Monthly Archives: October 2009

So far so good.

The yarn-ish part of Rhinebeck is now complete.

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But thankfully the people part of Rhinebeck is still going. Totally jazzed to be hanging with Elspeth and her peeps for dinner tonight. More tomorrow!

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In New York, quickly

1. After a self-shortened but tiring work week I made it yesterday afternoon to New York City, in happy anticipation of Rhinebeck this weekend. Very excited about Rhinebeck. Less excited about the pouring rain of yesterday.

2. But apparently Southern Ontario is already getting snow, and I am conflicted about whether I prefer the rain.

3. I am still so indecisive that I wound up not one but two colourways of my Lorna’s Laces (the Jimmy’s Journey and Vera) to choose for my next pair of Jaywalkers.

4. And then bought more at Knitty City anyway. (Valentine and Montrose. Mmmm, Lorna’s Laces)

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5. Also arrived yesterday in time to finally pay a visit to the Guggenheim museum.

6. Fun fact: Did you know the Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays?

7. However, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not closed, is just down the street from the Guggenheim, and has a cool Vermeer exhibit and newly re-opened American Wing, where you can finally go see that cool Tiffany glass window and all the neato sculptures.

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8. I finished Cassidy in time to bring along for Rhinebeck backup, which may have been better foresight than I realized since it’s made with Ultra Alpaca and reports are calling for actual snow on Saturday. But it still wants buttons and a proper photographing.

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9. So I spent a couple of frantic days of knitting time before I left making up a Slouchy Copy Cat beret so that I would have a Rhinebeck hand-knit that I could actually show off on the outside of my coat.

10. But it turns out Rebecca’s kitty liked it too so I haven’t been able to photograph it properly yet either.

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11. Am now frantically trying to finish a scarf to match. Some would say folly, I would say “ambitious.”

12. Will now commence attempt to insert self fully into knitting world and forget this “real world” everyone talks about. Rhinebeck, here I come!

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Socks on Sunday

Thank you all so much for your comments on my last post. It is wonderful to hear from so many people who want to get into the world of sock knitting – after all, sock knitting has pretty much transformed my own knitting life! With the help of a random number generator, I am pleased to announce the winner of the copy of the Big Book of Socks is….Kathleen! An email has been sent to her and the book will be headed her way.

Speaking of sock yarn, I’m pondering which of my stashed Lorna’s Laces to pull out for my next transit-knitting pair of Jaywalkers. Clearly when I said my next pair was not going to be anywhere in the purple or red or green area, I was on the crack. It’s so hard to choose…

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This is how it starts, folks. One day you’re innocently knitting your first pair of socks, and then suddenly you have to start sub-categorizing your yarn stash not just according to yarn weight, but different brands of yarn weight.

Not that you’ll hear me complaining, of course.

It’s gearing up for Thanksgiving time around these parts, or certainly around my house. Technically Canada celebrates Thanksgiving tomorrow but like many our family feasts on the Sunday. If you’re in the ‘top half’ of North America, Happy Thanksgiving! And a happy weekend to all, nonetheless.

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Book Review: The Big Book of Socks

When you’re a knitter, there is just a whole darned lot to love about fall. I love that I can break out all my hoarded socks and sweaters that have been waiting to come out again ever since May, I love that wool feels cozy in my hands again…and I love that there are new knitting books on the shelves coming my way for review. I’m pleased again to be keeping up with a bit of blog book reviews. The fine folks at Random House Canada are good enough to continue sending a few titles my way, and I thank them for it!

Today, I have a few review comments on The Big Book of Socks, by Kathleen Taylor:

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If you’re a knit-blogger, or a knitter who is a blog-reader or Ravelry user, chances are you are familiar with socks in some fashion. Socks are the little black dress of the knitting world – good for all knitting occasions. Either you’ve knitted them yourself, or you’ve at least been exposed to them enough that you’ve probably started to think about knitting your first pair. You probably don’t need me to tell you why socks are awesome to knit and to wear.

It’s also true that there is no shortage of sock knitting books out there in print, so it can be difficult to tell one apart from the other. It took me a bit of time to consider The Big Book of Socks for where it fits in, because at first glance it may seem a bit simplistic in light of other sock efforts – Ravelry and the blogosphere abound with sock patterns of intricate complexity, some that seem to push the boundaries of knitting. These things, however, are not what The Big Book of Socks is trying to accomplish.

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I think where this book fits in is for the knitter who has not tried sock knitting before, and needs a gentle and progressive introduction to it, or for the knitter who wants to knit socks as gifts for family members or friends, but needs some variety in basic options. There is a very brief introduction to the world of sock knitting in general, with some short notes paid to the differences between a few techniques, and then six different kinds of socks: Basic, Striped, Textured and Cabled, Lace, Colorwork, and ‘Just for Fun’. Essentially, this book takes you through a mini workshop whereby you gradually apply slightly more adventurous techniques to the whole sock concept. Most patterns are sized from wee child on up to male adult.

