Up in the northcountry

Only the weekend after Rhinebeck my knitting group had our annual cottage trip.

It’s always a great time, but an added bonus was that this year was especially productive for me.

Exhibit A) I learned how to chain ply on a spindle! In beautiful surroundings, no less.

You might recognize the Briar Rose roving and David Reed Smith spindle from my last post.

PS: if you haven’t heard of chain plying, you should look into it. It is magical, time saving, and generally awesome.

Exhibit B) I  learned how to use my spinning wheel. A big undertaking considering last time I tried it was at the Frolic.

After a bumpy start I finally got something that resembled yarn :D

Exhibit C) Happy Seamstress let me use her drum carder!

Wensleydale + second quality angora I got at Rhinebeck, plus some firestar = pretty AND pretty soft.

But perhaps the best part of the cottage is the time away from the city with friends, fibre, yarn, and good food.

      

I’ll leave you with the doodle Lynn left in the cottage owners’ guest book.

Relay Recap

Friday night into Saturday morning was the Canadian Cancer Society’s Toronto-Central Relay for Life in support of Sunnybrook Hospital’s Odette Cancer Centre.

Our team, Downtown Knit Collective, raised almost $13,000!! I myself raised my all-time best of $560! Thanks to those of you who saw my many requests and blog post and donated :D

In a typical relay you walk around the track all night from 7pm to 7am. Now, 12 hours is a LOT, so that’s why you register in teams, so that you can spell each other off, hence “relay.” Our team, however, has special dispensation to knit all night instead.

Though the reason for the event is serious and sobering, which is at times brought home by things like the Luminary ceremony, ultimately it is a fun night of camaraderie and hope. That and lots of sugar and coffee to help you stay awake.

    

There were also activities you could do on your breaks, including SUMO WRESTLING (yes, again. I don’t care it’s super fun) and these gigantic inflatable bouncy pony things that became the best thing ever at 3am.

CanadianChia even cut off her hair to donate to Locks of Love. And instead of just sending donors on their way, volunteer professional stylists styled your new cropped ‘do for free!

 

New this year was a Night Market. Naturally, we knitters had some wares for sale.

Flowers by the lovely Ilana

The cuteness of this hat just kills me.

Relay for Life 2014

Once again I’m participating in the Relay for Life on the Downtown Knit Collective‘s team.

We’re currently in third place for top fundraising team!!! (PS: if you feel like helping us get to number one, and donating to a very worthy cause you can donate by clicking here)

I’ve participated in the past (see here), but this year is particularly meaningful to me because my grandmother is fighting her battle with cancer. The same grandmother who taught me how to knit <3

This year also marks 10 years of the Downtown Knit Collective relay team. To celebrate we will be hosting a Fibre Arts Activity Area at our Team Site at the Relay. As you may remember, in order to help the relayers stay up all night there are various activity areas. In 2012 canadianchia and I got to wrestle in sumo suits (pics here). We are thinking of using our activity area to teach other relayers things like arm knitting and finger knitting, making a pompom, corking/spooling, knitting on a giant scarf, crochet, making a flower, demos of spinning on a wheel and needle felting.

There is also going to be a marketplace this year and we have been offered a table. We will be selling small items in the range of about $1 to $5, such as hand-knitted cancer ribbons.

I’m SO excited!!!

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!