Monthly Archives: July 2011

“You can’t fight the light.”

So, if you should happen to have the chance to spend your birthday at a Sock Summit or similarly knitting oriented extravaganza, may I just take a moment to recommend it quite highly. Yesterday, I started with a “second breakfast” befitting the occasion (cupcake held from a purchase day before, from Cupcake Jones),

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did some crazy awesome swatching with Cookie A and ‘oddball stitches’,

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then convinced fellow classmate Jane to come with me to split a hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches (thank you, Brunch Box – we regretted nothing), then picked up knitter Johanna and stopped at the Saturday Market for ice cream.

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Then I filled a notebook listening to photography wisdom from Franklin Habit,

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joined with several hundred other knitters for a “super secret” (maybe not so secret) flash mob,

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and then met up with a bunch of more knitters for dinner.

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Thanks, knitters! Can we do it all again next weekend? I don’t think I want Sock Summit to end.

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit

Still going, still good

One thing I learned from the last Sock Summit is that, for me at least, having knitting classes 4 straight days in a row is a recipe for being really really exhausted by Sunday afternoon. This time, I planned for that and allowed myself a day of no classes whatsoever on Friday. It worked out pretty well.

I spent a few hours strolling around the marketplace (acquired 2 more skeins plus a 15-minte chair massage which was GREAT), and chatting with knitters there;

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Then I had the most delicious brown rice bowl for lunch from a food cart, which I ate too fast to be able to take a picture of it, visited a cupcake place and scarfed down a life-changing chocolate ganache cupcake, and hit Powell’s later with some fellow knitters. (Powell’s were ready for the knitters).

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And, oh yes – I finished the crochet bind-off on my Peacock Feathers shawl and then BLOCKED IT. (Thank you, hotel bed). I do indeed get to wear it as my birthday shawl today.

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Today for my birthday I get to take knitting classes all day, shop with knitters, then have dinner with knitters. Looking forward to all of it!

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Filed under finished object: shawl, knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit

“No way can I get 100s of people to do THAT.”

There’s that story about the daredevil who made a really crazy jump, and did it awesomely, and then crashed at the end of it and needed several casts and recovery time. And when they asked him if he would do it again he said no, because, “I really miss the first time.”

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Being at Sock Summit 2.0 is sort of like that – those of us who were lucky (super dee dooper lucky, believe me we know) enough to be there the first time around still really miss it. But unlike the daredevil, we’re ready to be back and raring for more. A lot of it is oddly familiar. We made it our routine so intensely for 4 days in a row, that even 2 years later, getting off the tram in front of the Oregon Convention Centre yesterday morning felt a lot like…well, we were trying to figure that out. Not like coming “home” exactly. Sort of like coming back to a college reunion, but where you actually want to see most of the hordes of people who are there. I can only imagine the conviction it took for Stephanie and Tina to commit to this show a second time. As they said at the Opening Reception – this time, they knew what they were in for.

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The first day was pretty darned great. I went to a full day class with Cat Bordhi (her “Knitting Sleuth” class), and sitting with fellow Canadian knitter Dennine (who is wearing an awesome yellow shawl here that I’ve totally forgotten what pattern it was when I asked her) in a class that started at 9am, it wasn’t even 9:30 yet before we both turned to each other and whispered, “well, I don’t know about you but I just got MY money’s worth.” It was mind-expanding in the way that Cat Bordhi’s classes always are.

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And with the help of perseverance, stimulating conversation, and the promise of a yarn-filled marketplace, all of us made it through our Day 1 classes and carried on for the shopping. And shopping there was. (And still is, I’m sure). The marketplace is just about worth the price of admission on its own, and it gave the “experienced” half of our hotel suite group a lot of glee to see the “new” members of our group happily looking over their purchases last night. It’s like Rhinebeck on crack. And air conditioning.

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It’s a bigger group this time, which you can tell just by being here. There are more people around and the vibe just feels bigger. And different and better, in many ways. Um, Sock Summit 1.0 did not have a flash mob planned for Saturday, just saying. (See below for a very short video clip of the Opening Reception practice. My delighted laughter may not stop.)

