Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Principles of Knitting

Have you guys heard any of the buzz surrounding The Principles of Knitting?  I had never heard of this book until a few days ago, when all of the sudden, it seems to be getting attention from all over the place.  Apparently, it's quite the thing.

Have any of you bought it?  If so, what did you think?  Overrated or the new knitting bible?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Eeek, it's a steek!

One of my unofficial New Year's resolutions was to refrain from buying more yarn until I work through half of my stash (my stash isn't very big: "half" constitutes 2 sweaters' worth).  I also had a couple of hibernating WIP's that I new needed to go.  I decided that the first contestant would be my poorly-conceived tunic (seen here).  The problem with the whole thing is that the yarn is so damn itchy.  It needs to be worn as outerwear and I can tell that the tunic is going to be too warm for me.  So I frogged it and started some sleeves for a Seamless Hybrid (women's version).  It's going to be a jacket with long and roomy sleeves and buttons.  Maybe some patch pockets?  I'm not sure.  All I know is it's going to be WARM.  Phew, this yarn is a workhorse (Lamb's Pride, by the by).  Last week, I showed you sleeve #1:

I experienced something with this yarn that I had not yet come across: there are dramatic variations within the different balls (all the same dye lot and batch).  This sleeve has nice dark low lights and a few strands of light beige high lights.  The other sleeve (a different ball of yarn) has much less contrast.  Oh well.  I'm not a perfectionist and besides, if I chuck that ball, I won't have enough yarn.  No-one will notice, right?  Right.

For the body of the sweater, I'm going to attempt, for the first time EVER, a steek.  I've been doing research all week and found Eunny Jang's tutorial series here, which is really well executed and full of crucial information, which I so appreciate.  I decided to do up a little steek swatch:

My knitted tube with one row of crochet stitches along the steek line (I didn't actually mark the steek line - it wasn't crucial).

The tube with both rows of crochet, ready for cutting.

Do you see the ladders I've circled in grey?  Those ladders are what I'm about to cut.  (Please forgive the deplorable state of my thumbnail and cuticle.  February is doing its best to kill me and I tend to take that kind of thing out on my nails.  My name is dw and I'm a nail biter.)

Steeking in progress.
Wrong side view of the steek in progress.
Isn't it strange how there are no little yarn ends?  The snipped threads almost seem to shrink back into the crochet stitches.

The steek edged (notice how short those snipped threads are?  I'm highlighting them with arrows...)

The wrong side view of the steeked edge.  So neat and tidy...

...and the right side view (with an arrow pointing at a little snipped end).

I took the opportunity to pick up and knit along the edge to practice making the button placket.

Result: nice, crisp and tidy.  The seam allowance on the wrong side was surprizingly not at all bulky.  And it lies flat against the fabric - no wrestling into place involved.

I tacked down the edge with some scrap yarn (in orange, so you could see it).

And this is the final product.  

So what do I think?  Ah yeah, me likey.  I have a feeling I'm about to embark on an adventure that will change my knitting forever.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


So, I posted a huge long message on our Woodcraft Ravelry board about my potential knitting retreat and I'm too lazy to re-write it for here, so how 'bout I just cut and paste it in?

Yes?  Ok.  Let's

"Hi, folks. I have news:

My mom has decided that she is moving cross-country this summer, from Ottawa to Kamloops (they’re 4 200 km apart). She dropped the bomb on me last summer when she (finally) came to visit, but didn’t make any solid commitments until this past Christmas. I waited until I knew that it was for sure before saying anything to anyone (she just called me on Thursday night to confirm everything).
So why am I posting this here?

Well, it’s because I’ve decided to drive there with her. We’re doing a cross-continent mother-and-daughter trip (kind of like Thelma and Louise, only without guns or convertibles or driving off cliffs), which we’ve both been wanting to do since I was 15 (which was an appallingly long time ago…blurg). The trip, as you can imagine, will take a long time, considering that we also want to stop over in Winnipeg (our home town) for several days to celebrate/visit/party/hang out with the family.
I think the trip is going to eat up all my paid vacation. The vacation that I was hoping to use while hosting a knitting retreat here. As it is, I’ll likely have to take a few days off unpaid in order to finish up the trip, so I can’t really take any additional time off this summer. You know that I manage a design/drafting firm, yes? Well, taking more than 2 weeks off in the summer would be somewhat irresponsible of me, nevermind that I can’t afford to go a week without pay (and I don’t want to increase the price for each of you, just so I can pay myself (my bills, I mean) out of your fees - no, I’m committed to keeping the price down). So I think I have to postpone the retreat for a year.

Poo, right?

I know. You want to give me the finger. I would, too.

Ok, but know this: you are still MORE than welcome to come and visit. If you’re in New England or somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard, you’re really not that far away - we’re about 6 hours from the Maine/New Brunswick border. And if you come over a weekend, I will TOTALLY take you out to visit all the cool stuff and be your tour guide. And I can help hook you up with B&Bs and campgrounds and send you all sorts of information to make planning easier. And we can still go to the beach and have barbecues and do knit nights after I finish work for the day and all that other cool stuff. I just can’t host you, personally. My house is miniscule. We’re sharing it with a few mice at the moment, and I assure you: it’s close quarters.

And the other consolation prize is this: I may be coming to a city near-ish you. We’ve decided that when we get to Kamloops, we’re going to drop everything off, refuel/refresh and then keep going to Vancouver and then on to Victoria. I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean (for SHAME!) and there’s NO WAY IN HELL that I’m going to drive all the way across the continent (again) and then stop short (again). No ma’am. I’m going to get my hair wet.

