Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Upcoming KAL

Just a reminder that Janie H Knits in Perth, ON will be featuring my Perth Cardi pattern as a KAL starting in July. Janie sells Helen Hamann's Ultrafine Alpaca. My photos really do not do justice to the gorgeousness of this yarn, which, when knitted at a loose gauge, produces a light, airy, indescribably soft fabric.

This is a very useful garment since its lightness and drapiness allow it to be worn as a light layer during transitional seasons. Join us for a fun time!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Played with some Helen Hamann fingering weight alpaca and Habu silk and stainless steel this morning after breakfast.

So many ideas, my brain is bursting. Fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inspiration: Habu Textiles, Carolyn Barnett

What a weekend. Early Saturday, Janie H. drove down to Kingston and together we dropped in on Carolyn Barnett, who specializes in stunning machine knits with beautifully crafted details, including imaginative handmade buttons. Janie has commissioned a couple of sweaters from Carolyn. Here's Carolyn's studio in nearby Portsmouth.

And here she and Janie are deciding on some design details.

Then, Janie and I hopped in her car and headed off to Picton to see Habu Textiles trunk show and enjoy local wine and cheese at the Rose Haven Farm Store.

The photo quality isn't great, due to the fact that we were all sitting under the rather low rafters in the store's basement. Keiko explained details of the garments being modelled while we ooohed and aaawed. There was lots of audience participation when the four-armed pullover was shown, as various knitters explored tying the arms in different way to create interesting draped effects.
This morning I drove back to Picton on my own to attend a talk about how Habu Textiles' yarns are sourced. Most come from a single mill in Kyoto. Keiko thinks it quite likely that the skills used to make these fine yarns will disappear after the current generation of workers is gone. Young Japanese do not seem interested in pursuing these ancient arts. 
Habu's paper yarn fascinates me. I hadn't realized that there was no wool in traditional Japanese garments. Most clothing for non-nobility was made from bast yarns (plant fibres), including paper.
I was most drawn to the possibilities of the stainless steel and copper yarns. I love the way the stainless steel and silk yarn can be used for ruffled, airy edgings. I'm already thinking about using some in combination with Helen Hamann's fingering weight alpaca. Off now to do a little swatching.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Natalie Servant

Yesterday I had a visit from Natalie Servant, a designer of amazing lace shawls. We'd communicated online, but had never met before. Both of us have designs featured as KALs at Janie H. Knits this summer. Natalie's website is here. She has an engineering and high tech background and it shows, both in her designs and in her website (I'm so envious!) Many of her designs are inspired by architecture and art deco.
We walked to a restaurant a few blocks away, where Natalie spun while our meal was prepared.

Before yesterday, I had little interest in spinning (I won't get into my husband's derogatory remarks about "medieval arts"). Now, I'm completely entranced and off to buy a copy of "Respect the Spindle" by Abby Franquemont. Natalie told me that there is now a video version available in addition to the book.


 Later, Natalie knitted on a shawl while we chatted.
Again, I was wowed. I'm challenged by knitting anything more complicated than a Baktus scarf while talking.

We checked out my stash when we got back to the house. Natalie admits that currently, she has a thing for gold-coloured yarn. She'd already checked out my Ravelry page and knew I favour neutrals when she presented me with this.

540 yards of gorgeous handspun. Quite daunting to come up with the perfect project for it, but have no doubt, I will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not Knitting a Bra

Contrary to appearances, I am NOT knitting a bra. Yesterday, when I tried this on, that is what Isabel said it looked like.

In fact, I am designing and knitting a top-down, cotton/bamboo cap-sleeved, scoop-necked summer tee. The delicate brocade pattern down the front and back is adapted from Sabine Domnick's "Cables, Diamonds, Herringbone; Secrets of Knitting Traditional Fisherman's Sweaters"
Tempting as it is to insert knitted lace into this type of garment, it is not really practical. The inevitable question arises over what to wear underneath. A mere bra is not enough and a camisole, especially if the weather is at all warm, is too much. So a non-see-through design works much better, I think.
Updates to follow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Diamanda Mitts Pattern Now Available

Diamanda Mitts now available as a Ravelry download.

Holly colourway
Pink Lemonade colourway
 This is an easy pattern in worsted weight wool, suitable as a first venture into small diameter fairisle knitting. Also a great summer project, when you want something small to work on that won't smother you on a warm day. Think ahead to Christmas...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

On Swatching

I have to confess that I'm terrible about doing swatches. Usually, I start out with some yarn I love, guesstimate needle size, and just start knitting. If there are any adjustments to be made for fit, I just make them as I go (especially easy if the design is top down). But right now, I want to knit a tweedy version of Chocolat for fall and I'm trying to decide between two gorgeous wools.

