The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

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Hot off the needles

A mother-in-law gift I can be proud of.  Je vous présenté Le Cravat!

Pinned straight

The lacy Baktus edges were too raw, and even with the extra 200′ of yarn it still felt small for her neck.  The sides have a garter lace edging charted in EZ’s Knitting Around, page 114.  Meg Swansen adapted it from a book called Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings by Furze Hewitt.  It was quick & not fussy at all to knit on.  I just picked up a stitch each even row, and knitted it together with the edge stitches.

I loved getting back to EZ & am seriously scoping out the books she learned with.  Another up-side?  A new knit knack from starting the edge – invisible cast-on!

The top is edged with an applied i-cord with the outer stitch slipped.  The edges are from my 1st skein of Sea Wool (the cowl).  The colourways are different but blended together very nicely, I think!

With no time to waste, I’ve already started Fetching fingerless gloves.  It’s from stash – this plum Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

I’m thinking it will go to a younger cousin.

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No rants. It’s all good.

This turned out to be a wicked good week!

For starters, Dell wasn’t teasing – the new laptop did arrive Tuesday evening.  At long last, I’m out of the basement & back to my old digs.  As for the machine – its multi-directional touch pad is annoying the life out of me but I am otherwise a fan.

New pics. are temporarily a no-no, so here’s one from our San Fran trip in October.

Aestlight against the chill

Other good things in this week.  I had my jewelry-making friend, Sonja over for coffee.  Let’s just say that it was time for me to reciprocate… The house was clean, and I went all-out with the blueberry muffin baking:)  Adding orange zest is a good thing for that by the way.

Then yesterday afternoon, I went over to knit & hang out with my friend Megster of Knits & Kids fame.  We had a grand ol’ time – her daughter is just the sweetest thing – and as if that weren’t enough, we had more fun at Pub Night.

At last posting the Lacy Baktus scarf for MIL was looking mighty short.  Well, it was my bad.  I actually had another 106 ft of yarn to use before starting to decrease the triangle.  Yeah.  Maybe next time I’ll measure the half-way point before starting to knit.  Actually, maybe by next time Santa will have given me a digital scale….  So, my bad & I had to rip it.  Can you sense my mounting frustration with this gift?  It’s jinxed.

Now I’m off to read my first issue of Spin Off (so it begins) and the winter Knits magazines.  Nice!

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Out of the Delldrums?

5 weeks ago we ordered a new laptop from Dell.  The original delivery date came & went but now they promise the gem is “in the truck” en route to our house.  This is no special-order machine by the way.  Ask me about their customer service if you dare!

Baby Sierra was born yesterday afternoon.  Her aunt sent word to say mother & child are both well!  This is the dress I designed & can’t wait to give her Mom.  It’s been under wraps for months but I’m 100% certain that no-one close to her will be checking up on me now, so!  Thankfully, the Baby Bamboo yarn behaved well under my serious blocking.  The edging is now blessedly flat and even (phew!).

Blocking the world's first Sweetie Pie Dress

This is the FO on a hanger.  Love the wood buttons lots!

I am going to work this pattern up as soon as the new laptop is up & running.  Let’s hope that Dell is correct and the laptop is well & truly out of production….

‘Tis the season for Christmas knitting… my Angee sock is still without a mate, and I am resisting the strong urge to spin.  This is what I decided on for MIL’s cravat request.  Take 2 is a Lacy Baktus scarf in a variegated colourway of the Sea Wool yarn by Fleece Artist.

If you can make it out, there’s a green stitch marker to the right of centre.  It’s what I needed to keep the row counting going.  The pattern is the very soul of simplicity but I was getting my odd & even rows confused.  Garter stitch does that.

Do you know what else garter stitch does?  It eats up yardage.  I am playing with over 380 yards of the Sea Wool but this is looking like a mini-scarf.  As you can see, I made peace with that idea, and started to decrease anyway.  This is only part of MIL’s presents & well, another skein is not in the cards.  I am now on the hunt for a nice pin.  Tying a knot with the ends is, admittedly, out of the question.   DH is in love with this & I hope he’s an accurate predictor of his mother’s reaction.

Also knitted is a prezzie for someone in the bloggy audience.  Obviously, I can’t post a picture here – yet.  Check out Irieknit on Ravelry if you care to peek.

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One gift down…

It’s the Noble Cowl, a most excellent Christmas gift.  All along – right down to the last stitch – I had this crazy idea that it was for my Jamaican MIL.  The answer to her mid-September  request for, “a small sort of cravat so I could put in in my neck chest region to keep warm in the office…

Naturally, I glossed over certain realities of life in the tropics & chose this piece of winter outerwear.  For her to wear with her blazers at work.  Never minding that she doesn’t wear lovely jewel tones but kidding myself that I could win her over to my way of thinking…  So, seeing the FO in all its glory, I have faced facts.  It is not for MIL.  I know exactly who it’s really for & feel much better about the whole thing.

