Monday, 30 September 2013

Somewhat annoyed

My camera is with my husband, who is at the cottage. I'm not annoyed that he has it - it's technically OURS, so he has a right to use it, and he needed it for some insurance type stuff at the cottage. I'm annoyed because he's there, and I'm not!
We're getting a new woodstove installed, and he and his dad went up for a couple of days to oversee it. I get it - it makes sense for him to be there, and someone had to stay with the boy (that school thing gets in the way, as does that small annoyance called MY JOB...)

But I'd rather be there!

And of course, that means I have no pictures - I've been working away on accessories, getting Christmas things knocked off the list. I've added a few more things to make (of course, I have...) specifically some Beer Mitts. I've adapted the Knitty pattern to fit whatever wool I'm using. There are a number of people at the cottage who have shown an interest in these, and they take so little time, and use up all the bits and pieces of wool I have sitting around!

Friday, 27 September 2013

product vs process

I bought some fabulous kid-silk at Kitchener - remember the lovely navy, orange and white?
My plan was for a scarf or cowl for my best friend, who had professed a love of this colour combination.
My first thought was - simple stockinette stripes, well, that means the knitting machine! Quick, easy, done.
But... loosely knit stripes in fine mohair silk, does not work well on the machine. At least, not for me. The ends were loose and raggedy, and to be honest, I wasn't enjoying it.
Then, I started really thinking about this. This is for my best friend. I love her to death and have for almost 50 years. She's basically my sister - her parents were my parents best friends. Did I want a "quick and easy" gift - no better than something I pick up in a store, or did I want to give her something from my heart?
Easy choice - off the machine - on the needles. I'm making a simple tube that I will sew up at the ends to create a double thick, luxurious scarf for her.
I'm loving how it's coming along...

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

And yet another gift...

The hat is done - it goes with the grey and maroon scarf, the blue honey cowl and the (in progress) grey and maroon honey cowl. Once the second honey cowl is done, that's an entire family of Christmas gifts done and ready. (by September! How annoying am I??)

I used a modified "Turn a Square" decrease at the top and love it. it looks great with stripes. It's a simple construction - Dalegarn wool, in the colours of his daughter's new school. (pulled directly from her kilt!) the luxury part isn't shown. I've lined the inside with delicious 100% alpaca (up to the top of the gold stripe, so the part that sits on the ears and forehead is lovely and soft.

I was taking a look at what I have done for Christmas, and what I still need to do, and since I have streamlined by gift list, I'm in pretty good shape. I have a bunch of sock heels to do, about 8 ornaments, and one fabulous scarf (to be detailed soon...) to finish.
I'm hoping to be knitting for myself very soon!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Another gift for the Christmas box

** edited to fix some stupid typos...

As you know, I give away a lot of knitted gifts at Christmas. Although this year, the list is diminishing. I've come to the realisation that trying to get some of my family members to realize that hand crafted is so much better that cheap store bought is a lost cause. (My nephews on my husband's side want the right "label", and will take a crappy acrylic hat to get it. Drives me nuts...) Anyway, no more. This is the year that I don't even try any more - gift cards for all. (although, I will sneak knitting in - everyone is getting their name ornament). That's five fewer gifts I have to come up with. It's meant I can put a little more time into those gifts for people that like them. Like our cottage neighbours. Not only are they the best neighbours we could ask for, they have become fantastic friends - both the parents and the kids. The girls are each getting a honey cowl, Dad is getting a hat (in progress) (he loves his hats...) and Mom is getting a lacy scarf in the colours of her youngest's new school.
It's gorgeous Dye Hard grey (can't remember the colourway name, but I'm sure it's ingenious, Deb's colour names always are...) and the maroon is Ultra alpaca. I used my favourite Suncrest pattern, and expanded it a bit. (I like a big scarfy shawly thing...)

Of course, before blocking, it looks like crap, and is not very long

But, through the magic of blocking...

