Dear New Favourite Cardigan,
As soon as I was done sewing up your seams I could see what you were trying to tell me. Please forgive me for the 3 1/2 years that I neglected you. I was so wrong to stuff you in the knitting closet. I could see that it hurt you, but I was selfish and I thought I wanted all that imported wool. I find their accents so charming, I forgot what a nice Canadian wool I had at home. I'm sorry for teasing you by taking you out of the closet and working three rows on you every couple of months. I know I was leading you on and I'm sorry. I'm especially sorry for thinking that putting you the clear plastic zipper bag that the duvet came in was a nice way to keep dust off you. I realize now that I was only accentuating your loneliness by forcing you to view the world through your rippled, clear prison.
Now that you have your strong ribs around my shoulders I never want to be without you. While I may wear other sweaters some days, know that my heart is always with you.
(PS, even though I've sewn the buttons on lots of other stuff, with you it was really special)
I have chosen to ignore the cardigan's note. I understand its pain, but I have way too many unfinished projects to respond to threats like that. If I give in to the sweater, it will be mutiny...and I am very badly outnumbered. I did go buy it some buttons, and sweet talked it with promises of no-rinse woolwash. I think I've bought myself enough time to show you this.
It's about 10 million metres of snowy white laceweight yarn. It's a two ply, and it's got a lovely halo from some fuzzy fibre. Fibre content is somewhat unknown, but I've burned it, bleached it and felted it and it's absolutely 100% natural fibre. My best guess is wool/mohair. I knit a little swatch.
This is (appropriately) "Snowdrop Lace" (Feb 2nd from this handy dandy calendar) The picture doesn't even begin to do it justice. It's soft and delicate and I feel happy when I look at it. Guess where I got it. C'mon, just try, humour me. Give up? Value Village. (Insert maniacal laughter here) That's right, a thrift store. People are always telling me that they get this good wool in thrift stores and then I go there and all they have is 17 balls of beige acrylic and a ball of red and green Christmas wool with a silver thread in it. Yeah, well...Not this time baby. I scored big time. There's enough here for probably 2 shawls. Big ones. Maybe a cowl or a wimple too. I have never wanted a wimple, but I'm hopped up on cheap laceweight and the world's my oyster. Do I hear somebody asking "How cheap was it?" Sit down and take a deep breath. Ready? $1.99. HA! Think maybe you read that wrong? One dollar and ninety-nine cents. CANADIAN. What kind of crazy deal is that! Wish you were me? Sure you do. If we were in a bar I'd buy you all a beer. What's the laceweight celebration equivalent? Scarves for all my friends!
(PS, if you live in Toronto and you were thinking about e-mailing me to find out what Value Village? Forget it. I got it all)
I think I have a little problem. I found this note in my knitting basket.
Dear Tramping, Harlotting Trollop,
I've been there for you for almost four years, ever since the spring of 2000. I remember how it was in the beginning. You were charmed by me, you cast me on the moment we saw each other. We spent many evenings together you running my soft fibres through your hands, caressing my defined stitches...I thought we would be together forever.
Then it started, at first it was just the small things, a sock, a pair of mittens. It was easy to overlook your duplicity, the way you were knitting other things. I pretended not to notice that your mother had a new hat. Then it started to be embarrassing. Whole sweaters, several of them. A shawl - for crying out loud Steph, you didn't think I would notice a whole shawl? What did you think the other wool would say? I'm just supposed to let that 50% alpaca talk to me like that? I'm about 10 seconds away from tangling his skein.
How long has it been since you said my name? You just laugh, sitting there with your self-patterning sock yarn, calling me The Sweater That Will Not Be Named. Don't you think that hurts me? How do you think I feel when you put me in the basket and take out some cheap novelty yarn. "Allison needs a scarf" my arse. Can't you see what you are doing? You will never find another yarn like me, I'm a discontinued line, and you just turn your back on me?
Why don't you just pull the needles right out of me!
This doesn't make any sense, you keep talking about how cold you are... look at yourself, sitting there in a Wal-mart cardigan with holes in it. Can't you see how you are hurting both of us? Do you think that I didn't see you with that laceweight last night? The swatch is right on the table. You don't even try to hide your wicked ways any longer. This has got to stop. Just finish my collar and do the making up, we can be together baby, I can keep you warm. I love you despite it all.
(PS. Touch the laceweight again and the alpaca gets it)
This might not be the time to show you the laceweight that I scored eh? Don't worry about this sweater thing...I'll buy it some buttons or something.
Well, not quite. It is really snowy though. I'm giving up though, I'm not even going to try and leave today. I'll make a couple of calls to clients, write half a column, then I'm making soup, I'm baking bread and I'm working on the sweater that shall not be named while drinking coffee and watching a James Bond movie with Joe.
