So, ever since her fussy cousin, the groundhog, saw his shadow back in February, Betty Lou the Woodchuck has been impatiently waiting for spring. Coming all the way from Massachusetts up to snowy Ontario didn’t help matters much, I am sad to report. Since her arrival in Toronto last week, Betty Lou has been looking out the window impatiently, waiting for a nice day to go outside and explore her new home.

Finally deciding that it wasn’t going to get much better than today, Betty Lou gave me the nod. She took a deep breath, and we went out into the backyard.

“I guess it’s not so bad up here, near the house” she said cautiously. “I mean, it’s nothing great, but it could be worse. Look over there!”

“Where?” I asked, squinting down the lawn. I’d left my glasses inside, and I was afraid that if I went back in for them, Betty Lou would chicken out altogether. We were all going a bit stir-crazy as it was, and her constant whinging about how much sooner spring came laaaaaaaast year was getting on my nerves a bit.

“Down there,” she gestured impatiently. Exasperated, she hopped down and scampered to the end of the garden.

“See?” she asked triumphantly. “There’s still some bloody snow down here!”

“Oh, don’t be such a n00b,” scoffed Andre from the rhododendrons.

“You’re embarrassing me. She’ll think we have no manners if you carry on like this!”

Betty Lou, abashed, picked her way carefully over to where Andre was, gingerly avoiding the little puddles of snow. “I guess it’s kind of fun,” she ventured, “to be outside in the warm sun and have snow around at the same time.”

“That’s the spirit!” Andre returned wryly, rolling his eyes slightly.

Betty Lou paused, and then, hesitating only a little…

…threw the fingerguns of woodchuck approval!

Andre grinned for real this time. “We’re going to have some good times this summer, Butty Poo! C’mere and let’s get a nice group shot to send to the folks back home. Good times, indeed!”

Although she looked a bit puzzled (I’m not sure she knew whether to try and nip the “Butty Poo” thing in the bud, or just to ignore it and hope it went away on its own), she edged over to the MiniMantis and smiled nicely.

“Say cheese!” I told them, and snapped the picture.

“Hey,” I said, lowering the camera, “Are you guys related, by any chance?”

“As if!” the woodchuck immediately scoffed. “Arthropoda and chordata?? I mean, no offence, Andre, but the idea of a praying mantis and a woodchuck getting it on is just…kind of gross. I mean, maybe things are different in the human world, but it is just not on. At least, not in MY family.” Her disgust was evident.

“Haha, yeah, gross,” echoed Andre a bit lamely…

…but I noticed he wouldn’t look me right in the eye as he said it.

Oh, Andre!

Betty Lou hoofed it back inside shortly after this last picture was taken, but I stayed out a few more minutes. In a happy accident, I came across Kate Gilbert’s very cute short-sleeved pullover pattern Camellia a few days ago, and since I am of course not using the recommended yarn (or even yarn in a similar weight…sometimes I think I am a knitting masochist) I have been happily knitting and re-knitting sleeves as gauge swatches, just to see what I like best.

The smaller ones are a bit cuter, but I think I actually prefer the gargantuan one on the right; it comes down about as far as a girlie tshirt’s sleeves, and flutters tolerably. Like many girls with bigger boobs, I’ve got the arms to match, so the adorable little sleeves in the pattern act a bit more as showcase frames: “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s the ARMFAT!!” Ah well. We’ll see when it comes to the sewing up part which one I like best. If I ever get to it! After three days of casting on and knitting a bit and ripping back and redoing math and squinting, I think I’ve finally cast on a hem I’m happy with (in the round, of course) and am about an inch into the endless stockinette trek to the boobs, where some short-rows should make things (temporarily) a bit more exciting.

I toyed with the idea of changing the neckline a bit, but in the end I think I really quite like it, and will probably leave it as it is. Imagine, me not altering anything substantial in a pattern! Kate Gilbert, you may have bested me…!

Oh, and the yarn? It’s the hundred dollars I spent in Lettuce Yarn during the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Scavenger Hunt last week: Dream In Color Smooshy sock yarn in Blue Lagoon. I’ve got three skeins, which I think will be enough for this project. DiC yarn has FANTASTIC yardage, and is totally worth every cent (imo). The only downside to this yarn (besides how very thin it is, which will be great in a FO but means lots and lots and lots of little teensy titchy little stitches) is that it is making my hands blue. After a couple of hours of knitting with the stuff, my hands look a bit like I’ve been strangling a Smurf! Luckily, rinsing the yarn seems to get rid of most of the excess dye, yet the colour of the rinsed and blocked swatches are just as vivid and breathtaking as it was in the skeins that seduced me at LK (I’d been doing SO SO well up until that point!!)

