Monthly Archives: October 2011

Things I did this summer

Knitting progress continues apace here at Knitting to Stay Sane, but rather than show you the 6 inches more teal green sweater I’ve accumulated since last time, or the swatches and sketches and wound yarn cakes I’m happily pondering, I need to go back for some due diligence on a finished project from the summer that hasn’t yet seen the proper light of the blog since it was finished.

You may remember that I was knitting the Peacock Feathers shawl this summer, and that I gave myself just shy of 2 months to knit it in order to have it finished by my birthday – which also co-incided with the middle of Sock Summit. I think the last time you saw it it looked something like this:

July29-ShawlBindoff

Or maybe this:

July31-Peacock1

But I never did get any proper modelled “Finished Object” shots with it, and that’s just a crying shame, because this shawl is awesome.

Oct9-Shawl1

I did, in fact, make my deadline. When I gave myself that deadline I knew it was going to be just enough of a challenge, but do-able. Most of it was done with about 1-2 hours of knitting each day, and some days all I did was two rows on it and that had to be enough. I spent the 5-hour flight from Toronto to Portland for Sock Summit knitting most of the last of the edging chart, and the rest of it the that night. Then on the Friday of Sock Summit I woke up knowing that all that stood between me and a finished shawl was the crochet bind off (which I’d never done before), and blocking and pinning out (which I had to do on the hotel bed, also a first-time experience for me). The great thing (if one wanted to look at it that way) about coming down to the wire on something like this is that you don’t have time to worry about whether or not you can pull off a crochet bind-off on a 600-stitch silk shawl while riding transit to the Oregon Convention Centre and waiting around at coffee breaks. You just do it.

Oct9-Shawl5

I wore it around Sock Summit the rest of the weekend, as well as the local Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair here a month ago. It is an eye-catching shawl and I got a lot of lovely compliments on it. This shawl will get you noticed – it is big, beautiful, and any knitter who’s been around the block a few times will look at it and know that you had to put in some time and skill to get it.

Oct9-Shawl7

I point these things out not just to state the obvious (because let’s face it, there is no denying the awesomeness of this pattern), but to emphasize the fact that nobody, not one knitter out of the many who have admired and touched this shawl, have noticed or pointed out a single one of the what are probably dozens of mistakes I made while making it. The whole thing is not a big flaming hot mess, let’s be clear on that for sure, but there are little imperfections scattered across it.

Most of them were fairly typical lace knitting mistakes, like accidentally mis-aligning chart rows by 1 stitch and then having to fix it on the next row, but other dumbass moves were things like me reading a double decrease as a single decrease because I was knitting it during the hottest month of July possibly in several decades and my brain was oozing out my ears, and then having to fix that on the next row. But the thing is, there are thousands upon thousands of stitches in this shawl, and I read my knitting as I went and made it work and forged ahead because that’s what I wanted to do. This is 100% silk yarn, and given the choice between an imperfect yet beautiful shawl, and having to rip back silk – I choose living with the imperfections. Beauty does not need to be flawless.

Oct9-Shawl8

I love this shawl and I’m glad to have knitted it. It is a skills-building project that will ask a lot of your brain and attention span, but still allows you the restfulness of purling back on the wrong side rows, and the pleasant comfort of increasing every right side row in the same place through yarnovers, like typical triangular shawls do. Tanis’ mulberry silk yarn is a dream to work with (2.2 skeins for this shawl), as is the colour, and now I have this great shawl to pull from my closet the next time I want a kick-ass accessory. The pattern and yarn sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally cast on, and I’m glad to have dispatched them to this result.

What ambitious projects are waiting for you in your stash? You just never know what awesome things they could be.

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Filed under fearless knitting, finished object: shawl, lace

Forward motion

I’m chugging onwards with the Rhinebeck sweater and just might have it on track. (Or so she says now.) I’m well into the body now and with a bit of string and crazy glue this thing might make it on time after all, which is great since, you know, weather reports are predicting sunny and warm temps for next week. Which is really what you are looking for in a weekend when everyone brings knitted sweaters made just for the occasion.

Oct8-MaximaSweaterProgress

But really, who cares what the weather is going to be like next weekend? I’m knitting my sweater and it’s fun and snuggly and cozy and I feel like those are the important criteria for kicking off fall with a bunch of knitters. If it isn’t sweater weather then pfffflllbbbppptt, so there.

The real reason I can tell I’m making good progress on the sweater, though, is that I’m starting to look longingly at all the rest of my yarn and the zillion other plans and ideas I want to get going on. Nothing says “almost done” like “what else could I be knitting right now?”

