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Hey hey.

I fell out of posting for a while cause I had the flu. It was pretty mild, but it was the first time I was sick in two years so it was a big deal to me. I missed out on a lot of stuff, like February’s Scrabble Meetup and seeing Thievery Corporation, but I did finish a shawl and watch a lot of Law & Order.

Anyway, until I get back into the swing of things and start taking more photos, here’s a project I finished during my Christmas travels. It’s the Tricky Dickey from Knitting Around.

I knit it from one skein of Blue Sky Baby Alpaca. I picked the yarn up at Lettuce Knit while I was in Toronto during a very snowy day, like many others we spent during our Christmas travels in Ontario. By the time we were headed to the US, Mr. NotCharles was awfully happy to have a warm neckpiece to brave the several feet of snow and blizzard conditions that were involved.

in with the new

I found some deeply discounted Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed the other day on a trip to a yarn store in Princeton.

I now have 12 skeins of this sweet candy purple called Festival

and a mix of these two colors for another undetermined sweater

Unlike the normal “no more stashing” resolutions, my yarn related resolution in 2009 is to use up more of my scraps (this inclues generously destashing them) and to plan my projects better. Thanks to my venturing into Elizabeth Zimmerman projects in 2008 I’m getting better at estimating yardage for projects and I plan on honing that skill even more this year.

Next up, my first scrap project!

Top 5 of 2008

Here’s a look back of my favorite knits of this year and a little update on them.

Habitat Hat – gifted to my sister-in-law for Christmas was knit twice in a span of six days. Luckily, it was well received. I love the way the cables look in the off white tweedy yarn.

Hexacomb – This one has risen to super popularity on Ravelry, but I’ve only worn it a few times. Montreal’s climate doesn’t work very well with a cropped wool sweater, but this is still one of my favorite knits of the year. Reynolds’ Whiskey is a fantastic yarn that steam blocks beautifully, and thanks to Ysolda, and the afternoon spent at Ariadne, the finishing on this sweater is the best work I’ve done to date. It’s one of my favorites because it marks the beginning of my venture into proper finishing techniques. I’ve never been happier with my seams.

Pi Shawl – began sometime in July and finished in September, I knit the Pi Shawl throughout the summer, on beaches in Quebec & Ontario and on park benches and during knitting meetups in Montreal. This is probably my most memory-filled knit this year. I look at it and remember Scrabble games in Gaspesie, movies with friends and teaching other knitters to yarn over and knit two together.

Modified 28Thirty – This was my Ravelympics project, and while I did knit steadily through the Olympics, I didn’t end up weaving the ends in until a cold day in November. The sweater warmed me up immediately and has been doing so ever since. This one will definitely was the most wearable knit of 2008. It’s cozy, warm, fits perfectly and gets lots of compliments.

Little Sweater – A very special sweater made for a very special baby.  Handspun and knit through August, September and October, this tiny sweater was gifted in November to a baby who decided to show up a bit early in December. I made the sweater to fit 6-12 month olds, so it’ll be a while before he can wear it, but when he does I’m sure it will be cozy and warm, and certainly not his last handknit sweater.

traveling

We’re off to Toronto today. Mr. NotCharles’ office Christmas party is going to be at a steakhouse, which will be interesting for me since I’m a vegetarian. I guess I’ll find something to eat there, I hope. At least I can console myself with an awesome vegetarian lunch. Toronto’s always good for that sort of thing.

I finished Habitat on Monday night and will be gifting it this weekend. Happily, the fit is much better this time. I found it helped to switch back to smaller DPNs for the end decreases. It prevented that weird cone thing from happening at the top of the hat. I also did it because I didn’t have a set of size 7 DPNs to continue with.

As you’ll remember, the yarn is Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed (a mix of wool, silk & cashmere) and works great for making cables without a cable needle and afterthought thumbs. I’d highly recommend it. Two balls were used for the pair of mittens and another two for the hat, with plenty to spare for the mittens’ trim.

I plan on making more of both of these patterns over my vacation, probably for myself. Gift knitting is fun, but it doesn’t keep you warm.

Habitat redux

We went to the Tricot Machine Christmas show last night. It was a totally awesome Christmas experience. Tricot Machine is a great band. They spend a lot of time on the little details and it adds a whole layer to their live shows. Last night had a children’s choir, a brass band, a bear, and a hunter who shot confetti into the audience.

However, as for mes tricots I have very bad news about the Habitat hat. After knitting a huge chunk of it at Thursday night’s stitch & bitch, I finished it off Friday morning and set it out to block. I tried it on last night and it was HUGE. Like, impossibly huge. It has now been ripped out and restarted. I know this sounds crazy. I was so in love with the finished product, but I want this hat to fit the person it’s intended for and frankly it was a bit big on Mr. NotCharles’ head. When I thought about it it made sense to restart. I made that hat in three days, and I essentially have four days before I leave for Christmas and one five hour train ride. In those terms, how could I not redo the hat?

