Monday, 26 January 2015

Knitting Lace

There is something quite comforting about tackling the precise construction of lacing knitting.  It is about mathematics really - simple counting, adding and subtracting.  As long as you don't let your guard down and lose track of the pattern repeats, you're fine, but you have to stick with the schematic so the holes show up in the right places.

And when it is done and blocked and ready to show off, well, there is the reward.  The Shawl shows up nicely against the winter garden doesn't it.  Fortunately a Chinook had warmed things up enough to make taking the outside shots possible.
This shawl, as I mentioned in my last post, is actually a sample chosen for the Knitted Lace class I will be teaching at Stash Needleart Lounge in February.  It is called the Arrowhead Shawl and you can find it as a free pattern on Ravelry.

  This Pattern was chosen  because the design by Pam Allen for Interweave Press,  is well written - has  good graphs, and is easy to follow once you unlock the mystery of the graph. I would enjoy making it again, but I would make it bigger I think.

 The thing about printed patterns is that they love to save paper so explanations can be cryptic at times.  Teaching patterns, on the other hand, need more explanation, so we have enlarged the Interweave instructions a bit to make it easy for first time lace knitters.

Reading graphs has to be the first order of business . It's another language
The class is full I'm pleased to say - a good showing for a first offering.

The yarn is Rios by the Malebrigo company - in "Ivy".  I thought I needed 2 skeins, but actually used a skein and a half, which means the shawl could be made bigger by a couple of pattern repeats quite easily.  I made the shawl to the recommended size and stitch count.  I wanted to make sure everyone could actually finish it in the 3 week class time (with knitting homework between classes of course).

Here is what it looked like before I blocked it.
 And here it is pinned out on the improvised blocking boards on the floor.
It stretched out nicely didn't it?   The colour really hasn't changed here - it is in shadow on the floor pinned out with lots and lots of T-pins.

I've turned to a crochet hook for the next lacy project.  I'll be able to show you more about that later.

We are still having unseasonably warm weather around here and sunny skies to go with it. It's gorgeous!  The problem is though that the melting snow is freezing at night, so all the melting becomes sheer ice polished by the Chinook winds and  is incredibly treacherous to navigate.  Libby and I have been sticking to the walking paths along the river but even there I can feel my toes curling up in my boots.  This isn't Libby's favourite snow - she prefers the light, fluffy kind she can roll in and make snow angels.
Ah well, winter isn't over by a long shot.  We still have February to look forward to.  Lots of knitting weather yet!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Fun in the Snow

It's January. 

We have lots of snow around here.
And we love to play in it

I actually dreamed last night that I was in my green garden rejoicing at the new plants coming back after winter.  Obviously we have a long way to go as the 4x4 beds are buried in the white stuff at the moment.  Libby is really the only one who truly, truly enjoys having shovel fulls of snow in her face. 

Today we are having a Chinook, the snow is melting and temperatures are above zero.  January can be like that sometimes.

I must need green because the lace shawl I'm working on is very green.
It looks like a crumpled lump of nothing right now, but I'm having fun working it up, and when it is blocked I think it will look quite spectacular.  This one is called the Arrowhead Shawl, designed by Pam Allen and originally published by Interweave press in 2006 - Ravelry has it if you're motivated to have a look.  Ravelry has just about everything.  I think, if this one actually works out - it will be the teaching shawl for our new lace class at Stash.  That's all I have to show you today. 
Have a good week.

Friday, 2 January 2015

A very Happy New Year to you all!

I sort of skipped New Year's this year.  I had every intention of seeing it in, at least on television, but sleep seemed more important and I missed the ending. I hope you had fun whatever you did.

And I woke up yesterday morning, the first morning of 2015 thinking that I hope I'm not tuning into   carnage  - but - sadly that is exactly what I tuned into - shootings at a Calgary house party, the aftermath of a mass murder, more news about the sad recovery of the Air Malaysia airplane, and even more news about the horrific ferry fire in the Mediterranean.  And that was just last week!

It can only get better can't it?

So this is what I hope.

I hope it does get better.  I hope people will start to be kind to each other and stop trying to destroy one another.  I hope we all take a page out of Commander Chris Hatfield's book and make some positive resolutions...and then follow them, do them, live them.

 I think if we taught all men to knit - including high profile politicians,  we wouldn't have so much negativity and war.  Think about it.   If we taught young men to knit, maybe they wouldn't want to shoot or stab each other or rape women.

  It might seem a frivolous thought, but I read an interesting story a few years ago about a scientific test on a knitter's brain waves during the act of knitting.  Electrodes were attached to her head and away she went, into the zone.  Imagine the surprise on the faces of the scientists to find out her brain waves went into a meditative state as her hands concentrated on making the stitches.

