Posts categorized "Helpful Hints"

Now What? Ideas for Canadian Feminists

We made the Pussyhats.

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We marched...on every continent.

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It was affirming and inspiring.

Many of us had never marched before (or for me, for many years). 

The Women's March was the START.

Now what?

Here's some suggestions (all of which I'm making to myself as well as you):

1. Make a plan.

Start with Jenny Zhang's guide to activism for frustrated Canadians, it's filled with good ideas on how to get started. Give yourself some goals (like an activist FitBit): write a letter a week, call one of your representatives every month, attend a local meeting to learn about a cause that energizes you, organize your friends to join you. It's easy to go Hell Ya! We Marched! and then go back to regular life. Now's the time to create a new habit of being involved. 

2. Do something concrete

Retweeting or posting stuff to Facebook is good to spread the word, and yes, politicians pay attention to social media, but it's NOTHING compared to writing a real letter, phoning your MPP or attending a meeting. It's free to mail your MPP and the printed word in an envelope is considered much more important than a Tweet. Show those in power you mean business. 

3. Do what you can, and try to do a bit more.

Contacting your elected officials or donating money to an important cause might be what fits your current life/circumstances/comfort level. Great, keep doing that. But, also consider making new connections to organizations, or attending a public consultation. Stretching yourself will benefit the causes you care about and expand your sphere of activism.

4.  If you're a straight, white woman of privilege, do better.

Frankly, I'm doing pretty fucking great on the societal hierarchy. Yes, I experience patriarchy and sexism, but I need to use my privilege to ensure other women have a voice and that their needs take priority. When I'm writing those letters or attending meetings or calling my representatives, I'm telling them that women who are poor, racialized, disabled, Indigenous, and/or LGBTQ disproportionately bear the burdens of our current structures and they need to listened to. I'm not always going to get it right (privilege is pernicious that way) but I'm learning. I'm also donating to causes that benefit marginalized women in Canada and internationally. 

5. Keep knitting. 

Seriously, self care is important. If you want your knitting to do more than keep you calm, consider knitting things for women in shelters or newly arrived refugees. Knitting for yourself is cool too: This is Canada; we need to keep warm when we take to the streets. 

 


How to shorten a mitten cuff in ten years or less

Stranded mittens are beautiful but I find getting the fit right can be a challenge since the colour work pattern will determine the size of the mitten and row gauge (something I almost never seem to knit to) is crucial.

If the mitten has a cuff without the main pattern there's a opportunity to adjust the length a bit but again I can't always tells how it will all come together AND interact with my various coat sleeves. I like my winter outerwear to be free of gaps to I can keep warm.

I made these mittens almost ten years ago, wear them often, but never liked the length of the cuffs. They are a bit too long and bunch up against my coat sleeves or I have to tuck them in like when I was a kid, but I have no mom to do the second sleeve (remember when your mom did that?)

Last week I decided to fix them by shortening the cuff. Crazy? A little. But I got out my scissors and got brave.

The pictures are of the second mitten. The first one took a LOT longer and had to be redone after the second mitten because it was longer and I didn't like the bind off. Hacking an old knit can take a lot of time and may yield unexpected issues.

Step one: figure out how much you want to remove and use a stitch marker to hold that stitch. I used my absolutely perfect Fiddlehead mittens as a guide. Also, I found that I ended up taking off an extra row or two because the corrugated ribbing is more complicated to undo, so plan for that.

Step two: cut, yes snip, one stitch and start unravelling that row. It's a bit like doing a reverse Kitchener and is a bit fiddly. I found it easier to use a needle to unpick the stitches. These mittens are well worn and the stitches are happy and snug where they are.

 
I'm about halfway here. Don't worry too much about the live stitches. Knitting doesn't easier unravel this direction so the stitches will stay put until you need them.
 
 
Step three: once the cuff is off, use smaller than called for needles (guess if your mittens and really old and you have no idea what needles you used) pick up the live stitches. They're a bit weird with the two colour ribbing and because they're upside down, but the idea is to get all the stitches back on the needles. You might have to unpick another row to get this accomplished.
 
