Monthly Archives: December 2010

Closing out the knits

As 2010 winds down I’m happy to be finishing up a couple (if not all) of the projects currently on the needles. I got my Elizabeth Zimmerman fair isle yoke sweater finished a few days ago (will happily do a finished object post about that next time), and now that my bit of gift knitting is done I’m also finishing up the last of the 3 patterns for a collection of mittens and gloves I’ve been working on with Indigodragonfly yarns.

Dec30-WillowMitts

It’s been a consistent project the last couple of months and is just about ready for unveiling – Kim is even taking pre-orders for a full set of yarn and patterns, which is a new thing for me and pretty darned cool. I have got to say, Kim’s yarn is very easy to work with. I chose to do a set of 3 patterns as single skein projects with each of her 3 weights of Merino/cashmere/nylon blend, in worsted, DK, and sock. It’s delicious stuff. (FYI: the full set of patterns will be available soon, individually and as a collection, and you’ll be the first to know.)

Dec-IndigodragonflyMCNsock

Because these are inspired as a generally gothic collection taking after characters from the Buffy the Vampire series, Kim has been delighting in naming a series of colourways according to characters and quotations. This one is for Willow, and is so named ‘My world is askew,’ but she’s got others in the mix for several characters.

I’m hanging at her place for the rest of 2010 and it’s a relaxing time so far, featuring knitting, sitting, and co-hosting by Otis the dog. He is terribly stressed out, as you can see.

Dec30-Otis

I hope your last knits for 2010 are enjoyable ones! I am looking forward to exciting new knits in 2011.

8 Comments

Filed under design

From the other side of Christmas

This year was my first Christmas not spent in southern Ontario – my sister and I headed west instead, to Edmonton where our aunt and grandfather are, while our parents celebrated in Australia during their year abroad there. It was an enjoyable holiday – low key, mostly family, lots of food, and very little internet.

I finished my grandfather’s socks in the nick of time, at lunch on Christmas day. There was even time to knit my aunt a headband for a gift on Boxing Day, to match the hat I’d made her two years ago.

Dec25-Socks1

Christmas dinner was a larger affair with many cousins, and 4 generations around the same table.

Dec25-Dinner1

My aunt’s cat enjoyed many new laps to sit in.

Dec25-Cat1

We even paid a visit to a couple of yarn shops – Ewe Love it, and River City Yarns, and I snagged a few nice skeins of things to dream up projects for.

Dec27-RiverCityYarns

And today before heading to the airport, we had a suitably comfort-food-ish lunch of burgers and milkshakes. Edmonton airport is only slightly nutty instead of full-on nutty, and we are crossing fingers for a good connecting flight.

Dec27-Lunch

Dec27-Airport

Catch you back on the Ontario end soon! I’m looking forward to a bit more knitting and sitting holiday time before the new year rings in. I hope all your holidays are/have been well.

Happy knitting!

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Gradual but steady

I have reached that stage of the holidays where, despite the fact that my load is relatively light compared to many others with enormous families, I have come to terms with the fact that not everything I wanted to get done is going to happen before Christmas, and I’ll just let finished things happen where they may. Some of the cookies will be post-Christmas cookies. I’ll finish up the Lord of the Rings re-viewing maybe on Boxing Day. I’ll be getting on a plane tomorrow and that’ll be some nice key knitting time right there.

Dec22-CaramelsAndKnitting

My grandfather’s socks, the only knitted gift that is a real must on my list, are on the go and are likely going to be the only thing I’ll work on for the next few days. I started them yesterday (ahahaha yeah, I’m a bit behind) in between stirring the pot of caramel I had going while attempting to make caramel marshmallows. (You know, because I somehow burned half of the simple sugar cookie recipe, but managed to make caramel marshmallows just fine? Yeah, I don’t know either.) Needless to say, those took basically all afternoon yesterday, but they are delicious. And a few little bags of them will be gifted, which is extra awesome.

