Sunday, January 31, 2016

What Passes For Activity On A Saturday Afternoon

Yesterday, I put on my candle and I sat down to knit. Three minutes later it went out and I knew it was done, in that way when the wick gets all drown-y with wax at the bottom of the jar and you can see a bit of metal from the wick. It's not like I didn't know the end was near.

This particular candle didn't burn as evenly as my first. I did keep it going for 2 hours on its first burn and all of the wax at the candle surface melted well, but somehow it was always veering to one side. Eventually it tunneled that way. Which means I was left with quite a lot of soy wax candle and no way to enjoy it.

A while ago I bought some wicks with the intention of making candles. I haven't done so, as yet, because I just can't seem to get into it. I guess I'm not adequately motivated. But damned if I was going to throw away 25 per cent of a candle cuz it burned wrong.

Which is how I came up with this:

The wax hardened to a pure, milky white colour when it set... just like the original.
I realize that this photograph isn't art work but there was no way for me to move the subject to a more attractive spot (than the hideous kitchen counter) once I'd poured the wax and precariously set the wick. BTW, the thing holding the wick upright is a moose cocktail pick. Those things are endlessly useful and they work for martinis too.

This project wasn't rocket science. The soy wax ejected from the original candle jar quite easily with a knife. It's much softer than beeswax, btw. I carefully removed the old wick and stuck the wax into a short mason jar which I then put into a pot with water (filled half way up the height of the jar). I set the heat on medium low and watched the pot carefully, occasionally stirring. In 10 minutes I had melted candlewax which I poured it into a smaller jar, fitted with a wick of the correct height. That part was more accidental than anything. Next time I buy wicks, I'm getting really long ones. They're easier to work with because you can cut them to the appropriate size. In the background of the photo, you can just see the one other candle I produced from this recycle project - a little tea light version.

Even if you never intend to make a candle, you should most definitely have some wicks on hand. That way you will be able to eke out every last moment of that candle you spent 60 bucks on. It'll take less time than frying up some eggs and even the most craft-challenged person can manage it.

I for one am very impressed with myself. Have you ever tried this?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

On Chateaux in Medoc...

I'm deep into pretending mode. On discovering, earlier this week, that our reno is going to be delayed by 3 months (for reasons of municipal cash grab that I cannot bring myself to get into), I've decided to approach this whole thing like I'm a naive, English-speaker trying to restore an ancient chateau in the outer reaches of Medoc. Regrettably, I won't have a restored chateau in Medoc to show for it, at the end of the day, but it's so much more romantic and understandably problematic than my own renovation. Apparently well-planned, well-navigated and native doesn't make for a knowable downtown Toronto reno.

Delay means my careful manipulation to avoid a major rebuild in cold months is pretty well a thing of the past. You'd be wise to point out that (at least) this delay occurred before half of my house was taken down, so I suppose I should be grateful. But spending an extra 5 grand - on permitting that shouldn't be required but for the whimsical expiry of a by-law - is a real kick in the teeth. Not to mention that delay keeps me in stress stasis for that much longer. Have I mentioned that I could buy a small suburban home for the cost of this project? Have I mentioned that I'm a nice, double-income, urban-middle-class lady. I don't exactly live in Rosedale. My kid does not go to private school. This expenditure isn't exactly within my comfort zone.

Yeah, I know. It's a first-world problem of the highest order. Don't feel sorry for me. Well, actually, if you'd like to feel sorry for me - or to commiserate in comments - I'm sure as hell not going to interfere.

All I can say is that, when this fucking reno is over, I'm going to be the one with that magazine-worthy, awesome house that everyone in the neighbourhood tries to copy (but can't possibly) because mine will be one of a kind. Who'll need trips to chateaux in Medoc when I will have my century/modern tour de force to hang in?

On an entirely unrelated note, I totally copied Peter and had a stamp made to create twill-tape labels for my knitted (and sewn) goods:
I'm still learning how to apply the stamp to the fabric smoothly.
Very Portland, wouldn't you say?

I'm particularly happy to have this for my stash-busting knitted projects because most of them will be gifts and I want to blow everyone's mind with my urban-hipster forethought. Of course, I neglected to moderate the sizing of the wordmark (I wish the second line were smaller than the first). Live and learn. I guess I'll have to make another stamp at some point, but I'm not buying from America in this economy. The other day I told Scott that I'd bought something for M from the States (she tormented me with endless, plaintive requests till I gave in). I said: It cost 30 bucks US - how bad can it be? To which he wryly replied: I don't know. 100.00 CDN? That's what passes for humour here these days.

I choose to dwell on my fiscal prudence (stash busting) rather than my theoretical excesses (cold-pressed juice delivery habit). And hey, that juice was pressed in Canada.

That's me so far this weekend. How about you? Up to any exciting activities? Whatcha think of the stamp idea? Should I hand sew the labels into the knitted projects or should I machine them? I don't want it to look twee but I do want to work with the vibe of hand-knits. Thoughts?

Monday, January 25, 2016


My kid has this saying: If it doesn't matter in 10 years, it doesn't matter now. Apparently, that sentiment is courtesy of my mother. And, while I totally don't get with it as a justification for academic laziness, I have to say it's apt when it comes to all of the things that we bring home and keep.

To wit: We've been culling (intermittently) for 2 years - to prepare for a reno (which was more theoretical than actual till recently). Every weekend my husband does an hour of recon/reorg/recycle in the basement - and I assist. We are endlessly productive as goes divestment of stuff, but there's always more to contend with. And I'm one of those people who culls extensively. I mean, I'm a cusp minimalist.

Admittedly, my husband is a pack rat of sorts. He's not a hoarder but he can find a sustainable use for just about anything. And really, we've benefited endlessly from his storage of certain odd-ball nails or tools or pieces of wood and plastic. So it's difficult for me to blame him given that this world is teeming with unnecessary duplication and waste.

But it's easy for things to pile up as a kind of metaphor for sustenance. Don't misunderstand - when I say easy I mean, for a divester, it can take a long time. But eventually I'll fill a drawer with things that never see the light of day. Today, I went through one of my night-stands and discovered that more than half of the contents were obsolete. In truth, I found only a couple of letters and keepsakes that were dear to me still. But I also rediscovered a dove-shade cashmere wrap - originally bought for 250 bucks (like, 15 years ago) from Ewanika. It's almost etiolated but in perfect condition. It's perhaps the only thing I've ever stored (rather than worn) because of its dearness and perceived delicacy. Generally, I find that path absurd. I really don't know what element of my psyche has condemned this beautiful garment to the darkness of a wooden drawer as it's in the top-10 of the most perfect textures I've ever worn. No mind. What's done is done. I'm wearing now it as I type.

