Friday, September 30, 2011

All caught up (but not in a good way)

A couple of weeks ago when I was racing to finish Carolyn's socks, this happened:

Another casualty of mobile knitting.  I was not paying attention to my bus stop and jammed the needles into my bag as I got up, then zipped my purse shut on the way to the doors.  Still without paying attention, apparently. 

Closer investigation at home showed that the cast-on tail was caught in the zipper pull, and though it was pretty close to the first stitches and one of the three plys had come close to tearing, it was possible to wriggle it out again with some back-and-forthing of the pull.  I was even able to run in that cast-on tail without anything being the worse.

Here is the solution I'm using to keep the problem from happening again:

When I'm using a purse with a zip on public transit, as opposed to an open tote in a car, I knit from a drawstring bag raised a little above zip level.

(yay! more excuses to indulge my tinyhappy addiction.)

Hope you have a good and snarl-free weekend!  You know what I'll be doing: baby sweater baby sweater baby sweater.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hey there baaaaby (cardi)

Look, look!

Okay, it's not done.  I still need to blanket stitch one side of the opening and block it and find buttons and sew them on.  But it's sewn up!  And since that took more than two hours to do (don't ask me whether or not that includes sewing the side of the sleeve to the side of the back plus picking them apart again) I felt it deserved a day all to itself.

Now that it's in one piece I think it might be a six month size - whew! - which still won't put it big enough for this baby to wear at Easter, but maybe that's just as well.  Somebody might mistake him for a beautiful cuddly egg and try to put him in a basket for a table centerpiece or something.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why toe-up socks exist

For a pair of socks I am supposed to be working on only at home (and only on very short breaks from the very urgent baby sweater) because the needles are a little sharp for going out with, my mohair/Romney sweeties from Stoddart Family Farms' boot sock collection are making astounding progress.  Ahem.

Look! I already have one up to the toe.

This particular skein was a little lighter than the others in my stash, the square needles had me knitting tighter, and anyway it's a bit unpredictable with this yarn how many inches you can afford to invest in the cuff - it's spun a bit thicker than the usual sock base you find from other artists, and you get a little less mileage as a result.  So I really, really should have done them toe up.  That way I wouldn't have wasted a bit of this incredibly delicious colourway and I would have had very warm legs this winter as well as very warm feet.

Sadly, I opted for top down, having got well and truly sick of toe-up experimentation (or rather, of too-long feet) last winter.

And you know what? I'm going to do the next pair of these socks top down too, because all I have to do is weigh the leftover ball from this one to find out how far I can take the next cuffs.

I think I'll use these scraps in some sort of Fair Isle or stripe pattern with backup leftovers for a nice abbreviated pair of matching legwarmers... a bit like shearing the sheep to make it a sweater, but the best fix I can think of.

Also, it lets me knit with this yarn a little longer.  You really have to try it to believe it, and once you do I bet you'll be as hooked as I am!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Leaving aside yesterday's moan-fest for a minute: last week when I had about an hour in which to clean the house before friends turned up for a lunch party I thought "Forget that!" and snuck off to pull out my spinning wheel.

It's probably three years ago now that I was a knitter resisting learning to spin, because it seemed like another deep pit of distraction and expense.  That's sort of a deceptive impression.  Spindles can be cheap, like the Ashford learner one that cost me less than $20 and works just as well as the more beautiful one I bought later whose price we will not discuss, ahem.  They can even be free, as when you make them yourself.  You can do that from found items, especially if you can face a bottom-whorl spindle and have the wherewithal to glue a bead to a crochet hook.  And even roving costs about half what yarn does, so in a way you save money when you spin.

Of course it doesn't take long spinning with a spindle to see the upside of going veryveryfast, for which you need a wheel, and wheels are definitely not cheap.  (Mine is an Ashford Joy, purchased used - it was still pricey, and still worth every penny to me.)  Plus, even with a wheel it takes time to spin yarn, after which you need to do something with it or it will just take up space in your stash.

It's worth noting too that the low pricing of roving might tempt you to buy twice as much of it.  Not that we know anybody who does that.  (That's the new Cool Cucumber I bought from Waterloo Wools at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair up there, by the way.)

So as I say - I was kind of right to avoid learning to spin.  But on the upside, it is an incredibly peaceful art that more than gives back what you put into it.  It's a good thing to do to calm down out of the flurry of guest-anticipation and be ready to enjoy your visit.  Especially if your guests are the sort who aren't going to mind if you pull the wheel out again after lunch and fuss over your bamboo blend fiber while you chat.

