This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Twenty-four Inchs, or Bust!

Whenever I start a new circular project that isn't a hat, my friend Valaree reminds me that the Sainted Elizabeth Zimmerman insisted that no one needs circular needles that have a cable longer than 24 inches. I do not know if this is true (and I suppose, with my mad librarian skillz, I could ascertain if it were), but I suppose it is. That said, what the hell am I doing knitting a cowl (I almost typed, "scowl") on 24 inch circulars? There are well over 200 stitches of worsted weight Madeleine Tosh cast on for this project, and the damned thing is all bunched up together. Elizabeth Zimmerman may well have been able to knit hundreds of stitches on 24 inches, but I, alas, am no Elizabeth Zimmerman. I look at it and have a hard time getting a sense of what it's supposed to look like, and how many iterations of the pattern I'd like to do (the pattern calls for five, but I'm using a heavier weight than the pattern calls for, so I'm thinking three). Elizabeth Zimmerman, you may be the patron saint and goddess of knitting, but 24 inch circs are not always the ideal needles for every project!

There. I feel better now, having got that off my chest. I mean, seriously, what would I do with a sweater knit in the round in bulky yarn (my favourite sweaters!)? I doubt I could get almost 300 stitches of bulky weight yarn on 24 inch circs. What, never! No, never! And we won't go further with the lyrics from that song.  What's sauce for the goose may well be sauce for the gander, but not for the swan, the hen, nor the pheasant. What worked for Saint Elizabeth will not necessarily work for me. I shall knit future projects on circular needles I deem appropriate, and if that causes Elizabeth to spin in her grave, well, we'll then consider the soil well aerated.

I feel so relieved.

Here is my Milanese Loop cowl, for Siobhan (the pattern is free and can be found on Ravelry). The yarn is Madeleine Tosh, Betty Draper's Blue, Limited Edition.

You can see how the poor thing is all bunched up and unhappy on that 24 inch circular needle.
But I am loving what I can see of it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I am not a monogamous knitter. At any given time, I'll have two, three, fourteen projects on the needles. Sitting here, in the internet cafe, I can think of at least nine eleven twelve projects I've got going. There's Libby's scarf, my scarf, Paul's scarf. Then there's Kristen's cowl, Siobhan's cowl, and the scarves for Grace and Maddy. Miz Kitty's big alpaca shawl. Corey's scarf that never ends. I don't even want to think about the lace shawls I've got going, from which I've taken a little "vacation". And all the projects I'm planning and for which I've bought yarn. No, I'm not even going to go there.

Part of the situation is that when something gets too big and doesn't fit easily into my backpack, it becomes at-home-knitting, and I spend very little time at home, which means that I don't work on these projects very often. Or lace things that require thought and attention and counting. I can't bring those to knit-night, because I can't participate in the conversations around me, because I'm too busy making sure I'm knitting two together and making yarn overs in the right spots. Which might be why I make so many scarves and hats: they're mobile! And, being the yarn whore that I am, I want to start using the yarn that I buy right away, so I often buy needles to go with it so I can start working with it on the train trip home from the yarn store. Which might explain why I have nine or twelve size 6 circular needles, all 16 inches. Oi.

But now I am deep in the throes of my holiday knitting. I have decided, for the sake of my sanity, that I will only knit one project at a time. I will finish, in some order, the projects I've got going (since most of them are holiday presents of one sort or another), and not drive myself crazy. Of course, I do get a little bored sometimes (the knit-one-purl-one of yet another Noro Striped Scarf is putting me to sleep!), but I am persevering. In fact, I've got about another 50 rows to go on that damn striped scarf before I can bind it off. After this I'll finish Siobhan's cowl. Then Kristen's. Then Grace's and Maddy's scarves. Somehow I have to get Miz Kitty's shawl in there, too.

Monogamous knitting is a challenge to me, but maybe I'll get everything done on time this year. Unlike last year. No, don't let's think about last year. Quelle debacle! (That's French.)

Oh, and I don't even want to think about the baby sweaters I need to start. I wonder what kind of yarn I'll buy for those? Or maybe I should just shop my stash.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I had to buy two more bins this past weekend for my ever-growing yarn collection. I am now up to 21 bins. I know that some people have a lot more yarn than I do, but I can only knit so fast, and I don't always remember what's in the bins (yeah, yeah, gotta get it all catalogued). My friend Sue came up with a twelve step programme for yarn buyers, and with due respects to AA, I offer it here.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over yarn, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, then quickly dismissed this idea.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and knitting of natural fibres as we understand them.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our freezers (and bins, and closets, and underwear drawers, and crawl spaces).
  5. Admitted to God, but not to ourselves, or to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, because we have none.
  6. Were entirely ready to have friends remove all these remnants and then remembered item #2 and hid everything.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove. . . wait. . . humbly? Pshaw!
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends by sucking up to them with knitted fineries.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would require using any yarn that I wanted to keep for myself. Forever.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. Said no knitter. Ever.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with yarn, as we understood it, praying only for knowledge of yarn's will for us and the power to carry that out. Then realising this is a giant FAIL.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other knitters, and to practise these principles in all our affairs. Alas, affairs bite us in the ass, and so we turn to knitting.