Tuesday, December 30, 2008

back to basics volume II

Happy Holidays! ok, I'm a little late on that score, but I'm still on time to wish you all a Happy New Year :)

The ONE measly item of Christmas knitting that I had to do this year did not even get finished. Well, it was kind of a two-fer...matching scarf and mitts. The scarf got done,

oh that handsome devil...

I know, what a boring scarf (but highly wearable I must say) particularly for someone on the less uh flashy side of fashion.

The matching mitts though, did not turn out as planned...

(I should have made him do a thumbs-down here instead...)

meh. I just took a basic mitt pattern and altered it with a moss stitch.

To say that I am sick of knitting mitts right now would be pretty accurate --though I must say that I think it's mostly psychological. That one moss stitch mitt sat on my coffee table staring at me for about two weeks while I decided what was to become of it. It was also a psychological barrier for me in that I refused to cast on anything new until I could at least get those done. And the more I told myself that, the less I wanted to knit anything.

They worked out ok, but it was a bit too matchy matchy, so I tore 'em out in favour of the all-too basic mitts once again:

Now that they're done I feel the weight of them lifted and I can finally turn towards newer projects..

Why then did I decide to cast on for ANOTHER pair of mitts last night?!

Well, they were just too darn cute not to...

Can't wait to add the little button eyes!

With any luck I'll manage to squeak these in as my last knit of 2008. I can't believe another year of knitting has come and gone.

I have some knitting on the horizon for 2009 that I'm excited to get started on and I'm planning to do my usual look back at the previous year's knitting and 2008 knit-o-lutions like so many of you as well (spoiler: 2008 knit-o-lutions NOT completed--surprise, surprise) so I will likely have to tack those onto this year's list as well...oopsy.

Hopefully my energy will return after I've consumed the last of the Christmas chocolates in the house and can get back to yoga (among other healthier pursuits) after a two week absence. Ok wait, I still have a New year's eve bloat to get through as well.

ugh it never ends...
have a great New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

get in a better mood

You know, I've always considered myself more of a winter person than a summer gal, but this season I am SERIOUSLY being tested.

It's kind of the perfect storm of seasonal annoyances around these parts --relentless snowstorms that we don't *usually* have this early in the year (and I might add that I don't have snow tires, so this morning's drive in was beyond stressful); a freakin' TRANSIT strike (i.e no alternative bus/train that I'd normally use when I deem the weather too terrible to drive and therefore 40 times as many cars on the road) and a major bridge closure that is backing things up mental into the downtown core.

It's not even Christmas yet and I am SO. over. this. Now that I've moved the two + hour walk in is less palatable than my previous hour of walking, but after this morning's relentless fish-tailing at every intersection I'm starting to re-consider it. Though judging from the people I did see walking today I also don't relish the idea of walking down the middle of the main roads with my back to traffic because the freakin' sidewalks still aren't plowed. Last year we had record snowfalls and the city completely blew their budget on plowing so it seems like this year they are hell bent on holding out as long as they can. How can this beeeeeeee???????

Ok, that is my local rant--I promise it stops there. I'm stressed out about money these days (new home, go figure) and I'm starting to feel like it's my civic duty to be worried about the economy and my country plunging into an eventual crisis of 1930's depression-era proportions, and it's Christmas and I'm trying to be frugal but I still have to be spending and spending and then the heating bill came and and and and.... I know, I know, it's the same everywhere.

************knitting, where are you????????**************

I've been trying to get re-inspired a bit lately...rather than just keep telling myself that there's nothing new out there that I want to knit, I've seen it all before blah blah blah. There's a new Knitty...though for the most part I don't tend to knit too much off that site...the last Twist Collective was pretty good...checking out Phildar sweaters, perusing my old knitting books (which if nothing else had me asking the question "WHY did I buy this???") You know how it goes.

I then decided to re-visit Berroco which has a lot of free patterns, and that I haven't been on in AGES, and with a current pattern hunting criteria of "fast & fun", here's what I've come up with:

Boot Toppers!!! How fun are these? These may be just what a pair of soon-to-be-tossed boots needs to extend their longevity.

Flip top mitts. About a month ago I scoured Ravelry for a pair of these...a task you'd think was easy, but finding a pattern that didn't have individual fingers proved difficult. These ones look great --and chunky yarn equals a fast knit!

