Monthly Archives: March 2011

Geeking out

Knitters are such resourceful people. I mean really, have you ever thought of the number of ways we ‘make do’ with things and carry on with substitutions and other ways of working and measuring and counting? Take a poll, I bet everybody’s doing something different from the next.

Case in point, last night at knit night, Naomi was using a particularly fun row counter.


It only works up to about 8 or 9, but still. Respect for the cross-hobby geeking, yo.

Then later this afternoon I went by the shop and a few of us just sat there knitting and sharing fun YouTube links. (Note: I highly recommend this as a cure for what ails you. It does not disappoint.) How could I not share a sampling with you? Perhaps some autotune-meets-Carl-Sagan-and-philosophical-science? (Also Naomi’s offering, props. And I have astrophysicist parents, sometimes I gotta toss something out there for them.)

And if nothing else, I hope your own knitting geekery gets some time this evening. I know I’m ready to reel in one finished object, and hopefully another soon afterwards. Which means, of course, getting to start something new, and what’s more exciting than that?

Happy Wednesday!


Filed under Uncategorized

Time and place

You know how, sometimes, when you have to figure out some plain sock knitting to take with you to the movie theatre, and you only get 2/3 of the way through the leg during one movie, and then realize that in order to make the most out of the sock knitting during the next movie, you need to knit the rest of the leg and the entire heel at home, first?


Yeah. Me too.
(Socks That Rock lightweight, in another mill end, on 2.5mm needles.)

Happy weekend knitting!


Filed under socks

On the subject of things that are challenging



In the mean time, I’ve been spending a bit of thought and energy going back to the whole technique of cabling without a cable needle. It’s a favourite technique of mine, knitting-wise, and one that I use and encourage a great deal through my designs. (Hint: I am probably not stopping with the cables in the designs, any time soon.) And I directly point out how this works in this blog post from the fall, with a step-by-step set of photos demonstrating a left-leaning and right-leaning cable.

I don’t think everyone needs to know how to do this, in the same way that I don’t think that any kind of technique is required knowledge for knitting. We are all capable people and we do things as we please, and there is rarely only one single way of accomplishing something in knitting world. But I do think that being able to do this greatly increases your chances of working cables efficiently and quickly, if you don’t have to reach for the cable needle every single time, especially if you are working a pattern that asks you to work several cable twists over a row, every other row. (Um, not that I would know anything about that. Heh. ::coughcough::) And this is one way of working cables that I like a lot.

There are a few basic steps to this that have to do with what cables are and how they are constructed, that may help you to wrap your head around this technique in case you are still struggling with it.

1. All cables or cable twists involve 2 things:
a) the addition of a twist or directional turn in the knitting, that moves one or more stitches in one direction, in the foreground of the work, over top of one or more stitches that move in the opposite direction, in the background of the work.

b) working the stitches in some combination of knitted and purl stitches. In the cases where all stitches are knitted, this is usually referred to as a cable, i.e. C4L is a cable twist leaning to the left over 4 sts, where all sts are knitted. T4L is a cable twist leaning to the left, involving knitted stitches leaning to the left over a background of purl sts.

Some examples of cable notations that all lean to the right might be like so:

Left Cables and Twists

And similarly, all of the following lean to the left:

Right Cables and Twists

In other words, the action of making the twist to the left or to the right is always the same, regardless of how many total sts are being worked. What may differ, however, is whether or not all the sts are worked as knits, or some as knits and some as purls. So…

2. This also means that, although I am working all of these in English style and not Continental (i.e. ‘throwing’ the yarn with the right hand instead of ‘picking’ with the left), you can work the twist like this regardless of whether you are an English or Continental knitter. Just do the twist in the required direction, then work the sts.

3. When you’re working this technique without a cable needle, the only thing that really matters is that you are working these steps in 1a and 1b in sequence: First you make the twist, then you work the sts according to the pattern.