It’s much more ‘solid’ than the Dusky Aurora, which I appreciate. I am such a sucker for semisolids/varigates in the skein, although I find that I often don’t like them so much when I’m doing the knitting up. This is something I’ve been struggling with for awhile now, and I think the answer is to get more into colourwork. If I am gobsmacked by a sock yarn’s colourway, it would probably be more useful for me to translate that colourway into a group of yarns, and knit something using those colours. Especially since I am slowly coming to the realization that I am not a sock knitter or knitted sock wearer, even though I am an avid coveter/collector of sock yarns! I will have to think about this some more…

If a Toronto-wide Sock Scavenger Hunt and Yarn Harlot book launch can’t break me out of my blogging funk, what can?? What can, indeed.

So, yesterday was April Fools’ Day here in Toronto (and, I imagine, in the rest of the world, tho I have only your word on that, Rest Of World). After a brief period of hesitation (“Do I want to run around Toronto taking pictures of socks and generally being ridiculous?”), I decided to finangle the day off and join a few of my fellow Ravellers downtown for Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book launch and Inexplicable Knitter Behaviour Sock Photo Scavenger Hunt (because I love running around and generally being ridiculous!). Although we didn’t win (or even, to be honest, come close to winning…the first prize winner of the $100 gift certificate got seventysomething points, whereas I think our best team member only got somewhere in the thirties), it was still hella fun. And here are some pictures to prove it!

To start, we have the bonus pic for the GTA Fibrefaces group: The Bemused SO. “You’re spending the day taking pictures of a half-knitted sock with internet strangers?” Note the eyebrow action: it is the essence of bemusity.

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“Heck yes I am! And what’s worse, I’m going to spend all day making stupid faces in pictures. To start, check out mah dollahs! Canadian Tire, yo! East Side represent!” And so on.

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But enough arsing about. Time to get moving! I jumped on the subway at Kennedy where to my surprise and nervous delight, an off-duty TTC driver ambled onto my car! They were worth 2 points, and although I was in the scavenger hunt for the fun and not the prizes, I thought that passing up an opportunity that had fallen into my lap was foolish indeed. So I girded my (shy) loins and went over to explain the (admittedly crazy) concept of the Sock Scavenger Hunt and to ask if he’d hold my sock and pose for a quick picture. Well, you may conclude from the absence of a TTC driver pic in this post that my request was refused, and you’d be right. Apparently, I might be a terrorist if I took a picture, and he might be fired. The first is a bit silly, but the second is fair enough so, blushing a bit, I went back to my seat, plugged in my iPod and waited for Dufferin station.

It’s been cold here for ages (stupid groundhog seeing his stupid shadow grumble etc etc), but despite the wind, it was pretty warm and sunny when I exited the station and hopped on the bus to go south to Queen St and the Visual Arts Ontario Gallery, our meeting spot. In fact, it was so warm that I was a little annoyed; I’d worn my newly-finished Phllyo Yoked Pullover (made from Dream In Colour Classy in ‘Dusky Aurora’), and was starting to get hot! It won’t upload for some (stupid) reason (probably because it’s stupid), but here’s the Rav link to the pictures in my projects. It’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself (and, clearly, I do)!

Anyway, despite the weather, I got down to Queen just fine…but I didn’t go into the gallery right away. See, the VAO was attached to Woolfits, one of my favourite art stores (although, sadly, too far away to visit often). And they might have the articulated wooden artists’ hand model I’ve been searching for over the last few months to make the trophy for our upcoming Rock Paper Scissors trophy! Apparently, these hands have become something of a rarity, at least in Canada (I could order one from the States, but with taxes and shipping and everything, it would be a lot more money and hassle than it was worth, I thought). Cheekily, I ducked into Woolfits and enquired after the long-sought wooden hand…but no. They didn’t have any. Although…the girl behind the counter gave me a wink and dialled the phone. Success! Aboveground Art had one last hand in stock, and would put it aside for me until I could come and get it! Result!

With victory in my step, I entered the VAO Gallery and immediately found my people: they were the ones giggling and snapping pictures (natch)! There weren’t very many of us, but we felt like a big group as we took over the small gallery and bothered the minions. It was okay, though; the boss lady was One Of Us!

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Look at that gorgeous Dream In Colour sweater! It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but a lovely Saxon Braid (the same one I used to make the brim of my dad’s hat) runs all the way around the front edges (and I think it’s hooded, too…hmm, it’s not listed in her projects, so I can’t check, but anyway, it was gorgeous!) Between us, we sparked the Dream In Colour craze amongst our little group, which later culminated in a trip to Lettuce Knit and me spending $100. But that’s for later.

I did mention bothering the minions, no?

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But, of course, it’s all fun and games until somebody learns to knit!

