Friday, December 31, 2010

Mom's Mat, or: How Little Dogs Claim Everything as Their Own

Both my parents have been retired for a few years, and so, they've had a while to get used to the time they have at home. Not only that: their year has been organized into seasons:
  • January to March: Holiday in the Philippines to escape the winter.
  • April to May: Mornings walking the track in the leisure centre, afternoons pottering around the house.
  • June to October: Mornings walking in the park, afternoons cooking and gardening for Mom, working on cars in the garage for Dad.
  • November and December: Home renovation for Dad, general cleaning insanity for Mom.
I know: why on Earth would you start tearing down walls in your house in November? I'm not entirely sure. I know the house needs work, and I think my dad prefers to do it in the winter because it's too cold to be out working on cars then. And it seems to keep him on time: he usually gets a bunch of it done just in time for the hundreds of holiday visitors to their house.

Anyway, Dad's really good at it. He's ripped down drywall, re-insulated the walls and now the house is much warmer (at least, the parts he has finished are) and the floors are nicely done. And I have to hand it to him: his finish is really nice. No seams, all level, no streaky paint. Nice.

Now that they've finished re-doing their bedroom, the carpet is gone and has been replaced with laminate. My mom is one of these people who is perpetually cold, so I decided that it would be nice to make her a mat for the floor on her side of the bed, so that she could step out onto something warm before she puts her slippers on.

I dithered about what kind of yarn to use for it, and settled on wool. At last year's Olds Fibre Festival, I picked up four skeins of some metal grey wool from one of the vendors. They were a good price, about $4.30 a skein, but a bit coarse for next-to-skin wear. I was a little stumped about what to use them for, but they were perfect for this project: sturdy and solid, unlikely to pill, yet comfy.

I worked it in crochet basketweave, which was perfect for this yarn, a kind of DK weight wool. It was a good, mindless project, but I have to admit: it got reeeaallyy boring towards the end. How boring? Well, here's a list of things I found to do instead of working on this mat:
  • cleaning out my bookmarked favourites and organizing my queue on Ravelry
  • cleaning my mom's kitchen
  • washing the dishes
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • playing fetch with an unresponsive dog named Rascal
I did want to get it finished before we left to go back to our own place, so eventually, I buckled down and got the main part of the mat done, then worked a border of half double crochet stitches three rows deep on all sides. Last night, I washed it in shampoo and conditioner, and it's come out nice and soft.

And guess who I found checking it out after I lifted it to vacuum the floor?

Typical.

I'm happy with it, and Mom was too. It's a little wonky because my tension changed about halfway through the project (I finally started to relax, I guess). I don't think she realized I was going to give it to her until I finished it. And I got it just in time, since we're leaving tomorrow. It was a nice, easy project, but yeah... kinda boring.

So, last night, I cast on for Alisa Daly's Red Emperor Shawl with the Rocky Mountain Sundance Sock I bought last spring in Canmore. Beautiful lace, intricate and delicate...

... and fricking difficult after an easy project like that mat. I've been counting and re-counting stitches for hours now. Who knew it was so hard to count to six?

It's probably just as well I'm doing a more difficult project. I need to get the ol' brain back into gear in time to go back to work. A week and a half off has made it a little weak and flabbby...

..among other things. Ahem. The diet starts next week!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Trouble with Planning

I'm feeling a little nervous as I write this, because I know that the person who is in this blog post is a regular reader, and well... I'm worried about authenticity, like she might call me on any exaggerations, because she was THERE.

Not that I lie in these blog posts. Nope. Never. I just like a good story. You know?

Anyway, let's start from the very beginning... a very good place to start... (Sound of Music was on last night. Sorry. I can't help it.)

A couple of weeks ago, whilst planning our annual Christmas trip home, I was pondering a visit to one of the yarn shops there. I thought to myself, Aw man, I don't wanna put the hubby through that again. And I want to have time to enjoy myself there. How am I gonna do that?

That's when I thought of Linette.

Linette lives in my hometown, and started out as a friend of a friend, until I found out she could knit. AND crochet. Whoa.

Later on, I found out that she is a regular reader of my blog, and had just the right amount of empathy for both my adventures and misadventures in the yarn world. Double whoa.

So, I thought, Yes, she's it. She's the one.

I found her on facebook one evening, and talked her into meeting for coffee, and maybe a wander through a yarn shop or two.

Ok, so I didn't talk her into it. I nudged, she dove at the idea, and I dove in straight after. Ahh... a kindered spirit.

