Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Yarn of a New Era

Jolene just wrote the following in a blog post:

"Why is it that our primary consideration is that the yarn is not fine and that it is quick and fast? Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this type of knitting is "“bad"”. But I am saying it should not be at the top of every single list."

I'm with you Jolene! I love to work with fine yarns. I can do much more with a pattern at a higher gauge. It can be compared to the resolution on a digital camera, or the fidelity on a stereo system. I know some people appreciate fine yarns. Sock knitters for instance. Lace makers.

I believe that the era of the fun fur yarn is dead, and we are beginning to see the dawn a new era of novel construction. Witness such designs as the Sunrise Jacket.

Then there's Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature book.

There are sock designs that are re-inventing how we look at the construction of the sock. From the first toe-up sock, to Elizabeth Zimmerman's arch shaping on the bottom of the foot, to the new Cat Bhordi gusset construction on the top of the foot (in Vogue Knitting). And there's modular knitting, and sideways knit scarves, and the Mason Dixon Log Cabin and Mitered Squares blankets. You could probably name a bunch more.

I think the modern knitter wants to knit something interesting. Fun fur scarves will always have a place on our needles, because they make great gifts and are simple to do. Also, we will always love a yarn that brings us a new experience. There are natural fibers that do this: silk, linen, hemp and bamboo. Then there are new spinning techniques that added feathers, or beads right into the yarn. And there is a whole world to explore in hand painted yarns. But I think we are seeing a trend that moves beyond getting our kicks from the yarn into exploring new construction for designs.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Catch of the Day

Delana recently finished some fish mittens! I'm so excited!

This is the first pair I've seen knit up by someone else. I've seen tail fins and some entrelac worked up by others, but never a whole fish. And it's still cute! Astounding how this process of pattern writing goes. Okay, I'll stop now before I get annoying.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Must See TV!

Found this link over at Norma's blog.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Preaching what I Practice

I think I finally have enough progress to show you my latest obsession:

The cables are from Viking Patterns for Knitting and I'm applying them to the edge of the Garter Stitch Jacket from Fleece Artist. I've worked through the design dilemma posed by the collar, by switching to a V-neck. I think everything will work out fine if my yarn holds out.

I just want to say that constructive criticism is welcomed! I inadvertently started a tempest in a teapot over at Mind of Winter with an unkind comment. Julia is a knitter and a spinner whom I have admired for some time and like two mature adults we have worked it out. But I understand why it is hard to give constructive criticism over the internet since you can't tell when someone is joking, or trying to be kindly. So this got me to thinking about constructive criticism.

Firstly, I don't think that criticism with out the constructive feedback is useful. I also admire The Knitting Curmugedon but I find more criticism and less that is constructive in what she has to say. On the other hand, it sometimes seems as though Marilyn is a lone voice in the wilderness when it comes to being critical of knit designs. Yes, there is You Knit What?, but those are easy marks, and besides, they've gone out of business.

Secondly, critical thinking is hard. Offering constructive feedback is harder still. Writing it clearly so that someone is not offended may be the hardest yet. So, please know that I welcome all efforts at constructive criticism and I will take them as being kindly meant. I tour many blogs and I comment on quite a few. If I leave a critical comment, please know that I am trying to be constructive, not destructive.

And now I'm done preaching my practice.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Prize Surprise!

Check out this awesome autumn inspired prize that arrived in the mail for me today from Jessica:

These items are, going clockwise from the bottom left:
Check out this poem on the side of the coffee:

Naughty, naughty!

Thanks Jessica for the great Bitchin' Mittens prize.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Cup Overflows

I'm fortunate to report that my life is very full. Here's what's been happening.

I've been given some extra responsibilities at work. It's a cool bit of a promotion that looks to be exciting, and a great learning and growth opportunity. I'm pretty wore out at the end of the day, so my blogging frequency was reduced.

My local yarn store, London Yarns and Machines, is interested in selling my mitten pattern in their store. I'm going down there today to discuss terms with the owner. It's pretty exciting to me. I never dreamed when I woke up that morning with this idea in my head that it would interest so many people. Which reminds me, I want to ask that anyone who has completed some mittens, please, send me a picture. I'd love to create a gallery page. Or maybe I should start a Flickr group. I've seen started fish mittens, but not a whole pair yet.

