Friday, June 29, 2012

Teaching Jill to knit and other stories

Earlier this week I talked a friend into meeting up with me for coffee, and 'just happened'* to suggest a spot close to PassionKnit.

* I really did just happen to suggest it, but I'm totally taking credit for it like an Evil Plot anyway.

Me: You know, there's a knitting store half a block away.  You want to go in and buy some yarn and needles and I'll teach you to knit while we have coffee?

Jill: Sounds great, let's go.

Okay technically it wasn't that easy.  I tried to teach Jill to knit a few months ago... with fingering yarn and teeny tiny needles.  There was no way she was going to be able to keep that up.  (and then her dogs ate the yarn.)

Anyhoo: here we are knitting:

See how Jill's yarn is pulled straight across there while mine is sitting beside a sock cuff?  She is diligent, folks.

It really paid off.  No mistakes!

What you're also seeing here is photographic proof of how the mighty have fallen, aka how the tea drinkers who only ever stray to hot chocolate at Second Cup get swayed by 6 weeks of a course requiring some degree of mental alertness.

(Jill's yarn is 100% wool Noro, and the needles are Knitters Pride, which I'm really impressed by.  Trish, who was also in on the overall scheme to bring Jill over to The Wonderful World of Knitting, was amazed that she is learning with Noro.  But on the upside, the colour changes make it a little more compulsive to keep going, and also the wool has enough bite that it doesn't want to slip off the needles or ladder down if you drop a stitch.)

(Do I also have to tell how both Jill and Trish laughed at me for suggesting Jill choose which needles to buy according to the colour she liked best?)

* * * * *

Living the dream: I saw a girl yesterday wearing a white sundress with red polka dots and a full skirt, riding an old-fashioned mint green bicycle with a big basket on the front.  All she needed a bottle of lemonade in the basket and some yarn and needles sticking out, don't you think?  Not out of the lemonade bottle, that is, but the basket.  Lemonade and yarn do not mix.

* * * * *

I remembered why I bought the candy thermometer for the cottage.  It was so that I can test the water temperature for proofing yeast when I'm baking bread up there this summer.  Because you know, the cottage is a long way from any alternative source of bread.  Does this redeem me at all I wonder?

(because if so, I will feel less guilty about making candy up there too.)

* * * * *

I had an amazing revelation the other day.  I finished a sock except for the toe grafting-shut-of, and admired how much I have left on the ball - not much, but enough for a good margin - and suddenly


it hit me

I was looking a a piece of string.  A very long piece of string that started with a tail and ended with a very small ball and in between had wrapped itself into a magical cloth of loops. 

Knitting: it's just a piece of string. Isn't that wild?

Less obvious in sock #2, but still.  A string!

* * * * *

When I was supposed to be studying and recovering from studying and writing a test,  I was redesigning the Hugs banner again.  The last version was a little too busy for me.  What do you think of this one?

* * * * *

Guys, Tour de Fleece starts in - what, two days now?  One?  And I still haven't joined any groups. I think that this year I just won't, but will spin every day I'm supposed to as though I had.  I've got sooo much fiber I want to spin up, I can't wait.  Except of course that I'm going to because hello, still kinda busy at the moment.

* * * * *

The other thing that is coming up: Fourth of July for my U.S. friends, Canada Day for we Canadians.  And this year I think I'm gonna give myself a very long weekend and not post for a few days - hence this very very long missive.  It's got to last till, oh, Tuesday night maybe?  Wednesday afternoon?

* * * * *

I case you're wondering how I did on my last exam on Monday: I passed!  Just found out myself.  WHEW.  Finally, I can knit in peace... and I really can, because the next part of the process is watching a ton of training videos.  Bliss.

Okay, those are all the stories I have for you today.  Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and I'll see you back here soon!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

If I had planned this better...

When I was casting on two socks to cart around with me I really should have made sure they were from the same yarn.

Because if I had, I would have a nearly complete pair by now.

* * * * *

As I look at this picture I am reminded (like the notes spread over my desk and under my elbows weren't a clue) that the nearly-done course I am still enduring is made up of two tests, equally difficult even if one takes a little less time to write, like the sport-weight mohair sock on the right there has fewer stitches in it.

