Sunday, February 8, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 05

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

After finishing my first Stalagmite sock I put this WIP aside in favour of a bunch of other things. With any luck I can stop saying that before next week's update. I've been motivated to finish up a bunch of WIPs that have been hanging around to clear the decks for the first Cookie A sock club shipment expected mid- to late-February.

First I finished a pair of EndPaper Mitts. It's the second pair I've knit, and it'll be the last pair. Although the result is beautiful, the knitting is extremely tedious! For this pair I purposely opted for low contrast between the two yarns. I thought it'd be interesting to see the pattern as a subtle effect. I'm a bit undecided as to whether I like the results, perhaps in part because I really dislike that blue yarn. It's Elann Superwash Wool with Nylon but it's really nasty to knit with - very split and not very soft. Never mind, they're done, they look fine and the recipient loves them. And she's very pleased to have a pair that are machine washable!

Second I cast on and knit a Balaclava for Alexandra. The weather's been pretty cold, windy and snowy this month, and it's been pretty cold waiting outside work for the bus, so an emergency knitted garment was in order. She already has a pair of Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts that I knit for her before Christmas in this Jaeger Luxury Spun DK, so a matching Balaclava was in order. The pattern is super easy and I was able to knit this up in a couple of days. If you're wondering, she wears the fingerless mitts over a pair of gloves on the very cold days. Alexandra was very pleased with her Balaclava, particularly as it nicely covers her forehead. Now, in my opinion, it looks a bit ridiculous without a hat to top it, so I've cast on a Golden Autumn Hat in the same yarn to complete the set. That's another knit I hope to finish in the next couple of days. And as Alexandra remarked, matching clothing is a sign of really being an adult :)

Also on the needles at the moment is my final sock for The Canadian Crazy Train. I received a sock knit by Sandy in BC in the mail on Tuesday and now I have to knit its mate. I'm trying my best to finish this up today or tomorrow so I will have finished pictures of the final pair of socks next week.

When I signed up for the race I thought it might be fun and interesting. I did enjoy "meeting" my team members and competitors online. It was fun to be exposed to exclusive patterns from local Canadian designers. It was also nice to try out yarn from some Canadian dyers I hadn't had experience with - Yarn Indulgences, Sweet Georgia Yarn and Biscotte & Cie. And admittedly, it is nice to be finished after knitting one sock... no second sock syndrome!

But I doubt I'd sign up for this again for a couple of reasons. Of the seven patterns offered only one or two are designs I would ever choose to knit for myself. And being barred from modifying the patterns for the competition irks me (a lot) - at least one of the patterns could have been made to fit much better with modification, and given my druthers I'd have replaced all the round and star toes with wedge toes. And then all that shipping cost - between ordering sponsor yarn, shipping a sock with yarn to British Columbia, and shipping another sock with yarn to another city in Ontario, I'd estimate that Canada Post benefited by $35-40. That's a lot of money with nothing to show for it!

You never know until you try though. Right?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 04

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

FINALLY! Some progress to report on my Stalagmite socks! It took me a few minutes to figure out where I left off but fortunately reading my knitting gets easier with every pair of completed socks so I was able to determine that it was the left sock, and that rows 11 of chart B then chart A were next for the instep. When will I ever learn to make better notes?

There are two charts for the leg. It's actually the same cable pattern for both but the second chart is offset by half a vertical repeat. How nice is that?! For the right sock the order of the charts is reversed so that the pattern is mirrored. Love that too!

The more this sock grows, the happier I am with the yarn choice. This "Wisdom" colourway of Sock Luck yarn shifts from cyan blues through navy to emerald greens. After working the cuff and starting the first set of cables I worried that the colourway was too busy for the pattern, but the further I knit, the stronger the pattern emerges. Looks like this time I'm being rewarded for ignoring early doubts!

I'm also pretty happy with being back to knitting a Cookie A pattern. The patterns are often pleasingly complex with such nice little details and embellishments - like the way the cable pattern finishes at the heel on a diagonal... so clever! And considering the first shipment of the Cookie A Sock Club is expected to arrive in the next few weeks, being in a Cookie A frame of mind is a very good thing!

Of course the reason I'm back to knitting my Stalagmite socks is that I finished my Inlay socks for the Hunter Hammersen KAL over at the Sock Sampler group on Ravelry. It's a very striking pair of socks but all those twisted stitches made the knitting a tough slog. Suffice it to say I'm glad to have them done :)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 03

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

Once again that first Stalagmite sock was set aside for other projects. A sock arrived in the post on Monday for The Canadian Crazy Train so I put my racing helmet on and cast on its mate. The pattern is Iron Bridge by Anneh Fletcher - although it was designed for The Canadian Crazy Train it should be available to the public towards the end of March, if you're interested.

