Monday, 27 February 2012

Weekend Roundup

Well, winter was just waiting in the wings for another chance. Snow Friday, snow Saturday, snow today, and everything is calf-deep in white again.

I was out at the parents' this weekend, and spent part of the time finishing the last pysanky graphs. In what proved to be excellent timing for testing purposes, DebT had picked up an egg carton of sample balls of 2/8 wool for weaving when she was at Romni in Toronto, and presented it to me Friday with a request for some knit pysanky. So that will be a project this week, along with a bit of the challenge shawl, which has about 8" done now.

Sunday afternoon we popped over to visit Joanne and give her her cria shawls. She was what you might call very happy with them - first time anyone's ever cried over my knitting, to my knowledge. But they are from her alpacas, who she loves, so I suppose that might have something to do with it.

Returned home to find my aunt had dropped by on the way from visiting elsewhere. She stayed for supper, and commissioned a baby set from me. I had been eyeing a set in the Icelandic Knitting book I had from the library, and sorry I had no excuse to make it - but my aunt thought it was very cute also, so I get to make it, and it will add another project to my 12in2012 destash, and a new technique (intarsia) for me.

The chickens are recovering, although only a couple are currently laying. No-one has reported the dogs roaming about again, but neither have they been disposed of. Mom, disliking the uncertainty of if/when they might show up again, is planning to call on the owners, report the incident, and feel them out on the subject herself, and try to get our neighbor to talk to them also, so at least they might have an idea of what to expect from that quarter, and try to get it resolved by the time spring comes.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Recalculating Again

I got about 6" into the stole I was planning for the Guild challenge, weighed the yarn to determine how much I had used, and did some calculations to see how long I could make the stole.

Unfortunately, that length turned out to be about 3 feet. Not long enough for anything but a table runner, really.

Mutter, mutter, frog, frog, frog.

Now I had the info, though, on about how many square inches total of knitting I could produce with the yarn I had, so I played with dimensions to see what some of the possibilities were for a shawl or scarf. After considering a longer, narrower rectangle, and a square, I settled on a triangle, which allows a top edge long enough to wrap around for a scarf. Nice simple shaping, with the pattern stitches in bands, and an edging to knit separately and sew on. Knit from the neck down, it will be easy to stop earlier or extend if my calculations were off. I will simply have to try the full-sized shawl recreation another time.

However, this is the third project in a row where I've needed to frog and recalculate. It's getting to be a habit. Even if the next project goes smoothly, I will likely spend the whole time I'm knitting expecting it to go wonky somehow.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Change in the Air

Although February still has a week to run, the weather has been surprisingly mild. Above zero most days in the last week, and the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the ice is retreating. I would be very tempted to think it's an early spring, only I'm sure the minute I voice that, there will be a change back to cold and snow. Julia certainly feels the change in the weather, though. It's like having a kid at Christmas. Three times this morning before the alarm went off at 7 she woke me up. And she's not settling down for a nap, but has been agitating for an extra walk all morning.

Spring is traditionally a season of change, and movement, and it seems to be coming out in other spots as well. On the positive side, I had a job interview this week, and some government tests to write next week, so here's hoping that one or the other leads to a change in my employment status.
On the negative side, however, the yarn store in town I probably spend the most time in is relocating. Knit-Knackers is moving to Smith's Falls, as a result of the building they're now in getting sold. So I will have to plan out what I might need to buy before they move, since getting to Smith's Falls is a rare occasion for me. They're going to deliver here, still, but it's not the same - I usually don't go in to shop with a particular brand in mind, but do a lot of price and color and yardage comparison, and sometimes end up with a different result than expected. Not that there aren't other yarn stores in town, but it was so convenient to stop in after doing my library run and any other errands downtown. Ah, well, I am sure there will be road trips.

The next spinning project has been started - a bag of llama/wool pencil roving I bought at the first Vendors' Night I went to at the Guild, probably 3 years ago. It's a nice cinnamon-y taupe, and I'm spinning it fine and tight. We'll see what the yardage ends up as, but if it's enough, I might earmark it for a longsleeved underlayer shirt.

And I've started knitting the Challenge fiber, and the results are coming pretty close to what I envisioned.  Now I just have to finish doing the math to see if the yardage will allow me to get a decent-sized stole AND put an edging on it.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Productive Fidgeting

Well, my Borealis sweater is cast off and sewn up, and it fits, so one more item checked off the 12in2012 challenge list. Can't remember if it's #5 or #6, though.
I do think it will have to be my Rhinebeck sweater this year. I'd like to show the vendor (if she's there) what the batt she sold me has grown up to be.

