Sunday, 31 October 2010

All Hallow's Eve

Our Hallowe'en decorating this year is quite understated. Basically I have assembled some characters in my 'Pumpkin Patch' in our foyer. I buy a little Beanie or two every year in the fall at a Cracker Barrel in the US. This year's acquisitions were the little Beanie jack o' lantern (left front) and the black bat to the left (look for an orange nose and white fangs). The lovely collage on the wall was a gift from our friend, Terence, who among other things is very artsy.
Skip has scraped out the innards of our pumpkins so I still need to carve my jack o' lantern. I'll be surfing the Internet for a template of some kind.

Yesterday Jennifer asked me what I bought at the Trillium Embroidery Guild's 'garage sale' on Wednesday and I couldn't think of any one specific thing other than some Hardanger and Christmas charts. So here they are...

The one on the top left is an authentic German Hardanger pattern.

Each chart was only a dollar or two!

I liked the variety in the Petals JJ chart, the hearts in the JBW Designs chart, the whimsical Deck the Halls chart and of course, the sheep in the Cricket Collection chart.  Now to make time to do some stitching...

Cat In A Bag!

I have a large-ish paper bag with handles in my office. At one time it was loaded with my booty from the Knitter's Fair. Now, it contains my cat.

Cat In A Bag!
Sometimes he just sits there and has a bit of a vertical nap but usually he's all rolled up in the bottom of it with a paw over his eyes and he's snoring.
He definitely is not an aloof cat.

Yesterday I had a wonderful afternoon at Myrtle Station Wool sitting and knitting with Paula, Yvonne and Elizabeth. It was so nice to catch up on what we've all been up to and think about what projects we might want to knit next.I took my spinning wheel and got the last of my merino superwash plied.

I've been doing quite a bit of spinning and getting used to my new wheel. The two skeins on the left are 100% Corriedale that turned out to be worsted weight. Of the three merino superwash skeins on the right, the two on the right side are between fingering and DK weight - just right for the hat I want to knit. The other one is between DK and worsted.
Today's knitting class went great! Neither of my students had knit Continental style before and they picked it up right away! That makes it so much easier for their Fair Isle knitting because they can 'throw' with the main colour in the right hand and 'pick' with the contrasting colour in the left hand. They also did a great job on the two colour cast-on and we were all very impressed with their first Latvian braids.

We looked at some free patterns I had printed from Ravelry and talked about different applications for Fair Isle/Nordic knitting.We also discussed what techniques they might want me to teach them next. I'm pretty much game for anything, so we'll see.

I'm sure they both spent this evening knitting the rest of the cuff of their mittens and maybe even started in on the palm and back. I look forward to meeting with them again in two weeks to work on picking up the stitches for the thumb and finishing it up.

I got so inspired by their knitting, I started knitting a pair myself. I hope to get them done by the end of the week. No pressure, ha ha.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Sea Lettuce

This evening, I finally finished my Sea Lettuce scarf. I only had one last short row wedge left to do and grafting the edges together and I finally got it done. I used KnitPicks Imagination Hand Painted sock yarn in the Seven Dwarves colourway.
This is slightly closer and gives a bit better idea of the colours. I'll get some better photos tomorrow with the sun shining.

Here's a better idea of the colours after I had just started it.You can clearly see the short row wedges forming the rounded end. I really like how each picot is a different colour with this yarn.
Whilst at Rhinebeck, I saw a Haruni shawl and really liked the look of it. I had always disregarded it because the blocking looked like it would be a big pain in the butt, but the results sure would be worth it.  I'm using my Blue Skies seacell yarn that I hand painted in the summer.
It's a pretty easy knit. Except for the annoying finishing, it would be an excellent beginner pattern as there are only 8 rows in the pattern and it is very easy to memorize. It pretty much looks like a blob right now but I know it will look awesome once it's blocked (if I do say so myself).
This afternoon, Skip and I attended Scooter's all-city cross-country final. He did well last week, third on his team and 30th in the field of over 100. This week the result wasn't quite as good but good enough to make the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) provincial finals on Nov. 6. I'm really pleased I will be able to attend as it is one of the few Saturdays I haven't got something booked this fall.

Here's Scooter in action.

