There’s one in every crowd

This year’s winter was long. Long and cold and snowy, and spring feels like it hasn’t bothered to arrive. Sure, the flowers are starting to bloom, there’s crocus up in my garden (though it’s snowed on the poor little things a few times) and my neighbours have scilla and in a few glorious and sheltered spots there is evan a daffodil or two, but they are blooming in chilly temperatures and grey weather, barely above freezing. Spring isn’t a warm and lovely thing this year, at least not yet. (I hear from Torontonians that the weather changed the minute I left. That feels a bit personal.)

As I was waiting for the bus last week, freezing my arse off because I’d done that spring thing where you put on a spring jacket because you can’t stand to wear a winter coat for one more day even though it’s only three degrees out… I snapped. It suddenly seemed to me that if it was still going to be cold and maybe snowing and definitely not spring or warm, that we (Joe and I, he was the willing victim of this last plan) should give up and dive in. If it is going to be winter still, then dammit, winter it shall be, so we got on a plane and headed to Banff.

It is definitely still winter here – complete with a snowstorm and perfect skiing conditions and Joe and I are working in the evenings and early mornings, but spending our days on the slopes, and maybe when we get back home, it will be *(%$^&&ing spring, but that’s not what I came to tell you. I thought you’d care more about the knitting I packed, so here’s a quick tour. I brought four (4) projects for a six (6) day trip. (Two of them are travel days though, so you know. Reasonable.)

  1. My May socks. They’re Saxe Point, knit in French River from Gauge Dye Works – the yarn’s dyed just for the pattern. I knit the first one on the way here, casting off as we left the house, and grafting the toe shut as we sat down to dinner here in Banff. I’ll knit the other on the way home, I think. (I documented that knitter trip on Instagram, if anybody wants to see the blow by blow.) We leave in the morning, and I’ll cast on then and see if I can repeat the trick.

2. We’re taking the bus to the hill everyday, and I needed some plain knitting for kicking around the ski hill, so here’s another one: Just a plain vanilla pair of socks the basic pattern I keep in my head, yarn is Gauge DyeWorks again (huh, just realized I grabbed two of those) in Azurite B.

I don’t think I’ll finish these on this trip, they’ll probably kick around my bag for a few more weeks, being the socks I knit when I’ve only got a minute, or it’s dark out.

3. When I was at the Knitter’s Frolic last week, I had the strangest experience. You know, I really like to knit and wear pretty plain clothes. I like classics, my taste runs in the direction of Amish, and I like tame colours like brown so much I need to occasionally check that I’m not dressing like I work for UPS. You could have knocked me over with a feather then, when I was at the Fair at the Feisty Fibres booth, and she had some yarn that she’d worked up in collaboration with The Yarn Therapist.

Neat, right? The self-striping yokes come from The Yarn Therapist, and then Feisty Fibres makes the co-ordinating solids, and voila. They’re a lot like the self-striping sweater yarn from Gauge Dyeworks, except separate, so I really am rocking a theme this week.) I picked up those skeins there, and then was absolutely stunned when someone next to me asked who I was making a sweater for, and I said “Me.” The colours are a bit bright for me (if by “a bit” you understand that that these are a bit bright the way that Pepe Le Pew is a little bit of a poster child for sexual harassment) and I’m not sure I can wear the resulting sweater, but I’m going to try. I really love it. Since the yarn is bold, the pattern is very plain. Knitting Pure and Simple’s Neckdown Cardigan for Women. Nothing to it.

I’m at the bottom of the body, just about to do the ribbing (or maybe garter stitch, I’m a wild animal, it could be anything) and I think I’ll likely finish this sweater pretty fast. It’s all coming together. (It remains to be seen if I can wear something this bright, but it turns out I can knit it, so that’s step one.)

4. This one’s a bit of sad story. I had every intention of knitting Sea Tangles (that’s Habu’s stainless steel/wool thread) but it’s not working out. I still love it, the pattern is great and I’m still going to knit it, but I have to admit (after knitting the whole front and part of the back – knitter optimism is a terrible thing) that I am definitely not knitting the right size, and I need to start over. I brought this one along just to rip it out, but there’s one project on every trip that I never touch, and this one is it. All the attention it has had is this photo, poor thing.

Maybe next week Habu. Maybe next week.

75 thoughts on “There’s one in every crowd

  1. I’m loving that cardigan! And I’m dying to see Sea Tangles but it’s linking me to the cardigan again… I hope you can get it ripped back and knit up correctly

  2. I’m not sure which I like more, those socks, or that sweater!! I’m a fan of bold colors, and I have a deep love of socks… sometimes we just gotta call a spade a spade and give in to the season in front of us (Spring in Seattle took it’s sweet a$$ time, but it finally showed up here, literally overnight – one day there were no bees and then BAM!! Bees!! *phew* – I was worried), so I hope the same for you when you return home – Bam! BEES!! (they’d go nicely with your lovely socks and your gorgeous sweater may attract a few, too).

