Monday, October 31, 2011

Sensibly overstretched

Lately I've been really focused on whittling down my projects to the smallest number possible, with a view to being less stressed over what I'm not knitting.  But then I thought about what I did on Saturday.

Early in the day - errands and such - I got further toward finishing some socks.

In the afternoon I went to a concert and brought along my second SuperSecret ScarfyThing, because I've memorized the stitch and don't have to rustle any pattern instructions, and the needles I'm using for it are veryvery quiet.

Sorry I can't show you any inside-the-bag pictures, heh.

During the evening I visited with a friend and needed something even more mindless than the nearly-finished socks, so I started a new pair of superwarm ones with some Duchess (DK, squishy) from Twisted Fiber Art.

I bought the leg colourway, featured in the spring 2011 club, because it looked like it would pair up nicely with some semisolid I'd bought before, but I see now it's off enough, almost, to clash.  Almost but not quite.  I think I'm just going to go on, and live with whatever comes out of this experiment.

Now, if I was just knitting one project, the socks would have been finished halfway through the concert and I would have had to scramble for time and ideas to cast on something new for the evening.  Or, if I'd been working only on the ScarfyThing, it would have kept me from looking attentively at my friend during our conversation.  And if I didn't get a start on the socks, brrrr.  Cold toes for weeks to come.

So I'm going to stop beating myself up for what I don't work on, and be grateful that I never have to Not Knit.  Because that would be so much worse than feeling badly over one particular Not Knit thing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Warm toes: the plan

The other day Trish was over having a look at the SuperSecret ColourWorky project in process (yes, expect cruel teasers in the coming days) and I thoughtlessly glanced up to a basket on a cabinet and said "Check out my queue basket."

We both looked at it a minute and I said Actually, that's not the whole queue.  I have all that bulky handspun from the summer I'm supposed to knit into cowls for Christmas presents.  That's just the socks.

Trish said Mary, you will never get all those socks done by Christmas.

I said Trish, I will never get all those socks done in a year.

We won't discuss my subsequent panic over not being able to find the handspun (it turned out to be in a similar basket on top of another cabinet, which I mention here only to remind myself where it is when I get time to start all those cowls).  Anyway, it only served to distract me from drawing the conclusion that I need to stop buying sock yarn.  (golly, do I really need to stop buying sock yarn???)

Within a couple of days the weather turned cold here - seriously cold - which means my Vesper stripeys are no longer warm enough inside my unlined Blundstone boots.  It's time to go to the seriously warm socks, of which I have just four pairs.  Yes.  Four.  That's a lot of handwashing and even then, one is too long in the foot, another is too short in the leg, a third is a little snug all over and still manages to slip down inside the boots... you get the picture.

Here is the revised queue basket, with the Vesper stripeys taken out.  All six of these projects will be warm enough to get me through to snowstorm season when I have to give up and wear my thermal lined boots (at which point I have also to give up wool socks and go with cotton athletic ones, sigh.)

But only three are bulky enough to be superfast to knit, and I think it's fair to say that speed is of the essence.

Referring to my past projects on Ravelry - what few I thought to note needle size for, GAH - it appears that I can use 2.75mm needles for all of these (fast!) and cast on just 56sts (superfast!).  So that's the plan.  Speed knitting of warm socks.  Once the SuperSecret ColourWorkys are done.  Which, if I type fast enough here, will be after lunch today.

Meanwhile, have a good weekend, with my best wishes for warm toes!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pink fiber for a rainy day

We've had several days of rain where I live, not to mention several days of No Pictures here at Hugs, so I decided this is a good time to show some yarn in the making.

Remember the Briar Rose fiber I bought at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Fair?

Well, a couple of weekends ago when I wasn't superbusy doing supersecret projects, I snuck out of the house with my spinning wheel.

I did this,

and then this,

and then some of this,

and got this. 

And ever since I've wanted to get more of it so I could ply some yarn, but you know. Supersecret knitting.

Only for another day though I think, so next week we'll be back to lots of pictures again.  heh heh heh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dream knitting

I woke up this morning thinking Wow, what a great thing to write about today!  Apparently a little essay had occurred to me, intact, while I slept. 

Now that I'm ready to sit down though it occurs to me that this belief may have been based on a dream I had about being able to buy reasonably soft undyed fingering wool in the grocery store in - if I remember correctly - the jarred olive section.  Because wool was in some way found to be good for olives when packed together.

