Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hab-by Christmas

Look what I made tonight for my Habs-loving husband. It's not quite to scale, and is a little different from what the big boys wear, but I think it's pretty darn cute.

I've made a couple of other mini sweaters for hostess gifts for the holidays using leftover sock yarn. They're quick and easy and so much fun to make. Start to finish was about 3 hours including sewing all the ends and crocheting the C. I've already given away 2 - one to our neighbours and one to my father (I made his using leftover yarn from the socks I made him)

I still have to finish sewing up the sides of the other sweaters and making the mini-hangers. Hoping to be done these and 2 more before Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wild wintery weather

We've had some snow here in Montreal. Lots of other Montreal bloggers have been writing about it, but I think the best example of how much snow we got recently can be seen on the weather page of my coworker Celini.

When you go to that page, click on the little square in the video to make it full screen. It's even more impressive.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What? Pictures? You've got to be kidding!

Ok, it's been a while since I've posted photos. It's been a little crazy around here lately. First of all, we had a french drain put around our house. This was done the week of Hallowe'en, so we didn't have any trick or treaters this year. It was weird not having any kids ringing our doorbell, but it was way too dangerous to let anyone near the house. We were tempted to fill the moat with water and put in fake alligators, but decided rather quickly against it.

Now for some knitting photos which I know have been woefully lacking these days. I'm catching up on a lot of things (sorry, blogging has not been priority #1 for me lately) and my photos are slowly being managed.

Photo of the finished second potamotamus sock - which was finished over a month ago! Recipient has already gotten her pair of socks and apparently loves them. Her favorite colors are purple and green, so I sure hope so!

Below is some gorgeous pink/white angora/merino that I got at a sale at the Montreal Knitting Guild in September. I had bought it to make something for my 4 1/2 year old daughter (imagine, her favorite color is pink!). Tried as I might, I couldn't find the right project for it. First I though a neckwarmer or hat, but that would felt too quickly with the snow play she does. Then I thought of a nice little sweater, but I don't have enough yarn. Then I thought maybe a mini sunrise circle jacket by Kate Gilbert. The sunrise circle was THE idea for a few weeks. I ran into Kate at a workshop with Fiona Ellis (I have those photos processed but you'll have to wait a few days) and she gave me a couple of pointers of how to reduce the pattern to make it 4 year old size. When I did the math, I realized that with the much thinner yarn than the pattern calls for, I would actually have to knit the same number of stitches as if I were making the adult size LARGE, to get a sweater that would fit my daughter for maybe one season. That idea got nixed rather quickly. Also - angora for a 4 year old. She needs superwash. I need the angora. :-)

I've now decided that I'm going to overdye it with blue to make a nice purple color and make a scarf/shawl for me. I haven't figured out yet which pattern, but I'm sure it will come to me one day.

On to my mother's shawl. I've honestly had problems with this shawl. It was going along swimmingly, but then it started to get so repetitive. I had hoped to get it done by her birthday in September. That didn't work. Then I hoped to get it done for Christmas, but that's not going to happen either. Maybe for the spring? i figure I have another 5 or 8 repeats to go before it's large enough. I'm not sure if I'm going to put a border on it or not, maybe a simple scallop or something.

Last but not least - for today anyways - here are the socks in progress. I started these about two weeks ago.

Erika had asked for socks with "all the colors". I promptly went to Blue Moon, picked some nice, muted colorways - but still with many different colors. Guess which one she chose? The one with all of the most vibrant, fluorescent colors possible. The picture here doesn't do the colors justice. Picture pink, yellow, orange, green and blue highlighters.

I do truly love these socks though. I made them a bit big, and think I'll give this first pair to her little friend whose feet are just a bit bigger, and I'll make a pair that's 4 stitches less around so that they fit her this year. I fear that if I keep these for us, that she'll fit them perfectly in the summer.

I do have more photos that have been processed. The next few nights will be for knitting, but I hope that before next week I'll have another post with photos.

Monday, November 26, 2007

more knitting, less photos

So, I had great intentions of posting photos on the weekend. I promise I did. I had taken the pics, adjusted the lighting, retaken the pics. I fiddled a little with them in Lightroom and had exported a few into jpg format and was planning on doing the rest on Saturday night. I promise I did all of this.

Then, I subtly mentioned to my husband that my computer was a little slow, and could he do something to make it faster (i.e. get a faster machine). He proceeded to go out and buy me more RAM, since most of what I do is quite RAM intensive.

