Cecile and the Warmth of Family

Over the past year, or so, I have been working on a pattern collection that, to me, represents my maternal aunts and uncles.

But everything was taking so long to get through. All the swatching, and writing, and re-swatching, and editing……. And it was all done with such a heavy heart through the whole process.

But, here, I write how this collection came about. My mom is the 7th of 9 siblings. When she was very young, just 6 years old, they were orphaned. My eldest aunt, Hazel, became their surrogate mother at the age of 19. They fought to stay together; times were really tough during the early 1940s. They developed an unbreakable bond, evident in how close our generation is with our cousins to this day.

As long as I can remember, we have spent Boxing Day dinner with my mom’s siblings and their families. When we were younger, we all fit into one of the sibling’s homes. But, as the years went on, and the next generation started getting married and having kids of their own, we needed to move into a bigger venue. So, the past several years, we have been holding our annual family dinner in a church hall.

20150822_174145056_iOSSo, at dinner, on December 26, 2014, my cousin Lisa had this really cute infinity scarf/cowl on. I inspected it, measured it, and decided that I needed to write a pattern for it. It was simple enough – just a brioche stitch strip that had one end sewn to the side of the other end. I made some cursory notes in my ‘bright ideas’ book and let it sit.

Earlier in December, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was aggressive and we knew that her time with us was limited. I had little time, or brain power, to design anything. I was knitting a lot, though, mostly samples for my lovely friend, Liisa.

My mom was also an avid knitter. In fact, she was knitting right up until the end. We would often spend hours chatting and knitting together to pass the time in the hospital. It was during one of these visits that this collection was born.

Sometimes, I wish that my mom’s pattern had been the first, but it wasn’t. The year before, I had started knitting a wrap. It wasn’t something I had worked on a lot, but it was something that I referred to mindless knitting. Something to have in my bag for the commute to work, meetings, training sessions, line ups, conference calls….you get the drift. But, I didn’t know how to finish the edging on it. I love the edging on Emily Ross’ Haruni Collection (I might have made a few) and wanted to do something like it. I poured over stitch dictionaries and Ravelry for inspiration. I finally charted out the lace that I wanted. Then, I decided to make another wrap, then my cousin Lisa’s cowl. And the collection was born. I shared my knitting progress with Mom. She watched me swatch, rip, swatch, rip, swatch, and make the notes.

The overall shapes came quite easily. I can’t draw anything, but I was able to create some sketches of what I wanted to do and the swatching told me stitch counts and basic measurements. I finished the Hazel wrap first. In fact, I finished it just in time for my nephew’s wedding in March 2015. I cast on the wrap for Marjorie – the stockinette portion was easy to do while sitting with mom at home, hospital, and, at the end, hospice.

20150316_214758975_iOS  20160424_232606245_iOS  beatrice


Mom lost her fight on May 4, 2015. Truth be told, I didn’t feel like working on this anymore. I just wanted to knit… I didn’t want to have to think. But, then, a week later, I got my hands on the limited edition of ‘rain in spain’ colourway of SweetGeorgia’s Sock club. It was a luscious skein of merino + yak + silk….. I had to cast on the shawl I named Cecile. It was a hard project to work on – so many memories – but I found much comfort and solace in knitting. It was something to focus on when all I wanted to do is crawl into a shell and not talk to or see anyone. Each stitch (and one of these days I will figure out how many there are) was created with loving memories of my mom.

