The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


A happy tropical Christmas

We are in Jamaica with family, and had such an insanely busy Christmas.  There was a ton of preparations, and late-breaking invitations – up to & including a neighbour’s garden wedding.  It’s so good to be home.

The first order of business was to meet Sierra who was just shy of 3 weeks old.  She’s adorable.  Her sleep-deprived Momma Gail has a house full of orchids, and lots of support/ VIPs on the way.  

She opened the baby gifts while we were there, and the Sweetie Pie dress went over very well.  I’m so glad that we could hand deliver this one – her reaction was priceless!  I’m inspired to write the pattern UP.  We are going to visit again, so hopefully I’ll have pics of the wee one.  

I also took full advantage of the hot weather.  Here I am wearing the Hottie Hottie Toppie for the first time: 

Hottie Hottie among friends

It was my parents’ party in honour of the newlyweds.  I was a little shy to wear a handknit in Jamaica (remember, any knitting is minimal at best here) but it was just fine.   It really is a very nice tank.  The mercerized cotton has good sheen but it’s still casual.

DH is also a Kingstonian, so we have family on both sides.  His tree has serious trimmings:

 Our tree as trimmed by the boys – late on the 23rd…


We both also had puppies to meet.  They are 1 year old littermates of our dog Mia.  See the gnawed table?  That’s Ribbons’ on-going work.

His brother Mad Max is walking behind me here:

We (narrowly) got out of Kingston.  Exactly when a tropical deluge hit the island.  Thus ending the lovely drought.  So no swimming.  We whiled away the hours in serious debate with Brother Man & SIL.  The rain was good at least for some more Christmas knitting.  This is what the Harmony Hall area in St. Mary looks like in a dry minute:

It’s a lovely 3 brm apartment at Sea Palms just outside of Ocho Rios that you can rent with maid service.  Highly recommended!

Yesterday we drove down to one of my all-time favourite places, Sussex.  It is on the hill on the other side of Ocho Rios, and has panoramic views of the St. Ann’s Bay.  Here are the left, center & right views from the verandah:

And this was by far & away the most awesome Christmas dinner I had.  My friends had me at the lemonade!

Certain people are clamouring for the pc, so I better stop gloating!

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Dips in.

Having an early trip has brought on all kinds of stellar organization.  I’ve had my moments but it does feel good to honestly say that cousin Charles is the only one without a gift on my list – and it’s not even December 20th!

Mark you, I do have quite a lot of packing to manage…. not there yet!

The cost of getting life in order was missing a few sit & knits.  I did make it back to The Wool Bin this Monday afternoon.  Boy oh boy was that a good move!  The turn-out was good & Fenella brought ginger shortbread cookies for all of us!  Let me tell you.  These were not just any old home-made cookies.  These cookies would make any pastry chef weep.  They even came with a back-story.  We were told that the recipe came from the sole Scottish keeper.  It must not go back to Scotland while the keeper is still alive (and she is).  Fenella promised not to pass on the goodness (potential profit!) until the keeper dies & then to just 1 person.

Ginger is in the fudge topping and the shortbread.  Man!

All of a sudden, my knitting picked-up pace!  Sugar highs are very good for that.  On my needles was the Slouchy Copy Cat Hat by Terra Jamieson.  Free to you here.

I finished it off last night & it’s going to my cousin, Amanda.

So, I’ve been going on (& on) about my self-directed Christmas.  The gifts that are now to hand/ in stash and queue are:

As good a time as any to learn a new knit knack, right?  Socks from the toe up courtesy of Wendy D. Johnson:

My general idea is that I’ll be ready when I have spun passable sock-weight yarn.  The Poems & its stash-mates will do in the meanwhile.

The next sweater project has also been facilitated!  It’s not just teeny projects around here folks!  We have 4 balls of Diamond Galway Heather wool yarn.  DH gets full marks for coming to the yarn store with me on Saturday and waiting while I touched everything remotely sweater-like.

DH also got me the Interweave pattern Notre Dame de Grace by Veronik Avery.  Doesn’t it look snuggly?

Snuggly sweaters are my answer to February in Canada.  That and long bouts of spinning yarn.

In case I drop out of the blog over the holidays, I want to wish everyone a very happy and safe season!

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Pick me UP

I am feeling a tad seasonally affected.  Yesterday was cold but today?  Well, Toby was very happy to see his wool sweater this morning.  Winter is here.  We are fleeing south in just a few days, so I really have no business complaining.

So there I was moping about the icy roads, my ill-preparation for gift exchanges and the like when the mail lady called.  Talk about a mood swing!  In a massive, perfectly packed box came the long-awaited Golding Tsunami.  Cherry 3″ whorl & walnut shaft:

Courtesy of Mom.  She says (on a long-distance call) I must “put it up.”  I laughed my head off at that one.  We agreed on a don’t ask; don’t tell policy.  If you notice, the cop of yarn spun itself.

