Category Archives: Here and There

Here & There: Making it happen edition

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grinchtoes1

My current in-between socks are these very fun stripes. These were kind of supposed to be my Christmas socks, but I think the colours work year-round. (Yarn is the fantastic Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock in Grinchmas.)

Every year I think, Finish it up February — yeah! This is the year I pull out my WIPs and get stuff done! and then, of course, some new project presents itself and I decide that it’s more important or more interesting and do that instead. This year, it was baby things — little gifts for a newborn and 1st birthday presents for Amber — and there is pretty much no way to make a case against prioritizing those, right?

Once those were done, I decided to use my time to pick up an old project (my current in-between socks) and finally start sewing something. Slow and steady has been focus this February, and even though that doesn’t offer the same kind of quick-hit joy as finishing a lot of things, I am finding it energizing to give myself time to really sink into a project with no immediate pressure to finish.

So, in lieu of exciting project photos, here are some of the excellent things I’ve read this month — often, truth be told, while knitting away on something or other.

  • In a knitting club, I found a cure for selfishness and cynicism: An essay about knitting (and knitters) and how generous the community can be: “You may think you know the kind of person who knits her own socks or sweaters, but trust me, you don’t. Gender, race, religion and country of origin mean nothing in the knitting world.”
  • This tweet (I won’t retype it, just click for second) is so, so funny. As a journalist, I know exactly how and why this kind of query would come about, but as a knitter, man, it makes me laugh every time.
  • A ravel of knitting words: Merriam-Webster explores the origins of 10 knitting terms.
  • How Christian Siriano is changing the red carpet: As a former Project Runway devotee, I can’t resist stories about its contestants design life. That Siriano has gone on to not only become a bonafide star, but also to use his talent to design clothing for women of all sizes, is fantastic.
  • Chris Rock answer VF’s Proust questionnaire: “What is your motto? ‘You can’t be great on the side.’ Whenever one of my friends starts telling me about the 12 projects they’re working on simultaneously, I always say, ‘Slow down. You can’t be great on the side.’ “
  • Visions of the Future: A few years ago, when we were in Boston, I went to the International Poster Gallery, which is a collection of old travel advertising posters (it is fascinating). JPL’s new poster series for various planets and moons reminds me so much of that, and I love that they’re all free to download and print as you like. I suspect a few will end up on our walls (my favourites are The Grand Tour, Enceladus, and Titan).
  • The health benefits of being lazy (need I say more?)
  • The Story of a Fuck-Off Fund: Julie linked to this last week and I’m reposting here: Every woman should have one of these (everyone, really, but women especially I think).
  • How do I become … a fabric designer: Well, obviously being a fantastic artist is a good start, but Vanessa Lawes’ story has more to it than that. Her work is gorgeous, though.
  • Five ways to kick-start your sewing mojo: A list I very much needed, even if only acknowledge that my sewing mojo needed a kick. (Karen linked to it in one of her best Elsewhere posts — seriously, each of those links is gold).
  • And, a couple of yummy-sounding recipes that I have yet to try, but want to: Chef’s Showcase: Curried Lentil & Apricot Soup (includes a great story about the chef, Ravi, who is Toronto-famous for his soups) and Orzo with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Blue Cheese, I see no way that that combination could be anything but delicious.
southport1

I am sewing again! This is/will be a Southport Dress. I’m most of the way finished the bodice, with the rest of the pieces cut and ready to go. I’m very excited to see how it turns out. More details later.

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Here & There: All-my-projects-are-secret edition

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It’s that time of year again (already) when pretty much everything I’m working on is a Christmas gift and thus, secret. I am knitting like crazy over here, and can’t really show you a thing. So, in lieu of lovely projects (they’re here on Rav, if you’re curious) here are some things I’ve been enjoying/reading in the last little while.

