The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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To Good Starts

The year is young but it’s been a good one so far (knock on wood).  Of course, I rate as good any winter that gives me this vista so deep into January:

But I digress.

The good start has a lot to do with an extremely fun knitting event in the province.  My friend, Sandi Wiseheart, invited me to travel with her to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Guild meeting on January 10th.  She was their main speaker, and the Guild had graciously agreed to let her bring a friend.  I was psyched to hear Sandi’s talk on Finishing Techniques, and it was fabulous.  Complete with slides, which were in turn complete with pictures of her cat, Tim.  Sandi’s blogged this already.

There was yarn stashing before the event (and even before lunch).  It was a first visit to the lovely Shall We Knit for the both of us.  I could rave, and rave.  Karen gave us such a warm welcome.  Seeing Sandi in her element was worth every minute but I also managed to find time to browse.  String Theory!

A skein of Caper Sock in the Vert colourway with its new bestie, Shetland Lace Knitting from Charts by Hazel Carter.  Not to mention the purpleness of this Della Q bag.

Yes, that is a creative use of my Ott light, thank you.  Like I said, it’s rainy today!  I also bought a set of DPNs.  I suspect Sandi’s purchases are in the Cone of Silence.

We had a lovely dinner with Annie B., Johanna, Lianne and Angela, and headed over for the meeting.  Sandi showed her Lotus Leaf Mittens – those are sparkly nails in the grainy pic.

I had the presence of mind to take a pic while she was setting up.

And once more during the presentation.

After that point, I was all ears and knitting.  How good was this talk?  Sandi made zippered knits sound totally doable, that’s how good!  And what is this talk called? It’s  After the Bind-Off:  Finishing a Garment you can be Proud Of.  I am sure that she’ll be asked to give it again.  Soon!

Further evidence that 2012 is pretty chill…

Last year’s Masham wool singles grew up & became almost socks.

It’s a 4 oz braid dyed by Waterloo Wools spun by yours truly up to 135 yards of 3-ply goodness.  I gave it a ton of twist in the plying on my Watson Martha wheel.  It still has a halo, and feels strong but somehow supple.

My Abby Batt is all spun up.  I finished plying the skein on my Golding Tsunami drop spindle on January 6th.  This lace yarn is for keeps!

I don’t have any SIP pics but the batt was a 38g ‘Leaf Pile’ of 30% corriedale wool/ 30% huacaya alpaca/ 30% tussah silk/ 10% merino.  I spun it by alternating 2 spindles – a Spindlecraft bracken & a Spindlewood olive square whorl.  All over town.  That’s 274 yards.  I’ll spin another fibre for a lace project down the line.

There’s more in my spinning life but I’ll round this out by showing the 60% wool/ 40% flax blend that I raced away with last week.  100g spun on my Philias Cadorette CPW currently gracing toilet paper rolls.

An experiment in over-twist?  Perhaps!

I’ll save the knits for another post.  Which I want to write now lest that promise fall flat.


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Surprise Skeins

Talk about reaching a personal goal:  two great ‘events’ chez moi in as many days?!  Dinner went really well.  Cuz loved her Silpada jewelry.  Shout-out to my friendly knitterly Silpada rep, Miss Megster – close call on this gift!  We exchanged these belated gifts.  Mine was so nice… Ta da!

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Purple 100% silk tote - made in Cambodia

Hung in a bush for the morning light & general cheesiness…  TKK now has a good mid-sized project bag!  The Lexie Barnes is much-loved but honestly too big for baby projects and such.  The second part of the gift really blew me away:

Yarn spun from recycled silk.  It comes without a ball band but they make this from old saris in southeast Asia.  Closer:

Fittingly, we had Indian from a local restaurant, The Painted Elephant.  Everyone loved the food & it was good times.  I can see how building from one event to another works wonders with set-up & cleaning.

Am still thinking about what it will be.   Cuz sure got my number.  In case anyone is wondering about Christmas gifts, my fridge magnet sums it up for ya:

More Yarn Please!

