Tuesday, 26 November 2013

last day in the uk...for a bit

today's been my last day in the uk until after new year's. tomorrow, the mrs. and i will be up absurdly early for a ferry ride and then three hour coach ride to heathrow, then i'll fly to toronto and hang out there for a couple of days before carrying on to the prairies on friday. 

we tried to get my passport photos taken this afternoon, but after getting them done and paying for them, found out they're not the right size for canadian applications. gee, thanks. ah well, we at least got my address change sorted at the bank on the same errand run. 

i spent the majority of the evening finishing off xmas gifts and packing (which i'd luckily done for the most part when we moved last week). it involved pulling out the sewing machine, sewing on buttons, and wrapping the finished gifts after some poor photos were taken using my iphone...again. they're particularly low quality this time. sorry. i seriously need to invest in a decent camera, and stop doing my projects last minute so that the sun goes down before i can stage a photo shoot.

anyway, here are a couple pics of some xmas gifts for the mrs.'s family. i sewed a cowl for her nan using brushed cotton. the finished product is lovely and cozy, but my ikea sewing machine was not a huge fan of the cotton. it kept sticking together, and the machine isn't strong enough to do straight seams on a good day. i need to get the vintage singer we found serviced so that i can start sewing on it. 

and here's a hat i knit using a bulky alpaca/wool blend for her mama. 

i also finally put the buttons on her niece's cardigan, but i want some decent photos of it to show, so those will probably happen some time in the new year. 

we watched despicable me 2 while i wrapped everything up and she coughed (poor thing managed to catch a cold in the past 24 hours). i love those minions!

Monday, 25 November 2013

replacement knit #1, finished!

i finished the hat! just in time for running errands in the cold. here are some terrible iphone photos of it...

i think i may ask the parentals for a decent camera for xmas, and some photography lessons from dad. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

replacement knits

the mrs. and i have moved to the isle of wight, officially. as in, we're here with all our stuff. as i left london though, i somehow managed to lose my hipster hat that i knit for myself last year on the flight across the pond!

if you spot this hat in north london, give me a shout.
the irony of losing that right after reading anushka tay's article "knits i have known and loved" in pom pom was a bit annoying, to be honest. and my handshoes that i knit years ago (one of my first projects, and my first cabled project) are fraying around the top edge in several places. sigh. i suppose this is why we knit multiples of things. luckily, i was planning on knitting myself a warmer hat (my hipster was knit in dk and definitely not warm enough for winnipeg winter weather), as well as the vite cowl out of a spare skein of rasta i had in my stash. (a quick note on the vite pattern - it doesn't mention that the 24 row pattern is just one repeat of the design. for a full cowl or scarf, you'll need to do a few repeats. when i finish mine, i'll make a note of how many times i did it.)

i'm knitting the hat along the same lines as another hat i made a few months ago, using the short row brim of stephen west's bedrock hat pattern with just a plain stockinette floppy top. i knit bedrock for a friend a couple years ago and it was a headache for several reasons, mostly due to not having enough of the yarn he sent me to complete the pattern, and so spending ages finding a suitable yarn to combine with it and then sort out how to combine the colours within the pattern. the finished product is lovely, and he was really pleased with it, but i just prefer a slightly plainer knit for myself. i love short rows though, and the shape of the hat is fabulous. so, short row brim with stockinette top! i'm knitting it out of madelinetosh worsted which i got on sale from loop during the summer, which is a single ply merino. it's really soft and lovely, just has a tendency of stretching a bit more than necessarily desired. i used a long-tail cast-on to keep the brim stretchy but still structured.

the original plan was to knit them after i'd finished mum and dad's xmas gifts, since those two are rather large in terms of projects. but then i lost my hat, and i'm cold already. so i'm knitting myself a couple of quick things and then getting back on track with the parental knits.