I don't know how this is going to look plied; the singleton is super fat, and super overspun.  But it was ever so nice in my hands and I think it will feel nice on somebody's neck or head... eventually.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Slow progress

For a couple of weeks now I've been watching my pile of Works In Progress not shrink.  This is mostly because my usual quantity of free time has shrunk - dramatically - but also because when I get free time I'm so wiped out I just collapse.  Some days even my fingers are too tired to knit.  It's hooooorrible.

Last night even, I went to a burger place with friends and got barstool seating in front of a window.  There I was, a sock untouched in my purse, and there - outside at a cafe table enjoying the evening air - was another knitter working contentedly away at a lace scarf.

(of course I ate fast so I could go and say hi.  what am I, made of stone?)

However, I did make progress on the baby sweater.  I picked it up every time I sat down, and I came up with excuses to sit down so I could pick it up, and I'm nearly finished the yoke.  I might actually cast off today, leaving only the hours and hours of finishing and button-hunting to do.

Also: I gave Carolyn her sleep socks.  I think she liked them.

Looking back over the last little while I think I see where I've been going wrong.  Instead of spending as much time as possible at home ignoring the dust like usual, I've been out clothes-shopping and in paying attention to dust and laundry and organization generally.  I've caught myself twice now wondering whether I'll be able to cram in washing the shower curtain liner before I need to go out - or use the shower - again.

I'll just have to come to my senses, because I surely have enough clothes by now and I know from experience that all those house things go and get dirty again a couple of days later.

(Not like shawls or hats or scarves that keep being around even after you've knit three more, ahem.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Babies, and knitting for same


I know, it's just a strip of stripies.  But it's also the second of two fronts for a certain baby cardi, and the last piece to finish before I can put all the pieces onto one needle to knit a yoke.  (and then I have to seam, and blanket stitch the one side where the colour change loops won't be tucked into the seam because they are big enough for a baby-sized finger to get caught in, and find buttons, oh help!)

And even this piece isn't off the needles yet.  The Goal That Must Not Be Named was to have the lot onto its yoke by the end of last Sunday, so this should give you a pretty good idea of how limited my knitting time is these days.  Something's gotta change, that's all there is to it.

In only partially related news, I was over at Trish's house yesterday and congratulating her (yes, that's the word I'm going to use, never mind if my voice was a bit whiny) on having her baby gift done already while noting that there is another baby due for arrival in the vicinity in January for whom I will be very much remiss if I am not knitting something soon.  And I am getting frankly a bit cardi phobic, so it isn't gonna be that.

Trish's knit was a blanket, and she's done another for another baby (so many babies, I love it!) and she showed me both. 

I think I wanna do a blankie for the next baby.  Sooooo much less stress about whether it will still fit when you hand it over!

If I did lace, I think I'd do Anne Hanson's Cradle Me.  But maybe colourblocks from Churchmouse Yarns would be good too.  Or maybe I should just Stop Thinking and get on with my knitting. 

Have a good weekend everybody - and wish me luck for a productive one!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's hip to be square

You may recall my double pointed needle crisis, but I'll recap: I've only got enough to have two pairs of socks in progress at once and apparently I have a deep-seated need to work on a lot more socks than that.  Cue the shopping bells.

Sadly, it turns out that tiny dpns were not a popular item for venders to bring to the Knitter's Fair.  But Serenity Knits had a few, and the ones in the size I needed were square, by Kollage.

You'll see from the link above that knitters are encouraged, as indeed I was, to be alert to any gauge changes caused by the shift to a square needle from round.  A lot of people have to go up a size to make gauge, but you can't really know till you start knitting;  I did the above-pictured gauge swatch which was perfect only to find mid-sock that I'm cramming slightly more stitches into each inch than usual.

I'm not really bothered by this.  It's not enough to make a big difference in fit anyway, but to be on the safe side I'll be reserving these for slightly heavier sock yarn because the pattern I use for them is a bit looser to start with.

The thing that actually worried me when I bought the needles was whether my skin would react badly to the metal.  I do well with Addis, but every other metal needle I've tried (and I think I've covered them all) make my hands unpleasantly tingly after a while.  Thankfully: these ones are not every other.  They not only look very pretty, they feel great.

