It's a Hard Knock Life

Permit me to brag about my kid for a moment...

Emma takes her bow cropped

Emma played Miss Hannigan in her performing arts school, The SPACE's, production of Annie this weekend. This is outside of her arts high school and something she's been doing for 3 years (her debut role was as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast).  The kids range in age from 3 to 15 and the show has everyone in it (little ballet dancing orphans are the cutest!).
 
Emma little girls
 
She was awesome.  
 
She was really reluctant to take on a singing role--she had to sing Little Girls as a solo and the school worked with her and she wowed the audience.  She was honoured with an award for Outstanding Achievement.  I'm so proud of her.
 
Easy street
 
There's a bunch of photos here if you want to see some great shots of the play taken by "Lily's" mom with her awesome telephoto lens.
 
Now we're just glad it's over.  May was a month full of rehearsals for Annie and Emma's high school work in cello and dance.
 
Xander was part of the stage crew for his school's musical too just to up the difficulty of wrangling everyone.  He's off being a Leader-in-Training right now and will graduate from grade 8 next week. I'm afraid that means one more mom-braggy-post is still to come.
 
Then bring on summer, we're all tired.

 


Carnaby Street Sweater

I have a new sweater! And I'm feeling like my knitter-self again!

The formula seems to be a fantastic yarn (Indigodragonfly Uber Mergoat in Squid Viscious and Already Frogged) and a pattern with a little bit of challenge but not too much: Carnaby Street. Stripes seem to make the knitting go faster.

I had a few bumps along the way, including the fact that I forgot to plan my body and sleeve stripes so they would match when I seamed them, meaning I had to rip and re knit the caps, but overall it was an easy, fun, fast knit.

I ended up with the comfortable boxy sweatshirt style I wanted and I'm happy! I plan to spend the long weekend snuggled up with it in a semi-reclined position as often as possible.

Especially because it's a wee bit buggy at the cottage right now (the photo shoot was a bit silly).

 

 

 


Let's help a great teenager see the world!

This is my cousin Chantal.  She's 16 and pretty fantastic.  

  

Her and Emma are BFFs even though they only see each other a few times a year (though they keep up with all the Instagram posts and SnapChats they send).  

Chantal entered a contest to win a semester studying abroad and made the top 10.  The kid with the most votes by Monday will be the Ambassador of Awesome for Blyth Academy for three months travelling to interesting places and seeing some of the world.

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Can you take a moment and vote for Chantal?  Maybe even once a day.  It would be amazing for her to win and I know she'd appreciate the votes.  (And you can vote without giving up your Facebook/Twitter/Google credentials--just give it a second to load).

Thanks!


I'm Back!

What a difference a weekend away with friends and wine and lots of yarn makes.

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Especially the friends and the yarn (which I might have rolled in a wee bit--Keri is demonstrating for photographic purposes, but I also participated).

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This winter seemed to be a series of minor knitting disasters which I chalk up to a combination of lack of inspiration and just plain old tiredness from overwork.  Now Spring is here, I'm getting more exercise (I'm back on my bike and back to a sensible running program), and I have some pretty new yarn to serve as inspiration.

I'm making Carnaby Street--a comfy, loose spring sweater with kicky stripes and a bit of fun knitting.

After much fussing with a more neutral palette, I chose the colours that beckoned me the minute I saw them: Indigodragonfly Uber-MerGoat in Squid Vicious (blue) and Already Frogged (green).

It's tricky to photograph, but this one is about right.  The colours are bright but not crazy.  Just like me ;)

Carnaby

I'm so much back to knitting: the back is done and I'm at the armholes on the front in a mere two weeks.

 Stripes

This yarn is FANTASTIC.  Soft, pretty, easy to knit with.  Read about the MerGoats here (they're special).  I'm actually thinking of how possible it would be to have this sweater finished this weekend (I'm so back, I'm delusional).

I think I'll consider more of this yarn at the Knitter's Frolic.  That's more realistic.

Oh ya, I'm even spinning a bit.  I took poor Imogene out of my room where she has been stashed since the kitchen renovation and started on some pretty fibre.  I remembered why I bought the Little Gem--it's a sweet wheel.

 Getting reacquainted with Imogene, I haven't spun on this wheel for over 18 months.

Feels good to be back doing the stuff I love. 


So maybe I can knit nice things

I'm happy to report two finished objects that I am rather pleased with.

I finally finished the Willow and Oz knee socks I started in October.

