Christine has been my BKFF (Best Knitting Friend Forever) since I started stalking her blog in early 2009, shortly after I found knitting. She has been my constant companion and enabler and is a truly wonderful and warm and giving person. And she has a wicked sense of humour.
The funny thing is that I've never actually met Christine IRL (which I think is internetspeak for "in real life"). We've skyped, and we iMessage and email a lot. But we've never actually met.
But I have one of her family album /scrapbook cards on the side of my fridge. The kids know who she is. When I mention "Christine" they say, "Is she the one on the fridge?"
There's someone on Rav whose ravatar said something like "I love my computer - all my friends live in it" [can't find it - even after searching TDS threads; probably the ravatar has changed]. And that's how it is. Christine is my internet friend, and my knitting bestie.
She knows me too well. She's the one who introduced me to project bags and notions pouches and MCN yarn. What can I say?
She keeps me organized.
So for my birthday, she sent me a pile of knitting awesome.
The first thing I opened was a skein of The Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering (75/20/5 MCN) in the Webster Grove colourway. It's a gorgeous smoky plum.
I think I might knit Angee by Cookie A out of it. I'm going to wind it this weekend.
Love. I prefer thinner yarns; Christine prefers slightly thicker yarns. For me, Plucky Knitter yarns (Primo Fingering and Plucky Feet) are just about perfect.
Well, there are many, many almost perfect yarns, but the Plucky Knitter fingering weight options are up there in the top 10.
So I love, love, love it.
Christine also sent me the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits mag. I'm not even sure if this is available in Canada. I'm guessing that if I went to one of the two yarn shops within a 100-km vicinity, I wouldn't find it. And I think that Roo mentioned on her blog that it's not available in the UK. (?!?).
The Knit Girllls did a review of the digital version of the magazine, but the photos were so dark that it was difficult for them to tell what the actual finished objects were like. The magazine, I'm happy to report, has much lighter photos, and everything is crystal clear. I love some of the patterns, including the Fred and George socks (which Roo did and which I adored) and the Narcissa socks. I really like Ginny's cardigan, but we know I'll never actually knit a sweater. If I had the patience for it, I'd knit the Severus Pullover for the Lad. And if I had the figure for it, as well as a double sweater quantity of yarn in an appropriate colour, I'd make myself the Lestrange Cloak.
The really cool thing about the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits mag is that it has some really interesting articles. [In my work, we'd refer to that as "a value-add"]. There's an interview with Jany Temime, the costume designer (or one of the costume designers) for the Harry Potter films.
There's an interview with Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits. You should check out her stuff. She has done an absolutely amazing Harry Potter knitted charm bracelet. 'Nuff said. Go look. [She also seems to be the originator of the Beekeeper's quilt].
There's an article on Harry Potter's Britain with gorgeous photos (including one of a cottage with a thatched roof in Cornwall that makes you want to walk through the pages right into the landsape).
And there's an intriguing article on the magic of knitted symbols.
So the whole magazine is a real treat. If you can find it, I suggest you pick up a copy. (Not sure whether the digital downloads are available everywhere -- that would be an acceptable substitute if you can't get the actual paper version).
The other things Christine sent (yes, I have digressed, but not to the point of no return) are things which help keep me and my knitting organized.
I'm not smart enough or trusting enough to just wing it with a pattern without knowing *exactly* what row I'm on. I know there are people who use apps to keep track of their rows, but that wouldn't work for me. In some cases, it is literally years between sock 1 and sock 2, and I need to know preciselly what kind of cast on, how many rows and what type of ribbing, the number of rows in the leg, the type of heel flap and number of rows, the number of rows in the foot, and the toe decreases I used. I'm not always good at following the pattern directions -- sometimes I like to improvise. I don't think an iPhone or iPad app would do that [keep track] for me in the same way. If I do it manually, I can use a little hooked figure to indicate decrease rows (or the upward rune hooked figure for increase rows).
With my primitive paper-based system, I can always pick up where I left off. Look at Rimefrost, for example. I had left sock #2 part way through the leg and didn't pick it up again for years.
No problem. I just flipped back in the appropriate knitting book (the first Moleskine) to see what I had done and where I left off.
Yes, it's primitive, but it works for me. And you know what they say about things not being broken and not needing to be fixed ...
When I started knitting, I used a Moleskine grid journal (about 5"x7") to keep track of what I was doing. The dogs have since chewed it up. (Of course).
Then I found the Blueline grid notebooks with graph paper on the right-hand side and lined paper on the left-hand side. That was okay, but you can't move the pages around.
Next I tried the Circa system by Levenger using letter-size graph paper, but it was just too big. The pages snap in and out with ease, but they get a little battered up, and don't stay in place.
Then Christine mentioned Russell + Hazell at some point. And I was hooked. They have binders and papers. And I'm a sucker for stationery.
The "mini" binders are about 3/4" thick (1.5 cm maybe?) and hold paper which is essentially 5.5 x 8.5 (I think it's basically half of an 8.5 x 11 sheeet). It's a pretty standard size for daytimers etc. It's like the iPad Mini compared to the iPad 2 or 3.
It's perfect. You can order graph paper ("grid" paper) or lined paper. You can also order tabs, monthly insert tabs, address sheets, and who knows what else. It's perfect. In fact, allow me to pass on the enablement. It's Russell + Hazel. The flagship store is in Minnesota, not far from where Christine lives.
I originally (several years ago) ordered the red-orange mini binder and some grid paper. That has been perfect. I can chart out what I need to, and it's small enough to be portable. Anything larger is just too big.
But at one point I spilled coffee on it. So the red-orange binder is a bit of a mess, and the remaining grid sheets were curled up and yellow. I replaced the binder with a lime green version, but the contents were still coffee stained.
So even though almost all of my remaining grid pages were coffee-stained, I had to continue using them. They were my favourite knitting book system, and I didn't have any extras.
Christine intuited this and sent me fresh, pristine grid paper. She also sent along three clear vinyl pockets (handy for tucking patterns into), as well as some self-adhesive pockets to go on the inside of the binders.
I can keep yarn tags / ball bands handy so I know what I'm knitting with. I can keep patterns there or other bits and pieces, such as business cards or whatever strikes my fancy.
She also sent a frog clip (amphibiaclip) which helps keep my place. (And which matches the tape measure she gave me).
And a pad of to-do list sticky notes.
My first item?
So now I am the queen of knitting organization.
Thank you, Christine. Not only for the wonderful birthday gifts, but for the years of friendship.