Sunday, November 17, 2013

The good stuff

The shelves at Purl Sho, New York City

The shelves of The Yarn Company in New York City

I've done a fair bit of travelling over the last couple of years and one of the things that I love to do is to find a LYS and to see what they have to offer. On-line shopping is fine but nothing compares to being able to hold the yarn in your own hands and see the colour yourself!

The discovery of a new LYS is somewhat of a gambit. Sometimes you find a small selection of novelty and cotton dish cloth yarns with some plastic needles on a round rack. Sometimes you find a treasure trove of exclusive colourways or yarns you've only ever seen on-line or in magazines. Usually it is somewhere in between.

The joy of a good yarn store is to broaden your horizons and to inspire you with different colours or textures. A good yarn store doesn't have to be a big place. After all, you can fit a lot of yarn into a small space if you have to! My idea of a good yarn store is one with a large selection of a variety of yarns and in a variety of colours. You can so often tell the colour preferences of the yarn shop owner by what is displayed about the store. A good store, in my humble opinion, offers a broad palette of colour options. 

While in New York City last week I visited 3 of the best yarn stores I have ever seen!

I had only planned to visit one store while in New York and I had  chose Purl Soho, top picture above. It was a bright and colourful store. Now that is an impressive colour palette!  I loved the atmosphere and the way the yarn was displayed. It was like jumping into a impressionistic picture of colour. You had to step back to see the big picture but the close-up view was a happy blur. The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful. I bought some gorgeous worsted weight wool made by the Swans Island Yarn Company. A Maine company with a commitment to high quality. I also bought some yarn to make the Simple Pleasures Hat. This is a hat , presumably, designed by someone who works at Purl Soho. I thought that was a good keepsake of the trip. I loved that they offered to wind all of the wool that I bought for me immediately.

I hadn't expected to have the time to find any more stores but my travels brought us near enough to the iconic The Yarn Company, that it would have been foolish to have walked on by without a quick peek inside. This store is now run by a brother-sister team and this famous yarn shop is full of exclusive colourways and unique yarn. One of the owners asked if I wanted a tour and then proceeded to show me, shelf by shelf, what her store had that others did not. What I saw was a commitment to independent dyers, designers and specialty yarn. The selection  of "the good stuff" was almost overwhelming. The owners personally knew and had collaborated with many big name knitwear designers and had the yarn selection to support that. I tried to buy exclusives only but walked away with a small bag of treasures all the same.

My last store visited was a complete fluke but a very happy one! I popped out of a restaurant and was waiting for the rest of my party to come out of a small shop next door when my husband spotted a sign that said Annie & Co Knitting and needlepoint. I skipped down the street and was mesmerized by the impressive colour selection of Madelinetosh yarns. This was a very cozy and welcoming store. You got the impression that the staff would sit you right down and chat with you, if given the option.  I didn't walk away from that store empty handed either.

Yarn is such a tactile pleasure and one that so many people do not fully appreciate until you have the choice between a soft scarf and one made of scratchy wool at your neck.

In one of the stores one of my friends, who doesn't knit, whispered quietly to my husband "Did you know that yarn was so expensive?"

My husband replied wryly "Did you expect her to like the cheap stuff?"

The friend, holding a tiny skein of 100% cashmere in his hand with his eyebrows to the sky at the price said "No wonder she says nothing at all about your comic book collection. She's in no position to complain."

My husband smiled slyly and said "Exactly. You'd better find a seat, she could be a while."

It's a process, knitter!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

FO and WIPs- The Good Stuff

I have been making good progress on my projects of late. I have a great stack of FO to show off! You can see that I have been focusing on smaller items lately.

Top row: Frukttradgard, Cabled Canuk, Squall Hat
Middle row: Cascade baby, Dream in Lime, Tangerine Sunnyside
Bottom row: Emperor's New Socks, Knotty Baby Hat, DK socks
Most of these items are gifts for specific people. Some are future gifts for special people. Babies are definitely special people!

These were for Brody. His mother likes monkeys!
Ziyah was also gifted with an extra special sweater.

Georgia's Dream in Lime is a bit of a conundrum. Georgia picked the yarn and the Boathouse Mini pattern.  Both are lovely but only the colour suited Georgia. As you can see below the combination of a disproportionally wide sweater, a boatneck neckline and very stretchy fabric combine to make an unwearable sweater.

I need to fix this but I am not just sure how. I have a couple of ideas... Plan A: I am contemplating ripping out or cutting off the neckline and knitting a more fitted yoke upwards from there. Short rows will be involved and I will be completely winging it. The thought of cutting the sweater is giving me the shakes.

