Saturday, December 31, 2011

finished Heinz 57 socks

the snow is melting :(

Here they are: my Heinz 57 socks made from scraps of five different yarns on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Completing the pair took 76 grams of yarn total. Yes, another 76 grams stash-busted! This is my second try for an afterthought heel; this time I picked up extra stitches at each end to prevent holes and I skipped the knit rows between the decrease rows on the last few repeats to round the heel a bit more. Much better!

This morning I inventoried my sock yarn stash to get ready for Surmount the Stash 2012:

  • 14 x 100 gram skeins
  • 1200 grams of assorted sock yarn scraps

That's enough yarn for about 30-36 pairs of socks. If you had asked me yesterday how much sock yarn I had, I would have guessed about half that amount. Looks like it's true that knitters compulsively underestimate the size of their stashes. In 2011 I made about 26 pairs of socks, so my goal is to knit ALL of this yarn into socks by the end of the calendar year with the majority intended for the Warm Hands Network. Guess I'd better get started, huh?

Yesterday I was also pleasantly surprised by a new book to read on my Kobo Vox eReader. Thanks to my brother's family in Ottawa for their thoughtful gift: Knitting Rules by the Yarn Harlot. Based on the quiz I seem to fall mostly into the "Knitting Scientist" category - a methodical stasher who buys yarn with specific projects in mind, and yes, I travel with a tape measure. Doesn't everyone?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Heinz 57 socks

uh oh, more snow

I've signed up to Surmount the Stash in 2012, and as I inventory my stash I've come to realize that I have a large volume of sock yarn scraps. More scraps, in fact, than full skeins of sock yarn by weight. Many of these scraps are 50-100 yards - not enough to do anything with on their own. Any plan to surmount my stash has to include some ways to use these scraps ... and so the idea of Heinz 57 socks was born.

I've made a good start on the first pair. The cuff, heels and toes are being worked in a solid dark blue. I bought a few balls in a few solid colours of On Your Toes 4ply merino/nylon blend for just this purpose at a store closing sale last summer. The leg and foot of the sock are worked by alternating several rows in four different blue/grey shade yarns - some Kroy jaquarding yarn, some Kroy self-striping yarn, some Regia Design Line yarn and some Regia Extra Twist Merino. By the end of the second sock at least two of these yarns will be completely used up. I've been using Russian joins at colour changes and letting those colour changes happen where they may - usually within a stitch or two on either side of the beginning of the round. Can't stand the idea of finishing with hundreds of ends to weave in!

And yes, that is an RC Helicopter beside my sock. It's a very fun birthday present - thanks Mark - but so far I totally suck at flying it. Thank goodness it's sturdy, having survived a first day of some pretty terrible landings. That's just one of the things I'll be doing this weekend besides knitting: logging practice flight hours.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Snow?! Need warm socks now!

I've mostly finished my first Coffee Mate sock. It was finished last night, but after trying it on I realized that I needed to pick out the bind off and redo it more loosely. With darkly coloured fuzzy splitty yarn this is turning out to be something of a challenge. Has to be done though!

I'm using a yarn called Katia Darling which is new to me. It's brush plied which I suppose explains the fuzziness and the splittiness. It's also very soft and warm. Other Raveler's have complained that the joins are terrible - sloppy and without regard to the continuity of the colours. I had exactly the same experience with this first ball of wool; I think you can see the abrupt transition from dark to light halfway up the leg? That's annoying. With my big feet I need all the yardage to make the socks the length I want them so I didn't think I should start cutting out sections to reinstate the colour continuity.

The pattern is a simple K2 P2 K4 P2 rib which I'm knitting toe-up with an afterthought heel. This is the first time I've done an afterthought heel, but I've always admired it on other blogs. With a striping yarn the striping pattern gets distorted with other heel constructions so I thought I'd give it a whirl here. I'm happy with the way the colours go but find this heel a bit short and square. There's probably more than one way to work an afterthought heel - I'll have to do some investigating - but this will do for now.

Now back to that bind off. I'd like to get that sorted out before I head to work this morning. Lots more to see at Tami's Amis!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Coffee Mates

warm and fuzzy
For the last couple of years Gavin and I have agreed to forgo Christmas shopping for each other, instead buying one big item for both of us. Last year we bought Apple TV. This year we bought a Keurig Coffeemaker. And we love it. Especially since we also bought the optional "My K-Cup" accessory which allows us to use our own ground coffee. So easy, so quick and such nice coffee!

In honour of our new coffee protocol I'm naming this latest pair of socks "Coffee Mates". The yarn is Katia Darling in a colourway that runs from a light double-cream double-sugar coffee colour to a very dark rich expresso colour. It's "brush-plied" - very warm, very fuzzy and very splitty. Simple seems best so I'm knitting toe-up in a simple ribbed pattern with afterthought heels. If I've done my math correctly they should fit me perfectly!

It's Boxing Day here in Canada but I don't plan to spend a minute of my time fighting through the crowds to shop for Boxing Day bargains. A little knitting, a little sewing, a couple loads of laundry and a bit of cooking: that's my schedule for today.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Year of Projects - Unst 02

secrets revealed

Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • UnstWhitby

Now that it's been unwrapped to squeals of delight I can finally reveal my secret gift knitting - a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf. Turns out it wasn't much of a secret. As soon as he saw the yarn colours on my blog he guessed what it was going to be. "Really?" he asked, "you didn't think I'd guess?" Nope, I didn't think he'd guess. Doesn't matter though, he's delighted with it. The embroidered patches that I ordered on eBay really make it, don't they? I was pleasantly surprised at how aggressive the iron-on adhesive is; it adhered to the knitted fabric without any trouble at all!

