Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm melting

Wow! It is seriously too hot (34C on Wed & Thurs and setting new temperature records) to do anything. I've got a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening for chores and the rest of the day is spent downstairs in front of a fan watching TV. So far, I've watched Coraline and season 2 of Pushing Daisies. I've also been surfing the net. Here are two cool things: Catcerto and Maru videos on YouTube.

My garden is suffering, too. I've pulled my hanging baskets down and they're in the shade now. My begonias on the shaded front porch are wilting even with twice daily waterings. I am worried that my new maple tree will fry.

I've been trying to keep the cats cool - pointing fans at them as much as I can. Ricky was looking very wilted this evening so I picked him up and put him in front of fan that was blowing over a block of ice. He stayed put for quite awhile and his ears felt much cooler when he jumped down.

Today is much cooler and I finally got some knitting done.

Pattern: Ivy's Cowl by Misty Wade (Ravelry download only)
Yarn: Rowan Rowanspun Aran; 1 skein; col 973 red
Needles: 5mm circs
Notes: I probably have enough yarn for another repeat of the chart. Another Christmas cowl done - check!

As you can see, Ricky was less than co-operative with the photo shoot. He was kinda hoping I'd feed him supper instead of stuffing him into a wooly cowl.

Ricky sez, "I have escaped the dreaded cowl! Time for a snooze."

Monday, July 27, 2009

what I did on my summer vacation

Here is a cute picture of the nieces towing uncle around by his sandals. He was sitting in a floatie (which you can't see because he was a little over the weight limit) and they thought it was fun pulling him around.

I read a whole book and started a sock.

Tom Holt is very funny and you can see the British humour poking through. As usual, the plot is twisty and almost demands a second read if you didn't get it the first time. The sock is a potential Christmas present. I'm going to steal an idea from Sharon - knit the leg & most of the foot. When you need a gift, whip it out and rip/knit the foot & toe. Voila - a finished pair in one evening.

One morning, we headed into town to buy more food and I stopped in at the quilt store.

I got this great applique kit, one of the new metal tipped rubber thimbles, and a little sock yarn (the store has a small yarn corner).

I've mostly recovered from the sewage backup disaster. After the plumber left, I had to wash out the laundry room because the clean-out access point for the main line is located there. Pulling the snake out caused a bit of a mess. I'm glad we had a clean-out otherwise, he would've pulled a toilet off and gone down that way thus generating a much bigger mess. The plumber found roots, grease, and lots of hair. There's nothing much we can do about the roots but we need to be more vigilant about putting grease in the garbage and keeping my hair out of the shower drain.

Today is a scorcher. 20C/70F when I woke up at 6:30am. I think it's around 32C/90F right now. It's one of those days where I wish I had air conditioning in the car. The poor kitties are hot, too. I haven't dunked them in water yet but I put a fan on the floor and they have been flopping in front of it. All this heat means that my Rose of Sharon shrubs are blooming earlier than expected. This one is Blush Satin.

This one is a double called Bluebird.

Only 10 more days til Sock Summit!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I need a vacation

I'm back from a week of camping. It was hot and lots of fun. We rode wave runners again and this time, my 7 year old niece wanted to drive. At one point, she yanked on the throttle and nearly knocked hubby off because he wasn't hanging on. She's quite the speed demon! I'll post pictures when I get around to yanking them off the camera.

In the meantime, I'm busy looking for a used SUV. Hubby's Jeep died on the driveway just before we left. I'm thankful that it croaked before we took it camping with us. And there's a plumber in the laundry room with a 100 foot snake running through our main drain. There's a clog somewhere and sewage is backing up into our downstairs shower. Very smelly and very icky. It's sooo hot & humid, I need a shower, and driving to the gas station to pee is making me a little crazy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christmas in July

I never knit 6 rounds of the Anemoi mitten chart. I never found out on the 7th round that I "lost" 4 sts somewhere. I never spent time trying to figure out where those 4 sts are. I never ripped apart 6 rounds of stranded sticky shetland yarn because I never knit them. I will deny any involvement. Luckily, the cats won't tattle on me.

I'm taking a break from Anemoi knitting. A looooong break. In between a little sock knitting and a lot of frogging, I started my Christmas knitting.

Pattern: Ridged Lace Cowl by Elinor Brown
Yarn: Hempwol(65% wool, 35% hemp); one skein in colour Riviera (#46)
Needles: 5mm Addi Turbo circ
Notes: The yarn is a bit sheddy and as expected, the hemp feels rough. The yarn had some definite thick & thin spots.

One down and many more to go. I immediately cast on another cowl.

