Saturday, February 28 / 7:13 a.m.

New sweater!

Shona's been finished for about a week now, but I just didn't have a chance to ask my roommate to take some photos. I'm very pleased with it; hated the turtleneck so I just did about half an inch of ribbing at the neck, and I love the finishing detail on the raglan seams.

The colour was, once again, impossible to photograph (brown-ish purple with all kinds of cool tweedy flecks in it). This is pretty close, though. The sweater fits perfectly although I don't really like the way it sorta poufs out above the ribbing. It's hard to get that right though - use too big a needle on the ribbing and it'll flare out, which is even worse!

The sleeves are somewhere between 3/4 and bracelet length, which was exactly where I wanted them. I swear to you they're the same length, I was standing funny. Really! I was!

I'd recommend the pattern to anybody; it was easy to knit and the fit is good. I think the thick horizontal stripes would have made anybody look huge, though.

I'll have to stick to small projects for the next while - don't have the yarn for another sweater at the moment. But - oooh - I'm going to make thrummed mitts with some handspun I've been working on. Just have to ply it.

Haven't done much knitting this week (have been concentrating instead on cooking. Mmmm) but am on the home stretch vis a vis the socks for mom.

"We invented a drinking game for knitting. You have to take a drink everytime one of these things happens: you start or end a row, reach a stitch marker, increase or decrease, find a knot in your yarn, join a new ball or color, frog part or all of it or drop a stitch. There might have been more, I was too drunk to keep track of them all. The problem is that you never sober up because as soon as you do, you find you have to frog everything you did and it starts all over."
--Jennifer, of JenLa.


Tuesday, February 24 / 7:22 a.m.

Toronto Knit Blogs
So I was thinking... there are a lot of knit bloggers in Toronto, and it would be good to be able to browse through them. You know, find out where there's a sale on, who's meeting whom when, local suppliers, etc. If you live in Toronto, and you have a blog, sign up! Just click the "Join" link in the sidebar.

This is a bit of a pilot project: if only, say, 4 people sign up, I'll scrap the idea.

Naptime.... more later.


Saturday, February 21 / 3:59 p.m.

Linky goodness and knitting porn
First of all, here are a few obscure links I found while surfing today (you can tell I have an assignment due because my bookmarks are organized and my room is looking cleaner...) that may come in useful for any beginners out there:

And now, the fun links. I was kicking around a couple of Russian knitting sites. I don't speak Russian, but I think that's actually a bonus, because the Babelfish translation from Russian into English is absolutely freakin' hilarious.

And so are these patterns. Admittedly, this one's crochet, but it's not like you were going to make it anyway (click for patterns):

Don't like those acrylic knitted pants in Interweave Knits? How 'bout these babies?

Hello. Mye name ees Olga. I wear doily, ja?

Another pattern I saw, knit in stocking-stitch with K2P2 ribbing, translated as "Basic pattern: facial smoothness. Elastic: 2Kh2." Facial smoothness. Hahahahaha.

But this, my good friends, is by far the strangest. Titled "the knitted erotic," this link is not for the faint of heart. Yes, it does contain nudity, so all you office-surfers/preteen knitters had better avert your eyes. This definitely tops my previous post of weirdo knitting porn. This will make you laugh. It will also test the very limits of your powers of comprehension and your faith in humanity. Unless you actually do have a knitwear fetish. In that case, enjoy. Russian Knitting Porn awaits you.

"It was a great disappointment to my idiom to read such a tasteless article"
--Tiffanie Ing, in a letter to the
Independent Weekly, now The Newspaper (unpublished)

Notes: Fixed whatever the hell was wrong with computer. Whee!
March/April archives seem inaccessable. Use these links: March & April a, b, and c. Photos to be fixed next time I'm procrastinating heavily.


/ 8:31 a.m.

Steam blocking vs. Wet Blocking
So I finished knitting Shona's sleeves last night, and this afternoon I steam blocked all the pieces. It was the first time I'd tried it, and as usual my research turned up contradicting advice. "Lightly press the pieces." "Never press the pieces." That sort of thing. Seems to happen often in the knitting world.

Anyhoo, I'd say the biggest benefit of steam blocking is that it's instant! Started sewing up the seams this afternoon, too. No need to wait three days for pieces to dry (v. good since I don't have much blocking space). However, I don't think I'd use it if the garment required major smoothing/adjusting - the steam makes the fabric ouchy hot and doesn't soak in enough to make it really pliable and mushy like wet blocking does. Also, you definitely have to use pins to steam block: you have to pin the garment out to the required size before steaming, whereas with wet blocking (especially if you don't need to be hugely precise) you can just slop it down on a sticky towel and stretch it out.

