Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What we talk about when we talk about knitting

One of the many nice things about knitting in a group is the way every subject of conversation is filtered through the lens of knitting. 

Socks, being reflective.  Socks do that sometimes, have you noticed?

And also: the random way the conversation jumps around.  It's like your brain activity steps up as you work those needles, and more things occur to you that you absolutely have to share or ask about.

Yes.  These socks have a gusset.  Just wanted to be sure you could see it.

If we were knitting together right now, and not just at a computer looking at another set of finished sock pictures (this particular period of stripey sock obsession has nearly run its course, I promise), my contributions to the conversation would start with beets, and not only because of the colours in the socks I'm wearing, which would be beetlike if mixed together.
And that's because I had an amazing beet salad the other day.  Do you like beets too?  This one looked really easy to  replicate at home.  Three kinds of beets, some ripped up kale leaves, the whole thing tossed in a slightly sweet balsamic dressing with a couple of shards of onion, and a little goat cheese on top.  I am so going to put this together for lunch some time.

It makes me really, really happy when the stripes match up, even if it doesn't quite work out at the ankle.

And in related salad news, what does it say about me that I keep buying this other quinoa salad with bits of kale, carrot, raisins, apples, and some mystery substance that crunches like gravel?  Seriously: every time there is at least one bite that makes me think the kale wasn't washed all the way, or that some shards of crumby rock got in there.  I try to source healthy stuff for at least part of every day to compensate for sitting to knit, but I should probably be drawing the line here.

These colours are going to look so great with the rest of my wardrobe, because it's pretty much grey and cement-y too.

Speaking of drawing lines, I knit a couple of weeks ago with a friend who's putting together a home renovation.  It's a lot of work - she had to leave twice to take a call from her builder - but it is going to be worth it because she's managed to work a third-floor studio into the plan and she's going to keep yarn and a comfy chair and bright lamp up there.  Isn't that amazing?  I would love to have a dedicated yarn room.

What do you think of red and turquoise and lavender for a kitchen?

Or an office, since mine has outgrown the 3' x 4' space I've been allocated the last few years.  And I might actually get one because as soon as I get this month's chaos out of the way and before next month's takes hold, I will be talking to architects about drawings for plopping a second floor onto the top of The Tiny House.  It's going to be a lot of work and mean less knitting time for a while, but it will be worth it if I get an office to hide yarn in.

And maybe a lower basement floor so I can put an elliptical trainer in there and scale back on the quinoa/gravel salad?

I don't know why people don't wrap high heeled shoes around stripey socks more often.  The pose looks so great.
Of course, we'll have to move out of the house for at least part of the construction phase, and that means I'll have to shed either some yarn or some sanity, and probably both.  Frantically knitting up my Vesper supply has been a good move in that respect, but it's had a downside too because it's the only knitting I really like to stow in my purse, and I'm knitting on the go more these days than ever.

It's been worrying me, actually. All this time I've looked at other people's Vesper stash on Ravelry and been relieved to see that others have one or two dozen unknit skeins, whereas I've had fewer than six for quite a while now.  Right now I'm down to two and a half, and maybe that's too few.  I mean: what if I run out altogether?

I know it's hard to imagine that ever happening but look...

I've already set up the next two pairs of Vespers.  The day is coming closer.

But wow, in the meantime - isn't it cool to think that something pointy and cake-y can grow up to be socks?

Knitting is so magical.


The finished socks are Abracadabra! from the Vesper Sock Club at Knitterly Things.  To think I left the club for a short time when I realized I wasn't keeping up!  Those were dark days I do not care to repeat.

The second floor will happen in June or so of 2015, assuming I can make the drawings and permits happen in time.  I don't know whether that means the long-suffering porch will also wait another year to get done, but either way - given the brief move out and the new house afterward, there will be some new photography backdrops coming out of this experience.  Yay!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Handknit hats: colour matters

Picture this: dark-haired girl + tangerine handknit chevron texture hat in a crunchy farm-type wool.  Sigh.

I'm sorry I'm making you do that work instead of showing you a photograph but I couldn't randomly whip out my camera as she walked past me one day this past winter - I was too busy restraining myself from taking that hat off her head to examine the stitch.  The combination of colour, texture, and yarn was so flawless, I can recall it perfectly even now.

