Sunday, April 24, 2011

Knitterly Faff

I have finally (fingers crossed for good luck) made some serious headway on my recipe binder.  I had to go through and weed some of the recipes out already, to make sure that there aren't any major references to tomatoes, onions, honey, etc (the whole fructose malabsorption and FODMAP-intolerance thing).  I have a feeling there will be a rotating series of recipes flowing through it at any given time, but it's been a real godsend, so far.

I also stole/borrowed some ideas left here in the comments and on Rav about getting a binder to store knitting patterns in.  Not sure why it took me so long to do that, but there it is.  I think it's because when I was growing up, we didn't really get new school supplies.  I always seemed to have recycled binders from my mom's office as school notebooks.  I feel guilty about buying new notebooks and binders.  It seems wasteful, even though I have no source for recycled binders, now.

Is the fact that I feel guilty about that weird?  Probably.

Anyway, in doing the Spring Cleaning of my knitting, I found a slew (how many units of something constitutes a slew, btw?) of old patterns I no longer really like, some that I tried and didn't enjoy, some that weren't really patterns, but articles on technique.  Everything got filed or recycled.  It felt fantastic!

Then I moved on to organizing my Ravelry stuff.  Found a bunch of knitting stuff I never told you about or never followed up on.  So, here's a little list:

 1.  Fingerless Mitts for my sister's birthday.  I used this pattern.  It was wonderful (first time using a picot edge and I must say, it's quite pretty).

2.  The yarn I bought from Knit Picks to make into socks for yours truly.  It's sport weight, so they'll be a little bulkier, which is fine by me and my slightly-too-big Doc Martens.

3.  I don't think I told you, but I've added Caller Herrin to my Rav queue.  I can't afford the Alice Starmore yarns that Kate recommends, so I got some from Knit Picks. I tried to match the colours up, but also bought a few extras that seemed as though they might look good.  I'm still playing with the combinations, but I'm getting excited.  First colour work of this type for me.  Eeeek!

4.  Can I just tell you how inspiring I find Kate to be?  She makes me want to go outside right now, find a mountain, and climb it.  Also, I want to steal that camper van of hers and go joyriding.  I won't do it because that's just bad karma, but still.

5.  At the risk of appearing like a Kate groupie, I also want to point out that her pattern for Deco is ready.  As an architecture/design geek, this makes my heart pitter patter.  I want to make one out of Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in "Ash": 


6.  Let's just for a moment contemplate that yarn choice.  I will need just upwards of 1000 yds to knit that sweater.  Each ball contains 137 yards.  Let's say I decide to buy 9 balls, which gives me ample overflow in case something goes wrong.  Dudes.  That's $18 worth of yarn.  And the pattern will cost me somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10.  $28 for a sweater.  A wool sweater.  A beautiful, custom-made wool sweater.  Knit Picks, I love you.

7.  I discovered a few new designers the other day.  Can I share them with you?  

8.  Did you see that the spring 2011 Twist Collective is up?

Oh, and I finally saw The King's Speech.  Wonderful.  I loved just about everybody in that film.  Now I'm just impatiently waiting for True Grit to make its way to my local video shop (aka the gas station in our village).  I missed out when it was in theatres and I'm getting antsy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Argyle Colossus

I realize that I haven't given a status update on the argyle vest.  My avoidance was shame-based.  It is woefully under-completed.

Here it is:

And lovingly (whatever) placed over a well-worn and much-appreciated sweater that I've used as a guideline:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: instarsia, me no likey.  There are going to be approximately 1 gadgillion ends to weave in when I'm done.  I'm debating doing it on an on-going basis, as I progress.  Any thoughts, fellow instarsians?  Good idea?  Asking for trouble?

Also, my lack of progress may be due to some yard work we have undertaken.  I've decided that chopping/stacking wood is much more fun to do in the Spring.  Therefore, I have declared it a Spring Chore.  Amen.

This photo was taken yesterday evening at about 6:00 pm, when I got home.  Tonight, it is snowing.  Sigh.

And, my garden!  It LIVES!

Well, this was all pre-snowstorm, so it is will likely have taken a royal beating.  Status report to follow, when weather allows.

Because I spent so much of last summer feeling crappy, I feel as though I lost a year.  Do you know what I mean?  I spent my weekends crouched in the bathroom (TMI, I know...sorry) and/or in bed, so it's really all just a blur.  I remember renovating the bathroom.  I remember my friends coming over for a visit.  But I don't remember doing any decent gardening.  I was eating very little (elimination diets are hell), so I wasn't able to embrace the bounty that is organic gardening 'round these parts.  

