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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Laborious Labour Day

It was as if we caught the Labour Day bug… big preparations for FIL’s visit.  He comes today & there’s been some serious graft – everything from pruning bushes to cleaning the fridge.  This weekend on top of regular inside jobs, windows got washed, the garage got tidied/ purged, the snowblower got fixed, etc.  So, we are almost ready for the Force of Nature’s arrival!  Almost.

Of course, wool processing took a back seat.  Nearly all evidence of Peter Tosh the Fleece has been sent to the basement.  I got that it would be nuts to leave bags of wool (clean & unclean) in one’s dining room but have a Stepford-clean garage…  See, I’m not that far gone!  Instead, I whipped up a wee bunny with some clean wool & my felting needle.  Who says Romney wool doesn’t full?

We have a mascot!

We have a mascot!

The blue eyes & the nose are from some extra wool I kept.  The white bits came from the fleece.  Plan B is to needle felt my wool if all attempts at spinning fail!

I also found time to finally finish the Hottie Hottie tank top.  It fits very nicely & isn’t tight at all.  Even if Canadian weather turns decidedly autumnal, I can wear this in Jamaica when we go this Christmas…

The side view is my favourite:

And here’s a slightly blurry back view pic:

With that off the needles, I turned my attention back to the secret baby gift.  I decided against alternating yarns & ripped it back to the ribbed edge.  I’m still not too sure about the flashes of colour in the variegated yarn.  It may just want to be a dishcloth but for now I am giving it the benefit of the doubt.  The working plan is to use this as the main colour & change back to the white yarn at the other end.  Here it is on probation:

Shh - still a secret

Shh - still a secret

I’m off to finish the last of the chores!  Happy knitting if you can get some!

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Yardie Yarnie

This blogger might just be the world’s first yardie yarnie.  Just to be clear – I do not want this getting back to my Mother, Father or in-laws.  In this regard, TKK is counting on her dear brother to remember who kept all his tattoo news to herself.

It’s a long story the upshot of which is that in a few hours, I will acquire ½ a fleece.  Raw, untreated & probably rather unclean wool.  Shorn from a genuine Romney sheep here in Ontario this June.  The fleece of a champion grey sheep.  What possessed me?  Ahh well…

  1. The price was right.  $25 for this much wool – hello?!  Sirdar’s 100% undyed virgin Eco Wool dk yarn sells for $6.99 around here.  That’s $6.99 for 1¾ oz.  How much does ½ a ram yield you ask?  This one is 7 lbs for $25.  I am not skipping the part where I’ll have to wash, dry, and then comb the locks into the actual raw wool.  Then turn my hand at spinning.  I know. I know.  But still.  Listen, if someone else does the dirty work the roving from Romney fleece starts at $25 per lb.  My seller says she paid double for the raw fleece.
  2. Even my clueless yardie self knew that Romney wool is, to quote Martha, a good thing.  It has an even crimp & is relatively low on the lanolin.  That was my intuition.  Boy was it a relief to then look it up & see many a yarnie recommend Romney as the starter wool for spinning!
  3. I liked the fact that it is natural grey wool.  For all of this madness, I draw the line at spinning.  Dyeing isn’t pulling at me.
  4. Yonder farm is inside of 100 miles by half.  I am meeting my seller in the next town over.
  5. Drop spindles captivate me.  In the same way knitting used to before I got the knack.
  6. Felting projects have been occurring to me over-night.  Baby Sierra’s room might do well with a grey felted bunny, and so on.
  7. DH okayed the madness.  He was shocked at the offer price – he’s caught on to what a sweater’s-worth of yarn costs.  He wanted to trade permissions – I get this wool & he gets his coveted video card.  Well that effort flopped – the video card is 10xs that wool!

All of which is very true.  However, this might be a tad more bitten off than is chewable.  Where/ how shall I store this baby?  Can you hide 7 lbs of wool from a visiting in-law?  FIL arrives in a week!

Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool?

No sir, no sir I’ve given it away

Three bags to a crazy yardie

Irieknit is her name

Back in the now… My Hottie Hottie tank top hit an equipment roadblock.  My longer 4.0mm circular needle went missing.  For all the searching, it was well & truly lost.  One thing led to another, and now I have an Addi Turbo 4.0mm circ.  Talk about getting the knit knack!  Light, bright & beautiful.

Addi Turbos give you wings!

Addi Turbos give you wings!

Of course, I found the old aluminum needle the very next day… outside, chilling on the patio.  How rude!

While I was in the LYS why not stash for my MK Carroll Tillie Cloche Hat?

Just as a parting pic – this here is a backyard butternut!

Aint she a beaut?

Ain't she a beaut?

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We hear you, Usain!