And that is the real point of square needles - they feel great!  The word is that if you have arthritis or other problems like carpal tunnel, square needles feel better because you can grip them more easily.  It's absolutely true, for me in any case.  My right wrist is often very sore after a lot of knitting but not with these.  I love them and almost wish I had gone with my initial gut instinct to buy four sets instead of the two I brought home.

Almost, because...

these babies are sharp.

And boy do I mean sharp!!  You know how lace tip needles are pointy?  Well, these are pointier.  Pointy to the extent that they could do real harm in a collision between knitter and Any Other Object.  Which is not a problem if the knitter is stationary, but is a big problem for me.  After all, I'm already having safety issues with dpns on the go.

So the squares stay home unless I'm meeting a friend for coffee and not knitting en route.

And when I'm not working with them they stay sheathed.  Compared to the joy they bring, it's definitely not a lot of trouble to take.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Orthoticky shoes for handknit socks

The nasty Achilles tendon issue that befell me last September is back again, leaving me with no choice but to go shoe shopping.  Ahem.

(no, really: I've been experimenting, and even an hour's outing with the wrong shoe seems to make the problem exponentially worse.  I'm beginning to lose hope of ever wearing a heel again! which would be horrible if it didn't leave me with more opportunities to wear socks of my own making.)

So off I went a week or two ago with a pair of handknit socks in my current Mary Janes to find a pair that were more substantial-looking and incidentally offered a lot more arch support.

The shoe salesman kinda freaked out about the socks, which he felt were very bright.  I must be losing perspective because I thought they were pretty subtle - Vesper 4-stripers in pale pink, soft grey, bright blue and cream.  I guess he's used to black or navy or brown, no stripes? 

We tried on Birkenstock Mary Janes, and Clarks Mary Janes, and a ton of others whose names I don't remember, plus some boots, and my toes and arch were unquestionably happiest in a pair of Keene Mary Janes which I find ironic for a couple of reasons.

One, it was the mostly archless Keene waterproof sandals I wore in the summer that seem to have caused the trouble in the first place, and two, these Mary Janes were way, WAY less expensive than any others we tried.  Usually I have an unfortunately homing tendency toward the most expensive option.

I've been wearing the new shoes every since and they are working wonders on my leg.  They have a real buckle, not a Velcro strap, so they are much kinder to my handknit socks.  But hooo.


Are they stinky!

I don't know what it is about the synthetic parts in these babies but if you're going to a place where you'll be expected to take your shoes off at the door (and want to be invited back), you'll do as I do, bad tendon or not, and wear something else.

And now if you'll excuse me I gotta go put my leg on a heating pad 'cause I just did that.

(should I file this story under What Price Beauty?)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The fall cardi: copout edition

My capacity for stressing myself out knows no bounds, honestly.  First I came up with the idea for a fall cardi knitalong last spring so as to have a fighting chance at a new cardi this fall, and then I started knitting shawls and socks instead till - well.  If you live in a part of North America where seasons have significant shifts, you'll probably have noticed one is happening right now.  I have noticed because I'm cold a lot more often than I was in July.

And the Fair Isle sweater I started last winter is almost but not quite ready for the yoke.

And my beautiful cardi, for which I made a matching shawl in anticipation, is still missing the top of its back, two sleeves, and all its finishing.

And even the baby cardi that's meant for a baby boy arriving possibly as soon as next week still has a front panel and yoke to go.  (plus, it's mostly bamboo.  what was I thinking?)

Meanwhile, all I seem to be able to get my hands on are nice compact sock projects because I'm not getting a second to sit on the sofa with any of those bigger brain-requiring projects.

Yesterday I had a sudden inspiration and spent one hour - you read that right - conjuring not one but two perfectly fitted 100% wool cardigans for less than the price of the yarn for one.  Yes!  And how you may ask did I achieve such a magical transformation in the warmth potential of my wardrobe?

Three words: discount department store.  In Canada: 'Winners'.  In the US: 'Marshalls'.

This beauty is keeping me warm as I type. 

Okay, I know it looks a bit blah but imagine how much more so it would be on your needles!  I'm guessing it'd take 3.0mm plus forever because it falls to about 3 inches above my knees.  You would never knit this sweater, and neither would I, because it is boring charcoal grey and has nothing to break up the stocking stitch.  But you would wear it because it is warm and soft and sleek and will go with everything from black to screaming pink.  Also, surprisingly flattering.  I know.  It looks like nothing on the hanger, but on a body: pretty fab.

If only it had pockets.

