Monday, June 30, 2008

Secret Pal 12 Questionaire

At long last, the questionnaire for this round. Apologies to my spoiler that I haven't had it up before, but I never received it from the mod, so I wasn't sure what was going on. Hopefully you've been able to make do so far with the SP 11 one still linked on my sidebar. I've pulled the questions from my spoilee's blog and I hope they're the right ones.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love alpaca and superwash wool (I do the laundry in the house, and I try not to hand wash if I can help it). I'm getting into socks and lace more lately, and I like anything kitteny soft. I really don't like novelty yarns (I even consider tape yarn and lamé as "novelty"). I'm looking forward to knitting with some bamboo yarn for the first time, although I don't know if I'll get to that this summer. I'm planning to knit my wedding bouquet, so this will be my first foray into felting and felting yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I made the roll-up case from Stitch n' Bitch for my straights and I made a sized-down version for my crochet hooks. My Knitpicks and Denise's each have their own cases. My generic circs and dpns are in boxes right now. I'm trying to design a practical case for them.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
My grandmother taught me when I was 7, but I only ever picked up the needles when I had a project I wanted to do that happened to be knit. I've been a serial crafter all my life, so I often bounce around between crafts. When I started university, the knitting bug bit me hard and I've been a pretty veracious knitter ever since (that was about 8 years ago). I'd consider myself upper intermediate - advanced; I don't know everything, but I'm confident that there isn't anything I can't figure out when I need to.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
I have one on Just look it up under my name. I'm not into pattern books; I prefer books that focus on a technique or the history of my crafts.

5. What's your favorite scent?
I love sweet fruity scents (but not cloying). I love sugar cookie and cinnamon scents.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I like Reese's Pieces and Peanut Butter Cups. I love dark chocolate, especially over cherries or coconut. I don't eat a lot of candy, though. When I have it, I usually have to keep reminding myself to eat it before it goes bad.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I crochet occasionally, but I tend to prefer knitting. I'm a beginning spinner and my mom bought me a Louet Victoria for my birthday. I do papermaking and I'm going to start bookbinding soon. I want to get into quilting. I used to be a cross-stitch fiend and still do it from time to time. I really like crafts that can be made with upcycled or reclaimed materials.

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. It's really too hard to say what kind of music I like, because I'm really eclectic. I like good indie music (Belle & Sebastian, The Decemberists, The Shins, Tokyo Police Club, Sufjan Stevens, Jens Leckman, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Vampire Weekend) and mainstream stuff like Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Counting Crows, and folk music like Great Big Sea and Dropkick Murphies. I'm always open to new influences.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love earth tones, especially green (dark, forest green) and blue. In the reds, I prefer burgundy and deep reds to primary red. I'm starting to really like purples, too.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm getting married in October, which I'm really excited about. We have 1 cat, a 9 year old named Spirit.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I don't wear ponchos, but as a Canadian scarves, hats, and mitts are a necessity!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I usually knit sweaters or tops, but I also like small projects like socks and baby sweaters. I'm going to get back into lace knitting once the dust settles from the wedding plans and I'll bring out the Mystery Shawl again and play around with Susanna Lewis's lace knitting workshop. I like anything that teaches me a new technique or gets me to try something or figure out something in a different way.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Right now I'm knitting the Spring Forward socks from this season's knitty, the Lighthearted Leaves scarf for my mom, and a child's guernsey sweater for charity.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Of course! Anyone who doesn't, doesn't deserve to receive them.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I prefer wooden circulars (particularly my Knitpick Harmony Options). I love any needles that are of the interchangeable variety.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I have neither.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
About 3 years old. It's a pair of mittens I started for my brother while I was in England and I still haven't finished them.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Easily Christmas. I love going to The Bay on Queen St. and seeing the Christmas window displays.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
I collect books, 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 a 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?
Obviously, Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. :) My amazon list is mostly knitting and spinning books. I have a subscription to Interweave Knits and I'm considering one to Spin Off, but I haven't made the leap yet.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Whenever I want to learn a technique, I just go ahead and learn it. Other than spinning, which was something I held off on for a long time. With everything else I just jump in with both feet.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am a sock knitter. I'm size 6 1/2 to 7 US shoe size.

