Archive for July, 2010

New Mitts

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

You know when inspiration hits, and you can’t really seem to put a new project down?  I know that sometimes it’s easy to get lost in a book.  This time I got lost in a pair of mittens.  For some unexplainable reason I just kept picking up the needles to knit just a little bit more, and before I knew it, all that was left was to knit the thumb.  Thumbs are quick to knit, so I cast on for the second mitten, and then I had to do the cuff before I forgot what I did with the first one…Next thing I know it is past midnight, and I am done!  The picture doesn’t do justice to the colour of the yarn, but I’m thrilled with the results.  I think it’s a record!  On Tuesday this was a bag of fluff.  On Saturday it is a pair of mittens!

Knitting with handspun is interesting, the colour of this pot luck roving does not stay constant, so each mitten changes colour slightly, and the thumbs don’t match.  I like it though….it’s proof that they are hand made, and they are definitely unique.

Now that they are done, I can get on with other important things like doing my dishes!

200 grams

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I have now spun up all 200g of my “Pandora’s Box” roving from the Odessa Fiber Mill.  I had forgotten how lovely it is to spin fiber that is well prepared, and slips lightly through my fingers to make a smooth yarn.  It was rather mesmorizing to watch the bobbin fill up so quickly.

From a distance the yarn appears grey, but from up close, the blended nature shows.  There are flecks of red, blue, yellow, fuschia, and some sparkly threads that run through it.  Although I think it is mostly wool, it is a fine merino, blended with alpaca, and I think there’s some llama there too.

In my mind this is going to turn into mittens and maybe a hat as well, so I chain plied it to make a soft and squishy 3-ply yarn.

Road Trip

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Participating (rather poorly I might add) in the Tour De Fleece this year has made me realize that although I do really like spinning, I do NOT really enjoy preparing fleece for spinning.  I’ve been asking around, and found that there’s a fiber mill about 20 minutes from my house, so today I packed up my fleece to see if they could mill it into lovely roving for me to spin.

two bags full

I brought along Maggie, who knits, spins, throws pots, and is generally very crafty.  She’s the one that is making the ball gown from jeans.

The mill is located in the garage of the motel in Odessa Ontario.  We met Janet, who explained how to tell if a fleece is worth milling.  Take a lock of fleece.  Hold it with two hands, and pull lengthwise to stretch the fiber as far as it will go.  If you hear a crackle it’s a fragile fleece (not good).  If you hear a ping sound, then the fiber is strong, and it will make good roving.

Paul, Maggie and Janet with the spinning machine

Apparently you get what you pay for.  My fleeces were all donated to me from various places, and they all crackle when pulled.  Too bad!  It’s not worth it to have them milled, but I can still make something quite useful with them if I can put up with the slow and tedious process of carding.

Paul gave us a tour of the mill.  There’s a picker to get the locks of fleece open and fluffy, another machine to get rid of vegetable matter and guard hairs, a very large and complicated looking drum carder, a spinning machine and a plying machine.  It’s an amazing operation!

roving being spun onto bobbins

The store was next on the tour.  Such gorgeous merchandise, and all produced right there–yarns of all sorts and colours, rovings, woven scarves and blankets, knit socks.  I bought some superwash merino, and some “pandora’s box” (unknown fibers, mostly grey) roving.

the store

What’s best about this store is that you’re encouraged to touch and smell and really enjoy the fiber before you choose what to get.

Maggie with a soy silk moustache

We got talking with Janet about our fiber projects, and the topic of Maggie’s denim dress project was brought up.  This led to Random Freebie #1: 3 Pairs of jeans for Maggie’s ball gown!

Maggie with my purchased roving, and her free jeans

The next stop on our trip was to Wilton Pottery, just down the road.

We met Tim, who explained about his kiln and his process.

If you are in the area stop by to say hello, and have a look at the work that he and his wife Diane are doing.  She grows crystals in the glaze of her porcelain.

such beautiful crystals

We totally lucked into Random Freebie #2:  Zucchini!  I’ve frankly never seen a zucchini this big before in my life.  I’m not exactly sure why Wilton Pottery was giving them away, but it was a very nice treat.

