Monthly Archives: January 2007

Saturday knitting tour

The good news is, I’m feeling better today – so much better that I’ve even had a shower and have already consumed some dry cereal. I might even try some dry white toast with a bit of honey later, it’s all very exciting. The bad news is that I’m better enough that I do actually have to do real work today, so I’m wondering how fast I’ll be able to get through that so I can return to lying around and actually get to enjoy it. It’s been nearly 3 full days since I last picked up my knitting needles, and that’s just too damn long.

But, before all of The Unpleasantness (I think I may have narrowed it down to some ceasar salad consumed on Saturday night, either that or some random bug), I did have a lovely visit from Kelly. She arrived on Friday and we did some knitting and lounging around, and on Saturday we continued that pace until about midday when we ventured out towards the yarn stores. In Ottawa she doesn’t have access to the same variety that we do here in the T-Dot, so she was raring to go. (I of course had to be pushed out the door kicking and screaming. You believe me, don’t you?)

Our first visit was to Lettuce Knit. We ogled and fondled and browsed. I made my purchase of bamboo needles and then actually sat and waited for the others and knitted a few rows of my Ribbi Cardi sleeve #2, fresh with new bamboo 4.5mms just sleeve-sized:

(The second sleeve, in the state I left it in on Saturday afternoon.
Sadly, it has not grown since then.)

Kelly escaped with a copy of a spinning magazine and a pair of Lorna’s Laces skeins. (She has since been contemplating whether to in fact knit them up for a gift as planned or to figure out a way to keep the resulting socks for herself.) My sister fondled many things lovingly but none so much as the Misti Alpaca laceweight. I should mention here that, the night before, my sister was found flipping through my back copies of Interweave Knits magazine and saying things like “ooh, shawls…” But she did not make any purchases. Yet.

(Kelly and Me in front of Lettuce Knit)

We carried on to Romni Wools. I had tried to prepare Kelly for what she was about to walk into. I kept saying things like, “They have a lot of yarn. They have fibre. They have an upstairs and a downstairs. Your eyes might glaze over. Really.” But I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for Romni, particularly when you haven’t had the ability to rely on stores of that size as a matter of habit. We all went in and dispersed, and I went directly to the Noro section. I had anticipated buying a pair of Addis, but before departing had found that I already owned the size I was prepared to buy, so instead I decided to go for the Noro Silk Garden and see if I could find a couple more skeins of the same Silk Garden I received at Christmas, so that I could use put it towards a Poppy sweater. Well, after doing quite a bit of digging, I found what might possibly have been the last remaining skeins of Silk Garden #201, unless they had secret things hidden where I can’t see them.

By the time I emerged and caught up with the others, Kelly had made her way downstairs and had seen the fibre. She was practically giddy, and I’ll let her tell that part of the story, but suffice it to say she was thrilled to be able to touch the fibre she was interested in buying. I hear that’s a big deal for spinners. ;) (I’m still holding out, but will happily watch others discover this and its joys). So, she made out with some purchases as well.

On our way back home, my sister decided she wanted a second look at Lettuce Knit. And so we returned. And there was more fondling of sock yarn, and more fondling of Misti Alpaca laceweight. And lo, my sister became the proud owner of two yummy purple skeins of her first laceweight, destined to be an Icarus Shawl one day. She even got to have it wound on site and couldn’t have been happier:


And that’s pretty much the exciting knitterly tale of the weekend. I wish there was more, but sadly no. I lie in wait for next weekend when I will be ready to pounce on so many projects it’ll be like knitting before it goes out of style. I hope everyone out there in blogland is having a good week!

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Filed under lettuce knit, ribbi cardi, yarn stores

Where did that weekend go?

I have a few fun things to share from the weekend, but have unfortunately been laid out since about noon yesterday with what is either fierce food poisoning or some kind of stomach virus. Hopefully I will be closer to normal tomorrow or the next day.

And you know, it’s all well and good to be forced to stay home and rest, but not so much when you’re too woozy to knit. I’m just saying. Oh well…I will live to knit another day.

