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Posts from January 2009

Now what do I do?

I think I was "out of sorts" last night because I got myself into a knitting-related pickle that I now kinda regret.
 
I took apart this sweater (cozy Tagliatelli) because while I love the yarn, I never was very happy with the sweater.  It was shapeless and too tight in the armsyce and just not right. 
 
I meant to just remove the collar to see what I could do to merely modify it, but the yarn is slippery and it started to unravel and by midnight all that was left knit-up was a sleeve and a half and I wished I hadn't done that.
 
But this morning I see opportunity.  Here are my ideas:
 
1. Top down raglan with a split neck.  I'm not sure if a seamless sweater with merino ribbon is a good idea though--I think it might just stretch to my feet (infinity and beyond).  But it would be comfy and cozy.  A new and improved version of the original (if it doesn't stretch).  I would use EZ's "pattern" for this one.  But it would look a bit like this (no ribbing though).
 

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2. A Linden-like jacket--the yarn is very drapey and a Linden shape without the cable would be interesting    IT is in my queue already, but with this yarn it's a different knit (at least in my mind).  I don't think I have enough yarn to do the cable so would probably do a ribbed edge, or even a rolled edge.
 
3. Martha cardi. I've tried on Kim's and while it look a bit unique, it looked great on me.  I would need to adjust the gauge, but it appears to be blocks that are sewn together so it wouldn't be too hard.  Again, drapey which favours the yarn.
 
4. Lara is a favourite in my sweater pile and something with the same construction--sleeve to sleeve, all one piece, would be perfect.  I would need to change the gauge and I don't want to do all that math.  Does anyone know of a bulky version of the same sweater?  Or perhaps I get out my calculator...
 
Any other suggestions?  The yarn is a bulky merino ribbon and I would need something that works up to 3.25 sts to the inch or less because I have limited and slightly unknown yarn.

All I can think of is "cult of domesticity"

Let me start with a little story...

When I was a teenager, I worked at the public library, which meant that I spent a lot of time around books.  For some reason that I can't remember I took out a book on horoscopes which provided long profiles of the various astrological signs and what personality qualities those people had.  I was completely horrified with the Cancer profile which stated that I was going to be happiest as a mother, nurturing a brood of children, keeping a perfect home, baking, being a homebody and a bunch of other stuff that made this young budding feminist cringe.  There was no way I was going to end up like that.

Now here I am almost 25 years later and I'm feeling a sting of irony. 

It's not because I'm a mother, or because I am a bit of a homebody.  It's certainly not because I keep a perfect home (unless they meant a perfect disaster). 

Nope.

It's because I'm weaving dish towels. 

By choice.

I don't particularly like doing dishes.  Nor do I feel that my store bought dish towels are inadequate in some way (the orange and red heart ones from Ikea are really quite pleasing). 

I'm just content with the idea that I can make my own dish towels using my stash of hempathy. 

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Hemp dish towels.

What next?  Macrame?  (If I ever consider that, please arrange an intervention.)

I know that doing things for one's home and for one's own pleasure is not anti-feminist--though I can also remember that university women's studies course where I learned about the "cult of domesticity".  And learning a new skill like weaving and learning to apply it with different materials like hemp and with new techniques is the point of this exercise. Nothing wrong with that.

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I was inspired by my new weaving books (I'll do proper reviews soon), and the need to try out something new.  I've already messed up and realize that these towels (I'm doing three on one warp) will likely be too drapey because I should have used a 12.5 dpi reed, not the 10dpi (fewer slots and holes).  I'm hoping they'll shrink in the wash. 

But I'm having fun.

Both with the weaving and that little recollection about my strong, self-assured, know-it-all teenaged self.


The Big Reveal

Voila!  The stairs are complete:

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They were actually finished last Sunday, but last week didn't present time for a proper post.  After all the work we did to get these finished, they deserved a proper DIY reveal.

 
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When we bought the house, the stairs were painted white, had a green runner and orangey-stained railings.  The post looked like a dog chewed it (because a dog chewed it) and the runner was 99% dirt.  It didn't suit our style and was pretty ugly.

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We decided to pull off the carpet and to our surprise, they painted the stairs just enough to hide the runner.  And the runner was hiding a whole lot of junk like old glue and fuzz and dog hair and other stuff that is nightmare-inducing.  It was disgusting. 

So we decided to strip the stairs of all the peeling paint and disgusting stuff and repaint them.  Once I realized what a big job that would be, I gave myself 10 years to complete it.

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We got it done in less than 2.

Old houses have a certain charm, which means that no corner is square, stuff has bumps and nicks and evidence that lots of people have lived here and without completely ripping things out and replacing them, they will always have some part of that left. 

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So our stairs aren't perfectly smooth or even; but they are sturdy and straight. 

