Tuesday, July 31, 2012

a decision

It's the second month of the Summer of Socks 2012, and this month I'm supposed to be knitting Lotus Heart Socks in yarn from Zarzuela Fibers. In fact, the pattern calls for Chromatic yarn, but that base was no longer available so I ordered one of the recommended alternatives - Symphonic base. And that's the first problem: I think this yarn is too busy and too stripey for this pattern.

My second problem is with this cuff. It's meant to be a row of leaves - it does that pretty well - but it's big, bulky and floppy. I can't even imagine wearing this mid-calf under a pair of pants.  The cuff is edged with a half inch of garter stitch - don't like that either. I can't help but think that it'd make a nice border for a little summer top or even a blanket, but a sock? Nope.

I soldiered on though, thinking I could knit the sock as written and then if I still don't like the cuff, cut it off and work a ribbed cuff instead. Establishing the leg pattern took a few tries. Don't even ask me what I think about the pattern instructions ... grrrrr! This is a KAL, though, and many others were having the same trouble so I was able to get some tips from fellow Ravelers to get it sorted out. Then I ran into problem number three. The lace pattern is written across 31 sts; it's worked twice around the circumference of the sock separated by columns of purl stitches on either side of the leg. I HATE that gutter of purls. HATE IT.

That's it. Last straw. I'm out. This sock is being frogged and the yarn put aside for something else. Now back to that Clapotis!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

For the summer 2012 Ravellenic Games I'm competing in the "Scarf Hockey" event. Typical Canadian, eh? Hockey. Hockey. Hockey.

Specifically I decided that it was about time I stopped procrastinating and finally knit something from these silk mawatas that I ordered from Sunnyside Ellen last August. Because I'm knitting from unspun drafted silk fiber, and because my draft roving varies from desperately thin to timidly thick, I chose a simple pattern intended for long colour repeats: Clapotis. And so far, I think it's the perfect choice.

I don't expect any medals or prizes. Right now I'm not at all confident that I'll even finish before the closing ceremonies. Besides, several contenders have already posted their finished times, having knit fun fur and ripple scarves. But it's not about winning, is it? It's about having fun, competing and doing your best. And it's motivated me to finally get a move on with these mawatas. It's kind of fun drafting the silk and then knitting it. I wonder why it took me so long to get around to it?

Friday, July 27, 2012

FO: Liivi's Stockings

Pattern: Liivi's Stockings from Folk Knitting in Estonia, by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Jojoland Melody Superwash (red/green variegated)
Yarn: Fleece Artist Sock (light green)
Yarn: SRK On Your Toes 4 ply (blue)
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (?) (dark green)
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Sisu (grey)

Modifications: shortened grey section above heel, worked wedge toe

Comments: Very long socks! If I were to do these again I'd shorten the top section before the colour work by at least an inch, and then maybe eliminate a band or two of flowers. Nice little knit/purl patterned cuff. Knit entirely from stash yarns!

It's finished object Friday - click through to Tami's Amis for all the other amazing finishes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

With the Ravellenic Games starting in just two days, the pressure's on to finish these socks. My goal yesterday was to finish the colourwork on the leg of the second sock, and I've managed that. Just. It was nearly midnight before I crept up to bed last night after the final colourwork round.

The nice thing is that the remainder of the knitting is just one colour. So I'm still hoping to finish these in time for a Finished Object Friday post. So today's goal is to complete the heel and work to at least halfway through the gusset decreases.

What about you? Are you looking forward to the Olympic opening ceremonies on Friday?

As always on a Wednesday, I'm linking up with the gang at Tami's Amis. Go look to see what everyone else is up to!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

it's crunch time

With three days left before the Ravellenics Games begin I should really be getting organized swatching, checking needle sizes and so on. I'm not though. I'm knitting this second Liivi's Stocking ... and I'm knitting as fast as I can.

I'm halfway through the third of six flower bands on the leg and I'm determined to finish the colourwork on the leg today. Secretly I'm hoping to be at the heel flap tonight but I'm often wildly unrealistic in my scheduling. Wouldn't it be great to have the second sock done in time for a Finished Object Friday post?

