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An update

I just looked at my last post and am a bit horrified about the amount of time that has passed since I last wrote.  So many things have happened.  I have travelled to one side of the continent and then the other (Halifax and Vancouver).  I went to Kansas and Manitoba (Kansas is very far from Saskatchewan when you are driving, Manitoba not so much). I had job interviews and a job resignation.  I have found a new place to live in a different city, and a new job.

We will be moving to Vancouver next week and starting a new job the week after, so I guess what has been happening instead of blog writing is life.

We have started packing, and it of course gives a different perspective.  I am smitten with the way my plain bookcase looks with no books on it.  I would like to keep it like that, except that then I am not sure what I would do with my books.

We are also appalled yet again at how much stuff we have accumulated — where does it come from? And why do we keep doing it? Did we agree to having to deal with so much detritus?

I knit this cardigan last summer for publication; I planned to submit it to Knitty, but never got it together:

I haven’t worn it really, but it is lovely – perhaps this week.  It is knit from Rowan Wool Cotton, which is a wonderful yarn.  I used to want to knit with yarns that mix a lot of colour and texture — yarn this is on the continuum approaching novelty yarn, but not as far as eyelash.  Now I find that I want to knit with smooth yarns that hold texture well — like Classic Elite Classic One Fifty.  They just seem more wearable, which is ironic as I haven’t worn this one yet — part of this is that it is cropped and I haven’t been sure what to wear it with.

I think that the answer is a blouse — form fitting t-shirts underneath somehow feel a bit wrong with so ladylike a sweater.

I am actually knitting a sweater in Classic One Fifty right now that I have been too lazy to photograph and post about, but perhaps next week.

I spent some time a few days ago compiling some bits of fabric and embroidery thread to make some embroidered patchwork cushions for our living room.

Here is the first one:

I recently cut the patterned silk off the bottom of a dress that was never the right length (it was something my ex-husband brought me back from China, and it was supposed to be long, but was instead mid-calf length).  I have been planning to hem the top and make a blouse out of it and use the bottom for crafting, which I did, and I plan to embroider something as yet unidentified on the linen.  I think the corduroy was from a  pair of pants.

Here is the second:

This one I plan to do a piece of embroidery on each side and uses some leftovers from a cushion I made a while ago and the remainder of some fabric that I sewed a dress from years ago, yet never hemmed (it is still in my sewing desk).  I think I will do some geometric embroidery on this one.

Finally the last:

The pillow form for this one is much bigger than the others (actually it is this one), the knit piece is from my attempts at knitting on my machine, and the orange is from a silk shirt from about 1994 if I remember trends correctly.  For this one I think I want to stabilize the knitting on something and embroider paisley on it in navy blue using back stitch.

Since I don’t have any knitting deadlines, I have been spending some time doing other projects that I have been thinking about for a while.  Here is a tea towel I hemmed last weekend:

My Granny gave the linen toweling to me years ago.  I hemmed all the blue cloth then, but I still had this bit of brown and pink left over.  I don’t have any of the blue ones anymore — I used them up completely.

I think I will keep this one nice and use it as a runner for a while.  I like the crispness that is ruined by the dryer.

I have spent time over the last few months thinking about my knitting design, and I am just not sure I want to do this anymore.  I have a job, and I want to have a life outside work, and knitting has begun to feel like more work to me.

There is so much support required for patterns, and I never wanted knitting to be a social activity — let’s just say that I do not belong to a knitting circle.  I also just don’t make enough money to pay anything like the time I put in.  It was my “lonely impulse of delight,”  and I want that back.  I want to be able to fart around with fibre and embroider and crochet and knit and even quilt if the mood strikes me (and this certainly makes me want to give it a try).

I am in the process of clearing out the clutter and pulled a bunch of things out of my bedroom to get rid of yesterday — this is one more thing.

So I will likely not be publishing anymore patterns in the near future, but I do (as I try to always do) reserve the right to change my mind, if I have more time or a particularly entertaining idea.  However, I do plan to continue playing with fibre and blogging, so this page may all start to get a lot more interesting, so I would like to invite you to stick around to see how it turns out.

Thank you all for reading so far.

And with it my Lace cardigan pattern (Ravelry link here):

And I even made the cover — it just doesn’t get any more gratifying than that.  It really doesn’t.  This is my first crochet pattern, and now that it has all worked out okay I can admit it, the first thing I have crocheted in almost ten years.

If you would like to purchase the electronic version of the magazine you can get it here:

And to think I thought I was tired today.

The preview is up for Yarn Forward, No. 25 fro June 2010 and with it my Sheffield Vest (Ravelry link):

It is so strange to see it as I didn’t knit the sample or ever even see it — I just sent off a pattern and several months later this is what comes of it.

This is the one I knit for myself:

It was knit with Noro Taiyo (Ravelry link) in colourway 1.

It is one of my favourite hand knit garments.  I like to wear it under one of my other favourites — a grey cardigan (not hand knit, that would be a bit much).

I have not been as idle as you may think I have been since I last wrote.  First things first – I finished these mittens (knit using Mari Muinonen’s pattern Yellow Harvest Mittens from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008):

And got help taking a picture of them, which was more touch and go.

I also got a new job, which has kept me quite busy, but now it really is mine, rather than just having me acting in it, and it is with the same organization, which avoids me looking flighty.  Or more flighty than usual – anyone with more knitting projects on the go than she can count has to have some amount of flightiness about them, but I would rather not broadcast it on my resume.

Spring has more or less sprung, and I got to tell someone new to the province that it would likely snow again, which didn’t impress her at all, but I got to pretend I was old and wise and all that.

I hope you are all doing well, and hopefully I will get pictures taken soon to show you the sweater I have completed.  With the mittens, it completes two projects finished since the new year, which justifies me starting a new one, but now I plan to finish two more, so I am completely in the clear first.  It is a good thing to finish things, but it does make me a little bored.

I finished my second unfinished project this week.  That means that I can start a new project with complete impunity at any time.  Of course I could have started a new project any time before finishing two projects, but this year I decided to finish two projects for every one I start.  I guess it is silly to talk about a New Year’s resolution like a wish coming true, but some times it feels that way.

I guess one just has to grab the bull by the horns, take responsibility for one’s own fate, and all that. I confess I have decided not to make any important New Year’s resolutions, because I think that if I think something is really sufficiently important to do, then I should just do it.  It seems like a capitulation of some kind to treat change as something that requires a special day, but for my hobby I think it is a perfect time to give in to tradition and have a resolution instead of being so puritanical.

I finished the sweater in the previous post and in so doing have freed a wonderful amount of knitting paraphernalia, including stitch holders (I haven’t had access to real stitch holders since 2008, and I can tell you that waste yarn works almost as well in most ways and in some ways is actually better) and 6.5mm knitting needles (date since last access also 2008).

Saying this makes me wonder if I ever needed or will need them at all, because if I didn’t use them in two years, will I ever really need them?

This is definately the road down which asceticism of some kind lies, and I don’t want to get carried away, but I am trying to keep getting rid of things until I only have things I think beautiful or know to be useful — that is surely a more elegant way of putting it than most of the de-cluttering show hosts use (this is a very loose quotation from William Morris).

Well you may have not believed me when I said it (I may have been too sheepish to actually tell you, but I am now too lazy to check), but I have in fact decided to finish two projects for every one I start for a while, so that I can reduce the shameful number of unfinished objects in my knitting basket.  That is a little lie right there – they don’t fit in my knitting basket and haven’t for some time. They are in my knitting basket, in bags in the closet, in bags next to the chair at the foot of my bed, in plastic totes, and box shaped baskets beside my desk.

Yes, it may be getting out of hand.  But I just like starting projects so much more than I like finishing them.  There is so much thrill and potential in a new project.  You can go out and buy yarn (I cringe to say it), fuss around about the pattern (either deciding to buy one or write one), pull out the perfect set of needles (my needle resources are much diminished by being all over the house with half knit projects on them instead of in the vases on my desk so I can use them), cast on, then drop the whole thing for something else.  I am not talking about changing my mind and ripping out the knitting and starting something new – that is a decision, but just dropping what I am doing and starting something else.  This goes on to such a degree that I have actually needed to buy needles lately – I should never need to buy needles again unless I sit on them or something like that.

So I am finishing two projects for every one I start.  I finished the first one already, it is mittens with photos to come.  What to do next was more difficult to decide, but finally my gaze fell on this one:

I started this project in approximately November 2008 – the blog gives me away.

I started working on it again yesterday, and after experiencing the inevitable negative emotions that throwing a bunch of what is essentially string in not very secure bunches in a bag and leaving it there for over a year, but periodically pulling it out, looking at it, and putting it back, give rise to:

I have worked the front and back to the shoulder shaping, and have run into a little problem arising from not actually figuring out how the sweater would end before I started, and I am not sure I can make the stitch repeat work for the sleeves, i.e. I think they will need to either be too wide or too narrow.

I have however, come up with a brilliant, if somewhat nefarious plot — I may make it a sleeveless sweater.  I plan to finish it this weekend, and I already know what the next project I start will be.

The preview of Yarn Forward issue 23, including my entrelac gloves was posted today:

I hope you enjoy the pattern.  I know I enjoyed knitting the one and a half gloves I have knit from the pattern so far.  The samples were knit by Jenny, and they were knit using Noro Silk Garden Sock.

Classic Elite Yarns has released their new pattern line for summer 2010, including my Feather and Fan Cardi (see the Classic Elite Yarns website and Ravelry page):

I hope you like it — I know I enjoyed knitting it, and happily I made myself one very like it too.  I will post pictures of it when I can get some taken.

Right now my very favourite joke is to look out side and say: “It looks like winter wonderland!”

And you know something? I does — for months on end — enough winter wonderland for practically everyone — enough to share with a great many people and enough that it goes on long enough there is very little chance of missing it.

It is so hard for me to let go of things — even things that I know I will never accomplish, but I have decided to quit things that do not get me where I want to be.  Knitting with the knitting machine is one of those things.  It is not that I didn’t have ideas for it, or that it was a bad idea, but I have a job and hand knitting and other things I want to do, and I can’t be good at everything (I want to cross that out and write something more appealing to my vanity, but it is the truth).

I gave it away today, and Jenny can use it instead.  I will watch her productions with interest and leave you with a picture of my most successful project on the knitting machine:

I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and let you know that I have started another project — Bounded in a Nutshell: I plan to talk about my culinary adventures and my exploration of what I really like to eat.  I have decided to become good at cooking.  I know how to cook to some extent now, but I want to be good enough that it becomes an expression.  That may sounds pretentious and for that I apologize, but that is what I want.  I will continue blogging here too, so please stick around.

I know I decided not to start a cooking blog, but I reserve the right to change my mind as I am frequently wrong.  I tell myself that this is okay as long as long as I am not too wedded to my opinions.

I have been working on a crochet pattern and my mittens over the holidays and will have some pictures soon — I am so looking forward to wearing them.

As I am not sure how good it would be for us to actually implement all the things we say we want to achieve, I hope that you all are able to implement your new year’s resolutions proportionately to how good it would actually be for you to achieve them.

What to perfect?

I am not sufficiently disciplined to not want to start something when I decide to stop doing other things.  As not starting something when you stop doing something would just be silly, and much too disciplined for me.  I have stopped selling on Etsy, reading any number of blogs, checking my email too many times a day, watching too much TV, and other things that escape me at the moment.

The corresponding thing I will start doing (again) is knitting others’ patterns.  I am somewhat happy with where my design is, but I feel that if I want to take it to the next level I will need to start knitting others’ patterns.  I have never found classes or discussion to be effective ways for me to learn knitting (I learned almost entirely from books): the only way I have ever really learned anything is from knitting it myself.

I was inspired by this article about Tiger Woods last week.  I want to live in that pursuit of excellence, and have the courage to cut out anything that is not perfection.

I have also started cooking more and as proof — my shopping list of last week:

shoppinglist

I almost think I should start a cooking blog — that may be taking things too far by the time I finished making anything the light would be gone and I couldn’t take good pictures of it.

My midwinter feast of choice is Christmas, and I started decorating yesterday — I have almost completely dropped the ball and haven’t bought a present or written a card, though I did go grocery shopping, so it’s not a complete wash.

I did however pull out the Christmas decorations and decorate a house plant for a tree (it’s my new Norfolk pine):

christmas2009-1

There was a  bit of a snow storm yesterday:

christmas2009-3

Yes, that is snow almost halfway up my window — it’s quite charming today, but I am a little concerned that it will stay there all winter.  We are on the second floor, so surely it will blow off or fall off on someone’s head in a big clump.  If having a bird leave, um — droppings — shall we say, on your shoulder is lucky, them a big pile of snow on your head must be too.

And please remember, when you bite into that gingerbread cookie, that symbolic human sacrifice is an important part of the tradition.

christmas2009-2

Have a wonderful celebration of light coming back into the world.

Merry Christmas!

I was doing some professional reading today and came across this article. The salient question that started the subject of the article to start this process of stopping doing things is “Imagine that you’ve just inherited $20 million free and clear, but you only have ten years to live. What would you do differently—and specifically, what would you stop doing?

I think I need a stop-doing strategy.  There are so many things I have spent so much time doing — there are of course the usual suspects: surfing the Internet in general and Ravelry in particular and watching TV, but there are also other things that just sap my energy and don’t fit into what I really want to accomplish.

After reading about being a professional crafter on Etsy yesterday (see post here), I realized anew that though superficially it looks lovely, and I feel a fair amount of jealousy towards people who are successful, it just isn’t for me.  I don’t want to do that even if I had the time to do it well, which I don’t — it just ends up being hokey, and I hate hokeyness.

This has led me to the decision to pull all my listings from Etsy — and it’s done.

Partly I just don’t like having to mail stuff then getting blamed when it gets stuck in customs.

I wonder what else I should stop doing.  Any suggestions? What do you want to stop doing?

I just saw this article in the New York Times.  It discusses some of the things that I have thought for some time — to put it simply, making a living on Etsy looks hard.  I would probably focus on pattern design as opposed to production work anyway, as that is more satisfying for me personally, and I am not really one for wanting to make the same thing twice, never mind more than that.

If I were unemployed, I would probably try to make a go of my knitting/design career, but I can’t see myself quitting my job to do it full time any time soon — partly because I like it too.

I greatly respect those who do it, and so many people are making such beautiful things, but it really looks hard.  My hat off to all of those who do it.

Addendum: There is also discussion about this at one of my favourite blogs, Poppytalk.  See here.

The new issue of Knitty is up here, along with my Four Corners in Tokyo:

tokyo-1

I know I am a bit late, but I was out of town yesterday.

The sample was knit my Jenny of Spinning Jenny.  If you would like to see how the sample fits with different amounts of ease you can check out her wearing it here.  This was the first pattern that I worked with a sample knitter on directly, and it went so well.  It’s funny when you start doing your hobby professionally – I never thought I would outsource my knitting, but there you go.

Today I have been sitting inside and not going out.  This is part of the reason why:

snowday

There is a windchill warning, and I just don’t feel like it (it is -27 centigrade and feels like -40 — I don’t need to look up what that is in Fahrenheit as that is almost where they are the same).  I am not sure that anywhere in the city is better than right here:

snowday-1

I made myself a nice pot of soup for lunch and continued working on a project with an upcoming deadline, which is the other reason I am not going out.  I am still working on it for several reasons, among them that I started these:

redmittens

They are Mari Muinonen’s Yellow Harvest Mittens from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008, except of course that mine are red  (Hmm, I just noticed there are errata, I wonder if they will affect me yet).

I can’t wait to really get on them when I am done the sweater this weekend.

I really should make myself finish two projects for every one I finish for a while.  The number of unfinished projects is getting a little out of hand.  I don’t propose to be someone who only knits one thing at a time — for me attempting that would just be silly, but maybe five current projects would be feasible.  Now I will just say that I really don’t know how many I am “working on”.

We were out doing a last minute photo shoot today in the sun:

snow-in-november

It was so lovely.  It snowed a little last night, but it wasn’t cold, which is good as I am unsure of the attractiveness of a very red nose and how it will ever induce anyone to knit a sweater.

A couple little girls walked by, and they were very interested in what we were doing.  One of them says to me: “I want to be a model — are you a model?” To which I didn’t have an immediate response — I guess I am, as I model my own designs, it would be a bit different if I were paid to do it, but as it is no one can tell me I can’t.

They told us that designing sweaters is cool, and they would be happy to buy the one I was wearing.  Apparently they thought the lovely Jonathan was proposing, instead of taking my picture, which would have been more exciting than having my picture taken and require much less standing on boggy ground.  Not that I want to imply that having a sweater in Knitty isn’t very exciting indeed.

Having been married and published in Knitty, it is difficult to say which was more exciting the first time — being divorced, I can say that I think getting published in Knitty was.

That isn’t good: I guess I will have to fall back on many more people being married than being published in Knitty and leave it at that.

On softness

I just read an excerpt from The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber in the winter issue of Twist Collective (The Softness Myth by Clara Parkes).  I think this article is full of good observations — yarn should not just be as soft as possible.  I have had the conversation on many occasions about a particular yarn I happen to like and been told it is not soft enough, but I ask you: how soft does yarn need to be?

I confess here that I am quite accepting of scratchy wool and will quite willingly wear a hat that makes me scratch and scratch when I take it off — which of course means a red forehead, but I don’t mind (I generally make sure that any yarn I suggest others use in my yarn suggestions is not too scratchy as I know not everyone shares my particular preferences).  All the same, if you live somewhere really cold — please never underestimate the value of good forehead coverage, it really is important — I gave myself frostbite (or something very close to it) walking to work one day when it was too cold for the car to start and will never forget that particular lesson (other lessons, yes, that one, no).

But all the same yarn should not only be judged on being as soft as possible — there really are all sorts of measures of a yarn, and I am happy to see more discussion on the subject.

I have immediately requested said book from the library to check out what else Clara has to say.

I have been home for the last couple days as I have been sick.

I really feel like I can’t go outside as going out when you are sick is like the new drinking and driving and people will yell at me.

While on the road I spent a fair amount of time knitting in bed (there never seems to be a good place to sit in hotel rooms):

sockfeet

And I finished my socks, but I think I need to do more socks to get the grafting at the end of the toes right.  It just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to — it has nubby bits on each side of the grafting:

socks-1

I can graft quite well when the two sides can butt up against each other flat, but having to do it when the sides were laid on top if each other stymied me a bit.  I will wash them — that first wash takes our all sorts of knitting ills.

Oh well, if I were got at everything when I first tried it life would probably be less rewarding, and I would be less modest, which would most likely do me no good at all.

I would like to try it out for a month or so though.

An epic journey

I recently got back from an epic trip around Saskatchewan.  I didn’t know there were trees and lakes, well someone did tell me, but I didn’t believe them in the real way you believe in something that actually exists — like -40 degree weather, if you haven’t ever lived it, you don’t believe it exists.

But as I knew you might not believe me, I brought back proof:

northernsk-1

It really is genuinely beautiful, and certainly worth the trip.  Especially if you like hunting and fishing (or so I am told).

There were however, a few things that were of concern, like this sign:

northernsk-2

It’s like the earth will just swallow you up and just doesn’t fill one with confidence.

It was the farthest north I have ever been in my whole life and everything looks a little different.  So much so, that I persuaded the person I was with to stop the car so I could take a picture of the ground:

northernsk-3

Who knew lichen could be lush?

I have registered for a spinning course as part of my efforts to become part of the community here, which has inspired me to finish the following skein which I have been “working”* on for several months:

redyarn-1

After the course started, I immediately had to start travelling for my job, which is impinging on my spinning time dreadfully.

I need to wash/set it first, but I think I will count the yardage.  Maybe I have enough for an eccentric hat.  The knitting of said hat will be simple, it will only be eccentric because anything made out of this yarn, when worn on one’s head, must be considered eccentric — it’s the nature of the beast.

redyarn-2

*Had sitting idle on my wheel

On knitting socks

I am almost finished my second sock.  The sock knitting is proceeding at an acceptable speed, but I am having a few hitches.  After completing the knitting on one of the socks and knitting to the end of the heel flap, I realized that I had completely misread the stitch pattern and had to rip out and reknit the first sock back to the heel shaping.

This is not good, because I did a similar thing on the last project I did from someone else’s pattern and had to rip that out too.  I think I may be getting over-confident and need to regain some humility — humility is not really my strong suit, especially where knitting is concerned.  I just figure I will figure it out and you can always rip it out and start again anyway (just don’t try this attitude with mohair).

That is really just a minor upset and a potential outcome of knitting ahead without reading through the whole pattern first — I run into the same problem with cooking and am used to dealing with it.  If I minded it that much, I would change.

The real problem was that I wanted to carry my smaller purse and threw my socks and needles in my pocket.  This was fine on the trip out, and I had a lovely time knitting in the coffee shop, but there was more of a problem coming back because I mustn’t have been careful enough putting on my seat belt and three needles broke in my pocket, so I haven’t been able to knit for the rest of the weekend.

I don’t think I will buy any fine needles in wood again.  I have been knitting with bamboo for years and never had one break or split, and my first set of wood needles broke on my first pair of socks.  The breakage was, I will admit, my fault, but one of them splintered a bit on the side before that, and that I don’t think I deserved.

External forces

I started my new job today.  My alarm went off at 6:15, to make sure I would get to work on time.  I got up made myself a lovely breakfast of slow cooking oatmeal with dates and almonds, got dressed in record time, got out the door with time to spare, and then about half way there, as we were coming up to the train tracks that I didn’t even know were there, the lights started flashing.

Yes a train made me late for my first day of my new job.  It was positively farcical — the train traveled up the tracks, then backed up a bit, then another train came up beside it, then the first train moved forward and back again.  Finally twenty minutes later the road was clear, and I could finally get to work.

I am glad I had a bit of time off, because if that had happened a few weeks ago I would have been ready to jump out of my skin.

My newest family member

onesie-1

On second thought I have two new family members: my uncle has recently had a baby and my sister recently got married.  It’s good to have more family.  Strictly speaking my brother-in-law is the newer family member, but I am not breaking my no hand knitted presents rule for him (as happy as I am to have him), no it is my baby cousin who makes the grade.

I realize that babies are almost fictional beings to me — I have no idea of how big they are, what they do, or what they like.  The main thing that I remember from my babysitting training is that they don’t like being stuck with diaper pins, even if it is by accident, and it is always better to put the baby down than shake it.  So you see, though those points, I am sure, are quite valid, my knowledge is somewhat limited.

I requested a book from the library (The Expectant Knitter: 30 Designs for Baby and Your Growing Family by Marie Connolly) I went to the yarn store and asked about it.  Apparently, you should never knit the newborn size and babies don’t like holey things because their fingers get caught in them — I can see that could be frustrating.  Here is the beginning of the project I came up with:

onesie-2

It is the “cashmere romper” (Ravelry link), but I am knitting it in machine washable cotton.  I don’t think the parents will want to hand wash cashmere and I think the baby will like cotton — I know I do.

I have to say that I am almost ready to knit myself a cotton romper and not care if it looks silly.  I used to have one when I was a teenager and wore it all the time.  I was remarkably odd, but I loved it.  I wish I had kept it, then I could cut it apart and create a new one — but it is probably just as well I didn’t.

Of course one hears a great deal about drinking and driving and how it is a very bad thing, but I have got other things quite wrong while tipsy as well.

A few weeks ago I was in Vancouver and having a glorious time — though I did do something quite painful to my foot then have to stand around for several hours in high heels at my sister’s wedding, which made it swell up and change colour quite impressively.

The first night there I went out for dinner and shopping with a friend.  We went to Zeffirelli’s on Robson street, which is lovely as the food is good and not too expensive and the windows all open across one side, and you can look out into the trees.  In case you were wondering I did not notice any particular problem with birds or bugs coming in.

