Monthly Archives: August 2007

Apparently I’m not so much into “small”

The exception to this is, of course, any time I think I can represent progress to myself. I wrote 300 words this morning, thus earning myself a blogging reward. And a piece of chocolate. Also, my 2nd pair of Monkeys is progressing through concerted effort at a rate of about 5% per day, which is small but incremental, and I cling to that.

Monkey2-Aug28

On the not-so-small front, I’ve been contemplating my recent stash explosion enhancement, as well as my mental “to-knit list” for this fall and winter. It’s a mix of things I’ve had in the queue for a little while and things I am now inspired to make thanks to the sales, but I will say that, um…it sure ain’t small. Apparently I do not roll on the accessory-knitting train:

  1. Moderne Log Cabin Blanket(pdf), from Mason-Dixon Knitting (Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland)
  2. Venezia Pullover, by Eunny Jang for Interweave Knits Fall 2006 (Knit Picks Palette)
  3. Ribby Cardi, by Bonnie Marie Burns (Knit Picks Swish Superwash)
  4. Clapotis, by Kate Gilbert for Knitty (Patons SWS)
  5. Ragna, from Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elspeth Lavold (Briggs & Little Tuffy)
  6. ‘Street Smart’ Urban Aran (Patons Shetland Chunky)

Heh. I’m nothing if not ambitious. Check back around December and we’ll see how many of these things I’ve actually completed. Or almost-completed. Or started. Or…cast-on. ;)

There’s more, of course, like some socks (oh, poor Clessidra, I still haven’t knit you yet and your yarn is waiting) and a lone hat will jump into the queue as a gift for a friend, but this really just confirms for me that my knitting brain defaults to sweaters or projects of similar requirements of time or yarn.

ModerneLogCabin

When I look at my FO list on the sidebar, the sweaters strongly rival the socks – and in fact they would outnumber the socks in combination with similar projects like sleeveless tops or my After Dark nightie. I love sweaters. I have always loved them. My 2nd project I knit was a sweater, thus forever killing any sweater fear and making me get a confused look on my face when I hear other knitters say how they’re still waiting to ‘work up’ to making sweaters. Sweaters are my favourite. In fact, even putting that Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland to use for a blanket is really being challenged by the deep corners of my brain that keeps saying “No no, what you really want is a nice two-tone raglan cardigan…”

Is this just me? Should I be re-training myself to love hats and mittens and loosely knit scarves? While I contemplate that I’ll just be over here hugging my yarn and thinking comforting sweatery thoughts. Mmmm, sweaters…

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Filed under future knit plans, stash, sweaters

The madness has got to stop

I think I need to just accept my stash and my stashing ways and stop pretending to have any ability to “maintain” or “de-stash” what I’ve got, because damn. These August sales are killing me.

Spinrite1

I was chatting on Ravelry with Kim, another knitter from Hamilton, who told me about a summer tent sale going on at the Spinrite factory outlet in Listowel, Ontario. They have (produce?) all the Patons and Bernat yarns, and sell a few other things along the way. She kindly allowed me to tag along (even though I ::cough:: had us drive for 15 mins in the wrong direction on the way back ::cough::) and, well, we bought some stuff. I’m not going to go into full and complete detail, but I’ll just say that 4 bags of Patons Shetland Chunky for $30 is a darned good deal. Patons Urban Aran and Starsky, (and oh, a few bazillion baby sweaters and blankets) here I come.

[Edit:] Just FYI – we unfortunately caught the tent sale on the last day, so yarn by the bagful isn’t an everyday experience at Spinrite. (Damnit.) But their regular stock IS indeed priced lower than average retail price. It’s worth the trip as far as I’m concerned. ;)

That should have been enough. It really should have been enough. But we decided to stop in Waterloo as well, and check out another unfamiliar Local Yarn Store, Cloth & Clay. It’s inside a shopping complex downtown on King St. (close to ample public parking, FYI), and at first we were a little faked-out because we didn’t expect to find a yarn shop in a little mall across from the usual mall-ish clothing stores – but there it was, and so we went in. Seriously, y’all, I gotta go back there. I stood there in front of a veritable wall of Briggs & Little Regal in all the colours and sort of whimpered a little bit. They had Fleece Artist, Koigu, Trekking, Louet, Manos, Wooly Bully, Hemp for Knitting, Berrocco…it goes on and on. Their selection of books is one of the best I’ve seen outside of Toronto. I mentioned that I’d been living in Toronto and had recently moved to Hamilton, and she mentioned a couple of other yarn shops in Toronto and Hamilton areas and I said – “No no. You’re competitive. Really.”

