Monday, November 12, 2007

So very busy, so very knitty

I am deeply, deeply into giftly knitting right now. I've whipped off scarves, fingerless mitts, began a baby sweater (now on hiatus for post-holiday resumption), and am toiling away still over the dreaded afghan. So much lovely yarn about, and so many pretty patterns...why am I so easily distracted?

With my Ravelry account now keeping me acutely apprised of how many projects I have ongoing, I am trying resolutely to complete as many as possible before moving on to the next conquest. So far, not too bad.

Now, Rhinebeck. We loaded our family into the van on Friday after school and drove four hours to Albany. There was a relatively brief stop in Syracuse to appease my ten year old daughter, Bridget, who was anxious to visit the Carousel Mall. (There weren't too many people at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival wearing Hollister shirts, but Bridget was one of them.) It poured rain on our drive to Albany, and we spent the night at a frighteningly bad Super 8 Motel near the airport. In the morning the weather had improved markedly, and we headed for Rhinebeck.

The countryside was beautiful; I hadn't such a picturesque little highway once we crossed the river. The autumn colours were peaking. We were all quite spellbound. We began to encounter more traffic once we neared the town itself, and in fact there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot once we reached the fairgrounds. The festival itself was wonderful---I'll definitely be back. Barn after barn of beautiful yarn, fleece and roving, as well as spinning wheels and felting equipment and all variety of accessories. So many attendees wore the items they themselves had made, and I recognized several shawls, scarves and sweaters. (Ironically it wasn't exactly knitted garment weather, as the temp was over 20C...) Saw loads of sheep and goats also. I felt comfortably surrounded by such incredible textures and colours...a very sensual experience in that sense.

I was quite well-disciplined in my purchasing. I came away with a beautiful skein of bulky yarn from decadent fibres, with which I plan to make a scarf for my sister. I bought some birch double points, and birch cable needles, both of which I've been thrilled with, and the price was much better than what I'd seen at Canadian stores. Also bought a few crafty sheep items, and then a beautiful carved celtic cross for my father for Christmas. There were so many lovely things at year my plan will be to make careful notes of yardage requirements and weights to take along with me. Can't forget to include the Alligator Scarf kit from Morehouse Farm that I picked up. It's an extremely cute little knit!

It was a great day all around. My kids were well entertained by the wide variety of children's activities, and though my husband didn't come away quite as thrilled as I was, he enjoyed himself all the same.

On the way home, we got lost in the Catskills, which turned out to be one of the best aspects of the trip. The landscape was glorious: serene little roads lined with forest and canopied by leaves, and bends in the way that would lead to scenes of entire hillsides of orange, yellow and red fall colours. The detour added about two hours to the trip, but it was worth it, and we stayed over another night in a hotel about an hour south of Syracuse. This hotel was a huge improvement over our previous night---no bugs, no mildew and clean beds! We all slept soundly.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

head in the clouds

Since finally receiving my ravelry invitation last week, I've been luxuriating in the comfort and the indulgent quality of this new little universe which I am now visiting on a twice or thrice daily basis. I get a wonderful, daydreamy feeling as I sift through the projects, patterns, yarns and blogs. Then there's the guilty pleasure of categorizing all my knit stuff---works in progress, stuff I want to make, all (or most) of my needles, which books I have, which ones I want---the list goes on. It's lovely! Highly recommended.

My travels on Ravelry led me to the exciting discovery the upcoming Rhinebeck festival. Rhinebeck is a town near the Catskills in New York state, where they hold a yearly fair featuring sheep, wool, fibre arts, etc etc. It's coming up fast on October 20th. The website gives lots of great information, and I found myself immediately mapquesting the location to see if it is weekend do-able from Brockville. Mapquest quoted just over 5 hours, and after a brief discussion with my husband we have decided it's a go! So we look forward to a little autumn getaway in a couple of weeks. Hopefully our plucky Canadian dollar remains strong, and I come back with heaps of great deals on wool.

Great success in the finishing department: the silk sweater is all done but for the blocking. I'm looking forward to seeing it on the recipient, but I'm a little concerned it might be a tad short through the body. Fingers crossed.

Also working on a scarf for my sister-in-law (another of the my so-called scarves), and the baby bamboo sweater for little baby-in-waiting. (He/she is still only imaginary at this point.) Fingers crossed again.

Did another little ponytail hat. Great little project to whip off in a night or so.

So now I'm looking forward with great anticipation to Rhinebeck! I plan to bring cash and camera, and look forward to posting my results afterwards.

Monday, September 10, 2007

the old ennuie

I am itching to finish a few projects right now. Specifically, the silk v-neck sweater I've been working on all summer. I've been doing the sleeves for what seems like forever. It will be a great relief to get them off the needles and begin the sewing!

I've made two of the pony tail hats in Opal sock yarn for my daughters and they've been a big success: easy to complete and very well-received by the wearers. They would make a great little Christmas gift to whip off in an evening or two!

I'm still labouring away on my reversibly-cabled afghan, which is going well but seems to move along at a snail's pace. I've got a good two feet completed which puts me at about the half way point (I think). It'll be a very cozy, comfortable blanket when it's finished, and it's a great fall knitting project. Perfect to let drape down over your legs on a crisp afternoon, whenever we get one of those!

I'm very eager to try the new Sirdar Baby Bamboo DK yarn, and to buy the Baby Bamboo booklet which features a number of really classic patterns for infants and kids. I like the colour choices of the yarn, not just your standard baby pastels (who's knitting with those anymore anyway?). I'm thinking ahead here, but my sister/best friend is beginning to drop hints that this may be the year that they start trying for a baby, so I am getting my niece/nephew knitting all lined up in my head!

I'll also be keeping my eyes peeled for a beautiful christening gown/set pattern, since the family christening gown, which all five of us siblings wore, was singed with an iron (by me) right before my last daughter was baptised. I have been feeling horribly guilty about it since, and have always planned to knit something gorgeous in order to make up for it. So we'll see.

All my plans for Christmas knit gifts, except for the afghan, seem as though they will be going unfulfilled unless I pick up the pace in short order. Which I doubt is likely. The nice thing about knitting plans though is that they can generally always be rolled over into the following birthday/anniversary or even next Christmas!

Still haven't received my fall issue of Interweave Knits, which is bothering me. I've been drooling regularly over the preview on their website, and I placed the subscription order way back in August. Will have to send an e-mail...hmmm

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I got knitty in Nova Scotia

There is nothing like a seventeen hour drive to get some serious knitting done. Especially if you do it twice.

We had an amazing trip out east in mid-July, and I must admit, I was knitting A LOT. We stayed in a great little cottage overlooking the ocean in the small community of South West Port Mouton (pronounced M'toon). It's about and hour and a half south of Halifax along the Atlantic side of the province. The whole area seemed so calm and pastoral: the sound of the waves against the sand beach mixed with my children's voices floating up from the beach was the perfect backdrop against which to sit on the porch and knit. The porch was well-equipped with four big yellow adirondack chairs facing out on the ocean. It was idyllic.
My sister and I visited a small yarn shop in Liverpool, called The
Ball and Skein, which was tucked away inside a camera store, of all places. It had some tools of the trade, and a limited selection of yarns. The only stand-out I saw was the locally produced Briggs & Little, a weighty wool great for heavy socks and fisherman-knit sweaters. They have some great colours and hold a real 'sheep' smell---some might not find it appealing, but I quite enjoyed its gamey odor!

We also visited Have a Yarn in Mahone Bay, which was highly enjoyable! They have a wide selection of yarns, including some absolutely stunning blends by Handmaiden (a division of Fleece Artist), also of Nova Scotia. I went back and forth on buying a skein at forty dollars, but in the end I couldn't justify the purchase when I came to NS with four ongoing projects in tow. There's always the internet...

I made the great little scarf on the Sheep in the City website with the Manos Del Uruguay I purchased a while ago. It turned out really well, and was a great quick knit. I also have my reversibly cabled afghan on the go, which seemed to take forever to complete a row, but is fascinating to see emerging on the needle! (It uses a circular.)

Time to get back at it...I have other items on the go as well, but I'll save that for later. Another vacation is a week and a half away, when we plan to head for the cottage. I foresee a lot of needle-clacking on that porch too, with any luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The little log cabin in my mind

It happens every year. The girls are finished school, my husband has wrapped up another year of teaching, the weather is getting steadily warmer, and I'm cottage-hungry: longing to be sitting on a deck overlooking the sparkling water, dappled sunlight streaming through the forest, my dog panting away happily at my feet, next to the little cooler stocked full of cold beer, and my knitting in my hands.
(Thanks Ted Kaiser for the photo of beautiful Lost Bay Lake.)

