Thursday, August 30, 2007

Will I ever learn?

Everybody's got a little voice, gently but persistently guiding them in the right direction, right? RIGHT??? You know, the one that says "Perhaps you should wait for the computer expert (aka your husband) to come home before attempting to fix the problem on your own?" or "Why don't you extinguish your cigarette before filling the car with gas?" (I quit years ago). Call it your inner Jiminy Cricket, the great cannoli, whatever. Over the years, various humbling and humiliating experiences have taught me to heed that inner voice.

That being said, you'd think I would have paid attention when my inner Dear said "Why don't you bring your camera before you head out today?". Nah, I thought. I don't want to become one of those people who takes a gagillion pictures of even the most trivial things and posts all of them on her blog.

But the thing is, I didn't have a trivial day yesterday. It was actually pretty great. Maxime and I went out to my cousin Jessica's new pad in Pointe-Saint-Charles, where she had a lovely lunch all prepared (spinach salad, tomato pizza, cold cuts (Prosciutto Parma, mmmmmmmmmm!!!), ice cream and strawberries). Then we walked over to a relatively new yarn shop (new to me at least, all the way out in the boonies), Mouline yarns, where she had gotten me a gift certificate for my birthday. I had a grand old time, met some new people (Hi Scott!) and left with scrumptious yarn. We then stopped at nearby Itsi Bitsi for some luscious cupcakes (who can resist a cupcake, I ask you? They're just so cute!!!).

On our way back home, we stopped at the local farmer's market (Jessica had never been) for some dinner fixins and yet more Prosciutto. I'm thinking I'm not going to be reaching my diet goals this week...

So that was my day. It was great, but there are no pictures. You'll just have to take my word for it :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yarn PrOn!

I've been busy getting ready for the beginning of my choir's season (I sit on the board), so there hasn't been that much actual knitting done lately. Not to fear, though, knitting is never too far from my mind. In lieu of any knitting progress, I thought we could have a yarn prOn session. Here's what my lovely postlady brought me today:

Bohemian Style handspun yarn in the "Gypsy Rhythm" colourway, from That Spinning Place. It's absolutely beautiful, soft, and just plain yummy. I'd knit it up immediately, but then I wouldn't have it anymore. I think that for now, I just want to kiss it and pet it and love it :)

Next up: remember the Binge-itis attack I said was coming on? It manifested itself in the purchase of this delicious yarn, earmarked for the Bee Fields Shawl.
This is from Fearless Fibers, also on Etsy (I know, it's a sickness). I've read nothing but good things about this yarn on various blogs, and although Deb doesn't normally ship to Canada, after some pretty darned fancy finagling on my part (OK, OK, I agreed to pay hefty shipping fees - Curse you Global Priority Mail!!!), I got my hands on these babies. Not only is the colour absolutely fabulous for the Bee Fields Shawl (if I ever get around to it), but the yarn itself is nice and squishy, something I'm not used to seeing in a lace-weight yarn (but I have limited experience with lace).

Phil and I also managed to see a movie (in an actual movie theater - Woo-Hoo!!!) this weekend. We're quite fond of Japanese Anime, so when we read that a new film was opening on Saturday, we couldn't resist. The movie was Paprika, and I'm still scratching my head and going "Huh? ". I don't know if I'd add it to my home movie collection (like I would, say, a Miyazaki film), but I really enjoyed it, and it was fun to get out of the house without both kids, even though it was only for a couple of hours.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm on a roll...

I decided to set aside Mystery Stole on Thursday night to finish up my Kneehigh to a Grasshopper socks (April's Rockin Sock Club), and here they are, in all their splendor:

Here are the stats: knit with Silkie Socks that Rock in the Walking on the Wild Tide colourway, on two 2.25mm circular needles.

What can I say about this project? It was challenging, to say the least. The two circulars (ingenious, but ultimately not for me), the endless purl two togethers (p2tog = M-U-R-D-E-R on the hands), the yarnovers... I'll put it this way: I won't be knitting a pair oh his and hers of this pattern any time soon. Nevertheless, I'm quite pleased with the results.

