Friday, June 30, 2006
It's hard to get a decent picture of her, seeing how I chose to work her in NAVY BLUE. The original design is from Alice and Jade Starmore's "The Children's Collection", with an amendment purchased through Virtual Yarns. The finished gansey will be a classic - something I'll be able to wear for years to come. Geez, the damn thing is so dense (and I don't mean dense as in a can short of a six-pack) that it'll probably keep out the rain better than my MEC raincoat... And warmer too, I might add. But the problem - she's a bitch to knit, pardon my french.
I. Cannot. Get. Past. The. Miles. Of. Freakin'. Stockinette.
Knitsters, it's brutal. I don't know what it is. When it comes to plain stocking stitch, I'm OK as long as it's some nifty variegated yarn, or at least color changes from time to time. Want to make Brigitte's lower lip tremble? Make me knit stockinette in 100% cotton. I admire anyone who can work almost exclusively in st st. But, this is just proving to be demoralizing! At the end of the day, the dark blue makes me drowsy, and even though I've been knitting for a couple of hours, I don't feel as though I've accomplished anything. The specs on Western Seas: 5-ply authentic gansey yarn - AS "Scottish Fleet" (it may make a lovely piece of fabric, but cashmere it ain't), 296 sts knit in the round on 3mm, with a tension of 30st and 40 rows to 10cm. For the body, which is the kick in the teeth part, I need to work approx. 30cm (about 12") of stocking stitch above the border section before hitting THE GUSSET, dammit. Oh, yay, there'll be more stitches to work then! Do the math. I don't have the heart. I've managed about only oh, 5" in about 4 months... What the hell was I thinking.
So, it's hard to motivate myself to want to pick it up and say - 'hey Brigitte, let's work on breaking your spirit tonight'... But, it is a gansey that deserves to be made! Kind of making it difficult on myself, isn't it? Which is why I said to myself - 'Self, time to get you to the MLC Knit-a-Long'. Put it out in the open. Commit yourself to ONE NIGHT a week (with any luck, my support pager will go off on those nights...but I digress) of working on Western Seas, and be forced to report in on your progress once a week. I know there's my blog, but I need someone to shame me into progress.
There you have it. I think Western Seas will be posted on the "Misery Loves Company" blog today, so look out for it! *sigh*
Also, a BIG THANK YOU for all of your good wishes! I am feeling much better, and have learned my lesson...
Hey! It's Canada Day tomorrow!
Happy Canada Day from myself and the Little Dudes to you!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
A BIG thank you should go to the very talented Marina! But not for a knitting thing - I snagged a link from her site to Thur's Templates, a site that gives those on Blogger a few more template options. I wasn't satisfied with what I had, and this layout works out much better for me. Once I get my ass in gear, I'll also be able to list my FO's. Not bad! Thanks Marina (even though you had no idea I clicked on your link and took advantage of the freebie)!
I did manage some really good stuff this weekend!
A little bit of everthing! On top - Hanne Falkenberg's Diva. I started one of the sleeves. You first knit the cuff, done on the bias, and then pick up the stitches for the sleeve 'body'. Looking good! It's hard to believe that there are no funny instructions for the sleeve. It's just, well, a sleeve. With normal shaping. Wow Hanne, what a concept.
Then, below that, we have the lovely Diva. She is now good as new, and only about 10 rows short of the shoulder grafting. You would never know she decided to tousle with Atticus. She's sailing along nicely...
Amphora was not worked on this weekend. Just because.
This and that...
So, I came across an interesting quote on Hanne Falkenberg's site. She's discussing how she developed her knitwear style, and has this to say about her concepts:
"...expresses my emancipation from the expectations of the ever impatient fashion world craving for novelties."
Hanne - bravo! My sentiments exactly. Although I don't have a collection (duh), you can easily replace the dotted section at the beginning of the quote with "my knitting style"... I went through a period of time where all I worked on was what I saw in magazines and my LYS. Usually based on whatever novelty yarn was being most prominently displayed in the store. I ended up dumping most of the completed stuff in a corner, and forgetting about it. Or, never finishing it at all. Then, I zeroed in on the stuff I enjoy working the most - Fair Isles, Arans, and the likes - and I really discovered my niche. OK, so as a result my visits to the LYS are few and far between now, that doesn't mean that I'm not slowly but surely draining my finances on yarn!
