Wednesday, October 13, 2021

While My Sweater is Shrinking...

Our house is cooling down now that we're in October, so my Wheatsheaves body is taking longer to dry than would have been the case a month ago. I am, however, pleased to report that the anticipated shrinkage appears to be underway. The sweater is only slightly damp now, and the body length is exactly where I hoped it would end up. No frogging or extra rows necessary. Occasionally, experience pays off.

While the afternoon sun works its magic on the sweater, I'm knitting up a quick little project.

It's a pair of Bibliogloves. The wool is Patons' Kroy Socks FX in "Midnight". I lost my last pair somewhere on my trip two years ago to KnitEast 2019 and have been putting off knitting a replacement. Still listening to "Murder at Queen's Landing", but also thinking about the now-distant pleasures of weekend wool retreats with knitting friends by the Bay of Fundy. Sigh.

P.S. Also thinking about ordering "State of Terror", the new book by Hilary Clinton and Louise Penny, and Chris Hadfield's new book, "The Apollo Murders". I'm a sucker for alternative histories.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Wheatsheaves: Blocking Work-in-Progress

Thanks to some audiobook listening (Andrea Penrose's "Wrexford and Sloane" mystery series), I'm almost ready to make the transition from the body (boring) to the lower lace border (exciting!). But ... I've worked with Eco+ so often that I know it will likely grow in length after blocking. I want the finished length of my cardigan to be 20". The instructions remind me to begin the border 3 1/2 inches before the desired finished length. That means I need to start the border when my sweater measures 16 1/2 inches from the top of the shoulder at the neck. REMINDER: because of the shoulder slope, make sure to measure just next to the neck and straight down. I actually stopped knitting when the body measured 16 1/4 inches, anticipating some growth. It's always better if you don't have to rip back and steam the crinkles out of the knitted yarn before proceeding. 

Here's the work soaking on my kitchen counter on a gloriously warm and sunny Thanksgiving afternoon. Is there a better time of year when the weather is nice?

The stitches are all on a length of waste yarn with the ball attached (but outside the tub so as to remain dry).

And here's the same chunk of knitting blocking on a towel. The width is 24" as set out in the schematic,

but the length is currently 17". I predict the length measurement will reduce to around 16 1/2 inches. Guess we'll know around this time tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Happy Thanksgiving for all you Canadian readers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Wheatsheaves Upper Body Complete

This next step begins with transferring the provisionally cast-on shoulder stitches to a needle (I used a 24" 5.5 mm while I retained the back stitches on a 32" length). There's a link to my tutorial on doing this, and if you've never done it before, the tutorial has some useful info, especially regarding what to do with the last stitch. I also followed my own instructions to thread a short length of waste yarn through the cast-on stitches to make it easy to count the number of rows from the shoulder in order to make the fronts match the back. See?

The fronts go quickly and now I have everything joined up and the first two rows of the lower body all done.

It's clear sailing from here. I'm looking forward to the excitement of the front lace border!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Wheatsheaves Upper Back Done + My Giant Beanbag

Before lunch today I managed to squeeze in fifteen minutes of knitting and got this completed.

I needed something to hold down the curling edges so the general shape would show, and I chose some seasonally appropriate weights. After the setup row, I have 39 rows of stocking stitch in the outer shoulder. 

Yesterday I decided to finally take action on my need for a draught stopper (otherwise known as a door snake). This bedroom door was, at some point in its hundred-year-old history, cut a little short and the light/noise/draughts have been driving me crazy for the four years we've lived here.

Instructions: 1. Measure the exact width of the door opening. In my case, 30".

2. Cut a piece of sturdy fabric (I used Essex linen/cotton) 30 + 1" wide x 13" tall. 

3. Fold the fabric over and sew a tube using a small stitch and a 1/2" seam and leaving one end open.

4. Turn right side out and press. Also press the raw edges of the open end to the wrong side in a half inch hem.

5. Fill the bag with dried beans -- lots of them. The finished bag will be quite heavy!

6. Pin the opening closed and edge stitch it. I decided to do this instead of hand stitching the closure because I felt it would be so much stronger. Done!