I have it on good information that this Golding is fierce!  I also loved how Tom & Diane listed the contents for USPS.  It’s printed as “drop spindle.”  Handwritten beside that for the good folks at Canada Border Services is the best explanation:

Hand tool used for spinning wool into yarn.

I did finish the Wham Bam cowl tout d’suite.  With no Malabrigo yarn to spare.

The fold is so deep because I had so little yarn left for seaming.  Here’s how it looks on me:

Ixnay on the full-face pics.  I am looking as tired as I feel apparently.

Project name is Instant Cowl.  I am torn between getting more skeins to make this for the other 2 sisters, and working my spindle.  Torn but leaning in favour of the spindle.

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More Christmas Knitting

Turns out, I couldn’t abandon the Christmas knitting entirely.

For one thing, I was just in a rut.  It’s probably silly to zero-in on stash when knitting for people who have everything except hand knits.  For another, the One of a Kind Show wasn’t exactly all that I had hoped it would be.

About OOAK – we went but basically window-shopped & then left.  The prices seemed steep.  That might have been due to the many out-of-province artisans.  The Ontario cottage industry booths seemed to be few & far between.  A sad thing.  Also, the “one of a kind” vibe was missing.  Booth after booth was just a variation on the same pottery, beeswax candles, baby things, etc.  The hand knits?  I do buy hand knits but these were mostly things I have made recently.   A bright spot was Island Sweet’s booth.  She was against a far wall but completely sold out!  Her blog post about the wonderful success is here.   The OOAK moral?  Go with lower expectations long before the last Saturday of the show!

The window-shopping has resulted in a wee design.  It’s not a mug cozy but in that general genre.  The idea’s been knocking around since last winter & I like how it turned out.  It will take me into writing charts but the patterns are on hold until the new year.  The Teaser:

I am still working on a “his” version.  If all goes well, the pair could top-off gifts for the newlyweds.

Time is running out now – just a week until we’re on our way south (yay!).  Lack of time = chunky knit woolen cowl!  It’s a Wham Bam thank you Lamb by Susan Chang.  My edge is a little modified but that’s it.  Another free Ravelry download with over 1,000 FOs.  The instructions fit on a post-it note.  They are that simple!

Knit up in Malabrigo Chunky, azalea colourway on size 11 needles.  The lighting was awful for the picture – snowstorms do that.

This is my 1st Malabrigo project.  It is softer than soft but I have heard how prone it is to pill-on-sight.  The size 11 needles are making the stitches mighty cozy & hopefully that will minimize pilling.  Not being very clever here – size 11 is as high as my needle collection goes.  I really don’t knit chunky yarns very often.  The other Defence Against Pilling measure is to have the yarn ball in a ceramic bowl.  The fibres better be at peace when they get wrapped!

Better get going…

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Delayed post

These pics were jailed in the camera all week, thanks to trouble in my USB drivers.  Trouble is resolved & here we have the Fetching hand-warmers.  I gave them to my friend Kay yesterday when we got together for lunch.

First there was a left FO.

Then a right one in progress.

And lastly, the pair.  I was trying to get the 1 minute of sunshine the morning had on offer.

I have to say the production knitting for Christmas gifts is getting old.  I may be pretty much done with that now.  Which makes our plan to go into Toronto for the One of A Kind Craft Show today, all the more necessary!

Our own gift exchange has lost the element of surprise.  DH’s heart was set on a Kindle as soon as Amazon expanded into Canada.  I tried to reason with him but you see not all readers are bibliophiles….  Rooms with books on shelves are what I need.  Actual clippable newspapers too.  DH won; I caved.  For 2 reasons.  1 – It was clear that hand-knit slippers wouldn’t cut it this year.  2 – Hmm for the cost of that there Kindle, I could get how much yarn, patterns, books, spindles, etc.?!

Then Mom also decided to ditch surprises.   Her fail-safe gifts?  A spindle & fibre.  Specifically, a Golding 3″ top whorl cherry Tsunami spindle & cream Shetland combed top.  It’s been a good week of on-line shopping 🙂

In DH’s corner, I bought a pair of used Paradise Fibres 2-row hand-combs in a Ravelry marketplace (for the Romney prep), a skein of Poems sock yarn, and this beauty.

Matches my rose quartz

It’s 100% new wool merino pencil roving by Schoppel Wolle.  A whole new spinning experience.  It’s a 180° change from my home-prepared Romney wool.  It practically drafts itself & the long strip means far less splicing on of new supply.  Kinda like stepping into an automatic car after learning on an old standard jalopy.  Of course, the hand combs should improve the Romney experience.  For now, I can just zone out spinning this loveliness.  I would call it hand candy but um, that has other connotations…

My kitchen orchids are going for more blooms!  Good for the grey skies.  Good for my mood.