It’s never a bad time to order yarn

Sometimes life is no fun at all and you have to decide to either curl up in the fetal position or crack on with things. Frankly, I often chose the fetal position since I know from experience that it can be very effective, especially when combined with sleeping under a big fluffy duvet. Besides, there are just some situations where cracking on is a waste of time and energy and the only solution to a problem is to lie down and close your eyes. If I could only figure out how to knit while sleeping, I’d have it made!

Occasionally, I’ve ordered yarn during a time when I’m feeling really good, when optimism is my watchword, and then when the box arrives, I can barely bring myself to open it because I’m feeling too low. But when I do, it always cheers me. Best of all, I’ve ordered yarn when I’m on the downswing and by the time the package arrives, I’m feeling better and it’s like Christmas all over again. The bottom line is, there really is no bad time to order yarn.

jojoland_rhythm_13

Jojoland Rhythm – Bumble Berry

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, I was feeling a little blah when I saw that Elann was having a Full Bag Blowout on something I’ve always wanted to try: Jojoland Rhythm in Bumble Berry at 10 balls for U$20. (You can also order individual balls at $2.85/each.) Say what?! Three seconds later, my order was submitted. To round it up so I could apply a $2.50 voucher, I also ordered single skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica for a mere $7.88 in a pale grey and Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in a lovely brownish Heath Heather for $2.48. The box came today (Elann has the best service!) and when I saw it perched on my desk at work, my heart skipped a little and I felt pure delight.

wool classicaClassic WoolDon’t frickin’ ask me what I’m going to make with this yarn, at least not yet. Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking maybe a Mitered Crosses or Log Cabin Blanket for the Jojoland Rythym. I love the thick-and-thin Manos and might make myself a Felicity hat for fall (I had a very hard time giving away the lime green one I made for Alexis!) For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy looking at and playing with my squishy new stash additions and revel in this happy moment.

Thank you knitting, once again, for making my day better.

felicity

Lime Green Felicity

 

 

Book Review – Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage

cover_lo_1000x1294

Big love for Alana Dakos

Alana Dakos is the super-talent behind the Never Not Knitting blog and podcast. I’ve been a fan of hers forever (who doesn’t love Coastal Knits, the legendary Cedar Leaf Shawlette and zillions of her other pretty things?) but I went into immediate obsessive-adoration mode when I saw the previews for her amazing new book: Botanical Knits.

Inspired partly by the plants and forests of California, every single one of the 12 gorgeous designs cries out to be made. Immediately. Colour-work like Fair Isle and stranding are very beautiful but in my heart, I am a texture knitter.  There is just something about the way cables weave together impossibly to make a squishy delicious fabric that really makes me happy.  And this book makes me very, very happy.  A quick read of various comments on Ravelry will tell you I’m not alone in wanting to make every leafy, twiggy thing in the book.

Here are some of my very most favourites from the book:

Entangled Vines cardigan
Entangled Vines cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forest Floor beanie

Forest Floor beanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapped in Leaves

Wrapped in Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twigs and Willows cardigan

Twigs and Willows cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instant Gratification – buy it now!

Purchase this beauty now at www.botanicalknits.com. The “real” book is available for pre-order (it ships in May 2013) and the price includes a free ebook that you can download today and start drooling over immediately. You can also buy the ebook only if that’s what you prefer. But after listening to Alana’s podcast on the subject (episode 69), the book is a piece of art in itself and while ebooks are awesome for pattern portability (especially when you can mark them up on GoodReader on your iPad), I love holding a real book in my hands.

N.B. all photos in this post are from the book and are by Carlee Tatum (prettyminded.com)

 

Forgive me, for I am a selfish knitter…

I try to be a good person, but…

I am actually a terrible person. I have all these plans to knit Christmas gifts for other people (e.g. a vintage Mary Maxim reindeer sweater for The Girl, cowls and fingerless mitts for various and sundry friends and/or relatives, a hat and socks for my husband, etc. etc.), but I keep getting distracted by stuff for me. Plus, I’m having trouble using my copious stash for these urgently required items so I keep buying things.  For instance, this Spud & Chloe Fine that I just bought for the husband’s Chili Pepper Hat, which I’m almost finished:

Spud & Chloe Fine in Hippo and Pavement

In fact, I was recently busted by the aforementioned spouse when he asked me “Hey, I once heard you say that you have more yarn than you’ll ever use in your lifetime, so why did you just buy more?” Naturally, I had no answer for this so pretended I hadn’t heard the question. How can I possibly make him understand that, yes, I have a veritable mountain of perfectly good fingering weight yarn stored under every bed and in every closet in the house, but none in the exact colour needed for the hat I’m making you with all the love in my heart.

