Still in Progress

I think I unsuccessfully attempted to write last week’s post many times over, starting in one direction, trying something else. Ultimately, I was blog-silent last week, and that’s okay because it meant I had more time for knitting.  Much like in my last post, I’m still knitting furiously trying to finish what I need to for the holidays.

I did get those socks for my Grandma finished, and I love them.

They were so simple: mostly plain vanilla, letting the variegation in the yarn shine, but the cable running along the side of the foot adds enough interest to break up the monotony that vanilla socks can pose. There were a few times when I forgot to cable on the cable row, so I was able to practice the skill of dropping stitches, cabling, then picking them back up.

I’m thinking of writing up the pattern and adding it to the Ravelry database, but I’ve never done that before. I’d also be very tempted to add a modest price for the pattern, but I don’t know if they are interesting enough to justify the cost, and those sound like even more hoops to jump through.  If anyone has any experience with that, please leave comments! I’d love to hear more about the process and how you found it!

Wishing you well in the two weeks before Christmas, and hopefully your holiday knitting is coming along well!

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In Progress

Well, here we are, the last week of November, and the crunch for holiday knitting is ON! Do you feel the pressure yet? That tiny, ticking in the back of your brain that marks the time spent (or not spent) working on those items to be gifted? No, just me?

I’ve been working away at a few different items through the past weeks. Two gifts are done, more than that are in progress. I’m struggling on one pair of socks. I can write about them because they’ll be for my grandmother, and I don’t think she’s discovered this humble blog. Writing about my frustrations won’t spoil any surprises for her.

I’m working on a pair of socks for Grandma, but I’m fresh out of inspiration. I know what I want out of the project: a pattern I haven’t made before, with an interesting texture or pattern detail. I don’t want these to be simple vanilla socks.

The yarn is lovely. That was the easy part. I bought this yarn from a local indie dyer: Lake Knit Yarns. The colourway is called Storm Across the Valley. Isn’t that fabulous?

After trying a few different simple cable/twist stitch designs and after ripping back twice (the first time, it was salvageable; the second time was a full rip back) I’ve decided on an almost vanilla sock: lots of stockinette with a very simple cable which will run along the outside of the foot. At least, that’s the plan. It lets the yarn really shine but adds a touch of interest. I’ve knit much farther than the above photo, almost done the leg, in fact, and I haven’t had the urge to rip back a third time. I think this pattern’s a winner.

Happy knitting!

Knitting the Distance Pt. II

A few weeks ago, while updating my Needles and Hooks stash on Ravelry, I went through my projects and updated the yarn used. In doing so, Ravelry can see how many metres (or yards, if you prefer) you have used in your projects, and at the very bottom of your projects page, it tells you how many metres are in all of your projects combined. The last time I looked at this number, I had used over 16,000 metres, or 16 kilometres, and I wrote a post about how far that was exactly. Feeling rather Type-A, I went through all of my projects and updated the yarn used wherever possible. If the yarn remnants was close by and not entered in Rav, I updated it.  I didn’t dig or spend hours searching for yarn deep in the bowels of my stash, but if it was handy, I updated.

This brought my grand total of ‘Metres Used’ to 25,477m (25.4 kilometres or 15.7 miles). I’ve knit more than a half marathon. Just let that sink in.

Just another one of the fun features that Ravelry boasts.

On Using Those Ravelry Features

I think it’s safe to assume most knitters know about Ravelry.  If you don’t, stop reading this post and get yourself an account. Ravelry is the largest and best online knitting community website. It’s social network meets pattern database meets personal database. In short, it’s awesome.

Everyone uses Ravelry in their own ways. I use ‘My Notebook’ feature quite frequently, adding WIPs and tracking favourites. I’m not as faithful with the stash feature, but it is handy if you’re looking for project inspiration; you can see what other knitters have made with the same yarn. This isn’t what I want to talk about today. Today I want to sing the praises of the Needles & Hooks tracker.

