Saturday, March 25, 2023

Something Different

Even though I could have finished The Hat That Wouldn't Die by now if I stuck with it since last weekend, I decided to switch over to this other project.

I cast on for this other hat probably four years ago, so it's been almost equally neglected, and it's on *much* more comfortable needles. It's my Hatcowl pattern again - perfect for mindless knitting and/or stripey yarn.

Speaking of yarn - this one is from Twisted Fiber Art, which as you may know did not survive the pandemic. Such a loss for so many of us. Way back when, Twisted was one of my top go-to yarn sources for designing because they offered a range of yarn weights in every colourway. This particular stripe is called Ember. I'd used a lot of other Ember skeins to do a version of Stephen West's Clockwork shawl that I stitched into an elegant asymmetrical cowl, and it seemed like a great idea to have a hat to go with it.

Wow, no grey in my hair! This pic sure takes me back ;^)

Touching this yarn again after so long, I'm reminded of how hard I used to work at designing patterns in 'new' colourways, the better to be sure they'd be available for knitters late to my pattern library. It got to be a lot of pressure, ensuring that everything I knit and shared could be easily replicated. It also got to be very crowded in my yarn stash! I'm still knitting through it, and will be for quite some time.

I worked on this hat while watching a documentary on the potato famine in Ireland, which drove quite a few of my ancestors to Canada. During the program a family portrait flashed up on the screen. The active knitting needles of older women seated amid the group were plainly visible against their dark dresses. 

The hat pretending to be an elderly woman knitting while her photograph's taken

I couldn't help thinking, that's knitting's roots, right there! As essential as preparing food, and necessary every day. Whether they didn't stop knitting for the photo (and lots of women then didn't even stop knitting to walk a fair distance with a basket of peat on their backs) or just wanted this task immortalized, knitting was hugely important.

Knitting. Not knitting the latest thing, with the latest yarn, but just making cloth and clothing. 

So, I'm pleased I'm able to make use of the remains of my Ember sport-weight superwash wool, and even more so to feel it in my hands as I work. It was one of my favourite, springiest yarns, even if it's no longer available to buy.


Even better, this hat was nearly done when I picked it up again. Look, I'm already on to the ribbing at the end!

There's a single row of eyelets before the ribbing starts, for weaving through a drawstring to pull tight at the end.

I like this way of finishing a hat. It gives some interest at the back and the weight of it makes the hat fall attractively. Fingers crossed I have enough yarn left over at the end to make the drawstring in the same colourway, yikes.

Now, if only I had a coat to go with it, instead of clashing. Because I'm not *that* ready to be done with trends.

And that's me for today. Hope you're had a great week, and that we meet again here again next Saturday!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

An exciting development

 I don't want to alarm anyone, but there has been progress with The Hat That Wouldn't Die.

Yes, this hat, which requires knitting on treacherous super pointy needles. With yarn so fine it shouldn't really be called sock weight, but is. And so many stitches per round I had to put in markers to keep track of them all.

I've been diligently working away at it for a few weeks now, picking it up even if only for a few minutes, spurning any and all sock knitting (which I have to say I miss desperately - those needles never hurt me and I always feel like I'm getting somewhere with them) and finally, the other night, I thought - Huh. This seems to be getting into a lot of hat.

So I measured, and saw I was pretty close to the 8-3/4" I need to reach to knit in the eyelets before the ribbing at the end.

Then I thought, Wait a minnit, this fabric is wrinkly. And when I pressed it flat, Voila! Eight and three-quarter inches on the nose.

If that isn't an exciting development I don't know what is. Admittedly, and despite the snow we had again today, I might not be in a position to wear it before next fall. There is still a lot of ribbing to do. But wearing it next fall is still wearing it, which would be wonderful closure for the hopes I had when I cast on lo these many years ago. 

 I really love the stripes in this fabric. It's like forest colours at dusk.

Another thing that happened this week is I managed to get a third round of one-week library loan on Fredrik Backman's The Winners. It is dense reading for the current level of chaos here at my house, and despite my best efforts, I've been unable to sink into a chair for the long haul. I haven't even been able to do much of my own writing! and that's saying something. I keep renewing the book though because I enjoy the characters and have grown curious as to how all this comes out.

I realize I'm no good at reviewing books any more, assuming I ever was - I read them as a writer, looking for different ways to tackle the same old problems. But I did notice something about The Winners, as contrasted with Taylor Jenkins Reid's Carrie Soto Is Back (apart from the fact that Carrie Soto is about half the length.) 

The plot of The Winners has as many sightlines as its forest setting, and even once you've caught the thread of the main storyline, there's no way to predict how it's likely to come out in the end. So despite its approximately 6.2 million characters, which can be a challenge to keep straight, the writing quality and the sheer range of possibilities are enough to keep you going. 

The plot of Carrie Soto Is Back runs fairly quickly to, Will Carrie win or won't she? Which means the writing quality is everything. Since it's Taylor Jenkins Reid, the writing quality is plenty good enough for that.

Also worth noting: even though I have done all my reading of these two novels on my Kobo, which perches on my knee and frees my hands to knit, I did not pick up my needles. I was too interested in the stories.

And now we're having another Saturday, and I'm assessing my week - what I got done, what I still need to do, what I'd like to do. The immediate answer to that last question is, drink the tea I brewed while I was writing this. And what I still need to do is also pretty obvious:

Yep. The hat. Wish me luck and I look forward to seeing you here next week!