The next stop on our way back to town was in Sydenham at a vegetable and antiques market.  There were lots of treasures to be found in this place, but I think I lucked out when I found sock blockers!

antiques/vegetable market

There’s something nice about taking a drive in the country on a lovely summer day.  You never really know what adventures you’ll run into.  I highly recommend it!

What cottage industries are in your neck of the woods?

Post Storm Knitting

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

After the harrowing canoeing adventure on Wednesday, I decided to stay on land for most of the day on Thursday.  I spent part of rest hour watching over the children as they relaxed under the trees and I finished up some i-cord ties.  I am thankful that my camera revived itself enough to take several photos.  I think the water has ruined some of the electrical workings on the insides.  I can’t turn the flash on or off anymore.

Pattern:  Top Down Bonnet (Ravelink) by A. Bizilia (blog).
Yarn: Cotton Supreme Batik (which I now adore!)

I noticed that the colourway “summer camp” seems to match the paint at Camp Hyanto perfectly.  I love the combination of these natural colours, the colours of the beach on a sunny day.

Camp is certainly a peaceful place to be when the sun shines.

A Shocking Experience

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

I am back from camp, and it was very memorable!  The first 24 hours were actually unforgettable, and we spent the rest of our time recovering from them.

Being strong paddlers, my brother and I were asked to go out with the canoeing day trip on Wednesday.  There were 5 canoes, 7 girls, 4 camp staff and us.  The plan was to paddle across the lake, down the channel to a bigger lake, and stop for lunch on a rocky point about a 45 minute paddle away.  Everything went according to plan; we paddled along, spotting herons and cows and lily pads, avoiding the stinky weedy areas.

swimming in PFDs at our lunch site

We got to our lunch site, beached the canoes and after a quick expedition to explore the immediate area, went for a swim in our PFDs before having our sandwiches.  Eating a picnic away from camp was very exciting for the girls.  We had another swim after lunch and then as we were getting ready to leave, we heard a distant rumble of thunder.  Clouds were piling up on the horizon looking anvil shaped and ominous.

ominous clouds

The girls had been wanting to build a fort, so we played “fort”, building a shelter out of canoes that could be used if the storm came our way.  We waited about half an hour, and the storm appeared to be breaking up.  There had been no more thunder, so we took down our fort and set off to paddle back to the camp.

our fort

Of course, the swimming, and paddling and fort excitement had left the girls reluctant to paddle, so the staff were working double time to paddle ourselves back to camp.  We didn’t want to be late for afternoon activities.

Halfway back, we heard a nearby clap of thunder, so we hauled the 5 canoes up on a sloped rock at the edge of a cow field.  There was no rain, so we sat on the rock and played some “I spy”, and watched the cows and horses across the channel.  With lighter sky in the distance, we felt that the storm would be short lived.  The rain came, but the thunder was gone, so we sheltered under a nearby cedar shrub until the thunder came back.  We had distant but continuous thunder and lightning, and we were sitting on our PFDs on the rock, looking at the approaching clear sky and yelling the “one Mississippi” counts between lightning and thunder.

We knew we were in trouble when the cows across the channel took off running at high speed.  The clear distant sky was suddenly gone, and the wind picked up.  My brother and another staff member went off running to the distant farm house to see if we could shelter there, because this storm was more severe than anyone had guessed.  As they ran, the wind started whipping hail at us almost horizontally, and the sky was illuminated with much closer lightning.  With our belongings all gathered, and the canoes hauled up even farther, we huddled with the now cold and very scared little girls until given the go-ahead to head for the farmer’s barn.