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It’s no easy task to make your first knit stitches on tiny DPNs with dark-coloured sock yarn. But he did it (even if this picture doesn’t show it very well)!

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Ah, West Side. My natural enemy. But there is no time for revenge today. Today is for hunting.

And what things we found! I won’t post all the (sometimes boring) pictures of something-with-a-sock I’ve got, but here are some highlights:

I mostly looked for entries for the Yarn Harlot’s ‘Freestyle’ category (although I don’t think I have any that can compare to Margaret Atwood…there’s also a rumour of a Gord Downie sock picture, but I haven’t seen that one yet). First up, the hair salon next to Romni Wools:

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In that vein, we also passed Stephanie St on the way to Aboveground Art. Harlotastic!

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And one last yarn-related signpost: One of the artists who designed the Kensington Market sign on Spadina is named Yanover. Get it? Yanover? Yarnover? Okay, maybe it’s just me.

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Another something unexpected was this sculpture of a bike…it’s hard to tell if it is a topiary sculpture this time of year because there are no leaves out yet, but it was cool nonetheless. ‘Walk More’, indeed.

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Because of this guy, we decided to walk an extra thousand blocks to find another pub for lunch. Can you see him, behind the reflections in the glass? I’m sure he’s a very nice man, but… 😛

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After lunch (complete with Canadian beer…two points!) we finally made it to Lettuce Knit to fondle the Dream In Colour (and the Alchemy, and the STR, and the Handmaiden, and the baby alpaca and and and). While we were there, a delivery of lovely knitting bags arrived to much fanfare and excitement! Unfortunately, the delivery guy was camera shy (and possibly at risk of being fired…by terrorism…or whatever):

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By this time it had turned COLD. I was glad not only for my Phyllo, but also for the extra fleece I’d brough. O Spring! Even more my enemy than West Side dwellers! You are a jerk. Meh.

Anyway, by the time we had spent an undeterminable amount of time at Lettuce Knit (the yarn fumes sort of make time irrelevant), it was time to head to the Isabel Bader Theatre to hear Andy Maize and Michael Johnston from the Skydiggers open for Madam Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot herself! The pictures I took at the gig were crap, so I’ll spare you, but it was a fantastic night of music and validation. Of course, she’s preaching to the choir at these things, but it was still pretty magical to be one amongst hundreds of fibre artists of different ages and backgrounds and beliefs and skills and feel that what we did was important and creative and beautiful. I could go on, or I could just advise that you pick up her new book, which is full of pithy and interesting observations like this. So I’ll do that.

Our group (along with many, many others from the gig) descended on the Foxes Den for a drink and something to eat. Although the rumour was that they’d been warned in advance, they were clearly not expecting such a crush on a Tuesday night! I decided to skip the food and go straight to the liquid bread (that’s beer, dudes), since I didn’t know how much time I’d have. My parents were at the Royal Alex for a show and I was planning to grab a ride home with them whenever it was done. But I had a quest: I had boasted to my Selfish Knitters group that I would get a shot of the Yarn Harlot herself for our Travelling Veruca Swap (kind of like a travelling Flat Stanley, but with yarn). My cell phone rang; my parents were pulling out of the parking garage! They were on their way and I hadn’t gotten the picture! Bolstered by my cohorts (and a big slug of beer), I approached Stephanie’s table sheepishly (she’d been up for ages at the back of the pub where most of the knitters had snagged seats and had only recently sat down to her dinner) and, embracing my Inner Dork, explained my predicament to (I think) Joe and Rachel H. Hurrah! Stephanie very graciously hopped up and smiled brightly with Veruca…

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…and then convinced her mum to pose, too, explaining (with a wink and a nod) that I got “double points” if she would consent to be in a picture!

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Double points with knobs!

The yarn I used for my sock, by the way, is my precious single skein of Socks That Rock ‘Dutch Canyon’ which was a colourway for offer quite awhile ago, but had been phased out by the time I discovered the yarn. Before I got my first skein of Wollmeise, I though it was pretty bright stuff:

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The socks are plain vanilla toe-up with a gusset till the ankle, then I switched to garter rib for a bit of visual interest. I’ll post more about them later; I think I’m just about out of words!

Happy Inexplicable Knitter Behaviour, everyone! And thank you to my group of gnomes: Terrie, Cheryl, Nancy, Brooke and our honourary gnome, Kim! You guys made yesterday awesome! Can this be an annual event, please? Kthxbi.

…oh! The wooden hand I got at Aboveground Art? It saw some knitterly action:

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Good times, good times.