I'm ruthless when it comes to the craft supplies (and fruits thereof). If it doesn't work, if it doesn't thrill, I give it away. I'm pretty tough on the perishables of the wardrobe too. But how do I toss the last, little white plastic ball that fit into M's Fisher Price box (long gone). How do I say goodbye to the note from my one-time 5 year old, scribbled and misspelled: Pleez dont be mad at me. What about the letter wherein my mother tried to explain to the 4-year-old in me that moving to England was a veritable necessity? Is there any usefulness in half-completed journals?

My point is that, while I'm not vulnerable to sentiment, the edge of nostalgia touches even someone as practical as I happen to be.

I urge myself to keep an eye on things, not because they'll overwhelm me with their eternal concreteness (there's always a charity or, in worst case, a landfill to accommodate them) but because, if they're worthy or useful, I need to remember them. A closed door that acts like dam is very different than one which stores treasures.

But you've got to catalog those treasures. It keeps one honest, no?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bust The Stash: Finished Object - Mirri Cowl 2

So I'm having a knitting moment. More to the point, my objective is to post a photograph of every finished Bust the Stash project, on completion. So here's Bust the Stash Project 2: Mirri Cowl knit with Shibui Staccato:

Lord, I love this yarn. I love this pattern. The stitches did not twist. The finished object is beautiful and it drapes well and it looks great. So here's to an unqualified success (at 413 yards for a modified large).

Wait - I can qualify it. I actually had to weave in a new ball on my bind off row?! (It's ok.) And that means I have 180 yards of this yarn remaining. That's code for: I'm going to have to knit another freakin' pair of fingerless mitts. Yup, back to 23 items on the stash list.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

When Stash Busting Goes Wrong (And How to Knit the Decalage Scarf By Weight)

Warning: Hilarity ensues. Or boredom, based on your own predilections.

So, I realized on rereading the Decalage pattern (which is knit using 4 colourways of 2 types of yarn - merino and stainless silk) that I initially lowballed the yardage of merino required. Actually, I also misread the yardage of Habu Stainless Silk required - but in the opposite direction. Had I realized that I was only ever going to get through 1/3 of my stainless silk stash, I think I would have reconsidered my pattern choice. But, as it happens, the pattern takes @1750 yards of lace-weight merino (yeah, I had to go back to the store to double my initial purchase). Furthermore, it only uses a mere 250 yards of the stainless silk. Um, WTF, people!?

On no planet is this a viable stash-busting exercise.

The best I can say is that I hatched a mathy plan (details below) to use every last yarn of the newly-purchased merino on this very project. And, if this pattern yields a beautiful outcome - as I really hope it will - I can reknit this project twice more in the future. At which point all of the Habu will be gone and I can forge ahead with my life unencumbered. Not to mention that it will be much easier to knit this project next time - as I've done most of the thinking this time around.

Let me say that I'm not upset by where I find myself. I've actually enjoyed this process tremendously so far. I mean, it's freezing outside and I was motivated to get my ass to the yarn store when it opened at 10am. This project is kind of keeping me sane. (Question: Does this make me a process knitter?)

But, before we go to the calculations (which will thrill a few of you and bore the rest), I'm compelled to clarify the number of ways in which this project has already failed as a stash-bust:
  • Buying 1750 yards of freakin' dental floss yarn is not a good offset for the usage of 250 yards of other dental floss yarn (even if it that yarn is in the stash).
  • When I bought my first half of the merino last week, I had a discount. This week there was no discount PLUS I couldn't use either of my stocked US5 needles (Addi) because the cables fucking suck and I reflexively buy 32" and 40" cable lengths (for maximal utility). As this scarf is only going to be 9" wide, and I'm going to be managing numerous small balls of yarn simultaneously, I decided I could not also bring myself to wrangle a bad, long cable. I want this project to be enjoyable. So, while buying new yarn, I also bought a new, metal Chiaogoo needle with a 24" cable. Note: The ones with the red or metal cables are the best needles out there, IMO - especially if you always use cable needles and you do a lot of magic loop. Also, they're really affordable. 
  • The upshot is that this stash-bust project has cost 100 bucks?!?!? I have not been to the yarn store so much in the last year, as in the last month. And my current stash has grown by 3000 yards, between the lace-weight merino (admittedly, it's almost on the needles) and the Sweet Georgia worsted I re-stashed after ripping back the KNUS. Don't panic! I have a plan.
  • Best of all (and this is where we'll segue into the math), in order to use all of my yarn - given that one holds the same colour in 3 strands for 2 sections of this project (and I only have 2 balls/skeins of each) - I had to figure out how to apportion the yardage within each ball. That took a couple of hours. Yes, I've barely put string to needles and I've spent 5 hours on this project, between the choosing and the buying and the mathing and the ball-winding by hand. Actually, it's 7 if you include the time required to create this post. Secret admission: I kind of love the analytical prep.
Let's kick off the math with a pic:

At the bottom of that heavily graffitied page, you'll see a schematic of the 6 sections of this simple, flat-knit, stockinette scarf. The sections vary by yarn type used, number of strands held simultaneously and colours of strands held simultaneously. In brief - the first and last sections (1 and 6) are the shorter sections and they use the Habu stainless silk held with one strand of merino (2 strands in total). All other sections (2, 3, 5 and 6) are knit holding 3 strands of merino - either all in one colour or 2 in one colour and 1 in the other.

How to Make this An Easy / Enjoyable Knit (Note: It involves a complicated set up.) 

Who should read on? Anyone intending to make this scarf or anyone who'd like to understand the mechanism of "knitting by weight".

What I realized pretty early on is that I wasn't going to be able to just pick up a skein and knit unless I was willing to buy 3 balls of each colour of merino (the only way I'd be able to hold 3 strands of the same yarn in the same colour without chopping up the individual balls). That is not in the stash-busting handbook, as then I'd be left with ends of skeins. So I knew right away I'd need to break up the balls into mini-balls.

At that point it occurred to me that I could do it in a half-assed, ad hoc fashion (resulting in lots of lace yarn twisting between larger, different-sized, multiple balls simultaneously - anyone who knits knows exactly what I'm talking about) OR I could figure out how much yardage of each yarn colour would be alotted to each section. That was a multi-stepped process, as evidenced by the pattern page, covered in scribbles.

