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Knitting Sisyphus and the Boyfriend Sweater Curse

As a knitter, you often hear tales of superstitions associated with knitted gifts. Or, if not, you have at the very least experienced the dread that the item you’ve dedicated countless hours of your life to, sacrificed your already dwindling sanity to, lovingly donated blood and tears to, might just be under appreciated by its intended recipient.

Back in September, I decided to knit a sweater for my boyfriend as a Christmas present. S is very deserving of a hand knit sweater. I figured that four months would be a fairly generous amount of time in which to complete the project, and since S lives in a different province, I didn’t worry that I would have to lose time “hiding” my knitting.

Now at this point, for those of you who are non-knitters, I will tell you that the “boyfriend sweater” is a cursed project. Knitting lore has it that knitting your boyfriend a sweater will bring about the dissolution of your relationship, and that somehow, the sweater itself will be instrumental in this dissolution. The only thing I found “cursed” about this sweater was the process. And all of the issues, every last little one of them, well now, they were my own fault (*grins sheepishly*).

I could have helped myself. I could have made it so this project didn’t turn me into Knitting Sisyphus winding a giant ball of yarn up a hill, just to have it unravel down the other side.

For starters, I could have helped myself by choosing a less complicated pattern, but I have yet to discover a Brooklyn Tweed Addicts Anonymous group out there to help address my addiction.

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The sweater pattern I chose was Jared Flood’s “Timberline” cardigan, from the BT Men collection. I really love how every pattern in the BT collection has little details that teach new skills, and make the finished products absolutely stellar. For “Timberline”, the tubular cast-on and I-cord edging make everything look so finished, but the complicated cable pattern does make it difficult to “mindlessly knit” the thing quickly.

My second issue was with my yarn choice. I selected Briggs & Little, and since I find that BT’s Shelter tends to be a bit thicker than most of the worsted I generally work with, I picked their Light Grey “Heritage” yarn, which is actually an aran-weight yarn.

I ordered it off the Internet, which meant I didn’t actually “feel” the yarn before a sweater’s worth ended up on my doorstep. When it arrived, it looked perfect, but was stiffer and scratchier than I imagined it would be. After washing, the wool will soften, but as I discovered while knitting the first sleeve, the stiffness and thickness of the wool, combined with the fact that my gauge required me to work on needles a half size smaller than the pattern recommends, means that the cables were incredibly difficult to work, and that my hands suffered painfully. I had to purchase replacement yarn.

The second yarn I selected was Cascade Yarn’s Eco +, in colour 8401, which is another light grey. The Eco + is also an aran-weight, but has more give, and is a lot softer than the Heritage. It made things much easier to work with, and in the end, probably stopped me from getting arthritis.

My next issue was actually the fact that I entirely lack the ability to say “no”, and tend to have a bit of knitting related ADHD. I want to knit all the things.

  • People having babies? – Must knit them sweaters and blankets.
  • People want help with their knitting? Hold on, don’t touch anything, I’ll be right over.
  • People want to give hand knit gifts as presents? Hold on, let me grab my needles.
  • New pretty projects on Ravelry? Oh, it’s only commuter knitting.

I am such a knitting pushover and self-enabler.

My last major issue was what I’m calling “the Cable Debacle of 2015”. After completing the body of the sweater, I noticed what I had failed to recognize as I was knitting. I had crossed a cable the wrong way in an early repeat of the pattern. Now, I’m fairly proficient at fixing things, but there were a number of factors that made it impossible to just drop back those six stitches. The only way I could see to fix it was to rip back to the error…40 hours of knitting ago. At this point S was texting K, my housemate, to physically restrain me from doing so.

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I felt the bitter taste of failure at that point. After putting so much time and effort into the sweater, knowing that that one cable was amiss was horribly disappointing, and I really didn’t think I could handle ripping back to fix it. I whined about it on Instagram, and then some other knitter – like an angel garbed in his very own “Timberline”– gave me the solution. He sent me a link to I need orange’s blog post on fixing incorrectly crossed cables by cutting them in the centre, and then kitchener stitching them back the correct way. New skill acquired, and thank you kind stranger wherever you are, you have saved my slightly deranged sanity.

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I did not finish S’s sweater in time for Christmas. Nor did I finish it in time for his birthday. It wasn’t even finished for Valentine’s Day when I went to visit him. (Instead he got a shirt, and his very own knitting lesson.) I finally sewed the buttons on at midnight on Friday. He is coming to visit next weekend, and will finally get his long overdo Christmas sweater. He’s promised to model it.