Also in the night: I spent a very long time trying to make a phone call in a bookstore (I was hampered by not knowing what number I had to dial) and discovered a book about a little girl who knits a magical thing, the magic going awry when her stitches go wrong. 

Do you think I've been knitting too much?  Or maybe just knitting too close to bedtime?  It's true I really wanted to get the colourworky thing done fast so I would have a shot at getting the Bellatrix socks finished and fell into bed shortly after I finished.

Oh! Bellatrix! That's what I wanted to say today. 

I bought a witch's hat last night.  Not the purple spiderwebby one that would have been a perfect match for the socks, or the purple satin one covered in Victorian-like silk flowers and lumps of spidered mesh that Bellatrix herself might actually have favoured, but a red version of the spiderwebby thing.  Partly because it actually came with a cape and had a price on it (the lineup was long in the store, and the purple hat was obviously missing its cape), but partly because it locks me in to wearing my backup Halloween socks, which have an orange-green-brown stripe like pumpkins.  I need an out, right?

But when I got it home I found the hat is more of the Dunce variety than Witch.  So maybe I will just put on another big push for Bellatrix socks and forget the hat altogether. 

Or get more sleep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm on a roll

Remember I mentioned making a mistake with the lacy sock and fixing it only to realize I'd been looking at the wrong part of the chart?  Twice?

Well, I didn't mention the twenty minutes I spent on Friday fixing a mistake from three rows back in a different, totally mindless sock (I do think ripping out would have been faster).

This makes me nervous because I sometimes find I get on a roll with knitting - all bliss, or all mistakes - and I really, really don't want to be on the latter type of roll right now.

Signs of doom: yesterday I was virtuous and stayed away from the lace socks to get going on a colourworky project I need to have finished soon, and got almost two hours in before I realized I'd used Colour B for Colour A.  Which matters because you need twice as much of B as you do for A, leaving me with not enough A for B, if you know what I mean. 

I wonder whether I should risk knitting today at all?

(that was rhetorical: you know I'm going to.  just wish me luck, okay?)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Balance through despair - knit edition

The only way I can see having a chance at wearing evilly pretty purple socks on Halloween is if I'd got my Bellatrix socks to their heel flaps by the end of Saturday night.  And look!

A sock leg all the way through its chart!

Two sock legs all the way through their charts!

I was up till midnight pulling that off.  And then - still before midnight - I read the pattern instructions.

Repeat the chart once, then repeat rounds 1-24 of chart. 

Or in lay terms, find another 8 hours to get the socks to heel.

Well, wanh.  I was so annoyed with myself on Sunday for unrealistic deadline-setting I didn't knit at all, all day, except for a few minutes while I waited for friends to turn up for a tea party (Waitrose organic Assam, by the way, a present from Carolyn and insanely delicious) and even then it wasn't on the socks.  Instead: I cleaned the house.  I mean, I was having a tea party.

Interestingly (to me) I cheered up a lot while cleaning, even though there is nothing I hate more than cleaning.  I'm not even a huge fan of tidying.  But I love being in a clean and tidy space and get stressed in a messy dirty one, and I'd been letting things go while sitting endlessly on the sofa trying to rush these socks.

About an hour before it was time to pack it in for the day I sat down to watch a string of Buster Keaton movies - oh how I love that man, what a genius - and picked up one of the socks again to start the next 24 rows of chart.  Yes, I know.  Knitting complicated charted lace while 'watching' a silent film?  I didn't get much done.  But I felt quite peaceful about it (except when I was thinking I'd made a mistake two rounds back and adjusting it elaborately from above only to realize I'd been looking at the wrong part of the chart, which happened twice.)

I guess the key is just to enjoy knitting and not expect too much from it.  I feel so much more adult and responsible now that I've had that reminder...

... and also, grateful that I have a clean house now and can spend most of the day knitting a Bellatrix sock.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sticking to it

Guys, I am all over the Halloween socks.  Apart from some time out to get a different sock's heel far enough along to be travel knitting, I have done nothing but lace charts for - what, is it two days now?

Even though there has been laundry (five loads yesterday, including the Christmas tablecloth which I guess must have been sitting in the basket for a while).

Even though there is a really very dangerous amount of Halloween candy in the house (of which I think I may actually be sick now, wouldn't that be great? and if not I can put it in the garage for the 10 days it still has to wait before I can unload it on random children).