23. When is your birthday?
January 22, 1981

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When good projects go bad

I've been loving my Classico Twinset. I'm actually using the yarn called for in the pattern (a rarity for me) and I got gauge with no trouble. Despite a few brief turns in stockinette hell it's been fun to knit. The cashmere/wool yarn is soft and only occasionally give me a knitting blister and the yardage is so good I've been able to knit the bodies of both pieces in only 5 balls. Yet, despite such an upstanding record, maybe out of boredom or falling in with a bad crowd, any good project can go bad. And this one has.

Last night, while Nyron played Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation, I decided to get some finishing work done. I sewed together the shoulder seams on the shell and started to contemplate how to knit the collar. I've knit everything on this project in the round, even the things that are directed to be knit flat in the pattern, so I'm trying very hard to maintain this continuity. The directions say to sew together one shoulder seam, then pick up the stitches around the neck starting at the other shoulder seam and then sew up the shoulder seam and the side of the collar when finished. Well, that's not very seamless, so I decided I would sew both shoulders and then knit the collar in the round. I don't have any dpns that size, so my first thought was the 2-circ method, which I love. However, I don't have another circ in this size, either. I pulled out my Denises, but I remembered Brenda Dane's cautionary tale about the 2 needles of the "same size" by different companies that aren't actually the same size at all. So I measured the Denises and sure enough, it's slightly larger than the Harmony Options I'm using. Drat. But all is not lost, because this was a great excuse to make myself learn magic loop, which worked swimmingly.

After plugging along with the magic loop, I finished the collar. It looked a little long and I was afraid it might sit like a turtleneck, so I decided to try it on. This is probably something I should have done immediately after sewing up the shoulders.

As you can see, it doesn't quite fit.

OK, it really doesn't fit.

I think Nyron was having too much fun taking these pictures.

I'm quite ticked off. The problem is not that I knit the collar too tight; if only that's what it was! The opening itself is just too small. I'm going to have to not only frog the collar, but undo the sewing, frog a few inches of the shoulders and then re-configure the decreases to make the opening larger, without turning the shoulder seams into spaghetti straps. *sigh*

Spirit saw how distressed I was and come over to console me.

I may continue working on the cardigan part, but I think at least the shell is going into hibernation for a while until I cool down.
Until next we knit!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What what what?

Recently, I actually made someone do a triple take. Well, I didn't: my knitting did. I was on the subway with some of my friends in my publishing class at Ryerson and we were all travelling home together because we live all in the West End. I was sitting in one of the seats that is placed widthwise in the subway train and there was a woman reading a hardcover novel sitting directly in front of me, in a seat that is placed along the wall of the train so that we were perpendicular to each other. I guess that's how she happened to see me out of the corner of her eye, since she was sitting with her profile to me.

I saw her head turn slightly to take in my knitting, then go back to her book. An instant later her head swivelled back to the work on my lap, and she made that furrowed-brow frowning look of someone who's surprised and confused and not exactly happy about being either. Only on a third return to her book and then back at me did she look up at my face, I guess to try and puzzle out what manner of strange creature would be so oddly occupied in public. I swear, it was like I was kneading bread on my lap and covering her with flour! I gave her a bright smile and she returned it with a rather hesitant one and that's the last time her gaze ventured my way, although she stayed on almost as long as I did (I live at the penultimate stop). Some people are so strange.

I finally finished the baby blanket for Amy's new little girl, Grace. I think it looks quite good with the green border.

I'm very happy with how it turned out, although I think it'll be a while before I do a patchwork blanket again. That's a lot of sewing!

I'm also plugging along on the Spring Forward Socks from this season's Knitty. I cast them on specially for WWKIP Day because the Classico Twinset was too large to carry with me and I wanted something I could stick in my purse. The twinset is now only suitable for knitting on the couch or on my daily commute where I won't be disturbed for a good half hour at a time.

This is Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Dream in Sunbeam that my mother bought me when I was home in May. I love the colour, but I'm a little concerned about one of the balls. As I was winding it up from the skein, I noticed that she seems to have dripped a spot of dark blue dye on it. I'm hoping that as I knit it up it all the little blue dots scattered throughout the yarn will all magically fall to the back of the stitches and none will show. We'll see.

I got some gardening done a while back, so I thought I'd share a picture of how they're coming along.

The plastic movie theatre popcorn tubs contain roma tomatoes, the wooden basket has 2 strawberry plants and the rectangular container with the round trellis in the back (Bernat Satin yarn wound around a tomato cage) has snow peas. I still wish I had a backyard, but for now my south-facing balcony will do. We've been getting a lot of rain lately, which helps a lazy gardener like me. I don't know what I'll do when I have to actually remember to water them myself!

