22 December 2012

T'is the Festive Season.

It's been a bit of slog chez Long Yarn the past couple of weeks. Blog silence has been brought to you by work frustration combined with lack of creative flow.
However, things are looking up, or at least more festive. We've just returned from seeing White Christmas on the big screen courtesy of the Bloor Cinema, and last night we made our holiday gingerbread house. Notice there is a Totoro sitting on the roof which I'm sure will bring us luck throughout the season and beyond. 
Sadly, the green mittens will not be completed in time. Heck, that was a crazy pipe dream anyway! All other Christmas knitting is complete, the food and wine have been bought and the tree is up. Tomorrow evening will bring an apartment full of guests with whom to celebrate. Lovely.
Happy holidays everyone.

09 December 2012

Holiday Madness

Apparently, getting a pair of knee socks done by Christmas is not challenging enough. I seem to have decided that knitting Jared Flood's cover mittens, Druid, from Vogue's Fall 2008 edition as a gift for a friend, is a great idea. I've simplified the pattern for the sake of speed, eliminating the small border cables and now have one half of Mitten One completed. It's an addictive pattern and knitting with Hempwol from Hemp for Knitting, is a true joy. The problem? Chasing this impossible, yet delightful, dream is taking away from the knee sock knitting. Today is December 8. Thirteen days until Christmas. I now run the very real risk of finishing no Christmas gift projects at all.
Go team!

23 November 2012

Back To Knitting

 Currently on the needles is Karaoke from Knitted Socks East and West. As I've mentioned before on this blog when referring to this book, there are many questionable math and design issues. Why, for example are the yarn overs all next to purl stitches so they pull and look awkward? Why are there two knit stitches in front of the pattern repeats and only one after? Why are the back leg decreases done unattractively right up against the pattern in the last 2 stocking stitches, rather than in the two second to last, which leaves one stitch grace and looks so much nicer? These are all problems I've fixed by the way. 
They are also problems that I now easily forgive because of one element; the stitch the designer, Judy Sumner, calls the PKOK (pronounced peacock). That's pass the third stitch on the left needle over and off, then knit, yarn over, knit the remaining two stitches. A pretty little framed keyhole is created and Sumner has set rows of these off with a section of twisted rib. The effect is striking. I look at it and can't believe that something so easy to knit looks so darn cool.

I've just finished Knee Sock #1 as well as the ribbing on Sock 2. They're Daughter's Christmas present this year (by request) so I'd best pick up the pace if I want to knit any other gifts! And I do! I really do!

16 November 2012

Love, Huge and Simple Between Us

...and in the end all that we can do is to sit at the table over which our hands cross, listening to tunes from the wurlitzer, with love huge and simple between us and nothing more to be said.

Elizabeth Smart
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

What I keep seeing is something white and slightly translucent, like a blob of suet the size of a koala bear, that has been plunked down onto this small wobbly table. It's solid and heavy. Hard to move. Everything in the room attends to it. We sitting here ignoring it, pretending it doesn't exist, is the height of ridiculous. Yet we do it. Daily. Constantly.
I suspect it's that way with the joy as well. There are so many smiles. They spill out almost painfully from lips dusty with disuse. All that awkward tripping. Stupid stupidity. Still we persist in pretending. For the sake of the higher ground?  Of being what we're supposed to be? Behaving with decorum and dignity? What one really wants to do is get very very drunk & wail & cry about all the injustice, all the pain of it. Behaviour frowned upon by society, by proper folk. Judged as sloppy and embarrassing. 
You keep asking what I want as if the very asking is the answer. Well, right now, what I want is the indulgence. Even once. To be a bad movie and trust that it's OK to be so just for a while.

04 November 2012

The Pond on Saturday

I went for a long, long walk in High Park yesterday. My legs are a bit sore today but it was so worth it.

