Saturday, March 31, 2012

Avalanche/Flames Hockey

One of the things I miss now that I'm in Calgary is watching "my" hockey team, the Colorado Avalanche.  In Denver you can watch almost all of the games on the Altitude TV network.  Last night, the team was in Calgary to play against the Calgary Flames

Colorado Avalanche
(click on any picture to enlarge it)
Calgary Flames

My daughter, son-in-law and grandson gave me a ticket to the game for Christmas and my daughter and I went.  It was so nice to be in a hockey arena again and to see the team.  The game was a good one, at least for Colorado.  This is playoff hockey and the Avs were focused. 

Faceoff at the beginning of the second period.

The score was 2 to 0 in favor of the Avalanche early in the first period and that held almost to the end when the Flames scored.  A few seconds later the Avs scored on an empty net making the final score 4 to 1. 

The Colorado Avalanche may not make the playoffs, this year at least, but they are a young team and building and tonight they put on a good show.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Shawl Project

I'm about to start a new and exciting project.  It's a new shawl pattern that I'm test-knitting for Sivia Harding called the "Sister Joan Shawl".  I'm waiting for the arrival of my new weigh scale so that I can divide the skein in half.  One of the questions that Sivia needed an answer to was how many repeats can be done when the halfway point is reached.

I'll be using Tosh Sock yarn is a gorgeous burgundy color called "tart" and Miyuki garnet gold luster beads, size 6/0.  I like the tone-on-tone matching of the yarn and beads.

I've tested patterns for Sivia before and I've always found her designs to be pretty and the pattern well-written.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this shawl turns out as I haven't seen a picture of it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jigsaw Afghan - The Finale

Started:  October 1, 2011.  Finished:  March 25, 2012.  This is an afghan that I made for a good friend's new grandson.  He's now over 2 months old so I'm glad to be able to send it off, finally.  I had planned to get it to grandma before the baby was born but Christmas knitting and life issues slowed me down.  There are 27 colors in the afghan and I tried to stick mostly to "boy colors".  Some, like the light purple, might be on the gender line but for a baby, I think that's okay.  I needed to add orange as the baby lives in Tennessee and I relate the color orange to that state.  The border and many of the blocks are shades of green as it's grandma's favorite color.  The yarn is machine washable and I hope that the blanket will get much wear and tear, dragged around and enjoyed.


Pattern:  My own, based on a quilt that I saw.
The pattern is free and you can find it by clicking on the "Jigsaw Afghan" link, under Labels, on the sidebar.  You can also find it, and a knitalong, on Ravelry, click here.  Look for the "Pages" tab.

Yarn: SandnesGarn Lanett - 27 colors used
I like the softness of the yarn and the wide range of colors that are available.  It is machine-washable.  The yarn pilled a little bit just from handling, especially the dark colors. 

Each ball:  50 g / 190 m
100% merino superwash wool
Made in Norway
Needles: US #2 / 2.75 mm

Note:  Number of blocks = 247
The black sections represent jigsaw pieces that have yet to be placed in the puzzle.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Knitted Peace

I just had to tell you about a yarn store, A KNITTED PEACE, in Littleton, Colorado, which is near and dear to my heart.  I worked there for a number of years.  As a matter of fact, I was the first teacher hired that wasn't a family member when the shop opened in 2001 and I also handled Thursday night's knitting help sessions.  It's a wonderful store.  The ladies who work there, which includes the owners of course, are amazing in both their knowledge and friendliness.  The knitting groups (Monday afternoons, first Tuesday evenings and Friday nights) are welcoming and a great place to sit and chat and meet other knitters.

Can you tell that I miss A Knitted Peace?  I really do and when I go back to Denver for a visit, I'll be stopping in to my favorite shop.

