Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Embracing Technology

There's a bit of the Luddite in me; I prefer to grade my patterns with pencil and paper charts, and I still prefer regular books to e-books. That said, I really love being able to audition fair isle colourways with Excel and Paint. Here's what I've been playing around with this morning.



Do you have any idea how much time (and wool) would be involved if I swatched these as knitted samples? Not sure yet whether the purple is the final version. Still some tweaking left to do.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Looking Ahead: Fusion Cardigan

It's been a year since I first knitted this little cardi.





So, finally I have the pattern written up (actually it's been written up for months) and I'm getting around to making a new model in colours more becoming to Isabel. I love the Glacier colourway, but have to admit it makes her look awfully washed out. She'll be home from grad school for a few weeks in the summer, so I'm working on getting the new sweater and accompanying pattern ready for publication. Here are the colours I've chosen for Fusion, v. 2.


The darker purple, "Frank's Plum", will be the main colour. What do you think? 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jackson's Falls

Drove to Prince Edward County yesterday for Rosehaven's Yarn Swap at Jackson's Falls Inn. A cold, but sunny day with the surrounding woods in early spring mode.



My phone camera can't do justice to the loveliness of the day. I was quite taken with the bright green moss, the only splash of colour in the landscape.
No knitting to show, but things are chugging along slowly but surely.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Carrot Soup and Cables

After a warm winter, Mother Nature is evening things out with a miserably cold April. Snow flurries practically every day this week. No accumulation, but cold, cold, cold! So, eating cold vegetables loses appeal. Soup to the rescue. Here's my own version of carrot soup, something you can whip up quickly for a warming lunch.


Liz’s Carrot Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp dried coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
4 c water
½ c milk (I use skim)

Saute the vegetables in the oil until they form a bit of a glaze in the pot. Then add the spices and water. Simmer until the carrots are tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Stir in the milk and reheat, but do not boil.








And here I am staying warm in our third-floor library. The combination of the Modern Gansey, a space heater, and a mug of tea are doing the trick.








The knitting is slow these days. Cables do not just happen. They require a lot of manipulation. With one sleeve half done, I'm working on the neckline, so that when I next try it on, the whole thing will hang properly and I can check the final sleeve length more accurately. You'll notice that my patterns usually instruct knitters to finish the neck before completing the sleeves. 


Two items of note: 
1. Wool Tyme is running a sale all month on Nordic yarns. Details here.
2. Rosehaven Yarns is holding a yarn swap tomorrow from 2-4 at Jackson's Falls Inn, 10 minutes south of Picton. See you there!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Rant: Through the Wringer