This summer?  This summer will be make-up time.  I still don't feel 100%, but I'm starting to learn what works and what doesn't.  This winter, I was tested out the wazoo (no seriously, they tested my wazoo) and the conclusion is that there is nothing "structurally" wrong with me.  I have no tumours, no cysts, no inflammation, no lesions, nothing.  Apart from the potential for endometriosis (which I've always suspected that I have), there is nothing there.  So, that's good.  But it also sucks.  Because the only thing left is IBS.  Which, coincidentally, I have dubbed "Irritating Bull Shit".  If you have any experience with doctors and digestive ailments, you will understand what I mean.  They've latched on to the IBS diagnosis and refuse to let go.  If you so much as walk in there and tell them you have a stomach ache, their first and only guess is IBS.  At least, that's how it is out here.  And treatment?  They have none.  Live with it, they say.  Up yours, I say.  

So, I'm working with a naturopath and doing lots of reading.  I've discovered that on top of being gluten-intolerant, I am also likely fructose- and FODMAP-intolerant.  Good times.  Meat and dairy?  So far, so good (thank god, because seriously, I don't know if I can handle any more dietary restrictions...Universe, please do not interpret that as a dare, I beg you).  But, things are looking up, friends.  They are indeed looking up.

That bicycle of mine better get ready, because she and I have a hot date that is going to last 4 months.  


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Batchin' it

My hubbie has been busy this week with a rehearsal for a school play (cool, eh?) and a stupid teacher's union meeting, so I've been on my own for supper.  Last night I made the most awesome grilled cheese sandwiches with the most awesome gluten-free bread EVER!  There was an obscene amount of cheese on them (this loaf of gf bread is miniature, so I made two sandwiches...stop looking at me like that, I'm not THAT greedy!).

{Do you dip your grilled cheese sandwiches in ketchup?  Because if not, you should.  Ok, now I sound greedy.}

My digestive system revolted today as a result of my over-indulgence (could have been the Thai food I had for lunch, I suppose), so I resolved to eat something a little easier on my system tonight.  Not sure if I succeeded, but you guys have to check this out:

Yes, I actually opened the oven door to take a photo of it.  You guys, the smells emanating from this appliance were almost enough to make me pass out.  I had no idea that basil, mushrooms and cheese could smell that good.

And the taste?  I have two thoughts on that:

1.  Holy

2.  Cow

So, here's what I did: I made up a batch of my tried-and-true gf pizza crust (sorry, it's from a mix that is made locally, so I have no idea how to reproduce it...I know, I'm sorry - I hate it when other people cheat when they post recipes online...someday I'll hack the crust mix and then I'll post my recipe online, I promise).  Then, I sauteed some mini portabella mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  I slathered the tiniest hint of tomato sauce onto my crust, plopped the sauteed mushrooms on, took a handful of fresh basil and a handful of fresh arugula (no, not from my garden - are you kidding me? I wish!) and laid them over the top.  Then, I sliced up about 4 balls of bocconcini cheese and placed them over the basil and arugula.  A sprinkle of sea salt and the whole kit and kaboodle went into the oven for the prescribed 13 minutes.

And then I died and went to heaven.

{Was there too much cheese on it?  Will the tomato sauce make me wish I had never been born?  Only time will tell... Right at this moment, I say it was all worth it.}

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A big fact lecture on organization

Have I ever told you guys that my mom is a professional organizer?  Yup.  My mother is that mother.  The one who walks around at any given time with 5 lists in her (impeccably organized) purse.  The kind of mother who labels all the photos in her photo albums so that she knows when each one was taken.  The one who knows where everything in her condo is located.  If I call her up and ask her if she knows whether or not she still has that small pink angel tree ornament that my great grandfather gave me for my first Christmas, she can say with 100% certainty that yes, she does still have it - it's in the clear plastic bin in her storage locker that also contains the tree skirt and the manger (which is in its own labelled cardboard box, each piece carefully wrapped in tissue paper), but not the one that has the glass ball ornaments.  My mother labels all of her spice jars in her perfect little neat-and-tidy handwriting.

Why yes, it is very annoying, thanks for asking.

Annoying, but handy.  Having lived with her for 19 years, I picked up a few things by osmosis.  And I'm going to share one of those things with you.  You lucky lucky people.

I'm going to show you my knitting journal.  Or rather, the notebook that I drag everywhere that contains, among many other things, very important notes on most of the major knitting projects I have ever undertaken.  I'm showing you this not because it is a perfect example of how you should document your knitting (the word "perfection" is not a word I use in regards to anything I do...ever - you could say I am an "imperfectionist", in fact).  Rather, I am showing this to you in the hopes that it may help you in coming up with your own "perfect" system.  Plus, it's kind of like snooping through your host's bookcase when you go over for a dinner party.  Please tell me you do that, too.  Anyone?

