Thursday, April 30, 2009

Celebrating yarn (and Stitch!)

When I first started knitting again last fall after my 10-or-so-year hiatus, I was mystified by the concept of 'stash.' I was a starving student as a beginner knitter, and the daughter of a Depression-era mum: the frugality stuck. The thought of buying yarn you weren't planning to use for any particular project and cast on for immediately was just weird to me.

Then I started looking at luxury and artisan-made yarns that my (evil temptress) friends Karen and Kathi were recommending and thought H'mmm. Maybe I could try a skein or two.

Well, now I have a cupboard full of yarn and I get it. It's not just about the yarn being soft or pretty. It's not just about the yarn being useful for a particular project, or being handy should inspiration strike for a particular sort of project. It's about the energy.

Seriously! When I buy yarn from somebody who's spun it or hand-dyed it, I'm getting a little piece of her (so far it's always been a her) personal style, something of her energy and the value she places on the materials she's worked with. I got chatting with a new friend in a workshop on the weekend about the energy we pour into particular projects, too, regardless of the yarn used. Like the Lucky Scarf I made that's filled with my gratitude, or the shawl Karen made that's filled with her love.

And the energy doesn't just come from the maker of the yarn, I find - it can come from the people who make it available to you through a local yarn store. Like Stitch, a store that inspires the most peaceful, creative sense of enchantment the moment I walk in. Buying something from Jocelyn, I feel I'm taking away a little bit of the mood she's created in the store, and of the flair she shows in the yarns and needles and other things she's chosen to sell there. I know all those good feelings will enrich what I make with what I've brought home. For example, this Malabrigo Silky:

Which is why it is KILLING ME that I will probably have to miss the 2nd anniversary bash at Stitch this Saturday! Particularly since I am still longing for the Americo alpaca she's draped over pegs in the front hall. What I will miss: treats, yarn sampling, shoulder massages from a real masseuse, sale items... honestly. If you knit or sew and you're anywhere near Grimsby, Ontario, you don't want to miss dropping in on May 2nd. I am living proof of just how much.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My life is a giant swatch

Well, it had to happen eventually: The Principles of Knitting was due back the library yesterday. I got home from the tearful parting and put myself right back on the hold list. If the new issue isn't released in the fall as planned, I expect I will cry or pay a fortune for a used copy of the original, or both. In fact I can guarantee both if I buy a used copy of the original, only the crying would come second.

But back to my mailbox - I had consolation for my loss in the form of yummy yarniness from A Piece Of Vermont:

The yarn I got (Bristol - a romney/alpaca blend) was a limited run and I'm glad I got in on the last of it. You could take a serious bite out of it, it's so substantial in spite of its 2-ply-ed-ness. A bit scratchy in raw form, but mainly: sturdy as all get-out! I decided immediately on mittens and, as soon as I hit a good stopping point in the current editing job, climbed up onto a chair to perform the Magic Swift and Ball Winding Exercise. Then I swatched:

and when I'd taken the 'before' measurements, I wet blocked:

Did I mention I've been using Soak for wet blocking since reading an adorable column about it in, I think, Knit Simple? That stuff is awesome. It comes in a bunch of scents now and though I've been happy with unscented, it's still nice to have options. But what I especially like about Soak versus the much more labour intensive steam blocking I used to do is that everything comes out just a little softer than it went in. And between that and the two-stranded knitting I opted for after trying out a run of single stocking stitch, and the nice flat lines of yarn that result along the so-called 'wrong' side, mmmm:

Not quite next-to-skin-able for other body parts - mine, at least - but definitely lovely for hands. No shrinkage, either. If anything I saw the teeniest bit of stretch, which I like in a mitten. Added bonus: the gauge turns out to be exactly right for the Spruce Mittens I adore in Robin Hansen's wonderful Favorite Mittens.

These will be my favourite mittens. And they will be portable. And I won't have to use any sock needles to make them, which means I can be knitting socks too. More to the point, I will be knitting things and not just swatches. It's about time!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Sockman cometh

Actually I don't know whether it will be the Sockman or the Sockwoman who will cometh with my Spring Sock Club Vesper sock yarn from Knitterly Things; three or four very nice mailpersons rotate stints in the neighbourhood. The main thing is, I've had notice the first round of yarn has been shipped.