25 October 2012

Bright Shiny Newness

It's been up on Ravelry for a while now but here is the blog reveal of my turquoise Agatha. I finished it during The Ribbon Project so it had to wait to be blogged. The project took a little longer than I had hoped to complete, becoming a fall cardigan rather than a spring one, but finally it is here and I love it so very much. Glad I am that I went out of my colour comfort zone by choosing this bright Cascade 220 heathered blue.
Here I am looking all perky and happy in my new sweater because it is a perky and happy sweater. I feel fresh and cute when I wear it. That's a pretty big accomplishment for a cardigan.
And here I am looking romantic and dreamy in my new sweater. The vintage style lace pattern inspires feelings of girliness and romance. Damn! All this from a cardigan? Yup,

21 October 2012

Table Knitting

It doesn't look like much here but this is my current "at home" project. It's Ysolda's Orchid Thief, originally published in Brave New Knits. I cast on at a knit night several weeks ago but now it never leaves the apartment. In fact, I don't even put it in its project  bag anymore. It lives out on the dining table, ready to pick up whenever I have a half hour to spare. At over 400 stitches per row, that half hour means I get one row done. I've increased the number of pattern repeats because I'm using a finer yarn (Ysolda used Malabrigo Sock. I'm using Wellington Lace).This means a lot of stitches on an infamously tricky pattern. If you know Orchid Thief at all, you're aware of the on-line chatter about how a pattern could be published with such unclear instructions and so many errors. It was only through a lot of digging through Ravelry that I was able to sort it out. 
Since regaining copyright, Ysolda has self published the pattern and addressed the problems.

The Wellington mohair/wool blend is knitting up beautifully. A halo appears as its worked but there is no shedding and the shawl does not feel scratchy at all. The colour is gorgeous, especially in the morning sun by the window where I do my knitting. I can't wait to see what it looks like blocked.

18 October 2012

Book Review

 Have you seen the new Vogue coffee table book,
Vogue Knitting: Classic Patterns from the World's Most Celebrated Knitting Magazine ? For their anniversary they've compiled a sort of greatest hits from the last thirty years into a beautifully bound, full colour, large volume. It was sitting in the window of a local book shop so I popped in and had a look.
I confess to being disappointed. Other than three pages on the history of the magazine, there is nothing new here to inspire me to put down my fifty dollars.
Do you recognize the above shot? It's a stunning fashion shot of a timeless sweater from the Fall 1989 issue (Thank you Debi for selling your copy to me.) It is included in the book.  I don't dispute their choices of pieces. In fact, it is a spot-on cross section of the best garments from various years (Calvin Klein bubble anyone?) Yet it falls flat because there's no re-interpretation. They don't just publish the same photographs from the original issues but photos of the photos from the magazine. I get what they were going for - a chronicle of a knitting publication. Still I think, as a vision, it lands short. For those of us who have been following Vogue Knitting for some time and own many of the original issues, it doesn't excite. I wanted to see new pictures of some these patterns re-knit in today's yarns with new and daring colours accompanied by some written text about the impact of the design and why it is representative and relevant. More work? Yes. But that would have been a book I'd have paid for.

09 October 2012

Day 7 - Green

The final day of this year's Ribbon Project fell on Thanksgiving Sunday. Interesting. At my sister's home I tied my green ribbons to mark the beautiful appetizer spread she laid out as well as her glass fowl collection which I've always found whimsical and amusing.
Thankful. It's something to ponder. For what am I thankful? 
As a friend of mine recently remarked, "Every day above ground is a good one." It sounds a little trite - possibly even cynical. However, during a year when some old friends have left and there has been much loss and uncertainty, that little line makes a lot of sense. So, I'm thankful that I'm still here and that will be enough for now.

08 October 2012

Day 6 - Orange

Saturday of the Thanksgiving long weekend. A perfectly cool and clear day for doing some work in the garden. Then it was off to lunch with a fellow knitter. Not bad at all.

06 October 2012

Day 5 - Blue

I did tie a few ribbons on my way home to the bridge over Lakeshore Blvd. that leads to my hood. It's a very cool view from up there (though I admit to being a teeny bit frightened over all those lanes of traffic). However, I forgot to bring my camera. Maybe I'll walk down there on Thanksgiving Monday and see if they're still there.
I spent last evening quietly at home...knitting. Big surprise. Many a recent evening finds me working lace at my dining table listening to Laurie Brown on CBC. Not a party, no, but heck. It keeps me sane.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

05 October 2012

Day 4 - Red

The only thing I saw yesterday that inspired me were these cool mushrooms that sprang up over night along the lake shore bike path. I tied my red ribbon in the morning and was delighted to see it still there that evening.