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Thursday, Thursday, Thursday

Thursday means Grey’s Anatomy day (although for me it might as well be re-named The Alex and Addison show, because they’re the characters I’m most obsessed with at the moment ;) ) which means I will get to have something to watch while I plonk myself down tonight and keep knitting on this:

(la belle Ribbi Cardi)

I’m only 1/3 finished the first sleeve, and quite honestly I had hoped that by now I would already have started the second sleeve, but things have been flagging a bit the last few days. Didn’t get much knitting in on Tuesday night and last night I was enticed away from it by Other Knitting, so there we are. My ultimate goal is to have all the knitting on this (if perhaps not the assembly) finished by the end of this weekend, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m still in love with the colour, still sad to have to see it go at the end, and still anxious curious about how the slight Swish shrinkage will go down. Further bulletins as events occur.

In more exciting news, my friend Kelly is coming to visit me this weekend to hang out and do some quality knit-geeking. I’m so gleeful. We’ll go eat some awesome food and I think a mini-yarn-store-crawl is called for, for Romni Wools and Lettuce Knit. We are both attempting to knit from our stash, though, so we have made promises to keep each other “on the wagon” but for some very specific purchases that we have identified as needs-not-wants. (Needles.) Heh. We’ll see how that goes down, too, I am sure.

And finally, it looks as though my participation in Sock-A-Month-2 has come to an end. January is the last month and I realized I fulfilled my January duty back at New Year’s with my Fortissima self-striping socks, so voila! I am finished. I don’t think I’ll be signing up for Sock-A-Month-3, but damn if there’s a Sweater-A-Month knitalong then put me down for that because my knit list is just overwhelmed with sweaters right now. I’m hoping to finish at least one or two in the forseeable future. But knitting at least one pair of socks each month since August has really given me some good sock training, and pushed me into double digits – I’m at 10 pairs now – so I’m grateful for that participation.

Happy Thursday! May your yarn not be far from you today…

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Filed under ribbi cardi, sweaters

"I sucked. Now I suck less."

I’m having one of those weeks where I have so many project ideas running through my head that I’m practically dizzy with just wanting to stay at home and knit all day. (It is a testament to my Fear of The Dissertation that I am actually dragging myself into campus and forcing myself to do something that approximates actual work, instead of the knitting.) But at least I still have a portable project in my purse to keep me content at break time – I’m on to the first sleeve of the Ribbi Cardi, and that’s awesome. I just hope the dear sweater will forgive me for whipping through it at near-breakneck pace – I’m ready to finish it and move on to other things and finally indulge my start-itis on something new.

This morning I ran a few laps at the track (while listening to Cast-On) and mulled over all the T-shirts people wear. Some of them have slogans on them that have enough of a sarcastically competitive edge to genuinely annoy me (“Hurry up and lose, we have work to do!” or my new fave, “If I can’t win, then I don’t want to play” – written in faux-crayon children’s scrawl). A gal had one on that read: “MIP: I sucked. Now I suck less.”

At root that one’s got more than a little bit of sarcasm behind it, but then at least it is optimistic in the end – it’s more about improvement and self-worth than about Being Competitive All The Time. And that’s really not a bad attitude to bring to the knitting or any aspect of life, really. Because my first scarf and hat? They kind of sucked. But now, my knitting sucks less. ;)

This post has been brought to you by the letters P (for “procrastination,” and “photo-less post”) and C (for “chocolate”, always ready in times of need). May your yarn not be far from you today.

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Monday Quickie

1. I have discovered that, after 3 machine washes, my Kool Aid socks still smell like Kool Aid. Who knows how long it will last, but damn, that’s cool.

2. Like most of the online knitting world, I am sure, I am gleeful that Cast-On now has a new episode up (I listen to podcasts at the gym and while walking to and from campus), but here’s where I confess to you that my favourite podcast is actually Firefly Talk, and it’s been a month now since their last new episode. Yes, I am a television geek. Yes, I am a Firefly/Serenity fan (and will happily convert you in a heartbeat). Why so delayed, Firefly Talk?