The first sock was knit by a fellow Raveler on my team and I'm astounded by how beautiful it is, especially when you consider that it's her first cuff down sock, first time doing cables and first go at Kitchener stitch! Well done!

Because it was a race modifications of the pattern were not permitted. I'm not sure I'd suggest any either, except maybe to shift up a needle size for the lateral braid and the cabled section to give it more ease, and to shift down a needle size for the foot to keep it nicely snug.

The yarn is Felix by Biscotte & Cie in a colour way called "Gris Gris". It was nice to get a chance to try a sock yarn that I'd never knit before. The colourway is mostly solid with very subtle variegation so it would suit almost any pattern. The yarn is a medium weight fingering and medium soft. It is very slightly splitty, but I get the feeling it'll be quite hard-wearing.

The plan for this week is to finish the second Inlay sock for a Hunter Hammersen KAL over at the Sock Sampler group on Ravelry. And then depending on what arrives in the post I may get back to the Stalagmite sock before my final sock and yarn arrives for The Canadian Crazy Train.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 02

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

After 4+ weeks without a blog post you'd expect that I'd be further along on my first Stalagmite sock (a), but as soon as I reached the heel flap I put it aside to concentrate on Christmas knitting and other obligations. The good news is that the pattern is bold enough that it's not being overwhelmed by the variegation of the yarn. As soon as I clear the decks of everything else I'll get straight back to this!

b. A friend gifted me with three large bags full of yarn. Much of it I redistributed amongst the ladies of my knitting group and other friends, but there was a bag of Patons Chantal that was the perfect yarn for Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts. I made a pair for Linda, a pair for Lianne, another for Alexandra and one more set for Erin. That's been a very popular Christmas present!

c and d. I also promised Jane some fingerless gloves for Christmas however neither the yarn nor the pattern that I had made for others seemed suitable so I instead a made Colorblock Handwarmers from MadTosh Unicorn tails. The yarn is gorgeous - what stunning colours - but it's single ply so I hope they last! With the leftovers I made a few of these little hearts which actually worked up quite nicely and easily.

e. Actually before I made ^^ those ^^ mitts for Jane I made some Endpaper Mitts. I've had this pattern in my favourites forever it seems, so I decided to use up some leftover sock yarn and make a few pairs. After knitting a pair of these I'm not so keen on the pattern - I don't love the purl "seams" and the knitting was tedious in the extreme.

f and g. In a moment of complete madness I signed up for the Canadian Crazy Train - a sock knitting race that sees participants knit a sock, mail it and the remaining yarn to the next person down the line, then knit another sock to send to another person, and then receive two different single socks with yarn to knit their matches. I've knit and mailed two single socks and expect delivery of my first singleton early next week. The f sock is for Sandra in BC from the pattern "Off the Rails". The g sock is for Leslie in ON from the pattern "Kicking Horse Pass".

h. I also signed up for a Sock Sampler KAL. For January/February the designer is Hunter Hammersen so I've cast on and knit one Inlay sock. I don't know what kind of madness possessed me to choose this one ... I should have known that all those twisted stitches would make for another extremely tedious knit. Oh well, the socks will be beautiful when they're done!

i. And then there's the group I co-moderate on Ravelry... we have a C/KAL running through January and February to knit (or crochet) any of the multitude of versions of Baktus shawls. I cast on a Lacy Baktus yesterday using a DK wool/alpaca blend. As a co-mod I really thought I'd better get going with it! The pattern is extremely mindless and somewhat addictive so this may fly off the needles pretty quickly.

j. Last but not least, I'm trying to get all my WIPs done. Gavin bought me a subscription to the Cookie A sock club for 2015 for my birthday ... first yarn and pattern shipment expected in February! The plan is to finish the cat bed later today - it just needs sewing in of ends and felting.

Phew! Not much blogging but lots of knitting! And hopefully I have a quiet afternoon to catch up with everyone else in the blogosphere! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Stalagmite 01

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

Admittedly there's not much to report on Stalagmite other than I've selected a yarn - Sock-Luck from Studio June Yarn in a colourway called "Wisdom". Hmmm ... not sure how wise this choice is though. The pattern is very intricate; unless the variegation plays nicely, it's not going to work. I guess I'll cast on and decide after a handful of rounds.

But I'd better not cast on until I've finished my Christmas knitting. I can't show you that: some of the people on my Christmas list read my blog! Despite my early intention not to commit to much Christmas knitting - very sensible I thought - as the clock ticks closer to Christmas, I'm plagued by all kinds of great ideas about what I could knit and for whom. It's pretty clear now that Christmas knitting will only stop when I run out of time. Somebody take these needles away from me before I make myself crazy!

