January 2009

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Welcome Joeli

I recently started working with a new tech editor, Joeli Caparco. I am very excited to have her working with me and wanted to take a minute to allow her to introduce herself to you:

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Could you please tell me a bit about yourself?
For some reason, I think this is always the hardest question to answer. I’m in my early twenties and have a degree in Mathematics. For 18 years of my life I lived in Rhode Island, but now live in England with my husband. I prefer to knit everything as seamless as possible. I’m also a perfectionist and won’t admit to how many revisions just this one question has gone through. My favorite colour is teal and my favorite animal is either a turtle or a hippo. I can never answer as to what my favorite movie or food is because I think that they are too general of categories. Ask me my favorite action movie that includes a montage or my favorite food with cheese on it and then I might be able to answer (Rocky IV and pizza, respectively).

When did you start knitting and what inspired you to try it?
I started knitting when I was 6. I can’t remember why I wanted to learn but I can remember that it was my neighbor that taught me the basics. The rest I learned from reading books.

What do you like to knit the most?
Probably socks. They’re quick, don’t require seaming, always fit, and are never unflattering.

Do you do other crafts (i.e. could you tech edit crochet patterns)?
Unfortunately I don’t.

I see you have a mitten pattern, Corazon published in Knitty, winter 2006: do you see yourself as more of a designer or tech-editor? Is there a tension between the two for you? Do you have a favourite?
I definitely see myself as more of a tech-editor. Designing is something that I enjoy but it is very hard for me to come up with ideas. Once I have a finished item I can write the pattern no problem. Doing the math and writing the pattern is the easy (and my favourite) part and this lends itself well to tech-editing. There is definitely no tension between the two.

I notice your main website is a cooking blog, Baking in Galoshes, what would be the one kitchen tip you would share?
I did have a knitting blog but I found it too hard to post when so much of what I knit has to be kept a secret for ages (lots of test knitting). My kitchen tip would be to perfect a few basic recipes. I sometimes have disastrous attempts at cooking for company which I think is just down to bad luck. One birthday party I managed to mess up both deserts (lemon meringue pie and cheesecake–neither set) BUT because I have perfected a basic (and very quick to make) sponge cake recipe I was able to make it work (tip: sponge cake with unset lemon filling and a decent meringue topping is delicious!).

If someone wants to start out as a tech editor, where would you recommend they begin?
I’d say start out test knitting. If you’re knitting a lot already then you’re probably familiar with finding errors in a pattern and working with lots of different types of patterns. But test knitting is a really great way to build up references. As is often true in life I think the trick is to get your foot in the door and use that experience to move up the ladder. Ravelry is a truly amazing source for finding work.

If other designers are looking for a tech editor, are you available?
Absolutely! They can contact me by email (joeli.caparco at gmail dot com) or on Raverly (user name: Joeli).

If you could only knit with one yarn for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn unless I’m allowed to bring back discontinued yarns in which case Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4ply.

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I bought this yarn recently — okay nine months ago or so. It is called Noro Taiyo and is made of It is 40% Cotton, 30% Silk, 15% Wool, and 15% Nylon, colour #1 (see colour card here).

It is scrumptious, soft and pretty. I have decided what to do with it finally, but you will need to wait to see it (delightful idea that you would care!).

norotaiyo-1

It makes me think of Good Omens by Neil Gaimon and Terry Pratchett: the scene with the English children sitting around trying to imagine what all the flavours of ice cream at Baskin Robbins in “America” could be. The dialogue as I remember it goes as follows:

“well there’s chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.”

“What other flavours can there be?”

“There could be strawberry-chocolate. . .”

Then all the children sat back and imagined all the flavours there could be that would somehow be derived from English ice cream flavours. This yarn feels like a combination in fondest imaginings of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla to make a fourth flavour.

I will tell you this — in my mind it will be the most lovely and best summer shell-like sweater ever. We will see how well I am able to bring it into the world.

I got included in my first Etsy treasury today, see here.

