Sunday, April 29, 2007

Love for the Harlot

There are so many knitting blogs out there. People sharing pictures of their masterpieces, problems with patterns and just being part of a greater knitting community. Any blog out there that contains lists of "favorite sites" ALWAYS includes the Yarn Harlot. Why? Why are we all drawn to this person?

She has been described as the "rock star in the world of knitting". I know J. and I think so - if there were posters of her, we'd have them pinned up in our locker. We discuss her blog postings regularly, we were completely disheartened when we were unable to watch her on Knitty Gritty (don't get this in Canada) and we dream of the day when we can see her knit in person. I saw her knitting one time on CBC - she was discussing KWB and knitting at the same time. I was AMAZED. I called my husband into the room and was excitedly spewing "look at her knit, can you believe that; I've NEVER seen anyone knit so fast. Look at her knit". It was truly like watching a master. I was mesmerized.

I think what draws me to the Harlot is her approach to knitting. She is obviously obsessed with knitting (as am I) but she isn't, or at least doesn't seem to be, obsessed with the "rules of knitting". She ad libs; she takes chances and she makes mistakes; she is serious about knitting but doesn't take everything regarding knitting too seriously. So refreshing. So real. This is what is enticing and enthralling about her. When I grow up, I want to knit like her.

So Ms. Pearl-McPhee - J. and I salute you for all you stand for and all you do in knitting. Thanks for showing us the way.

Friday, April 27, 2007

On the needles

T. called me last night and asked me what I was knitting. At the moment she asked, I was not in the act of knitting. This is shocking. Knitting is my enabler. It allows me to watch TV without the guilt of wasting time. It's what fills up my lunch break when I'm finishing eating. It's how I wait for a meeting to start. Knitting is what I do in the car when I'm a passenger. It's like breathing. Basal knitting, necessary for life.

My current projects are very different. I'm usually knitting a pair of socks, usually for a birthday or if I'm really good, stockpiling for Christmas. Boy, that is optimistic. I say I'm stockpiling but really I'm just knitting for me. Secretly, I tell myself I'm testdriving the patterns and then if I like how they turn out, I'll knit them for someone else as a gift. Not even I believe that one. So on the DPNS (circular needles for socks isn't something I've tried and while I like the name of the magic loop, I'm an old fashioned girl at heart), are the dreaded Pomatomus.
Who knew that this pattern was basically knit 1, purl 1 with some fancy stuff for shaping the scales? Well, I guess I would have if I'd read the pattern before diving in. These socks are going slowly. I'm not the fastest knitter ever and all this ribbing is dragging on. And this is only the first sock.

Fortunately, I have some mindless knitting that I've been working on. T. mentioned that we're playing with Knitpicks Cotlin. I'm making up a sweater. It's my first attempt at designing and I have used a couple of books as resources and inspiration. I've only just recently discovered Barbara Walker's Treasuries and they are an amazing reference for stitch patterns and ideas. AND some brave souls have organized this online library of knitting stitches. It's brillant! And as ever, Ann Budd is indispensable in having already done all the math for me. Thanks, Ann. Let me buy you a latte sometime. So, with the help of Barb and Ann, I present to you....
this WIP (work in progress). It's got potential, don't you think? I'll keep you updated on its progress. If you never see it again, you'll know I've failed miserably and didn't want to admit it to you, my loyal reader. (T. , I'm talking to you. I don't think anyone else reads this thing. Except Leo. Nice to meet you, Leo.)

Now if only some kind, knitting fairy would come and finish this sock so I could move onto other things, that would be great!

Are you scared? Don't be.

I know J. and I have friends out there lurking - checking our blog to see what's up, but they don't want to admit it -- they're SCARED. Don't worry - our "geeky" blog-i-ness won't rub off on you. I promise.

So to our friends - and anyone who's come across our blog - let us know by posting a won't hurt I promise.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Knitting Blogs

Knitting Blogs

You could check out these other blogs, but why would you want to? You have everything you need right here.

Knitting as Anarchy

So, I got some new yarn the other day from KnitPicks. Never ordered from them before, and J. and I were intrigued by some of their yarn so we sent in an order. We both ordered some CotLin (at $2.49/ball we had to try it). J. has great things destined for her yarn (she's attempting to create a pattern...very exciting). I ordered 2 balls to do a hand towel set for my mom. J. had knit me some lovely handtowels for Christmas and I was inspired - what a great gift idea. You don't need to worry about size (and therefore gauge, which as previously discussed I'm opposed to) or colour because they won't be worn.

I took out my newly borrowed copy of Stitchionary from Vogue Knitting (J. has it on hold from our library and was surprised to see it on my coffee table...are we on the same wavelength or what???). There are MANY fun stitch designs in there. I started off with a fancy garter rib, but after a couple of attempts frogged it. It just didn't look nice with the garter stitch border, which is necessary to keep the towels lying flat on the towel holder. Also it required a whole row of K2tog which kind of annoyed me ... for no particular reason other than it seemed like a lot of work. So I decided to move on. Now I'm trying a different stitch repeat (small mock brocade pleats). Seems a bit better, but looks a little 70's-ish to me. Any thoughts from anyone else??

As my first real attempt at designing something myself, it's a good project to start with. I've only frogged it twice and it is knitting up quickly.