Um, yeah…. I’m keeping that

An example of an object tricot initially meant for someone else that I have subsequently selfishly appropriated is Jane Richmond‘s Rae, which I made using SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock in a custom colourway from Knit City. I think you’ll agree that the pattern and the yarn were born for each other. Just look how stripey it is without being pool-y:

Rae Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, my idea was that this will be a gift for someone as-yet-undetermined, but the more I look at it and wrap it around my neck, the more I realize that I need to just accept that the only way someone else will have this is if it’s pried from my cold dead hands.

Also, I just finished Veronik Avery’s beautiful Lace Weekend Socks, which I cast on with every intention to gift them, but once finished, I put them on and, Bingo!, suddenly they were mine. Veronik’s (very sadly discontinued) St-Denis Boreale yarn is absolutely divine for socks. So woolly and cozy, it’s impossible to imagine giving them away. In fact, just the thought of parting with them made me a little weepy. (BTW, go to stdenisyarns.com now – all the yarn (Boreale, Nordique and Sommet) plus her lovely patterns are on clearance.)

Lace Weekend Socks

 

More distraction

And now, after digesting Jane’s exquisite new book Island and favouriting every single pattern, I’ve just placed an order from Quince & Co. for two skeins of their Sparrow linen yarn in Juniper to make her Strathcona scarf. (Update: I just received notification that it has shipped. Wheee!!)  And this time, I’m not even bothering to pretend that it’s for anyone but me. I mean seriously, this colour has me written all over it.

Sparrow in “Juniper” (photo from Quince & Co.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news as far as my Christmas knitting goes is that the aforementioned Sparrow won’t arrive for a few weeks (shipping from Maine) so I’ll have plenty of time to cast on the reindeer sweater and maybe even get most of it finished before the end of November.  Providing, of course, that my inner magpie can resist becoming distracted by other shiny projects in the meantime. (Yarn gods give me strength!)

Something I plan to focus on after my Christmas work is done is plowing through Pacific Knits, the other book I bought at Knit City. I love every single pattern in it. My niece is expecting again in a few months and I’ll need some wee woolies for him/her and a tiny-sized Antler Cardigan would be a perfect.. Happily, I may have stash yarn for this – which of course pretty much cancels out the cost of the Quince & Co purchase. It’s like getting free yarn! Right? Right? (Just nod in agreement.) That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  🙂

Antler Cardigan (photo by Tin Can Knits)

Happy knitting y’all!

 

Knit City 2012 (or the best way to have fun at the Croatian Cultural Centre)

Free Stuff – wheeee!

I’m so glad I got up early today – I managed to be among the first 50 attendees at Knit City 2012 this morning and was lucky enough to receive a gorgeous Knit City tote filled with awesome freebies:

Just look at all the awesome stuff I got!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously Gorgeous Yarn – SweetGeorgia and Blue Sky Alpacas

Then I trolled the many vendor booths before deciding on some very special items.  First off, I picked up a skein of SweetGeorgia Yarns‘ specially dyed Tough Love Sock.  It’s an exclusive colourway called “Knit Social 2012”, made especially for Knit City.  I’ll probably use it for a scarf or shawl or cowl or… who knows!  Just look at it.  It is gorgeousness:

Tough Love Sock in “Knit Social 2012”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also stopped to chat with the gals at the Knits by the Sea booth (they’re from beautiful Tofino) and snagged some Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight yarn in a delicious green at 50% off.  There’s no colour name on the tag so I’m calling it Lime Squishy.  Because it’s a lime-y green and it’s very squishy.  This yarn must be touching skin at all times and therefore has “cowl” written all over it.

