Friday, June 25, 2010

All Lace All the Time; Distractions

I've been knitting a lot of lace lately.

You might remember the Shetland Skies circular shawl. In addition, I'm on the last of four lace designs intended for publication. I've loved doing them, but each of them has been on progressively finer yarn -- which is pretty scary when you think that the first two were worked with sock yarn -- and the last is starting to feel like a Herculean task. It's worked with true laceweight cashmere, at a gauge of abut 8 sts an inch, even on bigger needles. It's a circular shawl and I'm at round 54 of 97 of the final tier before I work the edging. I love it, don't get me wrong, but it's taken me about three times longer than I expected.

(One of the crew remarked today that I was looking a bit like a zombie, knitting as I walked, dead-eyed.)

At the same time, there is another deadline piece in the wings, picked up when I have an idle moment (hah!), not very lacy, but still triangular.

And as is the way when you're trying to be monogamous with a project (or two), there is always a distraction around the corner.

Blame Jennifer for this distraction.

It's no secret I love Noro. I've got some of it in my sock yarn stash. And it's no secret, also, that I have more sock yarn than I will ever need for actual socks.

So, sometimes, I like to use sock yarn for things other than socks. (Lace, for example, I use a lot of sock yarn for lace. Reference the Shetland Skies shawl again.)

I was admiring a shawl that Jennifer had crocheted out of my current favourite colourway of Noro Kureyon Sock, 242.

"Oh, it's so easy," she said.

"And quick."

"Here, let me show you."

And 10 minutes later I had the start of a crocheted shawl.

Am trying to be very very focused and not work on it.

It will be my reward.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Knitting

A certain knitter (you know who you are, Miss L.), has been madly watching the World Cup. During her team's first game, she knitted lace.

For the next game, she chose a sock.

The problem is that her team actually happens to be doing quite well, so she's been looking at the screen, and not her knitting.

We've been fixing a fair number of mistakes. I suggested that a garter stitch scarf might be best for the next game, as it's a critical one against a better-rated team.

For me... well... I think it would be better to look at my knitting rather than the footie.

I wonder if I have time to whip up a flag before they are knocked out?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saying Thank You

We were chatting last night about the knitters who came before us; our grandmothers and aunts and assorted and various relatives in our collective past, those who knitted with us, and for us.

We reminisced about the knitting we had received as gifts, before we ourselves were knitters.

You know the sort of thing I'm talking about... in the words of Dylan Thomas, from A Child's Christmas in Wales, "from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all".

Those knitted gifts we didn't appreciate.

Sometimes we didn't appreciate them because they were ill-fitting (C's too-tight armholes) a bad choice of yarn (rasping wool, or sweaty 1970s acrylic), because they were a style not to our taste (K.'s black and teal shoulder-padded mohair number), or sometimes, simply, because we didn't understand the work that went into them.

In my case, my grannie Hilda had taste that matched well with mine, and we wore to death the things she made for us. We loved them, but we still really didn't appreciate them.

But whether we liked the items or not, whether they fitted or looked good or were nice to wear, whether they were worn to death or stuffed in the back of your closet, it's probably safe to say that we didn't appreciate the work that went into them.

I know I had no idea how long it took to make that perfect red and black mohair turtleneck pullover I convinced Mum to knit for me when I was a teenager.

K. told us the story of the black and teal shoulder-padded mohair number last night. K's a sharp dresser, and isn't afraid of wearing something distinctive and interesting - but teal mohair just wouldn't have suited her. She confessed that she didn't like the sweater, discarded it without a second look, and was relieved when it was accidentally thrown in the washing machine and felted.

Only when she started knitting did she realize the effort that had gone into the sweater, so she did the right thing: 30 years later, she picked up the phone and called her aunt to say thank you.

I believe a few tears were shed.

No matter how long ago the gift was knitted, no matter how many years have passed since it was given, it's never too late to say thank you to a knitter in your life for all that effort and love.