We ate our pasta and slurped our wine and then we went shopping, and I am somewhat ashamed to admit it, but I actually bought an acrylic sweater.  It was just so pretty and exactly what I wanted, except it was acrylic and I thought it would be no big deal, but in the morning I felt like I had sucked a lemon.  I have to say that I didn’t return it though because it was just so cute and the decision was already made, but I really don’t think I would have done it without the expansiveness of the wine helping out.  I guess it is a little like going grocery shopping hungry.

A couple of months ago, again in Vancouver, I went out with my sister, again for Italian food — I love Italian food, and again had wine with (and before) dinner.  It just took so long for them to seat us and the nice servering staff kept coming to the waiting area and taking drink orders.  Then when we left I paid and then when I woke up in the morning I realixed that I had left a 40% tip (on a fairly substantial bill), apparently because I can’t be trusted to do math while drinking either.

The funny thing is that I was not particularly drunk on either occasion, I guess there is a not very deeply buried part of me that likes to buy acrylic sweaters just because they are really cute and tip extravagantly (or else someone who is just bad at math).  I wonder if that part is more fun than the rest of me. . .

So much has happened since I last wrote.  My sister is married, but not living with the man she is married to, and I am living with a man I am not married to — everything is as it should be more or less (my sister would be quite happy to live with the man she is married to, but I am happy to be living with the man I am not married to).

I got to a bride’s maid for the first time. Which of course means being primped:

hairdo

You can’t tell, but I have a nice cup of coffee in my hands, so it is all good.

I have moved to the thriving metropolis of Regina.  We are very happy with our new apartment and are still putting everything together.  Due to not being in the province the week before we moved (see previous paragraph), we paid movers to pack for us.  This led to us paying to move an empty Snapple bottle and other random objects of no continuing value.

Finally, I have decided to change — what better time for new years type resolutions than moving to another city.  I am quite suspicious of trying to accomplish anything great that you start at the beginning of January — I prefer September and my birthday overall, but surely a new city gives you the potential for a whole new start.  If it doesn’t make you feel too tired or exasperated at my lack of initiative (it really could go either way), here is a shortened list of new initiatives:

I have started running.

I have started outsourcing my knitting when I don’t have time to knit all my samples.

I have decided to keep the place cleaner (what else am I doing with my time anyway? — well aside from knitting, please see previous item).

I have decided to stop getting so worked up about work — it’s just a job after all.

I have started knitting a pair of socks (yes, socks — it’s a red letter change).

I have decided to many other things besides, some of which I can’t recall and some of which I don’t care to share.

I will leave you with a glipse of the brilliance that is my sock:

sock-1

Surely only good things will come of this.

Update

Yesterday was my last day at my job — it is absolutely terrifying to quit the best job you ever had, but now I am kind of enjoying the reversion to my earlier state of looking forward to the next new thing.

I have had a wonderful time in my last days of work — it was like the pope died.  There were more or less three days of festivities with everyone making a fuss over me.  Other people, when they leave, request that nothing happen, I instead said everyone could do whatever they wanted, and they came up with the three days of making a fuss.  That worked out perfectly, because I like it when people make a fuss, but it is awkward to request the fuss yourself.

Soon we will be moving to the fair city of Regina.  The house is, as my mother would say, a bit of a tip — I think we decided to get ready to move too soon, which encouraged us to take everything out of the cupboards and drawers and not put it back.

I tried to sell the dreaded knitting machine the problem is that I am just not that interested in production work, though the thought of being able to make breezy little cardigans that would easily fit under a coat in a few days has a wonderful amount of appeal.  No one however, seems the least inclined to buy it, so I think I will keep it and see if I can get it going.

We have a lovely place lined up in Regina — it has, wait for it . . . a bathtub.  It is good when you can take pleasure in the little things.  It also doesn’t have a yard and as anyone who is a longtime reader will know I am not much of a gardener, so overall an improvement in accomodation, and there are all new restaurants there, including a lovely Afghan one, which has us quite excited.

So basically my life has intruded into my knitting and I don’t have much to say on that front yet, but I promise I am getting there.

I feel like I have been knitting feather and fan all summer (which I kind of have been doing):

featherandfan-2

I am really enjoying exploring the possibilities of the pattern.  I will give you more details about the projects later.

featherandfan-1

I am also over the moon because I have received my very first acceptence for a crochet pattern.  In life I think it really doesn’t get much better than that.

I apologize for ignoring you so badly for the last few days.  I am working on moving and other things.  A quick update:

I have a place to live, which is very exciting as Regina has a 0.7% vacancy rate.   It’s crazy.  Strangers come up to you if you are in a coffee shop looking at the classifieds and ask if you are looking for a place to live, then make a face when you say that you are.  It is a lovely place so we are happy.

I have 10 more days at my job.

I will be a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding this month, and I haven’t tried on my dress yet — I bought it off the Internet.  I so sincerely hope it fits.

We have movers lined up.

My most recent major knitting project with a deadline has been completed and sent.

I need to go through everything and get rid of everything I don’t need as we will be charged by the pound.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I will likely continue to post sporatically for the next few weeks, but will be back on the horse in September — I promise.

Well it is official — I am no longer going to be laid off in the near future, I resigned instead.  I have a new (not knitting related) job, and I will be moving to Regina next month.  I feel so happy that the ambiguity is over, and I get to move to  a new city which I love (I love new cities in general not Regina yet[?]).

I am absolutely smitten with the Golden Willow already and can’t wait to check out Hip 2 Knit.

(Knitting content to return soon)

I have started to exert more efforts to rationalize my life.  One of the steps has been to hire a sample knitter — it really doesn’t get any better than this.  I keep telling people because I am pleased as punch with myself, but I think they all think I am cheating.

I just find that I end up knitting two of everything as the sample always needs to be in different yarn from the original.  I can’t produce more than I am now, but I have more ideas than I know what to do with.  In my head I am always about five projects ahead of the one I am knitting.

It is wonderfully freeing, but I had the hardest time passing over the yarn for the first project.  It takes a big leap of faith.

Overall I am tremendously proud of myself; I feel I am enriching the fibre economy by ploughing some money back in.

I missed my flight yesterday.

That’s right, I missed my flight.  I have never missed one before.  I was at my sister’s and all packed in perfect time to get to the airport in time to eat lunch at the airport before my 1:00 flight, and I checked to make sure I had the exact time right, and my flight was boarding in about 10 minutes because I was off by two hours.

I was so hysterical I couldn’t see the paper because my hands were shaking so hard.  I called the customer service line and of course got put on hold.

In the end I went to the airport and walked up to the ticket counter, and all I had to do was change my ticket.  They didn’t even charge me for the price difference, just a change fee — she said that I was the only person all day who didn’t try to blame anyone else at all, just myself.

There are so many things that are so terrifying in advance, but in reality you just deal with it and move on.

While away I bought a whole bunch of yarn, if you are in Vancouver go to Urban Yarns they are having an amazing sale.  I also got to pick up my jumbo flier kit for my spinning wheel — I would like to warn you that airport security looks twice at sealed boxes with unidentified hardware inside.  They do seem to let spinning wheel parts through though.  She asked: “Is there a screw driver in there?” and I had no idea (a few seconds later I learned there isn’t).

Something that always interests me is the riot of production of crafts that must have happened in the Victorian period.  We are used to seeing the Victorian period through the lens of movies, and it looks so wonderful, but I think that if actually confronted with real Victoriana that many of us would think it was not in the best of taste.

If you don’t believe me, please walk through an antique store and really look at what was in people’s houses.  The thing that comes to my mind is a red and dark wood upright couch and chair set in an antique store close to my house that is really and truly hideous.  Mass production takes some of the variety out of choice in what to have, and crafting puts it back — you can really make anything you want within the limits of your imagination, available supplies, and skill.  Some of the things people come up with may not be as well conceived as others.  Mass production is mediated through professional designers of various sorts.

There is of course no reason for anyone to go around being the crafting police and making people feel bad.  Everyone should get to make anything that makes them happy, but I think there is a reason that William Morris said “Have nothing in your house you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” — It’s because there were so many ugly things in people’s houses — like crochet/beer can hats.

There was such variety in crafting then — embroidery, knitting, crochet, hairpin lace, other laces or various ilks, sewing, rug hooking, patchwork, and many others that don’t immediately come to mind.  All  those women without jobs (though I would hazard that jobs overall may be somewhat overrated), all producing as much as un-idle hands could day in and day out.

Consider for a moment that the Victorian period saw the invention of artificial dyes, perhaps most notably mauve.  It is no wonder that people got a little over excited.

I am knitting up a storm on projects I can’t share, so I thought I would share a few projects I have made over the years instead.

First example (Ravelry project link):

bluelacesweater

This was about the fourth sweater I ever knit.  The pattern is by Adrienne Vittadini and was published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2003 (Ravelry link here).

The sample was knit in a lovely soft wool, alpaca, mohair blend, but I made mine in a cotton, linen blend, as I wanted a summer sweater.  I think the lace pattern read better in the softer yarn, and I was a little overly ambitious.  There is one glaring mistake in the lace, but overall I was and am happy with it.

I have had one of the grouchiest weeks of my life.  Everything seemed so hard — I couldn’t even bake right:

piefiasco

Then I got so mad I left the kitchen like this for three days:

piefiasca

My love did not get his favourite coconut cream pie on his birthday this year, but he did a few days later.

Cookie crumb crust is easier.   Four birthdays together and I still can’t get the pie right on the first try.

Hopefully change is in the wind.

I recently received a question from a reader about the possibility of making money knitting.  She said that she wants to make money, but she can’t find anyone who who will fairly compensate her for her time and skill.  I think this is a wider concern and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the subject with all of you as well:

I think this is a universal problem. I have known weavers for years, and they have never achieved making minimum wage from their work. I don’t sell many finished objects because of this. I basically make things I want to make and sell those or let them sit there and look pretty.

I figure it fleshes out my Etsy listings and helps sell my patterns. When I used to work in a craft gift shop I found that you need big expensive things to sell the small things (for more of a discussion on this see this post). A lot of the things on Etsy that sell well are things like wrist warmers, which are very small and inexpensive.

It seems to me that many people who produce handmade or local made clothing try to simplify construction to keep costs down — no linings, no finished hems etc. That brings me to other items that seem to sell well — bulky, loosely knit or crocheted items that don’t take much time.

If you really want to pursue knitting as a professional activity I would suggest starting to find some clients to do some sample knitting for designers or publishers — I think they pay a bit better, though they do demand excellent results. You could also see about knitting for high end boutiques or something like that, but I think you will likely need to design your own patterns. I think some people do well that way. I think people can make livings as designers, but that depends on another set of skills.

Depending on your geographic location and many factors you could look into producing knitwear for movie costumes etc., but you might need to design your own patterns then too.  I also believe that people can be well paid for producing knitwear for couture and other high end design houses, but that too depends a great deal on geography (New York as opposed to Los Angeles) and the ability to translate design sketches into finished garments.

I heard or read somewhere that Lily Chin made money (a living?) during college crocheting snoods for the ballet market.  If I recall correctly, she made basically every snood being sold in the United States at the time.   If I am wrong, I will be disappointed, because I love that story.  I wish I had thought of making snoods (or something else) in class when I was in university — it’s brilliant.  Then maybe I could be the world’s fastest crocheter (probably not, but I can dream).

I don’t know that any of these options pay particularly well, but they are options you can explore, if any of these options work, I would very happy to have you let me know.

Here I am sitting here in my living room knitting away after my breakfast of oatmeal and tea (yes, I have granny tenancies), listening to an older podcast from Craftsanity, and knitting up a storm.

In the interview with Lexi Boeger she mentions her spinning wheels (see the podcast about 43 minutes in).  I confess I want a wheel like her bulky antique one, but what really caught me was when she was talking about her Ashford Traveller, she says she uses a quill attachment, which allows her to spin more bulky yarns.  I didn’t know about this at all, so I Googled it and came up with this:

quill-lg

(From the Ashford website, here)

I have to say that I am quite unsure about what is happening with that and how it gets on the bobbin.  It looks like the yarn winds around that part that sticks out, but how you would ever ply it, without having to rewind it onto something else first, I really couldn’t say.

I have ordered a jumbo flier for mine, which I am looking forward to getting because I like the bulky yarns and regularly get them stuck in the orifice (how often do you get to use that word?).

If anyone can enlighten me on how the quill works, I would greatly appreciate it.  If not I think I may need to dig deeper.

Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter is being profiled in this week’s Berroco Knitbits newsletter, including a picture of my Tofino:

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They have also included a free version of the Windandsea Sun Hat by Kristi Porter:

I have been reading and considering the viewpoints of the members of the Crochet Designers’ Group on Ravelry in this discussion thread.  They are discussing ways to help change the mindset of many crocheters who don’t like crocheting garments, but prefer to crochet housewares and other items.  I have been considering the discussion for several days, and while I completely understand how this could be frustrating for designers who would like to design other things, I think we should examine what we define as a successful design.

Specifically, I think we should examine the purpose of publishing fancy garments in fine yarns in magazines: in one of my jobs several years ago I used to manage a craft gift shop. The previous manager had focussed heavily on smaller items as those were what tended to sell, but I found that without the bigger expensive items the cheaper items didn’t sell as well — the big pieces sold the small pieces.

I haunt the local book and yarn stores searching for crafting magazines and books, and I will buy a magazine or a book for the masterpiece project that would take months to complete, and I will read it again and again. I may not make it, in fact I probably won’t, as I have more things to knit and crochet than I fear I will ever finish, but it sold the magazine – is that a failure of the design? Does every pattern written for publication need to be made over and over? There are so many other measures of success: it may improve your reputation, or make a fan, or sell the magazine that will sell yarn and help you get more business in the future, because you made that fabulous thing that people remember. All of these things are important and help your career, and I wouldn’t consider that outcome a failure, even if only two people ever make it.

Those designs are kind of like the wedding dress at the end of a fashion show — not many people are in the market for a wedding dress, but it can be over the top and designed for the most special day in a person’s life (whether the day is in fact the most special day is beside the point — the dress is designed for the most special day — I suspect that most most special days happen when you are naked, or in a hospital gown, or jeans, or pajamas, etc.).  Some designs are like that — they are designed to be masterpieces of the crafter’s art, and they will likely be made less than something more approachable that requires less expense, time, and thought — but that doesn’t mean they are not successes.

Yesterday I sent off my very first crochet pattern submission.  It feels like such a plunge.  It is also my first submission in hard copy — it had a swatch attached and everything. If any of you have any understanding of how you are supposed to attach your name and contact information to a swatch without pasting or stapling it, I would be most grateful to be enlightened.

I am so proud of myself to have my application put together and mailed on time.  I consider every submission to be a great personal triumph against the demons of self doubt and procrastination.

It doesn’t matter at this point if my design gets accepted or not, I have won in the battle against myself.

All the same, if you have a chance, put down your knitting or crochet or whatever you have in your busy hands, and cross your fingers a moment for me, because I am pleased as punch with my design and the thought of getting it published in the unnamed venue.

One of the questions that often arises for me is how to make the best use of handspun, bulky, and novelty yarns

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These yarns are often expensive, detailed, and bulky, and there is often not enough to make anything of any great size. I want to make something with these yarns, large enough to be useful, and that shows the artistry in their making.

I find that many crafters approach knitting from the perspective of a spinner or approach spinning from the perspective of a knitter. I think spinners who come to knitting often want ways to use their handspun yarns and want to knit something very simple, which makes sense when using many novelty yarns, but the detail of the yarns can get lost in the stitches.

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Knitters who come to spinning often want simple yarns in fabulous colours and fibres to use for more knitting focussed projects.

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I have tried both, and both have appeal, but I would like to propose a third way – there are techniques and styles and projects that can make use of beautiful handspun yarns of every description and show them to advantage, and here I must confess that many of my ideas in this area are heavily influenced by Debbie New.

I bought both these yarns from Milkyrobot’s Etsy Store

Girls Throw Snow (40 yards / 36.5m):

milkyrobotyarn-1

And Earthworm (46 Yards / 42m):

milkyrobotyarn-2

When they arrived I was really unsure about what to do with them. I was worried that they were too intricate to show all their detail and too short to make much if knit by themselves. Every centimetre of these yarns is beautiful, and I would hate to hide whole sections of them behind cables or on the back side of something.

For the Girls Throw Snow yarn I mixed it with some grey fingering yarn I had lying around that matched one of the accent colours, and knit it in an irregular version of Debbie New’s squiggle lace using large needles (pattern):

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For the Earthworm yarn I wanted to make things more interesting and combined several yarns:

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In a long strip:

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That I crocheted together into a scarf at the end using Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique (Ravelry link):

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I especially like the way the mohair lace weight makes transparent sections.

These projects show these yarns as I wanted them to be shown and have enough knitterly interest to keep mine.

I could probably be induced to produce a pattern for the Earthworm scarf too, if enough of you leave comments on my blog here.

I must take a moment to recommend this book:

homemadelife

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette

It is so charming.  I have it out of the library — it is overdue and have finished reading it, but she had me at the stewed prunes and chocolate bread, and I can’t bear to return it.  This is juvenile I know, and fines are accumulating daily.

I have called the bookstore, and they have one on hold for me.  I just can’t go through life not cooking those recipes and reading her stories, and they have eight copies, so I don’t have to.

Unfortunately Molly is taking a break from her blog.  I am looking forward to new posts and reading the backfiles.

I have invited Shawn O’Hagan of Island Sweet (blog, Etsy shop) to tell us about her fibre art.  I enjoy her yarns and knitting so much, and I thought that it would be great to ask her a little abut her process:

islandsweet-3

Can you please tell me a bit about yourself?

I was a painter for 30 years. I have a Masters Degree in Painting. 10 years ago I decided I didn’t want to paint anymore. I no longer enjoyed the “art scene”. I felt I had nothing left that I wanted to paint. In the summer of 2000 I did an artist residency in Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, Canada (where I live), and took only fabric and thread and needles. I began making “fabric collages” – just playing with colour and texture. I wanted to make things that people could use – not just hang on their walls, so my collages became pillow covers and quilts. A few years later I picked up a rug hooking kit and began rug hooking with a passion.

islandsweet-4

How long have you been working with fibre, what induced you to start and what craft did you start with?

I have always been a knitter. I was selling my knitwear (mostly hats and baby clothes) in shops and through the Craft Council. 2 years ago I was in New York City, and at PurlSoho, I picked up a skein of yarn from “Ozark Handspun“. I didn’t know that this kind of yarn existed! I knew immediately that I wanted to knit with that kind of yarn but couldn’t afford to buy it, knit it, then sell the product for a profit. So I needed to learn how to spin.

I am especially inspired by your spinning: can you give me some idea of your creative process?

I began spinning with a drop spindle in January 2008. I used this (along with hand carders) for 6 months. I used this early spun yarn for accent in my handknit scarves. In May I purchased a wheel (the Ashford Kiwi). In June I went to the Spinner’s Loft in Nova Scotia and took a wonderful 5 day workshop on the basics of spinning (I wanted to learn how to do it right, and then make it my own…) and in Oct I got a second hand Louet drum carder. By then was I confident enough about my yarn, and spinning in large enough quantity, to begin selling it.

Do you work from the fibre to your idea or from your idea to the fibre?

Sometimes I start a skein of yarn with an external inspiration – for example – a flower in my garden. Or a work of art (I still draw on my art background). Or a colour combination I see in a dress in a fashion magazine. I keep a sketchbook for ideas – colour combinations, titles etc.

Sometimes I just choose colours almost randomly and after the skein is finished I decide what it reminds me of. Often one skein of yarn leads right into another with just a slight variation.

Where do you find your fibre and how much of the processing do you do yourself (dying, carding, etc.)? What do you look for in fibre for your work?

I buy most of my fibre undyed from Louet in Ontario. I use it in its natural state – white, grey, cream, brown, black. For colour I use natural plant dyes. I use what is around me – dandelions, lily of the valley leaves, goldenrod. Or I buy natural plant dyes in powder form from Maiwa in Vancouver. I have just purchased their Cipa dyes (they are acid dyes but with fewer chemicals in them) in order to get brighter colours. I buy colourful roving from other etsy spinners. I use all types of fibre – wool – shetland and blue faced leicester are my favourite. Mohair fibre locks for texture. Plant fibres such as bamboo and hemp. Soysilk is my all time favourite. I add angelina or firestar often for a little glitter.

Can you give me more information about your spinning technique? Do you spin from batts or roving? Do you bring in locks and other materials as you spin or do you incorporate everything you will include in the yarn when you process your fibre in preparation for spinning?

I lay down a “base” colour (usually with shetland or blue faced leicester). Then I start adding more fibres for colour and texture. I then run it all through the carder one or two times depending on how much blending I want at the end. I may add more fibre locks to the batt as I am spinning so the locks will stand out even more.

What kind of spinning equipment do you use? Is there anything you want, but don’t have yet or that you have, but feel wasn’t worth the money?

I’m happy with my wheel and equipment. I’d love to have another wheel that is more portable (like the ashford “joy”). I take my wheel to craft shows and markets, and to the cabin, so more portability would be great. But a second wheel will have to wait…

I always want to make wonderful singles like some of your yarns like this one:

islandsweet-1

But I always end up with the single being too over spun to use that way — do you have any advice on how to fix that problem?

I almost only spin singles. Plying is too regular for me. It somehow feels that it encases the yarn, binds it up, and doesn’t allow it to breathe. To avoid over spinning I think just play with the tension.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start spinning and is inspired by your yarns?

If you want to start spinning – start with a spindle. It’s easy and cheap (I bought mine on etsy for $12.00). You learn the “feel” of the yarn. You get used to drafting. You’ll know soon enough if you want to get deeper into it. And don’t aim for perfection if that’s not the look that you want.

Your knitting is also lovely.  I enjoy your style of knitting, but I have trouble taking the full plunge into being as freeform as your work is:

islandsweet-2

Do you have any advice on how to overcome timidity in relation to colour and how to loosen up?

I sell my knitwear. Because of this, the pattern can’t be too complicated because it would take too long to knit and I wouldn’t be able to make any money. I’ve simplified all my patterns to very basic shapes (for example, my baby pullover is basically 4 rectangles – 2 large and 2 small). The interest lies in the yarn. Be brave with your colour choices. Keep an eye out for what colour combinations are exciting to you and make note of them.

Finally I have a mundane question that always fascinates: do you make a living from your fibre art? How close are you to it? Is it a goal for you?

And yes – I basically make a living from my fibre. I teach 1 art course in the winter term at the local university but aside from that, it’s all fibre. I live in Newfoundland where it’s easier to live simply and cheaply. I sell my yarn and knitwear on etsy ( I sell in craft shops and at craft fairs [such as the Toronto One of a Kind]). I work hard. Being self-employed, and working with fibre, it’s rare for me not to have fibre in my hands from 8:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night. I’m trying this summer to cut back…

When I was in Ottawa I enjoyed the food very much, and I ate breakfast at the Moulin de Provence, which was by my hotel and enjoyed my daily latte and brioche.  I ogled, but did not sample, the dessert case:

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I must say that Barak Obama seems to be doing a fine job as president from this side of the border, but I did doubt his judgment as he was there the week previously and only got cookies like this:

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What was he thinking? I am not altogether sure they even look like food.

While I was there I also had a bit of a run in with food poisoning and didn’t feel like eating much, but I would like to nominate a new perfect food for when you have a stomach ache:

blueberries

Blueberries make everything a bit better.

I recently got rid of one of the first sweaters I ever knit.  I loved that sweater and wore it all the time.  I was the asymmetrical cardigan by Norah Gaughan published in the holiday 2004 issue of Vogue Knitting (Ravelry link, unfortunately there is no photo).

It is knit by casting on the stitches for one side of the front, then knitting over the shoulder for the sleeve and down the back.  Then the stitches for the other sleeve are cast on and the sides are knit horizontally.  The two pieces are then sewn together and the stitches for the ribbing are picked up and knit.

