Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh Tanenbaum!

Ahh, that's much better!


Nothing like the smell of fir and twinkling lights to get a girl in the Christmas mood. I'm still behind on holiday knitting, but I have made progress, and have given up the idea of home-baked goods (that's what fancy bakeries are for, right?)

I'll try to post again soon, but if I don't, have a great festive season, keep warm, and I hope Santa puts lots of wooly goodness in your Christmas stocking. I know you've all been nice.

Monday, December 17, 2007


No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, though lately I'd like to.

I'm literally buried under some emotionally-draining work crap, hopeless Christmas knitting deadlines, and about 10 feet of snow. I'm dreadfully, horribly behind on replying to the lovely comments you've been leaving me lately. So let me just say THANK YOU for taking the time to leave me a note. Despite my rude manners, I really do appreciate it.

I was away all last week on a very busy and exhausting work trip to NYC. I did manage to make a pit-stop to Purl for some cashmere and Koigu retail therapy (I'll post pics as soon as I find my camera's download-cord-thingie). While I was gone, my Bloglines accumulated to unmanageable proportions. Sadly, I'll have to quickly skim though your posts to get through it all. So forgive me if you don't hear from me for a little while. I have yet to do any Christmas shopping, baking, decorating, gift wrapping, etc... and the big day is only (gasp) 8 days away!

I think I need a slug of heavily spiked hot chocolate!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy ending

Ah, that's much better!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Um, yah , so , uh.... remember the part where I said I followed the pattern to a "t"? Remember when I went on and on about gauge lying?

Well.... Turns out not so much to a "t". More like following the pattern to an "f" (which is what a teacher would grade me if I was marked on these kinds of things, which thankfully, I am not). The liar was not gauge, but Yours Truly when I convinced myself that I have the ability to follow a pattern properly.

Sorry gauge for slandering your name all over blogland.

So what happened is that the pattern is written for two thicknesses of yarn: chunky and worsted weight. And I know you probably can see where I'm going here. At a very crucial and early point in the pattern, I stopped following the worsted weight directions and instead followed the chunky weight directions.

I know, I know, I'm a ding-a-ling.

I've riiiiiiiiiiiiiiped back, and am now (hopefully) back on track. But lets not assume anything till the darn thing is successfully pulled over my coconut, ok?

(Maybe I was knitting the hat to fit the size of my brain....)

Monday, November 26, 2007

What the heck happened here?

There's a long, rich tradition of blogging about the angst-ridden subject of gauge. How it sucks to swatch when you just want to start the "real" knitting, and how it can be a Everest-scale test of endurance: choose right needle/yarn, cast on, knitknitknit, cast-off, wash, pin, wait to dry, measure, cry cause it's not right, repeat.

But the hardest lesson a knitter learns is that swatches are liars. Boldface, misleading, deceitful, dishonest, untruthful, mendacious, insincere LIARS.

Like all of you, I have wrestled with my own gauge issues. I've done some "iffy" swatches that resulted in sweaters that were a smidge too long, or sleeves that need to be turned up. I've even blatantly skipped the whole swatching thing because I knew it would be a waste of time. Most often I've run into "too big" or "too long" garments because I'm a loose knitter.

But THIS is a first!

Now I know I have a bigger-than-average noggin, but this is ridiculous!

WTF? I did everything I was supposed to: I used the recommended yarn, I got gauge, I followed the pattern to a "t". Then I thought if it's not me, maybe the pattern is wonky. I checked Ravelry to see if other people had ended up with lilliputian hats, but no, I'm the only one. Everywhere people are sporting lovely, normal-sized Foliages and I'm left with a fancy grapefruit cozy.


Must be my punishment for neglecting you guys for so long... You probably noticed that I fell off that daily-posting wagon HARD!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Uh Oh! I dropped the ball. Last night I got home very late and just crawled into bed without thinking. Crap, I FORGOT TO BLOG!!!

Part of me is disappointed. I was halfway through this NaBloPoMo thingie and was managing to pull it off. But a big part of me is very relieved. Blogging everyday is super hard! Especially when there is zero natural light to speak of.




These photos where taken at noon. And it's a SOUTH facing perspective!

How can a girl take enticing photos in these circumstances? And like most of you, I am on a very tight holiday knitting deadline. Blogging everyday sucks up a lot of precious knitting time.

I appreciate all of your encouraging words along the way and I will make an effort to blog more often than I used to (say, every 3 or 4 days?) There's still a lot more of my old knits to show you, and some favourite things I still want to talk about.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nubbly and flecked, yum!


These mitts combine two of my favourite things in knitting:
flecked yarn and nubbly fabric.


I love any stitch pattern that yields a uniform but still textured fabric: garter stitch, seed stitch, basket weave, reverse stockinette... It creates an interesting surface with dimension, while still being even enough to show off the colour and fibre qualities of the yarn.

