Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I won!

Second toe stitched up at 1am Christmas eve just as Jimmy Stewart heard that bell ring.
Photo-documentation severely lack-luster
.

Pattern: "Argyle Socks" from an 80's Patons "sock and gloves" booklet
Yarn: Miscellaneous thrift store finds; some Poppletons, some Patons Kroy
Needles: 2mm
Notes/Mods: As much as I really adore argyle, I adore myself more. I will never again put myself through the torture of knitting such a fiddly pattern on 2mm needles!

Were they well received? Well, considering my Dad is a hard sell on just about any gift (and that he really wanted a flat screen t.v. - yeah, right!), I think they went over as well as could be expected.

Mum on the other hand, is an easy-pleaser:

Mum got the Praire boots I knit for myself in the summer. They had turned out too large, and I held onto them until I needed a gift for someone with larger feet than mine. I couldn't have found a recipient more deserving! But just in case you think Mum got the shaft, I also gifted her with a knit scarf kit. She had admired Nicky Epstein's flower scarf from the Vogue Knitting magazine I brought home last Christmas, so I thought I'd knit it for her this year. Given the time-suckage that those argyles became, I had to cut some corners. In the end, I offered to knit it for her after-the-fact, and she accepted.


As much as I desperately wanted to cast on something for myself post-x-mas, I'm really enjoying knitting this scarf! It's just the right of balance between simple and complex. Wee garter stitch flowers! In silk! Fun! You don't know what your missin', Ma!

On a completely unrelated note, allow me to introduce you to my new 'do':


Yup, I took the plunge! 2009 will see me using a lot less shampoo.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, KNITTERS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Romance

Wrapping things up for the holiday season here at casa de Knitteroo. Is the gift knitting complete? Is it the 25th yet? Well then of course it's not finished! I'm fairly certain the (godforsaken) argyle socks will be done in time for Santa day and my excuse list will remain just a back-up plan. Heck, the way the weather is faring these days I might even get an extra "snow day" to stay home and knit. Have you not heard? Toronto has been hit by the first wave of what the meteorologists are dubbing "snowmaggedon".

Oh, hello! What's this lying in the snowdrift that was once my summer patio oasis? The "Pat hat"! This is a little number I've been working on as both a Christmas gift for my brother (Pat) and as a pattern that can get a nice hat out of a skimpy amount of yarn. I plan on writing up the pattern for sale on Ravelry, though I'll wait to see how well it actually fits. Then there's test knitting and photos and layout and yadda-yadda-yadda.

Oh my, and what's this over here?


Have you ever developed a crush on a ball of yarn? (You know you have issues when...) This Rowan Romance is a discontinued yarn that was living in the Romni bargain basement (hence the unsightly sale price scrawled on the label). I'm not normally a fan of the sparkly yarns, but there is something about this one that appeals to me. In fact, I frequently visited it's basement home, checking how many were left, admiring it's bulky fuzz. It wasn't until the threat of it's extinction closed in, (ie: the impending boxing day sale) that I actually took a ball home. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it (this is the last ball of this colour!) but I feel better now that it's moved in with me. Sigh. Thank goodness I'm preaching to the choir because this sort of behavior really does make me feel like a lunatic. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Checking it twice

How did this happen? I promised myself I would NOT get in a Christmas knitting crunch this year and here I am. I decided to knit gifts for my immediate family and immediate family only. This consists of three people. Three. A completely reasonable and attainable goal...maybe. I'm beginning to collect excuses in case this goal is not met.

1. I had to knit hats for a boutique!
I don't care how easy they were, that there is a pile 'o hats people!

2. Holiday parties!
The b.f's office party - MadMen themed. Note to self: next time you spend hours teasing your hair into a beehive and gluing on false eyelashes be sure to get better photo documentation.


3. God-forsaken argyles! (I won't bore you with photos. I'm on the second sock. It looks just like the first)

4. I'm designing one gift myself!
The soon-to-be "Pat Hat".
It's cashmere, it's unisex, it's a present for my brother and therefore totally secret.
I'll write up the pattern after x-mas!


5. I knit for Lairecuts!

The toque I knit for my friend and "hair genius" Laire.
Yarn: Classic Elite Superfine Alpaca
Pattern: my own

6. Life is hard.

"Life is hard" has become my latest, favourite, catch-all catch phrase. It works especially well when you really have nothing to complain about. Par example: "Holt Renfrew sold out of the wallet that matches my Louis Vuitton handbag. What am I supposed to do? Life is hard!"

Good luck to all of you with your holiday knitting!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wavering

I have a theory that if you give set yourself an unrealistic goal, the pressure to attain said goal will eventually become so great you will inevitably collapse like a house of cards. Let's say, for instance, you decide to give up sugar. Not just cookies and candy, but ALL sugar. Slowly you begin to notice that sugar is everywhere. Sugar is in ketchup. Sugar is in salad dressing. Sugar is in just about every packaged food available. After a few weeks of chewing dried fruit and making your own BBQ sauce, you may just explode and eat an entire cheeescake.

Not convinced? My theory is proven again and again in the fibre community. On a yarn diet? How long can you hold out before you see a "sale" sign and take home a sweater's worth of cashmere? Attempting project monogamy? How long until the first snowfall and you need a pair of mittens? Deadline knitting? Deadline knitting for x-mas? Deadline knitting for x-mas and therefore shan't be casting on projects for personal consumption until the new year?

Oops.


Excuses:

1. My other hand-knit scarves match most of my jackets but NOT all of my hats.
2. This yarn is recycled from an old project.


3. I had no "mindless" knitting to work on during S'n'B nights or whilst watching movies with subtitles.
4. I'm only human.
5. The god-foresaken argyle socks will be the death of me.


A sidenote on the argyles: I really have to suck it up, stop complaining and keep knitting. If I had knit a row for every time I whined about how totally no-fun these socks are to knit; I'd be done by now. Everyone knows I'm knitting these (godforsaken) argyle socks; my boyfriend, all of my friends, my co-workers and just about every second customer at work. If I fail to complete these (godforsaken) arygle socks, I'll have a lot of people to answer to. I know what must be done. I'd rather just give up sugar.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Other People's Knitting

Ah, the holiday season. So much gift-knitting. So much gift-knitting that you can't post pictures of for fear of ruining the surprise. "What do you mean you saw that scarf on the Internet? Santa knit that!" (If Santa is half as magical as people make him out to be, you can be sure he's a knitter. ) So what's a blogger to do? Steal from the blogless! (or blog-free as the eponymous Rachel H prefers)

I went through a good slew of posts blogging about my gal Cathy, and now I suppose I'm in a "Barbara" phase. I wrangle yarn with Barbara back at the Romni Ranch, and recently got roped in (Ow! My sides! They're splitting!) to modeling her latest creation, the Bellwood Cowl and Cap:

Pattern available on Ravelry and Patternfish.

You might recognize the Barbara touch if you have a copy of Amy Singer's No Sheep for You. She's credited in the book as a "colour genius" though as much as I admire her sense of colour, I think the genius lies more in her use of mosaic knitting. Mosaic knitting, people! Do it! It's totally easy!

One of the things I really like about mosaic knitting is it's tendency to look a lot like mod-sixties sort of prints.

(Remember my one and only (so far... wait, can you use parentheses inside parentheses? Or do they have to be those math kind of brackets like [this] or {this}? Where's Strunk and White when I need them?) attempt at mosaic knitting?)

(Totally stolen Flickr photos - I hope the rightful owners don't mind)

You can make pictures with the mosaic technique too, though it's a little limited. It's a bit like pixel art - everything turns out looking a little robotic:

Or as Amy Singer thinks in this pattern: Devo-esque

(More blatantly stolen photos, this time from Knitty and the Knitty blog respectively)

Wait, this was supposed to be a post about blogless Barbara and I ended up mentioning dual-blogger Amy. Oops! Well, there you go. Until I knit something available for release on my blog you will just have to be satiated with material regurgitated from other internet sources. Wait, does that mean I'm a real journalist now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Make Do and Mend

The old war-time adage "Make do and mend" seems to be gaining popularity, what with the current economy and all. It's suddenly chic and ecologically friendly to save, fix and re-use things. Funny, as my first thought when something breaks has always been to fix it. Maybe that's because I always seem to be in a state of financial crisis regardless of the Dow Jones.

MAKING DO:


(Sorry, you will all just have to "make do" with early mornin post-work photos taken with the self-timer.
My head may be cut-off, but trust me, you don't want to see my expression pre-coffee)


I suppose this wasn't so much an exercise as making-do, as an exercise in patience. Sure the pattern was free and the fabric thrifted, but if it takes three days of pulling out your hair, is it really worth it?

Okay, I guess it is. I love this skirt. The details almost killed me, but it fits like a dream. High-waisted, stylish, that bizarre pinky-orange sherbet colour that only seemed to exist in the sixties... I couldn't tell you what the fabric is, but the pattern is Kasia from the Burda Style site. Sew at your own risk: this pattern is not for the faint of heart.

MENDING:

I have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to haircuts. I call my friend Laire, I go to his place or he comes to mine, he cuts my hair and I pay him in trade. In the past, repairing a shirt, hemming a pair of pants and sewing some pillows have provided me with some pretty stylish do's. After my last cut, I was presented with a pair of hand knit socks in dire need of repair. I'm not talking about a simple running stitch or hole in the toe, these socks looked as though someone had placed cherrybombs in the heels, lit a match and headed for the hills.

The socks had been knit by Laire's 'Nana" who has sinced passed away. (Strong sentimental value will drive people to wear their socks until they appear mangled by small explosives.) Apparently Nana was all but blind when she knit these socks, meaning I had my work cut out for me. I thought "No problem! I'll just rip back the old knitting, pick up the stitches and knit a new heel. Piece of cake!". After a night of fighting with worn out acrylic loops of yarn I was ready to start paying for haircuts with cold hard cash. Then I saw Laire and realized how much the socks meant to him. Dammit! I persevered:


I knit an "afterthough heel", for those playing along at home.


My next "haircut project" is all picked out (a slouchy toque) but the hairstyle itself is not. I'm thinking about doing something drastic. Maybe it's those Northern Exposure re-runs I keep catching, but I feel like doing something drastic.

I'm a little apprehensive about going short though. A bad head-shaving incident at 17 left me looking like a pudgy 12-year old boy. What if people think I'm a boy? What if I look less like Maggie O'Connel and more like A.J Soprano? I'll keep you posted on whether I take the plunge or get cold feet (Ha! Cold feet! Northern Exposure?! Sigh...)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenny Jenny WOOH Jenny Jenny!

You all know the Little Richard song, right?

After knitting five Jenny Cloche hats in a row, I couldn't get the song out of my mind. I kept picturing a movie montage with me knitting and knitting, wiping my brow, pausing to crack my knuckles and stretch my neck. Then the music would fade, I would lean back in my chair, put up my feet and admire the giant pile of hats I had created with all that hard work.

Okay, so five hats does not a giant pile make, but then again, I'm not living in a movie either. I did however, customize them all to be a little different from the last:


3 metal studs!

Braided gold trim!
(hard to see in the photo, but trust me, it's there)


Be-jewelled!

Classic black with satin ribbon!

And my personal favourite...

Emerald green with a peacock feather!


Now all the little Jennys have gone to live at Shopgirls . Hopefully, they will all be taken home by nice rich ladies with absolutely no clue how to knit.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Raspberry Boysenberry Beret

Boing!


PATTERN: Bounce from Yarn Ball Boogie
YARN: Farmhouse Yarns Andy's Merino
COLOUR: Boysenberry (sorry, I think it's discontinued)

I bought two skeins of this yarn at Purl two years ago with the intention of making a shrug, but never found the right pattern. The poor yarn languished. Once in a while I would visit the yarn, look at it, admire it's lovely saturated colour, it's fabulous squooshiness, and wonder what it might become. I thought the yarn had met it's match with Knitty's Mosey legwarmers but alas, the yardage was skimpy and the gauge was off. Then I tried knitting a Jenny with the yarn doubled - too stiff! Finally, one fateful day while blog-hopping... Bounce! A squishy beret pattern knit with the very same Andy's merino? Parfait!


Bounce became my NYC vacation knitting; appropriate, no? Knitting the yarn in the land from whence it came?


While the finished product is quite nice, I'm finding it far too large. I know it's supposed to be large, but I have my limits. If the hat falls off when you bend over? Too big. If the hat rests on the top of your shoulders? Too big. If the hat can be easily confused with something one would stuff their dreadlocks into? TOO BIG! (There's a fine line between over-sized beret, and rasta-hat).



I DID however like the pattern's method of knitting brioche stitch, but would love to figure out a way to work the same method in the round. Hats knit flat? Why?

Big thanks to Barbara for the pictures, and to Cathy for once again (unknowingly) providing the locale.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

New York: the Yarn

What does a yarn store employee do when let loose in Manhattan? Why visit other yarn stores, of course!

First stop, the ever-charming Purl in Soho.

This is where I encountered my first celebrity:

"Oh my god! It's the Lace Rib cowl!" I fondled many a yarn here, marveling at my new-found ability to recognize familiar yarns from twenty paces. In the end, I picked up a couple of lovely skeins of Farmhouse Yarns:

On the right is Andy's Merino in "Seabreeze" and on the left is Lumpy Bumpy yarn by Charlene. As if the colours weren't enough, how can you resist these labels?

Look at wee Charlene! How can you say no to a face like that? Of course, I've only just got around to knitting the yarn I got at Purl two years ago, but hey, at least I've got a pattern in mind for this stuff. Wouldn't the lumpy-bumpy make a great Urchin?

Next I headed to Habu and School Products, conveniently located a few blocks from my hotel (I swear I didn't plan it that way). I went to School Products intent on finding cashmere and was not disappointed.


I picked up two skeins of yummy tweed cashmere. It may look rough and tumble but trust me, it feels like buttah!

I'm now kicking myself for buying two skeins in two different colours. I thought I could get one hat per skein, but it may be a little tight. Oh well, there's always the stripe option... or I could just use it as a pillow. Mmm...cashmere pillow...

Last but not least, my first trip to Habu!


So much weird, wild stuff! I sorted through the skeins of yarn made from paper, pineapple and actual fishnets(!), to find something complimentary to knit along with the Habu bamboo I got at the Knitter's Frolic last spring. I ended up with what almost everyone seems to buy from Habu:

Stainless steel / wool knit together with bamboo? It should prove interesting.

So that's the haul, and none of it counts because it's vacation yarn, right? Now that I'm back at home, I'm trying to hunker down and knit a few more hats to sell at Shopgirls and then it's jingle all the way to x-mas knitting. Eeek!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New York, New Yarn 2008

Whew! I just flew in from New York and boy, are my arms tired! ( Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Actually, I flew Porter from Toronto to NY this time and I can't recommend it enough.

Complimentary beverage and snack on an hour and a half flight? Yeah!

For those outside of of the G.T.A, Porter is a tiny little airline that flies from the tiny Toronto Island Airport just a tiny ferry ride from downtown. Everything about the experience was very pleasant and civilized, which is quite the opposite of most airline experiences (um, is there any wonder Zoom no longer exists?). Plus, the flight attendants have pillbox hats. Pillbox hats!

Anyhooz, I didn't just knit on the plane, I went to New York city, baby! I knit at the Gershwin hotel, where I strongly approved of the photos in the hallway:

Excuse me? We're trying to have a conversation here!

I did a bit of knitting in Little Italy with some espresso and a cannoli:

...and did absolutely no knitting at the WFMU record fair. If anyone knows of a way to flip through a crate of records whilst knitting, please let me know.

(If you're not into records, just squint and pretend it's a fibre festival)

I did however spend a lot of time walking around Manhattan carrying my knitting. While the other tourists were taking pictures of the Empire State building (been there) and Times Square (done that) I found myself taking pictures of stuff like this:


Um, isn't weird that I find more varieties of Canada Dry in America than Canada?

And how about this?


I couldn't find a single trace of John McCain anywhere. New Yorkers - god bless 'em!

And in typical New York style, their flatiron building insists on being taller and thinner than our flatiron building;




(Though in typical Toronto style, ours is probably cleaner and more apologetic.)












Look at me, prattling on about soft drinks and architecture when I should be telling you about Habu and School Product and Purl (oh my!). Next post, I promise. Cliffhanger!