Category Archives: knitting in public

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.

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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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Filed under finished object: socks, knitting in public

Filling the well

Well knitting friends, Sock Summit has come and gone for a second time. Good times were had by all, though I can attest that about 99% of us were pretty much saturated by Sunday. I think a naptime section of the Oregon Convention Centre would go over big. Maybe just a few sleeping mats and pillows in 20 minute spurts, you know? To let the knowledge sink in and the fatigue pass for a few minutes. But all in all, I think the fatigue is okay when you know you’ve been doing lots of mingling and learning and knitting and thinking, and this was a pretty awesome event. Steph and Tina and all the ST-1 and ST-2 team members deserve all the adulation in the world.

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It was bigger than the first time around but no less significant, and I am always impressed at how easy it is to “run into” knitters you know even when you are in such a big group. There were knitters all over the airport and on my flight to San Francisco (I am carrying on the vacation a few more days, taking the liberty while I’m already on the west coast), and it turned out that I spent the end of my Sock Summit trip much the same way it began – in an airport with Sandi Wiseheart. We knitted and chatted about our classes and thought about Knitting and Related Plans, and it was good. Sometimes I think events like this are the best purely for the non-event times, because when else do you get thrown in the path of knitters at such regular and like-minded intervals?

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On the last day of Sock Summit I attended a lecture with Fiona Ellis, and spent the rest of the day mingling around the marketplace, and getting to do two things I didn’t do last time at Sock Summit. One was to visit an actual real live yarn shop in Portland (you know, actually leaving the marketplace at the convention centre and going to a store. Whoa, man. Michele (thanks, Michele!) offered to drive me to her spot which is Twisted – and it is indeed an awesome shop.

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It is a pretty brilliantly arranged space – they have managed to create a shop that feels both big and small at the same time, is lit perfectly to show off all the colourful yarn, AND they have a great selection of materials – both yarn and tools. They also had one of the most fantastic bulletin board posting I have ever seen. Check this out and even if you can’t see all the notes, you can get the idea:

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These are all swatches knitted by folks at the shop, all with the exact same needle size, yarn, number of stitches and rows, and the same swatch style (flat, with garter at the edges). And you know what? Not only did none of them achieved the exact gauge written on the ball band, but none of them had the same gauge as another person in the group. Maybe two of them had the same stitch gauge, but differed in row gauge, or vice versa. It was great. This is why gauge swatching can be so powerful, my knitting friends.

The other thing that happened on Sunday is something that was new this time at Sock Summit, which was the ‘Fleece to Foot’ competition. Six teams of spinners and knitters worked from freshly-shorn fleece to produce as much as possible of a pair of handspun and handknit socks. And that fleece, it was as fresh as you could get. The nervous young sheep waited amongst the camera happy knitters, then protestingly but cooperatively sat for their public shearings.

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Then the fleece was sorted for the best locks and Clara Parkes (yes that Clara Parkes) took the first ones to card up and spin as a sample guideline for the spinning teams, who then worked for the next five hours as furiously as possible. I missed seeing the completion of the competition, but it was pretty great to watch in the early stages.

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Although I have now left Portland I have the rest of the week in San Francisco to look forward to – likely a combination of tourism and leisureliness, and more eating and visiting with knitters. Here’s hoping all of that goes according to plan.

Have a great week ahead! Catch you next time from The City.

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit, yarn stores

“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

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

Month’s end

Folks, I say this every month, but this time I honestly do have no real clue as to how the time has managed to pass so quickly. How is it possible that tomorrow it will be June? Many parts of me are in full on rejection mode about this. Especially the parts of me that are recoiling in horror at the 40C+ humidex that is already climbing in. Now really, a knitter needs a bit more time to adjust to this sort of thing. Especially when said knitter happens to be knitting a wool/silk pullover. (One could also argue that said knitter should really have moved on to the lace silk shawl already, instead, and one might be sort of right about that, but one would also have to deal with said knitter’s stubbornness. So.)

