Sunday, October 31, 2010


Tired to the point of borderline non-verbalness here. In lieu of a proper post, I give you one mathematical equation that I'm certain you'll all be able to relate to, and pictures of the evening's festivities to tide you over until tomorrow.

DORMA + Halloween = one knackered mum.

Now if you'll forgive me, I'm off to curl up with this:

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


First things first: thanks ever so much for your sympathies about The-Mitten-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Turns out that I'm not the world's greatest dumbass after all, but that there was an inconsistency between the written and charted instructions for the right-that-would-be-left mitten.

The written instructions for the first mitten (the left one) place the thumb at the beginning of the palm section, whereas they ought to have been at the end. The chart was fine, but as I wasn't too clear on the technique, I referred to the written instructions for the first mitten. I just... didn't pay attention to where the thumb was going. Months later, when I knit the second mitten, I referred to the chart and placed my thumb opening where it said to - at the beginning of the palm section - thus leaving me with 2 right mittens.

The way I figure it, I have 2 options:

Option 1: Kill the mittens. Dream up inventive new ways to torture and destroy the mittens so completely that any future mitten I make will tremble, submit and give me the respect I deserve.

Advantages of Option 1: Deeply satisfying in a primal, "cuts-the-umbilical-cord-with-her-teeth" kind of way. Plus, it'd make for a funny blog-post.

Disadvantages of Option 1: Doesn't give me a pair of mittens, nor will it give me the closure I feel I need to be able to move on with my life as a Knitter. While the notion of knitting another pair of mittens actually gives me hives right now, I have not sworn them off forever. I own some pretty nifty mitten patterns, and I'd like to knit them. You know... someday.

Option 2: Attempt to fix the mitten.

Advantages of Option 2: Peace of mind, sweet, sweet victory and warm (if slightly effeminate) hands for my Dad.

Disadvantages of Option 2: I have run out of the MC. Really. I have - maybe - 2 yards left? I can't just rip out the thumb, kitchener the hole shut, perform some kind of "afterthought-thumbhole" wizardry that involves cutting a hole into my knitting (I think I might faint), then knit a new thumb. Can't do it. Now, according to Véronik (who, let's face it, should know a thing or two about knitting), I can either recycle the yarn I already used, or I can perform "more complex thumb surgery" and - basically - transplant the thumb I've knit to the proper side of the palm.

To say I'm not confident about my ability to come out of this mitten thing with my pride or my sanity intact - to say nothing of a pair of mittens that a human being equipped with normal opposable thumbs can wear - would be like saying that making out with your new boyfriend during your grandma's funeral might be inappropriate: a colossal understatement. I am nervous, weary and all too aware that this mitten has kicked my arse at every turn.

Meantime, I'm knitting my yet-to-be-photographed-on-the-blog cardigan and trying to ignore the mittens. I'm sure they're giving me the evil eye while I'm not looking.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Other Mitten

Last December I knit a mitten. I found a pattern I adored, selected a fetching colour combination of yarn, and cast on. Did I swatch? No. I admit it. The gauge was given "in chart pattern after blocking", and I couldn't be bothered. Don't get me wrong, I understand and respect the value of the swatch, but if it's not your standard, run of the mill stockinette swatch, I'm not going to do it.

I knit the mitten, all the while thinking "this is looking a little big, isn't it?", but ignored my inner voice as only a knitter in the throes of colourwork can, and just kept going. When I finished the mitten, it was the size of an oven-mitt, and my fragile knitter's heart broke. Perhaps even died a little bit.

I struggled with some deep, personal issues for a long while after that fateful day. Could I move on? Should I knit the other mitten? What was the point? These were NEVER going to fit me! Where should I go from here?

As you know, eventually I decided to knit the other mitten. My Dad proclaimed them "beautiful" and "not-too-girly" and a "perfect fit". I'll be honest: I still don't know if he can pull off mittens in a Green Tea Heather and Sweet Potato colour combo, but hey, he's a grown man and I'm not going to debate it with him. Besides, I needed to make peace with this project. I needed to get the mitten albatross off my back.

