Sunday, 30 March 2014

things are happening!

sort of! now that i've got your attention, i'd like to direct it to these:

here are the chunks of white cotton and lace swatches pre-alum mordanting…

look at all that steam.

and here they are in the dye pot! there wasn't a discernible difference pre- and post-mordanting. since there's still a stupid amount of snow everywhere, my natural dye foraging expeditions are on hold. so, i've placated myself with table scraps and things destined for the compost. the photo above is a dye pot filled with the extract of avocado skins and pits. i forgot to take a photo of the daffodil heads. mum grabbed a bunch a couple of weeks ago during the  annual cancercare funding drive, and they dried a slow and beautiful death. then i snipped their heads off and stuck them in a tupperware container until i was ready to dye with them.

i'm a bit obsessed with flowers right now. i think their hardy little heads are the perfect "fuck you" to this never-ending winter. i hunted down some seeds in the garage, and am currently attempting to grow some sunflowers (on purpose, rather than the accidentals that pop up around the yard courtesy of messy birds). i'll post progress as it happens. i'm hoping that by the time my birthday rolls around in a couple of weeks, there will be flowers poking their happy faces out of the dirt, even if it's just in a pot in the house. 

lace panels for my prototype undies. faun's eyes lace stitch in amazing flecked purple koigu.

in terms of what's on my needles right now, i've got a few things actively going (of course), but there are some projects i'm trying to focus on. i have the two shawls that are getting a fair amount of focus since they both have an early may deadline, but they should be finished long before that. i also have the lace panels to knit for the art show undies, and i knit a pair for myself last night so that i have a prototype before offloading them onto the rest of you. finally, i'm making more bow ties: 

remember these? i've been thinking about what sorts of projects i could add to the etsy shop/sell at local shops that would fit in price brackets similar to my own. these inevitably mean small, quick items that i can churn out in an hour or so, but that are still cute and functional and that are something you'd actually want to own. i love these bow ties/hair bows, and i enjoy making them. perfect option. i still love knitting bigger objects, but at this point a lot of those are now on a commission basis rather than a random whim. if it's not a gift or something i'm going to wear right now, it needs to be able to sell relatively quickly. so spending a lot of time and using stash yarn on knits i don't really care about and no one else specifically wants doesn't really make sense. it's funny that i have to schedule my knitting time so much as a freelancer, but i really do have to plan things out in detail. bows are fun though. so, expect to see them in an etsy update eventually.

i'll leave you with an image of these coconut bars. they're just about the easiest thing to make ever. my one suggestion: don't use buckwheat honey if you value your life. or your tastebuds. or your reputation as a person who inhabits the kitchen. in fact, don't use buckwheat honey in anything that has even a hint of a mild flavour. because buckwheat honey has a life and flavour all on its own, and it will win every single time. (dearest guinea pigs, fear not. i used clover honey in these.)

Friday, 28 March 2014

itchy feet continued

the itchy feet haven't gone away yet. if anything, they're stronger than ever. so are my hermit tendencies. my soul's got some tug-o'-war happening, it would seem. i think the snow is feeding into it, along with a few other things. i really just want to go get lost in some woods for a bit, preferably with a largish body of water nearby. but there are 3-4 feet of snow blanketing basically everything that's not a road or city sidewalk, so getting around without snowshoes isn't exactly easy. 

this particular snowbank is at eye height. there's no downward angle involved.
i'm having trouble balancing lately. which probably explains a lot of my rambles. to be honest, i find writing about it in this sort of (public) space strange and conflicting. i feel a bit like i shouldn't say so much, and that i should just post some project photos or something. but then i feel like it's therapeutic, and also that as a reader, sometimes finding out that someone else has tingly skin and wound muscles is really helpful and soothing. i think perhaps i'm just more sensitive and therefore more uncomfortable than usual. and that's not a bad thing, it just is. 

