A Giveaway Winner, and Yarn Chatter

Wow, so many of you commented on my giveaway post, with so many fabulous fall knitting plans! I particularly salute those of you who are already on top of your holiday gift knitting, because I have to admit that hasn’t even crossed my scattered mind yet. I wish I had more than one skein of yarn to give away, but as it is I’m pleased to announce a winner, thanks to the friendly neighbourhood random number generator. And it’s wee number 16 that pulls the winning prize! Congrats to Lynn Scott, commenting on Oct 29th. Lynn, I’ll be in touch about getting your prize to you.

RANDOM.ORG   True Random Number Service

In other news, let’s talk a little bit about yarn – specifically, knowing how much to buy! Last week after my Rhinebeck yarn haul post, a couple of you asked about how does a person know how much yarn to buy for a particular kind of project? It’s something we all have to grapple with when buying a new batch of yarn.

This is often made easier if you know you’re going to be making a small project. For example, “sock yarn” tends to come in 100g-ish skeins that are the right amount for an average pair of socks (but get two if you’re making socks for large men’s feet). In fact, you can usually get a single project out of something with at least 100g in it, like a hat or a pair of mitts. My Squall Hat pattern, for example, takes a single 100g skein of chunky yarn, and the Union Station beret also takes a single 100g skein even though it’s worsted weight, not chunky.

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Larger projects, on the other hand, are trickier. Once you get into the habit of making large projects like sweaters, or even blankets (do people knit multiple blankets? I knitted one like five years ago and am just now recovering), you start to know how much yarn to grab. For me, I know that 7 or so 100g skeins of something (like Cascade 220 worsted-weight, below) will be enough for a sweater. I can get away with 6 skeins if it’s not terribly complex or cabley (cables eat up yarn more so than stockinette or knit/purl textured patterns), or if I’m doing 3/4 sleeves instead of full sleeves. I know this because I’ve made a lot of sweaters for myself, so I’ve had practice picking out yarn.

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If you haven’t had a lot of practice picking out yarn for your own large projects, though, or if you’re knitting a sweater for someone else, you can do two things: 1) be at the mercy of the yarn requirements for the pattern, or 2) estimate based on standardized guidelines like these, or, more popularly, these, in a leaflet which is frequently sold at yarn shops right near the counter. (Also makes a nice knitter gift!) The trick with #1 is that you need to know what pattern you are going to make in advance of purchasing the yarn, which doesn’t always happen. Some of us would argue that this rarely happens, in fact. (It’s just so easy to get taken in by beautiful yarn sometimes.) So, in that case we end up resorting to #2 and going in with an estimate based on chest circumference of the finished garment.

In either of these instances, you need to know a few things off the top of your head, especially if you end up chatting with a friendly yarn shop employee for advice on your purchasing needs:
-What size garment am I going to be making with this?
-Do I think it’s going to have a whack of cables and bobbles and fussy yarn-eating stitches on it?
-Do I think I’m going to have to modify a standard pattern to add or subtract yarn? i.e. is my body likely to be shorter/longer/smaller/bigger than what standard patterns are written for? (I say this as a Tall Person who frequently adds length to sweater bodies and sleeves. My friend Jessie who is 8 inches shorter than me has the opposite problem).

The other piece of advice here that you’ll tend to hear a lot, is always buy an extra ball/skein of yarn if you can help it. It just does not hurt to have the extra just in case. If you keep that extra skein tucked away with your original yarn store receipt (without winding up the skein and making sure not to lose any labels or anything), you can most likely return it if you don’t end up needing it. Or, you can keep it and make a hat or pair of mitts or something else small for yourself or a gift. Unless the yarn is very preciously priced or comes in very large skeins, erring on the side of extra is just plain sensible.

Have you developed your own ‘system’ for remembering project amounts? Do you keep an index card of project yardage in your wallet for emergencies, or have other helpful steps at the ready? Share them in the comments and we’ll all be excited to learn them.

Have a great Thursday afternoon! Hopefully with some knitting in it, and a refreshing (adult?) beverage at the end of the day.

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A Yarn Giveaway

About a week ago, our autumn took a sharp turn at the traffic lights from Gentle Late Summer Breeze to Holy Crap Where Is My Winter Coat. And although I’ve been really looking forward to the arrival of Sweater Season, I forgot that that also tends to coincide with Hat, Mitt, Cowl, and Scarf Season, and promptly went digging around for all of those things I put away many months ago.

This is good timing, since a little while ago the fine folks over at Mountain Colors yarns sent me a couple of skeins of their new Bozeman yarn, which is a thick-and-thin bulky yarn that is pretty well perfect for quick warm accessories, or even a big huge blanket if you were of a mind to dive in to such a project.

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It’s 100% wool, thick-and-thin, in all of the beautiful Mountain Colors colours, and quick enough to knit that it really is quite embarrassing that I haven’t knitted more on this yet. I must have, uh, been finishing up a couple of Rhinebeck sweaters or something, heh. Because there’s some nice variation in colour and texture already, I decided to keep things super simple and just do a long garter stitch ‘scarf’ over about 25 sts, that I’ll then sew up the ends on and make into a big warm cowl once I’ve got it as long as it wants to be.

