Getting fit, knitter style

Recently I realised I’d put on weight. Now, I’m not the body-shaming type, and this in itself would not be a problem. However, if you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog you might recall back in 2011 when I fell very sick with IIH and had to postpone going to Canada by three months while I recovered.

IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension) is when the cerebro-spinal fluid in my skull stops draining properly, and though they don’t know for sure what causes it, they’re pretty certain it has to do with weight. I can confirm that I lost a lot of weight at the time and kept it off for a long time, and I have suffered no further symptoms since. Realising that I’d gained so much weight without noticing startled me, because I really don’t want to have those huge blind spots in my vision again, and I really, really could do without ever having a lumbar puncture ever again.

Don’t click on that last link if you’re squeamish about spines and/or giant needles like I am.

As a result, I’m back at the gym. I bought myself a fitbit with my birthday money last month and have been more careful about what I eat, since I was starting to binge on chocolate again (god, I love chocolate). I’m not super strict about it but I really don’t want to get sick again so this is the best course of action.

What does any of this do with knitting, I hear you ask?

There’s a certain patience to being a knitter that I find translates well into working out. When I’m knitting I don’t always love what I’m doing, but I keep going. I continue stitch by stitch by stitch until I get to my goal (a finished object, most of the time!). With working out, I feel I engage the same part of my brain; I don’t want to be working out, exactly, but I keep going minute by minute by minute because I know the end goal will be worth it.

Have you ever felt anything like this? Do you engage similar parts of your personality – determination, stubbornness, creativity – to things outside of craft?

Let’s Put Cute Things on Cute Small People

My coworker happens to be quite a nice person – and rather pregnant. Since I had some leftover yarn and an urge to make something small and adorable I whipped up a couple of gifts for her future sprog.

When I finished them I left them on her desk while she was on lunch. Cue everyone keeping a diligent eye out for her, all squirming with anticipation. It was fun, and she liked the gifts.


I didn’t use a pattern for either of these, just looked on the baby hats page of Ravelry and chose a shape I liked, then cast on without reference. It was entertaining and for once didn’t end in disaster.

(By the way, that cardigan I was making? Oh, how that turned south. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss it as soon as I can face it.)

The hat was a tube which I joined with kitchener stitch at the top, then tied the corners into little ears. The mittens were simple enough, but I crocheted and sewed little pads on to make them match the hat. This kid is already going to be a cutie, and now they have a nice little snug addition to their wardrobe!

Adventures in Tattoos: Part One

When I was eighteen, my sister and I walked into a tattoo parlour and picked some bad flash off the wall. Luckily for my sister she was too young to be able to permanently mark her skin, but I got a cat on my shoulder.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t regret it. I thought it was cute at the time and I was just pleased to prove I was an adult now, in theory if not in practice. It especially drove me crazy when people would tell me I would hate it in a few months or that I couldn’t know what I wanted at such a young age.

I don’t hate my random cat. At the time what I wanted was to be tattooed, and I did it. Eleven years later (!!!) it is time for a change, so I booked an appointment at New Tribe in Toronto and headed downtown this weekend for a consultation.

One day I want to get a knitting tattoo, but today is not that day. I spoke with Wes who helped me figure out the best way to get a raccoon on my arm in a way that would work as a cover-up, and he has some great ideas that I can’t wait to see. I’ll save those ideas until the drawing is ready and it is on my skin.

My appointment to get my skin painted by this talented artist is November 5th. A month! A whole month! I mean, I’ve waited literally years for this but a month seems insurmountable now.

I’ll explain why I want a tattoo another time, since I have a guest star (of a sort) for that post.

Tell me about your tattoos! Do you have any? Do you want any? Do you think they’re a pointless waste of money?

KN Reads: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

KN Reads - The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

If a novel starts with the main character leaving a mental hospital at the age of eighteen, you’re going to encounter something either cliche or wonderful. Thankfully, The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter takes you right into the latter.

