Friday, October 19, 2007

Au Revoir Mes Tricoteuses!

OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD! I'm leaving for France in mere hours! I have yet to finish packing my clothes, but the knitting is all set:

- One drawstring project bag
- One pouch of notions including tapestry needle, stitch markers, crochet hook, stitch holder and measuring tape (scissors left behind should I be tempted to hi-jack the plane with them)
- Two (new!) patterns, photocopied to save space, inserted in protective plastic sleeve
- Two sets of Addi Turbo lace needles in appropriate sizes for projects (soon to be three as soon as Lettuce Knit opens)
- One skein Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino, one skein Lorna's laces Sheppard sock (with extra yarn in my luggage)

If only my suitcase was as meticulously thought out! (If I'm missing something you have exactly six hours from the time I post this to warn me) I'll be starting the Swiss Cheese scarf with the Lorna's laces, and the cashmerino is set to be an eleventh hour baby gift (can you hold out on giving birth, Gabby?). Not only do I get to take off to Europe, but I get to cast on two new projects! Whee!

Just in time for departure, a jaunty new beret:

Pattern: Gretel by Ysolda Teague
Size: "slouchy"
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted in Oregano (1 & 1/2 skeins approx)
Needles: Denise 3.75mm & 4.5mm
Notes / mods: Long tail cast on instead of the suggested tubular (though I'd give the tubular another go if I was to knit it again).

Aside from the cast-on business, I really enjoyed knitting this. The pattern is exceptionally well written. I'm quite pleased with the results too! She's still damp after her little bath in eucalan, so pictures on my noggin will have to wait until my return.

A la prochaine!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Totally not Tubular

Well chitlens, there hasn't been a lot of progress on my W.I.P's of late, but I believe I owe you a story:

Once upon a time, there was a girl who dreamed of knitting a Gretel beret...

(Alright, I know I can't keep up with that fairytale format, so let's just cut to the chase.) The pattern calls for a tubular cast on. Unfamiliar with the technique, I looked it up eager to learn a new skill. Hurray for new skills! Lucky for me, Ysolda has clear, concise instructions on her website and I followed them to the best of my ability.

Cast on attempt #1: Somewhat shakey. The technique requires you to cast on half the number of desired stitches, and through the magic of it's tubular ways, you end up with double that number, ie: final stitch count. You follow? I somehow ended up a few stitches short. No worries. At first you don't succeed and all that jazz, right?

Cast on attempt #2: Deceptive. Confident I had learned from my previous mistake I casteth on again and soldiered forward. Ribbing complete, cabling underway, I was a knitter in fine form. Then I stopped to admire my handiwork. That ribbing looked awfully tight... There was no way the hat was fitting over my noggin. For a brief moment I considered perhaps my head was abnormally large. No, no, it was the cast on that was too small. Dang!

Cast on attempt #3: Hasty. I decided to abandon the tubular business and use the long tail method for the sake of finishing the beret before my golden years. A few rows in I discovered I had twisted by stitches when I joined to knit in the round. I was in the process of knitting an experimental Moebius beret.

Cast on attempt #4: Unfortunate. Wrong number of stitches.

Cast on attempt #5: Success!

Sure, it may not be as pretty as the tubular cast on, but a pretty edge that won't fit on my head won't do me much good, now will it? I swear I won't let the technique get the best of me. Next time, it's tubular all the way! Now to figure out a way to rid the yarn of latent mohair fluff:

In it's former incarnation, this yarn was a scarf, knit together with a strand of white mohair. (Don't ask, it was one of my first projects) I salvaged the yarn, but now I have green yarn with white fluff and white mohair with green fluff. Despite the fluff issue, so far, so good with our gal Gretel. I'm aiming to finish is before my vacation.

Speaking of my vaycay -I'm hoping you've all forgotten that I planned to knit myself a new Clapotis before heading off to France, because I sure did! The project started like gangbusters but soon fell to the wayside. I made a big boo-boo in the pattern and rather than face the ripping back, I abandoned it. Tee-hee! Now that my deadline is looming I have come to accept that A) knitting problems do not fix themselves when given some time alone, and B) the scarf will most certainly not be complete by Friday. I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm so okay with it, I think I'm going to rip out the whole darn thing and knit this instead. I just need to rename it something French. The baguette scarf? Suggestions welcome!

Only three more sleeps till Paris. Mon Dieu!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's official: It's sweater time.

I'm not sure what the official first day of autumn is supposed to be, but as far as I'm concerned, it's here. Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures last week, I can't ignore these tell tale signs:

1) Geese flying south (Nooo! Come back! You're Canada geese!)

2) Leaves most definitely turning colour (not just my imagination or a trick of the light)

3) People are beginning to bust out the sweaters.

Sweaters! Panic is setting in. I have to knit a whole new wardrobe of sweaters! Okay, I know this is unreasonable, but does anyone else feel this way? The feeling that you are somehow betraying your craft if you buy a commercially made sweater?