Randomly striped knee socks are definitely nifty, but these were a slog. I think it was the knitting with two balls of yarn. Not portable and a bit fiddly.

Emma loves them and that makes me happy. The colours are fantastic: Indigodragonfly merino sock in My world is all askew and Hootenanny: Well it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.

And yesterday I finished something nice for me:

Sweetums fingerless mitts in beautiful Indigodragonfly merino silk. This is not a colour I would pick for myself. That the nice thing about clubs. They push you outside of your normal boundaries. Now that they're done I love them. The colour is so pretty (top photo is more accurate; it's hard to photograph your own hands).

These were the ones I stumbled on a few weeks back. Once I got over that it was smooth sailing and for a little bit I felt like I had my knitting groove back.

They're very warm and cozy. And sadly, still needed. Actually, it was too cold to wear them today.

I think I'm going to stick with some small things, it feels good to finish some pieces that I'm happy with.

 


Maybe I should just give up knitting (not really)

This winter has not been a great one for me knitting-wise.  I've made a few accessories that were just okay, but not much else, and I haven't had a project that really grabbed me.  

Well, I shouldn't say that because working on Oshima was pretty great.  Until it wasn't.  

I think I need a knitting win.

Knocking off a quick WIP was the plan last week.  The kids were at my Mom's for the March Break (and yes, it was fantastic), I had all of season two of House of Cards to watch and plenty of Indiodragonfly Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination one skein projects to choose from.  I got back to the Caulking arm/leg warmers and got to it.  

I finished the first one and dove into the second one.  Then I took a little break and started the Sweetums fingerless mitts.  All was good.

Until it wasn't.

Apparently I can't read.  I missed an entire line in the Sweetums pattern and didn't notice until 48 rows later when I couldn't figure out where to put the thumb.  I was silly enough to write to the designer and it wasn't until she explained it that I noticed I missed the line in the pattern.

While Sweetums was working itself out I finished both House of Cards and the second armwarmer.  Tried them on, did the photo shoot and then noticed something wasn't quite right.  

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The second armwarmer was a full repeat (8 sts) bigger than the first one.  (No I didn't write down what size I was making, who does that?!).

I actually turned off the tv and counted the repeats on the first one twice to confirm the number: 56.  When I was casting on, I distinctly remember doing the math in my head as I distributed the stitches on the dpns.  16 per needle.  Because 16x4 is totally 56.

Except it's 64.

Twelve inches, ripped out.  I casted it on properly and it's in the travel knitting pouch.  I'll get back to it.

Sweetums is coming along very nicely.  Almost done the first one.   

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I hope this goes smoothly now.  I'm tired of so many mess ups of the easy things that I've been doing most of my life like reading and counting.

 


Reality Bites

I have to face facts. I'm not going to have enough of my special over dyed cork to make Oshima. The yarn was specially over dyed so there is no more. I've been hoarding it because I love Cork and the colour is so fabulous.

Finding this out earlier (or rather, getting past my denial earlier) would have been nice since I have the sleeves done and am almost at the neck shaping on the body.

Instead of abandoning it completely I'm thinking I could make a plainer sweater. I love the brioche stitch but find it too stiff with the Cork at this gauge and it EATS yarn. I also have 3 skeins of orange cork that I could use too.

I figure these are my options:

Option 1: knit on and use the orange cork in the cowl. I could still be short of yarn and this colour combo could look weird.

Option 2: rip back the brioche stitch on the body work the body in stockinette to generally conform to the pattern, knit the collar in brioche or even just rib I lose some of the design but get a big cozy sweater.

Option 3: put the the whole thing in a bag and put it away. Next Fall find another pattern for the cork (probably a Custom Fit) and find another yarn for Oshima (this pattern is fantastic). To console myself, immediately cast on something that I know will work.

Right now I'm voting for option 3. Especially the casting on part.

Thoughts? I think I need some knitter perspective.

 


Toronto Peeps! Put March 24th In Your Calendars!

Guess who's finally coming to Toronto?

She's a knitter

She's an author

She's one of the original knit bloggers

She's fun, and fantastic and I love her to death...

Rachael Herron!!!!! (muppet flail)

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I'm pretty sure this was the last time I saw Rachael--Rhinebeck 2009--which seems too long ago!

Rachael is on tour with her new book, Pack Up the Moon, (released today) and she's coming to Ben McNally Books in Toronto on March 24th, 6pm.

