My friend Denny? She loves weaving in ends.  Loves. It.  All of her peers have used this to our advantage.  Barters, trades – casual arrangements, we’ve all taken advantage of Denny’s proclivity for finishing ends up in one way or another.  (In the past, we have even done things like strategically leaving a piece of knitting lying around with the ends showing. She can’t resist. She’ll weave them in out of reflex. It’s like a disease.)  Denny can’t tell you why she likes it, exactly.  She says it’s satisfying, she thinks it’s fast and fun, she enjoys the sense of closure it gives her to tidy things up and make them all nice.   Something like that.

I am nothing like Denny.  I hate weaving in ends.  I accept that it’s part of knitting, and I don’t hate weaving in ends enough to let it shape my choices – not like knitters who hate seaming enough to let it put them off a sweater knit flat, but I have it in the same category for fun as peeling potatoes or washing the coffee filter.  Something you have to do if you want to do something else.  Like have coffee, or potatoes, or a sweater.

Last night I was sitting there on the couch, tidying up a wee sweater that sort of materialized around here over the weekend.  My mum, who really isn’t the sort of mother who gives you choices when she wants you to do something, told me that I was going to be making a sweater for a baby who’s special to her.  Her friends hadn’t known what flavour baby was arriving, so they got a lot of yellow and green and white, and Mum’s only request was that the sweater not be baby colours like that.  This means that I was given carte blanche.  I could do anything I wanted, and I took full advantage of this to have a little fun.  I decided what I would do, that it would take two colours, and I called up The Purple Purl and told Jennifer that I needed two colours for a baby boy and she could do whatever she wanted, and that someone would be by later to get it.  She chose, Joe transported it home, and that night I started a sweet little sweater, and remember, I could do anything I wanted. What I wanted to do surprised  me, and got me thinking. What did I do for that sweater?

Stripes. Lots of them. Even pulled the work out and rejected six row stripes in favour of four row stripes, and then chose to cut the yarn at the beginning of every change because a) I think it makes the change point look better than carrying the yarn up without cutting and b) THAT WAY THERE ARE AS MANY ENDS AS POSSIBLE.

I sat there last night, weaving in end after end after end… and I was thinking that I hated it, and then I thought about it.   For a knitter who knows she’s not a masochist,  and says she hates weaving in ends,  I’ve  made some interesting choices lately.  Maybe, after more than a decade of exposure… maybe Denny’s getting to me.


As of this evening, I’ll have been working on this scarf, and this scarf alone for one week.

Seven days. Seven days of the same thing without a single moment of disloyalty, unless you count socks.  I don’t count socks, because they fit in my purse and this? I don’t mind trucking along several feet of scarf, but I’m not the sort of person who can manage 8 balls of yarn on the subway. I’d get home and discover that I was short a ball of Saddle Tan that fell out of my bag on the Spadina platform, and as much as I don’t care for the colour, I do need it, and soaking in a puddle of salty slush is no place for any yarn to end up, no matter what colour it is. 

So, if you don’t count socks (and we are not going to) I have been totally loyal to this scarf for seven days – and tonight it stops. Tonight I’m finishing.  Even though I have 105 ridges (that’s 210 rows) to go, I can tell that tonight’s my night. With my wool as my witness. I will finish this scarf on the seventh day, and it and I will part ways tomorrow.

The force is with me.

Cosmic Latte It is Not

The scarf trudges forward.  Yeah verily, though I knit through the shadow of the Doctor, and all that there is and will ever be is garter stitch, let me tell you that there is nothing about this project that makes me want to flinch hard away and knit a freakin’ hat like Saddle Tan.

Saddle Tan is the dark beige in this scarf.  I hate it.

I hate it with a passion that makes me want to paint my body a bright turquoise and put yellow ochre gems in my hair just to fight back against the swelling, nondescript oh-please-try-harder-to-be-a-colour awfulness that is Saddle Tan.

I know several things about this colour. I know it’s important that it is in the scarf.  I know that it belongs there, and that like spiders, it is an important but loathsome part of this ecosystem.  I know that like you need to add salt to cut the sweetness in cookies, and like the way you wouldn’t know happiness if you were never sad, I know that Saddle Tan is the ying to the the other colours yang.  I know too that some bad things are good things, like some plants need an environmental trigger to reproduce, like pyriscence – where not only is a fire not bad for the tree, it’s the only way more trees can come about.  I know all that, and I know that in the grand and harmonious saga that is this scarf, Saddle Tan is vital, and lovely, and perfect and that the scarf would be nothing without it.

