Archive for July, 2010


A little trimming

I was in the shower this morning, and I started thinking about “The Past.” In November, and on my due date to be exact (November 21), it will be three years since I started this blog. Three very interesting years. In that time I have done a lot of growing, a lot of maturing, and of course I’ve learned a ton about knitting too. Most of the personal growth stemmed from me leaving my ex-husband in January 2008, and starting my life over again. Since then, I have gotten divorced, and begun this great relationship with my spouse, Neil. I am almost 6 months pregnant now, and I couldn’t believe that I had come full circle since I started writing about my humble knitting only about two and a half years ago.

I got started thinking about all this after listening to the latest Anatomy of Knitting Podcast. She got me thinking about the cats I had, and of course, I got all emotional and stuff. I didn’t cry, surprisingly, with all these hormones coursing through me, but I did find it hard to stop thinking about it. When I woke up this morning, my mind was still on the subject, and so I did something I have never done – I looked back to the beginnings of this blog to see what I wrote. I couldn’t do it. I saw pictures of my ex and the cats, and my former step son Brandon, and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t read it, I couldn’t keep it, I couldn’t have that past attached to me anymore.

So, I’m sorry. I deleted them. All the posts up until when I changed the name of this blog from WA Knit Wit (for Washington Knit Wit) to WC Knit Wit, for West Coast Knit Wit, and explained why the change occurred. Everything from 2007, all the 13 posts, are gone, lost into cyber space now. I wish I could say that I maybe regretted that a little bit, but I don’t. It was necessary.

I’m about to start a new life soon. This baby, it will change everything. It will change my habits, my schedule, who I am as a person. I will explore so many new things about myself that I didn’t know. I’m sure I will discover deep down the patience I never thought I had, and the love that I have in my heart. But I can’t extend that love, that acceptance to my ex. I can’t have him attached to me anymore, no matter how vague that connection was. I feel better now that I’ve trimmed those posts, and that part of my life off my blog.

In a way, it kind of feels like a fresh start, and I hope you will all understand why I did it. I’ve moved on, and I think it was high time that my blog showed that too. Yes, it was part of my past, but I think it’s one of those parts that is better if it only exists in my memories, and the memories of the friends and family who were with me during that time period.

And for the record, I still miss my cats. I hope they are doing okay.

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Perspective

On the evening of my birthday, I got a phone call that gave me some serious perspective about my pregnancy. Due to privacy reasons, I won’t tell you what the call was about, only it’s effect on me.

That phone call made me realize that no matter the aches, pains, or discomforts associated with my pregnancy, I am very, VERY fortunate to still be pregnant. This is my first ever pregnancy, and it has been an easy one. Morning sickness was non-existent, I have been able to keep working, my blood sugars are normal, and I crave relatively healthy foods, with only a side of junk now and then. I have been able to stay well hydrated, and except for one nasty flu that had me in emerg twice in three days, well, I’d say I’m doing pretty well.

I am blessed to have stayed pregnant, to have had no complications, and to have a wonderful support system around me. Ever since that evening, I have cherished each kick, roll, somersault, and bump that I have felt in my belly even more. I am thankful that the fates have decided to let me keep my baby, and I don’t think I will ever forget this lesson. If there is a God, or a goddess out there, you have my attention. Thank you.

baby-yoga-1

Blog Theme; Finalized

Well, I finally managed to do it, to come up with the FINAL theme for my blog. I have been unhappy with it for some time. I tried many, many different themes, searched them for hours, and tried to find the perfect one, but it just wasn’t coming together. I asked friends for help, and a couple really did try their hand at it, but alas, my dream was not achievable. But then, I discovered this wonderful thing called the Blogger Template designer, and I fell in love.

Don’t be surprised if a few things change here and there. I may swap around some colors for text, try my hand at inserting a bit of clip art into the mix, but really, I’m just trying to perfect the blog. The background image and the general color scheme, and my title image will not change, those are finalized, but I may decide to play around with other things a bit. I love how I was able to choose my own size for the blog (you use this really cool dragging tool to make the blog and sidebar sizes exactly how you want!), and I think I’ll be able to sneak in some clip-art into the sidebar things, and make it totally my own.