I've started designing a sock. Which interrupts the other three projects I have on the needles. It's been a while since I've had a finished object, but I know that I'll have a rush of them all at once eventually. Here's the start:

That's my new project bag carrying the proto-sock. I bought the bag Thursday at the Covent Garden farmer's market. Here's a shot of the back:

As I was looking over all the bags, I was telling Diane, the lovely lady who created them, that I like to buy things that speak to me. This bag is whispering softly in my ear. The embroidered bits are recycled from a table cloth and I used to do embroidery like that as a girl. I seem to remember it on pillows and towels and things. The front pocket is lined with white eyelet lace like the kind I wanted for a bedspread when I decorated my room at 14. I think my grandmother may have had a bedspread like that bit of chenille on the bottom of the back of the bag. Those fluffy white ties remind me of the yarn bows I used to tie into my hair. Yes, I'm a child of the seventies. I wish Diane had a website that I could point you too, but her e-mail address is all I have to offer.

We had an in promtu knit night last night, with Maureen and Knitty Kat. Book-end knit nights, Monday and Friday, what a great way to frame the week!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Autumn Begins

I'm percolating my knitting. Exciting ideas are brewing up a storm in my brain. 'Tis the season for storms and brewing and percolating what with the first day of autumn coming soon.

Socktoberfest begins next month and of course I signed up. I have definitely decided that I will not be knitting the Titania socks as written. I'd much rather show off my lace-work in a solid yarn. So I swatched up an idea of what I might like to do with the Titania yarn.

I'm thinking it would be a nice idea to write up a freebie sock pattern for Socktoberfest. I will keep y'all posted.

Yesterday, I received this handspun in the mail in trade for a Fiber Fish mitten pattern.

It's from Jenny, a.k.a. the Madwoman in the Attic. She has an Etsy Shop where you can buy some of her handspun if you like. This will be my first chance to work with handspun and I'm pretty excited. I was thinking a roll-edge beanie hat, then I thought of knitting an earband for it in a commercial yarn and seaming that to the inside as a deep hem. I think I got the better part of that trade. Thanks Jenny!

I've got three things on the needles right now. Two you've seen before and the third you haven't. But I'm not showing it yet. I'm sifting through ideas for that one too, so you'll just have to wait! Neener neener.

Autumn winds make me feel mischievous.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rainy Monday

I spend my day at work in meetings. Pretty much all day. It was a rainy drive home, but when I got home, my husband had three nice surprises for me that cheered me up. One, he'd cleaned out the dining room closet, two, he'd organized the pantry, and three, there was a package for me. Top that off with a really tasty dinner and Knit Night tonight and I'm pretty happy despite the rain.

So here's what was in the package:

My Socks that Rock kit! Lovely! I really like the Titania color way and I think the Titania's Revenge pattern is really fabu. I just don't think I like them together. Here's the yarn all wound up. The picture is blurry because we have no sun due to the rain.

I may try the pattern using the recommended yarn, but then again, maybe I won't!
In other news, I finished my APKS this weekend.

I'm going to take a page from Grumperina's book and not bother to knit the second sock. This one doesn't fit quite right and there are some serious mistakes in it. It just doesn't come up to standard as a sock I'd enjoy wearing. But my husband suggested that it would make a lovely Christmas Stocking. What a smartie!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

King's Culture

We discovered the most amazing textile art at the Fair, that was being displayed by a company called King's Silk Embroidery Art. Their website hardly does it justice because the pictures look like paintings. The click the following image so you can see some of the stitch detail.

They had a frame laid out so you could see how the work is done.

They will even work a custom image from a photograph.

We bought one small piece of it home with us. The frame can swivel because this is two-sided embroidery. The goldfish fins are so delicate that they are translucent. There is not a flaw in the whole thing and either side is just as neat.

Seeing work like this makes one aware of the amazing creative capabilities of human beings. I am humbled and awed. Please check out their website and read about the 2500 year-old history of this art form.

Invaded by Boys

The boys had a friend over for a sleep over yesterday and so getting at the computer has been a tough task. I'd better make this quick!

Friday we went to the fair and I took some pictures of my entries. I did okay. My funky socks took second.

Here's the first place winner.
No denying that these are funkier. Maybe not as technically difficult, but then that wasn't the category, was it?

My Fiber Fish also took second.

Here's first place.
This one is a little harder to figure. The category was any knitted article. Presumably the sweater ended up here because there is no category for children's clothing. The stranded work was very well done, but the raglan shaping was a little sloppy. I wonder what the judging criteria was.

