Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stasis

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A month ago, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to participate in this year’s Summer Sweater KAL (sskal), but then Cassy signed on, and Shannon made a point of saying WIPs would count, and Stasis was sitting there sort of half-begun, and I caved. All my other August knitting plans got shoved aside modified and I picked Stasis back up.

I knit the sleeves two at a time, so they're a perfect match. They're also finished, which is a pretty nice feeling.

I knit the sleeves two at a time, so they’re a perfect match. They’re also finished, which is a pretty nice feeling.

There were a few other factors behind my decision, of course. A big one (the biggest one?) was the weather. This has not been a very warm summer, and after the horrible cold of last winter, and the promise of another very cold winter this year, adding another sweater to my wardrobe is just smart. I also remember very keenly how much I wanted to cast on this yarn when it arrived last fall, and the thought of being able to wear it this fall is very appealing. Also, frankly, this KAL forces me to get my act together and focus. By the end of the summer, as life starts to fall back into routine, I find myself wanting to cast on all the things (despite having a pile of WIPs that ought to get some attention). Last year, despite a bunch of distraction, the KAL kept me from getting too side-tracked, and meant Burrard got finished before the cold weather moved in (and before my holiday knitting started).

I'm just a few rows into the waist decreases, but so far so good on the body portion.

I’m just a few rows into the waist decreases, but so far so good on the body portion.

I’m still working on a few other things in the background (a monogamous knitter I may never be), but Stasis is growing, and I am really excited to wear it. I guess that’s the other sskal bonus: not only will I end up with a finished sweater, but now there’s a reason to look forward to the cooler weather (I love fall as much as the next knitter, but the winter that follows? Definitely not as exciting).

A little roundup

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I thought I’d have something finished to show you today, and since I actually finished a really cute baby sweater (still need to take pictured) a week ago and am into the toe decreases of my socks, I really ought to. Instead, I realized that I’d never shown you what I got, knitting-wise, over the holidays, and if I hold out any longer it’ll basically be too late.

I actually wasn’t going to do a gifts post, but then I remembered that I actually love those posts on other people’s blogs (such a great way to find out about new things) and that it’s a great way to say thank you again to the people who came up with these ideas in the first place.

This was a gift from Claudia. It's an Offhand Designs Scottie bag, and it is gorgeous. It was carry-on when I went to Switzerland, and it fits way more than you'd think (right now its being filled up with an afghan, if that helps for scale).

This was a gift from Claudia. It’s an Offhand Designs Scottie bag, and it is gorgeous. It was carry-on when I went to Switzerland, and it fits way more than you’d think (right now its being filled up with an afghan, if that helps for scale).

My sister Jenny is doing most of her masters research in Yellowknife and farther north in the Northwest Territories. These are buttons made of caribou antler that she bought at an art gallery in Yellowknife. I clearly need to knit a classic white-cabled Aran cardigan or something to go with them, don't you think?

My sister Jenny is doing most of her masters research in Yellowknife and farther north in the Northwest Territories. These are buttons made of caribou antler that she bought at an art gallery in Yellowknife. I clearly need to knit a classic white-cabled Aran cardigan or something to go with them, don’t you think? They’re 1-inch wide at their widest point.

Another button, this one from my parents and made by a local (to them) potter. It is so, so lovely, and would be perfect for a shawl or a cowl. It's 1.75-inches wide.

Another button, this one from my parents and made by a local (to them) potter. It is so, so lovely, and would be perfect for a shawl or a cowl. It’s 1.75-inches wide.

Last but not least, this skein of yarn, also from my parents. It was produced, from sheep to skein (or so I understand it), including the dyeing very near where I grew up. I don't know what kind of sheep it came from or its yardage (though it weighs 105g and is fingering weight-ish, so I'm guessing 300-350 yards) but it's soft and rustic and I'm thinking it will become a shawl. Maybe this one. What do you think?

