Tuesday, December 22, 2009

random Tues before Christmas

Hmmm... sometimes it's not a good idea to clean out the hall closet especially when hubby is around and he knows where the camera is -

Yes, most of these shoes belong to me. Not all my shoes are in this picture. I admit that I have a shoe problem. Hubby said my yarn stash was jealous of my shoe stash. Not funny.

I finished my Christmas knitting.

Pattern: standard top down sock
Yarn: ONline Superoscke 6ply Cottage; col 1079, 1 skein (150g; 410 yds)
Needles: 2.75mm dpns

The Sock Hole Fairy has visited me again. This time, my KP socks have fallen victim:

This pair has joined the other two pairs in the "I-don't-know-what-to-do" heap.

The pest guy has come and gone. He crawled around outside and identified 12 points of possible rat entry in our roof (we have a weird roof configuration). Then he stuck his head into our attic and come down with a scrap piece of wood with rat footprints on it. EEEEWWWWW! So traps have been placed and we're pretty sure one has been caught. The pest guy comes back tomorrow morning to empty the traps. Blech! Then he's going to install rat proof screening over all the entry points which should keep us rat proof for a long time.

Sometimes, Ricky looks pretty funny sleeping right in the middle of the hallway - elbows sticking out and chin resting on the ground. He looks like a turkey.

It's hard to believe that this innocent face can get into so much trouble.

The "black eye" is from a fight with Phoebe. She managed to spear him in the face with one of her claws. And I found my hibiscus plant all chewed up. It's on a tall plant stand which is close to a window sill that's 4 ft off the ground. Ricky has figured out that he can (a) jump that high and (b) reach the plant from the sill. So we booby trapped the ledge and when he tried to land on it, stuff fell down on him, and he ran away scared. He is such a bad cat!

Friday, December 18, 2009

counting down

Everything at my house is about numbers these days - 7 days til Christmas (eek!), half a sock left to knit (double eek!!), 4 days til the in-laws show up (triple eek!!!), 23 hours til the pest guy comes to evict an unwanted rodent from our attic (I think it's a rat because of the gnawing wood noises that wake me up at 5am), 11 cowls delivered, 2 cats sleeping off chasing said rodent (Phoebe was chittering at it this morning as if she was trying to lure it downstairs), 4 dozen gingerbread cookies baked and ready to be frosted, umpteen presents left to wrap, gajillion Christmas cards that still need to be written & mailed, did I mention that there's only a week left til Christmas?!?!?!? I think I'm going to pass out - where are my smelling salts?

So instead of tackling those things, I'm here to blog (and take a breather from all the madness).

Here's a cowl that I knit as a sample for a class that I'll be teaching in January:

Pattern: my own; I have a PDF for it but I haven't uploaded it anywhere and I'm too lazy to type it up here on the blog so email me and I'll send it to you.
Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky; col Charrua; 1 skein (104 yds; 100g)
Needles: 6.5mm circs
Notes: If I were to knit this again, I'd use a slightly larger needle like a 7mm. It's plied so has a bit more body than Malabrigo Worsted. It's soft yarn but not as soft as Mal Worsted.

And this is my last gift cowl:

Pattern: Birthday Cowl by Nova Seals
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease; col Maize; 1 skein (207 yds, 100g)
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: I can't find my notes but I think I cast on an extra repeat. I changed the skp to ssk.

All 11 cowls were gifted yesterday to my quilting friends (waves hi to QHuackers). I got lots of goodies to eat, two lovely embroidered towels, a little notebook, a small duck that glows when you squeeze it, and a small paper pieced quilt of a duckie.

After I finished the last cowl, I whipped up two hand towels and two dish cloths.

Pattern: my own; the wash cloths are plain garter; the towels are some sort of waffle stitch
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Culinary Cotton; col Summer Resort; 1 skein (340g; 608 yds)
Needles: 5mm noname bamboo
Notes: I love how the colours zig zag across.

I've got to finish knitting that last Christmas gift and then I'm knitting for myself for a few weeks. I desperately want to finish my Mondo Cable Cardi before winter's over.

Phoebe sez, "I'm mad at you, Mommy! You unplugged my heating pad!!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

making a list, checking it twice

Like Santa, I am busy making lists and checking things off.