This one is too cool for my Mary Janes (I tried, oh how I tried.)  And you would never knit it either.  You know why?  Because it is mostly boiled wool, cut up and sewn together.  Stitches got picked up for the cuffs and collar and button band in a thick and thin yarn also used for the blanket stitch edges.

(tip: the raw edge has been folded to the wrong side, and then secured by the blanket stitching for a polished finish.)

Also: it is black.  A plain black cardi is a total bonus in your wardrobe but in your knitting bag?  This way leads to blindness.  Or at the very least madness because you cannot fail to notice all the fabulous colours available to knitters these days. 

Conclusion: go me!  now I can knit without freezing, and with luck I'll have those sweaters done by First Snow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hazardous when knitting

Hooooo boy - another week with downtown driving in it.  And if I could see my way to do it - I do mean literally, if I could see in advance whether I can make a left where and when I want to - I would be driving downtown this afternoon as well.  So I guess I'm getting used to the whole thing.

Meanwhile, it's a lot of public transit to boot and now that I'm doing it so much more I can see where it's a problem.  Formerly, I could knit socks on a bus, effortlessly.  I'd knit at the bus stop, fold the sock so the needles were all lined up nicely when I saw the bus coming, hold all five needles plus the sock in my left hand against my body so as not to poke anybody while getting on the bus, then resume knitting as soon as I sat down.  Ditto on the subway. 

All was well at first.  One bus driver I kept getting for one particular run always calls out "Don't forget your purse or bag!" on arrival at the subway, the end of his line.  Last time, he called out "Don't forget your purse, or your bag, or your SOCK!"

Then one day I was getting on the subway - literally with one foot almost on the car floor - when I saw my old neighbour Tony getting out of the subway right beside me.  Our greeting went like this:

"Hey! Tony!"


(unexpected Tony-initiated hug at brink of subway door)

(near stabbing of Tony)

This made me think that maybe I should be putting my needles away entirely, not just holding them in one hand.  Or maybe I should always wear one of my skirts with the insanely huge pockets so as to jam the needles right out of harm's way.

But I haven't done it yet, and the other day things got worse.  I was taking the very long trip from a bus at a busy station to the far-away platform and just as I was running down the last of the steps to grab the train waiting in the station - I must have let my arm free from its hand-against-body position - my needles caught somebody else's scarf.  A somebody else who was running in the opposite direction.

Quick reflexes allowed me to tilt my hand and release the fabric while merely missing my train. I don't know what happened to the scarf and I can only hope it wasn't anything bad.

Still.  What if it had been somebody's hand?  What if I'd actually pulled that girl down the stairs with me?  I gotta stop the insanity. 

I might even have to find something else to knit on public transit.  Something I could do on nice safe circular needles.  Like... a hat... or maybe a nice handspun cowl. 

Otherwise I might as well be driving, you know?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another fine mess I've gotten myself into

Today I have time to tell you something else about the Knitter's Fair, so I hope you're comfy.

Remember I said that meeting Anne Hanson led to more shenanigans with my wallet?  Well, that isn't quite true, because it would have happened just from her samples being out on display at the Shall We Knit? booth.

There were a lot of samples.  Some I recognized immediately as they have been in my queue a long time, and seeing them reminded me I really should get going on them.  And one hadn't made it into the queue at all because while I admired it greatly, I didn't think it would look nearly as nice on me as it does on Anne, and also I do have some shreds of common sense left in me.

Here is the cold hard fact:

a girl with three sweaters on needles that first climbed on more than four months ago and are nowhere near completion, even if one of them is baby-sized, should not be looking at another sweater.

But there it is... and there it was... the sample for Leaving, hanging up at the side of the table.

It is a stunning, stunning piece of design and looking at it in person I could see that it would in fact look - at the very least - just fine on me, and more importantly that I would feel like a million bucks in it.  The damage was done even before I got chatting with Anne about its various features, and when I left the booth it wasn't just with two big pillows of roving, but with a copy of the pattern.

La la la, and now I need about 1500 yards of yarn and let's not talk about time or lack thereof, okay?

One of the yarns Anne suggested in this particular version of the pattern is from Waterloo Wools, and since I had noted this shop as One I Must Visit At The Fair, I spent the last twenty minutes of my stay hunting it down.  I still don't know how I kept missing it.  Thankfully I arrived during a brief lull in the traffic there, and Lindsey was able to talk to me about my predicament, which wasn't even the best part because frankly it is pretty awesome to be able to tell an artist that Anne Hanson has recommended her work for a fabulous cardi pattern.

