Wednesday, 31 August 2016



One Boy's Sweater.  My design based on a basic child's raglan sweater pattern.  Made with Mary Maxim Ultra Mellowspun DK - 70% acrylic and 30% nylon in black, hot orange and off white.  Finished securing the ends and the knitted neck opening this morning.


One knitted scrapbook cover.  The category is Fair Theme.  The theme this year is Farmer's Bounty.  I cast off this baby at 2 am this morning.  Then I cut the steeks and blocked it before collapsing into bed at 3.  This is my own design.  I used motif's from various sources and modified some to fit.  Some I created myself.  The finishing is not up to my usual standards for myself but after midnight my right hand had cramped up.  I had trouble getting the needle into the next stitch and kept missing the needle as I tried to wrap it for the next stitch.  I started this baby Monday morning and knit on it for a total of about 30 hours.  I should have made a hat.


42 knitted items packed and ready for the Fair.  I headed over around 3 this afternoon after finishing the last 2 items, packing the goods and getting the yarn samples ready for each item.

The judging is tomorrow.  In the meantime I am done.  My house is trashed but I am heading to bed.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

With a Little Help from my Friend

Doll Warning!

This post is heavy with photos of a knitted doll.  I knitted her without imbuing evil into the stitches.  I don't expect she will come to life in the night but if she does, I promise all she will do is put on Arabic pop music and dance around.


My friend Ang, a professional belly dancer in her own right came over yesterday with some bits and bobs so I could put this girl into full regalia.

Now as dancers we do not normally dance with a veil over our face.  However, no matter how I tried, I could not get her face right.  I would not call her a handsome girl.

The earring and necklace pendants thanks to Ang.  I added some makeup which helped her looks.

The veil does improve things.

She was just so much fun to dress up.  I am thrilled with the little details and had a hard time stopping.  This girl took more than a day of my time to assemble and finish.  The knitting was the least part of the creation.

I'll have you know that those breasts took me more than an hour to get even and nicely shaped.

The ankle bracelet thrills me and I just can't tell you enough hope happy it makes me.

Look, matching bracelet and a ring of my own design!

Another bracelet and ring of my own design.

See! She has a belly button!

The chains and coins are courtesy of Ang.  It is from a real hip  that broke into pieces during a dance.  It did not survive the hip action.

I just can't get enough of that anklet!

Let me now tell you about her hair.  The yarn is a mix of wool and silk.  I bought lots of this from Grand River Yarns and used it to experiment dying with.  I converted giant 250 gram skeins into 25 gram ones and for 2 summers played with them in the dyepot.  Her hair is the result of 2 of these experiments.  I used two colours - I wanted her to have highlights.  The dark brown is from black  walnut hulls I scavenged from the neighbourhood.  The lighter reddish brown is a mixture of walnut hulls and sandlewood.  Her hair pleases me.  Took me a couple of hours or more to attach it to her head.

She hasn't yet revealed her name to me.

I progress on the boy's sweater.  Here is the front.

 Yes the wrong side is forward.  You just have to look at this  piece sideways and the yarn springs to life and wraps itself around and around until you have an intertwined mess.  I have to straighten the hanging bobbins before each row can be started.  It is taking a long time to knit this section and I ham having to bribe myself to keep going.  You can pee after you do two more rows!  Finish another row and you can have a chocolate!  You can knit on the next project once you reach the underarms.

The back and sleeves are done.

The  above photo was taken in bright sunlight.  I was outside for thirty seconds to take this and when I picked up the pieces to come inside I felt steam was rising from them.  No way I was going back out for a better picture.  I was afraid the acrylic might melt.

2 projects to go.  3 days to get it all done.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Crisis Averted

I am taking a few minutes to update you in the final days of preparation for the Harrow Fair.

Yesterday I was knitting on the Boy's Sweater and was getting low on orange.  So I reached into the bag of yarn for the second ball.   I shifted all the black balls.   My heart sank.  There were only black balls.  Panic.  A few tears.  Time to work on Plan B.  I texted Hubby on Pelee Island.  I called Mary Maxim's London store.  Yes they had seven balls in the store.  They would put three for me behind the counter - just in case there was a run on Hot Orange.  I don't need three but at this point who wants to take chances.

Hubby texts me back.  Yes he will drive the 2 hours to London to pick up the yarn for me.  I suggest he take the bike. This would be a good excuse for a ride.  Argggg.  Forecast is for rain.  Hubby says he knows how important this is to me; will suffer and take the car.

I am now petrified of running short so suggest he get a ball of the off white as well.  This afternoon I have the yarn.  Crisis averted.

I have taken some time off to work to work on the last of the projects.  Took some unexpected time yesterday when the phone lines went out  taking the internet with it.  It meant the office where I was working also lost access to the servers.   Home I went and back today for a couple of hours to get stuff done that can't wait until after Labour Day.  Then I drove out to Harrow to drop off my entry list and pay the annual dues.