Plan B involves leaving the neckline intact and picking up stitches on the inside of the collar and making rectangular inserts that will come up over her shoulders and help the sweater stay in place. This is the much easier plan; however I am concerned that the stretchy fabric will still fall off her shoulders.

Plan C- and I REALLY don't like this plan- is to rip it all and start over. Sigh.  The yarn is too nice to waste.

Anyone have any suggestions?

I have one WIP to show you.

I told you about the mystery lace shawl project with beads, right? It is going fairly well but I am WAY behind schedule. (Had I really expected to be able to stay on track with this one?) I am only mid way through Clue #2 with the last clue, #4, coming out on Tuesday.  Here is my progress so far:

I like it so far.
I finished Clue #1 twice. I frogged my first attempt because I was using lace weight yarn and was making way too many mistakes due to the fine gauge. (Note to self: stop buying lace weight yarn- I do not like knitting with this!) So I restarted with some fingering weight, Tanis Fiber Arts, Blue Label in the Dove colourway,  from my stash.  The yarn is gray with hints of pink, purple and blue. It is hard to tell in these pictures but the beads are both silver and a muted purple- so I think it works well all together.

I like the beads in the yarn. They add a very subtle sparkle that I think is pretty.  I'm still on the fence on whether I am enjoying the making lace. Beading is a lot more simple than I had expected. I am enjoying the results but this seems like very fussy work.

I'll continue and see what the final project looks like.  It's a process, Knitter.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The season is changing and so is my mind

The season is starting to change and that, for me, means that snow and cold weather is coming.  Probably sooner rather than later.  Autumn is my favourite time of year and colder weather gives me lots of excuses (as if I needed any) to wear my warm and woolies.

I have so many projects on my mind right now. I am days away from starting a mystery lace shawl KAL. I'm excited about it BUT it is easy to mentally put aside a project where you don't know the end result. I am going to try to keep up with the clues but knitting 800 yds of lace in a month may be a little much for me. I just need to get started before I get completely distracted with other things.

I had also promised to knit Finn a sweater. His project is technically first in the queue. We finally have the right yarn and have found the picture of the skull he wants- the skull from The Punisher. The real problem is that if I make this Scott will want one too.

Now I just need to make a chart for this!

So what else is on my mind and in my queue:
  1. Cabled Canuck by Tanis Lavallee.  I belong to Tanis' Year in Colour yarn club. I just received my September yarn and it is gorgeous! She provides yarn, in this case her Orange Label Cashmere/Silk Worsted (yummy!) and the pattern. The pattern she sent is also a lovely cabled hat but I like this one better. This hat is going to look absolutely gorgeous in the Mosaic colourway.

Photo Courtesy of Tanis Lavallee of
Tanis Fiber Arts

2. The Lonely Tree Shawl by Silia Bo Bilivia. I really like this worsted weight shawl. I imagine it wrapped around my neck in a bold, yet subdued colour that accents my grey winter coat. It also could be one of those shawls that works well wrapped around or on top of your seasonal coat.

Photo Courtesy of Silivia Bo Bilivia
3. Love Potion by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne. This woman designs fabulous cardigans. (She also designed my Early Evening Cardigan, known to the rest of the world as the Miss Marple Cardigan.) This looks like the kind of cardigan you could live in. Warm and snugly yet stylish and chic. I like the detail of the icord for contrast. (That being said right now when I am not in the throws of knitting 2 miles of attached icord.)

Photo courtesy of Nadia Cretin- Lechenne.
4. Trellis by Lili Comme Tout. If I were inclined to knit a fingering weight cardigan right now, which I might be, this is the one I would make. I may have already ordered a sweater's worth of Hazel Knits, Entice yarn in their new Halloween colourway BooKnits (a Gothic dark purple); but that may just be a unseemly rumour that is being spread by my husband. I love the lace detail on the front. I love the simplicity of the design. A really dark purple seems to be my colour focus this fall. It is a good neutral for me and not too far away from my favourite blacks and greys. I'm already imagining knitting this and have decided that I will knit this as a faux cardigan- it won't really open although I will add the buttons. I think that I would wear this piece closed so as to better show off the lace detail.

Photo courtesy of Lili Comme Tout.
(BTW: I love her play on words.)
Just one more and because mittens are never too far from my mind...

