Saturday, May 21, 2016

Long Weekend Musing

Where to begin? Just got home from Charlotte and, let me say, the weather SUCKED! That's never happened. In all of my years of going to NC, there has never before been a moment wherein I've been grateful to get away from its weather and/or to go back to that of TO. It was totally weird. My mother did, at one point, suggest that I have to stop taking the weather so personally - apparently it affects everyone and not just me?! - but, really, she's in the cheap seats.

The benefit of rain and cold (it was only cold if you live there, for me it was sandal weather) is that it makes for a nice backdrop to knitting. This visit I taught my parents - who are due to retire in about 1 year - how to knit. Turns out that they're likely moving to Asheville when they do retire, you know, land of the fiber arts. So no time like the present.

We went to the 2 local yarn stores and spent some time talking about wool and needles and everything else. I was reminded by how huge the world of knitting really is. At this point, the craft is a kind of language I take for granted (unless I encounter an issue, of course). But for newbies, this can be daunting.

We only breezed by Ravelry - my parents are not social media types and they love to hate the computer. I did show them some motivational blogs (Brooklyn Tweed amongst them). They loved Heather's latest post about her new, aunt-made sweater.

For my parents, we bought some beautiful Peruvian worsted-weight yarn (of course, I didn't write down the info so I have to wait for my mum to send me a pic of the tag). My mother chose a grey mauve and my father a charcoal grey. In retrospect, it would have been easier to teach on light yarn so we went back and bought a ball of light grey/blue acrylic stuff, just for practice. I put together a pattern for simple rib bordered, stockinette scarf for each of them to use up 500 yards of said yarn. So far they're still practicing their stitches.

FWIW, in 4 days, we focused on this:
  • Cast on and bind off
  • Knit stitch
  • Purl stitch
  • How to pick up a dropped knit or purl stitch
  • How to knit or purl back stitches (tinking) when you make a mistake
  • How to "view" the fabric to understand what's going on
  • Stockinette pattern
  • Garter pattern
It's enough info to make a scarf and we can build on these basics next time.

I will corroborate (yet again) that one's knitting style is, fundamentally, a metaphor. My mother was quick to learn and easily frustrated. She "gained" a few extra stitches every few rows. Her tension is naturally even. My father was very serious and technical. He always maintained stitch count and made perfect stitches - at the peril of momentum, natch. Of course, one's initial approach in no way dictates one's journey. It's just a moment in time. But it was interesting to observe (and to manage as a teacher) and it makes me want to remember how I felt about learning this craft. Fortunately, I've got it all on this blog so I think I'm going to take a trip down memory lane. Knowing me, I treated it like a test - and I LOVE tests - cuz, apparently, I'm a bit competitive with myself. Hmmm...

Hilariously, whenever I was upbeat and gave positive feedback, they laughed at me and told me I was acting like a kindergarten teacher.

They kindly bought me some gorgeous yarn (that I'd never before come across):

Classic Elite MountainTop Chalet
It's absurdly soft. It has awesome drape (as evidenced by a great bias-knit shawl pattern on display). I believe the pattern used was the Color Block Bias Wrap by Suzanne Shaw. It's designed with this yarn in mind and it's just fantastic:


The yarn is quite reasonably priced, IMO, given its quality but to make this shawl will set you back about @75 USD. So it's not a cheap garment. Mind you, who needs a freakin' soft, bias-knit wrap more than me?!?

My mother wanted to make this but we convinced her to wait until her second project. The combo of the chain-stitch construction of the yarn (which is in NO way visible in the final knit garment, btw) and the need to understand how to create increases and decreases - not to mention the very drapey nature of the wool - would have been a recipe in frustration, I suspect. Happily, this yarn is readily available in beautiful, natural colourways, so my mum has her next project sorted.

It's a mark of how lovely it was that I was bamboozled into bringing it into the stash - esp. since it's bulky-weight (a yarn-weight I like in principle, but that I don't gravitate towards in practice). The chain construction really does give it an airy quality so it's not a heavy yarn, even given its gauge.

But to totally switch gears...

...I'll leave you with a small story about a very exciting purchase, my newest Arche sandals:

Arche Exor Sandal
These are FREAKIN' gorgeous and I have already worn them to walk miles cuz, yesterday, when I returned from Charlotte, our weather in TO was sublime. Way to start the long weekend.

Let me just say, these shoes are not cheap and cheerful. They're a current style and I'm not in Europe during the July sales. They set me back $375 USD / $450 CDN, which is a totally absurd price for a pair of sandals, I realize. But here's the thing: They are totally sexy. They are elegant. They work with EVERYTHING (jeans, check / dresses, check / pants, check / skirts, check). They look perfect on my feet. Really. And they're like walking on fucking clouds for 5 miles - first time out. I took them off after a night out - and a day of air travel - and my feet were in perfect shape. Not the slightest sign of friction, let alone a blister.

To have such perfection, one is inclined to pay.

I need shoes that I can walk to and fro in with ease (my ever-maturing feet are my car, peeps) and I cannot bring myself to look anything less than chic as I amble down the street with my cute outfit and a cappuccino. Look, perhaps I should be more chill about things, but this is a time in my life when I'm not feeling particularly comfortable in my skin. If a pair of pricey shoes can up my game, then I'm going to pay and walk on.

But here are today's questions: What was your learning-to-knit personality? Has it changed over time? Did you hate learning to knit but now you love knitting? Have you worked with the Chalet yarn? Did you like it? (The reviews on Ravelry are universally positive.) And what about pricey shoes? Where do you stand on that? Let's talk!