I am also going to be designing a button for my blog, so that all of you who do read it, and want to link back, can! I’ve never really done anything like that before, so I’m going to probably make a muck of it, but hey, I’m no graphic artist, and I’m definitely not tech-savvy. It’ll have to do.

And because I know I’m going to catch a little hell if I don’t mention it, today is my birthday. No, I won’t tell you how old I am (suffice to say that for some of you, it’s going to sound very young, and for others, very old. I’m content with my age, not ashamed of it at all, but for some reason, even in this assertion, I really can’t hack comments about my age. People who call me young make me angry, and people who call me old make me feel queer inside. Just take a wild guess, but don’t expect me to confirm or deny any of them). I don’t really care for my birthdays because in the past, they haven’t always been kind to me. When I was in grade school, I rarely had birthday parties with children and cakes and games, because well, I was born in July. They were all on vacation. And I didn’t have many friends (I was the outcast). When I married and up-and-moved to the States, my birthdays continued to get even more miserable. They ranged from being neglected and almost entirely forgotten, with crappy, thoughtless, last-minute gifts from my ex-husband (Lesbian-themed dvd’s and clothes I wouldn’t wear if someone paid me), to spending it entirely listening to my ex whine about the condition of his ear-ache, and not getting thanked once for having to endure it, and not even getting a “happy birthday” uttered until he came out to the living room at 1am to get mad at me for not coming to bed, and me replying I could fall asleep on the couch on my birthday if I wanted to, then him replying with a sarcastic “happy birthday” and storming off.

The first birthday I had after I left my ex was 2 years ago, and I cried at work. Then I tried to put on a happy face because my paternal grandmother and uncle were coming over for dinner. I did get three very sensational presents – a digital camera, an expansion pack for the Sims 2 (another addiction), and a spa gift card, but when I planned to go out dancing with friends a couple days later, well, everyone bailed on me. I took a lonely taxi drive (pretty darned tipsy too) and cried again.

Last year was a decided improvement. Everyone kept quiet at work – mostly because none of them knew it was happening. My lovely beau Neil made me cupcakes, but we had to eat them fresh out of the fridge, because he iced them with cream cheese icing, and in July, well, that equals a melting blue-icing mess in about 2 minutes unless they are kept chilled. I don’t remember what he gave me for my birthday, except I think maybe one of the presents was a copy of Sense and Sensibility in the edition I wanted from indigo.ca. I think my parents gave me yarn (always a good choice).

This year, I am undecided. I go back and forth between being happy that it was my birthday and I got a spinning wheel for it, and depressed. Then I think about the fact that I get to dictate which take-out I want for dinner tonight and get happy, and then I remember that I might have to endure an encore of “Happy Birthday” and I get blue again. I think about my blessings, and I feel lifted, then I think about the miserable days like this past and I get angry. I have turned instead to a new obsession to keep me from going as mad as a march hare with all this yo-yo emotion-ing. Art Journaling.

I first learned about the concept from a Tranquility Du Jour podcast, and then visited the links from the show notes, and was floored. The links to the two blogs are on the side, Click on the Journaling e-course to see the blog and learn more. It sparked my creativity like never before, and of course, I had to get started the next day. I pulled out scrapbooking supplies, my journal, pens, scissors, and glue and all sorts of things and cranked out several pages in just one day. Here’s a few pictures of my favorites.

artjournal1 artjournal2

artjournal3

Are you as intrigued as I am? I highly recommend Hope’s e-course, at least for giving you excellent ideas on how to make journals like hers, as well as lots of useful tips on supplies, sources, and where to find inspiration. My inspiration bit me hard on the ass. Now visit her blog and look at her pictures and feel that bite too.

Alright, enough sappy blogging for me. I’m on to more art journaling, and stuffing my face with pitas and hummus (the newest pregnancy craving). Au revoir! And yes, I know, bonne fette a moi. (grumble, grumble and possibly butchered French).

