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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I told you!

The Yarn Harlot blogged her Toronto book launch here.  I told you I had front row appearance – that’s me 2nd from the left in Stephanie’s Hello Toronto photo!  I love her pic of Megan & the charming Miles (aka Monkey).

I have a ton more knitting & spinning to blog but am dashing to rake leaves.  A storm is forecast for this afternoon.  Why I need to hustle:  this is my backyard with only ½ of the leaves dropped.

Those got raked.  Here’s what’s currently on the ground:

The firebush was beautiful this year.  Yes, past tense.

And so, I kid you not when I say there is raking that needs doing.  Before rainfall would be ideal.


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All Wound Up, Toronto Launch

Last night, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee‘s All Wound Up book tour finally reached Toronto!  In a very uncharacteristic move I was Knitter No. 1 on the scene at the Chapters.  And I saw that their powers that be are still in the dark about how much of a crowd the one & only Yarn Harlot is going to draw in her hometown.  Yes, dudes – even on a cold Thursday night more than 40 chairs are required.

Teresa, Meg & the hugely popular Monkey (8 weeks old) soon arrived, and we nabbed front row seats.  No zoom required, see:


Meg took our picture – very much knitting & happy.

I do have another knitting friend also called Teresa.  This confused DH to no end, so I thought I should point out that the Teresa pictured here is not the same person who is getting my spindle-spun laceweight yarn.  This Teresa is knitting a gorgeous Helix Scarf.  I was knitting a new sock.

Monkey is a superbly happy baby!  Meg chalked up his good behaviour to the sheer cushyness of his blanket but I think he’s just a good little fella.

Mom and baby will be totally featured in the Harlot’s next blog post… she took a pic of them after signing!

I was thrilled that Stephanie read from her book!  It was hilarious to hear the stories in her own voice.  Thanks to her earlier tweet, I can also tell you that she was wearing sparkly handknit socks.

Proof of the lovely meeting that happened afterwards:

Now, I was way too shy to speak in entire sentences.  I tried gathering my thoughts but it was no use.  If I had my wits about me I would have told Stephanie a huge Thank You.  Her books and her blog got me out of my head knitting, and into the wild world of meeting other knitters.  I was brand-new to Canada back then.  Finding Knitting Rules changed everything, and then I had the good sense to get out to her Casts Off book launch to hear what she really thought.

Just for the record, Chapters:  this is what the turnout for a Yarn Harlot event in Toronto is going to look like.  Always.  Even if it rains.  Got it?

 


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Winter is Coming – shawl edition

Apologies in advance for the sheer pinkness of this post.

One of my first impulses after the last day of work was to get back to knitting this lace shawl.  Quietly started back in January, it was at the knitted-on-border stage when I picked it back up last month:

The big fear was that I would never finish it!  The pattern is Jane Sowerby’s Large Rectangle in Spider Net from Victorian Lace Today.  As I said back in January, Teresa is at the root of the whole attempt.

Finally caught a good rhythm for the wide border.  It was all groovy until I noticed that the yarn ball was too small.  And this a special dye job of Indigo Moon wool/silk for her stall at the 2009 Knitter’s Frolic.  This knitting on of a border gives you 2 choices – rip it off or keep calm & carry on.

Gasp all you want.  Ripping out wasn’t an option.  I also wasn’t into pausing to seek another 1,000+ yards.  So the last half-corner became the natural insertion point for another Canadian yarn, Handmaiden by Fleece Artist.   I am not pretending this is either a design element or high art.  It is Former Tom Boy Does Lace.

That was blocking attempt number 2, by the way.  The dog chasing the cat over attempt number 1 was spectacular.  In the disastrous second, I caught Toby mid-run & stopped the tear of yarn courtesy of his claw.  No rest for the wicked?

I’ve called the project Lord Varys’ Little Spiders since we’ve found the Game of Thrones in the time it took to knit this.

The garish corner (yes, I can admit it) is easily covered by the sheer size of this shawl.  Winter may be coming but I’ll have a warm & super-bright shawl!  Canada is Winterfell without the wall, trust me.

All the friends assure me that fuchsia is my colour… uh-huh, right.

Layers of the warm:

And lastly, the leg o’ lace:

I’m looking forward to this afternoon – meeting up with Megster at a local cafe for fun knitting in public.  If you take a peek at her blog then you’ll know that Meg’s expecting!  Any day now there shall be a Junior in the house!


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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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Day Tripping

It may be chilly but the sun is still shining in these parts!  The whole plan to use every second of summery weather for my wool prep. hasn’t taken off – yet.  What happened is that I went into Toronto yesterday for a v. important document.   The ulterior motive was to hit up Romni Wools for a book on spinning.

The day started with a leetle shock – someone swooped my parking spot at the train station!  Unbelievable.  We are new to having a reserved (i.e., paid) spot.  These lots are more than overcrowded.  Even paid spots are scarce the waiting list is 1 year long.   The someone who swooped my spot drives a luxury sedan.  A fact that was not lost on me as I had to deal with their case…  Good thing I had time to spare.  My ankle does not do running anymore/ yet…

It was a good day away from the cares of house guests.  In the cool morning my Aestlight shawl kept the chill off beautifully.  I got my document first, and then went into a Starbucks.  It’s a tony part of town that Rosedale.  Starbucks was busy but I got a table.  Man, the conversations around me & my sock knitting were something else!  Overheard without trying:

  1. An older man related a touching story about his family split during WW2 after fleeing Ukraine for Canada.  After a lifetime apart, the long-lost cousins recently make contact.  He really had me going.  Yeah, cousins all named after them for their charmed existence  here in Canada.  I nearly gave him an, “Awww.”  Except the story changes, and dude is edgy about the relatives.  They are maybe too needy.  It was all I could do to keep from dropping a DPN.  He out & out says that yes, they bear the family resemblance but it’s time to detach.   His Dad always said they left for a reason & must live the good life now.  In the same voice as before, dude muses that he lived his whole life without knowing them.  In the next breath, he went into his Christian denomination. Nice, eh?
  2. The 2 women right beside me gossiped about their ministry jobs.  Seriously, ladies, it isn’t code if you use names!

I left the people-watching, packed in the sock & went on an epic walk.  Epic enough to give me a blister.  I did make it over to Romni’s pre-blister.  There I found the book to ground me in the spinning – Maggie Casey’s  “Start Spinning – Everything you need to Know to Make Great Yarn:”

Already I can tell we won’t have a repeat of my first winding off disaster… And now I can fix the disaster too!  The internet has been great for showing me the basics but I needed a hard copy with pictures to go any farther.

While there, I had to get some Rowan Calmer.  I have a library copy of Amy R. Singer’s “No Sheep for You,” and am intrigued.  The idea is to see if this will be a better choice for Sierra’s care package.  I do realize that it’s not machine washable.  That’s a big draw-back.  On the other hand, some babies are allergic to wool…  I will swatch carefully & get back to you.

I didn’t make it to Pub Night this week.  It was right after I took FIL to the airport.  Let’s just say that the heroic amounts of cooking, cleaning, golf watching & general companionship took their toll.  In the last few days, DH was sliding to his cozy basement like all the time!  So my tired & headachey self took an executive decision and stayed in.  I was aiming to go to tonight’s Sit ‘n Knit at Spun but DH makes a good point… rush hour is still on & the traffic is heading thataways!

Happy World Wide Spin in Public Day when it comes!


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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.