Monthly Archives: December 2011

Old, new, etc

If I’m being honest, there’s a lot about 2011 that I won’t be sorry to leave behind. This year has had injury, loss, and personal uncertainty, none of which I am eager to repeat. But it has also brought me time with knitting, knitters, kind friends and family, and time to pursue my interests as they unfold, and I am grateful for these. I look forward to more adventures in 2012. I’ve heard people speculating on how the ‘even-ness’ of that number is appealing in and of itself, and maybe they’re onto something.

I haven’t formulated any specific resolutions – yet, anyway – but I do certainly plan to find more knitting adventures ahead. In 2011 I visited Sock Summit (again) and Rhinebeck (again), taught some awesome knitting workshops and embarked on more design challenges, and learned a great deal about my creative process and more projects I’d like to work on.

I hope you have some awesome knitting plans ahead for the next year, because doesn’t everyone deserve some knitting awesome-ness in their life?

On a purely frivolous note, I’ll leave you with this bit of annual eye/ear candy from DJ Earworm – a fun time at the closing of the year or just plain good fun.

Happy New Year ahead!
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For Winter

Hat knitting season tends to come upon me a bit later on, after winter has already gotten started. I think my first impulse is always towards sweaters, once fall gets going, and then by late December and early January it eventually occurs to me that, hang on a second, there are three more months of cold weather still ahead. I might need some hats.

Happily enough for these purposes, earlier in the fall the folks at Lorna’s Laces sent me some single skeins to work with, and after a bit of brainstorming and stitch perusal and playing around, I came up with the two hat designs you see here. Both yarns were a joy to work with.

Dec18-Beret6

A bright cranberry red skein of Shepherd Worsted – a wonderfully soft yet wooly 100% wool worsted yarn – became the Union Station beret. (Available here in my Ravelry store, and here on Patternfish.) I confess this might be my favourite recent design, and I may have trouble holding myself back from making another one in a different colour. A cabled beret is one of my favourite winter accessories.

Dec18-Beret2

The Union Station beret is written in one size, to comfortably fit a head circumference of 20-22 ins. It uses a single skein of worsted wool yarn, worked in the round on 4.5mm needles for the main portion of the hat, changing to double-points as the crown becomes smaller. The magical part, of course, comes when you wash and block the final product over a dinner plate (usually the nearest circular, flat object), and then once dried the little thing transforms into a stylish cabled thing that makes you feel suddenly extremely elegant even if you’re just waiting in an interminable Starbucks queue. I love it, and hope you will too.

Dec18-Beret3

As a companion, I wanted to work up a relatively simple, slouchy hat pattern to accompany the lovely, drapey skein of Lorna’s Laces Honor (an alpaca/silk blend that is soft like kittens), which lends itself very easily to less structured knits. The Steeltown Slouch here, is the result – it uses a simple knit-and-purl pattern and works up relatively quickly in the round. (Also available here on Ravelry, and here on Patternfish.)

Dec18-Slouch5

The colour here is ‘Blackberry’, which often appears quite a bit darker in the woolier lines of Lorna’s Laces. The colours in the alpaca/silk have a paler, shinier quality to it, leading me to the Steeltown moniker. It’s also a small homage to my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario.

Dec18-Slouch2

It is seen here in the larger of two sizes, which may also be easily modified by adding or subtracting pattern repeats from the main portion of the hat. Peggy, who models both hats here wonderfully, is quite a petite gal, so you may use that as a basis for comparison and size estimates.

HatPhotosBTS

I am grateful to Peggy for the impromptu modelling near the Purple Purl earlier this month, and to Dan Petre (a knitter himself, as well as a knitter’s husband) for the beautiful photographs. (I learned after the fact that Dan spent 2 hours browsing hat patterns on Ravelry to get a good sense of good hat photography. That is dedication, man.)

I think I could get into hats – i’m so sorry, hats, for the neglect I’ve shown you in the past. You were right all along, the socks and sweaters don’t need all the attention!. It impresses me not just how relatively quick hats are to work up, but also how fully a person can transform their look just by changing the style of hat they toss on when heading out the door. That is darned cool.

Happy knitting! And stay warm and cozy, where ever you are as the year winds down.
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Filed under design, finished object: accessories, hats

Neglected but not forgotten

As a Christmas Day and Boxing Day treat I gifted myself with some time to knit on whatever I wanted, and went back to pick up my poor neglected Gwendolyn cardigan. I started this back in September and had almost gotten both sleeves finished before getting side-tracked with other things, and I miss it. I love the teal blue and the fun cables, and also, I want the finished sweater.

