Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fibonacci is Free!

Celebrate the start of summer knitting with my Fibonacci Scarf. It's that time of year when you might not feel like lugging around a heavy wool sweater, so why not choose a fun sock yarn and try this easy scarf. It's perfect travel knitting, with most of the knitting doable on auto-pilot. Turn it into a shawl by using a sport weight and/or knitting an extra garter stitch stripe. Gauge doesn't really matter in this sort of knitting. Relax!



Click here to see more Fibonacci scarves and here to download. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Churchill Was Right

Winston Churchill apparently said, "Creativity is the ability to move from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm". (My source is Sally Melville, in her fabulously creative book, "The Knit Stitch".) I've been having a very creative day, moving from one failed attempt to another in an effort to make knit stitches flow in various directions without interruption. It seems quite ridiculous that I should find the problem so engrossing. Some would say I ought to be devoting this problem-solving energy to more weighty matters. However, I've had a most satisfying day and I'm happy to report that the problem has been solved and duly recorded in pencil in my Hilroy Notebook #9. (No sense in coming up with brilliant solutions if you don't keep track of what you did.)
The inspiration for my new garment comes from several sources. First, Sally Melville's above-mentioned book. If you're into garter stitch (and you really ought to be), this is one of the great must-have knitting books. It advertises itself as "a learn-to-knit book that's not just for beginners", and that's so right. I'd been knitting for almost 40 years when this book appeared and I learned A LOT from it. One of the later chapters presents a bunch of garments all based on garter slip stitch. I made the ladies' crop pullover years ago when the book was new and fell in love with the drapey no-purl stitch pattern. Now that I'm into making my own designs, I'm re-visiting it with some twists and turns of my own. Below you see the swatch I knitted and ripped and knitted again and ripped, over and over all day. Here it is in some leftover Lark,

and here's a closeup of the same stitch in Rowan's Felted Tweed Aran.

I played with buttonholes, short row shaping, waist shaping, and armhole decreasing, all within the confines of pure garter stitch. You've got to love a stitch pattern with no purl stitches to slow you down!
My second source of inspiration for this garment is Brooklyn Tweed's simple men's scarf, Dunaway. Looks similar to Sally's slip stitch, except it's reversible, with purl stitches making that possible. A wonderful man's scarf, if ever there was one.
My third and final source of inspiration for my new garment is Purl Soho's cardigan with garter stitch yoke. Check out that high collar with buttons. Yum.
What do all three of these design sources have in common? Garter stitch and simple, clean lines. I'm going to keep the nature of my new garment a mystery for now, but you can be guaranteed that it will have a clean, flattering, shaped fit, lots of garter stitch, and a sophisticated, yet rustic feel. See you in a bit...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Mother's' Day

You'd think that on Mother's Day a mother could count on a little cooperation, even a smile or two, but no, it seems that modelling a sweater might be too heavy a burden for my new computer science grad. Never were so many sad, bored, and/or sullen faces made in the course of trying to get a few decent photos of a new sweater. The background was perfect...

The sweater was perfect...

The picots were perfect...

Heck, even the buttons were perfect...

But sadly, the model was not in the mood.

This was the happiest moment of the shoot, 

at least until I called it quits.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Turning the Page...

I'm about to lose my model. Isabel has finished her degree in computing at Queen's and in a couple of weeks she'll be leaving for a summer internship (her second year at the same company) in Silicon Valley, followed by grad school. Although she'll return home for brief stints, she'll likely never again live with us. I took her and James out for a last lunch at Chez Piggy, where we learned that in a quirk of timing, Isabel's favourite sandwich (grilled aged cheddar on olive bread, with carrot salad on the side) is leaving the menu on almost the same day as she is leaving town. So, here are Isabel and James on a sunny spring day in the courtyard in the old mews.