This was just an all-over good weekend.  Tomatoes are ripe for the picking!  At long last.  Bear with me on this one – we are city folk & this is simply magical.  Man, are they sweet!  We ate up/ whoopsed off the 2 ripest so fast!  I decided to spare the dear readers more tomato pics.  They look the same as when they were green.  They are now tomato red.

DH was showing off on the phone.  He’s telling the gaming buddy all about eating “the first tomato of the season from the estate.”  Said gaming buddy knows the house – estate, shmestate!  Since the squash is spread all over the lawn, I am pretty sure that New Neighbours think we are whack farmer-types… I have to run but will try to relate a New Neighbour story sometime soon!


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Woolsy Anniversary & Trip Pics

Happy Anniversary, Hubby dear!  Emily Post’s Etiquette says wool is ye olde 7th anniversary gift.  N.B. – The Knit Knack’s shamelessly brazen plug for More Yarn Please!

MIL outdid herself this year!  Even her son is in awe of this beauty of a gift…

Our first Rose Bush!

Our first Rose Bush!

We already did our celebrating in Houston.  Fancy dinner at a wine bar/ steakhouse called Flemming’s.  It had v. good internet reviews, and I am still hearing all about his bone-in rib-eye.  The server was snooty but we broke the ice by ordering the Chocolate Lava Cake.  It was to die for!  Loved. Every. Bite.

It was my first trip to Houston & the 90 degree weather was just heavenly!  The Lady B bag was the best carry-on luggage ever.  I started the Seduction Socks by Ann Budd with my mystery sock yarn.  The pattern is free here.  My main mod is to make them shorter:

Smallscale Seduction Socks

Smallscale Seduction Socks

This is because half of the yarn was used in my first-ever sock.  That’s the needle sock, and I’m not frogging it for love or money.

After all the selfish knitting, I had FOs for each day of this trip!  Texans were very friendly – every elevator ride lead to bubbly conversations & ended with, “Have a nice day, y’all!”  Co-elevator riders were actually the first to admire my Tender is the Night shrug when we set out for the wedding.  The shrug was a hands-down success.  It was perfect because I was the 2nd reader for the ceremony.  Dictates of modesty:  no bare shoulders for “reverencing the altar”.  That black pashmina was thrust upon my cousin the 1st reader.  Here we are processing:

Tender is the Night does me proud!

Tender is the Night does me proud!

It was a dream to wear, kept me warm during the air-conditioned reception, and netted a bag of compliments.  Mine is not a crafty family, so I was very surprised by the great response.  I am now a fan of silk shrugs – there is no slip sliding into soup bowls or constant arranging of fabric.

We did have a day out at the Johnson Space Center with my cousins.  I modeled the sunny sidekick but have no pics to prove it!  Here’s NASA Graffiti at its best:

Housing 30-story-tall rocket

Housing 30-story-tall rocket

Texas Longhorns – at NASA – huh?

Languid Longhorns

Languid Longhorns

That perked me up some for the tour of Mission Control.  Ancient consoles!

Not computers but consoles

Not computers but consoles

They sent men to space with just that level of technology?!  OMG.  After lunch we came to a quick consensus & off we went in search of Kemah and its boardwalk.

Can you say "Tourist Trap"?

Can you say "Tourist Trap"?

More of the amusement park setting:

Choo choo by the Gulf

Choo choo by the Gulf

Yay – the Sea!!  Kemah is on the Gulf, and a long ways away from good ol’ Lake Ontario!

It was a busy trip & I came home tired but with a full list of things to do.  I’m settling back down now & have a big reason to finish the baby kimono – Eden’s safely arrived!  Not deja vu or anything but here’s the baby gift being blocked:

Blocking Edens Baby Kimono

Blocking Eden's Baby Kimono

I know this has been an angst-filled project.  That said, green is the better choice for a wee one named Eden!