I knit these reverse stockinette stitch mitts a million years ago with thick Lopi yarn. As with many Lopi yarns, the colour blend is beautiful, with its flecks of purple and red on a rich orange background. But they're also pretty scratchy. I usually wear thin gloves underneath.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A honey glow


Apologies to my vegan friends, but I just adore beeswax candles. They're purported to having air-purifying qualities, and indeed, they impart a delicate yet intoxicating honey smell in the room. Unfortunately we don't have a fireplace, but these natural candles are certainly the next best thing. They create a warming glow on cold nights. Perfect to knit by.

These people make the best ones that I know of. Worth every penny, and if you take care of them properly, they last quite a long time.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A few of my favourite things...

I've decided start a series of posts showing you some of the little things that brighten my everyday.


Brewing a "cuppa" in my favourite teapot. Especially while cuddled up on the couch watching Corrie on a cold Sunday morning. Pure bliss.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

Nature's colours

Ok, this is the last of the Rhinebeck goodies.


This wool was made by Orchard House Knits, which sells incredibly beautiful fibre products created by the Craft Studio at Sunbridge College , a Waldorf-based adult education college near NYC.


The school looks really interesting. They offer courses in dying with plants, hand-spinning, felting, knitting, toy & puppet making, etc...


The yarn I bought was dyed using plants from their own biodynamic gardens on campus. The idea of going back to college to study these things seem so very appealing!


Orchard House had a beautifully set up booth at Rhinebeck, with gorgeous kits to choose from. Sample knitted items were on display for inspiration, and I fell in love with the colours in one of the hats. Unfortunately, they had no kits left in this colourway. But the salesperson let me pick and choose hues to make up my own kit.


My fingers are just itching to make up a little garter-stitch beret with these beautiful colours. It's going to be very hard to wait till after all the holiday knitting is done...


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Eye candy

Deep, rich, complex, soft, luscious.


Mountain Colors Bearfoot handpainted yarn.
Moose Creek colourway

350 yards
60% Superwash wool
25% Mohair
15% Nylon


Another Rhinebeck treasure. Too nice for socks.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Classic Cobblestone

What superlatives could I use that have not already been employed a thousand times about this sweater? Jared has simply come up with a classic. Cobblestone was so wonderful and easy to knit, and delights the eye with its simple, clean lines.


The sweater received rave reviews by DH. He may have even been heard saying "I may never take this thing off". It fits him like a glove. Sorry there aren't any modeled shots, but DH is a very shy guy. And so, so lovely. He deserves every single stitch.

The Pattern comes from the Fall 07 issue of Interweave Knits .
I knit it using 9 balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran, Shade # 004.


I made absolutely no modifications. The pattern was very easy to follow. I had fun trying new techniques like Kitchener stitch (I used this YouTube tutorial, VERY helpful!) and short row shaping for the back of the neck. I loved the experience of knitting such a seamless garment. I'll definitely be looking at my Elizabeth Zimmerman books for more DH sweaters.


It was a great, if not exactly portable, mindless knit. Thank you Brooklyntweed!!!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Tonight's installment is going to be short and sweet, kids. I'm officially TTTK (too tired to knit). And let me tell you, it takes a lot for this girl to be too tired to knit. So lets get this post over with so I can go beddy-bye.

There was a definite nip in the air this morning, so I pulled out the mittens. I felt a little silly about it till I spied a few snowflakes falling when I went out to lunch.

These Garter Cuff Mittens, from Melanie Fallick's Weekend Knitting , are favourites of mine. Knit in some very nice alpaca (sorry, no details, I bought this stuff a million years ago). They're a bit big, but I often wear thin gloves under them on really cold days, so it works.

'nite 'nite!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Fall back into darkness

I can tell you this much: whoever thought November was a good month to blog daily was certainly not a knitter. And not just because of non-bloggable-top-secret-Christmas knitting, but more importantly, because the amount of daylight available to take decent fibre photos is practically non-existent. So I'm reduced to taking flash photos in my bathroom (the best-lit room in the house).


More Rhinebeckian goodness of the wooly kind. But not yarn.



These little bundles of wool fabric came from a lovely little booth (sorry, lost the seller info) selling hooking kits, fabrics and rugs. I couldn't resist.



I'm not sure if I'll use the quarters to make "quilty" things, or "hooky" things. Both options are open to me since my Mom is a master quilter (more on that in another post), as well as a hooker. I'm sure she has a few "tricks" to show me. Har, har.

Along with the fabric bundles, I bought this little blackbird hooked mat.

I fell in love with it when I first saw it, but didn't know if I wanted to plunk down cash for a non-knitting/ready-made item. But I kept thinking about it, and at the end of the day figured if it was still there, it was mine. I use it as my tea-pot mat, and every morning the wonky little blackbird makes me smile.