BozemanScarf

Luckily for you folks, they sent me a 2nd skein to give away to a knitter – and that knitter could be you!

To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post between now and Thursday noon (EST), telling me what your favourite fall knitting project is right now. Thursday afternoon I’ll pick a winner and make sure the skein of yarn comes your way.

Good luck, and happy knitting this evening!

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But it’s really not all about the yarn, I swear

As Stephanie so nicely put it, the best part of Rhinbeck is being around friends and a lot of other people who don’t think knitting is silly. It’s a really great thing to be amongst your people like that, and know that if you stop someone dead in their tracks to ask them what a) they are knitting b) they are wearing c) they are going to knit with that yarn they are holding d) colour they are going to buy because that blue yarn they are holding looks way better than the blue one they put down, it’s all fine. People usually get it, in a way that you can’t usually count on when you’re mingling with the non-knitter people in everyday life.

Rhinebeck-PurchasesSTR

And really, if you’re going to travel all that way and spend all that time on a weekend trip, only to buy yarn and then bring it home again and skip over all the other parts of getting to hang out with nice people and drink wine in the evening (and maybe eat lots of cheese plate dinners, not that I would know anything about that), then you’re definitely missing the whole picture.

Having said that, though, uh. I bought some yarn. I mean, let’s not pretend it isn’t partly about the yarn, right?

I am proving to be quite a creature of habit with my Rhinebeck purchases – I bought from the same 3 vendors as I did last year, and I looked a ton of other great stuff that I am reminding myself to save up some cash for next year. I suppose when confronted with such a huge amount of selection, it’s easy to retreat to familiar ground. Well, not retreat, perhaps – embrace.

I snagged a couple of skeins of Socks That Rock Mediumweight (above) from The Fold, in Grawk and another colour whose name I forget at the moment. I always include a couple new pairs of ribbed socks in my knitting rotation during the year, and STR Mediumweight just goes by so nice and quickly. I also hemmed and hawed over a sizeable Green Mountain Spinnery purchase, but felt pretty good bringing this pile of DK-weight wool/alpaca blend in a nice deep red. I don’t know what this will be yet (I don’t usually, to be honest), but it’s nice to look at while I figure it out.

Rhinebeck-PurchasesGMS

I also stood in a Very Long Line to grab an armload of Miss Babs Yowza Whatta Skein. It’s a nice superwash wool in worsted weight and lovely colours, and I had started out with only one sweaters worth and then upped that as the time in line started to grow. It wasn’t the worst line ever, because so many people walk by you while you’re in it that you eventually start to see familiar faces to say hi to, but a person still wants to make it worth the investment. So here are 2 sweaters worth, in Beachglass and Talking in My Sleep. mmmm, fun yarn times ahead.

Rhinebeck-PurchasesMissBabs

And that’s the yarn-ish wrap-up! Believe me I have more knitting plans for the coming fall and winter than I know what to do with (Shorter: All The Sweater Knitting Fantasies), but I’ll manage somehow, I know I will.

Happy knitting this weekend!

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Another year of knitting tourism

Rhinebeck weekend has come and gone for another year, and once again it was a great time and went by all too quickly! I will allow that I am very glad to have my own bed to sleep in again, but it is a real bummer that my usual schedule does not come with a rented house full of friendly knitters, and daily ginormous cheese plates. (And I really do mean ginormous). Although let’s face it, probably it’s better for my waistline about that last part.

Rhinebeck-RavelryMeetup

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It was a good time, though, and I even managed to snap a few photos. There were several knitters out there wearing knits from patterns of mine, and that was a very exciting thing to see out in the wild!

I saw a few fabulous Chatelaine and Jurisfiction cardis that I regretfully did not get photos of myself (sometimes the brain can only act so quickly on fair day!) There were also a few gorgeous Royales out there:

Rhinebeck-RoyaleMichelle

Rhinebeck-RoyaleJessie

This intrepid knitter and I both had our completed Burrard cardigans (and she even added cables to the sleeves of hers, like a genius):

Rhinebeck-BurrardPair

And this lovely Peterborough knitter whose name I have also totally forgotten, wore her lovely Locke St. cardigan:

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There was also a lot of fair food (mmm, cheese-covered fries…), standing in lines (I think I saw all of the fair pass me by while standing in the epically long Miss Babs line), and sit-on-the-couch-and-drink-wine-with-friends time, which is of course the best part.

And of course there was shopping! I’ll be sure to be back next post to report on the goods. There’s always so much to look at and so many hard decisions to make.