I’ve been busy enough behind the scenes here, keeping up with my running (and now with some rest after over-doing my poor hip, WOE is me), getting busy with some new designs for later this summer and the fall, and generally trying to get with a new routine. Speaking of catching up with a few things, though…

1. The TTC Knitalong (Calling Toronto-area knitters!) is happening yet again, with many excited knitters already planning to descend on the city, knit their way through the streets, streetcars, and subways, and converge with lots of happy purchases and chatter. If you’d like to sign up, do so quickly, since spots do sometimes fill up quickly on some of the teams! Have a 2nd or 3rd choice ready! I’m planning on volunteering along with one of the North teams if all goes well, since that’s a route I haven’t sat in on before. But they all promise yarn and good times.

2. In March I promised you that I would donate proceeds from my pattern sales to charity, in light of ongoing relief efforts in Japan and around the world. And although I mentioned the results of this on my Twitter feed, somehow it got away from my blog and I would be remiss not to finally report to you that, thanks to your purchases and a bit of my own top-up, I donated $400 to charity, split evenly between the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Thank you for your generosity, dear knitters!

3. In knitting progress news, I am pleased to report that my Silk Garden Hourglass sweater now has both two sleeves AND a body, and is moving along swiftly on the yoke. I’d hoped that I might have it done this month, but that does seem a bit less likely now given that, at the time of reporting, the month only has about six and a half hours left in it.

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Still, I am enjoying it. I ran into a bit of a fretful moment on the weekend when I realized I was down to my 2nd last ball of the darker colourway, but still had 3 more of the brighter one. Happily, I also happened to be hanging out with Lisa’s kitties on the weekend (cute kitty picture included below, for reference – new wee Athena, and Greedo), and her place is close to Passionknit, and they had a veritable wall of Silk Garden choices. Now that I have procured 2 extra skeins, I am sure this means I will now manage to squeak by to the very last yard of the original set of yarn, and not need them at all, but one does always want to be prepared to meet that eventuality with some reinforcements at the ready. Thankfully, Silk Garden is always useful to hang around the yarn stash.

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4. I’ve been doing a bit of pattern updating, and am happy to announce that my Lamplight Shawl is now available in wide release, both in my Ravelry store and on Patternfish. I did this pattern last year for The Sweet Sheep, and the larger version (very cozy, or so I think) uses one of her Soft Spun Super Skeins, which are wonderful in that you can get an entire big shawl out of one and never have to stop to join skeins or weave in ends.

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5. Sock Summit Registration happened – and I am pleased to have snagged a few classes once again! I’ll be knitting with Cat Bordhi, Cookie A, and Franklin Habit. It will be a great bit of vacation and visiting and knitting and learning (um, and maybe shopping) and general merriment. Will any of you be there as well?

Happy knitting! Catch you next month. (ha!)

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Filed under design, knitting in public, sweaters, Uncategorized

Worlds colliding

I am thinking now with fond thoughts on the weekend – it was a pretty great one, as weekends go. Despite being a bit weary post-move, I got to dash off to the big city again and spend the weekend with various friends – all knitterly, and friendly in many ways. Lisa put me up for the weekend and she had decided we needed kick things off with a visit to the local tea shop that was doing an afternoon tea in celebration of the Royal Wedding. (Was that just Friday? It feels like years ago now. Also: still grappling with the fact that Camilla is one day going to be Queen Camilla. Just seems somehow odd. Thanks Wikipedia reading on the Royals! The more you know…)

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Saturday, though, was the Knitter’s Frolic marketplace day hosted annually by the Downtown Toronto Knit Collective. I made out moderately bandit-like, though only partly via purchases. I spent a bit, as might be expected. A japanese stitch dictionary came home with me, along with these lovely skeins from Van Der Rock Yarns (the bright green ‘gypsum’ sock) and Indigodragonfly Yarns (the other 3 – mix of sparkly, merino/cashmere, and merino). It was a pretty leisurely few hours, and had some down-time waiting for Lisa to finish her class before driving back downtown, so I ended up chatting with a few people for a while. That was a nice change of pace from the rush and crush that often happens at these events. And lucky me, I also came back with a few skeins for designing with, as well as a lovely gift. Knitter and runner friend Kathy (who is also going to be running the Wellington Women’s Half Marathon in June, in Ontario), generously sewed me up a sparkly fun running skirt (mine was purple, hers pink – we will do the girly event in frivolous and possibly sarcastic style). And when I went to hand her back the bag that she’d put it in, she refused and said “no no, all that’s for you, too.” Lo and behold, I now own a lovely new sock project bag and a skein of fun chunky handspun. Thanks, Kathy!

