Sunday, December 24, 2017

Advent Box - The Finale

The month has certainly passed by quickly and it's hard to believe that it is Christmas tomorrow.  All the presents have been wrapped and today I'll be making cranberry sauce and preparing the ingredients for stuffing.  Tomorrow I'm heading to my daughter's house to spend time with her, my son-in-law, 3 grandkids and my daughter's in-laws.  I'm looking forward to it.

I've opened the last envelope in the Advent Box.  To wrap up the 24 days is a recipe for Teresa Barone's Almond Biscotti along with a nice story about where the recipe came from.  I'll definitely be giving this recipe a try.

Excuse the reflected light on the recipe card.
I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.  I'll share with you a gorgeous picture from my good friend and someone I think of as a sister, Bonnie.  I hope that you'll come back and visit Rhythm of the Needles again on January 1st.  I'm going to relax and take a bit of a break from blogging for the coming week. I may even finish a knitting project or two.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Coal for my Stocking and a Kep

The elves at River City Yarns must think that I've been naughty this year as I found a bag of coal in the Advent Box today.  Of course, if the coal is actually cinnamon hard candy, I can't say that I mind.

I have finally finished a project that I started months ago.  Actually, the knitting was completed many months ago and I've only just attached the pompom.  I've combined a very traditional fair isle pattern with a modern furry pompom.  I couldn't resist it, or the color.

The Kep pattern comes from the island of Fair Isle.  It was designed by a local knitter, Anne Sinclair, and offered as a knitalong project for members of the Facebook group "The Fair Isle Fisherman's Kep" only.  You have to ask to join the group, but once you do you'll see some beautiful examples of fair isle knitting.  The proceeds from the sale of the pattern go to help support the George Waterston Memorial Museum on Fair Isle.

It impresses me that an island with only about 55 inhabitants has a museum.  To me, it shows how proud they are of their home and culture.

Here is my Fishermen's Kep.  It was a very good knitting experience.  The hardest part was trying to decide what colors to use.  Traditionally, five are used.  I decided to make the hat to go with a pair of mittens I made last year, adding two extra colors.


Pattern:  Fishermen's Kep by Anne Sinclair

Needles:  US #2 / 2.75 mm 
and US #2-1/2 / 3.0 mm

Size:  One size

Yarn:  All Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight
Purchased at the Jamieson & Smith shop in Lerwick, Shetland

Gray #27
Blue / Green Mix #FC34MIX
White #1A
Fuschia #43
Dark Blue #FC41

Ravelry link:  Fishermen's Kep

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fair Isle Sweaters - Start to Finish

I'm getting down to the last of the Advent Box surprises.  The month has passed by quickly.  Today I found a little tin of "anywhere BALM", just the right size to pop into my knitting bag.

It's no secret among those who know me that I'm more than a little enamored with everything to do with knitting in Shetland.  I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed two wonderful visits to this fabulous place.  It's not just the knitting that draws me in, but the people and scenery, too.  I just like it all so much.

I have a LOT of Shetland wool - and some Shetland-type wool, such as that from Harrisville Designs.  Some of the wool I bought myself.  Most of it, however, was given to me by very, very generous friends:  P, M, J and P.  Thank you ladies.  I've have many projects that I want to make and look forward to jumping right in after the new year. 

I saw this short video about sweaters from Fair Isle, one of the Shetland Islands.  I found it to be very interesting.  By the way, did you know that the island of Fair Isle has a population of only about 55. 
I'll have a little more about Fair Isle in my next  post and well as a finished object.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

BAA Humbug

Today there was a very nice surprise in the Advent Box.  A long time ago I downloaded a pattern for the Bluebird of Happiness.  I intended to make it for my Christmas tree.  Well, other projects came along and it was forgotten.  Today, in the box, was a link to the pattern and enough yarn to make 3 birds.  I'll have a bluebird or two or three on my Christmas tree next year.

And speaking of surprises....

If you want to buy clothes, do you think of going to Bed, Bath & Beyond?  Me neither.  I stopped in last night after work and there, by the door, were two types of sweaters.  One had an alpaca on the front, but I was drawn to the BAA Humbug Sheep design.  There was only one left in my size, so I claimed it/him/her!  Poor sheep - it needed a good home.

I like ugly Christmas sweaters.  I think that they are fun, and we can use all the fun we can get these days.  I don't care if the sweater is made of 100% acrylic.  This is not the time to be a yarn snob!  I like the sheep's red shoes and the orange pompom on his hat.

Guess what I'm wearing to work today?  I think that the sheep needs a name.

And reminder about the Stash Jar contest.  Check out the post from December 14th.