 Two sticks and some string!  - powerful weapons indeed.

A very happy new year to you all.  thanks so much for sticking with me on this tiny blog.  Thanks for reading.  May we all have a good year.    Cheers   Patricia

Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas week.

It's that quiet time between the hubbub of the Christmas celebrations and feasting, and the hubbub of New Years celebrations- the lull between.  Today it is snowing and cold here - 17 degrees with a nasty wind chill.  Libby and I are just in from a long neighbourhood and park walk and a play outside in the snow.

Libby doesn't so much play in the snow, as she dances.  It started snowing yesterday and as far as she was concerned, that was her Christmas present.  How do you not be affected by that pure joy in something so simple.
Christmas more or less went off without a hitch.  None of us were sick.  The Turkey was delicious and I didn't forget anything in the frig.

I've been amusing myself knitting a small lace shawl - well, actually I was amusing myself until I made a mistake - lost my concentration and had to rip the entire thing out.

You would think I'd learn.  I was working away while I was cooking Christmas dinner - got to row 36 and everything went sideways, tried to take it back a stitch at a time.  Since 3 stitches are added every row - that was 114 stitches by the time I realized and taking it out one stitch at a time-  Didn't- Work.

Last night while watching the Harry Potter Marathon, I pulled the entire thing out and got it started again.  I'm enjoying the pattern  - Prairie Wrap designed by Cynthia Yanok for Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation - you can find it on Ravelry - just search "Prairie Wrap" and up it will come.
As I say, I am enjoying the pattern but concentration and counting are always the key with lace - I know this - I just got distracted.  Lesson learned.
So today I'm going to sit quietly, limiting distractions and move on this.  This is my goal.  I'm determined.  Besides - it is snowing and cold out there - hot tea, shortbread cookies and knitting win the toss.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Very Merry Christmas from our house to yours - and a gift from me to you.

Well, I think we're ready.
The tree is up and decorated.  We bought a gorgeous Nova Scotia Balsum Pine this year that is slurping up water like a good thing but rewarding the house with the most gorgeous pine smell as I walk up the stairs.  It's a trade off.
The Santa collection is out.
And so are the snowmen

These wee snowmen have been following me from house to house ever since my dear friend Gwen gave me a couple of them along with the pattern.

As my gift to you:  I'm passing the pattern along - it is, as Gwen says, dead easy and quick.
Here goes.
You will need a ball of white, red and/or green worsted weight yarn and 4.5 mm needles for this and some stuffing or styrofoam balls in two sizes (one for the body and a smaller one for the head)
You will also need a pair of googly eyes and some black yarn to make a nose with.

First make the body:
Cast on 40 stitches with white.
Knit every row until you have 40 ridges - that is 80 rows.
Cast off leaving a long tail for sewing up the body.

Next make the hat:
Cast on 44 stitches with either the red or green yarn,
Row 1-4: k1, p1 across to make the rib
Row 5; knit across
Row 6; perle across
Repeat rows 5 and 6 for 2.5 inches
Cast off, leaving a long tail for sewing up the hat

Lastly, make the scarf:
Cast on 50 stitches
Row 1-4 knit.
Cast off.

Fold the white rectangle in half and using the long tail from the cast off edge sew the two sides together to make a tube.  Still using your thread, gather up the top of the tube by making a running stitch around the top and pulling tight to close off the top of the snowman head.  Stuff the body with either the stuffing, or the styrofoam balls, small one on top, large one on the bottom

Fold the red or green (whichever colour your chose) in half and sew up the seam as you did for the body.  Again gather up the top of this tube to close the the top of the hat.  You can make a pom pom or tassel to finish off the hat if you choose.

Put the scarf around your snowman's neck and stitch on the googly eyes and make the nose.
You're done!  Make a pair - make a family. 

And here are some pretty winter shots for you from along our winter river trails by the Bow River.

 The days are mild and sunny here - and the branches down by the river covered with frost.  A big chinook arch can be seen off to the west.  It's pretty treacherous underfoot but it sure is pretty.
Number two grandson is here for Christmas - such a treat to have him. 

Merry Christmas to everyone!  Here's wishing for a lovely holiday and a wonderful new year for us all.  Sorry I've been absent from this space - New Year's resolution - do better!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lord Kitchener's Stitch

The Chinook winds have started here - and snow is melting.  And that means ice...  Underneath my feet...  Treacherous ice waiting for the unsuspecting.  And that means neighbourhood walks are off for the forseeable future - at least until the next snowfall at any rate.  It's been almost a year since my "big fall" and I don't mind telling you I'm terrified of falling again.

