The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s a gloriously sunny, warm one in our neck of the woods!  Blankie Love + mass-produced Hallmark pin:

Blankie Love waves hello to the parade

My Dad’s people were part of the Irish who arrived in Jamaica in the mid-1800s at the time of the abolition of slavery.  They came under the Jamaican Assembly’s policy of attracting Europeans to counter-balance the newly freed slaves in society.  The policy worked since they settled in the mountains and worked as small cattle farmers.  Did they go forth & tip the island’s racial make-up?  Nope!

Still with celebrations… Cuz’s engagement party was last Saturday!  My baking attempt was a fail.  Cakes should rise, right?  Carrot cakes?  Yah, so when that all dawned on me, DH rushed out to get the massive chocolate cake:

To the top right, is Little Cuz’s Skor Cheesecake.  Let me tell you – it was goood!

It was great meeting all of her fiancé’s family, and seeing my family too.  Everything but desert was catered by the Cajun Bajan Cafe.  It was all fantastic!

Will she mind if I show you the shoe pic?  Nah!

I’ve had an explosion of things to do & people to meet recently.  Apart from the sad state of the housework, it’s all been great!  The latest is our town’s Knitting Association.  I visited a meeting last night & was surprised by the numbers.  30 or so knitters.  Just based on the show & tell, the group seems to have a range of knitting styles & skills.  There was fun fur (ack!) but another lady was knitting fair isle sans pattern (props!).  They had a vendor/ presenter, and I left with these DPN protectors:

I break sock DPNs regularly & had just misplaced one yesterday afternoon.  It still hadn’t turned up, so I went for this.  It’s purple, so that was a plus.  The minus?  Cost – it was $11.29!

I started this sock on Monday.  It’s the Sandalwood pattern by Caitlin Stevens  from Interweave Knits Winter ’08.  One repeat into the leg, I am having doubts that it will ever come naturally.  The fact that the chart is sideways does not help.  IK has the pattern here (for a cost).  The yarn is a tweedy Zitron Trekking XXL.

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Rainy days

As much as I’d love summertime to show up, this weather is good for the knitting.   Here we are at the end of July & I am working on an alpaca & silk cardigan?!  Nuts, man.  The cardigan I speak of is Connie Chang Chinchio‘s spring IK design:  my purple cocoon cardi.

For the moment we are ignoring the problems I had with the front left piece, okay?  This is the start of a sleeve:

The former-earring-cum-marker is at Row 39.  I have another 20 or so rows of this cocoon pattern to go.

Hydrangeas also like rainy, cool Julys:

In & amongst the hydrangeas is a wildflower (weed?) that didn’t quite get thinned out this year.  Austerity Tip – to avoid spending $$$ on mulch just let the wildflowers be.   Oh and yes, DH has yet to cut the grass.

Other exciting but fully unrelated news:  (A) right foot is on the mend; (B) right foot was not broken!  Took me 3 weeks  & 2 follow-up visits to the Dr. to get this simple x-ray report… Universal health care.  As Uncle Pat always said, “Remember you are dealing with bureaucrats.  Be nice to them.  They are bureaucrats.”  That’s all I have to say about that.

Since the sprain is now low-grade, I have liberated my foot from the infernal boot.  It was giving me blisters even with cushioning & a sock & moisturizing.  I am to do physio, and all that good stuff.  In the meantime, I am getting the knack of walking sans right boot cast.

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Summer Crafting, Toronto style

They had a run of bad weather but Toronto Craft Alert finally hit Trinity Bellwoods park in a big way on July 5th!  This is Moon Angel’s photo of the TCA banner in all its crafty glory:

TCA in the Park

TCA in the Park

More photos are over at the Craft Toronto Flickr GroupBig up to the TCA! They finally got a sunny day, and it looks like they had a good turn-out.

Of course, I was flat on my back nursing my ankle…  I probably would have chickened out anyways.  There was zero chance of DH entertaining the idea, and I know exactly no-one in the Toronto scene.  I did the Downtown Knit Collective meeting cold in the spring but going alone to a picnic? Yah, that’s just sad…  I can aim for it though:)

Speaking of crafters… in an hour or so, I’m going next door for a jewelry show.  This is the tennis partner neighbour & she’s the maker of said jewelry.  I’m interested to see her work, but know full-well she is looking for buyers.  Since she got me to play tennis with a wooden racquet, we already know she is persuasive!  It’s fair to say that I am working on the finer points & politesse of admiring-but-not-buying.

Toby, bless him, is in everyone’s bad books.  He just had to freak out at 1 a.m.  Whereupon, DH tried but did not succeed at being calm/ assertive; I hop-tripped over a cord in the dark – ouch; and Toby kept up a fine racket for at least 20 mins.  Right now the wretch is the very picture of serenity, catching up on his sleep at my feet.

With luck, I’ll have the 2nd yellow & white sock finished soon.  Just 2″ of foot left to go.  Given his sleep deprivation, DH was mighty perceptive this morning.  Says he, “You know what you need?  A new project!”  Yes I do.  My cardigan makes sense in theory but it’s firmly on hiatus until I am back to the home-alone routine.  I can’t hit my yarn shops but do have great stash to work with.

Next post has to be a rant about the Interweave Books summer sale… but now I have to run.

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Sock Seduction

Slight change in plans.  To account for conditions on the ground, I got in touch with my inner sock knitter.

{Aside:  aren’t houseguests fun?}

Which is to say, my Purple Cocoon Cardi is on hiatus, and my Seduction Sock pattern by Ann Budd is out & in use again.  It’s been awhile, so if you are interested the pattern is free here with others.  Now at the foot, my sock:

Shorty Seduction Sock at the foot

Shorty Seduction Sock at the foot

The grass does need to be cut!

