Thursday, December 22, 2011

Knitted Hotel Room!

I've never been to Brighton, but if someday I visit, this is the hotel room I'd love to stay in:

"Deisgned by Brighton local and artist Kate Jenkins, the room features her trademark knitted food – in a wooly fry-up – a knitted telephone, curtains and toothpaste and toothbrush, not to mention the more traditional knitted bedspread. In keeping with the rest of the hotel's rooms, Jenkins' room has its own name – the Do Knit Disturb room." - The Guardian

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Do You Use?

What do you use?

Madeleine at Knit Purls of Wisdom is hosting a blogfest!

I've shared photos of my two gorgeous yellow boxes before; that's where I corral most of my wool.

Everything else is less organized. There's a plastic bag for all my needles, crochet hooks, stitch markers (thanks Helen!), and so on. But current projects fall into any of five tote bags and my pattern books and photocopied or printed patterns are all over the place.

No one wants to see photos of the mess! I hope to finish the latest blanket soon, and I'll share photos of that. Instead, for now, let's look at Old Navy's Grandmabot:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Inspiration

Rose Larson was featured in the latest issue of Canadian Living.

"The Salvation Army's Christmas hampers from this past holiday season included more than 200 products from the industrious needle of one Grande Prairie senior.

Rose Larson contributed 100 toques, 50 pairs of socks, 45 pairs of mitts and 20 scarves to the Christmas drive held by the Salvation Army Food Bank. The 90-year-old has been knitting warm clothing for Grande Prairie's needy for the last three years, and works on knitting the items year round.

"That's my year's work, now I'm knitting for next year," said Larson. "It's something that I've done all my life. I've got arthritis so bad in my hand now, I can't do any other crafts, so I keep knitting."

She has been knitting since the age of twelve." - Toronto Sun

As for me... the blanket's coming along nicely. Hope to make a hat sometime soon, too. Helen gave me a virtual kick in the rear the other day...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Last month, Skeinz, a yarn store in Napier, New Zealand, put out a call for knitted jumpers for penguins affected by the most recent oil spill.

(image taken from Skeinz, and supplied to them by Charlie, who knit this jumper)

"Penguin Jumper in 8ply - must be 100% Wool Yarn - 1 pair 3.25mm, 1 pair of 3.75mm needles, 1 set of 3.25mm dpn’s or circular
Cast on 36 stitches using 3.25mm needles. K1, P1 to end of row. Repeat this row 7 times Change to 3.75mm needles and K2, P2 rib. Work 4 rows increasing at each end of every row (44 sts)
Continue until work measures 15cm
Decrease 1 st at each end of every row until 28 sts remain
Decrease 1 st. in middle of next row (27 sts)
Leave on needle
Make second side the same
Transfer the 54 sts from both pieces to 3 of the set of 4 3.25mm needles (18 sts on each) and work a round neck in K1 P1 rib for 10 rows
Cast off
Stitch up sides to decreasing to 27sts (opening for flipper). Add elastic to the top and bottom to prevent the penguins getting out of them. Top: 15cm of elastic; bottom 17cm (knots allowed). Flat elastic OK"

Actually, when laid out flat, they sort of look like hot water bottle covers...

This week, Skeinz posted a video of the first group of penguins heading home. So sweet.

And if you want a bit more background on cleaning penguins, and why the jumpers were so useful, Snopes has an article on this issue.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Around the World in 80 Stitches

Me want! No, not cookies, but this:

It's chock full of historical references, apparently, including an article about the "terrible knitters e' Dent" in nineteenth century England, and the evolution of the sock heel from sixteenth century European stockings.

There's also, ahem, a pattern for Scottish kilt hose by Audrey Manwaring-Spencer.

Yes, yes, I know, I don't need another kilt hose pattern. I've got one already! And I'm halfway through the kilt hose. No new inches since last time. I've also got - counts on fingers - six babies to knit for, plus a sock request and a blanket request.