Converted: New Knitter

Over the weekend, another woman has joined the ranks of the few, the proud, the brave. The Knitters. Everyone, meet Chelsea:

newknitter

She was one of those people who is a pleasure to teach. She learns fast, is very independent, and only freaked out at stuff that even some seasoned knitters still freak out at (dropped stitches, why is there a hole in my knitting?) and I only need to show her the cable-cast on stitch twice before she cast on the remaining 18, and the knit stitch only twice as well, before she was doing it herself. Yes, her tension went from loose and wonderful to kevlar-tight, but that’s to be expected. If she keeps knitting like this, she’ll be pumping out dishcloths and squares for an afgan soon! By the time she left she had several inches knitted on those Harmony needles of hers – a Christmas present last year, along with a pair of my hand knit socks (I figured it’d be the best way to convert her.. get her wanting more socks, and then BAM! teach her how to knit, and she’s hooked!), and they were fabulous needles to teach on. I am definitely getting myself a few sets of their circulars for shawls and the like.

And while she worked away on that, I was well on my way towards finishing the End of May Mittens.

endofmay3

I finished them on the Sunday, but blocking and drying took awhile. You may note that there appears to be some color bleeding into the white. Well, that’s because there was. I managed to save most of the white by dumping in some vinegar last second, then rinsing away the dye in cold water, but it is my fault for not putting vinegar in the blocking water in the first place. There is even enough of this yarn left over that I could probably get a patterned brim like the flower on the back of the mitten for a hat, and then knit the rest in solid, though I’m not really a big hat wearer. Maybe a head band to cover up my ears? Hmmm..brain storming is happening!

Which means now, I’m left with only my Christmas knitting again, which, for some reason, I have been neglecting. I finished these mittens on Sunday, but I haven’t knit a thing since. If I want to make that deadline though, I’d better get working! Only 18 weeks left or so until Peanut is born…and then after that, I hardly think I’ll have a chance to work on the projects! No more slacking for me…I’m putting my nose to the grind stone now…every other project can wait!

Why I love knitting.

Anytime you do one particular handcraft, you get this question a lot from people who don’t do any handcrafts at all “Why do you like doing _____?” It could be embroidery that you like, or sewing, or scrapbooking, or gardening, or making picture frames out of bent pieces of wire and beads. Sometimes, this question is asked with a sarcastic tone of voice, tempting you to provide them with reasons they can understand about why you wouldn’t just buy whatever it is you are making. Sometimes, this question is asked with wonder. It isn’t too much to imagine machines making certain products, but to do it by hand? This amazes some folks. Some people ask with the curious nature of wanting to know the reasons behind your behavior; they are eternally on the hunt for the puzzle, figuring out motive behind actions, and digging into the human psyche.

Keeping in mind all three of these people is how I decided to approach the answer to this question.

For the skeptic, I provide you with three reasons. The first, is that I am a difficult body type to fit. I am short, I am slim, I have virtually no hips to be seen, and quiet frankly, it’s expensive to have things tailored. Knitting my own garments ensures that I can tailor the piece as I make it, and it will fit me like a glove after. Secondly, machine knit accessories are knit mostly from acrylic yarns, and since I have poor circulation, this means they provide about zero-warmth factor for me in the winter. Therefore, I make my own scarves, hats, mittens, and fingerless gloves out of wool, because they actually keep my extremities insulated. Thirdly, it’s meditative. I have a high-stress job, a 5 year old step-daughter who lives with us part time, and I’m famous in my circle for being a “worrier.” Knitting keeps me from coming unglued around the edges. ‘Nuff said?

For the person in awe, I bow to you. You are my favorite person to answer this question for. I am as much amazed as you sometimes with the results of my work. In order to create what I create, I take two pointy needles, and a ball of yarn, and I pull loops through loops, over and over and over again. Sometimes these loops are knit together, sometimes I make more of them in the right places, but no matter what I do, in the end, it’s all loops. It’s practically magic, and it comes out looking beautiful. It makes my heart sing to see balls of yarn get turned into shawls, lacey socks, scarves, hats, and so many other things. The process of making these objects is enjoyable, and then at the end, I get to enjoy what I make, everyday. I can wear my socks, I can wrap my shawl around my shoulders, I can see how cute Morgan looks in her sunhat. Knitting brings me joy while I do it, and knitting brings me joy after the project is finished.

