Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Week 38: 77.875 square feet

This week's recap is a bit early, since I'm heading out early tomorrow morning and won't get another chance to hook again until it's 'next' week. Despite the short week, I'm pretty happy with my progress and hopeful that I can finish off this end on the weekend that I return - right at the beginning of March.

I read the funniest thing on someone's blog the other day - I'm still chuckling about it a few days later. I can't remember where it was, but basically the blogger had been crocheting a huge (and gloriously colourful) afghan for the past couple of months, and blogging the process. One night she mentioned to her husband how she couldn't wait to be finished, and he replied, "I bet your readers can't wait either." I can relate - and I'm sure you can, my apologies for all of the Jumbo talk over the last couple of years. It will soon be over - I promise (or I will die trying....) - and I, for one, am so looking forward to starting (and sharing!) some new and different projects soon. Oh, so soon.....just 12.125 square feet from now! :-D

P.S. I had grandiose plans of pre-writing a few blog posts or at least taking a bunch of pictures for more of my 'knit parade', but alas just never seemed to make the time (and hooked instead). I will try to blog a bit from the road, even if it's just to post a picture of something interesting I happen upon in my travels....but I expect things will probably be a little quiet around here for the next week or so. Back soon...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

make do and mend

All winter long, I wear wool socks - mostly hand-knit. I'm a lucky girl who usually has very warm feet.

My mum knit me a whole sock wardrobe a couple of years ago....and even before that, I had a few pairs of her socks. The only downside to hand-knit socks is that when you wear them all of the time, they don't last forever.

A while back I returned a couple of pairs that were wearing through at the heel. She's fixed this problem before by knitting a little patch and grafting it in place (and now usually doubles her yarn when knitting the heel, as preventative medicine), but on the most recent fixes, the problem was a bit more severe. Since my mum can be quite determined, she actually did a much bigger mend on these recent pairs, cutting the foot off each sock, carefully ripping back the felted stitches to where it was still 'good', picking the up stitches, re-knitting the heel + another inch or so below (where most of the wear happened), and they carefully grafting the other half in place. Tedious work, that is for sure.....but as she says, "it's not as long as knitting a whole (new) sock!"

She did a pretty good match for colour on this pair (and another)....and I'm sure that after a couple of wears and washes, the patch will be barely distinguishable. Thanks Mum! xxoo

Monday, February 20, 2012

Week 37: 75.5 square feet

Before I started hooking Jumbo on Friday, I decided to unroll and re-roll in the other direction. Although I hadn't yet completed the corner, I'd passed the edge of the centre and figured it would be easier to maneuver (and complete the corner) with the new orientation. This rug is getting heavy – 37lbs and counting! (Which needless-to-say makes for a very nasty number when I hop on the scale holding it on my shoulder!) Here is a snap showing 1/2 of the rug.....

With the log now along the 'short' (8 foot!) side, I was thinking it was going to be a lot easier to manhandle...since the log would lie parallel along the back of the frame. Unfortunately my system of supporting it by tying it onto the top bar of the frame and then propping the bulk of the leftover log on a stool was not really working as well with the change in direction -- mostly because the log kept sliding off the stool and making a big thump (and subsequently tugging at the work, etc.) So I had to come up with a new system.....and luckily it's also waaaaaay better......

I ended up turning my couch around, so that I could lay the log across the back. Now when I'm ready to hook, I push my frame right up against the back of the couch, get the backing positioned just so.....and the scoot my loveseat up to the frame, Fred Flintstone style. Big felt feet on the furniture thankfully make this quite easy, and I love how the weight is supported the whole time I am hooking – and even when I'm not – by the couch. My living room looks a little strange, though, and there is not much it's a good thing I don't get a lot of company! LOL!

I really should have taken a picture when I stopped hooking last night, but I just wasn't thinking (there is too much light coming in the windows in the daytime). This coming week will be a short week, hooking wise, since I'm leaving on a week-long business trip on Thursday – and Jumbo is not invited! I will take some snaps and post them before I leave with an update...and hopefully the colours will be a lot better. But right now, I'd better get hooking!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fabulousness and Favourites

I missed last week, by accident. Sorry....sickness intervened, and it just disappeared in the night from my mental to-do list.

:: Mollie Makes magazine and blog. I had seen mention of this relatively new UK crafty magazine on blogs, but forgot all about it until I saw it on the newsstands when I was in England last Fall. Naturally I picked one up...and loved it. I was happy to rediscover it in Chapter's last week....and even happier when I read inside that there is a digital version available for a fraction of the price of the hardcopy The magazine sells for £4.99 in the UK (equals approx $7.50Cdn) ...but sells $13.75 at Chapters. A digital subscription is just 64.99 for 13 issues (less than the price of 5 hardcopy issues at Chapters)

:: The urge to sew with felted sweaters continues, thanks to Belle Armoire magazine and discovering Katwise's wonderful many-sweater coats. Now I don't think I would have the gumption to wear an exact replica....but I can dream.....and create my own cardi.

