Stash Busters

How do you use up your left overs? You know what I’m talking about: those little part balls, left over from that pair of socks or sweater you finished months ago.

I’m very much a Type A personality (or as a friend says, Type A++), and I’m super organized, so having these odds and ends kicking about my very precious yarn storage space drives me nuts.  When you have a quarter of a skein left, what do you do? It’s not enough to make anything of true substance… but sometimes it’s just enough.

I’ve been on a stash busting kick, trying to clear away those part skeins and odds and ends.

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A few odd balls of DK acrylic are quickly becoming a simple triangle shawl. I may need to buy one more ball to make it a good, proper shawl length.

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The left over Diamond Tradition from the Soper Creek Yarn Challenge are becoming a quick seed stitch cowl.

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Finally, those odd sock ends are becoming squares for a sock yarn blanket. I am ultimately pondering if I make it a true sock yarn memory blanket and only make one square with the yarn, or do I keep busting that stash and just make as many little squares with the yarn that I can. Decisions, decisions.

Happy knitting!

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The Earl Kitchener and His Stitch

If you’re a sock knitter, or at least have made a pair or two, you may be familiar with the Kitchener Stitch, a common form of grafting, creating a seamless toe.  To a novice knitter, the Kitchener stitch may appear to be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, the Kitchener stitch is fairly straight forward.  I actually like doing the Kitchener stitch – call me strange, but I find it relaxing and somewhat gratifying. Knit, purl, purl, knit, repeating over and over until the sock is complete.

I had honestly never given any thought to the name, but really, why would I have?  That’s the technique, and it creates a lovely finish to my sock.  But a few weeks ago, I followed a link from the Knitty Blog to a YouTube video, the Secret History of Knitting, where they discuss knitting and World War I.  Well, wasn’t my mind blown when the connection was made – it’s the Kitchener stitch after Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener. *insert sound effect of mind being blown*

Who is the Earl Kitchener?

Born in 1850 in Ireland, Horatio Herbert Kitchener would go on to become a high ranking official in the British army, seeing action in the Franco-Prussian War, the Mahdist War, the Second Boer War, and the First World War.  His image has become a piece of propaganda history as his face was immortalized on the “Your Country Needs You” poster.

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He died in 1916 when the HMS Hampshire, a ship he was sailing on, was sunk by a German mine off the Orkneys (near the Northern Isles of Scotland).

Aspects around Kitchener’s involvement with his ‘stitch’ remain uncertain.  Some claim that Kitchener himself helped to design a sock pattern that included a new seamless method of grafting the toe, however, others say that Kitchener’s actual involvement is rooted more in lore than fact.  Indeed, knitting historian Richard Rutt claims that this grafting technique (known commonly as Kitchener Stitch) was invented around 1880.  Later, in 1918, Vogue magazine published a sock pattern with a grafted toe and called it the Kitchener sock, crediting Lord Kitchener for being a war effort champion, but Vogue did not claim he was the pattern ‘designer.’

I do have to ponder, why would a senior officer in the British army invent a knitting stitch?  One would think he would have more to occupy his time with, what with the largest conflict to date raging on. Kitchener was a strong advocate for the Red Cross and the homefront initiatives, including knitting, and he was concerned that having a seam at the toe could contribute to or worsen soldiers’ foot issues.

Whether he actually invented the stitch or not, sock knitters everywhere are grateful for the stitch that bears his name, the perfect way to finish off your sock.


*Did You Know: Kitchener, Ontario was named in honour of Earl Kitchener.  He died at a time when anti-German sentiments were at a peak in the then-named City of Berlin.  To try to dispel these sentiments, the city was renamed in honour of the popular and recently fallen Field Marshal.


Thanks to Knitty for sharing this video and getting me thinking about the Kitchener Stitch – the article that sparked this thinking is HERE.

There was a fantastic discussion on Ravelry outlining basic info on Kitchener, his comparison to Uncle Sam, and, of course, the ‘Stitch’ and that can be read HERE.

The BBC has a short yet succinct bio of Horatio Herbert Kitchener where can be read HERE.

Finally, other bloggers have looked into Kitchener and his namesake stitch, and you could read about it HERE and HERE (to share only a few of the many sites out there).

Ugh… Ladders…

Knitters, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t mean the very helpful devise for reaching things too high up:

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I have nothing against these ladders.

I’m talking about these bad boys right here:

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I consider myself a fairly experienced knitter. Sure, there are things that throw me for a loop sometimes (knitting pun unintentional, just a very happy coincidence), but I’m proud of my skills and what I can do with sticks and string. And then, every so often, a project comes along that keeps me humble – these mittens is one such pattern.

A volunteer at my Museum came to me and asked me to make her a pair of mittens, and in exchange this very talented sewer will make me a few accessories to go with my costume. A very fair trade and I happily accepted.  I bought the amazing yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca, cream in colour), cast on to my DPNs and started knitting. And then they started. The ladders. Those cursed ladders. Regardless of how I was snugging the yarn before the start of each needle, they just kept coming, and in my mind, getting worse with each round.

I turned to the Ravelry community and their oh-so helpful forums for advise, and ultimately, I dashed out to my LYS and bought circular needles with a very short cable. Frogged, cast on, and away I went.

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Now, I’m happy.

Frolic – 2016 Edition

How much do I love the Knitter’s Frolic?  I posted last year after attending what was my first Frolic, the knitting event hosted by the Toronto Knitter’s Guild.  It’s essentially ComicCom for knitters with the market place open on Saturday with vendors from all over the province and sometimes beyond, and there are additional workshops that one could register for where you can learn all sorts of techniques.

After last year, I knew how dangerous this event could be to one’s bank account, so I had been squirreling away spare cash for weeks and intentionally left my credit card at home.  I am so very happy with my new purchases.

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Before showing off the yarny goodness, I’ll start with the book I bought – Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known in the knitting community as the Yarn Harlot. I just picked this book up from my library and fell in love with it, so when I saw a copy for purchase, it had to come home with me.

Yarn Harlot was actually at the Frolic this year, leading some workshops, and I had a yarn fangirl moment when I saw her around the Frolic a number of times! I was sorely tempted to kinnear her, but I resisted – follow the link to find out just what kinnearing is!

Now for the good stuff!

My cotton DK from Dye-Version, based in Mississauga:

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The colourway – Blue Steel! I couldn’t resist

From Shelridge Farm in  Durham, ON, two skeins of fingering wool, Peacock colour, and a pattern that I can (and will) make with it.

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And from Stitch Please (how can you not love that name!!), fingering merino, colourway Men in Tights.

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I am so suckered in by fun names…

I also tried something new this year and I volunteered! It was a last minute decision on my part to send the email and commit, but I am so glad I did!  I spent two hours winding yarn from skein to cake, and it was so much fun! I was able to chat with people, something I love to do, and I got to see all the lovely yarn that people were buying! And besides, winding yarn is fun.  I’d love to help out again next year at the winding station, and I won’t wait until the week before to commit!

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