Monthly Archives: February 2007

It’s Monday already?

I did manage to do one or two non-knitting things this weekend, including another foray into baking – this time, my first attempt at chocolate eclairs. I just keep thinking about the eclairs we used to get at a bakery in the neighbourhood where I grew up…These aren’t quite the same, but they’ll do:

(Mmmm….)

While searching online for recipes I was also shocked and amazed at the number of recipes that tell you to use Cool Whip in the filling. Ugh. ::shudder:: Anyway, I used this pastry recipe and this frosting recipe and used regular whipped cream for the filling. The choux pastry was surprisingly easy, and after that it was just a matter of getting out the mixer to whip things. I think this may actually have been easier than baking cookies.

I also put in more effort on the Kitchen Sink sweater, and have started the back portion of the raglan decreases:

(Everything But the Kitchen Sink sweater, zipping along at lightning speed)

Once I finish the body I think I will pause on this and go back to my socks for a bit. I’m noticing that, even though I’m still keeping the colours pretty random, I do feel myself reaching for yarns in the same kinds of order – I tend to reach for the same purple yarn after a particular red yarn, that sort of thing – and I figure I’ll give myself a creative breather after doing so much so quickly.

Onwards to Monday…

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Filed under chocolate, everything but the kitchen sink

There is no actual knitting in this post…

…or at least, no knitting of mine.

First, check out Knitbert’s finished Ivy! Hm, maybe I need one in pink, too…

Now, check out my mom’s latest FOs:

(Two Devans – Austermann step and Regia Silk (blue/grey), and Austermann Step and Lang Jawoll (grey/brown), complete and ready to be gifted)

I mentioned in passing that I could post pics of them on my blog, and now I think she might hurt me if I didn’t. Anyhoo, now that mom knows about Knitty, she’s being going off and knitting a batch of the kids’ patterns for gifts (I think she did at least one each of Trellis and Daisy, as well). She said the Devans took her longer because she had to go off and find the matching section of the Austermann Step repeat to make the cardigan halves match. I mentioned that maybe she could have just made them asymmetrical and interesting looking, but clearly I was misinformed by that idea. ;)

Anyhow – who wouldn’t love a grown-up size of these, I ask you? Cuteness squared.

And lastly, check out this feathery guy, who was very cheerful yesterday during the temporary melt:


He’s probably not chirping so much today, though – or at least I wasn’t, since the cold has returned and it took all my willpower just to exit my bed this morning.

I’ve got knitting going – have started the “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” sweater and loving it. I’m 5 inches into the ribbing and am going to wait until I’m at least finished the ribbing before posting a photo. At this point I haven’t even used all of the colours yet, it’s pretty neat.

Happy almost-weekend!

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Potential Ivy modifications

(From the Ivy photoshoot – of course I look this cosmopolitan every day, why do you ask?)

In the six months (whoa! six months already? where has the time gone?) since Ivy arrived at Knitty, I have continued to be amazed at how much feedback I have had on the pattern. I still get emails every month from knitters who are enjoying the pattern or who need help with a certain step. It’s very gratifying.

I also know that not every pattern is suited for everyone identically, so based on the six months’ worth of various blogosphere murmurings, emails, and progress over at the Knitalong, I thought I would make a note of possible ways you can adjust Ivy to make the pattern your own, if…

1. I don’t like bell sleeves.

A couple of knitters over at the Knitalong have simply avoided the bell sleeves by working the ‘twisted rib’ stitch even on the whole cuff, casting on fewer stitches as though both the decrease rows had already happened and simply working with that many stitches for the whole cuff. (I hope that makes sense.) I think this would produce a slim, fitted cuff.

2. The pattern’s too short for me.

(a) If it’s too short in the torso, your easiest fix is to add length on the back and front pieces after the side shaping increases and before the armhole decreases. As long as you add the same amount of length on all 3 pieces, you’ll be fine. A good time to test out if you need this extra step is to hold up the back piece against your body right before you would start the armhole decreases, and see where the waist seems to fall. If it falls too high, go ahead and add a few more rows in stockinette before starting the armholes.

(b) If the sweater is too short across the hips, you can extend the length by working more repeats of the ‘twisted rib’ Ivy pattern before beginning the decreases. This is something you’d have to anticipate before beginning the sweater, I’ll grant you. Adding one extra repeat will give you a little less than an inch more in length. I’m considering this option myself for a 3rd Ivy (when? who knows…someday….) to give it more of a jacket feel.

