Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour!

I too ask: What did you do during Earth hour?
(Don't know what Earth Hour means?)
After a busy day, I choose to do NOTHING. Just lit a candle, sat and relaxed. I didn't even have the radio on, nor TV. How often do you do nothing on purpose for an hour? It's really not that long.

I was alone, since DH spent his day in Venice, Italy: March 29, that's how it looked over there today. I wonder if the Venetian participated as well?

cell phone picture

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gifted sock yarn socks # 2 - Hundertwasser socks.

I'm back! Did you miss me? I bet you didn't even notice, that I took a tiny Spring break. :o) I tried to stay away from the Internet, boy that was hard. If you are not actually physically away from a hooked up computer, it's just magnetically drawing you close, at least that's how it is with me. Anyway, I've been knitting my test shawl for Maggie's shawl. It's done, and blocking now. I already know that I have to change some things, but little things. I didn't realize how hard it is to design a shawl from A-Z, with no help from E.A. Clark's little booklet. I'm terrible at taking notes. I've made several pages of notes, with chart drawings, and so on, and as I started to knit the actual shawl yesterday, I had trouble remembering, what the heck I meant with all my doodles. But more of this, when it's all done. I'm here to talk about my Hundertwasser socks:

Don't think they are anything special? Au contraire! I made these 2-at-a-time on one circular needle! YES! I liked it too. I was not faster however, didn't think so anyway, but my mom, who just started knitting socks on 5 DP, finished one pair, and hearing of this magical technique, wanted me to explain it on the phone, in about five minutes. "And is it faster too?"she asked ever hopefully. Nope, when you think about it, how can it be.You knit 2 socks at the same time, instead of one. She was disappointed to hear that. That's my mom, always on the lookout for shortcuts. :o)

I did not do the tutorial socks in the book, but started right away with these plain, and simple socks, but really, with those colors, what else could you do? No stitch pattern could bring out those gorgeous colors any better. I wanted it to be simple. I think this is the first pair of socks, with the exact same amount of rows. I don't count the rows with my other socks, I know I should do it, but I don't. Well actually, I think if I remember correctly, one sock is half a row shorter, it's just the way the technique works.

I did not have major problems, even without checking the errata for this book, I could work it out, because I was not new to sock knitting. I later discovered that what I thought was an error in the tutorial, really was one. The only time I got stuck for a minute was picking up the gusset stitches, there I was thinking I knew it all, and did not read the instructions properly, so entirely my fault.

I'm definitely going to knit socks with this technique again, especially with plain socks, when the yarn is busy enough for stitch patterns. But of course I could knit some of the gorgeous patterns from the book, or any other for that matter, but right now, I don't' want to. I still like my double point needles too much, to cast them away for good.

My creation


yarn: gifted by Hannah, Opal, 75% wool, 25% polyamid, 100g ~ 425m, colorway - 1434, In Variation nach Hundertwassers Werk 637A - Wartende Haeuser. I had left overs.

That's the painting, which inspired the sock colorway.

needle: one 2.5mm circular addi turbo
size: US 9.5, I cast on 60 sts for the cuff, decreased to 56 sts for leg and rest of the sock
technique: from book: 2-at-a-time socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
start-finish: February 22 - 25
destination: Hannah's feet

For the dog lovers:

How is Biko doing, you ask? Well, she's doing fine mostly, but at the end of the day she still is sore, almost every day, that's due to her being too wild, when outside. Even without playing fetch, she's just enjoying herself in the snow too much. In the evenings, when she's climbing the stairs, she yelps sometimes, or when getting up. I hope this discomfort will disappear too. It's been six weeks since her surgery.
That would be Sam underneath my legs, happily snoozing, while I knit. As soon as there's a pause in the click click click, his head comes up, and he's ever so hopeful that we'll go outside now. I must say, he's a very patient dog.

