Water-logged WIP Wednesday

Mr. H and I were soaked (despite wearing raincoats and wellies) on the way home from school so we decided to forego our outing for today in the hopes that we'll have better weather next week during half term. I'm not sure how thrilled he was with the idea of seeing Kensington Palace anyway, although the promise of a trip to the pirate-ship playground next door in Kensington Gardens seemed to be working.

I'm thinking half-term might be a good time for Mr. H and I to visit the Thames Flood Barrier and learn how it works.

I'm thinking half-term might be a good time for Mr. H and I to visit the Thames Flood Barrier and learn how it works.

In any event, the torrential downpour this afternoon is the perfect excuse to catch you up on what I've been working on.

10 squares down, 43 more to go!

10 squares down, 43 more to go!

Of course you all know about the crochet squares in SweetGeorgia's gorgeous semi-solid colourways that I've been making into Bear's Rainbow Blanket in preparation for Unravel. It's knit night tonight so I'm hoping to chug through this pile some more.

I have exactly 49.5g left of a 100g skein to knit the other mitten. It's going to be close...

I have exactly 49.5g left of a 100g skein to knit the other mitten. It's going to be close...

More "work knitting" includes the commission I have for a pair of simple, fingerless mittens. A fellow in Jordan's office admired his and asked if I'd be willing to make a pair for him. We've happily agreed to barter. He's getting mittens and as he's a graphic designer, I'm getting a professionally-designed flyer for this year's Great London Yarn Crawl. Hooray! The pattern is Ysolda's Garter Stitch Mitts, knit in Spud & Chloe Sweater.

No lace charts. Just 9 pages of line-by-line instructions. Just the way I like it!

No lace charts. Just 9 pages of line-by-line instructions. Just the way I like it!

And then of course there's my "Olympic Knitting". This year I've joined Team Canada to try and stay motivated with the knitting and the various groups and activities going on on Ravelry. I've generally tended to do this sort of event-based knitting on my own but I think that this time around, being away from Canada, it's important to me to feel more connected. I don't agree with the politics of this winter games' host country or how scary it must be for some athletes to not be able to be themselves at these games. Rather than boycott though, I'm knitting to show as much support for our Canadian athletes as I can. In their honour, I'm knitting the Maple Leaf Knit Shawl in some Canadian Fiddlesticks Knitting lace-weight yarn from deep in my stash, held double to get closer to gauge.

What have you been working on lately?

The Year in Review - 2010 Edition

If it was possible to become any more enthusiastic about the fibre arts, then 2010 was the year for the growth of that enthusiasm.

Growth in terms of inspiration. Growth in terms of knowledge and learning new techniques. 

Growth in terms of (ahem) stash. What can I say? It was a road trip kind of year...

Here's a recap of all I learned this year - it's a doozy!


What I learned: intarsia knitting, knitting with bobbins, and that sometimes your 2 year old doesn't want to wear something just because you knit it. Project: Pirate's Cutie Sweater by Shiri Mor (Rav link)


What I learned: how to knit lace (sort of - there's still a lot to learn!), that knitting with 100% cashmere is awesome, that 100% cashmere grows when it's wet, that knitting elastic can help make something knit in cashmere fit when it's grown too big in it's washing/blocking, and not to stress oneself out with a crazy deadline like the Knitting Olympics (which I also learned was pretty fun!). Project: Ishbel Beret by Ysolda Teague


What I learned: buttonholes, knitting things for new babies is fun, and the combination of baby alpaca, merino, and bamboo is pretty gorgeous and soft. Project: Striped Baby Sweater by Denise Powell (Patternfish link)


What I learned: that sometimes knitting the exact same thing can be just as fun, if not more so, in another colour. Project: Striped Toddler Sweater (pattern was through The Purple Purl)


What I learned: knitting in the round, cables, specialty stitches, finishing with finer attention to detail, and that private lessons for extra help are totally worth it. Project: Botanica Medallion Cardigan by Shiri Mor


What I learned: spinning is fun! especially when it's a combination of merino and silk...


What I learned: three needle bind-off, that my kid will tell random strangers on the subway that his mommy is knitting him a dinosaur hat and that it's green. Project: Morehouse Dragon Hat


What I learned: how to knit socks, and that it's okay to still not be sure that you might be one of those crazy-addicted-to-knitting-socks kind of people. Project: Training Sock by Kate Atherley of Wise Hilda Knits


What I learned: seaming/finishing, adapting a pattern to suit your own needs, substituting another yarn, how to find more yarn when you think you're running out (just in case) and then not need it after all, how to tweak a pattern so that the details are "better", how to plan and stick to a schedule when knitting a project in secret for 5 months, and that it is still possible to surprise your husband for Christmas. Project: Tom by Jane Ellison


What I learned: more cabling, that you can find last-minute things to knit from your stash and get a lot done on a plane out west just in time for Christmas for your mother-in-law to be delighted. Project: Cabled Keyhole Scarf by Anne Hanson  

What I learned: felting, that it's okay to leave something off of a project because you're not crazy about it after all, and that there's still always time to finish one more project when you're on vacation. Project: French Press Felted Slippers by Melynda Bernardi 


I also learned that no matter how hard I try, I'm always going to have projects on the needles, and that's okay. Other learnings included stranded colourwork, wheel spinning, spindle spinning, and photography for knitters.

