Monthly Archives: October 2009


I thank you all so much for the lovely comments on the ’14 Karat’ socks – I’ve had them finished for so long and it makes me very glad to finally show them off. Thank you, again, for the compliments!

In the mean time, I’m about finished with a few other things and looking ahead to starting some new things. Tomorrow morning I head to the ‘big city’ for a class with Fiona Ellis at The Naked Sheep, and am hoping it will inspire me for some new projects.

I’ve also been trying to take the camera out every so often. At the moment this means more urban autumn photos, but hey, you have to start somewhere, right? I’ll leave you with a few pretty shots before bidding you a fond weekend – knit something awesome this weekend, okay? Okay.






Filed under photography

14 Karat

Here they are, folks, my latest sock pattern here at Knitting to Stay Sane and, if I may say, some darned pretty ones at that. I’ve had these done up for a few months now and it gives me great pleasure to finally set them out into the world to seek their fortune be knitted by other people.


If you’re a sock knitter, or even a person who just hangs out in yarn shops a lot (or maybe stalks a lot of yarn online…not that I’d know about that)…you eventually start to develop an appreciation for sock yarns. Now that I’ve started to make knitting a part of my tourism plan when I visit other cities or as a reason to travel in the first place (Rhinebeck, anyone?) I’ve also started to develop a fondness for sock yarns because they are so easy to collect and bring home with you. This is very much the genesis of the 14 Karat socks.

Last year I came home with a skein of ‘Amethyst’ Flock Sock yarn from Holiday Yarns (formerly VanCalcar Acres). Jennifer dyes some awesome yarn over there. I brought home my lone skein of Amethyst and stared at it all winter. And then at some point something in my brain started turning over the depth of the semi-solid colour, and the whole amethyst thing, and I started thinking about how to make that into a whole sock – something with the same elegance and delicacy of gemstones, but not without some symmetry and a few hard edges, just like gems and jewelry tend to have. After a few attempts, the socks you see here were born. The second pair came easily with a ‘Garnet’ skein of Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, and Voila! 14-Karat style.

The pattern is currently available through my Ravelry store only, at a cost of $5.00, but I will be sure to notify you as a print copy sales location becomes available.


This pattern combines a variety of stitch patterns in one – I have a fondnes for twisted stitches, it’s true, but there is also just the tiniest hint of lace and cables. The socks have a lot of long lines which elongate the leg and foot for a very fitted and elegant look. Elements of this pattern are extended into the heel and toe. The instructions do indicate cables through cable needle use, but if you are familiar with cabling-without-a-cable-needle technique you will be able to make use of that here quite well.

Because the instructions rely on a single main chart (repeated over the front and back of the leg), the number of stitches remains consistent for all sizes, achieving sizing instead through changing gauge. I used 2.5 mm needles (gauge of 8.5 sts/inch) for the smaller, ‘Amethyst’ sample, which is shown on a foot/ankle circumference of 8 ins around. The ‘Garnet’, medium sample, is shown on my own feet which have a 9 ins circumference and used a 2.75mm needle (8 sts/inch). Pattern instructions include gauge indications to identify based on your own preferences.


I have written the pattern from the cuff down or ‘top down’ as is my preference, however skilled toe-up knitters will be able to modify this without too much difficulty provided you maintain the integrity of the pattern through the heel and toe. The heel and toe extend elements of the main chart. Additionally, I have indicated instructions for both Magic Loop and DPN (double-pointed knitters). As for myself, I bridge fairly easily now between Magic Loop and DPNs, and enjoy using these in combination on sock patterns that use symmetrical stitch patterns like this. When I worked these I actually used the Magic Loop technique through the heel and then switched back to DPNs for the foot. Suit yourself, dear knitter!


So I think once you’ve finished your own pair of 14 Karat socks and feel the elegance and decadence befitting a sock knitter of your expertise, you should end the festivities with champagne, yes? I mean, once you’ve indulged yourself this far…(and I do mean yourself…save the gift knitting for the second pair, my friends ;) )

I’ll also give a shout-out to my friend Patricia, who received and modelled the smaller ‘Amethyst’ pair and dressed to match for the photo shoot. Those are her sparkly-toed shoes in the cover photo, and doesn’t she look dapper? I could only aspire to such elegance.


As always happy knitting – and go out and get yerself some sock yarn!


Filed under finished object: socks, socks

Forward motion

One of the most gratifying and reaffirming experiences a knitting designer can have is to have a design accepted for publication. It means that someone else has looked at my work and said, “Yes, this is good work. Other people will want to make this.” I had this feeling a couple of months ago, when I had a sock pattern accepted for publication in Knotions, for the Winter 2009 issue. Right about now was when I had expected to be able to tell you all about it, when the Winter 2009 would be previewed and then announced soon after. As it happens…this will not come to be.

As it happens, the Fall 2009 issue was the last for Knotions – Jodi made the announcement on Saturday, and it was very much the right decision for her. Magazines, even online magazines, cannot simply fall out of the sky and materialize out of thin air, and I know Jodi’s decision to discontinue Knotions must have been weighed very very deeply and carefully. There is an emotional and energetic cost to doing our knitting work, and this needs to be made sustainable just as much as the material costs do. I have nothing but empathy for her and I know she’ll be able to move forward with her knitting life in new and exciting ways.

