Monthly Archives: February 2007

Weekend afternoons without knitting

Once upon a time I did used to spend my free time doing things besides knitting. Despite the fact that some people (my mother) ;) now ask me if I do anything else at all besides knitting, I think what’s happened is that knitting has slowly but steadily colonized all of my other hobbies. I used to work with beads, but now my bead box sits idly on the shelf. I used to bake things, but now only do that on special occasions. And of course, I did used to do a lot more reading for pleasure, not so much any more – although that may have more to do with the fact that I do various academic reading during the week and so reading has gradually lost its lustre.

Anyhoo. I went back to all of these things yesterday – dusted off The Woman in White and read 80 pages at bedtime, and in the afternoon I got out the beads…

(Beaded stitch markers, in sets of 6. Okay, so it’s beading that’s also knitting-related.)

I’d promised to make 2 sets of stitch markers for another knitter, and once I finally sat down to do it I just kept on stringing more sets, cranking out 7 sets altogether. I might have done more, except I eventually ran out of jump rings and my fingers were getting stiff from using the pliers. I’ll have to get more jump rings eventually if/when I want to do more – but around these parts the bead stores are located handily near a couple of my favourite yarn stores, so that way lies temptation and madness.

(Pseudo-early-Valentine’s Day cupcakes.)

And, well, there are very few things that will not be improved by cupcakes, don’t you think? Me too.

I did finish off the Ribbi Cardi on Friday, but have no FO pics to share as of yet – I still need buttons, and I also still need to gift it to the recipient (my supervisor), and so I’m holding off on any photos until I’m absolutely sure that it fits the wearer and all is well. I’m a little bit nervous and am crossing my fingers for the best, but I think all will be well. Thanks to the cold weather, I’m also dreaming of casting on for new things like this and this, but am being good and am still keeping myself on track with the things still on the needles.

Happy Sunday!

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Filed under non-knitting, ribbi cardi

Book Review: Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets

This is the second in a series of blog book reviews I am writing for Random House Canada. Today I take a quick peek at:


This is a recently updated edition of this book, which has been in circulation for more than a decade at least. It’s an extremely handy little book, and one that would partner well with technical reference books like Vogue Knitting: Quick Reference, and similar volumes.

Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets is not a pattern book, but it isn’t exactly a reference book, either. It’s quite a handy book to have, as I say, but it’s easily overlooked since it’s not very flashy or revolutionary, and I have the feeling it is the sort of printed volume that is losing a bit of spotlight due to the abundance of wisdom that exists in the unprinted form in cyberspace. It is a volume of collected pieces of wisdom from experienced knitters, assembled thematically. There are chapters such as ‘Yarn’, ‘Hand-Knitting Techniques,’ ‘Garment-Making Tips’, and ‘Managing Your Knitting’ – in short, it contains all the little tips and tricks that experienced knitters have learned, the knowledge that technical manuals like Vogue Knitting don’t necessarily stop to tell you about.

For example – any knit-bloggers who spend time on online knitting communties or message boards will have seen the inevitable series of newbie questions or practical questions (and may have asked plenty of such questions themselves). Things like, “how do I keep my yarn from rolling all over the place when I knit?”, and “how do I know if I have enough yarn left to cast off?” or “how can I twist a cable without a cable needle?” or “how do I make a buttonhole without it coming out all wonky?” Well, these are the kinds of answers that rest inside this book. They are the kinds of tips that now exist helter-skelter in various locations in the blogosphere, accompanied by a few schematic images and an index in one handy printed location. This is the kind of book that would make a good gift for the knitter who is either a) new, or b) in need of a single place to look when searching for ways to improve their knitting life.

My sister received a copy of this book from my mother years ago when she was first learning how to knit, and it bears the distinction of being the book that successfully taught her – from pictures – how to do the long-tail cast-on method. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, then what is? ;)

* * * *

In the next review: Glamour Knits, by Erika Knight.

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Finally

I have some prancing to do…

Feb7b 003
(Finished Baudelaires – large size, made with Fortissima Socka on 2.75mm DPNs)

These babies have been lingering on the needles for three months, taunting me with their unfinishedness from the bottom of the knitting basket. Despite all my knitting, I haven’t had a Finished Object in over a month, and my sanity couldn’t take it any more. I sat down yesterday and finished them. Ta da!

If you were here in person, I would probably be pointing out to you where all the mistakes are. “See, here’s where the heel is crooked, and where the toe is wonky, and where I made stupid mistakes all over the lace pattern…” But I don’t mind one bit. These are my first completed toe-up socks, with a heel flap no less, and I knew when I went into it that I was choosing this pattern as a skill-building project. To heck with perfection. I learned one version of a toe-up heel flap, I learned two toe-up cast-ons (Figure 8, which I don’t like as well, and the square toe, which I do like), a new lace pattern, the sewn bind-off, and more things about short rows. The modest intimidation factor of these things was, ultimately, what kept me from finishing them so quickly, but I’m glad I did it. I would knit these again.