Although I had high hopes of publishing these patterns in a timely manner, I found I was just unable to carry out my plan. My dad suffered a heart attack at the end of July. I was, once again, knitting beside a hospital bed. This time, it was a blanket – the 10th pattern of the collection – which is to represent the grandparents that I never knew; the parents that my younger uncles barely remembered. (side note – Dad spent a week in hospital and has resumed his regular activities)

I am blessed to have such awesome knitterly friends who were glad to support me and lend me a hand by knitting samples for me. I really had hoped to get all the patterns published by fall. But, I found around the middle of September that I had lost interest in things again. I didn’t feel like editing the patterns. I really didn’t feel like doing anything. So, I put this on the back burner, once again, and just knit. (okay, side note, I designed a really cute hat-turns-cowl for the SweetGeorgia Holiday Collection)


But, I pulled myself together, once again, and got going on this collection. It was hard deciding on a name for this collection. But, there was a theme…all the patterns will keep you warm – so, the Warmth of Family was born. I got Hazel published. Then Beatrice. Then Mamie. I really wanted to publish the patterns in the sisters’ age order, but, I was horribly behind my self-imposed schedule. I wanted to get Cecile published on April 22 – Mom’s birthday. I didn’t.

Cecile_Denise After much self-thought, I decided that I didn’t have to publish in any specific order, other than when I wanted to publish. So I will publish mom’s today – one year after my life, as I knew it, changed.





Dedicated to my mom, Cecile, the 6th sister.
She had an infectious smile that immediately put everyone at ease. This crescent shawl represents that smile – something you can wrap yourself in, whenever you need to brighten your day.


Mom – I miss you every day. I know you have spent the last year catching up with those who were waiting for you when you were taken from us – your parents – Ng Dick Jong and Mabel Chow; your sisters – Beatrice, Ina, Marjorie, and Hazel; your brothers – Howard, Doug, and Herb and your friends.


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One of my Favourite Weekends of the Year

One of my favourite weekends of the year is the Knit City weekend, hosted by Knit Social Event Company. It is my opportunity to connect with knitters, dyers, and designers; all in one spot with thousands of people who share my passion of knitting and other things with sticks, hooks, string, and fluffy stuff.

I have volunteered for the event every year (this was the 4th) and have never been disappointed with the vendors, the classes offered, the demonstrations, or the general ambience of the event. All in all, it is just great!

I loved walking through the marketplace, visiting with various vendors.  I made some new friends, Elysia from Yarn Ink and her adorable daughter; Michelle and Paul from Stitch Please; and I am pretty sure Karen is second guessing the wisdom in befriending me at the event when she looks at her stash acquisitions.

Thanks for a great show, once again, Amanda and Fiona. Already looking forward to next year!

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green means go

one of my most hated activities is driving somewhere within the city……

don’t get me wrong on that point – I love going places; it’s just that sometimes, I simply hate the process of getting there.

When I learned how to drive, oh so many years ago, I was taught that a green light meant that I could go. If I was driving along and the light was green, I had the right of way to proceed through an intersection.

When did the rules change?

I drove from Richmond to New Westminster today to meet the girls for lunch. Driving through Richmond meant following a few other cars along Williams Road. The posted speed limit is 50 kmh. We went 50, 70, 40, 60, 30……… and, although most of the traffic lights were green, someone ahead of me was sure to slow right down as they approached the intersection, just in case it turned yellow.

I am pretty sure this is what causes so many crashes just before an intersection. You are expected to maintain a consistent speed while navigating your vehicle along the roadway. When you slow down at a green light, you are doing something out of the norm and likely creating a situation that could result in a crash. When you knowingly go against what is expected of every driver on the road, you have made the decision that it doesn’t matter what the rules are, this is what I am going to do.

Learn to trust your instincts, maintain your speed, and go through that intersection with a green light, without touching your brakes.

Cars these days are so automated that people are forgetting how to drive. New cars can parallel park for you, check your blind spot, tell you when you are following too close, tell you if something is behind you, and maintain a speed for you. okay – I happen to like cruise control, but if some people would use it more regularly, they could maintain a consistent speed down the road.

One last thing to add here – drive up to the red light and stop at the line. Don’t coast along, hoping that the light will change to green by the time you get there (from a block or two down the road). When you get to the intersection, stop when your front bumper is at the white line….this way, you will trip the magnetic field and make the light change. If you are too far back or forward, the light won’t change.

Happy travels, either short or long, to you. Drive safely

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gauge swatches


it really isn’t a dirty word…….

if you want to knit a cardigan and have it fit like it’s written to, you have to do a little thing called a swatch.