I can't wait. I've been sock-resistant for a long time because they are, for me, an impractical project with a high addiction risk, but now that I've given in to spindling I just don't care. Heck, I've even bought four sets of sock-friendly double pointed needles, two of them identical in size and length, just to be ready. Well, the overlapping size was an accident, but will allow me to have both socks going at the same time without the added burden of Magic Looping or other circular needle gymnastics, so I'm deeming it a case of Clever Forethought.

And now if you will excuse me, I will go and get into position at the mailbox.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The weekend before last I bought myself a drop spindle:

And within a week I found myself in a spindling class with Lorraine Smith, where I ruined roving for two hours before noticing much time had passed. Even when incompetent, spindling is an enthralling exercise, full of meaning and imagery perfect for busy stressed people and for writers. I of course fall into the latter category, being Not At All Stressed. Who could be stressed with so much gorgeous new yarn around from two weekends full of irresponsible yarn shopping? If nothing else, you can pile it up into a lovely tableau to stare at when feeling panicked about deadlines and other mess.

But to return to spindling: there is one problem with learning to do it. You ruin such a lot of roving, in my case much of it just as strikingly lovely as pictured here. And that begs the question, which roving to ruin next? In a way you want to choose something nice, because you might be able to do a better job with it. But if chance and practice and stress are not balanced nicely, you will ruin something that could have been beautiful if only it had come to the spindle later in your life. But then there's the niggling notion that a really nice fiber might keep you spindling long enough out of sheer excitement that you make serious headway in your spindling finesse.

Clearly I don't know the answer... but I will venture a guess that I don't want to be spindling anything precious and expensive from Fleece Artist on my first week out.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It is such a good thing that I read The Knitter's Book of Yarn before yesterday. In the section on single-ply yarn, Clara Parkes discusses the potential for the stitches to go trailing off on an angle as though you were actually cabling in that direction - something that can look pretty neat, but is a disaster for fit, as I learned to my cost during my many years of sewing.

Apparently you might not even know until after you've washed your swatch that a yarn will bias! I've already resolved that all my test swatches will be both ample and wet blocked (more on that another day) but this adds weight to the argument.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I was working on a swatch for a class I'm hoping to take tomorrow. I got about 8 rows of stockinette before I realized the yarn was leaning farther than the Tower of Pisa.* I did pause to think, "What the..." and double check the yarn to ensure I am not crazy. Yes, the yarn is 3-ply*.

But then I moved on, not stopping to take a picture which would have been helpful today, and simply gave thanks to Clara Parkes. She shares the fix: throw in some purl stitches on the right side of the work. I also gave thanks to Jackie Pawlowski, who doesn't just share stitches in the Field Guide to Knitting, but consumption details. In no time I was able to settle on Dot Stitch as an option that wouldn't need more yardage than stockinette, since I'm short on yarn for this project.

And voila! 8 rows into the dots, I'm in fine shape. I just hope the yarn softens a great deal in the wet blocking because it's knitting up like string.

* I think the problem emerged when I was winding it from the skein; I've noticed it's twisting all over itself as I tug it from the ball. I so need a swift.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring cleaning

See what happens when you go looking for stuff and dig into highly unlikely boxes just to rule them out? You find other stuff even more unlikely to be in said unlikely box:

I have no idea why I put these needles into my technology storage zone, and I had completely forgotten I'd bought them in the first place. But once I saw them I remembered why I did - it was for the cards.

This is my favourite type of knitting needle, and the kind I learned on because my mother had a few sets and loaned one to me when I started my first sweater. They're not made any more anywhere, and when they were, in the 1950s or so, I assumed they were made in Canada or possibly the UK. They're sized to the now-archaic UK/Canadian system, in any case.

Oddly enough, my mother wouldn't give me any of hers, so I had to go hunting on eBay. And then I kept getting outbid. Finally I got fed up and put up some ridiculously high amount, which won me a huge lot of mixed sizes; the seller was so horrified at the price she wouldn't let me pay for shipping. Now I can match the needle colour to the yarn for any given project, which is very handy when you want a good contrast between stitch and stick.