Owners, Marsha (left) and Jane (right)
The following article was in March 21st issue of The Denver Post and you can read it at the newspaper's website, here:

Business: A Knitted Peace
Address: 5654C S. Prince St., Littleton
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon., Tues., Wed.; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thurs.; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri.; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.
Founded: 2001
Contact: 303-730-0366, or
Employees: 5

Interview with Jane Dickinson, Marsha Asheim, co-owners

How did you get involved in this business?
We are both dedicated knitters who had worked for the store under a previous owner. When the store went up for sale in 2006, we were both interested and decided to join up and buy it. It’s great to have two of us because with a small business there’s always something that needs doing — ALWAYS.

What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
The expertise of our staff is really remarkable — it’s like the MIT of knitting at our store. We are able to help our knitters and crocheters choose the right yarn and needles, get past difficulties and successfully finish their project, whether it’s an afghan, a sweater or a baby blanket. Our teachers all work in the store and are there to help customers every day, and we offer free knitting help sessions every Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Among the seven of us, we have a couple of centuries’ worth of knitting experience and if we don’t know the answer, we can generally find it or figure it out.

What do you like best about your line of work?
The yarn. All the colors and textures, the possibility of creating something special, really make coming to work fun every day. We are also fortunate in having really wonderful customers that we enjoy working with and helping. And we have learned that in addition to knitting teachers, we are sometimes counselors and a friendly ear.

What is your business’ biggest challenge?
Keeping our projects affordable in an era of price increases in the fiber industry.

Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business:
Oh, we’re full of surprises. Our customers might not know that Marsha is a clarinetist who plays in a band and is a member of her church choir. Jane reviewed mysteries for the Rocky Mountain News before its demise and can be counted on for a book recommendation anytime.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Opal van Gogh

Opal has a creative new line of sock yarns.  The colors are taken from paintings by Vincent van Gogh.  I decided to get the Starry Night colorway.

Opal sock yarn is one of my favorites (Regia is another).  The colors are great, the quality is excellent, the balls have generous yardage and I find that the socks are long wearing.  Someday, when I've made a dent in my stash of sock yarns, I may get some of the others van Gogh shades. 


Pattern:  Generic
60 sts, 2x2 ribbing, stocking stitch legs and feet, short row heel

Yarn: Opal sock yarn - Vincent van Gogh collection
Color #5435 - Starry Night
100 g/100 grams/465 yards
        75% superwash wool / 25% polyamide

Needles: US #0/2.0 mm

This is pair #5 in my attempt to finish a minimum of 12 pairs of socks in 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


My friends know that I have a passion for knitting.  I knit almost every day, often items that are very complex.  But it doesn't end there.  I'm also passionate about teaching knitting classes and designing.  I did a lot in the past when I lived in the US but I've been away from it this past year. 

Now I'm working at reformatting my patterns so that they have a consistent appearance, making new samples and planning classes that I'd like to teach.  This has been on my mind a lot in the past several months and I want to tie this in with travel, yet another passion.  (I'll be in Georgia, mostly Savannah, next spring from anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, for example.)

I don't usually put much stock into horoscopes, unless it says something that I like.  I like the one I read today:  " Your strong passion for what you do could lead you to more success.  Get your message out there.  You might find allies where you never expected."

It's going to take a few months to get all my "ducks in a row", but then I'll be looking forward to the next step ... and hopefully finding some allies, perhaps in the form of shops or events that are looking for instructors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Giving in to Temptation

Since my dyed yarn from the weekend has dried and I've had a chance to have a good look at it, I'm finding that I'm really liking it a lot.  I've decided to dye some yarn after all, experiment a little.  I already have a cone of 75% wool/25% nylon sock yarn (I mistakenly thought it was 100% wool) and I've just ordered some more beautiful undyed sock yarn. 

The new sock yarn has a nice tight twist, 80% Bluefaced Leicester 20% Nylon.  I have lots of ideas for both types and I'm looking forward to trying them out.  I've been reading every word that I can find on dyeing.  I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist so I'll want to do this well.

I have favorite dyers from the US that will continue to get my business.  I know talent when I see it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Civil War Knitting

Life is full of coincidences and that's very true in the knitting world as well.

