Monthly Archives: December 2008

True Story

This afternoon, I went into Toronto. I walked from Union Station to Queen St while perusing the underground shops in the PATH, met up with Lisa, checked out some yarn shops, ate some nachos, finished a sock

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…ogled some new yarn

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…had a nap on the bus ride home, and am now deciding between pouring a drink or pouring a bubble bath.

I’m going to miss the holidays.

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No Pictures, Just Questions

1. Is it possible to slow down time and make the next week last forever? Thoughts of term starting are creeping into my brain and man, knitting thoughts are so much more fun.

2. Why does the last gift always take so long? It’s just one pair of mittens and I’ve been dragging it out like death warmed over when actually the yarn is extremely nice. Whip me into shape, blog friends.

3. Is there anything more fun than my sister‘s new Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Dance Party 2 game for Wii? Because if I had realized sooner how much fun Wii actually is for grownups I would have jumped on that bandwagon a whole lot sooner.

4. Why are the cats all trying to kill each other when all I have to do is watch them for two more days?

5. Why is it suddenly 10C and rainy when a week ago it was -10C and blizzarding?

6. Perhaps most importantly, why haven’t I located my camera?

I hope everyone out there in blogland is having/has had a great holiday and the last days of 2008 are worthwhile. I’m starting to think ahead to 2009 and things I’d like to do. Think of the knits that await.

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These cats have good taste

Ramona has HER winter sweater all picked out. (Beatrice has been evicted from the sweater spot.)

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It’s a good thing I have others. I also have some presents that need to be knitted bought wrapped, so I should probably get on that tomorrow.

Happy last-minute prep!

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Now (temporarily) with 300% more cat

What with the holiday season and all, I am back for a stint with my former roomie from last winter, Miss Beatrice the kitty, while her regular humans are travelling. Luckily it’s not far from my own homestead, so I can have the kitty time as well as all regular Christmas to-doing. Of course, since I was here last winter Beez has acquired two new young companions, so the dynamic isn’t completely the same. But since all three of them are adorable in their own right I can hardly hold that against them.

Beez approves of my Halcyon, now out for winter wear:

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The big story around these parts, though, is the snow. Between today’s blizzard and the one predicted for Sunday we are supposed to get around 50 cm (almost 20 inches), so we are guaranteed the White Christmas as well as quite a bit of snow-shovelling. I let the cats out in the beginnings of it for about four minutes this morning before they decided to heck with this, but there was a while where young Ramona was enjoying chasing…well, chasing whatever it is cats chase. Snowflakes? Blowing leaves? Air?

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As one might well imagine, there’s some hibernation in store for today. Stay warm!

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Can’t fight a love like this

If, like me, you are slowly inching towards holiday time by trying to finish knitted things, trying to finish bits of pre-holiday work (agonizing, I tells ya), trying to remember if you have everyone’s presents accounted for, or are perhaps generally feeling a little sluggish and prone to over-pondering the state of the world, then please accept this humble suggestion.

Go find whatever scraps of yarn which are sitting right now in a bag in your stash waiting for a Useful Moment, grab that handful of corks that are at this very minute sitting in an empty jar in your pantry waiting for Another Useful Moment, and make some of these little dudes.

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Seriously, they are good for what ails you. At first you might, admittedly, feel more than a little foolish knitting tiny hats and sweaters for corks, but as soon as you get out the black Sharpie and give them eyes, well. It’s pretty ridiculous how awesome they are to look at. I made quite a few of these wee ones last year, over 50 in fact, and over the past couple of weeks have been gradually growing a new little flock. We’ll see how big it gets this season.

Now, the one possible downside is that it is hard to make any of these without corks. There is one very easy way to fix this, of course, and said method may also help contribute to increased holiday cheer. I leave the decision up to you.

I hope all of you out there in blog-land are doing well! Have some cookies and hot chocolate for me.

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Filed under holiday knitting, korknisse

Everlasting Love

My love for Noro, it continues unabated.

These two skeins of Silk Garden Sock decided that they did not, in fact, wish to be socks, but a garter ridge scarf instead. How could I say no to this face?

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I cast on on Friday afternoon while hanging at the Purple Purl with Martha and Lisa, after a very leisurely tour of Queen St. and Indian buffet lunch. (Mental note: do this more often). I put pedal to the medal (aided in large part by Second Sock Syndrome on some gift socks), and finished it up on Tuesday.

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I cast on 370 sts on a 4.0mm circular needle, and alternated yarns every 5 rows. I combined shades #252 (black/blue/green) and #87 (pretty much every colour there is), stopped when I thought it was OK, and I love the effect. There was some minor surgery involved, admittedly. I yanked out some of the green section of the #252, as it was a bright shade that clashed a bit too much with the yellowish green of #87. Other than that, smooth sailing. It’s long enough to loop comfortably once around my neck and still have some ends hanging to my waist.

