Sunday, May 14, 2023

How Many Projects are Too Many Projects?

I have been busy. Very busy. And working on lots of things that I cannot share here for a while.

One hooking project is for a children's book and an exhibition tour. Another hooking project is a theme piece for my the rug school in Newfoundland in the middle of August. I am also working on a portrait that I will take there with me, so I can't really show that either. 

And I am writing a third instalment on the series "Artists We Love to Hook" for the OHCG magazine, fall issue. This issue title is "Kids and Grandkids", any my daughter Everleigh was so excited she drew me a picture of Alice the Rainbow Giraffe specifically for that article. Again, I cannot yet share.

So what can I share? Well, I attended a baby shower last weekend and finished knitting a special gift for the wee one. It's a stroller/play blanket from a book called "Knit a Monster Nursery" by Rebecca Danger. It's a book I have had for at least a decade if not longer, and when I found out the nursery theme is grey (since they don't know the gender), I remembered this adorable blanket. 

It was a hit!! The mom-to-be is thrilled and when I said I had yarn left over to make a couple more monsters, she was very excited. The baby isn't due for a few weeks, so I think I have time to do at least one more, if not one for every pocket.

I also just finished a sweater that took longer than it should have, since it was constantly being interrupted by other projects. This sweater is called DAA (Don't Ask Again) and was an interesting knit. Today I will be adding the buttons, which I found in my jar of old buttons.
Yesterday, there was a fibre festival here in Peterborough and I can THIS close to going, but realized that I have so many projects in my queue, I certainly could wait until next year to go. I picked this sweater up again after setting it aside last fall. It is recycled cotton from another project and is definitely more a summer garment.  It is called Bijou Tee, has a lace panel you can wear in front or back.  I am worried I may not have enough yarn, so will let you know how that goes. 

Last week, I did a swatch text for Pressed Flower Cardigan which has been on my wish list since I first saw it. I was planning to use some yarn from the sweater that I deconstructed in a previous post, together with some of sister Nancy's stash. But both yarns are too fine to get gauge. So I guess I will have to get other yarn for it at some point. (Maybe next year's fiber festival lol).

In the meantime, I have two full sweaters waiting. A black and white cotton one - I have this pattern in mind but will have to check gauge and quantity of wool.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Spring is Sprung - well, maybe!

My sweater from the last post is done and well worn. I am extremely happy with it. This is the mirror selfie that I shared on social media, but forgot to share here. I wasn't sure if I had anything that would go with it, but it turns out I do. And it is perfect with denim, so I am good to go. 

Not all sweaters have such a happy ending. Once in a while I either have picked the wrong yarn for a pattern, or the wrong pattern for the yarn. And sometimes it takes more than a couple of tries to get it right.

I shared a post a few years ago about some Madeline Tosh Vintage yarn that had two incarnations before I got it right. And even then, I had to shorten the vest that is now in a regular rotation in my wardrobe. 

Another sweater kept reminding me that it was not my favourite as I passed it over - over and over again - in favour of something else. Since the original yarn had cost a fortune, I decided to try yet again to make it into something that I would love.  (Here's the original post and I am shocked that it says 2010!! This poor yarn is a teenager).

Deconstructing a sweater is a tedious and extremely time-consuming proposition. And this is the second time for this yarn- OK, it is a bit excessive, but I feel like I owe it to the yarn, and it is the ultimate re-use, recycle project. 

Ravelling a sweater back takes hours - and hours - and hours. I think I started in the fall and then stuffed it away because it was taking too long. But yesterday, thanks to Tanis Lavalee, I was reminded of a pattern that would/should/will be perfect fo the third time for this wool. It is called Tensile. The designer is Emily Green, and you can find it here

It has a lovely open (easy, according to the reviews) lacework, and is perfect of layering and will be lovely if spring really has sprung.

