Thursday, September 30, 2010

Got time for a quickie?

Well, here you go...

A quick little mitten pattern made from selfstriping sock yarn.

To fit my hand - not so big, and certainly not small, using a 4.5mm 40 inch circular needle, I cast on 20 stitches using Judy Becker's magic cast on method and two strands of sock weight yarn. I also used the magic loop method to knit the mitten. This is my favourite method to knit socks, mittens, hats - anything that has a small circumference and is knit in the round.

But, before you can even begin to cast on, you must match up the pattern repeats of the two balls so you end up with this wonderful stripey goodness.  Sometimes it's easier to match up from the outside of the ball as you can see where the pattern repeats start. However, sometimes the yarn manufacturers play games with us, and one skein will be wound the exact opposite. That means one needs to be knit from the inside of the ball and the other from the outside. That's what happened to me this time.

So, after matching up the two strands of yarn, and casting on, I knit the first round plain, then I began increasing 4 stitches per round by knitting the first two stitches on needle one, then increased one, knit until two stitches remain on needle one, then I increased again, then knit the last two stitches. I did the same on needle two - a total of 4 stitches increased in one round. then i knit another round plain. I repeated the last two rows 3 more times - which gave me 36 stitches. then I knit without increasing until the mitten fit over my hand down to the crotch (oops, I said crotch!) of my thumb.

Now you have to make a thumbhole. So for the left mitten knit 2, cast on 10 stitches using the e wrap method, and knit to the end of the round. Don't do any fancy casting on here - you need to use the ewrap method. You will see why when the stitches are picked up. Knit the next round plain. We shall begin to decrease to create the thumb gusset. Starting at the needle that has the thumbhole stitches cast on. Knit 1, SSK, Knit 8, knit two together, knit to end of round. Knit next round plain. Repeat this, decreasing the number of stitches between the decreases by two each decrease round - knit 6 the second decrease round, knit 4 the third decrease round, knit 2 between the decrease stitches, then on the final decrease round you will knit the first 2 stitches, then SSK, K2tog, knit to the end of the round.

 You're on the home stretch now - just knit plain for another inch or so, until the mitten fits nicely just beyond the wrist joint, then do a K2, P2 ribbing cuff for about 2 inches. bind off loosely.

You now have a thumbless mitten - not so good at keeping your hands warm, but great if you text a lot.
Not being a texter, I choose to have a covered thumb. Here's how: Match the yarn pattern as closely as you can to the yarn at the e wrap edge. To pick up the stitches, just poke the needle under the loop of the cast on edge - do that 10 times, then pick up 4 stitches around to top of the thumbhole edge to close up the gap. You have 14 stitches. Distribute them over your circular needle - 7 on each and knit the thumb plain until it just barely covers the top of your thumb. Knit 2 together across the round - 7 stitches remain. Then k1, k2 together 3 times. Break the yarn and draw it tightly through the 4 remaining stitches, and bingo. You have a mitten.

Make another the same except when you are making the thumbhole for the right mitten, you knit 16 stitches, e wrap 10 stitches then the remaining 2 stitches. On the decrease rounds for the thumb gusset instead of knitting 1, SSK, knit 8 k2tog, knit to end of round , you will knit 15, SSK, k8, k2tog, k1. Continue doing the decreases as you did for the left mitten, and finish the mitten to match the left one.

The mitten shown weighs 43 grams, so you should get a pair out of a 100 gram ball of yarn, or two 50 gram balls. Not the best photo, but you might notice the tip of the thumb and the tip of the mitten are both green. I wish I could say I planned that, but truly, I didn't. It just happened. How cool is that?

I'm thinking the next pair I make will be of Austermann Step with the aloe vera and jojoba oil in the yarn. Just think of how soft your hands will be after wearing the mittens a few times!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My next project

And I might just finish this one!

Knitty Deep Fall is up and it is fabulous. This sweater with its celtic knot across the tummy looks like it will become my new favourite. Knit in a bulky/chunky yarn it will be a quick knit. It might actually keep my attention long enough for me to finish it.

If you don't already check out for their patterns and articles, please take some time and do so soon. The patterns are free, very fashion forward, teach loads of techniques, and launch new designers on their paths to stardom.