And what would a spring break be without some delicious cake? I saw something similar in a magazine, and since I like strawberries so much, I wanted my own version of it. I've used store bought angel food cake. This has been the second time I used store bought stuff like that, but I've never baked angel food cake myself. Anyway, I know it would never win a beauty contest, but this was not for show, but to be eaten right away. I've made the strawberries happy by letting them soak in sugar and some balsamic vinegar (I wish I had a bottle of real old balsamic vinegar. Once I made a reduction with regular balsamic vinegar, and it was divine, can't even think of how good the real deal must taste).

And yes, it's real whip cream, no fakey, fakey stuff. This is a wonderful combination, and it didn't last long at all. I'm kinda getting into baking again, I'm just sick of how the store bought stuff tastes. I think I have to look into how to bake Angel food cakes, because I liked this combination, but don't want to use the store bought stuff, if you know what I mean. So, now that I've watered my own mouth, I'm going to pour another cup of tea, and try to remember the taste. I think I'll bake Sacher Torte today, just because. :o)

PS My Blog Anniversary is coming up in April! :o)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ugly yarn part 2!

I almost posted this to another blog, thank god there was an error on the page, so I could realize where I was. Maybe the dye pot fumes went straight to my head?
Well, it looks like this yarn has got the better of me, because it will not even try to please me. I think I should have left it alone, but who could have known, that it would turn out even uglier than before?
I punished it by throwing it into the hot water of my dye pot. I thought we'll start with a little lavender, which did nothing, such a subtle change, just made it uglier. Now I pulled out the color vermilion, which I really don't like, but it came with a kit. To my surprise it did not change the yarn, it just wasn't as vibrant as in the beginning. Now I pulled out a strong color, not even caring anymore: sapphire blue. That did the trick, to further punish it, I left it in the pot for an hour. It sure is blue now, right?! But even after that long soak, it did not cover it evenly.
In the following pictures you'll see three things:
1. Maggie's yarn for a shawl
2. Hannah's Mermaid socks
3. Obstinate ugly yarn

My creation

1. Maggie's yarn for a shawl: Maggie asked me, if I would like to knit a shawl with her yarn for Knitters Frolic. I of course, said yes, I would. I threatened to design my own shawl. Well, I have some time, I can always knit one from my books, if it turns out to be a disaster. I've been swatching, and ripping, and pulling my hair, but it's fun, really!

2. Hannah's Mermaid socks: They are called "Mermaid socks" because the colorway is mermaid. The yarn is Lucy Neatby's Celestial Merino sock yarn. It's such a pleasure to work with it, not sure about how they will hold up to wear. It's 2-ply sock yarn, the yarn is soft. I was sceptical about the color, when I first saw it, but knit up I think it's wonderful. I like the color combination, and it kind of striped, not quite pooling, which makes me happy. If I hadn't promised these socks to Hannah (she gave me the yarn for Christmas, and I thought since she picked it, she must like the color), and I cast on only 56 stitches, I would have kept them for myself. Than again, I'm hard on my socks, so they would not last very long with me.
I knit them toe-up, which I haven't done in a while. I tried to do Judy's magic cast on, but it was more like a figure 8 cast on, since I could not remember how to do it. I was too lazy to search for the instructions, buried somewhere in a pile of print out paper. It worked , if not as well as I remembered. Same thing with the jojo heel. Haven't done it in so long. I guess, if you don't use it, you loose it. I was too stubborn to go look that up also. In the end it worked, it came back to me, as I was doing it. The second heel turned out much better, since I did a few things differently, so there would not be those holes. And, after finishing the first sock, I suddenly knew how to do Judy's magic cast on, like I just had it done yesterday. Funny thing, memory.

yarn: Celestial Merino, 2-ply, 100g/310yds, colorway: mermaid, I had left over
cast on: 56 sts
needles: 2.5mm, 5-DP, the label said to use 3mm needles, but I could have used 2.25mm and it would have been quite alright.
start-finish: March 17-19 - I was kind of in a rush, since there was already Maggie's shawl in my head.