Cloth&Clay1

Oh yeah, and for August their whole store was 20% off. I got a few skeins of Hemp For Knitting but I could have done so much more damage. And the saleswoman was very nice, and I realize now that I completely forgot to ask her her name, and I should have.

And Kim, if there is a next time, I will totally read the maps right this time. ;)

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I’m in ur Rhinebeck, fondling ur woolz

Well, I did it. I’ve been chatting about the idea with Rebecca for some time, and had been mentally revving up for The Plan…But today I went and booked the flight. All those Air Canada seat sale emails finally wore me down, what can I say.

Round about that time is likely when I’ll be sitting around fidgeting anyway, waiting for my draft to get read, and I figured, heck with it! This will give me something to look forward to. I guess I’ll finally get to see what all this Rhinebeck frenzy is all about. I have 2 months to prepare myself for the wool fumes…As far as making a ‘Rhinebeck sweater’, well, that might be harder. How about a ‘Rhinebeck pair of socks’ instead? ;)

Back to staring at my thesis file, I dutifully go…

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The cupcakes will continue

Since cupcakes are one of the few things not currently providing me with stress or anxiety, I have no intention of ceasing to make them. (I will have to continue to find people to help me eat them, but that is another matter). This time I decided to branch out with my own recipe format, based on my favourite drink – the Cosmopolitan. I figured since there are cupcake recipes out there based on teas and coffees and other alcoholic beverages (as for example I did find a margarita cupcake recipe on the webs…and another with amaretto in it that I am itching to make), heck, surely I could take the Cosmo and do something with it in cupcake form. I’m not going to give the full specs of what I did just yet, because quite frankly I believe I can do better and I want another go at it. But, I will say that these got very rave reviews from those who have eaten them.

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The four ingredients in a Cosmopolitan are cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau, and lime. Anybody who tries to substitute one of those things (or do something terrible like stick a cherry in it or serve it on the rocks or in a highball glass – all things I have experienced while trying to order one out in a bar or restaurant) is either selling you something or settling for less than the perfect drink, in my humble opinion ;) So I was trying to get all 4 of these flavours in there. In the cupcake I used cranberry juice, vodka, and lime zest. The lime and vodka are there solidly but the cranberry was too mild. When I try again I will try to find either some juice concentrate, or dried cranberries, or both. Also, they didn’t rise quite as thoroughly as I would have liked, so I’ll have adjust some things there. I also had to drop in a wee bit of red food colouring for tint, since the cranberry juice didn’t affect the colour and I wanted them to look like something besides vanilla cupcakes. The frosting, though? The frosting recipe I am not touching because it is the best thing I have ever eaten. I had no shame in licking the spatula clean.

Lime-Cointreau Buttercream
(accompaniment for Cosmo cupcakes)

1/2 c butter
4 c confectioner’s sugar
3 T Cointreau
juice from 1 large lime

Blend all ingredients with a mixer and try not to eat the whole bowl. Double this if you want to do a lot of piping or if you are frosting more than 2 dozen cupcakes.

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Further bulletins as progress occurs on the cupcake front. There has been some knitting progress lately although it has been slow. I’m on the second sock of my second pair of Monkey socks, this time with Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in ‘Foxy Lady':

Monkey #2

Over and out for now…Today I am chipping away at the boxes and attempting to shore up courage to write. One thing at a time, right? Oh look, it’s tea time…maybe time for just one cupcake, too…

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Moanday

I’m not awesomely thrilled that it’s Monday, boo, whine…But you know what would brighten up anyone’s Monday?

Freaking cute PUPPIES, that’s what!

Check out that ultra-adorable set of wee doggies. I could die from all the cute.

