Monday, September 28, 2009

Sigh

I've been telling myself that I shall not cast on something new until I finish up an existing project. Not that I have tons of things in various stages of completion kicking about - there's really just two. One's a sock, the second sock in a pair of Snicket Socks. The other's a cardigan - the Cropped Cardigan with Leaf Ties. I need to do a couple of pattern repeats for the leg of the sock, then some ribbing, and then bind off. For the cardigan, I've got the body and sleeves done, I'm just working the i-cord edging. This is why I've imposed this limit on starting something else - these are both so close to being done, and then I'd have usable items!

I was almost done with the i-cord edging on the cardi too, but as I was travelling down the left front with it last night, I started wondering about the collar. It seemed to be curling more than I would expect it to. Granted, this is the first time I've done applied i-cord, so what do I know, but just looking at the curl-taming effect the edging had on the right front, and seeing the absence of that effect on the collar, started to make my brain twitch. So I took a closer look. It looked like the fabric was being stretched apart a bit where the i-cord attached. In my worry about not picking up enough stitches and causing puckering, I seem to have picked up too many instead, causing the edge to fan out and then curl on itself.

This means that tonight, I'll be ripping back from nearly the end of the left front - I think I have about four inches left to go - all the way to the front of the right shoulder, and try it again. Gah.

That hat I've been putting off is looking seriously tempting, especially since the weather forecast is calling for some snow this coming weekend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I like about you

Recently, I was travelling by plane. In anticipation of the hours of relative captivity, I had packed myself a cake of sock yarn and a set of DPNs, to pass the time in transit.

My flight was really a series of two flights, and on the first leg, which was shorter, I happened to be seated next to a very chatty fellow. I boarded the plane, found my seat, settled in, pulled out my in-flight entertainment materials, but then this man started chatting me up. He was friendly, so I indulged him and was friendly right back. Normally, when this happens, it doesn't really last very long - we chat for a bit, but after a short while the stranger will usually get distracted with something else and stop talking to me, at which point I can get back to my own diversions. I feel like it would probably be perceived as me being impolite if I were to knit while talking casually with a total stranger. I'm not a very good conversationalist, so these sorts of little chats tend to be short - I guess I'm not very interesting.

Except to this guy. This guy had travelled the globe, and in his travels had become interested in the wide variety of languages he's encountered along the way. So it turns out I had some things to say that he found pretty interesting, and we chatted about language variation and language learning for the whole flight. It was a pretty short flight - 45 minutes gate to gate - but still, that's a record for me talking to a stranger.

Anyway, towards the tail end of the flight - probably as we were beginning our descent - he worked up the nerve to ask me about the weird little packet that was sitting in my lap. The yarn cake. I had taken it out immediately, but hadn't actually started working because he'd been chatty. He asked me what it was, and I told him it was yarn for knitting. He looked surprised, and said to me, "Wow. You don't look like a knitter." I just chuckled and put it away, knowing I wasn't going to be casting on during this flight anyhow, so I might as well stow it now instead of in the rush to get off the plane. I was pretty sure I knew what he meant when he said what he did, but he continued on to be crystal clear: "I mean, you're not a grandma."

This is the stereotypical image of the person who knits. The person is an elderly woman, and she's knitting ugly chunky sweaters for unfortunate family members and friends. Even when I hear the word knit, if I haven't got my own projects on my mind, this stereotype flashes through my head.

The friendly guy didn't dwell on my knitting for very long - my potentially neverending monologue of language information held far more appeal. But I have this feeling that part of him wondered why I would knit. Sometimes people ask me this - not often, but I get the sense that they sort of wonder about it in their heads.

The obvious and quick answer is that I like it. That just leads into another why? though. Not in a you-must-justify-your-hobby-to-me kind of way, and not in a convince-me-why-this-is-a-worthwhile-hobby sort of way either. I don't take offense. But it did get me thinking. What's the appeal here?

Well. I like the process of knitting. I enjoy having my hands occupied, I love the feel of the yarn in my fingers, I find the action of forming endless stitches on the needles very soothing, and when knitting with variegated yarns, I find the ever-changing alignment of colours in the stitches as they form to be quite entertaining.