I can't wait to get to work to choose my weapon. Er, I mean yarn.

I think I like it. Maybe. Just maybe.

So, I have finished week 3 of my weaving lessons and until the third lesson was almost over, I was thinking that weaving just wasn't for me. Really wasn't for me. You see, first you need to wrap the warp. That was pretty easy and not brain taxing. One could wrap a warp in less than half an hour. It's just over under over around around around and over under over - repeat until you have completed half the number of wraps as you need warp threads. If you need 200 warp threads, you need 100 complete trips around the warping board. As you wrap, you have to count to ten - that's about the hardest part.

Then, on the second week, we prepared to thread the warp threads through the hangy down wire things AKA heddles.

Dressing the loom, that's what its called. We started putting the warp onto the loom. (I really can't remember exactly how we did it though)
That's over 200 yards of 2/8 orange cotton thread. Yup, 200 yards that have to be threaded through the hangy down things without tangling them. And they have to go on in order. You can't just grab one and put it on, you have to sort them all by the little groups of 10 that you made when you were wrapping the warp.

Okay, so all the little bundles are tied onto the steel rod thing. and the "X" that we made when we were wrapping is separated by the lease sticks (lower part of the photo for those who are actually interested.)

This photo is a little out of order of events, but here we are winding the warp and using tissue paper to ensure the warp doesn't get snagged.

end of week 2

Here we have the warp hanging over the lease sticks just waiting for me to thread each one of the little suckers through the heddles. But, that's not as simple as it sounds. There are 4! yes 4  rows of heddles, and you have to thread them in sequence of row 1, row 2, row 3, row 4 then back to row 1. I found out it wasn't such a good idea to twist the warp threads around the heddles, but anyway I had the entire 200 heddles threaded at the end of 1.5 hours.

I really wasn't liking this weaving experience. Mostly because I hadn't done any weaving. 

But! Then the sun came out. After a few minutes of instruction on how to wind a bobbin (fun!), and how to thread the shuttle, I was weaving, Really really weaving. A few false starts because of the twisted warp threads around the heddles, but I wove a tabby (?), did the hem stitch and a whole bunch of actual weaving. And it was FUN! Noisy! Rattly! Banging! FUN!

And this is what I have completed so far. Four different patterns. I love it.

So does Purrl. Apparently, a loom makes a really good hiding place.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Interview with Amy Polcyn

Well, the title says it all. Here we are at Stop 3 on the Knit a Dozen Plus Slippers blog tour, and my interview with Amy. If you aren't familiar with Amy's work - here's a link to her website -

The slipper I am reviewing is the Fair Isle Bootie pattern - knit in a worsted weight wool. Amy used Cascade 220 wool for the sample in the book (I'm using SRK Perth for mine).

I can imagine them keeping my feet warm all winter. The slipper is knit from the cuff down and the fair isle pattern is completed in just 18 rows. Then the rest of the bootie is knit just like a plain vanilla sock. A crocheted cord and pompons are the finishing touch.

I have to say at this point I am so honoured to have been chosen to take part in this tour and to have had the opportunity to ask Amy some questions.So without further adieu let's get started.

 My questions are in red, Amy's responses are in blue.

Knittin4britain: You are relatively new to the knitting design world – 2005 was your first year, and you have published so many designs. How has your life changed in the past 5 years? Do you travel more? Do you have time to knit for yourself?

Amy: My life has changed a lot over the past 5 years! I started out being an elementary school teacher who published a few patterns on the side to an overworked teacher trying to publish more designs than I could really handle to a full-time designer and technical editor. Since I haven't sought teaching gigs in the knitting world, I haven't done much traveling, other than to TNNA (yarn industry trade show) each June in Columbus.

I rarely have time to knit for myself anymore, but when I do I choose smaller projects so I can be sure to finish them! I still have a Bohus-style sweater in progress for myself that I started 4 years ago. I'm not sure if I'll ever finish it.

Knittin4britain: In your newest book Slippers, the fair isle boot looks like a good introduction to fair isle knitting and sock construction. Do you have any tips on how to keep the floats loose in the colourwork?