Step four: this one is easy. Knit a row. I used the brown yarn because it was the colour I used for the cast on and would be the one I'd use to bind off. There was no way I would try to do any ribbing on these.
 
Step five: with a larger needle, bind off neatly. This took me a few tries. A sewn bind off would have been really nice, as would an icord, but at this point I wanted them finished.
 
Step six: try on an admire. Now the mittens graze the cuff of my coat without bunching!
 
 
Should have done this year's ago. I'm wearing them a lot more now.

 

 


Bohus Repair in 6 Steps

Not a good way to start the morning:

I must have been a bit rough when I was putting on my beloved Grey Mist Bohus. I heard a bad ripping sound and it looked like this.

It was knit top down and I had broken the yarn on the hem bind off. Some stitches had started to unravel.

Not. Good.

To add to the complexity, I had modified the sweater awhile back to fit me better and the sides are steeked. This means I couldn't just rip back the whole bind off and do it again.

I will also say that at 9 sts to the inch that didn't seem necessary to fix 2 inches of hem, so I concocted a different plan.

This morning I made the repairs. It was easy enough that I took the time to have fun with the Halftone app and did a little photo essay.

Step One: Capture all the stitches.

Bohus yarn is 50% merino, 50% angora so the stitches aren't really going anywhere, but I needed them all on needles so I could have something to work with. I put the last bound off stitch on a marker and picked up everything not worrying if they had unravelled more than others. I just needed to get everything on the needles.

Step Two: Fix All the Stitches

Now I took the time to arrange all the live stitches, knit up any that had dropped and to make sure I got them all. This is not so easy with tiny fuzzy yarn, so I made sure I was thorough.

Step Three: Unravel the Bind Off a Bit More

I didn't have a lot of yarn on one end of the broken bit so I unpicked the bind off about 10 more stitches so I had something to work with. Since I was "going backwards" this meant undoing the stitches manually with a tapestry needle and catching the live ones before I pulled out the yarn--no sense in having to wrangle more live stitches.

Then I transferred each stitch back to the left hand needle, checked again that I didn't miss anything and was now back at my orange marker.

Step Four: Attach New Yarn

I decided to use the Magic Knot to attach my new yarn to bind off. It figured at this gauge it wouldn't show. It was also secure. Spit splicing would also have worked.

Step Five: Bind Off

The original bind off was a regular one, but since this must be where I put pressure on the sweater when I put it in, I decided to use Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for these stitches just to be on the safe side.

When that was done I had two ends. The end of my new bind off and the end where I picked out the old one.

Since both ends were already secure (picking out the old one was challenging so I figured it was staying put), I just prettied it up and wove in the ends.

Step Six: Admire

No one will notice unless they inspect the hem up close.

If anyone does that, I'll know they're a knitter.

 


You'd think I'd learn

Hand-dyed yarns are beautiful.  I love the subtle variations in the solids, the way it creates depth in the garment you're knitting.  I like hand-dyed yarns so much I find regular yarns a bit boring (though tweeds are rather nice).

But these yarns also require a bit more thought when knitting.  Those variations can really show at the point at which you change skeins--even when they look identical wound up.

I know this.  I know the rules: alternate skeins.  Or if you want to take a chance alternate skeins near the end of a ball--for 30 rows or so to ease the transition.

Did I do that with Ahni?  

Nope.

I'm going to blame my cold and that I was at Xander's soccer tournament and the pretty colour and pattern and anything else that doesn't make me not remember that you need to alternate (because I've done this with my Vino coat and a few others; none of which I've documented here because of the **shame**).

And, of course, that one ball that's a tad lighter than the others...it's the front.

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Right at the chest line.  Nice.

It's blocking right now (on top of the back--I like to block the pieces this way to ensure they're the same size).  When it dries, I'll rip back to a few inches below the underarm and alternate skeins.  It's probably a few hours work, but it's the right thing to do.

Hopefully this time I'll learn my lesson.

At least I have this pretty sleeve to keep me happy (and yes, I alternated near the end of the skein).

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This is a much more accurate photo of the colour.  Another thing about hand-dyed  yarns--they're tricky to photograph.