Yarn & Paper – Writing Knitting Patterns, and Self-Patterning Socks

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

The workshop this past weekend with Kate Atherley was fantastic. She kept the class entertaining with her very British, very dry humour, and she is clearly an expert on all things related to sock knitting. I learned a new heel that I’d never tried before, plus a few tricks including how to prevent holes from forming when picking up for the gusset. The afternoon was all about sizing socks to perfectly fit your feet; I now have plans to measure my own feet, possibly with some help. Ultimately I’d like to knit up perfectly-fitting socks with the gorgeous Riverside Studio yarn from last week’s post. I spent most of the workshop knitting, what else, a sock. Inspired by some of Kate’s comments I decided to do a plain heel flap rather than my usual reinforced Eye of Partridge. The Eye of Partridge would have obscured the self-patterning yarn, and I’m curious to see how the heel holds up without the reinforcement.

The workshop also inspired me to check out Kate’s latest book, The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, from the library. Besides being a knitting teacher and speaker, Kate is also a tech editor for Knitty.com. That job involves editing knitting patterns for clarity and accuracy, checking all the math, and making sure that the pattern actually produces the item it claims to produce. I’ve been interested in tech editing ever since I found out the job existed, since I enjoy editing, I’m not afraid of math, and of course I like knitting. I’m hoping that reading Kate’s book will give me more insight into this kind of work and whether it would be something I’d like to pursue as a side-gig.

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Yarn & Paper – Finishing Brideshead Revisited, and Workshop Homework

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I finished Brideshead Revisited! Apparently it’s kind of a classic? Like most classics, I found it a mostly depressing read. There were happy moments, but it was a melancholy book overall. Not my favourite, despite being set in one of my favourite time periods. Since finishing it I have no fiction books on the go, and unfortunately I’m getting a bit bored with my in-progress non-fiction books. I’m very tempted to pull one of my favourite novels off my bookshelf, but that would violate my “no new things” rule for April. Finishing off the non-fiction would make me feel better, I suppose. I’m really trying to reduce the number of things that I have in-progress, books included. I’ll hold out until the end of April, at least.

This weekend Kate Atherley is coming to Ottawa to teach a series of workshops hosted by the Ottawa Knitting Guild. I signed up for the Saturday classes on how to knit custom-fit socks. One class has a rather large swatch as optional homework, which I’m knitting in some beautiful Riverside Studio yarn I bought on my first visit to Montreal. The colour is appropriate since we are finally seeing our first signs of green returning to Ottawa. The first green grass of the year always makes me so happy after the unrelenting brown and grey of the last few months. I can’t wait for the tulips (and spring) to finally arrive!

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Yarn & Paper – Tutankhamun Continues, and New Socks

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

The Splitstone vest from last week’s post is getting too big to fit into my purse, so I cast on a new set of vanilla socks to carry with me everywhere I go. The yarn is from a store in Shediac, New Brunswick. I bought it last fall during my first road trip through the Maritime provinces with my boyfriend. I bought a lot of yarn on that trip, and this is the first ball that I’ve cast on. The colours aren’t knitting up quite how I expected, and I’m not sure I like it so far. Hopefully the orange becomes less prominent as I get further into the ball.

I read fairly quickly, but it has taken me 2 months of daily reading-with-breakfast to get only most of the way through this Tutankhamun book. The bulk of the book is mostly short descriptions of the various items found in Tutankhamun’s tomb, which makes it perfect for short 10-15 minutes reading sessions. The photos are what really make the book; they are gorgeous and incredibly detailed photos. And unlike many coffee-table books, the text is well written and interesting to read. My only issue is that it doesn’t usually take me this long to get through a book, so I’m starting to get impatient to finish it and move on to the next one.

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April: No New Things

Over the past month or so I’ve been feeling an ever-increasing sense of overwhelm with no obvious cause. Sure, work has been a little busier than usual, and a little more stressful, but not enough to cause this feeling I’ve had. My volunteer commitments have stayed relatively constant, and I’ve spent the usual number of weekends out of town visiting family and the boyfriend. Nothing changed significantly from February to March, except that I suddenly felt like there was too much happening and it was happening all at once.

It took me awhile to name this feeling, but once I started paying attention to it, I noticed that most of my anxiety and stress was centred around the commitments I had made to other people. I’m what Gretchen Rubin classifies as an Obliger: I find it much easier to meet other people’s expectations than my own. This often works out well for me since I’m able to reliably deliver on the promises I make to people. The downside is that I’m too quick to offer my help when I know how to fix a problem. It is very easy for me to become overwhelmed with these kinds of commitments, and I have a hard time saying no to new ones. Once I’ve agreed to do something, it is almost impossible for me to let that person down. This can lead very quickly to a state of overwhelm.

Now that I’ve recognized that I’m getting overwhelmed, I want to do something about it! As tempting as a few weeks in an isolated cabin are at the moment, I don’t actually want to drop everything and retreat from the world for weeks. I also don’t want to back out of anything I’m currently committed to. Instead, I’m trying an idea I’ve used in the past: I’ve declared April to be a month of No New Things. This means that anything new that comes up during April gets put off until May. This could include an idea I have for a new craft project, or an interesting book that I hear about and suddenly want to read. If anyone asks me to take on something new (outside of work) I have to say no, or at least “not now”. Work is an exception since I don’t have a lot of control over those tasks, and they tend to stay nicely bound within work hours anyway. I keep a running list of things that I’ve put off so that I can review it in May.

I’ve taken a few key actions to implement this idea:

  • I paused all my holds at the library
  • I’ve deleted all the “interesting” events from my calendar that I hadn’t already committed to attending.
  • I started list on my phone to capture all the ideas I have this month. That way I can review them in May and I won’t feel the need to start them immediately

It’s not easy to stick to this plan. I’ve already failed a few times, and spent a few hours on things that aren’t my responsibility. Still, just deleting the events from my calendar brought such a feeling of relief that I know I’m on the right track. I’m trying to stay mindful and repeat “no new things in April” as often as possible. My hope is that I’ll be able to stay focused this month, finish off a few commitments, and start May feeling lighter and less overwhelmed. If not, I might just extend the “no new things” rule another month! I’ll let you know how it goes.

P.S. I’m not quite satisfied with “no new things” as the name for this idea. It’s descriptive, but it doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue. If you have any better suggestions, please let me know! I have a feeling I’ll be doing this again in the future.

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Yarn & Paper – Splitstone, and Brideshead Revisited

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

Another old WIP from 2015! I’m slowly making my through all my old knitting and sewing projects. There are only two knitting WIPs left from 2015, this Splitstone vest and a lace scarf. I wasn’t sure whether I was getting the right gauge on this vest, which is why I’ve avoided working on it for months. A few months ago I blocked it, measured gauge again, tried it on, and did all kinds of math. All that to discover that this gauge and size should work out just right. I’ve brought this project with me everywhere this week and I’ve already added more than 2 inches. I’ve even memorized the cable, which helps make it good social knitting, at least until it gets too big. With any luck I’ll have this done by next fall when it gets cold enough to wear it again.

I picked up Brideshead Revisited from the library on a whim after I saw a recommendation on the blog Modern Mrs Darcy. From the book jacket I gather that it was made into a movie about 10 years ago, though I’d never heard of the movie otherwise. The book is set in Britain in the inter-war period, which is one of my favourite periods to read about. I was introduced to that era mostly through cozy mysteries, both written at the time (e.g. Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter) and written recently (e.g. the Daisy Dalrymple series). I’m curious to see whether I get the same feeling from a narrative novel. So far there isn’t much plot, and some of the more archaic language is a bit hard to follow, but the style is still rather charming. I’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction binge lately and this novel is a much-needed break.

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Yarn & Paper – Taproot Weave and Hexipuffs

Yarn & Paper is my replacement for the discontinued “Yarn Along” posts. I’ll still be sharing what I’m reading and knitting every Wednesday, just with a slightly different title. Enjoy!

This past Sunday found me once again at the Scone Witch on Elgin street, this time with a bigger pot of tea and a new issue of Taproot! I think Weave might be my favourite issue so far. I love the piece on Peruvian and Australian Aboriginal dyers and weavers, and I’m planning to try out the braided Challah bread recipe as soon as possible. This is pretty much the only magazine I read these days so I made a point of savouring it over cup after cup of hot tea. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

I blocked my vanilla socks this week and immediately wore them to work the next day. The last of the leftover ball was knit up into hexipuffs just after the photo above was taken, which means another skein of yarn out of my stash and another old project finished. I seem to have finally hit on the trick to getting myself to finish old crafting projects. I have a regular sew date with a quilting friend and this time I brought all my hand-mending with me. I got through 4 or 5 different mending projects, and wove in a few ends on some knitting projects too. I didn’t bring anything else to work on, and the social aspect kept me distracted through the boring stuff. It worked so well I’m thinking of trying the same idea with a few other friends too, if only so I can get through my huge backlog of craft projects! Well, that plus the social time with friends, of course 😉

As a little bonus, here is a shot of the finished vanilla socks:

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The Last Yarn Along – Tutankhamen (again) and Hexipuffs (again)

My third-ever post on this blog was a Yarn Along post. Over the years since then I have joined in Ginny’s Yarn Along link-up (almost) ever week. This simple routine has kept me blogging when I didn’t have the time or brain space for anything more complicated. Today Ginny posted that, after more than six years of weekly posts, she is retiring the Yarn Along link-up. I’m sorry to see it go, not least because it has been such a powerful force in my own blogging schedule! But things change, and we change with them. I’m going to try to keep up this weekly routine of posting about what I’m currently knitting and reading. I really do like the routine. These posts won’t be called “Yarn Along” anymore, but I don’t think I want to change them in any fundamental way.

Both the knitting and the reading this week are repeats from previous Yarn Along posts. I’m still reading the huge Tutankhamun look-book in the morning over breakfast. The photos are stunning and the information on each piece from the tomb is interesting enough to keep me engaged, and short enough to keep things moving. I’m past the halfway point now and I’m still enjoying it. I’ve been thinking I need to pick up some new fiction to balance out all this heavy non-fiction, though.

I finally finished the toe of my second vanilla sock, so now I’m knitting hexipuffs to use up the leftovers. I have several goals for the year related to using up my yarn stash and I’m excited to be able to count yet another skein as “all used up”. These socks have been in-progress for over a year, so it was very satisfying to finally finish them up.

 

 

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