Can I just say Happy Belated Birthday to Usain St. Leo Bolt?!  Keep sprinting my yout!

The Daily Gleaner’s on-line edition ran a Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) article today that quotes Usain on his main goal:

I keep telling you – my main (goal) is to become a legend. That’s the aim for me and that’s what I’m working on.

Alrighty then!  Seems that Usain doesn’t think he needs a new goal…  Friends & family tell us how absolutely electric the Championship has been for the island.  From strength to strength!

I have barely touched my knitting since Pub Night on Wednesday.  There’s just been no time.  I dropped everything (blog included) to put my house in order.  My ankle decided to make simple cleaning difficult, so everything took forever to get done.

It was a matter of killing 2 occasions with 1 stone.  I was getting ready for an old high school girlfriend’s visit but also for my cousin & her BF who are stopping by for dinner on Sunday.  In my world comprehensive housework gets done for concrete reasons & concrete reasons alone.  Barring that I keep it basic & other fun things like knitting precedence.  Anyhow, with some pacing things got clean & tidy in time for my early bird girlfriend!  We had a lovely day together & I’m very happy that I got out of the old tired lunch-in-the-city mentality.  You know:  sit, eat, chat, kiss kiss.

So nice to have a good friend around.  Toby was a brat for a long while but he eventually figured out that my friend loves dogs – even bratty ones!  Let’s hope he got that out of his system.  The cousins are not quite as dog tolerant as this friend.

Since the tank top is still a thin circle of red yarn, I’ll wait to post a progress pic.  Instead, I give you a page from my 2009 Slingshot organizer:

Top right:  In Knit we Trust

Top right: In Knit we Trust

After their welcome essay, the Slingshhot Collective adds:

Anti-Copyright.  Borrow whatever you want.  We did.

Gotta love that.  So, feel free to pay that one forward.  You can find the radicals over here.  The About page is worth a read.  Now if the radicals know that in Knit we Trust, they are definitely onto something!

All of which is to drop a heavy hint in Brother Man’s general direction… a 2010 Slingshot Organizer would be appreciated!

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Thinking it Over

Last I wrote there was to be furious fingerless glove knitting this week.  For my cousin’s (long over-due) birthday gift.  One, “Are you nuts?” glance from DH put paid to the idea.  Him noticing an unspoken vibe between women?  Woke up.  Smelled the coffee.  Yes, it is true that she is decidedly underwhelmed by the knitting thing.

So, I did the right thing & pulled the plug on that project.  Away to the mass market I go.  Chuh!

Bumped up the knit queue is a cotton tank top.  So, yet again, I am carrying a non-descript circle of yarn to Pub Night 🙂  This time it’s red.

Let us not speak of that stitch marker, okay?

Raided odds & bobs of jewelry for the stitch markers. No questions!

It will be a cotton tank top à la Kristen TenDyke’s Provence Broken Rib Tank.  A free pattern here.  It has rave reviews on Ravelry & looks like a winner.  Her model looks demure as demure can be.  I, on the other hand, am going in another direction.  Working title?  Hottie Hottie Toppie!

My little bougainvillea has smiled upon me.  Paradise in a pot, people!

Not as homesick with this baby to look at! Frankie Flowers of CityTv wasn’t kidding when he said August is a good time to fertilize.

What will I do when the growing season is over?

The next project in queue is there to stay.  It’s the Sushi Moss baby gift!  We now have a gender & a name.  As we hoped, it’s a girl!  To be named Sierra.  Although my cunning plan is underway, I can’t say too much…  Her Momma stops in here for a read every so often.  Must be a surprise!

So far, I have pattern ideas & the yarn is on order.  Back story on the yarn order.  So, I was all excited to drive the 20 mins to this LYS. They have an annual summer sale & I have ideas.  First I went when it was closed.  Yes, I have a history of doing that.  My bad.  I go back the next day (scenic 20 min. drive) only to be sorely disappointed.  Where are the mark-downs?  Live & learn my friends.   Apart from this small order, I left empty-handed.  Onwards to their competitors’ sales.

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Models the new Tank Top

The weather is co-operating with me for once – it’s warm and my Skimpy Sarah Tank is ready:

Rocking the Skimpy Sarah Tank

Rocking the Skimpy Sarah Tank

Here’s the peek-a-boo front view:

Tank and skirt - my time of year!

Tank and skirt - my time of year!

The straps did ‘grow’ a shade with the wetting, and is a little looser on the back.  Not to the point of sagging but Hubby says the bra was peaking.  Resewing the straps would be a pain since I pretty much went to town with securing them…  I’ve also ruled out going bare – that lace tells no lies, and the silk is still too shall we say, textured, for that.  It’s comfortable as is but I can always layer it.  The best would be to wear this tank over my bathing suit.  Which makes me wonder – our Houston hotel must have a pool right?!?

