Friday, April 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location: knitting and crochet blog week, day 5

I'm getting to the point where I am comfortable knitting most places. I'm kind of shy, so knitting in public didn't really appeal to me at first - having to field questions from curious strangers! Ack! But I've mostly gotten over that now.

This past semester I used knitting as a relaxation tool more than I ever have before, and carried around my Noro knee sock project to get a few calming stitches in before classes and during breaks. Pretty soon, some of my classmates and even instructors were keeping tabs on my progress. Too bad I still haven't finished the socks! I also discovered a few more knitters among my library school classmates - there were at least 6 in my children's literature class.

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I knit on the train, or on long car journeys.

Knitting often happens in front of my computer if I'm using youtube to figure out techniques, or if I haven't printed off the pattern I'm using. Also, I tend to knit when talking on Skype. Skype is an important communication tool for me since my boyfriend lives excessively far away. I'm not sure he's always impressed when I say, "See! I'm making a sock!" and wave it in front of the webcam, though.

Now that I'm back home and the weather has been usually warm for spring (other than the snowfall the other day pffft), I have been doing some knitting on the patio!

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The project on the chair is Sugar Maple from 2-at-a-Time Socks, by Melissa Morgan-Oakes - my first socks done two at a time. (Disaster stories forthcoming.)


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Skill: knitting and crochet blog week, day 4

There are loads of knitting and fibre-related things I don't know how to do yet that I'd like to try. Designing/writing up a pattern is one. Steeking, instarsia, needle-felting, and double-knitting are others.

However, I suspect I'm not alone in wanting to learn to spin.

handspun
This is a load of handspun that I received as a gift. I've been gradually dyeing it and using it, but one day I want to be able to make something like it.

One thing that attracts me to crafty pursuits in general is the idea that I can produce beautiful and useful things myself. I like being able to make something from scratch. Since becoming a committed knitter, I decided that someday I want all my sweaters to be handmade. I'd also like to become a better sewer to be able to produce more of the rest of my clothes - but that's a whole other blog post.

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The logical progression of these thoughts is that I'd love to be able to make yarn to knit with. Being involved in another step in the creative process is really appealing to me. If (when) I learn to spin, I'll also have access to a variety of fibres that don't seem to be quite as available in mass produced yarn.

What is stopping me at the moment is fear of accumulated a fibre stash. But some day I'll get a drop-spindle and sign up for a spinning class.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Great Knitter: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day 3

When writing today's blog week post, I realized that I was gushing over not only this person's knitting greatness, but her many other inspiring qualities. I guess I could call this "An Inspirational Knitter," as a nod to yesterday's inspirational pattern post.

Kate Davies, designer of the popular Owls sweater and other sweaters and accessories, is also a writer, academic and a keen walker. All these things intertwine resulting in varied, interesting, and eloquent blog posts. I look forward to reading about her walking adventures in picturesque parts of Scotland, or investigations of textile history as much as I do her unique knitwear designs.

Kate recently had a stroke, and is now documenting her recovery on her blog. She has also set up another site to archive the cards and items she has received from friends, including many from the fibre-blogging world. It is scary for me to think about losing mobility, but Kate's writing about her own experiences learning how to walk again (and knit again) make for very inspiring reading.

I'll admit that I haven't knit any of her designs yet, but owls and Lyttleton are definitely on my list, and I know there will be more to come.



knitcroblo3

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Inspirational Pattern: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, day 2

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

The inspirational pattern I have chosen is Sylvi, by Mari Muinonen. I love the cabled vines on the back of the coat, and the relatively calm front design. Having never knit a coat before, this would be a massive project for me. But look at how awesome the results are!

Some of the many beautiful Sylvis out there
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1. Jess Yarnmonster's Sylvi, 2. SpoK Bags' DSC_0013, 3. Anna's FlickrCorner's Front of Sylvi, 4. Litter Box House's sylvi back 3, 5. evelyn1969's Sylvi, 6. WoolPower's Sylvi, hood..., 7. impostinator's P1010547, 8. embla_2000's sylvi13, 9. orlinj02's DSC_1134

What is stopping me from casting on right away is the level of commitment needed to finish such a big project, and the hefty yarn requirements. In addition, I'm not sure if a knitted coat would be at all useful in my life, since I live in a land of extreme temperatures; however, I am planning a big move across the Atlantic to a place with a different climate, so maybe I'll make it when I get there!