I am not a cynic, but I am a reasonably sceptical person, so when I first noticed all the fuss around Wollmeise yarn, I thought it was mostly a result of The Allure of the Rare combined with the Harlot Effect (remember last summer when she did a sock in Spice Market and the internet exploded?) But I did admire the colours, so after awhile I joined Ravelry’s Wollmeise group, figured out how to work the site and even managed to get a couple of skeins in the last godless buying frenzy shop update. After the adrenaline faded, though, I experienced a twinge of buyer’s regret, and was afraid I wasn’t going to like what I’d bought.

Then, my package arrived.

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The paper bag was cute, and I enjoyed the sensation of opening a present after opening the package (who doesn’t like presents??) I slid the skeins out, and a little packet of Goldbären plopped on top of them. Ich leibe Goldbären!!

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After scoffing them, I got a good look at the yarns.

Just…wow.

But my pictures of them sucked!! Stupid cloudy winter days! It’s been snowing for months now, and the light inside can best be described as “dim”. Not so great for capturing the intense colours of my Wollmeise.

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“I wish I had a lightbox,” I thought to myself. A bright white background to bounce indirect light onto my subject. But where could I find a bright white background and indirect light??

It took a few seconds to sink in, but then it came to me.

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Dude! With the seventeen hundred feet of snow that’s fallen in the last few weeks, outside IS a lightbox!

Meet Emil

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and Suzanne!

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Please excuse Suzanne’s dandruff, I couldn’t shake off all the snow when I repositioned her. Such is life.

I think I’m going to knit with Suzanne first, I’ve got a really good sock pattern in mind for her: Skyline Chilly’s beautiful Pearl’s Diamond Socks. The pattern can be downloaded from her site for $5, with the proceeds from the sale going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honour of her Aunt Pearl. I think the yarn-over pattern will really complement Wollmeise’s Wild Thing pooling action, and I can’t wait to get started!

But first, I have a lot of unfinished business to attend to…which will have to be addressed in a future post. Today is my lovely mother’s birthday, and I should spend some time with her, especially since the provincial government declared today a new holiday in order to give us a long weekend in the most blah month of the year. Happy Family Day, Ontarians!

So, lately I’ve been making quite small things, maybe to contrast with all the big things I have in my head and on my needles that linger unfinished and unloved (sorry, ufo dudes). One of my favourite things came off the needles last week after four days of almost constant knitting and reknitting:

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It’s MagKnit’s Evangeline fingerless gloves! Well, sort of. I adored the cables running up the back of the glove, but I sort of hated the finger/thumb part. I tweaked the pattern a bit and came up with something I really loved, so I decided to write up a little tutorial in case anyone else was looking for a mod for this pattern.

I didn’t use the recommended yarn, or even a yarn that was the same weight as the recommended yarn, so already I was knitting by the seat of my pants. I still had almost a skein and a half of Handmaiden 4-ply cashmere (the same yarn I used to make my Odessa) and I really wanted to make gloves with it. So I grabbed some 3.25 dpns and cast on. My hands are fairly small and the cashmere is fairly stretchy, so using Michelle’s numbers worked fine for me, but it would have been the easiest thing in the world to add (or subtract) any multiple of 4 additional stitches to improve fit.

The first real mod I made, though, was to make the root of the cables match up with the ribbing:

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This is a fairly small, nitpicky thing, but it makes me happy every time I look at it, and it was piss easy to do. All I had to do was transpose the pattern over one stitch. That is, after I finished the last round of the K1P2 ribbing, I took the marker off the needles, knit one more stitch, and replaced the marker. This means that the first two knit stitches of the cable pattern occur directly above two knit stitches. A little thing, but a nice thing.

I wanted these gloves to extend quite a few inches beyond my wrists, so I knit four complete repeats of the cable pattern before starting hand shaping. You could wait ten cable repeats before you started hand shaping, or begin the shaping as soon as you started knitting the cables. The point at which you start the hand shaping depends on how many stitches you want to end up with for the thumb, and how long (or short) you want the wrist portion to be, but it’s probably easiest just to start at Row 1 of a new cable repeat. As you can see in this picture, I moved my round marker back three stitches, so the increases start six stitches from the first cable stitch. This centres the pattern more precisely on the arm, and keeps the increases looking nice and neat.

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The thumb shaping is exactly the same as described in the Flying Gloves “pattern”: increase one stitch per pattern row, and knit all stitches plain each plain row. Although I only wanted twelve stitches for the thumb, I knit four cable pattern repeats (four repeats x four increases per repeat = 16 extra sts) to give myself some extra ease across the hand, since my gauge was so tight.