And while this wasn't a new learning it was nice to have it reinforced all the same: that it's so important to have a creative outlet through which you can express yourself, and that if you can share that creativity too, it's so rewarding. One of my stitchy friends, Lara, moved back to Toronto this year and I can't tell you how lovely it is for our whole group to be back together again. Creating together, laughing together, supporting each other together.

It's kind of been a big year - I can't wait to see what comes next with 2011!

One year, one book - one project finished

Okay, it's done. Better late than never, right? Oh, the drama...!

Since I'm still new to the whole knitting thing, and learning more as I go, I wasn't entirely aware that there are times when you don't need to wash and block projects when you're done if they don't need to be, or that some natural fibres behave differently than others. Makes sense, right?

So there I am earlier this week. I *finally* finished knitting my Olympic knitting while watching the Oscars and was so thrilled, that I stayed up until around 1am to wash it, lay it out to dry, etc.

The *second* the knitting hit the water, it started to *expand*. Let's not forget I was already knitting it in the largest size...

Needless to say, my first instinct was to try not to panic too much. I figured my LYS could help me with some recommendations on how to salvage it. The panicking was coming from the fact that I knew they were closed on Monday...

Anyway, I ranted on Rav and then headed to the Purl on Tuesday for knit night where, unfortunately, they weren't able to help me beyond suggesting I use knitter's elastic in the brim to help make it less stretched out. Luckily, a fellow knitter there had some and I managed to try it out last night with modest success. Many thanks to Alison (aka coilycurly on Ravelry) who gave me her knitter's elastic.

One of the great recos that the Purple Purl did make though, was to read The Knitters Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes. I already had it but hadn't had a chance to dive it yet. Didn't buy it so much for the project as for the information about various yarn and fibres in general, which was why they recommended it. Apparently I'll come away with a much better understanding of why different fibres react the way they do when knit. Now I'm *really* looking forward to reading this book!

It's not as great as I feel it was before it stretched out, but it has been salvaged enough for me to be okay with it to the point where I'm no longer ready to rip it back and start reknitting it, so I'm no longer as disappointed as I was initially. Luckily the style of hat is a beret, so it's meant to be pretty floppy too as the laceweight yarn is very light and floofy. I think if I knit this again I'll definitely use something with a little more substance, maybe a dk weight?

But, kudos to me... in the one-year-one-book-miko-challenge, this is the first project I've finished! Only 9 more to go...! And hey, it *was* my first lace attempt!

Oh, and here's a pic of the back:

DNF is not an option

In the Olympics as I've learned over the last week and a half, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. It's got to be pretty heartbreaking as an athlete to see that on the standings, for whatever reason, when you've worked so hard to get to that point.

It's cheesy, but makes me think of one of the last scenes in the film Cool Runnings, after the Jamaican bobsled team has wiped out on the track, and together the four teammates walk the rest of the way down the track, carrying their sled over the finish line (in typical Disney-fied, Hollywood fashion).

I'll be the first one to admit that starting over is probably a pretty gutsy if not stupid move at this point. But I also have to agree with Lara (who commented on my previous post) that to "just go with it" on a project that uses such beautiful yarn would be sort of sacreligious. I was prepared to continue until I ended up four stitches short on my latest round, with no idea where the heck they went. Clearly the fact that I've been concentrating to the point of causing severe muscular tension and ensuing headaches isn't enough and I need to pay attention more to what I'm doing. But hey, as the athletes would say, "no pain, no gain".

Next Olympics, someone remind me not to select a project that has lace in it. Just sayin'.

In any event, not being able to figure out where I'd gone wrong, and really wanting to do a good job with the projects from Whimsical Little Knits in the Miko Challenge at the Purple Purl this year, I decided to cast on from scratch tonight, after re-learning the provisional cast-on from a Lucy Neatby tutorial on YouTube. I'm now 14 rows in again, with another 6 to go before the lace starts. It's going to be a race to the finish.

I'm sure the Olympians wouldn't have it any other way.


Progress, not prowess

Okay, so it still doesn't look like much. But that my friends, is yarn. Woo! Actually, it's probably more acurate to call it spun fibre, and in this case it's a wool and silk blend (I think, I'm a little fuzzy on the details since I was overcome with excitement to be actually getting the hang of this spinning thing!).

You can see in the pic too, that I was using a different wheel this time. That model was a Louet Victoria and was a nice, compact, traveling wheel. One of the great things about this spinning course is being able to try out different wheels to get a sense of what I like and don't like. This one was a double treadle, which I think I definitely like over the single treadle.

In fact, I got so excited about making actually spinning progress, that I went out and bought some roving at my regular knit night to continue practicing with. I purchased two good sized bags, two different colours, so they'll last a fair while. After spinning a bit of each for my "homework" today I learned about plying and put the two colours together to make this:

It's my first spun yarn! Yay! Pretty neat stuff. Already I've learned that I can be adding more twist to my spinning (before I had TOO much, now I have too little, go figure, it's not an exact science). But I'm pretty proud of it, and I think the colours are kind of neat together. Might as well enjoy practicing, right?

In other WIP update news, I seem to be motoring along okay on my Ishbel Beret for the Knitting Olympics. I've made a couple of mistakes, one that I can sort of see but I'll fix with a little tack later, and the other I have no idea where it happened. Periodically though, I've ended up with one fewer or one more stitch than I seem to need, so I'm just going with it. I figure if I can't find the error, most people won't be able to either. And I can always have that part be the part of the tam that is underneath the slouchy bit, you know? Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!