I'm also pleased (try ecstatic!) with my new sock blockers. Are they not the coolest things EVER??? Totally awesome. I ordered them from Leggy Creations on Etsy (if you've never heard of Etsy, the paradise of all things handmade, go now. I'll wait). I love them so much, I think they deserve their own photo-op.

I was looking forward to casting on another pair of socks (perhaps something from Favorite Socks?), when I hazarded a glance on the Rockin Sock Club blog, and discovered that the August kit was shipped last week. Since I'm already one shipment behind, I cast-on June's Solstice Slip socks instead. So far, I'm loving it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Project fatigue

It seems that no matter how much time I spend knitting these days, I'm no closer to getting anything done. I've been trying to compensate for this by planning ahead for my next projects, but all that seems to do is make me even more frustrated with my current apparent lack of progress, since I'm now so looking forward to what lies ahead.

What do you have lined up, you may ask? While certain things like socks are always on the needles (have I mentioned how I can't wait for my Knee-High to a Grasshopper socks (April Rockin Sock Club) to be done???), these two projects are next on my list:

Yes, it's the infamous Dream in Color Tulip Baby Cardigan that all of blogdom was raving about a few months ago. One of my favorite yarn pushers, Pick Up Sticks, recently put up the kits for sale, and I had to snatch one up for myself. A friend of mine is having a baby girl in October, providing me with the perfect excuse ;). I didn't realize that you could make the cardigan in larger sizes, though, so I may have to pick up the Rocketry Cardigan kit (more of a boy's version) to knit for my son. We'll see...

Also in the queue, this sweater, for my daughter Emilie. It's from Lucinda Guy's Handknits for Kids. I purchased the yarn some time ago, and I'd like to have it ready so she can wear it this Fall.

Of course, I've discovered that an unfortunate side effect of project fatigue is "binge-itis", a debilitating disease whose main symptom is an uncontrollable urge to purchase more yarn for more projects (like Anne Hanson's Bee Fields Shawl). There is no cure.

Finally, in non knit-related news, Maxime and I went to see a movie yesterday afternoon (thanks to Stars and Strollers, a program for mothers and babies). While the movie was only so-so (Becoming Jane), it's male lead, James McAvoy, was not. Quite the cutie-pie, in fact. I promptly Imdb'd him, only to discover that he's a little tiny person (5'7", as opposed to my 5'10"), he's married (What? A girl can dream, can't she?), and, in blatant disregard of the established order of the universe, he's three years younger than I am. It's really starting to tick me off how all the hot actors are increasingly younger than me...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Pathways Indeed

I've been knitting socks for about a year now, and though that may be too short a time to know everything there is to know about socks, I thought I knew a thing or two. Over the past twelve months, I've knit socks toe-up and top-down, I've knit them using dpn's and on two circular needles (a technique that even had my LYS owner perplexed). Like I said, I'm by no means an expert, but I though I'd at least learned enough to be considered an intermediate sock knitter.

Then, after reading the review for Cat Bordhi's new book on Knitter's Review, I decided to order the book. I mean, it seems like everyone who's "in the know" about sock knitting (pause to snicker about that last statement - OK, I'm back) is raving about this book, how it's going to turn the world of sock knitting on it's head. Huh? We are talking about knitting socks, right? Foot coverings? This, I thought, I've got to see.

So I ordered the book from the Needle Arts Book Shop (a wonderful resource for all you Canadian readers), and it arrived yesterday. And Dudes, there are no words.

My first sock was knit from a pattern in Sensational Knitted Socks, a book I thought was pretty complex my first time around. But after reading the introductory chapter, I understood how the book was designed, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Bordhi's book, however, despite being superbly written and the author being a born teacher, left me feeling "like a blundering novice". See, this book isn't like any other pattern book. You can't just say "My, what a pretty sock, I think I'll knit that" (at least, not at first glance, anyway). As the great Yoda once said "You must relearn what you have learned". Increases are now La-Link's and La-Rink's (left-leaning increase and right-leaning increase), stitch legs now have winners and losers, and you must constantly keep the designs' "sockitecture" in mind. What???

