Monday, January 31, 2011

unusual construction


The construction of this sock is quite unusual. As you can see in the photo, the gusset increases are worked as M1Rs and M1Ls arranged on either side of the centre of the foot bottom. That's a first for me. Next I'm to work a wrap & turn heel. That's also quite a departure from my usual choice of heel. But I've determined to knit this pattern exactly as written and then see how it works out.

Last spring I started, then frogged, a Francie sock. Talk about unusual construction! At the time, though, I wanted a relaxing vacation knit; I wasn't looking for the kind of challenge Francie posed. These Socks for Christy feel like a prep course for Francie. I've already got the yarn picked out, so look for Francie on the needles in the the coming weeks.

First, I'd better get moving on this wrap & turn heel.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

starting new socks


Did you notice? That was three scarves in a row; three very different scarves, but three scarves nonetheless. Odd, huh? That makes today a good day to cast on socks.

Here's another pattern that's been in my queue for a long time - Socks for Christy by Linda Fisher. I love the look of this pattern but I've been putting off starting them; I guess I thought the pattern would be harder than it is. One word of warning: there are lots of k3togs and sssks, making me very glad I invested in some unbreakable Blackthorn needles last year. I'm also very glad that the Fleece Artist BFL sock yarn I'm using is not at all splitty. Splitty yarn combined with all these twisted and crossing stitches would be a nightmare!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

blocking


Maybe it's time to invest in blocking wires? I think so! My finished edges are going to be a bit scalloped from all the pins.

The finished scarf blocks to a final size of 50" long x 7" wide.

Friday, January 28, 2011

lots more


This bird's nest scarf has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of days, thanks in large part to how quiet things have been at work. "Not to worry", says the boss, "we're about to get really busy with several big jobs over the next few weeks!"

Modeling today's progress is another bird from my collection - this one carved from whale bone. When I stumbled across him at an Ottawa antique flea market, I knew I had to have him. The carving is about 12" from beak to tip of tail feathers, which gives you an idea of how much lace scarf is pooled around him.

Last night I made this curried carrot and potato soup. Delicious! Particularly so, made with twice the spice as suggested. Can you ever have too much garlic or too much curry powder?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

movie night


Yesterday the final installment of Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy was released on DVD, and Gavin made sure he was near the front of the line to pick up our copy. Gavin loved the books, and we both really enjoyed the first two movies. As I understand this movie series was filmed as "made-for-tv" movies in Sweden, but were released in cinema when the books became runaway world wide bestsellers. Hollywood plans to redo the movies, but I suspect they'll disappoint compared to these gems. The first movie was the best, in my opinion, but the third was still entertaining. And isn't nice to see the whole sordid business finally concluded!

Knitting lace through a thriller like this seemed a bit of a stretch, so I put my scarf aside and enjoyed the movie. Looks like I'll have time at work today to complete the 5th repeat of the lace pattern and maybe even a 6th repeat. It still looks like a bird's nest as it hangs from the needles, but when I tug at the sides and stretch it out you can see the lace pattern is hiding in there. A lot of pins are going to be needed to block this all out straight and square!

At the beginning of the pattern the designer allows for the option of a provisional cast on in anticipation of picot edge bind off at the top and bottom of the scarf. If I knit it again, I think I'll try it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

shorter rows


I've twigged on something important as I continue knitting this Secret Garden Lace Scarf: the row lengths are much shorter on a scarf than a shawl. Obvious, yes, but think of what it means...

Shorter rows mean less tinking when I screw up. Shorter rows mean this project can be knit on trains, subways and buses. Surely I can start and finish any 41 stitch row between stops? And - here's the great thing - shorter rows mean the lace pattern works up quickly.

Hey! I'm pretty much convinced that scarves are a great way to experiment with lace without the major undertaking of a full size shawl. One more thing I'm convinced of? Gavin was right, it does look like a bird's nest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

a revelation of sorts


A few years ago I went on a TTC Knitalong day, and at each yarn store we visited I felt I should buy something. At Americo Original I bought a large skein (720 m) of Baby Llama Lace.