Ice Scraper mitts! I had the best of intentions this year in making these for all the "dudes" in my office (the women are all getting bracelets so the men needed something for their wrists too, right?) but then I just never got around to it. I'm liking this pattern better than the one I had in mind originally though so who knows, maybe I can still bust out 5 of them as "New Year's" presents. Yeah, right.

Or maybe a Jellyfish?

Ok, maybe not.

But I think I might have even come up with my next sweater project via Berroco...

Umberta. It's a bit of a departure from the kinds of sweaters I'd normally knit, but I decided it was time to take some of Stacey & Clinton's usual advice for my body type and apply it to what I'm knitting this time....empire waist, v-neck, long enough body etc. etc. And not so chunky that I will look like a line-backer in it. You know, as previously stated...back to basics.

With any luck I'll be checking my LYS this week for the pattern and yarn (what was that about not spending?). I'm making the exception here...knitting keeps me sane after all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back to Basics

I think I have the pre-Christmas knitting blahs. Blogland is quiet these days because no one is really able to blog about their Xmas knitting it seems, but I think I have the opposite problem---I'm not really even DOING any Xmas knitting. NOR am I even doing any knitting for myself.

I have been going way back to basics with some majorly simple knits...

The moss stitch scarf for the BF:

In the always exciting "basic grey" colourway. I'm planning to knit him a matching pair of mitts as well. We've put a serious limit on our Christmas spending this year, so I'm hoping that a bit of knitwear will help pad it out (if I make it by that deadline!).

My colour choices right now are seriously drab and "back to basics" as well, but the reality is that that's what I will wear. As drawn to and wowed by all the pretty colours in the yarn store as I am, apart from the odd accessory here an there those never wind up being go-to items for me.

The one thing I AM knitting for myself right now is a scarf as well. Also seriously basic in seed stitch.

Yup, I've knit like 5 inches on it. It's sport weight on small needles. This thing may take a million years (basic though it is) and drive me mental in the process.

The yarn is freakin' gorgeous baby alpaca from Bonne mines farm just outside Quebec. It's actually the natural colour of the Alpaca itself and was a gift from my sister, so I really wanted to make something simple that would show it off just as it is. I scoured Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting patterns looking for just that "right" stitch pattern. Tried several and tore them all out. My main criteria being NO right-side/wrong-side and hence nothing that would curl at the edges. In the end I went back to seed stitch. If anyone has any other suggestions with those same criteria in mind I'd love to hear them...

On Friday after my monthly massage (yes this is not as "luxurious" as it sounds---I'm sure I've mentionned before that it's my monthly "long-standing-yoga-injury" pummeling...) my RMT said the dreaded words to me that no knitter ever wants to hear: "So, can I commission you to knit something for me?" DREAD as thoughts of intricate-intarsia-sweaters-in-time-for-Christmas spring to mind...but in the end she just wanted a pair of chocolate brown mitts to match her new coat. PHEWPH!

So I am only to happy to gift them to her.

The pattern is from Free Vintage Knitting, and they are about as basic as you get. Hopefully she likes them, and that's all she really had in mind, she didn't really give me any details beyond that...

And that's IT. That's all I'm knitting right now. I even spent a lot of time trolling Ravelry yesterday looking for some new sweater ideas, but there's nothing I couldn't wait to cast on for. What's wrong with me? I can't even remember the last time I bought new yarn....and that's monumental.

Soooo, I'm hoping that a possible Xmas infusion of knitting books or magazines will light a fire under me once again. Or maybe I need to start perusing old Phildar catalogues and actually remembering all those things I thought I couldn't live without in the past...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

size does matter

I know I've blogged about Dutch artist Christien Meindertsma's HUMUNGOUS knits before...she of the ENORMOUS knitting needles:

--knits so humungous they make Twinkle's knits look like baby fine lacework---but have a look at this amazing cabled rug:

wow. wow. wow!
I find it's often the people who are not knitters "by trade" that seem to come up with the most ingenious stuff, and while I know her projects are more art installments based on the lives of the animals that she's involved with *in* those pieces, I can't help but marvel at the magnitude of it all.