This is my 5th sock project, so I am still very much the novice.  It’s also my first stab at doing socks with a pattern.  I really would recommend it to any knitter.  As you can see, it’s not stitch-fancy or overdone.  It’s twisting with eyelets, and is easy to grasp as well as remember.  I have yet to want to make a pair of elaborate socks.  I do want to learn different modes of sock construction though.  I’d definitely try another Ann Budd design.  At any rate, this one is a great step-up from plain socks, and gives such a subtly pretty effect.  The mystery NY yarn is also adding to the glee.

Since the yarn is a total mystery, I can’t add to the stash.  Meaning, the sock needle is the stash.  The ball is running low, so I may have to go back on my word & rip, rip, rip it… 😦

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Encourages knitting

It’s happening more & more often.  Non-knitters over here in my real world tell me that they would like to pick up knitting.  But invariably these friends say it with an unsure voice and a very far away look.

So, today I’m not showing you what’s on my needles.  Here’s what’s on my fridge:

Res Ipsa Loquitur - the thing speaks for itself

Best comic ever!

That said, it is totally doable.  I was daunted, completely ignorant, and skirted around the idea for years before I actually tried to knit.

Even if people see the nice results, they still have a full conversation going on behind the wistful eyes.  I think the knitting myths have a lot to do with the holding-back.  The big myths at play are:

  1. Knitting, the time-sucker.  Sure, it takes time.  So does watching the entire American Idol competition or anything else on tv.  If you have time to listen to your ipod, you have some time to knit.  There are ways & means even for the hyper-busy.  I kept knitting while paying serious dues in the rat race, and keeping house (somewhat).  People with young children knit, and still manage to have lives.
  2. Knitters are lonely, home-bound people. Contrary to popular belief, we knitters do have places to go & people to see.  Life won’t pass you by.  I promise.  Some of my best knitting was done commuting on the Go-train, or where ever.  Knit at home or abroad – it’s your choice.
  3. Knitters are an artsy-fartsy bunch. What, this blog doesn’t dispel that myth?!?  Engineers, IT geeks, and math brains knit, design, and generally innovate.  It’s a diverse community.  In & among the folksy stuff, there’s the modern and cutting-edge.  For every pop culture movement out there, a knitting niche already exists.  Just come as you are!
  4. It’s all Greek. It kind-of is but only at first.  No matter if you learn you core skills by DVD, YouTube, pestering knitters, taking classes, books, it will be super awkward and baffling.  Only at first.  Soon the ridiculous yarn loops start to look like something.  And that is a very cool thing.

As for my cardigan… I have a body for it now!  The thing is that I may have to re-do the front left.  It feels like a pattern flaw.  Did the tech editors at Interweave Knits miss something?  The problem is that the tops of the front pieces do not match.  They should be mirror images.  I did the left side first, and found that the middle sloping cut in too deep – I was short 10 stitches.  Fudged.  On the right side, I knew to stop cutting in.  Not fudged.  In the FO, it might show pretty badly.

I’ll have to get back to you on that…

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Birthday love or converting the fam

Mamacita came up for my birthday & what a week we’ve had!  Toby for one has been in 7th heaven with all the attention, and I got spoiled rotten.   For all the lovely treats this gift was the best:  a sweater’s-worth of yarn!  It’s the same colour of our (now fading) clematis:

Blue Sky Alpacas Silk & clematis petals

Blue Sky Alpacas Silk & clematis petals.

It was pouring rain but she insisted we go to a Toronto YS for my gift.  No brainer for me – Lettuce Knit!  Now Mom is not a crafty soul.  She’s the consumate intellectual.  Knitting (and mine in particular) perplexes her no end.  So you have to understand this gift was an act of love.  I’m not exactly the swiftest of foot in a YS.  She had a look, and then just quietly stood by the door as I did my thing.

These 8 skeins are gonna become Connie Chang Chinchcio’s Silk Cocoon Cardigan:

Knits Spring 09 pattern spread for Cocoon cardi

Knits' Spring '09 pattern spread for Cocoon cardi

I’m cardigan challenged, so the wrap construction is right up my alley.  I figure it’ll be great for the fall.  The yarn is equal parts alpaca & silk – both are warm and cozy.

Reading Knitty last week had me itching for some Jennie the Potter goodness.  Hubby was open to my gift idea but had a pained look that said he had a cunning plan already.  Now, LK was out of the coveted mugs but I grabbed this:

Red Knit pendant, Jennie the Potter

Red Knit pendant, Jennie the Potter

Please don’t think less of me for that wall colour.  I didn’t paint it!  Yes, it’s gotta go!  Just using for contrast in the pic.

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Good knitting thanks to EZ

In reading/ entering Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop, I realized this all-over tight lace was not a shrug but a kind of doiley.  On page 112 she writes about designing lace shawls:

MUCH DEPENDS on the color and wight you want for your shawl.  You may work a shawl in any way you please; the looser you knit, the larger and lacier the shawl will be.  If you work tightly, you end up with a kind of doiley.

My dresser is doiley-free, and I’ll be damned if I am going to wear one myself – expensive yarn or no!

With EZ’s honesty, I discovered this tight stuff would make a good sleeve.  So, I got away with no frogging.  I studied my Knits Spring 09 issue & now have a looser back body:

Wedding Guest Shrug back body

Wedding Guest Shrug back body

I’ve gone up to 4.5 mm needles, and used Kristin Omdahl’s Lily of the Valley panel with the balance in openwork lace.  I am thinking about a crochet edging.  Of course I am!  May need a How to Crochet tutorial or three but that’s the thought banging in my head now.