Grannie: Thank you. Not just for the all the knitting, but the inspiration. I love you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cautious about Colour; How to Get Brave

Despite my orange glasses, and a rather passionate love for Noro, I would have to describe myself as being cautious about colour. In my clothes, I rarely mix colours. It's not that I'm entirely monochrome - I have lots of colourful dresses - but when pushed to put colours together myself, I always opt for simplicity: black or white with a single contrasting colour. And yes, in my world, denim is a colour. Sometimes I'll branch out and wear black and white and a colour, but that's only for brave days.

This is actually one of the reasons I feel confident enough to wear bright orange classes - I know that they will go with whatever I'm wearing.

The problem is not that I don't like colour: I have a purple couch, and a lime green bathroom and a red bedroom. One colour is fine; my caution is about putting them together. It's a problem of overanalysis. I can never decide if a particular shade of blue goes with a particular shade of green, or if that purple is working with or against the yellow, or if the red is too orange or too blue to go with my often red hair. So I make it very very simple on myself.

Although it might seem boring, this strategy has its upsides - everything matches in my wardrobe!

But I know damn well this is why I love Noro - because someone else has made the colour decisions for me. I'm not shy about mixing colourways of Noro - witness my Lizard Ridge,

and the Vass Variation sweater.

And this caution extends to designing - I'll cheerfully let someone else choose the colours for me, but if it's up to me, I'm cautious.

I think I might have found a solution to the problem... for $7, on the remainder pile at one of our local indie bookshops, I found this:

It's genius. It's just pages and pages of different designs shown with different colour combinations in different arrangements.

Click to enlarge the photos to see what I mean.

This tool not only gives me some ideas about how to put colours together, but also how they look weighted differently against each other.

Much fun and inspiration.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Two Places at Once!

I've been contributing to the KnittyBlog of late, my most recent post being on The Outdoor Knitting Kit, just in time for WWKIP day, which will be celebrated in Toronto this weekend.

The forecast is middling for the day - chance of thundershowers - so you may want to consider adding an umbrella to the kit.

Friday, June 04, 2010

New Classes, New Issue of A Needle Pulling Thread

I'm very pleased to announce that I've added some new classes to my calendar for the summer: I'll be teaching a few special Monday morning sessions at PassionKnit in Toronto in June and July. See their classes page for more info.

In addition, the Summer issue of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine has hit the newsstands. This issue includes a feature on the lovely people of the Philosopher's Wool Company. Ann and Eugene hosted us for a visit last summer, and this feature is the result of that. We're also featuring a one-of-a-kind sweater kit to order, exclusive to A Needle Pulling Thread. See a sample of the issue here.

Also in this issue is a nautically inspired tank top design by the lovely Emily Foden, of Viola yarns.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What I've Been Up To

I'm doing more paid design work of late, and I absolutely love it, but it forces me to keep the knitting secret. I can't share it with my world!

I've been (mostly) all about lace of late.

I'm into the second of a three-part lace series, in addition to the recently completed Shetland Skies shawl, another circular shawl idea that's cooking, a rectangular scarf, and a less-lacy triangle.

I love designing and knitting lace - but both elements can be an enormous challenge. This current one is a top-down triangle, and I had very specific ideas about how the patterning should line up. And it nearly killed me. I leafed through stitch libraries, and swatched; and then leafed through stitch libraries some more, and swatched again; and leafed and swatched, and leafed and swatched. There was also some serious use of foul language, and lots of drinking of coffee.

But after 3 days, I cracked it. And now all I have to do is knit it ;-). Aided by more coffee, of course. What also helps is that the yarn is some of the nicest I have ever used - laceweight cashmere in a gorgeous warm brown colour.

The colour is important because, as I might have mentioned, I drink a fair bit of coffee. And this way I don't have to worry if I spill any on the lace. The first in this series was worked in a powder blue colour, and I spent the entire time worried I was going to stain it.

And just in case you're worried that the Queen of Socks has forgotten all about socks, there is a quartet (!) of socks in the works, too, to be published somewhere nice a little later this summer. Let's just say that I'm having some fun mixing and matching colours.