31 December 2007

Finished in 2007

Mini Argyle Socks
Pattern: Jena's Knee Socks
Source: Lang Sockology 'Man's Knee Socks' with custom chart based on Eunny Jang's Mini-Argyle Stockings
Materials: 2 balls Regia Superwash Sockwool (1 each color, plus some scrap Lang Jawoll for cuff) from local yarn store.
Sticks: 2.00 mm Innox double points for cuff and 2.75 mm Brittany double points for rest of sock.
Start Date: February 2, 2007
Finished By: Uh, end of March I think?

Endpaper Mitts
Pattern: Endpaper Mitts
Adaptations: Ten rows ribbing at beginning. One repeat of Chart A before starting thumb shaping and ribbing immediately after finished Chart B. Five rows ribbing over hands and three rows over thumb area
Materials: Donated yarn from my brother. I think Rowan dropspun 2 ply (the brown, unsure colour) and Alice Starmore Fair Isle yarn (pale blue, unsure yarn name and color).
Start Date: Mid Aprilish, a Wednesday
Finished By: Saturday (even with reknitting a bunch of times).

Icarus Shawl
Pattern: Icarus Shawl - Interweave Knits Summer 06
Adaptations: Three repeats of Chart 1 and reduced 2 rows of Chart 4 (for yarn conservation purposes).
Materials: 1 ball Cashmere Painted Yarns in French Lilacs by Virginia van Santen.
Start Date: Marchish? Began as Print 'o' the Wave stole but lack of yarn caused design change.
Finished By: May 27, 2007

Le'Slouch no. 1 & 2
Pattern: Le' Slouch by Knit and Tonic
Adaptations: None.
Materials: 1.5 skeins Mission Falls Trading Colours Cotton - color 221 (from the stash)
Start Date: May 27, 2007
End Date: May 29, 2007 (two hats)

Stockings with form-fitted arch
Pattern: Grey and white stocking pattern, Meg Swansen's Knitting
Adaptations: added striping to foot of sock, grafted toe on inside.
Materials: Tongue River Sock Yarn
Start Date: May 29, 2007
Finished By: June 19, 2007

Deep V Argyle Vest
Pattern: Deep V Argyle Vest
Materials: Rowan Tapestry and Diamond Luxury Alpaca Silk
Adaptations: Followed instructions for size 46" to adjust for gauge differences (really size 38")
Start Date: Juneish 2007
Finished By: August 13, 2007

Sock Blocker Key Chain
Pattern: Sock Blocker Key Chain
Materials: Koigu
Start Date: August 16, 2007
Finished By: August 16, 2007

Le'Slouch no. 3
Pattern:Le' Slouch by Knit and Tonic
Adaptations: for finer gauge yarn and Italian Tubular Cast on
Materials: 2 skeins Zitron Samoa 42 Red
Start Date: August 12, 2007
End Date: August 19,2007

Secret Knitting Socks
Pattern: Secret Knitting Socks
Materials: 1/2 skein Fleece Artist Sea Wool
Start Date: September 4, 2007
End Date: September 24, 2007

Ravenclaw Knee High Toe-up Socks
Pattern: Striped Sports Socks
Materials: Briggs & Little Sport, Sheep's Grey and Royal Blue
Start Date: Mid July 2007
End Date: October 1, 2007

Squirrely Swedish Mittens
Pattern: Squirrely Swedish Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch
Adaptations: Using Hello Yarn's inclusion of Swedish Twisted Cast on. Working on 2.00 mm needles to create a smaller gauge to adapt for my hands.
Materials: Briggs & Little Sport in Washed White and Pink and Tongue River Sock Yarn in Sheep's Brown
Start Date: June 17, 2007
Finished By: October 6, 2007

Teeny Tiny Socks
Pattern: Los Lobe Hose by Carol Breitner
Materials: Regia Superwash Sockwool (unsure about colors, I don't read German) from local yarn store.
Start Date: October 9, 2007
Finished By: October 9, 2007

Interwoven Cable Hat
Pattern: Interwoven Cable Hat by Amy O'Dell
Modifications: For gauge. I kept the cable section the same.
Materials: 1/2 skein Fleece Artist Sea Wool
Start Date: October 5, 2007
Finished By: October 13, 2007

Latvian Mittens
Pattern: Mitten from the District of Kurzeme following chart 111. Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis
Materials:Briggs & Little Sport (in Scarlet, Sheep's Grey, Gold, Rust), Various (Cream, Orange, Red Orange, Deep Red, Green and Brown)
Start Date: October 27, 2007
Finished By: November 20, 2007

Teeny Jingle Socks
Pattern: Los Lobe Hose by Carol Breitner
Materials: Various Festive donations of sock yarns from Sharon
Start Date: December 4, 2007
Finished By: December 4, 2007

29 December 2007

Hawaiian Holiday Hiatus

Aloha from an island in the sun.

I'm declaring an official personal holiday hiatus. I'm taking a holiday from winter and all winter related activities. Including shovelling snow, wearing mittens/hats/scarves/long underwears/sweaters, carefully planning what to do when I leave the warmth of my apartment to minimise the outside time and knitting.

Yes that's right. I've run away for a Maui Christmas with my family and I didn't bring ANY knitting or knitting related items. This is a full blown holiday. No stress related to misbehaving knit projects (in my attempt to be a sweater master, the sweaters have taught me a thing or two), no yarn related guilt/lack of inspiration, no shopiholia for new projects.

No Xmas stress of any kind (other than getting here but that's a story for when I get back). Christmas shopping is non-existent on these family holidays.

Just beach & ocean & ice cream & lots of movies & hangout time & riding in slightly obnoxious generic SUVs that are just a bit too tall to be comfortable climbing in and out of for a shorty like me.