Amy:  Yes. Work the floats in a manner that feels ridiculously loose, because believe me, it won't be at the end. I like to spread the stitches just worked out on my right needle a bit before bringing the new color across the back to ensure there is enough length to the float. Be particularly careful when changing needles (with double points or 2 circulars) as it is very easy to make the float too tight at these points!

Knittin4britain:  In looking at all your designs from various publications, you don’t seem to have a favourite item, such as socks or hats, to design. You do it all! From where do your design ideas and inspirations come? Does the yarn “talk” to you, or do you tell the yarn what it’s going to be?

Amy:  I do like it all-- I guess for me trying to specialize would get boring. There really aren't any techniques or types of garments I dislike in knitting, so I'm eager to do them all. As far as where my ideas come from, sometimes it's the yarn that speaks to me, but more often I get inspired from things I see-- a fabric, an object around the house, or vintage clothing. Sometimes I dream ideas and wake up needing to write them down, or get suddenly inspired while I'm doing something else. I keep a big sketchbook of ideas, full of sloppy little sketches, pictures torn out from magazines, etc. Usually the yarn choice comes second. Once I get an idea sketched out, I'll start thinking about what yarn would work best, or I start digging through my massive collection of sample skeins until I find the right one.

Knittin4britain: In your profile on your design, it’s revealed you are an elementary school teacher. Have you taught any of your students to knit?

Amy:  I was an elementary teacher for about 10 years, though I haven't taught now since 2007 when I left to design full-time. While I was teaching (first and second grade), I did teach a few students to knit each year. I kept a supply of leftover skeins and some needles I got at a garage sale in the corner of my classroom for the kids to use. One year I decided to teach the entire class, and we made a large felted wall hanging/rug for the school benefit auction. Teaching my students to knit was great for a number of reasons-- it provided a great way for those students who finish early to keep busy, it improved fine motor skills (important at that age), and reinforced math skills.

Knittin4britain:  Knitwear design is all about math – do you have any tips for newbie designers?

Amy:  Yes. Get some good books on design-- my favorites are Sweater Design in Plain English, Designing Knitwear, and best of all The Knitter's Guide to Sweater Design (sadly out of print). Invest in stitch dictionaries and good technique-driven books. Also, gather up as many size charts, etc as you can (such as those from CYCA, the ones in Sweater Design in Plain English, etc) and use them to get a sense of how sizing works and how clothes change (or don't!) from one size to another. The math in knitting design is not complicated, but it does take some practice. Start simple and try making things fit yourself successfully, then work on extrapolating it to other sizes. Work on adjusting stitch counts to fit different size motifs and stitch patterns. Practice, practice, practice.

Knittin4britain:  I like the story about the bunny on your blog The wee baby in the photo must be around 10 years old now. Does she knit?

Amy: She is 10, very good! My daughter does not knit (yet!) though recently she has started to express an interest. She does, however, enjoy spinning and has her own spinning wheel. The two of us enjoy spending a pleasant afternoon spinning together when we can. She also weaves a bit.

Knittin4britain:  Did you finish your Master’s Knitting Course…I still haven’t finished level 1, but I did get both my CYCA Teaching certifications.

Amy:  No, I never did--no time! I completed Levels 1 and 2, and all of Level 3 except for finishing knitting the Aran sweater I designed. At this point I confess I probably never will, but I did learn a lot! It improved my knitting immensely to have input from a third party. Since I am self-taught, it helped me feel confident I was "doing it right." I also received both CYCA teaching certifications.

Amy's work is published in many knitting magazines, and on several knitting websites. Her book is available at Annie's Attic. The download function is brilliant - just order and pay for the pdf file, download the file and poof! The book is on your computer. I save all my knitting patterns on to a USB drive that is attached to my key chain so I have them with me all the time - at least when I know where my keys are.

I hope you enjoyed our little interview -tomorrow be sure to visit Eurona Tilley of Hands in Delight --  for the next interview in the blog tour.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Have any of you had a premonition that something good - or bad - was going to happen? And if you acted upon the premonition you could avoid any inopportune consequences? Last month, around the beginning of August, I had a sick feeling I was going to lose the diamond from my engagement ring. Now, there was no reason for this feeling. The stone wasn't loose, the claws holding the stone looked fine to me (but what do I know?), and I had been wearing the ring for more than 16 years with no problems.

