My Ears ARE in fact burning

I have to say thank you.

Thank you for all the great comments on these mittens.

Thank you to everyone who has favourited it or commented on these mittens on Ravelry. Thank you to Pinneguri for nominating the mittens for the Bobbys 2007 in the category of Most Colorful Project, I don’t think they’ll win, but I’m extremely honoured that they’re nominated to be among the technicolor rainbow.

Thank you to all the people that have looked, commented and favourited this photo on Flickr, it’s now by far my most popular photo. I’m honoured that it’s not only knitters, but regular photographical folk who have given this bunnie props. Thank you to all the Montreal knitters who have ooooed and aaawwed and helped with the colour changes on these mittens.

I feel humbled if they have in any way inspired other people’s knitting. I am especially humbled by all the people from Nordic countries who have paid enough attention to them to favourite/comment. Not being a big researcher and not living with the traditions, I co-opted a traditional pattern, technique to use with my own possibly non-traditional aesthetic. So it’s like my cavalier attitude to colour/pattern usage is somehow validated by being favourited by someone in Finland.

I suppose it doesn’t make sense for me to feel like I’ve somehow bastardised a tradition just by changing colours & adding more, but I can be all crazy like that. The same kind of crazy that chooses to spend a day each mitten to weave in a bazillion ends instead of having non-precise, hand felted colour changes. But that’s just how I roll.

And most of all, I’d like to thank Marcia for inspiring these mittens. Without that simple phrase ‘autumnal colours’ these mittens would never have been cast on.

Chillin’ in a snow bank

Pattern: Mitten from the District of Kurzeme following chart 111. Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis
Modifications: Colours. It’s all about changing up the colours. And often. Took me a while to work out the final scheme & colour changes for the actual mitten part. But well worth it.
Materials:Briggs & Little Sport, Various
Start Date: October 27, 2007
Finished By: November 20, 2007

They’ve been finished for a while. I have no idea why I’ve been procrastinating the taking of the pictures and the actually declaring them done. I was humming and hawwing for too long over the block or not-to-block. A full out Euclan soak & block seemed way to big a deal so I opted for the quick & instant steamy iron version. They are so much better after blocking. I really need to get over the mental blocking block and integrate it into the normal practice.

After the blocking debacle was done with, I started procrastinated with the picture taking. Had to charge the camera battery (not that it really takes long), then the setting up with the tripod & the finicky working of the 10 sec timer & figuring out where to pose, blah, blah, blah. There was just too too too many mental steps involved so I opted to just knit instead.

Then snow happened. And everyone’s doing the mittens in the snow thing and who am I to argue? I managed to actually charge the camera and before work I tossed the mitts in the snow bank outside my front door, snapped a few, tossed it all inside and made the epic trek to the Metro.

While the post-knitting part of these mittens was such a trial, the actual knitting & even the working in a bazillion ends was surprisingly not. All the colour changes kept me on my toes and I couldn’t help from speeding my way through the chart to see the finished product. Though it was a bit of a stretch for me to work on them at Knit Nites™ sometimes the multi-tasking is not my strong point.

I love love LOVE the Latvian Mittens book so totally worth buying. Immediately after ordering I thought it was probably a little silly to buy a whole book to make mittens for a swap, but once it finally arrived, I was BLOWN AWAY. So many many many colour images of fabulous amazing mittens and charts for each and every one. As a visual person, I was so excited by the colour section and all it did was challenge me to come up with something just as great. And I’m really happy with how they turned out.

They are soon to be on their way to Germany with some Maple Syrup as soon as I can find a little stuffed Canadian Goose or Moose or something. Surprisingly tricky to find in these off-tourist-season time of year.

Almost at the finish line

The extra Noro found it’s way to my mailbox so I am almost done with my Adult Surprise Jacket (again). This time the sleeves are too narrow rather than too loose. But rather than start over (again) I decided that a little modification could save the sweater. A few short rows later and I have what I like to call speed stripes. But now the neckline is a little more bodice like so I’m leaving it to marinate for a bit while I figure out how I feel about it.

The second mitten is finished and I’m about half way through working in the ends. I’m semi considering blocking them before mailing off the package. Maybe just a steam job.

And of course I can’t be almost done a few projects without at least considering my next project. Well ‘considering’ turned into casting on for a Sideways Pullover from the Winter ’04 Interweave Knits. I’m adapting for smaller gauge and a closer fit than shown in the picture. I forgot how fabulously fun and mindless brioche stitch was.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get back to procrastinating the laundry a little longer.

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.

The ‘Other’ side of Fair Isle

They’re not done yet. I haven’t even quite finished one (thumb still to be done) but I just couldn’t wait to show off how great these mitts are turning out. Way amazinger than I thought possible. It blows my mind enough to make up words. Unfortunately the colour palette is tricky to capture, but you get the idea.