For the ever-curious one, because I love it. Looking at yarn is like looking at potential. Knitting itself can be so many things – challenging, relaxing, something to do to keep my hands busy, or just plain fun. I can be anticipating the colors on the next row of a self-striping sock yarn, or how to fix a mis-crossed cable ten rows back. Knitting provides me with challenges when my mind needs stimulation, and it provides me with comfort in times of crisis. And then, at the end of all that, I get to enjoy something solid and concrete, something real, something I can show people “I made that!” and it gives me pride in my accomplishments. I’m not a singer, or an actress, no do I have the power to make people weak in the knees with a single glance, I’ve got to have something to show off to others now and again, right?

And for all of you, I do it because I am a history buff. I love history, local history, European, Ancient Egyptian, doesn’t matter. It turns my crank. And knitting, well, it’s a historical thing. There is so much to be learned about how it was done, when it started, what kind of new techniques there are to be discovered, how many old ones we have yet to master. When I knit, I am doing something that millions of people have done for hundreds of years, and it puts me in a Jane Austen or Road to Avonlea kind of feeling. I am connected in a way, a very indirect way, to millions of other knitters, and well, I like that. I like that a lot.

Potential

What I am about to show you will to some appear to simply be yarn. But I disagree, these images are not of yarn, they are of potential. Sheer, unbridled, undecided, ever-changing, potential.

knitpicks

My shipment of yarns from KnitPicks.com, part 2 of my birthday present to myself/from Neil. The round balls in the middle are Palette in Green Tea, Rainforest Heather, and Autumn Heather. I cannot rave enough about the Rainforest Heather. It looks like just heathered green yarn, but there are so many subtle colors in the yarn like blue, purple, and brown. It is beautiful. You should pick that yarn up if you like cool colors, you will be stunned. Autumn Heather has lots of subtle colors, but it’s like dried autumn leaves that have been spun into yarn. It is matte where Rainforest is shimmery, and I love it. The skeins are Gloss in Dolphin and Porcini. The balls on the left and right are Stroll, in Tidepool Heather and Lantana. Lantana is the purple one, and it’s potential lies somewhere in a pair of lacey socks with flowers on them. That is one of those yarns that I saw online and knew exactly what I wanted to knit with them, you’ll just have to wait and see.

My parents made it home safely from their Alaskan cruise that my mother’s family all took together to celebrate her parent’s 50th anniversary, which I was sad to miss out on. Not because it was a cruise (I can’t seem myself as the cruising kind of vacationer, I’m more of a go directly to the place and immerse myself in the area kind of gal), but because of all the beautiful yarn my mother picked up! I definitely felt the jealously string being tugged as she showed me her stash additions, but I know one day, I too will be able to afford lovely yarn like that (plus, I just got a spinning wheel, so I could only be jealous for a minute before I remembered my wheel). She was generous as always, and in addition to a t-shirt for Neil, pajamas for Morgan, a matching onesie for Peanut, stickers, and a fridge magnet, she also picked me up some local Alaskan yarn:

alaskayarn

I’ve decided to pair it with some Patons Classic Wool (and maybe a smidge of Cascade 220 if I have to) to make myself a pair of mittens. These mittens are long overdue. Over the years I have made mittens for my ex and his son, for Morgan, and my former brother and sister in law, but none for myself. I have always admired Latvian mitten patterns and thought I wanted to make a pair, but doing a pair of those in Alaskan yarn seemed well, not quite right. I combed through Ravelry’s pattern database though, and came up with the perfect pattern. End of May Mittens.

endofmay

Check the pattern out on Ravelry, and look at all the lovely pairs that have been made. Some of the color combinations are staggering in their beauty. The light purple is going to be the lining, and the white is going to be the color of the flowers, while the Alaskan Yarn is going to be the darker color, and I love that it’s going to change. I have not ever done an actual project in color stranding, so I’m giving it a try for the first time in a weight of yarn that is comfortable, and project that will be small, and gratifying in how fast it will knit up (I hope). I know it seems silly to be knitting mittens in July, but don’t forget, Peanut comes in November, and I am not going to be caught unawares this winter! I got tired of cheap machine knit gloves last winter, and I promised myself I wouldn’t go another cold and wet season without proper woolen mittens to keep my fingers toasty.