And posing somewhat uncomfortably with his dad,
and his very proud step-mama.  ♥

Monday, 25 October 2010

Traveling Woman

The Traveling Woman Shawl was ready to be released from the pins and blocking wires this morning.
I love the drape of this 100% bamboo fingering weight yarn by Dye-Version. I bought the yarn at the Knitter's Fair in Kitchener back in September.
The colourway is called "Harvest". I liked the autumnal hues and hurried to finish it so I could wear it this week in particular and for the rest of the fall.
I'm determined to get some DK weight yarn spun up. I got about 133 yards spun and plied last night.
It's a merino superwash (I think) from pencil roving I got at The Black Lamb back in September at the Spin In. I need to get another 70 yards done to ensure I have enough for the twisted-stitch hat designed by Meg Swansen that I want to knit.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

"What Goes Up, Must Come Down"

♫"... spinning wheel's got to go round.... ♫"

Yes, indeedy, my Ashford Joy arrived on Friday  morning. It sets up pretty quickly. The flyer is screwed into place with a bobbin on it and the two bobbin spindles swing out and also can serve as a built-in Lazy Kate. I'm still getting used to it but have already spun and plied some 100% Corriedale. The 298yd are worsted weight and will be nice for a small lacy scarf or a hat. My goal is to spin and ply DK weight to knit a twisted stitch hat. Possibly the one in the Fall 2010 Interweave Knits magazine.

In the meantime, I put a push on to finish my Traveling Woman's shawl in the Dye-Versions 100% Bamboo yarn.

Ollie is helping me block it.

I really wanted to get it done and blocked today so I could wear it with a couple of fall/Hallowe'en outfits.

Last Wednesday, I attended this month's Trillium Embroidery Guild meeting. These finished pieces were on display.

One of the ladies also makes cards and has been working on these Christmas ones.

I also walked around and took some shots of pieces that are in progress.

This sampler pattern has many stitches to choose from. It uses #5, #8 and #12 perle cotton.
Cindy is working on a stitch-along. I'm guessing the theme here is Victorian (or thereabouts) ladies.

And there are a couple of Christmas projects that are nearing completion.

The hummingbird is being stitched over one thread!
I continue to work away on a little needle roll but only really work on it during this meeting once a month.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


While on my little holiday last week,  Mo inspired me to do some more hand spinning and I bought a little Jenkins spindle. With it, I've been making laceweight 2ply yarn with the hand painted blue cormo top from Foxhill Farm.

On Sunday night, I finished spinning and plied about 25 yards and tonight I did about 25 more yards - a total of 9g of yarn.
Right now I'm finishing it in its soapy bath to set the twist.

The person who generously loaned me her Louet D75 spinning wheel a year ago has asked for it back. I'm in the middle of spinning some Lorna's Laces roving so I didn't want to be without a spinning wheel for long. I checked the Ravelry Canadian Spinners group and someone in Montreal had a lightly used Ashford Joy and carrying bag for sale for a very reasonable price so I did the deal and it might even get here by Friday. Yay!

I'm quite excited about finally owning my own wheel. The Louet wasn't the greatest for spinning laceweight as it pulled the yarn onto the bobbin no matter how loose I had the tension. I'm sure the Joy will be a better wheel for me. It looks a little industrial as it's made out of plywood but it folds up and has a carrying bag for easy portability.

With all that fibre I bought at Rhinebeck, I'll be able to get it spun up in no time if I keep at it.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Rhinebeck 2010

Not every knitter or spinner gets an opportunity to attend the New York Sheep and Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY. It has been held the third full weekend of October for the past 31 years. Come along with me while I recount my activities at this year's 'Rhinebeck Adventures'.

Last Thursday, Mo and I set out for the 2010 NY Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck (site of Chelsea Clinton's wedding in August). It is about an 8 hour drive. Our friend, Marion, was unable to accompany us this year as she was under the weather, so it was just the two of us and Johann, Mo's comfortable and economical fuel-wise 2010 VW Jetta TDI.

Mo was signed up for a hand spindling class on Friday morning. The plan was for me to drop her off and then I'd entertain myself in the quaint town of Rhinebeck for the morning and pick her up at noon. However, Thursday evening, on my way to bed, I whacked my foot into the leg of a chair in the motel room. Ouch! When I took a look at my foot, my 4th and pinkie toes were about 30 degrees out of their normal alignment. I thought the 4th toe might just be dislocated so I attempted to push it back into place and heard a crackling sound. Even at that, the 4th toe wouldn't line up properly so I knew I'd be seeking medical attention the next day.