P.S. You are right if you noticed that the door colour doesn't match the trim. This is the room I painted a couple of weeks ago and I deliberately left the door until a later date.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Fall Colours

I love burgundy for fall. Especially this version that has a slight grape undertone. The shade is rich, and over time will get that lovely faded look that linen gets with multiple washings. Here I am about to head out for my daily walk. Burgundy glasses, and I have a burgundy batik print mask in my pocket. No lipstick. The NYT had an article on lipstick wearing during pandemic times, and I lapped it up. I'm not a big, bold lips kind of girl -- my colouring and age don't lend themselves to it, but I love the way a bit of soft lipstick colour (maybe also used as blush) can give my aging face a lift. However, unlike the author of the article, I have no intention of wearing colourfast lipstick under my mask. Au naturel feels more comfortable to me just now. Guess it goes with the grey hair, ha, ha.

Now that this latest York Pinafore is done, I'm looking forward to this, which arrived this morning in the mail.

Now to my fabric stash to see if I have enough yardage in yarn-dyed black Brussels Washer. Maybe I'll need to design a sweater to go with it... Anticipation is as much fun as the making!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

A Beginning and Some Ends

 Let's start with some "ends". My new Ellerbeck with my new burgundy York Pinafore.

I know I said I would get a photo of myself wearing Ellerbeck, but try as I would, I couldn't get a good take of the hemline, so I resorted to The Mannequin. And I couldn't resist positioning it next to some art by local fibre artist Robin Fields. 

Now, to a beginning. I started a new Wheatsheaves yesterday. Here's my crochet chain in preparation for the provisional cast on. Notice the knot at the end on the right hand side to alert me where to "unzip" the waste yarn when the time comes. Don't worry if you've never done this; there are links in the pattern to my tutorials for this and other necessary skills, and knitters tell me that the instructions are clear, easy to follow, and all you need to get through the opening steps to this no-sew cardigan. My best advice is to set aside an hour of uninterrupted time to get launched into the provisional cast on and shoulder short rows. It's the most technically demanding part of the entire sweater, but don't be intimidated. Once you're past the shoulders it's clear sailing.

This time around I decided to switch things up and do German short rows instead of the wrap and turn method in the pattern. These days I generally prefer the former. They're easier and more invisible, at least for me. If you decide to go this route, you'll need to knit an extra stitch before each turn. I highly recommend this little tutorial on German short rows from Tin Can Knits. 

Here's how the back looks today. The yarn is good old Cascade Eco+ in Silver (because I want the lace borders to really show).

Fall has arrived. The furnace kicked on in the night. It was time to rescue some of my Annabelle hydrangeas to let them dry indoors so they retain some of their late summer green colour. Why pay for dried flowers when you can pick them for free?

Sunday, September 26, 2021

New Skills and a Bit of Rule Breaking

I'm sure I'm not the only one with pandemic-driven new skills. There's nothing like being stuck at/near home for a year and a half to create motivation to make changes to the home environment. Thus is it that I've acquired painting skills. Not watercolour painting, but home decorating. Thanks to YouTube DIY videos and the fact that for the first time in my life there are no children, dogs, or other impediments, I've learned to scrape, patch, caulk, sand, and paint my way to a more serene place. The sickly yellow that we inherited from the previous owners of our house is finally gone. Yay.

So are the venetian blinds facing the back deck. Because the long windows were more or less flush with the wall (no inset), the blinds we inherited jutted out just enough to allow gaps at the sides which always left me feeling vulnerable at night when the lights were on. Also, since blinds are really meant to stay down even when open, the slats impeded the view of the beautiful mature trees in back of the house. I took down the blinds and began scraping the peeling paint around them only to discover that the underlying material was metal, not wood. It had obviously not been properly primed since the paint came off in sheets. After some research I caulked the windows, primed them with a water-based product meant to create an adhesive surface (2 coats), then painted them in Benjamin Moore's Distant Gray (actually a cool white) in a satin finish (2 more coats). By then I was committed to re-painting all the other wood-framed windows in the same colour. All in all, painting the trim in the room occupied about 80% of the job's time. 

After rolling out the walls in BM's Constellation, I tackled the window issue. I decided on unlined drapes in heavy white cotton twill. I purchased a set of IKEA's Merete curtains, which fortuitously I had noticed on a BP (Before Pandemic) trip to IKEA in Ottawa. I washed and shrank the fabric, cut off the grommets, and hemmed them at both ends so that they would barely skim the floor. Conventional decorating taste dictates that drapes should be hung as close to the ceiling as possible. Conventional approaches were thrown out the window (pardon the pun) when I attempted to drill an anchor into the outer wall to support the curtain rod. The resulting cavity in the wall was rather shocking after all my efforts, but I knew right away that I had the skills to make it disappear. No handyman required. I ended up attaching the rod to the wood trim. Voila. 