I had enough orange last night to finish the second sleeve.  Both now washed and drying.

I have one sleeve stacked on top of the other to make sure both are the same.  It takes a bit longer to dry but easier to lay out.

I used the additional yarn waiting time to finish this.

I hate putting in zippers.  I try pinning them in first but the pins distort things, the zipper slips up and away from the edge and I am always stabbing myself with the pointy ends  Don't like it at all.  On the other hand, I love office supplies.  I once did a presentation to show what you could use from an office supply store for knitting.  I now have a new use for office supplies.

The paper clips worked a charm.  They held the zipper in place.  The fabric did not distort.  I did not get stabbed.  I could baste around them.  Perfect.

I got the zipper in and got it in straight.  Now at this point the sweater could be considered complete.  I know it will be displayed with the zipper closed.  It looks fine from the outside and neat enough on the inside.

The problem is that I am me.  I could not leave at this.  I have this theory that a badly knitted sweater that is finished really well is a decent sweater.  Wonky stitches will even out over time with washing and wearing.  A well knitted sweater finished badly is just a bad sweater and will always be a bad sweater.  It will always look off - like a home made home-ec project by a 9 year old.  I don't think this sweater ranks as well knit at least by what I am capable of doing.  It is acceptable but not up to my usual standards.  I want it to be well finished; so I got up early this morning and added ribbon to hide the inside of the zipper.

The ribbon is cute and hopefully delight the little girl this sweater is destined for.   I think it is adorable.  I am finally satisfied and put the sweater away in the dresser with the other finished projects.

While waiting for Hubby to return from London I started stuffing the limbs of the belly dancer.  I also finished her face.  The eyes and lips have taken me weeks of worry.  I would do a little and look at it.  Was is acceptable?  I was so afraid as I went along I would mess it up and have to start over.  So a little dab of paint then wait for it to dry.  It took a lot of paint selection to complete.  All I needed of each colour was a drop or two but look what I had to buy to get those!  Luckily they were on sale at the dollar store.  I think I am happy with the results.  I will have to touch up the edges once they are cut out.  I will wait to cut until I am ready to apply them - can't risk losing them.

Luckily I have a small bag of fibre-fill.  I used to sew teddy bears and have left-overs in the closet.  I would hate having to buy a big bag for this project.

So I now have 2 projects to finish and one still to cast on.  My entry form includes them all, even the lapghan.  I truly am an optimist!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Doll Warning

If you have a doll phobia or if doll clothes sending you screaming from the room better skip over the early pictures in this post.  It is a rather doll heavy one today.

Dressed doll on stand - Done.

Doll outfit mounted on cardboard - Done!

On doll:

 It took hours to sew all those little buttons on the dress but I think it was worth it.

Here it is ready for the Fair:

I am tired of seeing the doll clothes mounted on plain ugly cardboard at the fair.  I glued a lovely square of paper on first to add some interest.

Other knitting not otherwise listed - Done

I love the word "done".

I asked Hubby if he had any ideas what I could make for the other not listed category.  I needed something easy, quick and hopefully spectacular.  He said he could use a hat.  Two out of three ain't bad.

We discussed yarn choices, colours and design.  He wanted the blue he brought back from Listowel.  I wanted to add some patterning  to the three inches of plain knitting between the ribbing and the shaping for the top of the head.  I chose snowflakes.  Manly enough and kept my interest in knitting this.  Something to look forward to after all that ribbing.

I finished the hat and blocked it on Heady De Verre.  Hubby saw it and loved it.  He was delighted with the Tie Fighters [from the movie New Hope - but if you are old like me and saw the movie in theatres in 1977 you remember it just as Star Wars].

Wait - I knit snowflakes! Can you see the fighters?

If not, look at the space between the snowflakes - from the centre of one snowflake to the other.  See the resemblance?


(photo copied from Wikipedia here)

Just a little trivia on the colour of the Tie Fighters; in the original movie these space ships were white.  When the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were filmed, the colour becomes a bit grayer with bluish tones.  The fighters in this hat are the colour scheme of Empire and Jedi.

The pattern is Watch Cap from Knits Men Want made in Paton's Classic Wool DK Superwash in Denim Heather and Flagstone.  Sadly, I suspect the colours are discontinued since they were in the tent sale.  I love this pattern and I have knit it a lot including a hat for myself.    All you need is a gauge swatch and once you have your gauge, the pattern tells you how many stitches to cast on - extremely versatile.  This hat took two 50 gram balls and a small amount of contrast and was knit on 3.75 mm needles.  The snowflake chart is from 1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Luise Roberts.  Again a book I use a lot.

Seems I have been knitting this snowflake variation a lot.

