Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Quick Salute to Michigan J. Frog...

Cuz I'm thinking a lot about frogs lately. Why....

Cuz I'm frogging pretty much everything I touch! Things are busying up with NSD fundraisers, costumes for kids plays, the local Fun Fair, our upcoming trip to DisneyWorld (necessitating passports etc.) and I'm taking it all out on my knitting.

I ripped back half of the Hobo Bag and about 3 inches of the Adirondack Sweater. (I missed a row of broken rib on the Adirondack Sweater and it just couldn't be fixed with a crochet me, I tried)

Dontcha just love getting knitting stuff in the mail? Lookie what arrived today!

Thanks so much to Carol of Infiknits! ...see her March 14th entry!(and to Mrs. Signorelli, my highschool English teacher for making more of an impression upon me than I realized at the time!)

Well, I'm off to fetch Gillian from therapy and start baking. It's DH's birthday today, the 16th anniversary of his 29th birthday, and I'm baking cherry/peach pie. I also have to whip out some Scottish Shortbread for Gillian to take to school tomorrow. It's "International Snack Day" and it's the only thing palatable to 6 year olds that I could dredge from Scottish cuisine. I considered defaulting to my French-Canadian heritage, but poutine doesn't travel well on a school bus.

Ta for now...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Snapping My Stash

Ok, so I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna flash my stash for all to see. I'm resigned to the humiliation. In fact, I welcome it. Perhaps a bottoming out is the way to recovery.

That said, I'm struggling with the mechanics of displaying and photographing my stash. As evidenced by the blog, photography isn't my long suit. Neither is an artistic eye , so luscious piles of Easter Egg hued mohair, piled upon a white wicker patio table supporting a few casual tossed tulips or jonquils isn't happening either.

No, I'm a "break the back on it" "get in, get done, get out" kinda broad and my stash photographs should reflect this sensibility.

Given the constraints of my house (lousy natural light, low ceilings etc.) the only way to display my stash in one big group shot was to cascade it down the stairs. Well, pile it up on the stairs at least.

Let me say that I have a new found respect for stylists and photographer's assistants. This project took the better part of the morning and had me dangling over the staircase in ways that would have resulted in a grounding for any of my children caught doing the same.

The end result, well, you'll have to check back on April 1st.

In the meantime, progress continues slowly on the Hobo Bag.

I did cast on the Adirondack Sweater for DH this weekend. After spending an entire evening thinking that I couldn't count to 77 and subrtact 33 correctly, I remembered that Elizabeth had sent out a corrected version of Adirondack a couple weeks ago. Of course, I was making the initial error. One of these days, I will remember to check pattern errata BEFORE casting on a project.

As an aside, all the pups are at school today and I have not yet received any calls to retrieve sick children yet! Woo Hoo! Unfortunately, DH is under the weather now...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing Much

And I have the pictures to prove it...
Side A...

And Side B...

Interesting colour combination. My camera isn't capturing it perfectly, but it's a mod, eye-popping mix of orange and hot pink! I'm almost throught the increase rows, starting into the belly of the bag. I was thinking that after the fairly close attention I had to pay to the knitting to ensure that the stripe pattern was "set" correctly, I'd be able to pick up a bit of speed now. No. The bag's capacity is increased at that point through a series of short rows, so I'm probably trading one attention demanding task for another.

On the plus side, it is fascinating to watch the double sided, striped fabric form. I like this technique and the end result enough to consider using it again. Perhaps a less shapely bag or possibly a reversible scarf (nice and straight) would be fun. I have a teeny bit of Noro Kujaku that I haven't found a use for yet. It might be interesting to back it with a solid colour for a reversible knit bag. Wonder what happens if you try to felt double sided fabric? Hmmmm...

As a technical note, I'm knitting the Hobo Bag out of two colours of the same yarn. (Lana Gatto Atom, a suede-like yarn) This apparently does not ensure that each colour is identical in texture and the hot pink skein seems "thicker" than the orange. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but when the two yarns have to balance each other out in the double fabric, I'm noticing that the orange strand just isn't hiding the back colour as well as the hot pink strand does. Well, as we used to call lessons learned in public auditing..."something for the notes for next year file".