Anyway, some time between the post-brunch food coma and the pre-dinner snacking food coma, I looked down at the second sleeve as I was merrily progressing on the sleeve cap, and realized that something wasn’t quite right. I had, as it turns out, missed not one but two cable twists in a row, on the same cable. So I isolated the exact 5 stitches in question, ripped them down to the point where the first twist should have been…

Dec27-GwendolynSleeve

…and then immediately went and cast on for the back. I’ll get to the cable fix later. Maybe my 2012 self would enjoy that. My 2011 self will continue in cabley denial for a bit and whirr along with the body. La la la. (FYI, if you’re wondering how exactly a person does that, Steph has an awesome photo tutorial on two ways to fix a mis-crossed cable. It works, it really really does.)

Dec27-Gwendolyn

I hope you’re all keeping well and that you have some nice gifts and treats to keep you company! I’ll be back next post with my last wee designs to ring out 2011 with, and will be pleased to show them off to you. Happy knitting in the final days of the year.

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Filed under cables, fearless knitting

Fa la la la la

There’s no doubt about it, folks – whether or not we are ready, the holidays are upon us. And though my knitting is still with me, I’m allowing the cookie-baking, gift-wrapping, and other miscellaneous trappings of the season to sneak in. This is all of the good.

Dec23-Cookies

I’m checking out for a few days to do Christmas things, and wish you all the very best greetings of the season. Where ever you may be, dear blog readers, I hope you have some restful and enjoyable time this holiday, that you have some time to knit whatever you please, that refreshing beverages are not far, and that the holidays treat you well.

Dec23-Corks

Happy holidays!

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Festivity

Despite it being well into December, and despite the fact that I still have a great deal of wrapping and knitting to do this month, and despite the fact that Christmas looms ever closer (we shall not speak of this), I’ve had a hard time actually believing that Christmas is coming on. I was chatting about this with Bridget and Sasha last week during my visit, and it was refreshing not to be alone in this.

It’s been an odd off-again-on-again month so far, weather-wise, with the weather hovering generally in the cold direction but not necessarily long enough for any snow to stick around. And though the mittens and scarves are coming out of hiding, it’s still hard to predict exactly how many days in a row a person will depend on wearing them. Which is all fine in principle, but you know, we live in a four-season climate here in Southern Ontario, and its funny how much a person’s holiday sensibilities can start to hinge on a certain combination of weather events. (It’s also possible I’ve just been in denial about how close Christmas actually IS. That argument could merit further examination.)

Dec16-DistillerySandi

Anyhoodle, this weekend I busied myself with a bit of effort towards said sensibilities, and took part in a few seasonal rituals with a few knitters included. On Friday, in between long bus trips back from Peterborough and towards Hamilton, I met up with the delightful Sandi for lunch and a wee tour of the Distillery District in Toronto, where their little Christmas market will almost make you feel like you’re in Germany for a few moments, minus the mulled wine. (We really have got to get on the mulled wine.) Sandi doesn’t get down to Toronto nearly often enough, and I flit in and out like a flitting thing just about every week, and so we hung out for a bit.

Dec16-Distillery

And you know, as delightful as it was, it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. The crowds were putting in an effort, sure, but we were still rather out-numbered as far as the knitter quotient. So yesterday I took myself on down to the Purple Purl, where they were having their annual pre-Boxing-Day Boxing Day sale. Ahhh yes, that’s better.

Dec18-Purl1

Knitterly crowds were achieved. And purchasing. Though not necessarily of the selfless gift shopping variety. The universe craves balance, after all. (Hi, Alison! Nice selection in your basket, there!)

Dec18-Purl2

Also among the shoppers were Karen and Maggie, who do the geeky and fun podcast Knit 1, Geek 2. Karen had just finished her very own pair of (sparkly) Viper Pilots socks, which I know from her podcast she has been working on for several months. Knitters, you too can have a pair of ultra cool twisty cabled socks with just a few minutes a day. (Over a…number of days. But still! It can be done.)

Dec18-KarenVipers

After that, just to be on the safe side, I ducked into the Eaton Centre and braved the lineup at Chapters-Indigo, and dodged more shopping crowds and giant reindeer.

