Film: French Dispatch

This is a story of wrong turns and dead ends as represented by knitting I ripped out or abandoned over the years.

Colours having a screeching match

You see, I am a process knitter. Yes, I like a nice sweater as much as the next person, but it is the discovery process that brings me back to this hobby.

Not enough contrast and double strand made sweater unbearably warm

Different yarns, techniques and garment construction drives the work and a good sweater is like a mystery novel, how will it turn out???

Too loose in the back. I remade this with a lot more tailoring.

Sometimes I reknit a single garment several times until I get everything right.

Beautiful but how to incorporate it into something useful?

Sometimes the challenge is to figure out what works best for the given yarn. Materials can be too soft or harsh for the original project idea. Will it look nice? Will it wear well?

Lumpy tree

Sometimes ideas percolate for years. I made Lumpy in 2005 but put him back in the yarn basket as it was not what I was looking for at the time. I put bells on a few weeks ago on a lark and now we have the star of the show.

So here is to finding joy in learning moments. Merry Yuletide and best of luck in the New Year!

Film: Another Round

Way back when I made Trev this fish hat. Actually I miscounted when orienting the tail and it turned out to be a mammal.

2011 fish hat

He wore it for a while until the button eyes damaged the fabric and I decided not to repair it.

Last winter we saw a kid wearing a similar hat and Owen asked for his own version.

Owen’s fish hat modelled by Markus

Instead using buttons I made crochet eyeballs so they can be sewn on at their edges and put less wear on the hat fabric. I didn’t put a lot of thought into the designs though I did put a row of fish hooks because I thought it would be a funny tattoo for a fish to have.

Trevor was in line next and at this point I was really keen to put an eye catching pattern.

Muddy swirls

I bought a pattern dictionary (which is a coffee table book with bunch of knitting drawings) and got these swirls out of it. I was super pleased with the look but the pattern made it difficult to shape the hat causing me to redo the original fish body shape into one with back and belly.

Though this turned out well, I was not brave enough to attempt it again and when Markus asked for his hat, I went back to stripe scheme.

Fish in water

Markus wanted red and green – his favourite colours. I don’t remember why he insisted on raindrops but I suppose water is the kind of thing that would stick to a fish. Getting those colours to not look like Christmas was the key feat of this hat.

Fish on fish

Final hat in the series was for my sister. I redid this one several times trying to get the right drawing. At one point I even had a row of octopuses that looked like chaotic squiggles and almost invisible fish.

Film : Shoplifters

I have been wanting to knit a “big” project for a while. This summer I went to the Fibre Festival and finally purchased a large sweater worth of yarn. This was a very fancy yarn and I want to make a “serious sweater” with it but before I can do that, I needed to a) get through some of my existing yarn lest I get into hoarding mode with all the yarn that will never get knit b) get all the “silly” out of my system. The idea to make a “silly sweater” as a preparation for “serious sweater” was born.

I found a neat pattern perfect for all the combination of yarn I had in my stash since I got back into knitting over a decade ago and purchased good quality wool in bulk. This stash had many skeins of beautiful red that just isn’t “my” colour and several different shades of blue which is is “my” colour but there wasn’t enough of any particular one to make a large garment.

Work in progress

I liked the idea of a dress more than the sweater, and the pattern had instructions for a dress version, but I ended up going off script once I got to the bottom of the rib cage. I modified the red by adding rows of pink to it making it more friendly to my skin tone. The seven different shades of blue including some mohair that had both blue and pink in it made up the rest.

At the vernissage

The original idea was to only wear this dress to movies since it was really a fun experiment not intended to be worn in public. Over the course of the process, I got to like it too much and friends convinced me that it is nice enough to wear outside.

Having completed the “silly dress” I was ready to make a “serious sweater” thus fulfilling one of my requirements. I still have enough yarn in my stash to make 4 more of these dresses so there might be more silly projects in the future. Can’t wait!

Film – We are the best!

Here are some things I used to be afraid of and my kids probably aren’t:


While my own parents never threatened me with the Police, being arrested for various odd infractions was the standard threat from pretty much everyone else. One time the police were responding to some kind of domestic disturbance in my grandmother’s building and she told us, with a perfectly straight face evidently not wanting to inform us of juicy gossip, that the police were called in because the neighbours were wasting energy by leaving the lights on during the day.

Old people we didn’t know

No matter what you were doing as a kid as long as you were in public, or semi-public, you were pretty much guaranteed that some old person will crawl out of somewhere and start yelling at you for disturbing the peace, making a mess or leaving the lights on during the day. One time I accidentally kicked the ball into a courtyard two houses down whose door we could not open with one of my smaller keys. We had to ask for the ball from an old man who was reportedly “Grumpier than most old people”. That required the most courage I ever had to scrounge up. He did give us the ball back, but not until a few days later.