Now Day 2 is on its way, and I’m happy to have it as a free-roaming day, for more market perusal and a visit downtown for Powell’s. It’s good to have a loose day this time around for some slower pace and recharging. And just being around the Sock Summiters is pretty great in itself.

Happy sock knitting, whether you are in Portland or elsewhere!

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit

Let’s go

Yesterday I arrived in Portland just in time for the sun to go down, after a looooooong afternoon spanning all the time zones between Toronto and Portland. I was lucky enough to be on a direct flight which I was halfway convinced was actually just an illusion and that partway through the Captain would come out and tell us we were actually going to be making stops in Denver and Honolulu and would arrive in Portland sometime next Tuesday, but no. It turned out that there were other knitters on the plane as well, which was even better. I chatted a bit with Sandi Wiseheart and we waited for our bags while comparing Designer Angst Stories, and shared a taxi. So that surely bodes well for the trip, I think?

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Then when I met up with my Vancouver roommates, they told their tales of the train, it turns out Meg shared a seat with Anna Zilboorg for a large portion of her journey. As one does.

I think this must be just how Sock Summit IS, though. So many knitters are converging from so many places that we may be flooding the channels a bit. The US customs agent who saw me couldn’t have looked less interested when I told him my reason for travel was to take a weekend of knitting workshops. I think a few earlier SS fliers may have broken in the Customs agents before me. I thank them. (And I really do think it’s a shame that all the Americans coming to Sock Summit will not have that experience – I think every knitter should have the rite of passage of having to explain to a US border guard that their reason for travel is knitting.)

And now Day 1 is about to start, and I’m going to have another rite of passage – pretending to have had a full night’s sleep when about to start a full day class with Cat Bordhi. It’s going to be awesome.

Catch you with more tales next time!

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism

Pretty cunning, don’t you think?

I’ve been getting steadily busier the last couple of months here at Knitting to Stay Sane, with designs and designs-still-being-dreamed up. I have a list of sweater plans the length of my arm. At least two shawls. And no fewer than two Harry Potter inspired knits, now that the final film has been released and reminded me of how fun that sort of knitting is. (Neville’s cardigan, man am I ever ON IT when Sock Summit is over. Plotting has begun.)

Speaking of Sock Summit, I have the great fortune to have three designs that will be winging their way to Portland along with me. These are the Firefly-inspired knits I alluded to a week or two earlier, and I am well pleased with them. They’ll be making their debut in the Indigodragonfly booth (#1001), and then in full release online via Ravelry and Patternfish some time in early August. (In other words, when I’ve had a few days to recover from Sock Summit, and let the SS shoppers have a few days of exclusivity and glee. ;) ) So if you’re headed to Sock Summit, these can all be yours this week! If not, I’ll be sure to give the heads-up on this blog when they are available for all.

So dear readers, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek of the Firefly-inspired sock patterns that will soon be making their way out into knitting world, each showcasing a different yarn and different set of techniques.

‘O Captain My Captain’ is for Mal, and features not just noble, upright cables…but broken ones, too. Broken cables for a broken guy. These ones are intended for either men or women, and are shown in the ‘Captain Tightpants’ colourway of Indigodragonfly Merino Sock.

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‘Kaywinnit’ is for Kaylee, and uses simple stitches and texture for a combination of practicality and frill. Our shiny gal deserves a bit of both in her life, don’t you think?

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And finally, ‘Companion’ is for Inara, to whom I gave not just my precious twisted cables – no no, she deserves just a little bit more – but the application of a few beads. The beads are optional, but so darned gorgeous. And her yarn is the merino/nylon/cashmere, no less. Doesn’t a space geisha deserve that extra luxury?

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I’m very happy to show you these socks, as they’ve been waiting patiently for a while.
And now, I’d better get back to the grind – there’s not just knitting but packing to be done!
Happy Monday!

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Filed under design, fandom, finished object: socks

Back in action

I’ve returned from my week away at the Haliburton School of Arts summer program, and it’s been a jam-packed week! I could have done without a couple of the very hot days (if you’re a few hours north of Toronto and the humidex is still in the 40C+ range, that is HOT, YO), and especially without whatever bug chomped on my foot and led me to spend my final evening of the week waiting to see an ER doc (and, as it turns out, get some antibiotics, erk), but the knitting parts of the week were all good.