Unst all done
Last week I also had lots of time to finish the second Unst sock. They've turned out just beautifully - of course the cashmere content of the yarn doesn't hurt either - and they're done almost a week early for a December birthday. The recipient is Asian and every year she looks forward to her "good luck New Year socks". And of course they have to be red. 

Pattern? Doesn't matter. 
Style? Doesn't matter. 
Colour? Doesn't matter as long as they're red.

This week I'm knitting a plain pair of ribbed socks for me. But next week I hope to cast on another pair towards my Year Of Projects; perhaps Whitby socks with a light fingering weight yarn held double. Merry Christmas one and all! And a crafty New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

merry merry

sparkly

As you know I've pledged to Surmount the Stash in 2012. So when I announced my intention to purchase rhinestone snowflake appliques for this wine cozy a red flag went up in my head. Chances are each applique would be a couple bucks, and chances are I'd buy about twice as many as I needed, and after taxes I'd probably have spent $15-20. There had to be another way.

Embroidery is not my strong point so instead I decided to simulate rhinestone appliques using some metallic silver seed beads that I have on hand. I printed out snowflake patterns composed of tiny circles and then used them as templates for positioning the beads. After completing each snowflake I tore away the paper I had sewn through. Success! The effect looks quite subtle in the photo but in real life it's pretty effective. Stash-busting win! Money-saving win!

In a couple hours we're meeting Shirley for a Christmas lunch; hopefully she likes it! Now all that's left for me to do is relax and enjoy the holidays. Hopefully you're all doing the same! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday


My second version of Wine Cozy has been felted and I'm much happier with the result. Gavin agrees, this is better. This time round I knit the cozy in a single colour - sheep's grey - to make sure the entire thing felted evenly. I reduced the number of stitches in the round from 96 to 63. And I reinforced the base with a thin plastic disk sandwiched between the true bottom and a second false bottom. If I had time I could try to felt it by hand about 10% smaller but there's no time left for any more experimentation.

Originally I thought to embroider a Christmas design on the finished felted bag, or even to applique a Christmas design cut out from felt, but today I'm thinking about heading to Michael's for Rhinestone applique snowflakes. After hanging this glittery snowflake ornament from the bag's bow, I've decided that the contrast between this soft and fuzzy felted bag and the crisp and sparkly snowflake is really nice. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think IT NEEDS MORE GLITTER!

Now I have to run - there's one more parcel to post so I hope to be first in line when the Post Office opens. Fingers crossed it makes it under the tree in time! For more frantic Christmas crafting, have a look at Tami's Amis. I can't be the only one crafting right up to the very last minute, can I?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Year of Projects - Unst


feeling festive!

Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst Whitby

It's a funny feeling to switch from knitting a cabled sock on size zero needles to a lacy sock on size one needles. It almost feels like I'm cheating, this pair of Unst socks is knitting up so quickly! Less than a week and the first sock is done. At this rate they'll be done way ahead of my December 29th deadline.

Nancy Bush named these socks Unst for the northernmost Shetland Island as it uses a traditional Shetland lace pattern called Columns and Arches. The pattern is very simple to work and to memorize. And quite pretty, I think, especially in this cashmere/merino/nylon blend sock yarn!

I'm lagging a bit behind on my Year of Projects with only the seventh of seventeen pairs of socks on the needles here at the halfway point in my year. But not to worry, it looks like I'll have plenty of time to catch up in the next couple of weeks. Almost all the gift knitting is done. And after tomorrow night's dinner, all the Christmas cooking and baking is also done. Lucky me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finished Object Friday

sorry for the cellphone pic!

It's late in the day on Friday, early evening really, but this pair of fingerless mitts are done and I just had to trumpet the news! I'm at work so a coworker kindly agreed to take a photo with his cellphone to help me out, so please accept my apologies for the photo. It's the best I can do under the circumstances.

This pattern is fantastic! I read the notes of other Ravelers and took some of their modification suggestions - lengthening the cuff, lengthening the hand, lengthening the thumb and reversing the cables on the left mitt. But they fit beautifully and they feel lovely on. The thumb as written works really well and ties in with the pattern nicely.

And look! They're actually done a whole day before the deadline! Isn't that something! I'm usually the one finishing them in the car and stopping at a donut shop to wrap them, or worse, wrapping them unfinished. Yippee! They're done!

Hopefully everyone else is having just as successful a day! Check out the parade of finishes at Tami's Amis. They're worth a look!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday


More than likely this first Glorious Cabled Mitt will be finished on my train ride to work this morning. And with any luck its mate will be cast on and ready for some steady knitting at work. Like everyone else these days I'm on a schedule. This project must be done, wrapped and ready for giving on Saturday morning. Considering the progress I've made in the last two days, my timing looks pretty good.

The yarn is lovely - it's Madeline Tosh Sock in a colourway called "Cove". It's very smooth yielding very crisp stitch definition and it is one of the least splitty yarns I've ever had the pleasure to knit. Definitely a good choice for all these criss-crossing cables on size 0 needles! I'm sorry to say I liked the colours better in the skein than knit up, but that's so often the case for me when I fall prey to the charms of variegated yarns. I'm not unhappy with it though; at least it's not pooling or striping or otherwise misbehaving.