No polar bears were harmed.

I used ²⁄3 of a skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool on 3.25mm DPNs.  It’s 135 stitches around or 9 repeats of the shield pattern & 8 or so inches high.  It did take me almost 2 weeks to make & is def. not mindless knitting.  At some points, I just wanted the K2togs to be over!  After blocking, I think that the shields/ leaves will show beautifully.

The challenge is to find a cravat-like pattern that is A/C & office-friendly.  It would be great if that pattern also makes for good knitting.  My high school uniform included a tie.  5 years of daily tie-wearing put me off scarves, cravats, neckerchiefs and the like for life!



Royally Sheepy Day

We went on the last & most sheepy day of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, yesterday.  It’s a big, indoor fair with animals, booths, food and competitions.  We didn’t last until the wool auction but caught most of the day’s action!

On the fleece prize table:

Got Crimp?

Got Crimp?

Fleece galore!

Nothing on the Royal’s website prepared me for the Sheep to Shawl Competition.  4 hours for each guild to prep its fibre, spin amazing quantities of yarn & weave a ‘shawl’ on a loom.  That and keep curious men from playing with their drum carders…

Shuttlebug Weavers & Spinners, Greenwood On

Guelph Guild of Handweavers & Spinners

The Angora owners were grooming their babies.  Those not grooming were spinning in the back!  Nina was selling 0.5 oz of her angora/ wool blend for $8.  I stepped away from the basket!

Other rabbits waiting for judging:

My favourite

The drop spindlers had 2 hours to make a skein of plied yarn from commercially prepped fibre – yikes!  Only 4 women entered the competition but they were all good.

When cuz & her partner arrived, I gave a wee tour & then we checked out the livestock.

We were easily the biggest kids at the petting zoo!

We did make it back for the tail-end of Sheep to Shawl:

Finishing touches for Greenwood's Shawl

It was a great day.  I got to meet a Rav member of GTA Fibre Faces & got amazing information from everyone we spoke with.  Even if I didn’t catch the auction, I do have a bunch of tips on how to bid for next year!



I first learned about the World Wars through Remembrance Day poppy drives in Jamaica.  Like Canada and other countries, we have the same traditions of honouring and supporting our veterans.  This is one of the Canadian holidays that is part of our shared history.

In 1999 Marc Goodman wrote an article, “Remembering when the World was at War” in Skywritings magazine.  The subtitle is, “A visit with Jamaica’s last surviving World War I veteran gives a glimpse into history’s bloodiest battlefields, and a Jamaica past”.  The host was 103 year old Ugent Augustus Clark who had volunteered for the British West Indies Regiment at age 22.  Ugent Clark served as an ammunition carrier in the war & was at the Battle of the Somme.  Goodman quotes him as saying:

They speak about (religion) a lot.  You feel religion and God.  You could dead at any time.  You just take it one day at a time…. War is no good.  It changes things, but in the changing, plenty bad things go on.

It is an excellent article.  I can see why Marc was my Mom’s favourite student.

Goodman's Article, The best of Skywritings - with my poppy

I heard McCrae’s In Flanders Fields read on Sunday.  The text is here.  What Dylan Thomas wrote is true: “And death shall have no dominion.”

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Daddy Sharpe Toronto book launch

A few weeks ago, I missed our Knit Night for good cause – it was the Toronto launch of Daddy Sharpe:

The specs:

Title: Daddy Sharpe: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Samuel Sharpe, A West Indian Slave Written by Himself, 1832 by Fred W. Kennedy. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2008. 411 pages. Newspaper reviews are here, and here.

It is a historical novel about Samuel Sharpe, a Jamaican national hero.  Other launches have been held in Jamaica & London but Toronto is where Fred (my relative) lived most of his adult life & raised his family.  He filled the auditorium & it was great to hear him read passages from the book.

Outside of Jamaica, Sam Sharpe is not a household name.  He bravely led other slaves in the great Christmas Rebellion in 1831 to fight for abolition.  Sam Sharpe was a literate slave who gained prominence as a Baptist preacher & deacon.  The Rebellion faltered as the local colonial government worked to brutally suppress the uprising.  Slaves were ruthlessly hunted down and captured.  Sam Sharpe was one of the last to surrender, and the Rebellion ended with his hanging in the Montego Bay public square.  It was a sacrifice that advanced the cause for abolition in the United Kingdom.  The Slavery Abolition Act, which applied in Jamaica and most of the British colonies received Royal assent on August 28, 1833.

I was also thrilled because the guest speaker was none other than author Rachel Manley.  She is my favourite Jamaican author.  Hands-down. I have all of her books & naturally had to bring the latest one along for an autograph.  She spoke very well, and, and I was so excited to meet her.  I went to school with her eldest & there are all sorts of small-island connections but this was the first time I ever met her.  This is my copy of Horses in her Hair.