So Mele kalikimaka and Happy New Year to all and try to keep warm.

16 December 2007

Calling in sick

Hi, I'm calling a sick day. I'm just on the end of a REALLY bad cold and don't have much knitting to report. I don't get sick often, but when I do, it's pretty end-of-the-world, I'm never going to be able to breathe again, hit-by-a-snow-plow kind of sick.

And somehow I manage to stay healthy *just* until there's someone around to take care of me. Last time it was when my parent's visited in the spring (though my brother was sick too, but he was ALWAYS sick last year). This time it was my brother's pleasure to try and see me through another apocalyptic cold. I used to get little colds and still manage to go to school with my itchy watery eyes and make jokes about how everything made me cry. Yup, I try to keep my sense of humour through the whole thing.

But these days when I get sick, it takes all my energy to stay upright, can't sleep lying down or I will drown in the goo and barely get any rest. I even called in sick this week and that was after spending 3 days trying to make it through because it's not like I'm in the service industry and am on my feet all day. How much energy does it take to sit in front of a computer and make things pretty? Apparently more than I could manage. My agent laughed at me when phoned to tell her I would in fact be out for the rest of the week, saying there was no way she could accuse me of faking it.

And I guess I was quite the show at Ariadne's Knit Nite on Thursday with all the nose blowing/holding my head sideways/not able to concentrate enough to knit. I was just so excited that things were starting to flow and so starved for contact with the outside world (day one of the sick day). Though I was kind of a mess and being out in the frigid temperatures really didn't help anything, I had a really good night's sleep. And I know my brother, Jon, had a great time. He always does when he gets to show off his projects and talk about Briggs & Little yarn. Oh and thanks for the feel betters and I have to say every day is better than the last.

I've been spending too much time blowing my nose and trying to breathe to really make any progress on anything. But in the past couple of days the nose blowing/goo flowing has subsided enough for me to continue work on the Sideways Pullover. I have 2 skeins in a different dyelot to finish it off and plan to use the off colours for the back (currently in progress), the bottom cuff of the sweater and if needed, the cuffs of the sleeve (we'll see how far the old dyelot will go).

It would be nice if this horrible cold could be more productive than my using up of 3 full tissue boxes, drinking 2.5 litres of Apple juice, at least 60 oz of Decongestant/Expectorant tea, 4 bottles of green tea, 1 Gatorade, 5 bowls of soup (various from Tom Yum to Chicken Noodle), 3 litres of spit water, and about a millionty decongestant/Tylenol/Anti-histamine tablets.

12 December 2007

The flood gates have been opened

I wouldn't say I've been on a "yarn diet." We all know how I don't like trendy terms like that. But there has been a general lack of yarn being bought for new projects. My 'sporadic employment' has kept me from being a proper North American consumer, buying things willy nilly just cause their soft/sparkly/pretty. Instead I've had the challenge of what to make with the soft/sparkly/pretty yarns I've bought in the past.

This has brought you projects such as the Deep V Argyle Vest (though one of the yarns was purchased for the project), the Noro Surprise Jacket (still in a time out, but we'll talk about that later), some Endpaper Mitts, the Cable Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan (still in the works: shoulder shaping!), the Sideways Pullover (did have to buy a couple of skeins to be able to finish), and an Itchy Pink Lopi Raglan (I think I have WAY more than I'll need) not to mention a few Le'Slouches.

Though there has been some yarn buying for projects, I don't consider any of them major project purchases. I haven't bought a sweater's worth of yarn in years.

But the past month or so my professional life has been quite productive and busy so I have been able to reward myself with some yarn for future projects. I hear you laughing, 'MORE Briggs & Little Sport?!?!' Yes, thank you very much! Working with the Sheep's Grey for the Ravenclaw Knee Socks was such a pleasure that I used it again for the Latvian Mittens. I have been wanting a charcoal and a light grey cardigan for quite a while now, so rather than just buy one at the Gap, I'm going to have fun making my own. And with the yarn for one sweater costing $20, who's laughing now? Huh? That's what I thought.

I mean it may not be Rowan Felted Tweed destined for greatness but I really like how the straight-from-the-sheep yarn from Briggs & Little knits up. And to be honest, I'm not a cardigan against the bare skin kind of girl. That's just too risqué for moi!

Oh and the Anniversary Twist I plan on becoming a Sunrise Circle Jacket. Having seen a really nice one out of a handspun yarn, I thought the Anniversary Twist would lend itself really nicely to the pattern. Plus at the time of getting the yarn there was no way to get the pattern for the Central Park Hoodie (though I'd still like to get my hands on that issue of Knitscene, there's some other great patterns in there.

Oh and I snuck in some goodies for myself at Ariadne Knit's Opening Day Celebrations. The Whiskey was not to be resisted, and I have too many sock patterns and not enough sock yarns.

But while all this yarn buying hasn't broken the bank, it did open the flood gate. I spent the better part of a slow day at work pricing out yarn for future projects. In order to resist ordering it all on the spot, I made myself price out including shipping/taxes/exchange rate (benefits of working as a Cashier during University) to see exactly what projects will cost. Uh, for future reference, yeah, that's it.

10 December 2007

Knit at Work

(photo staged for your viewing pleasure, my actual desk at work was way cooler)

So as some of you probably know, I'm not a 'public' knitter. I don't knit on the bus, in the Metro, waiting in line (unless it's for my passport) or crossing the street. Partly it's because I'm still a bit 'in the closet' about my craftyness, partly because I like to give as little reason as possible for strangers to strike up conversation (I tend to have a pretty mean angry city-girl face when storming down the street). Knitting in cafés with a group of fellow crafty types is as public about my knitting as I've been since University when I used to knit mittens on my lunch hour.