5. Warm Hearted Mittens by Rose Hiver. I am fascinated by stranded colour work right now. I found that I really enjoyed my first pair and I am anxious to do more. As above I may have bought a shit load of fingering and DK weight yarns to make mittens this winter. Those who can see my stash on Ravelry- not my husband!- can see that I am becoming a bit of a hoarder for this type of yarn. I definitely see another pair of colour work mittens in my future; maybe these ones. LOVE them!

Photo courtesy of Rose Hiver.
Pattern can be found in newest issue of Knitty, Fall 2013, for FREE!

So what are you knitting these days?

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's the little things

I have been listening to knitting podcasts lately. I don't have many friends that knit and I enjoy listening to other people chat about their projects and what's in their queue on Ravelry. I am currently listening to: The Doubleknit Podcast, Stash and Burn, and Never Not Knitting.

Here's my problem with listening to these podcasts: stifling my knitter's envy when they discuss their finished objects (FO). Especially while listening to the Doubleknit twins, Jessica and Erin. OMG they are both so prolific!  This is not an actual transcript but this is what I hear when they talk about what they have finished.

Erin: So what have you finished since we last podcast?
Jessica: Well...not much. I've been in a bit of a funk lately. So I knit a charity hat, a pair of socks, some fingerless mitts for a friend, and finished a shawl that I've had on the needles for a long time. Oh, yeah, I finished that blanket I was working on. Oh wait a minute...and that sweater. And started a new one... But that's nothing to your list. (they both laugh) What have you finished?
Erin: Well, I've had a good month. I finished 2 pairs of socks, 7 dishcloths for Christmas gifts,  2 charity hats,  a swap gift, a test knit that I can't talk about, a sweater for my daughter and a sweater for me. Oh, and I started and finished a blanket! And a Rebecca Danger monster for a kid's birthday gift.

Please tell me that I am not alone in saying "Holy Shit!" That is a lot of knitting! Add me into that imaginary conversation and we would say:

Erin & Jessica: So, Jen, what have you finish in the last 2 weeks?
Jen: A hat... for a tiny baby.

I know that it is not fair to compare between knitters. Some are fast, some are slow. Some have an isolated time to knit (me) and others have all the time in the world. It took me a while but I have finally clued into the secret to having a longer list of FOs to brag about in a month... work on little things in large gauge. And knit whenever you can, even if it is for just a few stitches at a time.

A dishcloth doesn't need to be made on 2.5mm needles. Let's crank that up to 4mm needles and get this party started! Are you considering making a fingering weight long sleeved tunic? No, thank you. I'll make a DK weight scarf instead, thanks.

I am adding a few items to the gift basket. Albeit very, very slowly.

Here's the actual FO & WIP list for the last month or so. Not so bad.
Clockwise from left: Stripy Vanilla socks, Squall Hat (purple),
Frukttradgard beret, 2 dishcloths,
rainbow Knotty Baby Hat.

So what's next for me: In October I am planning on doing a mystery KAL for a lace shawl that will have over 1000 beads. WOW! That just screams speed knitting doesn't it? Oh, have I mentioned that not only have I never tried lace but I've never beaded before either.  I'm jumping into the deep end with this one.

I'm not sure October is going to be the month that allows me to join the ranks of the elite knitting circle just quite yet.

But it's a process, Knitter.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So what'cha been doing? Me, I've been knitting!

I know that I have been away for a while but I have certainly been busy knitting. I have a stack of FOs to prove it. Some of these things I can talk about and others are gifts for pending babies of friends. For now I leave you with this.
A stack of FO for 2Q 2013!

There is something so very satisfying about knitting for babies. The idea of a new little person wrapped in a handmade knit made of super soft wool makes me want to smile. I also love that these projects finish up so quickly. They make me feel like quite the speedy knitter.

This is another item that was not quite ready to be included in the photo above. I washed it and blocked it this morning. As you can see Howard was in a helpful mood.
Howard is "helping" me block a new project.
I also may have acquired some new wool. This is some of it below.  I was thrilled to get some rogue skeins from the Hazel Knit annual sale.

Newly acquired stash on bottom from left to right:
 Madeline Tosh DK in depth,
and 5 skeins of Hazel Knits in an assortment of
artisan sock, entice, divine, and DK Lively.
And the cake on top is Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label, in Papaya,
a club colour for July.
I do not have a plan, yet, for 3/5th of the Hazel Knits wool but I am thinking of a "The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief" by Orange Flower with the DK Lively above, in Cherry Fizz. Like this, except red:
Picture courtesy of: sketchbook on Ravelry.
The Madeline Tosh DK is a for a sweater for Finn. This is the third batch of wool that I have ordered for his Royal Highness and have finally got it right- to both of our satisfaction. The first time I had the wrong colour. The second time I had the right colour and swatched for my project and found that it was the complete wrong gauge. Crap!  Third time is the charm! My fingers are crossed.

