Sunday, October 15, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 16


After a lengthy hiatus I'm back to my Somewhere Socks. This week I finished the first sock and made a good start on the second. I'm motivated to finish these quickly as they'll make the perfect gift for a friend born at the beginning of November.

The yarns are scraps from my stash. The pattern sample is shown from a rainbow of colours  - which is consistent with the Somewhere Over the Rainbow theme of the pattern as part of the Socks from Oz collection - but I was curious to see how the pattern would knit up in a range of neutrals. Thinking ahead, I ordered my scrap colours so that the cuff, heels and toes would fall as Kroy black yarn, since it's nice and sturdy. Quite handsome I think, and Gavin agrees, so that's saying something.

The pattern is super easy; it uses slipped stitches to create the pattern rather than stranded colourwork. It goes quick too, but oh, all those ends! Two for every colour change, so 28 ends to weave in per sock. *sigh*

After "finishing" the first of my Tuxie Love socks, I asked a friend to try it on just to make sure I'd guesstimated the size right. DISASTER. She couldn't stretch the leg of the sock over her heel. NOOOOOO! The sock promptly landed in time out while I swallowed my disappointed and reasoned out how I planned to fix it. Now that a few days have passed I'm calmer and am thinking that I'll cut the cuff off the sock, and a row of still-to-be-determined increases, adjust the colourwork chart to knit over the increased number of stitches and then reknit the cuff from the bottom up. It was my own fault. I knit the leg on smaller than specified needles because my yarn was a very light fingering. I was asking for trouble.

On Thursday afternoon I dropped in on a local knitting group "Warm Up Haldimand" who meet on the second Thursday of each month in Hagersville. The info I found online indicated that the group knits for local distribution, so I thought I'd better cast on something suitable like mittens. Seems to me that sock yarn might be just perfect for mitts - it's 75-80% wool so it's warm and a good insulator, it's 20-25% nylon so it's durable, and I've got lots of it! The green yarn is a handpainted yarn that I bought impulsively. It's been sitting in my stash for years for two reasons: it insisted on pooling no matter what pattern I tried, and the colourway was so much prettier in the skein than knitted. Much nicer as mittens, I think! As for the knitting group, the ladies were all very pleasant and some quite entertainingly funny, so it was nice to meet some local knitters. I'll definitely go again!

All in all it was a pretty quiet week, other than the dishwasher fail. Turns out our cabinet opening is non-standard and the dishwasher I ordered will not fit. That dishwasher has been returned and now we're trying to figure out whether we can source a dishwasher that will fit, whether we can make alterations to our kitchen to standardize the opening to fit a dishwasher without rebuilding all the cabinets, or, whether we were just not meant to have a dishwasher. Que sera, sera. After all, hand-washing dishes for the two of us is not that onerous.

We had a furnace inspection done and it was confirmed to us that the built-in electronic air cleaner was kaput. We had been alerted to that by the Home Inspector before we bought, so the news was not unexpected. The technician removed it and replaced it with a filter assembly. Otherwise the furnace was given a clean bill of health, so that's great. And the filter for the new assembly is a standard size, so we can buy replacements at local hardware stores so that's great too.

I hope everyone's week has also been mostly great! See you next weekend!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 15


My Crosshaven socks seemed to be going swimmingly until Wednesday, when it was clear that I was facing a stunning loss at Yarn Chicken! Given that the skein I was knitting was labelled as 360M (400 yds) running short of yarn was the last thing I expected. In fact, as I was knitting the second sock I was musing about how I might use up the leftover yarn... a halloween-themed colourwork motif, maybe?

So much for that idea. I knit as far as I could on sock two, then picked out the grafted toe of sock one to rip back a half repeat on the foot. I salvaged enough yarn from the shortened sock one to complete a matching sock two. That's the good news. The bad news is that the shortened socks are now too small for my giant size 11 feet. Onto the gift pile they go - they'll fit someone with feet sized 7-9 I'd think.

