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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lovely Lenore

Let me introduce you to Lenore. My pair of Lenores are my favourite socks ever. I would wear these socks everyday if I could. But that would be a little gross for both the socks and my feet. So I don't. But I do wear them, and the other day and it struck me that at some point Lenore would get old and tired and wear out. That even though I could darn them, which I will do, I will eventually not have them anymore. This is unacceptable, and I realized that the best way to extend the life of my beloved socks was to have more than one pair.

So off to the stash I went.  Unsurprisingly, a skein of yarn did throw itself at me shouting "Here I am! I going to be the pair of Lenores you seek." and I knew it was right, and that it would make a pair of these socks perfectly. Out came the ball winder and swift and pattern. Voila, I was ready to go.

And here's where the problems begin. When these socks are on my feet I love them. When they are on the needles? The bane of my existence. Just to make it perfectly clear, it is not the pattern. The Yarn Harlot was able to produce a lovely, easy to read document that will in fact (when followed correctly) produce a wonderful pair of socks. Apparently I just became partly brain dead when it comes to making these socks. My first pair took me over a year and on at least one occasion had me looking at my husband and saying "I do actually know how to knit, right?" before flinging the socks across the room and bursting into tears. And here's why:

Mistakes I have made while knitting these socks:
  • cast on the wrong size.
  • cast on the right size with the wrong needles. 
  • cast on the right size with the right needles and then changed to the wrong size half way through the lace pattern.
  • completely changing  the lace pattern, making up new one as I went along.
  • skipped entire sections of the lace pattern resulting in a completely incorrect sock.
A keen knitter will note that all of these things have happened before working on the actual leg.  But all of these things happened with the first pair.  And really, I have many more knitting projects under my belt and I shouldn't have the same problems again, right? WRONG!  I have made all the same mistakes again and have probably come up with a few new ones.  Frustrating would not even begin to describe the knitting process behind making these socks.  But I am stubborn and after three false starts, this is where I am in my second pair.

But, they are on the needles and hopefully they will go much better this time around.  And the knowledge that I will love them when they are finished is what's keeping me going.
I have no idea why this pattern causes me such grief.  I can do everything that it calls for and in a different pattern I wouldn't have the same problems.  So my goal is to take less then a year to make this pair.  And to not throw them across the room while I do so.

Am I the only one?  Does anyone else have a pattern that they love to hate while knitting, but knit anyway because the finished work is just so satisfying?

And the Winner is

First I would like to thank everyone who took the time to pop over and read my blog and comment.  I have to admit I was a little blown away by the page views that entry received in such a short time!  Anyway, I know that what your really interested in is the winner.  My random number generator, aka my husband, called out number 17 from the sofa when I asked him for a number between 1 and 25.  So that mean the winner is Productofloveliness!!!!  Congrats and I'll send you a message on Rav for all your details.

As for everyone else, check back over the summer.  I have a feeling that there may be more chances to win then.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Look how Different We Are!!!!

Yummy beer tasting
My bff and I have a lot in common. We both like the same kind of movies and the same food, (expect for tomatoes, which she hates and I love. Whenever we eat out this works out in my favour.) We love good wine and beer.  When we introduce ourselves to new people we tell them "we like to keep things simple" because we share the same name.  

And most importantly, we both love to knit.
She is my knitting Guru. Without her enabling tendencies encouragement I never would have picked up the needles as an adult and would have more money in the bank less wonderful knitted objects.  On occasion we have even been known to knit the same projects, sometimes at the same time.  But that is where the similarities end.  What we envision in our heads makes our final products very different.

Take our Multnomahs ; same project, same number of stitches. Two very different yarns created two very different wraps.
She went for a much bulkier yarn producing something super cozy and warm and I chose a Dk silk blend making something my BFF calls "classy" .

The same thing has happened with our Urbanas.  Having our own mini knit-a-long, we each cast our projects on and again two different yarns are producing two different final products.  This time at least we are both using Indigodragonfly yarn.  She                            picked a slightly heavier weight and mine is in lace.
By the time that we are both finished, the same project is going to look very different.

Only our Boneyards have come out very similar.  This time we both had almost the same weight and we made two final products that do actually resemble each other.

