Thursday, March 31, 2011
Knit and Crochet Blog Week day four: Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity. There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while. How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which the then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the ways in which you hope that item is still doing good for it’s owner or the cause it was made to support.
Where is it now? Why, it's in my clothes cupboard of course! It's the first sweater I ever knit for myself. On a trip to New Brunswick, Mom and I had an opportunity to visit and tour the Briggs & Little woolen mill. What fun! And while in the mill store I saw a knitted sample of this sweater and fell in love. I bought the pattern book, I bought the yarn and I set out to knit myself this sweater.
The biggest rookie mistake I made was in calculating the size. I measured from my underarm to wrist and used that for the sleeve length. I measured from my underarm to hips and used that for the trunk length. Only after I finished the sweater did I realize that the pattern had a fair bit of "ease" and that the underarm of the sweater was actually more than a couple of inches below my actual underarm. My sweater was way too large.
What to do? Rip it out to start again? Give it away? Throw it away? Finally I decided to take a chance - I machine washed and tumble dried my 100% wool sweater and voilà. By some happy chance the sweater shrunk about 15% to exactly the size it should have been in the first place. Serendipity! Now it's my favourite sweater; perfect for those cold windy winter surfing days by the lake.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Knit and Crochet blogging week day three: How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.
In a previous blog post I mentioned organizing yarn in clear plastic shoe boxes from the dollar store - one for sock yarn, one for baby yarn, one for dishcloth cotton, one for sport weight yarn and one for notions and accessories. That takes care of about half my stash which lives in a cupboard in the spare bedroom upstairs. The rest is worsted weight or bulkier which is organized in baskets.
For the projects percolating in my head at any given moment there's usually a variety of yarn residing in the trifle bowl on a dining room shelf, along with ball bands, labels and knitting notions. What's in there now?
• At the bottom is my sunshine dishcloth; stalled after I couldn't figure out the instructions for the iCord edged triangles. I really need to get this sorted out! Being confounded by a dishcloth is making me feel dumb.
• There are also a couple of balls of Habu silk for a small purse or two. I have some ideas about what I'd like the design to look like, but first I want to get hold of a copy of Interweave Knits Winter 2010 to read an article about adding zippers to knitted fabric.
• Towards the back of the pile are a couple of balls of cream coloured acrylic yarn. This was amongst the pile of Lopi donated to me. I put these aside thinking they might be good for knitting a bulldog.
• Near the top are a couple of balls of cotton. If I rework my design for double-knitting, then I think a lighter weight cotton is called for. The usual worsted weight dishcloth cotton might be too thick when knit doubled.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I've picked up a few new skills over the last year, but the biggest change from this year to last is my confidence. Picking up stitches at a sock gusset used to be something I dreaded. Was I picking up the right loops? Would I get the right number? Should I fudge it to get the correct number of stitches? Would I end up with holes? Would it look alright when done?
After another year of steady knitting practice it's as if I can see the stitches more clearly. The loops of the slipped stitches at the edges of the heel flaps seem to line up in an orderly fashion - there's no longer any doubt which to pick up onto my needle. I'm better at keeping track of my row counts, and better at recounting rows correctly when I forget, ending up with the correct number of slipped stitches ready for picking up. And practice, practice, practice has evened out my tension to give me a consistently good finished result. By golly, I think I've got this!
In the next day or two I need to figure out how to graft 2x2 rib so that I can finish my green baby blanket. Thank goodness for all the online resources, particularly Ravelry! Seems like there's a YouTube video for almost everything.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Knitting and Crochet Blog Week day one: Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.
For me, it's sock yarn that does it. Over the last few years I've knit a wide variety of sock yarn, and I've learned a few things about my likes and dislikes along the way. Not just that I like a bit of nylon so that all my hard work doesn't wear out straight away. And not just that I prefer wool as the main fiber - I find it most comfortable, warm without being too hot, and nicely stretchy for a good fit. My hardest learned lesson is to walk past the tempting displays of colourful hand painted or self patterning yarns in favour of subtle multi-tonal yarns.
