Saturday, July 31, 2010

Travel Tally

Here's a bit of fun that I found online:

visited 26 states (52%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

While it's technically correct that I've visited 26 states, I hesitated to include Texas since I've only spent a few hours in the Dallas airport. I did watch every episode of the TV show "Dallas".  Does that count?!!

My goal is to visit every state, properly visit them.  This map will help me to fill in the gaps when choosing vacation places.

Unfortunately there was no map available for Canada.  I haven't visited the northern Territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut) ... yet!  As for the 10 provinces, I've only missed one at this point:  Prince Edward Island.  I've properly visited every other province. 

There is also a map of the world available, but I decided not to post it.  By choosing a country like the U.S. it colors in the entire country, which looks to me like you are far better travelled than you are.  The same with Canada. 

My total tally of countries visited:  20. 

It's a good start!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Nights are Mine!

It's a night for guilty pleasures.  In 10 minutes Project Runway, season 8, will be starting and this season the show will be 90 minutes long.

Afterwards is "On The Road With Austin & Santino".  These are two of the more colorful and funny contestants from the first and second season of Project Runway.

Time to choose a knitting project to work on during the shows. 

Ah, I'm going to like Thursday nights for the next couple of months!

Update, after the shows:

It was so good to enjoy P. R. again, and to watch the new Austin and Santino program.  Santino made me laugh so many times when he was on P.R. with his stories and imitations of Tim Gunn.  I was laughing again tonight.  The show is more subdued that P.R., but fun just the same.
I saw this sweater on the preview of the Austin and Santino show, but didn't spot it tonight.  It's a style I like and the color combination works.  I'll watch for it in a future show so that I can have a better look at it.                           

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Right Stuff - Part Two

Back on May 30th I showed you a sweater I knit for my daughter and her friends, back in the 1990s when they were in their early teens. Here's part 2 of that post.

While I knit about a hundred of the "Album" sweater, I only made one of each of the following sweaters. The yarn is from Phildar and I can't remember the name of it. It's a DK weight. These were a lot more work. It's a good thing that I like intarsia so much. I had so much fun designing them, knitting and espcially seeing her wearing and enjoying them.

First up, this is the Joey McIntyre sweater. He's one of the New Kids on the Block. This was inspired by the picture which was part of her bedspread, behind the sweater. His face is on the sweater front,

his autograph with "Love and Luck", on the back.

Well, I couldn't just stop at two NKOTB sweaters. I had to make a third one.  However, I can't put my finger on the pictures, so I'll save that for Part 3.  If I could have found the pics, you would have been spared a third part!

I also made a Vanilla Ice sweater.  I know, many of you are groaning now!  On the front he is posed in front of a graffiti wall, flashing the sign he used to make with his his fingers, similar to the Vulcan salute.  The sleeves have more graffiti.

On the back is his name and the title of his album.

Have you had enough?  Do I hear you crying "uncle"?  Knitting for young girls was so much fun and it was probably the time when I did the most knitting and designing and had the most fun.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Helping the Homeless

I'm very appreciative that some of you have agreed to help the homeless after I blogged about the Compassion In Action group.  Since the group came up short of things to hand out last year, I'd love to overwhelm them with our generosity this year.

Just a clarification:  we don't need only knitted items.  This isn't just a knitting campaign.  Anything that a homeless person could use is welcome:  belts, clothing, coats, shoes, etc.  If you're reasonably close to me, I'm more than happy to come by and pick things up.  I will be away for a couple of weeks in August by the way. 

We could really use some gloves or mittens, either knitted or purchased. It's hard to think of cold weather these days, but it will be here before long.

Donations are given to the homeless in November, so if you could get them to me by the end of October, that would be awesome.

Thanks, again, everybody.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Travel Afghan - Blocks 37 to 39

I've blogged in the past about my Travel Afghan.  This has been an ongoing project for several years.  Whenever I go on a trip I like to look for a yarn shop and I'll buy a ball of yarn in order to add another block to the afghan.  I try to choose something that will remind me of the trip and the area that I'm visiting.  It might be a yarn that is from that part of the country (e.g. Brown Sheep from Mitchell, Nebraska), a color representative of the area (e.g. southwest colors), the name of the yarn (e.g. Limbo, for when I was stuck in the Toronto airport during 9/11), etc. 

All but two were from my own trips.  The exceptions are a block using the yarn that my daughter and son-in-law brought me from their honeymoon in Greece; and, yarn from my best friend's trip to South Africa.

The pattern I'm using in the Rambling Rows afghan.  I chose it, not only because it's one of my favorite patterns, but because there is no sewing together of the blocks.  For each block you pick up the stitches and make a mitered square or rectangle.  I've just finished blocks number 37, 38 and 39.  I was behind, but I wanted to get caught up before I head out on vacation next month.

