Monthly Archives: November 2009

A little bit behind

I had meant to do the blog drawing last night but things just got away from me – I seem to be hitting an energy wall this week and it’s not even over yet. But better late than never! I have drawn random numbers 28 and 41, which corresponded to blog commenters Stacy and Susan on my last post – congratulations! They have been emailed and bags will go out to them (as soon as I get them in my own hot little hands). And thank you to everyone for your comments on my last post. It is wonderful to hear about transit knitting, it’s one of my favourite kinds of knitting.

Today I’m having an at home day and attempting bits of work, but it’s way more fun finishing up my prep for my Steeking class on Saturday. Teeny weeny sweaters for cutesy-wootsy class projects for the win!

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Oootchie coo. Adorable wee steeks.

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Book Review/Blog Tour: It’s in the Bag

Today I’ve got something new to keep me busy on the blog – a stop on a blog book tour! I was invited to be a stop on the tour for Kara Gott Warner’s book It’s In the Bag, and how could I say no? Yesterday the Fitterknitter talked about shrugs with designer Colleen Smitherman, and tomorrow Lynn Hershberger will talk about striping and colour.

As for me, my original designer interview plans ended up not coming together, so instead I’m going to chat for a bit about some projects that caught my eye, and my overall impressions of the book. And keep reading to the end for a giveaway – because what would a blog tour be without giveaways?

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Overall, this is a pretty diverse book. It is intended to showcase projects that can be easily accomplished on the go, or carried with you ‘in the bag.’ There are a range of projects from beginner basic to advanced techniques like cabling, mitered squares, even a bit of beading. There’s everything from scarves and hats to sleeveless tunics. The majority of yarns featured are recognizeable mainstream labels from North America and Europe, including Classic Elite, Mission Falls, Rowan, and Takhi Stacy Charles. There are plenty of options for kids, adults, and home knitting.

One of the projects that really caught my eye was the Uptown Chic Satchel by Cecily Glowik Macdonald, pictured above. I’ve not knitted many bags myself but I quite like the look of this one – the triangular shape at the sides would probably lend quite a bit of stability overall, and it’s worked in a bulky weight yarn (Classic Elite Duchess), which means a person probably could knit it on the go – perhaps even in a couple of bus rides! Sign me up for that.

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I’m also a fan of one of the Harlequin Socks, by Kathryn Beckerdite, one of the few sock patterns in the book but no less attractive. These are shown in Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet, but I imagine they would look good knitted up in a variety of semi-solid or possibly slightly variegated yarns. Although the photo here doesn’t show the sides as well, there is a diamond pattern running up the side of each leg, adding a degree of interest/difficulty to the ribbing. I’m actually thinking of working up a pair of these in my holiday gift knitting.

So, dear readers, this is a book you may wish to keep on your radar if you are on the lookout for collections with manageable and diverse projects. It covers a lot of bases and would be a pretty approachable book even for the relative beginner knitter.

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As a thank you to ‘blog tourists’, Kara has gifted me two drawstring Della Q bags to give away – one green, one pink. Just the right size for a small on the go project. To be eligible for one of these, please comment here and tell me about what your favourite project is to knit while you’re in transit! I’ll draw two winners at random on Wednesday evening at 5pm EST.

That’s all for today – happy knitting, and may your Monday be manageable.

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Ongoing

1. The generous folks at Canadian Living have made the Mulled Wine Mitts pattern available to everyone for free, through their website online. Go here for the free pattern goodness and knit fingerless mitts to your heart’s content! (Never fear, though, the few of you who won a copy of the magazine – it is still on its way to you! With all the additional recipe and home goodness.)

2. I am finally taking the plunge and putting on the hat of ‘knitting instructor’, and will be (perhaps unsurprisingly) teaching a class on steeking at The Purple Purl – in 2 sessions, this coming Saturday and next – and there are still a couple of spots available. Come on, you never had so much fun cutting up your knitting. All the details can be found here. And heck, if I don’t completely blow it maybe they’ll have me back to do it again. Heh.

