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!

 

SweetGeorgia Yarns – will you marry me?

Knitting Report

SweetGeorgia Yarns, I am in love with you and hate you at the same time.  While still on a yarn high from Knit City last weekend, I spent the better part of this week playing with your CashLuxe Fine and Silk Mist yarns and fear I am spoiled for any other fibre.  Damn you cashmere!  You are a cruel but soft mistress.

Felicia Lo is the genius behind SweetGeorgia and I’ve always loved her yarns.  Her Tough Love Sock is a gold standard of sock yarn.  But the CashLuxe is simply heavenly.  A fingering weight comprising 70% merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon, it is soft, squishy and luxurious as well as hard working (thanks to that smidgen of nylon) and is perfect for cowls, shawls and of course socks.  And as usual with SweetGeorgia, the colour palette is beyond description.  The colours I used for my Five by Five cowl were rich semi-solids called Charcoal and Silver, names that don’t begin to capture the myriad of shades within.  The cowl is worked with one strand of each shade of the two shades of CashLuxe Fine and a strand of the Silk Mist (at 60% mohair and 40% silk, it’s a yarn that Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze wishes it could be) in a colour called Mist, a delicious lilac.  All three yarns combined make for the most embraceable cowl ever.  I wear it constantly.  And this weekend, with the leftover CashLuxe, I monkeyed with Purl Soho’s Colorblock Handwarmers to make some lovely fingerless mitts.  Just look at them all together.  Love!!

Five by Five cowl with Colour Block Fingerless Mitts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DH has instructed me to give him full credit for the above photo.  Of course the yarn takes most of the credit.  Not to mention the photo app on my iPad for the cool depth-of-field effect.

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.   🙂

 

Five things about me and knitting

I’ve reached a point in my knitting life where several things have become abundantly clear to me. These are the fundamental facts as I see them:

  • I cannot knit and drink wine at the same time. It’s just not good for me, the yarn, or anyone who happens to be nearby when I discover that I’ve made a mistake and must rip out three hours’ worth of work.
  • I love knitting more than any other occupation. I would even give up TV if I had to choose between the two pursuits. People who know me will agree that that says a lot. As a life-long irretrievably addicted TV devotee, I have arguably wasted a huge chunk of my life watching either inane, mediocre or brilliant programming, yet not a single stitch I’ve made is a waste: it all adds up to knitting with a capital K. Watching TV results in nothing, except for having something to talk about at the water cooler or on chat forums the next day.
  • People joke about outliving their stash. Me, I am deadly serious when I say that I have more yarn, patterns, magazines and books than I could ever use. Even if I live to be 200. The upside is that when I finally keel over, my children can buy a vacation home in the south of France with the proceeds of the sale of any unused yarn.
  • I have a serious problem with purple. Don’t ask me to explain, but about 80% of my stash is a shade of either purple or pink. The rest is made up mostly of greys or greens.
  • Wool and alpaca are my favourite fibres but cashmere is Queen. George Costanza once said that if it were socially acceptable, he would drape himself in velvet. For me, my dream is to be swathed in nothing but squishy, soft cashmere sweaters, cowls, scarves, socks and shawls, preferably in shades of lilac or heathery grey. (Please refer to purple and grey addictions above.) That’s what I call heaven on earth.


 

Test-knitting, an FO and the Yarn Harlot in Vancouver

Okay, enough pet-peeving. Let’s get back to what really matters: knitting and stuff I’ve been working on!

Now and Zen (Cardigan, that is)

When I first clapped eyes on al-abrigo‘s Zen Cardigan a few weeks ago, I knew I must make it. The pattern wasn’t available yet so I just added it to the favourites pile for future reference. Of course, I have no particular babies to knit for but if a certain someone’s next grandchild is a girl, this is for her. Otherwise, I’ll tuck it away in the gift stash.  Anyhoo, I’m minding my own business trolling Ravelry as I’m wont to do when suddenly I see an opportunity to test knit Zen. Hmmm. Let me think it over. Not!  No thinking required! Of course I volunteered immediately and, as soon as humanly possible, cast on for the 12-18 months size.

It calls for a sport weight yarn so straight away I think of Baby Cashmerino by Debbie Bliss in a deliciously delicate pale, pale lilac that I found at Urban Yarns in Edgemont Village. Here it is in progress. Ain’t it purdy?

Zen Cardigan in progress

Some people like to dis Debbie Bliss yarns but Baby Cashmerino really is lovely. Yes, it’s pricey but dammit, don’t all little babies need at least one expensive handknit woolie made with love? Besides, DB’s colours are scrumptious. And this yarn is good for gifting – no need for the harried new mom to worry too much about hand washing. I’ve got four skeins which is enough for the cardi and a wee matching Parisian beret, non?

Baby Cashmerino – pale lilac

FO Update – Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl

As a human magpie, if something isn’t shiny and right in front of my face, I forget about it and it falls off my radar. Anyway, I’m crawling on the floor of my knitting room the other day arranging the layout of the jolly squares for POP Blanket, and I see folded ever so neatly on the daybed my luscious Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl and it occurred to me that I have failed to share an FO photo of it with the world.  Here it is, resplendent in my back garden:

Willow Tweed Aranami in my backyard

This is one of my very most favourite projects. It’s soooooo nice to touch, it’s soft and squishy and just warm enough to keep the chill off your neck when walking the dog late on a summer’s night. (Okay, if you live anywhere else but Vancouver, you’re thinking: what? Chilly on a summer night? WTF? But in Vancouver, nine times out of ten, it can get dang cold on July evenings.)

