Thursday, February 28, 2008

Winter blues... I mean greys

It's still February? Sigh.

I think I officially have the winter blues. I actually found myself searching online for local suppliers of those special full spectrum lights. (You know, for S.A.D. )

Don't worry. I'm not about to run out for a Prozac prescription or anything. It's just all so... grey. Which brings us to my knitting:


Fascinating isn't it? I can see why the Yarn Harlot avoids knitting "unhappy" colours in winter. February is rough in the northern hemisphere, and this winter is shaping up to be the roughest in years. If this winter was a knitting pattern, it would read thusly:

Row 1: Big snowstorm, slight thaw, severe cold snap* repeat from *

For some sadistic reason I have restricted myself to knitting this grey cardigan and only this grey cardigan until it is absolutely, positively complete. Cruel, yet really, it's the best plan of action. I desperately want to start something new, and the only way that's going to happen is when this sweater is on my back. The only way this sweater will get on my back is if I refrain from casting on anything new. By knitdom come, thy will be done.

Luckily, Mr.Mailman is keeping my spirits up with his continual flow of delayed packages:


I finally got a yarn swift! Woo-hoo! No more yarn-wrangling with my knees! No more reluctant boyfriend assistance! I bought it with birthday moolah on e-Bay from this seller. I got a great deal, especially now that the US dollar is so crappy - tee-hee! I find it frustrating when packages get delayed at the border though. This one was actually opened:


I suppose I should feel comforted that Canadian customs agents open boxes that are approximately the same size and shape of firearms. I'd just like to hear the conversation that followed:

"Hmmm, yesiree Bob, that is certainly not a shotgun"

"Sure Hank, but what the hell is it?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Knit Lit

In an effort to drag out my birthday for as long as humanly possible, I'm very excited to report new birthday booty: Books!

Despite "family day", Canada Post was a go on Monday (so why did the LCBO have to close?). Look what the mailman dragged in!


Whee! The Knitters Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes, Twinkle's Weekend Knits by Wenlan Chia, Mr.Funky's Super Crochet Wonderful by Narumi Ogawa, and Interweave's Knitter's Companion by Vicki Square and . Whew! No doubt most of you either have these books, or have at least heard of them, but here's my take.

Mr.Funky: I bought this book sight unseen. Mmm, kind of wish I'd seen it first. While it has some nice patterns for toys it's not as exciting as I thought it would be.



I didn't realize it wasn't exclusively an amigurumi book. There are a few patterns for hats and scarves, most of which are well, just not for me.

Overall though, I think this book would be a good introduction to Japanese crochet. Because the book explains the Japanese charted style of crochet instructions (as well as giving you the standard English instructions), you could easily move on to Japanese patterns that have no English in them whatsoever. Good times!

Twinkle: Wenlan Chia strikes again! Attack of the chunky knits! (I had trouble finding pictures from this book on the interweb so I've posted some pics for your perusal here)



I have anxiously awaited the arrival of this book! For the most part, I prefer Big City Knits, but I think some of these designs might still find their way onto my needles. Most notably the "Nimbus" sweater:


Which I would totally wear with bikini bottoms (what?). Another contender:


I'm thinking I might knit a hybrid of the two. (There should be a term for that - a knittwo-way?) With Twinkle yarn lingering in my stash it's taking incredible strength of will not to cast something on immediately. (Must finish cardigan. Must finish cardigan...) As for the rest of the book, there's certainly a heck of a lot of scarves. Maybe that's the weekend part? Fast knits? For that reason it could be a great book for a beginner knitter. How cool would it be as a newbie knitter to whip up a designer scarf all lickety-split?

The Knitters Companion? Nothing much to say accept I should have bought it a long time ago. A collection of basic instructions and knitting info that's sure nice to have all in one place. Spiral binding, hard cover, compact size... genius.

Then we have (cue the choir of angels), the Knitters book of Yarn: When I first saw this book popping up on the blogisphere (or is that blog-o-sphere?), I was all "whatevs". A book just about yarn? Like a yarn textbook? Who cares? That's for nerds, man!

Then Flint Knits showed me the error or my ways. She displayed the results of her newly begotten yarn know-how with a totally fabulous hat. Intrigue set in. Why didn't I think of it before? The more you know about yarn, the better your knitting will be. Duh! I think it's a bit like cooking, really. You wouldn't substitute rice flour for wheat flour and expect your cake to turn out the same, would ya? Why would you do that with yarn? Guess I'm a officially a nerd now. (Like I wasn't waving the geek flag before)

So, yeah, I got the book. And surprise to me - patterns!