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We decided to add trim to mask the not-so-perfect edges where the Bitter Chocolate meets the Natural Linen and I'm very pleased with the effect; it gives the treads a bit more heft and makes things look much straighter.

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We had to use alkyd paint on the treads and at first the plan was to do the railings the same colour.  It was such a pain to work with, that I used the riser paint instead and while we were a bit unsure about the colour at first, we're used to it now and will live with it for a while. If it proves too difficult to keep clean, or we just don't like it, I'll get some latex paint in the brown colour and re-do them.  It will be a bit of a challenge because I'll need to take out a teeny artist brush to paint where the railing meets the walls or ceiling (which are the same colour as the risers so it was easy!), so there's another reason to love the railing I already have.

I'm so happy with how it turned out.  But at least right now I can say I will never tackle that job again.  Well at least not at this house.


Time for a knitting update post

Sorry I've been gone for a while.  Things have been unsettled at home and work has been busy and, and... you get the picture.

We survived Emma's first slumber party. It was made easier by Xander going to Cub Camp for the weekend (he had a blast at his first away-from home, not with family, nights away) and by the fact that the two girlfriends of Emma's are charming, polite kids.  They watched 4 of 6 Star Wars movies (starting with the originals--also showing their good taste), ate pizza and cookies and popcorn, giggled (but not too much) and didn't sleep much. 

I, on the other hand, sat with Craig in our bed, read, knit, played Scrabble and struggled to keep my eyes open long enough to go downstairs to tell them it was light's out time.  Then I crashed and didn't hear a thing. 

I also have had some time to knit (whilst watching Colin Firth brood in Pride and Prejudice).  I finished a warmer tam for myself.  I know Emma has it on--I had really bad morning hair and had her volunteer.  She's not getting it though.  She has enough of my handknit accessories.

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It's Three Tams and it was a nice, quick knit.  I find that the tam isn't floppy enough for me, so I didn't over  shape it and it's a usable hat.  The yarns are Paton's Classic Merino and Noro Kureyon (124?); I'm really pleased with the colours.

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I would like to do another FI beret that is more like my Gretel (in shape), or knit one of Gudrun's beautiful new designs.  I also might do a striped one using leftovers from my earth-stripe wrap, but don't think that's windproof enough for our current weather.

Things are progressing with the Drops Cardi.  I finished a front piece and started on the back.  This has been my easy knitting.  And it is good.

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And my TIFF socks are back in the works again.  Since the Film Festival was in September I should call these something else.  Emma has claimed these ones and is hounding me to finish.

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Bohus is back in the basket.  I hope to get back into it this week, but so far haven't had the brain-power to consider where I'm at with the pattern and where I'm going.  I am not following the pattern as written (doing it in the round instead of flat, added waist shaping and will fit it to my body as I go) so it's not just a sit and knit thing.


Double Digits!

My baby is 10 today.

Double digits.

One-teen (my father called me that when I turned ten).

A decade.

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When the hell did that happen?  While the terrible-twos and the sleepless times of having a toddler and a baby are a fuzzy memory, it doesn't seem all that long ago that Emma was a a baby and now she's grown to be a great kid.  A smiley, fun-loving, zany girl who tackles everything with joy and exuberance.

Tonight we celebrated as a family with a great meal at our favourite Japanese place--Aji Sai.  Emma branched out and tried a Tobiko sushi and we had powdered mini donuts as her cake (it's what she wanted). 

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She completed the  Star Wars DVD series and has a bit of money to spend on something else (she'll probably save it). Saturday two friends are coming over for a sleep over (our first as the host) and hopefully they'll engage in some sleeping.

Serious fun for the one-teen set. 

Happy Birthday Emma!


Reason 1268 why I hate sewing

8:00am this morning...

Xander: Mom!  You forgot to sew the badges on my Cub uniform.
Me: It's a bit late to tell me this.  I have to go to work and won't have time to do it before your meeting tonight.  I will try though.

6:15pm...

Me: Xander, I will be in the basement putting your badges on.  Tell me where they go on your shirt?
Xander: Badges A, B and C go on the left sleeve, badge D on the right sleeve.
Me: Are you sure?
Xander: Yes.

6:45pm...
Me: Xander, your badges are secured with iron-on tape and I put some stitches in each one so they don't fall off.  I will put them on properly this week some time.

7:00pm at the meeting...

Me: Xander, they're on the wrong arm.
Xander: Oops.

Sigh.


The Outlook is Random

Right now, I'm sitting in a class to learn how to use MS Outlook Exchange.  While the move to the new program is welcome because the techno-geek in me is happy that I can sync my calendar to my phone, it is not all that big of a deal and the program itself is familiar to me.

So I'm bored and I'm going to inflict my boredom on you.

