> To Knit is Divine: October 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Travelling Roses Lace Scarf

As promised, I have written up the pattern for the scarf I made for the International Scarf Exchange, henceforth dubbed the Travelling Roses Lace Scarf. The pattern is available in PDF format here. There is also a link on the sidebar. Here are the details:

Finished Measurements
7" x 43" pre-blocked
8" x 66" blocked

Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace Weight yarn, Red - 1 skein
(yes, it really did only take 1 skein, with some left over!)

Needles: 2.5mm needles (I used Knitpicks US1 needles, which are 2.5mm. You could always use 2.25mm (a standard US1) or 2.75mm (a standard US2)

As this is the first design I've ever written up, I'd love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scarves have been exchanged

Well, the International Scarf Exchange has now come to an end for me. I have received my scarf and the scarf I sent has been received.

I received a lovely thick, warm, soft Alpaca scarf in the perfect colour for me, some yarn and some chocolate from Becky. I haven't had a chance to take a picture yet - I will do that over the weekend (well, of the scarf and yarn at least. The chocolate is, ummm, gone!).

And the package I sent was received by Phyllis. I loved being her secret pal! When I first read her blog after we were paired up, I read that she had a postcard collection with postcards from every continent except Africa and Antartica. Well, I couldn't do much about Antartica, but I read that a few days before heading off to Mozambique. Buying and sending postcards along the way was lots of fun! And if anyone is heading to Antartica, please send Phyllis a postcard :-)

As for the scarf I sent, I had a few requests to share the pattern. I have written it up, and will make it available for download (as a .pdf) as soon as I get the time to do so. Definitely by the weekend, if not before. So check back in a few days.

The International Scarf Exchange was the first exchange I participated in, and certainly won't be my last. I really enjoyed it!

And speaking of exchanges, I have a request for my SP9 Secret Pal. My friend Andrea (blogless, sadly, but I'm working on her!) left a comment for you on my post about the gifts I received from you. She would love to have the pattern for the pumpkin you sent me. For that matter, I'd love to have the pattern too. Is this a pattern you created? If so, could you send it to me by email and I'll pass it on to Andrea. Or if it's a pattern you found, please leave a comment letting me know where you found it. Thanks a bunch!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Some new blog features

I've done a bit of re-decorating around the blog lately. Today, I added all of my FOs to my Flickr site and added the link over on the sidebar. These are only the things I have finished since I began blogging in July. I don't have pictures of the stuff I did before that (mostly socks and dishcloths).

As well, last weekend I added ClustrMaps. Very cool feature. I see from that that I have more visitors than I thought I did. I mean, I'm no Yarn Harlot, but it's more than I expected for a relatively new blog. So if you're a reader and have never commented (or even if you have!), I'd love it if you left me a comment. And thanks for reading :-)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Orange you a great secret pal!

Sorry for the bad title pun, but I received my first package yesterday from my SP9 Secret Pal and it's full of orangy goodness.

All I know about my pal is that she
lives in Toronto and that she read my questionnaire very carefully! (I'm assuming she's a she, based on percentages alone!) I said in my blog that my favourite colour is orange, and she sure delivered. I also said I like purple, but I don't wear it. Everything was wrapped in purple tissue paper, with little notes on them written in purple pen! So here's what I got:

3 big (225g) balls of Eco-fil, Recycled earth-friendly yarn (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), in a great shade of orange. I think
it wants to become a Kitchen Sink Bag. It will likely also become some dishcloths. Any other suggestions for what I could make with this?

A great orange make-up bag that will be perfect for carrying my knitting notions and dpns when I travel. Right now I use a pencil case, but there are two problems with it. 1) it only has one pocket, so everything gets jumbled together and harder to find and 2) it's not orange :-). The case my pal sent will be perfect!

an orange rope bone for Macha (she sent a gift for Macha - how sweet is that!)

a yarn separator, for knitting Fair Isle

and the piece de resistance, an adorable little stuffed jack-o-lantern, knit by my secret pal herself. Very cool! It is now sitting on my computer and will likely stay there long after Hallowe'en is over.

She also sent some medicine and a card included with an orange sweater on the front. In her note she said that she hoped she hadn't gone overboard on the colour theme. No indeed. Anyone who knows me in real life can tell you that I really do love orange that much!

Thanks Secret Pal! I sure snagged myself a good one :-). I, on the other hand, have been a bad secret pal. I've written my giftee to let him know I'm out there, but I haven't yet put together a package. I will get on that soon so he doesn't feel neglected.