My class was all about sweater knitting, particularly about knitting sweaters that fit, and assorted other things that came up over the course of the week. Our little group got on very well, in fact so nicely that we all met for breakfast on Friday morning and they surprised me with a nice card and thank-you wine. (I have no doubt that it will taste better than regular wine). By mid-week they were even dreaming up other knitting classes I should come back and do next summer, so with any luck we’ll get to do it again.

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Over the course of the week we chattered on about measuring, swatching, (and then more about measuring and swatching), pattern reading and modification, finishing, yarn behaviour, and lots more that I’m probably forgetting.

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We made duct tape dress forms, as one does.

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And we also ate chocolate, chatted, knitted, and enjoyed our luck at having an air-conditioned classroom. We commented at how convenient it is to have chosen a craft (or art?) that allows us to be able to sit and talk in a group at the same time as actually doing the execution. It really is a nice bonus.

And now I’m back in the big city again for a few days and readying myself to exchange one whirlwind for another as I prepare to leave for Sock Summit next Wednesday. There’s more knitting to be done, and I suspect some laundry and list-making.

Catch you again in a couple of days! And stay cool, knitter friends.

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Filed under fearless knitting, sweaters, teaching

Things I’ve been doing

I’ve been short in the blogging this week, but not in the to-do-ings. Things I’ve been keeping busy with include:

1. Finishing up some sock designs for Indigodragonfly, to appear in her booth at Sock Summit 2011, in just 11 short days. (Note: dates on calendar may be closer than they appear). They are all Firefly-inspired, and you can catch a glimpse of Kaylee (above) and Mal (below) here. Inara is the third, to follow. I love them.

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2. Finishing up a pair of Jaywalkers that have been on the needles and in my purse since April and I had sort of almost given up hope of finishing. But slow and steady wins in the end, and now I have another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers (9th? 10th pair?) in ‘Montrose’, to add to the sock drawer.

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3. Being really frustrated that I’m still not running. (Yes, I’ve started physiotherapy. No, this does not make me feel much better about having to cancel a 2nd half-marathon in 3 months.)

4. Cooking up some designs for the fall. Man, I love cables. (As does this Tanis Fiber Arts DK, in garnet. Man, I love garnet.)

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5. Reviving a healthy obsession with Harry Potter inspired knitwear.

6. Preparing to head off this weekend for the Great North Woods, or more accurately, the Haliburton School of the Arts, where I’ll be teaching a week long workshop starting Monday, on sweater knitting. I basically love everything about sweaters, and though I am filled with equal parts delight and anxiety over teaching a week long workshop for the first time, I think probably the delight will win, since sweaters are awesome. (And usually so are knitters).

Catch you next time! And in case I’m gone all week, as my friend Jane likes to say, kids, don’t burn down the internet while I’m away.

Happy knitting!

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Filed under design, finished object, finished object: socks, socks, sweaters

Just the right age for this, actually

Yesterday marked another year of the Toronto TTC Knitalong, an event that has changed hands from one set of organizers to another over time, and sees a slightly different yarn shop landscape every year in the city, but has been going strong for four or five years now. It is an excuse to roam the city as knitters, shopping and knitting and generally raising the visibility of the craft as we go. The participant fees contribute mostly to a hefty charitable donation to Sistering, a local women’s charity, and mostly it’s just a good time and an excuse to be part of a roving band of knitters for the day. And we lucked out and got a sunny hot day that wasn’t quite so hot as to be mimicking the face of the sun, so that was a bonus.

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Along with Lisa, I was a captain for the Red Team this year, which started in the north end of the city at Passionknit, stopping at Mary Maxim and then Knitomatic before finishing at Romni Wools. Many of the shops offered discounts or prize draws, which was an added bonus and extra bit of enabling. (I very nearly had a falling down in front of the Malabrigo Chunky in Romni Wools, then came to my senses. Though I did emerge with a bit more Cascade 220 and Royal Alpaca by the end of the day). And then we had beer afterwards, and lo, it was good. Team Red was a pretty awesome team (not that I’m biased), and I know a lot of folks went home smiling with a lot of new purchases, and even some new Works in Progress on the needles.

