Tuesday, July 31, 2012

project update

It's hard to believe that tomorrow it will be August already.  This summer is certainly zooming by.  It must be all of the sunny days.... ;-)

The first table mat got its test run at the Campsite on the weekend.  It makes a great surface for card playing, and survived the weekend intact.  Now I am inspired to get busy finishing off the other one, if only I can tear myself away from the knitting...

Alga is all but finished.  I decided to add 5" onto each of the sleeves (they were just 3/4ish), and have just 2?" left on one sleeve and the cuff to finish.  If only I hadn't forgotten my ball of wool up at the campsite....   Not to worry, it will be a quick finish when I am back up again on the weekend.

So last night I started knitting on the new Noro Cropped Jacket.  Here is the left front, at the end of day one....

As expected, it's hard to put down.  All of the colour changes and combinations makes it exciting to watch it come together right before my eyes.  With the Olympics on TV, it should be easy to park in front of the couch and knit in the evenings, so I'm hoping it will be a fast knit despite the 3.5mm needles.  I will keep you posted...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Christmas in July*

Good things usually come in threes, so they say.  And They were right yesterday!  A couple of things I had ordered seemingly ages ago finally arrived - a big box of wool from Heaven's to Betsy and some yummy Noro sock yarn.  The surprise arrival was the newest issue of Selvedge.  Although the joy was pretty instantaneous with the first glance at each of these items, I think the real pleasure will be savoured over time. 

The wool yardage will have to be measured, cut and ripped into pieces.  Some will be washed to use 'as is' and the rest will be fodder for my dye pots (once the weather cools off, of course!)   The yarn will be knit into a new sweater pour moi.  Since first spotting pictures of the Cropped Jacket on Julie's blog a couple of months ago, I cannot seem stop thinking about this cardi from the new Noro Magazine.....

image borrowed from here

It's simply perfect - in every way.   The colours, the neat shaping.....it's just delicious!  The only downside was trying to track down the colourways used in the sample (I really love it, just as it is and I have no interest in changing a single thing - which is quite rare for me).  Since the yarn (Silk Garden Sock) was apparently discontinued and then brought back, many yarn shops cut it from their lineups....and with the launch of the magazine, most everywhere that still carries it is back-ordered on one or both of the two colourways used.   Persistence did pay off, though....and I was finally able to order it from Knitting Sisters – and even better, there was no customs or taxes due upon arrival!  :-)  Now I just need to finish off my Alga (2" from the bottom edging....and a few inches to add to each sleeve with my extra yarn), and I will be good to go.   There is nothing like an exciting project waiting in the wings to motivate me to finish the current one.  Hopefully I will be underway on the Noro early next week.

*It was only this morning that I noticed yesterday was also the 25th – a happy coincidence!  ;-)

Monday, July 23, 2012

3 hours later

Abandoned projects.  We all have them - myself included.  Having unfinished business lying around (or hiding out of sight, but not out of mind) drives me nuts and pinches my conscience....so I try force myself to finish off most things before I start another one.  Every once in a while, though, one will slip though my fingers.  Sometimes I get stuck and don't know how to proceed.  Other times it gets side-lined, usually in the name of tidying up (and once it goes away, it tends to stay away....because often the reason the mess is all out and about is because I'm stuck...).  So I guess it usually all comes back to being 'stuck'.

The good news is that I've learned that last year's (month's, week's, decade's) version of being stuck usually vanishes shortly after I haul the project out to see the light of day.  Whatever I might have thought of as insurmountable at one time, is often easily overcome with the benefit of time.  Sometimes this is because I've just worked it up into a much bigger problem than it really was....sometimes I learn to just accept whatever was bothering me....sometimes I've learned something new in the interim....and sometimes I simply decide that to try something and fail is better than having things hanging around gathering dust.  At least if it really doesn't work, I can toss the lot and assuage my guilt.

Remember the Table Mats I started making last summer?  They've been hibernating for a whole year now....and after talking about it for weeks, I finally got around to pulling them out tonight.  I think they were abandoned because I didn't know how I was going to sew on the binding - or if I even had enough fabric to make it.  But after three hours of ironing, cutting, making mitred seams (this tool is awesome - and works every time!), pinning, sewing, and pinning some more.....the first table pad is ready for action!

We are having a family gathering at the campsite this weekend, so it will get it's debut....and I will try to take some snaps of it in situ.  Once I try it out on the table and make sure it fit and works okay, I plan to resume working on pad #2.  In the meantime, it's looking like this....

