Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Dear New Knitter

Today is a historic day in a few ways. My son turns 29 today. You know what that means? IAMTHEPARENTOFA29YEAROLD!!!!!! And I want to know where the time went.
(maintain low tones, young Cone)

The other young cone (if you've seen Coneheads, you'll get the reference...) is getting married next month. What the actual.....?

Gordon Downie passed away last night. Maybe you have to be Canadian to get the meaning of that, but we called them "the 'Hip" and they were icons. While not entirely unexpected, it still comes as a shock when something like this happens.

I have been working on some presents as is usual for this time of year. The guys are getting socks and hats, and I've got my sister's yearly yule hat done. I'm not really getting much done, at least, not as much as I want to, but c'est la vie.

I've been knitting for roughly 30 years- give or take. My across the street neighbour taught me, and she's a fine teacher, because she succeeded where many failed. Rather, I failed. But I needed something to do while the baby was sleeping, other than laundry, and it was a blessing on so many levels. It's given me joy, frustration and many hours of creativity. It's brought many friends into my life, both online and for reals.

So, what advice would I give to a new knitter? Or someone who wants to learn everything in 5 minutes? First, it's a hobby (more of a lifestyle to most of us) that you never master, in terms of knowing everything.

1. First, while knitting can be inexpensive, in general terms, it's not. Even budget-friendly yarn, when you need enough for an adult garment, is going to run you a few sheckels, and yes, you can buy one at Old Navy cheaper.

2. Which brings me to this: if you feel this is something that you love, and want to keep doing, invest in the best tools and yarn that you can afford. That doesn't necessarily mean the most expensive either. You will quickly learn what suits you, and what you're not so happy with. Also, different yarns require different needles. If you go for the cheapies, you will get what you pay for. Trust me.

3. Learn how to read a pattern. I don't always recommend that you study the entire thing, because alot of it won't make sense until you're actually at that stage of the game. But patterns are usually a shorthand- and you'll see the same abbreviations over and over, so it's not scary. Unless the "designer" makes up his/her own, and that's, well, pretentious.

4. Know how to identify a K (knit) stitch, and a P (Purl) stitch. Familiarize yourself.

5. For the love of all that is holy- if you disregard everything here, learn how to use Double Pointed needles and how to read a chart!!!! Knitting fads come and go, but when you want to finish off a hat, or knit some glove fingers, you'll be grateful you know how. I know that magic-loop is a thing, and I can see it's benefits, and I have nothing against fans of the technique, but there will come a time when the rubber hits the road, and those dpn's are vital.

As for anyone who says "I don't knit from charts..." all I can say is that more and more patterns are charted, as it's easier from the standpoint of the writer, especially lace. It's also easier to see where you are with a chart, in colorwork and cabling, so don't dismiss it. You'll be essentially cutting yourself off from roughly half the patterns on Ravelry.

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7. I bet it was recommended that you make a scarf. You'll soon be bored with that. Your next project should be something that incorporates increases and decreases, perhaps a buttonhole. You can next start with a raglan sweater, top-down if you want, and if that intimidates you, how about a child's sweater. People are always multiplying, and it will come in handy for the next kid that comes along.

8. Come to terms with gauge. You have to make a gauge swatch. Yes, you do. Your knitting is unique from everyone else's and you may be one of those lucky ones who can achieve the gauge in a pattern, but chances are you are looser or tighter. If you want this thing to fit or come out the recommended size, you are strongly advised to take the time.

9. And yes, the only real way to correct an error, is to rip back. And that may mean the whole sleeve, or back of a sweater, but I never mind, because it's teaching me something. Admittedly, I rip back alot less than I used to, but it happens. It can be soul destroying, but think of it as experience.

10. Collect books. I love anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Even better are the videos. But start with "Knitting Without Tears"- highly readable, and very reassuring to the unsure.

11.Things like cabling and socks are suprisingly easier than you think. You'll impress the handknit socks off yourself. Treat yourself to some self striping yarn and watch the magic happen.

12. This brings me to the inevitable "oh, you made that? Could you knit me one?" Never mind that you have spent alot of time on that item, and are eager to show it off. The muggles have no idea what goes into your creations. And nothing takes the fun out of something more than knitting to order. If you finish something and feel you want to gift it to a worthy person, then great. But my advice is don't do it. Next thing you know you'll be knitting for a family of Yeti's, and resenting every stitch.

Clearly, I have much to say on this subject, so I'll continue next time.

Fleece Out

Friday, 6 October 2017

Turkey Time

"Baldrick, take this and buy me a turkey so large, you'd think it's mother had been rogered by an Omnibus."

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

It does not feel like Thanksgiving at all- and if your in the states then it isn't. We have been having an unseasonably warm Autumn- I am not a happy bunny. I feel completely cheated.
I got up and made the stuffing. I am going to share this, as it has evolved over the past 25 years or so, and it's not the usual. My son couldn't care less about turkey, but don't mess with his stuffing.