(Why am I all horny for fancy mittens this days?)

Another surprise to me will be the fifth book I ordered. I know I ordered five, and one is delayed. I can't remember what it is, and even though I could easily look it up, I'm not gonna. There's an upside to my pea-sized memory as I can keep secrets even from myself. I can't wait for old-age dementia to set in. It should be a blast!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Gretel: the return

The name "Gretel" should conjure up thoughts of fairytales right? So why is it I always think of the Babes in Toyland song? I guess I'm just a product of my generation. The generation of that survived the great Cabbage patch debacle of '83, the NKOTB pandamonium of '89 and mourned the loss of Kurt in '94. (I suppose my recent birthday is making me feel nostalgic. That and I hear grunge is making a comeback. Dust off your flannel and combat boots! ***Shudder***)

Thanks to Ysolda Teague, a lovely cabled beret has replaced Kat Bjelland when I think of "Gretel".

Gretel the second is complete!



PATTERN:
Gretel by Ysolda Teague
YARN: Vermont Organic Fiber Company O-Wool classic in colour #6402 (just a smidge over one skein)
NEEDLES: 3.75mm & 4.5mm Denise cirulars / random aluminum dpns
NOTES/MODIFICATIONS: Made the "regular" fit version, no modifications



I'm totally in love with Gretel number two. To quote "Tracy Jordan" from 30 Rock, "I love it so much, I wanna take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant."


I love the stitch definition:


I love the tubular cast-on that I finally mastered:


I love the colour that I used to hate but now I love because it reminds me of butternut squash and velour pullovers my Dad wore in the 70's.



Sorry, Gretel the first. I know you were a faithful travel companion, but sometimes you just have to do something twice to get it right. Um, like, going to the yarn store twice because I underestimated the yardage this baby would eat up. Lord knows I can't enter Lettuce Knit without buying at least one more item than intended:


I think my Gretel II leavins' will co-mingle nicely with this plum colour in a pair of these. Ready, Set, Knit is lighting a fire under my tush to finally tackle my first colour-work project. I'm going to need all the help I can get!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oh-O-Wool

Dang-yo!

One skein of O-Wool does not a Gretel make:


So close! (For the record, I think I would have enough for the "fitted" version. I'm making the "regular"model. The "slouchy?" Forggeddaboudit!)

Darn, I guess that means I'll have to go back to the yarn store. What a shame. I hate yarn stores. Of course, I could just work on all of the other projects I have going on:


Does everyone else have a knitting box/bag/basket that doth runneth over?

I thought so.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

30 something

It's the end of an era folks - I TURNED 30!!!


(Nice to see my sense of humour has still not matured past the age of ten.)

To celebrate my first foray into the dirty thirties, me and my peeps went here to see her:



Whee! There's nothing better than seeing one of your idols perform, then hitting the slots wearing a plastic tiara:

(That's my big bro on the left)

Oh wait, it does get better Cara gave me this:



The fake-a-gamo bag! The crazy woman even lined it!



My first "designer" bag. I'm touched, as the only people who have ever knit for me in the past are relatives. (Why don't more knitters knit for other knitters?) This baby will definitely be getting some serious use-age.

(Thanks for the polaroids Jen! )

And thanks to the "awesome" casino bus taking twice as long as anticipated, I got a lot of knitting time in. We were running late so I knit fast. Knitting faster makes the bus go faster right?

***Note yarn on lap***

When we finally reached the casino and were about to explode with anticipation waiting for the bus-load of gamblers to disembark, I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see an older woman who told me; "I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you're knitting! My husband and I were just saying that we thought you didn't look like that kind of person who knits. And your wool matches your tights!"

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chasing my Swallowtail

Okay, so it's snowing again, but at the risk of having this turn into a weather blog (how boring would that be?), I shall say no more.

Let's take a look at an F.O.! After a long and tedious labour of love, I finished the Swallowtail shawl for my Mum:


I wanted to finish it in time for her birthday, so the weekend before, with one chart to go, I sat down at the kitchen table, made a pot of coffee and hunkered down. By sundown I was binding off. (Sounds dramatic, but remember sundown is about 5 o'clock this time of year).