As these things are ephemeral, here is a bit of a screen shot (sorry, my screen isn’t large enough to get the whole thing):

etsytreasury

A mild re-stash

I have been going through my yarn, and there is some that I don’t think I will ever use. Surely it is wrong and poor economy to hold on to such yarn in case I need it — especially as there is some possibility that one day I will need to pay to live in a larger place to store my yarn. I don’t even buy food in bulk because everything goes bad before the two of us can eat it, and even if it doesn’t it is never fresh anymore.

There is a limited amount I can knit, and I like fresh yarn.

I think the source of my yarn hoarding is that when I learned to knit I was so poor, and I never had enough money to buy yarn: I actually went through periods with nothing to knit. But now I am like one of those people who lived through the Depression and and hoards pencil stubs

Some of the yarn I am getting rid of I am pretty sure no one wants, so it is going to the thrift store. i am not offering it to you, because you can always go to your own thrift store and get something equivalent. There are no treasures in this lot: it is the fibre equivalent of mystery meat.

I do however have some rather nice yarn that I don’t think I will ever use. This is Noro Silver Thaw, colour 1, colour lot B, 50% wool, 25% angora, and 25% nylon, 110m (120 yards) / 50g:

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There are nine untouched balls and one that I knit a swatch with and then unraveled (see the last picture).

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I listed them in my Etsy shop, but they sold almost immediately.

I have been meaning to try a few new techniques for a while and yesterday I did! Yes, instead of working on any of the multitude of active projects, or even mending the sweater in my knitting basket with a hole, I tried two new things.

New technique #1: broomstick lace

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I tried a few crochet stitches for the gathering part and a few different numbers of loops being gathered. I can see how this could work, and I think I could start working with it now. It would probably be a scarf or shawl, but I can see the logic of it.

I have some nice alpaca/silk lace weight that would be just the ticket.

I used this nice tutorial from the January issue of Yarn Forward for instructions:

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As someone who likes learning things from written instructions, I appreciated this article for its comprehensibleness.

New technique #2: hairpin lace

The other new thing was hairpin lace:

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This one was harder to get my mind around. There is something about the twisting the hook around to the back part that did not immediately make sense to me from the still pictures, but after a few fits and starts I made a base strip.

I used this tutorial from the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet:

hairpinlace-1

Though it made my head hurt a little, the instructions were comprehensible enough for me to figure out, so no complains there — and I think the technique is more difficult to conceptualize than the other, but don’t the Stitch Diva designs make it all seem worth it? The instructions were much better than the ones that came on the back of the package the frame came in — go figure.

For this I definately need to work a pattern or two from someone else. I just don’t quite get the logic of it yet, but there are lots of beautiful patterns in the world that people would be happy to give or sell me. I was considering this one.

I started knitting the Sideways grande hat from Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits this week:

sidewaysribs-1

I am using a couple skeins of Berocco Ultra Alpaca (non-Ravelry link) I had in my stash. It is a nice relaxing project that doesn’t require any math on my part more strenuous than counting.

There are some good things about living somewhere with a wintery climate and some things that are just things — one of the things is that you can definately start a winter hat in January and still have time to wear it before it gets warm.

sidewaysribs-2

I feel like I am coming out of some knitting doldrums, and since all of my projects seemed hard last week I pulled out a bit of hand painted mohair of questionable provenance. It was sold to me on E-Bay as Colinette. Really I have no reason to disbelieve it as it came in a lot with other more identifiable skeins, but it came pre-wound without tags, so the colourway’s name etc. eludes me.

I am knitting — wait for it — a stockinette stitch scarf, but the colours are pretty:

toasty-knitting

The colours remind of Stravinsky‘s The Firebird (I grew up in a household aware of ballet above many other, perhaps more sensible, things). Here is a painting by Léon Bakst to give you an idea:

leon_bakst_001

I feel such nostalgia for the early 20th Century avant garde; it always appeals to me. In this particular example, I especially like the tuft of armpit hair.

I always like the the avant garde from the 19th Century too — especially Chopin. That may come back to ballet again and spending hours each week through my childhood in a room with someone playing music on a piano: Chopin featured heavily.

I have been thinking about the premise of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and his assertion that for people to really achieve success, they (usually) need to practice for 10,000 hours before they are really good at something. The idea that one needs to practice something for so long to master it has an element of appeal to me. I goes against the idea I feel is prevalent in society (whoever society is) that one can learn something very quickly.