I'll give you an example.  A few years ago my friend, Barb (Hi, Barb!) and I were working on a Cowichan knitting project.  I hadn't seen anything in knitting books about Cowichan sweaters in a decade or more.  We  were only a couple of months into the project when we learned that Sylvia Olson was writing a book about Cowichan knitting and soon after that Jared Flood, aka Brooklyn Tweed, had a Cowichan-inspired sweater in his collection of patterns.  Suddenly I was hearing about Cowichan knitting again, just when it was on my mind as well.

This time, it's about the Civil War.  I've been to Georgia a few times recently and I would see references to the Civil War all around me:  names of streets, road markers to historical sites, statues, etc.  I learned a little about the war while I was in school, but it was more of an overview rather than in-depth descriptions.  Canadian schools teach more Canadian and British history.  I decided to educate myself before I go to Georgia again.  At the library I was able to borrow the excellent Ken Burns' documentary, The Civil War.  Then, I learned about a book, Killing Lincoln, by Bill O'Reilly and I borrowed it and I'm listening to it in the car on my way to and from work.

Now, the knitting connection.  I was reading the newsletter in my email from Knitting Daily and I saw that the upcoming issue of Knitting Traditions will have an article about sock knitting during the Civil War

Knitting for soldiers is a long-held tradition.  I remember, many years ago, organizing a Canadian effort to send knitted items to the soldiers in Bosnia.  More recently, I joined a group who were knitting long, boring plain black socks for US soldiers overseas.  While not the most exciting knitting it felt very good to be helping in some small way. 

Knitting Traditions is an excellent knitting magazine and I've bought and kept every issues, rereading the articles from time to time.  I'm very much looking forward to it's upcoming publication.  I'm planning to go back to Savannah next spring and when I'm there and I see a direction sign for Fort Pulaski I'll know what it is and why it's important and I'll think about those knitters long ago working on their socks for the men in the war.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Dyed Yesterday

I like to know how things are made, so yesterday I took at dyeing class at the Make One yarn store.  The teacher was Sam from Yummy Yarn Studio. 

It was quite an eye-opener.  Dyeing yarn is very labor intensive and there are so many variables.  Yarns can change color due to the content of the water (chlorine in the water, for example), the type of base yarn, how much dye is used, the temperature of the water, whether or not the yarn is wet when dyed, the type of dye that is used, and more.

Sam opened the class with some anecdotes about some of her successes and failures in choosing colors.  When something didn't work out for her, she explained what she had done and how she tried to change the color to something she liked.  She walked us through the process, explaining each step that we'd need to do, and why it was necessary, e.g. why we use vinegar.  It's to set the color.  She also told us about the dangers of working with the dyes and the safety precautions that we should take.

Then, we were paired up  so that we could help our partner, and vice versa....and let us loose to let our imaginations run wild.  We were warned that the colors we see when putting the dye on the yarn might not be what we end up with.  We were told to expect surprises and to find a way to love the results even it wasn't what we'd originally intended.

This dyeing project belongs to the lady who was across the table from me.  The dyes are acid dyes.  After we tied yarn around the skein to prevent it from becoming tangled we laid it on a large piece of plastic wrap (like Saran wrap), squirted vinegar on the yarn and the experimented with color.  After than, we closed the plastic wrap all around the skein and pressed on it to push the dye into the yarn.  We folded up the yarn into a little package and put it in a steamer to add heat to the setting process.  After at least an hour it was hung on racks to dry.  I brought it home when it was still damp and hung it up here to finish drying.

Each of us were told that we would dye three skeins of sock yarn, and the store donated a skein of DK weight yarn.  My results weren't exactly what I was aiming for when I started, but I like three of the four anyway.  The colors in the photo, below, are a little off.

Click on any of the picures to enlarge them..

The sock yarns are the three skeins on the left.  On the right is my DK skein. 

Left:  This was the second skein that I dyed and I wanted to see how solid or variegated the result would be if I only used one color of dye.  The color is "bluebell" but it actually turned out more purple than expected.  It's more purple than it appears in the picture.  There was only a small amount of variegation and this is probably my favorite skein of the four.