19 comments:

  1. Good looking shoes that are comfortable too? No price is too high! Love me some Arche and all their wonderful colors.

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    1. They had this shoe in some crazy colours (fuchsia and bright purple). But I want something that's like a chic extension of the colour of my feet :-)

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  2. As a person who has had various foot/ankle/knee/hip problems for over half her life, I support the decision for good shoes. Some piece of advice I came across years ago to the likes of "spend money on the things that come between you and the earth...bed sheets, shoes, tires etc" has been a valuable life lesson. Especially on days when you are in pain, looking like you are a put together, classy human being, when you feel the complete opposite, can go a long way.

    As for knitting journey....I was probably more like your dad, precise but slow, which is frustrating when all you want is your finished item! But being a slow knitter makes the surprise of finally getting done that much more enjoyable.

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    1. That's it - even if I'm in pain, I want to look (and feel) classy! And I think that slow, considered knitting can be its own sort of meditation (all the knitting is, IMO) but I'm confident he'll speed up some as he gains more knowledge. He's one of those people who likes to understand what's going on - which I can appreciate :-)

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  3. I'm not a knitter... my mum tried to teach me (or did really) when I was young but I did some weird stuff because she is left handed and I am right handed. As for shoes, buy the best you can afford. My criteria for shoes are like yours... I need to walk with stability and at a cracking pace (my normal pace is about 5k per hour). I must look into these although I think I'll have to save!

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    1. I forgot to mention in my post - I'm left-handed and my parents are right-handed! I'm going to have to ask them if this has been challenging.

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  4. I, too, support your decision to buy the shoes. I'm amazed you could walk five miles and suffer not a single blister right off the bat. The sandals are actually worth a lot more than you paid. It's easy to find shoes that are comfy and easy to find shoes that look great and sometimes fairly easy to find shoes that work with all types of garments. To find shoes that do all three? I'm still looking.

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    1. OMG - this is so true! You can get all of the shoes to fit a couple of the brackets, but all 3 at the same time? That's worth the money :-)

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  5. Joining the ranks of those with foot problems... if I found a pair of shoes that looked like that and performed like that, I'd drop the cash in a heartbeat. Okay, maybe not a heartbeat. But yes.

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  6. I looked at sandals like these earlier in the season. I love the look, but they remind me of shoes my grammy wore when I was little. And I am just about the age now that she was then. I just couldn't deal with that. ;)

    My other grandma taught me to knit the first time when I was about 6 or 7. I don't really remember, but I was probably very impatient to get to the finished scarf. I made a few other scarf-like objects and then set the whole knitting thing aside in favor of sewing for many decades. About 10 years ago now, a friend started a prayer shawl group at church and I got back to knitting. With much better manual dexterity and a much better understanding of the mechanics of the process it has been easy to pick it up. Lois K

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    1. Lois - once they remind you of your grammy, they're all over! :-) And thanks for sharing your knitting story. I love that you managed to take it up, once again, with more ease as you've got older.

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  7. Yep! I'd buy them too! Especially after all the culling I'm doing to downsize, fewer items but of the best quality I can afford . . .
    I learned to knit when I was about 5 or 6 -- and I still remember how furious I was when my mom insisted, after a few weeks, that I was ready to learn to throw or flick or whatever it's called, rather than wrapping each stitch right around the needle. I KNEW I could already knit just fine, but she assured me I would be able to knit more quickly if I just followed her method of wrapping for tension and then flicking my pointer finger out and back, out and back, out and back. . . Of course, she was right, and I was a much faster knitter within weeks, but I can picture my six-year-old curly head and I know it was smoking with frustration . . . .

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    1. That's what I'm saying - buy the best you can afford because it will pay off. BTW, every time I walk down the street in the sun (gorgeous weekend here) wearing these shoes I feel like a rock star - a really comfortable rock star.

      You are so lucky that your mother stayed on your case with the flicking. That's what I do now, as you know, and it's so much more efficient than the throwing I started out with. But it's tricky at first! Kudos for figuring out so quickly when you were so young.

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  8. I fondled that very yarn at my LYS the last time I was there. So sad that it doesn't come in dyed colors (I think all of the colorways are natural alpaca colors?) because I'm not super into neutrals. But I still plan on picking up some of the cream or grey the next time I need a neutral to balance out my colors.

    As for knitting - I still don't do that, but I crochet now! (I've been reading your blog for years since before I picked up crochet, coming from the bra-reviews angle.)

    The Arche sandals remind me of Munro Abby sandals, which are also very well-rated for comfort (I have a pair of Munro booties and can vouch for the last) and a bit cheaper, relatively speaking: http://www.munroshoes.com/products/ABBY/M471190

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    1. Thanks for the link - and (to make your day), turns out they do have Chalet in colours - but the yarn is called Chateau. Same brand: http://www.classiceliteyarns.com/product_page_detail.php?category_id=1&item_id=15. Have fun!

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    2. Ahh you're such an enabler, you :) Off to dive down a rabbit hole of yarn...

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  9. birdmommy/E McAfeeMay 23, 2016 at 8:46 PM

    I'm just starting to spend more on shoes - it helps that my company has a Health Spending Account that will cover running or walking shoes. Nothing as cool as yours though...

    It's funny. I've been willing to spend a fortune on bras for years, but I stopped buying expensive shoes when I was pregnant, and never got back in the habit.

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    1. My health spending account doesn't cover these, alas! They only cover the ugly things. If I'm willing to spend on bras - and we know I am - then why am I being all prissy about shoes? They're transportation, after all...

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