Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Butterfly Effect

Oh, it was the best of knitting, it was the worst of knitting. Some things just go so smoothly and some fall apart almost as soon as you've started them. (T., you know what I'm talking about.) I've been trying to whip up a little lacy scarf out of some Koigu I picked up in Vancouver. (I'm making a scarf cause you have to handwash the Koigu and I don't handwash socks.) I've tried countless times to make this work, as my previous posts can attest. I finally discovered Orenburg lace which originates in Russia which is close to my homeland. Ok, not MY homeland but the birthplace of great grandparents. Ukraine. Home of the perogy and many high carb delicacies. So I took the idea of the Orenburg lace, which is really just a few simple patterns that in the hands of experts becomes magic, and tried to apply it to my very amateur scarf. Sigh. This experience has been very humbling. I thought I could make an intricate pattern by placing the patterns here and there in an artistic manner and thus become the talk of the knitting community. Foolish girl. It took me an embarassing number of attempts at this lace for me to remember that simple is often best.

And so I present to you, Baba's Garden. It's got some of the peas pattern at the edge, then a couple of strawberries, a honeycomb and then fields of strawberries. Just like I remember my Baba's garden on her farm. Bigger than a stripmall and full of yummy homegrown goodness.

In other news, I've finished a pair of wee socks for a wee girl who will soon be one. Don't tell Mayson! I don't think she suspects but her Mom can be pretty shifty.

And my butterfly has finally taken wing. Her first flight was to stitch and bitch on Monday and I'm happy with the way she turned out. I use Cotlin from Knitpicks. I find it a little rough at the moment but I think a couple of trips through the washer should take care of that. The pattern is my own creation. It fits a bit big but overall I'm quite happy with it. It's my first original design and I'm quite proud of it. Let me know what you think.

And finally, T. and are doing a Monkey-a-long. I thought it might just be the two of us but there seems to be a few other people out here knitting Monkeys, too. I started my pair today with some Lorna's Laces in the Aslan colorway. I know that Aslan is a lion but the colors seemed like they might work for a primate as well. (Are monkeys primates? And does this make my socks Mions? Lionkeys?)

The weather here is going to be hot this weekend so I think I'll take my knitting out to the pool. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You have GOT to be kidding...

That lace weight yarn will be the death of me.

I started a new rectangular shawl with it and after a number of attempts, I have given up.

Is it just me or is lace weight yarn a pain in the 'you know what' to work with? Honestly, I have no idea. Is it me or the yarn??

I have put the ball away and can not look at it. Seriously.....

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Love Affair is Over

It didn't last long -- sometimes things just aren't meant to be. I don't think it was me, but Lace has decided to make things difficult. Not sure what the downfall was. I need to cotemplate a little longer as to why things didn't work out.

Things began well enough. It took a little work to get started (recall the 1 K of yarn winding), but once that rough patch was over, things were looking up. We started out together on the path to Tuscany. We didn't make it too far along the path before I realized things weren't working out. So we started over, and then started over again and again. After many, many tries, I realized this was really not meant to be.

This is the after picture of the yarn. Innocent enough, right? Now take a closer look.........

See that big mess of yarn at the front - that's from being frogged about 15 times. Who knew you could split lace yarn and drop stitches and lose track of where you were 15 times. Honestly, it's over.

On the brighter side, I ran my "big race" today - thanks to J. She had to kick my a$% a few times along the way, but I did it. I had a minor (well more like Major) panic attack at the 8K mark when I looked up and all I saw was uphill back to the finish line. J. should seriously consider a job in motivational speaking, or cheerleading. She's THAT good.

Here we are at the finishing line (I'm the tall one - J.'s the athletic-looking one).
J. waited for me at the bottom of the last bit of trail so that we could run it in! She ran the whole way with me and talked the entire time to keep me distracted (not really that hard to believe if you know J.). She's the best!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


No, not that Ron Howard film from 1985. Butterfly!!! She's just finishing up her development (ie she needs a few seams and maybe an intimate moment with a steamer) and then she'll burst forth. But not before she's ready. That's why you only get a sneak peak at her. I'd hate to ruin the big reveal.
In other news, I have completed a sock that is meant to be a birthday present for someone we know. Isn't it great when your work looks just like the picture in the book?