Once this is done my plan is to reknit a smaller wine cozy. My next wine cozy will be knit in one colour; I'll add a pattern after it's knit and felted. I can't say I feel very confident about this as my embroidery skills leave a lot to be desired, but I'm going to give it a go. After that there's one more pair of socks to knit for the 29th, then that's it for the gift knitting. I think I can. I think I can. 

Check out Tami's Amis to see the work of lots more optimistic and hardworking little crafting engines!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Surmount the Stash 2012


a good start

Here at row six of the pattern across the wrist and hand you can just start to see the beginning of the cables of this first Glorious Cabled Mitt. It's the beginning of a big section of interlocking cables that make this mitt something special. The deadline for these mitts is this Saturday so there's no time to lose; this project will be my constant companion and I plan to knit these exclusively until they're done.


I have high hopes for this pattern. First I love that they're made from fingering weight yarn. That strikes me as a really practical weight for fingerless mitts. After all, by definition these aren't meant to be the warmest mitts for prolonged exposure to extreme cold, but are instead meant to be warmer than no mitts at all when covered fingers are inconvenient. And with all that ribbing they're certain to fit. Finally, just think of how much gorgeous yarn is available in finger weight! There's plenty of choice in my stash, that's for sure.


Speaking of which, Revelations of a Delusional Knitter has a plan to Surmount the Stash in 2012 and I'm joining in. The real work begins in 2012 but in anticipation I need to come up with a plan.


Inventory my Stash: I'd like to know exactly how much yarn I have in any given weight in order to plan my projects accordingly. I'm betting next year is going to be the year of socks for me! Maybe the Yarn Harlot's idea of bagging yarn together with patterns is a good idea? I'd like to get my stash organized and inventoried through the week after Christmas so that I'm ready to go at the beginning of next year. 


Limit Stash Enhancement: I'd like to stay within a monthly budget of $50 for all knitting related expenses: yarn, notions, needles, patterns and so on. Amounts can be borrowed from a coming month. Unused amounts can be carried forward from past months. Truthfully, I'd like to promise not to buy any more needles next year. I have more than one set at each size in straights and a good selection of circs, so this should be possible.


Manage my WIPs: No more than two projects on the needles at a time. No exceptions. I need to be disciplined about starting and finishing projects. And I need to be organized about planning projects in time for their deadlines - whether it be shipping dates for my favourite charities or birthdays for which a handknit is planned. Too often I'm leaving things to the last minute and then shopping instead of knitting. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Year of Projects - from Denmark to Unst


gorgeous pattern, really!
Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 

On the four hour drive to Ottawa yesterday, for an hour or so last night with my SIL, and on the four hour drive back from Ottawa today there was plenty of opportunity to knit. And I took full advantage.

My Denmark socks are done! The pattern is written for a heavier fingering weight than the Alpaca Sox yarn I decided upon so I knit them with a couple of extra repeats on size 0 dpns. The result? One of the most gorgeous pair of socks I've ever made. The pattern is very classic and very elegant and has more stretch than I would have imagined. I love those trademark Nancy Bush details like the Nupps that top the cable columns and the slim stockinette band on each side of the leg dividing the front and back of the sock. Awesome! Once again the photos in the book entirely fail to do this pattern justice. Now I only wish I had knit them in my own size instead of a smaller size for gift-giving ;)

Now, back to business. I've pulled this Pagewood Farms Aleksa yarn in the "Really Red" colourway from my stash for the next pair of socks. You won't mind if I skip ahead to Unst, will you? I'm in the mood for a lacey sock after all those cables!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finished Object Friday

to refelt or not to refelt?

Is it finished? In the sense that I followed the instructions from start to end, it is. But the finished result leaves something to be desired - after three trips through the hot, heavily soiled cycle of my top loading washing machine the blue is only a smidge smaller -  and now I'm pondering my options. To refelt or not to refelt, that is the question.

Problem 1: The Sheep's Grey yarn has felted faster than the Midnight Blue yarn. Can this be fixed?

"Always test felt a swatch when using multiple colors, even within the same line of yarn. Different shades felt at different rates, as do different brands of yarns." advises Rob Matyska of Knitty. "If you notice, during the felting process, that a certain area isn't felting quite as fast as the rest of the surfaces, you can spot-felt by hand by rubbing and abusing that specific area."

Problem 2: The entire bag is massively wide. Unfelted the diameter was 19", after felting my diameter is 16-3/4" and my target finished diameter is 11-1/2 to 12". Is it possible to felt it that small? Please give me your two cents on this matter. I'm currently under the impression that felting at least 30% smaller should be do-able; thirty percent would put me at 13-1/4" diameter, which is a lot better than what I've got now!

"There is no "formula" for how a certain wool will felt." advise Kiki and Steve of LG Stitched. "It is impossible to determine the percentage of felting that will occur, but you can take careful notes to guide you in the future." 

For the next couple of days this project is going to sit in "time out" while I clear my head and get over my disappointment and frustration. And maybe on the weekend, I'll fill the sink with scalding hot water and tennis balls to see if I can hand felt it to the right proportions. As for today, I think I'll knit some more on my sock; at least it's behaving nicely.