Well, I can't blame all of the slow knitting progress on the complexity of the pattern, or witlessness of the knitter. The girls are home for their March Break this week and it was craft day (kids, not mums) followed by clean up day. My SIL/BIL/baby nephew are staying over tomorrow night and I like them enough to want them to have clean sheets and a kitchen free of glitter glue landmines.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Remember this Silly Thing?

This is my variation on Debbie Bliss' knitted bag from Junior Knits.

It's made out of some horrifically coarse yarn that I picked up years ago in the hopes that it would felt. It doesn't of course, so I'm looking for non-garment applications for it. Much of it went to the girls school last year when they needed "hair" for some lifesize paper dolls they were making for the 50th anniversary celebration. The pinks and purples remain with me. :-(

I lined it with plastic canvas rather than fabric to give it a bit of shape and to keep Clare's valuable cache of coloured pencils from slipping out and closed it with a magnetic snap. I think it's pretty homely, but Clare seems to like it.

In other knitting news, the hobo bag continues at a snail's pace. Well, not really a snail's pace, snails move forward very slowly, but they don't race backwards at regular intervals! I've ripped out the first few inches a half dozen times trying to get the increases right.

Since I don't have anything mindless on the needles right now, (ok, Gillian's hoodie is mindless, but the needles are pretty tiny and my wrists need a rest) I'm tempted to make a quick sweater for DH using the Paton's Merino Wool that won't work for the Na Craga. Elizabeth Morrison at Garter Belt has a great pattern for a quick men's sweater, the Adirondack Sweater that is sufficiently "regular-guy" for DH.

"Regular guy" is DH's adjective to describe what he considers an appropriately unadorned style, suitable for guys like him. i.e. A regular-guy haircut is obtained at a barber shop, not a hair salon, a regular-guy car has a modest amount of chrome and comes with four doors. A regular-guy sweater is defined more by what it doesn't have, noticable patterns or textures, bold stripes, colours other than navy, grey, black, or brown, or "interesting" neckline details than by what it is, basically a crewneck sweater. Adirondack is a good, basic sweater, pretty much a crewneck but with a bit of subtle ribbing to give it some visual interest and no ribbing at the bottom band (a personal bugaboo).

Anyway, a simply patterned men's sweater should provide some decent TV knitting, since I can't seem to work on the Hobo Bag without decent light, some quiet and a full night's sleep.

After 2.5 weeks of kids home sick from school, the now-recovered kids are home for their March Break this week. My sitter continues to be unavailable and DH is still working crazy hours. Next Monday is a distant light at the end of the tunnel. Did I mention that I find knitting to be very therapeutic?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Double Knitting for Dummies

Isn't it cute! I'm attempting to make one for Knitomatic! The bag is double knit, that is you knit both sides of the bag at the same time. The result is that it is fairly sturdy and doesn't need to be lined. Sounds great, doesn't it?

In practice, double knitting is a bit trickier than it looks because the position of the yarn determines the success or failure of the project. Despite a detailed tutorial at Stitch Divas, I'm stil struggling. Did I mention that I've been instructed to skip the coloured stripes and just use the same colour throughout? Somehow, for double knitting this further confuses the issue.

I had to create a tutorial for myself. Note the contrasting colours and clearly identified strands "A" and "B".

I'm telling myself it's just the lack of sleep that's making me so thick lately.

Gillian was the big winner in the sick pup competition today. A nasty, barking cough, paired with a high fever and extreme lethargy won her a trip to the doctor! He further gifted her with nasty tasting medicine for her "spotty tonsils".

Think "healthy pup thoughts" everyone!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Your Patience Is Appreciated...

I'm switching my picture hosting page from: to

Works out a bit cheaper and it will be easier not to have to explain the hyphen thing to people trying to remember my URL on the fly.

