Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Wrap

Hey guys! You still there? I know it's been a long time. I'll try to make up for lost time with lots 'o knitting! It's a holiday wrap... not to be confused with holiday rap.

This year I decided to only knit for those that would truly appreciate a handmade gift. Sounds like common sense right? Well, maybe if you're a sane and rational person, but I whole-heartedly refuse to behave in either fashion. After years of gifting hand knits to those that would rather receive a Tim Hortons gift card, it took incredible restraint to slash my knit -gift list to nearly nuthin'. In the end, it saved me both time and heartache. Is there anything worse than sweating over a hand-made gift that barely gets a thanks? I'd rather spend my time knitting extra special things for extra special people!

Special person #1: Mum!

Mums are hard-wired to love any gift crafted by their children. It would have been a lot easier to
make her a macaroni necklace but these socks will do a better job of keeping her feet toasty.

Other Mums!

The b.f.'s mum, Maggi was gifted a pair of the same socks. Socks so nice I knit 'em twice! Perhaps I should have included instructions to wear them on your feet. Har-har!


This cabled pillow I knit way back when, has finally found it's home at my brothers house. The sad array of pillows on my own couch solidifies the fact that I knit many more nice things for others than I do myself. At least I can rest soundly knowing my bro can dispose of the sad, bedraggled pillow I knit him years ago as a less experienced knitter. ( I should have taken a picture of that old beast, but trust me; it's a atrocious.)

There wasn't just knitting under the 'ole tree this year either - we had the raw goods too!

My Mum fell in love with Patons Silk Bamboo at her local yarn store and picked up a few balls with no particular plan. She ended up deciding to make a granny square blanket and just buy more yarn as she went along. (I think Mum prefers fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants projects to meticulously planned ones.) With my Patons blog connections I procured enough yarn to keep her little hands busy all during the holidays. Yay!

With Mum re-stocked in the yarn department it was time to fill a few holes in my stash.

You give some yarn, you get some yarn. Mum picked me up some Noro and a great cherry red bag to put it in! She crocheted, and I spent a lot of time curled up on a sheepskin knitting a last minute gift:

More on that gift later. I hope you all had a great Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Solstice/Whatever!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Do these needles make my socks look fat?

There are socks on my needles... and I'm loving it.

"Socks you say? But I thought you were a self-proclaimed un-sock knitter?"

"I know, right?"

You see, there is just too much to love about these socks to deny them knitting. For one, they are for my Mum. I knit her 'slipper socks' a couple of years ago and she wore them so much she wore them out! It's high time I replaced them. Mums are always good gift recipients, and being a knitter, she is at the top of the knit-gift recipient list. (Yes, that means I'm kicking the x-mas knitting into high gear)

Mmm, yeah okay, they don't look so good when they don't fit.
My mum's feet are two sizes bigger than mine, so it should work out okay.

What else is so great about these puppies?

Big needles! None of that teeny tiny fingering-weight-knit-on toothpicks for me! Go big or go home! And last but not least; the yarn.

Squishy soft merino from Misti Alpaca. It's not the most popular yarn out there, but I think it's perfect for this project (the label says 'worsted' but it's really more like an aran). Best of all - this here yarn is on sale at ye olde yarn hut - and Webs. Whee!

I might just have to knit more than one pair!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

That's a wrap!

At last!

Knit to the last drop, I finally finished my entrelac wrap/giant scarf.

Pattern: Just entrelac. I used this tutorial from Interweave, doubling the cast-on number. Add a little fringe and voila!
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in #35 Frank Ochre (4 skeins)
Finished Size approx: 15" wide by 60" long (excluding fringe)
Notes: Before I started the last skein, I cut my fringe and set it aside so I could knit until I ran out of yarn. And boy did I cut it close! I intended on adding a reverse single crochet border along the long sides to neaten the edges but didn't have enough yarn left. Ah well, I'll live.

Don't you find the knits that are the biggest slog end up being your favourites? I'm totally in love with this thing! So soft and smooshy! So big and cozy! So frank-y ochre-y!

Mother nature now has my permission to turn down the heat.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Confidentialy yours

Dude, where's my blog? As much as I told myself I could keep up Knitteroo in the midst of everything else going on in my life, I'm finally willing to admit defeat. It turns out, nothing kills a knitting blog quicker than gainful employment in the knitting industry. Blargh!

