Other


Jordan had been waiting for this day for a long, long time. I’ve held him off, forbidden, delayed and otherwise interfered in the ways mothers do.
But it was time. Sunday morning, Jordan counted up the money he had saved from his paper route. And about ninety minutes later, he had turned that cash-moolah into this:

That is one 80gig PlayStation 3, two games, a second controller and some cord thingy.
This is all HIS money. That he earned and saved up. I’m so proud of him. That paper route is a crappy job – not the least because of the way people treat him. People yell at him. People slam the door in his face. And yet, he goes out three times a week, in all weather and carefully delivers the papers. And when people refuse to pay, or snarl at him, or otherwise abuse him, he smiles and says, well, thank you any way and off he goes. And he is very careful with his money. He is a big spender… on the things that matter to him. He spent a lot of money at the fall fair. But he never buys candy or junk from the dollar store.
He was so excited yesterday – he was practically floating. Not only did he finally have that PS3 he’s wanted forever, but this was his biggest purchase ever. He was feelin’ goooooooooood :)

Last week, I finally sewed in the ends and washed the baby blanket I had been working on for MONTHS. Someone bought the kit and had me make it for them. It looked pretty straightforward when I took the assignment. Sure, I had to learn to crochet with two colours and with three colours, but that literally took less than a minute to learn (it is WAY easier than colour knitting).
However.
The pattern was some kind of messed up. I’d bet that in the end, I actually made the whole blanket twice for all the working and reworking I did to try and get gauge. I had no problem getting the “squares” the right width, but I could not even come close to the right height. And the two motifs were very different sizes. I tried everything: different hooks (many, many different hooks), working more tightly, more loosely, verifying that I was using the right stitches… anything I could think of, but in the end, the star “squares” were still significantly taller than the plaid squares. Ugh. Finally, I did my best to fit them together as smoothly as possible and let it go at that. The border, which is actually quite pretty, went a long way to straightening everything out.

Once it was finished and washed (thankfully, the washing softened the yarn – an acrylic – a LOT. I was really worried about the texture of the thing), I took the finished dimensions. Ummm. The pattern says that the final width was 26”. My blanket was almost 39”. I spent a good 5 minutes in a panic trying to figure out where I went wrong. It was only when I went back and did the math that I realised that (once again) the problem wasn’t me – it was the pattern.
According to the pattern, each motif is 8.5” wide. Yes, ok. Mine were. And the blanket is four motifs wide. 8.5 x 4 = 34”. Whaaa?!! Then add the joining rows and the wide border.. umm.. yeah.. about 39” NOT 26”. Geez.
While I was working on this blanket, I was so frustrated and it was taking way too long and I just couldn’t see how it could come together into anything that was remotely ok. But in the end, while this is no work of art, I’m happy with it. I hope the recipient is too.

Also… WOW! Thanks for the great response on the pumpkin hat pattern. Y’all are so kind.

I’ve finally gotten round to adding some projects to Ravelry. Oy. There’s a process. Over there, I’m billijean.

The fever and woozy tummy won’t go away, so I can’t really move around much. I get up and putter around for a bit, then snuggle back into my chair with my blanket (handknit, of course), my slippers (ditto) and a cat or two and rest for a while. I haven’t been knitting much because ehhhh… even my hands feel woozy, so I’ve been sorting and editing photos. The next logical step is to post them all here, non? Oui.

Spinning Up Colour.

In late Winter I went to a 2-day workshop on dyeing fibre for spinning. (Details and photos here.) It was awesome.
Well.
Long story short, I managed to slightly felt my fibre when washing it, so spinning it was difficult. In the end I got this:

Blue Handspun

Now that is some pretty crappy yarn. I was pleased that I managed to get it spun at all and I was in love with the colours, but the spinning, ugh. So you can imagine my surprise when, out of curiosity, I swatched some up to see how it would look and it came out all even and soft and everything! Move over, Harry Potter! I’m doing magic now :P Immediately, I cast on for Fetching. I need some fingerless mitts for knitting at the hockey arena and these fit the bill perfectly.

