Fruit of the twine

Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

More Knitting In Public Day

Posted by yarnberry on June 11, 2007

I celebrated “official” Knitting in Public day by spending twenty minutes knitting in the patio furniture section of Rona while my husband shopped for network cable. There was a great little cedar swing and people mostly ignored me, except for a couple who apparently thought I was there to take advantage of the air conditioning. I’ve been working on a little project with some beautiful handspun (left). The colour is gorgeous, although no one has been able to figure out what the fibre is.

On Sunday I went out with a few people in my knitting group to have a belated Knitting in Public Day. Here is Gailene doing a little Tunisian crochet.



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More Sock knitting vs. Thesis

Posted by yarnberry on June 8, 2007

I deposited my thesis Monday morning, in preparation for my defense on the 18th. Tuesday night I discovered that I had messed up my sock knitting. I had managed to knit a pointy-heeled sock. Observe (you may want to compare to some lovely round-heeled socks knit by someone who read the pattern correctly):

This is not a reassuring thing to discover the day after handing in your thesis. If I could get all that way down the foot without realizing my heel was completely wrong, might I have done the same thing with my Conclusions section, for example? (I hope not!) Let’s hope the lesson is Don’t try to knit something complicated when your mind is on Fisher’s Exact Test. (And please, cross your fingers that my thesis doesn’t contain any inappropriately pointy heels.) I’ve resigned myself to ripping back the sock and starting again.

So, to cheer myself up, I spent Wednesday weaving

and then hand-felting a project I’ve been planning for a while.

Sink felting was much easier than I expected. I put on some rubber gloves and kneaded the fabric in very hot water and dish-washing liquid for about 20 minutes. This project is going to be a small purse with some ribbon embroidery in matching colours. Now I need to get some purse handles and do the assembly… maybe having a great purse to carry to my thesis defense would inspire more confidence.

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kNIP – Knitting In Public

Posted by yarnberry on June 7, 2007

This Saturday is World-Wide Knitting in Public Day.

To be honest, every day is Knitting in Public day for me. I have a long bus ride to work/school, and it’s a great time to work on a project.

Some people have theorized that knitting in public can be a feminist statement1, a way of rebelling against the way feminine pursuits have been sequestered in the home, or reclaiming the value of traditionally female work2. I like that idea, but if I’m honest, I have to admit that I started knitting in public because it never occurred to me that people would find it weird. After all, plenty of people read in public.

I hadn’t bargained on knitting’s antiquarian reputation. Debbie Stoller has said that when she started knitting on the bus, she “might as well have been churning butter, it was so strange” to the other passengers1. Friends who live in bigger cities have told me that KnIP doesn’t attract too many stares on the subway anymore, but I guess the movement hasn’t arrived here yet. People are constantly surprised to see someone my age knitting or crocheting. I get a lot of comments — especially lately when I’ve been knitting socks. There’s something about those size 00 dpns that people find fascinating.

Unfortunately for me, one of the reasons I knit in public is because I’m a bit of an introvert. I like to zone out with my knitting or crochet project and ignore the crowded bus around me. I never know what to say when people ask me about my knitting, especially when it’s one of those “hey the sky is blue” comments like “wow, those are really small needles!” (“Yes, yes they are”) or “Why are you knitting with more than one colour?” (“Because the pattern has stripes”).

I know that people are just trying to be friendly and make conversation, but I don’t seem to play well with strangers. This leads to a lot of awkward, knitting-filled pauses. I hope this kNIP thing catches on soon, so I won’t stand out so much.

  1. Brown, J. (2001). Do it yourself. Salon.com.
  2. Minahan, S. and Wolfram Cox, J. (2007). Stitch’nBitch: Cyberfeminism, a Third Place and the New Materiality. Journal of Material Culture 12(5)

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Yarn tourism: Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Posted by yarnberry on May 29, 2007

My husband and I are planning on taking a trip to the Maritimes this summer to visit family. It looks like a perfect opportunity for a little yarn tourism — there are some fantastic farms, mills, and shops in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The well-known Fleece Artist / Handmaiden Yarns are in Nova Scotia, but it doesn’t look like you can drop by.

I’ve compiled a list below of the sites that look interesting to me. Top on my to-visit list is Baadeck Yarns and Lismore Sheep Farm, I think. I can’t choose a short list! Guess I had better save my pennies until August. And try to convince my husband of the joys of yarn shopping…

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

  • Cotton Craft Fine Woolens in St. Andrews
    • Sweater kits and Briggs & Little yarn in exclusive colours.
  • London-Wul in Lakeburn
    • A spinning museum, studio, dye garden, and shop.
  • Briggs & Little Woollen Mills in York Mills
    • Canada’s oldest woollen mill, with factory tours and shop. They don’t use the carbonizing process (acid bath) for removing straw/debris from the yarn.

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Sock knitting vs. Thesis

Posted by yarnberry on May 27, 2007

I am eight days away from depositing my Master’s thesis in preparation for my defense on June 18th.