Here's a recap of what I have done and where I am now: (with a few images for visual interest)

  • take sweater apart, which means cutting off the neck and cuffs
  • ravel all the yarn into very kinky balls, dealing with all the knots you encounter
  • resist the urge(s) to throw it away, or at least hide it
  • use your swift to wind the very kinky balls into skeins to soak

  • soak the skeins to remove the kinks - the many, MANY kinks 

Are you tired yet? Cuz there are still a couple more steps before it is ready to knit again.
  • put the (hopefully) kink-free skeins on towels to squeeze out most of the water
  • hang the skeins on a drying rack to dry
  • put the skeins on the swift and spin into cakes
  • cross your fingers and hope to heck that you have enough yarn for the pattern.
Keep in mind that all of this is happening while I am a third of the way through another sweater. Am I totally insane? Well, yes, but I have been having trouble with an arthritis flare in my big finger on my left hand, so decided to give it a little break from knitting and hooking. Going through this exercise is using completely different muscles, including the patience one. lol.

If this third time isn't the charm, I will stop. I won't even make socks with this yarn. Our affair will be over.

But I am the eternal optimist and hoping that Tensile is the right choice for this old, lovely yarn. 

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Old Dog, New Tricks

I knit my first cardigan when I was 12. I remember it was a Patons variegated yarn, in a kind of raspberry colour. I remember it had raglan sleeves, and a v-neck. When I was finished knitting it, I had a back, two fronts and two sleeves. Then I realized that I had knit two right fronts. My mother said I would have to ravel the second one, and knit a left front. But, I decided to improvise. 

I sewed my sweater together with one smooth (stockinette) front and the other a bumpy (garter stitch) front. To make it look intentional, I sewed one sleeve in smooth side out, and the other bumpy side out. Little did I know that years later, this would become known as a "design element". lol.

That was the first of many cardigans. And the first of even more "improvisational" approaches. 

Right now I am working on the finishing details of "Desperate Housewife", which I introduced you to in my last post. I have just finished the button band on the right front, and will now pick up and knit the other side. Then, there are still pockets to be done.

Here is a picture of the button band, which is probably one of the best I have ever knit.

There are three very good reasons for me to say that. One is that I finally learned - 60 years after knitting my first cardigan - how to correctly pick up the stitches on the front for the button bands. I found a video by Roxanne Richardson that was total eureka moment!!! (BTW, she has videos for everything, which you will see if you go take a look.)

Amazingly, the tips she shared created a firm button bad that is just the perfect length. Too bad I didn't know this umpteen cardigans ago. Definite game changer, especially since I have decided I am more of a cardigan person than a pullover gal.

Next up, the one-row buttonhole. I think I knew this once, but probably forgot. And my last few cardigans didn't have button bands or button holes, so I got to discover this all over again. And my teacher, for this one, is Andrea Mowry aka Dreareneeknits.

Andrea is also a fountain of knowledge. I am sure she also has a button band tutorial, but I found Roxanne's first. Good to share the wealth and appreciation, I say. And this technique is surprisingly easy, once you try it a couple of times. Desperate Housewife has 10 buttonholes, so I got very good after the first two. 

And last but not least, I thought I had seen a tutorial for binding off your very last stitch. In fact, there are many. I usually end up with a little bump where that last stitch comes off and I darn it in. But today, I discovered this tutorial by Knit Purl Hunter.

One at a time, these are all valuable lessons to learn. But all three together make an incredible difference in the finishing of this cardigan. 

I still have pockets to pick up on the fronts, after the second band is done. So I am going to go and see if there is a tutorial on how to make sure those pockets are straight. I will keep you posted. 

How wonderful to have these resources waiting to teach these old dogs new tricks. 

Now off to pick up the stitches for that second band - quickly, before I forget. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Happy New Year. Happy New Projects.

Socks, socks, hats, hats, hats. That was the end of December and the beginning of January.

Rick's birthday is January 5th and the only thing on his list was another pair of socks. Which I completed in the nick of time. The first pair I have knit in Briggs & Little Durasport, which I am hoping will stand up to his wear and tear. Here they are, enjoying a little fireside time. 