I want one in green.

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's post. I'm having lots of fun perusing everyone's stories!



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Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting Out: knitting and crochet blog week 1

Today is the first day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.



For today's topic, "Starting Out," I found some objects associated with my knitting past to illustrate my reminiscences.

I've written about my knitterly beginnings on this blog a bit before, but chances are nobody has read that old post, so I'll reprise it here. Apologies if this seems like repetitive navel-gazing; this is a blog, after all!

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baby sweater inspired by Knitting Without Tears, by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Knitting happened sporadically in my family growing up. My grandmother knit all the grandchildren intarsia animal sweaters - I remember giraffes, lions, and dinosaurs in sturdy acrylic. My dad even knit me the above sweater from Knitting Without Tears when I was a baby, although that may have been the first and last thing he knit.

My mom is primarily a sewer, but she is also a process-knitter, and she was the one who taught me to knit when I was a child. I can't remember whether I approached her with the request, or whether she offered to teach me, but I was probably 8 or 9 when I first learned. Then I forgot. Then she taught me again. Then I forgot. Then she taught me again. At some point it stuck. Conveniently, I've just moved back home, so I had a hunt for evidence of early knitting, and found a few things.

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In between the learning and forgetting, I knit swatches from variegated acrylic yarn, almost exclusively. (Hello Red Heart!) That one could produce finished objects with a use or a purpose never seems to have occurred to me in my early knitting days. I was content to swatch away. I remember experimenting with beads, creating knitted pouches beaded on in inside: treasure pouches! I couldn't find any of these pouches, but I did find an early swatch that served as a doll blanket, pictured above.

My dad built me a knitting spool from a dowel with some nails with which I happily produced a family of snakes. No snakes remain, but I still have the spool:
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One Chanukah, when I was 9 or 10 I received Sunny's Mittens, by Robin Hansen. This is a picture book about a girl learning to knit her own Lovikka mittens, including instructions for felted mittens from lopi yarn. This book eventually lead to my first proper FO, and I must have realized that knitting could be useful. It took me a few years of knitting on and off to finish them, and I grew out of the resulting mittens pretty quickly once they were finished.

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But I made them, and I was pretty excited about that.

I dabbled in crochet in grade 7 and 8 after our Family Studies teacher taught the class to crochet, with the aim of producing an afghan for a homeless shelter. A friend of mine made some money crocheting squares for some recalcitrant boys who considered crocheting a threat to their 12-year-old masculinity, but were still required to hand in a square. I enthusiastically crocheted a lopsided rectangle for the cause, and went on to experiment. My favourite FO was a purse that I made without a pattern: it was sort of orange-y brown and cylindrical, and I was totally in love with it. Unfortunately, my locker got broken into in my the first week of high school, and it was stolen. I was heartbroken, and I basically haven't crocheted since. Haha. I'm not sure the two are directly connected, but hey. That's how I remember it.

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Here's a weird crocheted pillbox hat thing from that era.

After that, I didn't knit much until university. I got back into knitting with Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch, and got back into it in a huge way once Ravelry came along as an enabling tool for all things yarny. The rest is history!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

word/symbol/blogging/yarn

First, a weekly word. Then some rambles about blogging. Then some yarn. Excited?

Octothorpe

the symbol #

~Merriam Webster

Much cooler to say "octothorpe" than "pound sign" or "hash key," in my opinion.

In other news, I will be participating in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week next week.



I'm a pretty quiet blogger, and I don't really feel like part of any "blogging community" - I read lots of blogs, and I comment occasionally, but I'm mostly a lurker. I'm looking forward to finding new and fun knit/crochet blogs over the course of the week (because I clearly need to follow more blogs! Haha).

Anyway, I think the exercise will be interesting. Unlike November blog posting month, this one has daily suggested topics. So you won't be getting any random stressed out rambles. At least, that's not the plan.

By the way, I'm finished graduate school. So that crazy stress? Should be lifting any day now... Stress has become habitual.

I promised yarn, so here we go:

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This is Elann Sock It To Me 4-Ply - the last two skeins of the batch I ordered. I used PAAS Easter egg dyes (50% off, hurray), and I'm surprised yet pleased at the results.

