Thursday, July 26, 2007

Which House Are You In?

Want to Get Sorted?

I'm a Ravenclaw!

There are lots of Sorting-Hat Quizzes out there. When I was at Lunadog's house in Vancouver, we found one that put her in Hufflepuff and me in Gryffindor, but now we can't quite seem to find that particular quiz. Not a problem. Ravenclaw is a good house, too.

And BTW, I'm just now reading Book 3, Prisoner of Azkaban. I like Harry Potter, the books I've read and the movies, but they're not at the top of my 'gotta keep up' list. I can wait until Book 7 comes out in paperback with no problem. If you pass along a spoiler, well, by the time I get to it, I'd probably not remember what you said, lol.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mystery Shawl 3 Progress At Last!!

Yahoo! As my Canadian friends say, "I am chuffed!!!" I have reached Row 50 of Mystery Shawl 3. The whole thing was frogged at about Row 30, due to finding a bad error way down, and there's been a fair bit of tinking, but - hey, this is my FIRST laceweight project!! It's quite clear that this project will be worked using my glasses, not my contacts, due to those occasions when I need to see the stitches from less than 6in away. For instance, when tinking a purl row and the stitches seem to have vanished into the yarn. Nonetheless, TA DA, here it is!!!

This is Treenway bombyx silk, 20/2 gauge, in a pale cameo color. And I am definitely using lifelines, about every inch. I take out the one passed by and put it in at the new row. I have about a jillion yards of crochet thread, nearly any color I need. (Thanks, Mom.)

I had a great idea about a holder for the big charts!! I've dug out a big cookie sheet and, with some 1/2in x 4in magnet strips (Michaels, $2 for 5), I should be able to spread out most of the 2-page chart.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Update on the Comfort Shawl

I've had a couple of inquiries about the Comfort Shawl pattern. I really think the 'wonkiness' I have is due to my knitting, not the pattern. I was really zooming along on this, and when I get up too much speed, my tension gets uneven sometimes. If this were done with a blockable yarn, I think the puckery bits along the two decrease areas (one each shoulder) would even out. But this is 70% acrylic, so I'm not thinking to block it at all.

Unless the experienced knitters among you think I could steam-block it a bit??

There's been no knitting progress at all since my last post. Except I've worked in all the ends on the projects that needed them. I'm looking for the remainder of a skein of Nashua for a bit to do a 3-needle bindoff of the hood seam of another baby sweater that got buried ages ago. I may have to break into a full skein for 18in of yarn.

It's hot, which makes me restless and a bit cranky, and I dislike putting on the a/c. Since we had our 1937-vintage house retro-fitted with central heat and a/c, there are some spots that are too cold and some that don't get enough cooling. So I set for minimal cooling and try to use fans. Bitch, bitch, bitch. Yeah, I *said* I was cranky. Yesterday I had planned to go see Madge and the Monday Montrose knitting group, but a plumbing emergency took up most of the day.

So - I'm going to suck it up and go knit - Sun Ray or MS3 or Luna Moth? Maybe each in turn.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Real Knitting Content - At Last!

I have quite a lot of FOs to show off, plus a couple that are WIPs. The knitting mojo seems to be back Chez CBM. I finished quite a few charity projects, some hats for Dulaan and a couple of nicer items for my seniors' charity boutique in November. BTW, remember that you can click on the pictures for a larger view.

The hats for Dulaan came from stash, some nice ordinary Patons Classic Wool in dark green and a 'Cloud Hat' in blue Classic Wool with some white mohair donated by my dear friend Madge. The green hats are just plain patterns with a few extras. The 'Cloud Hat' has an extra-deep hem, so that there should be a double layer over the ears.

My seniors' group gets some nicer yarns, and we try to use them for boutique items, though we don't generally sell them for more than the plainer acrylic ones. But we got some acrylic/mohair skeins recently, and I was inspired to use them for what I hope will be eye-catchers. The red shawl is plain garter stitch, just a 3-stitch border, with yarnover increases at the edges and the middle. It's approximately 58in across the shoulders by 28in deep. It's 100% acrylic 'mohair', so I don't think blocking will do anything for it.