Now when the curtains are drawn at night, not only do I have privacy, but also a cocooned atmosphere in a tent-like environment. A total win!

I'm not knitting today after a minor kitchen accident has left me with a clumsy bandaid-covered left forefinger. So, I'm getting a move on with another York Pinafore. Can a girl ever have too many of these? They are my uniform in all seasons. Being low on washi tape, I followed Karen Brown's useful suggestion to use painter's tape to mark my seam allowance. That lady is so resourceful!


If you are a sewer, I hope you will check out her fantastic YouTube channel.

P.S. You can see that for the time being I'm stuck with the hideous bone-coloured outlet covers. Need to do something about that soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Two Favourites and a KAL (sort of)

 Wheatsheaves and Frostfern are back in my Ravelry shop.

I'm getting ready to knit a new Wheatsheaves for myself and intend to document the process here on the blog, so you're invited to follow along. You can comment, ask questions, or post photos of your own Wheatsheaves-in-progress on the Wheatsheaves Ravelry project page. It's not a formal KAL, just a knit-along-with-me-if-you-feel-like-it sort of thing.While I finish up my bedroom painting project (one more day?), you can select your wool. I've already wound some Cascade Eco+ in Silver, and as soon as my painting is done, I'll be hauling out the pattern and casting on. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A New Ellerbeck

I noticed last winter that I wasn't wearing Ellerbeck much, and after some thought realized it was because the fullness in the body felt a little too exaggerated. So, over the last couple of weeks I re-drafted and re-knitted the lower body. Instead of 10 sets of 4 increases over 28 rows, the new version has 7 sets of 4 increases over 25 rows. While I was at it, I added an extra set of short rows to the lower back of the sweater and cleaned up a few typos. The pattern is now available again on Ravelry. I still need to weave in the ends on my new sweater, but as soon as that is done and everything blocked, I promise photos of me in the new version. 

Fall is a season for changes. Goodbye sickly yellow, hello to Benjamin Moore's Constellation in my bedroom.

I was worried that I might not be able to reach the top of our 10' walls, but even someone who is 5'1" can manage it with a tall enough ladder. High of 23C today, very low humidity. September is perfect painting weather! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Some Small Things

It's almost wool socks weather, so I thought it an appropriate time to re-activate the Brookline Socks as well as the Snakes and Ladders Socks. I really love browsing through the project pages for these to see what amazing socks Ravelers have turned out from these relatively modest designs. I hope you'll take time to do the same and be inspired. 

And while I had my Ravelry shop page open, I decided to add the Bellevue Mittens to the active list. I've been careful to price these items in line with similar designs on Ravelry at $6.50 Canadian dollars, which works out to about $5.00 US, depending on the exchange rate on any given day. I will be keeping a few very simple designs (like Pembroke) free, but in those cases the pattern will be published on my blog with a link from the Ravelry page.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Modern Gansey Returns


The Modern Gansey is something of a stealth success story. It quietly went up on Ravelry back in 2015 after I had knitted a version for James' birthday. It's a unisex pullover (sort of). To read about the development of the feminine version see here. The pattern very slowly began to grow in popularity with knitters looking for just the right male sweater and also with knitters like me who love to have recipe style instructions that let them personalize their work. By last year it had become one of the most popular men's patterns on Ravelry, and it's the one that has been most requested since I hit pause on offering my patterns to the public. 



Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Audrey Is Back!

It must be the cooler late summer/early fall weather that's driving requests for Audrey's Coat. As of today, it's available again on Ravelry. Note that I've added the suggestion that some knitters may want to add a few short rows to the back after the underarm division to enable the back to drape just a little longer than the front. 

Happy fall knitting!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Willingdon Re-launched

I've had a lot of pressure from knitters to make my designs available again, so today I'm beginning slowly by re-launching Willingdon. This time, I've set up a paywall, which is a double-edged sword. It definitely discourages copyright abuse, but at the same time it creates a ton of tax reporting. But, with the cooler weather upon us (down to 11C last night), I want to allow people to share in the pleasure of knitting what I consider to be the ultimate fall cardigan.