Friday, November 28, 2008

hat party redux

Hats a-plenty round these parts lately (and brrrrrr do I need 'em!)

pattern: Floppy Toque by Cathy Caron (Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008) size xs
yarn: Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit (less than 1 skein held double)
needles: 4.5mm

This yarn: fabulous. But fuzzy --yeah, duh I know, it's angora. Mercifully it's a quick knit, so the fuzz-up-the-nose factor is limited. The xs size was pictured on the model, and it looked super floppy so that's what I went with (I have a small head...) In the end a floppier hat would have been even better for me I think (a medium maybe?). The yardage required for even the XS was TEN balls of angora (they usually come in what ten gram balls?--5 or 6 or 10 bucks a pop?) so financially the Peter Rabbit is a great deal for something like this at $20 a skein. I've had this ball in my stash for a really long time not knowing what to do with it. I had the same yarn in another colour as well, and one skein yielded me this scarf (hard to believe one year ago I was a much less experienced knitter...) but that's just to show how much you can get out of one skein (and how quickly you can grow as a knitter in a short amount of time).

I've long wanted to do a Cathy Caron pattern, so in some ways this wee hat is a bit of a cop-out in that regard cuz she's got some great sweater patterns --these have been in my queue for ages...not sure when I'll ever get around to them:

(who IS this gorgeous model she uses for all her shots?)

Well, after this hat, maybe it's time I actually buckled down and did one.

Also in the hat department:

A loong time ago miss Amy of Whistlepea knits was sweet enough to gift me her hat pattern and some yarn. I just can't believe it's taken me this long to get around to knitting it!

did I just wake up?--are those pajamas?!

pattern: Interwoven cable hat by Amy O'Dell (buy one here)
yarn: Elann peruvian highland wool in bisque (1 ball)
needles: 5mm

Further proof that I am a loose knitter--I didn't check my gauge *and* ran out of yarn. I didn't have any more cause she had gifted it to me originally, BUT I had some Patons in a similar colour. I finished off the crown with it and ta da...how weird is it that it is an exact freakin' match? Well, I mean it must not be, it's not even the same yarn yet alone dye lot, but the match is seamless. Crazy, huh? Patons to the rescue once again.

Thanks again Amy for the fun knit!
Ok I think that's probably more than enough photos of yours truly for one day...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


and then BAM! all of a sudden it's done.

except by "all of a sudden", I pretty much mean "several months worth of apathy".

pattern: Wallis sweater by Sarah Hatton (Rowan #38) size M
yarn: Mission Falls 1842 in "cocoa". I have no idea how many balls --at least 10 I'd say. I frogged the yarn from this which wound up being odds and ends by the time I pulled it all apart (can you say 50 million ends to weave in??) and then I still ran out and had to buy two more balls.
needles: 4mm

Soooooo, I think I have to hold off on doing any more "batwing" type sweaters for a while...

I like the look but it's not so practical. For starters this thing is a beast to begin with, nevermind trying to cram those sleeves under a coat. Much like Iceland before her, it CANNOT be done. Nor is this one really thick enough to wear as a "coat" on it's own either (the lace pattern is a little prohibitive that way) --and that outside photo shoot you see here almost left me with pneumoina.

It's not really evident in the pics, but in any natural light the neck is a different colour than the rest...(maybe you can see that a bit in the top photo) though I had virtually completed the front and back before I was forced to buy new yarn in a different dye lot, so I was non plussed by the prospect and wasn't about to scour the internet for more in the same lot. Ah well, it's subtle...less subtle than that run-on sentence describing it at any rate.

Verdict? Too big. But I guess that's not a bad thing...it is essentially a poncho with a waist after all.

At one point I had both cats crammed inside of it with me, but one kitty-head sticking out of each sleeve didn't make for the hilaious photo op I'd hoped it would.

When I originally started knitting this there was maybe one other example of it on Ravelry. When I finally posted it as complete yesterday there were at least a dozen, so people definitely managed to bust this out a lot quicker than I! I think I lost interest a couple months ago when it dawned on me that I was essentially knitting a blanket. But it is as you would imagine, very VERY comfy. And I do love that Mission Falls superwash. I'm actually kind of debating on whether I should seam the arms up a bit more.

I was tempted to post more pictures from different angles etc., but I think it's pretty evident how it looks...the same from the front as it does from the back! (in fact If I *hadn't* started with a new dye lot on the front I wouldn't know the front from the back at all.

