Monthly Archives: May 2007

Happy Mother’s Day!

My sister learned to knit from our mom, and I learned to knit from my sister (although I think there was that time that I tried to learn to knit for a Girl Guide badge when I was 9, which didn’t really take, I think mom must have taught me then), so I would expect there to be some shared genetic knitting traits among us:

1. We all throw stitches.

2. We all have even tension.

3. We all always get gauge. (Okay, this is maybe only 99% true, but it’s pretty close. Please forgive that I may have done a little hairflip while saying that.)

MomKnitting

Here we see Mom in a knitting habitat, knitting socks with yarn dyed from Kool-Aid. I think she was a little skeptical about the Kool-Aid at first, but now she wants to do more. We will arrange this. In her bag is also the ‘Knitting Rules’ book, but I digress.

There are a few key elements that distinguish Mom’s knitting from either mine or my sister’s, which I feel it is my duty to point out:

1. She does not ‘stash.’
This is not to say that she does not have a stash. She does, it’s just that she doesn’t tend to buy yarn for the purposes of stashing. Most of the time she actually buys yarn for a specific project, knits that project, stashes the leftovers, and then buys yarn for the next project. (With the exception of those 2 sweaters’ worth of Philosopher’s Wool she has artfully displayed in a basket in the basement, that I’ve been very good not to bug her about for many months.)

It’s always possible there is a huge stash that I have just never been allowed to see, but I would actually guess that her stash and my stash are not much different in size, and I’ve been knitting for 3 years while she’s been knitting longer than I have existed. Take from that what you will.

2. The majority of her knitting is for other people, not for herself. Seriously, you’ve never seen so many gift sweaters and blankets. Clearly this Knitting Niceness is not genetic, because the majority ofwhat I knit is for me, me, me. Hm.

3. She will knit pretty much anywhere, including board meetings. At said meetings she has been known to have men approach her and ask her how they can learn how to knit.

4. She has knitted sweaters for my father, who is 6 foot 5. And the sweaters fit him.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

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Relaxation

I went with my sister M and my friend R (visiting from NYC), to Lettuce Knit last night, where the No Sheep For You launch party took place. M had never been with me to LK before but was interested in the book, and R had been to LK on past Toronto visits and was most definitely going again. (I think the most surprising thing I heard all evening was when she said that, despite all the NYC yarn shops, there isn’t this same kind of knitting community in NYC as you find at Lettuce Knit in Toronto. Dude, colour me proud of Toronto knitters.)

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M and R are not weighed down by the stupid almost interminable shyness that I have had at going to Lettuce Knit knit nights. They just smile, chat happily with people, and buy stuff. I do not know why I couldn’t have just gotten up to that speed on my first go. I do not know why it took me about 8 visits to finally realize that, oh wait, none of these people will eat me alive and there is no hidden social hierarchy and there are no real rules other than “thou shalt knit” and it’s all fine. Really, it’s fine. I wonder why I couldn’t have realized all this before. (I dearly hope people don’t mistake my quiet restraint for disinterest. ::fidgets::)

Anyhoo, it was quite a fun night. We knitted, Amy gave away freebies like No Sheep buttons, and then drew tickets for door prizes. Hoo boy, that was some carefully orchestrated mayhem. I feel the need to point out that my sister, attending LK for the first time ever, scored an early draw and walked off (unknowingly) with a wound skein of Handmaiden Seasilk. (I got a book and it was great too, but still. MAN. Handmaiden. She is so damn lucky.) There were also chocolate cupcakes. And some beverages. And then when I came home I put my feet up and watched my videotaped crap television (still ‘Bones’) before bed, so all in all a good evening. I managed to restrain myself and not buy any yarn – they had a new supply of Euroflax Linen and I could have easily snatched some up, but I will try to finish the things on my needles right now and hopefully by that time there will still be some linen left. Hopefully!

Also, hooray for a Toronto Yarn Harlot event! Yay! I have friends in cities all over who have gotten to go to one of these, so i’m so excited I get to go to one too, now, May 25th at Bay&Bloor Indigo. There has been speculation of the Brennan Cardigan making an appearance, so maybe M can wear it and I can get off my bum and get the pattern written up and posted by then, too. (Now, if only I can remember what all of my design instructions were…) Maybe the weather will cooperate and cool down enough for me to wear an actual knitted sweater, too…my warm-weather handknits are sadly very few.

