Sunday, March 17, 2019

Knitting Green

Now that there's a hint of spring--the robins and red wing blackbirds are back, and huge flocks of geese have been flying over--I'm getting ready to shed my heavy duty winter knits for something lighter. OK, not right away. After all, it's only minus 2C this afternoon. I have a little time to prepare. It's back to my old favourite, the Perth Cardi, re-vamped last year. The one I sweated over last summer (literally) has gone to live in California, where it's perfect for the foggy, cool weather of the Bay area. So I need a new one.

The grey, cold afternoon is not providing the right light to show you how vibrant this green really is. So "springy" in both colour and texture.
And you can see my other St. Patrick's day project in the background. That's the recipe for Irish soda bread I make every year. The late James Beard's recipe is the best ever and it's available online here. Hint: I never seem to have buttermilk hanging around in my fridge, so I just do that old trick of adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the bottom of the measuring cup before adding the milk and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Never fails. We love the velvety texture of this bread. So good with butter and a strong cup of tea. And knitting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Only a Year

Today I've finally published Ellerbeck. It took a long, long time, I know. I kept getting sidetracked with other things. Then, last summer was our first without air conditioning and I barely knitted at all. Even the thought of wool was overwhelming. When I got back into it, I decided to play around a bit with the original design, making it shorter, adding German short rows to lower the back, moving the body increases farther away from the sides, and ending the increases after a few inches to create a slight "bubble" shape. On my final test knit, I knew I wouldn't have enough of the main colour and decided at the outset to knit stripes on the sleeves, easing in the new colour through a Fibonacci sequence. That turned out to be my favourite version.

Same version as above, just laid completely flat.

This swingy pullover was designed by me to wear with some of my sewn pieces from Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing collection. The neck is cast on provisionally, then finished later with Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind off. There are links to tutorials for all the techniques. This is a quick, fun, and useful knit. Hope you enjoy it! Ellerbeck can be downloaded here.

Friday, March 1, 2019

A Handmade Birthday

I'm coming to grips with not having Isabel close by for her birthdays. To make both of us feel better, I decided this year to send a special handmade gift--a Wiksten Haori, made with fabric Isabel had seen and admired in my stash when she was home last Xmas. The only thing I had to buy was the lining fabric and thread. The shipping of the finished product almost cost me more!
Here's the jacket, in Essex linen/cotton in light periwinkle, lined with a granny smith apple small-scale cotton print.

The only mod to the basic pattern is the pockets; I noticed that other sewists were gravitating toward this version in which they are sewn right into the seams. It's much easier than patch pockets, and for anyone who has worn this jacket, you know IT'S ALL ABOUT THE POCKETS! So much room for all your stuff. And also so cushy from the double layers. Comfort plus. This is the XXS. Isabel is super-petite and the design is very, very oversized. I chose a couple of lining fabrics and sent photos for her to choose from. It's not a surprise, but it's something I hope she will love.
Winter continues. We're getting enough radiant heat from the sun to melt a little around the edges in the middle of the day, but conditions are far from feeling spring-like.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that along with Isabel's present I included a hand-painted birthday card featuring the lake late last fall in its "everything grey" mode.

I know my watercolour painting is hopelessly amateurish, but perhaps it will remind Isabel of home.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Finally, some photos of my Ellerbeck sweater, on its way to being published.


Testing is underway. Won't be long now.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bellevue Mittens

Am I the only person to consider February the low point of the year? Or is it only those in snowy, northern climes who feel this way? It's not the darkest point in the year, but it is the time when lots of us feel trapped in some sort of Narnian endless winter nightmare.

During the extra-cold weather a couple of weeks ago, when I pretty much hibernated indoors, I came across a little bag of Ashford Corriedale top in a soft mauve-purple at the bottom of my stash. Using a home-made spindle and a shoebox kate, I spun it into a 2-ply worsted weight, a yarn that normally knits up to 5 stitches per inch. It was probably closer to double knitting weight than aran weight.

Next, I browsed through Wendy Bernard’s “Japanese Stitches Unraveled” and, it being close to Valentine’s Day, the cabled hearts caught my attention. I liked 1) the way in which the hearts are stacked, 2) the combination of cables and seed stitch, and 3) the unique way that the cables are constructed. Although the ropes look like ordinary k2 cables, they are in fact made by k1, p1, k1; the centre purl stitch is sucked invisibly into the rope, giving it a deeply sculpted profile. So clever.

I adapted the cable to the mitt silhouette and deliberately placed the thumbs very slightly toward the palms to prevent the torqueing of the main pattern on the back of the hand, incorporating a gap-less thumb pickup.
Because the stitch pattern is designed to fit precisely into the given number of stitches, the size adjustments for these mitts are made by varying the yarn and gauge (see below). The good news is that my pair ended up taking only 56g of hand spun, making them a perfect small yardage project.

 You can download the Bellevue Mittens pattern here.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back in the Lineup

A while ago I removed this pattern from my Ravelry shop. I'm not even sure why, but since I made the Brookline cardigan free on Ravelry, I've been getting requests for the sock pattern. Here it is.

If you choose to knit these fun socks, DON'T do what I did. I used the leftover yarn from my Brookline cardigan, the lovely Sandnesgarn Babyull. It's 100% merino, no nylon. The socks were (note the past tense) equally lovely, but lasted about 10 minutes before the heels wore out. I guess I'd better indulge in a new pair. And I have this in mind for them.

It's Tanis Fiber Arts' sock yarn, a soft pink/grey. Perfect.
On an unrelated note, I took a pic of this 19C wall while out walking yesterday.

It's calling to me to design something. I'm just not sure what yet...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Palette for Early Spring, 2019

OK, so winter hasn't even properly arrived and I'm already thinking about what I want to make and wear for early spring. In fact, it's probably the uncharacteristically spring-like conditions that have me daydreaming about a new palette. This morning I pulled out my watercolours and spent some time playing with a new colour palette, a little softer than my current one.

Taupey, cool browns are a new addition for me, as is the burgundy, which is almost the colour of dried blood. Not very appealing, I know, as a descriptor, but it's the best I can do. I've toned down the deep grape from my last palette to a dusky violet shade. I've also added a dusky pink, and I've eliminated deep navy, which I find a bit harsh with my aging hair and skin, in favour of a greyed, denimy version.
Fortunately, I already have a lot of these colours in my yarn and fabric stash. See?

There's everything from mohair, silk, cashmere, and wool yarn to linen and cotton twill fabric. Can't wait to get started!