Monthly Archives: January 2010

The last of the knits

(At least, the last knit from 2009, that is. Heh.)

Over the holidays I was staying at the House of the Kitty Cats (a short walk away from the homestead), along with my aunt who was visiting as well as my grandfather. The kitties got food and various humans to harass, so it all worked out for all parties concerned. On the knitting front, at the time I was finishing up my lace stole but there was no way I was going to risk bringing it over to a kitty household, on the off chance that a bored and enterprising feline found her way into my knitting bag and decided to play the Let’s Rip Up Glenna’s Knitting game.

Still, I wanted to have something to knit on for a bit in the mornings and evenings while I was there, and I had 2 skeins of Cascade 220 heathers in a lovely cranberry shade, so I decided one of these would be a new winter hat. I trolled around for Beret patterns before reminding myself that I am in fact in possession of the Made In Brooklyn booklet by Jared Flood, and that just because I already made one project from it doesn’t mean I can’t still make OTHER things from it. (Anyone else get that? You knit one thing from the book/magazine and then suddenly it retreats into your blind spot? No? All right then.)

Lo and behold, I present to you the Laurel beret. It’s great. I’m getting compliments on it all over the place.

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I’m starting to embrace the knitted beret realm. I like that it lets me still have a ratty head of curls and look okay wearing a hat. The cables give this one a great deal of structure which means it doesn’t slouch nearly as much, and I’m cool with that. This is not the simplest of patterns, to be sure, but it’s worth it. I worked mine 2-3 rows at a sitting, spread out over a week.

There are a few errata which you’ll want to look up before beginning, but one that seems to have fallen through the cracks is the instructions for the bobbles – a quick check on Ravelry reveals that pretty much everyone who knits this has improvised their own bobbles because the instructions in the pattern do not give you a true bobble; I think a few rows got missed. Other than that, things are cool. I knitted the ribbing for the band on as snug a needle size as I could manage (3.0mm), and it fits me fine, but my guess is that people with smaller heads than me, and possibly fewer curls than me, may wish to eliminate 4-8 sts from the ribbing to achieve a snugger fit, then increase immediately in strategic places before beginning the pattern. (You’d want to make sure the ribbing flows well into the cables, this is the only tricky part of modifying the stitch count in this way.)

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So in conclusion, I vote ‘yes’ on cabled berets. And on matching stockinette gloves to match, which I did too, finished while in New York so that I could break these out while wandering the MoMA on New Year’s Day. (Some days it is hard to be me.)

Incidentally, I also vote ‘yes’ on supporting the development and aid organizations currently on the ground in Haiti. I give charitably multiple times a year, but it’s pretty much a no-brainer to give to people like Doctors Without Borders at times like this. 7.0 Magnitude (For comparison, the ‘Great Quake’ of 1906 in San Francisco was 7.8.) quake directly underneath the capital city in a country that already struggles at the best of times? I cannot fathom what it is like on the ground there. I hope relief efforts are swift.

Happy knitting this Thursday, my fine friends.  I think if we’ve got yarn we’re doing pretty well.

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Filed under finished object: accessories

Now to find a place to wear it

As it turns out, I finished my Tibetan Dreams stole at the end of December, one of the last finished objects of 2009. And then I realized that a lace stole is probably the least optimal knitted object to finish in the middle of winter, because then you realize you need to photograph it and any outdoor shots of you frolicking with the finished shawl draped elegantly around your shoulders are really really not going to happen in -10C temperatures. So I’ve been waiting for the opportune moment.

Happily, Lisa invited me out to the big city yesterday afternoon, for high tea at the Knit Cafe. (They do this once a month, and it is well worth it. Book in advance.) And after our tea there was a bit of a lull, and their front window was temporarily empty, and I got Lisa to snap a few pictures. (Thankfully, the Knit Cafe people did not seem to mind me draping a shawl all over their empty shop window.) I am extremely grateful. Check it out, man:

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Pattern: Tibetan Dreams stole, by Sivia Harding in ‘The Knitter’s Book of Wool.’
Yarn:
Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, in Deep Sea
Cast on: November 29, 2009
Cast off: December 27, 2009
Needles: 4.0 mm (one size up from the specs – in retrospect I could have probably done fine with the indicated 3.75mm, as the final stole turned out slightly longer than I might have liked. This is when being tall pays off.)
Notes: Can you knit a beaded stole in a month? Answer: yes, but only if you don’t knit much else, and are clinging to the project as a lifeline in the midst of grading hell. I made no modifications whatsoever to the pattern. There are, however, a few minor errata that slipped through the chart publication cracks, so do look those up before you begin this project.

