Thursday, May 28, 2009


My sister returns to Cambodia tomorrow. Back to her life and her loving and very lonely husband. Since I am single-handedly responsible for her acquiring a knitting bug during her stay with our mother, I presented her today with the only appropriate parting gift - a knit kit.

It is a a red Knitopotamus (not Hiphopotamus) - a notions case from Clover bought from Danielle at Spun. He has swallowed two row counters, two stitch holders, three tip protectors, a baggie of stitch markers, a Department of Geneticts measuring tape (that's what I had!), my old and well-used gauge and needle size ruler, a Chibi tapestry needles set and a yarn cutter on a string - not "the" string, but a string nevertheless. The lid has been personalized by Lukie after the photos were taken.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yarn Crawl.

Today my sister (liontamer on Ravelry) and I went on a yarn shop crawl. We started with Lettuce Knit in Kensington Market where Cat Bordhi complemented me on my red-orange glasses: we were not taking her class on Moebius knitting, but I just had to go there and see her. We chatted for a bit. It was there that I finally met a yarn that was too pricey for me - I went to buy Alchemy Silken Straw for the Oriel blouse, but after a rapid calculation in my head and even after a good dose of smelling salts it just would not compute. There was another yarn, whose name I forgot that would have made a beautiful sweater, but again quick multiplication yielded the same result - nah-hah.

Onto Romni Wools on Queen Street where I died and went to Noro. After some judicious sniffing, holding and hugging of yarn I tore myself away to buy four skeins of Katia 100% linen for a window curtain which I saw yesterday, three hanks of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in pink for a gift for Irene, and two skeins of Ella Rae Lace Merino because I loved the colour. I wanted to make the Corfu Shawl with it, but it seems that two are not enough, darn. I also found three past issues of Interweave Crochet that I did not have. My sister got some Scottish Tweed Aran Rowan for a sweater for her husband.

Continuing to Milton's Main Street Yarns. After a nice chat with the owner my sister bought some sale yarn for her next project. She is now a total addict.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go for a Stich'n'Bitch, ehem, Sit'n'Knit at Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Knitting Bag.

A call from the screen. Stripes in many colours –
cerise, puce, cranberry, pistachio, ochre,
deep purple
strong enough
to handle the world.
Gold shoes.
Pockets full of life necessities:
tape measures
stitch markers
row counters
tension gauges
yarn swatches
tip protectors.
A rhomboid mouth to let the length out
Spacious enough for my
crochety productions.
Can creativity be carried
in a bag?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Yesterday I received a letter from The Writers' Union of Canada. A story I submitted for their Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers made it to the top 115! I was not a finalist, of course, but I made the first cut! There are two of me right now, because I am beside myself with joy. This was my second story ever written.

The letter came with a review provided by the original reader and contained some really nice things like "great command of language" and "well-written" and "nicely done, a good idea". Unfortunately, the reader missed the point of the story, so obviously I need to work a lot harder.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Silesian Lace.

I remember sunny afternoons, after the dinner dishes had been washed and dried by hand, all the women sitting on wooden benches in the front of their apartments’ stairwells with lapful of lace. They crocheted it effortlessly, their hands blurred in motion, pulling and twisting loops of cotton thread. Their hooks so small as to be invisible on the end of the metal shaft. In and out, in and out, pulling, hooking, loops and chains worked in intricate patterns of flower garlands, bowls of fruit, branches and leaves, peacocks and birds of paradise. They made window sheers and curtains, bedspreads, coverlets, and pillowcases, borders and inserts, tablecloths and napkins, runners and doilies all later displayed in the windows of their flats and on all possible surfaces. Always crocheted in blindingly white cotton. The lace was bleached by the sun stretched on the wooden rakes their husbands made expressly for that purpose: four beams of pine wood polished to a dark sheen by years of use, held together by wingnuts, capable of being screwed to the required size for the piece being blocked and dried. I was brought up to think that it was beneath good taste, too plebeian, too lower-class, too Silesian. Instead I was awed and impressed.
And I still am.
The photo is of my attempt at filet crochet, which is what the women were making, made with 1mm hook sometime in mid 1980s.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Scarves, etc....

I make scarves. At a slightest provocation, with whatever yarn I have. Shorty skinny ones for my sons when they were babies and long, thick ones for my husband who loses them. Last year when I rediscovered crocheting I made about seven of them in a furious spurt of activity. Last week I made a Czech glass-bead embellished Noro scarf for my son’s Mr. Bear. I have thirty-one scarves on Ravelry.

I knit them in lace, in 1-1 rib, and everything else in between.

Even if they are always the same - a longish piece of fabric to wrap around one's neck - they are always different: shorter, longer, narrower, wider, bulky, skinny, silky, wooly, scratchy, smooth, unicolor or rainbow. Every one tells a different story, every one made with dedication and love.

But making scarves is not just a simple rectangle of mindless knitting or crochet. There is a method. To look really good yet simple the scarf’s edges have to be neat and straight, the corners at right angle. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. The slip stitch edging works great for knitting, with crochet you may need a few passes to figure out the best method. The cast on and cast off edges in knitting often stretch and widen - not very attractive. You can call it a design modification or you can try some tricks - smaller needles for the first five or ten (depending on gauge) rows or a tighter cast on and cast off methods.

In crochet my chain is usually too tight when I use the hook required for the gauge, so I use one a size or two up for the beginning chain. Sometimes I use foundation single crochet which is a lot more stretchy. This is very important for crochet scarves made longitudinally where the small amount of tightness multiplied by the length of the scarf results in a big smiley instead of a rectangle.

Once you have the edges figured out and the cast on edge at the right tension, making a scarf is simple and easy. It can be done a few rows or stitches at time or completed at one sitting. Scarves are portable. They can be done mindlessly, although the repetitive stitches of the simplest scarves actually allow you to experience the moment much more fully and as such can be used for meditation.

There is nothing more elegant than an unembellished scarf with even edges and rows and rows of even stitches. It is the essence of knitting, a sample of one’s abilities and a showcase for the intricacies of a pattern or the beauty of a new yarn.

Then there is the triangular kerchief:

And the fabulous curvy or modular crochet scarves:

And I have not even mentioned the imaginative architectural scarves of Lynne Barr!