Happy First Day of Winter - and shortest day of the year.  Winter has definitely come to the Calgary area and it's going to be a white Christmas for sure.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


I don't know what it is about gnomes, but I like them a lot.   They are just so darned cute.  I've knitted one in the past, with a more planned for sometime in the not-too-distant future.  Now, on opening today's Advent Box, I can see that I'll be needle felting a pair of gnomes.  I've done a bit of needle felting in the past, but not much.  I'm looking forward to this project, although I won't get to it for a while.  The kit has everything I'll need:  the yarn, needle and a foam pad.  I just hope that mine will turn out as good as the ones in the pattern photo.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Reindeer Noses

This is a first.  I've never had reindeer noses before, but that's what is in the Advent Box today.  They look yummy!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Project Bag

The surprise in the Advent Box for today is something that I know that will get a lot of use.  It's a nylon project bag, big enough for a couple of balls of yarn.  Inside there are two pockets.  There is a small strap on top so you can carry the bag on your wrist.  To keep you knitting project securely inside, the bag has a draw-string closure.  I like the fact that the bottom expands to have a flat bottom, giving more space. 

Also in today's gift box was a pattern for a cute elf beanie. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dying to Dye

This looks like fun.  There is a small gradient dye kit in today's Advent Box.

I've been interested in dyeing for some time.  I've taken a couple of classes, bought undyed yarn and the dyes as well as rescuing an old microwave that was destined for the garbage to use only for dyeing.  I've read many books, everything I could find at the library.  What I haven't done is take the leap into dyeing on my own.

With this kit, I'm sure that I will.  Not only is this a dyeing kit, but it's a gradient dyeing kit.  I'm looking forward to giving it a try in the new year.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Tree

There is a little kit in today's Advent Box - the yarn, instructions and a little tea light to make a Christmas tree.

I'm afraid that I won't be making this tree. It requires starch that you can buy or make, but once the tree is completed it is fragile.  It would be lovely for this Christmas, but I just know it will get squashed in the box after Christmas and not look so good for next year.

Not to worry, though.  The yarn will be used for something else and I'm already thinking about uses for the little plastic tea light. 

About a week ago there was small kit to make a little knitted Christmas tree and I wondered if the tree needed decorating.  I think that it does and I found these Christmas lights in Fabricland.  The length of the light, not including the black end, is about a half inch. 

I can't talk about what's on my needles at the moment as it's something for Christmas and I don't want to spoil the surprise.  I wonder how many others are knitting secret Christmas items.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Willow 'n Wool

Today's Advent Box gift is something very useful:  3 wool needles in a handy little plastic case.  This is going directly into my knitting bag.  I like that the case is in one of my favorite colors.

I moved to Airdrie, Alberta from Calgary at the end of August.  It wasn't a big move, only a few miles.  Airdrie is a smaller city and my first impression is how community oriented this place is.  Pretty much all the amenities that you may want or need are right here - except a yarn shop.  I didn't mind too much as Calgary is so close and I really (REALLY) don't need any more yarn.

However, about 3 weeks ago a yarn shop opened in Airdrie.  While I don't need anything, it's nice to know that there is a shop about 5 minutes away from home.  It's called Willow 'n Wool.  I stopped in yesterday and spent a good bit of time talking with the lovely owner, Barb.  She told me that it is a family-run business and what the various family members do in the shop, e.g. her daughter makes the pottery bowls, mugs, etc. which are very nice. 

There is a good variety of yarn - and a nice selection of Canadian brands:  Ancient Arts (one of my favorites), Creek Garden, and Polka Dot Creek among them.  Sweet Georgia is coming soon.  We talked about knitting trends, knitting patterns, furniture for the store, etc.  I totally forgot to take pictures inside the shop.  I'm very glad that Willow 'n Wool has come to town.

By the way, if you watch the Hometown Hockey series on TV, it's coming from Airdrie this weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


In the bag for December 14th in the Advent Box was a River City Yarns magnet.  I've certainly been adding to my stash this month!  😊

And speaking of stash, how would you like to win a Stash jar?  It's a Word Jar from Tumbleweed Pottery.  I use mine as a bank and I put in any loose change, knowing that the money will likely be destined to buy something knitting-related.  But, you could use for anything:  bits of yarn leftover from a project, notions, as a yarn bowl. The possibilities are endless.  

