Monthly Archives: June 2012

I’ve heard that sometimes people also eat popcorn

Last night I caught a late-run showing of ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, which aside from being extremely delightful (will happily watch Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt doing cute any time they want to repeat), gave me the chance to get most of the way through my second sock of the pair that has been my travelling-around-in-my-handbag socks for the last couple of months. These are Socks That Rock Mediumweight, in ‘Amelie’, which turns out to look just as nice in sock form as it does in the skein.

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I did my usual 3×1 ribbed sock pattern, but on 60 sts instead of 64 to accommodate the heavier weight of yarn, since STR Mediumweight is closer to a sport than a fingering weight. I suspect I could probably get away with 56 sts, even, but these turned out nice and cozily and there was yardage to spare, so I like ‘em. I have started to enjoy adding a few pairs of slightly heavier socks to my collection, because there are some days in the winter or just when hanging out around the house when I want a little extra comfort. Plus, there is the added advantage that the heavier yarn you use, the quicker they are to knit.

June22-Socks1

These are also my favourite thing to have on hand for the movie theatre (provided I’m not on the heel, which I like to be able to see when I’m doing it), because it’s approachable for working in the dark. People often ask how I could possibly knit in the dark (generally, I do still watch the movie screen unless I really need to check something – in such situations it’s handy to be watching something with bright explosions or sunny deserts, just a tip from me to you), and I promise you it really is as simple as just knitting in the dark. If you’ve been knitting for some length of time and are comfortable working plain stockinette or ribbing, you can knit in the dark.

Trust me, your hands know what they’re doing because they have done this probably thousands and thousands of times already. Give it a shot and see what happens – chances are you’ll find yourself becoming more aware of what a knit stitch feels like underneath your fingers as compared to a purl stitch, and you’ll be able to tell which is coming next. Probably, if you regularly watch television while you knit, you’ve practiced this already many times, just with the advantage of sitting in a well-lit room. But the more you practice knitting while not looking at your knitting, the more likely you are to avoid things like accidental dropped stitches, because your hands will register the mistake before your eyes do, and you’ll catch things like that sooner.

Of course, mistakes do still happen sometimes. Inevitably my movie-theatre socks end up with a few mis-matched moments where the ribbing doesn’t line up because I was actually, say, paying attention to the movie more than the knitting (go figure), and I get little blips like this. I always leave them there. Then I can think, “oh yeah, that’s from when I was sitting in ‘The Avengers.’ That sure was a fun movie.”

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The nice part about being finished with a pair of socks is that I get to pull out yarn for the next pair. I might just slide another Socks That Rock pair onto the needles, or dig a little bit in my stash. It’s always great to end the summer with some new pairs of socks that are ready and waiting for you in the fall.

Since we’ve past the solstice I suppose we can officially say summer is here. What are your grand (or not so grand?) knitting plans for the summer? A person can accomplish quite a few projects in two or three months – no time like the present to get cracking!

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Keep it up, internet

Today I met up with fellow knitter Lisa and we went to an awesome Picasso exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Then, we had coffees in the gallery cafe and knitted and chatted about movies and tv and yoga and cats and basically all normal things that people would talk about, except that we did it whilst knitting, and I can report that it was 100% amusing to watch the expressions of people walking through the cafe and realizing that we were, in fact, knitting in the middle of an art gallery cafe. And also, the woman behind the counter at the cafe recognized we were knitters from the fact that we were wearing knitted things, and then we had a brief exchange about patterns, and also exchanged Ravelry usernames (hi, cafe lady! nice to meet you, if you’re out there!) and it wasn’t until about an hour later as we were leaving the gallery that it finally dawned on me that we had just exchanged internet names but hadn’t actually exchanged real names, and that at no point had it ever occurred to me that this might be weird, because it was knitters. Knitters are cool, right?

And I had a whole post brewing in my head about shawls that I was going to post later (which I’ll still get to next time, because I do like shawls), and then after an afternoon of being offline I got back on the bus to head home and caught up on the internet, and read about how the US Olympic Committee apparently has nothing better to do than to pick on knitters for doing things like making fun knitting competitions whilst viewing the Olympics. (Which, seriously, if there isn’t at least one person in that organization asking themselves right now exactly how far they have strayed from the spirit of their organization, I give up on humanity.)

Then I kept reading the internet and came across this post of really super awesome photographs, which you should absolutely look at, especially if you happened to be annoyed about things like over-zealous people picking on knitters.