Besides, the mittens are done, done, done. The afterthought thumbs were nowhere near as difficult as I made them out to be. I owe this to the super stickiness of the Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed, which also lends itself well to cabling without a cable needle. I did find the thumbs to be tedious though, and if these weren’t a gift knit I probably would have left them lingering another day or two.

Today I’ll be cleaning, packing, present wrapping and baking, but I’ll be trying my best to fit a few rows in here and there. All our Christmas shopping was finished yesterday, so we’ve declared today stay-at-home day.

holidays

Petit Pains Show is this weekend, it actually starts today. I’ll be hitting it up looking for some of my favorites from last year. I need some more handmade soap and a new coffee mug.

As for my gift knitting, I’ve decided on the Habitat hat. I’m making the large size, since it claims it will fit over the ears of a S/M head. Here’s hoping that’s true and hat it’s not ridiculously oversized. So far it looks fine and the cable pattern is quite easy to follow. I’m loving the way this yarn is knitting up.

The mittens that are part of this set need afterthought thumbs. I’m a bit nervous about doing this, but I know it’s possible and that it’ll work out just fine. I’m thinking of digging into that tonight, armed with liquor, naturally.

The data on my hard drive looks to have been completely recovered, so you can uncross your fingers for me.

And I’m starting to plan out my post-holiday, non-gift knitting, which means I need to start matching queue to stash, winding skeins and collecting suitable needles to take in my suitcase. I’m leaving in less than a week now!

This week was kind of stressful and overwhelming, but I feel like I got over a lot of it yesterday through the therapeutic act of cookie baking, friendly chatting, knitting and staying in my pyjamas for most of the day.

hat and mittens

I’ve made a pair of mittens to gift, but I’m having trouble finding the perfect hat pattern to go with them.

The mittens are Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Mitered Mittens and now I need a not-so-complicated hat pattern that is warm and takes aran weight wool.

I was going to go with the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, which I made in Malabrigo a while ago and is anything but a beret, but I started it twice Saturday night before realizing that it just wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to.

Any suggestions? It needs to be warm and it needs to be quick.

whatever became of the schoolhouse vest?

As you remember, I made Stephanie Japel’s Back To School vest back in February, but I was never 100% in love with the finished product. So, I decided to rip it out a week or two ago and try out an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern. I’ve bought four of her books so far and they’re so jam packed with information, techniques, ideas and encouragement that I like reading them even when I’m not following one of the patterns. I can’t really say that about any other knitting books. Most of the time text in knitting books is either a manifesto on design or a disjointed philosophy on the art of knitting, and while it sometimes makes for fine prose it doesn’t really speak to or inspire me as much as the idea of exploring garter stitch and shaping and really simple things that I can incorporate into keeping myself warm, which is the whle point this time of year.

Anyway, I knit the Rib Warmer from Knitting Workshop. It came out well and I even enjoyed seaming it, which is unheard of for me. I think it fits much better than the original vest did, and I also think it’ll work well to keep me warm right out of bed first thing in the morning.

In fact, I think I’m going to make some more…

blueberry pi

Hurricanes are pretty big news this time of year, so what better time to finish a spiraly Pi Shawl in a colorway named Tropical Storm.

I started this shawl right before going to visit my inlaws at the beginning of July and it was knit in the following places:

The border, which took forever, was taken from Victorian Lace Today. They call it a traditional Vandyke border, but I think it looks like waves and that’s why I chose it.

The border was a twelve row repeat, knit sideways, incorporating an edge stitch from the 576 stitches of the shawl every other row. This means I knit 1,152 rows of the border pattern. This is why it seemed like it was going nowhere, even after hours of work. But I managed to finish it!

And as my friend Suzen pointed out it does fit perfectly around my shoulders, much better than any triangular shawl ever has. It also fits in with the Water element (which is still going strong until the end of September), is super warm and fits right in with the colder weather we’re having.

knitting round up

– One sweater with half a sleeve, reknit with better decreases that actually work with the human arm.

– One useful conversation had about zipper installation for said sweater.

– One finished and blocked Pi Shawl, ends not woven in and unphotographed. (I’m possibly in need of a project photographer and/or a sunny day).

– One pair of started socks, fourth incarnation, with recently noticed uneven cabling. (Yeah, but I doubt I have the guts to rip them out again).

– One braid of almost matching BFL roving purchased for a long hibernating baby sweater.

– One 4oz. braid of merino totally spun up and resting on the bobbin. I think I may have begun to figure out exactly what to do with merino to make it behave. Having finally found the secret hiding place for my shorter drive band also helped.