Oct8-StashIdeas

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here, and that means lots of food and more knitting time this weekend, which is pretty great. Allow me to extend my thanks to you, dear blog readers, for coming along for the ride with me these past 5 years and more. I am 100% grateful for knitting, knitters, yarn, and everything I have been able to do because of them.

Knit on! And happy weekend.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Knit all the things

I know there are lots of people who welcome the return of fall, but I think if you’re a knitter you have a bit of an edge on that. It’s been pretty fun watching the knitters on my Twitter feed exclaim about the return of cool weather, or talk to other knitters who are saying things like “I can wear my socks again! And sweaters! this is so great!” I mean, I know there are some people who are probably agreeing with the weather guy on TV calling a 23C forecast for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend “really nice,” but in my head I’m thinking “are you kidding??? We want sweater weather! GIVE US BACK THE SWEATER WEATHER.”

We’ll all be eating these words round about Februrary when we have had just about enough of sweater weather thank you very much, but I digress. SWEATERS.

Oct5-GwendolynSleeves

I’ve been slower than I’d like to progress with my Gwendolyn cardigan (the hazard of working several projects at a time), but breaking into the second sleeve this past weekend gave me a bit of nice momentum. But I’ve got to turn my attention to my Rhinebeck cardigan over the next week and a half, because it turns out that’s all the time I’ve got left in between now and then. And you know, I don’t mean to brag about my progress or anything, but I’ve got both sleeves done. And the hem of the body. Yeah, so that’s totally almost done. Maybe another day or two and I’ll have it licked.

Oct5-MaximaCardiProgress

Okay, so it’s going to be close, as per usual, but I’m loving the yarn. Manos Maxima is pretty close to Malabrigo worsted, and I don’t think I need to tell you how soft and squooshable THAT is. It’s like knitting with kitten purrs.

Oct5-MaximaCardiDetail

I’m making this up in my head as I go, but I think I’ve got the plan for the body down. Going to throw in a few more cable details along the edge as well as down the back, and I think it’s going to work out nicely. And it’ll be so cozy. Once it’s done the only thing left will be to cross my fingers (along with 1,000s of others I am sure) for sweater weather at Rhinebeck. Here’s hoping!

Lots of great knitting weather to come. Goodbye summer! It’s time for wool season.

14 Comments

Filed under design, sweaters

Just in time for some colour

I think it’s safe to say that fall has arrived. The chill blew across Ontario this past weekend and I’m sure more than a few knitters were happily reaching for their knitted socks and sweaters. I know I was! Uh, how quickly do you suppose I can knit five more sweaters?

Last week several of you were asking about the hat pattern I was working on, and I’m pleased to announce it’s here and available for sale! The instructions give you not just a hat but a hat and mitten set, and the option of working the hat as a plain cap or with earflaps. (And also the option of the pompom. I know people have very strong opinions about pompoms.)

Oct1-Frostbite2

The Frostbite set is available for download through Patternfish, or in my Ravelry store. Let me tell you, this is a pretty quick little undertaking. The plain hat took me about an afternoon, so if you’re new to colour-work and want something to ease you in slowly, this would still be a project you could have done in short time! In the pattern notes I also offer resource suggestions if you are new to the technique. If you’re already familiar with colour-work, though, you’ll easily have this done in a weekend. And once you’ve got the hat, then, well, of course you need the option of matching mittens, right?

Oct1-Frostbite3

This is worked up in bulky yarn – here, Mirasol Kutama, a 50% wool/50% alpaca blend that is pretty delicious to work with – and a variety of yarns suitable for 14-16 sts/4 ins would work well, like Araucania Nature Wool Chunky, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky, Cascade Eco, and probably many more that I’m forgetting at the moment.

Oct1-FrostbiteEarflap1

I need to thank Bridget at Needles in the Hay for her hat modelling turn when I was up in Peterborough this past Saturday. I must have done a good job of getting her used to being accosted for knitwear photography when I lived there last year, because this time she didn’t bat an eyelash.

Oct1-ColourworkClass1

I was there this past Saturday for a fabulous all-day teaching extravaganza, with colour-work in the morning and then steeking in the afternoon. It was a ton of fun and we practiced lots of technique, talked about colour, and then cut up some knitting at the end. All in a day’s work.

Oct1-ColourworkClass2

If you’re interested in joining me in a class, I’ve got several more coming up this fall and my Teaching page is up to date with several in the Toronto area.

And finally, I hope your Monday is getting your week off to a good start – or at the very least not too painful a start. Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under accessories, colour-work, design, teaching