How to apportion the yarn, by weight - and segmented into mini-balls - for each scarf section:
  • Don't worry about the Habu. It's used in only 2 sections and they don't overlap. You're only going to consider your total yardage of merino (the majority of yarn used and that which is held double or triple in the same colour). In my case, that accounts for 1750 yards. The pattern suggests that it should be @1850 but I wasn't buying any more skeins. Since I'm working this pattern by weight and proportion, it doesn't matter. Each of my 6 sections may be just be a titch shorter than the one designed by Julie Hoover, presuming I get gauge. No, I haven't done a gauge swatch for a freakin' stockinette scarf because that's where I draw the line.
  • Figure out what percentage of the overall scarf length (70" according to the pattern), each section represents. I can tell you that sections 1 and 6 represent about 8% each and sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 represent about 21% each. If you'd like to make this scarf a different length, just recalculate. Note: I might have done that before buying tons of extra yarn but I didn't want a scarf as short as it would have ended up being, in order to get by with half of the required merino.
  • Since you now know your total yardage of merino (total skeins bought) and the percentage that each scarf section represents, you can figure out how much merino - by yardage - is required for each section. For example, 8% of 1750 yards is 140 yards. This info is useful but, unless you're going to measure out every ball by the yard (which using lace-weight would take FOREVER), you'll want to know how many grams that represents. Since we're being serious about the math here, I do recommend that you start this process by reweighing your yarn before you get going. Sometimes a 50g skein will actually weigh 48 or 52 grams. You'll want to account for that when you go through the next step. It doesn't matter what the label says, work with the actual weight you've got.
  • Figure out the grams per yard by dividing the yardage by the number of grams in a ball. (My balls are 50g to 437yards each. That means that 1 gram represents 8.75 yards of merino.)
  • Divide the yardage, required per section AND per colour, by the number of yards per gram. In my case, for section 1, 140 yards divided by 8.75 yards equals 16 grams of yarn.
  • Then - and this is the zen meditative part! - you get out your scientific scale - cuz small amounts of lace-weight yarn are too light to be measured accurately on a regular yarn scale - and figure out to the 10th of a gram how much yarn is in each ball by weighing it - every 10 seconds - as you wind.
In the end you'll have a bunch of mini-skeins. Unless the original ball is such that the mini-balls created from it divide evenly into the original (unlikely), you're going to have to figure out the most efficient way to break things down into additional, partial mini-balls, so that you keep the end-weaving to a minimum and the mini-balls per section as "whole" as possible. I'm sorry if this is articulated unclearly. It's a very tricky concept to explain in the abstract.

Yeah, this process may not be hard but it is HARDCORE.

If you work with Rowan Fine Lace (50 gram ball = 437 yards), you'll end up most efficiently with 16 mini-balls (6 weighing 14 grams each and 2 weighing 8 grams each*) , some of which are represented in the pic below:

I've indicated, with stickers, what the colour is (A or B) and what section the balls will be used for (1-6). Then I've packed them into mini ziploc bags so that I know exactly what balls I'll be working when I get to each section.

Yeah, that's a lot of front-loaded effort, but now all I've got to do is open up a baggie, knit on the requisite strands and colours of yarn required in any given section, and keep going till I get to the end of the row at which its done. Repeat 6 times and bind off.

Little balls of yarn can't twist as horribly as big ones (though I do know how all work held multistrand can be a twisty pain in the ass) and I don't need to think about what I'll need to use where and when I'll need to stop. I'm not working this scarf by length, but by weight and proportion. It should still work out more or less conforming to the dimensions of the pattern, but it matters not.

Next time someone implies that my math skills are mediocre, they can jump off a bridge.

PS: I'm getting dangerously close to designing my own patterns. Between my technical comprehension of fit, construction and math, I've got the skill set. Now I need the motivation.

Oh, and here's a little photo of section 1 (merino in colour A and stainless silk in colour A):

It's not yet much to look at here but the texture is pretty amazing.

*The two, 8 gram balls of the same colour will be used in the same scarf section (section 1 or 6) to provide the 16 g required for each. Remember, this math only works if you use the same yarn that I've used - Rowan Fine Lace or the same ratio grams to yardage. The likelihood is that any lace-weight yarn is going to be closely aligned to this ratio, but it won't be exact unless your skeins are 50 g for 437 yards.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bust the Stash: Thoughts on the Mirri Cowl

Hideous experience notwithstanding, I like this cowl:

Mirri Cowl (modified size)
I made a modified large (there's a choice between small, which is like a short tube, or the large which loops around the neck twice). Because I knew I wouldn't have enough yarn to make the large (I had 366 yards), I determined a smaller number of stitches to cast on, divisible by both 5 (the rib pattern repeat) and 8 (the eyelet body repeat). The number that sounded good to me was 280 stitches. The pattern instructs 320 for the large. Then, though the pattern instructs to knit the 16 row eyelet repeat 3.5 times in total, I repeated 2.5 times only. Alas, vis a vis my last post, I was still short 3 yards of yarn.

As you can see in the photo below, it's not a bulky cowl - not with these dimensions in fingering-weight yarn - but I prefer a subtler silhouette. The second Mirri Cowl, which I'm making now, has the same circumference stitch count, but I will work the recommended number of eyelet repeats which should secure me another 1.5 inches in width.

A Bit of Info About the Pattern:

This is a terrific pattern for a new knitter looking to work in the round while enjoying a tiny bit of skill development / interest with lacework. It doesn't take much yarn in the scheme of things. The large size is calculated to require up to 650 yards of yarn (I think that's quite generous), while the small clocks in at a proposed 400 yards. As I noted above, I was able to make a modified large with less than 400 yards of yarn so I don't think you need to be slavish to the approximations. With my mods (presuming that your stitches approximate gauge), a modified large cowl can be made with 375-400 yards of yarn. (Update: My second version took 413 yards, so let's say you'll need 425...)Yeah, that's more fingering than you might have lying around after finishing a sweater, but I appear to have it 2 times over in my own stash - and my stash isn't that voluminous. Even if you opt to buy yarn for this project - and I think it's cute enough to warrant that - it wouldn't be a particularly pricey venture.

It's also a great pattern for someone looking to make a quick(ish) luxe gift.

A cowl is nothing but practical, even if you live in warmer climes. We all contend with climate control...

The pattern itself is one page in length. It's concise but well-written and error-free.  The fabric it makes is geometric and elegant.

Made in springy wool (like Quince Finch), it sits loftily. Made in a merino/silk blend (like Shibui Staccato), it drapes lightly.

I'm really happy to have found this pleasant-to-knit, lovely pattern though I realize I'd have been unlikely to notice it, had I not embarked on stash-busting exercise.

That's my take on the first of the Bust the Stash projects. Thoughts?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bust the Stash: Finished Object 1 - Mirri Cowl