Anyway the image isn't as important as this insight: if you're going to knit a hat, make the most of the opportunity and pick a colour that is fabulous for you.

handknit hat color choice
Fabulous colour, slightly itchy yarn: the not quite perfect hat
Or for whoever is going to be wearing it, of course - shouldn't assume you're like me and knit for yourself all the time, heh.

My Former, Illogical Hat Philosophy

There are so many schools of thought on how to accessorize an outfit, and I've never been able to master even one of them completely.  Matching your purse and your shoes - that's a rule-to-be-broken that I understand but haven't got the closet storage space to serve, beyond sticking to black shoes and black purses for safety.

When it comes to hats and scarves though, it's always seemed easy.  You either match something in your coat with a solid colour, if the coat is a print or a tweed or something, or you contrast it with a different colour or a stripe or print if the coat is a solid colour.  Or if the coat has some big design feature like contrasting buttons, you can match those.

The Trouble With Simplicity

By this logic, I have for many years worn a black coat so that I could do whatever I wanted with my hats.  I worry about whether the hat is a nice shape, and whether it's warm enough, and that's about all.  But this past winter, I started getting compliments on that crazy huge handspun hat I wore to survive the cold.  I almost never get compliments on my hats, no matter how many I knit, and this particular hat, as I've mentioned more than a few times, looks like a partially deflated Yorkshire pudding.  I couldn't understand it.

And then I looked at myself in the mirror one day and all was revealed.

It's the colour.  The crazy big hat is green, and so are my eyes, not to mention the frames of my glasses.  I'd gotten so used to the green hat I hadn't noticed, but the day before I'd been in front of a different mirror wearing my favourite grey cashmere floppy hat.

And I looked awful.

Even though it's a stunningly beautiful Viola yarn with hits of brown in it, they don't show at the front.  It's just kinda grey and white.  So instead of looking subtle and lovely, the grey clashes with my hair, which (in spite of encroaching grey there too) is still mostly brown with bits of copper in it.  It didn't do anything for my glasses either, which in addition to the green have arms of that same coppery shade.  My skin tone is more pink than anything, and the grey just washed it out.  Bleah.


Back in the day, everybody I knew was having their colours done, and afterward they chose accessories with aplomb.  Maybe it's worth doing that, and buying (or spinning!) hat knitting yarn in the best possible shades?

Or maybe it's enough to pick up your eye colour, or favourite lipstick colour, or maybe even whatever you picked for your glasses, assuming they're not just silver metal.


I love my grey hat, but I have a feeling I'm going to be waiting for the rest of my brown hair to turn white before I go wearing it again.  Which, with luck, will not happen in time for the next round of cold weather.  And you know what that means: it's time to knit more - and more colourful - hats.

Like... oh, I don't know... tangerine ones?

Maybe when this round of crazy schedule is done.  For now: this is enough colour talk from me on a Monday morning.  Go have a lovely day knitting something gorgeous and flattering, and I'll see you back here again on Wednesday!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Knitting Aids: a film and audiobook resource list

Even people who don't love reading love a good story, Mary said, opening the weekend with a sweeping generalization.

(I still think it's true, though.)

Also: it seems not unreasonable to assert that many knitters are multitaskers.

Be honest.  Who among us can stand not to be productive while doing something otherwise undemanding?  I personally know several knitters who took up the craft specifically so they'd have something to do at games or other sit-and-wait activities. For knitters,  films and audiobooks or even, if they are blessed with a high degree of commitment and/or manual dexterity, regular books can justify what would otherwise be just knitting (horrors!)

Films and audiobooks are responsible for all the things I've knit so far this year, and there are a lot of those things (26 at last count, in just 15 weeks.)  So today I thought I'd share some of my favourite knitting aids in case you might enjoy them too.

Costume Drama Miniseries

Bleak House
Dickens, given the British miniseries treatment with great acting and fabulous costumes.

North and South
Gaskell, ditto on the miniseries treatment but pretty much dripping with romance and wow, seriously fabulous costumes, or maybe I just loved the scarf-over-coat treatment in an early North scene.  Also some really nice trains.

I have to say, I found some of the characters in this story maddeningly dim when it came to managing their personal affairs - but the plot moved well and the scenery was fantastic.

