Monday, November 08, 2004

Hi. I'm Kathleen.

I knit.

I do many other things in my life, but knitting is a biggie.

I learned to knit at around age seven or eight. I had a horrendously sexist "How to Be Mother's Helper" sort of book when I was little, which had instructions on how to knit. My parents, who both learned to knit during WWII, helped me where the book did not. But with the exception of a few projects while growing up, I mostly stopped knitting until I got out of university.

Then, for some reason, I decided I wanted to knit a baby gift for a pregnant co-worker. My mom gave me a very sweet pattern for some booties. A year or two later, a good friend was expecting her first baby, so I did up the same booties for her. I then realised I wanted to keep knitting baby gifts for people, but I didn't want to keep making the same booties every time! My sister-in-law was kind enough to give me a wonderful compilation of her favourite patterns for Christmas, and suddenly I couldn't get enough.

It's been about six years since I started knitting on a really regular basis. My interests have now expanded far beyond the baby-stuff-in-acrylic. This is partly my fault (my obsessive nature, doncha know), and partly Alice Starmore's fault (saw her Tudor Roses book at a LYS and that was it for me). I've learned new techniques, discovered nifty knitting tools, experimented with different fibres and designed my own stuff. I'm now at the point where I have an entire cabinet in our workroom devoted to knitting equipment, materials and resources; the worktable is permanently occupied by my ball winder and swift; and there is a spot in the living room devoted to my high-priority projects which get done during television-watching marathons. It is rare that I will have fewer than 15 projects going at any one given time - impending babies and Christmas are usually responsible for this volume. Also, I am constantly being inspired with new project ideas which my fingers itch to begin immediately, no waiting.

Most of my projects are made for other people, which is actually good - it means I can take money out of our gifts budget to buy yarn, which is highly preferable to using my own fun money for the purpose! But I do occasionally work on stuff for myself. However, I must admit that all the projects I've ever started for me remain unfinished. Oh, well.

At the moment, my knitting thoughts mainly revolve around designing, increasing my speed, and discovering natural fibres:

  • Currently I'm working on creating a book's worth of baby patterns. I have grandiose dreams of seeing it published one day.
  • I think I've reached the limits of what I can do, speed-wise, given the way I currently knit. One of these days I will sit down and practice Continental until it sinks in. With that under my belt, I'm sure my speed can pick up.
  • My latest natural fibre discovery is alpaca. I just bought my first batch of it. A 2.2lb cone of steel blue, 100% alpaca, off of eBay. It's sooo soft. It feels sooo good when I work with it. Yum.

With a house to do my part to keep, a marriage to nurture and a 17-month-old daughter to enjoy, it is a wonder that I am able to accomplish as much knitting as I do. The key is that I have one helluva long commute to and from work every weekday. It takes about 90 minutes from home to work in the morning, and about 80 from work to home at night. So all that, combined with some knitting time during my lunch hour, gives me around three hours to knit every weekday without worrying that I should be doing something else. Of course, this doesn't always pan out. Often, DD is just so wonderfully distracting during the car ride part of my commute that not a lot of knitting gets done. And sometimes the subway is so busy that knitting is not really possible. But still, every day, a fair bit of knitting gets done. I also tend to flake out and knit in front of CSI most evenings (thank you, SpikeTV channel). But I'm still responsible, honest! During the ads I do chores!

The only downside to all that knitting-while-commuting is that I hardly ever get to read anymore, except for brief snatches when I'm in the bathroom. Yep, re-reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is going to take a helluva while. Oh, well, it's worth it.

Anyway, here is my current project load:


  • Last of three double-faced baby bibs for DH's cousin's first baby. It's ALMOST DONE! I have just one row before the castoff row, then the ribbed neckline to do, tuck in the ends and it will be done and I can send it off. I love the designs and the bibs, but I am heartily sick of this project. I'm looking forward to moving on.
  • Alice Starmore Catherine Parr sweater for MIL for Christmas. Soft green with black accents, 100% NZ wool from eBay. I'm going to have to redo the edging on the back with smaller needles to avoid the flaring at the bottom, and then will probably have to rip some of the top out and redo the neckline because the new edging will make the back longer than I want. Then I can continue with the front.
  • Alice Starmore Stornaway sweater for BIL #2 for Christmas. Cream, 100% NZ wool from eBay. I'm about 2 inches from being able to start the neck shaping at the front. I'm still desperately worried about whether this will end up too scratchy, but I'm also starting to wonder how the heck I'm going to block this thing. I might have to sucker DH into making me an impromptu woolly board.
  • Alice Starmore Stornaway sweater for BIL #3 - probably for Christmas 2005. Steel blue, 100% alpaca yarn from eBay. I am LOVING this yarn. Really got going on the sweater this weekend and finished the bottom ribbing this morning in the car. Gosh I wish I could finish it in time for this Christmas, but this is unlikely. This is dangerous - this is a very tempting project and I can see myself putting off high-priority projects to work on it. I will have to be strong. Tough, because the yarn is so soft. Argh!
  • Afghan for our bedroom using the Jade Starmore Persian Tiles pattern. Purple and cream Red Heart acrylic. I've done about 2.5 pattern sets by now - I think I worked out that I would need 7 pattern sets in total. This is my first steeking project. !!!
  • White leggings as part of a gift for a cousin expecting #1 any day now. See "Finished But Not Given Yet" for the other half of the gift. I may not get this done in time.
  • Red stockings based on ones worn by Eleanor of Toledo in the 16th century. 100% silk from eBay. Done in the round on DPNs. Very annoying - they keep jabbing me, I haven't gotten the hang of using DPNs, really. I'm also a bit frustrated because the first few rows are much looser than the rest of it - I may frog and restart AGAIN (I had already done a fair bit in red cotton and then decided to be more accurate and go with silk).
  • Jade Starmore Persian Tiles shawl for my grandma. Cotton/silk/cashmere blend from Knit Knack Yarns on eBay. Unfortunately the yarn is a heather, so I'm unplying the whole thing and replying it so that I separate out the two colours. This may never get done. Stay tuned.
  • Alice Starmore Elizabeth of York vest. Wine red wool from Knit Knack Yarns on eBay. This is a project that I return to every once in a while when I am low on high-priority projects. But I've gotten a lot done so far.
  • Elsebeth Lavold Ljod cardigan for me. Elsebeth Lavold's silky wool in teal green, OMG it's fantastic. Again, a low priority project that will take a long time to complete. But DH is really hoping to see me in it soon, and MIL bought me some awesome pewter-looking buttons to use, so maybe I'll prioritize this after Christmas?
  • Alice Starmore Henry VII sweater for DH. Purple 100% acrylic Red Heart yarn. Who knows when it'll get done, but he'll look great in it.
  • Alice Starmore Catherine Howard cardigan for me. Wool/rayon blend from eBay in mostly blue, with silver and gold accents. I'm not holding my breath waiting for the time to complete this one! But it'll look fantastic when it's done.
  • Preemie burial gown. 100% acrylic in white. Almost done, just gotta sew it up.
  • Several soakers. Who knows when I'll get around to finishing these. Probably not until after DD is potty trained!
  • Pounder romper. Probably will get frogged.
  • Cushion covers for living room. Need to get red worsted yarn to match the red in the existing cushion.

Concretely Planned

  • United Way charity baby sweater. I am donating a promise for a custom-order baby sweater to the United Way auction we're holding at work. As the auction will not be until December I have no idea what I'll be making, but I'll definitely be making something - starting AFTER Christmas.
  • Something for a co-worker who's expecting #2 in February. I'm waiting to find out what the ultrasound told them about the sex of the baby - another of my co-workers is making discreet inquiries. :) If it's a girl I have a vague idea for a fancy-cable and textured dress that I'd like to hash out.
  • Something for my godmother's youngest daughter, whose partner is expecting their #2 in February. I will have to do a think on this. I suspect that I will take advantage of the project to design another Book of Kells themed something for my book.

Vaguely Planned

  • Anne Feitelson slipover for my grandpa. It would look sooooo good on him. Don't know when I'll have the time or money, though. Figuring out what yarn to buy so that the colours all work out is going to be tricky - there are lots of colours and they're all really similar.
  • Alice Starmore Stornaway sweater for DH for Christmas 2005. I want it in some kind of cashmere blend, forest green.
  • Jade Starmore Spanish Knight sweater for my mom for Christmas 2005. It will have to be in some yarn that doesn't make her itch. Right now I'm letting her sample different yarns to see what works. Tonight she'll get a chance to feel 100% alpaca. I hope that works because there's an alpaca seller on eBay that sells a really nice purple that will work great. Fingers crossed.
  • Alice Starmore Elizabeth I sweater for me. I'm not sure what I want to do it in - but I've got a gorgeous forest green cashmere/cotton blend from Knit Knack Yarns on eBay that I could probably double up to make it.
  • Alice Starmore Cape Cod sweater for MIL for Christmas 2005. Gotta go looking for the yarn - maybe I'll be able to find lavender!
  • Jade Starmore Kimberley cardigan for me. Not in the near future!

Finished But Not Given Yet

  • Hrogn romper. One day I will see Skal and give it to her!
  • Double-faced baby bib with key pattern.
  • Double-faced baby bib with spiral pattern.
  • Hooded jacket for a cousin expecting #1 any day now. It's made out of 100% acrylic, mint green on the body, and the sleeves and hood variegated mint and canary, with white picot-edged borders. I'm still struggling with whether I'm going to finish off the matching leggings in white, or if my time crunch is so bad for Christmas that the hooded jacket will be the whole gift. Stay tuned.

I also have an extensive (but not complete, unfortunately) list of past projects which I will make available at some point.

So! With all the basics out of the way, now I can actually get to the "log" part of blogging...

I made a decision today to take the alpaca Stornaway sweater to work instead of the last of the double-faced bibs. I had lots of good reasons, honest! Firstly - I only have one more row to do on the bib before the cast-off row, which involves separating out the two sides and then grafting, which isn't something I relish doing on the subway. And then there's the fact that I'm going to my parents' for dinner tonight, and if I have the alpaca with me, my mom can tell me if it's too itchy for her. So there. Logical reasons to be selfish. :) Rrrowr, but I love working with this alpaca!

I have two vacation days scheduled for this week - Wednesday and Friday. Combined with the weekend, plus the fact that I get Thursday off for Remembrance Day, this gives me five straight days off from work. Yay! DD will still be going to daycare on my days off, so I will be spending Wednesday through Friday napping and knitting, knitting and napping. I'm sooo looking forward to it!

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