Even though I received not one or two but THREE packages of yarn in the mail on Thursday - seriously, how ironic is that? - the contents of which I can show you but this:

Isn't it a doozy?  It's variegated yarn from Knitterly Things and if I had more needles available and my Slughorn sock kit wasn't murmuring my name, I might weaken more than I did when I unwrapped it.  As it is, it's sitting out on the table so I can wind it into cakes and Be Ready because the socks I make with it are gonna go with everything.

Thanks to my persistence and in spite of Life, which seems to include an annoying degree of errands and phone calls lately, the back half of my first Bellatrix Lestrange sock looks like this:

(plus a few more rounds since I lost daylight.) 

On reflection this doesn't seem like much sock, but the lace is quite absorbing and TCM ran some pretty absorbing movies yesterday so, you know.  At least I haven't had to frog back yet!  I miss one critical round, but I noticed it a round and a half later so I don't count that.  Honest mistake really.

Hope you guys have a great weekend, with or without an exciting purple project in it - see you Monday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shawl story

Finishing my FoxyMaple shawl project was easy compared to writing about it here.

Do you remember how it started - the idea I had to combine my braids of Foxy and Maple fiber from Twisted Fiber Art clubs into one big project so I'd have enough for a shawl?  I was so excited to take on an experiment that right away I could see would work very well and be fun to do.  Several colours were the same, or very similar, in both colourways but each had a few more shades and as I spun my way into July's Tour de Fleece I got to experience them all up close.

I learned so much more about spinning when I made this yarn, too.  It came out bulky like all my newbie yarn does, but pretty consistent in size, which is still a novelty.  The summer had just started and I was enjoying having a cup of tea and then taking my wheel out to a corner of the porch for an hour's spinning and birdsong every morning.

Of course nothing is perfect: while I was enjoying those hours, somebody I love was dying.  I had already designed my Escapist shawl while worrying about that, and because Lannie was worrying too I knew I was going to spin the FoxyMaple and knit it into one of those shawls for her.  I thought about that a lot as I spun, when I wasn't thinking about the chances of getting good news, or at least not the worst news.

And then we did get the worst news.  It came while the Tour was still running, and I shifted the FoxyMaple to a spindle so it could come in the car with me when I left town for the funeral.  It just seemed so important to keep going.  I spun some while sitting with Lannie one evening;  I handed the spindle to her so she could hold it for a while. I didn't have to tell her I was making it for her.  Who else would appreciate everything that was going in to that fiber?

I started the shawl in August, but by the end of the month things were just busy.  You know how it is. I had to set it aside for a while.  I'd work on it sometimes, a row here or there.

The yarn was heavy and light, both at the same time, and the fabric I was getting was so dense.  I was sure the shawl would be too small to be of any use.  When I finally had time to finish it and cast off, I was amazed by how tiny it was, just a little bundle not much bigger than the two braids it came from.

I put off blocking it.  Blocking out something big like this is hard anyway, I find - it takes a lot of time and even more space.  When I finally did get it into its bath and stretched it out it was huge.

See what I had to do?

Yep.  I had to pin the corners to the underside of the mat.

It was all-encompassing, and so full of holes.

I'm sure I don't need to spell out how that brought right back to me all the little losses tied up in that one very big loss.

This shawl and I have been on quite a journey. I hope I never take another one like that, but I'm glad to have something so useful to show for it and I think really, though it's full of sadness, it's also full of beauty and love.  It has an artist's eye for colour from Meg at Twisted, and it's got resourcefulness from me, trying to do something productive to get through a bad time.  It's full of tenacity, and companionship, and warmth.  A lot of warmth.

It felt important to take this one last picture of the shawl on the portable step that Les built, in the corner where I spun the yarn.

I'm ready to let it go now.  I hope Lannie will find comfort in it, but I know one thing for sure:

she is gonna look awesome wrapped up in these colours.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A (crazy) little project

The funny thing about future events is they keep getting closer.  Which means that I should be focusing on baking (and freezing) cookies for December delivery to all my neighbours which has apparently become a tradition, and making a whole lotta little Christmas gifts.

Instead I cast on some Bellatrix Lestrange socks:

First Impressions

omigosh the lace.  It is so intricate and balanced. Rachel Coopey is a genius! It would have taken me ages and ages to work out so much snaky complication, but now that she's mapped it out it's quite logical to follow and once I got the cuff set up I could follow it without the chart.  That will change when I get going with the leg, but for now: yay!

