Friday, April 28, 2017

That Spring Feeling




Add soundtrack of redwing blackbirds and robins. Delete thoughts of clouds of mayflies (which actually weren't bothersome when I took these photos early in the morning). Off to the Frolic in Toronto tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dress #1

After viewing the dresses on Sonya Philip's Instagram site, I just had to get sewing. Here's Dress #1 made from a crinkled linen mail-ordered from Purl Soho--the duties turned out to be reasonable for once. I used a batik fabric my local quilt shop for the bias binding around the neck and armholes and also for the pockets.

I had a lot of fun with this. Guess there's more sewing in my future.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Arriving Soon

I have completed another sweater in my EveryBody Knits Project.


You can see that it is a variation of the mohair Helium from a previous post. Like the earlier version, this one is knitted at a loose gauge. The yarn, Lett Lopi, is very lofty and blooms after blocking. And undaunted, I'm doing a third take in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, another wool that works up beautifully when knitted a little loosely.
This is a cardigan that could work really well as a first sweater project. The borders are knitted in, the design is top-down to allow for fitting, and once the ends are woven in the only finishing left is blocking and sewing on the buttons. The shape is extremely forgiving. For those with more in front than I have, the deep V-neck expands to accommodate, and for those of a larger build, the cardigan is attractive when worn open (the button closure is optional).
I'm planning to attend the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto on Saturday, but hope nonetheless to get this pattern up onto Ravelry before the end of the month.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trip to Topsy

Took the ferry to Amherst Island and Topsy Farm with Joan of Purlin' J and my friend Deb. Joan went to pick up her load of Topsy wool to sell on her truck, and I tagged along in search of wool for an aran design. It was shearing time.

Sheared sheep in the field next to the cemetary. The sheep are mostly North Cheviot and Suffolk.


Pregnant ewes waiting their turn to be sheared.

Shearing in progress. Takes 2 1/2 minutes per sheep for a pro.

It takes three shearers working all weekend to shear the flock.

Skirting a fleece.

Joan enjoys a lanolin treatment for her hands.

Hoisting a bag of fleeces. The bags will end up at the Wool Growers' Co-op in Carleton Place.

View from the barn.


This is the new Wool Shed, where 2-ply and 3-ply wool skeins are for sale. There's aran knitting in my future. In addition to wool for knitting, Topsy sells gorgeous (so gorgeous they're for sale at Holt-Renfrew) blankets, and frozen lamb to take home for the barbeque. What a great half-day trip! Oh, and thanks for the huge jar of honey, Sally.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tutorial: Splicing, or How to Insert Your DNA into Your Knitting

The Helium series of three cardigans I'm currently working on involves knitting with lofty, airy yarns at looser gauges. Quite apart from the fact that weaving in ends is a pain, for the two cardigans in Lett Lopi and Shelter, splicing the yarn joins makes for a more beautiful, uninterrupted finished knitted fabric (splicing is simply not an option with the slipperier Silk/Mohair). Both Shelter and Lett Lopi are perfect for splicing since they are spun from wools that easily felt, with "sticky" fibres that cling to each other. At first I wasn't quite sure how to splice the Lett Lopi--it appeared to be a single ply. Then I learned that it is actually lightly spun from two strands of Plotulopi (the unspun icelandic wool, made famous by Meg Swansen). Even though it looks as though it is a single ply, in reality there are two strands which can be separated and therefore spliced. Here's how to do it for either Lett Lopi or Shelter:

1. Break, don't cut, both ends that you wish to splice. Breaking will leave nice tapered ends which will meld into the splice.


2. Separate the two strands that make up each end, then break off one strand of each so that the ends are staggered.


3. Intertwine the ends of the strands, like this below.


4. You probably don't want to do this next bit in public. Spit or lick the palms of your hands, then vigorously roll and rub the overlapped strands into one. It will start out like this,


but very quickly will felt into a strand very like the rest of the yarn.


5. Proceed to knit with your newly joined wool. I don't recommend splicing in areas where extra strength is needed, like underarms or bind offs. Otherwise, just carry on and enjoy the fact that you have magically joined two ends of wool together.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter, 2017

Everyone is home for Easter. My new lightweight cardi is done, and named Helium, because it is SO light it feels that if I were to tie a string to it, it would fly up into the sky.


I'm working on the Lett Lopi version of it now. It's a bit more substantial, but still airy and definitely pretty in a shade of raspberry sorbet. Here it is sitting beside some more of the Hewephoria merino sock that is going to be turned into scarves eventually.


The weather has finally turned warm enough to wear our Audrey coats on their own. We discovered that Isabel's looks nice with an old tam, about 10 years old, I think, from Knitty.


Loblaws had its first pansies of the season and I couldn't resist.


Spent the morning making Victoria sponge cake, to have for tea this afternoon. Recipe below. Here is the cake, filled with raspberry jam, awaiting its light dusting of icing sugar.