I resurrected the practise of lunch time knitting during my latest call back to an Ad Agency Downtown. Because I would bring my lunch and eat it within 10 min and the conversation level doesn't quite allow for reading. I'm good at tuning out the French conversations, but not enough to prevent reading the same paragraph 18 times. So I begun to drag the Itchy Icelandic Pink Lopi Raglan along with me and whipped it out to work a few rounds while sort of following the conversation (good for improving the old comprehension).

Yes I did get comments about knitting, but what was surprising me was how sophisticated the conversation became. Sure there were a couple 'you're knitting me a sweater!' comments and some pantoufles comments (slippers with bemoaning the fentex), but then it turned into, 'I wanted to learn how to knit so I could make a really bad reindeer sweater like in Bridget Jones' Diary,' or a real understanding and appreciation when I showed off some of my finished products like the hat and mittens that I wear to work everyday.

In response to the mittens, 'That's when you have to knit one stitch with one yarn, and the next stitch with the other right?' and even noticing the braided cast on as being specialised. And my favourite request: 'Can you knit me a car? Full sized? Better yet, knit me a boyfriend!'

Definitely the sorts of conversations that I don't mind starting up.

7 December 2007

'Tis the season for Jingle Earrings

Pattern: Los Lobe Hose by Carol Breitner
Materials: Various Festive donations of sock yarns from Sharon
Start Date: December 4, 2007
Finished By: December 4, 2007

When I wore my Teeny Tiny Sock Earrings to a Sunday Sit 'n' Knit, Sharon immediately told me I absolutely NEEDED to make a pair to wear at Christmas time. We all laughed at the cheese-y-ness of such an idea and I (kinda joking) said, 'Bring me the yarn and I'll TOTALLY make a pair!'

So then why did it take me completely by surprise when a few Sunday meetings later, Sharon plopped a little baggie full of Xmas-y yarns in front of me just as I sat down. After instantly bursting into laughter, I promised her a pair of her very own. But without pierced ears, they would be destined to be a pin for Sharon's lapel. You know to show her support for Christmas.

If I'm ever a part of a Christmas related charity, I think pins with tiny knitted socks & mittens & gloves would HAVE to be our thing.

Destined to be earrings (for me)

Sharon gave me some leftovers of 4 great colours of sock yarn that I have no idea what they are and desperately love. Two shades of green: one a subtle vareagated olive-y sort of green, one a perfect holiday evergreen; A perfect holly berry red; and this FANTASTIC sparkling white (not only is the yarn pure pure white, it has little sparklies built right in).

I kept thinking what sort of magical combination of complicated colour changes I should come up with, but exhausted from work & watching way too many Crime Investigation shows on Peasant Vision, I opted for some simple striping with contrasting heel & toe action. I'm very happy with the result.

Don't worry, no ends are technically woven in this pattern so no itty bitty headache there.

Destined to be a pin (for Sharon)

After working two to be a matched pair (silly festive earrings should match non?) I opted to be a tiny bit crazier and switched it up for the greens. Secretly I want my own pair of mismatched socks and there's only so much of the olive green, don't tell. I feel this set are a little more Dr. Seussian which makes me very happy.

All these little festive socks have created a bitty obsession. I've decided as an ongoing project for all those leftover bits of sock yarn to knit teeny tiny socks and itty bitty mittens and make myself a lovely little garland. It may get a wee bit crazy with some mini sweaters added in here and there.

I have a tendency to get a bit carried away with tiny obsessive projects and my parents are storing my jars & jars of itty paper stars, paper cranes, and other origami items from my paper phase (I'll move them one day along with all my Design school projects/drawings/paintings). So I may end up with a whole garland sooner than anticipated. Or not.

Other inspiring holiday knitting ideas: a pair of knee-high or thigh-high socks with a Candy Cane swirl all the way down. Would be all sorts of awesome.

6 December 2007

Chillin' in a snow bank

Pattern: Mitten from the District of Kurzeme following chart 111. Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis
Modifications: Colours. It's all about changing up the colours. And often. Took me a while to work out the final scheme & colour changes for the actual mitten part. But well worth it.
Materials:Briggs & Little Sport, Various
Start Date: October 27, 2007
Finished By: November 20, 2007

They've been finished for a while. I have no idea why I've been procrastinating the taking of the pictures and the actually declaring them done. I was humming and hawwing for too long over the block or not-to-block. A full out Euclan soak & block seemed way to big a deal so I opted for the quick & instant steamy iron version. They are so much better after blocking. I really need to get over the mental blocking block and integrate it into the normal practice.

After the blocking debacle was done with, I started procrastinated with the picture taking. Had to charge the camera battery (not that it really takes long), then the setting up with the tripod & the finicky working of the 10 sec timer & figuring out where to pose, blah, blah, blah. There was just too too too many mental steps involved so I opted to just knit instead.

Then snow happened. And everyone's doing the mittens in the snow thing and who am I to argue? I managed to actually charge the camera and before work I tossed the mitts in the snow bank outside my front door, snapped a few, tossed it all inside and made the epic trek to the Metro.

While the post-knitting part of these mittens was such a trial, the actual knitting & even the working in a bazillion ends was surprisingly not. All the colour changes kept me on my toes and I couldn't help from speeding my way through the chart to see the finished product. Though it was a bit of a stretch for me to work on them at Knit Nites™ sometimes the multi-tasking is not my strong point.

I love love LOVE the Latvian Mittens book so totally worth buying. Immediately after ordering I thought it was probably a little silly to buy a whole book to make mittens for a swap, but once it finally arrived, I was BLOWN AWAY. So many many many colour images of fabulous amazing mittens and charts for each and every one. As a visual person, I was so excited by the colour section and all it did was challenge me to come up with something just as great. And I'm really happy with how they turned out.