3. I’d prefer a pullover instead.

I’ve not tried this option, but I have received emails from knitters who want to try modifying Ivy into a pullover, and honestly I can’t think of a reason not to try it. If you were to work with 2 “back” pieces, and make the second “back” piece into a “front” piece by working some neckline shaping, that could work. You could fashion a collar by working a long thin single-repeat of the ivy pattern just as the collar on the wrap has, and then seaming it into the open neckline of the “front.” I imagine this could be attempted easily with a v-neck collar. You’d have to know your way around neckline modifications to do this, but I don’t see why it couldn’t be attempted. BUT, you might also want to consider finding a pullover pattern that you like and modifying it by adding the Ivy stitch along the hem and cuff.

Lastly, if you’re making any modifications that involve length, be sure to have some extra yarn on hand – I’m sure this goes without saying, but hey, you never know ;)

(Wait, I can get this right, gimme one more shot…)

For most people, the biggest challenge seems to be working around the concept of the “at the same time” instruction for the front pieces, alerting you to work the waist shaping/armhole shaping at the same time as the neckline shaping. All this means is that you have to remember to occasionally increase stitches at one end (for waist shaping increases) while you also remember to decrease stitches at the other end of the piece, in a different way (for the neckline shaping decreases). For most people, this is just a matter of figuring out a notation system or memory system to help them keep track of how far they are in each set of shapings. I know I’m not the only knitter that uses the “at the same time” instruction, so if you’re coming across it for the first time with Ivy, then rest assured this knowledge will serve you well for other patterns.

I had one knitter suggest to me that I should modify the pattern to write out row-by row stitch counts to help track these things. Um. All I’ll say is, if someone else wants to spend the time doing this for several dozen rows on each of the nine pattern sizes, they can feel free to give me a call. ;)
I’ve been working on a few other designs in the mean time and I have to say I’m disappointed not to have any complete submissions yet…but hopefully soon! I am never in a shortage of ideas, I’ll say that for sure. If only there were more knitting hours in the day…

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Book Review: Glamour Knits, by Erika Knight


Glamour Knits arrived on the shelves in January at the same time as Erika Knight’s other book Classic Knits, which contains several versatile and practical pieces. Glamour Knits is an entirely different kind of book, although its format and written style is nearly identical to its companion. Many of the yarns are similar, and both books’ patterns rely only on straight needles. While there are a few patterns in Glamour Knits that I could easily envision knitting for myself, overall I found myself somewhat disappointed the more I looked through the pages. (Can’t tell what’s “knitted” in that cover art photo? Neither can I.)

A more apt title for this book would be, ‘Knitting with Glamorous Finishing’ – the glam elements in many of these patterns come from the application of ribbons or sequins, or the combination of knitting with fabric. For example, the off-shoulder Cable Sweater would be the sibling of the Classic Knits Bardot Sweater, but for the addition of sequins intertwined along with the cables (a dubious choice, in my opinion). The Jacquard Scarf is a simple bulky-weight scarf which combines several different yarns – and this would be already be attractive and comfortable – but is made ‘glamorous’ by the addition of beads and applique sequins (which for some reason are listed as ‘optional’ by the pattern requirements). The final example of this is the Chinoiserie Cardigan. It is without a doubt an attractive sweater, but once again the most glamorous element comes from the Chinese-style printed satin lining. Dissapointingly, the pattern instructions not only list this lining as ‘optional’, but also omit any instructions on how to construct the lining itself.

These additional sewn elements certainly provide an element of glamour to the knitted pieces in this book. Most of these pieces are garments that I would wear myself. However, to critique this book as a knitting manual is difficult – if we remove the extra sequins and ribbons and beads, in most cases this leaves behind simple knitted pieces that rely on stockinette, ribbing, and some chunky cabling, just like the pieces in Classic Knits. This is not a manual for knitters to learn new techniques. Rather, this book expects knitters to know their way around a needle and thread and a notions store to glam-up their garments.

While I am largely critical of this book, there are a few exceptions which I think are genuinely attractive and make creative use of knitting techniques to produce wearable garments. One is the Lace Shrug, which uses fine gauge yarn to create a lacy rectangle, and then closes the ends into ‘armholes’ using satin ribbon – it looks attractive, comfortable, could be adjusted for women of any size, and shows off the skill of the knitter with a foray into lace. (However, lace knitters who prefer to rely on charts and symbols will be disappointed – all instructions are written in text only.) A second pattern I quite like is the Long Gloves, reminiscent of fancy opera gloves. They use two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze – which by itself is a positive attribute, since it gives knitters the chance to try out a small amount of a luxurious yarn – and would be an attractive complement to an evening wardrobe.

The Jacquard Scarf I mentioned above would also be a versatile piece, with or without the sequins, as well as a nice knitted gift. There is a long-sleeved Ribbed Shrug pattern which would be a relatively quick knit on 7mm needles (and requires no application of anything sparkly), and the Beaded Cuffs and Choker would be a fun way to raid the button drawer or pieces of old costume jewelry, in applying these to a knitted cuff and necklace set. And, there is a lace top in Rowan Kidsilk Haze which would be attractive with or without the ribbon ruffled faux-buttonband sewn at the throat.

