Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It's all new

Meet the new Acer which now sits proudly on my desk in all its shiny glory.  The purchase was necessary or at least I thought it was, because I desperately needed a system upgrade, having been warned repeatedly by Microsoft that it was "orphaning" XP, my very well used operating system.

My old Acer lap top is seven years old, still going strong, and has given me very little trouble...well...other than the time it crashed under the weight of a nasty virus, but really, once we had expunged the bug, it chugged on and actually continues to do so.  However, its operating system, the very popular XP, does not and I'm sad about this. I imagine a lot of people are.  XP was a good system, easy to navitate and I had learned it well.

The new Acer is running Windows 8 - a bit of a learning curve.  Where are my files, where is my e-mail, how do I get from here to there?  And the most disconcerting thing is that this system seems to have a mind of its own - deciding for me when really I want to decide for myself.

The cursor, for instance, moves itself around at the most awkward times.  I really have to keep my eye on it to keep it in line, rather like learning to make a dog heal beside me if you get my drift..

I like the machine though, and if this new Acer is as much of a workhorse as my old one, I'll be happy with it.  I like the bigger screen, and the lighter weight of it.  And my fingers are getting used to the new keyboard...mostly .

Anyway, this has been occupying my time for the past week, first while I set it up with the help of my wonderful son who, although he doesn't look it, is super geek when it comes to this stuff.  Then we had to migrate all my files over to the new machine.  Then I had to learn where everything was - and I'm still learning all that, and then...I had to figure out what didn't come over, and re-install it.

So, excuse the temporary absence from the wonderful world of blogging.  However, I'm back and if I can keep the cursor in check, I should be able to post this without any problems.

I'm keeping myself sane by knitting -. 
This is a shawl full of lovely colour and texture in garter stitch using up odd balls from the stash .  I cast on 300 stitches on a 6.5 mm needle and am stopping at about 70 rows before I fringe the ends.  It has been a great way to use up some of the stash, although I did top up with some multi coloured wool - I changed colours every 3-5 rows just to amuse myself but it does have a sort of theme going on.  You can do this with just about any colour combination and just about any weight of yarn.  When it is finished, it will be donated as a prayor shawl to someone in need of comfort. 

OK.  There is a strange blinking light I have to figure out.  Talk soon.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


…also called Mattress stitch, weaving, grafting but whatever you call it, here is how you do promised.

You will need:   -A good tapestry needle or yarn needle with a blunt point.
                    - A few safety pins to hold your work.
                     -a pair or scissors to cut off the ends of your tails.

By learning this easy way of weaving invisible seams which is worked on the outside or right side of your work, you will have a very nice finished product that looks seamless, which is after all, what we are trying to achieve. There is no point of going to all the work knitting a lovely garment only to have it downgraded because of the way it is seamed together. 
   When you pick up a piece of your knitted fabric note that the side edge curls under to the purl side – particularly if it is a stocking stitch piece.    Slipped stitch selvedge edges don’t curl quite so much…but they still curl.  This is normal.
Use your thumb and forefinger to un-curl the side edge.  Notice the long loops and small knots.   We will be weaving through the long loops from the right side.

Here we go:
First of all make sure your cast-on edges are at the bottom of the two pieces you are seaming as they face you laying side by side and the right sides of the work are facing you..  You wouldn't want to go to all this work and find you've seamed one piece upside down! 
To keep things steady, pin the top of the two pieces together, and place another pin about half way down.  These pins will be removed as you weave your way up the sides.

Thread your tapestry needle with a length of yarn about 20 inches or 50 cm long.  By keeping your seaming yarn fairly short, you eliminate the risk of the yarn fraying.  When you run out of yarn, just cut another piece, leave a tail and continue seaming up the side.  These ends will be tailed in when you finish weaving.
Using your thumb and forefinger to un-curl the fabric on the left hand piece, bring your threaded needle up from underneath into the bottom outer edge.  Leave about a 6 inch tail.  Take your needle across to the right hand piece and go down into the bottom outer edge to join the two pieces but don’t pull up tight yet.  Make sure the bottoms of your two pieces are even. Join the two pieces together at the bottom.  You can tie a loose knot in your tail at this point:


Staying on the right hand piece, from underneath, bring your needle up into the first long loop.  Go across to the left hand piece and take your needle down into the first long loop and up into the next long loop on the same side. 
Go back across and take your needle down in the same loop you came out of on the right hand side, and up into the next long loop on this side.   Now go back across the gap to the left hand side and take your needle down into the same loop you came out of on the left hand piece, and up into the next long loop on the same side.  Now...take a breath.  Things are going well.

Repeat this process up the side of your two pieces making sure you continue to roll the knitted fabric right out to the edge before inserting the needle into the long loops.
After you have made about 6-8 weaving stitches, stop and pull quite firmly on the weaving yarn to pull the two pieces together.  They will look as if they are one piece.   Pretty neat eh?

