Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Days of Dysfunctional Summer

Water Sprite Suit from “The Children’s Book” 1935

Summer is coming!

Sure, it’s hard for those of us stuck in the Great White North to believe that right now, with all the snow piled up outside our windows. But it’s true. Summer is a mere four months away and that’s barely enough time to begin planning your children’s beach-side humiliation.

If you don’t start now, you’ll only have a half-finished Sprite Suit come August, and your well-adjusted, happy children won’t need a psychiatrist when they’re grown. Face facts, dysfunctional families now outnumber the so-called normal ones. So, if you want your children to fit in with the cool kids, you need to knit up this suit now to ensure a summer of sand, sun and suffering.

One day, your children will thank you.*

*Handmade by Mother is not responsible should your grown children’s gratitude be expressed by replying to your Christmas cards with cease and desist letters.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Water Sprite Suit No. 780

Size 1-2 Years
The perfect age! There are just two times in your life when you will be blissfully unconcerned with what you wear. The first is when you’re too young to read fashion magazines:

And the second is when you’re old enough to know that supermodels are the true fashion victims.

MATERIALS – Bear Brand or Bucilla Cassimere Sport Yarn,
1 ball Main Color, 1 ball Contrasting Color.
1 pair Bucilla 14-inch Steel Knitting Needles, Size 1, Article 3499.
Be careful with those steel needles. I own several, and their points have a distressing habit of getting sharper with use. Eventually, you’re either constantly snagging wool on them or sticking their thorn-like tips through your fingers.

So, do your best not to injure yourself, as blood is not a positive addition to most fibre projects.
2 Bucilla Steel Needles, Sock Size, No. 14, Article 3494.
Unless you think you might have cancer, in which case stabbing yourself with your needles might save your life!
1 Bucilla Steel Crochet Hook, Size 4, Article 4300.

Gauge: 8 stitches = 1 inch, 12 rows = 1 inch.

With contrasting color and the small steel needles, cast on 64 sts; work in stockinette stitch (k 1 row, p 1 row) for 14 rows; break off yarn, leaving an end to sew with. With main color work 8 rows, with contrasting color 8 rows. Break off contrasting color and change to the large needles; work 2 rows even. Increase 1 st at both ends in next row, and in every 12th row thereafter, until there are 5 increases at each side (74 sts on needle).
If you lose count, you will only shame yourself, and not your child.
Work 7 rows even after the last increase. Bind off 4 sts at beginning of each of the next 4 rows, 2 sts at beginning of each of the following 10 rows, and 1 st at beginning of every row until 22 sts are left on needle. Work 5 rows even and then bind off.

Make a duplicate piece. Sew (or weave) the 2 halves together at crotch.
If you were planning to weave the crotch, putting the last 22 stitches on a spare needle would have been preferable to binding them off. Given that you were following the instructions carefully, it’s likely too late now and you’ll just have to put a seam in there.

Better hope your child isn’t the sort who acts like sock seams are toe-eating monsters.
Sew sides together. Turn in the first 6 rows around waist and hem. Work a row of single crochet around legs.

Straps – With main color and the fine needles, cast on 2 sts, k 1 row, turn, k 2 sts in each st. Next row, k 2 sts in first st, k 1, p 1, k 2 sts in last st; turn, k 2 sts in first st, p 1, k 1, p 1, k 1, k 2 sts in last st (8 sts on needle). Continue to work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, and to increase at beginning and end of every row, until there are 14 sts on needle. Work even in ribbing for 3 ¾ inches. K together the first 2 sts and the last 2 sts in every row until 2 sts are left; fasten off. Make a duplicate piece. Cast on 14 sts for the long strap, work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, until strap measures 23 inches; bind off.
While the halter straps are by far the most bizarre looking part of this swimsuit, they’re also the most practical. Much to your child’s chagrin, this handmade swimwear won’t easily float off their body and disappear into the surf.
Fold a pointed strap double and sew to center of front (see illustration), with one point on right side and the other on under side. Sew second pointed strap in same way to center of back. Insert the long strap in loops, join ends and tack to loop on back.
Now stuff your child into the suit and take lots of photos. Have the pictures blown up and laminated, so you can bring them out at every big event: birthdays, Christmases, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings. Revel in the sweet revenge for years of sticky fingers, destroyed furniture and sleepless nights.