Uh oh, boys are drifting back to the machine. Looks like that's all I'll have time for.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I'm almost done my funky scarf. I had an error that caused me to rip back. Then another, so I have to start one section over again. But it is the last section to do. Then the finishing. I do not enjoy knitting the funk. It seems awfully close to the fug.

To soothe my soul, I've been working on my APKS and I've turned the heel. I used eye of the partridge stitch for the flap and continued it onto the bottom of the heel. That part gets some pretty heavy wear too. I was concerned that it might change the dimensions of the heel shaping drastically, but it's not too bad. The gusset is pretty long, so all in all, I think it will balance out. I've only every used this technique before on a band heel. Please excuse the grainy picture, but the image is of the bottom of the heel.

As a contrast to all my UFOs, I give you a mystery. What is this Unidentified Fuzzy Animal?

This little fella was tearing around the computer as I was trying to write this post. So I snapped him. Here's a close up.

Yep, it's a mole.

One Saturday morning I went into the computer room and picked up a half eaten bag of Doritos my kids had left on the floor from Friday night. (We have junk food Friday at our house.) I left it on the counter and went to eat my breakfast. As I was eating I heard a funny sound behind me. I looked, but no one was there. Then the sound came again. I watched the chip bag and sure enough, it moved! I called the kids to come see. We got a box and dumped out the Doritos. There was Mr. Mole, all covered in chip dust. We took him outside and put him down. He was so stunned that he ran in one direction, switched back, ran into my shoe and finally shot off into the grass.

I have no idea what they like about our computer room.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And now for something completely different....

This is a felted cowboy hat. Pattern sold at High Country Knitwear.

Dragon shawl. Pattern information available from Criminy Jickets.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Yarn Hounds

You all are a pack of yarn hounds, baying at the scent of fresh stash.

Before anyone gets too excited, I have to tell you I didn't buy much yarn at the K-W Knitter's Fair. First of all, I put cash into my pocket and I left credit card, check book and bank card at home. This technique worked excellently well for keeping me on my budget, but it was very painful when I realized that I only had enough money left for lunch.

The first thing I bought was a mini sock-blocker on a key ring. It's also the first thing I played with when I got home. I think I want to knit a whole series of seasonal socks that I can switch around as the mood strikes me. First up is autumn.

Then I found some yarn to go with the Fleece Artist Garter Stitch Jacket kit that I bought in the spring at the Toronto Knitter's Frolic. Mary Jane warned me that the kit was not quite enough for an enough for an extra large size. I wanted to get a co-ordinating yarn that I could use for the collar, cuffs, as a button band and on the hem. I thought that this yarn was dyed exactly the right shade. It's even got a high mohair content. I'm thinking it will frame the variegated part of the cardigan. This picture shows my two new skiens along with the Fleece Artist kit.

Next I found the most fabulous buttons. I picked this one for the Garter Stitch Jacket.
And I bought these as well.
The sheep earrings are just too cute, and the buttons are exactly my kind of thing. First of all, spirals speak to me. They are a great symbol of cycles, and growth and turning inward. Then of course there's the sheep. Finally, I prefer buttons that are round since they don't catch on the buttonhole the way many odd shaped buttons do.

I also couldn't resist a little sock yarn. It seemed like an affordable way to try out bamboo.

The needles came from Herschners. Lynn had a coupon and just had to stop to check it out. I found these needles at the back and was intrigued by their flexibility.

For only $2, I just had to bring them home. My friends took mercy on me and bought them for me. Yes, I was down to 3 cents.

And finally, a big apology to Maureen for not including her in the wonderful things seen at the Fair. I guess it's because I saw it in London first. Get a load of her beaded Diamond Fantasy shawl.

Yowza! She strung the tear drop beads at the bottom onto the yarn, but she used a crochet hook and some magic to individually attach the beads in the main body of the shawl. It's all so neat, that someone actually asked if it was done on a machine.

I had to put this post up today since tommorrow I will be at the gym in the morning and the London Knitter's Guild has its first meeting of the new season in the evening. There's going to be a lot of catching up to do!

A Trunk Full of Fun

I had a trunk full of fun and the K-W Knitter's Fair yesterday.

From left to right: Knitty Kat, the best bargain hunter of the day, Me, who was restrained with cash and exuberant with the schmooze, Lynn, driver and shopper extraordinaire, and Maureen, who slammed her budget all to h3ll.