But I've been stumped since then trying to decide what to knit with it. Here's the thing: I haven't had the energy or inclination to take on an enormous lace pattern. I'm not sure I'd ever have use for a shawl that big. I'm not sure who this colour will suit. And I'm not sure that the yarn isn't just a bit scratchy.

After a few years of indecision I had the most astonishing revelation. Instead of one enormous project, I could use the yarn for two or three smaller projects. Really. That's the revelation. Doh!

Yesterday I cast on and worked the first two repeats for a Secret Garden Lace Scarf. It's a lovely pattern, and it promises to be very easy and quite quick. "What's that now?" asked Gavin. "It looks like you're knitting a bird's nest". Quite, but a good blocking should take care of that, shouldn't it?

Monday, January 24, 2011

not a complete success


This ripply, cascading scarf is done, but I'll confess I'm a little disappointed with it. First, it's shorter than I'd like - just 42" inches long. If I were to do it again, I'd knit fewer stitches for more rows to yield a longer scarf. Turns out it might have been better to go with the Estelle Frill Seeker yarn. Certainly the yardage is better and the scarf would be longer. Second, there was a nasty, ratty join in the yarn about 2/3rds of the way through the ball. I don't begin to know how to deal with that in a yarn like this. Disappointing.

But it's not a total washout. If you don't know about the join, you can't see it in the finished scarf. Also, it's quite stretchy so I'm hoping to tug it a bit longer. The colours are really nice. And, it was a really whacky, fun, easy knit. Maybe I will do another, once the Frill Seeker yarn comes back in stock!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

whoosh!


When Wandering Cat flashed this little number in her blog of December 12th, she started me on a two month fruitless search for Estelle Frill Seeker yarn. Seems like everyone who saw it, wanted it. As a result the yarn was sold out everywhere. Or so I thought.

But on our field trip to Richmond Hill a couple of weeks ago, I did find a ball of Frill Seeker but opted instead for this similar (knock-off?) yarn in a colourway I liked even better. Thank you Knitter's Attic!

This scarf is not exactly my style, but it's fun, quirky and interesting. The yarn is actually a ribbon of mesh, the entire scarf is 9 stitches wide and it's garter stitch all the way. Easy peasy, once you wrap your head around knitting into the top edge of the ribbon. One ball to make the scarf - you know you're done when you run out of yarn. With only 30m in the ball, I don't expect this'll take very long. Pretty much instant gratification, especially after the last scarf!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

the knitting's done


My scrappy scarf is off the needles, but with all those ends to be woven in, there's lots of work still to be done. But that can wait until tomorrow.

The scarf finished up at 64" wide x 8" deep before blocking. The final size may be a lot larger after blocking - we'll see. Originally I planned to knit to 9" deep, but I ran short of yarn so I stopped at 8". And that's okay; it's nice as is.

All told, there's about 140 grams or 575 meters of yarn in the scarf, leaving less than 50 grams of leftover sock yarn in my stash (not counting half a dozen full skeins and a bunch of Kroy sock yarn). That's pretty nice too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

practising for retirement


The other day we saw a panel discussion on The National newscast about financial planning and the looming retirement crisis. Seems like there will soon be more retirees than workers, so relying on the government pension plans for retirement income may leave you short. One suggestion from the panel members that really struck a chord: try living as if you're retired now to get a sense of how little you can live on.

Gavin and I are thinking about retiring to a tiny winterized cottage at the shore of Lake Erie. In fact, when faced with things we could buy, we'll joke to each other "How will that fit in our 800 square foot lifestyle?" to discourage unnecessary purchases. Living simply and downsizing are themes we've tried to adopt already.