So I cast on for the other mitten. Problems kept popping up, but I didn't let myself get deterred for long. I kept at it. I knew that with a little patience, a little love, my hard work would pay off.

I finished it on Saturday afternoon. It was a bit hairy for a while, because there was a very real possibility that I would run out of the main colour, but it turned out alright (barely). I wove in the ends, folded the cuff back and sewed it in place, and admired my handy work.

"That's a damn fine mitten", I thought. At that moment, my heart swelled up with love for the mittens. I forgave them for being too big. I forgave them for being fussy. I remembered that I really loved this pattern, and at that moment, I wanted to be one with the mittens. I wanted to put them on and just draw out that moment of pride and serenity just a little bit longer.

Still wearing the recently completed mitten, I rooted through my knitting bag and found it's mate. I pulled it out and stared at it, poised on the brink of ultimate mitten-knitter satisfaction.

Time stopped. My breath stuck in my throat for a moment, and every tension in my body let go all at once as I focused on one all-important detail: the thumbs.

Realization of what I had done came crashing down on me in an instant: I had not won. I did not have a pair of mittens. What I had were 2 right hand oven-mitts.

Pray for me, for I am in knitting Hell.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I finished October's Hat Trix Thursday last night. I knew I shouldn't, I knew I'd regret it, but I just couldn't resist the allure of the FO and I stayed up until way past my bedtime to finish it.

Now, I've had certain - shall we say - issues with this pattern from the beginning. Issues which I haven't shared with you because... well... I was raised to be a polite, sensitive knitter, and as a rule we don't make any disparaging remarks about independent knitwear designers who are only trying to make a living in a public forum. I love independent knitwear designers. It always makes me feel like a Good Knitter when I purchase one of their patterns. I feel that, by paying my 5$ (or whatever), I'm saying "Good for you, insert-designer-name-here. You're making a living out of something you love. Way to go."

Here's the thing: I bought this pattern when it was only available in hard copy, something that was - frankly - incomprehensible to me. Don't get me wrong, I love hard copy. I buy magazines, books, etc. But when all I want is ONE pattern, I usually prefer the instant gratification convenience of the PDF format. It wasn't available in this case (at the time, I see it's available now), which means I had to pay shipping (and duty) fees on a single page pattern. I was not amused, and in retrospect I suppose I should have just let it go. I mean, it's not like there aren't a zillion hat patterns out there. I should know, I own lots of 'em.

Anyway, when I was ready to cast on and actually read the pattern, it seemed rather.... simplistic. Really, it's just a stockinette slouch with a seed or garter stitch button band. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why I'd felt the urge to spend a not inconsiderable amount of money on such a simple pattern (OK fine, I admit it: I was completely seduced by the absolutely adorable pictures. I'm that gullible.)

Oh well, live and learn, I thought, and don't be so gosh darn impulsive next time (me? impulsive?). The hat is finished, it's cute, and it looks good on me (but so do most hats, heh). When I went to bed that night, I honestly believed that I had come to a place of forgiveness and understanding with regards to Danielle.

Now, Friday morning it was quite cold here in Dear Land. Really, really cold. Like, "there's the taste of snow in the air" kind of cold. Being a Knitter means I have no fear of the cold, for I am prepared. I decided to kick it up a notch in the woolly accessory department. I've been wearing progressively warmer scarves for some time, but that morning was the first time I felt the need to up the ante with a hat. I reached into the hat bin and pulled out the Robin's Egg Blue Hat (Ravlink) I stole re-claimed from Émilie last winter (hey don't look at me like that. The kid is downright careless with her knitwear, and this here's a Malabrigo hat with a vintage button), and that's when I saw it.

It's - basically - the same hat. Sure, the Robin's Egg is a beanie whereas Danielle is a slouch. One is knit up with a Chunky yarn, and the other with a fingering weight. But REALLY? it's the same hat. Same seed-stitch button band, same flap, same stockinette section. It's THE SAME HAT.

