dusktreader knits

November 16, 2012

Oh, fine

Filed under: Notions — Tags: — dusktreader @ 10:57 pm

I’ll block the hat I just made instead of doing it the lazy way and just wearing it on a wet day and letting it block itself.

But I’m turning the heat up in my room to make to go faster.


March 3, 2012


Filed under: Notions — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 6:40 pm

photo via deleted.scenes on flickr, used under a creative commons licence

Until recently, the strongest connection I could see between knitting and fitness was that I sometimes wear a pair of knitted legwarmers when I’m skating. But in a discussion thread on Ravelry about multitasking, someone posted that she often does calf raises or squats when she’s knitting. I thought this was brilliant: how many times have I sat there knitting for hours, promising myself I’d get up and walk around after just one more row?

So what other exercises can we do while knitting? Try these at your own risk, I don’t want anyone skewering themselves with their needles.

  • Leg-lifts (lay on your side on the floor, propped up on your elbow, and lift and lower your leg)
  • Balancing on one leg
  • Calf-raises while balancing on one leg
  • Bicycles (where you lie on your back and ride an invisible bike in the air)
  • Stretches! There are so many stretches you could do while knitting. To stretch out my hamstrings I sometimes sit against the wall with my legs straight out in front of me, feet flexed. You could probably do this calf stretch while knitting.  There are some foot stretches that you can do while sitting down (some are as easy as scrunching your toes), and if you haven’t been stretching your feet, you should try it, especially if you walk a lot or have a job where you are on your feet all day. I find that I tense my jaw when I’m knitting something complicated, so I do the one where I open my mouth really wide and stick my tongue out to counteract the tension.

I’m probably not going to get a super ripped body by doing any of these, but I’m going to at least try some of them when I’m knitting for half an hour or more, to prevent parts of me from going numb. There’s a lot of hype right now about how sitting is bad for you, and it’s a good idea to move around once an hour or so when you’re doing stationary work. Anybody down for a stitch ‘n burn ‘n bitch?

January 12, 2011

Getting Comfy with Cables

Filed under: Notions — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 5:30 pm

Before this year, I think I did about three cable projects:

  • A scarf that was too short and that I never wear.
  • An owl hat that is too short and that I never wear. (I should try blocking it properly. Or make another one. Or, I could even rip out to before the decreases and make it longer. Maybe I should do that. It’s an awesome hat, I don’t even know what my problem is.)
  • The Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers from Stitch ‘N Bitch Nation. (I wish I had a digital photo of these. They were my first cable project.)

I had nothing against cables, I just found them slow and I didn’t really understand them. When I read left-leaning cable, I couldn’t figure out which way to hold the stitches to make it lean left. When I read C4B (cable four back) I couldn’t picture which direction it would cause the cable to lean.

Then I went on a cabling binge. I did some armwarmers and incorporated a pattern from the Vogue Cable Stitchionary. I did a cabled beret. And now I’m working on another cabled beret. And it finally clicked, and now I know that if I want to make a left-leaning cable, I should hold stitches to the back of the work, and if I want a right-leaning cable, I should hold stitches to the front. So now I can check against a photograph of what I’m knitting to make sure I’m going the right way, and it all makes sense, and I don’t have to constantly double check. Knitting cables goes a lot faster.

I also learned to knit without a cable needle. My learning process went like this:

  • 4 years ago: Look up how to cable without a needle. See that it means taking live stitches completely off the needle and just letting them hang there. Freak the heck out.
  • 1 month ago: (Having completely forgotten the above.) Decide I don’t feel like using a tedious cable needle. Wonder what could possibly go wrong if I just, you know, drop the stitches off and just, sort of, let them hang there while I knit the next few stitches, and then pick them back up. Experience moderate success, albeit having to fix a few unravelled stitches.
  • 1 week ago: Decide to look up proper instructions for how to cable without a needle , find out I’ve been doing it right, but that if I pinch the base of the dropped off stitches they don’t unravel. Experience great success, and much faster cable knitting.

I am much less afraid of fixing unravelled stitches than I used to be. And now I want to see if I can design my own cable patterns.

September 21, 2010

Happy Fall!

Filed under: Notions — Tags: , , , — dusktreader @ 5:13 pm

Fall is my absolute favorite season. Sweaters! Leaves! Festivals! Winter squash! The temperature is just right for me (I don’t do well with extremes), and I get to start wearing scarves to work again (it’s the only way I know how to accessorize my otherwise monochrome wardrobe with a bit of colour, so as to trick people into thinking I have more than 5 outfits).  And now that I live in Halifax, where the leaves actually turn colour and fall off the trees, I love Fall even more. It also means the beginning of knitting season, and I expect to have my needles back out as soon as the weather starts keeping me indoors. Right now I have a new obsession, roller derby, which is driving me outside to get some extra practice on my skates while I still can, but soon it will be too cold and wet to skate outdoors and I will have to drop down to our once-a-week indoor skate practice.

A lot of derby girls are knitters and crafters. (See for example, a search for roller derby on etsy.) I am not at all surprised by this.