Block #37 was a trip to my hometown, Kingston, Ontario in August, 2008.  I said that I was behind in my squares!  I was visiting my parents and while I was there the rain came through a hole in the roof (the hole was created by a family of raccoons).  The rain caused the hardwood floor by the front door to lift and buckle.  I extended my trip to help out with talking to the insurance company, contractors, etc.  I chose a ball of brown yarn that was close enough to the same color (the yarn is a wee bit darker than the floor) as the hardwoods.  The yarn is Lang Silkdream, 50% merino wool/50% silk, is aptly named.  It's beautiful and soft.

Block #38 was another trip to my hometown, this time in May, 2009.  My father had recently had another debilitating stroke and was living in a long-term care nursing home.  He's still there.  The yarn is Fashion Aran by King Cole.  My maiden name is Cole and before my father had his strokes, his username on the computer was always King Cole.  The yarn seemed like an ideal choice.  It's 70% acrylic/30% wool, color #89 Granary.  Even with the high acrylic content, I quite like it.

The last completed square is for a short trip I made to Cheyenne, Wyoming for work, in May of this year.  Even though I was only in the city for a few hours I had to check out a local yarn shop and I found Ewe Count.  The yarn is a skein of beautiful undyed 100% mountain merino wool made in Buffalo, Wyoming. It's from the Camino & Sons KID Ranch, Johnson County, Wyoming.  Not only was it from the area, but I'd never seen it anywhere before.  I'd like to see it, in large quantities, again!

Added 8.01.10 - I just picked up the Fall issue of Interweave Knits and this yarn is featured on page 12 in the "Yarn Spotlight".

It feels good to be caught up at last.  Now, I can go on vacation and bring back another wonderful skein of yarn and knit it into my afghan right away. 

By the way, there are 55 blocks in this pattern so it's going to be a while yet until this project is finished.  I need to travel more so that I can complete it!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is a bittersweet time for me.  On one hand, I was to have been preparing to fly to Scotland to teach at Knit Camp 2010.  I have this ad from Yarn Forward, a British knitting magazine, as a souvenir.  My name is in the third row.  This would have been an amazing time, but I had to withdraw to take care of some family business.  There are only so many vacation days from work, and I have my priorities.

Knit Camp 2010 was to be followed by the I Knit London Weekender in September.  I recently found out that one of the teachers who will be there is Alice Starmore herself.  Oh well.

All that being said, now comes the sweet.  I am preparing for a trip home to Canada.  I'm spending the majority of my time in Kingston with my Mom.  The bonus good news is that my daughter, son-in-law and 6-month-old grandson, Braydon, will be flying in from Calgary, so I'll get to see them, too.  I'm really looking forward to that.  Perhaps I can go to Scotland and London another time. 

I'm also planning to go to the Kitchener Blues Festival.  Bonus here, too.  One of my favorite bands, Delta Moon, from Atlanta, will be performing.  I haven't seen them in person for two years.  My hotel is right in the heart of the festival, and near a yarn shop.  Good planning, don't you think?

The hard part of a trip is deciding what knitting to take along.  I can't just take one project for 10 days, for heaven's sake.  I'm in the process of narrowing down my choices.  I'm thinking I might work on the Saroyan scarf.  I have the yarn I want to use for it:  Wolle's Tropical yarn, that I talked about before, here

I'm also going to take some of my Rowan purelife British Sheep Breeds DK Undyed wool to continue swatching for an aran sweater I'm designing for someone.  I need to have it finished by early October.  More on this project and my trip to Southern California later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Compassion In Action

I work with a very special lady.  Kelly is her name.  She heads up a group called Compassion In Action that helps the homeless.  I want to help her.  I hope that you will read on.

Kelly was telling me about her group.  Every year, in November, they meet up with the homeless people, mostly men, and give them things that will help them to get through the coming winter in Denver.  It's one-on-one.  She and her group personally hand them whatever they've been able to collect throughout the year.

Many of the stories that she told me would break your heart:  the man who explained how good it felt to have a new, clearn pair of socks to put on his feet, especially since his shoes were full of holes; or how grateful a man was to receive a belt because his donated pair of pants were too big and now he had something to hold them up.

I know.  It's easy to stay that a lot of these people brought this on themselves.  They may be alcoholics or drug addicts.  But, you know, they are all human no matter what their story may be.  It's just possible, too, that they encountered bad luck, perhaps lost their job and had no one to help them and nowhere to turn.  Does it really matter?  These people, PEOPLE, are in need of the basics.

Compassion in Action collects anything they can.  Often they spend their own money and buy things like backpacks so that these people don't need to take a shopping cart to carry their belongings.  Last year, very sadly, they did not have enough to give everyone something and had to turn some away.