They are soon to be on their way to Germany with some Maple Syrup as soon as I can find a little stuffed Canadian Goose or Moose or something. Surprisingly tricky to find in these off-tourist-season time of year.

2 December 2007

Steamy Windows & Lots of Fondling

That's right. A new yarn store opened up in Montreal and it's so terribly exciting. The girls of Ariadne Knits have gone lo-fi, offline and analog to create a lovely little yarn oasis near Lionel-Groulx and Place St. Henri Metro stations (like exactly equidistant I believe).

This fibre haven is located in the cutest little old corner shop that has been lovingly whipped into a beautifully lit, cosy, welcoming yarn shop. With the lovely knitting corner complete with 'fireplace' is the cherry on top and I immediately wished I had thought to bring some knitting with me.

The shop is open as of noon yesterday and I braved the Great White North Winter we're suddenly having to meet up with all the other Montreal Knitters to congratulate the owners on a job very well done and of course fondle yarn. Really that's the whole point of going to a real shop isn't it?

I can't stress enough how adorable, welcoming, cosy and a fantastic yarn showcase this shop is. If I was a smart girl, I'd have thought to bring my camera with me. Or even remembered that I have a camera phone. Whoops. I was just way too caught up with all the conversations about yarn, knitting, the bitter bitter cold weather, comic books, felting, how much we are all in love with all the whiskey colours, fun ideas for winter headgear (including Mexican wrestler Baclavas and cartoon wig tuques with built in headband/chin ties), tv shows, stick figure chunky sweater patterns, and so on.

And the people, they brought all sorts of fabulous treats. Jennie made super yummy better-than-teddy-grahams alpacas despite being a 'stress basket.' She even has a fabulous new kitty pattern called Charity and once I get my hands on it I will definitely be making some for Toy Mountain.

They got us casting on squares for the communal charity blanket and suddenly it turned into the usual sit 'n' knit. Yeah. Somehow Allison, Janet and I ended up closing out the shop. We left at like 7 or something crazy like that. Funny how time flies when hanging with the knitters.

Definitely a good cure for Canadian Winter.

30 November 2007

OMG did she just swatch?

Yes I did. And I even washed & blocked it too. I'm like a grown up knitter. Or something.

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi)
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi
Start Date: November 30, 2007

I usually don't swatch. It's like a crime against knitting to use yarn for something that isn't going to become something. For me, swatching is like condemning yarn to purgatory, a nebulous limbo that isn't the trash and isn't really going to be used. Ever.

Instead, I usually grab the yarn and my needles, cast on the necessary number of stitches and after a while (a few inches or so) determine my gauge/see if the thing is turning out the right size. If not, figure out my gauge & adapt the pattern/start over again (and again and again).

For most of my knitting career this has been quite sufficient. Mittens that are too big allow for more fabric to scrunch around and keep hands warm. Scarves really don't care if they're slightly wider or longer. And I mostly make those up as I go along. Cast on until I'm bored of it and away I knit with the chosen stitch pattern. Socks? Well, they're socks. So like, um, if they're too big, then they're house socks. Really I make socks for other people so they tend not to complain if they don't fit. Plus socks will relax as you wear them. It's true! All the pairs I've made for myself have become kind of loosey goosey (ie. house socks).

But now I'm into sweater land. And gauge? It's like a thing now. Especially crazy me who likes to take a pattern and yarn and make them fit together (that whole square peg, round hole idea). So knowing gauge is like a big deal. Or something. And with this sweater I already tried my psuedo half hearted math-to-be-able-to-cast-on, made the whole thing and found it was like a little cropped sweater with 3/4 sleeves (I'm not about showing the midriff).

So now I'm going to do things properly. I started with 5.0 mm, and when down by 0.5 mm until I got to my dream fabric on 3.5 mm needles. The swatch was washed and then blocked overnight with pins just to straighten things out a bit. And I've got POUNDS of bright pink Létt-Lopi around the place so damning some to yarn purgatory doesn't seem so harsh.

I know. I keep starting things these days. Things that aren't even on the list (Ravelry or the sidebar). What gives? Well, sometimes things pop into my head and I just keep keep keep thinking about them until I have to do something about it. Hence the beginnings of the Ginormo Granny Square Blanket and now a Pink Lopi Raglan.

But coming up is a week of Knit Nites™ and I need something portable and suitably mindless to bring along. Other projects are still in the works and possibly running low on the yarns. And somethings are done and some are in a time out.

Ooooo! And completely unrelated but also exciting! I have a Charlie Brown Christmas ringtone on my cell phone. How festive am I?

Speaking of festive, Sharon made me burst out laughing by bringing in scraps of suitably Christmas-y yarns so I can make another pair of festive Teeny Tiny Sock Earrings. I just have to figure out where to get some of those earring things.

29 November 2007

Look who can count.

I managed to make the granny square square. It was touch and go there for a while. I managed to save the unsquare square but the gauge was too floppy for a blanket. So I started with a smaller, less rude looking hook. Better gauge but it wanted to be a hexagon before becoming another square.

I know, why is it such a big deal for me to make a square? I have a general dislike of counting, math, figuring things out before hand, but this is me blindly following a pattern so what's the deal? Well because of the Ginormo nature of the yarn and therefore exaggerated proportions of the resulting square make it more difficult to keep track of all those double crochets. Uh. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I am totally in love with this project but the price of the Magnum is giving me an eye twitch. $20 a skein!?!???! Yikes. Considering that each square eats almost a full skein I think it's going to be a while before this project goes any further. I could pick another super ginormo bulky chunky something-or-other, but I like the resulting texture of the un-plied Cascade. I'd be open to any recommendations for a similar yarn that won't end up costing the same as my duvet. Yikes.