Be sure to have a look at what's happening over at Tami's Amis. I'm going there now to get inspiration from some happy finishes!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

work-in-progress Wednesday

almost a poinsettia

For the last couple of days I've been dividing my knitting time between socks for my Year of Projects and this knitted wine cozy. The poinsettia colourwork panel is my modification to the pattern - hopefully you'll be still be able to make it out after felting! I'd like to get this one finished and felted in the next few days. Just in case ... in case I can't felt it small enough to fit the bottle and need to knit another smaller version ... it could happen.

I was pretty lukewarm about this project when I started it, but it's growing on me. I particularly love this midnight blue yarn from Birggs and Little - feels like a very cold and clear winter night sky. My fingers are firmly crossed hoping that this works out how I'm envisioning it.

Progress around here has been at a snail's pace lately - life has been interfering with my knitting time. But over the next few days I'm going to have hours and hours of transit knitting time, so by next week I'll be way ahead. And for once I think I've limited myself to a reasonable number of Christmas projects. Maybe I'm finally getting older and wiser?

Check out Tami's Amis to see what everyone else has been up to!

Monday, December 5, 2011

an uncertain attempt

looks a bit big

It's not my first felting project - I made felted mitts several weeks ago - but I'm definitely a felting rookie. And as a result I'm completely lacking in confidence about how to predict sizing. I'm knitting this bottle cozy based loosely on a pattern from Patons using Briggs & Little Heritage from my stash in Midnight Blue and Sheep's Grey. Briggs is a very rustic, unprocessed wool and should felt beautifully. But I can't help but compare the size of the cozy I'm knitting to the bottle itself and wonder ... will it really felt small enough to fit? I guess we'll know the answer to that in a few days!

I decided to add a colourwork pattern to the cozy. I've opted for a kind of chunky border - after all, it should look a bit finer when it felts down to half it's size, right? For the main motif I've decided on a poinsettia. With this colour scheme a snowflake pattern probably would be more suitable, but the poinsettia jumped out at me, so a poinsettia it is.

The plan is to plough ahead with this, finish it, felt it and then decide whether I need to make another to adjusted dimensions. It doesn't take long to knit and I have enough yarn in my stash to knit several more if need be. The next one might be Sheep's Grey for the main colour and red for the contrast colour. That'd be more suitable for a Poinsettia, wouldn't it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Year of Projects - Denmark Post 05

Finally some progress!
Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna  Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 


Suddenly things are progressing; largely because my secret Christmas knitting project is done (yippee!). The first sock was finished last week and during the hockey game last night I knit about a third of the leg of the second sock. A big thank you to the Leafs for another lacklustre performance against a far superior team - the action on the ice did little to distract me from my knitting. At this rate the sock will be done in a just a few days, which will free up these needles for another Christmas knitting project.


Yesterday a friend and I headed west to do some Christmas shopping. Mostly I wanted to visit the Dutch store to buy some of the traditional Christmas treats from my childhood - cumin spiced cheese, licorice dropjes, ginger-spiced Speculaas cookies and marzipan-filled stollen. Mission accomplished ... except that we now seem to be eating treats all day and night instead of nutritious meals. Oh dear. And while out that way we dropped in at the Needle Emporium where I encountered a knitted sample of this cropped pullover in Debbie Bliss Riva. DANGER! For about a minute and a half I considered buying the yarn and pattern to make this for my sister for Christmas.  But wait, isn't it already December? Is this a good time to start something that big on a short deadline? NO!


One thing I have added to my Christmas knitting list is a felted wine bottle cosy. Pattern suggestions anyone? I hope to have that decided in the next couple of days so that I can pick up the yarn and make a start on it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not finished

one down, one to go!

Today's finished object Friday and there's not much finished around here. The mystery Christmas knitting project is almost finished. Just 35 rounds to go; about an hour and a half of knitting. I'll finish that up today and then block it tomorrow.

There is one finished Denmark sock, but I can't really call this project finished until there's a second one. That second sock is on the needles and has become top priority if only because I need these same needles for the next Christmas knitting project - Glorious Cabled Mitts. I can't wait to start them!

And happily the rest of our Christmas plans are starting to fall into place. Just a few more things to pick up and my shopping is done. With a bit of luck I may have most of it completed by the end of this weekend. Wouldn't that be nice? To coast into the holidays without any stress? It's a nice idea, but not likely. I tend to react to spare time by adding more to the to-do list. Let's just see if I can get through the next 24 days without promising to knit any sweaters!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

work-in-progress Wednesday

Plan B

According to Plan A, I was to finish this secret Christmas knitting project today in order to pass the leftover yarn to a coworker for her secret Christmas knitting project. But perhaps it was somewhat unreasonable to estimate that I could knit a round every three minutes for 8-9 hours across two days while still eating, sleeping and holding down a full-time job? Unreasonable? Or delusional?

This morning - with an estimated 5 hours of knitting time left - it was time to go to Plan B. I still want to pass off the leftover yarn today, so the new plan involves calculating and rewinding the amount of yarn I need to complete my project with the help of a calculator and a kitchen scale. Now that five hours of knitting time can be spread across the next week or two. Much better!

Getting myself in over my head is pretty typical on my part. That's me - the queen of underestimation. I can't count how many times Gavin has had to rescue me from my grandiose plans. Not much chance he'd help me with the knitting, but he did suggest Plan B and for that I'm grateful. To hear him tell it, there was something in our vows about promising to listen to him and do as he says. Nope, don't remember that!