And then another knitter pointed me in the direction of this pretty super awesome video from Matt (whose previous videos are worth watching if you haven’t seen them already), and that was the topper. If there is an antidote to the frustrating parts of humanity (say, the sort that would like to pick on knitters congregating in fun and friendship to do things like knit while cheering on Olympic athletes from all over the world, I’m just going off of the top of my head here), then this is definitely in the right direction. And while we’re at it, a good reminder about how people who experience and communicate significant portions of their lives via media on the internet (knitters included), are in fact, people.

Happy knitting, friends who live in the computer! You’re awesome.

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A zero sum game

Every so often when I’m at a knit night or teaching a class or in some kind of group knitting scenario, a newer knitter has something happen to them that causes them to choose to rip out and re-knit knitting they’ve already done. (I say ‘choose’, because in the grand scheme of things, this is knitting, and in knitting you get to choose what comes off of your needles. Granted, some ‘choices’ are probably more adviseable in some circumstances than others, but there’s nobody stopping you from ignoring them if you so desire). And it’s generally met with visible sympathy by the group, because dudes, we have all been there. We understand what it’s like to experience a fairly intense existential crisis inside your head for the five seconds or so it took for you to realize the problem and the solution, before you ripped the work off the needles and started pulling.

June13-Swatching

The other thing that I have seen happen, often in tandem with the above, is an expression something along the lines of “oh I can’t wait until I’m a better knitter and I don’t make these stupid mistakes any more.” Well let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, if you are under the presumption that being a more experienced or skilled knitter is in some way related to making fewer mistakes, I am here to divest you of that assumption. (There are some people who would divest you of that assumption by laughing a lot. I may or may not be one of those people.) I’ve been knitting pretty hard core for about a decade and the projects on my needles come from my own brain as often as not, and dude, if there’s a way to do this and be perfect at the same time, I am still waiting for that moment to arrive.

This week I am in the trenches of a fairly heavy amount of design prep, and since the only way to get out of it is through, I’ve been making good use of my swatching, measuring, calculating, and generally all of the brain-related knitting skills I can, to try to head off as much of the potential mistake-making as possible. What ends up happening of course, is that the insanity happens all at once at the beginning rather than being neatly dispersed throughout. (I’m still not sure which is preferable, actually).

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Sometimes it’s awesome and flows like a zen-filled river: I make a nice generous swatch, wash it and lay it out to dry, and when I check it the next day it comes out at a nice predictable gauge for the needle I used, and I sally forth and write up all the notes. Other days are like yesterday, when after working through a portion of the knitted piece, something niggled at me and I double (quadruple) checked my gauge swatch and realized I was off by one stitch. So, I dutifully went back and changed all my numbers – grudgingly, but it had to be done and so I did it. Then, later, when I was wrestling with a portion of ribbing and after re-casting on a second time that it still wasn’t doing what I wanted it to…and I realized with a sinking feeling that this was because I had mis-calculated the number of stitches in one of the cable panels that the ribbing was setting up..and I had to change all my numbers again.

Then, when I was knitting away on it again (this time with a large mug of theoretically soothing tea), I realized with an even sinkier sinking feeling that actually because the gauge change I dealt with in Realization #1 would in fact account for a bit more cable suckage and I didn’t actually need to make all of the changes I did as a result of Realization #2…and after a day of all that, I was finishing pretty close to where I’d started in the first place.

I suppose the moral of the story is that sometimes, even if it seems like you’re playing a zero sum game, there is still forward movement to be found. But this afternoon I’m still stocking up on potato chips. They’re awfully supportive of me.

May your weekend have successful knitting in it!
Happy Friday.

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Slow and steady wins it

First order of business, knitting friends, and that’s to award a winner from Friday’s book review and giveaway post. Thanks to my friend the random number generator, the winner is…

Number 18, or collegeknitting. Congratulations and I’ll be in touch asap to get you your copy! Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveway, it is always so exciting to give things away and you just never know which day will be your winning one.

Knitting continues normal pace around these parts, and along with various stages of design work behind the scenes, I’m getting in gradual but steady progress on a few of my summer projects.

The lacy orange Pi Shawl is still orange and has little bit more to show for itself…

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The socks I cast on for movies last month have about half a sock left to go before making a pair (and I still haven’t seen Snow White & The Huntsman yet, so that’s got to be good for another bit of sock progress there)…

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…and the green lacy thing I cast on with Willow St. silk from Shall We Knit is on its way to being a slightly larger lacy thing.

