Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Travel Knitting

Well, my multiple weddings and receptions are finally behind me. As much as I enjoyed everything, I am exceedingly glad to be finished "getting married" so that I can now enjoy "being married". But I'm not entirely done yet; we've still got the honeymoon coming up. We're leaving for Japan on Friday and I have to make some tough decisions fast. The toughest decision, of course, is what knitting to pack.

I've been working away at socks, as planned, for the last few weeks, but I've only managed to finish that one pair of Spring Forward socks from Knitty; I grafted the toes on the subway this morning. I got a few more rows in on Arwen this last week, but it's painfully clear that I will not have it finished in time to wear it in Japan. I may take it as a project to work on, if I can get over my aversion to doing finishing work while travelling (not to mention my fear of not bringing enough yarn to finish it, or bringing too much and having to carry it around, taking up room that could be used to buy new yarn).

I was planning to start another pair of socks to work on, since socks make good travel knitting, but a voice in the back of my head has been whispering "a small sweater would be so nice to knit on trains". I contemplated Hey Teach! but the moment passed; it is still in my Ravelry queue, but I just don't think it's right for this trip. Then, while catching up on the Yarn Harlot blog from this weekend, I noticed that she had linked to the February Lady sweater and I think I'm a smitten as she is. For some reason I've never been that keen on the February Baby sweater, although it is in my queue as something that looks like it would be a good pattern to knock off if I ever needed a baby sweater toute suite. But as a grown-up sweater, and with the shaping the designer has added to it, I find it very fetching.

As a top-down raglan, it would be easier to travel with than Arwen, which is currently in 3 parts stored together in the clear plastic packaging that my bed linen came in (you know, the kind with the zipper? They make excellent knitting project holders!). Knitting something that's completely in one piece would give me the satisfaction (not to mention KIP wow factor) of knitting a full sweater, without the seaming or keeping track of pieces that Arwen would require. Wince we're backpacking, this is important, as we don't have the structure of suitcases to keep things organized: just one big chasm of a bag to stuff clothes into between destinations.

Of course, I'll still pack some sock yarn and a pattern, and I need to pick up some bamboo circs in case I feel like working on them on the plane, but I think I've found my travel project. I just need to choose yarn and swatch sometime between now and Friday. I'm still trying valiantly to knit from stash (I say "valiantly" because I noticed on the way home from work the other day that Knit Boutique is having a sale), so I'm going to see if I have anything that would be good for this. However, I'm not averse to picking up some Dream in Colour at Lettuce Knit if it comes to it. :)

Until next we knit!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick mid-weddings post

We had the first wedding on Saturday. Nyron and my maid of honour and her fiance and Nyron's parents and I flew into Halifax Friday morning for the rehersal that night. The wedding was just wonderful and, aside from me blanking momentarily on my vows, everything went off without a hitch. I'd go into detail, but it's better to let pictures tell the story; our photographer put a selection of the photos up on his blog.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Honeymoon dreams

For almost the whole length of our engagement, we had decided that we were going to go to Ecuador.  I lived there for a year as a high school exchange student 10 years ago and I've been dying to go back.  But when we actually priced the trip, we realized that we wouldn't be able to afford to go to the Galapagos while we're there; it would almost double to cost of our trip.  We didn't want to go and not be able to include such an important part, so we decided to postpone going to Ecuador until we can afford the trip we really want.  Which left us, with only a month before our scheduled time off, suddenly without a honeymoon destination.  After a few days of deliberation, tallying up the pros and cons of various possible locals, we finally picked the perfect place: Japan.

We're going to spend 2 weeks backpacking around Japan, starting in Tokyo, where I have a friend who lives just outside the city, and traveling around the various islands. We want to focus on seeing some landmarks of anime, including the Studio Ghibli Museum, I want to check out some of that awesome crafts stuff there and I've already started looking up yarn stores in Japan.  Another thing of knitting note, is that in many places in Japan, visitors are expected to take their shoes off before entering many buildings.  How could a sock knitter worth her salt give up such an opportunity to gratuitously show off fabulous socks?  So I'm doing some serious sock knitting in preparation.  Also, I'm trying to get Arwen finally finished, since I'll need something nice and cozy to wear in the Japanese Autumn.

Any suggestions, from people who have been to Japan?  I've also got to decide on my travel knitting.  Any thoughts?

Until next we knit!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Final Countdown

For a lot of you, of course, this would mean the countdown to Christmas and the deadline for all the Christmas knitting. But for me, it’s a much sooner countdown; the countdown to the wedding, which is now less than a month away (for the first one, at least). It’s been going full force at the Ali-Barnard household (soon to be the Ali household) to get everything done. Most things are being done jointly; we’re both making all the invitations by hand and making sure that the right invitations get sent to the right people at the right address for the right event, Nyron’s driving me around to meet up with his mom for dress-fittings and such, and we’re both trying to find some cuddle-time in and amongst all this. But some things are all me, and that’s the knitting.

