Monthly Archives: May 2007

Me in 5 questions

Heather asked for pictures of the kilt hose, and I shall obey:

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I am in the process of turning the heel on stocking #2. I would be past the heel turn if I hadn’t done that thing I sometimes do which is to get to the end of the heel flap, completely forget the heel-turning part, and then carry on right to picking up the gusset stitches. Then I realize I have too many stitches, smack my forehead, and rip it out back ot the edge of the heel flap to actually do the heel turn. I should know better than to try any of this at 11pm. In any case, these look good to be finished by the weekend. Hurray!

Clarabelle asked me 5 questions, and by the laws of blogosphere and memes, I must comply. And they are challenging questions, too!

1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I’m not sure if I have one specific goal in mind – I think it is a pretty open-ended pursuit and is always shifting a little bit. I started the blog to be able to track my knitting progress, and also to be able to write about things I enjoy. (In the psychological wringer of writing the PhD dissertation, it helps to remind myself that writing words and sentences does not, in fact, have to be an agonizing experience.) Since then I’ve also really come to enjoy exploring the blogosphere and “meeting” other knit-bloggers online. I like seeing pictures on other people’s blogs, so I try to include photos in mine as often as possible.

2. Are you a spiritual person?

This is a tough question! My short answer would be, yes, in the sense that I would say I believe in God as a spiritual presence that works and exists in ways that I will never fully understand. My longer answer involves a bit of personal history, and the recognition that over the course of my lifestyle as a graduate student, my regular spiritual practice has lapsed partly by design and partly by circumstance. I think spirituality and religion are very personal things.

My family belongs to the United Church of Canada, which I believe translates to United Methodist in the United States, elsewhere I’m not sure. I still attend services occasionally when I visit home – not as often as I would like, but I generally enjoy it when I go. (Also, I sit near the back and knit during the sermons. Shhh. God must also be a knitter, right?) I’ve been to different UC communities and I like the UC because I think there tends to be a minimum of ceremony and pomp and circumstance, and there is an interest on focusing simply on word, music, and sacrament, and congregational life. Also, they welcome people of all genders and sexualities into their congregation and ministry, which I think is important.

I have sung in church choirs in the past (as an alto – represent, altos!), and I would like to do this again eventually. I have not read the Bible cover to cover, but I would like to. According to the Belief-o-Matic (my Aunt showed this to us a few Christmas holidays ago), I test as equal parts Neo-Pagan and Liberal Presbyterian. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but I think I’m okay with that assessment. I would also like to know more about other religions and forms of spritual practice – Bhuddism, for example.

And as a brief aside, I have to say I get a little weary in film and television when the default “religious” representation is always Catholicism. (By this I mean no disrespect to Catholics – it’s just that there are other religious denominations out there, yanno?)

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(A swatch for the ‘Brennan Cardigan’ that I did yesterday while working on the pattern – it’s some variegated Patons Merino that won’t ever become an actual sweater, it was just the first worsted weight stuff I found when I realized I needed to swatch and went looking for anything that would work.)

3. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you?

Oh, my. I suck at desert island questions. Uhhhh… I will say that I would like to have my stash (that totally counts as one thing, right?), a good knife (for practicality’s sake), and a huge bottle of conditioner to keep my hair untangled (for vanity’s sake. Gotta look good for the sea turtles).

4. What’s your favourite childhood memory?

I have a lot of fleeting memories, I’m not sure if I have a favourite one, though. I remember birthday parties, and enjoying them. I remember getting ice cream in Scotland when M and I must have been about 5 and having a Cadbury Flake piece on top, and that was the best. ice cream. ever. I remember falling into the sunken fountain at the mall and being so distressed because my Smarties had fallen in with me (also I was sopping wet and crying), and my sister ran right over to the nearest newsagent and picked up a new box and ran right back and brought it over because new Smarties would make everything better (even if they were stolen). Good times. ;)

5. Is this your first meme?

Nope!
In the spirit of keeping the meme going, if anyone else (up to 5 people) would like 5 questions, let me know and I’ll ask you some for your blog.