I also know that Saddle Tan is absolutely the colour of every soul-sucking  basement apartment I have ever been in, and I just want you to know that if I flip the frak out while I’m knitting this, it will be because there were 22 ridges of Saddle Tan in a row.

Not Really a Sprint

When I posted the picture of my latest project on Thursday, I thought for sure that it was obvious.  When I asked for guesses, I got a surprise that had unintended effects.  The project is, as many thought, a replica of the Season 12 scarf that Dr. Who wore.  (Because of copyright, and the fact that Dr. Who belongs to someone else – the thing is cleverly called "Who’s your Favourite Time Traveller?" I got it as a kit from The Little Red Mitten, but the pattern’s here. It was irresistible.)

I started it on Wednesday, and let me tell you, I was chock full of delusion.  I honestly thought that it would be done by now.  I’ll pause here to allow those of you who have knit one of these bad boys to pick yourself up off the floor and wipe the dust bunnies off the side of your face.

You see, it’s about 12 feet of garter stitch in sport weight wool.  Yeah, that’s a fair bit of knitting, but I realize now that I allowed three little words to convince me that it would be a walk in the park.  I heard "garter stitch" and "scarf" and decided that there was absolutely no way that this would be hard, and it turns out I was sort of right.  The knitting itself? Easy peasy.  How couldn’t it be? The trick to this isn’t knitting it, it’s not stopping knitting it. The skill this takes? It’s stamina.  Last night I was knitting away on it, and realized that I’m about halfway, and I took a break and went to read the comments on the blog post for a while. 

I was surprised at all the great guesses.  Andrea thought it might be a Baby Surprise Sweater for Lou.  (Although with that much yarn, it would be for his 18th birthday.) Pamela thought maybe a Moderne Log Cabin blanket.  Etcgirl said it might be All the Shades of TruthPat had her money on a Betty Mouat cowl.  Kimberley said a Ron Weasley Blanket,
Sue, Jennifer and Mary said a Temperature Scarf…. and as I went along, looking at all those pretty things, I started to get a little feeling. 

A feeling that said "Hey Steph, this scarf is sort of long. You should maybe take a break from it and make something else. One of those things. Or something like those things… like a hat. Or a lace shawl… or maybe a sweater… a grey sweater. A pink hat.  Rainbow mittens….or you know… ANYTHING THAT ISN’T THIS."  I heard that voice, I respected what it was saying, and I thought about it.  I thought about it enough that before I even really knew what was happening, I was in the upstairs stash pulling down all sorts of things and getting ready to take a little scarf break and then it hit me.

This scarf is like a marathon. I am not the sort of person who can stop. If I stop to take a little rest, I will never get back up. The scarf will go to the back of the closet, I will pretend I never started and it will become something else that Rams and Presbytera mention and I ignore or WORSE it will go to the back of the closet until next December, when I will drag it up (because it is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, and how am I supposed to let that go) and try to finish it in a few days in a marathon of garter stitch nightmare that – while it may be fun for you, will be terrible for me.

No, no.  There is only forward my friends.  Only forward.

Finished and Started

Only two last Christmas presents to show you, all done and finished well before 12th night.  That means that in the end I only fell down on Joe’s socks, and frankly we’ve been together long enough that I can likely either get away with it or make it up to him, and honestly,  he’s the sort who would only pretend to be bothered by it so I would have to make it up to him, which means that in a roundabout way he’s also probably happy I didn’t finish.  As much as those aren’t done, these pretty Ellie Mitts are.

I’m a little addicted to these, which is funny, because to be completely honest I’ve always thought that fingerless mitts were a little silly.  I mean, if it’s cold enough that your hands might need mitts, wouldn’t your fingers need mitts too?  It’s always my fingers that get so cold, but it turns out that I wear mine all the time, they really do make a difference… and now in the deep of the winter, I’ve been putting them on under my mittens – so that when I inevitably have to take my mitts off to get my keys, or find bus fare, or use my phone – I’m not totally exposed.  Turns out they’re awesome, and it’s hard to beat the MCN kits for these mittens from Indigodragonfly for cozy.  Lovely yarn – and the buttons have me entirely charmed.

