Knitting: Lately, much of my knitting time has been devoted to my Golden Clarity cardigan, which just needs a few final touches. Like sleeves. You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait, where did this cardigan come from? Wasn’t she just working on a different one. And now there’s like a whole new cardigan that just materialized in a week’s time.” Part of me wants to let you keep thinking that I am some sort of knitting wizard, that I can just click my heels together three times and a hand knit sweater appears. That I’m the fastest knitter in the west east. Be awed and amazed at my knitting prowess.

But in reality, I started this cardigan a long long time ago and it sadly has sat abandoned and uncompleted until I could feel the tinge of fall coming along and knew it would get some wear soon. I think all the stockinette got to me and my brain couldn’t process it. But after work, sometimes all I want is just boring, uneventful stockinette. So this cardigan is getting some love again (hopefully enough to make it off the needles and into my closet).

Reading: Still working on Sea of Shadows. I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s a decent YA fantasy, but it’s not riveting and the writing is a little… eh. But it’s not enough of an ‘eh’ to make me read something else. Plus, all the good stuff I want to read I’m having to wait on for a library copy (must. not. buy. more. books.). So until I move up from spot 967 out of 1000 (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how it feels), I shall keep chugging on Sea of Shadows.

Watching: The third season of “Call the Midwife.” Such a good little show that I feel is a bit under appreciated, especially compared to something like Downton Abbey (which I also love).

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Lace cardigan KAL progress #1

Karen at Pumpkin Sunrise and Steph at woolythyme are holding a loosey-goosey knit along as they both work on the beautiful, lacy Hitofude cardigan. It was perfect timing as I had just cast on the Darling Emma cardigan, another lace heavy cardigan, so I sorta crashed their party and just invited myself to join them even though I’m knitting a completely different project. It’s the spirit that counts, right?

I just know I will need the moral support of others working through 5 bazillion lacy stitches/repeats because this project is going to take me forever if I don’t have a driving force. It’s so very pretty, but also so very slow to work on. (This is the point where all the knitters who work on those fantastic lace shawls snicker and reassure me that 250+ fingering-weight stitches are nothing.) 

So, I’m going to join Karen and try to post updates on Tuesdays. So far I’ve got about 3.5 inches done… only 19.5 more to go?! Plus sleeves. And a belt. Oh lord. 

And if you are working on a project and in need of some inspiration/co-miseration/a kick in the bum, I’m sure you would be very welcome to tag along on this endeavor. 

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Knitting Confessions #2

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I’ll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting “no-no’s”. Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below. 
Confession #2: I am a lazy gauge swatcher.

This one is bad, isn’t it? If we were to break knitting rules into categories such as “Go on and break me,” “More of a guideline than a rule,” and “Never ever break me on penalty of knitting death,” I think not knitting your gauge swatch falls into that last category. It’s pretty darn bad. Knowing this, I still usually don’t do it. And when I do knit a gauge swatch, I usually never do it to the full recommended four inches and I never ever wash the swatch afterwards. I am a very lazy knitter when it comes to gauge swatches. 
All of this is not to say that I never measure my gauge, I just do it after I’ve already started a pattern and then adjust from there. I’m usually not too far off on the gauge when I use the recommended needle and yarn weight, so I can usually just loosen or tighten up my knitting to get the correct gauge. And I feel an inch into a project, a small change in gauge isn’t going to be too noticeable after blocking (I do block my work, at least. I’m not the worst knitter out there). 
Until this practice really comes back to bite me in the butt (which I fear after almost every single project I finish), I probably will just continue on my merry way. Once I really mess up a project after not knitting my gauge swatch, I give you all full permission to point me back to this post when I was so smug about never swatching. It’ll serve me right.

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Birth of socks

Project: Brandy’s Striped Socks ::: Pattern: None ::: Yarn: ???

Socks are one of my favorite things to knit because they are an item you can really see take shape as you work on them. There are some things you work on that just don’t really take shape until they are finished – either they are bulky or need seaming or require lots of shaping and blocking. But socks… socks look like socks. (And if they don’t, well, you probably did something wrong.) You can see where you are going and where you’ve been and when you’ll be all done.