See - same snowflake in beads on the wrist-warmers:

Another snowflake variation in the Snowflake sweater that has been kicking my ass.

The sad part is I didn't notice all the snowflakes until after I had finished the hat but maybe we should not count the hat as it has TIE fighters on it, not snowflakes.

The additional yarn arrived from Mary Maxim on Friday.  I finished the second sleeve of the sweater and washed and blocked both on Saturday.

The rest of the sweater has the ends tied in and the side seams done.  Just waiting for the sleeves, collar and zipper.  The zipper was purchased on Friday so I am good to go.

I have started the Boy's Sweater.  See a part sleeve.

I know it is absolutely crazy to leave the objects I am designing to the last  but that is the way it is working out.  I want to knit a facsimile of this:

I have started charting out the Fair Theme entry.  Again stupid to wait til the deadline to design something.  No knitting yet but measurements made and seeing progress on the motifs.

38 finished.  3 in process.  1 left to cast on. 10 days to go.  Still not talking about any Lapghan.  Hubby asked me if I wanted to help out with a charitable event on Friday he is voluteering at.  I told him I was going to be too busy panicking.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Running out of Time

Hubby had a lovely short trip.  I wish I  made more progress on my entries.  I did not have time to get to the Spinrite tent sale in Listowel this year. Hubby came home through Listowel on his way home and brought me some goodies.

There are 16 bags of 6 balls of Paton's Classic Wool Superwash DK and one bag of 3 balls of Bernat Dippity Dots.  He tells me there was still room for more but these were the colours he liked.  They have been inventoried and stored away in the stash.

I was well on my way to finishing the Snowflake jacket this week.  I 've been forcing myself to knit on it and had finally found a rhythm. I was down to the last sleeve.  The only knitting left would be the collar.  I plan to knit it directly on the sweater instead of knitting it separately and sewing it on.  That's when I ran out of red.  I called Mary Maxim and they sent me off a ball of red - no questions. I had bought a kit and I was not leaving long ends or messing up the pattern.  The red was for the stranded bands of red and white and I was getting gauge.  The pattern said this section was stranded.  I had the new ball by Friday (two days later) and away I knit on the sleeve again.  Before I could get to the last band of red  and cream, I ran out of cream.  [insert curse words of your choice here] I think the cream shortage was my fault.  By the time I was working on the last sleeve I had finally got the hang of the intarsia section of the big  snowflake.  I also chose to do the smaller snowflakes using stranded knitting instead of intarsia like the pattern said to.    I got onto their mail order site and ordered another ball of cream and a ball of medium grey for good measure.  I have lots of the dark grey left.  The wait has given me a chance to work the ends in and start the seaming.

I started the dressed doll on a stand.  I chose the Mum's outfit from the booklet from Jacquay Yaxley's Knitting Emporium, Rose Cottage Part 2 The Wedding.  Booklet is out of print.  Over the years I have knit a lot of the outfits from this booklet and Part 1.  I have both.  I have had them for many years.  I bought them at Lewiscraft and that retailer has been out of business since 2006.  I love these books because everything in them is knitted - clothes, furniture, the dog and even the wedding cake.

The outfit is almost completely knitted and blocked.  Only the collar on the jacket is left to knit.  I have a bit of finishing yet to do but here is a sneak peek.

The pattern calls for a flower for the hat.  I attempted it three times and gave up in frustration.  I dug through my button box and came up with a red star button and added some yellow accents.  The yellow is necessary for the flower to tie in the purse - also yellow.  I am trying to find a fine enough sewing needle to go through the holes in the snap fasteners.  I spent Friday afternoon hunting all over Windsor and Essex for a doll stand.  This was the smallest I could find and located it at Crafty Business on the border of Windsor and Tecumseh.  It holds her up and will do for the fair.

You would think that doll clothes would be a quick knit.  After all they are small.  The problem is that they have as many ends to secure as a full sized outfit but no space for putting them.  I had to do the back seam three times to get it right.  I can't see the tiny stitches and finally sewed the whole back seam from top to bottom then unpicked the sections that needed to be left open.  I am dreading sewing up the jacket sleeve seams and sewing in the set in sleeves.

Hubby and I had tickets for Saturday for the Kingsville Folk Festival so we could see Buffy Saint Marie.  Hubby has been a big fan since 1967.  I liked her music and knew who she was.  Hubby was convinced she came on at 8pm.  So after it stopped raining we headed to Kingsville.*  Turns out she was not scheduled to appear until 10:20pm.  We had three hours to wait.  I knitted on the doll outfit to be mounted on a card.  I chose this pattern.  I even had some of this yarn in my stash.  However, I am making this dress shorter and in blue.  I found some buttons I think will work in place of the sequins and beads used in the original.  I found them while hunting for the doll stand.