You'd better know right off the top--this rant is going to reveal my age. Time was, major appliances were something you forked out money for and then lived with for years and years. In our house in Washington, DC, we inherited an old clunker Kenmore (actually manufactured by Whirlpool) clothes washer. By the time we sold the house and returned to a colder climate, the machine was 35 years old. During our ownership, it needed one minor repair. I purchased the part and installed it myself for almost nothing.
It seems that the appliance companies have now entered a New Age. They want us to replace major appliances in the same way tech companies force us to replace tech devices (as I was finally forced to replace a mobile phone when the hardware would no longer support the software). The way appliance companies are doing this is via that old trick, built-in obsolescence. About 18 months ago, we replaced a wonky Maytag clothes washer with a GE washer. I wanted an old-fashioned top-loader for a bunch of reasons: 1) the lid on these doesn't lock as it does in high-efficiency machines, thus allowing one to manipulate the load in various ways while the cycle is in progress--useful for anyone who works with wool; 2) high-efficiency machines have cycles that take forever--hours in most cases; 3) high-efficiency machines, in my experience, are harder on one's clothes--all that motion in so little water means that the garments rub up against each other more than in a traditional washer; 4) since even traditional machines allow one to control the water level, it's possible to exercise restraint in one's water use; and 5) THIS IS THE IMPORTANT BIT--the soak cycle in traditional machines allows for soaking WITHOUT ANY MOVEMENT AT ALL. With high efficiency machines, front or top loading, there is always some slight movement of the load, and it is just enough to felt pure wool. I write from experience, unfortunately. I like to soak my sweaters in the machine, then spin them before laying them flat to dry. It's so much easier that the bathtub routine, with dripping towels and water-sodden wool.
Back to the story. Our 18-month-old washer broke down last week. It broke down in a most fundamental way, requiring over $400 in new parts. Labour would be on top of that. The warranty ended at 12 months. As a former lawyer, and someone who follows consumer law, I had decided not to purchase an extended warranty. Historically, these did not pay off. It seems that nowdays, they might, given the short lifespan of today's appliances. In any event, our machine was not covered. I called GE, and after 10 days of getting the runaround, and after calls to the US, Mexico, and Canada, finally was offered half off the cost of the parts.
What to do? Should I take up the offer and pay $200 + labour (which was going to amount to several hundreds more, given that an entire transmission needed to be installed), or try something else. I opted for the latter course. First, I decided against dealing any further with the local company that sold me the washer. It specializes in sales to high-end customers and while it does service the machines it sells, clearly the company is dedicated more to selling than repairing. Instead, I did some research on alternatives and located a company on the semi-rural fringe of Kingston that sells washers, including heavy-duty commercial machines, but specializes in repairs. They are geared to a lower-income clientele and also sell "re-built" machines. I chatted up the sales/repair staff, and they took me in back to have a look at an old Whirlpool they were working on. This is the same style of machine I had back in DC. Joy! It's going to be delivered later this week. And it comes with another 12-month warranty, but I won't need it--I'm almost certain.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Project Roundup

Time for a little roundup of finished objects. First up, Milo320's Glenora in an absolutely scrumptious shade of red. She writes, " It fits and moves beautifully!" I agree. Lovely.



In this enlargement of the Ravelry photo, it's possible to see a bit of pilling of the soft Cascade Eco+. Not to worry; this is easily cleaned up with a quick once-over with a good lint shaver. My favourite is the one sold now by Knitpicks. It used to be sold by the Dritz sewing people. I suspect that Knitpicks has bought the rights to it. (FYI, I am not receiving anything in return for an endorsement.) With a soft wool like the Eco+, there is usually quite a lot of pilling at first as the shorter fibres work their way to the surface. Eventually the pilling stops and you only need to do a cleanup a couple of times a season when the sweater is washed.
Next, check out mpgsmom's Bibliogloves. The kettle-dyed Malabrigo Arroyo really gives them an outstanding look.


This knitter has nicknamed them, "Backward Bibliogloves" because, "When I started the second (right) glove I realized that I had cabled front instead of back on the first one -- so I reversed the second one also for a matched pair." Clever knitter.
Finally, you really must see carpoolknitter's Harriet of Many Colours, knitted from a Noro yarn, Kochoran. 



It can be difficult to pull off an entire sweater in Noro, but the soft, watercolour effect of this yarn makes it work. But best of all is the clever "skirt" with its short row shaping. I love when my work inspires someone else to do something innovative like this. Absolutely stunning!!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nothing More Than Ribbing

My aran jumper has been slowly growing. I lost enthusiasm for it, I think on account of its greyness, but with the return of sunshine and flowers, my interest in it has flickered on again. In the lull, I wet blocked the completed lower body to check on the width and length. After all, aran knitting is nothing more than fancy ribbing, and blocking does wonders to open it all up.

The body, showing the blocked portion at the bottom, moving into unblocked work at the top.
Unblocked.
Blocked.
Unblocked, the patterns have a lot of attractive stitch definition, with deep valleys and high ridges, and if this were a scarf I might be tempted to leave everything that way. However, since this is going to be a sweater, I prefer to block out the stitches. When first laid out after soaking, the patterns stretched out to a scary degree. When dry, they pulled back in a bit and that's what I wanted to see. It's the only way to be really, really certain that all this effort won't come to naught. Granted it would be nice if I had had a more interesting colour than grey in my stash (I'm working on that), but at least now there's a little colour in the front garden.