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.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Socktopus finished!

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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 done! Not just the Farmer McGregor socks, but the entire Socktopus book. And yes, I did finish before the final deadline for the Socktopus KAL by about 28 hours. I updated my little GIF so you can see every pair of socks in this book.

Now, what to say about this book? Would I recommend it? Well maybe, with some qualifications.

Almost every pattern will knit up too large unless you are a crazy tight knitter. In almost every instance I went down a pattern size and down at least one needle size ... and I have BIG feet.

A couple of the patterns I would definitely NOT recommend. Om Shanti for instance is not very stretchy, and is designed with a shallow heel flap and an inflexible cuff. If you can tug them over your heels, then they might fit okay, but I can't imagine they'd be comfortable in shoes. Caretta Caretta has beads throughout - I skipped the beads on the instep, and probably should have skipped them altogether. Spring Shoots are one of those designs that seems to be all about unusual construction at the expense of comfort and fit .... and another inflexible, non-stretchy cuff.

Kwalla - with its bulky cables  - fits much better if you modify the pattern to drastically decrease when transitioning from cables to stockinette. It's the sock shown on the book cover, and look, it doesn't fit the model either!

On the other hand, though, there are some real winners in the book too. Shur'tugal, Mince Pie Mayhem, Hundred Acre Wood, Vorticity and Farmer McGregor are all pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned. And if you knit every pattern, you'll likely encounter some new cast-ons and heel constructions so that's kinda fun.

If you have the book, or are considering buying it, you should also be aware that there are numerous errata. Check Ravelry notes before starting any of them. You will also discover that the lines demarcating the repeats on the charts are very faint - I needed good light and reading glasses to see them. As well, don't be thrown off by the row and stitch numbering on the charts - it doesn't line up. And personally, I think they should have the socks made to fit the feet they photographed them on. It is a book of sock patterns, after all!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Farmer McGregor 02

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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

Four weeks later and I'm not much further ahead with the second Farmer McGregor sock. I did cast on sock two, and I did knit all the way to the top of the heel flap, and it was then that I realized I'd made the second sock at a larger size. Seriously?! There was no chance I'd have enough yarn for that.

It took a few days for me to build up the courage to rip out the entire leg of sock two and start again at the correct size. After re-knitting the cuff and the first few pattern rounds, sock two languished for weeks. As well as a ridiculously busy spell at work, my remaining waking hours have been spent getting the softcover version of my brother's novella "A McAdam Station Christmas" printed and delivered, not to mention designing, typesetting, formatting and finalizing a hardcover book "McAdam Railway Station and Hotel: Fact, Fiction & Photographs" for printing release and sale before Christmas. Car trouble, a flu bug and roofers have only added to the craziness.

Happily, the softcover book was delivered in New Brunswick last week - just days ahead of the pre-launch and launch events. And I uploaded final files for the hardcover book to the printer at the end of last week. Early this week I'll have eProofs to review and then hopefully we can get the books printed and delivered by the end of November. Fingers crossed that sales are strong and lots of money is raised for the restoration of this amazing landmark!

Car trouble meant commuting back and forth to work on transit - the perfect opportunity for some mindless knitting. For the Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL hosted by Revelations of a Delusional Knitter, I settled on a pattern called "October Leaves". It's a simple toe-up ribbed sock with a colourwork band at the top of the leg. A ribbed sock was about all my exploding head could manage. As written there was also a colourwork section to begin the foot, which I skipped, and the colourwork was meant to be four colours not three, but I shortcut that too. The socks turned out beautifully, and are super comfortable, so that's another thing on my to-do list accomplished.

Oh, and the car? I had shut off the engine in the line-up at the Costco Gas Bar, but when the line ahead of me started to move, the car wouldn't start. You can just imagine how patient the drivers in line behind me were!! The lot boys helped to push the car to the parking lot. It was Sunday morning of a holiday weekend, so there was no chance of finding a dealership or auto mechanic to look at the car. My step-son-in-law and my step-daughter tried jump starting the car, but determined that it wasn't the battery, but probably the alternator, or more likely the starter motor. It's a standard transmission so we push-started the car so that I could drive home. We push-started it once more so that Gavin could take it up to the garage on the following Tuesday, and left it with the mechanics for most of the day. By late afternoon they found a frayed ground wire that was causing the trouble. Not a mechanical problem at all! Isn't that the thing with all the electronics in today's cars? Always something to go wrong! Oh well, that was the cheapest thing, so I'll count myself lucky.

