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.
My Grandifolia is coming along well. I have about a quarter of a skein left to go, which means I’m nearly done and can start on some knee-high socks shortly. I’m at the stage where I simultaneously love it to death and want to never see it again.
Which is better than my trials and tribulations with The Thing of Doom, which is awaiting my second attempt at blocking. I can’t look at it right now.
Now: Grandifolia has a lot of charts, and they are elaborate. They’re very easy to follow as long as you draw a line or stick a note on there or something, and for most of my time I’ve been doing that. However, I’m at the part where I repeat the same chart a few times, and I thought… well, I thought I could keep track myself, and on the other side of this fiasco I can see what an idiot I was.
After a long day of knitting I sat back, stared at my work, and realised I’d strayed so far from the pattern it didn’t even make sense any more. I took a breath and put it back in the bag.
The next day – yesterday, in fact – I took it out hoping that I’d just got confused while sleepy and it was actually fine. You guessed it: it wasn’t. I managed not to headdesk too hard and frogged about two inches of knitting, thinking happy thoughts of kittens and alpacas all the way.
And then I picked up my pen, marked where I was on the chart, and continued.
(By the end of the day I’d caught up with where I was before arrogance took hold, and it now looks like this, only green. Thank you, crappy coffee shop lighting.)
This weekend I had hours and hours to knit. On Saturday it stormed through most of our plans (we even had a little tornado, unusual for this area) and on Sunday, the only plans we had involved Oshawa Ribfest, which is still one of the most North American things I’ve ever seen in my life.
So many pigs. Delicious, delicious pigs. (Can you believe I was vegetarian once?)
I also had Friday afternoon, at least part of it, but I spent that giving in at last to the urge to dive into the world of Pokemon. I loved the Gameboy games when I was a kid, and spent many pounds of pocket money buying and trading the cards. I was a little monster at it.
It took me so long to give in because I am a highly obsessive person and I knew it would take up too much of my time and energy. Sure enough, a few days later I’m already level 9. Just watch me go.
That’s not me, by the way. That’s my friend who drove us around in her air conditioned car charging our phones between Pokestops, because we are literally the coolest.
This weekend it was… humid. The kind of humid where breathing is not all that fun and you sweat like you’re running a marathon when you’re cleaning the floors. We have no air conditioning in our apartment. This combination meant that every time I picked up or even brushed against some yarn I wanted to run away.
It would have been different if I had some cotton to hand; that stuff is easy to knit in the heat. But I did not. I couldn’t bear to pick up my yarn with my sticky skin so I spent the weekend playing Sims instead, because making Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson marry and have seven kids is a perfectly valid way to spend my Sunday afternoon, thank you.
I hope you guys had better weather for knitting.
Do you have a limit to your knitting? Do you put it down in the cold or the heat? Or are you hardcore and keep soldiering on no matter what? If so, I salute you. I reached my limit this weekend.
This time last year I knit myself a Faroese Jane Eyre shawl, as shown in my last post. Because apparently it takes me a year to get around to posting finished-object photos, at least when it’s of projects I use all the time.
Perhaps I’m developing a habit, because a week ago I cast on Grandifolia by Vickie Hartog which is another shawl, though very different in both style and construction.
Fair warning: I actually know Vickie in real life, so I had a heavy bias in wanting to try out this pattern. That said, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I love knitting it and how easy it is, even though the charts made my poor brain go kaboom the first time I saw it.
Turns out that once you get into it the charts are very easy to read. They are however very big so marking it off with a pencil is probably a good idea as you go (or however you normally keep track).
Here are some pictures from Instagram (you can follow me here); it’s much bigger now, but you’ll have to wait until it’s done for proper photos.
Sometimes a finished object (FO) becomes so useful the moment I cast it off that I forget about it. I forget that I made it. I forget that I spent hours and hours working each stitch, fixing the many mistakes, and cooing over the progress. I forget that at one point I had to pick out the yarn for the pattern that caught my eye and that once this thing I’d made was nothing more than a concept in someone else’s mind.
The moment I cast off my Jane Eyre shawl I started using it. I wrapped it around my shoulders and forgot.
This shawl is my favourite. It’s not particularly fancy but it is perfect for me. It’s big, it’s warm, it’s got just enough detail to keep it interesting. I wear it a lot.
I remember the day I found Literary Knits by Nikol Lohr in my local library. I flicked through and found a pattern based on Jane Eyre. Awesome, I thought; Jane Eyre is my favourite literary character and her strength has given me my own determination more than once in my life. Still, I won’t knit something just because it’s named after a bad-ass woman since there are a thousand patterns out there that I already want to knit, badly named or not.
Then I noticed that the shawl was made in the Faroese style and I was done. I was sold. I had yarn at home that could work and I cast on immediately.
The shawl happened quickly and without much fuss. I loved knitting it but due to that love it was over in no time at all. The only real post I made about it was lamenting my tendency to play Yarn Chicken, which didn’t really cover how much I loved knitting that shawl, though I did recommend the pattern again in a later post about Jane Eyre-inspired knits.
I knitted this shawl… wow. A year ago. See? Time flies when you’re wearing something all the time. Last month I spent a few days camping near Charleston Lake and used the shawl the moment the chill picked up, and finally remembered that I should get some in-use pictures of the project.
The reason I love it so much is because of the shape. If you haven’t knit a Faroese shawl before you should consider it; the result of a small bunch of very windy islands, the knitters of the Faroe Islands put shoulder shaping into their shawls. Genius. Practical and stylish! It stays on easily and hugs you like an old friend.
Revisiting the shawl’s creation has been a pleasure. It’s such a part of my daily life that I forgot that I nearly ran out of yarn for it and had to buy more, and that I’d knit it in no time at all in my excitement. I’ll love it even more now.
