Monthly Archives: November 2008

So What Does it all Mean?

Have you had your daily dose of vertigo today?

Knitting is supposedly making us smarter, though. Get on those mittens. BILLIONS of them.

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And suddenly it was winter

This Saturday my sister and I and friend P hit the road for a day trip to Stratford. (The one in Ontario, sadly not the one in England). We’ve all been there often enough during the summer and fall when the theatre season is on, but since we’d never been in the non-theatre months and since November always has that vaguely dreary quality of oozing into the Dark Times of Winter, we wanted to break that up a bit with a jaunt. So a little while ago we hatched a plan in advance to make the trip and do the non-theatre Stratford things. All you folks in the other half of North America have Thanksgiving to transition you into the cold season, but up here we did the turkey dinner thing last month and November can sort of drift by and leave you blinking and wondering if you skipped the falling leaves thing and went directly to cold and grey.

Indeed, it seems winter has arrived. We’ve had a few light snowfalls in the Lake Ontario area of the province, but over in the more western parts of the province the snowfalls haven’t been so light. We got there and wondered if we should be singing Christmas tunes. After all, it looked like this:

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We did some leisurely shopping, taking in the tea shop for some re-stocking:

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And paused to contemplate whether the Vampire Tea is available year-round or mostly on weekends when Twilight hits the theatres.

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We perused Watson’s Bazaar and noted the advice:

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And had to pause to take in the mad-skeery icicles en route to the used bookshop:

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I’m quite sure Stratford parking metres aren’t the only ones around which advise you to use only ‘valid coins’, but all the same we contemplated what sorts of ‘invalid’ ones would be potential suspects.

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We finished off at Balzac’s for some wicked awesome hot chocolate:

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And on the way home the winter sunset was pretty great:

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Maybe we’ll do it again and see what Stratford looks like on the flip side of the Darkest Times of the Year.

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Best laid plans

Last week I finished the striped gloves, and they turned out suitably pink and brown and stripey:

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They’re perfect for our current temperatures which are hovering in the just-below-and-just-above-freezing range. Not quite as warm as mittens but they’ll do the job nicely for the time being, and are darned cheerful too. I do love that Patons Classic Merino.

After that I did indeed succumb to the Noro sock yarn on Wednesday evening and started in on something with stripes and the Silk Garden Sock, but then the next day I convinced myself it just wasn’t working out and so I pulled it all out only to start on something else on Friday.

This is the Inga Hat, a very attractive free pattern that I noticed last winter but never got around to making. After finishing my gloves I wanted to make a hat with the remaining half-skeins, and since there are many Ravelry users with Inga Hats made out of Patons Classic Merino I thought I’d give it a shot. I wanted something in the same colours but not a repeat of stripes – I’m okay with matching hat & mitts, I just don’t quite want matchy-matchy, if you know what I mean.

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It looks pretty, doesn’t it? The pink and brown are still very nice, and I’m pleased with my selection of red for the stripe at the brim. I’m also pleased with my execution of the braiding at the edge there, since I’d never done that before and it’s nice to build skills every so often.

Well, pretty isn’t everything, sadly. I should have seen Warning Flag #1 when reading the pattern and it said “one size fits all”. Ahahahahahahah. Nothing in knitting is one size fits all, least of all hats, surely we have all learned this by now. I blythely increased my needle size to go from an intended head circumferece of 21″ to 23″ to sit comfortably for me, except I should have known this would alter other things about this hat.

Warning Flag #2 which I completely disregarded until it was too late was the fact that this pattern does not tell you the intended row gauge, only stitch gauge. So while it is entirely possible that if I had not increased the stitch gauge I would not have ended up with a hat 2-3 inches too long, I will really never know for sure since I’m not very clear on how long it was supposed to be in the first place. If you’re familiar with the pattern you’ll know that the decreases mirror the decreasing slope of that diamond pattern, and are thus embedded in the pattern repeat itself which makes it nearly impossible to simply decrease earlier without completely disrupting the pattern.

So at the moment I am stopped here, having just begun the decrease-every-row decreases, and have discovered a sad fate. This lovely project which was going to use up the Gloves leftovers, has eaten through the Chestnut Brown at a faster rate than the Petal Pink, and if I am going to contemplate finishing the hat, I now have to go off and get another ball of Brown of which I will probably end up with 95% still leftover – thus defeating the purpose of using up leftover yarn in the first place.

Sigh. Why, knitting? Why must you come around to kick me in the shins like this? And on a nice weekend no less.

As I see it, I have 3 options:

1) Get more yarn and finish the hat, and if it does not fit never speak of it again.

2) Get more yarn and finish the hat, and if it is too long attempt to block it with a slightly wider brim to achieve a “cloche” hat effect. (This would seem like a good option except for my fear of ending up looking like I am wearing a carpeted lampshade on my head.)