One thing about me is that I work really well under time deadlines. So much so that my high school physics teacher remarked that I was the perfect university student - slacking through the term and then cramming the entire semester's work in the days and hours before the final exam. Let's hope that's a skill that gets me to the finish line in the next couple of days.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Year of Projects 2: Liivi's Stockings 02

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

I suppose the pattern's name - Liivi's Stockings - was a hint at the length of this sock. After all, calling something "a stocking" implies by definition that the leg below the knee is covered.  In fact, as written, the stocking was meant to be even longer than I have it. I omitted most of the light grey above the ankle; instead I started almost right away on the heel flap.

The clock pattern that starts below the colourwork takes the form of a simple eyelet pattern across six stitches. On this sock it's not doing much for me. Maybe I'd like it better if it were a little longer up the leg? Or when modelled by someone not so flat-footed? At least the choice of stash yarns has worked out, although I'm still surprised by the contrast created by that blue.

Now, wish me luck because I'm hoping to knit that second stocking from start to finish in the next five days before the start of the Olympic games ... or more importantly, the Ravellenic Games!

Friday, July 20, 2012

FO Friday

My first "ta-da" is a purple Miranda hat. It's the third Miranda hat I've knit this week as part of a KAL with Project: Stash. Each hat has been knit from stash yarn and each will be donated to charity. The finished hat is really cute and it's great opportunity to work through some stashed yarns. Each of my hats has used from 40 to 45 grams of yarn, and I'm happy to report that what remains of my worsted stash now fits in a shoebox. Maybe enough for three more solid colour hats? We'll see!

Another thing I've been working on is handmade buttons. After meeting Jessie at the Knitter's Frolic at the end of April, I was inspired to try my hand at making wood buttons. I'm fortunate to live near the waterfront trail at the Rouge River, so there are lots of fallen branches along my walks for button-making. With Gavin's help I've made two sizes to try.

The smaller buttons are about 5/8" across. At that size the bark was really fragile so I sanded it off. The larger button is 1-1/8" across. I'm hoping this bark can last through some washing and wearing. Time to find out though! I've knit a swatch with leftover RHSS, sewn on a button and will include it with my regular laundry this weekend. Jessie warns that these handmade buttons are "decorative" in nature, handwash only and not meant for everyday wear. I'm going to put that to the test to see how fragile (or durable?) they really are.

Every FO Friday I link up with the gang at Tami's Amis. Take a minute, have a look and don't hesitate to comment!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

After knitting the first pink Miranda Hat it seems I just couldn't stop! Yesterday I knit up a blue one and today I've started a purple one. They're just so quick and easy, and so cute when they're done.

There's a KAL going on in this Ravelry group organized by Project Stash, the designer of this darling little hat. The plan is to knit a bunch of these hats from stash yarn over the summer and donate them to charity. The pattern is available in a child's size and an adult size, so chances are there's something in your stash that would work.

Now my big question is where to donate these hats? At the moment I'm thinking about Halos Of Hope - they collect hats for chemo patients who need them. But if I keep going at this pace I'll have enough to send a few to more than one place. Any suggestions? What's your charity of choice?

Today again I'm tagging along with Tami's Amis on Work-in-Progress Wednesday. Why not spend some time checking the links, and ooohing and aaaahing over all the good work being done?!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FO: Hilja's Mitts

Pattern: Hilja's Mittens from Folk Knitting in Estonia, by Nancy Bush

Yarn: Kroy 4 ply Sock (black)
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Lannet (white and red)
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Sisu (grey)

Modifications: none

Comments: These mitts look complicated but they're easier than you may think; you're never knitting more than two colours at a time. The cuff is very nice and the colourwork patterns are great. I'm still not sure that I'm doing the decreases correctly, although mitt two is noticeably better than mitt one, so maybe I'm getting the hang of it? My colourwork tension within small circumferences needs work, but again, mitt two is better than mitt one. Here's hoping each pair of mittens knit is better than the last! Doesn't practice make perfect?

One more comment? These mitts were knit entirely from stash yarns: the black leftover from Tardis socks completed in May, the grey leftover from Santa Fe socks completed in April, the white and red leftover from baby hats completed a couple of years ago. SCORE!