1. Bake - so far 6 doz butter tarts, 8 doz chocolate crinkle cookies (hubby helped because my hands were too hot to roll the cookies), 6 doz cranberry choc chip cookies, and 8 doz pecan choc chip cookies (2 doz were immediately scarfed by my quilting group). We've got two more batches of cookies to make - gingerbread and either sugar cookies or shortbread.

2. Take pictures of Ricky snoozing in the sunshine:

3. Decorate house - done!!!

4. Knit cowls

Pattern: Swirling Petals Cowl by Casandra Roberts (Ravelry link only)
Yarn: 1 skein Mirasol Tupa (50g; 137 yds)
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: Used thinner yarn so cast on 96 sts (added extra repeat)

My last (official) cowl is on the needles and pretty close to being finished. I should knit a few extra non-scratchy ones but I'm cowl'd out. I also knit a cable cowl for a class that I'm teaching but I forgot to take a picture of it so I'll blog about it later when I have pics and the pattern written up.

5. Wrap presents
So very very far behind on this one. Only 3 presents have been wrapped because I had to get them in the mail. The others are still languishing in a heap upstairs.

6. Christmas cards
Ditto. Don't even know which storage bin the cards are in.

7. Clean up the house
It looks like the Christmas hurricane has blown through and left a ton of wrapping paper, tape, gifts, and storage bins (now empty because everything is all over the house). So the house needs a major clean up not just because it's a maze to get to the laundry room but it turns out we'll likely be housing my parents-in-law for the holidays. MIL called earlier this week and Christmas is cancelled at their place. They live way in the Rockies and it seems that their water source has dried up and/or frozen solid. Since any precipitation is falling as snow, they essentially have to wait for spring thaw before running water is restored.

8. Install Phoebe's heating pad

She loves it and sleeps on it all the time. Thankfully, I got it just before this latest cold snap. She's definitely not as stiff. I would like to get her a cushy cat bed to go with the heater. Ricky hasn't discovered the heating pad so there haven't been any fights over who gets to sleep on it.

Ricky sez, "Who needs heat when I've got sunshine"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

never doing that again aka I should know better

I've been busy busy trying to get a jump on Christmas shopping. I slogged through two major malls early this week and I'm done shopping. The only person that I haven't bought anything for is my Dad. He is so hard to buy for. I really don't know what to get him. It doesn't help that it's also his birthday next week.

I taught a cowl class last weekend and I brought some of my cowls to demonstrate the different patterns available. The students tried them on and some were deemed 'scratchy'. I'm not that sensitive to wool but now I'm realizing that some people are so I'm digging out my wool/silk and wool/cotton yarns to make some non-scratchy cowls.

Pattern: Ashford Cowl by Nicola Faull (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Cascade Sierra; col 16; 1 skein (191 yds; 100g)
Needle: 5mm Addis
Note: I didn't do the scalloped edging.

Pattern: Abstract Leaves Cowl by Deb Mulder (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Mirasol Cotonani; col 406 Tangerine; 1.6 skeins (90 yds per 50g skein)
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: Used larger needles & thicker yarn. Cast on 90 sts.

Surprise, the sun came out briefly and there was a cat sitting by the window. Time for a cat'n cowl picture:

Phoebe let me know how much she hates cowls (click to embiggen):

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pooling Rivulets Stole pattern

Dear Dotty, yes, it's been an awfully long time since I last blogged. But I swear I've been knitting, and here's another free pattern to prove it!

I last left you with this sneak peek photo — Wollmeise 100% yarn in the Okzident colourway.

Well, it's now turned into this pretty little stole.

(Note: If you're new to the pooling technique, please read the first pattern in this series to get a good idea of how to figure out where your yarn will pool.)

Using an "e" or backwards loop cast-on, cast on 84 stitches onto a US7 needle. Please see my previous posts about figuring out your own "magic number" for your tension on the needles you've chosen. For this pattern, it's pretty easy to subtract pairs of edge stitches if you need to use fewer stitches to get the pooling to happen. (Some people also cast on a couple of extra stitches for the garter rows, and then do a k2together to lose them when they get into the pattern rows. It all depends on your individual stitch tension.)

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Start working with the chart below. The stitches in yellow are your garter edging. My edging had 5 stitches in it, but your edging will be different depending on your stitch tension, so please add or subtract stitches as you need to.

(Click on the chart to get it in a larger, more printable size.)

End with a Row 11 or a Row 23.