That led to the RAM being installed, my computer then consistently rebooting and giving all kinds of errors. The RAM was removed, computer still complained. Now we're (he's) reinstalling Windows for me.

During all of that time, I did finish making a corkscrew scarf with one skein of Sari Silk that Jennifer bought for me as a thank you for pictures I took for her (see I do take pictures!!) - if I didn't know the Lucy Neatby alternative cast off, casting off the 650 stitches would have driven me bonkers!! I like the end result, and it might please me a little more after I give it a good wash. The silk smells a little like barn right now. I also find it's a little heavy, which I hadn't expected.

I also cut up a pullover I'd made a few years ago but never wear, (my first steek), bought a zipper for it, and will soon be installing the zipper. I also was about to sew and cut the dale sweater for my nephew, but when I put the sleeve up against the body, realized that there must have been a mistake in the instructions because I need to do one more row of the little snowflakes. The body always looked a little short to me, now I know why. I frogged the top repeat (which is unique for the top) last night and will be spending the next week or so knitting one more repeat of snowflakes before I can cut it up. I hope to have it ready for Christmas! Looking back at the last post about this sweater (link above), I guess I'd realized earlier that this sweater was a little off-kilter, but hadn't come to the sad realization that I needed a whole row of snowflakes. At least it's not a whole bunch of frogging....

Monday, November 12, 2007

There has been progress

just no pictures...

I have finished my cashmere hat (l.o.v.e. it!)
I finished the pomatomuses (did I say that already) and have cast on a new pair of socks for my daughter. In less than 24 hours I've already turned the heel.

What I have not done is upload pictures of all my WIPs. I have the pics. I have them on the computer I'm on right now. I tried to edit/crop them a little, and Picassa crashed. I don't want to risk it again.

Soon, when I have a little time, I have to take all of the raw photos and treat them properly in Lightroom so I can export them for you to see.

Be warned, a picture-heavy post will be coming soon. (including a picture of me taken by Fiona Ellis herself)

Friday, November 2, 2007

More coming!

As was so elegantly pointed out by Jenn(ifer), I haven't posted in over a month. Why? What's up? Am I still knitting? Am I still buying yarn? Am I still enabling other people to buy yarn and/or other knitting accessories?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes :-)

I haven't posted for a few reasons --

First - my daughter had a pneumonia (albeit mild) so we've been home a lot taking care of her.
Second - This week we had a french drain (weeping tiles for non-Quebec people) installed around our house. The weeks leading up to the french drain was spent getting permits, getting quotes, getting new contractors when the original ones decided not to answer our phone calls and all sorts other fun stuff.
Third - I have no pictures!! Well, that's a lie I have a few pictures of finished objects, but have had little or no time to put them onto the computer. Now that I have an 8 gig card for my camera, I don't need to empty is as often as I used to.
Fourth - with all of the above, there has been little or no time to do anything for myself, and what little time I do have I wanted to knit.

Speaking of knitting, there has indeed been progress. The pomatomuses are done, the Voss sweater that I had started and had put into hibernation for a while is almost done. I've just got half a snowflake pattern to do on the last sleeve. Steeking will happen next week when I help teach a class at my LYS. I started another project which is supposed to be strictly for commuter knitting. It's cashmere though, and I want to keep touching it. I will not knit anything else at home until the Voss is done though. I'm being good.

Photos of all of the above will come soon. Promise. (well....maybe)

On another note, I will be taking a workshop this weekend with Fiona Ellis and was lucky to go for dinner with her tonight. It always amazes me that these knit-goddesses who I've admired for so long are just normal people like you and me. We talked knitting, we talked about tons of other things. It was just like being out with an old friend, but we just met. At one point, there was a lady at a nearby table wearing a beautifully cabled sweater, and we were all trying to figure out if it was handmade. The ribbing and the seams looked like they were done by machine, so we concluded that it must not have been done by hand. Then again, the sweater that Fiona was wearing was one from her book and looked so perfect that it could have been store-bought.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Does a Pomatomus says frog?

I'm sure that sure that even though the Pomatomus is a genus of blue fish, I really don't think that Cookie A. meant it to be a frog. Well, sadly that is where my Pomatomus went last night. Luckily only for a few rows.

Let's start at the beginning...