The Mayor of Casterbridge
This is another story whose conflict relies on the characters' near complete lack of self-awareness or understanding of others.  Still: absorbing, and extremely well-acted, and offering loads of knitting time - what more do you want than that?

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Shorter than the miniseries above, but still: great costume drama.  Yay!

Other hours-long yums you probably already know about:

Call the Midwife
Lark Rise to Candleford


The More The Merrier
The plot of this gem turns on the wartime shortage of accommodations in Washington, D.C, and the resulting throwing-together of Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea.  What can I tell you? It's just charming.

Talk of the Town
Another Jean Arthur movie, this time with Cary Grant and Ronald Colman.  So much fun.

Great theme music, Gene Tierney, and Dana Andrews in one of my two favourite performances by him (the other being The Best Years of Our Lives.)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (since we're on the subject of Gene Tierney)
I love the theme music to this one, too.  Any good romance story has to have a good reason why the relationship won't work: here, it's that half the partnership is dead.  You know of course that they'll work it out somehow, but it's still a great movie to knit along to.

Audiobooks and otherwise

You can get these things on CD, and there are apps for for practically every sort of device to listen to them as an audio file from Audible, Amazon, or the iTunes store.  And probably many other places as well which we would like to support so they stay in business, yes?  I'm linking here to Audible files at Amazon, because Amazon has so very many customer reviews for your decision-making reference.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd
I won't lie: this historical novel narrated by two different female characters - a slave and her sometime mistress - ran just a little bit long for me.  I wanted to hear what happened next, and the narration is amazing, and the story itself is absorbing, but one of the main characters is presented as (and was apparently in real life as well) incredibly slow to act on her objectives.  At times, one might even say wishy-washy.  It's still well worth reading or listening to, just - be prepared to want to shake her.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
This is pretty much a romance novel that pits a working-class English girl against a more refined, but suicidal and quadriplegic, English man.  I know that sounds like a downer, but it's not at all written that way and the narration is superb.  Also it's one of the books I heard the longest time ago, while being one of the ones I remember best, which is a pretty strong endorsement.

600 Hours of Edward, by Craig Lancaster
Edward has Asberger's and occupies himself with a lot of lists and rituals, such that after the first chapter I thought, There is no way I can stand 600 Hours of Edward.  After the second chapter, I wished there were more like 900 Hours.  Great narration, too. 

This is an abridged version of Georgette Heyer's novel which would be an awful thing if it weren't narrated by Richard Armitage, whose capacity to produce a huge variety of distinct character voices in addition to top-notch narration is deeply impressive.  I'm pretty sure I've now bought everything he's narrated, but Sylvester is my favourite.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
I've listened to several books by Neil Gaiman, who is one of the few writers I've come across capable of narrating their own work.  That is a complete understatement regarding his skills on the reading front, by the way.  He is fantastic.  I also enjoyed The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere (as an e-book) and The Anansi Boys (ditto.)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
There were a lot of things about this coming of age story that made me sad, but I wanted to listen to all of it, and since that's ultimately the point of storytelling I feel it belongs on today's list.  It's got a great narrator, too.

Knitting Aids In Progress (aka, what I'm reading now)

A Dirty Job, by Christopher Moore
A young widower/new dad gets stuck unexpectedly with the job of being a sort of assistant to Death.  Hilarity ensues.  Truly: this is a comedy, and the narration is fantastic.  There is a lot of very creative and enthusiastic swearing though so if you're still interested after I've said that - you might have to rely on earphones, depending on who's around when you're listening.

The Seamstress, the memoir of Sara Tuvel Bernstein
The true story of this amazing woman who survived Ravensbruck is riveting, but the narration is absolutely right, too.  I feel like I'm listening to a much-loved elderly neighbour telling me about her life over tea and coffee cake, and even though it's a painful life, she is just such a positive force it feels uplifting to hear about it.

... and an e-book

This is probably not something everybody is going to want to try, but I was given an iPhone a few weeks ago and it turns out I can prop it up on something, then sit back and knit while flipping along the screen-sized pages of an e-book.  And enjoy the book without dropping stitches, to boot.  So this is what I'm reading now, and can so far recommend:

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
This so-called YA book is the story of two friends in WWII - one is a pilot, the other a captured spy.  And they're women.  The reading pace of the audio sample I heard emphasized my impression of it as sombre subject matter, but I decided to trust the great reviews and buy it as an e-book.  Turns out it's funny, even when punctuated by references to torture, which is quite a feat.  Can't wait to read the rest.

