FO: Snowfall Mittens

Last week I managed to finish Jess’s mittens! I managed to squeeze a few rows between my Thursday classes and finally they were finished. I blocked them that evening and it took almost two whole days for them to dry. I have a feeling that they took longer to dry because they were sitting in my poorly-ventilated residence room all day.

Photo credit to Jess S.

Pattern: My own Snowfall Mittens design, still working on writing up the pattern but it should be done soon!

Yarn: 50g Lambs Pride Super Wash in Navy Night and 50g Lambs Pride Super Wash in White Frost both from Lettuce Knit.

Needles: 4mm metal dpns

Photo Credit to Jess S.

The pattern is fairly repetitive and once I had figured it all out on graph paper I barely had to refer to it after the first repeat. The trickiest part was actually incorporating the thumb gusset without “jarring” the pattern on the palms.

The mittens blocked really nicely thanks to the beautiful yarn. Every single time I block something it’s still a little bit magical to see all the little stitch inconsistencies and uneven bits (that I may or may not have fretted over to several unlucky people.) smooth out.

For me Fall is the ideal mitten knitting season- it seems like the perfect way to prepare for winter before the snow flies. Mittens, much like socks, are very portable which is a big plus for me. Well that’s all for right now- it is midterm season after all!

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When the line between engineering and knitting is blurred…

On Thursday night I was trying to study for my design midterm the next morning but it deteriorated into writing up the chart for Jess’s mittens (a more creative name is hopefully forthcoming…) Seeing as I was already unfocused and procrastinating I set my facebook status to: “Studying Engineering Strategies and Practices quickly turned into designing a mitten pattern. Which could be thought of as studying for the design midterm, right?” 8:40 PM

I was expecting to amuse some of my also design-midterm-procrastinating engineering friends (which would be, like, all of us.) What I was not expecting was Nicole C’s response:

“Ensure that your design space is kept as wide as possible, you may wish to draw some black box/transparent box diagrams to analyze the functional inputs and outputs of the mitten pattern, you may also wish to benchmark/dissect/reverse engineer other mitten designs to inspire yourself, but do not concentrate too heavily on the specifics of those  designs, lest you steal other people’s ideas!! Don’t forget to generate a list of objectives and constraints, and don’t confuse objectives with functions, or objectives with constraints. Make sure you take into consideration all the stakeholders of the design, and its particular service environment. Look carefully for secondary, and potentially unintended functions of the mitten design. Use a graphical design matrix to narrow down your patterns, ensuring that the viable patterns meet all of your objectives. Lastly, you may wish to iterate at this point..dropping the name “mitten pattern” because it is too solution-driven..and opt for something like “aesthetic design for the insulating covering for the dexterous component of the upper body appendages”

~Nicole C.

That was basically the core of the whole course applied to knitting patterns. How insanely cool is that? What’s best of all is that she doesn’t even knit! Yet. I’m working on it.

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In which everything has lost it’s rosy tint

The title of this post may lead you to think that I have taken my happy oh-look-you’re-blissful-and-free-for-the-first-time-and-isn’t-it-WONDERFUL attitude and flung it out the window. That is not entirely true. But the workload has hit my friends and it is far more than I ever imagined. Which is good because if I’d known what I was getting into back in the spring when university acceptances started coming in- well I might not be here. Out of sheer terror.

This is one of those moments in life where my insufferable stubbornness is actually really really darn useful. I’ve got this notion that I can do anything with enough hard work and determination. This notion has fail me in the past- most notably getting me sent to the hospital when my body called it quits and I have not forgotten that. I just think I’m a little smarter now. Yeah that’s right, a little more self aware.

Or at least I like to think so.

So I’ve spent the last month finding balance. How much school work do I need to do? (a. lot.) More than I have time for? (Definitely) Okay then WHAT work is important? (The stuff that’s on the midterm) And how can I study more effectively and not longer? (Practices EXAMS)  How much sleep do I REALLY need? ( a lot. no way around it.) How much caffeine can I consume? (very little) How much time can I spend singing and not on linear algebra? (There will never be a suitable response to this question.)

