Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Pattern Available

My Cataraqui Socks pattern is now available as a Ravelry download.

The pattern is a simple one and, while I wouldn't recommend it as a first sock (except for those knitting prodigies out there), it is suitable as a first patterned sock.
I seem to have picked up a flu-like virus. I thought at first that it was just a cold, but then I started having chills and fever after lunch. I've taken some Tylenol and now I'm feeling quite a bit better. Probably I caught this last week while marooned on the train back from Toronto. There was an accident on the tracks ahead of us and we ended up waiting 3 hours while the police completed their investigation. We didn't arrive back until close to midnight. Very exhausting and stressful. And the passenger behind me coughed continuously. Still, the ballet was worth it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cataraqui Socks

I finished the first of my new socks yesterday. I'll write up the pattern and make it available in the next few days. It's very easy and REVERSIBLE! The wavy rib pattern reminded me of the current in our nearby Cataraqui River, as it joins with Lake Ontario.

If you're careful how you weave in the ends, you can turn them inside out and enjoy the basketweave pattern on the reverse side.

I've had a week now to digest my time with Lucy Neatby. What a brilliant lady! I wonder what her IQ is. She says she spends a lot of time imagining herself as a strand of yarn. I love her fascination with technique--her modified conventional bind off, which combines the 2-step procedure into one, is a perfect example of her clever mind.
That said, I probably wouldn't wear many of her designs which, in my mind, fall into the category of  amazing knitted artifacts. They wouldn't pass my "Georgetown Test", that is, I wouldn't feel that I fit in wearing them down a street in Georgetown, in northwest Washington, DC. Her Bubbles Scarf, with its stuffed bubbles, is like this. It's beautiful and astonishingly clever, but I wouldn't feel sufficiently "normal" wearing it. I'm afraid that I'm boring, something Lucy never is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On the Spur of the Moment

What a difference a day makes! This is what we woke up to this morning.

Perhaps it's the thought of the dark days of winter ahead--I got on the phone and purchased two (extremely expensive) tickets to the National Ballet's new production of Romeo and Juliet. The trailer and some other riveting videos are here. Prokofiev's music for this ballet is on my top ten favourite list. It's dark and brooding and completely unlike Tchaikovsky's more saccharine version. I'm going to take the train, meet up with James for lunch, go to the matinee, then hop on the evening train back to Kingston.
This morning, while the snow was still falling, I finished off the waffle socks. Then I stuck them on my feet and cast on a pair of socks of my own design as a Xmas gift for Isabel. The colour is a gorgeous deep emerald green. Isabel saw the wool and asked what I was making; I could tell she was attracted by the colour. I gave an evasive answer and, since she doesn't read this blog (usually), I think I'm OK. The pattern is a wavy rib pattern from Barbara Walker with an Elizabeth Zimmerman heel flap and heel. I'm going to call it "Cataraqui" after the river that flows through Kingston into Lake Ontario. I plan to work on it on the train. The more pressing question is, can I/should I knit during the ballet performance?
P.S. The Lucy Neatby workshop blog post will just have to wait.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Scissors Continuum

I know today's title sounds like an episode of Big Bang Theory, but it's my way of explaining how I deal with our household scissors needs. Those needs include:
1. sewing, including the occasional cutting of quilt pieces,
2. stationary activities, i.e. paper and ribbon cutting (not just activities undertaken standing up!),
3. kitchen cutting, including the odd slice of bacon,
4. gardening, not limited to sutting flower deadheads, but also including stems and twigs (and OK, I admit it, small branches).
Over the years, I've developed a sort of system whereby scissors enter our household as sewing scissors and gradually progress through the continuum until one day after exposure to all kinds of weather I attempt to cut something ridiculously tough and they fall apart. At that point another pair of scissors enters the house and all the other pairs progress (degenerate?) up the line. Note that there isn't a set for knitting; I use a tiny pair that fits into my knitting kit and wouldn't work for anything else. Admittedly, I could buy proper pruning shears for gardening and meticulously maintain an expensive pair of sewing shears that would last a lifetime, but for better or for worse, the scissors continuum is how I handle the problem (pardon the pun).
I also have a gloves continuum, but that's another story.
Yesterday I decorated our house exterior with greens. Good thing too, since now at night we are in the deep freeze and I'd have difficulty getting anything to penetrate the soil. While pruning some branches, my gardening scissors, in use as such for the last 4 years, gave up the ghost. At least with winter on the horizon I won't have to do anything about the situation until next spring. The result of my efforts is here,