The yarn lying around needing to be plied has been duly plied, and is currently having the twist set. For the non-spinners, that basically means wetting it and letting it dry under tension, added by hanging a weight off the yarn. My version looks a little bizarre, as there are 6 skeins draped over the clothes dryer, with various plastic bottles (conditioner, veg oil, Bovril concentrate...) cradled in the hanging loops to add the weight.

The week's bread is made and baked, the groceries and laundry are done, the first of the Alpha socks has gotten far enough to establish the pattern - and I've cast on another project, the sample version of the shawl I want to make for the Guild Challenge, in a laceweight alpaca. And the pattern-writing for the knit pysanky is progressing. I've sort of decided that as long as there's no other official call on my time, that I'd like to get maybe one pattern done per month this year. A personal challenge. So there should always be one in testing, one being written, and one being knit. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Redneck Mafia

My sweater is so close to done I'll probably be casting off tonight, and I've started a pair of socks. They're Jenna Hurry's 'Alpha', in last winter's Interweave, only I'm having to rejig them a tad, since my gauge is not quite the same, and I really want to use this wool -  a grey marl alpaca from Rhinebeck year before last.

I know I'm going to be fidgety enough to require extra knitting in the next few days. Not only do I have a job interview Tuesday, but the news from my parent's place is worrying, and it'll be Sunday before I hear whether things have been resolved.

I spoke to my mother last night, and she said they'd had what she termed, with grim humour, a St. Valentine's Day massacre. She came home that afternoon to find over half the laying hens and the rooster mauled and dead (but none eaten, oh, no, this was in sport), scattered over the yard, and a few traumatized survivors, two badly wounded.

After tending the injured, cleaning up the mess, and locking the survivors in the barn, she went tracking. Canine tracks, she said, two of them, bigger than coyote and smaller than their dog, (who was thankfully in the house - he's older and not a fighter.) She trailed them through the prickly ash and scrub, and came out on the road, where she lost them.

The neighbor on one side had seen two big, well-kept huskies around midday, and not liking the way they were approaching, she barricaded herself and her animals in the house, after which the dogs had gone down my parent's lane. At the neighbor on the other side, she found the son visiting, and he was, in her words, hopping mad. Seems the dogs had come over (presumably after taking out the chickens) and started threatening him and his mother while they were in the yard. He got her into the house - she recently had a hip operation - and was going for his shotgun, but the dogs wouldn't let him out of the house, until they eventually got bored and left.

The thing about the country, is you can usually find out not only about the animals in question, but also their owners. Inquiry revealed that the people attached to the dogs recently rented a place on the next road, had completely trashed the last place they rented, and were the sort who, if asked to confine their dogs as a nuisance (either privately or officially), would a) say you had no proof, b) NOT lock the dogs up, c) claim they were being harassed, and/or d) find a way of getting revenge on the complainant, which could range from theft to arson.

Mom said she doesn't feel safe going for a walk with the dog anymore, the chickens remaining can't be allowed outside, and the cats - well, luckily it's winter and they don't go out much, but she's going to worry anytime one of them wants to go, even if they can climb trees. She could hear the dogs howling nearby while we talked.

There's an unofficial rule in the country, though. If an animal is harming livestock, the farmer is just as likely to deal with the issue himself. And these dogs were killing for the sport of it and threatening adult humans in broad daylight, so a very real hazard. Of the households most threatened by the dogs, three have shotguns and one has a backhoe, and it gets very Mafia - no-one will have seen or heard anything odd if questioned, but the next time the dogs come and make trouble for someone, they will, with any luck, disappear, and someone will decide to do a bit of ditch-digging with the backhoe the next day. It's not the first time there have been issues with dogs in the area, although it's more often due to idiots who dump unwanted animals out on a country road, and figure they'll be able to fend for themselves - which they do, by going feral and killing livestock. But until word comes that the problem has been solved, I know I will be worrying about what could happen, and very thankful, for once, to be in the city, miles away.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Best. T-shirt. Ever.

We had someone new at the Sunday knitting get-together. And in addition to being a very nice person, she had on what has got to be the most brilliant t-shirt I've seen in a while. The Schrodinger's Cat Liberation Front. Go look . I got the website from her.

I'm still smiling. And despite the fact there are maybe two months a year I can wear a t-shirt, I think I might just have to get one.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Loose Ends

In the process of going through the stash yesterday and today, I found a few incomplete projects that have been languishing for a while. I feel I really should get cracking on a few of those things and get them out of my hair - or at least to the next stage.

Tucked in between the skeins in my handspun/natural-dyed stash, there were 5 skeins of yarn which I spun into singles, dyed, and never got around to plying. Whether that was because I hadn't decided on what I was plying them with, I don't remember. However, there's the Chesterville spin-in this week, and I think I will bring these in addition to whatever's left of the pastel/grey mix stuff, and see if I can't get them plied.