I stood there, dumbfounded. Not only had I paid for a pattern that I could have figured out by myself, but I'd paid for a hat I'd basically already knit.

Impulse-control. I need to look into that, me thinks.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

ps: On the off (off, off) chance that Grace Akhrem ever reads this post, I just want to say: it's not you, Grace. The fault is mine. I didn't LOOK at the pattern, I was just smitten by the pictures and hit "Buy Now" before I knew what I was doing (it's a thing I do). I love your patterns. I have quite a few of them in my queue, and I fully intend to knit them (you know... someday).

pps: I have 2 rows to go on the thumb of The Mitten. Victory will be mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The hand is quicker than the eye...

... or in knitspeak, the "Pay Now" button is quicker than the voice of reason. Before I get to that though, I think you need some back story.

I'm in the middle of a week of solo-parenting, which means I'm pretty much desperate for social contact with adults of like-mind. I had a great post in mind about how I came *this close* to buying 3 skeins of DK weight yarn online yesterday when I looked into my bag and saw a gorgeous skein of No Two Snowflakes DK weight merino/silk/cashmere blend I've been carrying around for 2 weeks, and wasn't it a good thing that I didn't buy it?

Of course, that was BEFORE I happened upon Eat Sleep Knit's website and bought 3 skeins of DK weight (but not the SAME skeins as yesterday!). Maybe if I hadn't moved the yarn from my bag to the designated "stash admiring" basket in the living room, I could have resisted the urge?


Work continues on the mitten hat. I think it's fair to say I'm not really feeling the love from my projects lately, but hopefully I'll have some FOs to share with you soon and we'll be able to move ON already. Bring on the sexy new projects!

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's time

There's been a snafu in the October's Hat Trix pattern and yarn pairing. Again.

This month's random pattern to be drawn out of my bag o' hat trix is Danielle (Ravlink), which I - for reasons which now completely elude me - had chosen to pair with The Knittery's 4-ply merino sock (Ravlink), now discontinued..

Now, I was actually off to a pretty good start with this month's hat. I drew the "kit" on October 1st and wound the yarn up into a lovely cake right then and there. Feeling good and "totally on top of it", I moved on to other projects, and the yarn and pattern have been sitting happily - and somehow immune to Lori's yarn-chewing tendencies - on my coffee table ever since.

(About Lori's yarn-chewing habit, I think I've figured out why some yarn is irresistible to her while other yarn has all the appeal of a dung beetle: it's the yarn that's actively in use that she's after. Diabolical, I tell you).

Anyhoo, now that we've passed the mid-month point, I figured it might maybe - perhaps! - be time to start thinking about knitting up this month's hat.

That's when I actually READ the pattern (as opposed to just looking at the pretty pictures). Stated gauge is 22 sts to 4 inches using 4.0 mm needles (that's be a 6 for my US readers). Not my preferred gauge for a fingering weight yarn (which is what the pattern calls for), but still doable.

The only problem is that the Knittery yarn is a really, really fine fingering, and all you need to do is LOOK at it to know that it's going to knit up to a fabric as droopy as grandma's cleavage at that gauge.

So what to do? Change the pattern? Change the yarn? Draw another kit with a hefty "screw it" thrown in for good measure?

I admit that I briefly considered option 3. But only very, very briefly. The whole point of this self-imposed hat club is to actually - you know - knit some of the patterns I own with some of the yarn in the stash. Drawing another kit would only be a temporary fix.

The first option was also quite attractive, in that I could potentially justify buying ANOTHER pattern (and maybe even yarn to go with it????) to fill the October hat club slot. Again, the whole point of the club would then be right out the freakin' window with that one...

So I went with option 2: change the yarn. I had a look through the stash, and I'm going to be using.... drumroll please.... mystery yarn.