Happy Thursday! I am sending good thoughts to my hometown where a friend is having surgery today. Hopefully recovery will go well.

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Working through the guilt

I’ve never not had a stash. The first two projects I ever knitted, a baby blanket for a friend and a fluffy novelty scarf for me, were knitted with yarn I found on sale at Lewiscraft. (This was when Lewiscraft was a) still in business and b) the place I thought you went to buy yarn.) Like a good budding knitter, I bought too much and ended up with extra, although to be fair part of the buying extra was because I didn’t actually know how much yarn to buy for such projects. Now I buy extra on purpose anyway, but still…

PatonsYarn1

The majority of my stash is comprised of yarn that either has a specific project attached to it and is waiting patiently for its turn in the queue, or yarn that has a specific purpose and is waiting for a project (i.e. my sock yarn). On the other hand, then there is my Patons Divine stash. It’s a sort-of-mohair-mostly-acrylic blend that I went nuts for. Admittedly, it’s pretty fluffy and soft, so the allure is understandable. At the time, I bought patterns for it too – still when I thought patterns and yarn had to come from places like Lewiscraft – and now I still have it. I have at least 8 balls each of 3 colours of this stuff. That’s a pretty crazy amount of mohair-acrylic yardage to have hanging around the house, and it’s been sitting there idle for. so. long.

It’s not that I didn’t use it in the first place. Darn tootin’ I did – I made the two-strand coat and toque, then got started on a long, long, cardigan jacket sweater (whose pattern book no longer exists) and made it about 2/3 of the way before putting it down never to return to it again. The two-strand coat and toque got worn twice, then I admitted quite reasonably that it did not fit me at all well (too tight at the shoulders, too loose everywhere else), and so I ripped it. I ripped out double-stranded mohair blend.

Then, I tried to knit something else with the pink stuff, and failed miserably. The yarn did not want to be that sweater either. So it’s been sitting there, unknitted, in nice re-wound balls, for months and years, gleefully causing me vague emotional turmoil every time I think about it.

PatonsYarn2

After looking at Classic Knits a few months ago, I noted all of the chunky patterns included in that book, and I started considering the possibilities. These are patterns that use 10mm needles. The last time I used 10mm needles, I reminded myself, was when I was trying that crazy two-strand coat and toque that didn’t fit me. So I thought, ‘hmm, I could double-strand that stuff again’ – only this time not with another strand of Divine. I had a ball of pink Patons Merino that seemed to match the pink Divine quite well. I swatched just to see how it would work (I swatched! Look ma, I swatched!), and lo and behold, it turned out pretty well. Over Easter weekend I purchased some more Patons Merino and it’s been patiently waiting for its turn.

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So now, after an evening of knitting, I am already half of the way through the back of the Wraparound Cardigan jacket from Classic Knits. This is stupidly fast knitting. And since it’s supposed to be a slouchy shapeless floppy sweater, I am harbouring no illusions about proper fit or proper purpose. This will be a sweater to wear around the house in the winter when I feel like wearing a blanket but am supposed to put on clothes like a grown-up. I am keeping the faith that the 3rd time is the charm, and that the knitting fates might just let me have a finished sweater in a week and will let me absolve some of the yarn guilt. I’ll still have those 2 other colours to worry about, but chipping away at the pink makes me feel a million times better.

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Filed under stash, sweaters

The ‘Brennan Cardigan’

[Edited note, Dec 2013 - I'm no longer able to make this pattern available. Many thanks to those who have knitted and shown interest in it! I'll be sure to keep bringing  my attention to new designs in the future :) ]

So, a couple of posts ago I mentioned how my sister had just finished a really awesome sweater, and was going to let me talk about it over here. It’s really a stupidly geeky knitting story to be honest, but since I know I can’t possibly be the only television-obsessed knitter* out there, I’d go ahead and blather about it.

