Monday, April 30, 2007

Another quickie post for SP10 Robyn's group - contest#4.
Q: What is the oldest yarn in your stash? Show us a picture, tell us when you bought it and why you bought it. Was there an intended project or did it just call your name and you wanted to own it just to pet?...

This stuff is Casablanca Grand Cable from Stahlsche Wolle, 68% cotton 32% acrylic worsted weight. It is at least 20 years old - the ball band says "made in West Germany". I bought tons of these at Simpsons (a store now long nonexistent) for 79 cents a skein (regularly $1.59). At the same time I picked up great quantities of this stuff in black, ecru, navy blue (what's left after the tragic garbage shute incident) and a burnt orange, but not nearly as much as I got of this saturated fuschia colour.

I probably have about 40 skeins of this fuschia stuff, some of them intact as these 4 are, much of it previously knitted (in the late 80's) and worn and washed and then dissassembled into balls and cakes which I pull out every year about this time and dabble with for a couple of months, promising to (finally) make something with it. As a matter of fact here's my current attempt, sneaking into the picture above.

There's also lots of Anny Blatt wool - worsted weight ("No. 4") in Royal Blue, Tomato Red, Deep Purple and Teal Green, as well as some in a slightly chunkier weight ("No. 6") in a Ballerina Pink - all from that same shopping trip, my first ever stash-building expedition. If I can dig that stuff out, I'll show it to you later.

What can I say - it was the 80's and my tastes ran to hot colours worn with black. And you know what - I still like them!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Yvette left me a comment on my previous post:
Stranded knitting? I'm not familiar with that term
Stranded knitting is the general term for the method used in traditional Norwegian and Fair Isle styles (and other intricate colourwork patterns)where two colours (or more) are used in a single row of knittting. Techknitter just started a series of tutorials on this subject with a terrific introduction. This type of work is called stranded because the non-working strand is carried along as you knit with the other and neatly woven into the wrong side of the fabric as it is being constructed.

Another good reference resource for anyone getting started with two colour stranded knitting is Fair Isle Knitting. There you will find lots of wonderful links to numerous sites offering everything from instructional videos, books and kits to really fabulous free on-line tutorials, and to phenomenal works of eye-candy in this style of craft-art.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fancy Feet and Lacy Longings
As I am utterly and completely addicted to socks and captivated by my new fascination with stranded knitting, I am eager (ahem… understatement) to get my hands on Anna Zilboorg’s sock patterns. Unfortunately, my library has none of her sock books.
Socks for Sandals and Clogs is not hard to find, but what I really want is a copy of either Fancy Feet: Traditional Knitting Patterns of Turkey or Simply Socks: 45 traditional Turkish patterns to knit. The second is really just a reprint of the first, so either will do. In a perfect world, I hope to find someone who inadvertently got both of these books and then realized they are just different editions of the same. Otherwise, I may have to camp on AZ’s doorstep and beg for a reprint.

Meanwhile I am trying to distract myself with other projects – tricky as only accessories are on my to-do list for the present. I’m temporarily avoiding knitting actual garments of a fitted nature for a few months while I train for the 2-day 60-km Weekend to End Breast Cancer. As I’m on an exercise and health kick, it seems foolish to put all the work into making a sweater that will be too big (I hope) in a couple of months.

Hmmm… perhaps some kind of dangerously delectable lace will keep my mind off it for a while. I’m reasonably adept at lace patterning in garments, but I have yet to venture into the labyrinthine intricacy of a true lace-weight knitted shawl. Am I brave (foolish?) enough to attempt some Hyrna Herborgorgeousness, or should I stick with something simpler first?
Well, I finally broke down and ordered the Three-cornered and Long Shawls from Schoolhouse Press. This is a reprint of the near-legendary Icelandic shawl book by Sigridur Halldórsdóttir with instructions and charts for 27 lovely lace shawls and scarves knitted with Icelandic Laceweight or Unspun Icelandic wools and comes with a handy English translation for all the patterns by Marilyn van Keppel. I just wish there was also a translation of the probably fascinating history and shawl-lace knitting lore in the front section of the book.
Mesmerized by all the knitting books offered at Schoolhouse, I simply couldn’t resist getting Poems of Color — Wendy Keele’s beautiful book on the Bohus tradition. And then Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Vests just hopped into my online cart of its own accord. I was also drooling over Donna Druchunas’ Arctic Lace, but I might be able to resist that a while more (or did I order that one too? oh, dear – now it’s all a blur).

