Monthly Archives: December 2009

A New York Day in Pictures

Conclusions after (this trip’s) first full day in New York: Guggenheim is awesome, Kandinsky had it going on, Knitty City remains awesome, and there is more delicious food available than one person can reasonably consume. But then, I suppose, I knew that already. Still, confirmation is always a plus, right? Right. On with Day Two.

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Dec30-Subway

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Filed under knitting tourism

I survived the Great Cascade 220 Crush of ’09

If, after five straight days of family visiting, eating, Christmas gifts, eating, sitting around, visiting friends, and more eating, you are ever wondering how you are ever going to make the re-entry into the non-slothful regular outside world, well. A Boxing Day yarn shop sale will pretty much do that for you in a hurry. Lisa put out the Bat signal for me a few days ago, inviting me along with some of the local gaggle of Toronto knitters to hit the sale and then do lunch afterwards. How does one say no to that, I ask you?

Although I’m familiar to Toronto’s esteemed Romni Wools (and I suspect much of the knitting world is, by this point…it’s pretty darned big), I have never yet been to their Boxing Day sale, so this was quite an experience. I arrived around 10:30 am, and the shopping was already in full swing. 25% off is serious business, man.

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I didn’t really go in with much of a plan other than “I want some Noro Silk Garden to knit one of those striped scarves and maybe something for a sweater.” The Romni Boxing Day sale is probably not the most opportune moment to casually decide to look for a few balls of Silk Garden, but there were still a few skeins to scoop up and I did so. The Cascade 220 heathers (7 skeins of dark turquoise) lept into my hands thanks to the helpful efforts of the knitters who actually managed to get within a few feet of the shelf. I thank them, though I know not their names as I was too high on wool fumes to remember to ask. Thank you, dear knitters who were in that knot down in the back by the worsteds.

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By the time I was on a second circuit of the shop I realized I had bumped into the back end of the check-out line (by now mid-way through the shop) and decided to stay there. When I eventually emerged to the street, planning to wait it out in the cafe next door (a fruitless plan as it turns out every other knitter in Romni was like-minded), I ran into other Lisa who was doing the same waiting. We ventured down the street and sat with hot beverages and knitted and eventually gathered the rest of the group one or two at a time, and then a delicious pub lunch and yarn-score-comparison ensued.

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And that was a good Romni Boxing Day sale day. Craziness man, but good.

I came back and promptly spent the rest of the afternoon getting my suitcase together, as tomorrow I head off to that other great North American knitterly town, New York City. (Well okay, it has other things going for it besides knitting.) I will be spending a few days there over New Year’s and I am pretty sure that my lodger/tour guide Rebecca has planned out an entire schedule for us so I hope to have some more exciting blogging from NYC later in the week. I am looking forward to a brief escape before heading back to the treadmill of another new term starting in (eek! don’t look too close!) one more week. Fingers crossed for safe and timely travels.

Happy knitting, and catch you in a few days from the Big Apple!

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Filed under yarn stores

Nothing says happy holidays like manual labour

So it turns out that when you go from a few weeks of only an hour or so of knitting per day, to a couple of days in a row of knitting in the morning, afternoon, and evening, your arms and wrists and shoulders will respond with “HEY WAIT A MINUTE. OUCH, MAN.” To wit, I’ve been going pretty hard on the Tibetan Dreams stole for the past couple of todays, and it is starting to catch up to me.

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A while ago, back when I still had fantasties of completing more than one knitted gift, I also had fantasies of having this finished to wear on Christmas Eve. I estimate that at an efficient pace, this stole still has about 8 hours left of knitting in it, so that fantasy is falling hard to earth right about now. I still can’t wait to finish it, though, to see what happens to it after blocking.

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The yarn is gorgeous (Tanis Fiber Arts fingering, in ‘deep sea’), the beads are just right (silver-lined blue size 6 seed beads, thanks Arton beads on Queen St.), and I am looking forward to having one last grand finished object for 2009. Perhaps this is what I’ll be finishing off on Christmas day. I do promise to reduce my knitting hours today, though, so that my right shoulder doesn’t stage a revolt on me.