And of course I’m going to update you about the wheel too!

spin7

I bought some Howards furniture polish/finish restorer/preserver from a local antique shop, only to discover last night that it’s a favorite product among the spinning websites I found. I paid a great price for it too, and it comes in bigger bottles. It’s beeswax and orange oil, and it smells fantastic. It also gave my wheel a gleam and shine that it probably hasn’t had since it was made.

I have to give a HUGE thank you to Lori from Oceanwind Knits, one of my mother’s friends, for all her wonderful advice. She helped me figure out how to thread my drive band (which is kitchen twine of all things (which cost about $2.49!!!!!!) and gave me some great tips on how it should feel when I spin it. I just need some oil for it before I actually start to spin my roving on it. I’m a little terrified to start, I don’t want to screw up, you know? But I have to put my perfectionist nature aside and just DO it.

She also gave me some information about my wheel that I hadn’t known. I knew that Nilus wasn’t making their wheels anymore, but I wasn’t aware that my wheel is essentially collector’s item. They stopped making wheels sometime around or after WWII, and she thinks that Ashford may have bought the plans for this wheel to make their current wheel, the Elizabeth. I will definitely be taking damned good care of this wheel. I will use it, of course, but it will stay well oiled, conditioned, and polished. It will be a loved piece for many years to come, I’m sure.

And yes, for those spinners out there, I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m totally addicted to looking at roving and fiber now, and I’m sunk. The second that I hung up the phone with the lady who sold me the wheel, I was starting an internet browser window and was scouring the net for roving. I’m doomed. Keep my credit card FAR away from me!

Okay, the details…

So the post I made a few hours earlier was a little devoid of details, and I figured I should probably show you my wheel much more closely, and give you some more details about it. So again, here is my spinning wheel:

spinningwheel

It’s a Nilus Leclerc, circa…I don’t know when. The company is still in business, but it appears they only make looms now. However, it is remarkably similar to the Ashford Elizabeth Wheel (ignore the fairytale wheel writing…that’s a different wheel they carry):

ashford_eliz

Which means a few things. The first, is that finding parts for this thing, should it ever break, will either be really easy, or really difficult. Either way, I’ll cope. Both are single treadle, double drive wheels, which means they only have one foot peddle, but they have two speeds. This means that since the wheels are so similar, I will be able to buy extra bobbins. Oh yes, what’s a bobbin you ask? Well, up until about an hour ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you, nor show you where it’s located. However, thanks to my Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning book, and the internet, I can!

spin1

That’s the fly. The rod in the middle is where the bobbin goes.

spin2

And that’s the bobbin. Which, if I want to buy more of, is an Ashford High Speed double drive bobbin. Handy to know, hmmm? (And they run about $12 USD, which is definitely doable!)

spin3

And that’s how the bobbin fits onto the flyer before it’s tightened.

spin4

And how it fits onto the wheel. That metal part on the left hand side of the fly, with the hole, is called the orifice. And I thought some knitting terms were dirty…

spin5

This is the bottom of the wheel. I just thought it looked pretty. Did you know, btw, that the wheel is made of 4 separate curved pieces that are fitted together? I didn’t until today!

spin6

And the wheel in action…what a sight!

There are a couple things that I’m missing before I can get started. The first is a drive band, which is that crucial piece of plastic or woven material that wraps around the wheel and connects to the flyer so that it will turn. Yeah, you kind of can’t spin without it… the second piece missing is more bobbins, though I can probably get away without extras until I learn how to use it properly, and actually get some usable yarn out of it. I need to get some spinning wheel oil too, and a tub of beeswax to keep the parts shiney and cared for won’t hurt either. I already have some leather conditioner, so those parts the flyer connect to will be nice and supple before long (I plan on conditioning them tonight), and I won’t feel like I’m bending back pieces of stiff cardboard anymore.

The great thing about this wheel, is that even though the actual brand will be hard to come by, there will be lots of people experienced with working with an Ashford Elizabeth, so finding a teacher (either online or in person) probably won’t be very difficult. Ashford makes a spinning kit too, with an orifice hook, extra metal hooks, spinning wheel oil, and a couple other goodies that I might pick up. It’s so decently priced that how could I argue? And it has parts that I may need in the future too.