The elusive sock in the wild. Approach with caution.

Everyone wish T. a good run this weekend! I'm going along for moral support. I have introduced T. to my patented running reward system where you buy yourself something nice after having completed a big run. (Yes, I will tell you about my run one day. I've only just gotten rid of the remains of a particularly nasty blood bluster. Words are not enough.) T. and I plan on rewarding ourselves with a little Handmaiden Sea Silk. Don't know what it will end up being but we've both been coveting this stuff for a while and what better time?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

Taking a page out of the Yarn Harlot's book and I'm just going to be putting down random thoughts today.

1. My husband has confiscated the camera - he keeps taking it to 'work'. Not sure if this is actually true or if he is trying to curb my blogging. Therefore, no camera, and again no pics from me.

2. I am doing my first big run on Sunday - 10K. I've never ran a race longer than 5K - I'm nervous and excited. If there was only a way I could combine knitting with running - however, think it's far too dangerous. Will just keep listening to knitting podcasts instead. Cast-on got me through Sunday's 8.5K.

3. Had to frog my husband's Father's day gift. Two mistakes in cabling. The one I could have lived with (twisted cable) but then I lost my spot and started on the wrong row - couldn't live with that. So, starting that over.

4. Finally finished winding up my yarn for the Tuscany shawl. All 1000m of it (or as my husband kept saying "you have to wind up 1K full of yarn???"). Then J. reminded me that not only was I winding a kilometre of yarn, but I'd knit a kilometre of yarn. Then it got me thinking of how many kilometres of yarn I've used in my life....scary....

5. Going back to work soon - so will need to come up with some good transportable projects to take for lunch (can you say socks!). I've never really knit at work, but think I'm going to start. Might help keep me sane (or at least on the train to the village of Sanity).

Think that's it - nothing of importance but all important to me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

In Which Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters

Oh, dear! It's been a rough week. Let us start at the beginning. You know when you're knitting along on a pair of socks and everything is going tickety boo and then you run out of yarn? Why does this happen to me so frequently? (That was a rhetorical question and as such does not require a response.) Harken back to happier times when one sock was complete and hope sprang eternal.
Didn't everything seem to going swimmingly? I thought so, too. So, what to do? My standard protocol is to change the toe color. Fine. This meant knitting off the first sock to finish the second to the point where I could add a different color toe.

Oh, Pomatomus! You are a vicious creature! When I got around to doing my toes for the second time, I changed things up a bit and fudged a Star of Four Points toe based on a Star of Three Points toe from Knitting Vintage Socks. I like them. It's like having a wonky starfish on my toes to calm the Pomatomus. Let's take a moment to appreciate this FO (finished object) before moving on.

Cheeky monkey!

Moving right along......Thursday night, T. and I helped some friends take their first steps toward becoming knitters. Learning to knit can be a challenge. People who knit tell you how relaxing it is, what an outlet, etc but when you're learning, you're more likely to get a tension headache. You have to actually watch what your hands are doing (remember that?) and you can't just drop a stitch without consequences. (Tanya, I'm talking to you.) So, knitters in the room, please put your hands together and welcome Tanya, Brianne, and Caterina to the halls of knitwear. They'll be purling in no time.

So, if you're a regular reader of this blog (that's you, T.), then you'll know that T.'s been bitten by a lace bug. Well, me too. The problem is I thought I could make up a pattern for a lacy scarf based on some stitch books I got from my local library and I'd be off to the races. It just wasn't meant to be. I tried a provisional cast on with one set of lace stitches. Didn't like it. Frogged. Tried again with a Picot edge and then starlight lace but that wasn't doing it for me either. Provisional cast on again. No idea what to knit. I spent the last 2 days trying to work this out when I realized that I just need to put away the lace weight for now. I also packed up all the library books and sent them back from whence they came. Maybe one day I'll pick it up and knit someone else's pattern or maybe even make up one of my own. Just not right now.

