Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reader Mail: About Needles for Travel

"Cape Cod Momma" asks about whether Addi Turbos are accepted on planes.

In my experience, you are ultimately at the mercy of the people manning the security checkpoints... I've successfully taken a metal circular on a couple of flights, but it was never one of my good ones.

I'd personally leave the Addis at home and take bamboos, just to be on the safe side.

Looks like KnitPicks has bamboo circulars in the length you're looking for...

happy travels!

A Less Than Ideal Travel Project

It's rare I see someone else knitting when I fly, let alone other types of crafting...

There was a woman crocheting on the flight yesterday.

She was crocheting an afghan. With one of those giant "super saver" balls of yarn.

Needless to say, she was having a little trouble stuffing her carry-on bag into the overhead bin...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ideal Travel Knitting, or Not

I'm on the road. Been to the Pacific Northwest for a few days...

lots of time in airports, and on planes, which is all great for knitting.

Bamboo needles, naturally, and I've been working on a lace design -- one of my own -- in TimiQuipa alpaca.

It's beautiful yarn, an absolute joy to work with, and I love the soft blue colour.

Here's the problem... I finished it up lace night and I have no way to block it. And it's driving me insane. I want to see how it looks, how big it's going to be.

I did block the swatch, so I have some sense -- but I'm an impatient sort, and I want to see what it will become!

At least if I knit socks on the road I can wear them when they're done. With lace, I'm stuck with a crumpled heap of yarn that looks like nothing at all....

Monday, August 25, 2008

Much interesting discussion

My last post spurred a lot of interesting discussion, and a very good comment from Christine.

She's right. The eww factor is pretty irrational... . After all, sheep are much dirtier and smellier than your average dog.

(Ok, perhaps a certain cottage-going Goldendoodle of my acquaintance is the exception here, but she does get bathed regularly...)

Any yarn spun from dog hair is washed and treated exactly as sheep wool is, so that any leftover dander or scent or dogginess is entirely removed.

So what's the hang up?

It is a lovely way to make a canine keepsake, if you will. How many dog owners wish they could preserve something of a beloved family pet?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Wool of the Dog?

Funny, I'd just been looking at this book last weekend, and chuckling to myself (and others within earshot) about the table of dog breeds in the back, and the comments on the suitability of various breeds' hair for spinning and knitting.

And now there's this. A whole set of portraits of people wearing their dog hair sweaters, posed with the dog(s) who provided the hair.

As a knitter and a lover of big fuzzy dogs, I feel hugely conflicted about this.

I mean, it's nice to have a use for all the hair that accumulates all over your furniture and floor...

but on the other hand... eww.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


You've seen this design before.

A few times.

I've done it again.

Another of my One Skein Luxury Kerchief, this time in a rather lovely new baby alpaca yarn I've been working with, called TimiQuipa.

Look for it at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter's Fair.

It's nice stuff... great hand, terrific yardage (150m) at an unbelievable price, and I love the creamy natural white.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grape and Grain?

I'm currently reading Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitter's Almanac". (On this page.)

It's no secret I'm not a crocheter, but I've recently been inspired to try again. By this.

Specifically, this.

(Yes, I love him and his Beloved Shaun of the Dead that much. ;-) )

So I've been muddling through, with the help of The Happy Hooker. Great book.

And have been messing with a ball of leftovers, which may or may not turn into a scarf.

So I laughed out loud when I read EZ's proclamations on crochet.

She confesses she's not very good at it, and doesn't really like it... and particularly doesn't like the look of crocheted borders on knitted sweaters...

"Once I was told that one should not mix the grape and the grain, in that case, knitting and crochet..."

that might explain why I always feel quite dreadful the morning after a bout of crochet...

Friday, August 15, 2008

On Yarn Usage & Scales

There I was, before I started knitting the Baby Surprise Jacket, fretting about the yarn requirements.

I eventually decided to leave myself a bit of breathing room, and combine two leftover colours. Which resulted, as you can see, in a rather nice stripey thing.

Problem is, I have no idea how much yarn I used. None at all. I used bits and pieces of partial balls, with some bits and pieces left over.

The answer is to weigh the jacket. I know how many meters are in 50gm of the yarn, so if I know how much it weighs, then I know how much yarn I used. Easy.

Problem is, you need a very accurate scale for this. One that measures to the gram. The sort of scale that drug dealers might use.

And I need one.

In the past, I've been known to smuggle balls of yarn and finished knitted objects into the mailroom at the office at the day job... but you do get very strange looks when you get caught with a bag full of socks, standing in front of the postage machine....


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Baby Surprise Jacket: Finished!

The surprise being that this odd blob...

turns into a sweater if you fold it the right way.

Very clever.
I made a point of changing colours at all the points where the pattern changed -- where you decrease for the sleeve cuff, where you change from decreases to increases on the body, where you work the the increase for the back, where you decrease for the neck, and for the buttonband.