We arrived at my folks' house a few days ago, and the excitement of the upcoming day was almost too much. That sounds weird, I know, but besides being able to shop for yarn with another fibre artist (which was a great thing, in and of itself), I was also grateful to be actually meeting up with someone in Winnipeg. As the years have passed, I've drifted apart from my old school friends. I've been living away from my hometown for over ten years now... we've all grown up, found our own interests, started families, made new friends... and well, I knew that all my old school friends were doing their own thing, and this being the holiday season, trying to arrange time with them to hang out was going to be impossible. It's a lonely feeling, but it happens. Add to the fact that practically none of them have any interest in knitting, and well, that makes for some awkward conversations.

Anyway, I decided that, if I was going to have the somewhat rare privilege of going to a yarn shop, I might as well be prepared. So, a couple of days ago, I decided to get organized and start going through my stash and deciding what I could make with it, and therefore, prioritize my purchases according to the things I most wanted to make. That was NOT easy because a) I have a LOT of yarn at home, and b) it's all at MY house. This required a lot of poking around in my memory, trying to remember what I had sitting around at home.

After all that organization, I picked up my phone and made my wishlist. This is what I wrote:
  • 2000 metres of DK yarn for Isobel Skirt
  • 1200 - 1500 metres of DK yarn for Musetta
  • any fingering weight yarn in subtle variegated tones - at least 700 metres - for shawls
  • 1500 metres of DK yarn for Brunello
Hooray for organization. I was focused. I was ready. I was going to have a purpose in the yarn shop.

So, I met with Linette yesterday afternoon. We enjoyed a couple of hours of knitting (well, I had a crochet project, but you know what I mean), and chatting about all things handmade... sewing, quilting, the difficulty of twisted stitches, lace, cables, gift-making... all sorts of stuff. She told me about some ingenious mittens with a special thumb to help you use your phone in the cold, and vintage dishcloths (which are now queued, by the way). It was fun! Then, we got on a bus and went to Wolseley Wool.

Chuckle.

Sooooo... about that plan...

I'd like to say we entered a vortex, and time and space swirled around us, and I lost my bearings. I'd like to say I was forced into a room and told that, under so circumstances, was a plan allowed in the shop. I could say that I didn't find one single skein of yarn interesting.

But Linette's going to keep me honest.

So, really, what happened was: I got a little giddy. I got lost. I had to touch everything. Twice. Maybe thrice.

Did I find any DK weight yarn for any of the projects? Did I buy any fingering weight yarn for any of the shawls I have queued? Did I at least purchase something from the bargain bin?

I can't take all this interrogation.

No, I didn't. Ok? I didn't follow the plan at all.

That's not to say I didn't try. I kept taking out my phone, looking at the list, trying to focus my eyes on the text.

But, but, but... there was all this beautiful worsted weight yarn. Good price. Pretty colours. No plan. Me Adriene. You yarn. Hey, shop man. Take credit card. Give me yarn. Ug.

After I paid, I texted the hubby. Asked him to pick me up. Sat and waited with Linette as she waited for her ride. Got restless. Decided to look at the needles. And, lo and behold, there was a circular needle of the mystical size between US size 10.75 and US size 11. Only available in Europe. Or so I thought.

Hey, shop man. Credit card. Needles. Mine.

So, here I sit with four skeins of Cascade in beautiful heathered blue. 880 yards. For what? Not sure yet.

And I have a set of 7.5mm bamboo circular needles. THOSE babies are going to be useful. I've needed that size more than once, and it has been impossible to find them in Canada. (I'm trying to sound convincing here.)

It wasn't a total bust. I didn't break the bank. I didn't fill the car with bags and bags of yarn with no purpose.

But, it would have been nice to have been one of those people who could follow a yarn purchase plan. Do those people even exist?

Ah well. It could have been worse. I could have made up some fantastical story about being organized, purposeful, efficient.

That's what comes of meeting up with people who read your blog. You just can't lie. It's bad karma. You don't want bad knitting karma. You never know what might happen to you: tangled yarn skeins, dropped stitches, tension problems... *shudder*...

... but we won't talk about the shoe shopping I did today...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

How to Make a Bowtie For Your Dog

I'm sitting in the bedroom at my parents' house, awaiting the hordes of people who will be arriving shortly to partake in the feast that is cooking in the kitchen. I've been cleaning and organizing, but generally trying not to eat too much and to get outside for fresh air and walks with my doggie as much as possible.