(The colourway is "Shall we Tint", exclusively from Shall we Knit.)

This pair (together with the other little thing I finished but haven’t shown you yet) wrapped up my commitment to Christmas knitting, so I did something (other than plod away on Joe’s socks) that I think is super responsible. 

I started a Christmas present for next year.  Any guesses?

Sometimes I Impress Myself

This thing happens to me all the time, where I own a tool, and another person owns the same tool – only their version of the tool seems to do a lot more things than mine does.  Take my laptop – Ken has the same one, the exact same one, only his does all this really great stuff and mine doesn’t. His practically makes dinner and folds the laundry, and mine – well. I have trouble believing they’re the same computer at all. I feel like maybe his came with elves in it. Magical dancing clever elves that make his computer so much more useful than mine.  

The same thing has been happening with my loom.  I’ve got that little Cricket rigid heddle, and pretty much it makes plain scarves. Meanwhile, Syne’s rigid heddle makes spa wash cloths, and Dorothy’s rigid heddle made a crazy table runner, and I can’t even talk about what FarmNana pulls off. I kept thinking that they must have better looms. Looms with some of those bad-ass elves in them.  Then I saw this book – The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom and I wondered if it might help make my loom more like their looms.

It does.  It’s still a scarf though.  Don’t want to get all crazy.

Happy New Year

I love the first day of the year. So full of hope, so full of promise, so full of stuff I haven’t totally screwed up yet.  Today I’m observing another family tradition, which is to spend New Years Day doing a little of everything you would like the next year to hold.   To this end, my day is very carefully planned.  A little knitting, a little yoga, a little weaving, a little spinning, a little writing, a little conversation with friends, a beautiful levee this evening… all the things I want to carry forward and do more of in the upcoming year.  To this end, this morning I had to warp my little rigid heddle loom.  I use the direct warping method for it, where you tie the yarn to the back beam, then pull a loop through the heddle and out to a warping peg attached some distance away,  then back to the beam again. Every loop pulled out measures the length of the warp.  It’s fast and pretty easy, but I’ve always been hampered by a lack of things to attach the peg to. 

The peg has to clamp to something, and then you clamp the loom down to something opposite, and it turns out there’s not much in the house that both things will clamp onto that are opposite each other, so my habit has been to pull the dining room table out from the wall, then pull out the leaves of the table so it’s really long, and clamp the loom to one end, and the peg to the other.  It’s a little limiting though, since the warp can only be as long as the table.  This morning I didn’t have anyone to help me pull the table out, and plus I wanted a warp longer than the table, so I started trying other things.  I thought that if I clamped the loom to the table on the side, rather than the end, and then found a way to clamp the warping peg to one of the dining room chairs, then I could put the chair far away and opposite to the loom.  It was a perfect solution, except that the peg wouldn’t clamp to the chair. 

I was about twenty minutes into a ridiculously complex plan involving pieces of wood, two C-clamps from the basement and a bungee cord, all in the name of attaching this  peg upright to the top of the chair, when I had a stunning realization.   I didn’t have to attach the peg to the chair.

I could just wind the yarn around the chair. The chair could be one big warping peg.  The warping peg isn’t the only thing in the whole wide world that you can wind a warp around – and I can’t believe how this changes my world view.  I can have warps any length now, not just the length of my table, and furthermore, I can stop worrying about losing the warping peg, which frankly, has been a burden.  It’s not very big, and for as long as my idea about warping involved that peg, I’ve been worried that I would lose it and then what would I do?

I was feeling ridiculously clever and tickled with myself for figuring this out, and I was about to call a weaving friend and tell them all about my amazing innovation, when I realized two things. First, that it had taken me two years to figure this out, and that’s not really something I was proud of, and second… I bet they knew this already, and that calling to tell them how brilliant I was to have engineered this was probably not going to have the effect I wanted. It was going to be more like calling someone to tell them that you’ve just figured out that you can go both IN and OUT your door, and that’s when I decided not to call.

I sat down instead to blog it, because apparently something else I’m going to do for the rest of the year is continually figure out obvious things that make me look dim and then put them on the internet.  

Happy New Year.