The last couple of weeks we've been watching Ozark on Netflix, throughout which I've been knitting away at a vanilla-isa sock: Tuxie Love. I did have to pay attention through the colourwork on the leg, but the rest is vanilla enough to knit in a dark room, even with dark yarn.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Somewhere socks. I'm super happy with the way my yarn scraps are playing together, so my plan is to finish up sock one and get started on sock two this week. Hopefully I'll have something to show you in my next post.

The car has been acting up this week - an O2 sensor needs replacing and as a consequence the car is using too much gas. We're at the point where the car is so old that it's a decision about whether to spend money on it or trade it in for something new. The mechanic seems to think that we could get another year or two from the car so we're going to do the repairs and see. We did take some 2018 models out for test drives which has made us yearn for a new car with all the mod cons - in dash nav, heated seats, keyless entry, emergency braking... On the other hand, if the car lasts another year, imagine how awesome the 2019 models might be!

Gavin installed the dishwasher that was here when we moved in, only to discover that there is a part broken which causes it to leak. The dishwasher model was discontinued a few years ago; the cost to order the replacement part would be more than the value of the machine. Another consideration is that new dishwashers are far more water efficient and energy efficient than they used to be. So a new dishwasher has been ordered and is scheduled for installation on Friday. It uses 3.3 gallons per cycle (versus 18 gallons per cycle for the old one), and about $30 in electricity per year. With just the two of us, we only run the dishwasher about once a week so it won't even cost that. We have 16 place-settings of dishes and cutlery so that we can easily go a week without washing dishes. In theory, we should end up saving $$ on water. And won't it be nice to get the dirty dishes off the kitchen counter and out of sight!

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada which we are spending quietly at home. It's been unseasonably warm, so warm that I went swimming in the lake yesterday! Autumn chores are calling - especially raking up all the leaves and chestnuts. I hope your weekend is as pleasant and peaceful!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 13


It's been crazy record-setting hot here over the past week, Sweaty fingers and hands make knitting unpleasant, so progress is a bit slow. Sounds like the heat wave will end Wednesday, at which time seasonal fall weather will finally arrive. The extra blast of summer was pretty nice though - swimming and paddling every day!

I did cast on a vanilla sock - Tuxie Love - which I've added to my list. It's simple pattern with a bit of colourwork at the top of the leg and a bit more at the end of the foot. And it's perfect choice for a friend with a birthday at the beginning of November, with her beloved tuxedo cat Lucy! Not much to show yet; if I finish the colourwork on the leg before the next post, then I'll snap and post a photo.

Mostly I've worked on Crosshaven socks. On Sunday morning I kitchenered the first sock and cast on the second. I've knit the design as written, except that I made the heel flap longer to accommodate my pointy heel and high instep. Perfect fit and gorgeous pattern. I should mention that in the photo I am wearing the right sock on my left foot so that you can see the mock cable detail down the side of the leg and foot. The left sock is a mirror image.

Reviewing my list I'm feeling badly about how long those Somewhere Socks have been hibernating, so perhaps I'd better find some time to spend with them :) After Crosshaven though, and perhaps before Gschnitztal. We'll see.

That's it for me today! Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 12


Not much to show for this week. Construction around here cleared the bedroom with the closet wherein Gschnitztal awaited, so I was able to get to it and take a photo. It's lovely yarn - so soft and smooshy that it must almost certainly contain cashmere. What a gorgeous colour way too, mostly purple with subtle flashes of lighter and darker purple, and bit of blue. But it is dark. Darker even than the photo. And the pattern is exactly my cup of tea - fiddly twisted stitches and somewhat chart-y... and a nice change from the colourwork socks I just finished.

Unfortunately I had to set this WIP aside for two reasons:

i) The evening light in the new place is terrible! I find it impossibly frustrating to attempt to knit anything dark or fiddly. So right now good light hours are being allocated to my Crosshaven socks. Once they're done, Gschnitztal socks will move to the front burner.

ii) Both Gschnitztal and Crosshaven feature left and right crossed stitches, but the way the patterns are written, the stitches are worked differently. I find it too confusing to switch back and forth between the patterns, so I've decided to complete my Crosshaven socks before getting back into my Gschnitztal socks.

