In times like these…knit to stay grounded

Apparently there are lots of voters who disagree with me.  The election of Boris this week brought that home pretty forcefully.  In my last post, I mentioned that I had paused knitting for a few weeks and the world still revolved around the sun.  However, between Trump and BoJo, I for one definitely need something to help keep me grounded.  I guess that means I should pick up my knitting again.  I know from long experience that it helps.

On the positive side, Greta won Person of the Year at Time Magazine, and my kids are home for Christmas.  Maybe young people will save the world.  Young people and knitting to the rescue!

I have two things on the needles at the moment.  I have made some progress on my neutral tones Cool Boots shawl since I last posted it here:


It is definitely not as vibrant and cool as the original, and I am not convinced that neutrals really suit me.  On the other hand, the yarn is absolutely scrumptious, soft and silky and fantastic to the touch.  It is Blue Sky Metalico, a sportweight 50% alpaca 50% silk blend.  It’s a bit on the costly side, but it’s lovely to knit with.

I have also made a bit of progress on Emma’s big cabled sweater.  I knitted the sleeves back in September and then put it away, while I spent time travelling and not knitting, but I have now pulled it out again and started on the front:


This one shouldn’t take long because it’s knit with big needles, but I do find big needles hard on my hands, so I can’t just power through.

I have a big work project due in mid-January and realistically that will take up a lot of my knitting time.  In the meantime, I will dream of moving to Scandinavia.

Not knitting….and yet, the earth continues to revolve around the sun

I have done virtually no knitting for a month.  I have been busy, sure.  But mostly, I have just not been filled with a burning desire to pull my knitting out.  In my spare time, I have wanted to sit and chat with old friends and family, to relax by a fire on a cold evening, to go for a walk, or cuddle up with a book.  I have not felt the need to multi-task. I have hardly spent a minute on Ravelry (gasp!) or reading knitting blogs.  New patterns have been released in that time, undoubtedly, and I haven’t seen them.  The world keeps turning.  I continue to breathe in and breathe out.

We have been wearing a lot of hand knitted items, because it has been very cold:


However, despite carefully packing travel knitting and carrying it with me across the ocean and around North America, I knitted all of six rows while I was gone, and none since I’ve been back.

And life goes on.

A jumper is for life not just for Christmas

There is a rather alarming article in the Guardian today about the waste created by the Christmas Jumper.  The article, entitled “Christmas jumpers add to plastic pollution crisis, says charity” points out that “12m jumpers are set to be snapped up this year, despite 65m already languishing in UK wardrobes.”

I don’t know how much this tradition carries over into other countries, but Britains are in love with the novelty Christmas jumper.  (For those unfamiliar with the term, a “jumper” is what Americans would call a “sweater”.)  At least a third of people under 35 will buy a new novelty Christmas jumper every year, and will likely wear it only once.  We even have a Christmas Jumper Day – Friday December 13th this year – which supports the charity Save the Children.  Millions of people will search for the newest and silliest novelty jumper to wear on that day.

The article cites research by the environmental charity Hubbub, that 95% of these garments are made wholly or partly from plastic.  A full 44% were made entirely from acrylic.  The article notes a recent study that found “that acrylic was responsible for releasing nearly 730,000 microfibres per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric and nearly 1.5 times as many as pure polyester.”

The message to consumers from Sarah Divall of Hubbub:

“We don’t want to stop people dressing up and having a great time at Christmas but there are so many ways to do this without buying new. Fast fashion is a major threat to the natural world and Christmas jumpers are problematic as so many contain plastic. We’d urge people to swap, buy secondhand or rewear, and remember a jumper is for life not just for Christmas.”

I would suggest an additional way to save the environment: knit your own Christmas jumper, and then wear it many times.  Keep it forever!  I also don’t see why Christmas jumpers are supposed to be “ugly”.  Perhaps if you had a beautiful Christmas jumper, you might wear it more than once!  I picked out some lovely Christmas sweater ideas in this post two year ago. Here are a few more:

Tidings by Vicky Sedgwick:


© Rowan Yarns, 2015

Branches & Buds Pullover by Carrie Bostick Hoge:

buds and branches

© Making / Carrie Bostick Hoge

Thorvald by Arne & Carlos:


© 2019 MEZ Crafts UK Ltd.

Vinterskov by Karie Westermann:


© Karie Westermann

Remember, a jumper is for life!

Ugly sweater cookie cutters

I saw this in a cooking store the other day and it really made me laugh (and not for the intended reason, I suspect).


This is a cookie cutter kit.  Apparently, the ugly bit comes from how you decorate the cookies.  The kit contains four pieces, two of which are EXACTLY THE SAME.  (And another with a barely noticeable neckline variation.)  I think this is hilarious.  And it raises interesting questions, like: Why is the vest there?  And why not three vests as well?  And furthermore, how do you parse this?


Emma said: “They should have made one with four arms, and another where one arm was twice as long as the other!”  Emma, there is a career in marketing in your future!

Sparkling in the Southwest

Doug and I spent last week in Tucson.  My 85-year-old step-father, Stuart, was celebrating a second bar mitzvah, 72 years after the first one.  It was moving and fun and gave me a chance to see my folks and step-siblings and their families.  We also got to visit old haunts (Doug and I lived in Tucson in the late 1980s) and to see many old friends.  Doug taught a guest lecture at the U of A.  We communed with the desert scenery, and soaked up some sunshine.  We ate some really great Mexican food.  I knitted for a total of about 15 minutes in 10 days.  Sigh.  But I did manage to take a few photos of my latest cardigan.