3. Ugly yarn: I'm now quite intrigued, and would like to know how it looks all knit up. I think this will be punished even further, by being knit up rather sooner than later. Ha, and after that I'll put it away, to never see the light of day again. (Evil laughter.)

If you celebrate, I wish you Happy Easter, otherwise, welcome Spring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I made ugly yarn!

My last fiber of the month club fiber from Spunky Eclectic was this: 4oz of South African Fine, called "Think Spring". Hm, not my colors. Very easterly, don't you think? I thought what I could do with it, and came to the (wrong) conclusion, that some raspberry 50/50 wool/mohair blend would go with it. That's also 4oz of the pink stuff, but a lot fluffier. I spun singles, and was not thinking how it would look like actually plied together: Candy striped, of course! A kind soul (Angelika)said, it looks like strawberry ice cream.

This is 2-ply, 193.5 yds, both skeins together. I tried to spin thick, really, really thick, and thought I'll be needing at least 8mm needles to knit this stuff, but once plied, it might be called chunky, or heavy worsted. I have to check the WPI, but it's thick and thin spun, thanks to the mohair/wool blend, which was a PIA to draft and spin. It had lots of dried veggies in it, could have fed a bunny with it. I do not blame the fiber, or even Amy for providing this colorway, it's not her fault, that I didn't understand until it was too late, because after I finished this yarn, I read the little label, which comes with the fiber, it said: Think Spring!

" The grey skies are parting for the pink sunrises and the brighter yellow days of spring. Can you feel it coming?" Amy

That very evening I let the dogs outside when the sun was almost down. The sky was pink, yellowish, grey, and white, just like the fiber. I appreciated too late. When nature can produce such lovely colors, and I loved seeing it, why didn't I like the dyed fiber?

Anyway, Maggie did the best you could possibly do with this fiber, have a look!

It blew me away. Doesn't her yarn look a little like clouds, and it also reminds me of colored Easter eggs.

It has been a few days now, and I've settled down. It IS yarn I produced, and it will be knit eventually. I want to be more careful in the future, and try to think a little before I get to work.

This was my last fiber from a fiber club. I'm officially Fiber Club free. I still have to spin the last installment of Electric Sheep Fiber from February:

Don't know what I'll do with that one. Amy (another one) had this lovely picture as her inspiration. I don't want to blow it this time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I love getting mail...

... espcially of the fibery kind. Packages on Monday? Almost never heard off, and there are two today! (insert happy dance here).

What you see here are two kits from Yarnissima. Fratello and Spina Di Pesce. Getting these kits is wonderful. They are wrapped lovingly, with so many little things added, like the big sea shell, which comes with the Spina Di Pesce yarn.

Of course there's the yarn, Wollmeise, itself. I have three kits now, and I think they've become somewhat of collectors items to me. The pattern presentation is very professional; Fratello is like a booklet just for this one sock pattern. Amazing!

Last week there was a night, where I was a little bored, I think I even mentioned it here. You can only knit so much, and all the other things you've done, and what are you going to do? Surf the net, and shop. Ahem.

While looking to find new sources for my fiber addiction, I stumbled upon a name I knew. It's "Rose Haven Farm" owned by Linda Swaine. As I just read up on her homepage, she no longer operates her sheep farm, but has a yarn store in Piction. How do I know her? My daughter worked for her, several years ago, as a work experience program in school. Three weeks during lambing season, that put her off all things sheepy, except knitting finished yarn. ;o)

I e-mailed Linda to say Hallo, and finally ordered some 5lbs of selected fibers: South African Fine, Karaoke nature, Shetland grey, 50/50 kid mohair/Border Leicester, and Corriedale, all for me to spin and dye, or dye and spin, whatever I may fancy. Linda was out of most of her fibers, I would have loved to try some of her (now sold) sheep, but until she's stocked up again, I've plenty to keep myself busy.