The blue shawl is the "Comfort Shawl" from Knitting Daily, the new IWK blog-zine. The yarn is 70% acrylic/30% mohair from a Mary Maxim sweater kit from the 80s. The pattern is a really fun and fast knit - took me only 3 evenings, though I will admit that the evenings may have oozed into the oh-dark-hundred hours. I think I did this on a US9 needle. The Faroese shaping at the shoulders proved to be a bit wonky as knitted by me. There's a bit where a yo-k-yo changes to a k2tog-yo-k sort of thing (maybe it's a double decrease), and I didn't notice that it was puckering a lot until I was far past that. Being mohair, I tried a bit of frogging, and you experienced mohair knitters know that didn't work well. I think a bigger woman will fill out the shoulders better than I do, and that may minimize the problem. The shawl stays in place over the shoulders and is amazingly warm and lightweight. The picture on the pdf shows how the shoulders *should* fit.

And then there are my current WIPs. I got a LOT of knitting done while I was on my Vancouver trip! I started the Sun Ray shawl, a free pattern from Elann, designed by my friend Shui Kuen. I'm making this with some 100% merino hand-dyed in Apricot by the talented Jayne, of See Jayne Knits. I love how the colors don't stripe or puddle, just drift across the shawl in bits of sunny colors. The picture shows how far I got with one skein, 246yds, using a US9 needle. I have one more skein, and I'll be starting that today. This is a terrific pattern, well-suited for travel or chatting knitting, or, as the pattern suggests, for a first lace project.

When I ran out of yarn for Sun Ray, I started another baby hoodie with James Brett Marble acrylic, which I got at the Stitches from the Heart LYS in Santa Monica. If you haven't seen my 2 prior versions of this, it's a top-down raglan pattern, starting at the top of the hood. The hood is the long squarish part on the right side of the photo.This is predominantly pink (though the color isn't really good, due to lighting), so of course it will go to some little girl. This will probably go back to Stitches from the Heart. SFTH is a charity (just one LYS) providing handmade items for babies and small children.

I think I'll be trading off the nice, easy Sun Ray with - drum roll! - Mystery Stole 3. I swatched before I left, so now I'll be starting out at Row 1. Yeah, see the Slow Bee button, courtesy of Bonnie Marie Burns on the right? That's going to be me. Clue 4 is already out, so I'm oh, 350 rows or so behind. Since this is my very first laceweight project, it's a matter of one stitch at a time, very slowly, with a lot of attention paid to tension.

I really didn't buy much yarn in Vancouver, and only 2 skeins for myself. This is Fleece Artist Kid Silk in Rainforest. While Urban Yarns had lots of Fleece Artist yarns, and a fair bit of HandMaiden, I couldn't seem to fall in love with any of the HandMaiden colorways in stock in either the Sea Wool or Sea Silk. This is about 400yds, which should make a very lovely shawl. I'm not really interested in the scarf pattern included on the skein labels.

And I have to show off a wonderful present made especially for me by Uleta. I was gobsmacked, as they say! This is a nice big tote, made from Laurel Burch cats fabric, and with crocheted straps. The lining is silky, with 3 nice pockets. I just managed not to 'SQUEE' right in Uleta's ear, lol! You might have guessed that I love Laurel Burch's cat designs, me being CATBookMom and all. In fact, my pencil cup is an oversized LB mug, decorated in 10K gold; it's a pencil cup so it doesn't get into either the dishwasher or the microwave, both of which are bad for the design!

To finish the post, I thought I'd show you one of Midnight's corners of the house. She has her scratching pad, a couple of catnip toys and a ball-in-a-circle toy, though she doesn't chase that much these days. Of course she's showing off her signature Elegant Pawsitude pose.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What a Private Yarn Stash!!!

Someone on the Elann chat posted about this woman's yarn stash. How many LYSs do you know that have less yarn? I can think of quite a few. Here's the link to the Mochimochi blog .

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vancouver Holiday Part Two

OK, I didn't plan for this to be two-part, but something is wonky with the first post. If it dies while you dear readers are reading it or commenting, please LMK. Somehow a big blank thing appeared in the middle of the post and now when I try to edit it - or finish it! - it goes blank in the edit mode. I've copied and saved it in case I have to reconstruct.

I didn't get a chance to add links to parts of my first post. If you don't know Jayne's website, it's here, with a link to her Etsy shop here, where she has her beautiful hand-dyed yarn and stitch markers for sale.

So, to finish what I had left to do in the first post:

This photo of Uleta is from my 2005 visit, showing her lovely garden. I think her lavenders could be right up there with those at any good lavender farm, and that's one of the things I most envy. I love lavenders, as most of you know, but I can't seem to grow them very well, in spite of having very sandy soil. However, I keep trying. One of these days, I'll have a picture like that!