Next on the needles was my latest "reincarknition". I rediscovered a cowl I knit a few years ago that I never wear because I didn't like the fit. So now I have turned it into a hat, which I have already worn a few times. The yarn was perfect for both projects, but is much happier in this Andrea Mowry "Flicker and Flame" pattern. 

Here's the "before" cowl.

And here is the "after" hat. 

I actually had the pom pom in my stash, and it is a perfect match - what are the chances of that!!! The colourwork looks complicated, but is a piece of cake, thanks to the colour shift in the variegated yarn. 

So with all these "sprint" projects out of the way, it was time to plan for a "marathon" one. And I had the perfect pattern in mind. The pattern is called Desperate Housewife and it has been in my favourites since it was released by Melanie Berg last year. When you look at the pattern, you realize it has 7 contrast colours for all the stripes, and I realized that it was a big "stash buster" possibility. 

Between my sister Nancy's stash of sock yarn and my own, I was pretty sure I could come up with something that would work. Here is a picture of the first "ball swatch". I actually knit this to see how things would go together. 

From the knit swatch, I ruled out the lime green and the bright confetti yarn. I also realized that the red was too primary for all the other colours. I substituted a sage grey-green for the lime. And I got a solid dusty pink to replace the confetti. And a variegated dusty red/grey yarn to replace the red. 

I have just finished knitting the first sequence of all the colours together. And I am very happy with the choices. You can see that, compared to the designer's choices, my colours are a bit more muted. Turns out they look like a lot of other things I have in my knit wardrobe, including the hat above. (You can also see my experiments with different yarns that I taped to the picture.)

I am also very happy that two of the colours in here are from Nancy's stash and three are from mine. Technically, the sage is also from Nancy's, but she gifted me that yarn a few years ago. Although I had some grey in my stash, there wasn't enough of the same colour to be the ribbing and button bands to come.  (Yikes, formatting glitch here, not sure why.)

Now that the sleeve stitches are on holding yarn, the body stripe sequence should go a bit more quickly. At the widest part of the yoke, after the last increase row, I had 420 stitches on my needle. That is a long stretch around the needle. And this is a long, below-the-butt sweater, so the stripe sequence repeats 1.5 times in the body - and then let's not forget the sleeves. (Oh, and pockets too, oh my.)

As I said, a marathon. And I know I will be short on that last blue/grey variegated yarn at the bottom. But, I have a few "runners up" in my kit to use on the sleeves. I really don't care if they don't match exactly. I am not "Desperate" to get it done in any timeframe, and find it very relaxing to just "knit" for a while. 

Since Nana's blanket, this is the biggest project for a very long time. Perfect for the snowy months ahead. Would never have brought this much yarn in my luggage to Barbados, but staying put for this winter makes this the perfect project.

On to the second repeat I go.

Thanks for reading. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Making Merry

There are some years when your Christmas spirit isn't quite as lifted as others. I think this is one for me. Too much bad stuff going on in the world, both big and very personal, and I have been finding it hide to get excited.

Except for the Christmas making, which always lifts my spirits.

This year, I re-committed to fabric bags, so had fun getting merry material and making bags for the "grands" stuff. I also decided to recycle some cardboard into gift tags. A good second life for the amazon boxes things came in. Hoping to get the bags and tags back and will use them again. 

The little gingerbread tags sparked an idea for this year's ornaments. (I make one every year for my three grandkids.) And I love these!

I had some printable fabric paper, so I printed an image with all three faces. They turned out to be the perfect size to fit on fabric gingerbread men. I stitched on the faces, embellished the "cookie" part with embroidery and buttons. And then blanket stitched them onto some blanket weight wool. They are now hanging on our tree for the kids to discover, and then take home to their own trees. 

