Monthly Archives: February 2011

Getting there

This is the story of how a knitter fixed a really annoying mistake and didn’t die.

Feb24-Sasha1

Here we see intrepid, mild-mannered local (or occasionally local) knitter Sasha, at the local yarn shop, working away on a colour-work sock project. (This is incidentally my Neptune High sock pattern, but that’s actually less material to the rest of the story, so I’ll keep the self-promotion to a minimum. Except that, um, I like this pattern and think argyle is awesome. Moving on…)

So anyway, we were all at the yarn shop happily chatting away about yarn and television and movies, as one does, and at one point Sasha looks down at her work and realized she had made an unfortunate error, and not only had she made the error but it was at least a full inch back in the work. And this is on fingering weight yarn (Tanis Fiber Arts sock, and Louet Gems fingering weight, in case you’re curious), so that means an inch is 8-10 rounds. In colour-work.

Feb24-Sasha5

It’s the sort of thing that is only obvious in colour-work, in the sort of situation when you might, say, be working 1×1 alternating stripes in knit stitches across the sole of a sock. Have a closer look:

Feb24-Sasha3

At some point she just goofed and switched the colours, just on those ten stitches or so. And she, in fact, did not panic. Instead she calmly and quickly decided this was not the sort of thing that was worth pulling out the entire last inch worth of work, and did what I would likely have done in her situation too, which was to isolate one stitch at a time, drop it down to the correct stitch, then pick up each stitch in the correct colour with a crochet hook.

Feb24-Sasha4

If you’re thinking “gee, that sounds like the exact same way you would pick up a dropped stitch on a regular non-colour-work piece of knitting,” then, well, you would be correct. Because stranded colourwork always involves carrying both working colours along at once, there are floats in both colours behind the work all the time. So in this case, all a person needs to do is drop down just past the offending stitch (so that it is all gone now), then re-pick-up the stitches in the correct colour. Then move on to the next offending stitch and do the same thing. It all took less than 15 minutes, and when the fix was all done you would never have known.

Feb24-Sasha6-Fixed

And everyone lived to tell the tale.

The end.

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Filed under fearless knitting, tutorial

Departures

Vancouver, you’re all right. But I mean, we knew that, right? We got the memo on the west coast awesomeness. But I’m glad to have verified that for myself. The air is just different out here. The west coast is paradoxical in many ways – prosperous but socially polarized, expensive but sustainably-minded, and yet I still come away thinking that it’s the west that’s going to save us. People out here care about stuff. (Which isn’t to say that people out east don’t, of course. I think being surrounded by oceans and mountains every day must translate something different, perhaps.)

Feb21-StanleyPark

I capped off my visit yesterday with a day of walking – the park, the downtown, the art gallery (awesome and trippy exhibit involving a mirror of mazes) and a bit of visiting with Meg, who was fresh from the awesomeness of Madrona knitting weekend and happy to chat about knitterly things. Erin has been a lovely host and made sure I saw lots of the city, though I admit this also feels as though I have eaten the entire city, so maybe one makes the other possible. There were also a lot of conversations about Sock Summit (I met both of them there 2 years ago) and our hopes to attend, learn, volunteer, and continue the path of knitting world domination in general.

Feb19-BaaadAnnas

Knitting-wise, Vancouver has much to recommend it. I only made it to 2 knitting shops but they were wonderful. Baaad Anna’s (love the name) in Hastings Sunrise is small but well curated, and friendly. And sarcastic. (See above). I came away with some pottery mugs and whimsical buttons.

Sunday dawned with anticipation of a yarn shop visit as well as brunch with Erin’s knitting friends, who were all fabulous and whose names I am going to forget right now, but take my word for it that it was a great brunch, both for the food and the company. (Seriously, go to Burgoo. Do not pass go, go directly to the delicious piles of food).

