The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Emancipation Eve

Remember this summer’s socks?  The Summer Seductions.  Love the yarn but it was a total mystery.  Well!  Thanks to kind Ravelers, I now have a handle on it.  All good news from TelmahQ: –

  • superwash, i.e. good to go in the laundry; no need for manual labour;
  • 80% wool; 20% nylon lends durability.  Great blend ratio there; and
  • I was right to use the teeny size 1 needles to get gauge.

Lovely specs for sure & in keeping with the brand…  It’s high up there on the covet list:  Lorna’s Laces!  Yes it is :).  An exclusive colourway of Shepherd Striping Sock for Purl yarn store, New York.  Purl’s webpage on the yarn is here.

I’m pretty sure we have the right one.  Compare that with the stash pic that I posted in Ravelry.  Any resemblance to anything in this pic is unintentional.  It may well be Freudian but as to that, TKK has no comment…

Back to the present.  My 1st sleeve on the Purple Cardi is growing apace.  There are 17 + inches of sleeve but even I know that’s not picture-worthy.  It’s great because – catch this – I am getting the knack of knitting by feel alone!  Woot!  Here I am looking like a pro and nabbing Toby when he’s up to no good.  Poor dog counts on my distraction to climb up the pack’s social ladder.

The next project will be for my friend’s expected bundle of joy.  We were calling it the Baby Bump but that’s way too generic.  Henceforth the Bump is to be known as Sushi Moss.  Sex is TBD, hopefully soon:)  In the meantime, I’m a cooking up some ideas!

We have a long weekend, and the rain has lifted for a little bit.  They call it the Civic Holiday. No clue why but for us it’s Emancipation.  Happy August 1st when it comes, everyone!


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Rainy days

As much as I’d love summertime to show up, this weather is good for the knitting.   Here we are at the end of July & I am working on an alpaca & silk cardigan?!  Nuts, man.  The cardigan I speak of is Connie Chang Chinchio‘s spring IK design:  my purple cocoon cardi.

For the moment we are ignoring the problems I had with the front left piece, okay?  This is the start of a sleeve:

The former-earring-cum-marker is at Row 39.  I have another 20 or so rows of this cocoon pattern to go.

Hydrangeas also like rainy, cool Julys:

In & amongst the hydrangeas is a wildflower (weed?) that didn’t quite get thinned out this year.  Austerity Tip – to avoid spending $$$ on mulch just let the wildflowers be.   Oh and yes, DH has yet to cut the grass.

Other exciting but fully unrelated news:  (A) right foot is on the mend; (B) right foot was not broken!  Took me 3 weeks  & 2 follow-up visits to the Dr. to get this simple x-ray report… Universal health care.  As Uncle Pat always said, “Remember you are dealing with bureaucrats.  Be nice to them.  They are bureaucrats.”  That’s all I have to say about that.

Since the sprain is now low-grade, I have liberated my foot from the infernal boot.  It was giving me blisters even with cushioning & a sock & moisturizing.  I am to do physio, and all that good stuff.  In the meantime, I am getting the knack of walking sans right boot cast.


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Shawls it up

This weekend was basically one long bout of knitting.  For one thing it was dark & stormy.  For another there was the Hungarian Grand Prix & Tour de France to be watched.  I do have something to show for it:  a fierce Aestlight shawl we like to call Bluefields!

Finished her up yesterday evening & did a quick evening out with the steam iron.  Trying not to brag now but here she is:

Please ignore the crazy lady hair in this next one… Look!  I have a wingspan!

Rocking the shawl and the knit stitch pendant:

The ends are long enough to tie at the front, which is a bonus I wasn’t expecting really.  When front-tied, here’s how she looks from the back:

I improvised as I knitted along.  The main goal was to use 2 skeins of the same yarn evenly.  The intarsia method worked wonders on the body.  Here is the wrong side but yarn carries are not pronounced:

The scallop edging is half 1 skein; half the other.  I grafted the middle scallop using Kitchener stitch, and felt pretty clever.  My only other mods were simple – cable cast-on for the edging & sewn cast-off for the top of the triangle.

What’s left of my 2 hanks of Araucania:

Can I eke out a pair of socks from this?

Can I eke out a pair of socks from this?