As for the scarf swap, both the scarf I sent and the scarf I'm receiving are in the mail. Speaking of the scarf I sent, I've written up the pattern and will be making it available here, but I want to wait until my swapee receives it first. It should arrive in the next few days.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

In praise of quick knits

I know, I know, I've raved about how much I like laceweight yarn and small needles. But I'll admit, sometimes it is fun to do things that are quick and easy. Such as the following hat I made for Dulaan:

ern: Brioche Stitch Watchcap from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears
Yarn: 2 strands of Patons Classic Wool Merino, Colour 00207 (Rich Red)

Needles: US 11 (8mm)

In a couple of evenings the hat was finished. I have always loved the look of Brioche Stitch, but I have never used it before. I like this hat so much, I have cast on one for myself. One of the fun things about Dulaan knitting is that you don't need to fit a particular kid's head - it's sure to
fit someone. All that matters is that it's warm. And this hat will sure be warm! Two strands of worsted yarn is smaller than the "very thick wool" the pattern calls for, but I wanted a child's size anyway, so I cast on the number of stitches called for and knit away. It turned out just a bit small for me, so it will fit a big kid. And it's easy now to figure out how many stitches I need to cast on for a hat to fit me. So cast on I did.

But just a few rows in, I got sidetracked by a c
old-hands emergency. You see, a few months ago my partner took up woodworking, and we set up a little shop up in the attic. But now it's getting cold up in the attic, and no spouse of mine is going to suffer from cold hands. Not as long as there are sheep in the world. So the other evening we were discussing the temperature in the attic, and I decided that fingerless gloves were called for. Now. So I paused the movie we were watching (which of course is why we watch movies at home and not in the theatre. You can't pause a movie in the theatre for a cold hands emergency), zipped on the internet and quickly found a fingerless glove pattern (well, a 2-fingerless glove pattern, but I'm adaptable. I'm sure there are other patterns out there I could have used, but sweetie was getting impatient with the movie being paused). I pulled out some blue worsted-weight wool from the box under the couch that houses my measly excuse for a stash and casted on. One evening - one glove. Second evening and the pair was complete. Can't do that with laceweight :-)

n: Cigar from Knitty
Modifications: I made all of the fingers short, instead of two being full length as in the pattern
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, Colour 77115 (New Denim)
Needles: 3.5mm dpns

But you know you can't keep me away from laceweight for long. Guess what this is?

Yes, it's the beginnings of a duplicate of the scarf I sent my ISE Pal. I need one for myself! And I've had several people ask for the pattern, so I've done an electronic version of the chart (I had charted it by hand the first time, as the book only has it in written form, and it's a hard pattern to follow with written instructions only, but quite easy from a chart) and written up the pattern. I made a couple of slight adjustments in the chart, so I need to make it through one full repeat of the pattern to make sure all is correct and then I'll make the pattern available (free) on my blog.

And what is that modelling the nascent scarf, you ask? Why, that's my Hugg-a-Planet globe pillow.

Everyone needs to hug the earth once in a while.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Travel Knitting

Long entry today. While I was travelling I had pretty slow internet access (when I had it at all) so I kept most of the pictures until now to show.

The trip is over - I am now back at home and pretty much in the right time zone.

One of the things I love about travelling is how much knitting time I get. Just the trip there and back yields hours and hours of uninterrupted knitting time. The trip home went like this:

Maputo Airport - 1 hour
Maputo - Johannesburg - 1 hour
Johannesburg Airport - 2 hours
Johannesburg - Zurich - 11 hours
Zurich Airport - 6 hours
Zurich - Montreal - 7 hours

Montreal Airport - 1 hour
Montreal - Ottawa (bus) - 2 hours

Total: 31 hours

Now, a non-knitter would see that as an infernally long trip. Well, so do I, but at least I can knit. My biggest fear is that they will uncover a planned terrorist plot involving knitting needles and they will get banned. I think if that happens I will need to change careers. I've heard that some security personnel can get over-zealous and won't allow knitting needles, even though they're specifically allowed (at least in Canada and in the US) but I've never had a problem. I only use circulars or dpns though - maybe straight needles seem more like weapons or something.

And then there's the knitting time while I'm there. Evenings alone in hotel rooms. Many hours in vehicles getting to remote places - all time to knit, knit, knit.

So, now that I'm back, do I have anything to show? You bet I do.

First off, my International Scarf Exchange scarf got started and finished and will be sent off to the recipient in a couple of days, along with a couple of extra goodies. I hope she likes it! It was a great travel project - small and lightweight, with an interesting pattern. I really loved working this pattern. I decided to keep it simple, with just a garter stitch border, to let the stitch pattern have all the attention.