It strikes me that this scrappy scarf fits in with that theme ... using up what I already have ... knitting from my stash ... and so on. Besides, I couldn't resist sneaking in another picture to tempt Valerie at Wandering Cat. I'd think she's got lots of scrap sock yarn kicking around!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

scrapping along


My scarf is growing row by row, colour by colour. It's about 3.75" deep now, so what's that ... 40 percent done? Not bad progress for 400 stitches per row! It's been fun seeing these scraps come together into this multi-colour whole, especially as each scrap has sentimental value:

1 & 11 - Viola Sock in "Red Squirrel"
2 & 8 - Black Lamb Merino in "Khaki"
3 & 12 - Mountain Colors Bearfoot in "Harmony Mist"
4 - Wandering Cat Alley Cat Sock in "Raspberry Beret"
5 - Wandering Cat Alley Cat Sock in "Tea Time"
6 - Crazy Zauerball in "U-Boot"
7 - Wandering Cat Alley Cat Sock in "Campfire"
9 - Wandering Cat Alley Cat Sock in "Misty Highlands"
10 - Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino in "Scarlet"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

addiction


Seems like the knitting of this scarf is becoming an addiction for me. I just can't wait to change from one colour to the next! Although, the text book definition does insist that the compulsive action must have negative consequences in order to be a true addiction. And so far, there are no negative consequences in sight. Unless you count the resentment that I feel when my knitting time is interrupted?

I'm knitting 4 rows of each colour and so far I've knit eight different colours yielding a width of 2.375". That's pretty good progress I'd say. Just over a quarter of the way to my goal of 9" wide. Now excuse me, my knitting is calling me ....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

the first several rows


It only took me three tries to leave myself a long enough tail to cast on the necessary number of stitches for this scarf. Based on my gauge of 8 sts/inch I've settled on 400 stitches. No matter how much I knit I just don't seem to get any better at estimating how much yarn to unwind for a long cast on. This last time I only succeeded because I unwound more than I ever thought would be needed, and then unwound a couple yards more. Crazy, huh?

The scarf is worked in linen stitch - every second stitch is slipped - so the 400 stitch rows go a little faster than you might think. Or perhaps I should restate that - the 400 stitch rows are not as slow as you might think - because really, there's nothing fast about this. But hey, it's a scarf made from sock yarn! Nobody ever said it'd be quick.

Monday, January 17, 2011

starting a scarf


With the final pair of socks tucked away in the box ready for mailing to the Warm Hands Network, it's time at last to start something new. My first inclination was to knit up a Serengeti Sun dishcloth, but the instructions for creating the points are completely mystifying so I've put it aside in frustration. Geez, I thought that'd be a simple, instant gratification knit!

Instead I'm starting my scrappy lengthwise scarf. There's no shortage of scrap sock yarn to pick from around here and in selecting this bunch I'm trying to work outside my comfort zone of matchy-matchiness. After all, numerous Ravelers remarked that combining very patterned, very different coloured yarns made the scarf more striking.

A scarf like this is also an unusual choice for me because it isn't something I'd normally wear. But at my new work location there are windows high up on an exterior wall behind my back. The windows are single pane - cold air streams in and down my neck and back. Rather than wear turtlenecks everyday as I have been doing, I thought this scarf would be a useful option.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

the dog ate my knitting ...


or ...
... My baby brother threw up on my knitting.
... I got mugged and the bag with my knitting was stolen.
... I knit my second sock but the aliens who abducted me kept it.
... I was so busy yesterday that I forgot to knit.

None of these excuses is true although the last one isn't far off. We were busy yesterday and as a result the second sock of the last pair for the Warm Hands Network isn't finished.

The wind was right and the waves were breaking, so the call went out - Surf's Up! After Gavin was suited up and in the water, I made my way down to the shore to snap a few pics. Good thing he's wearing a cold water wetsuit as well as boots, mitts and a hood - he'd be frozen otherwise. When I got home there was another 10 cm of snow to shovel from the sidewalk and driveway. At least Mother Nature is sending snow on weekends when I don't have to drive anywhere!

