The Skinny

My knitting mojo is back big time. On top of the few projects I already had on the needles, I started 4 new projects since Rhinebeck, 2 of which I started last weekend. Craig went off for his yearly Rhinebeck (deer hunting at Pineapple Lodge) and being alone all week made knitting all the things seem like the right thing to do.

I'm pretty sure he was just out of the driveway when I got out the loom and warped it using my Miss Babs Yummy Toes mini skeins for a Mad for Plaid scarf.

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Then I did a bit more work on my first panel for Twitch.

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Then I got really ambitious and starting this:

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The Shieling blanket by Kate Davies. I love knitting blankets. They're always the right size, they're incremental--one square at a time--and who doesn't love snuggling under a blanket? 

This one might be a challenge...it's fingering weight AND fair isle. And completely addictive. Two squares done and I'm smitten. It's beautiful and fun to knit.

I have a few other things on the needles and I noticed they're all fingering or lace weight. Skinny yarn and big projects.

While I love a chunky cowl or a worsted weight sweater, there's something more refined in a thinner-yarn garment. They're more  clothing and less hand made. There's more space for a motif or colour. And really there's more knitting which isn't ever a bad thing.

Go little on something big...or go home.
 


I'm Back

No really, this time I mean it. 

Maybe not in a John Wick way...

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But yeah, I'm thinking I'm back.

So why now? 

One reason is because I miss it. All the Facebooking and Twittering and Instagraming is okay, but none of them are long-form mediums. They're all meant to be short and also controlled by the platform and its algorithms. Blogging is a much freer medium. I don't have any ads or affiliate programs, just me and I can decide what I say, how I say it and when. And I realized that I don't really care if I get a like or a retweet or whatever. I do love when people comment and I love conversation, but there's something diffuse about social media that I'm liking less and less. I've practically given up Facebook (I've only logged in once since New Year's) and am consciously deciding to spend less time on Twitter (because it's really not very fun anymore). Both of these sort of replaced the blog, but not really. I think I missed writing and documenting my life here. 

And another funny thing happened. My kids, they grew up and are off at university.

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I know, I can't really believe it either. 

It's been a bit weird with them gone. The pace of my life has changed. I'm not lonely or sad or anything like that, but the house is quieter, there's a hell of a lot less laundry and Craig and I are doing more than working and all the stuff that keeps our lives going. I will say that we miss the kids a ton--and really notice all the chores that now fall to us--but we know they're doing their things in the world and that's how parenting is supposed to work. 

When they left, I decided to give myself until after Rhinebeck to figure out what I was going to do with myself. I already knew I didn't want to work more. The job is good, but more of it doesn't make it better. I definitely wanted to knit and spin and weave more, but also know I'll need something else. Writing here will be one of those things and the other stuff, well, that's being more elusive. 

But I'll be ready when the opportunity arises to do something new. 

So for now, I pulled out my old And She Knits Too! banner (that I really love and should never have replaced) and changed my blog template a bit to mark my new resolve. I also warped the loom today and casted on for The Shieling (swoon) and also knit a bit on Twitch and am having fun with all things yarn-related. More about those projects soon.


Bang Out a Carbeth


I already had a Carbeth in my Ravelry queue when MSK declared February as Bang Out a Carbeth month for a knit-along. I loved the simplicity of the pattern; it’s a raglan turned sideways so the diagonal shaping line crosses the front and back instead of the shoulders. That’s a good shape for my body and broad shoulders and at 3.5 sts to the inch, it’s something easy to knit up. 

And the photos. I'm knitting the whole, wear a gorgeous skirt and frolic in the winter highlands lifestyle...

Finding the right yarn in my stash was the bigger problem. I made four swatches.  The roughly Aran weight handspun was a bit too floppy. The two strands of sport/dk together was delicious squooshy merino silk cashmere but I couldn’t get gauge. The Queensland tweed too thin to even finish the swatch. The Cascade Ecological wool was just right, except I only had one skein each of two colours (they were a gift). 

I did some colouring (my new iPad Pro is going to be great for knitting stuff) to determine how to use the two colours in a way that maximized the design. 

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I chose the dark bottom with the light top (just above) I casted on and a week later I have the body done, one sleeve attached and the next one started.

All good.

Except I knit myself into a corner.