The next one is red. I think the blue one looks better on Ricky, don't you?

Ricky sez, "What is this thing?!?!?!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

flora & fauna

Playing around with my new camera - a Nikon Coolpix S560. I love my old camera (also a Nikon Coolpix) but the battery door is a little broken.

Some gorgeous red begonias that I grew from corms:

An active beehive on the front lawn:

I think it fell out of the big maple tree. Not sure how I'm going to get rid of it. I can't leave it there.

A pretty dragonfly in my garden:

Friday, July 10, 2009

cuff me

Look - it's more than 9 rounds of knitting.

I knit the last few rounds of the cuff at knit night. The next instruction said to switch to larger needles. Hmmm - I didn't bring the larger needles with me. Doh!

I've been doing a bunch of other knitting - a heel flap and an un-grafted toe. Neither of these are attached to a sock. They're for a sock knitting class that I'll be teaching in Aug. I've been getting my samples knit for the class and getting my notes typed up.

Gladys (Queen of the pooling stoles) managed to snag me some Wollmeise yarn.

It's fingering in the colour Arlene. Isn't it great? I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. I have a plan for for the yarn but it's a secret :)

My sister and the nieces came by the house yesterday afternoon. The girls didn't want to leave so my sister left without them. Eeek! We spent the afternoon playing in the backyard - they went crazy with the sidewalk chalk, bubble blowing stuff, a horseshoe set, and some Winnie the Pooh parachute toys.

I fed them supper and we watched the Little Mermaid while we waited for Uncle to come home from work. The movie finished so we took Ricky for a walk. The little one complained that Ricky is slow. LOL!

They wanted to stay overnight but I decided to drive them back to my Dad's place. Hubby needed time to get organized and packed. He and Tony (plus many others from their cycling club) will be joining thousands of other cyclists as they ride from Seattle to Portland this weekend. I hope they have fun!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

wash cat

The Anemoi mittens are kicking my butt. I had to rip out half the cuff when I realized that I made a big boo boo. I thought I'd have some pictures to post but 9 rows of knitting really isn't that exciting.

My nieces have arrived for a fun filled week of harassing their Auntie - me. They're actually staying with my Dad so I can escape to my own home at the end of the day. We took them out for dim sum this morning and they were so crazy at the restaurant.

My sewing room is still a disaster. I've pulled out about 5 garbage bags full of stuff plus one old computer tower (that doesn't actually have any computer bits in it) which belongs to hubby. I've installed a new shelving unit for the new computer. The wall shelf idea isn't going to work without some major construction so that's a problem because I need to get stuff off my desk to make room for the monitor to swing in & out. I probably need to throw more stuff out.

Ricky sez, "I know that I'm not supposed to sleep in the wash tub but I'm washing!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pooling Streams Stole pattern

I finished this pooling stole last night, and I love love love it! There's an amazing match of the colour of the yarn and the pattern repeat, which is making me think that I really need to swatch out my future yarns and then match the pattern to the yarn colours as they pool.

I've gotten so many wonderful comments about this stole on Ravelry already that I'm rushing the pattern into "print"!

Pooling Streams Stole Pattern
Yarn: Wollmeise 100% superwash, in the Tants colourway.
Pattern: Japanese Feather, from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury.

Using an "e" or backwards loop cast-on, cast on 86 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.

Begin chart as pictured below. Row number 1 is the back side.

A tip: Most knitters have a very different tension between their purl rows and their knit rows – my purl rows use up a lot more yarn than my knit rows, so I found myself purling tighter to maintain the pooling. To get around this, I put a US 7 needle on one end of my interchangeable needles, for my knit/lace rows, and a US 6 needle on the other end, for my purl rows.

Please note that I haven't charted the odd-numbered rows, to save space. All odd-numbered rows are the same as Row 1.

The pattern repeat is all of the stitches between the ones highlighted in yellow, except for the final pattern repeat, where you omit the stitch that's highlighted in blue. Don't forget that the edge stitches are garter stitch, so when you knit the back, the first and final five stitches are always knit, not purl.

End with a Row 4 or a Row 18.

Knit garter stitch for 6 rows.

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

And here's a close-up of the stole!

As I was knitting up the stole, I debated a few pattern modifications, as I've charted below. One of the really nice things about this stole pattern is the zig-zagging movement of the yarn, and the purl stitch at the edge of the pattern repeat serves to strongly accentuate that shape. You could double that purl stitch and remove edging stitches, as I've charted below.