Two tests nearly done, two socks nearly done, my brain veryvery close to tooootally done.


I drank coffee this morning even though I don't drink coffee.  I got caffeine shakes and still didn't wake up.

* * * * *

Frankly I'm quite impressed that, no matter how boring my posts may have been this past week, I kept posting.  Today however I am changing tactics: posting on a Sunday, then skipping the next day or two so I can focus on not having to repeat the test I am writing tomorrow (and subsequently recovering from writing it the first and hopefully only time.)

This is mostly because I feel like writing right now, when I have time to convince myself this dawdling isn't going to cost me, and I will not feel like writing tomorrow at 6am when I know all my dawdling is costing me big time, already.

Knitter know thyself!

* * * * *

Trish is trying* to persuade me that we should go to Rhinebeck this year.  I'm not going to link the name of this I'm sure perfectly charming town which hosts a mad woolly textile frenzy in the fall because I don't want to drive anybody else to distraction.

* 'trying' so far has consisted of a link sent via e-mail and, the next day, the phrase "I'm not really kidding".  Trish is subtle. 

* * * * *

In between classes and in one case during - oops - I've been ordering and receiving boxes of Things to take up to the cottage.  One of them contained a really good candy thermometer because apparently I felt I needed one of those.

(this is probably why I don't camp.  people whose idea of preparing for four days far from a corner store is to plan for a steady supply of treats do not belong in the woods.)

* * * * *

This year's Tour de Fleece is starting really soon.  Like - 6 days from now?  And I have not been training except for buying lots of fleecy things which doesn't really count I don't think (does it?)  I wonder whether I will be any better at the start this time than I was last year, after so many months away from my wheel?

Maybe I should wrap this up, write out some more notes, and go spin.   It's a beautiful day for spinning and a girl can only read so many ratio formulas that don't relate to a wheel, heh.

* * * * *

they sell fleece at Rhinebeck.  Just sayin'.

* * * * *

Okay guys, I gotta go be responsible.  Have a GREAT week.  I'll be back in a few days, possibly with a magically finished Thing to show off.  Even if it's just a solitary sock.  In the meantime wish me luck, whether for the hypothetical sock or for the not-hypothetical exam!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fast vs slow, in life and knitting

You know the whole Slow Food thing?  I've got slow knitting.  Literally.  I'm struggling to think of it as a good thing (better than no knitting) but this morning I had a new insight into the distinction between fast and slow I thought might interest you too. 

Example: Garden

I had this great idea when I landscaped my tiny front yard to tie together a lot of different areas with a limited colour palette, and planted only stuff with white flowers on green foliage. The process was Slow, because I had to track down flowers that bloom white but like shade, neglect, and traffic, because after I’ve got plants into the ground I tend to lose interest in actually spending time around them.

(translation: I am prone to crippling hayfever.)

When I found some poppies that bloom white, I had to find a place for them, which ended up being a tiny front corner that gets more sun than the rest of the place.  I got a bloom from each of the two I planted the first year; after that the second one died, and gradually the first one started to spread.

This year I counted three buds on it, and then suddenly five, and then seven tightly closed weird looking buds, and one morning I went to go out the front door and


Two of them had bloomed.

It didn’t take long for some bees to get in there and do what bees do:  check out the dust scattered around there already. 

I find the furry oversized buds of this plant seriously creepy-looking, but the blooms remind me of beautifully worked china saucers for delicate but impractical teacups.

The very next morning, there were three teacups:

 ... and by the end of the day I took this, the petals from the first two were all over the sidewalk, their work done for the year.

Meanwhile, while I was distracted by the poppies, these (non-creepy) flowers burst forth:

(Yeah, I know.  I snuck some purple in there.)

And now they're done too.  Bye bye buttons!

Lesson Learned

It's easy for the flower stage of a plant to pass as the noteworthy part, the time when they are pretty and cheery, but actually it serves a very distinct purpose in the plant's life cycle.  Done to scale, it's not unlike the time it takes for a woman to grow a baby - there is a lot more about that woman and the span of her life that is noteworthy, but the growing-a-baby stage is pretty visible and imagination-capturing, so people may notice and fuss over her more then than they might when, say, she is a solitary life form quietly reading a newspaper on a crowded bus.