(2b. Anyone looking for a refresher or first-time-out demo on how to knit two-handed, with one colour in each hand, would be well served with this video from the fine folks at Philosopher’s Wool. Seriously, that video is what started me on this whole crazy fair isle thing in the first place.)

3. I am continuing to knit on the striped scarf (this is 80 sts knit in the round as a tube which will later be flattened), and while I am closing in on the finish line, holy frak, people. I now remember why I hardly ever knit scarves. They feel like they’re never going to end.

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All you people who knit scarves week after week…how in the heck do you do it? I’d forgotten what this is like. I started it as a sort of palate-cleanser project, having finished a couple of thought-intensive projects and looking for something simple…but now I long for a sweater or a lace shawl, something with pieces or stages or things that change up the rhythm a little bit. Even the amusement of changing colours at random intervals is starting to wear thin.

But I know that I’ll have the warmest warm scarf that ever warmed a knitter’s neck, come winter, and for that I will persevere and finish.

I hope you’ve had some enjoyable knitting time this weekend. Onwards to the week!

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You say ‘bitch’ like it’s a bad thing

In Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia one of the cooking moments she describes is working through this one method of rice cooking which is extremely laborious and time consuming. Though reportedly tasty in the end, all the while Julie Powell is cooking it she goes through fits of yelling back at Julia Child through her cookbook, so that by the end of it her husband has dubbed the recipe ‘Bitch Rice.’

My spinning over the last couple of months has been progressing in a similar manner. It took me a month and a half to finish my 6th skein (though really it is 2 skeins), that teal blue Louet Corriedale I started spinning way back in September. I became so frustrated with the whole process that by the end of it all I could do was call it the Bitch Skein, as all it had done, seemingly, was to make my life miserable.

It took me several sessions to get anywhere near approaching moderately consistent weight; the wheel itself still refuses to settle and so the drive band still occasionally jumps right off the treadle so that I have to stop and put it back on again – or else it sits just barely at the point of jumping off the treadle and thus grinding the wheel speed to a slow slog, making it impossible for me to develop any kind of consistent treadling speed; By the time I got to the second bobbin I had to stop and start about five times when the fiber got away from me and disappeared somewhere into the fuzzy contents of the bobbin (at one point I let it sit idly for 3 weeks because i was terrified I had somehow re-started the bobbin somewhere in a new place and then when I tried plying it it would come back at me in a tangled 2-stream mess);

Then when I started plying it the lazy kate became Bitch Kate and absolutely refused to stay upright or in the same position for any more than about 30 seconds, thus once again making my attempts at plying consistency as futile as…well, something that’s really futile. And then the drive band would do its thing and jump off the treadle again.

When it was all done I couldn’t bring myself to skein it up, I just let it all sit there plied up on the 2 bobbins, in a corner as though forced into thinking about its crimes.

The thing is, though…Have you ever noticed that a lot of women who get called ‘bitch’ are usually pretty accomplished at what they do, don’t apologize for it, and still look really really good while doing it?

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Skein #6 - Louet Corriedale

Yeah. Me too.

Damnit.

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I think I’ll try defying gravity

It’s official folks, kits for the ‘Wicked’ and ‘Yellow Brick Road’ knee-high socks are now available for pre-order exclusively at The Sweet Sheep (scroll down). Michelle has been dyeing her heart out to get these ready to ship starting December 1st, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

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Each kit comes with 3 skeins of Sweet Sheep Tight Twist fingering weight, hand-dyed for these two Oz-inspired colourways. (Though I can tell you – wink wink, nudge nudge) that Michelle is not intending to stop at just two. More dyeing efforts are underway. Each kit also comes with my pattern instructions for working the knee-highs with shaping to fit legs with an upper calf circumference of between 13-18 ins. (I, incidentally, fit into the 14-15 ins calf circumference area, so that puts me about in the middle). I include several tips for achieving best fit with knee-highs: as there is absolutely no way of writing a “one-size-fits-all” knee-high pattern, many of these are guidelines that use my pattern sizing as a baseline for indicating places where modification may be likely. Know your body, and knit accordingly.