It’s a fairly easy process. If your pattern says that 19 sts and 24 rows would measure 4″, then you want to create a swatch a little bigger than 4″.

My rule of thumb (based on the targeted gauge):

Cast on 1.5 times the stitches, in this case it would be 29 sts.

Work 3 rows in garter; then, keeping 4 sts at the beginning and end of every row in garter stitch (always knit), I work 1.5 times the number of rows, in this case 36, in stockinette (or the recommended stitch pattern from the designer), followed by 3 garter rows and a bind off. I don’t cut the yarn

I count out the required number of stitches and rows, marking it with pins. Then measure it. I write down the information and remove the pins. Do a quick soak/block in the way that I will launder the finished item. Let it dry completely. Then count out the required number of stitches and rows, marking it with pins.

Then, comes the moment of truth – does it measure 4″ ?????

too many stitches will result in a smaller finished project

too few stitches will result in a larger finished project

At this point, either adjust the pattern to match your gauge, or try again with different sized needles.

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gauge matters – most of the time

Gauge matters – most of the time……


Let’s look at this example:

A pattern calls for a gauge of 19 st x 24 rows using a worsted weight yarn and 5mm needles. You check the sizes on the pattern and decide which one will fit you.

You don’t bother to swatch to see how close you come to the recommended gauge
You grab your favourite yarn, and the needles you normally use to knit with it and cast on…. I mean, it’s just knitting and this should work, right?

Cast on 229 sts; work the pattern as directed, following the instructions for waist shaping when the piece measures 5 inches from the cast on, and working until it finally measures a very long 16.5 inches from cast on……
You divide for the armholes, work each piece to the required 8.75 inches, finally master the technique of a 3 needle bind off on the shoulders, and get ready to pick up for the sleeves……

hmmmmm, the pattern says to pick up 68 sts around the armhole. That is going to make the armhole pucker because there are just so many rows…. oh, well, the pattern has lots of projects and it’s been tested and everything, so it will work out in the end – maybe it just needs that “blocking” thing.
So you proceed and get about halfway through the first sleeve and find that you are running out of yarn…….. You desperately search for the same dye lot, finally find some and carry on…..your second sleeve is finished and now it comes time to admire your handiwork……

hey, it’s way smaller than it’s supposed to be; and even with blocking, the sleeves and armholes just don’t look good…..

You post/blog about the crappy designer and the “paid for” pattern. You tell everyone about how the pattern doesn’t make a nice cardigan, used way more yarn than what was called for, and that you will never buy another thing from this designer.

BUT let’s see what went wrong……
The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn; you chose to use your favourite DK yarn instead. The needle size, which is less important, but still a factor, called for is a 5mm, you usually use a 3.75 with your chosen yarn.

Someone at your knit group says – let’s measure your gauge. It ends up being 24 sts and 30 rows = 4″.

So let’s figure out the math:
Pattern: 19 sts/24 rows
Yours: 24 sts/30 rows

cast on 229 sts:
Pattern: 229 divided by 19 sts times 4″ = 48″
yours: 229 divided by 24 sts times 4″ = 38″

pattern: 8.75″ divided by 4″ times 24 rows = 52.5 rows (rounded to 53)
yours: 8.75 divided by 4″ times 30 rows = 65.6 rows (rounded to 66)

Sleeves: pick up 68 sts
pattern: 68 sts divided by 19 sts times 4″ = 14.3″ sleeve circumference
yours: 68 sts divided by 24 sts times 4″ = 11.3″ sleeve circumference

So, although you knit to the linear measurements (inches in length), your chosen yarn and needles made something much smaller in circumference.

So, before you start something that needs to fit, you want to make sure you are coming fairly close to the gauge the designer recommended. And if you can’t meet the designer’s recommended gauge, learn how to adjust the pattern

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you wanna know “what”?

so, I had a ton of ideas to write out new blog posts……..

