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!

Waiting for my iPad

Newsflash:  I’m not good at everything

Of all the things in the world that are difficult for me, one of my biggest challenges is waiting.  I am particularly terrible at waiting patiently, quietly, contentedly, for anything.  I’m even awful at waiting impatiently.  As a knitter, naturally I am an experienced online shopper.  I can buy yarn with my eyes closed.  In fact, I did that just last week.  I particularly like ordering from Elann.com, for two reasons:  the prices are good and their delivery turnaround is frackin’ fast!  Once I placed an order and received it the very next day!  Of course, this spoiled me for all other deliveries.  I find myself getting irate if a shipment from Elann takes three days.  How do they expect me to occupy myself during such an eternity?  Don’t they realize that I. Must. Cast. On. New. Yarn. Immediately.  Or sooner, if possible, otherwise my head might explode.

Make it snappy, Apple

I just wrapped up a painful and lengthy waiting period of another kind.  After months of anticipating and pretending not to be impatient and torturing myself by reading endless interweb speculation about the possible launch date and features, it was finally March 7, also known as New iPad Day.  Once the nerds were finished live-blogging and the PR stuff wrapped up, the online Apple store opened for pre-ordering business.  Of course, I was only one of the billions of iWanters and the internets broke. I mean really, how could Apple not have been ready for the seething hordes?  Anyway, some wretched hours later I eventually got through and placed my precious pre-order.  Only when the confirmation email pinged into my inbox could I relax and start the next and only slightly less stressful phase of waiting:  the 10 days or so for it to be delivered.

You’d think I’d be better at this waiting business by now.  After all, I’ve spent the better part of 50 years waiting for the rest of the world to stop chewing gum with its mouth open, or at least say thank you when I hold the door for it.  Because, contrary to what you may think, it really is all about me.  But no, it never seems to get any easier.

You should know that I fully realize that the hype about waiting is true.  It is what it’s cracked up to be.  Patience is a virtue.  Good things often do come to those who wait.  If something’s good, it’s worth waiting for, etc. etc.  Waiting for Christmas morning really is better than snooping and spoiling the surprise.  I know this from personal experience.  I know actual people who are so good at waiting for things that they forget when they’ve ordered something and are taken by surprise when the mailman arrives with the package.  Seriously?  How is that possible?  Are you even human?

All important lessons are learned from TV.  Seinfeld in particular.

I cope with this affliction by accepting the fact that patience is like grace:  Either you have it, or you don’t.  And I will never have it.  But I will have my iPad in about 10 days.

Update. Or, how I’m single-handedly keeping the economy afloat by buying more yarn and magazines.

OMG, I have been so delinquent in posting.  Of course I always think of something clever to say while I’m lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night but when I’m awake and within arm’s reach of the computer, I’m either too wrapped up in other stuff or can’t think of a damn thing to say that anyone would be remotely interested in reading.

New Yarn!

Anyone, while I’m here, I may as well tell you about my awesome purchases made today at the Circle Craft Christmas Market down at the new and rather cavernous convention centre.  I looked at a bunch of exhibitors but my main purpose for going was to see Trish Moon at Indigo Moon Yarns to show her the Terpander Socks I made from her Goldfinch yarn and snap up some more of her delicious sock yarn.  Here’s today’s booty – n.b. they’re all 100% merino superwash fingering weight and all at discount prices.  Thanks again Trish!

Lilac
Gabriola Green (at least I think that’s the shade)
Milk Chocolate
Logwood Purple

New magazines – Jane Austen Knits and Knit.Wear

Also, after stocking Urban Yarns, I finally got my hands on a copy of Jane Austen Knits.  I have two words:  absolutely glorious!  I love practically everything in it.  Two more words:  love it!

I also found a copy, also at Urban Barns, of the much-coveted Knit.Wear.  For this one, I have four words:  Spec-tac-u-lar!!  I adore the cover wrap and virtually all the other patterns.  Everything is so classic, yet chic and wonderful.

That is all for now.  Get back to your knitting!!