Saturday, May 25, 2024

See in you July

It's been a scrape, but I finally committed time to complete a May knit! and once I've shown you, I'm going to burrow into a cave for a month to finish my current manuscript. When I come back the first Saturday in July, the first draft will be complete, and a June project will be too. Yes, I'm manifesting. If I say it, it'll happen, right? 

So here we go:

How wrinkly is that left hand sock with the cast-on tail still lingering, ugh. This is the pair of socks I started years ago and took to the heel flap before I realized one - Left Sock - was missing a stitch the whole way down the leg. Or maybe two stitches, I don't remember now. What I do know is that I was paralyzed over whether I should add the missing stitch/es back in or rip back and fix it. And eventually, I picked 'fix it.' Hence the wrinkles. 

Weirdly, I took the time to run in the cast-off tail at the toe, but didn't bother to deal with this bit. So bear with me while I tackle it once and for all.

Boy that looks messy. And it took me longer to untangle the knot that got into the temporary tail wrap than it did to run in the end, too. Yeesh! 

But it is done, and that's good enough for this girl.

Ouch. It still looks kinda messy, and it's right on the front, too. I must've erred up after I ripped back, and put my start-of-round in the wrong place. Note to self: don't wear these ones with a skirt. 

And here they are, all done. A welcome spot of brightness on a rainy day.

They still need a bath to settle those stitches but they feel nice on, as handknit socks do. In fact I might be having difficulty persuading myself to remove them for this purpose, ahem.

Okay then, I'm off into the depths of my latest crime novel, with high hopes that it'll be The One. Or maybe the next one will be The One... but I still have to finish this one to get to it. Wish me luck. Thanks so much for coming by today, and have a marvellous June!

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Booking time

I loved arranging and taking this photo and immediately forgot to post it ever:

At least, I think I did. If you've seen it, hopefully you're as pleased to see it again as I am. It's Vesper sock yarn as always... and I don't think I've knit up any of these skeins or even caked them? But I am due for more cake-making because my Go Bag of socks to cast on is down to practically nothing. 

Did I mention I stopped buying yarn when I realized my pace was slowing, the better to use up what I had and reclaim space? And I *still* haven't entirely wrapped up my Vesper supply! I mean it's got to be nearly ten years at this point. Astonishing. More so: Hugs itself has been in play for fifteen.

The other night I was talking to Lannie about Hugs and how I used to get up early to write a post every weekday, before setting off for whatever obligations I had to fulfill. 

I can't even comprehend who that person might have been, now. Just the part about when I was posting - I mean I have never been a morning person. But I was getting up with the dawn *and* creating off the bat, over a cup of morning tea! I didn't know then you could prepare a post in advance. 

In truth, I never took to that idea, even once I did know. I am typing this post just before eleven in the morning, having slept in (only a little!) before enjoying a delicious decaf latte and chocolate croissant. It's Saturday, and a long weekend, so why not? 

If you'd like more notes of immediacy, I can hear a siren in the distance through our open living room windows, which are letting in a lovely soft breeze as well as the quiet rustling sounds of Pete shifting garden tools from their overnight storage. I should be out there helping, but this is Hugs time, so instead I'm here thinking of you, and typing.

Back when Hugs was new I had at least five varied projects going at once, one of them often of my own design, and spent all my leisure hours working on them. Also, all of my transit hours. I found it hard even to walk somewhere without plain knitting to do as I trundled along, if the weather was warm enough to keep my fingers from freezing.

Of course I was fiercely protecting my creative life, at a time when long-form writing felt far beyond my capacity. You need to be able to think deeply for that work, and deep thinking is difficult when you're juggling loads of responsibilities. Surface level thinking, though - the math required for pattern design, the tactile delight of yarn, the visual beauty of colour matching for a textile project - all that is just a lovely escape. I suppose *that's* how it was possible for me to do so much back then.

I still do a lot, even if it's not daily knitting. I work on a novel five days a week at least, and I read thoughtfully for many hours every day. If I also took the time to get a table set up for my adorable and compact knitter's loom, I could probably listen thoughtfully to an audiobook, as I used to when weaving scarves. I think there's still a pink silk scarf in progress in the loom bag, too. This isn't a terrible idea and might be a really nice way to spend the summer, don't you think?

