Thursday, April 27, 2006

Incredible Indeed!

Last summer I was approached by a very nice lady at Lion Brand about my Non-cho pattern that appeared in Spun last spring.

I did it up in a couple of Lion Brand yarns and sent it off to them. I had basically forgotten about it until today, when I was surfing their site checking yardage on one of their products for a substitution... and there it was! My Non-cho in Lion Brand Incredible! (Behind a registration wall, be warned.)

Wow. I feel like I've hit the big time.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Spun Mag Spring Issue

Check it out. Some terrific patterns, interesting articles and great book reviews. And I'm not just saying that because me and some of my knit friends write for it...

Best Yarn Magazine Art Ever, also.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Real Sheep!

My brother the environmentalist is a member of an organization called "The Rare Breeds Survival Trust" in the UK. In their words, "the RBST is the leading conservation charity working to restore Britain’s native livestock breeds". He buys terrific Christmas cards from them, with beautiful images of livestock -- notably, in my opinion, the sheep. In all their natural glorious colours.

You'd think they'd sell the yarn, wouldn't you? I'd buy yarn and contribute to the Trust. You'd think they'd promote places that sell the yarn, wouldn't you? Nope. Nothing. (They do promote the sale and consumption of the meat from these animals, though.)

At the Downtown Knit Collective's Knitter's Frolic this weekend, I found Woolly Acres' "Real Shetland". It's yarn that comes in sheep colours. Undyed. Terrific tweeds and combos.

My brother is getting a scarf for his birthday.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Further on the Practicality Thing

I was in a waiting room type of situation today. With my knitting, as usual. I've picked up the Bee Stripe socks again. (I did mention I'd had to rip them back, didn't I? Anyway.) Knitting away in a waiting room.

The other waitee, an older woman, asked the inevitable question.


"Oh yes," she said, impressing me, "I knew it had to be socks or mitts because you're working in a circle."

"Are you a knitter?"

"My mother was. She made lots of socks and mitts."

"I like sock knitting, it's very portable."

"And practical, too."

Err... I have had many people say many crazy things about my knitting, but never that it's practical. Sock knitting with hand-dyed yarn on 2mm needles is practical? Paying $20+ dollars for the yarn, and spending hours upon hours (I hate to count, the thought frightens me) to create something I'm going to put on my feet.


If you hear a woman telling a story about being laughed at by a redhead knitting yellow and black socks -- that was me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Practicality vs. Art

Have I shared with you my theory about knitting generations?

My mother is a very skilled knitter but she doesn't really like doing it. Her mother, Hilda, was a knitter without parallel. No matter how skilled her work, Hilda knitted because she had to.

My mother sees knitting as her mother's drudgery, and if she doesn't have to do it she won't. I don't have the negative association. I see knitting somewhat romantically, something my beloved Grannie used to do. And so I can knit with love for the process. (I wonder if the generation after us will feel this way about ironing?)

For our grandmothers, knitting was about practicality. They were making clothes for the family. They were making garments and accessories to be used, that would last, that were to meet a need. Knitting was a chore, not an art.

I was reminded of this recently. An older friend of the family was showing me a blanket she's working on for a new baby in the family. Beautiful, detailed, lacy work... In acrylic. Cheap, nasty, rough acrylic. I could feel the pills forming as I touched it. Surely she can't be enjoying the process, knitting with such awful yarn? Surely it must be a chore.

Oh wait, it is.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bye Erin

Just wanted to say bye to Erin. It was fun working with you, and sharing our passion for socks and music.

Safe travels and hope to see you again soon.

Taking a Good Look

Every class I teach is different. The students are at different levels; they have differing degrees of experience and confidence in their own skills.

But it's pretty universal -- all "beginner" knitters seem to have one thing in common. They don't look at what they're doing.

They're concentrating on each stitch, on reading the instructions, on holding the needles -- they're concentrating on the knitting, but not on the knitting. I looked at the work of a couple of my students this week and there were some really very obvious mistakes. For one student, it was purl stitches where there should be knits in a number of places. For another, a wholesale change of sides so that what was stocking stich became reverse stocking stitch.

And in both cases, they hadn't noticed the mistake, they said, until much later.

I read in a book, once, a long time ago, that a good knitter stands back to admire the work in progress, on a regular basis.

I tell all my students to take a good look at what they're working on. Hold it up. Examine the pattern stitch. Make sure that you're working the right direction.

I've seen fronts of sweaters with the armhole shaping only done on one side ("Oh, so that says 'at beginning and end of the row'"?) . I've seen stocking stitch reversed mid-way through a piece. I've seen purls where there should have been knits. Cables that haven't been crossed. Mis-aligned ribs.

Hey, I've done many of these myself. Every knitter makes mistakes. Even experienced ones. The difference, it seems, between a beginner and a more advanced knitter is how quickly the mistake is spotted.

Fixing mistakes is another set of skills entirely, of course. But you start by knowing where a mistake is.

Monday, April 10, 2006

OT: Rant about pleats and vents

Ok, this is OT but I have to rant somewhere...

People: That jacket you just bought, with the vent in the back. The loose thread holding the vent shut is meant to be removed before you wear it.

Oh yeah, and the same goes for the label on the sleeve of your new winter coat that brags about the cashmere content.

They're sewn very loosely so you can remove them.


Repairs 101: Spring Knitty

The thrill and sense of pride that comes with being included in Knitty will never get old. I'm honoured to be included with such excellent company.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fitting a Sock - Harder Than It Seems

Am working on some cotton socks. Cotton's not like wool. It stretches, it loses elasticity, and worst of all, it changes shape after washing.

So how do you make a pair of cotton socks that actually fit?

Ribbing, sure. But how tight? Really tight ribbed socks will certainly stay up (for a while at least), but oh how they clutch at the leg. Looser is great for comfort, but they're down at your ankles in no time.

All this thinking has sent me scurrying back to my myriad hand-knit wool socks. And something has occured to me: I'm making 'em too big. They're loose. Way too loose. They fall down. This is why I knit, isn't it? To make things that fit me ... little old petite small-footed fine-ankled me. So why in god's name am I knitting one-size fits all for socks? Certainly, I knit them to the right length, but what's the right width?


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Different needles, different gauges: it's true!

So I indulged a bit of time in some knitting science yesterday. (This is what happens when I'm stuck at home with a cold and a lot of back episodes of CSI.)

Here's two swatches of the same yarn, on the same size needles. One was knit circularly, on dpns; the other flat.

The gauge is indeed different... I'm looser on dpns than flat. 30 sts/10cm flat, 28 sts/10cm round.

Hypothesis proven. (Note careful notations pinned to swatch.)