Day 3 - Pink

It was crazy foggy here on Wednesday.  Here is that same darn condo tower, looking up from the garden at the Sony Centre theatre. Below is the East side bed of the garden. It was to have been plowed under years back to make room for the street level development that was supposed to partner the condo building and be of so much benefit to the community.  They publicized artist's studios and class space along with retail and a Toronto historical info centre for tourists. Not surprisingly, as soon as construction started, they announced a budget short fall and only the condo tower went ahead.. At least the pretty garden survived and wasn't turned into parking.

03 October 2012

Day 2 - Yellow

I went to the Tarragon Theatre to see No Great Mischief starring my two imaginary boyfriends, R.H. Thomson and David Fox.  I was lucky enough to see this premiere in 2004 and had to catch the remount. The play has grown, if it's possible, even more magical with time and age.

Before the show, I dined down the street at the Apollo Eleven diner. The usual please! Greek salad, fries and coffee. Passing the theatre's staff entrance I paused to tie a ribbon in memory of those many years ago when my ex-husband worked there and I had the pass code to this door. The Daughter and I visited him many, many times as he worked late. We washed her baby clothes in the costume department laundry. We barbecued dinner in the courtyard. Heck, I even worked there a few times myself before the Baby Days. All happy memories. Last night, during the play, I tied a ribbon to my seat's armrest. Naturally, there is no photograph of this.

J.D. Nicholsen, David Fox, R.H. Thomson.
Photo courtesy Tarragon

02 October 2012

Day 1 - Purple

Oct 1 fell on a Monday this year so The Ribbon Project will take place across a work week and into Thanksgiving weekend. Interesting.
The email with Day One's colour choice came late yesterday due to an internet problem. . It wasn't until my afternoon break that I discovered the choice. So, there I was, wondering the block around my office realizing that there's nothing I "like" enough down there to note with my purple. Then I saw the Bixi stand. I thought of my friend Michelle and how she's always praising Bixi  to the skies. I thought how lucky we are to live in a city with such a neat cycling program. Heck I thought about how much I like my friend Michelle. So I tied one of my purple ribbons.

Ribbons 2012

Well, it's the beginning of October and that means the 7 days of The Ribbon Project. I seriously considered dropping out this year. Fewer people took part last year and I was wondering if the event still has legs. Also, being honest, I've been depressed the last while and I felt that my current state is not conducive to creativity. Then the email invitation came in that funny, familiar font, and I immediately said Yes. The project has become a bit of a touchstone for me over the past five years - a sort of annual check in.  I like being part of this small group of people I've never met. Tying ribbons and snapping pics has become my autumn tradition. So let's see where this goes this year.

29 September 2012

Friends With Yarn

What a beautiful autumn day for a lawn sale. Four of my friends joined forces today for a massive de-stash. And massive it was. This photo doesn't do it justice. There's a whole other lawn full out of frame. Outside of a fair  I don't think I've ever seen such a collection of yarn, crafting books and magazines, quilting supplies, scrap booking bits and on and on. Thanks to the power of internet, the afternoon became quite the social event as well. How lovely to see so many knitting friends.
I budgeted thirty dollars. For that much I picked up two back issues of Vogue (one from the 80's!), a copy of Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, a leather bag, four skeins of a brown Kashmir Aran and this crazy/lovely Socks That Rock. The colourway is called Flower Power. Not my usual thing, I know but I've never knitted the brand before and I've always been a bit jealous of the folks in the Rockin Sock Club..

Thanks ladies, both for the great stuff and the cheerful visit.

21 September 2012

Blood Orange

It looks so dark the end of the world may be near.
I believe it's going to rain.
The birds in the park are silent.
Nothing is what it seems to be,
Nor are we.