All you have to do to be entered in the contest is leave a comment and tell me what you'd use a Stash Jar for, knitting-related or not.  I'll announce the winner, chosen at random, in a post on January 1st.  What a nice way to start the new year - and, yes, I'll mail it wherever the winner lives, any country. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Today's little Advent Box contained a ball of RCY's Eden yarn and a download code for boot toppers.  While I know I won't wear boot toppers, nice as they are, I won't complain at all about adding some Eden yarn to my stash.  The content is 81% Merino, 9% Cashmere and 10% Nylon.  I think that it's a DK weight and at this time of year, green yarn is always good to have.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I Think I Can.... I KNOW I Can!

The surprise in the Advent Box today is a very pretty knitting progress keeper.  It from Red Door Designer Gems.  I don't believe they have a website, at least I couldn't find one.  This marks the halfway point for the Advent Box.  I'm curious about what I'm going to find next time.

Have you ever worked on a project that makes you wonder if you even know how to knit?  I've run into just such a project.

                  (c) Kathy Lewinski
When I saw the Santa Pillow on Ravelry I knew right away that I had to make it.  I liked the clean design and the clever way that the beards and the hats mirrored each other.  It seemed like straightforward stranded knitting, a technique I enjoy.

Most of the yarn in my stash is fingering weight, so I went online to place an order for the required worsted weight yarn.  The pattern suggested yarn from Knit Picks, but it was out of stock.  Maybe a lot of pillow knitters out there?  Instead, I decided to use Cascade 220 Superwash as I know that the quality of the yarn to be good. I figured that, if I stuck with this project, I just might have the pillow finished in time for Christmas and that it would look nice on my white leather couch.

The knitting gods had other ideas and this project started kicking my butt:

1.  I was good and did a gauge swatch which told me that I needed to go down a needle size, from 4.0mm to 3.75mm.

2.  I cast on the 216 stitches and joined the knitting to work in the round, taking care not to twist the stitches.  I worked all across the round, doing the 12 stitch repeats.  But...when I got to the end of the round I had one stitch left over.  The repeat for the first round is 11 red, 1 white stitch.  It turns out that I can't count to 11.  In the third of the 18 repeats, I had done 10 red, 1 white.  Since it was the first round I just ripped out the entire piece and started again.

3.  I was now moving ahead, up to round 8, but I was bothered by the fact that, where I was catching the red stitches behind the white beard, they were showing.  I didn't like the little bits of red.  I hadn't put the catches all in the same place, so it looked like speckles over the beard.  The white stitches behind the red hat were fine.  Rip, rip, rip.  Start again.

3.  This time I didn't catch the stitches behind and had very long floats - over 11 stitches in some rounds.  This will probably be okay since the floats will be on the inside of a pillow cover and not in a sweater.  However, my stitches were not as even as I wanted and I can be kind of particular.  It was a case of somewhat slippery yarn and slippery metal Addi needles.  I didn't want to wait and see if blocking would improve the look.  Rip - start yet again.

4.  I ordered a set of wooden Dreamz needles and started again and they were working out very well.  My stitches were even, as I wanted, and the knitting was much more comfortable.  At the end of the 4th round I took a look at my piece and realized that I'd dropped a stitch earlier in the round...all the way to the cast on.  Oh no, rip again.

5.  I have the pillow on my needles again and I'm on round 3.  So far, so good.  I won't have this project done for Christmas this year.  I know that, but it's okay.  My new goal is to have it finished for Christmas 2018.  I'm okay with that.  I will have a finished pillow that I'm happy with, no matter how many times I have to reknit.  I really do know how to knit.  Really.  This project has just been a test of my patience and I will win!!

Monday, December 11, 2017


This is a sweet start to Monday with this homemade candy in the Advent Box today.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Goal for 2018

Today's package in the Advent Box was a set of cable needles, useful tools.

I might end up using them before long as I have declared, for myself, that the coming year is:

My plan for the new year is to focus mainly on sweaters.  I'm curious to see how many I can complete before December 31, 2018.  Some of these sweaters have already been started and I'm looking forward to finishing and wearing them.  My key word for the year is COMPLETION.  I'd like to have 4 new sweaters by year's end and it should be do-able since I'll be retired.  But, I'm hoping for more than 4.

First up:  The Hairst Yoke Cardigan.  It was originally started in 2016 but my gauge was off so I restarted in July 2017.  One sleeve (my new gauge swatch) is done.  I bought the main color, a lovely cobalt blue (#18) at Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick, Shetland, in September 2015.