Just a thought...
Have you had a look at Anne's blog recently? She has some incredible How-To's on knitting up button bands and necklines. You can be sure I'll be referencing those entries when I work Ophelia and Amphora's necklines. I told her that she should be posting those How-To's to her Fair Isle 101 pages on She Ewe Knits, they are that helpful!
And - Wendy also has yet another couple of great entries on fearless steeking and just the coolest way to steek your buttonband in order to knit it completely in the round! If you have your doubts about cutting through your knits - don't! I've never had any issues with it, and Wendy will really put your mind at ease.
So, between Anne's picking up tutorial, and Wendy's button band cheat sheet... It goes to show you that we knitters can ALWAYS learn something new!
My stomach is still somersaulting, so I will end this now. I hope everyone has a great day!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I did miss the DKC though *heave sob* :( . Bell Canada not only bumped me to a later time slot, they came too late... I think they know I work for the "competition"... We don't offer local service in Ontario, only in Manitoba. 'Cause if we did... Anne - I feel for you! Bell can be trying, can't they?!
What's a girl to do? Yes, I did pay for the Doritos (Chris, you'd be surprised where they hide the wheat-ingredients...). Why, you look for something gluten-free to make while waiting for Bell to arrive:
I love you Bob's Red Mill.
And, by staying home, I did get to spend some quality time with the Little Dudes. Atticus (why, yes he is a little hellion) and I have agreed to disagree on the shape of Ophelia's neckline. She has been fixed, and is recovering until my replacement 3.25 DPN's arrive from Elann.com.
When he was a wee little Dude of 4 months (he's 8 years old now), I went home to Ottawa for my best friend's wedding. I came home with a pile of her mother's yummy wedding fruitcake, wrapped up in Saran Wrap, a doily and a bit of ribbon. They were for the guests, and she sent me home with the extras. Anyhoo, one day before work, I set a couple of them on the window sill in the kitchen to defrost. I had forgotten about them when I came home, but did notice white pieces of paper all over the place. What else was new with a male kitten? Probably shredded a Kleenex from the bathroom.
Well, that night while playing with him, I noticed he smelled, well, spicy. Like nutmeg. Then I remembered about the fruitcake I set out that morning.
That was gone. Don't ask me how he managed to unwrap it, and eat the cake. All I ever found was one piece of Saran Wrap, and the ribbon. That's it. That's all.
And that's how I found out that yes, he could jump up onto the counter. My Atticus. He's the sweetest cat; when Mae was a baby, he was very gentle and patient with her (he was a year old when I adopted her) , but he's done some of the FUNNIEST things over the years!
I also did some sock knitting yesterday.
Nifty, eh? They're made from Trekking XXL, knit on 2.25mm's using Wendy's Generic Toe-Up sock pattern. My second pair of socks! I love that the stripes are all over the place. The fact I have tiny little size 6 feet, I have enough left over for a second pair.
Feeling mighty fine, I started another pair.
This one is Fleece Artist's Basic Merino Socks. Aren't they BRIGHT and COLORFUL?! I love it! They're worked on 2.5's - and hey would you look at that, longer DPN's. Why can't I find my long DPN's when I need them, and my shorter ones when I need them?!
I'm thinking I'll restart them, using 2.25's though. I have that "feeling" knitters get when you just know it's not right. I have around 1" done, and they are looking a bit loose, despite working the smallest size. Oh hell, I may even just work them in Wendy's pattern too, now that I think about it. I'll just try my hand at somethink funky when I get to the leg. Any ideas?
Have you heard about...
A month or so ago, I could have sworn I saw a commercial on TV for Ziploc STORAGE BAGS!!! I'm pretty sure they were on a Canadian channel... But do you think I can find them anywhere? Um, was I dreaming? Has anyone else seen this? I mean, I feel downright guilty using my regular Ziploc's for food storage! C'mon Ziploc, don't play with me. I have plans for my stash you know...