What I will not do, because it's sold out, is join Kate Davies' fabulous-sounding mystery summer kniting club. She is pairing a readalong of mysteries by classic crime writer Margery Allingham with her own always gorgeous designs for a months-long project - with clues no less! - that sounds delightful. Feel free to read about it and wish, like me, you had heard about it in time to have a chair at the table.

Probably I will not break out the loom despite the temptation to do that as soon as I've posted this. I am trying, on top of wrapping up a lingering project every month (and no, I haven't even started May's yet) to finish a first draft of the current novel project by the end of June. I'm almost at an Early Hugs level of task-juggling just now, and probably I should throw in the towel and knit a pair of fingerless gloves instead. I won't, though. As a person I lean always to Relentless, so I'm sticking to the project I booked. 

And only a little bit thinking of the project I have in mind for after that...

Hope you're having a lovely day, with an even lovelier weekend in view - especially if it's a long weekend like mine - and thank you as always for dropping by. See you next Saturday!

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Sewing kits

Well I am much better today than last Saturday! but in between, there's been so much coughing and sneezing that knitting was impractical at best. So today, let's talk about sewing kits with Ricardo, my friendly fireplace rooster.

Isn't he lovely? He watches over all this stuff from his perch in the glass bowl behind him. It's worth noting while I'm here that a fireplace mantel is an excellent standing desk for small bouts of hand stitching. 

A note too re. the pin cushion shaped like a cat. My mum made this for me when I was in my first grownup apartment and finally had the cat I'd always dreamed of living with some day. She was honouring my love of said cat without ever realizing I would be, you know, sticking pins in a *cat*! Still, I've always used it and always treasured it. I mean all that extra embroidery she put in there... Oh, I miss her, and not just because tomorrow is Mother's Day.

Okay, let's look inside the blue tin, which served as my aunt's sewing kit in the 60s and 70s:

A green seam ripper! I love it. And she kept her safety pins in a plastic case she picked up in New Hampshire. Probably there was originally a plastic raincoat in that little case, or at least a plastic rainbonnet. They used to sell those all accordioned into the box, and you could never ever fit them in again.

Here's my sewing kit, kept in a soup tureen gifted to me after another aunt passed. It's the best I've ever had - lift the lid, and everything I need is right there:

My seam ripper is red because that's my favourite colour. The pincushion lives in here too. There's so much you can cram inside because the lid is vaulted to accommodate whatever's sticking up.

Here's the absolute favourite though, a tiny gas-station branded kit my aunt picked up and never used:

The 'Esso' logo is printed on a tiny tape measure that sits atop a red thimble, over tiny wooden spools of black and then white thread. 

Plus eight additional colours!

The pins are for emergency use only, folks. There are even tiny buttons and safety pins in the top. I wonder if it would all fit in again as neatly, if you ever took things out to use them?

Sadly I'll never know because the lid is jammed on so tight, then taped. I've never been able to get it open. It's the Time Capsule Sewing Kit.

Do you have a favourite sewing kit setup? 

Thanks for dropping by today - hope you have a wonderful weekend and also, Mother's Day, if you are celebrating! See you next Saturday.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Sick Day

Guys, I am down for the count with a cold - haven't been able to knit (or read!) for days, definitely can't face taking cute knitting pix today. So please enjoy a placemarker photo of a mug matched to a lot of classic crimey paperback spines:

I will be back, hopefully even coherent, next week. If you're missing my voice in the meantime you are welcome to read my book posts over at Instagram, from whence this beaut has come. You don't need to register there or anything.

Have a marvellous Saturday! I plan to spend mine napping in between giant bowls of chicken soup.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

April project and exciting news

We have a completed project for April, folks - and something else that's fun. Are you sitting down?

My short story, The Canadians, has been shortlisted for this year's Best Crime Short Story from Crime Writers of Canada! It's such a compliment, especially since the other stories in this category are super strong. And this is the first time any of my published stories has been recognized in this way. I'm super excited, and so happy. 

The story is in Killin' Time in San Diego, the 2023 anthology from Bouchercon which features stories from crime greats Anne Cleeves, C.J. Box, and Naomi Hirahara. I've linked it to the Barnes and Noble page if you want a copy, but it's available from loads of other bookstores too.