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If I want to continue with knitting in the round, I'm going to have 4 skeins on the go. Light left sleeve, dark back, light right sleeve, dark front. I also have to figure out how to do the decrease so it's pretty. I was trying to think up a latvian-braid like effect with the decreases. Any hints or ideas on how I might do these 2 colour decreases? 

I could also do each piece separately and sew as was done with this beautiful colour-block Carbeth

I'm not against seaming a sweater, but will avoid it for this one if I can.

 


Startitis

I’m back knitters. BACK. Knitting. Thinking about knitting. Writing about knitting. 

Swatching

I knit 5 swatches this week. Not counting the mitten I started which was to serve as a swatch if I didn’t get gauge. I got gauge and the mitten is half way done.

Could be that my Fitzcarraldo knee socks were the stopper. Two years to knit two socks. I got that done and bam! I’ve knit a sweater in a month, start planning two more and got to making new mitts before the winter is over. 

And after only posting 3 times in 2017, it’s time for me to use this blog again. Sure it’s very 2009, but it’s a space I like. I’m fine with Instagram and Twitter and would be lost without Ravelry, but all of them are only parts of my story. I like that here I can consolidate. A place that’s partly social, but not driven by stupid algorithms and that I mostly control. 

So here goes...

Fitzcarraldo Knee Socks by Kate Atherley, the smartest knitter I know, and who’s instructions I should read and follow the first time. Ripping out and reuniting 5 inches of twisted rib is my punishment and I took it willingly after putting the first sock in a time out for a year. I am not always a patient knitter.

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Cold Breath, by Joji Locatelli, made from recycled Indigodragonfly merino silk. This sweater is perfect. I want to wear it everyday.

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New basic mittens following Kate Atherley's instructions in her new (and fantastic) book: Knit Mitts. Yarn is my handspun, Into the Whirled Merino/Yak in Captain Tightpants

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The other two projects are where all the swatching is happening. I'll leave that to my next post which is about Kate Davies, her beautiful work and the West Highland Way Club. I joined after seeing a sweater that had me entranced, and it's been a complete delight. 


The Blanket

The simple facts: Emma asked for a hand-knit blanket. I like to knit blankets (they're simple comfort knitting and always fit the recipient) so I started knitting in January. It would be her take-to-university-blanket. Nothing to see here.

The longer story: We decided on a pattern. Chose the yarn. Bought more yarn when I miscalculated how much Eco-Wool I would need (6 skeins in case you're wondering--this blanket weighs more than 2 kg).

I knit on this almost exclusively for six months; panicking a bit when the weather got warmer and wondered if I could get it done on time (there was some target setting--can you tell I'm a project manager?).

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Emma did her things: school, homework, friends, cello, piano, a lead in The Drowsy Chaperone, movie watching, prom, teen stuff. She also chose a university and decided her "what's next". Science (probably majoring in Physics) at Western University.

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She finished high school with honours. I finished the blanket shortly after. The pieces were stitched together. 

Metaphor? Maybe.

Or just how a knitter does things. Stitching beautiful objects that bring warmth and comfort.

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I'm getting teary--which is probably why I haven't pronounced the blanket complete on social media... 

Emma leaves on Sunday. She has her blanket, her determination, her smarts and her sense of adventure. She's ready (mostly). I'm ready (mostly). Time for the next big project.

 


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. 

 


Submersion

I have been playing with all the yarn.

The last two weekends I have spun, knit, wove, finished some handspan, finished something for my nephew, finished a sock, started the second sock, started new handspun and made significant progress on my Occam scarf. 

I feel like I'm back to my old crafty self and I feel great.

Here's what I've been up to...

Fitzcarraldo Knee Sock number one. It's *almost perfect. After what felt like months of knitting the twisted ribbed cuff, I think the part just before the cuff is a touch too tight. 

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I'm putting it in the time out corner while I work on the second sock.

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I will tackle the problem on both socks at the same time. This is mostly because I can't face ripping out all that ribbing. Maybe my calves will slim down or I'll get taller or something.

It will totally be worth fixing; these socks are a thing of beauty.

I also finished something for the wee baby Mitchell for Christmas, but wish to avoid spoilers so no photos yet. Trust me, it is the height of CUTENESS.