Until this recent bout of yarn purchasing I had been doing very well on working primarily from the stash. But my second quarter stats are not all that bad.

2Q 2013 Stats

Stash: 66,935 yd
Traded/sold/given away (to date): 19,096 yd
FO: 4
WIP: 6

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Left Hand knowing what the Right Hand is doing

It started with a knitter wanting to make a nice pair of mittens for her sister for her birthday.

But then it became a story. (A Tale of Two Mittens?) There was drama and tears.

Now it is a war.

I post a picture of completed LH Mitten in my backyard.  She immediately counters with RH mitten at Mossiac Stadium. Okay. Point RH.


 So that's how it's going to be. Alright. Game on.

She posts pictures of RH mitten at California Adventure Park in Anaheim. I post pictures of LH mitten in her house doing naughty things.  She gets points for travel and I get points for creativity. And for touching her stuff.  Draw.


Both mittens called a draw and went for lunch. They were hungry.
It was a brief and peaceful détente. And then that silly RH mitten snuck into my van and left me a present... and a rude note. (See here for explanation.)

Knock, Knock Mother Fucker, Indeed.

She gets extra points for sneakiness AND a hilarious literary reference. In my book that always gets bonus points.

Hmmm, how is a LH to respond? Any suggestions?

How about this?
If for no other reason than I was the only
person in all of San Diego, in July,
wearing a wool mitten.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thank You Denise But it is Time to Move On

I have been knitting my Deep and Unrelenting Caramel for what seems to me about 5 months now. In reality it has only been 2 months but it seems soooo much longer.

Might this be my first sweater
that fits me properly?
 So far so good.
And why does it seem like it is taking forever? This top-down open cardigan is knit in one piece, which makes for some very long rows. I've separated for the sleeves and now I am well under each arm but each row is still taking me about 20-30 minutes to knit. Yes, you read that correct... 20 to 30 minutes PER ROW. OMG this sweater is going to take forever to knit!

Part of the problem is that I am a slow knitter and I don't have a lot of time to knit each day; I consider myself lucky if I get 30 minutes a day to devote to knitting. And, as I said, the rows are very long. (I'm a thrower not a picker.) But I think that this is only part of my issue. I think I really need to change needles.

Let me explain:

When I first started knitting I bought the best set of needles that I could both find and afford. I didn't have much choice at my LYS but I was very happy with my purchase of a set of plastic circular Denise Interchangeable Needles. I recall that they cost me about $75. I have used these needles over and over again for many years now. And until now I have never had any complaint.

Photo Credit: Denise Interchangeable
I'm not sure when it started but I recently started noticing things that I didn't like about these same needles that I had used a hundred times before: the flexibility and dullness of the tips and my current issue- the thickness and stickiness of the cord.

I think that plastic needles are absolutely fabulous for a new knitter. They do exactly what you need them to do:  hold your stitches in place very securely as you fumble your way around the needles. At some point along the way I transitioned from needing my stitches held where I left them to wanting them to slip and slide along faster.

One of my favourite Canadian knit bloggers, Miso Crafty Knits, did a series of reviews of needles recently. (Here, here, and here) I found her reviews very thorough and thoughtful and this really got me thinking about what needles I use and why.

So today I made the leap. I splurged and bought myself a new set of addi-turbo click Lace-Long tips. 
OOOH, aren't they pretty?

They are circular interchangeable needles with long, sharp tips. The cords come in a variety of sizes and are of small diameter, even as compared to the smallest needles in the set. The cords are also very flexible. I am very happy with my purchase!

Now let's see if they help me move any faster on my sweater!
The changing of the guard.

It's a process, knitter.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A bad case of quickly changing knitting priorities

I've been planning my next  hundred couple projects even though a have a few (only 5) projects on the needles already. I have found a hundred few new projects that really excite me and I am ... ahem, sorry, I seem to have a bad case of queue-itis (it is so a word) right now.

Apparently, I am not one to have my queue set in stone. I would think that I would be a seasonal knitter. Coming into the summer months I am trying to look at smaller projects, like socks and mittens, but my attention keeps coming back to the sweaters. The voice in my head whispers that I could quite realistically have one or maybe two of the items on my queue done before fall. I am trying to be assertive when I tell her to shut up and to focus on our current WIP but still my eyes wander.