This is my first Sheltie shawl & a good learning experience.  That scallop edge has 16 rows to repeat, and was my least favourite element.  Inching through 279 border stitches 8 at a time was a little painful.  Especially after hours of knitting.

Technically, the pattern is very sound.  It seems strange to say this but if anything the instructions are too detailed.  I learned new things but never had a real leap of insight.  It was all laid out a bit too exactly for any of that.   At some point, I just wanted to figure stuff out, you know.

Quibbles apart, I totally love this one.  The former tom boy has another totally feminine knit to flaunt!  I must be mellowing in my old age…


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Knits without the knack?

Scratch the last Aestlight shawl post.  That border is an example of what not to do with the pattern.  Figured that out all on my own when the needle was getting crowded with all the border stitches.  Doh!  That’s what happens when you add more lace stitches than you ditch.  Silly mistake but an easy fix as these things go.

Sorry if I misled any knitters on that one… As my (mad as shad) conveyancing teacher loved to say, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.”  Promise to post a photo of a more tame border when one is in evidence.

Still on the shawl [neat bundle of “s” alliterations, eh?]… I’m calling it, “Bluefields Aestlight Shawl” for my Ravelry project page.  Bluefields is on Jamaica’s south coast.  Viewed from the old road it is the most beautiful stretch of coastline IMHO.  A pic:

Wikipedia public domain photo.  For copyrighted but viewable photos of Bluefields, Ja. check here.

Happy Friday, everyone!


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Fullness of Time

The healing process on this ankle is moving very slowly.  Like molasses in August.  My big plan to drive over to the pub for Knit Night fell through – no pun intended.  Turns out you kind of need some strength in your foot to press the gas pedal.  The things I once took for granted…

You might expect that with all this leisure time, I would have a finished triangle shawl.  Not quite.  Thing is – I got sidetracked by nothing less than a good new book.  I had no intention of buying a book until I found myself in a mall with MIL 2 days ago.  About 10 mins in, my ankle was done with what DH calls ‘aimless wandering’.  Sit in the store while MIL shopped?  No thanks!  So I spoke up, and headed ISO a book  to read in the food court.   Came up with Three Cups of Tea by Mortenson & Relin.

I had approx. 2.5 hrs to get hooked in the food court reading.  Greg Mortenson’s story is so compelling.  It has carried me through the sometimes stiff ghost writing.  Here I am in Ontario’s suburbia, far from my own formation in the developing world, and getting farther from what I thought was my life work, the law.  I don’t think that I would have read this book in the same way 2 years ago.

The days are long/ cool enough for both a book & a shawl.  I’ve started Aestlight’s border now.  It’s an openwork pattern that the designer calls ‘bird’s eye lace.’   I had to ditch the bamboo circular  needle after the first row of lace.  The double yarnovers (they make the lace holes) were catching at the join.  Good thing I have a 4mm metal circular about the place.

The border looks like this now.  Remember – lace is never fully pretty until we block her out.

Aestlight Shawl border under construction

Aestlight Shawl border under construction

The red string of yarn is holding the ‘live’ stitches for the top edge.  What you see in the photo is the right top part of the border.  It runs down to the point of the triangle, and up the other side.  When the border is more substantial, I’ll take a picture of the whole shawl.  This design is still good knitting.

In case you are wondering about my recent photos… I’m now using DH’s Nikon D60.  Just a tad better than my Canon Power Shot!  I also want to spiffy up the pages.  All in the fullness of time, friends.


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New Knitknack & she Blooms

The Aestlight shawl doesn’t just have a pretty name.  It’s seriously groovy.  A triangle, increasing from 1 itty bitty stitch.

What can I say?  Symmetry excites me.  I am making the larger shawl, so yonder triangle still has some growing to do.

Also groovy because Gudrun (blog nod to D.H. Lawrence & A-Level English) Johnston delivers a crystal clear pattern.  Trust me, this is a rare joy.  She gives a mini-photo essay for the first steps.  She gives full sentences to describe the pattern speak.

Even this deep into the triangle, the yarn is not pooling.  I love how the 2 hanks are blending:

Aestlight shawl garter detail

Getting this Monet thing going on was more complicated than I expected…   Those looser end stitches are key for the next stage – adding the border.  Without any straight edge for simple switching, it has to be done on the inside of the triangle.  I joined the 2nd hank on the right side, and made a royal mess between the artless holes & floats of yarn.