Now I have to rush to finish the lightweight cardigan I'm working on before Isabel hops on board her train to Toronto, then her flight from there to San Francisco. Today was the day of the big cut. Below you can see the yarn ends on the interior of the steek taped in place with masking tape. No point in weaving them in when they're about to be sewn in place. The tape does a nice job of keeping everything tidy during the sewing, which is done from the right side.

Next you can see the sewing lines from the inside. It's best to cut from the wrong side since the lines of contrasting thread show up so much better there. No need to worry about the contrasting colour showing. It'll get lost in the facing. After the cutting, I trimmed the yarn ends short.

And voila.

OK, I chickened out of all that pink. These soft blues and greens (three shades of the latter) are much more to my liking. I'm really pleased with the result. Now on to that picot border...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Unabashedly Feminine

Last week I started a new cardigan (the one that will eventually have picot borders). I'm using Quince's Chickadee to produce a soft, lightweight garment suitable for spring. The colours I've chosen echo that spring feeling.

The body and sleeves are mostly done, except for the deep fair isle borders. I wanted to add a touch of texture and I'm so pleased with the way the fabric looks after blocking. (I put everything onto waste yarn and wet blocked the work-in-progress a few days ago.)

The little purl bumps give the feeling of small beads, or even seed pearls.)

Below you can see the unblocked fabric. Blocking is so transformative!

For a minute, I was concerned that the whole effect would be way too sweet,

but then I threw caution to the wind. This is going to be a totally delicate, unabashedly feminine little piece.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

In the Knit Lab: Playing with Picot

I confess a fondness for picot. It combines something quintessentially feminine with a sort of tailored restraint. But while picot hems, like this one,

are relatively simple to knit, picot bind offs are less easy to do well. If one follows the usual instructions, they are too stretchy, or have little holes, or too much slant. So, earlier this week I devoted a morning to playing with a couple of picot bind offs to explore remedies to these problems.
First, I wanted to see if I could find a way to work a picot bind off in combination with a 3-needle bind off. Done the usual way (transfer st from RH needle to LH needle, CO 2, BO 3, etc) it left too much stretch, a series of bumps with a strong rightward slant, and ugly holes on the back side of the would-be shoulder. Would going down a few needle sizes solve this, I wondered? No, it would not. I wanted to continue to use the same needle size as I used for the body of the work. After a half hour of messing about, I came up with a solution. I'm saving the details until later, but here is the result:

Everything is tidy with a nice even gauge and no holes or slant. I experimented with making the picots closer together to see if I liked that better.

Not sure.
Next, I played with picots on a garter stitch edge. Again, the goal was to be able to use the same needle as for the border, but without any stretching or slanting. I made a little pretend buttonhole border, then added the picots during the bind off (or, as I was taught to call it, the "cast off").

Stay tuned; details, and a new garment to follow soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Finally, we feel that spring has really arrived. Temperatures in the Celcius teens and full-on sunshine. Bill and I drove to Picton, and only the channel between Amherst Island and the mainland was clogged with ice floes. Brilliant blue water everywhere else.
After our time in Picton, we decided on the spur of the moment to drive to Bloomfield and then on to Sandbanks. The provincial park was officially closed, but we had inside information on how to access the dunes and waterfront from a back road. It seems we weren't the only ones doing this--we were lucky to find any place remaining to park by the side of the road, and even luckier not have become stuck in the axle-deep mud. The downside of this impromptu exercise was that we were caught rubber bootless. My leather boots may never be the same!
It was worth the trouble, though. Sandbanks is reputed to be the largest freshwater barrier dune formation in the world. Indeed, it's difficult in my photos to give an impression of the height and extent of these dunes. Here are some views of the day:

The muddy path from the road to the dunes.
Remnants of the winter snow.
The early spring forest with a haze of red dogwood in the undergrowth.
Our first glimpse of the dunes.
The view from from halfway up. You have no idea from this of the height we had to climb.
This is the tree peeking over the top of the dune in the pic above. It's actually a long way down to the shore.
View from the peak. Worth the climb.