Mitts are DONE


You may remember my starting them waaaay back in this post. 6’4″ Man sized convertible mitts take significantly more yarn than I’m used to :S Plus the pattern I was working from had to be altered several times (though a man pattern, it was definitely not made for the 6’4″ variety), resulting in multiple froggings. I also added on the convertible thumb. I’m debating publishing it as its own pattern. But that requires me to compare it to the original. I don’t want to plagarize. We’ll see how motivated (and not lazy) I feel over the next few days…

The important thing is that they are DONE. To celebrate, here are some goodies:

1) I bought needles online. Turns out I’m not as happy with them as I’d hoped, but the eBay seller had this neat chart on their listing, and I saved a copy. You’re welcome.

2) I wanna make the Favorite Things Scarf. Such a cool concept.

But I should probably get on this instead… Life is hard.

3) I bought a copy of Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book

Um… ignore the Xbox controller. Ours is a nerdy house…

Anyway, this little book is a classic. Perhaps not as well known as Elizabeth Zimmermann or Barbara Walker, but every bit as chock full of invaluable information. An added draw is the wealth of historical information she includes.

Be warned, however, that this was originally published in the 1930s. Knitting techniques might not date, but the cartoons do. Most are charmingly cute, but some venture into mildly sexist and/or culturally insensitive territory. Mrs. Thomas was brilliant, but still a product of her time. Let’s focus on some cute ones:

4) Look what I found in my mom’s closet: an authentic Cowican Sweater! I’ve written about these before.

5) Not knitting, but still crafty, and friend told me about XStitchMyHeart via The Mary Sue.

… must learn cross stitch.


I came into work the other day to find this little gem on my desk.

Isn’t she cute?! She’s from the book Noodle’s Knitting by Sheryl Webster, illustrated by Caroline Pedler.

A coworker from another branch (the same lovely individual who made this) made her for a knitting and fiction themed craft program and, knowing I love the book and have used it in storytimes more than once, made a second one for me.

I was so touched! Not to mention thrilled to be able to put something this adorable on my mantle. Right now she’s sitting beside my TARDIS, a product of the Ravhellenic Games. Mine is definitely the home of a nerdy knitter.

Speaking of knitting themed picture books, I don’t believe I’ve shared this other favourite of mine yet (hard to believe since I’ve written about them here and here):

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

These two images from the book pretty much sum up how awesome it is (though there is a great review here if you need more convincing):


Besides the fact that the fiancé and I were sick for a bit, it’s been a good couple weeks. First off, I must take a moment to point out an initiative very close to my heart that I found out about through a post on the wonderful Simply Notable blog:

The idea behind the Purple Stitch Project is to knit, crochet, or sew purple (the epilepsy awareness color) gifts for kids with seizure disorders. These gifts will serve as a reminder that they are not alone — that they have community support. The 2nd goal of PSP is to raise awareness about epilepsy, the 3rd most prevalent neurological disorder (next to stroke and Alzheimer’s). With every purple stitch made and every handmade item worn or carried, perhaps a collective conversation will begin about a disorder that surprisingly little is known about.

As some of you know, my fiancé has epilepsy, hence I am super excited to hear about such an awesome initiative. The fact that it involves the hobby I love helps too.

There are all kinds of patterns listed on Craftsy and Pinterest. Including awesomeness like this:

Everyone should make one!


In other news, my shrug is coming along well. If I like it, I might also make it in white for the wedding 😀

Isn’t the drawstring square-bottom project bag you see in the photo awesome? I got it, along with another one in a funky pink, gold, and white fabric, from one of my fellow World Wide Knit in Public Day organizers, who made them for all of us who helped plan WWKIP Toronto Edition. It was such a nice surprise!


On Friday I went to the latest

If you’ve never been and you’re ever in the area, you should go. Click on the Knitty logo/banner for the link to more info, but essentially it’s a great time in one of Toronto’s greatest (and probably coziest) yarn stores, The Purple Purl. You and twenty-nine other knitters get to test and review five new yarns ranging from super luxury skeins to bargain ones. The reviews are used by Knitty for their magazine.

Voilà, the swatch I had at the end of the night. There be alpaca, merino, and even cashmere in them there hills of inadvertent garter stitch.
And their are door prizes! I went home with this:

And the entire store was on sale, so this had to follow me home:

Did you spot my invasive cat in, not one, but both of the pics above? Because, you know, I don’t give him any attention, not at all.