I slept on it, and woke up with a bright idea.  Intarsia!  How some wicked smart knitter worked out you can have blocks of different yarns (usually different coloured yarns).  Ever see a knitted star like this?  It is intarsia.

Intarsia Tutorial Pic from Purlbee

Intarsia Tutorial Pic from Purlbee

The Purl Bee has a tutorial here.  Did I know that until just this minute?  Nope.  I hauled out my books & worked it out over several attempts.  Took a few tries, but I got the knit knack for a right slanting bit of intarsia goodness.    It’s now so mindless that I am thinking this pattern could make a good Christmas gift for a knitworthy soul…

<Random>  Did you know that intarsia is also used in woodworking?  Thanks Bing.

Check out the gorgeousness… Pippi rears her pretty head:

Named after Pippi Longstocking, of course!  I had a feeling that naming a child Pippi was out of the question…


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Summer Sox and what’s next

So much thanks to Sean for enabling these Summer Seduction Sox!  The boy has superb taste in yarn:)

Sibling Love in Action - Summer Seduction Sox

Summer Seduction Sox, all done!

A word about my right leg… I know the shin looks awful… it was fresh out of the boot cast for this photo.  Here’s a nicely cropped photo:

Closer on the Summer Seductions

Closer on the Summer Seductions

It’s pretty obvious that the left leg has a better toe grafting.  That’s the 2nd sock & I grafted after downing a mango smoothie from Booster Juice.  Grafting is the classic way of weaving 2 sets of live stitches closed on a permanent basis.  The term of art = Kitchener stitch.  It has its own logic but does suck up yarn in the making.  You cut a tail of yarn to weave them shut, and I didn’t have quite enough on that 1st sock.

They are full of character & I can’t wait to wear them!  What’s not to love?  The toe is good for my yam foot, the design is tops, made with unique hand painted yarn, and …. can you buy socks with pointy heels?  I don’t think so!  My sock knitting is coming to come – thanks Sean!

By some stroke of genius, I convinced DH to take us to The Wool Bin.  The owners were in the store, and it was so nice to see them again.  Jane helped MIL kit up for crochet, which freed me up to get yarn for a triangular shawl, and have a good look around.  Halla gave me a warm welcome, and it was a nice break from the monotony of home.  I now have 2 hanks of Chilean sock yarn that will be perfect for my shawl:

Hand dyed Araucania Ranco Multi

Hand dyed Araucania Ranco Multi

I’ve chosen Gudrun Johnston’s new design, the Aestlight Shawl.  It was my first Ravelry buying experience, and I was impressed by the speed of delivery!

There were so many triangle shawls to choose from but this one stood out from the rest.  The name is beautiful, and the designer explains that it means east light in Shetland dialect.  It can be worn casually but is made using traditional Sheltie shawl construction.  What I do know is that a Sheltie shawl begins with one stitch, and is made continuously – borders & all.  Term of art = multi-directional.  A test knitter raved about the construction, so I’m in.  Plus, this is a beautiful way to learn something new!

As shawls go, this is small.  I only got the 2 hanks to use each alternately.  The yarn is variegated, and outside of socks a single hank may very well give random splotches of colour.  Hopefully, the mixing will work well.  They are from the same colourway.  Time will tell…

We did see Harry Potter & the HBP yesterday too.  I was happy with it overall but DH felt it was too slow.  A producer or someone else on the inside of that film has to be a serious knitting buff.  No spoilers but I’m glad we went!


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Summer Crafting, Toronto style

They had a run of bad weather but Toronto Craft Alert finally hit Trinity Bellwoods park in a big way on July 5th!  This is Moon Angel’s photo of the TCA banner in all its crafty glory:

TCA in the Park

TCA in the Park

More photos are over at the Craft Toronto Flickr GroupBig up to the TCA! They finally got a sunny day, and it looks like they had a good turn-out.

