Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sky Fashion

It would seem that gray is the new blue this season:

Now if only the temperature would drop a few degrees......

Friday, October 27, 2006

Virtual Swatching

A squashy little bundle arrived yesterday:

lichen yarn

My first yarn purchase in months (sob), this is destined for the one really ambitious gift on my list. I have enough hard-won self-knowledge to be (somewhat) realistic about the feasibility of grand Christmas intentions, but there is a certain someone who, more than anyone, will intimately appreciate the work and thought involved. (Equally importantly, this person is also the most likely to unconditionally forgive me if life gets in the way of the exact deadline.)

The yarn is fingering weight Romney lambswool from Red Bird Knits in the Lichen colourway. I love the warmth and subtle shading - the plan is to combine it with Sangria from Fleece Artist (also purchased from RBK some time ago):

red and lichen

I want to create a stranded colourwork scarf, utilising some of the fabulously intricate patterns from Anna Zilboorg's Turkish socks book. I had a little crisis of confidence though, because the Lichen has more green than I thought, and the last thing I want is a screamingly "Christmasy" look. I was hoping the gold and brown would complement the red in a rich and subtle mix.

I dug into the stash and came up with an alternative:

red and organge

Pretty, but rather loud (the yellow-orange is even brighter in real life). Also, I will quite possibly require pharmacological sedation if I have to spend any more time with ORANGE right now.

So I turned to my trusty photoeditor for a bit of virtual swatching (this will also answer Judy's question about my process for extracting palettes from photographs.)

First, I used the simulated watercolour function to pixellate the photo:

red and lichen pixellated

This helps me pick individual colours out of the optical mix.

I created a rough approximation of the Lichen palette:

lichen palette

And superimposed a simplified pattern sampled from the reds:

with red patterning

There's no substitute for actual swatching (or in the case of a scarf - beginning) but the approximation does look close enough to my intended effect to make it worth putting the yarn on the needles.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just One Measly Scarf

I made The List weekend before last - of handmade (mostly knitted) gifts to complete in time for Christmas. I decided that I would finish them all by the end of November, so as not to ruin December with fretting and frantically knitting through the nights. I tallied and divided and counted and allotted and generated a tidy little 6 week project chart. And as we approach the end of week 2, I am now seven gifts behind schedule.

Given that, you'd think I would have used my knitting time yesterday making gifts, or perhaps finishing The Sleeve That Never Ends. Nope. In a fit of denial (or something) I did this:

Because when I walked down to the insurance place (having finally dug up enough documentation of my lifelong citizenship to be able to change over my driver's licence) it was cold. And I realized, tragically and inexplicably, that I do not own a wool scarf of my own and instead had to borrow this:

My husband's Air Force issue, deadly-itchy-lowest-bidder wool scarf. As I trudged through the drizzle, I pondered the pruritic irony that a reasonably accomplished knitter with a modest stash would not own a Decent Scarf.

There's an oddly guilty sensation that accompanies knitting for myself between September and Christmas - sort of like going to stores between Halloween and Christmas Eve: "Can I gift wrap that for you ma'am?" "No, um.." mumble mumble, "it's actually just for me." Plus I am Seven Gifts Behind. Maybe they'd all like dishcloths.....

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Promise of a New Day

So you may have noticed that, yesterday's grand statement of intent notwithstanding, nothing has actually changed around here. Yet. The thing is, yesterday was One Of Those Days, and I was feeling like - well, like this:

Nothing catastrophic, just the lingering effects of a particularly nasty virus, combined with a few months of cumulative fatigue and stress. But when I sat down to the computer after lunch, and announced in sepulchral tones that I was going to switch to the new beta version of Blogger, and wouldn't it just be my luck if the whole blog vanished to an inaccessible backwater of the space-time continuum, and heaven only knows how you go about making a backup - DH all but dragged me bodily from the keyboard. Clever man. Anyhow, once the two inches of rainwater recedes from my sputtering candle stub of rational thought, I'll get on with the aforementioned improvements.