Cassie spent two and a half years detained against her will thanks to her mother’s insistence that she is crazy and potentially dangerous. At eighteen, Cassie can finally leave and begin to scratch out a place for herself in a world she hasn’t been allowed to experience until now.

The thing is, as anyone with a complicated relationship with their parents will know, it’s not always easy to avoid their poison. Though Cassie does her best to study and do well at school, her mother begins to worm her way back into her life. Along the way Cassie discovers things about her family she didn’t know and spends a lot of the book carefully questioning the source of the trouble. Is it Cassie? Or is it her mother?

There are few people as well-placed as parents to manipulate and twist the truth of their children, and when those children grow up it’s not always clear which way they will go. This story deals with that struggle; is Cassie able to find her strength apart from her mother, or will she be under her dangerous thrall forever?

The First Time She Drowned is not an easy, quiet read. It’s full of beautiful language that sweeps you away and drags you under until you’re as part of the story as Cassie herself. The only warning I will give is that if you have your own parental issues, you might want to avoid this book unless you’re in need of some good catharsis. Other than that, I highly recommend it to you, readers.

Find The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter on Goodreads,,, or

Or see more reviews from KN Reads.

The Cardigan Continues

If you saw my last post, you’ll know I’m in the middle of a binge of sweater knitting. A cardigan is on its way into my life, piece by piece.

Yep, piece by piece – I’m not knitting it in one piece. I hate sewing things up, but I’m sure it will be worth it because this cardigan is going to be glued to me for the whole of autumn and probably a large portion of the winter.

So far I’ve made only two mistakes, though they were big ones.

  1. I made the back about two inches too small. I don’t know how I managed that. I’m going back in a few days to rip out the top bit and add a couple of inches. Not ideal, but I will pull through.
  2. When decreasing the right front of the cardigan I started doing both the neck and the shoulder on the same side of the section, which apparently is not how human bodies work.

Both of these problems could have been solved by printing off the pattern and actually reading it as I go along instead of skimming it in the morning and making it up, because you know, that’s a sensible way to do it. (Though this time I’m not just making it up completely as I would on a less important project; I do write down some small notes. Just… not enough.)

After work today I decided to go to the library to print off the pattern but alas, they’d changed how the system worked and I messed it up and then there were no computers so I was outta luck, buddy. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. Or maybe not.

Maybe I’ll just keep making it up and see what happens.

(By the way the pattern is Cushing Isle by Amy Herzog, though I’m using the Custom Fit generator for it. More on that stroke of genius when the sweater is done!)

Suddenly, a cardigan appears

Over the last week I have finished a few projects  (on their way to the blocking mat) and frogged one fairly major project (story coming later this week). Since everything on the needles is giving me attitude, I decided to start a project I’ve been excited about for a while.

Plus it was my birthday Sunday. What better excuse to cast on a cardigan?


I only started this yesterday and it’s already ten inches deep. It’s a welcome break from troublesome projects!

What are you reading?

This year I set myself a goal to read 75 books. Last year my goal was 50 and I ended at 61, so I figured 75 was reachable. It’s easy to track through Goodreads, so I signed up.

(My challenge is here. I’m not 100% sure that link will take you to it, but let’s hope. If not, search for Polo Lonergan and add me. I’ll steal all your books. I mean… take your recommendations…)

Why did I do it? It’s crazy, right? I should read as much as I want to feel like I’m reading enough. It shouldn’t be a chore. Thing is, even with a challenge like this, nothing about it feels forced. It is a way to remind myself how many good books are out there and how much time I have in between things where I can pick up a good book and enjoy it.

I get a bus to work and home again in the evening. That’s 45 minutes right there altogether. I have an hour’s worth of breaks at work, though I can’t always spend it reading. Sometimes I can, and this challenge makes me want to do so.