Lindsey didn't have 1500 yards of any one colour at the booth, but offered to dye for me whatever I liked on the base yarn of my preference.  Anne suggests for Leaving a silk/camelhair blend called Winterbourne, but I kinda fell for Kawartha, a springy 100% Blue-Faced Leicester yarn which will - of course! - be more expensive.  That choice set aside for the moment, I was free to look at those colours.


People. You have got to check out Waterloo Wools because never mind the base yarns, which are just Wow, the colours are amaaaaazing and the names even more so.  Because I am still obsessed with green cardigans apparently in spite of having one down and another midway, I put Cool Cucumber and Celery Leaf at the top of my Leaving list.

Then while Lindsey was writing that down on her card for me my eye fell on more roving...

It's called Lakeside.  I am all about Lakesiding right now so I could not let that pass even though the colour is very similar to the rope of Blue-Faced Leicester I'd just bought (this one is Polwarth, so that sheep seems to have won the day's popularity contest.)

Then - as I was paying for that?  Oh yes.  More roving, right behind Lindsey's head.

Cool Cucumber, in 'Panda' - a bamboo/merino blend with a bit of nylon thrown in.  I just have no self-control. (or maybe it is that I am brilliant, and also brave enough to seize opportunity when it presents itself?)

Now that I am home and being Sensible and also a little shocked at my terrible spending habits I am thinking of what a pain it is to alternate two strands of hand-dyed yarn for the duration of an entire cardigan.  Also that I should use one of my two remaining massive cones of St-Denis Nordique for my version of Leaving while indulging my desire for Waterloo Wools' Kawartha yarn in less yardage-monstery hat or scarf or sock form. 

But then I think... No.  What makes Leaving so lovely is the drape and subtle colour shifts you're only going to get in hand-dyed yarn on a silky base, and no matter how much I prefer knitting with wool, if I want that sweater I need to use that sort of material.  Otherwise I will have a different sweater.  It will still be lovely, but it will not be what I fell in love with.  Also it will be an awful lot like two I have already knit.

Of course I could shake up the problem slightly more for myself by getting Waterloo Wool for other projects and going with a Briar Rose yarn for the cardi.   Shall We Knit supplies another Anne-approved variety (the name of which I will have to check about at the shop if I go that route) in the same colour as the reddish Briar Rose fiber I bought.

That would take my choices over to something like this:

Lighter green cardi, or deeper reddish cardi?

You can see where I've really dug myself in deep this time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lovely sock toes and my work, cut out

I had this crazy idea that if I accumulated toes to be Kitchenered and did them all at once, it would go faster.  It didn't.  I spent all my precious knitting time yesterday finishing them off and running in the cast-on edge.  But I think they are the most beautiful sock toes I've ever seen:

That's probably mostly because I desperately needed the needles they were on so I could start some new socks.  I am traveling a lot again the next couple of days for one thing - gotta have more portable knitting - and also, I... erm... well, I spent all my precious knitting time on Tuesday night not working on my cardi or the baby sweater or anything important.

Instead I got out the ball winder and swift and all the sock yarn I've been buying in the past few months.

My work is definitely cut out for me, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anne made me do it

I think where I started to go horribly wrong at the Knitter's Fair was probably when I bought the Japanese stitch books, because they cost a bomb and the only way to justify that is to say Price Doesn't Matter, which is dangerous thinking when surrounded by fiber.

Shortly after that purchase I found myself at a booth where Koigu was on sale.  I've been obsessing about Koigu since I found the sample Minions (that is a link to Heather Sebastian's blog, btw, because everything she designs is obsession-worthy) at PassionKnit, a sort-of-local yarn store, and I couldn't help looking at all the colours in front of me, and drooling.  But honestly.  How do you choose?  And there was a siren call to my right, so I sort of drifted that way and found a lot of super yummy fiber from Briar Rose.  After some agonizing I chose this:

and then hugged it while I walked around the booth some more.  This was another big mistake because when you are hugging fiber you know you are not going to put it back on the hangy-uppy-thingy no matter what other lusciousness you find, and what I mostly found was a big long table of samples I instantly recognized as Anne Hanson's work.