I have no idea what this yarn is. I think it's the first EVER sock yarn I ever bought. It's a merino fingering, and I remember being really concerned about having "enough yarn" for a pair of socks, so I thought it would be prudent to buy 2 skeins (each skein is about 450 yards...). I made a pair of socks for my mother with the first skein, and this one's been sitting in the stash every since (probably going on 4 years now).

Your time is up, mystery yarn. Let the hat knitting commence.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Morning Edition

Whew! Apologies for the lack of posting this weekend. We were crazy-busy, as per usual, and sooper-dooper DORMA goddess that I am, something always has to give, and in this case it was blogging. And running. And working on the mittens (still not finished). But I digress...

I'm going to be solo-parenting this week, so yesterday I decided to get a move on and prepare all the meals for the coming week. Totally doable, but I was also feeling quite nest-y (a side effect of the Crap Part of Fall), and I decided it would be a good day to do the sort of romantic cooking I always dream about but never seem to have time for. I made bread (by hand, not by machine), soup (butternut squash-ginger - yum!), and chocolate pumpkin cookies (with homemade pumpkin purée, no less). All while tackling Mount Washmore (8 loads washed, folded and put away).

8 HOURS later, the meals were done, the kids were gagging on the soup, and I was - to put it mildly - somewhat fatigued.

I wish I'd had my wits about me and had at least taken food pictures, SOMETHING to make this post even mildly interesting, but there you go. Something had to give, and in this case it was my brain, heh. Domesticity isn't always blog-worthy, but today it's all I got.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random Friday

I have the attention span of a gnat on methamphetamines today, so a Random Friday post feels appropriate.

  1. We have now entered what I like to call the "Crap Part of Fall" (trademark pending): this occurs when we're no longer amazed by the beautiful transformation of the leaves from green to yellow, red and gold, but rather dismayed that they're falling off the trees and resting in sad, wet brown lumps on the sodden ground. The days are no longer "crisp", they're friggin' cold. I'd look forward to the charm of snow if it weren't for the fact that it won't go away for six months.
  2. I'm predicting the 2010$ for 2010 challenge will be a dismal failure. We're haemorrhaging money at a frightening rate chez Dear (new washer and dryer, new floors in the bedroom, new bedroom furniture), but rather than feel bitter about my lack of savings, I'm choosing to be thankful that I haven't had to resort to selling my children to make ends meet.
  3. Our bedroom furniture still hasn't been delivered. We ordered it on July 15th (that'd be exactly 3 months ago, to the day), and it was supposed to be delivered in "September". When I called them at the end of said month, the nice furniture store lady told me it would be arriving in "Mid-October". Guess what? TODAY'S mid-October, and still not a peep. I'm giving them another week and then I'm going to march over there, kids in tow, and pull a hissy fit the likes of which have rarely been seen.
  4. I think I've figured out the allure of stash/pattern acquisition: I don't get to knit nearly as much as I'd like to. Buying yarn, books, and queuing patterns on Ravelry feels like I am though. It's the illusion of knitting. Coincidentally, this doesn't only happen with knitting, as my husband's collection of pinballs and fabric stash will attest...
  5. Coffee tastes better when it's hot. That which was a glorious elixir of life this morning tasted like swamp water collected during the Crap Part of Fall 2 hours later.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

ps: I've given myself a quota on the mittens. I must work 10 rows a day. As of last night, I have about 35 rows left to go, then the thumb. I can do it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's all about discipline

Knitting is something I love, so naturally I want to just dive into it with utter and complete abandon. While this may be extremely satisfying on some basic, Freudian level, it's - well - bad. My Ravelry queue, pattern library, and stash are all testaments to how I can go way, WAY too far when I don't reign in my enthusiasm.

Thankfully, I respond well to structure. I'm usually at my best when my day is planned out and my activities and goals are organized and regimented (in my head, anyway). That's not to say that I'm incapable of being impulsive (see reference to queue, library and stash above), but I start to feel jittery if I don't have a "plan". I feel like I'm not actually making any progress.