Monday, July 16, 2012

FO: Miranda Hat

Just as I was thinking that I needed a small project or two to use up some stashed worsted weight yarns, I came across this blog post from Project Stash - a summer KAL of Miranda hats for charity. My resolve doubled after seeing the cute hats on Knitspiring Oddysey's blog.

Coincidentally last week I got a package in the mail from Crochetapy with some goodies I had won, and included was a small hank of pink yarn. Just enough for a hat, I thought. This whole plan was starting to feel like it was meant to be.

I started the hat on Saturday morning and knit through the car trip out to Lake Erie. As we pulled up to the cottage I was just about ready to start the crown decreases. Later that afternoon I grabbed my needles and finished it up. Well that took almost no time at all! And I was right that it was just enough yarn for a hat - less then 2 metres left when it was all said and done. How perfect is that?

Stay tuned, there may be another couple of Miranda hats in my future ... possibly a light blue one and a white one I think. How about you? Wanna sign up for the KAL?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Year of Projects 2: Liivi's Stockings 01

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

In fact the second of my Hilja's Mitts is still awaiting a thumb, but I thought I'd cast on a sock instead for travel knitting. Turns out for the next couple of weeks I have a lift to and from work, so that's a couple extra hours of prime knitting time each day! Here's my start on the pattern Liivi's Stockings.

It's the longest leg I've ever knit for a sock - 13" from cuff to top of the heel flap - and if I were to do it again, I'd shorten the top of the sock by at least an inch and a half. Maybe that's why they're called "stockings"?! The cuff starts out at 80 sts and then a gradual series of decreases down the leg bring the 72sts at the ankle. As well, with the colourwork knit on larger needles, the finished leg actually fits quite nicely. At least it fits Gavin nicely.

I'm knitting from stash yarns and wasn't entirely sure how successful that would be The light green flower pattern breaks up a bit against the variegated background field, but I think it's still okay.  Please don't tell me differently; I'm absolutely determined to use up these odd balls of Jojoland Melody superwash. What really surprises me is how much those blue bands pop. Honestly I thought my yarn choice there was too subtle. Just goes to show.

The rest of this sock is plain stockinette with a simple clock pattern at each side. Perfect travel knitting, right? Now I just need to set aside some time to finish that last thumb on my mitts!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

We were awakened early, early this morning by the noise from a family of raccoons looting pears from our backyard tree. The raccoons are definitely winning the fight - by this time next week I expect there'll be no pears left for us. Since I'm up anyway, I may as well take some knitting photos and put together an early post for WIP Wednesday, right?

My focus on this work-in-progress Wednesday is to finish Hilja's Mitts. And with just the thumb of the right mitt left to go, that should be very do-able today. Especially now that I seem to have got a handle on these one-wick decreases (see yesterday's post). In today's photo you can see the fly pattern in the colourwork on the inside of the thumb of the left mitten. Cute, huh?

With the finish line in sight, I also cast on the first of a pair of Liivi's Stockings. The jury is still out on my colour choices here. Initially this seemed like an ideal project for odd balls of Jojoland Melody Superwash, but maybe there's too much variegation? The first two repeats of the flower pattern look to have drowned in there. Oh dear. Guess I'll carry on to see what I think after a couple more repeats - I really want to do this from stash yarn!

As for my Smitten Holiday Garland - nothing new to report here. It's been completely ignored by me for the last week. Mind you the cat has not been ignoring it. She likes to climb into the pile and toss the little mittens about to get my attention. Clever little cat - it works every time!

It's WIP Wednesday so I'm linking up with the group at Tami's Amis. Check the links for all the updates!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One-Wick Decrease

As far as I can figure, this is how the one-wick decrease works. It's a double decrease worked across three stitches - the last stitch on the previous needle, and the first two stitches that begin the next needle. Of course, I'm certainly no expert, so if you know better PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let me know! (PLEASE and thanks)

1. Extend the last stitch from the previous needle around the index finger of your left hand.
2. Slip the first stitch of the next needle knit-wise.
3. Insert your right needle into the next stitch (the second stitch of this next needle) as if to knit and then pull the far leg of the loop around your index finger through, dropping both the loop around your finger and the original third stitch to create a new stitch.