Much of the run to the barn is jumbled in my mind.  I remember feeling lightning shocks and tingles up to my shoulder.  Other staff remember the smell of smoldering hay, and the girls dropped their belongings and ran with us, staying as low as possible, to the barn.  We sheltered there for about 45 minutes, waiting out the worst of the storm.  The farmer was very kind and brought out the bunny rabbit that lives in the barn, and his barn kittens which soothed the scared children.  He let us know that we had been very lucky–there was a bull that ran with the cows in his field, but thankfully he didn’t make an appearance.  We used the barn phone once the storm had passed, and got all the kids back to the camp by car so they could get warm and dry and eat dinner.

water in the canoe

The storm was gone as fast as it arrived.  My brother and I returned to the scene of the chaos, dumped the water from the canoes, piled our belongings, paddles, PFDs and remnants of lunch back into the boats, lashed them together and set off for camp under clear skies.  It is exhausting to paddle with children who are tired.  It is even more exhausting to paddle 5 boats tied together.

safe on solid ground!

That was by far the most dangerous situation I’ve ever been in.  It could have been our last.

Sad to say, my camera and watch did not survive the trip, but both are very replaceable.

Off To Camp

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I know some people get nervous when I don’t write for a few days….so I’m signing out.

I’m going to spend a few days volunteering at Camp Hyanto.  I wrote about how much I love this place a while back, and I try to spend a week each summer giving back to the place that gave me so much.

I’ll be bringing my knitting….but I’m sure I’ll be so busy having fun that not much will get done.  In any case, I will be completely disconnected from technology, and that’s probably a good thing every now and again.

What do you do to disconnect?

What A Day!!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

At 8 AM I was at the car place…..knitting the last of the cabled baby vest, and getting my car checked out before I take it on a bit of an adventure this August.  The car guys noticed that the chip in my windshield was no longer a chip, and starting to crack and spread a little…..

Long story short, I headed off to Speedy Glass to have the chip filled in with resin–I’d had this done before, and it worked really well, and cost a whole lot less than a new windshield.  Of course, on the way there I happen to leave a few extra minutes for a quick trip to Wool-Tyme…(it’s on the way if you plan your route correctly)  I bought some more Cotton Supreme Batik in the colourways “summer camp” and “waffle cone”–it’s SO soft and silky, you’d hardly know it is cotton!

knitting while waiting for the windshield outcome

So I sit and wait (knitting a top down bonnet for yet another friend who has just had a baby) while my windshield is being operated on.  And after half an hour I get notified that the chip wouldn’t seal, and in fact, the pressure that was used to try to seal it has now cracked the windshield even more!

Great….

So, I am the proud owner of a new windshield.  Luckily they had the right kind in stock, and it was early enough in the day that they could install it before closing time.

In the mean time, I knit while the Speedy Glass man drove me downtown to meet some friends (blog)  visiting from out west, and their two darling boys.  We took a fun ride on the Wolfe Island Ferry and saw boats and windmills and enjoyed the sun.

I went on the roof WAY up there.

My next adventure for the day was to find Maggie, another crafty girl who makes pottery for a living, but she knits and spins and sews too.  She has recently been in search of vast quantities of denim.  Since I had worn through the knees of my jeans and made them into shorts, I donated the bottoms to her.  She’s turning all of the pieces she is collecting into a denim ball gown!  Pretty cool idea.

I got invited up to her roof and enjoyed the view and the breeze from up there.  I don’t know that I have ever been on a roof like that before!

Since I was already downtown, and it was hot and sticky and I was ready to have a rest and knit a bit, I headed to the screening room to watch The Secret In Their Eyes, a mystery that is entirely in Spanish.  It’s a challenge to knit, follow a pattern in your head, and read the subtitles.  After the movie, the woman sitting behind me started talking with me.  It turns out that I was a camp counselor for her kids, she wasn’t sure that she recognized me until I pulled out my knitting–I guess it’s my trademark!

What did you do today??

Cottage Knitting

Monday, July 19th, 2010

There’s nothing like eating watermelon with feet dangling off the dock, toes dipping in the water, listening to the loons call from a distant corner of the lake.

I’ve taken a few days away from the computer to sit in the woods, by the water, and enjoy the company of family.

My knitting came with me.  I picked up a ball of brown Life DK from Wool-Tyme.  This yarn is such a joy to work with. It feels like wool, it has a nice shine and softness to it, the brown colour has glints of green, blue, pink, orange in it–it will coordinate with many outfits, and it is completely machine washable–something VERY important for baby clothes. It is the same brand of yarn that I made the Eilidh sweater from.