Knitting the wedding flowers has been a huge undertaking. It took me over a month just to make all the corsages and boutonnieres, which are made using the Cabbage Rose pattern (for the corsages) and the American Beauty Rose (for the boutonnieres) from Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Flowers and 3 of the small leaves on each.



I’m now trying to do a bouquet for each of my bridesmaids and one for myself. The bouquets are a mix of the 2 flower patterns, each with 2 of the small leaves and a 5-stitch i-cord stem (35 stitches long). I can make about 2 in a day on my way to and from work, so they’re coming along, but I have to decide how I’m going to wrap them. I’d thought about the idea of doing a filet crochet wrap for at least mine using a rose pattern that was my great-grandmother’s signature pattern. I’m still holding out hope for this idea but I don’t know if I’ll get it done on time, not least because I’ve never done filet crochet before and I’m not as experienced with crochet in general as I am with knitting. We’ll see. For at least the bridesmaids’ (and for mine if I don’t get the crochet done) I have some fabric that I bought in my wedding colours to pass around to my bridesmaids to help them find their dresses, so I’ll cut that into strips and use them to wrap the bouquets together.

I’ve just started spinning the yarn for my garter, as well. I’m pretty sure I’m going to use the pattern in the Spring 2008 issue of Spin-off. I’ve drafted it super thin and it’s coming out quite nice. It’s still not as even as I’d like it to be, but I’m getting better. I’d love to take the spinning workshop in Haliburton, but each level is a week of full-day classes, so I doubt I can get the time off work for that.

The reason for the long blog absence (and this ungodly long entry) is that my brother Tim and his girlfriend Ally were visiting all last week. It’s always fun to have Tim visit and I’m really glad Ally could come, too, not only because she keeps Tim entertained while I’m at work. Ally’s the one who asked me to knit the dog sweaters for her and her siblings’ dogs. Apparently, she got a luke warm reaction to the idea when she mentioned it to one of her sisters, so she changed her order - which is fine because I was worried about getting such a large order done by Christmas. Instead, she’s now asked for cabled baby scarves for her niece and soon-to-be-born nephew. I sat her down with some of my stitch dictionaries and let her choose the designs for each scarf. I also took her to Lettuce knit so she could pick out the yarn and she made an excellent choice: Blue Sky Alpaca’s Baby Alpaca in a light pink and blue. I’ve always wanted to work with Blue Sky but until now hadn’t had an excuse. These will be much quicker to knit post-wedding than 4 large dog sweaters and will be a welcomed change to knitting a mountain of cotton flowers!

Until next we knit!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More knitting reminders

Just as the yarn editor on Ravelry reminded me of my poor, unassigned yarn, Yarn Harlot has reminded me of a pattern I want to knit. Back in July I queued the Hibiscus for Hope sock pattern. The designer is asking for donations for the Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer in order to receive the pattern. I queued it in Ravlery with the intention of making a donation to get the pattern and then promptly forgot about it. Luckily Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has been knitting it while travelling through Newfoundland and has reminded me of my forgotten pledge to - well - pledge. So that has been done and I should be receiving the pattern soon; although it will be a while before I will be able to knit it.

Which brings me to elaborating on some of the things I mentioned in the last post. I not only post on this blog, but also on Stashalong and Homespun Helpers, so I sometimes write on this blog and mention projects without realizing that I haven't spoken about them here before. :) So, about these dog sweaters. On the long weekend recently my parents flew me to Nova Scotia so that I could participate in the tasting for the wedding caterers, as well as a few other wedding things and just to generally get out of the city and relax for a few days. While there, I met my brother's new girlfriend (well, new to me, anyway, since I hadn't met her before).

Although it had been absent from the public view for some time, and it is well out of season for it, my brother has recently been proudly displaying a shadow scarf that I knit for him a number of years ago. It's one of those scarves like the Alien Scarf in Stitch 'n Bitch, where head-on it just looks like stripes but at an angle you see a design. For a while I was making these custom on consignment and it had all started when I made that scarf (with marijuana leaves as the hidden design) for Tim for Christmas.