all of that being said, i've spent quality time with a number of really wonderful people lately, and went to a fabulous live radio recording last night (the junos week special from q on cbc, which you can listen to yourself here).

i've also returned to the kitchen, sort of. preserving and baking used to be major coping mechanisms for me in terms of staying happy, and i'm getting back to both. i've also returned to my bedroom, which is currently a bit of a disaster area. i'm trying to make it functional for me now, as an adult rather than a kid, so that it's a comfortable space for me to be in for the next few months. ultimately, i'd obviously like to get my own space back soon, but that will be dependent on how the summer pans out (i.e. if i can afford rent for longer than a month). 

as you can see, the ends obviously haven't been buried yet.

the shirt is done! it's not bad as a layering piece. i'll take actual photos once it's blocked, and it's a bit warmer. i love the back especially, but i'm not willing to freeze my butt/shoulder blades off completely for a few photos. and it's just not nearly as exciting with another shirt underneath it. sorry. 

cotton, linen (with some weird patterning going on from the camera, i think), and cotton lace.

in other crafting news, i found fabrics and lace trim in our stash that will work for one of my aprons! it'll probably end up being my kitchen apron, since it'll be nice-ish. the other one will be for painting/dyeing/other messy endeavours. my plan is to try making an ombre-esque design with different natural dyes on some white cotton that we have, then turn that into an apron. with really huge pockets. pockets are just necessary. they're great for storing things, like fidgety hands and random tools.

i'll leave you for now with my life mantra, which apparently has a word to describe it. tarantism. look it up. it's pretty great. i'd highly recommend it. it's really good for working emotions out of too-tight muscles.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

itchy feet

every so often, i get itchy feet. and by every so often, i mean pretty regularly. and by itchy feet, i mean wanderlust. i get an incredibly strong urge to pack my backpack, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, and go travelling. lately, that's also been paired with the completely opposite urge to stay where i am and hunker down. i've noticed a pattern that my longer periods of international travel (we're talking months here, not days or weeks) seem to coincide with some fairly traumatic experiences. i don't know what that's about. but while i desperately want to travel right now, that desire is also confined to very specific places - i either want to fly over to iceland to hike and camp for a few weeks, or hop a train here in canada and explore my own country some more. the thought of going anywhere else gives me anxiety at the moment.

mmmm, chutney.
i spent my childhood and a good portion of my youth going all over canada, and a solid chunk of the states as well. we were not the family to go on a yearly trip to some warmer clime or take a whirlwind european vacation. instead, we'd take about a month every summer and go camping, following the fly fishing conclaves and splitting our time between favourite old haunts and new locations. as a result, i'd been to every province except newfoundland before i was ten. newfoundland got knocked off the list for the first time in high school, and i've been trying to weasel my way up to the territories for years now. i love canada. not in the nationalistic uncomfortable sense (unless i'm in another country, then my very awkward canadian identity kicks in…or if there's a hockey game on). i have massive issues with our governing structures, with the way our environment is being destroyed in the name of big business, with the very real continued discrimination against our First Nations peoples as well as new immigrants (hey white folks, you're also technically immigrants, so stop being racist jerks under the guise of some twisted sense of national identity). but i love the kindness you find in every corner of this country. the amazing food. the huge empty spaces. the incredible cultures that share the land. and the fact that a place so vast and diverse can still feel like home when it comes down to it. i would love nothing more right now than to hop on a train and cross the country a couple of times. i'd visit loved ones, eat delicious things, knit a lot, and maybe get a tattoo or three. money's an issue, of course. it's always an issue. maybe someday it won't be. but right now, i have to not be completely impulsive.