Off to my spinning wheel now. I'm working on a project, which involves 1kg (~ 35oz) of Cotswold natural fiber. More about that when it's done.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Knitting Lesson!

My grandmother is teaching my mother how to knit socks! I'm delighted! :o) That warranted a trip to the LYS Serenity Knits to get some sock yarn for my mom. I was lucky and got a great deal on Lana Grossa Meilenweit. I'll send it over when my DH is going over to Europe on a business trip. Watch out mom, sock yarn is on it's way!
As Claudia said, I should mention that we have now four generations of sock knitters in our family! :o) (Omi-Mutti-Moni-Hannah) Ha! :o)


It's such a warm and beautiful day today. I opened the door to the balcony. Biko is enjoying the sun, even on the hard wooden boards. It just dried enough to go outside. Yesterday there were huge icicles, and snow coming down from the roof.
Sam wants to be outside as well, but he needs to know, what I'm doing at the same time. :o)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cobblestone and Silver Dollar!

click the pic for closer look
All I did yesterday, was spinning, no knitting or any other fibery thing, 10 oz to be exact. Not this yarn though. This yarn was made with FatCatKnits merino in the colorway "Cobblestone" combined with one ply Dyed in the Wool Handmade "Silver Dollar" (I've about 1 oz of this fiber left). I've had "Cobblestone" in my fiber stash for so long, I forgot to take a picture of the fiber itself. It looked lovely, and as always so very different from the finished product. I like how this 3-ply turned out. I think its colores are very "manly"; my son liked it, and he usually isn't saying anything about my yarn. He especially liked the burned orange/silver grey parts, and so did I.

In the picture below you can see a small skein. I made some 2-ply (38yds) with the remaining "Cobblestone" singles, (don't know why I did not have enough of the "Silver Dollar", I weight it). I would not have liked it by itself, so I'm glad I decided to make the 3-ply.

fiber: FatCatKnits "Cobblestone" 100% merino, 4oz

Dyed in the Wool Handmade, "Silver Dollar", 100% superwash merino, 2oz (or so I thought)

yarn: 3-ply, 311yds, 12 WPI

destination: handpun stash

By the way, before I forget again, my daughter is on Ravelry too! You can find her under fipabella. :o)

Besides spinning, and all the other things I've accomplished I felt like I was really productive yesterday. I made some "Apfelstrudel" (Apple Strudel); it was delicious, but I can't seem to find the right flour for the dough, not like it really should be, but it was good nevertheless. I should take time to bake more often.

I was not the only one, tired at the end of the day. Sam took advantage of the free bed.

My camera has a hard time to focus in a dark room, that's why the picture is a bit blurry. But Sam is still cute. :o)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Kristi's Mittens

Everything has its time. I started the Kristi's mittens back in December as a gift for a friend (friend got a shawl instead). I went into this project with so much enthusiasm and energy, and right after i finished the first mitten, it left me abruptly. I have to confess, I don't like stranded knitting. I love how it looks, it's wonderful when finished, but doing it? - No thanks. Sigh. I have so many patterns I want to do, and still have the Tiit's socks to finish. The first one's almost done. I put them on my coffee table, so I can see them, and feel guilty enough to continue knitting, because they are next. I want to get them off the needles, to feel free to cast on something else, or several something elses.
Between knitting the first and second mitten, my tension changed dramatically. When finished the second was smaller, but I steam ironed them and now they are the same size! :o) They are not knit well enough to be given as a gift, so I guess I'll be wearing them next winter. For now I'll put them away in a drawer, and by next winter, I might like to see them again. :o)
Another thing, you'll notice the thumbs. You are supposed to decrease in pattern, but by that time I've had enough and used red only. I think it's a lovely mitten pattern, but I will NOT knit them EVER again. The next time I think I need to do stranded knitting, I'll be sure to find a motif, where there are not yarn spans over 11 sts. At first I twisted like a mad woman, but after a while I didn't care anymore. It was either that, or rip them out and forget about them. So here they are.
pattern: Kristi's Mittens by Nancy Bush, Folk Knitting in Estonia, p. 84 (fantastic book)
yarn: red: Baby Ull Dalegarn, 100% superwash wool
white: Knit Picks Bare, merino/silk fingering weight
needles: 2mm DP's
start-finish: Dec. 23'07 - March 11 '08
The yarn is not suitable for mittens. It started pilling still on the needles. Can imagine how they'll look, once I made a few snowballs, but done is done. Note to self, don't use that yarn for mittens (or socks) in the future.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bunny Love - it's got nothing to do with Easter!