I'm making these socks for the girls who keep giving Erika their gorgeous clothes when they're finished with them.

For the oldest girl, I decided that I wanted to something a little more funky. Her favorite colors are purple and green, so I went scouring the Blue Moon site for just the right purples and greens. The colors in these pictures just don't do it justice, and it's been raining and grey here for the last few days so I had to take indoor/flash photos. I'll try to get outside shots of the FO to see the right colors. It goes from a nice olive green (and I normally don't like olive green) to dark green to dark purple and then a little hint of the light purple/lavender. The way that the blue moon girls mix their colors is truly genius.

The timing was just perfect, I'd just finished her sister's socks and this came in the mail. After fondling the yarn for a while - it's just sooo soft - I wound it into a ball. When I wind just a little loose on my ballwinder, it makes this neat pattern.

With these colors, it reminded me of the Pomatomus socks from Knitty a while back, and I couldn't resist. I'd been wanting to make myself a pair of pomatomus socks for so long, but didn't think that I'd ever wear them, I figured that a 12 year old girl would love these!

This is the most amazing pattern. So intuitive and easy to follow. I did the top repeats (2 instead of the prescribed 3) in no time at all. I love the way that the top ribbing melts into the scallops and then how the pattern flows into the heel flap. The heel flap and turning the heel went smoothly . Then the foot came along.

I had been going along so well, had practically memorized the pattern and the top of the foot started out the same as all of the others. But there's a difference. I didn't realize that difference until about 6 rows after I'd screwed up and forgotten about the k2tog tbl that I needed to start, and I don't get the nice scallop on one side. You can see on the left of this picture the nice little bit of what looks like ribbing and it should be curving back to the left. Well, that bit of knitting is gone now.

I decided to frog it back to where I knew I was OK, which took a little longer than expected (but no mishaps). After some long conference calls where I just have to listen and not participate too much, I'm back to where I was - with proper pomatomusing on the foot.

There was much rejoicing. I hope to finish the first one this weekend and then get started on the second one before second sock syndrome sets in -- though I don't' think it will for the pomatomus.

I showed these to Dave last night - who complimented me by saying that these were the coolest socks that I'd ever knit. He seemed quite impressed. by knitting. nuff said.

Just as an afterthough to this post - every time that I had to write pomatomus, I needed to go back to Knitty and verify the spelling. You'd think that after writing it 7 times I would have figured it out... Does being the mother of a 4 year old still quality me for pregnancy-brain or have I past that stage and am just a dork who can't write p.o.m.a.t.o.m.u.s. [ you don't need to answer that ]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stripe Generator

I found this really cool stripe generator today. I have a couple of ideas requiring stripes, so this will come in handy.

The next pair or orange socks are almost done - just a few more rows on the toe to finish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Socks for S.

So, the first pair of thank-you socks are done and given away already - before I could take a picture of them even!! They were well appreciated though. It was quite cute, C. opened the socks, exclaimed that she loved orange and put on the socks right away. When she started walking around on the hardwood floors in her house, she was slipping and sliding, and had quite a good time figuring out ways to slip around in her new socks.

The socks for her sister, S., are well on their way now. I cast on for these socks last Thursday and they're coming along quite nicely. I'm a little dissapointed in how the picot cast on curls down, but I think that's a function of the stocking stitch. When I put the sock-in-progress around my arm, the picot edge does 'stand up' properly, so I'm hoping that when the socks are worn, they'll look ok.

Just a few more rows and I'll be able to start the toe decreasing. I'm hoping that I can finish this pair at guild tonight and then cast on for the second one on the train tomorrow.

Oh - it's Jennifer's birthday today - go send her good wishes!

Friday, August 31, 2007

WIP and new toys

One of my sister-in-law's best friends who has three daughters has - over the last 4 years - very generously been handing down their gorgeous clothes that Erika now wears. This summer- I swear - Erika had 52 t-shirts. She didn't wear them all because she would always gravitate towards her top 10 favorites.

As a thank you, I'm knitting a pair of socks for each of the girls. The two youngest girls favorite color is Orange and the oldest's favorite colours are Purple and Green.

For the orange, I'm using Regia Nordic colors and am loving the yarn, the colors and how the end-product looks. It's also got the bonus of being machine washable! I've got one and a half socks done for the smallest daughter. I might put a picot edge for the middle girl, but am not sure.

