The Secret Language of Hexagons

Once in a while, there’s something in a movie or TV show which will catch my eye. I secretly love when crafting is referenced in pop culture, even in jest.

Heck, I even get excited when really nice handmades gets used as set dressing or costumes (Juno had some awesome sweater vests).

Most recently I noticed this amazing crocheted hexagon blanket while re-watching Wayne’s World for the first time in a loooong time.

I’m sure the average set dresser saw this as the usual ugly granny square blanket that would live in the typical basement rec room. But these be some truly bodacious granny hexagons!

There’s also this wonderful scrappy hexagon quilt used in the movie About Time.

It’s hard to tell from this picture that the fabric here is more than the usual printed cottons. There are some velvets used as well which makes me think this was probably built from old clothing scraps. Oh and nice hexagons too right?

What’s the big deal with hexagons you ask?

Current piece

Well, back in 2009 is when I first became enamoured with the shape. It began with the Jelly Bean Afghan early in the year and continued with the Hexagonal Quilt sometime over the summer.

Little did I know the effect these projects would have on me.

You see hexagons are kind of spectacular. They are one of three regular polygons that can be used to make regular tilings, but somehow don’t seem to be used that much. Or so I thought.

Once I started working with the shape, I began to notice it everywhere. And they are truly EVERYWHERE once you start noticing them. Those who know me in real life have likely noticed me whisper “hexagon” to myself, and perhaps take a picture of something random with no further explanation. Or even with too much explanation. It’s become my own meme of sorts.

At some point I started collecting the results of my personal hexagon scavenger hunt over on Pinterest. Many of the images are snapshots taken while travelling. I’ve had friends and coworkers forward me links to projects, products, articles and images based on their use of hexagons. It’s that kind of thing.

Most often I come across a wonderful old hexagon tiled floor. But strangely enough, hexagons also get used in futuristic settings too. Used in Amazing Spider-Man films (I haven’t seen 2 yet, but it shows up in search results).

Twist is here!

The Twist Collective is open and ready for business and I like many others find it terribly exciting.

Personal favourite projects include the Oolong socks by Mona Schmidt, the Little Birds sweater by Ysolda Teague even if there needs to be more yoga in my life before I cast on, Wisteria by Kate Gilbert, Lily by Marnie MacLean, the Lissajous Socks by Cookie A. Oh and Cat Bordhi’s Houdini Socks TOTALLY sing to my process knitter ways!

I hope everyone else finds it as exciting as I do. Long live the Twist!

Professor Peabody Proliferates Purling

Hey there! I’m still around and kicking. And I’m suddenly busy busy busy. Funny thing how when there’s all sorts of things to write about, one doesn’t necessarily have the time to do the writing (or taking of the pictures, uploading to the Flickr, updating the Ravelry and the blogging, etc).

There’s some knitting going on, but not much that’s new. A little Cable Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan here, some Cuttlefish Socks there, maybe with a side of Entrelac to keep things nicely balanced and nutritious.

There’s kind of a lot of big news going on at the moment, but it’s rather fresh and still developing so I’m going to keep you in the dark for the moment. Once there are official things to discuss, everyone shall know. For now enjoy the pretty picture of my very second handspun evers! (the first skein is rather less interesting, trust me) It really is like crack. All I want to do is spin spin spin.

And in other news, Mr. Peabody has been promoted to Prof. Peabody. He’s teaching classes at Effiloché on Tuesday evenings. Go bother him and make him practise his French for me.

Refound Project Monogamy

Last night’s knit night chez* Ariadne was tons of fun. Sharon (who has every intention of having a blog one of these days but is just too darn busy at the moment to even add photos to Ravelry) brought up an interesting topic that I feel like writing about (hopefully she won’t mind that I stole her life): Knitting Monogamist or Polygamist?

Recently returned from visiting home (New Zealand) for the first time in several years, Sharon has suddenly found herself with a stash. She (until this point) is the type of knitter we all aspire to be. Monogamist, focussed and stash-free. She works on one project at a time and her ‘stash’ is really just any leftovers from past projects. She’s not one of those (read: me) who buys yarn just because of over fondling/drool on the yarn and so must be purchased (or be thrown out of the store) or because she has a project in mind and is thinking ahead when the current project shall one day be done. Nope. She doesn’t even seem to cast on for multiple projects at once. She’s not a Polygamist Knitter (like me).

But all of a sudden she has a stash. Sharon bought/brought a bunch yarn from home to work with. Now by ‘regular’ Polygamist standards, it’s really not terribly bad. Sounds like a pair of mitts, a few hats, a scarf and possibly enough for a sweater. Really not much at all. For the Monogamist knitter however, I could see how this could be a problem. Her basic Project Fidelity is being called into question by the tempting presence of so many potential projects. How can she commit to one project when there are so many options?