There is something classic and nostalgic about striped knee-highs that I just love, especially when combined with colours reminiscent of two of the most iconic female fictional characters of the past century. Especially with re-tellings of the Wizard of Oz through the novel Wicked and its musical adaptation, both Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West are alive and well in the modern imagination and each have more to their story than it may seem at first glance.

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I love both of these colour combinations, and I think Michelle has done a fabulous job developing relatively single-tone semi-solids which appear slightly mottled, as this really gives the stripes a velvety, textured appearance. The Yellow Brick Road set practically screams gingham and cornfields, and the Wicked set is completely unapologetic and stubborn. Which way do you want to knit your way through these stories?

As for me today, I’m at home for once and I think I have some knitting to do. Just ignore the rian clouds, lalalalaa. Happy Thursday!

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Book Review: The Knitter’s Book of Wool

Okay, so first of all, you all already own The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, right? Right? If you don’t, I’m going to assume the reason is because you a) know someone who owns it and borrow it when needed, b) have permanently absconded with the copy from your local library, or c) are Clara Parkes and therefore know everything that is in the book and therefore don’t need your own copy of it to remind you.

And if you’ve read the Knitter’s Book of Yarn, chances are you already know how wonderful it is, and therefore can guess at the awesomeness of its sequel, The Knitter’s Book of Wool.

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I’m a big fan of wool, so I’m very happy about this book. If you have ever taken a skein of wool of any kind from your stash and given it a loving squeeze or imagined in your head what you would like to knit it into, just based on touch alone, then this book is for you.

Like its predecessor, the Knitter’s Book of Wool is divided between knitting knowledge and knitting patterns. Independently, these two contributions would make a worthy publication, but here they are combined in the same volume, to make it more than simply a collection of patterns but a book that will sit in your knitting library to be consulted time and time again.

In the first four chapters, Clara Parkes takes you through ‘What is Wool’, ‘Turning Wool into Yarn’, ‘Meet the Breeds’ and ‘Plays Well With Others’. These four chapters are a pretty thorough education into what makes wool such a versatile and useable fibre. Spinners in particular will likely enjoy Chapter 3 on sheep breeds. Ever wondered what the difference is between Cormo and Merino, or Bluefaced Leicester and Border Leicester? Well, Clara will tell you. She’ll also tell you about what will happen when you blend wool with different types of fibres and what you can achieve with that yarn and why.

The patterns that accompany this fibery education are a pretty versatile collection. There are items in here that will appeal to beginners on up to seasoned knitting veterans, for women, men, children, and home. How about this Bella baby sweater, for example? Surely something that could be knitted quickly and stylishly for wee recipients.

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The adult sweaters are also accessible to a variety of skill levels, and are constructed in a way which shows off the texture of the wool being used. I like the Allegan Cardigan (by Sandi Rosner) and Comfy Cardigan (by Pam Allen), below.

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The patterns I really keep coming back to look at, though, are the shawls. There are several here, of all different construction types and using a variety of yarn weights. Just get a look at the Falling Water stole by Jane Cochran, for example. Couldn’t you see this draped at your desk chair for chilly working days, ready to accompany you right out into the brisk air over your coat? I sure could.

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Then there’s Sivia Harding’s beaded Tibetan Clouds stole, which is so beautiful that I do not see how a person could knit this without imagining herself wearing it to an elegant dinner soiree and meeting the tall dark and handsome stranger of her dreams rocking the lace like there’s no tomorrow. These last 2 stoles are the patterns I am hoping to cast on for some time soon…if the Christmas knitting doesn’t get me first, heh.

I think the best compliment a knitting book could get is that it makes me want to knit things from it right away. Clara Parkes, this is a winner.

Happy knitting!

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The first three notes just happen to be

I’ve got book reviews in the works, new projects to post about, but also the whole “work day” thing and so I have to wait at least another day to post about the things I really do want to post about…

But in the mean time I feel as though this video is so awesome that even if you have seen it already, there is absolutely no reason not to watch it again. If only everyday life had more things like this in it.

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