Speaking of black birds, I've been checking the Blue Moon Fiber Arts website all day for their new "Raven Series" of yarn, which is supposed to come out today. You may have seen the ads for it in IK. I just loooove super-dark variegated yarn, and this collection looks really promising. But I guess I'm not the only one who's interested, as Blue Moon has apparently had some major server problems today due to the high volume of traffic to their site and has not been able to make the yarn available online as of yet.

edit: ooo yay, it's finally up. Check it out, it's beautiful!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Old friends

The parade of old knits continues...

The scarf was knit with Manos del Uruguay bought at Purl last January on one of our NYC trips. This yarn cannot make up its mind what colour it is. Often it's a muted orangy-brown, other times it's a rich pink. Maybe it's a sort of "mood" scarf. Obviously here it's trying to make up for my extreme pallor (no, don't worry, I'm not consumptive, that's just my natural hue) by adding a shot of pink next to my ghostly face. I didn't follow a specific pattern, just your regular basket weave design. I did twist all the stitches for more definition.

The little tam is another no-pattern creation, knit many years ago. It was made with some Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed , a yarn I highly covet. I love the sparkly flecks of red & gold.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fancy feet

Embossed Leaves socks by Mona Schmidt, from the 2005 Winter issue of Interweave Knits.

These are the only lacy socks I've ever knit.

I knit them 2 summers ago, on the drive up to see my parents in New-Brunswick. I remember enjoying the relatively easy pattern, but being bummed that I had to keep the magazine handy and my eyes on my knitting instead of on the scenery. This in part explains why I haven't knit fancy socks since.

The other reason (and I've mentioned this before) is that I have a bit of a thing with wearing such delicate things on my feet. I do occasionally wear them, but I always hesitate before pulling them out of my sock drawer, wondering if this day "merits" decadent socks. The plus side is they're still in very good shape, so they'll be around for a while.

I see all your breathtaking sock creations out there and I yearn to have my own pair of Bayerische or some Highland Scottish Kilt Hose. But I just can't seem to quit my plain-Jane workhorses. They keep my hands and heart happy at the doctor's office, on a long drive, or when watching an exciting Hockey game.

Are there any type of knitting you avoid, even though you love the result?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Little treasures

I almost forgot! I not only have old knits to show you, I also have Rhinebeck haul, and even summer vacation loot left to blog/brag about. So NaBloPoMo may not be so painful after all.

First up, little itty bits of Rhinebeck pleasures:

Moving Mud buttons. I spent forever at their booth in Rhinebeck. I agonized over which buttons to buy. I deeply regret not buying more. Their stuff was so very gorgeous. These 3 sets aren't the same, but they do "go" together I think. I've got lovely seafoam Fleece Artist wool, enough to make a small cardi, and these little gems will look lovely with it.

Another button indulgence: this hand-embroidered button by S. Borger (sorry, couldn't find a link). I just love the colour combo of brick red, juicy pink, chocolate brown, bright gold and mossy green. No doubt it'll find its way on a swingy one-button jacket.

I totally fell in love with this single skein of hand-dyed and handspun wool from from Cozy Rabbit Farm. It's only 50 yards, and not exactly the softest yarn, but I could not resist the colours. Again with the brick red (much richer than in the photo). I could use for a wide brim on a hat. Or mitten cuffs. Not sure yet.

My last little treasure for today is this link. DO NOT click on this link if you are drinking soda pop, or if you really need to pee. I cannot be held responsible for any "leakage" issues that might ensue. Make sure you watch it till the end!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I clearly didn't think this through

I'm easily sucked in. Amber from Berlin's Whimsy invited her readers to join her in participating in the National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo for short. The rules are simple: you have to post daily for the whole month of November.

At first I thought it would be fun. As you've no doubt noticed, I'm a bit sporadic (um, lazy) when it comes to posting. I figured this was the kick in the pants I needed to become a better blogger. A motivation, a growing experience, a fun challenge.

But here's the deal. This is a knitting blog. And well, we're entering the "top-secret" knitting season. I've got lots of Christmas knitting lined up, but I can't blog about any of it. And come to think of it, I've go so much knitting to do that I don't really have a whole whack of free time to take pictures and write about it. Uh, oh. Day one and I'm already thinking of throwing in the towel. Not a good start.

Then DH says "Just blog about all the things you knit before you had a blog. You've got tons of stuff they've never seen." Hey, I knew there was a good reason I married him. That just might work. So in the next month, you'll mostly see "oldies but goodies".

Except not tonight. My camera batteries are still dead, so no pictures till tomorrow. An auspicious beginning, no?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Socktoberfest made me do it!

