Monthly Archives: April 2009

A Toronto sort of afternoon

Yesterday I made the bold move of actually going out into the outside world for the majority of my day, although don’t get me wrong the hibernation way of life is starting to become very easy to keep up. A little too easy, one might say. That is the point when you re-emerge and start with familiar and comforting things. So naturally, I met up with Kim and we went off in search of cupcakes and yarn shops.

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We first made the streetcar trek all the way to the eastern end of Queen St, in search of the bakery Life is Sweet. I’d done some reading up and discovered this cafe has the biggest cupcake raves in the city, and Kim confirmed that review. And let me just say it was worth every minute of the trip. These cupcakes are fantastic. I bought a chocolate-chocolate and an earl grey-orange.

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We took our cupcakes down the street to the Naked Sheep, where I picked up the new Spring Interweave Knits. (I’ve decided if there are at least 3 items in an issue I could see making, I will buy it lest I be stuck without the chance later on, and this issue passes that test!) I ate my chocolate cupcake one then, and feel no shame in admitting I ate the earl grey orange one later on in the evening after I got back.

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I regret nothing.

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We stopped briefly at the Purple Purl where I snagged more of the Alpaca With A Twist from its spot on the sale rack (I mean how could you not), and then chit-chatted the ride down Queen St. with the Lettuce Knit stitch night as final stop. Kim was wearing a beautiful ‘Elsewhere’ cardigan and working on a Liesel which, in her head at least, she is totally going to have finished by Saturday. (It can be done, Kim! Keep hope alive!)

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I made some more progress on my 2nd Gentleman’s sock which has seen too infrequent work the last couple of weeks. And when I came back the cats were happy to harass me for one last evening.

Thanks for the fun hibernation/non-hibernation this week, TO, let’s do it again sometime.

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Filed under knitting in public, yarn stores

Change of pace

The last few days have been pretty slow around these parts, involving a fair amount of knitting, sitting, DVDs (X-Files renaissance ahoy), and the occasional excursion into the outside world for provisions or moderate socialization. Now that the term is ending I can actually have a proper few days of leisurely sloth, before returning to attempts to Think Thoughts or Write Things.

Knowing I’d have a few hours-long chunks of time for knitting, I brought Autumn Rose with me this week to the cat-sitting, in order to give it a solid start. I’d hoped by now to be past the first full repeat of the main motif, but still I think it’s taking shape quite well.

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This is a slight variation on the last swatch I did – I wanted the garnet heather (dark red) more prominent and I think this is going to work quite well. The combination has a very rich look overall and I’m pleased with the balance of bright and muted tones. Now…to just keep on knitting. These are long rows and lots of colours, and I’ll be adding 2-3 inches of length to the body before I’m done, so I’m expecting this to keep me busy for the next little while.

On the cat-sitting front, things are going rather well at cat pace. Boy do these cats have me marked. As soon as food hour approaches Greedo wraps himself around my ankles and moans at me, hoping for that ever elusive morsel of wet food (I have strong willpower though, and the opposable thumbs necessary to open cans, so hah). And as soon as I look like I might be sitting down and creating a lap, Somerset hovers in wait. (She has overwhelming powers of extreme cuteness, though, so there my willpower fails.)

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I have also learned that Greedo is not deterred by competition from laptops.

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Tomorrow their regular humans will be back, though, so I’ll have to go back to non-cat-hair-covered knitting. How will I manage?

Happy Wednesday, folks!

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Filed under cats, fair isle, sweaters

That was good

Yesterday was the Toronto ‘Knitter’s Frolic’, the annual weekend event organized by the Downtown Knit Collective. It is probably one of the biggest crimes of my knitting existence that I never actually went to this event while I was a resident of Toronto. But now, I see the fun and it was a good 2nd annual trip.

