Tuesday, October 27, 2020

At Home: New Skills Edition

I read somewhere recently, in an article about coping with pandemic fatigue, that the two pillars of mental health are physical activity and creativity. This may explain why I don't seem to be having an especially difficult time hanging out at home. I walk outdoors almost every day, and I try to keep learning new things. The latest thing I've learned has been more or less forced upon me. I mostly sew Indie patterns, and since the start of the pandemic most Indie designers have been  producing only pdf patterns. Previously, I would take these to my local copy shop and have them printed out on huge pieces of paper from which I would trace the pattern pieces (it's best to keep the original intact in case of future alterations). Lately, I've learned (finally) how to skip the copy shop and print and piece together patterns on my own. I'd tried it earlier, but somehow everything always ended in a horrible mess. The process would start out all right, but as I moved down and toward the right the "tiles" would become progressively mismatched. It turns out there are two secrets to getting it right (assuming you don't have problems printing to scale). 

1) Cut off the right-hand side and the top of each printed page, and 

2) As you piece the "tiles" together, cut out the pattern pieces as they emerge (adjusting any little discrepancies if necessary). 

There's a good description here on the Helen's Closet website. In fact, I'm preparing to sew the Pona Jacket from the same source. I'd show a photo, but I think it is subject to copyright. It's the longer version I'm interested in. In wool, just like the one featured by Sewing Therapy this week. Clearly, I'm on my way down some sort of rabbit hole with this jacket, but what better time for that?

Here's the printed out pdf of the jacket front ready to trace (I use tracing paper that comes in a big roll and feels more like interfacing).

In the evenings I'm gradually adding to my sock collection with a new pair of Snakes and Ladders Socks (link in the sidebar). These are surprisingly quick to make. Really.

This last week of October feels more like November -- winter coat cold. Pics below from the front of our property.

In fact, as I write the leaves are falling fast and it's started to snow. Sigh.

P.S. I forgot to mention in the new skills department, that I'm learning to use Zoom (isn't everyone?) Good thing, because I've been invited as guest speaker by a large knitting guild south of the border. So, new skills AND new opportunities. Got to find the silver lining in every dark cloud.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Good Things

In a normal year, I'd drive to Picton, ON via the Glenora ferry every few weeks, winter excepted. I'd stroll down the main street, buy a takeout lunch, check out the boutiques, and end with a trip to the Hagerman farm stand, possibly the best in the world. On a full day trip, I might take Bill and visit trendy Wellington or have lunch with him at one of Prince Edward County's many wineries. And of course I'd stop at Rosehaven Yarns. Lesley Snyder, the owner, says the shop is hanging in through this weird time. She carries an eclectic mix of gorgeous stuff, from Quince & Co yarns to Briggs and Little to rovings for felters and spinners. The shop's website has had a fantastic upgrade so online shopping is (too) easy, and Lesley tells me that knitters are sending in orders for multiple projects at once. 

So, to support Lesley, here are some project ideas to entice you to check out Rosehaven's offerings.

Hedgewood works well with any wool that knits up at 5 stitches/inch, including Quince's Lark and Owl. Not everything in the shop is on the website. Ask Lesley if she still has Briggs and Little's Regal in stock because it can work too. There's no sewing up with this design, and most of the cabling is done with the right side facing. This model is knitted in Lark in "Frost". Remember, you need a light colour to show off the texture.

Not in the mood for a big sweater project? Perhaps this is the time to prep for winter with a new pair of mittens. These Bellevue Mittens also use the same Lark, Owl, or Regal and are surprisingly quick to make. I recently wrote a blog post about how to make those essential mitten liners

You could also opt for mindless knitting, perfect for Netflix bingeing or audiobooks (my fave) with this Neck Thingum. For this I'd stick to Lark; since it clings to your neck you need something really soft.

If you want a quick, soothing sweater knit in chunky wool you can't go wrong with Cascade's Eco+. Lesley has this in some yummy colours, including my favourite Summer Sky Heather, shown here in my Willingdon cardigan.