June11-WillowSt

A warm week awaits, and despite all the projects on my needles already, I can’t help but think ahead to new ones. There’s lots of June left to go and lots of knitting can fill that time! Happy Monday, where ever you are.

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Book Review and Giveaway

Don’t get too lost in your weekend just yet, knitting friends, for I have one more book review and giveaway for you today! (Never fear, though, I do promise a return to regular knitting project chatter ;) ) Today I round out my set of spring book reviews with California Revival Knits, by Stephannie Tallent.

I have gotten to know Steph a little bit over the last several months as a tech editor, and she is just as fastidious and capable as a designer. I knew she’d put together a book of interesting and diverse patterns, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was all about in terms of ‘California Revival.’ And then I opened up the book and saw the pictures of the architectural and stylistic inspiration for the patterns and thought, “Oh! It’s like Hearst Castle!” Which is to say, I visited Hearst Castle two summers ago when I was in California, and I realize now it is one of the clearest approximations of the California Revival style that I’ve seen with my own two eyes – in other words, it is a blend of revivalist European styles (Mediterranean, Spanish) and arts-and-crafts construction. There are lots of mosaics, tile work, organic lines, wrought iron, and so on.

The cowl on the cover (and a similar pair of fingerless mitts) are great examples of this in colour-work form, but there are a variety of techniques on showcase here, along with some instructional support on how to execute them. The beaded ‘Tiles Sweater’ below is one of my favourites, which I would enjoy knitting and wearing for myself (it’s done in fingering weight, which would make it practical for a wider variety of temperatures than a heavier sweater would).

I also quite like the inclusion of twisted stitches (go figure!) in a couple of patterns, such as the Wrought Mitts, below. There is overall a variety of garments as well as a variety of techniques to try out. If you are a knitter who has mastered the basics and are looking for some elegant challenges, there are 14 patterns to choose from that will each offer you something different. The photographs (all by Kathy Cadigan) are all very clear, as is Steph’s description of her creative process.

As with all publications from Co-operative Press, this is available in both electronic and hard copy format. If you’d like to win a PDF copy of this book, leave a comment here telling me, if you only had the choice of one knitting technique for the next week, would you choose cables, colour-work, or knitting with beads?
I’ll draw a winner from among the comments sometime after noon on Monday (EST).

Until then, it promises to be a warm weekend here, so I expect my knitting shall be in the shade with a refreshing (possibly adult) beverage. I hope that yours will be too. Happy knitting this weekend!

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First Principles

This past weekend I had another delightful day of teaching at Needles in the Hay, where there was much lace discussion. I taught a Lace 101+ class in the morning (I call it that because I really cannot guarantee where my dividing line between beginner and intermediate actually falls, or if such a line exists at all). It was a good time, and as per usual when I teach a technique class, I basically leave wanting to go home and start on at least 3 more projects using said technique.

June2-LaceClass

I’ve also been puttering around the laceweight yarn for some spring/summer lace knitting of my own, and a skein of Turtlepurl Angel lace laceweight came onto the needles last week to start on a Queen Silvia stole (Ravelry link). It’s gorgeous yarn, and a gorgeous pattern, but it niggled at me that it might not be the right combination.

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But after some fun shawl-show-and-tell during class, I came home and realized what I really just wanted to do with the yarn, and that was just make it into another Pi Shawl. (Instructions in Knitter’s Almanac.) I finished my first Pi Shawl about a year and a half ago (Lorraine is wearing it in the picture above), and for months now I’ve been ogling it and wishing I had, well, one in every colour. WELL THEN. Now the orange part of the colours will be covered, along with the purple. Or at least, it will be in a matter of time. It always starts so easily, then fools you with the incrementally expanding stitch counts as you happily drift around and around and around.

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I do love how it starts, though. When it’s small and has just enough stitches to fit inside your 16″ circular needle is when you can see the structure of it the best. I’m doing the yarnover version, where every 6th row you work a round of [k2tog, yo] repeats. It’s very simple, and very effective. And a single 1300-yd skein of alpaca/silk/cashmere laceweight is lofty and light enough that I can shove it in a project bag and carry it around in my handbag without a second thought. This might not end up being my only summer lace knitting – I still have my eye on those beautiful Knitted Lace of Estonia patterns – but it’ll be a nice and simple project to have on the go.

Happy knitting this Thursday, internet friends!

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