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And speaking of knitters who are also runners, I got to round out the weekend with the Toronto Sportinglife 10k race on Sunday morning. It was pretty darned huge, and a bit jostly-crowded at times, but I’m happy with my time and it was a good run. Fellow knitter-runner (and new racer, despite being several minutes faster than me, darn her) Dr. Steph was there too, and we met up at the beginning and end and then later for post-race burgers and beer. I think that’s the best part, is the finishing and cheering afterwards. Here we are about 15 minutes after finishing, doing our best not to shiver in the cool-down chills under the Toronto grey skies.

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I am now working on Steph to do a half-marathon with me. I will win her over, I am sure of it, especially now that she has felt the glee of race-finishing.

Right now my possessions are in a transitional state, as I rearrange and organize, and my knitting is in a similar phase. I need to get some Finished Object photos in there for my Dusseldorf Aran (thank you for asking about it, friendly readers!) and start some new things. I’m thinking about a pair of sparkly Viper Pilots, since so many other folks have done it sounds like a good plan. And how can sparkly distracting things be bad, I ask you?

Until next time, dear knitters! Keep the yarn close by.

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Filed under knitting in public, real life miscellaney, running

Piecing together

On Saturday I had a blissful escape day into Toronto, to do some big city shopping and knitterly mingling. It was so great I’m planning a repeat this coming weekend, and made even more appealing by the fact that outside temperatures are showing actual warmth. (That whole plan to knit mittens and dare spring to come seems to be working).

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So, naturally, now that spring is coming, I’m finishing a sweater. I’ve been working on the Dusseldorf Aran (pattern by Fiona Ellis) off and on for about two and a half months now, mixed in with all the other miscellaney of knitting and regular life, and it’s been a lovely colour of Ultra Alpaca and the cables are great. The pieces are finished now, and it’s just the blocking and finishing left to do. I’ve been hemming and hawing a bit over whether or not the pleated sleeve cuffs (in progress, below), will be practical in my wardrobe (I imagine this will not be a sweater conducive to, say, washing dishes in the sink), and I see on Ravelry that other knitters have modified their Dusseldorfs to be simple straight tapering sleeves as is more traditional. But the thing is, the pleats are actually sort of fun. You knit, of course, way more fabric than you think you need on a sleeve cuff, plan in some fold lines (thanks, Fiona, for the awesome instructions), and then the pleating row comes along and you fold it all up with DPNs and do a lot of working 3 sts into one, and then you have a pleated cuff. That’s pretty great, man.

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I’d gotten up to finishing the body and the first sleeve last week, but was dragging my feet on starting the second sleeve, as one does. Still, I took it as an alternate project with me for transiting into the city (sleeves are eminently portable, as Elizabeth Zimmerman always said) last Saturday.

Therefore, if I’d actually been working on the sleeve while I was sitting knitting away at the random Starbucks I chose to start out my Toronto day last Saturday, it would have been much more perfect when I ended up running into Fiona Ellis herself.

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True story. She and her husband (who is just lovely and whose name, I am embarrassed to say, I have now forgotten, I keep wanting to say John but I’m sure that’s not going to be right), were out for Saturday coffee and we ended up chatting for a short while, about knitting and technique and design and all sorts of things. That was pretty darned neat, to say the least. I will, needless to say, now expect to have impromptu coffee chats with notorious knitters on every trip into Toronto, so if the city can get on that for this coming Saturday, that’d be great.

(Oh, and Fiona said blocking makes the pleats even more awesome. Can’t wait.)

Happy knitting!

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Filed under cables, knitting in public, sweaters