TTC Knit-a-long 2013

The annual TTC Knitalong was this past Saturday. I was on Team Intarsia (a.k.a. the best team).

Team Intarsia started at Creative Yarns in Scarborough, which had a great sale and the Zauberball I’ve been coveting, so I did a lot of my shopping there (the Malabrigo and the Louisa Harding below were both from there too).

After that it was a long bus and subway ride to The Purple Purl. My friend Ilana broke a DPN en route!

But she bought new ones when we got to the Purl, where is where I got the Sweet Georgia DK. I normally don’t do crazy colours, but the skein was just so vibrant I couldn’t say no. It was calling to me. You know how it is. Ilana’s DPN troubles were soothed when she won the Purple Purl’s draw for their limited edition Indigodragonfly colourway and a pattern.

It was also at the Purl that I started binding off my wedding shrug :D

Then it was on to Romni Wools. I bought a spindle there that is hopefully better quality than the current homemade one I have. It’s Ashford, so it should be. Romni was also giving away free needles and this little adorable guy, who now resides in my craft room.

We discovered that Romni also apparently sells the stuff you’d need to make muppets.

Then it was on to Americo Original, where everyone got a free skein of lace weight 100% llama for FREE. I was nearly done binding off at this point.

I walked down the street like this too. Really weirded out some of the uninitiated, lol.

At the Rivoli I finally finished the shrug.

AND I got the following certificate, after my team leaders nominated me <3! The lovely Glenna C. was one of them. She has some great photos of the day (and of the most awesome team, if I do say so) on her blog here.

A damn good day.

I am not a crocheter

As you may remember from my last (real) post that I recently finished my fingerless mittens, using Julia V’s pattern:

While I am enjoying them (aran weight merino is lovely warm and soft, though sadly the brand I used no longer exists) I recently had the revelation that I don’t think I entirely enjoyed making them.

How can this be?!

The problem, I believe, lies in the fact that a) they were crocheted, and b) my answer to the age old “are you a process or a product knitter?” question is that I am a process knitter. How are these two things related? And how did I come to these conclusions? Let me explain:

These fingerless mittens took much less time to whip up than the last pair I made, which seemed to prove the oft-heard adage that crocheting is faster than knitting. So, when my brother asked for a pair of convertible gloves, I immediately searched for crochet versions on Ravelry.

I even went so far as to narrow it down to Sue Norrad’s Crocheted Mittens / Fingerless Gloves

Yet when it came time to start the foundation chain (like casting on for you knitting-only folk) I felt something I had never felt before: reluctance. I did not want to start the bloody thing, regardless of how much I admired the pattern and liked the idea of getting the mittens made quickly. For a brief moment, this made me fear I was loosing interest in a hobby that has been such a focal point in my life, but as I thought about it some more, I realized my problem was that I did not want to start another crochet project so soon. My hands were missing their beloved needles. I think there is something in the process of knitting, in holding a needle in each hand and working with them in tandem that I crave. Indeed, as I performed the same Ravelry search for knitted convertible mittens, I felt noticeably happier.

So, I learned some things today:

1) though I thought I didn’t have a preference when it came to knit vs. crochet, it would seem I do, and 2) despite the fact that I had assumed I was a product knitter since I like the feeling of completing a project, it looks like it may actually be the process I am infatuated with (let’s be frank, at this point my love of yarn is an infatuation).

(However, I have to say that I am a little adverse to lumping people into two tight categories. I may enjoy the process, but I’ll be damned if I don’t also enjoy getting the product at the end of it.)

So, are you curious as to what pattern I ended up with?

At first I thought I had narrowed it down to Glenna C.‘s Podster Gloves pattern

but I thought “the maximum size given is a men’s small. My brother most definitely does not wear size small” and “I’m really not feeling the each-finger-has-a-hole thing. That took a lot of time last year, and I still have a lot of holiday knitting to do. Plus the last thing I need is another part of the mittens that might not fit my brother’s massive fingers.”

Finally I stumbled across Lauren Perruzza’s appropriately titled Manly-Man Man Mittens.

Perfect! Albeit, Lauren claims the pattern is a work-in-progress so some directions may be difficult to decipher. But she’s open to helping, the size is already set to ‘men’s large’ and there are no finicky finger holes outside of the thumbs. I can work with this.

The only thing missing is the awesomeness that is the ‘podster’ thumb from Glenna’s pattern. I’m thinking of trying to incorporate it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mine are coming along nicely, having just cast on:

I’ve been using the Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool I got on sale last year. Relatively inexpensive real virgin wool with the lanolin still in. I forgot how much I love wool like this. Plus it’s perfect for my outdoors-loving brother who is known for being rather hard on clothing.

Needless to say, I’m back from my post crocheted fingerless mitten slump :)

The bad side to this new mitten project, however, is that my Hitckhiker shawl, which I was all excited about starting in my last post, is going to be stuck at the 25th row mark for a while..

