Tuesday, January 27, 2009

cloche-fest 2009!

It is definitely time for me to get back to the business of knitting...

Both of these are from Laura Irwin's Boutique Knits.

The Sideways Grande Cloche,

yarn: 1.5 skeins of Mirasol Sulka (60% wool, 20% alpaca, 20% silk). A fabulous chunky weight yarn that is super warm and super soft, and just enough silk to make it "fancy". Simply gorgeous. (This is the yarn the BF picked out all on his lonesome...) You can read all about the Mirasol project and their fabulous yarns HERE. Colour #214 (cinnamon)

needles: this pattern calls for 4 different sizes (US# 7, 8, 9 & 10 I think) and I basically had to go down a size for each one.
Mods: the only mods I made were to account for the heavier yarn...I cast on 30 sts --I think the pattern calls for 42.

baby it's c-c-c-cold outside!

It's quite an ingenious pattern actually, and the finished product is definitely a keeper as far as I'm concerned. It's knit flat and seamed with the stitches picked up for the crown (hmmm not unlike a certain Jenny Cloche which I've also knit in the same yarn!). But the really neat part is the fake cable at the side...it's just a couple of ribbed strips twisted together. Simple and genius!

And then there was the "Side Slip cloche":

yarn: Blue Sky alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes (about 1.5 skeins) in "Chocolate" (ironic given that in person this yarn simply looks grey).
needles: 3.75mm --I pretty much went down as far as I could in order to get gauge. Clearly all worsteds are not created equal.

Is it cute? gah...I dunno. On ravelry I threatened to tear it all apart but several people emailed me begging me not to which I thought was kind of funny! The BF refered to this as my "conductor's hat" (jerk.) presumably due to the puffiness on top. So now I'm not so sure. It is simultaneously too big *and* a perfect fit.

More annoying is the fact that I had to send away for a second ball of this stuff from Purl Soho to even complete this hat, so the fact that I don't really like it is an extra twist of the knife. One ball of blue sky alpacas plus exchange rate and shipping to Canada borders on thirty five bucks (honestly why do I ever buy ONE of anything in the first place?).

Anyway, I think the pattern is entirely too "precious" for my taste. And the poof on top adds a certain little-house-on-the-prairie-ness too it that is just not me. AND the yarn is too nice not to be re-used into something that I will actually wear. So, those are my excuses three. Though I am thinking I may give it a bit of a blocking first before I officially commit to its final demise.

It's nice to be back on the knitting train again. It's been hard having an Archie-less lap while I'm knitting, but I'm getting used to it. Plus I have my other big 'ol beast who is now getting (and needing) extra attention these days. Don't know what I'd do without him (oh yeah I do...I'd be forced to get a house full of kittens!)

lookit that menacing fang!

Monday, January 19, 2009

thank you

I really want to thank all of you for you amazing, incredible, supportive and understanding comments on my last post about the untimely passing of my cat Archie.

Your words meant more to me than you will ever know, and those of you who shared your stories about the loss of your own furry friends really, REALLY helped me through this, and for that I will be eternally thankful. It is all the more meaningful to me because I know that's not why most of you come here, and that those of you who do read here are likely knitters, so the fact that you took that time is really humbling for me. We are all connected in so many fundamental ways.

As I begin to come out of the haze of this last week I am trying to move forward with a new perspective on (many) things, and am endeavouring not to dwell on it (particularly here) as a total Debbie Downer. I just really did not want you to go unacknowledged in all of this...A thousand hugs and a thousand heartfelt thank-yous!!!!

The art of getting back to "business as usual" is a bit of a process for me, as I know it should be. If nothing else this kitty business has proven to me that I could never. have. kids (!) And suffice to say I have not knit a stitch all week (nor really slept or eaten, but it's all slowly starting to get better). I had some new WIPS started before this all went down, so for lack of any real description, maybe i'll post the pretty, happy pictures here for you:

a chunky ribbed cowl

sideways grande cloche

the Raglan Wrap cardi

the Nati sweater

Anyway, there is lots for me to eventually get back around to. I'm also heading off to California and Las Vegas in a couple of weeks so have some serious travel knitting ahead of me.

I'm excited that Patons has come out with this silk bamboo...and see myself knitting it into Knitty's lace ribbons scarf somewhere on my road trip through the desert...

This trip could basically not have come at a better time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



I can barely type this but am hoping that forcing myself to do so will help me deal with all of this.

We lost our beloved Archie in the middle of the night, taken from us too too soon.