I look around here and see how much I have.  The yarn I've collected, alone, would keep several people warm with mittens, hats and scarves.  I plan to knit as much as I can.  I, we, could use some help.  If you've got some extra yarn in your stash, why not knit a hat, or whatever?  It won't take long.  Maybe two?  It would be great if you put a little tag on whatever you knit saying something like "Mary knit this for you".  It'll give them a name to go with the knitting, a human connection.

If you're nearby, I'll pick up whatever you have to share.  For knitting, you can also drop it off at A Knitted Peace in Littleton.  They've agreed to take donations.  If you live farther away and you don't mind putting something in the mail, email me and I'll send you my mailing address, with my thanks.

Most of the homeless are men.  There are a few women, and thankfully, rarely only a child.  Don't worry about whether your yarn is machine washable.  If it will keep someone warm, that's all that matters.

All this being said, if you feel like helping, but want to help in your own area, why not?  It's amazing how good it feels to give back.  How would you feel if you were the one in need?

Thank you for reading.

By the way, I jokingly say that I'm "knitting for the CIA"!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Okay, let's start with a mini-rant:

Christmas is NOT in July, no matter how much you want to have a sale, or whatever.  I was surfing radio stations the other day and they were playing Christmas music, saying that they wanted to be the first.  I couldn't change the station fast enough.  I'm turning into a Scrooge I guess, not wanting to hear about Christmas until December 15th.  The one exception is for knitters who need to have things knitted in time. 

Two bits of good news:

Project Runway, season 8, starts next week on Thursday.  Afterwards, on the same night, is a new show, "On The Road With Austin & Santino".  That should be a hoot.  I can't wait.  I do enjoy my guilty pleasures.


There is a new Santana album (I mean, CD - I'm showing my age here!) being released on September 21st.  It's called "Guitar Heaven: Santana Performs The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time".  I checked out the song list and it looks very promising.   He's playing with some wonderful people.  I'm looking forward to hearing his song with Rob Thomas.  They're playing "Sunshine of Your Love", the Cream song.  Their previous collaboration created "Smooth" and I still play it and enjoy it as if it was a new song.  I doubt that I'll ever get tired of that song.  I hope that there will be a tour to support the new CD.  I've seen Santana three times, the best from row 3 at Fiddler's Green.  I don't like the new, corporate, name.  Amazing show.  Geez, those are a lot of links!!  Here's a picture that I took that night:


I'm putting the finishing touches on hats to send to a friend's grandson who is deployed to Afghanistan.  I've made one for every one in the unit, 173rd Airborne.  This weekend I'm going to shop for some items to add to the package.  Apparently they like snuff/dip but it's nasty stuff and I just can't bring myself to buy it no matter how much it helps them get through their time.  They aren't near the main camp so shopping for things like toiletries is difficult.  I might add some of that.  I'll also look for something fun to add.  I'll post pictures of the hats when the ends are all woven in on the hats and they are ready to go.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bohus - Onward To the Blackwork

It's never fun for a knitter to rip out rows and rows of stitches, especially if it's colorwork and the yarn is half angora.  However, it's totally worth it when you go from being unhappy with your sweater to totally pleased.  That's what's happened with my Bohus.  I couldn't be more pleased with my no-purl version and I'm glad that I started over.  I've now finished the fun part, the colored yoke, and will be knitting only in black from here on. I'm starting with the back.

When I posted last time I said that there was a bit of a ripple near the bottom of the dotted section, but I assumed it was because I had 388 stitches crowded onto my circular needle.  Now that I've spread out the stitches onto two needles and placed it on the dress form, there is still a little rippling.  This is because of the high rate of increase on one of the rows, going from 312 stitches to 388 in a single round.  It's only a small ripple and I'm not worried about it in the slightest.  Blocking will flatten out that round without difficulty.

I got a very nice Bohus book a few days ago.  It's written in Swedish, but that's okay.  I enjoy seeing foreign knitting books and the pictures in it are gorgeous.  I spotted this book on the Bohusläns Museum website and wrote to them.  I wasn't sure if anyone would be able to read my email in English, but I was happy to find that they were able to read it.  The book was sent and the invoice will be coming, but isn't here yet.  It wasn't expensive, either - just the cost of the book and actual postage.  What a wonderful, trusting attitude they have.  I'm so impressed.

I'm loving the whole Bohus experience more and more.  It's been very positive and satisfying/

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knitting Sleeves

I'm moving right along with the little shaker sweater that I'm knitting for my grandson, Braydon.  The front and back are finished and now I'm working on the first sleeve. 