However, I still didn't know what the needles were called - until I saw an eBay listing for these babies. I already had all the sizes I could ever want but I just had to have them, so I bid in a crazed fashion and got them. And after I'd absorbed the information I'd been missing:

Perfecto Balanced Knitting Needles!
Made in Canada!
Canadian and American sizes given on the card though not on the top of the needle!
French and English both printed right onto the card, implying that these were made only in Canada and not in the UK at all!
Priced at 39-49 cents a pair!

...I slipped them into a plastic bag and stuffed them into the technology zone.

Sure, it's tempting to say I am absent-minded and disorganized, but isn't it nicer to think that I wanted to give myself a nice surprise some day, a gift from the younger me to the older one?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fruit bowl

You know how some people keep a bowl of fruit on the table for decoration and a reminder to eat healthy? Well, I have this:

the bit in the bottom is the slow-but-growing yoke of the Adventure Sweater.

I experimented a little yesterday with a friend's ball winder, using Kathi Taylor's tip about using the legs of a chair to serve as the swift. I propped up the chair a bit and pointed the legs at the winder for a clearer path and that worked very well:

Middle-pull cakes of yarn are so pretty and so easy to wind... but I can't quite fully commit to them. I think I just really love the whole round thing. Nothing a two-colour repeating pattern project couldn't fix, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Historic hats and other knitted things

I joined HistoricKnit at Yahoo! Groups a while back and absolutely love it: I studied history in university but never got the perspective you do from the craft angle.

Yesterday, some kind member mentioned that Interweave Press has reprinted many volumes of Weldon's Practical Needlework from the turn of the last century, with a decade or two margin on either side. My knitting shelf is getting tighter but judging by the reviews on Amazon, I might need to make space for some of these.

While hunting through Amaz0n's listings to learn more, I found this reprint of an actual issue from 1919. Check out the 1920s hat! It's gorgeous but I'm trying to figure out how you'd be able to see, which is nothing new when I look at a cloche-style thing. I've come up with another theory about them, apart from focusing attention on a girl's lips. If it was super dusty all the time, maybe a low hat like this would protect your eyes?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Introducing the Adventure Sweater

I'm pretty excited about the Adventure Sweater because I'm going to make it without a pattern, in pieces, checking for fit as I go along as though it's a top-down experience... which in fact it will be, though I may also come at it from the bottom and sides.

Writing up the instructions as a pattern would be a LOT of work and I don't have the training to do proper sizing, so what I will do is pop up from my needles periodically to share the steps and schematics for anyone who is interested in customizing his or her own. And to set the stage for that, here's what inspired the idea:

I have a lot of self-striping yarns that would be just too much in a whole sweater.

I've been getting cold a lot at home but I'm not so much of a shawl person.

I love my Susan Harris dress

and sweater

These are both shots of the back, by the way! The fronts aren't much more subtle.

I've been discovering a lot of interesting ways to pick up stitches and I love playing with new techniques.

I like a tailored cardi but I haven't got the flat abs to pull them off these days.

I adore the modular designs in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting... and I'm experienced enough to be able to knit them... but I'm thinking the patterns read way too complicated for my energy level.

and finally,

I'm intrigued by the way colour and pattern can draw the eye toward a strong feature and away from a less desirable one.

So, how to pull all this together into one knitting project without being sure how far the yarn will really go? Knit a sweater in segments, basically. One piece will take care of my neck and shoulders, another the middle of my back. I'm thinking cardi rather than pullover, and I'm thinking the side seams for the cardi may fall to the front or back of my side (or both) rather than straight down the middle. And there will be stripey patches that are not intarsia because I'm just not an intarsia girl, along with stripey sleeves, maybe, if materials permit.

Regular readers will have seen the designated yarns before but I can't stop staring at them myself so here's another lingering look at the swatches:

I love them sooo much! and they won't match a thing in my wardrobe, so I guess I'll have to do some shopping when I'm done, assuming it all comes out all right. Such a pity.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Winding skeins

When people say you can sling a skein over the back of a chair in the absence of a swift, do you suppose they mean like this?

It went a lot faster when I realized I could stand on one of the chairs and wind from above.

And it came out all right, with no tangles. Yay!