So instead I’ll switch to other forms of manual labour. Rum balls and other Christmas Eve treats aren’t going to bake themselves.

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Whatever your holiday looks like, I hope it’s a good one and that you have some time for knitting and whatever form of relaxation you like. I’ll have a rum ball for you!

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Filed under lace

You and me could write a bad romance

Over the last couple of weeks I have had time to come to a few conclusions.

1. When a single human being is required to shoulder all course teaching and grading responsibilities all by her lonesome, it is impossible to be pedagogically sound and temporally efficient all at the same time. Next term, my exams and assignments are going to be reduced by at least 25% in length. I can’t do it all, man, not if it means practically absenting myself from the rest of the world for weeks at a time.

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2. Matching your winter scarf to your winter coat is pretty damned satisfying.

3. I am helpless in the face of pop music earworms. (Latest evidence procured after succumbing once again to Lady Gaga’s latest.)

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4. I don’t know why I never wore slouchy berets before. Now that I have one I am wearing it all the time, and wonder if it may actually be the secret lynchpin of the fashionable handknits wardrobe, in manner of skinny jeans/tall boots combo for the stylish urban woman or similar.

5. In fact, if you combine #3 and #4 and walk down the street in your co-ordinating possibly more stylish than you stylish hand-knits, you can come pretty darned close to feeling like you are strutting a runway, instead of walking down your regular sidewalk past the blue bins that just got emptied by the trash collectors.

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6. To arrive at December 21st and have no baked cookies in the house is practically a crime against the season. I am going to rectify this shortly.

7. It comforts me to no end to know, after my last post, that many of you are also in the gift knitting denial and/or grieving phases. It means I am in good company. But then, you knew that, right?

I thought so.

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Filed under accessories

Giving in

I won’t lie, folks, I’m flagging. Flagging hard. I’m on Week 2 of Grading Fest 2009, and although the end is now in sight and I know this is a temporary hell that i’m in and not a permanent one, and that I will one day return to fanciful knitting thoughts and exciting new Finished Objects…I am kidding myself if I say that today is that day.

I had a short list of gift knitting items that I wanted to make this year – maybe 4 or 5. Not too many, I thought, especially since I started a month ago and I thought that was pretty decent. Well, as it happens, in that month I have managed to crank out exactly 1 Christmas gift so far. Actually, that’s a lie – I’ve got 75% of a gift: one and a half socks out of a pair for my Grandfather. He will wear them with great happiness and really, if you’re going to prioritize knitted gift recipients, I say definitely prioritize who-ever is at the top of the family tree. But still, they are men’s size 12 navy blue stockinette socks and even my transit knitting time has been beaten down, much the same way my creative zest has been pummelled by the Grading Fest assault.

But I digress. Today, on a 24-hour self imposed grading hiatus and very necessary trip to the mall for gift needs, I had an epiphany.

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It wasn’t the surprise over discovering that one can still purchase the original New Kids On the Block Christmas CD, or the quiet rage over booksellers’ insistence that young women’s reading preferences are limited only to things with vampires in them, or even the gentle relief that comes with realizing that if the lines at Chapters-Indigo are than damned long, then at least that means people are still reading things.

No. It was the dawning realization that although it can take a person a month to knit one gift, you can buy 5 in less than an hour.

We’re knitting an uphill battle, folks. Consumerism is so EASY.

It is not, however, easy enough to induce me to purchase discounted Halloween cookies in the middle of frakking DECEMBER, Williams Sonoma I’m looking at you.

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Tonight my 24-hours-of-no-grading are still in effect. I have hopes for the return of the beaded lace. With possibly the extra degree of difficulty of knitting while drinking a cosmo. (I play Denial at advanced levels).

Happy knitting, folks, and may your gift knitting (however much of it there is) be in whatever state you want it to be.