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Bind off very loosely using a sewn bindoff, to maintain the pooling.

Block and pin out the stole. Wear it and get lots of comments and questions about where you got it, and "wow, did you make that yourself?"

I find this one to be totally hypnotizing to look at. The colours pooled perfectly with the waves.

And of course, here's a shot of the whole thing. Thank goodness for the Ott Lite you bought for me, Dotty. It was such a horrible, rainy day today that without it, I wouldn't have gotten any photos at all!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

another cowl or two

Curses! This winter weather stinks. I wanted to show you a coupla really cute duckie washcloths that I made as birthday presents but the pictures are horrible. So you'll just have to use your imagination.

::insert picture of cute washcloths here::

Pattern: Puddles & Quacking Up! by Elaine Fitzpatrick
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter cotton in Pale Yellow
Needles: 5mm Addis

I'm still cranking out the cowls.

Pattern: Windshield Loose Lacy Neckwarmer by Lisa Ashton
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia; 1 skein (100g; 174yds) in col 7143 (darker teal than the pic shows)
Needle: 5mm Addis
Notes: Used a heavier yarn and larger needles than the pattern calls for. Cast on 90 sts.

Pattern: Abstract Leaves Cowl by Deb Mulder (Ravelry link only)
Yarn: Mirasol Tupa; 1 skein (50g; 137 yds) in col 805
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: Used a heavier yarn and larger needles than the pattern calls for. Cast on 90 sts. This yarn is very soft and shiny. Hard to knit with when my hands are dry so I have to keep a tube of hand lotion close by.

And while teaching a cowl (surprise, surprise) class this morning, I cast on another cowl to demo knitting in the round. The students were using 16" circs but I only had a 32" circ so I did the magic loop thing which confused some of them. So I'm trying to hide the extra cable in my hand and pretend that I'm knitting with a smaller circ. Not that easy to do when I'm holding my knitting above my head.

Only 33 knitting days til Christmas. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

it's a bird, it's a plane, it's a waterfall???

Sunday afternoon, I was driving past my house (after a quickie yarn acquisition trip) and there was water pouring out of our gutter and flowing down the side of the fireplace. Hmmm, not good. I parked and rushed inside to tell hubby to grab his rain gear and get his butt outside. We got the ladder out, etc. Sure enough, the gutters were clogged up. When he unclogged the last bit, water started rushing down the downspout and then the drain tile clogged up. So water was now geysering out the top of the downspout (and raining down on poor me along with the pouring rain). It was too wet to clear out the drain tile so after a quick trip to the hardware store, hubby wielded the hacksaw to insert a diversion at the base of the downspout. The second he cut into it, water started spraying me in the leg. At this point, I couldn't have been any wetter. We got it cut off, screwed the new bits in, and watched the diverted water flood part of my front lawn. Sigh... I ended up hacking off two feet so that the water dumps into my flower bed. BTW, my Gore-Tex coat failed to keep me dry.

This was the reason for my shopping trip:

My LYS got some new sock yarn: sweetgeorgia Tough Love Sock. Squeee! Isn't it gorgeous?

Let's get to some knitting. I have a FO to show you (I actually have more than one but the other two have to wait until they've been gifted).

Pattern: Candle Flame Cowl by Julia Allen (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Berroco Peruvia Colors; col 7210; 1 skein (174 yds; 100g)
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: Made the unlined version. Very fast knit! Love, love this yarn. I need to block and rephotograph it.

And I had to immediately cast on for another one because I desperately need to catch up on my Christmas knitting.

The sun was nice enough to come out for 10 mins so that I could take these photographs. Of course, Ricky was nowhere to be found to model the cowls for me. Maybe he's getting smart...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

another one bites the dust

*sigh* These are 3 years old and I've worn/loved them so much that there's a hole in the heel. Cherry Tree Hill Supersock - one of my all-time favourite sock yarns.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

moving on

The whole mitten fiasco is behind me. I'm not thinking or obsessing about it. I haven't frogged them yet because it's a two person job and I need hubby to help me. And I'm making him help me because it's his fault that his hands are freakishly large. Thanks to everyone for your words of sympathy & encouragement. The idea of sewing up the gusset is a good one but if I take away sts from the gusset, I have to add them to the palm otherwise, the mitten is too small. Curse his big hands!!!