This feeling was so strong I had Mr Knits take the ring to our jeweller and have it checked, and repaired if necessary. On the 23rd of August I picked the ring up and paid $100 for the repair. Good insurance I felt.

Wrong! I couldn't have been more wrong. Last Saturday, early in the morning I was making the trek to Watertown NY to pick up some orders, and while I was driving I adjusted my seatback. (Yes, this has everything to do with the story.) It's a pretty tight fit between the seat handles and the door, but I was able to make the adjustment. Then, I resumed my customary driving pose - left elbow on the windowsill, head resting on the outside of my fist.

And I cut my face! The 1.25 carat diamond had fallen out! I almost passed out!

It was still dark out as it was just before 6:00 am, so I kept driving until there was some light and I pulled over to see where the stone had fallen. I couldn't find it. And I was devastated. I had to continue my journey to the States, and get back to the shop as soon as possible. I can't tell you how sad I was.

We still haven't found the diamond; I guess it didn't fall out when I adjusted the seat back. We looked for that darned diamond all Saturday evening and all day Sunday. No stone. Fortunately our insurance covers part of the replacement. But, it will never be that stone that Mr Knits found at a pawn shop in Edmonton AB back in 1994. That special stone that I loved so much.

As far as premonitions go, I'll pay more attention to them. Wish I would have one that foresaw us winning the lottery! Now that would be a premonition worth having!

Remember tomorrow is my turn on the blog tour. See you then.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another thing I was never going to do

But, I'm doing it. Weaving, that is. About a year ago, I vehemently proclaimed I would never spin - there was just too much pretty yarn out there I could knit, why would I want to spend my time spinning? I sort of have eaten humble pie on that statement as I love spinning. I think I like it more than knitting. (Yes, that is a sacriligeous statement, but true.) However, until a few months ago - June in fact - I still insisted that I wouldn't be interested in weaving. Well, bring on the humble pie, and serve me a big piece.

Last Monday, Lynn and I trundled off to Barry's Bay for our first weaving lesson at Hummingbird Weaving Studio. We learned a lot of new words like heddle and weft and...well other words I can't remember at this time of the morning. We chose our colours for the sampler table runner we are making (surprisingly enough I choose pink and orange), Lynn sensibly chose sage green and linen. And we learned how to wrap a warp.

Actually, we got the hang of the whole over under over back and forth pretty quickly. If we could just learn to count to ten, we probably would have finished much sooner wrapping the warp. This week, I can't even guess what we're going to do, but I think it might be threading the loom - all 210 little wirey things that I think might be called heddles. But small hangy down wirey things with holes that slide along a bar describes them about a well as I can.

This is one of the looms I own - a Leclerc Bergere 24 inch rigid heddle loom. This one was given to me by Suzanne last year, and I sorta kinda was thinking I might want to figure out this weaving thing.

The Leclerc came complete with a partially woven project on it - Purrl has spent many happy hours sleeping on it. I must remember to get a photo of her and the loom soon.

I also have a Schacht Cricket loom, also known as a knitter's loom as it happily uses thicker yarns such as we knitters have in abundance in our stashes. I bought this one at TNNA in June when the weaving bug bit.
cricket loom

The difference between these two looms is the Leclerc is 24 inches wide and the Schacht is 10 inches (perfect for weaving scarves!)

So, all I can say is I shouldn't say never. What a wonderful thing it is being a woman, being able to change my mind like I change my shoes.

Shoes! Did I mention I got new shoes? Now, that's a story for another day. But the shoes are pink and beige and I love them. I'd never heard of Jambu shoes before, but I will be looking for them next time I need new shoes. These shoes are so comfortable - and quiet. I can sneak up and scare Mr Knits so easily now! Makes for a lot of fun at work.

Now I have to knit some more socks that coordinate with them. My red tweed socks just don't cut it.

Be sure to come back on Wednesday for my interview with Amy Polcyn. I'm stop 3 on the blog tour promoting her new book Knit a Dozen Plus Slippers.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just a little hint of something happening soon...