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How to recover from a move

I imagine there are many ways of doing this, and I have been trying a few of them. (Baking, glasses of wine, and unpacking one box at a time are some which come to mind). Then there are all knitting and yarn-related recovery options. On the day after my move, however, I don’t think I was fully prepared for exposure to yarn. My Hamilton friend D had already been to the annual ‘tent sale’ at the Ancaster yarn store ‘The Needle Emporium’, but since Thursday was the last day and I had just arrived…well, I suppose it was only natural that I would go.

And, well, I suppose the result was predictable. Here’s what happens when you go to a tent sale and “aren’t really going to buy anything”:

Aug18 003

Now, while you’re recovering from that picture, allow me to explain how the sale went. There were 3 different sizes of bags, each with a different price tag on them. I ended up with a “large” bag, which cost $150. You went through the tent and filled up your bag and then paid the requisite price according to your bag size. And since it was the last day of the sale, they were also giving away a free small bag’s worth with every medium or large bag.

I’ve heard stories from D about that first day of the sale – how it was very quiet and intense inside that tent, how the sock yarn went within the first hour, how there were people walking out with entire bags full of Noro Kureyon…. So my take was from a much more limited selection, but lo and behold there were a few boxes of Jamieson’s shetland in varying weights. After a tour around the tent, I finally settled in front of those boxes and started digging, pulling out everything that matched colours and then more and more that would complement each other…I kept on stuffing. I ended up with 30 skeins of Jamieson’s Chunky Shetland in about 5-6 different colours, as well as a bag of ‘Trillium’ (viscose/linen) from Needful Yarns, and some oddballs like a skein of Butterfly cotton and a ball of Cashmerino Aran. All told, I think I walked out with over $500 worth of yarn.

Dude, it was Jamieson’s. I couldn’t say no. At the time I thought, “cool, a whackload of sweaters.” My sister is steering me towards a log cabin “moderne” style from Mason-Dixon. So…yeah. Lookie there, eh? My stash is groaning at me, but I’m trying desperately not to care. Is it wrong that now that i sit and look at it…I wonder if I should have tried to stuff another 5 skeins in there? ;)

Next post I’ll have more cupcakes to talk about, thanks to my parents’ kitchen not being in a state of rubble. (and I should mention yet again how awesome they have been in all this moving and shaking going on.) I hope all y’all out there in the blogosphere are well.

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::twitch::

ETA: Just checking in via my parents’ internet connection to say that all the loading and unloading has been done and much more quickly than we anticipated, thanks to the help of many friends and especially my parents who took care of the moving van rental and helped pack up a few more things on Monday. Still lots of unpacking and more shifting around to do (I’m sure I’ll keep you posted on that), but I am quite sure the good thoughts of the blogosphere were instrumental today ;)

Of course, it is now only 5:30pm and I’m all unloaded so that means if you Stitch n’ Pitchers have knitting gauge issues tonight, I can no longer be your karmic scapegoat. I’ll try to suck in as much bad knitting karma for you as I can as long as I can have a beer while I do it…Heh heh. Thank you for your good wishes!

* * * *

Moving day has arrived.

If you don’t hear from me in a couple of days, send a banana creme pie after me. (Well, that’s actually what Garfield would say. I would say send some yarn and a bottle of vodka after me, but whatever, I’ll take pie.)

Oh yeah, and it’s like I was saying to a couple of the ladies at Lettuce Knit last week – if you suddenly find yourself ripping back half your knitting today, or winding skeins that refuse to untangle, or discovering your project won’t fit…well, I hereby take the blame on account of Moving Day Karma. Just today, mind you – tomorrow you’re on your own ;)

Catch y’all on the other side of the pile of rubble…

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Book Review: Romantic Knits

[Edited to add]: Find corrections for this book and other Annie Modesitt patterns here

In the midst of all Thesis and General Life Turmoil, I thought I’d remind myself that reading and writing aren’t always painful, by sitting down with a knitting book review. Annie Modesitt’s Romantic Hand Knits is a treat.

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It seems as though there has been no shortage of new knitting books in the last year or two which showcase sensual designs that are meant to fit and flatter women’s figures. While I haven’t had a look at all of them, I can say pretty surely that there is something in Romantic Hand Knits for everyone – I’d be surprised if you picked up this book and didn’t find anything that appealed to you.