And there was another near knitting tragedy. While rethinking hubby's mittens, I wanted to check something in the Anemoi charts and I couldn't find the PDF on my computer! I looked on both hard drives as well as the backups for the laptop and my old computer - nada. I was very close to having a heart attack. I finally plugged in the Shiny Blue Thing (my name for our external hard drive). I looked through all the backups and finally found it in the March backup of our previous computer. Bad hubby for not restoring all my files.

So moving on... Did you know that there's less than 45 knitting days til Christmas? Yep, it's officially crunch time. I am furiously working on Christmas projects. I finished a cowl yesterday and here's a craptastic picture (really dark yarn on a pouring rain day is really hard to photograph even with an Ott Lite):

Pattern: Turtle Tracks Cowl by Vicki Susan
Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran; col 117; 1 skein plus 4 yds of a second skein
Needles: 5mm Addis
Notes: Major errors in the pattern - only rows 2 & 16 are correct. So very annoying. Lucky for me, I've knit this lace pattern before so all I had to do was pull out the other chart and use that as a reference. If you want to knit this, email me and I'll send you a list of corrections.

ETA: I stand corrected. Vicki has made changes to the original stitch pattern that results in a column of garter stitch rather than a column of rev. stockinette. My apologies for misrepresenting her pattern.

No Ricky cowl picture because there's no natural light left in this part of the world (til next April). I immediately cast on another cowl.

The yarn is Berroco Peruvia Colors. I am using the same yarn but the unpainted version for the Mondo Cable Cardi. There is quite a difference between the two even though they're both Peruvia. The dyed version is very similar to Malabrigo.

I will officially start Christmas shopping tomorrow when hubby and I head out to a huge Christmas market. It's all about high end handmade items. I haven't told hubby yet but a local dyer will be there selling yarn (and her handwoven shawls & capes). I'm pretty sure that I'll buy yarn from her.

Phoebe sez, "I want bigger cat furniture for Christmas"

Friday, November 6, 2009


It has been a tragic knitting week for me. I got my first hand knit hole:

I am very sad. The hole isn't too big and I still have some yarn so I can repair the heel. But the yarn is so soft (lots of cashmere) that they probably won't hold up for too long. Sigh...

Here is the second tragedy:

I started the thumb and it's too big.

No amount of fiddling will make it right. The gusset is the right length but the opening is too big. These have to be frogged and reknit. I am so disappointed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I know better

... than to sleep on my back because Phoebe will walk all over me. She will stand on my stomach and survey the lay of the bed and finding no other flat spot, she'll flop down and purr so loudly that it will wake me up (not that it makes a difference since I'm already awake from 12lbs of pointy paws pressing on my belly). And when I try to suck in a breath to restore some oxygen to my body, she will jump off my gut rendering me even more breathless.

... than to go to Costco when I'm hungry. I bought $40 worth of cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches anyone?

... than to buy a huge box of Halloween candy. The doorbell rang 3 times for a total of 7 trick-or-treaters. Now I have to finish off the leftover candy. Darn!

... than to expect the cats to understand the end of daylight savings. The phrase, "It's not time to feed you" is met with plaintive meows of hunger even if I do drag my butt out of bed at 6am.

... than to play Xbox games right before I go to bed. Talk about wicked dreams.

... than to leave any food on the kitchen counter. Ricky will find it the 30 seconds that I'm gone and eat it. He should be sick in 3, 2, 1.

... than to ignore the part of my brain that says these socks look wrong. I had hubby put them on his size 13 feet and they fit. The socks are supposed to fit size 10 feet. So I had to rip back both toes and reknit.

Pattern: standard top down sock
Yarn: ONline Supersocke 6 ply; colour Cottage 1080; 1 skein (150g/410 yds)
Needles: 2.75mm dpns

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Ricky sez, "Who is this strange and furry creature? And why do I have the urge to run away?"

PS. No cats were harmed in the taking of this picture. Pooh might've suffered some damage...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

brown penguin

Despite my best intentions, the mittens are not done. Hubby's birthday has come & gone and I still have at least half a mitten left to knit.

If you look on the palm of the first mitten, you can see a glaring boo boo. I'll have to duplicate stitch over it because I don't feel like ripping back.

If you decode the left palm, it says, "Hello World!". If you don't understand the significance of the phrase, Wikipedia has an excellent explanation. Hubby picked it, not me. What a geek! When I started the second mitten I decided to encode my own message into the palm. Hee hee!