Do you have a man in your life looking for the perfect stay-at-home sweater? Eco+ to the rescue again in the Modern Gansey. In fact, this pullover is unisex, with instructions to modify the shape to work on a feminine figure too.

And a third option for a sweater with almost no finishing is Glenora, aptly named for the ferry crossing I take to get to Rosehaven.

You may have noticed in the above photo that Isabel is wearing my Bibliogloves. This has been a super popular pattern on Ravelry and for the small and medium sizes all you need is one skein of Quince's Chickadee. Someone on your holiday gift list will appreciate these quick fingerless gloves.

Maybe you're a sock knitter or a lover of sock yarn. You'll need a solid or tonal yarn for these Snakes and Ladders Socks. They are shockingly quick to make and perfect for cable newbies. I'd recommend Biscotte Sock Yarn.

For some soothing knitting with luxury fingering yarn, go for a Pembroke Scarf (there are knitters on Ravelry who've made multiples of this during the pandemic). Only 2 rows to memorize, and you'll end up with something beautiful and practical.

Check out the Ravelry page (link above) for inspiration. Malabrigo Sock was made for this. Now go treat yourself to some new yarn!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

For Jo: Answers to some Audrey Questions

Jo has written to me on Ravelry:

Now I’ve started to knit, I’m a little bit confused by the stitch numbers in the raglan shaping. I just can’t get the maths to add up…

The left front after the collar starts off with 4 sts, and the right front with 5. (I’m not talking about the seed stitch panels because they are marked off and separate).

However, when coming to the divide for the body and sleeves, you state an equal stitch number for both fronts - which, since the increases are symmetrical at the ‘sleeve’ edge of each front all the way through, just doesn’t add upp.

I’m not making the mistake of counting the seamline stitches; but if you start off with a different number for each side, and make symmetrical and equal incremental increases to each side, I don’t understand how they would both end up the same at 22 sts (plus seamline stitch). Either I need to miss an increase for the right front, or add an extra one for the left; but the pattern makes no mention of this…

I’m also a little bit puzzled by the sleeve stitch counts.

They start off at 4 sts each on the first row after the collar, and are increased on either side, therefore adding 2 sts to each sleeve every alternate and subsequently every 4th row. But at the divide, the pattern says the sleeves should each have 39 sts.

Since it’s mathematically impossible to start off with an even number, add an even number, and finish up with an odd number, I’m not sure again whether I need to do a single increase somewhere to each sleeve, and if so, whether this should be in the raglan line at the back of the sleeves, or at the front. But this would make the armholes slightly asymmetrical…

I’m now trying to work out whether to add in another stitch after increasing regularly up to 38, thereby adding another 4 rows in length to the shoulder area, or whether to go with 38, and panicking about whether this will affect the fit of the sleeves in a material way.

I’ve gone through the pattern line by line with a fine toothcomb and plotted the increases into a spreadsheet to try and see if I am missing something…but I just can’t get the maths to add up.

I’ve also tried to resolve this by going carefully through the pattern notes for others who have made this pattern. But I can’t see any mention of an issue with the maths - everyone seems very happy with it, and no-one seems to have had this problem.

I’d be really grateful if you could respond and help me out on this.

Since it's not straightforward to post photos into my Ravelry message box, I'm writing the answer here. Perhaps it will help someone else too. 

First, here is a diagram of Size 43 at the divide for the underarms. 

The overlap at the front is shown at the top, and the seed stitch back pleat is at the bottom. The "1+" indications are for the seam stitches. The dividing row is a RS row and for Size 43" it reads:

Seed 17, k22, remove marker, k1, transfer next 39 sleeve sts to a length of waste yarn, remove marker, CO8 for left underarm by backward loop method, k30, work Pleat Chart sts, k29, remove marker, k1, transfer next 39 sleeve sts to a length of waste yarn, remove marker, CO 8 for right underarm, k23, sl marker, seed 17 (working in buttonhole if applicable). 167 total lower body sts. 

You can see that the raglan seam stitches are being added to the body stitches. The totals for each section after the above row are:

Back: (1 + 29) x 2 + 11 = 71

Fronts: (1 + 22 + 9 + 8) x 2 = 80

Underarms: 8 x 2 = 16 

Total = 167

 Now for the sleeve question. Again, here is the chart from my workbook.