I might not be on my way to a entire wardrobe of sweaters just yet, but I've made a good deal of progress on at least one;

How cool are cables?

If there is anything good about holiday traffic extending a bus ride for an extra two hours (shudder, eye twitch), it's the knitting time. A few hours into my ride, podcasts a playin', needles 'a flyin, I decided to sit back and admire my handiwork. Gasp! A big fat mistake right where I had picked up my knitting hours before! See?!

Okay, maybe you don't see. See?!

The whole row is messed! I showed it to the b.f. to see if he could spot it. He didn't. I was momentarily placated, but what did he know? He's not a knitter! I decided to put the project away for a while until I could seek a second opinion. Luckily we were on our way to see his parents and his mother is fine and experienced knitter. She found the mistake, but not right away, and only after a few hints. Prognosis? Benign. I've decided to live with it.

While I was chewing on the the "to rip, or not to rip" question, I cast on Gretel.

More Cables!

I'll share the saga of the tubular cast on later. Many big sloppy thanks to Cara for providing me with needles to start knitting this on the bus ride back. And check out the groovy stitch markers she gave me:

I heart to knit. Well, obviously!

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Today began as "one of those days". I awoke, groggy, to a bleak and foggy morning. With no energy to pull together any kind of cute outfit, I grabbed an old faithful shirt and pulled on some jeans. Adequately attired, I made my way to the kitchen only to discover I was not only out of cereal, but the breadbox contained just a single slice of bread.

Fine. Once piece of toast would do.

I took a new jar of peanut butter of the shelf, hugged it close as I struggled with the stubborn lid, then watched in horror as it exploded much like old faithful the geyser, onto old faithful the shirt.

Fine. I could change my shirt.

Walking down the hall to the bedroom closet, I felt something cold and wet seep into my sock. Cat vomit!

Fine. I could change my socks.

Sporting fresh socks, and a new (not so faithful) shirt I left for work somewhat hungry and somewhat grumpy. Three times during my commute I was cut off by cars pulling over to stop illegally in front of coffee shops (I passed two Starbucks and two Tim Horton's - maybe I should find another route). Furiously ringing your bicycle bell after watching your life flash before your eyes is not as satisfying as one would think.

After safely arriving at the office, I reached for my trusty coffee thermos only to realize... it wasn't there. I know I had brought it with me. I distinctly recalled the thermos clanking around in my bike basket while I braved life threatening rush hour traffic. There was only one answer: it was still in the basket.

Yup, sure enough, I had left the thermos unattended in the parking lot for a full fifteen minutes. (Do I really need to convince people I'm not ready to have children?) I drank the coffee, all the while convinced it had somehow been tainted with urine or crack or god forbid: replaced with decaf.

The day could only get better from here.

After checking my email, I think it did. For one? Mystery solved:

Dear Julia,

We recently were informed by Wenlan's book publisher about the comment
posted in your blogs about your winner's gift certificate and gift.
Just to clarify, your yarn and knitting needle gift package was sent the
same day as the $20 gift certificate. The gift certificate was sent through
email and package was sent via UPS ground so you received the certificate a
few days before the package. All previous winners receive the same gifts as
you did.

Twinkle by Wenlan

Yes, important book publishing designer types do read my blog! Now go and enter that contest - you can win yarn!

Two? I got a nice email from a friend reminding us all to be grateful for everything that is good in the world after she had a wonderful day that was no doubt, the polar opposite of the morning I had just experienced. She finished her message with eight things she was thankful for, and in the spirit of thanksgiving, I'll do the same. In no particular order, I am grateful for:

1)Friends, family and the b.f. I would be a total mess without the fabulous network of people around me.

(Thank-you for being a friend!)

2) Toronto and Canada. I live in a fabulous city, in a fabulous country. There's nothing like watching the world news to remind yourself - oh yeah, it's pretty great here.

3) My health. You know how when you have a cold or flu and you feel like you're going to die and you curse yourself for taking all of those healthy days for granted? Yeah.

4) Feminism. Thanks to my feminist foremothers, no one pinches my bum at work and the only person I have to fetch coffee for is myself (even if it's been left in a parking lot).

5) Modern technology. I think we often forget this one, especially when things go wrong and your computer decides to eat your files. Take a moment to remember: the Internet is a marvelous thing.

6) Good tunes. The music industry may be going to hell in a hand-basket (Do we really need a Spice Girls reunion?) but there are still people out there making my ears happy.

7) Good grub. Not only am I not starving in some war-torn country, I actually get to choose from a bounty of delicious delicacies every time I eat.

8) Knitting. (Duh!) In all seriousness though, I'm thankful that I have a hobby that gives me so much happiness. Knitting is stress relieving, productive and has introduced me to a lot of fantastic people.