People are not immediately good at sports they have never heard of whatever the Harry Potter series would have you believe.

I listened to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell, and I was thinking about this. I don’t think I have spent that amount of time on much — reading, walking, and eating maybe. I claim to be very good at reading, moderately good at walking (which I like a lot), and enthusiastic about eating, though I am not sure how one becomes good at it.

The point of all this blather is that I think I may approach the 10,000 hour mark with knitting. I remember staring at the pattern for my first sweater for hours, trying to figure it out. I also remember trecking out to the yarn store swatch in hand to ask if it really mattered that I was about two stitches to four inches out in my gauge (for any of you who ever have this questions — yes, it really does).

Now I can pick up yarn and envision it in my head the things it could be, processing the way I want it to turn out. Yet I still wonder at the virtuosity of some designers: Norah Gaughan, Teva Durham, or Debbie New to name a few.

Hmm, more practice required.

I have been having a little exchange with M.K. over email, and I failed to properly read her description of her pattern carefully enough. I was mistaken about the sizing, and she has sized the Matilda & Tillie pattern up to 27″! That is very exciting for someone with a 24″ head who likes wearing her hair up.

I was correct about my other point: it is still cold in Saskatoon.

Here I am stuck at home, kitchen pipes frozen, car not starting, looking out into the world reflected back at me from the Internet. I am filled with awe that I could wake up this morning to -39 centigrade (-38 Fahrenheit) temperatures and read about MK describing her cold as being like mango pollen stuffed up her nose. I used to live where mangoes grow; it feels very far away.

I went out and bought Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin today. I wasn’t planning on it, but it just has such lovely constructions, and I feel they would work for me. I am especially struck with the Sideways Grande Cloche. I also like the Side Slip Cloche, but I feel that the first one would look better on my particular head. Cloches are great for me as Saskatchewan requires extensive forehead coverage (please see previous paragraph).

Speaking of cloches and MK Carroll, MK has one of the most beautiful hat patterns I have ever seen, but I know my enormous head would deform it. I suppose I could resize it, but the patten is one where every stitch is in the right place, and I don’t want to ruin it. The Sideways Grande Cloche, looks like it could be made with room for my head and my hair and still look great — everyone has their issues.

Note: I failed to read the description of the pattern properly when I wrote this and would like to say that MK’s pattern is sized up to 27″, so if you have a large head, don’t be scared away!

Upgrading

Sorry to anyone who was trying to access the site earlier today and was having problems. I was upgrading my WordPress installation.

It was much easier this time, with only mild swearing and no tears.

Hint: always download the content of your blog before doing anything else

Earlier this week I felt completely defeated — I was unable to bring myself to do anything but watch television while being firmly ensconced on the couch, but today — today I feel I can get back on the horse. The house is finally cleaner than it has been in months and things I like seem possible again.

I have managed to knit the whole front and back of my sweater using the lace pattern from the Gibson Girl pullover by Shirley Paden to the arm hole decreases without actually working out a pattern (please calm yourselves, I wasn’t planning on making the pattern public anyway), so I have two panels and have not given much thought to what I should do with them.

I did however, decide to deal with the original project that the yarn was intended for. In my project basket, like a biography of the Tudor monarchs, the first betrothal often does not go through, and my yarn is linked to several possible partners before the final outcome is clear. The original pattern was the Bubble Pullover by Nora Gaughan from Knitting Nature.

There was nothing wrong with the pattern or the sweater: I just fell more in love with my own idea for the yarn than I was with that one (though I look at the this version (non-Ravelry link) and wonder if I was mistaken — I may just be smitten with the idea of being slim, pretty and having a pixie hair-cut). However, the die is cast, I have never frogged a project that I have got as far with as my lacy Gibson Girl takeoff. I am somewhat impressed with the audacity of those on Ravelry who rip apart a project at the drop of a hat. I never have the nerve, but I ripped apart this project today:

As you can see I didn’t get very far with it in the first place.

Now I have some weird ramen noodle yarn to play with. I will aim to use it in a part of the sweater that won’t get too much wear as I find the yarn is never really the same after being knit and ripped apart again.

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