I have an important thing to share with you. I moved recently, and while packing up all my yarn into more than one rubbermaid bin, I discovered that in the last year, I only bought 2 balls of yarn! Only 2! (Oh wait: I am just now remembering the yarn I bought for Metadata Futurecat’s cat cave. Okay. 5 balls of yarn.) (UPDATE: Okay 6: I bought this skein and blogged about it for my birthday.) It’s not just because I haven’t been knitting since March: I’m counting all last Fall too. You know, when I was learning to sew and buying all that fabri… never mind! The important thing is that I cut back on yarn, even when I was going through an excitement about knitting phase in the winter. I am proud of myself. There are a couple of yarn stores in Halifax (and apparently a really good one out in Dartmouth which I refuse to make a field trip to until I have a specific need), and I wander in from time to time, but I’ve been good. Aside from the cat cave yarn, the only two balls I bought were in support of some earthquake victims, and really, if I can’t spend my consumer dollars on earthquakes, what am I supposed to do?

July 1, 2010

June 4, 2010

Looking at things instead of knitting them

Filed under: Notions — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 5:07 pm

Woven leather shoesWell, I knit a little bit on the plane to the conference. Once I got to the conference though, there was no possibility. We weren’t knitting. We were twittering. There was a strong contingent of tweeters instantly summarizing the main points of any session, planning meetups, commenting on food, propagating inside jokes, and sharing links to resources. And I was among them, oh yes. I have always needed something to keep me engaged during lectures. Knitting did it for me in grad school: I would be more present if I had something to do Socks from the Bata Shoe Museumwith my hands that didn’t distract me. (For some classes, knitting made me TOO present and I had to dial it down a little if I didn’t want to be painfully immersed in some dry subject matter.) Twitter is perfect for helping me to pay attention, while also giving me a record of my reactions.

When the conference was over, I headed to Toronto for the weekend. I saw what looked like some lovely yarn stores in Toronto, but I did not allow myself to go in. I was too pressed for time, and I am not buying yarn right now, especially since I’m not really knitting right now. But! I did go to the Bata Shoe Museum and saw their exhibit on socks, which made me very happy. There were all kinds of things which I would not have thought of as socks, but which were meant to be worn in between a shoe and a person’s foot, and could technically be considered socks by definition. (See the leather socks, on the left, for an example.)  And then there were some beautiful, intricately knit socks that I kind of drooled over (see photo at right). My favorite were the tiny socks knit for the stop-motion movie Coraline. They were made with sewing needles as the knitting needles, and each one had a different design. I kind of want to try that now. I did not get a good picture because I only had my iPhone and there’s no zoom or flash on it.

If you’re in Toronto, I recommend the museum: it’s small enough to be manageable in under an hour (I find myself rushing through big museums because I feel like I need to see everything), and some of the footwear is really interesting. And they have way better postcards than the ROM, just saying.

March 19, 2010

March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March

Filed under: Notions — Tags: , — dusktreader @ 11:23 am

You could probably beware the Ides of any month, but March is an especially suspicious month to have Ides in. And so, inspired by Jezebel’s annual list of things to beware of this March 15th, I present you with my own list of things to beware of when you knit. Please feel free to read in your best mock voiceover in a horror movie trailer voice:

  • Dropped stitches that unravel several rows before you notice them
  • Eyelash yarn
  • Yarning forward instead of yarning over
  • Lost lifelines
  • Missing a row in your chart
  • Cats who chew right through your working yarn, forcing you to rejoin mid-row
  • All of your friends plotting to stab you in the back with your own knitting needles

It’s not too late to beware! Share your own things to beware of in the comments.

February 7, 2010

Podcasts to knit by

Filed under: Notions — Tags: , , — dusktreader @ 3:52 pm

I owe my love of podcasts to knitting.* I’m a multitasker: I can’t be just knitting and I can’t be just listening to something. And I am always looking for ways to maximize my knitting time: knitting on the bus, knitting in class, knitting while watching TV. If I can possibly read and knit, I’ll do it, although that means finding a book that will stay open and a somewhat awkward configuration so that my hands don’t block the book. Audiobooks are a good solution, because I’m free to look anywhere. It’s even better than watching TV while knitting, because I don’t miss anything when I look down to check where I am or fix a dropped stitch. But I have a bad habit of not finishing audio books: I’ll lose my place and not feel like scanning through to find it, or the sound of the narrator’s voice won’t mesh with my expectation of what a character’s voice should sound like, and I’ll lose interest. The next logical step was podcasts: they’re more compact and episodic than a whole audiobook with the same hands-free, eyes-free benefits.

I haven’t really gotten into knitting podcasts (I’d rather be knitting than hearing about someone else doing it) with one exception: Knitting History. Working as an archivist has turned me into a bit of a casual history geek, and I’ve always been curious about how the idea of taking a long piece of string and making thousands of loops in it ever developed in the first place, let alone how it became the sophisticated craft it is today. There’s 8 episodes of Knitting History so far, and the host, Jen, is building us up slowly with lots of textile history context (and as an archivist, I love context). She just got to spinning in episode 6 and wool in episode 7. Knitting geek love!

Other podcasts I like:

  • Radiolab. If you’re new to podcasts, start with this one. They do an excellent job of telling stories using sound. I have never not learned something when listening to an episode.
  • Life After Radio. Radio is dead, long live radio! I’ve heard it described as the This American Life of East Vancouver. Somehow, Sara makes any topic interesting.
  • The British Postal Museum and Archives podcast. All kinds of geeky things I like together: archives, podcasts, history, posties. British accents speaking authoritatively on a topic.

If anyone has any good podcasts (knitting or otherwise) to share, comment and let me know!


*With a shoutout to my cousin Megan, podcast devotee, who recommended many good podcasts that I now listen to regularly.

January 22, 2010

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