:: Speaking of sewing with felted sweaters...check out these baby blankets and this bigger blanket. Love!

:: One of these days I want to learn how to crochet.....and then I want to play with colour, like Eclectic Gipsyland and Ceitaspasaule and many others....

:: I've been periodically checking out Pinterest....and tried to join, but my invitation didn't work (I think it's because I didn't have FB, and the delay - while I set up a special FB just for it - caused a problem....but that's a whole other story). Definitely lots of eye candy on there, but it's easy to get overstimulated and feel like everyone else is so perfect. In my research, though, I discovered something quite cool for other bloggers....Did you know that you can see what images people are pulling off/pinning to, from your blog? Copy and paste the following into your browser:
(of course you need to remove my blog name and add your own. It will also work for other blog platforms and some websites, too .....)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

it worked!

Julia left a comment yesterday, suggesting that I might want to consider getting a humidifier. So last night, I did a little experiment, and boiled a pot (and a half) of water on the stove. I wanted to scent the water a bit, so I scavenged in the cupboard and happened upon some ancient vanilla beans. I snipped a little piece off and added it to the pot, and while the water might look a little scummy, it released a delicate scent.

A few minutes after I turned off the element, I decided to try cutting some wool and see what happened....and there was NO STATIC! I was hoping that this was the quick, cheap, easy fix that I was looking for, but I was still a little surprised that it worked!

What is really funny is that I haven't really thought of my place as being dry.....but I guess it is. So thanks Julia - you've saved my sanity! :-D

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

do you Static Guard?

I realize that I've been cutting a large amount of wool lately, and that it's winter (and subsequently drier inside than at other times of the year).....but man, the static in my wool is crazy nuts. It's been winter before and I've cut just as much - or more - wool at once, but I've never had the static problem like I have right now. I took this picture this morning - it shows the amount of static on the first cut since Saturday.

I've tried lots of things to date, including applying lots of hand cream before cutting, lightly spritzing the wool to be cut with a flick of water, rubbing down the cutter with a dryer sheet, and even a quick spurt of hairspray on the wool, and my option of last resort: ignoring it and hoping it goes away will soon be impossibly to maintain. Yesterday I broke down and picked up a can of Static Guard - something I haven't bought since the 90s...back when I was wearing pantyhose to work most days. But before I start my own experimenting, I thought I'd ask whether any of you tried it? With any success? Do you spray the wool or (horror!) the cutter? Do you have any other ideas on eliminating the static?

– Desperately seeking refuge from static electricity

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

indigo dragonfly

I made a quick stop in Bracebridge on my way home last Thursday to pick up Sushi for supper.....and while they were making it, I wandered over to Muskoka Yarn Connection. Looking at pretty yarns is such a great way to burn a few minutes.....and burn through some money, too, if you're not careful!

Luckily I came home with just this one skein. I fell in love with the colours, the feel of the yarn....and the unique name didn't hurt either. Now I just need to decide what to make with it.

This was my first introduction to Indigo Dragonfly yarn....and I was excited to discover that she is practically right in my own backyard. I think a little road trip might be in order this summer....

You can see some of the other colours and read their fun names on flickr here.....and there are also lots of limited edition colours on her blog. Oh, so pretty...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week 36: 71.5 square feet

The rug is getting harder to man-handle, but I'm learning some tricks. The bulk of the already hooked section has been rolled and tied every foot or so, with heavy, strong yarn....and before I even try to position my work on the frame, I've been using some more yarn to secure one of these ties to the top-bar on my frame. This has done a good job of keeping the weight up enough that I can centre and square the part I want to hook on the gripper frames (without gravity skewing it all sideways. I've also started holding up the rest of the 'log', using either a stool for it to balance on, or lately I've just been propping it up on the couch (opposite from where I've been sitting to hook). You can get a bit of an idea of the funny set-up in this picture.....

The last corner is getting much closer, and I hope to be working on a short side sometime this weekend. Of course, that will necessitate another grand unrolling and re-rolling....just so that I can reposition everything and reach the section to be hooking. But it's not all bad - seeing it all at once should be quite motivating for a sprint to the finish. Plus, since it will be shorter, I might not have to hop over it every time I go in and out of my bedroom (or worry that I will forget it's there if I get up in the middle of the night! LOL!)