Also - there is purple, and there is Evil Purple. Louise has dyed this a lovely shade of purple with hits of white ash and poison blue.  I just can't think of a better combination of theme, pattern, and yarn.  This is one irresistible project.

Reality Check

There is no way I can have these done in time to wear for Halloween.  I know that.  It would be nice if I could finish them before I open the next Biscotte Club packet on November 1, but obviously.  Me, of the two-month socks, making a pair of socks in two weeks filled with Life plus a front yard that needs decorating with leaf bag monsters and a big headless man?  Socks that are knit from an elaborate chart with the occasional cable needle activity and can therefore only be done (by me) from a comfy sofa?  Please.  Not possible.

(I'm knitting them anyway.  Let's see how far I get!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It has come to this

Last week I kinda shocked Trish when I mentioned I'd just bought two winter scarves.  "Your stash isn't big enough??" she asked.

But here's my theory: If you're wearing a handknit hat and handknit (or handsewn from felted wool) handwarmers over your gloves and handknit socks, and maybe even a handknit cardi (what a hope!) under your coat, you might look a little too much like a good thing.  If you have the odd woven scarf to throw into the mix, the knits stand out more.  Personally I'm just proud not to have shelled out for a loom.  Because you know that's gonna happen.

Naturally my priority was the sort of intensely boring accessory I would never weave even if I had a loom.  To whit, from Club Monaco, a finely woven very long black merino thing with fringe (which keeps catching on everything from my purse zipper to the inside of the dishwasher door: You Have Been Warned).  It is warm and unbelievably soft - I have no softer stash fiber, and fyi there's qiviut in that cupboard - and unfolds to massive proportions even by shawl standards.  Textural lift aside it looks dull as ditchwater on but serves its two purposes well.

Two Purposes

a/ keep me warm without drawing attention away from whatever way spiffier thing I am wearing

b/ keep those super itchy wool cardi collars away from my neck already

At a very long concert the other night it also proved entertaining to a small child who improvised a stuffed-toy relationship with it.  I did say 'soft', right?

Having established that this whoa expensive item was justified - though actually it cost just a few dollars more than the two skeins of yarn I'd have needed to make one myself, making it bargainlike - let's move on to Scarf Number Two.

This one cost $17.  It's only mostly wool - the rest is I think nylon.  It was woven on some fancy loom in Italy and a friend who saw it after the sleek black one said Oh.  It looks like a throw blanket.

Fair enough, but I had to have it, because I was pretty sure I had something to go with it.

See what I mean?  Woven and knitted stuff is just meant to go together.  Though this picture reminds me that lipstick also has its place.

(Hat note: I didn't show you this one before because it is a Fail.  I must have worked it out three different ways and it's still more mushroom cap than slouch or beret, plus the stitchcount shift between small brim and full band is bumpy.  However, it's made with alpaca, and hand-dyed art yarn, and also some handspun plant-dyed yarn from Sally, so I wear it anyway.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fresh foot forward

On the weekend I did some Clearing Up, not just of the house generally but also of my knitting-in-progress.  Yep, it was that out of control.  Never mind that I have two big sweater projects sitting in (admittedly decorative) bags by the sofa just waiting for me to pick them up again - let's not even talk about the one that's hibernating in the cupboard - I have a bunch of other things in play too, and a bunch of new things becoming urgent as Christmas gets closer.

Some of this job just involved putting needles back where they go, and yarn ends into a bag for some future inspiration.  But I also ripped out the Escapist shawl I had started in the cashmere blend yarn I cabled over the summer.  I wasn't very far along (see shawl link above and scrooooooll down) which made it easier, and besides: I have three triangle shawls on the Warm (for) Winter shelf already.  A rectangle or crescent might be nice, right?

Other things potential on the ripping-out list include the fingerless gloves I was making from the gorgeous silk hankies I bought from Helena.  I love the premise of this project - heck, I love the project, having knit a pair of handwarmers from the pattern already and boy I hope I find those soon because they were supposed to be a Christmas present - but I know for a fact I have been letting the fiber get too narrow for the gauge I need and I'm thinking


what about just spinning the hankies???

That at least is something I know how to do.  and then I can make handwarmers with the spun stuff if I want.  probably at the right gauge even.

Giving up the handwarmers (for now) would free up set of needles I vitally need for another project, too.  It's a bitter pill, which is why the cuffs are still on the needles, but I am nose to nose with reality and thinking I might just acknowledge it.  Not today, but soon.