All that stuff.
Anyways I have knitting people. No of course I don’t have time to knit BUT thanksgiving weekends are good for something, particularly when the train ride is so bumpy that preforming matrix calculations is utterly impossible. (I know. Aw shucks.)

This is the first mitten that I designed for Jess S. upon her request in September. Pattern is my own and I will write it up whenever I get around to it. Yarn is navy and ivory 100% wool and heaven help me I can’t find the ball bands but I picked it up a couple weeks ago at Lettuce Knit. It’s fantastic to work with though.

IMG_0090I like it a lot- hopefully Jess will to. I’m praying that I can manage to make a second one that matches, I may have been a little lax at keeping track of the pattern.

And the palm side:


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In the Land of Skyscrapers

University life is far far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.

Not of course to say that I thought it would be unpleasant, just not so delightful. (It is quite possible that in a few weeks when I am crushed under a pile of Calculus and Mechanics problems while trying to finish my design project I may be singing a different tune. But let us not think about that.) I cook whatever food I feel like, when I like without worrying too much that I had rice for dinner yesterday. I clean when I feel like it and sleep when I feel like it and study when I feel like it all the time. This sense of freedom and responsibility is marvelous. There are downsides (laundry is possibility the most annoying chore of LIFE.) but all in all I like it very very much. Interestingly enough my room is much tidier here than it was when I was living at home much to my mothers delight and confusion. “How could it possibly be clean without me nagging everyday?” “I don’t know mummy, one of the mysteries of the universe to be sure.” I’m just kidding. (sort of) Anyhow I’m a finally somewhat settled in this residence in Toronto and have sort of managed to sort out everything. I found myself a choir, a church and a yoga class which covers my “ways-to-relieve-stress-and-not-have-a-breakdown” activities quite nicely. I’ve also found a grocery store and a drugstore and many many coffee shops to provide me with a constant supply of of food, headache medicine and caffeine. I have the addresses of several yarn shops and I think it will me my next weekend adventure to scope them out.

I would ramble further but I have far to much work to do to justify spending anymore time typing this. I will leave you then with a picture of something in my living room that makes me smile every time I see it. Sock monkey plants are awesome!

Can you spot the monkey?
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I am officially a high school graduate.


See? Proof. I made it. In four years despite the neurologists and guidance counsellors that told me I would have to do it in at least five or six or never. I took all the courses I wanted to and I made it. A very big thank you is owed to all of my friends, family and teachers who believed I could and who helped me get there thank you thank you thank you.

But enough of that. What is really awesome about graduation is this:


Yeah. Finished in time 🙂 Dispite the fact that it was alpaca I didn’t fry (anymore than anyone else) in our boiling auditorium.


Start date March 1st 2009

End date June 26th 2009

800 yards of handpainted lace weight baby alpaca, one nightgown (yes the underdress is a night gown.) and some dark blue thread. (Thanks Mom for helping me sew that by the way or it would have been an utter disaster.)

I could not even hazard a guess as to how many hours of my life this took. Upwards of 65 for the knitting at least. many more for ripping back and re-knitting. Several for blocking, weaving in, pinning and sewing it. Several more for the designing and re-designing of the dress in the first place. In short, a lot. I am very pleased with it though I feel a little rattled and I have no idea what to knit now. I’ve done this and only this for so long I feel a little disoriented in the land of knitting and have no idea what project to work on next…..

Fortunately I’m off to camp tomorrow to start my job as a summer camp counsellor. I will pop back occasionally with tales of my adventures but in my absence Cassie has agreed to write some pieces to keep the blog going. More on that in the next post. Cheers everyone!

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Eight days…

I finished my last high school exam today! It was my physics exam and it went very well. I managed to finish every questions in under three hours. I was at somewhat of a loss afterward, I mean, I had a whole afternoon and nothing to study! Preposterous. And perhaps a sign that school took over my life a little bit at the end there…

Faced with nothing to learn I went down to the book store to buy a book on sign language and began learning new signs. Cassie got me interested in sign language a few years ago and she taught me enough so that we could “talk” while listening backstage at choir concerts. I don’t remember much… signs for “song” and “good” and “popcorn” (I don’t know why but I never ever forgot popcorn.)