and here, 

                                                     and here.

The ceramic pots and ornaments are put to bed.

Everything is in readiness for the first flakes of white stuff. Come on winter, bring it on!
 P.S. I'll write about my mind-blowing weekend with Lucy next post.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bits and Pieces (and Swamp Sludge)

I'm working on something for publication that I can't show on the blog, so in the meantime here's what's going on:

1. Waffle pattern socks are in the works. One finished, the second begun.

I don't expend mental energy on socks. I know a lot of knitters LOVE exploring all sorts of esoteric and convoluted techniques in sock design, but I'm not one of them. Others can do it better and have fun with it; not me. I use sock knitting as a soothing activity for when I don't want to think/ need to pass the time/ need something small to carry around in my bag. My favourite sock recipes come from this.

2. I'm about to spend a weekend with Lucy Neatby, learning a whole bunch of techniques (I hope) at workshops organized by Janie H. Knits in Perth, ON. My fear is that so much will be covered that either my brain will explode or it will all go in one ear and out the other. I've been preparing my homework swatches diligently this morning.

3. I'm leaving a batch of our favourite split pea soup for the family. Here's the recipe. Perfect for fighting the November chill.
   2 c. split peas, rinsed
   6 c. water, just off the boil
   1 c. diced carrots
   1 c. sliced celery
   1 medium onion, chopped
   2 cloves garlic, minced
   1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
   1/2 tsp. dried basil
   1/4 tsp. cumin
   3/4 tsp. salt
   1/4 tsp. pepper
Place all ingredients except for salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on "high" for about 6 hours. Add salt and pepper near the end. Some cooks say that adding salt to legumes before they are tender inhibits their breaking down. I don't know if this is true, but why take a chance?
If you keep the leftovers, the soup will thicken as it cools into something resembling swamp sludge (or the famous "pease porridge cold"). Resist the temptation to thin it out until it's been fully reheated. It's impossible to judge how much extra water will be needed until then.

4. Real life intrudes: our neighbourhood is inundated with national media trucks as the Shafia honour killing trial continues around the corner at the Frontenac County courthouse.

5. Ending on a positive note, the last geranium of summer is (unbelievably) still blooming on our third floor deck.

Have a happy weekend, stay warm, and get going on those holiday gifts.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Like Weatherstripping

There's no denying the bite in the air now. Walking down my street toward the lakefront, with the wind blowing off the water, is becoming more unpleasant by the day. The chill seeps under coat collars and up cuffs. What to do? Fill those gaps with wool. It's rather like installing weather stripping on your front door! By doing so, I avoid having to drag out my winter coat by a few more weeks. It's astonishing how much warmer one feels with this wool "caulking". I suppose it's because necks and wrists are "pulse points". Whatever the reason, it's a great time to make a few more of these small pieces for yourself or as holiday gifts. Here are some ideas:

1. "Fetching",

2. and its companion piece, "Dashing",


4. and that classic, the "Baktus", in its many incarnations.

Note that I'm not talking about the currently fashionable big cowl-style scarves that drape so elegantly, but loosely. I'm talking about neckwear that cuddles right up to your ear lobes and covers your lower chin, the better to block cold air seepage.
I'm sure you have your own favourites. Let me know what they are; I'd love to try something new. And next week, I'll turn my attention to hats.