Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spinning on a rented wheel

The rental spinning wheel at Lettuce Knit finally became available so yesterday Nyron drove to work so that we could pick it up and take it home. I've rented it for 2 weeks, so that should give me plenty of time to practice.

My initial concern was that this Ashford Joy would give me as much hassle as the Ashford Kiwi that was set up for the class. Of the 3 wheels that we got to try out, the Ashfor Kiwi and I did not get along right from the start and when I sat down at the Joy last night I saw right away that it took after its cousin wheel. I found it really hard to get the wheel spinning and then once I did It would start going in the wrong direction with no warning. After half an hour that included much swearing I finally gave up and settled down to watch CSI: Miami and do some knitting, which never fights back.

Towards the end of the night Nyron, who'd been asleep on the couch since we finished dinner, got up and asked me to show him how it worked. This helped calm me down and he was able to watch objectively and see what was making the wheel suddenly stop turning or turn in the wrong direction. The wheels we learned on were all 2-treadle wheels and the Joy only has one, so the spinner can't rely on being able to use the push of the other treadle to carry it over the apex of the wheel. With a single treadle, you have to get enough momentum in one push to carry it over, and I wasn't getting it. This was causing the wheel to halt before it got going, or to keep its momentum going in the same direction once I did. This is good for me to know; I don't like single-treadle wheels. :)

Of course, we only figured this out at bedtime, so I didn't have a chance to work on it more, but I got up early this morning (see how dedicated I am!) and spun for a half hour before work, filling the rest of the bobbin I started last night. I'll fill the second bobbin when I get home tonight and maybe even get them plied. I'm really just aiming for making yarn that is knitable at this point, which my attempts in class did not accomplish. I feel pretty good about this so far. The cost of the lesson included $25 in roving so I made sure to get braids of different fibres so that I could have some diversity in my practice. I plan on using all the skeins from the different types of fibre to knit a plain garter stitch scarf for myself. I think it'll be a great way to showcase my early life as a spinner and the colours I picked should look very interesting together. The yarn is certainly slubby enough that even simple garter stitch will have some interest and texture. Pictures to follow.

Until next we knit!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Secret Pal 11 Questionaire 2

Wow, a second Secret Pal questionnaire! Things sure have changed since I took part in a secret pal exchange 2 years ago (I think it was the 4th or 5th SP). We're actually expected to make continuous contact with our pals this time, instead of just stalking them for 3 months and then sending them a box of stuff. So here is my Secret Pall 11 Questionnaire: Part 2.

1. What is the one knitting accessory you could not live without?

My notions case. When I took up knitting again in earnest when I was 20, my grandmother gave me a whole bunch of knitting supplies for Christmas that year: needles of different sizes, the ubiquitous Patons Canadiana wool that all Canadian knitters have in their stash and a small, fold-over carrying case covered in flowers. Inside, each with it's own little pocket to hold everything in place, is everything I could ever need for my knitting projects, except the actual yarn and needles. It has darning needles of varying sizes and sharpness, an embroidery needle, stitch markers, a cable needle, a ruler with needle gauge, folding scissors, bobbins, a stitch holder, needle tip protectors, and 2 row counters. I never take a knitting project anywhere without it and it spends the rest of the time on the coffee table for when I knit on the couch.

2. If you're heading on vacation, do you take knitting with you? If so, how much and what type of project?

I always take knitting with me on vacation. If I'm going somewhere where we will be travelling around a lot, like a backpacking trip, I take small projects like socks. When I go home to Nova Scotia for Christmas or on a road trip, I bring my big Namaste Messenger Bag full of 2 or 3 large projects, good for hours of knitting in the car or in one of my grandmother's overstuffed armchairs.

3. Where have you travelled to that you'd consider your favorite spot?
Wow. Way too many favourite spots to pick just one. I loved living in Ecuador and still have friends there, London's great, San Sebastien, Spain is so beautiful it makes me want to perfect my Spanish and move there, and Morocco was like nowhere I had ever been. I would go back to any other those places in a heartbeat.

4. What is your favorite knitting book at the moment? Do you own it?
I don't knit from books that often, although I own so many of them that it would suggest otherwise. Right now I like anything that helps me work on technique, as opposed to just having other people's patterns. I'm really enjoying Jaqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop, because when you're done with the Sweater Sampler you can pretty much knit any sweater you want without a pattern, which is what I'm into. Freedom from patterns!