Of course, I made the extra dim move of bringing my camera with me but then forgetting in the car, so while I saw just about every knitter I know in the Greater Toronto Area, and fondled more delicious yarns than I could possibly purchase, this all went completely undocumented. Thankfully, though, my purchases did not.

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I had a main list of 3 stops I wanted to make, and one of them was Wellington Fibres. From them I snagged some beautiful grey mohair/wool laceweight, and most importantly, a skein of 3-ply worsted mohair/wool for swatching (the darker green). I’ve been thinking long and hard about making ‘Staghorn’ from A Fine Fleece, and would like to use some local yarns if possible. On my last spin through one of the vendor rooms, though, I spied another option at the All Strung Out booth, a new shop in the Guelph area. Turns out they have their own ‘Libertina’ yarn line, which includes a 3-ply mohair/wool option, also processed by Wellington Fibres as it turns out. So, I’ll ponder both of these and see how they swatch up in some cables.

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My next stop was the Naked Sheep, where Lisa was holding a Namaste Zuma bag for me. I’ve been looking at this new one online for a few months and finally caved, and asked them to bring it to the Frolic for me! After a grand total of 24 hours of use so far it’s doing well, it is much more purse-sized than handbag sized but still comfortably fits a sock bag, novel, wallet, camera, and miscellaneous doodads.

Also pictured: a Peacock Feathers Stole pattern by Fiddlesticks Knitting, (from another booth whose name I forget now, boo), and a lone skein of Manos wool from the Purple Purl. (But it’s okay – I splurged in the Purple Purl sale section when i was there on Tuesday, and may yet again this week…hmmm.) Those Purple Purl ladies, though, they know how to do up a festival booth. The sales and selections were running rampant and the temptation factor was high.

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The third stop on my list was most definitely Tanis Fiber Arts. I was thrilled that Tanis came to the Frolic this year, as her yarns are quickly becoming some of my favourites. She brought her full selection of aran, fingering, and – new! – laceweight. I took a long time to decide on a laceweight colour and nearly took more than one, but eventually decided on a ‘stormy’ blue laceweight and a ‘plum’ purple thrummed mitten kit. I also wore my completed Oyster Bay shawl in her fingering weight, and was pleased to show it to her in person.

It’s fun to be all about the yarn some days, even if the wallet does groan a little bit. And now, I’m a temporary Toronto resident for a few days and have taken up cat-sitting duties at Lisa‘s place. Greedo and Somerset are not all about the yarn, however, they are more about food, and laps, and sleeping, and ensuring a minimum level of cat hair content in one’s knitting, so that’s a good speed to live at too. A person could get used to that. I’m hoping to get out to some Toronto knitting nights this week, and do a bit of city exploring!

And more than a bit of knitting is on the list too – I have officially started Autumn Rose. So much to do, so little time! Happy knitting this Sunday.

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Treats

It’s fun to have a sister who goes off to NYC and comes back with knitterly treats. (I checked, she did get some for herself, too). And some special Lindors…

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Now my problem is what to do with 500 yards of DK-weight emerald green silk…But as problems go, I would say that’s a pretty awesome one to have. (That’s Alchemy silk right there. Sis did wisely say that she rescued it from a sale bin – a move of which I heartily approve.)

The grading is almost done (at this point, agonizingly slow this close to the finish, but it’s so close), the book review books are starting to stack up, and I am chomping at the bit to start some sweater knitting, shawl knitting, sock knitting…all kinds of knitting. The Knitter’s Frolic this weekend could be dangerous.

I hope you’ve got some knitterly treats of your own close by! Happy Wednesday.

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Better

I think swatch #3 might be the one. If this isn’t the final combination for Autumn Rose, then it is sure as heck darned close.

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This final one uses only 10 shades total instead of 11 – I’m being hampered by the limited KP Palette range in that there are very few options in the dark red area (I would have preferred a 3rd reddish/brownish shade in the middle of the cross-hatching panel, but went with the dark heathered purple instead), but I think this is as good as I’m going to get.