I called my travel medical insurance people the next morning and informed them of my dilemma and they gave me the names and addresses of several hospitals in the area that I could go to. After dropping Mo off, I decided to go to the Rhinebeck hospital rather than drive back across the bridge across the Hudson River back to Kingston, NY where our motel was.

I programmed the GPS with the address I had been given for the Northern Dutchess Hospital and when it said it was 200m away, I thought it was a mistake. However, I followed the GPS directions and took a left out of the fairgrounds and immediately saw the hospital on the right. There was convenient and free parking reserved for the emergency room. I entered the emergency room at about 9am and was the only person there. I went right into the triage room where I was immediately registered and assigned to Room 1. There was a telephone there that I could use to call my travel medical insurance people again to update them and get the address where the hospital could send the bill. I had to hang up quickly as Dan arrived to take me for my xrays. Shortly thereafter, I was updating my Facebook status with the free Wifi that was available at the hospital. Then the very cute, VERY young doctor came in to tell me my 4th toe was indeed broken in two places and the only treatment was to tape it to the adjacent toe. 

To this point I had only been at the hospital for 30 minutes! I did have to wait 20 min. for the crutches they thought I needed and to get the instructions for my treatment, recovery and followup. By 10 am I was enjoying a half skinny vanilla decaf latte at Samuel's in downtown Rhinebeck with my foot up and tapping a further Facebook update on my iPod Touch.

After I retrieved Mo from her class, we went for lunch and decided to just go back to the motel, get my foot elevated and do some serious knitting and spinning.

The next morning, I decided to ditch the crutches as they were a real hindrance and I was able to walk without much pain (thanks to the Advil). My running shoes had a very ample toe box and did not put any pressure on my broken toe or its buddy the middle toe.

We arrived before 8:30 for the 9am opening and stood in line with the other eager, earlybirds. The key is to get a close parking spot so it is easy to unload one's booty at least once during the day.
First in line was Laurie from The Black Lamb and Cindy. In the half an hour or so before the gates opened up, all these people lined up behind us.

There was lots to see. Lots of lovely yarn. And some very unique sheep. These are Babydolls - miniature sheep that would be perfect for an orchard or yard. They like to eat weeds but won't hurt trees or shrubs. I don't think the Town of Whitby would approve of one of these in my back yard.
I took this picture of a Gotland sheep for my friend, Jody, who aspires to attend the festival next year.
At lunch, I met up with my Rowdy Girl friend, MaryAnne who lives in Baldwinsville, NY and who made her way to Rhinebeck with a couple of knitting and Ravelry friends.

We enjoyed some lamb chili prepared and sold by the 4H Club. Then we went to the Ravelry meetup where I spotted some celebrities. First, I spotted Sarah (in red) and Casey (in green).
Then Jess (in black) arrived, as did Gudrun Johnston, the redhead facing her. I have no idea why I recognized Gudrun - my sub-conscious must have remembered her face from my frequent Ravelry surfing.
And here's Isolde Teague (centre) and Laura Chau's back (in orange). 
I then went over to Carolina Handspun where I said hello to Rachael Herron, who was there signing and selling her newly-published first novel, "How to Knit a Love Song".  I told her I had been a reader of her blog, Yarnagogo, for several years and had tearfully followed the saga of her cat, Digit, who went missing for several months. She told me she has a non-fiction book coming out next year and I'd enjoy reading about Digit in it.

Mo and I met up again at 3pm to assess our situation and decided we had indeed seen everything and bought everything we could possibly need or want. If we went back to the motel, we'd never go out again so we decided to kill time in downtown Rhinebeck, have dinner, and make our way to the Ravelry party which was to begin at 6:30pm.

We found a table at Village Pizza, a popular spot for local families. We had ice cream and drinks and spent a couple of hours spinning yarn with our new drop spindles. Here, Mo is enjoying a Stella and showing off the new yarn she created.
I had bought a 19g/0.59oz. Jenkins Turkish drop spindle and was pleased at the opportunity to try it out and get off my feet for a while.

