A blog about fibre, wine, and all things cozy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy April Fools! 2kcbwday5

Have you seen this Knitwear?

This beautiful piece of knitware has been missing since that really cold day in February 2010 when it was snatched directly from the owners home.
The owner is quoted as saying "it was like a nightmare come true. I came home from my overnight shift at the hotel and wanted to curl up with the shawl that my niece made me and that's when I discovered that it was gone."
It is believed that the owners mother, the knitter's Grandmother, is directly responsible for the theft.

If you or any other knitter has infromation about this shawl, please send your tips to the Missing Knitware Hotline at 800.555.knit

One Clapotis in Kigou ppm, 3 skeins
more details on the event can be found here

Where are they now? 2kcbwday4

Once upon a time there were two gnomes names Rupert and Gnomie. In the beginning they were nothing more then a pile of wool and stuffing, some needles and a pattern. But, the maker loved the gnomes even before they were created and with her steady hands and knitting skills the two gnomes were created and the maker was happy.

The older of the two gnomes, Rupert, was immeditaly snatched up by the makers Husband and he become Rupert's Keeper. Rupert followed his keeper to work to keep him company while he was away from the desk and filling in for the company's driver. This gave Rup many exciting days of watching the world go by through the window of the truck. He learned much about Canada and even become familiar with a great Canadian icon, Tim Hortens.  Rupert loved it when his keeper stopped for coffee and the cab of the truck was filled with with the pleasant smell and hoped one day to try some of his own. After a few months, a new driver was found and Rupert and his keeper returned indoors. Shortly after that, Rupert returned to the home of the maker as the keeper was concerned about leaving him alone in the warehouse everynight due to the cold, the mice, and the workers who may not treat him as well as they should. He now sitting happily by the door keeping a watchful eye on his maker and keeper and soaks in all the company of the many people who pass through thier home.

Gnomie is much loved by his keeper. Togther they lead an exciting life of adventure killing dragons and murlocs and alien races. Gnomie learns much about these far away places and when he has brought his keeper luck, he is sometimes rewarded with sip of his keepers favourite whiskey. Gnomie is a constant companion during any time his keeper spends on the computer for either work or play amd thus Gnomie has learned much about the working of the computer world and contiues to improve his skills. One day he hopes to be an editor on Ravelry.

Both Gnomes are happy and loved and this pleases the maker. She smiles when she thinks of how such a small gnome has brought about such a large amount of joy.       

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1UP 2kcbwday2

I've been struggling with this entry. How do you make the skills that you've learned interesting to read about. And, then while I was working on a shawl for my Nan, it struck me.  I've done steeking. 

 That's right, I have learned how to purposely cut up my knitting. Even worse, I learned how to steek when I was brutally hung over. (Vodka is very , very bad and should never be consumed. Apparently 3 martinis are all it takes and believe me, not worth the cost of admission.) So there I was in my steeking class with my BFF and the owner of the store and my friend Glenna from Knitting to Stay Sane who is really a Steeking Queen, still going through withdrawl and not sure that I could see straight let alone take a pair of scissors to my colour-work. (Thankfully, we had Mimosa to go with the yummy breakfast food we had all brought with us. Hair of the dog was a really good thing that morning.) And then a pair of scissors are thrust into my hands and I was forced to cut up my own knitting. 
Arm Hole after steeking

 I wanted to throw up, for more than one reason. So I took a deep breath and cut. And you know what? My knitting did not explode into a tangled unravelled mess. It stayed right were I put it. It really stayed. I was shocked and thrilled and learned that there is great value in being able to steek your work. I learned how to steek with a crocheted edge and how to make a seam with a sewing machine. I learned how to make arm holes and most importantly, learned that steeking wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Arm hole before steeking
Will I ever start using this technique in my day to day knitting? Probably not. Am I really happy that I learned a skill that I found super challenging and frankly downright terrifying? One Hundred percent. I recommend that at least once you give it a try. It's worth the effort. Just for the love of God, stay the hell away from the vodka before you do.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns 2kcbwday1

Likes and dislikes are such a personal thing. Even more so when it comes to yarn. Sometimes, you get a yarn that is almost universally adored, except for that one person who just isn’t into it. Or you're that one person who adores it while most knitters wouldn't touch it with a ten foot knitting needle.