Maybe her Monogamy was conditional. She’s been able to focus so much on what she’s currently working on because there’s no other projects around to flirt with her attention….drag her away with the promise of a perfect cast on, interesting yet challenging pattern repeats, the gentle caress of a new fibre and feel of an unfamiliar pair of needles to create a fabric with that ‘je ne sais quoi’ drape to it. And the new knitting project has none of the problems of the old knitting project. No problems with gauge, confusing pattern lingo or errata, or even just general misbehaviour. No, the promise of the new knitting project is always that fresh start. The clean slate. The exotic lingerie (uh, High Fidelity will explain that reference). Instead she’s hired out her very capable hands to various local knitwear designers while she regains her focus.

Sharon’s knitting focus and fidelity dilemma brought up and interesting personal investigation for me. Before leaving on holiday and my hiatus, I was really having lots of project fidelity issues because of all the yarn sitting around my apartment staring at me. The Siren song of the new project was just too much to resist when I would hit a rough patch with whatever current sweater I was working on. One little fight and I would be out the door and casting on for something new.

The time apart from my knitting has really done me good. I have had a chance to reflect on what’s been going wrong with our relationships and what I need to do in order to fix things. Not just break up completely and start anew, in most cases we’ve sought out therapy and are starting to work things out. Not to say that there haven’t been some break-ups, but for the most part, we’re working things out.

And since being back in a knitting relationship, I have begun to be a Monogamist as well. The stash is still around, but I have learned that the promise of a fresh start is very cold and eventually will lead me into more trouble with my relationship with my current Project. It’s important to keep alive the initial passion of the project and not be swayed by the sweet caress of new yarn, no matter what the colourway…

* I’ve begun to call them Spinster Knitting Club meetings to my regular non-knitting friends (and my brother). To be perfectly PC, I don’t consider those who go, or the lovely Ariadne girls that host it to be Spinsters. In fact quite the opposite. Most have boyfriends, husbands and/or babies.

To be clear, I’m the Spinster (by old school corset & petticoat definitions, by current one I’m just a ‘Feminist’ which is far less entertaining) and knitting (with others) is my Spinster behaviour. Gots to get out of the house sometimes. BTW, we should reclaim Spinster to be non-derogatory like we did with ho.

Though I should probably actually learn how to spin in order to add legitimacy to my claim to be a ‘spinster.’

** Daily posting is brought to you by Boring Job Inc.

*** And the Pink Lopi Raglan has been ripped to ribbing, the yarn wound into skeins and steamed with the iron to remove all the curls and is in progress again, this time on 4.0 mm needles. I measured it this morning and it is becoming the perfect body! If it wasn’t still stooopid winter I’d have shown you pics of all my crazy ‘hardcore’ yarn treatment.

Juno is my Sweater Vest Hero

I know there’s been so much hype about this movie, but unlike other films that have more manufactured hype, Juno’s is well deserved. From the brilliant script, fabulous cast (although we already loved Allison Janney), great sets & details and down to a perfectly matched soundtrack, this movie had me with the first lines of the film. Even before the title walk through town. Oh and I’m definitely going to be checking out Jason Reitman’s other films (not I have not seen Thank You For Smoking yet, I have a good excuse, I was out of the country). And not just because he’s a Montrealer.

Well, Juno, she’s my hero. I’ll never be as cool as Juno MacGuff. It’s not like Daria where the first time my Mom saw it she said, ‘When did they make a cartoon about you?!?!’ (the reason I became a little less obsessed with the show but that’s another story). No, Juno is definitely exactly who I wished I was in high school (‘cept for the teen pregnancy and all, but even that she deals with brilliantly). Smart, HILARIOUS, fantastic turn of phrase but not without some flaws, Juno is a great female character. Everyone should drop what they’re doing right this second, run to the nearest theatre and watch this movie. Right now. Go!

I do tend to be rather enthusiastic about much that hits the silverscreen, but believe me, this is not a film to be missed. If for no other reason go for the knit wear.

Photo courtesy of Ellen Page Online

The first 5 secs of the film I was taken with everything about this character. Right down to the quirky wardrobe choice of sweater vests under hoodies. The vest in the first scenes and title sequence totally grabbed me and I was charting it in my mind for much of the film. Yes, I’m a sucker for green. It’s a well established fact. Especially shades of mossy/olive/grass greens combined with chocolate brown with rows and rows of fabulous classic Super Mario-like flowers. Sigh. I need one.