I'm not a complete convert, but I'll continue to use steam blocking for instant gratification on simple projects.

No photos today, because my computer's been hit with a stupid virus that crashes Explorer every 2 seconds. Sending this from the library, where I'm supposed to be reading State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, because I've got a book review due Monday.

"And she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head."
-- Lou Reed,
Take a Walk on the Wild Side.


Thursday, February 19 / 4:11 a.m.


Muffins are comfort food. I am not going to stress about that missing needle (or worry about my stalled essay research), I am going to make muffins. I suggest you do the same!


Wednesday, February 18 / 2:36 p.m.

So I've got a lot of Lana Gatto "Stoccarda" yarn in an off-white colour that, two Christmases ago, was, double-stranded, going to be this (without the holes. I do have some taste):

But the giant cowl looked retarded on me. I have short hair so it made my head look really little. It also kinda looked like a clown ruff. However, I spent loads of cash on the damned yarn so I then decided to make this:

It was another stupid choice (don't you wish you could try handknits on before you, um, knit them?) - the big turtleneck looked just as bad, and the puffed sleeves made my linebacker shoulders ridiculously broad. I think I knew this when I decided to make it, but I thought "hey, the only pattern I have that fits this gauge!" Bleh.
Ripped that out and decided to make it into something, ANYTHING, in order to (a) assuage the guilt for spending $150 (actually, on second thought, it was more) on yarn I was never, ever going to wear, and (b) to get it out of the house already. Doubled, it knits to approx. the same gauge as Big Wool and it's pretty light, so I decided to make this:

I'm really not sure why, since I hate shawl collars and since garter stitch button bands are crummy and since nice giant buttons are hard to find. Also, I've decided I look terrible in superchunky wool. Everybody probably does. Except tiny people who wear giant sweaters and look adorable in them. Stupid tiny people. Anyway.
I am now making this.

It will not use up all the yarn, but it will use up some of it, and it will probably take, oh, 2 hours.

Then I will give it to my friend Kelly, who would probably actually wear a short-sleeved turtleneck, and would probably look good in it too.

Then I will figure out what to do with the remaining yarn. Possibly make a scarf. But (of course) it sheds. And my coat is black. Stupid impulse purchase!

AND AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, I CAN ONLY FIND ONE OF MY 12 MM KNITTING NEEDLES! IT'S NOT LIKE THEY'RE EASY TO LOSE! THEY'RE GIGANTIC! And I don't want to buy another pair, because since I've decided I look terrible in superchunky wool (see above), it's unlikely that I'll be using them much in the future. AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH.


Tuesday, February 17 / 6:13 a.m.


After I filled up my spindle, I wound the yarn around the legs of a chair so I could make a skein, but decided to make it 2-ply instead. So I made a ball, and now I'll make another ball of another spindleful of yarn, and ply them together! I bet everybody in America has one of these chairs in his/her basement. They're what my college cunningly calls "desk chairs." HA. Well, now it's a "yarn chair."

Also picked up balls of lime green and bright purple yarn to make a dog sweater for a friend's pooch. I don't usually approve of dog sweaters, but this one, entitled "Dogosaurus Rex," has stegasaurus spikes on it. And since the dog in question is a miniature daschund, I think the result will be hilarious, and definitely worth knitting.

"She did it the hard way."
-- Bette Davis's Epitaph

Run, don't walk, to the video store and rent "All About Eve."


Monday, February 16 / 1:26 p.m.

New hat!

I didn't blog about this one 'cause I only started it yesterday. It's the earflap hat from Interweave Knits' special gift section in the Summer 2003 issue (click to enlarge), and I made it because I had a couple of balls of handspun lying around that had tried to be a scarf, then mittens, but just didn't look right. The silk/wool blend was smooth and soft, and the tweedy green colour was fantastic, but the lumpy texture (I really am a rank amateur at this spinning thing) just didn't look right in any of the projects I tried. Until this hat. I think it turned out pretty well. I made it yesterday afternoon while watching "As Good as it Gets."

Unfortunately, I look terrible in earflap hats. Incredibly, absolutely, terrible. I look much better in this, my favourite hat:

So I gave the earflap hat to my roommate. Everybody wins!