Getting to a tidy project pile isn't all about ripping things off their needles.  Look!  I also made myself finish something:

Recognize the green socks I was agonizing about the cuff length of?

They are short, to be sure, and the gusset area is a bit more of a squeeze than I like, but I'm glad I didn't rip them back and reknit because they'll do.  In fact I ended up wearing them the rest of the day I took these pictures even though I hadn't blocked them yet and they were still a bit itchy, because they do so well.

Plus, the cuff does show over the top of my boots.  Not a lot, but enough.

Incidentally - you may recall that I knit these socks on some newfangled square needles.

Q: Now that I'm free of these socks and therefore free of the needles, would I knit more socks on them?

A: Probably not.  They are fabulously comfortable to use which is very much in their favour, but in spite of getting gauge when I first tested, over time the needles really did produce smaller stitches (not enough to fix the problem by going up a size either).  Also: just too sharp for portability.  Though ironically I just started a pair of socks for which these needles would have been perfect since they call for a ton of stitches and I can only knit them with a chart in front of me... but that's a story for another day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I finished something else!

huzZAH - and just in time for the rain to stop and temperatures to drop.  Not that I'm rushing anybody or anything.  I don't mind getting a little too warm wearing this hat.

I love it so much!

The stripes even lined up between bands, almost.

I had to stripe between the solid I used for the crown and the club yarn in order to stretch out said club yarn, and I came close to starting and stopping at the right places (proof that I didn't make it: there is a small amount of club yarn left, which I'm considering using for some duplicate stitch on the crown - if I do it, I'll show pictures.)  The big thing was to make sure I got the forehead part in 100% Biscotte Club yarn because Gobelin is the softest, squishiest yum ever.  There are some things you just have to take advantage of, you know? 

But never mind my tinkering. Check out this fantastic construction:

I'm not sure I even need to block it.  I might do it... if the weather holds... or I might just wear it a lot.  Either way I'm looking at a good weekend because I Finished Something Else!

(hope you get a good weekend too. try to have chocolate if you can so I'm not alone on that.)

The gory details:

Pattern: Flight of the Phoenix Hat by Louise Robert, October 2011 Biscotte et Cie yarn club
Yarn: yummy Gobelin (100% superwash merino), Biscotte et Cie, in exclusive Flight of the Phoenix colourway
Backup Yarn: Cascade Superwash in an almost-matchy orangey yellow
Fuel: insane amounts of Hallowe'en candy which really needs to get out of my house and never come back.
Availability: exclusive to the Club right now, but probably in wide release in 2012 - ask at Biscotte if you're as much in love with this pattern as I am.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Viola used to mean to me What Binnie Plays, but I'm afraid that while I esteem Binnie as much as ever (have you read her book Harbour View?  it is fabulous - so moving and often funny too) Viola now calls to mind images of yarn/colour perfection in settings I only wish I could reproduce at home.  Every time I see Emily's booth at a knitting fest I think, How Cute! and then the next time she's doing a different display and I think, She Can't Top That! and then she does, the next time.

(this time it was twisted branch letters spelling V - I - O - L - A perched on top of her display shelves.  which were also cute.)

Okay, so let's talk yarn.  Buying some Viola has become a priority at all of these shows so why should the recent Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters Fair be an exception?  I would digress and tell you the moving story about how Emily is woven in to all the luck and blessings of my creative life but that would just keep you from the aforementioned yarn - we'll leave it at 'she helped me buy yarn for a scarf in an LYS once, and the gift of the scarf brought me to my writing mentor'.  You can see how I would want to have lots of Viola in the house all the time, for more than just its exquisiteness.

La la la, it is so hard to choose colours, so why go with Pebble?  Because it's neutral and also gorgeous, even if you don't get all the subtleties from a camera.  I bought these two skeins of 100% superwash merino in a fingering weight to make another scarf design I have been brewing for about a year, and now that I'm finishing up a bunch of small projects it's possible I can actually get going on it before January.

After I left the Fair for the day I realized GAH there was another scarf design I had neglected to buy yarn for.  Back I went, for these:

I had intended get one colour but I couldn't decide between Thistle and Chimney Smoke, and maybe a patchworky effect would be cool for that idea.  I hope so.  The other possibility for this merino/cashmere/nylon yarn is related to its being Sport Weight.  Hello, 16 more Flight of the Phoenix hats?  Because I am telling you, that pattern is addictive.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I've been cheating

I've been cheating - if I add up my Ravelry projects with the supersecret stuff I haven't listed there - on nine different things this week.  Well, last week too.  After all my gift knitting over the past few months I've been indulging not just in some spinning but also some hat-making, for me me me.