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Knitted from Stash

My batch of knitting projects was overwhelming at one point but now I feel like a regular pro rolling out all these FOs!  I wore my socks through the cold snap & finally took pictures of them.  Yeah, and I know they are pretty hokey as pictures go… What can I say –  it was a busy morning!

Denim socks knit plain

Denim socks knit plain

Feet are propped on our Rubbermaid step stool.  Not sure what exactly I was thinking there.  And another:

Top down view for top down socks:)

Top down view for top down socks:)

As soon as the 2nd sock was off the needles & kitchenered shut, I jumped into making the Sarah Tank Top by Christine Buhagiar on Knitting for Boozehags.  You can find her pattern here for free. The idea was to use my stashed 200g of Estelle raw silk yarn.  It was also my instant project for showing up at the Burlington Pub Night.  The pattern was in queue with size & yarn adjustments, so I figured I was on safe ground.

Well, I don’t know about you all but my instant projects always have 1 or 2 froggings in store for me.   This one was no different.  I did screw up the courage to join the Pub Night, and the ladies gave me a warm welcome.  It turned out my inviter couldn’t make it, so they must have been surprised to have a stranger drop in like that!  First frogging was at the Pub Night.  It was a silly mistake – I had twisted the first round when joining it together.  After a few inches of pushing things around, I accepted facts and frogged.  In the re-do, I realized that the scallop repeat was not working.  That took some hard thinking but I finally realized the instructions were to start with three p2togethers, then do five repeats of k1 yo, followed by six p2togs.  With that learning curve climbed, I got to knit like a maniac.  Good way to spend the Victoria Day long weekend.

The pattern is only for a medium, so I sized it down to a small, and added some waist shaping thanks to the formula in my copy of Stich ‘N Bitch Nation.  The rest of the pattern was all well & good but I was short on yarn.  So, it ended up being a Skimpy Sarah Tank Top.  For starters, I nixed the upper back body.  Then I chopped the upper bodice, and it evolved into a criss crossed i-cord strappy tank top.  It looked cute on before blocking.  Here she is pinned and drying:

Skimpy Sarah Tank Top

It’s hard to see but I did keep the pattern’s scallop detail under the bustline.  With luck I’ll be wearing this in Houston & all summer long!  Does this make me a boozehag?

Hubby is extremely pleased to throw the manual lawn mower to the back of the shed.  He was the laughing stock of our sub-urban neighbourhood.  Every guy on our street offered their mower to him at one point or another…  One went so far as to say, “There are easier ways to get exercise!”   We went with a corded electric model that mulches.  Believe you me our back yard has not looked this good in 3 years!  I spent a fair chunk of time weeding, and also planted out the Easter hydrangea.  We now have 3 hydrangea along that side of the fence.

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Harshing my mellow

Philip Street’s Fisher comic in today’s Globe & Mail is hilarious, and ends with, “Oh, Man.  You’re harshing my mellow.”  Yesterday, out of the blue, a friend harshed mine.  She called me an old woman.  As in, “You are such an old woman.  First knitting, and now orchids,” with maximum snarkiness.  Yea.  Who knows – maybe she plans on returning the handknit fingerless gloves?

Here’s where things stand in my knitting bag.  Massive new Lady B bag is edging me onto more projects.  Still under austerity measures, so no large projects in the works.

On the Needles – We have a 2nd sock that’s growing at the leg.  Pretty mundane, so moving along… We still have the baby cardigan (grits her teeth).  Thought I was blocked and ready to piece it all together.  Hit a snag with the sleeves.  Turns out, I made a dumb mistake, and must re-do said sleeves.  My LYSO figured it out – the sleeves don’t fit the armhole because only one side of each had the increases.  I managed to do this because I knit them both at the same time.  It looked fine with them side-by-side on the needles but they were lop-sided.  Good thing I started well before the baby is due…

In the Pipeline – A shrug for my cousin’s wedding next month.  After hours of searching, I settled on Pam Allen’s Reading in Bed Shrug.  This Hand Maiden lace silk will match the dress to a T (we hope):

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

Hand Maiden Lace Silk for Shrug

The yarn is totally lace-weight.  I am going to double the yarn, and swatch like crazy…  I’m not generally a shrug girl, so fingers crossed.  Not sure how I’ll maintain the colourway with doubling – need to give that a think.

I am also experimenting with resizing.  The Sarah Tank Top by Christine Buhagiar (Knitting for Boozehags).  She only gave it in medium, so I am going down to my size – small.  I want to try to use my Estelle 100% silk (grey), and see if it makes for a good tank.  Means adjusting for this new gauge…  Gotta bust that stash!