The sun was going down, and I was binding off. And binding off. And binding off... Finishing that last chart I felt like a hero. I had climbed Everest! I had made it to the top! Unfortunately, after planting your flag at the peak, you eventually have to make your way back down the mountainside. My descent: 323 stitches. Gaah!

Then came the blocking. After trying to somehow mathematically make the edges even and symmetrical, I gave up and eyeballed it:


Close enough, right?
Must remember to purchase more pins before embarking on another shawl project:



After the miracle of the soak-and-pin, I had this:


(Sorry for the crap photos. Tight deadlines + no sunlight does not a pretty picture make.)



I overheard someone in a yarn store say they had knit this shawl in two evenings. TWO FREAKIN' NIGHTS. This wasn't some well seasoned, silver-haired knitter either. (Back in my bartending days I would have asked her for I.D.) Therefore, I think she was either a) a big fat liar, or b) some kind of child prodigy. Me? It took about a month.




PATTERN:
The Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits Fall 2006
YARN:
School Products hand-dyed cashmere blend (50% merino, 30% silk, 20% cashmere)
NEEDLES:3.75mm Denise Interchangeables
NOTES/MODIFICATIONS: Purl 5 together? Gaah! I used a dpn a couple of sizes smaller to work this nearly impossible manouever. I had originally intended to buy some addi lace needles for this project, but anxious to get started, I cast on with my Denises. Bad move. After knitting a fair chunk I didn't want to change needles and risk wonky gauge issues (tread lightly; beware the wrath of the almighty Gauge!). I would never attempt to knit lace with these needles again! The yarn snagged on the join, the tip was too blunt for all the shcmancy moves. I really just should have switched anyway, what was I thinking?

I did not have fun knitting this project. It was tedious and I made many, many mistakes. There was a lot of ripping back (not easy with lace). Without a lot of counting, lifelines, and more stitch markers than I care to think about, I never would have made it through.

Of course, after hearing my Mum say things like "I can't figure out how you ever knitted this!" and "It's so warm yet so light!" all the frustration disappeared. For Mum? It was worth it. Happy Birthday Mum!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Snow Daze and Yarn play..z

Um, like what's with all the snow?



And what's with people taking their bikes out in February?



Last night we had snowstorm number three (?) of the season (the Yarn Harlot has documented it much better than I). I heard there was as much as 40 cm that fell overnight. 40cm! That's like... four gauge swatches!

Speaking of swatches, I knit this lovely little monstrosity last night:



No, it's not some new design gone horribly awry. I attended February's Knitty's Yarn Round-table event, or as I like to call it: Yarn-Tasting. Mmmm, yarn. It was hosted by the lovely ladies at Toronto's shiny new yarn shop The Purple Purl. It was my first time at the 'Purl, and undoubtably not my last. Cozy chairs, yummy desserts, new and exotic yarn. *sigh* It's a wonder anyone left, what with the weather and all.

In good form, I brought my camera, and in true form, failed to take any pictures whatsoever. I assure you it was well documented, just not by me. At the risk of breaching some kind of Knitty confidentiality agreement, I won't tell you which yarns were "tasted". But I will show you my little souvenirs:



Looks like Blythe will be getting some fancy new sweaters!

In the meantime, I will anxiously await the next thaw so I can open my back door and rescue the garbage on my patio:



Unattainable refuse:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ten Points of Total Miscellany

1: You like me:









1:
I like you:

- Nutritionista
- Reckless Glue
- Hey Awesome
- Cosmicpluto
- Ysolda
- Flint Knits
- Whistlepea Knits
- Just Breathe
- Superstarra-ville
- Craft Pirate

3:
Knitters in the news:





















4:
Check out how famous I am here.

5: We had a big snowstorm:

So I put on these:



...and took a walk through this:



By the evening my street looked like this:



That didn't keep me and the bf from taking advantage of this. We had some schmancy food here Yum!

On the way home I couldn't resist a photo session with these guys:



6: I finally finished knitting my Mum's birthday present. Details soon!

7:
As a reward for my diligent gift knitting, I cast on another Gretel Beret:



The yarn is O-Wool and the stitch definition is go-juss. (Plus, the colour reminds me of a velour pullover my Dad had when I was little.)

8:
My fabulous friend Jenny gave me a challenge to re-create her favourite (and now a little too worn for wear) hat:



I think it will be a snap.



9.Don't forget to get yer downward dog on 'cause it's World Yoga Day 2008. Namaste.

10:
I have exactly one week left to enjoy my twenties. Any suggestions?