What's my excuse? My knitting buddy Helen is far away!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Knitting in Literature

Everyone who's read Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities remembers Madame Defarge knitting.

But when I was trying to find knitting related quotes for the sidebar of this blog, besides the Madame, and Jamie and Claire - and later, Dorothy Parker - I was hard-pressed to find anything beyond throw away lines. Even about Miss Marple! She knits, of course, but steadily in the background, and there are only brief mentions here and there of her creating fluffy pieces for new born babies.

The latest reference I've seen is in Carole Anne Carr's Thin Time, a breathless adventure story, where the Three Sisters at the Well of Wyrd knit. With frog skins!

Now I've discovered a new-old author. In the last Knitting Daily newsletter, Kathleen Cubley wrote about the latest issue of Piecework, where Ileana Grams-Moog talks about knitting and reading, and mentioned Patricia Wentworth, "who was born in India in 1878 to English parents, began her writing career early and continued until her death in 1961. Though she won a prize for her first novel, which is set during the French Revolution, and wrote a number of other novels, she is best known for her mystery series featuring Miss Silver", a governess-turned-detective.

"Knitting is not that common in literature, and it usually serves as a sort of stage prop, like a style of dress, to indicate something about the character of the knitter: that she is old-fashioned, or industrious, or a harmless old lady. While Miss Silver is both old-fashioned and industrious, she is not a harmless old lady. She is aware that her knitting conveys an impression that helps her in her profession. She takes advantage of that, but her knitting is not a prop. She is a real knitter and takes her knitting wherever she goes. In a given book, we may watch her cast on a garment, finish it, assemble and trim it, and immediately cast on for the next one."

Apparently, there are 32 Miss Silver books, beginning with Grey Mask (1928) and ending with The Girl in the Cellar (1961). And Wentworth also wrote another 33 novels!

Oh dear! As if my To Be Read pile wasn't already spilling off the bookshelves...

Any other knitting authors out there? Do you refer to knitting or other needlework in your books? I've got brief mentions in my novel, Out of the Water, where Santiago is telling his daughter Rosa how he courted her mother, Magdalena:

"I ran all the way to Magdalena's, stopping only to straighten my clothes and hair. Her mother recalled my face from the night before. She permitted me to enter, to wait for her husband. They assumed I had come from my ship; I did not disabuse them of the notion. They sat, knitting, in the parlour, while I did my best to hide my bruised knuckles and charm them.

"Her mother – your grandmother – would not retire and leave us alone, of course. I cast looks at Magdalena. I contrived to touch her fingers when she showed me what she was knitting."

"But –"

"Yes, her father came home. Too soon for my liking. And that's when he realised what I had done, and why."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Knitting Book I Want

Thanks to the wonderfully informative newsletters I get from Wool-Tyme Kingston, I just found out about this:

On July 27th Richard Rutt, the Anglican Bishop of Leicester died. ... Monsignor Rutt was [the] author of the definitive work A History of Hand Knitting, and the contributor of his extensive library of historical knitting books to the University of Southampton's vast Knitting Collection.

University of Southampton, eh? Never mind the fact that I returned from vacation yesterday; I'd better start planning my next vacation!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Knitting on Planes, and Jamie Fraser

Recently, in anticipation of vacation, I've read quite a few posts about bringing knitting needles as cabin baggage on airplanes. Everyone has different advice about whether to carry them, display them, hide them beneath the standard-issue blanket, use pencils with thick erasers instead...

Each airline's website states varying rules. And of course, I happen to work for the one section of the United Nations that actually sets the international standards for this.

But there's no getting around the fact that a transatlantic flight is long. And sometimes - gasp! - I just can't read on the plane. Knitting would be the perfect past time, especially as, last time I counted, I've got five babies and at least three adults to knit for. And I haven't knit a stitch in at least two weeks.

What to do?

Robin's advice.

About's take on the matter.

Suggestions from a blogger with a great name: Damn, Knit and Blast It.