What might cause it to languish even longer is the fact that The DROPS Advent Calendar has come out. Thanks to katknit for pointing this out. Free pattern every day, yes please.

Here’s the cute mini stockings for Dec 1:

http://www.garnstudio.com/lang/us/pattern.php?id=5903&lang=us

One last thing to share before I go:

Believe it or not, this isn’t just another picture of my cat (though I love any opportunity to post one, let’s be honest). The focus here is on the yarn and needles (or the end of one of them anyway)

The yarn isn’t super sexy, I know. And straight needles are kind of out-or-character for me. I’m using them to practice a new knitting technique! Lever knitting.

Last Saturday I took a class taught by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) on Knitting for Speed and Efficiency at Unwind Yarn House, where she taught us this technique. We’re supposed to practice it for 30 days (a little per day, as much as we can stand it). Apparently that’s about how long it takes to master a new way of knitting. I can believe it, since my stitches are not at all uniform and are ridiculously tight, which has brought back buried childhood memories. Yet slowly, day by day, I’m getting there. Just like when I was nine :)

Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia Yarns has a great summary of the Stephanie’s explanation of the differences between lever (aka Irish cottage), throwing (aka English), and picking (aka Continental, though Americans like to call it American) and how they came to be. She also has links to Youtube videos of Stephanie lever knitting, though FYI Stephanie herself advises to watch sans sound/commentary.

Goings on

My first Downtown Knit Collective meeting last night was a blast. Knitters are just awesome, welcoming people. Granted the fact that I ran into more than a few people I already know probably helped. Then there was the whole the-speaker-was-Stephanie-Pearl-McPhee thing too. Not only is she hilarious, but I actually learned things about neurology. Knitting is great for your brain! Ironically it is also very addictive. Who knew?

I also learned that the things that make a video game successful (and addictive) are all present in knitting: visible progress, short and long-term goals and rewards, etc (note to self, find whole article). Am telling the fiancé this next time he says I knit too much. UPDATE: possible (or at least similar) article here.

WWKIP is growing legs. We’ll be having a Scarf Relay which, from its description, sounds like it will be an epic riot. We’ve also been mentioned on the Knitty blog and Wise Daughters as well.

And look who has retweeted about it!

I believe my response was to squeal in excitement.

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Yet MORE exciting yarny things going on in Toronto:

1) Wise Daughters will be hosting their own WWKIP event, also on June 9. From 9:30 – 11:30am there will be a free breakfast and other lovely surprises. Afterwards a group of participants will be heading to Nathan Phillips for the Toronto WWKIP. I so wish I could do both. Alas I have to help set up at Nathan Phillips :(

2) The More Than Just a Yardage Sale in support of the Textile Museum of Canada. Friday May 25, 11am – 6pm and Saturday May 26, 10am – 1pm

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To end with, I leave you with something I learned about myself today…

Behold my list of check-outs from work (the library):

Notice that only one item is not related to knitting. Also notice that there are more that don’t even appear on the screen (see the scroll bar on the right?). It’s official, I’m obsessed.

Knit-tag

One of the bloggers and designers I follow regularly, the lovely Knitting My Day Away, tagged me. It’s so nice to be thought of! The premise is simple – answer the questions below. Here goes:

1. Are you always happy with your FO’s?
2. Are you sometimes so disappointed that you frog everything and start a new project? Why? Color? Yarn? Making? Too small? Too large?
3. Do you wear your knits or do they end up at the bottom of a cupboard? If so, why? How do they age after being washed and worn?
4. Do you always make a swatch? (maybe it should have been the first question, lol ?!)
5. Finally, would you rather work with some yarns you know well rather than others to avoid bad surprises?
 
1. Definitely not, I’m sad to admit. Most of the time I’m happy, but I’ve only been knitting “seriously” for about 2 years, so there is still a lot to learn. However my success rate is steadily improving, I’m happy to report.
2. Despite my answer to #1, I rarely frog everything. I’ll rip back a little if I notice a problem or mistake, but I stick with pretty much every project. In cases where something has turned out to be too big when it’s finished, I’d rather alter it with steeks or something than frog.
3. Yup, I wear them :) I’m proud to wear what I knit, and I knit things I know I’ll like. Granted I have not forayed into sweaters yet, and I always have trouble finding tops to flatter my body type when shopping, so maybe that’s why I have avoided them. I’m afraid to knit something and then never wear it! And since sweaters and tops are what have the most pill factor, most of my stuff has aged really well. With the exception of an early scarf that got a little stretched out of shape…
4. Nope! I know this may be abhorent to some, but I rarely swatch. I will take a measurement once I get going to see if I’m on track. In the rare cases where I’m not, I’ll recalculate the pattern’s instructions to (hopefully) fit the guage. Though I feel like I may swatch more seriously if I ever tackle a sweater…
5. I love surprises!
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Now, who would I like to see answer these questions? It looks like 5 is what we’re supposed to pick. Hmmm. Lynn, Ilana, Canadianchia, Kathleen, and Lee please!