1Loaf stuffing bread (seasoned bread called Turkey time)
3 packages Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice
1bunch Celery (I loathe it but it's good in this)
1-2 Large Sweet Onions
1/2 C softened butter
Fresh Sage (must be fresh)
Poultry Seasoning
3 rolls Sausage Meat

Grab the largest bowl you have (I use 2 because this makes alot) and cube the bread- tear up any pieces that are large. Cook the rice as per package directions. In another pan, put in butter and melt- dice up the onion and cut the celery up.The flavour is in the leaves.  Put them into the pan and saute until soft.

Cut up the fresh sage and put in the bowl with the bread, add poultry seasoning to taste. Add cooked rice, and sauteed celery and onions. Stir well-
fry up slices (fairly thick) of sausage meat and when cooled, cut them into cubes. If you find this at all dry, you can add a half cup of chicken stock- but it's never dry.

On turkey day, stuff into neck and bum cavities- and fill a large baking dish. While the turkey is standing after you cook it- bake the stuffing for 1 hour at 350 F.

I have played with this and added apples, and once cranberries- which was really festive. My family is odd (I could stop there...) about fruit in their meals- so I stick with the tried and true.
 I can't get into my Halyard sweater, despite loving the yarn. My wedding anniversary is next week so I made buddy a pair of socks. I used Briggs & Little Tuffy and for the top and toe some Zwartbles yarn from Blacker. A bit of the exotic in the good old sock.
Oh oh oh- just look what my soon-to-be son-in-law got me. As I am not a cut-flower fan, Laura said why not Pusheen? Indeed. I am blown away by the little deer stalker hat. His street cred just shot through the roof. I got a few others but I'll save those for next time.
Clawdykins is looking ever so cute these days. Don't you love how cats like to look down on people?

Hope some of you are enjoying cool weather. Send some this way.

Fleecin' out.

Friday, 8 September 2017

I'm in Love

Yes. It's true. I am head over tail (see what I did there?) in love with .....Pusheen the cat.

So much so, that I began collecting merch. She reminds me of my Clawed- you can always tell the state of things by Clawed's tail. Pusheen flicks her stripey tail in the cutest way.
Frankie-Bear got me the Pusheen Plushie at Claire's. It's a mermaid. I also get to drink my morning tea in the cool mug, and I ordered some charms from Etsy. I am going to wear them around my neck.

The same seller did this piece of cake which looked scrum, so I got that too.

This picture illustrates the similarity of Clawed's tail to Pusheen's. Clawed's is short and striped- FC now calls him "Bosheen" because Clawed's nickname is Bobo. We, however, do not find this amusing, despite his supplying said plushie. Bribery only takes you so far.....

I have finished spinning the Polwarth on my Schacht-Reeves. I find spinning to be peaceful and relaxing. I don't do it enough.

Still plugging away on my Halyard cardigan. I am enjoying every stitch- but I would probably enjoy it more with a Pusheen stitch marker.

I also finished another cross stitch- I will make a hanging pinkeep for my sewing room. (You would think, by that statement, that I live in some kind of mansion and have my own sewing room. I share an extra bedroom-cum-office space with FC. I don't have a dedicated room.) This is "Mice in The Sewing Room" by Country Stitches. The link is on the sidebar- they are primitive, but not Disney cute.

Hope everyone is enjoying some cool weather. I am so sad for those affected by Irma and this other nasty heading for Florida.

Fleecin'. Stay safe.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Room Without A Roof

I am feeling optimistic today, for a few reasons.

1. It's getting darker earlier, and the CNE is starting on Friday. That's when you know Autumn is almost here.  Locals call it "The Ex".

2. Just went to my wonderful doctor, had some moles checked and they're nothing to worry about.

3. I started my light therapy, as I seem to be having Seasonal Affective Disorder, and after 3 days I can notice a difference.

4. I've been making things, and that's always a good sign.

To that end, here is a Sock Monkey bag I made for a gift.

I added a Gummi Bear stitch marker. I love Gummi Bears. Haribos.
Another gift- this is the Rilo hat. I probably should block it, eh?  I ended up making the child's size, as this is a large hat- to make it snug. A wonderful pattern, and free. Let's make that 5 things to be happy about.
I began my Halyard sweater, and this yarn is epic. Soft and beautiful to knit with.  You begin with the sleeves, and they have a nice roll back cuff. This is a new colour called "Smoke" which is now on the website.

And certainly not least, but last, my darling Clawed. He makes me so happy I want to sing. He is always nearby, if not sitting in my lap- and he's just soft and cute and smells nice and does the cutest things. I made him his own mousie out of handspun, and he carries it around in his mouth, and meows.

Happily Fleecin' out.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Bigger On The Inside

Good morning- I meant to post all last week, however I wasn't able to offload my camera, due to someone (cough FC) faffing with the computer. But all is fixed now.

I realize in reading other blogs and things that I haven't done a book review in yonks- and I have been reading quite a bit. This is actually funny- read on- you'll see what I mean. See what I did there?

But first I will share my latest FO, which happens to be a pair of socks.
 Ta-Da! My self-striping Straycat socks. I had so much fun with these- and I think they'll look great with Birks. I know this is an in-progress shot, but I really did finish. Honest Injun.