Anyway, many of the photos on this blog, certainly the older ones are hosted on the old site and it is a very tedious business to change all of the references to the new address. I think I fixed the opening page references. I will be picking backwards through the archive in my spare moments, so if you get those annoying little red Xs instead of pictures, please be patient.

In knitting news, I popped by Knitomatic over the weekend and picked up stuff for a nifty handbag. (pictures to follow, I've barely read through the directions yet!)

I mentioned my swatching woes to Haley and she plunged her hand into an enormous basket of yarn and pulled out a skein of something VERY turquoise. Not quite what DH was imagining for a sweater, as he feels that the 16 colour box of Crayolas is immodestly proportioned.

It was a ball of Philosopher's Two Ply Wool that Haley had been planning to swatch for herself and just never got around to it. Haley's theory was that it was coarser and probably closer in texture to some of the original Starmore yarns. Anyway, I've been swatching with it and it does seem closer to gauge than anything I've found so far.

BTW, Ellery got a real kick out of Knitomatic's new mascot, Pluto! Pluto is a too cute bird who lives on Haley's shoulder at Knitomatic!

My knitting class continued today, interrupted only by a distressed cellphone call from Gillian's school, informing me that my once healthy pup was no longer well. Quick wind up to the "casting off" talk, and I zoomed off to retrieve Boo. It's ok, I'm getting used to this.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I'm not sure I'm up for this....

I'm trying to get gauge for an Alice Starmore Aran sweater, which I had heard rumoured is only slightly less challenging than negotiating peace in the Middle East.

Here are three attempts at a Na Craga gauge square using Patons Classic Merino Wool and 4.0 mm, 4.5 mm and 5.0 mm needles. I don't think any of them are remotely close.

By the way, do not attempt to adjust the colour setting on your monitor, the photo is Black & White. I could claim that this was a deliberate attempt on my part to enhance the detail and texture of the swatches, but really, I changed the colour setting by accident and can't figure out how to switch it back using my currently available number of brain cells.

I'm tempted to soldier on, pick a set of needles and knit the back of the sweater as sort of an "uber-gauge-square". Blocking can really alter the shape and size of large woollen garments, so this might not be as silly as it sounds. Besides, I'm rather committed to the yarn that I have on hand (courtesy of Lewiscraft's recent misfortunes) and I'm getting tired of working on Gillian's sleeveless hoodie.

No pictures of the hoodie so far, it really is just a big, orange rectangle and highly uninteresting.

Ellery and Gillian are back at school today, Clare remains a excellent host organism for whatever phlegm-producing virus has cycled through the school. It's getting rough on both of us. Clare is usually a very high energy child who loves physical activity and arts and crafts projects (the messier the better). For the first couple days of her confinement, she was content to lie on the couch, watch TV and whimper. Now, she is feeling, if not sounding better and she is bored silly. On the other hand, I've been waking up multiple times during the night and early morning because of the sniffy pups and my patience and energy levels are both razor thin. A combustible mixture to say the least.

Any thoughts on how to proceed with the Alice Starmore Na Craga sweater would be appreciated. Positive health thoughts appreciated too!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It finally happened...

Disease and pestilence have descended upon our house...

I'm home with three sick kids right now. The last week has been a roll of the dice as to whether or not the kids finish out a day at school. I've picked all three of them up from school at various times this week (they really seemed fine when I shooed them out in the morning).

I've decided to save myself the trouble and humiliation and declare tomorrow a UNIVERSAL SICK DAY. I'm not even going to consider sending anyone to school, then I won't risk failure, or worse, being judged a callous and insensitive mother for forcing my deathly ill pups to attend school.

In knitting news, I spent the last couple days swatching "also rans". Stuff that might have momentarily seemed like a good idea, but failed to gel into anything remotely suitable. I won't immortalize my failure with photos. Somehow, given that I'm surrounded by mopey, sick pups, being surrounded by hopeless, useless knitted bits seems appropriate.

So, tomorrow is Family Sick Day. I'll be pouring lots of juice and feeling many foreheads. Keep us in your thoughts.