[EDIT]: I just realized that the photos in this post are in purple and bright orange, and now I have the scene from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ in my head when Gareth compliments Scarlett on her orange and purple dress that combines the ‘ecclesiastical purple’ and ‘pagan orange’. Maybe the photos weren’t so random after all? ;)

And now to face the day…

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Book Review: Runway Knits

Runway

Runway Knits by Berta Karapetyan is a gorgeous book with gorgeous patterns in it. However, there are two important things a knitter should know before reading it:

1. None of the patterns are sized above a 42″ bust, and in many cases stop at a 40″ bust (for the finished garment, not for the body wearing it).

2. All of the patterns call for Karabella yarns.

All right, so the second thing isn’t quite so bad, particularly since I think most knitters are used to making substitutions anyhow when they choose yarn for a project, but the first thing is non-negligible. For goodness sakes, if a pattern book is only going to write up to 42″, then I would at least hope they would do that consistently. Many of these patterns stop sooner than that, putting me (a dress-size 10 with broad shoulders) in the largest size category in several cases. That just ain’t right, y’all, not when industry standard publications like Interweave Knits accommodate up to 50″ busts on a regular basis. So, I suppose this book is “runway” ready in more ways than one.

And really, this is absolutely a crying shame, because this book contains 30 beautiful patterns. There are very few things in here that I would not knit – even the knitted dresses – and they rely for the most part on sport-weight, DK-weight, and worsted-weight yarns that are used to their advantage in fitted, modern designs. I’ll include some pictures here from my own camera – please excuse this low-tech process ;)

SeashellShrug VintageShawl

The majority of pieces in this collection are sweaters – of 30 patterns, I believe there are 2 dresses, 2 scarves and hats, and 2 shawls, so that makes it about 2/3 sweaters, and I’ll admit this is just fine with me since I love sweaters and they are my default project. But these are not basic crewnecks or floppy cardigans. One of my first thoughts as I flipped through the book the first time was, “Clearly I have NOT been knitting enough shrugs. Get me yarn and needles, stat! I must knit these!” There are at least four “shrugs” in this collection, and we’re not talking about just basic shoulder-covers, either. The Seashell Shrug above left is one example, and there’s another called Springtime in Paris which fully covers the arms, shoulders, and back, and folds over in front in a lovely lapel collar. These are stylish sweaters that are made for comfort as well, without the fuss of buttonbands or zippers. In fact, most of the patterns are free of buttons or zippers, so most of the finishing work here involves seaming and blocking and that’s it.

The shawl, above right, is one of the few bulky-weight patterns in the book and I have to say that the more I look at it the more I love it. I did not think bulky-weight yarn could do that, crossing that unlikely divide between a shawl you throw over the edge of the couch and the quick cover-up you bring along to go out for dinner. I’m imagining it in a deep cranberry red or pale grey and thinking glamorous thoughts.

RomanCandle UltravioletVneck

Something else that I appreciate a great deal in these designs is the way they use all-over stitch patterns, including cables and different textures. One of the hesitations I have with the patterns in Cables Untangled is that in many of the designs in that book, the all-over cable patterns are so arresting that they overwhelm the garments themselves. Here, though, the patterns are more muted and work with the shape and style of the garments. I think the Roman Candle turtleneck and Ultraviolet V-neck, above, are two good examples of this. The Roman Candle is another pattern that I keep looking back at and wondering if I could make with some of the yarn in my stash. And the miniature cables in the V-Neck would be challenging without adding significant bulk to the finished sweater.

I did mention that there are knitted dresses in this book – indeed, more than one – and the design on the cover is one of them. This “Little Black Dress”, dare I say it, is something I would be willing to make. It includes dart shaping in the front and back to shape the waist, and uses lace on the sleeves and hem which increase the challenge while still allowing you to retreat to the safety of stockinette in the body. (Am I the only one who finds stockinette reassuring and relaxing? Bueller?) This is a much nicer knitted dress than, say, the pilly red acrylic mini-dress I saw someone walking down the street in a few weeks ago. (Yep. And it had pink strawberries knitted into an applique.)

MarbledTop This turtleneck is the last one I wanted to mention. It’s one of the obvious “beginner” type of projects contained in the book. This Marbled Top uses aran-weight yarn and would be appropriate for substituting either solid or variegated yarn, and uses picot edging to accent the sleeves and body. What a great way to learn picot edging and add flair to what would otherwise be a pretty simple sweater.

On a technical note, all of the patterns are worked flat on two needles and then seamed later. This is also a book that will depend on careful swatching. Also, a few patterns rely on colours that are too bright for my taste. Overall, I congratulate the designer on the beautiful patterns – but please, more sizes next time?