In a bag under some crochet cotton and Briggs and Little yarn, I found a bag of quilt pieces. I dyed the fabric, and Mom and I started the quilt probably, oh, 4-5 years ago. And then she took up weaving and bobbin lace, and I got into Rav, and next thing you know, the quilt got pushed aside. Maybe I can finish piecing the top this year.

And in a basket, I found my first sweater. It never fit very well (besides looking like nothing so much as a calico cat, the way the colors went), and at the time, back when I was in high school, I didn't know enough about how to mess with gauge and patterns to correct it. I think I wore it all of twice before it got pushed to the back of a drawer. I had found it a while back, and figured I might as well frog it and re-use the yarn, at least. Not sure what it'll be, eventually. There won't be enough to remake a good sweater, but maybe accessories. I may even knit a swatch and see whether it felts decently.

I tackled the sweater this afternoon. Two sleeves already ripped, and I'm undoing the body seams. Feels good to be finishing some of these little things.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

That was how the old routine went for our foremothers. It meant you had a clean house and fresh baking for Sunday, and you got your good clothes and tablecloths washed before any stains from Sunday dinner had a chance to set.

Now, I've rearranged things a little from that. No churning to do, and the mending and ironing get done when enough stuff piles up to require it. And now that we're on time-of-use meterage for the electricity, Saturday and Sunday are when the washing and cleaning and baking preferentially get done.

Today the errands got added, since I was too lazy to do them earlier in the week. Yeah. It's suppertime, and I am not only starving, I sincerely doubt I could take a clear photograph, because my arms are so tired. Not only have I baked a batch of cookies and a batch of bread and done the dishes, but those errands? I have made three trips out, on foot, and carried home 34lb of cat litter, the groceries, including milk and sugar and Tide and catfood, and 2 bins from Canadian Tire.

The bins I went to get because they were on sale, and I'd been planning on getting a couple more, to store some stash under my bed. So when I got home with those, I started sorting through stash to see what would go in the bins and reorganizing the rest. And guess what I found. Moth cocoons. Some old, some still alive (albeit briefly). Needless to say, the sorting and cleaning became a little more thorough than planned. A good chunk of it is done, but it got dark before I finished, and it's a job I prefer to do in daylight. So that will get finished in-between doing the laundry tomorrow.

Tonight, food, tea, and maybe a movie. I think I deserve it.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


There are library books due, and I was debating going out to return them, and having a swing by Knit-Knackers for their weekly knit night at the same time.

However, despite the fact that it's sunny and really decent outside, I think I'll stay in. The library books can be renewed online (thank goodness for internet), and anyway, I'm not done with all of them yet. And no travelling means more time to work on things here. I've been good today, and done some carding, and some picture taking (Deb and Christine, y'all had better appreciate the new pic of the pysanky on Rav!), and checked in on the testers for my tam (4 done so far), and a little housework, and sent a job application. Now I want to do a little spinning, and a little knitting, and maybe work on those library books...

The February project for spinning is some grey mix pastel wool. I actually carded the stuff and separated all my nice neat little rolags probably 2 years ago.

It's half grey wool and half indigo, greenweed, and cochineal dyed wool - a color blending exercise, if you will. For spinning, I then do one rolag pink, one peach, one yellow, etc, in rainbow order. Plied against another bobbin of the same, it makes a long-repeat yarn shading through all the colors.

There are a couple skeins done, which I spun initially. Of the remaining 3-4 skeins worth, I've spun close to half, so it shouldn't (knock wood) be an issue to finish them this month.

And after having to rip out once, the body for the peacock sweater is progressing nicely, and the sleeves are done. I'm still very excited about knitting it, (and wearing it) - the fabric is looking so nice! Really, it would be going faster if I didn't stop to admire it every round...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Carton of Eggs

I sewed up and stuffed the last of the pysanky yesterday evening. Mom had asked whether I was going to put them in an egg carton for pictures (like one photo we had of some real pysanky). That was definitely the obvious course to take.

I weighed one of the finished eggs before stuffing, and found that it only took about 5g of the Palette. Since each ball of Palette is 50g, there were no worries about running out of a color! So I figured a round dozen of different pysanky ought to be the goal - fill the egg carton up nicely. Et voila, here they are, with the first two in the lid that are not the same yarn.

Because I did graph variations in knitting and embroidery, and because change in color scheme made such a difference, there really could be dozens from the same set of patterns. But I'm sticking with these, and we'll see how the pattern write-up goes.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Budget? What budget?