(Baudelaires – slightly blurry still life with Hershey’s Kisses)

Have you seen these new Cherry Cordial Hershey’s Kisses? Damn. I am going to have to get me some more of these, I tell you what. You know the sweet, gooey, pink pasty stuff that sits in the bottom centre of a chocolate-covered cherry? Well, they took that crack yummy stuff and put it in the centre of a chocolate kiss. Mmmmmnnnngggghhhhmmmm. This may be the best thing since I discovered dark chocolate Milky Way bars in the States. Excuse me, I think I need to be alone with the bag for a moment…

But one last glimpse at the socks first. ;)

Feb7 008

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Filed under baudelaire, chocolate, finished object: socks, socks

Craft expansion

It’s pretty awesome, I have to admit, sharing living space with another knitter. (We sometimes enable each other). My sister has started her Icarus shawl. I’m both envious and enthralled. This morning, she got up, got herself tea, spent about 5 minutes online and then sat down with her shawl again. She’s also made “ooh” noises while looking at this pattern, and I can’t say as I blame her. I’d like a set or three too, please. (None of this is exactly helping me with the stash-busting, but so far I am keeping a steady pace. No extravagant cheating as of this time.)

(Scrapbooking – constituent parts)

On Sunday we went to a friend’s house for a scrapbooking party (it is possible this has a scrapbooky-vocabulary kind of name, but I don’t know what it is). Now, I’ll come right out and say that the paper just plain does not speak to me like the yarn does, so there is no danger of me suddenly taking up a second craft obsession addiction interest, but I do admit there is some skill and design knowledge involved. It’s not quite as easy as I thought.

We were all given the pieces and demonstrated how to make a card, and then left to do our own. M and I couldn’t resist being contrary, so we tried to lay things out a little differently than how we were told.

(Finished objects)

My bold moves were twofold. First (and shamelessly stolen from M, who quickly started a trend by not merely ripping the edges of her patterned card but using those ripped edges as design features laid over top of the rest of the card), I used my ripped edges and laid them in a kind of cross-ways fashion. Then I stuck the ‘thinking of you’ circle over that. Second, I tipped the card to stand on the vertical axis, while we had been demonstrated to do the horizontal axis.
(It’s possible we were too contrary for the scrapbooking world. I’m still trying to gauge the culture.)

One thing really stood out for me, though, as I compared this crafting enterprise with knitting. (Like you do.) Once you’ve cut something, or punched it, or stamped it, or glued it, that sucker has been cut or punched or stamped or glued and there is no going back. You have to either live with your mistakes or start over. I have to respect that, because it does put a whole lot of emphasis on the patience and effort put into each individual step. But hey, with knitting? We can just rip out our mistakes and start over. Even if we cut the wrong thing, there are ways of fixing. Ends can be tied or spliced, crossed-cables can be reversed, dropped stitches can be found again. Knitting lets you be fearless and impatient, heck, it practically dares you. The yarn will still be there. ;)

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Blue, Grey, and White

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No shortage of these three colours in the urban landscape…In fact, the more I start to pay attention the more I notice how they make every other bright colour stand out so much more. I wouldn’t have figured blue for a ‘neutral’, but to my camera it really does seem to appear that way! These are just a few pics I snapped around my neck of the woods on Friday, looking for the first in the Project Spectrum lineup.








In other news, I have finally managed to join Flickr and start uploading my pictures, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to import the pictures into my blog post. I don’t want to “blog about it” and make a whole separate blog post for every photo, I just want an import link, damnit! ::rage subsides:: Ahem. New technology.

Knitting has been happening – I worked in spells on 4 separate projects, and even made some progress on the ticker bar there at the right – the Baudelaires are on the home stretch, I just have to keep on keepin’ on. I have some other projects that I’m shy to show at the moment, in the event that They Make It Into Someplace Cool, but suffice it to say that I feel I am doing very well by knitting the things that I currently still have on the needles without casting on 5 million new ones just on a whim. My willpower, it astounds me and annoys me at the same time ;)

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Firsts for February

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February has arrived (eek! my deadlines!) along with the beginning of Project Spectrum. I wasn’t in blog-land during the beginning of this enterprise in 2006, but I’m excited to be here for Take #2. The idea behind it is to get knitters/crafters to focus on different parts of the colour wheel, and to incorporate different colours into their projects (or not.)

February and March are dedicated to Blue, Grey, and White. I don’t currently have a blue, grey or white project on the needles – or at least I didn’t think I did, until I remembered my poor wee Patons Kroy ‘Winter Eclipse’ sock that I started a few weeks ago on a whim and then put down again.

(Potential Project Spectrum subjects.)

I hauled it out and did a few rows on it before bed last night. Do you know what the singular joy of knitting with Patons Kroy is? Well, maybe you do. It’s the fact that Kroy is plump enough that you can knit it on 3.0mm needles. I underestimated the increase in speed that happens when you go from 64 sts on 2.75mm to 60 sts on 3.0mm. Woo hoo! I might actually finish these socks just as a side project! Plus, knitting from my stash, bonus there.

The February Project Spectrum also makes me feel a little reassured and possibly even vindicated for not having finished The Woman in White yet, which was the January selection over at Knit the Classics. (It may be a Victorian gothic potboiler but it is also 700 pages long. I feel some slack-cutting is deserved.) So I am making the bold move of allowing myself to slot that reading into a Project Spectrum project, in the thematic sense.

Me, this morning: “The groundhogs call for an early spring.”
My sister (singsongy): “I don’t believe them.”
Me: “Neither do I.”

In Groundhog Day news, apparently Wiarton Willie calls for an early spring, as does Punxsutawney Phil, although given the way the wind has been blowing through Ontario these days, I’m still holding out some skepticism. And besides, the longer winter lasts, the longer I get to wear my sweaters and socks. ;)

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Filed under knit the classics, project spectrum, socks