A little bit of knitting did get done through the Leafs game last night. And surprise, surprise ... they almost didn't lose!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

KAL Clue 03


Clue 3 of this mystery KAL brings me to the end of the finger section. Just the thumb left to do in clue 4; that is, if I decide to go ahead with clue 4 because right now I'm leaning towards ripping out the whole thing. Why? For several reasons:
• the cuff is longer than I find practical
• the mitt is baggy at the inside of the wrist
• the thumb pulls the cable on the back of the hand off centre
• the cable on the thumb gusset makes my hand look lumpy
• the finger section almost entirely covers my pinkie
• the ribbed cuff could flow better into the main pattern
• the entire mitt would fit better knit on smaller needles

Instead of binding off I put the stitches on scrap yarn - I'm going to sleep on it and make my decision tomorrow. If you wake to the sound of stitches being ripped out, you'll know what happened.

Friday, January 14, 2011

socked out


It's Friday morning and I've cast on my last pair of socks for the January shipment for the Warm Hands Network. On Sunday morning I hope to be at the post office sending a box of hand knits on it's way to Ottawa. Over the last two weeks I've knit five pairs of child's socks if you include this last pair on needles now.

Are you tired of reading about these socks? I'm inclined to think so, because truth be told, I'm tired of knitting them. To be fair, watching the stripes and jacquards express themselves as I knit kept it more interesting than it might have been. But enough's enough already. Maybe I should resolve to knit a pair or two each month throughout the year, instead of mass producing them over a couple of weeks.

I've lined up two or three quick, fun and easy projects for as soon as this last pair are done - a dishcloth, a crazy scarf and a special scarf for me. No more socks until February, at least!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

identical stripes


There are people who don't mind fraternal twin socks. I'm not one of them. So, in order to make sock 2 an identical twin of sock one I developed a few strategies:

i) to determine a starting point for the first band of patterning wool, unwind to a solid black section of yarn. Unwind the whole length of black, cut exactly half way through the black and begin there. Don't discard the unwound yarn if there's enough for the stripe at the toe.

ii) knit with the patterned yarn about 12-18 rounds ending again with black. Before working any black stitches unwind the whole length of black, cut halfway through the black and end there.

iii) for the second band of patterning wool on the leg, starting with the remaining half length of black from the first band and knit to the black yarn just before the jacquard pattern repeats. As before, unwind the whole length of black, cut halfway through the black and end there.

iv) use the yarn unwound in step (i) for a four round stripe just before the toe decreases. If there isn't enough from that, then unwind enough from the centre of the ball. Do not use yarn from the outside of the ball because it's already at the exact starting point for sock 2.

By starting and stopping the patterning yarn with black, in combination with a dark coloured solid yarn, I was able to change colours by just knitting the two yarns held together for a dozen or more stitches, which saves a lot of weaving in of ends. And by using one repeat of the jacquard pattern from start to finish on each leg, I was able to match the socks without any waste. That works for me!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

handsome


I wasn't entirely sure how well my plan to stripe the Kroy sock yarns would work but with sock one complete, I'm very pleased. Turns out, it's quite a handsome sock. Another thing? This solid Gentry Grey Kroy sock yarn is really nice. I'm shocked at how nice, actually, considering how inexpensive it is.

Yesterday's forecast snow was a bit delayed; it's snowing today instead. And that means more public transit knitting for me. Taking transit the last couple of days has given me a real insight into how dysfunctional it is. What I'm discovering is that the provincial transit (GO Trains) is a far better option in the east end of the city than the urban transit (TTC buses, subways and streetcars). But in the west end, the situation is reversed. It makes no sense at all, it costs waaaay more than driving and it takes forever. So much for comfort and convenience. It's a good thing I have my knitting to keep me calm and sane through these trips!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

stripes and more stripes


For the fourth pair I'm using a Bronzed Berry Stripes colourway of Kroy sock yarn but one ball just won't be enough for a pair of socks. Seeing as it's self-striping anyway what's the harm in adding a few more stripes in Gentry Gray to make up the shortfall? This should work out nicely, I think.