all of the chutney.
luckily, there are a bunch of fun things happening around the city. the junos are here, and while this year's broadcast makes my blood boil thanks to the inclusion of a certain "artist" famous for a certain anti-consent song, i do love celebrating canadian music. there are some concerts and recordings to check out, and friends to catch up with. i've been doing that lately too. it's a full house here right now, which means my cabin fever is amped to about one hundred percent. perfect time to check out art exhibits and have food dates with lovelies outside of my house. and, to be fair, staying in every once in a while isn't terrible if you have a case of mangoes to make into chutney. hopefully this batch doesn't stash a bonus ingredient of dog fur. i don't know how that stuff manages to get into absolutely everything, but it does. if i could choose, i'd replace the possible dog fur with extra cinnamon. cinnamon is a much nicer bonus ingredient.

the wee flecks are cinnamon. i think.
p.s. that top i posted about last time is nearly done. photo shoot to come soon, although i'm crossing my fingers that we get a warm spell when i do it. loose summer tops and sub-zero temperatures are not the best lovers.

photo and general loveliness from
p.p.s. i want to make an apron. aprons, in case you didn't know, are one of my guilty pleasures. i think they're the perfect mix of sexy and functional. i don't know why, but i have this ridiculous desire to sew an apron with big pockets. maybe two…one for the kitchen, one for non-food-related projects. i have a bunch of fat quarters that would make fabulous pockets. fabric stash, here i come.

p.p.p.s. i know i have undies to make, and i'm up to my eyeballs in emails lately for curiouser theatre. plus next week i have an actual 9-5 job to attend (it's theatre- and kid-related, so it's the one kind of 9-5 job i enjoy). itchy feet will have to wait. but honestly, i am doing a lot of work amid the hours of knitting and dreaming.

one more pic of the chutney. i feel like they need little superhero capes in this one.

Friday, 21 March 2014

winner, winner, chicken (tofurken?) dinner

the undies contest is officially over, which means i have winners to announce! but first, some other things. because it's my blog, and i can blather on if i want. you can skip down to the bottom if you're impatient, of course.

winnipeg's version of spring. the ground cover is about three feet of snow everywhere.

it's a full house here again. my little brother has come back home for a bit, and the dog is predictably very excited about having everyone in one place again. it soothes her herding urges, i think. there have been a number of changes in my life recently, and i'm hoping that they all work out at least somewhat positively. one good thing is that i'll be working at spring break camp at my old theatre school. definitely not a terrible way to spend a week. i love that place. i've also been catching up with a bunch of old friends, and there are many more catch-up dates in the near future, so that's pretty fabulous. 

a pile of rough silk.
speaking of spring break, it's now officially spring. the equinox was yesterday. i even saw a goose! someone should tell the 12-foot piles of snow that their job is done. i got it into my head that i wanted to knit a quick top for the camp (why? because i need random things to justify a new project...although i'm a bit in love with a friend's mentality that you shouldn't need an excuse to do something nice for yourself). i had five skeins of tweedy silk in my stash that were destined for a cardigan, but then i was reminded by google that a) silk is a pain in the ass to care for and b) you need to keep the washing to a minimum because water weakens the silk fibre and ruins the structure. not exactly a great plan for a cardigan, especially if it's going to be worn regularly-ish. so i cast on this top instead. it's coming along pretty well, considering it's a light fingering weight. i figure if i can get to the armholes by the end of the weekend, i'll be on schedule for finishing it by the end of the month. i didn't like the eyelets in the original design, so i'm working an arrow lace stitch instead. love the back though. oh, layers. 

finally, it's time to announce the winning lace design, and the winning voter! it looks like the faun's eye stitch will be the lace featured in the upcoming undies. i'll post photos as they get made, of course. runners' up included german honeycomb stitch and wheat in the wind, so they will likely make an appearance at some point as well. and congratulations to cathy! you've won the random draw. there's an email in your inbox with questions for your undies design. they should be ready in the next couple of weeks! and everyone else, fear not. if you'd like your own pair of undies, let me get these puppies finished (that way i'll have an accurate idea of how much time they take to make), and then i'll be posting an etsy update with a custom order button. you can think of your ideal design in the meantime.