Then it occurred to me that I should go home again, figuratively speaking. When things aren't working out (ie lace, socks) and you just need a place to feel safe, you go home. Knitting home for me is a dishcloth. Dishcloths are the first thing I learned how to knit and I find them strangely comforting when other projects fail me. (There's still hope for my butterfly but I don't want to jinx it.)

So raise a glass to knitting. It's not always pretty, but it's always there when I need it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Lure of Lace

I wouldn't call myself an experienced knitter or an advanced knitter. I can do a few nifty tricks like cable, but haven't knit a lot with seriously difficult patterns. But lately I've got this urge to knit lace. Not sure where it came from. I'm not a girly girl and I don't normally run around in lacely, Victorian-like clothes, but I have this need to knit some.

For mother's day I received a copy of No Sheep for You and there is an AMAZING shawl called Tuscany. It is beautiful and I think it will be my first major lace project (other than socks, but those don't really count). I've never worn a shawl and can't say I can see wearing one in the near future but this pattern is so beautiful I can't help but make it. There are some pics of finished ones on the No Sheep Knit-a-long. VERY nice. I bought some red merino lace weight (lost the ball band already...par for the course) to knit it up. A little bit of a lighter weight yarn than what it was originally knit with but I wanted to try lace weight. It's taking forever to wind up into a ball (I have a swift, manufactured by J. and her sister-in-law) but not a ball winder - can see know why you should have both.

Once it's wound I will start. Therefore I need to get a lot of other things off the needles first - like a birthday sweater for my god-daughter and a father's day present for my husband (not saying what, as he is likely lurking....). I know once I start the Tuscany I won't be able to stop, so it's not a bad thing it's taking so long to wind the yarn up.

Will keep you posted with the Tuscany progress....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Just a quick note to say that T. and I went to a local S&B last night and had a great time. It's so much fun to meet other knitters in your town, especially over wine poured out of rooster pitchers. And Tiramisu. And there was some calamari floating around. It's a wonder we did any knitting with the good eats flying around.

If you're in Edmonton and wanna stitch and/or bitch, check out Amanda's website. She's the ringleader and very lovely. (She just went to New York to see one of her illustrations that was being shown there! Isn't she talented? )

Maybe we'll see you there next time!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Managing the Stash

I love buying yarn - yep, shocking for a knitter to say. The feel of new yarn, the thought of what it will be turned into - all very exciting to me. Even though I love buying yarn, I do not have a stash that is overwhelming. My stash primarily takes up about 3 large baskets in my coffee table. A lot of it is yarn left over from previous projects, some of it is sock yarn as socks are my go-to project, and some of it is planned for new projects. Typical I would think of many knitters. What I don't have a lot of is "yarn with no plan" (except the sock thing, but it'll be socks one day - just not sure for whom or what pattern).

For example, this (Knit Picks Cotlin in Coral).... destined for this.

This (Lorna's Laces in Envy)... destined for this (who loves Cookie A??).

And my newest addition (and my first ever Koigu)....

....I think will be a Chevron scarf.

Maybe if I had unlimited amounts of disposable cash (is any cash really "disposable"??) I would have a larger stash. But, then again maybe not. I think the main reason I don't have a large stash of unspoken-for yarn is that it would burn a hole in my knitting basket - I wouldn't be able to let it sit there without a purpose. I would hunt tirelessly for a pattern, a purpose to give this yarn. I wouldn't be able to work on my other projects until it was cast on. Once cast on I could finally rest knowing that it would be happy now that the yarn had a reason.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I Heart Podcasts

To be honest, this is really an infatuation. I am relatively new to the world of podcasts so I haven't had time to develop real love. That comes with time. Right now, I'm in lust. I love listening in on other people's knitting lives. Some people talk about the wholesome craft of knitting and what it means in their lives. Others are more free with their discussions of yarn porn and their drinking escapades. Hopefully no knitting was harmed during these drunken binges. Some mix passions like knitting and eating (this lady's got her priorities straight) waxing on about pasta and purling.