Take, for example, the yarns pictured. The Kroy yarn has so much colour and so much pattern that it's destined to become a pair of basic kids socks in the next day or two. Stockinette or rib; that's all I can think to do with self-patterning yarn. For the Diamond Soxy yarn, because the shade changes are so muted, I can take my pick of all the interesting sock patterns out there. Maybe Miriam by Monica Jines? That looks like a fun pattern!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
My dishcloth design process continues. I knit my first sample from natural colour dishcloth cotton, but after completing it I decided that the motif at the centre of the pattern was too subtle. Working it in a second colour would be just the ticket I thought.
Last week I watched some YouTube videos about Intarsia, and tried again. My conclusions? The design definitely benefits from the addition of a second colour, however, working it by intarsia was such a pain that it hardly seemed worth it just for a dishcloth. Also, I don't like the look of the reverse side using this method.
Yesterday I watched more YouTube videos, this time to learn about double knitting. This series of videos prepared for Twist Collective was particularly helpful. So far I've cast on and I've knit a small swatch - natural white on one side and pink on the other. Looks like the right approach for my pattern but I'd better take the time to knit a few double knit patterns to get a better feel for it. It's always fun to learn something new though. And it's given me lots of ideas of other things I want to knit!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
After knitting a pair of child's socks at the larger pattern size a friend remarked "Child socks?! Those look like they'd fit me."
That gave me pause. Because I have huge feet I find it difficult to judge what would fit a child. Small socks all look impossibly small to me. This time around I decided to knit the smaller size of Evelyn Skae's Most Basic Child's Socks, and to knit the pattern exactly as written to see how that turns out.
This morning I grafted the toe of the first sock. The finished size from toe to heel (unstretched) is 6.25". Based on this chart, it should fit a child with size 9 feet. (edited vis-a-vis Elizabeth's comment) Even better? This little sock took just 25 grams of yarn; that's one complete pair from a 50 gram ball of Kroy sock yarn! How perfect is that?
Friday, March 25, 2011
When I cast on these socks I had hoped that we were done with snow and that spring had finally arrived. Clearly, winter is not done with us yet. Oh well, best not to wish my life away no matter what the weather. Maybe spring will get a better foothold next week!
The good thing is that these socks are done. March is my month for charity knitting, so I'm glad to have made a start on my knitting for the Warm Hands Network's September shipment. Much better to knit a pair or two a month through the year than try to mass produce socks in the few weeks before the shipment. Besides it's a great way to reduce the stash - there's no risk of running out of sock yarn!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
For many years when switching yarns I left a long tail on both and then wove those ends into the completed project. But after reading numerous Ravelry threads on the subject I decided to experiment with other strategies.
I tried spit splicing on my second scrappy lengthwise scarf but so far I'm not sold on that approach. Maybe I'm not being aggressive enough to felt the two ends properly together, but that join didn't seem very strong to me.
I've also tried and often use the strategy of overlapping the ends. To make the join really strong I overlap the ends of the new and old yarn for quite a number of stitches - usually a dozen or so. But what I find with this approach is that sooner or later the end still pops out of the fabric. Annoying.
Today I'm trying a Russian join based on the instructions from Tech Knitter found here. My hope is that by weaving the end back between the plies, the ends will be enclosed within the body of the yarn and will better disappear into the knitted fabric. Fingers crossed!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This morning's forecast storm turned out to be just a dusting for those of us in the east end of Toronto. That's just as well; we took the snow tires off the car last week. The driving isn't as good as you travel west, so I'll have to take it easy on my drive to work.
One good thing about snow and below zero temperatures? It's perfect weather for blanket knitting. Three blocks are done and the last is well underway. I hope complete this fourth block by Thursday evening so that I can start grafting them together. Once assembled I'm planning a simple seed stitch border with whatever yarn remains.