I haven't celebrate yet. I found out yesterday and still ended up making dinner at home instead of dining on luxurious foods or just ice cream, and today I made a slew of French Toast to share also. Though that's a good thing really because I'm excellent at French Toast. 

Back to my newly completed Hatcowl, which the keen-eyed among you will notice hasn't been blocked yet. I'm still counting it as Done anyway because a/ I can just slip it in with my next sock wash and b/ I hab a code. Or the start of one, anyway. First cold in over four years! I know because I repeatedly tested the beloved family member who brought it home, and it ain't Covid. I guess that's another thing to celebrate?

I did extra deep ribbing on this one, practically to headband territory, because I wanted it good and snug around my ears and thought it'd look nice. It does, and it is, but I'm not sure I'd bother with all that if I made a fourth one. Mainly because I think three of the exact same hat is all one girl needs. Time to move on with a new shape.

I also went a little overkill on the braided drawstring, cutting the yarn four whole inches longer than my pattern specified. Not sure what I was thinking. This is a lotta drawstring! I ended up wrapping the string around the top before tying a nice bow, which solved the problem.

Okay I know this is a gratuitous number of photos of Killin' Time, but I just love the colours on it. Plus it's so matchy with my hat, don't you think?

And now: time for me to head back to bed with a very big cup of hot tea. Hope your weekend is lovely, entertaining, and tissue-free. Thanks for dropping by to hear my good news, and I'll see you next week!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Enjoying Elizabeth Zimmermann

Lately I've been reorganizing my bookshelves and enjoying the opportunity to browse through my copy of Elizabeth's Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac. 

Also, making a tiny amount of progress on the Halloween Christmas Socks. There's no way these'll make it to be my April Knit. Also, they don't really count because I started them so recently - the point of finishing a knit every month is to clear out all my lingering unfinished projects. On the other hand, I'm not really excited about them, which does take them well into 'lingering' territory doesn't it.

I don't know whether you've read Knitter's Almanac but it strikes me as a year's worth of blog posts from an expert in her field. It's so chatty and practical, without condescension. Just an assumption that anyone reading it is perfectly capable of the work required. And of course, she's right.

The other thing I admire is that there's no assumption that a sweater must be flattering on a human body that features a few bulges. The patterns are pure math, for the sole purpose of keeping the wearer warm. And to me, they look so cool! This one's my favourite, for the pattern:

But I'm also intrigued by the shoulders on the so-called Last Minute Sweater, which she pitches as possible to complete in December, for Christmas:

And I do love an Aran pattern:

I'm not likely to knit any of these sweaters anytime soon as my personal goals for this year are to finish two more manuscripts and read Bleak House, but they've been on my radar for a while and I'm going to give in someday. Maybe I should knit one for fun as a mathematical project, and not worry about how long it takes?

Now there's a slippery slope. I couldn't do any of them without adding to my yarn stash. It's probably best if I stick to my (sock) knitting and don't go getting ideas.

Hope you've got a lovely weekend lined up with or without Elizabeth Zimmermann. Thanks for spending some of it with me - hope to see you here next week!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

What to do

Boy, this business of finishing a project every month is really motivational. Here's what was in one of the project bags I considered this week:

You'll be shocked to know it's another Hatcowl. Clearly I had a thing for them a few years back when I cast them on. And here's a shocker that's not sarcasm: I left it this close to finishing. What was I thinking?

Probably something like, "picking up a darning needle is too much trouble." Ugh. 

There is another big step after running in these ends, so it's not like it'd be an easy putt to make this hat the April Knit. And it's only mid-month. I could still pick the gift socks I'm knitting - actually knitting, a little bit almost every day, no less.

You'd almost think I like stripes, wouldn't you? 

They're probably a little far from finished to make it happen in two weeks, at the rate I'm going. Maybe for May. So, back to the hat, with a darning needle.

 Done! Except for that last step I mentioned. I still have to block it, and also, make a braided drawstring to run through the eyelets. And then actually weave it in. 

Maybe that's three steps. H'mmmm.

When I've worked my way through all the little bags of yarn on my shelf, I wonder if I'll become a one project at a time knitter? I mean I'm not even a one book at a time reader, so I'm not sure it's possible. Still, it'll be true for at least ten minutes, surely. And maybe I'll like focusing on just one thing, putting all my effort toward making progress on it.

Are you a solo project knitter, I wonder?