Second from left:  This was my first attempt.  I only used two colors, "salmon" and "turquoise" and was hoping for a southwest theme.  The salmon was a little more intense than I thought it would be and I wish I'd had more turquoise to use but it was a popular color and went fast.

Second from right:  For this skein I started with "olive", added "silver", and then just started adding more colors at random.  I had no idea what I'd end up with and I like the result which looks very much like fall colors.

Right:  The last skein I dyed was the DK and it's my least favorite.  I didn't care for the yarn much when it was undyed and dyeing it didn't change my opinion.  As a matter of fact I liked it even less after dyeing.  I was going for the colors of the Colorado Avalanche hockey team.  The burgundy looked pale even at the beginning and I thought I could bump it up a bit by adding some red.  It ended up looking rather purplish.  The blue wasn't too bad.  I'll likely use the skein for a charity scarf as it didn't turn out to be the colors I wanted, unless someone wants it.  It's going to be a while until I get to knit the socks.  The queue is long.

All in all, it was a very interesting and educational day.  Now I understand why hand dyed yarns are so pricey.  With all of the time and labor involved, it's worth every penny. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!

Oh, and time to relax and knit, of course.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jigsaw Border

I haven't had much to blog about this week.  I'm now back at work and the little knitting I've done has been to work exclusively on the border of the Jigsaw Afghan.  I'm getting close to finishing and looking forward to starting on a design that's only in my head at the moment.

For my first attempt at working the border I picked up stitches all around the edges, 20 stitches along each block for a total of 1,280 stitches.  I increased two stitches at each corner on every other round to ease around the corners.  After I'd done about 8 rounds I noticed that I'd caught the edge on something, broken the yarn and as a result there was a hole.  An unfixable hole, unfortunately.

I ripped out the entire border but I can't say that I minded.  The 40-inch circular needle was full and there was barely any slack to knit the stitches.  It was very slow and arduous, moving the stitches around the needle.  For my second attempt I decided to knit one side at a time:  380 stitches on each of the long sides, 260 stitches on each of the short sides.  This was so much easier, and quicker.

The border is dark green, knit in garter stitch with increases on each end of every other row.  When the four sides are finished I'll work a seam up the center of each mitered corner.  I have two sides finished - two sides left to go plus I need to weave in the ends on the outer blocks.  After that, it'll be put in the mail as this is a gift.  I'm betting that I'll make another one for myself someday in the future.

Just a reminder that there is a Jigsaw Afghan knitalong group on Ravelry and we'd love to have you join us.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Autobiographies & Biographies

One of my favorite categories of books is Biographies/Autobiographies.  Most of the time true life is more interesting, and more unusual, than anything an author can dream up.  The fact that what you're reading is true makes it all the more captivating. 

Not all books are well-written, that's true.  I found that reading Patti Boyd's story about her life with George Harrison and Eric Clapton a difficult read.  On the other hand, Eric Clapton's book was excellent and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I may even read it again someday in the distant future. 

Currently I'm reading about Steve Jobs, Apple's founder.  It's very good.  Normally I prefer books, but for this one, it's on my iPhone and I have reading material no matter where I go.  Somehow it seems fitting that it's on my Apple product.  Coming up soon, waiting for me, is the life story of Keith Richards in a book entitled "Life", and what a life he's had.

Two books are coming up that I'm very much looking forward to.  The first, due to be published on May 1st, is "My Cross To Bear" by Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of the Allman Brothers' Band.  I've read some accounts about him:  his musical journey with a bicultural band in the south in the 60s, the death of his brother and another bandmate, his problems with drugs and alcohol, his multiple marriages (at least 6), and his transplant surgery.  It'll be interesting to hear about his life in his own words.  I pre-ordered the book the minute I heard about it last October.  Publication has been delayed a couple of times.  I'm hoping that I'll finally see it in May.

