The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

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Surprise and Shrug Roadblock

I knew I had a Babylon Falling “Owner’s Choice” set on the way but the contents blew me away!  Sean made artful picks & here’s what I have to chew on:

BF Owners Choice picnic!

BF Owner's Choice picnic!

Here the lovelies are on my bookcase:

BFs in pride of place

BFs in pride of place

I feel smarter already!  Big thanks to both the benefactor & the facilitator of this care package.  Good push forward for month-end blues.

The Wedding  Guest Shrug hit a wall.  The double-stranding was a pain in the ass.  I was bound to drop one half every stitch & mindless knitting was well nigh impossible.  Also, the colours weren’t flowing.  The silk was falling flat on the lace pattern too.  I knew to call it a day when Hubby saw only a few holes.  So I thought – time to frog.  A few deep breaths later, I had the warring balls of silk separated.  Here’s what I’ve come up with as a solution for these issues – back to basics.  Keeping it at lace weight, and going with a simpler motif.

This means more work – teeny tiny needles.  Ergo more time.  But who am I to blow against the wind?  I’ve also ditched the 1 x 1 ribbing for my preferred 2 x2.  Here’s where it’s at:

Wedding Guest Shrug take 2

Wedding Guest Shrug take 2

The new motif is called ‘little fountain.’  It looked cute on my swatch & only has a 4 row repeat.  Even if I have more stitches, the pattern is easy to remember, so I may make the deadline yet! [Yeah, if I knit every moment available, and manage to ignore the new book stash…]

I honestly cannot fault the yarn for all of this.  It was a gamble going with lace-weight.  The Hand Maiden is holding up very well, and is still a star.  It’s taking the innovation like a pro!

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Perchance a Shrug

After much ado, I finally casted on for the Wedding Guest Shrug.

Step 1 was to find a fishing line counter to accurately split my hank of Handmaiden Lace Silk in two.  I started off on the wrong foot, or as my father would say – with one of my trademark egregrious errors.  I was very certain that the local Hiker’s Haven would have a Shakespeare line counter for sure.  People must fish once they have hiked, right?  Wrong!  I was hunting for Shakespeare thanks to advice from a fellow Raveler, Feather Song.  The good folks at Hiker’s Haven pointed me in the general direction of the big box stores.  I ended up with a Rapala counter.

Step 2 was rigging it to the ball winder (formerly a dining chair support).  At this point, Hubby was highly amused.  It is attached with plastic cinch ties.

Step 3 was counting/ winding.  It is gorgeous yarn with a mind to tangle on itself.  Took most of Saturday but I managed to best that hank.

After all that, I find that even with the yarn knit double it’s a much lower gauge than the Reading in Bed Shrug pattern’s.  Will take longer to make for sure.  I’ve settled on using my 4 mm needles.  That gives me a stitch gauge of around 23 for 4″.  The yarn is making up for all this trouble with every step though.  I simply love it!

Wedding Guest Shrug started at last

Wedding Guest Shrug started at last

On Saturday afternoon we got out & enjoyed the summery weather.  It was blazing!  Hubby’s been dying to walk over to a bridge.  It’s a fair distance but we did cut through a playing field.  Toby couldn’t have been happier, even on the main road.  The bridge is over a golf course valley, and creek.  They have some benches along the side, and the view was really worth the walk.

Yesterday, I headed into Toronto for my cousin’s poetry reading.  I meant to take the train but missed it by a hair.  I did make it in by car but had to wend through & around parade-goers.  The annual Sikh New Year parade was on in the downtown core.  Although 30 mins late, I did catch the readings.  My cousin isn’t decided about having an internet profile, so I’ll keep mum about the details.  I am so proud of her though!  A great way to put the icky week behind me.

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Friday, at last

This was one long, emotional week.  I’m glad to see the back of it.

My great-aunt Gloria passed away, Monday morning.  I tried writing about her but it felt hollow.  Even talking felt the same.  I haven’t known her in my working or married life but she was a God-send in the months before I sat A’Levels.  I forget how it came to pass but she flew to Jamaica, and stayed with us several weeks to tutor me English.

