Sunday, March 20, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 38

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Thankfully this week has been a lot more successful than last week!

After repeated soaks and rinses, I was able to get the coffee stains almost entirely out of the baby blanket. After blocking (again) Gavin and I agreed that you'd never find the very faint discolorations unless you knew where to look. And besides, aren't babies messy little miracles? Chances are that young Chad - who was born last Monday  - will add some stains of his own to the blanket with regular use, right? So the blanket was packed up and mailed off. On the morning of his birth his "Oma" sent me a photo of the nursery and there in the crib was the baby quilt that my Mom and I made for his older sister almost ten years ago!

While knitting my second BFF sock at work, a co-worker admired sock one and tried it on. Glory be, it fit her! Good enough for me. Sock two has been completed, and I'll hand off the finished pair on Tuesday - finished with just a couple of yards to spare. There would NEVER have been enough yardage to make a pair of socks to fit my size 11 feet. Not a chance.

As promised I ripped Twisted Flower  back to the cuff and restarted the leg patterning. But that's about as far as I got. Seems like there weren't enough hours in the day to get any knitting done from Wednesday on!

And did I mention that my Ludwig socks were done? Yeah, they've been done for quite a while - I'm just now getting around to photographing and blogging them. I've already worn them and washed them :) Nothing like knitting and wearing Lorna's Laces to remind you as to why it's known to be the "cadillac of sock yarns". It is really gorgeous stuff!

On Friday morning I stumbled across a thread on Ravelry titled "Free to GTA Knitters" and, wow, a local knitter was destashing and giving away oodles of gorgeous yarn absolutely free. I was a bit late to the thread so most of the full skeins were spoken for, but there was a large lot of partial skeins of fingering weight sock yarn still up for grabs. I was on that in a hurry! Along with a handful of other Ravellers,  I met Annie of "JumperCables" at a Starbucks about 20 minutes from home to pick up my loot. She has awesome taste in yarn so I made out like a bandit. And, she kindly added a couple of full skeins to top up my haul so I'm rolling in yarn for the foreseeable future!

There were several shades of solid and tonal greens amongst the partial skeins so I decided to cast on a vanilla sock with a Fair Isle leg pattern. The patterns are from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting - aren't they gorgeous? I'm switching up the CC colour every round or two and loving the effect. And I'm already musing about how the next pair might look if I switch up the MC and the CC every few rounds. I'm a huge fan of Alice Stanmore's sweater patterns - although I've never knit one - so I thought to try working the patterns and colour choices into socks. Fun! This might be my next obsession.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 37

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Things went off the rails with Twisted Flower when I noticed a split stitch in a cable and decided to tink back to fix it. Easier said than done with darkish splitty yarn on tiny needles and a million tiny cables. In fact, I'm about to cry "Uncle" and rip back to the cuff to start over. This yarn is CoBaSi - a cotton, bamboo and silk blend - so is a bit splitty straight away. After salvaging it by frogging Darjeeling socks it got splittier and will likely be even splittier after another round of frogging. I might need to use lifelines to get through these socks! CRAP!

Never mind, I thought, I'll put that aside for a bit and cast on something else for instant gratification.  And what could be more quick and gratifying than a simple classic sock like BFF from a really luxurious yarn like Tosh Sock? So imagine my frustration when I discovered the yarn was badly frayed after knitting more than a dozen rounds. Okay, that's not insurmountable. But after knitting ten repeats of the leg I realized that there wasn't nearly enough yardage to knit the leg (or the foot) long enough to fit me. CRAP! That IS insurmountable. Short of adding a contrasting yarn my only choice was to knit a smaller sock, so that's what I did. Sock one is 55 grams, with 55 grams remaining for sock two so I should just squeak through. This finished pair will be donated to charity.

But the biggest disaster of my knitting week happened on Wednesday morning when I dropped and shattered my coffee mug splashing boiling hot coffee across a large area of my living room. Last week's finished baby blanket was sitting on the ottoman awaiting a nice box for packaging and shipping to the expectant mother, and it was splashed with coffee. The stained blanket has been soaked. It's had repeated baths alternating dish detergent water and vinegar water. It's soaking one more time now. The stains are hardly noticeable now, but if they still remain I'll try commercial laundry stain removers this afternoon. And if all that fails, it looks like I'll be bleaching it white. CRAP!