Archie had a heart condition, which I always knew we would be dealing with eventually but all yearly check-ups pointed to many, many years down the road from now. We awoke to Archie coughing up blood and thrashing and beginning to seize early this morning and all my attempts to resucitate him and administer cpr failed as he died in my arms somewhere before 1am. Just moments earlier he had been pressed up against my feet purring at the foot of the bed.

The shock of all of this is still so raw and I feel like I don't know what I'm saying or doing. It was all over so horribly, excrutiatingly fast that I still kept expecting him to just shake it off and snap out of it.

People who aren't rampant animal lovers as I am may never understand that Archie was essentially my baby boy and at times the only thing that would make me smile on any given day. I would rush home from work knowing that every day like clockwork he would run down to the door to greet me and purr in my arms for ten minutes before I was finally able to take my coat off.

I've never had a cat as sweet tempered and lovingly dispositioned as Archie. He was quiet and loving and when he dolled out affection you felt like you were the only person in the world. He will be sorely missed.

I am hurting so much right now and absolutely everything in this house and everywhere I look reminds me of him. I take solace in knowing that he led a life full of fun and love and that he had us with him at the end. As agonizing as that may have been I would have hated to have not been there and forever wondering what happened and what I could have done, instead of what I'm left with: "could I have done more?" It is all so painful and the scenes keep replaying over and over in my head in slow motion.

Archie, I love you and will think about you every day for the rest of my life. You were my special little guy and there will never be another one like you.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

T-weet T-weet T-woooooooo

or was that to-wit-to-wit to-wooooo? I seem to remember having an old Tweenie (pre-Brownie, now "Sparks") chant to that effect. And for some reason these mitts totally bring me back to Brownie/Girl Guide camp days. (Maybe it's the gold? --it's definitely the owls....) all they need is perching on a toadtool.

Stitch definition on the gold pair,

vastly superior to the grey ones:

Maybe it's the fleck in the grey?

Anyway, the deets:

Pattern: Give a Hoot mittens from Kelbourne Woolens
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino in old gold (mustard-y) and Belle Vallée 2ply in Md. Nat Grey. About half a ball for each pair.
needles: 4.5mm & 5mm

I knit the gold pair first and they went up lickety-split. I started with 3.75mm needles for my small hands, but in the end went with 4.5mm. They are a perfect fit. They also went up so quickly off and on within a couple of days that I immediately cast on for a second pair for a friend. (I am now officially sick of knitting mittens...)

That grey yarn was one of those one-off things you buy at a farmer's market because he's-right-there-and-everyone-else-is-buying-vegetables-and-I'm-a-knitter-and-I-should-support-him type scenarios. It was VERY coarse and twiggy stuff from a local farmer. I actually didn't think I'd ever use it, but I wanted to make a bigger pair so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

It was not unlike knitting right off the sheep itself---kind of like that Sylvester & Tweety cartoon where grandma knits the fur right off of him when he's hiding in her knitting basket...anyone know what I'm talkin' about? I tried to youtube it but then just gave up. As I was knitting with it I could feel the sheep's lanolin oiling up my fingers, and when I blocked it ---Pee-eww--that beast came alive. Serious wet wool/sheep smell.

Fortunately not so stinky after they dried,

(channelling Mary Catherine Gallagher here --minus the smelling of armpits) Also, what is going ON with my bangs????

I am seriously jazzed right now about a number of projects. Yes, yes, who was that girl that a couple of months ago was all "phooey, there's nothing I want to knit, boo hoo...", but am currently thwarted due to endless snowstorms around these parts. I'm hoping tomorrow wiill be my magic day as I've actually got a list raring to go for my two fave LYS'.

Also thwarted right now, is this hat until the rest of my yarn for it arrives in the mail. "Running-out-of-yarn" appears to be my middle name these days, not nearly so charming as "dances-with-wolves", but what can you do?

All to say that I am somewhat in limbo until I can get cracking on some of this stuff.

Monday, January 05, 2009

2009 knit-o-lutions!

...and a look back at 2008. I like to do these lists once a year ---mostly just to keep my sidebar at right nice n' tidy (have I recently mentionned my passion for organization?) so just wing through to the bottom if yer not interested, it's a surprisingly long list.