What is clear to me is that I'd better cast on ANOTHER pair of socks - this time in a vanilla pattern with light coloured yarn that I can knit effortlessly in poor evening light while watching TV. So my task this aft is to sort through my yarn and patterns to make some decisions about that. Well. later this aft when I get back from a swim in the lake. The weather this weekend has been too gorgeous to spend inside!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 11

Well, that was a long break! We've been a construction zone here at the new place, with work proceeding full speed ahead towards complete winterization and insulation. Turns out I quite enjoy hand digging trenches. Ripping out old soggy and mouse-infested fibreglass batts? Not so much! Anyhow, the infill walls between the concrete piers are finished on the south side and well underway on the north side. With any luck the spray foam guys will do their thing within a few weeks. WINTER IS COMING!

I have managed a bit of knitting here and there too. My Grey is the New Black Socks are done. Gavin really likes them, which is great. I've done this pattern before but this time I was more careful about twisting my stitches at all the M1s, so there are no holes. I'm a real fan of this pattern: it's nicely vanilla, with an interesting heel and perfect for self-patterning yarn. 

Also done are my Almost There and Back Again Socks. I call them "Almost" because I made my own chart for the colourwork with more gradual transitions from one colour to the other. Again, this is a nicely vanilla sock. After knitting sock one, I weighed my yarn and it was clear that I wouldn't have enough if I knit an identical twin, so I reversed the colours. I like 'em this way but Gavin is horrified. "You'll have to knit two more" he said, but never mind. The colourwork on the leg makes them a bit of a tug over the heel, but not too bad. In retrospect it would have been a good idea to go up a needle size more on that section.

Not shown are my Gschnitztal Socks. I picked out a subtle tonal royal purple MCN yarn from stash with no ball band for these socks. Originally I cast on with carbon fibre needles but found there wasn't enough contrast between the dark needles and dark yarn, so now I've switched to shiny metal needles. One round has been worked since the needle switch, and it's definitely easier. If I could find some pointier light coloured shiny sock needles, that would be even better. Hopefully I can show you some progress on these next week.

And finally I have the first three repeats done on the leg of my Crosshaven Socks. I cast these on Thursday while waiting outside my nephew's school for the final bell and haven't been able to put them down. The yarn was an impulse buy - Mineville Wool Project #2909 Sock in a bright tonal orange. Very autumnal, don't you think? It's a heavy fingering, so not really my first choice for socks, but I couldn't resist the colours. Besides, it's a new yarn to me, and it's Canadian, so why not try it?

The Crosshaven pattern is one of several socks from designer Rich Ensor in my favourites. This one has a striking travelling stitch pattern and it looked to me like it might have a bit more ease around the heel than some of his other patterns. It's easier than it looks - although there is a lot of purling - and I'm quite enjoying it. 

For these socks I'm using Addi Flipstix needles for the first time. They are ultra lightweight which I like, but they do seem to bend and distort very easily, which I do not like. One end of each needle is pointier than the other - the idea is that you can choose which end to use - but I find myself always opting for the sharper tip. Time will tell whether the blunter tips will ever find use. They are a slightly matte finish so they're a bit grippier than shiny metal needles but not as grippy as wood or carbon fibre needles. So far I like them fine but I'm not sure they're worth the price.

Through the upcoming week I expect I'll be knitting the Crosshaven socks. And then get back to finish up the other two WIPs before I cast on anything else! But if the weather cooperates my attention will be on construction projects and not knitting. Have a great week, and stay safe if you're in Irma's path!!



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 3

That's the first pair complete for this Year of Projects! Petty Harbour is a very nice, simple vanilla-ish sock pattern - exactly what I wanted for this Khaki green Bamboo yarn. My sister-in-law sent out a call for more hand knit socks for my brother a few weeks ago. Coincidentally I was trying to decide what to do with this yarn as it hasn't the necessary wool content for charity knitting. Perfect timing!

