April 27, 2010

Pants on Fire

You know what I was thinking last night?  That if there's one thing  I can't stand, one thing that just puts me over the top, it's a liar. 

I can handle greed,  we've all got that in us somewhere, even if we can't admit it. I mean, look in your yarn closet and try and tell me that you don't think that impulse could get out of hand. I can understand sloth, and I get, and we have have all been guilty of being short tempered or having a weak moment where one has thought  unkind thoughts about someone, or briefly wished that they were set upon by an overlarge and rare pack of infuriated killer bees.  (I'm sure none of us have thought about buying the bees or releasing them into the person's home, I'm talking about those vague moments where if there just were bees, and they had to sting someone, that it would be okay if the universe just randomly picked the human who's pissing me off or sort of deserves it.  Just saying.)  I can have (some) compassion for fits of passion, for thoughtlessness, for anger, jealousy, impatience, truculence, stinginess, ruthlessness -  I don't even (usually) have a hard time with  noisy, obnoxious, fanatic or  erratic people. (In small doses.  Very small actually. Maybe only moments, but that's still something.)

It's really just lying that makes me nuts.  Nothing like someone standing in front of you, betraying all the trust that you put in them, or making up something that hurts you to serve them.  It takes me from 0 to 60 in two seconds.
Yup, liars.  The bottom of the barrel, the lowest of the low... and that's why I'm just about nuts this morning. 

I LIED TO MYSELF. 

I cast off Kiama last night even though I knew darn well it wasn't long enough.  Not nearly long enough.  The voice of honesty said "That's not long enough" and I said, "Shut your pie hole, we're getting a new sweater in the morning" and the voice of honesty said "We're not. That's too short." and I cast it off anyway.

Oh, sure.  I measured, but I did that thing with the measuring tape that makes something that's 13 inches look like 15.  I tugged and scootched it.  Then I LIED TO MYSELF AGAIN.   Even stretched it was only 14 inches, but did I cop to the fact that it was too damn short?  No sir.  I told myself (get this.  You're going to love it.)  I told myself it WOULD BE LONGER WHEN I WAS STANDING UP.

Then, when it was all cast off and I tried it on and it was too short, I actually had the audacity to pretend to be shocked, then ... and I can't believe that I even thought this.  After 37 years of knitting... instead of saying this is too damn short and you know it,  I said MAYBE IT WILL BLOCK OUT.

I know. Nothing ever blocks out that way. Things only block longer when they're already too long- not when you really need it too.

So I tossed it in the bathtub, blocked the crap out of it and not so much of a millimetre of length was gained, and now it's wet and I have to wait for it to dry to fix it, and I'm going to have to add at least one of the balls of yarn that are left over - because I have THREE, and that should have been a tip off, and...

I just really hate liars.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:53 AM

April 26, 2010

Kiama Questions

Today has the absolutely distinct feel of a Monday about it, and I'm not just saying that because I'm still recovering from the journey home on Saturday.  I was delayed in Calgary on the way home, thanks to a snowstorm and it's attendant need to de-ice the plane, and that meant I got home wickedly jet lagged at 2am,  and the only thing that kept me from being totally pissy about that was that I had Kiama with me, and I knit and knit and knit and not for one moment did I wish I had something else.

I'm almost done now, having knit the yoke/sleeves (twice) and picked up all around for the bottom part.  The construction of this is cunning and interesting, although hard to show you while it's pent up on the needle. You'd think that miles of this stitch pattern would wear on a knitter, or that I'd be sick of it now, or see the black hole of knitting stretching out in front of me... where I knit and knit but I'm never done... But Kiama has an increase row every so often, and that rescues it.  It isn't that a couple of increases is enough to be thrilling... it's that it's a marker for progress.  I can see those increases, I know another one's coming, and apparently that's enough visual evidence to prove progress to me.

Although it's fun to knit, I know it must be boring to watch, so a little Q&A?

Ariadne asks:

Which colorway are you using? Sunset Rendez-vouz?  Would it make me (5'1") look tallish too? :-)

The colourway is indeed "Sunset Rendez-vous" though I wish it was named something that sounded less like it was straight out of a romance novel.  I'm a middle aged mother of three who talks about knitting for a living.  I'm not likely to rendezvous at sunset with anything other than a ball winder or my dishwasher.   I don't know if it will make you taller.  I'm 5'1" tall too... and I'll know as soon as I'm done and put it on if it's a "tall sweater".  It's how I can tell that I really love a garment.  They may not actually make me look taller, but I feel taller.

