29 September 2007

Ten Second Tidy!


I know I already posted today and I don't want to be that person who posts every 10 seconds but I though I should mention the sidebar tidy that just happened.

I have been trying to sort out how to deal with the storage of knitted projects vs. other things I label and came to the conclusion that really it's just all about the knitting. So I've sorted all the labels into groups to be nice and organised.

You may notice that I'm not using the usual WIP, FO lingo. That's cause I don't like it. In fact I have a general aversion to acronyms in general. Other people can use them, that's fine by me, but I don't want to and you can't make me!

These acronyms just continue to remind me of the shallower, trendy side of knitting in the new millenium. While I appreciate that there are so many people turned on to knitting these days, I don't like the inference that it's some kind of fickle fad. For me, it's not. Knitting has pretty much always been a part of my life. Not usually something that I use to define myself and there are many people I know who don't know and have never seen me knit. It's just something I do. Like read, garden or watch movies (I see a LOT).

It's new for me to be public about my hobbies and only know people because of knitting so it's been an adjustment. I'm reluctant to change, but I think it's a good thing to take knitting off my couch and participate in Knit Nites which I really do enjoy.

But I still refuse to knit on the Metro or bus. Knitting is for me, not to create a spectacle. I'm not judging those of you who do the knitted commute, and mega props to that chick I saw knitting a sock while crossing the street that time. It's just not my thing.

There's my two bits.

One of these days I'll get around to knitting up a proper header. I've got it all planned but have yet to cast on.

I'm becoming a swap junkie!

I just signed myself up for the No More Humdrum Mittens Swap and am quite looking forward to it. I heart knitting mittens and wearing knitted mittens.

Without further ado, here is my questionnaire:

How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I've been knitting since I was a kid (like 6 I think). My grandmother taught me, then I promptly forgot and retaught myself from books later on.

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Advanced. Entrelac, knitted lace, Fair Isle, steeking, what have you.

What are your favorite colors? Any you dislike?
I tend towards interesting and subtle colour combinations rather than bright colours and have been favouring shades of green, and blue lately, but don't have any real dislikes. Sometimes a girl needs some hot pink in her life!

Do you like Latvian type patterns? If so, what are your favorite patterns?
Mmm, I haven't explored traditional patterns too much. I'm pretty much open to anything.

I quite enjoy kitschy subject matter. Like the Swedish Squirrely Mittens that I'm currently working on. I would like to make a pair with a super cutesy, 60's Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer kind of deer on them.

Do you desire mittens for yourself, your "special someone else" or your child?
Oh they'd be for me.

What other things do you enjoy knitting?
Scarves, sweaters, hats, socks, toys, whatever suits my fancy or whatever best suits the person I'm knitting for.

What sort of needles do you enjoy working with? (straights vs circs, bamboo vs aluminum)
Mmm. I'm a traditionalist and favour double points over that trendy magic loop crap. And it's bamboo for me. I can't deal with that scrapping feeling/sound of aluminium against aluminium.

What’s one project you’ve not yet tried but are dying to make?
Nothing comes to mind.

What’s one yarn you’ve not yet tried but are dying to work with?
I'd like to spend some more quality time with tweeds. In particular Jamieson's 2-ply spinthrift.

What other hobbies do you have? Do you spin? Sew? Garden? Cook?
Haven't gotten into spinning just yet, but am interested in trying it out. Yes I sew, but need to get me a sewing machine. Oh and sometimes I bake fun stuff like cookies, muffins and such.

Besides yarn, do you collect anything?
Not really. Unofficially I collect vintage glass pieces that are clear and green in colour. Not fancy, but everyday stuff like small vases, candle sticks, votive holders, interesting carafes. Usually it's very 70's olive glass.

What kind of goodies do you enjoy? Sweets? Salty? Anything you hate or are allergic to?
I like candy. Like gummy candies. Wine gums, Swedish Berries, etc. Jelly Bellies are good too.

Oh and I drink tea. Good solid old school black teas. And I quite like Chai.