Socktoberfest is nearing to a close (thanks Lolly!), and I have but one offering to make to its altar. To my great relief, I finally finished my one-and-only pair of Jaywalkers , knit in Lana Grossa's Meilenweit cotton. All I can say is: NEVER AGAIN!!!!

Don't get me wrong, the pattern is great, but knitting cotton socks really really really truly sucks more than any other knitting experience I've ever had. I'm usually a fast knitter, but it took me over a YEAR AND A HALF to knit these. I couldn't bear to work on them for more than 5 minutes at a time, and they languished in my WIPS basket for freaking ever. Of course, they're way too small for me, which is a relief really, because I never want to see them again. Ever.

You hear me cotton sock yarn? I wouldn't knit with you again even if you were the last yarn on Earth!

Sarah, my teeny-footed friend, I hope you enjoy them as much as I despise them. Just make sure you don't wear them around me.

Happy Halloween/All Saints/Day of the Dead/Samhain celebrations. And welcome Great Pumpkin! Hope you get more than a rock in your pillowcase!

Yes, still another Rhinebeck post

First of all, thank you so much for the Oregon love. Your kind comments really made me happy. And for those who don't believe me, let me say again that this was really easy and enjoyable to knit. Don't let steeking intimidate you, it's not half as hard as it looks (though a shot of scotch doesn't hurt either).

For those of you who were hoping and praying that the whole Rhinebeck thing was over, sorry. I'll try and be short and sweet. You've heard the details already (fantastic weather, hoards of people, great vendors, blah blah blah) but in short, I had a great time.

Rhinebeck sights:

Who's a pretty goat? (or is it a sheep? Ah crap, I don't know. Anyone?)

FSFA (Future Sheep Farmers of America) in training.

Oregon vest out in public!

The vest got a decent amount of recognition ("Is that Alice Starmore's Oregon?" and "Did you knit it?" were the most common questions), mostly thanks to the fact that the pattern is featured in the current issue of Vogue Knitting. Here I am posing with what may be the official Rhinebeck mascot. I'm not sure what breed she is, she was very quiet and coy for a sheep.

Later that evening:

The lovely Carol, suffering from a severe case of Post-Rhinebeck-Shopping-Induced delirium. She's modeling her poodle-patterned tea cosy as a very fetching hat (John Galliano, take note! Poodle-print tea cosy hats will be all the rage in 2008). Wine may have been flowing freely at this point.

Sunday morning:

Joanne and I, soaking up the incredible weather at our very pastoral B&B

The "Rhinebeck 5", exhausted, broke, and happy, saying goodbye to all the sheepy-goodness.

What did I buy, you may ask?

Lovely plant-dyed and wind-powered Hope Spinnery yarn, in warm shades running from earthy pinks to burnished orange. The middle shades are more yellow than they appear in the photo. I'll probably make a simple pullover sweater where one colour melts into another.

My first ever skein of lightweight Socks That Rock in the aptly named "Pond Scum". I arrived at the Blue Moon booth late, and there wasn't much left. But luckily for me, I had this colourway in mind all along. I think I might knit the Snicket Socks (just watched Lemony Snicket's last night on tv. I really enjoyed it, especially the art direction!)

I bought many more things, but the rest will have to wait till another post, because my camera batteries just died...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Without further ado...

Alice Starmore's Oregon Vest


I was hoping for a sunny photo shoot in the woods, amidst the incredible fall foliage. But Mother Nature had other plans, with cold, dark and rainy weather. She's probably punishing me for wanting to get that "Rowan" look again.

The dreaded steek cutting was not so dreaded after all.


If you think about it, knitting doesn't really want to come undone sideways (have you ever seen pantyhose run horizontally?) so the fabric stays pretty much intact after you cut it. Mind you, so long as you're using "sticky" fibres like this stuff. I wouldn't want to steek silky cotton.

The button/arm/neck bands went pretty well. I had to pick up and knit 354 stitches for the button band, so thank Lordy Begordy I got it to lay flat on the first try. I did have to bind off a few times to get it just so. The button band needed a very loose binding off, and the arm bands needed an extra tight binding off. Go figure!

I love the fact that with fair-isle, the inside looks almost as handsome as the outside.


I chose some lovely iridescent shell buttons with shimmers of blue and green that are impossible to capture correctly on camera. You'll just have to see them in person when you run into me at Rhinebeck, ok?



Without a doubt this is the most pleasant and satisfying project I've ever knitted. The pattern was easy to follow (no, really, it was easy!), the materials were lovely, it fits well and I think it looks beautiful. It's not the most fashion-forward garment in my closet, but I think it has a timeless quality to it. Being a vest, it's flexible and makes a lovely layering piece.

I think it's going to be hard to top this one. Rhinebeck, whatcha got for me? Hit me with your best shot.