Next week I will have a look at a very different book – Knits Three Ways by Melissa Matthay. And Clarabelle has asked me 5 questions which, by the laws of the blogosphere and memes, I must answer. I’ll try to get on that for the next post!

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Oh, Knitpicks.

I will say that I do enjoy KnitPicks yarns. Sometimes, though, I really don’t like KnitPicks. There are times when it seems like they are trying so hard to follow the trends that they completely miss the mark.

As for example – my inbox told me a couple of days ago that KnitPicks encourages us all to buy the new book No Sheep For You! Awesome, it’s a great book, I’ve been drooling over ‘Morrigan’ and ‘Bacardi’ ever since I saw it. But why, oh why, when the whole purpose of the book is not to knit with any wool or wool-related fibres, has KnitPicks chosen to present the Tomato tee in a cotton/wool blend? It’s not as though Main Line was their only choice, either, they could have easily worked up that pattern to gauge with one or two other non-animal yarns they have in stock. (Shine Worsted, anyone?)

And then there’s the gorgeous After Dark nightie (knitted recently by Mind of Winter) from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book. It’s gorgeous and delicate and sexy, but half the reason it’s gorgeous and delicate and sexy is because it’s knitted lightly in a sport-weight linen at a leisurely 5 sts/inch. KnitPicks, on the other hand, has chosen to present this delicacy in a worsted-weight cotton blend. Again, they could have easily gone with one of their sport or DK-weight cotton or cotton blends, why strangle this pattern with a heavy worsted-weight? That sure ain’t gonna keep me cool in the summer evenings.

Of course, I say all of this as I contemplate that Euroflax Linen I saw a few weeks ago at Lettuce Knit and forgot to check back for last week. Maybe it’ll still be there this week when I go again…Maybe I’ll be able to knit my own luxurious summer nightie…Yeah…Um, right after I finish this sweater and kilt hose that are still sitting around my WIP list. ;)

Happy long weekend to Americans…We had our long weekend last week, so today I will be putting in some time on campus and trying to plug away at the Thesis while my knitting lies in my handbag in case of need. Gotta get that word count climbing. Tomorrow – hopefully a book review!

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“We should be feared…”

…quoth the Yarn Harlot last night in Toronto. It was a good time for sure – I would estimate around 350 people came out, and Indigo was nice enough to set out at least 100 chairs for us. So considerate ;)

I will say that my sister M took way more photos than me, and her videoclip of the applause upon Yarn Harlot entrance (which was awesome and a sight/sound to behold) did actually work, so she’ll have that up too. Check out her blog for more pics. Here is my meagre offering:

We got there around 6pm for the 7pm signing – me, sis, mom and dad, and our friend K. This was a good thing, because there was already a lineup to wait for the chairs which at that point were being set up. I would imagine that had we even arrived 10 minutes later, we would not have been in the group that got to sit down. (Dad however, didn’t want to sit with the knitters and take away a seat, he went and browsed and ended up standing somewhere on the upper level during the whole thing.) So we had a solid hour of line-waiting, knitting, sitting, chatting, photo-taking, etc. I’d estimate at least 2/3 of the knitters there were working on socks, too, which was pretty cool. I had my kilt hose. (Also, mom pointed out that the age demographic in the room was really broad. So true.)

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(Edit: That’s Em there in sock discussion, and Jennifer there at the end of our row – Yay, new blogging pals!)

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M wore the Brennan Cardigan and I was flattered that several people admired it. I have GOT to finish writing up the pattern and post it.

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A little after 7pm, a cheer gradually bubbled up and Stephanie was about to be introduced. The applause was huge. By this point, people were filled in all around the chairs, the entire stairwell, up in the upper level surrounding the stairwell. Yeah, I’m not sure what the Indigo staff thought. I wish I’d taken pictures of their expressions during the event, it was kind of awesome. They looked vaguely like they weren’t sure what was going on but that maybe they were wondering if they missed the memo on something they were supposed to be in the know about.

There were a lot of us.

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See that stairway and railing area up in back? yeah, that was all totally full.

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The staff guy introduced Stephanie in what I am sure is the usual store manner, explaining her personal history and writing exploits and knitting triumphs like Doctors Without borders and I kept thinking, “DUDE, 99% of the people here know all of this already!” Maybe he was doing it to educate the store patrons who weren’t in the know. Heh.

