February 25, 2011

Underway

This post comes to you from the romantic and high class environs of a totally random sports bar in SeaTac airport, where after having been foiled by weather yesterday, I'm finally heading home. 

For the record that's one finished sock and just a few rows of the next one.  Three days left in February, but it's a long way home. I've got a flight from here to Vancouver in a few hours, then an overnight home to Toronto.  This flight is necessary because of the terrible storm that threatened Port Ludlow and kept Tina and I from being able to safely drive to Seattle to catch my flight yesterday. The weather was so bad, so incredibly, stunningly, shockingly bad, that it was all people could talk about.  Let me tell you what happened.  First IT SNOWED A LITTLE. Then  IT FROZE FOR A WHILE. 

If you are from Canada and you wake up in the morning and see that there is some ice, and about an inch of snow- You get ready to go to the airport.  So when  your very sensible friend tells you, in all seriousness and with no drama that this means it is unsafe to go to the airport, then there is something you have to do very quickly, and that is shift your worldview. 
Warning. If you are Canadian you might want to take some deep breaths.  It is hard to believe the following statements are true, but I assure you they are.  Work with me, for these are things that Canadians have to work hard at understanding, and just be glad that you didn't have to make this shift at 6:15am on a Thursday morning, without a drop of caffeine in you.  (By the way, one of the reasons that I believed Tina was that although she lives in the Pacific Northwest, she lives up high and sometimes it snows at her house, so while she doesn't have Canadian standards- she's not completely SHOCKED by winter weather and doesn't get too loopy or high drama about it.)

1.Statement one. Snow is almost impossible to drive in.

For the record, I didn't learn this one from Tina, because she drives in snow sometimes. I learned it from the people driving away from the Inn while there was about a centimetre of snow in some spots, who had put CHAINS ON THEIR CAR.  (That shocked Tina too.) If there had actually been snow, then that would have been really, really bad.  I admit that when people suggest that because it is snowing they can not go places, I try to imagine how long we would have to go between grocery store visits in Toronto- and the climate there is mild compared to most of Canada.  Truth be told, snow is rare enough in these parts that really, there are no plows, no sanders, no salters (or at least not nearly enough) and nobody owns a car scraper or a shovel.  It doesn't take much snow to overwhelm the inexperienced and under-equipped.  It does mess you up pretty bad though, if you think this is a fairly snowy road that you should be careful on:

but you are hearing that this:

May be risky.  (Truth is, it was.  Go figure.)

2. It snowed, then sort of melted, then it got cold. This resulted in ICE. 

Second statement:  Ice is a very bad thing to have.  To understand this, I had to shift my worldview to a place where ice precludes driving.   I understand that all those previous statements about sand, salt, ice and experience, and I even understand what Tina meant when she said that she's not worried about her skills, but everyone else's and that even if she could do it, we could still get creamed by somebody struggling with a lack of ice experience. Still, as I stood there, looking at the ice, I had to work very hard to accept the idea that ice means no driving. At home, this would mean no driving for months on end... Tina reminded me that there are hills.  Slopes.  Dark and winding roads perilously covered in Ice.  I tried to go there, I respected her expertise and experience and greater knowledge of that part of the world, but the whole time I was just thinking about St. Johns, Newfoundland.

3. If the water freezes, that is shocking.

See that.  The top of that water was frozen.  As a matter of fact, it was frozen ALL DAY.  It was so cold in Port Ludlow, that the weather guys were warning people to take appropriate precautions and check on elderly neighbours.
It was 28F.  That's -2 C. 

I'm still working on shifting that one.






Posted by Stephanie at 8:35 PM

February 23, 2011

Five Facts

1. Today is the 23rd of February.
2. February has only 28 days.
3. I sort of got distracted by the Kusha Kusha thing, and haven't been knitting on my February socks.
4. All I have done is 3/4 of one size 12 sock, and the recipient has two feet.