  • I knit a ton of stranded colour work at this time of year, and this tutorial, about how to quickly and easily catch long floats as you knit, is amazing. I definitely didn’t catch every second stitch, but there are some loooong floats in this pattern, and this technique made keeping them snug much, much easier.
  • I loved this Slate piece about Apple’s Notes app and all the weird things we use it for. I don’t actually use Apple Notes, but I do use my Android’s notes app, and Evernote, for all kinds of miscellaneous things, including stitch counts for my standard sock recipes (heel and toe counts, since I can never quite remember), tutorials, measurements, gauge, and shopping lists. I haven’t kept a diary in a very long time, but these accumulated lists and notes and bookmarks paint a very personal picture and, in some cases, remind me of something I thought was interesting months (or even years) ago. This story made me go back through my notes, and I was pretty entertained by what I found.
  • Women are just better at this stuff’ — This Guardian piece about emotional labour and feminism is fascinating and thought provoking. It’s not a new idea, and certainly something I’ve talked about with my friends, but reading it while in the midst of holiday knitting gave it a new significance. The time I spend planning gifts is not insignificant, and it’s something I’m happy to do for the people I love, but this article made me think of all of that in a different light. Not negatively, just differently.
  • L and I have been watching a ton of Poirot now that it’s on Netflix (in Canada, anyway), so this story about a man who read all of Agatha Christie’s 78 mysteries was quite a treat. I love a good mystery and can’t believe I haven’t actually read any of hers (I’ve certainly watched them). Time to do something about, and his handy Top 10 is probably where I’ll start.
  • Pesto Ramen! I haven’t tried this yet (though the Vegan Pho recipe I linked to last time has become a regular meal in our house), but I plan to. I will report back, but if you’ve made it, let me know what you thought!
  • Last but not least, McSweeney’s is usually pretty good for a laugh, and this satirical take on a knitting group is very, very funny (maybe even more so because it resembles no group of knitters I’ve ever met). Stitch and bitch, indeed.
  • Edited to add: One more, and a timely one at that. As we’re all reeling from last week’s attacks in Paris and Beirut, I’ve seen a lot of confusion about who/what ISIS/ISIL/IS is and where it came from. I work at a newspaper, so when something awful happens, it becomes my wall-to-wall world (working for the business section is no insulation). One of the best things I’ve read about ISIS is this story from the Aug. 13 issue of New York Review of Books — The Mystery of ISIS. Sometimes the answer to a crisis is to try to get away from it, because it is so, so overwhelming; other times, the answer is to dig in and read, and read, and read. My reaction tends to shift from one to the other, and if yours does too, and you’re in the digging stage, this is a great place to start.

Here & There, Autumn edition

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A basic of WIPs. That's the first of L's Christmas socks on the side there (nearly finished!) and the bag at the top of the basked holds the first finished sleeve of my Epistrophy cardigan. I am back at work on that sucker because if it feels like fall already, I am for sure going to want that finished by mid-October.

A basic of WIPs. That’s the first of L’s Christmas socks on the side there (nearly finished!) and the bag at the top of the basket holds the first finished sleeve of my Epistrophy cardigan. I am back at work on that sucker because if it feels like fall already, I am for sure going to want that finished by mid-October. (Also, can you believe that orchid is still blooming!? What a trooper.)

I don’t know how long it will last, but right now there’s just a touch of fall in the air. This week is supposed to get warmer again, but I wore hand-knit socks both days this weekend after months of not needing socks at all, and today I wore both my Grace cardigan (first time since the spring) and my Shaelyn on the walk to work. Really, if Me-Made-May was a September thing, I would have been killing it, because I was wearing my double-gauze Scout Tee (so, basically this outfit) too.

Anyway, suffice to say that fall feels very like it has arrived, and though I always mourn the end of summer, there are worse ways for it to end than with the crisp air and great light of fall. In the spirit of this wonderful season that is far too short, I am in a mad dash to knit all the things and make all soups and basically set myself up for an excellent season. To that end, here are some of the things I’m planning (and reading) at the moment.

  • I have a lot of knitting planned (of course) but I am especially excited by my recent plan to knit myself a Dala horse hat and mitts set, using the excellent Karusellen hat pattern from the new Pom Pom (my issue just arrived!) and the free Dala Selbu Hybrid mittens pattern.
  • Button-down shirts always feel very fall to me — something about back to school I guess — and I have both the Aster and the Archer patterns to try. This is a big step forward in my sewing, but I successfully executed a (never blogged, for various reasons) Southport Dress, so I’m feeling okay about the whole endeavour. Really, it will be finding the time that’s the real challenge — sewing requires so much more set up than knitting.
  • And speaking of sewing, I also snagged Grainline’s new Lark Tee pattern because fall means layering, and this is tee designed with that express purpose in mind! (Also, there are a ton of variations included, so if I can nail the fit, I can start churning out t-shirts, which are a definite wardrobe staple for me.)
  • Clearly, all this making will make me hungry, and soup and grilled cheese is just about my favourite meal pairing (ask just about anyone who knows me). After years of searching (not exaggerating) this is probably the best and more reliable tomato bisque recipe I’ve ever found, and this is the absolute right time to be making it because fresh tomatoes take this to another level.
  • Another soup I am dying to try (but, full disclosure, have not yet made) is this vegan pho. I love pho, but it’s very hard to find one that doesn’t have fish broth. Clearly making it at home is the answer, and I like that this recipe is for a small quantity. Leftovers are great, but sometimes you just want to make dinner (and it’s so much easier to scale up than down).
  • Did you see Knitty’s call for patrons? When I first started knitting (before I knew about Ravelry) Knitty was my first major resource. I found it during a bout of blind googling and it felt like I’d landed on buried treasure. Now that I’ve come to better understand its place in knitting’s web-culture and its fantastic attitude toward designers, I like it even more. I’m not sure I’ve ever knit a pattern, but I’ve definitely read through instructions to learn about techniques and the trove of tutorials is really excellent. (Edited to add: This is total nonsense on my part. Monkey is a Knitty pattern! The more I look at their archive, the more I realize how many “classic” patterns were published by Knitty.) Basically, I did the math, and realized that I could support this excellent resource and publication for less than a skein of sock yarn a year, and signed up to be a patron. This is not meant to be a directive, but if you didn’t hear about this initiative and are interested, it’s definitely worth checking out the ways you can support Knitty.
  • And, last but not least, L and I are in the art-hanging stage of our move-in (this is when it’s serious, because your furniture better be pretty much arranged) and we’ve been re-evaluating some of our previous frame choices. I found this tutorial today for a kind of floating-non-frame look and I think we’re going to try it in the living room.