Continue until you have sewn both pieces together from bottom to top.   You may have to juggle one side or the other slightly to compensate for a difference in the number or rows, by inserting your needle into a knot between the loops.  Knitting is elastic so things should work out. 

Weave in your ends on the wrong side of your work as follows:
Thread the tail to be woven onto your tapestry needle.  Now take the needle and pick up the backs of the knit stitches on the diagonal for about an inch.  Pull your thread through gently.  Don’t pull up tight. Now, change directions and pick up the backs of your stitches in the opposite direction, again for about an inch.  .  Trim the tail close.  Use your tapestry needle to fray the ends of your cut off tail and then stretch the area of the weave just a little to set the weave. 

Weaving bound off stitches together .
You’ve bound off your shoulder stitches.  Now you need to weave the back and front shoulders together.   Still working from the right side – here is how you do it.
Thread your needle with about 50 cm of your weaving yarn.  Lay your two pieces out, right sides up, top next to bottom.

From the back side, insert the needle up between the first and second strand of yarn on the right hand side of the lower piece just below the bind off edge.  Take your needle across to the upper piece, and insert it down into the corresponding place on this piece.   Staying with the upper piece, bring the needle up two strands to the left , just above the bind off edge this time.

Go across the gap, into the lower piece, go down in the same place you came out of, and up two strands to the left.   Go back across the gap into the upper piece.  Repeat this procedure until your shoulders are woven together.
After you have made a few weaving stitches, stop and pull firmly on the working thread.  Notice, the bind off ridge disappears and the two pieces merge just like magic.
You can use this weaving method whether you have a straight shoulder seam or a graduated shoulder seam. 

If your shoulder seams are resting on a stitch holder or spare needle, here is how you bind or cast them off  together.

Hold together your shoulder pieces with the stitches on the holders or on two knitting needles, wrong sides are together , right sides both facing out.   The stitches should match. In other words, you have the same number of stitches on the back holder or needle as on the front.  With a third knitting needle bind off both front and back stitches as if they are one.  There will be a seam showing here.  This is not invisible.  A note here - you can transfer the live stitches to knitting needles to be bound off, or leave them on the holders - this is your preference.

 By the way, here are plenty of good resource books out there, and many U-Tube videos of course to walk you through these processes.  Some are better than others. 

Check out  on line for good steady demonstrations..
You may also want to check out books by Maggie Righetti, Elizabeth Zimmerman, Barbara Walker, Mary Thomas, and Vicki Squires, the gurus of the knitting world.    You can find these books on Amazon.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

the Winter that is Spring

Apparently spring has decided to give us a miss this year.  It is hard not to be slightly resentful of the British Columbia coast where daffodils apparently are blooming and crocus's are up.  Here we have ice flows.
It's interesting though, this landscape which is essentially black and white with a tiny bit of colour thrown in just to keep my eye from exploding.  No self respecting tree or bush has woken up yet.  Time seems to have stopped.  But work on the river banks is frantic right now, preparing for any flooding.  We pray we don't have a repeat of last year.

Libby is really enjoying this weather though.  She didn't enjoy the old snow which was crusty, sharp and sounded like styrofoam when we walked on it.  We have had new snow this past week - light powder which she delights into running through, making her unique snow angels in, and searching for her orange ball.  She's in luck.  More snow is on the way tonight.
Libby puts a whole different spin on this weather.  She makes it fun.  Good thing!

And in the studio, work is going well on the writing of the "finishing your work" class.We are calling it "Homemade to Hand made".   As soon as I have proofed the work and added as many pictures as  possible, I'll post it.

I'll  be teaching this class - I think I mentioned this, at Stash Needle Arts Lounge in April.  Also on my personal teaching schedule at the shop this spring season are learning to make slipper socks, and a very cute felted lunch or carry bag, as well as teaching " learn to knit", so April, May and June will be busy in Inglewood at the little yarn shop. 
 If you're in the area do check out the class schedule on line.  There are some fun things to learn and do.  And as I said to my class last night - you learn a hobby that will last you your whole life.  Can't beat that.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Hint of Colour

We had 2 cm of  fresh snow this morning - a sort of spring snow that could have been rain, except it wasn't.
We have been having chinooks this past week. Lots of sunshine and warm temperatures  have melted a good deal of the snow around the city and dried up some of the roads.  The front garden is actually showing lawn - well, it was until this morning... but all the plants are still fast asleep. Very sensible of them I think.   In desperation, I bought a bunch of bright red tulips at the grocery store.  It will be quite a while yet until tulips poke their brave little heads out of the frozen ground around here. 

Meet the glacier that occupies the north facing back garden. . The raised beds are buried under  ice, but the glacier is receding, very slowly, inch by inch as a glacier should.  I'll keep you posted.

The first day of spring is the 20th of March, this coming Thursday, but in our part of the country it is a wish, not a reality.   Here we will be lucky to celebrate spring in May...tra la, unlike our Canadian west coast which is awash in blossoms.  I'm trying not to be envious.