Wasting resources

Energy and resource conservation was a really big thing when I was growing up and everyone had to be extremely conscientious about using resources. You only got one piece of paper for each art project and if you accidentally chose bumpy paper to draw with markers, you were in big trouble a few weeks later when we used watercolour; it was your own fault if the water did not soak into shiny paper – you were certainly not getting a replacement! I only had one ball of yarn so my Barbie could have a business suit or full length dress, but not both at the same time. I am still afraid of cutting yarn, less I decide to make something else out of it later and get stuck with a knot. One time in school, someone accidentally turned the light on in the classroom and the Principal Himself came over to see what the commotion was all about. This is the only time I ever saw the Principal in the three years I was at that school.

Five years of documented knits


It is my five year anniversary of signing in to Ravelry! By now I have forty something projects listed on my Ravelry page. Let’s see how some of these stood up to time.

Christmas Chickens


Well, they are a bit plucked, particularly those missing the hanging string, but they still make it onto the tree every year. No hanging string? They just sit on top of the branch and hold on with their tiny pipecleaner legs.

Grade: Yay!

Green socks and fur socks
(See second row fourth picture and fourth row first picture on top of the page, also below)

My first two attempts at socks went miserably wrong. The second green sock never got made and, though the fur socks were technically well executed, I was not sorry to see holes in them within weeks of commission. I understand why people make sweaters from the fur of their beloved dog, but as I have never met the possum that donated this fur, I can only say thanks but no thanks and I’ll stick to wool for now.

Grade: Fail.

Fog socks
(Third row fourth picture)

These were my first truly successful socks. I love the pattern and the yarn was lovely. I would go to parties and show off my socks. That might have been a faux-pas with non kniters but whatever. Eventually though the yarn got a bit too fuzzy and, with exception of the bottom of the feet which are still nice and shiny, you can’t see either the tidy slanted stitches or beautifully subtle colour variations. I don’t really wear these any more, they piled so much they actually look like I’m walking in fog, and they are not half as comfortable, easily washable or even easily replaceable as commercial merino socks.

Grade: Meh.

Hot hot socks, Forest balaclava and May hat

Hot hot socks
(First row seventh picture and above)

If for no other reason I love these because they remind me of the mat leave with Markus. I used the same yarn as the Fog socks but you would not know it from the behaviour thereof. Unlike the Fog socks, this yarn never shrunk making the socks too big. In the end they worked out really well as boot liners which is perfect for handmade specialty yarn socks. I neither put too much wear and tear on them, nor do I have to wash them as often because I only wear them for a small portion of the day over another pair of socks. They keep me warm and comfortable, especially when wearing those rubber and neoprene boots that are all the rage with the kids these days. Finally, they add a splash of fun colour over drab but functional commercial socks

Grade: Yay!

Hockey sweater and green sweater
(Fourth row sixth picture and first row third picture)

If I learned anything from my failed knitting experiments, of which these two sweaters are perfect examples, is that you really have to go all out. I was intimidated of making a sweater so I picked boring patterns and cheap yarn. How I managed to forget that I dislike anything boring and cheap is beyond me. Anyhow, both sweaters have been worn less than half a dozen times and then put away for good.

Grade: Fail.

Trev’s cardigan and one fur sock

Trev’s green cardigan
(First row second picture and above)

One good thing that came out of the green sweater debacle is that I made a sweater for Trev with leftover yarn. Technically the sweater is sucky because I could not be bothered to tear back and fix small mistakes which I would have done if I was not fed up with the crummy yarn, but it still looks cute on any of the kids that wear it. It is warm and snug fitting making it the best choice for camping or skiing when baggy cotton sweaters they usually wear do not cut it.

Grade: Meh.

Ribbon scarf
(Second row third picture)

I like lace, but this particular pattern with this particular yarn just did not work. I wore this scarf for a couple of months before I lost it. I don’t even feel particularly bad for losing it.

Grade: Meh.

May hat
(First row fifth picture and above)

I used one pattern for the shape of the hat and another for the colour work. It took some recalculating and some luck but I just love how this hat turned out. I like that it is thin enough to wear under helmet and that it does not take up too much room in my pocket or purse. When it is colder I can match it with an exercise cap or even balaclava for extra warmth. The yarn piles a little, enough to give the hat a cozy look but not enough to spoil the pattern.

Grade: Yay!

Urchin mitts, pocket hat and Fish hat

Fish hat and pocket hat
(First row, eight and tenth picture and above)

I am very pleased with both of these hats. Trevor wore the fish hat for the whole season. It is not the warmest hat so I am glad that he wears padded fleece hats instead. He still wears the fish hat now and then. It looks great after all these years.

Markus’ pocket hat is too small now, but it did get quite a bit of use both by Markus and the little girl down the street after we’ve misplaced it at their place and her mom though it was one of theirs.

Grade: Yay!

Urchin mitts
(First row, ninth picture and above)

The in-between season in Ottawa is really short but the Urchin mittens get used every year. They are simple and cute and it always make me smile to see the kids wearing them.

Grade: Yay!

Jayne hat
(Second row second picture)

For a joke hat this thing gets worn occasionally.

Grade: Yay!

Kiwi and Pumpkin hats


These were super easy and fun to make and they look good even after all these years. They are not very warm so they are not full time hats but they do get some love particularly when Chris goes out to shovel snow.

Grade Yay!