I haven't decided on the colors for the yoke yet.  I have a great range of Shetland wool in my stash to choose from, thanks to what I had and the generosity of some friends (P, M, J and P - thanks ladies).  I'm open to suggestions.  After taking the fair isle workshop with Janine Bajus last spring, I think I must swatch to see what colors go well together.  It's not enough to put them side-by-side in the balls.  You have to see how the colors interact with each other.  Speed swatching is your friend!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Snow Queen Wristlets

December 9th has brought another little kit, the Snow Queen Wristlets.  I don't know if I'll ever make them (the queue is so long), but if not, the yarn will go into my stash and used for another project.  The yarn is beautiful.  It's River City Yarns' house brand - about 25 grams of Adam & Eve:  81% superwash merino, 9% cashmere and 10% nylon.  I've used Adam & Eve before and it's wonderful - highly recommended.

Friday, December 8, 2017

I Got Socks For Christmas

For December 8th the elves at River City have a little project for crocheters.  I'm not one, but it's a chance to get out my thinking cap and come up with another use for the yarn and angel form.  The pattern is "Angel-ah". 

I decided that I needed a pair of Christmas socks and had this yarn in my stash.   

It turns out that "Twist" isn't just the name of this colorway, it's also the way the yarn knits up in a sock.  For the most part it twisted around the leg of the sock, similar to the way stripes wrap around a barber pole - more on one sock than the other.  The feet turned out quite differently from each other.  It makes the socks more interesting. In order to emphasize the twist, I worked a twisted rib pattern on the legs.

and on the other side, quite different:


Pattern:  Cast on 60 sts, 2 x 2 ribbing,
twisted rib stitch leg, short row heel, stocking stitch foot, shaped toe.

Needles:  US #0 / 2.0 mm

Size:  Medium

Color:  Peppermint Twist
Fusion base:  100% Superwash Merino

Ravelry link:  Peppermint Twist Socks

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Short but Sweet Blog Post

The elves at River City Yarns must be mind readers.  How did they know about my sweet tooth?  And, how did they know that I'm particularly fond of Jelly Belly candies?  I was lucky enough to visit the factory in Fairfield, California last March.  These candies won't still be around on the 25th!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Notebook, A Tree and a Finished Sweater

Today's surprise was a handy little notebook, 5.5" x 3.5" and the smallest highlighter I've ever seen, 2.25" - perfect for tucking into a knitting bag.  On the cover is the quote, "A lady never discusses the size of her yarn stash".  I guess that my friends and I are not ladies as our stashes are often a topic of conversation!!

Yesterday's box contained the pattern and yarn to make Christmas trees.  Last night I completed the first one.  The pattern was easy and fun and the tree turned out just the way it was supposed to.  I'm very pleased.  Now, however, I'm wondering if the tree needs some decorations.  It's looking a little bare. I'll give that some thought.  The second tree, made with the eyelash yarn, is on the needles.

My goodness, I'm more behind in reporting FOs (finished objects) that I'd realized - I'd missed a sweater.  Back on May 13th I talked about struggling with the colors for a striped sweater that I was making.  The yarn came from the stash of a dear friend who had passed away.  I really wanted to make the sweater using only her yarn, but had to give in and order one skein to finish.  I knitted and ripped and knitted again, trying to make the most pleasing striping sequence.  I tried adding in other colors, but adding some beige, greens, grays or blues, etc.. just didn't work.

I'm pleased with the end result.  The sweater fits well and gets plenty of use.  I think that P. would have been pleased.  She was a huge fan of Plucky Yarns.  I think of her when I wear it.


Pattern:  I called this "A Very Plucky Pullover"
I adapted the pattern A Mermaid Darkly by Yelena M. Dasher

US #3 / 3.25 mm

Yarn:  1 skein of each 
The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering - Color Rye 
(this is additional skein that I bought to finish the sweater)
The Plucky Knitter SNUG Fingering - Colors: Rye, Noisette and Brulee

Ravelry project link:  
A Very Plucky Pullover

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jolly Juniper Trees

Around this time every year I want to knit Christmas things:  elves, ornaments, decorations, etc.  This morning's Advent Box contains a knitting project - just the kind of thing that I'm in the mood to make.  If I get a chance, I may make a tree today!

The green yarn is some of River City Yarns' house brand:  Epic, an aran weight wool.  The trees should be quite dense as the pattern calls for 3.75 mm/ US #5 needles. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Maple Tea and A Finished Hat

Today's Advent Box surprise goes hand in hand with yesterday's silicone tea bag.  It's Maple Tea from River City Yarns.  How very unique and very Canadian.  The ingredients are:  black tea, brittle (sugar, hazelnut), maple syrup, flavour.  It sounds like it'll be sweet, which is fine by me.  One of the reasons I'll normally only have one cup a tea in a day is because I like it sweet.  I can't wait to try this Maple Tea.