5. Do you listen to podcasts? Which is your favorite(s)?
I listen to way too many podcasts: Sticks & String, Cast On, Lime & Violet, Stash & Burn, Knit Picks, and Knit Science. I'm always "auditioning" others so the list keeps growing.

6. If you could only knit with 1 color for the rest of your life, what color would that be?
I just can't get enough of green. Especially earthy, natural looking greens.

7. If you were far into a project and then noticed a mistake near the beginning what would you do?
I have ripped out large sections of knitting to fix something, but I have also left in mistakes that were only a few rows back. If it can fit into the category of "un-noticeable" or "design feature" than it stays. If it's something noticeable or that will alter the shaping in some way, it gets frogged.

8. Where is the most unusual spot you've ever knit?
While attempting to hitch-hike in France. No one picked us up, though; maybe they were afraid of the double-pointed needles.

Until next we knit!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stitch n' Pitch

The Stitch n' Pitch on Wednesday was really fun. As a complete coincidence, Amy and I ended up sitting next to a woman I had met at the last Drunken Knitters pub night, so it was nice to know someone else in the crowd. We were over 700 strong and one of the fullest sections in the stadium. The website said that everyone would get a knitting tote (and it actually says Stitch n' Pitch on it!), but what they didn't mention was that the tote would contain swag! I got 3 balls of yarn, although 2 are novelty yarns so I'm planning to swap them, an Estelle magazine with patterns and the promo material of some local shops and organizations. Anyone interested in having a Stitch n' Pitch yarn swap (or any yarns swap, for that matter) let me know.

I wish I'd remembered to bring my camera; they even got the Blue Jays mascot to walk around our section with a ball of yarn and 2 big needles, moving them up and down in an approximation of knitting. There are lots of pictures on other people's blogs, though, so if you're hungry for snaps just look around. Don't ask me about the game, though; I don't know anything about baseball and rarely paid attention. I just love kipping.

I finally finished Vernum last night at 1:30 in the morning. I really got into a groove sewing on the sleeves with the TV tuned to Teletune in the background. I love watching cartoons late at night. That's when you get the grown-up cartoons! I'd been knitting the sleeves on Friday in the break room of the Rogers Television studio while waiting for the show to start (I was Floor Director that night) and for some reason the conversation kept turning back to my knitting. It's not the first time they've seen me knitting there, but it seemed to be what everyone noticed. One of the hosts of the show that I work on brought it up a few times throughout the night and I ended up promising to have it finished in time to wear it on Monday, which is the next time I'm in the studio. I find I work better on a deadline, anyway, so I finished it up last night and just have to block it today (once I get all the stuff off the table, of course). Pictures to come.

I'm also almost done Rusted Root, too; I just have the cuff of the sleeves and the bottom hem to finish. The pattern directions say to start the ribbing on the sleeves now, but causes the ribbing to start on the row directly after the last row of decreases and I think I want a few more rows of knitting snuck in there, first. If we weren't going to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival today, I'd have it done by tomorrow, too.

With my 2 main projects coming to an end so close to each other, I'm going to have to find another project to start, stat! I find that if I'm completely projectless than starting a new projects becomes somehow more daunting. I'm pretty sure this was one of the causes of my earlier hiatus; after months of constant knitting I found myself without a project on the needles and didn't feel up to the process of picking a new project, swatching, waiting for the swatch to block, etc before casting on. This is one of the ways that Ravelry is being helpful (always so helpful!). I've got a queue of 8 projects to choose from, so I don't have to worry about picking something from the hundreds of patterns in my library (or design ideas in my head); I only have to choose from 8. Since the weather is starting to get delightfully chilly (my favourite seasons are the in-between seasons: fall and spring), I think I can start on a light sweater. I've had A Cardigan for Arwen from IK swimming behind my eyeballs ever since I discovered (again, thanks to Ravelry) that I have the exact yarn specified already in my stash. I rarely ever knit with the pattern yarn, so it's a nice change. No worries about recalculating the pattern to the gauge, or if the drape will work. So that will be my next project.

