourful this handspun was going to get post-plying, so a simple stitch is really much better.

Check it out - here's the lace:

and here's the checkerboard:

Okay, so they're both pretty much a lump of crazy, but hopefully it will look like fabric when there's more of it in one place.


It's lying flat.  And that's awfully good news.

Have a great weekend - hopefully without any big scares of your own - and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

First gift socks: complete!

Dare we mark the calendar with the exciting news that this winter's first gift knit is done?

Probably not, because I have to knit another pair the same size, and the first ones took me ages as it was.

I've left the row-marker pins in for the first pair, because they'll tell me how long to knit the feet for the next one.  Decisions like that can really slow me down, I find.

I bought quite a lot of this Twisted Fiber Art club yarn when I had the chance - it's called Downton - and I love how it looks knit up, but the stripes don't quite match up at the toe.

Thank goodness for shoes.

It's funny though because the socks were so perfectly matched when I started them.  In fact, if you look at them from the right angle, you can't even tell where they went wrong.

From a different perspective though, you can see the trouble started at the ankle - the grey ran a little long on the bottom sock, and then the blue a little after it. 

Still: gorgeous socks! and sure to be a hit when I hand them over.  Now to finish the next pair, and the three or four after that...

(gotta earn Boxing Day somehow, right?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New club yarn or, buyer's remorse be gone

Every time I sign up for a yarn club I think WHY?  Why did I do that when I have more yarn than I can ever get through, already?  And then a short time later, the first installment arrives in the mail, wordlessly answering that eternal question.

Sign up for a yarn club: get beautiful yarn you can't wait to knit with.  That's why.

This is the latest from the Vesper club of course - the new colour is 'Walk In The Sun', something I do often in my stripey club socks - and I'm almost afraid to be showing you these pictures because I'm so certain you're sick to death of looking at this sort of yarn by now.  I mean, I know there are many other Vesper obsessives out there (and I'd like to point out that an awful lot of them have far more skeins in their stash than I do, and far fewer socks knit as well) but I don't think many of them are reading Hugs.  Too busy drooling over their own supply I expect.

But back to the name of this stripey.  Over the past couple of weeks I've been arranging to see a friend for coffee just near enough to walk to - which is to say, not over 70 minutes' strolling time, with a little over 70 minutes travel time available.  So I've been putting on a comfy pair of Vespers and my boots, and walking.

I don't know whether all the walking is really going to make a difference to my overall health considering how much time I still spend in a chair working, and it's certainly not as impressive as the miles I see this one particular man putting in every day I do my driving commute to and from downtown, the but it's better than not walking at all. 

What I do know for sure? The Vespers - and handknit socks in general - make it much, much more comfortable to walk that far.  Bonus: walking a long way with handknit socks inside closed shoes or boots makes the wool on the soles felt, the teeniest bit.  Just the right amount to make them soft and smooth underfoot.

Oh, and the other thing I know for sure is that wow,

I really can't wait to knit socks out of this yarn.

Hope you've got something to work on today you're this excited about picking up, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shawl pin to the rescue

You'll recognize this beautiful grey and pink shawl, I'm sure, from its longtime presence on the Hugs banner:

It's 'Sugared Violets' by Rose Beck, and I'm going to shock you: I almost never wear it.  I know - crazy, right?  I used my very best cashmere-blend yarn for this shawl, and I worked hard to get the lace absolutely perfect, and I just don't wear it.  I will sometimes throw it on to keep my neck warm under a winter coat, but never to show off.  Because I can't keep it on me.

Truly.  The ends look so cute and curly until one slides off the back of my shoulder - and one always slides off the back of my shoulder.  I've tried tying the ends, but they just look lumpy and awkward and don't do credit to my knitting or Rose Beck's pattern at all.  So unless I have the whole thing stuffed securely under a coat, I don't bother taking it out of its cubby in the first place.

Until the other day when I really needed something warm and pretty at my neck for an outing, and I remembered this:

Cue the chorus: It's A Shawl Pin, which I also almost never wear.  I mean, I love it, of course.  I bought it from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas because I'd been in love with this design for a few years and by the time I decided to treat myself to it from the first place I'd found it, it was long since sold out.  But I don't use it.  So on this particular day, I decided to try it out.

So, so perfect.  I still got the curls, and I didn't have to deal with the flapping ends or trailing shawl.

I realize I may be the slowest person on the block but - do you have a shawl pin that you actually get around to sticking into your knitting?  Because if you do and you don't, I can highly recommend taking that extra step.

You'll get so much more use out of your scarves and shawls if you do!