Another thing I did to give myself some extra ease across the hand was to perform a few increases on the other side of my hand:

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I started these at the beginning of Cable Repeat #7 (aka Repeat 3 of the hand shaping). I stopped increasing here at the same time as I stopped increasing for the thumb gusset, but if you felt like you wanted some more ease for your fingers, you could easily keep increasing here until you were satisfied. Anyway. Eight extra stitches here plus the four extra stitches that were left over after separating out the twelve stitches for the thumb equals twelve extra stitches of ease across the hand, which added to the 40 stitches I originally cast on makes 52 stitches total. It’s important to note that 52 is divisible by 4; however many stitches you increase, be sure it is a multiple of four so your final ribbing turns out nice and even!

The last mod I made to the pattern was to knit a couple extra repeats on the fingers to make them nice and long. I wanted gloves that were kind of more like pseudomitts; the fabric comes down to shield my fingers from the wind, but it doesn’t get in my way when I have to dig around for something.

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And if it’s not too cold outside (or I want my fingers free, like for driving), I can fold the ribbing down and the fabric doesn’t get in my way at all:

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I picked up four extra stitches for the thumb, and topped it off with some ribbing to make it easier to flip down. Cast off the fingers and the thumb with something extra stretchy (I used the sewn bind-off method, outlined in this great knitty.com article)

Aaaaaaaand that’s about it! I’m not sure if anyone cares, but at the very least I have some “notes” written down in case I ever want to knit these again the same way. And I might; they’re really cute, and very, very easy. And the cashmere makes me feel like a princess every time I wear them! I’ve got two more skeins of Handmaiden cashmere that I don’t have plans for yet; maybe there will be some more modded Evangelines in my future…!

Two of the blogs I read had this title last week. The funniest part was that the posts both appeared on the same day, and just happened to appear consecutively in my Bloglines. A sign? Maybe not. But a title, at least.

So. November, eh? Well, a lot of things have happened since November. Most of them were good. Some of them were pretty okay. And one was fucking devastating. This isn’t a personal blog so I don’t really want to get into it, but it’s important to me and I think about it pretty much every day with fresh shock and disbelief, so I don’t feel like I can come back without saying anything about it. My dad’s best friend died suddenly and unexpectedly from a massive brain tumour a few days after I posted my last entry. I don’t know or can’t remember most of the medical details, but he’d been suffering headaches for a few weeks, put it down to work stress/travel fatigue and basically ignored it until his wife marched him to Emergency. He was admitted that evening and died just over a week later. His funeral was on Remembrance Day and fuck yes he will be remembered. Robert was more than family to us, and more awesome than most people I’ve ever known. His kids are very close in age to both me and my brother, and we all grew up together even though we only saw each other a couple of times a year. The whole family is awesome and supertight, and I know I can’t even imagine how they feel. Sometimes I’ll sort of start daydreaming about summers at the cottage or skiing or whatever, and I’ll remember suddenly and all over again that he’s gone, and it hits me exactly the same way it did the first time I heard the news. The funeral was standing room only. He will be sorely missed.

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But life doesn’t always give you much of a chance to grieve. We all travelled down the lake for the funeral, and when we got back I started working for real and for serious on my final research paper (you know, the one I’ve been warning you not to ask about since the summer). I pretty much moved into the basement, spread my papers out and rigged up an enormous corkboard to pin ideas to. I entered the dungeon around 9 every morning and crawled back into bed around midnight every night. Getting to go upstairs to pee was a break, nay, a treat; something to look forward to. Grant fixed me lunch, cooked me dinner and cleared up every day. More importantly, he encouraged me to get started, to keep going, and to believe in myself. He drove with me to Ottawa during a huge snowstorm to hand it in. I owe him everything. I owe him my Mastery of Rock!

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Because Master of Rock sounds way more awesome than Master of Canadian Studies. It’s my degree and I get to call it what I want on my blog (as opposed to on my CV!)

But that was only the beginning of December. A few days after we drove to Ottawa, we flew to Scotland to have Christmas with Grant’s sister, her Geordie husband and their Thomas The Tank Engine-obsessed 2 1/2 year old son. And my camera died soon after we got there, so these blurry pics are really the only ones I have of the trip:

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Grant at the Christmas Market in Edinburgh

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Grant and Sam enjoying fresh mini doughnuts. mmmm lard

Christmas was pretty fun, especially since we all clubbed together and got our brother-in-law Guitar Hero III! Grant and I immediately decided we must now buy a Wii and also every piece of music-performance-related software available. This might mean saving up for awhile. A loooooooong while. But good things come to those who wait, right?

Speaking of waiting and good things…I do have knitting content.

I knit one of the two hats in the picture above. Unfortunately, it was not Sam’s supercool Ming The Merciless helmet (you can’t really see it in this pic, but the brim comes to a tiny peak in the middle of his forehead. I covet this hat). Grant’s hat is the Marsan Watchcap, knit with almost 2 whole skeins of Noro Kureyon (dude has a bigass head, and he wanted a wide flip-up brim. But he wears it lots and lots, so it’s okay). Here’s a slightly better picture of it:

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Even when he’s looking cute, there’s still more than a hint of smarm. Just how I like ’em.