At about 5pm we had dinner there and then at about 6 set the GPS for the Elks Lodge in Red Hook where the Ravelry party was to take place. We got stuck in the traffic near the fairgrounds but traffic officers kept things moving. Earlier in the day we were fortunate to have exited the fairgrounds from the back way (Mulberry St.)  or we would still have been sitting in the lineup to exit the fairgrounds 2 hours later.

When we arrived at the Elks Lodge, we were directed down the street and just followed the cars to the elementary school a couple of kilometres away where there was plenty of parking and boarded the shuttle bus to the party. The bus (and there was only one) arrived every 15 minutes to load up another 48 passengers to take them to the party. About an hour later, we finally made it to the front of the lineup and got to the party.

There, we were greeted personally by Jess (Ravelry creator), who thanked us for coming and encouraged us to please enjoy the bar, food and bonfire. Mo and I picked up our Ravelry goodie bags and found a couple of chairs. There were party tents set up and lots of tables and chairs. There were also heaters which kept things quite toasty. It wasn't a very cold night and there was no wind so sitting outside was quite pleasant. After a bathroom visit, we realized we were quite pooped and knitting in the warm motel room in our jammies sounded like a really good idea so we boarded the next bus back to the parking lot and made our way back to the motel in Kingston with all our loot.

This was the commemorative goodie bag.

and therein contained was all this (click to 'embiggen').

Back at the motel we spread out our new acquisitions on our beds and I took a couple of photos. This was Mo's stuff.

which included 5 drop spindles of varying weights - including two Goldings.
This was my pile.
One of the first things I bought was a lucet which, according to Wikipedia, "is a tool used in cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking and Medieval periods, when it was utilized to create cords that were used on clothing, or to hang useful items from the belt. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool." The lady at the booth said she makes her husband's sturdy shoe laces with it.
I had previously watched a YouTube video on the subject so was quite intrigued to actually see them for sale. 
I was thrilled to find the long awaited (for me) book, "Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders", which hadn't even been released yet.
and even more thrilled that the author was there to sign my copy!
I scored a couple of skeins of  mohair/cormo blend yarn in a rich pumpkin colour from Buckwheat Bridge Angoras.
This 100% laceweight cashmere set me back a few dollars but I couldn't pass it up. It's not as orangey-red as the photo shows.
And I couldn't leave the booth without these two skeins of qiviuk (qiviut) blend from Windy Valley Muskox in Alaska.
Speaking of laceweight, this 100g ball of yarn has over 1800 yards - that's more than a mile of yarn, Baby! The people at this booth were the ones who loaned "the" Orenburg shawl to the Textile Museum of Canada and that Mo and I visited in the summer.

I found this hand-painted handspun in a sale bin from Dorchester Farms in Dorchester, MA. Who could pass that up?
Then there was the fibre. I bought a couple of bags of cormo top from Foxhill Farm in Lee, MA,
And a 5.4 oz. bag of nice squishy alpaca top from Staghorn Valley Alpacas.

I had a nice chat with the gal at Loop Fibre Studio. Her stock was running low and she told me she was going to be pulling an all-nighter to prepare more rolls for the next day. She had only found out 10 days before that she had a booth at The Festival and was REALLY lucky to get a booth inside the Horticulture Building.

 Her centre-pull, self-striping rolls of fibre were comprised of random fibres in striking colours.
She said she'd just check off the contents as she packaged each roll from her carder.
Each roll had a unique, descriptive name. I'm sure she would have sold out the next day.

Ever the lazy spinner, I snagged some inexpensive pencil roving - 4oz in each bag
and some llama fibre that was on sale. It smells very 'llama-ish' but I'm sure it will spin up nicely and will love a bath in some scented Soak.
Yesterday we drove part of the way home to Watertown, NY and went on a bit of a shopping spree at Target (which we Canadians pronounce 'tar-jay' - as if it were a French word). I spun up some more of the hand-painted cormo and then plied it during "Mad Men". It  certainly is laceweight. I need to make it into a little skein and pet it a little.

This is what my foot looked like yesterday.

It's still a bit swollen and the bruising has gone over past the middle toe and has darkened but I'm pain free, even without taking any Advil today at all and am keeping my fingers crossed that all is healing normally. Am I ever glad I gave myself a pedicure before this trip.

I got home at about 1pm today.

Does anyone need a pair of shiny new, hardly-used crutches?