Okay- the books. A while ago I was looking for some great fiction. I am mainly a non-fiction reader, but sometimes you have to branch out. I decided that a writer I really like is Margaret Drabble and had read a few of hers before.  I Wiki-peed it for you- she is A.S. Byatt's sister.

So if a few were good- then were they all good? I ordered copies from my beloved Awesome books- most of them were in the bargain bin, and it probably cost less for all of these than one new bestseller. So I had a binge of sorts, and they were all great. She has been criticized for writing books that there aren't alot of conclusions to, but her writing is intelligent, and the people have quirks and alot of realism. I particularly enjoyed "The Pure Gold Baby"- which was published in 2013- so she's been around a long time.
This one has intrigued me for a while. The author and her husband live as Victorians. They are so fascinated with the age that they live in an old house with no modern amenities- they even have a paraffin heater and a woodstove. No cars- they bicycle everywhere- he even has a rare "Ordinary" known to most of us as a Penny-farthing. He rides it too. She makes most of their clothes- it would be fascinating to have a talk with them. If you love time travel- this is great.

I would ask her, given the chance- why she wears her corset at night. I'm pretty sure our ancestors took them off every chance they had, and I know they didn't sleep in them. She also seems to be obsessed with the word "quotidien" which means "daily" in English. But other than that- this is interesting. A modern insight into time travel as a chosen lifestyle.

I picked this up at Book City on remainder. I have the other one "Devil In The White City"- which I haven't got to, as it's an e-book, but anyway- this is about the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. We all know about the Titanic. The Lusitania was a luxury passenger liner owned by Cunard- and she was the victim of a U-boat. Back then, they really didn't think that U-boats were a threat. They also didn't think the Titanic could sink. The boat went down in 18 minutes.

I like the authors style of writing- it's almost like a novel- but all the facts are there and all your questions are answered. I will read more of his for sure.

Gratuitous kitten picture courtesy of Miss Mew. Our Nuggins is getting to be a big girl- and oh-so-cute.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Halfway Point

Hey- we've passed the midway point of summer. I figure it this way- summer is June, July and August (I know, the equinox isn't until September 21st, but this is my logic). After July 15, or thereabouts, we're halfway there.

Despite the humidity, it's not been a bad summer. But all I can do is look forward to cooler winds and falling leaves and oh, everything. I can smell the burning wood now......

I have been busy. My Boundary Waters shawl is almost done, just the last chart and the edging to do (which takes awhile) and I have also been sewing.
This is the Cleo dress from Tilly and the Buttons.  I actually made 3. The first was a mess, and the second I made for Miss Mew because I had enough black denim. I salvaged the shoulder straps from the first so saved some time there. This is mine in an indigo denim and it's really comfy. I would love to do a corduroy one sometime.

I will say this- don't hesitate to purchase from T&B's. The instructions are laid out step by step in a booklet, and you really cannot go wrong (unless you're me and figure you know better...). Well worth the price, especially if it something you'll make more than once.
Tour de Fleece is humming along, but I haven't done alot. This is the first bobbin of Fat Cat Knits (what else?) BFL Mon Ami. I have taken my time as I wanted to do a good job and I am happy with this.
I did finish this "Robin Redbreast" and got 300 yds. This was spun in a gradient and once again, the genius of Ginny has captured the colours really well. I look forward to doing something nice with this.

This little package has thrilled me beyond all reason. I came across this Etsy seller on a podcast, and fell for the self-striping perfection.  I know it says that she's not taking any custom orders now, but she did, and this is BMO, and Autumn & Mint. You can get sparkle too. Imagine.

On the kitty front, Valentino and Howard are still having episodes where they howl and hiss at each other. I have Bio-calm in their food, some stuff in the water, a diffuser and some food with Valerian and some other stuff in it. It has been recommended to me to get fox urine and spray the perimeter of the backyard so other cats will stay away. Even if I find a fox, how do I make it pee in a bottle?

Stay tuned for that. Fleecin' out.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers On Kittens......

We're coming up on another long weekend- which is known as Canada Day- this year is special because it's 150 years since Confederation. FC and I were going to spend a couple of days in Ottawa, visiting the National Gallery, but it will have to wait until the festivities are over. I hate crowds.

I have been a busy beaver (see what I did there?)- I have just this morning finished my Merchant & Mills dress-
I had a bugger of a time with the inset sleeves- which is why I probably make sleeveless garments mainly. But it's all serged, and came out pretty well.
I used a William Morris print for the back facing, and it adds a nice touch. I also did a straight hem. I would for sure buy again from M&M, the patterns are simple and unfussy. I am currently waiting for this to show up, as I have some indigo and black denim. I am doing the knee length version.
My finished Elizabeth shawl looks pretty good with it. I have begun a new Two Old Bags projects- the Boundary Waters, which has been in my queue for yonks. I celebrated my 10 year Ravelversary on June 18. Where did that decade go?
In between projects, I made this for a new little boy. I added a 3 needle I cord bind off.

On July 1st, Tour de Fleece begins. I am spinning for Team Fat Cat again. The spinning mojo has been missing, but hopefully I can get some of my stash spun.

And speaking of kitties, here is the Nuggins.