Do I sound impatient? I guess I am eager to finish and not just because I can't wait to see it done. It'd also be nice to have fewer surfaces in our living room/dining room covered in knitting.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It's not just this brightly coloured sock that's putting me in a spring mood. It's all the little telltale signs I can detect in my garden when I look closely. Look closely in this picture and you'll see that the tulips have started to come up. Now that definitely means spring to me!
The arrival of spring also means that it's tax time. Last weekend I sorted through all the paperwork - organizing what I need and shredding the rest. This morning I met with an advisor at the bank and reviewed my RRSPs, followed up on a missing receipt and got organized for the coming year. My goal is to have the whole mess ready to hand over to the account by Saturday.
Oh, and finish the green baby blanket and a second sock for Saturday as well. Speaking of that second sock, I think I'll cast on now.
Monday, March 21, 2011
When Cookie A. named her now famous pattern for "Monkey" socks, she described obsessively thinking about the pattern. "There was no other way to get them off my back than to knit them" she explained, hence the name.
This dishcloth pattern is the same for me. I've been thinking about this pattern for the last few months but by last weekend I couldn't get it out of my head. Time to knit it and get the monkey off my back.
After fine-tuning through three prototypes I'm almost there. I've nailed down the proportions to yield an undistorted motif when knit. And I've got most of the stitch counts sorted out so that the dishcloth ends up square and appropriately sized. There are a couple more variations I want to try before I settle on a final design, but once that's done I can prepare the pattern for publication. The final dishcloth won't be named "Monkey" though; I've got something else entirely in mind.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Last night's perigee full moon was something to see. Just before 8pm Gavin set up the camera and tripod in anticipation of moonrise, but we had to wait a while longer for this shot, waiting until the moon rose above the fences and trees in front of our house. Big, bright and golden - what a show!
The official start of spring is scheduled for 7:21 this evening at the vernal equinox. That's welcome news; somehow February and March have seemed endlessly grey and damp. Mother Nature seems on board - there are shoots of new green growth in the garden and there are buds on all the trees and shrubs. Spring really is around the corner!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
pattern: Storm Socks by Diane Mulholland
yarn: Regia Extra Twist Merino (65 gr or 275m)
mods: changed W&T toe and W&T heel to my usuals
These Storm socks are done and I'm very happy with the result. They're simple and quite plain, but still very nice. The seed stitch columns give the socks just enough interest and the ribbed construction ensures good fit. Very practical; I'd knit these again.
Next? Another pair of Kid's Basic Socks with Kroy sock yarn from the stash I think. In spring colours, definitely.
Friday, March 18, 2011
At times over the last several weeks I've wondered whether I should continue posting lighthearted knitting blog entries in view of events around the world.
I've been mesmerized by the struggles in the middle east for freedom and change, and horrified to watch the backlash by tyrants like Khadafi. That the UN is stepping up and stepping in strikes me as good news. Until now I'd felt like I was watching a bully beat up on the little kids in the schoolyard without the courage to intercede.
The terrible story in Japan continues to unfold. Each morning as I knit a few rounds before showering and readying for work, I tune in to the local news radio station to hear the news from Japan ... hoping to hear something ... anything ... the smallest sign that the worst is over. It's unbelievable all that those people have been through and are still going through.
More than anything I feel helpless. I've donated, I've supported, I've encouraged, I've discussed, and I wish I could do more. In the meantime I'm coping by quietly minding my own stitches, sticking to my routine and focusing on the positive.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Happy St. Paddy's Day one and all. Whether you're Irish, or Irish for the day, today's a good day to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring. In fact, the weather is so mild in Toronto today that there's talk of opening the patios at some of the downtown pubs. Yikes, it's not that warm people!