Blue Handspun
If knitting with two needles is good, then knitting with six (plus a crochet hook because I can’t stop dropping stitches) is awesome! :P

So far I am *really* happy with how they are coming out (the first picture is closest to the actual colours). They’re soft and my favourite colours and the whole time I’m knitting, there is a voice in my head going, “Omg! I DYED this fibre and then I SPUN it and now I’m KNITTING with it – how cool is that?!!” I haven’t been this pleased with myself since I learned to tie my own shoes.

Spinning for Socks

Maxine, my spinning guru, put on another workshop last weekend: Socks: Spinning and Knitting Workshop. I was all over that. It was wonderful. (There were cookies this time, too! Yay!). Besides the spinning, a knitter I hadn’t met before, Wilma, was there with tips and techniques and lots and lots of samples for knitting socks.
A couple of weeks ago, we were talking on the phone and I was whining telling Maxine that I just haven’t got it yet. I can make the wheel go round and I get “yarn” but the process is very slow and awkward and I have no control over the type of yarn I’m making blah blah. She gave me some tips right then, and then at the workshop she stayed very close and helped me out and whoa baby! I can spin! I’m still not making really consistent singles and my plying is not as even as it should be, but I’m not making crap anymore and that’s something. Also, it goes much faster now.

Spinning for Socks
On the left: plain 3-ply. I think the fibre is Romney, though I’m not sure. On the right: Merino. Cabled.

Spinning for SocksI was spinning the finest singles I have ever spun. When I began to ply three together, I had some difficulty with my lazy kate. But again, Maxine helped a lot with that and I futzed around with it some more at home and it is working now. I have a lot of trouble keeping the angles between the singles even as I ply. Also, keeping the tension even on all three singles was difficult. Part of this is due to my wonky hands and part is just inexperience. In the end, I worked out a two-handed method that is slow, but it makes for much better plying. I’m optomistic that eventually my hands will get with the programme and learn how to do this.

Spinning for Socks We cable-plied the merino. There is more work in a cabled yarn, but it is fun to do and makes for a good texture, I think. It makes the merino shine. In the last step – where you ply a double ply with a single – I found I had to put a lot more tension on the double than on the single, or it would pull away from the single when I released tension. I’m not sure of this is actually part of the technique, or if it because of something I was doing wrong (for example, I suspect there may not have been enough s-twist in the double strand). Once I figured out to add the extra tension, though, it plied up reasonably well.
The merino is (not surprisingly) quite a bit softer and smoother than the Romney, but I like them both equally. And that’s a LOT :D

Fuzzy Feet!

Fuzzy FeetLast fall, I dyed a bunch of Alafoss Lopi with stuff from my garden. (Details and photos here.) A few weeks ago, I knitted up a pair of Fuzzyfeet using some of this wool.

The Cadet Blue crayon is there for scale.

I knitted the top of the ‘sock’ longer than the pattern calls for – 3″ in the natural lopi and then another inch in the dyed before beginning the heel flap. The yarn I used is the stuff I dyed with yellow dock root and is on the bottom left of the photo in the post linked above. The colour is hard to describe – it’s kind of tan or beige but maybe slightly pink? And I like it a lot.

Fuzzy FeetFelting was a snap. For the booga bags I made last fall (same post, linked above), I had to put the bags through 2 or 3 full heavy-duty cycles before they were really felted. The Fuzzyfeet took about 1 cycle and then I stopped because they were at risk of becoming too small.

They are definitely fuzzy :D

I’ve been wearing them since the moment they were dry after felting and they’ve been a real comfort with the fever and wooziness I’ve had the last few days. I love them. Jordan keeps asking when I’m making a pair for him :P

Fuzzy Feet

A Word of Caution

Now, I’m am no knitting expert and I don’t really feel qualified to be spouting words of Knitting Wisdom or anything, but, I can offer this:

When the pattern instructons are whole page long and the first instruction is: Cast on and working in Moss Stitch, work 620 rows, you might want to rethink that project. I bet you can find something that is less likely to drive you right insane.

I’m just sayen :P

Fleur

And Finally (anyone still here?)…

Truffles

Yes. That is 1 KILO of French Truffles.
I haven’t had to cook all week! (kidding!)