Hope there's something in here that gets you through the weekend.  I myself expect to be flat-out swamped and lucky to watch or listen to anything, let alone knit, before Monday, but we live in hope, right?

Take care and I'll see you here again in a couple of days!

(ps: the socks are made from Vesper sock yarn again... 'Thankful' colourway.  and let me tell you, I I'm especially thankful to have bought a new linen sweater to match the orange stripe.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Little Bunny introduces some Ferryboat Mitts

Wednesday glamour shots have become kind of a routine here, so to break the seemingly nonstop flow of handknit socks I thought we'd look at some lovely Ferryboat Mitts from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas...

fingerless gloves, Churmouse Yarns and Teas

as introduced by Little Bunny.

(Sorry - I kind of caught him by surprise.  He didn't know the camera was coming along when I invited him out to play in the new gloves.)

Have I introduced Little Bunny before?  I'm sure I've mentioned him - he was sitting on top of my Easter basket last year, and on impulse I slipped him into my coat pocket as I was leaving for the airport the following day for my trip to Italy.  Turns out he's a fantastic travel companion and just right for a nervous or stressful moment.  He's tagged along to dental appointments too.  Basically he's been long overdue for some fun times outside, is what I'm getting at here.

Plus, after watching the winter unfold for months from the window, he really needed to smell some springtime air.

I was a little mean about teasing him that I'd hidden carrots in the stitches of the gloves...

So I made it up to him with some dancing...

handspun yarn, fingerless gloves

and a slide down the banister...

and hide and seek around the tree.

Good bunny!

Little Bunny is the smallest version of the long-eared rabbit from Jellycat, the good people responsible for this crazy adorable sheep, and a coordinating black sheep. I can highly recommend Little Bunny's tiny rabbit peers for portable calm when knitting is not an option, and for gifting to a friend in need.  But also: SO CUTE.

Even cuter than what I think are some seriously cute gloves made from handspun yarn.

Which, in their own right, are almost cute enough to make me want to leap back in and knit the second pair straight away... but man!

that was a lot of ends to run in.

Okay, time for us all to go be productive (even Little Bunny, who's off sowing carrot seeds since I let him down so badly.)  Tomorrow I'm due to tweet another story, and then I'll see you again here on Friday.  Take care and knit well in the meantime!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A look at complicated knitting

As a companion piece to Friday's post on the delights of simple knitting, I'd like to write today about complicated knitting.  In whatever form that means to you.

I'm not talking about Estonian lace, which might fall into the Complicated category for its complex stitches or its equally complex blocking requirements (or even its super tiny yarn knit on super tiny needles, which requires major manual dexterity on the part of any knitter not fully experienced with same).

I'm talking about knitting that complicates your personal process.  A stitch you don't enjoy working, or a yarn size that feels clumsy, or a fiber that seems to plot against you.  The kind of knitting we avoid like it's plague's annoying cousin Melvin.

Sometimes, you have to knit that stuff anyway, because it's what the end user wants, or because the sheer effort involved will make it more meaningful for them.

And sometimes, you have to do it because it will make the end product better even though you really REALLY don't want to.  Gah.

For example, I had an unwelcome inspiration when I started knitting a second pair of Socklits.

I'm excited to have very short socks for this summer, because there are times even on a hot day when you need serious walking shoes and seriously good socks inside them.  Making the legs short reduces heat retention where coverage isn't needed anyway, and it's a pretty fantastic thing that we knitters can dictate that sort of alteration by making our own socks.

However, as you may recall - if not, this picture will surely remind you - my original pair did this sort of puffy outie thing at the cuff which I find unattractive in the extreme.  Maybe if I was still a tiny girl it would be cute, but I'm getting a bit long in the tooth to go frolicking in ankle socks and Mary Janes as it is, and I think this looks pretty weird.  Not enough for me to not wear the socklits, but enough that I didn't really want to knit another pair the same way.

Even though the fix is So Tiresome.