Alright. I've done some fancy calculations and the size of said blanket will be 30 squares. With each square using just about one ball each, this give me a grand total of $600 for the blanket. Let me be the first to say AY CARUMBA! Even if I factor in the leftovers and bring the total number of skeins down to let's say, 20, that's still $400 and absolute madness. It's just crazy talk. Does anyone know of cheap substitute lopi-like wool yarn?

24 November 2007

This isn't your Grandmother's Granny Square

Heck, it's not even square. Let's back track a bit.

So I got this skein of Cascade Magnum from Robyn in a Secret Pal package and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. It was briefly an Urchin but I don't think it was meant to be. I have been thinking of making a granny square blanket for a while now and with the arrival of the ginormo almost rude crochet hook I got the idea of making giant granny squares with chunky yarn. So last night I grabbed my hook and a favourite granny square pattern and got to hooking.

I was, uh, mostly paying attention, but somewhere during Slapsgiving I the square got away from me. Suddenly in the last round I was at then end before I should have been. I should pay more attention.

Now my little rant about the whole 'This isn't your grandmother's [insert craft/product here].' I know I just used the phrase myself, but my usage was to be a. ironical and b. a jumping off point for this discussion.

As previously mentioned, I don't like the 'trendy' side of knitting. I think such phrases that try to sell knitting/craftyness as something 'new,' 'improved' and 'better than the old days' don't serve the public identity of the past time. It gives the impression that unless you knit/crochet with irony, you're old, moldy, out-of-date and just plain un-feminist. In my books, that's just not cool.

I don't knit because I feel the need to 'reclaim' this dying, unappreciated craft of my female heritage for a new generation. I knit to maintain a connection with my past. To honour my grandmother who taught me to knit, my great-grandmother who continued to make things for my brother and I as children despite having lost her sight. Sure, I knit different things than they did. And I don't dip into my mom's huge acrylic stash these days (partly cause I'm all about the wool and partly cause it's on the other side of the country). But each time I pick up my needles or start something new, I can't help but feel connected to the long line of ladies who made things out of necessity and out of enjoyment.

It's silly to throw away all their tricks, tips, designs just because it's not hip anymore. Sure I'm not going to make myself a granny square vest, but I there's still something compelling about building blocks of crochet to efficiently and portably construct a blanket.

Now if I could just keep my mind focused enough to actually make a square, I'd be set.

23 November 2007

My suspicions were right on

So here's the contents of my final package from my Secret Pal. And I got the big reveal at Wednesday's Knit Nite™. My Pal is Robyn of Robyn's Nest and I have to admit that I knew it all along. She asked me right away when I began to suspect and I have to say that I was suspicious right away. She contacted me through Ravelry just after I had signed up for Secret Pal 11 and is really the only person to have contacted me through the internets before. I put it into the coincidence category and didn't really think about it.

I started going to the Montreal Knits meetups and at the first on got my first parcel. But I didn't become really suspicious until I got my first ginormo package. It wasn't the fact that Robyn delivered this one too. It was the fact that both my Secret Pal AND Robyn had a big complicated and overly detailed account as to why she was delivering this parcel to me for my Pal. Too much detail = made up story. And again a big complicated answer when I mentioned the Montreal postmark on a package I got through the mail. Final confirmation would have to be the French only on the front of the 2 for 1 coupons for Blockbuster from a Bébé Néstle product (Only in Québec and who do I know with a baby?).

But the surprise of who is doing the spoiling is really a minor part of the whole swap. The more important part is the spoiling. And Robyn is tops in that department. I now have a complete six mug set of sheep mugs (each one different). TONS of great sheepy things like notecards, notebooks, pencil cases, etc. A whole slew of awesome books including The Happy Hooker, some amazing handpainted, farm raised yarn from snooty French Sheep (it will not be mixed with the New Brunswick wool I don't need an anglo/franco conflict on my hands). Some fabulously smelling cranberry shower gel. And of course there's chocolate too. A bunch of great chocolate poker chips and a big chocolate S in a fantastic cigarettesque package. (The S is already gone and almost half the poker chips).

I've already added all the books into my Delicious Library and am trying to resist immediately casting on for Véronik's Béret Gaufré and waiting until I finish at least one other project.

Other Knit Nite™ related news: Mona reads my blog which totally caught me by surprise. She didn't know it was me until she made the mitten connection (seeing me work on them and then their appearance on the blog). I'm still kind of knocked back by it. A professional knitter with published patterns reads my blog (!!!). I'm sorry. I'll get over it. Just give me a second or two. I'm going to have to find some nice sock yarn so I can cast on for her November Mystery Socks. I've been collecting all the clues, but haven't been in a sock mood.

Um. What else? I'm somewhat officially done the Adult Surprise Jacket and the Mitten Swap Mittens. Ends have been worked. I'm considering/intending to block. Work's just been keeping me quite busy. I even missed the Plateau Knit Nite™ yesterday, staying at work until 9:30 PM. Don't worry, I get paid by the hour (with overtime when applicable) and they bought me dinner. But I fully intend to at least steam block to tidy things up a bit.

I'm going to get back to the knitting and bad Friday night TV. Thanks again to Robyn for all the great goodies! I totally lucked out to get a SP Hostess as my Pal. I had a great time!

18 November 2007

Almost at the finish line

The extra Noro found it's way to my mailbox so I am almost done with my Adult Surprise Jacket (again). This time the sleeves are too narrow rather than too loose. But rather than start over (again) I decided that a little modification could save the sweater. A few short rows later and I have what I like to call speed stripes. But now the neckline is a little more bodice like so I'm leaving it to marinate for a bit while I figure out how I feel about it.

The second mitten is finished and I'm about half way through working in the ends. I'm semi considering blocking them before mailing off the package. Maybe just a steam job.