I love how the colours break on the front. And it's a rather amusing puzzle to hand it to a knitter and watch them try to fold it the right way.

I think I've spent more time folding it than actually knitting it...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

FO: Leaf Lace Shawl


I was swatching for this a while ago, and it's been quietly percolating away in the background...

The Leaf Lace Shawl.

The design was inspired by the traditional seaman's scarves, patterned at both ends, with a relatively plain centre. See this book for more information on these types of scarves.

It's made with two skeins of Hopeful Farm's 2 ply fingering weight yarn, one of my most favourite yarns in the word. It's undyed, and it's a truly wonderful espresso colour, almost black, but with more chocolately depth.

The yarn is fairly unprocesssed, and somewhat varied in texture, so I wanted larger scale lace patterning. The Long Leaf lace comes thanks to Barbara Walker, and the lace rib used for the centre is an old standard. I think the result is modern, unfussy and very pleasing.

The pattern will be available for sale at the KW Knitter's Fair, directly from Hopeful Farm, and through me. Drop me a line if you're interested.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Progress on BSJ; Olympic Update

I feel like the Chinese government (no politically incorrect or tasteless joke intended).... It's just that I've found myself in a mad dash to finish something before the Olympics start.

The Baby Surprise Jacket

It's going well enough, but I'm finding it -- gasp -- sort of boring to knit. Turns out that large swatches of garter stitch aren't the thrill for me that they are for some people. I think the problem is that it's not entirely mindless -- you do need to keep track of which row you're on to work various increases or decreases, and I was constantly checking my progress, to figure out the colour changes.

There's one final step left -- the lower/front edging and buttonholes. At the rate I'm knitting, it's probably about an hour's worth of work.

As to the Olympics... my trainer and I are sad to announce that I have been forced to withdraw. I've got some commissioned work -- a hat and mitten set, some technical editing, and a design that's been accepted for a book. The deadlines for all three are coming up fast, so they will be my focus for the next little while.

I will, however, finish the BSJ. I can't promise I'll enjoy it, but I will finish it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Progress on BSJ

EZ is right. It looks like nothing when you're working on it.

Step 1 complete -- all the decreases done.

Step 2 complete -- the first phase of increases, to the neck shaping.

I'm changing colours at the end of each major phase. The first green section goes until you increase at the cuff. Then it's pink for the decrease section, and green for the first increase section.

Looked at it another way, the first section creates a u-shaped piece of knitting with decreases... and the increases are creating a second u-shape, attached to the first. See the green section folded on top of the pink.

Interesting, but still doesn't look like anything.

But fold it appropriately, you get something which actually looks like a sweater.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

More Vintage Goodness: Mary Maxim

Every North American knitter of a certain age knows about Mary Maxim sweaters. Indeed, you don't have to be a knitter to know these sweaters.

Mary Maxim is a yarn and crafts distributor that was established in Canada in early 1950s. They are best known for a particular style of sweater pattern.

You know them... the big bulky, shawl collared sweaters with designs on them. Hunters, vintage cars, bowling pins, hockey players, wildlife and native designs, that sort of thing. Bob Hope sports one above.

A bit of the company's history can be found here and here.

You can always find these sorts of sweaters at vintage stores, and every fall, a new batch of hipsters discovers them as a fashion item.

Mary Maxim is still a going concern, a mail order and online business, with a couple of retail locations. You can even still buy some of these sweater patterns. (They're mostly pretty mainstream in their selection, but I did get one ball of Kureyon for my Lizard Ridge from the Toronto retail location.)

I was given another big box of vintage patterns recently, and hidden amongst the Beehive baby books and 1980s-era Vogue Knitting magazines were these treasures... a handful of original Mary Maxim patterns, and even a catalogue. They're fabulous. Click the picture to enlarge it and see what there is.

The designs are all fully charted, in a great detail.

It's very clever... if you fold down the top of the sheet, the chart is shown for a raglan armhole rather than set-in sleeve.

A nice little extra was this... a booklet containing only charted letters and numbers for personalizing your sweaters...

The copyright dates on these are between 1955 and 1961. No indication on the date of the catalogue, but I have to assume it's that era, too. Although the catalogue does offer a selection of plainer, lighter weight sweaters for men, woman and children, a broad selection of yarn weights and colours, and some afghan kits, most of the 20 pages are taken up with a huge variety of designs for these Mary Maxim sweaters.

Whatever your interest, in the 1950s, there was a sweater for you... hockey, planes, boaats, archery, curling, square dancing, ice skating, fishing...

skiing, golf, wolves, dogs, horses, football....

and the selection for kids is even better -- kittens, puppies, trains, teddy bears, a hen with chicks, various fairy tale inspired designs

... and my favourite... "Outer Space"....

I feel a new project coming on...

Many, many thanks to Dora for this treasure trove.