26 August 2007

Knitting in the Afternoon

Alternative Title: Knitting with Lou Reed.

Knitting with others again, this time downtown at a lovely little café just east of McGill. Due to unforeseen structural problems in the Downtown Metro system, I had a lovely stroll from Square Victoria. Not the most direct route, but a lovely walk. An interesting mix of soon-to-be-new McGill students, tourists and scavenger hunters of some sort.

Once at the café I met up with a whole new group of ladies working on various projects. Interestingly a different blend from the Wednesday night NDG knitters I met a few weeks ago. All were more seasoned veterans working with various interesting challenges. There was double sided knitting, crazy intarsia (both content and amount of yarn bobbins), teeny tiny moss stitch sweater, test knitting a local designer's latest pattern, designing her own creation out of the loveliest wool silk blend and some toe up lace knit socks. I felt like I should have brought something a little more substantial than my ongoing Adult Surprise Jacket. The heat also made me wish I'd brought something a little smaller, the sweater already takes up a decent portion of my lap. Next time I'll HAVE to bring some options.

The real conversation piece was the afternoon's soundtrack. Obviously someone was newly 'getting into' music, it was a mix of Lou Reed, Beck, Nancy Sinatra, The Beatles, Lou Reed and Lou Reed. Oh and some old school pop hits from the 50's and 60's. When Beck's Loser came on for the third time, most of us called it an afternoon. Celia was kind enough to give a couple of us a ride to Sherbrooke Metro with some interesting insights into the bill 101 debate sparked by seeing the disbanding of rallyers from a nearby park.

Then I went to do my procrastinated laundry in the deserted local Lavoir which was surprisingly and refreshingly cool.

25 August 2007

Knitting a mystery

Whenever the weather becomes particularly warmish, I start fantasising about having some lovely knitted lingerie to lounge around in trying to move as little as possible to prevent sweating. I suppose the hot humid weather makes me think of the depression and for some reason that evokes the image of Carol Burnett in her white slip, singing and paddling her bathtub gin in Annie.

I woke to find another grey and very sticky day so my desire for some knitted loungewear is renewed once more. I was willing to cast on for 1930 straight away but I don't have enough or the right yarn kicking around in my stash. I poked around the rest of the Summer 04 Knitty and found another couple of compelling patterns, Hush-hush and strangely enough, Zaftzig though using a different yarn.

Each of these projects would require acquiring the yarn and I'm pretty sure the weather will turn before it arrives. But I'm going to head to Effiloché so maybe some of the necessary yarns will make their way into my stash.

In other news, I came home from work this week to find this lovely little treat sticking out of my mail box:

Once I finish up the toe-up socks I'm working on and get my hands on some appropriately lovely sock yarn, I'll be plugging this into my stereo and casting on for my mystery socks. Should be interesting.

22 August 2007

The First Package

The speedy delivery continues with the First Package* arrived Monday afternoon. I'm a bit behind posting about it as I very suddenly was assigned a temp job and had to get ready for it. The buying of groceries for dinners, lunches and breakfastses. Grilling chicken and roasting peppers to facilitate the making of yummy sandwiches to take to work and the making of spaghetti bolognese for dinners through the week.

But now, here's the goods:

How exciting a package? I heart the use of the 'Hello my name is...' stickers. The emails specify a West Coast location, but the postmark reads Montreal. Hrm....

I opened to find a stack of CDs and DVDs, pretty much my whole Amazon list for my listening and viewing pleasure.

In a separate little package, I received these lovely custom stitch markers. I've never had official stitch markers before. I usually use bits of yarn tied into circles or woven around stitches. This is very exciting.

And what am I knitting? Well, I finished the Le'Slouch and am now chugging through the Ravenclaw Knee High toe-up socks for my old roommate. The basic 2x4 rib has inspired me to learn and be comfortable with Continental yarn handling. I'm getting pretty quick with it (I think I'm now faster doing the rib Continental rather than English), but I'm still doing all the fancy work with my usual throwing.

Oh and I'm SO IN LOVE with the yarn I'm using. I mean I've been completely enamoured with Briggs & Little since forevers. But now the Sport is my favourite. The resulting fabric is just beautiful. I want to make at least two cardigans out of the light and dark sheep's grey. The only thing is that I haven't found a local shop that stocks it. My usual place in Edmonton stocks every weight and colour which made me very dependant. I love this company's wools because it's not expensive, there's some great colours, it has a fabulous texture and it comes in very generous skeins. Oh and it's not expensive. More people need to stock this company's wool. I heart Briggs & Little! (end of endorsement).

*First Package according to K2P2's count, I say it's package two, or at least 1b as I got her/his order from a local online yarn shop.

20 August 2007

The Haul from Home and another Slouch

I've returned from holiday out West at my parents and came back with quite a haul. Knittingwise, I brought back all the projects I had taken with me with none completed, but some pretty close and a stack of Knitting mags. But it was a successful trip for my other craftiness as you can see below:

Some very inspiring embroidery found while tidying up in the basement. Possibly done by my Grandmother or Great-Grandmother.