Pattern: my own. The stitch pattern is Rose Trellis Lace from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Page 116
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace Weight, Colour 0588 (Red), 1 skein

Needles: Knitpicks Classic Circular, US 1, 2.5mm
Dimensions: 7" x 43" unblocked. 8" x 66" blocked

I showed the baby sweater I was working on when I left (and finishing on my first flight) in an earlier post, but here it is modelled by the recipient:

Pattern: Crayons from Mission Falls Wee Knits
Modifications: I made it a cardigan instead of a pullover (following the pattern for Colours, from the same book)
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, in colours 207 (Chili), 200 (Musk), 406 (Lilac), 401 (Chicory) and 204 (Lentil), 1 skein each
Needles: Knitpicks Options, 3.
5mm and 4 mm

I finished a pair of socks that I had been working on before I left:

Pattern: Wendy's Generic Toe-up Sock pattern, with a figure 8 toe and a short-row heel
Yarn: Socks that Rock lightweight, Colour: Falcon's Eye
Needles: 2.25mm bamboo dpns

I also finished another scarf that I had been working on before I left.

Pattern: My so-called scarf
Modifications: I cast on 36 stitches instead of 30. I added a fringe.
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay, Colour 105 (Lava), 2 skeins
Needles: Knitpicks Options, US 11 (8mm)
Dimensions: 6" x 62", plus fringe

I finished the ISE lace scarf on the way home, with many hours still to go. I had a new pair of socks on the go, but I don't like working on dpns on the plane. I'm a klutz at the best of times, and even more when I'm tired. I am forever dropping needles and needing to search for them. When you drop a needle on an airplane seat, it goes into a void, never to be found again. Ask me how I know. That's why I only use circular needles on the plane. Much harder to lose (though I did manage to leave one on the Swiss Air bus from Ottawa to Montreal. Upon my return, I asked about it. The bus driver remembered finding it and turning it in to Lost and Found where, I learned, they keep things for 2 weeks. It was a 3 week trip. I guess I'll be adding a US 4 tip and 24" cable with my next Knitpicks order)

So armed with some leftover yarn from the cotton baby sweater (including a ball of off-white that I ended up not using, as I didn't like it with the other colours) and Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, I played around with some stitch patterns and created a couple of fun dishcloths

Pattern: Tilting Block Pattern, BW2, Page 263
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, Colour 102 (Ivory)
Needles: Knitpicks Options, 4.5mm

Pattern: Tuscan Pattern, BW2, Page 53. I cast-off using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Cast-on Cast-off from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac, which I also had with me. I liked how the bottom and top edges matched, so I continued the embroidered look along the sides.
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, Colours 200 (Musk) and 401 (Chicory)
Needles: Knitpicks Options, 4.5mm

I currently have no big projects on the go (gasp). While I wait to be inspired (which I'm sure won't take long), I've decided to start on some Dulaan knitting. I've not done any charity knitting before, except for the hat I "designed" a Chemo Cap competition, which turned out so incredibly ugly it has been stuffed into a plastic bag in the bottom of my knitting basket until I can find the strength to look at it and unravel it. Yes, it really is that ugly. Hideously ugly. If you don't believe me, ask Andrea and Amanda from my work knitting group - they're the only ones who saw it. And don't ask me to show it, I think it would break my camera if I tried to take a picture. Some day I'll recycle the yarn and make something pretty out of it - but I'm not ready to face it yet.

Anyway, knitting kids stuff is quick and fun, and since I don't have any kids to knit for, I'll knit for some children in Mongolia. I signed up for Ryan's Dulaan 10,000 or Bust. Here's my first item:

Pattern: Child's Mitten
Yarn: Lang Jawoll Color Superwash sock yarn, colour 82.0030, doubled.
Needles: 4mm bamboo dpns

I bought this yarn when I first started making socks and then decided that I hated it and would never make socks from it. Makes cute kiddie mittens though - I may make a matching hat from it.

Yeah, I've done some knitting.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SP9 Questionnaire

I'm on my way home - I'm writing this from the Zurich airport, between flights. I've been getting lots of knitting done - I'll update on those from home once I've semi-recovered from the travel and jet lag.

Meanwhile, I've had such fun with the International Scarf Exchange, I've decided to join the Secret Pal 9 exchange. Here is my questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I definitely prefer natural fibers. Lately I've been enjoying knitting with Merino and Alpaca. I don't like novelty yarns or really fuzzy yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

My circulars, dpns and hooks are stored in ziploc bags in a plastic storage container. My straight needles are stored loose in the same storage container.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting since I was a child - I learned from my mother. I guess I'd say advanced, although I still have lots to learn!

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?