Honestly, I've got to be realistic: right now the weather is still warm, but we are going to be hit with cold temperatures without much notice and there is no point waiting for them to suddenly decide that I need a nice hat to go with my new handwarmers.

This has nothing (much) to do with the fact that I'm completely smitten with the concept of spiral knitting.

My goal is to keep striping the two yarns I'm using so as to stretch out the one I used for the handwarmers, switching back to the handwarmer yarn just in time for my forehead and the finish. I can live with scratchy yarn at the back or the top of a hat, but it is just so depressing to be slogging through slush in cold wet winds and to have an itchy forehead too.

Well, I guess there are two goals.  The other is to do this expertly on the first try so I don't have to frog back and reknit.  And if I pull that off, I'll go back to one of the other projects I'm cheating on.  Promise!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A place in the sun

Last night I stayed up too late reading The New Yorker (September 26, 2011 issue) and was a little horrified to come upon a cartoon by Roz Chast (page 90) that breaks down blogs into three groups, of which one is "stories about crap somebody cooked, knitted, or sewed.' (spoiler: the other two are conspiracy theories and self-promotion.)

So today I will not be writing about anything I knitted.  Ready?

* * * * *

At the beginning of the summer, I was taking my spinning wheel out to the porch every morning for an hour or two, so it made sense for me to bookend the season by doing that in the afternoons over the crazy-warm long weekend we just had.

(This is technically true, but what gave me the idea was not Balance but the sight of a ball of previously-spun yarn waiting in a teacup for its partner, while hunting the china cabinet for props with which to upgrade my Thanksgiving dining experience through the miracle of Presentation.  And yes, I did mess up said dinner by spinning just a bit too far from the aroma of burning, but apparently not so much as to be beyond the reach of what a nice tablecloth can achieve.)

There was just one catch: I'd already taken advantage of the warm and sunny weather we had to put away all the summer furniture and cart the permanent stuff up onto the porch to be out of the worst of the snow come winter.  Still.  Worth a try, right?

Right.  And it turns out the permanent furniture is So Much Better for spinning than the summer stuff.  Those chairs are just regular patio table chairs with ugly but super squashy cushions on them, so you'd think they'd be ideal. Especially since you're not looking at the pattern when you're sitting on it.  But I always had back and shoulder pain after spinning, which did not happen this weekend when leaning back in the old Adirondack/Muskoka style chair.

Which looks like this after nearly 15 years of use.

Oh dear.  I so should have taken the time to restain these again over the summer, though I think the blond areas on that one arm are actual rot.  I let the porch go entirely too, and it really needed floor paint.

Anyway: new favourite thing, just when the chair is falling apart and the weather is about to turn nasty.  GO ME.

In good news: I got through the second lump of fiber, and didn't wait to ply the yarn:

This is the bamboo/tencel/merino blend I bought from Waterloo Wools at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair.  It was tricky to get my wheel set up for the slipperiness of the bamboo, and I seem to have produced still more bulky yarn as a result, but hey! it's even! and it's green, and it's done.

* * * * *

There.  I didn't write about anything I cooked, knitted, or sewed, and the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed I didn't really write so much about spinning either.  Nope.  I wrote about a CHAIR.  Ha!

Monday, October 10, 2011


I'm not going to be soppy about all the things I'm thankful for (today is Thanksgiving here in Canada) even though I am thankful for a lot of very soppy things.  Instead I'm going to show you pictures of the baby sweater which is


and I strongly suspect has a baby to put it onto already though I have seen only signs (for example absence of said baby's expectant mother from her usual haunts) of same.

I am so thankful. 

If you look really closely you can just make out the purple blanket stitch I did along one button band, where the colour changes were messy.

I checked with Louise, who made the purple yarn.  She says machine wash gentle, lay flat to dry, so all I need to do now is make a care tag and, with luck, go hold a baby.

Project details here, highlights here:
Merino wool and seasilk blend yarn
Vintage Patons pattern adapted for stripes
Untold amounts of chocolate for fuel

Friday, October 7, 2011

I finished something!

