Nevermind what those PayPal charges are for!

Au contraire, Ricky.  I don’t have a lot of a-splainin’ to do. 

I have reached a point where I can no longer make a credible argument for buying more yarn or patterns or books. Just so you know, I don’t have this argument with myself – it’s with DH of course.

He seems to forget that I NEVER ask him what he spends on beer, gas for his giant pickup truck, shoes or jackets (he’s a bit of a clotheshorse) or wagering occasionally at the racetrack. But for some reason he keeps asking me “Don’t you have enough yarn yet?”, “How much did that latest shipment of yarn cost?”, “What’s this PayPal charge for?”

In the last few months, I’ve bought several beautiful books and patterns and a ton of yarn. So I’ve made a resolution that I will not make any more knitting-related purchases until I’ve knit one item from at least three of those books using only yarn from my stash. To be clear, I have made this decision not because I am letting my husband decide what I spend my hard-earned money on. No, I’m doing this for two reasons – as a personal challenge and because I’m running out of space in my yarn room. The other day I was searching for something and couldn’t find it because there’s just so much stuff in there! The fact that DH will stop needling me is just icing on the cake. 

After careful consideration, my Knit Things From the New Books and/or Stash Project will look like this*:

New Book projects:

Entangled Vines by Alana Dakos from her gorgeous book, Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage. I’ve got a pile of Cascade Yarns 220 in Smoke Blue that is perfect for this.

Entangled Vines (photo Carlee Tatum)

Antler Cardigan (in a baby size for the gift pile) by Tin Can Knits from their Pacific Knits book (bought at Knit City 2012). Must dig around in my stash for a suitable worsted weight – I’m pretty sure I’ve got a bunch of Patons Class Wool Worsted or Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in there somewhere.

Antler Cardigan (photo Alexa Ludeman)

Liathite from Carol Feller’s gorgeous collection, Among Stones. I don’t have a lot of bulky weight in the stash but I do have some lovely Cascade Yarns Eco+ in Lilac that would be perfect for this cabled hoodie. Is there anything better than a purple cabled sweater?

Liathite Hoodie (photo Joseph Feller)

Stash-Down Projects:

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport – I just ordered this so won’t have it in hand for a couple more weeks. The colours are Blackberry and Dove Gray and it’s for a test knit for Sweaterfreak of her beautiful and flattering My Inner Viking sweater (a fitted seamless, top-down pullover with a stranded colourwork yoke). Because one can never have too many purple sweaters.

Classic Elite Ariosa with Cashmere (Bulky) in Slate Gray (a closeout purchase from The Backwards Loop) is perfect for Crocodrile, a lovely cable-y hooded cowl by Carmen Garcia de Mora. a Spanish designer.

Crocodrile Hooded Cowl (photo Carmen Garcia de Mora)

Rowan Rowanspun 4 Ply – in a delicious tweedy pale pink. I’m thinking Jane Richmond’s lace-yoked Grace cardigan from her beautiful Island book (also bought at Knit City 2012) would be just the ticket.

Grace Cardigan (photo Nicholas Kupiak and Jane Richmond)

Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (sport weight) – another closeout buy from The Backwards Loop. Five skeins in Peacock Greens is perfect for Caireen, a deliciously cabled wrap from Susanna IC from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010. I also have five skeins in pale blue which would be perfect for the hat and mittens set, Loch, from Handmade in the UK, another genius move from Tin Can Knits.

Loch (photo Emily Wessel and Alexa Ludeman)

Jojoland Rhythm (worsted, 1,100 yds) in purply-pink Bumble Berry for bargain-basement price at Elann. This is earmarked for a teeny-sized Thirsty Rose cardigan for the gift stash. I’ll decide what to make with the leftovers some other time.

Thirsty Rose (photo Joseph Feller)

*Naturally, all of these plans are subject to change without notice with no accountability to anyone but myself. So there.