Ok, that's weird Brigitte... I'm one of those organizational freaks...
It's all good...so says Baby Mae
"Man, those Brownies were good... Almost as good as the fruitcake...".
OK, must go, Amphora's a calling. And no, I have not abandoned Diva, I just need a bit of Hanne deprogramming before I can start up again.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Right, not a good day Knitsters.
Work? Crap. I mean, I'm fortunate I work with a fabulous bunch of people, but some days... and some people.
Commute home? Crap. Decided on the express bus vs. the train. Dumbass decision on my part. Ended up taking longer than I thought it would.
Ophelia? Little Dude Atticus hooked his nail on one of the stitches on the stitch holder. Guess what snapped and unraveled? Guess who nearly threw up? No, not Atticus... Guess what I have to restart just below the neckline thanks to it being tinked back for me, free of charge?
Oh, then Bell Canada came by to install service for my new neighbour next door. Guess who's service they accidentally disconnected? No, not hers. Guess who has to wait for them to arrive tomorrow between 9am - 5pm to fix it? They left, not realizing they cut my line.
Guess who'll not be paying for this repair?
I had Doritos for dinner. You know it was a crappy day if I, a celiac, had forbidden Doritos for dinner. And they were good, dammit. Guess who'll pay tomorrow?
But - all is not lost! Hey, go have a peek at Wendy's Mara by AS - very cool. And - tomorrow is Downtown Knit Collective night! Which is very good, because I get to sit with the cool, in-crowd - Anne and Lorraine (oh she of the envious FI book collection).
Wow - I'm so "aw shucks" at your comments on Amphora! Thanks! She is a very entrancing knit - it's amazing that four colours can create such an amazing design. You just zip through it quickly. Oh, and Rachel H.? I will somehow bring you over to the FI Dark Side, seeing how you hooked me on socks...
(Now, a moment of silence for the Edmonton Oilers...*sniff*)
Here's to a much better day tomorrow (one where I'll be able to LOAD PICTURES successfully - what's up with that?)!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The poor Little Dudes:
Well, how has the weekend been?
So, here's the scoop.
I couldn't find my longer 3.25 DPN's, so I couldn't start tackling the arms on Ophelia (!). What's a girl to do? No Fair Isle? The thought made me kind of twitchy and weird. So, I turned to Lorraine for guidance. Uh huh.
I asked her to try to "talk" to me out of starting Jade Starmore's Amphora.
She was very effective.
What?? No knitting and no Fair Isle make Brigitte something something...
Oh, Amphora how do I love thee?! Ooooo baby! She is moving along quickly - there are only 4 colours in total, and color changes every 3-4 rows or so. My thumb is holding down the hem facing. No ribbing!
How is it that it can be 34C outside, and I'm inside happily knitting 2-ply Shetland wool? Guess it's all for the love of Fair Isle, isn't it? I love my arans - particularly my current WIP Arangenser, however - it's 6-ply heavy Norwegian wool knit on 5.5mm. Not always a good idea when the weather threatens to felt the yarn on the needle... Fair Isle? I can work no matter the weather (not always comfortably, but what always is?!).
Are we FI junkies a little...I don't know...obsessed?! Not that it's a bad thing...
Thursday, June 15, 2006
You're either comfy like Atticus.
Or you're comfy, as Baby Mae.
Take your pick.
Your repeat either looks like this (top of Ophelia - heart motif):
Which is the way it's supposed to look.
Or it looks like this:
Like crap. The repeat is a p/bb/pp/b/pp/bb with the pp's being pattern colours and the bb's being the background colours. Only on this round (only in the back), I reversed the two. Kinda stands out like a sore thumb when the colours are (dark) Mulberry and (light) Blossom. I'll be duplicate stitching (do-able, right Lorraine?!)...oh yay.
I managed to get up to the left shoulder grafting of Diva last night (or was that this morning) before I had to work on that "other job" (the one that pays. Sheesh.).
