Craft

Update on the lack-of-knitting

If you’re here regularly (hi, I love you) then you’ll know I can’t knit right now. I haven’t been able to since April or so. This is inconvenient with more than one baby on the way in my immediate family, but it is what it is.

I’ve been having massages to try to help and mostly it has helped. However, in the last few days it’s got a lot worse. It’s hard to get an appointment with my doctor (I’m switching doctors very soon because of this and other things) so I haven’t been able to get physiotherapy yet, but I definitely need it.

Anyway. It’s to the point where I can’t knit, crochet, spin, draw, write on paper, or open a damn jar. So that’s fun. My hobbies are all out of the picture except reading and watching Netflix so if you have any recommendations, let me know! I need the distraction.

I know I brought this on myself and I definitely made it worse by refusing to give up 75% of my hand-related hobbies, and I regret that now. But it’ll pass eventually and I’m being much more careful now.

Let’s hope it passes quickly; I still love looking at what everyone else is doing and it’s bringing on the knitting envy!

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Craft · Knitting

Getting past the ugly for beauty’s sake

You won’t always love everything about knitting. Quite often you won’t even love the thing you’re knitting right now, even though you were super excited to get started on it. That’s okay! Learning to tolerate and embrace the less-fun things about life and knitting will help you get a handle on the best things.

Let me give you an example: last year, I designed my own shawl (which will eventually make it to the interwebs). I usually avoid long gradient yarns, which means yarns that are died in long, gradual stripes of colour, but my LYS owner got in some simply fabulous locally dyed stuff from Blue Brick yarns and I snapped some up without thinking about it.

The colours are something special. It starts a rich evening-sky blue and melts into a sea green before finishing on the colour of soft wet sand. I grew up with seaspray hitting my bedroom window, so I’m a creature of the coast. Now I live a few hundred miles from the nearest ocean.

Despite the colourway apparently being something to do with a barn (and chickens?) I see the seaside, because we all see what is most important to us.

Weymouth harbour, Dorset, UK
Weymouth harbour, Dorset, UK. I walked past this scene daily as a young adult.

I’ve lived in Canada for three years, nestled a short way outside of Toronto. I can see the lake from my window where I work, but it doesn’t move right and Lake Ontario often smells like it’s been left out in the damp too long. There are no waves, no sea spray hitting my windows, no crashing against the cliffs. The only time I get homesick is when I think of standing on the beach in my hometown, shin-deep in saltwater, toes tangled in seaweed.

Looking at this gradient, I saw everything I missed about living on the coast. An idea splashed into my mind immediately and I picked up the needles.

Knitting this shawl went in several stages. At first I forgot about the colour and focused only on the knitting, on constructing a shawl for the first time from the inside of my determined brain. It was going well, so as the wingspan grew, so did my fascination with the colours. I ogled. I prompted strangers to admire it. I loved it with all my bitter little heart.

Until I didn’t.

With only the edging to finish, I looked at the shawl, then peered at what was left of the skein. For once I had decided to knit from the centre of the ball, just to shake things up a bit. Usually I prefer the neatness that comes from knitting from the outside, though anyone who knows my chaotic tendencies may find that surprising. It meant the blue/green was in the shawl and the gold/brown was in the skein, and disappointment flooded me. How had I not noticed how drab the colours were? They didn’t pop at all! How did I see my hometown beach in this?

Disheartened but too invested to stop, I continued knitting. I ripped back a few inches because I tried to drown out the colour with a pattern too complex for the original idea. I considered stopping knitting it completely, but then as the yarn moved from bright blue to damp brown, I realised something: I liked it.

The Beach Shawl - Knitter Nerd
A small blurry representation of the colour. The blue makes it pop.

I didn’t (and still don’t) like the gold/brown colour on its own. It’s boring and not at all a shade that would appeal to me outside of a big dollop of mustard. Or cheese. Or actual wet sand on Weymouth beach (softest ever, true facts).

Yet when I held the shawl up, blocked and ready to go, I was glad that I continued. Though the colour itself was unremarkable, the finished piece made me happier than I had been with a creation in a long while. I loved the completed shawl, even if I didn’t love the brown. After all, the individual colours are not the point.

Life is like that too, have you noticed? Sometimes you’re going through such a great time, ambling along with bits of your life falling into a neat little pattern that’s leading you just where you want to be, and then you’ll step in a big fat pile of dog poop and your day is ruined. It’s easy, in situations like that, to forget the overarching gradient of the day/week/millennium and focus only on that one stripe of colour.