Although the sleeve begins with 4 sts (an even number), one of those is a "seam stitich", so the actual number is 3. You can see that every now and then in my chart I show a number in parentheses; that's the actual sleeve stitch count. So, at the end there really is an odd number, 39. Remember, in the dividing row all the seam stitches end up as part of the body. 

I hope this helps. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2020


Today I am a spinster, at least in the antique definition of the word. Originally, the word applied to anyone who spun wool. Over time, as this relatively mindless drudgery was allocated to unmarried women (especially those unlikely to become married), the term came to mean any unmarried woman, especially an older woman. 

There are other things I should be doing today, but sometimes we have to indulge ourselves, and so I'm beginning a long-term design/spin/knit (DSK) project. Last week I ordered 2 lbs of Ashford Corriedale combed top in "Grape Jelly", described by The Fibre Garden as "an excellent medium purple". 

So, the adventure has begun. 

Meanwhile, on my front porch an enterprising spider has been spinning too.

Our night time temps are now getting perilously close to freezing. The question is, should I take out this gorgeousness with one sweep of my broom, or should I simply let nature take its course? 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Zooming in to Thanksgiving

While our turkey is cooking this afternoon (almost all the other meal components are already made), I popped outside to take a new view of Victoria.


Writing up is progressing. I'm still accepting testers, so let me know on Ravelry if you're interested. It's a quick and easy knit. No short rows. It's oversized, with finished measurements ranging from 38 3/4" to 56". My bust is 32" and I made the size 42 1/4". I used 590 m of Cascade Ecological Wool. 

We're in full fall mode here. Crunchy leaves underfoot,

maples aglow.

Later this aft we're going to link up with Isabel in California for our joint Thanksgiving dinner. The Ontario government has told us to restrict festivities to members of our own households, no guests, so thank goodness for the internet. Have a lovely holiday if you're Canadian.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

When the Patches Have Patches

This is the first time I've tried to write a blog post from my phone. Since last spring I've known that I need to replace my Glenora. Here's Isabel in hers, back when she still lived with us. What a great colour that "Irlande" is. Such a lively green!


With my blue version, both elbows have been darned, and the darns have been re-darned. Time to let go. I'll felt it and it can become a new tea cozy. Or more mitten liners. So, this aft I hauled out some Berroco Mercado from the bottom of my stash to cast on a new Glenora. The wool is slightly on the skimpy side but I think it'll be OK.

Phew. This seems to have worked! (Both the yarn and the blogging.)

Friday, October 2, 2020

Victoria 2.0

 Here's a "bathroom selfie" of the latest version. Hey, the light was good in there.

Also, an inelegant drawing (I'm no artist) of Victoria's design features.

I've just spent the morning making a muslin for a slipcover for an old and ugly living room armchair, but this afternoon, while it rains, I'm going to explore a swatch of BT's Shelter held together with some silk/mohair. And I'll also think about how to do a virtual Canadian Thanksgiving next weekend with Isabel in California. Apple pie or pumpkin pie, or pumpkin cake perhaps? Bill seems to be using sugar to get through the pandemic...

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Is There a Name for This?

There's a certain colour out there in early October that defies description. It's abundant in our garden, where you can see it in sedum (Autumn Joy variety), and especially in Limelight hydrangeas,

and barberry (below).

The last two are, curiously enough, lime green earlier in the season before they develop this soft rose colour. I would call it "dusty" rose, except I hate the sound of that. Is there a better name for it?
I happen to have some linen, washed and ready to sew in this exact colour.
I'm trying to decide what to make out of it. An Estuary Skirt? Free Range Slacks? Something else? Ideas, anyone? 
Bonus pic (a bit fuzzy, sorry): the view from above the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, about a 2-minute walk from my front door.

Stunning clouds over the US side of the lake, beyond Wolfe Island in the distance. Odd how it's quite common for us to be in sunshine here on the north shore of Lake Ontario while upstate NY is shrouded in fog (or snow).