Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I'm still working away at reversible fabric swatches, but not yet ready to show them off, so instead I thought I'd list five things I can't do without at this time of year.
1. Wool socks. I have a heavy pair I wear over lighter socks, as a sort of slipper substitute. The pattern is Cynthia's Smorgasbord Socks from the first book put out by the Green Mountain Spinnery. My pair is made in navy blue Peace Fleece. They're cushy on their own and cosy inside boots. I have a bunch of lighter socks I wear with clogs inside the house. Cotton socks just don't cut it in January in Canada, even in a mild winter.
2. Rubber boots. Goes with 1. Nothing beats rubber boots and wool socks for keeping your feet warm and dry. My boots aren't especially tall, but they have good treads, so I can wear them even when it's a bit icy, and I can slip them on and off quickly for taking out the garbage or shovelling the front walk.
3. My iPod. I don't have a laptop or a tablet (although I'd love both), and I have an old clunker of a mobile phone. However, last year I splurged on a iPod so I could listen to audiobooks while knitting. Now I use it for all sorts of things from reading the Globe and Mail to finding out which bus to take. Love it and can't imagine how I lived without one before.
4. Tea. Notice how this is the third item on the list that has to do with staying warm?  I love strong, hot tea with just a little milk, no sugar. Have to have a mug first thing in the morning and again in the middle of the afternoon. I might even sneak in a small cup after dinner if I have to stay up late. Mostly I drink Red Rose Orange Pekoe, 'cause it's cheap and reasonably good, although other family members disagree. James gave me a bag of loose "Buckingham Palace Garden Party" tea for Xmas; it's fragrant with jasmine and a hint of bergamot and I love it too.
5. My lacy baktus scarf. There's something about the shape of a baktus that's perfect. You can wind it around your neck and tie it so that it cuddles your jaw right up to your ears. You can drape it loosely to wear indoors. Mine is made from Shibui merino and I could really use a second. Maybe I'll have to dream up some way of putting my personal stamp on it. Now, there's an idea for a useful and interesting new project.

Monday, January 30, 2012


We're having a record warm winter.  The lake is open, no ice except in the harbours where the water is still.  We get a little snow--then it melts. There are days when the streets are ankle-deep in slush. Our rubber boots are getting more wear than our winter boots.

Lily Lane looks as though it's March, not the end of January. Everything is grey and dirty and looks as though it came straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.

We've had enough cold, however, for the rink two blocks away in the city park to be frozen. I met Catherine there while I was out walking.

She was practising shots on goal.

The park is just below the courthouse, which today is almost, but not quite, vacant of media trucks now that the verdict is in in the Shafia trial.

That's a Global TV van off to one side. For those readers not in Canada, you can read here about this important case with international implications. You don't have to be an ex-lawyer like me to find the it fascinating.
On the knitting front, I'm checking out Lynne Barr's "Reversible Knitting" for ideas for my next project. On the one hand, I want the project to be interesting, but on the other, I want it to be accessible to other less experienced knitters. A tough line to walk sometimes. I'm working on some swatches. Show and tell next time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shape and Drape

Most of us don't have beautiful figures, and as we age, whatever we started out with tends to grow a teeny bit thick in the middle in spite of best efforts. I'm short (5' 1") and a little chunkier than I'd like, so I reckon that if a design looks good on me, it'll probably look good on other figures. Drape has a lot to do with how we look and feel in our clothes. Most of us benefit from wearing fabrics that are drapey rather than stiff and, indeed, I think this is what makes a lot of the Downton Abbey clothes so very attractive. There's been a lot of buzz in the newspapers about the effect of Susannah Buxton's designs on the fashion industry this year. I haven't seen this sort of crossover since Out of Africa, which, incidentally featured clothing from the same era. Notice how these costumes seem to flow, especially those from the garden party episode:



Drape happens both from fibre and cut. My Perth Cardi is an attempt to take advantage of the natural drape of alpaca and the flowing lines of the classic ballet crossover cardigan. In the spring, I have a new design coming out in an online publication which aims a little higher, utilizing alpaca, silk, and cashmere. And today I've been exploring how shape can affect drape even in a weightier fabric. One of my favourite designs is Cheryl Oberle's "Cusco".