Of course, I was flat on my back nursing my ankle…  I probably would have chickened out anyways.  There was zero chance of DH entertaining the idea, and I know exactly no-one in the Toronto scene.  I did the Downtown Knit Collective meeting cold in the spring but going alone to a picnic? Yah, that’s just sad…  I can aim for it though:)

Speaking of crafters… in an hour or so, I’m going next door for a jewelry show.  This is the tennis partner neighbour & she’s the maker of said jewelry.  I’m interested to see her work, but know full-well she is looking for buyers.  Since she got me to play tennis with a wooden racquet, we already know she is persuasive!  It’s fair to say that I am working on the finer points & politesse of admiring-but-not-buying.

Toby, bless him, is in everyone’s bad books.  He just had to freak out at 1 a.m.  Whereupon, DH tried but did not succeed at being calm/ assertive; I hop-tripped over a cord in the dark – ouch; and Toby kept up a fine racket for at least 20 mins.  Right now the wretch is the very picture of serenity, catching up on his sleep at my feet.

With luck, I’ll have the 2nd yellow & white sock finished soon.  Just 2″ of foot left to go.  Given his sleep deprivation, DH was mighty perceptive this morning.  Says he, “You know what you need?  A new project!”  Yes I do.  My cardigan makes sense in theory but it’s firmly on hiatus until I am back to the home-alone routine.  I can’t hit my yarn shops but do have great stash to work with.

Next post has to be a rant about the Interweave Books summer sale… but now I have to run.


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Breaking out

By the time the weekend rolled around, I was dying to get out of the house.  11 days straight at home?!  Scream!  It took some doing but I did get out both Sat & Sun.

The 1st Seduction Sock is finished.  Woo hoo!  Cool enough to get praise from MIL is what… and it could pass for a FO thanks to the infernal boot cast!

A pair!  Left Shorty Seduction sock & boot cast...

A pair! Left Shorty Seduction sock & boot cast...

The last big set of rounds were done in public.  DH kindly took his Mom shopping.  He Hates shopping.  I went along for the ride, and settled into a comfy leather chair at the Mall.  My working needle snapped on the way over.  I did have a usable but badly bent spare on hand.  These are thin bamboo numbers – just 2.25 mm thick.  I definitely knit socks tightly so that they are more durable.  So, my needles take a whole lot of tension from yours truly.

Typically, Canadians are too polite to stare at/ interrupt us knit geeks.  There are exceptions.  After a while, I got the feeling I was being watched.  Sure enough, a lady was standing a few feet in front of me, bent over and squinting at me.  She jerked up & scampered off without a word!  Later on, another lady made my day.  She could not get over someone knitting at a Mall!  It was nice to talk with a fellow knitter who appreciated the yarn, and pattern.

After all the good vibes, I’m well into the 2nd Seduction sock.  She has a cuff, heel, and is now getting a foot.  I’m also not short on the yarn, which is v. good.  The sock needle may get out of this unfrogged.

The Garden –  I have baby green tomatoes!  On the vine!  In my backyard!   A first:)  Here’s a pic now.  You know, in case something goes wrong.

Newly staked - green tomatoes!

Newly staked - green tomatoes!

Yes, the grass does still need to be cut.

Another 3 green tomatoes with lavendar

Another 3 green tomatoes with lavendar

With luck, I’ll have another outing before long.  Harry Potter does open this week…


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Sock Seduction

Slight change in plans.  To account for conditions on the ground, I got in touch with my inner sock knitter.

{Aside:  aren’t houseguests fun?}

Which is to say, my Purple Cocoon Cardi is on hiatus, and my Seduction Sock pattern by Ann Budd is out & in use again.  It’s been awhile, so if you are interested the pattern is free here with others.  Now at the foot, my sock:

Shorty Seduction Sock at the foot

Shorty Seduction Sock at the foot

The grass does need to be cut!

This is my 5th sock project, so I am still very much the novice.  It’s also my first stab at doing socks with a pattern.  I really would recommend it to any knitter.  As you can see, it’s not stitch-fancy or overdone.  It’s twisting with eyelets, and is easy to grasp as well as remember.  I have yet to want to make a pair of elaborate socks.  I do want to learn different modes of sock construction though.  I’d definitely try another Ann Budd design.  At any rate, this one is a great step-up from plain socks, and gives such a subtly pretty effect.  The mystery NY yarn is also adding to the glee.

Since the yarn is a total mystery, I can’t add to the stash.  Meaning, the sock needle is the stash.  The ball is running low, so I may have to go back on my word & rip, rip, rip it… 😦