Another Christmas make was a special gift for my son-in-law. Many years ago he found some leftover yarn of his grandmother's (fondly called Mumu). It is from Denmark or Sweden and is a lovely wool twist. This year, he asked if I could use that wool to knit a hat for each of Mumu's four great grandchildren. And I did. The littlest "great grand" is just 7 months old. Jackson is the eldest "great grand" (nine in 5 days). I added the pompoms for a little break from the blue. 

The ones on the right and left are Classic Ribbed Hats and the middle two are High Point Hat  which are both free patterns on ravelry from Purl Soho. Although the weather has scuttled their plans to deliver them today, I am sure at some point over the holidays, there will be four beautiful heads inside these hats.

Last of the merry making, hopefully done in the next day, a pair of socks for my husband, who loves homemade socks more than anyone. He seems to go through them faster than anyone, so this pair is being knit in Patons Kroy, which has a 75% wool/25% nylon mix. Hopefully that will slow down the wearing out. I also got some Briggs and Little Durasport, which is supposed to be the strongest sock wool EVER, and will try a pair of those for him next.

Since my last post, I knit another Peach Fuzz sweater - this one for me. I liked the one I knit for my friend (who has now finished ALL cancer treatments!!!!) that I did this one for me. I love the colour combo and it is so soft and cozy. May it ward off any cancer vibes that are headed my way. 

On the cancer front, my husband's surgery finally happened just over a week ago, and we had a follow up with the surgeon yesterday. When he removed the tumour, he had to do a skin graft. Yesterday he pronounced it a success, which is not always a sure thing on lower extremities. That's a relief. Stitches on the harvest site come out next week, and a community nurse will do a dressing change on Boxing Day. So slow and steady, we head into the healing. May this be the last of it for a long while.

On this happier note, I will everyone who visits me here a Very Merry Holiday. Just writing this post has pumped up my Christmas spirit. And although the weather outside may be frightful, I hope all our holidays are delightful. 

See you in the brand new year. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022


 I received an email this morning that reminded me that since I closed comments a couple of years ago (due to horrid messages I received when the "trolls" first arrived), I have forgotten to thank you for visiting here. It reminded me that my virtual diary is still, in fact, a blog. And that there are readers lol. So I decided that I would really try to post a bit more often, which would be a good thing for me and for you.

Lately, I have been doing a lot of knitting. Since the Nana Blanket, there have been more projects for others and they are always a joy to knit, no matter the reason.

First up is this Peach Fuzz sweater. I found out this summer that a very good friend was going through chemo for breast cancer. She and her husband had not been telling many people, but since we were going to be next door to them for a week, they shared the news. We were lucky enough to have two quick visits, and I was able to tell her about Melanie Berg, the designer of this sweater, and Melanie's InstaGram posts about her breast cancer journey. 

Peach Fuzz was designed by Melanie when her hair first started to come back. She posted on day 44 after her chemo to declare "it's hair".  (Follow this link and then you click again and can see her video.)

So this is the version that I knit and mailed in time to arrive for day 44 for my friend.  She loved the colours I chose and as I suspected, thought they were the perfect choice. Inside is a label that says "Knit with Love and Swearwords". I explained the swearwords were F*ck Cancer - over and over and over.

She gave me permission to share this photo of her modelling it, with her very own peach fuzz - hair, I mean. And an awesome smile.

Next on the needles was another special set of gifts. A friend is having twins - any day now, by my reckoning - and she has a two year old who is very excited about being a "big sister".  I knit three little vests from a pattern called In Threes.  The tiniest size for the little babes (knit in cotton), and a toddler size for the older sister in her favourite colour (with hippo buttons).  I think they will all be large at first, but lots of room to grow. 

A request for a hat and "mitts with a string" for Charlie led me to these two hats (two because the first one was wayyyy too big). I was given the grey and navy colour choice, but added the pop of yellow for the tassels and pom pom. As soon as I finished, I thought it looked like a chicken. So now the boys - Jackson and Charlie - will have matching Cousins Chicken Hats.