The traditionalists (or the good knitters) out there may suggest I should have gauged it first and that would help with deciding what to do. J. suggested that I was swatching, which I balked at. No way, me swatch?? Honestly. So why am I so anti-swatching? I am not really sure. I know there are no "knitting police" (as the Yarn Harlot specifies quite nicely in "Knitting Rules") making me swatch. I know that even if you do swatch, the pattern may not work out for a variety of other reasons. I know that swatching can save you time in the end, even though it takes more time up-front. I know that swatching can help you to better understand your knitting style. Still, I don't know why I'm so anti-swatching. I think it may symbolize to me a knitting rule. Something that should be followed by every good knitter (or at least by knitters who make wearable objects). I think that there are so many other "rules" in my life that I don't want to have to follow any in my knitting. Knitting is the one thing that is total anarchy in my life (some may argue this....after meeting my 3 year old....); and I like that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Can I get an AMEN?

T. and I have been talking about starting a blog for a while. Part of me felt guilty for always reading other people's blogs and not contributing. Another part needed an outlet for my frustrations, knitting and otherwise. Only recently have I become aware of the sense of community that comes with being a knitter. I mean, there are a lot of blogs you can read on a daily basis that discuss new patterns, new yarns, the mistakes knitters have made, the successes they've had.

Knitting can be a very solitary activity done in your home or perhaps shared with a few friends. The repetitive motions are soothing. One can reach a point where you don't really need to look at what you're doing if the pattern is simple. The mind is free to wander, to undo the knots of the rest of your life, to muddle through the problems of the everyday. And if you make an error, you just rip it back. At the same time, knitting patterns can be complex and all consuming, requiring your full attention and concentration. This can be a welcome distraction from the day to day.

I am amazed at the size and scope of the knitting community, both online and in person. You can find knitting groups in just about every major city in North America and strangers are always welcome. Knitting blogs abound. You can read about knitters who range from goth to grandma and everyone is welcome. These knitters understand what it is to chose a pattern to knit for a loved one, to painstakingly find just the right yarn in just the right shade. They know that to knit a pair of socks can require more stitches than a sweater. Knitters understand what it feels like to find that pair of handmade socks in the bottom of a drawer, unworn and forgotten about, but that the love with which they were knit remains.

I am delighted to contribute to and take part in this community with my good friend, T. We enjoy knitting and we are really good at it. I know that nonknitters don't understand our culture and that's fine. All I'm looking for is a little support and understanding. Can I get an AMEN?

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Heart Cookie A

When I learned to knit, I started with dishcloths and moved directly to socks. I didn't know that socks are hard, that I'd have to use many needles and wear protective eyewear for the first few pairs. I just wanted some thick wooly socks to keep the tootsies warm. I made a brief foray into intarsia (Backpedal! Backpedal!) and then discovered SELF STRIPING SOCK YARN.

Wow, I thought! Now I can knit socks and they'll be fancy and everyone will be so impressed with me and they'll talk about my socks around the water cooler. "That J. sure can knit socks", they'll say. "She's got skills."

But isn't it funny how quickly one can become disillusioned with the apple of their eye? I, for example, have a large quantity of self striping yarn in my stash. It has been waiting for me to dust it off and whip up some Jaywalkers and I thought about it for a moment and then I met Cookie A. Oh, Cookie. You wooed me with Baudelaire (even though I had to learn how to do a figure 8 cast on and it nearly drove me to ruin), you enticed me with Hedera. I stalked your blog, I coveted your brilliant hosiery. I wrung my hands and I tossed at night. The only thing that could calm my feet was

REVENGE! (Titania's Revenge, actually, knit in Lorna's Laces Vera colorway.)

I'm feeling a bit better now. Having these socks on my feet takes the edge off a little.
Note the crazy fauz cable. I think if I were to knit these again, I would continue the lace and faux cable through the toe decreased until they just disappeared. But that will have to wait, because I'm knitting new socks now. Pomatomus, you are MINE!

T.'s Knitting Philosophy

I love knitting...obviously. Who would have a blog about knitting if they didn't in some way enjoy it to the extent that they want other people to know all about it. Having said that, I don't stress about knitting. I don't fret about little mistakes or not following the pattern perfectly. I don't swatch (and yes I've paid for this...ask J. about her Christmas scarf I knit her -- all 8 feet and 10 pounds worth). I don't let a small thing like running out of yarn deter my baby's most recent pair of socks.

Knitting to me is a way of making my hours of watching TV at night seem less useless. It's a way to unwind, shut off my mind and do something creative. If I started stressing about every little detail, I wouldn't have the same sense of peace when I knit. And that's my goal -- a peaceful mind. That doesn't mean I don't like to make beautiful, detailed pieces -- I do. I just do them in small "doses". This is why I need to have 5 things going on my needles. More difficult things like Embossed Leaves Socks from Interweave Knits (Winter 2005)...

Not too difficult, but requires some thought. I also am trying to come up with a pattern for a handtowel set for my mom for mother's day (still in the process of this). Also requires some thought.

But, at the end of the day, nothing can beat rows upon rows of stocking stitch...all those knits and purls make me endlessly happy....and peaceful.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My first post - VERY exciting. I have taken a couple of pics of some of my work. I'm a knitter with ADD however - currently have 5 projects on my needles. This first one is from Knit2Together the Rowena Cardigan. It's my night-time project, ie. doesn't require much thought and can work on it when I'm tired.

This is the second side of the front. I love the ruching at the bottom - it's a nice touch.

Well I want to get this post up as a trial so I'll post more pics later....


Your prescription is ready...

Patient: Yarn O. Holic

Fibricillin 1000 mg

Take as needed to control symptoms of shaking, anxiety and agitation associated with yarn withdrawl.

Refills: Unlimited.

Dr. Baad Medicine