As for me, I am left with the question of what to do with my little sock pattern. I know that if it had been published, I would have received compensation for it. On the other hand, if it had been published, it would also have been available to knitters for free. I could also hang onto it for a bit longer and try to submit it for consideration somewhere else.


I have had it in the works for several months and most of all I want it to be out in the world where other people can knit it. After a bit of my own debate, I have decided that I will move forward with the pattern as a sale item. If I believe my work has value, and if I believe my efforts over the weeks and months of developing the pattern were also valuable and worthwhile, then I have to believe it is worthwhile to ask for material value in return. (And heck, many of you may look at the pattern and say, “pfft, that’s ugly. I don’t want to make that.” And then you’ve just saved yourself a couple of bucks!)

It’s a hard choice to make and I hope that this one will also be good. The other designers who would have had patterns in the same issue will have to make the same choice for themselves, and they may well choose differently – and that is fine, too.

So, I present to you here a first glimpse at 14 Karat, my latest sock design. Full details and download information will follow soon and I’ll be very excited to finally tell you all about it. I think the socks are awful purty, and am just so glad to put them out into the world for all to see.


Filed under design, socks

Don’t just sit there, learn something

I like taking pictures. I always try to have photos in my blog posts, and feel a bit odd whenever I have a text-only post up here. When knitting and yarn and things related to those form about 95% of your subject matter, it’s hard not to include pictures. And I don’t think my photos are terrible, necessarily, but I do think they could be better. Especially when so many knit-bloggers with such awesome photography skills abound. (I mean, Michelle never produces photos that are not stunning, and Elspeth produces Project-365 pics that would already be fabulous if they weren’t mostly self-timed, self-composed shots). And I’ve always wanted to learn more about photography and get better at it.

So, yesterday, finally, I took my first gen-youu-wine photography class, on Composition. It reaffirmed for me that a) Despite my newbie-ish-ness, I am not a complete and total neophyte about photography, and b) In my opinion, blogging with photos allows for some different composition rules than traditional rules might dictate. (When is a simple shot always the best one, when it comes to blogging, I ask you?)



Having said that, the class did teach the basics of composition, and rules like ‘thirds’ and framing and balance, and so forth, and these are all things that I could stand to practice more often. I also determined that while I do not own a DSLR camera (yet…just gimme another paycheque or so and a bit more sucking-it-up to walk into the camera store with all my questions and wide-eyed-ness), my little point-and-shoot does not entirely suck, and in fact does have some moderate programmable settings that I have not been using to best advantage.



So on my way home I tried to play around with those a bit and a 25-minute walk turned into an hour or so, and I grabbed a few shots trying to think through all the Composition tips we’d talked about in class. And it was a cloudy but decent fall day, the sort of day when the wind and leaves are just right but in another week or two all the fallen leaves will have turned to mush, so it was a decent walk. I should really do this more often.



What about you, folks? What sort of camera do you use? Have you taken steps to go out and get some mad photography skills? What do you like best in your own photographs?


Filed under photography


So you know sometimes one evening when you have to find that second skein of yarn for the pair of socks you’re working on, so that you can finish the first one on the bus and then take the second skein with you as a sort of security blanket, and then you go to your shelf of sock yarn and have no idea where that skein is, and so you just pull the whole mess off of the shelf onto the floor and dig through it on the floor instead because mess seems a lot easier than order?


That’s about the state of my brain today.
(But on the upside, I did at least manage to start the second sock.)


Can’t wait for the weekend.


Filed under Uncategorized

What comes of not having a plan

Exhaustion is starting to become a theme around these parts. Now that the term is in full swing I’m starting to feel it, and even though in a couple of weeks I know I’ll start to turn that corner when the end is near and I get a burst of energy back, right now it seems to be enough just to make it to dinner time. So it is both enjoyable and odd that I would add another layer of travel exhaustion onto all of this by hauling myself off to a weekend wool festival.

The reason I bring this up is that today I got home in time enough to photograph my Rhinebeck purchases (daylight hours are starting to diminish), and dudes….some of this stuff I only have vague memories of buying it. And then I remembered that my Saturday at Rhinebeck was sort of this odd plan-less mixture of relaxation (from being with all the knitters and the wool) and fatigue (from the work-travel cocktail), and not only that but guys…I had no plan whatsoever when I went to Rhinebeck this year. None. I think the extent of my plan was “I like yarn and will buy some.” Usually I say to myself “I will look for a sweater’s worth of something in worsted” or “must definitely stop by this particular booth,” but this year by the time I realized I should have done that, it was mid-afternoon and my tote bag was already half-full and I was sort of adrift on impulse. Next year I will go with a plan.

Not that I came home with crap, mind you. Oh no. I may have picked up bits and bobs of things that I didn’t fully understand at the time (like the armload of A Touch of Twist in this post, which is beautiful but I swear I have no idea what I am going to do with it), but mostly I think I chose wisely.