Bottom line:  some parts of life seem to go SUPER fast, others super slow.  But it's all part of the same thread.  

And Back To Knitting

Right now, it may be taking forever to finish anything I've started to make, but I know that when the time is right all my various socks are going to leap off the needles and onto my feet.  The fact that part of the process was slow doesn't mean it was bad at all. Just that it's a different part.

(and as I type that, it occurs to me that the same idea applies to the writing I'm not doing now either.)

Aren't we lucky there's always something pretty happening, somewhere?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweet Dream Pie

Remember the days before the republication of The Principles of Knitting, when  it could cost $200 or more to get a copy of the out-of-print edition?  I was thrilled to track down a copy for $85, and in amazing shape too.

Well, hello, Sweet Dream Pie, by Audrey Wood (illustrations by Mark Teague).

I didn't pay $85 for this well-loved former library book, but I've been hunting this title for about a year and have regularly seen copies going for $120 or more.  And this for a book with no tips about the best way to increase a stitch in your knitting!

There is just something about this collaboration that can't help but capture you - or me, at any rate.  I first spotted it a few years ago at the library when the cover drew me in.

Here is one of my favourite pages near the front of the book, when Pa convinces Ma that it's time to bake another edition of her Sweet Dream Pie.

You may not be able to tell at this resolution but the pie pan itself is so magical, every sleeping cat on the street outside opens one eye the moment the lid of its storage trunk is open.

And here are Ma and Pa prepping the pie for baking:

The filling is basically every sweet candy imaginable.  I'm a good 35 years from my rabid candy-eating days and I still want to hang out at their house if that's what they store in the kitchen cupboards.

When the pan goes into the oven (at the oven's special Pie setting) the heat from the baking unfolds into the street and blankets every other resident in a heat so intense they have to resort to extreme measures to battle it.  For several pages, people are melted onto pavement or flattened onto deck chairs in the shade hoping for a little breeze.

And that's where I got caught.  The pictures are so evocative! and it's exactly how you feel on every hot day you've ever lived through, with the added bonus of the magical anticipation you'd like to have felt.  The air is buzzing with the something exciting that is about to happen, and you can't wait to see what... except the picture you're looking at, and the next one too, have so many little side jokes in them you just can't turn the pages as fast as you might like.

It was a hot summer day when I first read the book, and on a cold grey day in the fall I remembered that heat and sat down with the book again.  In the winter, the book made me feel warm, and in the summer, it made being hot bearable.  I lost count of how many times I went back to the library for some Sweet Dream Pie until


no book.

No book next time either, or the time after that.  Finally it dawned on me: it was no longer in circulation, and if I ever wanted another slice I was going to have to hunt down a copy of my own.  So what you're looking at is my reward for getting through the first part of my course, which I guess says something about my maturity... or maybe, my priorities?

All I can tell you is that I am very very happy to have this book back in my hands, and in the hottest imaginable week, too. 

But I do wonder why this book hasn't been re-released.  Aren't the kids who were reading it when it came out 20 or so years ago as noisy as knitters were about Principles?  They've got to be close to having babies now themselves, to whom they will want to read their favourite childhood books... so, maybe its time is coming.  And if it does, I would definitely buy a backup copy.

Meanwhile: you can read about how the book was illustrated here, and find more of Audrey Wood's books here, and more of Mark Teague's books hereSuch talented people!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dream Vacation and other distractions

Appealing though it would be to do this year's Toronto Transit Commission Knitalong with Trish for a holiday - and it is appealing; I'm not being sarcastic here - my dream vacation shoots a little higher than that.

Maybe not quite as high as a knitting or spinning retreat on the west coast somewhere with top teachers in an amazing resort (which should probably be my dream vacation since the 'dream' part dispenses with any need to find time, money, or the will to get on a plane) but pretty high.

Betcha can't guess so I'll tell you what it really is.

Mary's Dream Vacation

My dream vacation is to save up just a ton of cash - enough to do a tour of Europe without booking flights with air miles or staying in budget hotels - and block off maybe two weeks? or just a week if it's still not enough money?

and go to my cottage.