Friday, 22 November 2013

big changes, little changes

well, it's official. the mrs. and i have moved out of london. we're moving down to the isle of wight to be closer to family and to actually afford a life. london is a fabulous city, but not so much if you're spending all your time working in order to afford basic rent and bills. in that case, you may as well be in any large, anonymous city with angry transit rides that eat up half your day. not my idea of an enjoyable time. so we've moved, and will hopefully be able to not be living paycheck to paycheck so much, and at the very least we'll be right beside the ocean and near the family.

today was my last day at the yarn shop, and it was lovely and a bit bittersweet. mostly lovely though. it's a bit frightening to be unemployed again, although to be fair i certainly have enough to do right now to keep myself busy! i'm still finishing off xmas gifts, and once those are done, i have a huge queue of items to knit and sew for the shop and in exchange for favours (like that photo shoot a few days ago that you'll all eventually get to see!). my boss dropped by with her new baby (who was adorable), and flowers and chocolates. now there's the way to send someone off! seriously, everyone should get flowers more often. the toddler on the train this evening certainly was enthralled with them.

goodnight moon toy that i knit for my boss's baby
yesterday, the mrs. and i spent a really nice last full day in london. we were up early and off to the v&a to check out ancient buddhist statues, theatre costumes, clothing, and to have tea with one of my old classmates. then we had a quick lunch before spending the rest of the afternoon at the science museum, which was fascinating. so much medical science history in one place! also, museum shops. i love them. after the museums, we went to fortnum & mason to grab xmas gifts, to anthropologie (my first time - it's incredible! i wanted everything...), and to hamley's toy store (also my first time, and also incredible). we finished off at jamie's pop-up diner, where i had a margarita that arrived in a mason jar (everything should always be in mason jars), before we headed home and packed. 
modern merges with classic: new twist on the chandelier at the v&a

so, on to new beginnings. i've got a few days off before flying back to canada mid-week, with a stop off in toronto for a couple of days (expect pictures of delicious yarns) and then back to the prairies to sit on my butt and knit while watching xmas movies with the dog. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

tdor and knitting

on the face of it, there may not appear to be a direct link between knitting and tdor, the trans* day of remembrance. 

today, the 20th of november, is the day we bow our heads in north america to mourn and honour those in our trans* family who have lost their lives to transphobic violence. events are happening in london on friday across the city. we gather, read the names (when they are known) of the dead, and try to muster some sort of courage in the face of deep loss. the vast majority of murdered siblings every year are trans* women of colour in south american countries. the reasons and politics around this are dense, and not something i really want to delve into. not because it's not important, but because it's convoluted, and also not an excuse. people shouldn't be violently murdered because they have the courage to live their lives in the face of a society and world that tells them they're wrong just because they don't fit into a nice little box. tdor has a tendency of making me angry, and depressed, and of making me draw inward more than usual. 

and yet today, i've had a lovely day. i did a photo shoot this morning with lovely friends who woke early and braved the shitty weather to model and take photographs for a couple of knitting patterns i'm releasing soon. one of them will be driving around north america with me next summer on curiouser theatre's next tour. and then i dropped into loop, ran into one co-worker, chatted with another, and said a "farewell for now" to my lovely friend lydia, who also happens to be the co-editor of pom pom. i'll do a proper review of the latest issue in a later post. i knew lydia before i realized she also happens to be behind one of my favourite publications. then i had a coffee at a sweet cafe before work, chatting with the friendly barista (who had a gorgeous graphic tattoo on his arm) and then hanging out with my favourite co-worker (can i say that?) for the last time before the big move. 

so what do these things have to do with each other? what does pom pom have to do with tdor? nothing, on the surface. but if you dig a little deeper, they both come down to community. communities that have nothing to do with geographical proximity. the same way that one of my favourite humans lives in pennsylvania and our relationship has relied 98% on internet contact, i communicate and feel a kinship with knitwear designers who live across the world and whom i've yet to meet. we come together in various ways because we share something, a passion for fibre, for love, for life. 