On Monday, Alice Trueman was able to come over from Salt Spring for lunch. She was wearing a beautiful Wren top, the so-popular one this summer from the Berroco website, done in a lavender and green yarn, the very same Zodiac yarn that is called for by the pattern. I had no idea from the pictures that any of the Zodiac colors would look so pretty, since most of the online photos showed much brighter, hotter color combinations, though it may be the 'Arcadia' color, which is marked as being new. Alice said she improved the fit by adding bust darts, and I was not at all surprised that the top fit her perfectly.

We went off to lunch at a newish restaurant, and the food was terrific. It was fun to chat with two so-experienced knitters. Then Alice and Uleta took me on a little tour of one of the shopping area in Sidney, and we looked into the yarn shop, a lavender shop and one of the local bookstores. Yarn, lavender, books - what a perfect CBM agenda!

The yarn shop is just changing ownership; the new owner was quite friendly and the shop looked like a nice place to sit and knit. They were unpacking some Fleece Artist Sea Wool when we arrived, so of course I had to look, though I didn't buy any. It was interesting to see the British version of the Harry Potter books in the bookstore, with the covers being different from the ones published here in the US. Yes, they are planning a midnight HP party tonight, with the store opening at 11pm for the crowd of fans. The lavender shop was full of lovely scented things, though I only bought a pair of pretty little hand-painted lavender-designed votive holders.

Then Alice had to leave to catch her ferry back to Salt Spring. But, here's the thing, I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture of Alice and Uleta. Boy, did I feel dumb, when it hit me about 15 minutes after Alice left. So I'm missing a picture to show you. It's in my mind, carefully saved, cropped and enhanced. But while I share some of what's in my mind with you, here on this blog, I can't show you pictures.

So, the trip was wonderful, thanks to Karen, Uleta, Jayne and Alice, the great friends I have in Vancouver and its surrounds. They are terrific knitters, generous with their time and talents, and kind in so many ways, even to remembering to stock up on Growers' Extra Dry Apple Cider, every one of them!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vancouver Holiday - A Hoot and a Half!!!

A Little Bit of History

Two years ago, I went to Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, for a knitting retreat organized by Alice Trueman. I learned about Alice through the Elann Chat Center. Her teaching is wonderful and the food was amazing! I am very grateful to Alice for teaching me how to read charts and how to make them. I may not be able to *knit* the pattern on the chart, but I can read it!!

I wrote about my 2005 plans on the Knitting Forum, and two of my online friends, Uleta in Sidney and Lunadog in Burnaby, both invited me to stay with them for a day or two before or after the retreat. If the retreat on Salt Spring had been missing anything, not that I think it did, visiting Karen and Uleta filled in everything I could have wanted.

I didn't remember to take photos very often, and many of my shots were terrible, due to my struggles with a new camera. But these two show Alice and Jenny (in green), Alice's wonderful chef, in the dining area of the Sunset Farm house where we stayed. They're the only ones I have of Alice. She and Jenny were taking a quiet moment to discuss the upcoming menus - which were absolutely wonderful!!

Fast Forward to Last Week

So I went back to Vancouver last week, just to stay and have fun with my Vancouver friends!! Here's Karen and me at the airport. Karen and I had an incredible amount of fun! We went to Urban Yarns and Birkeland Bros. yarn shops. The individual links are to the yarn shops, and here's one to a small write-up of both of them by Spun Magazine. Urban Yarns is a very good, well-stocked LYS, with 2 - count 'em, TWO!!! - walls covered in Fleece Artist and HandMaiden yarns. Yummy!! I bought yarn, yes; but all but 2 skeins were for gifts - just ask Karen! The pix show Karen and the very helpful Kathleen checking out my buys at Urban Yarns and then there's a view of one of the walls of Fleece Artist yarns. Oh, such yumminess!!

Karen also, very patiently, took me to the Vancouver brick-and-mortar version of my favorite garden-gadget store, Canada's Lee Valley. DH and I have been buying from Lee Valley's catalog for years. Want a really lovely pair of 'stork' scissors for your yarn? Order them here.
They have the best products and prices and the best customer service you can hope for, right up there with Elann!! I *love* Lee Valley.