As always, check out the blog list at Tami's Amis. Maybe there are some crafters who are organized and on schedule with their Christmas crafting?!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

notice


It is with regret that we announce that today's blog post is cancelled. Recent developments dictate that the author of this blog must keep her head down and keep knitting in order to complete the secret project by end of day tomorrow.

Speculation and projecture about uses for the leftover yarn halted quite suddenly yesterday when my coworker Linda exclaimed that she'd like a couple of these knit for her girls for Christmas. Could I direct her to the pattern so that she could make arrangements with her mother-in-law? Yes, I can and not only that, I have the yarn for her too! Linda works Mondays and Wednesdays with us, so ideally I'd like to hand off the leftover yarn tomorrow at the end of the work day.

Is this realistic? Well that's another question, isn't it? I calculate that there's about 8 hours of knitting left for me. If I concentrate exclusively on this project, and if I have the opportunity to knit a few hours at work each day, and if I knit a couple hours this evening, then yes, it's possible. And failing that, I could move to emergency measures: setting the alarm to get up a few hours early tomorrow morning to knit. Hopefully it doesn't come to that!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Year of Projects - Denmark Post 04

Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna  Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 

Progress on my Denmark sock has been slow and steady. Depending on how my work day goes, I may be able to finish this first sock today. And then get started on the second sock before I entirely forget the mods I made to the heel now that I've added two repeats to the sock to accommodate the smaller than recommended needles and the finer than recommended sock yarn.

There has been lots of progress on my secret Christmas knitting project. You'll have to take my word for it though, because to look at those massive balls of yarn that never seem to get any smaller, you'd think there was no progress at all. They've become quite the topic of conversation around these parts; mostly we've been bouncing ideas around about what to do with the million yards that are likely to be leftover once the secret project is done. Please don't forget that it's a secret - the intended recipient reads this blog and the comments. If you know what it is, please don't let the cat out of the bag!

Once my Denmark socks are done I plan to have a good look at the rest of the patterns in the book Knitting on the Road to see if there are a couple suitable for gift giving. If so, they'll move to the front of the queue. There's very little time left until Christmas and I think I'd better focus on that deadline ahead of everything else.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

it starts today

Shhhh! It's a secret!

My Christmas knitting, that is, it starts today. My first project is a secret project. Many knitters out there may recognize this particular pattern but please don't tell. The intended recipient reads this blog and all the comments and I want it to be a surprise! And if you know the pattern you may be surprised that I've started it at this late date, but not to worry, I'm already almost a quarter of the way.

Also on my Christmas knitting list are the fingerless mitts I mentioned the other day. As soon as my replacement credit card arrives I'll download the pattern and get started. There was a problem with my credit card when I was in California so the old one was cancelled and now I'm waiting for new. Hopefully in the next couple of days!

Now back to my quiet weekend around the house. The first load of laundry is on the go, grocery shopping is next and then errands. With a December birthday, I'd better get my new license plate stickers this weekend as well. And then knit, knit, knit - I've got miles of stockinette to go!

Friday, November 25, 2011

peace and quiet

such a variety of cards!

For the first time in three weeks we awoke to an empty and quiet house, and how nice is that? It's been great having guests and our vacation was great, but it sure is nice to be home and back to our usual routines. I expect that there'll be more consistent knitting and blogging in the days ahead. Is it too late to start Christmas knitting?

Gavin and I both agreed to keep this weekend free for relaxing and catching up on household chores. There is an odd assortment of groceries in the kitchen to munch through - fancy cheeses, crackers and breads, dips and condiments. Sounds like we'll be grazing instead of eating proper meals for a few days.

There's also a most interesting assortment of wedding wishes cards decorating our dining room - from exotic Chinese cards and envelopes, to traditional pastel and foil-stamped North American cards, with a liberal sprinkling of hand-made cards. On my to-do list this weekend is organizing photos and thank you notes for friends and family who put the "special" in our "special day" two weeks ago. Has it been two weeks already? I guess the honeymoon is over and we're old married folk now!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

work-in-progress Wednesday

finally, progress!

This Denmark sock has been on my needles for a long time it seems to me - almost a month exactly. And although I've been working on it quite often it didn't feel like I was making much progress until now. Yesterday I started the heel flap and sock progress usually accelerates when the heel turn has been completed. At least that's what I usually find.

Now's the time to finally put a name on these socks. Once completed they're going to be part of my Christmas gift knitting. When I cast on I had a name in mind but a couple of weeks ago that friend dropped a not-so-subtle hint that she'd like some fingerless mitts instead. Okay-dokey, but where will these socks find a home? That's what I need to decide in the next day or two, in time to tailor the foot length to the intended recipient.

Tosh Sock in "Cove"
Also in the next couple of days I need to make a tentative list of Christmas knitting. And with about a month left, it'd better be short. I guess I'd better cast on some fingerless mitts soon. I've got the yarn and I've decided on the pattern, but first there's a pair of socks to finish!

It's Work-in-Progress Wednesday over at Tami's Amis. Click the link to have a look at what everyone else has been up to. Almost certainly there's a lot more Christmas crafting being done!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Year of Projects - Denmark Post 03

purple everywhere

Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna  Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 


Today's blog post is being brought to you by the colour purple. At least at the moment it feels like I'm surrounded by purple. My Denmark sock is still at the same point it was two weeks ago - out-of-town guests, the wedding and then the honeymoon all got in the way of knitting progress, in a good way. But I've got a pair and a half of mitts knit in purple Cascade 220 superwash so knitting wasn't halted altogether. Most of the plain stockinette mitt was knit at LAX and on the plane yesterday. As well, Santa Monica did provide opportunities for stash enhancement thanks to stores like Wildfiber and Compatto Yarn Salon: I came home with two skeins of Wollmeise, as well as a skein each of Madeline Tosh and Pagewood Farms MCN sock yarn.