this year, tdor still makes me sad. particularly because this is the second year in a row that i've been separated from the vast majority of my trans*/queer family by an ocean on a day when we desperately need to know we're not alone. but i'm not alone. not by a long shot. and neither are you, wherever you are. someone, somewhere out there, knows and understands your life, because they've had similar experiences. and so whether it is by social media, or subversive knitting groups, or a local cafe, or letters from someone you've never met but still somehow know fully and deeply, we connect with one another. and form communities, which cross over into other communities, and meld into yet others. it's how we've survived all these years, and it's how we'll continue to survive. as long as our communities remain strong but still open, we'll make it. here is my hand, opened to you. i hope you return the favour.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

date night and crochet

i finally got around yesterday to finishing (or basically finishing) another couple of gifts. they were knit ages ago and just needed some crocheted edges and blocking, in one case. here's the thing: i don't crochet. i appreciate the look of a lot of crocheted items (although i still tend to prefer knitted stuff, go figure), but when it comes to doing it myself, well, i'd rather not. i'm teaching myself, slowly, but i still find getting the tension even bizarrely difficult. anyway, i did finally get around to doing those crochet edgings yesterday, and they do make the finished products much nicer in various ways. one still needs to be blocked to size and buttons added to it, but other than that, three more gifts knocked off the to-do list. 

which leads to the much more enjoyable portion of my yesterday - date night with the mrs.! she got us free tickets to see don jon at curzon, and afterwards we wandered regent street and carnaby street looking at the xmas lights. it was adorable. and the movie was great! in typical joseph gordon-levitt fashion, the script was a lot more nuanced than you originally expect at the beginning. i especially appreciated julianne moore's character as the voice of reason, in her own quirky way. particularly in the not-so-subtle suggestion that while jon (gordon-levitt) watched damaging porn, that didn't make all porn damaging (cue reference to 70s alternative danish porn). lovely. i'm sure the rest of the team behind the bad bad book club back home would appreciate this sentiment. (speaking of which, our journal publication GUSH! will be accepting work until jan. 7. you should maybe apply if you have something relevant you'd like to share.)

here are some terrible iphone pics from last night that don't give nearly a nice enough impression of last night's light-gazing:

xmas market on the south bank
hamley's toy store display
more from hamley's
carnaby street was definitely the cutest.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

xmas starts early here

i've been working on xmas gifts since august. yes, august. it's absurd, until you consider the fact that i'm knitting or sewing nearly every item, including two full-sized garments for the pair that gave me life (aka my parents). i'm also dealing with getting gifts to people on two continents, in four different countries, all ideally in time for opening under an over-sized tree. so, most of my crafting projects over the past four months have been in anticipation of that. and i have more to go yet. 


it's really exciting when they're finished, and in a pretty pile, and even better when they get wrapped up. 

these weren't technically my first presents wrapped, since i did wrap part of the girlfriend's niece's gift a couple days ago, but it's still exciting. i love seeing piles of gifts that i know i've spent ages planning, finding the perfect materials in the perfect colours, making and knitting and cutting and stitching, finally wrapped up in pretty paper and ready for eager (and often unsuspecting) hands. 

i rarely get gifts back from the people i make gifts for, at least in the material sense. but everyone i make for has an important place in my life, and there are very few things that give me more pleasure than seeing the joy in their faces (or hearing it in their voice over skype) when they unwrap their gift.

do you make gifts for friends and family too? what was your favourite one?

Saturday, 16 November 2013

too dark for pics...

i spent the day in transit and then at work today, so by the time i made it home, the sun had long set. unfortunately, this means no pretty pics for today's post. i'll try to make up for it tomorrow.

i've got about a week and a half before flying back to canada for the holidays, and during that time i have a photo shoot for two knitting patterns i'll be releasing soon, as well as packing and finishing off xmas gifts for my uk friends. i have pom poms to attach, crochet edgings to add, sewing to do, and some last minute knits to start. one of those is currently on my needles - a quick bulky hat for the mrs.'s mum. we picked the yarn up earlier in the week at strictly knitting in shanklin, isle of wight. i'm also working on a cardigan for my dad. i finished the back piece and started on the left front, but i think it may need to go on hold until i get on the airplane. i'll post the actual specs of it (and all the other xmas gifts) after they've been delivered and opened. i'm a bit of a stickler for maintaining the surprise of a gift.

some unrelated news: i got into the shop today after being away for a week and we'd had  a shipment of some absolutely adorable brooches and necklaces from arty smarty in ireland. i treated myself to a squirrel brooch (pic tomorrow), along with twenty - yes, twenty - balls of drops andes. i plan on eventually knitting up some of those pouffe cushions that seem to be so popular right now, but they'll have to wait until after the holidays and once the girlfriend and i have some more space for storing my items. as much as i love making gifts, i'm excited for the holiday rush to die down so that i can get back to making stuff for the shop. i have so many ideas running around in my head!