Actually I finished a few things this week - I know, take a moment to catch your breath, it's quite a shock isn't it - but today I am most happy skippy jumpy about my Biscotte Club handwarmers:

This is the very first time of all the clubs I've been in that I made the club yarn a priority and knit it up right away, and I like it: I'd love to keep this up but it would mean casting on the September club sock pattern and getting it done this month too if I'm to catch up. Not totally crazy when you figure how cute the socks are though.

It's difficult to take pictures of handwarmers with one hand.  I should really get the tripod and timer set up on my camera but - hello, valuable knitting time?

And... the palm.

And... the other hand.

They are super squishy and soft and I'm pretty sure the pattern will go to wide release in 2012.  I can definitely recommend it - it's such a cool construction and goes so fast!  I've already cast on for the matching hat...

which doesn't bode well for September's socks.  Oops.

Pattern: Flight of the Phoenix wristwarmers by Louise Robert
Yarn: Gobelin, 100% superwash merino, Biscotte et Cie

Have a good weekend folks - it's Thanksgiving here in Canada so you better believe you know what I'll be doing!

(yes: putting away patio furniture, raking leaves, and maybe even planting the groundcover I bought in June.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Something to talk about

Last week while having coffee with a friend, said friend (and you know who you are) asked me how I think of something to write about on this blog five times a week every week.  Hello? This after I'd just talked her ear off for nearly an hour?  I am chatty.

Today though I am reminded that being chatty is not everything.  Though random thoughts can be entertaining, it's also good to have a theme, an insight, and/or a great picture (or any picture, sigh.)  Most of all, it's helpful to be excited about the subject.

Sometimes, what I'm excited about isn't the right fit for a particular day (owing to a lack of picture, sigh), and I have to hold my breath till it is and find something else I am also excited about.

Sometimes, the other things I am excited about just aren't exciting enough.

Which is why in spite of my best effort to start typing about something else, you're now stuck reading about

My New Dress!!!!

I am kicking myself - I totally meant to take a picture of this dress when I bought it.  Also of its matching cardi, and the other dress that came home with them.  Yes, I know.  I've done a lot of shopping this fall which is kind of ridiculous, not to mention expensive and therefore a bad habit to get into.

(in my defense, when I went into yet another shop this week to see about an incredibly cool long vesty thing I did not even try it on, having been knocked sensible by its price and also the fact that it turned out to have inset sleeves.  I am a pretty much a T-shirt under jumper sort of girl.)

(but I should probably watch that store for sales, shouldn't I.)

Okay, back to the dress.  The longer I drag out this mini essay, the higher the sun rises and the more likely it is that I will be able to get a picture of it even though it is way too comfortable to want to take off if I don't have to.

Oh dear, I got to my point fast, how counterproductive.  Still.  I never want to take this thing off! It's a sleeveless jersey knit of cotton and silk, colourblocked in a 1960s style in grey, black, and rich red, with an uneven sort hem that's notched in at least one place... nope, I'm wrong, it's just that one section along the front has a cuff added on.  In spite of that, it looks very elegant, especially with the matching bolero type cardi that is also colourblocked along the lower front edge.

(I'm not wearing the matching cardi today - too dressy.  Instead it's the long grey cardi I did not knit.)

Speaking of not knitting - perhaps you are wondering what this obviously not-about-knitting ramble is doing here at Hugs?  Well, yes.  We've got a jumper dress.  We've got leggings and a long sleeve top to go under it.  We've got - well, probably hikingish boots to wear with owing to the orthotics issue.  And in the boots:

handknit socks.

With red in them, to match the red in the dress.

It seems I have two pairs of handknit socks with red in them, which is not enough if I'm going to sneak this dress into super frequent circulation.  Clearly, more red-infused socks are indicated.  And guess what?  I hardly have any red-infused sock yarn!  Thank goodness for this:

March 2011's club yarn, which I believe is now wound into two cakes and has moved up the priority list.  Wouldn't it be awful if I had to shop for more sock yarn?

* * * * *

Okay, I'm totally going to regret this while running to my first Thing of the day but - the sun got bright enough for pictures so here you go, without further comment, because I gotta get my boots on and out the door.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spinning yarn, with a rock

I think I didn't record here the amazing story of my 12-minute clothes shopping spree a few weeks ago.  You know that game show Supermarket Sweeps where contestants have a set time in which to rack up the highest grocery bill? Well, I would be a cinch for that game because I always seem to notice the most expensive things first.  So let me just say that the 12-minute spree was not all Win.