Karen knows I am very fond of the wonderful Growers' Extra Dry Apple Cider, which can be found only in British Columbia, and stocked a 6-pack for me. Yeah, I drank the whole thing! Not surprised, are you??? There doesn't seem to be a website for Growers' Cider, which is in Oliver, British Columbia. It's yummy! Drink some if you're ever in BC.

Staying with Karen comes complete with four-footed companions. Here's a view of Karen and her two 'puppies', Maddy and Cory.

Maddy is the newest member of the family; she was rescued from northern British Columbia after having been abandoned. Maddy still needs some help with socializing and to put on weight, but she's a fast learner and very friendly to newcomers, especially softies like me, who'll give her lots of petting.

Cory is a larger dog, and a totally lovable boy. He's also a rescue and is so happy to have found a home with Karen. His head looks much like a collie's, and his coat is marked like a German shepherd. He's taken Maddy into the family as a 'kid sister', and seems very happy having her to play with.

Karen has become very busy as a volunteer at the Big Heart Rescue Society. She collects animals from the airport and transports them to the people who will be fostering them until they are ready to be adopted. Karen's friends there have commented that she has 'failed Fostering 101', since she really didn't mean to adopt Maddy, originally called Brownie, it just happened. BTW, Karen just got her own page in the Volunteers section of the website, here.

And, just so I didn't have kitty-withdrawal, Karen was taking care of her sister's cat, Mignon. She's about 11, and not happy about the bright flash in her eyes. That's sad, because Mignon has the most lovely big tilted green eyes, along with the softest, most even and beautifully groomed fur.

Dyeing with Jayne

You may know about Jayne, of See Jayne Knits. She's a friend from the Elann Chat center and the blog-iverse. And she lives not far from Karen in Vancouver. So I had the great fun of spending the day with her and her family. I got to hang out with Jayne, look at all the beautiful yarns she's been dyeing and at the very-popular stitch markers she's been making, and watch her dye some yarn just for me. How great is that???

I bought some grey Optimum yarn last fall when it was discontinued, and while I loved the feel of the yarn, the grey was just very boring. So Jayne and I worked out a deal for her to dye the yarn to my choice of color. I really liked the 'Brandy in a Garden' colorway she had, but she recommended something a bit different, and away she went with the bottles and the jars of dye. All this happens right in her kitchen, with yards of plastic wrap keeping the colors where they should be. It looks complicated to me, with soaking the yarn, then mixing and spreading and squirting the colors, microwaving the yarn and then rinsing and spreading out to dry. Jayne's son and daughter are very good about helping to unwind and re-skein the yarns, too. [I think she pays them, but don't tell anyone, ok?]

We finished off the evening with a dinner of fajitas and beer, followed by a bit more chat before I headed back to Karen's for the night. On another evening, Jayne and Karen and I managed a knitters' night out at a local pub, with great food and for me - yeah, you guessed it! - more Growers' hard apple cider. Better than beer, but that's just my opinion.

Sidney by Ferry

My trip also included a couple of days in Sidney, over on Vancouver Island. It's just over an hour and a half trip from the Tsawassen ferry terminal in Vancouver to the Swartz Bay terminal on the island.
My friend Uleta has a lovely house just a few minutes' drive from the ferry terminal, but you'd never know her quiet neighborhood was anywhere near anything so busy. She has a small but beautiful garden, filled with plants that make me envious of her green thumb. Many of the same plants grow here in So Cal as in Vancouver, but oh, what a difference humidity makes!! Uleta is a multi-talented woman: she knits, sews, quilts and paints, among others. She's also a top-notch knitting missionary, having taught 5 of her nieces and DGDs to knit. Apparently the five of them were at her house all at one time recently. What a picture that must have been, lol!!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Less Addicted than I Thought

50%How Addicted to Blogging Are You
How Addicted to Blogging are YOU???

I think the level is due to the peculiar fact that, since I set up my daily reads on Bloglines, I don't read most of them. This is very weird, I know, but ......

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Socklets, Swatching, Sci-Fi and Going on the Road!!

New Sock Class - Way Fun!
As my new knitting friend Ellen has written, a good time was had by all at the Toe-Up Sock Knitting Class taught by Cookie A on Friday at my favorite LYS, Unwind Yarn. Knitdevil Madge was there, along with another 8 or so knitters. Cookie is a very thorough and patient teacher, being able to provide individual attention and clear step-by-step directions. Unlike the previous sock class I've taken, we produced a demo sock that actually can be worn by a little kid. So here is the Socklet. Well, it will be more useful when it gets the other sock to match.