I don't know when it happened that "Bust the Stash" got a bit "who cares what goes wrong, I'm forging ahead" - but that's kind of where I landed with the Mirri Cowl. Do not misunderstand. It's a great pattern - so much so that I'm casting it on for the second time in about 10 minutes but, Lord, how did all everything go wrong?:
  • Twisted the stitches on the second row but didn't realize it until the 5th. At that point, the idea of re-casting on 280 stitches (my modified number) for a third time (first time failed) really wasn't appealing. Of course, I neglected to consider that this cowl has a right-side and a wrong-side to the fabric. Not exactly seed stitch... So a twist in the cowl means one is destined to see the wrong side of the fabric in some places at any given moment. Mind you, once you double wrap a cowl around your neck, that happens anyway...
  • Ran out of yarn. I predicted (with math) that I'd have 5 g of yarn remaining at the end, but that's because I subtracted incorrectly. Doesn't help that I understand all of the complex ways to determine sizing if I can't subtract for shit. I actually ran out of yarn 3/4 of the way through the bind off. Twice. First time, on realizing I was short yarn, I ripped back 10 rows (to maintain the integrity of the lace pattern), subtracted a knit row and also subtracted one of the rib rows at the end. (That go round, I was short about half a row.) Second time I was short a third of a row (though it makes no sense because I cut an extra row?!?!). I used some white Koigu in my stash, held double, to approximate the weight and feel of the more robust Quince Finch. It looks strangely intentional but the first time I tried to finish the bind off with this yarn I realized how weedy it looked with just a strand, hence my work-around, holding the yarn double on the second try. I was out of alternatives cuz there was no way I was ripping back 15 rows, on the third try, to shorten this pattern by yet another row. I'd been burned twice and it shouldn't have been an issue even once!
  • Clinging to the idea that I'd have enough yarn to finish the bind off with the just the Finch, I cut every tail (usually I weave them in after knitting new yarn in) and tied the tails with double knots to the yarn end. My desperate aim was to eke out the enough yardage with a last few yards held together with knots - way to compromise the integrity of the work. In my life have I never done this.
  • Not to mention that, right out of the gate, I messed with the pattern by making this piece shorter than (fewer stitches in the circumference - which, it turns out, is no issue as regards the finished length) and narrower than (less optimal but still ok) the pattern calls for in the larger size.
On the plus side, I don't have one fucking yard of yarn remaining and, while blocking, I can see that my errors are going to be invisible to anyone who wears this. Here's a little shot of it as it blocks:

Mirri Cowl Take 1 - you can see my yarn disaster work-around on the top left of the scarf (in the bind off row). That's Koigu held double finishing the cowl.
I'll show you how it looks, once dry, and we can decide how it turned out.

Gotta say, my next version will be started from scratch until I don't twist the stitches - whether that takes one time or more. And that second version will be made with 2x the yardage that I used to make this one, so there's no way I'll run out.

Thoughts or feelings?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Work No Longer In Progress: RIP KNUS

Update on the update: OK, I was right the first time. One of the skeins I just unwound was cut half way through (so it presented as 2 balls - but the same size as one another so it confused me). To clarify - I've got 1025 yards - I know. I weighed the yarn. That's slightly over 5 skeins because Sweet Georgia errs on the side of giving me more yarn than the label promises.

Updated: Egad! I'm still ripping back this fabric - it's been more than an hour (I wrote this post, originally, last night, with the intention of undertaking the undoing of this sweater when I got home from work. I guess, having never done this before, I underestimated how long this would take.  Moreover, I was wrong about how much of this yarn I purchased?!?! (And I just purchased it all.) I actually have 1200 yards (6 skeins). Which means that I'd actually knit 900 yards before ripping back. Whoa, painful. And now I'm up to 8700 yards of stash yarn. I feel a bit overwhelmed.

By now it's done. I've ripped back the onerous, clunky, unhappy-making KNUS. It's rare that I dislike knitting something so much. I've actually never before ripped back a sweater that's 700 900 700 yards complete (that's 70 per cent of the finished garment). I've actually been avoiding the project bag for the last week. Many things I may be but "procrastinator" is amongst them. In truth, I've been on the fence about this garment since I was 100 yards in and then I spent another 30 hours knitting 600 800 600 more yards only to feel increasingly iffy with every row. (In retrospect, maybe I spent longer than 30 hours. It's not like I time myself while doing these things.)

Sometimes you have to cut your losses (and be grateful for the opportunity to make something else) but man, just rewinding 700 900 700 yards of yarn by hand is enough to put one off the task. Never mind all the work I'll simply have to chalk up to "learning". Fucking learning.

On the plus side, that gives me another 1000 1200 1000 yards of worsted for the stash. And that was the underrepresented yarn-weight!

So today I'd be grateful if you could regale me with a story about a time when you ripped back a major project and it was super unpleasant for a mere 10 minutes (but then you realized what a necessary and positive experience it turned out to be). Or you could tell me how it tortured and tormented you and you've never got over it. I'm looking for empathy. I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Busting the Stash: Wherein I Advise About How I Begin this Series With A Yarn Purchase

Don't judge. You haven't heard the story yet and I swear that this was all part of the plan. Just check my Ravelry queue notes which were devised days ago!

See, here's the thing: Long ago I bought 2 skeins of Habu Stainless Silk in colourway 4, which is pretty damned brown, as it happens. Allow me to provide you with this well-earned life-advice: There's not much you can do with 600-odd yards of thread-gauge stainless steel coated in silk. That's brown. Ask me how I know. And what you can do is mainly ugly and/or difficult (unless you've got a knitting machine).

So this yarn has been sitting pretty - one might say taking up space - without any hope of being used since 2014. Occasionally I have thought about it. I've thought and mulled and then felt anxious about the dearth of options and then I've opted not to think about it and, you guessed it, yarn still in stash.

This one isn't going to sort itself out by happenstance or luck. There's no way to go slightly off road with a sort-of-relevant pattern to produce a usable garment or accessory. Floss-weight stainless steel requires serious knitting-planning and the one thing I did - all fucking weekend - was seriously plan my knitting.

Here's the pattern I landed on:

Decalage by Julie Hoover
It's one of the very few devised for Habu Stainless silk that also appeals to me and looks easy (if potentially tedious cuz, it's knitting with dental floss). You may recall the last thing I started to knit with dental floss, two years ago, is still only 60 per cent complete as I decided, on dropping stitches semi-regularly - if knitting when simultaneously watching TV - to make it my Montreal train project. Don't worry, I love it, still half-finished as it is, and one day it will be awesomely complete. Point is, knitting with veritable sewing thread can be a process.

But there's nothing to be done. You buy thread, you knit thread.

Alas, if you check out Ms. Hoover's delightful Decalage scarf, the one photographed above, you will discover (as I did) that it is comprised only partially of stainless steel thread. The thing that makes it look like wool is, well, actual wool. Lace-weight merino, to be precise.

So I found myself in a true conundrum which lasted all of 30 seconds before I thought: Woohoo! I get to buy more yarn!! And then I started to plan.

What I ended up with, from Ewe Knit, is a very affordable merino/alpaca blend laceweight yarn called Rowan Fine Lace. It has very little halo, which is why I could get with it, and it feels every bit as soft and drapey as the stainless steel does not. Note: The idea is that the steel, held double with the wool (in interesting colour schemes) produces a finished ombre fabric of malleable properties. It's both soft and delicate (like a cloud) but also structured. What's even better is that I got to use my Ewe Knit yarn points (it's a thing they do) so this yarn cost me practically nothing! I don't know what that says about my yarn habit but work with me...

I bought a mere 2 tiny skeins, the exact yardage required. Gotta love how you get a zillion yards of lace-weight yarn in a ball slightly larger than the size of a deck of cards.