What are you enjoying these days? Is it fall where you live?

Here and There

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Fika! (Nearly) half-done a pair.

Fika! (Nearly) half-done a pair.

One of my favourite things on other blogs is when the writer posts a list of thoughtful links, with little details about each. I read a lot, but I also miss a lot, and it’s nice to get a chance to catch up. It’s also a little window into what that person finds interesting enough to remember days later, so it offers another way to know them, in addition to whatever it is they make/do. So, I thought I’d try my hand at it. I’m not sure if I’ll make this a regular-regular feature, since I think the best of these lists are sporadic and written only when there’s a collection of really good things, but we’ll see.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been meaning to share:

  • First, an on-the-needles update, since I’ve been bad at that. Above, the first Fika sock. I subscribed to PomPom last month after years of thinking about it (should have just done it ages ago, there are always at least two patterns I want to make) and cast these on almost as soon as the issue arrived. At the bottom of this post you can see the start of a swatch for Balta. I realized I don’t really have many warm-weather knits, and I want to change that. I bought Gudrun’s book when it came out, and though I didn’t anticipate this would be the first thing I made from it, it’s nice to be surprised.
  • I am very interested in the idea of capsule wardrobes, and this GGC post pointed me over to this new-to-me blog, where I entered a capsule rabbit hole. I’m not sure I could do it (or want to do it), but it turns out I can read a lot about it.
  • Further to that, Karen’s wardrobe planning posts inspired me to not only go out and purchase myself a Fashionary (from her shop, of course), but to actually sketch in it! This is a magic book, because I am not very good at drawing and all my sketches look good (to me, anyway). I’m not sure yet how I plan to use this book, but for now it’s quite fun, so no plan is necessary.
  • Okay, last fashion-y one: This Into Mind post on why dressing for your “body type” is bullshit was awesome. It hits so many important points, and for me, made me rethink the way I think about shopping and clothes in general: Am I wearing what I want to wear or am I wearing what I’ve been told I should? Who decides what’s flattering? Etc. Anyway, it’s a great (not too long) read, and I found it empowering.
  • I had to go over to my Twitter to find the link for that last one and I was reminded about this amazing looking salad that I now want to make this weekend. Perhaps my favourite thing about this recipe, though, is the write-up that introduces it, and in particular this bit, about our tendency to search out all the good parts amid the filler: “We’re all a little hard-wired to eat like slightly deranged miners, pioneers panning for gold and the lone, lingering pine nut. We’re selfish, eyes-on-the-prize creatures—especially when we eat, when we are at our most creature-like.” YES.
  • Also food-related, this is what I’m going to make for dinner tonight (provided L picks up some pearl barley, which I foolishly forgot earlier, even though it was on my list.) I work weird hours and don’t cook much during the week, which makes me very recipe conscious on the weekend. (I’m going to make this salad to go with it — I make it all the time for lunch and it’s delicious.) (**Edited to add: The mushroom-barley porridge was delicious, but use more mushrooms than the recipe says. I used a whole bad of shiitakes and was very glad I did so.)
  • Let’s end on an adorable note. Sam posted some new pictures of baby Amber and she is so cute I can hardly stand it. (Also, check her out in her little sweater! Such a good fit right now.)
  • **Late-breaking addition: Six years ago my sister and I went to Nepal to volunteer in a daycare. The daycare allowed mothers to work outside the home (and taught the children both English and Nepalese, as well as giving them a big healthy meal) which meant greater financial independence for women, thereby allowing them to contribute to their families and/or leave abusive situations. We went there with The Mountain Fund, an organization whose progress I’ve followed ever since. There are lots of ways to help victims of the recent earthquakes in Nepal, all of them good, but if you’re wondering how to ensure your money goes directly to help, this is a safe bet. They’re on the ground and already working to rebuild. You can follow their progress and challenges here on Twitter.**
Swatching for Balta. (And yes, that is a personalized yarn bowl. My LYS is the best!)

Swatching for Balta in Quince & Co. Sparrow. (Yes! that is a personalized yarn bowl. My LYS is the best!)