I’ve also been so close to finishing up my Elizabeth Zimmerman yoked sweater that have been letting myself spend time on it this week in the scant couple of days that I’m at the homestead in Hamilton, because there is a sewing machine and I’ve been mostly by myself (my parents are living abroad this year, in Australia, and my sister and I carry on to relatives in Edmonton for Christmas festivities), which means I get to do things like make caramels and cut steeks whenever I darned well please. And I’m really looking forward to a) having a new winter sweater to wear, as well as b) finally finishing one of the ongoing projects I’ve had lingering for a couple of months and being able to move on to a new sweater or something else according to my whims.

Dec22-EZyokeCardigan1

I picked this back up again a week or two ago after neglecting it for a bit, and it’s only just gotten interesting in the last few days with the addition of the fair isle patterns on the yoke. It’s been the sort of project that I haven’t displayed much of on the blog because it would have amounted, essentially, to a sequence of photos of more brown stockinette knitting. But then, suddenly, poof, the colour-work portion came up and I was buoyed to get it done. The buttonband and neckband are just going to be basic ribbing, which means the steek edge is going to be visible on the wrong side of the work (as compared to a folded-over facing), so I elected to do just a simple sewn reinforcement. I sewed a line of stitches down each side of the middle of the steek…

Dec22-SteekSewing

Dec22-SteekBeforeCut

…and then cut right down the middle.

Dec22-SteekFinished1

Dec22-SteekFinished2

And that was that. Done and done. I tell you, steeking never gets old. And because this sweater is worked all at once in the round, all I have now is the ribbing for the buttonband, a few ends to sew in, and I’ll be done. Of course, there is the small matter that I forgot that I will need buttons, to sew onto the buttonband. But I’m sure that’s just a small matter, right? Buttons will magically materialize somehow? Um…maybe? I’ll be on the lookout. And will be sure to report back when it’s all done for good.

Whatever stage of holiday or non-holiday knitting, craziness, or both, you may be at right now, I wish you the best this week. And I’ll toast you all when I have a drink with my knitting later on tonight. And tomorrow. And probably Christmas Day and the day after that.

Happy knitting!

17 Comments

Filed under elizabeth zimmerman, fair isle, fearless knitting, steeks, sweaters

I think the acoustics are best over by New York Fries

So, having been in Toronto for the weekend, I went over to the Purple Purl yesterday for their pre-Boxing-Day Boxing Day sale. There were $5 bins, 50% off bins, 20% off everything ELSE. I bought some yarn, my sister hugged the piles of yarn and then bought two sweaters’ worth, I saw all the fun people who were there, sympathized with Jen who had wrenched her ankle slipping on the ice that very morning and yet still came in and stood at the cash register, hung out and knitted for a bit, and it was great.

And then I lost all my photos on my camera card.

Yesterday evening when I went to get my photos off of my camera card, the crappy card reader I’d just bought went and corrupted all the files, and for all I know I may not have any photo record of all the cute yarn-hugging, let alone the other scadloads of photos that I don’t have copies saved of. (Note to self: SAVE ALL THE COPIES.)

But since Monday has sort of become YouTube day around here, here. Instead of pretending to visualize photos of a yarn sale, instead you could watch this Hallelujah Chorus flash mob video that my mom sent me a link to. It is a non-sucky start to the day.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go nurture my denial about just exactly how bad my Christmas knitting procrastination has gotten. I’ll be over here in the corner if you need me.

Happy knitting!

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Vampire Knits

So, I’m finally done my grading and am now moving onto frenetic packing, tidying, and collecting up ALL the knitting to take with me (I can finish 5 projects before 2011, right?), before leaving on a bus tomorrow for a series of 2-or-3-days-at-a-time-in-one-place also known as the Christmas holidays. Which is going to be great, but then, there is the packing. (Also, I’d like to say thanks to reader Becky who thought that when I said I was ‘grading’ I meant grading knitting designs for sizes in a written pattern, as opposed to exams and essays which is what I was actually doing. Admittedly, I’d probably have preferred the patterns I think.)

Naturally, I thought this was a good time to finish up the last of my 2010 book reviews. Because when else would one sit down and clear a few careful thoughts for blog readers curious about knitting books? Well, during insane gift-shopping season, of course! (Unless of course, you already did all your gift shopping. In which case, I have some errands for you to run if you’re not doing anything.)