Yesterday I heard that designer Kaffe Fassett is working on his life story in a book that will be called "Dream In Color".  I'm betting that it will have lots of beautiful pictures of his works.  There's been no publication date announced yet that I've heard.  He is someone who had greatly influenced my knitting and I'm looking forward to adding this book to my collection.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Knitterly Mail

Yesterday was a good mail day.  I ordered sock yarn from The Copper Corgi and it arrived, even prettier than I'd imagined.  The color name is "Stormy Marsh".  I keep forgetting and find myself calling it Stormy Monday.  I've been listening to the Allman Brothers' version of that song a lot lately so that probably explains it.  If the The Copper Corgi name sounds familiar it may be because this is the same company where I bought the Peach State worsted for my Travel Afghan.

I thought I'd like to make a pair of green socks to wear on St. Patrick's Day but I'm not sure that I'll have enough time to complete them.  I'm working on the border of the Jigsaw Afghan and it's time-consuming.  So, I'll make the green socks soon, but first, will finish up the pair already on the needles.  They are almost finished and I certainly don't want any second sock syndrome.

The Yarn:  fingering/sock weight, tightly plied, 100% superwash merino, 2 oz./skein, 230 yards.

Also in the mail was issue #42 of "The Knitter", an excellent, beautifully-presented knitting magazine from the U.K.  I haven't spend much time with it yet and none of the projects jumped out at me as must-makes, which is definitely okay.  I have too many things ahead of me as it is.  The articles look interesting,  however.  I'm looking forward to reading the magazine, cover to cover, in the next few days.

Update on the Jigsaw Afghan:  I found a small hole in the border where the yarn had snaggd and broken so I ripped it out and started again, but doing it differently this time.  Details to come...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fun On Friday

I'm working on the border of the Jigsaw afghan, working in the round, garter stitch (which, in the round means knit 1 round, purl 1 round) with mitered corners, size 2.75mm needles, fingering yarn.  I started with 1280 stitches, increasing two stitches at the corners on every other round.  Yes, it's getting bigger and it's slow-going.  I don't mind.

It's nice, however, to have a little break at times.  I have always loved geography so when this little game/test came my way I was eager to try it out.   

My final score was: 90% correct, average distance on the misses was 11 miles, time was 343 seconds.

If you give it a try, why not leave a note in the comments with your results?  Good luck.  Have fun!

Plus Alaska & Hawaii, of course!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Knitting With The Color Guys

Kaffe Fassett changed my knitting.  Back in the late 1980s I was kntting a lot, as always, but it was starting to get a little tedious.  I really enjoyed knitting intarsia sweaters for my daughter but, at about age ten, she was starting to get a bit old for them.  Some were okay, such as the New Kids on the Block sweaters, but others weren't "cool".  I was also knitting gifts for friends who were having babies, but my friends were getting older and the baby years were pretty much over.

Then, along came Kaffe Fassett with his over-the-top intarsia designs and 20+ colors.  It was exciting.  I also discovered Rowan yarns and loved all the colors and textures.  I bought all of his books, subscribed to Rowan International, and made plans to knit many new sweaters and I did tackle a number of them.  Some designs are still on my must-make list.  I went on to discover other designers:  (all Ravelry links) Jamie and Jessie Seaton, Kim Hargreaves, Jean Moss, Sasha Kagan and Annabel Fox, to name a few.

Over the years the books slowed down as he got into quilting and mosaics, for example.  I kept hoping for a new book and there were a couple, but they were mostly patterns reworked from his older designs, or his pattern library.

I was pleased and hopeful when I learned that a new book was to be published recently.  The book is "Knitting With The Color Guys" by Kaffe Fassett and his partner, Brandon Mably.  I thought that, perhaps, a new book of designs was finally being published.

It's a pretty book - lots of beautifully photographed knitwear and pictures to set the mood of the book.  However, I'm afraid that I'm again disappointed.  I've seen many of these designs in one form or another before.  Also, the designs are simpler than previous works.  The earlier patterns had lots of colors added in at random, building richness.  If you look inside the front cover of the book you can see an example of this.  Most of the patterns in this book have distinct geometric borders, all quite predictable.  To me, they don't appear as intricate.  I miss the fabulous sweaters and coats which have now progressed to scarves, throws and pillows.

