Friday, February 26, 2010

Ravelympics, Part Deux

As my second Ravelympics project, I tackled the lovely Owls pattern by Kate Davies. I've been admiring the pattern for quite some time, and purchased it finally this month, particularly because it was one of the Help for Haiti patterns.

Enough babbling, time for yarn porn!
I extended the bottom ribbing and added several rows of colour to the bottom, yoke, and sleeves.  I also added length in the torso to make it a bit longer for my slightly odd shaped body.  As the yarn was quite chunky and warm, I decided to make short sleeves instead of long ones, figuring I'd get more wear out of it that way. 

I also eliminated the short row shaping at the neck and did only 1.5 inches of ribbing to finish, because I liked the wider neckline. 

I haven't put eyes on my owls, as the buttons I had selected looked rather alarming.  I'm going a-button hunting tomorrow, but if none appear I'm quite satisfied with the no-button look.  It is rather odd to sport blind owls though, I must admit.

The yarn, Sirdar Click Chunky, was quite easy to knit with and is fairly soft for an acrylic blend. I am looking forward to having such an easy care handknit sweater, to be honest.  It isn't a Cadillac of yarn, that's for certain, but it knit up quite well and on gauge for me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just a hometown girl at heart

Though I may look like a stylish London woman (in the dark, if you squint, and don't look directly at me) I grew up in rural Canada.  More specifically, the eastern province of New Brunswick, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and the much more famous provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

I'm not surprised if you haven't heard of New Brunswick.  The entire province has a population of less than a million people.  You might be missing something very special, though, so I thought I'd let you in on a few NB knitting secrets in my next few posts.

This past Christmas I was grasping at last minute knitting present straws, casting about looking for something to knit for my brother in law.  As a last resort, I decided to try my hand at knitting socks.

Having avoided socks like the plague in the past, I decided I needed some expert advice. I scurried through the cold to Yarns on York in Fredericton, a lovely knitty haven in the historic downtown.

The very helpful Trish led me to some sufficiently manly self striping yarn, then asked about my needle preference. I confessed to the sin of not owning any dpns at all. Not a problem, it seems.

On the back wall I found a selection of needles, but my eye was immediately caught by the words, "Rocky Brook Needles." I know that brook, I thought. 

Upon closer examination, I discovered the needles were handcrafted in New Brunswick, using NB wood products and recycled packaging.  Sold!

I won't comment on the socks, as they are still unfinished and never made it into anyone's Christmas parcel. I tried to take a photo, but my camera rebelled.  Needless to say good equipment is not enough to make a finished product.  The needles, however, are fantastic. 

I enjoy wooden needles because of their warmth in the hand.  These particular ones are birch, though they are also available in walnut and cherry.  The finish is almost perfect, smooth with just that right amount of friction to keep the stitches flowing smoothly. 

Don't let the website fool you–these are high quality knitting tools, produced in a sustainable way, in a tiny corner of a large country where unemployment is rife and the young have migrated to make a living.  The heritage shawl pins are stunning.

It makes my heart sing to see such innovation and quality coming from home.  If you are in the market for a special knitting treat, you can't go wrong with Rocky Brook needles.

Stay tuned for more next post on a wooley New Brunswick institution!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trendy knitting? Middle class? Women only?

Whaaat? Women are KNITTING? IN PUBS?

'Cause the all caps really helps. 

When this Daily Mail article popped up on the Twitterverse, I was immediately suspicious.  After all, it is the Daily Mail. 

One sentence in and I almost stopped.  A Sex and the City reference? Someone definitely didn't do their research on this one.

By paragraph three, I was ready to throw something. That was before the horrid picture even came into view.

Though I'm not a representative of the Stitch and Bitch group mentioned in the article, I am a member.  So I thought I'd point out:

1. We don't just knit in pubs. We knit everywhere. Tube, park, museum, bus, cafe, bakery...
2. We aren't just women.  Men knit too, peeps. 
3. We don't just knit.  We crochet and spin, dye and yarnstorm.
4.  The word sisterhood makes us gag.
5. Middle class? Here I thought we didn't have any class.
6.  There is no mention of cake in this article. We don't want knitting with cocktails. We want knitting with cocktails, tea, cake, and chattiness.

You would think that a reporter writing about a group (which charges no membership or attendance fees) might show up to a meeting before writing such an article. Or perhaps contact several knitters or the organisers for a lovely quote.  Alas, no.  Research is not the forte of modern journalists, it would seem.  But that's a whole other story.