Monday, 29 July 2013

Too Much?

Today was a day of excess:  I drove home in torrential rain, saw a magnificent rainbow, realized exactly how much animal hair is blanketing my house and found some yarn.  The theme here - too much of everything.

I'm not going to say much about the drive except that it was mostly spent in a downpour and frankly, I didn't have a good time.  It could have been worse, I was in a car and not walking. But the rainbow - wow.  I don't think I've ever seen one this bright and vibrant.  The photo doesn't quite capture the intensity of colour but you can actually see the second rainbow behind it.


Flutter is coming along slowly.  There is about 12 inches of the body worked now so just a little more and then it will be split into two halves and worked front and back separately.  The cable pattern runs up the sides of the sweater ending under the arms.  The more I work on this, the more I like it so I'm quite excited about it and looking forward to wearing it - provided I did the math correctly and it fits!


So about the yarn I "found".  I spent the past weekend at the cottage and during the preparations to go, I opened one of my boxes of stash yarn (yes, I have more than one...) and found this.


If you overlook the rich coating of dog hair, it's pretty enough as sock yarns go but here's the thing:  I have absolutely no recollection of buying this. None. At. All. Total blank.  Normally I can at least tell you where I bought something. Not this one. Usually I have at least a clue what the yarn might be. Not this time. But clearly I had plans for it at one time because it was already in a cake in the box and I before you ask, no - I didn't so something clever like stuff the tag in the middle of the ball - I've already looked

My husband graciously didn't say anything about "too much yarn" when I told him about finding mystery yarn. I'm guessing by the weight that it is sock yarn so I'm really hoping that it has nylon in it.  I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Lightening Strike

Canadians have a particular fondness for talking about the weather and I'm no exception. The past few days have been pretty hot around here. This isn't news - most of eastern North America and the UK is baking in the heat so this isn't something you don't already know. Yesterday I think it was 40 C here (104 F). Not bad for the Great White North eh? Now don't get me wrong, I'm one of the ones who likes it hot but even I have to admit that this is a little much.

This kind of heat also triggers thunderstorms around here. Big, nasty thunder-boomers. And today was no exception.  About 2:30 we could hear the thunder rolling and by 3:00 we shut the internet down. And then the storm rolled right down the street. The noise was unbelievable - there were several lightening strikes very close to here and one in my front yard! My poor lilac tree has had a tough go of it. Drought last year, torrential rain this year and now its had a big branch blown off from lightening and another section incinerated on the tree!




Yes, they're slightly out of focus - I was just about carried away by mosquitoes (which are about the size of eagles this year from the rain).

I also have a new pair of socks.  The Strawberry Swirl socks that I was working on are now done.



I usually wear my new socks right away but I don't think I'll be doing that tomorrow.  Forecast high is 32 (90F) with a humidex value of 43 (110F).  I'll live without wool socks.

And as I was outside taking these pictures I saw this:

The storms aren't over yet.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Flutter

I have something new to share with you, and it isn't another pair of socks!  After flipping through a copy of Knit to Flatter by Amy Herzog at a friend's place a few weeks ago (Thanks M!) I bought a copy for myself.


Like most women I know, I'm not Ms. Average so I have to adjust sweater patterns in some way, but I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to do so.  I think it's because in order to do it well, I need to have a better knowledge of garment construction.  This book shows how and where to calculate the adjustments, which adjustments are easiest and which you should really leave alone and how to play up features to their best advantage.

So here is Flutter.  This is a pullover with a boat neck and elbow length sleeves.  Most of the sweater will be knit in stockinette stitch but there is a dainty cable pattern running up both sides of the body that is repeated on the sleeves. So far, so good.  The challenge is that it is knit in what is essentially sock yarn.  Think about that for a minute - a sweater knit in sock yarn.  I'm not a petite person.  I'm certainly not the first to knit a sweater at this gauge, but it's the first time I've ever done this.  This is what I've done so far.



Note - if you're thinking of making this, there is an errata page from the publisher here - you want to see this, the chart in the book is wrong.

In totally unrelated news, the strawberry season is well underway here and farmer's have been saying that this is the best crop they've had in years.  And the farmer's are right - this year's berries are divine!  I stopped and bought two 4 L baskets from a roadside stand on Thursday.  One basket became jam:


 The other will be used for straight eating.   Next up - raspberries!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Review - Follow the Yarn

I recently found myself saying yes to the opportunity to review an as-yet unpublished book called Follow the Yarn by Reba Linker which chronicles the writer’s experiences while taking a beginner knitting class at the Central Queen’s Y from teacher Ann Sokolowski.  Part philosophy, part technical manual, part biography and part autobiography, the book started as a means to preserve the knitting wisdom passed onto students but morphed into so much more.

As a knitting book, it isn’t a comprehensive “how-to” like many of the other big name books on the subject and the author freely admits that there are gaps in the content.  For example, there is almost no discussion of how to cast on and only a passing discussion of blocking; the reader is instead pointed to the internet to consult online tutorials. In contrast, there are whole sections dedicated to the technique of working a handful of different stitches.  The book goes on to cover such topics as increasing and decreasing, binding off, the sources and properties of various fibres, a discussion of different needles and my personal favourite, why you should pull yarn from the middle of the ball.

One of the things I found most interesting is that Ann taught Continental style knitting rather than the English style (called American style in the text) which is more common in North America.  As a result, the text and graphics around how to work the basic knit and purl stitch support this Continental style and I think would be of limited use to the average North American, English style knitter.  That being said, there is no reason not to learn another technique and in fact, many good reasons to at least have a nodding acquaintance with “the other” style.   

But if you already know how to knit; if you already have a foundation in the mechanics of sticks and string there is a surprising wealth of information in this book.  In many cases, I already knew the tip being presented.  In some cases, I was aware but hadn’t really verbalized it.  Others were totally new – something exciting for me after 13 years of knitting!  There is a good section on working seams and how to engineer the edges of your knitting to lie flat and therefore to have a better seam, a discussion of what should be in your knitting bag and an interesting exploration of the theme and variations of a simple basket weave stitch.

Knitting however, is only part of the story.  A great deal of this book is Ann’s story; her life and the events that made her who she was as told by Reba.  It isn’t a biography in the traditional sense.  There is no examination of her childhood, though there are a few photos.  There is a brief mention of her professional life that left me wanting to know more.  This is really about Ann’s knitting life which spilled over into her professional life and coloured everything. 

The real surprise though is what the book did for the author.   What started as a project to tell Ann’s story became a means to allow Reba to work through some long-standing issues of her own.  Sometimes painfully raw, you can see the hurt and the healing happening.  Some of what I came to think of as “Reba’s Story” becomes repetitive but by the end of the book, you don’t remember the repetition.  You remember a gift of healing, a gift of being seen, of being heard and of being valued.  You have a sense that you know Ann, a gruff New Yorker with a heart of gold. Finally, there is a great sense of peace, and you just know that your knitting is going to get better.

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Follow the Yarn will be published in paperback this fall, and will be available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com 

Until then, readers can get a pdf copy of Follow the Yarn by donating as little as $5 to our Indiegogo campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/follow-the-yarn/x/3505993 (campaign ends July 9), or they can get a FREE CHAPTER of Follow the Yarn by signing up at: http://eepurl.com/A6w8v   (emails will be kept strictly confidential - they will NEVER be given to a third party)

Last but not least, readers can learn more at http://www.RebaLinker.com