Whatever you're knitting, or otherwise doing to occupy your weekend, thank you for spending a little of it with me. See you next week!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Happy skippy jumpy socks

I still haven't decided which project I want to finish this month, but while I've been thinking it over, I've been working diligently on the Christmas present socks. 

Nothing like taking that pressure off at the beginning of the year, amiright? Well, the first half, anyway.

Somehow, even though I've been mindlessly picking up one or the other while watching Murder She Wrote (ultimate escapist nostalgia) I've managed to get them both to almost the same point. Here, let me wrangle these monsters into a lineup position so you can see what I mean.

Realistically, they are nowhere near where they'd need to be for me to finish them as my April Knit. Back in the day I'd have finished one of them in a daylong movie marathon, but that's not on the cards for this busy work-filled month. Unless my subconscious detects a dare? That's also been known to happen. H'mmm. 

Okay guys, back to playtime.

Aren't they cute, all cuddled up like kittens? Or not. Instagram thinks I want to see kittens, and now everything looks like kittens to me. Except sandwiches, which always look like Delicious.

Spring is definitely coming our way now after another week of weird and windy storms, so I may not be pining for socks the way I have been so far this year. Probably just as well since I'm giving these ones away. 

I feel a bit badly about the gift knitting aspect because I can't decide whether I like these stripes together or not. I mean obviously Yes, because I wouldn't knit a present I thought was terrible, plus they are Vesper Sock Yarn, but for this time of year? I feel like they're ideal for early autumn, when the days are still warm (orange) and the nights draw in all shadowy (grey and black) and cosy (purple and red.) But if I wait till then to finish I will be super stressed in the holiday leadup, so Nopes to that.

Hope you're doing some seasonally-appropriate knitting right now, or at least something of the fun variety. As for me: tempting as the idea of immediate sandwich consumption might be, I'm ready for a nap, and I think these socks are too.

Have a great weekend and thanks so much for stopping by to spend a little of it with me, something I always appreciate. See you next Saturday!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Yarn Substitution

Happy Easter if you celebrate, and happy weekend if not! I am back and have finished my March Knit, as promised. 

This one was tough to complete for so many reasons, but the biggest factor was yarn substitution. I wrote my Hatcowl pattern for a springy sport weight yarn (now discontinued sadly) and was adapting it for a more tightly woven fingering weight. You might be surprised by how many problems this caused, and how easily I could have resolved them in advance with better planning.

Probably I did a test swatch for a ballpark figure on the shift in sizing--otherwise I would never have ended up with the owie lace-tips which have no business in such a tightly woven fabric--but I still cast on waaaay too many stitches. Then I was stuck worrying through the first half of the knit whether I would ever finish, and through the second half, whether I would finish before the yarn cake did. 

In the end I had plenty of yarn left for the drawstring, but followed the pattern when I cut the lengths for each strand. Because this hat was so much wider than the original, I could have used another ten inches. See what I mean? I could only get halfway through the threading-through-eyelets stage and still keep the hat flat.

I had to pull the string just to get the braided lace all the way to the end.


More problems: I followed the pattern for how many inches to knit before the drawstring eyelets, when I should have knit a few extra. Also I knit the eyelet row immediately before the final border of ribbing as written, where I would have benefited more from doing a few rounds in plain knit before starting the final rib. That would have given me a snugger seal before the ribbing fanned out, and the fan would probably have looked less like a woodland mushroom. 

Pete very kindly described the result as 'organic', which is yet another example of what a lovely person he is. 

The upshot of all this is that I have a hat with an excessively ruched body over a longer than typical border band. The band length is something I'm happy about because it provides a snug warm layer over my forehead and ears, but I hadn't considered how a tightly spun yarn knit on very small needles would stiffen the fabric above it. 

See how ridgey the body of the hat remains, even at rest? It's got the same deep folds of a beret, without the shape to justify them.

Despite all that though, it does look nice on. And I love these colours--they'll warm up all my black coat options, and look nice with my hair. The project's a win, even if it was a multifaceted learning experience.

Next time I'll share my choice for April's project-to-complete. For now, many thanks for your patience during my working holiday and I hope you have a lovely weekend!



Saturday, March 9, 2024

The thing I picked to finish this month

It's the hat on doom needles! I'm taking a vacation just to handle this one, but more on that later.