Speaking of finishes.....I am already starting to stress about how I'm going to press it when done (and regretting not doing the middle all of those months ago). Any suggestions? I usually use an Elna Press and a wet tea towel, but that's not an option -- mine isn't anywhere big enough to accommodate such a huge roll (I'd only be able to do the outside several feet). I'm contemplating buying a proper steam iron - and I'd be grateful for any feedback if you've ever used one before on your work.

Friday, February 10, 2012

little bird

I arrived home last night feeling too tired to hook, and too tired to blog....but I managed to needle-felt this little bird onto a sweater before I sought out my nest on the couch.

The sweater was one of those 'too-good-to-be-true' deals, regular $98 or something on clearance for about $12 at Banana Republic. I didn't notice the hole until after I'd tried it on – and I'm not in the habit of buying defective clothes – but the sweater has some great rouching (sp?) up the sides and I really liked the fit...and it was a really great price! Plus, I already knew how I could fix up the hole so that no-one knew it was there.....

I like the simplicity of just one bird, but I can't help but wonder how it would look (and whether or not I would wear it as much) with a little branch underneath the bird. Maybe a couple of leaves, a flower bud, or else just something down at the bottom of the sweater. But before I decide, I'm going to 'test drive' the sweater a couple of times first, to see how the little bird wears. Starting today - I'm meeting a friend for lunch! :-)
P.S. I'll be back tonight with my Friday list of fun things....

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

another over-dyed knit

I started this process late last year.....and it's still continuing – refashioning some of the items in my closet that are seldom worn, but over-dyeing, embellishing or modifying. Back at the beginning of January, I gave my seldom-worn Abalone a versatile cast of Teal (I think - it seems like eons ago now). I've been delaying posting about it because I wanted to take some better, less-rushed pictures of the 'after'....alas that hasn't happened, and I latched onto it as a post topic for today (before I rush out of the house and head to Toronto).

Although lovely, the original colourway (above) just didn't match the rest of my clothes. I only really had one long-sleeve that looked good under it, and if it was in the laundry hamper......
I am wishing that it was a little less subdued (it's not quite as dull as it appears in the picture, but close).....but I guess that is what happens when you rush head-first into something, and take a gamble. Even so, the over-dyed version (below) is infinitely more wearable, looks great with jeans, and works with at least half of my tops. I've probably already worn it almost as much since it was over-dyed as I did before. Mission accomplished!

P.S. Thanks for all of the Jumbo love yesterday - both in the always-so-wonderful-to-receive comments on the post and privately. It truly is a labour of love – with a smidgen or five of ambition mixed in! I am definitely looking forward to the day when it is done and I feel free to start some of the new hooking projects that have been running around in my mind, testing my willpower for the past few months.

P.P.S. Posts might be a bit irregular over the next couple of days. My plans of 'blogging ahead' on the weekend just didn't come to fruition. I will wait and see if inspiration strikes on my travels...

Monday, February 06, 2012

Week 35: 68 square feet

I started this past week with a bang, as far as hooking is concerned – hooking almost a square foot on both Monday and Tuesday. Which was a good thing, since I was away for a couple of days after than and I had a bunch of errands and odd jobs that required a bunch of my time on the weekend. All of this means that I hooked almost as much in one week as I hooked in the previous 2 weeks....and I've completed half of this second long side of the border – and the whole border is now half-hooked! Yippee!

I am now more eager than ever to 'just get 'er done'....and hope that I can meet my self-imposed deadline of having it completely finished (including the steaming and binding) by the end of March. Cross my fingers - and toes!

What I learned this week is that some days I just hook faster than others. Take yesterday, for example, when I hooked just 7 squares in about the same time as I was hooking 14 squares earlier in the week. I think I was just tired. And maybe a bit distracted. Yeah, I think that is it. Hopefully I don't have that problem again this week - I'm away on a business trip again this week. Not being here for 3 days will crimp my style a little, but hopefully I can play catch up on the weekend, again.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday Fabulousness and Favourites

Every week when I sit down to write this post, I think that I should start jotting down a list of things for next week's list right after I finish posting. So far I haven't managed to progress beyond that thinking stage...but maybe this coming week will be the week! :-) In the meantime, it's a pretty short list this week.....

:: I've knit a lot of shawls over the years, and I've decided that now I know that it is possible to knit my own sweaters that I lurve – and because a girl only needs so many shawls – that I wouldn't knit any more. But now Veera has designed this....and I'm having a very hard time resisting the pull....

