Saturday, September 18, 2010

That's Too Small

We have a big book from the library about science on our table, and Benny was flipping through it this morning. He came to the section on human biology, flipping past the detailed diagram of a neuron and axon (which he thought was a squid and expressed relief that it was only a picture)and on to the human reproductive page. There was a lifelike, detailed picture of a mature fetus in the womb.

He was interested in the umbilical cord. "Is that the baby's toy?" he asked. I explained that it brings food and oxygen to help the baby grow. (And I was thinking, no, sweetheart, the baby's toy is Mommy's bladder.) Then I pointed out the cervix and birth canal, explaining that they expand to fit around the baby's head when he is ready to be born.

"What?" he said. "The baby can't come out of there. It's too small."

Tell me about it, kid.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Well, since classes began on Sept. 7, I haven't had much time for anything but reading, a little (and I mean a really tiny little bit) of knitting, and some spinning.

I was very motivated to finish this:

Handspun Silk

I did most of the plying at last Saturday's "Spin In" at Make one. When all was said and done I had 118 grams and 740 yards of silk. No wonder it took me nearly all summer to finish.

Next I got started on this, which seemed to take no time at all. I began on Sunday and finished plying today.

Aurelia top & singles
Aurelia 2-ply

190 grams, 260 yards, spun woolen. I worked on my long draw, which I found soothing but it's pretty uneven. Oh darn, I'll have to practice some more.

You see that pretty shiny rainbow stuff combed into the black top? This is proof that my inner child is alive and well, and pretty pleased overall with my fiber love. I know several children who would love to have this but I intend to adorn my own head with it. I'll probably knit it first. My inner child isn't THAT loud.

The weather has been miserable and rainy for what feels like forever but I think actually started around the long weekend, which is now a couple of weeks of cold, wet weariness. They days are starting to blur together now, so I can't remember exactly which day it happened, but I got home amid a chilly drizzle and found a fat, long-awaited and squishy package waiting for me from Spunky Eclectic. Guess what was inside?
Sunshine! In 4 oz batts! The picture really doesn't do it justice. I was not really certain about getting orange at first, since it's not my favorite colour, but I'm so glad I went for something outside my usual purple zone.

There were also four ounces of some soft, sleek, Merino/Yak:
Merino - Yak

This is definitely better than ice cream:
Merino - Yak
and I think it will come in handy around exam time... so soothing, soft and therapeutic to touch. They sell it by the ounce, so if this spins up as beautifully as I think it will, I can get some more... and more...

I finished up the Octesian shawl.
Octesian Shawl
Octesian Shawl
Sometime in the near future, I'll chart out the pattern and get it test knit. However, all non-college projects are on the back burner, so no promises about getting it done before Christmas.

However, this gives me time to figure out whether I want to tweak the patten a little, maybe add more arrow lace and make the border deeper? What do you think?

Octesian Shawl

Thursday, August 19, 2010


First of all, let me say that I did wash and soak my owls sweater, which made a huge difference. It's still prickly and not what I would have chosen for next to the skin wear, but not unwearable.

Willow and Owls
The puppy likes it too.

The fit is, like I said, almost perfect. I would have liked a turtleneck but rejected the idea when I realized how itchy it was.

I think I've decided not to add owl eyes.
The boys would both like to have an owl sweater of their own, so it looks like I'll be knitting more of these which will be great.

This weekend marked our 12th anniversary so we headed out to Waterton National Park, which is in southern Alberta across the US border from Glacier National Park.

Our first stop was the Prince of Wales hotel:
Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

It's a "vintage" place and Ian was delighted with it. He really wanted to ride the antiquated elevator, which requires an operator, but as we were not staying there he didn't get to try it.

Our hotel had a bunch of chalet-style buildings which looked more interesting from the outside than they were on the inside. Each room was named after an animal or bird. Guess what ours was? "Great Horned Owl", of course.

We headed out to explore and ended up on the beach. I spent time honing my rock-skipping skills, and told the boys not to go in the water.


I do wonder why I said that, as they then had a great time getting soaked.

Benny found some flowers to give me. Someone had picked them and thrown them in the water, and Benny "rescued" them.


I suppose someone picked them and then was told it's illegal to pick flowers in a National Park. I made sure Benny understood he couldn't get me any more.

The next morning we went to the Zum Cafe for breakfast.