Voila mes amies:
Looks harmless, right?! She's SUCKING YOU IN!!!
Close up of short rows:
I keep reminding myself what a Master of Technique Hanne Falkenberg is. How she can do a complete jacket with NO seaming (other than the arms) complete with a shawl collar and colour changes in ONE piece is a feat in itself. To anyone who can truly appreciate the artistry and beauty of traditional knitting (I do place her in this realm, as her designs are timeless), she is in a league of her own.
Why her instructions have me regularly heaving my guts is another thing altogether. Kinda like not being able to look away from a car crash.
But, Carrie K. - I'd still work another of her designs. Just not right away. I have Mermaid in my stash, and I love Tivoli.
So, I will plug away further tonight. Or, I may just say "damn you Hanne, I have feelings you know!", and work on Arangenser.
Yarn purchased at Nordic Fibre Arts, one of my favourite sites! Go have a peek, and say Hi to Debbie, she runs a great online shop and is one of the only sites I know of where I can pick up the necessaries for projects from Norskstrikkedesign and Poetry In Stitches. Two AMAZING Scandinavian books - with all the beauty of nordic design and the pain of Scandinavian steeks!
Could you ask for more?!!
Either you do, or you don't.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
*sigh* I keep telling myself that my day job pays for my knitting... Right? Right?
Knitsters, it's 11:55pm on Wednesday, and I'm at my desk at work, waiting for the signal from techie, geeky people (really nice ones though!) to start my own equally techie, geeky stuff. I have food, magazines, my current sock project, and HF Diva. Oh, and I forgot my camera. Dammit! I was going to post some lovely, artsy pictures of Diva reclining on my filing cabinet...so much for that.
I'm still working on the left collar of Diva. Yes. The left side. Hello, have you met Hanne Falkenberg? She'll chew you up, spit you out, then pick you up, clean you off and brush your hair, then kick you in the ass again. And yet, you keep going back for more. I keep looking at the collar, marvelling at how she can calculate the right amount of "regular" rows (of which there are laughably few in this design), short rows and decreases and turn it into a graceful arc of a shawl collar. That's how she does it! She sucks you in with the pretty pictures, and then you CAN'T turn away! It's like smack! One hit and you're hooked!
And then there's the right side! Yippee! I think I'll work on an arm next.
You know, at this point if Diva turns out NOT to fit me - I'll make her fit me. Believe me.
Ophelia and I had a bit of a falling out on the weekend. She somehow messed up one of her repeats, and didn't let me know! The nerve! So, we'll be duplicate stitching half a row. I didn't affect the rest of the pattern, as I picked up on it on the next round, and knit it "properly". Just makes the whole repeat look kinda funky... I'll show you next post what I mean.
Right, I'm off to the vending machine for some Mountain Dew Energy. This tea is wimpy...
Good night Knitsters!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
OK. Just look at that wee puppy! All of 2.2 lbs, and he just loves his Auntie Brigitte! Meet Finnegan, my sis and sis-in-law's new puppy. He's a 'Shitzpoo' (oh, I hope I got the spelling on that), and an adorable little fur ball, despite what his breed name may suggest! He came by for a visit yesterday, to meet me and his cousins, Atticus and Mae.
They were suitably unimpressed at his presence.
Mae hid, and Atticus sniffed, hissed, and thought the new fan was more interesting.
What a little bundle of energy! His cousins bought him some presents (no, really they did) - with their Mom's influence of course:
Sheepie is pretty much the same size as Finney. They tousled a la Star Trek "Amok Time", and, well, Finney won, although Sheepie did put up a good battle. Puppy dominance has been asserted.
He was a most welcome guest (oh, and his Moms too!), and certainly brought a lot of smiles and laughs. Look at that little face!
Both Divas were out yesterday, although wee Finney cut short their progress. Ophelia is ready for a neckline, and the HF Diva is getting a short-row collar. Once again, Hanne F. reminds me why she does what she does... The instructions seem a bit convoluted, however once you place your trust in them, they all make sense. And it is nowhere near as daunting as it first seems. It will be interesting to see how the combination of short-row shaping and decreases will turn into half a shawl collar.