(Go see the Bedlam Bards for their CD and their rendition of
“Big Damn Trilogy”, among other tunes,
which are just as lovely for knitting to as anything else)

Methinks I need to get more than 2 podcasts. ;)

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Sundays with the Knitting

My poor, neglected Ribbi Cardi has finally seen some action again this past week. After virtually ignoring it since the beginning of December I’ve been giving it my almost-full knitting attention since Tuesday or so and it’s paid off, putting me at about the halfway mark. I’ve completed the back and one full front piece and have started the 2nd front:

The contrast colour for the sleeves will be Bordeaux – I had originally planned to make the body with Bordeaux and use Fired Brick (red) for the sleeves, but then they arrived and I found there wasn’t a strong enough contrast between the two. So, the Fired Brick is still sitting there waiting for something else – I’m tempted (once I finish this and a few other things, ahahaha) to order some of the Ballerina shade and make myself a pink-and-red Ribbi Cardi. It could either be really really cutesy and cheezy or bright and sporty. Hm.

I can’t say much about this pattern that hasn’t already been said – it’s a relatively quick knit all things considered, not too difficult, and I’m sure it will be comfortable to wear. This one’s destined to be gifted, and it will be hard to part with. My only concern is that I anticipate there will be shrinkage – the blogosphere tells me that Swish (despite being superwash) shrinks in the row gauge. I’ve added a few inches in the length to accommodate this, but only time will tell if it’s enough! Fingers crossed…

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Book Review: Classic Knits

At the moment I have no fewer than 5 projects on my needles, in various stages of completion, so my start-itis is already running rampant. The last thing I need is something else to knit. Well, then on Monday a new book arrived on my doorstep – the first knitting book for me to review for Random House Canada. I was all ready to be skeptical and standoffish. After all, I’ve got plenty of things to knit already, and heck – with a title like Classic Knits, surely there’ll be some bland pieces reminiscent of yoked sweaters of 30 years ago and dowdy cardigans and I can just pass it off and look elsewhere for more modern, hip patterns, right? Wrong.

(Classic Knits, by Erika Knight, published by Potter Craft, Jan 2007)

This book is already in circulation, and I’ve seen it mentioned around the knit-blogosphere once or twice. I’m pleased to say with 100% certainty that I will be knitting at least one project from this book – in fact, there are at least half a dozen patterns that I am ready to pounce on. Some of them might even help me bust my stash a little bit. I would easily recommend this book, either to new knitters looking for challenge, or to experienced knitters looking for comfortable and wearable projects.

Classic Knits lives up to its name. This is a selection of 15 patterns that are versatile, comfortable, and that you’d believe would come from a single wardrobe. The majority are sweater patterns, with a considerable range – there is a military jacket style cardigan with pockets, a simple Kidsilk Haze mohair cardi with snaps, a sleek silk shrug and two turtlenecks. Additionally, there are small items including a cable keyhole scarf, a pair of socks, and a pair of gloves. All of these patterns display simple but elegant construction. Also, there is a messenger bag pattern knit out of – wait for it – kitchen twine. I had to give that pattern a second glance, it’s too brilliant to be passed over.

If you’re the sort of knitter who has said farewell to plain-jane stockinette in favour of tangly gorgeous cables, intricate fair isle or fine gauge pieces, this book is not for you. However, this strikes me as an excellent book for the knitter who has learned the knit and purl stitches but wants to do more than “just” scarves and hats (Of note: there are no hat patterns in this book) and apply those skills to projects that have enough detail to keep the knitting interesting without frightening away the skittish. For example, while the vast majority of the knitting in this book involves either stockinette stitch or ribbing, there are small amounts of extra detail: The camisole-style tank top uses a small cable and eyelet accents to take the skill level up a notch; the military jacket cardigan is constructed simply but also requires the knitter to form buttonholes and pockets; there is a silk-blend jacket with garter-stitch-rimmed pocket that is accented with grosgrain ribbon along the collar and hem. These patterns would keep me moderately interested and comfortable at the same time.

This is not a ‘big girl’ knitter’s book – a bust size over 42 ins will not be accommodated, nor anyone looking for patterns with a lot of shaping. Most of the garments’ appeal comes from their classic style and practical comfort. There is a general mix of yarn weights – the camisole tank top uses fingering-weight cotton, on up to the super-chunky wraparound cardigan jacket. However, it shouldn’t go amiss that, of 15 projects, 4 use super-chunky yarn (knitted on 9mm-10mm needles). That’s a little too much on the chunky side for anyone who likes their knitted garments to retain a classic sense of style and a flexible drape – not all figures are flattered by super-chunky knits.