Anyhow on to what we actually care about here- the dress. The dress that I have exactly… eight days to finish knitting, blocking and sewing. Hold on EIGHT days??? What’s today? The 18th? When did that happen? What the-

Oh. Exams. Right. Nevermind.

Soooo the skirt lace is going well. I’m a little nervous because my swatch didn’t help me much and I’m kinda working blind. Flying by the seat of my pants if you will. I’m increasing as a go inbetween the panels every 4 or 6 rows.

This is what the (unblocked) skirt pattern looks like:


It’s dayflower lace originally by Barbra Walker. I’m using the dayflower scarf chart written by Cheryl Fuller and posted on her blog Jung at Heart. I didn’t include the beads but the chart is awesome.

Here’s the whole thing…


I’ve put the underdress underneath it so the lace can been seen. It’s sort of bunched up on the bottom because it’s still on the needles but you get the picture.  I’m very pleased with it and I think (cross your fingers) that it will be done in time. Wish me luck!

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and she knit and knit and knit

and knit some more

75 rows 170 stitches per row on average, there’s is some highly sophisticated waist shaping in there. and by highly sophisticated I mean I might have decreased and increased sporadically whenever I felt like it. So that give us 12 750 stitches give or take a couple hundred of straight stocking stitch.

In an effort to get this dress finished in time for my graduation I shoved all my other knitting projects into my closet so that I would not be tempted to knit them. For weeks I have knit nothing but dress.

(Okay I confess that’s not ENTIRELY true… I may have cast on the first 60 stitches of a BSJ. The next day when I realized what I’d done I ripped back the cast on and used the yarn to make stitch markers for the dress. This, in my mind, makes up for my tiny moment of weakness. Besides, it was the boring miles of stocking stitch that made me do it, did I really think that garter stitch was going to make it better??)

That one exception aside I have been working that stocking stitch for the entire month of April. No wonder I only posted once in April, everytime I took a picture of it it looked exactly the same! It would have been like this.

April 10th: as you can see I’ve gotten about halfway down the front.

April 14th: and as you can see I’m a few cm past halfway down the front

April 23rd: oh look I’ve knit a jillion more rows and it still looks like I’m halfway down the front.

ect. ect. ect. ect.

Don’t get me wrong I love stocking stitch. Not to mention it was a pleasant break after puzzling over the top lace pattern to just blissfully knit away without worrying about anything. Still, twelve thousand stitches on tiny needles with lace weight yarn? I was a little excited to move onto the skirt lace.

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April Snowstorms

Whatever happened to April showers bring May flowers?

My street looks like this:


That is irrefutably snow. K-town got off lightly though compared to south-western Ontario that got more than 15 cm in some places.

I was not impressed and neither was Butterscotch…


I think he really misses going outside.

Anyways moving on from the dismal forecast….

Even in plain old stocking stitch it’s gorgeous and endlessly interesting. I should be throughly frustrated with how slow it’s going but it’s impossible to be mad at such perfect yarn. Gauge is about 36 rows for 10cm (that’s around 9 rows to 1 inch) and each round is approximately 180 stitches. I’m semi-blocking it as I go to get an idea of how it’s turning out. This is because my gauge swatch is a lying piece of scum. It made me work far too many stitches for this section twice. I had to rip back several thousand stitches each time after I put it on a lifeline, tried it on and discovered I had a few inches of extra material. After checking the math countless times I decided the swatch was to blame and decreased 50 stitches less then I thought it absolutely should be. I have no idea why fifty…I guess it seemed drastic enough. It also worked and now it fits nicely.

It is also impossible to photograph but sort of looks like this now. The colour in the above picture is much more accurate but here you get an idea of how big it is.