I'm allergic to Mango.

Do you have any kids? Pets?
Nope, nope. Looking into getting a lovebird, but now I only have a plant.

What is your favorite part of Winter?
Um, Christmas holidays. My family usually goes somewhere warm.

What is your least favorite part of Winter?
The winter part. The thing that gets me through is fun mittens. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to knit winter accessories, but I don't like the season AT ALL. I don't like being away from green for so long.

26 September 2007

Another Lovely Postal Surprise

My good old Secret Pal sent me another package. The excitement was too too too much to bear so I tore it open immediately!

I was very pleased to find two nice canvas tote bags and a little note mentioning saving the world through the use of reusable bags. As someone who relies on her feet and public transportation, I know the value of a good tote. Plastic bites into the hands 3 steps outside the grocery store. So I have built up a personal arsenal of tote bags that I always take with me on such trips.

And the new ones from my Secret Pal fit in quite nicely.

I know everyone and their dog have decided that this is the year of the knitted or crocheted shopping bags, but I see no need to cast on just yet as I've got enough to last me for quite a while.

24 September 2007

Sudden Sense of Accoplishment

All the knitting angst is gone. My sore arm (from too much fine cutting with an Xacto, not knitting) and my general malaise about knitting without getting any closer to finishing something led me to revisit the Secret Knitting Socks that I started a while ago. Saturday afternoon I spent finishing up the first sock, knitting along to Daniela's fine commentary and great music selections.

The sock ended up so fine that I immediately cast on for the second sock. This isn't too unusual, the euphoria of completing a sock or mitten usually gives me enough stamina to immediately start the next one.

I was quite surprised at how well I remembered the pattern from only hearing it through once. I remembered all the parts and didn't consult the instructions at all for the second sock. I'm sure that it helped that I had just completed the first when I started the second, but still I'm impressed! So were some people at the Sunday knitting meetup downtown. Celia was downright astonished that I could work without any sort of a pattern. Uh. I dunno. I'm a good listener I guess?

Here's the flat sock.

I'm quite surprised how much I actually enjoyed (yup, ENJOYED) sewing up the sock. Maybe I just appreciated the brilliance of the seam placement. Or I could just be crazy. I mean what knitter actually LIKES seaming things?!?!? That's just crazy talk!

Look at the lovely socks. I won't bore you with how many pictures and angles I took to get the money shot.

Right, the dets:
Pattern: Secret Knitting Socks as provided by my Secret Pal K2P2
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sea Wool (about a half a skein)
Start: September 4, 2007
End: September 24, 2007 (some people say I'm a fast knitter, I say I just need more of a social life).

21 September 2007

Knitting Nowhere

Why does it feel like I'm knitting and knitting with no results? Oh yes. Maybe it's because I have 5 very active projects at the moment. That's right. 5 projects. I've been working on the Ravenclaw toe-up knee highs and Adult Surprise Jacket at knit nites. But then I couldn't help but start up on the Cable Eyelet Cardigan and one day a sudden urge for Fair Isle resurrected the hibernating mitten.

Now the Cardigan is using up all my knitting attention span and happens to also be the smallest gauge item that I'm knitting at the moment. So I really feel like all the knitting is getting me nowhere.

And now I have a sore forearm. It's not from knitting, it's from work. But still the knitting isn't helping. Not knitting is making me quite restless. Yargh.

18 September 2007

Surprisingly Addictive

I have started to work on my first sweater built without a pattern. I am kind of hesitant to call it an original design at the moment as I lifted the stitch pattern idea from a Gap sweater I own. I know, I know, how does a knitter still buy sweaters from the Gap? Well in my defence it was two years ago and later that day I was flying to London for a year with unknown ideas of having time to knit myself a sweater for the winter. As it turns out I did very little knitting that year and that Gap sweater is now a favourite.