Despite having a few issues, mainly me worrying about the fit and making a lot of stupid mistakes with the edging, the cardigan turned out perfectly.


The pattern is Sparkling by Sus Gepard.  I have blogged about it quite a bit (you can see the posts, in reverse order, here). I knitted it exactly to instructions.  The only modifications being that I picked up considerably more stitches around the front edging than the pattern asked for.


I bought the yarn and pattern last January in Copenhagen and then waited some time before casting on.  The stitch pattern is intuitive and quick and the cardigan itself knits up easily.  I fretted quite a bit about the slope of the armhole decreases, but they turned out just right.  I’m not sure why that is; perhaps its been a while since I knit a sweater in pieces?



Here are a few photos from our visit. The Mission at San Xavier del Bac:





The bar mitzvah boy:


photo by Ben Weissman

My step-sisters, Jocelyn and Alison, and me:


photo by Ben Weissman






My Mom and me:


A hummingbird at the Desert Museum:



Sunset through the windshield, with the mountains in the background:


Bisbee Royale:


Good times, great food;  Doug, Marylou, Kelly, and Stuart at Elvira’s in Tubac.  This is seriously good Mexican food.  Go there if you have the chance.


We went from Tucson to Vancouver, where it is considerably colder.  I have switched from tee shirts to down coat, hat, cowl, and gloves.  I’ll post again when we are back home.


Today, I wore my new cardigan for the first time.  I finished sewing in the buttons just yesterday.  I have not even had a chance to photograph it yet.  And this happened:


I am so mad!

Maybe this cardigan is jinxed.

I have been using a backpack since I sprained my ankle, at first because of the cane, and then because it balanced the weight.  I was pulling the backpack up over my shoulders and the buckle caught on the back of the cardigan.  Argh!

This is remarkably similar to another recent sweater disaster, this time to my Acer cardigan:


In this case, I was rushing to an important meeting and trying to juggle a heavy briefcase and a shoulder bag.  The sweater got caught on the straps of my bag and I gave it a bit of a tug to free it, and rip!  Even worse, I didn’t notice it until after the meeting.

Doug says that the solution is for me to have a besotted young man who wants to carry my books for me.  I think this is unlikely.

I am feeling a bit down.  Perhaps a glass of wine and The Good Place will help?

Warm hands, warm heart

This time every year I write a post to showcase patterns for mittens, mitts, and gloves.  This weekend it has been cold and blustery and definitely feels like winter is in the air.  It’s a good time to be wearing (and knitting) warm, wooly mittens.  Here is my roundup of eight great patterns that will keep your hands warm and stylish.

Oak Hollow by Dianna Walla

Processed with VSCO with 6 preset

© Paper Tiger

Dianna released this pattern last week, and I love the way it makes you think of beautiful, crisp fall days, and trees burnished in gold.  It’s a really lovely pattern and I must admit that I have already been rummaging through my stash to try to find just the right shade of gold to knit up these beauties.

Prairie Star Gloves by Outi Cater


© The Knitter Magazine

I’ve yet to knit a pair of gloves, but this design is enough to tempt me.  The pattern is published in issue 143 of The Knitter magazine.   The Ravelry project page states that: “The stitch pattern echoes the designs of traditional 19th century American patchwork quilts.”  I love that she gets such a rich pattern with just four shades.

Jimi Hendrix by Lotta Lundin


© Lotta Lundin

I love these mittens.  The reverse side is cool too (with peace signs).  Doug saw Jimi live on September 7, 1968 at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.  Somewhere there are photos of Doug and friends from that concert.   We saw Nigel Kennedy do a 40th anniversary tribute to Jimi at Ronny Scotts in September 2010 (Jimi played at Ronnie Scotts on the night he died).  I wish I’d had a chance to see Jimi live, but I can wear the mitts as a consolation prize.

Hafgufa Mittens by Heather Desserud


© Heather Desserud

This pattern is actually from 2018, but published in mid-December, after I did last year’s mitten round-up.  I think these are so cute, with the giant krakens lurking beneath the waves and the unsuspecting Viking ships sailing above.  I think Heather has made such a clever and whimsical design.  “Hafgufa” is apparently an Icelandic name for an ancient sea monster.

Skog Mitts by Claire Walls


© Claire Walls

Sometimes simple is best.  I really like the simple but elegant pattern and shape of these mitts.  This pattern is from Making Magazine Issue 8/ FOREST.  They would knit up really fast in DK yarn and be a great weekend project.  I can imagine a pair to match every coat.

Lakrits Mittens by Emilia Jensen


© Emilia Jensen

I have a thing for black and white geometrical designs (there are quite a few in these mitten posts).  I love this bold design and how it pops out at you.  I also love the bright colours at the cuffs.  There is a matching hat, too, with a fantastic crown so be sure to check it out.

Brackthaw Mittens by Faye Kennington


© Faye Kennington

I think these are completely lovely mittens.  They remind me so much of the Pacific Northwest, and long walks through the snow-covered forest.  The designer lives in a remote corner of Vancouver Island, and she has really captured that part of the world with this design.  Stay with me while I go turn on the fireplace and get some hot chocolate….

Chardon Mittens by Virginia Sattler-Reimer


© Virginia Sattler-Reimer

Virginia has been turning out some lovely mitten and hat patterns the past few years.  I love the colours in this – three shades of purple and three of green really make the pattern pop.  I think it would also look good in greys and yellows.  There is a matching hat as well, so you can keep your hands and your ears warm, and look great at the same time.

That’s all for this round-up, but if you want to go back and look at previous years’ mitten posts, you can find them here (not in order):

Here’s wishing you a happy weekend, good knitting, and warm hands.