For me, it's very easy to forget the individual brand of yarn that I just don't like because I might knit with them once and never touch them again. If any of my long time knitting friends warn me that a yarn is just awful, I'm not too keen to run out and buy it. And, even though I rarely knit swatches in my personal knitting life, I do do all the swatch knitting for Knitty.com so I get to test drive a bunch of different yarns before spending money of them.

But with all that in mind, you know what I do dislike? ...cotton. Ugh! I will knit with it, I have some in my stash, but UGH!!!! I hate the way it disintegrates in my hands when I knit with it, and the way it sticks to the needles once my hands warm up. It splits, I get frustrated. To add to my disdain the one brand of cotton that I could bear the thought of knitting with was Mission Falls aaaaannnndddd now they're gone. (I'm not sure how big a deal that was outside of Ontario, but there was great mourning for the loss of them here.) Fortunately more and more companies are producing Eco-friendly yarn, so that will stop me from going on a 20 page tirade about the environmental impacts of cotton production. But really, I have yet to find a cotton that I want to pick up and put to my cheek, or throw myself into the middle of a pile of a roll around in. (I wouldn't want to have to pick all those little fibres off my clothes.) It just doesn't work for me. I want to like cotton. I try to like cotton. But alas, I just don't like knitting with it.

Leave it to Reever
So what do I like knitting with? Indigodragonfly yarn. It's that simple. If a yarn thief ever broke into my stash, I would let them take it all, expect for my Indigodragonfly yarns. It's really just the whole package that Kim presents. First, her colourways are stunning. Even the "mistakes" are beautiful. I recently bought two skeins of "Leave it to Reaver" because they were unrepeatable and I loved them. (Though I did have to negotiate with another knitter. She took the lace weight and I bought the Merino Sock.) The names she, or just as often her fiance, gives the colourways are witty and smart and memorable. (That one above is a FireFly reference.) I can always remember the name of the yarn I am knitting with if it's hers. Really how much fun is it to say "oh this is Tardis or yes this is Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer." Kim is very picky about the bases that she uses for her yarn so not only do you get a beautiful dye job, you also get a good yarn. I do in fact own "When I Bit Into Him I Tasted the Ocean," (that's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference, for those of you that are keeping track) in three different weights. (I just had to.) And she's custom dying it for me in a fourth weight. Oh yeah, did I mention she custom dyes yarn? Okay, at this point I have to stop myself from going on for days about how much I love this yarn. But I think you get the point.

And, if anyone out there knows a good cotton, pass the name on to me. I'd love to give it a try.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What I really like......

 You know what I like about knitting? What I really truly love about knitting? That it can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be. You can find a mindless project that will be a pure meditative experience or some crazy lace that will keep you challenged and possibly close to tears.

But you know what will never happen with your knitting? You will never wake up in the morning to discover that your knitting got sick over night and is now one step away from being a glorified door stopper. You will never pour yourself a cup of coffee and think, damn it!  Now I have to figure out how I to get all the important bits of information out of this piece of knitting before I frog it back to the beginning and start all over again. Or even worse, I may have to pay someone to rip my knitting out for me and then have to start all over again from scratch. I am pretty damn sure that will never happen with my knitting.

Computers, well clearly that's another story all together. I am currently typing this Safe Mode, and then emailing to myself, and then cutting and pasting it to my blog......at some point. It's Friday, hopefully it will be fixed soon.