Blue Sky Alpacas “Lime Squishy” Sport Weight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I went back to the ATM and got some more money for the piece de resistance, SweetGeorgia’s CashLuxe Fine (in “Charcoal” and “Silver”) and Silk Mist (in “Mist”) to make her Five by Five cowl.  My respiratory system almost shut down when I clapped eyes on these colours and buried my face in the heavenly softness of this yarn.  I’m sorry people, but there really is no substitute for the combination of cashmere and silk.

SweetGeorgia’s CashLuxe Fine and Silk Mist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the best kind of book?  A knitting book, of course!

I also sprang for some books, both of which I’ve been coveting and both of which the authors signed for me.  Sigh.

First is Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel‘s ridiculously fantastic new book, Pacific Knits.  Not only are they simply beautiful designs, but all of them are written to fit babies from 0-6 months all the way up to adult sized 4XL.  (Whhaaaa!??  Everyone should be doing this!) Would someone please alert the Nobel committee – these gals deserve a prize for total awesomeness!  Bonus points – I had a lovely chat with the uber-talented Alexa at her booth – she and her wee newborn bairn were a delight.

Pacific Knits

Also added to my library is the amazing and beautiful Jane Richmond‘s new book, Island, available as a special pre-release at Knit City.  Elegant, original and fresh, this collection of luxe accessories and sweaters is breathtaking.  Beautifully photographed, this books inspires me to spend every waking moment knitting.  Go to luvinthemommyhood to read more and watch a cool preview video.

ISLAND: A Collection on Vimeo.

Can’t wait for Knit City 2013

Thanks Knit Social for an amazing event.  I had a blast meeting and talking to my fellow knitting obsessives.  I’ll definitely be up again at the crack of dawn to snag more swag at Knit City 2013!  But for now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my new yarn on the bed and roll around in it whilst I read my new books.   🙂

 

Interweave eMags for iPad – LaceKnits and ColorKnits 2012

LaceKnits and ColorKnits 2012

Notwithstanding the controversy on some Ravelry boards about how Interweave’s latest eMags are available only for the iPad, I feel as though I must tell the world how wonderful they are and why you should buy them.  I’m not exaggerating when I say these digital magazines make iPads worth every single penny.  (For the record, I have no affiliation with Interweave  or Apple – I just love their products.)

These unique products maximize the amazing capability of the iPad.  If you have one, you already know that the retina display and touchscreen transform content into a visual delight.  With LaceKnits and ColorKnits 2012 (I only have previous issues of Sockupied on my Mac but I’m pretty sure they’re a knockout on iPad too).  And if you don’t want to carry your iPad with you, it’s super easy to save the pattern PDFs to GoodReader, DropBox or any other app you like using. 

LaceKnits is perfect for anyone who loves knitting lace, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or newbie. 

ColorKnits explores using colour to make the most of your knitting.  (BTW, I’m Canadian so when I’m not using the copyrighted title ColorKnits, I’m going to spell “colour” the right way.  J)

As with all of Interweave’s eMags, they each include several beautiful patterns, informative articles and tons of interactivity, including live links, videos and pop-ups.  At $4.99 each, that’s a pretty good deal considering how much content there is and the number of patterns included. Besides they’re a great resource and lots of fun to use.

Inside LaceKnits

LaceKnits

The patterns in LaceKnits are:

There’s also a cool video of Ysolda Teague talking about why she loves lace.  Franklin Habit writes about Shetland Lace, and there’s an awesome article about joining halves of a stole invisibly with a revolutionary grafting method.  Also, Sivia Harding will teach you how to design a triangular shawl and Margaret Stove will talk about designing with lace.  Also included are yarn reviews, blocking tips, and a history lesson about lace through the ages.