Susan enquires:

It's interesting to hear that you love this yarn. I recently knitted a swatch of it (my LYS had a "swatch night", loads of fun!), and hated everything about it (except the colors, which were gorgeous). It felt harsh in my hands. It had no bounce. The knitted fabric felt floppy and limp. I felt that the only thing I could possibly make with it would be an extremely expensive mesh shopping bag. Glad to hear another point of view.

Does it feel better after washing?


Yeah, it does soften a little after washing, but I don't think of this yarn as "harsh" more like... crisp.  You're right about it though, it really doesn't have any characteristics of wool.. no bounce, no elasticity - and it doesn't resemble cotton (although it contains some) at all either.  I wouldn't call it floppy or limp,   I would say it has a great deal of drape- but the crispness of it keeps it from being clingy, or flaccid, which I think will suit me fine when the summer comes.  It is rather like a really upscale string, and I don't think the pattern would work very well without these qualities. Both cotton and wool stretch a lot if you knit them loosely enough to be breezy and drapey, and I like that this garment won't.

Skeindalous asked,

Could you mention how you tied on a new skein for this yarn? Wool with the basic spit/slice is so easy but I always have trouble with the novelty yarns or linen.

Me too.  My modus operandi for joining is usually to just knit with the old and new yarns overlapping for a few stitches,  and then to trim the ends off after a wash.  I tried that with this yarn, and really... it sucks.  Origami is a really slippery yarn (so slippery that you might have noticed that I'm using hand wound balls, not the ball winder) and the ends just kept slipping their way forward and showing as either ends or loose stitches.  It was craptastic.  I experimented a bit and have eventually settled on a modification of my second favourite.  If I ever worry that the double thickness will show or matter, then I just start knitting with a new strand, leaving the ends hanging on the inside.  Later I come back and weave them in.  This time though I found that the slipperiness of the yarn meant that I had to knot the ends on the back, and weave them in, splitting the plies as I went.  If I didn't, then the ends were just up front again. 

Jessica asked

After an entire post about the merits of a relatively tight gauge, I'm having a hard time seeing this knit fabric as the type you'd strive for. Is this some sort of paradox sweater?

Yup.  It really is.  I advocate a tight gauge for most yarns that have stretch because you want to control that as much as possible.  Too loose a gauge and you allow yarns to stretch all over, and that means they get baggy, wear out faster and have less stitch definition.  This yarn, however, has no stretch.  It is going to stay the way I knit it forever, so there's no fear of it loosing its shape- not like cotton or wool.  Plus, it's super strong, so there's little point in knitting it in a manner that gives it strength- I might as well use those qualities to my advantage, and make it loose, breezy and drapey.  It's one of the only yarns that will allow me to do that without consequence, which is likely why all the pattern support for it is summer wear.  Make sense?  Like everything else in knitting, it's really hard to make one rule about gauge.  All we can ever say is "generally speaking" or "usually" - because the content of the yarn has to be considered, and so does the intended effect.   I dare say that this pattern in this gauge would be a disaster in wool, bagged out over your arse and shoulders in moments, and pilling attractively in your armpits moments later.  Sexy.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:51 PM

April 24, 2010

We do not have a Bootie Problem

Posted by Stephanie at 1:43 PM

April 21, 2010

Discovered

1. I finished the yoke/sleeves of Kiama.

2. I love it, I sewed up the sleeves of it, and I would be very happy with it, except for one little thing.

3. Despite the fact that there has been very little change in the matter in question in more than 25 years...

4. I apparently don't know how long my arms are.




Posted by Stephanie at 2:48 PM

April 15, 2010

Unexpectedly

Earlier this week, I saw a sweater I liked over at WEBS.  (It's odd how the urge to loiter around on yarn sites never really goes away, you'd think I would have some immunity by now) I've been on the prowl for some summer knitted stuff.   I love knitting sweaters and hats and mittens, but they are of limited use in the really hot days of the summer, and I like the idea of being able to wear something knitterly all year round without suffering heatstroke.   So there I was, cruising around, looking at all sorts of stuff- and I saw this. Kiama.  I promptly developed all sorts of visions of myself wearing that, and in these visions I am very, very cool (both literally, and figuratively)  and also sort of tallish.

The only snag was the yarn, which was very pretty, but also unlikely.   It's a crazy yarn called Origami, and it's several strands of fibres-I-really-hate™strung together with a binder, which means that I also sort of hate the construction of it.  It's 58% acrylic, 16% linen, 15% nylon and 11% cotton.  This means, essentially, that if you add the nylon and acrylic together, that it is 74% fibres that I am deeply suspicious of, and only the remaining 26% are natural fibres, and they aren't even ones I enjoy knitting - usually.  I know that being suspicious of "plastic" yarns is going to make some of you think I'm a yarn snob, but I don't think I am.  I just like what I like, and if you told me that most of the wool you'd ever knitted bugged the hell out of you, I'd tell you what I tell myself about man-made fibres.  That there's a whole lot of sorts of them and you shouldn't give up on it or make a decision about all wool, because it's all really different.  That there's a big difference between Shetland and Merino, and that just because you don't like one doesn't mean that all wool sucks, just like if I think that Red Heart super saver yarn isn't okay,  that doesn't mean that all acrylic yarns are going to be the same way.