VampireKnits

Vampire Knits presented me with a bit of a challenge. On the one hand, I love vampire stories. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Absolutely. Dracula? Yeah, bring on the gothic. True Blood? well, the books sure made for decent commuter reading, I’ll say that much. And I am big-time in support of fannish knitting. Heck, a large portion of my recent design repertoire came from fannish inspiration. Viper Pilots socks, anyone? For goodness sakes, I’m working on a Buffy-inspired collection of mittens and gloves. I’ve knitted my own Ravenclaw scarf and love the fact that there are thousands of knitters who have found their entry into the world of knitting by making their own Harry Potter house scarf. Bring on the fannish knitting, I am all over that.

On the other hand, the author of this particular pattern collection makes no bones about being directly inspired not so much by vampire texts in general, but by the Twilight series of novels and films, specifically (there are patterns with intarsia-letter motifs for pillows spelling out “team Jacob” or “team Edward.”). I absolutely loathe the Twilight series. Come on folks, as if it’s not bad enough that there are flocks of young people steamrolling past actual literature to get to Stephanie Meyer’s books to the tune of millions and billions of dollars, it makes me weep to think that there are enough people now who are holding up Twilight as the best vampire stories EVAR OMG and haven’t even given BtVS a fair shake because, okay fine, the makeup and production values in Season 1 were pretty crappy. I mean, they should at least be going off to read Dracula first, but since they’re probably not doing that, the very least they could do is watch the entirety of Season 2. And 3. And 5. And the last 2 discs of Season 7. And the musical episode. And the silent episode. And, you know, the WHOLE SERIES.

::cough:: But I digress.

All in all, I have to say, this is a decent set of patterns. The cover sweater, the ‘Lore’ hooded cardigan by Cirilia Rose, has been getting a lot of attention for good reason – it’s an effective but not overly intimidating sweater knit in bulky wool (Peruvia Quick) that also looks pretty comfortable. And really, most of the patterns are like that. If you’re looking for a set of advanced beginner patterns for someone who might not otherwise be inspired to take up knitting but likes vampire things, or someone who likes vampire things but might not have bought this book, it’s worthwhile.

I quite like this “Under the Cover of Midnight” cowl/hood (below), a chunky cabled knit which looks extremely cozy as well as stylish. And tempting given the current chill in the air.

Dec17-VampireKnits1

Dec17-VampireKnits2

The ‘Bloody Socks’, above, are also pretty approachable for someone new to sock knitting, essentially a cuff-down heel-flap sock with a simple motif down the front. (Though I scratch my head at making them ankle socks, especially when the chosen yarn comes in 420-yds skeins. Does removing most of the leg make them easier? I don’t know.)

All in all, it’s a collection mostly meant for women, with a few patterns for men including a sweater and a couple of scarves. There are sweaters, shrugs, cowls, gloves, socks, and home accessories – even a corset. The yarns used in the samples are mostly recognizeable labels, from Knit Picks or Bernat to Louet and Berroco. And where it is warranted, there is a range of sizes. The cover sweater, for example, goes up to 48″ in bust circumference.

So, if you’re looking for something fun for a vampire-fan who would or could sink her teeth into knitting, this offering would be just fine. And at the end of the day, anything that helps more people appreciate knitting is just fine with me.

Stay tuned, when I’ll offer this book and one more from my previous reviews as a blog giveaway for the new year! And, as usual, keep the knitting close by!

 

16 Comments

Filed under book review

No time for unfinished objects

I am trying as much as possible this week to alternate busy-ness with knitting work, in an effort to end the month of December with fewer unfinished projects (or at the very least, a different set of them) than what I have now. Thus, I am just about ready to start on the yoke of my Elizabeth Zimmerman yoked fair isle sweater that I had meant to complete in November (though Lisa reports she has also chosen to “observe Novecember” in completing a project or two belatedly, so, cool. Novecember is my new favourite knitting holiday).

So I was happy to get a quick hat and cowl done last week. I don’t usually knit with super chunky anything, but dang, getting a slouchy cowl and beret out of 3 skeins of yarn in 2 days is pretty darned awesome. And since i had to walk out this afternoon to deal with the post office and other annoyances, I took the opportunity to at least get a quick photo-shoot out of the deal. [And as an aside, this almost-Solstice winter light is trippy. It's like there are three settings: late-afternoon bright (but at any time of day), cloudy, or full darkness.]

