Knit by Night

Friday, January 27, 2006

*eyes bug out of head*

Saint John. Is getting. A proper yarn store.

A small store, really, tucked away in City Market, but a real, honest-to-goodness yarn shop, setting up in this dingy little city. They'll be setting up a knitting cafe, too, which I plan to coordinate my work shifts around. They specialize in natural fibres, and had tons of things I'd only previously heard about, but never seen. Debbie Bliss knitting books. kits for thrummed mittens and socks. Mango Moon recycled sari silk. 100% cashmere yarn. Hand-dyed roving to spin (oh, if only I knew how!).

The woman who runs the place also says they sometimes have qiviut. We joked about how you could send kids to college on the money it'd take to make a qiviut sweater.

After walking away from that place (empty-handed, I may add, because due to unforeseen circumstances, I'm in a bigger money-predicament than ever), I felt as though spring had come early. Here was a place where I can go with my knitting to talk about knitting to other knitters. People who also had a weakness for things that weren't neccesarily acrylic or novelty in nature. (Not that there's anything specifically wrong with those things. I'd just like to branch out a little from Bernat and Patons, that's all.)

I think I'm going to like that store. The woman said the rent there is expensive, but heck, those yarns were expensive! If they start selling, they ought to cover the rent on a tiny corner of the Market.

I hope. Finally, this city is getting some cool things. First the tea shop. Then the Japanese restaurant. Then the little place out at the mall that sells Oriental toys and novelty stuff. Now this. It's like the city I've lived in for so many years is finally making a step towards being called home.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wool Fondlers?

Wool Fondlers! O_O

Damn shame that the days it takes place are all the days I'm working. Of course, I do get paid tomorrow, and I am going uptown early, so I might be able to grab something nice, if there's any happy fibre left for poor old me. (Doubtful that I can aford it, though, since I only get paid $600 tomorrow, and at least $550 of that needs to go to people to pay of various debts.)

This had better start being a monthly occurance, lemme tell ya! Saint John needs a bigger knitting community. It seems quite a few people do it here at work, but they seem to get a little shy and embarassed when people call attention to it. Shyness should not be a part of the knitting world, I tells ya! I knit in public and I'm proud of it!

Maybe this'll start a wooly revolution. I can but hope.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Credit where credit is due.

I mentioned to my mother a little while ago that I wanted to start knitting socks. Not exactly a big monumental thing, here, but when I knit a pair of socks, it will be my first pair of socks. It's a milestone. A turning point. It's one of those things that's fun and useful and throws me into the ranks of thousands of other knitter's who've also knit socks.

My mother mentioned this to my aunt. My aunt apparently replied that she's not sure I'm ready for socks, because I've been knitting for only a year, and knitting socks means using four needles.

Um, a little credit, please. I can knit some lace patterns with little dificulty. The only reason I haven't attemtped a sweater yet is because I can't aford that much yarn at the moment. Knitting a sock on four needles is not going to destroy me.

The hardest part of a sock is the heel. The heel is only one fraction of the whole sock. I think I can handle it.

The part that bugs me the most is that she doesn't think I'm ready because I've only been knitting for a year. As if time is the ultimate measure of talent. When last she spoke to me, she recommended I knit a whole bunch of squares to turn them into a blanket. Which I am doing. Y'know, when I have little better to do. In between other projects. When I'm bored. Small garter-stitch squares are only a tiny part of my knitting life, here. But she seems to think that's all I can do. Row after row of knit-stitch.

It doesn't help that there's a literal ocean between us. I can tell her what I've done, but she may not believe me.

Maybe once she hears tell of the gift my mother's going to get for her birthday (a Branching Out scarf), she'll change her tune.

Now, yes, there are plenty of projects I haven't tackled yet. I have yet to knit a hat. This is because I don't have the right needles for it yet (and most of my money is going to pay of debt and the like). Same thing with mittens and gloves. No sweaters (yarn issues). No pants (not exactly a common request, but I said I'd knit Rachel some long-johns at some point, and dammit, I will!). But these aren't for lack of talent, I assure you. I can knit. I can purl. I can increase and decrease. I realised how to do short rows before I knew what their name was. I can follow patterns easily enough. I've seen and heard enough cautionary tales of common mistakes to know what to look out for. I'm honestly, right now, only hampered by a lack of materials.