 

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The first thing that you need to know is that I regularly watch the show Bones. And when I say ‘regularly’, I mean that it’s become the only show that I have to watch when there’s a new episode out. Most of my other shows that I was addicted to are now either off the air (things like Alias or Buffy), about to be going off the air (Gilmore Girls), on painfully long hiatuses (Battlestar Galactica) or sucking so hard that I don’t even want to bother any more (Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy). To be fair, I don’t think Bones is about to win any awards any time soon. I enjoy the cast and I enjoy the series of books that the program is (loosely, VERY loosely) based upon, but the writing is pretty darned mediocre. Most of the time, I enjoy the pretty. If there’s a new episode airing on Wednesday nights when I choose to go to Lettuce Knit for Stitch ‘n Bitch night, I get M to tape Bones and then we watch it later.

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So, we spent a lot of the first season mocking the wardrobe and jewelry selections for the main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan. Sure, the woman’s a top-ranked forensic anthropologist and spends half her day bent over lab tables or mucking through crime scenes in boots and jumpsuits, but whatever! That’s no reason she can’t look like she walked off a Vogue cover shoot, right? Riiiiigghhhht. Thankfully, by late Season 1 and now in Season 2, her clothes have started to look more like things a 30-something modern professional might actually wear, and occasionally (like when she’s busy brooding over family history issues), she gets a sweater to wear.

This one (pictured in a few scant shots above) was what she wore in a couple of scenes in the Season 1 finale almost exactly a year ago, and M and I both fell in love with it. The shawl collar, the extra-long length, the bits of v-shaped ribbing at the sides, mmmmm. We wanted it. I was emailing with a friend of mine later that same week, who also knits and also watches Bones, and asked her, “Is it wrong that in my head I’m trying to reverse-engineer that sweater Brennan wore in those 2 scenes on Bones?” and she said, “No, because I want one too and if you write up a pattern you have to give me a copy immediately.” And it just so happened that at the time, M had been staring over this heap of worsted-weight 100% wool that she’d gotten for a song from a friend’s sister, and had been pestering me to write her up a pattern for some kind of long cardigan sweater. Well, my fannishness and knitting obsession combined, and I did my best reverse-engineer job that I could. It ain’t perfect, but it’s darned comfy:

 

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Check out that detail on the side:

 

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It took M the better part of a year to execute it, in between putting it down to work on other things. Also, she and I will both freely admit that the diagonal v-shaped ribbing at the side, while gorgeous, slowed things down a whole lot more than if it had just been plain stockinette. Also, while I did my best at pattern-writing, a lot of stuff got filled in later and so there are gaps in my orignal notes with things like, “do stuff with short rows here”, or “figure out how to write this on a chart later”. So if I can go back and figure out how to fix these things, I’ll happily post the pattern here later.

The other thing I failed on with this first attempt is that I should have made the neckline much lower – you know, for that bit of decolletage for when Agent Booth shows up late at night with Chinese food – and made the shawl collar wider. But M is pleased and so am I. I’d like to make myself one, too. You know, when I get done knitting the list I already have that’s a mile long of course. Hah.

Incidentally, there are only 2 more new eps of this show left this season, which makes me kind of bummed. I’ll need to find some more cracktastic viewing for the summer…

*I recently discovered during my time of injury that my television addiction is not nearly as strong as my knitting addiction. Go figure, eh? ;)

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Filed under brennan cardigan, fandom, knitting addiction

But it was only hard the first time

(Warning! A post chock full of photos and rambling.)

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As I’ve been working away on the Endpaper Mitts over the past few days – using them alternately as bait (to do work) or procrastination fodder (just a few more rows and then I’ll work), my train of thought was enjoying itself. “I love fair isle,” my brain said. “This is easy. I know some people don’t like fair isle, but I love it. Why don’t I do fair isle more often? It’s so much more fun than other knitting. I should knit more fair isle. I love fair isle. Fair isle is the best ever.”

Endpaper1

And then, it occurred to me that if someone – a non-knitter, say – were to happen upon me while I was knitting this slim and sleek little fingerless mitt on tiny tiny pointy needles with tiny tiny yarn in two colours, they would probably look at me with either fascination or trepidation and wonder what in the freaking heck I was doing. And I was quite sure that nobody would think that I was doing anything that could be remotely considered easy.

