Posts Tagged ‘Guest blogs’

Swatchless in Sudan

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

When I was a kid, I was really into the Little House on the Prairie series, and was pretty sure I wanted to grow up and be a pioneer. Laugh if you wish, but for the past two years, I’ve been living in Sudan, working as a humanitarian aid worker. Although I’m now living in the capital city of Khartoum, where I have a fairly constant supply of electricity, water usually comes out of my tap, and pizza joints can be found on every block, my first year was spent in a place called Renk, where there was no electricity, water was delivered to our compound by a donkey pulling a big water barrel, and I spent every Saturday morning washing my ankle length skirts by hand. Evenings were spent with my knitting, frequently by candlelight when the generator fuel ran out. The pioneer life? Not as glamourous as I was expecting. The knitting? It kept me sane!

During a brief trip home to Kingston last summer I stopped into the local knitting store to stock up on a new project…I was looking for something that would take me a significant amount of time to finish and that would fill the long hours of the Southern Sudan evening.  I consider myself an intermediate knitter…I’ve done cables and  have made countless sweaters with fairly complicated patterns, but I’ve never attempted a multicoloured project. So I decided I was up for the challenge, and found a pattern that called for a multitude of different colours, and didn’t have a single repeating pattern in the entire sweater. As I stood in the store, slowly falling in love with the sweater, but slightly hesitating at the potential complexity of it, the store woman suggested that I choose something simpler, “for beginners”. That was all I needed. My pride kicked in. I filled up my basket with 12 different colours of yarn, 4 kinds of needles, and the incredibly daunting pattern, and headed home to pack it all in my suitcase to head back to Sudan.

Almost a year later, I have the body, and a sleeve and a half finished. I messed up one of the patterns in the body, but haven’t fixed it as I don’t have the patience to take out stitches. Besides,  I figure it just adds character to the thing (or perhaps reveals a bit of mine). Parts of it have become faded from mistakenly leaving it in the window for long periods of time, it’s full of sand (Sudan is a desert), and I may have the odd mosquito or two imbedded into the stitches. My mother has told me repeatedly that she thinks I may have done it all wrong…a worry that becomes greater and greater as I approach the final stitches, and am faced with the challenge of cutting the front open to add a zipper (another thing I’ve never done before)…but I suppose on my next trip home I can always slink back into the wool store, pride between my legs, and ask the woman for help. Or, I can move back to Renk, where I’ll have lots of extra time to painstakingly unravel the whole thing and start over.

PS: My name is Melanie and I’m a friend of Rachel’s from Camp Hyanto….which seems like many many years ago!

April 18, 2009 sweater…now a Finished Object

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Wow! Seriously 1 year and 4 months to finish a basic knit sweater. I should get some sort of procrastination medal.

In all fairness the sweater has been complete for many months, except only recently did I take the time to learn how to sew seams properly with mattress stitch.

Very happy with the outcome…ready for this fall.

Lessons Learned

Friday, August 13th, 2010

 Hello! My name is Candra, and I’m really excited and honoured to be a guest here for Rachel! Rachel and my friend Nicole have taught me pretty much everything they could about knitting over the last four years. I’m one of those knitter’s who has multiple projects casted on at once, and each project teaches me something new. Well here’s my longest running project that has taught me a lot.

Last year I started a project for my friend’s birthday. She had requested a pair of socks, and not just any socks, a pair of…. Twilight socks. (I think most people are aware of the existence of the Twilight Saga if they like it or not and I do have to admit I have read the whole series) I was lucky enough that ravelry has such a pattern:  Twilight Cover Socks by ChickenBetty.

The socks are written to be  toe-up socks, knit in Intarsia when the book cover picture comes in. When I started the pattern I had no idea what ” intarsia” meant, and wanting to get these socks done fast I thought I could make do with coming up with my own way of knitting them, so I bought the yarn and started. The problems began immediately.

At first I wanted to surprise my friend by not letting her see the socks. That ended badly after I turned the first heel and saw they were too small. So I frogged it to right before the heel and made it longer. I tested them on my friend this time, but they were too big in both width and length. I frogged them and started again, deciding to measure my friend’s foot with the sock; however,the worst problems began when I started the colour working.

I decided I would cut each colour of yarn off every time I finished with it in the round, then cast it back on when it was needed again. My more experianced knitting friends warned me about the consequences of doing this, but I did it anyway. If I had listened I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. There were too many little ends after about twenty rounds and they had started to unravel and get tangled. Frustrated I frogged the whole thing again.

By then my friend’s birthday had long past. I was ready to give up, and I questioned whether these socks really wanted to be made or not. But I was determine, so I casted on once more taking notes as I went, and instead of  my more creative method of the colourworking I switched to trusty old Fair Isle knitting. Three colours all at once.