I’m working on a little sweater for a friend who has just had a baby girl.  Making up the pattern as you go is such fun, but you have to be sure to either keep notes, or finish it fast so you remember what you did in previous rows.  I’m trying the “finish it fast” approach.  The ends got sewn by Monday morning!

front view

back view

I really like how the neck turned out, the cables continue from the front and back, framing the neck, and meeting up along the shoulder.  I think I might incorporate these ideas into other projects.  What is best (in my opinion) is that I did not have to sew ANYTHING!  There are no stitches picked up either!

front of neck

The body is knit from the bottom up, in the round.  The front and back are knit flat, but the shoulders are joined by a three needle bind off.  I like the look of the neck as it is, so I will not add any ribbed border.  The sleeve openings are also nicely defined by the seed stitch.

back of neck

I look forward to seeing this sweater in action.  I hope it could be a dress this fall, and a sweater next year.

Sock Inspiration

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I’m having fun searching for inspiration on Ravelry now…but when the new search features kick in, I’m ready to have my socks knocked off!

I usually get excited about fiddly colour work or interesting lace patterns, but today I was looking for something extra creative and colourful.  Here are some of the fabulous socks I’ve found in my search today.  May you be equally inspired!

1.  These socks are remarkable.  I’m not sure how people come up with this kind of completely different idea.  The pattern is called Hexagons and it is by Kirsten Hall (blog).  I’m thinking of having a look at the book Think Outside the Sox (the source of this and many other inspirational sock designs).

Image source: Ravelry Pattern: Hexagons by Kirsten Hall

2. These socks inspire me because they are so cute, and the idea could be transformed to many other different kinds of animals.  The yarn she used is Opal in the colourway Tiger.  The pattern isn’t available yet, but there are notes so you could do it yourself….I think I might have to try it sometime!  Thanks so much to Marlene (blog) for her creativity and inspiration.

Image Source: Ravelry Pattern: Wovenflame's Tiger Toes Socks

3. These are a pair of knee socks (pattern) knit by someone who doesn’t usually make or wear socks.  Kelly (blog) sure did a lot of knitting!!  I am impressed by how they match, and that she dyed some of the yarn herself.  Really cool project.  They’d brighten up my day for sure.  I’d wear them with my rubber boots!

Image Source: Ravelry Pattern: Knee Socks by Diana Parrington

4.  The next pair of socks are totally different from anything I’ve seen before, or even imagined.  They are knit first, and painted later!  What’s cooler is that they look just like bananas–Who would have thought of that?!  Brigitte from Germany (blog–in German)–Here are the pattern notes for these socks.

Image Source: Ravelry

5.  Another great pattern from Think Outside the Sox, is the Lonely Socks Club:Entrelac Sock by Natalia VasilievaKirsten (blog) knit these lovely socks.  I’ve never tried the Entrelac knitting technique, but I really like how it looks.  These socks are unique because the entrelac part goes all over the heel and toe too!  Pretty amazing design work.

Image Source: Ravelry

What patterns inspire you?

What Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I planted some vegetables earlier this spring, but I am limited to a balcony with planters and dishpans full of soil. Luckily there is LOTS of sun.

I now have 6 little tomatoes growing

these will be BIG tomatoes one day!

I harvested some carrots (they are cool spherical carrots designed to grow in shallow soil–like window boxes).  I have some very odd radishes–not quite sure what happened to them, they are long and not really radish shape.  My snow peas have been really productive too!  I can gather about 5 or 6 peas a day–perfect for a snack right off the vine.

Harvest for Today

For my tour de fleece spinning today I plied the singles from yesterday.  I made it 2 ply, but it was still thin and appeared fragile (my singles didn’t have quite enough twist).  I then treated the 2 ply like roving, and spun the whole works then chain plied it, so what I have is an accidental 6 ply yarn.  We’ll see how that works up.

I am tempted to take a break from spinning so I can try knitting with it!