For the oldest, I'm waiting for my order from Blue Moon - A lightweight Nodding Violet. I can't wait! It's been shipped so I'm hoping I'll get it soon.

I also got these in the mail the other day...

I'd ordered this handy dandy needle holder (actually two of them) so that I could keep my needles in check when I'm not knitting with them. I love it. It's so handy to be able to neatly tuck my needles into their new tin case (made by hand by a tinsmith). If you want some, go to Woolworks. They're awesome!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wow - two weeks behind

About two weeks ago, we went up to the family cottage just north of Ottawa for a relaxing weekend. It was nice to get away from the city for a while, to swim in the lake and be one with nature. We went with another family who have 3 little boys (all under 4 years) so there wasn't much knitting time. I did manage to snap a pic of the finished STR socks I finished recently. These are the same socks that went around Alberta with us.

The color is more accurate in the picture below, but I just love the composition of the sock with the lake in the background above. So, since I can, I'm posting both. :-)

So there I was at the cottage, where I've been going for the last 34 years of my life, and I saw something that's been there all of my life, but I'd never really paid attention to.

It looks like a spinning wheel, it feels like a spinning wheel, it has spun wool on it, so I'm guessing that this is a spinning wheel. Not being a spinner (but wanting to try), I'm wondering if anyone has used a wheel like this.

Here is a closeup. Now the question is - do I bring this thing home? The base is super-heavy (made of cast iron, I think). Would it be usable to spin, or would I get frustrated with this?

In other knitting news... I'm still working on the shawl for my mom, and it's still a stealth project. So far, it's turning out to be quite gorgeous. I love the yarn and the pattern. It's just getting longer and longer to do each row (as was expected) so I need to give myself a little push to get it done. I will be showing the unfinished project to my mother on the weekend, since it will be her birthday party, but will then need to give a good push to finish the thing.

I've also cast on for some orange socks as a thank you present for a friend who gave us a lot of clothes for Erika. Photo coming soon. These are going quickly, since they're for a 5-6 year old girl. There is just not enough knitting time in the day! These days, I get on average 1/2 an hour of knitting time per day which is just not enough to get any significant progress on any projects.

Note to self - when the camera is out - take pictures of the knitting not just the cute kids around me!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Alberta trip - part three

After seeing more of Alberta, including many pump-jacks,

a visit to the hoo-doos and Drumheller (including the awesome Tyrell Museum), we were sadly nearing the end of our trip.

We planned to fly out of Edmonton, which allowed us some time to stop in Carstairs to visit the Custom Woolen Mill.

I was in shock. I'd heard from my father - who has visited before - that this was a cool place to visit. I expected to see wool being processed, but really didn't expect to see the machines that I did.

These machines are from the 1800s, and were brought to rural Alberta by Bill and Fen more than 25 years ago. The whole history is available on their site.

What a fun place to visit. It's in the middle of nowhere, luckily we knew about it, and it wasn't too much out of the way on our drive to Edmonton. It's definitely worth the detour if you're in the area.

As we drove up, I saw a few barns, and it looked like any other farm in Alberta. Then I saw the wool shop, and the bags of wool. I knew I was in heaven.

As we walked into the processing plant, it was like we were walking into a part of history. It wasn't a big huge commercial wool processing plant. Actually, when I walked in, there was no one there to greet us 'officially', you just kind of walk in to the wool washing room. When we asked one of the people there if we should just walk around, she asked a nice looking gentleman (with a hand-knitted hat) to show us around the place. It wasn't until later that I realized that he was one of the owners.

I didn't get any pictures of the washing process, because it was too hot and humid and my camera got all fogged up. Here is the washed yarn getting ready to be carded.

After the wool is washed in two different baths to remove the lanolin, it goes to the carding machines. They can either card it into roving for you crazy spinners out there (actually I have a spinning question coming in the next post), or they can card it into batting for making quilts (which they also make on the premises).

After the wool is carded, it's spun into singles on the spinning mule. They can spin up to 192 bobbins at a time.

I was fascinated by the process. The bobbins go back and forth on the floor on special tracks. This allows the wool to be spun, and then is relaxed as the spinning mule goes back on its tracks.

After the singles are spun, it can also be plied into 2 or 3 ply yarn. I didn't get a picture of the plying machine :(

They sell all of the yarns in the yarn store, but they also make their own socks there using these funky sock knitting machines. The lady (I forget her name - I should really write this stuff down) showed us how the socks were made on these machines. I think she said that she could make one sock in about 3 MINUTES!!! I can't even cast on for a sock in 3 minutes.