4. Give the working yarn a tug to take up the slack from that big loop that was around your finger.

5. Pass the slipped stitch over the just worked stitch.

6. The result should be a tidy ridge of slipped stitches along the double-decreased edge. Oh, and maybe have a manicure first if you're doing this for photography!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Year of Projects 2: Hilja 02

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

It's just the first project but I'm learning new things already. But that's why I picked the book "Folk Knitting in Estonia" by Nancy Bush - she always incorporates a variety of techniques and a variety of stitch patterns to keep things interesting!

The cuff of these mitts is worked in a stitch pattern called "Vausaba" which translates to peacock's tail pattern. Sometimes I scratch my head at stitch names - often they're a bit of a stretch - but this one really does say "feathers" to me. And the stripes really make the pattern pop.

The dramatic patterning across the hand and thumb of the mitt is also typical of Estonian folk knitting. "One characteristic that I find most charming in many aspects of folk art is the horror vacui, or fear of empty space." (Nancy Bush, Folk Knitting in Estonia, p.28). Compared to some garments where motifs are stacked, enclosed with netting and combined with others, the patterning on this mitt is relatively simple. The X pattern continues along the outside of the thumb. On the inside, where the pattern would have been a half stitch off, it's a simpler fly pattern instead. Remind me next time to show the inside of the thumb in the photo!

That first mitt was definitely a challenge; I don't think I've ever tried colourwork around such a small number of stitches as this thumb, and my tension there isn't perfect. Like anything, practice makes perfect, so on mitt two I need to take extra care not to "cut the corners" with the floats on the reverse side. One idea would be to knit it inside out, but I'm going to see if I can do a little better right way round first.

The decreases at the top of the hand and the top of the thumb were also a challenge. The pattern calls for a "one-wick decrease" which is a double-decrease worked across three stitches. When done correctly it should create a centre line of stitches with decrease on either side. On my first attempt my stitches were sloppy and uneven, with distorted stitches on the back of the mitt. Re-reading the instructions there seemed to be another possible interpretation, so I tried it differently with a better result. I'm still not sure that I'm doing it right, and I've searched for an online tutorial without any luck. If you know how to do this decrease correctly I'd love to hear from you!

One way or another these mitts will be completed in the next couple of days, and I think I'll knit a pair of socks next. That's definitely more in my comfort zone so it'll be a mental rest before I take on a more complicated pattern. Like gloves.

Friday, July 6, 2012

FO Friday: Dragonfly Socks

Pattern: Dragonfly Socks

Yarn: Candy Skein Yummy Fingering
Colourway: Candy Skein's First Birthday

Modifications: I added two stitches and two rows to each repeat to bring the primary stitch count to 68 sts. These socks were knit on size 0 (2mm) needles. I knit two extra repeats on each leg to make them a bit longer. There was still enough yarn to do more, but there wouldn't have been enough stretch at the cuff to wear them any higher on my calf.

Comments: Very simple and effective pattern. Simple enough to memorize the pattern and knit on the go without bringing the pattern along. The yarn is lovely subtle mix of shades of robins egg blue, cyan, teal and green. It's a very smooth yarn that shows the stitch definition well, not at all splitty and with a nice squishy-ness. Very nice to knit.

Thanks for taking the time to have a look at my Finished Object Friday. To see more finished objects, check out the links at Tami's Amis. And have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

two things on Thursday

1. My Dragonfly socks are done   > > > > > >
See? Empty needles! More on that subject tomorrow for a FO Friday post.

< < < < < <  2. Yarn arrived in the post yesterday for the second pair of socks for Summer of Socks 2012. It's a merino/cashmere/nylon blend from Zarzuela Fibers for Lotus Heart Socks. Too bad I have to wait until July 21st to get started on them.

I guess it's mitten-knitting for me today!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Wednesday, already! How did that happen? Must be something to do with the long weekend last weekend for Canada Day.