Another blog post so soon, you ask? I'm snowed in, what else should I do? I've spun, I've knit, I've done many other things, and now I'm bored. Don't watch TV, have nothing entertaining to read, was playing in the snow - several times, so there you have it: Bunny Love!
Meet Wilma and Fred.

Fred came first, but the real Wilma made me choose those names, for my Bunnies with Hoodies. It might have nothing to do with Easter, but I think it's no coincidence that I saw this pattern chequed on Ravelry so many times. I fell in love with the ears first, than came the tail, and of course the Hoodie! What a lovely, and simple pattern (not free, but worth it).

My creation

Pattern: Bunny with Hoodie by Barbara Prime
Yarn: 100% worsted wool: for Fred: turmeric dyed yellow, and Easter egg color green dyed by me; Wilma was made from Peruvian Highland wool.
Needles: 4mm
Size: sitting 7" high

The hardest part were the faces. I liked Fred's face right away, but had some issues with Wilma's. We were on our way to the Vet, when I blurted out "I'll rip her eyes out.", which startled my son, who thought I was talking about Biko, the reason for another Vet visit. Well, I thought that was hilarious. I redid her nose too, Wilma's that is. Biko's fine, just had us worried, because once again she must have done too much, but she's getting better. Almost as good as new. :o) She's had her last steroid pill on Saturday, and by Tuesday, the Vet promised they would be out of her system. I hope so. She's stalking me, when I go near the kitchen, and she's eating EVERYTHING!

Of course nobody could keep us from romping through the snow, with sunshine that bright, and snow up to our knees!

Photo was taken early Sunday morning.

To get back to the bunnies. I'm still very much Kitchener stitch challenged. It's the part I don't like about knitting toys. I wish they were knit more in the round.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


My creation

It's snowing heavily today, as was expected from what the weather forecast was telling us. Earlier in the morning we went for a walk. I enjoy this kind of weather, and so do the dogs. Not so much the rest of the family. Here they are on the balcony, not quite knowing what to do, so they dug their noses deep into the snow, inhaled and sneezed. After a few times back and forth, they came inside. Now it's time for tea, and some fibering. I'm not going to do anything else today.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Elses Sjal

A few weeks ago, while I was reading Hege's blog I found the link to Mauds Garn in her side bar. Of course I followed it, even though I don't understand Norwegian, but one can look at pictures, no? Well, I found a picture of this gorgeous shawl, and I wanted to make one with the same colorway very badly. As you can see, I'm now proud owner of some more yarn, which came with the shawl instruction in Norwegian. I don't think I'll need it though. It's a very basic shawl, made beautiful with the yarn and the crochet edging. I'm not going to make the flower though, but I like the tassel. If all that would not have been enough, through a mistake, I got the yarn just for the cost of shipping, and even with my pointing that out to Maud several times, she let me have it. Wow. Another side effect of ordering from Europe is, that the parcels arrive faster than from the US or even within Canada, it's unbelievable, but true. I'm looking forward to knit up this lovely shawl. Hope to get to it very soon.