I'm also going to spend some time admiring this.
Be still my heart. It's what the "broken" blue ended up being yesterday. It's about 30 metres of the loveliest purple blue fingering weight wool. I love it. It's the nicest accident I ever dyed. Naturally, I have absolutely no idea how to do it again. My chronic low-self esteem also means that I always expect disaster, so I only dyed one little handful. What to do with 30 metres? For now, I've put it on the coffee table so that all may admire it.
Sam and Megan celebrated "Tuesdays are for spinning" with me yesterday.
Megan spun the version plied with white, and Sam's work is the pink. I don't like to rave about my kids, but I'm just going to point out that Meg is 12 and Sam is 9. That's right, 9. You can figure out for yourself how smart that makes them. Where's Amanda's spinning? Amanda is almost 15. She is far, far too hip for spinning. I'm sure that she finds it all humiliating, like the way I wear my hair and the way that Joe answers the phone. I try not to make direct eye contact with her these days. It's too bad that she isn't interested though, I'm starting to think that I could cash the kids spinning in on Ebay.
While I'm snowbound I'm going to try and add some stuff to the gallery. It looks like I never finish anything. How much snow does it take to keep me in? Here's the same shot from yesterday, with much more on top. As much as the snow makes getting around sort of epic, I love it. It makes me feel.....Canadian.
This morning as I lay in bed trying to motivate myself, I could hear two of my daughters, Megan (12) and Sam (9) talking in the next room. Megan has the top bunk, so without getting up, she can see out the window.
Sam: Hey Megan...Meg....look out the window. Did it snow more?
Meg: Yeah, it's still snowing
Sam: Is there a lot of snow?
Sam: Is there.....enough?
Sorry kids. No snow day, but there's another 10cm (4" or the size of a gauge swatch) to come today, so hope springs eternal.
Tuesday is my spinning day. I take a class that's on Tuesdays and I make a point of spending at least this day of the week in spinning pursuits. Today I'm compromising (I'm determined to finish the sweater that shall not be named). I dyed some Romney x Corridale wool last Tuesday with koolaid and I didn't love the results.
I carded it up anyway and I'm going to give half to my kids to spin and half to my nieces in Cape Breton. I didn't like the "candy" colours, but it's perfect for the kids. I especially wasn't happy with the blue, so I tried again using paste food dye, that one from Wilton. I carefully dissolved it in water, added some vinegar for acid, put in the wool and microwaved it for a while. I stirred gently every once in a while. Even though this is sort of a crappy picture, you can see what happened.
It's a dark turquoise blue in the tips, a light purple in the middle and baby blue at the cut end. It's nothing like what I wanted at all, but I really like it. I'm going to spin it up today and see what I get. I did some research and I think what happened is the dye "broke". If anybody knows how I did that, how I could do it again, or how to avoid it in the future...I'd love to know.
This here is my favourite cardigan, or I think it might be if I could ever finish it.
It's mistake stitch rib in Patons Ballybrae, a discontinued but fabulous light worsted weight yarn. The pattern is from the Spring 2000 issue of Interweave Knits, designed by Kathy Zimmerman, who's designs are generally lovely. I've been working on it for three years. Because it's for me it tends to fall to the bottom of the pile. It's been shuffled to the top because I'm freezing, and all it needs is 3/4 of a sleeve and a collar.
When I first saw this pattern I didn't know if I was going to be able to knit it. There was one thing about it that just sent a shudder through me. It made me want to run screaming, and before anybody saw me thinking about knitting it. It took me a long time to get over it, and even now I'm a little worried. What could possibly deter me from knitting a pattern I adore?
It was the name. Brace yourselves.
"The Very Thought Of Him"
I know. It still makes me a little nauseous and I've spend three years trying to accept that I'm going to own a sweater named something as completely...what? What do you call that? Girlie? Mushy? What? The blurb in the magazine says that it's designed to evoke the feeling of wearing a boyfriends sweater.
My worst nightmare is that I finally finish the thing, do the making up, sew on the buttons and put it on with the perfect shirt (yeah I've got it picked out....I like to plan ahead) and gleefully go into the street, with all the confidence that comes from wearing something that you think is perfect...only to have somebody walk up to me and say "Hey, isn't that "The Very Thought of Him"?
The very thought that I would buy yarn, a pattern, spend countless hours knitting, sew on buttons (I hate sewing on buttons) all to evoke the memory of a boyfriend I never had is a little more than I can bear. Nevertheless, it's a darned nice sweater so I've put all that aside and I'm going to wear it anyway. If the above mentioned nightmare ever actually occurs, I'm just going to look the person in the eye and say "No, it isn't"
I love knitting socks. I love the portability, I love that I don't need a pattern, I love that you can knit them in the dark, or on the subway. I love sharp metal DPN's. I love the seemingly endless supply of sock yarns. Self patterning, striping, heathered, varigated.... Oh yes.