More free things! :

This is chunky/bulky weight wool yarn from Briggs & Little that I got from a destashing friend.

Last weekend I visited family out in the country, and came back from antique shopping with some pieces of handicraft history.

These are two antique yarn bobbins/spools. Well used from the looks of them. See how they would have been used here.

This handkerchief is hand embroidered and edged with crochet. I love the little pieces of detail. And I couldn’t very well resist a four leafed (leaved?) clover.

Beyond that I’ve found myself cooking and baking a lot. It’s the fall weather – it is finally not too hot to have the oven on, and nothing is better than long-simmering soup, à la this recipe for Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup I made on the weekend. Pinterest is likely also partially to blame. I’ve been pinning way too much.

Speaking of baking…

We had a potluck at work. One of my colleagues and I are a) very nerdy and b) share a love of Game of Thrones (we’re librarians, so it’s not a surprise). Plus there is my love of all things medieval. This led to us using this:

To make things like this (complete with explanatory notes) :

Whole story here.

Ewes-ful information

Lookit! My last entry got noticed by Geek & Sundry. Thanks for mentioning me, guys 🙂

Speaking of things that are both geeky and awesome, I am very excited about something a friend showed me on Patrick Rothfuss’ website:

This is totally what I wear to work... I do want those shoes, however. In flats...

Speaking of work, I stumble across this post on Tumblr, which sums up why I’ve decided I want to persue work as a children’s specialist:

Sidenote: I have recently become rather obsessed with Tumblr (in addition to Pinterest…) Follow me!

The full quote, from Neil Gaiman (who else?):

“Stories that you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely visit.” ~ from M is for Magic

Something else library related that I think will make your day:

Recently, a library customer left her laptop at the bus stop outside a library. Another library customer found the laptop and took it into the library, on the assumption that the owner might return to the library to look for it.

That’s exactly what happened. The owner took a cab back to the library and found the laptop waiting for her there. She left the note above for her anonymous saviour on the bus stop hydro pole, thanking him/her and relaying the cabbie’s similar story that he shared during the cab ride.

After a shitty day at work, with printer problems, kids breaking the elevator, and grumpy old men being indignant over having to prove they still live in the municipality once a year (“I’ve lived here for 40 years! I’m not moving any time soon.” Well that’s great sir, but I have no way of knowing that and unfortunately your word is not going to cut it with the Public Libraries Act) I really needed to read something like that 🙂

The CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) ended on labour day weekend. Here is a round-up of yarn and fibre-related goodness. Sorry, they’re cell phone pictures…

The Peru booth of hand-knits and crafts was a stop I had to make.

A close-up of the 100% alpaca coat. The fibres were more glorious in real life.

Incredibly detailed kids and baby sweaters.

This fantastic crochet top, I mean lady, sat in front of me at the talk by Richard Palmisano on hauntings at the CNE grounds.

These three pics below are of a display on sheep at the Farm Building ❤

Actual sheep!

This llama was not impressed with my taking her picture.

Alpacas with funny haircuts.

And now I’m off to finally start work on my shrug. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

I think I’m smart

Before I get down to business after a bit of an absence, I must first direct your attention to…

Felicia Day, I love you. I can’t believe I just discovered Geek and Sundry/the Flog now. Here is Knit Culture‘s take on the encounter as well.

So, basically this post is dedicated to how smart I think I am. I bought some inexpensive tools recently. Inexpensive tools that have proved to be indispensable (for me anyway).

First off, I wanted one of these.

Yarn holder, yarn lazy susan, I can’t find one unified name for it. Unfortunately, any one of the nice wood ones I had my eye on I couldn’t afford (though FYI, the site that that image links to supplies awesome stuff I don’t really see elsewhere).

Then I found this:

Link to the store here (their English could use some work, I'll admit).

Plastic? I don’t care, as long as it gets the job done. The job being preventing this from happening.

Yarn twisting and curling on itself – my mortal enemy. The physics can be found here.

And it turns out it works quite well. I did away with the silly holder. Didn’t really stay on anyway (though I’ve been promised they’re sending something to fix it).