Also, if you don't like the strong horizontal bar which separates the zig and the zag sections of the stole, you could omit rows 4-5 and 18-19, I've marked "optional" in the chart below.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fairy Leaves Pooling Stole pattern

I have another pooling stole pattern to share with you!

To start, here's a glimpse of my process. When I'm trying to decide on how to pool a handpainted yarn, first I unwind it, and then I try to decide what order I'd like to knit up the pattern into.

This is a skein of's extra fine merino, in the Fairy Garden colourway. (She seems to have changed the yarn put-up since I bought this skein from her. It used to come in 575 yard, 150 gram skeins, but now they're 384 yards and 100 grams.) This pattern uses up almost the entire 575 yards of yarn, so if you want to use the same yarn, you'll have to catch it on a Ravelry destash or just buy two skeins and make a slightly longer stole.

I've doodled on the photo so you can see where I started casting on. I had two choices, both starting in the middle of the darker blue part of the skein. I could have a stole that went Blue-lime-pink-blue-pink-lime-blue, or I could go the other way, and have it be Blue-pink-lime-blue-lime-pink-blue.

I went for the former option, because I wanted the greeny-yellow colour to be closer to the edge, and not in the middle of the stole.

Fairy Leaves Pooling Stole Pattern

The pattern chart (click to make it bigger) is the Falling Leaves stitch pattern from Traditional Knitted Shawls. I've added two stitches of garter border to each edge. I thought that a leaf pattern would be a perfect complement to a colourway called "Fairy Garden."

Beginning in the appropriate place in your yarn, cast on 80 stitches using the "e" or backwards loop cast-on with a US 7 needle. Depending on your gauge, you may want to go up or down a needle size or two.

Knit 6 rows loosely in garter stitch.

A tip: Most knitters have a very different tension between their purl rows and their knit rows – my purl rows use up a lot more yarn than my knit rows, so I found myself purling tighter to maintain the pooling. To get around this, I put a US 7 needle on one end of my interchangeable needles, for my knit/lace rows, and a US 6 needle on the other end, for my purl rows. In the future, I might actually cast on and do the first few garter stitch rows with a US 8 needle, and move to a US 7/6 combination once I get to the lace pattern. Do make sure to swatch a few rows so that you know what your own gauge is, so that you're not surprised when you figure out your needle size.

Begin chart. There are two stitches for the garter stitch edging, and then two setup stitches, the 10-stitch pattern repeat, four stitches to end the pattern, and two final stitches for the garter stitch edging.

Finish with either a row 7 or a row 15.

Knit 6 rows of garter stitch. Cast off very loosely, using the sewn bindoff, to maintain the pooling throughout the bindoff row.

And here's a photo of the completed stole. The final length was a little over 6 feet, and the final width was about 18 inches. (If you use two skeins of the new put-up of this yarn, that will probably be around 8 feet, or whenever you decide to stop your knitting.)

catching up

I am finally catching up on a bunch of things. Like gardening. Yanked out some knee high weeds this morning. Got about 2 hours of work done before it got too hot. It's going to be close to 30C/90F today.

A bunch of new yarns seem to have entered the house. I got 2 skeins of Panda Silk as a birthday present from Angela. She and I also drove down to Bellingham yesterday to shop at Apple Yarns. That's where I bought all Cascade Heritage sock yarn (for heels/toes/stripes). On the right is a skein of Harrisville Shetland Flax & Wool that I bought from Maiwa on Canada Day.

I spent most of last evening cleaning out my sewing room in preparation for the new computer. I have 3 garbage bags full of fabric to give away, one bag of garbage garbage, and another bag of recycling. Some fabric hit me on the head while I was cleaning up so I still have lots. It's still a disaster but I hope to make enough room for a small shelf so that the CPU doesn't sit on the floor (and suck up all the fabric lint). I also need to move stuff off the wall to make room for my fancy schmancy monitor arm (a bday present from hubby - it costs more than the monitor) and clear off a shelf for the new printer and my scanner.

I cast on the Anemoi mittens yesterday. Out of the 18 rounds that I've knit, only 9 are usable. I blame the heat for affecting my brain cells. It is not fun undoing stranded knitting especially when the yarn is sticky shetland. But I'm back on track and the ribbing looks like ribbing rather than something else.

Phoebe sez, "I'm melting".

Friday, July 3, 2009

so sad

It was my birthday yesterday and it was a sad day. In the morning, I grabbed the phone to call the vet and check on the cat that I dropped off on Monday when I spotted an email from the family. The poor kitty didn't make it. I cried on the phone when I called the cat's regular vet to give them the news. The family is heartbroken. We miss you Beau Jangles.