I think that it's fascinating that even within a pattern there is room for so much diversity and creativity.  It also goes to prove that yarn selection is really important for making the final product look the way you want it to.  And if my BFF reads this, ('cause I know she will ,) love you and keep giving me those tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday, April 20

It's been a bit of a schizophrenic week of knitting.  I can't seem to stay focused on anything for too long.  I blame the Asterick.  I've hit a little stumbling block  in the directions.  I honestly don't know what direction to be knitting in.   I think the directions are telling me to turn, and knit back to the start of the wing, and then wrap those stitches again.  But, I'm not certain and I would rather stop knitting it for a day or two then deal with the ramifications of messing it up.  Fortunately my BFF has made it already and warned me that this was coming.  It's going to be a quick question and answer and then I'll be off to the races again.  With that in mind, the main body of the shawlette is finished and the first wing is in it's final section so I'm not complaining too much.
Updated from this morning: Problem was worse then I first thought and I had to rip out the enter wing back to the main body.  Good news, the directions make a whole lot more sense now, though there was a serious amount of grumbling on my part while I frogged back.  Bolix!!!!

I also ended up casting on Urbana by Stephen West.  I hadn't planned to do this right now, but I need at least one mindless projects on the needles and my BFF is casting on her's and we thought that it would be fun to have a little mini knit-a-long.  The colour way is "When I Bit Him, I Could Hear the Ocean."  It's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer quote from Drusilla.  However, unlike Dru, this yarn looks stunning in the sunlight. (Maybe there will be sunlight here again one day and I can take pictures then.)

Sadly the sock is still just a sock.  I finally, feel the urge to cast on the second sock.  This is good since it is not uncommon for a sock in my basket to be without it's mate for a long, long time.  I have located the cast on I used for the first sock and should be able to do that soon.

I long time WIP also saw some love last night.  Didn't get too far, but further than I was.

And now, I am adding a new cowl to the mix.  I agreed to test knit for my BFF and my reward is this lovely skein of yarn in "Edward Discovers that Wood Chippers Make Great Juicers."  Apparently, I am also modelling the final cowl.  I get to keep the cowl when it's finished and I love the colourway.  

It's a good thing I have a four day weekend coming up. I clearly need all the knitting time that I can get.  And, if any of you have felt the urge to cast on a Stephen West pattern please feel free to join in the unofficial mini knit a-long.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Your Yarn Talks Too, Right?

It's no secret that I have committed to knitting from my stash this year.  My husband knows, my friends know, I've blogged about here, and I've joined support groups on Ravelry.  And aside from two little hiccups, (okay one not so little hiccup and one that I don't think should really count because my husband technically paid for the yarn,) I've been doing pretty well.  I've finished 9 projects and used up 20.5 balls all from stash.

But what I'm finding even more interesting is how my relationship with my stash has started to evolve.  It's no longer just something that lives in my closet and takes up space.  It's something that I am actually paying attention too.  Lets be honest, I think that part of the reason why it's so easy for a stash to grow is that us knitters really like pretty things.  And then sometimes those pretty things get tossed aside and forgotten about when the new "something pretty" comes along.  It's fun to go into a yarn store and come out with pretty stuff.  It makes us all happy.  But, it's bad for my budget and worse for my closet space.  So now fewer things are going into the closet and more things are coming out.  And, you know what I've noticed?  My yarn has started talking to me, a lot.

Now just to make it clear, I haven't gone completely bonkers.  My yarn isn't asking me how my day at work was, what I want for supper, or if I really should have paired that top with those pants.  But it is telling me what it wants to be.  I have always thought that yarn has that voice. (I swear those 11 skeins of Noro did jump off the shelf and into my arms screaming "make us a Lady Eleanor" a few years back.)  But, I think that there has been so much noise coming from my closet that I have had no idea what was being said.  Now, I do.  Yarn is throwing it's self at me saying, "make me into that shawl you were looking at the other day" or "hey, don't buy more yarn for your father's Christmas gift, I'll work just fine."  It's really kind of cool.

And, what's even cooler is that this yarn right here as told me it wants to be my first ever give away.