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The minute sort of festive knitting crazy

Hello again, little corks.

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Time to come out of hiding for the season. I wonder if I’ll knit you some more new friends this year? Only time will tell…

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Filed under korknisse

Nothing like a little comparison

You know, the odd thing about being so used to the academic calendar is that after a while, grading lots of papers starts to feel a little bit festive. Like Egg Nog. (Except, you know, not).

And the interesting thing about reading through stacks of papers is that it starts to make the otherwise boring, navy, stockinette 80-sts-on-2.5mm-needles gift socks start to look really, really fun.

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There may be hope for the gift knitting after all.

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Filed under socks

Parallel insanity

At the moment I have about ten zillion papers and exams still to grade (down from previous total of fifteen zillion), I have design ideas I’ve been wanting to dive into for weeks and months, my Christmas knitting is so far beyond being done that there is no point in even being stressed out about it, and have somehow chosen the month of December to undertake a complete sorting of my closet and non-yarn-related possessions.

So, naturally, I have cast on for a beaded lace shawl.

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This is the Tibetan Clouds stole, by Sivia Harding in the Knitter’s Book of Wool. (The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts fingering weight, in her new colour ‘Deep Sea’.) It’s fantastic. I’m having far too much fun with it. It’s the knitting I can’t wait to get back to in the evening. The lace is moderately challenging so far but not dauntingly so, and the addition of beads every few rows makes it pretty exciting.This pattern does not pre-string the beads, but has you slip the beads onto specific stitches with the use of a 0.60mm crochet hook. (Which, as it turns out, is far easier to execute than it sounds.) I took Sivia’s class at Sock Summit this summer and learned all about the beaded knitting, but I’d been putting off getting more practice with it.

Well, sign me up for more beaded lace, man, because this is the fun kind of crazy. It’s similar to colour-work in that ‘just one more repeat/row’ effect – the beaded rows are like little goal posts, more so than intimidations. I chose silver-lined blue beads in a fairly similar colour to the yarn, for a more subtle ever-so-slightly-sparkly effect. Here’s hoping it all works out by the time I’m ready to block this sucker.

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The way the pattern is constructed is to work the central square panel first, and then pick up stitches for each side to work those one at a time. This is the point I have reached now. Come on 2009, you and me, we’re going to crank out one more lace shawl. Because, you know, knitting socks and hats and mitts in December, that’s just so…practical. Psh.

Screw practical, I want more beads.

Knit on, my friends. Knit on.

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Filed under beads, fearless knitting, lace

A Tale of Two Scarves

It would appear that my cold symptoms are continuing apace, though in a milder form than they could be, in which case I will renew efforts with vitamins and rest and tylenol and tea. And a bit of knitting on the side of my stack of grading.

But this blog is long overdue for a project update, and I’m finally able to take a moment to tell you about the two scarves I’ve made since mid-October. These, a slouchy beret, and a pair of plain stockinette gloves have all been made with Berroco Ultra Alpaca, and are all part of my Operation: Don’t Freeze My Ass Off plan for this winter. (Always a good plan, I feel).

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The first of these scarves was a plain triangular shawl/scarf that I started on the plane to Rhinebeck in October. I finished it while I was there and it has proven a wonderful bit of emergency insulation, and since our November temperatures were stupidly unseasonably mild (o hai global warming nice to see you), I got more wear out of it than I might have expected.

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It’s fairly plain, easy to execute over a couple of days (say, on bleary plane and train rides), and I hadn’t thought much of it but every time I go out amongst knitters, someone comments on it and asks what the pattern is. Well, it’s pretty darned simple is what it is. If you want to make one of these too, here’s what you do:

So Easy I Can’t Even Stand it Triangular Scarf

1. Pick your yarn, any yarn (did I mention I love Ultra Alpaca?), and use an appropriate needle size. I went up to a 6mm for the worsted Ultra Alpaca because since it is 50% alpaca it can handle a bit of loose drapey-ness and still be warm.