This starts out with, surprisingly, tube socks. It’s been a long darned time since I saw anyone recommend knitting tube socks (essentially, tubes with toes but no heels), but Kathleen Taylor makes the point that these can be ideal for small children whose feet grow quickly. I imagine they might also be a gentle step up for new sock knitters who are just getting used to the whole in-the-round thing first, and the heel second.

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Never fear, though, for this book does in fact progress to heel flaps and short row heels. (Generally the patterns are written for cuff-down knitting). As the chapters progress, the socks become slightly more adventurous and introduce the knitter to new techniques – lace, cables, bobbles, beads, stranded colourwork, all of these are included in turn. I quite like these simple lace socks, above, and there are even one or two pairs with bobbles on them that I would make as a fun pair. You know I’m a fan of colourwork, and I admit I was quite taken with the two-colour mosaic socks, below.

The yarns included in the samples will also be familiar to most people who look through the book – they include well-known American labels such as Knit Picks, Patons, Blue Moon, Berroco, and a few others. This also makes me think the book was produced with accessibility in mind, since these kinds of recognizeable labels can be pretty easy to locate.

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So, I think that while a lot of experienced knitters will probably glance at this book and then put it back on the shelf, it may be just right for others. Do you know a knitter who hasn’t yet embarked on his/her sock knitting adventure? Or are you that knitter? If so, you just might be an ideal recipient for this book.

I’m happy to pass on my copy to a sock knitter or would-be sock knitter out there. If you’d like to put your name into the ring, please comment below and tell me why you enjoy/would enjoy sock knitting. The more sock knitters, the merrier!

[ETA]: I should have included a deadline! I’ll accept comments to this post through Saturday midnight, and will draw a winning name some time on Sunday. Thank you to everyone who has left a comment so far! It is lovely to read them.

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If Only.

My friends, the time draws ever closer to that exalted weekend of the year, the New York Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck, New York. I am thrilled to bits to be attending for a third year in a row, can’t wait to see all the people who will be there, and comfort myself in procrastinatory moments at my desk with warm wooly thoughts of the event to come. We are now in single-digit countdown of days to go.

If only I could somehow manage to convince my campus that a teeny little weekend really isn’t enough, that wooly gatherings such as these really do require one to take a bit of recovery time afterwards.

Kim, you’re so helpful. Thanks for having my back.

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Stranded again

On Saturday afternoon I was merrily engaged in another Advanced Level Knitting Technique: In-Transit Stranded Colour-work. (Because really, if you’re not working up a colour-work hat while crammed onto a commuter bus sailing down the highway towards the big city, I just don’t think you’re as committed to this whole “knitting” thing as you should be.)

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I please myself to say I executed most of the crown shaping on that bus ride without any dropped stitches (though sadly my cute dragonfly stitch marker was the casualty…It was clearly the sacrifice the knitting fates were looking for and I had lost it by the end of the ride). But of course, this being colour-work and all, my eyes were pretty well glued to the knitting and I totally missed out on the degree of weirded-out glances I undoubtedly received.

This is the Beaumont tam, from Jared Flood’s recently released Made in Brooklyn booklet. It is a beautiful pattern and relatively quick to execute as colour-work projects go. And though this was the first time I’d worked with the project-specified yarn, Classic Elite Fresco, I doubt it will be the last. It’s soft, the colour selection is great, and it’s got bunny in it (10% angora/30% baby alpaca/60% wool), and I will definitely need one of these hats for myself somewhere down the road.

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Because yes, this hat is no longer in my hands but lives with the fabulous ladies of the Purple Purl. The last time I was in the shop, Miko somehow managed to walk me over to the Fresco and hold me in thrall long enough to convince me to knit them up a Beaumont, and I left the shop with the ribbing already on the needles and a vague sense that I had somehow gotten myself hosed.

But naturally, I say this with love, because sample knitting is a very rare thing for me (aka “what do you mean I have to do all this knitting and time and don’t even get to KEEP IT FOR ME ME ME ALL ME” sort of knitting), but it’s very easy to do when you love the home that the knitting is going to. I’m just so super happy that the Purple Purl is about to turn Two Years Old. It feels like they’ve been around a whole lot longer than that, and I hope they never leave. Even though it takes me an hour and a half to get there, they are the store that feels most like my Local Yarn Shop.

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Do you have a beloved Local Yarn Shop? What fabulous things have happened at your LYS lately?

Have a fantabulous Sunday evening, and hopefully a manageable Monday ahead!

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