And of course I can't be almost done a few projects without at least considering my next project. Well 'considering' turned into casting on for a Sideways Pullover from the Winter '04 Interweave Knits. I'm adapting for smaller gauge and a closer fit than shown in the picture. I forgot how fabulously fun and mindless brioche stitch was.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get back to procrastinating the laundry a little longer.

14 November 2007

Japanese Craftbooks & Continued Conversations

Knit nites (and afternoons) have become a big part of my social life here in Montreal lately and the word is out, I have a blog. Sunday afternoon, my blog became a topic of conversation (it began with the general topic of blogs) and I was surprised at who reads my blog. I mean, I do have the whole Sitemeter thing now which I LURV to check obsessively to see if anyone's been on, where in the world they're checking from (Germany! England! Japan! California! Missouri!) and how they're getting here (lots of Fair Isle searches, sometimes for stockings, some image searches and some lovely links from other blog peoples blogs), but I don't get names or anything, so it's pretty much a mystery to me.

Why do I blog? Um. I dunno. Mostly cause I want to keep track of my knitting and I'm more likely to keep up with the updating & keeping track of knitting related decisions if it's not just for me. I always have the internal monologue for pretty much everything anyways so why not get it out of the brain? I try to keep up with the updating fairly frequently mostly cause someone complained that I didn't post enough but it's also a good way to keep it part of the regular daily/weekly routine. Oh, and I ALWAYS have an opinion on everything, from toe-up vs. cuff-down, cast-ons to Continental vs. English so me writing it here means I don't have to drive people crazy with the rantie on such topics.

K. Now the Japanese Craftbooks. Janet, a very lovely knit nite participant who is on a personal quest to make the most crocheted eco-bags in the world, brought in her ever-growing collection last week for us to oooo and aaaaaaa over. I love the crazy amazing things that are done in these books with traditional techniques. There's one that features Fair Isle projects and it's so interesting to see how traditional Scandinavian motifs and colours are tweaked/changed/adapted to make something new and modern. There's no fear of breaking with the 'tradition' of such motifs or techniques in the creation some truly unique projects.

The conversation begun by these books brought me to mention these amazing herringbone gloves I had come across on the internets. (Here you go Janet). The finished gloves totally look like haute couture/Saks Fifth Avenue store bought gloves and are definitely next on the list. I do also need something in between the Endpaper Mitts and the Squirrely Swedish Mitts. I think the chance colour combo from the previous post (mustard plus heathery brown/eggplant) will be absolute perfection.

Another knit nite conversation was the change in photography style of the latest Interweave Knits. I'm still waiting for mine to come in the mail and getting kind of cranky about it's late arrival, I usually get it before it hits the news stands man! Back to the conversation. Someone brought up the change in photography and how poorly they were matched to models and how the shots were styled. Having not received the latest issue yet, I couldn't contribute to the rant.

But as I have opinions on everything, especially things related to my professional life as a Graphic Designer, I got into a rant about the general change in design and layout of the magazine in the past year or so. I really prefer the old design. The 'redesign' to me is a step back rather than forwards. The bleed edge top graphics combined with the title treatments on the article and pattern pages especially bother me by how they clutter the white space. But I do enjoy the pattern pages and photo montage layouts. They showcase the knit projects using the usually strongest part of Knits, the photography.

Now usually the photography has this awesome 'knitwear in its natural habitat' feel to it. Candid feeling photographs of people wearing sweaters, scarves, socks etc. while doing every day things. Only sometimes the photos are sometimes a little blurry. Not the best thing when trying to showcase projects. Showing detail is kind of a big deal. While I appreciate that they tried to fix this blurriness in photographing the latest issue, based on the internet preview pics, I think in trying to fix the blurriness, the overall appeal of Knits photography was lost.

Instead of lovely candid photos of real looking people in great sweaters we now have an almost Sears catalog of possible projects harshly lit in overly styled and very artificial feeling locations. Overall not an improvement. Oh and I really dislike the photo chosen for the cover. There's just not enough colour punch and interesting composition to keep my attention. I think the Alicia Tabard on the beach would be a way more compelling cover, even if it's not Christmas-y, the icy blue still indicates a general 'Winter Wonderland' time of year.

But I like lots of the projects inside. Really that's what its about. Good articles and good projects. It's still a shame when something gets changed but not improved.

And I finished the second Mitten Swap mitten despite my inability to concentrate at the last couple of knitting meetups. Oy. I need to start drinking coffee again or something. Still have to weave all those pesky ends and staring at a monitor all day is not good preparation for studying the yarns to work things in with the whole gentle shifts of colour thing. I figure they'll be ready to ship out by the weekend.

10 November 2007

Saturday with Auntie

I had to go to work today. I know working on a Saturday ranks low in the working world, but for those of us who suffer from 'sporadic employment' with hourly pay don't tend to mind the extra hours, even if it cuts into the knitting time. At the moment I'm temping at an ad agency in downtown Montreal and was asked to come in to help prepare a pitch for a national campaign. Sounds all glamourous right? Really I was expecting to be working my exacto magic with some mad foamcore mounting skillz. Turns out I didn't do much at all. Look for some stock photos (loving the new Getty Images btw), some light Photoshop and Quark wrangling. But my willingness to come in and help out made me the hero of the hour in the Studio. Adds to the superhero status which never hurts for my rep with my placement agency.

Oh and I want to mention how amazingly better working on a Saturday was with this company than with the other job that had me come in. First, people were all relaxed, friendly, came by and said hi. Next the studio guys left me a jelly filled doughnut from the previous day (plus the fact that the project manager bought us doughnuts in the first place). Finally someone came in especially to tell me that they had bought a bunch of amazing French pastries for everyone. This especially blew my mind as I am not only a temp, but working in the studio at the bottom of the food chain and all these Art Directors, Creative Directors, Client Service Managers, and VPs were being so considerate. Definitely not something I would expect from previous experience with similar high ranking types.