With green yarn and green knitting stacked in front of me I feel in sync with the celebrations. Screw your eyes up tightly and stare at the center of these knitted blocks - aren't those shamrocks you're seeing? Okay, that's a bit of stretch. Nonetheless, happy St. Pat's!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
This large pile of donated Icelandic Lopi has me thinking about knitting jackets for the Warm Hands Network. I've never worked with Lopi before nor have I ever knit anything in a bulky weight yarn but I'm thinking along the lines of cardigans like this. It gives me lots to think about over the next couple of weeks, but I won't cast on anything new until I finish and assemble my blanket.
On the train this morning I found myself surrounded by kids headed downtown for March break activities... "That lady beside you is knitting!" an eight year old boy exclaimed to his sister. "Yes," their mother agreed, "Mrs. Beacham is going to teach us all how to knit this summer". "Oh good!" he replied, "Once I learn how, I'm gonna knit a house!"
A house! Now that's thinking big!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Yesterday at work I finished the first of my Storm socks and cast on the second. It was pretty quiet at the office yesterday perhaps because it was the first day of March break. And it doesn't look like today's going to be any busier. Lots of time to knit, though.
Tomorrow I'll be taking transit back and forth to work, so chances are the second sock will be done by the end of day. The car dealership called this morning to let us know that our part is in; apparently we broke a back strut which is why the car has been feeling so clunky over the last few weeks. I blame potholes! The roads and highways are like an obstacle course - potholes everywhere, and many of them quite dangerously deep and wide.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Yesterday's trip to Knit-o-matic was extremely successful. I came home with enough yarn for a couple more blankets - Mission Falls 1824 wool in raspberry red (on sale!) and Cascade 200 Superwash in purple - and a book with patterns to "Knit Your Own Dog". I was particularly taken with the pattern for this English Bulldog, and I'll admit, the pug and the sheep dog are pretty cute as well. Too bad there isn't a golden-doodle; that'd be a perfect gift for my brother celebrating his birthday today!
I can't say enough good things about Knit-o-matic. We arrived just as the shop opened but despite the stampede the store owner was welcoming, friendly and helpful. She carried a very broad selection of yarn despite the tiny proportions of her store. Add to that some fun and funky patterns and accessories - really fun to shop there.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Seems that my blanket block obsession is continuing unabated. I cast on the second block yesterday afternoon and have worked the first 21 rounds; time to switch to a circular needle, I think. The outside stitches are now dangerously close to the needle tips.
This is the second blanket that I've knit where the blocks are knit from the centre out, and I think it's a great construction method. After all, the blocks come out perfectly square no matter what you do.
Shirley, Christine and I are off today to check out another LYS: Knit-O-Matic. It's about 45 minutes from here and by no means our nearest LYS, but it's one of only a handful of yarn stores open on a Sunday. While skimming their website I noticed that this Mission Falls 1824 wool that I'm currently knitting is on sale. Now that could be dangerous!
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Despite my obsession with blanket blocks, I haven't neglected other things, not even these Storm socks. You won't be surprised to hear that I replaced the wrap & turn heel of the pattern directions with my usual gusset and heel flap. It just fits better, I find.
One good thing about this yarn? Good yardage! I'm halfway up the leg of the sock and still have 28 grams of the first 50 gram ball left. At this rate I'll have enough left to make another pair of socks, albeit a small pair. That's much nicer than the usual dilemma - too much left to throw out but not enough to complete anything.
As for the weekend, we've got a few things planned. But after the coffee maker decided not to heat half the water in the reservoir leaving us with half a pot of very strong coffee, it looks like small appliance shopping heads up the list. I absolutely cannot face springing ahead tomorrow for daylight savings time without a good cup of coffee or two!
Friday, March 11, 2011
It's off the needles now, this first of four blocks for my blanket. Looks like each block will take about 400 yards and ends up around 18" square. With all that ribbing and cabling the blanket is very thick and warm, and it's reversible. I love it already.
Instead of binding off, I moved the stitches onto scrap yarn. That's because I'm considering grafting the squares together rather than sewing them. After a little digging in the Ravelry forums I turned up a thread describing how to kitchener stitch two ribbed pieces of fabric. It'd be very cool if the assembled blanket appeared seamless!