I've included a AA battery for scale in the first picture, then two views of the Socklet with my dear Midnight. She was not particularly amused at the 'Sock on my Cat' idea, rolling over into her signature Elegant Pawsitude pose to glare at me.

Will I become a toe-up knitter? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe sometimes. As the class discussed, there is a lot to be said for both toe-up and top-down sock knitting. While my Turkish cast-on looks perfectly OK, I'm not sure that 8 stitches of Kitchener is more difficult to do than this cast-on. Toe-up is certainly the choice if you're concerned about having enough yarn for both socks.

Cookie's signature short-row heel and gusset make a very nice looking sock, and are worked in a way that will allow making the heel in any number of lovely pattern stitches. I picked up a couple of Cookie's simpler sock patterns; I particularly like the Thelonius pattern.

My sock-knitting mojo is really back, Hurray!!! I think this Nashua superwash worsted would be better done with size 3 needles rather than the 4s I used, since the fabric would be a bit tighter, but my old problem with uneven gauge seems to be gone.

Mystery Shawl 3 - Knitter #6706 Here

My dear friend Madge convinced me that I should join the 6700 other knitters working on Mystery Stole 3. I'm beginning to think that she's going to take over the title of Evil Enabler, which I've carried for a year or two, at least according to the members of the Knitting Forum.

I've made the swatch, using some beautiful pale cameo 20/2 bombyx silk I bought from Treenway Silks, when I was on Salt Spring Island 2 years ago. I have nearly 1100 yards. This is only half of the yarn; there were some technical difficulties in winding the yarn, involving yarn wrapped around the swift and some VERY tiny knots, which somehow resulted in 2 balls. As you can see, I've applied good advice I've had from experienced lace knitters, and used a toilet paper roll to keep the ball from collapsing inward.

The swatching required several changes of needle size and a few start-overs, but I think I finally have a good result, using size 3US Addi Lace needles. The blocking is rather wonky, since I started with dry yarn and then spritzed it - hey, that's what the directions said!! I'll use my own experience for the next blocking efforts.

I'm Off to Canada!

I'm not planning on starting the stole itself until after I get back from my trip to Vancouver, BC. Not to be confused with Vancouver, Washington, I'll be cross-border in Canada, home of the Loonie and Twonie, the most excellent hard cider, as well as some outstanding yarn sources, including (but not limited to) Koigu, Fleece Artist and HandMaiden.
Warning: Sci-Fi Content!!

Vancouver International Airport is so open and filled with light. If you're a StarGate SG-1 fan, the airport is the setting for one of (IMO) the best episodes from Season 4, "2010 ." An alien race has offered all sorts of technical advancements to Earth, but somehow transported to 10 years in the future, the SG-1 team learns that the aliens have made everyone infertile so they can take over the Earth. All of the team die in the effort to toss a message through the StarGate (set up in the airport) to warn themselves 10 years earlier. Paradox? Yes. SF trivia - you betcha!! But it's a beautiful airport!!

I'm going to be spending a week in the Vancouver area, visiting with my knitting friends up there. I'll be staying with my dear (blogless) friend Lunadog, and getting together with the fabulous Jayne to observe her wonderful yarn dyeing skills. (Check out her gorgeous products at her Etsy shop!) I've sent her some pale grey Optimum, and while I'm there we'll be deciding what colors the yarn wants to be. Jayne's new 'Brandy in the Garden' colorway is the current top contender.

I'll also have a day or so over in Sidney, on Vancouver Island, visiting with some other knitterly friends, Uleta and Alice. Unlike the whirlwind of activity that was my visit to San Francisco, this will be a quiet week. After buying lots and lots of the lovely Artfibers yarns, which came right after the going-out-of-business sale at Black Sheep Knittery, I'm literally and figuratively "stuffed" full of yarn. Though I might pick up a skein or so of Fleece Artist or HandMaiden loveliness, maybe for holiday prezzies??

One of the few 'must-do' items is to find some of the wonderful Growers' Hard Cider I enjoyed so much on my last visit. Growers' isn't shipped out of British Columbia, sad to say, and I couldn't find a website for them.

In other knitting news, I've finished a couple of other projects, but I'm actually and mentally too preoccupied with getting ready for my trip on Wednesday to try to block them before I go. I'm back on the following Tuesday, and I promise to take lots of pictures!

Knit on!!