Air Canada says I'm allowed plastic needles, as long as I'm not flying to the UK. Well, there's that loophole scuppered.

EasyJet won't allow knitting needles of any kind. The airline calls them "blunt instruments" and puts them on par with hockey sticks, sabres and swords.

Guess it's a good thing Jamie Fraser will never travel forward in time.

(Gratuitous non-red-haired semi-inaccurate (well, it's not Ioan Gruffudd or Diana Gabaldon's choice Allen Scott-Douglas, now, is it?) Jamie image from Crazy Horse Woman. There's a good one here as well.)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Scallop-edged Blanket

Returning to a long-lost project is not as easy as I thought it would be. Mianly because I seem to have lost all original copies of the pattern I was using.

I think it's this scallop-edge baby blanket. But if it's not... I'm halfway through a row and I'll have to tink any mistakes. Dangerous enterprise - wish me luck!

Here's what it ought to look like:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lilian Jackson Braun

Cross-posted from my writing blog, The Girdle of Melian:

Qwilleran, Merlin James. Kao K'o Kung (Koko). Yum Yum.

I was all set to do a post on my knitting blog about the latest Lilian Jackson Braun book I've finished - The Cat Who Saw Stars - since it features an older Scottish gentleman in full regalia piping at the head of a parade that includes Qwilleran's oldest friend knitting a sock with four needles on the Friends of Wool float; and this coming Saturday is World Wide Knit in Public Day. But.

Found out this afternoon that Ms. Braun passed away last Saturday, at the age of 97, two weeks shy of her 98th birthday (condolences may be sent to the family here).

What's that you say? Never read a Cat Who... book? Well, I hadn't either, until I started writing my middle grade a few years ago. Every time I told someone there was a talking cat in it, they asked me if I'd read the Cat Who... books. So I finally picked up a couple at a second-hand bookstore. Well, Koko and Yum Yum are nothing like my Kedi - obviously those people had never read the books. If they had, they'd have been recommending them to me on their merits alone.

The Cat Who... series is part mystery, part social commentary, part ode to cats, part tribute to small town Northern America. There's a little bit of everything, in fact, and Qwilleran himself, the main journalist-crime solver-author-man about town is just the sort of well-rounded character you'd hope to meet someday. He'd sure treat you to a nice dinner out, at least.

Ah, heck. I'm not doing the flavour of the books justice at all. Why don't you start at the beginning, with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. Margot Kinberg had a post on The Cat Who Could Read Backwards a few months ago, which described it all a bit better. Also, Clarissa Draper included Lilian Jackson Braun in her list of 5 Most Influential American Woman Mystery Writers.

Here's the lady herself:

Ah yes, the knitting. But first, Christopher Smart, the 18th Century poet. Qwilleran quotes a few fragments in The Cat Who Saw Stars, on the subject of cats in general, and of Smart's cat Jeoffry, from Jubilate Agno:

"For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.

For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.

For he is of the tribe of Tiger.

For the sound of a cat is in the most useful preposition κατ' ευχην.

For the pleasantry of a cat at pranks is in the language ten thousand times over.

For the purring of a Cat is his τρυζει."

If anyone knows what the Greek words are, please tell me!

As for knitting... I've gone back to work on a scallop-edged blanket, but I seem to have lost the pattern since I last worked on this project. That's okay; all my spare moments are taken up with editing. A Round of Words in 80 Days: The past few days I've been drafting like mad, finishing up scenes that were missing. For a fourth draft, I seem to have quite a lot of blanks remaining!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Andy Capp and World Wide Knit in Public Day

Andy Capp! Well, not him, but his wife Flo: knitting at the pub! (Hi Helen! *waves*)

World Wide Knit in Public Day is coming up 11 June! Where will you be knitting?

(Also, if you're lucky enough to live near Kingston, Wool-Tyme Kingston is having a major ongoing sale!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011


First off, yes, I've finished the blanket!