Victoria Sponge Cake (eggless)



3 c unbleached flour, sifted

2 c plain yogurt (I used fat-free)

1 ½ c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 c canola oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

seedless good quality raspberry jam, such as Wilton’s

small amount of icing sugar



Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare round layer cake pans with cooking spray or (my preference) by buttering pans, dusting with flour, and covering bottom of pans with parchment paper.

Mix the yogurt, sugar, soda, and baking powder and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the oil and vanilla to the yogurt, then add the flour. Gently combine

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 35 min or until golden on top and a wooden knitting needle poked in the centre comes out clean (new use for dpns).

Leave in pans for 15 minutes before turning out.

Heat the jam (I use the microwave) to melt it until runny. Place the bottom cake layer upside down on the serving plate, then spread it with jam, then carefully position the second layer right side up on top. When completely cool, dust with icing sugar.
  
And in a burst of culinary energy I also made curried cauliflower soup for lunch.

Curried Cauliflower Soup



1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 potato, peeled and diced

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp curry powder

5 c water

½ c milk (can be skim)



Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until it is soft. Add the garlic, potato, cauliflower, and salt and continue to sauté until there is slight glaze on the bottom of the pot. Add the curry powder and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Stir in the milk and re-heat, but do not boil.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Wanted: More Colour in My Life

It must be the effect of viewing all those Instagram pages of Sonya Philips (see two posts ago). I'm craving colour on this Good Friday holiday. (BTW, don't you love holidays when everything is closed and you can't shop or do anything else but knit and write up patterns?) To remedy the colourlessness in my life I made carrot soup, and worked on some odds and ends.



Soup recipe here. Yum. It's like a bowl of sunshine!
Pink wool is Lett Lopi in (of course) Pink Heather, #1412. Didn't realize how much I adore this wool, especially when knitted at a slightly loose gauge.
Luscious purple is local, from Hewephoria, fingering weight.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Clean

There's nothing like a stack of freshly washed socks.



Unfortunately, it's still wool socks weather here. At least mine are ready for wear.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Parameters of My "Everybody Project"

Here's my challenge: to design, knit, and publish a series of sweaters over twelve months that are reasonably simple to knit, work on a range of body shapes, and are wardrobe-building. I've created some guidelines.
1. This is about sweater knitting, not accessory knitting, although it's likely that a few staple accessories might work their way into the collection. Browse through Ravelry and it's apparent that knitters love to knit accessories far more than sweaters. Why? There are a lot of reasons, from cost and skill, to climate (if you live in Florida you have less incentive). But I think a lot of it has to do with body image. Simply put, many (most?) women have a level of discomfort about fitting themselves. It forces us to confront our actual shape and size, instead of our aspirational selves. To this I say, "get over it". Knit for your actual self and discover that you can look fabulous in the product of your own hands. Look no further than Sonya Philip's Instagram pages. Sonya is not a small woman, but she looks amazing and so happy in her "100 Acts of Sewing". I am a small woman, but that doesn't mean there aren't challenges with fit and style. Remember, most women have to deal with these issues in one form or another. So, what can I design to make the most out of us all? Continue reading...

2. Most (not all) of the designs in this collection will be from the cardigan family. That includes coats, jackets, etc. Front-opening garments are forgiving on the body. They can be worn fully open, partially open, or closed, depending on your shape and what other garments you happen to be wearing. And let's not forget that they can be tossed on or off quickly in case of one of those unexpected "power surges" some of us of a certain age are prone to experiencing.

3. Most (not all) garments will have an A-line silhouette. Most of us have hips, and even those who don't are generally flattered by the graceful drape of A-line shapes. Those garments that aren't A-line will be oversized and drapey--again, another shape that looks well on pretty much everyone.

4. The collection will be top down in construction. That is the best way to allow knitters, especially inexperienced ones, to fit the body. At any point, you can slide all the stitches onto some waste yarn and try on the garment. Sometimes I even wet block (and dry, of course!) a garment-in-progress before trying it on to be absolutely certain that the length is right. And if it isn't, it's pretty easy to alter because of the top-down direction.

5. Accessibility is a concern. I want knitters who haven't tried sweater knitting before to feel encouraged to have a go at it. So, the pieces will have simple finishes, and where there is stranded knitting or cable work, it will be limited to only a portion of the garment. There will be links to tutorials. (I am continually surprised that the tutorials on my blog are the most frequently viewed pages.)

6. Finally, these pieces must really work hard as part of a wardrobe strategy. Many of us have knitted beautiful sweaters only to have them languish on a shelf, unworn and ultimately little more than knitted artifacts. I want this collection to be chock full of things we actually want to wear!

Audrey is the first piece in my EveryBody Project. I think I made it with the idea of the Project only lurking in the back of my head. But then it was finished and I realized how I wanted to continue. There you have it. Now, to work! Or is that play? A bit of both, I think.