So, all you need to ask yourself when working a cable is: Is this leaning to the left or to the right? And then; Which ones do I knit (or knit through the back loop – ktbl – as the case may be, as here), and which do I purl?

I decided to add to this whole cabling tutorial experience with a video demonstration, because as helpful as photos are, it’s easier for some people to simply see this live in 3D action. So I’ve taken the liberty of doing just that, and as it turns out I like to blather about this so much that I had to divide it up into 3 segments. Part 1 (above) involves some general explanation of the cables and twists (as I do some of here in this post), and also demonstrates a right-leaning cable.

Part 2 (below) adds to the demo by showing several right-leaning and left-leaning cables and twists. All of these are over 2 sts, but the technique would be the same for cables over 4 or 6 sts. After about 8 sts I jump back to the cable needle, it’s just easier that way. (Spoiler alert, in this clip you also see me fixing a couple of boo-boos as I go, re-knitting an unknitted stitch and so forth, from the RH needle. Knitting in front of a camera is tricky, yo.) I also refer to the need for a bit of relaxation while working this technique, to avoid a death grip and hand/arm strain.

And then, in Part 3 (below), I put this all together and just plain work a full needle’s worth of stitches including several cable twists to the left and to the right.

All of this asks you to be comfortable with having some sts that are temporarily live (off a needle). This can sometimes be a bit terrifying if you’re new to it, but it also happens pretty quickly. The worst that could happen is that you drop a stitch in the process, and heck, if you do that, all you have to do is go and remember your Knitting 101 and remember how to pick it up again. (See that? See how I calmly breezed past that? Lalalala you can too.)

Finally, because I know people might ask – I’m demonstrating all of this on a pair of Staked socks, and the pattern will be available from Indigodragonfly Yarns as a kit in mid-April, and as a wide release pattern from me in June. (I’ll be sure to let you know when that all happens.) Also, the knitting back in the background is one of Jennie Gee’s, happily snatched from the Knitty City booth at the Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. I love her stuff.

Anyhoozle, there you have it. More endorsement for cabling without a cable needle. (And, um, probably not my last). Stay tuned until next time, when I may actually have more cabled knitting progress to report. Those sleeves on the Dusseldorf Aran aren’t going to knit themselves.

Happy knitting!


Filed under cables, demo, design, fearless knitting, tutorial

Like Interests

I have been thinking a lot lately about running. This is partly because it’s spring now (officially, at least, even if the weather is still catching up one step at a time), and also because I go through periods (like now-ish) of latching onto new challenges and projects for goal-setting. This is also one of the many reasons I love knitting – it gives me projects to work on and finish. I may not know for sure what my employment situation will be in a few months, but by gar I know what knitting I’d like to work on, and I know races I’ll be running in the spring and fall. (Toronto Sportinglife 10k on May 1st, Wellington women’s half marathon in June, Edmonton half-marathon in August, and the MCM 10k in DC in October, for anyone curious. Ah-yep, that’ll be a fun year to train for). It’s also one of the best kinds of stress relief I’ve got at my disposal. It’s a lot harder to work up the energy to be stressed if you’ve just come back from an hour or more of running.


I’ve also reached a point with my running where I can start to re-define my own version of crazy. Last year, my first half marathon was just crazy enough. This year, one is not enough, I need more crazy than that. This weekend I also started reading this book by this guy. and realized that actually, my version of crazy is is truly on my own scale. When you read about a guy who ran 50 marathons in 50 days and not only lived to tell the tale but finished #50 faster and healthier than #1, well. That’ll make you stop and think a bit about what qualifies as “too hard” or “impossible”.


Reading him explain about his running and why challenges like running long distances is something people sign up for voluntarily actually resonates a lot with why I love knitting and challenging myself with yarnly mediums. Nobody’s forcing us to do this, we take it on ourselves because it speaks to us in a way that other hobbies or mindful pursuits don’t, and like running, it’s hard to ever see the bottom of it. There is always more of it out there to do. And i often struggle with running the same way I struggle with knitting – going through periods of reminding myself why I like it, finding new technique or new ways of balancing it into my life, reminding myself to compete only with myself instead of against others.