Also, the work load was light. I had an extended lunch break with only a couple of light things in the afternoon. I found myself with a large block of free time so I decided to meet someone introduced to me by my Secret Pal, Crazy Aunt Purl. No, I hadn't been formally introduced to this lovely blogger before and instantly wondered where'd she been all my life! Or at least since I started reading knitting blogs.

I begun where I usually begin with a new blog, from the beginning! Well occasionally I do. Really I poke around some of the blogger's projects, recent entries for the funnie, original designs, etc. But because of the recommendation from my Pal (and my feeling stupid for not knowing Crazy Aunt Purl alreadies, I decided to dig deeper. And a treasure I did find.

SO MUCH with the funnie! I laughed, I almost cried, I laughed until I cried, and I only made it to April 2005. My favourite bit is when she yelled at the Crazy Bus people for making the Bus Driver cry on her first day of work. As one who relies on public transportation and internally bemoans the complainers, I am so happy to see that she wouldn't let that crap fly. Plus who doesn't secretly wish they could pull off saying y'all?

9 November 2007

Invasion of the yarn cakes

They have escaped from their natural habitat of Rubbermaid and have been out exploring. They have been establishing base camps in various locations in my apartment after the scouts returned to the mother ship with their findings. It's official, the yarn is taking over!

After an initial test base on the desk with expeditions into the printers, the yarn chose to use the coffee table for it's base of operations. This facilitated the production of fully knitted garments through the power of suggestion.

While the yarn continues to explore new environs such as the couch, it has encountered other foreign beings that feed on full grown yarn cakes. These horrifying half beings have long been established in this land. The scouts are sure to report back that security needs to be tightened back at the camp.

One of the early and well most successful established camps is the bookcase. This real estate is most coveted by the yarn out of sheer proximity to family and friends still in the comforts of the bin.

Born from fortuitous juxtaposition in the new world, these three yarn cakes have formed an unlikely friendship. They are in talks with some very eager charts to create a lovely knitted brocade of sorts.

While work has keep me from having the energy to knit most evenings (or even stay awake), knitting is still on the brain.

Have a good weekend all.

5 November 2007

Lovely Little Goodies

I came home from work to find a lovely little parcel full of lovely little surprises from my Secret Pal. Some more very lovely stitch markers, an adorable (and appropriately French) notebook, some super fabulous Soak wool wash in flora, which I look forward to using, and even an itty bitty hand made card in it's own itty bitty envelope.

Thanks Pal!

2 November 2007

The 'Other' side of Fair Isle

They're not done yet. I haven't even quite finished one (thumb still to be done) but I just couldn't wait to show off how great these mitts are turning out. Way amazinger than I thought possible. It blows my mind enough to make up words. Unfortunately the colour palette is tricky to capture, but you get the idea.

Here you can see the proper colour transitions. I reknit the body of the mittens several times to figure out the right combination of colours and the right order. I'm really happy with the final sequence.

I love Love LOVE the final effect of the mitten/cuff combo. I originally was going to use brown instead of the grey, but it just looked sucked the life out of the colours compared to the brightness of the cuff.

Here you can see the 'other' side of Fair Isle and crazy Latvian Mittens. TONS of ends to work in. I'm going to do it before working the thumb so that it doesn't seem like such a chore. Yes I did carry yarns up the side when it made sense, but never more than one extra at a time. It's just too many balls of yarn to wrangle for me.

I will most definitely be showing these off more when they're finally done. I'm just so proud of them!

Oh and an update on the Adult Surprise Jacket, I guess I don't have any extra balls kicking around, so I had planned to pick up another one when I was next at Effiloché only to find it was the one colour they didn't have. Some Yarndex research indicates that it's an extinct colour. Oy. But don't fear, I found some on eBay.

29 October 2007

FROGGED! or The Scarf That Would NOT be Knit

In the same spirit of exercising the long languishing project prevalent through out the internets these days, I too have finally frogged something that's been 'in progress' for far too long.

Let me tell you the story of the Bias Mohair Cable Scarf.

The year was 2004 and the winter fashion accessory of the year was the bias knit scarf. I was especially enamoured with a particular Banana Republic bright pink striped specimen. So I grab the large ball of aqua mohair out of my mom's lovely huge stash of yarn and started my own cabled creation. Making it all up as I went along, loving the resulting scarf that sprang from the needles.

Sadly the one ball was not enough. And mid scarf I headed to my local yarn purveyor and favourite knitting guru to have her suggest a suitable substitute to continue on with the scarf. The replacement was Patons Divine I had gone through my extensive striping phase and was now into large blocks of colour so had no issue with starting in the new colour halfway through the scarf. Of the possible colour choices available for instant gratification, the best choice was white. So off I went with the new yarn to continue to work on my fabulous scarf.

However, I somehow managed to get the one freak ball of Divine that was bigger than it should have been. This made my usually pleasant knitting time into horrible struggles between yarn and needle. There was horrible yarn vs. aluminum squeaking and a general malaise. The yarn store was more than willing to exchange the yarn as it was clearly defective to be sent back to the manufacturer, but I would not be defeated! I kept going for almost a foot before finally setting the scarf aside for other less frustrating projects. Years have gone by and still it sat in my knitting basket taunting me to pick up the sticks and continue on with the torturous project.

Finally, reading the stories of others who are exorcising their own knitting demons, I decided that now was the time for action! I frogged the whole thing! Two lovely innocent looking yarn cakes are all that remain of the devilish scarf that would not be knit. And I plan to continue with the idea of a bias knit scarf out of the lovely even tempered mohair. Just a much narrower trimmer version of it's predecessor.