Update:  It's Saturday.  The old operating system is gone and a fresh version of the same thing installed.  Thank god I write my passwords down, 'cause it's all gone.  But, I have a computer again so I'm not complaining all that much.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We're Here to Stay

I am very lucky to live in a city that has embraced knitting and knitters. There is almost nothing that I can't find in this city, and if I am really stuck on something, it's pretty much a guarantee that there is someone who will be able to help me. I see people knitting on transit, in parks, coffee shops and pubs. I myself have knit in lines for movies and more than once have seen other people doing the same. There are new knitters just starting to test out the waters and veterans doing lace. There are about ½ dozen knitting stores that I can choose from, and while I have my favourites all of them serve the community and it increases our opportunity for knitting diversity. We can connect online with knitters from all over the world thanks to Ravelry and we can order yarns from all over the world thanks to the internet. There are tons of ways to learn how to knit or learn a new technique out there, both in book and online format, and it's increasingly common to hear a knitter say “there's an app for that”. All over the place in my city and others, stitch and bitch groups pop up with stunning regularity. The Yarn Harlot is an internationally known knitter whose books and wit make her a favourite among knitters, (and their partners and family members).

So my question is this; Why does the media treat knitting like it's the new exciting fad? I just don't get it. One of my LYSs has been featured on T.V. a couple of times. Though there was a gap of well over a year between the two airings, the report still made them sound like they were pioneers in a completely new thing. Magazines both paper and online seem unable to report about stores and knitting without being in awe that it actually happens and that there is an entire knitting community out there. (Just for the record, everything I've ever read or watched has always been positive, it just stuns me that the general media still seems to think that knitting is “new.”) It's almost like knitting has been this well kept secret tucked away behind closed doors and finally, us knitters are brave enough to step out and show our not so dirty little secret to the world. Uh-huh.

While I have to admit that the new embrace of the pastime has certainly made knitting a lot more interesting, knitting has been around for hundreds of years. It's not new. It's not always been the “fashionable” thing to do, but it's always been there and it always will be. I am glad that the media has helped to fuel a knitting-friendly environment and that they always seem to be nice to both individual knitters and the community as a whole, but we are not a novelty! The same number of people taking up naked swimming with the sharks as there are knitters, now that might be something to report on. As for knitters, we are happy to be the “feel good story” when it's needed, just please, get over your shock. We really aren't new.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Snap Shots

It's no secret that I am attempting to organize my stash this year.  This means shopping in my own yarn store and creating finished items that I have been longing for. I took my first big step at doing this by going through the ends that have accumulated over the years. I have kept my ends with the best intention of doing something with them, but finally had to admit that it was never going to happen and decided to sort through them. Some things got tossed, some got offered to friends, and some are still sitting with an undecided question mark over them, but they will not go back into my stash.

Horrid brown scarf in the middle
What amused me while I was sorting, was realizing that with very few exceptions, I was able to recall exactly what each yarn had been used for. I could pick something up and say "that was the pair of gloves I made for so and so. Or there's the end of the hideous brown scarf that Sean loves and wears proudly, and cringe every time I see it." (I have since made him a much nicer scarf, that I do actually like.) Some even come with a little bit of knitting wisdom. The aforementioned horrid brown yarn for example. I learned with that project, that it is important to feel the love when you knit something 'cause if you don't have it while you are knitting, it will never appear.
Each little ball is a snap shot of part of my knitting history. My husband came home, and pointed to a particle set of ends and said, “there's the first sweater you made me.” At that point my “type A personality” kicked in and I thought, maybe I really will do something with this pile of stuff. Maybe getting rid of these ends is a bad idea." Then I took out my phone and took a picture and decided the ends need to be nothing more then a physical snap shot. It certainly takes up a lot less space.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Few Facts

After downloading and printing a pattern from Knitty yesterday, I turned to my husband and said that I had no idea what people did before Ravelry and Knitty since both have been around for almost all of my knitting life. So I thought I'd find out. Here are a few little facts.