So that's been my week. I'm almost afraid to do anything or touch anything else. They say bad luck comes in threes - and I've had my three - so maybe it's safe. Here's hoping next week is less disastrous :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 36

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Over the last several days the blanket border was knit on 4 circulars, making it hard to visualize off the needles. Late Thursday, once the final stitch was bound off I was excited to spread it out to see the finished blanket. But excitement switched to dismay and disappointment in a heartbeat - the borders were lumpy and distorted the centre panel. Oh no!

My first instinct was to rip it out and start over with another pattern. "You're nuts", said Gavin, "it looks fine." Hmmmmm.... maybe a clear head and fresh eyes were needed? I consoled myself by setting the blanket aside and cruising through alternative patterns on Ravelry, just in case.

The next morning I wasn't quite as unhappy with the blanket. There were some parts of it that I was happy with, and folded this way and that, it didn't look bad. And maybe, just maybe, I'd like it more after blocking? Yes, let's wash it, dry it and then decide.

Note to self: never underestimate the miracle of blocking. A trip through the wash was just the ticket to relax the borders and smooth out all the lumpiness. The blanket now drapes beautifully! Phew! I am soooooo much happier with it now!

A couple of things I should mention:

• the yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima. It is a dream to knit and after blocking it drapes beautifully - there is no woolly springiness to it! If you use this yarn though, do take time to block your FO. Not just to smooth it out, open it up and improve the drape, but also because it shed an astonishing amount of lint on that first wash!

• as written, the spindle cables were meant to continue to the corners and be incorporated into the increases but I chose to leave the corner sections as plain stockinette. My thinking was that they would finish more square and less ruffly. I think with this yarn I could have gone either way, but I like the look of it nonetheless.

• as written, the pattern calls for a decorative picot bind off. After working several inches of that I decided to rip back and change the bind off. In cotton the picots just seemed awkwardly lumpy. I looked through a variety of bind off options shown here, but in the end decided to simply bind off in pattern. I didn't want it ruffled, I didn't want it fussy, I didn't want it too tight and I didn't want it to detract from the spindle cables. I'm happy with that decision too.

• my intention was to knit a square blanket and I wrongly assumed that there would be more ease/drape in the length than in the width. Boy was I ever wrong! The blanket stretched considerably more in the width than the length with blocking and my resulting blanket is very rectangular (44" x 36"). It might have been a teensy bit nicer as a perfectly square blanket, but at least now it's so rectangular that it looks intentionally rectangular. I can live with that.

And yes, the blanket's done before my cousin's baby is due! Hurray! Tomorrow I'll package it up and send it off :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 35

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Almost the entirety of last week has been lost in a sniffy sneezy flu-filled coma. Not a single stitch has been added to any sock project. Trying to knit from charts makes my head pound.

The only project that's seen any progress is this blanket for my cousin's baby, due mid March. The centre stockinette square is complete - although I abbreviated it to a slightly rectangular shape to leave enough yarn to complete the borders. As you can imagine, with 620+ stitches in each round, border progress is slooooooow. Slow but steady wins the race though, right?

The good news is that I'm emerging from the fog of illness. My temperature was nearly normal all day yesterday and today, so far, I'm fever-free! The bad news is that Gavin is showing signs of coming down with the same thing. So it's soup and hot liquids for the foreseeable future around here. And lots of blanket knitting!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 34

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

I've cast on the first sock for Twisted Flower but that's as far as I got. Instead I've been dividing my knitting time between Ludwig socks and a baby blanket.

The baby's due soon (my cousin's baby just to clarify; I'm waaaay too old for that sort of thing), but the pima cotton is very slippery on metal needles and my hands get sore after a handful of rows, so it's slow progress with a little more knit each morning and evening.

Ludwig, on the other hand, has been a breath of fresh air!

It's a wonderful thing when the yarn and the pattern play well together and I'm loving every minute of that! The flamingo pinks might be overwhelming on their own, but alternating with natural white stripes they're bright and fresh. I was a bit worried that there wasn't enough contrast between the light pinks and the natural white, but with one sock done I think the stripes hold up pretty well. I'm thrilled with how these socks are knitting up!

And how refreshing to try some new construction techniques!

The cuff is knit on fewer stitches than the leg - a row of increases is worked to start the leg. As a result the ribbing of the cuff is nicely opened up and snugly stretched around the calf. Similarly a row of decreases starts the toe box to keep the toe area nice and snug. Speaking of the toe, the decreases accelerate so that the toe is more rounded than the shape created by steady decreases every alternate round. Either shape works fine with my long pointy toes, but for those with daintier toes the more rounded shape might be preferable.

Rather than slipping stitches on each side of the heel flap to pick up later, those are garter ridges that are picked up. The result is tighter in my opinion - sometimes the slipped stitches can look a bit loose and stretched open.

