Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20: Story of a Rhinebeck sweater

Rhinebeck was great. There were sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and rabbits; just about every kind of fibre you can imagine; nifty little (and big!) trinkets; treats of every description, including apple cider donuts; trees aflame with fall colour.

I loved seeing my knitting friends – many of whom I only know via Twitter, or who I get to see once a year at Squam – in person. I loved seeing so many people I didn't know parading around in their knitted finery. It was a true feast for the eyes.

I didn't do much parading around in my knitted finery, because I spent the weekend trying to finish my finery. The first clue that I wasn't going to be wearing my sweater was when one of my non-knitter friends looked at my knitting last Monday and said, "Hey, nice scarf."

Hm. She had a point.

Try as I might, I didn't think I'd be able to pull off the "knitted cummerbund with matching arm warmers" look. Thus ensued much fevered knitting, but by Thursday night I had yet to join the sleeves to the body. I stitched and stitched and stitched...and I carried that WIP with me all weekend.

I finally cast off in the car on the way home, about 65 miles from the US-Canada border. At the next rest stop, I changed clothes at the gas station for a quick victory photo. It was supremely, sublimely itchy, but oh boy: I am in love with this sweater.

It's blocking now and I can't wait to wear it. Maybe I'm being silly, but I'm actually a little bit happy that it worked out the way it did. Now it's more than a sweater; it's a sweater with a story. My favourite kind.

(Details on my version of Strokkur here. Next up: Carpino.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5 – Bits and pieces: changes and the gathering in

Not much new these days really: reading, walking, stitching, cooking. Perhaps not revolutionary, but still things to be savoured in the early, not-too-cold days of early autumn.

I finished the afghan at long last. The seaming was a bit of a chore, but the final border – a round of double crochet in navy – went on without much fuss. It's not a huge blanket, but it'll be just the thing for a baby at some point or other. I'm glad to be retiring the crochet hook for a little while.

My Rhinebeck sweater is coming along. The sleeves are done and I cast on the body today. I'll be pushing it to get finished in time, but when it comes to me and knitting deadlines, what else is new?

I read the profile of Marilynne Robinson in the New York Times last week on the subway as I made my way home from school, and when I got to my stop I walked directly to the bookstore to buy a copy of Gilead. It has captured me in a way that books seldom do these days. I'm savouring it.

Two weeks ago I finished my job at the yarn store. It was a difficult decision, but after working 30 days straight in August/September, I knew I needed to make a change. I celebrated my first real weekend off in more than a year by heading to the farmer's market yesterday, which is where I found the dahlias.

After the farmer's market I walked down to the Distillery District. I like it there, like the glimpses of the city's industrial past and the reassuring hum of highway traffic in the near distance. I poked around, took some pictures, bought some fancy chocolate and drank a chai latte while I watched little kids chase pigeons and sparrows chase crumbs. The sun was in and out; the rain was on and off. There was a teasing breeze.

On the way home I walked through back streets, deliberately choosing unfamiliar routes. It was refreshing to see the familiar skyline from an unfamiliar perspective; almost as good as being out of town. (Almost.) When I stay away from the thoroughfares I can feel my pace slow and my head come up – more time for sauntering, more time for looking and wondering. I need to do that more often.

At home, the nights draw in and the lights go on earlier day by day. My mind is turning to roasted meats and veg, puddings that simmer in the oven. I brew mug after mug of tea. I pulled an old favourite pullover out of the drawer today; it's not one of my fancier sweaters, but putting it on felt like being reunited with an old friend.

I do love the fall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24 – Lately

Here we are and somehow September's almost over. Last week there was a definite chill in the air; this week the warmth has returned, albeit for a limited engagement. I've been busy with all manner of work, which hasn't left much time for the fun stuff...but here are a few things from the in-between times.

The deadline for the crochet blanket CAL came and went and I'm still the proud owner of a bunch of piles of granny squares. Oh well – you win some, you lose some, I guess.

There were no hot dogs to be found.

My neighbour's copper beech has turned, and so has the oak just up the street. I love walking along the street in the morning and watching the way the early sun turns the leaves into stained glass.

I made a hat. If you're looking for a quick-and-easy FO hit, Jared Flood's Turn-a-Square has got to be it. Apple optional but highly recommended.

From this morning's walk to school.

Anyway, miles to go before I sleep. More soon.

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15 – Change is afoot

Less than a week left of summer now, but I already feel deeply entrenched in autumn. The hint of chill that dogged those late-summer mornings never really lifts these days; I've put away my summer skirts and sandals and it's back to jeans and boots once more. My sweaters are serving their purpose again, old and new favourites alike in heavy rotation. Sometime this week I'm going to cull my scarves and cowls, see what's ready for the fall and what's ready to be retired. I think there's a new hat in my future.


Two perfect images from yesterday:
1. Walking to work, I saw the early sun glint off an office tower, bouncing the light onto the crenellations of the neighbouring church. For just a moment, everything glowed silver. Then the church bells rang, tolling the hour, and a flight of pigeons launched, soaring out over the street, graceful in silhouette despite their panic.

2. At the end of the day, waiting for a bus with my face turned toward the setting sun, I saw the light catch the telephone wires. They flashed and pulsed like beads of mercury. Mackerel-belly clouds lined the sky; off to the west, the beacon atop the CN Tower flashed its secret messages. A streetcar sang in the distance. The sun dropped down behind the trees.


It's dark earlier every day.


In the kitchen, I'm all about comfort food: roasted root vegetables and sweet sausage; homemade spaghetti sauce simmered on the stove; baking powder biscuits and apple crisp hot from the oven. Today I had a sudden craving for oatcakes with raspberry jam. The kettle's on constantly and the dish rack's scarcely cleared of pots and pans before I've filled it up again. I'm in the mood to roast a chicken.


My Rhinebeck sweater is progressing now, finally. I'm making Strokkur (a modern take on the traditional Icelandic lopi sweater), but I'm adding colourwork to the sleeves and around the hem, and adding length all over; the two not unrelated, actually. It's coming together relatively quickly, the blessing of big yarn and big needles, but (agreeable swatch notwithstanding) I'm not convinced about the size. There's a trial sleeve-blocking in the cards. We'll see.

(The afghan and the socks continue to crawl along. I'm ready to be finished the former and not devoting enough time to the latter, but there's always something that falls to the bottom of the pile. They'll get their due in time. Meanwhile I'm secretly obsessed with this slipper pattern. Might sneak a pair of those in somewhere, too.)


Work and life and all the rest of it continues apace. More soon. Be well and do good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10 – Seven

Today marks seven years since I moved to Toronto. Thinking deep thoughts over here...but I'll leave you with a photo from a windswept evening at a beach not far from Tatamagouche, instead.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Still chipping away at my African flower hexagon afghan. The end of the crochet-along is now in sight, and with two weeks to go and 44 hexes under my belt, I'm looking at an impressive to-do list.

Or maybe finishing the last 19 hexes, sewing in all the ends, and crocheting it all together into something that vaguely resembles a blanket will be easy to achieve in the next 15 days (she said wryly).

But deadline notwithstanding, I'm still enjoying this project – working on motifs is pretty satisfying, because it doesn't take long to finish each square, in the grand scheme of things. So although school started again last week, and despite the fact that I've got a series of writing projects on the docket, and – well, you've seen me list my current WIPs – I'm still happy to take half an hour here and there to cross another hex off my list.

Slow and steady wins the race (or, at least, gets the blanket finished) – right?