The patterns really are beautiful, though, and I know that once I have the time to devote myself exclusively to sock-knitting (when Mystery stole is finally done), I'll feel like a reasonably intelligent knitter once again.

P.S.: The subtitle of New Pathways for Sock Knitters? Book One. Aaack.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Finished Object!

Thanks to a four hour wait at the free family planning clinic, I finished my daughter's socks.

No, it did not take me four hours to complete the little bit of knitting I had left on the second sock. I also got quite a bit of reading done (Perfume: the Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Suskind), which almost made the wait bearable. Almost.

To recap, these socks were knit with Seacoast Handpainted yarn, in the Autumn colourway, leftover from a pair of Jaywalkers I knit a while back (see sidebar). It took me a while to figure out the right measurements (I cast on 52 stitches, using 2.25mm needles and getting 8 stitches to the inch), but I think the end result is pretty good. I just hope they'll still fit her by the time it's cold enough to wear them!

Emilie, however, was not deterred by the warm weather. She came up with the perfect solution, and combined the best of both worlds! Wool socks and popsicles! Okay, obviously, I'm biased, but that picture cracks me up. She took them off a few minutes later and promptly requested that I now make her a sweater. Don't worry, sweetie, Mommy and the stash are waaaaay ahead of you.

In other news (or lack thereof), I haven't really gotten much knitting done. I've knit about half of clue 5 on my Mystery stole, but didn't do much last night as Philippe and I decided to watch a movie (Sunshine). I've given up on trying to get caught up (the final clue gets posted today), but am still really enjoying the project, so I'm working on it fairly exclusively in the evenings. Day-time knitting has been drastically reduced as of late, unfortunately, for while my son has started sleeping through his nights (sorry, Kate, hang in there!), he seems to think that day-time sleep is no longer necessary.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Averted disaster

Naturally, I had to refer to my GoKnit pouch in my last post for the darn thing to up and break on me that very same day. Aaaargh!

As you can see, the cord ripped right out of it's seam, and much to my dismay, I couldn't get it to fit back into the little hole. How did it break, you may be wondering? Well, as anyone who has read about the GoKnit pouch knows, the whole point of the thing is to knit on the go (Go. Knit. Get it?). Anyhoo, I think that having to frantically rip it off my belt every single time we're in the car for more than twenty minutes because my three-year-old daughter has to pee probably didn't help it much. But no worries! It was Wonder-Husband to the rescue!

That's right, my husband can SEW! Who else can brag about that to friends and relatives? It's actually a new-found skill. He got into flying kites a few months ago, and rather than pay a gagillion dollars for kites, he decided to make his own. You can view some of his oeuvres here.

I think he did a pretty good job (much better than I could have done, anyway). Let's hear it for Philippe! Yay!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New scale!

I purchased a digital scale this weekend, for the purpose of winding skeins into 2 equal-sized balls, something I find especially useful when knitting socks. I noted Wendy's technique back in the Spring, and with the recent acquisition of my swift and ball winder, I was dying to give it a go.

Here we see a pre-wound skein of STR (from the June Rockin' Sock Club kit) on my spankin' new scale. Isn't it great? It's PINK! Yup, I got me a new scale AND made a donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Pretty awesome. Anyway, as you can see, the cake weighs in at 121 g.

Next up, I wound a second ball from the first, keeping an eye on the weight until I had wound off about half the skein.

And Voila! Two roughly equal-sized balls! Now if I can only finish the April kit (I should be finishing sock 1 today).

What did baby Maxime have to say about all this? Not much... :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Works in progress

Since this is a knitting blog, after all, I thought today's post should be a showcase of the projects that are currently under way at casa de Dear. (Just as a quick aside, I named my blog Dear Knits because Dear is my husband's pet name for me, and we've been together so long that the sound of my own name now sounds foreign to me.)