Here you can see the proper colour transitions. I reknit the body of the mittens several times to figure out the right combination of colours and the right order. I’m really happy with the final sequence.

I love Love LOVE the final effect of the mitten/cuff combo. I originally was going to use brown instead of the grey, but it just looked sucked the life out of the colours compared to the brightness of the cuff.

Here you can see the ‘other’ side of Fair Isle and crazy Latvian Mittens. TONS of ends to work in. I’m going to do it before working the thumb so that it doesn’t seem like such a chore. Yes I did carry yarns up the side when it made sense, but never more than one extra at a time. It’s just too many balls of yarn to wrangle for me.

I will most definitely be showing these off more when they’re finally done. I’m just so proud of them!

Oh and an update on the Adult Surprise Jacket, I guess I don’t have any extra balls kicking around, so I had planned to pick up another one when I was next at Effiloché only to find it was the one colour they didn’t have. Some Yarndex research indicates that it’s an extinct colour. Oy. But don’t fear, I found some on eBay.

Where’d I put that extra ball?

I’m this close to finishing up my Adult Suprise Jacket. All I need is that last ball of Noro Silk Garden that I swore I had kicking around. But now I can’t find it. I may have to get all drastic and completely go through my tub ‘o’ yarn to find it. Yargh! I swear it’s around here somewhere! Maybe I’ll have to suck it up and go buy another ball. Ugh. Not too worried about dye lots as there’s tons of colours going on that always shift.

In other news I’ve begun to work on the mittens for the No More Humdrum Mitten Swap. My partner asked for autumnal colours so I am going to town (as you can see). That’s just the cuff. I’ve worked into the body of the mitten, but think I may have to tweak the colour selection and transitions. They aren’t singing to me in the same way that they are in the cuff.

I’m becoming a swap junkie!

I just signed myself up for the No More Humdrum Mittens Swap and am quite looking forward to it. I heart knitting mittens and wearing knitted mittens.

Without further ado, here is my questionnaire:

How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I’ve been knitting since I was a kid (like 6 I think). My grandmother taught me, then I promptly forgot and retaught myself from books later on.

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Advanced. Entrelac, knitted lace, Fair Isle, steeking, what have you.

What are your favorite colors? Any you dislike?
I tend towards interesting and subtle colour combinations rather than bright colours and have been favouring shades of green, and blue lately, but don’t have any real dislikes. Sometimes a girl needs some hot pink in her life!

Do you like Latvian type patterns? If so, what are your favorite patterns?
Mmm, I haven’t explored traditional patterns too much. I’m pretty much open to anything.

I quite enjoy kitschy subject matter. Like the Swedish Squirrely Mittens that I’m currently working on. I would like to make a pair with a super cutesy, 60’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer kind of deer on them.

Do you desire mittens for yourself, your “special someone else” or your child?
Oh they’d be for me.

What other things do you enjoy knitting?
Scarves, sweaters, hats, socks, toys, whatever suits my fancy or whatever best suits the person I’m knitting for.

What sort of needles do you enjoy working with? (straights vs circs, bamboo vs aluminum)
Mmm. I’m a traditionalist and favour double points over that trendy magic loop crap. And it’s bamboo for me. I can’t deal with that scrapping feeling/sound of aluminium against aluminium.

What’s one project you’ve not yet tried but are dying to make?
Nothing comes to mind.

What’s one yarn you’ve not yet tried but are dying to work with?
I’d like to spend some more quality time with tweeds. In particular Jamieson’s 2-ply spinthrift.

What other hobbies do you have? Do you spin? Sew? Garden? Cook?
Haven’t gotten into spinning just yet, but am interested in trying it out. Yes I sew, but need to get me a sewing machine. Oh and sometimes I bake fun stuff like cookies, muffins and such.

Besides yarn, do you collect anything?
Not really. Unofficially I collect vintage glass pieces that are clear and green in colour. Not fancy, but everyday stuff like small vases, candle sticks, votive holders, interesting carafes. Usually it’s very 70’s olive glass.

What kind of goodies do you enjoy? Sweets? Salty? Anything you hate or are allergic to?
I like candy. Like gummy candies. Wine gums, Swedish Berries, etc. Jelly Bellies are good too.

Oh and I drink tea. Good solid old school black teas. And I quite like Chai.

I’m allergic to Mango.

Do you have any kids? Pets?
Nope, nope. Looking into getting a lovebird, but now I only have a plant.

What is your favorite part of Winter?
Um, Christmas holidays. My family usually goes somewhere warm.

What is your least favorite part of Winter?
The winter part. The thing that gets me through is fun mittens. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to knit winter accessories, but I don’t like the season AT ALL. I don’t like being away from green for so long.