your winning stitch. i actually was not expecting this one at all. excited to see how the undies turn out!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

casting on

well, now that the undies contest is up and running, i've been able to return to other projects. i also finally made my way back to wolseley wool to grab lace tip needles and the contrasting colour for another gramps cardigan (hurrah for prepaid gift cards). add to that the fact that spring is a time of birthdays around here and you have a whole lot of casting on going on.

first up, the gramps cardigan. i'm using remnants from the shrug i finished last month as the main colour, since i had two skeins left over and sitting in my stash. the contrasting yarn is cascade 220 in a bright blue. the colours are pretty great together, and baby sweaters are always a fun knit. every wee one deserves their own old man cardigan, in my opinion.

next up, mumsy's shawl. i'm still keeping the pattern a secret on the off chance that she looks at the blog, but it's growing quickly and coming along pretty well, i think. i'll have to knit it on and off as a sneaky knit. it's got short rows, so you know i love it. although i could do without all the ends to bury...

this was version 1.0. the pattern is stephen west's westward, but my lefty knitting makes it eastward.
speaking of sneaky knits, my dad's birthday gift is finished and blocking. i'll post a photo of it once it's dry, but it's a redo of a hat i knit him for xmas a couple of years ago. the hat was lovely, but it was knit on too-small needles, and dad's head is larger than average to begin with. i got the same yarn, upped my needles to one size above gauge, then knit a new hat. the fabric is obviously not as dense, and the cables aren't as tight, but it still looks pretty good. it's a dad kind of hat. 

finally, here's a pic of my moon & stars shawl, alongside the infamous lace tips. i'm using the larger needles on the baby cardigan at the moment, so it's going to have to snooze for a bit. i suspect i'll be back at it within the week though. projects are whipping off my needles lately. probably because i just knit all day long. and occasionally venture out for meetings and artsy dates. 

don't forget that the undies contest runs until 11:59pm central time on march 20! check out my last blog post for rules and details, and get entering!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

ready, set, go!

as you saw in my last post, i'm hosting a contest over the next week to help me decide what lace designs will make it into undies i'm making for an arts show next month. there are ten lace swatches to choose from, all of which can be seen in lovely detail in this album on my facebook page. take a peek and decide on your favourite! 

one of your ten contestants.

the contest begins today and will end on march 20 at 11:59pm, central time. after that point, i'll be choosing a winner and announcing them, as well as revealing which designs will be featured in the undies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

rules and terms and conditions and such:
-i reserve the right to cancel this contest at any point. i likely won't, but just in case, y'know, i can.
-there will be one randomly drawn winner. how can you trust that it will be random? because i'm using rafflecopter and it actually allows for that sort of thing. the winner will be announced here, on the facebook page, and on my twitter feed (first name only, of course).
-the prize is one pair of custom-made undies, brief-style, with or without lace panels. i can't do y-fronts, sadly. that involves way more skill than i have at the ready to put into them. if you win, i'll be getting in touch with you via email, and will get your measurements that way. if you're in winnipeg, we'll arrange a meet-up. otherwise, i'll be mailing them to you. if you're outside canada and want them tracked on their journey, you'll be responsible for the extra shipping charges. i'll cover basic ones.
-the prize can't be substituted. if you win and you really don't want a pair of custom undies, ask a friend who's having a bad day if they would like them. or your significant other. or your mom. if that's not too weird.
-please only vote once on your favourite. the whole purpose of this thing is so that i have an idea of what the most popular design(s) are, not that people try to up their votes by choosing every single swatch.
-you can only vote once on the designs, but you can increase your chances of winning by tweeting about the contest, liking the facebook page, and following me on twitter*. each of these will give you one extra ballot. sweet!
-if you don't win, that's too bad. i'll probably do something like this again. please be gracious, and be nice to me and to whoever does win. being a sore loser sucks for everyone. online abuse is still abuse.