We flew back into Toronto late last night so this morning has been all about laundry and getting ready for the work week ahead. I did take a few minutes to weave in the ends on the three completed mitts because, with four ends per mitt, the photo would have been altogether too messy otherwise. My plan for the rest of the day is to finish the laundry, make up the beds with clean sheets, dash out to do a quick grocery shop and finish the second mitt.

I'm also keen to get a move on with these Denmark socks. There's a skein of Wollmeise in lovely variegated greys that I can't wait to get on the needles. Maybe for Spey Valley socks?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

finishing up

washed up

We fly back later today so this morning is all about tidying up and finishing up. A first pair of Maplewood mitts is done; well, the knitting of them is done, but there are a number of ends to be woven in. Darning needles were not on the approved items list for carry-on luggage so that'll have to wait until I'm home. For such a simple pattern of knits and purls, the effect is quite striking. I'm going to cast on another to knit on the plane, after all, with a five and a half hour flight ahead of me plus all the usual waiting around at the airport I figure I should be able to just about knit another pair.

finished up
Yesterday was very cloudy all day. In fact, for most of the afternoon the skies were threatening rain but we got away without that. No point in sightseeing so we rented bikes for the day and worked our way south through Marina Del Ray and Hermosa Beach. It's mile after mile of wide open beaches and endless skies. I think I could bike that every day!

Later in the afternoon we had planned to rent Segways but by the time we were back in Santa Monica we were too late -  the minimum rental is two hours and the rental shops were only open another hour. So we wandered around the pier where I found a souvenir in one of the shops: this little shark tealight (or t-lite if you prefer how it's spelled on the tag).  He's got quite a mouthful of teeth and quite piercing eyes so I had to have him. Now, where can I jam him into my suitcase?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Maplewood Mitts

Maplewood Mitts

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
A fog has rolled in and it's the weirdest thing. Can't see a thing more than 15 feet away! It was clear in the morning yesterday and then about 10am the fog started and it never burned off. Our plans to rent a car to drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway has been shelved. No sights to be seen in this kind of fog.

Lots of time to knit while Gavin surfs, so I've made good progress on these Maplewood mitts. The pattern has a garter stitch cuff but after knitting it as written I decided I didn't like the looseness of it, so I've reknit with a ribbed cuff. Nothing worse than those cold winter drafts up your sleeves! This really is a travel knitting project. The airline only allows plastic needles in carry-on luggage which left me scrambling for a pattern using 4mm needles and some leftover yarn in my stash. Here we go: mitts in Cascade Superwash Wool. A nice little trellis pattern on the back of the hand, and it knits up very quickly and easily.

Posing with my mitts is this new little Chanchito - three legged clay pigs like this are thought to bring good luck. How cute, and there is no trouble fitting this little guy somewhere in my carry-on bag! He can nestle in the Wollmeise on the way back to Canada.

Dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co was a big hit. Gavin devoured a bucket of shrimp and between each he looked up and said "This is the best shrimp I've ever had" ... "Really, the best."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

yarn crawl


Madeline Tosh and Pagewood Farms

Yesterday Gavin rented a board and a wetsuit from ZJ's Board house with a plan to catch as many waves as he could, leaving me free to do whatever I pleased. Perfect opportunity for a yarn crawl!

I googled and decided on two shops that I wanted to see - Compatto Yarn Salon and Wild Fiber - both well reviewed. And then I studied the system map for the Big Blue Bus to figure out my route. Turns out that the No2 bus stops almost at the doorstep of my motel and drives pretty much directly to Compatto on Wilshire Blvd.

Wollmeise
The reviews did mention that the store associates were friendly, but that seems to be something of an understatement. Add more descriptors like welcoming, enthusiastic, happy, helpful, attentive and you start to get the picture. For instance, a young woman walked in with a page torn from a magazine showing a cowl she liked. The store associate confirmed that she wanted to knit it, showed her the appropriate bulky yarns to choose from, helped her select the correct needles, and then reverse engineered the pattern for her. They had a lovely selection of yarn, but I focussed on sock yarns that you don't see in Canada - Madeline Tosh and Pagewood Farms are both local to the southern California area.

Next stop - one crosstown bus and then the No7 EB - at Wild Fiber. Good thing they have lots of chairs - I nearly fell over when I spotted two whole shelves of Wollmeise.  I've never seen that in person!

You may wonder why I stopped at two skeins in each shop. Nothing to do with self-control I'm afraid. It's just that we're travelling with carry-on luggage only and I didn't think I could fit anymore than that!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

sight-seeing


the famous sign
We spent the day yesterday seeing the sights. We were driven through Beverly Hills where the homes of various celebrities were pointed out - Dionne Warwick lives here, Sammy Davis Jr lived there, John Candy lived there for a while, Alex Trebek lives way up there, Die Hard was filmed there, Sisterhood at that Church, Janis Joplin OD'ed in that hotel, River Phoenix passed away in front of the Viper Club there, the Doors where the house band and were discovered there, and so on and so on.