My second stroke of genius came at the dollar store. I had been lusting after Knit Pick’s Chart Keeper, but a) I’m cheap, and b) the magnets worry me – won’t they hurt the electronics in my purse? Then I saw this:

Just a clear pencil case. I’ve already been using row counters to count repeats, so don’t need the magnets. The case does the job of keeping my charts from getting all crumpled in my bag just fine. The only downside is that this is the other side:

Not really my style.

In other news, I finished my belt for the Ravellenic Games!

I even made the buckle. Because I am a wizard (my ego is getting quite the stoking today, I know).

Cut and fitted 'em myself.

Voilà, my medal 😀

Unfortunately, my TARDIS plushy didn’t get done in time to qualify for the British Cricket event. But it’s done now 🙂

The pattern is by Nyss of Pixelated Mushroom and is available for free on her site.

Desmond investigates:

Almost done, I promise. But first…

Lookit my new Hunter boots! (And check out the sexy super pale leg). Yes that is a crocheted cat toy in the background (and yes, it came with the bed). I’m very excited because not only are they awesome and green, but I can’t wait to show off hand-knit socks in these puppies.

I’ll leave you with this lovely colour of Berroco Vintage Chunky (you can see the threads of purple running throughout more clearly IRL), which I’ll be using for the Simple Lace Shrug from This is Knit was scored by yours truly at 20% off at last week’s grand opening of the new Toronto LYS, Ewe Knit, which has opened up practically next door to my knit night group’s pub of choice. Whether this is awesome or horrifying (to my wallet, anyway) remains to be seen. They also appear to be installing an espresso machine. It’s like they know me…

I got my purchase home, set it down, and then this happened… again :

Cat after my own heart.

More things I am excited about

Well, to be honest, I’m still excited about my purchases from the Frolic. So is Desmond, it would seem. I managed to get this photo but couldn’t get one of the best part, when he was actually full on burying his head in the bags of yarn. Man I love this cat.

Nevertheless, on to this week’s even larger levels of excitement!

1) Appropriately called Bigger on the inside, I cannot wait to start Kate Atherley’s TARDIS shawl from the latest issue of Knitty. Anyone who knows me knows of my love affair with Dr Who.

So excited I went right out and got yarn for it.

2) I’m on the planning committee for WWKIP Toronto Edition, and am happy to report that things are really getting going. Look at the shiny new blog masthead!

We also have a Ravelry group, a  Facebook event page, and I’m even attempting to get the Twitter hashtag #WWKIPTO going. Wish me luck.

3) I have just discovered the West End Scarf. Drooool. Yet another one to add to my ridiculously long queue.

4) Look who’s coming to the Downtown Knit Collective next week!

5) My fiancé has recently said things to me like “come sit in the TV room with me. I miss it when you aren’t sitting in your chair knitting” and “you see that sweater that guy is wearing? Do you think you could knit me something like that?” I am beyond estatic. This from the guy who cringed when I offered to make him a hat two winters ago. Nevermind that the sweater he pointed out was machine knit in what had to be fingering weight…

I need for an iPad edition of this to come out.

ispy at the ischool

Once again a Bissell Bomber has been struck by the common cold and was 
out of commission for a few days. Sorry for the lack of posting, but all the syrups,
pills and tonics I was on made my keyboard a bit tricky to navigate.

I was also worried that I had started hallucinating when I saw that there was a yarn video game?!
Leave it to the fine people at Nintendo to make something that is already adorable
(a pink, squishy ball from Dream Land) and add an awesome yarn element!!

In this Wii Game, our hero eats some random tomatoe that he finds and is banished by the evil
sorcerer Yin-Yarn to Patch Land, a place made completely out of fabric.
In this new world Kirby’s ability to fly and swallow/copy enemies are useless
so instead he uses a whip to capture things and turn them into balls of yarn.


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Awesomeness that was March

It’s April now, and this was my April Fool’s ravatar:

As anyone on Ravelry knows, often the site developers will have fun on the holidays. Often it’s with little icons on the homepage, but for April Fool’s everyone’s avator got headgear. The placement of mine could not have been more perfect.

March was an interesting month, full of ups and downs. I spent St. Patty’s Day weekend at the hospital after taking my fiancé in for a marathon ER wait, followed by an ultrasound confirming that it was indeed his appendix, and then ultimately surgery and recovery. That same Sunday I found out that I was on strike. I spent almost two weeks bored-to-tears and foot-weary on the picket line while having to take over all chores at home with my partner in crime out of commission. Still doing most of the heavier-duty housework, but infinitely glad the strike is over.

