Where did the Summer Go?!

I can’t believe it is September already and we are in the last weeks of summer, but at the same time… KNITTING SEASON IS UPON US! Knit fast and die warm! I was just reminded of this saying the other day when I saw a tote bag with a skull and cross bones and this quote. It was really fantastic.

What Happend to the Summer-3607

What have I been up to in knitting? Lots and lots of things apparently. I have cast on a few new socks, but this one I haven’t started knitting yet; there is something of a story to it. I saw this colour-way at Nerd Girl Yarns in Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2013. There are ALL sorts of really fantastic colours corresponding to my favourite fandoms, but when we were in Chicago Paul and I really liked watching the show Supernatual. We had eventually grown apart from this TV show, as we tend to binge watch things once the season has ended. Preferably when the next season has started… I have this problem with patience. The colour-way ‘Gank Demons’ was A) an awesome quote from the show and B) in my favourite colours. I had it squirrelled away in my stash for a long time and came across it unexpectedly.

What Happend to the Summer-3606

 

I actually have two stashes, one is upstairs and classified as a ‘perhaps someday I will knit this’ and the other is much smaller and stays on the main floor next to the couch. This is a more immediate stash for things that have projects waiting and just need to be started. It IS a stash of it’s own because it is much larger than a small box next to the couch; trust me, it’s a small shelving unit from Ikea. I had moved all my random sock yarn into the ‘immediate stash’ area and randomly decided to cast this one on the other day. I ended up balling it and casting on, but no knitting. Come think of it, I might take it out and ball it into two separate balls for the sake of matching socks.

What Happend to the Summer-3863

If you receive the Stitch Please Newsletter, you will have seen the newest self-striping colour-way! I am calling it ‘A Study in Blue… and Black’. This colour-way always reminded me of the scarf Sherlock wears in the BBC TV version of Sherlock. The scarf it self isn’t striped, but it is blue… actually come think of it, these socks look nothing like that scarf. No idea why it makes me think of Sherlock, but I do love the books AND the TV show. I should really start doing more fandom colours, I always like to knit fandom colours with a fandom pattern while watching said show. It really instils the geekieness.

What Happend to the Summer-3830Yes that would be preparations for the Kitchener/Waterloo Knitters Fair!

That is all I’ve got for you today! I am going to need to start another bigger project, I am getting way too many socks on the needles at present. I am hoping to do a few rows on my grandmother’s sweater as well, but with show season coming up… who knows?! I would also encourage anyone on twitter to randomly tweet me to guilt me into working on my grandmother’s sweater. I think I just need a good kick in the butt to get moving on it!

Holy Moly, there is Progress

I got so much done this week! It was a long weekend here so I caught up on a lot of things I had been letting fall behind; such as cleaning, meal prep…. Etc. I also got quite a bit of knitting done. I managed to finish a sleeve from my grandmother’s sweater, finished a hat and may or may not have started something new.

Seed Stitch Sleeve

First thing is first! I decided the body was going really slowly and I felt kind of discouraged about the sheer amount of work I had left to do, so I started on the sleeves. I am not going to lie to you. I changed them. The sleeves were also meant to be covered in cables, but most of that work is hidden under the arms and I think it makes the whole sweater look very very busy. I looked at just making a stockinet sleeve, but I thought that would be too plain. A row of seed stitch up the arm fits with the rest of the pattern and is very easy to do.

Seed Stitch Sleeve Two

When I started this sleeve, I was modifying the pattern as I went and I figured that the pattern would have needed me to do a double increase on seven rows. That is an increase of 14 stitches over 47cm of knitting. Kids play right? Actually, because the sweater is an older style, the sleeves are very baggy, so there was actually an increase of 44 stitches over 47cm. When I realized this, I was almost at 47 cm and there was no way to gracefully fit 30 extra stitches into 10cm. I had to rip it back and start again. The second time went much better though! I managed to not mess things up and got the sleeve done this weekend!

Purple Pleasures Hat 1

The hat I started and finished this weekend was from a kit I bought at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2013. I remember grabbing it very last and I’ve been saving it for some strange and unknowable reason. I meant to start it a while ago, but never managed to get it caked up in time. I finally started it Friday night and finished it by Saturday. It is the Simple Pleasures Hat pattern from Purl Soho, a free pattern on Ravelry and the handout that came with this kit. It’s a good thing the pattern is free on Ravelry because I completely lost the pattern that came with the hat itself. I had to look up the yarn on Ravelry and check the patterns that other people had done.

Purple Pleasures Hat 2

The main yarn is 100% Mongolian cashmere. I don’t use cashmere a whole lot so I am not totally sure if this is normal, but the ribbing on the hat is made with the cashmere held double and when I wear it the ribbing grows. It was okay in the beginning but now the hat is slipping down my forehead. It’s not totally unwearable or anything, but I wish I had gone down one more needle size when I was working on the ribbing.
The project I started is something that had been kicking around in my head for a while. I was reading the blog My Sister’s Knitter when Andi said she was working on a mitered square project from left over sock yarn. I had been thinking about doing a blanket with my leftover sock yarns, for a while, but never really got a pattern that suited me. The plain garder stitch ones made me think they would be like knitting a BILLION TINY SWATCHES FOREVER. Which really didn’t appeal to me… Anything that had more of a pattern seemed like something that would require brain power and that is something I am sorely short of these days.

Sock Blanket

When Andi linked to this pattern I had to check it out and it is perfect. Thanks enabler Andi!! I tried out one square of this already and it looks pretty awesome!!
I feel as though I had really productive weekend! I am going to go continue knitting all the things, because, apparently, I am just on a roll.

Chicago VKL Day 1.5

Vogue Knitting Live has officially started!! Whooooooo! Today is technically day two for me because I had one class last night and two today!

Registration opened at 3pm on Thursday and I was there on the dot to get my pass and schedule. Since I am an ‘international’ attendee, VKL does not mail out passes and packages, you have to pick them up when you get there. I got the biggest package there was, which came with Rosemary Drysdale’s book Entrelac 2. I really love entrelac techniques and I am taking the class Beyond Entrelac, so I was very excited by the choice of book. I don’t think I will get the large package again; it comes with 6 three-hour classes, 2 lectures, a Vogue Knitting gift card and the swag book of VKL’s choice. Last year the largest package came with a ticket to the gala, but this year they were extra so I decided not to go. There was also quite a bit of confusion as to what was happening at the gala this year so I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to pay an extra $140 for dinner and swag.

My first class was Thursday at 6pm; Teeny Tiny Toy Knitting with Anna Hrachovec. You have probably seen her books before because they are full of some of the cutest tiny toys you will ever knit. The class last night was centered on one of her more classic toys, the gnome.

Gnome

I am really glad I took this class because I was not totally sure where I stood on the toy knitting and I’ve been trying to win one of her books since last VKL Chicago. I’ve been so shameless as to send Paul out to look for the tiny toys while I was in class. I was hesitant on buying one because I really didn’t know if toy knitting was for me. What if I really didn’t like it?

I am happy to tell you that it is a lot more fun than it looks and totally and completely addictive. The class we had was three hours and I knitted the gnome in two. I was on the fast side of the class and didn’t stick with the pacing everyone else set. There weren’t a huge amount of people in the class so I was able to take my time and listen to the questions other people asked. When I am in class, I don’t always have questions right away, but sometimes, others ask questions I didn’t think about at the time. There is always the opportunity to help out classmates who get stuck as well.

Teeny Tiny Toys

As I said, the class was relatively small, so Anna had no problems getting to everyone who had questions and even stopping by my seat and teaching me how to embroider on the eyes. The class moved at very different speeds, but Anna took it all in stride and managed to get to everyone. I fully expected to sit and wait for the rest of the class to catch up before I moved onto the eyes.

Overall, I gave this class an excellent rating! The teacher was attentive, organized and passionate. Without one of these characteristics, I think a class suffers. Anna knew exactly what she was talking about and was infectiously enthusiastic about teeny tiny toy knitting.

First class of Friday was Rosemary Drysdale’s Beyond Entrelac; this was another class with a small student population. There were only five people on the role call for this class. I really like small class sizes because you get much more individualized attention. I showed up early along with three other participants for this class; before 9am we just talked and helped re-direct lost students to their own class rooms. The room this class was in was a little bit out of the way and the last possible option in that particular hallway. The last member of the class was a little bit late, but because we were such a small class we were able to wait for her before beginning.

Entrelac

The class itself focused on the more unconventional applications of Entrelac knitting. Things that are not the typical square or hat from the brim up. We were supposed to bring two colours of DK weight yarn, which I managed not to pack, luckily Rosemary had anticipated this and brought along extra yarn for the unprepared student. In class we worked on a swatch with different patterns on the middle squares.

The samples in class were very inspiring; there were a lot of different colours, yarns, fibers and stitch patterns. There was a swatch in particular that I am thinking of with beading! I really want to make a beaded entrelac scarf now! I really enjoyed this class and loved Rosemary as a teacher! She was very personable and managed to put up with me for an entire three hours, which is harder than it sounds. I joked the whole time that she was going to forcibly eject me from class for being a problem student. After we started knitting our swatches, I settled down and wasn’t too bad.

Immediately after this class, I headed off to lunch with Paul. We just popped across the street to Vapiano and it was PACKED. The morning classes all end at approximately the same time and there is just enough time to grab lunch and get back. The restaurant across the street would, of course, be totally and completely swamped. It was my fault for not being totally on the ball because we normally jump right out after class and just beat the crowds to lunch, I was pretty slow getting back up to the room and dropping off my stuff.

Vapiano

I managed not to be late to the next class, which was Sweater Boot Camp by Amy Herzog. Ever since I saw VKL New York was hosting Amy, I have been dying to take her class, for New York and Seattle, they sold out in a matter of minutes. I felt extremely lucky to get into two of her classes here, but then I did sign up MINUTES after class registration opened.

Sweater Boot Camp was about all those little mistakes you make while you’re knitting a sweater that lead you astray. Astray is probably not the best word, but it is currently the only one I can think of. The things that make the sweater you’re actually knitting much different from the one you’re imagining in your head. We went over a wide variety of techniques, benefits of one type of fiber vs. another and cautionary tales.

Sweater Boot Camp

This course is a little different from her regular classes about picking the sweater type for your body, but it was really useful nonetheless. Amy is, of course, still a captivating speaker and such a funny person. I love her dry humour and the little quips she uses to emphasize and enhance her classes. I have her Knit to Flatter class tomorrow and I am sooooo looking forward to it!

I think that is going to be all for tonight, I am already tired and tomorrow is my day of three classes. Our flight to Antigua leaves at 5am on Sunday morning, so I think we are just going to stay up Saturday. I am sure my post tomorrow will be quite deluded and incoherent. I am sorry in advance!

Functional Friday: Knit to Flatter

When I went to Vogue Knitting Live NYC I took a lecture from Amy Herzog. I originally wanted to take her class, but they were completely sold out within a day or two of registration opening. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to take her class, but felt relieved that I would be able to see her lecture.

K2F 1

When I went to the knit to flatter lecture I absolutely loved it! Amy Herzog is an amazing public speaker and kept her audience totally engaged the entire time. She frequently used her own body to demonstrate concepts and give examples of good and bad ideas.

In a nutshell, knit to flatter is about knitting garments to flatter your body type. I am not totally sure what I expected when I walked into that lecture, but I took away a great deal of information that applies not only to my knits, but shopping for clothes as well. The entire lecture hall was given specifications about necklines, sleeve lengths, sleeve styles, embellishments, hemlines and so much more; everything working together to create the best garment for your body.

Since I was unsure how much I would actually retain from this excellent lecture, I bought the book. There was actually a time where Herzog was doing book signings, so I strategically went during that hour and managed to get myself a signed copy.

K2F 2

The book itself is an excellent directory for those who are able to work well with written instructions. All the information from the lecture is in it, as well as 21 different sweater patterns that you can customize to your own liking.

One of the best things about this book is you can see the sweaters knit slightly different on different models. What I mean is, one model is quite tall and slim, the garment she is wearing is long and sleeveless, open at the front with lapels. A couple pages later there is a curvier model wearing the same garment, but it has been shortened and has three quarter length sleeves. The same garment just knit slightly differently. It looks great on both of them, but it is the exact same pattern.

K2F 3

I think Amy Herzog and her merry band of knitters are really onto something here and I would suggest getting yourself a pattern. You can take your own measurements and go through her website, or you can see if any LYS in your area are offering the knit to flatter service. In Toronto, I know the Purple Purl offers knit to flatter. I do have the book, but if I get an opportunity to go to one of her classes, I’ll be all over it!

Technical Tuesday: Explosive…

Happy April Fools! I dread what I will find when I make it into the office today, I am sure there will be ample amounts of startling situations. The best pranks are always prepared for a couple days in advance though; you really need to gather your materials or start faking morning sickness the week before. This is why I am going to talk about yarn bombing. Not only is it a great joke, it’s an amazing stashbuster!

VKL Yarn

Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, Kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber rather than paint or chalk.

From my research I can trace the history back to Bill Davenport. A Houston-based artist, who created and exhibited crochet-covered objects in the 1990s. He stated that he thought of yarn like ‘ultra-thick paint.’ The Houston Press said “Bill Davenport could be called the grand old man of Houston crocheted sculpture.”

Toast

By Nicole Gastonguay, photo taken at Vogue Knitting Live NYC

Something about the crocheted objects caught because it wasn’t long before artist Shanon Schollian was knitting stump cozies in 2002 for clear cuts in Oregon. The Knit Knot Tree by the Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio gained international attention in 2008.

The movement moved on from knit covered objects with the innovation of the ‘stitched story’. The concept has been attributed to Lauren O’Farrell, who creates her street art under the graffiti knitting name Deadly Knitshade, from London, UK. She founded the first graffiti knitting collective Knit the City. The ‘stitched story concept’ uses handmade amigurumi creatures, characters and items to tell a narrative or show a theme. This was first recorded with the Knit the City collective’s “Web of Woe” installation in August 2009.

For those who went to any of the Vogue Knitting Live events, Anna Hrachovec has had a display with very small amigurumi at New York and Chicago. I am sure there was one at the event in Seattle too. Any of her books would be a great resource for tiny knitted creatures to assist you in yarn bombing. The link below is to the Vogue Knitting Live Flickr photo stream.

IMG_6725

There are several different methodologies you can use and I will go over the two well-known ones in detail. First on the list is the TP technique. You know in movies, TV shows and high school, there is always talk about TP-ing the principal’s house. Originally toilet paper is used, hence the TP, but you can also use yarn! Simply pick your target; car, house, tree, potted plant, filing system and throw loose yarn over it. For bigger objects, see abovementioned tree, car and house, you will want to hold one end and throw the ball. As it unravels in the air, the end will stay anchored in your grip. This will cause a silly string effect and there will be yarn everywhere. You may wish to use several different colours in order to complete the look of chaos.

For smaller items, such as potted plant, coffee cup, telephone, you may wish to unravel the ball over top of said items. If you truly wish to be a pain in the neck to the yarn bombee, you may wish to use several lengths of yarn and tie the beginning of the yarn to the end after weaving the strands through any open spaces. Think the spokes of a bike; those would need to be trimmed off.

The second technique I will evaluate is the couture technique.  This is much more subtle and much MUCH more work. You would probably have to spend a couple months preparing for this one. You would actually knit things and strategically place them. I’ve seen EXCELLENT examples of this around different yarn festivals and squams.

Burger and Fries

By Nicole Gastonguay, photo taken at Vogue Knitting Live NYC

I’ve considered replacing all the equipment on someone’s desk at work with small knitted figures of computer, telephone, coffee cup, etc. But that is a lot more work than I am prepared to do at the moment.

If there are some who would like a more structured approach to their yarn bombing, you can check out this book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Author Leanne Prain goes into detail about stealth, creating your own graffiti tags and how to organize large scale textile events.

Now I will say, yarn bombing is considered graffiti and is technically still illegal in some places, although it is not vigorously enforced. So I caution all to be circumspect in your plans!!