Right after committing all the money to a makeover team to come in and

clean my house!

ohhhh, wouldn't it be bliss, to sit on a deck overlooking a still lake, spinning wheel at your feet or knitting in your hands or - let's be crazy - both, while somebody else magically turns your house into something magazine worthy, or at least tidy?

Seriously - this is only week five of my course and already my house is a shambles.  Earlier today I was shifting stuff from one part of the floor to another and could briefly see some roving I'd drafted out to spin lo these many months ago and suddenly thought:

Omigosh, I forgot I have a spinning wheel and I know how to use it!

(the wheel being obstructed for the duration by a giant stack of freshly laundered cottage linens.)

I'm so far behind now on just keeping the stray recyclables under control I don't know that I could ever catch up.  Also I'm just really tired of studying.  The thought of figuring out enough food for several days without any errors or omissions because the nearest corner store is a 25 minute drive isn't compelling given my current level of brain flexibility, but I bet I could survive on popcorn and tea if I really had to, and I knew somebody was clearing off my sofa for me.


Speaking of which, you'll never guess what I found today when I did, under duress, tidy up the part of the sofa where I knit.

spider legs.

just the legs.

recognizable because they were really giant stripey legs.

NO idea where the rest of the spider went but my guess is: into the fabric of the shorts I wore yesterday.


End of Digression

In my dream vacation I would of course not be doing any laundry, since there is no washer at the cottage.  I would instead be making things like broccoli salad with chopped cabbage and raisins and seeds in a creamy dressing, like the one I treated myself to from one of the local posh food shops (STARS if you're wondering, Trish) on my way home from getting an old filling replaced yesterday.

Brief Dental Review
New dentist - awesome
Old dental assistant - awesome as always
Comfort rabbit - effective
Musical Distraction - also effective
Pain level - brief soreness when the freezing came out
Irresponsible Behaviour Factor - 2 candy bars consumed post-op

The dream vacation would also feature canoeing.  Nothing like being out on the middle of the aforementioned peaceful lake imagining oneself a great distance from a whirring vacuum.  Knitting would possibly be involved while canoeing; after all Elizabeth Zimmerman did it and while there is nobody quite like her and never will be, she at least proved the point and paved the way.

And finally: the dream vacation would feature no mice.  There are mice at the cottage, because the cottage is in the woods, woods which apparently now also feature black bears, which I guess I should also consciously exclude from the dream because hello, Bears.

There you have it.  It's true, a trip to England would be both dreamy and wonderful, but I'd still come back to a super messy house.  And at this moment?  I just think it would be amazing to be creative in a super pretty one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winter socks for a summer day

We're heading into a heatwave where I live, so naturally I am making progress on my wool/mohair winter socks.

In fact not only am I knitting winter socks, I'm celebrating the arrival yesterday of some more yarn from my Stoddart Family Farm wool share:

(The sock's yarn is also from Stoddart.)  This new colourway is called Sunlight Ocean.

I love how the colour just pops from muted backgrounds, don't you?

Okay, back to the socks.  I am breaking my heart over these things even though they are, as you can see, inside-out gorgeous.

What happened was, I got up to where I thought the heel should probably go for the amount of yarn I had left on the cake, and decided the leg wasn't long enough, which meant I was probably going to have to go longer and do a contrast heel and toe.  So: off to the yarn cupboard to see what scraps I could use for the purpose.

And that's when I started to clue in: this yarn that is becoming socks is the very same yarn I bought to make my much-longed-for (and much-feared) twined mittens.


Not only because the colours will go with every coat I own, but because there was a lot of yardage in this particular skein, more so than the others, and I don't know how much yarn I'll need for a pair of twined mitts as compared to a pair of socks.

So: carry on, or rip out?

I'm carrying on.

Ironically, it turns out there is way more in this cake than in a similar sock I knit previously, so I don't need to do the heel and toe differently at all - which is lucky, because none of my other Stoddart boot weight yarns are really a good contrast for this one.

Oh yarn, your ways are mysterious indeed.  Or maybe what I mean is: overthinking is overrated?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cucumber sandwich socks

On the weekend I put some super fresh bread around some super crisp cucumber slices and the colours made me think of some socks I'm knitting.

Of course when I put them together, there wasn't quite so much resemblance, especially with that gaping hole in the bread there.  Isn't it amazing how powerful yeast is?