So what came of all this? Well I did indeed learn “intarisa” knitting; I learned how to be patient; and I learned that sometimes determination can turn something unfortunate into something worth being proud of in the end. 

Right now my only problem is they are making up much slower than I want them too due to the Fair Isle. Despite this they are now much neater and on top of that are extra warm for the cold Alberta winters my friend will be enduring! I have five days and counting to finish them! Wish me luck!

If you want a good tutorial on intarsia knitting go to

I love sock yarn!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I love sock yarn, yes I do. I love sock yarn, how about you?

Mel here, blogging for Rachel. Like Shawna, Rachel and I go way back. All the way to 1995 at Hyanto, in fact. Which is both scary and really neat. I love the fact that we’ve kept in touch all these years. And while I am not nearly as good at knitting as she is, Rachel and her knitting are very much a part of why I learned to knit 5 years ago.

I started off, as most new knitters do, knitting with worsted weight yarns. Wool, and cotton. Thick and nubbly and solid and variegated. I knit my first ever pair of socks out of worsted weight wool. Then I thought I’d be brave and knit myself socks out of sock yarn. This led me to a discovery. One that feels a little secret and silly, but is true none the less. I hate knitting socks. Hate it. But I love sock yarn!

This here is my sock yarn stash. Not super impressive in quantity, I know. But I make up for it in quality! Some is from dyers that work in very limited quantities. I love it. It’s fine and silky and oh so soft.

What, you may be asking yourself, does one do with sock yarn if you hate knitting socks? My favourite thing to knit with sock yarn is shawls. Here in Canada, it’s almost always cool in the evenings (current heat in the GTA notwithstanding), and shawls are lovely things to have on hand. If they’re small, they fold up inside your purse, ready for evening to fall.

I am currently working on a Multnomah shawl, knit in Three Irish Girls “Sheepnuts” colourway. “Sheepnuts” was a limited edition dye that they did for the 2010 Olympics, and features natural yarn with tones of gold, silver, and bronze. This is what it’s looking like so far:

If you’re like me and have a love for sock yarn and a secret (or not so secret) loathing of knitting socks, be sure to check out the Ravelry group Sock Yarn Lovers Who Don’t Make Socks. These ladies and gents are always discussing great projects, many which only use one skein of lovely yarn. Be out! Be proud! Knit a shawl! Or armwarmers, or a hat, or mittens…

Guest blogging from Vancouver!

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Hello from sunny B.C! I’m Shawna guesting in for the travelling Rachel. I met Rachel WAAAY back in 1996 when she was my counsellor at my first year at Hyanto….I have such fond memories returning year after year and everytime waterfront Rachel was there. She was pretty much awesome…still is! She even once saved my sister from heat stroke over ICQ. She’s a whole lot of the reason I went into lifeguarding and why I wanted to work the waterfront at Hyanto some day..which I did eventually! But time as passed and taken me far from Ontario…luckily the internet keeps us all together!

I’m not actually currently knitting….I’m arm deep in crocheting for my wedding! I’m getting married in October and a few weeks ago decided that crocheting the flowers for the wedding was a fantastic idea! And so far it’s going very well. I’ve been focused on the boutineers and corsages and it’s going really well. After a few false starts with the wrong yarns I’ve settled on my types and gauges and now am moving through them.

Wedding Flowers!

I need to make about 30 and it takes maybe 30-40 minutes to make one. Which is much harder than it seems because the weather here is so amazing and the last thing I want to do is sit inside…. However these need to get done!

I’m considering crocheting an entire bouquet….but I’m really putting that off until I’m done all the individual flowers…I’m not sure why…

I got the original idea from this site. So we’ll see if I continue on to make the whole bouquet.

I’m working on at least 3 other projects at the same time! So I may post again!

Thanks for reading!

You can follow me and my life (and Ravelry, Twitter…etc.) through my blog.

Proud to be a guest

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Sheep Dog Trials at Grass Creek Park were awesome!  10 years in Kingston, and 1st time visiting the spectacular event.  I too, was defeated in the struggle to buy or not to buy…I bought…4x 100gr bags of Alpaca roving from Silver Cloud Alpaca’s.  Although, not at all surprised by my purchase.  I planned ahead and accepted the fate of my cash as I was putting it in my wallet.

I’ve loaded up my existing stash with a few more bags of roving and am about to start working my way through.  I’ve already broken my golden rule of “start and finish a project” before buying more roving.

This is what’s on my wheel right now (Superwash merino/bamboo blend).  The wonderful features of blending bamboo with wool is it’s softness which can be compared to cashmere.  It’s also breathable and feels great against the skin.  The thermal regulating fibres expand when warm to allow your skin to breathe and contract when cold to keep the heat in.  I plan on using this fibre for bulky socks for the winter to lounge in.

I have spun a little of this before I switched bobbins to work on an Aplaca baby hat and mitts.

If you’d like to see the toque and mitts, check out