Ladies and gents, it is not for lack of knitterly content that I have abandoned you, if anything, I have twice as much to talk about! Unfortunately, there's this little thing called a "confidentiality agreement". Despite living and breathing knitting, I can't really tell you about it unless it has nothing to do with my job. Need I say, blargh?!?

This is about all I've got to show for non-work related knitting:

The same project I began at the cottage in August! Okay, so three whole skeins of Malabrigo is nothing to sneeze at, but I still have one more skein to go! And yeah, I fringed one end already to allow for maximum yarn usage. This is a big 'ole marathon of knitting, but it's going to be SO fantastic to wrap this merino around my neck when I cross the finish line!

I hope you don't think I'm complaining - far from it! I think in the new year I will have more time to spend on "unconfidential" knitting and I'll be thrilled to tell you all about it. In the meantime, please forgive my sporadic posts, and don't forget you can find me once a week on the Patons blog (as "Juliaknits"). I'll be back, just do like Journey and Don't stop Believin'!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Statement Necklace

Recently, my wonderful and talented friend Cindy came to visit. Cindy, the fabulous jewelery designer behind M.O.T.H. Metier , was in town for a bead trade show. Seeing her excitedly pouring over her strands of garnets and bags of pendants was all too familiar. Ever been to a fibre festival? A big sale at a yarn store? I knew exactly how she felt; anxious to use every new purchase immediately!

While a bead doesn't light my fire quite the same way a fine cashmere does, I have been known to dabble in beadery. My bulletin board always has at least one necklace or bracelet idea tacked up. With Cindy's contagious enthusiasm, I dusted off my box-o-beads and gathered my inspiration.

Inpiration #1:

Inspiration #2:

I love these earrings, but the weight of them makes
me feel like they're pulling my ears off!

After couple of hours of wrestling with pliers and jump rings I eventually had this:

I heart colour.

If you read fashion magazines you've probably heard the term 'statement necklace' . Statement is exactly what I had in mind when I made this piece though I have to laugh at the thought of jewelry literally making a statement. What does your necklace say Sara? "Oh, it says pro universal health care system!". How about you, Laura? "Mine says stop clear cutting our forests!"

Flava Flav's necklace says; "It's ten to twelve!"

My necklace says; "I match your whole wardrobe!"

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ye Olde Tyme Knitting: Anatomical Afghans

So, it's come to this. My new job is encroaching on my 'personal' knitting, and without knitting, well, the blog lies fallow. That is, unless I plant a new crop of yarny seeds! From now on, if I don't have any knitting to blog about, I'm going to pick something from my ever-growing collection of vintage patterns and write a little bit about that. (At least, that's the plan.) So without further ado, let Ye Olde Tyme Knitting begin!

Here's a little something I picked up this summer:

The pattern is called "Afro Afghan and Wall Plaque.
"Capture the African beat on your wall or as a striking afghan..."

Now that afghan on the right... and the wall remind you of anything? Me? It calls to mind a particular scene from the Big Lebowski:
Maude Lebowski: Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski?

The Dude: Uh, is that what this is a picture of?

Maude Lebowski: In a sense, yes. My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men. The word itself makes some men uncomfortable. Vagina.

The Dude: Oh yeah?

Maude Lebowski: Yes, they don't like hearing it and find it difficult to say whereas without batting an eye a man will refer to his dick or his rod or his Johnson.

The Dude: Johnson?

You get the picture. Just don't hang that particular crocheted picture on your wall please.

But hey - I'm not writing this to just laugh at the fashion of yesteryear. That's been done. Besides, we've all worn stuff in the past we regret, right? (Pleated jeans anyone?) It's easy to dismiss vintage patterns as dated and silly, but sometimes you just need to get past the front cover. The back cover of this same booklet looks like this:

The blanket on the left? Awesome! I love the colour combo! And here I thought I was the best thing to be born of the seventies!

Friday, August 28, 2009

How much is that tree?

So we've established you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl, right? I think perhaps the opposite is also true, as this girl was taken out of the city, full of boutiques and shopping malls and still managed to flex her spending power among the trees and lakes.

My little country spend-a-thon began visiting the 'rents in my hometown. I was lucky enough to land there on a Saturday for the town farmers market where lurking among the prize winning zucchinis and home made jam, I discovered a table full of crochet.

A lovely lady was selling her hand crafted wares, including teflon pot scrubbers. Say what? Crocheting with teflon? Why ever would one want to do such a thing? (She assured me she wore gloves.) Her prices were far too low for that kind of torture. I picked up a few granny-square dish cloths, you know, just to support my peeps.

