It has been since I last bought yarn!

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
The presents were wrapped and all the chores equaled none,
it was time to sit down and get a blog done!
Somehow, despite all the distractions this week,
I got in some knitting and thought I'd give you a peek.
It's a Cashmere shawl! And it's off the needle!


Now to block over the holiday, if MiL's blocking board I can wheedle!
But that isn't it, there's more, keep on sittin'
For I even finished a cute pair of mittens!


Where did I find the time for this? I don't really know,
But I woke up one morning with progress to show!
If that wasn't enough, there was even more,
Even the white blanket isn't as much of a snore!
Just a few border rows left to pick up and knit,
And before New Years I should be finished with it!


And because I needed a project that was easy to carry,
I cast on a sweater I love so much I might marry!
Everyone, meet Willie, and isn't it cute?
A friend's litte girl, I think it will suit!


I'm just using stash yarn to knit this one up,
And I'm so completely charmed by that cute little pup!
I've got some time off now, so I expect much more to see.
Perhaps I will even start something for me!
Now to do yarn "research" for the boxing day sale,
Missing yarn at a discount would make any knitter wail!
So back to my knitting, with relaxing in sight!



Mitten Details:
Pattern: Fletcher Mittens by Amy Swenson
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden (worsted) 292 and 264
Needles: US size 6
Listening To: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shyteyngart
Notes: The pattern was great and easy to follow- it's a good download I'd recommend it to anyone. However I HATED the yarn. HATED it. The colors are lovely, and it compliments the pattern perfectly, but it kept breaking and ripping and I had so many ends to weave in at the end I was completly in full HATE mode for the yarn. BOOOOOO NORO. (What I don't get it is that so many people love that yarn and I can't for the life of me figure out why. I will not be buying Noro again!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

In Which I've Learned Nothing

Apologies for brief blog intervals. This December has been chock full of Christmas events to attend. Sadly, these events leave very little room for actual knitting time, not to mention even less time for blogs. Thankfully, we had an early dismissal today for our company Christmas party, (yes, it's on a Monday... don't ask) so I managed to squeeze in a little post here.

Hey?! Remeber that time I decided that I had too many things on the needles and I needed to close some circles? Well, apparently I've didn't learn anything from that... because I cast on a pair of mittens, simply because I could not wait to to do so any longer.


I just wanted a small project to tote around with me since the other projects have gotten quite huge. These are going to be the Fletcher Mittens when they're done- and I'm hoping to also make a matching ear muff warmer thingy. (I think that's the technical term for those.)

I felt slightly less guilty than I normally do when I cast on a project admist other projects, because a large portion of the white blanket (OF NEVER ENDING MONOTONY) is actually finished. I've cast this blanket off and the ends are woven in. (Apologies for these photos... it's December in Canada, we're lucky to have 10 minutes of natural light!)


Now all that means is picking up the stitches for the edging to make the edges look less frightful than they do currently.


YIKES! Those are some ugly borders right now! I'd love to finish this blanket before 2010... it needs to be finito, because I want to make January the month for a big squishy sweater.

So yes, there is still knitting to be had around these parts, even though it happens less often than normal. Not to worry- I have 2 weeks off over Christmas, I'm hoping that things will be flying off the needles then!

Hoping your Christmas schedules are allowing you some time to knit too....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Hai Blog!

Sometimes it's tough to blog about my knitting.

Firstly, if your me, and you have projects that you're working on, but they look essentially the same since the last time you posted photos of them, well, it doesn't make for very interesting blog fodder. The white blanket looks the same as it did last time... only longer. Except, not long enough to tell you what the next step is or something interesting about it, just long enough for me to know I've made progress but not really talk about it.


Secondly, it's dark out. And as you've probably already noticed- it's tough to take photos in sunlight, when there's little of it. (I have tried, for the most part, to take my photos in natural sunlight so you can see essentially true colors etc.) It's dark when I go to work in the morning and it's dark when I get home. My office lighting is ATROCIOUS. So, if I'm inspired to do something, like for example rip out a scarf that's been languishing in my unished object pile because I'm inspired to knit these mittens instead, you have to hope that I can catch a sprinkling of sun on a weekend to take a photo.


Bye bye scarf of many colors... back to the stash you go. (Side note- ripping out Noro Silk Garden after it's been sitting in a knit state for over 2 years isn't pretty- I'm happy I was able to salvage most of it...)