Things I am excited about

1) The arrival (on my radar anyway) of a decent (I’ve seen some that leave something to be desired, let me tell you) knitting web comic – Worsted for Wear. It just started last fall, so it doesn’t take long to catch up reading it. Thanks to canadianchia for pointing it out to me.

2) The Toronto Edition of World Wide Knit in Public Day is now official and will be happening on Jun 9th.

3) The TTC Knitalong date for 2012 recently got announced. July 14th! Eagerly awaiting when registration starts :D

4) The Knitter’s Frolic was this past weekend. Look what I scored!

The pattern, Shetland Trader/Homin Shawl by Gudrun Johnston is meant for the lovely lilac-hued, lace weight, made-in-Ontario Alpaca you see on the left.

At the top is some Malabrigo sock, but a close up is necessary in order to appreciate its range of purples. I unfortunately lost the label, but I think it is 854 Rayon Vert. There are touches of green in it, albeit hidden in this ball.

Next there is this recycled sari silk yarn:

If you’ve never heard of recycled sari yarn, a quick Google search will tell you more, though basically it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s different, and colourful and silk is apparently very insulating. I only got the one skein to try, so wrist warmers here I come!

And a close up of the alpaca is required, of course.

Soooo soft. I have no words. I cannot wait to cast on that shawl.

Also in the above photo are two buttons handmade in South Africa. I liked the antique look to them.

Knit-In Recap

The Knit-In at Nathan Phillips Square in support of Toronto Public Library workers was a HUGE success. Thank you so much to everyone who came out. Some estimates pegged the number of participants as high as 200! That’s a pretty sizable group for a weekday event held on only 2 days notice.

A special thanks to Wise Hilda, Kate Atherley, and the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, both of whom not only retweeted about the event but even came out to lend their support!

I knew Kate was coming, and it was still awesome meeting her, but Stephanie was a surprise. I read her blog and have read all her books. I was star struck and ridiculously excited. I snapped this picture while I was still working up the nerve to talk to her. Then I moseyed on over to say hi and thank her for coming. Turns out she is really approachable and easy to talk to, which resulted in me running my mouth off and mentioning that I wish I’d brought a book for her to sign. Immediately after I left, the media descended on her. I’m hoping it’s not my fault because they overheard me indicate she’s famous… Sorry Stephanie!

Margaret Atwood gave us a shout out on her Twitter as well. Matter of fact, it was the same day this article came out.

Speaking of articles, we had a lot of media interest. Here is what’s been published:

First there was the Sun’s article featuring an image of yours truly. Glad they published that one and left this one to Twitter. It as windy out! I have a lot of hair!

Then came the National Post’s coverage. And the Globe and Mail including this great pic in their Day in Photos section. We’re photo #7.

And of course I count Kate’s including a mention of the event on the Knitty blog to be media too ;)

Some highlights:

“… participants laid out blankets on the asphalt and brought tupperware containers filled with apples and other snacks as they knit together skirts and scarves” – this National Post statement, combined with The Sun‘s Twitter photo caption makes me think I should have chosen another knitting project, one less easily associated with librarian stereotypes perhaps. It’s not your Grandma’s skirt, I promise! And what’s with the focus on blankets and snacks? Another reporter also said on Twitter that “striking library workers are being adorable again.” Thanks for the sentiment, but I counteract with this quote by yours truly in the plug the Bissell Bombers did for us: knitting is “…part and parcel of the stereotype of librarians as dowdy, grandmotherly figures. A Knit-In in support of a library both pokes light, tongue-in-cheek fun at this stereotype while simultaneously challenging it. Today’s knitters are full of passion and vitality. They choose to craft for the enjoyment of it and bring immense creativity to what they do. Such energy is a perfect fit for activist persuits, hence the rise of knit-ins and yarnbombings.” So there.

“Author and blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, known on the web as the Yarn Harlot, was at the protest, knitting what she hoped would be a scarf” – The Sun. That’s knitting for ya, you just have to close your eyes, knit, and will your desired object into existence. You can never know for sure what you’ll get.

And then, that very night it was annouced that a tentative agreement had been reached. I like to think that the knitters helped turn the tide, thank you very much.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a photo gallery.

In case you’re wondering, the partially obscured one says “Don’t pull the wool over your eyes.”

Childrens’ Librarians can’t help but bring their puppets to the picket line. This one got his own scarf out of the day!

Katie with some of her gorgeous cable knitting and lino-cut cards she makes and sells around town as well as on her website. These ones are yarn themed! The woman just oozes creativity.

This wedding party asked if they could have their picture taken with us! I can’t believe this happened in the 15 minutes I took for a coffee break.

The woman in pink is a new knitter and one of my coworkers. She was introduced to the knitter habit of ‘yarn groping’ after I impulsively squeezed her skein. The colour! It’s just so beautiful! (Turns out it’s Malabrigo worsted in 228 Snow Bird, by the way. You’re welcome)