  3. When you finish that colorful sweater, put it away until this time next year. Wear it then. It will be perfect to pull you out of the winter doldrums, especially if worn with those coordinating “plain Jane” socks!

  4. I know the first sock is an advanced kind of beautiful, but my heart loves the colours in the second sock SO much. Perhaps because the top reminds me of sunshine.

  5. I am swooning over those socks.

    And that sweater! I’m someone who does not go anywhere near mustardy shades, and yet, paired with those other colors like that, it’s absolutely stunning and I would wear it in a heartbeat and I’m glad you get to and I can’t wait to see it all done. Thank you for expanding my world! Enjoy the skiing!

  6. I got that same colour yoke from Yarn Therapist at Frolic, but I got a toddler-size with no coordinating solids. I’m going to make a top-down striped hat instead of a sweater.

  7. Um, the sweater is not wild or bold in my world. Those are muted colours. If the mustard yellow had been canary yellow, now you are beginning to talk bold and bright. I think it will make a very pretty understated sweater. It will be something you can truly wear until it warms up or this fall until next summer.

        • I disagree! Because I, like Stephanie, am all about the browns (and similar colours). To me this is bright and colourful – when considered as something that I might wear. If it was for Elliot it might not seem so zingy.
          But isn’t that the great thing about yarns? Everyone gets to see them with their own eyes, rank them in their own shifting parabola of brightness. Colour is subjective, not objective, and that’s part of what makes playing with it so fun.

  8. The body of the cardigan you’re making is golden. I know you have a bright orange coat/jacket; you wear that, so you can definitely wear the cardigan. You even have orange and black shoes, and in the past two years you’ve bought and worn some very nice colorful dresses. Perhaps you used to dress plainly, but I’ve noticed that you’ve been spicing it up lately, and I suspect that has lifted your mood. Go for it!

  9. The problem with this blog is that until I’m again in the world of the wage-earner, I’m on a serious wool-buying hiatus. But I don’t have those colours. You see the dilemma.

    Lovely knitting, hopefully spring will have sprung fully for you soon. We had our spring in March/April, then back to below freezing. Who says Berkshire, UK is boring?

    • Maybe it’s time for spring stash cleaning and a yarn swap with your knit group. No money spent but new( to you) yarn!

  10. I am getting into knitting sock. But I’m struggling to find the perfect bag to use. I’ve tried several but I just don’t like any of them because they are too big or bulky for carrying around. Any suggestions?

    • Anne I use varying sizes of makeup bags for my smaller knitting projects. An really small bags for my notion bags. They work out wonderfully for me.

    • And really, for socks which are such a compact project: I save any really sturdy/think small plastic bags that make their way into our house, usually from some sort of fancier shop or book store, anywhere they sell heavier things, and use THOSE as the sock project bags…

  11. I always worry that I pack too much knitting for trips, even short ones, but the reality is that I’ve never run out — and that’s key. Always better to have more knitting than you can get done than to risk running out. Plus, a knitter needs options! Looks like you did an excellent job selecting projects to take along.

  12. I think your sweater is perfect to nudge spring into your part of the world. Soon with everything blooming, it won’t seem very bright. Love the first socks. My next in queue is Longing for Gotland, which is similar.

  13. No. No way. The Feisty Therapist sweater colors are entirely too bright for you. Nope. You will look like a Christmas tree, only not so cute because the colors are far too bright. Not even close to Steph colors, NO. I will send you my shipping address for the sweater.

  14. I love all your colorful stripes, but I have the yarn for Sea Tangles. What size did you start and what size do you need? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Shhhhh. She’s been in love with the notion of Haibun stainless steel since Elizabeth Zimmerman was in fourth grade. It’s one of the great romances, really.

      • “…since Elizabeth Zimmerman was in fourth grade.”
        Rams, that is a truly great line, bright as Steph’s sweater and begging to be used!

        Love the sweater and socks!

        Hope spring has sprung in Toronto. It’s alternating with summer here in Seattle this week.

  15. I think you could totally rock that sweater. Especially, as someone else suggested, at this same time next year to help alleviate the winter blahs.

    I have to say that due to your influence, I have finally bought yarn and am going to challenge (f&#* I HATE that term, thanks internet!) myself this year to have a go at making my own socks.
    I have balled it into 2 matching balls & am going to give the 2 at a time method a go.
    Wish me luck 😉


    • If not challenge, perhaps dare yourself? Test, stimulate, brave, summon? Step-up leads to boost, intensify, improve, raise. A thesaurus entry for improve is better.

      Congratulations as you dare to better your knitting as you take up sock knitting!

    • try a class at your LYS. We don’t have one anymore, so we lobbied the former owner (who is in our knit group) to teach – and get paid – for a class at knit group. Made my first pair last month. You can do it!!!!!!

  16. I did think that purple would be a little out of your comfort zone in the yarn glamour shot, but the parts closest to your face are so exactly your palette – I don’t think you’ve anything to fear with it.