Thirdly, I've been increasingly frustrated by my Blogger skills. I am very, VERY basic. I know this looks flashy and exciting to some of you- but this is very low level, goofing off and hoping it works kind of layout and format. What I find INFINTATELY frustrating is that lately I've been receiving comments and questions on the blog from strangers and for some reason I have been unable to respond to commentors. If you have left a comment on this blog- and do not leave an email or a Ravelry name, or a blog you're with, I have NO WAY to respond to you. I don't even know how to find out who you are. I AM NOT TRYING TO IGNORE YOU or keep all the knitting secrets to myself! I just have no way to respond. I AM REALLY SORRY. I swear I'm not an a big jerk who doesn't want to respond. I DO! BADLY! I just don't know how.

What I need is a "blog person." Someone who I can pay for their time who will sit down and a) build this site into something palatable and viewable and b) set it up so that I can post photos, text and respond to comments and make it my little space on the internet but also something that is easy for my lame-o computer skills to manage. (Hello birthday gift idea!!)

So there you have it. I'm hoping for a flurry of excitment/progress here soon. I also know that 'tis the season for doing 96 gazillion different Christmas events that suck on knitting time. So cross your fingers I'm able to survive with a little knitting along the way.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Too Much White

Blog posts have been less than my regular frequency lately, because I'm kind of in a state of knitting ennui. I did liberate myself from all the unfinished items hanging over my head, shaming me- but the projects that remain aren't exactly thrilling me either.

Maybe it's because they are all the same color.

Behold- the latest baby blanket, where progress is made, but there isn't much to say about it. (At least it's a very VERY simple knit.)


Behold the backup project- a pretty shawl... also white. (But cashmere... mmmmm)


Making this whole "meh" feeling worse? I can't get away from white stuff. BEHOLD- the view outside. (At my sister's house.)


At least this view is doing one thing, it's so cold to do anything else I'm essentially home bound and left with only an option to knit. So that is what I'll do- hopefully there will be some interesting stuff happening around these parts again soon! Next project will be colorful- promise!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Closing Some Circles

Sylvia in my KnitWits group told us a story last knitting night that kind of struck home. She was unsatisfied with a few things in her life and it was stressing her out. Her doctor gave her some very sage advice- "close your circles Slyvia". It turns out that there were unfinished things in Sylvia's life and when she starting finishing them, she found that she started feeling better.

As you can tell from my last post, there are a lot of open circles in my life right now. The sheer idea that there were so many projects in various states of completion was stressing me out, I didn't want to knit because it was so overwhelming to figure out what I should work on- so I decided to take the advice and close a few of my own circles.

Firstly, I had to admit defeat. I could not finish all of the projects on the needles and so I had to let some projects move to the frog pile. It's not to say I won't ever attempt these again, but they are no longer weighing on my concience.

Goodbye Doggy Mittens


Goodbye Charade Socks


Getting those two projects off the needles was oddly relieving. Now I can knit knowing that they aren't there, wondering why I haven't worked on them. With those off the needles I'm able to better focus on the projects I do have on hand.

Knitting Therapy, which is delightfully simple to knit, and I love feeling the soft cashmere. Progress is slow but steady, and it's looking like this these days.


I did also start the knee socks that I discussed in my last post. They're a rather slow process also, but I will admit that the colors are tremendously fun. And once I get the calf shaping figured out, I'm on easy street with the rest of the knitting.


AND, yes, I did cast on a new blanket. The baby is due at the end of December and the pattern is also very simple to knit, so I cast on, ready to face the challenges.


Not all my circles are closed, but it feels like my "circle count" is more manageable these days. The sheer act of letting some project go has lifted the weight of my current "to finish pile" and I find myself considerably less overwhelmed with what I do have to knit. (It helps that what I'm knitting is all very simple.) Hopefully this is the sign that projects will again begin flying off my needles and I can stop regaling you with stories of my distraction!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knitting ADD

I have been known, from time to time, to flit around from project to project, trying to see what feels right and what I want to work on. When I have a big project, like a blanket, I’m usually pretty devoted to that project, dreaming about other things, smaller, that I could be knitting. BUT, when I allow myself the time to work on “fun” small projects, it feels as though I have the attention span of a gnat, casting on a few stitches here, then ten seconds later, “OOOOH SHINY”, and I’m distracted to something else.

I have the most crippling case of Knitting ADD (KNAD) right now. I can’t allow myself to cast on anything new. I just can’t- because there are SO MANY things on needles right now that need to be finished. SO many. So instead, I’m so overwhelmed by my projects, I haven’t been knitting at all, just casting a trillion things on and then losing love with them 43.5 seconds later.

Exhibit A: the Charade Socks
At one time- they looked like this.


Then I fooled myself into thinking that I knew how to do an after thought toe and all hell, broke loose, resulting in this.