*A note to my secret pal* I've been reading some people's complaints on the Secret Pal Ravelry group that their partners don't post often and I'm afraid I probably fall under that group. It's not that I'm quiet or don't want to talk about myself, it's just that my day job is 7 and a half hours of answering emails, so I rarely have the energy on weeknights for blogging (or anything computer related, for that matter). If you have any questions, feel free to email me; I'll be very vocal in my answers. And know that you'll always get at least one nice long blog post on the weekend. Thanks for putting up with me.

Until next we knit!


Monday, August 13, 2007

Geek alert!

I've only just been assigned my Secret Pal spoilee and I've already benefited from the pairing. My spoilee had a link on her blog to the Lime and Violet Knit Wars, which is an online game based loosely on D&D. There's no dice, but you make a character (complete with character stats) and gain experience points by completing adventures, like teaching someone to knit or finishing a UFO from a year ago. It's meant to be a fun way to get motivated to cross hurdles and set goals.

Having been a mad D&D gamer in my day, I've really taken to this style of the game. I even wrote all my adventure comments in very formal, King Arthur and his knights-type language. I'm currently a first level Enchanter with 73 XP (that's experience points for the laymen) and 33 "gold pieces". There are different things that you can do with gold pieces; ignore them as just a fun part of the game (like the Sceptre of Fiberblogginess and other pieces of treasure that you have a chance to acquire in adventures), use them to dictate how much actual money you can spend on stash, determine a dollar value (x gp = $1) and use them to save up for a special treat. I'm considering the last option: picking a correlative value of the gp and use that the save up real money for a knitter's retreat or trip to a fibre festival, something that I would normally not spend money on for myself but that I would really, really like. Of course, I could save it up for a spinning wheel, but I'll be buying/getting one for Christmas anyway, so it doesn't seem like a good investment of my imaginary gold pieces.

I'm getting way too into this game already! :) I can't wait until they get the buttons up.

Until next we knit!


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mini knitters

I taught another knitting class today, this time to a pair of 8 and 9 year old sisters. The 8 year old seemed really intent on learning; she made the same mistakes multiple times, but she kept plodding along single-mindedly. The 9 year old seemed to have a harder time staying focused, so next time I'm going to try her on crochet to see if she takes to that. It's more free-form, so I think she might have an easier time with it and not get as frustrated.

I'm almost done Rusted Root. I've got a few more inches left on the body before I start the ribbing and I have to do the ribbing on the sleeves. I figure it'll be done by the middle of this week.

In Mystery Stole news, I'm still just shy of finishing Clue 1. I was plugging along earlier in the week when all of a sudden I dropped a stitch and it continued to fall for about 3 or 4 rows. Ouch. I didn't have the patience to tink back that much at the time, so I'm going to have to tackle it sometime this weekend. I have my other spinning class tomorrow, however, so that may provide a distraction.
Until next we knit!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Secret Pal 11 Questionaire

Hi Secret Pal partner! I am linking this from my sidebar so that it's easy for you to find when you want to refer back to it.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love anything soft (merino, alpaca) and DK cotton is very versatile, so it's tends to end up in my stash a lot. I'm getting into socks and lace, but I don't have a lot of yarn for that yet. I do not like novelty yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I store my straight needles and crochet hooks in roll-up holders I made myself (based on the needle case in Stitch 'n Bitch). I don't have a holder for my circs, though, and I have quite a few of them (because I keep loosing them and having to buy new ones). I also have a set of Denise Interchangeables.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I first learned from my grandmother at age 7, and then again at age 16 when I had an actual knitting project I wanted to do. At 20 I re-taught myself and really took to it in earnest; that was 6 years ago. I'd consider my skill level intermediate to advanced; I can't do everything, but I'm pretty fearless and will jump straight into anything. My first pair of socks were knit toe-up, 2 at a time on circular needles and I figured out the technique without knowing that anyone had published instructions on it.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Not yet, but I've been meaning to get one. I'll come back to this when I have one.