  • Knitting, as defined by Wiktionary, is "Combining a piece of thread with two needles into a piece of fabric." The word is derived from knot, thought to originate from the Dutch verb knutten, which is similar to the Old English cnyttan, to knot.
  • It is commonly believed that knitting started in the Middle East and Egypt can claim having the first known examples of true knitted garments, brightly coloured socks.
  • In the 1400's knitting was a man's game. Guilds were formed and knitting was a respected profession for the boys only.
  • Fair Isle is named after a tiny island in the north of Scotland.
  • Apparently the way in which we knit is affected by world wars. During WWII Continental knitting fell out of favour due to it's German origins.
  • You can knit with the following: wool, angora, llama, alpaca, camel, dog, cat, yak, qiviut, cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, yarn with milk proteins, jute, nettle (surprisingly soft), raffia, yucca, coconut husk, banana leaves (very, very stretchy), soy, and corn (knits a lot like cotton.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I am proud to present my first ever Cookie A socks! These socks represent a breakthrough of the Cookie A barrier. I never thought that I would make anything by this designer. Let me make it clear, I have her books. I love her designs. Looking at them puts me in something resembling a trance, and I can flip through the pages staring at the glossy photos for an almost endless length of time. Unfortunately, her patterns have always scared the heck out of me. The same lacy, flowy, parts of her socks, the part with the beautiful spirals or cabling, the parts that make me think, “my god those are gorgeous I would love to have a pair of those,” are also the same things that make me want to go screaming into the night when I think about knitting them. I had a failed attempt with Valia a while back. I cast-on and knit the first 10 or so rounds and then they got tossed into the knitting basket where they sat untouched until I frogged them last month. I decided that maybe I was taking the wrong approach to the whole Cookie A thing. I decided to start simpler. I went through her designs until I found a pair of socks that would build my confidence as opposed to causing me anxiety. And I found them in her BFF socks.

The simple repeat of ribbing and cabling produce a lovely easy to follow knit. And though I did find the cable decreases a little tricky, I pushed through. I had a brief moment of anxiety when I was picking up the gusset stitches since Cookie does not actually state how many stitches should be picked up, she simply says to “pick up each slipped stitch.” I realized this is actually brilliant and I now plan to substitute this technique into all my sock knitting. At one point my husband came and sat beside me, watched me knit for a few minutes, asked to see my progress as a whole. (I proudly showed him the sock to that point.) He looked me straight in the face and said “huh, I thought you said her socks are hard to knit.”

And that really is the point, isn't it. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right pattern and being in the right frame of mind. But, as my BFF and knitting guru has said to me many times before, if you can do the knit stitch and the purl stitch, you can make anything. And while am the first to admit that there are still patterns that I am not ready to try, it is not because I lack the skill, I lack the time and more realistically the patience.
I have just turned the heel on my first pair of Kia-Me. It is again, not an overly difficult pair of Cookies, but it is a pair that I have wanted since I first saw the book. I'm not sure what pair I will jump to after those are finished. But I guarantee there will be more. I have the Cookie A bug. I am happy and so are my feet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Progress of a Sort

It's just over two months into my "cold sheep pledge", and aside from my little slip off the wagon with Indigodragonfly when I spent the weekend with her, I've been doing really well. I am actually enjoying it. This is a bit of a shock. But I'm really excited to be using up old stash and was even more thrilled when I was able to move a big chunk of yarn out of the living room and into the closet. I am one step closer to having everything in one place. I even have made an attempt to start organizing things. This did not go entirely as planned.

I have Lamb's Pride in my stash. Some of it I have bought and have used so only ends remain. Some I have inherited from my friends. (I know this conclusively because I found receipts tucked in to the balls that have the names of my friends on them.) Some are from my first attempt at making a sweater for my husband. That didn't really go so well and it was frogged. It felts beautifully and I went through a felted cat bed Christmas gift phase during which I happily took whatever people offered me. (As an aside, my spell check program hates the word “frogged.” You'd think by now it would realize that it lives with a knitter. )

Ten days ago, I decided it was time for the Lamb's Pride to go. I was never going to use it again for anything and I was going to offer it up to my knitting friends, especially my one friend who felts everything. So I grabbed my emergency energy bar, bottle of water and a Sherpa, and dove into the mess stash to pile up all the Lamb's Pride in my living room. This is what I found.

I was stunned. My only thought was “where did this all come from.” Staring at the pile, I realized that I wasn't going to give this away, though this would have made my life much simpler. I realized that this was going to become a gypsy blanket. I've finished six squares so far. The ironic part is that I've had other knitting friends have offer me more ends if I can use them. I've said yes...... I think I may be missing the point a little on this one. Sigh.