Now I can’t get the pooling to go as snazzy as it did the first time and so instead I just keep ignoring them. To frog or not to frog…. that is the question?

Exhibit B: the Doggy Mitts of EPIC GAUGE FAIL


I don’t think I have a needle I haven’t knit these with. Finding it too painful to rip out- I upped the needle to US 4 and knit them to this. (How sad that these recommend a US 1… and I keep going up needle sizes!)


Except I know that I’m still kidding myself and these are the tightest mittens knit in the history of faire isle. Any tighter and they’d be bullet proof. They have to be ripped. Again. And instead of facing this reality, I just leave them on the needles, waiting for them to magically correct themselves.

I can’t decide if thicker yarn is going to fix my issues or if I just need to admit defeat.

Exhibit C: Cashmere Therapy


Oh yes, it’s lovely- and this is one of the few projects that I haven’t made an error on. It’s just… well… I’m bored. And every time I knit this (and we’re on skein #2 now so it’s not like I’m not making any progress), I just want to knit something else. I’m also deathly afraid of blocking this, because I have a feeing it’s going to be tricky.

Instead of fighting that urge to cast some thing else on while knitting this shawl- I’m suddenly impulsive.

Exhibit D: Rainbow Socks


Because rainbow plain vanilla socks are more fun than a cashmere shawl apparently. Truthfully I wanted something very, VERY easy to knit while I went on a road trip with the super fun Jocelyn and Anne- so I pulled these out of stash, cast on and made immediate, satisfying progress.

Except my sister mentioned that she wants knee socks (not in reference to these socks, just in general) and now all I can focus on is my OVERWHELMING NEED to rip these out and turn them into knee socks.

Not to mention Exhibit E (Noro Scarf), Exhibit F (Argyle socks) and Exhibit G (Silk Scarf) that have been around so long, I’ve actually gotten used to ignoring them!

I’m also mildly entertaining about throwing an "Exhibit H" into the mix and casting on the next blanket this weekend for a friend due after Christmas.

Why is it when I have a big project I can “buckle down” and be monogamous? But, when it comes to little projects- I’m all over the place? I can't see to pay attention to anything longer than a minute! If you're wondering why blog posts have been light- it's because I'm sitting here in a pile of "Works in Progress" and wondering why I did this to myself!

I blame Ravelry. I wouldn't have this problem of "OOOH shiny! Look at that" if Ravelry didn't tempt me with lovely projects. So with this ranting, I'm off to knit some stuff. What? I don't know- but I have to knit SOMETHING.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thank Goodness

If it seems that the knitting progress has been slow this fall, that's because it has! We were in Chicago over the Thanksgiving weekend (where I visited the lovely Nina shop- so cute!) and I've had some furry friends over providing a cute distraction.


Seriously- how can anyone get anything done with these two around? On the left is Jennie (La Clune) and the right is Miss Etta. Two cute girls who make it hard to knit, because you just want to pet and love them.

But, I did have one and only goal for the weekend. FINISH GOODALE. Thank goodness I had some success!


Pattern: Goodale Cardigan by Cecily Glowick MacDonald
Yarn: Louisa Harding Albero in colorway 4
Needles: US 7
Listening To: (What did I NOT listen too!? Most recently it's been "Room With a View by EM Forrester.)
Notes: I love top down design because you can get the right length in a sweater. I tried this on where the pattern told me to stop for the length and it wasn't long enough for my long torso. SO, I added several rows more to make it longer.


Turned out pretty cute eh? (Please pardon the non-exciting background. The sunlight hours are much shorter these days and this was the best light we could get- in our condo. Also? I hate having my photo taken- so I look glaringly awkward in all of these!)

I'm especially fond of the pockets....


AND the buttons!


(Sheesh.... if you want to see "good photos"... visit the lovely Mags' website. Someday she will come to Calgary and I will make her take photos of everything I have ever knit. I swear!)

You'll notice that I'm only talking about the sweater and not the mittens? The mittens and I have agreed to disagree. And they're currently in time out thinking about all that they've put me through. When they decide to meet gauge and write "I am sorry for causing Jen great distress" 1000 times, I will think about knitting them again.

It's nice to finally, (FINALLY!) have this off the needles and feel like I actually knit something else, without this in the back of my mind going "Jennnnnnn you need to finish your Gooooooooodale!...... And to that? I say Thank Goodness!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Knit Therapy

Well, the exam is done. Was it done well? Um… I guess we find out on Dec 2, but in all honesty, I’m not all that hopeful. That exam was HARD y’all. HARD.