Something tells me it's going to take more than 3 hours to finish off the next one....LOL!  But at least I know that I am going to have enough fabric to finish off the binding (I didn't quite use half on the first one...yippee!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

I heart stamps

Yes, it's true.  And although I was a 'stamp collector' when I was a kid (soaking, tweezers, and special books - the whole bit!), there were several years in between when I didn't really pay too much attention to what was going onto my packages and envelopes.  Not quite sure what happened there, but for the last few years, I have returned to asking at the post office "do you have any fun stamps?"

When they do, I buy – and buy, if I really like them (because I've slowly learned that there can be droughts in the 'fun stamp' supply).  Sometimes I have to resort to buying whatever is available, but still, all is not lost.  It's the eclectic collection of stamps on an envelope that really makes me smile (not to mention watching the clerks trying to count up the value when they question whether or not I've put enough postage on...LOL!)  And with the dwindling amounts of personal mail arriving in mailboxes everywhere, I like to do what I can to pretty-up the packages. 

Aside from mailing out some orders (thank you, thank you! bisou, bisou! merci beaucoup!), I've been knitting away on my sweater.  I will post a picture soon (my attempts earlier in the week were just that: weak).   In the meantime, I'm heading off to the MAC show in Bracebridge this afternoon for some eye candy and inspiration....and maybe even a bit of shopping? ;-)  Happy weekending!

Monday, July 16, 2012

more "Ewe-Fuse"

Thanks so much for your orders last week.  I will include ordering information over on the sidebar --> soon...but in the meantime, just send me an email if you are interested).

Today I want to share snaps of some of the other items I've made employing the same basic technique.  These are all table runners.....

Hauling a couple of pieces out for some quick snaps this morning has my fingers itchy to get making.  Too bad I have to leave home in 10 minutes to go to work... ;-(

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

introducing "Ewe-Fuse"

I know that I've hinted at and alluded to a new project many times over the last few months....and honestly, I really didn't plan on it being so long before I shared it here.  I guess the flurry of activity before (and during!) the Annual took a lot more out of me than I thought it would.  All the same, the excitement for this technique hasn't diminished one iota for me.  I am thrilled to be able to share my newest creative discovery with you – I've never heard of anyone employing a similar method before. I think the most wonderful thing about it is that I feel the possibilities are endless.  There are so many different things I want to make using my Ewe-Fuse fabric.  So without further ado, here it is.....

The idea of sewing strips of wool together without the bulk of traditional quilting seams has been running around in my head for a few years now. But it really evolved beyond just an idea this past December, when I needed to make a few 11th hour Christmas gifts. Over the course of an evening – and several misfires – I quickly developed the basics for this technique. I knew right away that it was something that I wanted to explore and experiment more with, but I just didn’t have a block of time available to do so until this Spring. When I finally got back to it, it was almost as though someone had suddenly changed the light bulb to a brighter one….and with the space that time provides, ideas quickly morphed beyond my original thoughts.

I know that I still have a lot of my own experimenting to do with this technique and patterns I would still like to develop, but I was just too excited not to share this first simple project: Hot Pads.

Let me assure you that despite all of the steps involved, it really is very basic. You really just need to be able to cut straight – and that’s pretty easy with the help of a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. As always, there are comprehensive full-colour instructions and illustrations to help guide you through each of the steps. I've included some tips and hints to make things easier along the way, as well.

The instruction booklet sells for $12, and it is divided into 3 parts…
  1. Making your 1st piece of ‘ewe-fuse’ fabric
  2. Creating your 1st hot pad
  3. Master Class (pointers about future project possibilities, and some suggestions for making more complex ‘ewe-fuse’ fabrics).
Here are a few snaps of some of the hot pads I've made.  I think they are a great way to experiment with different colour palettes and play with gorgeous hand-dyed wools, without the time that hand-hooking requires.  And they would make a pretty nice gift! :-D


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

on the needles

Last August I knit my first Alga pullover....and while it was bliss at first, the combination of losing a little weight and it stretching soon rendered it a little too big for me.  Rather than unravelling the whole thing and essentially throwing away all of those knitting hours, I decided to give it away.  Which was a great deal for my mum, but a little sad for me because I really liked it.