I found this yarn on clearance and just enjoyed the color combination of nice bright colors mixed with neutrals. I’m not one for generally working plain ol’ socks, but self-striping yarns just call for it sometimes. Instead of trying to do something fancy, I decided to just enjoy the color and let the stripes do their thing. No need to get in their way. 

Unfortunately, I was very naughty knit blogger and I tossed the label for this yarn and I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. I didn’t even look at the colorway… Rookie mistake, I know. And I’m regretting it because I actually really like this yarn. It’s soft with nice stitch definition, and I really like the colors. If I could remember what it was, I would recommend it and use it again. (Maybe someone out in blog land will recognize the yarn?)

I want to get another pair of yarn on the needles, but I can’t decide on a pattern + yarn combination that I like. What are your favorite sock patterns? Or sock patterns you have always loved to try? If it’s free, that’s even better. Give me some inspiration!
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Color drunk

This week…

Knitting: I absolutely fell in love with Emily of Snapdragoncraft’s bright colored chevron cowl. It’s bright and colorful and just fabulous. So, I copied her. I just happened to be at a local yarn shop called Lettuce Knit this weekend when I found this amazing yarn. Our eyes locked across the yarn shop, and I knew it was destiny. So I bought it. Of course. And cast on my very own brightly colored chevron cowl. I know. I’m crazy. Andy already told me that multiple times as we walked out of the yarn shop. But I love the yarn and the colors and the cowl. It makes me so happy.

But on that note, I put myself on a yarn diet until Boxing Day. Why Boxing Day? Because that’s when our big local yarn store holds it’s big sale. I need you all to hold me to it. Don’t let me break. 

Reading: I finished The Coldest Girl in Cold Town which was an entertaining take on the vampire mythology. It was really driven by a fresh, realistic, strong lead female character who didn’t sit around and whine when things didn’t go her way. She took charge of her own choices, even if sometimes they weren’t the best. Now I’ve started reading Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve only just begun, but I’m enjoying learning about the mythology built into this novel.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along

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Knitting Confessions #1

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

 On Mondays, I’ll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting “no-no’s”. Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below. 
Confession #1: Working with straight knitting needles makes me feel old fashioned.

I don’t usually work with straight needles because many of the projects I’m drawn to require circular needles due to their shape or the number of stitches. Although I learned to knit first on straight needles, I quickly moved to circulars because I desperately wanted to make my Totoro sweater. I went straight from making a simple project on straight needles to socks and sweaters, jumping right over that obligatory scarf/wash cloth/anything rectangular phase. 
I think because I don’t commonly use straight needles that when I do, they seem out of place and old timey in my hands. I blame the knitting stereotype. The old lady knitting with straight needles is inescapable.

Part of me feels like everyone sees knitting as the “old lady craft,” and it is directly identifiable in pop culture by the straight knitting needle. So in using it, I play into that stereotype. All I need is a few cats and a rocking chair to make it complete. (Now that I think of it, a rocking chair sounds kind of awesome. I think I want one of those now.) But me, a young, cool knitter, I don’t fall into this stereotype, so I feel drawn to use anything but straight needles. And that idea is totally silly, because Wikipedia (reliable source of all human knowledge) tells me that circular needles were actually patented in 1918, but were in use before even then and double pointed needles are believed to be the oldest type of knitting needle. So really, it doesn’t matter what kind of needle I use – they are all old fashioned. (And knitting itself is definitely old – like 1AD old. Woah.)
 It’s what I make with my needles that can make me a unique knitter. And really, any knitting I do, 
regardless of the old lady stereotype, is cool because I enjoy doing it and it makes me happy, and what could be better than that? Besides, if I really cared what other people thought of my knitting, I probably wouldn’t do it publicly, on the subway every day, right? (Though, to be honest, straight needles do take up a bit of space on a packed subway – believe me, I’ve been there.)
Plus, Gromit uses straight needles, and he’s one of the coolest knitters I know. So I’m getting over my knitting stereotypes (partly through force because all my interchangeable circular cables are currently associated with several projects) and embracing a newfound fondness for straight needles and the bounty of projects they can be used for.
Bonus cartoon for my own amusement:
Do you feel you fall into knitting stereotypes? Or do you have your own knitting confessions? Join me and share your own knitting confessions. Your confession can be anything knitting related: rules you always seem to break, conventions you just don’t understand, or stories of when something in knitting just went wrong. Together we can all work through our own naughty knitting habits.
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Bitten by the bug