Next up? I hit every thrift store in town...

A whole set of matching hotel ware from the 60's!

...and then every thrift store in every neighbouring town. He-heh! I won't bore you every little chotchkie I picked up, but here's the crafty business:

Button haul '09! I believe the haul of '09 is much better than button haul '08. I couldn't resist sorting them the minute we got back to the cottage.

Is it weird that my idea of a good time is relaxing with a tray of buttons and a glass of wine?

I also picked up a whole whack of vintage knitting and crochet patterns:

I'm amassing quite a library of these. I especially like the older ones:

I'm thinking of doing a regular once-a-week-ish post featuring vintage patterns. They really pack a lot of entertainment value! Besides, I think my knitting news might be a little bland in the next couple of weeks.

Yup, still entrelac. Still yellow. Slightly longer. This one may take a while.

See? I can support consumerism anywhere! Who needs malls when you've got farmers markets and charity shops?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm back from two fantastic weeks out here:

You can read about the canoe knitting on the "other blog"

Where's here? The middle of nowhere and that's how I like it! It might be quite some time before I can afford the luxury of two weeks off again! There's a lot to catch you up on, so let's make this the catch-all of random cottage happenings, shall we?

First up? NAY-chur!

You just don't see too many mushrooms growing in downtown Toronto. If you did, you can be sure you'd want to stay as far away from them as possible. It's amazing how things that are quite unacceptable in the city, are totally no biggie in the woods. Like this:

Yes, that's poop behind him. Do mice just poop constantly?

This poor little guy got stuck in the bottom of a bowl (that will teach us to do our dishes more promptly). We found him running in place frantically trying to get up the slippery wet side.

After a few minutes of pointing and laughing (and picture-taking) I decided to stop being a cruel city gal and release the country mouse from his ceramic prison. The mice weren't really so much of a problem but the chipmunks on the other hand...

Those little buggers were relentless! Fortunate for them, they're so darn cute it's hard to get angry when they get into your food. Case in point: One morning the b.f. woke up to see a chipmunk run out from inside my moccasin (awh!). Later we discovered the little guy had broken into our bag of rice stored the grains in my shoe (again, awh!). Why would a he bring the rice from the kitchen to my shoe? Chipmunk logic I guess. I don't expect to understand.

It wasn't all rodents, thank goodness. Our cottage rental also appeared to include a dog.

She just ran out of the woods one day startling the be-jesus out of us. Later we saw her swim out to another dock across the lake (it's a really small lake). I dubbed her 'Possibly Layla" as one morning I heard someone call out "Layla!" to a barking dog. She would have been "Definitely Layla" but she only responded to this name about fifty percent of the time. This proves she is either a) Not named Layla, b) named something that merely sounds like Layla or c) is named Layla, but is not very obedient. Regardless of name, she visited often and it was nice to have her company.

Apart from the flora and fauna, you can bet there was some knitting. Turns out mosquitoes like Malabrigo almost as much as I do:

Do mosquitoes count as fauna?

I don't think I could face the winter without that lovely sunshine-y merino wrapped around my neck. I decided to give entrelac a go and printed out this great tutorial before I left. Then using this as a guide, I doubled the cast-on number to give me something more like a wrap/stole than a scarf. I think it's going to work, but it's going to take a heck of a lot of yarn - especially when I'm thinking fringe!

Next post I'll tell you what I bought. Leave it to me to find a way to shop in the middle of nowhere!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Yesterday marked my last day as an employee at Romni Wools.

No, I wasn't fired for pilfering cashmere! What have you heard?!?

Starting at the end of the month, I will be beginning a new job at a yarn company. Whee! Yes, if Romni was 'Yarniversity', I suppose I am now working on my masters degree. (Would that make sheep farming a PHD?). I'm gonna miss 'ye olde yarn hut', but you can bet I'll be visiting! My fellow employees sent me off with some gorgeous flowers, and naturally, I couldn't leave without buying myself some yarn. That yellow stuff up there in the corner? Three skeins of Malabrigo worsted (mmmmmmalibrigo) in "Frank Ochre". A colour not for the faint of heart, but you can bet my ticker is in fine shape!

Not only am I leaving a job, but I'll be leaving town for couple of weeks. (Again - Whee!) Two glorious weeks at a cottage in the middle of nowhere. I can't wait! I've spent far too much time fretting over what knitting to bring. What if I change my mind? What if I get bored of my projecst? Omigod, what if I run out of yarn? There aren't any yarn stores in the middle of nowhere! Can't I just bring my whole stash? Should I learn how to sheer a sheep just in case?