Suddenly, a day that had been shining with bright, beautiful colours becomes invisible, taken over by that one brown smear.

The Weymouth Shawl - Knitter Nerd
Image of the shawl blocking. I have not touched it since. Whoops.

This is an unfortunate glitch in the human brain. Spoilers for both life and gradient yarns: nothing is forever. You will clean your shoe and move on from that steaming shitpile, and you will knit past the colour you hate. Don’t stop. If you stop, you’re stuck in that poop for good, and you’ve wasted your day. Would you stop knitting a pair of self-striping socks because you don’t like the individual stripes alone?

What I’m saying here, minus the gratuitous poop comments, is that sometimes you’ve got to ignore the terrible stench on your shoe.

Wait, no. That’s not at all what I’m saying.

I’m saying that if you keep knitting past that colour you don’t love, you’ll end up with a project you do. And even if you don’t, you’ve still completed something with talent and meaning, and your life is richer in experience if not in shawls. Keep knitting past the mustard smear. It’s worth it.

This is a small chunk of something I’ve been writing for a while outside of my blog. I’ve never posted any of it anywhere, so I’d really appreciate hearing what you folks think. Do you want to see longer, more in-depth posts about craft, especially how it relates to self-development and activism? Let me know!

Craft

The Emptiness.

As some of you will know, I did a stupid thing a month ago. I sat with my arms propped up on the chair while I knitted for two days straight, even though my thumbs went numb after the first day. Then I didn’t knit for about three days. …Then I picked up my blanket and knitted for six solid hours.

Yeah, since then I haven’t been able to knit at all. I haven’t even tried. Guys, don’t do this. Don’t put your elbows on arm rests while you knit. Learn from my stupidity.

At the moment I’m having MASSIVE knitting cravings, but there’s nothing I can do about it, not even with babies on the way in the family. I’ve considered replacing my hands with robot machines, but unfortunately my wage doesn’t quite cover becoming a superhero/villain, so I’ve had to make do with boredom.

In the meantime I’ve tried bookbinding, drawing, journaling, cross stitching, and spinning. The latter is really the only one I can do without discomfort, as long as I rest my hands every few minutes and stretch regularly. At the last mosque knitting group, I played with my Turkish spindle for the hour. I’m not very good at it yet, but that’s the point of practicing.

It helps that at the Knitter’s Frolic this year I bought 300g of cloud, AKA merino. I need to be good so I can spin that. (See the featured ima

There is an end in sight. I’m going to a massage therapist next week, and if that helps I’ll keep going. If it doesn’t, I’ll go to my doctor. I can’t be not knitting for this long! My identity will crumble! I will be a shell of my former self!

Or I’ll just be really damn bored.

Let me know if you’ve ever had something like this happen and how you got past it. Help me, friends!

Craft · Knitting

Sewing in the ends

It’s the hardest thing to do. Not because it’s a complicated endeavour, but because if you put that finished project down for five damn seconds, it’s impossible to get around to picking it back up within a month.

No? Just me?

I do this all the time. A few months ago I decided to knit my partner a hoody since she wears them a lot and I don’t care about the sweater curse, we’re basically married anyway (we’ve been together nearly seven years, when did this happen, and if living on different continents for some of that time didn’t break us, the sweater curse hasn’t got a chance). I finished it just after Christmas, then decided I was done with it and would give it to her for Valentines, honest.

It’s May. This weekend, mid-concussion and still unable to knit because my tendons hate me, I picked up the hoody. I took ten minutes to sew in the ends, and suddenly I have a completed project on my hands.

She likes it. I’m giving it to her just in time for it to be too warm for her to wear, but no one ever said I was made of logic.Hoody for Nari - Knitter Nerd

It’s currently spread out behind me on my blocking mats, mocking me by taking roughly five bajillion years to dry. I also have to sew on the buttons but I won’t put that off once it’s dry – my partner now knows it exists, so I have to get around to it. Them’s the rules.

(That didn’t work when I made her the Avengers blanket, though… That took about eighteen months to give to her.)

This is clearly something I need to change. I sorted out my basket of random projects the other day and realised roughly 25% of them are about ten minutes from being finished. Do I just not like finishing things? Do I have commitment issues? Or do I just get too easily distracted?

Since my hands aren’t letting me knit at all these days, I may as well take some time to weave in some ends and finish up some older projects. After all, that will make me look super productive with minimal effort. Why yes, I did finish a sweater and a pair of socks and a shawl all in one weekend! (I started that shawl about 4 years ago, but that will go unsaid.)