Don't they look gorgeous together? This is the beginning of The Adventure Sweater. As in, it will be an adventure to find out whether I really have enough yarn to do what I want without a pattern. I'll keep you posted :^)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I bought some yarn and

I'm so excited!

I'm not going to get to knit with any of it for ages and ages but who cares? When I do finally get time to work on my clever vest, I'll have all the right yarn for it. Though it turns out that I was able to find such a fabulous variegated match for the semi-solid yarn I was hoarding for said vest that it can be a cardi, and the variegated yarn I thought might be a hat got matched up with a plummy solid and can now be the vest in its place.

Never mind all that, what you really want are pictures, right?

This is what I was working with - the Torte colourway from Twisted Fiber Art:

and this is what I got to match it, from The Black Lamb:

The colours don't show as perfectly here as in person but trust me, the brown patches at the bottom of the skeins is as close a match as you could dream of for the Torte. And it's soooo soft! along with everything else I found at The Black Lamb. Of which there was quite a lot, but more on that another day.

This is the Valkyrie colourway from Twisted Fiber Art I've been longing to pair with something solid:

and the Elitespun merino superwash that will stretch it out to vestlike proportions:

Again, not showing up so well but a perfect match. I was planning to go to another big yarn fest next weekend but now I don't have to, and I suspect it would be rather more sensible financially if I did not.

In other news, I bought two sizes of, um, sock-friendly dpns. And a drop spindle. Heaven help me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More on circular knitting with straight needles

I figured it out! after leafing through The Principles of Knitting again. Boy am I going to miss that doorstop when it goes back to the library.

If you want to knit in the round on straight needles, what you need are double-pointed needles. (which begs the question - why not just knit in the round on that set of dpns? and suggests the answer: because you've mislaid all but three of them.)

Cast on as many stitches as you need for the full round - for the purposes of this discussion, we'll say that's 20 stitches. Then - unless you want a sealed edge at the bottom, in which case get straight on to working one stitch and slipping the next with the yarn held in front - slip the first 10 stitches, as if to purl, onto a separate dpn. Now fold the work so that the two needles and all their stitches are parallel to each other.

Work the first stitch from the near needle onto a third dpn, and then, with the yarn held in front, slip the first stitch from the back needle onto a third dpn as if to purl it. Work the next stitch from the near needle and again, with yarn in front, slip the next stitch from the back needle onto the third dpn. Keep going until all the stitches are on the third dpn and then turn the work.

Now it's time to work what will prove to be the other half of your first row, by working the stitches that were slipped before and slipping the ones that were worked already. Just as on the first side, you're holding the yarn in front for every slipped stitch.

I know this sounds labour-intensive and also like you'd need a cable needle to do any decreasing later (since you couldn't just K2tog but would have to get the slipped stitch in between out of the way), but I liked it. My experiment was with ribbing and what I ended up with was K, bring yarn to front, slip, P, slip, put yarn in back to knit and then back to the front to slip, P, slip, etc. Very soothing and, once you can see the pocket that's forming, intriguing. Next time I'd go for all Purl slip Purl slip so I wouldn't have to waggle the yarn around, and then flip the work inside out when I was done. Or not, if I was knitting something I wanted to be smooth on the inside.

Tomorrow I'm going to a knitting fest with vendors and if any of them are selling small-size dps, look out! I need everything below 2.75mm. And then maybe I'll try a mitten in the round on straight needles.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mittens and the making of three dimensions from two

Well, I never did organize a project to bring along to the knitfest last night; I carted along some very nice felt-able yarn I haven't quite decided what to do with so I could practice knitting in the round on straight needles. SO much easier than it seems, especially if you don't mind a sealed edge at the bottom should you mess up the way I did (hey, even mistakes can lead to useful things like purses or pockets!)

Yep - easy, interesting, and even soothing. I need to fuss with the technique some more but I like it.

Another comfort for the sort-of failed knitting experiment was the speaker at the fest: Robin Melanson, whose beautiful patterns have been just about everywhere you want to be and whose book Knitting New Mittens & Gloves gets rave reviews that do not surprise me one bit. She had brought along some samples from the book and I think I managed to look closely at one and a half of them before I had to beeline it for the shop table that had copies to sell. They're that wonderful.