In the case of the dreaded Citrus Mittens, that'd be because I am - literally - making no progress. Mostly 'cause I haven't been working on them.

I have a real love/hate relationship with these mittens. I coveted them, drooled over them, waited an eternity to buy the perfect yarn for them... These were going to be MY mittens. It was going to be awesome.

Then the first mitten turned out to be the size of an oven-mitt (there's only one size, if I'd had half a brain I would have seen that they were going to be too big). Heartbroken, I set them aside for a while. I couldn't even look at them. The pain was too fresh, too deep, and I needed time to heal.

Earlier this Fall I cast on for the second mitten. They were the perfect size for my Dad, who declared they "weren't girly at all" and said he'd LOVE to have them. I thought the mitten and I had made peace, or at least reached some kind of understanding. But right away little problems kept popping up. I couldn't find the dpn's I'd used for the first mitten anymore... I started working on the wrong chart... I lost my place and had to rip back 20 rows of intarsia (fun!)... my cat had chewed through both strands of working yarn.

What was once going to be a wondrous moment of pure knitterly joy has turned into a giant bowl or arse, and I need to come to terms with my feelings.

I have HAD it with these mittens! I need them to be DONE! We're CLEARLY not meant to coexist, and they need to go somewhere they'll be looked at with love and admiration, and not seething hatred ('cause they're really quite lovely).

Last night, I reluctantly set aside Castlegar and pulled out the mitten. I looked at it a good long while, pondering my plan.

With a heart-felt "Ptoooey!", I spit-spliced the yarn back onto that fracking mitten and by God and sunny Jesus, I will FINISH them by this weekend if it KILLS me!

Knitting. It's not all fun and games.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And time flew

I've said it before and I'll say it again: anyone who thinks long weekends are "relaxing" clearly doesn't have a busy schedule and young children...

It was Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend, and although we don't really celebrate it chez Dear, we managed to squeeze in a whole lotta activity into a 3-day period. At least, I think we did! I'm sitting here trying to organize my recollections of the weekend into some sort of time line, and there appear to be great big gaps of time I can't really recall. Hmmm...

You know what? I'm not going to bore you with the details. I'm just going to concentrate on the highlights, heh.

I'd say a definite highlight of the weekend was going to the local park with The Enabler clan yesterday. We had a picnic, flew some kites, and just enjoyed the day.

In short, we surrounded ourselves with good people we're lucky to have in our lives. If that's not what Thanksgiving is about, then I don't know what is :)

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I needs me some zen

I've been suffering from an incredibly debilitating case of the dreaded scatter-brains this week. Lots of questioning, lots of hasty resolutions that fizzle out, and even a bit of moping... all of which result in my getting precisely nowhere in terms of actual "growth and maturity and all that other stuff".

Seems like the only time my brain ever shuts up lately is when I'm knitting and I give in to that soothing, steady rhythm of creating stitch after stitch. That's the nice thing about this craft: even if it feels repetitive (mostly 'cause - you know - it IS), even if it feels like you're mired in a black hole of knittendom and not getting anywhere, every stitch really does bring you closer to your goal. You may not notice it, it might not be going fast enough for you, but you ARE moving forward.

And eventually, if you keep at it, you're rewarded with some pretty nifty knitwear.

Magic Mirror Socks by Jeannie Cartmel
Knit with Dream in Color Smooshy in the Strange Harvest colourway.

I'm particularly pleased with these socks. I think I did a bang-up job pairing the yarn and pattern, and the effect - as my good friend Jennifer rightly pointed out on Facebook recently - really is reminiscent of a zen garden.

Sadly, these won't be staying with me. They're destined for my stepmum Margot, who loves handknit socks with a fiery passion and wears them with pride and gusto until they literally fall off her feet.

Happy Knitting Everyone! I've got a never-ending cardigan to work on...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


As we've seen, there's been a flurry of knit-related activity this past week chez Dear. Not only has there been serious stash enhancement and moderate knitting library enhancement (which we'll get to in a later post), but there's been a parade of finished objects as well.