Rascal has a Santa suit, which I think is darn cute, but he is not so thrilled about it, as you can see.

Add the fact that my parents' house is really warm most of the time, and it's just not a good time for the little wolf.

So, this year, I decided to get out some red yarn and make him a bowtie to wear on Christmas Day. And, he doesn't seem to mind it at all. In fact, he doesn't even know he's wearing it. It also happens to go well with the tuxedo he wears all year round.

Here's how I made it (images are from the TLC Home Website):

1) With 5mm (size 8) dpns, or with a 5mm hook, make an i-cord that is long enough to pass over your dog's head when the ends are joined. Cut the working yarn and use a darning needle to pass it through the live loops. I prefer to make i-cords using a crochet hook, as seen here. Sew the ends together to make a circle that will go over your dog's head.

2) With 5mm (size 8) needles, cast on 15 stitches. Knit a rectangle that is 3 inches long, ending with a RS row. Turn, and purl the first 8 stitches. With the needles still in the work, fold the rectangle with the right sides together and the needles at the top, with the points facing right.

3) Use a third needle to perform a three-needle bind-off. Cut the working yarn with an 8-inch tail.
4) Use a darning needle and the tail and sew up the long side using a mattress stitch, first turning the work right-side out before you start.



5) Seam the other end using a horizontal seam for stockinette stitch.

6) Using your 5mm needles, cast on a 7 stitches for a new rectangle. Knit a skinny rectangle, about 2 inches in length, or long enough to wrap around the centre of the first rectangle. This is the centre "knot" for the bowtie. Bind off the end leaving another 8 inch tail.

7) Wrap this skinny rectangle around the centre of the first rectangle, pinching the centre to create a crease. Use a darning needle to sew the ends together with the tail. Do not trim the tail.

8) Use the tail to sew the bow to the i-cord. You may need to flatten the i-cord a bit and sew each edge to the tie to keep it from being floppy.

9) Put it on your dog and take lots of pictures of him being cute.

I know I really shouldn't be dressing my dog... but come on!

Have a Happy Holiday season!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ok, Enough Already

I've been working away on Kate Jackson's November Ruffle Wrap for a few weeks here, and it's been a pretty decent project, but I'm SO tired of it now. It's been a comedy of errors... but my sense of humour about this is waning right about now.

Firstly, I didn't buy the right kind of yarn for it. I bought the yarn on a spur of the moment shopping trip, and really didn't know what I should have been getting. It was supposed to be made with a strand of worsted and a strand of DK weight, but I ended up buying just the worsted weight and tried to get gauge using bigger needles.

The trouble is, the only needles big enough were part of my Denise Interchangeable set.

I have a love/hate/hate relationship with my Denise needles. They are, in theory, a great set of needles where you can change the sizes according to the gauge required, thus eliminating the need to buy many sets of circular needles of different sizes. Theory, good. Practice, frickin' annoying.

The cords and needles are attached to one another with a mechanism that locks them into place with a twist. That means that you just twist them on, and bam, you've got your circular needle at whatever length you want. The problem is, as easy as it is to join them together, it is just as easy for them to come apart, usually in the middle of a long stretch of stitches. This event is usually accompanied by a long string of cursing as you watch your work tumble off. I know someone who used them for lacework... that girl is a saint, if you ask me (dkzack, that's you!).

So, time and time again, the work fell off my needles, and time and time again, I put the stitches back on.

I made it to the edge and started working on the ruffle section. This is where logic (stupid logic!) failed me. I just did not calculate the amount of yarn required properly, and ended up with a slightly shorter ruffle - four inches instead of five. I thought, Meh. It looks good. I'll just cast off now.

Aaaaaand ran out of yarn six inches away from the end.

So, the rest of my evening has been spent ripping out stitches and placing them back on my annoying Denise needles. At least I'll have a bit more yarn to make a stretchier bind off. I considered pulling them all back to the stockinette section and trying to make another inch of ruffle, but you know what?

Sometimes, you just have to know when enough's enough.

Sigh for now...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spinnin' Around

I'm spinnin' around, move out of my way...
- Kylie Minogue
Note: This post has nothing to do with hotpants, especially those worn by Kylie in her video.

About a month ago, my knitting buddy and fellow yarnaholic, Tara, were out for coffee one evening, and we got onto the topic of yarn (what else?), and spinning. She mentioned that there was a monthly spindle class at Make One Yarns in Calgary. "Would you go with me?" she asked?