Now, if I had had time to breathe in the previous week I would have kept up with my favourite blogs and known that Anne was going to be at the Shall We Knit? booth and also at the shop later in the week for classes.  I didn't.  So when I looked down and saw a familiar-from-blog-pictures figure getting things out from under the table I said exactly what popped out of my head, which was, "I thought this was a lot of Anne Hanson samples not to have Anne Hanson with them."

Well.  We got chatting, in part about the fiber I was hugging.  Anne seemed to feel that while Blue-Faced Leicester is very nice, I might like the Polwarth even more.  And of course, having spun with both and having just been torn between them two moments before, I said that if she kept up that sort of talk I was going to have to buy both and it would be her fault.   "Let's look at colours!" she said.

Which is how I got this, too.

All that led to more shenanigans with my wallet, but I gotta go, so I'll tell you more about it another day soon.  In the meantime you can read Anne's posting about the Fair - she's got pictures of a lot of what I've described, including part of the magical Viola booth, complete with Emily!

(Emily knit the sweater she's wearing with some of her own yarns of course, in about a million colours - she did even the start and end of the stripe transitions with individual balls of yarn chosen specifically for their gradualness.  It is a fabulous piece of work.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Knitting without any time

Oh, for the lost days of last year when I had soooo many hours begging to be filled with knitting!  So far this month I have sat to knit exactly three times, and even then only for 45 minutes, all I could spare to spend with my leg on a heating pad to address the apparent re-injury of my Achilles tendon (GAH, to which I might add, OWIE.) 

Even writing stuff down here at Hugs - and there is so very much around me to write about - requires the giving up of other things, usually sleep.

Fortunately, I did get all four of my socks over the heel around the time the crazy started up in earnest:

so I've had portable knitting.  They're all still on the needles.  I'm hoping that won't be true on Friday, but - Kitchener Stitch?  I don't see myself doing that on a bus.

(especially if I acquire and begin to use the new seaming aid from Nancy's Knit Knacks, Seams So Easy.  I see a place for this in my life, but only if I can work sitting down, which is often not the case on public transit... and, oh dear. If you haven't been to NKK before, I'm sorry, because I fear I will have started you down a road of longing and pining.  Maybe we can be road buddies?)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Being Good while surrounded by fiber

Well, I went to the Knitter's Fair, and I was pretty good. 

I didn't need any roving to spin because we know I didn't get through all the stuff from last year's shopping even during the Tour de Fleece.

And I didn't need any yarn, obviously, so that wasn't a draw.

Didn't need any new books either - who has space?

Nope, I was good.  I got needles.

* * * * * *

Where all this stuff came from:

Roving: Briar Rose, acquired at Shall We Knit, and in-house yumminess from Waterloo Wools

Yarn: Viola, Viola, and more Viola

Books: Japanese stitch dictionaries from The Needle Arts Book Shop

Needles: from Camilla Valley Farms and Serenity Knits

Details: to follow over the next week or two.  So much to tell!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

That magical time of the knitting year

It's tomorrow, people!! I'm making a list and checking it a lot more than twice because the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair is tomorrow.

I'm so excited... it's such a great day out.  There are two big knitting festivals I go to every year: the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto in the spring, and the Knitter's Fair in Kitchener in the fall.  Technically the Frolic should be the big spending fest (and is) because it comes after months and months of nothing at all but stash-depleting.  On the other hand: the Fair comes at the start of fall, when one is under a steady barrage of exciting new patterns and projects that can't help but make you need fresh yarn.

Last year as I recall, I came home with a ton of fiber I did not spin until July's Tour de Fleece.  It made for some storage issues and a LOT of guilt*.  Which isn't to say I will turn up my nose at some semisolid blue-faced-leicester fiber, should there be any on offer.

*all worth it, naturally.

I don't need yarn either - ha! like that makes a difference - but I do have a couple of design ideas that I don't think will quite work with the yarn I have in my stash.  So I'm going to be open to yarns at the Fair.  Viola will be there, and shopping at Viola is always the most enchanting experience imaginable (I'm not exaggerating; just ask anybody who walks into the booth and looks at the yarn colour names and touches the angora-blend yarns at the cash).  Sadly it appears my beloved Stoddart Family Farms will not, which makes me very glad I bought at this year's Frolic a lot more of their fabulous sock yarn, none of which I have knit yet, though I would be knitting some right now if I had more 2.25mm double points.

Which brings me to what I do require: needles.  And since I really only use Addis these days that should more than set me back enough to be able to say I did the Fair.  It's a great place to get tools, not because there are great sales there though sometimes that is true, but because if one shop is missing the two things you need, another will have them and you won't be driving across the city to find out.