I'm partway through the first sleeve of Shona, but I didn't feel like winding more hanks today so I spun instead.

While the owl was hooting,
and the black beetle chewed at the log-house
and until the graves sank in,
and the oxen took a deep breath,
the first news of Troy was rounding the world,
and the radio said:
the old Prussians have vanished from the earth.
-- "Ballads of Kukutis" by Marcelus Martinaitis

Just right.


Friday, February 13 / 1:14 a.m.

Knitting on two circulars cont'd
I found this link today while going through my bookmarks... it's more useful instructions on how to join while casting on to knit with two circs. Comes from an interesting Japanese site entitled "the ABSs of Knitting" -laugh-

Just hit the raglan shapings on the front of Shona, but since it looks exactly the same as the back there's not much point in posting a picture.


Thursday, February 12 / 2:45 a.m.

Knitting on two circular needles
Those of you who already know how can skip this post. I'm not giving detailed instructions, because those can be found here. Despite that helpful site and the instructions in Interweave Knits (Summer 2003), I was still confused as all hell before starting. I didn't get the concept of knitting in the round on two circs. I think part of the problem was that I had used double-pointed needles to knit in the round already, and assumed it would be kinda the same thing. But it's not!

When you knit with double-pointed needles, you divide the stitches so that a quarter of them sit on a different needle, forming a square, and then knit the stitches on the first needle onto a fifth needle. Once the stitches are gone from the first needle, the stitches from the second needle are knit onto it, and so on.

Doing it with two circs is another story. Hmmm, how to explain this. Okay, pick up some form a fabric tube. A sock would be good. Doesn't have to be handknit. Alright, open up the top part and form it into a circle. So far so good. It's a circle. Now fold it flat again. Now it's more like two flat halves, a front and a back. When you knit on two circulars, you knit happily along on one half while the other half, sitting on the cord section, bends to accomodate your knitting.

Confused? Time to break out the photos.

Okay, here's the sock, just sitting on the circular cords, garishly Photoshopped because clear cords don't show up so well in photos. The stitches for the front half are on the 'green' needle, and the stitches for the back half are on the 'yellow' needle.

Now here's a photo of the sock, mid-way through knitting a row. See how I'm knitting the front with the green needle, just as I would knit flat knitting, as if the back half doesn't exist? The back half sits on the yellow cord behind the action. Click the photo to enlarge.

And here's a closeup. Realistically speaking, the yellow (back half) cord should be underneath/behind the working needle, but I don't have three hands! This lets you see how the half you're not working on curves to allow you to knit the other half.

If ANY of this is unclear, please leave questions in the comments! I'm trying to help people learn from the many frustrations I've suffered while learning to knit.

P.S. the socks are called "Merino Lace Socks" (creative, eh?) and they're from the Summer '03 issue of Interweave Knits. I'm making them for my mom, who loves weird socks.

"The telling of any story involves the suppression of other stories that might be told just as well [and be just as true]."
-- I picked this up in some random article in some random historical journal, and think it's a great nugget to help explain postmodernism.


Wednesday, February 11 / 2:20 a.m.

Moving right along...

So I'm finished the back of Shona. I'm knitting it to fit about a size smaller on me than on the model shown in the last post, because I want it to fit like one of my favourite store-bought sweaters, a thrift store find I grabbed last summer in Halifax at a little store called Junk & Foibles.

The stockinette really curls and I can't find my pins (or my keys, but that's par for the course) so I'll just give you a partial photo. Colours are really hard to photograph without natural light, and I'm not going to go out into the snowy Quad to snap photos of my knitting. Around here, that would be taken for crazy-cat-lady-ness.

The yarn's not all that soft, but the colour is fun, and it was a gift from an old friend, which makes it even better. I'm a bit concerned about some unevenness in the fabric - usually my stockinette stitch is, dare I say it, almost perfect. I think it'll smooth out with blocking. Blocking doesn't fix most problems, but I think that's one thing it can do. Hey, I think I'll block it this afternoon just to see.

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
The crowd called out for more


And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale.

--"Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, one of the best songs of all time


Monday, February 9 / 1:23 p.m.


So the Cottage Craft 2-ply has decided to become "Shona" from Rowan's A Season's Tale. Started it on Thursday and am halfway through the raglan shapings on the back... it's moving surprisingly quickly. The yarn is not super-soft, but the colour, a tweedy brownish purple with flecks of green in it, is fun - named, aptly enough, "Live Lobster." I'd have pictures for y'all but I went to a formal last night and things got a little - well, let's just say I'm a bit under the weather today.