5.  That is a bit of a problem.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:56 PM

February 22, 2011

Reaction

As expected, unusual yarns and patterns bring up big reactions in knitters. I like those reactions, since I don't expect everyone to share my taste.  Truth be told, I see about six people a day wearing what must be perfectly acceptable clothing, since nobody is pointing and laughing, but can't imagine myself in it at all.  I extend that same privilege to everyone - as long as we dwell in the land of good manners.   That means I'm down with "I personally find that ugly/unattractive/odd as fish" or "I don't think ratty clothes are nice" but will struggle somewhat with "You're so stupid to buy that" or "Quick question? Are you stunned as a bat?"

A little Q&A perhaps?

With regard to the stainless steel/wool yarn, MNara asked "Ok I'm intrigued.... How does this actually feel to wear?"

Well, I haven't actually worn it yet, but I can speak to how the fabric feels in my hands, and how the finished felted fabric was on the jacket.  It was soft. The fibre content of the yarn is 75% wool and 25% stainless,  and the stainless steel is blended in with the wool in the yarn, and it's super fine, so it doesn't feel like steel at all.  More like crazy firm wool that holds it's shape.  Once it's felted, it's even softer, as the wool comes up and forms a soft wool envelope over the other strand.  In the KushaKusha scarf, the stainless/wool yarn is knit for a while by itself, and while I wouldn't call it cozy, it's certainly not scratchy.  Just ... interesting.

Melissamy says "Is that really all you bought?" 

Yup.  Everybody's got a budget. I have to live within mine too.  If I bought all that I wanted to at all the knitting events I go to, I wouldn't be long before I was explaining to Joe that I'd fenced his amplifier collection for merino. This, I feel sure, would be poorly understood.

Karen says: I don't get the stainless steel yarn thing. If you bend it around too much does it break, like trying to reuse a twisty-tie?

Nope.  I'm guessing it's because the stainless content is made up of little pieces carded together with the wool before spinning, and the wool is giving it strength, but I'm not sure.  I can tell you it doesn't break though, no matter how much you bend it. 

Finally, Cat Bordhi said: I think you might all like to know that while Stephanie and I were sitting in the back of Carson Demers' wonderful knitting ergonomics class on the final afternoon, she showed me how if you press two fingers into the KushaKusha fabric, it makes a shape just like Barbie doll boobs.

Cat is not lying. I did do that, and I don't regret it.  I was trying to show her that the stainless content meant that the fabric held it's shape, which is really the reason for the stainless content and what makes it cool.


You push, mould or shape it, and it stays where you put it.

Making Barbie boobs was just a bonus.

(PS.  Me and my aging (rather than Barbie style) breasts think this fabric characteristic may bode well for the jacket.  Just saying.)

Posted by Stephanie at 5:47 PM

February 21, 2011

Scathed

Madrona is finished, and oh, what a lovely time I had.  I admit that it's pretty hard to go wrong with the set up.  Awesome teachers, awesome vendors, awesome students - and now that I've been coming for years, so many of them are friends and acquaintances that I feel like it's a homecoming when I arrive.  I look forward to all the moments I'll have, and not just with my old friends -   getting to know new students and colleagues better, although I do approach this with caution.

(I had a bad case of camnesia, so I don't really have any pictures, other than this one, which is Mt. Rainier out my hotel room window. I know it's sort of unrelated, but there you go.)

For example, it seems that every time I touch Shelter yarn it costs me $100.  I can't live that way, ergo, I must not touch Shelter yarn.  (To be fair, talking about it too much, or spending too much time near it has a similar effect.) Now here I am at Madrona, and one of the teachers is Jared Flood, and I think he's nice- but really our relationship consists of shaking hands and being polite to each other, which is all well and good, but I'd like to get to know him better - which I could totally do at Madrona, but I have a feeling that actually hanging out with him would cost me a lot more than the $100 just being near his yarn does. Similarly, I think that I'd love to hang out a lot more with Syne Mitchell, but I don't have room in my house for a floor loom- and I feel sure that any real time spent with her would end like that.  

