WIP Wednesday: November 30th

Hint, there used to be stripes.

While I have been doing some fibery things, the real WIP this week has been the upstairs rooms.  I will take more photos (the sun is out for the first time in days, but I don’t think I will be home in time to get pictures in the daylight), but here is a sneak peek at some of the work we have been doing to the house.

Also, I am getting some work on done on my blanket and finally got started on my Burnham Mittens.  Also my wheel has been for a spin recently, I’m working on a wild colored batt I got from bohoknitterchic this fall, as part of her club.

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On Books and Shelf Space

I love books.  Full Stop.  However, since moving a half dozen times since I went to University, I am somewhat hesitant about collecting books because they weigh so damn much.  Since starting knitting I have started a small book collection, choosing very deliberately to make sure they are good ones.

With the existence of Ravelry, independent publishers like Cooperative Press,  fantastic online knitting magazines like Knitty, Twist Collective, and Knitcircus (I know there are more but these are my three favorites) and designer blogs I have very little need to buy traditional pattern books. In fact, if a pattern is only available in a printed book, I am likely to just go find another one.  I am happy to pay for good content (you can ask my bank account every time Ysolda, Anne Hanson, or Jared Flood come out with something new and fantastic), but I don’t want to have to carry a book when I can just save a pdf instead.  In fact, I am willing to pay more to NOT have a book, considering that a book with 15 pattern could run around $20,  makes each pattern cost just over $1, while I am fine with paying anywhere up to $8 for a single pattern, if it is the right pattern.

So the books I have on my shelf are either technique books, informational books, or pattern books that are so beautiful I want to put them on my coffee table (I’m looking at you Knit.Sock.Love by Cookie A).

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to share the contents of my knitting book shelves and share which books I would leave behind with my local library when it is time to move again (and it seems I move about every 3 years, so that will be sometime in the next year or so).

Here are a few of my absolute faves to start out with …

The Harmony Guides:

I have a complete set of The Harmony Guides, the final book Basic Crochet Stitches arrived yesterday!

The first one I picked up was the Cables and Arans book at Book People in Austin.  Living in Austin seems half a lifetime ago, but it was only two years.  Since then I have picked up the rest.  I really like the selection stitches and the fact that they are themed, because when I want cables, I really don’t want to look through lace.

My only wishes would be that the patterns be listed in some sort of logical order, like alphabetical or by size of repeat, and that more of the designs were charted.  I do like that the crochet motifs are largely charted, as I don’t know how to read crochet chart and having both in front of me would make learning how to read charts much easier.

The Knitters Book of …:

The Knitters Book of Wool was my first introduction to the specifics of wool, crimp, micron, breeds, spinning style, were all introduced to me in an easy and fun style. The “Yarn” book has so much information about how the type of yarn, from weight to fiber content to spinning style directly impacts the finished object. The “Socks” book is just as wonderful and informative as the others, giving all sorts of crucial details on why to make socks and how to make them to work best.

Oh, and in addition to fantastic information Clara Parkes, of Knitter’s Review, has included an excellent collection of patterns by some of the biggest names in knitting, including Cat Bordhi, Evelyn A. Clark, Nancy Bush, Adrian Bizilia, Nora Gaughan and Clara Parkes herself.

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook:

This book is awesome.  I still haven’t even scraped the surface of the information in this book. But it takes The Knitter’s Book of Wool to the furthest extreme, highlighting every breed of fleece bearing animal, and showing off their original form and then their yarn pre-wash, washed, carded, spun and swatched.  Book like this remind us that there is no such thing as wool, as a single monolithic entity.  I feel like this is the handbook of wools, and while a person could knit and spin for a lifetime without knowing these things, it would be like a cook not knowing how plants are grown and animals raised, you can do it, but knowing your materials makes you a better artist.

These are just few of the books on my shelf, but some of my favorite.  They are key reference books that I find myself going to when I need a question answered or to look for a stitch pattern to start modifying pattern to my liking.

