Monthly Archives: May 2013

She who knits watches some TV too

People who knit sometimes like to do so while watching TV, and there seems to be a few series that resonate with knitters. Much like classical music can soothe, a good BBC series seems to whisk the knitting along. I have found myself gravitating to crime mysteries lately, and after browsing the net have discovered that procedural mysteries are a very popular choice with knitters. I think it’s because you can tune in and tune out and still keep up with the predictive plot. Here is a list of options should you find yourself in front of the telly with the needles in hand.

The Women’s Land Army inspired BBC series Land Girls
The 2 part BBC series Shetland
BBC’s Downtown Abbey
BBC’s Call the Midwife
BBC’s Wallander
The Killing
Hemlock Grove
House of Cards

I’m about to start watching Luther, and we’re starting the Sopranos from the beginning too – in case you want to watch along with me.

Knitters are also known to be fond of making blankets. I hadn’t been bitten by that particular bug and in fact could not understand the infatuation knitters have with the Beekeeper’s Quilt. It’s an insanely popular project, and the feedback is that the pieces that make up the quilt are extremely addictive. It seems like the kind of thing that could take forever to knit, and I can’t delay satisfaction that long. Or could I? I found a pattern (not the insanely popular one) that asks you to make a quilt from scraps, and just looking at it makes me wish I had that much scrap yarn to use. If I ever amass that kind of overflow this is what I would make:

This blanket pattern is called the Mindless Knitting, TV Watching, Scrap User-Upper Afghan and the picture above is from MargaretDS3 on Ravelry. I love the simplicity and crazy colour mix. Margaret calls her version “Loving What Is” which makes me want to attempt it even more.

I just need a million balls of scrap yarn now.

Today I will leave you with some pictures from a beautiful walk I took in Mount Royal Park one sunny spring day:

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(This proposal was painted on the railing at the top of Mount Royal over looking the river and the city. I thought it was pretty romantic)

Ker-ker ker-choo Two

It’s hot out east!

I was warned, but after ten years in a temporal rainforest I have lost all adaption to temperature variance. How do you get your hair not to frizz out? What is the point of make-up if it sweats off your face? How does all of North America (minus Vancouver) know the answer to these questions but me? When I lived in hotter climates before I didn’t do make-up, or hair. How do former sun worshipping thirty-somethings get to their offices and not look like they hiked up a mountain with gorillas? The metro itself is a sauna. I think it may just be me with these difficulties though, every Montrealer on the street tends to look fabulous.

I’m not really complaining, as I do love the sunshine. If it’s sunny in Vancouver you have to drop whatever it was you planned, if it wasn’t an outside activity, and get your butt outdoors to enjoy the weather while you can. You actually start craving vitamin D like candy. There is so much sun here, and I feel like I am somehow wasting it. I can ignore the weather and stay in if I want, or just trust that whatever outdoor activity I planned will work out because the chances of it raining are slim. It’s the reverse mentality I have become accustomed to.

So, in this new summer weather I am learning about, I doubt I’ll want to knit any more sweaters. It’s just not what you want to do on a 32 degree celsius (that’s 90 degrees fahrenheit for my American associates) day. Cotton market bags still seem do-able, and I finished my first this week.

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I learned a few new techniques from this first tote pattern. This market bag was knit on straight needles, sewn up the sides, with an I-cord handle joined with kitchener stitch. The pattern dictated that the sides be joined with crocheting, but I decided that I wouldn’t be that adventurous. Instead I folded the bag in half, threaded the stitches onto the needle by alternating a stitch from the front and the back, then knitting two stitches together (K2), and binding off those stitches as I went. It worked well, in my opinion. Kitchener stitch was a fun technique to learn, but if you know what to look for in the picture, you can see that I need some practice. I want to try using circular needles for the body of the next bag, which will eliminate the seaming step altogether. Wider handles would be nice, but the I-cord element is still a favourite, and so I may have to graft patterns to come up with the hybrid tote of my imagination.

Last night I also decided to take out the sewing machine again. I am not sure why. It was one of those evenings when the air was heavy, and no amount of trying to be still made you sweat less. I decided to distract myself with a small project. I had a couple vintage/vintage-looking kerchiefs that I attached some trim to, and voilà! a head-kerchief. C’est magnifique! Or at least I felt a little magnifiqe for sewing something that did not result in a thread ball inside the sewing machine. These actually work as intended, and that is progress my friends.

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Speaking of thread balls, I am still untangling the hank of yarn from Americos. Beginner Knitters, when some one offers to take a hank of yarn and make it into a skein for you, always say yes. Always. Even if your boyfriend is sick of yarn store browsing, and tapping his toes while staring at you with puppy dog eyes that implore you to please, please leave. So despite being super excited to knit up that marvelous hank into the gorgeousness it promises to be, I think once it is wound up in a ball I will put it away. I need to not look at it for awhile. Sorry my Becky, it’s a produce/market bag for you.

Have a wonderfully sunny day!

Ker-ker ker-choo à la main

One of the many great things about living in New Orleans was the people I met. Sometimes those people had mothers who could make crafts like nobody’s business, and you might find yourself trying to be even half as good over ten years later.