A few nights ago, I found myself bitten by a bug. A bug of inspiration. The symptoms included an immediate need to start a new project, specifically, a shawl, and this manifested as me searching, searching, searching through Ravelry for a pattern. I had shawl-itis. There was nothing to do – the fever had me. So, even though I don’t need to have another project on my needles (needles, what 
needles? – they are all stuck in a project), I gave in. I had no choice. You knitters know what I’m talking about; we’ve all been bitten by this bug before. It’s dangerous (to our wallets) and highly contagious (you can’t escape!). Watch out.

So late at night, I dug some yarn out of my stash. This yarn had been on my mind the past couple of days; I think it was sending me crazy subliminal messages, “Remember me! Use me! Love me!” I haven’t forgotten you! You were one of the first “fancy” (i.e. not acrylic) yarns I bought when I first got serious about creating more than small accessories. You were meant to become a lovely crochet sweater, but I wasn’t happy with the fabric created with crochet, so you got put away in a box with a half-finished sweater. But fret not, yarn! I have since learned to knit and now your lovely variegated, fuzzy goodness can be free – free to become a squishably wearable shawl.

I was originally drawn to the yarn by the colors, which reminded me of a beautiful sunset over a dessert canyon. With just a bit of a soft fluffiness and just a bit of shine, I thought it would just look wonderful paired with denim. I wanted to show off the colors I loved, so I decided to go with a simpler shawl pattern where the colors wouldn’t overwhelm a complicated lace pattern. After an hour or so of scouring the patterns on Ravelry, I decided on Sandness. (I originally thought this pattern was called Sadness and thought to myself, why is it sad? It’s lovely. Don’t be sad shawl! That’s what late night pattern searching will do to your brain).

I believe the subtle waves of the border will be quite lovely and highlight the colors of my yarn. Plus, it comes in a smaller size and is triangular – perfect for wearing more as a kerchief, which is how I typically find myself wearing shawls. (Confession: wearing a shawl as a normal shawl across my shoulders makes me kind of feel old. Sorry to people who wear their shawls this way – you pull it off better than I can. And it doesn’t make you old, either.) 

I’m happy with how my shawl is looking. My yarn is happy to be out of a box and be turned into something wearable and lovely. And my shawl-itis is satisfied. For now. Until it gets knocked out by sock flu or sweater-ococcus, which have been known to grip me in their fever before.
What are your inspirations right now? Do you even find yourself just needing to cast on a specific project?
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This week…

Knitting: Most of my knitting progress has been on my Keynote cardigan, which, color and detailing has a nice vintage vibe that I’m loving. I finished the body last night and am starting on the first sleeve. It’s a relatively simple knit, but the faux cables created by the simple lace panels keep things interesting. In green, the lace reminds me of crawling vines. I’m sure it will be even lovelier once everything is blocked. I’ve also cast on for my Guernsey wrap but have only worked a few of the pattern repeats so far. Since I plan on using it as a big snuggly scarf in the winter, I’m not in too much of a hurry to get it finished soon, even though it is a fun knit.

Reading: Still working on The Coldest Girl in Cold Town which is keeping me entertained. I also added The Magician’s Land to my library wait list. It’s the final book in The Magicians series by Lev Grossman and was just released last week. I’m really excited to see how this series ends as I’ve been following it since 2011 – the characters and setting just stick with you. If you grew up with the Narnia books or Harry Potter, I recommend this series – they offer a different take on growing up with magic and dreaming of fantastical places that roots them a bit more in reality and the consequences of such scenarios in the real world.