The thing is, I don't love knitting ribbing.  I know it's useful, of course, but still - so boring!  and so much back and forthing.  I tried to learn continental knitting specifically because of how much I dislike knitting ribbing, but I found it made my carpal tunnel wrist issues flare up but good.  So under normal circumstances I avoid ribbing wherever possible, and celebrate when I finish a sock cuff and get on to the straight knit stitches that I can just fly through without thinking much.

The only thing I don't love more than I don't love ribbing?  Ribbing with the knit stitch done through the back loop.  Technically it's not more work, but for some reason I have to think about that stitch every time, and it slows me down.  I only do it at all because it looks so much more elegant than regular knit-stitch ribbing, and in this case, I would have done the ribbing with plain knit stitches if I'd only had my inspiration before I'd done six or so rounds of the fancy kind on each sock.

But it was logical to carry on the ribbing all the way to the heel flap, so I did.

And then I went on with the ribbing after I'd finished the heel, leaving four plain knit stitches on other side of the ribbed central panel.  In a long-ago pair of ribbed socks, I used this trick and I felt it looked cleaner to keep the sides of the socks plain until they reach the top of the foot.

Of course, having slogged through one sock to this point, where I could at least knit through the sides and sole of the sock, I had to get the other one there too.

Oh look! how convenient, keeping it next to my computer. This is a sure fire way for me to make progress on a sock.

And then too, these really are only socklits.  The biggest effort goes into the foot, and then before you know it you're ready for a toe.

Or two toes.

I was tremendously grateful for the toes of these socks, because there's no problem with a puffy outie toe and I could revert to straight knitting.

I even enjoyed the Kitchener stitch!

And now they're done and I don't have to do that much ribbing ever again.  I have one pair of Socklits I know I can wear on a walking day in summer when I really need to go blister-free, and who needs more than one good pair of socks you can wash a lot?

Oh right... sock knitters.  Sock knitters need more than one pair.  And I do have the other half of each of the two existing pairs' yarn cakes that aren't useful for anything else anyway.

Good thing there's so much virtue in complicated knitting, isn't it?

I'll see you here again on Wednesday - tomorrow, I tweet!  Take care of yourself in the meantime and if you do have to knit something you don't love, I hope it's in an especially good cause.

Friday, April 18, 2014

In praise of simple knitting: tips and pics

One bonus of simplifying one's knitting life is that you can really hammer out a ton of finished projects.

As you may have noticed, ahem.  (and, I might add, just wait till you see Monday's post.)

Here's the thing: simple knitting - I mean just straight, on and on knit stitch - moves pretty fast.  And beating the boredom factor is not nearly as tough as you might expect.

A few ideas

1/ multitask: listen to an audiobook or podcast, or watch a program while you knit

2/ use stripey yarn - the arrival of the next colour will jolt you awake again

3/ take it to knit night, or just to visit a friend, because conversation cures most ills

4/ read a book: apparently this is possible, because I very comfortably read a whole novel on my iPhone while knitting socks last week.  It was SO WEIRD! and so much fun too!  Can't wait to find another sufficiently fluffy tome so I can do it all over again.

There's another perk of simplification, and that is the whole 'divide and conquer' thing.  Yes, I'm talking about stash busting. 

I knew this was happening to me really but when I sat down and thought about it as I made my Knitting Planner over the Christmas break I was shocked to realize how much knitting time I lose to mistakes and ripping back, or to failed projects generally.  Those things do not take you through your yarn supply in anything remotely resembling 'a timely manner'.  Especially if you have yarn club yarn turning up at your door every month.

By knitting no-fail projects, you are guaranteed to maximize your knitting time for yarn consumption.  And I am here to tell you: that is gratifying.

Also gratifying: having that yarn transformed into functional knitted objects you can keep or give away but in any case, use.

If your simple knitting project is small enough to be portable, it allows you to meet people.  I know this sounds implausible but it is true.  See, if the knitting is simple, you don't have to look at it while you do it.  And if the knitting is colourful, to keep you from going crazy doing so much simple knitting, other people will want to ask you about it.

Next thing you know, you're chatting with people you might otherwise never have spoken to.

For example: the other day on the subway I was working on some socks not pictured here, and the lady next to me asked me which stop she should get off at for the mall.  We talked that over and then - of course! - she asked what I was knitting.