I bought this book based on the fact that it was a Kaffe Fassett book.  Would I buy it again?  Probably.  It is enjoyable to leaf through the pages, but I'm not sure if I'll make any of the patterns.  That's okay as I still have a long list of earlier designs that I want to make.  I'll always remain a fan and I'm grateful that he brought excitement and  passion back to my knitting.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finished Baby Booties

I didn't do much else other than work on the baby booties yesterday and I finished them.  I did it!  The booties took about 24 hours to make.  I've always been good with deadlines.   They keep me focused.  Now, I will return to the Jigsaw Afghan.  It's close to be completed.  I only have 13 blocks left to do and then there's the border.

Pattern: Christine's Stay On Baby-Booties
by Christine Bourquin
Free pattern, click here

Made for: Jen and Jeremy's baby, Rowan, born 2/26/12 

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Fingering weight
Color #340019 Moss green
Color #340100 Off-white
(less than a ball of each color)
Plus about 5 yards of light green Sandnesgarn Lanett #9012

Needles: US #1/2.25mm

Notes:  This Ravelry link has the changes I made to the original pattern.

This is pair #4 in my attempt to finish a minimum of 12 pairs of socks in 2012.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sivia Harding

Last night was a very special evening for me.  I went to a meet and greet at a local yarn store, Make One, as they were hosting designer and teacher, Sivia Harding.

I've been wanting to meet her for a number of years as I've done test-knitting for her.  She creates beautiful designs and her patterns are a pleasure to knit.  Working with her has been a treat.  I had the pleasure of testing two shawl patterns:  Harbour Lights and Norwegian Woods (Ravelry links).  We've been emailing for years and it was so nice to finally meet her and she is a delight.  I also knitted another of her designs, this one was a Christmas gift for my daughter, the Hanging Garden Stole.  I can highly recommend her wonderful patterns.

I succumbed to temptation last night, too, and signed up for a class.  I'm going to be taking a class to learn about dyeing yarn.  Uh oh.... I wonder if I've embarked on a new obsession?  The class is on March 17th at Make One. 

Baby bootie update:  I don't know if I'll get these booties done by tomorrow morning.  I'm about halfway through the first one (almost noon as I'm writing this).  I've got season two of Downton Abbey from the library and I plan to settle in for the next few hours, watching and knitting. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Challenging Myself

I've decided to set aside all other knitting for a couple of days and take on a challenging deadline.  My daughter and son-in-law's friends, Jen and Jeremy, just had a baby boy and I've decided to make a pair of baby booties for him as a little gift.  How could I resist?  The baby's name is Rowan and that just happens to be the name of my favorite yarn company.

I'm going to make the booties the same as the ones I did for other friends, click here or, for Ravelry, click here.  This pair will be in moss green since that's one of Jen's favorite colors.

These should be a quick knit but I'm giving myself a very short deadline.  My daughter is going to visit the baby on Sunday morning so I'm going to try to finish them by then.  I'm not terribly optimistic, and it's okay as they can be delivered later, but I'll try.  It gives me a good excuse to sit and knit for a long period of time!

Off to cast on....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jigsaw Afghan Update

Time has flown by and it's time for me to get this afghan finished and in the mail.  I started it last October but Christmas knitting and life got in the way and I didn't complete the afghan as quickly as I'd hoped.  It's a baby gift and the little one has been here for a couple of months. 

I've finished 228 squares out of 247 and the border still remains.  The baby is a boy and I'm using less-than-typical colors for a baby but still staying within the range of colors that are considered masculine.  No pinks for this little lad.
Click on the picture to enlarge.
I'll explain more about the color choices once the afghan has been delivered.  I'm planning to do a dark green garter stitch border with mitered corners. I'm now working on the last two rows (left).  I've really been enjoying this project and will hate to see it end.  Maybe I'll make another Jigsaw afghan someday.

A reminder:  there is a Jigsaw Afghan knitalong on Ravelry.  Join us, won't you?