(I took the picture from Maud's website).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sea Leaf

My creation

Fiber: 70% merino wool, 30% sea cell, 4oz, colorway "Sea Leaf" dyed by Dyed in the Wool Handmade
Yarn: 2-ply, 336yds, 14 WPI

This was extremely pleasant to spin with. As you can see in the first picture, the fiber separated easily into two strands ( Well not for me. I was sitting on the sofa all tangled up in the separated mess, and clever as I think I am, I started to divide from the other end, thinking this would help, but it didn't. Son to the rescue. He untangled me in no time, and I gave him the last colorways, still waiting to be spun to divide for me.)

This blend (which is actually merino, tencel, sea cell) is used for sock yarn, but I don't think I'll knit socks with my skein. Don't know yet what it will be. I'm getting tired of only having 4oz of anything, and to come up with clever ways to find a suitable pattern for it.

I think this colorway came out very lovely. It's cooling effect, just looking at it, makes me happy. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, usually I have singles left on one bobbin, but this time they were quite even spun. At the end I had 1 inch on one bobbin left! How cool is that?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Creative knitting!

I was not sure what to blog about today. Oh, sure, I've got one FO to show you, and some handspun yarn too, but I just didn't feel like it today. Did you know that it was Mothers Day in Great Britain yesterday? I'm glad there is such a day, and I'm always for remembering my mom and grandmother on this day, whatever date it is, but I don't like to celebrate it on a certain day for myself. I think every day should be mothers day, and I don't necessarily mean to be given gifts, which cost money, but with words, and actions. My kids tell me, they love me almost every day, and that means much more to me, than gifts. Oh wow, way off topic here.

Alright, moving on to my actual theme today. This past weekend I had it in my head to do something specific, but could not get it to work. For two days I was grumpy, and didn't even realize it, until my son asked me, if my knitting wasn't going too well. That stopped me in my tracks. He was right, of course. There are so many projects I want to do, which is fine, but this particular project was all mine, and I couldn't get it started. A lot of swatching was involved.

That's when I stumbled upon my copy of "Creative Knitting" in my bookshelf (got to love it). Creative Knitting by Mary Walker Phillips was in my possession for some time now. It's not a pattern book, there are some stitches explained, but it's a wonderful book nevertheless! I've looked through it many times, and did not take away anything useful for me. The time was just not right. This time however, it was my liberation! I started to read, thought of the one yarn (some Louet linen/mohair blend) in my stash which was perfect, grabbed it, and a circular needle as well; cast on, started knitting, with no plans, or pattern in mind, just to knit as I felt like it. I learned new stitches, and even though I've not come too far with this, it helped me to get the other project started. As soon as I freed myself from my own pressure, it all fell into place. It's wonderful! You should take the time and just knit without the rigidness of patterns, for a change. It feels good! I think especially knitting is very much bound by rules, and how-to's, which is necessary if you want something you knit to fit. But it gets boring too. You do all the same things over and over, a certain way, and with time and many repeats, you might feel like a knitting machine. That's another reason why I like to learn new knitting skills from time to time.

I like knitting a lot, but getting stuck is not so much fun. This creative knitting made me unstuck, and I'm so very happy because of it, and thankful for this book. I also found out about myself, that I'm having a hard time to ignore my need for symmetry, and order in my knitting. I think in the end this need will take over again, but for now I'm trying not to let it be "the boss of me"! :o)

Well, as I said, I've not come far with this, and I think I'll use it to work on it, whenever I get the "being stuck" feeling again.

And as for the doggies: This time it's Sam's turn in the new bed. Biko is just happy to sleep beside it.

On Saturday she overdid it a bit, and had to take it easy yesterday. I'm real jumpy when it comes to yelps (heart stopping really) from either of my pups, because it's no good news. Sam overdid it earlier last week as well, and was limping real bad for a day. Sometimes I forget that even though they are so energetic and happy to run around, they are gimpy dogs, with lots of surgery behind them. Well, all is well right now, and I hope it will stay that way for a long time.