Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vive la France

I'm in training. I have a big event coming up and I want to be in top shape to meet the challenge head on. I want to do my best and I want to make my fellow knitters proud.

I'm starting the Tour de France Knitalong. And not just because T. is making me. No. This is something I sort of chose to do. Every once in a while, I find that the stimulus of a deadline can make knitting exciting. It's the thrill of the chase, the danger of falling down, the lack of any other interesting television.

As I am a new competitor this year, I am competing in the White Jersey category. That means I can knit whatever I want, really. I'm basically along for the ride and the men in tight pants. I have to admit, I do enjoy the crashes. There's usually some blood and a bent wheel or two. And the scenery is lovely. It makes me feel so European as I knit on my couch and basically act as a pod for this baby. I've chosen to knit the Juno Regina in a burgandy laceweight silk/seacell blend. I'll probably even do a little swatch (totally legal, no cheating here) so I'm ready with the correct needles. Like the yarn?

Me too.

I'm in Team Silence-Lotto. I understand we have a couple of good looking Australians on our team. Eye candy is very motivating.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rites of Passage

A little more than 100 years ago, a Belgian anthropologist explained that all cultures have ways of marking major life transitions - and he defined these as being rites of passage. Many of these rituals surround the transition of a child into adulthood; often revolving around puberty (what a great time to remember, right? Aren't you glad I'm bringing that up?).

When I think of rites of passage, I think of the Jewish tradition of bar mitzvah. I'm personally more familiar with the idea of confirmation, but I think of them as being somewhat similar. The end result is the formal admission to a community.

So, what is the rite of passage for a knitter? At what point are we formally admitted, or at least feel formally admitted, to this community? Do we need to have accomplished a certain number of sweaters or socks; or completed a difficult pattern; or deciphered a ridiculous chart?

I feel like I'm a fairly accomplished knitter, in most respects. I like to stay in my comfort zone, but I can knock off some pretty crazy things (have you seen Cat Bordhi's socks?) and I think I could probably attempt most things thrown my way.

However, the one thing I've never knit is a Baby Surprise Jacket. To me, this feels like my rite of passage. I can't consider myself a truly proficient knitter until I've done one. I'm not sure why I have set this as my standard, but I have. It's likely due to the mythic nature of the pattern and the designer.

So, once I complete my Hanami (I'm currently on my last basketweave repeat...almost half-way) and the Tour de France KAL (go Team CSC!), I think I need to do this. To complete this rite of passage.

What's your knitting rite of passage? What project do you have set in your mind that once you complete it you will feel like a truly accomplished artisan?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Perceptions and a Poll

These days, I'd like to look like this...

but I feel more like this.
Hormones can be cruel.
Fortunately, my ankles are still shapely and my feet are unpuffy so I've been thinking about sock knitting. I think I've already told you that I like my socks from the top down on DPNs. I think that's because that's how I started knitting them and that's my comfort zone. In an effort to shake things up, I started a sock on two circs. I don't mind this technique but I'm pretty slow because I'm still getting used to it.
This has got me wondering how people like to knit their socks. So here you have it.
J's Informal Sock Poll
1. Do you like DPNS or Circs? If you like circs, do you like one or two?
2. Do you knit one sock at a time or two?
3. Do you have trouble finishing a pair or do you finish both socks before moving on?
4. What's your favorite fibre for socks?
5. What's the weirdest thing you've knit socks out of?
6. What's your favorite number of stitches to cast on for yourself?
7. Who's got the biggest feet in your life and do you knit them socks?
Leave me a comment. Answers to be compiled however I see fit. Let me know about your socks.
It keeps my mind off my ever expanding middle.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Enjoy it.

Everybody keeps telling me to "enjoy it".

Enjoy this time at home by myself doing very little.

And I have to say, I am really trying to.

I've watched many movies over the last few days. Some horrific (I may even say the worse movie I have every seen), a few which remind me of being a kid, and some horribly sad. But it's been good. It has been good to just sit and try to relax (that is truly a stretch for me).

There have been a lot of end of pre-school events that have kept me busy too.


And end of school barbeque (my kids the tall one....not surprising right?). They are releasing their butterflies that they watched go from a caterpillar to a chrysalis (yes, Punky referred to it as a chrysalis, it's not technically a cocoon) to a butterfly. Then they released them at the park. So freakin' adorable.

I've also made some good progress on some knits.

Hanami v.2.0.

This time, it's for me.

And Cat Bordhi socks v.2.0.

Baby Coriolis. Let it be said again, that women is on a different knitting level entirely.