Also, despite the generally attractive layout and photography in the book, 2 of the sweaters are photographed (the wraparound jacket cardigan and the chunky ‘bardot sweater’) from angles that don’t actually give a clear picture of the overall fit of the item: The only shots of the wraparound jacket involve the model lying on a couch or crouched in a sitting position; The bardot sweater is slightly better, it shows the model in a sitting position, but neither one gives me a very clear impression of the length and overall fit. A shame, since these are 2 patterns I could see myself trying out – if I choose them I’ll have to go for it and see how it turns out.

Overall, I am led to conclude that this book is aimed at the advanced beginner crowd (the chunkier the knit, the faster the knit), along with one other detail: All of these patterns are written for two straight needles. There is no knitting in the round, either on circulars or DPNs, despite the presence of one sock pattern and one gloves pattern. I don’t know about you, but I’d choose knitting gloves in the round any day (and learn a new skill at the same time!) over sewing seams on a hand and 5 fingers. I’m not sure why this book doesn’t encourage readers to take the plunge with DPNs. It is clear that this is not an instructional book: it is a book of patterns only. Anyone looking for more detail on what “ktbl” or “c4b” are, for example, should be prepared to have a reference book (or an experienced knitter) close at hand.

I wish that I had more pictures to share from this book. I can say without a doubt, however, that I will be knitting at least one pattern from it in the near future, and will be sure to share more about the success of that process. Once I finish something first, of course. ;)

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In which I realize that I am a selfish knitter

[Edit]: My friend Kelly has just (JUST, like, this past week) started spinning with a drop-spindle and I’m sure there are many of you who know the ways of spinning who would be extremely capable of heading on over there and celebrating her first handspun and giving her tips. Wouldn’t you? *bats eyelashes*

Although I didn’t do much posting last week, for some reason I spent a bit of time mulling over the whole “why I knit” concept. And then Lolly posted about her “Someday” projects, the ones she wanted to knit for a while and didn’t because she wanted to work up to the skill level first (and BTW the hoodie she’s making is looking gorgeous).


Somewhere in one of her books, the Yarn Harlot talks about process knitting vs. product knitting: if, on a desert island, you would choose to unravel your one knitted item and re-knit the yarn over and over again, you’re a process knitter. If you would leave the knitted item intact and go off in search of other materials to knit with, you’re a product knitter. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a product knitter – ultimately, I think I knit because I want the finished thing, to use or to wear or just to have and say, “I made this!”, and move on to something else.

I think I have the same trepidation as many knitters of “I can’t do [insert knitting skill here] yet, so I’ll hold off on that pattern for a while”, – and I KNOW I had that trepidation in my first year of knitting in particular. Right now, I’ve become the sort of knitter whose trepidation is, in the end, always outweighed by the fact that I’m stubborn, ambitious, and oriented towards the ultimate goal of having the finished thing. Also, the more I knit the more I convince myself that I am capable of knitting – whether with new skills or skills I’ve already learned. This explains why, in 2006, I managed to knit 6 sweaters (2 of them fair isle, 3 involving a few cables), 7 pairs of socks, and many other miscellaneous things, and why my stash continues to grow and my mental knitting wish list gets longer every month. ;)


So when I call myself a selfish knitter it’s because I am ultimately knitting for me, me, me. ;) Knitting is close to my only hobby these days. For the past ten years or so I spent a great deal of time doing volunteer work with the same organization, and last year when my commitments there came to an end I decided to take a pause with that work and do things that I wanted to do for myself. I never used to do that – I was always the person who was out doing something different every night, either working or volunteering or taking on a new project. It’s very refreshing to me that I’ve streamlined the commitments I have in my personal time – whether this is permanent or temporary, only time will tell ;)

The thing that holds me back in my knitting, more so than whatever skill level I’m at, is always time or money – the time to knit the thing, or the money to buy the yarn or pattern or whatsits that the thing needs to get knitted. I got clued in to this fact when I realized that my “Someday” projects (the ones I’m waiting until “someday” to do), are all ones that I covet dearly but have to wait to start until I have fewer things on my plate. I think the project that goes at the top of my “Someday” list is from the book Viking Patterns for Knitting, the ‘Ragna’ pullover. It’s got 4 long panels of cabling that join up a few inches above the bottom to form a kind of medieval tunic look. (Also, I borrowed this book from my friend K and really need to get it back to her and buy my own copy to drool over.)