I'm sure I had cucumber sandwiches earlier in my life, but the first I vividly remember is a version with cream cheese on a bagel in a coffee shop with my cousin one weekday afternoon when I was still in university and she was writing speeches for the provincial government.  Note the exciting two words in there:



She had the job of my dreams - writing full time, getting paid for it, being free to go to coffee shops in the middle of the day.  Just being near her gave me hope that some day I too could be so lucky.  So as you can imagine, that cucumber sandwich had all my aspirations in it (as well as being a revelation of delicousness, because I had never had that combination before: sheltered youth alert!)

As it turned out I never did get a full-time paying writing job that allowed me to hang out in coffee shops, but I've had halfway combinations of those things over the years so I can't complain.  And now I also have some very nice socks to knit as well.

I am loving how the fabric is coming out, with those flecks of bread crust.

I am also loving the tiny happy bag I'm keeping the sock in as I knit.  The embroidery feels very Lucy to me owing to all the colours of Attic 24 being in it, and that is a very nice aspire-y element too because I am dreaming of a cottage bright with cheery inviting cushions and bunting like Lucy has in her holiday camper.

And soft?

Oh my goodness these socks are soft.  The colour may be a one-off - I'm not sure - but the yarn itself is readily available, even online, from Biscotte et Cie - it's La Douce, made from merino, cashmere, and nylon.

I've been knitting a lot with that base yarn lately, dyed by different artists - I should write about that one day this week so you don't get stuck with something educational about equity funds being a higher risk than ones of the money market variety.

(kidding! I would never stick you with something like that.  apart from telling you I wouldn't, heh.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Audio to knit by

Before I share links to some great audio accompaniment I've found for knitting, I want to tell you:

I passed my exam!

(with a pretty strong mark too, a reflection of what a awesome teachers I had.)

Also, I wanted to thank Pauline for commenting yesterday that her other friends in financial planning have creative backgrounds.  I'm pretty sure that is not true of anybody in the office I'm joining, and I've feared that I'm saying goodbye to that part of myself for a while with this change in my workday.  Your telling me that has really helped.

And Gina, you really helped me too by normalizing the notion of stashed yarn as an end in itself.  I really did buy my loom to help use up stash!  It was making me feel SO guilty.  Just that one small anecdote made me feel like it's okay to have a lot of yarn around, especially if I have less time to knit it.

(of course this is less comforting if the moths I keep finding around the house the last few days are raising young to feed on the stash, but that's a problem to sort out after I finish writing this.  I expect to find two or three around this time of year, but I think I'm up to six already, and they seem extremely attached to folded-up clothes and towels. Cotton ones, but still: GAH.)

Audio Links

The last few days, between moth rescues and tests, I've been consumed by a need to hear insightful people share their life experiences. 

It's that old wise man/wise woman thing - as a kid, I loved the stories where a mysterious adult had all the answers but simply guided the child protagonist(s) on his/her own path to their objective.  These days the Wise Person has taken the form of people who know a lot about how the world works from some angle or another, and share their knowledge with wonder, as though they too are enchanted by what they see.

And that is why I cannot wait to sit down with the rest of the 9-part interview I found posted on YouTube with Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  I was the wrong age for that show so I didn't know much about it, or him, and the thought of a 4.5 interview with him would not have made me sit up and take notice until I clicked on Part 1 yesterday when I should have been doing something else.  What a loss that could have been!  And the interviews run in 25-30 minute segments so there's plenty of knitting time before you get up to click the next instalment.

Fred Rogers Interview, Part 1
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 2
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 3
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 4
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 5
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 6
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 7 is missing for some reason, if you find it let me know!
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 8
Fred Rogers Interview, Part 9

In sort of related hunting, I found an 18-minute video of neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor describing the stroke that revealed how humans relate to each other and how to make our lives more loving and happy.  If that isn't what Hugs is all about I don't know what is, so I had to share it even though it's been out a few years and I'm pretty sure I'm the last to hear it.

Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight, via TED

This last one is a sad/happy mix.  Colin Firth reading (happy!!) The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (sad-ish.)  I read this book SO many times when I was young, and while I don't know whether it will play as well for me today after rather a lot of life experience - hello, Colin Firth's voice while I knit?  He could be reading an ingredient list.