It was pretty cool, the machine does the leg of the sock, turns the heel (some version of a short row heel) and then goes on to make the foot. The toe is another short-row toe, which is then sewn together on another machine. I was tempted to buy a pair of ready made socks, but decided to get the alpaca sock yarn instead and make the socks myself.

Here we see three socks that just came off the machine. They're sewn together using a clear thread by the sock knitting machine so that the stitches don't get dropped, but the clear thread gets cut off during the finishing process.

There are these funky little remnants from each sock that they give/sell to a local artist who makes rugs and other things with them. Erika got a few to play with, and was tickled pink. She was amused for almost an hour with these things.

We then got to go to the quilting room where they make their mattress covers and quilts using the same techniques that were used 50 years ago. There is a pattern that is made into a wooden template.

This is then outlined with spikes as a guide, and the sewing head is attached to an arm that travels along the spikes to sew the pattern. It has to be reset to a different part of the pattern a few times in the process so that the whole quilt has design on it.

I had gone to the mill with the intention of buying enough of the Alpaca Lopi to make myself a sweater, but ended up walking out with an entirely different set of purchases. (though I will be making an order for some of the Alpaca Lopi sometime this winter if anyone is interested).

My dad's neighbor raises Alpaca and has the Alpaca wool spun here, so I thought it would be neat to have a sweater made from an animal that I've actually seen in person.

I saw a cute sweater kit for Erika for $35 (yes, $35 for a whole sweater kit!!),

some alpaca sock yarn, (enough for two pair of socks)

the kit for the hat that Bill was wearing (I couldn't resist),

a kit for some funky socks (socks of many colors)

and a whole bunch of belly button warmers.

These belly button warmers are the coolest wool shop advertising I've ever seen. On the back, there's a brief - and humourous - description of how the belly button warmer can be used and the contact information for the mill.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Alberta Trip - part deux

After our first tour of southern Alberta, where we went to Dinosaur provincial park, Writing on Stone provincial park (that was way cool) and Waterton provincial park - where the sock was just too stunned by the beauty of the place - we went back to Cochrane for a few days of rest at my father's place. [ it should be noted that in our vocabulary, rest means going to Stampede, going wool shopping, going to brunch, and generally not resting]

I had heard about the Make 1 yarns trip to the mountains for a knitting retreat, and if they're still doing it in 5 years, I'll probably go on one then when Erika is bigger - but I just had to go and visit their store.


This was more than I had bargained for. They had all of the yarns that people drool over on blogland - misty alpaca, Malabrigo, Alchemy yarns, Rowan, Lorna's Laces, and tons of other hand painted or hand dyed yarns that I hadn't even heard of (but loved none the less). If ever you find yourself anywhere near Calgary, you NEED to go to this store [with your credit card].

The store had just (and by just, I mean the day before) re-opened after a week's worth of renovations. Most of the yarn was still in bags, as the dusty part of the renovations had only finished the day before. I'm sure the store looks much more put-together now, but this is what it looked like when I was there.

I was helped by the lovely Amy, one of the store's owners. I felt totally at home there, was allowed to fondle as much yarn as I wanted, and they even had a little chair with crayons for Erika to color so I could concentrate on the yarn.

I have been wanting for the longest time to make a "Moderne Blanket" in blues with a hint of orange. Amy spent quite some time helping me find the right yarn. First, we were going with some wool (I dont' remember the type) but the orange they had was too vibrant. In the end, I got some Misty Alpaca in cream, light blue, dark blue and orange. I've done a couple of sketches and think it will look pretty snazzy when it's all done.

It's so soft...I wish you could feel it through the screen.

I also got a Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Noro book that I've been looking for in Montreal, but no one has it anymore and a skein of some lovely purple hand painted superwash/mohair. Not sure what I'll do with this one, but as soon as I saw it, I needed it.

The day before the yarn store, Dave had found out about a shop that specializes in Acoustic Guitars. I felt less guilty about buying alpaca for a blanket after he bought himself a new guitar. Let's just say that the cheapest guitar in the shop was just over $1000, and Dave didn't get the cheapest one.

Next post - Alberta trip part 3 where I go to a tour of the Custom Woolen Mills.