It turns out knitters are a predictable lot, so I know I’m not the only one to do things like this. Has anyone got any tips for getting past it?

Craft

Official announcement

The event at the mosque is finalised. We’re meeting at the Islamic Centre of Oshawa on Lloyd Street at 6.30pm-7.30pm. If you’re anywhere near me, please come along!

It’s an open, friendly event. You can bring any kind of craft that isn’t going to damage their gorgeous carpets. You’ll need to take your shoes off so take the chance to show off some nice handknit socks if you have any. You don’t need to cover your hair.

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Books · Craft · Knitting

Knitting socks (which actually fit)

Yesterday I picked up my knitting and started a new sock. It’s for a friend from yarn they bought. I have their foot measurements already, so I did a gauge swatch (I know, shocking for me!) and figured out the maths of the whole thing. This is much, much more organised than I usually am in sock knitting, but there’s a reason for it: if I’ve worked it out right, they’ll actually fit my friend.

In the past I’ve been lax about this, bizarrely. I’m a bit of a lax person when it comes to fine details anyway, so it’s not a shock that it transferred over to my knitting. Relaxed, that’s what I am. That sounds a lot better than ‘absent-minded and all over the place’. Sometimes I’ve knitted socks that barely fit my foot and are too loose around the leg, but I don’t care. I kept them, I wear them. I’m stubborn that way, and I still love my creations.

However, it is possible to make socks that actually fit, and I learnt that last year.

I think I mentioned that my friend and I went to a class with Kate Atherley at The Purple Purl. We turned up late because Toronto traffic is evil but even in that time we learnt so much.

Kate Atherley has very strong feelings on socks. I respect that. She showed us how to measure our feet and what gauge to aim for and what yarn is best for socks. By the end of the night I was so inspired by the awesomeness that is knitting and maths that I went out and designed my own shawl – not sure how that is what my brain took out of it, but you can’t account for the little grey cells.

If you want to learn about this magic and set your knitting brain aflame, you should check out Kate Atherley’s book Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet. No, this is not a sponsored post; I do not yet even own this book, though it’s on my wishlist and one day I shall have it, it shall be mine, my precioussss. However, I’ve had enough looks at it to know that it’s incredibly useful.

Even better, it’s logical thinking that’s tricked my illogical mind into actually planning ahead when knitting something. Sometimes. Okay, occasionally at best, but it’s a start.

Do you use unmodified patterns for socks or do you do your own thing to make it fit perfectly?

Craft

Exciting plans afoot

There’s something exciting happening.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this on the blog for a while but didn’t want to speak too soon and see it not happen. It looks as though we’re all set up for the event, so now I can let you guys know what I’ve got planned.

At the end of this month, I have helped set up a craft and social group with the local Islamic Centre/mosque. It’s going to be an informal thing here in Oshawa where we sit and chat and knit/craft while breaking down social barriers.

I had the idea after I went to a vigil for the Quebec mosque shooting early this year. The imam spoke of islamophobia and how they face it every day, and I could see how it was going to get so much worse and a lot of the ignorance comes from these lines we put up in society that say you should only interact with certain people. At a distance, anyone can seem scary because you only rely on stereotypes and rumours. Sitting down with other people and getting to know them is the only way to overcome this. It’s a form of education that’s incredibly easy and fun, so I thought: I should try to do that.

Of course, my mind went to craft because I love it, and because I think it’s a really good way to bring people together. After all, it’s how I found a place in Ontario when I moved here from England, and I think it’s a great way to meet and understand new people/cultures. Though England isn’t that different from Canada I still suffered from an insane amount of culture shock at the beginning but through going every week to my knitting group I understand everything a lot better now, and I have some wonderful friends to show for it.

With that in mind I sent a clumsy, awkward email to the mosque asking if they would be interested in something like that, and after a back-and-forth for a couple of weeks I met up with a lovely woman at the mosque. We chatted for a while and talked over what we could do. We’re going to run the group at the end of March, though we don’t have a set date just yet, and I’m really excited about it.

Ever since Trump was elected I realised that I can’t just think about doing things any more: I have to get past my fear of getting outside my comfort zone and act. Fortunately, I’m in a place emotionally/physically where I can do that now, so I have forced myself past the discomfort and it feels awesome. It’s such a small thing but it’s something.

If you’re thinking of doing something like this, I really think it’s worthwhile. And if I can help you in any way, please let me know. Even if you just wanna talk about it. I’m determined to make small changes in the world because I truly believe that grassroots movements are the only way for lasting change, so I’d be happy to speak with others who feel the same way.