I'm going to pick up some Malabrigo Sock for Trish, who can't get to the Fair and is feeling compelled by its sheer gorgeousness and fascination to knit Catkin.

I might even look for a shawl clip.  Not a big jabby pin, because I have enough trouble walking around all the time with double-pointed needles sticking out of my socks in progress, but something with the sharp bit tucked away out of sight.  Also (maybe) some buttons for Deco, which reminds me I have to look up what sort of buttons are needed for that.

So many things to check before I go! and... oh dear, some travel knitting to set up as well, because I'm pretty sure that neither Deco nor the baby sweater are quite portable at the moment, and it's a golden 3+ hours in the car I don't want to waste.

Hope you have a great weekend too, wherever you go! and that you too get in some knitting time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweater weather

We interrupt this blog entry to bring you an important News Item: 

I drove downtown without an experienced driver beside me for advice for the first time this morning, and lived to type this message. 

And now we will return to our regularly scheduled wool chat (with added adrenalin.  PANT.)

It's only September and usually the daytime temperatures at this time of year are suitable for linen if you're lucky, but the last few days have been cold.  I mean, jackets and full-length pants cold.  Cold enough for either of the two sweaters I haven't finished, and don't feel too justified about prioritizing again until the baby cardi is done for said baby's imminent arrival.  Which explains why I have been moving forward with the cardi (finished the back last night! cue the confetti!)

I have been making stealth progress on the Deco though:

Honestly, sweaters in progress look like such a puddle of loose strings, don't they.  The best I could do with this picture of starting-the-back was to position the needles in a cute 1930s tapdance-arms way. 

You may perhaps have noticed that all the loose stitches are on holders, save for one sad little front shoulder on yarn.  It made me crazy that I couldn't find the last holder I'd been reserving for this very situation and I searched and searched - wasting all the time I would have gained by using said holder - before giving up, but when I put it all out to photograph it...

Yeah.  I'd clipped it to the strap of the bag so I could find it.  Le sigh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The memorable tea cosy

I don't know whether you remember my mentioning a visit to a cottage this summer where I saw a knitted tea cosy I was still thinking about afterward, but I got to go back to that cottage later and took a picture of it.

(and yes, it is difficult to explain to non-knitting hosts why you want to take their teapot and cosy out to the deck for a photograph.)

I'm pretty sure this is an acrylic cosy and now that I look it at again it's pretty basic, isn't it - simple cables turned to face each other, with little garter buffers in between.  It's not even a magnetic colour for a kitchen, though I do remember a fad for powder blue accessories back in the 80s.  Apparently it was knit by a lady who also stays on the lake where this cottage sits, and I spotted another knit cosy in a drawer while I was putting away some spatulas I'd just dried.

Yet I couldn't stop thinking about this cosy after I left from that first visit.  In spite of all the other amazing things to see and remember about a cottage in the woods on the rocky shore of a peaceful lake!

I wonder whether the attraction is the way this cosy encapsulates so much about a cottage - the drawing together of neighbours, the warmth of a fresh cup of tea shared with friends, the putting to use of whatever materials are to hand.

Also I really love that pull thingy on top.  Because the cosy is pinned on by the spout and handle it's not as obviously practical for tugging the thing off with, but my goodness, so cute!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Picking up where I left off

Remember this?

Much earlier in the year before my friend even knew whether she's having a boy or a girl I started knitting this baby cardi, and frogging and reknitting and going out to buy a second yarn so I could put in stripes and not have to stop at a body and half of one sleeve.

I dug it out of hibernation over the weekend so I could spend today reacquainting myself with it and getting it going again because: Baby is Due.  Maybe not for another two or three weeks, but definitely Due.  And as I recall, I was also wanting to make a matching hat if I had yarn left over, which will take time, of which there is not much left.

Sadly I had an unrelated time problem in the night, waking to a loud (but in the event nonthreatening) noise at 1am and not being able to get back to sleep again till I think 5.  Probably it was 5:15 but that is too scary to contemplate.  (don't you hate the nights where you have to count out your sleep in 15 minute increments?) 