As, for example, with these 3 Into The Whirled braids. I know that once I finally get back into a spinning routine, these will be so much fun to try out. They are, from bottom to top, merino, merino/silk/bamboo, and polwarth. And the colours are beautiful and how can you go wrong with awesome colour?

Also, for the first time this year I finally made it into the Brooks Farm booth. (Note to self: get there earlier next year). This was the point in the day when I was trying to find a sweater yarn, but then flamed out and decided “you know, Glenna, maybe you should shoot for hat and mitts.” (The temperatures may have had something to do with this thought). So after some decision-making, I got 3 skeins of Solana, which is a worsted-weight superwash that comes in their usual awesome Brooks Farm colours.


I also remembered the sock yarns. I remembered to go by the Holiday Yarns booth, because I got a skein of their Flock Sock last year and quite liked it, so I grabbed a skein in ‘Orange You Glad’ to break out of my colour norms, and also a Kitri kit (not pictured). The red and the blue yarns there are J Knits sock yarn, from the Seaport Yarns booth, because I remembered at the end of the day that I’m currently on the lookout for red and blue sock yarns (for a design project currently in its conceptual stage…soon…soon…)


But you know, I think my favourite purchase from the day were these 2 skeins of sock yarn (fingering weight, in the teal, and sport weight in the lilac) from Steam Valley Fibers.


It’s a vendor I haven’t purchased from before, and you know, those 10 minutes or so that I spent looking at all the colours and pondering which ones to get, and chatting with the other knitters who were looking at the same yarn, and then paying and inquiring briefly about the yarn with the vendors themselves…those were a pretty good 10 minutes. One of the challenges at Rhinebeck is the crowds and the patience and the wanting to get to the yarn that you want, and you know, the Steam Valley Fibers booth wasn’t stressful at all. It wasn’t empty by any means, but it was still good to get into and get out of and the yarns were beautiful. I like these 2 skeins.

So even though I wish I’d been a bit more organized about my purchasing, I’m happy that I grabbed several things I’ve not tried before, and as a result I have expanded my toolbox stash a bit more. I’ve got some things that I’m glad to try out or see what comes of them, even if they don’t have specific plans attached.

And you know…looking at all the yarn now, I gotta say, it’s pretty restorative. I like yarn. And it’s nice to look at and know that it’ll become something, some time in the future.

Knit on, my blogland friends!


Filed under rhinebeck, stash

If you can find a group of people

Here I sit this morning, enjoying some of Manhattan’s fine caffeine and free wireless, pondering the happenings of the weekend, regretting my return to the real world, envying all these stylish New York women who breeze around elegantly in their wool coats and tall boots and brilliant handbags and wondering what sort of effort it takes to be a part of that, and thinking that I really need to come back to this part of the world more often. There are good friends, and good yarn shops, and – oh yes – the occasional nearby sheep and wool festival.

My weekend comrades were Rebecca as per usual, and Liz who joined us for her first Rhinebeck weekend ever. Last night we had quick catch up dinner and ice cream with Melanie, and over the Saturday of Rhinebeck I ran into lots of awesome people, many of whom I completely forgot to photograph, thanks to my consistent alternating state between very relaxed and very exhausted. I do know, however, that hugging Elspeth hello never gets old, that Elspeth’s posse is the best bunch ever to have post-wool-festival home made dinner with, that Bonne Marie and Jodi are wonderful to talk to in person, that Toronto knitters are everywhere and will always find each other (found Kim and Molly, below) and that I am quickly finding that while these wooly weekends are superficially about the knitting, they are actually mostly about the people. Can we do this again next month?


Because I think if you can find a group of people with whom you can deeply discuss and debate knitting technique and pattern construction, Jane Austen adaptations, the trashy allure of Twilight, current politics, DC and New York neighbourhoods, Almodovar’s films, whether or not your favourite actor is alternately smart as a tack or dumb as a brick, or possibly whether he is gay or straight, and then circle back around to knitting…I think that you are probably doing better than many other people, and I am so grateful for reminders of that.

Rhinebeck was pretty cool. (In more ways than one. Thank the dear sweet and fluffy lord I had my Ultra Alpaca Cassidy and podster mitts and slouchy beret as backup. Temps were a few degrees above freezing for most of Friday and Saturday.)



There was a lot of yarn (more on that tomorrow), there were friendly sheep and alpacas.



In fact, Ann (above; Annimol on Ravelry) even got one of the friendliest sheep’s fleeces and immediately trucked it off for processing. We felt how soft the sample lock was and promptly reeled in our jealousy. Because Ann is actually a very nice and reasonable person (why yes it IS reasonable to kiss your newfound fleece) and if you can go to Rhinebeck and get something like that for your very own, then more power to you, I say.



And then there was train time and knitting time, and dinner and ice cream and sitting time, and now it’s all over and I have to go back. The real world is harsh and cruel. I think there might be something to the whole “Imaginary Rhinebeck” weekend thing. That’s a visit I’d like to make any time.

May your Monday be as painless as possible, and may your knitting welcome you when you come home. Catch you next time!


Filed under knitting in public, rhinebeck