Yarn Harlot – Knitting for Speed and Efficiency

Thanks to Knit Social for a fun evening on July 12. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was in town to teach the rabble how to knit faster in her class Knitting for Speed and Efficiency at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

Lord knows I could stand to pick up the pace. If I want to use up even half of the yarn stored under the beds, in the closets and under the floorboards before my 100th birthday, I’m going to have to go into overdrive.

Of course, the number one way to knit faster is this: Stop knitting so bloody slow. Thankfully, Stephanie didn’t actually say that to us. Instead, she gave us a very entertaining talk about the history of knitting, why the modern knitter is so slow and gave us tips to increase our speed. We learned how the craft evolved from being a way for the great unwashed to earn a living while tromping across the moors (they enjoyed eating at least once a day and were therefore serious speed knitters) to a pleasant way for the great washed to while away empty afternoons in the drawing-room while Bates and Mrs. Hughes scurried about understairs decanting wine and admonishing scullery maids.

I often walk while knitting but usually look slightly less grim than our little Shetland friend here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the advent of machine knitting, the uppercrusters took up the needles and “civilized” needlework by making it an idle pastime rather than a way to feed one’s family. In it’s newly respectable incarnation, knitting was no longer a race against time, but a way to squander your afternoons. Much like Pinterest and Ravelry are nowadays.

Our grandmothers learned the “slow” Victorian way to knit which they in turn taught us, rather than the super-speedy “lever” method of the peasantry that Stephanie then showed us. Check this video of Stephanie demonstrating the lever method using long straight needles, with the right one stuck under her arm. Very interesting, no?

It was definitely fun and eye-opening to learn a new method. I’ll likely not be switching to lever knitting any time soon, but I have refined my technique to make my “throwing” hand move more lever-like and have therefore definitely increased my speed. Also, by “spring-loading” the stitches on your left needle and consciously eliminating extraneous hand and finger movements (including stopping every row to admire one’s work), you experience less fatigue and can go faster than before. Plus, Stephanie is a very engaging speaker and we all had loads of fun learning from her.  It was a great group of knitters.

Thanks again to Knit Social – by the way, can’t wait for Knit City this October!

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

 

Summertime, and the knittin’ is easy

POP Blanket – Loving it!

I sat in the shade under the blossoming weigela tree, the birds were sing-songing and the sun shone relentlessly.  A cool glass of lemonade within arm’s reach at all times, I knit away the hours.  This is an accurate description of how I spent my entire weekend.  No joke.  It was heaven on earth.  I prepared no meals, did no housework (except for unloading the dishwasher once and running a load of laundry on Sunday afternoon) and the only exertion my brain suffered was calculating how much more yarn I was going to need to finish my POP Blanket and wondering what DH was going to make me for dinner.  (Don’t worry, I know exactly how lucky I am.)

POP is gorgeous and one of my very most favourite projects ever.  I had never knit with Noro before so Kureyon was my baptism.  I had always thought it just too scratchy for a delicate flower such as myself.  But in fact, Kureyon is really quite lovely, especially after blocking.  And the colours are a.maze.ing.  Urban Yarns in Edgemont has a good selection of colours, by the way, along with lots of Cascade Ecological Wool in cream for the background colour.  Even though it’s lovely and summery right now, part of me is looking forward to fall and my Sunday afternoon naps, snuggled under POP.

So far, I’ve completed almost 30 squares and they’re blocking out to be about 5¾” square.  I’ll probably make at least 35 (5 squares x 7 squares).  We’ll see how big it turns out.

Pop in progress – FYI blocking these squares uses a LOT of T-pins!

 

Yarn Harlot tonight

Knit Social is presenting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) at the Vancouver Public Library downtown today – she’s given two classes (afternoon and evening) called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.  She also gave a talk last night called “This is Your Brain on Knitting” which, by all accounts was hugely entertaining. I’m not the slowest knitter in the world but will surely benefit from kicking it up a notch.

My queue and stash are expanding exponentially every year and unless I can speed up a little, I’ll never manage to finish everything on my list before I go to the big LYS in the sky.  (Which is far from imminent, but still.  Oh, can you imagine what the yarn store in heaven is like?  My guess is there is a great deal of cashmere.  Sigh.  Assuming that’s where I’m going, of course.)  I did a little calculating and even if I’m reincarnated three or four times, I’ll likely never live long enough to use up all my yarn or knit everything in my queue.

Which reminds me:  Knit Social will be opening up class registration for this October’s Knit City at 8:00 a.m. on August 1.  I’m thinking of registering for the Two Socks in One class.  The idea of making two socks at the same time, one inside the other, is intriguing.  And providing one doesn’t screw it up too much, could be faster than doing them one at a time.  Click the poster below from the Knit Social website for info.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs – Thank you to Lady Alice

Another finished object for the pile:  Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs, the cover project from the splendiferous Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits.  The very thoughtful and fellow Queen-adoring Lady Alice brought me a tin of Fortnum & Mason’s special Jubilee tea from her recent trip to Ye Olde Londontown.  She would brook no recompense so I was forced to knit her something in appreciation.  Thus, Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs.  In Spud & Chloë’s beautiful Fine yarn, they are just the thing for a card-carrying Jane Austen Society member to be worn when reading in bed on a winter’s eve.  Nothing worse than having damned chilly wrists when one is trying to enjoy a little Sense and Sensibility.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs in Spud & Chloe Fine

Fortnum & Mason’s Jubilee Tea