Monday, September 25, 2006

I Should do THIS more often

Voila!!! We have an FO. May I present the lovely Ava from Rowan #34 created in the prescribed yarns. All Rowan Wool Cotton - main colour Coffee Rich. I used to work for Rich Products and Coffee Rich was their flagship product so - I couldn't resist. My son took the picture so it's a bit fuzzy.

I made the size small which tends to always work for me with Rowan patterns. This is a Louisa Harding design -Lousia rocks.

The only qualm I have about the design is the arm length (a bit on the long side for my tastes but I can live with it). I decided to substitute a leather lace in the turquoise colour for the tie made out of yarn as indicated in the pattern.
I also added some beads to pick up on the colours of the flowers. I'm wearing it with a red cami to off set the brown.

Overall, I'll enjoy wearing this sweater probably more than I enjoyed knitting it. I like the fit and colours but with stockinette stitch and very simple intarsia - there wasn't much to keep me enthralled with the actual knitting process. I also found that I had to do a lot of calculations to complete certain sections. The directions were sketchy and said things like "knit until it looks to be about 2 inches shorter than the front". Maybe ok for some knitters but I like number of rows or total inches rather than having to compare to other pieces. Just my beef.

The Wool Cotton is fab and I can't wait to use it in another project.

Here's a closer shot- normally I'm not so serious looking. I guess a fashion photo shoot as we're rushing to karate class doesn't exactly make for a relaxed model. I'll have to have more wine next time. I really love the feeling one gets when a project is finally done and it doesn't suck. I think that this occasion calls for a real celebratory wine.

Therefore, I'll probably break out the Trius Brut. It's made in the traditional Champagne method and all bottles are turned by hand. After all, it's not everyday that one has an FO to show. Though, judging by the size of my stash, figuring out how to turn out one a day may just be needed!

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Love Schacht

I'm a relatively new spinner only having started on a wheel this past January. I tried many wheels during my search and was a good girl waiting to buy one until I'd done my due diligence. I had a feeling that the Schacht would be the one for me (thanks to the Hopester for the endorsement) but after trying one at the Ontario Handspinning Seminar in June (I actually stalked a poor elderly lady who had one and begged her to let me try it) - I knew it was a fit. I've had my wheel since the beginning of July and we're still getting acquainted. I haven't named it - does that make me a bad mom? Here she is in her special corner after giving my husband's retro uber speakers the boot to the curb.

I love the wide treadles and it spins like a dream. I know it's more wheel than I need right now but I'm planning to learn as quickly as I can so I can be worthy of such a beautiful tool. I especially love the laminate wood design shown here. I could sit and gaze at it all day. I should be spinning on it all day and now that my business travel is out of the way for a while, hopefully I can. Right now I'm just futzing around getting familiar with the wheel and playing with plying (jeeze - that sounded positively Seuss) and getting a nice balanced yarn.

My goal is to spin enough lace weight to make a shawl. I'm getting thinner (the yarn not me) but to make a 2 ply lace weight, it will have to be darn thin. I've jumped right into spinning merino which I now discover ain't exactly the easiest fibre for a beginner to start with. Exactly what is the easiest fibre to start with? I read that Bluefaced Leicester and Coopworth are good because they have long staple fibres but are they nice to handle? I'm a soft girl and that's why the merino blend is my drug of choice.

I did play with some Handmaiden merino sliver which had been hand dyed in a colourway called "Origin". Oddly enough, I purchased the same colourway in their Sea Silk yarn when I was in Victoria B.C. in August. I didn't realize it was the same shade at first. It's interesting to see the difference that plying makes. Here is the Sea Silk and my handspun side by side. The handspun is on the right and the Sea Silk on the left (like any of you needed to be driven there...pretty easy to tell isn't it?). The sprig of ivy is my artsy attempt to jazz up the photo. It's a 2 ply done on the Lendrum I rented from my guild. I've yet to ply on my Schacht - that's next and I'm going to ply up two different colours of merino wools from different suppliers. Just to see the effect. I suspect that if I had Andean (chained singles) plied this - it would be less "Barber polelike" (I was going to say Barber polish but that may actually qualify as a racial slur). I'm having fun and being away from spinning, knitting and yoga all last week has made me unbalanced - I need to regroup.