I followed this tutorial, except instead of steaming the yarn to set the colour, I used the microwave.

It has been awhile since I dyed Easter eggs, so I had forgotten that dye tablets don't resemble the colours they produce. Hurray! Experiments with no idea how it will turn out! I'm pretty happy with it, and it reminds me a bit of rainbow sherbet. Mmmm childhood.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday Word: Cachinnate

Tomorrow I will attend my last class of graduate school, which has turned me into a complete crazy person for the last few months or weeks. So today's word is appropriate.

Cachinnate
laugh loudly and in an unrestrained way
~Free Online Dictionary

I predict much cachinnation tomorrow starting at around noon. Possibly accompanied by consumption of fine ale, but maybe not. There might be cachinnation before that coming from various faculty members as I do one final group presentation... but that's kind of a worst-case scenario, since database design turns out not to be that funny.

What's a word for a mixture of excitement and trepidation? Because that's what I feel right now. So ready to be done this degree...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Word... Friday.

Fustian

n.

1.
a. A coarse sturdy cloth made of cotton and flax.
b. Any of several thick twilled cotton fabrics, such as corduroy, having a short nap.
2. Pretentious speech or writing; pompous language.

adj.

1. Made of or as if of fustian
2. Pompous, bombastic, and ranting


~Free Online Dictionary

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Nothing to do with the word, but it was a lucky picture the other day. Anybody know what this odd rectangular beetle is?

Most of the new words I learn come from trawling dictionaries, but this one I learned from literature.

"A thief in fustian is a vulgar character, scarcely to be thought of by persons of refinement; but dress him in green velvet, with a high-crowned hat, and change the scene of his operations, from a thickly peopled city to a mountain road, and you shall find in him the very soul of poetry and adventure."
~Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens

Sunday, April 04, 2010

magenta to purple: success!

Last night, this:

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became this:

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I used maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of Wilton's royal blue, and I could have used less.

The camera lies: the first yarn is a brighter magenta colour in unnatural light, and the second is really a deep Western purple: not navy blue.

The magenta yarn is the same I used for my Endpaper mitts two years ago. (TWO YEARS?! Gah!)

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It's not really my colour, and I've been trying to find a project for the remaining skein ever since. This dyeing thing. It's addictive and terribly exciting. And now I have a colour of yarn I will actually use! This is only going to encourage me to dye more.

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Twist Collective and summery weather

Twist Collective Spring/Summer 2010 is out, and the weather in London, ON is suspiciously summer like. I've been sitting on my tiny little porch brewing sun tea and knitting, listening to the birds, and avoiding my last few projects for library school. I'm waiting for the other shoe, as it were.

But anyway. I eagerly look forward to this online magazine for the usually beautiful photography as much as for the patterns and articles. Vivian is my only Twist project so far, but there will be more in the future, I promise.

I'm not really a spring/summer knitter, so I didn't expect to find much in this particular issue, but there are a few things I might make. Eventually. (It's a good thing I'm not in love with the entire issue, given how many Twist Collective patterns I have in my queue). Perhaps predictably, I've gravitated towards the more long-sleeved garments that I could see working for fall, rather than the airy summer tops.

Abrazo
This shawl is sweet and pretty. I will keep it in mind, but there are so many sweet/pretty other shawl/shawlette/scarf things in my queue, and I think these will take precendence.

Tanis
For me, this is one of the most wearable items in the issue. It's not super-duper exciting or groundbreaking, but it's totally wearable and I respect that. I like the button details.

Timpani
This strikes me as a good fall jacket, maybe in something 100% wool. I think it's neat-looking, and I'm intrigued by the construction. Never thought I was into faux marching-band styling... but hey! Looks cool.

Vym and Wallflower are both socks that I think would be awesome as fingerless mitts instead. I don't think stranded socks are particularly summery, since they would be so so warm! But I do love the colour patterns.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Word: Crepuscular

Crepuscular

1. of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.
2. Zoology. appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects.


~Dictionary.com

I'm sure I've learned this word before. To me, it sounds like a word describing the exoskeleton of some creature of the deep rather than something associated with twilight, that mysterious, brooding, and romantic time of night. (note: I'm talking about twilight, not Twilight with a capital T :P).