So me and my memory got to work developing a chart for this fantabulous sweater vest as soon as I got home and after I had acquired the soundtrack. With Juno tunes aiding my memory I came up with this chart:

Further research on the internets helped me hone and verify the shape of the flowers (leaves were a little off), colour changes and fine tune the overall chart but some of my own amendments have been added. Dashed rather than solid white line and I’m toying with the idea of the alternating +’s and x’s rather than just +’s but probably won’t be trying to juggle 3 colours in one line. I’ve done it. It’s possible, but I’m not terribly driven to become the yarn juggler at this moment.

Amended to be more like this I think:

I figure this vest will be straight forward. Cast on. Work until under arms. Steek! Steek! Steek! (arms & then neck) Oh and STEEK! (can’t forget the back of the neck) and away we go.

I hear you may be asking about the yarn. What will I possibly ever use for such a fine vest? Well immediately Briggs & Little Sport springs to mind (I know that really shocks you all) mostly just for the brilliance of their Paddy Green. But for the olivey greens and dark chocolatey brown I’m thinking of finally trying out Jamieson’s 2-ply Spindrift to fill out the palette.

When shall we see progress on this most fantastical vest? Uh, that’s a good question. I’m going to say not for a while. So much else in progress at the moment. But one day I too shall be dressed just as cool as Juno!

Knit at Work

(photo staged for your viewing pleasure, my actual desk at work was way cooler)

So as some of you probably know, I’m not a ‘public’ knitter. I don’t knit on the bus, in the Metro, waiting in line (unless it’s for my passport) or crossing the street. Partly it’s because I’m still a bit ‘in the closet’ about my craftyness, partly because I like to give as little reason as possible for strangers to strike up conversation (I tend to have a pretty mean angry city-girl face when storming down the street). Knitting in cafés with a group of fellow crafty types is as public about my knitting as I’ve been since University when I used to knit mittens on my lunch hour.

I resurrected the practise of lunch time knitting during my latest call back to an Ad Agency Downtown. Because I would bring my lunch and eat it within 10 min and the conversation level doesn’t quite allow for reading. I’m good at tuning out the French conversations, but not enough to prevent reading the same paragraph 18 times. So I begun to drag the Itchy Icelandic Pink Lopi Raglan along with me and whipped it out to work a few rounds while sort of following the conversation (good for improving the old comprehension).

Yes I did get comments about knitting, but what was surprising me was how sophisticated the conversation became. Sure there were a couple ‘you’re knitting me a sweater!’ comments and some pantoufles comments (slippers with bemoaning the fentex), but then it turned into, ‘I wanted to learn how to knit so I could make a really bad reindeer sweater like in Bridget Jones’ Diary,’ or a real understanding and appreciation when I showed off some of my finished products like the hat and mittens that I wear to work everyday.

In response to the mittens, ‘That’s when you have to knit one stitch with one yarn, and the next stitch with the other right?’ and even noticing the braided cast on as being specialised. And my favourite request: ‘Can you knit me a car? Full sized? Better yet, knit me a boyfriend!’

Definitely the sorts of conversations that I don’t mind starting up.

Steamy Windows & Lots of Fondling

That’s right. A new yarn store opened up in Montreal and it’s so terribly exciting. The girls of Ariadne Knits have gone lo-fi, offline and analog to create a lovely little yarn oasis near Lionel-Groulx and Place St. Henri Metro stations (like exactly equidistant I believe).

This fibre haven is located in the cutest little old corner shop that has been lovingly whipped into a beautifully lit, cosy, welcoming yarn shop. With the lovely knitting corner complete with ‘fireplace’ is the cherry on top and I immediately wished I had thought to bring some knitting with me.

The shop is open as of noon yesterday and I braved the Great White North Winter we’re suddenly having to meet up with all the other Montreal Knitters to congratulate the owners on a job very well done and of course fondle yarn. Really that’s the whole point of going to a real shop isn’t it?

I can’t stress enough how adorable, welcoming, cosy and a fantastic yarn showcase this shop is. If I was a smart girl, I’d have thought to bring my camera with me. Or even remembered that I have a camera phone. Whoops. I was just way too caught up with all the conversations about yarn, knitting, the bitter bitter cold weather, comic books, felting, how much we are all in love with all the whiskey colours, fun ideas for winter headgear (including Mexican wrestler Baclavas and cartoon wig tuques with built in headband/chin ties), tv shows, stick figure chunky sweater patterns, and so on.

And the people, they brought all sorts of fabulous treats. Jennie made super yummy better-than-teddy-grahams alpacas despite being a ‘stress basket.’ She even has a fabulous new kitty pattern called Charity and once I get my hands on it I will definitely be making some for Toy Mountain.