Growing up I was taught to appreciate the skill, time, and resourcefulness it takes to make things yourself.  I’ve always enjoyed making things, so I guess I was destined to become a fan of my good friend’s mother, Cindy. She would send gifts of her creations to her daughter in the mail and I was probably just as excited as my friend to see what was inside those packages. I am still awed and inspired by Cindy’s talent. She can sew, bead, paint, re-purpose, tie-dye, and who knows what else, but on top of that she always seemed to make items that were trendy before I even knew about the trend (which may or may not give you an idea about how hip I am). Cindy seemed to whip up these covetable items with amazing speed, but also with great craftsmanship. I’ve never been lucky enough to meet her, but I feel like I know her a little by then things she has made. One of Cindy’s many handmade creations were sewn kerchiefs. I thought of them when I was knitting the head-kerchiefs and head-wraps I’ve been obsessed by lately. It occurred to me that this woman I have never met is still inspiring me with her creativity and bespoke approach.

I made the first triangle knitted kerchief for my Grandmother’s birthday, but liked it so much I almost didn’t send it. It’s more comfortable than a headband, but also hides your unwashed/undyed/clean/wild hair. I could see how it would keep the sun off your head, and still be breathable, like a summer tam, or perhaps you could get it wet at the beach and wear it to keep your head cool since it’s made of cotton. It’s also strong enough to hold the shape when you pull it tight across your head, and doesn’t slip like a satin or silk scarf.

For the triangle kerchief I used an I-cord bind off, and I really liked the finished effect. It was an easy technique to learn and I preferred the thicker edging and rounded cords to tie the kerchief with. I thought of this technique while trying to come up with ideas for some fingerless hand warmers. I was given some hand spun yarn from a friend who lives near a sheep farm. The two small skeins were quite small, so I wasn’t sure what I could make with it. Two small cuffs seemed like a project that I could safely attempt, so I came up with a pattern to accommodate. I think they turned out super cute, and I really like the I-cord edging, and the bow detail for the wrist ties. I’ll be writing the pattern notes on Ravelry if anyone else wishes to recreate them. The yarn was so soft it was like knitting with cotton balls, or  fluffy kittens. So much fun.

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I found a free pattern for a head wrap called the Britta Lalena and made it with some modifications other knitters had recommended. I liked the idea of creating the button closure and a wider headband like “brim”‘ so I knitted a version of it in cotton, since I am now out of sock weight yarn completely, and decided to do the yellow version with a mesh pattern, rather than the eyelet (the red version, pictured below). The mesh pattern was inspired by some produce bags actually. One project seems to just flow into the next, and I have had to keep reminding myself lately that it is okay to love knitting so much, as it sometimes seems to swallow large chunks of time. Time I think I should maybe be doing other things with, but, I keep knitting.

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I still have kerchief patterns in mind that I want to knit up, but I am also making market bags, also out of cotton. We’re really impressed with Jean Talon market here in the city, and we’ve been going back quite often to buy produce. My friends across the country garden themselves, and I think these cotton produce bags will be handy to haul the bounty of the garden into the house. The great thing about cotton is you can wash the produce right in the bag and then hang it to dry with the produce inside, or use them to store your produce in the fridge or counter so tender items don’t get bruised. Mine will be for market apples and oranges, but I think I may also make bags to hang onions and potatoes in. I’ll be gifting a lot of these too, so I think I have a full summer line up of knitting produce and market bags.

As a side note, I want to say that if you haven’t tried pears sliced on top of Liberty organic cream cheese, with a sprinkle of honey and cinnamon, you haven’t lived. I am off to make myself something like this while I wonder what kind of handicraft Cindy could be up to now. Have a wonderful day!

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It’s not sweater weather

All of a sudden the weather switched on summer temperatures. Without an ocean to sit next to, or catch a breeze from, I was definitely feeling the heat. The quick weather changes are new to me, but I enjoy the way in which our new surroundings are changing and showing us something new. We’re now enjoying cool spring breezes along with the sunshine, but it’s still not sweater weather anymore.
The park by our house is almost a daily excursion, as it is for scores of our neighbours. I brought the vest along for a stroll in the park, and some friendly francophones smiled at the project and said some things I couldn’t quite understand yet, but it still made me feel good.
I completed the vest a couple weeks ago, but just got the pictures together today. The bulky yarn I used was partly left over from a leg warmer project from Christmas 2011. I topped up the yarn I had left over with more Berocco Vintage when I went to Toronto. The pattern is called Explorer by Julie Gilliver and it is an amazing value for $3. I now have a vest pattern that includes all sizes from newborn to size 5, with any yarn weight. There are plenty of vest patterns to try, but this pattern seemed like an investment. It was an added bonus that the pattern is top-down, and seamless. It was so nice to complete the neck and arm shaping first. The bulkier yarn combined with the great pattern made it a fun project that was really quick. My only set back was running out of the darker yarn for all the banding, so I hope the contrasting neckband works.

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The finished product is really a thick knit. This is the kind of vest that could sub in for a fall jacket, and is definitely going to be winter wear that can be used for layering in the cold. I hope Mr. Eli gets to use it to play outdoors in his new northern home. ❤