Watching: Lately I’ve been going through LOST and rewatching the whole series (it’s taking a while). I’ve also been watching the first two seasons of Orphan Black, which I am liking a lot. I’m always up for series that are smart and unpredictable. For a science nerd, the show is fun (although some of the science they mention is a little iffy….).

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along

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That time I visited the Purple Purl…

Saturdays are made for going to the yarn shop. Since moving to Toronto, I find myself following an odd sort of ritual when going to the yarn shop. Here’s how the process usually goes for me:
On Friday night, after a long week of work (which this summer usually ends with me feeling like I didn’t get much done because things just aren’t going as planned), I decide a trip to the yarn store will cheer me up. But I’m too lazy to actually go Friday evening because I just got home, and took my shoes off, and Rufus is cute, and I just poured a glass of wine. So… Saturday morning. I wake up Saturday morning ready to go. I give myself a budget, kiss the boys (who are still in bed and grumbling about me being up) goodbye, and grab an iced coffee on my way to the subway. It’s a process that puts me into exactly the stupidly excited state of mind that I love about going to the yarn shop.

I usually prefer going to yarn stores by myself because nobody else I know here in Toronto is really into this whole crazy knitting/yarn-a-holic/fiber madness thing I have going on. So when I do go with other people, I always feel like they are waiting on me. And yarn requires time. It requires squishing. And face-rubbing. And oohing. And putting back a skein 5 times before finally committing on it – but wait, that blue is so pretty, too, or the red, or maybe orange?! You just can’t rush a good yarn shop experience. These are delicate decisions I am making. You don’t rush an artist.

This week was a great yarn shop experience. I visited The Purple Purl which is located in the west side of town. It’s a bit of a journey from my humble abode, so I hadn’t gotten around to visiting the shop before now. But I will definitely be back! This shop has one of the best selection of local and Canadian yarns that I’ve come across. Canada produces some great yarns, but they can sometimes be difficult to find (even in Canada) because they simply aren’t those “big name” yarn brands you usually come across, even in higher end yarn shops. Plus, you earn points with every purchase towards a $25 discount on pretty much anything in the shop. Why, yes, that is like earning a free skein of yarn just for knitting (which you were going to do anyway, but now that there’s a reward…).

So, of course, I bought some. (In the spirit of supporting local businesses and local yarn dyers, of course!)

These lovely skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label are destined to become a long, splendidly soft, texturally delighting Guernsey wrap. I haven’t used guernsey often in my knitting, but I find myself admiring it greatly because of it’s amazing simplicity and timelessness. Plus, this wrap will be perfect for keeping me warm through a long Toronto winter.

Do you have any yarn shopping rituals of your own? What do you love most about your favorite yarn shop?

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My love for summer farmer’s markets

One of my favorite places in the city is St. Lawrence Market. It is a giant, two-story market in Old Town that has anything you could ever need – butchers, seafood, bakeries, cheesemongers, bulk spices, fresh pasta, coffee, rice, various ethnic ingredients. It’s fabulous. And on top of that, there’s food stalls covering almost every type of food you’ve ever heard of (and probably some you haven’t). It is a grand adventure every time I visit. It’s almost impossible to capture in words or images – you just have to visit it and experience it for yourself. And if you went to their website (or visit the market) you’ll notice they are very proud of the fact that they were recently voted the number 1 food market in the world by National Geographic.

One of my favorite reasons to visit St. Lawrence is the year ’round farmer’s market they hold every Saturday. And the summer offerings are always the best: mountains of kale, amazingly fresh herbs, and the most gorgeous mushrooms are just a peek at the offerings. Right now is one of my favorite times to visit the market because fresh, local peaches are in season. And they are yummy! I’m talking, eat four-a-day yummy. And I try to take full advantage of peach season at the market, because in a blink of an eye, it’s gone. (I am definitely not the only person who is a fan of the local peaches. All the booths selling them were so jammed packed, I could barely squeeze in to buy some let alone snap a shot of their beautiful fuzziness.)

Just looking at the pictures makes me hungry – time for another peach?