On November and Winter

Just up the hill from my house

So I know that I live in Canada, and that winter does come eventually, but this year the fall has been so wonderful and long that I kind of forgot that winter would ultimately arrive.  Unlike the northeast US we didn’t get that freak snowstorm a few weeks back, so Thursday was our first real snowfall of the season.

I just snapped a few shots on my way home from work on Thursday, before it all melted.  I am not the biggest fan of winter, but I must confess there is something magical about snow before it piles up and becomes a nusiance, like in February.

My walk to work is the same as to the grade school and high school in town, I don't think this is the last lost glove I will see propped on a tree limb so its owner can find it.

FO: Ochre Skiing Hat

I have been admiring this hat pattern since it first started making the rounds through the Phat Fiber group about a year ago.  I nabbed this fun yellow yarn at the McKellar Market this summer. I grabbed two skeins to make sure I had enough to make awesome tassels, which for me is the best part of the hat.

I think this hat is going to be perfect for the winter, and ideal for cross country skiing.  The color makes it pop and will make me happy on the long, cold days of winter.

Project Name: Ochre Skiing Hat

Pattern: Capucine by Adela Illichmanova 

Recipient: Me

Yarn:  Bulky Single Ply from Pondering Rock Farm (a local farmer/dyer)

Modifications:

  • None

New Skills:

Feedback: Fun, easy, quick knit. I love the look of hood/bonnet style hats, and I will probably be making more.

Re-Knit?: Maybe, by request or in case of loss.  I like the style but a person really doesn’t need more than one of such a specific style of hat.

FO: October Mittens

When the Woodland Winter Kit came out from KnitPicks last winter I knew I had to get it.  Up until very recently, KnitPicks kits were a one time deal, the patterns were exclusive to the kits and they only exist in limited quantities.  Only the most beloved kits are re-colored and re-released.  So I snatched this one up with the intention of knitting up all the mittens this summer and being ready for fall.

However, I went through a bit of a knitting slump this summer and Palette, with all its rough and sheepy charm was not the thing for summer knitting. As soon as the air started to cool and I was wearing my Endpaper Mitts all day, every day I knew it was time to start the first of many pairs of Palette mittens for the fall and winter.

There are a total of six pairs of mittens (and enough yarn to make all of them) in the kit and I intend to have each pair done before the end of the month they are named for, wish me luck!

P.S. The kit was made available again this winter (in the soft palette I have, and a new bright palette, using black as the background color).  Also, you can get it as a download now, in case you don’t find Palette as wonderful as I do and want to sub in a different yarn.

Project Name: October Mittens

Pattern: October in the Woodland Winter Mitten Kit by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence.

Recipient: Me

Yarn:  KnitPicks Palette in Bittersweet Heather, Thicket, Camel Heather, Almond, Cornmeal, Green Tea Heather, and Celadon Heather

Modifications:

  • On the right mitten I made the thumb larger by picking up two stitches across the gap and ssk/k2tog after about three rounds

New Skills:

  • None

Feedback: Nice charts, but the thumbs are a bit skinny for me.  For the upcoming months I will make the thumbs 2 to 4 stitches larger to accomodate my shapely thumbs.

Re-Knit?: Yes and no, I will be making the remaining five pairs of mittens but the October chart is far from my favorite.

WIP Wednesday: November 9th

Ugh, today was not a day for pictures, the days are short and today was so very grey and dark, ugh.

So I have doubled the size of the Baby Ripples since last week, and no change on the Cowl, although I know I need to focus on it or it will be a WIP forever (and make me crazy) so I think I may take a break from crochet to finish off the cowl so I can rock through a few different pairs of colorwork mittens I have in my queue.

Also, this weekend I am hoping to build a lightbox with my sister, so we don’t have to miss any future WIP Wednesday pictures due to Expected Acts of Winter.

On Tools and Kits

My magical case of knitting fun and tools

I have been listening through the back catalogue of KnitPicks podcasts over the past three months or so, and Kelley Petkun, the voice of the podcast and the heart of KnitPicks, always has some brilliant topic of conversation.  One recent topic (I am up in 140s, but this was around the 120s) was about tool kits and I realized I might share my system for knitting tools and project bags.