I was wanting to start a new project; pattern was printed, yarn purchased, but I realized I didn’t have the right circular needles for the project. In fact, I needed four different needles, different sizes, all 16″ in length. Many of you may be thinking I could use DPNs for such a project, but I prefer circular, and I digress. As much as I LOVE new needles, my bank account just couldn’t face this investment.  My solution? I turned to thrift shops. A few weeks ago, at one of the better shops in the ‘hood, I hit the motherload. There were at least 15 sets of circular needles, all various sizes and length, and the shop was asking a whopping 99¢ each.

This is where personal preference comes in. The vast majority of the needles appeared to be Aero, or something very similar, and I have a soft spot for this workhorse needle.  When I started knitting, Grandma passed along her knitting supplies, many she acquired from her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother. Many of the needles I inherited were Aero needles, and after decades of use, they are still going strong. I may be a bit of a needle snob, but I won’t turn my nose up at Aero.

Seeing a wide selection of affordable needles, in a brand that I can appreciate, I was quite happy. Enter the Needle & Hook Ravelry feature.

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Using the feature is so easy and super helpful. I have managed to keep this feature updated with the needles I’ve purchased, and in that thrift shop, I was able to pull up Ravelry, look at what needles I already had, and selected which ones to buy. Some were excluded because of duplication and some were excluded because I didn’t like the look of the cord, but I walked out of the store with 6 new needles for $6 (plus tax).

Another great feature about this tracker is that you can leave notes about the needles. Here is what I’ve entered for my 5mm, 16″ needles:

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I’ve included details about the needles themselves. Now, admittedly, this is super nit-picky, but I like being about to pin-point which needle is which.

Ravelry has many wonderful features, some I’m sure I haven’t have the chance to use yet, but I would encourage any knitter to take advantage of the Needles and Hooks feature. You may never know when you’re faced with the chance to buy a lot of needles and need to know what you already own.

It’s a PineHatpple

The name my sister gave to this project. We’re both uber dorks.

A friend from the Museum Studies days was having a baby. This friend and I started working in the same city within a few months of each other, at different cultural organizations, and even after she moved on to a different opportunity in Toronto, we would still get together a few times a year for dinner, drinks, and to catch up.  She is notorious for her pineapple collection.  When I found out she was having a baby, how could I NOT knit her something pineapple related.

Here is the PineHatpple

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Finding the right pineapple hat on Ravelry wasn’t easy, and I ended up combining elements from two different patterns, following the lead of others who did the same thing.

The hat was made from the Pineapple hat pattern by Becky Veverkar. It was knit in the round with the wrong side facing you. As you knit the hat, the inside has the wonderful bobble-y texture taking form, and before you add the crown, you turn it inside out. The crown was made from pineapple tea cozy pattern, linked here. If it looks a little dodgy, don’t worry. Both the hat and crown patterns have been ‘archived.’  The yarn used was Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash.

Not long after the hat was sent to my friend, I got a lovely text back with her new daughter wearing the pineapple. I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out and that I was able to make it for a good friend.

Visiting Yarns Untangled

Last week, I found myself walking about Toronto with a little spare time on my hands. It was a toss-up between visiting the ROM or AGO, or going to a yarn shop. Not overly interested in either special exhibit being offered at the museums (but I’m sure they are wonderfully curated and exciting to visit!), I walked over to Kensington Market and visited Yarns Untangled.

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Thanks to a newly created Heritage Minute, I learned earlier that week about the history of Kensington Market and how it grew and evolved to the niche neighbourhood it is today. Unfamiliar with Heritage Minutes? You must not be Canadian (“Dr. Penfield, I smell burnt toast!). Want to see the newest addition to the Heritage Minute collection? Head over to Historica Canada’s YouTube channel for new and classic parts of our heritage.

Yarns Untangled opened in 2015, in the former home of Lettuce Knit. It was a cozy shop, with a table full of lovely yarn and beautiful finished objects greeting you as you walk in.  The staff who was working that afternoon was friendly and happy to offer assistance as I asked for a specific circular needle for a project.