She said we were freaking her out with all the applause, and reiterated what she’d posted on her blog that day, about her nervousness that if she messed up it wasn’t, “I’ll never see them again,” it was, “i’ll never see them again until next Wednesday.”

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Stephanie spoke for about an hour and was, as per all reports, funny, charming, intelligent, and the pride of knttters the world over. She spoke particularly about the effects of “CHOKE” (Cultural Humiliation of Knitters Everywhere) and elicited huge laughter – the sort of laughter that comes from true and deep understanding about what stash is and why we are all addicted to knitting.

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I got my book signed and she was lovely to say that it was nice to meet me, and I said that it was extremely nice to meet her. I commented that we were debating whether or not it would be all right to read the book in the bathtub once it had been signed, and she commented that, given that some people a) own her books and don’t read them nearly as furiously as most knitters, and b) don’t know who she is, that yes, she was sure it was more than all right to read in the tub. I support this comment.

Here, I’ll leave you with one last adorable shot of Aven and her hubby and wee guy, who was enthralled by the shiny rope pedestals in the signing lineup:

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Also, I wave hello to my friend Karen who I hadn’t seen in years and saw last night at the signing – who knew we were both knitters? Knitters are the best ever.

I regret that I wasn’t able to get to the Afterparty last night (K had all kinds of stuff to schlep back to our place, and my socklet-comforted-yet-blistery-feet were weary – I’m ashamed to admit that even at home I was nodding off into my kilt hose by 11pm), and that we won’t be able to get to the yarn crawl today (M and I will be home for mom’s birthday party dinner), but since June 9th is coming up with the TTC Knitalong for Knit-in-Public day, I think I’ll do well with that trip.

Have a great knitting weekend!

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Like a little sandal-sized hug

These:

 

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Are going to help me wear these:

 

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Every spring I go through the same song and dance when sandals weather comes around. I rotate through the 5 or 6 pairs of sandals in my closet (all of which are comfort sandals, mind you, no high heels or flashy beach sandals or nothin’), each of which will bruise and blister my feet horribly in a slightly different location. After 3 weeks or so, my feet and the sandals reach some kind of truce and the blisters stop. But those 3 weeks make me want to whimper. And we’re talking any sandals, here, thongs, slides, wedges, buckles, t-straps…There’s some combination of the arch of my foot and the brisk pace of my walking (walking is transportation for me) that just does me in every year, for a while. I have blisters on top of blisters.

So I decided to put the knitting on it and took up some more of that leftover bit of Lorna’s Laces from the Endpaper Mitts, and made myself these little socklets. They’re stupid fast, and while I’d be willing to bet lots of money I’m not the only knitter out there to invent something like this, I’ll tell you what I did. It’s very simple:

1. Cast on 64 sts with 2.25mm needles (This # can be sized up or down depending on the best size for you – as long as you cast on a multiple of 4 sts). Join to work in round. (This is the same # of sts I would normally use in a sock foot, on one needle size smaller than what I would normally use. I get “regular” sock gauge of 8 sts/inch on 2.75mm needles, so going down to 2.25mm needles puts me around 8.5/9 sts/inch.)

2. Work k1, p1 ribbing for 5 rounds.

3. Work k3, p1 ribbing until the piece measures 2.25 ins from beginning.

4. Work k1, p1 ribbing for 5 rounds.

5. Bind off, but not so tightly that the thing won’t stretch over your foot.

I’ll likely be trying another pair or two, possibly decreasing yet another needle size and possibly doing just the k3 p1 ribbing to see how it goes. I want these suckers to be nice and clingy.

 

The socklets and I are spending the afternoon on campus and then heading off to represent with the Yarn Harlot at the Canadian Launch of her book. It’s gonna be super, I am sure, and my parents and several friends are coming along. Can’t wait to see all the crowds that show up.

May your knitting not be far from you today…

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Thesis before Knitting

I’m on to the 2nd of my kilt hose stockings, but I’m going to try to hold myself off from taking a photo until I’m finished both of them – I guess this is my way of trying to stave off Second Sock Syndrome ;)

But, I realized I never showed a Finished Object photo of something else I finished a little while ago:

EndpaperMittsFO

I think I’ll wear these for the Yarn Harlot event on Friday, since most of my knits are just too warm for the weather we’ll get this week!