Last but not least, this skein of yarn, also from my parents. It was produced, from sheep to skein (or so I understand it), including the dyeing very near where I grew up. I don’t know what kind of sheep it came from or its yardage (though it weighs 105g and is fingering weight-ish, so I’m guessing 300-350 yards) but it’s soft and rustic and I’m thinking it will become a shawl. Maybe this one. What do you think?

There will be actual knitting on Monday, I promise. Happy weekend!

What I knit this Christmas

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Now that all my knits are gifted, I can post photos and details of the finished items!

I really love how this turned out.

I really love how this turned out.

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The first gift I finished was not the first one I started. This is the Riverbank cowl (by Melissa Thomson) I knit for my sister Jenny. I knit it up in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in the colour China Doll. This was the perfect match of yarn and pattern, and the finished cowl is squishy and drapey, with just enough structure to support all the texture. I especially love that she can wear it as a cowl or a caplet.

Even with all the cabling, I have almost half a skein of the main colour left.

Even with all the cabling, I have almost half a skein of the main colour left.

My sister Connie requested a pair of socks, so I knit her Saltburn by Rachel Coopey. I used Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock (sadly discontinued) in Cobalt and Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Natural. Connie is a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, so knitting her socks in their colours was an obvious choice. The cables meant the socks aren’t very stretchy, though, so they are a bit snug. So snug in fact that she couldn’t get them on until she soaked them and stretched them wet over her heels (and she does not have big feet). I think they’ll be wearable, but I said I knit her another pair of plain socks in the same colours, since I have yarn left over.

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My mum requested a shawl ages ago. Just something small she could wrap around her neck to fight a draught and look nice. I looked at a lot of patterns before settling on Charm, which turned out to be perfect. I knit it up in Hand Maiden Casbah in the Ruby colourway. She wore it all Christmas day, so I’m declaring it a hit.

Dad socks.

Dad socks.

Both my dad and L got socks. For my dad, I went with something fairly plain, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear exciting socks (and by exciting, I mean other than white socks with jeans or black socks with suits). There’s nothing wrong with a great pair of plain socks, though, especially when they’re a perfect fit, as these turned out to be. I knit them up in two shades of Zitron Unisono, which I intend to stock up on, because it is such a pleasure to knit with and really nice to wear (I knit myself a pair of socks in it almost a year ago).

I have not managed to get a proper shot of these since finishing them, but oh well.

I have not managed to get a proper shot of these since finishing them, but oh well.

I went a little fancier for L and went with Charade in Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Mushroom Hunting B Side. I wrote a fair bit about these socks as I was working on them, but suffice to say, L has been wearing them and says they’re a good fit.

The last gift I knit was a hat for my Uncle Michael. I forgot to get a photo of it before I mailed it off, but I knit it using some Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson I had in my stash. This yarn is some of the nicest I’ve knit with in a long time. It’s super soft, springy, and takes Jill’s dyes beautifully. I knit the hat in Chestnut, which is a really warm brown, almost the colour of a cup of hot chocolate. I was worried it wouldn’t arrive in time, but my Uncle e-mailed to say it got there just before Christmas, which is perfect.

How did your Christmas knitting go? I got back from Switzerland on Boxing Day, so there’s a proper post-holidays post coming about pretty yarns and mountain views – I just need to re-acclimate to this time zone first.

Notions

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I was all set to do a progress post, since things are moving right along. I’m a little over half-way through charm, and the ruffling along the edge is quite fetching. I’m also finished the gusset decreases in L’s socks, so it’s a straight shot to the toe now, which means (I hope) this last part will fly by. Unfortunately, the light today is terrible, so instead of posting bad photos I thought I’d pull out this post I’ve had in my back pocket for a little while.

There have been some great notions-related posts in the last little while, and even though  knitters seem to carry around all the same stuff, I’m always fascinated to see what bits and bobs other people use: do we use the same stitch markers? Is there some little thing I don’t know about that’s going to change the way I knit? etc.