Until next we knit!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Saturday was super fun. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and Rachel H did such a great job of setting up the 1000 Knitters Project/Yarn Harlot birthday bash. Everything ran smoothly (or at least it did from our end. I don't know if our lovely coordinators would say the same thing, since they spent most of the running around and making sure that everything ran smoothly!).

Lots of knitters showed up and veritably littered the steps of Lettuce Knit with their gorgeous selves and various works in progress.
That's Ken in the foreground (yes, The Ken, of the numerous mentions in Stephanie's blog and books), as well as my friends Marisa in the blue sweater (a whole sweater in Dream in Colour yarn!) and Kim (Indigodragonfly, who taught us colour theory and hand dyeing) in the purple stole with her back tot he camera.
Of course, Franklin was there, the man of the hour.

He was very congenial and made sure to engage each knitter in conversation while he did his thing. We talked about our connections to Eeyore, since I was wearing one of my favourite Eeyore t-shirts. He even got a peak at my Eeyore tattoo.

Of course, what would a party be without cupcakes?

The cupcakes on the right were made by Marisa and they spell out Stephanie & Franklin.

A few days before the event a knitter on Ravelry posted that she had near-mint condition copies of Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting and Knitting Lace: A Workshop by Susanna Lewis that she wanted to sell. She gave me a deal on both and dropped them off to me at Lettuce Knit.

I did do a tiny bit of shopping.

Notice there's no yarn? I am on a yarn diet, after all. I got 4 braids of wonderful blue roving (and how often is it that you find 4 matching braids of roving in the Lettuce Knit roving basket! I couldn't pass that up!), some undyed roving that I plan to dye to match my Aubergine Dream roving, this season's issue of Spin-off magazine and a Denise Interchangable soft case.

Of course, I have the case that my Denise's came in, but I've recently acquired a partial set from a woman who was doing an ultimate de-stash and gave me almost all of her knitting paraphernalia, so I wanted a case in which I could amalgamate both sets. It was a bit expensive, but my parents were in town and my dad handed me spending money on my way out the door (aren't dads who live far away great?!) so that funded the bulk of this little spree.

The blue roving will be spun and part of it used to knit my wedding garter. That way I'll have something new and something blue and if I borrow the ribbon I'll have something borrowed, too.

Until next we knit!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Skeins Her Way Goals contest

I found this contest via the Destroy My Sweater blog and I think I'll join. Here are my summer goals:

- finish Amy's baby blanket
- finish Classico Twinset
- finish A Cardigan for Arwen

I'm keeping it small to keep from getting overwhelmed. I like the sweater kit that's the prize, too. It'll be nice to knit a top that I can wear to work that isn't light yellow.

In other news, I'm going with a co-worker to see The Kids in the Hall at Massey Hall tonight! So excited! I've been watching that show since I was 8 and I missed seeing them live the last time they went on tour, so this is going to be great. Plus, it looks like Russtle Peters will open for them. A great night of Canadian entertainment.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I've been tagged!

Blast that Marisa! She's tagged me for a meme! So here we go...

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) 10 years ago, I was:

Getting ready to go spend a year in Ecuador: deciding what to pack, getting all kinds of shots and taking typhoid-preventing medication. It would have been my grade 12 year, but I ended up not bothering to try and get credits for the high school I attended there (and my teachers certainly didn't expect me to) so I ended up taking grade 12 over when I got back. I absolutely loved it there and Nyron and I will be going to Ecuador for our honeymoon, my first trip back.

2) 5 things on my to-do list for today:

Well the day is close to over by now, at 5:15pm, but here's what my list would have been this morning:

- cast-on the twinset cardigan, since I just have blocking and finishing work to do left on the shell (did this morning)
- survive another day at work with my lingering cold
- buy Kids in the Hall tickets from my co-worker Nancy (she had spare tickets and I've been dying to see them live ever since I missed them last time. I grew up watching that show!)
- manage to find something to eat before my publishing class tonight
- try not to let my cough keep me awake all night again.