Think about it: summer may be coming but as Elizabeth Zimmerman points out in the Knitter's Almanac, mittens are a perfect summer project, being small and portable and not at all warm in your lap. Sort of like socks, really.... h'mmmm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A deficiency of portable knitting

This is weird, because I'm doing so many knitting-related things, but - I don't have any knitting to take out with me. I've got swatches-in-progress, but they're too quick to justify carting around. And the patterns I'm planning to knit with said swatches aren't worked out enough yet to be knit without close attention to the needles.

It's disappointing since I'm going out tonight to a knitting fest and lecture and I won't enjoy it as much if I'm just sitting there. Perhaps this is the day to cast on my first pair of fingerless mittens? The purse-for-felting I was thinking of? um, a hat? What to do, what to do...

I'll tell you one thing I've got to do: never again let one block of travel knitting off the needles without casting on another somewhere else.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm in stitches

In my previous batch of Crafty Years I learned my knitting tricks from patterns and put all my book dollars into sewing instruction. This time around, I'm cursing myself for not buying knitting books then. So many great titles! All of them out of print now and rare and insanely expensive in used form! To make matters worse, this time around I'm less content to follow patterns. I shouldn't be surprised: all the sewing I did was because nobody else was coming up with the exact thing I wanted for myself or my windows or my furniture, so why should it be any different with knitting?

All of which is to say I'm looking for books to fill my knitting reference shelf. And when I say 'shelf' I'm referring to a space about 10 inches wide. Small house, you see. And with only 10" for immediately accessible books and another 14" or so scattered in three or four slots elsewhere, the 10" gap books have to be amazing. Quite a few of them will have to be stitch dictionaries, too.

I settled on the first two volumes of Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns because they get the best reviews of the rave-reviewed series. I also picked up an early printing of the Harmony Guide to Aran Knitting, because Amazon reviewers say the originals are so much better. I am pleased so far but missing a particularly attractive cable from the original Harmony Guide To Knitting, which I have to return to the library in a week, and have had no luck picking up second hand.

I'm planning to buy Beautiful Knitting Patterns at some point even though it's totally throwing me off that none of the stitches is given a name in the copy I also borrowed from the library. What does it say about me that I want all my new stitch friends to have names? Perhaps I should name them myself to help me get over it. Even if I don't, though, the patterns in the book are indeed exceptionally beautiful and well worth their shelf space.

At least I don't have to make shelf space for The Field Guide To Knitting, because on the rare occasions it's out of my hands, it's in the project bucket. Great stitches, great photographs, and the details on each entry include whether it uses up more or less yarn than stocking stitch, whether it's good for variegated yarn, and whether you can watch TV while knitting it, among other vitals. Love, love, love that book! And also the fact I had the good sense to buy it while it was fresh from the publisher. Who knew I would be so roundly punished for not buying enough books?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Knot so nice

Remember a while back I described a comfy way to wind a ball of yarn from a skein without using a swift or ball winder or the back of a chair or the arms of an accommodating friend?

Well, I don't recommend this technique while reading an unexpectedly thrilling book. After five pages my Playful yarn looked played with, all right... by a herd of cats. Took me five hours of detangling to get it into a nicely wound ball, all of them spent breathing gratitude for superwash wool. It's washable because the barbs are gone, and the lack of barbs makes it soooo much easier to detangle than, for example, alpaca. I still shudder to think of the night I figured that out.

Swifts and ball winders sure are starting to look pretty sweet, space issues or no.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

... with Easter-tinted mitts, knit for me by my Nana when my paws were as small as Henry's.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What's (going) on the needles

Yesterday I visited a turn-of-the-last-century farm and even though it's April, you could have sworn it was late fall. It didn't help that most of a block near the farm had been set out with white cloth and batting to represent snow as a backdrop for some film or other, but the temperature was downright chilly and the trees are still bud-free. Okay, so you try walking around gravel under those conditions, wishing you'd brought your scarf... checking out the sheep...

I missed practically everything thinking about knitting a nice big sweater.