If I want to have my knitting priorities to be set in stone I had REALLY better stop looking at new knitting publications and on Ravelry.
Here's what's on my mind and in my queue these days:

1. Pont Neuf, design by Emily Wessel and found in Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2013. I LOVE this sweater!!  I am not usually one to choose such a fitted and feminine sweater (never mind the buttons, eek) but this one is gorgeous. You had me at the lace front panel and my heart was stuck at the 3/4 length sleeves.  I love the cheeky and peek lace. 
Photo Credit: Twist collective spring/summer 2013

2. Robin, design by Josee Paquin, published in UandIKnit and downloadable on Ravelry .  This is much more my style. I could wear this with everything I own! It is a loose fitting and comfortable sweatshirt style sweater with details that allow you to hint at some shape underneath. I love the ballet neckline and the scoop  in the back that will cover my bottom.  I am also really drawn to stripes right now.
Photo credit: Josee Paquin, Ravelry

3. Humbolt Raglan, design by Alexandra Virgiel and found in Knitscene Spring 2013. Again much more my style. This is a simple sweater with a lovely lace detailing on the front that allows for that flirty peek of lace camisole beneath. I have bought the yarn already for this one already as it immediately jumped to the head of my queue right after I bought this magazine. I bought Berroco Vintage, DK, in a hot pink.

Photo credit: Knitscene Magazine
and just one more:

4. Maybe this will be the next Birthday Mitten for my sister. These are the How Cold Is It? mittens, designed by Drunk Girl Designs and available on Ravelry and on here on These are fabulous, hilarious, and crude. Just like me... and my sister. So perfect all around.

Photo Credit: Drunk Girls Designs

 What's in your queue right now? Are you a seasonal knitter?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

But for the yarn-overs...

A while back (November , I believe) I told you about a cardigan that I have been working on. The Lady Marple sweater or as I call it my Early Evening Cardigan. When it is complete it should look like this:

Lady Marple Sweater, by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne 
Picture © Nadia Crétin-Léchenne
Mine currently looks like this:
Maybe a blocking will help...
The body of this sweater went together quite quickly. I actually knit all of this in less than 2 weeks.  I was starting to think that I could be one of those knitters that slams out a whole adult sized sweater in less than a month. (Provided I use worsted weight wool, larger needles and have a lot of time to sit and knit.) I looked at this body and thought to myself that I had only 2 sleeves and a button band and collar left to go! Oh baby, home stretch! Right?

Right? So why didn't I continue on my hot streak and just finish? Because something wasn't right. But I couldn't quite put my finger on it right away.

I started looking at my sweater and comparing it to those  Ravelry completed by other knitters. I liked theirs better but could not figure out why mine seemed... lacking.

Was it the colour or yarn? No, I still liked both. Although I was a little nervous now about this yarn pilling under the arms after having read some reviews.  I was concerned but it wasn't a deal breaker.

Was it the waist shaping? No, I don't think so.  I ultimately decide to put in waist shaping despite the knowledge that my own shape has none. I figured that it really was slight shaping and maybe it would help me look like I have a shape. No big deal.

It was the cables. Specifically the yarn overs. Look at the pictures at the very top of this blog. Her sweater has beautiful cables with big open peeky holes. Mine have to be stretched to be seen. EXCEPT over a couple of rows, notably the left breast, where I must have forgotten what I was doing and completed a proper yarn over, completely by accident. Crap.

 I have put a white sheet of paper under the cables as contrast
so that you can see how open my yarn over are NOT!
So, what do I do now? Well, I am blocking it now but shy of physically opening  and stretching each yarn over individually they are going to stay as they are right now. The cables still look nice but just not as I had wanted them to look.

As I have discussed time and time again I am a process knitter and, as such,  I really do not see myself ripping this whole sweater to start again. And if I am not prepared to rip it back then I have to be happy with it as it is now. But in my mind it isn't the same sweater.  ARGG!

Please leave me a comment to tell me what YOU would do?

In the mean time, I think I may take this an oppotunity to start a new sweater... while the jury is out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Birthday Mitten

Gather'round y'all. It's time for another story. This is the story of ...The Birthday Mitten

RH: top of hand

RH: palm side

Behold Heather's birthday mitten. This is a Snowfling Mitts, designed by Tanis Lavallee. I love this pattern!