So hard that, after a few errands, I went home and knit silently on the lace (very very easy lace DO NOT BE IMPRESSED!) shawl. The simple act of knitting reminded me that while in that exam, I felt like I knew nothing, I am not an idiot all the time. I’ve managed to get pretty good at this little craft. Anyways, I found the simple act of knitting an easy pattern very enjoyable. My shoulders relaxed, my brain cleared and I just got in a zen state of knitting each row the way it’s supposed to be. This process was made even more pleasurable and more therapeutic by the fact that the yarn is cashmere. It’s so soft people. So very very very VERY soft. Every so often I’ll run my hand over it, feeling the softness. I can’t wait to wear this around my neck!


Also, as a reward for all the self knitting denial and studying I did, I also let myself start a pair of mittens. I was CHOMPING at the bit to knit these. I actually picked up the yarn and held in my hands a few times during the studying, while I fought my brain trying to coax me by saying “just a few rows”… “just a few rows”. (Haha- now I know how Lindsay Lohan feels.) With the exam over with- I cast on with a fervor.

photo 2

(It took me 2 days to figure out the Latvian Braid- but I did, finally!) And then ripped it back and went up a needle size.

photo 3

And then ripped that back and went up another needle size.


And then ripped back the TWICE RIPPED BACK mittens to go up yet another needle size.


And…. I may need to go up again. (On the upside I am a "Latvian Braid MASTER" now.) *sobs* I am DETERMINED to knit these, because once I figure out the right gauge (it might be best not to remind me about gauge swatching right now because I’m feeling a little fragile) these are going to be stunners.

For right now thought, I need to go back to the easy cashmere shawl, I need a little detox from the mittens and that brief little reminder again, that I am capable. (I just have momentary lapses.)

Oh Cashmere shawl… you’re better than any therapist!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Field Trip!

(Make yourself a cup of tea, this is going to be a long, but interesting post!)

Last Friday I took the day off, and MiL and I drove out to Carstairs to check out Custom Woolen Mills. It was a lovely way to spend a day off and a really interesting little trip, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Firstly, I have to admit that the trip did not start off on the right foot. Carstairs is about an hour outside of Calgary, and as we turned off on to a lovely paved highway, we passed a semi, which left us this souvenir of our trip...


Yes. That's an enormous rock chip, that was flung at the car my husband nearly loves as much as he loves me. If one looks on the bright side in these situations, one will be thankful for the fact that the enormous (it was HUGE) rock did not go through the window... taking out my Mother in Law and the fact that it did not bounce off any other part of the car damaging the body.*

We did not let this set back deter our interst in seeing the wool, so we forged ahead- I suppose if something is going to happen to your BMW, the best witness to your innocence in the situation is your Mother in Law!

Driving up on the property we stopped in the shop, where we were told to check out the washing/spinning first. And so, we stepped into the barn with a very SHEEPY smell and checked out the raw wool being washed.


This is not the most beautiful of operating plants I've seen, but it certainly is efficient! The fleece (on the right) is fed into the red machine, and then taken for a very hot steamy, gentle bath throught a long trough. This way the veg matter is mostly washed out and the fleece is cleaned.


Mmmmm clean, wet fleece. The fleece is then dried and moved over to the carding machine to comb it out and create bats.


Don't you just want to jump into that fluffy pile of clean fleece? Look at the fibers in the top right hand corner hanging off the lamp! That cracked both MiL and I up, fiber must get kicked up over time and collect on the lights. (Although one can't help but wonder if that's a fire hazard?) Once the fleece is carded, it's ready for spinning.


MiL and I are not spinners... but you can't help but appreciate the grand scale to which this is done! On the left there are many spools unto which the yarn (looks like it's blue) is spun. Down the middle the spun yarn is then spun into it's weight, the strands joined in double, triple, quatruple etc to make yarn. It's quite the operation.

We also stopped into to check out the sock knitting process. Custom Woolen Mills makes a bunch of machine knit, wool socks for customers. The gentleman demonstrating this showed us the sock knitting machine.


This machine cranks out a long tube of socks that look like this.


My understanding that these machines, when working properly (they apparently tend to break down reasonably often) can crank out up to 200 socks a day. That left both MiL and I feeling highly inadequate in our sock knitting skills! The gentleman in the "Mind Closed Until Further Notice" t-shirt then seperates the socks and sews up the toes and gets them ready for packaging.

After inhaling sheep fumes and getting a really good understanding of what goes into producing yarn, we enjoyed the RARE sunshine outside to check out the barn area and all the fleeces that are waiting to be processed.


There are a lot of fleeces!! These are seperated into different sheep categories like romney, merino etc. ("Insul" is crappy wool that doesn't make nice yarn, so they sell it for insulation.) This wool is labelled with information about where it's from etc. This one in particular caught our attention.