Dec18-EatonCentre

I think I’m good now. December has been achieved.
We shall not speak of how many days there are until Christmas. I’m negotiating for more time.

Happy knitting this week! Especially if all your deadlines have been achieved. You’ve earned some festive cheer, no doubt.
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Discoveries

Today I remembered that I had this box waiting in my closet for just this time of year:

Dec17-Corks

Which is full of these little guys, mostly knit a few years ago, and waiting to scurry off and decorate the house in little groups:

Dec17-Corks2

And you know what else I found? I discovered I have another full shoebox that looks like this:

Dec17-Corks3

 

(Some of these may well still be among those sent to me from a friendly blog reader who wanted to help me out by re-housing her cork stash to me. Thanks, Melissa!) Now, I’m not making any promises as to how many more little corks will soon find themselves wearing knitted hats and sweaters. But it’s coming up on wacky holiday season, and a girl needs a little distraction every so often, and one of these takes maybe half an hour if you’re quick, and I’ve got worsted-weight scraps in my leftovers stash that are just waiting to be put into action.

And if at this moment you’re now wondering if you have any corks around the house, or are possibly entertaining the thought of opening a bottle of wine just to get the cork, then, well…my work here is done. ;) (The pattern is thanks to another ingenious knitter, and is available for free here, if you’re so inclined.)

Happy knitting this weekend!
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Mini break

This week I decided to take a couple of days and escape to…well, to do pretty much whatever I might have done had I stayed at home, but with the key difference of getting to do it all in close proximity to a yarn shop and many knitting friends. I headed back up to my stomping grounds of the last year, Peterborough, where the town may be small but the yarn shop is friendly and the knitters are welcoming. (Bridget even has her own bright red sample of my Allons-Y shawl hanging in the window, which delighted me to no end when I rolled up yesterday afternoon.)

Dec15-YarnShop2

I’m still working through a pack of deadline knits, and though i’m starting to see the middle of it and could really be doing it anywhere, it just gets plain lonely and monotonous sometimes after a few too many days rattling around the same walls with the same thoughts. Though I live just outside of Toronto and have no shortage of yarn shops nearby, I miss being able to have one within walking distance, and most of my friends (who, come to think of it, happen to be mostly knitting friends) live in different cities from me. Sometimes you just need to do your thing in the company like minds, before scurrying back to your regular hidey-hole.

Dec14-PubKnitting

Anyway, knitters Bridget and Sasha duly took me to the pub for knitting and dinner, and then we all tailed it back to Sasha’s place for more knitting (possibly also more beer) and movie viewing and fannish chatter. (Dude, we are all shocked and amazed to discover that Alan Rickman is 65. That Snape wig must be messing with our perceptions, because I would have sworn he was only 40, like, 2 seconds ago.)

Dec15-YarnShop

I’m starting to give some thought to holiday knitting for me, and planning ahead to Christmas Day when I intend to knit whatever the hell I want. I”m torn between the idea of starting something new and fun and big and complex, just for the joy of starting it, and the idea of casting on something small and chunky, just for the joy of finishing it in one day. It is a tough, tough call, man. Good thing I’ve still got 10 days to think about it. (I may however be in denial about the fact that the number of days is actually going to get smaller, as more days pass, but whatever. Lalallaaa…)

Do you have post-deadline-knitting holiday knitting plans of your own? I hope so.
Until next time, yarnly friends – keep the knitting close by!

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Lickety split

One thing that I learned last weekend during my stint at the yarn shop was how easily knitters reach for bulky wool this time of year. It seemed like every 2nd person was asking about what bulky yarn options were there, and more likely than not it was because they were knitting gifts and they wanted them to go quickly. (Who would have thought? Gifts that knit quickly? You mean not all gifts have to be on fingering weight? Dude, I’ve been going about this all wrong.) While I was there I also fondly petted my Frostbite hat and mitt samples, which currently reside at the Purple Purl along with several hard copy patterns.

And you know, darned if people weren’t knitting it. I mean, we always hope for this, as designers, but it was a new thing for me to watch it happen in real time. (Admittedly, it tickled me to no end. I kept my glee on the inside and attempted to remain professional.)  Over the course of the weekend a few folks purchased yarn to make Frostbites (some for themselves, though, of which I approve – knit yourself something over the holidays too, I always say), which tickled me to no end. And then after a weekend of watching people snap up the bulky yarn like crackers, and then after the beginning of a week week that saw me finishing a sizeable deadline project before carrying on to all the other many deadline projects on my list, and sometimes I just miss the knitted samples I have to part with, and I arrived at Wednesday and just wanted something that I could start and finish in less than a week and said “I WANT A QUICK HAT TOO. SO THERE, TO-DO LIST. I’LL DEAL WITH YOU LATER. Me and the bulky yarn, we have GOT THIS.”