The book is divided into pieces ‘Above The Waist’ and ‘Below The Waist’, and then a few accessories. All of the pieces are named after film titles, emphasizing the ‘romantic’ nature of these designs as part of the stuff movie dreams and glamour-filled lives are made of. These are challenging patterns – only a handful are labelled as ‘beginner’ or ‘easy’ – which depend on a great deal of shaping, cabling, and lace work. Unlike other books which provide you with lots of attractive patterns and assume you know how to do the finishing, this book also takes you aside with a few instructional pages. Basic embroidery skills and crochet are two examples of these. The yarns used are varied, showcasing not just wool or cotton but fibers like silk, corn (the skirt on the cover – ooh la la!), and bamboo. But beware, several of these are in the pricey range – I suspect substitution will be high for many knitters with romantic tastes but tight budgets.

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The ‘Bishop’s Wife’ dress above is one of several dresses and skirts in the book. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to run out for an armload of wool/linen blend to knit this up just yet. But just the fact that I could work up a knitted dress like this using this pattern is pretty awesome. On the other end of the practicality and time commitment range, there are projects like this ‘Dark Victory’ yoked sweater pattern. I think that would be a comfortable day-to-night knit, and you could customize the colour combination to suit your own wardrobe.

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In the accessories category there is a full range of knitted items – full length gloves, cashmere fingerless mitts, and yes indeed, a knitted hat. I have to say, I could really go for this ‘Gone with the Wind’ hat, pictured above. I might choose different colours, and I’d have to do some searching around to find millinery wire, but that would be a darned fun project. The ‘All About Eve’ skirt – though challenging my price point with the use of 100% silk ribbon – is gorgeous and versatile, and I love the bright pink paired with the black sashes.

Overall, these patterns are sized for almost everyone. Most of the patterns fit bust sizes up to 48/50″, including all of the dresses. However, there are two exceptions to this that make me want to bleat pitiably, because they are two of my favourite patterns in the book – and they only come in 3 sizes, with 10-12″ difference between them. The ‘Charade’ wrap sweater, and the ‘Casablanca’ off-shoulder top are elegant and look like they’d be very comfortable. But let’s say you’re a 36″-bust gal and want to go for that Casablanca top: You’re going to have to choose from a 40″ bust or a 28″ bust, and no other sizing options in between. I’d suspect that with these two patterns knitters are going to have to make some decisions about altering gauge and/or yarn to help the garments fit them as needed.

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I’m looking forward to seeing the Finished Objects that will spring up from knitters working with this book. There are lots of possibilities and I think this is an ambitious book that will challenge and excite. Sometime in the dark of winter I might just come back with an armload of wool and knit myself up a floor-length skirt, you just never know.

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Still Life with Boxes

Moving1

Well, my life isn’t incredibly ‘still’ right now, but let’s pretend it is. We’ll pretend I don’t still have craploads of writing to do (i’ve been writing during the day, I swear! agh… and am taking the evening/weekend times to pack/recharge my sanity/stare at the rubble). We’ll just pretend all these boxes are “decor”.

Tonight’s my last chance to get out to Lettuce Knit as a resident Toronto citizen. I don’t know when my next LK night will be! I’ll look forward to seeing a few of you there, I hope it doesn’t rain on us. I have needles for Em (possibly for other people, too, if she doesn’t want all of ‘em, heh) and a bag for Maryann, and a great need to be soothed by yarn.

That’s the 2nd Monkey sock up there on the boxes, waiting to be my second full pair of socks that I reel in this week – I finished the basic socks with that happy colourful Online Linie…and then stuffed ‘em in a box. ;)

Off I go to pull myself together for today and then hide in the air-conditioned refuge of the campus library. Damned thesis ain’t gonna write itself. (But oh how I wish it would.)

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Erk.

I am not going to think about the fact that I have to fill a moving van in exactly two weeks. I am not going to think about how I am going to get my dissertation draft finished before then. I am not going to dwell on all the million smaller tasks that have to get done in the meantime.

Instead I am going to think about my new Monkey socks, because therein lies courage.

Monkey1

P.S. I don’t want it to be August.

P.P.S. The above colourway is Socks That Rock ‘Mystic Kelp’, for anyone curious ;)

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