I did promise some cable stories, but I haven't taken any pictures of the WIP's and FO's. However, I do want to introduce you to another WIP - Western Seas by Alice Starmore.
I'm not posting a picture of my own until I can figure out how to best show the colour. And here's my question to you - do you find that working with certain colours has an effect on your productivity? Seriously. I love this gansey - it's a beautiful, classic design, an easy knit, however... I chose to work it in navy blue, and I find that despite the proper lighting - this blue makes me drowsy! I can't seem to work on it more than an hour or so before my eyes start drooping. At first I thought that it was simply fatigue, until I remembered that I used to experience the same drowsiness when working St. Brigid (also from the talented Alice Starmore, Aran Knitting). I worked it using her 3-ply Hebridean, in the Limpet shade. A dark heathered purple...
Not that it would ever stop me from working with these colours! Part of the process, I suppose.
To partially combat the problem, I taught myself how to knit continental. One half of Fair Isle stranding is continental after all, so why not just use that method with this yarn? It's not that much quicker than my regular style, but the tension works out, and I'm able to look away for longer periods of time and not worry about dropping a stitch. Because Western Seas? She has some looooong stretches of stockinette, let me tell you. A painful 34cm... which may not seem too bad, but when your knitting it on 296 sts a round, with a tension of 30 sts and 40 rows to 10cm... Well now. I'm not a straight stockinette girl, unless it's broken up by something else. I never feel like I'm accomplishing anything, know what I mean?
However, Western Seas will be finished, even if I have to teach the Little Dudes how to knit. She's a lovely design, I just have to get through the body... There are so many other Starmores to work...
Knitsters, I want to once again thank you for stopping by! Hey, I hope the weather is as fantastic where you are as it is here in Toronto. It's a lovely 15C outside (not sure on the F equivalent), sunny and breezy. A bit chilly, but I am not complaining. This is perfect for me. I suffer from fibromyalgia, and the humidity of summer usually means a lot of discomfort for me. So far, June has been stellar!
In closing -
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I figured there'd be a lot of different things I could ramble on about, and then I said to myself - "Self, you've too many WIP's,". And you know the battle I face each day, trying to prevent myself from starting something new (socks DON'T COUNT). Get 'em out in the open, and they cease being neglected, in a twisted sort of way. Acknowledge them. So, I thought I'd introduce you to two of my current loves...
A Diva, and "the" Diva.
"Ophelia" is just a beautiful design that I purchased from Anne at She Ewe Knits. Here she is in all her (partial) glory! OK, so she's above... Ophelia sprung from the fertile design imagination of Lorraine the Knitting Hammy! So, go check out Anne's online shop, and have a peek at Lorraine's other designs - go, go. I'll wait.
(La la la la la...doo de doo...)
See? What did I tell you? Aren't they marvelous? Did you check out "Fair Rosamund" and "Windsor Waistcoat"? Ophelia is a joy to knit - the colours work well together, the pattern flows and is 'logical'. Know what I mean? There's rhyme to her reason. It works so beautifully, that you can't help but be so thrilled with the outcome. I love a good Fair Isle pattern that makes me smile after each round... She does become a bit of a diva when the weather gets to be a bit humid though. She tends to not want to cooperate, so I don't push her too much, and let her rest in her basket 'til such time as she feels she can be worked on comfortably.
(OK. Lovin' my projects just a bit much...)
And then there's THE "Diva", in the colours as shown. Don't be fooled! She may be a garter stitch, but she's a devil in sheep's clothing! I mean, I love Hanne Falkenberg - she's original, and her designs attract this traditional knitter, with their tiny needle, 2-ply wool construction. I can certainly see myself, in a fit of intoxication maybe, purchasing more of her kits. However, she's not for the faint of heart. There really should be a warning sign on her patterns. IT NEVER ENDS. Sweet DPN's. You will knit through some funky instructions, and then...just when you think the end is near...there they are. The next funky steps. It. Never. Ends. Keep in mind that she designs so that finishing is minimal, and you are knitting and shaping in ways you never thought possible. And you really do need to read ahead. Because it's rare you're only executing one set of instructions at a time. Which in itself is not unusual in a knitting pattern, but this stuff is short row/decreasing/colour-changing on a full moon/ridge counts if your cat is orange vs. grey kind of stuff. OK, not quite, but you know what a mean. Phew.