It is a family joke that I have an odd way of  routinely forgetting my sister's birthday. Well, not the birth-DAY, per se, that I almost always remember. What I forget is whether I have sent a gift or card to congratulate or celebrate the occasion. That I often forget. And it is for this reason that Heather may get one or as many as three birthday cards and/or gifts from me anytime during the year. 

My process is that I buy gifts throughout the year.  If I am out shopping in August and see a perfect gift for my sister's March birthday I typically buy it right away. My problem is sometimes I tuck the item away in my box of future gifts to be pulled out in time for her special day and sometimes I am too excited and send the item in the mail right away. My challenge is to remembering what I did with the item or remembering that I bought it in the first place. A smart person would write this stuff down but alas...

My sister has benefited greatly from my forgetfulness on this front for several years now. Having an early March birthday I have often bought her an extra special Christmas gift and called it a joint Christmas-Birthday gift. I gently remind her that she will not get another gift from me in March. (At this she smiles knowingly.) And then I'll send her a card with a cheque in March. And another one in June; for this one I'll be panicking and full of  apology that I had forgot the whole thing in March. 

My sister always reminds me, after the second or third gift or card, that I had sent the other items. She calls me a dumbass, I agree, I say that I am going to write this stuff down better next year, she scoffs and we laugh about it all.  Typical sister stuff.

With all the background above you can perhaps understand why I was so amused that my sister had occasion to forget MY birthday last year. (Ahem, I'm a December birthday, in case you care.) It was a benchmark birthday for me too.  But we had a busy Christmas season where we did not get to see each other throughout the holidays and, in fact, my family had gone away for 2 weeks. So it was deep into January before I had even noticed that she hadn't wished me happy birthday. 

No way was I going to remind her! This was too good of an opportunity. I was going to wait for her to remember and have this as ammunition to tease her- forever- that she had forgotten my birthday. At least I forget by sending too many gifts!

I called her in late January to ask her what her eldest son would like for his birthday when it suddenly pops into her brain that she had forgotten MY birthday. Our conversation went something like this:

Heather: ... You could probably send Q some cash, if you wanted, he is saving up for a...OMG! I forgot to send you A BIRTHDAY CARD!  I FORGOT YOUR 40TH BIRTHDAY!
Me: So cash for Q? Yeah, I can do that. And I know.
Heather: Did you hear me? I forgot to send you a birthday card. I'm so sorry!
Me:  That's okay. Your birthday is coming up soon. As payback I'll forget your birthday on purpose this year.
Heather: Don't you do that every year?
Me: Funny. I do NOT do that on purpose. Just for that you are getting a bag of rocks for your birthday this year!  I'm going to write it down too. Better yet, I'll send you a bag of rocks and only ONE of the mittens that I made for you!
Heather: (laughing)  Sure, send the rocks, I'll use them in my garden. And I'm not worried about the mitten. You'll just forget and send me the second one in June anyways.

Touche. But with that simple silly conversation it was settled. This year she was getting one mitten- and one mitten only.  I sensed a birthday tradition in the making here!

I quickly found a pattern that looked fun, ordered the kit and away I went. The knitting part was easy. It is easy to only knit one mitten- the tough part is making a pair of anything! So it was ready in time for her birthday but I carried it around for a few extra days just to tease her a while longer.

I had her card, with a cheque which was the real gift, and her mitten all ready to go. (I left the rocks out.)  I went to the post office and bought an Express Post envelope for $11. We, unfortunately, live in different cities but I wanted her to get the package quickly. I bought the envelope and was filling out the address portion when I got distracted by a conversation beside me. I double checked that the addresses were written correct and popped it in the mail. Satisfied that Heather would not be so smug this year!

I giddily sent my sister a taunting text about watching her mail the next day. That I hoped it would be cold that week as she would soon have something to keep her warm.

I should have just kept my big mouth closed.

The next day I went to pick up my mail. I was absently wondering if Heather had gotten her package yet. I giggled to myself imagining her reaction to her one mitten. I was chuckling when I opened my post office box and saw an Express post envelope. I got excited for a moment. MAIL! I love getting mail! But that looks just like... the envelope I sent my sister yesterday! FFS!

And, of course, it was. CRAP! I had accidentally put my own address in the TO spot (thankyouverymuch Canada Post for putting that conveniently in the spot where the rest of the world puts their FROM addresses) and Heather's in the FROM. I was cussing as I spend another $11 to buy another Express Post envelope to resend the package. This time I paid very close attention to the addresses. Lesson learned.

I texted my sister to tell her to not to bother checking her mail that day. I told her that I had accidentally sent the package to myself. She howled laughing. I could hear her crying through her snorts of laughter.