I love socks enough that this is my current problem.
I'm not even showing you the ugly ones. (Why are there ugly ones? Why would I be knitting something that I willingly admit is ugly? Let's just say that I can get a little worked up about self-patterning yarns. Sometimes - I can lose my cool a little over a sassy little stripe and forget what really matters in the world. Like, brown, white, black and turquoise are not a "go")
Why you ask, do I have so many darned socks? (let's pretend you asked). Well my curious little friends, I watched three movies. Let's walk it through. The large red thing in the photo is Fiber Trends felted clogs. This is a great pattern and I'd like to apologize to anyone who's had to listen to me rave about being in "clog hell". It's just that I've knit a lot of them and I've kinda had it. Those can't go to the movies because you need to see what you are doing.
I have to knit at the movies, so I cast on Joe's socks.
These are toe up socks with a really cool celtic cable up the leg that didn't show up really well. They are my first toe-ups, I used this pattern, and added cables. (can we talk about doing the heel stitch in toe ups? You know, k1,sl1 across, purl wrong side etc. Is that possible? Would it make the heel less...well, pouch-like? Maybe mean that Joe could walk to the corner before they wore through? Not make my sock efforts a wasted, empty, meaningless time? )
These worked for the first movie. By the second movie I had made it to the cable, taking Joe's socks out of the lineup. so I cast on these.
These are socks for Megan. She bought the wool for me as a Christmas present. It was especially touching that she stuck a piece of paper on the label which read "socks for meg". The child is subtle. These went to the second movie, and took a few trips on the subway. It is worth noting that this is the new Patons Kroy Socks "stripes". It is also worth noting that despite having the same gauge on the label as the regular Kroy Socks it is actually thicker. It is worth noting this before you knit most of a sock and have to accept that the thing is huge. Last night I was at the turn for the heel (for the second time), and I need light to be able pick up the flap stitches. So I cast on these.
Fleece artist sock yarn. Oh yeah. I've been saving this.
Three movies, three pairs of socks. You know, I thought that I had a lot of works in progress, I thought maybe I had a problem. Now that I break it down it all starts seeming pretty reasonable.
What is unreasonable is that it took 3 hours and 20 minutes for me to do this post. I did learn how to do links and pictures and I did take the pictures. I think I'm having a pretty steep Movable Type learning curve. I drank 4 cups of coffee while I did it though, so the upside is that I've got LOTS of energy for the rest of my day.
Welcome to Yarn Harlot. I've been toying with blogging for a while, and My good friend Ken must have agreed, since he's gifted me with this setup. Pretty slick eh? It's gotta be a coincidence that he agreed right after I started e-mailing him pictures of wool. I think he thought blogging would give me a broader victim base. I feel pressured to come up with something good, and what with this being the first entry ever, I decided to go with a healthy dose of justification. Without further ado..I give you The Top Ten Reasons I Should Do A Knitting Blog.
10. I knit.
9. I write. Usually about knitting. This should help.
8. I have a computer, high speed access, and a friend who knows how to work it. I myself do not. (As an aside, if anyone has translated the Movable type manual from whatever the hell language it's in into English...I'd like to hear about it) My good friend Ken speaks fluent blog, has been plied with wooly items, knows how to knit and is making this site go. He's a genius.
7. I spin too. It's gripping. Really. Since I spin pretty badly, this blog should serve as an ego boost to other spinners out there. Visit often, feel better about yourself. It's just a little public service I offer.
6. I have the attention span of a gnat. While this is a drawback to life in general, I think it's a plus for blogging since it should mean that what I'm on about today will bear no resemblance to tomorrow. Makes it hard to get things done, but why would you care?
5. If I could find a network of other knitters who would be interested in what I'm doing, then I could conceivably stop harassing my non-knitting friends and family who currently have to pretend that they care about knitting, yarn and my lumpy, overspun spinning escapades.
4. I got me a digital camera, and what is probably an unhealthy degree of interest in taking pictures of my knitting.
3. I make mistakes, tons of them. If I can save just one knitter from the tragedy of knitting error...well, My loss should be someone's gain.
2. I am an equal opportunity yarn harlot. I'll knit anything, oh...except toilet paper covers, super bulky sweaters, barbie clothes, willie warmers, most things in yellow, neon variegated acrylic yarn, or crochet ripple stitch baby blankets in...well, any colour really.
1. I have a cat. While she doesn't knit, and so will not figure largely in the blog, a survey of other knitting blogs has revealed to me that it might be a prerequisite.