Inside: Lovely autograph.

We did take pics of the event but DH has yet to upload them…. I wanted to post this before Remembrance Day, tomorrow.

I am all set to go to Knit Night, tomorrow.  Here’s the plan.  Attire = new Purple Cocoon Cardi.  Needles = Angee sock & MIL’s cowl.  Also bringing = Kundert spindle & handspun efforts.  It will be nice to see what everyone is working on & catch-up.  It’s been at least a month, I think.

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Made me laugh…

I promise – no pics of me posing with this hunky hank ‘o yarn…  I couldn’t stop laughing when I pulled this out of the surprise package that my brother sent:

Not seen on shelves in these parts that’s for sure!  It’s a hank of 100% wool, handspun & hand-dyed in Spain.  Love it!  As for the yardage, it has to be a lot.  I’m sticking with “a lot” for now.  Seriously, would you pull this apart just to measure yardage?  Not me!

The back-story is that my brother & SIL were roaming the streets of Barcelona on their honeymoon when K spotted the yarn store.  They both speak Spanish & so the owner quickly understood that there is a sister in Canada who knits like crazy & spins.  So, now I have this new prize for the stash.  Micro-spun, European 2 ply wool.  Woo hoo!  The idea is this will be great for a Jamaican-themed ital project that I have in mind.  In the meantime, it will be making me laugh over there in the den.

Also priceless was gift no. 2.  A vintage photo of a random boy all dolled-up for his First Communion.  Normal right?  Well, the photographer has an awesome name & it’s gilt stamped on the front of the pic.  There it was just sitting on the top of a pile of photos in a flea market in Barcelona as the happy couple strolled by.

All of this good karma comes as I start the Christmas knitting.  As per MIL’s request, a green cowl is now on the needles:

It’s the Noble Cowl by Emily Kausalik.  A free pattern from her site over there.  This gift was fast becoming a leetle problem – I needed a push.  Ravellers have come to the rescue.  A group, Ontario Knitters Unite inspired me with a good list of free patterns in their Christmas knit-a-long.  As Martha would say, “A good thing.”  So, I have joined my first knit-a-long & now am happy to say that a direct request for a knitted object will not go ignored.  The yarn is Fleece Artist Sea Wool.  It’s thinner than the pattern yarn, so I hope the pattern will show well.  If not, well, I’ll cross that bridge later.

Speaking of bridges to cross… Fall at our house.  And this is after 2 bags have already been raked.

Weekend work

There’s more to come off that tree & another yard to rake as well.  Funnn.

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Bespoke Pink Sock

It’s just 1 of (hopefully) 2 but this sock deserves a post!  Bespoke = an item custom-made to the [knitter’s] specification.  In this case, to fit a rather school m’armsish leg.

So, being 4″s short of your actual calf circumference calls for some customization.  I’ve done that before but never stopped mid-sock to dial back the excess stitches.  You see, I have a thick calf with standard ankles.  It’s not a total trunk of a leg. I also get carried away once a sock gets going.

I was def. heading towards another pair of fitted-then-baggy socks until Megster got a look-see at Knit Night.  Of course the sheer width of a very pink sock is what caught her eye.  Once it had her attention, she pointed out the clear baggy ankle danger.  Thanks, Meg.  I was being lazy it’s true.

Here’s what I did to get there — Cookie A’s pattern calls for 2.5 repeats of the leg pattern.  I decided that decreases should happen over the heel but at the end of the 2nd pattern rounds.  I had to chart the decreases out but basically they go both ends of the heel on alternate rounds.  Taking out 8 stitches each side did the trick & by doing the next 13 rounds with that amount of stitches, it looks & feels right.  The result is knit panels either side of 2 full pattern repeats that end at the heel.  I also rejigged back down to 32 sts for the top of the foot.

Other lesson learned along the way:  You will break a thin bamboo needle if you try on a top-down sock for fit.  You will be lucky that it was just one.

I’ve been a little distracted since Thursday.  Not only am I fighting ‘flu-like symptoms’ but Toby had his 2nd dental surgery in as many years that day.  He’s doing fine in recovery here at home & thankfully is taking his meds (masked in cheese) like a pro.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for the little guy.  With just the 4 canines left not even DH is joking about him being ‘toothless’.  They say it is a small breed problem.  I don’t know.  I’ve had dogs my whole life.  Large & small breeds alike.  Not one ever needed tooth-brushing, cleaning or extractions.  Is it because of a smaller gene pool?  One eroded by a hyper-zealous spay/neuter policy?  We adopted Toby.  He has no other sign of possible in-breeding.  There’s no good answers.  There are, however, vet bills.