Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chocolate vs. Wool

It's the weekend before Hallowe'en. In nearby Westport, which I drove through on my way to and from Janie H. Knits' humungous luxury yarn sale, there was live music, and pumpkin carving,

and a spooky house.

Even the woods near Westport had that grey, wintry, look that makes you think dark, melancholy thoughts.

Hallowe'en is on everyone's mind, it seems. And so is Hallowe'en candy. The problem is that I'm a chocoholic. I LOOOOVE chocolate. It doesn't even have to be the good stuff. A Coffee Crisp will turn me on almost as much as an expensive truffle. I lose control around chocolate.
So, my coping strategy is avoidance. I almost never have chocolate in the house and I almost never allow myself to have even a single taste. I can't ever stop at just one bite.
So, what's a chocoholic to do at this time of year?
Buy wool. That's right. Replace one indulgence with another, especially since wool has numerous advantages over chocolate.
1. Warmth. While both wool and chocolate can warm you in the cold, let's face it, a wool sweater, mitts, hat, scarf, and socks can get you through an October night in a broken-down car in the middle of nowhere, while the rush from chocolate is short lived.
2. Looks. Wool is beautiful and you feel more beautiful when you wear it. Chocolate just leaves your fingers gooey and (especially when eaten in the car) your clothes messy.
3. Durability. That chocolate treat beckoning from the goodie basket will be gone in minutes. Your wool/silk gloves will be with you forever (so long as you don't drop them onto the floor of a movie theatre or leave them in some moth-infested dark drawer).
4. Health. However much the chocolate industry tries to convince us that chocolate (at least the dark stuff) is good for us, the medical experts usually end up raining on their parade by announcing that the negatives (in the form of sugar and calories) outweigh the positives. Wool is sugar free!
5. Sheer fun. OK, so chocolate birthday cake is undeniably fun, but think of the HOURS of fun you get from a skein of Fleece Artist. Wool wins again.
About the only thing to be said for chocolate is that it's (usually) cheaper than wool. But you don't have to break the bank when buying wool. Go to sales and yarn swaps, make big shawls with fine yarn, look for classic wools that just happen to be amazing bargains, like this (that's right, 430 yds for $5.80!)
What did I do today to satisfy my cravings? I bought all this.

Then, I drove home and ate a Kit-Kat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bright But Different

Sunny and cold today, with a noticeable change in the feel of things. The absence of leaves allows the sun to have more presence, but at the same time the quality of the light is somehow different--maybe something to do with the rapidly shortening days and/or angle of the sun.

View of Lake Ontario from the bottom of my street.

Planter in front of the Frontenac Club Inn down the street from my house.

Entrance to the Frontenac Club Inn.

I decided to try out the 3-stitch welt pattern in a wool/silk blend I had in my stash.I think I like this better than the Peace Fleece, so I'm going to cast on and see what happens.

On the sock front, I'm done with Sock the First and thinking about moving on to Sock the Second. It's unusual for me to have more than one thing on the go at the same time. Here's the garter-edged heel flap and V-heel.

 Excellent fit.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Twin Trees and Better Ribbing

Spent Sunday playing with Barbara Walker's "Twin Trees" chart from her Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I tried it out in Green Mountain Spinnery's "Simply Fine" in natural variegated shades. My idea was that the shades would lighten as the pattern progressed toward the top of the chart, but unfortunately the shading didn't progress fast enough and there is only some slight change in shade.

If I try again, I'll weigh my sample and then wind off a similar weight from the skein, aiming for a length with more colour variation.
The other aspect of the experiment which I'd correct in future is that, as charted, the little square isn't "square" since the intense cabling in the centre draws that portion of the piece in. To compensate, I think I'd cast on about 3 fewer stitches, then increase further on and do the same in reverse toward the end.
Don't you think this would make a stunning inset into the upper back of a sweater? Hmm...
Yesterday (Monday), I tried out Ysolda's solution to the loose knit stitch at the transition from knit to purl in ribbing. She describes both the problem and her solution in her new book, "Little Red in the City".  Essentially, she suggests purling as in Eastern knitting, where the yarn is wound around the needle in the reverse direction from where it would normally go. This causes the yarn to travel less distance in the knit/purl transition, so that the ugly loose stitches disappear. (Don't forget to knit into the back of these Eastern purled stitches on the succeeding row.) It works beautifully, and your hands and brain get used to the new movements very quickly.

Nice, eh?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fading Rapidly

Now that we're into the second half of October the fall colours are fading rapidly. In fact, just 15 minutes north of Kingston, most of the leaves seem to be gone already. A few sumac shrubs still have their red leaves clinging. I love the slightly drab colours of late autumn.

I took these photos yesterday on my way to Janie H. Knits, where I dropped off this pile of sweaters and other knitted goodies.

Janie is kindly setting up a table for me at the Lanark Knitting Guild Vendor's Night, being held on Tuesday evening in Almonte, ON. If you're interested, there's info here. While at Janie's I discovered this.

Of course, I couldn't leave without it. Haven't put it down except to sleep. You don't need to read Japanese to be inspired by the simple elegance of these designs. And the faded, earthy colours play right into my fall mood. Off to play with my stash (sock knitting be damned today!)