Tootsies en relevé

White and pink socks

Socks are the best kind of relief for knitter’s block.

I often find myself stuck with several WIPs that have reached some sort of temporary impasse. This is usually because I just can’t quite summon the energy to try on my project and make a determination on hem length, sleeve length or body length. Sometimes I just can’t decide which colour button or zipper to use. Other times, to my horror, I discover that absolutely every aspect of my project has been poorly planned and executed, beginning with, of course, the decision to pick that particular pattern!

So when hard times befall me, I do what any reasonable knitter/human should: I cast on a pair of socks.

Red tweed socks

This red tweedy pair was my first time knitting from the toe up. I really liked the way the gusset is formed: you lose a little heel space but there’s no need to pick up stitches around a flap. And who likes to pick up stitches, amirite?

I tried a “basic” bind off, a tubular bind off and a Russian bind off before settling on a sewn bind off. The first three were either too messy (tubular) or too tight. The sewn bind off seemed to be a good compromise in stretch and solidity.

  • Pattern: Variations on a 64 stitch standard sock. Cuff-down: with slip-stich heel flap. Toe-up: with simple gusset heel.
  • Yarn: Red pair = Stroll tweed in barn door heather. Colour blocked pair = various scraps leftover from other projects. White and pink pair= the white is some sort of stretchy cotton, had a German label on it perhaps? Soft and easy to work with. No idea if it will wear well or get saggy quickly?
  • Needles: size 0/2mm

Colour blocked socks

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Rainy day sweater

Grey Sweater Front

My grandmother would be proud: I am a knitter now. I say that with unabashed confidence.

No sweater pattern is too challenging. I can look away from my stockinette stitch and trust that my fingers will take care of it. A tricky stitch count with a few paired decreases and increases? No need to pause the movie, I’m on it.

Even if I have started to develop an embarrassingly persistent tendency for rowing out, I will still proudly proclaim my knitter status.

Grey Sweater back detail

But when, exactly, did that switch happen? When did I go from lowly muggle to too-cool-for-school knitter? Was it the thirtieth dropped stitch fixed? Or the thirty-first? Was it when I casually corrected my stitch count without agonizing and ripping back ten rows, knowing full well that my little fix would be virtually invisible?

And why -given that I’ve played guitar for far longer than I’ve knit- can I not call myself a guitar player!

Grey Sweater side detail

At some point in the not so distant past, armed with my swift and ball winder and needle gauge, I graduated. Rainy day sweaters, in my favourite shade of unflattering non-colour, are like bread and butter now. Quick, easy and filling. Yum.

Grey Sweater on Chair

This sweater was worked in tandem with Mama Wool&Potato as her first foray into non-sock knitting. We knit each section at the same time, although I would sometimes sprint ahead to the end of a line while she chugged along, mouthing each individual “k1, p1, m1r…..”

Her sweater is a beautiful jujube-red version with rolled cuffs, lots of swing and nary a purl out of place. (Well, maybe just one.) I am immensely proud of her effort and I know she is too.

  • Pattern: Mountain High
  • Size: S (36.25in)
  • Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers Light grey, 8401
  • Needles: 4.5mm
  • Notes: FYI, new knitters, the way the pattern is set up is not very conducive to first time sweater knitters. Not a bad pattern, but very confusing if you have no experience and no one to help you decipher.


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Fist(ful)s of honeycomb

Lagniappe Gloves Main

I recently caught an episode of Earth’s Natural Wonders on PBS. According to their website: “the series tells the stories of some of our planet’s most spectacular places and how they have shaped the lives of those who live there”.

Quite frankly, they’re underselling it. A better title for the series might have been:

You won’t believe what these people are up to.

Or, Damn, sucks to be these dudes.

Or, You think you’ve got problems? Quit whining, watch this show.

In the episode I saw, the filmmakers follow a group of poor Bangladeshi men on their annual hunt for honey. The half-dozen men set out in a small boat to a mangrove forest to harvest the giant hives of killer bees. KILLER BEES, as in, the bees that’ll kill you. The ones that don’t take too kindly to you stealing their honey. Yeah, those.

Lagniappe Gloves Mug

And as if that weren’t challenging enough, the forest is patrolled by Bengal tigers.

The men literally have to pray that they won’t be mauled to death by a tiger – on their way to work.

The worst I get on my commute is an unploughed sidewalk or a stalled metro.

Lagniappe Gloves Palm

  • Pattern: Lagniappe Gloves
  • Size: M
  • Yarn: Palette in Clove
  • Needles: 2.25mm
  • Notes: Any complaints I have about the fiddly-ness of (albeit simple) cables at such a small gauge seem… trivial. I did however get a small cut on my palm while knitting these: I held a dangly bit of yarn too close to a curious kitty. Might I draw a parallel here? Occupational feline hazards?


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Snowy Owl – Caped Crusader

Cape Full

Cape Back

Finally: Snow.

No more brown, drizzly, anemic winter. This is Montreal. And girls who sew moderately impractical wool capes are meant to frolic in clean, white, gentle snow.

We – of the double-pants clan- know that 100% Italian wool (0r 120%, if the salesman is to be believed) is best served at about -3°C with calm winds and cloudy skies. The bigger and stickier the snowflakes, the better.

Cape Lining

  • Pattern: Vogue 8776, view B
  • Fabric: Medium weight 100 % wool; green bemberg lining
  • Notions: Big snaps (instead of buttons); purchased bias tape
  • Size: M
  • Notes: Finished in 2015 sometime? Given the finishing techniques I used (handsewing a bunch, hiding seams with bias tape) and the material I chose, I would not rate this a “very easy” pattern. More of a “get frustrated and put it away for 7 – 8 months” pattern. But I highly recommend nonetheless, especially when sewn in expensive natural fibres. This may be the nicest thing I have ever sewn.

Cape Back DetailWinter Sledding Scene

Cape FrolicCape Front Detail

Also pictured:

Yellow shawl scarf

  • Pattern: Basic triangle shawl pattern with alternating stockinette and garter as stripes
  • Yarn: Handspun Polwarth, dyed with marigolds collected over one summer from my garden. Slight variations in colouring on lower half from iron bath after dyeing.

Workhorse Hat

  • Pattern: Who even remembers?
  • Yarn: Leftover Cascade Ecological Wool
  • Notes: Maybe not the cutest hat, but damn if it ain’t cozy.