Moss Stitch scarf
Grey Classic Mitts
Brown Classic Mitts
Angora Floppy toque
Interwoven Cable hat
Wallis sweater
Knit bangles
double-breasted coat
Gretel beret #2
Lace rib cowl
Star crossed slouchy beret
Elisa‘s Nest tote
Just like a peasant cap
Cocoon cowl
Iceland sweater
Foxy angora beret
Emerald string bag
Calyx handtote
Phiaro scarf
Purl beret #2
Grrr washcloth
Swiss Cheese scarf
Tulip Doll
Jenny Cloche #3
Twinkle biker vest
Counterpane carpet bag
Cashmere cowl #3
Jenny Cloche
Jenny Cloche #2
Vintage shoulderette
Giant cowl #2
Herringbone neckwarmer
One day beret
Spiral scarf
Mercy beret #2
Borealis sweater
Sunrise Circle jacket
Twinkle Urchin beret
Fake-a-gamo purse
XO UO cowl
Mercy beret
Pilot hat
Aspen hat #2

In the end the little Owl mittens (sorry for not posting the pattern link last week!) didn't make the cut, though technically I *did* finish knitting them in 2008. I was knitting the button eyes onto them on January 1st though so I figured I shouldn't cheat and will move them to my list of 2009 F.O's. At the very least that way I will start the year "psychologically" having already completed something. But more on those to come. They were such a fast knit that I've already completed a second pair for a friend of mine.

As far as last year's knit-o-lutions went....erm. How does 50% completed sound?

I suppose it might sound ok if I hadn't chosen some embarrassingly easy resolutions in the first place. As it is I could have likely learned ALL of these things in one afternoon but STILL did not. So here you go:

-Learn to crochet. Yeah, that didn't happen. I mean, if forced I can muddle through the odd chain stitch, but that's about it. Still planning to take a beginners crochet course with my mother, so maybe i'll move this onto my 2009 knitting resolutions list again. I'm starting to get all weird and anti-crochet for no reason other than my own apathy. I'm starting to physically resent those patterns that call for both knitting and crochet work.

-Some form of colour work. Also, not done. Though given that I don't really like anything "multi-coloured" for the most part, I guess it's no surprise. Still I plan to start working on something within the realm of this soon, so onto the 2009 list it also goes.

-Magic loop. Big check mark here. I took a course on magic-loop and "knitting two socks at once on circs" earlier in the year. I have not practiced this method even once since then. But it's still freakin' done, so there. Again, I don't knit a lot of socks (try none) so I suppose it's no surprise this fell into dis-use for me. Though I guess the sheer number of mittens I've cranked out lately should have justified my picking it up again. Oopsy.

-De-stash. Well, this is ongoing though I must say I have been really, really good about it. Anything I've bought in the last year was pretty much bought for immediate use and used-so accordingly, so the stash hasn't grown at all, and if anything it's actually shrunk. I've been going out of my way to use up even yarn that I can no longer stand the sight of. The last sweater I knit was even yarn torn from another sweater. Really I could keep making more and more sweaters out of the five I've knit in my closet that I don't wear. Hell, I'm already thinking about frogging Iceland from mere months ago simply because the yarn is too nice and I never want to have to spend $300 on sweater supplies again!

Now, as far as NEW knit-o-lutions go?

Ugh. How 'bout I just leave it at that for now? Don't want to get toooooo ambitious now, do I? (baby steps, baby steps). Plus it seems like when a deadline looms I have a tendancy to dig in my heels and practice all my best avoidance skills.

It wasn't much of a knitterly Christmas for me this year either. (I mean what do I really need?) though the hubby did surprise me with some gorgeous yarn that he picked out all.on.his.lonesome. Shocking.

He did not in fact even know what he was looking for. I've made a hat in this gorgeous yarn once before and commented that I would "like to pick up some more". He went into my LYS and simply spotted it. Not knowing the name, just remembering the hat. That, my friends is some serious knitter's osmosis right there. Why can't I learn to play the guitar that way?

And my sister also gifted me Laura Irwin's Boutique Knits. Not since LMKG have I been able to see myself casting on for so many things from ONE book.

And I'm starting with the Side Slip Cloche,

In some gorgeous yarn that I am so paranoid I will run out of. Still I press on.

Other things I'm mosdef putting into the queue from this book:

Yowzers. Though fortunately most of those are relatively small projects and should kill a couple of those resolutions for me at the same time.

And now this post is officially crazy long, but that's Xmas and New Year's in a nutshell for you. This year I plan to not wax on so much about how much I love all your blogs and about how much the online knitting community has meant to me these last couple of years, so just KNOW IT. You guys are the best --have a Happy 2009!