It really is a brilliant design, and I loved the sweater, but I was not as good a knitter as I am now.  I think it was the third sweater I ever knit, and there are some issues with it (sorry about the quality of the photo):

sleeve-trouble1

Yes, the right sleeve is about 5 inches (13cm) longer than the left — hmm.

I didn’t know then, as I do now, that knitting stretches a lot more long the stitches than the rows.  I followed the pattern, but sometimes that isn’t enough: sometimes you need to understand what is happening.

I didn’t get quite the results I dreamt of, but I still loved the sweater, and why would I want to go through life without experimenting?

I just spent a few days in Ottawa.  I found it very interesting thinking about how it compares with Washington DC.  Washington is so neoclassical, while Ottawa is Gothic:

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I was very careful to check on yarn stores in Google before I went and here is what I found when I got to the yarn store near my hotel:

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Yes, that is a for rent sign in the window.

Later I went with a friend to Yard Forward & Sew On and Wabi Sabi.  I probably have been too lazy buzy to get there by myself.  They are both quite lovely, but very different, but I didn’t buy anything.

I may have made this confession before here, as it is something I dwell on, but it still kind of astonishes me — I have never knit a pair of socks.

I have approached it, but never actually crossed that line in the yarn to knitting a pair of honest to goodness socks.  I knit a pair of slipper-socks once —Padded Footlets by Mary Snyder from Interweave Knits summer 2005 (no back issues available from Interweave) and Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave.

I gave the finished socks to my mother, so they are not available to photograph, but here is the picture from Interweave/Ravelry:

iwpshopinfointerweavecom-1footlets

Mine are similar in colour, but I knit them using Sisu.  This is a lovely pattern, though I didn’t enjoy knitting the padded sole, I can see that it is an inherently good idea.  Sometimes when I visit my Mum lets me borrow them, and I kind of wish I had kept them.

But a real pair of socks never.

I guess I haven’t really understood the logic in knitting something that will get hidden in shoes.  I also am not in general a cold footed person.  I do however, really want to knit hosiery on my knitting machine.  That will almost be the most exciting thing ever (well, the most exciting knitting related thing), if I can ever get the thing to consistently work for me.  I like really short socks and socks at least long enough to come up to my knees — sock patterns are predominantly designed to come to mid calf.  This of course is a stupid observation because I design knitting patterns and could make whatever socks I want, whatever length I want, but I always come back to sweaters.

There are other things I have never knit — shrugs, blankets, pants, skirts, bags, pillows.  I guess I just like knitting sweaters and gloves.

These however:

mari2-1_medium

Would really be worth cracking out the needles for.  They are by Mari Muinonen and published in the current issue of Vogue Knitting (spring/summer 2009), Ravelry link here.  I think I would make them a little longer and substitute a lace wieght yarn in a dark colour, like this.

A parting picture to muse on:

mari1_medium

I have been a little preoccupied lately, so I will probably continue to be a bit sporadic in posting for some time longer, but I am trying to pull myself together. Nothing so very bad is happening, but it feels bad now — in the grand scheme of things it will all be fine.

And, today I came home to a very exciting surprise:

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This would not be such a great surprise, though I do really like getting knitting magazines and reading material in general in the mail, but look at what is on page 28:

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This is my first design published in a real live print magazine. I am so happy with the way in turned out.

Here is the next step towards my yarn from these batts I made:

curlybits

I haven’t done any yarn with curls before. I am very excited about how it will turn out, but not ironically excited enough to ply it yet. Perhaps today will be the day.

Here is one of the pictures of my Tofino sweater from Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter:

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As you can see Kristi has a taste for more tasteful colours than me. This one was in knit in Berroco Bonsai in Raku Brown (Ravelry link) and my original sample was knit in Phildar Phil’Bambou in red (Ravelry link), which is a lovely yarn, but it doesn’t have as much memory as the Bonsai.

I am very excited to get this sweater back in a year.

I have spent a great deal of wasted emotional energy feeling bad about not finishing various projects. It made me feel so liberated when I sent off this sweater to Kristina Wong and when I finished this shawl.

In case any of you are interested in similar release (to the first example, not the second — that kind is up to you), I just came across this art project by Rachael Matthews. You can also sign up to finish other people’s projects — imagine the good feeling of releasing them from crafty purgatory.

Here is her statement:

Dear Knitter,

UFO Project Administration Service was the answer to a proposal I was asked to give for the Jerwood Contemporary Makers 2009 Exhibition. The exhibition will run from 10th June -19th July at the Jerwood Space in London and will then tour.

You are invited to take part in helping us complete Planet Earth’s UFOs. All the UFOs are posted opposite. Some are ‘WAITING’ for YOU, and some have been ‘TAKEN’ by SOMEBODY!

Take chances, make choices, tell stories, imagine the possibilities, and connect to the bottom draw of other knitters across the globe.

Please leave comments, and for more information or to book a UFO, e-mail ufo@prickyourfinger.com

Happy knitting and love,

Rachael Matthews

There is also a Ravelry group here.

I love the idea of getting rid of UFOs — and contributing to the world of art. I first heard about Rachael Matthews in her profile in KnitKnit: Profiles + Projects from Knitting’s New Wave by Sabrina Gschwandtner, which really is s splendid book.

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Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter will be released this weekend:

Excitingly, it includes my pattern “Tofino” (Ravelry link here)

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I can’t wait to see the sample in Berroco Bonsai professionally photographed. My copy of the book should get here soon.

The Yarn Forward previews for issue 14, June 2009 are up here, including the pattern for my Forest Inspired Pullover (Ravelry link here):

yf14-sarah-sweater

Image copyright: St Range Photography

It is strange to see my pattern modeled by someone else. I remember Stefanie Japel mentioning feeling that way on her blog, and it is true — the first time it is definately odd, especially as I didn’t knit the sample.

Pictures of my personal version coming soon. . .

Here is my Sideways Grande Cloche by Laura Irwin (Ravelry link here):

sidewaysribhat

This is a lovely pattern from Boutique Knits: 20+ Must-Have Accessories. I had a good time knitting it, but I did not quite beat the end of winter — which I will certainly not complain about.

It has one of the main criteria for a winter hat in Saskatchewan — good forehead coverage.

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I was not able to get to my spinning yesterday as planned, instead I ran around and applied for jobs and cleaned.  Here are a few pictures of my sleepy and relaxed holiday of last week:

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Real spring is so wonderful.  It is still coming here, but the weather is warm.

Sorry to be incommunicado for the last few days. I have been traveling again. Here is a bit of carding I did before I left:

Until now I haven’t done any carding with different colours and fibres which makes the glorious batts I really admire – perhaps I was lazy and perhaps I was scared and perhaps I just liked doing one thing for a while. This is the time I decided to take the plunge; here is the fibre I used:

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Here is some carding in process:

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And here is a bit of a close up of the batt and locks (I haven’t spun with locks yet either):

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Pictures of what I did with them tomorrow.

I could sit around and watch TV and crochet pseudospheres all day long. Here is my second one:

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These are fun: they are intellectual without actually requiring concentration while you do them. This one used the last of the Noro Taiyo yarn I had lying around and the same hook as the last one (here).

I started with one stitch in the middle and crocheted two stitches into every three stitches.

I am now working on a hyperbolic plane.

Being back in Saskatoon is interesting after being in Vancouver because spring is so different. The temperature is about the same now, but the vegetation is not quite so luxuriant:

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There are just a few leaves poking through:

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It never feels like the trees are waiting to take over.

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The grass is waiting to take over instead, though apparently the grasslands would not return without the fires that used to be set every spring. There would instead be park land with trees and grass.

Looks like the folks over at Ravelry edit their webpage too:

ravelry

I hate it when I do that. . . I wonder if you can have your blog in beta.

Apologies to everyone who has come here and found everything in an unfit state for visitors. At home I on occasion descend into a state of C.H.A.O.S (can’t have anyone over), but the blog stays open for everyone to visit — maybe that will teach me not to be so lax.

I doubt it.

I just got back from Vancouver and remembered my camera this time.

Spring is so lovely there, though late this year:

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I love the riot of vegetation. It always feels like it is waiting to take over:

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I also tried to get to knitterly pursuits, but ended up spending most of my time on more prosaic things that pay bills better.

Well it seems that one has to come up with names for everything when you blog so this is my “dark magma heart”:

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It is a pseudosphere: a hyperbolic version of a cone. I read A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space (as as I wrote about here) and of course rushed out to my stash and grabbed some yarn I had left over from a secret project (I wrote about this yarn already here).

So this is the result.

hyperbolicplane-2

These are fun. It is constructed by crocheting one stitch at the centre then working in the round, increasing into every second stitch. It starts out as if it were nothing special and getting more exciting every round. I left the tail at the centre as the centre of a pseudosphere as the centre point reaches infinity; you could also hang it from something.

I have listed it on my Etsy account here.  You can also see my project page on Ravelry here.

Famously, when you walk around with a hammer everything looks like a nail — I walk around with a ball of yarn and various implements itching to make it into something else.

I recently came across a book that shows me I am not alone (if all of you reading blogs on the subject are not enough to tell me that already): A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space by Margaret Wertheim (you can order it here), published by the Institute for Figuring.  Of course, I had to order one immediately.

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It’s all about geometry from the perspective of needlecraft — and crochet being one of the best ways to represent hyperbolic space. I have seen several articles about this in various knitting and crochet magazines over the years, but this is the first chance I have had the chance to really get into the theory of the thing.

hyperbolic-2

I have been short of reading material in the last few days, and this will be just the ticket. I haven’t had the immediate opportunity to learn anything about theoretical geometry in years, I think I miss it.

The previews for the spring and summer issue of Vogue Knitting are out here. I am completely smitten with some of the patterns.

I especially like the new neutrals story. there really is something I can’t define but find irresistable about an asymmetrical sweater.

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I am so excited because I got a subscription to Vogue Knitting for Valentine’s Day this year and this will be my first issue for a while that will be delivered right to my door.

I just got back from Vancouver, and on one of my flights there (it always seems to take two) I sat next to an Indian man. He was wearing a turban and traditional clothing, including a white cotton wrap that had a wonderful woven in edging in red and gold.

As I was knitting I dropped my yarn on the floor and picked it up. He gently took the yarn off my knee and put it on his own. He then proceeded to measure out more yarn for me each time I needed it until I had finished my ball and stopped knitting. He even reeled it out and rewound it when the mechanically wound ball was too small and no longer held together properly. I was impressed with his dexterity with it. I think he must have had some practice with weaving or other textiles, because I can’t imagine anyone being able to manipulate yarn so gracefully without some practice.

We talked a bit after I stopped knitting, but he didn’t speak English very well, and I don’t speak any Indian languages. I was happy to meet someone who is a kindred spirit in fibre.

I have finally gotten my knitting machine “working,” well a bit better than I did last time.

knittingmachine-1

This is some lovely silk/alpaca in lace weight from Princess Farms. I wanted to make a shawl in plain stockinette — you would think that this would not be so difficult for one familiar with the ways of the fibre, such was myself (or perhaps more to the point, I would think that), but the machine had different plans:

knittingmachine-2

Yes, that is a big hole in my beautiful shawl. I waxed the yarn and everything, and now I have a huge hole (and a couple little ones). I also ran out of yarn before I bound off, so I tried my trick from before of making the knitting jump right off the machine by running the carriage over the needles without any yarn in it.

That part definately worked — I am glad that hand knitting isn’t so enthusiastic about jumping off the needles like that.

I will crochet the ends and the holes closed. In my mind, this will make a lovely rustic type garment, which I will then sew or crochet into a tube to wear around my shoulders like Teva Durham’s fade-out ribbed stole in Loop-D-Loop: More Than 40 Novel Designs for Knitters, because I think I would like that and what else will I do with it?

March spinning

I pulled these two batts from my stash yesterday and spun them up. I am so pleased with the results. It still kind of feels like magic to make yarn.

Here is the batt I started with:

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Here is the single I had in the middle:

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The colours on the real yarn are not quite that warm, I was playing with the colour settings on my camera, and that is what the camera thought they would look like because I told it it was a cloudy day.

Here is the bit of yarn I had when I tried to Navajo ply said single:

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It was just too twisty and wrong, so I went with plying it with thread:

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The colours on that picture are closer to the original.  I am very excited to knit it up, but I really shouldn’t start knitting anything new until I finish something.

I have given in, perhaps throwing good money after bad, and bought some cast on combs and weights for my knitting machine, because I have been told that then my machine will stop dropping stitches randomly.

machineweights

I am hopeful that this will solve my problems and make me a brilliant machine knitter who can make a splendid living of the work of her hands and keep all her friends and family warm clothing for pennies — okay maybe not. But I really want to make something that works: I am very disheartened with my machine knitting career so far.

Something that has fascinated me for years is that when one culture interprets something from another culture they always interpret it a completely different way from the way the original culture interprets it.

For instance while in China I saw sushi made with mayonnaise and a fairly large piece of salmon wrapping the roll instead of nori — it was Cantonese sushi. I did eat sushi while I was in China though not that kind, but I don’t recommend it until you are there long enough you don’t care if you get sick anymore.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I was home sick an going over some library books and magazines I had lying around. The library book was The French-Inspired Home, with French General by Kaari Meng and the magazine was Marie Claire Maison (I am learning French for work and perhaps vacations in Paris — I should be able to write off French magazines on my taxes). What really interested me was the contrast between the two visions of the world.

Here is a snippet of one of the pictures from The French Inspired Home:

meng

Here are a couple from Marie Claire Maison:

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They are both lovely, but it is apparent to me which of these places is in California. I think my natural taste runs to the American version, but I love to think of myself living in the French version with its elegant spareness.

I also live with foreboding that I will always need to move somewhere smaller and need to fit all my stuff in there. Right now I live in the main floor of a house with approximately 800 square feet (or about 87 square metres) without a closet for the vacuum, so moving somewhere smaller is not inconsequential. Actually, I think our place is fairly large — I moved here from a studio that was really small (and beige which is worse).

Interest renewed

I feel a great fibrous weight has lifted since yesterday. I pulled out the alpaca I had lying around and spun in up in the way I like:

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It is thick and thin plied with thread, and it has revived my interest in spinning, even if the fibre is a little too soft to make this kind of yarn in its most perfect incarnation.

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What can you do?

Spinniness

I am carting out the wheel right now and spinning up that fibre that has been sitting there for months. I never want to spin regular thin yarn again — I have decided it is not my thing.

Instead I want to do something time this, this, this, or this.

Or for that matter this:

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(Which I am pretty sure I know how to do as I did that one.)

It occurs to me that I have gaping holes in my education relating to various things. In the culinary arts I don’t know how to make mashed potatoes, potatoes in general are a great void that I know very little about. When I tried to make baked potatoes for Valentine’s Day because of a special request I mistook the time, and they were still uncooked (we put them back in the oven for half an hour and made hash browns the next day).

I have promised to deliver mashed potatoes today, and I think I will need to pull out a cookbook (The Joy of Cooking has saved me many times). I am also hazy on how to steam broccoli, but I make a mean chocolate cake, spanakopita, and, after polling the room I can say, coconut cream pie.

cake

I am bad at things that everyone is supposed to be able to do. The birthday cake above however was in my opinion the best chocolate cake I ever ate (I think the recipe was from Susan Mendelson’s Mama Now Cooks Like This: The Best of Susan Mendelson with candied violets on top from my last trip to Montreal).

I suppose that it is inevitable that people will have holes in their educations. I am trying to think what the holes in my knitting education are — I would say that they mainly revolve around socks. If it is time for true confessions, I have never knit a pair of socks. I knit a pair of slipper socks once, but actual socks never. I have just never really wanted to — I get hot feet.

What holes do you have in your education, knitting or otherwise?

A while ago I was at my parents’ house and I was looking at my mother’s buttons. She doesn’t sew much any more and I asked if I could have some of her vintage buttons:

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This was a fairly tense moment — after a pause she said: “I don’t think I am ready to think of buttons I bought as vintage.”

Now my mother is not very old and as far as I could tell some of her buttons go back to the 30’s or 40’s. Obviously she was not buying buttons then, she wasn’t born then. But how to save the moment? I had called my mother’s buttons dated, kitschy, and old.

I did point out that it would not have been possible for her to purchase certain buttons as they were older than her, and she did mention getting some from various individuals, which seemed to defuse the situation somewhat.

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I am not sure that the rift in the crafty fabric of the family was healed, but I did get the buttons I wanted.

I got up early yesterday morning to take out the recycling, and I was completely surprised by how nice it was:

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Generally I take out the recycling as fast as I can on a Saturday morning, run back inside as quickly as possible and try to forget the whole sorry business, but not this time. I was inspired to run back inside to grab the camera. To give you an idea of how improbably this was at 8:00 on a Saturday morning at -22 centegarde, here is a glimpse of what I was wearing:

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Dressing gown, boyfriend’s shoes, coat. As I said later — “for some reason I don’t understand, it was cold, but it didn’t feel bad.”

I also went to the yarn store as I needed some particular yarn to submit a design, and ended up buying enough to make a summer sweater (sweaters in summer make more sense here than they do in many places). It is Classic Elite Yarns, classic one fifty and one of my favourite shades of blue:

classiceliteyarns

I am thinking cardi, lacy, summer, blue — and that is all you are getting at this time.

A calming trend

I have spent almost the whole weekend cleaning and getting rid of unnecessary stuff. It is shocking how many useless belongings I have accumulated. I moved out to Saskatoon three and a half years go with my luggage allowance on the plane and then some more things in a truck a few months later, but to give you an idea it only cost me $800 to move from Vancouver, so we are not talking about that much, but here I am with a house stuffed to the gills.

So here I am getting rid of more. After two days, I have achieved clarity (I mean unclutteredness).

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Besides everything else, I got this yarn in the mail recently from Jess and Milkyrobot:

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So everything will continue to look up.

I love displacement activity — there are few things in life that make me feel as good as accomplishing my displacement goals.

Everything changes

I have been having the most confused and twisted week/six months. Without giving too many details everything has been changing and changing back, and I feel twisted into knots — not the clean, apparent, rational knots of rope, but the fuzzy, messy, irrational knots of alpaca that are impossible to untie without ruining the yarn and a great deal of swearing. The kind of knots that should just be cut out.

Now it looks like I will be laid off as well — yes, I have a day job, but perhaps not for long. I suppose I was naive to think the down turn and political noise would not affect me, but there you go. I am left with a vague sense of rest that I did not buy a house and that I can move without a great deal of difficulty. Even if it is only into my parents’ basement.

The media always tells me that is what people my age do, and perhaps they will turn out to be right in this case after all.

On the plus side, my parents have a beautiful garden to take knitting photos in and forest a few blocks away. I could go hiking and knit the whole day through.

I have several months before that happens, so I think I will focus on displacement activity this weekend — yoga, brunch with friends, and cleaning out the back closet.

A bit of a purge

I have been having a bit of a go at disposing of some of the extraneous matter in the house. It is a thing of beauty — the drawers in my dresser close, without the help of a good nudge from my hip, and the clothes in my closet are all in season and actually fit me now. I could wear them today and might actually want to — though not obviously all at once.

I am starting to work on the back closet as well, and I have decided to say goodbye to a few back issues of knitting magazines. I have listed them in my Etsy shop. I have also decided to part with my version of Lyra’s coat.

Lyra's Coat

It’s a little sad, but I just can’t keep everything I make and will likely not wear, just because I made it. It used to be okay because I only made as much as I could almost justify needing, but I feel like the blog and publishing have created this great voracious monster that needs to be regularly appeased with knitting.

The Interweave knits previews are out (here). I am always so happy when the new issue of IK is released — it just means a new chance to fantasize about everything.

I am most smitten with the Diminishing Rib Cardigan by Andrea Pomerantz, the Soap Bubble Wrap by Connie Chang Chinchio, and the Zickzack Tunic by Melissa Wehrle. One of the most wonderful things about Ravelry (though I suppose Google would also work, if you want to point out the reasonably obvious) is that I can turn around the find the websites for the designers.

Connie Change Chinchio blogs at Physicsknits. She appears to have lovely discussions about her design process. I better add it to my reading list — there, done.

Melissa Wehrle blogs at neoknits — also getting added to my list. If I had time at all to knit all the patterns I own that I want to knit and all the things I have in my list of my own ideas of what I want to knit, I would knit Melissa’s Granny Smith Cardigan in a flash — there really is something special in my mind about a mohair cardi.

I can’t find a website for Andrea Pomerantz, but if anyone can send me the info I would be happy to post it.

On my own design front, I have completely written the pattern for my next submission to Knitty, and the deadline is weeks away. This must mean that I have turned a new leaf and will no longer live with procrastination but do everything in advance and live in a calm _____ (the only word that comes to mind is miasma, but that is bad).

Oh well, it was not likely to happen anyway.

For all of you who have been waiting impatiently and for all of those who did not know you needed to be excited yet, I would like to announce a new version of the West Wind Gloves.

This version is for the same gloves, except they are knit in the round. I like this pattern so much, and now you can knit them if you like those old dpn.

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If you would like any more information about the pattern, I would invite you to the pattern page, or if you know right now, I would invite you to click here:

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!).

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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:

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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:

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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.

New year’s eve post

Well I confess that I have been having a vile week. I have a nasty cold, the weather is nippy, and all my current knitting projects are harder than I feel like dealing with right now.

I have made some headway on the eight petal rose sweater:

I was just starting to really get the hang of manipulating three balls in intarsia and suddenly the number exploded to seven, so now it is hard again.

However, I have reached the cool colours, which surely should count for something:

I have no great plans for bringing in the new year. My cold stymies any thoughts of general enjoyment, but I am considering my options in the resolution department. I am stuck on finding and following an exercise plan that works for me, but surely I can come up with something more original than that?

Here is a new and improved, tech-edited version of my Slouch Hat pattern.

There seems to have been a bit of confusion caused by the previous version, so hopefully this one will make sense to everyone.

There were no actual errata, but some of the short rows were altered slightly to make the knitting easier.

I seem to be incapable of fixing the row count for this pattern myself, and I have outsourced the solution.

Here is the new and improved tech edited Russian Princess in Exile pattern.

I would like to apologize for the confusion the previous version caused.

One day it will all be easy

I am still not good at winding yarn onto my ball winder:

I must say that there is something special about a skein of yarn that a ball of yarn doesn’t capture. They have that wonderful slightly floppy heaviness that speaks “yarn” to me, and makes me so tempted to acquire them, but winding them on the ball winder is tedious.

I was trying to wind a 1600m skein of 90% alpaca, 10% silk a few days ago and the knot above is what happened. It was so frustrating, as the ball on the winder got bigger it would suddenly fly off across the room and I had several small balls in sequence:

In the end I got it wound, but I had to break the yarn in several places, so I have two good sized balls and two little ones and one clump of forever knotted mess that I have thrown into the pillow case of fibre I am putting aside for future art yarn spinning projects.

I suppose that result is acceptable, but I can’t bring myself to believe it is optimal.

I started my eight petals rose sweater yesterday night, and here is is all tidy and giving a sense of calm serene intarsia working up as simply as anything:

Of course this impression is a complete fiction and my project looked like this by the end of the knitting last night:

I knit a little longer than I wanted to as I really wanted to get to the first design change. There is something satisfying about the moment when the design starts to show. The next exciting thing will be when the cool colours start balancing the design.

I came home yesterday to a parcel notice and rushed to the post office to pick it up, and my Icelandic yarn had arrived.

I love the ability to buy things from where ever I want on the Internet – it makes me feel so cosmopolitan.

Here is a picture of the yarn:

It is Ístex Loðband Einband, which is a wool lace weight with 225m to 50g, and I have never seen it in a yarn store. I got it from the Handknitting Association of Iceland.