I'm really enjoying the sense of being a part of a larger thing while sitting alone and knitting. I can put my feet up and hang with my knitters without feeling the pressure to contribute although sometimes I'd like to. I'm quite opionated, really. I also like being in a knitting frame of mind while I'm doing something else but would rather be knitting. Running, for instance, goes faster while I'm listening to people gush about sock yarn. Cleaning the bathroom is less of chore if I'm learning about weaving at the same time.

Can I recommend a few podcasts that I've enjoyed?

Caston Love this one. And not just cause it was my first. Good music and honest knitting.
It'saPurlMan Dude met the Harlot in Central Park and lived to tell the tale.
Lime&Violet Be prepared. These gals are nuts. But in that good way, you know?
Math4Knitters Bring a pencil, some paper, a calculator and a tutor. You're gonna learn something, I tells ya.
SleepyEyesKnits Soothing and cheeky at the same time.
TheKnittingCook Can't go wrong.

What's on your pod and in your buds?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Knitting of Auntie J.

J. taught me to knit. I'm not even really sure when. I remember going to the book store with her and buying Debbie Bliss's How to Knit. I remember going with her to get the yellow cotton yarn and 4mm needles to start the first project (a garter stitch bag). That's how J.'s knitting started permeating my household.

It has progressed from there. J. usually knits me something for Christmas and my birthday (a big feat given that she knits a lot of Christmas presents and she has a lot of birthdays, including mine, in the 2 months post-Christmas). I have accumulated a lot of J.'s originals.

And she doesn't just knit for me. Both my boys were recipients of knitting ensembles brought to the hospital after they were born (one was a bear and one was a lab-rat; sounds crazy but fits our family). They also have matching hats. Even my husband has a hat knit by J. (it matches the boys...too cute or what).

And of course socks.

As I was getting dressed today and put on my pair of Baudelaire's from this year's birthday present, and then got my baby dressed and put on his pair of Auntie J.'s originals, I realized what an impact J. and her knitting have had on my family. Every piece special to us - and from one knitter to another, knowing what work is involved with each stitch. Thanks J.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

They say it's a virtue...

I am not very patient. I mean, I suppose compared to some (T.), I can wait things out. For the most part, I'm an instant gratification kinda girl. I man, I like things done now. Yesterday. You know what I mean. Ironic, then, that I am a knitter. Sometimes, knitting is all about getting to the finish line. See Exhibit A.

Please, Pomatomus, finish yourselves. Knit extra rows while I sleep. Do whatever it takes so that I can wear your loveliness instead of being stuck in the drudgery of knit 1, purl 1. I really should have read that pattern before I started. Note to loved ones: I don't think I'll be knitting this pattern again anytime soon. Do not get your hopes up.

Having said that, I am planning on knitting a shawl for my sister. She's getting married next year. Any ideas on a pattern? Something that isn't knit 1, purl 1 ad nauseum, please.

Then again, sometimes I like to knit just to knit. Please see Exhibit B. Butterfly, as I have nicknamed her, is coming along nicely. Only another mile or two of stocking stitch and I should be done. Now that's some quality TV knitting. I don't have to look at or think about what I'm doing and the sweater grows. I swear it does!

I was hoping that knitting would help me develp some patience. It hasn't really worked. I mean I love knitting for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it allows me to watch TV guilt free. I love making something from a string and some sticks. I thought running would help me learn patience, too, but it only led to some achy muscles. (I'm running the half marathon with my sister in law. I'll let you know how we do.)

It turns out there's only one thing that makes me slow down. Exhibit C. There is never going to be enough time in the world for soaking her up. Grow up slowly, Little One. I'm not going anywhere.