 

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

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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)

 

Blame it on Downton Abbey

I shan’t waste time with excuses as to why I haven’t posted in so long.  However, I will say that my obsession with all things Downton Abbey have so utterly consumed me that I’ve barely had time to live my own life, what will all the fretting over Lady Mary and Matthew & Co.  And heavens, whatever will become of Lady Edith and Bates ‘n Anna?  And O’Brien and her evil soap – she almost came clean as Lady Cora teetered on death’s precipice.  I did so much breath-holding and hand wringing in season 2 that I just about succumbed to the vapours several times.

Oh Matthew!  Oh Mary!

Anyway, I’ve been knitting a fair bit whilst glued to the TV and managed to complete a few projects since my last scribbles.  I’m especially pleased with a lovely Tuesday Night Cowl for my SIL, a Fun and Fast Tea Cozy for her birthday, FINALLY finishing my favourite gloves ever, Shibui’s Transition Gloves, a Baby Bolero for the gift stash, DH’s Elementary Watson SocksVancouver Fog Mitts for my BFF for Xmas, a Cladonia Shawl with yarn at got from Elann.com for a song, a Skull & Crossbones Argyle dog coat for a friend’s beloved pet, a sweet sweater for MY beloved Lottie, a Cherry Garcia for The Girl, and cashmere Midsummer Night’s Dream Socks pour moi, not necessarily in that order.  Phew!  Oh, and a Gaufre Beret by Veronik Avery from some luscious St-Denis Sommet.

Fun and Fast Tea Cozy – 100% Queen approved!

So I may not have written and goddamn thing since November, but at least I made myself useful and turned string into beautiful things! 

 New projects in progress include Veronik’s Lace Weekend Socks from St-Denis Magazine Issue 3 in her Boreale yarn – really lovely to work with, so soft and wooly!  I’m also finishing up a beautiful beaded Kinetic Mystery KAL by Laura Nelkin.  It’s not really a mystery anymore and I’m now officially in the “plodders” group.  I honestly don’t know how people can finish such complicated stuff so quickly!

Next up:  beauty-ful new yarn and some book reviews, including the reissued The Principles of Knitting by the legendary June Simmons Hiatt and Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Socks, and perhaps a paragraph or two about my obsession with Pinterest

The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime

The Principles of Knitting

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

A paler shade of blue…

Like most people, I have my ups and my downs.  Trouble is, my downs tend to be little too down and last a little too long for my liking.  I’ve been in a fairly blue-ish phase of late and haven’t been able to muster the spirit to crank out humorous blog posts.  But today the sun was shining a bit so I thought I’d take a stab.


In this state of mind, I often sit at my desk and fantasize about rushing home from work to have a hot bath, putting on pyjamas and sleeping my time away.  Sometimes, I even daydream about finding the perfect PJs.  In my head, I see a nightie in pale pink 100% supersoft cotton lawn.  Maybe in a pale rose print.  It’s long, has little cap sleeves and just a touch of lace.  Neither too frou-frou nor too Amish and definitely not maiden aunt.   Occasionally, I’ll find myself in the lingerie department at The Bay about to buy some such garment and I have to make myself snap out of it and put it back on the rack.  I don’t need an $80 nightgown; I need to change my frickin’ life!  I’m not sure exactly how to do that, but spending a pile of money on a nightgown sure won’t change my life.  Granted, I would look adorable all snuggled under the duvet wearing it. 

Part of how I deal with being in a blue phase is hibernating, usually in my PJs with a pot of tea, and alternating between knitting and reading.  Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  One of my favourite prezzies from under the Christmas tree this year was a Kobo e-reader from my dear Seabass.  Since then, I’ve plowed my way through the ghastly Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (yawn) and am part-way through the equally dreck-ish sequel (double yawn).   I’m reading this series only so I can converse with authority when those around me are blathering on about how “great” the books are.   I don’t know if it’s a translation problem or just that Stieg Larsson is a very mediocre writer (or both), but the most common themes I’ve noticed so far are:  (a) the Dragon Tattoo girl looks anorexic yet eats like a horse (oh, how endearing); and (b) every character in the books is obsessed with coffee and sandwiches.  I’m positive that the word “anorexic” was used at least ten times and the phrase “so-and-so put the coffee on” or “made (or ordered) sandwiches” appeared at least two dozen times – in the first book alone!!  Seriously, are there no editors in Sweden?  Do Swedes really drink that much coffee?  Doubts, Ralph.  Please.   What about salted fish or meatballs?  You couldn’t put those on the menu once in a while?   A single mention of lingonberries does not make up for this alarming obsession with coffee and sandwiches.
(N.B. aside from being fantastically portable, a definite upside of an e-reader is that you can read total trash in public and no one around you can see the title you’re reading.  It’s completely judgment-free reading!)
For bookclub, though, I’ve read two wonderful books, neither of which suffer from any writing or editing problems:  Still Alice by Lisa Genova and The Uncommon Reader by Allan Bennett.  My current read is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.