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In all, I can’t say that I believe in the “curse” so to speak. I certainly wouldn’t have knit a sweater; especially one that gave me so many difficulties, for someone I didn’t think would appreciate it. But I’ll let you know what he says when he gets it…or if he ever puts it in the dryer…DSC_0016 1

AlderModelled

A Little Self Philo-sew-phy

I have always needed a creative outlet. I am not unique in this; I am sure many others also have reason to make this same claim. But I find that I need to be doing something tactile, whether it be knitting, painting, sewing, baking, etc., in order to keep me in what resembles a metaphoric balance, especially during some of life’s more trying times. I have always found myself to be in a minor state of trepidation when it comes to change, and when I find myself in states of change – I find myself getting increasingly crafty. Recently, with the change of term coming on, I avoided my blossoming anxiety by learning how to sew. You might remember my foray into project bags, and my Victory Pattern’s Madelaine. Well, I continued on the “skirt tails” of those projects by attempting Grainline Studio’s Alder Shirtdress. I had seen the pattern the last time I went to The Workroom, but hadn’t been completely confident in my “sewing prowess”, so I had chosen the Madeleine pattern I discussed in the last post. But once I was finished the skirt, finding it was easier than I remembered, I convinced myself that I was sewing “invincible” and returned to purchase the needed materials. The salesgirl smartly talked me out of attempting to do view B, the one with the gathered skirt attachment, and suggested that I would learn a lot from view A. I was convinced that I was going to do view B, up until the moment I Alderpatternstarted tracing out the pattern pieces. It was obvious to even over-confident little me, that the jump from a pattern consisting of 3 pieces, to one that had around 15 pieces, was going to be challenging enough without the additional skirt section. Jen from Grainline Studios has an amazing sew-along for the Alder Shirtdress pattern on her blog, which was invaluable. I didn’t actually read the instructions that were included in my pattern; I just followed along with the blog. I think, had I been left to my own devices, I would have screwed something up. The first thing I did was trace out the pattern. I had to make a full-bust-adjustment, which Jen explains in the sew along, because all of my body parts fall in the size 10 range, except for my bosom, which falls…well, a few sizes larger than that. So instead of settling for a dress that was mostly sizes too big everywhere else, I made the adjustments by tracing out the size 10, cutting my traced pattern to give the needed space in the bust, and then retracing it and narrowing out the body back to the correct size below.PatternTracing Fullbustadjustment Once I drew everything out, I cut out all the pieces and followed the very detailed and well written instructions on the sew-along. I only had a slight issue when sewing the AlderModelledsides together, but that was due to my own indecision as I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to serge them or work french seams. I opted for french seams, after having stitched the sides together, so I had to seam rip them both and rework them. Luckily, I had added a bit of extra room when doing the adjustment to the bust, so despite losing a little bit on the sides for the french seams, it still fits perfectly! I am incredibly happy with how it turned out, but I am really glad I opted for view A, instead of B, because it was quite a lot of work. I have future plans to make it again, but for now, I’ll be putting all my crafty efforts on the knitting of the boyfriend’s sweater, so that it may have the potential of being the “belated Christmas/Birthday present, and on-time Valentine’s present”. Wish me luck with that one.

It’s Not Knitting!

It seems like I’ve gone all sorts of crafty crazy this past week, and I’ve needed something a little different from my normal ‘knit-all-the-things’ therapy to fill the void. Don’t get me wrong, knitting is still the thing that I crave to be doing every waking moment when my hands aren’t otherwise engaged, but I think in the aftermath of Christmas knitting, and a brief bit of knitting for hire, even I, a self-diagnosed compulsive knitting addict, need a slight change.

It is important that I give myself a brief respite. It would be devastating to my sanity for my knitting to become chore-like, as it is my salvation from many worldly anxieties, tedious subway rides, and infrequent long waits in doctors’ offices. And I haven’t even given up knitting completely on this ‘break’ either; I’ve managed to add a few inches to the boyfriend’s “late and getting later” Christmas present, Jared Flood’s Timberline cardigan, and I’m also carrying around Alexis Winslow’s Arrowhead Mittens when commuting (knitting is magical; it makes public transit almost bearable). But over the past week, I have been rediscovering an old crafty love I had forgotten about, and that love is sewing.

What started off as a knitting related sewing experiment ( I was only attempting to make a cute project bag for the aforementioned Arrowhead Mittens) ended up allputtogetherbecoming a full scale garment construction project. I started off by following the Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial from Jeni Baker’s  In Colour Order, using three fat quarters to create two adorable project bags for small knitting projects. The pattern is incredibly easy to follow, and the bag is simple to put together. Inside

I resisted the urge to run out to the nearest fabric store and buy up as many fat quarters as I could lay my hands on, and instead decided that I might set the bar a little higher and attempt to make a skirt.

There is this little independent clothing shop near my apartment that sells wonderful vintage inspired clothing, and a few months ago they had this beautiful turquoise and black polka dotted full circle skirt with a shaped waistband. I seriously coveted it, but they only had one remaining and it was a size xs, so while covet it I might, wear it I could not. A few weeks ago, they moved the skirt to the front window of the shop, as if they were trying to taunt me with what I could not have. But this got me thinking, certainly if I could manage to make a bag, I could also make a skirt, right?