This is what I told myself as I looked at that pretty, pretty yarn and tried to imagine knitting with it.  I remembered last summer I knit Flow with Seduce, a yarn I should have hated too, and I remembered that Berroco usually has nice stuff,  and so I dropped Kathy Elkins a line and asked her.  She reminded me that I knit Flow with Seduce and I liked that, and that Berroco usually has nice stuff.  (Kathy knows me pretty well, I think.)  So.. I bit.  I gave her my card number over the phone, asked her what colour she thought was best, and whammo.  Three days later this bad boy was here at Port Ludlow and on my needles and dudes.  It as pretty as it looked online.

I cast on, and I haven't been able to stop knitting.  I LOVE THIS YARN.  I love it fierce and unreasonable. It is made of things I don't like, and yet  I love how it's a little stiff and crisp, I love how it looks in the skein and in the ball, and I love how it feels knit up.  I keep smoothing it out and admiring it, I keep spreading it out and touching it- patting and smooshing. 

It's a really cool thing- unusual and interesting, firm but soft, sort of like the most upscale string you've ever seen, and I think that it was a good lesson in remembering to embrace all yarns without getting all uppity about it. There's acrylic and then there's acrylic...and just because a fibre is on my list of suspects is no reason not to give it a fair chance.

Except that Super Saver.  I'm sure about that.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:04 PM

April 14, 2010

Widdle Shoosies

The first session of Sock Camp is over, and Tina and I have been resting up, quietly hunkered down in our little house here at Port Ludlow, and I finally did a little knitting.  The funniest thing I find about knitting events, and particularly about hosting them, is how much they are about knitting and how little knitting I actually get done.  There's organizing before class, teaching a class, organizing and executing the activities in the afternoon and evening, and by the time it's all over it's night again, and I'm falling asleep with my knitting in my hands, more yarn entirely unknit.

This rest day, Wednesday, is the only full day between the two sessions, and I couldn't bear not to knit, but didn't have the brain power to figure anything out, so I took a wee ball of leftover sock yarn, a set of dpns and my basic sock recipe, and waved my hands around for a while.  When I was done I had a little pair of bootees, and something about them begged me for a pom-pom. Obsession took hold

and four hours and three failed attempts later (you wouldn't believe how much yarn was sacrificed) I did manage to create four perfect little poms

and attached them most securely to the booties:

Now, I'm fond off booties. Really fond of booties.  There's nothing like a cute little bootie to knock the sense off of a grown knitter, and I could feel it happening to me as I was knitting,  but I was completely unprepared for how far off the scale the cute-o-meter would go when I combined those itty-bitty  pom-poms with booties.

I find these a ridiculous amount of cute.  A crazy amount of cute.  Cute so cute that a wish I could think of a word that meant ultra-mega-cute.

These booties struck both of us as so cute, that that mere moments after tying the little bows, both Tina and I were reduced to positioning them in the daisies and crawling round in the grass to take their pictures,  while exclaiming things like "Awww,  wee bitty booties!" and "Oh...  widdle shoosies!" and giggling like four year olds who were just given rainbow sparkle riding ponies for their birthdays.

In short, we did things that made me a little embarrassed about the effect that pom-poms plus booties clearly have on our respective intellects, and things that undoubtedly have the hotel staff gathered in the dining room looking out at us and wondering why we have mini socks in the grass- and why that would make us so happy. 

I've put them out of sight so that we can regain our demeanor and once again do moderately successful impersonations of business women.

We're a little better now.    The power of the pom-pom.  Watch out for that.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:36 PM

April 9, 2010

Catchup

Sock camp has started here, and in a few minutes I leave to go down and teach my class on socks - but I'm really wishing I could take Janel and Cat's classes too... As a species I wish we could really get on realizing some of the devices from Harry Potter.  I've got uses for them- and today it's the time-turner that would come in handy.  Since I'm running flat out, here's a quickie.  Leg warmers for my sisters birthday, finished a few weeks ago but I forgot to blog them.

This happens when something's finished before it's given as a gift.  These knit up in a snap, then I couldn't blog them because Erin would see them, so I tucked them away and then... well. Forgot. 

Sydney legwarmers- Louet Riverstone. (Loved this yarn.)