There's a tree on our street so big
We can all hide in its leaves.
We won't need any clothes either.
I feel as old as a cockroach, you said.
In my head, I'm a passenger on a ghost ship.

Not even a sigh outdoors now.
If a child was left on our doorstep, 
It must be asleep.
Everything is teetering on the edge of everything
With a polite smile.

It's because there are things in this world
That just can't be helped, you said.
Right then, I heard the blood orange
Roll off the table and with a thud
Lie cracked open on the floor.

Charles Simic
Walking The Black Cat
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1996

15 September 2012

Barbie Gets Trashed

I took my doll out for her photo shoot in her newly knitted ensemble (details of which are on my Ravelry page). One of the stops on my walk was the wine store. I just couldn't resist a a quick photo of the girl gone wild. This is sedate however. You should see what she got up to in the vodka section.

09 September 2012

Hand Hugs

I do love wristwarmers. Yes, they look cool but I wear them for practicality as well. It seems every office in which I've worked over the past many years has been cold. Be it from poor heating in winter or, as is currently the case, from over zealous air conditioning in summer, the result is the same. My wrists and finger joints ache from constant keyboarding in uncomfortable climates. So, I knit and wear a wide variety of fingerless gloves. They really do help.
My most recently completely pair is from the PassionKnit kit purchased at the Knitalong. This was my first experience knitting with Koigu and I must say that I loved it.  The ply is nice and tight, yet so smooth. The yarn holds a rib and a cable beautifully. The gloves actually hug my tired wrists and hands. And these colours are just a delight. The knit was a delight from start to finish and the end product is even more so.
There's a little yarn left over so I'm making a Barbie outfit. It's almost completed so a doll fashion photo shoot is surely in the near future.

30 August 2012

Summer's End

I went to The CNE the other evening.  This annual visit always signals one thing; the impending end of summer. In four days I return to my regular job and believe me, I'm squeezing every bit of freedom from these last days.
I've been reflecting on the Summer of 2012.
When I first learned last spring that I was to be laid off for the season, I was understandably angry and worried. Hindsight, however, makes it look quite different. I hadn't realized how miserable I was in the job until I wasn't there anymore. Not being in that environment for nine weeks has allowed me to heal and regroup and has also provided opportunities I otherwise would not have had.  
I worked two busy events this summer; The Indy in July and Summerworks in August.  Both were dynamic, challenging jobs for different reasons and both involved working with a great team. I was reminded that yes, I am actually good at what I do and was allowed to actually do it. Yay me!
When I wasn't working this summer, I was riding my bike, visiting friends and family, knitting up a storm, sleeping in, going dancing or just hanging in my little garden.  I had a brief (very brief) love affair. I saw a bunch of festival theatre shows. Most importantly, I was able to really be available to support and help The Daughter as she prepares for her move to university (This Sunday! Sob! Sniffle!)
So, while my bank balance took a huge hit, I am humble enough to admit that sometimes life hands you what you need. I am grateful for the gift of time.

18 August 2012

Gas Money

My sister got a new car and was hankering to drive it. "I've got gas money," I told her and talked her into a road trip to Elora with a side trip to nearby Wellington Fibres.
How remarkable is the restorative power of a short trip. A little change of scene sure helps rest the mind. It was a lovely drive heading North past Guelph. Stepping out of the car when we reached the farm was a sensory experience for its very silence. There were no other cars or people near so all we heard was the sound of crickets. The next closest building was out of sight from where we stood. And everything was so darn green.
We shopped for a while in the mill store but kept peaking into the back where the proprietress, Donna Hancock. was working in the mill. 
She invited us in and showed us the machinery and all the various steps the wool goes through to become yarn. Fascinating
 Below are the barrel sized yet super light and airy coils of carded fibre that get spun into fine single plies.
Naturally I felt inclined to spend generously after her kindness. That's two skeins of laceweight and two skeins of a worsted weight tonal colourway. They're all 75% mohair, 25% wool. I love the richness of Wellington's blue/green palette.
Later, Mr. Hancock took us to the barn to meet the source of the mohair.  These angora goats were smaller than I expected. The bucks and does were kept separate to prevent out of season breeding. The animals were curious about our presence but cautious.
 I wonder which one contributed to my future shawl?