With about 15-20 cms of snow forecast for this afternoon and early evening, I've opted to take the train to work. Why drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours when I can instead knit on the train while watching the scenery go by? And then considering that work is not too busy, my forecast for today is quiet, with a lot of knitting!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Richmond Hill field trip


Through the magic of Ravelry I was able to find Heather - a nearby Raveler with a couple of balls of the tangerine colourway of Kroy sock yarn from the Stitch and Pitch event last year. I messaged her, arranged a swap, et voilĂ , sock number two is underway!

At Heather's suggestion we met up at Panero in Richmond Hill - a bakery café near her house where her Wednesday evening Stich 'n Bitch takes place. Shirley, Christine and I enjoyed chatting with her over coffee for the better part of an hour while she considered her swap options. In fact, we all liked the place so much that we stayed for lunch - soup, salad and baguette. Delicious!

After lunch we traveled a short distance up the street to check out The Knitter's Attic. It's a surprisingly big store with a wide selection of patterns and yarns - a nice mix of upmarket hand painted yarns and less expensive commercial yarn choices. I don't suppose you'll be surprised to learn that some yarn and patterns followed me home!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

sock production


It's been a bit of a sock factory around here lately. With the deadline for the Warm Hands Network's January shipment looming, I've devoted my time to knitting as many pairs of children's socks as fast as I can. It might sound a bit tedious, but it's actually quite fun with this self-patterning yarn! Next weekend, I'm going to box 'em up and ship 'em out.

By end of day today the pair of turquoise jacquard socks will be completed, and, with any luck, I'll make a start on the second tangerine jacquard sock. Shirley and I are meeting up with fellow raveler Heather in Richmond Hill who has the tangerine yarn I need for the second sock and who is willing to trade for something in my stash.

Coincidentally, the location where we're to meet Heather is not far from The Knitter's Attic. And if we're going to be out that way, we may as well stop in and have a look around, don't you think?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

snowier


Today we awoke to a surprise dumping of snow. The weatherman is forecasting 15cm of snow through the day, tapering off later in the afternoon. Now, do I wait for the snow to stop before shoveling? Or shovel now before it's packed down and then shovel once more later this afternoon? Hmmm, the latter I think.

Clue #2 for the mystery KAL arrived in my Ravelry message box last night - 12 rounds for the thumb gusset. As I suspected, clues seem to be timed to arrive weekly so that the KAL wraps up at the end of the month. Makes sense, I suppose, but if it keeps snowing around here I could really use the finished mitts a lot sooner. And depending on how much yarn it takes, I might just knit them as full mitts instead of fingerless mitts!

Friday, January 7, 2011

snowy


The last few days have been snowy around here. We've had a couple of dustings of snow giving me the chance to shovel the walk and the driveway a few times. This may sound crazy, but I actually like shoveling snow, particularly this morning's light and powdery snow. As my shovel scraped the cement of the sidewalk, I could hear that same scraping sound echoed around the neighbourhood. Snowy mornings are otherwise quieter than other mornings.

With just the toe decreases to complete on the second dark grey sock, I started thinking about what to knit next. Children's socks again; for the Warm Hands Network January 30th shipping deadline I'll continue knitting children's socks for the next week or so. But to change it up from the dark grey I wanted yarn in a brighter and icier colourway next. Kroy Socks Jacquards in a turquoise colourway look "snowy" - let's go with that.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Stephen!


This morning in a home in old Ottawa south my nephew awoke to his tenth birthday. There'll be a present or two to unwrap before school, and then more at supper, served up with cake and ice cream. His birthday list had lots of Star Wars lego on it - no knitting required. Happy birthday Stephen! Enjoy your presents, your cake and your birthday celebrations with family and friends! I hope you like your presents from your family in Toronto.

