Thursday, December 31, 2009

unfinished business...

I wouldn’t want you to think I hadn’t finished up the remake of ‘Little Scrapper’ - in spite of running out of yarn and having other stuff to do... the yarn had come in early December, but I was kind of tied up by then knitting things for No 52 and other editorial chores, as well as trying to get a few presents made - I managed to get the fronts done and get it all put together on Boxing Day - I didn't have anything to box up and return ;~)!
We did a photoshoot for No 52 this morning and since both Nathan and Rhiana were modelling their new duds for Spring ‘10, I figured we’d finish up the shoot with a couple of shots of them in their matching - not exact - hoodies from No 51 for proof. Rhiana has her first big girl haircut and I think she's adorable!
Oh, and I have to admit, I didn’t quite get all my shopping bags done - I did get 12 finished and I lost my list of who they were for - I made a new list and came up with 20 and figured, what the heck? I’m obviously being way too generous - some of them can wait for the next occasion!!
In No 52, we have hoodies for almost everyone in the family, cardigans galore, ruffles every which way, buttonholes like you wouldn't believe and just lots of really good stuff!!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas cleaning?

well, I don’t really want to give you the wrong impression and if you’re kinda squeamish about grunge, click off right now. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you...the other day, I was swatching for a lace garment for the next issue and I was using my favourite machine, my standard gauge Silver Reed - I knit most of my stuff on this machine and if you’re actually counting, that’s at least 20 plus garments just in the past year. Now, lace can be a bit temperamental, I’ll admit, but once you get everything right, it’s a walk in the park.
So, with the lace carriage, if the same stitch/needle is dropping or hanging up over the gate peg, first thing to do is change the needle. Well, I had two stitches, same ones, that kept messing up on the swatch, so after taking the swatch off, I went to change the needles, even though they looked fine. So, pull out the sponge bar, pull the needle forward, close the latch, push down on the hook end of the needle to push the other end up through the needle slot and yank it out... there’s gunk (gunch? how the heck do you spell that word?) on the end of the needle, like fluff, but worse! yuk! oh, oh! (grimace)
I belong to the school that believes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! if it still runs, run it, faster, even! You know, change the odd needle, add a drop of oil here and there; once in a blue moon, you might need a new sponge bar - but save the old one, just in case. So, I do know it’s been quite some time since my baby’s had what you call a deep cleaning where all the needles come out and it gets serious.
Now, coincidentally, I have one of those Dyson vacs that has the clear, see-through canister that you can see all the crud that you’re vacuuming - it’s quite fascinating in a disgusting sort of way at first - and I had (seriously, this is no joke) cleaned IT out, washed the canister and the filter last weekend after doing my weekly household chores - not that I do that on a regular basis, don’t get me wrong - I was probably trying to avoid doing something else requiring a little more brain concentration - and did it just because. The only reason I mention this is I brought the super-clean Dyson up to my knitter, thinking I could just give it a quick suck job and things would be cool - oh my, stuff started coming up, but I could see that it was stuck around the needles - no help for it but to pull them all, because no matter how powerful the suction, the crud is wedged under the needles. I even had to use the latch tool to dig in and hook stuff out... well, after all 200 needles were out and not a single scrap of lint left in the needle slots, I looked at the vacuum and couldn’t believe what came out of my poor machine...
is this what they call over-sharing?
Anyway, the purple lace cardi is done - it's beautiful, and me and my baby are happy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

grinchy stuff...