So...I retreat into the house and pick up the knitting needles, although Libby and I did venture over to the dog park this morning where she made friends with a gorgeous Doberman named Kira and we played with the frisby.  Libby's pretty good at the Frisby catching - not so good at bringing it back but we're working on it.

 I feel much more confident walking on the icy grass than I do tip toeing down the sidewalks around here - and the alleys are skating rinks - polished ice that looks like glass and is twice as dangerous.

I've just finished a very interesting scarf  designed byCarol Huebscher Rhoades and published in the September/October issue of Piecework Magazine.  You can find it at -

This was such an interesting scarf to knit - the two fan shell motif's are knit separately, one of them then turning into the narrow rib pattern and finally joined up with the Kitchener stitch.  The idea here is no bulk around the back of your neck, but a pretty ruffle in front.  I used a lovely wool/mohair blend spun at "Custom Knitting Mill" in Carstairs and given to me by a friend whose niece owns the goats and sheep.  It was gorgeous to work with and this scarf will go back to my friend to thank her for the wool - I used around 100g of the wool and 4mm DP needles.

And that got me to thinking about the kitchener stitch itself and what a great grafting technique it is...and that got me to thinking about why it is named Kitchener stitch.
So, a bit of research later I found out why this very handy joining technique is named after Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, first Earl Kitchener 1850-1916, a hero of the Boer War, the war in Sudan and the first world war.

According to the research I found, Lord Kitchener was also quite involved with the British Red Cross and "exhorted" (lovely word that) British, Canadian and American women to knit "Comforts" - i.e. mittens, scarves and socks for the soldiers.

 But here's the interesting part - Kitchener knew how to knit socks! - and he had a sock design of his own using a squarish "grawfted" toe which he distributed to the Red Cross and which he insisted would be a much more comfortable toe closure for the soldiers in their boots.  Clever eh?  And this "Grawfted" square closure became known as the kitchener stitch!  And it is more comfortable to wear - no question.

But Kitchener stitch can also be used for other things - among them, this lovely scarf I just finished.

In this case the grafting is done in the round - which can be as bit more tricky but still works like a charm.

One of my favourite technique books is Mary Thomas's Knitting book, first published in 1938 and is full of wonderful drawings.  Mary ignores the name "Kitchener" and just calls this "knitting graft" and she has a song - or chant to help remember what to do when.

 Front Needle
"Take off as if you were going to knit
Prepare as if you were going to purl
Back needle
Take off as if you were going to purl
Prepare as if you were going to knit"

 Bear in mind you have the same number of stitches on the front as on the back, and this technique is done with your tapestry needle, keeping the yarn between the needles, not over the needles. 
So simple, so effective and indeed makes for happy toes or any other invisible grafting you want to do.

Back to the Christmas knitting - three pairs of socks are finished finally - keeping the projects small this year - "comforts"
talk soon.  p

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I am Remembering today

When the first World War started he was a 34 year old family man.  He worked for the CPR railway Company as a conductor.  He had a wife and four small children, Ron, Mildred, Lester and baby Gertrude (my mother)
Then in 1917 or there abouts, the call for soldiers reached it's fingers out to Canada and Canada responded.
He found himself training in Scotland, in uniform, having his portrait taken.  Was this the picture he carried of his family?  The small portrait underneath is taken in France in 1918.
He was a handsome man, a family man, and he was my grandfather, my mother's father..James Johnston Greer, born 1880 in Miami, Manitoba, married to 19 year old Eva in 1905.
 What an upheaval it must have been for that little family, for my Grandmother, Eva, wondering if she would ever see him again.
But he did come home and he sent and brought souveniers.

This Crib cover, hand stitched with lace and silk ribbons was for my mum, the newest baby.

And here is the carriage cover he found.  It says souvenier of Belgium - hand painted silk and belgium lace with embroidered flowers and leaves.  An amazing piece of work.

I don't know if he managed to send these treasures home to Eva or if he brought them back with him.
I do know he was in the trenches of France and Belgium and was a victim of mustard gas.

These are three hand stitched post cards and a delicate silk handkerchief - souveniers of France he sent to his wife from France.  Did he wonder if he would come back?  He must have.  Somehow these wound up in my mother's wooden handkerchief box.  The stitching is exquisite.

He did come home, fathered a fifth child - Lorraine - and saw her married to a flyer, Jack Brechan and send him off to fight in the second World War, and watched his son Lester sign up for the Canadian Army.   
James passed away in 1948 of cancer  at 62, and family legend is the Mustard Gas ultimately killed him.  He is buried in the Burnsland Veteran's Cemetery in Calgary.