Saturday, January 06, 2007


Yesterday saw an enormous amount of snowfall. Listening to the radio reports of highway mayhem (as happens on a Friday evening when the folks from the Lower Mainland decide that bald summer tires will do just fine in a blizzard just this once, and since they are important and in a hurry to get to the slopes, the double solid line on the blind curve doesn't apply to them) and the collapse of the BC Place stadium roof, we snuggled up safe and cosy by the fire and thought how tremendously thankful we are to live here.

In the morning though, comes the magic.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Chaos and Creation

The school holidays wind down this week, not a moment too soon. Although I love having the whole family home together, the lack of routine is starting to take a toll on peace and serenity. Not to mention my work schedule (or lack thereof).

In spite of the chaos, I did manage to finish up phase 1 of the collaborative project last night, and the results are posted over at my jewellery blog.

The exercise resolution is coming along - it works out that each round of the charcoal sweater must be paid for with 5 sit-ups, 4 push-ups and a chin-up. Not an unreasonable plan time-wise, though I'm really feeling the muscles today!


Swatch of the day:

A gauge swatch for the next Dulaan sweater. I want to write up a simple pattern for a child's sweater that will also serve as a low-stress introduction to both stranded colourwork and steeking.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

String Bag patterns

So wouldn't you know it, just as Charity kindly linked to my string bag pattern, the new Blogger template disappeared my own link. Sigh. It's back now...... (in the sidebar, under Original designs).


The biggest downside to this life of creativity is the fact that I now spend great swaths of time just sitting - at the computer, at the bench, on the couch.... And while I always made time for formal exercise when I was working in an office, working from home is much harder to define. It's tempting to feel that every hour of the day is (or ought to be) a work hour, followed by a sinking sensation of wastage as the tasks of daily living encroach on that. Leaving the house for an hour or two to exercise feels like a grievous waste of already eroded work time rather than the wise allotment of personal time it used to be - so I end up not doing it. The result, of course, is that my once svelte physique is now oozing over the top of the one pair of pants I can still squeeze into. Bleh!

So, my latest resolution: Log my minutes of sedentarianism (sedentariosity?) and for each minute spent sitting, I will do a push-up, sit-up or chin-up, or spend one minute in aerobic activity. For example, having swatched, blogged, and worked on my website this morning, I logged 180 minutes of sitting. Now I have to ski today. No excuses (the snow's too heavy, I find the crowds intimidating, it's pouring rain, yada yada yada....).

Speaking of swatching:

I took the chevron pattern from yesterday and worked it in a series of needle sizes from largest to smallest. I think the pattern maintained its crispness and integrity nicely, which means that varying gauge is a viable shaping strategy for this stitch.

Sedentary tasks for today: finish the collaborative jewellery project, do a pile of website work, and continue reinstalling all the blog bits that got lost in making the leap to the new Blogger template. I spent several hours yesterday restoring it to a semblance of its former self - I'm not entirely clear how this constitutes "new and improved", although it does seem like future edits will be easier to do with the new template format. Maybe.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Third Day And Still Swatching!

Here's the second swatch:Definitely getting closer to what I'm looking for. It's a bit fiddly to work, but not horrendously so, pulls in a bit like a ribbing, and transitions nicely to stockinette. I tried a couple of purl ridges after establishing the initial pattern - they don't disrupt the shape, but add a bit of texture, and I like the way purl rows soften a colour transition. I'm presently on a quest to mix and blend colours without the added bulk of stranding.


Another progress shot (this time with a decent amount of natural light):

I am love love loving the process of this knit - the reassuring elasticity of good wool, the deliciously deep charcoal colour with just a hint of tweediness to give it life and dimension. It's going to need a good blocking to counteract the bunching tendencies of the purl stitches, but if lace behaves itself, I see no reason why this won't.