Inside ColorKnits

ColorKnits 2012

ColorKnits 2012 is subtitled “A Fresh Look at Technique and Tradition” and this eMag is just that.  It’s easy for knitters to get stuck in a colour rut (i.e. I have been addicted to purple and pink my whole flippin’ life!).  I bought this eMag to help me learn to see colour differently and expand my palette. You’ll find these patterns:

  • Complementary Cowl by Ann Weaver
  • Logwood Pullover by Michele Rose Orne
  • Maarika Bag by Lucinda Guy
  • Sea Ranch Beret by Alice Starmore
  • Rilievi Scarf by Heather Zoppetti
    (note: not all the patterns are linked to Ravelry yet but you can get more info and see pics of each project on the Knitting Daily blog)

You can read Anne Merrow’s profile of Ms. Starmore, learn about intarsia and embroidery techniques, how to use a colour wheel to choose yarn colours and discover the yarns of Swans Island Yarns in Maine.

Just do it 

If you knit and have an iPad, these eMags are gotta-haves.  If you don’t have an iPad, seriously think about saving your pesos and getting one.  You’ll be glad you did.

Go now to the Interweave Store and follow the link to the Apple iTunes store for the free apps (there’s a separate app for each publicaton), then buy the eMags for $4.99 each.  Enjoy!  You can thank me later.

Note: All photos in this post are © Interweave Knits

 

Mad about Mad Men and Cardigan Love

I won’t even pretend that I’m sticking to my queue. I initially wanted to cast on Acorns or Alexandria but realized I don’t have anything suitable for either in my stash. I did however have a great whack of Rowan Felted Tweed in delicious Clover so I scoured the Interweb and found Marilyn’s Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan and immediately cast on. Ain’t she purdy?

I’ve made awesome progress this weekend (it’s truly amazing how much one can accomplish when one’s husband goes on a three-day fishing trip) and soon will be putting the sleeves on hold and barging forth on the body. But she’s a little too ungainly to schlep to and fro on the autobus, so I’ve cast on what I’m calling Don Draper Wants Me Socks for my dear Seabass. I’m loving how these colours are unfolding so far. The yarn is beautiful, no? It’s very smooshy and soft and the colour is called “Don Falls Out the Window”.

If you haven’t already discovered the wonders of SeeJayneKnit Yarns, you simply must check out her Etsy shop and order up some.

P.S. This week’s episode of Mad Men was absolutely the best one yet. As my sister likes to say, I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. Oh, Don! Oh, Peggy!

I left my heart in Ethiopia (plus FOs and New Delights)

Well, wasn’t that a nice long break? Not being in the mood to scribble, coupled with a trip to the heart of Africa and starting my new job have all contributed to my blogospheric silence. At the end of June, Seabass and I jetted off via KLM to Amsterdam for two fun- and sun-filled days before heading to Ethiopia for a 17 day adventure with Habitat for Humanity building houses and meeting the most amazing people on the planet. We started out in Addis Ababa for a few days of museum-going, beer drinking (see pic below – our faves were Meta and St. Georges) and getting to know our awesome teammates before piling in a bus and heading to the mountain-top town of Dessie. Once there, we drank a whole lot more beer and got down to the business of building houses and discovering just how weak I am. Perched on a hilltop at about 8,100 feet, we quickly faded in the thin air under the workload, but the kinship and camaraderie we felt with our teammates and Habitat friends and the villagers more than compensated for any physical strain we endured.

I’ve since been asked to describe my Ethiopian experience and it simply cannot be explained in a few words. But these come close to describing the people we met and can also beused to describe Ethiopia herself: awe-inspiring, soulful, beautiful, gentle, honourable, funny, playful, modest, embracing, patient, wise, unflappable, strong, peaceful, serious, tolerant, generous, spiritual, kind-hearted, joyful. Remember that these are people who face major hardship every day of their lives. Poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease and homelessness are everywhere you look. Yet we were welcomed into their world, unconditionally and quite literally with open arms. Little kids would rush to your side to hold hands. A greeting of Selam or Hello was always met warmly, if sometimes shyly, with a wave and a smile.

And what did I learn from this trip? That I am not only selfish, shallow, spoiled, impatient and lazy, but spectacularly so on all counts. That it is not just possible to be a better person but that it is absolutely mandatory. After all, if people who have virtually nothing can shine their light, there’s no excuse for us pampered clods not to get off our backsides and share the love. My first project on the path to self-improvement is small but important: I’ve decided I need to be MUCH more patient, mostly with my children.