That being said, it was also a great month in many ways. The strike was taxing, but I got to see some colleagues I had not seen in months because they work at other branches, and there was something invigorating in coming together with other passionate colleagues and members of the public to defend what we value. This was of course intensified at the Knit-In, which was a highlight and a wonderful time that could not have happened otherwise. Knitting really builds communities and connections!

And then the cherry on top for yours truly – meeting Wise Hilda and the Yarn Harlot 🙂 Additionally, the week before the appendix and the strike I got to meet another one of my favourite authors, George R.R. Martin (or GRRM, or his royal GRRMness, as a friend and fellow fan refers to him) at the Bay/Bloor Indigo store. I waited in line for 3 or 4 hours with a couple of other die-hard fan friends, which was fun on its own, and then we were each permitted to approach the dias (seriously, the stage combined with desk did have a dias-like quality, I’m not just being a fantasy nerd here).

I got my book signed, and he even talked to me! Swoon! Not that I was the only one, but it was nice, considering the size of the line and how fast staff were ushering us through, not to mention the size of the hand cramp he’d have later (I maintain that only those of us who have been reading his books since before the Game of Thrones HBO series count as fans, but I suppose they can’t turn people away based on this). Essentially our conversation went like this:

Me: Hi (I worry that this may have been more of squeak-like noise and not fully discernible)
GRRM: Hi, how are you?
Me: (completely flummoxed) Good, you? (then stupidly realizing he is spending his day signing a thousand-odd books) Erm, well, I guess you’re day is like this (I gesture towards my book as he signs it)
GRMM: He smiled at that, and said something like “well, yeah y’know.”

To conclude this foray into my nerd quirks outside of knitting, I leave you with this quote from and interview I found on Tumblr, because it is great and sums up part of the reason why I enjoy his books so much:

George Stroumboulopoulos: There’s one thing that’s interesting about your books. I noticed that you write women really well and really different. Where does that come from?
GRRM: You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.

March was also the month of awesome finds and purchases. I finally found a reasonably priced used copy of both Elizabeth Zimmerman’s The Opinionated Knitter and Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting From the Top. So stoked.

Don’t judge these books by their covers (especially the horrible duds on the 80’s edition of Walker’s book). This, my friends, is the good stuff. Basic garment construction in detail – no frills or fooling around here. Not that I dislike frills, but they come after mastering the basics, I think. And since I want to get into designing my own patterns, these two classic tomes are going to be invaluable.

Knitting From the Top comes from the genius of the same woman behind the classic and ever-so-popular Pattern Treasury books, à la:

What KFTP lacks in glossy photos it makes up for in sheer information value. You can essentially design and knit any type of garment using the tips and directions in this book, from every type of sweater imaginable to even a wide array of pants and skirts. (Though skirts I will definitely do, and have done, I think knitted pants is a dated concept. Granted, fashion always cycles back).

The Opinionated Knitter is essentially a collection of EZ’s Newsletters. She began to produce these after she starting her own yarn business from home, disillusioned with the world of mainstream pattern publishing and their insistence on altering, slicing, and dicing the patterns she submitted for publication. Each newsletter is reproduced in the book along with commentary and further expansion from EZ’s daughter Meg Swanson, as well as some from EZ herself. Topics vary – sometimes the focus will be on a specific technique, other times there will be directions (not patterns, an important distinction) for a specific type of garment. Below is an example of one of the newsletters and an accompanying diagram: this one outlines EZ’s key number percentage system for determining the number of stitches, increases, and decreases you will need for a sweater based on the wearer’s measurements. Amazing!


The back cover shows some of the photos from inside of garments made using EZ’s newsletters.

Part of what makes the book extra special for me is its coffee-table quality. In addition to the newsletters there are lots of anecdotes about Elizabeth’s life, including this amazing photo featuring both Elizabeth AND Barbara G. Walker (plus another lady I admittedly don’t know of) at a 1980 knitting summit! I know, I know, I’m a dork.




Speaking of Walker, did you know that she also wrote quite a lot of books on women’s spirituality and the Goddess movement? I didn’t.






Lastly, March saw a fair bit of progress on the Lanesplitter, though not as much as I’d like.