My MIL returned home late last week so things have been getting back to normal. I finally delivered the Anemoi mittens to their new owner. Sadly, she was asleep with a bad cold so I handed the mittens over to her husband. He put them on and noted that they fit. Hmmm, she'll have to make sure he doesn't steal them!

After I dropped off the mittens, I treated myself to a little yarn therapy. The LYSes really were on the way home!

The red skein is some sort of Fleece Artist/Handmaiden sock yarn. I think it might be sea wool. The two skeins of Kauni are the same colour eventhough they don't look the same. And the big white blob is undyed Dream in Color Smooshy which will probably be used for more fair isle. Can you tell that I'm hooked?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pooling diamonds and fall leaves

It's fall, the season of pumpkins, pumpkin pie, turkey dinner (we've already had our Thanksgiving dinner here in Canada) and, of course, lots of knitting!

Andrew and I went to the pumpkin patch with his Grade 1 class. This photo was taken when the rain had taken a brief intermission down to a light mist. About 10 minutes after this, the skies opened, and the wind came on, and we had sideways rain and rain so hard that it actually bounced off the puddles and mud and you had to call it upside down rain. (Yes, we probably have about 50 different terms for wet precipitation in this town.)

And then last night, there was more rain and wind, and when we came out this morning, our cherry tree had dumped half its leaves into the yard. So the boys and I raked up a lot of it, and they had a little bit of a leaping competition. (Andrew won.)

And I've been knitting on another pooling project, so I'm pleased to offer up another pattern. This one's going to Angela in San Francisco. I first met her on Ravelry when I ran out of yarn for my Icarus shawl, and she offered to wind off some for me and send it to me.

She sent me this skein of yarn as a surprise treat for me, so I turned it into a stole and I'm sending it back to her -- and you get a free pattern out of it!

Pooling Diamonds Stole

Here it is on Ravelry!

(Note: If you're new to the pooling technique, please read the first pattern in this series to get a good idea of how to figure out where your yarn will pool.)

Using an "e" or backwards loop cast-on, cast on 83 stitches onto a US7 needle. Please see my previous posts about figuring out your own "magic number" for your tension on the needles you've chosen. For this pattern, it's pretty easy to subtract pairs of edge stitches if you need to use fewer stitches to get the pooling to happen.

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Start working with the chart below. The stitches in yellow are your garter edging. My edging had 3 stitches in it, but your edging will be different depending on your stitch tension, so please add or subtract stitches as you need to.

(Click on the chart to get it in a larger, more printable size.)

End with a Row 9 or a Row 19.

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

Bind off very loosely using a sewn bindoff, to maintain the pooling.

Block and pin out the stole. I added light scallops for interest, though you can also pin it out flat.

(For this project, I used Wollmeise 80/20 Twin yarn in Versuchskaninchen 1. It has a little less yardage than its 100% cousin, so this stole blocked out to almost 5' long, as compared to the almost 6' length that I get from the 100% superwash yarn. But it was worth it to discover that this yarn has a lovely, silky feel to it.)

And here's a sneak peek at my next pooling stole colourway -- Wollmeise 100% in Okzident.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

knitting at the speed of sound

(thanks for the title, P-la)

Hubby's bday is this weekend. My MIL is staying with us this week and there's a bunch of family stuff that I need to do. What are the chances that I'll get the mittens done in time? Anyone wanna guess? Bonus points if you can decode what it says on the palm.

PS. 76 sts on 2.5mm needles; mittens will measure approx. 12" from cuff to finger tip

Friday, October 16, 2009


Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm swatching.

Yes, the unheard of has happened - I must swatch. This is the pattern but I'm using vastly different yarns and needles. These are for hubby and his hands are big enough to palm a basketball. You can see where this is headed. It was easy to adjust the pattern widthwise but I didn't have a clue what my row gauge would be. Normally, this wouldn't be such a big issue but you see, the palm is in binary. What it spells out has to make sense. Sooo, I need to work out exactly how many rows I've got so that I can figure out how many letters and then I can secretly encode a message into the palm (i.e. my birthday so that he never never ever forgets).

BTW, the Wollmeise arrived. That's Single Malt on the left (to match the Ubuntu heron desktop background) and Cascade Heritage Sock on the left. No need to point out that penguins are not brown and white. Hubby picked the colours - not me.

Ricky, "Wha?!?!"