Pioneer Tavern Road

I hope everyone has been having a spectacular New Year, and the holiday season has been good to everyone. Somehow I always feel like the holidays should be more relaxing and productive than they end up being. But I have had a chance to. Do a little bit of fibre related fun.
One of my colleagues has lent me her spinning wheel! I know I’ve mentioned before that I do make yarn on a drop spindle from time to time, but I have never used a spinning wheel. She gave me and another friend a lesson on it, and has let me borrow her wheel for a little while. I think I am starting to get the hang of it now. I have been spinning up this lovely orange yarn that is a mix of merino and silk. The silk is shiny and white through the orange dyed merino, so I’ve started calling the yarn creamcicle.
Here are some pictures from the ‘spinning adventure’





And like a creature from the black lagoon I have found my way back to the bog…I mean…blog, with really bad puns.

I get those from my father.

I get a lot of stuff from my father. Genetics, migraines, a love of history, a hard time…and a love of music.

My father tends to like what we now call “classic rock” although I guess he may have just called it “rock” in the past…him being…classic and all.

He has always introduced me to classic rock, which led me to my own discovery of music and my metaphoric introduction to Joni Mitchell somewhere along the way. I think she is fabulous and her lyrics can make me cry. (I’d say they speak to my soul, if I didn’t think you’d classify me as melodramatic.)

Anyways, I’ve got a nifty little Joni Mitchell inspired headband pattern to share with Y’all! (I’m wearing my cowboy boots at the moment so I feel entitled to pretend to be western although the closest I’ve come to a cow or a horse in the last decade would be the commute down Highway 11 from work to home or the cottage.)

Joni :  JoniPattern

Happy Knitting!



It has been raining on and off all day today, so I’ve set about creating some art inspired by the present state of the weather. It has been a while since I’ve drawn anything, and it was nice to feel the urge to draw something.

I’ve learned a new word today. The word petrichor refers to the aroma that comes along with the rain. I never knew there was a word for that particular smell. If you’re interested in learning more words that describe different sorts of rainy weather, I suggest you check out William Hartston’s article “Words to Save for a Rainy Day.”



Hello All!

I have finally been able to get my act together, and get the weather to cooperate, long enough to get some pictures taken for the new hat pattern I was working on. It’s called Fleetwood, because I was listening to the song “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac when I started designing it. I hope you enjoy!

Here it is: Fleetwood(1)

Happy knitting,

Leigh McDonna

Memory Lane, or, Why We Knit

Oh my goodness! I have been remiss in my blogging over the last couple weeks, but I’ve been so busy with the new job that I have barely had a chance to knit, let alone a chance to blog about knitting. I was starting to get a little stir crazy the last few weeks. Apparently, if I don’t knit, I get unhappy. Who knew?

Anyway, I have made an effort to make time for knitting over the last week. I realized that knitting seems to keep me sane when everything else is stressful and beyond my control. I think I started knitting because I’m fairly fidgety, and having something to do with my hands has always been a way of keeping me on task. When I was in high school, I used to get in trouble for doodling over all my notebooks, binders, and even my friends. When I went away to England for my first year of university, I was relatively homesick. I think that I started knitting in order to keep my depressed emotion of being away from my family at bay.  I had learned how to knit garter stitch in high school, but first year, I learned to knit and purl and started making scarves and things to pass the time while we travelled Europe on buses. I think we all have different reasons for knitting.

Historically, knitting would have been something that you had to do, in order to make clothing to be warm and survive. Today, we can just go down to the nearest mall, or even the supermarket, and pick up a sweater that probably costs less than the yarn we would use to make it. My mom remembers growing up and making her own clothes. Now, when she and I go to the fabric store, it is more expensive to buy the fabric than it is to pick up a dress at the mall. So why do we bother? Why do we knit?

I’ve been thinking about this the last few days. Because I was on my forced knitting spree this week, I brought my yarn to the office. One of the ladies in the office thought that it was remarkable that I could knit. Not only that, she was shocked that I happened to be knitting a hat of my own design. She thought it was remarkable that someone as young as I am would: a) know how to knit, and b) understand the craft well enough to make a hat without a written pattern. (On a side note, I’ve written the pattern up for that particular hat… I’m just waiting for a good day to take some photographs.)

I really like having the ability to create something unique. I also like the idea that I can give someone a knitted gift, and know that they are not going to run into hundreds of people who have the same one. I also like the way that I can create something completely for or inspired by that person. And then there is the time, you haven’t just popped down to the store to pick up something for them, you’ve spent days, choosing yarn, checking gauge, searching for patterns…and then knitting and finishing the item itself. There is a lot invested in a knitted good.

But I am sure that I am not the only one, there are many knitters out there who all have different motivations for why they knit.

Why do you knit?

The Supply Hat

Having just embarked on my teaching career…the first step of which has been supply teaching…I have become very thankful for my status as a knitter. I’ve discovered that supply teaching is at once hectic, uncertain, stressful…and…at times, boring. I’ve liked it so far, the ability to visit different schools, talk to different people in the profession, meet different students, and see the different ways is which schools function. I have however…discovered that “prep”, while very helpful for classroom teachers to get lessons organized, to finish marking, or to focus on personal professional development, is often long…and boring for me. I think part of it has to do with my own natural anxiety about what I should really be doing, or my unconscious nervousness about the next class, in which I fear that the students might decide to mutiny against me.

Anyway, I’ve finally braved bringing out my knitting to pass the time, despite the raised eyebrows it might bring about in the offices. (I think mostly I imagine the eyebrow raises.) I’ve come up with this hat pattern, I’ve called it “The Supply Hat” because I created while sitting at a desk during prep. I hope you enjoy it!