Still lots of soccer knitting time for me, though I'm itching to do something new. I'm hoping to fit in a trip to Kingston this week to get wool for a new project with which I'll occupy myself on our upcoming trip to Nova Scotia. It's about a sixteen hour drive from our neck of the woods; that's a lot of knitting time. I'm thinking about perhaps beginning an afghan. Or maybe a sweater that I promised a friend I'd make for her.

Between all my daydreaming about vacations and hiding away in the woods, we are trying to renew our mortage and put on a new roof. Not very romantic, but must be done. The roof is overdue for this---especially at the back on the ten year old addition. Very curled shingles.

We visited friends yesterday at a quaint cottage on the Ottawa river. They also have three little girls, and it was wonderful to see them, and to watch the children having a grand time all together.

It is a lovely thing about summer, that we seem to be able to more easily set aside time here and there to gather with friends, to catch up and to take life at a somewhat slower pace, at least for a few hours.

WIth that, I'll return for a few more moments to my daydreams before getting back to work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Horror of horrors

Well that didn't take long. I had only been knitting on my beautiful rosewood needles for two days or so before catching the tip of one of them in the handle of my car door. I grabbed for my knitting bag while getting out of the vehicle in Ottawa, and before I knew what was happening, I heard the telltale 'snap.' One tipless needle. Very very sad. My father, ever the optimist, says he will try to repair it for me, since it was a relatively clean break. I'm happy to let him give it a try, but we'll see.

Thankfully, I had a 4 mm circular needle with me, so I knit away with my remaining rosewood beauty and the grey metal circular replacement. Now I've switched back to my good old 4 mm bamboo pair, but it's just not the same...

Great headway on the little tunic/dress thing for Bronwyn, my middle daughter. I won't get much done this week though as it will be a crazy hectic week for me between work, an exam, and my youngest's birthday on Saturday. I forecast EXTREME caffeine consumption.

After the Saturday birthday party, I visualize myself on my porch, knitting on my lap, and cold brewed beverage in hand. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Delinquent me

Yikes---April was a long time ago. Oh well, onwards and upwards I guess. I've completed two projects in the meantime: the cotton dress I talked about starting, and the small vest with a fair isle border.

I made both quite big (relative to their intended wearers) since I have a real phobia about ending up with a garment that is far too small after I've procrastinated for months, and taken way too long to finish the item. This means that my daughter's dress will fit her for the next 3 or 4 years!

Things have been extremely busy at home, with soccer season begun now in earnest. My 3 daughters and my husband all play. Luckily this creates many opportunities to knit, as we drive all over the place to games, and then while I sit in my folding chair and watch them play! Hours of needle time.

Also this spring I've been taking a course at the university of Ottawa, and my father happens to be taking a course that runs on the same days. He does the driving so again, excellent knitting time created for me as we cruise through the countryside twice a week!

My eldest daughter surprised me for my birthday back in April with a pair of Rosewood knitting needles. I've finally gotten a chance to use them and they are delicious---definitely like knitting with butter, as someone described them to me. I'll have to slowly build up a collection.

Lots of projects floating around in my head, and with the wool sales I'm seeing on these days it's hard to resist buying lots and salting it away. Saw a gorgeous Jo Sharp book at Wooltyme in Kingston the other day and spent many minutes drooling over it in store. (Children and husband take note---this type of purchase can be hidden away for Christmas, etc)

Off to Ottawa today (again!) to watch my younger brother compete in the provincial high school track and field championships. He throws javelin, and placed 2nd last year. Definitely bringing my knitting!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Poisson D'Avril