11 August 2012

Podium Finish?

My lovely shrug is done. Of course it was too hot today to wear it,  but I trotted it out anyway to photograph. It's such a lady-like garment. Simple, elegant design.  Thank you Laura Chau. I must wear this the next time I go to Lettuce Knit and show it off to her.
Details on Ravelry.

08 August 2012


I finished my Olympic project yesterday.  Well, sort of.  The edge ribbing looks crappy .It's untidy and comes too far up my neck.  I am going to rip about an inch of it back and cast off again more tightly.  
So, not there yet.

31 July 2012

A Finished Object Not Finished By Me

Several weeks ago Lettuce Knit was having a sample clearance. Many of the ladies at knit night tried on this slinky silk top but everyone agreed it looked best on me. I modestly admit that it does rather look like it was made for me.  So, for twenty bucks, I got about $80 worth of Alchemy Silk, hand knit by Laura Chau into a fashionable little number I never would have dreamed of making for myself. Score!
It had been hanging about the shop for a long time and consequently, was looking rough.  There were several snags and exposed ends as well as couple of small holes.  The neckline ribbon was in particularly bad shape. Well I finally got around to making the necessary repairs and replacing the ribbon. Now it looks smashing! I really, really, really like it!  It feels fabulous and sexy.

I'm not sure how I managed the look of this lower photograph. It certainly wasn't on purpose but I love the  fuzzy result.  It reminds of a snap taken in the seventies and that's been exposed to the sun too long with it's wonky colour and faded quality.

28 July 2012

Going For Gold

I made the last minute decision yesterday to cast on an Olympic project. A few friends were getting together at our usual watering hole and it just felt right to throw aside all the current WIPs for two weeks and start something completely new.
I've chosen to knit Laura Chau's Top Down Shoulder Warmer.  The yarn and pattern have been in my stash since Christmas so it was a simple matter of winding up the hank and doing a quick swatch before heading out to watch the opening ceremonies.  I was originally attracted to this pattern last fall when, knitting at Lettuce one evening, I felt a chill and slipped on the store sample. I wore it the rest of the evening and fell in love.  It was so sad when I had to remove it at closing time! I loved it so much in fact that after purchasing the pattern, I went out and bought the same yarn  in the same colour as the sample.  This is something I never do.

Being an easy knit, it's not really in the spirit of  completing a "challenging" project over the course of the games. I just really want that shrug! So maybe this can be a bronze medal sprint rather than a golden marathon. Fine by me.

Photo of the store sample is from Laura Chau's Cosmicpluto site. Click Here to go to the pattern page.

20 July 2012

It's Called a Yarn Crawl

They don't call it a yarn crawl for nothing. Yes, yarn was acquired at the TTC Knitalong last week. Not that I need more yarn, or in fact, have any more room to store it. However, the participating stores greet us so warmly that it feels like my duty as a Team Captain to support them.
Passionknit unveiled a kit in honour of the Knitalong - a  gorgeous fingerless glove pattern made with two skeins of Koigu KPPPM.  I chose this darkish colour mix and have cast it on already. It's my first experience knitting with Koigu. I'm loving it.

I have a huge lace weight collection but no Zephyr.  This Aegean Blue 50/50 merino/silk just called to me from the Knitomatic shelf.  I mean really! At that discount?  How could I not buy it?
Time to pick up the pace on my lace knitting.

Romni made little surprise bags for us and this was in mine.  I don't know what it is.  It feels like  wool - a little scratchy, very earthy.  One suspects that it is wound from their cone collection.  The colours are delightful aren't they? So very Me.

I also picked up some burgundy toned Cascade sock yarn at Mary Maxim but haven't managed to get a nice photo.  Who knew they made sock yarn? It's lovely stuff.
A great by-product of attending the Knitalong has been the firing up of my knitting spirit.  Seeing all the wonderful product out there and the amazing work of my fellow knitters has really inspired me. I've spent quite a bit of time with my needles this week.  Hopefully there will be FO posts soon.