The pattern is super simple - just a four stitch and four row repeat - no charts necessary and very little attention required particularly if you can read your knitting to see where you are.

I knit the socks toe up. Like me, my brother has big feet so I wanted to make the legs as long as possible from the available yarn. Each finished sock weighs 49 grams, so there was very little yarn leftover! I've become a fan of the FLK heel, so that's what I did here. It gives a very neat result and is well worth the $1 price for the pattern and tutorials.

The yarn is SRK On Your Toes bamboo. I've knit it before and liked it. It makes quite a comfy, breathable pair of socks, but it's missing the spring-y stretchiness of merino. Hopefully there's enough ribbing through the pattern and in the cuff to keep these socks up!

Once this pair was done I decided to cast on my Vanilla is the New Black socks. I'm headed to a Weaving Conference in PA next week, so I wanted some mindless travel knitting. This really is a vanilla sock but it's got an interesting heel - a Strong Heel. The heel is knitted in the round with increases on either side of the centre back of the leg. You never need to pick up stitches and you won't have any holes or gaps. It's quite neat looking and very easy to work.

The yarn is a cheap-ish self-patterning printed yarn from Germany... H&W Comfort-Wolle Sockenwolle. It's shades of grey and black with quite subtle patterning. I quite like it for a simple masculine sock. The texture of the yarn feels a lot like Kroy sock yarn, so hopefully it's just as durable.

The cuff and leg of the sock was knit from yarn that was frogged twice before - once because I didn't like the pattern I'd started, and a second time because it was knitting up too small so I had to restart with more stitches. The yarn held up surprisingly well to that much frogging and wasn't overly splitty considering.

So, all in all, it's been a couple of good weeks on the knitting front. My Somewhere Socks have seen no action but they're a bit chart-y with lots of colour changes which isn't the best for travel and mindless knitting. I am struggling to find good light for knitting in the evenings in my new digs, so that's slowing me down a bit as that's about the best time to knit.

It's unlikely that I'll manage a post next weekend as I'm away at a weaving conference. My friend is a weaver so she suggested this trip. We're taking a 4 day course in Saori Weaving which should be way outside both our comfort zones so that'll keep it interesting. Hopefully the weather cooperates too so that the driving is fun. We're planning a stop at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, and then a layover in Corning, with an outing to the Corning Glass Factory. If time permits, we may also stop in Hershey for a chocolate factory tour. Will it make me crave chocolate? Or will I be overwhelmed by chocolate sights and smells?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Year of Projects 7: Week 1


This is it! The beginning of Year 7! That means it's time for a new list....

This year is a very different year for me. We've moved from the city to a small rural community. I resigned from my full-time job and am negotiating to work part-time remotely (from home). As a result, I'm not really sure what my days will be like and how much knitting I'll be doing. One thing's for sure - there won't be much travel knitting because I won't have a commute any more. Working remotely there may be times while I'm waiting for files to upload or download, so there's potential knitting time there. I guess we'll see.

I'm left really unsure about how to construct my list for the upcoming year of projects. I definitely want to finish the socks that are currently on the needles. And there are a handful of patterns for which I specifically purchased yarn so I want to do those. I work better to a specific list rather than loosely defined goals, so a list it is. As well, given that we've downsized our living arrangements, I definitely want to knit down the stash this year. So maybe it's time to start working through all the patterns I've faved on Ravelry!

Will I knit 20 pairs in the coming year? I guess we'll see. I tried to mix up the pattern choices to include some quite vanilla choices for mindless TV knitting, some fancy chart-y patterns because they're fun, and some choices that would suit colour scraps and/or variegation to use up what's in the stash.

In the meantime, job one is to tidy up the two pairs of socks that are in progress. Ideally I'd like to finish the Petty Harbour socks by end of day Tuesday, in time to hand them over to my brother when I see him Wednesday morning. Because being frugal with shipping costs is another goal for this year!