She got to telling me that she had knit when she was younger, but only ever on straight needles, and when she started to not quite believe my socks would be for me and not a child - I guess they looked small, at the cuff? - the lady standing in front of us joined in.  Her hobby is sports, and one of her teammates knits sweaters.

The three of us chattered away for another five stops.  It was awesome.

 Simple knitting: it's fast, it's portable, it's conversation-starting, and apparently also affordable.  Yes yes, go ahead and laugh - I did! But according to the sporty girl on the subway, it really is.   She says she spends $60 a month to get beat up on a playing field by a bunch of other people.  Compare that to two skeins of really nice sock yarn a month and it's a wash.  Plus, she says, she had just spent another $75 on a jersey.

Say what you will about the expenses associated with knitting and the tools to do same - we don't have to wear anything special to do it.

And that's me for this week!  I know that at least one regular Hugs reader is not going to be having a good weekend at all, so let's the rest of us do our best to have more nice times than usual and send the extra goodness into the ether for her (and any of the rest of us who run into Yuck.)

See you Monday!

Oh - were you wondering about these socks?

I'm guessing many of you are so sick of seeing socks here you don't care any more, but for those who aren't: they are Vespers, colourway "Abracadabra" from last fall's club collection, and they are supposed to be matchy with one of my new scarves and therefore perfect for spring holiday travel packing.

Assuming I figure out something sock-showy-offy to pack.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beautiful, guilt-inducing handknit socks

Probably I will never be able to think of these as anything but 'the guilty socks' even though I don't have reason any more to feel guilty about them.  And even though I could just as easily call them 'the beautiful socks'.

Knitterly Things Vesper sock yarn

That blue stripe, for all that it matches the cold sky in the background, reminds me of good weather and spring and other yummy things.

Things like... purple flowering plants in the nursery in springtime, when you're full of hope about how much you're going to get into the ground and actually take care of this time, watering it and weeding around it and helping it generally to get established so you have more plants than dirt in you garden in September.

(this is something I go through practically every spring, a fleeting faith in myself that inevitably results in a million reasons not to take time to put plants into the ground.)

self-striping sock yarn
Bet you've never seen this pose before.

That's the socks.  The pictures of the socks are making me think of other spring and summer things, like how much maintenance goes into a house during those seasons.  That cobblestone walkway, for example.  Guess who put that in?

Or this pose!  I like to call this one: 'the knitter in repose'.  Like knitters are never in repose.

Yours truly, my friends.  Three. Times.  The second time, I think because I realized it was a bit slanted, and the third time because the guys who did the driveway made it necessary.  And that time, I accidentally touched one of my knuckles with a stone I was about to put in, and about 45 seconds later I noticed it was swelling up but huge and I had to run into the house to get it under cold water.  About two minutes after that I came super close to passing out entirely.  (and then as soon as the egg on my knuckle disappeared, I went out and finished the job.)

That was about ten years ago and the path hasn't shifted since, so I guess I did a pretty good job in spite of not knowing much about laying stone.  Speaking of which, the super heavy flagstone all over the front yard, which I set down before being entirely recovered from pneumonia?  That hasn't shifted either.  Go me, girl of hidden talents and equally hidden good sense.

And then there's the porch, which Ray will be replacing in just a few weeks, around the same time he's repairing the garage door and waterproofing the side of the house and replacing the floor in the basement.

Not A Moment Too Soon, as far as I'm concerned, but looking at all this peeled-away paint reminds me of how often one has to paint a wooden porch one cares to maintain.  It's about five years since I decided this one was going to have to go, and it's held up really well and given a fabulous rustic backdrop to many a sock photoshoot.  When the new one is in, I'm going to have to stay on top of the painting again.


Still: all that work is worth it if you get to have nice weather, right?

Especially nice weather that is sunny and bright and cheerful but a little bit too cold at night for paint to cure properly, and then a little bit warm and softly grey and with just a little bit too high a risk of rain for paint to go on in the first place, so I can spend my time feeling guilty about not getting plants into the garden. And knitting, of course.

I am so ready for those days, and for the soft perfume of budding fruit trees and soil and damp breezes you only get in spring.  That's what these socks make me think of, and I am




that I'm going to keep them.

Okay, I'm off again: gonna be super productive today so I have time to take some fun pictures for Friday's post.  Tomorrow will be a tweet.  Have a great day till then!