I hope your Tuesday has some great knitting in it! Until next time,

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The Rhinebeck sweater

I’m looking forward (as are many other knitters across the continent and beyond, no doubt) to my annual trip to Rhinebeck next weekend, and it’s a toss up whether the knitting time and yarn time are a bigger draw over getting to spend time with knitter friends I usually only see in the internet, or vice versa. As I’ve been knitting away on sweaters the last few months I’ve had Rhinebeck in the back of my mind as the goal wearing time for them as well, since a lot of knitters generally make Rhinebeck the knitting deadline for a finished project they want to wear. My Locke St. cardigan is definitely going to be coming with me, as it is now finished (I really am going to get photos of it, I swear), but after I finished that one I started right away on a Burrard cardigan as a second one.

Oct9-Burrard1

This one has been my train knitting for the last month or so, and I’m really loving how it’s turning out so far. I’m actually onto the second of the fronts which means that all that remains after that is the finishing and the collar. It’s non-negligible, but I sort of realized that the part of my brain that is happy that Rhinebeck is now just a week and a half away is not the same part of my brain that would normally point out that a week and a half is really not a fully expansive amount of time, and this will be cutting things a bit finely especially if I plan to get any other knitting done during the same time (which I do).

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I think it’ll be good, though. The nice thing about being Canadian in all of this is that Rhinebeck weekend is preceded by our Thanksgiving weekend, which includes a holiday Monday, which of course means more knitting time. (Do holidays mean something else? I would find that hard to believe.) Although I do need to track down buttons, I’ve got enough yarn, that I am sure of (it’s Madelinetosh DK, in ‘oxblood’), and I’ve been in lots tighter Rhinebeck knitting spots before.

I do have one little snafu to go back and correct – Madelinetosh yarn is beautiful but also prone to dye lot inconsistency, and when I switched skeins at the top of a sleeve cap I neglected to alternate rows for a bit to ease the transition, and well, now I have a dark splotch at the top of the sleeve. (I remembered to alternate rows when I switched skeins on the body, though, so it was a decent cautionary moment.) It’s a small fix, but one I’ll have to go back to all the same.

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Then all that will be left is to hope the weather cooperates and brings some sweater-appropriate temperatures! Fingers crossed all around.

Happy knitting this Wednesday!

 

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A handknit runway

Last week Twist Collective was the special guest at the Downtown Knit Collective in Toronto, and it was quite the evening of eye candy. And when I say “Twist Collective” was the guest, I do mean about as much of Twist Collective as could be fitted in one evening in one lecture hall. Kate Gilbert herself (the editor of Twist Collective) came down from Montreal (despite travel plans being delayed by a terrible train/bus crash earlier in the day), and co-hosted the evening with Fiona Ellis, who I know put quite a lot of planning into the whole affair. She sweet-talked me into taking some photographs, arranged models for what must have been about five or six dozen different garments for the fashion show, and made sure as many local Twist Collective contributors as possible were there. Many knitters in the audience also wore their own hand-knitted Twist Collective pieces, which was fabulous!

Twist-AllB

The main event was the fashion show, and it was quite something. I am willing to bet everyone in the audience went home with their heads full of new ideas about what to knit next, because after seeing so many different garments being modelled right there live and in person, it must be very difficult to resist temptation! One thing that was really neat was seeing the garments being worn by women of different heights and body shapes. Magazine sample sizes do tend to represent a specific size range, but still each sweater looks a bit different on different people. Everyone looked fabulous in everything they wore, and I don’t think any of the models were exactly the same shape and sizes as another.

Here are a few snapshots from the evening – enjoy, and be sure to click the photo to see more details on the Flickr page.

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Twist-AppleCatchers

More knitting eye candy is always good to fuel the inspiration.
I hope you have some great knitting this fine Wednesday evening!

 

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New additions

Last weekend I went with my mom and sister down to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair (it and the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic in the spring are the two bi-annual yarn purchasing pilgrimage opportunities in the area). It was nice to see a few familiar knitter faces in the crowd. I also had no specific purchasing plans going in, which can often lead to disaster (read: way overspending), but I managed to come away with a small selection of things that were new to me and fit my current knitterly needs.

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This lovely armload of grasshopper-green superwash DK came home with me, from The Black Lamb. I’d bought sock yarn from them before but wanted to branch out a bit further, and have been on the lookout for more DK-weight yarn for sweater projects. This shade of green is one that I started doing more with for knits for myself last year, and I like it enough to keep working with it some more. Some time this year I’d like to make myself another Jackson Creek cardi or Chatelaine cardigan for me (the original Chatelaine sample is out at yarn shops), so I’m looking forward to pondering when and how to deploy it later this season.

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I have also lately started to realize that knitting project bags are things I can always use more of – particularly the kind that zip or tie closed, rather than just simple tote bags – and so I found myself at Zig Zag Stitches‘ booth and came away with a couple of dandy items. I like their combination of fabrics and attention to detail. Even a little inside pocket on the big bag? Heck yes.

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Sept22-ZigZag2

Clearly, I had green on my brain that day. Not too shabby though. Looking forward to playing with these and hatching more fall knitting plans as the days get cooler.

Have a great rest of your knitterly weekend!

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