Try not to cry! It can be confusing, but trust her! She does know what she's doing, even though it may seem like phooey at times. You will cry (not a Starmore cable chart kind of tear), but you will heave a few sobs. But it is SOOOOO worth it. Just when you think that's the dumbest instruction you've ever read and no way will it work - Diva turns around, slaps you upside the head and says "See?", told you I'd work.
And I love every stitch of her. Which is why she's a Diva. I can't wait to knit her sister, Mermaid. Eventually.
Hey - guess where I picked them up? I ordered them from the Cucumber Patch in the UK. Great prices - you can get most of HF's designs from them, and they are cheaper as well - even when you factor in GST and the screwing you get in duty when you pick up the package from Canada Post.
As I was looking through some new baby puppy pics of my sis and sis-in-law's new, well, baby puppy (Finnegan!), I realized that the little Dudes I share my apartment with were ignoring me. Of course, only when they weren't being fed. Then it dawned on me! I didn't post their pics! Jeez...
So, without further ado:
Here's my fuzzy buddy Atticus - he's a bit blurry right here, I'm no gifted photographer, 'kay? He may be considered a "senior" cat at 8 years old, but he's still a kitten to me!
And his sister, my little baby Mae.
Don't mind the dust and my Organic Food delivery box. I get pictures of her when I get pictures of her! She's also considered a "senior", at 7 years old. Both came from the same mother cat, and were the runts of their litters. They came to live with me after spending their first weeks with a nice lady here at work, who then let me adopt them.
They make me smile and laugh everyday! And swear!
Up next - cables. And not just the Starmore kind. You can be sure there will be some Starmore content too!
So, thanks for stopping by!
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
My little corner to talk all I want about my love for the beauty of traditional knitting - Fair Isles and Stranded, Arans, guernseys, the occasional lace project (and I do mean occasional), and of course, socks.
After years of knitting what seemed to be for the sake of knitting, I decided to focus almost exclusively on what I knew rewarded, challenged, and brought me the most satisfaction and joy.
Call me a Hard Core Traditionalist.My influences?
Well, first, my mother. She patiently taught me how to knit over 25 years ago, and although she passed away in 1996, I always feel her near when I'm working on a new project. And I never fail to ask her opinion of a finished object. I'd like to think she approves.
Can we be influenced by a fellow Blogger? Yes! While googling "Scandinavian steeks" (yeah, I go for the jugular), I came across Wendy Knits!. My first blog hit, and what a jackpot! Here was someone who knit the same stuff I loved to knit, and she was cool to boot! She certainly knew what she was talking about, and loved to share this wealth of knowledge. How could you not be excited?!
My favourites designers - Alice and Jade Starmore. Virtual Yarns - my happy, happy place. Where I swear they know me by name. The loveliest garments ever created from wool... The most satisfying knits I have ever worked.
My other Happy Place - She Ewe Knits. Long before I met Anne, I'd often visit the site, learn from Anne's excellent Fair Isle 101 pages, and 'plan' my next projects. In an upcoming post I will put up some pictures of my current FI project purchased at She Ewe Knits, and designed by Lorraine The Knitting Hammy herself!
And I have so many very cool friends and family who have listened and nodded as I rambled on and on and on and on about knitting, yarn, knitting, steeks, knitting, hey-is-that-handmade?, knitting, cables, knitting, dammit-a-dropped-stitch, knitting, can-I-work-on-my-socks-during-the-conference-call?, and well... What? Oh, like you don't as well...
You do. Which is why you're here! And I hope you'll be back.
Always remember that anything worth doing...is worth doing well!