A fun deck of quilter's quarters that I got as payment for making a set of six place mats for my mother.

Leftovers from when I made my roll-you-own-needlecase and two project bags.

Leftovers from the place mats I made for my mother (carefully cut so to save as much fabric as possible).

My new palette of embroidery floss (they were on sale).

Some more colours that I couldn't resist (they weren't on sale).

And I just finished another slouch for a friend. She was lamenting her lack of fashion victim-hood without one, so I cast on without regard for my current list of projects that need to be finished. I really like the colour and texture of the hat and have been considering keeping it for myself, but seeing it on me makes me think of little girls in grey wool pleated skirts or members of military units so I think it is destined for it's originally intended owner. I had to adapt the pattern for a smaller gauge yarn and used my favourite Italian Tubular Cast on for this hat.

A note on cast ons for ribbing. I favour cast ons done on one needle with various twisting and turnings to create the stitches. It's knitting magic! I've tried the version with provisional cast on of half the stitches compared to the Italian Tubular method and have to say that I prefer the results of the Tubular when worked 4 rows of yarn in front while slipping purled stitches.

While the provisional method looks tidier at the start, the lack of super-stretchability is a turn off, not to mention the lack of seeming like one is casting a spell. The Italian method provides all the stretch of the rest of the ribbing and seems to me more efficient for materials. No extra yarn is needed or needles or crochet hooks, etc. If you are like me and tend to have loosey goosey results, then I'd suggest working the foundation rows on a smaller needle. And if working in the round, I'd suggest joining in the round just as you start your regular knitting (or after two rounds of foundation and then work two more, alternating carrying the yarn in front and slipping purled stitches and in back slipping knit stitches on each round).

17 August 2007

Couldn't help but to cast on

Nice self striping, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

The kit just sat there staring at me all morning until I couldn't help it any longer. I unwound the skein, made a tiny yarn cake (it almost seemed like a waste of time and a perfectly good yarn winder), and cast on for the smallest project I've ever made. It was finished in no time and I am pleased with the finished product (hence all the pics in my Flickr). In fact I am considering a future of knitting doll clothing as it was just so much fun!

Thanks Secret Pal for an interesting afternoon project. I can't wait for what other surprises you have up your sleeve. Instant first package and virtual gift of a lovely sock pattern, what's next? I can hardly wait...

16 August 2007

Nominated for speediest delivery

Pckg no. 1, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

I've had a Secret Pal for about 2 days and on the second day I received my first package of treats!

There was some rapid fire email exchanges detailing the holes in my bamboo straights collection and some creative guessing on my part as to my pal's location (creative = I'm crazy and guess really weird places based on misreading certain terms).

Next thing I know, the girl who contacted me through Ravelry was all of a sudden asking me if I was in fact me and lived on X street as she just got an order. Again I'm not too swift sometimes and was like, I didn't order anything (sometimes I'm quite a silly rabbit). She offered to bring my treats to the knitting night in Westmount so I got my treats last night!

Thanks so much K2P2! I shall now have to finish what's occupying my 2.0mm double points so I can get cracking on the tiny sock. The straights are destined for my roll-your-own needle case. They shall be quite cosy.

So last night was my big blind date with Robyn who I have been messaging with through Ravelry this past week. It was nice to visit the more English part of Montreal and hang with some fellow yarn geeks. I got to help someone with a sock and talk about all my geekdom (and history of geekdom) without shame.

I completely stopped the conversation when I mention steeking. Literally a hush fell on the group as one knitter quietly said 'I'm so afraid to cut my knitting.' So I cavalierly suggested getting an ugly practise sweater from a thrift store to practise cutting up (even practise crocheting the steek) to get used to the idea, how it feels and what should be cut. I know I should have been more nervous about steeking, but I've always been a fearless knitter. The first sock I ever knit was a lacy and child sized. My mom was my only knitting resource and she's more of the easy, quick knit sweater school of Patons from the 80's, so I was pretty much on my own and learned from patterns and projects that I wanted to tackle.

I guess I'm now in the company of the biggest geekie knitters out there. I kind of figured that from how long I've been knitting, but it didn't really occur to me just how much until last night. Not only have I steeked, but I was fearless about it too.

I wonder if I get to have a funny hat now? Or some kind of knitting orb & sceptre? I guess I should at least treat myself to some lovely handpainted something or other.

14 August 2007

It's So Exciting!

yummy insides too., originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

It's done and I LUV IT!

Right. I haven't written about it. So I knit me a Deep V Argyle Vest. Started it sometime in June and finished stitching down the steeks yesterday evening. In the pics you'll notice one of my new and fabulous swishy girly skirts. I've decided that I'm going to be a pretty skirt girl. So now I have a bunch. And the one in the pics is my favourite. I just want to twirl for hours in it. But then I get dizzy and stop.

But back to the knitting. After figuring out A. my gauge and then extrapolating that to B. what size instructions I should use (I stopped and started a couple of times as usual), the pattern was pretty easy breezy. Steeking is the coolest thing evers! And for the record, I did not require alcohol to aid me with my cutting. Just some lovely pink embroidery scissors and some patience.