5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)

I don't like strongly scented things. I definitely don't like scented bath products. I do like scented candles, but not floral scents.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I'm trying to keep my sweets intake to a minimum - but a special treat once in a while is always welcome, in small quantities! I do have a weakness for dark chocolate - and that's almost medicinal, right?

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I don't spin. I don't really do any other crafts except knitting. I can crochet, but I don't do it very regularly.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like most music, except country and religious music.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

My favourite colour is definitely orange. All shades of orange. I also like greens (especially mossy and olivy greens), dark reds, neutrals. I like purples and blues, but they don't look great on me so I don't wear them much. I can't stand pastels and I'm not really fond of pink.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm married, and we have a 10-year-old dog named Macha

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I don't wear ponchos. I wear hats when it's really cold (and it can get pretty cold in Ottawa in the winter. I do wear scarves and mittens/gloves (I have long narrow hands)

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Lace. I'm currently hooked on lace. I also like knitting socks, though I generally just do plain, toe-up stockinette socks as they're my commuting project and so mindless knitting is best.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A lace scarf (for the International Scarf Exchange), two pairs of socks and a dishcloth

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?


15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Circular (and dpns for socks). I never use straight needles anymore. I use mainly bamboo dpns and nickle-plated circs.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

yes to both

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

about 6 months.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I don't celebrate holidays much. I'd have to say Hallowe'en, I guess. I don't celebrate Christmas.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

knitting books!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I've just started discovering handspun and/or handpainted yarns and loving them. I'd love to try rosewood dpns for socks. I subscribe to Vogue knitting and Interweave Knits

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Fair Isle. I haven't done it in over 20 years, and hated it because I was too slow at it. I love the look though, so I've started practicing English knitting without letting go of the needle (I knit Continental) so that I can hold one strand in each hand. I'll probably start with mittens, or some other small project.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, I knit socks. My feet are 10" long, 9" around the foot and 11" around the calf.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

March 14

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Meeting knitters in the most unlikely of places

I decided when I started this blog that it would be primarily about knitting, and that I would not talk about my work. Although I have a great job that I love, blogging is personal time, not work time! I thought that keeping my work world and my knitting world separate was the best thing for me to do.

So then what to do when those two world firmly collide, which is what happened last week? In order to talk about one, it is necessary that I share a bit about the other.

I work in the field of international development, and I am currently in Mozambique visiting a number of projects. One of the projects is working simultaneously on issues of Sustainable Livelihoods, HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality. The project is being implemented by Oxfam Canada, who are working with 5 Mozambican organizations, each with a specialization in one of these issues. Some of the project partners work at the national level, and some work at the community level. All are doing incredibly important, wonderful work.

During the first week of my stay here, I went to Manica province to visit some of the on-the-ground work being done by two of these project partners. We flew to Chimoio (located in the central part of the country, near the Zimbabwe border) and then drove several hours north. We visited the two most northern districts of the province, bordering the Zambezi River.

One of the project partners has trained sex workers as HIV/AIDS activitists. Now, when I say "sex workers" please don't think of your stereotypical prostitute working the city streets for drug money. Instead, think desperately poor rural womem with little or no education or opportunities, struggling for basic survival for themselves and their children. Some of these communities are on trucking routes, and sex in exchange for money is often the only source of income these women have. It is also extremely risky, as HIV/AIDs rates in these areas are extremely high.

Don't fret - I'm about to get to the knitting part!

The activitists go out into the communities, and using songs, dances, skits and discussion, educate the communities about HIV/AIDS. We went to visit them at work in one of these communities. After chatting with the activists for a while about their work (very inspiring, I might add), we went to where the community had gathered for the presentation.

Lo and behold, among the community members was a woman knitting! Of course, I spotted her right away. Two or three other members of our group pointed her out to me as well, as of course, I had been knitting on the plane and in the car the whole way, so everone knew I was a knitter! She had a baby in her arms, and a toddler at her feet, and she was knitting
away while watching the presentation

I had never seen anyone in Mozambique knitting before (and I have been to lots of rural communities over the past few years). I was so excited. Once the presentation was over, I went up to talk to her (through a translator). Apparently, she had learned years ago from a missionary. It is not easy to find yarn where she is, so she recycles yarn from discarded sweaters and uses that yarn to make things for her babies.

We didn't have long to chat, but when I told her that I also knit, we had an instant connection to each other, although our lives are worlds apart.

When we flew back to Maputo (the capital), one of my colleagues told me at the airport that he had been sitting next to an Australian woman who was knitting as well. He introduced me to her as we awaited our luggage, and we chatted about knitting for a few minutes.

Such a bond we have, we knitters of the world.