She loves them- and yes. This means two things. 
1. I made something my sister thinks is cool.
2. Legwarmers must be back. 

Posted by Stephanie at 12:25 PM

April 7, 2010

Green

I realized, as I started taking pictures of the socks I finished yesterday and the ones I immediately cast on to follow them, that I might be a little into green at the moment. When I chose this stuff out of the cupboard yesterday it made perfect sense. Toronto, while warmer than usual for this time of year, is still not green.  Not really- and it made perfect sense to go looking for a little (or a lot) of the colour.  Denny has a rule that one never knits grey or brown or any other colour that resembles the outside in the last months of winter.  The lack of zip anywhere is enough to send a knitter screaming into the (grey/brown) woods. It's too hard on your psyche, and if you follow your instincts you'll cast on green and yellow and pink and red and any other colour that the winter doesn't have.  Apparently, I went for green- and the Beaded Bells socks were finished yesterday as we drove up here.

Now that I've arrived in Port Ludlow on the West coast of Washington, it makes less sense.  There are leaves on the trees here, and green grass, and flowers and no end of fresh, verdant, brilliant greens. 


Suddenly, my wee socks seem redundant, competing with real, actual, live green for my attention.  I'm captivated up here, turning around every ten minutes and yelling LEAVES! GRASS! MOSS!

Yesterday as we arrived at Port Ludlow there was a stand of daffodils and I was just about stunned.  YELLOW AND GREEN AT ONCE!  A LOT!

At home I have one wee bunch of crocus, but this place is burst out with spring, and proper leafed out trees, and dandelions and it does a knitters heart good I tell you, darned good.  Good enough that I'm starting to think that this sock...

Cauchy from Sock Innovation, knit in Shibui sock in 7498 (lot 2954)

Maybe should wait, and while I knit surrounded by the colours of spring, that perhaps my yarn should be summer. 

Posted by Stephanie at 12:03 PM

April 6, 2010

Return of the Dead

I like to pretend that all my "works in progress" are actually works in progress, but truth be told the survival rate for a knitting project that falls of my radar is pretty horrific. A project that goes out of rotation and lands in one of my baskets might make it, since there's a chance I'll see it enough times to care about its fate... but a project that lands in the back cupboard has likely been given a terminal diagnosis.  It might be ugly, it might be gauge...  it might have a yarn problem I can't solve, a pattern error that I don't feel like messing with, but for whatever reason, if a UFO (UnFinished Object)  goes into there, it's like a doorway to the seventh dimension.  Kiss it goodbye baby. That cupboard is a one way trip to goodbye land.    I'm happy to announce that against all odds, a  project has struggled its way back from the abyss.  

It's the Beaded Bells Kit.  I was knitting this a while ago, really loving it, making good time.... and then totally misplaced the pattern and absolutely couldn't find it no matter what I did.  I'd always meant to reverse engineer/fake them to finish, but somehow it ended up in the cupboard with very little hope of ever being seen (or at least admitted to) again.

Then, when I was pulling together my self-directed sock club, I found the pattern (totally by accident) and then found the socks (totally on purpose) and tossed them into the sock club,  making them April's socks because I knew April was going to be hairy, and these were half knit already. So there you have it.  Me and a pair of socks that almost didn't make it to sockdom are grooving in the Vancouver airport and I bet they'll be finished socks by sundown. 

In the face of all the projects in all of our cupboards that don't make it, I thought you'd want to hear about a brave little pair of socks that beat the odds.

(Admittedly, all they've survived is my incompetence and powerful ability to misplace things...  but there you go.)

Posted by Stephanie at 3:06 PM

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Posted by Stephanie at 9:53 AM

April 1, 2010

Delete

The sun is shining, little green things are finally breaking out of the ground, I've started April's pair of socks, and I efficiently got a ton done for work.  A. Ton.
I loved Clara's piece today, and my coffee was perfect.

Then I wrote a fantastic post for all of you- processed all the images - got the whole thing going on, and the phone rang.  I dealt with the crisis on the other end with dignity, maturity and grand good sense, and took notes on my computer while I did so.  Then I returned to the blog software and realized that somehow, while I was taking notes, I had (very efficiently, I might add) deleted the entire entry without saving. 

I could re-write, but it would never be what it was, and frankly, it's way to pretty a day to let this get me down for even a moment. I could rant, but instead, let's play a game.

If you'd like to play, leave a comment with your idea for what I might (in the world of your imagination) have written about today.  Best suggestion/guess/invention/story (as determined by me in a completely biased fashion) gets a present in the mail. 

What do you wish today's blog post had been?

Posted by Stephanie at 3:40 PM