Friday, 15 November 2013

most recent drool-worthy pattern

gah, you guys...this is basically the sexiest thing, knitted or otherwise, i've seen since scrolling through coco de mer's lingerie catalogue.

it's called "oh bondage!", and it's one of the many delightful patterns currently being leaked all this month by alex tinsley and the rest of the team behind doomsday knits, which is definitely on my xmas/knitting wish list right now. i want to make most of the patterns i've seen so far, and they're being leaked one per day all this month in anticipation of the release date next month. you can pre-order the book now on ravelry or from the publisher (follow the link on the book title).

alex runs the knitting blog dull roar, which i've been following for ages. she also happens to have designed this super-sexy cowl (using malabrigo rasta! which i'm obsessed with. it's the best...). anyway, check it out. and check out the other designs.

maybe i'll start making these drool-worthy patterns into a regular thing. hmmm...

all of the bows, all of the bows

did you know i have an etsy shop? probably, considering you can see the etsy button over on the side. it's where you can find my knits and non-knits that i sell. you can also place a custom order with me! 

guess what? i'm having a sale! well, i've been having it for a few weeks already, and it's happening until dec. 25 (great for your holiday shopping). i did my first craft fair at the end of september (at the same time that i was finishing my master's and moving across london...it was a time). it was bar wotever's semi-annual queer fayre, their harvest edition. i had so much fun! it was a lovely afternoon, and we even sold a couple things. the girlfriend helped me run the booth. here's a terrible iphone photo of me and the booth:

anyway, our most popular items by far were the handknit bows. attached to a metal combination hair clip/pin on the back, you can wear them any number of ways, making them the perfect gift for butches, femmes, or anyone else on your holiday gift list! 

as a thank you for the fun day, i made the discount code QUEERFAYRE for the etsy shop, to be used on any of the bows for 25%, making them £7.50 each instead of the usual £10. the code expires on christmas day, but i'll be putting the shop on vacation mode on nov. 27 when i head back to the prairies for christmas. if you want to take advantage of the coupon code and get the bows in time for the holidays, place your order before then. any orders placed after the 27th will be shipped as soon as i return in mid-january. same goes for custom orders (at this point, only custom orders for bows placed in the next week will be ready in time for xmas).

so head on over to the queer essentials part of the shop and get your bows today!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

and we're back

i've decided to start up a blog again. every independent business how-to advice i've come across suggests keeping a blog, and i do actually enjoy the activity of it. it's just a matter of actually doing it regularly. now that i've finished my master's, i feel like i can try this again and do it properly! so here we are, back again on the blogging sphere. 

some fun facts about myself: 
-i'm the artistic director of curiouser theatre, a multinational devising theatre company that uses performance as a method for opening up dialogue around taboo issues. 
-i started sunflower knit because so many friends were asking if i could knit them things for money. and then at crafting events, random strangers wanted to know what my etsy shop was. so i finally caved and signed up. best decision ever. 
-i'm currently saving up money to do my 500-hour yoga training with the minded institute, which specializes in yoga for mental health. 
-my politics are queer in every sense of the word. 
-my pronoun is "they." yes, they is a singular pronoun. 
-i knit left-handed! 
-i don't use capital letters, but grammatical mistakes annoy me to no end. 
-i grew up on the canadian prairies, consider the east coast of canada my home, and currently live in the uk with my british partner. someday i'd like us to have a dog. i just need to convince her that getting a large dog is a good thing. 

 so there you have it. me in a nutshell. i expect to post about knitting, yoga, politics, living in the uk, travel, theatre, and mental health. hopefully i get better at taking photos over the course of this blog too. join me to see how things pan out!