I guess I had the last laugh because she didn't laugh so hard the next day when she got only one beautiful right handed mitten in the mail the next day! She called right away to thank me and to exclaim over her one beautiful mitten.

Heather: I love it! But I thought you were joking about only sending one.
Me: Nope. Enjoy that one. It is too expensive to send them in the mail.
Heather: They are a lot less expensive to send if you don't send them to yourself first!
Me: Be nice.  See if I send you 2 or 3 more birthday presents this year!
Heather: (howling again) They'll certainly be easier to keep track of if you send them to yourself every time first!
Me: Fuck off.

And that, right there folks, is why my sister is going to get only one birthday mitten per year for the rest of her life.  Only right handed ones too.

It's a process, Knitter.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Knitting Infinity

I've actually finished quite a few projects so far this year. Yeah, me!  My focus in Q1 has been small projects- they make me feel like a super fast and productive knitter.  I have finished  my Guernsey Wrap, 2 baby sweaters, 3 hats and 1.5 colourwork mittens*.

FO 2013, 1Q

I have several friends or family members who are having babies this year and I wanted to make them something special. I enjoy sending a handmade gift, when I can. I also don't mind knitting a few baby sweaters to tuck away for a later date. Rather than having to knit under a deadline because in my limited experience that doesn't end well.

In addition to the ones above I also started a lovely baby sweater for  the new baby of a past co-worker.  I chose to knit  Baby's Hooded Sweater, by Debbie Bliss, from the Fall Winter 2012 Debbie Bliss Magazine. The sweater looked to be an easy enough knit but looked fancy because of the cables. I also thought that a cabled sweater would fit longer than a regular sweater seeing that the cables would give the sweater some significant stretch.  I planned to make this sweater without the hood to save time and yardage.

Picture copyright and courtesy of Debbie Bliss Magazine

In early March I finally got around to selecting yarn and had fussed around a long time trying to pick a fairly gender neutral colour from my stash.  I ended up selecting a  colourway called Cove, in Madeline Tosh Sport. This is a lovely neutral colour that reminds me of  rocky shoreline along a clear water lake. Think shades of brown with hints of blue and green.  It isn't a classic baby sweater colour but I've always enjoyed non-classic choices, especially for babies.  I thought that it would work well for either gender with a cute little pair of jeans.

Madeline Tosh Sport, in Cove

Speaking of deadlines... I thought the baby was due in late March, early April and figured that I was doing well to have cast on by March 8th. Well, of course their beautiful baby girl was born on March 9th. (Of course she was!) I hadn't even finished the cuff of the first sleeve and had lost my cable needle twice so far. Crap.

I have knit what seems like 100 hours on this little sweater and have completed one sleeve, started the second and the full back. This is one of those infinity knitting projects that can drive a girl to drink caffeinated beverages so that she can stay up later for JUST ONE MORE REPEAT. You know the type: you knit for 2 hours, measure and have 3" of knitting complete. Ok, Good. You knit for another 2 hours, measure and find that you still  have 3" of knitting complete. WHAT?! ARGGG! You can stretch and pull but the cables shrink right back up to 3" no matter how you tug.  (You just wait... this little shrinky dink 6-9 month sweater is going to be a size 4T once I have it wet blocked!)

I am the first to admit that I am process knitter but there must be a small amount of product knitter tucked inside me I needed to feel like I was making progress at something!

Oh well, back to my infinity knitting. This project is not going to make no progress without me... or, wait a minute, maybe it will. :)  It's a process, Knitter!

Yarn details: Q1 2013
FO: 7
WIP: 6
Yardage: 58,049
Yardage traded, sold or given away (to date): 17,676**

* I'll tell this story soon.
** I have recently given away a large bit of stash (7,658 Yards) of Bernat Satin Solids and Red Heart Soft Touch yarns. This is deep stash stuff and yarn that I am, clearly, never going to use.  I donated all of  this yarn to one of the Seniors home in my town. I hope many grandchildren or great-grandchild benefit from this gift.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Um, I slipped? So much for destashing.

Back off and get your own sandwich!

In my own defence, it is not MY fault that Knit Picks had a sale. (Eeeeeeeeeee!) And who am I to turn down such a delicious selection of affordable yarn? And all of the above yarn cost only $100, including shipping!  So back off and get your own sandwich!

I'll be back soon to tell you what I plan to make with this haul and to show you the stack of knits I have made this winter.