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Someone posted a comment on my blog entry from last November where I announced my decision to walk 60km in two days next September in support of the Princess Margaret Hospital and the campaign to End Breast Cancer. The commenter's remarks regarding some pervasive myths about Breast Cancer contain valuable information, so I decided to post them for all to see (because though I am flattered, let's face it: he/she is probably the only one reading as far back as November 2006 in my blog, and even if someone did go digging in my archives, I can't see them going into the comments too!)
Anonymous said... Breast Cancer symptoms:
Common Breast Cancer Myths

The first myth pertaining to this disease is that it only affects women.

Second myth that is associated with this disease is that if one has found a lump during an examination, it is cancer.

Third is that it is solely hereditary

The next myth associated with breast cancer is downright ridiculous. Would you believe, that in this day and age, some individuals still think that breast cancer is contagious?

Conversely, some individuals foolishly believe that breast size determines whether or not one gets cancer.

Finally, another myth that is associated with this disease is that it only affects older people. This is not so. Although the chance of getting breast cancer increases with age, women as young as 18 have been diagnosed with the disease.

You can find a number of helpful informative articles on Breast Cancer symptoms at

Meanwhile, I recently received this from the organizers of The Weekend:
Only 200 spots left!

Your friends and family have probably heard you talking about The Weekend to End Breast Cancer® benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital for some time and they’ve been waiting to decide whether to join you in this amazing adventure.

If you have friends that are interested in registering for The Weekend, forward them this email and let them know that the time to sign up is NOW because there are only 200 spots left!. Very soon, it will be too late for them to join us at this unforgettable weekend. Thanks to the incredible response we’ve received from caring women and men like you, registration for the 2007 Weekend is closing imminently.

Encourage your friends to join us today! They can select here to register, or call us at (416)815-WALK(9255).

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer
Benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital

And remember, you can always sponsor me here or just click on the button at the right near the top of my sidebar the right.

It's really not too early to sponsor me, and the sooner you make your donation, the sooner the funds become available to the Princess Margaret Hospital foundation for use in crucial research and valuable support endeavours.

Any and all donations are welcome and appreciated. However, if it is within your means, please consider making a donation of $100 or $200 or more. As you know, people are more likely to make a larger contribution if they see that other folks have done so already, so your generosity will be contagious! And you'll get a nifty tax receipt to use next year around this time (something I'm sure we are all painfully aware of right about now!).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fair-isle follies

I have been practicing my “other-handed” (ie: English style) knitting with the aim of applying it to some two-handed fair-isle, and I have discovered some interesting discrepancies in my gauge: Both ways are even in and of themselves, but I seem to knit obviously more loosely in my usual continental style than I do in the English way. This means it can affect the pattern prominence in a two-colour pattern. Apparently, in two-colour knitting it makes a difference which colour is carried below (if both are on the same hand) or in the right hand (if using the two-handed method). Either way, that strand will be (if only infinitesimally) farther from the work and a slightly greater amount of that yarn is used in making the stitches, and thus that colour appears to be the dominant one, and in general it’s advisable for that to be the pattern colour…

Meanwhile I’m drooling over library copies of Anna Zilboorg’s 45 Fine & Fanciful Hats and Magnificent Mittens and reading her “Knitting for Anarchists” (love it! love it! love it!). AZ encourages knitters to understand what we are doing instead of just blindly or blithely following instructions for techniques or patterns. She takes her readers step by step from the very first elementary principles about how stitches are formed through some of the most sophisticated techniques. As someone who needs to know why something works the way it does, I find this approach fabulous. Show me the underlying principles, be it a mathematical theorem, a logical proof, a musical form, or a knitting pattern, and I'm off to the races.

This is actually one of my personal peeves: there's something missing from the way we teach math and similar subjects. I was lucky. I could usually see the reason behind the formulas and knowing why they worked made applying them much easier, even (or especially) when deriving theorems from first principles. I was a math tutor in high school. I actually skipped grade 11 math. Well sort of. Instead of taking the class, I was teaching the material, tutoring a girl in grade 12 who had failed it the previous year. We just showed up for tests. And she not only passed, she got an A. Because we took the time to see what's behind the math and explain WHY the methods worked or WHY the theorems made sense.

Later, in university I was very tempted for a while to stay in academic circles specifically in order to teach in early undergrad classes in math and logic in this way. But music is a tempting mistress. When I found myself dropping a later undergrad physics course almost two thirds of the way through because it was interfering with rehearsals for a musical production, I had to acknowlege that without safe and effective human cloning techniques I just had to make a choice and the choice was performing. That was a tough one and to this day I remain an armchair scientist with my nose pressed up against the glass of the halls of academe. But there's no escaping or avoiding the performing addiction. It knows where I live. I can run but I can't hide. Believe me. I tried. And I am finally happily building the eclectic career and life I want.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Quick post for SP10 - contest#3 for Robyn's group.
Post a picture to your blog showing me either your fave pattern ever knitted by you - or your most hated project that once you finished it - you absolutely wondered "Why the heck did I knit this".
Here's my absolutely fave knit and the start of a long addiction: my very first sock ever! That's me last summer at Knitomatic just after I was taught by Haley (also the photographer). I'm the one with the squint and the idiotic grin on my face (Meaghan's behind me wearing her nifty quick shrug).