They got us casting on squares for the communal charity blanket and suddenly it turned into the usual sit ‘n’ knit. Yeah. Somehow Allison, Janet and I ended up closing out the shop. We left at like 7 or something crazy like that. Funny how time flies when hanging with the knitters.

Definitely a good cure for Canadian Winter.

Japanese Craftbooks & Continued Conversations

Knit nites (and afternoons) have become a big part of my social life here in Montreal lately and the word is out, I have a blog. Sunday afternoon, my blog became a topic of conversation (it began with the general topic of blogs) and I was surprised at who reads my blog. I mean, I do have the whole Sitemeter thing now which I LURV to check obsessively to see if anyone’s been on, where in the world they’re checking from (Germany! England! Japan! California! Missouri!) and how they’re getting here (lots of Fair Isle searches, sometimes for stockings, some image searches and some lovely links from other blog peoples blogs), but I don’t get names or anything, so it’s pretty much a mystery to me.

Why do I blog? Um. I dunno. Mostly cause I want to keep track of my knitting and I’m more likely to keep up with the updating & keeping track of knitting related decisions if it’s not just for me. I always have the internal monologue for pretty much everything anyways so why not get it out of the brain? I try to keep up with the updating fairly frequently mostly cause someone complained that I didn’t post enough but it’s also a good way to keep it part of the regular daily/weekly routine. Oh, and I ALWAYS have an opinion on everything, from toe-up vs. cuff-down, cast-ons to Continental vs. English so me writing it here means I don’t have to drive people crazy with the rantie on such topics.

K. Now the Japanese Craftbooks. Janet, a very lovely knit nite participant who is on a personal quest to make the most crocheted eco-bags in the world, brought in her ever-growing collection last week for us to oooo and aaaaaaa over. I love the crazy amazing things that are done in these books with traditional techniques. There’s one that features Fair Isle projects and it’s so interesting to see how traditional Scandinavian motifs and colours are tweaked/changed/adapted to make something new and modern. There’s no fear of breaking with the ‘tradition’ of such motifs or techniques in the creation some truly unique projects.

The conversation begun by these books brought me to mention these amazing herringbone gloves I had come across on the internets. (Here you go Janet). The finished gloves totally look like haute couture/Saks Fifth Avenue store bought gloves and are definitely next on the list. I do also need something in between the Endpaper Mitts and the Squirrely Swedish Mitts. I think the chance colour combo from the previous post (mustard plus heathery brown/eggplant) will be absolute perfection.

Another knit nite conversation was the change in photography style of the latest Interweave Knits. I’m still waiting for mine to come in the mail and getting kind of cranky about it’s late arrival, I usually get it before it hits the news stands man! Back to the conversation. Someone brought up the change in photography and how poorly they were matched to models and how the shots were styled. Having not received the latest issue yet, I couldn’t contribute to the rant.

But as I have opinions on everything, especially things related to my professional life as a Graphic Designer, I got into a rant about the general change in design and layout of the magazine in the past year or so. I really prefer the old design. The ‘redesign’ to me is a step back rather than forwards. The bleed edge top graphics combined with the title treatments on the article and pattern pages especially bother me by how they clutter the white space. But I do enjoy the pattern pages and photo montage layouts. They showcase the knit projects using the usually strongest part of Knits, the photography.

Now usually the photography has this awesome ‘knitwear in its natural habitat’ feel to it. Candid feeling photographs of people wearing sweaters, scarves, socks etc. while doing every day things. Only sometimes the photos are sometimes a little blurry. Not the best thing when trying to showcase projects. Showing detail is kind of a big deal. While I appreciate that they tried to fix this blurriness in photographing the latest issue, based on the internet preview pics, I think in trying to fix the blurriness, the overall appeal of Knits photography was lost.

Instead of lovely candid photos of real looking people in great sweaters we now have an almost Sears catalog of possible projects harshly lit in overly styled and very artificial feeling locations. Overall not an improvement. Oh and I really dislike the photo chosen for the cover. There’s just not enough colour punch and interesting composition to keep my attention. I think the Alicia Tabard on the beach would be a way more compelling cover, even if it’s not Christmas-y, the icy blue still indicates a general ‘Winter Wonderland’ time of year.

But I like lots of the projects inside. Really that’s what its about. Good articles and good projects. It’s still a shame when something gets changed but not improved.

And I finished the second Mitten Swap mitten despite my inability to concentrate at the last couple of knitting meetups. Oy. I need to start drinking coffee again or something. Still have to weave all those pesky ends and staring at a monitor all day is not good preparation for studying the yarns to work things in with the whole gentle shifts of colour thing. I figure they’ll be ready to ship out by the weekend.