I’d do this again in about two seconds flat with the regular Noro Silk Garden, for a chunkier “real” scarf. This scarf is slim for an accessory style scarf to pair with a sweater or jacket, which is something I’ve been wanting to knit for ages and ages. There’s a bit of each shade leftover and I’m starting to be hopeful that it might be enough for a wee striped beret or similar. Time will tell! In the meantime I had better get some more gift knitting off of my conscience.

How’s your December knitting going?

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Filed under finished object: accessories

Book Review: Knitting for Good

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a short while, you know that I tend to consider my knitting a relatively selfish pursuit. By ‘selfish’ I mean that I mostly (though not exclusively – my sock-knitting list and current Christmas knitting are testaments to that) tend to knit things for myself, and I orient myself towards knitting based on what I want to make and what I will get out of it. I am generally pretty comfortable with this. Here is why.

I came to knitting at the beginning of the 5-year journey that was the completion of my PhD, and it made a lot of sense to me because unlike the long, often isolating and distressing, and very nebulous experience of finishing a degree, knitting was extremely gratifying because it gave me a sense of accomplishment (I could quite literally see my progress, then wear or use the results almost instantly), and small boosts of confidence (there was once a time when I was alternately afraid of cables, socks, fair isle, and big enormous commitment-heavy blankets. Now my knitting eats fair isle for breakfast. HAH).

I also came to knitting at a time when I was coming to the end of a long series of commitments within my membership of an organization highly dedicated to volunteer work. I did this work for so many years because I believed it was good work (and I still do), but I came to the point of needing to step away. It had become something that exhausted me and for which I could no longer explain my motivation. I was spending huge amounts of my own time, energy, and sense of self doing something that I wasn’t fully committed to, and I needed a time-out. Knitting filled that void. With knitting I could be as self-directed as I wished, set my own challenges, and even connect to other human beings outside of my own living room, whether in person or online. Knitting has connected me to a great many of the friends I have now. It has also meant that I can wear handmade socks and sweaters every single day of the fall and winter. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a commercial pair of wool socks.

I buy a lot of yarn. By ‘a lot’, I mean that, while I don’t buy it every week, yarn is the consumer product that I purchase more often than anything else (even clothing), I have more yarn than one knitter reasonably needs, my sock yarn basket overfloweth, and if I didn’t see the inside of a yarn shop for the next few years I would probably manage just fine. Although I occasionally still shop from discount retailers (have I told you about my arsenal of Knit Picks Palette stash that will quite possibly never get smaller?), more and more often I purchase from smaller local yarn shops in Toronto or on my travels. This is a balance that works for me, personally.

So, why am I telling you all of this in a post that is labelled as a book review? It is because the book in question is a book that will start you thinking about what your personal knitting story is, and whether or not you would like to change it. This book is Knitting for Good!, by Betsy Greer.

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This book is written in three sections: Knitting for Yourself, Knitting for Your Community, and Knitting for the World. Greer writes very much from the perspective of her own trajectory of knitting, and each section is filtered through her own stories as well as those of other knitters she has consulted in the process of writing the book. These other stories are, I would argue, some of the high points of the book. There is one story, for example, of a woman who started a project to knit cozies for walking canes, because when she covered her own walking cane with knitting it immediately changed the way people perceived her disability. Another is from a woman who lived for a year on the barter system and learned a lot about contemporary cultures of consumption as a result.

Many of us in the knitting blogosphere are already familiar with much of what Greer writes in the first and second sections of this book. We know that knitting can be a gateway to self-confidence and meditative action. We know that the DIY experience is about more than the sum of its parts, and that creating handmade items can stand in direct contrast to the consumer culture we live in. We know that knitting is about more than individual human beings working in isolation. We know that knitting is often representative of contemporary feminist identity, as an affirmation of the significance of traditionally domestic activity and the power of collective action. We know that knitters can be extremely generous people. We know that knitters are capable of effecting great change at multiple scales.

As a result, I found myself reading the first several chapters and thinking, “I know this. Tell me something I don’t know.” By the time I reached the end of the book, however, I came to the conclusion that even if much of this is repetitive, it is still worth repeating. The ultimate statement behind this book is to consider how the ‘personal is political’ is relevant to the world of knitting, and if I’m being honest with myself I know that just because I agree that this statement is true, it doesn’t mean that I actually think about it all the time when I’m knitting.

This is a short and reflective read, and I think it would be an interesting gift for knitters who are perhaps less “connected” than others, and who are open to thinking about knitting beyond the skills they are learning. It might also be an effective “recruitment tool” into knitting for people who are interested in the world of craft and community, but who haven’t yet been introduced to knitting. There are even a few simple patterns scattered throughout the book, for things like blankets, hats, and socks.

Greer asks her readers – in the third section especially – to consider how knitting fits into the contemporary consumer world, and how the potentially isolating act of knitting individually can be transformed into local and global activism. It is very hard to be presented with questions about these sorts of things and not start to answer them for yourself as you read. And, just because the questions are familiar doesn’t mean that I’ve come up with an answer yet for myself. I’m going to work on that.

Still to come in book reviews: ‘Continuous Cables’, and ‘Shear Spirit’.

May your knitting be close by!

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