Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Modern Gansey

Well, eleven months after its creation, I've finally got around to publishing this pattern onto Ravelry.


Monday, November 23, 2015

The Fat Goose Lays a Golden Egg

Yesterday I completed my weekend of craft fairs by dropping into the Fat Goose show at Queen's University's Grant Hall. It's a bargain with only a $2 admission charge. The surprise? Not all the vendors were strictly local--but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing from my perspective. I discovered Mailles (that's French for "Stitches"), a Mont-Tremblant based vendor of handknitted accessories all made with a thoughtfully chosen range of colours in Briggs and Little wools.

Gloves, toques, mittens made with Canadian wool by

Many of the pieces are lined fully or partially with fleece, because as anyone who has braved a Canadian winter knows, come January, one layer alone won't do the job. I bought a pair of these,

Wool mittens red black charcoal

and these.

Wool leg warmers black

So, why would an avid knitter like me spend money on legwarmers and mitts? 'Cause I love the inspiration that comes from looking at such lovely handknits, 'cause I want to support a Canadian company that uses Canadian grown and spun wool, and 'cause I don't have time to knit everything I want or (in this case) need. You can never have enough mitts in the house. A couple of pairs to wear while a couple of more pairs are drying out, while yet another pair is being washed....You get the picture.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Local Flavour

'Tis the season of the holiday craft fair. After several years of renovations, Kingston's Tett Centre, home of local potters, weavers, dancers, and others, is open once again in a spectacular setting next door to the Isabel Bader Centre for the Perfoming Arts overlooking Lake Ontario. Yesterday was Day 2 of the annual sale put on by the Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners. The weather was blustery, but sunny, so I walked from home along the shoreline to get to the event.

When I arrived at the Tett, this is the first thing I noticed.

The only danger I was in was from awe at the beautiful workmanship and artistry on display. The refurbished studios are bright and spacious. Here's the new pottery studio,

and the large room for the sale (this is not the Weavers and Spinners' studio, which is down the hall).

 There were Shetland shawls,

mittens knitted with handspun wool and Samoyed dog fur,

and the group's famous tea towels, which were on the verge of selling out, as usual.  But the most stunning piece was this carpet...

My photo does not come close to capturing the beauty of this piece, woven by Norma Rosier with humble Briggs and Little wool. I wouldn't have believed such softness possible with B&L if I hadn't touched it with my own fingers. A truly astonishing demonstration of the weaving craft. Could you bring yourself to walk on this water?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Bit of Spin

In the midst of editing the Modern Gansey, and coaxing some photos out of James, I spun up 100g of hand-dyed merino from Riverside Studio over the last couple of evenings on my Ladybug.

So squishy, so full of bounce. Yum!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Copyright Concerns

I found out this morning through a fellow designer on Ravelry that two of my most popular patterns, Harriet's Jacket and the Trellis Waistcoat, are being offered for free by a pattern-sharing website. Both these patterns were briefly offered for free by me last winter as a promotion, and I can only assume that that is how they worked their way onto this site. Confoundingly, there is no contact link on the website. I am not the only Ravelry designer affected, and there is some discussion underway to try to figure out what to do. In the meantime, please boycott these sorts of pattern-sharing sites. (I am not even including a link.) And naturally, I am reconsidering my offering of free patterns, now and in future, if it leads to this sort of unscrupulous behaviour. Arggh!

P.S. As of a few minutes ago, Harriet and Trellis have been removed from the pattern-sharing site in question. Victory! However, if you visit my pattern page on Ravelry, you'll notice that only a few very basic patterns are still free. Although temporary free promos definitely bring a lot of traffic to my page, once something is free, it seems that it's extremely difficult to haul it back into the regular paying stream. It's a case of technology being the proverbial double-edged sword! Many thanks to Spinnerific for setting me on the path to getting a resolution from the site in question.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day, 2015

Here we are at Remembrance Day, with a new government, full of hope for the future, while at the same time we look back. There was the annual ceremony at the cenotaph in City Park, with its booming canons rattling our windows (built long before the Great War that Grampy fought in). With the Royal Military College based here, as well as a major military base, there is always a parade. Here, the Princess of Wales Own march past.

I thought of my grandfather, pictured here in 1915 as a young officer, younger than my own son is now.

He seldom spoke of his war experiences, other than to joke that he chose not to sign up for the cavalry, because he didn't want to spend his time mucking out stalls. Eventually he was wounded, and spent time first in British hospitals (hence his lifelong aversion to Brussels sprouts) and later with his aunt, Lady Perley, whose husband, Sir George was our High Commissioner in London. In his nineties he was invited to review his regiment at a time when he was the oldest surviving officer from WW1. Around the same time, an archivist from the National Archives visited the house to interview him about his experiences and collect such archival material as he still had in his possession. There is a small collection under his name.
My American readers should keep in mind that Canada was in the War from the outset and over its duration lost a sizable percentage of its young, male population.
After sitting on my front steps to watch the parade, I took a few minutes to admire the beauty in our late fall front garden.

The last few leaves of the Boston Ivy against our limestone wall.