I am very pleased with it. It is very woolly, if you are someone who doesn’t like animal fibres and thinks wool is itchy, then this yarn is not for you, but I like woolly clothes so that is not a problem. Actually it is not at all scratchy (to me), but it is not soft either. It is almost like spun crêpe paper. The closest yarn I can think of is Noro Kuryeon sock yarn, but this is quite a bit finer.

The impetus for this international yarn acquisition is this book I mentioned before:

Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns by Hélène Magnússon.

I am going to knit this sweater:

I have been wanting an oversize sweater, and this just seems too lovely to pass up. It is going to be my first major project involving intarsia. I was just never so attracted to patterns that used it before.

I think this sweater is a very good example of a project where substituting yarns would greatly change the effect, and after listening to yarn store staff a couple times — I know that whatever yarn they carry in the same gauge is not always an acceptable substitute for me.

And see I am so committed I have already worked my swatch:

It is even the the right gauge on the first try (stitches and rows) — that never happens. I will cast on for the sweater today.

Here are a few more patterns that I still think about from Interweave:

Seaberry Shell by Wenlan Chia:

It was published in the summer 2006 issue. Unfortunately this one is not available anymore because the issue is sold out at Interweave, and this sweater is not in Knitting Daily. Here is the Ravelry link. The only change I would make would be to make it longer as I love everything to be hip or tunic length — otherwise it is perfect.

The next pattern is this one:

The Bonbon Pullover by Mary Lynn Patrick.

This one is available. It was published in the winter 2007 issue, which is available from Interweave (here), and from Knitting Daily (here). The Ravelry link is here. It is like a sweater that a movie star would wear only you could relax in it.

The next one is the Wedgewood Blouse by Nora Gaughan:

This one was also from the summer 2006 issue and is not available from the Knitting Daily store (Ravelry link), but it is a pity that it is not. Who but Nora Gaughan could so perfectly render paisley in knit texture? If anyone can direct me to anything as good or better, either of your own or someone else’s design, I would love to see it, as I love paisley (a fact I have managed to keep rather quiet until now).

That is all I will share for this post, but I may have a few patterns from Vogue Knitting I may want to draw your attention to next, while I have all the magazines taking up a whole chair to themselves in the dining room.

I was looking through my knitting magazines the other day for ideas for projects, and I realized is a great number of them:

I was thinking about the patterns I always come back to thinking about after years and thought maybe I would share a few, so here is the first one: Fair Isle Hoodie and Cardigan by Annie Modesitt from Interweave Knits Fall 2005 (also available from Knitting Daily).

According to the blurb she designed the sweaters for her children who modeled the sweaters in the magazine, and really I can’t imagine better colours for them.

This is a pattern that I think would be a mistake to substitute yarn for, unless you wanted a completely different look, as I don’t think you could ever match it.

The patterns as designed are just brilliant.

There are more to come over the next little while:

Update

I am not ignoring you. I am just not knitting much I can post about now, but I have several ideas in the percolation through to the materialization phases, which I can’t share yet.

I am also still working on this sweater:

It still looks remarkably like it did when I last took pictures as I have unraveled the waist shaping twice.

I am looking forward to it though, it is wonderfully squidgy.

Upside of a downturn

I just purchased this book: Icelandic Knitting Using Rose Patterns by Hélène Magnússon.

It is beautiful and the designs aren’t like any I have seen before. I am completely smitten with it.

The book lists the Handknitting Association of Iceland as a source for the yarn used in the book. The really great thing is that the Icelandic currency is so low that I just ordered enough yarn for a large sweater for a very cheap price, and a year ago it would have cost me twice as much. They were a pleasure to do business with, answered all my questions, and they even take PayPal.

The Icelandic people must be having a hard time of it (see here), and surely stimulating the economy by buying yarn is practically the least we can do to help knitters, sheep farmers, etc. half way around the world?

The yarn looks lovely, but of course it is practically impossible to know what it will be like until I fondle it. I have taken my leap of faith and will have to see how it turns out.

I just heard that Knitting in the Sun by Kristi Porter is available for pre-sale on Amazon (here).

This is the book that I have a pattern coming out in. If you go down to the description, mine is the “top-down shaped t-shirt.”

This is so exciting.

What with the season changing and the weather getting cold this weekend, I have been in a bit of a rut with my knitting, but I have pulled some yarn out of my stash (ah, the joys of a well stocked stash — you must take the good with the bad you know) and have started whipping up something this week.

I have been thinking about the stitch pattern on this sweater (The Gibson Girl Pullover by Shirley Paden: Knitting Daily link, Ravelry link) since it was published in the summer 2004 Interweave Knits issue:

I showed my sister and said I wanted one, and she said “of course you want one.”

But, as much as I want it, I don’t think I want exactly that one, partly because it is cold outside, so I am running with it:

Here is the bottom of my tunic length, very close fitting, sweater in Mission Falls 1824 wool. I think it will have three-quarter length sleeves, because that’s what I like.

It’s liberating to knit whatever I like.

I kept having to up the needle size to get the lace pattern to work properly, so now the sweater is knitting up in a whiz.

It appears that people want this pattern even though I have told them it is strange, so here is the pattern page on my blog and a download link for Ravelry.

Note that this pattern is being offered for free, but it hasn’t been tech-edited, please keep this in mind, and if you find any errata, please forward them to me and I will integrate them into the pattern. If you download the pattern while signed into Ravelry, you will receive pattern updates. Otherwise, please check back for updated versions.

Parallax Knitting pattern page

Download pattern here

Sometimes I want to try things — wonderful and clever things. I work them out in my head and work out how to make them happen in yarn. I mess with things and play with them, until it seems like it will all go according to plan — and often it does, but sometimes, just sometimes, it does not.

Here is a sweater I designed all by myself, my first entrelac project:

It is so cute and I am so pleased with it most of the time,

And from most angles.

And then from some angles it just isn’t right at all:

I suppose that if I had thought about it, I should have anticipated that angular garments stay angular on, but I didn’t think about that. I thought about how brilliant I was to come up with a brand new way to make shoulder shaping that no one had ever thought of before, and that the ease would somehow take up the difference.

Ah Hubris, I should have know better — the reason no one else has done this before is that it is just not that good an idea.

I do in fact find that it relaxes after you wear it a while, but I think there is no way to save it from being too “conceptual” for publication. If anyone likes conceptual clothing and the idea of making a sweater in entrelac where the pattern is never broken, I have made the untech-edited pattern available, please download the pattern from Ravelry here.

If you find any errata, please let me know and I will update it. If you download the pattern while being signed in to Ravelry, you will get any pattern updates.

Here some more scrumbles I have completed for my freeform shawl:

The second one is not really flat, and it is boring, but the first one seems okay.

I wanted it to be all wonderful like all the freeform projects that I so admire an Ravelry and in books. It may still be: it can be difficult to tell before it’s done. I also suppose that it also may not be realistic of me to expect to be really good at something the first time I try it, but who said I had to be realistic?

A bit of a rut

I am in a bit of a rut with my spinning (and knitting and crochet).

I also remember why my pictures on my blog were not so hot last winter — it was because it is dark until after I leave in the morning and before I am back at night. This was the sky and my trees when I got home:

I dragged my spinning wheel outside to show you what I am working on as the house was too dark. This yarn was been on the wheel for a few weeks — the fine plain spinning is not what excites me about the craft.

I was thinking that I would Navaho ply it, but I am a little stuck as it is taking a long time.

It is spun from the same kind of fibre as this blue and brown yarn I spun earlier this year, but I didn’t enjoy spinning that yarn as much because the fibre was too stuck together, and I had to really tug on it to draw it, so I ran it through my drumcarder:

Halifax dreaming

Sorry to have been neglecting you and the blog for the last week. I have just got back from the lovely city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I didn’t get anything much done on my fibrous pursuits, but imagine my excitement to walk two blocks up a hill from my hotel and see this:

Yes, it is a yarn store (see here for The Loop’s website).

Then, just in case you had forgotten, the stark and honest truth:

I wonder if other religious festivals require panicked feats of knitting to make loved ones happy? For example, does anyone have to knit for diwali? But back to Halifix.

Halifax was beautiful and fun:

Though the wind does whip off the water in a rather startling way.

I think this sign on the Citadel was the funniest thing I saw:

Ahh, the universal language of imagery. Sometimes a picture really says everything it needs to.

I was most restrained and only bought some fancy tights and spinning fibre (very small amount of spinning fibre, larger amount of tights). The spinning fibre is in the form of mohair locks, which I want to figure out how to use. The tights are in different neutral colours and various combinations of lace, wool and fishnet.

Freeform heaven

I am completely smitten with freeform lace crochet (see this book).

I was hesitant, as I am not really that good at crochet, but I don’t need to know what any of the names of the stitches for this, so I am fine.

(I swear the same stitches have different names in different places, and they don’t all define everything, but don’t listen to me I am just bitter)

The other exciting thing is that I am not sure I could come up with a better combination of yarn and technique than Noro kureyon sock yarn and this, and just look at it:

I am liking this so much; it is much more fun than counting and reading patterns.

I think I may like to stay in this newly discovered crafty country for a while and see where the randomness takes me.

I am still kind of recovering from my prescribed, deadlined, focussed knitting of the summer and am currently knitting like Bridget Jones eats when she has a hangover — I am working on whatever indulgent thing I feel like and exploring the more exciting aspects of instant gratification.

Here is one of my recent creations:

It was made using this yarn I spun myself.

I just cast on a multiple of stitches and knit it up using my favourite cable pattern (see here and here).

I still have a bit left and think I will likely make a scarf using my Wisp pattern.

If anyone is interested, I could probably be induced to provide a pattern, just let me know in the comments.

Here is the almost final form for the earthworm scarf:

I like the way the lace weight sections are transparent, and the earthworm yarn from Milkyrobot was an absolute delight to knit. Every inch was interesting.

I made some kind of gauge error. I am not sure precisely where, but the scarf is not the size I calculated for.

I wore it today, and I found that the particular combination of length and weight doesn’t make a particularly wearable scarf because I don’t like the way it looks draped around my neck and it doesn’t stay wrapped.

I tried crocheting the ends together and making a long loop to go around my neck twice, and I think that is the way I will go with.

I was inspired to try to loop idea by Yokoo‘s cowls like this one.

I was surveying the wonders of Etsy today and came across the listing for Russian knitting and crochet magazines on Lado’s shop.

Just look at this:

From this magazine. How could anyone not want it?

If I can work in Japanese, I wonder if I can do the same in Russian?

I learned Russian for a year and my love the former Russian scholar says he will help me.

I have called Wool Emporium and Glenda carries the looms for hairpin lace — surely this all wouldn’t be too hard?

Lest you think I have been bone idle all weekend, please take a gander at my new Etsy shop. I have improved it, added more listings, and signed up for a few showcase listings.


It has been on the list of things to do for a long time.

I started knitting this scarf while we were in Kansas in August. The yarn came from the Newton Beadery in Newton Kansas. I couldn’t tell it was a yarn shop at all from the street, but then I saw the crochet friendly yarn shop sticker from Interweave on the door, and I knew.

This yarn was on the clearance shelf, and it looked so much like snow that I couldn’t resist. It is Berroco Softy (52% DuPont Tactel® Nylon, 48% Nylon, 208 yards[190m], Snow Bunny 290).

I started knitting several scarves with the yarn and the fringe kept becoming more prominent, until the fringe was the scarf.

I am listing this scarf on my Parallax Knitting Esty Store here. The Ravelry listing is here.


I think the pattern is so fun and has the potential to use many kinds of yarn, I would especially like to see it in a handspun novelty yarn. I plan to write it out soon and make it available.

This is my version of calorimetry by

The gauge on mine was really far from that of the original as is the size (I have a large head), and it kind of makes me wonder how much you can modify a pattern before is is no longer that pattern, but I love the original and mine, and mine used the yarn I had.

The yarn was this one I spun myself, and I am very happy with it. I think I will always wear it with my red scarf because one of my mother’s best friends used to wear red and purple together, and I always thought it was the more glamorous thing ever, and in my heart I still do.

Kathryn was right — it is wonderful to have something to wear to keep warm with my hair up that is not those ear pocket things, which are ear muffs without the band.

Pixie scarf

Here are some pictures of the scarf I knit with the yarn I spun from the Pixie batts from Evonne Wee’s Etsy shop:

I am very pleased with it. I have listed it in my new Parallax Knitting Etsy store (here).

I didn’t realize that usernames mattered on Etsy, so I created a new one (my old one is still there too).

I am starting to list some of the things I make as there are really only so many scarves / hats / sweaters / gloves / etc. a person can reasonably have.

It’s beautiful and squidgy, if no one buys it I will definately not feel bad about adding it to the rotation.

When I was walking through the Calgary airport on Wednesday I was completely stopped in my tracks by the picture of Rachel Weisz in the most fantastic sweater on the cover of American Vogue:

I of course cracked out the wallet immediately.

I want that sweater — well to be accurate I want to make such a sweater. The combination of really loose stitches and slightly fuzzy yarn and colour is just fantastic.

A close up:

I can’t really imagine ever doing a straight knock off, as I perceive the whole point of making my own clothes to be that I can make them however I want to. I plan to do something like this. I have a skein of multicoloured mohair from Colinette that I bought off Ebay, which I think I will use. I never could bring myself to pay new prices, but really what do you do with one skein of mohair (well besides this, which I did with a different skein from the same lot).

I am working out exactly how I want mine to look.

The sweater is by Rodarte. I am completely smitten with the tights he made with loose knitting too. I think I just need to have some, and I know just the person to make that happen.

Isn’t Vancouver beautiful?

On the needles is a scarf of a sort. I need to use up a ball of yarn that I made up when I started knitting. I wanted to do a project like Kaffe Fassett’s Persian poppies waistcoat (non-Ravelry link for an idea of what I mean).

I really didn’t understand about concepts like gauge or yarn weight or anything, so I just used bits of all the yarns I liked. The project did not really turn out like I expected it to (try not to be surprised), and the ball of bits of yarn sat in my basket for several years.

I had a bit of a brainwave after I made a design for a knit boa, and decided to make a multi-coloured one:

I quite like it. If anyone has any great ideas about what to do with the corresponding blue one, please share.

Pattern for the boa will be forthcoming soon.

My glamourous life

I just got back from Vancouver, and I will be posting pics of what I was knitting and what fibre I bought shortly.

What I would really like to say now is that though jetsetting all over the place is supposed to be very glamourous and I do enjoy it overall, it involves an unreasonable amount of getting up at 4:30 in the morning.

Because if winter is coming can spring be far behind?

The winter solstice is the time when light and summer start coming back into the world. The solstice of course happens in midwinter, but, especially in more northern (or southern) climes, the return of the light can seem to take an inordinately long time. Sometimes it makes us feel better to wear clothing that anticipates the season, but it is still too cold to benefit from the convenient resort collections in the stores – for those in that situation I offer the West Wind Gloves.

Knit in a spring like green and twined in vine-like cables these gloves will keep you warm and help you imagine tendrils and vines growing in your garden, and unlike wisteria there is no need to keep an eye on them as they will not overgrow your house or take over disused rooms when you aren’t paying attention.

This pattern is knit on two needles with the gauntlet length version shown in the photos. The pattern also includes an option for a wrist length version.

(please note that this version of this pattern is knit on straight needles, a version knit in the round will be posted soon)

Difficult

Intermediate

Size

One size

Finished measurements

Palm circumference: 7.5 inches[19cm]

Gauntlet length from cuff to end of middle finger: 12 inches[30cm]

Wrist length from cuff to end of middle finger: 8 inches[20cm]

Materials

Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification [100% superwash merino wool; 280 yards/256m per approx. 100g skein]; color: Kinda Camo; 1 [2] skeins

1 set US #2/2.75mm straight needles

Cable needle

Stitch markers

Gauge

25 sts/35 rows = 4 inches[10cm] in stockinette stitch

Here is the earthworm scarf with the knitting completed, but the seams not sewn:

I plan to sew it up as I designed it in Debbie New’s labyrinth knitting technique, but I am quite smitten with it as is and kind of wish I could keep it like this.

My Ravelry store

On this bright Saturday morning I got up and populated my Ravelry store.

All my designs will continue to be available through my blog, but if you prefer to purchase patterns through Ravelry, please see it here.

If you would just like to visit me on Ravelry, my username is SSutherland.

I have some time now to work on whatever my little heart desires, and my heart has alighted on this scarf, which I haven’t had a chance to work on in several months.

I have swatched with this yarn several times now, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to make the most of it.

I was frustrated with with working the stripes in intarsia and wasn’t really pleased with the results, so I ripped it out and tried again:

I like this so much better. It compliments the texture of the yarn better somehow.


I have had some errata on the previous errata for the large size of this pattern. The rows are numbered incorrectly again, so here is the corrected pattern: Russian Princess in Exile.

My first boucle

I have been sick for a couple weeks now and nothing much has been getting done, except things that can be done from the couch. This skein has taken me several days to complete, but I am very happy with the results.

I bought this mohair roving from Inger Maaike’s Etsy store a few weeks ago:

I wasn’t sure what to do with it, as it was so dense I think I could probably have beaten someone with it. There was no way I could have drafted it as I spun. I did have it suggested to me that I could predraft it, but that is singularly unappealing to me.

This makes my drum carder perfect:

Isn’t it pretty, like mermaids tresses:

I would like to say that the sign that says to keep hands clear means it:

I don’t think I would trust a motorized one of these, and I really wouldn’t recommend one to anyone with problems with depth perception.

Finally the batts were done:

I have never spun mohair before. I thought I would attempt my first lace weight with it, but mohair is slippery and this was not going to happen, so I just started spinning a single.

It’s so shiny.

I thought back to Diane Varney’s Spinning Designer Yarns and decided this would be the perfect time to try boucle. I did the tricky plying as directed and came up with this:

It is a little odd, but I think it will be fine when knit — curly.

Back in February I decided to embark on an adventure in crafting, crochet particularly. I ordered a crochet and knitting book with patterns for slippers, leg warmers, and a couple blankets in Japanese and decided I would see what I could do. I got busy with other things and that didn’t happen when planned, but I have gotten quite sick and am not able to do much in the way of much this weekend, so I have decided that crocheting myself some slippers in Japanese might be just the ticket.

Originally, I was trying to work out the yardage and weight per length of the yarn used and needle size etc., and if I understand correctly, the pattern calls for wool at 83m to 50g, but working out everything else seemed like more effort than it was worth, so at this point, I just took out some likely looking yarn and a likely looking crochet hook from my very small collection of hooks and started swatching.

The 5mm hook was too large, so I ran off to get another (4mm). It cost $2.29 — apparently the crochet hook manufacturers have not attained the same level of premiumisation as the knitting needle manufacturers, because I don’t think I ever paid anything near that little for needles.

The new swatch seemed more or less okay and crochet is stretchy, so I just started. They went like a whiz and here they are:

My feet aren’t actually that blue — my camera was trying to help by stopping me from taking an overly orange photo, and I can’t be bothered to get out the manual and figure out how to turn off the automatic colour adjust.

I am quite smitten with the slippers. I think I would have all my shoes be Mary Janes or at least have ankle straps if I could. Somehow it just makes them feel more like mine.

The pattern is available in this book:

ISBN: 4529042952.

I recently spun these batts I bought on Etsy from Evonne Wee (her blog is here):

I was quite smitten with the colour and texture and wanted to see how it would spin up and how it was put together. I also commissioned some red batts, about which more later.

I spun up the fibre by pulling off strips as Jess Rollar suggested in her guest post on her guest post here, and I spun it up thick and thin, which approximately filled three bobbins (I have learned not to fill the bobbins completely as the yarn is thicker when plied and you end up with even short lengths than you would otherwise).

I then checked out the yarn I bought from Jess to see what she did with hers, and it appears she plied it with sewing thread, which I thought would likely be just the ticket for me too.

This is what I ended up with:

I am completely smitten with the results. I think I will try to knit Urchin by Ysolda Teague with it.

I think these kind of batts would be good for a beginning spinner as you don’t need to do anything fancy to make something unusual and there is no reason to ruin the texture by trying to spin something smooth. The fibre is also sticky and is not as prone to breaking if your yarn gets too thin.

I have had two projects in my knitting basket for several years. One I recently finished while on a stupidly long car trip — flying would have been a better choice, but we really knew we had gone somewhere (see here). The other is this:

It was going to be the Union Square Market Pullover by Kate Gilbert from Interweave Knits, fall 2005 (Ravelry link). The sweater is beautiful, and a quick Google search reveals that Eunny Jang did a beautiful rendition (here). This sweater really is gorgeous and there is nothing wrong with the pattern, but I simply don’t think I will ever finish it.

There are several reasons for this:

  • I was only able to get gauge with a needle size that bamboo doesn’t come in, and I hate metal needles.
  • The knitting goes very slowly.
  • I have changed my clothing preferences and now now I only want to wear tops that are hip length or longer.
  • Finally, when I started this project I was having health problems, and I really shouldn’t have been knitting at all (I had problems picking up a full mug with one hand at the time), and the project makes my hands hurt just by thinking about it.

I also don’t think this is a good candidate for unraveling as the yarn is sticky and falls in love with itself and would be ruined in the process.

The reason this has come to a head is that I have recently discovered that Kristina Wong is soliciting unfinished knitting and crochet projects for her performance art piece “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to be performed in Santa Monica this fall.

This is brilliant. I can separate myself from my failure to finish the piece and help further the cause of art and social awareness.

I will send it off tomorrow.

Here is the information Kristina has put out in her call for contributions (sourced from the Crochet Me blog):

Here’s how you can participate:

1) We love yarn and knitting projects that come in any color OTHER than black and white.
2) Remove your needle or hook from the piece. If possible run some waste yarn through the loops. No need to bind off. I’d prefer if it wasn’t!
3) Write a note describing yourself, why you knit, and what the project was supposed to be and why it never came to be.
4) Send your unfinished knitting projects by SEPTEMBER 15, 2008 to:

Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
C/O Kristina Wong
PO Box 251664
Los Angeles, CA 90025

I have finally got a pdf version ready for Lyra’s coat.

Download it here: Lyra’s Coat. The original version is still here.

It is almost time to start wearing it again.

One of the best things about a long car ride is time to knit, and driving from Saskatoon to Kansas is very far. I spent at least 6 days in the car and knit almost the whole time — and I finished the Leaves and Waves shawl from Knitty, Fall 2004 by Kat Coyle.

I am so smitten with the shawl now it is done and absolutely over the moon about the fact that the oldest work in progress from my work basket is done.

It took so long because I got bogged down in the stocking stitch section. I don’t think I would ever do another project with quite this combination of yarn, stitch pattern, and size of pattern — I kept dropping stitches, but the dropped stitches were almost invisible in the mohair. Ironically, the lace sections went faster.

I could have knit several sweaters in the time it took me to make this.

All the same it is beautiful now, and it is just sufficiently unusual to really appeal to me. I like traditional lace, but it never looks like I would really like to wear it. This on the over hand is (in my opinion) a perfect combination of traditional stitching and textures with asymmetrical design.

It is also rectangular, and for some reason I find rectangular shawls to be more wearable, and I wear a lot of shawls. I think it is because I treat them like security blankets — just call me Linus.

I couldn’t wait anymore, and I have cracked out my drum carder this weekend. I didn’t know what fibre to start with, but I finally chose this coloured knot:

I wasn’t really sure what it was — I was completely winging it. When I untied it, it turned out it be several rovings tied together. The yellow and the purple were in equal proportions and the red, orange, and brown were about equal to each of the other two. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I decided to card the yellow and mixed colours together and the purple separately.

If you have a carder and spin already, please bear with me, but if you don’t this is so cool:

Here it is when it is almost ready to come off the carder:

Here is my processed purple batt:

And the multicoloured:

Finally here is the yarn I spun from it:

I found this fibre to be a little over-processed for my taste: I like it to have more springiness. This was like over-processed hair. I also need some practice working with the batts because I have only spun from roving so far, and I found that the fibre is not as firmly in the right direction as it is in roving, but overall I would say the venture was a success.