  17. Ah, Saxe Point socks. I have fond memories of Saxe Point park, and looking at the designer’s location, I think that park was the inspiration for the pattern’s name.

    Regarding your sweaters, good luck with your plans! Some people I know will overdye finished garments to make them closer to their taste, after letting bright colours seduce them. I’ve used walnut hull dye to turn down the wattage nicely on yellow yarn.

  18. A very striped-y week, I would say. And very colourful, despite claiming to be a misunderstood UPS driver. Spring is slowly springing in southern Ontario, come on back, it’ll be ok.

  19. The temperature in Michigan is doing the yo-yo thing where it’s warm one day and cold and rainy the next. I washed my winter coats yesterday so of course today it was cold and rainy. Oh well. I’m glad that you can enjoy the snow. I’m not sure what I’d do if it snowed here. Flooding in the basement was bad enough. Beautiful socks! I admire the risky sweater knitting.

  20. Some nice brown pants and perhaps a brown hat will mute the wild sweater colors perfectly, I’m sure. 😉

  21. Wow! What a jump into the wild for you! Looks really lovely. I hope you like it and now I am off to find out if there is a set for me! Thank you!

  22. The sweater is not really that bright, it’s got an earthy thing going on. It’s beautiful! I’m SO envious! You’ll look smashing!

    • Haha, exactly!!! They will look lovely…and a turtleneck or collared shirt in brown or mossy green (probably also in your closet??) will calm things near your face IF you need a way to ease into the experience…

  23. Embrace the color! (Especially if you’re having a long, cold, gloomy winter.)
    I love seeing people wear cheerful colors.

  24. You can TOTALLY wear colour–you did actually WEAR your lovely, joyful Kauni cardigan when you made it a few years ago, didn’t you?? Please tell us it was not only used as lovely fiber art draped around the house….
    Love that rich mustardy main colour–that will totally go with either brown pants or jeans or khaki shorts…all pre-existing wardrobe options, right?

  25. I am curious about Yarn Therapist. You posted something a year or so ago on a dyer who made self-striping shawls, which were amazing, bright colors against a neutral gray. Is this the same dyer? I am on a yarn diet right now, but I am seriously tempted.

  26. That cardigan is what we see when we look at you Steph. Your deceptive plain colored disguise fools no one. Your spirit is a yarn festival of color…own it, wear it. It is a truly stunning sweater. (Keep a handtag on it with the yarn colorways)
    It is beautiful and so are you.

    (You are not alone in your season shift misery..Interior Alaska, (the West Coast of Canada as some of us like to think of it) Early thaw in April, a week of high temps, 76℉, brilliant sunshine, snow all melted, trees ready to pop, knitting on the deck, switching to wood needles because metal was too hot…then TEN inches of !@#$g SN*W the next three days. Back to 50℉, no coat needed weather, as if it was a bad dream. Which then repeated the following weekend. Yup. This weekend the trees leafed out and it rained for three days to give them a good drink to start out. Fingers crossed the fleece can hang in the back of the closet til September.)

  27. I’m curious, how exactly does “knitting for kicking around the ski hill” work? How do you knit and ski? Do you ski without poles, or just knit on the lift? Have you figured out how to bike and knit too?

  28. Hi Stephanie
    Just wanted to let you know that my Norton Anti-Spam software labels your website as ‘Not Secure’ whenever I access. I still read your posts, but wondered if you might want to look into making it ‘secure’ — especially in these days of all of us being spammed / scammed / crammed /whatever.

  29. Those are totally your colors! They’re fallish and I think you can totally rock that cardigan! I hope it becomes a favorite!

  30. LOVE seeing you try colors, for yourself, that are newer than 1970 kitchen appliances (or Amish garb). This sweater yarn isn’t a huge jump into color given that good old Harvest Gold will be the main color and the color by your face. The other colors will be so pretty with jeans or denim skirt. A little brightness in the Canadien winter that is spring, like a daffodil with some tulips in the background.

  31. Only been to Banff in the Summer! I have just planned a crochet project for my holiday in Italy but am thinking I need more than one things to work on. You have me sold and i am taking my other sock to finish. Your cardigan looks a great colour combo.

  32. I’ve been wanting to knit the Sea Tangles for EVER. What size are you knitting and what size should you be knitting? I don’t want to start mine and have the same sad story….Dutchgirl63 on Rav

  33. I have been re-reading your books lately. In the “Yarn Harlot”, I was touched by the story of the doula. I have had the experience of sitting and knitting by the bedside of loved ones who were terminally ill. In one instance, I left and went home in the afternoon to get a shower and change clothes. When I got back, she asked,”did you bring something to work on?” I responded, “yes, I am spending the night”. I knew, somehow, that was the night.

  34. The way you are doing that sweater looks so beautiful. I love the combination of colors and yarns. That sock is fabulous, too. Sorry to hear it is still so cold, but the skiing sounded fun. We are spoiled with the weather here in California.

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