No, I don't mean because this smocky thing looks so drab on the hanger.  Trust me, it looks fab on and: Pockets!!! 

Here is the amazing:

In just 12 minutes I was not only able to

run into a dress shop recommended to me by the enviably-dressed Jocelyn at my favourite yarn store Stitch,

secure assistance in locating vesty or tunicky layering garments,

try on about 7 of same,

turn down 4 and

get back to the counter without missing so much as a sock
(mainly because those don't come off in the first place)


I also pulled off a yarny chat with the otherwise lovely woman who assisted me in spending a shocking amount of money in just 12 minutes.  She knits, but she had also become recently interested in rock spindling.

Rock spindling, you ask?  Yes, I did too.

It's spinning, using A Rock as the weight, and Nothing as the any other part of the process.  And I swear to you that when I got home and looked up rock spindling on YouTube, I did find a video of somebody showing how you do it.  I just can't seem to find that video now.

Essentially - and this has got to be spinning at its most essential and also, early - rock spindling seems to be a blend of bottom-whorl spindling and kick spindling, the idea being to spin the rock by hand or foot, then wrap the spun yarn around the rock as you go.

(I probably lost you at kick spindling, didn't I.)

Thank goodness I have a spinning wheel and a mountain of stuff that has to get done, because this sort of discovery is exactly what I could really dig myself into a hole with.  Which probably makes it mean of me to mention it to anybody else.  Oops!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To-ing and Fro-ing

I am so undecided about these green mohair blend socks:

On Sunday I was prepping the second one to take out on my journeys for Monday and realized I not only cut off the ankle portion of the first sock way earlier than I needed to, I also made the meanest, snuggest heel flap and gusset you can imagine.  Now that I know I have yarn to spare, I feel like I should rip them both back to the cuff and adjust accordingly.

On the other hand... really?  Rip them out?? It's not like I don't have a zillion other things to finish.

And the mostly-finished one does fit fine in spite of the gusset issue.  It could maybe - maybe - use one more stitch at the top of my foot where the sock bends, but there is plenty of flex and my foot is quite comfortable in there.

Still.  Favourite colours! and it matches my green cardi so perfectly, I know I'll want to wear them a lot this winter, and they are just a bit short to sit up over my leggings.  Will I enjoy them if my leg is always freezing for an inch above the cutoff?

No no, this way lies the crazy.  I have three more pairs of these socks to make (admittedly in very different colours) and I can make them all much longer with a slightly fuller gusset.  Maybe I can even knit a separate cuff-ish legwarmer to slip in under these particular socks.  Out of a felted wool sweater sleeve, maybe?

I did take the second sock with me yesterday and as I knit I thought how nice the leftover yarn would be in a nice pair of Fair Isle mittens.  So the socks are safe another day... but I have a terrible feeling I might change my mind again and rip them to fend off any further mental discussion on the point.

Knitting: so much not just a mindless, relaxing activity.

Monday, October 3, 2011

First of the month Club Excitements

Normally, I open Biscotte club parcels on the first day of the month.  Sometimes I lose track of the days and I am reminded of the first only by an e-mail from Biscotte with that month's pattern in it.

This time, the pattern arrived the night before.

What am I, stone?  I totally opened that e-mail.  Was the pattern ever cool!  And when I say pattern, I mean patterns - our choice between a hat or a pair of handwarmers made using the same extremely neat-looking spiral technique I haven't done before, designed by Louise herself.

Of course I want to make both pieces, but there is only enough yarn to do one.  And I don't want to buy a different colour (at least for this first run) because this, like the last, is named for a Harry Potter moment - Flight of the Phoenix.

How can I mix something like that with something all boring and ordinary?

Like this:

Ha.  It's not a perfect colour match but it's better than it looks in the picture; close enough in that Not Clashy way and also, the same weight and similarly superwashy.  Also known as Cascade wool I bought to make a baby surprise jacket (and probably should, now I think of it.)  My plan was to make the hand warmers first, then use anything left over to start the hat so the most nonscratchy yarn is on my forehead.  Anything from Biscotte is the definition of nonscratchy, but Gobelin? yuuuuum.

I still have a lot of other projects on the go but you know how sometimes you see something and you just have to cast on right away not because you need the thing or the environment you'll be working in is the right fit, but because you just can't wait to see how it's done?  Well, file me behind that door.

See what I mean?