Thursday, February 15, 2007


The deed is done. I just about expired with anxiety during the import / export process, but it's all there now - I will be at from now on. The feeds are processed and available, Bloglines and other aggregators appear to be picking it up just fine.

I am very excited about the new possibilities - such as hosting my free pattern pdf's right on the blog, etc. etc.

See ya there!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine Date

Today being one of the two days of the week on which both kids are elsewhere occupied for a few hours, Rob and I played hooky from all the stuff we could and should have been doing, and went on a date.

We began with a little trip to the top, where it was simultaneously snowing, densely foggy, and brilliantly sunny.

sunny clouds

The falling snow muffled all sound, making for an eerily magical atmosphere.

big tree in fog

mist and blue sky

Since we couldn't see where we were going, Rob felt it would be an excellent time to introduce me to my first black diamond run, which admittedly, didn't look all that bad down the initially visible five or six feet. It got different in a hurry. I'm proud to say, I only fell down once, and none of my gear came off. Truth be told, a modest interlude of stark terror was an effective antidote to the chronic worry that's been niggling around my psyche for the last few days - sort of clears the pipes, if you will.

The medicinal effect was undeniably heightened by knitting and beer, though.
ski out red arrow

knitting at the gate

(Yes, I forgot my sunglasses.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

This weekend was.... not like last weekend. So I knitted. A lot. All the way to the underarm division point.I joined the second ball at what I though was the second purple stripe, and it was actually the first, which means the sequence is no longer precisely regular. I think it looks just fine, and I am going to call it a design feature. Organic. Artistically asymmetric. Shunning the ploddingly predictable. I will, however, try to make the sleeves match one another.

I love these colours - I can't believe I am just now "discovering" Noro.

As for the weekend.... this is a fickle sort of business. My response is to analyze the events in detail, sort the data, and formulate a plan. I divide things up roughly as follows: First: factors beyond my control - concurrent events, weather, dumb luck. Not much to do there but bring plenty of yarn. Second: things I could do differently, in order to be more attractive to potential customers. This requires some thought to distinguish between genuinely useful improvements and wise business choices, and the fact that one simply can't (and shouldn't) be all things to all people.

And there is always another day,

another magical country to be explored.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I Do Still Knit....

Thank-you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who commented so kindly and thoughtfully yesterday. It helped a great deal to see the issue with fresh eyes. My initial misgivings centred around the belief that giving is best done with "no strings attached." (That and the whole discomfort with money thing - I suspect that women's relationship with money and (under)valuing their work would be great material for a blog essay.... but I digress).

I can however, wrap my mind around the concept of story. It seems to have considerable commonality with blogging - putting oneself out there in narrative form - saying, "this is me - read me.... or not". Blogging too, must strike that delicate balance between authenticity and TMI. And as Rachel said so eloquently, a small business has a story, which is an integral part of the product, and if told with authenticity and integrity, need not be manipulative.

Now for a bit of knitting. My knitting mojo has been discombobulated this week. The Silk Garden Clapotis is halfway through the second ball, waiting for the third to arrive in the mail, in case the colours at the transition are too wildly contrasting and require creative splicing.
(The yarn does splice beautifully, and I can see it would be fabulous for felting - I have to pry the dropped stitches apart to get them to unravel.)

The mohair/silk scarf is pretty, but definitely a product, rather than a process knit. (I bet it would be a lovely process knit in the recommended Icelandic wool, though.) I have set myself the task of finishing one repeat a day in order to stifle the urge to chuck it to the bottom of the WIP pile. (There are 37 repeats, not counting the borders, so the idea of wearing it to a show this month is pretty much out.)