I can’t be the only notions nerd out there right?

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I got my notions pouch at City of Craft, a bi-annual craft show featuring local artisans that is seriously the shopping/inspiration highlight of both spring and winter (the Christmas one is coming up and I cannot wait!). This is from Bookhou (she also has an Etsy. Ahem.) and made with some of their linen off-cuts. I love it.

Also, it holds way more than it has any right to.

Click to embiggen, if you like.

Click to embiggen, if you like.

Starting at the top, left-to-right, we have: A baby sock that holds a little ball of waste yarn; nail scissors (perfect for yarn and small enough to carry on airplanes); large stitch holders; Post-Its for making notes and then sticking them to patterns; a circular stitch holder (by Clover), which is the best discover I’ve made in ages; a random button; a safety pin; Dragonfly Wings solid hand lotion, from Dragonfly Fibers; a crochet hook; a stitch counter; an array of stitch markers, explained below; a highlighter and pens; my knitting thimble (technically a Coin Thimble); a fancy stitch marker; plastic cable needles; metal cable needles; a hair elastic; darning needles; and an emergency tampon (zero relation to knitting, obviously).

I do also have a needle gauge/ruler (this one, actually), but it’s a bit too big to fit in there, so I keep it in my needle roll or in a project bag, depending on what I need it for.

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I have a love-hate relationship with stitch markers because, while I won’t dispute their usefulness, I always find they get in the way. I find the stitches on either side of the markers tend to be looser than the others (double so when purling), so I prefer small markers to large ones. The little triangles are perfect for anything on a sock-sized needle (up to about 3.5mm) and the small flexible rings are what I use for anything larger (up to 4.5mm). The larger flexible ones don’t see much action, but they’re good to have around. The locking stitch markers are by far the most versatile and were the first ones I bought. I use them when casting on a million stitches (to mark increments), to mark the right side of the work when knitting garter stitch, to catch the occasional dropped stitch, and on and on – I usually have on clipped to the drawstring of my project bag too, just in case.

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While I would very much like to switch to a no-cable-needle method of cabling, I haven’t made myself learn it yet, so I still use cable needles. The plastic ones (the white one in particular) got me through Burrard and it really wasn’t until the all-over cables of Saltburn that I started to get fed up. None of the plastic ones were small enough, using an extra dpn works, but it also gets in the way, and I was at the point of using a darning needle (seriously) when I discovered the metal Addi cable needles. These were more expensive than the plastic ones, but definitely worth it. They’re easy to use, come as a pair (2.5mm and 4.5mm) and don’t get in the way. I’m still going to teach myself no-needle cabling, but in the meantime, I’ll use the Addis.

And that’s more or less it. Except, well, the sock. The baby sock (using the yarn that would have been the toe of these socks) holds a little ball of waste yarn. I used to keep my waste yarn balled up and loose in my notions pouch, but of course it unwound itself and tangled around everything. This way, it stays tidy and out of the way, and it’s a good way to use a baby sock prototype.

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So, what do you consider essential notions? How do you organize them?

Dramatic update photos early next week, I promise!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes

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Remember Willowherb? The socks I cast on way back in mid May? Yeah… I knit up the first one really quickly and then started the second one and then got distracted. You know how that is. The seasons were changing, other things seemed more pressing and one thing led to another and then a month had gone by.

That’s something I love about socks, though: they’re great little side projects. Whenever I didn’t quite feel like working on whatever was my main project, I’d knit on Willowherb. A few rows here, a few rows there, and by the time I was finished Kit, I was most of the way through the leg, so picking it up to finish didn’t feel like any big thing. And, of course, it wasn’t.

These socks were on the needles for almost two months, but in actual knitting time they didn’t take longer than two weeks to knit. (This is what I love about charted socks. There’s so much motivation to just finish at least this repeat or this section of a repeat before putting them down, which for me often results in knitting at least two or three more rows after deciding I’m done for the time being.) Sometimes coming back to a project that’s been sitting around can feel a it like a slog, but let me tell you, I enjoyed knitting these just as much in July as I did in May. I loved watching the stitches twist their way across the sock and holy moly, did I love this yarn. I have several more skeins in different colourways stashed and I can’t wait to use them!