So the ‘represent’ voice in my head then reminded the ‘this is so easy’ voice not to dumb down my skills, and reminded me not to tell people knitting is easy, because, damnit, Knitters Shalt Not Undervalue Their Skill Which Is Mighty And Glorious. And I started wondering why I would feel so compelled to tell people that what I was doing wasn’t hard, because it’s certainly not because I think it doesn’t involve skill.

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I think part of it is that the Recruiter Knitter in me doesn’t want non-knitters to be scared off. I don’t want them to see my fiddly DPNs and multiple colours and think, “damn, good thing I’m not trying to do that.” I want them to think, “I could do that! I’d do it in green and blue and make it 1/2 inch shorter to fit me better!” And because I like that knitting is challenging, and don’t like to think that challenge = hard = run away, I would rather people think it’s a fun, easy thing.

(I remember reading an interview ages ago with Jennifer Garner during her Alias super-spy days, where she responded to the eleventy-millionth question along the lines of “wow, you’re so fit! You must work out so much and be insane about exercise!” and she was all, “I just work out for an hour a day. Really. Anybody can work out for an hour a day. Really.” And I think my brain follows this logic with knitting, that if you’re convinced only some people can do X, then you’ll never let yourself do X. With the exception of out and out non-preference. If you just plain don’t like fair isle/cables/socks, then of course why the heck would you want to bother? but anyhoo…)

Endpaper3

But that isn’t really all of the picture, either, because I know quite rationally that any knitting technique requires a certain combination of skill, fear, and blind faith. I remember the first fair isle sweater I did from Philosopher’s Wool, and was just getting used to the idea of working with one strand of colour in each hand and then got told that I would have to do steeks, which is a nice-sounding word for cutting up the beautiful and multiply-coloured fabric I was going to have to knit with my bare hands.

I had the fear then. Then, if a non-knitter had come upon me, I would have said that yes, yes this is hard, please save me from myself. But that’s just it, it was only hard the first time. Now I love it. It’s the bestest ever. I’ll happily join the Knitting Conversion Squad, Fair Isle Division. it was the same with DPNs. I was all, “are you kidding? Socks with 4 needles? Maybe I’ll just do these plain 2-needle ones first and then work up nice and slow to 4 needles…” And then with cables, too, I needed hand-holding, and now I chastize myself for not trying more cables. So much knitting, so little time.

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And so now that I’ve had those little bits of fear I realize now that (with my knitting, anyway), I’m okay with the fact that there’s a lot of skill I haven’t learned or mastered yet, because I get what it’s like to have worked through these first few other fears. I’ll learn the other hard stuff all in good time. Now I will happily join the cheering squad for my new knitting friends who aren’t sure about cables or aren’t sure about socks or whatever, because I recognize now that a lot of knitters – myself included – need to hear people saying, “it’s not hard, I promise, you can do it,” before they can start telling themselves that. And I think ultimately that’s where my “knitting is easy” voice comes from.

So, anyway…did I tell you about how awesome fair isle is? ;)

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Endpaper Mitt #1 is lovely. And fits, well, like a glove. (Yuk yuk yuk.) I’m already planning a second pair in solid yarn so that the contrast will show up better – this was an experiment using a solid colour paired with a single-spectrum self-striping yarn. The dark shades of purple aren’t as strong against the charcoal as the lighter shades are. Still, they fit well and are super comfy and I’ll enjoy wearing them. Now, to finish #2…

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Filed under fair isle, knitting philosophy

Final Stages

PhDCard2

(From the Card Catalog Generator)

(I had to answer these questions a lot this past weekend – well, mostly the first two. I’m kind of wondering how I didn’t dissolve into anxious tears after about the 10th time.) So anyhow, today I think I’ll try to do enough of something that I don’t feel guilty about going to Lettuce Knit tonight. I haven’t been in a while, and yanno, I think I kind of miss it. ;)

In other news, my sister finished a really awesome sweater, and she said she’ll let me tell you the whole story about it once there are some final final FO pics. (Well, it’s maybe not that awesome a story. But in it my knitting obsession and TV-fannishness are combined, so I call that a win.)

Happy Wednesday, may your knitting not be far from you…

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