2. Cast on 7 sts. [Note from the future: For extra stability, knit back and forth for a couple of rows of garter stitch before proceeding.]

and proceed as you would for a regular triangular shawl (increasing 1 st at each end, and 1 st each side of centre stitch, every RS row), something like this:

(RS) K2, yo, k to centre stitch, yo, k1, yo, k to 2 sts before end of row, yo, k2.
(WS) K2, p to 2 sts before end of row, k2.

Work these two rows for a while.

3. Whenever you feel like it, say, every 10-12 rows or so, insert one of the following beginning on the WS of work, while still maintaining the k2 at each end of each row, and yo increases on each RS row:

Paired garter ridges:
(WS) K all sts
(RS) K all sts
(WS) K all sts

Garter eyelet rib:
(WS) K all sts
(RS) [k2tog, yo] repeat
(WS) K all sts

4. Keep going in this combination of stockinette, garter ridges, and eyelet rib until you get the length you want, you run out of yarn, or until you just can’t stand it any more. Work another few garter ridges or a repeat of eyelet rib, and BO all sts. Block if you wish. (I used about 1.5 skeins of Ultra Alpaca for mine, it goes pretty far.)

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The second scarf requires a bit more commitment, but pays off big time in the warmth area. Let me tell you, this is going to get me through the cold days like nothing else and I am looking forward to wrapping it around me a few times. This is a fairly classic striped tube scarf, that you can do in whatever combination of worsted weight yarn you please, and change up the stripe pattern however you wish. The only disadvantage is that when you are working with so many colours at once, it doesn’t make for a very portable project, but if you put in an hour or so every evening, the length will start to add up nicely.

Warmest Striped Scarf Ever

1. Pick your worsted weight yarn, any worsted weight, in a few colours and a 16-inch circular needle in 4.5mm or so. (whatever you need for 18-20 sts over 4 inches).

2. Cast on 80 sts. Join to work in the round, pm at beg of round, and knit all sts on every round.

3. Proceed by changing colours every 3-7 rounds, as desired. Keep going until the entire scarf measures 6 feet, or until you can’t stand it any more. BO all sts.

4. Lay out the scarf lengthwise and flatten it. Work a fringed edging: First cut many many lengths of yarn in 8-10 inch lengths (hint: wind the yarn around a DVD case and cut along one side); take 3 of these lengths at a time and fold them in half, then take a crochet hook to pull the loop through both sides of the scarf edge, and pull the ends through the loop. Do this along the entire edge. (This creates a fringe AND closes the ends of the scarf).

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And then you have a very warm scarf. Ta da! (Caution: be careful about promising to gift people with these. I knitted 4 tube scarves one year as gifts and it just about did me in.)

Since I know someone will ask about how to handle the yarn for stripes, all I did was simply to carry the dormant colours up the inside of the work so that they rest against the inside of the jog. When you flatten the scarf at the end, you can do so so that the jog moves to the side of the work like a seam, and no one will notice. I am pretty blase about my striping jogs. Just be sure that the yarn actually lies flat on the inside of the work, and that you don’t pull it too tight so that it bunches up.

Happy knitting this Thursday, and stay warm, won’t you? Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under finished object: accessories, free pattern

Even if it’s bold italic.

At the moment, I am:

1. Trying very hard not to get a cold.

2. Waiting for an opportune moment in daylight hours in order to allow me to photograph the big long tube scarf which, as it turns out, did come to an end. And not a moment too soon, too, since the weather seems to have bought a clue now that December is here, and the chill in the air has arrived.

3. Grading a lot of papers.

4. Very behind in responding to emails. (Mea culpa, internets, please forgive me…)

5. Knitting a beaded lace shawl, and preparing to worship at Sivia Harding’s awesomeness the next time I see her.

6. Getting far too much amusement out of Lady Gaga parodies of font types. (Well okay, just the one):

Okay Wednesday, let’s you and me get through this day together. We can do it.

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