Friday, May 26, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Different

Here is a recent bit of work from my "metal as a fiber" venture. This is ultra fine gauge fine silver. Like so many of my creative pursuits, my jewellery work began (last year) with the inability to find exactly what I wanted, followed by the fateful thought "I bet I could do that," and shortly thereafter, "what would happen if...". It has been great fun, and an enormously valuable learning experience parlaying a creative pursuit into a business venture.
I finally got going on a sock yesterday - my first try at the Harlot's swatch and go recipe. I'm very excited by the notion of finally understanding how to make a sock that fits My foot. I have made a couple of pairs in the past, and they were just OK . I have very slender ankles - apparently more slender than what typically goes with a size 9 foot, because sock patterns invariably slouch on me, and I hate that with a passion.

Is it wrong that I find the self-patterning yarn so terribly entertaining? I'm suffering a bit of yardage anxiety - the ball band has a little picture of two socks, confirming the webstore's assertion that there is indeed enough to make two socks, but it doesn't say how long or how large. I'm trying to tell myself that these are prototypes - after this, I will know forever and always how much yardage it takes to make socks for Me. Besides, it's a readily available commercial sock yarn, so it can't be that difficult to order another ball if I do run out. Nevertheless, I hate the out of control feeling of not Knowing For Sure.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Knew This Would Lead to a Life of Crime

said my husband this morning, pointing me to this story. Is it possible even knitters could have a dark side? Perhaps the proliferation of expensive luxury yarns has created new levels of addictiveness comparable to the tobacco industry's ramped up nicotine levels, or super potent crack cocaine. Lured in by a simple ball of wool or even acrylic, fiber lust takes root and rapidly outstrips one's ability to pay. I suspect that there was likely some psychopathology going on in this particular story, although the bit about the husband calling the yarn store to come and get it struck me as funny - I wonder how many spouses have looked at their loved one's stash and thought "that's insane - s/he couldn't possibly have bought all that??" Food for thought when sneaking fiber into the house.

The story did make me think about the virtues of knitting: connectedness to the past and the natural world, creativity, patience, generosity of spirit, slowing down - I think of knitting as analogous to the "slow food" movement - "slow garments" - as opposed to instant gratification. What a pity if consumer culture were to overshadow these things, making knitting and its accoutrements just one more commodity to acquire. I wonder if theft of yarn on such a scale is symptomatic, if the humble act of creating beauty from simple materials is being lost to industry fueled consumer envy.

Paradoxically, knit blogging appears to both feed and mitigate this consumerism. I had no idea I needed hand painted luxury sock yarn before entering the blog world. On the other hand, there is a great deal of generosity in the sharing of patterns and techniques, as well as an encouraging number of small "cottage industry" fiber producers and designers. Hopefully the organic (or at least eco-friendly) fiber and textile movement will gather momentum here as well.

Interestingly, I discovered this story just as I was pondering with some trepidation our impending drop in income, and wondering what I would do if I someday ran out of yarn. Or more accurately, ran out of the kind of yarn I have come to believe I need. I don't believe that love of beauty is unhealthy (quite the contrary), but I think a little introspection regarding what leads me to believe I need certain products may be in order.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


As I have mentioned before, we are soon (less than 2 1/2 months now) moving to the incomparably beautiful town of Whistler, BC. We are also moving to a place with one less bedroom and less than half our present square footage, consequently I am taking the opportunity (like I have a choice) of severely culling our belongings. While compiling a stack of overly worn t-shirts, I had a brainwave. This was inspired, in part, by a number of blogs I've been reading dedicated to recycled and otherwise eco-friendly fashion. So, in characteristic impulsive style, I grabbed a pair of scissors and a nearby circular, flopped down among the heaps of sorted objects and produced this:

Even better, this photo was taken after subjecting the swatch to heavy machine washing and drying, and there is no discernable fraying. The swatch is fantastically elastic in all directions. I envision a very form fitting sweater, with a bit of fashion forward detailing. It's my aim to produce something that one might find in a funky boutique (as opposed to the "I hacked up stuff and made a craft at summer camp" look.) I'm thinking I may have to bleach and overdye the shirts to achieve a semi-cohesive color theme, since one t-shirt will make an inch or two (at most) of knitting around the body. I'm also compelled to ask myself whether this represents a virtuous investment in the planet, or just a more sophisticated variation of the packrat personality trait I'm trying so hard to shed. Well, the point is moot - the compulsion to create is in full force now, and skeins of dismantled t-shirts will be joining the stash.

