Saturday, January 26, 2008

Down to business

I am shocked and amazed at the generosity of my readers. I can't thank you all enough for the donations that have been made to my Selena fund. So far, your contributions have covered around 15% of her vet bill - considerably more than I ever thought possible! Selena is recovering very well and very quickly from her surgery. She says thanks!

(Well okay, she wasn't too pleased about being taken away from her choice spot in front of the space heater for this photo, but you know how cats are - she's smiling on the inside. Really.)

But let's get back to the knitting, shall we?

I have a confession to make. I want to design knitwear.

For some reason, I've been reluctant to admit this. I used to think every knitter wanted to design. I realize now, that may not be the case. Lots of knitters are perfectly content knitting from other people's patterns. Sure most of us modify patterns up the wazoo ("Let me just change the colours, yarn, knit it top-down and shorten the sleeves...") but that's not the same as designing. That's more like, say, substituting your fries for a salad. Me? I want to create the menu.

I suppose the biggest reason I haven't shouted my aspirations from the rooftops, is plain old humility. I haven't been knitting for very long. I've never knit fair-isle or entrelac or anything with steeks. I screw up my knitting all the time. I'm not so good with the math, etc., etc... I have a million excuses and none of them really hold any weight. If I heard a friend kvetching like this, I'd tell them; "Everyone has to start somewhere", and "You never know unless you try", and maybe even "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts...".

So in an effort to muffle that inner voice of insecurity, here's a few reasons I think I should be creating my own designs:

1 - I have ideas.

I gots ideas like Imelda Marcos had shoes.

2 - I follow fashion.

I pretend to be all high-falutin' by reading the Globe and Mail every Saturday, but the reality is, I read the Style section first (and, well, last). I buy Vogue every month. I know that Dsquared is not an algebraic formula. I know how to pronounce "Miu Miu". (It's mee-oo mee-oo by the way)

3 - Consequences are not dire.

No one will die if I don't succeed. To borrow a page from the Yarn Harlot: There are no knitting police. If it takes me ten years to design a hideous sweater that no one likes it's no big hairy deal.

(First attempt at designing a cable pattern: horribly unsuccessful.
Body count? Zero.)

4 - D.I.Y. is one of my favourite acronyms.

"Can't" is not a word that ever comes to mind when I'm faced with a challenge. If my tap drips, I learn how to fix it. I've taught myself how to do a lot of things over the years, and knitting is not rocket science. (Rocket science not being one of my self-taught achievements)

So there you have it. I'll take you all along for the ride, so put on your seat belts: I see a lot more ugly swatches in the future.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Well, dear readers, I have some sad news for you. New Year's eve I found a lump on my cat's chest. Just when it seems like everyone I know has been effected by cancer, now my faithful calico companion Selena has fallen victim to the big "C".

I adopted this kitty when she was a wee kitten way back when I first moved out on my own at 18. (Hence, she was unfortunately named after a pop-punk song by a band I no longer have any interest in). She's been warming my lap for many years and needless to say, I decided Selena should have the lumpectomy, even if my wallet screamed "Nooooh!". Last Thursday she underwent surgery, and after two nights in the hospital she is back in her hand-knit cat bed and recovering nicely (despite being forced to wear what my brother calls the dreadful "cone of shame").

Can this thing pick up HBO?

To try to offset the cost of Selena's surgery, I'm reaching out to you kind folks in the knitting community. I designed this simple and super-quick-to-knit hat and have dubbed it "Selena".

In exchange for a donation (no matter how small) I will send you this pattern and you can feel warm and fuzzy about helping my kitty while keeping your noggin' warm and toasty in the process. It's knit with Blue Sky Alpacas bulky hand-dyes and takes only one skein!

As an added bonus, I will send any donors all other patterns I may design for the rest of the year! (This pattern is very simple, but they're only going to get better and better, right?)

For now I'm going to pamper my furry friend in between medication battles (whoever thought it was a good idea to medicate cats in pill-form was obviously delusional!) I'll keep you all posted on her progress.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Knit-o-lutions '08

First, et's check up on last years Knit-a-lutions and see how I did, shall we?

Learn to knit Continental style: Nope.

Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it. Technically I did learn how to knit continental style, but it didn't take. I thought it would have me knitting at the speed of light, but it was awkward and slow and I gave up pretty quickly. I'll just stick with my bastardized English method until I feel up for the challenge again. I'm an English bastard!

Knit something requiring colour work: Yes and No

I did knit this:

But the deadline was so short I kind of fudged it. (My first attempt at intarsia, and if you were to inspect it closely? Not pretty.) What I really wanted to try was stranded knitting of some kind. I kind of left the idea stranded - muah-ah-ah-ah!

Felt something on purpose Yes!

It still counts if it didn't really work out, right? These house slippers didn't really take too well to my yarn/needle substitutions. Ah well, I'll give it another go sometime.

Knit something with cables: Yes!

Sure, I frogged it, but I'm now able-to-cable, baby!

Knit double the amount of sweaters that I did last year : Yes!

(Well, I only knit one in 2006, so it wasn't much of a stretch)

All in all, 2007 was very productive on the knitting front. I may not have finished as many projects as I would have liked, but all those mistakes sure learned me some lessons. In fact, I've learned I'm a pretty adventurous knitter. I'm always looking to learn new skills and I've never turned down a project for fear it would be too difficult. Of course, this makes for a lot of frogging and frustration, but what doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right? (And fine wine helps. Lots of wine.)

And without further ado...


Do some stranded knitting

Let's give that another go, shall we?

Design, design, design

Knittin' it my way. (More on that later)

That's it! Just two this year. One technique, and one big honkin' undertaking. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wrap It Up

Alright kids, let's get the last of the holiday 2007 blog fodder out to the masses!

First up: A knitting needle case for Mum:

Here she is loading it up. (Yeah, I know Mum, I need to make another case for circulars!) I based the roll-up on the tutorial at Cut out and Keep. (If you're not familiar with Cut out and Keep, grab your board and put on your shorts 'cause you've got some surfin' to do!) I also made one for the b.f.'s Mum, Maggie, though sadly, I forgot to take pictures. She said it reminded her of a quiver, which brings to mind a merry of band of knitters dressed up like Robin Hood running through the woods shooting knitting needles through the air. (That was everyone's first thought, right?)

And at the receiving end (snicker);

A copy of Knitscene from Cara (I know it wasn't really a x-mas gift, but I dig it!), and from the common-in-laws, A Stitch n' Bitch Calender and this really neat ribbon:

Perfect for the ties of my very own quiver!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Better Late than never

Is it really over? Whew! December just flies by doesn't it? No wonder I didn't finish my Christmas knitting in time! I did however finish my Dad's socks in not until after the 25th. I got him to model the one I had completed in time for Christmas though:

Not too shabby! I'm lucky my brother, my Dad and my boyfriend all wear the same shoe size so I'm never at a loss for sock models. Still, as a relative newbie to the land of socks, this pair is not without their faults. For instance, the feet are a little too long, which resulted in legs that are a little too short. In fact, I had to rip back the cuff of sock #1, to finish knitting sock # 2 (they were knit toe up). Now they look like this:

I'm hoping they will look better with a foot inside. Especially the bind off, which had me worried:

You see, when I bound off the first sock, I decided to use the suspended bind-off, as I read it was supposed to be fairly elastic. Unfortunately, that method made the edge flare, so I ripped it back and cast off the regular old way. Sock complete, I got my brother to try it on for size. The cuff was too tight. Fair enough. So, I ripped it back and tried the stretchy bind-off again. I shouldn't have second guessed myself, right? Brother tries on a second time. Still snug. *#$%@! I ripped back and tried the suspended bind-off yet again, but this time on larger needles. Success! (All the same, I couldn't help thinking how much of the second sock I could have completed instead of wasting my time with this casting off business.)

In the end, they're allright. Well, except for the wavy-looking cuffs. If I knit him another pair I'll have to shorten the foot and do some research this bind-off issue. Or I could just start knitting socks cuff down. Or maybe I'll just blame my brother for not being able to stretch a sock over his foot.

PATTERN:Simple Rib taken from a vintage pattern book
YARN: Socks that Rock Lightweight in "Obsidian" colourway
NEEDLES: 2.25 clover bamboo dpns
Knit toe-up with a short-row toe and heel


Must ship these off to Dad now. Sorry for the delay Pops!