Haven't been knitting long enough to know how to do socks. Pffft. I have all the prerequisite skills. I just need the set of dpns, and the right weight yarn, and a pattern. And then I'll be raring to go!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Work post!

I feel like I've been neglecting this blog lately. I don't post in it as much as I used to. I'm a bad bad blogger.

Yeah.

Anyhoo, I've been making tiny bits of progress of my woolen shawl. Not the Snow Queen shawl, because I realised that I bought the wrong sized needles for it. Boo. So I've just been knitting row after row of scratchy cheap worsted weight wool instead. On my crappy curly circulars (which someone gave me some advice on how to straighten a bit!). This thing's for warmth rather than show, and will help a lot on cold nights.

Of course, by the time I get it done, it'll probably be after the cold nights have gone away, and I'll just have to put it aside for next winter. But at least I'll be prepared.

I'm thinking of felting it, too. I've never felted anything before (though I do know how to do it), and I figure my first try may as well be on something that's not too special to me. And since things shrink a fair bit during felting, I'm going to have to knit it bigger than I want. Not that I'm worried about the yarn running out. I have hundreds and hundreds of yards of that wool, sitting in a plastic bag at home. Once the shawl is done, I'll still have a load of it left over for dying experiments.

I'm bringing more of my yarn to work now, too. I've been knitting bits of the Branching Out scarf sometimes. Today, however, I brought that nice silk/angora sweater to unravel. Pulling out a sweater and wrapping the yarn around my knitting needles to hold it in a cocoon-shaped 'ball' until I can get it home and make it into a skein.

It's nice yarn, too. Two strands held together, one thin and smooth, and the other one a teensy bit thicker and kinda lumpy. Lace weight, by the looks of it, and I'm having absolutely no trouble unravelling it. It hasn't split yet. Huzzah!

Well, back to work!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Huzzah!

I bought a sweater a while back, with the intent of unravelling it for yarn. The sweater was a beautiful thing, in shades of turquoise and black, and made from a silk/angora blend. It cost me about $3. Now, because the sweater's a thin one, I was told it might be difficult to unravel, since thin yarns can split and tear easily.

This thing unravels like a dream. I've had no trouble with it. The yarn's a tough bugger, and stands up to a bit of abuse. The yarn turns out to be two strands twined together, and each strand seems to be lace weight.

So, once the sweater's done being unravelled, I'll have some beautiful lace weight silk/angora yarn, in turquoise and black. This makes me very very happy.

Of course, at the moment, I have no ball winder, or anything of the sort. I wound up other stuff by wrapping it around chair legs, but the chair in the bedroom is currently being used to hold up other stuff right now, and so can't be used. As a cheap substitute, I just started wrapping and twirling the yarn around a spare knitting needle. It works well enough, though my hands get sore after a while, twirling the needle and making sure the yarn stays pretty much even on both halves of the rapidly growing ball.

I have no idea what I'm going to make from it, though. There's not enough of one colour to make anything really big. I'm thinking I may make a few nicely-patterned scarves, though. I've no need for them myself, but I'm sure there are people out there who wouldn't mind a nice silk/angora scarf to wrap around their necks.

Or maybe I'll just try and sell the yarn on eBay. Who knows?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Is it wrong of me to be planning for next Christmas/Yule's presents already? I mean, it's only frigging January! Less than half way through it, even!

However, I do have some ambitious projects that I want to try. Ambitious for me, anyway. Given that I've never made a sweater before, having two on the list is pretty high up there. (New knitters . . . Aren't they just so cute?)

I have a plan for Rachel's sweater, at least. She's a big fan of green, and I'm a fan of wanting to try out cables for the first time. This results in (wait for it . . . wait for it . . . ) a green sweater with cables! Yeah. Not the most original suggestion, I'll grant you, but it's still a big project for me, really. And while I don't yet have a pattern for it, I do have plenty of time to look. I'm likely to base it off a cirruent sweater that she has, which is, and I quote, her 'favourite sweater'.

For Dawn, I had flicked through a bunch of old knitting patterns from way back when (read: 70s and 80s) and come across a really nice white one, with a couple of pale blue snowflakes on it. I thought it would look really nice on her, and made up my mind right then that I'd make it for her at some point.

I already have plans to make Robert some thick heavy socks. The ones that I couldn't make for him last year, but now have enough time to learn to make this year.

I'd also like to knit Rachel the DNA scarf at some point, too, since she's such a biology geek that I know she'll love it.

I'd love to knit Evan some funky-coloured socks. Maybe those Jaywalker socks that everyone's going on about.

So that's quite a few ambitious projects for the year. And really, on the whole, they're not that big a deal. Just things I haven't tried yet. But if I stick to scarves and lace patterns for the rest of my life, I'll never get anywhere. (Well, I will, but I won't get very far.) I need to branch out a little more. Learn more things. Make more things. Pick up my knitting needles and just go with it!

I've got a few other ideas on the burner, too, though not as gift ideas. These things are more for myself than for anyone else. For example, I've still got to get back to knitting Branching Out. I love that pattern, and it seems popular and simple. I started it once, but things went wonky, and I had to stop. (It was also at that point that I learned that when working with lace, losing a stitch somewhere along the row does not mean that it's fine and dandy to just make up for it at the end with another YO. *headdesk*)

I'd love to find a better set of circulars (I'm thinking of that set of Boye needles that I saw at Michael's a while back) and make a shawl. Not one for form, but more for function. I was thinking of using that off-white wool that I'm unravelling from a sweater. It's scratchy wool, and I wouldn't use it for anything but those oversocks for Robert, but to use it all up, I'd be making about 15 pairs of socks for him! All white ones. With no variation. Not that he'd mind, I think, but making a shawl out of the wool might be nice too. So I thought that a simple garter-stitch wool shawl might be nice. Good for keeping out the cold, using up extra scratchy wool, and for putting myself in that relaxed state of mind that only seems to come with row after row of garter stitch.

As it is, having none of the materials to make any of these projects, for now I'm stuck with those damned blanket squares. *chuckles*

Well, I could use the pale green cotton that Agnes sent me, to make the Branching Out scarf. Good portable project for work, too, if the calls remain as dead as they have lately. And I think there'd be enough cotton to make the scarf a decent length, too. The right needles for it are free, too, so that's a bonus.

You know, I think I'll go for it. I've wanted to knit it for a while, and no better time like the present. It's no exactly a warming sarf, either, so working on it as I'm coming out of winter (though granted, there are still two months of cold weather to go, at least) is a good idea. It'll be a nice accessory come springtime.

. . . Only since I got into knitting did I start giving a crap about accessories, and the right time of year to wear things.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Circulars = booo~!

Okay, now maybe I just happened to get a really crappy pair of circulars (or is it just one circular?), but the damn thing sucks! The needles are beautifully metal, which is nice, and the join seems good, but the damn part that makes it circular is bound and frigging determined to not straighten out. As a result, I have to fight against it when I'm knitting. Which means it traps yarn around itself when it tries to coil back into its original packaged shape. Which means I got incredibly frustrated with it last night, threw it down, and stomped back upstairs to get my other needles, on which plain old boring blanklet squares were still being knit.

If there's anything that calms me down, it's knitting rows 20 stitches long, or just plain old garter stitch. It's mind-numbing and soothing. Like Novocaine. Works wonders when I'm pissy, because I know that I'll never be too inept to just make simple knit sticthes over and over again.

Now I have to decide if I want to try and straighten out the circulars somehow (god only knows how, really), keep wrestling them into submission and thus getting nowhere on my Snow Queen shawl but yet producing pile after pile of blanket squares, or return them and try to find a better brand.

Option 3 is seeming pretty good right about now.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I'm scary when I have money.

I decided to go out today and pick up a pair of circular needles. My first circulars. *smiffle* Now I can start my Snow Queen shawl. Which isn't going to be very elaborate, really. No real pretty lacey pattern or anything. Just a simple practice shawl made from something that looks pretty and feels soft. What better to practice with?

While I was in my local bookstore, planning to pick up a copy of KnitLit (which I've been eying for weeks now), I happened to see Yarn Harlot: The Secret Life of a Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. How could I resist picking this up?

Well, the answer is that I couldn't. I walked out of that store $20 poorer, but much happier, since I love her writing style, and read her blog as frequently as she writes in it.

Walked through the mall towards the busstop, I had to restrain myself (almost painfully, I might add) from walking into Zellers and buying more yarn. "I have enough yarn," I told myself.

"There's no such thing," I answered back.

And I must admit, I find myself right. The problem is that, in the limited space of the bedroom I share with Rachel, I'm running out of places to store my yarn. And, I thought silently, I still do have a couple of sweaters to unravel, which will increase my stash by a good amount. I don't need to go and spend more money on yarn.

"But oh," I countered as I found myself standing in the yarn section anway, against my better judgement, "this yarn will make a great scarf for Rachel! Look at those beautiful greens. She'll love it!"

. . . I think I only wrestled myself away from the store by promising to ask Rachel if she'd like a new scarf before just arbitrarily knitting her something she may never wear.

Damn the siren call of yarn! *shakes a fist*

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Yarn Whoring.

Yeah, I was a yarn slut today. I fought my way through a crowd of old people, who were surrounding the bin full of yarn, in order to grab another 7 balls. Another ball of the white shimmery stuff I mentioned yesterday. 3 balls of black sportweight, and 3 balls of chunky yarn that is of a colour somewhere between magenta and maroon. Quite nice. Damned if I know what I'm going to turn it into, but really, for $1 a ball, for a decent brand (Lion Brand), I wasn't going to pass it up.

I'm going to have to exercise a lot of self control to not go back down there on my lunch break to snatch up all the leftovers, too. :p

I think I'm going to turn the shimmery white yarn into a simple shawl. It'll look nice, I imagine. I also imagine that it'd be a great piece of a Snow Queen costume. :p Y'know, if I ever decide to dress up as a Snow Queen. Either way, it'll be nice and fun to knit up. Just as soon as I get a set of circulars, I'll start on it. I'm already getting tired of knitting blanket square after blanket square.

It's annoying to have yarn sitting next to me here at work, and me not being able to do anything with it. *frown* Once again, I demonstrated no foresight. I should have brought needles. At least I could have started knitting another simple scarf or something. I don't really need another scarf, but they sure are fun to knit. Keeps my hands busy, and when my hands are busy with simple knitting, my brain settles down for a comfy cozy nap. Even brains need naps sometimes.

Hmmm . . . maybe the magentaroon yarn would turn into a nice hat. It have a hat at home, but it doesn't cover my ears, which get cold really easily, and in turn give me a headache. I normally have to tie my scarf around my head to prevent that. If I knit myself a hat with earflaps, or even just a deeper hat than I already have, that'd solve that problem.

Hmmm, project ideas!

(I also alerted my toaster-cozy-wanting coworker to the yarn sale at Giant Tiger. He says he'll probably go down there on his lunch break to check it out. I need to start looking up a good pattern for this cozy, just in case. :p)

Friday, January 06, 2006

There's no hope for me.

On my lunch break, I went to the Giant Tiger (a discount department store) to get something to eat. My stomach's been finicky these past few days, barely keeping anything down, but I figured it's better to eat something than nothing.

However, I walked into the store and saw a yarn sale. Lion Brand Wool Ease and Kool Wool on sale for 99 cents a ball.

I bought 3 balls of Wool Ease White Frost, a soft and kinda shimmery wool/acrylic/nylon blend. Heck, it was only $3 plus tax. How could I refuse? I may even go back tomorrow before work, to snatch up some more balls!

. . . It's a sad sad day when I choose yarn over food. Or, on the flip side, it's a good day. Food, after all, may have made me sick again. Yarn certainly won't do that. A bag of chips can't keep me amused for hours while I turn it into something I can wear.

The problem is that now (in addition to not having any food) I have yarn sitting in front of me, while the phones at work are still busy and I have no knitting needles. *bites lip in vexation* If I had foreseen the sale, I could have planned ahead and brought a set with me, and just sat knitting a simple shiny scarf or something. But now I have to wait until I get home . . .

I have to find a new place to store my yarn anyway. I'm currently keeping it in numerous grocery bags, what with me not having any6 better place to store it. I'm thinking of putting that all in one big garbage bag, just to save some space. Or at the very least, to keep it all in one space. :p