Grant’s hat was the last thing I knit before I put everything on hold for my paper. Which means I didn’t have a hat for myself when we went to Edinburgh. So, of course, I had to make myself one:
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It’s Grumperina’s Odessa, but to make it nice and warm I did lifted increases in place of yarn-overs. The rest is pretty well exactly to pattern, except where I missed out a single bead in the second beaded row. It’s the one mistake that makes it perfect, right? Even I have to really search for it when I’m putting it on (because, of course, the mistake goes to the back!). Nothing but glowing praise for this pattern!

The yarn was a yay-you-did-it! treat for myself: Handmaiden 4-ply Cashmere from The Naked Sheep in the Beaches. I can tell that it’s going to bag a wee bit, but since I made it the tiniest bit too tight for just this reason, it shouldn’t be a problem. Here’s a slightly closer-up shot of the hat:

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As you can see in the background, it’s been pretty green here for awhile now. I’d been putting off FO photoshoots until we got some nice white to shoot against, but the few flurries we’d been getting always blew away so I finally just went ahead and took pictures. Of course, today I woke up to snow-covered everything, but whatev, Trev. Maybe now I won’t feel so silly going out in my mittens:

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I started these in Edinburgh out of some Rowan Tapestry (a wool/soy mix) that I grabbed at the John Lewis department store in Glasgow. I just wanted to make something superfast to cover my hands. Well, I didn’t end up finishing these guys until a couple of days ago, so so much for the bum’s rush. Now I wish I’d done something a little more ambitious, like cables or tone-on-tone colourwork or something, but here we are. I’m not the hugest fan of the yarn anyhow, but they’ll do for what they’re for. Anyway, I probably wouldn’t have had enough yardage to make anything but what I made. Since I was just improvising these guys, I didn’t know how much yarn I’d need for each mitt. In the end, I had to unpick the first mitt’s cuff to finish off the second mitt. Here’s how much I had left over:

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Yeah. Not a whole lot. Hooray for spit-splicing, I probably wouldn’t have made it without it!

Grant says the pointy tips make my hands look like flippers, but I like the roominess of them. I hate the feeling of too-small mitts with my hands slightly bowed inside; these guys give my middle finger lots of breathing space. Anyway, I have much bigger hand-covering plans a-brewin. Actually, it is pretty much exactly the same idea another blogger I just spent ten fruitless minutes searching for had: a pair of fingerless gloves with an extra-long finger section that can be folded back when you need to use your fingers, or flipped down when you want to keep them warm. Seriously, I thought of it one evening, really loved the idea, and then the NEXT MORNING checked my Bloglines to see the EXACT IDEA in a FO shot! I mean, it’s not a genius or revolutionary idea, and I certainly never intended to patent it or anything, but I still think it was a pretty funny coincidence. They were even cabled down the back of the hand and everything! The cables were slightly different than the ones I had in mind, tho. I envisioned Sweet Sheep’s Evangeline gloves from the winter MagKnits as the base, and I keep pawing through my little stash to see if I have something suitable. I still haven’t decided if I need to go shopping yet.

Okay, one more FO on parade and then I’m going to close the gates. Like most of the projects in this post, I started this in Edinburgh (we were there for almost three weeks, okay? And Edinbugh pretty much closes down for a week over Christmas and Hogmanay) It’s a toque for my dad that I sort of made up as I went along (a familiar tune here at knittingmixtapes). But I think it turned out looking pretty pretty good:

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Denny wound the wool for me when I bought it at Lettuce Knit, so of course I’ve lost the tag by now. It’s a thick, single-ply pure wool that I think really helps the cables pop just enough to admire them, but not so much that you’re all like, “whoa, cables!” The wool is a bit scratchy, but I also made a cashmere liner for it it’s nice and soft on my dad’s bald head. It’s also not pointy on my dad’s head the way it is on mine (my head is not quite big enough to make a perfect model, but here we are).

It’s basically half a Marsan Watchcap with a Saxon Braid stuck to the bottom of it. This hat also represents my very first go at cables, which are dead easy and very fun to work. I provisionally cast on, then knit a few repeats of the Saxon Braid cable (I got my instructions from the Samus cardigan) and grafted the ends together when I thought I’d done enough (the cables don’t quite match up seamlessly, but it’s good enough in this hairy yarn that you really have to hunt for the seam) Then I picked up a bunch of stitches for the rest of it, knit a twisted rib pattern, and shaped the crown like in the Marsan Watchcap pattern. Finally, with the Handmaiden 4 ply Cashmere (a much, much finer yarn than the grey wool) I picked up some stitches at the bottom of the brim and knit a liner for it at a very loose gauge (I picked up the stitches with some 4.25mm dpns, then switched to 5mm dpns about a half-inch in, and ended up knitting most of the liner with a 6mm circular. I switched back to the 5mm dpns for the crown shaping).