I didn't really change anything. The only trickiness was working with the different yarns. The Rowan Tapestry is like knitting with Unicorn Hair (but easier to come by) and the Alpaca Silk is kind of slippery. But the Tapestry felts enough to make me confident that the Alpaca Silk will stay in place. I'm happy with how well the Hand painted Alpaca Silk combined with the Tapestry to create a somewhat readable pattern and that any colour pooling strengthens the look of the vest rather than making me want to tear out my eyes. Oh and I'm amazing cause I dyed the Alpaca Silk myself.

In other excitement news, I am making knitting friends and am about to meet people I have only known thru the internets for the first time evers! I am going to participate in a Knit Nite for the first time tomorrow night and am kind of nervous about it. This nice lady contacted my thru Ravelry to ask if I have ever particitpated and would I like to come to the next one. So off I go! My first knitting friend! Kind of exciting, yes?

But wait, there's more...

I signed up for Secret Pal 11 and got an email today from my Pal of Secrecy with some leading questions and fun Star Wars banter. Secret Pal combines two of my favourite things (well three), getting mailed packages of treats, surprises and knitting. It's like they were reading my mind when creating it! I'm terribly excited and I've only had an email so far. It's only going to get better and I can't wait!

I think I'll twirl off and make some dinner now...

8 August 2007

Secret Pal 11 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I enjoy working with wool and odd fibres (ginestra, hemp, bamboo, soy, whathaveyou). I'm generally not a fan of chunky yarns, acrylic or silly novelty yarns (such as eyelash or Baby Monkey). I'm getting into a neutral tweedy space these days but always have space for luscious yarns that demand to be touched. Although I don't like things that induce sneezing such as angora or mohair.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a roll-your-own needle case for my straights and use the original packaging for circulars and double points.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting since I was six years old. I learnt from my grandmother initially and later from books after I lost interest and forgot how. I'd say I'm an advanced knitter. Stranded colorwork, entrelac, lace knitting, all covered.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
yes i surely do.

5. What's your favorite scent?
I love lavender but am not really a smelly candle/incense/soap kind of gal.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Yes I do. Candy more than chocolate (but I'll take chocolate too). My favourite is lemon flavoured anything.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I sew (but need to buy a machine), knit, paint (oil), crochet and embroider. I've been in a knitting spot lately. I haven't tried spinning yet but have lusted after some yummy looking roving from time to time.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I'm an indie rocker with an ear for Britpop, great Jazz and classic rock (no Aerosmith but yes to the Velvet Underground, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. Yes I can handle MP3s and do quite enjoy newly suggested music. For more detail on my listening habits.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I've been quite enjoying greens of late. Not extreme hatred of any colours but have a tendency towards interesting combinations of subtle colours rather than really bold bright colours.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
It's just me and a potted plant. My dog lives with my parents in Alberta.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
yes to all but the poncho. Not a poncho fan.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Um, things that require knitting? Really I love knitting pretty much anything. And I have been known to start a project just to try a new technique or yarn and find someone who would enjoy the finished product.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I'm working on a pair of socks (toe up), a Fair Isle vest, a cardigan, a knitted shark, a second mitten at the moment with some other things waiting in the wings.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Yes I sure do. But am more of a fan of useful things rather than just pretty. Limited space and general aversion to dusting keeps my apartment fairly sparsely decorated.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Straights, but have been bitten by the lace knitting/Fair Isle bug that requires the use of circulars. I am hardcore wood/bamboo though. One of the things that kept me from loving knitting when I first started was the awful feeling/noise combination of the metal needles squeaking against each other. Combine that with the squeak of acrylic and I get the shivers. alkjdflkjasd.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I'm baby sitting my brother's swift and yarn winder at the moment.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
ooooo, an entrelac baby blanket that hasn't had the border sewn on yet. All things were finished knitting shortly after I started as an Xmas 2001 project (I think). It had no baby as recipient, I just wanted to try entrelac.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Anything that causes my brother to make a feast of food. He loves to cook and I love to do the dishes.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Not really, but pretty yarns with great texture are fun.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to Interweave Knits but every once in a while buy Knit.1, Rebecca, Vogue Knitting and the odd Interweave Crochet. Books are in the Amazon Wishlist somewhere in the maze of music and other books. Needles I have pretty much been buying as needed, I could probably use circulars (I prefer Clover Bamboo). I wouldn't mind some nice self striping sock yarn for a pair of Jaywalkers. Everyone else has knit a pair and I'm feeling left out.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Yes, but none come to mind at the moment.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes I knit socks, but I wouldn't call myself a sock knitter per se. I'm a US size 6.5 or a 37.

23. When is your birthday?
February 16th. Sucks when you live in the land of ice and snow. Never had an outdoor party as a kid. And Valentines is right there so I developed a taste for Cinnamon Hearts out of survival.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
janemumbles (I like to be consistent).