It also gives me an excuse to run a hot bubble bath once a week or so and enjoy without guilt, which is something that stops me doing a lot of relaxing, pointless activities. I’m not very good at stopping without worrying about what I should be doing, but reading with a point makes me feel justified. It’s the same reason I knit so much to relax. I can be productive and unproductive all at once.

On top of all of those excellent reasons to do this challenge, I also find I actively seek out new books far more than I was doing before. I would wait for books to fall into my lap. I wouldn’t ask people what they were reading unless it came up naturally in conversation. Now I’m aggressive about it. TELL ME YOUR BOOKS, STRANGER. I NEED NEW ONES.

As it stands I am on my 54th book of the year. That’s 2 ahead of schedule (thank you Goodreads). So I’m going to get aggressive with you guys.

What books are you reading? Why should I read it too? Do you have a challenge you like to follow like this one?

Coming Soon on The Knitter Nerd

You may have noticed (or not) that posts are spotty right now. Let me explain: I am going through some major changes in my life, all of them positive, though it’s leaving me overwhelmed. The Blog is one of my favourite things in the world, but I need it to change with me and I am still figuring out how to make that happen.

In other words, it’s going to be spotty for another week or two while I put some plans into motion. I thank you for your patience and hope you’re as excited as I am for some change.

Also! If you are interested in being a beta-reader for a longer-form non-fiction piece on knitting/crafting and mental health, please drop me a line on this form.

The magical sock pattern

The magical sock pattern

Spoiler: a friend and owner of my local yarn store wrote the pattern I’m speaking about here, so I’m entirely biased on its merits.

That doesn’t mean the pattern isn’t awesome though.

Recently it seems everyone I know is writing amazing patterns and I have to keep knitting them. No, it’s not out of a sense of obligation; I won’t knit something that I don’t like in general, because life’s too short for that. Nope, turns out the talented folks I know write damn good patterns.

Martina Munroe published Camber Twist Socks around the same time as Vickie Hartog published the Grandifolia Shawl (which I’ve finished and you shall see soon). Another friend asked me to knit her some Camber Twists and I began, and as soon as I memorised the pattern I was hooked.


The yarn I’m using is Cascade Heritage Wave (I would recommend not googling ‘Cascade Wave’ as I just did, as it turns out it is something very different). It’s red plied with shades of grey, and it is SO SQUISHY I have since bought a skein for myself. I’m adapting the pattern to be knee-high socks for a friend, hence the little stitch markers and the odd shape.

See, these are excellent socks. The pattern looks quite plain on the needles but when you put it on it turns magic. My coworkers watched me knit and when I showed them what it would look like stretched around the leg, their minds were blown.

This is why:


Look how cute that is!

Not only is it cute, but it’s a great idea for a sock stitch. It’s less boring to knit than plain ribbing but will be snug and comfortable against the leg despite that. I have a problem with skinny ankles that means a lot of socks don’t fit well but these would be super versatile for anyone.

And yes, that is my pinky sticking out at the top of the sock.  My legs were too far away.

I know I spoke about knitting for Christmas last week but these are the exception. I have, however, started a pair of fingerless gloves in the same stitch as above. Apparently I dig it enough to have multiple projects on the go with it.

The best thing about Camber Twist? It’s still free until the end of August. Go get it now!

It’s getting to that time…

Who else has started to think about Christmas knits?

My local yarn store has had a sale on this month that’s blown my mind; 40% off all yarn. I’ve bought a few (ahem) skeins to turn into things both for myself and for Christmas gifts, because I figure this is the perfect timing to get pretty things on a budget ready for the season ahead.

I know a lot of people don’t knit for others, especially to a deadline. That’s a valid way to be. For me, I go through stages. I’m in the mood to knit for others right now but let’s see how long that lasts… I’ll make the most of it while it does and get some Giftmas things on the needles.

Of course that means I have to finish the other projects I have going but hey, a little multitasking never hurt anyone, right?

I’ll be starting up the themed pattern posts again in the next week or two, watch out for that. It’s the perfect time of year for all that nerdy knitting.