Ok, moving on.  Here's where I'm going to start my tour:

 This is my painted wooden Ikea drawer organizer.  I took photos of townhouses in Montreal (that's "mun-tree-AWL" for all English-speaking folks residing outside Canada, not "MAWN-tree-awl) and used them as inspiration when I painted this in 1999.  The top-right drawer contains knitting goodies:

Every single band band (I don't bother keeping multiples) from every major project I've undertaken in the past 4 years is in this box, most with notes scribbled on them, so I can tell what I used them for.  The swatches for all those projects can all be found in my yarn stash box, with leftover bits of yarn and such.  Except, I've got a couple of swatches here for some reason.

By the way, this is what happens when you own a dog.  Dogs do this sort of thing all the time and then poop all over your apartment while you're at work.  If you are interested in getting a dog, you must embrace the chaos or else your dog-owning days shall be numbered.

The second and most important stop in my tour is my Moleskine notebook.  I don't keep the ball bands in the notebook because there are too many and the spine started getting a little strained when I tried.  I used to use a large, hard-covered notebook with blank pages, but it proved to be way too big.  So, this is what I use now:

First page: standard body measurements for women.  Go here to have your mind blown with information overload.

If you're going to start using a book to jot down your knitting notes (and I strongly recommend that you do, otherwise why would I bother showing you this, duh?), it's really important that your notebook not be too "precious".  Honestly, this notebook has been everywhere with me.  There are grocery shopping lists in this book.  I let my husband doodle in it.  I've stapled business cards into it.  It's not just my knitting book, it's my pre-iPod Touch junk drawer.  That's the only way I can stick to the notebook resolution.  I can not carry 3 books around.  Geez, I have a hard time remembering to bring this one.  

I have designs for magazine racks in here.  I have notes from when we were negotiating our mortgage.

There are doodles in here.  Design ideas for stuffed animals and toy monsters for a friend's toddler.

Notes from a design conference (totally mindblowingly awesome, btw).

Here's where we get to some actual knitting:

The page on the right contains some ideas for quilt blocks, but the page on the left contains my notes for the ribbing in a baby tunic I designed.  I knew I had a certain number of stitches in the yoke and needed to lay out the cables and ribs properly.  You see why the grid pages come in handy?

Blog notes alongside notes on the last pair of mitts I knit for my husband.  The ball band for the tunic I'm working on right now (it will graduate to the drawer when I'm done that project).

Some cable patterns for my next pullover sweater.  These were done while I was sitting in bed with a cold and perusing a stitch dictionary.

VERY GOOD IDEA ALERT:  I was contemplating knitting a Hybrid Sweater for my husband and though I have Elizabeth Zimmermann's book (Knitting without Tears), I wanted to walk myself through her pattern and write it out in my own words, using my own gauge.  That project was reconsidered, as I came to the conclusion that my husband needs a wool sweater like he needs a hole in the head.  Someday, those notes might come in handy, though.  You just never know.

Some sketches and notes for an incarnation of a sweater that got frogged about half-way in.  Doodles, isn't it a little frightening how similar this sketch looks to your own sketches for Hibernate?

Good thing I dated that page, so I could safely say that I did not copy you.  Phew.

So, that's what I have in the notebook.  I carry it with me when I'm travelling and it stays in a safe place when I'm home.  It has saved me much aggravation and I hope that seeing it will demystify the concept of a knitting journal for those of you who don't have one and help you take the next step. 

I want to show you one last thing before we go:

If you're new to knitting and you're taking on a new project that you've never attempted, please do yourself a favour and make a photocopy of it.  You're allowed to make a copy for your own use - you will not be infringing copyright, I swear it.  Take that photocopy and mark it up.  Circle the notes pertaining to the size you are making.  Cross out instructions that will not apply to you.  Add notes to the margins.  Write down what size needles you are using.  If you switch needles, note the reason on your pattern.   Jot down the recipient's body measurements right there, so you don't have to hunt them down mid-way through the pattern when you get confused about which size you're supposed to be knitting.  If you've based the size on measurements taken from an existing garment, write that garment's measurements down.  Tuck the pattern into your journal and take it with you.  When you're done with it, staple it in.

In short, I write everything down.  I make lists.  I keep everything together.  I don't throw my ball bands or swatches away.  Heck, I could take photos of my projects and paste them in, if I were so inclined (that's actually where I use Ravelry instead of my notebook).  I could tape or staple a little length of my yarn into my book.

{Just don't do what I tried for years to do: remember all these minute details without notes.  I don't think it's possible and you'll just make yourself cry if you attempt it.  Better to spend a few $$ and get yourself a cute little notebook instead.  You have my permission to go to your local bookstore/stationary and get one tomorrow.  When your spouse questions your expenditure, tell him/her to take it up with me.  I'll set 'em straight.}

So, what about you?  Do you have a craft or knitting journal?  Any cool tips for me?  Come on, I know you do!  Give 'em up!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go here. Listen to this.

This is beyond funny.

So is this.

Anyone who is a knitter and has knit for anyone else can relate to this.