One can't help but wonder what exactly is meant by "Felted Horror" but it certainly made us giggle. I was also particularly compelled to steal this particular bundle.


Newby alpaca. *slobber* It reminds me of the time I knit those alpaca mittens for my father in law and how very soft the yarn was!


We also had a chance to touch and feel various raw fleeces that were there. I have to admit, I love the feel of a raw fleece. All that lovely lanolin in it, it immediately makes your fingers feel so soft to touch. We learned about the different "crimps" in wool and got to feel the difference between a "good fleece" and a "bad fleece".

Rounding out our visist, we also got to step into the store, to be tempted by the various wools they had spun.


I was going to allow myself a purchase, however I had a very specific need in mind. I want to make some cute dog walking mittens for my sister and needed fingering weight yarn. Sadly Custom Woolen Mills didn't have any in that weight- so both MiL and I walked away unscathed.

We had a great time at Custom, despite the "rocky" start. (Bad pun alert!) I think we both found the operation fascinating, and it kind of personalizes the yarn you are buying a little more.

I did end up buying the yarn for my sister's mittens at an impromtu stop at Pudding last Friday. But we can discuss that another day. There has also been knitting progress here at Chateau Nennie.


The Goodale sweater is ready for blocking today, and after I post this, I will be pinning that up! There isn't much left after the blocking, but a Sept finish is looking unlikely. I'm still proud of myself though, I made room for plenty of new fall project beginnings this month and it feels good to be looking forward to something new.


I also started a lace shawl, which I know was against the rules for Sept, but this last Wednesday was just an all round, utterly CRAP day. The only way I could turn the day around was to pull out the cashmere and knit it. Some days are only fixable with the addition of cashmere. That was Wed!

Progress and the opportunity to cast on new projects will be on hold this week, as I prepare to write the CHRP exam. All knitting time will be devoted to studying (SOBS UNCONTROLLABLY). I will not allow myself swatches or ANYTHING for projects I want to cast on for the fall, until after the morning of Oct 2. If you think about it.... send me a little luck that day okay?

*Husband must be credited for handling the news as well as he did. Was he happy? No. But he did not get angry with me, understanding it was not my fault and also choosing to look on the bright side that no one was hurt and that no other part of the car suffered injury. On the downside- the windshield is not repairable- and will need to be replaced.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rain Delay

**Is your name SarahDobbs? See the PS BELOW!**
As promised from before, September is a month to finish things... and true to my word, I've got another "thing" to show you.

Truthfully, I've been trying to show you these since Sept 10th, when they were actually finished but the weather, which can only be described as utterly DISMAL, has been so overcast, and so DARK, that I couldn't get home in time to take a picture in natural light. THERE HAS BEEN NO LIGHT, for so many days.

Thankfully- I have the relief of a finished item distracting me from all the gloomy skies outside!


Pattern: Ellington Socks by Cookie A
Yarn: Estelle Arequipa in colorway 213 Pale Pink
Needles: US 2
Listening To: These have been on the needles since April 11th (!!!), mostly living in my purse. So these socks have listened to a lot of lunch banter between Anne, Mel and myself. But for the final knitting push to finish these, I listened to my latest audio book: One Day by David Nicholls. (PS- I'm Loving It!)
Notes: I knit the "Medium" size for this pattern. They fit well in the leg, but go high up the calves and fit fairly tight. Were I to do it all again- I'd go up a needle size for the cuff, just for extra stretchy room. Also, this pattern is not for the faint of heart. I had more than one "frogging" sessions of "rip it rip it" when it came to this pattern. Cookie's patterns are GREAT, there is nothing wrong with what you purchase, but she sure isn't afraid to challenge you with a big chart or several decreases.

The fronts of these socks are stunners!


And it seems almost criminal to cover up the toes! And well, I have to admit, almost makes me think "I think I'm ok at this knitting thing!"


Lest you should think that the rain delay has delayed any other knitting, Goodale is seeing some healthy progress and maybe, just maybe, starting to inch toward the finished line also!


Hopefully I won't have to wait EIGHT days for a flicker of sunshine to poke through to show you it when it's finished.

Must get back to knitting away furiously to finish up my projects. MiL and I are heading out to Custom Woolen Mills tomorrow for a little field trip and I worry that I could fall off the yarn buying wagon again!

PS- Sarahdobbs, who left me a comment on my blog regarding my leaf blanket, I don't have a way (email, or a blog link) to respond to you! Anyways, on the off chance that you're reading this- I cast on 161 stitches for the blanket in order to do an extra row of leaf repeats. Hope that helps!