I'm not going to do it though. The next sweater I knit will be a top-down raglan in all one colour and I don't have enough yarn in any colour to do that, so instead I'm going to take a break from hats and get to work on the dream vest, for which I also don't have enough yarn in one colour. What I do have is two skeins of Twisted Fiber Art's 'Playful' yarn in 'Torte' - chocolate and raspberry colours in a very subtle transition - which is perfect for the lower half of a swingy vest. Yeah, I don't have a complementary yarn to use in stripes, either, so this is the quick fix, using a provisional cast on to work down from, so I can pick up stitches later and work up for armholes and shoulders.

But first: the taxes! and before that, one last lingering look at the cuteness of the Torte snuggled up with a scrap of Firefly:

Friday, April 10, 2009

(Long) weekend reading

When I'm not sneaking off to knit, I'm a writer, and as a writer I love a good book... but the past few years, my favourites have been nonfiction. And what better nonfiction than a really good blog that takes you straight into the best of somebody else's world?

I've been lucky to find more than a few and I've posted them on the right, under You Might Also Enjoy, but I have to make special mention today of What Housework? not least because that might as well be my own catchphrase.

Here is what makes Jessie's blog so wonderful:

She writes about her cat, with pictures, which makes me miss my old friend Buttons O'Reilly less sadly.

She writes about living in the country, which is something I sometimes imagine I would like to do someday. I get all the fun of country living paired with the calm acceptance of the city's being a better fit for me, and knowing I can play with the idea without having to entertain the remotest thought of packing is just so pleasant.

She writes beautifully and knits even better and spins and dyes yarn and shares photographs of her lovely work and even makes yarn and roving available for sale.

Shopping, escapist reading, and an athletic cat: does it get any better than that?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fiscal responsibility what?

Well, those brief hours of believing that sock yarn is all I can buy in the colourways I covet are gone now, and I have to face some terrible facts:

I have joined a sock club for the sheer thrill of having surprise yarn show up in the mailbox once a month for three months and not because I am a confirmed sock-knitter. Not even remotely confirmed. Never knit a sock in my life in fact and am more inclined toward mittens.

I want to buy quite a few skeins of hand-dyed yarn for which I have no pattern or clear plan, though I am thinking Vest! or Cardi! or maybe this colour as well or instead... or this...

I already have quite a growing stash of yarns I love and am not sure what to do with yet, and I can't experiment with any of it because I'm tied up with other work, so how can I possibly make use of these other new yarns?

Welcome to the world of knitting is what it all boils down to, isn't it. That and I'd better be a lot more sensible than this when I go to the yarny festy thing I've got down on the calendar for next weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Socks to that!

Kathi and Karen are ganging up on me about knitting my first pair of socks, tempting me with delicious self-striping yarns and intriguing patterns, but they have help.

Dagnabbit, why don't more of those producers of the world's most luscious yarns deliver them in worsted weight? I picked up the fall/winter 2008 issue of Knit.1 on the weekend (no idea why it didn't sell out before now, totally not complaining) and there on page 16 is a whole stack of center-pull cakes of yarn in gorgeous colours... all sock weight. And no option to buy worsted; I checked.

While checking I slipped up and nearly bought into the Knitterly Things sock club... and couldn't, because there weren't any places for new members when I visited. I am taking this as a sign that this is not my time for socks.

Y'hear? Not my time!! And now I will go back to the sort of work from which the tiny stitches and tiny needles of a sock would be a tremendous release. Well, I did say Kathi and Karen have help, didn't I?

UPDATE: (and oh noes!)

Knitterly Things had a slot open for the sock club today, and I snagged it. Well, it's sock yarn, right? I don't have to knit socks with it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A lingering look at winter (knits)

It wouldn't have made a difference to my hat disaster if I'd read the 101 tips advertised on the cover of the spring/summer 2009 issue of Knit Simple before suppertime yesterday, since I'd already nearly finished the (Im)Perfect Winter Hat by the time I bought my copy. Still, it was kind of an I Told You So to read the tip about always wet-blocking gauge swatches because the gauge can change so dramatically. It hasn't with my other projects, but I haven't wet-blocked superwash wool before. Surprise!

Well, I'll know better for next time and settle for being grateful not to have had such a mishap before, when it really mattered. Frankly, I love working with Dream in Color's Cloud Jungle colorway so much (scroll down, it's a 300 series entry) I don't care how many times I have to knit the hat. Which is saying something because I am not a process knitter who lives to work stitches: normally I want results yesterday.