The last rose of the season. Amazing that there's any bloom at all in November.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Nine Stages of a Knitting Relationship

The Modern Gansey, Female Ed. has been slower going than I thought it would be. I seem to be going through ALL the stages of sweater knitting mood swings.
1. Enthusiasm as the sweater is planned, the yarn is bought, and the first stitches are cast on.
2. Concentration on the small details of getting the pattern stitches launched.
3. Pleasure in seeing the first few inches take shape.
4. Boredom as the long slog toward the underarms means that each round is longer than the one before. No wonder I was waylaid by a spindle-making fascination for a few days at this point!
5. Doubt about halfway down the body that this effort is going to produce a sweater I'll want to wear (or even see again).
6. Anxiety, as my yarn supply begins to dwindle. In fact, it's still not clear that 6 skeins of Osprey will do the trick. The original sweater was to be for Isabel, but when she declared an aversion to the colour, "Glacier", I decided to make it for myself. Not to worry too much, though. I called Rosehaven yesterday, and there's an extra skein on hold, just in case.
7. Relief, when I try it on (partially completed) and decide that I like it.
8. Anticipation for the end, made all the more exciting because this is a sweater I can't wait to wear.

Above, you see the divided hem on the body. None of this has benefitted yet from the transformative effects of blocking, but no matter, it will only become more beautiful. Can't wait for the last stage...
9. Exhilaration, when the sweater gets its first outing as a piece of my winter wardrobe. Won't be long now!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


In her most recent column in the Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente begins with the words, "I don’t care what your politics are. It was impossible not to be moved by Wednesday’s ceremonies, held on the kind of luminous, golden day only a northern autumn can produce." She was so right. And in an extension of the mood, we had even more of the precious late fall weather through yesterday--precious, because it's unlikely there will be anything like it until next spring. Such is the ephemeral nature of both politics and golden November days, I guess.
To make the most of that last day, I drove along the lake, taking the the Glenora ferry over to Picton to drop into "The Maker's Hand", Prince Edward County's craft festival. There, I met up with Chris Hall of Cake Tin Hats, where I purchased the evocative hat she's holding in this pic. Total Downton Abbey. I'm a hat person, in case you haven't guessed.

Then it was on to Jackson's Falls Inn to set up my little table of spinning stuff. Already, Purlin'J was there with her Roving Yarn Truck.

World's best leggings!!!
 The truck was parked across the road from the falls, so I sauntered over to have a gander.

They're on private property, so this shot through the woods of the drop-off is from as close as I could get. Probably just as well.
Inside, the Inn lobby was set up with a mini-yarn shop. I browsed while the knitters were in class, enjoying the warmth after the slightly chill air outside.

My little display of spinning goodies was enough to attract some of the knitters for a drop-in drop spindle class between lunch and the afternoon session. The only disappointment? At the end of the drop spindle session, a group of knitters who all got together last summer to knit my Wheatsheaves Scarf stood on the front steps to pose together with me for a commemorative photo. I thought the pictures were good, but when I downloaded them to my computer last night, all the faces turned out to be very blurry. Same for the one of Karen modelling her Harriet's Jacket. However, you can go here to see these beautiful scarves. Truly, the most exciting aspect of knitting design is seeing what other knitters do with my work. Every scarf was in a different yarn, every one was a slightly different size, and all were gorgeous.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


When November weather is good, it's very, very good. Maybe the best in the year. The low angle of the sun casts a golden spell on everything. We've been having Indian summer all week, with temps in the mid-teens. Glorious.

In the glow of the afternoon sun, coming through the above window, I spent part of the afternoon making spindles to sell on Saturday. It takes about 20 minutes per spindle.

And finally, I'm pleased with the collar on the girly gansey. 3 x 2 ribbing was indeed the trick.

I wanted a collar that would be high enough to come up and over my chin by a little bit, and this one is perfect. I think I'll do the same deep ribbing on the sleeves. Now, I've got to run to get some bread into the oven before it over-rises (Laurel's Kitchen whole wheat bread, in case anyone is wondering.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Breaking news on the spindle front--I will be selling spindles next Saturday from 11-3 at the Wine and Wool Retreat at Jackson's Falls Inn in Prince Edward County. $20 each, cash. Paypal might work too. Anyone can drop in to shop. Now you know!

Monday, November 2, 2015


A lot of you wrote to me on Ravelry asking about purchasing one of my new spindles. I've done some checking up on shipping (and boxes for shipping), and I'm sorry to tell you guys that this is going to remain a DIY project. The cost of mailing parcels here in Canada is high compared to the US, where mail order is much more a way of life (I know, having lived there for a big chunk of my adult life), and it seems downright stupid to spend more on shipping a thing than the thing itself costs to make. I suppose one could argue that the small effort to put the spindle together adds to its value. Still, I think it makes more sense for those of you who are interested to order the parts directly from Lee Valley. If you go back a couple of posts, you can see what you'll need, and there's a link to the store in case you don't have one where you are.
Beautiful sunset tonight. Here it is, as seen through two layers of windows from our third floor library.

The Mod Gansey, girly version, proceeds apace. I spent hours (literally, unfortunately) on the phone with Bell today trying to solve an internet connection problem. With the phone on speaker, I picked up the collar stitches,

then managed to get the entire thing done during the conversations I had with five or six tech support people as my case was "escalated". I really hate that word. It's almost as if it's code for "getting the runaround".

By the end of my interaction with Bell, I had cast off the collar, although now I'm thinking I might go back and try out another ribbing ratio. 3 x 2?  Not sure, but this doesn't feel right. At least it kept me from foaming at the mouth during the "escalation".