Jackson put his on right away. Then put his headphones over top. I guess he likes it!!!

Now there will be another for Everleigh. Requested colours are pink, purple and violet. Hardly a surprise!!

Thanks again for stopping by. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Nana Blanket is Home!!

 This week, as the weather turned a bit chillier, I put the Nana Blanket in the mail. The postage was silly, but still less costly than a trip on the 407.

Two days later, I got a text from my niece, and this fabulous photo.

It looks like a perfect fit, hug-wise I mean. And apparently, it was a hit. He fell asleep under it the very first night.

I know that Nana is as thrilled as I am.

Friday, October 7, 2022

More gardens to share.

 So, I finished my fourth sample garden, the one that was inspired by the home spun yarn that is dangling from the bottom. It is mounted on a stretched canvas that is 10 x 20. The centres of the flowers are also created by making quillies from the "rasta" yarn. (This is not the best picture of it. Colours are much brighter.)

In addition to the gorgeous hand spun yarn, in the little "prickly" looking flowers in the upper left corner, I used the yarn that is made for knitting "scrubbies" for the kitchen. I love how it turned out. If you zoom in a bit, you can see it clearly.

Then off me and my little gardens went, to my first "in person" workshop since 2019. What a rush that was!! Everyone was soooo happy to be together in a real space, of course they were going to have a good time.

But they got the concept, and after I showed some reference from Pinterest, and did a lesson on making a quillie and how and what to do with Proddy, off they went!!!

Each student had something unique in their heads as they started their little gardens. I took a few early shots while in the class as they were just getting started. 

By the end of the day, everyone was much further along. And I am thrilled to see how many "gardeners" have been sharing their masterpieces on Social Media. 

Here is Peggy's 

Here is Claire's 

And here is a link to Martina's on her Instagram page. (you can't copy an image from there). You will get a re-direct notice, but if you click on the link you will see it. She actually was working on 4 tiny gardens, so you will see more from her either on IG or here.

Hopefully, I will have more to share in the coming weeks. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

The perfect garden for a black thumb!!!

I have never been what I would call a "gardener". At best, I have been able to keep the hardiest plants alive inside. And have successfully chosen plants for, and looked after, two perennial gardens outside. I listen to others talking about their LOVE of gardening, and that is not the word I would choose. That said, I am a "wicked" weeder and trimmer, which has come in handy over the decades.

I am happy to announce that I have found my perfect kind of garden. It suits my trimming and weeding skills, and it cannot be killed.

SURPRISE! It is made from wool. I have created 4 gardens in anticipation of a workshop I will be teaching in Cobourg next Thursday, the 29th. First time for me. First time for this class of brave hookers.

A bit of a back story needed here. Several years ago, our Ontario Hooking Craft Guild Annual was held in North Bay at Nipissing University. Adjacent to the big room where the rug show and vendors were located (I think we were on top of the covered skating rink in the athletic centre) was an anti-room that contained a "living wall". It was the first one I had ever seen and I was in awe. 

Although I don't remember it exactly like this, I found this picture on the university's facebook page and it is in the athletic centre, so I guess this is it. 

Recently, these "vertical gardens" are popping up EVERYWHERE. Many office buildings are using them - as respites from work, as dividers, whatever. And if you go online you can order materials to make your own - even DIY instructions to make moss ones - even artificial ones.

A while ago, I decided why not see if I could make a small garden out of wool. I would use not-so-traditional techniques like "quillies" and "proddy" and make up the rest as I went along.

Here is the first result of my exploration. It is nestled inside a shadow box that I think is 10" x 10". 

I quickly realized that you could shape just about any kind of leaf - like ferns - just by cutting into the wool. And your imagination would let you create flowers that would never exist in nature.

About the same time, Pinterest was blowing up with "vertical garden" reference. I started collecting all the different things I fell in love with. It's amazing what materials are being incorporated into some of the recent ones, like twigs and other kinds of wood. Some are even planted inside driftwood. They are amazing. And, like all art, these walls are following basic art rules with respect to design, colour and texture. Eureka!!