Need she ask?

Fast forward to yesterday, when two incredibly excited ladies climbed into a jeep and drove into the city for our first spindle class. I was so relieved to be getting away for the day, after a hectic week at work. In truth, I'd almost forgotten about the class, but while we drove, I just felt happier and happier... but also a bit nervous. What if I couldn't do it? What if I got relegated to the dunce corner? What if I did something weird and accidentally took somebody's eye out? How would I explain that to the police?

For those who don't know, a spindle is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to spin fibre into yarn. We mostly think of spinning wool into yarn, but you can spin cotton, silk, flax (which, I never want to do - it sounds like torture on your fingers), alpaca fleece, llama fleece, qiviut, even cat and dog hair! They are basically comprised of a stick with a whorl at one end, and it spins in like a top to turn drafted fibres into a strand of yarn.

I've been interested in spindles ever since I bought one from this shop about a year ago. I looked at it and thought, "How hard could it be?"

I swear, that's going to be my epitaph.

I did a bit of research and watched a couple of videos. When my spindle finally arrived, I took it out, tried it once, and promptly put it away. It was not a successful venture... maybe I just wasn't going to be able to do it.

Nonsense. I said to myself. I just need to learn a bit more.

The next thing I did was purchase Abby Franquemont's book Respect the Spindle. Abby has spun with spindles since she was a little girl in the Andes. That knowledge alone heartened me: This is part of everyday life where she grew up, I thought to myself. That means, it can become part of my everyday life, too. I read the book end to end.

But I still didn't pick up my spindle again.

I needed more. I needed to be around people who were all doing it at the same time.

When we arrived at Make One yesterday, we wandered around the store a bit first, both of us savouring the novelty of having several hours to enjoy the store, without having to try the patience of husbands waiting for us. We strolled around, picking up several skeins, squeezing them, looking at the labels... I made several rounds around the store: first round to look at anything that immediately caught my attention, my brain spinning with possibilities, second round to let my eyes wander and catch onto anything I missed the first time, third round to start narrowing my choices down.

During each round, I averted my eyes from the spinning section. I'm not sure why. Maybe I didn't want to get too excited about it, in case I couldn't do it. Maybe I was thinking of the fibre I already had at home and figured I may as well use that up first.

At 1:00pm, I dashed outside to feed the car meter (did you know you can pay for the meter in Calgary with your phone?) and then joined the others seated on chairs and sofas at the front of the shop.

The next two hours went by in a flash. I reveled in the conversation, not really talking, but just listening to what everyone was saying. We noted each other's knitted creations - I wore my Purple Gabled Hoodie, another had on orange handknit socks, and I found a purple thrummed mitten outside that I knew for sure belonged to someone in the shop. It was interesting to hear the chatter: the frustrations of learning something for the first time. And it was funny to see how quickly we were distracted by people coming into the store: a lady with handdyed roving to sell, another with a felted bag from Starbucks that would make a perfect project bag, another with a beginner's wheel. I felt like I was part of something traditional and aged - a group of people all gathered to spin, and who all had a great respect for the process of textile making.

And, of course, who loved to spend money on the stuff.

I'm happy to say that I made pretty good progress, and managed to make a nice, fine yarn sample. Not too bad, I think.

I also walked a way with a few goodies.

Two beautiful skeins of fingering weight yarn.

A braid of Blue Faced Leicester roving to spin with.

And a bag of Merino and silk blend roving to try as well.

We left at about 3:00pm, chatting and laughing and eating popcorn all the way. It was a really great day. I felt really, really happy. I haven't felt that happy since my trip to Olds Fibre Festival last summer. I felt like I'd had a really good visit with old friends.

I slept really well last night, and dreamed about all the possibilities my spindle will afford. I really can't wait to start again.

Oh, and I also dreamed that I was swimming with sea lions. I thought that they smelled like dogs. And I woke up and found Rascal all snuggled up against me in bed.

Excellent. Yes, excellent.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Alright, if I have to give them away - how about a Giveaway?

It has suddenly dawned on me how close we are to the Christmas season. Seriously, only today did I realize that the annual socials, dinner parties and get-togethers are quickly approaching. Whoa. Where did the time go? And where did I put all those gifts I've been stashing all year???

Last night, I got to go over to a friend's house where a bunch of us got together to make handmade Christmas cards. It was a little session led by another friend's mom who brought all sorts of supplies and cool tools for us to make our cards with.