Then there's the productivity aspect of it. I like video games, but when I play there's a small twinge of guilt that I'm spending time on an activity that gains me nothing in the real world - no skills, no remuneration, no tangible product. I still do it, because it's pure entertainment, which we all need. Knitting, though, is also entertainment for me, but it satisfies that part of me that feels like one always ought to get something for one's efforts and time spent. I knit, I'm entertained, and at the end, I have a usable garment. Wonderful.

Then there's the creativity of it. By combining different yarns, different colours, and different patterns, I get to create utterly unique items. How can you go wrong with that?

Finally, there's the ego boost. Knitting makes me feel ever so clever! I mean think about it - you start with some sticks, and a length of string, and using just these and your hands you make stitches that end up becoming fabric. You're not limited in the shape of the fabric being created either - you can create squares and rectangles, or tubes, or really any shape that you need for your garment, like raglan increases for the sleeves of a sweater. You can also manipulate the stitches as you make them to make your fabric take on a certain texture - ribbed, garter stitch, seed stitch, cables, bobbles, lace. You're doing all this with just sticks and string. How can you do all that with such simple items, and not feel like a clever cookie?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Knitzi

My sister got me a Knitzi for my birthday! No more worrying about broken DPNs on my travelling socks! No more accidentally pulling the needle out of the live stitches! No more randomly knocking the spare needles around and losing them for months at a time! Plus it's very pleasant to the touch - lovely smooth polished wood. It looks nice, but not fussy.

I'm pretty thrilled. Can you tell?

Got my fix!

Ha! I placed another Eat.Sleep.Knit order on 2 September, and it arrived today!

I gleefully opened the box, hauled out the seven (7!) skeins of yarn I purchased, snuggled them all, and then rushed upstairs to the good-light-spot to take some pictures - I just use the camera in my iPhone, I find it seems to work pretty well. Perhaps I'm just not overly fussy when it comes to photodocumenting my yarn and knitworks. Which is an interesting change from my usual mode of operations where everything. Must. Be. Just. So.

So I've updated my stash database on Ravelry and am eagerly looking forward to making myself a hat! Three of these skeins were ordered with the intent of making myself some hats for Canadian not-summer. I've become completely enamoured with Stella, and have a suspicion that this hat style will actually look good on me, as opposed to beanie-style hats, which make me look a bit like a mushroom head - think of the Toad character from the world of Super Mario. I'm anxious to get started.

But I still have a second sleeve to work on a cardigan sweater, plus the applied i-cord edging on the neckline, and I'm in a bit of a hurry to have that done - having it available would dramatically increase the size of my appropriate-for-work top inventory. So I feel like I should finish that off before I cast on for this hat.

Besides, the weather forecast for the next week is still in the summer range. I still have a bit of time before not-summer kicks in.

Famous last words, right? Right up there with, Hats are quick knits.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

D'oh!

So I was knitting on the plane last night, and just as we were rumbling along towards the runway, I had a klutz attack and dropped one of my ebony Lantern Moon Sox Stix - it clattered off between the window and my seat.

And. I. Could. Not. Find. It.

I peeled back my seat cushion a bit to reveal the space between the window and the seat, but it didn't look like there was anywhere for it to have gone - there was a funny grate thing, but in order for the needle to have gone in there it would have had to bend. So it must have gone onto the floor.

I squiggled around in my seat, trying to look under my seat, trying to see the floorspace behind my seat. It didn't work very well, though I was pretty sure I did not see it on the floor near the window/wall of the airplane. The stranger beside me must have thought I was more than a little screwy, but he kindly offered to keep an eye out for flight attendants while I quickly took off my seat belt and hunkered down on the floor to get a better look, and asked his daughter (behind me) to move her bag a bit and see if she could see a 'little knitting needle'.

I. Could. Not. Find. It.

And I figured I'd better not try for too long, since I didn't want to be out of my seat when the plane actually started accelerating for take off.

I took another quick look before I got off the plane once we had landed again, but saw nothing. It is gone, and that makes me sad.