Pack up the moon

I can't wait to get inside this book.  I know Rachael is really proud of this one.

If you haven't read Rachael's Cypress Hollow books, you should have a look at those.  That series turned me into a person who reads romance novels.  They were happy, funny, light-hearted, engaging stories with some fine, steamy love scenes.  

I think we owe it to her as readers and knitters, to show her a good time while she visits Toronto.  Who's with me?!  


Winter Is Not So Bad

I've been thinking about my poor forgotten blog a lot lately. I have no intention of giving it up, even if no one reads it. I've been writing here for 10 years and still like the process of coming here and writing a few things, marking moments in my life with photos, cataloging my fibre-pursuits and the emphemera of my life.

The sad thing is that when there's too much going on, I don't have the time (or more rightly the energy) to compose a post, upload and edit the photos and contribute to the space that means a lot to me.

In the last month there's been more time spent on work than is normal and than I like and it's been duties that take a lot of mental effort on my part. Sadly it's sapping my energy to even knit some nights, so instead I read tweets or mindlessly play spell tower which makes me feel even less ready to face another work day. The weather has been cramping my small desire to exercise, another blow to morale.

This weekend, I did some fun things and hope they'll recharge my energy levels and get me moving both physically and emotionally. I went skiing for the first time in 20 years and it was fun! I've only skiied half a dozen times and i was expecting a minor disaster. Instead I had a great time and I'm not even very sore. The kids and Craig tried snowboarding and we all got plenty of fresh air and time away from the pressures of work and school.

There's no pictures--we were all too busy! But here's one from our Sunday walk out on a frozen Lake Simcoe.

(I posted a few more on Instagram--I'm docsteph)

I used to think I didn't like winter, but now I realize I don't like typical grey soggy damp Toronto winters. That bright snow and blue sky were so gorgeous.

Let's not be so crazy as to believe I don't want this one to end; another week of really cold temperatures, no biking and little motivation to run isn't what I want. But having the chance to be out doing fun things in the snow is pretty fantastic and got me back here to write a bit.

Now I'm going to cast on the body of a sweater. Let's see of I can get my knitting groove back too.

 


Bohus Repair in 6 Steps

Not a good way to start the morning:

I must have been a bit rough when I was putting on my beloved Grey Mist Bohus. I heard a bad ripping sound and it looked like this.

It was knit top down and I had broken the yarn on the hem bind off. Some stitches had started to unravel.

Not. Good.

To add to the complexity, I had modified the sweater awhile back to fit me better and the sides are steeked. This means I couldn't just rip back the whole bind off and do it again.

I will also say that at 9 sts to the inch that didn't seem necessary to fix 2 inches of hem, so I concocted a different plan.

This morning I made the repairs. It was easy enough that I took the time to have fun with the Halftone app and did a little photo essay.

Step One: Capture all the stitches.

Bohus yarn is 50% merino, 50% angora so the stitches aren't really going anywhere, but I needed them all on needles so I could have something to work with. I put the last bound off stitch on a marker and picked up everything not worrying if they had unravelled more than others. I just needed to get everything on the needles.

Step Two: Fix All the Stitches

Now I took the time to arrange all the live stitches, knit up any that had dropped and to make sure I got them all. This is not so easy with tiny fuzzy yarn, so I made sure I was thorough.

Step Three: Unravel the Bind Off a Bit More

I didn't have a lot of yarn on one end of the broken bit so I unpicked the bind off about 10 more stitches so I had something to work with. Since I was "going backwards" this meant undoing the stitches manually with a tapestry needle and catching the live ones before I pulled out the yarn--no sense in having to wrangle more live stitches.

Then I transferred each stitch back to the left hand needle, checked again that I didn't miss anything and was now back at my orange marker.

Step Four: Attach New Yarn

I decided to use the Magic Knot to attach my new yarn to bind off. It figured at this gauge it wouldn't show. It was also secure. Spit splicing would also have worked.

Step Five: Bind Off

The original bind off was a regular one, but since this must be where I put pressure on the sweater when I put it in, I decided to use Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for these stitches just to be on the safe side.

When that was done I had two ends. The end of my new bind off and the end where I picked out the old one.

Since both ends were already secure (picking out the old one was challenging so I figured it was staying put), I just prettied it up and wove in the ends.

Step Six: Admire

No one will notice unless they inspect the hem up close.

If anyone does that, I'll know they're a knitter.