The only drawback to the Schacht is its lack of easy portability. I reason however that the number of times I need to lug it around are so few that it's not a deal breaker for such a great wheel. I also reason that I can always buy another wheel for portability. I'm chomping at the bit to try the new Louet Victoria. Hopefully they'll have one at Rhinebeck to try. I figure I'm just 31 sleeps away!!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006


This is my dog Echo. She's a Flat Coated Retriever. This is how she looks these days.

When the neighbours ask what happened, my husband tells them that I've gone way overboard on my spinning hobby and that nobody is safe from the shearing clippers.

Actually, she's just had ACL surgery. She's 9 and during a walk a few weeks ago, her leg went out from under her. Hopefully, this will do the trick. The vet bill could have funded that Kid Silk ball gown in Rowan #40!

I did have quite an enjoyable day at the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter's Fair. They had record crowds this year. As of 1:00 pm apparently they had 1,600 people. I had taken a certain amount of cash to spend on goodies. I must say this time I was much more spinning focused than knitting. There were more spinning vendors there than before and I tried to buy things that normally I wouldn't get elsewhere. For starters, I scooped this amazing Tom Forrester spindle. It's made of Black Walnut whirl and a Rock Maple spindle. Not only are Tom Forrester's spindles beautiful, they spin better than anything else. Yes - than anything! These babies go forever and the balance is perfect. The roving it's sitting on was purchased at the Black Lamb booth. I'm working with the same roving on my Schacht wheel and it's a delight to work with. She makes up these batts herself.

I picked up a Fiddlesticks "Paisley Long Shawl" pattern but resisted getting the yarn to make it right this minute. It calls for Zephyr Merino Silk and I do adore the lovely royal purple colour. I want to do Print 'O the Wave first out of some Hand Maiden Sea Silk I already have.

I also got the new Fall Phildar. There are a couple of patterns that dazzle. This cardigan in particular jumped out at me. The floral motifs kind of remind me of that cardigan in Rowan #39 but the ruffles and the cables really set this off. I may even make it from stash. I have some Jo Sharp SilkRoad Aran that might just fit the bill. It's a lovely cream colour.

I also got some blocking rods since I've always wanted to try them and I also got my first set of carders. They're the paddle type by Ashford. You see, looking at this naked dog has me thinking what a lovely yarn I could make if I carded a bit of her hair with some wool. It would be a way to immortalize her forever. I've read a tutorial or two but this is something I'll have to give some serious thought. Which brings me to my last purchase for the day.

I got this T-shirt at a booth run by Sheep Strings. On the back it says "Find your way at Sheep Strings". Gotta love a good logo.

Oh, and the wine for today. Well let's just say I got home, put up my feet and poured a nice robust Merlot. All in all - the perfect way to spend a Saturday.

I'm away on business this week so we'll it'll be quiet here for a few days. Cheers!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

3 Times a Lady

I've always liked Louisa Harding. I like her understated yet trendy design sense and on the two or 3 occasions that I've met her in person at a seminar or show - she's been lovely. I was really rooting for her when she left Rowan and launched her own line of yarn. I will admit I was a bit disappointed to see the plethora of ribbon in her line up. I do not like knitting with ribbon. As a trim perhaps but not the whole thing. I've tried it several times and I just can't stay with it.

I did purchase both of her books from last Fall and even the yarn to make this design from one of her first books. It's called Cecile and the "drop stitch / cable work" you can barely see on the shoulder sold me. I actually started the sleeve right after Stitches (at the Philly airport no less) last year. This is how far I got. I just really struggle with the way the colour pooled and I wished there were more subtle colourways. Her Spring and Summer collections were pretty but nothing that "had" to come and live in my stash. Then - a few days ago, that all changed.

I received my new Ram Wools catalog and noticed some lovely patterns featured from Ms. Harding's 3 new books. A little "Googlestalking" later and I found the images on line. I must say, I was blown away and ordered one of them to check it out more closely.
Today, the postman delivered this to me. It's called Winter's Muse Portraits. It's part of a series of books built around the muse theme.

This is one of the most beautifully photographed knitting books I've seen in a long time. It's a winner because there are about 4 patterns at least I'd love to make. I'm thrilled to see soft, feminine shades of both the Kimono Angora and ribbon yarns. This lovely bolero jacket uses a soft pink variegated angora with rice coloured ribbon trim. It's so pretty and the yarn appears to be reasonably priced.