She had taught A’Level English many years.  So long that she tutored my Mother (favourite neice status), and by a twist of fate even taught my Father for a few months while their teacher Father HoLung traveled to China unexpectedly in the term.  In his day she was fierce – all 5 feet some inches of her.  The story is that Gloria arrived, wrote her name on the chalkboard, turned around and imperiously asked the class of Henry VII, “And what does Bradley have to say about this?”  A.C. Bradley was not a known entity to the boys, and Gloria went to each one with a withering cross-examination.  As an aside:  Father HoLung left teaching and in 1981 he founded Missionaries of the Poor in downtown Kingston, Jamaica.

It will feel empty to write more.  She was an amazing woman, and my Mother’s role model for pursuing a working life.  She also wrote beautifully.

In all of the emotion, I have decided to put the baby cardigan down for now.  I was forcing myself to finish it now.  That’s not the spirit in which it was started, so I clearly need a break.  The Baby Bamboo set nicely when blocked, by the way.  I’m finding it’s not a bad choice for this pattern after all.  It only has 20%  wool but that must be what did well with the blocking.  I soaked each piece in water, rolled each in a towel, and blocked out on our guest bed.  I have plenty more to switch into, and besides – the child isn’t even due yet.

That decision taken, I am moving into the silk shrug idea.  This will be my most complex yarn improv to date.  The plan is to use this lace-weight doubled.  The low-tech way would be to use my ruler and measure out even yardage.  As much as I love winding balls by hand, and such, I figure that counting off 300 yards of thin silk yarn could drive me up the wall (so to speak).  I’ve sat with my copy of Knitting Rules by the Yarn Harlot, and have shifted the plan.  Instead of a digital scale, I am out to get a yarn meter.  Fingers are crossed that LYS carries those… I have a vague idea about heading to Toronto if that fails…  My thinking is that a meter will be very useful in terms of using my leftover yarns.

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Walcott, our Laureate

As I probably wrote before, Brother-man’s much vaunted Lady B package also included a copy Derek Walcott’s Nobel Lecture.  It’s hardcover & the first edition.  The proper title is, “The Antilles:  Fragments of Epic Memory.”  It’s a slim (unpaginated, if you please) volume with a rather hoity-toity blurb.  I just finished reading it.  The blurb is rubbish, and the text is amazing.

For all my love of Walcott’s work, I never heard his lecture to the Academy.  I only learned about him after-the-fact.  I got a copy of “Omeros” for Christmas 1992 – precisely because he, a son of St. Lucia, won the Prize in Literature that very month.  My father’s idea of a perfect gift for his sixth form daughter and her head full of A’Level English.  I inhaled “Omeros” – it’s paginated to 325.  Then really became a fan after hearing Walcott read in April ’93 at the Globe Theatre in Kingston.

The lecture is a moving, beautiful thing.  To say, as he does:

At last, islands not written about but writing themselves.

Caribbean culture isn’t inconceivable but will be self-contradictory.  His benediction for a fresh language and a fresh people.  Spoken almost 17 years ago.

Thanks, Brother-man.  Made my day.

ETA: Well, all posts are E&OE… After reading this, my Father wrote to point out some errors.  He also took a jab at my flawless memory.  First of all – it’s the Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston.  My bad.   He quibbled with the date of the reading but that is right.  I know because Walcott dated his autograph.

Less critically, he says Auntie Gloria was teaching either Lear or King Henry IV Part 1 for Father HoLung.  While I am editing, I should add he only ever speaks of Father as Dickie HoLung.  Yep, a story lies behind that bit of irreverance.  Far be it from me to repeat it – bad memory & all!

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Harshing my mellow

Philip Street’s Fisher comic in today’s Globe & Mail is hilarious, and ends with, “Oh, Man.  You’re harshing my mellow.”  Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend harshed mine.  She called me an old woman.  As in, “You are such an old woman.  First knitting, and now orchids,” with maximum snarkiness.  Yea.  Who knows – maybe she plans on returning the handknit fingerless gloves?

Here’s where things stand in my knitting bag.  Massive new Lady B bag is edging me onto more projects.  Still under austerity measures, so no large projects in the works.

On the Needles – We have a 2nd sock that’s growing at the leg.  Pretty mundane, so moving along… We still have the baby cardigan (grits her teeth).  Thought I was blocked and ready to piece it all together.  Hit a snag with the sleeves.  Turns out, I made a dumb mistake, and must re-do said sleeves.  My LYSO figured it out – the sleeves don’t fit the armhole because only one side of each had the increases.  I managed to do this because I knit them both at the same time.  It looked fine with them side-by-side on the needles but they were lop-sided.  Good thing I started well before the baby is due…

In the Pipeline – A shrug for my cousin’s wedding next month.  After hours of searching, I settled on Pam Allen’s Reading in Bed Shrug.  This Hand Maiden lace silk will match the dress to a T (we hope):

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

The yarn is totally lace-weight.  I am going to double the yarn, and swatch like crazy…  I’m not generally a shrug girl, so fingers crossed.  Not sure how I’ll maintain the colourway with doubling – need to give that a think.

I am also experimenting with resizing.  The Sarah Tank Top by Christine Buhagiar (Knitting for Boozehags).  She only gave it in medium, so I am going down to my size – small.  I want to try to use my Estelle 100% silk (grey), and see if it makes for a good tank.  Means adjusting for this new gauge…  Gotta bust that stash!

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Sock to trot

Managed to finish No. 1 Straight-up Sock while listening to Carlheinz Schreiber underwhelm the Oliphant Inquiry.  This is actually my best-to-date heel, gussets & toe.  I’m glad that this ended up becoming another commoner garden sock, so I could actually have a rounded toe for once.  I better cast on its mate while all of this brilliance is fresh in the brain.

Straight-up Sock on my left foot.

Straight-up Sock on my left foot.

Straight-up Sock - gusset, heel & toe, sweet!

Straight-up Sock - gusset, heel & toe, sweet!

The white flecks are from the denim yarn.  In the Spring ’09 issue of Knits the staff reviewed Rowan Denim cotton in the ‘News & Views’ article.  They gave good information on the difference between most yarns, and denim yarns.  Traditionally indigo is used to dye denim cotton.  Wikipedia’s entry on indigo dye is here, and it says:

For many years indigo was also used to produce deep navy blue colors on wool. Indigo does not bond strongly to wool fibers, and wear and repeated washing slowly removes the dye.

Hence the white flecks in mah sock.

Back to Mr. Schreiber.  It was my first day watching his testimony before the Inquiry.  This was the 3rd, and Mr. Wolson for the Inquiry was in full flight.  At some point before the morning break, Mr. Wolson led the witness through 3 pieces of paper.  Without hesitation, Carlheinz Schreiber owns that certain named words are in his handwriting.  When asked (and asked, and asked) if he wrote the words in his handwriting, Carlheinz Schreiber maintains that he did not.  Several circles in the questioning later, Mr. Schreiber gave an explanation for this answer.  How did his handwriting get there?  He allows, “It’s a miracle.”

That was the one rise out of the witness for the day it seemed.  He was later quite flip about giving Mr. Mulroney baseless yet abject apologies in a letter he knew was destined for Prime Minister Harper’s hands.   What a tangled web he wove.

Mr. Pratt also crossed the witness in the afternoon on Mr. Mulroney’s behalf.  It was a good cross but I fell asleep at a certain point.

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Combination stitch is its name

TGFR – Thank God for Ravelers!  A Vancouverite just shed some light [like the rhyme?] on my old knit stitch.

Turns out my old knitting through the back has a name:  combination knitting.  I improvised a real, live method – without knowing it at the time.  I am very grateful for finding this Techniques discussion topic.

Will look into the combination concept some more.  A variation in the venerable English style of knitting – who knew?