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This is certainly a challenging project, well beyond beginner-basic lace, but is also a skills-building project. The lace pattern on the edges is a 20-row repeat, which will definitely ask you to step up your concentration. The central panel (worked first), also asks you to pay attention to your chart-reading skills, but I found it enjoyable to tick off the rounds one at a time as the mandala pattern blooms outwards.

Working with beads is still relatively new for me, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it – in this case the beads are applied with the use of a (0.60mm) crochet hook, on specific stitches. They are spaced out just far enough to keep a bit of interest while knitting, but not to overwhelm the shawl with a huge amount of weight. The final effect is drapey and elegant, and I’m happy with my selection of beads that are coloured similarly to the yarn.

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Allow me to assure you as well, dear blog readers, that just in case you think beauty is the same as perfection, then keep on walkin’. There are a couple of places in the edges in particular where I goofed up big time and just fudged it to make it work, and changed my stitch marker placement so that it didn’t happen again on the next repeat. (I got better). Now, I would probably have to look very very hard to find that same section with the error. I am pretty okay with this. (A good reminder in general, I feel.)

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Sivia Harding, if I didn’t know for a fact what an awesomely nice person you are, I would think you were an evil genius. Thanks for the great pattern.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and knit yourself some badass beaded lace. Best time ever.

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Filed under beads, fearless knitting, finished object: shawl, lace

Just get back up

If you’re not at all interested in slightly obnoxious yet still awesome earworms last year’s pop music hits, I won’t be offended if you keep on walking and come back tomorrow. This is one of those YouTube selections that I’ve seen so many times now that I can’t help but want to join in the re-posting of it. What can I say, I’m on day 4 of my first 5-day work week back, and I will take absolutely anything toe-tapping if it helps me make it to the weekend.

Also, despite how messed up the music industry is, I sort of love pop earworms. (Headline: no one surprised.)

Happy Thursday, my knitting friends.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Looking back, looking forward

Knitting-wise, 2009 was a fairly expansive year for me. I didn’t do everything that I wanted to do (somehow I thought I would have produced more than 5 sweaters…pardon me while I polish my ambition), but I did do quite a bit. I delved into pattern sale publishing for the first time with the Viper Pilots socks, and now more than a hundred other knitters have been tortured challenged by that pattern just as I challenged myself to produce them. I taught a knitting class for the first time, and attended many others thanks to the wondrous event that the Sock Summit was. I saw myself published in print for the first time, in Canadian Living magazine. I started partnering with Canadian dyers Tanis and Michelle for some design collaborations, and look forward to working with them again in 2010. I learned to spin and purchased my own wheel. It’s been a good year as far as fiber crafts go.

Every year I do a roundup of my Finished Objects, and every year it always feels a bit like the year end comes too soon, like…wait! I wasn’t done yet! I had at least 3 more pairs of socks and half a sweater left in me! Come back, 2009! But the calendar must tick over as it always does, and as we’re not quite a full week into 2010, I still feel good putting up a few images here for posterity – not a complete list this time, as this time I like letting some of the bright pictures just speak for themselves. Thanks for the knits, 2009.

2009 Knitting

The Finished Objects of 2009 (a few of which still need proper photographing) reel in at 13 accessories (mitts, hats, scarves), 4 shawls, 6 sweaters (if you count the baby-sized one from my steeking class, heh heh), and 16 pairs of socks, for a total of 39 finished objects. This is a few more than I accomplished in 2009, but becoming more broadly spread out – fewer sweaters but more accessories and a couple more shawls than last year. I think I need to finally divest myself of my assumption that I am a ‘sweater knitter’ and recognize that I am an ‘anything that challenges me the right way’ sort of knitter.