*ahem, a bit of a heads up about following me on twitter. it's my business-y account, and a lot of work that i do is related to gender inequality (outside the binary) and sexual health. i also co-edit a journal about sexuality. so if that kind of stuff offends you, or makes you uncomfortable, well, i have an opinion about that. but also, i want to respect your boundaries (woot, consent!). therefore, a friendly heads up that perhaps following me on twitter is not the best option for you. there are other ways to get extra ballots. and i don't particularly want a bunch of followers who will either a) drop off as soon as the contest is over or b) stay on and harass me every time i post something about sexual health, or sex work, or porn, or whatever. save us both the drama and just like the facebook page instead. that's usually safe for work.

p.s. if you're wondering what yarn was used for the swatches, it's tanis fiber arts' purple label cashmere sock in "ballet slipper." i can't gush enough about this yarn. 70% merino, 20% cashmere, and 10% nylon (because it's a sock yarn). it's like wearing a cloud next to your skin. a soft, scrumptious, doesn't-make-you-itch-like-crazy cloud. also, in my experience, tanis is impressively quick at getting orders out in the mail.

my lovely assistant. she's getting braver with the camera. maybe because i'm actually holding it.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

plumage, hugs for feet, and an undies contest

i finished off more wips! first up is my veer hat that i posted a photo of last time. it's turned out really well, and is a cute snug-fitting hat that's ready just in time for the thaw that's (sort of) happening. fingers crossed that the thaw lasts…

not pictured is my dog, who only stuck around for a couple of shots because the shutter click scared her.

peacock feathers are my absolute favourite (you should see the tattoo i have planned with them…). i don't normally do colourwork, so this was the perfect project to work on my stranded knitting skills. colourwork all the way through, but a small enough project that it wasn't totally overwhelming.

definitely dog hair on the socks already. a hazard of companionship.

then there are these adorable yoga socks. i made them out of one of my favourite sock yarns, socktopus sokkusu original. unfortunately, the company is now defunct, but the dyer for socktopus has continued putting out more yarn on what i believe are the same bases. these colours are "midsomer" and "slice of orange", both of which are just delicious in real life. yoga socks are a favourite sunflower knit item - they give you toasty toes during your practice/studio time while still allowing your toes and heels to grip the floor. grounding and cozy at the same time? yes, please! this pair is a selfish knit (on my frozen toes, hence all the blood flow trying to heat them back up). full disclosure, it took me ages to decide to share this pic. i'm really self-conscious about my feet. i'm working on it. someday maybe i'll like them on a regular basis. probably after they've been inked…

finally, here are some lace swatches. why lace swatches, you ask? because i'm making undies! let me explain: i've been asked to design undies for an art show next month, and me being me, they had to have some sort of knitting element. but i don't really do lace undies. it's just weird. why would you want knitted undies when you could just have comfy cotton fabric or sexy black lace that isn't going to potentially stretch out of shape? also, knitting full pairs of undies would take forever, meaning the likelihood of them selling would be even lower. so, sewn undies from scraps of fabric or upcycled clothes was the next option. but that's kind of boring. the solution? sewn undies with handknit lace panels!

my goal is to get three pairs ready for the show. whatever doesn't sell there will end up in the etsy shop. i'm knitting up swatches of lace patterns to decide what will actually go into the undies right now, and this means i can conveniently get those swatches of tanis fiber arts' purple label fingering ready for the dye pot ahead of time. and they'll be pretty ones! the yarn is really luscious thanks to the blend of merino and cashmere, and the swatches are super soft and delicious. i kind of wish i had either more skeins in varying colours, or a neutral base that i could easily overdye, because it really is the perfect yarn for adding into undies that are going near your sensitive bits (hips, people, hips!). i'll make one pair with the pink as is, i'm sure there's some fabric in our stash that will work. if they sell well, maybe i'll make them into a regular item! and invest in a neutral skein that can be overdyed easily.