Secondly, aside from my childhood, 17 days is the longest I’ve ever gone without wearing make-up or blow-drying my hair. I was embarrassed by the depth of my vanity and struggled with it throughout the trip. I tried my best not to care that my hair looked like shit, but I could never really let go completely of my need to be groomed and “look good”. I don’t know what felt worse: knowing that I looked wretched or the realization that I have been too concerned with my appearance my whole life. I stillhear in my head something I read in Seventeen magazine and took gravely to heart when I was 12 years old: Your face is your fortune and your hair is your crowning glory. So in an effort to be less superficial, I’m working on spending less time worrying about my appearance. However, I don’t have a lot of confidence that this plan will be a raging success. I know myself and I know that this is a primal problem that goes back to my childhood and won’t be easily resolved. (Can’t you tell? Look at the amount of space I’ve devoted to talking about my hair and face.)

Lastly, but still very importantly, I’m trying to spend less money but not buying stuff I don’t’ really need. Yes, you heard me say it. Yes, I am a Pulizter prize-winning bargain-hunter extraordinaire but seriously, after seeing so many people who own nothing but their dignity and have no money at all, I’m now trying to stop and think before I buy. Wish me luck.

Finished Objects
On the way to The Girl’s graduation with minutes to spare, I wove in the last of the ends on her periwinkle shrug. Turned out though that it was much too hot that day for her to wear it. Damn, but it did look super-cute with her linen floral dress. I’ll post of pic of her wearing it as soon as I see her again. I’m almost finished the socks. Just a few more inches on the foot and the toe and it’s finito. My next commuter knitting will be more socks for Seabass, this time with SeeJayneKnit’s ode to MadMen, “Don Falls Out the Window”. I’ll probably go with a simple rib and cable pattern to show off the groovy colours.

New Projects

Everywhere I turn these days, I see projects that take my breath away and tempt me to click on the PayPal button. For instance, have you ever clapped eyes on such beauty as Carol Sunday’s Acorns? (above) I almost had to lie down and put a cold compress to my forehead when I saw it on Twist Collective Fall 2010. I couldn’t rest until I’d done the requisite clicking, printing of the PDF pattern, reading it from front to back several times, mentally knitting it in my head and finally tucking it in a smooth plastic sleeve to be gazed upon lovingly at will. [It occurs to me that this series of actions – clicking, printing, reading, mental knitting, tucking, gazing – is one I repeat with shocking regularity. Another reminder to curb the spending and buy only what I truly love and will actually make.]

Another time I woke from a reverie to find myself in the craft section at the bookstore with Veronik Avery’s delicious new book Knitting 24/7 in my hands making ooh and ahh sounds that alarmed the nearby cookbook browsers. All of the patterns whispered sweet nothings to me but, in particular the Fir Cone Shrug and Elemental Pullover made me swoon helplessly. Given my pledge to never buy a book a full retail (even with an iRewards discount), I immediately ran home to my trusty laptop to buy it online in order to enjoy a bigger discount and free shipping. Of course, this required an additional purchase to meet the $39 minimum for free shipping so I ordered the DVD set of the one and only season of the TV series Life on Mars (the US version), something Seabass and I have been coveting for some time. (We both mourned for weeks when the series ended last year.)

In my continuing effort to clear the clutter out of my house (and, more importantly, my head), as of this exact moment*, I am forcing myself to sharpen the point on my queue and narrow it down to three primary projects, in the following order: I am TOTALLY in love with Carol’s Acorns, Connie Chang Chinchio’s poetic Alexandria Cardigan (below in heavenly pink) and Veronik’s Fir Cone Shrug. It’s as if these women all know me personally and know what makes my heart flip and each decided to invent something just for me. Thank you!! The countless other gorgeous fripperies that I’ve faved, flagged or queued will have to wait for now. As well, the teetering stack of UFOs that are currently making my brain hurt will remain on the back burner where they can do the least harm. After all, the heart wants what the heart wants, right? There’s no use denying it.

*I reserve the right to change the terms of this queue at any time.

P.S. Obviously, the knitting photos in this post are not mine. They are from www.twistcollective.com, Knitting 24/7 and www.conniechangchinchio.com, respectively. And the Africa pics were taken by Seabass, or Clicker as I like to call him when he’s taking snaps.