The edges of the block are distorted when laid flat. I'm hoping that assembly will take care of that for the most part. As well adding a seedstitch border around the assembled blanket might really finish it off nicely. But oh my, I love this pattern!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
At Christmas Nancy offered me a chocolate from an open box, but then after surveying the remaining selection, she set the first box aside and opened another box. My jaw dropped to the floor. It's always been a rule in our house that you can't open a second box until the first is finished. Likewise you can't start the lower tray in a box of cookies until the upper tray is finished. "You have a lot of rules at your house", Nancy observed with a shrug as she nibbled a chocolate-covered almond.
It's true, we do have a lot of rules, even down to craft projects. I try to limit myself to two projects on the needles - one small enough for knitting on the go and one larger project. New projects are cast on when old projects are finished. Also, for the last year and half I've been determined to knit the yarn I have instead of buying more, and more and more. But this week I've broken all the rules. I bought a pile of yarn just for this blanket, and then I couldn't resist, so I cast on. Now I'm almost finished the first of the four blocks that will make up this blanket. I just can't help myself where this blanket is concerned. At this rate by tomorrow I may be able to show you a finished block!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I started knitting socks three years ago and yesterday I wore through one of the first pair I knit, with holes developing at the heels and at the balls of the feet. "Can you darn them?" Gavin asked. Well, I suppose I could but the soles of the feet and the remaining heel areas are worn almost transparent, so I don't think the darned socks would last more than a wear or two. Goodbye comfy ribbed socks!
Also yesterday, while browsing through the forums on Ravelry, I stumbled across an ad for jewelry made from recycled knitting needles. Very clever idea, I think. I've got some old pairs of my grandma's coloured aluminum needles that would make perfect bangles. Add that to the honey-do list!
A few emails popped into my mailbox yesterday morning outlining local spring workshop schedules. I've signed up for a drop spindle spinning course at the beginning of April. There's a beautiful Forrester spindle and lots of fiber collecting dust in my yarn cupboard waiting for me to have the confidence to start spinning. Hopefully a full day workshop will be just the ticket.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I first considered knitting Storm socks last year but the instructions perplexed me so I put the pattern aside. After knitting Ann Budd's Better-than-booties Baby Socks I can now see that the Storm instructions include a similar wrap-and-turn toe. Oh, I get it now.
That being said, I decided to knit a traditional toe instead and with that, these socks are underway. The main pattern is made up of columns of seed stitch framed by KTBLs - simple to do for an interesting textured effect. The sock is surprisingly stretchier than I would have guessed and compared to the last sock I knit, it feels like this sock is knitting itself. Hurray!
One thing, though ... I'm a little disappointed in the yarn. This Regia Extra Twist Merino Color feels unbelievably soft and squishy in the ball, but knitted up? Not so much. The knitted fabric feels sort of stiff, lifeless and a bit scratchy. The socks will be fine; comfortable enough and probably hard wearing, but not as soft as I had hoped.
Monday, March 7, 2011
... they're done! Only sheer stubbornness got me through the last couple of repeats on the leg. Seriously. Now that they're done I'll admit that I still think the pattern is pretty. The cabled knots make a nice subtle effect and stacked them this way in ribbed columns makes for a snug-fitting sock. It's just too bad that the knitting of them became such a chore. The yarn feels really soft. I'm curious to see how well it wears.
I've folded up the finished socks and tucked them into a poly bag which I tied with some curling ribbon. Now they're ready for giving away. A cute little package, isn't it?
With the Knotty socks done, I've turned my attention to finishing the eyelet strip afghan that Nancy and I worked on together, as well as casting on a new pair of socks. My next sock pattern choice is Storm - simple columns of seed stitch look to be the antithesis of the aforementioned cable knots. After all, a change is as good as a rest, right?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
To perk up a rainy and dreary Saturday afternoon, Nancy and I planned a pizza lunch followed by a short tour of her local yarn shops.
