Buttons

buttons

Buttons – to me – are like light fixtures and draperies – I don’t normally pay any attention to them. I only notice them if something is wrong, like a bulb has burnt out, a curtain has been ripped by kitty claws, or a button is missing from a shirt.

Most of my knitting has turned out to be button-less, as I stick mainly to hats, mittens and socks.  

This summer, though, I spied a cute cardigan pattern with detachable sleeves. I thought it could be just the ticket for using up some leftover yarn in my stash. As it turned out, that cute cardigan pattern was very button-intensive.

There are many ways to knit buttonholes. Some patterns use a yarn-over method, like in a lace pattern. Others use casting off stitches then adding them in the next row.  There’s also a tangly method involving wrapping the yarn then turning the work, which baffles me. At one point during the cardigan project, I made a buttonhole by poking my finger through a loose stitch and just wiggling the hole a bit bigger. Hey, it worked.

Then there’s finding the right buttons. Turns out there are probably more button options in terms of size and style than there are yarn options. The button selection at one local fabric store kind of freaked me out.

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And the sizing of buttons. I discovered you really need to take your finished garment with you to that button wall and try fitting the buttons to the holes, not the other way around.

I mean, who knew?

However, all this button brow knitting has made me more aware of the world of clothing fasteners.  

At gift shops and craft fairs, I notice a lot of one-of-a-kind ceramic buttons. They’re really nice, but I draw the line at searching for a knitting project that suits a button.

The fabric shop where I buy buttons also features button grab-bags for a dollar or two. I picked one up on the way to the cash register.

They are perfect for projects that need buttons, but not buttonholes.

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A few months back, I was checking out the yarn selection in a small gift shop in Corner Brook. I didn’t find any yarn I liked, but there was a selection of really cute, quirky little buttons.  

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They might come in handy – eventually.  

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Sweaters

I usually knit for the extremities. Most often, I enjoy making hats, socks and mittens. Basically anything that covers the head, hands or feet and can be made with one skein.

But when I’m browsing through patterns online or in magazines, I get some serious sweater envy.  

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There are some spectacular sweater designs out there….from contemporary spins on  traditional fishermen and Scandinavian patterns, to cutting edge modern looks.

The February Lady Sweater has been in my Ravelry queue for a couple of years, and over the winter, I finally made one.  

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I love it, and I wear it everywhere. My friend, Danielle, loves it too so then I made one for her.

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We’re both really happy with our sweaters, but I have to say, I found knitting them a bit of a drag after a while. Even though the sweaters I made took only four skeins of Cascade 220, it seemed like I was knitting each project for an eternity.

In the case of Danielle’s sweater, double eternity, since I had an unravelling misadventure with that one.

I like the smaller projects so much because they are short-term. By the time I get bored with a pattern or a yarn or a colour, I am finished. Generally, an accessory takes about one skein of yarn. So if whatever I’m working on is not my jam, it’s a small investment.

I also still fret a bit over fit. Despite making gauge swatches, I’m still never sure if the sweater is the right size. And for a sweater to look good, the fit has to be good. Hats, mittens and socks can fit a wide range of sizes.

However, I think I have found a cardigan compromise.

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A few people I know have had babies recently. After mulling over what to knit, I found a one-skein sweater pattern that went well with some Berocco Vintage I had in my stash.

A fashion forward – and short-term – project.

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With my adventures in sweaterland, I have changed the way I look at all those super fashionable sweater patterns.

I now look at that edgy asymmetrical cardigan the way I look at a home decorating magazine – I may love that mid century modern dining room – but I have no illusions that I will recreate it in my house.

The Shirley A. Scott Knitters’ Library

Many of us get our knitting patterns online these days, but Shirley “Shirl the Purl” Scott kicks it old school – and she has amassed an impressive collection of knitting books.

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Shirl has been doing a bit of downsizing lately, and she has donated much of her large collection of knitting books to Spindrift Handknits.

I was lucky enough to be amongst a select group of townie knitters invited to the Spindrift Handknits HQ for the opening of the Shirley A. Scott Knitters’ Library.  

After the customary coffee, tea and cookies, we broke out our knitting, and sat down to listen to Shirl’s short and colourful talk about her collection.

Shirl had a long career as a librarian, and she has assembled a collection of knitting books with that trade’s attention to detail.

Most of her books focus on North Atlantic knitting.

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There are books on Shetland,  Fair Isle and German Sweaters. Estonian and Norwegian Mittens. Swedish socks. American midwestern/Scandinavian jackets. There’s also the scattered Japanese lace manual thrown into the mix.

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It’s all a bit mind blowing.

A few fun facts from Shirl:

American knitters are credited with most of the English language translations of these northern knitting patterns.

Most knitting books are published with a copyright, but not a copyright date, to make knitters less likely to judge whether a pattern is in or out of fashion.

Japanese patterns rely mostly on graphs and numbers, so even if you can’t read Japanese, you can probably figure out a pattern.

Shirl, goddess of knitting that she is, is like the rest of us mere mortal knitters in at least one respect. Although she has amassed this amazing collection of knitting patterns, she has attempted only a handful of them. We all have good intentions.

We finished off the afternoon with a round of knitting trivia and another round of coffee and sweet treats.  

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I feel like I have entered a secret society of sorts; kind of like the Freemasons, but with wool.

The Shirley A. Scott Knitters’ Library is accessible through Spindrift Handknits by request.