5. What's your favorite scent?
I love ocean-y scents and very natural scents. I had an essential oil called Siesta in the Rain that I used up in university. Not so hot on lavender, only because I have so much of it at home and am rather sick of it, but some lavender or cedar sachets for my yarn closet would be welcome.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I love dark chocolate, especially with cherries in the centre.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I knit and crochet (although I prefer knitting). I'm just learning to spin and am saving up for a wheel. I do paper making and am always looking for more screens and deckles (they're rather hard to find). My craft of choice for most of my life had been cross stitch and although I don't do it much anymore I'm very interested in the tradition of embroidered samplers.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
My computer can play MP3s and I have an iPod that I take everywhere. I like good indie music (Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obsura, The Decemberists, The Shins, Tokyo Police Club, Sufjan Stevens) but am always open to new influences.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love earth tones, especially greens, blues and deep reds or maroons. I can't stand bright, crayon-y colours.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I've been with my boyfriend Nyron for 3 years and we're planning to get married next fall. We have a cat named Spirit who likes to play with things that move (all her toys are something tied to a pole on a long string) and toilet paper roles.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Not big on the poncho thing, but scarves, hats and mittens are a survival must here in Canada!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
My favourite things to knit are the things I'm currently knitting (and there's always more than one). I tend to like things that will teach me a technique I've never done before and I love designing and figuring out new ways of doing something.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Right now I'm knitting Rusted Root by Zephyr Style, Mystery Stole 3, and Vernum, which is a DK cotton shirt in an issue of Knitting magazine.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
I love handmade gifts! I make so many gifts for other people and no one really makes gifts for me.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I love circs, especially of the interchangeable variety. I'm not a fan of plastic but have been known to use it (my beloved Denises are plastic, for example). I'm interested in the Knit Picks Options but I'd like to try them first before shelling out the dough. I like bamboo, but find the join on bamboo circulars to be maddeningly catchy. Most of my needles are aluminum.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I don't own either. I've never found the need for a ball winder, as I can wind perfectly good centre-pull balls on my hand, but I've been jonesing for a swift for a while; the back of my computer chair can be a little tricky to use. I don't like the swifts that are held together by bits of waste yarn, though, so I'm always looking for one with proper joint connectors. I've seen them, so I know they exist, I've just never seen one for sale.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
My oldest UFO is probably 2 years old. It's a pair of green merino mittens that I started knitting for my brother, but he took one look at them and asked if I can change this and that, so I've never gotten around to frogging them and making the changes.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I like Christmas because I get the most time off from work and get to go home to Nova Scotia to see my family, but I'm not into all the Santa, Christmas carols, cheesy stuff. I'm not religious, either, so it's really all about the vacation and family time (and gifts).

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I collect salt & pepper shakers, Wade figurines, Eeyore swag, and things in miniature (like dollhouse accessories, although I don't own a dollhouse). I also collect antique and vintage knitting and sewing notions (this collection started with an antique bone needle case that I found in an antique shop in England).

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I'm not really dying to get my hands on anything in particular, since if there's a pattern I want I either buy it or figure out how to do it myself. I have a subscription to Interweave Knits, but I also read Knitting (a UK magazine) and anything else that has patterns or articles that catch my eye.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I've been planning a sweater for Nyron that has entrelac in it, so I plan to get around to learning that soon. I'm quite into lace knitting right now because I'd like to make a shawl and veil for my wedding.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am just getting into socks (I've knit two pairs). I knit toe-up so I don't ever need to actually take measurements or knit a gauge swatch since I fit as I go. I'll scrounge around for my ribbon tape measure and get back to you on this.

23. When is your birthday?
January 22

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
For now my Rav ID is my name, which I don't want to give away, but I've asked Casey to change it to Arroyo (Little Knittin Kitten was too long and someone had already taken Knittin Kitten. I didn't think I wouldn't be able to change it later). I'll update when the change has been made.

Well, looking forward to getting to know you through this exchange!

Until next we knit!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Moon Mist accidental art yarn?

I had my first spinning wheel class today! The class is taught at Lettuce Knit in Kensington Market here in Toronto. It's a 2-part class, which is good because I clearly need a lot more practice! I chose some roving that reminded me of an ice cream flavour that is only made by a few dairy companies on the East Coast. It's called Moon Mist and it's a mix of flavours; there's always a purple "grape" flavour, and then depending on the company it could be green "lime", yellow "banana" or blue "blueberry" (the flavours are in quotations marks because you can't really taste them on their own, you can only assume that this is what they're supposed to taste like). Each scoop is a swirl of light pastel colours and is just gorgeous, so when I saw those colours in a lovely skein of roving I just had to have it! The roving was dyed by the instructor right on site in their new dye lab, so I'll have to see if she can duplicate it and show me how. I'd knit a whole item in those colours.