It's 200 yards of tilli tomas "Sequined Lace Endive" in %100 silk.  It was passed on to me and even though I think it's really pretty, I am never, ever going to do anything with it.  I want to see it go to a good home where someone will give it the love it deserves.  All you have to do is a leave a comment on this posting before midnight on Tuesday April 26th about a time that yarn has spoken to you and you'll be entered. I will use the very scientific method of telling my husband how many comments there are and getting him to pick a random number.  That person will get the skein.  I hope someone out there wants it and who knows, maybe something else will tell me it wants to travel in the future.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday, (Just a Little Late.)

Ugh!  I spent most of the this week feeling like I had swallowed broken glass sometime Saturday night.  By Tuesday night I did feel mostly better, but I just didn't have the energy to sit at the computer last night.  I was sick enough that I missed a day and a half at work, which is something that I rarely do.  But, the good news is, I wasn't too sick to knit.  (I always know if I'm well and truly sick when I can't knit.)  So there has been great progress made this week.

First the shawl for my Nan is finished.  Well, the knitting part at least.  Clearly the ends need to be woven in and there needs to be some blocking happening.   It's 6 1/2 skeins of Mirasol  Hacho from my stash.  I'm really happy to finally see what that yarn wanted to become and it is the first official Christmas gift for the year finished.  Oddly, I still feel really behind on the Christmas Knitting front.

Next, the first of the Falling Leaves is finished.  I have been a little bad and have not cast on the second sock yet, which does put me in danger of making sock and not socks, but the goal is to have it cast on and the toe knit before Saturday.  (Though apparently I have a stunning sock pattern and yarn coming from the Smart Ass/ World Domination knitters club on Friday, so I may need to cast those on tonight.) The sock is hanging out on my shiny new sock blockers.  I have been wanting sock blockers for a really long time, so this is kind've exciting.

And finally, after not being able to decide what to cast on next, I jumped in a completely unexpected direction and went here to Asterisk in Paging Dr. Smart Ass.  Apparently this is what needed to be on the needles now.  I have no idea why, I'm just going with the flow.  This will be the second Christmas Gift for the year.  Yay me!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The shawl is almost finished!

Surprisingly the shawl is almost finished. I am a little shocked by this as each row is now taking a long time to complete. But, it will be finished by the end of the weekend and hopefully blocking by Sunday night. So now I am thinking about what to cast on next. I am waffling between three other projects. Do I go from here to Julia

 Or here to Pogona

 Or here to Herbivore

 The problem isn't that I don't know what to knit, I just don't know what to knit next.

This got me thinking about my friend Tanya. Tanya is by all accounts is still in the infancy of her knitting career, if you measure her knitting career in length of time she's been knitting. If, however, her measure her knitting stage by projects completed, she is a full fledged adult knitter. Like anything else that Tanya touches, she masters it fairly quickly and has completed projects that have left the rest of us stunned and in awe of her learning curve. (Her third project was a 6 colour Fair Isle cardi that turned out beautifully and fits better then anything she could have bought in the store.) She has until very recently been a one project at a time kind of girl. This ended a few months ago when I was at her place and she brought out a new project that she was working on and proudly stated, "see I have two projects on the go now." She was beaming. It was like the dirty little secret that she was a monogamous project knitter was finally shaken off and she could air out her deception. She finally felt like she was a real knitter and even told me so. I was floored. She didn't feel like a real knitter? How can a person who has knit multiple Christmas gifts, and has become the felting queen in our circle of knitters not feel like a "real knitter?" She is a real knitter. She has been a real knitter since the first day she borrowed a pair of my needles and cast on her first stitch. She is, for the most part, self taught and only asks for help of the rarest of occasions. We swap yarns and patterns and ideas and we have laughed hysterically when she had a pattern that was so difficult to follow that an entire store of knitters couldn't figure out what the next step was supposed to be. (This didn't slow her down at all, she simply bought a new clog pattern and whipped out a whole new pair in record time.) But, until she had more than one project on the needles, she didn't feel like a real knitter.

I have no idea which of the new projects listed above will be my next new project. But I do know this. Tanya is 100% a real knitter. There's no doubt about that. So I ask, what is a "real knitter" to you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesdays

This subject will never, ever, be a problem for me.........I have many WIPS.  But I have decided to focus on only two for at least the rest of this week.  Fortunately  it is my legs that are sore after my gym workout yesterday, and that gives me a good excuse to sit and knit more tonight.

The first is the Age of Brass and Steel shawl that will be a Christmas gift for my DH's Nan.  This is a huge relief for me as I never seem to know what to make our Grandmothers.