Click on the photo to enlarge
(c) Skacel
I'm continuing to play catch-up with recording my finished projects - and they aren't all socks!  This time it's a hat that I made for my granddaughter, Alyssa, for her second birthday on October 15th.  I found a skein of amazing yarn called Abracadabra by HiKoo.  What's amazing about it is that it appears to be white when you are inside, but when you go outside in the sun the color changes to pink very quickly. 

There was just enough yarn for the hat - about a yard left over.  I followed an excellent pattern called Whorl. It's well-written, a quick and easy pattern with just enough interest to keep it from being boring.  I expect that I'll make another Whorl hat someday.

Yarn contents:  35% Superwash Merino, 50% Polypropylene and 15% Nylon.  It's a DK weight, 100 yards in the 50 gram skein.

The yarn is not terribly soft, feels rather plastic-y.  I expect that's down to the polypropylene content, but it's not unpleasant.  The yarn is now discontinued and I was glad that there was enough yarn for the hat and that I didn't run out.

To finish off the hat I added a furry pompom that came from The Loopy Ewe in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Alyssa loves anything soft and her hands went immediately to the pompom:

Later, out on the playground, her hat was pink:

(c) Jessica Montague
The only difficulty I had was sewing on the pompom.  It very dense at the core and it was hard to get a needle through.  Next time, I'm looking for my thimble as I have another pompom for another hat (for me) yet to do.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Tea For Me

Today's package in the River City Yarns Advent Box is not directly knit-related.  It's something that I'd heard about and thought I would buy if I saw it in a store somewhere.

It's a reusable silicone tea bag - an infuser.  To use, remove the black cover on the bottom and fill with loose tea.  Reseal, then use like you would a regular tea bag.  That's the River City Yarns' logo on the end of the 'string'.

I'm anxious to see how well it works.  Normally I drink what I call "plain old tea", but every once in a while I'm curious about a flavored tea which often comes packaged as a loose tea.  I'm hoping that there is no plastic taste infused into the tea, and I'm guessing that there won't be any.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In the Little December 2nd Package

The December 2nd surprise in the Advent Box was in a very small brown bag.  I couldn't imagine what I was going to find.

Inside were two little tags with the word "H♥NDMADE" on each of them.  They are very cute, made with a heavy fabric, perhaps a heavy demin or canvas?  I've never seen these tags anywhere before.  I think I may sew each of them onto a couple of afghans that I'm making.

I'll be catching up on finished objects for a little while - mostly, but not all, socks.  Next up, socks using the exclusive monthly colorway from The Loopy Ewe.


Pattern:  Cast on 60 sts, 2 x 2 ribbing,
stocking stitch leg, short row heel, stocking stitch foot, shaped toe.
(My usual "recipe")

Needles:  US #0 / 2.0 mm

Size:  Medium

Color exclusive to The Loopy Ewe:
"This Old Barn"

Each month The Loopy Ewe offers an exclusive colorway.  This one is from November, 2016.

Ravelry link:  This Old Barn

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent Box

It's hard to believe that December is here now and that Christmas is only a few weeks away.  It sneaks up on me every year without fail.  Who doesn't love an Advent countdown to the 25th?  How many of you have a chocolate Advent calendar that you're starting today?

River City Yarns in Edmonton, Alberta produced an Advent Box for knitters.  What a great idea.  They sold out very quickly.  I picked mine up when I was in Edmonton for the Roger Waters concert.  More on that in another post.

Today I took the box off the shelf and removed the brown paper wrapped around it to see this festive box:

Click on the picture to enlarge
I realized when I took the picture that the box is actually upside down, but the top looks the same, so I didn't take a second photo.  I cut the tape and opened the box to see this inside:

There is card with an introduction to the Advent Box, also little boxes, paper bags and cloth drawstring bags.  Each has been stamped with "Don't open till .... and the date".  The elves at River City have hand picked and hand packed each day's gift.

The theme this year is "O Tannenbaum", from a German folk song.  Loving Germany as I do, I'm now even more eager to see what inside each day and see if it ties in with the theme.

So, today, I can open the first box.  Ta-dahhhh!!   Wow....this is cool and what a great way to start the month.  Inside were 3 mini skeins of their exclusive sock yarn called Hat Trick as well as a pattern to make Mini Stockings.  These will make adorable ornaments for the tree, even if they don't represent my team, the Colorado Avalanche.  It's hockey, it's knitting, it's all good and I'm really liking the first gift.  Which reminds, me.  I have a large skein in the Avalanche colorway in my stash.  After I make myself a pair of socks, or whatever, I can make an additional Mini Stocking later on.

I don't know if everyone gets the same hockey teams represented by the minis.  I think that mine are, from left to right:  Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I wonder what's coming for December 2nd.  Check back again if you'd like to know, too.