Feb20-Brunch2

We carried on to Three Bags Full, which is a remarkable little shop. Several local yarns along with a very sturdy selection of standby pics – possibly the best selection of Cascade 220 I’ve seen outside of Romni Wools in Toronto, which is saying something. I had a falling down in front of the Noro Silk Garden and came away with a sweater’s worth, but someone had to take that hit for the team since I learned that all four of the other ladies were on a stash diet. (They’re also all waiting to see who goes out first. Heh.)

Feb20-ThreeBagsFull

And today it’s back on a plane again and back to reality, but it’s been a slice and I’ve got new yarn, a bunch of knitting progress, and 2 pounds of Vancouver coffee coming back with me to prove it. Thanks, west coast, let’s do it again some time!

Feb21-CPstation1

Feb21-CafeArtiziano

Feb20-Conservancy2

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Filed under knitting tourism

Greetings from the west

This week I have the annual middle of term winter break week, and when I can I like to take a couple of days to escape town and see a change of scenery. This year I thought “hey, I’d like to check out Vancouver,” and happily enough Erin agreed with this plan and generously offered to host me. It has been a lovely weekend so far, and weather-wise I am very much enjoying the sunshine and slightly above-freezing temperatures. Green grass, man. It really DOES exist. Who knew?

I’ve been doing a moderate amount of geeking out over the downtown sights and all the buildings and intersections that stand in for various cities on various television shows, and it is at the same time unassailably cool that Fringe/Smallville/Battlestar Galactica/X-Files/etc all actually take place within a few blocks of each other, and yet also it sort of feels like it should be generating some kind of rift in the space-time continuum. But still. The Daily Planet. And Caprica. That’s awesome.

Feb19-MarineBuilding1

Feb18-Library3

Other than a decent amount of walking I can report a great deal of food-eating has occurred and will likely continue. Today promises more of same along with some knitterly company and I look forward to the mini-break continuing. I’ve been happily knitting away on a few projects and no doubt will encounter new and enticing yarns. This can hardly be bad. Onwards!

Feb19-GranvilleBrewery

Feb19-Granville

Feb18-DowntownVan

Feb18-Whale

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Filed under Uncategorized

Socks are great

It dawned on my this morning as I was shoving clean laundry back into its various resting places (inside closets and drawers instead of a big pile in front of the closets and drawers, as often happens, so go me), that I couldn’t remember the last time I purchased a pair of store-bought socks. I had to really think about it. I think I bought some thin dress-sock sort of pairs back last…March? maybe? And some tights around the same time, but I don’t think those count. (While I could knit myself tights, I don’t think I’m going to. Even I have some limits.) I have well over two weeks’ worth of pairs of hand-knit socks, and I love them all. I have knitted more than the ones that are in my sock drawer, of course, but the ones that live in my own wardrobe have served me well and are in happy colours that make me glad to knit and wear them.

I know that a lot of knitters don’t take to socks and probably have shelves full of scarves and hats instead, and that’s entirely cool. For me, I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t have a fistful of my own hand-knit socks to choose from, and that is awesome to me.

Feb17-STR

Many of them have also now been with me for a few years, and are starting to look it. So this January I finally got myself on that, and added two new pairs to the drawer. One was this plain ribbed pair, (a 3×1 ribbed sock, as I so often enjoy) adjusted to 60 sts from my usual 64, because this is Socks That Rock Mediumweight (in an unknown mill end colourway) and is a bit weightier than what I might normally use. And damn if these didn’t come together quickly. I knitted a large portion of them while sitting in movie theatres (caught up on The King’s Speech and The Black Swan after renting The Social Network and Toy Story 3, and am still working myself up for 127 Hours and True Grit…and realizing I have possibly been watching the Oscar nominees in descending order of cheerfulness and maybe I should have thought this through better but I digress), which isn’t as easy to do with ribbing as with stockinette but still do-able.

I love them. They are bright and red and cheerful and anti-winter while still being warm and comfortable, and I’m wearing them right now. Before I finished these, though, I actually went back and finished up a pair of Jaywalkers that had gotten started way back last summer, then neglected when new fall knitting took up its siren song. I only had about 2/3 of the second sock left, so once I picked them up again and got a bit of momentum they were done like dinner.