Monday, April 14, 2014

March: knitting a path to a very clean house

"March is a great month to wrap up your knitting, then put away the needles till the first leaves fall in late August", said nobody who is still interested enough in yarn to be reading this blog in April.

(seriously: there is a seasonal quality to this craft for some people.  I find this fact not very relate-able.)

Regardless, I did do a lot of knitting in March, per the Knitting Planner I've been using since January.  How much is 'a lot'?

Just over 60 hours' worth.  Considering my goal is to spend between 41 and 62 hours of each month knitting or weaving or spinning - anything that is going to get yarn out of my house - and also that I was starting into my grueling schedule of More Writing Please at the time, that is definitely a lot.

In March, I knit a pair of fingerless gloves - though I will admit straight out, I have still not run in the many, many ends that resulted from my desperate efforts to match up the handspun colours between each glove.

I spun 3/4 of a braid of fiber - how embarrassing is it that I still haven't managed to get to the last bit? - and I knit a hat from a different braid's worth of handspun yarn.

The fact that I had to give the hat away on discovering it looked pretty darned wrong on my head is a bonus really, if you consider my underlying goal of yarn stash reduction.

There was a very, very small amount of scarf weaving.

Right now things are not looking good for any more happening in April, but we live in hope.  Because this scarf is looking pretty super amazing and just - wow.  I can't wait to get it off the loom.

I got a start on two pairs of very stripey socks, and made a finish on a third.

And I thought ever so much about all of it.  If we could move knitting needles simply by power of thought, can you imagine how many things we'd finish every day?

Probably I shouldn't be greedy, since I managed two hours of knitting every day in March.  Given my schedule lately that's pretty impressive but I don't know whether that is a lot by your standards.  I often wonder how much knitting time other people get and maybe you do too: for example, if you read The Yarn Harlot enough you may feel the answer is More Than Me.  And yet, if I knit more than I already do, what else could I possibly get done in a day?

(don't answer that.  this is a dangerous question for a knitter.)

As I've mentioned, there is an agenda to this whole Knitting Planner thing, which is:

A clean house!

Oh man, how I would love to have an uncluttered space to live in.  There is a point at which a pretty bag of knitting here and an enticing braid of fiber there becomes

baskets overflowing with yarn in plastic bags, the better to deflect the attentions of any invading moths, and a Loom that sits out all. the. time.

To say nothing of the spinning wheel that tries to blend in as a faux end table at one side of a sofa, thereby blocking access to a bookshelf and - yes - an unfinished shawl.

See what I mean? It gets - messy.

And it's not just yarn.  For years and years I have had this dream of a perfectly coordinating wardrobe of just a few timeless mix- and match-able pieces that can get you through whatever a day can throw at you, and live the rest of the time in a closet full of white space.  Nothing that doesn't fit perfectly or look wonderful on you or feel fabulous to move around in.

That does sound more than a little yummy, don't you think?  Even if it does suggest a need for frequent laundry-doing.

Over the weekend with this lovely image in mind I bought seven new articles of clothing that fit this description, then edited what seemed like about 40 pieces of uncooperative clothing out of my closet.  When I was done I still couldn't get the doors closed. SIGH.

That's nothing though, because I am pretty sure my yarn takes up more square footage than my clothes do.  This is not something I will take up valuable knitting time to test, you understand.  But it feels likely, so I'm going to state it as near-fact.

The obvious solution to that is to stem the flow of yarn coming into the house and knit up the stuff that's already here, which is why the following tiny details are going to be fueling Hugs posts, and off-season knitting (editor's note: what is 'off-season' knitting?), for some time to come:

1/ I talked somebody into giving me a Stoddart yarn club membership for a Christmas present;

2/ I caved and joined the latest Twisted Fiber Art club because I couldn't resist the lure of colour schemes drawn from early 20th century fairy tale illustrations;

3/ I secured a spot in the next round of Vesper sock club... and then bought an additional skein of sock yarn in the last shop update; and

4/ I let Trish talk me into joining the Indigo Dragonfly yarn club, which is going to keep us both in yarn for the next year.

Maybe I should work on that whole 'knitting powered by thought' thing.

Okay, that's enough rambling by me for one day because I have to get to work.  On Tuesday it's The Twitter and, with luck, a lot of super fun knitting time for us all.  See you again here on Wednesday!