Gorgeous! (it grew from about 48 inches to about 68 inches in length)

I'm sure Nancy will love it!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

another school hat

'tis the season for new school hats, especially since so many kids I know are going to new schools...
My son started high school, an got his new Wildcats hat, his best friend at the cottage switched schools, so she needed the new Trinity hat, but at Trinity, they are also divided into houses, and well, when she was at Trafalgar, I did make her a Hare House Hat, so I couldn't NOT make a Wright House hat...
Luckily for me, I matched the purple almost exactly (purple is a hard colour to match...), and luckily for her, I could only do it by using Alpakka. So she got a 100% Alpaca hat. And she loves it. I'm glad because I adore her and seeing her happy makes my day!

Sorry for the crappy, unblocked picture - I always end up giving these things away before taking proper photos...

This is the girl that I gave the TRINITY hat to - she wore it to school the other day, and I've been told that a TON of girls (quite a few upper class ones) came over and drooled over it. K was smart - she said it was one of a kind and made for her. She doesn't want anyone else having one!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Kitchener Fair - the good and the not so good

Our Guild made out yearly jaunt to Kitchener on Saturday - jumped on a bus, and knit our way down. I was interested to see how it was going to be this year - it was a new venue.
Well. That was the not-so-good part. Instead of Bingemans, we were at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, known as the Aud. Great place for hockey, maybe not such a great place for a knitter's fair... While you could get into the building without an issue, getting into the arena where the Fair actually was, was a little more challenging. Personally, I didn't have an issue - I was near the front of the bus, met Susan at the door, and we got out tickets and got right in. However, if you were about 6 people behind me, you were not so lucky. The fire Marshall was there, and they were limiting the number of people that could enter. I guess they hit the limit right after we got in. I had no idea this was happening until a bit later when I met up with friends. They were pretty upset about having to wait, and I guess more than a few people in line simply gave up and demanded their money back and left. What that meant for Susan and I was that our lunch was kiboshed - we knew if we went out, we would have a long wait to get back in (some people told me they were waiting over an hour at the door!
I know, lunch is not the big problem, However, bathrooms were outside, the prize table (if you won a draw prize) was outside, and places to sit were outside the venue. There were a ton of pissed off customers, and vendors. There was one small food concession place with 3 tables. (yup, only three!) It's a lot to ask of people to walk around a hard concrete floor, and not give them a place to sit down.
I feel for the K-W Knitters Guild - it wasn't their fault the fire Marshall limited the numbers, but they could have provided a better seating area. At Bingemans, while the fair was split between two rooms (that never bothered me, but I understand it did some...) there was a very nice dining area and sitting area where a ton of knitters could sit and knit, then go back in to shop some more.
Myself and my friends are honestly thinking of not going next year if it's going to be the same. And I heard a lot of others say the same thing. We'll see.

Now the good!

And it is oh so good...
First off - it's great just to spend the day with knitters - Linda, Nancy, Margaret, Iqbal and the other women from the York Region Knitters Guild, and of course Susan - we meet up at this and the Frolic every year!
Second - yarny goodness!

I won these needles on the bus ride raffle - love them! square dpns in size 2.5mm!

Then it was sock yarn.
Cascade Heritage silk - this turquoisey blue with hits of copper and green - it really caught my eye:

And Linda was knitting socks on the way down - Biscotte et Cie "Poisson Clown" - i.e, Clown fish, or Finding Nemo, and I absolutely fell in love with them, so I had to buy it, then I found the same stripy Biscotte et Cie in a green instead of orange, and well, yeah, I had to have that too!

Since I finished the blue Honey Cowl, I knew I'd have to make a grey and maroon one for the sister, so we searched around looking for separate grey and maroon, until I found this Cascade Highland Wool in a mix - perfect!

And since I seem to think cowls are the perfect gift this year, I was sucked into this Alpaca kit for a Dipped Infinity scarf - they had one on display, and it was like buttah - soooooo soft. And while I kid myself that this is a gift, don't be surprised if I keep it...

This next buy is also for a cowl - but one with crisp stripes of navy, white and orange kid silk for my best friend. We met up this summer and I was wearing an orange cardigan, and she commented on how orange, navy and white is her new favourite colour combo. I tucked that tidbit away and will gift her with a cowl for Christmas.

Then I just had to buy this pattern - I absolutely love it, and am planning it in shades of black grey and white, as well as some others that catch my eye...