Particularly because of the alternating mini cables and raised eyelet sections. On the Gap sweater, it gives an overall effect of being a fancy version of waffle type long underwear top. But I thought it would be a good way to showcase the 10 balls worth of hand painted VIP I have hanging around. I dyed it myself so am somewhat determined to actually make something with it.

I'm working on 2.5 mm needles and after working 3 inches of ribbing on straights, I finally decided to save my forearms and buy a circular. Despite the mind boggling gauge of 38 sts/ 4 in and that I'm working the fronts and back in one piece (376 sts in a row), I find this project to be quite addictive to work on. I'm alternating between two balls every right side row to fight pooling and skein colour variations which only seems to make it more entertaining to keep knitting more and more and more.

Check out the lovely effect of the finished piece. I thought that maybe there's too much of the little bitty cable, but it's growing on me quite a lot as it's growing.

My curiosity got the better of me with the Secret Knitting CD and I started them with some very nice Fleece Artist Sea Wool. They are quite curiously worked flat for some reason, but I'll stick with it and maybe there's a compelling reason for it. Too bad these aren't quite as addictive as my cardigan. Maybe part of the addictive qualities of the cardigan is that I really don't know what it's going to be like when finished. I'm pretty stoked to see the finished product. Should be pretty sweet.

I'm sure I'll finish the sweater before these socks.

8 September 2007

Completely Unable to Make Decisions

My Secret Pal was most kind enough to procure 3 Zephyr Style patterns for me that I was eyeballing. The ever-so-famous Rusted Root, Ms. Marigold and the new Juliet. I started this morning to have a look at possible yarn choices for Juliet. I had an eye to use the Rowan Bamboo Soft but then the cost of the yarn combined with the 12 skeins I'd need for Juliet made me abandon it as a suitable yarn.

But I really want to use it for something! I love the sheen of it and how Ysolda's smocked cardigan turned out. So I started considering it for Rusted Root instead.

Colour then quickly became a question. I like the hemp straight out. But would it make an appropriate Rusted Root that's dramatic and fits into my existing wardrobe? Would it just be a drab non-contrast to my existing clothes? I do enjoy how the Sea Foam knits up, but is it enough? Looking on Ravelry there are many fine examples of Rusted Root. The ones that I find most attractive are the mid to darker greys and (oddly enough) the mustards. l dunno. The decision is killing me!

One second thought, do I even like how the Bamboo Soft hangs? Sigh. I'm only slightly better at making decisions when I have the yarn in front of me.

Update: I bought some Rowan shade cards. Maybe this will make decisions easier in the future.

7 September 2007

I'm Terribly Spoiled

Through the various networks of relatives and travelling SP 11 hostesses, I received Huge Package no. 1 at the Knit Nite on Wednesday. I was so excited about it that I couldn't help but open some of the stuff on top while waiting for the Metro. I would have opened everything right then and there, but most things were very expertly packaged up and I didn't have all the tools with me to get at everything.

Despite being really tired when I got home, I stayed up and opened everything inside. I don't do very well with waiting to open presents. Christmas is a killer time of year for me. Even when giving presents, I want to get it over with as soon as possible because the suspense kills me every time. I have no interest in wrapping things anymore.

I'm very happy with the contents of the package. A wonderfully huge book full of crochet afghans (I have my eye on creating a Granny Square masterpiece on of these days), some lovely, squishy fall themed yarns, a fantastic selection of old school stitch holders and cable needles (something that I have been lacking), a huge selection of tea in various tempting flavours such as Cocoa Spice as well as three sheep themed mugs to enjoy it in, a huge dark chocolate bar, milk chocolate pop-rocks, some lovely note paper, personalised pencils, a cute 'n' furry sheepie address book, some knitter's playing cards, a retractable measuring tape and most surprising of all, 3 DVDs off my wishlist: Say Anything, Kill Bill vol.1 and vol.2.

I went to bed as soon as I finished opening up all the goodies. I was exhausted from my long day.

