The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


After Tour

Happy belated Emancipation Day!  We celebrated with a Sunday-worthy dinner of roast chicken, rice & peas & cauliflower au gratin.  Another touch of home is my bougainvillea.  It at least loves this heat.

Teresa may be doubtful about how much post-Tour spinning is happening for her lace yarn.  Still spinning and we are at the pretty bit with the purples.

The spindles are ready for winding off, and then I’ll have plying ball the 5th!  It’s just a stub of a braid now.

One of our LYSs, Main St. Yarns in Milton is closing.  Carolyn hopes to find a purchaser but is busy selling her inventory.  One thing has led to another, and I’m back knitting.  Another top-down cardigan is on my needles – Boogie’s Tappan Zee Cardigan.  This is in the Lavold Silky Wool that I bought for a vest last fall.

It’s been happy knitting but I will admit 2 Things that I do get:

  • Royally bad picture of it; and
  • The yarn won’t say “sophisticate” any time soon.

Sometimes blocking makes a huge difference.  It did for my Fern Gully Hap Shawl that’s been a FO since coughMaycough.  The last that you saw of it was in January, here.  My how it has grown!

And evened out:

The last of the day lilies from Susie made a grand entrance this week.

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Out of Jamaica, Part I

The island was lush & beautiful when we were home.  In the short week we stayed in Kingston, visited Port Royal for Gloria’s fried fish, and went to St. Ann for Cuz’s wedding.

In Kingston, we caught the tail-end of the rains:

These old friends in the backyard were a sight for sore eyes.  Mahogany in their own little canopy:

The Lignum Vitae (tree of life) was just coming out of bloom.

And underneath it all, some life.

Port Royal charmed even the King of Snark, a 20-something cousin from the States who was with us.  Parking lot view at the Port Royal police station – left:

And swinging right is the Kingston harbour view:

Since people were getting along, and spirits were high we took King of Snark along to Fort Charles, which got mangled in the 1692 earthquake.  It totally delayed our trip down to the country but there was a rare pause on the snark.  Canons abound, it is a fort:

Well placed sea anchor.  Just as big as I remembered!

Up the ramp, and inside the Fort:

From which, you see:

School trip!  They arrived just as we were heading down to the Giddy House.

Spin around, the Giddy House is sea-ward.

The Giddy House is the old Artillery Store that partially sank in the 1692 earthquake.  Everyone feels giddy walking in there.  Everyone.

An entire Armory went under.

More remnants:

There was a lot of climbing and running on the gun.  Those pics look a little rude, and are being withheld.

And on our way back to Kingston, a Port Royal landmark:

Kingston may not be for everyone but it’s home for me.


Shawls are for tomboys too

Spending 6 days home in Jamaica for my Toronto cousin’s wedding was every-minute-amazing.  A&W had a sea-side wedding in Discovery Bay.  We sandwiched this ‘country trip’ by staying with my parents in Kingston.

In my carry-on was the just, just finished lace shawl – Oslo Walk by Susanna IC (publisher pics here).  Lace novice that I am, this was a huge 3-week challenge.  What possessed me?  Well, having to re-wear a dress for the wedding is what.  Also, thanks to the best sort of encouragement from T, my spinning angel lace expert, I happened to have matching indigo lace-weight yarn stashed, together with Japanese seed beads & even a small crochet hook.  To reconstruct the scene (plans fail, what can I say…):

Here I am posing with the intended dress for the maker of my intended necklace:

And this is the finished shawl blocking the eve of our flight home:

And close-up for the detail:

The beads are Tojo #6, and the yarn is 1 skein of Fantastic Knitting’s Zephyr Lace-weight in Indigo.

At the top left of this pic you can see where one of my eyelet lines veers off.  To show that I am a hapless lace knitter who was under a deadline.  This shawl, now called Blue Lagoon, is easily the most delicate thing that I own.

The first rows of the pattern were difficult – I was learning how to knit in beads for what felt like the greatest expanse of knitting.  Mistakes were made.  All over the place but I stuck with it for the idea of bringing it to this wedding was strong with me.