I am working hard right now preparing a tutorial on the proper finishing of hand knitted creations.  Knitted garments are on the runways, and knitted sweaters, toques, scarves and mittens are still being created here for a while yet.  So...seaming, using mattress stitch, kitchener stitch, and proper blocking are all on the drawing board to help new knitters take their creations from homemade to Hand Made  I'm knitting dozens of 4x4 squares to help with the demonstrations when I teach the class at Stash Needle Art Lounge in April and May. And I will post a tutorial here once I have put it all together.

It begs the question, doesn't it why so many knitting terms are named for British peers - Lord Cardigan, General Kitchener to name a couple of them.  I don't think these gentlemen ever picked up a knitting needle.  I'll have to do some research on that - unless someone out there has any information they can pass along.  If you do, I'd love to hear from you.
And so it goes.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Random Winter Musings

 Snow squeeks.
 It squeeks under my boots as we walk along the path. 
It is very cold - minus 25 this morning.
 We are bundled up against the wind chill.  
The cold wind brushes my face and makes my cheeks tingle.
The orange ball keeps freezing in the ball chucker. 
I bang it against the fence post to loosen it from its moorings so I can toss it.
 The ball is also frozen - a solid orange circle that keeps squirting sideways out of Libby's jaws as she pounces.
Every few feet she stops, drops and rolls in the snow, making random sideways snow angels.
The snow is packed, frozen.
We walk on top of it - walking on frozen water.
Home, finally, I brew a pot of tea and get out the sock I am knitting.
Winter isn't over yet.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Olympic Fever

I love watching the Olympics.  I just resurfaced after watching the amazing opening ceremonies in Sochi and now I'm ready to cheer on as these young gorgeous athletes hurl themselves down the mountains and around the rinks in pursuit of gold, silver and bronze. 

As far as I'm concerned they are all amazing but I am slightly prejudiced in favour of my lovely big Canadian team.  You go kids!  You have worked so hard to get to this place.

I'm especially blown away by the luge event - a glorified tea tray with a skilled rider on top barreling down a narrow icy corridor head first.  That takes intestinal fortitude.  But then, so does the half pipe. 

I love that the Jamaican  bobsled team made it to Russia against all odds, but if you want to do winter sports in Jamaica, you are bucking the odds aren't you.  I wish them all the best - and I hope their sled runners make it in time for the competition.
There are lots of little stories attached to a big world wide event like this  - the Jamaicans are only one of them.

I think one of the big stories though, is the threat of disruption by extremists and I wish the politicians would remember why we hold world wide sports games in the first place.  Yes they are competitive, but it is positive competition, and should be appreciated as incredible hard work, sacrifice and amazing athleticism no matter what country. 

We hold games like this to come together from all over the world, to compete, to appreciate the skills of every competition, and to get to know each other -  in peace.  Peace - that's a big word these days.
It seems a shame to me that the athletes have to worry about their loved ones getting in the way of a bomb when all they should be worrying about  is the event they are competing in. 

It seems a shame to me that people have to worry about even attending events because of these threats.  And an even bigger shame, it seems to me, is the prejudice against athletes and citizens because of their sexual orientation.  What should matter is that these young people are absolutely amazing at what they do and we need to cheer them on to the finish line, not condemn them for who they love. 

Leave the politics out of the games I say.  But I didn't say it first. The president of the Olympic committee in his speech to open the games said much the same thing - in three languages.  It was a mild rebuke to the politicians who seem to have forgotten why these games come around every four years.  I hope they are listening.

Actually these Olympic games have come at just the right time for me.  I didn't realize just how long a broken back takes to fix itself.   Rest seems to be one of the most important aspects of the healing.  Having now learned to knit and crochet in a semi- reclining postition - I have a second sock on the go, a shawl to complete, and a bag to knit and felt. So I can amuse myself  quite nicely while watching the various events.

Go Canada!


Monday, 3 February 2014

Hide and Seek

When I was a young television reporter and it was a slow news day we would always call  to see what was going on at the   

At that time, in the 1970's the Calgary zoo was home to three very cute baby elephants and it was always fun to set up in the elephant enclosure and watch them play.  It made for great television and a welcome relief from all the various politics of the day.  These days if it isn't too cold, you can go and walk with the Emperor Penguins as they stroll around the zoo grounds.  Perhaps that will be for another day. the interests of welcome relief on this very cold winter's day, and because I'm still  on enforced rest as my back slowly heals...I give you Libby and Midnight and a wily game of hide and seek.

Midnight hides behind the door.  She figures if Libby forgets to look for her she can always make the doorjam buzz and amuse herself while she waits.  Libby hides in the tunnel.  Apparently if her head is hidden, so is the rest of her.
Ah hah - they found each other.  Now they can settle down and analyze the game, and pose prettily for the camera.