While I was in Kansas we went to Harveyville to see the Harveyville Project and buy a drum carder from Nikol Lohr of Naughty Needles and Disgruntled Housewife fame. First of all Harveyville is such a small town that where I was staying in rural Kansas no one had ever heard of it, except for my boyfriend’s step father who knew a saucy story about the minister’s wife leaving him 25 years ago or so.

The school building looks quite fun — not quite fun enough for me to want to live in it, but that is a moot point as no one is asking me to, staying there long enough for Yarn School would be an entirely different matter and that sounds great.

I wanted to go there to pick up a drum carder, which I could have got from Nikol’s Etsy Store, especially as she offers free shipping, but this way I wouldn’t have to pay duty, and how often am I in Kansas anyway? I discussed it with her and I ended up getting the Strauch Petite with the brush:

I haven’t taken it out of the box yet as I have not had time to spin, and we are planning to move some furniture around shortly.

When I told Nikol I had never used a drum carder before she was very gracious and showed me how it works, she even let me make a batt myself, which I am inordinately proud of:

She also gave me enough fibre for another matching batt, so I can make another:

I am so excited because I was wondering about what to do with certain fibres I have and wondered how to spin them as they are so dense, and I have had problems spinning some fibres because the roving was clumpy. It was not really apparent to me how to deal with these problems, but now I get it, and the possibilities make my mind reel — you put it through your drum carder.

While we were in North Dakota we got to go to Little Shell Pow Wow on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Pow wows are so fun.

I think they are the most exuberant display of fibre art I have ever seen. Everyone makes their own clothing and the dancers are judged on their outfits as well as their dancing. Some are traditional and use almost entirely natural supplies and some are very bright colours, with a special preference for fluorescent green.

Just look at the artistry in these moccasins:

As far as I can tell everyone is welcome, so if you have a chance you should go.

I just got back from a lovely trip trip down south of the boarder. Here are a few pictures as a little taste of things to come:

Here is a picture of Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota:

And here is a picture in York, Nebraska:

And another of North Dakota:

The Great Plains were looking beautiful and I would recommend a trip, but I have to say that the food was not great, until I got to Kansas and got to eat the best watermelon I have ever tasted. I have stories of fibrous adventures and knitting that got done, which I will be posting about over the next few days, but for now I need to go to bed.

p.s. you know how Canadians, Americans, Australians, Brits, etc. all speak the same language, but not quite? Well in the United States, if you are ever in a rush, please remember that “restroom” is the preferred local usage, but “toilet” works everywhere I have been.

I am so very smitten with my yarn and my spinning and my wheel.

This is the alpaca I wanted to spin, and I wanted to have a yarn kind of pull up from a ball something like this when it was being plied, but when I started touching the fibre it seemed too loose and liable to pull apart to do that with, so I spun it in a thick and thin single:

But I felt that leaving it to untwist as it went back through the wheel it would fall apart, so I wanted to ply it with something to help it stay together. I raided my stash and came up with some brown Sisu from some gloves I knit my mom about five years ago:

I am running out of Sisu, so I will have to find some other brown yarn and just hope it isn’t too different, but how could one not be proud of oneself to have created this:

My mind is running a mile a minute trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I am thinking it would be fun to knit it all on one size of needles, but switch to larger ones for the bulky sections. I figure that would make a really textured knit, but the only problem is that you would almost certainly need to make it into a scarf — surely I can come up with something more exciting than that.

Here are my newest gloves in an almost completed state:

When I submitted Gloves Can Be Deceiving to Knitty Amy asked me for pictures of the gloves in the process of being sewn up, but I didn’t have any (I didn’t have a digital camera, so I didn’t document every aspect of my life as obsessively as I do now), so I didn’t want to let the opportunity to pass this time.

I am very happy with them.

I spent my day off this Monday (happy Saskatchewan day to one and all) writing the pattern out, so I hope to make it available in a couple weeks. I have the seamed version now and I plan to do another version knit in the round.

They really do help you channel your inner princess, and I anticipate being very grateful when they meet my three-quarter length sleeves in the middle.

There are two new online knitting magazines that are definitely worth checking out.

The first is Twist Collective: it has some wonderful designs. The sweater that most fascinates me is Little Birds by Ysolda Teague. I would love to knit that one, and sometime I might. The patterns are fee based; however, you can look at all the eye candy for free, and the patterns really look worth the money.

The next is Knotions, which is also quite lovely. I was initially a little confused when I went to the pattern page because the patterns were familiar, but that is because they are mounting some patterns from Magknits. The new patterns are here.

I am quite pleased with myself and my yarn. I spun the roving and rigged myself up a lazy kate:

(It’s a shoe box with knitting needles jabbed through it)

I plied the yarn, but as you can see I wasn’t quite perfect on making the bobbins the same length. Can anyone tell me if there a fix for this that I don’t know about?

I had a little trouble getting the feel for the plying at first, but by the end the yarn was beautifully balanced with no weird twistiness, and for what I want to use it for I don’t think the mis-plied sections will matter that much (I am keeping my plans up my sleeve for now).

Here it is on the bobbin:

And off:

I am quite pleased with my results and have a bigger bag of the same stuff in a red colour way to work with in a little while after I try out a few more things. I fancy a matching beret and gloves out of that one as I think it will be enough.

I am messing around with different fibre I have, trying out different yarns — trying to figure out what works and how best to use each kind.

This is the roving I have decided to tackle next:

It is hand painted alpaca.

There isn’t that much of it. I have split it in half and am spinning it thin:

I plan to spin the other half the same and ply them.

The Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits pattern previews are out, which always excites me.

I don’t actually have time to knit anyone else’s patterns anymore as I can’t seem to find time to get all the ideas in my own head out in the time I can devote to knitting, but I love to look at them still.

If I did have time to knit someone else’s pattern (so if this were, let’s say fall 2004), I would be most likely to knit the orange/red/salmon cardigan with short sleeves and cables in the “Signature stitches” story in the Vogue issue (I like all the sweaters shown in the preview for that section) and the “Afterthought darts cardigan” by Theresa Schabes, which is similar to some ideas I have kicking around in my head.

I don’t think I could ever have too many cardi’s and the “Afterthought darts cardigan” looks eminently wearable. The only change I might consider would be to make the sleeves three quarter length as I like all my sleeves to be three quarter length, and the only change I would consider on the Vogue sweater would be to have a straight garter stitch border on the sleeve instead of the chevrons that seem to be there in the picture.

I love knitting for that reason, you can’t walk into the _______ (insert mainstream clothing store of your choice here) and say: “I will get that one, but in green, with long sleeves, and with the buttons on that sweater over there.”

Setting twist

I was absolutely incorrigible last night and sat in the bookstore and actually read Start Spinning by Maggie Casey cover to cover. I did not set off the alarm when I left the store, but I should have. It really is a great book, and I recommend it to anyone learning to spin as it had all sorts of things I didn’t know yet (that isn’t actually that difficult at this stage).

For example I figured out why the tension didn’t work initially on spinning wheel: from the instructions it wasn’t clear which way the tension should be set up, and I was using both Scotch tension and double drive tension at once. Now I am just using the Scotch tension and it works fine. I plan to try the double drive tension with my next skein.

Maggie explained about setting the tension and why it matters and what it means to be able to spin a balanced yarn, so got up this morning and tried to do what she said for setting twist. I didn’t do the whole process for the plied yarn as it didn’t seem like it needed it (I said I read it, I didn’t say I would obey it), so I soaked it in hot water with Eucalan. I did the whole deal for the single ply as it was weirdly overspun and a little willful — I decided that a good dunk in scalding water with dish soap was just the thing it needed:

(Please don’t take those as the whole instructions — read the book instead)

I then squeezed out the water with a towel and hung it on my airer:

The one at back is actually balanced, and I made it before I knew what that meant. The one at front is weighted and still twisty, but I think I want to do some sculptural crochet with it, so at least it won’t be a twisty sweater.

I was trying to get the knitting machine working again. I had Glenda come over to teach me about it and while she was here it all seemed so very logical, but then she left and the logic went with her.

At this point what I want to make is a stockinette stitch rectangular shawl — that should be easy enough, or so I thought. I have this lace weight silk noil, which I want the shawl to be made of — of course that won’t be happening any more.

I got cast on and was going along as pleased as punch:

And here is a look up its shirt:

My yarn was wound; I had done my swatch; everything was going according to plan, when I noticed I was dropping a few stitches here and there, but I thought — it’s the first thing I have made with the machine and its for me and a rustic style anyway, so I will carry on. It doesn’t look that bad:

Here is the kind of thing that was giving me a hint something was wrong:

Then there was more:

Finally the whole thing had a bit of a fit, threw up its metaphorical hands in the air and in a final insult to me and my efforts, broke the yarn with a snap and the whole middle of the shawl jumped right off the machine and just sort of hung there.

There are no pictures of this stage as I had to peer through the space between the beds and up from beneath to figure out what had happened. I am used to hand knitting — you can always see the part where you made the mistake even if you don’t know what you did or how to fix it.

So I took the whole thing off the machine and don’t have enough yarn left to start again, and I have another weird bit of knitting to figure out what to do with. I think it may be calling out to be another cushion cover:

Spinning tales

Here is the story of the second skein I have made with my wheel.

I got this romney roving from Princess Farms:

I spun it into a single, which looked like this:

I bought this lace weight mohair silk blend on my trip last week:

and it seemed like the perfect thing to ply the romney:

and here it is:

I just can’t tell you how proud of myself I am — it’s like real yarn.

Now I am thinking about how to use it. I think I will take Debbie New’s example and combine scribble lace and labyrinth knitting like she did in her Scribble Lace Bolero from KnitKnit: Profiles and Projects from Knitting’s New Wave, but I am not sure what it will be.

In bloom

The flax is just coming into bloom:

I am glad I will have a bit of time to figure out what to do with it before I need to do anything with it. The spinning is coming along nicely.

I have been out of town for a few days, so I don’t have that much to show, but I would like to show you a little skeinlet I have spun with my precious spinning wheel:

I got the niddy noddy on my travels and gleaned the information that skeining yarn actually has a purpose, so there it is, and I will be taking off the yarn and washing it to set the twist in a bit.

It’s fun having a new craft — it’s all so mysterious with all these steps, some of which can safely be skipped and some of which will ruin your project, yet no information on which are which.

Susan Gibbs has finished her draw for her stash, so if you bought tickets, head on over and check.

I didn’t win, but that’s okay I don’t really need more yarn anyway and it sounds like the mounts raised are substantial.  She raised $10,380, when she needed $5000 to cover the costs of the wheelchair.

Congratulations Susan! You must be so happy your efforts are so successful.

After a great deal of waiting and impatient checking, my spinning wheel arrived this week. I have not written sooner as I wanted to commune with it alone for a few days.

Of course the last any of you know it was on the Pacific somewhere — I had great imaginings about its life on-board ship. I think my imaginings were not very realistic and revolved around a strange mixture of the ages of sail and steam. Actually I think a great deal of it would not have been out of place in a Joseph Conrad novel. I imagined it in a wooden packing crate, stuffed with straw, strapped on board, tossed by the waves. Perhaps it stopped in Tahiti or Fiji on the way or was held up in the Doldrums.

As you can see I had some pretty unrealistic unexamined assumptions about what was happening. I even asked Jon to come with me to help me carry it, so you can imagine my surprise when Glenda put this on the counter for me:

It was so clean and spare and light: I confess I was somewhat taken aback, but not so much that I didn’t have to contain myself from opening and taking everything out of the box in the store.

When I got it home this is what it looked like:

And here it is taken out of the box:

I didn’t really internally examine the fact that it would come disassembled, and while I did get it together in one evening, it wasn’t the easiest assembly job ever. If any of you are thinking of buying one, you will want to have a hammer (preferably one of those rubber ones that won’t knock the wood around), scissors, candle wax, and screw drivers — this of course will only be an issue for those like me who go through life perennially unequipped or who get divorced.

After a modicum of frustration and receiving blanket permission from Jon to buy any furniture that needs assembly I want to as I can obviously put stuff together, I was inordinately pleased with this:

The hardest part was getting the brake and driver right — as there were not great instructions in the box on that part (the rest were fine), but after messing with it for a little while and making some odd overspun yarn, I think I have got it going, and here is the fruit of my labours on my first evening spinning:

I am working on modulating the thickness and making it more uneven, as my natural inclination is to make a yarn of about fingering weight that is perfectly smooth and boring. Lexi Boeger (I think it was here) said that you need to be able to spin a regular yarn before you start experimenting with fancier fare. I am giving myself permission to start that phase of my spinning career now (but please don’t judge me if I am not the most exciting spinner at first — it’s a work in progress).

When I was a child, one of my favourite stories involved a prince who fell in love with a commoner who would not marry him until he had a trade, so he learned to weave cloth. They ruled for several years, but he didn’t know how people really lived in his country, so he dressed as a poor man and went out into the city to see for himself.

He was taken by a group of priests to a cave and forced to work with others as slaves. He found an old friend in the cave and together they made a very precious piece of cloth that would only be suitable for the queen, and in it he wove the story of his capture and where he and the others were being held.

This was done in such a cunning way that the priests would not be able to understand the message, but the queen would. Whereupon she rescued everyone.

This story mesmerized me — I loved the idea of a message in the cloth, and I was thinking of how to do something like that myself.

This is my scarf with a secret message in progress:

So far the message is really secret as you can’t see the way I have rendered Morse code into the stitch pattern, but I will be more explicit and post symbol charts for this particular rendering in a few days.

I will now leave you with a final picture and a note: it is an Armenian story called Anaeet.

Knitting in code

I love it when movies deal with things I like and give them a disproportionate level of importance. Perhaps it is confessing too much, but I love The Mummy, and a lot of that is the importance it attached to reading a book.

I went to see Wanted over the weekend, and I think I can say without giving too much away that a central part of the narrative revolves around “the Fraternity” a guild of medieval cloth weavers who formed a secret band of assassins a thousand years ago, and who are still in business — in both the textiles and killing business. Aside from the interesting observation that they appear to be running a cloth factory that only produces rather coarse cotton or linen plain weave fabric (I think this should be forgiven as it makes for quite nice spare images, and spools of thread in other colours do occasionally make an appearance), messages woven into the cloth in code are central to the plot.

I have been thinking about ways that messages could be incorporated into knitting for some time. So far, I have been focussing on Morse code, but really all sorts of codes could be knit into different garments.

I have been working on a project to create a lace scarf incorporating Morse code, and I will post about that with pictures and codes in general more extensively in a few days.

Susan Gibbs over at Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm is raffling off her entire stash to help her uncle buy a special wheelchair (for full details see here). Besides being very generous, this seems like it is too targeted at my demographic* to pass up, though where I would personally put it all I am not sure.

This raises all sorts of musings for me, the main one being: imagine having a stash that was actually full of yarn other people would want? I would definitely have to cherry pick my stash, or no one in his or her right mind would thank me.

Good luck to all the entrants.

*fibre obsessed people

I just got several weeks worth of the Berroco KnitBits newsletter in my Bloglines account today, and I am so excited about the new fall patterns.

Nora Gaughan has been blogging about her design process for one of the sweaters here, here, here, here, and here. I very much like the outcome (see Prospera). It’s so fun to watch how she does it, which I suppose is the point of the Berroco Design Studio Blog.

I don’t think that is the one I would actually make and wear though. I can see why that sweater is one of the showcase pieces, but I just can’t get over how great the gloves attached to a scarf are (see Usher) — that is the pattern that made me think about it all day.

Eastlake is probably the one I would wear and love the most. I think it would make feel very elegant, but I would likely undermine the effect by being unable to control the little dance I would want to do.

The whole pattern line is linked from here.

I am considering how I would like to adapt the scarf/gloves idea — it’s just too good not to want to mess with.

Well last night was the first night it has hailed so far this year. Yesterday was so hot (please humor me if you live somewhere that gets really hot, I have lived in the tropics, I know of what I speak), and the thunder started rumbling in the distance at about 10:00pm, and as we lay in bed the hail started, and I feared for my flax.

I jumped out of bed this morning and ran out to check on it:

See it is verdant and not in least trampled to the ground. Jon tells me that if it were trampled to the ground it would make me a real Saskatchewanian — because I would have lost a crop to hail. The summer is new: it may happen yet.

The cauliflower is also okay:

Taking pictures of cauliflower makes me think of Kaffe Fassett — he was the first designer who got me really excited about knitting, though I started with needlepoint. I think my cauliflower would be different from Kaffe’s (see Glorious Needlepoint): I think I would put some weeds in mine and holes where the bugs have eaten their share. I made his pear panel, and now it occurs to me that all these years later I still haven’t made in into a cushion or anything.

I like having a blog because it makes me complete things — under your watchful eyes I feel I need to produce something worth telling about. The knitting is running apace, but I am mired in projects I can’t write about. One think I will tell you is that I have a design coming out in Knitting in the Sun by Kristi Porter, which will be published next spring barring a flood or something. I sent the pattern on Sunday, and I am almost finished my sample. I am also very excited to be published in the same book as Stefanie Japel (see here). It makes me feel very accomplished and important.

I have been waiting for what seemed like forever for a package in the mail, and guess what — it just arrived:

This package, which looks so small on my table has loomed large in my mind for the last few weeks, as it contains yarn with a deadline attached. Here it is in the fibre:

It doesn’t look so threatening now does it? And here I will throw in a gratuitous yarn shot for good measure:

I am so disappointed; I am still waiting for my spinning wheel. I have so much yarn dancing in my head, but I have no wheel, and I put down my deposit over a month ago.

Apparently, it is somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, and that is all we know.

I have already bought some fibre and I feel like an idiot because I have all this fibre (okay so it is just a small (very small) shopping bag of the stuff), but I have no wheel to do anything with it.

And since it seems like time for true confessions, I have had my knitting machine for over a year, and I have yet to knit anything on it.

I am feeling down about my level of accomplishment today.

I have had such a frustrating time photographing this vest. These represent the fourth time we have tried to take good pictures — the last ones were okay, but I think they were too wintery, so here is our latest kick at the can:

The vest is great, but for some reason it hasn’t been easy to photograph well.

If you are interested in buying the pattern, the pattern page is here.

I was so horrified in January when I took all my stash out and looked at it in one place, and I decided I would do something about it. I bought one more tote to put it in, and separated the yarn into three containers: warm, cool, and neutral shades. The lids even almost closed properly. Then I knit Lyra’s coat (the pattern for which I will rationalize one of these days: if any of you actually want to knit it, please let me know so I will do it faster for you), and it used — well, more yarn than you can shake a stick at.

I thought I was almost home free: I had space in the totes, and I was so proud of myself, but I find I have lapsed into my old ways. I cleaned up my knitting basket yesterday, which was threatening to take over the living room floor (again), and I found that there was all this yarn I have bought on my various trips to other cities and yarn stores. It represented so many ideas and whims, but I find I cannot make things as fast as I can think them up. I suppose when/if I ever start making more money with my designs I could get contract knitters to whip up all my ideas — that makes me so jealous of the big designers — they have people to do the knitting for the projects they can’t get to.

I don’t have any room in the totes anymore, and I don’t have space in the closet for any more totes, so I am reduced to putting the yarn in question into my suitcase:

It’s all just so pretty and precious, and I want it out all the time so I can commune with it, but I live with someone else and feel it is wrong to monopolize the floor any further.

My feelings of guilt/horror/shame were not dissipated when Jon came into the living room and took one look at the yarn, unfinished objects, and other fibre paraphernalia and said: “so I am not judging you, but how much money is represented by this stuff? $300, $400?.” I was overcome by a little sinking feeling as I did a few rough calculations in my head, and just had to nod: “yes, something like that.” But now the contents of the basket are contained by the basket, and I will not do that anymore (until next time).

(I will be very annoyed with myself again the next time I have to go on a trip.)

I love early summer, I think it must be my favourite season — though I suppose that really one should still consider this late spring. I walk to and from work and it is so beautiful that I walk along in a bit of a daze staring up at the trees:

Saskatoon has been very lucky so far in that dutch elm disease hasn’t struck here yet, so all the streets in the old parts of town are lined with elms, but at any time they could all be gone.

On a smaller scale my flax is up and multi-leaved, which apparently makes it more frost tolerant — this is surely ironic as when it is two leaved there is a much greater likelihood of frost. Look at how pretty it is:

I think I may have got a little too excited when I scattered the seed. See here:

And here:

Any thoughts on what I should do? I guess I could try to thin it, but there is no where to walk without stepping on flax — I guess rows have a purpose after all, who knew?

I just followed the method my father-in-law told me from when he grew up on the farm: you scatter the seed with your hand. I may just leave it, maybe spindly plants give softer fibre or something.

I have been procrastinating on washing this sweater, and now it is June and it still hasn’t been worn. I have been working on it since last August — you would think that was enough time to get the only handmade Christmas present I made last year finished in time, but alas no.


I was enjoying how the sweater looked in the water and thinking about potions and other elixirs whipped up in the kitchen. Perhaps I should start dyeing?

It is no longer really getting later, as it is now too warm to wear it.

I just looked back and realized it has been quite a while since I wrote about my cabley gloves, and now they are so close to being done. I had forgotten how fast they work up when you do them this way.

Just look:

They always look like a dog’s breakfast at this stage, but I am very happy with the way they have turned out. It almost (almost) makes me look forward to winter, or at least October, so I can wear them.

When I got home from work yesterday I was so excited to find a Canada Post parcel delivery notice. I am waiting for some very pressing yarn orders with deadlines attached, and I am feeling very impatient.

When I got to the post office and I first saw the box, I was confused as it looked too big and heavy to be yarn. Then I saw the return address and it all came flooding back to me: I was sick a few weeks ago, and I was idly surfing the Internet in the middle of the morning and came upon the Folio Society website (okay, I had it bookmarked — in a folder called bibliophilia, please let your mind now fill with lurid images), and I decided that I would finally join after being patient for . . . oh, a very long time.

So now I have the “Empires of the Ancient World” introductory offer in my living room:

I have since gone online and ordered my four books to cement the deal. This is why credit cards and the Internet are a perilous, perilous combination not to be mixed by the unwary.

Wisp is only a pattern in the broadest sense of the word and borrows heavily from Debbie New’s scribble lace technique from Unexpected Knitting, which is quite frankly one of the most wonderful knitting books I have ever come across.

I believe I have mentioned this before, but I think Debbie New would be the most fun person to have in a knitting group. I can just imagine what it would be like:

“So, Debbie, what are you working on?”

“I am using this great lace weight wool I got to knit myself a boat. I have dyed it puce and am going to get one of my sons to cover it with epoxy and take it camping.”

If you could convince Debbie to join, it might be worth starting a knitting group, just for that.

Note: I was initially scared off by statements from Amazon and bookstores about how long it takes to get the book, but Schoolhouse Press seems to really have it together, and it was worth the wait.

The flax has sprouted:

Or else I have very well behaved and uniformly sized weeds, but I figure the weeds look more like this:

I am a little worried I have cleared away some perfectly verdant vegetation, made the backyard look like the surface of the moon and planted something that won’t grow.

Download pattern here: Wisp PDF pattern

Difficulty

Beginner

Finished measurements

Approximately 5 inches [13cm] wide / 84 inches [213cm] long

Materials

[MC] 1 skein of bulky novelty yarn (shown: Milkyrobot Girls Throw Snow, super-bulky handspun, 40 yards[36m])

[CC] 1 skein coordinating fingering yarn (shown: Sandes Garn Sisu, 173 yards[158m] per 50g, colour 1042)

1 US #17/12.75mm circular needle

Tapestry needle

Gauge

Not really important and difficult to measure.