So now I’ll just let that sit there for a week or so while I ponder and finish up a couple of other projects, and then cast on when I’m down to a satisfactory level of indecision.

It’s good to be fair-isling again.

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Trusting the Process

Swatching is a bit part of knitting (and getting knitting right), and as such is a constant and necessary task. In fact, if I were to make my list of Times When Swatching Is Necessary, Nay, Imperative, I’d start with:

1. When you’re knitting with a yarn or stitch pattern that is new to you and you need to know how it behaves on your needles, particularly for gauge purposes.

Still, I continue to be more convinced than ever that swatching for gauge is almost beside the point. To wit:

2. When you really want to start the project but you don’t want/need to actually start the project yet. (See Sublist: Dealing with Startitis).

But most importantly for this week in my knitting life:

3. When you are knitting a stranded colourwork project in no fewer than 11 shades and stubbornly refuse to go with the pattern’s prescribed combination.

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This is all a roundabout way of saying I am swatching for Autumn Rose, and it’s all going wonderfully indecisively. For the last year I’ve been saying to myself I was going to start this sweater. I even flirted with the idea of making it for Rhinebeck last year, but the Cabled Swing Cardigan turned out so nicely and besides…there was the indecision.

I have more Knit Picks Palette fingering weight than one person reasonably needs, I could easily make three Autumn Roses in all different combinations, but deciding on a colour scheme has been what’s held me back the most. I started swatching for this project back sometime in late 2008, but knew there would need to be more swatches to come. (And yep, I’ve seen the other 3 suggested schemes put out by Knit Picks in the fall of 2008. Did I mention my stubbornness?)

So that brings us to this week, when I saw Elspeth queued up Autumn Rose on her Ravelry, I summarily harassed her about it, she threw down the gauntlet by stating this was going to be her 2009 Rhinebeck Sweater #1 (because yes, she makes more than one Rhinebeck sweater), and some sort of switch flipped in my brain and I knew I had to get back on this. Because Elspeth is a teeny tiny little person who also knits like the wind, and the thought of watching her zip through the (potential) sweater of my dreams while my yarn gathered more dust was just too much to handle.

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And so I am back to the swatching. I spent more hours than I would care to admit yesterday working on the swatches. It is true that there may have been some avoidance of the grading (oh god don’t make me face another stack of exams…aghldhlhglddlhgkl), but mostly I just want to decide on a frakking colour scheme already.

I’m close, I’m getting very close. I’m using, from the Palette arsenal, a collection of purples, reds, and greens, in what, in my head at least, calls up images of a beautiful art deco garden or stained glass window. It pains me to admit that there is going to need to be at least one more swatch before I can finally nail down a scheme. I think the final decision will be some combination of the two swatches above, but slightly more like the second of the two (also pictured here below). The lipstick pink in the bottom of the first swatch is right out, and the third will incorporate some further fine-tuning of the cross-hatching panel colours and the outer shades of the ‘rose’, and use the duller green in the top half of the second instead of the paler shade used in the bottom.

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And if you’ve followed me this far, allow me to pause for a moment and just say how much I love the brightness of the middle section. I could stare at it all day. It makes me think of sun shining through windows, which is not only attractive in a colourwork pattern but also very appropriate for something to knit in the spring. My term is inching towards being finished and I can just about see the respite at the end.

Respite which will, hopefully, be composed of knitting and not just swatching. And I bet that Elspeth already has her colours decided, Drat.

Onwards, yes? Yes.

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Filed under fair isle, swatching, sweaters

Meanest knitter in the West

That Glenna C, I hear she’s ruthless. I heard she ripped up a sock once, just to watch it unravel.

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“It just wasn’t fitting right,” she claimed. “I shouldn’t have removed all those stitches at the start. I have size 11 feet and all that ribbing was coming out pretty darned snug on the 2mms.”

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The sock’s current whereabouts are unknown.

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Filed under socks