So after two hours of trying to keep my twist even (and failing) I ended up with a skein of what I'm calling art yarn, because it makes it sound like I intended it that way. :)

As you can see, I was having a little trouble keeping the twist consistent. I kept over-twisting the yarn in some parts and really under twisting it in others. My real problem is with drafting; when I took a drop spindle class last Christmas I had the same problem. But the spinning wheel makes more sense to me somehow than the drop spindle did, so I'm going to stick with this. Nyron, who is the ever fiber-supportive boyfriend, has already started looking for ways that I could fit the cost of a spinning wheel into the budget.

**A note about the picture: I tried to take a picture of this "yarn" next to my cat while she was lying across the back of the couch, thinking that it would be really cute. She's not usually interested in yarn unless it's spinning across the floor, so I figured it would be safe. I placed the skein next to her head; she took one sniff of it and went wild! I don't know what it was, but she began batting at it and nipping it. I finally managed to get this shot, where she is in the act of tossing it off the back of the couch:

Just look at how wild her eyes were! She's manic, I tells you! Manic!

Until next we knit!


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Caught up in the Ravelry

In an echo of what pretty much everyone who has received their Ravelry invite has said, I am spending way too much time on this website! :) It's cutting into my knitting time! Normally on the weekend I'd be working on the Mystery Stole while the house is still quiet, but instead I'm reading the message boards or adding projects and yarns to my Notebook. I've even begun pattern editing, which takes up a huge amount of time, but I really enjoy. Pattern editing is going through the database of patterns and filling in any missing information. That way, when you do a project from one of the patterns in the database and you make an entry for it in your notebook, the pattern information it links to will be complete and up-to-date.

One thing that I'm finding very frustrating is that I can't add patterns. As I explained above (for those not in the Rav yet) when you create an entry for a project it links to an information page about the pattern, as long as it's a published pattern and not self-designed. However, not every pattern ever published is in the database yet, so if you are creating an entry for a project and you're the first person on Ravelry to do so, you can click on a link that will let you add the pattern to the database. For some reason, this doesn't work on my computer. I get as far as bringing up the link, but it doesn't take me to the window where I can fill in the pattern information; the link just disappears. I posted this to the Editor's group message board and Casey, one of Ravelry's creators, made a few comments, but now he seems to have moved off to other projects and forgotten about me and the other person having the same problem, because he hasn't made a comment in a few days now. Hopefully that means that he's still working on it but doesn't have anything new to add and it will be fixed soon. I have 3 projects that need pattern links and it bothers my sense of continuity to not have the entries "finished".

There is one great thing that Ravelry has done for me that I didn't expect. This morning I gathered up a bunch of my magazines to bring down to the computer to see if any of the issues still needed editing. In the process of sorting through which ones I wanted to bring down, I discovered an issue that I thought was lost. It contains the pattern for a top that I'd been working on and have finished up to the sleeves, but I lost both the magazine and my photocopy, so it's been languishing in the stash closet, contemplating its fate as a WIP that would likely end up frogged. But now that I've found the pattern, I can finally finish this top! One more FO, coming my way!

Of course, you're probably all still wondering which pattern I picked for my Debbie Bliss Cotton DK yarn. Well, I won't make you wait any longer; I've been cruel enough already. I chose Rusted Root, even though it means I'll have to buy an undershirt to wear it. I just plain like it better than Green Gable, although I've put Green Gable in my queue for someday in the future. The queue is really helping me find destinies for my stash yarn. I've found 5 possible projects for stash yarn and am constantly looking for more.

I'm continuing with my yarn diet into the fall. I'm not interesting in this month's KAL within a KAL on Stashalong so I'm going to just go 4 months without buying new yarn (although I'm allowed 1 free day each month, which is good in case I decide to work on mom's Christmas Stole). With all the projects lined up in my queue this should be a breeze!

Until next we knit!