I love that I bought used though. There are all these little nicks and chinks and tiny bits that aren’t perfect. I love that there was someone who loved this wheel before me, used it, repaired it, cared for it, and I’m hoping there’s all sorts of good spinning ju-ju mixed up in it. It has history, it has memories, even if I don’t know them. I just love being aware that it’s there. Maybe one day I’ll buy a new wheel, but I think for now, this used one will suit me just fine.

It’s a Nilus Leclerc spinning wheel!

spinningwheel

Now…anyone know how to get it started? Lol!

Giving it another go…

After a discussion with a friend who has been spinning awhile, (and learning more from her in one email than I have ever learned since I started to learn to spin), I decided to give that red roving (which, apparently IS roving afterall!) another go. I was going to say another spin, but well, I’m pretty sure that joke was so bad, I would get rotten vegetables thrown at me if I were on stage. I especially got excited when another Craigslist search brought up a very wonderful discovery.

http://vancouver.en.craigslist.ca/van/for/1834915125.html

On Monday night, that’s tomorrow people, that will be mine. It will be in MY living room. I will be learning how to spin on THAT. I *so* need to find that contact again for the local spinner’s guild so someone can teach me how to use it….

I also discovered that my drop spindle is perhaps a wee bit too big and clunky for the kind of spinning I wanted to do. SO, I will probably be making a trip to the dollar store and hardware store to build myself a new one. I’m going to get dowling, a wooden toy car wheel, a couple washers, some stain, and some sandpaper. When I’m done, perhaps I will have a wonderful new drop spindle. Or, I could have a total mess. We’ll see!

Top, not roving. Top.

So a few years ago, when I still lived in the States, I made a purchase of a low whorl drop spindle and some plain, white wool roving, and learned how to spin. I made a pretty good effort out of it too, and after only one lesson and a few tries, I came up with this.

firstspinning

It was a fairly even first single ply, and it was somewhere between sport and worsted on the weight scale. I was pretty damned proud of myself, but money was tight, and the drop spindle went into storage until a few months after I moved out of my ex’s place and back in with my folks. Then, a trip to a yarn shop in Langley (now moved back to White Rock, called Knitopia) saw me walking out with this.

topnotroving

An unknown weight of what I thought was roving. Now, when I say that I “thought” it was roving, I am not saying that because I was a beginner, and made the mistake that all fluffy lengths of fiber were roving. No, I thought it was roving because the lady who sold it to me told me it was roving. I even knew about the existence of “top” and “roving” and specifically asked for “roving” because I was a beginner. I tried to spin it up in the next few days, and I wondered why the skill that had come so easily to me months before was not coming so easily at all now, and put it away.

So, fast forward two years later, to today, when I decide to dig my “roving” out and maybe give it a whorl (excuse the pun!) again, when I have a stroke of genius. What if my roving isn’t roving, but instead top? I found an end, pulled away, and sure enough! It was difficult to pull apart, and the fibers pulled out in two square shaped ends, not triangular like roving would have been. I’d been duped two years ago, and I only just discovered this. Talk about having a “d’oh!” moment!

So…my drop spindle will continue to collect dust, because I have tried and failed on this fiber to spin it, and I just can’t make heads or tails of it. It doesn’t pull apart or even pull out easily at all, and unless I want a super, super, SUPER bulky yarn that’s not enough to make a mitten for a flea out of, well, the fiber will too. *insert disappointed sigh here*

So, I’ve come up with a proposition. Does anyone out there want to purchase this top from me? Or do a top-for-roving exchange? This is good fiber (merino if my memory serves me correctly), and the colors are brighter than the picture above shows. I’d love to see it go to a good home, since mine will provide nothing for it (except the doom to end up stuffed in a grocery bag for years at the bottom of my stash basket. Hardly a worthy fate, if I do say so myself), and I’d especially love to see it go to a blog reader. If you want to buy it from me, I’d take $12 CND, since I paid about twice that two years ago. If you want to to swap, I only ask that you PLEASE make sure it is roving first, and not top. If I end up with top again this soon, it might end my lust for spinning for forever.