Although I did have that debacle with the printer yesterday afternoon, the morning was more than enough to make up for it. Indigodragonfly was having a trunk show out at Just Knitting in Carleton Place, not far away, and I caught a ride with a friend. Not that I need more yarn per se, or need to be spending money unnecessarily...but I have this idea for a shawl I want to make, and indigodragonfly are one of the few people I've found who made yarn in the color and blend I want for my idea. So: excuse to check out their yarn in person, chance to check out the new store (well, new to me!), and oh, right, the store ended up being practically across the road from The Book Gallery , which has to be one of my favorite second-hand bookstores. You can guess what happened, right? Yeah, came home with a stack of books and 2 skeins of yarn.

Hey, that's pretty restrained considering that the bookstore is an entire converted house, and there were plenty of other luscious things at the yarn store too. The yarn is a 50/50 merino/silk fingering, soft and shiny, and I can't wait to play with it. It won't happen anytime in the next few months, but it's there when I'm ready.Just Knitting

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Sometimes things you take for granted get complicated. I'm working on the Pysanky patterns, and need to print out the graph of the newest ones to take around with me and knit from.

As a student, I could always just use the printer at the lab. So while I still have my old printer, it hasn't been used in years. I had to buy a new ink cartridge (because the old one was dried up) before I could even test it to see if it still functioned. And hell, now I know why Dad refills his cartridges, and why the joke is that it's cheaper to buy a new printer than to buy more ink.

Set up printer with new cartridge, plug into computer. Try to print and printer promptly goes offline. Someone said it might be I need to install a driver, or maybe the printer just doesn't work with this computer. The old computer was a PC, this one is a Mac and 10 years newer.

But wait, I still have the old computer. So I figured maybe I could just use my USB, get the file onto the old computer, and print from that. Did that today, remembered the old computer can't read my new USB, put the file on the old USB instead, and got it onto the old computer. Plugged in the printer, and the computer found it, but apparently no driver or whatever was needed to install it there either.

It seems I've had the printer all this time, and never used it, or I would have found that out before. I don't seem to have the CD with the necessary program. And I'm sure after almost a decade, my father wouldn't have kept it either.

At this point I had a headache, and decided I'd had enough. The printer is in its corner until the next electronics recycling I can get to. I will see if anyone wants the ink cartridge. And I will stop at the library and print the graph tomorrow before I go knitting. Some things aren't worth the hassle.

I did some carding and knitting instead. Three silk/wool batts done, and half a sleeve knitted. My new sweater, at least, is entirely satisfactory so far.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


I promised myself that I would get the last of the peacock batt spun by the end of January. Came pretty close - I plied the last of it yesterday. 23 skeins total, and I figure about 1550 meters. Plenty for a sweater. Almost a sweater and a half, really.

I have been thinking for months that I want to make the Borealis sweater out of it. Only one tiny problem. I had started spinning rather before I decided on the sweater pattern - and didn't check what size yarn the sweater used. I just saw a friend's version, went, 'Ooh, pretty, that would probably work with my yarn', and acquired the pattern. Um.

So I went to cast on last night and had my first indication of trouble when I saw the pattern called for 15mm needles. The largest I own is 9mm, and when I tried a sample with them, my yarn looked really tiny. Seems I had been thinking of it as a bulky yarn when it's really around aran-weight. It's only bulky by comparison to what I usually spin.

Well, a quick look around Rav convinced me that the Borealis was still the type of thing I wanted - plain knit, fairly fitted, cowlneck. Out came the calculator, and I plugged in numbers, and swatched, and got a sleeve started. I think I can still do this.

Happily, the yarn is lovely to work with, and has the same quality as Noro or fair-isle, in that you just want to keep going to see the next color-change. All I have to do is remember to not get too into it and forget about things like supper...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Color and Lace

I finished cria shawl #2 Thursday and took it off the blocking pins Friday morning, but hadn't had a chance to take pictures until today. I'm pretty happy with it, and glad the yarn didn't run out. Two tiny balls are all that's left, however, so I was definitely right to stop at 8 repeats.

Off to the parents' for a few days over the weekend. Yes, there is Internet, so why didn't I blog? Too much to do. And no prizes for guessing what most of it was, given that I had undyed rovings and yarn around:

I had lots of fun in the dyepots (indigo, cochineal, coreopsis, and walnut), and the results will be heading for my Etsy shop over the next week or so. I finished spinning almost all the remaining peacock batt - only one bobbin to ply and that will be done and I can start my sweater with it! The pysanky family is growing  - 8 knitted and 5 of those stuffed and finished. These are a bit bigger - maybe the Palette stretches more than what I had for samples, so I will try a couple with a needle size smaller, and can't wait to show them off when they're done. Two testers have finished the Bargello tam, and there were and are adjustments to make to the pattern. Ah, never a dull moment!