I have also enjoyed having my love around quite a bit. He usually commutes an hour each way, but he has been at home for quite a bit, and when he has gone to work, he's commuted about 10 minutes each way. It's been nice. I know it's only temporary, but it's been nice.

I've enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

February in June

I'm pretty tired tonight. Working and answering endless "whys" and making a kid are really taking their toll this week. Fortunately, I've had knitting and a little show called "So You Think You Can Dance?" to keep me from losing it completely.

I cast on this little number on Monday just before SnB and yesterday, I made it to the pattern section. Knitting with Cascade 220 is great! You see your results quickly and it's a pleasant and financially responsible knit. (Especially when certain yarn dealers have big sales.)

Hope you've got more energy than I do and that your knits fly off your needles as quickly as mine have lately.

(T., I hear they're doing a Canadian version of SYTYCD. I can't wait to see your tryout next year.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Warm Yarn-y Thoughts

It has been said time and time again about the amazing nature of knitters. We are a strong spirited community of good hearted people.

This community has sent me warm wishes from Sweden, the UK, Australia, the US and just down the street. In the form of good thoughts, blog notes and cakes.

And I just want to say thank you. Thank you, thank you.

You are some good good people.

Thank you.

(and I'm well. Bored, tired, sore, but all in all well)

Monday, June 16, 2008

L is for....

My Princess is beginning to learn the magic of letters. She knows about a dozen letters and the sound they make but her Mom sometimes gets tired of saying things like "I is for Ice Cream". However, this annoying habit seems to have spilled over into today's post, so humour me.

L is for Lobster!

Some friends of ours have a big lobster boil in their backyard each spring. This year, it coincided with Father's Day and the turn out was excellent. I heard that 80 (!) people were expected to tear open a crustacean and enjoy the potluck dinner. There were tons of kids running around and lobster carcasses everywhere. There was even a lobster cake. (See above.) I just hope their garbage day is soon cause all those lobster guts have gotta smell something nasty.

L is for Layette. This is not a word I regularly use but it's old-fashioned, kinda like EZ, and I thought it was appropriate. I finished the February baby sweater and leggings last night. As you can see, two skeins of Lorna's Laces sport weight is not enough for this set knit on 4 mm needles. I supplemented with some Knitpicks Shine which I got in a sampler package. I really like this yarn and will use it again. It is soft with a lovely drape.
I think the baby will have to grow into these things which is just fine. Babies have a habit of growing very quickly right out of the gate and I'd hate to have to put this little outfit away too soon.
L is for Latte, which I am looking forward to finishing.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Careful what you wish for

I think it's every knitters dream to have a broken leg that makes it unable for them to go to work. They have to sit all day in a chair with their leg up and nothing to do but.....yes that's it....knit.

You know, I don't recommend it as a means to get more knitting done. Really don't.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

EZ Knitting

Sometimes I find myself going through phases. Maybe I'll eat a lot of fruit for a few days, or only want to drink lemonade. Sometimes I think we should eat more fish so I try to include it in the menu at least once a week, then I'll revert to my old friends, chicken and beef.

At the moment, I seem to be on a bit of an EZ jag. It could be because I love her writing. Everytime I pick up one of EZ's books, I feel like knitting is really very simple and you don't need a pattern just a working knowledge of knits and purls. She seems to be a comforting presence in the midst of the knitting storm. Maybe that's why every once in a while, I come back to EZ just like sometimes you just want an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. They are comforting.

I pulled out my Knitters Almanac (best book ever and totally financial responsible at about $8 a pop) and starting whipping up some baby things. The thing with EZ's patterns is that sometimes she assumed that you knew a lot and therefore doesn't always go into details about things. (Ravelry is an excellent place to sort out these minor questions. You can always ask me, too, but I might not have a quick answer.) Sometimes you may have to go with the flow and hope for the best, as with the BSJ, and sometimes you can just knit happily along until EZ says you can cast off. Fortunately, most of her patterns work well with a variety of yarn gauges so you can use whatever you have on hand.

The February Baby Sweater is drying after a quick dunk in some Eucalan. Once I've sewn on some patterns, we'll have a big reveal. I'm also making some matching Leggings after seeing how great T.'s turned out.
I knit the waist band in KP Shine Sport for fear of running short of the Lorna's Laces Sport in Aslan. I really like the drape of the Shine and can see myself using it again. It turns out these leggings are going very quickly, as do most baby projects, but I'm pretty sure the kid will have to grow into these.

I think my next project will be another EZ pattern, but for myself. Have you seen it yet? Have you added it to your queue? T. is home for a couple of weeks looking after a bum knee. I'm pretty sure she's already cast on.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A year in the making

This project should really not have taken a year.
It was somewhat (ok, very) painful to knit, but a beautiful outcome. I am just not a good scarf knitter. The commitment is too great.