May I present Tamya, the pattern I selected at random for my self-imposed Had Trix club for September.

I love Woolly Wormhead's patterns. I've knit 5 of them so far, and have no intention of stopping, something that's bound to cause mild to moderate storage issues in the future. I went through the Winter accessories bin this weekend, and was shocked when I realized that I already have 9 hats (whereas Phil has 1, Maxime has 3 and Emilie has none left that fit). Oh well, I'll jump off that bridge when I have to, heh.

I used under one skein of Cascade 220 (about 190 yards worth) to make the largest size (what can I say? I've got a large noggin'), and while it wasn't as quick as the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, it was still a pretty quick knit. Cables are always fun, and the twisted stitches that run along the sides give the hat just the right touch. I was a wee bit terrified that it would stretch to monstrous proportions after blocking, but I think it turned out alright :)

So yeah... not counting today's post, I've got another FO photographed and ready to share with you next time, as well as another I just finished tonight that still needs to be blocked and photographed after I find some suitable buttons.

Which meant that I was actually sans the active WIP this evening! Panic! (for about 10 minutes, anyway). I had no desire to work on the dreaded Oven Mitts of Doom (my Dad's mittens and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment, as I suspect I'm going to run out of yarn before I finish the second one), and couldn't find the pattern I drew for October's hat of the month (Danielle). All I had wound up was a skein of String Theory for the Castlegar Cardigan... With Christmas and Winter looking, I really should just suck it up and finish the mittens...

Naturally I swatched for the cardigan and cast on at once! So I hope you enjoy the FO parade over the next few posts, because Castlegar is knit with a fingering weight yarn at 28 stitches and 32 rows for 4 inches. I figure it'll take about.... oh.... 600 years for me to finish it? Oh boy.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beyond pr0n

I'm often somewhat bemused by the fact that I rarely have any actual knitting or knit-related content to share with you on this blog. I mean - when you spend as much time as I do thinking about knitting, yarn, patterns, etc.... you'd think there'd be more knitting content, you know? And then every once in a while, the planets align, the Fates converge, and I've got a veritable cornucopia of knitty goodness to share with you.

Today's one of those days, my friends. We're going to move beyond pr0n today and into straight, x-rated yarn PORN. So sit back, enjoy, and smoke 'em if you got 'em.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I fell off the yarn diet wagon last week.... Pffff, who am I kidding? I didn't "fall off the wagon", I dove off that sucker head first, with nothing but my credit card to shield my fall.

Viola's fancy sock in the Moonlit Heather colourway. 437 yards of alpaca, cashmere and silk. I'm thinking Juneberry right now (you know, when I can stop petting it and actually form coherent thought).

Viola's merino fingering, North Sea colourway (the top of the photo is closer to the actual colour). I bought this thinking it would be a good fit for Celeano, but Phil has zoomed in on it like a buzzard over a dying animal in the desert, so it might turn into man-socks... (which would only mean I'd have to buy more for the shawl! Hmmmmmmm).

I also had a lovely lunch with Robyn this week and was surprised by a birthday gift that she'd been holding onto for 3 months. I can never get over this woman's generosity and thoughtfulness!

2 skeins of Flock of Feathers sock, in a lovely pale pink shade that Émilie has already called dibs on.
A skein of Magenta Colinette Jitterbug. I've owned a few skeins of this yarn but always ended up gifting or trading it, so this one's MINE!

A ball of Louisa Harding Mulberry (DK, 100% silk) in a lovely shade of purple that apparently had my name on it.

And last but definitely not least, 2 sets of lovely handmade buttons as well as some great safety-pin stitch markers (I didn't think you'd need a picture of those, heh).

Thanks so much for such a lovely gift, Robyn!

Whew! I was going to share some recent FOs as well, but I think I'm going to save it for another post. I don't want to spoil you, after all...

(OK that's a lie. I've already been working on this post for an hour, and I want to get my knit on, heh.)

Happy Knitting Everyone!