As I’ve been knitting the kilt hose with the Apple Laine sock yarn, I’ve developed some concerns about the yarn. Like Kelly, I encountered a skein with a significant # of joins in it – i.e. more than 3, which is enough to make me sit up and notice. However, my other concern is the consistency of colouration in the dye:

AppleLaine-stripes

I don’t know if you can see it well enough in this photo, but the effect is as though someone has come along with a dark magic marker and drawn short lines across the sock. This has happened in both of the 2 skeins I have worked with so far. And because it’s the sort of thing that is more noticeable in the knitted fabric than in the yarn itself, I didn’t notice it fully until after I’d reached the foot and was on the home stretch of the stockinette.

When I did contact the Apple Laine people about my concerns, they said I could send them my original invoice and the offending skeins for a refund – and I would expect this kind of response and certainly appreciate it. But since that would involve ripping up an entire kilt hose stocking, I’m not sure that would ease my heartbreak at all. I’m debating whether or not to do this, but I’m leaning towards not – ripping up an entire stocking at this point would only lead to more anguish. And then I would either a) have no yarn at all, or b) have more yarn that might still be suspect.

[EDIT]: There’s an update on this; They have offered to send me some replacement skeins once new ones have been dyed. I think this is very generous and I will be happy to see how they knit up.

Moral of the story – I cannot fully recommend this yarn (at least in the solids – I don’t imagine these dyeing issues would happen in the multicoloured variants), and I don’t think I will be buying any more, which is a shame because the colours are nice and the yarn itself feels lovely and soft. It behaves more like a light sport weight which is why I chose to use it here in the stockings. I’ll knit up the stuff I’ve got and leave it at that. If you’ve got some of this yarn at home, I really recommend giving it a careful look while it’s in the unwound hank, before using it. Check for joins, check for discolouration BEFORE you knit it up, and get a refund if you think it is warranted.

That’s all for today…Must work on Thesis before knitting, must work on Thesis before knitting…

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Me in 8 Random Facts

Fiona tagged me on that “Random Facts” meme that’s been going around – and I was mildly gleeful, I admit, because I don’t think I’ve ever been tagged on a meme before. Lucky me! And lucky you, now you get to read some random trivia about me, me me!

1. I’m a very fannish person – as in, TV fan. While I don’t watch an incredible # of television shows, I love talking about the ones I do watch. Same with movies. I don’t understand when people watch a show or a film and come out saying simply, “I liked it.” or “I didn’t like it,” and that’s it. I could go for ages about characters and stories and blocking and lighting and musical score.

2. I run for exercise and usually listen to a knitting podcast while I do.

3. I currently share an apartment with my twin sister, and this has worked out pretty well for nearly 4 years now. However, we’ll both be moving in the fall and it’s sort of like the end of an era.

(M and me atop Signal Hill in Newfoundland a couple of summers ago – check that wind, baby!)

SignalHill

4. I’ve never seen a full episode of the show “Smallville”, but I think the theme song/credits are awesome.

5. I hate the fact that the movie box office is biased against female actors. A crappily written movie wtih a lot of pretty boys in it and a lot of action will always make more money than a crappily written movie with pretty girls in it. And chances are, the movies with leading actresses headlining the film that do make money are the typical “girl finds self/life dream and gets guy at end.” Why can’t a woman ever save the world in a movie and have it be a normal thing like when a guy saves the world in a movie?

6. I’ve travelled in 3 continents and Chicago O’Hare airport is the only one that’s ever made me cry.

7. I drink tea, and if someone serves me tea in a restaurant composed of a single (unused) teabag and a cup of hot water, I will ask them to go back and put the teabag in the pot/mug first, then pour the steaming water over the teabag. I only recently started doing this, but I’m stubborn enough that when I’m paying $2.50 for a cup of tea, I want it to taste like tea.

8. I’m not on Facebook. Yet. But so many of my friends are on it that I feel like my resistance will only wear down after a matter of time.

I guess now the rules say I tag more people, right? So…I will go ahead and tag Kelly (Hedgehog knits), Sarah (All Fingers and Thumbs), Marianne, and my see-stor M to post 5+ random facts about themselves, if they haven’t already. In fact, if you haven’t been tagged and would like to be, consider yourself tagged, too. :)

I received 2 more books to review last week, so hopefully I will have one of those up by the end of the week! Runway Knits and Knits Three Ways.

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