And because, strangely, I bought that stainless silk in a sort of taupe-brown colourway - not one I wear - I was forced to move out of my comfort zone (aka grey or blue). People, I went all mauve and I LOVE it:

The stainless silk is in those cones. The Rowan skeins are in the colours Antique (darker) and Cameo (lighter).

My apologies for the inaccurate photography (the lighter yarn - which looks beige here - is actually the subtlest shade of lavender you've ever seen but having a brown undertone to complement the stainless silk). When it's 6 pm in January there is NO light to be had.

Here are stock shots:

This is the Rowan Fine Lace in Antique

This is the Rowan Fine Lace in Cameo - the photos bring the beige forward but I swear it's as pale as purple gets.

I have a feeling that the finished scarf is going to look like a morning cloud tinged by the sunrise. Lord help me, I'm almost ready to overthrow the INSANELY unpleasant (and maybe ugly) KNUS to get going on knitting with freakin' stainless steel right now. (Yeah, that's how much I dislike working on the KNUS though I cannot bring myself to throw in the towel. Is it that I see potential, still? Or am I too stubborn to cut my losses? Maybe it's that the thought of ripping it all out is giving me virtual hives? I don't know.)

Next post on this topic, I'll tell you all about the 16 stash-busting projects I've found - some of which I intend to knit in triplicate or more! When you have limited yarn, you have fewer pattern options on which to use it.

But, for today, do tell: You can see how I had to buy new to make use of (an admittedly) poorly thought out prior purchase. Has this ever happened to you? Do you like this purchase-net-neutral stash buster pattern? Let's talk!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fucking January

I woke to the news that David Bowie has died from cancer at the age of 69 and, inasmuch as one can be bereft over the death of a rock star one has never met, I cannot quantify how this upsets me. I developed my identity with his music. It's more than culturally relevant for me - it's part of my personal definition, my definition of music. I could write 5000 words on meaningful experiences I've had while listening to Hunky Dory, seeing Tin Machine in my teens, the Modern Love era. Let's just say I've had a lot of good sex to that music - and (not simultaneously) a lot of good dinner parties.

Now I've got to dwell on the loss of a personal icon, stupidly prematurely. At least he did just about everything. I can't imagine, on his deathbed, he regretted a life unlived.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bust the Stash: An Introduction

I've been wondering what I'm going to write about when we begin the renovation: I won't be able to sew (no sewga room), cook (no kitchen), make skin care (again, no kitchen and reno zones don't make for good cosmetic facilities). I won't be vacationing (gotta supervise a complex process even if it will have its own project manager). It's possible I'm going to feel a bit, well, stressed (never my most fun blog fodder).

But then it occurred to me: I'm going to knit (happy body notwithstanding). Moreover - I'm going to knit every last freakin' strand of yarn in my stash and document the whole process.

(On hearing about this, Scott suggested it might be vaguely more interesting for me to write about my stress.)

I'm also going to visit every awesome restaurant in TO - I've budgeted for this ALL summer while I have no kitchen - and I'm sure that will warrant some discussion.

BTW, they tell us that the duration of this project will be 4 months. I say that's high on drugs - though I desperately wish that I could believe them. Mind you, every reference (and I checked them all) indicated - with utter shock - that they came in on time to the day. Note: We're working with an independent architect and our scope may creep, as we say in the biz (it already has), so we may be advised about a longer timeline, before the shovels hit the ground, but our project manager has assured us that minor changes wouldn't add more than a month to the project. Let's just say I'll be happy if I have a finished reno, complete with new hardscaping in the back yard, by Thanksgiving (mid-Oct). I'll be fucking ecstatic if it happens by the end of August. (Our goal is to kick this off - permits and weather pending - in mid-April or beginning of May.)

But never mind that. This is where I introduce my Bust the Stash series. (Scott would also like you to know that he thinks knitters use crazy language and this puts him mind of drugs and police.)

Technically, I'm starting this process as soon as I finish that KNUS thing. I'm trying to like it but I have so many reservations that are only going to come out alright (or very wrong) on the blocking. So it's hard to slog away under those circumstances. Having said this, if it's all wrong, I'm ripping it out (ugh to ripping out dozens of hours) and turning it into viable stash for the Bust the Stash!

To kick things off, let me clarify that - by knitting standards - I am not a hoarder. In fact, here's what I'm working with:

This photo was taken part way through my organization process so don't pay attention to how unlovely it looks. The tissues are in the bags because I put a few drops of cedar essential oil on them, to deter any bugs, and occasionally re-scent them as the fragrance disappears. The ziploc bags are also used to deter bugs.
Non-knitters may be surprised to learn that knitters can have entire rooms full of stashed yarn. Or closets at the very least. I shudder to think of how long it would take me to destash that sort of habit. I estimate I'll keep myself busy - on this stash alone - until the end of 2016.

Allow me to explain what you're seeing in that pic:

That's my entire stash. It fits into a fabric banker's box. Most of the yardage is made up of small remnants of yarn which remain after having completed larger projects. (You know you have to slightly overbuy or you run the risk of coming up short.) A couple of the largest yardages in my stash are gifts. In the bottom right you'll see some hearty navy Lopi (Icelandic) yarn from my friend Michael, who visited this summer and kindly brought back yarn for me! The gorgeous pink yarn, from my friend Ruth, is chunky alpaca - the most beautiful and soft fiber but tricky to use because it's very bright and rather thick. 

I'd advise you about the total figure of yards stashed if I could figure out how to figure out that one outstanding detail in Ravelry. I find it hilarious that I haven't figured it out already because - as I've mentioned numerous times - if I had to live in a website it would be Ravelry and I use the fuck out of it, like, in an advanced fashion. OMG people! I just figured it out and my love for this site is more boundless than ever.  There's a little button at the top right of the Stash page, to the left of the advanced search feature) that EXPORTS all of your hard-won information into a beautiful Excel file. Tells you EVERYTHING in one easy spreadsheet. Well formatted too. Anyway, I just added up my total remaining yardage and it comes to a higher-than-imagined total of 7462 yards. Let's call that 7500 yards.

I've got to say, I'm surprised. I mean, I realize that my little banker's box of yarn is full and I'm the one who spent an entire afternoon organizing it to within an inch of its life. But I don't buy indiscriminately. 90 per cent of the time I've got a project in mind when I buy yarn.

Alas, 99 per cent of the time I have remnants in the neighbourhood of (let me look at my spreadsheet for a moment) 30 to 200 yards. Not really enough to do anything with but too much to discard.

And while we're deconstructing this, 7500 yards will knit up into about 7 sweaters or 3 blankets. In large project terms, it's meaningless.  Alas, 7500 yards of 50 yards of this and 200 yards of that is a bit of a dog's breakfast to utilize.