Speaking of needles, I've done a little more shopping for my Christmas stocking, and it looks like I'll be test driving some Karbonz knitting needles on Christmas morning as well. Nina at Creative Yarns had nothing but good things to say about them so how could I resist? This buying my own presents things is working out awesome!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Pointelle 02

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

A month since my last post! Where does the time go?! Last weekend was spent in Ottawa, helping my brother and sister-in-law into their new house. The tradespeople had been in replacing the roof, the furnace, the electrical and the hot water heater, but there was still a long list of smaller chores that needed doing. We rolled up our sleeves and they put us to work! My work has also been unending craziness, so no time to knit there either!

With being so busy,  Pointelle languished on the needles for a few weeks. But finally over the past several days I've managed to get both socks done. I knit the large size, but then decreased at the top of the heel flap to narrow it, then continued the gusset decreases to 66 sts for the feet.; they'd have been too big otherwise. If I did them again, I'd shift down a needle size or knit the smaller size altogether.

Although the pattern was very "chart-y" it was much faster and easier than it looked at first glance. The arrowhead lace pattern is quite intuitive so just glancing at the chart to start the round was all that was needed. Every other row is plain knit, so that's makes it speedy too. And surprisingly there was no purling or knitting through the back loop except of the ribbed cuff!

The yarn is Twisted MCN from Studio June Yarn. It's lovely to work with and it wears beautifully. This "Lime Light" colourway is a nice bright pop of colour!

Yesterday I did take a few minutes to put up my Smitten (a Holiday Garland) knitted decorations from a couple of years ago. Rather than stringing them on a garland I decided instead to hang them on the fridge door with magnets arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree. Cute, huh? And happily each little mitten fits two Lindor chocolate balls - one for me and one for Gavin. I bought the felt numbers off eBay from a UK seller with a CriCut machine and glued them on. Each mitten is knit from scrap yarn - some are sock yarn held double, some are DK and some are worsted.

That's about as far as I've got with holiday decorating. The fake tree's up in the hallway but it seems I got tired of most of our decorations last year and gave them to the thrift shop. As a result the effect is kind of au naturel this year. I tried to convince Gavin that having the strings of lights puddled below the tree was festive enough, but he wasn't buying it, so I did spend an evening stringing them around the tree .... or rather deeply in the branches to add to the subtlety of the decor, as it turns out.

Gavin hung the stockings in the hallway, so I've bought a few things I wanted and tucked them in my own stocking. I'm thrilled to report that I will finally own some 6" 2.25mm DPNs as of Christmas day! I'm still trying to figure out if a skein or two of Madeleine Tosh yarn would fit in there!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Pointelle 01

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

In her book Knit. Sock. Love. designer Cookie A. organizes her patterns into three categories - columns, tessellations and diagonals. The column patterns are created by repeating one element over and over again in a vertical column; like the vertical columns of cables in BFF or Marilinda, or the vertical repeats of eyelet patterns in Hedera or Mona. The tessellation patterns are arrangements of one or more shapes in a geometric pattern; think Monkey, Rhombus and even Gothic Spire.  And last but not least are diagonals where the patterns travel back and forth, or around or even off in one direction. Perhaps because travelling stitch patterns often involve very intense charts, I hadn't attempted one of these patterns yet.

But it's time to put that right by casting on Pointelle.  Too bad I left my first sock in my desk drawer at work; I've just got this one old photo that shows very little progress. There'll be a lot more to see next week!

Just because I don't have my sock knitting, it doesn't mean I've been entirely idle though. A few weeks ago I dug out several hundred grams of a rustic wool that I bought for pennies on the dollar at auction. Months ago I made a sweater from it, but it was much too scratchy, and after repeat soaks to remove the mothball smell it felted. A couple of weeks ago I made a couple of pairs of Duffers from it. It's perfect for this pattern, but there's a lot more yarn than I could ever use up making slippers.

But then the cat laid claim to the yarn. While I worked on my slippers she was endlessly trying to lay on them or cuddle with them. When I'm at work she pulls the yarn from my knitting bag and sleeps with her face buried in the yarn cake. So I'm giving in to her insistence and crocheting a cat bed for her. The bottom - three flat circles - is complete. Next I need to crochet sides, then assemble it all together and felt it. So far the cat approves. In fact, she seems a bit glued to the WIP. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she spends the entire day there, not budging. She hasn't moved an inch in the last couple of hours, except to lay her head down and snooze face down into the wool.