The End of the Affair, via

Have a great weekend guys, and please accept my best wishes for no moths in your house!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Explaining knitting, and other stories

Explaining Knitting

Yesterday I was knitting near two very small brothers who apparently found what I was doing to be much, much more interesting than Madagascar (which was playing on a nearby TV at the time.)  So flattering!  Eventually the older one asked,

"Are you sewing, or knitting?"

And on the spot I came up with an answer I still really like today.  I said, "I'm knitting; when you are sewing, you put the thread through a hole in the needle, and when you are knitting, you put the needle through a hole in the thread."

I wonder if he liked the balance of that as much as I do?

(I was knitting a cashmere blend sock, incidentally.  He definitely liked how soft it is, and was also astonished by the thought of a Sock being Made By A Person.)

(must say, I'm still a little astonished by that myself.)

* * * * *

Inspirations and Imagery

I've been super loving the music videos uploaded to YouTube by melodysheep, or (for?) Symphony of Science.  I found them when the Mr. Rogers Garden of Your Mind video just started to go viral - love that one too - and am especially crazy for The Quantum World which is so catchy even though it doesn't help me understand Quantum Theory.

My favourite line in The Quantum World is Brian Cox saying, 'that's a wonderful and significant story'.  Never mind what 'that' refers to - isn't it just a beautiful idea, for a story to evoke the emotional heights of wonder and the depth of meaning both at the same time?  I would love to be able to write a story like that.

I mention my YouTube obsession because in Ode to the Brain (warning for the squeamish: this one has actual brains in it) there is a reference to our delicate but hardworking neurons as 'an enchanted loom'.

This is a consolation to me because  I have an unenchanted loom sitting about five feet away from me right now which I have no time even to set up, and won't have, for another few weeks yet.  Nice to know that I'm sort of weaving anyway.

Another reason to love Ode to the Brain is Jill Bolte Taylor describing the work that our brains do with the information pouring in through our senses as 'an enormous collage'.  Which is how I experience a lot of sensory information - it stands alone, but near enough to other very separate ideas to form new perspectives and insights.

* * * * *

Fear Your Knitting

If only I could apply my testing skills to my knitting - or rather, if I could approach it with a similar degree of fear.

I don't know what the rules are for financial advisors where you are, but in Ontario, just to sell life insurance - a pretty key part of most financial plans, but not the only one - you have to have a license.  The test you have to write to earn it lasts four hours (no bathroom breaks) and covers 140 questions which are really, really hard.  You have to know a lot about different vehicles for growing money, but also for betting against risks to financial security, and after you've learned just a crazy number of formulas you end up having to split hairs between two effective solutions for a particular need so as to pick the one that is 'right'.  And even though that is stressful after the two-hour mark when you are regretting the coffee you drank I think it's a good thing, because money isn't something you want to mess up with.

(I didn't drink coffee, incidentally.  In fact part of my personal test preparation was practicing getting through four hours without a bathroom break.)

Here is how this connects with knitting:

I wrote that exam yesterday, and I approached each question calmly and methodically until I was confident either in the rightness of my answer or the completeness of my effort.  Because I have learned that you put a certain amount of time in to understanding what is being asked of you, and if you guess at an answer and come back later to for a second opinion on your earlier logic you have to understand it all over again, and that just takes up so much time.

Compare this to: knitting without following the directions on the pattern, making a mistake, ripping back to it to fix it, and knitting back up again to where you were before.  Sound familiar?  I do that all the time, and now I'm thinking calm and methodical is better.  More peaceful, too.  I'm going to really try to take the testing approach to knitting for a while and see how it sits.

(In case you're wondering, I don't know yet whether I passed the exam. I should do in another three hours or so. Not that I'm watching the clock or anything.)

* * * * *

Nothing Lasts Forever

I had a sad earlier this week when I realized that my favourite must-read-every-day blog, tiny happy, is going more or less dormant.  Melissa is going to study journalism and won't have time to write it every weekday anymore, though with luck she will still be sewing up things sometimes for her shop.  Lucky I treated myself to all those knitting bags when I did!