I've never really been one for papercrafts. Honestly, I never really saw the attraction. When I moved back to Canada from the UK four years ago, I saw all these scrapbooking shops and scrapbooking supplies and totally missed the point. "So, you cut and stick and put bits of paper together to decorate photos and albums. Why would I do that?"

When I started working at Michaels, I started to see where some of the joy might come from. Part of my job at Michaels was to demonstrate products, and, well, let's face it, that's FUN. And many of those tools were things that punch, cut, glue and press paper. How do I cut thee, piece of paper? Let me count the ways...

Still, I wasn't lining up at the scrapbooking shops to stock up on supplies.

Last night, it finally hit me.

Paper is FUN.

And what's more fun that paper? Stamps.

And what's more fun that stamps? GLITTER. Oh yeah, baby.

I still don't think I'll ever be a scrapbooker, but I did like the look of the cards I made last night. And, you know, I guess I could give them away. If I really, really, really liked that person. And if I knew that person really, really, really appreciated it.

Not all of these are greeting cards. This one is kind of a gift-holder, made with pieces of cardstock that are tied together to hold a couple of candycanes, or a piece of homebaked biscotti (if I made biscotti). Oh... I just thought of something: it could hold a skein of Louet Gems Fingering Weight Yarn. That'd totally work.

Well, it would for me, anyway.

Anyway, I made four of those gift-holders, and four of the black and white snowflake cards, and only one of the wreath cards, because it was getting late, and it doesn't do to fall asleep around double-sided tape and glitter.

So, I was thinking - if you'd like me to send you one of these cards, go ahead and leave me a comment and some way of getting in touch with you (website, Ravelry name, or emailaddress at whatever dot com). If I get more than a few comments, I'll randomly select four people and send them off. Tell me which one you'd like and if I choose you, I'll send it to you. Oh, and I can write a greeting in it, but if you'd rather I leave it blank, do let me know. I know what it's like to covet pretty stationery.

And well, if I don't get any comments, that's ok, too. (blink blink)

Cheers, and here's hoping I hear from you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Trouble with Being a Yarn Tourist

Every year, my husband and I debate the pros and cons of escaping the prairie winter for the California sunshine. We've been to L.A. twice and to San Francisco once in the deep winter of January or February, and have enjoyed it immensely. We are very laid back tourists - no need to rush around or get stuck in themeparks. We love exploring the markets and discovering the green oases of the city. This year, we've taken the plunge again and have booked three nights in a great hotel in L.A., where we stayed last year.

Whenever I travel, I always try to take advantage of the opportunity to do a bit of shopping, and of course, more specifically, yarn shopping. Being in a small town with no local yarn shop means that I'm practically salivating at the thought of going to a city. I try to be prepared... research the shops, finding out what they carry, comparing that yarn to the projects I'd like to attempt... That might seem a little anal, but I think it's important to make the most of the time you've got in a shop, especially when you're dragging someone around with you who is not exactly titillated by the prospect of wandering around and around the shop with you.

This time, I'd like to try to stop in at Wildfiber in Santa Monica. This is purely for souvenir yarn - something special that I can't get in Canada, hopefully middle-of-the-road pricing, enough for a shawl or scarf, and small enough to fit into my luggage. The reviews of the shop are half and half, but I'm not going to let that deter me. The pictures of the store selection are enough for me to want to give it a shot.

But here's the problem: That trip is not until the middle of January. And there are other temptations on the horizon.

For one: This Saturday, I'm going with a friend into Calgary to take part in my first ever spindle class at Make One Yarn Studio. And well... there will be lots of fibre to admire and, *cough* purchase. I haven't been there for a while now, and I know that their selection has changed. I could budget a small amount for... incidentals...

And secondly: I'm going home to Winnipeg for the Christmas holidays. And what's in Winnipeg? Ram Wools, that's what. It's a great store with a very, VERY tempting sale section at the back. It's where I got the yarn for a sweater for my mom's Christmas present last year. And it's so convenient: decent parking and good hours. And well, it's just so darn fun being in there.

So, it's a financial pitfall for me if I give in to all these temptations, especially since I've yet to pay for the flights and accommodations in L.A., and the spindle course in Calgary, and the gas to drive to Winnipeg.

It also doesn't help that I bought the latest issue of Interweave Knits, and there are lots of gorgeous things I want to make from there, especially the Isobel Skirt:

I also have fantasies of knitting straight from silk hankies, à la the Yarn Harlot's post from a few weeks ago, and as demonstrated here. (And, just so you know, I'm so impressed with myself for getting that accent in there.)