Saturday, March 11, 2023

The darning begins

One nice thing about writing regular Hugs again is that I've been looking over the ones from years ago when our house was still small and I had no time to write fiction. I was so creative! Somehow I was posting five times a week about fresh things I'd made or was making. Now, I'm lucky to get an hour of knitting one day in seven. I'd forgotten how much I love sitting with yarn. So I decided to set out a project in plain view, to encourage me to pick it up. And because my cup was runnething over (seriously, socks spilling off the shelf by my favourite chair), I picked The Darning. 

It's a sad task but this display looks kind of cute, I think. I added in another few skeins of sock yarn to wind into cakes, too, because my supply of sock kits is getting low. Backdrop! Isn't it lucky I couldn't let go of all those little yarn ends all these years? They are the perfect length for patching holes.

But that photo only shows half of the problem. There was a second vintage Pyrex mixing bowl in the offing.

Because any dye is going to fade inside boots that are actively walking, it's not possible to perfectly match colours with unused yarn, but you can make a start. And when I made my start, what a hash it was. 

This heel looks like a roiling cauldron. To be fair, I was resolving a pretty substantial hole. If only that could justify that random line of brown running through perfectly healthy knit stitches. Oh well, nobody will see it except you guys. And eventually it will felt into place and seem intentional.

I did better with a later pair. Its heel was still intact, but thinning dangerously.

Hmmm. Okay, maybe this one doesn't look so great either, from the inside. But from the outside, you can hardly tell it's been darned. 

Darning socks is basically weaving, another task I enjoyed very much back when I was taking my loom out on the regular. But it's not something you want to do while watching anything too riveting, or stress-inducing if you're the sort whose palms sweat at the sight of heights (holding up a sweaty hand here.) Too easy for the needle to slip. I need to get myself organized again with audiobooks. I'm going to run out of movies I've seen six times before (not.)

I did the first few socks with my usual blunt point darning needle and it was not exactly blissful - just better than the sharp-tipped one that splits the yarn. Then I remembered I bought darning needles on my long-ago trip to Germany and it turns out they are baby bear needles - just right. That's probably why the blue heel came out so much better.

Sometimes, you just need the right tools.

So, here we are at the end of the week, and it seems my plan worked. I've repaired many socks. There's only one pair left in the Stripey Vesper bowl, yay!

With the Stoddart wool/mohair socks to follow, ahem.

I hope you've had a lovely week and that you get some crafty time in this weekend. See you next Saturday!

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Sometimes you just need a nap

Okay *most* of the time I need a nap, but I'm thinking specifically of that sleepy part of the afternoon where you've got a ton of stuff done, and a ton of stuff still to do, and you've had something to eat, and stopping to do that reminded you what rest feels like. Just typing that, I am craving a look at the beautiful pink mohair socks I knit myself for a present once. Wearing them was always restful no matter what I was taking on.

Took me ages to find this pic. I still love the fabric of these so much. You can even tell from the photo how thick and floppy they were, can't you?  Tragically, they have shrunk over their many, many gentle cold water washes, and don't really fit any more. I really need to knit another pair like them. 

But getting back to the whole nap thing, one more element of that sleepy time of day, at this time of year, is cold toes. At least for me. And thinking of that reminded me of the house in its older version - pre-renovation, pre-insulation. Back when we still had water-filled cast iron radiators on the wall instead of water-filled plastic tubes under the floor. If I wanted a nap in the winter in those years, it wasn't just warm socks I had to put on, but also a hat and a pair of mittens, because midafternoon was when our furnace took its own nap. I'd freeze in here.

Now it's all warm all the time (especially in summer, ha!) and I have to keep the thermostat on pretty low, and I also open the bedroom window for a few minutes before lights out so I can justify even one blanket. Sometimes I wish I was sleeping outside, all bundled up with just my nose to get chilly.

Recently I read about a young man who started sleeping outside every night for fun when he was emphatically pre-teen, and never stopped. He could go for a record at this point only there's another slightly older young man in England who's had a head start. This brave lad doesn't even go for a tent all the time. Sometimes it's just a hammock. Apparently when he and his family go on holiday, they have to choose a destination with a campground in the area for him and his dad while his mom and sister stay in a hotel.

All I can say is, that guy needs somebody to knit him some mohair socks. He'd be in heaven!

And also, how early must he wake up in the morning, so close to sunrise and birdsong? 

While I was hunting for the photograph of my gorgeous rose-pink socks, I found one of my old bubblegum socks, now also a bit too small:

These ones were really thick - I could only fit them into boots and wore them on very cold days. They were extremely welcome.

I really need to finish more socks. I mean I have five pairs still waiting for their ends to be run in so they can have a bath and get to work. I haven't felt very motivated to do that, since I have other socks to wear, and frankly my hands are just really tired from typing at the end of the day. If I take a break to curl up in a chair and stare mindlessly at a screen, or just listen to an audio book, I want it to be a break for them, too. 

This can't go on. I put my heel through another pair of mohair socks the other day. If I'm not going to knit new, I really need to darn old! And with some pace. I'm actually wearing darned socks as I type this, so it's not like they're any less comfortable, and actually, I think the patch makes them look extra interesting.

[note the lack of picture here, thereby avoiding the risk of disagreement.]

So: my goal for this week is to knuckle down to the darning. And I have made progress by putting all the socks with holes into two big Pyrex mixing bowls, with a third bowl of yarns I can use to fill in the gaps. Pix next week. 

Meanwhile, I hope you've got some fun things on your needles, or even the dream of them, like me.


Whew! after all this chat I am going to have to take that nap or find something to perk me up again. Thanks so much for dropping by - have a wonderful week and I'll see you next Saturday!