3) Pull it all out and knit something else. (This would seem very reasonable also except for my woe over having spent 2 days’ worth of knitting time only to have it erased.)

None of these options are particularly appealing to me, especially since it is now cold and snowy outside and I still have no hat to go with my gloves. I may have to just stuff it back in its project bag where it can think about its crimes, and hope that my start-itis returns to vanquish the where-is-my-knitting-motivation-itis that seems to have taken its place.

But in good news, it IS Sunday. Pass the hot chocolate.

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Filed under accessories, finished object: accessories

Wednesdays are for Coveting your Stash

Who else wants to cancel all their plans and to-do list and knit Noro socks instead? Come on, we’ll bake cookies and make a day of it.

No? Just me?

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I’ll just be over here by the DPNs if anyone needs me.

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Like Knitting with Chocolate

I’ve spent the last month considering my colour habits in knitting, specifically my relationship with the colour brown. (Well, I’ve done other things in the last month, too, but you understand). In all my colour selections in the past I’ve tended to avoid brown just as an impulse, because I usually associate it with all the other earthy tones like mustard yellow and rusty orange and reds that veer dangerously close to those first two sorts of shades. I like purples, pinkish reds, teals, and blues, and that’s that.

My Cabled Swing Cardi for Rhinebeck was the first point of re-consideration, and as a last-minute Rhinebeck knit I made up a second pair of Maine Morning Mitts in the pink-and-purple-o-riffic shade of Noro Silk Garden #251. And it finally sunk in that brown doesn’t always have to sit next to rusty earth tones, and that perhaps it is actually a pretty nice mix with the purples and reds and teals that I already love.

That same weekend I cast on for this pair of Jaywalkers, and my suspicions were confirmed:

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This is my 3rd pair of Jaywalkers in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock (5th pair overall), in the curiously named colourway of “Pilsen”. Whenever I’ve taken them out with me as travel knitting, they’ve received compliments and inquiries about the yarn, which I definitely take as a good sign. If brown can interact with these shades then I’m a fan. It’s not rust, it reminds me of truffles or berries dipped in chocolate, or layer cakes with cream and raspberries piled on top.

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So I decided to put my new appreciation of brown to the test on another small canvas, as I simultaneously gave in to the comforting wall of Patons Classic Merino on a recent yarn trip. I always look at the wall of Patons Classic with such longing and hope, because it’s a pretty stand-up basic yarn and does the trick for just about anything you want, even if it does lack some of the sturdiness of lanolin-y sheepswool. I am always left with the compulsion to walk out with an armload of it for a sweater but I always resist. And you know, it turns out gloves are pretty satisfying too:

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This is the glove pattern from Patons leaflet #1159, ‘Convertibles, Gloves, and Nordic Mittens’, which I’ve used a few times now and keep going back to because I like the snug use of 3.25mm needles combined with the Patons Classic, and geekily I like the way the thumb gusset is constructed. Sadly I think this is now out of print, but if you ever do come across one of these pattern leaflets I recommend it. I’m combining the shades ‘Petal Pink’ and ‘Chestnut Brown’ by alternating stripes every 3 rows, and so far I couldn’t be happier.

And with that, Monday greets me and I must spend some time doing things other than knitting. What’s on your needles for the winter?

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Filed under accessories, finished object: socks, socks

One more thing

It hit me that I never did do the “rest of it” photos post from my New York City trip in October. Sure, Rhinebeck and wool festivals are well and good, but I’ve heard rumours that it’s possible to experience NYC without buying yarn. (I’ve heard).

This isn’t to say that we didn’t do a bit of that too, though. On Friday afternoon we went up to Knitty City (after stuffing ourselves with sandwiches and scones at Alice’s Tea Cup…whose Upper West Side establishment is lovely but whose Upper East Side location was sadly filled with screaming birthday parties and which I cannot recommend nearly as much), then headed up to the yarn.

I really do love Knitty City. Their yarn selection is great and they have such a combination of knowledge and patience and friendship that you just can’t manufacture. I’ve only been there twice now and yet I feel like it’s been many more visits than that.

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On Friday evening we walked through Grand Central Station. It really is both grand, and central.

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On Sunday, in our post-Rhinebeck states, Rebecca took us up to the Cloisters. It’s a bit of a trek to get up there, but we really did luck out and had the perfect day to do it, weather-wise. It’s a lovely spot, sort of beautiful and bizarre at the same time. It’s a real cloister…and yet not a real cloister. Tranquil and serene, yet purposefully constructed. Fascinating.

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The flagship pieces of artwork are the ‘unicorn’ tapestries, all of which will change your idea of what it is possible to create with little bits of string.

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We left the tapestries room thinking things along the lines of, “you know if you’re not working at a gauge of twenty stitches to the inch, you’re just not trying hard enough,” and “gee fair isle looks pretty frickin’ easy right about now.”