You really should have seen the look on my face earlier though, right after I finished the toe. I wanted to strut around the streets, chest puffed out like Tom Hanks in Castaway, bellowing: "I HAVE MADE fire A SOCK!" (Fire... meh. Socks will keep your feet warm and wool is even flame retardant so you won't singe your tootsies.)

Number one socks were simple stockinette made according to Wendy's Generic Toe-up Sock Pattern with Koigu KPPPM P115.
I have no pix of the finished socks but they were gifted to my mother and I can tell she loves them because she keeps them tucked in her usual chair in her home office to keep her feet cozy when she's at the computer or taking a nap or watching TV.

As for my most hated WTF was I thinking project - that goes far back in the mists of time to my first sweater knitting attempt (in the late '80s) and I don't have a picture of it, though if I dig through my old knitting mags perhaps I'll find the pattern to show you. The lovely navy blue cotton that I had knit into a sweater fit for Quasimodo became the scapegoat for my frustrated early and naïve gaugeless efforts. I had a full on tantrum during which I wantonly tossed the finished sweater down the apartment garbage shute. My inability to forgive it (or myself) complpetely turned me off knitting for over a dozen years.

But I'm feeling MUCH better now.

Please ignore the twitch.

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Gone, gone, gone, she been gone so long,
she been gone gone gone so long..."

Chilliwack - "My Girl"(1981)

Please stand by. We are experiencing technical difficulties.
We will resume our regularly scheduled posting shortly.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Runagogo! Round 1 Wrap-up.
Week thirteen: [25/3/07-31/3/07]
6.5 miles walke; 7.0 miles biked.
01/4/07 - Week 14, Round 2 begins with: 10k (6.3 miles) in one day!

NO this is not an April Fool's gag. That's my longest one-day walk ever since high school and it beats some of my weekly totals from the winter! I walked and walked and walked.

Yesterday a couple of local creative crafters and I went on our own self-directed training-walk/yarn-crawl. We started by forifying ourselves with brunch at a cute little LYS/cafe, then hauled ourselves and two 8-9 year olds (one boy, one girl, both knitters/crocheters!) on a 5 mile trek through downtown Toronto in search of stringy sustenance for the hands and soul.

Each leg of the journey was between 1-2 miles, then we paused to knit, browse, chat and shop, then we took off for the next purveyor of fibre goodness. I will post later this week about a couple of delicious yarn acquisitions I accidentally made on the way. They just followed me home. Really.

All in all I had a wonderful time. Having no children of my own (that’s if you don’t count the DH), I had a ball living vicariously through other people’s kids. When it was all done, and including the trip to our starting point and the trip home, I had put 5.15 miles under my feet through the day.

Then I came home and despite the blisters and sore feet, I dragged the DH out for another 1.15 mile in the middle of the night. So all told it comes to 6.3 miles which is just over 10 kilometres!

Wow. I am beginning to believe that come September I actually will be able to walk 60 kilometres in two days after all.

I finally had my bike tuned, picked it up last week and so far I’ve already biked 10 miles! I love my bike! I love to ride! It’s so empowering to pedal around the city and get where I need to go under my own steam. Literally. And it burns the best fuel possible - me! But - Owww! I forgot how many hills we have in this town. I live in a freakin’ roller-coaster! Aaaargh…. Well, as I build up the strength and stamina to tackle them, I'll be building the stamina to walk longer distances.

Thanks in large part to RUNAGOGO I have walked 74.80 miles (120 km) since the new year and I am ready to begin training for this event in earnest. That's not quite the hoped for 100 miles by April 1st, but still a very significant total for me, since I started from nearly five years of full-stop sedentary sloth. I should have the rest of my first 100 miles done by the end of next week, and I decided that I will not start counting mileage towards round 2 until after these first 100 are done.

So here I say "Thanks" to Rachael, Scout, Adam and Stephen for organizing this brilliant move-your-a##-along, and "Thanks" to everyone for the daily motivation I get reading your posts and comments. I am looking forward to pushing my personal limits in round 2 - perhaps I will start running. And this time I WILL earn that cool medal!