Just as before, the presence of that scarf is generating interest in my knitting among friends and family. Tim's friend who is in sales and marketing expressed interest in marketing my knit designs. When I went home, I suggested to Tim that if his friend wanted to market something, that we consider working on dog sweaters knit in traditional fisherman styles. Not only do we have a friend in marketing, but we also have a friend who runs a pet store, and traditional fisherman styles in anything is generally a hit in the Maritimes. When Ally heard my suggestion, she got very excited. It turns out, her family once found a group of 4 chocolate lab puppies abandoned on the side of the road in Arizona. They divided the puppies among her and her siblings, who live all over North America, and there is a very good chance that all 4 puppies will be reunited in Nova Scotia this Christmas when the siblings and their families come together. So as soon as I'm finished knitting for the wedding, I have to immediately cast on to make 4 dog sweaters for rather large (now full-grown) chocolate labs! What do I get myself into! :)

Until next we knit!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Ravelry does it again!

There is no end to the ways that Ravelry helps me with my knitting!  If only I didn't have this damned day job, I could stay at home and knit up everything in my queue!  What magic has it performed this time?  Well, let me tell you.

I decided to go on the computer while Nyron was playing Soul Caliber IV, which I attempted to play with him, but all that mindless button-mashing started to hurt my hands, so I gave up my controller and now he's trying to see if he can put together the most ridiculous costume possible in the Character Customizer.  So, obviously, I needed something to occupy myself.  After checking my email, I went on Ravelry, as I do almost by reflex now when I find myself online without a specific goal.  In the upper corner was the welcome flashing that indicates that I had a message.  One of the lovely yarn editors had been editing the entry for Fleisher's Shetland Floss and was asking if she could use my stash photo, since I'm the only person who has it stashed.  It's a discontinued yarn that I received in quantity from a woman on Freecycle.  It has been sitting in my stash since last fall without even a thought to what it could become.

Seeing the yarn's site on Ravelry got me thinking about possible patterns for it.  Since no one else on Ravlery has this yarn (which makes it feel kind of special) I couldn't go browsing through the projects as I normally would.  Ravelry hasn't yet added a feature where you can look up the yarn patterns that a yarn has been published in instead of just what it's been used for so I decided to do a quick google search.  It wasn't long before I found a website on vintage patterns (just one) that mentioned  pattern that this yarn company published to go along with this yarn.  It's quite cute, too, and because it was published in the early 1920s it's in the public domain (in the US, anyway, which is where the blog is published) so she posted the pattern.  I've queued it so that when I'm done the wedding flowers and the socks for Yarn Smackdown and the dog sweaters that my brother's girlfriend commissioned (I think I'm getting ahead of myself, I'll go into detail about these in a later post).

When next we knit!


The post with lots of pictures

My first charity sweater is now completely finished. I also did my first button holes that weren't just K2tog YO. I just cast off some stitches and then cast them back on on the way back. Of course, they didn't look so good at first:

I had to go over them with some crochet stitches to straighten them out:

There, that's much better. Here's the finished sweater.

For some reason, it's not uploading to blogger very well so It's hard to see the stitch design. You can check it out on Ravelry.

I've also go some spinning done lately.

With some help from Spirit, of course:

What a good little spinner kitty! I've drafted my next batch, some lovely purple top my mom bought me in Nova Scotia (although the fiber is from New Zealand). The different colours came apart so neatly that I decided to draft them individually and then spin them together randomly to see what kinds of purple stripes I get when I ply.

Updates coming soon on the Baby Surprise Jacket and my wedding flowers.

Until next we knit!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Secret Pal Question #6

For some reason, I haven't been getting any of the previous 5 questions that my Secret Pal hostess has sent to all of us, but I did get this one so I think I should answer it. The question is: What kind of knitting do you like to take on vacation? This is very good timing because I am going to Nova Scotia in August to get some more wedding stuff done, so I will soon be tackling this very issue myself. Most people automatically say "socks ans shawls" and that's all well and good. I definitely have at least one small project (or a large project that's still small in size) for when I'm travelling around within my destination, but I have no problem pulling out a big sweater in progress on a plane, especially if it's a long trip, or packing it in my suitcase to work on if I'm just going to visit family. The last knitting I took on a plane was the Rocketry sweater for Amy's baby Grace and I discovered that the armrests of airplane seats are excellent for winding remaining yarn into skeins.

For this trip east, since it's only a 2 hour plane ride, I'll probably take something more portable. I like taking things that are simple enough that I can watch the satellite TV that they have in airplanes now (isn't technology wonderful?! Gone are the days when we actually have to talk to our fellow passengers). I'll definitely have the purple sweater done by today or tomorrow, so I won't be taking that. I'd like to try making the baby surprise jacket on the thinnest baby weight yarn I own on really tiny needles to see if it comes out preemie-sized so I might bring that along. I may also bring the Spring Up socks, which I have almost definitely decided to rip back to the cuffs and re-knit including those 2 rows of stocking stitch that I forgot. I know for sure I'll be bringing Mom's Lighthearted Leaves scarf, if only because she's convinced that I'll never get anything knit for her completed and I want her to see me working on it. :)

Until next we knit!