Zum Cafe

Zum Cafe

Ian was pretty excited about all the license plates and desperately wanted one to take home. Hot chocolate was the only treat in the offing, though.

Zum Cafe

Zum Cafe, Waterton

We wandered down the main street and found some pretty things.

We spent some more time at the beach, and this time only one boy was really interested in getting wet.

Russians will swim in anything.

"It's just the same temperature as the Elbow River," he said. Yes, I know. It couldn't be much colder than a glacier-fed stream, otherwise it'd be frozen.

Ian built a little lake.

We had a good time and I only wish we could have stayed a little longer and done more.


Ian began school this week, but hopefully we'll get out somewhere for another weekend before winter locks in.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Hooting Good Time

For my birthday on the first, I thought I'd set aside any startitis guilt and cast on something simple and chunky to balance out all the lace. I thought I'd just start a sleeve as a gauge swatch, and a couple of hours later my ball of yarn was gone and I had a sleeve. This was such a novelty that I was entirely compelled to knit a second sleeve the next day. In fact it went so fast that this is the only picture of the work in progress that I have.

The dog is our newest family addition, and despite the fact she's only been around for a couple of months she know that chewing yarn or mouthing fiber means instant death. (Ok, it means she can't sit on my lap which for her seems to be just as bad.) So we cuddle in with knitting and she snuggles while I spin, even though silk turns out to be her favorite flavor. (shudder).

I have, however, discovered that the training is not yet complete:

(Why my Chia-Goo needles? Why not the cheap, splintery Wal-Mart ones?)

At any rate, my sweater was getting along so well I was sure there would be serious repercussions as the Universe was clearly out of balance. However, I washed the sleeve and blocked it, and it came out just right. The measurements and gauge came together like something out of a story book, and the chart gave me no grief. I added a few rows before the owls since some people had mentioned that they needed more armpit space, got through the owls, and decided to try it on to see if it was all coming together right.

It fit perfectly and I knew I didn't need to change a thing. Except, well. Except it itches.

This is a totally gorgeous sweater. I love it and it fits me perfectly. And I can hardly stand to have it on.

I'm going to try a Eucalan wash, and a hair conditioner wash, and any other wash anyone might think would help. But really, even if nothing helps, I'll be brave. I'll buy a long-sleeved undershirt and wear this sweater on the coldest, most miserable nights of winter, and hope that the Universe is satisfied by providing me with a lovely warm sweater that I can't wear and won't sabotage my next project...

I'm heading out to find some buttons for the owl eyes, and once those are on and the sweater doesn't make me want to rip off my own skin, I'll have some pictures of it on me. It's really stunning.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Knitting and Spinning

It has been forever and a day since I blogged properly, and believe me it was a busy year and a bit. I chose knitting over blogging when I had any time. I'd love to share what I've been up to.

In the middle of July, I took a great shawl design class from Miriam Felton, and knit through about half of this in the class:

I pondered a name for a while, wanting to reference the octagonal shape and the diamonds, and while listening to Narnia with the kids, and the name Octesian struck me as fitting. Now I am working on a laceweight version which is taking forever and a day, but when it is done I will have a pattern and will have someone test-knit it.

I used the lovely Zephyr laceweight, 50% merino, 50% silk. It knits up like a dream and is super soft.

Last fall I added to my personal arsenal of serenity and learned to spin; and this spring I bought a wheel (a Schacht Ladybug) and have been spinning all sorts of fun things since. My present project is some delicious tussah silk:

Despite it's luscious allure I'm finding it difficult to stick with this. It's taking forever since I'm spinning it very fine, and I intend to ply it.

On a final note, I have begun a project which is nothing but sheer folly and the creation of a UFO, but I can't seem to help myself. I enjoy knitting garter stitch so much, that I have begun this, the Blanket of Doom.

With Patons Kroy, on 3mm needles. I think I need a lobotomy. According to my calculations, I'll need 64 - 50g balls of this yarn to finish an afghan. I think in the end I'll make a baby blanket and call it a day. I do love the color changes in this yarn and to be honest I love this pattern, as simple as it is. Here is the link to the pattern on Ravelry, if you would like to make your own Blanket of Doom.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Well, after quite a long hiatus from blogging, and even longer from designing- or rather, taking notes and writing stuff up- here I am again with another hat pattern. Janet is a very special person and lovely friend, and when I had to go away I decided to knit her a hat. A special hat. So I scoured Ravelry for just the right hat and it... it wasn't there, not quite. I found a stitch pattern I liked and dove in with all my knitterly abandon, even marking down what I was doing with the half-formed notion of... another blog post, another design.

