Friday, December 25, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

Happy First Day of Winter and the shortest day of the year, starting at 9:49 PM, mountain time.

It'll take a while, but I'm glad that the days will start getting a bit longer again as driving to and from work in the dark is not my cup of tea.  It's d*mn cold here in Calgary.  Could I ask a favor of those of you in warmer climates?  Send us some heat!  Thank you.  :-)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Scotland - Part 2

From Dundee we travelled to Fife, passing the famous golfing destination of St. Andrew's, and listened to a talk and had a workshop with designer, Di Gilpin.  Some local knitters joined us and it was delightful to visit with them and see some of the amazing things that they were knitting.  Di talked about her design inspirations, the process, yarn and the business of designing, as well as answering all of our questions.

Di Gilpin (left) and local knitter

As someone who loves intarsia, I was drawn to this piece that one of the ladies was knitting.  It was even more impressive in person than it is in these photos.

The inside was neatly finished and looked as good as the outside.  This is always a goal of mine.

The pattern is "Mondrian -style Blanket" from the Scottish Island Knits book.  (Ravelry links)

Later we went to Di's studio, a restored stone bothy.

  1.                    (in Scotland) a small hut or cottage.

It was very cozy and I'm sure that many of us could picture ourselves sitting and knitting on any given day among all of the sample garments and yarn.  We did knit out in her courtyard for a while.

Di has her own line of yarn.  Her cashmere was lovely but I was taken more with "Lalland", 100% Scottish Lambswool.  It's close to a sportweight.  I bought a sweaters-worth of two colors:  ruby red and storm petrel. 
I haven't yet decided what I'll make.

Both yarn pictures - (c) Di Gilpin
From her website

I spotted a ball of yarn that was something I'd never seen, or expected to see.  It wasn't for sale.  John and Yoko yarn?  Who knew?

As if that wasn't enough yarn-y goodness for one day, we decided that we needed to visit a yarn shop when we returned to Dundee for the night.  The shop "fluph" was small but so welcoming and stayed open past closing time to accommodate our group of enthusiastic knitters. I found a skein of yarn from a local dyer for my Travel Afghan (more on that in a later post).  

Next stop.... a fabulous day with a kilt maker, and then on to Shetland.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mini-Mitten #6

Another mitten for the Mini-Mitten Garland is completed and this one gave me some problems.  Stranding a dark color, in this case the red, under a light color means that some of the dark shade will show through, particularly where the strands are caught.  Mine was showing much more than I was comfortable with, so I needed to fix it as best as I could.  I had hoped that blocking would help, but it wasn't enough.

I was thinking about solutions --

- Skip this mitten and create a new one of my own: I liked the design and wanted to stay with the patterns of the knitalong, so this was a "no".

- Redo the mitten in a dark color as the background:  a good solution, but a white mitten would add some brightness to the collection.  I wanted to stick with the white background if at all possible.

- Redo the angel section, working it in intarsia in the round:  I've never learned intarsia in the round (it's definitely on my must-learn list) and I wanted to keep going with this project.  If I set it aside for a while as I learned a new technique I would run the danger of not picking it up again for many months.

- Redo the angel section, leaving the side open and working back and forth:  this is what I was planning to do until someone on Ravelry said something that made a lot of sense - and it was a simple solution.  She said, "Why catch your strands?  It's not like anyone is going to wear this mitten."  Well, yeah, that's true, and that's what I did.

I got out my scissors and cut off the angel section, picked up the live stitches and reknit.  There is no catching of strands on the red/white section.  You don't want to look inside the mitten, however.  I tend to be a little particular on making the inside of a project as neat as the outside, but I need to get over it in this case.  I'm just not looking inside!

Now I've started Mitten #7 and moving right along.  There are no long floats on this one, and the colors are dark anyway.  After this one I'll have just 17 to complete before December 1st, 2016.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Visiting Lithuania

I love to knit and I love to travel, that's no secret, but I'm not able to go everywhere.  Thank goodness for those who write books so that I can visit go vicariously through them.  This time, I'm in Eastern Europe in the country of Lithuania thanks to Donna Druchunas and June Hall.

The book is called Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions.  Donna is a friend and when she asked me to do some test knitting, I was happy to be able to do it.  I was thrilled to see my name on the Acknowledgments page! Lithuania is near and dear to Donna's heart and she has talked in the past about her trips.  It's the home of her great-grandparents and that special bond is obvious as your read through the book.  You feel like you are there with her.  

It was a good mail day when this arrived and I saw the completed book.
The book starts out with an introduction, telling why it was written, and then goes on to the country itself.  I was learning about the culture and the people as well as the knitting and I could imagine myself in the many pictures.  

From there the book educates you about the wool and how it's processed.  I found this particularly interesting, having recently visited the Jamieson & Smith mill in Shetland, Scotland - and then goes on to the knitting is various cities in Lithuania.

The last half of the 223-page is full of knitting patterns for mittens and gloves, socks and wrist warmers.  There is something for every knitter:  texture, beading, stranding, lace.  The patterns are beautiful.  

By the way... Donna has also created a DVD about Lithuanian sock knitting.  

Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is a very welcome addition to my knitting library. Thanks, Donna and June, for the trip with you to Lithuania.   

Where are we going next?