on that note, i'm hosting a contest of sorts to celebrate/use the interwebs to help me make my design decisions. after i complete all the swatches, i'll be posting them on my facebook page in an album. i'm still sorting out the platform for voting (any suggestions?), but after 7 days (i.e. a week after the contest opens), i'll randomly draw a name from everyone who voted. that winner will get a custom-made pair of undies! and don't worry if you don't like lace - we can sort out something else.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


wow, it's been a while since i've made a blog post. and even longer since it wasn't a drool-worthy. whoops! sorry about that. in my defence, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy for curiouser theatre in terms of grants and paperwork. when you have actual deadlines with thousands of dollars of grant money on the line, photography kind of takes a back seat. i've also been busy editing articles for GUSH! and working with the nutrition council in preparation for stone soup next week. but now i'm back! and i've done a lot of crafting in the last little while too, which i'm very happy to share with you all now. 

first up, some fo's. 

i finished pam allen's honey shrug a while ago. it's kind of hilarious when it's not being worn, because it's legitimately just a pair of sleeves. i started it after i got sidetracked on my moon & stars shawl. i need lace tip needles to deal with the star panels, and i don't have the right size, of course. eventually, i will get back to wolseley wool. in the meantime, i've been working on other things. this one was made with exactly two skeins of malabrigo arroyo in glitter.

another one of my long-queued/stashed projects was the high plains drifter shawl by kirsten hipsky. i bought malabrigo sock in candombe, indiecita, and ochre for it while i was still working at nest, in north london. i liked the colour shift, and these colourways looked just like a peacock feather to me. 

i have loads left over from each skein, which is rather convenient. hexipuffs have already been made. the candombe and ochre are currently being used for malia mather's veer hat (another selfish knit, pictured above), and then the ochre and indiecita will be used in another shawl for mum's birthday gift (i won't say the design yet, as it's meant to be a surprise). and i'll be using more of the candombe in a pair of handshoes for warmer weather days. whenever those decide to surface. maybe in june? seriously, so over this cold snap. it was in the -50s over the weekend. -50 in march! 

speaking of my moon & stars shawl, the top skein there is tanis fiber arts' blue cosmic label fingering in shadow, which is what the shawl is being knit out of. i'm so excited to continue with it. i'm in love with the yarn. i'm also in love with the splattery skein, which is madelinetosh's dk twist in cotopaxi. i'll be using it for the quills arrow shawl eventually. i'm less in love with the pink skein, which is another of tfa's yarns, purple label fingering in ballet slipper. it's too pale for my liking. but i have a plan to use it as the contrasting colour in malia mather's voetpad shawl, with a light grey alpaca as the main. and a hexipuff, of course. then i'll swatch up a few bits and play with over-dyeing the rest using natural dyes. 

during festival du voyageur, there was a natural textile dyeing workshop with kelly ruth. it was so fun! and fascinating. hence my current obsession with dyeing things. i've got a huge piece of white cotton that i'll be testing different things on. apparently avocado skins and pits result in a pinkish rose colour. i'm kind of stuck with kitchen scraps until the snow clears and i can go foraging. once that happens, i'll be looking for all sorts of deadfall! these pieces of silk were dyed at the workshop with logwood (the amazing deep purple - i'll have to order some when i have money again, since it's not indigenous to northern climates, which is where i tend to spend my time), madder root, black walnut, carrot tops, and osage. 

sooooo out of focus. le sigh. still working on those photography skills.
also, do you like my rose garland? the mrs. sent me roses for valentine's day (ah, the wonders of the internet these days), and they dried beautifully. i had to soak the stems again for quite a few hours to get them soft enough to stab with a needle and thread, but otherwise it was a really simple project. they're living out in the porch still. i think they look nice against the white stucco. plus if they shed a little out there, it's not a big deal.

another fun little art project on my docket - i've just been asked to design undies for an art show! i have no idea what they'll be at this point, or whether i'll sew or knit some, but i suspect that given my timeline, they'll be sewn. if you could have a custom pair of undies, what would you want? let me know and maybe i can make it happen! i have the most hilarious freelance career sometimes.