Fast forward to this spring, when I paid a visit to the Needle Emporium and picked out some more Tosh Merino Light to knit another one.  Manor is a lovely greyish colour with little hints of turquoise - it should compliment my new Mother Nature hair nicely.....LOL.

The above photo shows the colour with the Ott light, and the following picture is a more natural light.  I think the actual colour lies somewhere in between. 

I'm by no means an expert or even a very quick knitter....but I do really enjoy it.  I am also very familiar with how frustrating it can be to make a wrong move and have to unravel backwards.  So I've learned a few tricks along the way that can help reduce the number of silly mistakes I make.

First, I knit a swatch.  I never used to do this - I was always too eager to just cast on and get started - but over time I've realized that it really can make or break your project.  More times than not, it saves heaps of heartbreak.  I am not so good about washing the swatch yet, though – I am going to have to work on that. 

Second, I try to read over the whole pattern before starting.  I circle all of the numbers in the instructions for the size that I am knitting, to make them quick and easy to find later on.  I also make notes in potential stumbling sections - especially areas where the pattern says to do something and then do it X more times.  I cross out the X and write in the total number of times (too often I've referred back to the pattern and missed including the first time in my count).

Third, I  make little cue cards.  When I have to repeat two rows (each with different actions) multiple times, it can be hard to remember where I am at.  I usually just take a little Post-it note folded in half or heavy piece of card and write the instructions for each of the rows on its own side.  At the conclusion of each round, I just flip over the cue card.  When there are a couple of hundred stitches in a round, there are bound to be interruptions before you get to the end....and this is a quick way to keep on track.  All it takes is a quick glance down.   If I need to work the same row a certain number of times, I can just keep track on the cue card. 

When I knit with hand-painted yarns, I try to work from two balls at once - switching every two rows.   My little note on the cue card reminds me when to switch.  I don't even need to think about it - just glance down and see if it's time....

Hopefully these little tricks are useful.   Do you have any tried and true tricks of your own to promote knitting success?

Monday, July 09, 2012


After a relaxing 48 hours mostly spent sitting lakeside, reading and sleeping in my tent, I am feeling a bit of excitement about the week ahead.  I've started knitting again (more on that tomorrow) and even started the internal debate about 'what to hook next'.  Thankfully the weather has cooled a bit, but it's still a little hard to contemplate starting a new rug project, given the forecast for later in the week.  I will also be posting more details about a series of projects I made in the Spring (the photo is a little tease).

I also received good news last night about another recovery - the rugs I posted about here have been found!
Good News,

The rugs have been found.  A young man walking his dog found them in a plastic garbage bag along a bike trail.  His dog was sniffing the bag and he opened it up and discovered the rugs.  He attends the church where the rugs were taken from and had seen the flyers about the rugs.  The rugs are in good condition with the exception of a few leaves and a musty odor.

I want to thank everyone who helped to spread the word by sending my note out to groups, adding it to blogs and websites.  Please resend to those same groups so everyone knows that the rugs have been found.
I heard from so many of you expressing your concern and that confirmed to me the unique friendships that we have within the rug hooking community.

Again thanks to all and have a wonderful summer,


Thursday, July 05, 2012

not alone

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then this next snap goes a long way in explaining that my blog is not the only thing that's been neglected lately.  This poor Basil plant made it clear to me that it's not just my imagination – things are slowly spiraling out of control.  Many things.  The last few weeks have just seemed so busy.  And the crazy heat of the last few days has done little to help the situation.  Did I mention that I've probably read more books in the last month than I have in the last 5 years?  But enough whining and more than enough reading for a little while.  The reality is that I just need to start somewhere.  Anywhere.

So I decided that tonight was the night.  The time for simply ignoring it (and hoping it would go away) was over – and a solid job of tidying up needed to take its place.  Of course in the middle of my little cleaning blitz, I discovered the limp and crispy basil and decided to resume procrastinating take a little break and write this quickie post.....but at least I can cross one more thing of my list! :-)

I have a growing list of things to blog about.  Really, I do.  And so I'm pledging to resume regular, almost-daily, weekday posts starting on Monday.  [I know that if I write it down - and commit to it here - I will be more likely to follow through.  After 39 years together, I know myself.  I need deadlines.  Even self-imposed ones.]  Have a great weekend!

P.S.  If you want some neat eye candy, check out this neat design website my niece introduced to me.  They will even do custom printed duvet covers, shower curtains, etc.  Pretty cool, eh....