(Though with the current 30 degree weather and 70% humidity, I might not be wearing it for a while.)
If you saw my last post about Nuevo Norte Alpacas and my trip into a little world full of alpaca-based happiness, you will know that I one day intend to keep alpacas.
Why? Well, the first time I felt alpaca yarn my mind was blown. I knew on a vague level that alpacas were a thing, but alpaca turned into my gateway drug into the world of fancy, soft, fluffy, amazing fibre. One small skein of pale blue baby alpaca/silk and I was sold on the world of fibre.
That project was one of the early documented ones on the blog, back in December 2011. I had been knitting for about a year and a friend send me the yarn. I found a nice pattern for fingerless mitts, something I’d never needed so badly before I knitted, and spent some of the worst weeks of my life knitting them. I was sick, I was in pain, and I’d had to postpone my year in Canada due to all of the above. (The picture to the side is from when I was bed-bound for a few weeks, and the featured cat is Disney who hated almost everyone but loved me so, so much. Especially when I didn’t move for a while.)
By December I was better and ready to go, but there’s a reason I called them ‘Escapism Mitts’. They gave me the space to enjoy texture and colour and the process of knitting instead of dwelling on the difficulties at the time.
I still have and use the mitts and they still look fabulous.
Since then I would have to say alpaca has remained close to my top spot in terms of my favourite fibre. I knit with wool more often as I knit socks pretty much constantly, but when I have an excuse for alpaca I don’t often resist.
How does that translate into wanting to keep alpacas myself?
My girlfriend and I are animal lovers. We surround ourselves with them, her even more than me (at her work). One day we plan to have a small farm – one they call here a ‘hobby farm’ – and keep a few choice animals. We’ll have alpacas (because I’m deadly serious about it), goats, chickens, horses. Maybe a few cows one day.
I mean, ideally I’d like to have an enormous herd of merino sheep but as I would spend all day running around hugging those giant puffballs, I’ll stick to alpacas.
Wait, alpacas are also giant puffballs. Maybe I should reconsider. (I won’t.)
Do you like alpacas? Would you ever like to keep animals for their fibre? If you do already, how do you find it?
It’s wonderful to get away for a while. In the middle of July we packed up our things into a car that is much smaller than it looks from the outside, like a sort of reverse TARDIS, and drove a few hours along the edge of Lake Ontario with our knees by our chins. It’s been a long time since I went camping and I had no idea what to expect from a Canadian campsite, so I was excited for new experiences (and hopefully raccoons).
As we drove through the gorgeous Southern Ontario countryside my head whipped around when my girlfriend pointed out a field full of alpacas. I noticed the sign ‘gift shop’ and tried to be polite and say we could maybe stop on the way back? If we had time? Except somehow I gave in and we turned around, pulled into the yard, and descended upon the friendliest alpaca farmer I’ve ever met.
We’ll pretend I’ve met more than one.
The farm was Nuevo Norte Alpacas in Colborne, and the owner – I believe her name was Amy – opened up the gift shop just for us. Well, me. My girlfriend and her mum weren’t in it for the fibre.
She showed us down to the gift shop and I told her that one day I wanted to keep alpacas, and she was super helpful. I feel as though I learned more in that half an hour than anything I’ve learned before. She explained the entire philosophy behind how she cares for the alpacas (and she has 80+ so she should know), and that she got into it for the fibre as much as anything else.
I bought two sets of roving and a beautiful grey lopi yarn from their flock, and geeked out about knitting and spinning. On the way back Amy (I think) showed me the wild woad growing on her land which I had never seen in person – only in pictures. She brought us to the pen full of pregnant alpacas or those who had recently given birth, plus some thoroughly adorable crias (babies). I learned that alpacas all poop in the same spot in the field and that crias will stand for a long time in that spot with nothing happening while they’re still nursing. This entertained me more than it should.
Though I cannot get back out there easily for now as I don’t drive, once I do – and have some spare time – I will be going back. My aim to one day keep alpacas is sincere and I think I’ve found a place that would be perfect to learn more.
If you’re ever passing through, check out Nuevo Norte Alpacas. They do tours and workshops and classes, and they have some gorgeous fibre for sale.
Turns out when I thought I’d scheduled a post to say I was going away… I didn’t actually click ‘schedule’ and it’s sitting in my drafts. Who’s the smartest knitter in town? Yup. Definitely not me.
So. Radio silence. I just got back from camping and will be posting more about that in the next few entries. It was glorious and relaxing and I’ve still got four free days before I have to go back to work, so that’s ample knitting and blogging time.
A note: I’m going to change my posting schedule to two entries a week for now. I want to focus on quality which is difficult to do when I’m trying to churn out three entries a week. This probably matters to no one but me, but I thought I would let you know in case you’re wondering. I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and every now and then I’ll be adding a book review at the weekend.
Thank you for joining in the Q&A last week, it was fun. If you have any questions for me ever feel free to go back and look there or even ask me again!
Anyway. Let’s get back to our regular knitting nerdery.
You remember how I got totally obsessed with Dorset buttons? Unfortunately I’ve been so busy with knitting for people lately that I haven’t had a chance to indulge, but believe me it’s coming. I have a bunch of rings ready for a nice session of button-making once I’m done with these three pairs of socks and the shawl I’m doing.
Now I have something else I want to try – thank you, Martina. Aside from being my provider of yarn-based happiness, she also sent me this link which has made me want to drop my needles and find small balls to thread up into buttons.
It’s almost like a 3D Dorset button. I haven’t looked at the technicalities yet, but I do know I shall be working out where one gets wooden beads any day now.
Next problem: what do I do with all the buttons I make?