So on the weekend I headed down to The Workroom, and had the ladies in the store steer me towards some appropriate materials. There were a few options for patterns, but I ended up selecting Victory Patterns Madeleine for the skirt, and a nice chambray fabric to construct it out of. With all my bits and bobs paid for, I headed home for an afternoon of sewing. Pattern

The original Madeleine pattern is designed with exterior pockets, suspenders, and a straight waistband. I opted to forgo the pockets and suspenders, and changed the waistband to the shaped style I had been coveting. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure how to modify the waistband, and my Pinterest searches turned out to be fruitless, so I improvised by folding the waistband pattern blueprint for the size I wanted in half, and then added the shaped peaks to the centre in scrap pattern paper. Instead of cutting only one waist piece, I cut two, added interfacing to both, placed right sides together, and sewed them together along the shaped edge. I then followed the pattern as written for the remainder of the waistband. Finished Skirt

I am actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I am not embarrassed to wear it out in public, which is more than I can say for some of the creations I sewed together in my high school days.

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Babies Abound!

It seems like I’ve reached the time in my life where everyone around me is having babies. It signifies an important change in my life – I’m fully out of the “carefree” days of university and have been for over half a decade now. The realization does make me more than just a little apprehensive. But while I feel in my more terrified moments like attempting to claw my way back down the ageing process to twenty-five, it seems as if those around me are barrelling headlong into their married and maternal grown-up lives.

Featured imageI am happy for them, and I mean that in a way free of judgement. I have a strong belief that we all make the choices in life to do what makes us happy, and that those choices will be different for everyone, because happiness is so diverse. So I am not jealous or envious of my friends who are embarking on their parental journeys, I am just overjoyed for them. And…it is to my complete and utter satisfaction that I get an excuse to knit all manner of adorable baby things. *squee*

This past week I’ve been knitting Ysolda‘s Wee Chickadee cardigan for a coworker of mine who has just started her maternity leave. I found the pattern on Ravelry, and proceeded to dive through my ever growing stash (I can no longer sleep and store all my yarn in the same room, there just isn’t the space) to surface with a few skeins and some partial balls of Malabrigo Sock. I had a mild shock when I came to the realization that my stash has grown, seemingly without my knowledge, as I worked out more than six unique colour combinations in the correct yarn weight.

The pattern itself is easy to follow, and incredibly quick to knit up, as I cast on and bound off before the week was out. It is all buttoned and wrapped up and waiting to go out in the post tomorrow.

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Pioneer Tavern Road

I hope everyone has been having a spectacular New Year, and the holiday season has been good to everyone. Somehow I always feel like the holidays should be more relaxing and productive than they end up being. But I have had a chance to. Do a little bit of fibre related fun.
One of my colleagues has lent me her spinning wheel! I know I’ve mentioned before that I do make yarn on a drop spindle from time to time, but I have never used a spinning wheel. She gave me and another friend a lesson on it, and has let me borrow her wheel for a little while. I think I am starting to get the hang of it now. I have been spinning up this lovely orange yarn that is a mix of merino and silk. The silk is shiny and white through the orange dyed merino, so I’ve started calling the yarn creamcicle.
Here are some pictures from the ‘spinning adventure’

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Joni

And like a creature from the black lagoon I have found my way back to the bog…I mean…blog, with really bad puns.

I get those from my father.

I get a lot of stuff from my father. Genetics, migraines, a love of history, a hard time…and a love of music.

My father tends to like what we now call “classic rock” although I guess he may have just called it “rock” in the past…him being…classic and all.

He has always introduced me to classic rock, which led me to my own discovery of music and my metaphoric introduction to Joni Mitchell somewhere along the way. I think she is fabulous and her lyrics can make me cry. (I’d say they speak to my soul, if I didn’t think you’d classify me as melodramatic.)

Anyways, I’ve got a nifty little Joni Mitchell inspired headband pattern to share with Y’all! (I’m wearing my cowboy boots at the moment so I feel entitled to pretend to be western although the closest I’ve come to a cow or a horse in the last decade would be the commute down Highway 11 from work to home or the cottage.)

Joni :  JoniPattern

Happy Knitting!

Leigh

Petrichor

It has been raining on and off all day today, so I’ve set about creating some art inspired by the present state of the weather. It has been a while since I’ve drawn anything, and it was nice to feel the urge to draw something.

I’ve learned a new word today. The word petrichor refers to the aroma that comes along with the rain. I never knew there was a word for that particular smell. If you’re interested in learning more words that describe different sorts of rainy weather, I suggest you check out William Hartston’s article “Words to Save for a Rainy Day.”

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