In this spirit, I don't spend a lot of time in the Marketplace.  Madrona is an intimate and lovely setting for vendors I think, and I feel like you can really get to know them as people - and that cannot, if one's resolve is somewhat tenuous at best... be a good thing.  I don't know about you, but if I know and like the people who have the yarn, then I am even more likely to give them money. 

With all this in mind, I had a great plan. I was going to cruise the market once or twice (with support) and then go into the Habu booth, and buy one thing I've really been wanting.  I've had my eye on that crazy Kusha Kusha scarf for about a year.  It's one strand of merino, and one strand of wool/stainless steel, and you combine them for about 2/3 of the scarf, then knit just with the stainless, then felt the thing.  It's gorgeous.  I've been a little psyched by it for a while.  I love how you can shape it, but it's still fluid, and I feel like it's such a beautiful study in contrasts... the soft and woolly merino felted against the crisp looking stainless... I had it bad for this scarf. One evening I surfed through the Ravelry projects for it, and I saw this one, and this one, and then (be still my heart) this one, and I knew I was done.  I had to have it... and I've been waiting for Madrona since then.  I've been all about the Kusha Kusha scarf for a while - and it was going to be what  I bought at Madrona.  That was my plan.  Kusha Kusha, nothing else. I talked about Kusha Kusha. I dreamed of it.  I was firm.

On Thursday I announced my intentions to Tina, and together we went into the marketplace and journeyed to the Habu booth.  I looked at all the great yarns, but I was unshakable in my resolve.  I was having a Kusha Kusha scarf.  Only that scarf would do, and it was all I was buying.  The Kusha Kusha scarf was enough, because it was perfect.   I admired the stainless... I admired the merino.  I chose colours that would go together and I loved it and I was satisfied and there was nothing more that I could want.

Then I turned around. 

On the wall behind me was a sample sweater.  More like a jacket. A jacket/sweater thing.  Point is... it was beautiful.  It hung there, all sort of vaguely felty and asymmetrical and it was stunning in that Matrix-post-apocalyptic -my clothes are beautiful rags sort of way.  The instant I saw it, my heart turned over- and I pointed up at it, as the world spun around me a little, and I turned to Jeane (Jean? I was struck blind by the yarn and couldn't read her nametag right)  and said "What sweater is that?"  I think my voice shook.  Jeane leant over, and said "Which one? That one?"  I nodded dumbly.
"That's the Kusha Kusha Jacket" she said.

I handed her my credit card.  Really.  That's a sign.   It won't arrive for a few weeks though, and that gives me time to make the scarf.  Or two.  Or five...


Posted by Stephanie at 5:49 PM

February 16, 2011

Now it's going too far

 This Random thing is starting to leak into all sorts of days.

1. I'm in the Vancouver airport, having a glass of wine and looking to touch base with my grown-up self, since this morning when I woke up and realized that my whopper of a head cold hadn't been cured while I slept, and I really was going to fly to Madrona sick as a dog, I may have begun an internal juvenile tantrum that I'm only just now trying to get over.

2. Man, do I feel crappy, and that makes me a little bitter, because even though I'll be working at Madrona, I really think of it more like play because it's such a fantastic event- and I am really rather bitter about being deprived of that good time by a crappy little virus.

3. Colds piss me off anyway.  Really, I think it's almost disrespectful that they can make you feel this awful while still being completely benign. Something that can't kill you shouldn't be able to make you feel like you might die.

4. I was knitting a sock on the plane. 

It's February's self-imposed-sock-club socks, because last night I flipped out, saw the date and realized that I might want to get on those.

5. I know these are crappy pictures, but I can't seem to do better. It's an airport. I have a  cold.  Cut me a break.

(I just realized that it looks like I'm doing wicked product placement for Tom Bihn's yarn stuff sacks, which was not at all on purpose, though I do love and use them.)


6.  It's the "It's Tea Time" socks from Around the World in Knitted Socks , knitted in Cherry Tree Hill supersock solids in Bark.