I am also knitting my first sock, after several false starts. (Please don’t ask me about the Patons Canadiana sock debacle.)

Knitting a sock is a relatively straightforward process. Its shape is pre-defined, its demands are clear. When I begin, there is a pattern to follow. I know that I have 80 stitches per row, and if I wanted to I could probably calculate how many stitches I must knit in total, and how long it takes me to knit a stitch on average, and from there approximately how many hours it will take to finish this sock.

My thesis won’t be done until it’s done. At every stage, it has been very difficult to predict how long each step will take. Some large tasks have whipped by very quickly. Other (seemingly) small tasks have taken (seemingly) forever to finish. There is a rough guideline, but in fact, it only now, when I’m almost done, that the overall pattern of my thesis is coming clear. Each section and paragraph is slowly slotting into place. At the very end, maybe I could draw you a schematic.

It is so rewarding to see the sock spool out of my needles, stitch by stitch, row by row. After 20 minutes of knitting, I can hold the finished result in my hand and admire it.

There will be no finished product of my thesis until the very, very end, and that product will just be a stack of paper destined for the basement of the library. As I near the finish line, I am finally starting to feel like my research is Vaguely Interesting and possibly even Slightly Useful. But the sock — ah, I think a well-made, hand-knitted sock is something that can be loved.

The sock is so much more forgiving. Certainly, it was a little frustrating at first. But once I’ve finished knitting a section, I don’t need to go back and edit it 167 times. I don’t need to send the sock out to other people to read and comment. When it’s done, I won’t need to stand up in front of a bunch of people and defend any errors, inconsistencies, or confusing aspects of my sock. Unless it’s a true disaster or it doesn’t fit, any mistakes in my sock can be accepted as part of the “handmade charm.”

Through the endless months of this process, crafting has been my antidote to my thesis. Its tangible, row-by-row progress is soothing after hours of chipping away at my writing, trying to make my intangible ideas make sense to someone else. So, after I’ve been up until 2am on a Saturday night, writing and re-writing — I will knit for a while, and finally relax.

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Organizing the stash

Posted by yarnberry on May 19, 2007

Here is where I reveal my embarrassingly organized side. Trust me, my stash may be organized but the rest of my office is a mess.

A couple of factors came together — including Annette Petavy’s recent article in Crochetme — to inspire me to sort and catalog my yarn stash and the patterns I’m interested in making.

Petavy suggests cataloging by colour, and that made a lot of sense given the way I tend to design and the number of one-off skeins I have. This photo shows my stash, all exciting and ready for a project. It’s kept in an Ikea Billy bookcase with cabinet doors. We had some extra Billy glass shelves and cd-storage insert so I used those to make it easier to see what I’ve got.

I also have a catalog of my yarns and patterns. Embarrassing, but so useful. I originally started keeping this list to make fabric care tags for gifts. Then a friend mentioned cataloging her yarn in order to figure out what project she could start next. A brilliant way to figure out how to match up my list of pattern ideas with my yarn stash…

I have two spreadsheets in Word. The yarn spreadsheet lists the gauge, content, yardage per skein, and number of skeins I have for each colour. For the pattern spreadsheet, I look up the suggested yarn online, and record the gauge, content, and yardage required for the project.

This system is working out really well so far.

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Posted by yarnberry on May 19, 2007

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

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The blog is back

Posted by yarnberry on May 10, 2007

Well. A lot can happen in six months. I finally gave up on trying to redesign Blogger to my taste, and I’ve moved over to WordPress.Things I have done in the past six months:

  1. Learned to knit, finally!
  2. Started teaching a crochet class at my LYS.
  3. Become increasingly interested in the history and cultural impact of handicrafts.
  4. Started a group to submit a plan for a small pattern design company to a business plan competition. Then we decided to drop out when we were told the judges prefer pie-in-the-sky internet business plans.
  5. Finished my first sweater.
  6. Catalogued my yarn stash and started a list of potential stash-busting projects.
  7. Been given a lovely new camera that will make photograph yarn and WIPs much more fun.
  8. Almost, almost finished my degree.

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Please excuse the mess

Posted by yarnberry on November 5, 2006

The blog is going through a little bit of construction while I revise the template. Hopefully I will be able to figure out how to make the archive links work in blogger.

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Posted by yarnberry on October 2, 2006

I found a pattern for a crocheted fisherman-style sweater in Easy Crochet magazine today. Looks like the perfect Christmas gift for my husband, so hopefully I will be able to get it finished in time.

The pattern calls for Denim Style yarn by Bernat, which I don’t find particularly inspiring. I would need nine 196 yard balls, which would cost about $45. The Estelle Silk or Lily Chin aran yarns would be interesting, but they would end up costing cost more like $145 for this project. Ouch! I would love to use Shetland Chunky,I’ve been looking for a project where I can use this yarn again, as it’s lovely to work with. But it is a much heavier weight (15 as opposed to 18 st per 4 inches), and would probably cost $90 or more for the project… I will have to check out some local yarn stores nd see if I can find anything I like.

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