This best laid plan had a hitch.  Literally.  Our hotel was 40 mins away from this 4:00 p.m. wedding, and I had been swimming in the sea just hours before.  So, there was getting ready to be done.  As DH was doing up the side zipper for me, it burst.  Burst, I tell you.  At the ribs.  Instant panic & cursing followed by tears.  Would the thing budge?!  No!

Eventually I got the thing to run again but the zip’s teeth were mangled [DH wants to say he didn’t cause it… yea].  Since yours truly was also a Reader in said wedding, this was a calamity.  Luckily another cousin, C, had a dress to loan me.  The shawl still worked with the turquoise but not the necklace.  Except C wears a size large & I wear – well, I wear a small… With help from C, and bossing from the bride’s Mom, I pulled myself together.  The bride had everyone waiting a long while due to some serious hair issue.  Not what I planned but here is Blue Lagoon as I wore it:

In a more relaxed mood the following day at Shaw Park Beach Hotel:

We took many other trip pictures – soon come with those!

Happy Friday!

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Bittersweet trip of the year!

May has been nothing if not eventful!  Just so I can post a bunch of pictures, I’ll fast-forward to my 9-day trip to Jamaica.  It was a much-needed break but was nearly derailed by the explosive situation in Kingston.

There I was having a grand ol’ time in Negril with Dad when we saw the news… to everyone’s horror the Hannah Town police station was engulfed in flame.  Arson by molotov.  It was the Labour Day weekend.  Clearly the stand-off in Tivoli was at a head, so we headed back to Kingston while the heading back was good… It’s entirely possible to be road-blocked out of Kingston.

Thankfully, the situation did not tip over.  Mostly I think because civil society recognized the danger, and came together in support of the security forces’ operation to restore order.  It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pleasant.  Life was slowly returning to normal when I left but the city is tense.  People were stocking-up like a hurricane was about to hit.  Businesses were open but closing early.  Soldiers and heavily armed police were on the roads.  All told it was a bittersweet trip.

Out of sheer luck I caught Rootz Underground playing at the Red Bones Blues Cafe in Kingston… these guys have a full touring schedule!

Sorry for the poor pic quality… my little Canon wasn’t up to it…

Here are Jeff & Colin rocking out!  The band gave an amazing set & encore for the crowd!

We stopped at Bamboo Walk on our way down to Negril… one of my favourite spots on the island!

Looking up:

My no. 1 restaurant recommendation in Negril is for:

Go in lobster season & you won’t be disappointed!  Plus, the sunsets are to die for:

The view from my room wasn’t too shoddy either:

That’s one magnificent cottonwood tree, and there are many more on property.  Here’s the same view, looking left:

Spindling this gorgeous roving by the sea was divine.  It’s a 100% Rambouillet braid from Dyed in the Wool Handmade that I got at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto:

I’m spinning singles in tandem on the Ray Turkish spindle shown there, and my Kundert.  Of course it wasn’t all spindling… had to swim too…

This cove was so much fun to explore – so much coral down there!

Now that the hotel is closed, we practically had the place to ourselves.  Just us & the dude who owned those white t-shirts!  This is the cave on the far side of the cove:

Two upsides of a quiet property – a) many shells for the taking; and b) “clothing optional” beach was mine for the enjoying:

I was trying not to look left over at the Hedonism II sunbathers…  The obligatory hibiscus pic (if you are me):

So happy to see all of the Poinciana trees in full bloom as we drove along the country roads:

It was lovely but I stayed close to the radio/ internet when we got back to town.  The gallivanting was officially over, and I didn’t get to see some key friends…  I’m very glad I was there (turmoil or no), and am now back feeling rested & somehow focused.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s a gloriously sunny, warm one in our neck of the woods!  Blankie Love + mass-produced Hallmark pin:

Blankie Love waves hello to the parade

My Dad’s people were part of the Irish who arrived in Jamaica in the mid-1800s at the time of the abolition of slavery.  They came under the Jamaican Assembly’s policy of attracting Europeans to counter-balance the newly freed slaves in society.  The policy worked since they settled in the mountains and worked as small cattle farmers.  Did they go forth & tip the island’s racial make-up?  Nope!

Still with celebrations… Cuz’s engagement party was last Saturday!  My baking attempt was a fail.  Cakes should rise, right?  Carrot cakes?  Yah, so when that all dawned on me, DH rushed out to get the massive chocolate cake:

To the top right, is Little Cuz’s Skor Cheesecake.  Let me tell you – it was goood!