But regardless of any woes I might have had with it, I am envisionning myself many evenings curled up on the sofa in it (especially given our reluctance to turn the heat up...) with a good book (or a new project), cup of tea (glass of wine)in hand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Etsy Knitspiration

In light of the crazy-ass economic times we find ourselves in (most especially my neighbours to the south...) isn't handmade a better way to go for the holidays? And since most of you reading here are likely knitters anyway, I figured we were all due for a little knitting gift-spiration.

For the jewellery lovers out there, (that's ALL of us, right?)

$58 from Toggle

Silvia66 $42

knitted flowers from Silvia66 $18

Knitted I-cord rules, and there are million things you can do with it. Perhaps something for the vinyl junkie in your life? (This one is crochet, though you could easily coil up some I-cord for the same effect...)

Record cushion from Toggle $68

And from Olive Brown, gorgeous super-sized chunky knits:

Colour-block scarf $115

Neck Loop $75

Hemp Market Bag $75

Chunky Cowl from SprattersandJayne $85

Dishcloths from CocoaBean $6

There is something on Etsy for everyone in virtually every price range and every taste.

If nothing else these ideas make me wonder why I'm not motivated enough to start my own knitwear etsy shop...though stay tuned, that is likely on the horizon, I'm just narrowing down what I think my niche should be.

Oh, and I almost forgot to add this one --for the truly ambitious among you...

from Theresa Honeywell

Ok, maybe not.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Phildar

So much love for these patterns...I might actually have to order myself this catalogue. Finally a few sweater pattern that are getting me excited again:

more love here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

entering her single digits...

My good friend's daughter is turning ONE tomorrow...I can't even believe it:

pattern: double-breasted knit coat from Easy Baby Knits 6-12 mos. size
yarn: Cascade 220 Quatro the heathers colour #9453, 2 skeins (ok, you know I just chose this yarn as my 80's homage to Heathers! hmmmm, I need to watch that again --it's been a while)
needles: 5mm

Ah, the joys of knitting for someone so little --you can bust out an actual garment in no time flat with a real sense of accomplishment (she says as her wallis sweater languishes in a corner somewhere...). Sidebar: I've discovered that it is seriously counterproductive to try on a sweater when it is close to completion. My Wallis sweater literally only has the sides still to be seamed up. So what did I do this weekend? I . tried. it. on. Bad idea. The thing is freakin' enormous and now my desire to finish it after all these months was immediately quashed. yargh.

But this little beauty turned out great. As usual, the buttons were my biggest dilemma, and the thing sat finished awaiting those for several weeks.

I'm really of the button school of thought that buttons should pretty much disappear...hence the difficulty in finding a compatible purple. It really makes me crazy when I am on the hunt for a black cardigan and can only find ones with white buttons. What's up with that? But personal pet peeves aside, I'm happy with how it turned out in the end. Seaming was a bit of an issue, as the raglan shoulder seams are supposed to be seen on it as a bit of a "design element"--and that's easier said than done. I'm starting to think I could really benefit from some sort of seaming course. The problem with those is that they always want you to bring a finished piece that still needs to be seamed. When do those two realities ever synch up?

My other fear is that this jacket will also be too small. I knit the 6-12 month size as the next one up was seeming really big as I was knitting the back. AND I got the yarn out of a sale bin somewhere so knew I'd run out on the next size up. I knit the length and the arms a bit longer, but that's about all the mods there were. Guess I'll know this weekend if it fits...if it doesn't I will likely take it home and simply block the shit out of it.

Also getting the jump on some smaller "office" holiday presents:

These were fun and FAST.

I used mostly DK weight yarns...I'm fearful that some of my co-workers with bigger hands may not be able to get them on. I'm a terrible judge of this myself due to my own freakish child-sized hands. Did I mention in the end that we had to get my engagement ring sized to a THREE?! I'm still reeling from that one. But anyway...knit in the round so there would be no seam, and for the most part I cast on around 60 stitches, depending on what knit pattern I was going with. I just got the bangles from one of those cheap-o Ardene/Claire's type stores and then mattress-stitched them on length-wise. Easy peasy. Definitely plan to crank out more of those.

And for the men in the office? Something similarly small? A tie pin perhaps? Ok, maybe not.

Is anyone else having this issue where blogger is automatically cropping all your photos (regardless of what size you load them up at)? It's driving me crazy.