OK, first up: Mystery Stole! Knit up in JaggerSpun Zephyr with 3.25 mm Addi Turbo lace needles. As of last night, I've almost completed clue 4 (I was a little late jumping on the bandwagon - clue 6 was posted last Friday). While I've dabbled with lace in the past, this is my first "serious" lace project, and my first stole. I'm really enjoying it, especially knitting with beads, which just makes me giggle whenever I look at it. I don't know if I'll ever wear this stole (my lifestyle isn't really stole-friendly at the moment), so maybe I'll just put this in my Christmas stash.

Next: The April sock kit of Rockin' Sock Club 2007. Again, I'm a little late, since this is the first sock, but I think I have a good excuse this time: I was busy having a baby (my son was born May 14th).

What can I say about this project? Although I generally love STR, I can't say I'm smitten with their Silkie yarn. Don't get me wrong! It's beautiful to look at, but I find it a bit tough to work with, the silk makes it a bit splitty. Also, I got all the way to the heel flap before I realized that I was doing my YOs wrong, and I had to rip it out and start from scratch. So, yeah, I'll be glad when this one is done. I was originally going to make the knee-high version as a gift for my cousin Jessica, but since this hasn't been my favorite project, and I seem to have made the foot too long anyway, I'm just going to do the regular length and keep them for myself. Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!

Since we're talking about socks, here's my project for long car-trips: a pair of socks for my lovely daughter Emilie, knit up with some Seacoast Handpainted in their Autumn colorway I had leftover from a pair of Jaywalkers I knit up a while back. Just a plain, no-brainer sock. And yes! That would be a GoKnit pouch on the left.

But wait! There's more! Here's my Argosy scarf, from the Winter 2006 issue of Knitty. Knit up with Noro Kureyon I'd had in my stash for a couple of years. I like the way it's knitting up, but it's currently on hiatus, since I refuse to knit a scarf when it's eleventy-billion degrees outside. Sorry, I just can't do it.

And last but not least, the Josephine Top from the summer 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. I'm knitting this up with Twisted Sisters Mirage yarn in their Mango colorway. What can I say about this project? When I saw it, I knew I absolutely had to knit it up. IMMEDIATELY! I hunted online for a suitable yarn, paid a fortune for it (buying from an American supplier is not always a good thing for Canadians), and started work on it the day it finally arrived. And I haven't touched it since. Chalk it up to a sudden outbreak of startitis.

So there you have it! I'll keep y'all posted on my progress, and will link to photos of my finished projects on my Flickr account. TTFN!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's all her fault...

Well whadaya know. After months of reading about a zillion knitting blogs, I've finally jumped on the bandwagon and created my own. I figure it'll be a less expensive way of immersing myself in the knitting world (rather than feverishly checking knit supply websites and trying to divine ways of smuggling packages into the house without my husband noticing :)).

SO!!! A note about the title of this, my first post. I'd just like to say, right off the bat, that this is all the Yarn Harlot's fault. It all started about a year ago, actually. I was at the park with my daughter, chatting it up with my neighbor as we watched our kids play on the swings, when hobbies came up and we discovered a mutual love of knitting.

"Have you read the Yarn Harlot?" she asked.

"Who?" Well, she lent me a copy of the book by the same name, and by some kind of osmosis, her obsession (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) with the craft was transferred to me through it's pages.

You see, up until then, I had been a casual knitter. You know, the kind who only buys yarn when she has a specific project in mind. Who has never heard of the concept of a stash. Who is blissfully unaware of the veritable cornucopia of knit-related blogs, forums, UFOs and KALs. You know, a SANE knitter.

Well, skip ahead one year, and a stash has grown under my bed (and in my closet), I have four projects on the needles at a time, and, I HAVE A BLOG!!!

This being my first post, it's a little bare of photos and the like, but I'll be sure to flesh it out in the coming days.