It’s the tiniest bit tight on my dad’s head (I knit most of it while we were on different continents, so although I measured his skull before I started, it was a bit of a crossed-fingers situation), but the wool and the cashmere will likely stretch out a bit with wear. The cables are nice and warm on his ears, and the looser-knit crown should allow plenty of air circulation, which is important as this hat is destined to be a ski toque!

I’d definitely knit it again, which is saying a lot as I very rarely choose to re-knit things I’ve already made (which, I guess, is where Second Sock/Mitt Syndrome comes from). The first time I started the body/crown knitting, I tried it in plain stockinette, but I thought it looked too feminine so I switched to an exaggerated rib for some manliness. If I reknit this for myself, I’d probably stick with the stockinette, although you could also get creative and stick something like an Odessa swirl on the top! We’ll see. Right now I’m pretty happy with my straight-up Odessa, but you can never have too many lovely handknit hats, right?

Aaaaaaaaaand I’m spent. There is more to say and to see, but they will have to wait for another day. I don’t mean to contribute to the Only Posting FO Shots thing that is allegedly Sweeping The Blogosphere Like A Plague, but when you don’t post for two months there is a lot to get caught up with. Next Time: New Year Crafting Resolutions and Sam’s Jacket: Now With Hood (Arms Pending). See you all soon!

No knitting pics today, I have to make a list of Christmas gifts I’ve started/imagined that won’t get lost in the wash etc (all links lead to Ravelry):

1. Hooded jacket for Nephew, pattern of my own maniacal design

2. Branching Out “stole” (that is, the regular scarf with improvised lace border) for ma

3. Modified Hawkeye Hat for da (he wants earflaps)

4. Marsan Watchcap for the husband

5. …something for BIL? A hat? Maybe another earflapped Hawkeye? A modishly striped knit hat? Maybe I’ll wait until after the One Of A Kind Show and see if I don’t find him something there first.

Actually, that’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I mean, sure, I still have to find the time to write an entire 60-page research paper in there somewhere, but overall, I’m feeling a lot better about it. Even tho the Nephew Sweater is probably a project that could take up more time than all the other projects put together…ah well. We’ll see how that one goes. Dude is two and a half; he won’t even notice if he doesn’t unwrap it on Christmas morning. So I really have until January to finish that one (and if it still isn’t done by then…meh. It’ll get there eventually. That’s what the postal service is for, right?)

Right.

So, some people didn’t go to Rhinebeck. More specificially, *I* didn’t go to Rhinebeck. And I am not bitter about it at all. Noooooooo, not me. Bitter? HA! Ha, I say. I say this to you.

But some of us did go on yarn-related roadtrips all the same. More specifically, *I* went on a yarn-related roadtrip. Last Tuesday. With my husband. And he didn’t even complain (that much). Yay roadtrip!

Okay, so it’s not as awesome as Rhinebeck, what with the sunshine and the animals and the babies and the knitting royalty. Tuesday was a pretty crappy day, and the leaves had fallen off all the trees. I took a picture, but it doesn’t want to upload, for some reason, and two days of fighting with it are enough. But it really doesn’t matter. We didn’t go for the view.

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We came for the wool.

Camilla Valley Farm is about a 90-minute drive from where we live, and took even longer coming home with all the traffic and stuff. But it was worth it. I got all the Jamieson DK I’ll need for my nephew’s zip hoodie aaaaaaaand a little extra. They had Fleece Artist Sea Wool! I am not made of stone, people. But I limited myself to two skeins. This time. Sock yarn doesn’t count, right?

In case you decide to visit Camilla Valley Farms, this is the shop.

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There’s no sign or anything (that I noticed), but it’s reasonably obvious that the house isn’t the shop and the barn isn’t the shop and the grain silo *probably* isn’t the shop either, so this must be the shop. Here is my darling husband carrying nearly $200 in yarn with nary a complaint to be heard (mostly because the Nephew Sweater was his idea in the first place, and he is very interested in each stage of its construction. But he didn’t make a peep about the Fleece Artist, and that is to his credit).