The whole world of blogs is a bit funny, isn't it. Who reads them, why they read them, what goes into writing them, the pressure to keep writing them - it's social networking in some ways, but newspaper- or magazine-y in others.  I often look at what I do here as a special interest column, but over the weekend I felt I'm sometimes more of an essayist.  I know that the things I most want to write about are often not the things people most want to read about, but after many many years of writing I also know that you have to be yourself and write accordingly.  When I am reading others' blogs I often wonder how they feel about this.

Craft blogs are especially intriguing to me not just for the craft ideas and often gorgeous photographs, but for the inspiration in the life of the host him or herself.  The process of making things and sharing them online is unbelievably time-consuming - so difficult to do when you have other commitments like children or a full-time job or just plain bills to pay.  In the near term it can be a mental and emotional survival tactic in the midst of other demands, but it's hard to maintain, which is I'm sure why many craft bloggers I read have found ways to team up and share blogs through shiftwork.

If you make things from necessity you will find time, but often when I look at the cost in time of making a Thing versus buying it, I know I'm really just indulging myself by choosing 'make' instead of doing paying work and just buying the Thing.  There is such a cost to too much of that indulgence.  So: people who keep up craft blogs in a regular way have my utter admiration because I know how much they are giving to their readers, and I don't grudge it when they stop, or cut back.  I'm grateful for the inspiration I've had from them.

Just as doors close and windows open though, I did notice a rather thrilling development in the little world of Blogs I Read.  Because Amanda of Soulemama roomed with Stephanie of Yarn Harlot at Squam.  This is like having the characters of your two favourite TV shows guesting on each other's programs, and I can't help but feel it's going to lead to some fun reading over time; as Stephanie notes, they share many values, but I'm sure I'm not the first person to feel that their writing styles could not be more different.

* * * * *

I am pretty sure there are three or four more little stories I could tell you this morning - finally! free space in my head now that that test is done - but I have to sit down with a new textbook for yet another test, this time on mutual funds.  And I am pretty sure you don't want to hear about mutual funds any more than I want to write about them, so with that I will leave you.

Hope you have a wonderful day, and if you do check out any of those YouTube links or the ones from Squam, I know it will have some inspiration in it too!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Plodding along

I had a great plan for telling you a pretty story today with lots of nice pictures, but Blogger is Not In The Mood apparently so I will just give you a midweek update on how things are going here a la Hugs.

First up: there is studying.  STILL.  I have about three weeks (or maybe two?) to go in my course but I am writing a big exam today on the first section of it so there will be some closure on a chunk of the information now lodged in my head. 

Second, except it's never really second is it, I am knitting a little every day.  Even though there technically isn't any time and my hands are sore from all the note-taking.  As a result I have painted myself into a corner with several socks either up to the heel or at that difficult point of, Will This Leg Be Long Enough? coupled with, Do I Have Supplementary Yarn? if the answer is No, and the only way to get to Yes is to find something that will eke out the supply of the primary yarn.

This is making the concept of Panic Knitting a bit hazardous.  I'm never quite sure when I'm going to be on to a heel and whether it's going to be a straightforward one I can do to calm me down before the next test (there are so many tests!)

So perhaps I should wrap this up and go looking for another sock to cast on asap?  Or more to the point, some free needles on which to do it?

Hope you're having a lovely Wednesday with no tests in it!  And perhaps Blogger will be more agreeable to pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Viola socks

Before I started up with the two pairs of stocking stitch socks the other day, I cast on a different pair of socks with some of my newest Viola yarn.  I was a bit grudging about it because I chose the yarn in question for its proximity to where I was sitting and not because I wanted to knit with really fine yarn. 

And not just fine yarn, but way finer than I usually use for socks, such that I had to go down to my 2.25 mm square needles – the ones I bought before I knew that I really have to go up a size to get the same gauge with squares as I do with the traditional round variety.

Also: it’s got nylon in it, which I normally try to avoid.  I prefer straight wool if I can get it, (though I do love the nylon in my Biscotte Felix yarns because that stuff is so squishy.)

What I did love about this yarn was the colour.  I am pretty sure this is the skein Emily was a bit apologetic about when I bought it, telling me it had been something of a mistake in the dye pot that she had tried to fix.

Can you imagine??