The Pattern: The Supply Hat


1 Skein Malabrigo Rios

4.5 circular needles

Stitch Marker

Yarn Needle



Cast On 76 stitches and join for working in the round, be careful not to twist.


Work K1, P1, ribbing for 2-3 inches.


Round 1: Knit around.

Round 2: Purl around.

Round 3-4: *P2, K2* around.


Repeat rounds 2-4 until hat measures 7 inches from cast on edge, be sure to end on a round 4.


Next Round: *P2tog, P2* around.

Next Two Rounds: *P1, K2* around.

Next Round: *P2tog, P1* around.

Next Two Rounds: Knit around.

Next Round: P2tog around.

Next Two Rounds: Knit around.

Next Round: P2tog to last 3 stitches, P3tog.


Break yarn six inches from end and using yarn needle, pull through remaining stitches. Weave in all ends – voila!




The Guelph Vacation

Oh my goodness! I have a lot of things to talk about this week.

*Let’s get this out of the way first, because it’s depressing me: the cable cowl pattern I mentioned working on has gone completely awry and I’ve discarded the project in favor of more pleasant pursuits. If you were holding out for it, I am sorry, but (hopefully) I will have a very cute cable braided headband pattern to share with you soon.*

Now…I have had the most fantastic weekend that I need to tell you about. (It is relevant to knitting, I promise.)

This weekend I traveled to Guelph, Ontario, for a friend’s birthday. Of course, I don’t enjoy going to birthdays empty handed, especially as a knitter, so on Wednesday night, I broke out my circs and dove into the leftover half skeins from the “Christmas Hat Collection” and cast on Jared Flood’s Turn A Square. It was a quick knit; I had it done in the morning on Friday. I didn’t have any “boy” colored self striping yarn, so I just used the ends of three different colored alpaca tweed yarns I had, and I think it turned out fabulously. If you’re looking for a quick, stash busting knit, I highly recommend that one. I’ve posted some photos, as I remembered to take them before I gave it away.

On Friday night we went to the Wellington Brewery for a tour. They had these cute quarter-pint sized glasses to taste all the different drafts. I’m not really a huge beer expert, but I really enjoyed their Arkell Best Bitter. I also have to point out that I was a huge fan of their draft taps, all of the Wellington beers have British “Wellies,” for handles, the bar had cute miniature rain boots along it. (I guess the fact that I was amused by the décor and cuteness factor will tell you about my interest in different types of beer.)

On Saturday morning we went to the Guelph Farmers’ Market. My friends that live in Guelph were a little disappointed with it. It was in a new building, and the layout and lack of amenities made it difficult for people to get around, or for past vendors to sell some of their things because they didn’t have the right cooling or cooking equipment there. I, on the other hand, was in heaven…because…well…I found an Alpaca farm booth, and had a good chat with Kristi who ran both the booth and the Harmony Meadows Alpaca farm. Of course once I get my hands on anything alpaca I’m loath to part from it…so I walked away with 50gm of lovely Natural Dark Fawn Alpaca Roving for my drop spindle, and a skein of 2ply lace weight alpaca yarn dyed the color of “Rust.” I saw the color on the table, and its sort of a dark orangey-red color, and thought to myself, “Self, that would look really nice as some sort of lace shawl,” I’m thinking probably the Echo Flower Shawl if I can manage it.

My Saturday was very “yarnful.” After we visited a cute coffee shop, we made our way to my friend’s LYS, All Strung Out. That’s the name of the store…not our mind frame, for the record. I got to do some “Knit Geeking,” as I like to call it, and talked to one of the instructors. My friend (pictured below in the really cute coffee shop) had asked me to knit her a cabled headband, so I had her pick out the yarn for it. She chose Cascade Yarns Eco Duo; it is nice and super soft, made from baby alpaca and merino wool in different shades of gray. I’m working on the pattern now, and will post it when I’ve finished.

Well that was a long one, hope you made it through…here are some apples for your staying power…I hear they keep the doctor away.


Cables and the Bowl that is not for Soup

I went to the library the other day and found some wonderful books that had cables and techniques for cabling in them and I’ve been trying to come up with a cabled cowl pattern. I’m almost done, but I’m not quite happy with it yet, so it may be a while yet before I post pictures and the pattern. I’ve almost completely ruined the first part of the ball of Malabrigo Worsted Merino because I keep changing my mind and ripping back.

So, tonight’s post is going to be about a fantastic gift that I got for Christmas. I guess that with moving back home to work, my parent’s have now come to realize the scope of my obsession and passion for knitting. My father has often commented on the way that balls of yarn escape me and roll about the room in which I work. So, for Christmas, he and my mother surprised me by getting me a hand crafted yarn bowl. I’m in love with it, and it does stop the problem of balls of yarn escaping around the house. It’s actually quite handy, and it has a neat little spiral cut out to pull the yarn through. But like every good gift, it is really the thought and motivation behind it that counts.

I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly sure, that my father has never been in a yarn store without me being present, so trying to figure out how he managed to even know about the existence of such a thing had me flabbergasted, but apparently on a weekend when we had gone to see a play in Stratford, he had doubled back to drop things off in our hotel room, and snuck back into the yarn shop to get it! The story just makes the whole thing so much better!

I’ve taken a picture of it so you can see my new favourite toy…

My Morning Crossword Cowl

Well I’ve managed to fix the cabling on my socks and now I love them! I’ve also had the opportunity to work out a new pattern for a cowl. My brother gave me two skeins of a Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca in the colourway Crimson for Christmas which have made the cowl super soft and luxurious and I added some buttons for a little bit of whimsy. This is the pattern for it, I hope you enjoy! My Morning Crossword Cowl