I have sadly not got myself charting software and my hard drive was wiped out so even my Excel is gone- however the urge to post has come over me and I will add a chart as soon as it is ready.

This pattern has not been proofread by anyone other than myself. I believe I got all the kinks out but if you see something wrong, please let me know.

This tam is worked in the round from the brim to the crown. A series of well placed decreases creates a floret at the crown from the lace pattern.

-Worsted weight wool or wool blend, about 100 grams
I used "Alpaca Love" by Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller. One ball was enough for gauge swatch and hat, with barely twelve inches left over. I'd suggest getting two balls.
-16 inch circular needles, size 5 (3.75mm) and 7 (4.5mm)
-4 double pointed needles, size 7 (4.5mm)
or size needed to get gauge
-stitch markers
-yarn needle

17 sts and 26 rows to 4 inches (10 cm) in stockinette on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles

Size: To fit adult women's heads. The ribbing will stretch to fit fairly large noggins and big hair; mine is 21 inches around which I've heard is on the small side.

Lace Pattern as worked in the round:
repeat of 12 sts
rnd 1: k1, ssk, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, k2tog
rnd 2: k1, ssk, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, k2tog
rnd 3: k1, ssk, k1, yo, k5, yo, k1, k2tog
rnd 4: k1, ssk, yo, k7, yo, k2tog
rnd 5: k1, yo, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, yo
rnd 6: k2, yo, k2, k2tog, k1, ssk, k2, yo, k1
rnd 7: k3, yo, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, yo, k2
rnd 8: k4, yo, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo, k3

Cast on 90 sts onto size 5 circular and join, being careful not to twist sts. Place marker for beginning of round. K1,P1 for 8 rounds

Next Round:
change to size 7 circular needle
*k5, m1* repeat 18 times for a total of 108 sts.

Next Round:
begin lace pattern, making 9 repeats around hat.
Work the 8 rows, 4 times for a slouchy tam, 3 times for a less slouchy beret or a smaller head.

This one has four repeats and is fairly slouchy.

Begin crown shaping, switching to dpn's when stitches become too few to fit on circular.

rnd 1: *k1, ssk, k3, yo, k1, yo k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k7, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, k2tog* 3 times, placing marker at beginning of each section. (102 sts)
rnd 2: *k1, ssk, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, k2tog, k1, ssk, k5, k2tog, k1, ssk, k2, yo, k3, yo, k2, k2tog* 3 times (96 sts)
rnd 3: *k1, ssk, k1, yo, k5, yo, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, yo, k5, yo, k1, k2tog* 3 times (90 sts)
rnd 4: *k1, ssk, yo, k7, yo, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo, k7, yo, k2tog* 3 times (84 sts)
rnd 5: *k4, k2tog, k1, ssk, k4, cdd, k4, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3* 3 times (66 sts)
rnd 6: *k3, k2tog, k1, ssk, k7, k2tog, k1, ssk, k2* 3 times (54 sts)
rnd 7: *k2, k2tog, k1, ssk, k5, k2tog, k1, ssk, k1* 3 times (42 sts)
rnd 8: *k1, k2tog, k1, ssk, k3, k2tog, k1, ssk* 3 times (30 sts)
rnd 9: *k1, k3tog, cdd, k3tog,* 3 times (12 sts)
rnd 10: k12
rnd 11: k2tog 6 times (6 sts)

Cut yarn and thread with yarn needle through six remaining stitches, drawing them closed. Tie off yarn, weave in ends. Block hat to shape
on a plate and enjoy!

k: knit
yo: bring yarn over needle
k2tog: knit next two stitches into one
k3tog: knit next three stitches into one
ssk: slip next two stitches knitwise, slip back to left hand needle and knit together
m1: insert needle into the horizontal bar between the next two stitches, pick it up and knit it twisted (to avoid a hole).
cdd: centered double decrease: insert needle into next two stitches as if to knit them together. Slip them onto right hand needle and knit the next stitch. Pass the slipped stitches over the it.