I also love this next bolero jacket and it took a couple of viewings before I realized that the arms are done in the Kimono ribbon for the first third ending in the angora for the balance of the arm. Same shade - just different textures and I love the lacy effect. I'm torn between these two as to which is my favourite.

Last but not least, this sassy little pull over in coral pink and bright raspberry appears to be feminine yet comfortable. I bet it's a fun knit too. I'm trying to show restraint in spite of my love for these designs. Organizing the stash over the Labour Day weekend was a sobering experience. (Remind me not to sober up next time).

My only advice to Ms. Harding would be to keep her website up to date. Knitters like to ogle on line and her website still has the summer collection featured. So what wine would I pair with this book? Why a floral, light Chenin Blanc of course. Elegant, romantic and very classy.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's All in the Accessories

I've been enamoured of the really cute felted handbags that seem to be popping up everywhere these days. I've got to be honest, a nice quick project appeals to me right now and I've been dying to try the new Tapestry (self striping) yarn from Rowan. When I saw this bag in the new Rowan 40 - it all came together. Maybe it's the wicker handles, maybe it's the "Mary Poppins" vibe in the picture - I don't know why but I love this little bag. I was at the Needle Emporium the day the load of Tapestry was being unpacked and scooped 4 balls of this yarn in the shade "Antique". It's a lovely series of purples, violets, golds and taupes. I have a jacket that's a chinchilla colour with lilac polar fleece lining - it'll be perfect!

I even scored the wicker handles from a store in the U.K. and I'll be doing the bobbles in Kid Classic colours "Bear and lavender Ice". I also found some old Rowan Magpie in a grape shade called "Thistle". I've also decided to line it with a cute little gingham print in the royal purple and gold colourway. I'm using my new Knit Picks Options needles for this and I'm blown away so far by the quality of these needles.

It took a few rows to decide if I liked the Tapestry yarn or not. I'm LOVING it! It's got a haze to it and is loosely spun which can result in some catching and split yarn but once you get used to the yarn, it sails along. It's made with wool and "Soya Protein Fibre". The yarn has a "silk-like" luster and is buttery soft. It stripes like Noro but the shades are much more...well....British (subdued).

Ava now has button bands and a collar band so all that remains is the attaching of the arms and sewing up the sides. With school starting this week and a national sales meeting to attend, the knitting and the blogging will have to fit into the few spare moments I'll have. Is it September 16th yet?

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Toys

I'm growing to REALLY love 7:45 am. That's about the time my post man usually leaves my treat of the week in my mail box. This week, my set of Knit Picks "Options" interchangable needles arrived. Voila! Here they are in all their purply glory. I didn't go for the "starter set" because I rarely use anything over a 6mm needle. I ended up ordering ala carte and took 3.5mm to 6mm tips with all the stops in between . I then ordered cables in 24", 32", 40", 47" and 60" to cover my bases. The buzz on these babies is pretty good and they seem to be of decent quality. The real attraction according to various Internet posts is the nice sharp tips these have. I'm making the Vogue Cover skirt from the Spring 2006 magazine with my Holtz and Stein ebony needles right now and those pointy tips are a delight.

There is a little hole at the base of each nickle plated tip of the Options needles where you insert a metal "key" to help tighten the tip onto the cable and hopefully prevent the needle from coming loose. Those purple discs you see in the box are "stoppers" that screw onto the end of the cable so you can use the cable as a holder. Each cable comes with a twin - one for holding and one to continue knitting . That's a very cool and unexpected feature in my book.

I'm generally a far bigger fan of wooden needles than I am of nickle plated. I know many people swear by their Addi Turbos and they do have their place but nothing beats the warmth and silkiness of a luxury wood. I've decided to treat myself to a pair of Lantern Moon circular needles when I go to the Kitchener / Waterloo Knitter's Fair on Sept. 9. Guess I better tell Julie to bring them along when she sets up her booth. Though somehow, I expect she's planning to do so already. I'm planning to christen the Options needles this weekend by playing with some of the new Rowan Tapestry. I could probably buy a small island with the money I've spent on needles but when you spend so much time with a project, the yarn and the needles gotta be worth touching. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!