Here are some helpful hints:

1. The forearms are purposely on the close-fitting side. Consider starting with a larger number of stitches than indicated if you feel that would be more appropriate for you, or especially if knitting this for someone of the male gender.

2. Try to choose a yarn that is "chunky", like Cascade Eco or Eco+, as opposed to "bulky". Ravelry, being based in the USA, does not make that distinction in its yarn weight choices, but here in Canada and in the UK, that distinction exists. You can check your gauge by starting a sleeve, then wet blocking it after a few inches.

3. Check out the link in the pattern to my raglan and neck decrease charts. Most knitters find them super useful.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic I drove to Picton in Prince Edward County yesterday. It seems that the real estate developers are having a field day there with so many big city dwellers looking for small town/rural properties. I barely recognized parts of town. I brought home a good sized haul of produce from Hagerman's, the best farm stand in the world. 

We could never find yellow beans when we lived in Washington, DC, and ever since I can never pass up the opportunity to indulge. This morning I made our favourite roasted tomato and garlic soup and now I have these to share with the kids (at some point those inherited kitchen countertops have to go!)

What else is new? The cooler weather has gifted me with a burst of energy so I put it to good use and painted the floor of our front porch.

So fresh looking!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Linen Love

Here I am back on the blog after a (sort of) refreshing break. It's too hot to do much knitting just now, so I'm sewing in our one room with a window air conditioner and waiting for the heat to break. With what looks to be a fourth wave of COVID starting up, I've made some new "Delta" masks from this pattern. They have three layers of dense batik cotton including a filter pocket to hold a meltblown polypropylene filter. Who ever thought that masks would become a fashion accessory? If you are looking for mask making materials, including filters and elastic, a lot of small fabric shops now sell these things online. Again, who would have thought?

My latest make is Friday Pattern Company's Cambria Duster. "Everyday Linen" in "graphite" from Pure Linen Envy.

Check out the inside. The picture is not the best because we have all the blinds down to keep out the heat. I think it took over 12 metres of homemade bias tape to cover the seams. If I make this again I'll buy ready-to-go double-fold tape. I used the leftovers for a matching mask.


At some point I'll model it, but today it's just too hot. My inspiration for this coat was this version by Simone of Fancy Tiger Crafts. To avoid the bathrobe look, I intend to wear the ties pulled to the back. Can't wait for fall weather. 

P.S. Comments are once again enabled for anyone with a Google account. And for all of you who have been writing to me on Ravelry, the knitting patterns will be coming back! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Pembroke Scarf Pattern

Having been inundated with requests for this, here is the recipe for the Pembroke Scarf, surely the most mindless method of using up fingering/sock yarn.

Finished Size 
Variable, depending on yarn chosen, needle size, and your preference.
As shown:
Wingspan: 67”
Depth: 10 ½”
Suggested Yarn
Fingering-weight yarn, especially yarn with alpaca, merino, or other luxury fibres. 
As shown:
Misti Alpaca [50% alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, 10% nylon; 437 yds/400m per 100g skein]; 1 skein. Colour # HS72.
Size US #2.5/ 3.0mm 24" circular.
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends.
Variable. As shown:
28 sts = 4” in garter stitch after wet blocking
Pattern Notes
This simple pattern is all about attention to details, specifically, how the selvedges are worked, and how the tips of the scarf are shaped.
If you are unsure of how to work the longtail cast on without a slipknot, see
Using 24” circ, CO 4 sts using the longtail (knotless) method.
Row 1: Kfb, knit to end.
Row 2: P1, SSK, knit to last st, kfb.
Rep Rows 1 and 2, until there only enough yarn left to bind off, or until desired length, ending with Row 1.
Last Row: P1, SSK, knit to last 2 sts, k2tog.
Bind Off
Work the BO FIRMLY; the method below yields a stretchy edge which could otherwise end up too loose. Alternatively, go down a needle size. The finished edge should lie flat, but have a good deal of stretch.
K2tog, k1, *return sts to LH needle, k2togtbl, k1, rep from * until 2 sts rem on LH needle and 1 st rem on RH needle; k2tog, pass 1st st over 2nd, break yarn leaving a 6” end, draw end through rem st, and fasten securely.
Weave in ends.
Soak for 20 min in a wool wash product. Squeeze gently, and block to desired size (no pins are required).