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It is always a lot of fun doing things like this, because you can go around for the day completely immersed in Knitting World, without actually leaving the Real World of the city. You get to be among your own kind (with whom you can say things like “hey I almost lost it in front of the Malabrigo Chunky over there”, and they will know exactly what you mean, or they will not blink an eye if you do things like read a pattern on your cell phone in one hand while casting on with the other), and yet you don’t have to retreat to the woods to reach said Knitting World. It’s like day camp for knitters.

The other fun part about this is encountering the reaction from non-knitters, because in using streetcars and subways to get around on a Saturday (or even walking around), while also knitting (because a lot of knitters plan ahead and bring projects they can work on while standing or riding transit), and while carrying bright red tote bags…uh, well…we get noticed.

We had an interesting bit of chatter with one guy on the streetcar who was genuinely curious what it was that we were doing (he wondered if we had arranged to have a team on every single streetcar/subway in the city), and we explained about the knitting and the shopping and the charity and the fun. He nodded and seemed to think this was reasonable, but then commented that we “seemed a bit young to be knitters.” We explained to him that, no, actually knitters come in all ages and in fact some of the fastest growing age demographics in knitting are the young adults.

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It is easy, immersed in knitting world and only sharing our craft with other knitters, to forget that some people actually experience this world as brand new information. It always seems like people should have caught on by now, that everyone should know by now that knitting world is actually pretty big, is located everywhere, and lived by people in all walks of life. Sometimes, you need to go out with a big group of knitters and pull out your knitting in the middle of a busy subway, just to make sure that everyone knows that, just in case they’ve forgotten – because they sometimes forget.

And really, we are all, in fact, just the right age for this.

Happy knitting this Sunday! Wherever you are.

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Filed under fearless knitting, knitting in public, knitting tourism

The fun part of a jag

I’m at that glorious knitting stage of getting to start a couple of new projects all at once. Savouring the starting point is often what gets me through the finishing stage of the previous projects – and from prematurely casting on for something that really, will only delay the other finishing even longer. And as it happens, these projects also have something in common.

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I’ve had this sweater and these socks on the design list for a couple of months, and it just so happens that they reached the starting line at the same time. I don’t mind, though. A colour jag is a pretty awesome way to go if the colours are that awesome. (Tanis Fiber Arts DK in Garnet, Indigodragonfly MCN sock in “The exact phrase I used was “Don’t.”) But then, yesterday I was pulling out a few skeins of yarn to get ready to start some new walking-around socks to get going for Saturday at the TTC Knitalong, and lo and behold.

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ALL YOUR RED YARNS ARE BELONG TO US.

(Well, OK, maybe not all of them. But some of them.)

Happy knitting today! Red or otherwise.

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That point

It’s a good thing that today’s Canada Day, because I’ve got plenty of knitting to keep me busy with Canadian-dyed yarns. Not the least of which is my ongoing Peacock Feathers shawl, which I’m working up in Tanis Fiber Arts Mulberry Silk. It’s lovely, and I’m hoping in my heart of hearts that I”ll be able to keep plugging and get it done by the end of July – because that’s when my birthday is, and when I’ll be at Sock Summit, and I’d like to be able to wear it for both of those occasions.

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I’m at that point now in the shawl when I can finally step back and see not just something that resembles a tangled mess of purple weeds, but an actual bonafide pattern starting to emerge. It’s very reassuring to get to that point, because you start to feel a bit of relief that it’s actually all going to turn out just fine, despite all those little tiny mistakes you made in the first couple of chart repeats. This is also about the point when it’s easy to feel some confidence, like, “Psh, me and this shawl, I GOT THIS. I’ll be done in a snap.”

So then, if you should happen to take a closer look at the fact that you the last remaining chart of the main pattern is in fact the largest one of the bunch and bigger than the previous 3 put together, and that you have at least one full skein more of yarn to go before finishing (possibly two more, if the nervous glances of the ladies who sold you the pattern when you wondered if just 1000 yards would be enough to get by, are at all accurate), and that you’ve now got less than a month to go before you supposedly finish this, then you might sort of feel a little bit less confident.

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But it’s Canada Day, so at least that means I can have a beer while I knit with it.

Happy knitting today, Canadians and all!

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Filed under lace, shawls