As for the devilish Divine? It is destined to become a prim and adorable Cloud Bolero, a Christmas present for a cousin who's brother requested a knitted shark. She's girly enough to love it fully, including the yarn that it's made from.

I like how this turned into a scary knitting ghost story midway through the post. Happy Hallowe'en kiddies!

27 October 2007

Where'd I put that extra ball?

I'm this close to finishing up my Adult Suprise Jacket. All I need is that last ball of Noro Silk Garden that I swore I had kicking around. But now I can't find it. I may have to get all drastic and completely go through my tub 'o' yarn to find it. Yargh! I swear it's around here somewhere! Maybe I'll have to suck it up and go buy another ball. Ugh. Not too worried about dye lots as there's tons of colours going on that always shift.

In other news I've begun to work on the mittens for the No More Humdrum Mitten Swap. My partner asked for autumnal colours so I am going to town (as you can see). That's just the cuff. I've worked into the body of the mitten, but think I may have to tweak the colour selection and transitions. They aren't singing to me in the same way that they are in the cuff.

24 October 2007

A Parcel of Patterns

More treats from my Secret Pal. I could really get used to these daily mini-spoilings. Sure the big parcels are fun, but the bigger they are, the more time in between them.

Three fabulous patterns complete with page protectors and everything! One of these days I'm going to have to head to Bureau-en-gros to get me some page protectors and a binder to organise the rest of my pattern collection.

Two fabulous sock patterns and a super fun felted knitting bag. I'm so happy I just found a Knitty article that discusses Felting without a washing machine and I get to try needle felting too!

Thanks Pal! And I think I better get knitting me some socks.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention. I'm currently concentrating most of my knit time to finally finishing up the Adult Surprise Jacket. I'm a half a sleeve away from weaving in ends and shopping for buttons.

23 October 2007

Sent Separately, Arrive Together

My Secret Pal told me s/he had sent me a couple of things in the mail. Canada Post works in mysterious days, both little parcels arrived in today's mail.

Here's the goodies:

Some very nice earrings. It would seem that my Pal is a fan of Big Earrings, not just a Big Fan of earrings. These are hands down the biggest earrings I own. But they're great! I think I can handle them.

And a super fun Hallowe'en Package full of those fun mini plastic spiders and some great skull stitch markers. They have a great texture. Reminds me of what sugar skulls would be like, only smaller.

Thanks Pal, I quite enjoy!

21 October 2007

Another Kind of Crafty

I really don't need more crafty endeavours to fill up my time these days, but I found myself with a spare sock when I finally finished with the Teeny Tiny Socks. While questioning the possible uses of an itty bitty sock, Melanie, a knit nite friend, invited me over for an afternoon of crafting using her huge store of supplies and mad skillz to make cards.

So I took a break from some PowerPoint madness I'm working on to go hang and get crafty in NDG. Melanie and her husband Jeff have a great apartment near Monkland. She grossly undersold her collection of card making supplies. All sorts of papers, stamps, stamp pads, gromits, brads, markers. It was card making paradise!

We spent the afternoon chatting, playing with cards, making itty bitty socks, and eating home made cookies (super yummy). It was too much fun. So much fun in fact that she invited me to play board games with her and Jeff, AND stay for super yummy home made soup (I didn't think there was too much nutmeg). A very enjoyable Saturday. One of my most eventful for quite a while.

Thanks so much for having me over, but watch out Melanie, I may become a regular!

19 October 2007

Link a Dink a Bottle of Ink

Too much knitting related internet surfing is making me want to buy lots of things. But I'm trying to be good and work with what I've got at the moment rather than let myself go wild. So I'm going to share the things that are making me drool at the moment. Don't blame me if you are suddenly inspired to melt your credit card.

Crochet Me by Kim Werker
Projects that I like in this book are many. I love the great things done with crochet, especially the Cocoon Market Bag. I know this is the year of the super eco, reusable, knit/crocheted market bag, but this is the first one that has actually tempted me to make one.

200 Crochet Blocks by Jan Eaton
To help support my sudden desire for a granny square afghan. I have visions of over sized blocks becoming a topper for my bed. Winter is coming soon (but hopefully not too quickly).

Interweave Crochet - Fall Issue
In this issue, I'm completely in love with the Seaside Coat. Partly because I love the idea of crocheting and felting such professional looking outer wear, partly because it's a very similar style and colour coat to one that I already own and love. Really I just need to subscribe to this magazine already as there's always something in there that I desperately want to make.

The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller
Not only will it add to my Stitch 'n' Bitch library, it's got some good technical information on crocheting. I know all the stuff so far has been crochet related. That's because it's seriously under represented in my craft library and I'm intrigued to work more with a hook since discovering I can make more things than 60's related Hallowe'en costumes.

Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray
I've been looking at embroidery for months. Slowly I've been accumulating the required supplies and amassing a library of inspiration. I'm working through ideas in my head before putting needle to fabric. I like the kitsch value of using old embroidery patterns and some of the cool ways embroidery is being used to be more than little rosebuds on little girls pinafor dresses. This would be a great addition to the internal brainstorming. One of these days I'll put down my wool and pick up some floss. Mark my words.

Oh and to lighten the mood (and again so I don't lose track of these fun things), here's some fabulous craftiness that the internets have provided me.

Cross Stitch Minipops by Ruby Khan
These are too too too awesome for words. I want all my favourite bands and cast of characters translated from pixel to cross stitch, framed and hanging in my hallway.

Crazy Awesome Crocheted Thingmes by Nicole Gastonguay
Who doesn't want their tv dinner to be smiling up at them as they dig in?