How I've been preparing:
  • So... I spent last week (for hours every evening) going first through my "favourites" (a category in Ravelry) to determine whether I have enough yardage of various yarns to make things I keep on the radar. Unsurprisingly, the answer has been, generally, no. This is because I tend to prefer projects that use a lot of yarn and I don't think to "favourite" the stash buster patterns.
  • What I did next was to use the advanced patterns feature to comb through hundreds of pages of potential projects requiring the specific amounts of yardage in my stash. When I found them, I faved them too so that I have all of my options in one place. It's tougher than you think because I'm very fussy about how I use yarn and there aren't a ton of things (other than baby garments, hats, fingerless mitts and cowls) to be made with remnants. None of these types of projects thrills me. Not to mention that one must comb through zillions of patterns just to weed them out.
  • But here's the thing: Bust the Stash is not about making things for me specifically. It's about making things for whomever they suit. So I'm getting with the hats, mitts, cowls, baby stuff AND ornaments. 
  • The next thing I did was, strictly speaking, not necessary - but I'm happy I did it because a) I am an organizer's organizer and I love doing this sort of thing and b) it highlighted a few (admittedly small) errors in my Ravelry stash details:
    • I reweighed all of my yarn. Yes, I weigh my yarn at the end of every project to see how many grams I have left but - till now - I haven't weighed it at the beginning. Alas, sometimes yarn labels indicate a certain weight/yardage but it's slightly off in the skein (up or down). In the future, I'm going to weigh my yarn as soon as I bring it home so that I can stash the amount correctly. As it is, I noticed inconsistencies of up to 10 grams - admittedly in rare instances. And the larger discrepancies were with the thicker yarns so the weight discrepancy is not particularly significant overall. Where it gets significant is when you try to make something with 100 yards of yarn (which is what the pattern calls for) and you only have 87. This process took hours because, while I have @7500 yards of yarn, they're all in little bits and pieces. 
    • My stash records 35 yarns but I actually have many more than that number in my banker's box. This is because, over the years, I've deleted the smallest remnants from my stash page on Ravelry, not wanting to confuse myself, at a glance, into thinking that I might have enough of a particular yarn to actually make something with. In a couple of instances I readded them to my Ravelry stash page (75 yards or more). In other instances, cuz I didn't like the yarn to begin with or because I cannot find a project on which to use it, I stored it in a Give Away bag. Note: That bag is currently sandwich sized. There aren't many of these remnants but I'm happy to send them to anyone who emails me. Shipping's on me. (Presumably the baggie will fill up as I complete the stash projects and have small remnants remaining from some of those projects. If you knit washcloths and tiny things, this may appeal.)
    • I put stickers on all of my yarn remnants so that, as I pull them out of the bags, I'll know exactly what to do with them. Sure, Ravelry has all of this info captured. But my biggest issue is in determining which remnant is which (they all start to look the same when you only knit with 3 colours: blue, grey and beige - and 3 weights (fingering, sport and worsted)). That's why the sorting process took so long.
    • The Wildcards: I will admit that a couple of yarns were a complete mystery and I don't actually know how that's possible because, even when I deleted a small remnant from stash to avoid confusion, I've documented EVERY project I've ever knit in Ravelry (on the projects page). So I should have been able to cross reference the yarn with my robust project details. This freaks me out slightly. In these instances, I have to guess at the yarn weight (prob fingering, sport or worsted) and the number of yards in the skein. Still, I may opt to use the larger remnants that fall into this category. It'll be a true adventure, if nothing else. From now on, I'm keeping the yarn tag and affixing it to remnants as, it would appear, I will not remember the details of a yarn remnant a year after knitting the original project.
    • I used the Queue feature in Ravelry to queue up these projects so I can easily turn the queued project into an actual project with the click of a button. I'm going to make a variety of things multiple times because, frankly, I don't have a lot of choice and I'd rather make a project I can get with 3 times, than experiment with one I don't love just to keep it novel.
 Here's a little yarn remnant porn:

I've put these labeled yarns back into the ziploc bags - in a colour coded fashion so that I'll easily be able to find what I'm looking for...
Here's a crappy photo (sorry about the quality - I was occupied!) showing how the colour-coded remnants have been returned to their bags in an easy-to-use fashion.
It took me a ridiculously long time to classify these. A couple of the wildcards, referred to above, are in this batch...

Wanna Play Along?
  1. If you're interested in doing this same sort of thing (and I'm sure I'll eventually try to convince you to join me), why not start by visiting my Ravelry Favourites page. I have 199 patterns bookmarked and they span many yardage requirements. Dare I say it, my faves are excellent and carefully considered. You might opt to fave a few of them for yourself. 
  2. The next thing you should do is to ensure your stash is cataloged - if not in Ravelry, then in some sort of way so that you can identify the yardages you have to work with. If you want more info on how to use the Stash Feature in Ravelry (it's as easy as you want to make it):  Check out this very comprehensive post. If you're on the fence about the usefulness of investing the time, let me assure you, it's worth it. In fact, the more yarn you have, the more useful it is.)
On this subject: You can go into Ravelry and look at my profile to your heart's content. Lord knows I do it to others. (I'm a voyeur.) You do have to be a member of the site to gain full access to profiles though. What you can see without being a member is more limited, but still fairly robust, at least when it comes to my personal profile, because I've made many of my pages public.

Thoughts or feelings??

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bra Review: Scantilly Surrender

So far, I LOVE Scantilly. The quality is about as good as it gets (before you start spending $$, for example, on luxe brands such as Empreinte). The bras are sexy, lovely, comfortable, supportive and, the two styles I've tried so far (this Surrender and Peek A Boo), provide great shape and uplift. Lest you are under any illusions, my bra rating standards are very high. I'm not overselling this. If you're on the fence, and you seem to be within the size and shape parameters, click buy.

The bra in question today is the Surrender. Initially I bought it in my "regular" bra size and - as with every other Curvy Kate (same parent company as Scantilly) and each Scantilly bra I've tried - it was too shallow by a cup size. I returned it for one cup size up and the fit is fantastic. The band is true to size but on the snug side. By snug, I don't mean "Cleo snug" (which is basically a band size smaller than whatever the tag says). This is a true 32 (which stretches to 32.5") but has great firmness due to the recovery properties of the mesh. It's also a 3x3 hook. So it's more supportive and comfortable than any Cleo you'll find (not that I feel that Cleo bras fall short in support).