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Details
Pattern: Willowherb by Rachel Coopey
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss
Needles: 2.75mm
Mods: I was sort of in between the sizes listed, and rather than trying to knit the larger size at a tighter gauge, I opted to knit the smaller size a little looser. I didn’t need to loosen it up much, since it was a 68-stitch sock (my usual), but the twisted stitches and the way they cross over the top does tighten things up a bit. In the end, I got a sock that fits like a dream: tight enough to show off the lace and stitches, but not so tight that it’s hart to pull on or uncomfortable. Other than that, I deepened the heel by four rows, and I think that’s it.

I didn’t plan to leave so long between the two socks, so my notes are pretty bad and thus, they don’t quite match. Part of that is my own fault since I realized about four rows too late in the first sock that I’d somehow missed a couple of pattern rows. It’s in the foot and I considered ripping back, but I would have had to tink every row because ripping would be impossible with all the yarn overs and whatnot. It didn’t bother me that much, and I suspect only knitters will notice.

Catching up

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While I was away, anastasiawraight of For the Knit of It nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, which was a lovely surprise to come home to. There are a few obligations that come with the badge, so lets get started.

Rules:
1. Add the award to your blog.
2. Thank the blogger(s) who gave it to you.
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.
5. Award to 15 bloggers.
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

Already I’ve taken care of numbers 1, 2, and 4. So here are my seven things, in no particular order:
1. I read about a book a week, pretty much on my commute alone. This either means I’m a fast reader or my commute is awful, or something in between. Either way, it comes in handy over at my other blog (versatile, right?)
2. When I was a teenager, my family moved to Saint Lucia for two and a half years. I turned 14 a month after we moved there and was 16 when we left. I played a lot of tennis and went to an all girls Catholic convent school, despite not being even remotely Catholic. It was pretty different.
3. At home, I drink my coffee with a little hot chocolate in it. I mix about a tablespoon of hot chocolate mix with a little milk, and then add the coffee. It feels fancy. (I can totally drink coffee the regular way too, though.)
4. I hate unpacking. I will put it off for weeks until L finally loses it and ask, very nicely, but also firmly, when I am going to put my bag away. I don’t know why I hate it so much, but I really do.
5. I met Robert Plant in a kind of dingy restaurant in Budapest five years ago. It was totally surreal and, because I was backpacking, everything I was wearing was dirty and wrinkled. He was wearing an old sweatshirt with the sleeves cut short, so I felt okay about it.
6. I have been a vegetarian since I was 12, and as far as I know, I’ve never slipped.
7. I think sheep are hilarious. There’s just something about their bare little faces and wooly everything else that cracks me up. I think they’re great.

I read a wide-ranging assortment of blogs websites (some of what I thought of as blogs are, on further consideration, not quite the same, so I’ve paired it down) and since I didn’t see any stipulation that these 15 have to be fiber arts related, they won’t all be (it turns out there won’t be 15, either, but I’m going to go for quality not quantity). That’s the joy of versatility, right?
1. needled
2. leeleetea
3. Yarn Harlot
4. pepperknit
5. All She Wants to Do Is…
6. cocoknits
7. g-uknit
8. Missed Connections
9. Hark, a vagrant
10. Pickle Me This
11. Tom + Lorenzo
12. Smitten Kitchen
13. Aesthetic Outburst

Phew. Some of these blogs have been honoured already, as well they should be. Hopefully some will be new to you as well, because that’s what makes this whole thing fun. I plan to roam around a little through the lists of other nominees’ blog picks to find some new inspiration. In the meantime, it’s Tuesday, and that means that after a two week hiatus, it’s time to pick up the sweater again.