Until then, you can enjoy the above pre-recorded picture of my new yarn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In SUPPORT of Winter v.2.0

We get a whole lot of winter around these parts and typically that means snow, cold, short days, and a whole lot of layers to stay warm. Last year we had a very mild winter with very little snow. That’s why, with the return to normal seasonal weather, so many people are complaining. We turned into wussies very quickly. For shame!

Help, my eyes are frozen open!

So what is a girl and her good Canadian family to do when the nights are long and cold? Go outside anyways? Yes, of course, but what else? Knit? Great idea! And what should I be knitting.... things to keep us warm when we go outside. The problem is that I have 5 people to knit winter woollies for (including myself) and I cannot possibly knit fast enough to keep everyone warm on the same year or before items get discarded, out grown or lost. This is a serious problem.
I get an idea to knit my kids simple mittens. But after knitting 3 full pairs someone mentions that “they are awfully thin, Mom. And cold.  And make your hands all sore and chapped when they get wet. And maybe I lost one at school or in the van butitsnotmyfault.” The last part was said as a mumble under the breath hoping that I wouldn’t hear.  So no one wears the mittens. 

So I get a brainwave and buy polar fleece to line the newly knit gloves. I test my tiny brain on making my own fabric mitten as a liner in reverse and sew it together.  Really, how hard this can be, I say to myself. Pretty darn hard, as it turns out, for the girl who doesn't sew!  Mitts are now lined, albeit a little lumpy, but the kids won't wear them now because they are too small. Crap.
Repeat this process with hats. To pretty much the same success. (The hats in the picture below are admittedly decorative hats and not really one ones for really keeping warm but you get the idea.) 
Left to Right: Rustling Leaves Beret, Cowled by Thy Mane, Propello Hat for Hannah

I give up! I will have children wrapped in warm non-knitted items! I only care that they are warm and dry. Really what I have come to realize is that sometimes knitting for kids is like shoveling the driveway while it is still snowing... usually a lot of work for nothing.

I'll save the good stuff for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

UPDATED: It's all about the math

 Have you ever had one of those projects where you start off with pure excitement and by two thirds through you are counting the rows or repeats until you can be done with this project FOREVER? As a process knitter I don’t typically suffer with this. But my current project, a Guernsey Wrap, designed by Jared Flood, is challenging even my patience to knit for knitting’s sake.

Knit with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter
I am really excited about this project. In no small part because it is nearly impossible* for me to screw up the sizing of a long rectangular wrap. This one's mine, bitches!
But in the mean time I am nearly 3 feet into a future 5+ foot wrap. I’m going to say it out loud: two feet of knitting can be a lot.   So because I am the sort to do math for fun and I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal I start trying to find ways to make it feel like I am nearly done while staying positive about the project.

Here we go...
I have 10,266 stitches left. How, exactly, is that supposed to make me feel like I am making progress? It kinda makes me want to cry and hide this UFO under my bed.
Stay positive. I have finished 267 rows of a 444 row project. No! No! No!
Breathe. (insert forced smile.) I have another 177 rows to go. Ug. Not helping.
I have 9.5 repeats to go.  Getting better... 9.5 is less than 177 but I still know it takes 18 rows per repeat. Keep trying.
I am 60% complete. We have a winner!
I'm not lying to myself. These are all the exact same amount of truth. Isn't it human nature to make a daunting task seem a little more achievable by breaking it down into pieces that your brain can comprehend.

Ravelry certainly got it right when they allowed project  process to be tracked in percentage complete instead of repeats, rows or even, God forbid, stitches.  I think that there were would be far fewer people willing to start an afghan or a pair of fine gauge socks if you were told right off the bat that you had somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 stitches ahead of you. 

I offer the following motivational poster...
Well, I have a winter storm heading my way. Which will give me a perfect opportunity to snuggle down and knit for as much of the weekend as I will be allowed. (*Beam*) Don’t worry about me...I only have another 177 rows to go  9.5 repeats am 60% complete and raring to get finished!
* I am aware that I am tempting fate by putting that thought into print but I am feeling pretty confident** here. Even in my early knitting years I could pull off a square-ish dishcloth or a rectangular scarf.

** Oh Crap! I'd better do an extra repeat just to be sure.

UPDATE: With all the snowing and blowing on Friday I thought I was going to have a weekend to knit until I got bored with it. It cleared up Saturday and we were back to business as usual. All weekend I only managed to finish 522 stitches/ 9 rows/ 0.5 repeat. That makes me 62% complete. Le Sigh.