And if you stick with running long enough, you realize that yes, it does get hard, but that’s OK because even when it’s hard it can still feel good. I often desperately wish I was a faster runner, but that’s the same thing that makes me feel better when I try a harder run and do a bit better than I did the week before.

So, anyhow, on the weekend I taught another class on steeking, and had an awesome time with it as usual, and found myself thinking a lot of these same things. Yes, colour-work can be a challenging technique to learn. And yes, steeking (cutting up your knitting on purpose), can be a challenging concept to wrap your brain around and can require a leap of faith that it will actually work out. But that doesn’t mean these things aren’t fun. If you ask me, they’re some of the most fun you can have with your knitting. Steeking is one of the few knitting techniques that appears impressive to both knitters and non-knitters – one of the times when you can say “SEE LOOK WHAT I DID!” and non-knitters will be just as impressed with it as you are.


Not everyone is going to feel called to sign up for a bunch of running races and train for them (but if you do, kudos, and let’s be buds), but if you’re a knitter you can’t deny that this is a leisure pursuit that will give you as many challenges as you want, and reward you just as often as you try them. I was once a person who didn’t think she could run a half-marathon. I was once a person who was intimidated by cables and didn’t understand how they worked. I can’t say either of these things any more. I wonder what new things I’ll be able to say about my knitting in the coming year? I’m going to do my best to keep it not boring, that’s for sure.


I hope you find some new knitting challenges this week! And I hope your yarn is waiting for you at the end of the day.


Filed under real life miscellaney, running, steeks

Screw the Ides

My current circumstances are, by some measures, less than ideal. I’m coming to the end of an employment contract which may well be my last gasp of teaching in academia, I have no idea where my next paycheque will be coming from after it’s done, I live beneath a landlady who walks as though she’s attempting to divot the floorboards with her heels, in the summer when I move back home I’ll be leaving behind the very cute yarn shop and friendly knitters that I’ve become acquainted with this past year, and between being sick, being stressed, being below my landlady, and dealing with daylight savings clock-changing, I haven’t gotten a solid night’s rest in weeks. And while I’ve never yet actually hidden under the covers with a bottle of wine, that plan is starting to seem more and more reasonable.

And yet, I do live in a part of the world which is not literally falling apart.

It’s been rough trying to absorb what’s happening in Japan over the last five days, not least because it could have been so much freaking worse. The quake that flattened Haiti a year ago was a was a two-orders-of-magnitude-smaller one, so. Damn. Cold comfort to say the least. But that doesn’t change the fact that things are rough for a lot of folks in Japan right now, at the same time as things continue to be pretty rough for millions of others around the world dealing with disease and risk and everyday problems that have nothing to do with seismic tremors. And I’d hate to also be living in circumstances that didn’t let me help do something about that.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that, from March 16th-March 31st, all of my pattern sale profits will be donated to charity – split between Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers, and the Red Cross. (Note: I will, as always, be giving to the unrestricted funds. Shit is going down everywhere.) That’s about 60% of sales through Patternfish (if that link doesn’t work, do a designer search for Glenna C), and about 80% of sales through Ravelry (give or take, depending on the pattern price). (Last year I did 100% of sales, and as much as I’d love to do that again, I’ve gotta be realistic and be able to pay the support fees. I’ll give as much as I can.) People get knitting patterns, good folks get cash to help, and I get to do more than just sitting and watching the news, so it’s a win-win-win. I’ll be sure to report back after the end of the month on how much cash I’ll be forwarding.

In any case, I hope you and your corner of the world are doing well, and that your yarn is there for you at the end of the day. Knit on!