Dec9-Frostbite

So this is all a long way of saying that I am knitting myself my own hat and mitt set. I cast on the hat on Wednesday night and by dinnertime on Thursday I was already ready to start the first mitten. Like, this thing practically blinks itself off the needles. (It’s in some stashed Wool of The Andes Bulky, from Knit Picks. Judging by how many colours they seem to need to re-stock, I’m guessing there are a few more bulky knitters out there.) I love it. Why have I neglected bulky yarn for so long? More bulky knits in 2012, I say.

A good thing I finally came to my senses on this, because it’s all in time for December to finally declare itself known. After November failed to make up its mind on what season it was in, we are going into the second weekend of December with a little bit of this on the ground:

Dec9-Snow

The weekend ahead is threatening a bit of Christmas-tree-getting, cookie baking, and yet more knitting. (Probably some adult beverages, too.) So all in all that’s a pretty good docket. I hope you’ve got a great weekend ahead of you as well, and that the knitting is under control! And you know, even if it isn’t under control, well, it’ll still be fine. Have a cookie anyway.

Catch you next week!

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[ETA] Jen, the multi-colour sock knitter from my previous post, reports that it was these socks (Ravelry link) that she was knitting. Free pattern, and easy with sock yarn leftovers. Very groovy.

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Filed under accessories, colour-work

Adventures in yarn world

So, if you were staring at a display of Noro Kureyon, and there was a cubby half-filled with yellowish-green/pink/purple #221, and one lone skein of yellow/green/pink #95 (you can go ahead and look at the colours on that link, I’ll wait) that you were trying to locate as one of the several single-skein oddballs to pull and re-house…do you think you’d be able to do that? This weekend I learned that, as it turns out, I can do that, and continue to be impressed and amazed at the tiny bits of yarn and knitting knowledge that stack up in one’s brain, lying in wait until who knows when. (It turns out that little tiny challenges like this occur with other Noro colourways, and with other yarns. Yarn world, you so crazeh.)

Dec3-Noro

In other words, I spent Friday through Sunday pinch-hitting as yarn shop staff at the Purple Purl, and it was great fun. Turns out I am also at least moderately capable of minding a cash register and making lattes, and I gained a bit more of a sense of what it is like to be behind the scenes in yarn world. Everyone shops an LYS a bit differently, with different yarns and patterns (or not) in mind, and it was a great learning experience to be on the shop floor like that.

So much of the weekend passed by in a blur that when I took out my camera to see what I’d actually remembered to take pictures of, I was delighted to find these ones of Toronto knitter and fellow shop pinch-hitter Jen, who was knitting the greatest socks on Saturday and Sunday. (And yes, she was working two-at-a-time, and yes, she was knitting them standing up.)

Dec3-JenSocks

These are her leftovers socks – everyone who saw them wanted to know what she was doing because they were turning out just that awesome. She is making these with her leftover sock yarn, doing chunks of colour, then alternating 2-3 rows of two colours in the transitional points of switching to a new colour, and so on. They were awesome. She said she has plans for other colour combinations based on her leftovers.

Dec3-JenSocks2

She inspired at least one other shopper to buy hat-making yarn to do the same approach, I can report. It does make one wonder what treasures might be waiting at home in the stash, even in the baskets of oddballs. Don’t discount the odds and ends, man, they’ll surprise you.

I hope you’re keeping well this week, and that your December knitting is going at a good pace. One other thing I learned this weekend is that, if you should happen to be embarking on a whirlwind of gift knitting? You are really, really not alone. As for me, I’m settling in with a big mug of tea (or three) and hunkering down with some deadline knitting. December is a big get ‘er done month for me, and I’m going to show the knitting who’s boss. (I hope it turns out to be me.)

Happy Tuesday! And happy knitting as always.

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Define ‘progress’

So, apparently, when I said at the beginning of November that I was totally going to finish at least one of my sweaters on the needles by the end of the month, I was, as they say, full of it.

Dec1-BulkyCardi

Heh. December, you and I have a lot to reckon with. Game on.

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