Feb17-LornasLaces

The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, which is my go-to yarn for Jaywalkers, knitted on the larger size over 72 sts and 2.25mm needles. They fit me just right. Given the wicked and violent pooling action going on here, I’m sure it’s not surprising to you that the colourway name is ‘Zombie BBQ’. Ahhh, zombie sock goodness.

Feb17-LornasLacesZombieBBQ

And now I’ve got more sock knitting on the go, which is fantastic since I’m off this weekend for a short jaunt to Vancouver for a change of scenery. I hear they have grass there, that isn’t covered in snow. But I’m going to go down in person just to check it out for verification purposes.

Catch you next time from the west coast! Happy knitting this Thursday evening.

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Filed under finished object: socks

I think you need to look at a cute picture of a baby with some yarn

This weekend marked the 2nd (annual?) knitter’s retreat weekend for a bunch of us folk connected through the Toronto area knitting circles, and it was once again a great idea. It was like a big giant pause button. My sister came along for the first time and described it on the drive back as “knit, knit, drink, cackle, laugh, knit, eat…” and that’s about right, I think. Sort of like a Rhinebeck festival weekend, but without the festival. This year I did at least remember to bring my camera but developed a case of cam-nesia for much of the weekend.

Still, I think I captured some highlights. There was food (a lot of food), including a specially commissioned yarn-ball cake (note: actual cake. Not just a ‘yarn cake’):

Feb11-YarnCake

There was a lot of knitting, and also a lot of yarn, made more plentiful by the fact that Kim brought her wares to sell (then hoarding began):

Feb12-Yarn

We watched DVDs, sat and knitted, ate and drank, and generally pressed reset before heading out again. Before Sunday’s final sendoffs, little baby J was much encouraged in her future yarn addictions by a brief photo-shoot. Someone had to bathe in the tubs of yarn, right?

Feb13-YarnBaby2

And then she realized she could grab onto the things surrounding her, at which point she became oblivious to the knitterly paparazzi surrounding her. (You know she’s totally checking out the yardage. Need to make the right selection).

Feb13-YarnBaby3

I hope you have a good week ahead, dear knitters!

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Filed under Uncategorized

A pause for colour

There are a lot of knitters out there who are capable designers and figure-out-ers who I have heard testify that they never knit anyone else’s patterns, only their own. I admire this, yet also never quite understand how they are able to do that. It’s not just the wealth of delicious knitting patterns that are out there to choose from (I wonder if they miss out on fun stuff as a result), it’s that I wonder how they are able to give their brains a rest once in a while. One of the most challenging parts of my triple life as a knitter/blogger/designer is finding a balance between all three, and some weeks it’s the hardest job of my life. When I’m designing things it means I’m responsible for All The Decisions that go into that thing, and it takes up a lot of my brain energy, and quite frankly some times my brain needs to not be in charge of All The Decisions. Sometimes it needs time to remember that I’m a knitter who likes knitting.

I’m in the process of changing over from some finished or almost finished design projects and starting in on some new ones, and took the opportunity to cast on something new that wasn’t something my brain had to be completely in charge of. Of course, it’s still a cabled pullover, which probably tells you something about my particular brain’s idea of “rest,” but you know, it’s whatever your brand of crazy is.

Feb10-DusseldorfAran2

A couple of weeks ago at the Vogue Knitting event of my classes was with Anne Hanson, on sweater fit and modification. (Hint: your body is probably not the same as the pattern schematic’s body. the only sweater that will fit your body exactly is one that you’ve either written for yourself or modified from the pattern instructions.) We were meant to bring a pattern, yarn, and swatch with us as part of the class work, and I did so, thinking that I’d just use them for the validity of the exercise and then carry on knitting all the other things I had to work on.