Natually's Aran Tweed

Rowan's Felted Tweed Aran

Janie H. sent me home with a big bag filled with enough of each to make a jacket. Now I'm swatching and deciding. I've knitted both swatches on a 4.5 mm needle, which creates a slightly dense fabric. Both swatches have been wet blocked and are drying in the warm afternoon sun (indoors, since I don't trust our squirrels). Neither swatch works out to the 5 sts per inch of my original version of Chocolat, but I love them enough that I'll deal with that. I might even decide to write up the pattern for an aran weight yarn; that decision awaits.
Hope your day is as perfect as ours.

Pale pink peonies from a garden on Earl St.; heavenly scent.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Well, here it is, even though I won't be able to wear it until next fall.

"Chocolat" is an unstructured blazer-style jacket in double moss stitch with carefully constructed details. Knitted in one piece, the body is knitted bottom up, while the sleeves are knitted top down with deep cuffs for a perfect fit. All the shaping is done in the underarm and side "seam stitches". I think the shape of the jacket, with its V-neck and back flaps is forgiving to a variety of figures. If desired, the lapels can be worn closed with an attractive pin.

I'm in the midst of getting the "Diamanda" mitts pattern onto Ravelry. "Chocolat" will be next in line.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Embarrassing Myself

Back from two days in Ottawa, where Bill attended the Canadian Economics Association meetings. Imagine hundreds of economists--people who describe money as "an invention to solve the problem of the requirement of a double coincidence of want"--eating, drinking, and eagerly listening to other economists speak their peculiarly convoluted language. I spent my time visiting yarn stores, friends and "Doors Open Ottawa". Here's a view of the Norwegian Ambassador's Residence, not far from where I grew up in Ottawa. I must have passed it thousands of times, but yesterday was the first time I ever stepped inside.

Stopped for a snack in Rockcliffe Park, where I had a terrific view of the Prime Minister's residence on the cliffs overlooking the Ottawa River.

At Wool Tyme, I picked up some balls of Sirdar's "Simply Recycled", a mix of recycled cotton and and acrylic, as well as a few skeins of this lustrous pure silk.

The highlight of the trip? Visiting with Carleton University prof Don Beecher, from whom I borrowed this beautiful treble viol, the very instrument I played many years ago in the "Elizabethan Consort". Very embarrassing to discover that I will need to re-learn to play. However, I've just spent an hour playing scales and am confident that in a couple of weeks I'll be back in form.

Don gave me a copy of his beautiful and impressive recording of Boismortier's bass viol suites (performed by him!). Said he was having too much fun to retire. Looking forward to a day of viol playing, knitting, and getting the house back into order. I've neglected the housekeeping this week.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Full Blown

Very windy for the last 24 hours. The heat and humidity have blown away and all is fresh and cool. The poppies in front of La Salle Cottage on Earl St. are full blown and stunningly beautiful.

The bridal wreath spirea is in full blown bloom.

 And we almost had a full blown domestic crisis when our clothes washer went on the blink yesterday. I was outside watering the new garden when Bill put in a load. He came outside to tell me something and, while the door was open, I heard a sound that I thought was construction noise from a neighbour's place. It was not the sound a washing machine makes when it is unbalanced. It was more like the continuous screech of a power saw. I went inside a few minutes later and realized with horror that the sound was coming from our basement. More horror when I called our usual appliance repair company and they told me no one could come until NEXT WEEK. We need clean clothes to take to Ottawa. I got onto the internet, found another repair company and they sent someone today who, thankfully, was able to repair our old clunker. Yay! I did have a backup plan to take everything to a local laundromat--what an excuse to sit and knit, but now no need.
I've started on the laundry here at home and I'm looking forward to a little knitting interlude with a pot of tea in the back garden. Very calming (at least until the caffeine kicks in).

As you can see, not a whole lot of progress, but I'm hopeful that things will move quickly now that the laundry crisis has been averted.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Little Break

I've had a 2-day break from any significant knitting. OK, I knitted a few rows here and there, but mostly I've been involved with the garden installation. Trish and Jen had almost perfect weather (a little too hot and humid maybe) and they worked with amazing energy.

On day two, when Jen wasn't available, James and Isabel pitched in. I didn't offer to pay them and although they're disgustingly unused to manual labour (my fault?), they accomplished a lot without much grumbling, and the result is lovely. And it will be even more lovely once everything grows and fills in.

Thanks everyone. Now I can get back to knitting, at least until this evening. Still waiting to hear if our recorder group is on. Then, off to Ottawa on Friday. Bill is going to the Canadian Economics Association meetings. Very dull. Must find something interesting to do while he's busy. Any suggestions?