So that means that we can meet up, y’all!  I don’t think we’ll be dipping down below the border (unless I manage to get my act together and finally get my stupid passport)… Anyway, let me know if you're somewhere along the TransCanada and you would like to meet up. The trip is looking like a last-week-in-June, first-week-in-July thing or maybe a first-two-weeks-in-July thing.

I’m pretty stoked about it, I just wish I had 4 weeks of paid vacation every year. That would be really nice."

ETA: I've received an invitation to stay over at someone's (M's) house in Vancouver and she's going to take me to Sweet Georgia Yarns and I'm so excited I can barely see straight!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ok, ok, I'm almost done talking about it

I know you're sick and tired of hearing about my cousin's baby and how excited I am to send her a bunch of handmade swag for the little guy (oh, didn't I tell you? he has an outtie, apparently! no, he's not born yet, but I guess they checked with the ultrasound thingy and that's the final word.).

But I was packing all the stuff into the box to send it off and I just felt that *something* was missing.  I can't really explain it, except to say that when she opens it up, I want her to really understand how much I love her.  Like, the stuff I made is cute, but it's not totally perfect.  Like, I want it to really reach out and grab her.  Like I wanna make her cry.  Yeah, I want her to bawl when she cracks open the box.  She's pregnant.  It shouldn't be too hard, right?

Does that make me a bad person?  Yes, it does.  I can live with that.

So I got to thinking: what could I add to the (enormous, let's face it) pile of stuff that's coming her way that would make her cry?  It took me a while, but I think I figured it out.

A drawing of her parents' farm (where she grew up and we were her neighbours).  The one her parents had to sell almost 15 years ago.

That'll do it.  Hell, I could barely even keep my own eyes dry while I was drawing it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I complained that this winter was lame and the Universe heard me.

We got slammed by a nasty storm last Sunday.  Wicked nasty.  Like hurricane-y winds and freezing rain nasty.

Naturally, it caused a 24-hour long power outage - which is actually kind of par for the course in these parts.  We're in a rural area and we get hit with atrocious Weather all the time.  It doesn't really phase us anymore (since we got our wood stove).

Only.... I'm a dummy and didn't fill the bathtub with water on Saturday night.  Nor did I finish the laundry.

So we spent the day on Sunday melting snow on the wood stove so that we could flush the toilet (in case you're an urbanite and aren't familiar with the realities of a rural existence, allow me to illustrate: country living + power outage = no water) and give the dogs something to drink.  And figuring out what to eat without opening the fridge for any reason (I cheated and got out some eggs and made french toast on the wood stove...yum!).  And trying to stay clean and trying to figure out what to wear on Monday, as there was no bathing and no clean laundry.

I've decided that I can do without power outages, thank you very much.

But, on the bright side, I did lots of knitting (and reading, but mostly knitting).  It's the perfect excuse to spend 7 hours straight with needles and yarn.  You can't work up a sweat knitting.  So that reduces the chances that you'll need to bathe.  Can't very well do any chores when you have no running water or electricity to run the washing machine or vacuum cleaner, can you?

Meet Sleeve 2 of my new Seamless Hybrid cardigan/jacket thingy.  I'm designing it as I go.  'Cause I'm a rebel like dat.  Word.

(Sleeve 1 is just as awesome, I promise.)

The dogs have no concept of electricity, so they were happy just to sit in front of wrapped around the wood stove which I kept going full blast all day.  Notice how madame crosses her legs as she lounges by the hearth.  How demure.  Too bad we know better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dress Rehearsal

I'm (im)patiently waiting for KnitPicks to receive some colours in Palette so I can order it and finish start my Caller Herrin.  To date, I've done three different swatches and I'm still not 100% convinced that I have the right colour combo.   So for now, I've contented myself with practicing my technique.  Sort of like a dress rehearsal.  And sort of not.

Enter: Entomology Mitts

Verdict: meh.

As you can see, I didn't make it all the way to the final act.  I didn't see any reason to.  The floats in this pattern are pretty darn long (which I could have figured out before trying to tackle it, had I had half a brain).  Unfortunately, my abilities are still not up to snuff, so the floats make this entire thing pucker six ways from Sunday.

Still, who doesn't love a beetle?

Anyway, back to the grind for me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dust, begone

I have two Labrador Retrievers.  Who consider it their duty to shed.  A duty which they take very seriously.  No, really.  It's everywhere (even in places I can't mention in polite society).

Something had to be done.

I had an old pair of wool pants that had pretty much kicked the bucket and had been hanging on to them for a while in the hopes that I could salvage some of the fabric.

I cut the legs off (they had worn out in the *ahem* crotch area), and trimmed them into nice, square-angled rectangles.  Then I lined them up at the hems and sewed up the sides and at the top.

I topstitched all the way around and then pleated the top (and topstitched the pleats in place) in two spots near the middle.  Then I added two narrow straps and velcro:

...and made myself a sewing machine cover.

And then, because my old pincushion died (and more importantly, because sewing with this gray-and-coral combo is a slippery slope - consider yourselves warned), I made myself a new one.

It goes on around the whatchamacallit (the vertical part of the machine - you know what I mean, right?) and the little elastic/toggle combo keeps it snug.

Only, I discovered that I had no batting to stuff it with, so I spent 20 minutes tearing the house apart trying to find something suitable and guess what!  Yarn.  That's what I used.  And guess what!  It's the best little pincushion I've ever had.  Who knew?

(Sorry for the lack of step-by-step instructions.  I didn't think that any of this would actually work, so I neglected to take any photos or even measure anything.  Because I'm a bad person.  But I'll make it up to - if there's enough interest, I'll do up a pattern for both items, k?)