I mean, revel in the photographic proof that you were a good parent, and that your child never once doubted your fashion sense.

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It’s Almost National Sweater Day!

Sherbet Sweater Pattern (Lea 067) from Laine Dor Yarns, Montreal, c. 1985

On Thursday, February 9th, the World Wildlife Fund is asking everyone in northern climes to turn down the heat and wear a sweater to slow global warming and save the Earth. According to their Sweater Day website: “If every Canadian lowered the heat a few degrees this winter, it'd be like taking 300,000 vehicles off the road!”

True, wearing a sweater one day of the year isn’t likely to slow down the coming weather apocalypse. Still, it’s a nice idea, so in honour of this year’s Sweater Day, I give you a pattern straight from the sweater-iest decade of the last century – the 1980s!

Also known as the sweatiest decade.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

The first thing I noticed upon opening the pattern leaflet was that the directions inside were for a sweater with vertical stripes. Before I could panic, as the sweater pictured clearly had horizontal stripes, a scrap of paper floated out of the booklet.



Excuse me, but vertical instead of horizontal stripes are far more than just an inconvenience! My mother warned me that vertical stripes will make me look taller, and that men are intimidated by tall women.

An All-Caps Apology certainly isn’t going to make up for the fact that they’ve just tricked me into buying the striped sweater of spinsterhood!
No, that’s not intended to be a link. The pattern designer was very fond of the underline key on her manual typewriter.

Spinsters have to make their own fun somehow.
Instructions: For all sizes

Materials: 450 grams (16oz) col A and 50 grams (2oz) of col B & C. In Laine Dor Sherbert
Yes, you read that right. It’s Sherbert, not Sherbet which is French for … well, Sherbert. However, in a move calculated to make pure laine francophones everywhere weep, the company’s called Laine Dor, not d’Or.

Still, you can’t deny they made pretty wool, even if it’s not actually spun “of gold” (d’Or). It’s a shame the company doesn’t appear to have survived the eighties.
Needles: Susan Nates size 7.00 (Am size 10 ½) – or size required to obtain gauge and size 5.00 (Am size 8)

Gauge: 15 sts and 18 rows 10 cm (4’’)
I wonder if leaving the equals sign out of their gauge had something to do with Laine Dor’s demise.
To save time: Take time to check gauge.

Front & Back: (Worked form one cuff to the other)
Or substituting “form” for “from”.
With No. 5.00 needles, and col A, cast on 31 sts and work 2 ½’’ in k1 P1 ribbing.
Randomly capitalizing letters couldn’t have helped their stock market standing.
Change to size 7.00 needles and cont in st st inc 17 sts evenly spaced across 1st row. Work 18 sts A, 6 sts col B in rev st st and 24 sts col A. Inc 1 st at ea edge every 2nd row until work meas 22’’.
Normally, I leave all the typos in, because they’re hilarious. In this case, however, “Inc 1st at ea edge” seemed unnecessarily confusing so I added the all important st so it was clear you were increasing stitches.

Feel free to thank me by going back in time and buying me stock in MTV.

At the same time, when work meas 8 ½’’, position second stripe of 6 sts in col C, rev st st, 10 sts from 1st stripe.
This is why you should always read the entire pattern. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself picking a sweater apart from 22’’ back down to 8 ½''.

Is that weeping I hear? Women in the eighties did not weep!

