Thursday, May 29, 2014

Save the Date

Here's some exciting news. I'm involved in organizing a knitting retreat at a beautiful inn in Prince Edward County, south of Picton, ON. Yesterday, Lesley Snyder, of Rosehaven Yarns and I met at Jackson's Falls Country Inn to check out the facilities and think about how the retreat will work  there. The day was cool and felt more like fall than spring, and I could easily imagine our group in the old schoolhouse with the wood stove keeping us toasty. There's a great video on the inn's website for views of the location and I hope you'll visit the site to check it out. Since the County is renowned for its vineyards, cheese, and agro-tourism, Black River cheeses and local wines will be featured on the menu. I'll let everyone know as soon as the teachers and schedule are available, but I can tell you that all of this will happen on the weekend of November 7-9, 2014. Stay tuned.
What else has been going on here? I've been a slacker in the blogging department during the process of getting Isabel off on her summer intern adventure, but I have been doing a bit of spinning. Lesley, at her Rosehaven shop, offers some nice little batts of her own production.

This is corriedale in a mix of navy, olive green, turquoise, and a tiny bit of cream. 

I'm aiming for an aran weight, so the singles aren't skinny, even though corriedale tends (in my limited experience) to bloom out a lot after it's washed. This sort of multi-coloured batt is so much fun to spin that it's easy to forget that then end-product will have limited uses in knitting. There's only so much you can do with a yarn that has this much going on. Ideas?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Victoria Day 2014--Wool Scarf Weather?

Tomorrow is Victoria Day--and here we are still wearing our woollies, alas. Much as I love my knits, I'm tired of them. I want to make some new ones for next season, while I wear white linen and drink iced tea. Instead, it's 9C as I write, with a brisk wind and whitecaps on the lake.

Wolfe Island Ferry

Although it looks like spring in my neighbourhood,

Gates down the street from our house.

Love this car!

Our place.

Magnolias just beginning to bloom.
everything is weeks behind normal. We had a cold spring last year too, so let's hope this isn't the new normal. The local rhubarb is in at the grocery stores, and we had stewed rhubarb for dessert this evening, but it's going to be weeks before the strawberries are ripe.
Since I wore my Fibonacci this morning, I've had knitted scarves on my mind. I'm thinking of something crescent-shaped and perhaps with eyelets like this, but more frothy, perhaps fingering or lace weight knitted very loosely and blocked ferociously. Time to stash dive! Do you have a favourite scarf yarn?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Row Gauge: When to Pay Attention

Admit it; if and when you actually knit a swatch and block it, you mostly pay attention only to stitch gauge, not to the number of ROWS per inch. Now, a lot of the time that's OK, because in many cases once you get the width of a garment right, you can adjust the length of the thing as you knit. But it's easy to get complacent, and sometimes not getting an accurate row gauge can lead to all kinds of trouble. Here are some of the situations in which it's important to pay attention.
1. Sideways knits--sometimes. It's true that if you're knitting side-to-side (or centre-out or vice versa) row gauge isn't crucial so long as the pattern is based on knitting for a set number of inches. But, if the pattern is based on a set number of pattern repeats, it's another story. Your row gauge had better be accurate, or the finished size could be off--way off.
2. Garments based on mitred squares. When you're knitting mitred squares in garter stitch, the number of RIDGES (remember, two rows make one garter ridge) must equal the same number of stitches in order for a nice 90 degree angle to develop. For instance, in "Harriet's Jacket", you need to choose a yarn and needles that will work out to 4 ridges and 4 stitches per inch. The shape and fit are dependent on that relationship.

Be aware that some yarns, because of the way they are spun, will never work in this way. If you've tried several different needle sizes and nothing, after blocking, measures up to that perfect square, it's time to try a different yarn.
3. Some sweaters with circularly shaped armholes/shoulders. Here, you have to look at each pattern on its own to see if it is based on knitting a set number of rows, or whether it's based on a set measurement. In the latter case, there is usually some room for "fudging"; once the shaping is done, you might be directed to work until the piece meets a certain measurement. However, in the former case, as in my "Petrova" cardigan, the finished length is based on a set number of rows worked at a specific row gauge.

Changing to a lighter-weight yarn and switching to a larger size carries no guarantee of a happy outcome in this situation. It's best to stick with the recommended weight to get the size you want.
Note that raglan-styled sweaters are usually safe to make even if your row gauge is a little off. You can always add or subtract stitches at the underarm to make the body width work out. Top-down raglans, like the "Perth Cardi",

are forgiving, and a style I strongly recommend to those new to sweater knitting and fitting.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Finally, it's warm--twenty-two degrees Celcius today (that's 71.6F, for those of you south of the border). So warm that I walked downtown without wearing any wool and without even socks in my clogs. I know I've been a bit obsessed with the weather this year, but really, so has everyone in this part of the globe. You have no idea of the joy we experienced after lunch when we opened the front door and it was actually warmer outside the house than in. Wahoo!
Yesterday was the May spinning/potluck for the Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners. It was held at Elaine's Fortune Hill Farm, about half an hour north of Kingston. Elaine is a member of Fibre Roads, the group I'm working with on my "designing with local wool" project. After a morning of coffee and spinning, we ate our lunch, which included borscht and some dangerously delicious potato salad, then we went outdoors to have a look at the sheep and lambs.

An "action" photo!
We wandered into the woods in search of trilliums, our provincial flower, but only the dark red ones were out this early.

In a few more days, the floor of these woods will be a carpet of white blooms.

Elaine has a straw bale house. I'd heard of them, but this was the first one I'd visited.

The mud/plaster on her walls is made with clay on the property. The entire construction utilized as many sustainable products as possible, right down to the kitchen countertops, which included recycled paper. Such an interesting day.
Now, I've got to run outside to bring in my gardening equipment because we're about to have our first thunderstorm of the season. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Still Waiting...

The winter of the polar vortex has given way to the spring of the polar vortex, perhaps soon to be the pollen vortex, judging by what's happening farther south. It's still damnably cold, and we are all still waiting for one--just one, please--really warm (not hot) day. How am I biding my time during the wait?
1. James and I moved some plants and shrubs around the back garden yesterday. Then I begged had him move one of the same ones again today. It's positioning was off by about six inches, and although no one else in the family was bothered by it, I would have cringed every time I looked out the window. Now it's where it should be, so our time mucking about in the muddy soil paid off.
2. Speaking of mud, I've been meaning to show off some of the Victorian boot scrapers from along King Street East. Today, on my way to the butcher, I took some photos.

At the same property as the above very handsome boot scraper there are also a mounting block (probably for carriages, since it's not tall enough for mounting onto horseback) and tethering posts.

Narurally, since there were carriages, there are carriageways. You've seen some of the ones from residential properties in my other blog posts. Here's one from what is now a commercial property, leading to a car park.

I love the blend of antique and modern, including the graffiti art on the right-hand wall.
3. Mostly this week, I'm knitting to a (self-imposed) deadline. I want to get this design finished up and photographed before Isabel leaves for her summer job. I've established a fairly realistic goal to be achieved each day, and so far I'm on target. In situations like this, I find it best to get as much done before 3 pm as possible. My enthusiasm, energy, willpower, you-name-it, seems to dwindle after that.

This is the slate-coloured alpaca/wool from Fibre Roads. So soft, so drapey!
4. Not sure how I'm going to meet my goal tomorrow when I'm driving Bill to Terroir in Picton (I'm the designated driver, he samples the wine). I'll have to hang out somewhere with an audiobook and knit, knit, knit while he has his fun. Unfortunately, cool and rainy weather predicted.