Feb10-DusseldorfAran1

And then, a fun thing happened. After the class, it occurred to me that I really did want to make the sweater. So I cast on. It’s the Dusseldorf Aran pullover by Fiona Ellis, which I remember being interested in when it came out in Interweave Knits a year and a half ago. I matched it up with some magenta Berroco Ultra Alpaca purchased last March (yes, it really is that pink), because this winter already feels like it’s going on forever and I could use some magenta in my life. It’s great. It’s turned into a “knit on this for at least 10 minutes in the morning” sort of project, and the cables are gently rolling along and the colour makes me happy.

Here’s hoping you’ve got some delicious winter knits on your needles. Happy almost weekend!

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Filed under cables

She who hangs out in graveyards

I’m not sure where the last week has gone – somewhere in a haze of knitting, fatigue, real-world job and catching up on movies, I blinked and it was suddenly February 1st. February already? Really? We’re a month into the New Year already? Well, if you say so. But also, if it’s only just February that means that in my part of the world at least, we’ve got 2 if not 3 more months of cool weather ahead. More than enough time to keep knitting mittens and gloves.

Jan15-OzDrusilla

Way back last May at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto, I bought a skein of merino/cashmere/nylon yarn from Kim at Indigodragonfly Yarns. It was a dark, gothic-looking colour named “Not another teen vampire movie.” So naturally, that was coming home with me. I started pondering what to do with 100g of DK and settled on gloves, and soon started adding up in my head that Kim works with three different weights of merino/cashmere/nylon yarns, and wouldn’t those all be wonderful to wear around your hands? I certainly think so. I had the gothic theme all planned out, and was considering vampires, and before I knew it Kim was off and running dyeing colourways and naming them all after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and taking pre-orders for full kits of the ‘Buffy Collection’ as it was being called by the fall.

Jan15-Willow1

Well, the final ends were woven in at the end of 2010 and I finally managed to get out for a photo shoot last month, and now the patterns are available for you, dear knitters. I present to you the ‘Midnight Collection’ – three patterns all inspired by the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the vampires, werewolves, and witches therein. I would hazard to say this is not the last time I’ll turn to this world for design inspiration, especially if Kim keeps up dyeing these awesome colours, but for now I have to say I’m very pleased with this set. All 3 patterns are available individually from Patternfish or Ravelry (links below) for $5-6 each, or from Indigodragonfly Yarns as patterns or as full kits. Also, if you are a Ravelry member or are purchasing from Indigodragonfly, you can get all 3 patterns for $12, essentially 3-for-the-price-of-2. How’s that for a great deal?

Jan15-Drusilla1a

‘Drusilla’-inspired Gothic Gloves are a simple pattern for women’s gloves, with that touch of vampire at the cuff. They are written for both DK-weight and fingering-weight yarn (in case you are deciding between warmth or light elegance), and come in 2 sizes. This pattern uses twisted stitches and some basic cable twists, and uses a chart.

Jan15-Oz4

‘Oz’-inspired Midnight Mittens, are an Aran-weight mitten pattern written in one size, suitable for both men or women, featuring a toothy, textured pattern over the back of the hand. These are ideal for warmth as well as speedy knitting! This one also makes use of a few basic cable twists, slipped stitches, and knit/purl texture, and also uses a chart.

Jan15-Willow3

And finally, the ‘Willow’-inspired Nightblooming Mittens, are where you can show off your mad knitting skills in a lighter, fingering-weight mitten, with plenty of leafy vine cables blooming across the hand. Instructions include charts. These also come in 2 sizes and would be fun to modify as fingerless mitts also, as a variation. These, I have to say, might be my favourite of the whole collection.

Months after this crazy Buffy-knitting ride began, I’m very glad to finally show them off to you.

Gothic Gloves (for Drusilla, and other lady vampires)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish
Midnight Mittens (for Oz, and other werewolves)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish
Nightblooming Mittens (for Willow, and other witches)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish

Jan15-OzWillow3

I’m also very grateful to my test-knitters for their generous help in working on these patterns and helping to make them better: Bridget, Drea, and Jacqueline of the Purple Purl knitters. Thanks, ladies!

Happy knitting today, whether you are knitting fannishly or otherwise! And stay warm.

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Filed under design