I should keep track of them, write them down, record them on my phone, email them to myself….something…… yeah, that didn’t happen. I wanted to write something about manners, expectations, death, frustrations, and/or people….. but, I am having problems putting thoughts into words. It just isn’t working for me.

**START OF RANT** I was reading forum threads the other day and all I kept thinking was “I learned how to do *this* without the aid of knit groups, yarn shops, and/or the internet” and “how lazy is this person, expecting everyone else to do the research for them“. I am a strong believer in learning how to do something….not just telling/asking someone else to do it for me (well, except when it comes to how the computer works – I call my kid for that).

Want to find a pattern for 700 yards of lace-weight that is not a shawl/stole? Use the really awesome advanced pattern search on the site that you are posting on and find that perfect pattern. Want to figure out what you’ve got in your stash? Go to your stash and learn how to sort it by weight, then yardage. Learn how to use the tools that are given to you and stop asking everyone to do it for you. **END OF RANT**

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I’ve managed to get some knitting finished recently. This is the Raindrops and Umbrellas Scarf Version. The red one is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in the Tart colourway. The yellow one, sample knit by Kate, is RainCityKnits Sock in the Fried Egg colourway

Image Image


It goes along with the Rainbows and Umbrellas Stole that I made.

I also finished a few test knits and managed to write out a few patterns. The new patterns should be ready for release shortly. The test knitters have sent me their feedback and I just need to do the final formatting.

I organized most of my stash so far this year. I have some of it set aside for a few specific projects, but, mostly it’s just stash

Aside from knitting…………………

Dale Earnhardt Jr won the Daytona 500 and started the season off in a great way. He has consistently run well and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to share some chase excitement when we attend a race in the fall.

My rambling thought today…… What ever happened to common courtesy? More and more I witness absolute rudeness and disregard for others. I walk up to the local Starbucks, close to the office, and will come across 5 or 6 people walking in the opposite direction from me, all side by side, across the sidewalk, but not one of them will move out of the way. I usually stand my ground or walk into someone.

Where in the rule book does it say that a pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way on a roadway? When I was growing up, I was taught to stop when the sidewalk ends and look both ways to make sure the road was clear before I stepped off the curb. If a driveway is across the sidewalk, then yes, the pedestrian has the right of way. At a marked crosswalk with a green light, the pedestrian has the right of way. But, at an uncontrolled intersection (no painted crosswalk), you can’t step off the curb, without looking, into the path of my vehicle that is 4 feet away from where you stepped off.

this was just a little blurb today. and I wanted to show off my new scarf.


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Happy Lunar New Year

I am going to try to be more diligent in writing things down here. It may work much better once I figure out my technology and learn how to use my iPad to do that. I often think of things while I am out and about, or when the computer isn’t on.

It’s been a while since I added anything here.

Summer came and went

Our trip to Ottawa and Bowmanville was as exciting as we knew it would be.

An addition to the family was born on Sept 11. Welcome to the world, Jackson!

I am working on several patterns right now. One is out to testers, one will go to testers this weekend and my notebook is full of scribbles, sketches and lots of words.

I am going to try to finish updating my stash this weekend….complete with photos (ha ha ha)

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What’s on the Needles

I thought I’d take stock of what I have on the needles, and find that there are far too many projects that need some attention

For the past several months, I have been concentrating on designing. No grand expectations, just a couple things. But, I find that the pile of projects just keeps sitting there. It’s not getting any smaller, and, I think, it might be getting bigger.

If you stalk my Ravelry page, then you know I have WIPs. But did you know that I have about twice as many than I have listed?

I am currently working on a new cowl pattern, using IndigoMoon Yarns. If you haven’t seen these colours up close and personal, you should get some. The deep fall/winter colours are my favourite. Pictures don’t do the colour saturation justice.


I think I’ll take pictures of all my wips and post them tomorrow

For now, I have to get back to knitting

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A contest, sponsored by “For the Love of Knitting”, for free yarn for life….

okay, that really means $480 worth for 20 years – but, still, I can spend that – no problem…..

Click here to enter the contest

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