3) Snacks I enjoy:

I'm really digging multi grain Tostitoes and Tostitoes Spinach dip right now. I always try to keep something healthy in my desk to snack on at work; right now it's Not Nuts Mountain Mambo trail mix. I've been eating a lot of Basset's Licorice All-Sorts (not so healthy) since my diabetic father discovered that they shoot his blood sugar through the roof and gave me all that he had, but I think I've eaten most of them. I don't tend to snack a lot and when I do I try to make it healthy.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Oh, do I dream of this! Well, actually my dreams are usually just content to make me a millionaire, so billionaire is quite a treat. Obviously, the first thing I'd do is pay off all my debts and the upcoming wedding debts, then I'd pay the debts of some of my friends who are currently crippled with 10s of thousands of dollars in student loans, and pay my parents back for sending me to school. Then, of course, I'd quite my job and Nyron and I would buy a house on the lake with a big backyard for gardening and a detached studio where I could spend my time making things for my woefully still-empty etsy store. I'd put most of the res into wise investments so that I don't have to worry about it running out and could maybe be a patron of a small publishing house to allow them to take more risks without worrying about the bottom line. Of course, I've always wanted to start my own charity, so there's that, too, and without a job I could spend my time doing volunteer work and teaching knitting at the local women's shelter (which I would much rather be doing than working at my paying job). Basically, I'd do all the things that I don't have the time and energy for because I use up all that time and energy at my job.

5) Places I have lived:

In order:

- Toronto, Ontario
- Bedford, Nova Scotia
- Vire, France (for a month, but it was in a house, not a hotel, so I considering it living there)
- Ambato, Ecuador
- Leeds, England

6) Jobs I have had:

My first job was scraping paint off the front deck and wheelchair ramp of my parents' funeral home when I was 13 (can you say lead poisoning?). Then, when my voice sounded mature enough, I graduated to answering phones and spending every Saturday in one of the locations in case someone walked in (I did this for 6 years). In high school I was a Membership Counsellor Assistant at Nubody's Fitness Centre (read telemarketer). When I moved to Toronto my first job was as a salesgirl at Seductions Love Boutique on Yonge St, then I did just about every job possible at the Cumberland Movie Theatre (including running the projectors). Then I worked for 2 years at World's Biggest Bookstore before leaving to go to England where I didn't do any job because I didn't have a work permit and that would have been illegal. Then I got my current job at the ESL school where I still work today.

7) Bloggers I am tagging who I will enjoy getting to know better:

I'm tagging Stasholic, my old Secret Pal recipient over at Destroy my Sweater, my Secret Pal at Ewe Gotta Knit, my dear friend Amy (Amy of the ladybug button sweater), and Nyron, just to make him write a post in his blog, which has been abandoned since March '07!

By the way, Marisa, I do believe it was your Rose Garden that leaked into my Aubergine Dream. I remember you picking up your roving to steam and a waterfall of dye coming out of it! :) It's a wonder I don't sue.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Knit, cough, knit

So remember that I mentioned in my last post that Nyron had a cold? Well, share and share alike, right? I caught his cold on Sunday and ended up staying home from work yesterday. I was pretty out of it and slept in until almost noon, but when I did drag my ass out of bed I managed to find enough strength to knit. Of course. :)

On Sunday I decided to focus on bringing Arwen out from hibernation and getting to in a state where I could actually work on it while travelling, since a large amount of my knitting time comes from my daily 2 hour round-trip commute to and from work. To that end I took my newly acquired mad kitchener stitch skillz and grafted the sleeve. The pattern calls for only the cabled cuff to be grafted, but I figured if I can graft live stitches to a cast on edge for the cuff I can do it for the whole sleeve, right? I didn't like the idea of having a nicely grafted cuff and then a sewn seam all the way up the rest of the sleeve. I think it turned out quite well.

You can't tell in the picture, but because the first row of knitting on the sleeve is a purl row on the wrong side (the sleeve is knit horizontally instead of cuff to sholder) there's this little row of bumps just above the row of grafted stitches. It's kind of like Elizabeth Zimmerman's fake seam in her seamless sweaters. And it's along the underside-edge of the arm, so really only I know it's there. It's my little secret.

Yesterday, I worked on the sholder and neck shaping for the shell of my twinset. I don't like carrying patterns around with me as try to carry everything I need in one small sholder bag, so it sometimes take a bit of coordination to get all the shapping done at home so that it's ready to travel the next morning. So I really took advantage of being home all day (and the shaping wasn't complicated enough to muddle my rather woozy head) and got the whole front and part of the back above the armhole devide done.

Coming along, eh? I'll definitely have the shell done this week so I can cast on the cardigan at the end of the week or on the weekend.
Until next we knit!