So, while I would not say that there is anything truly glamorous about the actual knitting in this book, if you’re comfortable adding needle and thread to your knitting and would like to try out some slightly more luxurious yarns, then this book could be for you. For myself, I prefer the simplicity and versatility of Knight’s Classic Knits.

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The Joy of Finishing


The weather continues to fall in line with Project Spectrum’s grey, blue, and white theme for February and March:

(Snowy, fluffy footprints outside a local school.)

And, for the fourth time in as many weeks, some more things are done, around here:

(Patons Kroy Socks, ‘Winter Eclipse’, 3.0 mm needles and basic sock pattern; ‘The Woman in White’ for KTC)

The Woman in White was an enjoyable read, all 730 pages of it, and next up (well, currently up, I should say) with a couple of weeks to spare is Brideshead Revisited. Hey look ma, I can read books again!

As I say, this is the fourth knitted item I’ve cast off in the last few weeks, and without immediately casting on for something new. I’m trying to start a new phase of my knitting life where I take projects one at a time (or two at a time), because lately it’s been more like five-or-six at a time and that’s too many for my psyche to handle. Most of the projects I’ve recently finished were things that were on the needles for a few months, and they were causing me stress with their unfinished-ness because they were holding me back from casting on new things that I wanted to start.

So, new plan. I will not allow my knitting to cause me stress. I will take pleasure in project anticipation without casting on all the time.

I will enjoy my finished objects for their own merits, rather than using them as an excuse to immediately start three new projects.

I will remember that limiting the # of current projects on the needles does not limit my knitting abilities, and that in fact it allows me more freedom to choose what projects to try next.

I will also remember not to be disturbed by mocking laughter, should anyone be amused that I feel the need to write lists like this. ;)

Hey, I always say I like knitting for its challenges, right? ;)

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Filed under finished object: socks, knit the classics, knitting philosophy, project spectrum

Ouch.

Yesterday, there was some of this:

(Rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiippp….)

I’m not gonna lie. There may also have been some tears and some language I’m not proud of. After three years of knitting, some time in the last two weeks the gauge fairy has finally started to come around and kick me in the shins. This never used to happen to me. My only explanation is that I have been vastly underestimating my Thesis Anxiety. The result is that, the above (currently still camera-shy) project now has to be re-knit for a third time. Please allow me some mourning.

As I take a moment to grieve and gather my wits, I will return to knitting on this:

(My harmless Patons Kroy socks.)

…and I will cling to the belief that surely plain stockinette socks can’t hurt me. My world is all askew.

In other news, after Wool-Tyme frakked up my order for Cash Iroha, and my LYS seems to have every colour of that yarn except the one I want, I am considering putting Poppy plans on hold in favour of the Kitchen Sink sweater. Because I could probably start that today (if I wanted) just by pulling out oddballs and leftovers from my stash. Also, I bet that sweater would be damn fun.

May your Thursday bring you a minimum of knitting-related disasters.

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White?

I’ll show you white…

(The view from my front stoop.)

This is the most snow we’ve had in the T-Dot all winter, but it ain’t NOTHIN’ compared to what the rest of Southern Ontario and the northeastern United States have been getting. A shame, too, because I could have really gone for a rip-roaring blizzard and the excuse to snuggle at home such as people just west of us have gotten. Reports say upwards of 70cm. Is it wrong to be jealous?

In Valentine’s Day news, my pattern-a-day calendar is telling me to “impress my sweetheart or be the hit of the bridal shower, with this unique knitted thong!” Um. Maybe I’ll pass on that one. And since my sweetheart today will be something in chocolate form, and I have no bridal showers to speak of, I shall look elsewhere for knitting inspiration today ;)

(Also, another of my single friends reminds me that “Yarn loves you and never judges.” I feel that this is a wise mantra.)

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Weekend afternoons without knitting

Once upon a time I did used to spend my free time doing things besides knitting. Despite the fact that some people (my mother) ;) now ask me if I do anything else at all besides knitting, I think what’s happened is that knitting has slowly but steadily colonized all of my other hobbies. I used to work with beads, but now my bead box sits idly on the shelf. I used to bake things, but now only do that on special occasions. And of course, I did used to do a lot more reading for pleasure, not so much any more – although that may have more to do with the fact that I do various academic reading during the week and so reading has gradually lost its lustre.

Anyhoo. I went back to all of these things yesterday – dusted off The Woman in White and read 80 pages at bedtime, and in the afternoon I got out the beads…

(Beaded stitch markers, in sets of 6. Okay, so it’s beading that’s also knitting-related.)