Since this is the largest project I’ve tackled yet, my sock-size project bags were starting to just not cut it anymore. Being on a (partially strike induced, partially cause I should be buying less yarn) budget I figured I must have something around the house I can use. Enter this thin cotton grocery tote bag! Now that it’s altered, it is working perfectly. And as a bonus I’m feeling pretty pleased with my resourceful craftiness, thank you very much.

I wish I’d taken a before picture, but essentially I used a seam ripper to detach the handles (you can see where I did this to the left if you look carefully; it resembles an X), made a small cut in the hem around the bag opening and then hemmed around the cut so it wouldn’t fray. Threading the string through was probably the hardest part. Overall, an easy half hour job 🙂

 Happy Easter!

Storytelling and fibre art

The weekend before last, I had the opportunity to take a course through Storytelling Toronto. It was a great learning experience, and to my surprise I was able to successfully complete the weekend’s goal of learning and telling an oral story. I chose this story, one close to my heart as a nerd where Celtic myth is concerned.

One the way home on the Saturday, I got to thinking about the tradition of storytelling. Of our mostly illiterate ancestors, sitting around fires or hearths and passing on their oral history with a dual goal of entertainment on long winter nights and establishing cultural memory. Often they did this while engaging in handicrafts that were necessary in order to food and clothe the village.

This made me wonder if there were myths and legends featuring knitting, weaving, or spinning. If so, how many? How are these crafts portrayed? In my research, I came across some interesting resources:

This page on features a pretty decently extensive list of myths featuring fibre arts, complete with links to the myths themselves.



I also enjoyed this blogger’s post on the knitting Huldra character from the folklore of Norway.


Speaking of the northern reaches of Europe, here is a great piece, featuring gorgeous photographs, on the traditional folk costumes of Scandinavia, which of course features lots of knitwear. They even have a book available on the subject.








And of course, one can’t talk about European knitting traditions without mentioning Estonian textiles. Nancy Bush’s seminal book on the subject is something every knitter should read, in my opinion, but the essays of  this blogger makes for pretty good reading as well.

There is of course a rich knitting history in the British Isles too. Here are some great sites on the art of Fair Isle, Arans, and Guernseys.

Heading around the world now to the Andes of Peru, no tour of knitting culture would be complete without mentioning the rich textile tradition found there. I could not find as much knit-related folklore from the area (not in English anyway), but this photographic travelogue richly illustrates the vibrant culture and mentions some folk traditions, as do the essays located here and here.


The Folk Knitting Flickr group has a great bibliography of books on folk knit patterns and history on the bottom of their description page. Being a librarian of course, I have a few gems I would like to add.

1) Folk Knits: Traditional Patterns from Around the World by Melinda Coss. It’s out of print and hard to get your hands on, but a few patterns can be found on this Flickr user‘s account, mostly on the 2nd and 3rd pages.

2) Knitting on Top of the World by Nicky Epstein




And on a related (to knitting, folklore not so much), the Toronto Star published this article on the rise of the knitting commuter on the weekend. I was so pleased 😀

Uh-oh, I’m engaged

You know what this means… wedding related knitting. The fiancé is going to looooove this.

Alas, I am not the first to blog on the topic, surprise surprise. JoAnnaJae does a particularly good job of it here.

A whole gallery of hand-knitted wedding dresses can be found here. Some are gorgeous, some hideous, all of them make my hands and brain hurt just looking at them.

And then there is the woman who loves sheep perhaps a little too much.

Though even that is nice compared to this:

Just not my thing I guess…

Though I must give kudos to the Dr. Who nod ❤ That is one epic scarf.

So I’ll skip the knitted dress, thanks.

I LOVE this idea, however. In fact, I kind of want to steal this couple’s entire wedding.

This calls to mind their TARDIS cake topper…

What is it with knitters and Dr. Who? Are we just all quirky like that?

There are also library-themed weddings out there! Diana of and her beau, Scott Douglas (a famous librarian-writer, for those of you not in the know) threw a fabulous affair that I am sure smelled of vellum and newsprint.

However, my fave for library-themed has to go to this wedding at the James J. Hill Library in Saint Paul, MN.

In all honesty, we will probably have a low-key affair and just follow our whims and play ofo of our many quirks instead of one unified theme, but you can bank on these babies hitting a mailbox near you.

That, and the fact that I’ll be knitting my garter 😉