On to the next one, which is a sweet little 4" x 6" mini, inspired by a "mossy" one I found on Pinterest.  Here is the inspiration garden

And here is my inspired "tiny garden" in a special little hanging frame. Look closely and you will see quillies and French Knots, some high loops cut in a fringe, and some novelty yarn that has been kicking around in my stash forever. 

Talk about addictive. There are just so many incredible images of the real McCoy, that my faux collection was bound to keep growing - pun intended.

Number three was also inspired by a Pinterest image. This wall that features a collection of little live gardens made me realize that I could make an arrangement of my wooly wonders. And I happened to have an oval frame that I found on sale, and I was eager to try some new effects.  Here's the image

And here is where I netted out on my oval garden.

This time, my proddy flowers included some green Sari Silk, which gives a different look and feel when combined with green wool.  A couple more quillies and some French Knots, wool trimmed to look like dangly ferns and directional hooking gave this lots of contrast and texture. But the real fun in this exercise was the grey and white "marled" yarn which I pulled high and trimmed to see if I could create an effect similar to the feather plants in the "inspiration" garden. Then I diluted some glue and painted it to see if I could shape the yarn and make it stand up. (A little manipulation goes a long way!) 

I am just finishing my fourth sample, which I will share when it is framed. It was inspired by a hand spun yarn I bought at least a decade ago. Bright colours, lots of fibres spun together to create knots in the skein that are just beautiful. I knew I would use it as a dangler at the bottom. And the colour in this hand spun would inspire some colour inside the garden. Luckily, the more Pinterest images I saw, the less I was afraid to put some colour bursts into this one.

The garden is done, but when I went to put it on my stretched canvas, I realized I needed to add another row - or two - of regular hooking all the way around.

You will just have to come back to see it.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The NANA BLANKET is done.

Yup. It is off the needles, knitting done, fringe added to ends, i-cord finish on the sides and steam blocked. (I couldn't even imagine wet blocking this beauty.) Here it is sitting on the love seat in the living room, while the steam blocking cools. 

If you have been following these last few posts, I really didn't have much of a plan for this labour-of-love. Just knew I would only use my sister Nancy's yarn, and let it lead the way.

I did know when I did the first black and white band that the last band would be the same and there would be black and white fringe on those ends. And as I ran out of some colours, I introduced something similar from her "stash", without once dipping into my own. Actually, that's a bit of a fib, because her white ran out before I finished the fringe on the second end, so a did dip a tiny bit.

Of everything I have ever knit, this has to have been the most special. Because it was all yarn from her stash - DK and heavier. Because it was for her grandson. And because I got to be with her every stitch of the way. (This project may be done, but she sure left me enough started projects and sock weight yarn for many more.)

The final size of this blanket is about 54" wide, by 60" long plus the fringe (which is 4"). I could have kept going, but the stash was really getting low on colours, so I let it tell me when to stop. Pretty sure it's the perfect size for snuggling and thinking of Nana.

Not sure what project to move into next. But I will keep you posted when I decide.

On the hooking front, I finished "Bums in the Window" and gifted it this past weekend. Since it was a favourite photo, it was very well received. These little 8 x 10 moments are so wonderful to do. And I never run out of them. 

Also, since my last post, I did a stone carving workshop, in the Zimbabwean style. It was an incredible experience to go from this rock on Saturday morning...

to this Warrior Princess on Sunday afternoon.  I originally thought I was carving an angel, but when she got heated and waxed, the beautiful veins in the rock decided what she really was. Many thanks to ZimArt and in particular our teacher Tapiwa Mapurwanga, who was there when needed to bring the angel out of the rock. 

How Many Projects are Too Many Projects?

I have been busy. Very busy. And working on lots of things that I cannot share here for a while. One hooking project is for a children's...