My purchases were slight, but the people I met! Tons of wonderful people including some who are famous. Yes! Famous Knitters!

Sally Melville gave a very entertaining talk on her Top 10 lists for knitters. And she was gracious enough to let me take her picture. Sally is an animated gal and I won't insult her by publishing some of the shots I got. Instead, here's a shot a friend took of me with Sally and I look like a dork. See how much I love ya Sal?

Do you know who this is?

I didn't, but by god I loved her sweater! The first time I saw her walking by I gasped and exclaimed over her it. The second time I saw her walking by I had Maureen with me and I asked if I could please take a picture of the sweater. We exchanged names and Maureen recognized Robin Melanson as a designer frequently seen in Interweave. Lynn just recently finished her Corset Pullover.

And no, she didn't design the sweater. Robin wrote it down for me, it is "Fitted Jacket with Embroidery" from Norsk Strikkedesign (number 100).

This wonderful lady is another Robyn, this time from Red Bird Knits.

She designed one of my all time favourite sock patterns to knit, Gothic Lace. And do you see what she's wearing? It's a vest she designed using the Gothic Lace pattern! It had a wonderful flow to it. Robyn is such a sweetie for letting me post her picture. And she has a blog too.

Here are some people who knit some beautiful sweaters.

This one is denim. I love how the cables have faded out. It's been washed 40 times and looks burnished. I can understand better, having seen it in person, why Kay, of Mason Dixon Knitting, is so nuts about it. I mean enthusiastic! I didn't say you were nuts Kay!

Of course there were more beauties than this. But couldn't always be behind my camera, I had shopping to do! Next post I'll show you my loot and discuss the success of my budget plan.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Resolving the Conflicted Knitter

Mary Jane made a comment last week that I've been pondering on and off ever since.

"You are spending way too much time focusing on the end product. Given that you would rather knit what inspires you, you are really in fact a process knitter. Accept what you are and the conflict within yourself will be resolved. A finished object is just a bonus to a process knitter."

Well first off, I think Mary Jane is right. I am a process knitter. I enjoy many knitting processes, some more than others. Cables and lace make me feel like I can fly, once I get into the pattern and my fingers start to work the intricate details on their own. Color work inspires my soul, but my fingers don't feel it in the same way. Stockinette soothes me when I'm tired, heart-sore, or actively engaged because I'm talking with other knitters or watching a good movie.

For each of these processes I have a different project. There's a sock in my purse. The vacation shawl which is temporarily retired (I may bring it to the Knitter's Fair tomorrow for traveling knitting). My fingers are flying along on the APKS (I've started my second ball). And Dad's vest gives my soul a little thrill when I catch it peeking out at me from under the living room end table .

But I'm also a creator, which means I get great satisfaction from creating something wonderful. I wouldn't enjoy the process as much if the end result was ugly, or useless, or never finished. The projects I've just mentioned I have every intention of finishing in due course. I have some other projects that have lain dormant for a long time. I don't know if I'll finish them, but they don't cause me guilt.

I love to wear my knitting and I love to see it worn. Part of the appeal of knitting to me is that the created object gives comfort to the wearer, both because it soft and warm and because it's beautiful. I am an artist and my artistic statement is that everyday objects are beautiful. I want people to look closer at the things that are around them. Not just intricate socks, but the world around us too, animals, buildings and each other.

Mary Jane, it was my judge that was focused on the end product. That's why I needed to dismiss it's voice. I think I will always be a conflicted person. I resolve one conflict and another arises. But I've been working hard at learning how to more easily resolve my conflicts and to put them in perspective. For now, I'm content with that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Taking Care of Business

every day! Taking care of business
every way! I've been taking care of business....

Do you know, I think there may be a sound track in my head.

So, on today's agenda we have:
Sock Support
You guys are awesome. Thanks for all your support. Here's a bit more background on the Austrian patterned Knee Socks, hence forth known as the APKS, and the voice in my head.

First though, I don't hear voices in my head, I have a voice in my head. It's my own voice alright, but it's a very judgmental and critical part of my personality. I call it my judge and it's very hard to live with and usually has very little of value to add to my life. I've been learning to recognize when my judge is talking so that I can dismiss what it says.

When I got sick, the projects I was knitting for others began to feel like obligations and I wanted something fun and strictly for me. Which is not to say that knitting a vest for my dad is not fun, cause it is! I love the yarn and the pattern. Yeah, the Funky Scarf has me down, but my method for that is to just do a bit on it almost everyday. I'll explain about it more after the swap.