I should stick to knitting socks out of sock yarn, not scarves.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In which I flash you

I'm finding myself a little short on words so I'll just flash you some knitting.

1. Tuscany Shawl in Ivory Seasilk

This is for my sister's wedding in August. It's a very straight forward kinda knit. The worst part is the the last repeat or two when you have 250+ stitches on your needles.

Turned out well, don't you think?

2. May STR Sock Club Socks : Cleopatra's Stockings

Another straight forward pattern which is complicated by the many pages it takes to describe the charts. The instructions to cast on start on page 7. Let's just say I did a lot of page flipping.

I'm not a huge fan of violet but I love the way this way ranges from a pale bluey purple to a deep grape color.

3. February Baby Sweater in Aslan Lorna's Laces Sport Weight

I started this yesterday and it's going very quickly. I just love knitting for little people.

4. Another pair of Froot Loops

OK, I haven't technically cast these on yet but I will very soon. This will be my first pair on socks on 2 circs. Tips, anyone?

That's all I've got. I hope you were suitably distracted by the pictures to note my lack of written content.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On the road again.

I am home but packing again. My family is off to the mountains for a mini-holiday. This will be our only holidays this summer, so we need to get the most out of our 3 days.

My trip to Victoria was event-filled. There was a lot of meeting, greeting, eating, and some learning. My boss is kind of a move and shaker in our world, so these things involve trying to keep up with him (I actually don't even try anymore). It was fun, but I was busier than I thought I'd be and therefore got little to no knitting done.

I did manage to sneak off for a bit to Beehive Wool Shop. My friend Stace came with me (she's not a knitter) and she did so with absolutely no issues (maybe we have a future knitter in our midst). I showed her the way of the knitter. The touching and feeling involved in checking out a new spot. And this place was lovely. I didn't get to spend a lot of time there. It was much larger than I expected, but after I found some Handmaiden Swiss Mountain Cashmere & Silk I couldn't really afford to look any further. They had some things I've heard of but never seen in person: lots of Berroco and Cascade. And an entire wall full of Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.

I could not resist the Handmaiden and came away with this:

It is a colorway that is specially dyed for Beehive; you can't find it anywhere else. It is yet to be named, but they think it will be called "Cedar". It is a mix of a silvery green, silver and cream; and possibly the softest thing I have ever felt. I kept it beside my bed in Victoria and kept petting it. I've never done that before but couldn't resist with this feathery soft blend of all things good.

I still am not sure what it will be. Likely a small scarf or something close to my skin (no J., not a thong like you suggested). For now I will enjoy it in it's current state. And know that it will be something fabulous.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Trepidation and Validation

As a knitter, as in the rest of my life, I like to play things relatively safe. I take calculated risks, like trying out a new restaurant or keeping my hair super short, but I don't tend to do things that are too risky or outside of my comfort zone. I like variegated sock yarn and solid yarn for sweaters. I like blues and browns. I like my sweaters bottom up and my socks top down.

This month's sock pattern from STR is a bit of a challenge for me. It starts with a crochet cast on. I don't crochet. I avoid toe ups because they usually involve some crazy cast on such as the crochet method. When I first read the pattern, I tried to think of another way of starting that didn't involve crochet. I could do a figure 8 cast on. Sometimes you can use a loop and knit into it a bunch of times until you have a circle of knit stitches and work down from there. Maybe I could rig up something with a paperclip and some gum a la MacGyver. Let us just say that I was desperate. Then I reminded myself that I joined this sock club to try new yarns and learn new things. (Not to mention the great yarns and the peer pressure. I digress.) Why not try the recommended toe in the pattern? The worst possible outcome would be ripping and starting again. That's not so bad, right?

I seem to balk at the thought to trying something really different or outside my level of comfort. Really, a crochet cast on is a minor example of my inate fear of screwing up and looking dumb. Of having my knitting look bad or having someone point out my mistakes. Of being not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough.

It's silly, really, because all I have to do for validation at any time is sign onto Ravelry. Other knitters have the same issues that I do making mistakes and starting again. I'm not the only person with a fear of the crochet. There are other people who squirm at the idea of toe up socks and socks patterns with 5 pages of charts before the instructions to cast on. And when I scroll through the things I've knit, I see little hearts that tell me that knitters that I know and knitters that I don't know think I've done a good job. They like what they see and they're telling me in their little way to keep up the good work.