The process

I am working on the best most wonderful thing I can come up with for my second skien of yarn from Milkyrobot. It’s difficult to know exactly, because I don’t think it would work well in anything too complicated. It is also not enough to make anything of any great size. I could do something in a simple lace pattern, but I worry that would be boring and predictable.

I confess I live in dread of being boring and predictable.

I think I would like another scarf out of it, but how to do it? I have come up with three toning yarns in brown that I want to knit with it to make the scarf, and I think it should be made in sections of colours/textures/yarns.

Here is my second attempt.

Knitting with four balls of wool at once is a pain, and I am not sure that four straight stripes will do it for me, so I think it may be time to rip it. I really don’t recommend ripping out lace weight mohair (or any mohair really), with mohair you really are committed. It’s good that lace weight mohair is so cheap per metre, because I think I will just end up tossing that bit.

I think that for the next iteration, I will work a stripe of handspun first, perhaps 4 or 5 sts in k1, p1 rib, then knit the rest onto it, by picking up sts along it, as surely part of it should be knit perpendicular to the rest and, and knitting to the sides as I go. this will give me more control over how the scarf is evolving and be easier to work — less tangly.

I really like the effect of the lace weight section though. Somehow the contrast with the handspun greatly appeals to me.

I confess I like to knit gloves the way many knitters seem to like to knit socks — they are so satisfying.

They don’t take too long, they fit in your bag, and of done right they so closely mirror the dimensions and contours of the body — three dimensionality at its finest.

Here is the beginning of my newest creation:

I love knitting gloves on two needles: it is very satisfying and there are no double pointed needles to mess with. I don’t hate dpn, but I find that straight needles are just so much easier to work with. I do think I will write the pattern for both circularly knit and flat knit versions though, so you can all decide for yourselves.

I am making them cabled as that makes them warmer (I am not sure that gloves could ever be too warm here) and hopefully look spiffy. They will also have substantial cuffs that will be able to either under or over the sleeves of your coat.

The yarn is the Instant Gratification from Brooklyn Handspun that I wrote about before.

I plan to write up the pattern in both versions and post it in the next couple months.

Within the next few days I will be posting the free pattern for the scarf I made with the Girls Throw Snow Handspun Yarn I bought from Milkyrobot a few months ago.

Here is a sneak peak:

I have finally got the flax in the ground. It’s a few days later than the middle of May, but spring was late too.

You may have divined that I have no idea what I am doing, but I have been asking around and apparently you can just prepare the dirt, sprinkle the seed, rake it a bit, and water it — who knew?

Here is the all important flax seed and some other stuff I may be able to grow.

For all that I am not supposed to anthropomorphize other living things, and plants don’t really want anything, I figure plants do want to grow and live and will do it where ever they can, so they are on my side.

Crochet me

I have joined Crochet Me, so I can attain a new level of competence and think in crochet. I realize that is akin to joining FaceBook so I can have friends, but I never said that nothing I would ever do would be ironic.

I want to be able to bring the crocheted things in my head into the world.

On Crochet Me, I am S-Sutherland; I would love to have some crochet friends.

I made these snowflakes some time ago when I was experimenting with crocheting lace, and they are certainly one of the most successful crochet projects I have done so far. Originally I intended to use them as Christmas decorations, but they are so pretty against my orange walls, that I have left them up for a year and a half.

All the patterns came from Glittering Snowflakes in Thread Crochet by Jo Ann Maxwell, published by the American School of Needlework. It doesn’t appear to be readily available, but there are other places with patterns for snowflakes.

They are wonderfully satisfying, and one can be completed in an evening. I would like to make more big ones for real Christmas or at least winter. There is something appealing in thinking of masses of yarn snow falling, which really shouldn’t need any further excuse than season or whim.

Grumble, grumble, scowl. . .

I just spent the best part of an hour ripping out the yoke of my current project, and I was so close to being done, but it wasn’t right, so now this is what I have to show for my labours:

Jess at Milkyrobot has interviewed me on her blog here: Interview: Sarah from Parallax Knitting. If you are interested in my knitting, spinning and generally fibrous life, please check it out.

This is a series of questions Jess Rollar of Milkyrobot was kind enough to answer for me about spinning and her process. You can buy Jess’ yarns and fibre from her Etsy store (also called Milkyrobot). I have bought some, and please let me say that they are as wonderful as they look in the pictures.

How did you get started spinning?

After teaching myself knitting, I became very interested in handspun yarn. I kept drooling over handspun and wondered if I could do the same. Once I got spinning I was hooked!

How long have you been spinning and how long were you doing it before you considered yourself good?

I started spinning in 2002. My mom bought me a wheel for my 21st birthday with no experience what so ever. It took me a couple tries to actually get any yarn to twist and not break. I finally mastered the skill later in the month. It was about 8 months to a year until I fell in love with my yarn. Some were kinda creepy at first and didn’t actually look like yarn!

Who taught you how to spin?

I taught myself how to spin after getting my wheel. I’ve never used a drop spindle and still haven’t. Just could never get it to work right.

What is your process?

I always start out with an image or idea before gathering my materials. I usually base my yarn and batts off of graffiti art, nature or just random objects that catch my eye. Once I have an idea of what I want to create, I gather all the fibers together and card them into a squishy batt, then spin away! Some yarns get plied and some stay single, the yarns do the talking!

What equipment do you need to create the yarns your post on your Etsy shop and blog?

The equipment I use the most would be my spinning wheel, of course, and my Ashford drum carder.

What kind of wheel do you have and what kinds have you had in the past?

I spin on a Louet S-17. This is the first and only wheel I’ve had. I do have plans to pick up an Ashford Country Spinner sometime this year.

Where do you buy your materials?

Most of my materials are bought from two local fiber shops, The Fiber Factory and Tempe Yarn and Fiber in Arizona. I get some unusual spinning fiber online or from etsy shops as well.

Do you dye your own fiber, if not, how do you get the exact colors you want?

I have dyed my own fiber in the past. I’m currently getting ready to start dyeing sock yarn soon. When I can’t find the exact colors I want, I find other materials to spin into my yarn such as sequins or random strings and things.

What do you think would be a basic start up spinning kit? Wheel? Fiber? Carders?

I always suggest starting with a Louet or Ashford wheel. I find these wheels very easy to understand and use. As for fiber, I would suggest wool or dyed roving to start with. Once your comfortable with your wheel, try adding in random fibers and see how they spin and feel. I’ve only used Ashford hand carders and drum carders and very much love them! I suggest starting with that to anyone!

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with spinning and get excited about the yarns you make and sell?

You must have lots of patience and lots of creativity! Let your fingers do the work and let the fiber do the talking. Anything can be spun even plastic spiders and feathers! Get super creative and don’t hold back.

What tips would you give to a new spinner on how to spin your batts? How do you incorporate the sequins into the spinning?

Whenever I spin my own batts or even others, I always strip the fiber into 8 pieces. Once split up, I spin each strip one after another and let the colors pop up how they please. Sometimes I even mix other fiber clumps into the spinning or solid merino strips. With the sequins, I usually just catch the tip of the sequin strand to some fiber and let the wheel pull the in, twisting the sequin strand around the roving.

How close are you to being able to support yourself on spinning?

If it wasn’t for the economy today and if I could get my yarn into a few more shops, I would most likely be able to live off my yarn and fiber sales. But in this case, maybe next year if I push myself hard enough!

This yarn is very nice to work with. It has good memory and sheen, and feels wonderfully smooth to wear.

The only problem that I found with working with it is that it is prone to splitting and is easily damaged by the needles if you are not careful. For that reason, I would suggest that this yarn is not appropriate for beginning knitters, but I would recommend it for anyone else who wants a nice light smooth fitted summer sweater.

Channel your inner Becky Sharpe — I suggest wearing it “tailored to a nicety” (read tight).

I was in the Wool Emporium ordering my spinning wheel and Glenda mentioned that some people are growing flax in Saskatchewan for fibre already, and all they do to ret it is cut it down and let it sit under the snow over the winter.

That sounds like it can be accomplished. I was a little worried about how it would work before, but laying it on the ground and letting it rot is something I think I can do.

Note: retting is when you let the stalks rot a little, so the soft part of the stem is gone, which frees the long fibres, which make up the linen.

She also says that spinning flax on a spinning wheel is easy.

and now I have put a down payment on a spinning wheel and it should be here in about ten days. I am so excited! You see, I may have put a bug in someone’s ear that what I really wanted for my birthday was money for a spinning wheel, and now I can justify it — it’s my families way to making sure I get what I want. (Thank you everyone, you know who you are)

In the meantime, I have placated myself with a drop spindle and verifying that I do really still remember how to spin.

If I were going for laughs, I would have posted a picture of me trying to operate it, as I never really perfected using a spindle, just a wheel, but if you look closely, please note that the wool on the spindle is in fact spun.

I started digging the garden today in my quest for my own home grown flax:

I am quite tired now. I have spent practically my entire adult life living in apartments and am wimpy about digging. I figure that if I dig about this much every day left this week, I will be ready to plant on the weekend.

It is not as hard as I anticipated. I grew up on glacial till, and there are more rocks in that dirt than you can shake a stick at. It might have given me a distorted view of how hard gardening is.

I plan on going to my local yarn store and looking at spinning wheels etc. on the weekend. It’s all coming together.

Okay, so I was a little disheartened about the whole Christmas present sweater fiasco. I was so demoralized about having to undo the stitching and unraveling the sleeve caps (again) that I kept procrastinating on fixing the problem. Then my mother came to visit, and she suggested just pinning the extra fabric, stitching it, the trimming it, and finishing the edges.

Now I have read about this kind of thing, and I know you can cut your knitting in this way, but I was never sufficiently frustrated to try it before (you see, I am used to my projects turning out).

The whole exercise has been a success and here is a little tutorial in case it ever happens to you:

Here is what the shoulders looked like before:

The beginning

They were in fact worse than they appear in the photo if you can credit it.

The next step was putting the sweater on inside out and pinning it where the seam should be:

After this I basted the shoulder where it seemed like it should be, I did a few iterations of trying on and fixing the seam:

After I was happy with the seam placement, I sewed another line of stitching about three quarters of a centimetre from the first one and trimmed it:

Eek, my knitting is cut. This is something I never wanted to happen:

But in the end it was all worth it, as now it is actually wearable:

So that is the last of my Christmas presents for 2007, yeah!

I have finally convinced my boyfriend to take some better pictures of me in Lyra’s coat:

It is also just warm enough to actually wear it.

I got this yarn in the mail a couple days ago, but I haven’t had time to write about it yet:

It’s from Brooklyn Handspun, and it’s called Instant Gratification in the “Kinda Camo” colourway.

I am so happy with it. I have started swatching it, and it works up so smooth and my cables show up very well. It is very soft too.

I am planning to make some gloves with it — I make gloves as other knitters seem to make socks and always seem to have another pair in me. The only thing I would observe about that is that it makes sense to have large numbers of socks, but a little less sense to have large numbers of gloves (for most people, single socks and gloves make even less sense, but that doesn’t mean that knitters don’t make those too).

It must be strange of me to wind my balls of yarn by hand when I have a yarn winder, but somehow I think they just come out so pretty that way.

I have just finished reading Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber; it was wonderful and transported me through time to see the work all those women did making things to make their lives a little more beautiful. It appears to be out of print, but I was able to order a copy from ABE Books without difficulty.

I loved the descriptions of making linen and wool, and I have come up with the brilliant idea of growing flax in the backyard.

Sure, it may not look like much now, but I will dig it and plant my flax and grow it and ret it and spin it. I anticipate that the flax I grow will not be good for “clothing,” but I can always knit a table cloth or a rug or something from it.

I need to dig the garden soon as the weeds are already growing. You see, last year I let it go “fallow” so there may be a bit of a battle to get this started, but I think it is a wonderful, if somewhat eccentric, idea. I have looked up the Flax Council of Canada’s website and they advise the farmers to plant it in the middle of May, and I plan to do the same.

I’ll keep you posted.

More travels

This weekend we drove from Vancouver to Saskatoon. This is not really knitting related, but here are some pictures from west to east:

Outside Lake Louise Alberta

Prairie from my window

Prairie road

And now for a horse of a different colour . . .

I have never managed to grow orchids very well before. They usually died and certainly never bloomed, but now my orchid has bloomed, not the flowers that come on it from the store, but real live blooms that grew in my own house.

my orchid in bloom

Download pattern here: Minimalist funnel neck

This sweater solves my knitting Catch-22: I don’t buy sweaters because this depletes perfectly legitimate yarn resources, and I don’t knit anything ordinary, because why would I want to spend that much time on something that is not fabulous? This means that I never have a plain black cardigan or pullover. This funnel neck pullover solves this paradox, by being a wardrobe basic, while incorporating great yarn and sufficient knitting interest to keep mine.

This sweater is close fitting and an exercise in three dimensional knitting. The whole sweater is knit in one piece from the neck down. I confess one of my parameters was that I wanted a project I could work on without looking, and after the yoke shaping this can be done. The final product is something I would make in more colours and with differing length sleeves and textures, but I am already onto my next eccentric project.

Minimalist funnel neck

Difficulty

intermediate

Size

Finished bust 32 [36, 40, 44]inches (80 [90, 100, 110]cm), shown in size 36 inches (90cm)

Materials

4 (4, 5, 6) skeins Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran (100% wool; 175 yd [160m] per 100g), colour#415 Maze

set of US 9 (5.5mm) double-point needles

16″ (40cm) US 9 (5.5mm) circular needle

29″ (74cm) US 9 (5.5 mm) circular needle

Two kinds of stitch markers

Tapestry needle

Gauge

15 sts and 20 rows = 4″ (10cm) in k1, p1 rib, slightly stretched

minimalist funnel neck - back Minimalist funnel neck

I just finished my latest creation. I took it with me on my last trip and worked on it on the plane, and I perfectly gaged how big it could be before I would run out of yarn.

This is all I have left:

Surely that is a thing of beauty.

Download pattern here: Josephine.

Originally published in Magknits, March 2008

This sweater has much to recommend it: it is warm and cosy and a fast enough knit to be ready before it gets too warm to need it. The cowl can be worn buttoned or open as an oversized collar. There is a minimum of actual direction in this pattern, with most sizing being placed anywhere along the row you like – like many things this pattern shows that random numbers can create great results.

Of course human beings do not make good random number generators as we dislike to see the same number appear consecutively, but for the purposes of this design that is fine, because humans are the beings who will look at your sweater most, and most other humans have the same biases as you.

Difficulty

Easy

Size

33 inch / 84cm (37 inch / 94cm, 41 inch / 104cm, 45 inch / 114cm, 49 inch / 125)

Materials

6 (6, 7, 8, 8) skeins Rowan Big Wool (100% wool, 87 yd [80 m] per 100g); colour: tremble #35

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 16 inches (40cm) long

US 17 [12 mm] straight needles

OR

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 24-32″ (60-80 cm) long

Stitch markers

Tapestry needle

7 1.75-inch [44 mm] buttons

Gauge

7.5 sts and 10 rows = 4″ [10 cm] in stockinette

I was away this week in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms were in bloom, just as they should be. I walked around the mall and here is proof that I was actually there:

The Washington Monument

The weather was beautiful. I walked so far trying to see everything.

Now I am back in Saskatchewan, and this morning I woke up to this:

Snow in April

Hmmm, but I got some wonderful yarn at Stitch DC, which makes up for it all.

Habu and hemp for knitting yarn

The black is some wonderfully textural linen from Habu; the grey is silk and stainless steel from Habu; the blue is hemp for knitting from Lanaknits.

I was so excited; I haven’t found Habu yarns at any of the yarn stores I have been to in Canada. I have so many ideas about what to do with it all.

I will keep you posted and wait for the snow to melt.

I have finally finished Lyra’s red sweater coat from the Golden Compass!

Here are some preliminary pictures:

lyras-coat-completed1.jpg

lyras-coat-completed2.jpg

The sleeves grew quite a bit in the wash, so keep that in mind. They started as a bit short, but now they are to my knuckles, but what can you do?

It’s very fun, and I am looking forward to wearing it.

I will post some better and more posed pictures in a few days, maybe I’ll even get it together to put on makeup.

Here is the first PDF of the patterns I published in Magknits of the last few years:

Kaleidoscope

If you are interested in the yarn I used, please see Princess Farms’ website.

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

If you like the pattern and want to see more, consider making a donation:

Or check out my patterns for sale.

Perhaps you already know, but Magknits is no more. I am so sad. I loved Magknits — it was published every month and had the latest publication deadlines of any knitting publication I have found so far.

If anyone wants to find any of the patterns in the next few days or weeks, you can do a search in Google and look at the cache for the patterns. The patterns are there, but the pictures are gone, but do it as quickly or they will be gone too.

I will be reposting pdfs of my patterns on my blog in the next few days, so please check back.

lyrascoat-buttons1.jpg

Sometimes you don’t have those perfect buttons to complete the project you are working on and sometimes you don’t want to go out to get any, or you live in Saskatchewan and today is Sunday and nowhere likely to sell buttons is open. Or maybe, just maybe you are aesthetically opposed to spending money on this project, but you still have yarn left over — then you can crochet yourself buttons.

I started with cotton yarn in a colour that coordinates with my project. an appropriately sized crochet hook, something to stuff the buttons, and a tapestry needle:

lyrascoat-buttons2.jpg

I started with the loops for button holes:

Loop the yarn twice around something that will give you the approximate length you want — I used the palm of my hand and bring a loop of yarn from the back and then loop around the hook and pull through, this will start your crochet. This is a little difficult to explain, just try it until it makes sense.

lyrascoat-buttons3.jpg

Next, work single crochet, bringing the hook to the back of the yarn circle to bind it.

lyrascoat-buttons4.jpg

Continue until the end of the loop and make sure the stitches aren’t twisted. Cut the yarn leaving about a 4″[10cm] tail. Put the tail on the tapestry needle, thread through the first crochet stitch to secure it, and draw through some stitches to secure the end

lyrascoat-buttons5.jpg

For the buttons themselves, wrap the yarn two times around your little finger.

lyrascoat-buttons6.jpg

Put your hook to the back of the loop and wrap the yarn around it and pull back to the front, wrap the yarn around the hook and pull through first loop.

lyrascoat-buttons7.jpg

Now crochet about 6 single crochet stitches onto the loop.

lyrascoat-buttons9.jpg

Pull the loose thread from the yarn you wrapped around your finger to pull tight and close the hole in the middle. Do a slip stitch in the first single crochet to complete the circle. Chain one, work a single crochet stitch in the next stitch and two in the following one. Continue working one single crochet and two single crochets in each stitch for about two rounds or until you think your button is almost big enough. Switch to working one single crochet in each stitch for one round.

lyrascoat-buttons11.jpg

Slip hook through next stitch from the previous round and wrap yarn, pull through, repeat for next stitch, wrap yarn around hook and pull through the three loops on the hook. Single crochet in next stitch. Repeat the previous two stitches until the hole starts to close.

lyrascoat-buttons12.jpg

Take a small amount of stuffing about the size of your button when compressed

lyrascoat-buttons13.jpg

and stuff it in your button.

lyrascoat-buttons14.jpg

Continue working as established until the hole is almost closed. Cut the yarn, leaving about a 6 inch[15cm] tail. Using your tapestry needle, darn the hole closed and stitch through several stitches to secure the end. Draw through the button and cut the thread.

lyrascoat-buttons15.jpg

Here is one of my finished buttons:

lyrascoat-buttons16.jpg

Here is what the button and loop look like on my project (Lyra’s coat, instructions are available here). I made five altogether as I was originally going to make four, but since living in China I am superstitious about the number four and try to avoid it.

lyrascoat-buttons17.jpg

As we previously discussed there is a small problem with the placement of the pockets on my coat, so here are instructions to show the way I have dealt with this little problem.

This is what they are like now:

Lyra’s Coat with botched Pockets

lyras-coat-botched-pockets2.jpg

I cut half the threads that make the coat at one side, slightly staggered, so the join won’t show too badly and unwind the cast on edge:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets3.jpg

Then I cut the other half at the other side and unwound those too:

lyras-coat-botched-pockets4.jpg

Finally, I will put the yarn on a tapestry needle and graft the two sides together:lyras-coat-botched-pockets5.jpg

lyras-coat-botched-pockets6.jpg

The unevenness will go out after I “block” it — actually this will be more of a “wash.”

I am almost done Lyra’s coat. I tried it on today and I only have a few more inches. Actually, the whole thing is so heavy that it grows and I think I should stop sooner than I intuitively think I should.

The pockets are a fiasco. The coat has grown from when I made them and they are no longer anywhere near my hands. I could do Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method of cutting the yarn and taking out the stitches to make holes for the pockets, but the coat is so heavy I think I would have to reinforce them in some way and I just don’t think it will work well, so the pockets will be nixed for my sweater.

I think I will be posting a technique of how to undo pocket holes in the next few days, so you can all look forward to that. Just remember if you are caught up with me in knitting this that I said you should make pockets where you want them, so if you placed yours as badly as I did, it is not my fault.

I have a couple pictures of me knitting the coat:

Lyra’s coat in progress

Lyra’s coat in progress - 2

It is enormous and overflows my lap. I wish it would be done now. Just a few more inches.

I just wish I had a bathtub to wash it in — it will overflow the kitchen sink as well, and it is musty!

I love algebra

Please don’t stop reading — I really do. Algebra is the only thing that allows me to design knitting the way I want to.

I suppose you can cast on for a scarf or other simple garment and just start knitting, especially if you listen to Debbie New and follow some of her swatchless knitting techniques, but that is not the way I want to work most of the time. I want to knit things that mold to and follow the ins and outs of the human body (maybe also the dog body, I may make a doggy sweater in the not too distant future). I also want my knitting to be convincingly three dimensional.

Don’t tell me only crochet can do that; it will get my hackles up. Just imagine your reaction if I said that all knitters can crochet, but not all crocheters can knit, and you will get some idea of the force of my feelings on this subject. You just can’t get there without math, unless you are a freeform whiz, which I am afraid I cannot claim to be.

I generally start with a gauge swatch and work out my gauge in stitches and rows to 4 inches[10cm]. I then get out the measuring tape and start measuring everything. At this point I don’t think you can measure too many parts of your body to get an idea of how everything will fit together. Then I multiply the number of inches by the gauge per inch. This gives me an idea of how many stitches should be in each part. Then you need to start working out how many stitches difference there are between each section and how much distance there is for the pattern to increase or decrease enough.

Now there needs to be some understanding of how many stitches are needed to make complete repeats of any patterns you are including and to make the increases and decreases work out.

I follow the instructions I remember from grade 11 physics – assign variables to all the values you need to know and write down all the values you do know and just start deriving variables until you get all the variables you need.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here is my spreadsheet with my calculations for Josephine:

josephinesizingchart2.jpg

I confess I knit from a spreadsheet and write everything out in a way others can understand it only later. I use formulated cells in Excel in all my calculations too, because I love algebra, not arithmetic.

I have gotten back to working on Lyra’s coat again today. I was having a little break from it, partly because I have hardly had a complete minute at home, and partly because I would need a duffel bag to carry the great damn thing around with me.

I was thinking about all the yarn I am using up, it is so nice to use all this that would probably otherwise never get used. It makes me think about my sister who once had an unworn wedding dress from an old store that was closing. My mother made me give it away when my sister wasn’t there because she felt it was unlucky, and surely she was right. There must be something unlucky about something that is made only for a special event and to represent a wonderful life to come that is never used for that purpose, but instead sits in a basement for years in a garment bag.

Yarn must be like that — it wants to be something, having it sit in a basement or closet for so many years it becomes musty must be wrong. Like the letters that never got delivered in Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal and made all the people who worked in the post office lose their minds because the energy of the undelivered letters built up and overcame them. Yarn must be like that, it wants to be worn and exist and go outside. I am doing what I can for the yarn in my life — what are doing about the yarn in yours?