Still Alice is a beautifully written story by a very talented storyteller.  However, my only problem with it was that I did not enjoy the subject matter at all.  It was a little too close to the bone for me.  In fact, it was way too close.  Both my beloved mother and dear mother-in-law were cursed with the dreaded Alzheimer’s and no matter how educational, insightful or accurate Genova’s portrayal of the disease, I could never separate it from my mom’s or Joan’s suffering (and our families’ suffering).  It was just too painful.  I am glad I read it though, if only to be able to say I actually finished a book.  (I am embarrassingly notorious in my bookclub for failing to read or finish books.)  But I have definitely sworn off reading anything again with Alzheimer’s as a central theme.

On the other hand, The Uncommon Reader was simply delightful.  Not only was it mellifluously told, I am obsessed with the British monarchy and love all things to do with the Queen and the rest of the gaggle of Windsors.  It’s a delicious peek into the Lilibet’s secret world.   Also, one learns how enjoyable it is to use sentences where one refers to oneself as “one”.  To paraphrase my sister:  One laughed, one cried, it became a part of one. 

I’m about a third of the way through Olive Kitteridge and am loving it!  It is a series of stories about people in a New England town, all linked by the title character.   I was delighted to find that this book has been dramatized by the Word for Word Performing Arts Company in San Francisco.  Here’s a trailer from Youtube:   


Also, I’ve heard that Frances McDormand has optioned the rights to the book for a feature film and that she is set to play Olive.  I wonder if the Coen Brothers will write and direct? 

As for knitting, I’ve just finished a cowl for The Girl.  It’s called Glances and it’s from a new book Knit and Wrap.  She needed something cozy to wear with her new Courreges-style fitted red wool coat.  Jackie O never looked so sharp.  I found some black Wool-Ease Thick and Quick at Michaels (on sale even).  I modified the pattern a bit to make the cowl deeper so she can pull it up like a hood when the temperature drops.

Also, Seabass needs a cozy watch cap to wear at work and I’ve had a skein of black Handmaiden Yarns 2-ply 100% cashmere burning a hole in my stash so I’m doing a basic 2×2 rib (using Devin’s Toque as a basic pattern).  I’m pretty sure that this yarn is the softest thing on the flippin’ planet.  Baby bunnies hopping in Mr. McGregor’s garden are like sandpaper compared to this yarn.

Still on the needles are some lacy cable socks from Veronik’s Knitting 24/7.  Socks are my usual commuter knitting project but I’ve been so obsessed with reading lately that I haven’t been knitting on the bus.  However, I intend to get back to these very soon and they are super pretty and I love love love the colour and cannot wait to wear them.

Finally, I’ve taken delivery from The Backwards Loop (in Arkansas of all places!) of some delicious St-Denis Nordique yarn and will be starting on a baby gift for my oldest niece.  She’s expecting in June.   Ever since Veronik came out with St-Denis #2, I’ve been dreaming of making the Lullaby baby blanket by Jennifer Lori.  I know it’s not terribly imaginative to use the same yarn (and colour) as in the book, but it’s just too perfect for it to use anything else.  And now that I’ve seen the Champagne colour in person, I realize there really was no substitute.  It’s a perfectly vintage-y shade.

Included in my order from The Backwards Loop were two balls of the Nordique in Eggshell Blue.  Just the thing for more socks or maybe some fingerless gloves (like Ysolda’s Veyla from Whimsical Little Knits 2.)

Anyway, that’s all for now.   Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to change into my PJs and drink a pot of tea.  Happy knitting and reading, y’all!