Occam is almost done. I really like it. I decided to do the medium width and the longer length and I'm going to run out of blue yarn, so I'm modifying. If you notice, don't say anything okay ;)

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Last weekend I also decided to weave. Check out this fabulous pooled warp (Indigodragonfly Wingenhooven in Dminion Unhinged). I ran into a bit of trouble by warping the loom backwards (which took some fixing, let me tell you...) so I'm not sure how pooled it'll be when it's done. I think the merino, yak, silk around my neck will solve any issues with the colour.

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And lastly I've been continuing with Spinning Sundays. Last week I plied the last of a big project using beautiful Lisa Souza BFL I bought not long after getting my first wheel. The yarn is big and fat and squishy. It's drying now and looks amazing. Photos to come. 

Today I pulled out a 4oz braid and set to work on making some worsted spun yarn for mittens.

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The colour is Captain Tightpants, fibre is yak and merino from Into The Whirled and nothing about this project is bad.

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Distracted

I've developed a bad habit. It's not like biting my nails or eating chips while I make dinner (I only do that once in a while, I swear). Instead it's a retreat into a cycle of doing a whole lot of nothing which fills time when I could be doing something else.

Here's how it plays out: I have a few moments to relax or I need second to unwind and I flip open the iPad and start looking at Twitter. Then I get engrossed in whatever is on my feed and it eats a ton of time (it could be anything like some great science story, a knitting discussion, a string of funny things (love Swear Trek) or well, that orange spectre who is consuming almost everyone's attention right now). Then I might check my email, play Two Dots or just tap around on the screen and I realize I've wasted time I could have used to knit, read a novel, tidy up, run,  watch TV and I get angry at myself about it.

Worse still, I notice it's become a family habit. We all have screen distractions and we have to consciously choose to put them down and interact, or do homework or play piano or just DO something. 

Yes, the screens are compelling and I like to know what's going on in my community (both actual and virtual) and around the world, but it's become so easy to retreat into that space and disconnect while connecting. I think the crappiness of the last year work-wise and the resultant fatigue helped entrench some of my behaviour. Now I'm trying harder to be mindful about spending my time before I grab my phone. Saying it here is one of those ways I keep myself accountable (and try, yet again, to blog more often!)

We started last night but watching a movie together (we rewatched Brave) and tonight I'm going to knit my never-ending Occam scarf and perhaps go for a run. 

It's not all distracted doom and gloom around here. I finished a blanket for my fabulous new nephew (I'm finally an Auntie!) Mitchell who is not yet ready for a debut on social media and am working on his woolly wardrobe. The kids are really great and parenting teens is just the right amount of challenging. AND I have a new job that is really awesome and even energizing. All are much better distractions.

 

 


September Paddle

We started September with a relaxing cottage weekend and then jumped in to the craziness of back to school (Emma grade 12 and Xander grade 11). This year we decided to ease the transition from summer by taking the first Friday off and going on a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. While the kids do plenty of outdoor stuff we haven't been out in the woods as a family for years. Mostly it's hard to motivate the kids to want to camp when they've just returned from 10 days of backwoods canoeing or six weeks of being a camp counsellor. I think having Uncle Mike and Aunty Hannah join us was the deciding factor.

It was fantastic. We paddled from Canoe lake to Tom Thomson lake and set up camp. We saw a moose hanging out near the boggy shore. We ate food cooked over a fire. We had hilarious escapades trying to string up our bear barrel (how can there not be suitable trees in the bush?). Sleeping in a tent was even mostly okay.

Saturday we planned a day trip and there were 10 portages. There were supposed to be less but Vanishing Pond vanished so we had to take another route. Emma was amazing--she carried the canoe for 8 of those portages. Xander was sherpa carrying all the paddles and food bag. Hannah lead the pack--she was 7 months pregnant at the time so didn't have to carry anything. I snuck in a few minutes of knitting on our lunch break.

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There was a lot of walking for a bit and then there was a lot of paddling. Big lakes, high winds and it was a bit less fun. Let's just say we slept REALLY well Saturday night. And it was pretty cold Sunday morning.

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 Sunday was a comparatively easy paddle back the way we came in. 

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I will admit that I was tired for a few days afterwards--that's more outside and exercise than I normally get--but it was also beautiful and quiet and a great way to hang out with my family and disconnect from the outside world. We're already talking about the next trip--perhaps with my soon-to-be-born niece or nephew!