And to top it all off it is actually ahead of schedule and I seem to have more yarn then I expected seeing as there is still about 1200 yards left. Things couldn’t be going better so I’m nervously anticipating some knitterly disaster that throws the whole thing into turmoil. It may just be luring me into a false sense of security so I think it’s best to keep alert. Paranoia? I think not.

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If you knit in public occasionally people (sometimes perfect strangers) will feel the need to warn you about the dangers of knitting. Like the fact that you might poke yourself with a sharp double pointed sock needle. I’ve always thought that was kind of funny, I mean, the worse knitting injury I’ve ever sustained was the hole in my finger from trying to knit dishcloth cotton into socks on 0mm dpns. That was a dark time. I still have half a cotton sock by the way and it kind of resembles knitted armor. Anyways, the point is I’ve always kind of laughed at the idea that knitting was dangerous.

Today I’m going to have to eat my words.

I was climbing out of the back seat of a van and fell onto my friends backpack which was home to her gloves-in-progress. One of the 3.5mm needles poked through the backpack and my jeans into my shin. No big deal really. It wasn’t until I got into the house and noticed the blood on my jeans that I realize it was actually well deep. Several cm deep. Ugh.

So I did a little basic first aid (who knew such a tiny wound could bleed so much!?) and all seems to be fine. The muscle is pretty unhappy but I think it’s ok. It looks like there’s going to be a lovely bruise around it as an added bonus. The whole silly thing definitely earned its place on my top 10 list of really really stupid injuries.

So I take it back. Knitting needles are most certainly dangerous. Warn your friends. 🙂

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Picnic at Presqui’l

This is not a very knitting heavy post so if your coming here for the knitting (or to see if I’m freaking out over making my grad dress yet) I’m sorry to disappoint you and you might want to skip this one.

This past Sunday my mother we decided to have a family picnic and bird watching expedition. Our destination was Presqui’l Park which was hosting a water fowl ‘festival’ this weekend for anyone who wanted to come and see the birds in that area of Lake Ontario. I packed my sock project for the car ride. Somehow I didn’t think the dress would enjoy being bounced around in the car or hauled around the muddy, snowy wilderness. Many volunteers organized this event donating their time, scopes (like binoculars but way cooler) and expertise to help the public get a good look at the birds and to tell us what we were looking at.


Without binoculars this is sort of what watching birds looks like. They’re those little black specks in the water. What you don’t see them? Me neither 🙂  With the help of scopes and binoculars we saw ducks of all sorts from common wood ducks to goldeneyes.  I discovered the existence of bufflehead ducks which in my opinion are very very cool creatures. (Besides, who doesn’t love something called a bufflehead?) They are very energetic and delight in whizzing around showing each other up. What else….oh yes there were mute swans to…


Mute swans, I am told, are not native to the area which apparently is why most people I spoke to did not really like them much. Nevertheless I have some respect for any animal that swims so nonchalantly around a semi-frozen lake.  One attempted to land on a patch of floating ice and got quite stuck. It managed to break its way through to open water by bouncing and breaking a path for itself and then it swam away as if it couldn’t have cared less.


Mums scooter did surprisingly well on the slippery ice-covered trails (far better then say…I did)  so we walked through the paths that were open to visitors for a while. The boardwalk was being rebuild so we couldn’t go all the way but we got a decent walk (or ride) in nonetheless.

We decided to take the long scenic route home to which I had no objection because it let me work on my sock for a little while longer whilst pretending to look out the window and be interested in fields, factories and really old  houses. Not that I have anything against fields, factories or houses but driving by them at 80km/h is not generally my cup of tea. We made it to the 4 o clock ferry on time but the line-up was too long and we couldn’t get on. Mum was smart and pulled out a magazine and I just kept knitting around and around on my sock. The rest of my family paced, grumbled, attempted to play video games on a Gameboy with no battery (I’m going to add that one to my list of why I love knitting. Knitting does not run out of batteries at inopportune times. Runs out of yarn maybe, but not batteries.) We were first in line to catch the next one (as we had not moved) so after that it was fairly straight forward getting home.

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