So, while the experience may not have been great, the outcome certainly was!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Who's going to Kitchener?

Tomorrow is the Annual Kitchener Waterloo Knitter Guild Fair, mostly just know as Kitchener. As we do every year, our Guild is taking a bus down, I will meet up with LuckyCanuck, and we will shop and knit and eat.
This year it's at the Aud instead of Bingemans, so we'll see if the change works. I'm hoping for more wide open spaces, and less crowding at the popular booths.
To be honest, I'm not planning on buying much. I've been pretty good at working from stash this year, and want to continue to do so, but I'm not one to turn up my nose at a great sock yarn or two. (Turtlepurl, here I come!)

Anyone else going to be there?

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How I felt better after the ruffly thing...

Thanks for all the commiserating on the ruffly thing I knit for my MIL. She loves it, so that's important, but it absolutely kills me that this family LOVES the fake fibre crap, and is somewhat indifferent to my favourite natural fibres. And it's not like I give them scratchy woolly stuff - we're talking silks, cashmeres, merinos, alpacas... all the good stuff.
But, I'm lucky in that while you can't choose your family (they came with my husband), you can choose your friends, And I have chosen some of the best. The family that has the cottage next door to ours is a great example - a couple with two teenage girls, and all four of them love and appreciate the hand knits. The Dad gets a hat every year (he's bald, so really wears the hats in winter), and the Mom loves scarves of all shapes and sizes. I often match them to her kids school colours, as she is very involved in both the schools. He youngest started a new school this year, so she will get a Suncrest in the Trinity colours for Christmas.
The girls are among my favourite people to knit for. They've each got school hats, and each got an Icelandic sweater for their birthdays this year.
They've shown an interest in infinity scarves lately ("Not that we're asking you to knit anything...") so one down, one to go.
The honey cowl (a fantastic free infinity scarf pattern) in Cascade Yarns Casablanca - a wool-silk-mohair blend.

Soon, there will be another Honey Cowl in silver and maroon, once I go to Kitchener and buy the yarn. I'm thinking MadTosh...

Monday, 9 September 2013

busy weekend...

I had Friday off last week, so decided to take advantage of the three day weekend at home. First I headed off to the Holland Marsh Farm market - a gem less than an hour from me. I loaded up a half bushel of cucumbers, a whack of garlic, some fresh dill and a bushel of San Marzano tomatoes.
Friday was pickle day - 19 litres of garlic dills, now safely tucked away until at least Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving is October 14th this year).

After washing the cukes in the washing machine (seriously! I do this every time - cold water wash and rinse, and they come out PERFECT), I boiled up my brine and got to work.

Then Saturday morning I started on the tomatoes. My husband thought a bushel seemed like a lot, but I reminded him of how much they cook down, as well as how much tomato sauce we use. To be honest, this bushel will only last us for a few months - next year I have much grander plans of doing 4-5 bushels...

I first cut them in half, and scatter fresh garlic cloves and basil and parsley from my garden over top, then roast them off a bit.
I did this to about half - the other half i just do fresh. We grind them through a food mill (here's where having a 14 year old son comes in handy, especially one that competes in shot put - he can do the grinding...)

I tell you, the food mill was the best thing I ever bought. I used to blanch, peel and seed the tomatoes by hand - this little contraption separates the peels and seeds as you go - SUCH a time saving...

The whole bushel only gave us 14 litres of tomato sauce. I don't actually can pasta sauce - I find it reduced the acid level too much when you add in too many things, and that can be dangerous to store, so I just can the pure tomato sauce, and make my meat sauce or marinara as I need it. I could make buckets of marinara and freeze it, but our chest freezer crapped out on us while we were away on holidays and we haven't replaced it yet. (No, I don't want to talk about the hundreds of dollars of food we had to throw out, let alone the smell. It was heartbreaking...) I may still do this once we get the new freezer...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Please don't judge me...

I had no choice - it was a special request from my MIL, and I have trouble saying no to her. (it helps with family harmony not to say no...)


This is what the fabric looked like.

It's 2 hours of my life I will never get back. (but at least it was only 2 hours...)

I'm making myself feel better with a Merino/silk/ mohair Honey Cowl.