I also took up spinning this past year (that is, on a wheel), and I realize with a start that it has been a few weeks since I’ve even touched my poor Majacraft Little Gem. It would be a shame to waste the momentum I had coming through the summer and fall as I started to get the hang of the whole process. Let’s make that a goal for 2010: dedicated spinning time.

2009 Spinning

It seems hard to believe that the Sock Summit is now more than 5 months in the past. It was pretty darned awesome and I am glad that I have that set of memories to look back on for 2009. I met so many wonderful knitters there and feel lucky to have been a part of that experience. Thank you again, Stephanie and Tina and your colleagues, you are awesome.

Sock Summit 2009

Thanks for some good stuff, 2009. Here’s hoping 2010 has even better things ahead.

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Filed under year in review

As it turns out

I am entering the New Year with one active project on the needles. (I am not counting that sock that I sort of started as a last-ditch gift effort because it only has two rows on it. That is not a WIP, it is a first draft.) This striped scarf is in two colours of Noro Silk Garden, after the ubiquitous inspiration of Brooklyn Tweed’s Jared Flood. I accomplished about half the scarf through subway and airplane knitting.

I’ve had half the yarn for this scarf since the summer (the black/blue #272 skeins), but then decided I wanted a different pair of skeins to partner with it, and found the #243 pink/blue/green ones at the Romni sale. It’s a more moderate contrast but combines tones and colours that I like, so there are some places that are much less visibly contrasted than others. I like how it’s turning out so far.

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Since a few of you were wondering – yes indeed, I knitted in airports and airplanes, on both the Toronto and the New York (Newark) ends of my trip. I was reminded alternately to remove my earphones and to place my coat/bag in the overhead bin, but no one ever said boo about my knitting. This allowed me to finish a glove on the way there and knit away on my scarf on the way back.

Although I realize that knitting needles may be perceived differently to different air carriers and security checkpoints in different parts of the world (and WOW believe me am I not interested in pulling at that discussion thread here and now), I have not yet (touch wood and turn three times and spit) had any problems taking knitting with me on a plane in North America. I fly a few times a year in Canada and the United States, and my general approach is to bring knitting with me with needles that, if necessary, I could stand to part with. I check the Addis in my suitcase if I need to bring them. Most of the time I am travelling to destinations that would allow me to purchase replacement needles in a jiffy anyhow, and I would rather err on the side of “take knitting and assume it will be fine”, because that way I get to have knitting with me. To err on the side of “don’t take knitting because something bad might happen” is also reasonable, but that way means I don’t get to have my knitting with me. ;)

I have, in this manner, successfully travelled with bamboo straights, metal circulars, metal DPNs, and wood DPNs. So far so good. (I will say however, that this approach doesn’t stop me from fretting. I still fret a little bit. But wouldn’t you rather fret with the chance of still having knitting with you? I would.)

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And while we’re on inquiries – the afternoon tea I had in New York was at Alice’s Tea Cup. It is pretty much always busy, so a person is wise to go in, anticipate having to put in one’s name and cell phone number and come back when a table frees up, but it is worth it for a decadent lunch or treat. The scones are delicious. I strongly recommend visiting the Upper West Side location, because then you are walking distance from Knitty City, but then, you were going to visit Knitty City anyway, right?

Also, the red cabled/bobbled beret in the previous post was my incarnation of Jared Flood’s Laurel beret, and I owe it (and my Tibetan Clouds stole) a proper photo post. Soon.

I hope your last gasps of weekend/holiday are enjoyable. I’m going back to the real world kicking and screaming and don’t care who knows it. Knitting, I’m so glad you’re with me.

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Filed under accessories

Give my regards to Broadway

It’s 9am, do you know where your holiday is? As I wait for my plane to board back to Toronto (with plenty of time, having arrived stupidly early), I face the cold harsh need to face reality beginning to sink in. The real world is for the birds.

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I’m going to knit away on my striped Noro scarf on the trip back, plot out a few knitting projects for 2010, and ponder possible resolutions. (As it turns out, I brought exactly the right amount of knitting with me, who’d have thought?)

Thanks for the visit, New York, let’s do it again some time!

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Dec31-Strand

Jan1-Monet

Jan1-Warhol

Jan1-Pollack

Jan1-30Rock

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