I guess we're all looking for a place to fit in and this crazy online community of knitters seems to fit the bill for me. Non-knitters don't really understand why we read about the knitting and the lives of people we don't really know except by their blog names. It's not just about the craft, it's about feeling like we belong and that we're doing a good job.

I feel this uncertainty and fear about having another child. I'm not sure I'll be able to handle two kids at once. I don't know if my Princess will feel left out when the new baby comes or if she'll miss her Mom when I can't spend as much time with her as I'd like to.

I guess I'll just have to keep looking for the little hearts she gives me everyday, like when she tells me "Mama, I love you too much."

I love you too much, too, Sweetheart. Now that's validation.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two Nights in Toronto: Part Two

Thursday was filled with learning. I ran into a friend from Whitehorse who is a pharmacist and erstwhile knitter. The day went as these things do with some interesting bits interspersed with boring stuff.

When I was done, the Dude and I took the subway to the CN Tower to look out over the city. It is a little like looking out on Manhattan from the Empire State Building but less giant ape merchandise and more green spaces.

It's really tall. And I'm not usually scared of heights but I was freaking out a little up there. Must be my overactive imagination.

After all that excitement, the Dude and I checked out a movie and had some Italian food for supper. It was almost like our carefree days before reproducing. Ah. Freedom.

Friday, I totally ditched the morning sessions and went shopping on Queen Street with the Dude. It is really a good thing I married a patient man because we found Romni Wools and I was beside myself. They have SO MUCH YARN!!! I could have wandered their aisles for hours and still not known what to buy. I might have been really lost if I had a specific project in mind. As it is, I have recently acquired enough yarn for 2 sweaters for myself as well as a number of baby items and a sh!tload of socks. I exercised restraint and only purchased a couple things for T. (which will remain secret until she gets to fondle them in the flesh) , some sea wool (how much of this is too much, I ask you) and Cotton Fleece.

I've always been interested in this last yarn and it feels really drapey and soft in the ball. I got a couple of skeins in pink to whip up a little something for the Princess. Any suggestions?

And that was basically my trip. The plane ride home was uneventful and I managed to finish almost half of my May sock.

Once home, I cranked out the last half a repeat on the Tuscany Shawl, so that's done, too. Pictures will come as soon as I have time for a proper photo shoot. I love the feeling of only having one (rather intense) sock on the go. I'm sure I'll be casting on some baby things some time this week, but for now, I will revel in my lone project. (No one remind me of the sleeping boot socks that I started last year and haven't looked at in months. Thanks.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two Nights in Toronto: Part One

As T. mentioned, I was in Toronto earlier this week on a yarn trip, I mean, conference. It was a two day seminar about intensive therapy of diabetes and an excellent excuse to get away for a couple of days with the Dude. As always, many thanks to my Mom, who did the bulk of the Princess sitting.

We flew out Wednesday morning from Edmonton. I have to say, a 3.5 hour flight makes for excellent knitting time. I had a chance to do a little light reading and finish up a pair of socks that had been lingering.

The Dude and I were staying at a hotel in the downtown area which made for some good sightseeing walks. When we arrived, we checked in and then headed out on Yonge Street which is apparently the longest street in the world but mostly an excellent place to shop. I bought a pair of (hopefully) comfortable shoes to wear to my sister's wedding in August.

We just sort of wandered around and found ourselves in Old Toronto. We bought some fruit at the St. Lawrence Market and headed back to the hotel. Normally on a trip like this, we would have stopped for a beer. And it would have tasted really great. Sigh. Only 4 more months.

After a brief rest at the hotel (the Dude totally fell asleep but he denies it), we went in search of supper and perhaps a little yarn. We ate at a French restaurant in Kensington Market that serves horse tenderloin. Neither of us were brave enough to try it. Somehow eating a horse is very different than a cow. I'm not sure why. After a lemon tart that was not too sweet and very light, we managed to find Lettuce Knit. On their Knitting Night. This was really something. I was hoping to do a bit of shopping and maybe cast on for some new socks but as soon as I stepped in the door, I knew that wouldn't be happening. The whole store was lined with folding chair, each holding a knitter. Ok, so the store isn't huge, but that many young energetic knitters is quite a sight. I was given a chair and got to meet a couple of delightful ladies. Julia was whipping up a new phone cozy was recently out of a job (good luck with the hunt) and Megan was making a February sweater out of some Noro sock yarn for Baby #3 due in 8 weeks. I was trying very hard to do a crochet cast on for my May STR but after 4 attempts, I gave up. There was too much to look at and the Dude was waiting very patiently outside. I bought some STR Silkie in one of the Raven colorways that was conveniently being displayed next to me and we called it a night.

More tomorrow.