1. The stairs are almost done.  Those cutesy DIY shows where people swap houses and decorate do not show you all the time that is spent on the last 5% of the pretty making.  The part where you fill in all the nail holes with caulk, sand down corners, plane edges and all the other stuff that would be called "finishing" in knitting speak like blocking, seams, weaving in edges etc.  For our very old house, it's been feeling like I'm duplicate stitching argyle lines like I did on this sweater and will never do. again.  All that's left is a bit of sanding and some paint (with a teeny brush).  Then we're tackling the bathroom (and I'm feeling a bit dizzy).

2. When I cave, I cave big time.  I'm almost finished the first front piece of the Drops Cardi (should call it "the other sweater") and now I've decided a new hat for the cold weather that's coming.  I've chosen this one and I need to decide between using the leftovers from my Poppy sweater (so olive main colour and silk garden prettiness) or some odds balls (black main colour and Noro 124 to match my fingerless mitts).  I'm in the black mood today.

3. I finally got it together and woke up early and used the Wii Fit.  I've been doing it at other times, but was planning on the 6am exercise plan for the new year.  I like that I'm 4lbs lighter first thing in the morning. 

4. Scrabulous is back on Facebook!  I missed it so much. 

5. This cookie I'm eating is good.  I have not idea what kind of cookie it is--there are poppy seeds and raisins and coconut in it and I wish I had the recipe.

6. Someone in this class just came and told me how great a class I taught in November was.  That was really nice and made my day.  I didn't think I missed teaching, but sometimes I do.  I don't miss students and marking so much though.  I see the fun of freelance training--new students all the time.  Hmmm.  File under future career ideas.

We're getting to the hard part.  Time to listen.


The Deal

My plan for 2009 is to "slow stash" as Clara Parkes puts it, but that doesn't mean I don't want other fibrey related things.  I decided it was good to make a list to refer back to, so I can think about what things I might like instead of yarn, or to facilitate the use of those yummy yarns I already have.

Books:

Alice Starmore's Fair Isle Knitting (I confess I don't knit a lot of FI, but I love this book for all the technical advice it provides). 

The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving (Revised Edition).  Not sure why I can't find it in Canada yet, but want to buy locally.

Creative Weaving - Beautiful Fabrics with a Simple Loom.  I'm told this is a good beginner book.

Equipment:

Boat Shuttles.  To try them out.  I think they would be faster than stick shuttles, but don't know.

Loom stand.  Then I can weave sitting on the couch or at least in front of the tv.  That I don't really have a place for a loom on a stand (it currently resides under the couch when not in use) is an issue (one that I am sorta ignoring).

A second heddle kit.  To push my weaving into different territory.  But need to read more about this first.

Fringe twister.  I can do it by hand, but this looks easier.

Just 'cause:

Iphone.  I've wanted one since they came to Canada and missed out on the opportunity to upgrade my phone for the same cost as a new customer so I've been waiting for my upgrade price to come down.  I noticed it has.  A lot.  (Note: Canadian cell phone contracts are rather byzantine due to the small market--it ain't easy to make changes.)  Soon my pretty.  Soon you will be mine.  Then I can have my patterns in my phone and ravelry.  So it counts for this post.


Totally Caved

I really thought I was humming along on my Grey Mist Bohus.

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It's almost at the hem--I figure another 4 inches--then sleeves.

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But then, I just broke.  All those teeny stitches.  All that knitting to discover that you've only knit about 2 cms.  It was just too much.  I wanted some instant gratification.  I checked my Ravelry queue, then my stash and I caved.

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It's the infamous Drops Cardigan in my lovely stashed Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran in Hero.

I knit for about 2 hours and completed a full sized swatch and this much of the front.  It felt gratifying.

Another night of this should cure my Bohus blues and tomorrow I'll only take it to knit night so I can get back to working on it again.  Just holding it for the photos reminded me how beautiful and soft it is.


Not a finished Bohus, but still something finished...

I've been putting most of my knitting attention toward finishing my Grey Mist Bohus in time to actually wear it a few times this winter, which means not casting on any new projects, and finishing the other ones that are on the needles. 

One of those WIPs was the Hansel mittens I was designing to go with my Gretel hat.

I finished them last night and rather like them.  They look better on my hands because the cable stretches out--I forgot about my camera timer when I was taking these and now there isn't enough daylight.
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I used the other ball of Foxhill Farms Cormo I bought at Rhinebeck this year and have enough leftover for a little neck warmer or headband (I feel so matchy). They are nice and warm on a mild winter day and the yarn is nice and soft.

The only tough part of the design was figuring out how to decrease for the top and a bit of thought was needed to deal with cables that don't run the round of the mitten, but all in all it was fun to design a little something.

I have the pattern written up and am considering doing a charted version to sell or share (probably sell--that chart is going to take some time to do).  I even had the cables cross in opposite directions on each mitten.

Now I'm just down to socks and Bohus.