Caught the Bug

Admittedly, I’ve been off knitting lately. I’ve had zero desire to pick up the needles in the last few months, and even less to cast on for something new. No longer were skeins of soft merino calling out to me. I don’t know what it was, but my brain had checked out of knitting.

Until last week that is. Frankly I’m not sure what happened. I logged on to Ravelry for the first time in months and was immediately hooked. Within the first 5 minutes I had found a pattern the I HAD TO KNIT. My reaction was not, ‘hmm, that looks nice. Let’s queue it up’. No, no. This was an urgent need. That pattern had to be mine. There would be no waiting around.

Sure enough, before I turned in for the night I had the beginnings of the project on my needles.

What was the pattern that had me so enamoured? None other than Viajante. That’s right, a plain stockinette pattern. Me. Interested in that? There’s hardly a YO or cable to be found. Sure, there’s a bit of lace at the end, but that’s assuming I’ll make it that far without caving into the monotony.

Something has changed. Yes I’ve caught the knitting bug, but it’s a whole new entity. Before my hiatus, I used knitting as a way to occupy and challenge myself. Give me a project with cables or mind-numbing lace and I was all over it.

Now, I’m seeking out simplicity in my projects. I feel pretty fulfilled in my current pursuits (riding, running, anything that starts with an ‘r’ apparently), which means that knitting doesn’t have to serve as entertainment as well. Instead, I want it to soothe. I need it to be something I can come home and relax to. Something that takes little brain power, and for that, I couldn’t have found a better pattern.

Early progress on my Viajante

No matter how long you stay away, knitting will always welcome you back, in whatever capacity you can handle at the moment.

Advertisements

Randomly

A collection of knitterly things that I want to do (relatively soon).

1. Take better pictures of my finished socks, preferably on sock blockers.

2. Double knit a pair of socks i.e. two at a time, one inside the other. It’s a little bit of knitting magic! This Knitty article has a great explanation of the process.

3. Knit My Heaven shawl.

4. Attend a fibre festival. (Check! I’ll be heading to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair this weekend).

5. Spin my own yarn. Now that the weather should be cooling down, I’ll be more inclined to pick up some fibre. Clammy hands don’t lend well to spinning.

6. Try Cat Borhdi’s Sweet Tomato Heel

Number 1

Since I’ve now become a Yarn Club aficionado, I thought I’d share my latest yarn club find. Thanks to the internet and Ravelry, there are endless options to choose from when it comes to picking a yarn club. Some clubs focus on colour, others focus on the pattern; some clubs distribute a variety of yarn weights, while others will only use one, like lace or sock yarn clubs. So far, the most interesting club I’ve come across is the Art Walk Sock Club by Zen Yarn Garden. My art history background may make me a bit biased, but hear me out.

Every month the dyer chooses a work of art and then dyes yarn to capture the colours in the piece. It’s really quite amazing. Some of the yarns are spot on.

Jackson Pollock’s Number 1 was this month’s art work.

Which was interpreted into this yarn:

So far, it’s been turned into this:

I always find it a challenge to match variegated yarn to a pattern, but I this one does a good job of breaking up the colour, and while ensuring the pattern stands out.

Commuting in Style

Since starting the commute to work, I noticed that my purse had very little real-estate for knitting projects once I’d packed in my wallet, phone and a mini-umbrella (because you just never know). As a result, I rarely took any subway knitting. There just wasn’t room. That was fun for a while, but I soon found myself wanting something to occupy my hands during my commute. Knitting-bag hunting soon commenced.

I’ve had my eye on Jordana Paige‘s L.J.Kaelms bag for a while now. It’s the perfect combination of style and functionality; there’s room for your work/day-to-day items, and -most importantly- room for your knitting projects. Despite thinking it to be the perfect fit, I hesitated ordering it online for a few reasons.

1) Colour. The two colours offered, red and green, didn’t really excite me. They’re not exactly a ‘neutral’ that will go with anything. Not only that,  images online showed the colours slightly differently; different enough that I wasn’t exactly sure of their shade. I was leaning toward the red, but perhaps not if it was too bright.

2) Size. While the website does a fairly good job of showing the bag’s scale, it’s just not the same as slinging it over your own shoulder to see if the fit is right.

I himmed and hawwed, fairly certain this was what I needed wanted, but I just couldn’t commit. (Exorbitant shipping costs put the brakes on my impulse purchase pretty fast).

To my delight, one of the LYS carried the bags. However, they had just placed an order and wouldn’t be in for a few weeks.  After much anticipation, the bags finally arrived today. I scooted over after work to check them out. (By this time I had pretty much made up my mind that my next knitting project would be travelling with me in a shiny new red bag).

The bag is exactly what I hoped for. The colour is more muted than the website images, and – possibly the best part- it’s extremely light! The downside of having a large tote is it quickly gets heavy from all the stuff you can load in there. I’m hoping that by at least starting off very light, it won’t get heavy quite as fast (I said hoping…).

The bag is divided into two sections divided by a zippered pocket in the middle and is  tall enough to fit a magazine or pattern.  One section has two pouches on the side for holding a ball of yarn, complete with eyelets about them to keep the yarn in place while you’re knitting. There are also pockets for DPNs and a removable little pouch.

The other section is all business; there is are card holders, a zippered pocket and a handy snap for holding your keys. (We’ve all searched frantically at the bottom of our purses for our keys; it’s usually raining out when this takes place).  Of course, you could always use this side for more knitting!

As for the middle section, I can’t speak from experience, but I hear it fits an iPad quite nicely.

 

FO: Westport Shawl

I’ve finished my first project since starting work. Looks like knitting and being a productive member of society can co-exist! I was having some trouble finding a balance between the two at first, but now I’ve settled into a nice routine.

Pattern: Westport Shawl by Sarah Wilson
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multy

I only did 14 repeats (2 less than recommended) for the middle section, mostly because I was anxious to finish. It turned out to be the perfect size.

Here are some photos.

Blocked Lace Edge

Image
Button Stitch Detail

Image
Lace Edging

Starstruck

Last week I had an experience I imagine other people have when they see a famous [insert profession of choice here].  I  saw the Yarn Harlot  give a talk at the Downtown Knitters Guild in Toronto, and I was utterly starstruck! I even got a chance to kinnear her!

It’s a word, check it out.

Truthfully, I almost didn’t go to the talk. I was worried that seeing her in person would destroy the characterization of her I’d created. I was worried I would discover she had some strange voice, or some other weird quirk that I would never be able to detach from my idea of her. In short, I worried that seeing the real her wouldn’t live up to the characterization I had developed from religiously reading her blog, books and anything else she’s produced.

Not going would have been a huge mistake. She turned out to be even better than I expected. She was more down-to-earth than I could have imagined. And my god, FUNNY! Now as a regular reader, I know she’s funny, that’s part of the reason I like her so much. I just didn’t expect her to be that funny all the time. It was like watching a knitting themed stand-up show. I was in stitches (pardon the pun) throughout her talk.

The talk was about how knitting affects the brain. At first it seemed like it was just going to be a rehashing of an essay from her latest book. Nope, it was just the set up for a detailed, well researched and insightful talk that got into the nitty-gritty of brain function (water-down for us non-neurosurgeon types).

Some of my favourite topics were her discussion of trauma and video games. She discussed a Cambridge study about trauma and how repetitive motor activities (aka knitting) can lessen the impact of witnessing a horrific event. The study’s conclusion was that it was “not practical to carry emergency knitting”. If only they knew. She also presented a strong case, based on Tom Chatfield‘s study of video games, that suggested a video game need only be like knitting to be successful. Listed below are the 7 elements necessary for someone to find a video game really, really compelling according to Chatfield.

  1. Must be able to visualize progress
  2. Multiple long and short term aims
  3. Reward for effort
  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback
  5. Element of uncertainty (gauge anyone?).
  6. Able to do during windows of enhanced attention. (Whenever, wherever).
  7. Must have engagement with others on some level. (If you had doubts about this one: KALs, Ravelry)
Now doesn’t that sound uncannily like knitting?
Overall the talk was hilarious and outrageously funny. I highly recommend going to see her if you ever get the chance. I left the talk refreshed and feeling good about my knitting habit. It’s strengthening my brain you know!

Back in the Groove

This post is long overdue, but there’s been good reason for my absence: new job, new apartment, and finally new project on the needles.

Image

I’m working on the Westport Shawl from the Summer 2012 issue of Knitscene. It’s the perfect blend of straight knitting and lace, just enough to keep me interested while allowing me to do some mindless knitting. I even stepped a bit out of my usual preference for colour. Look at that blend!

Stay tuned!