I have just finished a project from my stash, and I plan to make the pattern available here in the next few weeks, but I thought I might give you a sneak peek at what was coming:

Gwen

I still need to block it and photograph it properly, so you can get a better idea of what it really looks like.

And just because I love yarn closeups:

gwen-2.jpg

I just got these beauties from Milkyrobot:

milkyrobotyarn-2.jpg

I figure you need to cut yarn like this, especially if you are buying it from someone else, as it would just be too expensive otherwise, though I do want one of these really badly.

milkyrobotyarn-1.jpg

I have special plans for one of them (the one is as yet unidentified).

I thought the pink one was more red from the photos, so now I am considering cutting it with grey instead of red (I have also greatly reduced my red yarn stash, but my grey is undiminished).

Glenda will be calling me within the next few weeks when my drop spindle comes in.

I have been fantasizing about fibre lately and then I was looking Etsy, which is a hobby dangerous to one’s pocket book. I recently gave in to two skeins from Milkyrobot. I also got a little excited at McNally Robinson and bought Intertwined by Lexi Boeger and Spinning the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts.

It is only a matter of time.

I have spun before, but what I ended up with was pretty dull:

Handspun scarf

Yes, it is a grey garter stitch scarf. Please try to contain your excitement.

Handspun scarf - 2

I quit because it seemed boring. I didn’t know that spinning like this was possible: here, here, and here.

Just contemplate Fabulosity, Milkyrobot, and Pluckyfluff. It is only a matter of time, but I will refrain from buying a spinning wheel yet, as I don’t think I need an expensive dusty carpet ornament.  I will ease my way in with a spindle.

I have recently realized that I have become the resident knitting guru at my job. This role used to be filled by two other women, but I think having a few patterns published pushed me to the fore, and now anyone who has a problem with a project comes to ask me about it.

I am having so much fun with this, and the best part is that people have begun to bring me little offerings – yesterday someone brought me two little balls of yarn from her mother for when my knitting machine is fully operational. A couple of months ago someone else brought me two shopping bags of yarn from her stash for my Lyra’s coat, and before that someone brought me all her mother’s knitting needles.

This is just great. I feel like I should have a little shrine outside my office with knitting needles in sand instead of incense and balls of yarn as offerings. I just can’t tell you how much of a kick I get out of it when everyone asks me for help (and of course brings me stuff).

The irony is that I suspect that the other two women are actually better technical knitters than me. I just like messing around with yarn and making stuff up, but I won’t complain.

I have received a request from Nikki over at Knitensity for more pictures from different angles for Josephine so here are a few. Please excuse the weird blind shadows.

josephine-2.jpg

josephine-1.jpg

josephine-3.jpg

For some reason I don’t seem to have any pictures of the back, but there is a picture of the yoke shaping on the back in the pattern page. For the free pattern, please see Magknits here.

Pockets

Of course pockets in all knitting projects are optional and the original didn’t have any, but I have more or less dispensed with accurately recreating the sweater exactly (though this pattern could easily be done that way), I also love walking with my hands in my pockets, so mine will have some.

Work your sweater in garter stitch until you get to the part where pockets should be. I suggest trying it on (if you are anything at all like me this will be just the next in a succession in many tryings on) and figuring out where you want pockets.

At this point my sweater looks like this (click to see full size):

lyras-coat-at-pockets.jpg

I am also adding a few stitches for hip shaping here, which is also optional and will depend on the body shape of the person who will wear it. I have already added 2 stitches in one row and will add 2 more a little later, this will add about 2 inches. I chose to do this staggered, so it wouldn’t suddenly bulge – I spend quite a bit of mental energy in clothing selection trying to make my hips not look like they bulge.

The next step is to figure out how wide you want your pockets. I figure I want mine about 6 inches (18cm) wide. Change the width of the pocket to align with the size of the sweater you are making and/or your preferences: smaller sweater = smaller pocket and vice versa.

The next step is to go back and work how wide each front side was. Then I suggest taking the number of stitches on each front side, subtracting the number of stitches to make your pocket the size you want, and dividing the remaining number by 2 and placing your pocket that many stitches from the edge.

Now you know how wide your pocket will be and where to put it, on the next right side row (so the garter pattern will work better) work as many stitches as will be the edge of your pocket, take as many stitches as make your pocket and put them on waste yarn or a stitch holder, CO as many stitches as will make your pocket (I suggest backward loop cast in this situation), work until you are the number of stitches between your pocket and the edge plus the number of stitches for your pocket and repeat the process with the holder and the cast on. Work to end, turn and work as usual.

I plan to work the pockets at the end with one strand of whatever yarn I have left so it will not be too bulky. I will K1, yarn over, K1, yarn over . . . , so the difference in gauge will not be such a problem, and in the next row I will knit through back loop, so there will not be holes from the yarn overs. I will post about this too, but I am outlining it now in case you want to change order of knitting or get ahead of me.

My version

My two fronts are 19 sts each. My gauge is 7 sts /4 inches (10cm).

(6 inches (15cm) for each pocket) x (7 sts / 4 inches (10cm) gauge) = 10.5 sts (say 11 sts) for pocket

(19 sts / front) – (11 sts for pocket) = 8 sts / 2 = 4 sts from edge

Knitting of course is amenable to fudging and now I see that I don’t like the distance from the edge that my calculations came up with, so am am changing it to 6 sts from edge.

So I need to K6, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, K to 16 sts from end, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, work to end. In the next row I work in garter stitch as usual.

This is about what it should look like at this stage:

pockets.jpg

March MagKnits is up, including my Josephine:

Josephine

Note: Since Magknits is unfortunately no more, I have posted this pattern as a free pdf download here.

I have been having problems with my knitting machine see here and here). It hasn’t really given me any indication up till now that it wanted to do anything I directed.

I don’t know anyone who knows how to do this, so I have to learn with these:

km-1.jpg

Which is of course very hard. Finally last Sunday, I threaded the machine and tried to knit.

km-2.jpg

It was so hard and I actually had to cut it loose (no pictures – painful memory I want to forget).

I then thought maybe I should try cleaning and oiling it – who could anticipate that old machinery that hasn’t been used in years might need to be cleaned and lubricated? – I never said I was good at this part.

After that the knitting machine and I had a time out for a few days.

Then today I got home from work and tried one more time and I was able to . . . wait for it . . . you guessed it . . . cast on!

I made a weird little bit of too tight ribbing with waste yarn, which I will one day throw in the garbage, but not today, because I made the knitting machine work.

Please pause a moment to consider my creation:

km-4.jpg

km-3.jpg

See it can be done.

I have ordered a Japanese craft book off Ebay, well knitting/crochet book, the sewing book will be tackled later. I am not exactly sure how this will work, but they have graphs, so I should be able to make this happen.

Ponder this for a moment:

japanesecraftbook1.jpg

I especially want these:

japanesecraftbook2.jpg

Here is a selection from the instructions page:

japanesecraftbook4.jpg

I will try to make these, all as part of the cause of improving my crochet. It may be a little difficult to figure out, but I have checked Google and this (ウール) means wool, so there you go. I am practically there!

japanesecraftbook5.jpg

If you read enough Japanese to do it, or you want to live dangerously, you could buy it from Amazon Japan.

Bookbinding

Last night I went to a bookmaking class. It was the second of two and I made two whole books.

Here are some pictures of the first one:

bookbinding2.jpg

bookbinding3.jpg

It is very handy as the book contents are instructions on how to make more books.

The next one was much more involved. Here are some pictures of it too:

bookbinding1.jpg

This one has two spines and opens from the middle.

It has an accordion fold on the left with separate signatures for notes — you could categorize your thoughts and an envelope for little bits of stuff:

bookbinding6.jpg

It also has a separate signature on the right with a selection of fancy papers. Apparently, this is so that there are always supplies for collage on hand. I confess I can’t imagine the desire ever striking me, but the idea that there are people in the world who are occasionally struck by the desire to collage immediately and always carry a supply of paper and presumably some kind of paste greatly appeals to me. I am usually only ever struck by the desire to knit, which is much less likely to lead to sticky fingers and a gummy table in cafés etc.

bookbinding4.jpg

The world must be a more interesting place with such people in it.

A glove by any other name - 1$5.00

Of course you could just knit gloves on double pointed needles. Life would be more simple if everyone did things the same way, but not everyone likes dpn, and sometimes you want to try something different, just because you can.

These gloves are knit on straight needles in double knitting, so there are no seams either. They require the same amount of making up that gloves on dpn: just weave in ends.

Difficulty

Average

Size

One size

Finished measurements

11 inches [28cm] long (with cuff, without cuff 8 inches [20cm])

8 inches [20cm] around palm

Materials

Filatura Di Crosa New Malizioso [100% wool; 55yd/50m per 50g skein]; color: 4; 2 skeins

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

Gauge

10 sts / 15 rows over 4 inches [10cm]

A glove by any other name - 2 A glove by any other name - 3 Double knit gloves

 

I want to knit everything on straight needles — absolutely everything.

I knit gloves on straight needles, see here and here. I also knit sweaters on straight needles, see here and the new issue of Magknits coming out in March. I also knit hats on straight needles, but that is a little less extraordinary, see here and here.

Double knit gloves

I partly dislike circulars and partly it just seems fun to do it that way.

I am so excited about my next pattern, which I will be posting this weekend if all goes well. I have a new (though perhaps unvented as opposed invented) way of making gloves on two needles, so I hope you will check back.

Here is a sneak preview.

Gloves on two needles never look like anything special when you are knitting them, then the metamorphose into something right.

Lyras Coat with Sleeves

Cast on stitches at underarms and work body of sweater:

This is about what your sweater coat should look like at this stage.

The sleeves are completed and it is now time to put the live stitches from the body back on your needles and cast on some stitches for the underarms.

The first thing you need to do is measure how large your sweater is without casting on for underarms. This means you should measure your two front halves and the back. These numbers combined are how large the sweater is now.

Next, you will need to work out how big it should be. I think I want 6 inches [15cm] ease. This is because I want the sweater to drape like a coat, and coats tend to be bigger, and because the fabric is so thick the inside will be smaller than the outside. (thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann, see Knitter’s Almanac, unfortunately out of print). If your sweater is much smaller, i.e. child’s size, you may want to have slightly less ease (4-5 inches [10-12cm], but that is up to you.

Subtract how big your sweater is from how big you want it to be, this will give you how much you need to cast on for. Divide this amount by two for each underarm and multiply it my your gauge, this will give you the number of stitches to cast on under each arm.

Put all the live stitches onto a long needle (I think you will need a circular needle for this), which will fold the sleeves in half. If you find that you didn’t end one end in the right direction and you will not start your garter stitch on the same (right side or wrong side) row, work one row to make it even.

Starting at the beginning of the row of the stitches you have on your needle, work to the first sleeve, cast on the number of stitches you worked out in the previous step; repeat for the second underarm. You will now have enough stitches on your needle for the complete body of the sweater.

At this point you can decide to work straight until the end of the garment, in which case, you can bid farewell to my instructions, such as they are. Just keep going until you are happy, bind off, sew on your preferred method of closure, sew the sleeve seams, wash the sweater (if you are using old stash yarn and your sweater smells a little fusty), block/dry it, and enjoy.

I however, have decided that I want pockets, I know the original didn’t have any, but I want them and it’s my sweater. I also plan to add a few stitches for a little increased room for my hips and walking stride. If you want either of these things, work to the point at which these things would be appropriate and I will try to catch up to you as soon as I can.

My version:

My sweater without casting on at underarms is as follows:

(11 inches [28cm] x 2 fronts) + 23 inches [58cm] = 45 inches [114cm]

If you think back to the measurement stage, my bust with clothes is 38 inches [97cm]

45 inches [114cm] – (38 inches [97cm] + 6 inches [15cm]) = -1 inch [-2cm]

My sweater turned out to be big enough already, so I will just start knitting the body, but if you need any added under the arms, follow the directions here.

This is what my sweater looked like before I joined for and started working body:

ready to work body

This is what my sweater looked like after I worked a few rows and sewed the sleeve seams with mattress stitch:

sleevessewn.jpg

I found that sewing the sleeve seams made the knitting easier, so I did that now, but that is a matter of preference.

If you added stitches under the arms, sew the beginnings of the sleeves to the underarm stitches, then sew the rest of the sleeve seam straight.

It is so cold in Saskatchewan this weekend, and I just couldn’t resist putting in a plug for my Russian Princess in Exile, it is the warmest, best winter hat I have ever had, and I think it looks cute too.

Frosty

This is how cold it is, and yes, that is frost in my hair, but my head is warm.

On crochet

I think I learned to crochet and knit at the same time, which was probably more than 20 years ago now. I remember I was about 8 and after knitting a few Barbie scarves I started making a mitten. I made it half way through the first one.

The only thing I remember crocheting as a child was an afghan, but surely I didn’t learn to crochet on an afghan — if for no other reason, who would give a child who had never crocheted anything before that much yarn? I afghan was not a great success — the edges were kind of ripply.

But though I started the two crafts so equally, I only started knitting again about 6 years ago, but I didn’t crochet as much.

Now I find that because I have done it so much more, I think in knitting. I can look at yarn and see a finished object — a finished knitted object, but every time I want to crochet something still I need to look up exactly what they mean by dc — I never have to look up what k2tog means. I can’t see what something crocheted will look like before it is done or without a pattern with a picture.

I just don’t think in crochet, but I wish I had the facility to do it. Here is a picture of the first thing I ever made in crochet without seeing a picture or model of first, the motifs are from Norah Gaughan:

crochetpillow.jpg

Here is my original post on it: Other uses I have put my stash to.

In crochet I am reduced to salvaging my results when I try to make a rug as cushion appliqués.

I think I will persevere, maybe I will make something Loop-d-Loop Crochet by Teva Durham. She makes it look so . . . so . . . fresh/exciting/fashionable/quirky/elegant/fun — I just don’t think I can come up with a better word for it than that. I also have Crochet Me by Kim Werker, which is also fabulous.

One day crochet will speak to me too.

I have come up with another method for swatchless knitting.

Debbie New has a few in her book Unexpected Knitting. They include knitting on the bias and adding stitches each side, like knitted dishcloths. At this point, I should say that I am only talking in a theoretical way at this point as I have never knit anything as practical as a dishcloth. This way you knit a piece with a right angle and then when your sides are as long as the shortest side, you start decreasing at the same rate, if you want it to be rectangular, you continue increasing on one side and decrease on the other.

She calls her other method log cabin knitting, and she casts on a few stitches knit a few rows, binds off, and picks up more stitches off one of the sides, knits a few rows, binds off, repeats. This can make a square or I suppose whatever rectangular shape you want, like a log cabin quilt.

I imagine Debbie New as the most fun person in the whole world to have in a knitting group.

Her ideas are great, but I have formulated another way, though it really only works when you design your own patterns.

My method was inspired by Norah Gaughan’s Roundabout Leaf Tank from Knitting Nature. In it, you start with a strip of knitting and knit long enough to go around your hips then you start knitting it together with the beginning of the strip in a spiral making up the body of the sweater.

Morse code vest - stitch closeup

What I figured, was that you could just cast on some stitches and start knitting without making a swatch, because you could measure your gauge from your first piece and work out your pattern for the whole garment. Then you cast on enough to make the other side of the front or back or enough to do the whole rest of whatever you are are knitting and at the end of your first row, start knitting your new piece together with your first piece.

The stitch I use to knit the two pieces together is as follows: work in pattern to last stitch of RS row, slip 1 with yarn in back, pick up and knit 1 stitch from the first row of other piece, pass slipped stitch over, turn, slip 1 stitch with yarn in front, knit to end.  This stitch works when picking up from the left edge of the right side of knitting; I have figured out how to do it on the left edge of the wrong side, but it is more convoluted.

If you would like to knit a design I knit this way, please see my Morse code vest.

Morse code tank$5.00

A series of dots and dashes that form a meaningful whole . . .

This close fitting vest or tank is knit in four pieces each with different stitch patterns, but they come together to form a coherent garment, which is knit together as you go, so there is no making up at the end. This makes a nice lacy tank, but if you are too modest or chilly to wear it as one, it makes a wonderful vest as well. I fantasize about making myself another in something soft and fuzzy for the winter.

I think that buttons going up the back of clothes are wonderful. They give you a nice stretch if you do them up yourself, but they are more fun if you have someone to do them up for you – so keep everyone guessing about who is helping you on with your clothes in the morning.

Difficulty

Average

Size

XS [S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X] (shown in size M)

Finished measurements

Chest: 28[32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52] inches

Length: 22.5[22.5, 23, 23.5, 23.5, 24, 24] inches

Materials

[MC] Rowan Summer Tweed [70% silk, 30% cotton; 118 yd/108 m per 50g skein]; color: 535 shark; 4 [4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7] skeins

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

notions required: stitch holder, stitch markers, 6 three-quarter inch (2cm) buttons

Gauge

14 sts/20 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

Morse code vest - 3 Morse code vest - 2

Slouch Hat

When I was a child I always wanted asymmetrical things. I remember my mother explaining to me that one braid and one ponytail was not what people do; she may have been right, but I made this hat slightly asymmetrical anyway.

Slouch Hat

Difficulty: Easy

Size: M[L] (shown in size L)

Finished measurements: 20 inches (50cm) [24 inches (61cm)] slightly stretched
slouchhat-yarn.jpg
Materials: 122 yards [112m] Bouclé yarn

Note: I used 2 skeins of Emu Florentine [51% Wool, 44% Acrylic, 5% Nylon]; 61 yards [56 m] per skein. The ribs may show much more if knit with a different yarn.

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

Gauge: 12 sts / 14 rows to 4 inches [10cm]

For complete pattern see: Slouch Hat Pattern

I just got my invite to Ravelry.

I have sent up the message to hook me up to all my patterns, which apparently are being knitted in a glorious fashion out there (see previous post). I look forward to the discussions, but dread accusations of obtuse instructions.

I am adding content now.

Please come and visit me there!

On Ravelry I am SSutherland.

Ahh my vanity . . .

I just had Jordi link to my blog from over at Above the gwb announcing the completion of my Russian princess in exile hat. It is so exciting to see someone has knit my pattern.

I read How Not to Write Novel: Confessions of a Midlist Author by David Armstrong. In it he talks of fantasizing about seeing someone, just anyone, reading one of his books in public, but never having it happen. I feel the same way about my knitting designs. I would so love to pass a stranger wearing a design of mine.

I occasionally Google my designs to see what others have done with them (this is much more feasible for me to do than say Norah Gaughan, who I have a big knitterly equivalent of a girl crush on, and I am sure we would be great friends if we ever met).

I come up with all sorts of things; for example Beth over at Knit knit knit knit (new url) was having trouble with my pattern Urban rustic gloves the February before last (here). I wonder what the etiquette is on this kind of thing, I suppose it is too late to offer assistance.

Amalas at Yellow wood made my Minimalist funnel neck as her first sweater, and look someone did it in Japanese, at 茶の間で編物.

It’s all very gratifying, but I suppose that if I continued and made it big, it would all become old hat in no time. If Pam Allen, Teva Durham, Norah Gaughan (sorry about the girl crush thing, I don’t really think I know you), Stefanie Japel, etc. (I count anyone who has published a knitting book in this category) are reading, please feel free to let me know.

(By the way, David, if you Google yourself and are reading, I am not writing a novel right now)

closeup1

I just can’t tell you how fun this project is.

I notice that so many bloggers I have been watching (e.g. Knit and tonic) seem to be destashing, and while it does seem like selling yarn is kind of spreading the love, a lot of what I have will not likely be wanted by anyone, and this project uses so much yarn and it is so pretty.

Okay, so I like garish colours and if I could wear red all the time without seeming odd (well, odder than I already do), I just might, except that I like other colours too. Look at this red:

CloseUp2

All it came from is this:

lyrascoat-yarn2.jpg

And that picture looks much better than the mess of yarn in my living room, from whence the knitting came.

I feel like an alchemist, that I have created a singularity in space-time and reversed the force of entropy and am creating pure order out of chaos. Ponder this:

Closeup3

You could do this with yarn from your grandmothers attic or the thrift store, any old thing. That’s why I can’t bear the thought of buying yarn for this project, however pretty it may be, and though you wouldn’t need to wash the mustiness out of it before you wore it.

Sleeves:

Your sweater should look something like this at this point:

Lyra’s Coat, knit to picking up sleeves

Take the measurement of your arm and add around 4 inches [10cm] ease to it (I am adding 4 inches [10cm] to my sleeve, when my arm over my sleeve is 12 inches [30cm], add a little more if you are knitting a larger sweater or less if you are knitting a smaller sweater).

Equation:

Measurement of arm = A

Ease = B

Gauge = C

Number of stitches to pick up for sleeves = D

(A + B) * C = D

With right side of piece facing you, pick up and knit the number of stitches you just worked out in the previous step along the arm rise, from right (so that your first row will be a wrong side row).

Lyra’s Coat - picked up for sleeves

Knit to approximately 2.5 inches [6cm] after the middle of the arm rise, turn and make a yarn over over the right needle (you will knit this yarn over together with the next stitch on the next row). Knit for approximately 5 inches [12cm], turn working yarn over as for last row, work to end of previous row, knit yo with next stitch, work 3 more stitches, turn with yarn over as for previous row.

Continue with short rows, working 3 stitches further each row and using short row yarn overs to close the holes until all the stitches you picked up are worked.

Work straight until sleeve is desired length, bind off.

My version:

A = 12 inches [30cm]

B = 4 inches [10cm]

C = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]

(12 inches [30cm] + 4 inches [10cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = D

16 inches [40cm] x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = 28 sts

Pick up and knit 28 sts.

K18, turn, yo, k8, turn, yo, k11, turn, yo . . .

Lyra’s Coat - sleeve with short rows worked

Work until all stitches are picked up, work until sleeves are desired length.

At this point my sweater looks like this:

Lyra’s Coat - Sleeve

I didn’t want to make you wait.

Knitting the body to the underarms:

We have knit our yokes and are now ready to knit the fronts and back separately to the underarms, when we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and work the rest of the sweater in one piece.

I am posting before I have this whole step finished this time because I don’t want to make you wait.

Lyra’s Sweater - Part 10

Divide for fronts and back:

Count your stitches, divide the number of stitches by 2, making sure the number for the front is even.

Divide the number of stitches for the front by 2 (if you increased evenly from the collar this shouldn’t be a problem).

If you prefer an equation:

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

Where A = the total number of stitches, C = the number of stitches for the back, and B = the number of front stitches.

Fronts:

Place the number of stitches for one of your fronts onto your needle and the rest of the stitches on holders. Work even until your piece measures the measurement you took of the distance from the shoulder to the line with the underarm. Repeat for other front.

Back:

Place the back stitches on your needle and work even as you did for the fronts. If you want to get fancy you can work your back slightly longer than the fronts to help it fit better.

My version:

Total number of stitches at the end of the yoke: 75.

75 / 2 = 37.5

Number of stitches for the back = 37

Number of stitches for the front = 38 or 19 for each side

Put 19 stitches at side onto a needle, work for 9 inches [23cm] straight.

Repeat for next side.

Put 37 stitches for back on needle and work 10 inches [25cm] straight.

I am so excited. I have had my knitting machine in pieces as it came out of the shipping box since last May. And now, here it is together in all its glory:

My knitting machine

I understand that it took a vice and a specialized hammer to get the part into the plate where I couldn’t get it together before, but now it is ready and all I need to do is learn how to use it. I have several ideas for projects I want to get to.

I have made a page where I have compiled the instructions for Lyra’s sweater coat. As I post the next steps, I will continue to add them to this page as well: Lyra’s coat.

Increase for shoulders:

Work to 1 st before first marker, pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, k1 (keep marker before this stitch), pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you increased into previously) and knit into it, (2 sts increased). You can increase any way you like as long as you increase 2 sts in a line each row at each shoulder marker.