It was great meeting all of her fiancé’s family, and seeing my family too.  Everything but desert was catered by the Cajun Bajan Cafe.  It was all fantastic!

Will she mind if I show you the shoe pic?  Nah!

I’ve had an explosion of things to do & people to meet recently.  Apart from the sad state of the housework, it’s all been great!  The latest is our town’s Knitting Association.  I visited a meeting last night & was surprised by the numbers.  30 or so knitters.  Just based on the show & tell, the group seems to have a range of knitting styles & skills.  There was fun fur (ack!) but another lady was knitting fair isle sans pattern (props!).  They had a vendor/ presenter, and I left with these DPN protectors:

I break sock DPNs regularly & had just misplaced one yesterday afternoon.  It still hadn’t turned up, so I went for this.  It’s purple, so that was a plus.  The minus?  Cost – it was $11.29!

I started this sock on Monday.  It’s the Sandalwood pattern by Caitlin Stevens  from Interweave Knits Winter ’08.  One repeat into the leg, I am having doubts that it will ever come naturally.  The fact that the chart is sideways does not help.  IK has the pattern here (for a cost).  The yarn is a tweedy Zitron Trekking XXL.

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Bright New Year

Happy New Year!

I am squarely back in Canada.  We flew back on Jan 1st, and walked right into an extreme cold weather alert.  Yay.

Did anyone else loose scissors to airport security?  Gets me every time.  Either coming or going, a pair will be confiscated.  So there I was, tired after partying the new year in hours before, leaving Jamaica.   As soon as the lady told me to open the Lexie Barnes, I knew it.

“Oh crap,” said I, remembering the v. pointy Fiskar’s scissors.  Eeerks – wrong thing to say!  I got off though.  The lady was perplexed by the spindles, yarn & corresponding pink fluff.  Then the sight of socks-in-progress gave her pause.  I wasn’t expecting what happened next.  She removed my tapestry needles.  They are blunt with big enough eyes to thread yarn.  It’s a good set I got years ago when I just started to knit.  You could say that I am attached to my needles.  I woke right the hell up.  It took some calm pleading but the lady and her (thankfully female) supervisor recognized I am fully eccentric & harmless.  Maybe just maybe they also recognized that in the big, bad world blunt needles are of no moment.

In the end, I conceded 1 sharp needle and my 4th pair of scissors.  I did sock knit the entire flight, and that was some consolation.

About the pink fluff & spinning.  I had both spindles with me on this trip, and loved spinning in the back-yard.  One night, I was on the computer & looked over to see the puppy at play.  Took me a second to realize what he was chewing, the fiend.  After photo:

He took the finger roving straight off the card-table & had a grand old time.  The culprit – can you tell he’s mouthy?


This is what Abby Franquemont means in Respect the Spindle when she says on p. 115 that to avoid “spindle disasters” she follows this basic rule:

Don’t leave spindles where they’ll be attractive to a pet.

Yeah, that goes for the fibre supply too, folks!

Speaking of that wonderful book, here it is with my other Christmas books chilling in the mango tree:

They are all excellent books.  I just pored over the Knitter’s Book of Wool & am planning to make the Hill Country Hat for DH this winter.  The free pattern is here.

My new Golding Tsunami plied the merino like a dream.  It likes the grass:

I have decided to add a 3rd ply to this so that the finished yarn will be rounder.  The Ribbons-affected mess is actually still spinnable.  I will, of course, be washing the yarn as usual before using.

As much as I miss family, friends, and the decently warm weather, it is nice to be back.  The orchids welcomed us with this display!

My other plants survived surprisingly well.  Toby was just a bundle of joy when we showed up at the kennel too 🙂

What are my knitting resolutions for 2010?  Here’s a cross-post of something I wrote on Ravelry, yesterday:

1. Learning new ways to knit socks.  I have stash & 2 new books in hand.
2. Spin up a storm.
3. Knit for DH this winter – casted on for his scarf; he now wants a hat as well.
4. Selfish sweater knitting.  The upside of weight-gain?
5. Not to forget who turned out to be knitworthy this Christmas, and who did not!
6. Keep on blogging.  With new patterns on offer.


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!