7. That's a good book. Good yarn too.

8. A lot of people asked me on Monday how I could put in an afterthought heel after the tube part had been knit- didn't I need to put some stitches onto a holder or knit in waste yarn or do something like that?

9. Nope.  At the risk of sounding silly, the point of an afterthought heel is that it can be done entirely afterwards, with no planning at all.  I did a post here that explains it.

10. I'm going to take another six pounds of cold medicine and try to make it to Tacoma. Everything will be better once I get there. I feel sure of it.


Posted by Stephanie at 4:58 PM

February 14, 2011

A Valentine

This last weekend passed in a blur, with lots of car rides and movies and family gatherings and I had tons of time where I was keeping people company, and - Well.  I made myself a little Valentine.  I started on Thursday with a beautiful roving from The Yarn Yard.



I split it in half, then each half into singles, then into two skeins of a two ply.  I knew I wanted socks, but I wasn't sure how much yarn I had, so I started at the toes, and supplemented with some black that I had kicking around.


I knit two tubes, starting with black toes and ending with black ribbing. I was at the movies when I came to the place where heels should be, I just kept going. 
Today,  I put in afterthought heels.


They almost match.


I love them.


Happy Valentine's Day to me.  Handspun, handknit socks.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:22 PM

February 10, 2011

Just get me the coffee

Randomly, because that's what I have time for.

1. I'm drinking a fantastic cup of coffee. 

2. When I'm done drinking this I will go back to editing the edits.

3. I'm almost done.

4. Don't hate my editor. She's very good, I like her, and every publisher has a house style. It is The Way Things Are Done, and an individual editor has no more power to change that then you have to change most things at your work.  All of my books have been published by an American publisher, and all of them have had US English spelling, and it's been fine. There is no need to revolt now.  American publishers have a right to spell things the American way.  It's an American company.

5. I just like to keep reminding people that I'm not a bad speller. I don't mind that my spellings are changed (sort of- I understand it-but don't like it) the only thing that ever puts me over the top is ignorance that there might be another system at all.  (Believe it or not, I've had emails correcting my spelling.) Americans have a right to Americanise English for their own purposes, and nobody will be even slightly irritated unless there's no acknowledgement that the rest of the English speaking world has a right not to Americanise theirs without anyone thinking anyone else can't spell their way out of a paper bag.  

6. If an American author was published by a Canadian/British/Irish/South African/Austrailan/Indian publisher, their house style would apply and their manuscripts would be changed too. We'd be rearranging letters and sticking U's in all over the place, and I bet that author would be worried about appearing un-American and they would still change it.  The author, like me, would live.

7. In the Globe and Mail (big Canadian national newspaper) if President Obama is quoted about working on the border and he used the word defence (instead of the Americanised "defense") that's how it would be spelled.  Even though he's American, and he would have written it defense, that's not how we write it here, and it is being published here. 

8. Just like my books are being published in the US.

9. Yes. I'm a proud Canadian.  I still don't control the spelling in another country, and unbelievably, don't think I should.

10.  I do agree that the Harry Potter books were better before the translation.

11.  I knit a hat to replace my current one, because while it's a very nice hat,  it  makes me look like a penis.

12.  A lot of hats make me look like that.  If you don't believe me, you can ask my friends or my mother. 

13. Right now someone is upset that I typed penis, as though it was a filthy word that could lead people straight into poor behaviour rather than a name of a body part.  There's something about typing that word that just upsets people more than typing elbow.

14.  I could type all sorts of body part names all day and I wouldn't get any emails.  I could say elbow, aorta, ankle, scapula, nose, lung- it would all be fine.  Type penis once or twice and whammo. You've got someone in your inbox telling you that you're pretty depraved and aught to rein it in.

15.  Vagina and breast can get people pretty wound up too. 

16.  Damn.  Just typed those too. That's going to be at least three emails.

17.  Four.  There will be one about saying damn too.  (Now five.)

18.  Anyway, to try and not look like a penis (six) I have been trying on lots of hats.  (This is Canada.  Hats are not optional, and it's important to have one you like.)  I tried on Andrea's a little while ago and it had absolutely no qualities that were reminiscent of any male organ what so ever.  (Better?) 

19. It was Wurm.  I knit it out of Cascade Eco+.  The colour is 2452. 

See?  Pretty un-penisey. (Seven - though now one of the emails will tell me I do too look like a penis.) 

20.  I don't think I do.   I like the hat. 

Posted by Stephanie at 3:59 PM

February 9, 2011

Thoughts From Inside a Manuscript

I am spending today the way I've spent the last few days, which is editing the edits my editor made to the manuscript I sent in just before Christmas.  This is phase two, from an editors perspective, but for me it's phase three, because I insert the additional step "lie awake at night worrying about what the editor is doing to that manuscript and whether or not they are sane and what that might mean to my life and career until I've felt ill for days" in between sending the manuscript and getting it back. 

While I'm not done yet, so far this edit is easy.  The editor and I largely agree about what's funny, good, well written or not, and I think that in the end, all we're really going to go back and forth about is my addiction to ellipses.  (I didn't think there were that many, but you'd be surprised how they stand out when they're highlighted throughout a manuscript.) 

Usually the actual printed out manuscript comes mailed back to me, with things crossed out in red pen, and little notes jotted in the margins. This time the editor suggested sending an electronic file, and doing it all by using the "track changes" function in Word/Pages, and so I'm viewing all the notes and changes on my screen, and I admit I miss several things badly.  While I don't miss the guilt about the paper use, I realize now, as I look at her notes, typed neatly into virtual post-its, that I miss the seeing the editors  handwriting.  I think you can tell a lot about someone from their script and how they wield the pen, and it seemed so much more personal to write back and forth that way- shipping an ever more altered manuscript between the two of us.

All I have to do now, is look at her changes, and click a little box that says "accept" or "reject", and I find it rather unfulfilling, and limiting.  I can't click "consider" or "maybe" or "were you once harmed by a conjunction so that now you're unfair to them", I have only Accept or Reject, and for anything else I must flag the section or the word and type a note.  Now, as you might have suspected if you've been reading here for more than ten minutes, there are a few things I like push back with editors about, mostly things like ellipses colour/color, grey/gray, honour/honor, woollen/woolen... It's not that I think those words should be spelled my way by an American publisher - I don't, but I do think there's value in friendly little reminders that my spelling is not Wrong, it's Different - and jotting wee notes about how she can't spell (I or can't - depending on your perspective) seemed friendly when done in pencil, but in the harsh light of a word processing program, my notes seem so petty, that I find that I'm simply approving her changes and deleting comments that I normally would have written without a thought.

In the full turn of things, it doesn't matter.  I fully expect and accept that I'll be overridden-  I expect to lose these debates, it's an American publisher so I understand what their sense of spelling and grammar will be, and that they choose is appropriate.  I know she'll scrawl a note correcting my mistake, I'll scrawl back that it's not a mistake, and then we'll do it the US way,  but there was something about at least standing up for English vs American English and grammar that felt right to this Canadian. Now, here I am, letting them go without so much as a whimper because  clicking on "add comment" just seems so... formal, like it's being added to my permanent record.  (Just so we're clear, this isn't a universal position change. If I have to, I'm going to the wall on mum/mom. It's not like it's a word that creates confusion. Everyone knows what a mum is, and she's my mother, I decide what she's called.)

It is a very interesting difference to me, that I feel so strongly about the  tiny change from handwriting to typing.  I feel like the editors changes are more serious, that she wouldn't have typed it if she wasn't really committed, and it is making me far more reluctant to change what she's changed back to what I wanted.  Where I'm usually pretty free with the STET,  or at least the "please consider stetting it would really be nice" this one small alteration, that it's an electronic, real change rather than a friendly arc of my pencil, makes me feel almost rude and demanding.  I feel like with a pencil I can make myself clearer.  I can write in script, in block letters.. I can press firmly (and in so doing, convey some firmness... ) or draw arrows or smiles or alligators.  (I have only once drawn an alligator  on a manuscript, but I assure you it was the only way to convey my true meaning.)  Typing, it's one way, and it's an actual alteration to the manuscript and it seems so - real.  It doesn't seem like we're negotiating and considering, but like we're making actual firm changes.  I type, and her perspective is erased... which you would think I would like, but there you have it.

I'm going to stick with it, mostly because I know I'm change resistant and maybe the feeling will fade, and because it's fewer trees, and because I have always felt ill while the manuscript was in the mail, in case it ever got lost.  I'm going to be really openminded about it, but I wonder if in the end, it doesn't remind me of the impersonal nature of store bought socks or typed thank you notes.  You know?

Maybe I need more fonts, or coffee, and I know this has nothing at all to do with knitting (except that it's a book about knitting) but it's what I was thinking today. Being a writer is a weird job.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:49 PM

February 7, 2011

Culling the Herd

 
I don't think that anyone at all is going to fall over dead of shock when I say that I have a smidge of an obsessive personality. This is usually (but not always, Joe would be happy to describe the great frozen box pizza episode of 2010) limited to my knitting - which is where I direct it, by and large to avoid hearing Joe say things like "Honey, you're getting a little weird about the Pizza."

It should come as no surprise then, that I would have a bit of an obsession with knitting needles - and I do. I've been knitting for a long time, and I love them. I buy them, I get given them, they are inherited or rescued... and over the years, the knitting needle collection got a little large. The circulars (I have two interchangeable sets and still possess dozens and dozens of regular ones) are well managed. I went through them a few years ago and bought a circular needle holder (this one, though it has the sizes in both US and metric, it does only have the American sizes, which is a bit of a pain in the arse.) which has kept the circulars reined in to a system which almost works, and would work perfectly were I the sort of knitter who put her needles carefully back where they came from; which rather disappointingly, clearly and persistently, I am not.

The system for the straight needles was less successful. I had two drawers in the living room, and over the years they became where I put the straights. All of them - except for my set of Signatures, which were also in there, but at least were in a needle roll. The rest jumbled together, a full drawer of needles, tumbled together with stitch markers, notions and oddly, empty needle rolls, and every time I needed a needle, it was a bit of a mess. (Actually, the problem wasn't usually finding a needle, it was finding a set.) The DPNs, on the other hand, were nothing short of a nightmare. I had managed to convince myself that they were well managed because they were in a bin together, but it was quite possibly the worst solution anyone ever had. It was tidy, sure- but impractical. I had to dump out a bunch of needles and look for not just two, but four matching needles every time I needed a set. I hated it. I felt unprofessional and like it was a huge mess and it bugged me so much that sometimes I thought about it at night while I was going to sleep.

I did not, however, organize my needles. A few weeks ago my buddy Denny told me about a program that was looking for donations of needles (a small program, or I'd tell you, they don't need an inundation) and asked me if I had any. That lit a fire under me, and I decided to pay my charming and lovely assistant Natalie to bring some sort of professionalism to the needle situation.
I don't think she was stunned by what I showed her, but she was a little lippy about it.

The straights didn't upset her much. She got those sorted in about a half hour. Out of the drawers, matched into sets, into the needle rolls, back in the drawers. (We had a brief conversation about how many pairs I need of each size. Hint: it is more than you think.)

The she started with the DPNs, and she might have lost it a little. She was compelled to make announcements. She couldn't help herself. She'd sit there nicely for a while, then a nugget of information would drop. Like "You have several pairs of three lengths of 4mm needles. Did you know that?" or "You have so many of size X that they won't fit in your needle rolls, did you know that?" or "Your smallest DPNs are 1.25mm and the largest is a 7mm." or "Did you know you have SIX SETS OF 1.5MM NEEDLES DO YOU EVEN USE THEM HOLY COW STEPH."

I may have called her Judgey McJudgesAlot. This is a lifetime of needles. I've been knitting since I was four, and you can just get off me with the attitude. Sure, there's a lot of DPNs, but ... I've, made a lot of stuff and I ... well. I like needles. I like them a lot, and I see no reason to apologize for it at all. It's not like it hurts anyone, it's not like my children are picking me up from rehab because of another weekend where I made Charlie Sheen look like he has no experience in the field of excess...

And besides, there is a huge difference between Aero 3mm and Inox 3mm and Susan Bates 3mm and don't even get me started on the wooden ones. (I don't think she actually did the wooden ones.) It's just a lot of needles.

It took her forever. Just the DPNs took at least three hours, and for those hours, Natalie sat there, putting the hundreds and hundreds of needles through a needle gauge, making sets, and looking at me funny as she set aside the 26th set of 3mm needles and wondered how this could have happened to a sane person. (I could tell that she might have been deciding it couldn't happen to a sane person, and making another judgment accordingly.)

I call this picture "I went to four years of University for this?"

... And yes Natalie, yes you did. Also, I'm coming to see your needle collection when you're in your 40's. Better keep it together.

PS. I know I am not the only one with this many needles. I know it.

PPS. I don't have that many needles anymore either. Denny is getting a lot.

PPPS. Natalie says I can't buy any more DPNs for the rest of my life (except for 3.75mm) but I say Natalie's not the boss of me.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:16 PM

February 4, 2011

Mawata Wonders

A little Q&A about the Mawata mittens- just quickly since I'm so behind on all the work I have to do that I'm trying to figure out if there's time to bathe or eat  today.

1. Marina (and lots of others) wondered what colourway I used. 

It was mawata dyed in the "I heart ewe" colourway from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

2. Almost everybody asked: How many hankies did it take?

Hankies don't come in a standard size.  How many layers there could be varies a lot.  It's easier to buy them the way we buy other fibre, which is by weight.   It's sort of like yarn.  You can't say "one ball of worsted" because how big a ball is varies from maker to maker. Instead we say 100 grams or 200 metres, and hankies are just the same.  To make those mittens I used 30g, but my hands are little and I have practice.  If you're experimenting or have bigger hands than me, you might want 40 to give yourself a little room for either your hands or errors.

3.   Iris asked "Stephanie - can you elaborate on "attenuated"? You imply not spun, but I'm not clear on what you did."

I literally pulled them.  I pull off  one layer at a time, and pull that layer until it's the thickness I like, then knit. No spinning. You can spin silk hankies- but I didn't for this project.

4. JoAnn said "I believe you about the warmth factor, but I wonder about what happens when they get wet?"

The same thing as with wool.  Silk, like wool, is also warm when wet. Here on a page advising what to wear to the Antarctic, silk and wool are both suggested.

5. Mandy inquired "Does the mawata snag a lot, either during the knitting or the wearing? My fingers are sometimes rough."

They snag a lot during the knitting, though this is greatly reduced when wearing them, but it's definitely still there.  It bugs some people, just the way that other people think wool is itchy, or that acrylic is squeaky.  It's a preference. There's really only one way to find out if you're the sort of person it would bug.

6. Flanneljammies (great screen name) asked "Can they be any sort of silk hankies? Or are these ones special?"

They're special in that they're not handkerchiefs made out of silk, like these ones, but rather a silk fibre preparation instead of an article of clothing.  They're just called handkerchiefs because they're shaped like them.  It's one of the reasons I usually use the word "mawata" instead.  Less confusing than trying to figure out how someone is ravelling a woven silk hankie (which is totally what I thought the first time I heard of it.)

7.  What pattern was that mitten pattern?

It's the one I keep in my head, altering the size as needed- just sort of on instinct.  Maybe I'll write it down for you someday, but in the meantime, there's lots of other great ones out there that are similar.  The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns has a great one that's very similar that can be done in any gauge, which is a pretty spectacular perk, especially if you're pulling yarn out of thin air and mawata.

Happy Weekend Everyone. 



Posted by Stephanie at 2:35 PM

February 2, 2011

Mine mine all mine

I'm going to show you some mittens that got finished today.. and I'm going to confess to you that I think they are my bestest favourites.  I love them. I love them so much that I would marry them, take their last name, and happily do their laundry for the rest of my life and that's saying something.
I started with some very pretty mawata- that's another way of saying silk hankies.   (My painted ones came from Blue Moon.)

I pulled the mawata apart, one layer at a time, then attenuated them into a something (very vaguely) resembling a light worsted weight yarn, and made mittens.

Plain mittens. No bells, no whistles, no cables, no lace -  just the ordinary mitten pattern I keep in my head for emergencies, but the results are so very anything but ordinary.   The mittens I ended up with weigh only 30g- which isn't so terribly light really, for reference, the beer mittens from yesterday were 35g, so they aren't freakishly light, but the difference is in the warmth.

Silk is about 4 times warmer that wool- closer to cashmere, and so these babies are hand ovens.  100% pure silk, super, super soft hand ovens.  They're cozy like cocoa, they're soft like silk (duh. I bet you saw that coming) but because they're unspun mawata, they're totally cushy and fluffy.

Beyond cushy.  They're like - hand oven pillows or something.  There have already been several attempts to steal them, so I'm thinking about putting strings on them.  Not so I don't lose them, but as a security measure because I think it's going to be what it takes to keep people from making off with them.

These mittens are in fact, so high-risk, that a friend has offered to wrestle me for possession.  I have reminded her of several things.  I reminded her of the definition of "friend" and how it generally excludes violence. I reminded her that one does not - in a moral and just civilization, usually have to wrestle another middle-aged woman in your kitchen to maintain property.  Furthermore (I suggested) that's not a good offer.  Wrestling totally isn't my style.  I'm not very big, but I am quite quick.  That makes me more of the fleeing type than the wrestling type.

I have a full on, flat out, crush on my mittens... and no.  I won't wrestle you for them.  They're mine.


Posted by Stephanie at 3:26 PM

February 1, 2011

Beer O'Clock

Another little finished thing tripped off the needles last night, or technically it was two things... but it's mittens so I guess like socks, it only counts as one finished object when really it's two. 

Done and done are Spillyjane's Mittens with Pints on, and I think they're beyond charming.  I rather like the idea of frosty pints of beer keeping ones hands toasty warm.

The yarn is the very lovely Satakieli, procured from Schoolhouse Press, from which only good things come.

I used (I think) #894 for the background, #97 for the Stout, #385 for the Dark, #288 for the Amber and 184 for the Lager - along with #3 for the creamy heads on all those little perfect pours and the enchantingly stripy thumbs.

I love them. My only regret now is that they aren't the right size for my favourite barkeep,  so I suppose I'll have to keep them- which isn't exactly a sad turn of events,  and in retrospect, may have been an unconscious decision, since I could see how wee they were all along, and just kept knitting them in my size. 

That's another project off the needles, and leaves me with one pair of mittens in the bin, although I had a close call last night.  I went out for a walk, and my old and well loved pair of mittens simply weren't warm enough, and I had a screechingly close call with the stash.  I came in from out and went straight to the wool closet, and began pulling out everything I needed to make a pair of thrummed mittens, which I can see now was just a reaction to the feeling that my fingers were going to fall off.   I pulled it back from the brink and plunked myself down to knit the thumbs on these mittens instead. (I mean I did that as soon as my fingers thawed enough to let me knit.)   They won't be as warm as thrummed mittens, but maybe I can layer.  New mittens underneath, old mittens overtop, and the pride of having tidied another thing out of the basket as whipped cream on a little mitten cake.

PS. I tell you something I figured out last night.  I don't know SpillyJane very well, so there's little I can say about her with certainty- except this.  
That woman doesn't mind weaving in ends.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:35 PM