Funny how it’s the stuff you think is a bit of a tradeoff that turns out to be the stuff you can’t put down.   I had seven inches on this first leg before I even cared enough about measuring and frankly, I would really like to be knitting a lot more of it now please, instead of writing about it.

In fact it’s the tiny nature of the stitches that has me the most smitten.  The fabric I’m getting just feels so elegant and expensive, never mind the way these two colours merge in and out of each other.

I realize it is cruel of me to tell this story now that Viola yarns are available only by sale or trade from other knitters’ stashes at Ravelry.  It’s probably also cruel of me to be disappointed that I don’t have more in my own stash, except for stuff a teeny bit heavier and 100% merino and pretty similar in colour-nature, which I suspect I will be knitting as soon as ever I can.   


Hope you have a great day anyway!

Monday, June 11, 2012

No apologies for stocking stitch

The thing that puts a new post up on this blog every weekday morning is my personal need to write something every day.  It’s actually painful for me not to do it; on weekends I’m like, Ohhh! Weekend! until about Sunday afternoon and then it’s all itchy twitchy when will I write in my blog again and what will I be saying?

I could write other things, of course.  It’s just that I don’t.  So this is it, and the only downside in the face of all that YAY is:

gotta knit something interesting to look at

it’s a knitting blog, gotta have knitting pictures

gotta do some lace, or some cables, or something other than yet another hat

But really I don’t have to worry about that at all, do I. 

(do I?)

Because knitting is beautiful in all its forms. 

Even if all I’m knitting is super simple socks, you know I’m going to be knitting them in super amazing yarn from some amazing person with a gift for colour.  And there will be a bit of me in there too, choosing fibers that are nice to knit with, and if the weather and light are right I’ll be able to take some beautiful pictures even with my current camera which frankly I would really love to have time to research and replace but I don’t because that would be lost knitting opportunities.

So here, look at these nice sock cuffs. 

Yes, I’m knitting socks again. 

And they are plain stocking stitch.

No fancy pattern, no elaborate shaping, just socks I don’t have to think about. You know why? Because it’s that or not knit at all.


And if you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with getting the plain knitting done and making room for the fussier knitting to come later… assuming there is a later with time in it. 

(and if there isn’t? it’s totally better to have plain socks than no socks. said the girl with cold toes.)

(I’ll tell you more about the yarn and stuff another day, when there is more to show, ‘kay?)

Friday, June 8, 2012

I am not bigger than my knitting

That one day last week, I was only sort of joking when I said I could stop knitting tomorrow if I didn’t have so much yarn stash making me feel guilty.  

Actually, a not-insignificant part of me felt like I could stop yesterday.  My hands hurt, the weather was hot, I was too busy even to get sleep, I had huge technological problems I was ill-equipped to address, and I felt like I could use a big chunk of time just to reorganize the stuff that was piling up all over the place at home and in some cases literally tripping me as I dashed about.

Also, I hadn’t updated my Ravelry project page in forever.  There were so many projects I’d started and worked away on without even logging them, so I wasn’t getting that little rush of pride I used to feel when I looked at that page and knew I’d accomplished something in the past few weeks.

Overall, I guess you could describe my mood as C R A N K Y.

Which isn’t the usual state of affairs around here.

Then I got to the point in my course where I could sit and knit and watch a screen while listening to my speakerphone and – h’mmm. 


I probably got to knit about an hour over the course of that first day, but by the end of it, even though I was still making time for the course by eating junky food and not exercising, I felt a bit better.

Calmer.  More like I’d achieved something tangible – something tangible that also felt nice in my hands.  I felt normal.

So I did some more knitting.  That’s when I managed to finish not one but two pairs of socks.  I started new socks, not because I need more socks, but because I noticed I seem to need to knit and that was the fastest route to doing it.  Also, I updated my Ravelry page (mostly) and felt kinda proud of myself.

So: now I know.  Knitting is just like healthy food and exercise and sleep. 

I may want to not sleep when I could read or watch a movie instead,

and I may hate (or, to be accurate, really really hate) doing sit ups,

and I may not feel like making a salad when I could just whip together a peanut butter and jam sandwich every time I notice I’m hungry,

and I may not have time to knit,

but life is so much better when I do.

Hope your life is a bit better every day too - and that your weekend is the best!