Starting Monday morning September 20th, and continuing each day until September 29th is a blog tour that reviews a new book by knitting goddess and extremely talented designer Amy Polcyn.  I was one of the lucky ten bloggers chosen to interview her and review one of the slipper patterns in her new book, Knit a Dozen Plus Slippers.

Follow the Tour!

Day 1 (Sept 20): Beth Smith of Three Sheeps To The Wind-- 

Day 2 (Sept 21): Kate Oates of Tot Toppers-- 

Day 3 (Sept 22): Nancy Fradenburgh of Knittin' For Britain-- 

Day 4 (Sept 23): Eurona Tilley of Hands in Delight-- 

Day 5 (Sept 24): Jocelyn Sass of Crochet Cafe-- 

Day 6 (Sept 25): Amy Duncan of Two Sticks and A Sheep -- 

Day 7 (Sept 26): Katherine Vaughan of Knit With KT -- 

Day 8 (Sept 27): Rachel Horsting of Rachel Erin -- 

Day 9 (Sept 28): Melissa Monday of Monday Morning Knits -- 

Day 10 (Sept 29): Nancy Rieck of Knitting Gourmet -- 

That's me in the Day 3 position! Hope you join in the tour and visit all 10 blogs.

And, we have a winner!

Diane L, from the Napanee area is the winner of "So You Think You Can Swatch"! She wins a $50 gift certificate from the yarn shop. Second prize goes to Lynn Y of Northbrook, and third goes to John L of Cloyne/Whitby - both of them win a $25 gift certificate.

The winning swatches

Diane's Swatch

The yarn used to knit the swatches was Stylecraft's Special Value Aran - a mix of 80% acrylic and 20% wool. The gauge specified by the manufacturer was 18 stitches and 24 rows using 5mm needles. To calculate the winner I determined there were 432 stitches in a 4 inch square, then using Microsoft Excel, I input all the row and stitch counts, then figured out the percentage. The chart of all the participants is below.

Stitching up the squares into blankets will begin shortly. Thank you to everyone who took part in this little challenge.  Congratulations to all!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Public Service Announcement

This is going to be a drive by posting - quick and (almost) to the point.

If you are browsing the internet and come across an interesting blog or email message and there is the notation or warning  NSFW, don't, and I mean don't click on it. I now know this from personal experience. Actually, you could click on it if you like super XXXXX rated movies. But I think most of my readers have more gentler sensibilities.

Yesterday, I was researching some cashmere yarn that I just ordered in. Yes, 100% cashmere, but I am getting away from the public service announcement or PSA. I was reading a review about this particular yarn (Laine Du Nord Royal Cashmere) and further down in the post, there was a little thing about "if you like yarn porn, you might like this. Remember kiddies, it's NSFW."

Holy cow, I have never seen so many butts and boobs and body parts in between! And the groaning, don't forget the groaning. I panicked. There were customers in the shop, browsing!

I was so rattled, I couldn't figure out how to turn the darned video off!. I minimized the screen, but while the video couldn't be viewed the groaning and moaning could still be heard. I closed my laptop lid, but the the video kept running and the moaning - well, it got louder. I turned the computer off, and all was quiet.

 Apparently NSFW means "Not Safe For Work". A quick google  search would have told me that. Here's an excerpt from :

Not suitable/safe for work (NSFW), not work-suitable/safe (NWS), or not school-suitable (NSS) is Internet slang or shorthand. Typically, the NSFW tag is used in E-mail, movies (such as on Youtube) and on interactive discussion areas (such as Internet forumsblogs and community websites) to mark URLs or hyperlinks which may be sexually explicit or include audio containing profanity, helping the reader avoid potentially objectionable content. For example, one may tag a URL as unsafe: (NSFW)

Consider yourselves told.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This is what I encountered when I turned the corner coming to work this morning. Trucks and equipment everywhere! Peterson Road is effectively blocked to traffic.What on earth could be happening?

And what is Mr Knits doing, leaning on Rusty the trailer?

He's looking at this! Our parking lot is being paved today! I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this. Praying to the Mother Merino of Cashmere worked this time, and the lot will be finished before the snow flies. Which, up here, could be anytime now.

This is just one of the major changes happening around here. There will be more to come. Stay tuned.