Update – Reindeer Games, Sweet Fiber and some FOs

Living the dream

I’ve got a week off from work and have naturally spent it in a knitting frenzy.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time knitting that feel a little guilty (okay, not really) that I’ve neglected some other things I’m supposed to be doing.  For instance, my Sunday vacuuming and dusting didn’t get done until yesterday and, what’s more reprehensible, bookclub is tomorrow and I’ve only read the back cover of the book.

Here’s what’s been distracting me this week:

Reindeer Games

The Girl has been begging me for a Vintage Reindeer Cardigan (to match her Dad’s) and I’ve finally cast on using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky. The first picture illustrates what I love about colour-work, i.e. watching a motif appear, row by row.  In this case, reindeer footprints above the ribbing then two reindeer frolicking in the forest.  Then, the second picture shows what I absolutely LOATHE about colour-work, i.e. all the frickin’ tangle-y bobbins and countless ends to weave in. Sometimes it gets so convolutedly messy that I have to just put down the mangled mess and take a break.  🙂  The good news is that this bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly on 6.0 mm needles.

The back in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yargh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More yarn! – Sweet Fiber Yarns

Yeah, yeah, I’m supposedly on a yarn diet (whatever!), but I really, really needed some of Sweet Fiber Yarn’s special Super Sweet Sock yarn (80% Merino, 20% nylon, 415 yds, $25) It’s an exclusive colourway created especially for Knit City 2012.  It’s also available in Cashmerino Worsted (80% Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 200 yds, $28).  Go immediately to the Knit Social Shop to order some.  While you’re there, check out their other special Knit City merch.

Super Sweet Sock Yarn, in Knit City 2012

Hats off!

As for Finished Objects, in addition to the Celestial Cowl mentioned in my previous post, I banged out a couple of hats for Christmas gifts.  The Husband works outdoors so I made him a cozy toque with Spud & Chloe Fine yarn in two manly shades of grey (insert joke here), Hippo and Sidewalk.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, Susan B. Anderson’s Chili Pepper Hat. I looks great as a hipster slouch and also as a watch cap with the striped cuff turned up.

Chili Pepper Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I whipped up a Felicity hat (another free pattern).  This more than slightly crappy picture doesn’t show how pretty this colour is.  This pattern is perfect for the rustic thick-and-thin Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica in Lime.

Felicity hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous ongoing WIPs

I’m continuing to work on my Cashmere Chili Pepper – holy doodle, is this Handmaiden Cashmere ever soft!  (Attention anyone who might be hoping this is a gift: sorry, this one’s mos def for me.)

Cashmere Chili Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well, I’m forging on with my Snowbird Cardigan. After completing the yoke, I’m now about a quarter of the way through the first sleeve, which I’m working on DPNs because I hate seaming with a passion (although not as much as I hate using bobbins).  Can’t wait to wear this.  It’s a quintessential cozy cardi.

Next – I love you Twist Collective!

Up next, I’ll weigh in on my favourites from the Winter 2012 issue of Twist Collective.  (There are so many that it needs a separate post!)

 

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!

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