Second, have you seen knitter Robin Hunter's Field Guide to Knitters? Part 3 includes Technique Knitters:

This type of Knitter rarely completes a whole project. Often they become fascinated with figuring out better ways to reach their goal of perfection but then move onto the next challenge before completing the item that provided their last one. ...

Habitat and range
Often isolated from other Knitters due to the complexity of their knitting, when they do step out to share their insights they have no knitted items to wear publicly."
I'm not that much of a technique knitter, but the description reminds me of myself, as us Multiple Project Knitters also rarely have knitted items we can wear publicly. And of course I've got piles of UFOs...

Third, sewing! Look at thus adorable turtle, made by my goddaughter's grandmother:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Blanket for My Goddaughter

No, I haven't actually finished a project. But it's been too long since I featured my goddaughter around here and she's not only grown, she has a baby sister!

I'd started this simple blanket a while ago, and I'm this (holds thumb and forefinger ten centimetres apart) close to completing it. But I couldn't resist draping it over the little one yesterday:

After all, it was her grandmother that gave me the wool!

And here's Big Sister, pretty as ever:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Knitting Paintings

Discovered a new knitting blog the other day, called simply, Knitting Adventures. Look how lovely these free patterns are!

Speaking of the Royal Wedding the other day (which I might be at a local pub at 5.30 am (!) to watch), if you've got photographs of England, send them to Pictures of England. We've got one on there from the time we visited Holmfirth.

I wanted to share an old painting featuring knitting (since I've been focused on Orientalist paintings of late) and when I Googled paintings with knitting just now, I came across this wonderful site - Knitting Links from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

I couldn't find a painting that looks like my character Rosa in Out of the Water (unlike the many paintings I find on The Orientalist Gallery) but this one comes close in tone:

The Knitting Girl by artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1869

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cowls and Scarves and Hats, Oh My!


eally, I`m working on the blanket, I swear!

Can't match my mother's speed, however. In one week (!) she knitted all of these items, plus three others not shown, for various charitable organizations:


Hats and Cowls:


Might just appropriate one of these items for myself...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

Look, I finally have photos!

And I've actually gotten further on this blanket since last week, though I still have many many inches to go.

The background to these photos is a family tree showing how Princes William and Harry are descendants, through their mother only, of Charles II. Natural descendants of course, since Charles did not have children with his queen.

As for Prince William... Thanks to the folks at Pond Parleys, I just found out about the book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding by author and knitter Fiona Goble.

Who wants to knit a corgi? Or Camilla?

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Progress with a capital P!
I actually got somewhere today on the easy peasy baby blanket I'm knitting.
Back with photos soon.
Meanwhile, here's a knitting LOL cat:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Not Knitting but Writing

Going, going, gone...

It has happened with my writing before, and looks like it's happening with my knitting recently - I've pretty much dropped it all. Unless an inch per week on the kilt hose counts?

Didn't think so, somehow.

I did start a baby blanket - no pattern whatsoever, straightforward knit every row - but have gotten only a few fingers in, or about three inches worth.

So what have I been up to? Mostly editing, lots of writing-related blogging. I entered a few contests here and there, and one of them was Jen's call for a scene showing a "disgusting/annoying moment that one of your characters experiences at the hands of his/her loved one". In lieu of a photo of knitting updates, then, here's the scene, from Out of the Water (please ignore the square brackets around the bits that haven't been written and the words that haven't been edited yet):