The gusset decreases travel across the bottom of the heel and foot to converge at the centre of the sole. I've never seen this before, but it is a nice way to keep the stripes in order. It might be what's known as a "tear drop heel" but I'm not sure. It's very cool looking though!

A big thank you goes out to Dee at Pointy Little Sticks. The pink Lorna's Laces sock yarn was a gift from her, and it was this yarn that inspired my to buy the book Op-Art Socks especially for the Ludwig pattern. I've been enjoying the yarn and the pattern book tremendously! In fact, I'm already poking through my yarn basket to see what might suit some of the other patterns in the book!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 33

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

As of last night my Thelonious socks are done, and they are disappointingly non-matching. To be fair I've known since I started sock two that they wouldn't match - sock one started with a kelly green and sock two started with a dark mallard greenish-teal -  but I thought that was a gradient sock yarn cake thing. I thought that if I started sock one with the yarn tail on the outside of the cake and if I started sock two with the yarn tail on the inside of the cake, that the resulting pair of sock were supposed to match.

Not only do they not match, but as far as I can detect there would be no way for me to make them match, even if I had enough yarn to attempt it. I'll admit, I'm a bit bugged by that.

Que sera, sera. The socks are done with about 2 grams of yarn leftover. And they're really nice socks, if you can embrace the non-matchyness of them. I'm especially pleased by the length of the leg. Seems to me that Cookie A tends towards shorter legs in her designs than I like. In addition, the sample knits in the book Knit. Sock. Love. are typically knit at the smallest size, which can lead to unexpected results at larger sizes. In this case the leg was unexpectedly long at the medium size -  a happy outcome in my opinion!

Still no update on the yarn scratchiness. This finished pair is in the laundry pile - we'll see if they soften up with a wash or two. I'm not worried though; to me the yarn feels just like Briggs & Little Toughy before a first wash, so I have every confidence that a few washes and wears will be the cure for what ails them!

So what's next? The next Knit. Sock. Love. pattern I'll cast on is Twisted Flower.  Yes, I'm definitely in the mood for an intricate twisted stitches design. There's some CoBaSi sock yarn to be salvaged by frogging the Darjeeling socks I knit last year which should give me exactly the stitch definition I'm after with this pattern. But before I get to that, there are a couple other projects requiring my attention for the next week or two. With the better part of two days left on my long weekend and with temps of -25° keeping me inside the house, there should be lots of progress for my next update!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

what was I thinking?

For the last few days, when I'm not knitting socks, I'm working on a baby blanket for an expectant Mom in my extended family. And wondering with every stitch about my decision-making ...

THE PATTERN: I looked at dozens of patterns but kept coming back to Sleeping Beauty Baby Blanket. I love the simplicity of it with its large centre stockinette square, seed stitch borders and ruffled cabled edges. Okay, that's the one. But if you look at the project notes there are numerous red flags about the stitch counts in the borders and the corners not adding up. And then there's that 4 square foot panel of stockinette... well that's gonna be a test of my patience and determination!!

THE YARN: Although the pattern is written for worsted weight I definitely wanted a much lighter blanket, easy to pack and carry, and which would be suitable for swaddling a baby when carried, sun-blocking a carriage or stroller when out on the town and possibly even as nursing shawl. So sport weight or DK I thought.

Another consideration was that many of the Ravellers who knit this blanket mentioned blocking their FOs quite aggressively to keep those borders from scrunching up. In light of that, I wasn't sure about a superwash wool. Hailey at Knit-o-matic suggested Pima Cotton rather than wool as it would be more inclined to drape and relax - that sounds right, so that's the yarn. Other Ravellers who used the same yarn used 4-5 skeins so I bought the last five skeins of this colour and set about casting on.

THE CAST ON: The first instruction is to cast on 120 sts provisionally. Well that makes sense seeing as I'm going to need to pickup those stitches later to add the borders, but my go-to provisional cast on is crocheted and it's really not quick. Never mind, I thought, I'll suck it up, but after casting on all those stitches and after knitting half a dozen rows I decided it was too small.

* deep breath * Yes I ripped out all of that in order to start again with 160 sts. But this time I decided to hunt around on the internet for a better, quicker more painless provisional cast on option. SCORE! This long-tail provisional cast on is way faster and easier.  So that's settled and I'm on my way.

... but remember: I bought the last five skeins of this colour and then turned around and increased the size of the blanket by a third. Yep, this entire blanket is going to be an extended session of yarn chicken. * sigh *