Maybe I’m just an idealist, but at least I’m not the only one.

Craft

Forgotten Knits

On Sunday it hit -17 degrees Celcius with windchill, so I rooted around in the closet for my snow pants in preparation for a dog walk. I could have worn tights under jeans as I usually would (I save the snowpants for -25 and below), but that would have meant taking off my pyjama bottoms. Snowpants hide them. My laziness is impressive sometimes.

I found the snowpants after some searching, but more importantly I found a box full of all my knitted items I’d stashed away when winter ended last year. There are two cowls and a shawl tucked away in there, all of which I’d completely forgotten, as well as the fancy orange shawl/cowl/thing that is still the prettiest thing I’ve ever knit.

PC060024

At first I wondered how I could forget such pretty things, but then I remembered that Ontario is humid and awful in the summer to the point where for sanity’s sake it’s best to pretend clothes as a whole don’t exist, let alone natural fibre things designed to increase your body heat.

I’ll be taking them all out and washing/blocking them for use soon.

Have you ever forgotten a bunch of your knitted items? Just me?

Craft · Knitting

Of course I forget to take a picture.

Yesterday was our Secret Santa exchange at work. In a group of about 40, you would think this would be less fun that it is, but since we’re a close-knit group we all know each other well enough to get a decent present. Everyone seemed chuffed with theirs, and I was super excited to give mine.

You see, three days before the Secret Santa was due I decided to completely lose my mind and knit a pair of mittens for my recipient’s gift. He’s a big sports fan so I knitted him a pair of Toronto Maple Leaf-inspired mittens, and somehow I managed to get them finished less than an hour before my shift started that day. I wanted to swiss-darn a pattern on the mittens but ended up crocheting a maple leaf for them instead, but it turned out okay and I was pleased with them.

Of course that coworker turned up in a Toronto Maple Leafs Christmas sweater that day, so I spent all day excited about him opening his gift (which included a couple of other items along the same theme). It seemed to take forever to get to him but he opened them and gave me a hug and I was pleased.

This is why knitting for decent people is fun; they get a kick out of it, and you get a hug.

Still, I’m only about 40% of the way through a large gift that I need to finish by Christmas Eve, so I probably should have reconsidered the whole idea before it took hold.

No regrets.

Are you guys doing Christmas knitting this year? How is it going?

Craft

Time to get cosy?

For those of us in Southern Ontario, winter is rearing its icy head. For the last two days I have wished for a decent pair of gloves the moment I’ve left the house, but I can’t find any of my fingerless ones and it’s not quite cold enough for lined mittens.

Confession: I am in a slump with knitting. I haven’t picked up the needles in at least a week, more like ten days. This is a really long time for me, but since all my inspiration for everything is currently running dry, I’m not concerned. I know why it is happening and I know it will pass, but for now I’m living a knit-free life.

In the meantime I’ve been considering patterns to knit when I can get up the energy to do so. That’s where you come in.

Which of these patterns should I try next?

Tipsy by Andre Sue
Tipsy by Andre Sue. Photo Credit.

Tipsy by Andre Sue

Simple, elegant, not all that visually interesting. These would be convenient for this kind of weather where I can still get my fingers out sometimes. However, I do like to tuck my fingertips in when it gets super chilly, so I’m not sure about these.

They would be a quick and satisfying knit though!

Get the pattern for free here on Ravelry.

 

Don't Skid, Honey by Justyna Lorkowska.
Don’t Skid, Honey by Justyna Lorkowska. Photo Credit.

Don’t Skid, Honey by Justyna Lorkowska

I like the zig-zags on these. The yarn I have in mind is mildly variegated – almost tonal, but a bit more dramatic – so I’m considering these because the pattern would make it stand out.

That said, same problem as above: I can’t tuck my fingers in and can’t figure out if that’s a deal-breaker.

Get the pattern for free here on Ravelry.

 

Long Flap Fingerless Gloves by Lisa Dove
Long Flap Fingerless Gloves by Lisa Dove. Photo Credit.

Long Flap Fingerless Gloves by Lisa Dove

Um, you know how I’m worried about cold fingertips? This would cure that problem, wouldn’t it?

However, it’s a super simple pattern and I don’t know if it would hold my interest. I have this problem where if it’s not challenging I go off and do my own thing which results in never getting anything finished.

Get the pattern for free here on Ravelry.

What do you think about the options?

Have you got any better ideas?

I’m looking for something functional more than decorative or I’d have a whole different list on here.

Help me, fellow knitting nerds! You’re my only hope (to regain my knitsperation)!