Work to next marker and pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, slip marker, k1, pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you just increased into) and knit into it, (2 sts increased).

Your increase stitches should look like this:

Lyra’s Coat - yoke increase stitches

Work the previous row increasing for shoulders in a line until the line along the increases equals your measurement from neck to shoulder plus 1 inch [2.5cm], or a little longer if you want more of a dropped shoulder.

You can take this opportunity to take it off the needles and try it on and see if you like the way it is going. It’s really not too late to frog it if you don’t like the fit.

My version:

I increased as described, for 11 rows, I started with 31 sts: 31 + 44 = 75 sts, distance from base of collar is 5.5 inches [14cm].

Lyra’s coat - picture of yoke

Pick up stitches around the collar:

If you chose collar option 2, fold over collar and tack the two long edges together.

Pick up and knit stitches from the long edge of the collar, for option 1 pick up along cast off edge, add a few stitches evenly spaced along the collar for the body. You don’t need overlap for buttons as the closures are with loops and toggles.

Count your stitches, divide your number of stitches by two, round your numbers to make sure that the number for the front is divisible by 2.

Divide your number for the front by 2, work this many stitches, place marker, work stitches for back, place marker, work to end.

If you prefer an equation:

  • A = number of stitches picked up from collar
  • B = number of stitches for each front
  • C = number of stitches for back

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

lyrassweater-pickedupsts.jpg

My example:

Pick up and knit 31 sts (from 25 sts on collar). Turn. Work 8 sts, place marker, work 15 sts, place marker, work 8 sts (31 sts).

Note: I have had to frog my collar and start again. I overestimated the amount of stretch in my swatch. If you like your collar as done with the previous instruction, please continue with it. I have just changed the finished measurements of the collar to A + 1 inch [2.5cm] instead of A – 1 inch [2.5cm]. Otherwise, please see the revised instructions.

We are now ready to work out and knit the collar. You will need the following information:

  • Neck measurement (in inches or cm) = A
  • Number of stitches per inch (or cm) = B
  • Desired height of collar (in inches or cm) = C

Collar option 1:

Note: This option is cast on and worked from side to side making a stand up collar.

Equation: (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x B = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the equation above and work until the collar is the desired length bind off.

Collar option 2:

Note: This option is worked from side to side then folded double lengthwise. This appears to be the way the original sweater was made, but I prefer the previous option for my sweater and my swatch appears to be a little thicker and stiffer than the original, so this option wouldn’t work as well for me.

Equation: (C x B x 2) = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the previous equation, work until piece measures (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]), bind off.

lyrassweater-collar.jpg

My collar (option 1):

  • Neck measurement = A = 13 inches [33cm]
  • Number of stitches per inch = B = 7 sts /4 inches = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]
  • Desired height of collar = C = 2.5 inches [6.5cm]

(A + 1 inch[2.5cm]) x B = (13 inches [33cm] + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = stitches

I need to cast on 25 stitches, work until piece measures 2.5 inches [6.5cm], and bind off.

I feel I should give you a brief overview of what I plan to do next. Here is a short list:

  • Next we will work out and knit the collar for the coat.
  • After the collar, we will pick up and knit stitches for the body of the sweater.
  • We will then knit down in one piece to the divide for the shoulders.
  • Next we will knit the two fronts and back separately to the base of the armholes at which point, we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and continue knitting in one piece.
  • Either at this point or at the end, we will pick up and knit stitches for the sleeves and work them straight to desired length.
  • We will continue knitting the body straight to the desired length.
  • We will then attach appropriate closures and show our lovely creations to the world (I am not including button holes in the pattern as the original didn’t have any, if you want them, I suggest placing YO button holes at your discretion).

armconstrcutionexample.jpgNote: because we are doing the designing this way, I have decided to go with a dropped shoulder and a square sleeve join like this sweater I knit from Vintage Knits: 30 Exquisite Vintage-Inspired Patterns for Cardigans, Twin Sets, Crewnecks and More, by Sarah Dallas, as I think this will be easier for everyone to make fit. It also looks like the original was shaped quite like this.

If anyone has questions or suggestions on how to proceed please let me know.

I made this cushion last weekend:

crochetpillow.jpg

The motifs are from a Norah Gaughan Hemp Flower Necklace from Interweave Crochet, Summer 2005, and the fabric is corduroy for a skirt that never materialized.

I had this rug yarn from my granny, and I thought maybe I could make an area rug out of it with motifs, but there was not enough and it seemed like a tripping hazard, so it sat and sat, and then I had the idea, so now I have this nice new floor cushion.

crochetpillow2.jpg

I am so pleased with myself – I used only materials I already had. This may just mean my stash has reached critical mass.

The next thing we need to do to recreate Lyra’s sweater is get the measurements for the person the sweater is for.

Here is a list of measurements that you will need to have measurements of (all measurements are over clothes like those you would be wearing under the coat):

  • bust
  • arm circumference
  • neck circumference
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder (from where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicles)
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder (where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicle)
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be (an inch or two under the armpit)
  • distance from shoulder to knee or preferred length

Here are my measurements in case you need an example or happen to be a women’s medium, in which case you can knit the same pattern as me, though I think that takes away some of the fun:

  • bust – 38 inches [97cm]
  • arm circumference – 12 inches [30cm]
  • neck circumference – 13 inches [33cm]
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder – 14 inches [36cm]
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder – 5 inches [13cm]
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be – 9 inches [23cm]
  • distance from shoulder to knee – 42 inches [107cm]

If you are making this coat for a person whose belly or hips are much wider than her bust, you will need her measurement at her widest part as well, otherwise for most children or people without much difference in measurement you can knit straight. I have about a 4 inch [10cm] difference between my bust and my hips, and I plan to switch to larger needles after I get past my waist.

I have achieved enough yarn to finish the coat (surely this is enough):

lyrascoat-yarn.jpg

I have worked up a swatch:

lyrascoat-swatch.jpg

And here is my gauge: 7 sts / 12 rows to 4 inches / 10cm.

I knit this with between 4 and 7 strands held together at any time on US size 15 / 10mm needles.

lyrascoat-gauge1.jpg

lyrascoat-gauge2.jpg

I like the result. The colours are slightly, but only slightly, less lurid than the pictures.

Please don’t feel you need to match my gauge as I plan to make the instructions adjustable for size and gauge.

A few notes on what I found working the swatch:

  • The colours work better when the added colour is either lighter or darker than the main colour, having both darker and lighter strands together made it look odd.
  • Any time you want to add another colour or strand you just hold it with your group. It’s not going to unravel as the other threads will hold it.
  • When you need a thread to go through to the back, you can poke it through with your finger.

It’s a go!

I have the yarn, and I will be doing Lyra’s coat!

I will post the first steps tonight with pictures of a gauge swatch etc.

I finally finished my last Christmas present today. Every year I say that this year I will not create all the tension over the holidays that knitting gifts seems to require, and here I am still working on a Christmas present on January 13.

img_0194formounting.jpg

I got up at 6:30, so I could finally have it ready for when he woke up. It is a beautiful big sweater for my beautiful big boyfriend. Here is a small hint of the wonder of what it was going to be.

But when he tried it on, it was all wrong. It has weird puffed sleeves and is so bizarrely wide at the shoulders. This has never happened to me before (the problem with sizing, not the late Christmas present situation). I am so frustrated.

Just in case you thought that everyone with a knitting blog was a complete diva who never made mistakes.

I was talking with some of the women I work with about not knitting Lyra’s coat because I don’t have enough yarn, and she says she may have some that might work to add to my pile.

She may bring it Monday.

I was thinking that then, instead of me just posting the pattern after I get it done, I could post my design process with variables and equations where you could put your measurements and gauge, and we could all design the sweater together. This would make things go faster for you, make me go faster to keep up, and, I think, be more interesting for everyone.

Would anyone be interested? I have already started my first post with requirements for measurements, so I hope so.

Always consider that a sweater, or any other knitted item, will need to be washed.

Any design that relies too much on knitting’s propensity to curl in on itself for effect will be almost completely flat after you wash it and never look like like that again.

Now that you think you have enough yarn and know your gauge, and I hope you did a good size swatch to judge texture and colour as well as gauge. We need to decide how you want to construct the coat. I am sure the original was constructed quite simply: worked in garter stitch in one piece to the arm holes then the sleeves worked separately and sewn on at the end. This is easy enough to do, and if you decide to do it this way, I would suggest a good technical design book, such as the Vogue knitting: the ultimate knitting book, I love this book, and I really wish I had my own, but instead I monopolize the library’s copy.

If you go this way, then my advice is likely of little use to you. Other writers have made it all quite clear in other places. I however would like to suggest a slightly different way . . .

Please bear with me here, what I would suggest is constructing the coat in one piece from the top. This has several things to recommend it: most importantly you won’t run out of yarn before you finish the second half of the last sleeve. Perhaps it is just my bias, and there are ways to measure how much yarn you need: e.g. work a square of a set size, such as one foot square, weigh it on a good scale and divide it to get the weight per square inch and multiply it by the number of square inches you have worked out your sweater will be, but I never do this, and working from the top means you can just continue until you are happy with it or you run out of yarn.

I would cast on for the little mandarin collar, then cast off and pick up the number of stitches to start the yoke, you could have a random increase of stitches and have a round yoke, make raglan shaping or work out a different shape and increase for the sleeve it in a line where the sleeve seam would be. I haven’t worked out exactly how this last option would work, but I think it could and it would minimize the difference between the shape of your sweater and the original.

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Amber from Nakedly Knitting has pointed out a good yarn to use for this coat (here), Noro’s silk garden chunky, color 02. This is a beautiful yarn, and I am sure that the jacket she makes out of it will be georgeous, but whether it is mimicking the coat in the Golden Compass depends on what is the most important thing about the design to you.

If the general colour and shape are most important then this is a good substitute, and you can find garter stitch coat from a book or magazine and make a very good facsimile. But to me the most important thing about this jacket is the texture and specific colours. I love the way the colours slightly clash: the brown and the purple don’t really go with the red (see here), but they come together to make it sing. Noro yarns are beautiful, but they are too harmonious to make this coat the way I envision it. The hint of green in it tones down the red (here); purple makes the red brighter.

I also really like the effect of the areas worked in slightly different thicknesses. It gives the jacket brilliant texture and makes it unusual. I don’t want to make this coat, because I don’t think I can replicate the parts that make it most exciting to me.

On the other hand, the construction is completely unimportant to me. If I were making the coat, I would completely change the construction for various reasons, which I will expound on later.

One of the most exciting things about living in Saskatchewan, and it took me a while to realize how great it is, is the small yarn producers.

I guess it makes sense because Saskatchewan is so agricultural.

The first I discovered was Princess Farms, they have great yarn. They spin and dye it themselves, and they do mail order. I bought the hand dyed sock yarn for my design Kaleidoscope here. I especially like their lace weight, hand dyed and hand spun yarns.

Here is a picture of yarn from my stash I have bought from them:

Princess Farms Yarn

I have also recently bought some Icelandic wool from TLC Icelandics (which strictly speaking is from Alberta), but it is gorgeous and soft. Much more so than the lopi I have bought produced in Iceland. Apparently the bitter bitter cold brings out really great fibre, who could have anticipated that?

Here is a picture of the Icelandic yarn:

TLC Icelandics

It is difficult to photograph this yarn without making it look like spun straw, but I can’t tell you how great it feels and it knits up beautifully.

If you want a source, and I understand they do mail order, I suggest the Wool Emporium. There are so many more.

I have been asked if I could give any advice on recreating Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass, and I thought that this might be of interest to more people than just the two of us.

I think there are several big issues with recreating this coat:

  • It is impossible to get a really good close look at it. The pictures online are too small and the film itself moves around too much, and no one wants to wait for the DVD so it could be paused.
  • The yarn/other materials that went into making it will be difficult to come by, and one can’t really be sure what they were. I have read (here) that the coat wasn’t even made out if yarn, but fabric strips, twine etc. This is going to be very difficult to duplicate because costume makers are just better equipped. For all my moaning, I am an amateur in the field of having materials to hand, and I certainly don’t have enough.
  • I am not sure how much yarn this will take, but I know it will be a lot. If anyone actually wants to do this with yarn, I think it will take at least 2-4lbs (1.5-2kg) to make it.

If you still feel the coat is worth pursuing and you think you have enough yarn, you should work out your gauge. I would say that you need super bulky or comparable different yarns held together, and the gauge should be around 7-8 sts to 4inches/10cm.

I will write about potential next steps in the next few days.

If you have any questions at any time, please let me know!

Oh the shame . . .

Some of my stash

I recently took out all of my stash to judge if I had enough yarn for a particular project (Lyra’s garter stitch coat from the Golden Compass, see here to see how that worked out). It is now covering my entire dining room table, all the chairs and part of the floor.

How did this happen to me? I can’t believe how much yarn I have, when did I get it all? Was I there? Did I agree to this? Will my renter’s insurance cover thousands of dollars in knitting supplies?

Lyra’s Cap

Lyra’s Cap

I was so smitten by the costumes in the Golden Compass, and for this cap at least, one wonders: how often can something so desirable be achieved so easily? I whipped this up in an evening and thought I would share.

If you are lucky you will even have some yarn in your stash that will work.

Difficulty
Easy

Size
Child [Adult] (shown in adult size)

Finished measurements
9 inches (23cm) [10 inches (25cm)] from top to bottom
8 inches (20cm) [9 inches (23cm)] from front to back

Materials
Rowan Ribbon Twist [70% wool, 25% acrylic, 5% polyamide; 60yd/66m per 100g skein]; color: #121 Rustic; 1 skein
1 set US #17/12mm straight needles
1 US#L/11/8mm crochet hook

Gauge
7.5sts/10 rows = 4 inches / 10cm in stockinette st

Lyra’s cap (back view)

Please see the full pattern here: Lyra’s cap

I have been asked if I will make a pattern for Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass (see here), and as promised I have checked my stash, but I just don’t think I can do it. I have pulled out all my yarn in red, pink, burgundy, purple, brown etc. that is thicker than fingering weight and this is all I came up with:

Reddish yarn from my stash

I just don’t think it is enough for that coat. Also, I think a large part of the appeal of that coat comes from the sections of novelty yarns, especially the eyelash yarns (see here), and I have never really liked eyelash yarns, so I don’t have any — though now I think that I just don’t know how to use them to the best effect.

However, if anyone feels that I would be any help in working out a pattern I would be happy to do what I can (later I changed my mind, please see later posts).
I do plan on posting a pattern for Lyra’s cap here later this weekend though, so please check back (see here).

Over the holidays I went to the beautiful and mild west coast, and perhaps most importantly went to two of my favourite yarn shops (in this case Birkeland Bros. and Urban Yarns) and stocked up.

Here is a preview of coming projects I am now fully prepared for:

New stash items

I have created PDFs of my free patterns to be included on my blog.

I have created a page for them and will be adding more later.  Please see them here: http://parallaxknitting.com/about/.

My mother bought this yarn on sale about twenty years ago from a department store that went out of business years ago. It’s beautiful yarn, but I always have a hard time knowing what to do with novelty yarn – but then apparently so does my mother. I knew she always wanted something out of it, and there was not enough for anything larger, so here is a lacey scarf to show it off.

This was intended to be a Christmas present, but it is missing with my luggage, so for now this is all the evidence I have of its existence. I may add more pictures of the scarf being modeled if and when we get it back. I hope you all have been and will continue to enjoy the midwinter festival of your choice and wish you all a happy new year.

Difficulty: intermediate

Size: One size

Finished measurements: 7 inches wide and 60 inches long before blocking

Materials:
Jaeger mohair cotton novelty blend [46% mohair, 44% cotton, 10% nylon; unidentified length per skein]; unidentified color; 4 skeins
1 set US #10.75 /7mm straight needles
Tapestry needle

Note: this yarn is no longer available and it doesn’t have much information on the label. Please see the attached pitures for an idea of the yarn I used.
I suggest you use whatever yarn you fancy in your stash and knit until you like the length or until you run out of yarn.

Guage: 10 sts/13 rows = 4″ in background lace stitch

Pattern stitches:
Background trellis lace: (multiple of 4 plus 2)
Row 1: k1, *ssk, yo 2 times, k2tog*, repeat between * until 1 st from end, k1.
Row 2: p1, *p2, k1, p1*, repeat between * until 1 st from end p1.

Leaf: (worked over 2 background trellis lace pattern repeats)
Row 1: ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, pick up and knit yarn between two stitches from previous row, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog.
Row 2 and all even rows: work as established.
Row 3: ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog.
Row 5: ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog.
Row 7 and 9: k.
Row 9: yo, k2tog, k5, ssk, yo.
Row 11: k1, yo, k2tog, k3, ssk, yo, k1.
Row 13: k1, yo twice, k2tog, k1, ssk, yo twice, k1.
Row 15: ssk, yo twice, pick up yarn from previous row and knit it, slip 2 stitches as if to knit, k1, k2 pass two slipped stitches over, pick up yarn from previous row and knit it, yo twice, k2tog.
Row 17: ssk, yo twice, k2tog, k3tog, yo twice, k2tog.

Pattern:
CO22.
Work in background lace pattern with leaves randomly placed. I chose to have more leaves at one end.

Finishing:
Weave in ends, block if necessary.

I went to see The Golden Compass this weekend. It has some of the best knitwear I have seen in a movie for a long time. I am so smitten with the costumes Lyra wore. If for no other reason, I recommend that movie to anyone who likes to knit. It was also a good film, but the knitting was what entranced me.

My particular favourites included a red garter stitch sweater coat near the middle, a very cute knitted hat in the shape of a hood, and a pair of mittens worked in a loop stitch.

I was thinking that a hood in that shape attached to a scarf would be wonderful, and the mittens look so warm, of course you couldn’t do anything while you were wearing them, which makes the string holding them through the sleeves handy. I suppose children who are running for their lives don’t need to worry about hurting themselves on playground equipment.

You can see some pictures here.

The other movies that immediately come to mind as having really great knitting are Le Divorce, worn by Kate Hudson’s and Naomi Watts’ characters, and all the Harry Potter movies, mainly worn by Mrs. Weasley, though they do strictly speaking include crochet if I remember correctly.

I bought a second hand knitting machine a few months ago, so I could work more fine garments faster. I thought that because I felt confident hand knitting it would be easy.

It turns out it is broken. This part is supposed to be welded to the plate. It is possible I may be able to get a replacement part.

I am not sure what I was thinking. The whole reason I stopped weaving was because I don’t like sitting in an upright chair or sitting on a bench while making something.

I love hand knitting; it has to be one of my favourite things to do, but I confess the siren call of endless swaths of stocking stitch in no time was too strong. I have at least two projects sitting in my knitting basket because I have hit an endless section of right side knit and wrong side purl.

If I ever manage to get the knitting machine going, I will celebrate by making myself a wonderful and cozy kimono in stocking stitch to lounge around in. it should be a good first project as they can be entirely made from rectangles. Until then I may get a few rows done on this shawl: Leaves and Waves by Pat Coyle from Knitty, fall 2004. it’s beautiful. My version is blue on brown, but I despair of ever getting it done because I am in an interminable stocking stitch section.

I recently had a question about how I designed the short row shaping on my Urban Rustic Gloves. Here is the method I followed:

  1. Measure your hand, this includes the length of your hand from the base of your fingers to wrist, the length of all your fingers, the circumference of your hand at the palm, at the base of your thumb, at your wrist and all your fingers. I suggest you trace around your hand and write all the measurements in.
  2. Work out the number of rows you will need to go around the palm of your hand and mark the number on graph paper with each square representing one stitch. You may need to tape two or more pieces together. You will still need several rows of graph paper on each side of the palm.
  3. Work out how many stitches you will need to go around your palm at the base of your thumb and divide this number by two; add those rows to the two sides of your graph. This is the number of rows you will need to add using short rows for your thumb gusset.
  4. Work out the number of rows you will need to go around your wrist, subtract this number from the number of rows you needed to go around your palm. Round this number to make it even. This number divided by two is the number of short rows you will need between the base of your fingers and your wrist.
  5. Start shading in sets of two rows on your graph paper, starting with odd numbered rows, to place your short rows, until you have the right number of short rows. I staggered the length of these rows to make the shaping gradual; I suggest three lengths of rows alternately spaced to get even shaping.
  6. For the thumb gusset, divide the number of stitches by the number of rows, this will give you the number of stitches difference you need between each short row.
  7. To shape the ends of the fingers use one set of short rows each second row, ending approximately two stitches from the end. The first and last rows of the finger must not be short rows.

Note: Fudge the math anywhere you need to to make the pattern work. Knitting is stretchy and it pulls in a bit too. It took me a lot of attempts before I got it right.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to try to help.

Winter Knitty is up, complete with my Gloves Can Be Deceiving.

I loved knitting these gloves and I hope you do too. I would love to see pictures.

Russian Princess in Exile

Download the pattern here

The Russian émigrés were so influential after they fled the revolution. They brought different perspectives and new fashions west and east and helped people learn to think in a new way. They also knew a thing or two about how to stay warm. This hat would not be for those who brought their fortune with them – leave the fox and mink for them; this is for those who made it out with their lives and had to make a life how they could that meant wearing wool, but wearing it like a princess, which is what I suggest you should do too.

DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

SIZE: M[L] (shown in size L)

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS:
Around head: 20[24] inches
Crown to brim: 8[10] inches

MATERIALS:
Rowan Big Wool [100% wool; 87yd/80m per 100g skein]; color: Best Brown; 1[2] skeins
1 set US #17/12mm straight needles
Tapestry needle

GAUGE:
7.5 sts/10 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

ABBREVIATIONS:
C8B: put next 4 sts on cable needle and put at back of work, K4, then K4 from cable needle
C8F: put next 4 sts on cable needle and put at front of work, K4, then K4 from cable needle

PATTERN
All sizes:
CO50[62], turn.
Row 1: K1, *C8B, K4*, repeat between * 3[4]times, K1.
Row 2 and all wrong side rows: P.
Row 3-5: K.
Row 7: K5, *C8F, K4*, repeat between * 3[4]times, K1.

Size M only:
Row 9 (dec row): K1, * put 4 sts on cable needle and hold to back as if to C8B, k2tog 2 times, k2tog 2 times from cable needle, K4*, repeat between * 3 times, K1 (34 sts).
Rows 11-13: work even.
Row 15 (dec row): K1, *K2, put 4sts on cable needle and put to front of work as if to C8F, k2tog, k2tog 2 times from cable needle*, repeat between * 3 times, K1 (22 sts).
Row 16 (dec row): P3 together 7 times, P1 (8 sts).

Size L only:
Repeat Rows 1-5.
Row 15 (dec row): K1, *K4, put 4 sts on cable needle and hold to front as if to C8F, k2tog 2 times, k2tog 2 times from cable needle*, repeat between * 4 times, K1 (42 sts).
Rows 17-19: work even.
Row 21 (dec row): K1, *put 4sts on cable needle and put to back of work as if to C8B, k2tog, k2tog 2 times from cable needle, K2*, repeat between * 4 times, K1 (27 sts).
Row 22 (dec row): P3 together 9 times (9 sts).

FINISHING:
Draw end of yarn through remaining sts, draw tight to close the crown.
Using tapestry needle sew the seam from the brim to the crown with mattress stitch; weave in loose ends.
Photo credit: Jonathan Cross

It has occurred to me that I have so many more ideas for knitting projects than I will ever be able to complete that perhaps I should share them and others can carry them out if they feel so inclined.

One of the most pressing design challenges I have at the moment is how to make a throw blanket using every weird scrap of yarn I possess, but making it look good and be warm. I both want a throw and space for more yarn in my back closet. This may be a lost cause, but imagine how proud of myself I would be! I am contemplating the Catherine’s wheel crochet stitch from Teva Durham’s, Loop-d-Loop Crochet, if I made it on a big enough hook could it be made of different weights of yarn and still be right?

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