And a peek at my other project for this week - a collaboration with a local glass artist:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Swatch of '07

Having resolved to swatch this year, I took that a step further, and decided to try to do it on a daily basis. Not obsessively so (because then I would miss a day, like I just did yesterday, and think the whole business was ruined and give up in a little puddle of stymied perfectionism) but mostly every day. It's just more likely to get done that way. What I have done in the past was to wait until I was actually ready to start a given project and the fever of getting on with it was upon me, and then the swatching felt like a huge ordeal standing between me and casting on for my heart's desire. The plan now is to swatch steadily for projects in the vague "what would happen if?" stage and by the time I reach the "nothing else on the needles, must start NOW" stage, the prep work will be done.

Here's the first one:

The goal of this round of swatching is to explore patterns that will blend two colours (probably a handpaint and a closely related solid) in an intriguing, non-pooling fashion, and transition smoothly to stockinette. (I am not going to use up expensive handpainted yarn on swatching, though.) Jury's out on this particular swatch - it has potential, but not exactly what I had in mind.

Progress on the charcoal sweater:
It is quite a challenge to adequately photograph monochromatic texures, especially with natural light so scarce this time of year.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Out of the Starting Blocks

The first new project of 2007:

The project: a gently fitted wool sweater, just roomy enough to layer over a long sleeved T-shirt, featuring hemmed borders and cuffs, understated knit-purl patterning, and just a hint of brushed alpaca for tactile luxury.

Yarn: Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool (just a wee bit more expensive than KP's Wool of the Andes, but far superior colour and feel) and a tiny bit of KP's Suri Dream.

Design goals: 1) Work out a seamless replica of a fully rounded set-in sleeve cap. 2) Explore traditional Scandinavian knit-purl patterns. 3) Try out hemmed cuffs and borders.


Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 31, 2006


This has been a year of enormous change and upheaval, and I think the only thing I can say with certainty at the start of 2007 is that I am no longer certain about the vast majority of the things I used to think I knew, particularly about myself. And while that is an undoubtedly profound realization, it doesn't go far towards generating a tidily bulleted "to do" list for the upcoming year. I've launched into uncharted waters - this will be the year to sail them.

In the midst of that, I find myself paradoxically clear and specific about what I want to accomplish as a knitter. Perhaps this relates to Elizabeth Zimmerman's famous statement: "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."

Knitting Resolutions for 2007:

1) I'm not making any formal resolutions about knitting from stash because it's a moot point - our budget simply won't allow for extravagance, and I have enough of this and that to tide me over. Any purchases will likely be good workhorse wools for specific design projects that require something not presently in the stash.

2) I want to grow my design skills, and to that end, my motto for this year is restraint. By which I mean, I resolve to set aside the obsessively overachieving impulse to try to make every project the most wildly inventive, intricate and originally dazzling thing EVER. (Also the corresponding neurosis that nice yarn would be wasted on anything but.) Rob gave me a copy of "Knitting in the Old Way" for Christmas, and between that and my little EZ library, I want to try all the shaping and construction techniques, and play with form and fit until they are firmly under my fingers. That means a series of sweaters that are simple and elegant, with one or two delicious details. For now, I intend to reserve intense intricacy for little projects.

3) Colour. Two to a project. Maximum. I wove in over 500 ends (seriously!) for that little cropped cardigan, and I am SO done with ends for a while. Not forever, but for a while.

4) Spinning. I will dig out the spindle. I may not get to be any good at it, but I will start.

5) Dyeing. Same idea as no. 4 - no pressure to do great things, but I will do the research and get started.

6) Swatching. Not just the bare minimum required to establish gauge before getting on with the good bit, but swatching for its own sake - to explore technique and texture and colour in miniature. I might even blog and gather them into a personal reference library.

7) Gift knitting. I will regularly add items to the 2007 gifting box, and will NOT be caught short next year. Seriously. I will also get DS's stocking done for Christmas 2007.

8) Knitting for DH and the kids. Primarily DD, since the men of the family are Delicate Flowers in the skin department.

9) Charitable knitting. I will get my five Dulaan items done (and mailed In Time), and design a free sweater pattern for the project.

And that's about it. I have a small number of WIP's to finish up, and I'd like to make enough socks to wear handknits all the time, (DH too, if he can get over his wool-next-to-the-skin thing).

As for the uncharted waters - I do have a compass, but it's a little like Jack Sparrow's - and I'm not at all sure where it's taking me.