The second is a pair of socks for me.  The pattern is Falling Leaves. They are my first ever toe ups, and they may also be my last as I do not enjoy the heel/toe instructions at all.  The pattern is well written and clear, I just don't like it.  I will however finish them, because the rest of the pattern it really pretty.

Hopefully one of these will be in a Finished Objects Friday very soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Study in Nature: The Creation of a Knitter

The child of a knitter holds a special place in the hierarchy of the human species. They are born into a world of beauty, and that world welcomes them with open arms. They are almost destined to become a knitter themselves. That influence starts at a very young age. Let's examine the influences that sculpt a young mind into that of a full-fledged knitter.
 First, the child is surrounded by other knitters all the time.

Hopefully those knitters are generally happy; thus the child learns that knitting means happiness and this belief will become as innate as breathing.

It is clear that this connection has been fully understood when the child is presented with yarn and immediately begins rolling around, smiling, and laughing.

Notice how the future knitter first explores, then attacks the yarn in a fit of glee.

The learning is furthered when the child begins to realize that it is not just yarn that needs exploring, but other objects as well.

These objects hold great interest for the child and they have a built in desire to learn what they are.

Finally, after a hard day of knitting exploration, what could be better than curling up and sleeping peacefully under a hand knit shawl.

Clearly this child is well on the way to becoming a knitter.

When did you first realize that there was a knitter living inside of you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knitting takes you anywhere you need to be. 2kcbwday7

I am a project whore. There's no denying or hiding from that one. I have too many WIPS at any one time and probably have ten more in mind. I blame the fact that I knit everywhere so it is important to have projects to suit every possible occasion. Just for an idea of what I mean I've knit in the following places:

At Knit Night
  •  trains (both subway and cross country), planes, (and yes,) auto mobiles. 
  • Doctor's and dentist's offices, and at the mechanic. 
  • In many coffee shops and pubs. 
  • In the park and around the campfire. (I love the last one, but it's important to remember everything will smell like smoke.)
  •  I knit with friends on their back decks or sofas or at one of our favourite yarn stores. 
  • I firmly believe in having "Film Festival" socks as they keep me sane while in the super long lines.
  •  I've knit across Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and P.E.I. I've made socks on the train to Montreal and while sitting with my friends watching British television in a rather cosy Hong Kong flat.
  •  A half season of Fringe accompanied the production of my Lady Eleanor and Dr.Who is currently occupying my knitting time. (I'm slowly warming up to David Tennant.).
Lady Eleanor
Knitting for me is a way to unwind after a long day at work and helps me to enjoy movies and TV a lot more.  It keeps me sane and calm.  It allows me to focus my energy, and I can sit still when I knit.  The bottom line is my knitting is whatever I need it to be whenever it need it.  Now, I just have to figure out how to knit while I'm on the treadmill and I'm set.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something to Aspire to 2kcbwday6

Non-knitters always say to me "you must have patience to be a knitter." My answer, "No, not really. I have stubbornness, a fairly wicked creative streak, and love having something in my hands." My knitting helps me relax, it challenges me, it fills up time that I would otherwise annoy the crap out of me (like when your doctor is running an hour late). It's made me realize that I am an extremely tactile person and yarn gives me an excuse to rub something up against my cheek make a happy noise without being looked at like I've grown a second head. But patience? I knit a lot of small things like fingerless gloves and mitts. Even when I am knitting a sweater or a blanket the larger whole is broken down into smaller component parts and every sleeve or square is a victory. I would not exactly call myself patient.

Lace knitters. Lace knitters are where the patience is at. Those knitters have it in spades. I will gush over another knitter's lace shawl. I will flip through my copy of Victorian Lace Today and be inspired by the beautiful knitted work. I look at the very simple lace shawl that I started in March of 2009 and try to convince myself that it will be finished one day. But, aside from a little bit of lace in a pair of socks, or in something like Ishbel which is really mostly not lace, I am not a lace knitter. It's not something I can relax and get into the groove of when I'm knitting it. The thought of spending 45 minutes on a single row, and then probably having to rip things out a million times, frustrates me to no end. I bow down to knitters who can overcome these obstacles and who produce those glorious knitted works.
So the answer to the question what do I aspire to is really very simple.
  • Lace
  • Patience