The grey sweater with the mathematical sleeves has stalled at the 2/3 point in the face of a recent epiphany: I hardly ever wear wool pullovers. Indoors, I invariably grab a cardigan for warmth - because I like to take it on and off throughout the day - I get a little chilled sitting still at the bench or the computer, and then when I hustle around cooking or chasing kids, I get too warm.... And an outerwear pullover needs to be a bit on the roomy side for layering. Therefore, I am debating whether it is remotely possible to reinforce and cut a hemmed border. Would the added bulk of picking up stitches along the double thickness be unsightly? I suppose I may have to knit a little test hem and try it.

While pondering that dilemma, I did the only sensible thing, and started another cardigan.This is Noro Kureyon, purchased at the same time as the Silk Garden, when Ram Wools had their anniversary sale. I'm not entirely sure how long it's going to be, since I have 1000 yards of Aran weight yarn, and I'm knitting it at a tighter-than-ball-band gauge (inspired by personal experience and the Catherine Lowe philosophy of knitting - tighter gauge really does yield a more shapely result.) It will be a simple stockinette cardigan, with slightly fancy ribbing at the borders. I think I will go with circular raglan shaping, so as to keep the striping consistent across the upper body and shoulders, and then steek down the middle. (The body ribbing is, of course, knit back and forth, since I am actually planning ahead this time).

And a little crochet project from this week, which is coming with me to the Fairmont:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

So I've Been Thinking

I've been thinking for some time about the idea of "giving back". One of my remaining moral misgivings about this big life change is the fact that I have left a fundamentally humanitarian profession (and one within which I invariably gravitated to caring for the neediest and least privileged segments of humanity) for something that consists, on the face of it, of making pretty baubles for folks with a decent disposable income.

In all fairness, the Other profession was also a large bureaucratic machine, in which the opportunities for individual difference-making were far more limited than one might imagine. (Not to mention the fact that it was not-so-slowly destroying my health.) And I have been pleasantly surprised, and at times even astonished, by the degree to which the love and passion and meaning which I pour into the things I make transfers to and affects the people who purchase and receive them. But I also cannot escape the fact that the ability to choose to do something I love, and be paid for that, is a rare privilege, and one that depends on circumstances largely not of my own making.

The majority of the world is concerned with basic survival - finding food and water for themselves and their children, avoiding armed conflict. They can't afford to be choosy about "fulfilling work" - they struggle to find anything at all that will generate enough to barter for their next meal. I think I have learned enough rudimentary economics to let go of the belief that hanging onto my own misery would somehow atone for theirs, but I absolutely cannot accept this happy life as though it were somehow all mine to keep.

So, starting now, 10% of all my net sales profits will go to Medecins Sans Frontieres. (And of course, as a knitter, I will send the numbers to Stephanie for Tricoteuses Sans Frontieres.) I suppose it might be prudent to wait for the end of the year, tot up the numbers, see if my business is in the black overall, etc. etc. but I feel a sense of urgency to just get on with it.

Which brings me to one other small ethical dilemma: should I advertise that fact? I see folks advertising that "a percentage of all.... goes to...... charity" all the time, but to do it myself feels uncomfortably like a marketing ploy. I'm not even sure if it is truely an ethical issue, or perhaps simply reflects my innate discomfort with self-promotion.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Not So Fast

The good news: the pattern (Meg Swansen's Lace Shawl from the Fall 2005 Vogue Knitting - sorry about leaving out the details earlier) is dead easy and this mohair-silk is incomparably lovely stuff.

The bad news: I am finding it mindbogglingly finicky yarn to knit with. Most definitely NOT the "knit without looking" sort of project I had in mind, and unless there is a very steep kinesthetic learning curve, I don't have a snowball's chance in Hades (or right here, for that matter - it's been worryingly warm for the last week) of tossing this oh-so-fetchingly over my shoulders before the end of the month.