I’m not exactly the grinch, but I have not liked Christmas for a long time - there always seems to be way more hype than it’s worth and all I really want is to spend time with my family. My kids and their SO’s are all grown and are financially stable and when they want something they buy it so it has become increasingly difficult and stressful for me to put together Christmas, between trying to think of something they’d like, finding the time to shop and all that (not to mention getting a magazine ready at the same time). I decided to simplify Christmas this year and, instead, sponsor a local family through Children’s Aid and be a Secret Santa – the money I would have spent on my family, who doesn’t need it, can be put toward a very needy family. One of the best things about it was when I told my boys and their wives, they were all enthused and asked if they could help too! So we sort of divided up the list of essentials and the secret family’s wish list - the top of the list was ‘food is highly needed’ - and it’s put a whole new meaning on Christmas this year.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dana told me he was going to make shopping bags (Take an Old Bag Shopping, No 44) for everyone on his Christmas list, 20 in all - I thought, boy, that’s a big list and a lot of knitting, but, you know, I think it’s one of the best gifts I ever given - everyone I gave one to has just totally loved it and mentioned it several times, so what? - I’m in! I started making my list of people who would deserve, like, and appreciate one and before I knew it, I had 16 people...I rounded up all my part cones of Cannele and Bonita -some bags may end up striped - but I’ll have depleted a shelf and made room for new stuff! I can make a bag in 50 minutes (45 min. for a boy bag - no picots and usually a darker colour, brown or navy - I’m already out of black - and actually I’m favouring the boy bags myself) so I’ve made a pact with myself to either make one at the start of my knitting day or at the end - and if I don’t have time for the entire bag, I’ll make handles and stockpile them on garter bars - they have to be made before getting into the bag and by doing a bunch in a row, it makes it quicker....6 down, 10 to go...I’ll keep you posted!

I haven’t had a Christmas tree for the past 15 years and guess what? well, I didn’t actually put up a tree, but I went out and bought some fairy lights to decorate something, out on the deck in front of the patio doors. My little ones, Nate and Nana, will love it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A new way to graft...

I was in San Francisco last month to teach a workshop - we all had a great time. I felt like a rock star - no, really - Betty rigged me up with a cordless headset microphone and it was wonderful. Usually at the end of 2 days of talking to a large group, my voice is stretched to the limit, but this was a piece of cake. Met some great people, had some great food, the weather was wonderful - a girl from Thunder Bay in the winter, can’t ask for much more than that!
We also did a one day hands-on ribber workshop, just making samples and learning cast-ons and stuff, finishing off with the making of my circular socks because it is a great way to learn a lot about your ribber. So in preparation for this, I had made a couple of pairs, to be ready to show the finishing, seaming the ribbed cuff and grafting the toe. Of course, in a one day workshop, things never get finished off anyway and I came home with 5 socks that needed grafting.
The sock is started off with 2X2 (2X1) ribbing that makes a nice stretchy, comfortable cuff. Then the stitches have to be re-hung for the circular portion of the heel and foot of the sock, ending with the toe being shaped with full fashioned decreases on each bed, to the point where 10 sts on each bed remain. This is taken off on waste yarn and hand grafted. The small opening and the multi-coloured sock yarn make it hard to find the edge stitches to begin the grating and I had missed the edge stitches on a couple, which you don’t see until the waste yarn is removed and leaves holes at the edges - not good... So after rehanging, fixing and reknitting a couple of times, I thought, there’s got to be a better way of doing, I figured out how to do the grafting on the machine, without the waste yarn in the way to obscure the edge stitches. I think it works great - I wouldn’t want to do more that a small section like the toe, because usually hand grafting from waste yarn works well for me, but this method is foolproof, I think.
So, my sock pattern is in No 39 - try it out and then try this method of grafting:
Waste yarn, K16R. Release from machine. Sock will be right side out.
To graft on machine: turn sock inside out and bring tail of MC to this side. On main bed, hang one side and then hang second side on top of the other, right sides together, with tail of MC at right side. Remove the waste yarn.
Leaving sts on n’s, with tail of MC threaded in a darning needle, go through first front stitch (closest to you) from back to front.
Go though both sts on first needle back to front.
*Go front to back through front stitch on second needle and back stitch on first needle.
Then, back to front through both sts on second needle*.
Repeat * to * across, making each stitch snug but not too tight.
The spacing of the needles will help to keep sts even.
At left, go front to back on back stitch of last needle. Pull off and darn in end.
Ha! 2 Christmas presents down...