While Kelley might never believe me, but I usually only have 2 or 3 projects on the go. I find having too many WIPs makes me anxious and so I have been limiting myself to only a few WIPs at a time.  Because of that, I only have on kit, that stays with me as I switch from project to project.

This may turn into a bit of an advertorial for KnitPicks, but their tools are nice and reasonably priced, also as someone who lacks an LYS, it is one of the cheapest way to get knitting tools in Parry Sound.

I carry a … (from left to right)

  • case – the Buddy Case made by Namaste (who make awesome knitting bags and accessories), and the top and bottom are magnetized, which keeps the small stuff from running away. ($20)
  • pen – this one is short enough to actually fit inside the case and came as part of a bonus from Eat.Sleep.Knit (free)
  • scissors – this pair are the KnitPicks steeking scissors, they are small, light and brutally sharp, they are great for everything, I have a second pair that I keep at my desk. ($3.49)
  • tape measure – this one is retractable and works great ($1.99)
  • interchangeable knitting needle key, with charm – so the KnitPicks needles require a small key to attach the cables and tips.  Each set of cables come with one of these keys, however I attached the key to a cell phone charm I got as a bonus from winemakerssister from ordering a bunch of stitch markers. Because of the charm I have yet to lose my first key. ($0)
  • darning needles – I prefer bent tips, and I carry all three because the magnetic top holds them better than my desk drawer ($1.99)
  • cable caps – these come with the cable and work well to make a cable into a stitch holder on the fly ($0)
  • coil wraps (large and small) – better than point protectors by holding the tips together, they keep everything falling off the needles in transit or while trying something on ($1.99)
  • stitch markers – these are my big splurge, I have a bunch of different set from winemakerssister, including some crochet markers, and a “Clapotis” set.  Her markers work well and are so very, very pretty. ($8-15 a set)
  • cable needles – I generally cable without a cable needle, but when I need a cable needle, these ones are brilliant. ($4.99)
  • very small stitch holder – this works for holding mitten thumbs, hanging onto runaway stitches and all sorts of other good stuff ($2)
I love how well this kit works for me, I only have larger items, like my needles, needle sizer/gauge reader, in my office. Everything else is in the kit, and because it is always in use I have yet to lose it, knock on wood.
So what does your kit look like?

On Stripes and Stripes

Vertical

So these days my life are dominated by stripes of two different varieties, the blanket I am crocheting and the wallpaper I am pulling down.

Horizontal

The blanket, which is in for no-one in particular, is made out of the same material as my First Crochet Blanket, KnitPicks Comfy Sport.  I had agonized over what to do with all the leftovers from the blanket, and after considering baby sweaters, I decided to make another blanket, but this time using Attic 24’s Ripple Pattern.  Carla helped me arrange the colors, and after some swatching I figured I could get five stripes out of each ball. Now that I am going it seems I could have squeeked out a few more, but if I learned anything form my mom and her garden design, is that three is a magical number and that odds are better than evens, so doing one, one, three, one, one three etc. is both visually appealing and adds up to five, as I needed.

The color order from bottom left to top right

The wallpaper, is not nearly as much fun, although removing it is fairly satisfying.  As I mentioned back around Labour Day, I moved into my grandparents house.  They moved up to the Bellevue Life Lease Condos, and have one of the best views in town, but they haven’t been able to sell their house.  So I am helping them cover the expenses/utilities and putting in some “sweat equity” to help the house look better for when it goes back on the market in the spring.

The stripe-y wallpaper was put up by my mom in the mid 1970s.  She was in university and working for her dad in the summer at the family marina, and she did all sorts of crazy calculations so that the stripes would all line up, which was quite the feat.  Growing up, we always called the room the striped bedroom, as opposed to Grannie and Grampa’s bedroom which had dotty wallpaper, and still does, it is my next project.

Turns out, thanks to a combination of expensive wallpaper, watersoluable glue and some good advice, getting it off the walls is not as bad as it could have been.  I finished pulling it all down last night, the room is still a mess, but the walls are no longer striped.  Then comes the issues of patching and painting. I am thinking yellow, because while the stripes were fun, I think a bright sunny bedroom will almost be happier.