I had to stop knitting when it got dark out about 9pm.  I had reached a point where it was time to start decreasing and I would have to count.  I could not check my work in the dark.  I did not think that the other audience members in the park would appreciate me turning on the flashlight to count my stitches.  The flashlight was for use in the portapotties.  I hate using those after dark.  Never know what you might accidentally touch or step in.

If you are wondering what has happened to the stuffed toy it is still in pieces waiting for assembly.

Two weeks and three days left.  Three projects not started and four still in progress.

* I have no complaints about the rain.  We are having such a dry spell and badly need the rain.  Besides watering my flowers takes time away from knitting.  Hubby and I packed up rain gear in case it continued to rain for the concert.  Luckily for us it did not rain again but I would be happy if it poured rain again today.  I have huge cracks in the  back yard that may soon swallow up Reba.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Three Weeks Three Days Left

Three weeks, three days and 17 hours to the Harrow Fair according to the countdown clock on the Fair's website at the time of writing this sentence.

I have 2 projects to finish and 5 projects still to start.  We are not going to talk about the lapghan.

I finished the animal sweater.  Hubby can insist I don't knit for him.  Poor Reba can't.  She can only protest about putting it on.  She was a trooper though.

 The pattern is Bright Stripes from Patons A Dogs Life.  I have had this pattern book for so long I can't remember when or where I acquired it.  I have made many of the patterns in this book.  This one is the one on the cover.  I showed Hubby that this was my choice for the animal sweater category.  He raised his eyebrows and his face says, "Are you sure?".  I have seen that look before and said, not in those colours.  "Oh, okay then", he said.

Here it is for its final blocking.  It is its second blocking.  The first was when it was still flat.  I sewed the seams and tried it on her.  Too short on the backs so added a few more stripes.  So after her modeling session back into a bath it went.

(If you are thinking of making it yourself, the insert I have added between the leg openings is my own creation to get it to fit my expanding terrier who thinks she is constantly starving.)

Let me tell you about this yarn.   This is 2 ply fine 100% wool.   I bought the blue and pink at the MacAusland's Woolen Mill on Prince Edward Island back in the summer of 2008.  I also bought some natural white and natural gray.  I wanted to experiment with natural dying but I did not want to spend a lot of money on yarn blanks while I was still figuring out what I was doing.  The stripes represent my first forays into dying yarn.

From the bottom up in the striping sequence:

Stripe 1 - yellow.  Marigold flowers from my garden in 2009 on natural white.
Stripe 2 - brown.  This was first dyed with marigolds on natural grey yarn.  I must not have liked the colour as I overdyed it with black walnuts later in 2009.
Stripe 3 - pink.  See above.
Stripe 4 - I don't know what colour to use to describe this.  It is natural grey dyed with mullein.  It is now a beigy grey.
Stripe 5 - Again I don't know what colour name to use.  It was natural grey dyed with a mixture of brown and red onion skins in 2009.
Stripe 6 - beige.  Natural white dyed with mullein.
Stripe 7 - blue.  See above.

Stripe 4, 5 and 6 are why some people in town here think I am a crazy lady.  I go into the grocery store and at the checkout I have a clear plastic bag full of onion skins.  I cleaned up the display.   I feel like I am doing them a service.  The mullein I harvested from a bike trail behind a seed cleaning plant.  Anyone seeing me harvesting weeds things must think I am crazy.  Sometimes if I see them watching me cutting various weeds I consider dye plants, I talk to myself.  This is just to mess with their minds.  The odd person asks what I am doing.  Most just give me extra personal space.

I understood that the mullein would give a peach colour and then if overdyed with indigo you would get sea foam green.  I got beige, felt disappointed and have not tried overdying with indigo.  Looking back now, it is possible I mis-remembered what I was told and beige is the right colour.  It doesn't matter at this point.  What matters is it looks lovely as a stripe in this sweater.

The girl's sweater category sweater has been nagging me so much I had to work on it.  This sweater has reminded me that I really don't like to do intarsia.

Back is done and blocked.  The fronts are drying.  The first sleeve is 1/3rd done.  There will be hundreds of ends to tie in and secure.  I know it will be lovely when done.  In the meantime it is sheer force of will that compels me to carry on with it.  I hope I do not run out of the red.  The ball is getting very small.

In case you are interested this is a kit from Mary Maxim.  There is nothing wrong with the pattern.  The pattern is clear.  The problem is me.  I prefer to work with 100% wool but because this sweater needs to be machine washable the yarn is 75% acrylic and 25% washable wool.  It feels lovely to knit with but I am so bad at intarsia a sticky wool would work better with my skill level with this technique.

Hubby is on a bike trip.  I have a lovely block of time alone with Reba to knit.  I also have to draft my shopping list for him.  He promised to stop at the Spinrite tent sale in Listowel tomorrow on his way home.  He took an extra bag or two and bungee cords.