It's Wednesday, and time for a colour project. While the autumn foliage has been spectacular, I've just been spending a little too much time with Tomato Red and Carroty Orange of late. I'm in the mood for something quieter, more subtle, soothing, even hopeful - and what could be more hopeful than the glowing dawn of a new day?

I have always been fascinated by the colour progression of sunrise:

The subtly graduated palette:

I am disinclined in this case to superimpose a "pattern" - I think I would let the colours speak for themselves in a progression of blended stripes or waves. (Though perhaps not in a sweater - seeing as the most vivid hues would highlight the midriff....) It could however, make a stunning scarf or shawl.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Practically Knit

The little fall jacket has a (mostly) complete sleeve, waiting now for a fitting. I'm not sure my present approach to the cuff is going to work - the tried and true method would have been to decrease abruptly on the first round, for a gathered effect above snug ribbing. I was afraid that with such thick fabric, the effect might be a little stiff, and opted instead to decrease within the cuff along the seam line, and drop down several needle sizes to tighten the gauge. I'm not positive it's going to be snug enough - although, since DD is highly opinionated, it could well be just right. (I was advised in no uncertain terms at the last fitting that there were "too many strings inside" - I couldn't agree more.)

Though I continue to like the design, working it has become a chore. Normally I would relegate it to the time-out pile, and indulge myself with a newer and more exciting project - but this time I can't. This is practical knitting - a warm jacket for my own child in an increasingly cold season, and since we have presently chosen a way of life that necessitates a very tight monthly budget, knitting it from the stash was the responsible thing to do.

I wouldn't begin to suggest that we are suffering real hardship here, only that knitting for purposes of thrift and practical need throws a very different light on a traditional craft which has been overtaken by impulsive acquisition and luxury consumption. I have been working my way through Ann Feitleson's "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting", and was particularly struck by the hardship expressed in the personal interviews. Knitting is certainly about creative expression and visual and tactile pleasure, but it is also about discipline, persistence, and self-sufficiency, and it doesn't hurt to connect with the latter.

Crafting protection from a harsh climate with our own hands restores a sense of immediacy in our relationship with the natural world - and by extension, creates a greater awareness of the fragility of life without push-button climate controlled dwellings. I think that's why projects like Dulaan benefit both the recipients and the knitters.


On a completely different (and far less philosophical) note: I plan to tackle the somewhat daunting business of switching to the new Blogger platform, and checking out Haloscan for comment hosting. Quite possibly it will involve some weirdness and/or republishing, so apologies in advance to any Bloglines subscribers who get multiple copies of this post over the next couple of days.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Autumn Inspirations

We survived the Lower Mainland traffic and arrived safely home last night. It must be the cumulative time spent in small towns across Canada, because my tolerance for aggressive big-city driving culture has dwindled to almost nil (and yes, I know Vancouver is mild compared to Toronto or Montreal). The game of chicken required for each merge, lane change, or street entry, in which two cars accelerate full throttle at the space in question, the "loser" acquiesing only at the last split second before fiery death - it makes me crazy. Especially with the kids in the car. I want to stand up and scream "People! Could we not have a civilized social contract here, in which I let you in to "my" lane in a safe and timely fashion, in the full and certain knowledge that you will do the same for me another day, and the timings would all even out such that the 0.03 seconds you added to your Two Hour Commute by not trying to kill me would invariably be gained back in reciprocity?"

I read somewhere that crowded driving conditions trigger primal territorial instincts and aggression, so I suppose not much is going to change that. Well, bike paths and responsible urban planning would help, but that's an uphill battle after the fact. It does make me terribly thankful to live in Whistler, where we are privileged to have a safe and healthy living space that is also within walking or biking distance of everything we need, and fully connected by well-constructed paths.

Speaking of thankfulness, here's a bit of Whistler autumn eye-candy:

garden and mountain

chives and bl eye susan

red and green leaves


I couldn't help but dive into the tourmaline and ruby:


And the black eyed Susan got a sparkling black tourmaline eye:

silver susan pendant

My goal for today - finish this:


before the colours which inspired it disappear under a blanket of white.