We were woken up this morning by one of our three daughters (I was too bleary-eyed to see which one) slipping a block of ice into our bed, and shrieking "April Fools" down the hall as she ran out. We've managed to convince them now that we've been concocting an elaborate plan to avenge ourselves, so they have been living in fear for the rest of the morning!
I've been knitting in fits and bursts over the last month or so, but have only completed the sweater for Bridget, which turned out nicely. I sewed it while driving back and forth from Montreal over the March break. I've got most of the Monkeysuits dress done for Meredith, and I'm very pleased so far...I may even make one for Bronwyn afterwards, and then the tank top version for Bridget if I'm really enthusiastic about it.
I've also begun a fair isle border sweater vest for a friend's new baby, Niko. Both he and the vest are adorable. My husband and I have had a running argument about whether the sweater vest (in a light-weight DK) is geeky or very cute. (He of the opinion: vests are geeky, me of the opinion that all cute, hip baby boys are sporting these.) I feel rightly vidicated though, since visiting my friend Val the other day, and seeing her new portraits of her two boys BOTH in sweater vests (but a different colour than I'm making---whew) and looking sweet! So ha ha, and a big raspberry to my husband. He admits that baby style is not his forte.
Photos to follow, and now I'm back to the rush of the day. Knitting later, I hope.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Little time to knit

It's been a busy week with work and children this week, and I've been craving some time to myself to knit. I was excited to receive my little package in the mail---very cute cotton wool from Elann and pattern from monkeysuits which I can't wait to knit up for Meredith. Of course, I'm trying to hold myself back from my usual bad habit of beginning the new project before finishing the old. I plan on heading home at lunchtime today to add a couple of inches to the sleeves of Bridget's sweater. I had run out of wool, so I was lucky to be able to stop into the Woolly Lamb yesterday, which is our local yarn shop. It's tiny, but crammed full of beautiful wool and a brilliant selection of patterns. I could have grazed around in there for a couple of hours, minimum, but I had two of my three children with me, as well as my partner, and they of them were less enthusisatic than I was. (The girls had a decent time inspecting the feel of different yarns, though---it's a start!)
I attended a concert last night in which my daughter's school choir participated. It was a Newfoundland act, the Cobblestones, and I had packed my knitting into my purse in case I found a need to fill the time. Happy to report, the show was very entertaining, so I didn't need to pull it out once. But this morning I discovered that unfortunately while fishing for my wallet at some point in the evening I'd accidentally yanked at my needles, and half a row had come off. This is likely what will occupy most of my lunchhour knitting session.
High hopes that I'll find time to finish the sweater in SWS this week...wish me luck.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Finished the wrist warmers yesterday...and I'm always so happy when a project I've begun on a whim actually gets completed, and in a (relatively) short time. I quite enjoyed the yarn also, Diamond Tempo (25% wool, 75% acrylic). The colour was very rich, and the mix of acrylic would make it a good choice for kids' sweaters, etc. I'll have to see how it holds up with wear---hopefully no pilling. We'll see...

I immediately picked up Bridie's sweater (raglan sleeve j.crew-style rollneck, with a nice tangly cable down the front) and this morning finished the front. I'm using Patons SWS for this, but I don't know if I'd use it again for a sweater like this. It looks very pretty with the stripes, but I'm sure it's bound to get filthy over and over as it goes down through my three daughters, and I'm sure I'll end up ruining it at some point in the wash. Oh well.

I'm expecting an order from this week, which will be fun. I've ordered a great reversibly cabled afghan pattern, and it'll be my first afghan attempt ever.

Great pancake and waffle breakfast this morning made by my husband, Jeremy. I hope my mum never reads this, but his pancakes (from scratch) are even better than hers!

Friday, February 16, 2007

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It's Friday 3 p.m....shouldln't I be about to heave a big sigh of relief? I've been draggin myself around all afternoon, to be honest, and wishing desperately I was at home on the couch, drifting between naps and knitting, and watching trashy t.v. I was wishing this morning that I'd finished the other 'wrist warmer' or fingerless mitten, or whatever you want to call it, since it was bone-chillingly cold and I'd had to walk up to pick up the van after dropping off the younger girls at school. At the crest of the overpass I felt as if my face was going to fall off.
I'm still in the midst of 2 projects (well, at least 2 active ones, and inumerable old projects at the bottom of the knitting bench/trunk...) but I think I'll get the wrist things done tonight and will at least move on to the sleeves of the kid's sweater by the end of the weekend. Bridie is getting impatient waiting for it.
My plan at this point is still to knit gifts for my family for xmas 07, and I'm eager to get going. I'll have to actually make decisions on what to knit though, and this could be difficult. I've just bought the Debbie Bliss Donegal Knits book, and several things in there look luscious.