Graumann's Chinese Theatre
First stop? Rodeo Drive. At the bottom of the street is the Wilshire Hotel where much of the movie Pretty Woman was set. Very posh. And we walked up and down Rodeo Drive, but didn't dare venture into the shops. Some were by appointment only. One gallery had a Picasso hanging just steps from the front door. The real thing! YIKES! Even the advertising was fancier - the street pole banners were decorated with Swarovski crystals. And then the cars that were parked here and there! Ferraris, Bentleys, a Bugatti, lots of fancy things!

Next we went down Sunset Blvd to the Kodak Theatre, Graumann's Chinese Theatre and the walk of Fame. This part all disappointed as far as I was concerned. These places all look so much larger and grander on TV! From the walkway behind the Kodak Theatre we got another glimpse of the Hollywood sign.

shopping anyone?
After walking around for a while and reading star after star on the sidewalk, we reboarded the tourbus to continue to Mulholland Drive. Had it not been so hazy and smoggy, the view of downtown LA from the Santa Monica Mountains would have been spectacular. A pretty enviable view nonetheless. From the lookout on Mulholland Drive we could also see the Griffith's Observatory and the Hollywood Bowl. It's weird being in LA - seems like every building is famous for something. All the street names sound familiar, because we've seen them in movies,  in song lyrics and on television. I can't even look at a sign for Santa Monica Boulevard without thinking of Sheryl Crow.

The traffic is really something to be seen. There is construction everywhere - apparently many highways are being widened to add HOV lanes. I didn't envy the driver at all. One more thing? If you own a Toyota dealership in LA you must be making out like a bandit. Seems like every third or fourth car is a Pruis!

Dinner last night at the Galley  - Santa Monica's oldest restaurant. The dining room and bar are lmost entirely lit by string after string of mini Christmas lights, which is odd and quite disconcerting at first. But we soon settled in and became altogether too comfortable. I worked through several Steam Ales from Anchor Brewing in San Francisco and enjoyed the whole dinner thoroughly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

in the saddle

slather the SPF60
LAB tested !


Day two of our holidays was spent on bikes. We were up early to rent bikes at one of the many Perry's Beach Cafes along the South Bay Bicycle Trail. The 22 mile trail along the beaches was one of our  "must-do"s. Fortunately I slathered up with sunscreen before starting out - I'd have been crispy by the end of day otherwise. And fortunately I also brought along some after sun, since even SPF60 wasn't enough for a full day in the sun on my face and neck. I know, I know! The instructions DO say to reapply often, but sunscreen on your face and neck is just so ick.

To the north we followed the trail through the Annenberg community and Pacific Palisades all the way to Will Rogers State Park. The bluffs along the coast are awesome - but with all the Tsunami warning signs and rock slide warning signs I'm not sure I'd be prepared to invest in those properties. To the south we followed the trail through Santa Monica and Venice Beach to the Fishing Pier. We couldn't figure out the rest, but we've done our research and plan to go again for another half day to see the rest to Marina Del Rey and points further south.

I did happen across a yarn shop - Yarns Unlimited - but came away empty handed. The yarns were mostly cotton and/or acrylic blends. And almost no sock yarn. I suppose here in the sunny south, wool is not so popular and perhaps not sock knitting either. Oh well, there are still a couple more yarn stores to check, time permitting!

Dinner last night was at the Library Alehouse which is just steps from our motel. We both tried Fat Tire Amber Ale, which is a new fave. I also had Elly's Brown  Ale(yum) and tried a Jamaican Red. Gavin spent his time sampling stouts and milk stouts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

the time difference

Santa Monica Boardwalk

In Toronto it's almost 8am, but here in Santa Monica we're three hours earlier - too early to make much more noise than tapping the keys on a laptop. So, because I couldn't sleep, I decided a blog post was in order.

Amusements on the Pier
Checking in at the airport, clearing security and the flight were all uneventful, and these days that's for the best. We checked in online prior to leaving for the airport and used the self-serve kiosk to finish our check-in - with only cabin luggage we breezed straight in to customs. The food on the flight was remarkable because it wasn't awful and we started to get excited while on the descent to LAX when we could clearly see the Hollywood sign in the hills above the buildings.

Once out of the airport, we were directed to a shuttle bus which dropped us at the City Bus Depot in order to catch the Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica. Anyone else see the episode of Chuck with the takedown on the Big Blue Bus? Our bus trip was not nearly so exciting, thank goodness.

No surprises at the motel either, except that the room is larger than I expected: very clean and bright with WIFI throughout, although ...the toilet seat and lid are a sort of fifties-era blue that is slightly surprising. Situated on Main Street in the historic downtown shopping area, there is traffic noise but that doesn't bother me a bit. I'm a sound sleeper, and I'm happy to trade for the convenience of the location.
dinner at Mariasol

Even as we checked into our hotel it was getting dark. The sunset over the ocean was streaked with red; a perfect evening for a stroll down the Santa Monica boardwalk to the Pier for supper. At a leisurely pace the walk took only 20 minutes. Right at the end of the Pier is Mariasol, a Mexican restaurant, our choice for supper. Handmade corn chips and homemade salsa were the perfect accompaniment to a cold Samuel Adams draught beer. The chefs are not shy with their use of Cilantro and I'm completely okay with that. It really gives the salsa tang! We sat inside in the bar area  - maybe I found the evening chilly because I was a bit overtired? - but we'd like to go back for a lunch on the oceanside patio later in the week.