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Sidekick for the Trip

The Sunny Sidekick is out of production!  In the re-do, I livened up the handle.  The instructions are to knit plain with increases & decreases in the number of stitches.  I just changed it to good old moss stitch, and love the effect.  The closure is also in moss.  Here she is au natural:

Sunny Sidekick - er, for a pine bough?

Sunny Sidekick - er, for a pine bough?

Just to brag on this a little – do you see how the colourway worked perfectly on the handle?!  The button is vintage from Hubby’s Grandmother’s sewing table.

I then went on to play with my new felting needle.  It’s actually more like a long pin that has notches on the shaft and a very sharp tip.  Being without roving, I just poked odd ends of wool to death.  Apart from the damage to my fingers by errant stabs, I had fun doing this.  First fruits are:

Wee ball and felted doughnut

Wee ball and felted doughnut

Seriously.  What could be easier than jabbing a pin?  The idea was to embelish the Sidekick a bit but I’m quitting while I’m ahead.

I’m undecided about what knitting to carry on our trip.  With a friend’s baby due this week, I really should pull that cardi out of hibernation.  Or start another thing already.  I’ve had a great run of selfish knitting, so that may be what’s next.  Except.  A Ravelry thread on socks has me itching to make a pair with some pizzaz.  Socks are best for airplane knitting but the baby’s a coming.  Decisions, decisions.

Today is sunny, and then rain is forecast for the rest of the week.  I’ll make hay, and run errands – shoe shopping is an errand, right?


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Sunny Sidekick

Cute, summery bop-about handbags are hard to come by.  In my old age, I walk past countless contenders in the stores.  This year, I have called the hunt off, and am making Amanda’s Squatty Sidekick by Amanda Burka.  It’s another Knitting Daily freebie.  The close-to 300 rave reviews, and FOs on Ravelry sealed the deal.

This Sunny Sidekick uses my dirt-cheap SWS from Mary Maxim.  It will felt like a dream, and isn’t too bright for me.  I hoped to be felting right now in fact.  Sadly, the strap has gots to go.  In the glory of knitting outdoors, I went a little blank.  The strap is way-off but will be an easy frog & fix.  Before frogging:

Slightly tipsy Sunny Sidekick

Slightly tipsy Sunny Sidekick

Here’s a totally gratuitous pic of her with flowers peeking through yonder fence:

For fun - Sunny Sidekick again

When felted, the bag will shrink a bit and become sturdy.  Right now it’s a flopsy mess.  My sewing skills are nothing to write home about but I may try making a lining for this.

Deep breaths – I found the strap a pain to knit…


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Oil of Motherland

I went to Jamaica’s Consulate General in Toronto, today.  Panacea for homesickness, that.  The flag was flying high out front.  Most know it by sight but the black, green & gold mean – hardships there are but the land is green, and the sun shineth.  Hey, Anand Giridharadas, India isn’t the only place where Elizabethan English is still going strong!

It only got better.  Here are my highlights of the trip:  A lady closely observed me as I walked in.  That’s typical – after all, I am a white Jamaican.  She continued to stare as I pulled out each document for the receptionist to check them, and was speaking in my not-Canadian accent.  Boy was she perplexed.  So much so that she approached me, and scratched her itch thusly, “If you don’t mind me asking, which part of Jamaica are you from?”

Minding not, I answered, “Kingston.”  She caught the real terseness, and left it at that.  The question she had really asked was whether I am from Germantown in St. Elizabeth.  It’s a prejudice like any other.