So, what to do?

Dad would say: "Save as much as you can. It's important to save as much money as possible. After all, in the end, no one will save it for you."

My friend Tara (who's going to Calgary for the spindle class with me) would say: "Well, you can't go without some souvenirs." Have I mentioned how great an enabler she is?

My husband would shrug his shoulders.

I could hope that there is a Santa out there, and he is planning to give me a nice wad of cash with which to splurge and treat myself.

Oh sorry - there's no Santa. Apologies to the little kids out there. We won't get into the subject of the Easter Bunny...

I could hope that there's a mondo huge sale at all of these stores which would lessen the guilt of purchasing things from them.

I could hope that, while walking in L.A., Calgary, or Winnipeg, a big truck full of yarn would drive past and accidentally drop a huge bag of yarn on the street.

Or, I could quit worrying and just try to be as sensible as possible.

But what's the fun in that?

Ah well. I suppose there could be worse things to be worrying about, but the prospect of so much choice where there was previously none is dizzying. But heck, I may as well enjoy it.

And, well, while I'm at it, I may as well be on the lookout for that mystical truck at the same time. You never know, right?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why I Won't Knit in IKEA

One thing that people who knit or crochet are often told is that they are not truly creative people. "You didn't make that. You just followed a pattern. It's just like if I bought a shelf at IKEA and put it together."

Um, no.

Sir Ken Robinson often says that people often think they are not creative because they're not writing symphonies or painting frescoes everyday. He says having an imagination means having ideas that never existed before. Creativity is when you do something about it. Theoretical physics is creative because it takes ideas and makes more out of them. Dentistry is creative because it forces the dentist to solve problems in your mouth.

I'm not a great ideas person. I will freely admit that. I think I'm a good modifier. A problem-solver. Someone who can spot the weaknesses and think of ways to get around them, much to the annoyance of those around me.

I don't write music, but I can sing and make a song my own.

I don't write recipes, but I can make the meal damn delicious.

I don't design patterns, but I know how to make it work for me.

People who knit, crochet, cross-stitch, weave, spin, they all make decisions that make the end product unique. They choose their own colours, use different needles or hooks. Weavers might set their warp in a certain way. You can tie your threads in cross-stitch in different ways. And these products would not exist if they had not existed.

There is an excitement that grows inside of me when I bring home a ball of yarn. It's got something locked up in there, something beautiful to wear or something cute to adore or something functional to use. It's up to me to find it, and if there's anything I like, it's a good search. I'll spend hours, even days, looking for a pattern to inspire me, something that says, "This is meant to be. Make it so." I'll obsess over the perfect shape, or pull a couple of ideas together. Sometimes, I'll take a gamble that it'll work out. It doesn't always, but that's just another puzzle to figure out. And it works the same way if I buy the yarn with a project in mind. It's a gamble, a puzzle with a picture that changes as you put it together.

So, while it is true that when someone knits or crochets from a pattern, they didn't create the pattern themselves. What they are doing is creating an object, taking an idea and doing something about it: making the stitches one by one with their own unique muscles, braincells, fingers, breath. They are holding the strands just so, with their own tension. They are reveling in the sensation of the yarn sliding around their fingers, the yarn they chose and dreamed about. They are watching each row take shape, watching the sock heel turn, watching the sleeve cap curve, judging its weight, its length, its drape, and wondering if they've made all the right decisions, ripping back if they haven't and thinking of ways to make it better. They are waiting to see if the yarn is accepting its fate, or if its trying to say its too stiff for this project, or too thin, or too thick. And if you don't listen, the yarn will rebel. It's a good idea to listen.

This yarn started out being lace scarf, but it was better as a plaited basketweave scarf instead. It took me months to figure that out, and days to get the stitch sequence right.

This yarn came home with me from San Francisco. The first ball wanted to be this Orca Tail Scarf, but the other two still don't know what they want to be. I'm having fun trying to find a perfect match, or at least, find an idea that will work.

I thought this yarn would be fine on its own to make a baby blanket, but it really needed some flannel on the back of it to make it perfectly cozy.

So, no, it's not like building a shelf from IKEA. We are not churning out clones of Malm drawers. We're taking the Malm and making them into Sven or Johan or Magnus or Barbara - something new that works for us and makes us feel great for making it our own.

I will likely never knit a sweater in IKEA, but then, they'd probably never want me to.

It'd be too unique.