In any case I'll have to nap during today's knitting time - I can guarantee I will doze over the needles, a clear safety hazard, if I try to work in this state - so it ain't gonna happen.  I'll just cross my fingers for tomorrow, or maybe sneak in some time tonight.  It can't take that long to decipher my sloppy old notes, can it?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labour Day, emphasis on the Labour

As with every other year, I seem to be using Labour Day Weekend as an excuse for resolutions.  It's probably the ingrained 'fresh start' feeling from all those years going back to school, but this is when I actually do what I meant to get done last winter.  And usually that means



which is not something I really enjoy but am glad to have done if you know what I mean.

So I have no pictures to show you today.

But I do have a very tidy bunch of bookshelves, and three different kinds of cookies tucked into tins (controlled sodium levels, dontcha know), and a very organized desk.  Which, like last time I had one, should probably last three days.

Hope your holiday is lazier!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Asymmetrical Cloche - a free pattern

At long last, here is the the chemo-friendly hat pattern I designed last spring for Bene:

This was another of those so easy designs that just worked itself out - I had a few glitches with exactly how many stitches to start with, but the structure stayed the same from the moment I first pictured it.  I love when that happens.  

I made one in organic cotton for her to wear over the summer,

and one in superwash merino for the fall.

Same needles, different number of stitches, both versions included.

The idea was to use ribbing added gradually across the band of the hat both to help hold it on and to control in an asymmetrical way how much roll there would be around the face.

It's so easy to knit; you don't even need to watch the instructions closely because it's pretty logical just by watching the fabric you're making.  Of course I say this as somebody who made three hats before I got the sizing right and could cast on for Bene's, but still.  I knit this walking, on a boat cruise, on the subway... it's easy.

I think the hat would be cute with a little pin or flower on the lower side, don't you?

I try to make my chemo hats reversible when I can, because I fear that some will find the purl side abrasive or just irritating after chemo treatments.  I liked how the little roll at the brim folds inside so nicely when it's inside out for a slight-and-smooth angle of stickie-outyness.

And there you have it - another option for something to do when you really can't do anything.  Or just an easy hat project for anybody who needs a hug for their head, including you!

 Download .pdf of Asymmetrical Cloche

Thursday, September 1, 2011

... and now it is fall

Under normal conditions I consider fall to start when school does, which isn't till next week where I live, but this year I feel like Today Is It.  It's September, it's fall, it's time to think about warmer clothes (even though the house is still pretty darned hot most of the time.)

How do I know?

Reason Number 1

I've gone back to my Deco cardi, having finished the most urgent of my three Escapist shawls.  I had left off partially through the second front:

and last night I finished that and shifted over to the top of the back, making it once again a Portable Knit.

Reason Number 2

I'm getting panicked about the baby sweater I was supposed to have ready by the end of Labour Day weekend.  Please note the lack of photograph, which illustrates the fact that panic has not yet led to picking up of needles.

Reason Number 3

I did a test drive this morning for a run I'm going to have to make several times a week as part of my New Role this fall.  The new role has many aspects, some of which will probably reduce my overall knitting output, but the dominant feature is the fact that I'm going to have to drive around downtown several times a week. And that is the biggie because I really, really don't like driving anywhere at any time.

I've spent the last three weeks reminding myself that I passed my driving test, complete with highway exercises, just a year ago on my first try; sadly it's not much comfort because I've been so successful at avoiding driving ever since and am now completely out of practice.  Even today I didn't do the test run myself but rode along with another driver so I'd know just how much traffic there is on the roads at the time I was planning to be out there.  Answer: a lot.

Expect me to be out driving, also a lot, over the next few days while I try to get more comfortable with this whole business.

Reason Number 4

I came home from the test drive to find an e-mail from Biscotte, which tells me it's September 1 and I can open my first parcel for the current yarn club.

It's so hard to decide - do I open the parcel of yarn first, or the e-mail, which will show the free pattern that goes with it?  I went for the parcel:

YUM.  And it's Felix sock yarn, which I love knitting with ever so much.

Then I opened the e-mail. Louise had dropped some hints on her blog that the pattern would have something to do with a Harry Potter baddie, but I forgot that until I saw the most luscious lacy-twisty socks titled 'Bellatrix Lestrange' (designer: Rachel Coopey.)

I am totally knitting these. But not till I get some current socks off the needles, or until after the Kitchener Knitters' Fair - whichever comes first - because I am still out of 2.25mm double points.  I was going to order more KnitPicks ones but it was going to cost a small fortune in shipping for some reason, so I'm going to wait till they're on sale, or until I need something else from there to justify it all.  In the meantime, I'm thinking about Addi dpns, which will probably be plentiful at the Fair. Worth a try, right?