Dec15-Beret1

The beret is the Speedy Cabled Beret, modified to add an extra cable repeat so that it is genuinely more beret-like than cap-like. I blocked it out over a dinner plate for good measure, and I’m happy with the final result.

Dec15-BeretCowl3

The cowl is simply 76 sts of mistake rib (Mutiples 4, work Row 1: *k2, p2. Row 2: *p1, k2, p1.), worked on 10mm needles until I felt like it was a cosy enough height. It’s pretty nice all crumpled up around my neck under my coat at the moment, but I suspect when the temperature decides to be something warmer than -15C, I’ll be comfy wearing it more loose and drapey. All in all, not bad for a quick pair of winter accessories. If I can manage to make myself a pair of lined mittens I’ll be extra pleased.

Dec15-BeretCowlFO

And, because there’s a lot of snow on the ground around here and I just can’t help myself, here. Another Simon’s Cat video, just for the occasion.

Happy winter knitting!

12 Comments

Filed under accessories

For people with cats. Or Christmas trees.

Knitting friends, I’m just about down for the count at the moment. Grading is sucking the life out of me, daylight is almost non-existent, I’ve barely started Christmas shopping let alone any gift knitting, I can’t go out running until the spiky anti-ice implements I purchased for my shoes arrive in the mail, I’m getting pre-holiday holiday blues, and I’ve been pleased enough to devote any time to knitting at all let alone take pictures of it.

But this made me laugh.

I hope it makes you laugh too.

18 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hold that thought

Back in September at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, I stopped by the Purple Purl booth and had a small falling down in front of the Twinkle Soft Chunky that they had on sale to clear. I had always looked at it longingly in the shop, thinking that “one day” I would just buy a mess of it and whip off a few quick knits for instant gratification. But then I saw I might lose the chance, so I bought five skeins. As one does.

I figured that the time would come when I would want to knit a few chunky things. It turns out that time is now, when the cold has speedily reached negative double digits and already my Berocco Ultra Alpaca beret is just not quite cutting it any more. (Clearly, this winter is not fooling around. Must be making up for last year’s mediocre effort.) I first knitted up a Speedy Cabled Beret, which is now blocking out, and moved on next to a large-ish cowl of generic quality. (I cast on about 76 sts, and am working the whole thing in mistake rib.)

Dec9-TwinkleCowl1

The vast majority of my projects are knit on either fingering weight (socks, gloves, shawls, you know) or worsted weight (sweaters, or hats, or just about anything really), so it’s a rare day when I have to pull out 10mm needles. This is quite a trip. On the one hand, the stitches are huge which means I am making quick progress without even trying, but on the other hand they are clunky and a bit unwieldy in your hands when you’re not used to anything larger than 4.5mm on a normal basis.

So it’s a change of pace if nothing else, which is also what I was going for. In the midst of all my other ongoing projects it feels good to say “STOP. KNIT A HAT. OKAY, CARRY ON. AS YOU WERE.” And winter is most definitely here, so hats and cowls R Us.

Baby, it’s cold outside. Thank you, yarn. I’m glad I have you in my life.

18 Comments

Filed under accessories

Quickly but enjoyably

This past weekend I had the good fortune to make a quick trip to Montreal, with a good friend who knows the city well enough that he might as well be a tour guide. Thanks to some snap sales-catching we got ourselves first-class train tickets there and back, and spent the weekend enjoying food and conversation and walking around the old city.

It was a real highlight to be able to meet up with Tanis and her husband Chris, for brunch and chatting and talk of more collaboration. They are great people and put a lot of fabulous effort into making their corner of the yarn world awesome. Looking forward to more knitting awesomeness in 2011!

Dec4-TanisMeetup

It was a chilly weekend to be sure, which certainly made regular stops for food or beverages all the more enjoyable. I had a lovely time and would be happy to visit again. (Note to self: go back with a bigger shopping budget. And more French skills.) Thanks, Montreal!

Dec4-OldCity4

Dec3-Dessert

Dec4-OldCity2

Dec4-NotreDame2

Dec4-OldCity5

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized