Knitwit's Rambles

My attempt to actually have a knitting blog, and to update it regularly. We'll see how well that works.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Busy Nothings

Am nearly done my pseudo-Jaywalkers. Or should that be my pseudo-Pine Tree Toe-Ups? Maybe some kind of illegitimate child of the two? (Oh, come on. You know those two would be getting it on.)

Ahem. Um. Anyway. Yes, almost done, just need to do the last bit of ribbing, then make another attempt to figure out that darning-needle ribby bind-off. I tried once before ages ago with a different project, but my brain was having problems translating the pictures to my hands. Will give it a whirl again, though.

I've also finally started knitting on the edging to my sampler lace scarf. It's going well--after a couple false starts trying to add another row of eyelets and some extra stitches to a pre-existing edging, I just cut out the fancy crap and added a couple plain stitches to the pre-existing edging for a border. It's looking quite nice, though when I gave the knitted-on part an experimental lateral tug, there wasn't much stretch there, and I'm not sure how much the entire piece will stretch lengthwise when I block it. It's not bad, though, and I don't think I really have to worry too much about increasing the length to make the lace patterns I used look better. Maybe I'm just pulling the edge stitches too tight.

I'm trying to resist buying yarn as I already have enough for quite a bit of knitting, but part of me also wants to plan a yarn crawl to Toronto soon. For some reason now my brain is debating the colour I chose for the Peacock Feathers Shawl when I was at the DKC Knitters' Frolic and have been checking about maybe picking up some more Jaggerspun Zephyr, but the only places I know of in Toronto that have it are mail-order, so I may just have to bite the bullet (or check out The Yarn Store With The Unhelpful Staff which I have had mixed experiences with). I have also been longing for KPPPM since I was at the Frolic, though hello, I have enough sock yarn already (but it's not Koigu!). Mainly just working out the timing between paycheques, time off work and the oh-God-end-of-the-month bills.

I might be buying some yarn for a specific project soon, though. I'm rather tempted to make Satchel from Knitty, particularly as it looks like it might be good or my trip to New York in August. Room for my wallet/iPod/camera/guidebook, a strap that goes over my chest so it's not falling off my shoulder all the time, and harder for someone to grab...

Of course it has nothing to do with the fact that it kind of looks like this one. Of course not. The fact that it looks like the Jack Bauer Manpurse of Justice has no bearing on it whatsoever. However could you think that? ;-)

Okay, so truthfully it is the functionality that I'm thinking of. The fact that it looks like the Jackpack basically just makes me giggle incessantly.

And speaking of trip and cameras, I'm looking into getting a digital camera, so hopefully soon there will be more actual photos of knitted items on this blog. *crosses fingers* I'm looking at something under $200, probably a 4- or 5-megapixels, preferably with USB hookup instead of a special dock, as well as removeable memory storage. Any suggestions as to manufacturers/models?

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Well I made it through the two convocation ceremonies, and I have to admit I only brought out my knitting once. I'm sorry, but the Acting President's speech was long and boring as hell the first time, sitting through it the second time and not knitting would have been impossible. And at least I didn't fall asleep like some people in our party.

But yes, survived, though it wiped me out and I've been paying for it with sleep deprivation the rest of this week (though that's also because I didn't go to bed early enough some nights...).

Anyway, on the knitting front, well...there has been an astounding lack of progress. I think at this point my brain's saying "Yeah, remember why you don't knit to deadlines? Because it only makes you want to knit less? Oh, and now you have three more projects on the go. Congratulations!" Needless to say, this week I decided to cool it with the Dulaan knitting, considering I've only got about a week before it would have to go out and I think I'll just resolve to stock up on donatable knitted things for next year's Dulaan or Afghans for Afghans, or to donate closer to home. The local hospice has a crafting guild that meets on (I think) every Wednesday, making items to sell, and of course then there's the usual winter-woollie making for Sally Ann, Community Care, etc. It's the usual debate--people around the world need our help, but then there are many here at home too.

One thing I'd like to do in that kind of vein is start a teen knitting group as part of the programming at work. I've yet to discuss it with my boss, but I've been asked a couple times about if I would be interested in doing a knitting thing sometime, and I think I've go enough information to makea good pitch for an afterschool program. There's an afterschool chess club at one of the other branches that's been really popular, and we have a lot of teens coming into the library after school. Mostly to use the internet, but if I can give them maybe the opporunity to do something else...

The way it links into charity knitting is that I was thinking of offering a couple weeks of lessons or a couple weeks before the group starts. That way, people who don't know how to knit can learn before meeting, and of course learning techniques is always a good vehicle to create squares for blankets... Teens with some experience could come to the group meetings and could contribute squares as well, or work on their own projects. I think it would be interesting if we could find a place at the branch to display squares as they were completed, so that the teens--and everyone in the community--could see the blanket grow. When finished, we could maybe display it at the main library for a week or two, so that the kids could feel that they were showing off their accomplishment. I could also encourage them to knit mittens and hats and things.

But then like I said, I still need to approach my boss about this, see what she thinks, as well as whether we have a place in the schedule for it. Here's hoping, though.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Ahahaaa, love you too, Blogger. Dammit, is there no way to change the date of a post?

Anyway, after working on it for about a week, I just published a post, but can't find a way to change the date of it, so can't change it to appear on the day I actually published the post.

ETA: A certain helpful soul commented to point out that you can change the timestamp, by clicking on...the one link I didn't click.


Anyway, on to what I originally wrote...

Not much in knitting news since I started that post. I'm trying to do some knitting for the Dulaan Project, both to contribute something as well as to try and get rid of some of my stash. Really, I need to get rid of some of my stash before I buy any more yarn. As a result, other projects are on hold, though my Dulaan knitting is not helped by the fact that I keep starting to cast on stuff, think "this isn't working" and rip out.

I'll have lots of time to knit on Tuesday though, as my brother and his girlfriend are graduating from the same university, but in separate ceremonies. Meaning, of course, that I get to sit through an entire day of grad ceremonies, joy. I'm glad for them, and I'll willingly do it as I love them both, but it's still going to be dull. Hence, the knitting, so I don't fidget. It got me through the training sessions for the new computer system at work without fidgeting, it'll work here.

It's weird, the fact that knitting helps in that regard. I'm not really a fidgety person, or someone with a short attention span. I've always been a big reader, and I can sit for hours and just read. Maybe it's just that the part of me that would get bored is somehow calmed enough by knitting to not be making itself known, though I often have the urge to knit even when I'm doing something I enjoy, like watching TV. Sometimes it's the calming factor--I had to work on a sock during the 24 season finale because I was far too wound up to just sit, though considering my hands were shaking and I had to rip out pretty much everything I did, despite its being mindless knitting, that probably wasn't the best idea. Usually I can get away with mindless knitting during 24, but um, obviously not the season finale (omgwtfisitJanuaryyet?).

Whatever the reason, I'll arm myself with needles and yarn for a long day of sitting, and try to resist the urge to impale myself on them.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Prodigal Blogger Returns

Agh, it's been more than a month since I posted and I have...well...not much to show for it. Haven't had much luck with projects of late, though that may be because I have way too many. I've been working pretty steadily on a pair of Pine Tree Toe-Up Socks by Kim Salazar, my kind of pseudo-Jaywalkers. The stitch pattern makes the same kind of chevron pattern as the Jaywalkers, but each pattern repeat uses a smaller number of stitches. I decided I might as well, as considering the two sizes in the Jaywalker pattern weren't big enough, I was going to try doing those toe-up anyway as I wasn't sure if I'd have enough yarn to make the cuff as long as directed in the pattern. Besides, I've only tried toe-up socks once before and those didn't work out well--I ended up ripping them back if I remember correctly--and I wanted to try again.

I've kind of fiddled with the pattern a bit though, adding 2-stitch purl welts inbetween each repeat to hopefully give it a little more stretch, and I'm doing a short-row heel instead of...well whatever kind of heel is mentioned in the pattern. A short row heel, is basically symmetrical, and I've done them on top-down socks as well, so why not?

As for other projects, the sampler lace scarf is still on the needles. I finally got around to picking up stitches around its edge, and tried starting to work the edging while watching the BBC's North and South on DVD last week, but out of nowhere I got a monster headache, and in the end I gave up. Too bad, as it's while watching British period dramas that I especially want to knit, particularly anything historically inspired. Which is, well, often.

It probably shouldn't be surprising that as a history and Museum Studies major, I'm particuarly fascinated by the history of knitting and historical patterns. Or, considering the fact that I'm Canadian, and knitting was, for a long time, a particularly essential skill for chldren (male and female) to have. Though I doubt she did a survey, I think there is some truth to Catharine Parr Traill's assertion in her 1855 book The Canadian Settler's Guide that "[t]here is no country where so much knitting-work done as in Canada...", even if I imagine citizens of other northern countries would be inclined to disagree. But that it was an essential skill at the time is true; particularly for those that were moving to the bush, as the Traills were, near Lakefield, Ontario. It can be hard to imagine not being able to but anything as simple as socks or mittens by running to the store when they wore out, or got lost.

Interestingly, she also mentions a kind of limited financial independence knitting could bring for women of the time; she mentions a couple instances of cases where young women were able to fund the stocking of their hope chest by selling things they'd knit, often from yarn they'd spun themselves. Not to mention the general increase of the family's finances by the production of mother, daughters and possibly sons.

I do have to wonder at some of the rosy view she gives (there's very much a tone of "yay, work!" to it, not surprisingly, considering the context), as well as some more modern writer, though. I have to wonder for how many women, knitting wasn't a means to a modicum of independence or a means of creative expression. It was another task, one that was crammed intbetween marshalling children, mending, unending laudry or food preparation. Traill mentions it filling the time "between twilight and candle-light" which, though people of the time would have been used to it, is still awfully dim light to be working by.

I'm sure for a lot of women at the time it was a way to be creaitve and something that was both necessary but that they also enjoyed doing. I also just have to wonder for how many it was a chore. I've met a couple people that learned to knit as a child but gave it up later because it was always something they had to do, not necessarily something they wanted to do, and this would have been as recent as the 1950s.

Maybe that's one of the best parts of this resurgence of knitting, quilting, and other traditional skills. For most of those in the Western world, at least, it's something people do because they want to, not necessarily because the family economy requires it. The people who knit are the ones that want to, and while knitting can be undervalued, the fact that it is a means of creation and expression, not a complete chore, has to be a good thing for the craft.

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