Here's the list as it stands now (we'll see what fits in the car!)

The definites:

- My 'other blog' project (It's a must. Ob-blog-gational knitting - har-har!)
- My new malabrigo (duh) to make an entrelac scarf (new skill to learn!)

The probablies:

- A sweater project I've been meaning to knit forever (with Rowan felted tweed)
- Knitty's aeolian shawl with my turquoise cone yarn (it's just a small cone)

The "I should probably leave at home's":

- Lopi socks (to line my wellies for winter)
- A freeform crochet scarf of my own design (It would mean six more skeins of yarn to pack!)

Off, to pack, but I've got one last FO for you:

I feel guilty enough leaving a sick cat behind while I go on vacation (don't worry, he has a sitter). The least I can do is leave him with a new place to sleep!

Pattern: Straight from my noggin'
Yarn: Drops Alaska left over from my Owl sweater (2-3 skeins I think)
Hook: 5mm

See you in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Love labours

Out of the three projects I've been working on lately, exactly three are for other people. What gives? Am I Santa Claus or something? Ghandi? Mother Theresa? Alas, it's not all selfless giving, though feel free to build a temple in my honour. The first project is something I've been meaning to do for months:

The original Jenny cloche, frogged and re-knit smaller. I wrote the pattern for two sizes, and Jenny (the girl, not the hat) was given the large-size prototype when a small would have been a better fit. Considering the hat knits up so quick and is named after her for chrissake... I probably should have got around to this a lot sooner. Of course, now I have to get around to giving it to her...

And who are these lovely new models?

These fantastic plastic ladies have moved in after losing their positions as wig models in Detroit. Long story... the recession..., you know what I'm talking about. I especially like the snooty look on Miss Thang here:

The models were gifts from my main man, so it was only fair I got around to finishing up something I started for him, in , oh... December.

Please excuse crap photo. The recipient is not around to model
and black knitting is next to impossible to photograph!

Okay, so it's not much to look at, but that there is what you'll find in the dictionary if you look up "labour of love".

Labour of Love: (ley-ber uhv luhv): noun
A hand-knit 1x1 rib, black, laceweight 100% cashmere beanie.

Started for Christmas, finished for an August birthday. My mother Theresa-like status is sinking by the minute.

But wait!

A big circle of double crochet, soon to be a bed for my kitty Teddy. Teddy is not well and I'm sure he could use a nice place to sleep. I won't get into the details, but he's got a hyper-thyroid condition. Crochet can totally cure that, right?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

All thumbs


Bird in Hand mittens by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: O-Wool Classic in 'plum' and 'saffron'
Needles: 2.75mm

Much like the movie Titanic these mittens have serious continuity issues. I think the problem lies in my almost complete inability to choose both the yarn and pattern for a project at the same time. The saffron-coloured O-wool I used for the mittens was purchased to knit a Gretel beret. I had so much leftover after knitting the hat, I decided to pick up a contrasting colour and try my hand (ha!) at some some mittens. Almost a full year later, I cast on. Six months after that, I cast off.

The mittens turned out surprisingly large. I knit the second size up, which meant knitting 'worsted weight' with drastically smaller needles than recommended. Talk about some uptight knitting! No wonder I abandoned the project for so long. Why would I want to work on these tight-ass mittens that were going to be too big to wear anyway? Combine that with trying to teach myself two-hand fair isle? Sheesh!

I figured the only way I would finish these was to stop torturing myself and just knit my regular (right hand all the time) style. It drastically improved my tension both knitterly and psychologically . You can really see on inside of the second mitten where I switched knitting styles just before the thumb!

I conquered one issue sure enough, but why were my mittens so big? I was beginning to think that the pattern just ran on the large side when I made a startling discovery.

O-Wool classic is not worsted weight yarn.

Palm of hand slapped firmly to forehead. I have no clue what led me to believe this yarn was worsted weight. The label clearly states the gauge as 16-18 sts to 10cm on a 5 to 5.5mm needle. I knit this stuff on 2.75mm's! It's amazing I've retained the ability to move my fingers!

SO... apart from the size issue, sloppy first-time stranding, the flower I forgot to knit in the palm chart of the right mitten, the wrong thumb chart I used on the left mitten, and forgetting to embroider the bird details all-together? Totally perfect mittens.