Speaking of impulsively started projects, my DD's summer top is coming along. The fancy edge is complete, and now it's just knit, knit, knit to the armholes.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dulaan 1 Finished

It's a lovely, sunny holiday Monday, and time to regale the kids with my favorite Victoria Day long weekend song : "The Pits" by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. I did, in fact, go gravel pit camping once during my two years in Newfoundland and Labrador, although not on the May long weekend and not exactly by choice. I was in Cornerbrook for the summer of 1991, doing the Obstetrics portion of my residency, and decided on a whim to drive north to the tip of the province and have a look around for the weekend. (Funny, it's been a lot of years since I did an 8+ hour drive on the spur of the moment.) Fortuitously, I arrived at L'Anse Aux Meadows just as the Gaia was sailing into harbor at the end of her historic Atlantic crossing. She was a sight to behold (as were the host of icebergs lining the shore) and I had the wonderful experience of being able to go on board and look around. After touring the Viking settlement at L'Anse Aux Meadows, I thought I would look for a campground to stay the night. The gas gauge was reading close to empty, and this was when I discovered, to my horror and amazement, that ATM technology had not yet reached that part of the province. Being Sunday, the banks were closed, and I did not own a credit card (having decided that I was already far enough in debt with student loans.) After a hasty bit of scrabbling through my wallet and between the seat cushions of my little pickup, I came up with enough loose change to buy just enough gas to get home. (And I do mean "just" - the last bit of the trip was exciting, and not in a good way.) Having no money for lodging, I found a nice little gravel pit by the side of the highway, and slept in my truck. That was my first and last foray into that particular provincial pasttime.

On to the sweater. My DH read yesterday's post and professed complete amnesia with regard to his alleged input on the cuffs. (He also presented a somewhat convoluted rationale of why this did not, in fact, constitute yet another failure to listen to me.) It turns out that, having spent several years sealing himself into an immersion suit against the likelihood of ditching in the North Pacific, he is of the firm opinion that snug cuffs in inclement weather are a Good Thing. So I redid the cuffs, and I have to say, he was right.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The long weekend thus far has been rather cold and windy (I would love to say "unseasonably", but this is Saskatchewan, after all) so I took the opportunity to focus on a bit of thick wool knitting.

Now I'm in a quandry. The cuffs are really rather looser than ideal (DH thinks they look fine, but what does he know - Mr. Not A Sweater Kind of Guy.) Since I have a wee bit of a personal inclination toward letting perfectionism get in the way of finishing anything, I need to let this simmer for a day or two before frogging and redoing the cuffs. In any case, this has been an excellent learning experience in children's sweater design. I think in the next iteration of the Swatch Sweater, I will make the sleeve wider at the armhole and start tapering toward the cuff sooner. I will also make the neck opening bigger, thus allowing more of a collar, and consider using the stabilize and snip method for cutting out the front neckline, thus eliminating all flat knitting. "The Opinionated Knitter" recently arrived on my doorstep, and in my first quick scan I believe I saw EZ discuss that very notion. I'm also toying with an idea of my own for giving the shoulders a slightly fitted slope without ever sacrificing circularity.

While the cuff business simmers, I couldn't resist another quick cast on:

I know, I should be finishing one of my UFO's, but I've been dying to get on with trying one of the edgings from Nicky Epstein's books - the second one arrived Friday, and I haven't even knit any of the edgings from the first book I got last year. (Actually, that's not true, I knitted one of the ruffles in enamelled copper, but that's another story.) Also Lewiscraft is going out of business, and a couple balls of "machine wash and dryable" pink cotton for next to nothing jumped into my arms as I wandered by. This is another "don't want to have to plan ahead too much" kid design. It's going to be a funky little summer T-shirt for my DD. The plan is to knit the sawtooth edge until it goes around her "about right" and then pick up along the top edge and knit upwards in a circle to the armpits. At that point I have a general notion about short sleeves joined on in circular raglan fashion - I'll figure out the details when I get there.

The photo also illustrates my latest lace knitting brainwave - that is, to type the pattern into Word in BIG print and highlight the bits that are different each row in a different color. I think (hope) this will help me get the rhythm of the pattern more quickly, as well as preserving my eyesight and sanity.