4 September 2007

Now a Word From Our Sponsors

Well, not really. But I'm totally in love with my new hair clip. I bought it at Jean Coutu this weekend and have worn pretty much since. What makes this remarkable is that I CAN'T STAND having stuff in my hair. I don't use any hair products, barely use elastics and occasionally use one or two bobby pins.

I'm getting used to having long hair again, but one thing that has been driving me kinda nuts is in the shower. I like to lather up with shampoo and let it sit while I soap up the rest of my body. Thing is that my long hair won't stay up on its own anymore. The soapy lather used to be enough to keep it out of the way, now not. Thus the need for a hair clip. I pretty much purchase things out of necessity. I've done enough frivolous purchases of hair clips and such to make myself be honest and have a really good reason for such a clip.

Right. Well enough preamble to my inner crazy and onto the clip in action!

First, here's my usual elastic-round-a-bun process.

And the resulting bun is pretty decent. Generally something that's part of my sweats and t-shirt weekend wear.

The new clip doesn't change a lot in the process. I still wrap my hair around in a bun, then squash as much as possible into the clip.

And the resulting secure hairstyle. Nice huh?

1 September 2007

Cartoon socks, swatching for the cardi and bitten by a spindle

I've had quite the knitting week. A knitting afternoon downtown last sunday, and two knit nites (in NDG and the Plateau). I decided to go to all of them to check out who goes to which ones and scope out the vibes of each one. I have to say that the ones downtown and in the Plateau are more preferred. Mostly because they are closer to where I live and partly because the atmosphere is a little more relaxed and knitterly. While there is still good conversation, people are pretty much there to knit. And they bring interesting projects. On thursday, there was a sweater, a furry scarf concoction, a shrug, a throw or two, some socks (Jaywalkers I believe) and some spindling.

I was totally bitten by the spinning bug. Watching how easy, quick and effective it was to use a hand spindle, I'm totally into the idea of spinning my own yarn. It first came to mind on a weekend trip to Toronto where I fell in love with a little baggie of luscious something or other fibre for really cheap. I can see how it could be the knitter's drug. I've seen so many nice handspuns in the lands of the internets, but am not sure I want to sacrifice the floor space to a full on wheel. I'm glad to see that the spindle is just as effective in creating a nice yarn. It's the kind of space saving device I can commit to.

My project for the week was the toe up Ravenclaw socks I'm making for my roommate from London. She's finishing up her Master's in International Relations at King's College London and will be happy to have some cozy socks for the upcoming winter. Central heating can be rather spotty in London. Plus I wanted the excuse to try some toe up socks. There are so many people who rave all about them and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I like the results, but not convinced it's better than the usual top down methods. I do feel like I'm knitting in a cartoon when I'm working on them though. The fully formed socks springing from the needles as if by magic, instantly ready to be worn, even if I'm not quite at cartoon speed. It takes more than 15 seconds per sock.

I've given myself the challenge of working these socks continental as well. Why? Because it's a 4 x 2 rib for the entire sock and let's face it, ribbing SUCKS when you do the English style throwing. My ribbing tends to be somewhat loosey goosey as well. One sock is finished and by the end I was more efficient working the pattern Continental rather than English. It seemed like it was slower going, but the economy of movements gave me more resulting fabric for less hand flourishes.

Because one project is never enough and my mind has been thinking about it for a while, I've also started swatching for my lace rib cardigan using my hand-dyed Lana Gatto VIP. I've figured out the basis of the pattern and need to work out the details of gauge and stitch counts. I've been reverse engineering the stitch pattern from a Gap sweater I bought a couple of years ago and ran into some of my classic over thinking when writing it down for myself. There has been much ripping out and starting over with the changing and rechanging of needle size. Finally I've settled on 2.75mm and have started to work on the final swatch for calculations. This is the first sweater that I'm building basically from scratch. I'm quite excited about it.

Oh and on friday I found two lovely little treats from my Secret Pal in my mailbox. Some lovely little earrings and a voucher for some free movies at Blockbuster, each with a nice little note attached. Thanks K2P2!