A couple of other sizing deets:
  • The wires are a smidge wider than those I regularly wear (6.75" from tip to tip) but that's because the gore is lower than those I generally wear (2.5"). It's more or less a plunge but the support provided by the upper cup - which looks delicate but is sturdy - and the strapping above the upper cup imply that it would likely be suitable for breasts that are on the softer side. Note: My breast tissue isn't particularly soft so this is my intuition. YMMV. The wire shape is not as "U" as I usually wear - the outer wires splay out slightly at the top but it's not a problem for me. Perhaps I'm experiencing shape changes in that area? If yes, they're not observable but brands that use slightly wider wires are working better for me now than they ever did before.
  • In a cup size up, this bra provides a LOT of centre-cup projection for a gore that tacks beautifully. It's also got a lot of lower cup projection (almost too much for me). The shape is seriously front and centre. Essentially, the style caters to an even breast that's full all over. 
  • This cut isn't balconette (it's more of a full plunge) so the wires aren't set particularly wide (as can be the case with serious balconettes and demi-cup bras). So if your shoulders are proportionately narrow, it's a good option.
  • A brief word about the thong undies: Size down! I often wear an XL in thongs because, as you know, I hate grippy undies. But these are very loose. I returned the L for a M and it's like an L, IMO. Scantilly is making good use of the stretch satin that defines the Peek A Boo sling. It's the fabric used to form the waistband of the thong. It's about an inch wide so this isn't, by design, of a grippy predisposition. The eyelash and embroidered elements on the upper cup of the bra are reproduced on the (minimal) thong and the impact is lovely.
  • The upper cup does not have any stretch but the decorative strap above the upper cup is made of that black stretch satin (see above) and it does stretch / is proportionately long. That's good news if you have tall roots, quite a bit of upper cup fullness or you happen to be tall. If you have short roots or you're short, you may find that they gape or hang. You can fix easily this by undoing the seam at the top outer cup and shortening the span. For me, it's not necessary but if the above-upper cup straps were any longer, it would be.
But how about some photos before we talk about the set itself?

You can see the peach embroidery and eyelash lace motif repeated on the upper cup and undies...

This may give you a sense of the gore height (low-ish) and that upper cup strap decorative detail.

Can you see how delicate it looks? It's actually rather firm fabric. It is totally see-through. You can get a sense of the degree of centre-cup depth from this photo. I'm pulling that cup straight up, not out.

You can see that the undies aren't exactly "full". This is a minimal thong. The blush coloured circular metal hardware on the bra (where the straps meet the upper cup - see first photo) is duplicated at the sides of the front panel on the undies (where the triangle of fabric meets the side strap). It's a bit of toughness on an otherwise delicate design.
While I bought this set for a certain application, I sense I'm going to wear it all the time. It's totally comfortable, supportive and entirely sexy. The only thing I need to determine is how observable the decorative strap may be under clothing. While I have no issues with seams or nipples showing through, BDSM design elements (however demure) are not something I'm inclined to promote in the workplace. On the weekends? I'm down with that.

You may recall, at first I considered buying the basque version of this set. I opted not to because, really, it's impractical. (Yeah, I know. On rereading that sentence, it does sound a bit absurd.) Now I think I may have to get that version too! Note to reader: I will exercise restraint because there are too many new things to explore. This ain't the only pretty bra in town.

On the topic of how it looks: It's less full-seeming and more plungey on me (than on the model). But then her body is different than mine. This design is an exercise in soft and hard. The lace and peach embroidery are very delicate. The pink gold hardware and decorative strap are hard. The satin accents allow disparate elements to cohere. The fabric is entirely transparent, as you can see.

This set is analogous to a complicated glass of wine. It isn't easy which is just what makes it fun. Every sip promotes a new awareness on the tongue, a new subnote. There's a lot to get with here and it is in no way boring. I feel it's a good design for women of all ages. There are youthful elements but also very sophisticated ones.

You do need to own it though. If you're not into lingerie as art this set could seem contrived or intimidating. For me, though, it's a daily basic! So you see it takes all types.

But what about you? What are your feelings about the look of this set (or the feel, if you've bought it)? Let's talk!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Necessary Luxury

I've been dwelling on the nature of Christmas, about how it's a fuck of a lot of work for those of us in the sandwich generation. I feel this more and more with each passing year. By the time January arrives, one is tired from all of the responsibility. And, then, it's freakin' January...

So this year - and possibly for all the years to come - I've decided to make January the month of necessary luxury. December was all about everyone else. January's about me.

Alas, the weather is shit and the nights are long and the natural world, to the outward gaze, is temporarily dead.

Which is why "necessary luxury" is so readily achievable! In January, from pity or empathy, you wish me luck with all of my mini-lavishments and urge me on. In June, you secretly think I'm just a bit too spendy.

So here's how I'm improving the quality of my daily experience by spending money:
  • I've bought a metropass for the second month in a row (and I may choose to continue till March). A few months ago, I opted to walk only one leg of my work commute. I've found that I benefit from an hour's walk (to work and errands at lunch) but not 2 - especially if I want to have energy to do yoga thereafter. I can get home on the streetcar in 15 min. Or take the bus to the dentist when it's -13. Or share it with M on the weekends (it's transferable).  It costs $140 a month and one must use it 14 times in a week to break even on the single fare model. I'll likely not use it more than 8. But I don't care. It makes me feel like I can get on the subway at any time, even for a stop. It's liberating.
  • What is it with me and the juicing in January? I've built on last year's juice cleanse experience. This year, I've opted to drink some juice and eat some food and to benefit from their gracious coexistence! In January, I will order juice for delivery - whenever the fuck I feel like it. After all, I all-too-often buy it at the shops at the same price (minus delivery charge). Why shouldn't I have someone else bring the heavy bottles to me? It's a bit like having a milkman. True story: In today's delivery, an aloe juice shot arrived broken. (All of juices in that order froze on the doorstep as it's rather cold now, and the aloe, while expanding into ice, shattered its bottle.) You've gotta love an industry that caters so sincerely to entitled white women. I called the shop to let them know at 8 am and, within 30 minutes, I had a new bottle. (The shipping cost them more than the shot.) Plus they apologized profusely over the phone and then again via email. You'd have thought I was Madonna having a shit fit in 1990. (Seriously, it was a shot of juice and I swear I just politely requested a replacement.) But that's my kind of client service. It's why I'll go back again. Not to mention that I can place an order at 9pm and it'll arrive by 8am the next morning.  So it's instant, healthful, tasty gratification. For now, I'm sticking to the unsweetened vegetable juice, shots (concentrated immune boosters) and coconut milk/meat. No cashews for me...
  • I bought a new yoga prop I've been looking at forever: the Three Minute Egg. (Actually, I got two of them to facilitate Scott's and M's emergent practices. They've both decided to start doing yoga with me so, it seems, I've got constant company in the sewga room.) Interestingly, the Egg works best of all for me because, while all peeps can benefit from most props, this one (by its dimensions and application) is geared to a more experienced student. 
  • I'm spending with largesse on food. OK, you may wonder: How this is any different from regular Kristin? and, really, the answer is not very. But I'm putting the emphasis on elegant, appealing and healthful items that's good for managing inflammation. For example: Baked salmon and butternut squash with orzo chicken soup from Holt's. Yes I could make this but no I won't so it's good to know that I can have it regardless.
  • I added another subscription online yoga website to my cache. I've newly joined YogaDownload and I'm having tons of fun figuring out how it compares with Gaia (My Yoga Online), my old standard. I intend to do a post when I have a good grip on the similarities and differences between the two. Weirdly, I bought this new subscription via Groupon (for a disturbingly low cost) on Jan. 1 - the best day of the year to get a fitness deal. I've bought maybe 2 things on Groupon in the past: a manicure (my friend at work wanted to do this with me) and a 5-class pass to a local yoga studio I never went to (just a bit too far away). Don't worry, I gave the pass to a work friend and he used it happily.
So really, is this luxury? Or mood management necessity? I defer to you.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Now That's More Like It

Today, the first working day of the new year, we awoke to winter conditions. Not surprising. It was minus 14C and windy. But it was also BRIGHT. Brighter than it's been in about a month. I have to say I was strangely buoyed by it all. We've been living in this weird winter bubble for the past 2 months and I knew it was bound to give. At least it gave in the most pleasant of winter styles. But man, I'm worried for the plants.