Baha's eyes blinked rapidly in his sleep. Fever dreams. He'd called out in his sleep only the night before, Ottoman words she did not understand, and she'd had to wake him, bathe his head, change the sheets, fan him – anything to try to cool his body. Doctor [X] had promised to obtain ice three days ago; perhaps today would be the day he finally did so.
She'd been washing his forehead again as he lay on the sofa. When Ayten came in bearing soup, she the cloth in the near empty bowl and swapped it for the tray.
"Do you think he might be able to finish it today?" the girl asked, looking up at her with large eyes.
"I'll try," she said, as if it was her fault her husband couldn't eat.
[Ayten leaves and she wakes him, i.e. tickles a sleeping dragon]
He put up a hand, blocking her as she tried to set the tray beside him.
"Do you want to hold it? It's hot," she cautioned.
"I don't want it at all. I'm weary of trying to force down food I can't taste." He turned his face away, into the cushion.
"Well, it'll help ease –"
"No, it won't." He struggled to sit up, tangled in the blankets. "There's nothing you can do, Rosa."
"At least I'm trying," she snapped, not moving to help him. "You never know what might do some good."
"There's nothing." He switched his glare from the blankets to her. "Don't you think if there was, I'd – I'm the one that's dying!"
"I'm the one that has to live without you!" Her hands shook. Hot soup scalded the tops of her feet. "Ow!"
She clattered the bowl onto the floor and stalked across the corridor to their room to change her stockings. There were no other clean ones; she hadn't yet [sent out] the week's laundry. She slammed the trunk lid shut and barged into Arcturus' room.
What a mess! She wasn't about to root through all that linen to try to sort clean from soiled.
Baha's and her room was just as [bad]; they didn't even fold up the bed anymore, as he usually spent most of the day in it. And still he refused to take any sort of treatment!
She dashed away tears with the back of her hand and tidied up the bedclothes.
What's the use? She thought, pounding the pillow into shape. Why should I keep trying if he won't? If he's going to –
She pitched face first into the pile, stifling her sobs in the folds of the sheets, smelling his [cinnamon] scent with every quaking breath.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Projects and Some UFOs

Some UFOs, indeed. I have more unfinished projects on at the moment than I have time for. A scarf, a blanket, the neverending kilt hose (I knit an inch up the legs yesterday!) and all of a sudden I have - counts on fingers - four babies to knit for! I'll be starting blankets for all of them, since that seems to be the item that's used the most, simplest to knit, easiest on the wallet as I can use up a lot of the wool I already have, and the one I'm most likely to finish.

Meanwhile, it's been snowy all over North America this winter, and my aunt down in Washington, D.C. made her first snowman the other day! That is, it's not the first time Washington has gotten snow, but it's her first winter on this side of the Atlantic. Anyhow, here she is modelling the lovely hat she knitted:

I get all inspired seeing other people's finished projects. Think I'll take my face out of the computer and go start a blanket!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Christmas Scarf

I have been editing my novel every day - updates on my writing blog - but am making more of an effort to make time for knitting.

I've got five days to finish this Christmas scarf, made on request for my sister, who liked the scarf I made two years ago. It's a straight pattern of six knit stitches and six purl stitches, alternated.

Here it was in the car on day one of our trip:

And here it was on the day we drove home:

I've added about an inch more since then. Thanks to Helen for talking up knitting in the car on road trips - it really works!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What's On Your Knitter's Life List?

Thanks to the lovely folks at Wool-Tyme Kingston, I heard about this book:

"The Knitter's Life List
To Do, To Know, To Explore, To Make
Gwen Steege
Knit a traditional gansey sweater with indigo yarn. Tour a spinning mill. Discover five ways to cast on for socks. Use steeking to make a tube into a cardigan. The Knitter's Life List is a richly illustrated compilation of more than 1000 experiences and adventures that knitters won't want to miss. You'll find unusual yarns to work with, classic techniques to master, time-honored patterns to try, innovative designers to know about, museums around the world to see, books to read, festivals and retreats to visit, and much more. Check off each item as you complete it, and move on to the next -- you'll find more than enough knitting adventures to fill a lifetime!"

Some knitting related experiences I'd like to have:

Visiting the Isle of Skye

Knitting a Fair Isle pattern

Visiting more sheep and alpaca farms

Learning to spin!

What's on your knitter's life list?

And now a word from from Harry Potter: "I was merely reading the Muggle magazines," said Dumbledore. "I do love knitting patterns."