When I decided to do this sweater, I worked out the math and cast on for the back, knitting happily along, knowing that I'd have to more math once I got to the armholes.  Then, one day, I was surfing around some knitting sites and came across this pattern leaflet:

Not only did the red sweater look like the same sweater that I was knitting, but I was using the same yarn as this pattern called for.  What a coincidence!  So, I ordered the pattern.  Why try to invent a pattern that already exists?

Well, the way the pattern suggesed to make the shaker stitch and the way I was doing it were different, and I didn't want to start over, so I'm continuing with my version and I'm happy with it.  The pattern had you cast on one more stitch than I was using.  No problem.  I'm not worrying about a single stitch.  There is one more thing on the red sweater that is different than mine.  They have created a short button band, 3 buttons long, at the back of the neck.  I didn't want that, too feminine for a boy's sweater, in my mind.

So, the little shaker sweater is a combination of what I want and what is in the pattern leaflet.  Now that I'm working on the sleeves, it's nice that the math has been done already!  I'll probably make the cardigan at some point in the future and use the pattern as is.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tour de Lance

Five years ago I designed a sock pattern honoring the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong's 7th win.  If you're following this year's race, perhaps you'd like to knit some socks to show your support.  I hope that inserting the files here works for you.  I've never been able to figure out how to insert a .pdf file into Blogger, so I saved them as a .jpg through Photoshop.  Each page is a separate file.  If all is working as I hope, you should be able to click on the picture to enlarge it and print it, and use your Back button to come back to this page. 

You're welcome to knit a pair for yourself or your friends, but please do not use them for any commercial purpose.  Also, if one of your friends wants a copy of the pattern, perhaps you'll be kind enough to send them here to my blog to do so.

I'd love to see pictures of your finished socks if you'd care to share them. is the pattern:


I'm not following the race this year, but even so, I'm very tempted to start this shawl, Eiffel Tower, and join in with the knitalong (Ravelry Link).  Just the fact that it is remiscent of Paris is enough for me.  I have too many things on the needles now, so will just one more be okay?  I bought the pattern, I have yarn in my stash.  We'll see....... !

Sunday, July 4, 2010

No-Purl Bohus

There hasn't been a lot of knitting to write about lately as I've been making negative progress on my Bohus.  I wasn't happy with the look of it for a number of reasons, so I carefully ripped back all the way to the neck ribbing and started again.  My main objection was to the purl stitches, or more acurately, my purl stitches. 

When I originally looked at the sweaters online, I didn't realize that there were any purl stitches and I admired the smooth appearance.  I was suprised to see them when my kit arrived and I started to read the pattern.  So, I made them.  I wasn't happy with the results when it got to rows 46 to 58.  When you introduce a new color by purling on the right side, you get a two-color bump.  Now, a friend (Ravelry link) of mine did this part and made it look marvellous.  I'm thinking that perhaps my purls were looser than my knit stitches, but whatever the reason, mine just ended up looking bad.  That's when I made the decision to do no purls, on this sweater at least.  I'm sure that I'll knit another Bohus in the future and I made add them in then.

The result is a nice, smooth, laying-flat, bit of knitting that I'm happy with.  You may think that you're seeing a bit of ripple in the bottom part of the knitting in the picture, above, but really it's because I've got 388 stitches scrunched onto the circular needle.  I'm about to increase to 400 stitches...all this on size 2.5mm/US #1 needles! 

As I was knitting the black and gray dotted section at the bottom it made me think of the back of the loon:

I know that the way I'm knitting strays away from a traditional Bohus, but it wasn't going to be authentic anyway.  I'm using the original yarns, purchased here, but I'm not Swedish, from Bohuslän, and I plan to work the body in the round.  The originals are constructed in pieces.

I'm thinking ahead and would like to make another one of these sweaters, wandering even further from the original, but still using the original patterning.  I wonder how it would look if I use Shetland wool?  I may have to give it try, and I might have enough yarn in my stash to accomplish this.  Using my stash is a major goal for me for a while, until I get it under control a bit.  Some patterns can be found in the excellent Poems of Color book by Wendy Keele.

But that's for another time.  For now, I'll soon be working on miles of black knitting with tiny yarn and tiny needles...and I'm looking forward to it.  This is the kind of knitting that I like.

By the way, there are a group of us who meet once a month to work on our sweaters.  If you're in the Denver area and you're knitting a Bohus, why not join us?  We meet at the Southglenn Library in the Streets of Southglenn shopping district, Centennial, on the first Monday of the month, starting around 5pm.  If you're here on vacation and can only come to one get-together, you'll find yourself welcomed.  There's no charge for this.  We just meet and knit and chat.  Email me if you have questions or if you'd like to be added to the notification/reminder email list.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day! Bonne fête du Canada!

"Canada is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts"