Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Pimlico Sleeve, Pre-surgery

Wish me luck. I'm going to carefully cut it out, fiddle a cast-off and sew it back in the other way around.

(Why all the trouble? Because of this.)

Clapotis, Redux

I had to start it, just to make sure it was going to be ok for my trip to NYC. Really, I was just checking.

I shall now return to my previously scheduled Pimlico to keep me distracted between now and then.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On Seasonality/The Clap Returns

The weather has turned nice. It likely won't last -- it is only late March, and there's time for one more cold snap before spring has well and truly settled in.

It's interesting how the weather affects attitudes towards knitting. Many times I've heard "oh no, I can't knit now that the weather is so nice." "Knitting is for winter."

It's true that once the weather gets truly hot, to sit with a large piece of wooly fabric on your lap can be uncomfortable. And even handling mohair in July and August is not a good idea. But I find the idea of knitting seasons a bit strange. If I'm working on a sweater in the summer I know it will be ready to wear on the first cool day of fall. Socks and lace are year-round. And scarves? Well, I've taken to knitting narrow little scarves in slubby silk or interesting textured yarns, and they're entirely appropriate for wearing with a jean jacket or light spring coat.

Which brings me to the topic of Clapotis. Recall my Clapotis, in a marvellous heavy wool, silk and mohair mix from Noro. This is definitely wintry. In the past couple of days, I've found myself craving one in a lighter yarn, for spring.

And in one of those confluence of events that make me think it's meant to be, I've fallen in love with the perfect yarn for it....

I was on a multicoloured sock yarn binge last year... which resulted in four really great pairs of multicoloured socks: a puddle-of-gasoline pair, a 1970s appliance pair (both Fleece Artist yarns), a Bee Stripe pair and a cheerful rainbow pair. This is all well and good, but I only wear coloured socks with boots -- and as above, boot season is over.

But then I saw Colinette's Jitterbug in Bright Charcoal. It's been bugging me for weeks. I love it, but I also don't want any more coloured socks right now. So I kept putting it back on the shelf, kept passing it by.

And then it occured to me. Clapotis in Jitterbug!

This shall be my travelling project for my trip to NYC over the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Real Shetland Scarf

Blocked! I know I've said this before, but it never ceases to amaze.

Real Shetland yarn from real Shetland sheep, using real Shetland lace patterns and techniques.

Pattern will be available very shortly from my friends at Hopeful Farms. They'll be at the Knitter's Frolic in Toronto April 28th -- drop by to say hello to Michele and Gil and fondle their amazing yarns. What I love most about their yarns is that they're all undyed -- these are real sheep colours, and they come in a marvelous variety of shades, from the deepest chocolate brown to soft greys and beiges -- and all sorts of tweedy combinations.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

On Graft

I feel about grafting the way I do about cleaning the bathroom. I avoid it when I can, I really don't like doing it... but have to acknowledge that the results are terrific.

(Now, I've never paid someone else to do my grafting, unlike my housework... but it's not a bad idea for a small business.)

Note the Vogue Knitting at hand. I don't really refer to it during the process, but it's a security blanket. I'd be nervous if it wasn't nearby.

This is the final phase of my lace scarf. I was aiming to be as true to Shetland patterns and techniques as possible. I used only Shetland lace patterns, and constructed the scarf in two halves, to be grafted together at the middle so that each end would be the same.

It's drying now, and it's looking pretty good if I do say so myself. Pics to follow.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Meme: 5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me. The Knitting Version

A few weeks ago, I ignored being tagged for a meme, because I didn't want to stray from my chosen topic of knitting.

Norman got tagged for a meme this week, and although he didn't tag me, the topic got me thinking. Without further ado, then...

5 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me
1. I was taught to knit by my grandmother, the Hilda after whom this blog is named. She was a world-class knitter. This story remains sadly unconfirmed, but I recall her telling me that when she was a girl she used to earn a penny turning the heels of socks knitted by women in her neighbourhood. I believe it -- she was both mathematically and knittily gifted.

2. The first thing I remember knitting was a rectangle of garter stich in blocks of red, white, and blue. This would have been for the Silver Jubilee in 1977. I desperately wanted to make a Union Jack, but was gently discouraged by cooler heads. (You know, I'd probably avoid such an undertaking even now.) I proudly took it to school for a show-and-tell, and was devastated when the teacher remarked that it was an accurate recreation of a French flag.

3. Because Hilda never managed to teach me to crochet properly, I also used to create endless crochet chains. I remember a particularly long purple one. I must have been a serious tripping hazard.

4. My husband doesn't have a single thing knitted by me. Not one. He occasionally wears my Handmaiden Cashmere toque, but repeatedly rejects my offers to knit him his own.

5. My first designs were colourwork variations on existing patterns. I recall a cardigan in blocks of colour, and a circus-themed baby sweater in red and blue: the sleeves were striped and the body was polka dotted. It was pretty terrific, if I do say so myself. And then there's the penguin sweater -- a traditional native Canadian bulky cardigan -- but instead of a duck or a tractor on the back, I charted out a penguin design. These were also my last intarsia designs... you couldn't pay me to do intarsia now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mistakes I Have Made/Lace Design Underway

What on earth made me think I could knit lace on my way to work this morning, before the coffee could really kick in? Not the best idea. There was ripping back.

Have finished my secret commission, am now back working on a lace design for my friends at Hopeful Farms. This will be available in April.

It never fails to amaze me what happens to lace when you block it. Blocked sample, and scarf in progress.

See? Is that not cool?

Friday, March 09, 2007


I'm taking a refresher course in French, through my employer.

My classes are Fridays, so invariably the instructor asks what my plans are for the weekend. "Tricot" was about all I knew... and she doesn't knit so we were both struggling for the vocabulary.

Thanks to V. who is in my Thursday class, I have found the answer... Tricotin, a French language knitting site. The "Trico-Dico" is an astonishingly complete list of knitting terms in French and English.

Merci bien, V.!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On Deadline(s)

You're not seeing much of my knitting here at the moment. Trust me, I am knitting. Like a fiend. I'm working on a design commission which shall remain secret for now.

The deadline is tight, there is a lot of knitting to be done between now and March 15th. I normally knit a lot -- on my commute, in the car (when hubby is driving, naturally), at home in front of the TV. I usually get a couple of hours of knitting done in an evening, most evenings. And on the weekends during the day, I knit for an hour or two. I knit during social events, too.

This design commission has caused me to radically increase my knitting hours... I've basically been on house arrest during the weekends, setting my alarm in the morning, knitting all day and all evening.

Now, I will accept that a knitting deadline is different from a writing deadline. You can't devour an entire season's box set of Criminal Minds while writing. You can't write while out with friends for drinks. You can't hold a meaningful phone conversation while writing. But knitting is still work. Work that requires you to sit still, in the same place for long periods of time.

And working I am. Oh yes. Knitting, knitting, knitting, knitting.

I can't wait for March 15th to arrive.

But here's the thing... it's not that I want the work to be over... quite the opposite. I can't wait to share my work with the lovely people who commissioned it. And I can't wait to move on to my next commission. I've already got two more "work" projects lined up for after the 15th, and I'm practically salivating to get onto them.

I guess this really is what they mean when they say that you should do what you love, huh?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Strange Places to Find a Cable Needle

Ok, knitters... 'fess up... I bet you've all misplaced a tool and found it later in an odd place, no?

Me, I'm always losing stitch markers, and those typically show up on the floor, down the sides of the sofa, occasionally stuck to my socks.

And last week I lost my plastic darning needle ... but found it again last night tucked into my copy of Volume 2 of Barbara Walker. It's exactly the same shade of red; I was using it as a bookmark.

But this takes the cake. Hubby came home last night, and I put down my knitting to greet him (working on a super secret project right now, all I'll say is that it requires a cable needle). When I went to restart, I couldn't find my cable needle. Gone. Just gone. I looked on the sofa and in the cushions and on the floor and under the coffee table and in my shirt.

(A brief digression: I've been known to hook a u-shaped cable needle in the neckline of my shirt -- very handy on a plane, for example. This is all well and good, but does earn you strange looks from the customs agents at Heathrow if you forget to take it out.)

As I was getting ready for bed a bit later, hubby remarked that there was something odd dangling from the back of my underwear... and there was the cable needle. I suspect I was trying to put it in my jeans pocket, but missed.