Here's hoping that things are back on track now! With luck - and providing the rain holds off - the roofers should finish our row of townhouses next week. Gavin works nights, so he's quite sleep deprived with all the hammering and banging through the day. I'd better run to do some grocery shopping and some laundry. It's my BIL's birthday this week, so we're hoping to catch up with him later today for a bit of a celebration. One way or another I'd better find time to finish these Farmer McGregor socks! The KAL ends on Friday - this is the last pattern of the entire book, and I'd hate to blow it now!





Sunday, September 28, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Farmer McGregor 01



SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor

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

... or camouflage socks as they've come to be known. Seriously! These socks are almost invisible in the grass of my backyard!

The pattern is Farmer McGregor and it's the last pattern of the Socktopus KAL. Nice to go out on a high note - this pattern is gorgeous! With all those twisted stitches I worried that the knitting might be painful, but it moves along at a nice pace. I'd be further along, except I borrowed the 2.25mm needles for some secret Christmas knitting. By this aft, those needles should be free for me to cast on sock two.

All that crisscrossing creates a fabric that's somewhat thick and inflexible so you need to cast on more stitches than you might think. For patterns like this with unusually high stitch counts, I add a decrease row at the top of the heel flap and another to finish the instep to take up the slack and transition smoothly into a fitted heel and toe. Works like a charm.

That high stitch count also means I have to pay attention to yardage so I don't run out. Yep, yarn chicken again! Not to worry though; sock one weighs in at 51 grams, leaving me with 54 grams for sock two. The yarn is a "Frog Prince" colourway on a based called "Twisted House Cat" from Wandering Cat Yarn. The extra twist of this sock yarn makes it lovely to work with and the stitch definition is fantastic. And, as you can see, this colourway is also fantastic.

I've got an out of town guest coming later this week so I'd better get moving to get the spare room ready. And I've signed up for the "Seasonal Sock Syndrome KAL" over at Revelations of a Delusional Knitter so I need to think about what socks and what yarn for fall. So far we're having THE most gorgeous fall weather ever, so I'm a huge fan of autumn at the moment. I think my inspiration may come from that old April Wine song: "Red and yellow, seasons changing gear ..."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Year of Projects 4: Om Shanti

SOCKTOPUS :  Farmer McGregor • Om Shanti

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

Last week I started (and finished) Om Shanti socks. Truth be told, I'd been avoiding this pattern. The KAL for this pattern ends in September so it was decision time: knit them to complete the KAL? or skip them and disqualify myself from the "Hall of Fame" for completing all the Socktopus patterns? Of course I knit them.

Sometimes when I knit a pattern that doesn't appeal to me, the pattern surprises me. I might learn a new technique that I like, or I might like the pattern better than I thought I would; you just never know. In this case I did pick up a tip about how to modify a short row w&t garter stitch heel for a higher instep, so I'm pleased about that. But I still don't like these socks.

I had planned to knit these from MCN, however these socks are knit on 2.5-2.75mm needles so I switched to a sport weight yarn. It's always best to knit socks at tight gauge; they're more comfortable and more durable that way.

So what don't I like about these socks? Well, first of all they're thick and entirely unsuitable for wearing in shoes. The designer specifically calls these "bed socks" so that was not a surprise, but I have no use for bed socks. My feet poke outside the covers at night to cool off. As well they're ankle socks, which aren't my thing. I wear socks to keep my feet warm; I don't want wintery winds whistling up my pant legs around my ankles. And then there's the cuff with its horizontal Kihnu Vits braid and corrugated ribbing. Interesting design choices - neither of these elements has any stretch. Don't you want your sock cuff stretchy? Must I struggle to them pull on and off over my heels?

Nope, these socks are done, photographed and will be promptly frogged. And the best remedy for sock pattern disappointment is to cast on a different pair. So that's exactly what I did; I've cast on Farmer McGregor socks. What a difference! Loving these! And look, it's the last pair from Socktopus!