They got physical!
When work meas 14 ½’’, position 3rd stripe of 6 sts in col C, rev st st, 12 sts from 2nd stripe. When work meas 20 ½’’ position 4th stripe of 6 sts in col C, rev st st, 14 sts from 3rd stripe. Cont in this pattern. When work meas 22’’, inc 18 sts at ea edge. Work even until work meas 26 ½’’. To shape neck, divide work in half (back and front). For the back, work even for 10’’. For the front, at neck edge, every 2nd row, dec 1 st 3 times. End 1st stripe. Work even for 7 ½’’, then, every 2nd row at neck edge, inc 1 st 3 times. Join back and front and work even for 4 ½’’. Dec 18 sts at ea edge. To shape sleeve, every 2nd row, dec 1 st at ea edge until work measures 24’’ join.
Just when I’ve gotten comfortable with “meas” for “measures”, they hit me with the whole word.

Good patterns like to keep you off balance like that. Every sentence is a new adventure, a new mystery.

For instance, what exactly does “dec 1 st at ea edge until work measures 24’’ join” mean? 24’’ from what? Join to what? It’s all so exciting!
At the same time, when work meas 6 ½’’ from neck, end 2nd stripe, when work meas 12 ½’’ from neck end 3rd stripe, when work meas 18 ½’’ from neck end 4th stripe, when work measures 24’’ from join…
Ah, they meant 24’’ from join. Those little prepositions are so important.
… sec 17 sts evenly spaced across next row. Change to size 5.00 needles and work 2 ½’’ in k1 P1 ribbing. Bind off.
No, that’s not “secure 17 sts”, although that’s how I first read it, too. It’s just “dec 17 sts” with an s substituted for d to keep things lively.
Finishing: Join sleeve and sid seams.
Abbreviations can be taken too far, however. Would it really have been so hard to write “side”?
With size 5.00 circular needles…
It's so considerate of the pattern designers not to mention circular needles in the materials list. For good health, you need to break up knitting sessions with exercise like running unexpected errands or tearing your hair out.
…and col A, pick up approx 72 sts around bottom border and work 3’’ in ks P2 ribbing. Bind off. With size 5.00 circular needles and col A pick up approx 36 sts around neck edge at work 1’’ in garter st. (k all rows). Bind off.
Pick up approx 36 sts around neck edge at… At what? What??

Oh well, at least the handy ABBREVIATIONS key will be helpful in figuring out all the “ea”s and “col”s and “meas”s.
ABBREVIATIONS: no. – numéro, pt – point, env – envers, endr – endroit, rep – répéter, m – mailles, rg (s) – rang (s), trav – travailler, term – terminer, aug – augmenter, ch – chaque, proch – prochain, comm – commencer, gl – glisser, rab – rabattre, cont – continuer, rel – relever, aig – aiguille, dim – diminuer.
Unless, for no apparent reason, the ABBREVIATIONS are provided in French.
NOTE: Be sure to buy sufficient yarn of each colour in the same dye lot number to complete the article.

The directions in this leaflet are carefully checked and rechecked to assure accuracy.

Yes, that’s assure accuracy. Because Laine Dor definitely didn’t check to ensure accuracy.
We cannot, however, be responsible for typographical errors or misinterpretations of instructions.
If by some chance our many typographical errors lead to a misinterpretation of the instructions, it’s your fault, not ours.

With this dedication to customer service, it’s shocking that Laine Dor’s still not around. Oh well, at least I’ll always have this misshapen, incorrectly striped sweater to remember them by.

Happy Sweater Day!

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stay Tuned for the Big Announcement After the Break!

Oh, how sweet! A pretty little sheep wandering over the green hills of Wales… I’m sure it won’t interrupt my big announcement.

As some of you may remember, I won third place in the 2009 International 3-Day Novel Contest for a book about zombies gate-crashing a Welsh bog-snorkelling competition. Well, I have some exciting news...

For my very exciting news:

Is it just me, or is that sheep looking at me funny?

Sorry, I got a bit distracted by fluffy cuteness. Time for the big announcement!

A small but feisty Canadian publisher called The Workhorsery has decided to publish my extensively revised and expanded novel!

Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies will be released this summer. It has action, romance, a plane crash, a pub crawl, and of course bog snorkelling. Plus, this book will help spread the all important message that zombies ARE people. Except when they’re bunnies. Or sheep.

Speaking of sheep, where did that cute little guy disappear to...



Read more!