The weather was pretty bad in the early afternoon, while we tried to navigate our way to CVF with EZ-style pithy (but clear and concise) directions along nearly-deserted roads that ended up covering 60% of the car in mud (to the point where you wouldn’t have been able to tell the colour of the paint underneath!) However, the skies had started to clear by the time we were on our way back, which made the trek back to “civilization” a pleasure:

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As for actual knitting, I seem to have that starteritis bug that I hear is going around. I was suddenly and unexpectedly obsessed by Saartje’s Bootees (link to pdf on the sidebar of that page) and whipped out three adorable pairs until I could stop (they’re so easy! and quick! and addictive!) But as I have not yet found the perfect tiny little buttons for them (I need to start a button stash, stat!), they are not FOs and as such will not be shown yet (the crisscross straps flap about too much to allow the audience to fully appreciate the cuteness without buttons). So, instead, check this out:

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Yes, the picture of me making a weird face was the best picture of my finished (if slightly modified) Circular Shrug. Always ends up that way, doesn’t it? Ah well. It’s still one of my favourite-ever (and easiest-ever) knits!

I think the shrug looks great from the back, too, even if it does pucker weirdly a bit and give me faux-backfat (I have enough of my own, damnit!)

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I thought I’d decided not to put in sleeves, but after about ten minutes of wearing the things I realised I really, really needed them, if only to have something to anchor the shawl collar thing so it doesn’t ride up and get all mussed every five seconds. So it’s not an FO as such, but I still wanted to show it off. I am still so so so in love with Dream In Color yarn! Here’s another closeup shot, in situ:

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Now, I don’t know if everyone’s browser does this, but when I roll over the pics on my blog, it shows the filename. If yours does this, too, you might notice that all the shrug pics have the name ‘Julie’ in the title. That’s not my name; it’s what I’ve taken to calling this piece in honour of one of my all-time favourite musicians, Julie Doiron. She’s been a successful solo artist for the last decade or so, but before then, she was in the seminal Canadian indie rock band Eric’s Trip, who broke up in the late 90s but have gotten together again a few times over the years for some “reunion” shows. I was lucky enough to catch them in 1996 just before they dropped over the horizon, and was there to welcome them back again in 2001 when they started playing together again, “just for fun”. While I was knitting this shrug, ET was touring southern Ontario, and I talked my sweet, indulgent husband into travelling with me to London and Ottawa to see them on two different weekends (and driving some of the way, so I could knit in the car). Of course, the anticipation of a reunion tour inspired me to make like three different mixes of ET and side project tracks, which I have been listening to obsessively for almost a month now (I can be sort of OCD about stuff sometimes — what? knitters often have OCD tendencies? whoda thunk, right?) Anyway, the link between the yarn and the band came pretty naturally if you remember the last proper album they put out: Purple Blue. It’s an ET album, not a Julie album, but Eric’s Shrug didn’t seem right, somehow…it seemed wrong to give such a feminine knit a masculine name. So, despite my serious doubts that Julie herself would ever wear a garment like this, it has come to be called Julie Shrugged in my head, and in my Ravelry notebook.

The proper title of this blog is knittingmixtapes, which I meant to be both a (lame-ass) pun on ‘mistakes’ and an allusion to music; I envisioned this as sort of a crafty mp3 blog. I haven’t done that until now, but then again, no other post or knitted object has ever been more closely related to a piece of music. Songs like the one at the bottom of this paragraph are why I love Julie’s music so much, and probably why music in general is so important to me. I discovered Eric’s Trip when I was fifteen, and their music became sort of enmeshed in my own personality, my psyche. Like the music, I’m kind of selfconsciously sentimental and naive, incredibly introverted but self-revelatory at the same time. I’ve gone months, even years, without listening to any ET or ET-related music, but every time I dust off the albums, I feel very much myself. This song has meant a lot to me over the years, but never more than after I met my husband. I dream about him often, and through the course of our relationship there’s been a lot of time when all we could do was dream about each other; being in a relationship, even a marriage, with someone from the other side of the world comes with its own peculiarities and challenges.

Julie Doiron – Tell You Again

In less sentimental news, my “knitting students” are getting on quite well. As well as can be expected, anyway. It’s a busy time of year. But I did meet up with one of them (Fair Isle Vest) for a shopping spree and mini-lesson over the weekend. We fondled many yarns in Lettuce Knit, scoured the wall for needles at Romni Wools, and repaired to the Just Us Cafe for bagels and tea and hot chocolate and knitting.

Unfortunately, that pic isn’t uploading either, so we will have to do without it for now. Dudes, I think something is seriously wrong with something somewhere. I’m not sure if it’s my wordpress account (I bought more room! I’ve only used 7%!) or my internet connection (it’s been patchy since some dude came over to “fix” it) or an unsympathetic alignment of the stars or what, but I’ve been writing this sucker for two days and it’s time to post it. Maybe there will be more Amateur Hour next time. And maybe even some progress on The Nephew Sweater. And if you’re really lucky, maybe it won’t take me two weeks to post again! We can only wait and see.