Then, my  ‘number’ was called: “Next!”.  Only in a Jamaican government office could you find a card taped up onto the partition glass that proclaims the Prayer for Sinners.  Ah so.  We went straight into establishing that no, surname & whiteness aside, I am not related to one of the wealthiest men in the island.  It was all good – even the joke of being sent to take a 3rd photo down the road.  I should be okay for getting the passport back in 5 weeks, right?  I mean, I did read the Prayer for Sinners with some feeling…

I was also on the prowl for DPNs (double pointed needles) for the sock.  I was down a needle & my stop-gap measure was pretty bad:  moving a cable needle around to free-up a DPN for the knitting.  I stumbled accross a Mary Maxim store.  First time in one, I was astonished to find non-acryllics.  They only had 8″ long DPNs in my size but I had a Eureka moment in the sale bin…  Paton’s SWS (soy wool stripes)!  It’s been months of searching the GTA for some…  I know there are detractors but I love how SWS feels and felts.  My new stash, sock, and the bag that carried them all:

Patons SWS on sale; Straight up Socks; & Envirosax

Paton's SWS on sale; Straight up Socks; & Envirosax

Yep – Envirosax, baby!  Birthday gift from Cuz = a set of 5.  They are v. v. handy.  I couldn’t pull out the Lady B bag for a next-to-nothing project like this sock.  As you can see, I’m back into mindless rounds for the foot of the sock.  Did some in Starbucks, and the train home.


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Confrontation – here?

A couple of hours ago, I was in the den, mid-row on the baby cardi’s left front, and watching Charlie Rose on PBS.  All of a sudden, I heard a rattling at the front door.  Toby who is usually a fierce defender of the front door didn’t even flinch, so I thought it might be the wind. A quick look outside showed no movement, and the rain had stopped.  Again, the rattling, and I jumped up.  The door’s nearby, and as soon as I got there, a man in blue jeans turned and walked away.  I’ve been on low alert since reading a report in the local paper about guys breaking and entering through front doors.  So, there I am, heart racing and convinced I just foiled a robber when dude returned!  Toby is finally alive to the danger, and here is the rattling of a set of keys – SKELETON KEYS?  Goes my head…. 911 seemed pointless because clearly he’s about to get in.  I pulled out my bad-ass voice, and shouted loudly,  “Who’s there?  It seemed pretty loud because even the Superior Guard Dog Toby stopped barking to give a listen.

Dude answered me.  He claims to be a dog walker.  When I hear him say he’s there for Ritz, the penny dropped.  But the heart, that was still racing, and I was worked up, so I gathered steam for another bad-ass sentence.  I said, “Wrong house!”  He was telling the truth.  Yesterday, I was outside doing a spring rake-up when another neighbour went in for Ritz.  She told me they were away and had a dog walker, etc.  So, the dude didn’t have a ring of skeleton keys.  I very much doubt dog walkers read knitting blogs but I am sorry for not simply telling the man that Ritz is next door.  Sigh.  I was too freaked out, seriously.  I hope Ritzy got his walk.

This is front door scuffle no. 2 for the week.  The other morning, I am rushing out the door, late as usual when I see a woman with her hand about to knock.  I just opened it still rushing.  She had a school marm voice.  While holding out a full-colour brochure she said, “I would like to invite you to commemorate Jesus’ death.”  Right.  She heard that I have my own Church, thank you very much as I locked the door on the outside, and proceeded to the garage.  From the looks on her face, the exchange was as unique for her as it was for me!  I did make it to my appointment on time though.

As for today’s incident, Toby is now on alert – thanks Tobes:)

Re: knitting.

  1. This baby bamboo may not work out for a cardigan.  I may be learning something new about cardigan construction… That front left piece is very contrary.  It in fact wants to be a wee tube, and is having nothing of laying flat like a good cardi… I shall swatch for the lace edging and report further.
  2. Awhile back, I promised a picture of the sock I have on the go.  I took it into LYS this Wednesday for their sit ‘n knit time-slot.  It was just me for most of the 2 hours, so I got a fair amount done.  The ladies are great, and since I may not have weekday freedom for much longer, I’m relishing the chance to be a fly on their wall.  So, what I have on the sock needles is:
Denim Sock as of April Fools 2009

Denim Sock as of April Fool's 2009

It’s a big improvement over the heel patch I was attempting at first.  Of course neither of these tiny projects is suited for my new Lady B bag.  Even with the Louisa Harding book, it’s still practically empty with the cardigan’s stuff.  All in good time!