We're having snow again where I live and I'm kind of past being struck by it all. However, I did see this incredibly adorable pattern for a hot water bottle cover yesterday and thought h'mmmmm. I used to love tucking in with a good book and a hot water bottle, gambling that this would not be the night the rubber broke down and flooded the bed. I had such a cute Wind In The Willows-patterned cover, too. It wore through before the bottle did and after that it just wasn't the same, but I bet this cutie would be a good replacement, don't you?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wet blocking

Wet blocking is an excellent way to soften yarn after you've knit it, even if you don't want to do any reshaping.

It is also an excellent way to stretch a garment. By rather a lot.

And now if you will excuse me, I have to go rip out The Perfect Winter Hat for the third time. Even though it is raining snow today, which is most definitely not of the Perfect Winter variety, and after this I won't need a winter hat of any quality for many months. Because I am persistent and will prevail! (and also the hat only takes a day to knit, especially now that I could recite the pattern in my sleep and will be making it with waaaaay fewer stitches.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's the weekend: let's go hat shopping!

Okay, so I did cast on for a hat yesterday, but I ripped it out again today because it just wasn't going 100% the way I wanted.

Tip: if you have to rip out a few times and the yarn is looking squiggly, unwind the ball completely and roll it up again (loosely) from the other end. By the time you get to the part that got cast on repeatedly and overknit, it should have straightened out again, unless you knit like the Yarn Harlot.

Which I don't, being part snail evidently.

And here it is Saturday, and I haven't done a Fab Hats installment in a while, and even if you want a knit hat rather than one made in some other way you gotta get your inspiration somewhere. And you don't need shoes with arch support for online shopping. So, c'mon!

Hey, check out Vintage Hattery - I like the wool/felted hats and the box hats especially.

Or we could go older at Criminy!

Or newer, at the Village Hat Shop. I like the category page, which includes a section to meet all your Viking Helmet needs.

But my favourite is Posh Girl Vintage. Mmm, accessories.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Trying something new

I read somewhere early on in my hat adventures - probably in Knitter's Almanac? - that Elizabeth Zimmerman said she designs by doing and if she tries to write a pattern down beforehand it doesn't work.

Last night I realized something very exciting:

I am not Elizabeth Zimmerman.

So I grabbed my pattern notebook and a pen and a finished hat for measuring purposes and wrote down most of a pattern that I want to make out of my beautiful sea-coloured Araucania yarn. And I'm going to type it up later today so the drudge work is finished before the fun part begins, not unlike working through dinner instead of eating dessert first, something I've been known to do when nobody's looking, and which I have been known to regret (but keep doing anyway.)

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Empty needles, empty project pot

I've been so busy finishing off and tidying up, I haven't put anything new onto my needles, and there's hardly anything left that's old. In fact I think the only thing with live stitches is the gauge swatch I made for the Mirasol Nuna, which would be an excellent choice to go on with since there's bamboo in the blend and the winter weather seems to be breaking, finally, where I live.

But after I made the sample for the Lucky Scarf in Araucania Toconao, emphasis on the ohhhhhh, I'm not so sure that pink and cream are the colours I want to be looking at right now.

And in the meantime, my big ol' disaster cardi is slugging it in my closet, taking up space and not keeping me warm because I have not yet picked up the cast-off neckline stitches to make the yoke longer and tighter and more likely to stay on my shoulders. Or wet-blocked it so it stops making me look like I ate all the chocolate in town, rather than just the vast quantities that drifted into my house over the winter like snow.

I have to decide on something soon though, because I'm always a car passenger for some length of time on weekends and, ack. No knitting in the passenger seat? That is just weird.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We have a winner!

Seriously sideways day, folks - in spite of a lovely morning yarn-grab at the Flying Dragon (aka the bookstore where I buy yarn instead of books which is just a very weird thing for a writer to do.) But more on that tomorrow.

Tonight's belated news: congratulations Elaine! I will be sending you three signed books as soon as the one outstanding title arrives in my mailbox.

Now sweet dreams everybody and come back tomorrow for more exciting yarniness.