Filed under Uncategorized

Thank goodness for yarn

You know, the more I knit the more I am grateful to be a knitter in the spring. It has nothing to do with needing to produce a bunch of warm garments (although given weather reports for the near future around southern Ontario I don’t think we’ll be giving up the sweaters or gloves any time soon). In the fall transition, it is definitely about knitting the stuff. You get the whiff of chill in the air and suddenly you find yourself casting on five sweaters. No, for me in spring it’s mostly about the yarn. I get to carve out a half hour in the morning, or an hour or two in the evening, or whenever it is the knitting suits me, and spend that time staring at a colour that in no way resembles greying half-melted snowbanks, and the thought that non-knitters don’t get to do this makes me wonder how they survive waiting for spring.


The Dusseldorf Aran, while slightly sidelined, is coming along gradually, and the bright magenta is helping. It’ll be a little while yet before that colour shows up in nature anywhere around here. (And oh yeah? Pleats. Pleats, man. This sweater has pleated cuffs. It’s the first time I’ve gotten the chance to do pleats on anything knitted, and I dig it. Bit of folding here, bit of DPN knit-3-stitches-at-once action there, and then you have pleats.)


My project of adding a few more pairs of socks to the sock drawer is also coming along well, and last weekend I finished up another pair of 3×1 ribbed socks (from my basic ribbed sock pattern, in this post), in another Socks That Rock mill end colourway. (I’ve got to start making more dents in my Sock Summit stash, for serious.) And the best part of finishing a pair of socks (well, aside from wearing them)? Now, I get to walk over to my stash, look at all the yarn in all the colours, and pick out a new skein to knit with.


Yarn pretty much rules. I hope you’ve got some waiting for you today! Have an awesome weekend.


Filed under finished object: socks, socks, stash, sweaters


I’m long overdue for some blogging time, and it’s been a scattered last week or two. Since we last met over here, I’ve been keeping my fair share of busy, no worries there!

1. I ran a 5k race last Sunday, my first race of 2011 and a good kick in the pants to get into gear with my running training. Since then I have been scurrying back to my running literature and am contemplating spring training plans. This year I’ll do two half marathons and two 10k races if all goes according to plan. (one each in the spring, then fall).

2. The fact that I actually scaled this plan back from 3 halfs and 3 10ks is probably an indication of my nuttiness not being confined only to knitting. (As for my actual finishing times…hoping for some improvement, but we’ll see how it all goes. Continued and dedicated training is the plan).

3. Since the calendar ticked over to March a little switch flipped in my brain and now all I can think of is how soon will the weather catch up, ditch the ice and snow, and let me take my bike out for a tune-up. I’ve been a winter pedestrian for long enough and am itching to get the wheels out again.

4. I’ve also been counting down the remaining number of weeks of lecture-writing and assignment-grading, make no mistake. This is both encouraging and depressing, since the end of said period will also usher in an unemployed state of existence, so. That’s fun.

5. Knitting design work continues apace, and right now I’m scurrying away to get my selection finished for Tanis’ yarn club. (Which you can still sign up for at any time of the year, BTW. Not that I’m enabling you or anything.)

6. I also finished another pair of ribbed socks to add to the sock drawer. They’re very comfy and serviceable, and I’d be happy to show them off if i hadn’t forgotten my photo-card reader at home. D’oh.

7. This means I have a gap in the “portable sock project” area, and feel that a new pair of Jaywalkers is nigh. I’m torn between various Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock colourways in my stash, (gothic Vampire Tea Party, or soothing Montrose? sock yarn battle! who will win! Film at 11!) and also reminded yet again how much I love my stash. It’s there for me when I need it.

8. I got laid flat end of last week with some kind of cold/flu that sapped my energy and fogged up my brain and I very much do not recommend. It sucked the life out of me so much I didn’t even feel like knitting. It’s a pretty sucky day indeed when I have no energy to knit. (Just a little tip from me to you: don’t get sick.)

9. Would you like a fun YouTube video to look at? I think you should look at this one. And find a fun song to play for your Monday.

More blog happenings soon, folks! I hope your knitting is waiting happily for you at the end of the day.


Filed under real life miscellaney