This week I'm exactly one sock further ahead on my Dragonfly socks. I'm taking part in a mini KAL with Tangled Up in Sticks and String, as well as participating in the Summer of Socks 2012. It's not too late to join up for either or both, if you're interested! Now that I've made a good start on the gusset decreases of the second sock, it's almost a sure thing that these'll be ready in time for FO Friday ;)

As for my Smitten: A Holiday Garland advent calendar, I've finished mini-mitt #13 so I'm about halfway. Although ... now I'm thinking I should make a second one for Gavin, so perhaps I'm not quite that far ahead. Looks like I will have enough odd balls and remnants in my stash in various weights to come up with 24 different colour mitts. Hurray for that! I'm still trying to decide what to do about numbering them, so suggestions are welcome.

And last but not least, what's black and white and red all over? I'm making a pair of Hilja's Mittens  with just a few more rounds to go until the thumb on the first mitt. I'm loving them so far and hope to have at least one finished for my Year of Projects update on Sunday.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends. As always on Wednesdays, check the links at Tami's Amis to see what everyone else is up to!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Surmount the Stash July Update

It's time again to evaluate my progress towards my goals to Surmount the Stash. And the news is not all good.

Monthly budget of $50 for all knitting related expenses: You may recall that last month ended with a deficit of $144, and I pledged to do better but I completely blew it this month. I bought yarn and a pattern for the Summer of Socks to the tune of $34. I bought a skein of Candy Skein yarn for my Dragonfly socks to the tune of $20. I bought yarn and yarn gift certificates for gift giving to the tune of $45. And then there's my Loopy Ewe order which includes knitting accessories and yarn for planned Christmas gifts to the tune of $72.50. YIKES. My new deficit is $315.50. It's looking more and more like my $50 budget is terribly unrealistic. I guess we'll see how this shakes out by the end of the year.

Manage my WIPs: For the most part things that have been started are being finished. At this very moment though, I have three projects on the go - Dragonfly Socks, Hilja Mittens and my Smitten Advent Calendar. That's one more project than I should have, so I need to get those Dragonflies finished in the next couple of days. I'd also like to finish up Smitten before the Olympics start to clear the decks for my planned Ravellenic Games project -  a Clapotis scarf from mawata silk hankies.

Plan projects to work through my inventory of yarns in my Stash: Last month I made two pairs
of socks and I'm about three-quarter through a third pair. Add to that eight dishcloths and a handful of mini mittens, all from the stash. That's pretty good. Progress feels slow because so much of the yarn was fingering weight. One more thing? For my second Year of Projects I'm knitting the patterns in the book Folk Knitting in Estonia. I bought that book years ago, flipped through but have never knit a single pattern from it, until now. It's about time I used the patterns I already have.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Year of Projects 2: Hilja 01

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

It's a bit late in the day for this post - my apologies for that - but I delayed until I could at least show you this first project cast on. Then I delayed until I could show you all four colours. After which I thought, well maybe I should finish the cuff first? Which then led to the idea of holding off until I had worked a few rows of the hand chart. And that's where I find myself now. With fading light I figured I'd better post now, if I was still planning to post today at all!

This year I've elected to knit through the book "Folk Knitting in Estonia" by Nancy Bush. As part of my commitment to Surmount the Stash, I pledged to do a better job of knitting the patterns already in my library. I've owned this book for a few years now, and cracked it open for the first time today. There are twenty-six patterns in the book - a mixture of mitts, gloves and socks. The patterns are arranged in alphabetical order, so I feel no imperative to follow the pattern order set out. Instead I decided to start with Hilja's Mitts. Two reasons for that. First, most of the other patterns call for size 0 (2mm) needles which will still be in use for my Dragonfly socks for another couple of days. And secondly, mitts are a nice change from socks and an easier project to start with than gloves.

Continuing with the theme of knitting from my stash, these are all stash yarns. The white and red are Lannett superwash wool baby yarn, the grey is Sisu wool fingering yarn and the black is Kroy wool/nylon sock yarn. A natural off-white yarn - rather than this bright white - would give the mitts a more historically accurate appearance but I think it'll be just fine this way. 

Now that chart for the hand is calling me! I can never resist a stranded colourwork chart. Although twenty-six patterns seem like an imposing list, I think I might just get through it. I guess we'll have to see as we go along!