Friday, February 6 / 2:17 a.m.

Is it just me, or are the new Rowan collections... ahem... LAME? I was waiting for #35 to come out with eager anticipation, but there's pretty much zilch in there that I'd really, really want to knit, and a lot of stuff I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Plus the Cotton Braid Collection, It's a Tape Thing, and Linen Print Collection are all terrible. Chunky tape and braid yarns just look awful on everyone. I do suppose, though, that it's not really Rowan's fault.... it's hard to design handknits for summer. You can only have so many knitted tank tops! And fun as it is to knit, chunky stuff just doesn't work in the form-fitting-bare-it-all-ness of summer. The new denim collection has a lot of great stuff, in it though, and I haven't yet seen a copy of Big Accessories.

So I've been underwhelmed with Rowan, Rebecca, and even Interweave Knits, the most palatable of the American knitting magazines, lately. At least Phildar's got a decent new Tendances coming out:

"We characteristically spill over the limits of our intelligence and get confused"
--Quentin Skinner


Thursday, February 5 / 3:15 a.m.

St. Brigid

  • Patons Classic Merino (~8 balls)

  • Started: June 2003

  • Finished: Early January 2004
    (but I ignored it for a good long time)

Yep, I finished it. Just after Christmas. I should've made the smaller size, but I wanted an oversized sweatshirt-type schlepping around sweater (yes, that's right. I like to schlepp around in sumptuous Celtic cables), and that's certainly what I got. Modifications? No fringe on bottom. Tacky, tacky, tacky. Someone somewhere in the blogging universe described it as a "horse blanket" and I completely agree. I also skipped the ribbing on the neckband. I did try it, but I didn't want to do it turtleneck-style and it looked terrible as a single layer. The neckband stands out on its own well enough anyway.

Tip: My row gauge was a bit off. Not substantially, but I needed to knit a couple more inches at the tops of the sleeves in order to get them to the right height. That resulted in oddly-shaped sleeves.

I didn't think it would be a big deal but once they were sewed together, the straight bit looked all bunchy and terrible. I 'fixed' it by re-seaming the sleeves on an angle (like I was going to re-knit ANY MORE of that sweater!) but if I knit this again, I'd re-calculate the increases to make a smooth line.

Oh, and I took this using a flash (anywhere outside to spread knitwear is covered in snow!) so the colour's a bit off. It's actually a deep jewel tone forest green.

"No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers."
- Laurie Colwin


Wednesday, February 4 / 11:18 a.m.

Return of the prodigal knitter
A combination of super-busyness and the lack of a digital camera (I read few blogs without photos, and I bet you do too!) resulted in a sadly abandoned blog. I am no less busy than before (but far more interested in blog-related procrastination) and I am (since Christmas) in possession of a snazzy Nikon Coolpix. But you don't wanna hear about any of this! You want to hear about the knitting!

There is lots of knitting news. Today, I will start with a kickass impromptu Christmas present I received from a distant relative. We were in town visiting, and my grandmother made me bring my spinning. "Juta's mother used to knit the most beautiful Estonian gloves," she said. "Yeah, but her mother's been dead for years and it's not like SHE knits. Besides, it's SPINNING. It's not even the same thing! She'll just think I'm some crazy back-to-nature type!" However, grandma always wins (comes from being little and white-haired and having the cutest accent, I think), so I brought my spinning, and as we were leaving I was presented with a pair of Juta's mother's hand-knit gloves. These gloves are famous in the family, absolutely gorgeous, and one-of-a-kind. I was pleased and surprised to receive these, especially since they're irreplaceable.

This photo doesn't do them justice at all, and puts the mittens I'm knitting to shame. You should really check out Folk Knitting in Estonia, Nancy Bush has done a gorgeous job with the book. She doesn't include any gauntlet-style gloves, though, which is too bad, because then nobody would need wrist warmers.

Someday, I will reverse-engineer this pattern. When I get over that whole hatred-of-knitting-fingers thing. Apparently Juta's mother didn't follow a pattern at all. She'd made so many pairs of gloves that she just made 'em up as she went along.

I've also decided, Curmudgeon-style, to include a quotation at the end of each entry. They will be randomly selected from my collection and will have nothing to do with the entries themselves. So there.

"I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here 1900 years ago - the other day."
-Marlow in Conrad's
Heart of Darkness, which is definitely in my top 5 list of favourite books.