Once back on Main Street we strolled and window shopped for an hour before returning to the motel. It's got a very trendy Queen Street West kinda vibe, if that makes any sense to the non-Torontonians. One thing is clear, this is going to be a great vacation. Too bad we're only here for a week!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

eat, drink ...

Wij houden van Oranje

 ... and be married. It's official, we're husband and wife. Gavin has even changed his Facebook status, so it must be true. The wedding was lovely and the reception was a lot of fun. Just exactly as we had hoped.

After last night's party, we've spent a quiet day today recovering from overtiredness and hangover. Cards and presents have been opened, rented linens have been returned and the laundry is done. Now, with the hockey game on TV in the background, we're trying to get organized and packed for the honeymoon. Santa Monica, here we come!

Have a great week everyone! I'll post when I can but no promises!

Friday, November 11, 2011

finished object Friday

today's the day

111111 ... Remembrance Day ... and also the day that Gavin and I are making it official. Later today we're exchanging vows in front of family and friends after living together for fourteen years. Earlier this week I finished my Scoop pullover so it's ready to debut this evening. Our main wedding colour is red, exactly this poppy red of the Mission Falls 1824 yarn from my stash. Enough for the entire sweater with three-quarter length sleeves with a couple of balls of yarn left over. One thing though, I think I may duplicate stitch on the inside of the sweater at each side of the yoke to reinforce it - I still think the welts sag more than I'd like when worn.

And it's Remembrance Day. Earlier this week I bought a poppy at a neighbourhood store. When I stuffed my $10 bill in the box the teenager at the cash remarked "That's very generous" in a tone which implied that she thought I was overpaying. Really? Considering that Canadian soldiers liberated the Netherlands from Nazi occupation at the end of World War II, it seems like a pittance. My Mom would tell us stories about when the Canadian soldiers arrived, bringing with them gifts of chocolates, sugar and cigarettes. And every year that she was able, she walked in the annual four day Nijmegen March through the RBG in Hamilton. Certainly my family can never repay the sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers and their families.

Have a great day everyone! I know we will. And have a look at Tami's Amis to see all the fabulous finishes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things done on Thursday

look familiar?

After I wove in the last end at the thumb of my Susie's Reading Mitts I pulled them on to get ready for the photo. I fell for this pattern based on the main feature photo on the Ravelry pattern details page so with my mitts done, I decided to stage a similar photo. Another little crazy stunt that Gavin helped me out with.

As you can see in my photo - and in the original photo on Ravelry if you're paying attention - the stockinette sleeve of the mitt is quite loose fitting. That's the only thing I'm not keen on. Other than that, I'm really happy with the pattern. Picot edges give a nice finish to the cuffs and the hand openings. A simple eleven row lace pattern that adds visual interest. And the length of the hand and thumb are actually perfect: long enough for warmth but not so long as to impede functionality. No surprise then that my mitts are the five-thousand-and-eighty-third project  made with this pattern as logged by Ravelry. 5083! Wow.

There won't be much time for knitting for the rest of the day. Instead, today needs to be all about sewing. There are four table cloths to complete for tomorrow. I made a start on them yesterday so I should be able to complete these in a few hours. The biggest challenge is finding a large enough work area to spread the fabric for cutting and pinning. With the sewing machine out yesterday I took a minute to sew up a little side project - a neoprene case for my Kobo Vox. A few days ago I spotted a likely looking neoprene pencil case at Dollarama. A quick cut with a rotary cutter to shorten it, a new hem and voilĂ , a Kobo Vox case for $1.25. Now that's crafty!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday

almost a pair

Wednesday morning already! Where does the time go? I cast on Susie's Reading Mitts on Monday and the pair is almost done. They're lovely in this dark brown alpaca. I expect these will be my everyday mitts when trekking by train to the subway to the bus to my workplace. Fingerless mitts are very handy when I need to scrounge for a subway token, or search out a train pass to show the inspector, or even to flip the pages on my eBook reader. Yes, they'll definitely be put to good use.

The original intention was to knit these for a friend for Christmas but that plan has changed. These mitts work up too large for her and with all that stockinette the mitts aren't as fitted as I'd like. Yesterday alittlebitsheepish left a comment on my blog in which she recommends a pattern called Swirling Gauntlets which looks very nice, so I'm going to try those next. And maybe, after that, some Glorious Cabled Mitts. Seems like I'm on a fingerless gloves kick at the moment!

Happy Wednesday everyone, and happy birthday Gavin! Have a look at Tami's Amis to see what everyone else is up to!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

a mitt for me

one mitt, mostly

Yesterday morning I cast on the first fingerless mitt from the pattern for Susie's Reading Mitts and by yesterday evening I was binding off the hand. Now that's a quick knit!

I'm knitting with some unlabeled Alpaca purchased at one or another knitting show over the last couple of years. I do recall that it was purchased with mitts in mind, and I think I actually started and frogged a pair that were knitting up too huge. The alpaca yarn is lovely soft and warm - perfect.

The first mitt fits me beautifully; that pretty much guarantees that they'd be way too big for my friend. Too bad, I guess I'll have to keep them for myself. Good thing too, considering I misplaced my own fingerless mitts a couple of weeks ago. My old pair may have been accidentally left in a fitting room in one of the two hundred plus stores in Sherway Gardens, but I can't be sure.

One thing? All that stockinette means that the wrist area is not very fitted. Once these are done I am going to cast on a pair for my friend but in a different pattern. Suggestions?