This represents an hour's knitting:
Now, I'm no Wendy, but I normally zip along at a pretty respectable pace. Granted, I had to redo the provisional cast-on (my first ever) a couple of times, but still.... Yeesh. It's the k1p1 into the double yarnovers that is getting to me - that second yo loop just glues itself to the following stitch, and the little hairy bits stick together, looking for all the world like a single loop. Thankfully that maneuver only occurs on two of the 8 rows in the pattern repeat.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Weekend Recap

The weekend was a resounding success - so much so that I don't have any knitting to show you! Not only were sales good, but I had some lovely serendipitous conversations that were validating and encouraging in areas where I had harbored deep self-doubt. As for my "high end" worries - the hotel staff could not have been more gracious and welcoming, and I felt completely at home in that environment. Odd in a way, and reassuring - because I have never partaken of social elitism or its trappings - even the forms normally taken for granted in my former profession - and I half feared I would be out of my depth in an environment with such extreme wealth. It appears that professionalism and people skills will carry the day.

I am exhilarated and exhausted, and have a large "to do" list to tackle before next weekend - but there will be knitting. Because hotel lobbies are exceedingly drafty in winter - and an artist who knits really ought to have a selection of stunning cardigans and scarves with which to warm her shivery self.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sitting Knitting

I've given careful thought to what to do with my hands today while the throngs of ski tourists wander by en route to the spa, the slopes, their rooms. Knitting of course, but it has to be simple enough that I can appear engaged with my surroundings, ready to make friendly eye contact at a moment's notice. And, ahem.... a classy and upscale project. Each of the series of informative emails which I have received from the Arts Council and the hotel itself have gone to great pains to remind me (all the artists, not me personally) that this is a "high end" venue, and that our presentation and appearance should reflect that esthetic - specifically, "no torn jeans or tacky t-shirts", "cleaning up any mess we make" and "showing up on time". And "did we mention, this is a high end venue". I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but I can only assume that the level of conscientious professionalism I take for granted is not necessarily universal in the artistic community.

Well, I think the Silk Garden Clapotis will make the grade. And if I finish the second ball (the third is in the mail), I plan to start this - it's a simple pattern, relying more on big needles than complexity, but still very pretty:

Though not in Icelandic wool, rather this:

I think laceweight mohair / silk qualifies as "high end"!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Silent Poetry

I do not partake of poetry nearly as often as I intend to. While that would be fine stuff for a resolution, this day of silent poetry reading is also a way to remember.


Out of infinite longings rise
finite deeds like weak fountains,
falling back just in time and trembling.
And yet, what otherwise remains silent,
our happy energies—show themselves
in these dancing tears.

Rainer Maria Rilke, via

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Wow - who knew there were so many phone phobes in the world? I feel totally validated and normalized! (And also still bereft of my birthday present - guess I'll have to suck it up and feel the fear one day soon.)

Not much knitting of yarn going on for the last day or so, as I have been working to finish up a couple of necklaces and round out my earring collection (as well as about a million humdrum business-ish tasks - but it's a very good thing as an entrepreneur to have many pressing things to do, because it generally means things of an income-generating nature are happening. Or about to happen.) I figure these weekends will be winners one way or another - either I will be busy selling my work, or I will have eight quiet hours of knitting each day.

Speaking of yarn, I am doing a terrible job of responding personally to comments this week, so I will mention that the Silk Garden colourway is No. 249 - described online as "rose & brown", although there is a lovely blue section that is considerably larger than the rose bit. Here's a gratuitous close-up:

While we're on the topic of blue ( just brimming with original segues today...) remember this?

It is one of my favorite colour images this year, but just didn't lend itself to a stranded colour pattern (though I agree absolutely with Judy's suggestion about dyeing.) The theme of rushing water over translucent blue-green ice worked its way into this necklace, instead:

The stones are chrysoprase and Peruvian blue opal, and the droplets are crocheted in fine silver.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mostly News

But first, a progress pic:

This is most of the first ball - I love the colours, but I can clearly see that two will not be enough. Here's hoping I can still get the same dyelot.

First bit of news: I have made the leap to Typepad for my jewellery / other art blog - and am liking it so much that I plan to move this blog over as well. I'm going to take my time, though and get the formatting and extras exactly as I want them before exporting all my posts. If you care to check out the jewellery blog, it can be found here:

Second bit of news: My portfolio was apparently well received, because I was notified yesterday evening that three of the four high end hotels in Whistler have selected me to display and sell my work in their lobby this month. The event is called "Made in Whistler" and is a component of an arts festival running throughout February as part of the lead up to the the 2010 Olympics. I will be working every Sat/Sunday in February from 11 am to 7 pm. If you happen to be in Whistler during that time and care to do a little blog-stalking, here's my schedule:

Feb. 3&4 Hilton

Feb. 10&11 Fairmont Chateau

Feb. 17&18 Hilton

Feb. 24&25 Four Seasons

I'm off to flit about in a (happy) tizzy of last minute preparations!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Silk Garden Clapotis is indeed knitting up in addictive fashion.It is actually about twice this big now, but there is no point in photographing it in the wee dark hours. I'll shoot it again around noonish today.

I adore the subtlety of the colour changes.


Since Sherri tagged me a few days ago, I suppose the time has come to step up to the plate and confess Six Weird Things About Me. (My darling husband's reaction was "only six?")

1) I am an autodidact. (I discovered that term recently, and I think it sounds vastly more sophisticated than "self-taught".) I taught myself to knit around age 10, and have learned the craft entirely from books, trial-and-error, and now blogs. Though I KIP freely, I have never had the experience of knitting in the company of other knitters. I never felt wistful about that until I entered the blog world; however, with small children and a limited budget, I'm not likely to go jetting off to fibre festivals any time soon, so blogging will do for a while yet.

2) I am phone phobic. (Though after reading other memes, I was gratified to see that many admirable, high functioning folk share this weirdness.) I have no difficulty once I am actually engaged in conversation, but I will procrastinate and strategize endlessly to avoid making the call. DH generously gifted me a long-coveted dressform for my birthday last November, but the company does not fill online orders, and I will have to call their 1-800 number. I still don't have my birthday gift.

3) The texture of baked-in raisins makes me queasy.

4) Despite spending a decade and a half mucking about with human bodily functions, I find loose moustache hairs to be stomach-churningly gross. (My Beloved has a moustache.)

5) My upbringing was almost entirely cut off from Western pop culture. I have therefore spent my adult life acquiring musical tastes in highly eclectic fashion, but with the rare privilege of "discovering" the greats with fresh ears. My husband finds this amusing:
Me: "Ooh - that's a catchy tune."
Rob: "It's the Rolling Stones, dear..."

6) I have one far-sighted and one near-sighted eye. This was not discovered until around age 12, at which point I began a long and painful journey of wearing bizarre looking glasses which gave me chronic headaches. I finally bought contact lenses once I had my own money - which solved the headache problem, but still did battle with the accomodation process my brain had developed. I settled in my late 20's on wearing just the left lens because it was more comfortable that way, and last year, through some quirk of the aging process, discovered that I no longer needed them at all. So at an age when other folks (hi K!) are acquiesing to bifocals, I am at long last, correction free. This pleases me no end.

That's that. I am not tagging anyone, because I am acutely shy and anyone I know well enough to tag has already done it.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I am, by nature, a bit of a non-conformist. In knitting terms, this means that I have an active (though often subconscious) reluctance to knit the patterns that take blogland by storm, the ones "every" knitblogger knits. This, regardless of how lovely, how ingeniously constructed the pattern - it's not a condemnation of the design, just a innate tempermental avoidance of crowds. It took enormous last-minute gifting pressure to get Fetching on my needles (and for the record - I loved the pattern and plan to make more.)

So it was with the Clapotis. As much as I admire Kate Gilbert, I just couldn't bring myself to conform to that degree. Also, most of the ones I was seeing were done in bright variegated yarns, which are not my cup of tea. Plenty of other nice wraps out there, I thought. Then I saw Caro's scarf version in Noro Silk Garden and was instantly, hopelessly, besotted, and when Ram Wools had their amazing anniversary sale the other day, a couple of skeins fell into the shopping cart.I ought to be finishing up the WIP's currently on the go, but I need a little break from grey stockinette: Plus, I woke up in a cold sweat the other night, remembering that Caro said two skeins weren't quite long enough. I then proceeded to spend the wee hours wondering how long that dye lot will still be available, and reminding myself that ordering a single skein at full price plus shipping would negate all the savings that justified the original purchase, at last coming to the realization that I must knit up the two skeins I have Right Now so as to find out for myself before it is too late.
This is also my first Noro adventure. So far, so good - hopefully the rumors of quality improvement are true, because I am in Love with this yarn.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Ski

I am not naturally tempermentally inclined toward downhill skiing. I adore the mountains - give me miles and miles of trail, a water bottle, and a good pair of runners and I'm in heaven, but this business of falling down a steep hill in semi-controlled fashion runs absolutely counter to my nature. Nevertheless, one can't live in Whistler without skiing, so I have persisted (or rather, Rob has persisted in shoving me out the door.) I am therefore happy to report that for the first time this season, I felt a sense of genuine joy and anticipation on the ride up that almost entirely obliterated the customary anxiety.

It would be difficult not to be happy up here - the temperatures are mild, thanks to an inversion, the sweet smell of pine is in the air, snow conditions are marvelous, and the sun is blessedly brilliant.
Perhaps this is what all the fuss is about.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Top of the Matter

It has been warm and misty here in the valley this week. It's the kind of air that hugs your shoulders like a lace stole, settles sweetly on the tongue with every breath. Snowy things also settle in this unusually warm weather:In these short winter days, the close dim light can become oppressive though, and one gets the urge to rise above it all.
A quick trip to the top puts things back in perspective and we are fortunate enough to be able to ski the 1200 m (4000 ft) drop straight back to our door (arrow):

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Functional Swatching

Thanks to all who left such lovely compliments on the sleeve shaping. Really, it's a natural extension of the circularly knit, custom fit sweater approaches developed by the likes of Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker, and I'm not at all sure that it hasn't already been done (what hasn't?), but thus far I've only seen it hinted at in the descriptions of patterns for sale. I really ought not to wax too poetic about its qualities until I have a finished garment to wear and wiggle in, but what excites me most is the possibility to fine tune and personalize the fullness of a sleeve cap for any given armscye - because this method matches row for row, there is no agonizing over ease along the seamline. It may, however, take me several sweaters to find my absolute ideal fit.

On the evenings when my brain gets too fuddled for math (sick kids, lack of sleep), I've been entertaining myself with the Dulaan sweater:
I'm keeping this one dead simple - straight sides, dropped sleeves. I am steeking the armholes, but when I write up the pattern, I will include the option of flat knitting the upper portion of the sweater. This little pullover is a great blank canvas for experimenting and playing - the stranded knitting is necessary for warmth and wind resistance, but the actual patterns can be as simple or complex as your heart desires. I opted for two colours, because I am sick to death of weaving in ends, but you could easily work in different colours or even yarns, as long as they were wool and of similar gauge. Think functional swatch.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Set-In Top-Down Short-Rowed Bell Curved Sleeve Cap

Or SITDSRBCSC for short. It worked!

Exhibit A: the shape of the short-rowed sleeve cap as set out in EZ's The Opinionated Knitter.
I used this method for my Love the Yarn You're With sweater, and it did produce a very tidy and shapely sleeve cap, but for a close fit on my big boned shoulders, it was a little tight. Also, EZ's method starts with an inch or so of plain knitting around the full circumference of the arm, and I wanted to develop a method that would start the short rows immediately after picking up stitches, so as to ultimately be able to match sleeve and body patterns in an invisible row-for-row manner.
So I set about to reverse engineer a sleeve cap shaped like this:
It really wasn't that difficult, though it took the better part of a day of writing out the numbers in columns to get a visual grasp of the concept. The general idea is to consume one body row (stitch) for each sleeve row, while simultaneously expanding the sleeve at a varying rate of increase.

Here's the sweater with the first completed sleeve cap:
The full on view of the cap:
Leaning the decreases toward the body produces a tidy, almost invisible join:
I had a small crisis of confidence when I tried it on, because there appears to be just a titch too much ease in the sleeve cap. However, when I tried on the first sleeve cap method, it initially seemed just right, and then after finishing up both sleeves and snugging in the neck opening with ribbing it wound up a bit tight, so I have high hopes that this will in fact, be just right in the end.

Monday, January 22, 2007


It's snowing hard again today - though hard is hardly the word for it - enormous toonie-sized flakes twirl down to smooth and soften all over again the tracks of boots and plows. The igloo we built yesterday will soon be a deliciously secret cave under a swooping curve of snowdrift.
The close, gray clouds and soft snow absorb sound and light, making for a slow, pensive sort of day. Thoughts half-formed for weeks have space to take shape - like this:

Since leaving the Other profession, my senses are heightened, and I can see my children in ways that were previously obscured by anxiety and busyness and struggle. I look directly in their eyes, and watch the exquisite passage of delight, curiosity, opposition, comprehension - and they see that I see. I smell their hair, trace the curve of little necks bent intently over projects, linger over extra-tight hugs and the perfect fit of a small head under the hollow of my clavicle at storytime. There were many days Before when I would feel frighteningly disconnected, as though a dark veil hung between me and my family. The veil is gone now, and though I still do not fully understand who and what I am, I know with certainty that this is better.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Goofing Off

There was no shortage of things to do this morning, the most urgent being to polish up this,in time for today's submission (fortunately, I can hand-carry it.)

There's reams of computer work I should be doing, a house which is in dire need of organizing, and a sadly neglected coil of fine silver casting longing glances at a pair of size 00 needles. Even the poor Dulaan sweater is merely inching along:

Instead, I went skiing.

Because really, what is the point of living here, if you're too busy to ski? Also the twenty pounds that have attached themselves to my waistline over the last year are not going to melt away by the power of wishful thinking. (Believe me, I have tested this method extensively and feel I may speak with authority on this point.) The conditions were fabulous, the crowds were minimal, being early on a weekday, and I feel so much better. Now back to work!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Work work work

I spent a goodly portion of yesterday turning a corner of my living room into a photo studio, so as to create a series of 8x10 glossies of my work. (Amazingly, the printer did not run out of ink, jam, or otherwise thwart this effort.) The portfolio gets turned in Friday, and then we see what happens. (You'll be the first to know if something happens.)

As a result, I didn't get much knitting done, so here's a wee bit of crochet from the other day:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I'm beginning to see a pattern to this business of creative entrepreneurship. There seem to be flurries of intense activity engendered by pop-up opportunities, followed by lulls during which one thinks all those long overdue daily life and paperwork things can now get done because it is going to be months until the next big push, and suddenly another opportunity comes flying in the window and the deadline is Three Days Away and everything goes on hold again. Not that I'm complaining! Opportunity is a very very good thing, with spin-off benefits like food and clothing. It just makes things feel perpetually scattered.

I have still managed time for some walking:

With the cold temperatures over the last week, Fitzsimmons Creek has begun to bloom with ice, and the effect is simply mesmerizing.

I have also managed to accomplish my daily knitting increments:


More swatching in Lopi:

I know, it's a bit skinny for a legitimate swatch - I wanted to play around with gradually contracting and expanding a cable as a shaping device, and I think the effect is quite satisfactory. This particular cable is a bit unusual - you place all the cable stitches on a dpn, rotate it 180 degrees and knit them off. The purl side is hidden in the twist and it makes for a nice little 3-D effect.