Today was a day in which I wore homemade wool socks under the boots, technical cashmere under the Ca Va de Soi cardigan. A cashmere scarf on top of the cardi and a fur on top of that. Then there were the hats and gloves. It was a production.

Look, I'm sure this is going to get very old if it lingers, but right now it's ok. And apparently, because of el nino, we're destined for a warmer winter than average, even if the early freak show is shutting down. I'll take it.

I'm about to eat I've just eaten - in approximately 5 minutes - a stupidly gorgeous dinner. The main: a pork roast with apple, wild boar and pecan stuffing, prepared by my (famous) butcher up the block. The much beloved side was baked potatoes. I scooped out the potato flesh and mashed it with Boursin, lots of butter, salt and pepper. Then I put the filling back in the jackets for mushy deliciousness.

It's hard to justify this kind of meal in May. But in the first week of January, it's just the thing.

Oh, and to make everything a bit less drab, I did a bit of post-Xmas shopping. Not on sale, natch. That would have been too perfect.

Kit and Ace York Pant - $148.00 CDN
These pants actually have an insert cell-phone pocket (like I'm going running in wool pants?) and they're hella comfortable. Look like pants, feel like leggings. And the length is perfect for those of us who aren't tall. Were you tall, these would be floods.

I'm really hooked on Kit and Ace, though I'm vaguely embarrassed to admit it. The fabrics are gorgeous and tactile (in my fave way), the design is minimal. The fit is modern - and comfortable. Really chic but also good for a day when you'll be working for 12 hours. The workmanship is excellent. And it's a Canadian brand.

So that's my day. Thoughts or feelings?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Work In Progress: KNUS Sweater (2)

The only happy thing I can say about the KNUS (which is more like a choke hold than a gentle hug - the very definition of the word "knus") is that it's facilitated my binge-watch of The Fall while drinking Grand Marnier. Ever seen it? Egad! It's an English crime drama starring Gillian Anderson. Lord, I love that woman. She's like the American version of Kate Winslet. And talk about the hottest serial killer ever. I don't know who that guy is but he's not hard to look at.

At any rate, here's progress to date:

This is a view of the right side of the back sweater (foreground) with the wrong side of the front sweater below it. The front upper back is that triangular expansion from above the line of the back sweater. I'm about to start knitting the back sweater to exactly the same proportions as the front. The cast on edge of the wings represents the front armhole.
I don't love how uneven the fabric looks, though I am confident, with blocking, it's going to even out. Again, you can see the lifeline about 4 inches from the bottom of the sweater, that ridge with black strings hanging from the left edge.

This represents about half of my yarn (or 500 yards). I do believe I'll make it with the 1000 yards I purchased. After working the expanded triangles (from the base of the sweater - or under bust bodice), one reconnects them in the round and then knits the yoke.

It's just fucking endless, all of this K1P1.

Here's a stock pic of the finished sweater for reference:

Do you see how the bodice widens into the armholes? Well that's the part I'm knitting right now. You can see how the slender, tall model is wearing a version without waist shaping. As you can tell, from my photo above, I've given the bodice an hourglass shape. We're destined to see if that's a good or bad idea.

Let me just say, it would be so horrible to finish this thing and find that it's hideous. My fingers are blue/green from dye and they're feeling the workout of working on dense fabric.

Of course, it could be a massive hit - but I'm not inclined to get overly optimistic just yet.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Y'all know I'm not a "resolution" person, though I do love a quick win. I'm confident that giving up sugar on January 1 is a free-fall into binge eating. But drinking more water? That is SO doable. Admittedly, I started this resolution on some other day of the year, about 18 months ago, but I have never looked back.

I drink water and herbal tea (yes, it's an expensive habit) to the tune of 64 ounces / 2 litres daily. Strangely, I pee less than ever, though I attribute this to feeling less anxious about needing to pee - something my anxiety condition glommed onto at some point. More to the point, I understand how people wake up, drink a glass of water and actually feel their cells soak up liquid to improve mobility and diminish pain. Sure, I can't say that's what I'm feeling literally, but I definitely notice a huge difference after that first glass of water. I also feel altered, for the better, by water consumption after yoga.

If you want to do something life-altering and stupidly easy while contending that you've achieved a new year's resolution, get on board with this one.

In that spirit, I recently decided to implement an effortless new lifestyle change: body scrubbing.

Merben Sisal Body Brush (can be purchased at Ziggy's and elsewhere online)
I haven't decided if I'm going with dry brush or wet brush (so far I've been wet brushing but I do worry extensively about germs on perennially wet natural fibres, so I may yet switch over). I figure, if it's good enough for the Scandinavians...

In fact, the practice of body scrub is known to:
  • improve circulation (something that all peeps can benefit from - especially the pain-havers)
  • decrease stagnation in the upper layers of the epidermis
  • soothe sore muscles
  • feel good and scratchy
  • exfoliate skin to improve its natural colour and texture
  • increase energy - cuz egad, that scrubbing is lively!
There are also claims about eliminating body toxins, redistributing fat deposits, diminishing cellulite and saving the world. I don't know that there's much hope of any of those but, hey, if it works, I'll take 'em.

If you decide to try this, apparently you should massage in small circular motions from the limbs towards the heart. Don't go crazy with the pressure. A little goes a long way. And if you're wet brushing, do ensure that the gizmo can dry out between showers. Mine is very robust and, though my house isn't damp, it's not drying. I'm frankly as creeped out by dry brushing, germs notwithstanding, cuz, um, dead skin flakes on the floor?!?!?

Needless to say, don't use exfoliating scrubs with microbeads because they're trashing our ecosystem.

Technically I started this practice a couple of weeks ago, but I'm cashing in on the resolution angle because, why not?

So there you have it: 2 entirely fuss-free ways to make a self-improvement promise that you can keep and therefore brag about. You're welcome.

Today's questions: Do you body scrub and, if yes, how has it improved the quality of your life? (I'm looking for motivation!) Do you drink a ton of water or do you avoid it tenaciously because, you know, you have better things to do and you prefer the taste of booze? Can you provide another example of a resolution that's easily and effortlessly incorporated into one's life? Let's talk!