I swear, when K let me borrow the book I was this close to leaving lip-prints on the pages, that is how much I was taken in by all the patterns. The cables are friggin’ gorgeous. I don’t know how much I would actually wear the Ragna pullover (it would be very warm, very big, but at the same time oh so gorgeous and a fantastic challenge), but damn I want to knit it. Someday.


Today, I still have wee unfinished socks. And other unfinished sweaters. ;)

A “Someday” list, of sorts:
*Ragna cabled pullover from Viking Patterns for Knitting
*The nightie and dressing gown from Mason-Dixon Knitting
*A lace shawl – the Icarus Shawl, perhaps?

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Filed under knitting philosophy, socks

Le-voila!

Sarah rightfully prodded me to show photos of my 2nd Ivy sweater, which I have not photographed for some reason, despite the fact that I’ve had it finished for about 3 months now. Poor darling, she’s probably feeling unloved.

I’ve made a quick ‘FO’ post over here at the Ivy Knitalong, with Ivy #2 – I’m not ruling out a 3rd one sometime in the future, I’ve gotta say. But not yet. Lots to keep me busy in the meantime…like Baudelaire #2!


I managed to start the toe last night and got through 2 repeats of the lace pattern on the foot this afternoon while at coffee with friends. I’m looking forward to being able to wear them, there’s a real shortage of bright pink socks in my life.

Robin asked me about the yarn I was using for the Baudelaires. It’s Fortissima Socka, that I found at my LYS a few months back and snagged pretty much for the colour alone. Upon closer inspection of the ball band I discovered it is 60% superwash wool and 40% polyamide, which is a different material proportionality than I’ve used before (although strangely that is not the same proportion that is listed on the yarn link above. Hmm…). That probably explains why the yarn feels all smooth and shiny in my hands, heh. It’s not as soft as other sock yarns (like Knitpicks Essential or Austermann Step), but it does feel quite sturdy.

In other news, I’ve recently been approached by some nice folks at Random House books to do some blog reviews of their upcoming knitting books. Watch this space for more – I tells ya, the excitement never ends around this place.

And now I’ll stop with the insane amount of weekend blogging and head back to the last few gasps of weekend hours. Oh, Monday…

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Filed under baudelaire, ivy

2006 Finished Objects – Year Roundup

Just so that I can have the final list in one place! Here’s the final tally for 2006.

  • *Basic socks, With Fortissima Socka Colour self-striping yarn
  • *Striped Hat and Scarf, yarn and Pattern from Philosopher’s Wool (FO pic)
  • *Basic Socks, with Kool-Aid Yarn skein #2
  • *”Colour Your Own” Fair Isle pullover, yarn and pattern by Philosopher’s Wool (FO pic)
  • *Kool-Aid yarn Jaywalker socks (FO pic)
  • *Pamir scarf (black raspberry), using stitch pattern from a recent Yarn Harlot post
  • *Pomatomus socks, in Patons Kroy, winter eclipse (FO Pic)
  • *Ivy, #2, in Elann Highland Silk, dusky lavender
  • *Simple Stripes Fair Isle Socks, with Patons Kroy (black) and KnitPicks Simple Stripes (sweet tarts) (FO pic)
  • *Basic Socks, with Austermann Step, dark blue (FO pic)
  • *Fetching, in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, Eggplant (FO pic)
  • *Rib and Cable Socks, Interweave Knits Fall 2005, in Patons Kroy Socks (FO pic)
  • *Basic Socks, following guidelines by the Yarn Harlot, with Austermann Step (FO pic)
  • *Harry Potter Quidditch Sweater, Ravenclaw, my own pattern, in Elann Peruvian Highland Wool (FO pic)
  • *Honeymoon Cami, in Luna, raspberry wine
  • *Seed stitch and lace baby cardigan, Hip Knits (Better Homes and Gardens) (FO pic)
  • *Ivy, in Elann Peruvian Quechua
  • *Basic Socks, in Fortissima Socka Colour self-striping yarn
  • *Tradition, fair isle cardigan, pattern and yarn by Philosopher’s Wool
  • *Twist Cardigan, ChicKnits, in Elann Peruvian Highland Wool, light grey heather
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    Filed under 2006, year in review