When you go to either the Cloisters or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you are granted free admission to the other site on the same day. Well, we weren’t going to turn down that kind of challenge. We didn’t let the early Sunday closing time stop us, and got back down to the Met in time to sneak into the temporary American Wing before it closed. (This is the stuff I didn’t see the last time).

Ahhh, Tiffany Glass, just what I was missing in my life:

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This was the spot that I enjoyed the most, and now that the trip was a month ago I can’t remember all of the artist details, except to say that this was a circular room which had 2 semi-circular murals painted to fit. They showed (I believe) the gardens from Versailles, and you could stand in the room and feel surrounded by the gardens.

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Pretty darned brilliant if you ask me. I could have sat there for ages. Too bad they hustled us out right after that. At least the reflecting pool by the Temple of Dendur was on the way out:

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Thanks, New York! Let’s do it again sometime.

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Things November brings

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, Armistice Day and Veteran’s Day elsewhere. I’ve got my poppy stuck on my sweater today and will try to fasten a second one to my coat as securely as possible before I dash out the door. So far I think I have managed to only lose one this season, though, so I’m doing pretty well on the poppy count. This morning I listened to the broadcast of the service from Ottawa and was reminded during the interview afterwards with Paul Gross that I have got to get out there and see Passchendale while it’s still there.

Remembrance Day is almost mid-November and it always makes me think of the weather of past seasons; I can recall past years when we’ve had snow on the ground at this point, and some that have required very little warm clothing at all. This year, though, the cold is starting to settle just above freezing, and the knitted accessories are going to have to come on out of hiding. I intend to start more hats and mittens asap…just as soon as I finish this one little thing:

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Twist is almost finished, she just needs sleeves attached and some buttons and a good blocking. Then this wonderful sheepy warm garment shall be mine to help keep the chill away.

Mmm, squishy unblocked cables, mmm…

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Happy knitting today.

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More knitting minutiae that you may need to know

Today I met a knitter on a city bus, who turned out to be Michelle. I recognized her as a knitter right away since she was wearing a beautifully executed Kauni cardigan, and we chatted a bit but of course as the fates would have it I did not have my camera and alas, the encounter goes undocumented. But still! We knitters, we live in a wonderful and bizarre world that contains such encounters.

I’ve been having one of those weeks where all of a sudden a week has gone by and I do not quite understand how it could have gone by, because I’m not entirely sure what I have to show for it. Also, my camera and I are in a bit of a disagreement right now (it says it has no memory, I say YES YOU DO, but alas the disagreement continues), so I am unable to give you any photo-documentation in this upcoming list of Seven Things About Me (Steph did hers with photos because she is cool). But I did think it would be fun to make a Seven Knitting Things About Me list to make it a bit topical for the blog, so here we go:

Seven Knitting Things About Me

1. I keep all bits of yarn, even the tiny little ends I snip off from sewing in after finishing. I save them up in a little box because I learned, while sharing a house with Miss Beatrice the Cat, that little bits of yarn make excellent squishy wooly stuffing for cat toys.

2. I avoid kitchener stitch like the plague. Every single pair of socks I have ever knitted top-down (except for the very first pair), I have finished by fully binding off the last sts on the toe, then grafting the bound-off stitches closed with the end of yarn. it does add a bit more agonizing time to finishing, but hey, it gives me a bit sturdier toe to work with, it looks exactly the same, and I get to continue avoiding kitchener stitch, lalalalalala….

3. In my knitting kit (a zippered, sturdy, rectangular pencil case purchased at IKEA), you will find:
– a tape measure
– ends of yarn
– endless stitch markers
– scissors
– DPNs in 4 sizes from 2.25mm to 3.0mm
– a crumpled up Hershey’s kiss wrapper from that time I tried to throw it to the garbage and it bounced and missed

4. My favourite things to knit are sweaters and socks. I have started to occasionally branch out into shawls, but generally I need to be practically smacked upside the head to remember that there are in fact other useful (and generally quicker) things to knit, like oh, say, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves and wristwarmers. I’m going to try to spend November finishing the current sweater and then devoting some knitting time to accessories before instantly starting The Next Sweater.

5. The first thing I ever knitted (about 4 years ago now) was a baby blanket as a gift for a friend. So far, this is the only baby blanket I have ever knitted.

6. Sheepy wool is my yarn kryptonite. Doesn’t matter at all that I have several sweaters’ worth of sheepswool at home. Gimme.

7. I have a basket full of sock yarn that fills me with such hopeful glee with all its colours and promise of Wonderful Sock Knitting Ahead that I can’t possibly feel stash guilt over it. It’s my basket of happy colour and I don’t care how long it takes me to knit my way through it. In fact, if I did start to knit my way through it, I’d probably have to start buying more sock yarn again so that the stuff left behind would have company.

Tag! You’re it! Go ahead and post Seven Things About YOU.

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