And, of course, I bought yarn.  They carried a wide selection with many indie dyers being profiled, including Riverside, based in Quebec, Ontario’s Blue Brick, and Lichen and Lace from Nova Scotia.

I bought a lovely skein of DK yarn from Mineville Wool Project.  As YU describes on their website: “Part of the joy of the Mineville yarns is getting to name the colourways ourselves, and this time we chose the theme of Toronto landmarks and neighbourhoods.”  The ON Science Centre colourway came home with me.

For one year, between 2010 and 2011, I worked at the Ontario Science Centre as a Host. I walked around the Science Centre wearing a white lab coat talking to visitors and sharing cool science-y facts with them. My science knowledge wasn’t huge when I started; I was hired more for my strong customer service background. The science could be taught. It really was a fantastic year where I got to meet new people, share some of my enthusiasm, and the team of Hosts were some of the smartest, kindest, most awesome people I have been fortunate to work with.

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When I saw that this skein was named after a place I will forever have wonderful memories of, there was no way I was leaving the store without it. It will make a beautiful cowl, one with a fun tie to a special place for me.

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Where were we? Oh, right… Knitting

After an unintentional week off, I’m back at the blog. No real reason why there wasn’t a post last week, unless you count a terribly busy week and a half. What have I been up to?

The week after Canadian Thanksgiving saw two days in the office (co-leading education programs both days), one day at a conference, and Friday the 13th co-ordinating a paranormal investigation on site.  The conference was amazing, for so many different reasons. It was a conference for other Museum professionals in Ontario, and conferences are always great for connecting with colleagues and friends you don’t always get to see because of geography. There are always inspiring sessions and workshops, also making conferences fantastic opportunities. Personally, this conference was remarkable because my co-workers nominated me for an award of excellence, which I received that evening. It was amazing, overwhelming, humbling, nerve-wracking, and truly a gratifying experience.  I feel like I have a lot to live up to, but I’m up for the challenge with my career.

The paranormal investigation was a lot of fun as well.  My museum works exclusively with a local group, and I’d considered many of the team members as my friends; really a great group of guys. We sold a small amount of tickets and increased the time allowed in the museum so the guests really could make the most of the experience. There were some strange bangs and knocks heard, but nothing to really change my septic mind. I’m not completely closed minded on the subject, and I know we’d be happy to have these investigators back. Maybe I’ll be convinced next time.

The following day, my best friend and I were on our way to Kingston to see the Barenaked Ladies as part of their Canada One-Five-Oh tour. Oh my goodness. It was a phenomenal show.  We’ve seen BNL so many times through the years (three this year alone), and this ranks up there as one of the best shows we’ve been to.  Small, intimate theatre, phenomenal set list, great music. There’s a reason they are my favourite band. We ended up meeting three of the four band members after the show, who remembered us because we were the girls in the front row dancing to every song. This was just a great girls weekend away.

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Last week, why I didn’t blog (as if the week before wasn’t busy enough), I worked most weeknights, and Monday evening I went into Toronto to hear Alan Doyle talk about his new book.  My sister and I ended up getting a picture with him as well.

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Whenever I was able, I had yarn in my hands.  I finished the Dodging Rain Drops Cowl I cast on in early October. It’s a paid pattern in Ravelry, and I’d recommend spending the money and supporting the designer of this beautiful cowl.

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I’ve been working on socks which will be a Christmas gift, which I’ve just picked up again after frogging them and putting them into a time out. Turns out my gauge isn’t what it typically is with a lacework sock pattern… we’re on better terms now after I went down a needle size. There were some hard feelings right after the frogging, let me tell you…

And I’ve been very happily working on my Bigger on the Inside shawl, using yarn I dyed myself earlier this summer.  Once I got used to the ‘Time Vortex Lace’ pattern that Kate Atherley designed, it’s easy to memorize and quite fun to knit.

And with this update, I’m back to knitting. The socks are calling my name.