That was a gift from someone who either really, really likes me, or is trying to bring about my early death. Not sure which ;) But what a way to go!- with the deep chocolate taste of french truffles on your tongue. mmmmmm :)

Fwiw: My email is still a mess. (so is my connection, but its the email that is the hardest to deal with.) I logged on this morning to 987 messages. Of course, 99% of that is spam. I’m working with filters and rules to try and wade through, but ugh… it’s a rotten process. Good thing I have truffles! But this has been going on for three weeks or more. If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered, I’m hoping to get to it, eventually, as I uncover the valid emails under the mountains of spam, and there is always the possiblity that real emails have been deleted along with the spam : ( If you’re up to it, send again to increase the chances of me finding your message. :-/

Ok… time for another round of puttering.

All my life, I have lived on, or near, the Niagara Escarpment. Most of that has been in west Hamilton, where the spectacular views on the drive along hwy 403 up ‘the mountain’ were an everyday thing. When we moved to Burlington three years ago, I was surprised by how strongly I felt about the geography I had left behind, even though it was only 15 minutes away. When I have occasion to drive into Hamilton now, I am sometimes overcome with my strong feelings for the land. Princess Point, the shale of the escarpment, the waterfall, and the view over the city and out into the harbour… I miss it all.

But near where I live now, there is this piece of escarpent that stands out as if it was the last standing wall of an ancient ruin. There, I can see the layers of shale and the shape of the outcrops it creates when it crumbles. Right there, is a little piece of ‘home’.

I took this photo a few days ago. The wind has been blowing hard today, though – windows rattling, yard funiture blowing around and plants bent over to the ground – so I imagine that much of the colour in that photo is gone now. No matter. The starkness of bare branches against a shale background is part of the escarpment’s natural cycle and I cherish it as much as any other part of the cycle. Winter is coming. The escarpment says so.

I came home the other day and found this jar of liquid lighted gold on my doorstep. That’s honey, fresh off the hive. That’s a lot of honey, like, more than 2 kg. A family friend keeps bees and he dropped this off for me.

Isn’t that pretty much the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? I keep moving it around so that the light catches it. Sometimes, I just stand there and look at it. I swear, light actually eminates from that stuff. Jordan has been caught twice, dipping his finger in for a taste. I admit to eating it off the spoon. There is nothing more perfect than honey. Bread and honey. mmmmmm. I’m making carrot soup for dinner, and with soup you need tea biscuits. And I’ll be making extra biscuits today so we have some for eating with honey. I see honey cake in my future. And I see a lot of gazing at that jar of golden light.

I admit to being a little overwhelmed by my knitting lately. That I apparently have developed KADD – Knitting Attention Deficit Disorder – isn’t helping. I have also developed a real knack for choosing yarn that is beautiful, yet really hard to knit with or patterns that appear straightforward, but really aren’t.

The only good knitting choice I have made lately – “good” meaning something that I can knit as a christmas gift that the giftee will like and that doesn’t take months and months to knit and doesn’t cause my elbows and wrists to swell with the effort – is to make a couple of Booga Bags. This is excellent car and watching-hockey knitting. This is knitting on big needles (I used 8mm). This is knitting with wool. I love knitting with wool so much, I’m going to marry it.

This is also a good project because I am using wool from my stash. I had a bunch of natural Lopi and I dyed it, using Lucia’s instructions, with purple Kool-Aid. I’m really happy with the results. Purple is not my colour. It just isn’t. I think it has something to do with a childhood experience while watching Donnie and Marie and something about his socks or something. Whatever, purple is not really for me. But this purple I like. And I really like how the colour varies. It gives a really nice depth to the fabric. So the knitting is done and now I’m waiting for the current load in the washer to finish up so I can send this thing on its first felting run. Can you feel the anticipation? I can :D

Before I set off to do another tortuous pattern repeat on a Silky Wool scarf, I want to thank Rob – who is Canadian, so you *know* he’s a great guy – at RobswURLd Best of the Web. Yesterday, he named my blog in his Today’s Blog Recommendation series. Thanks Rob!