:: A couple of years ago I kept reading about washi tape on blogs. Then when I was in NYC almost two years ago, I actually saw some in a store! I quickly snapped it up, treasured it and used it sparingly. But the more I used it, the more I loved it.....and the more I knew that I had to find a place to buy it in Canada. After a bit of hunting, I found Omiyage and placed an order with them last summer. Now I happily have a good supply, and feel free to add it to any project where the tape is visible. The colours are great and I especially love how it just the right amount of sticky. It makes great removable labels (it lifts off without leaving any residue behind), too. It helps to keep bags closed and easily resealable. And did I mention all of the pretty patterns and colours? <3

:: Sherlock. A modern day interpretation of the classic aired its first season last year (I got caught up on Netflix, following a recommendation by my cousin Laura). There are only 3 episodes per season, and they are almost movie length long (1.5-2 hours each). I was thinking that I would have to wait until May for season 2 on PBS, but last night I happened upon one by accident airing on BBC Canada. I didn't wait to start half-way into the episode, so I checked the schedule online...and it's back again on Sunday at 2pm and 10pm. I think I will have to take a little hooking break to really watch it.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Postcards from Niagara Falls * UPDATED *

I just arrived home from Niagara Falls....and wanted to share a little bit about my quick trip. Although I was there for work, I did manage to squeeze in a few fun things, too.

After arriving in the late afternoon, my boss and I decided to go for a walk along 'the strip' (of tacky museums and amusements on Clifton Hill) right beside our hotel. We quickly changed our minds and started out on a walk down to see the Falls first - before it got dark. It was a wise choice, since it was a rare opportunity to get so close without having to squeeze our way through hoards of people. In fact, there were hardly any people! We practically had the whole place to ourselves – during the walk from the bridge to the US all of the way past both sets of Falls to top (where you can look down on the water before it goes over the Horseshoe Falls) we only encountered about 20 other people.

After you get over the feeling of being on a movie set after hours and once you can ignore all of the tacky-tourist attractions (which is quite easy to do when you're looking at the Falls), it was really quite lovely. I was surprised to notice how loud the got, the closer we walked. My boss said he wanted to get as close as we could go (on this side of the railing!)....and we did that. Our hair got soaked in the process, because of all of the mist, but I was so glad to have gone for the walk. I end up making this trip every year, but this is the first time I've actually gone down and walked along the edge. Of course I've been before in the summertime, but always when the place is swimming with other tourists. It was definitely a treat, and I would encourage anyone to go in the off-season if they really want to enjoy the natural wonder that it is.

And, if you do go, I cannot recommend the Syndicate Brewery enough. The prices are too-good-to-be-true ($20 for a 3 course meal of gastro-pub fare), service is great, food is delicious, and the brew is, too. We did a taster flight (1/4 pints of 4 beers of your choice) and my favourite was the Logger Lager.

We ate supper there last year, too, and I really wanted to return because it was so good. Even though our expectations were high, they did not disappoint! Mmmmmmm....

I originally pecked out a full post using BlogPress this morning....only to have it completely vanish into thin air. So I quickly posted a couple of pictures and have just now reposted better quality images from home and more text.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The start of the Knit Parade....

I realized that I have quite a few finished knits that I haven't shared I'm going to try to assemble some pictures and start posting about them. First up is Golden Wheat, designed by Veera Valimaki of 100% rain. This was the first of her patterns I tried -- and I'm now on my fourth! ( I love sweaters that don't have a lot of seams....what can I say.... :-))

(sorry - it's the best I can do this early in the morning....)

Not really ‘golden’ and not really ‘wheat’.....but I’m still loving this knit, even though the name doesn’t fit.

I started and finished the knitting last summer, mostly while camping, and I remember it all seemed to come together quite quickly. I was originally thinking that it would be a great thing to bring with me to England.....but I soon realized that it would be both too warm and take up too much room in my suitcase. This is no light-weight sweater!

Finding the right buttons proved to be the biggest challenge. I looked at hundreds, and finally decided on a style that was in short supply. Rather than settle for something else, I asked the store to order in more.....and patiently waited. A few weeks went by, I went on my trip, life got busy, and I forgot all about the sweater – and the buttons! Until just before Christmas, when I was out shopping a sale at the fabric store....and I suddenly remembered to look for the buttons. Luckily they not only still had them, but they also had enough of them.

It just took a few minutes to sew them on, and my new cardigan was ready to go into rotation.....just in time for the real winter weather.

P.S. If you're curious, I knit with two strands together (Cascade 220 in the green and Ultra Alpace light in a navyish colour), and I think the only modification I made was to extend the button holes all of the way down. Oh, and I just remembered I also decided for forgo the pocket.