The first step is figuring out how much farther I have to go, because I'm pretty sure I got near the eyelets the last time my fingertips got too sore to go on with this project. And looking at this side-by-side with my existing hat, I'm a little nervous, because I don't exactly have a cardigan's worth of yarn left to go.

But I will not be daunted. The stitches are so squished up on the super pointy doom needles, the length is probably misleading. Time to run some of them onto straight needles to take the pressure off the lace tips, and see where we are.

Phew! Looks like I'm all ready to start the eyelet row, which means the end is near, and not just in the doom way.

Wowza, though. Is this fingering-weight hat ever wider than the sport-weight version I've been wearing! All this extra fabric underneath is overflow.


I'm not measuring it, because I don't really want to know how many too many stitches I cast on at the start. I could've been done by now if I'd gotten it right. Hopefully the end result won't be too enormous for non-ironic use.

And, yes. When I slipped the stitches back onto the lace tips, I discovered I have in fact started the eyelet round for the drawstring to slip through later. I've totally got this.

Okay: on to my vacation plan. This is actually a reverse vacation, in which I step back from fun things like Hugs to catch up with all the work things I have let get out of hand. For the next two Saturdays, there will be no posts, and then at the end of March, on Easter weekend, I'll be back and hopefully showing off how this hat came out. 

I will still be posting at Instagram though. I know, I know, I'm all about books there, but let's face it, if you're still reading Hugs despite the massive drop in new patterns and textile projects, you're here for my voice. And that's the same even if I'm talking about reading instead of knitting. So if you feel like you'll miss me, drop on by... you don't have to sign up for Instagram to read posts there, just to follow and comment. 

Plus, I post some cute photos, like these:



Okay, have a great couple of weeks and I'll see you at the end of the month, if not before at Instagram! Thanks for sharing some of your Saturday with me today. Hope the rest of your weekend is *fabulous*.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Warm hands

It's March now and for long walks I'm transitioning from handspun warmers over gloves to my thinner handwarmers. I've probably shown this pair before in beautiful hand-dyed yarn from Viola but the colour transitions are so gorgeous I can't help myself.

I love Viola yarn but it was out of my budget for sweaters and, I feel, too precious to risk on socks that will wear out, so I don't have near as much in my stash as I'd like. Especially now that I've drifted back over to the site and learned Emily is no longer dyeing yarn. I guess everything has its season and I was lucky to acquire what I do have! 

There's a hat in Viola on my needles, too... maybe that's the longsuffering project I should try to finish this month? It'd be nice to have it in play for next winter. Anyway: nobody else does colourwork like Emily. This colourway still gives me the same thrill now it did when I first bought it.

It was actually a tiny bit too chilly for these mitts today - damp and grey, so that my fingers were cold - but that won't last. And I don't mind getting a little uncomfortable outside. It makes coming in again for tea and a sandwich such a pleasure.

Hope your weekend is lovely, and thank you as always for making me a part of it. See you next Saturday!

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Knitting and television

Is television even much of a thing anymore? I feel like maybe we're old school here by streaming only some and not all of what gets watched around here. There's something about choosing from the set menu of listings that is so restful.  

But not so restful that I forget my hands are about eighteen inches from the shelf where my various knitting projects live. I knit most of this watching episodes of Murder She Wrote and Columbo. 

Talk about restful! Jessica Fletcher is always going to figure out whatever happened, so all I have to do is watch for 80s and 90s nostalgia. And I already know everything on Columbo except how he's going to pin the crime on the killer. Plus: 70s and 80s nostalgia, and the big name guest stars.

Recently I watched one Columbo episode with Anne Baxter, then a few days later saw her again performing the role for which she deservedly won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in The Razor's Edge, which coincidentally I'd been reading with friends on Instagram. None of which has anything to do with knitting, but goes to show how many things are interconnected, like the stitching on my sock.

(okay, that was a reach... sorrynotsorry)


One last pic of Amy today:


She's dabbing her approval of my copy of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. Isn't she the best plant friend?

We've enjoyed Amy so much but it will not surprise you to know that she's beginning to shed her flowers now. I am not crying over it, because her beautiful leaves should be around for a few weeks yet, and they are so lush and lovely.

Hope you have a marvellous weekend lined up even if it's a quiet one, and thanks for letting me be part of it. See you next week!