Anyway, once I started to get better, the judge came along and wanted me to stop babying myself. It took me a bit to recognize why I was becoming uncomfortable and writing it down for the internet to see was very good for me. Thanks again y'all!

I believe a progress shot was requested. Here's one of my favourite bits, the calf shaping:

The first issue of Yarnival! is out and my Socks in the Wild post was listed. Hooray! I haven't had a chance to check out the rest of the submissions, but it is on my TODO list. Slap it onto yours too, m'kay?

You remember Holly? I haven't seen her all summer and I really missed her. Holly is the saddest knitter on the planet just now. She has had to give up knitting due to severe tendonitis.

Just look at that sad face! I really hope she gets better soon. Do you think they'd take her picture over on Cute Overload, because I think she has the puppy dog eyes down pat.

Knit in Public on Flicker
Bonne Marie of Chic Knits has started a new group on Flicker - WIP KIP. It's for shots of knitting in public places. You can bet I have some pictures to add, just as soon as I get done posting this. Holly took this shot today for me at lunch.

Those are my co-workers in the background. Some of them actually read this blog: Hi Don! That's David and the Polish Mafia in the back there.

Knitting Book Swap
Today I sent and received my book for the Knitting Book Swap.

It's new, it's nice and I'm looking forward to going through it in more detail. Thanks Elizabeth!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Listen up!

There's a voice in my head telling me that I shouldn't be knitting on the Austrian Patterned Knee Socks. It's a really annoying voice. Just listen.
  • When are you going to wear these socks? You are not going to wear them in your rubber boots young lady! Not after all that work! I don't care how warm they'll be. You'll just ruin them.
  • With the effort you are putting into them you could have knit yourself a sweater by now. That would be much more useful. Do you realize that first ball of yarn is almost gone? That's one whole sock. Or mitten. And you still have to work through about three more of those before you'll have just one pair of socks that you won't even be able to wear much.
  • Shouldn't you be knitting on something else? Like that vest, or the Funky Scarf. You've made promises that you have to keep.
You know, I think that's my mother I hear. I haven't been listening very well. Just see for yourself.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Fixable

By request here are my sweaters.

The Good.
Rogue is my favourite except for the damn pilling. I followed Claudia's mods to make it a cardigan. I had the zipper installed professionally because I was too chicken to do it.

Must show the hood too.

The Bad
This is my horrible, no good, rotten, feltedManosRogue. Um, I think it got felted again. It might make a good donation to Dulaan.

The Fixable
Here's my Ribby Cardi in a state of disrepair. I've put the stitches of the roll collar onto stitch holders to wait for the zipper band. You can see it fits width-wise and the sleeve length is great. But I'm just uncomfortable wearing it as a cropped sweater.

The plan, which Holly helped me come up with, is to knit up my extra length, and magically attach it to the bottom of the sweater. This may mean mattress stitch or it may mean ripping out the cast on row and kitchenering it together. I could pick up and knit down, but the theory is that my ribbing will have a nasty off-by-one error all the way around that would be pretty noticeable.

If anyone else has tried something that worked for them, please! let me know.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I hab a cold ib my node

Thanks for your sympathy regarding my horror story. Carrie, I will try to post a picture of the horror, but right now, I'm not fit to be seen by man or beast. I am currently in the running to replace Rudolph at the front of Santa's sleigh. My nose, she glows!

So we're doing just about nothing this holiday weekend. I'm sick, it's raining and their are crafty things to be done! I lengthened a pair of socks for my mother-in-law. The longer one has the grey toe and is on the bottom.

For those inquiring minds, this is Sock Bug's River Rapids pattern knit with Trekking XXL, and they were a Mother's Day present. Not much use if they don't fit properly though.

For a break from knitting, I created some stitchmarkers. I bought the fish bead in honour of my fish mittens. What do you think Maureen, am I a credit to your teaching? I had to quit after these four because I broke a pin and my nose started to drip. (Oops! TMI)

And in a fit of cold medicine induced nuttiness I started knitting the Austrian socks from Socks, Socks, Socks. I had to try it on to see if it would fit over my calf. I have generous calves, thanks in part to regular walking. I have started going back to the gym in the last month and while I expect to get toned and to therefore "shrink" somewhat I know from experience that my calves don't get smaller. So now that I know they fit, I can carry on. At least until the cold medicine wears off.