At our first yarn store stop we came out empty-handed. Shocking, huh? In that shop we both felt unwelcome. The sales associate seemed irritated with our questions, so we didn't stay long.
Our second stop was at Knit One Bead Too where our welcome was much friendlier. The yarn selection was unusual and very specialized - nothing suitable for a baby blanket. I did fall in love with this Habu which combines golden brown and indigo blue silk, so a couple of balls came home with me.
It was at our third stop, Linda's Craftique, that I found the perfect yarn for my baby blanket. More about that later. In the meantime I have to put some thought to what to do with two balls of Habu ... 100% silk, dry clean only, 25 meters in each ball. A couple of coin purses maybe?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
The drive from Toronto to Cape Hatteras NC is 15-16 hours; when we cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Virginia Beach, it feels like we're almost there. Almost? Well, it's another 100 miles or so and those last 100 miles seem to take forever! After 14 hours in the car we just can't wait to get there.
So it is with these socks. I'm halfway up the leg of the second sock and it feels like I should be about done. But this little knotted cable pattern is slow going so it's still likely to take longer than I think. I'm just hoping to finish tonight or tomorrow. Can't wait!
In the meantime I've pulled out yarn for my next sock project as incentive.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Time for a TUSAL update! In this Totally Useless Stitch ALong participants collect scrap yarn and bits of thread in a jar and then post their progress at each New Moon. My collection grew only slightly in the last lunar cycle; just a few ends from my Tree Frog and from my Socks for Christy. Not much else to show from a month of wrestling WIPs.
For the next lunar cycle my plans are inclined towards charity knitting, after all Piscean energy is supposed to be compassionate, charitable, emotional and kind. There's lots of yarn in my stash ready to knit up into socks for the Warm Hands Network. And I'm obsessing over this pattern, a block that can be made into a blanket or a pillow as shown here.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The last couple of days at work have been a nightmare ...
On Monday the computer wouldn't start up - it just hung on an empty grey screen. It was step-by-step through the help suggestions from Apple's technical support, until archiving and reinstalling the system software finally worked.
On Tuesday the Creative Suite apps wouldn't work - licensing problems as a side effect of reinstalling the system software. It was hour after hour on the phone with the Adobe support remotely controlling my desktop and still no resolution by end of day.
After a sleepless night I went to work Wednesday determined to get this sorted. It was another couple of hours on the phone with Adobe support, when Adobe finally agreed with my suggestion to uninstall, run a cleaner app and reinstall. That worked.
But how frustrating was that!?! Good thing I had a sock to knit; along with Gavin's sage advice, that's what kept me sane.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Finally! Almost two years after knitting almost an entire frog, I sat down to knit the four front toes. And in less than a half hour the toes were knit and attached. The frog is done.
This pattern is awesome. Really. Lots of wrap and turn short rows, lots of kitchener stitch, but lots of awesome. We dissected frogs in grade school biology and the shaping of the legs and body evoke all sorts of memories from that time ... creepy, but awesome.
When I attempted this pattern, it was the most complicated thing I'd ever done. And now, with a couple more years of knitting experience, it might be a good idea to try it again. Well, maybe after all the other WIPs are completed!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Happy March! I've timed my WIP wrestling to coincide with the new moon which leaves me a couple more days to wrap up some more projects. This little frog has been awaiting front toes for his forelimbs since 2009. When I did the back toes I wasn't entirely happy with how they turned out, but now that I'm looking at them with a fresh set of eyes, I think they look just fine. No more hesitation, let's get this done!
My first Knotty or Knice sock is done. I added a repeat and lengthened the cuff to make the leg longer. And I officially take back what I said about this pattern being "fussy but worth it". I'm getting extremely annoyed with all this cabling back and forth. I don't think I'd knit another pair from this pattern. If I weren't committed to finishing things this month, I'd be very vulnerable to second sock syndrome with this pattern!