I’d promised to make 2 sets of stitch markers for another knitter, and once I finally sat down to do it I just kept on stringing more sets, cranking out 7 sets altogether. I might have done more, except I eventually ran out of jump rings and my fingers were getting stiff from using the pliers. I’ll have to get more jump rings eventually if/when I want to do more – but around these parts the bead stores are located handily near a couple of my favourite yarn stores, so that way lies temptation and madness.

(Pseudo-early-Valentine’s Day cupcakes.)

And, well, there are very few things that will not be improved by cupcakes, don’t you think? Me too.

I did finish off the Ribbi Cardi on Friday, but have no FO pics to share as of yet – I still need buttons, and I also still need to gift it to the recipient (my supervisor), and so I’m holding off on any photos until I’m absolutely sure that it fits the wearer and all is well. I’m a little bit nervous and am crossing my fingers for the best, but I think all will be well. Thanks to the cold weather, I’m also dreaming of casting on for new things like this and this, but am being good and am still keeping myself on track with the things still on the needles.

Happy Sunday!

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Book Review: Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets

This is the second in a series of blog book reviews I am writing for Random House Canada. Today I take a quick peek at:


This is a recently updated edition of this book, which has been in circulation for more than a decade at least. It’s an extremely handy little book, and one that would partner well with technical reference books like Vogue Knitting: Quick Reference, and similar volumes.

Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets is not a pattern book, but it isn’t exactly a reference book, either. It’s quite a handy book to have, as I say, but it’s easily overlooked since it’s not very flashy or revolutionary, and I have the feeling it is the sort of printed volume that is losing a bit of spotlight due to the abundance of wisdom that exists in the unprinted form in cyberspace. It is a volume of collected pieces of wisdom from experienced knitters, assembled thematically. There are chapters such as ‘Yarn’, ‘Hand-Knitting Techniques,’ ‘Garment-Making Tips’, and ‘Managing Your Knitting’ – in short, it contains all the little tips and tricks that experienced knitters have learned, the knowledge that technical manuals like Vogue Knitting don’t necessarily stop to tell you about.

For example – any knit-bloggers who spend time on online knitting communties or message boards will have seen the inevitable series of newbie questions or practical questions (and may have asked plenty of such questions themselves). Things like, “how do I keep my yarn from rolling all over the place when I knit?”, and “how do I know if I have enough yarn left to cast off?” or “how can I twist a cable without a cable needle?” or “how do I make a buttonhole without it coming out all wonky?” Well, these are the kinds of answers that rest inside this book. They are the kinds of tips that now exist helter-skelter in various locations in the blogosphere, accompanied by a few schematic images and an index in one handy printed location. This is the kind of book that would make a good gift for the knitter who is either a) new, or b) in need of a single place to look when searching for ways to improve their knitting life.

My sister received a copy of this book from my mother years ago when she was first learning how to knit, and it bears the distinction of being the book that successfully taught her – from pictures – how to do the long-tail cast-on method. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, then what is? ;)

* * * *

In the next review: Glamour Knits, by Erika Knight.

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Finally

I have some prancing to do…

Feb7b 003
(Finished Baudelaires – large size, made with Fortissima Socka on 2.75mm DPNs)

These babies have been lingering on the needles for three months, taunting me with their unfinishedness from the bottom of the knitting basket. Despite all my knitting, I haven’t had a Finished Object in over a month, and my sanity couldn’t take it any more. I sat down yesterday and finished them. Ta da!

If you were here in person, I would probably be pointing out to you where all the mistakes are. “See, here’s where the heel is crooked, and where the toe is wonky, and where I made stupid mistakes all over the lace pattern…” But I don’t mind one bit. These are my first completed toe-up socks, with a heel flap no less, and I knew when I went into it that I was choosing this pattern as a skill-building project. To heck with perfection. I learned one version of a toe-up heel flap, I learned two toe-up cast-ons (Figure 8, which I don’t like as well, and the square toe, which I do like), a new lace pattern, the sewn bind-off, and more things about short rows. The modest intimidation factor of these things was, ultimately, what kept me from finishing them so quickly, but I’m glad I did it. I would knit these again.

(Baudelaires – slightly blurry still life with Hershey’s Kisses)

Have you seen these new Cherry Cordial Hershey’s Kisses? Damn. I am going to have to get me some more of these, I tell you what. You know the sweet, gooey, pink pasty stuff that sits in the bottom centre of a chocolate-covered cherry? Well, they took that crack yummy stuff and put it in the centre of a chocolate kiss. Mmmmmnnnngggghhhhmmmm. This may be the best thing since I discovered dark chocolate Milky Way bars in the States. Excuse me, I think I need to be alone with the bag for a moment…

But one last glimpse at the socks first. ;)

Feb7 008

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Filed under baudelaire, chocolate, finished object: socks, socks