This morning in Natuashish, another ten year old may be getting ready for school. His wish list might very well include some hand knit socks, since it's very likely that he doesn't own winter boots and he gets very cold once his feet get wet on the walk to school. I think Stephen would agree; better to knit socks for the Warm Hands Network!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

KAL Clue 01


The mystery KAL is for fingerless gloves, that much I know. It didn't take me long to knit to the end of the first clue: a ribbed cuff and a wrist section with cables and a simple lace pattern. Now I'm waiting for the second clue ... and waiting ... and waiting. Five days and still waiting.

The pattern calls for sport weight yarn, and until I checked, I wasn't sure I had any in my stash. Happily there's just enough Frog Tree Alpaca. Maybe it's too fuzzy for cables? It is blurring the pattern, but I don't mind the softening effect. After all, to what other use could I put 200m of alpaca? Stash-busting, that's what this is!

While I wait I'm knitting socks for the Warm Hands Network. I've got a line on more Kroy Jacquard yarn in the Tangerine colourway to finish the first pair. Hopefully I'll pick it up this weekend. Now I'm working on a second pair with a couple of balls of Regia self-patterning yarn. More stash-busting!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

the first new moon


Today is the first new moon of 2011 - an auspicious time to start new projects, make plans, take the initiative, do anything that has a starting point. Or so the astrologers say.

To coincide with the new moon, it's time for my first TUSAL update. My little jar looks half full already but lots more yarn clippings will fit when I tamp these threads down. The lead up to Christmas was quite productive on the yarn clipping front; each finished sock had at least two ends to be woven in and clipped before wrapping.

Seems like today I'll be putting aside the socks I started yesterday and starting a new pair. I can't blame the new moon for that; instead, it's wishful thinking overruling common sense. After deciding to devote the first weeks of January to making socks for the Warm Hands Network, I picked out a Most Basic Kids Sock pattern by Evelyn Skae. With so many self-patterning sock yarns in my stash, a very plain stockinette sock struck me as the best choice. And the pattern says that only 50 grams are required - that's just one ball! Awesome, I thought ... but too bad that's just wishful thinking. The first sock I knit yesterday - knit exactly as written - took 36 grams of yarn, leaving me with 14 grams for the second sock. Hmmmm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

it really is amazing


When I encountered mossy green following a swath of teal blue in this Ruby colourway yarn I was delighted. It may not be Noro, but I like it. I like this Amazing yarn a lot! Already I'm thinking about getting more to make an Entrelac blanket. It'd make a lovely blanket, don't you think?

The resulting hat is big, soft, warm and fuzzy. The brim rolls up three or four inches and the body of the hat easily covers my ears. I'd make it a touch smaller if I knit this hat pattern again, but overall, I'm pleased with it. There's something so comfortable and soothing about big, chunky garter stitch, isn't there?

Next on the needles is a pair of mystery fingerless gloves for a KAL in one of my Ravelry groups - an easy knit as well. The clues are arriving at a very sedate pace, much slower than I knit, perhaps because the KAL is meant to last the entire month. I guess I'd better pick some yarn and a pattern to knit some socks at the same time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a relaxing start


For my first project of 2011 I chose a cheap and cheerful hat. The yarn is Lion Brand Amazing which I picked up at Michael's on sale. I was immediately attracted to the yarn for its "Noro-like" colours and transitions. But it doesn't feel like Noro at all; it's more of a light and fuzzy felted tweed. The comments about this yarn on Ravelry broke down into two main themes. Some complained that the colours and transition were muted compared to Noro. That's true, I think, but I'm okay with that. Others complained that tinking and frogging with this yarn is a nightmare. I expected that based on the texture of the yarn.

I decided to go ahead and knit up the Striking Hat pattern from the ball band. It's basically 12 inches of garter stitch seamed to make a tube and then gathered at the top with a pom pom. Very simple, which is probably the best way to show off the yarn. Instead of knitting flat, I chose to knit it in the round to avoid the need to seam the final piece. After knitting through the Leaf game and the last period of the Winter Classic, I'm more than half way. It's been a very relaxing start to the New Year.