Friday, August 30, 2013

FO Friday: Craft Show Items

Pattern: Cat Paws Christmas Stocking by Michele Wilcox

Yarn: Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny

Hook Size: US H (5 mm)

Modifications: I stuffed my fish to make him 3D

Comments: When I saw this pattern, I thought this might be a good item for a Christmas Craft Show & Sale, along with the corresponding Dog Paws Christmas Stocking. I couldn't help but notice at the summer outdoor market how many shoppers were accompanied by dogs! And after crocheting up a test sample I still think so, in no small part because of how quick and easy it was. The pattern is extremely well written, with stitch counts everywhere you'd want them. The shaping is well done, the sewing up is easy and the finished project looks exactly like the pattern photo. Not often you can say that!

Although I made my stocking exactly as written, I may replace the big fish with three little fish. I'm not sure though - that big red fish is growing on me.  Let's defer that decision until after a first dog paw stocking is made; it's dog bone decoration is similarly sized.

Pattern: Jerry the Musical Monkey by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock

Hook Size: US 1 (2.25 mm)

Modifications: Knit at smaller size using miniaturizing mods courtesy of mostlymunchies. With this yarn and these needles he ended up 5" tall from top of head to bottom of feet. Switched yarn colours in body and mouth to mimic sock monkey colours.

As I was knitting the arms I thought they were too short so I added several rows. Now he has crazy long arms! When will I ever learn to follow directions?!

Comments: Another pattern test for the upcoming Christmas Craft Show & Sale. Considering it was knit and finished in a couple of days without much effort, and considering everyone who sees him, wants him, I think he's a success. It's a pretty good way to use up sock yarn leftovers.

It's the Friday before a long weekend - aren't those the best?! Chances are work will be very quiet today. I might even be able to get a good start on that dog paw stocking! What are you up to? I hope you'll join me over at Tami's Amis to see more finished objects!

Friday, August 23, 2013

FO Friday: Surprise Baby Blanket

Pattern: Surprise by Cinzia New York

Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK

Needle Size: US 8 (5 mm)

Modifications: I used a fairly lightweight yarn on biggish needles for a very drapey blanket... almost a wrap, really. I added three repeats to the width and then knit the chart 48 times until the yarn was gone. Another game of Yarn Chicken won: less than 2 yards left.

Comments: At the beginning of June I purchased a half dozen skeins of Berroco Vintage DK with the idea of working a border on some crocheted hexagons to finish one blanket and to make a second blanket with the leftovers of that border colour. That worked out better than I could have hoped. This second blanket has worked up at 36" x 48" - a really nice, generously sized blanket.

The pattern is very simple - mock cable and traveling eyelets. It works up very quickly and yields a very beautiful result. I started and finished mine in about two and half weeks. I'd definitely consider this pattern again for another baby blanket. Typically I can knit the first half of a baby blanket enthusiastically but then entirely run out of steam for the second half. This blanket was on and off the needles before I even had a chance to get tired of it. Perfect!

The yarn is labelled as "Machine wash and lay flat to dry". This weekend I'm going to try laundering it according to those directions to make sure it's durable enough for everyday use. Well actually I also intend to tumble dry on low until it's just damp! I picked up a delicates bag for in the washer/dryer with the hope that separating it that way will keep it from pilling during the agitation. If necessary, I'll gift a delicates bag along with the blanket. My feeling is that I'd rather know how well it launders before I give it away. I'd hate to hand it over to a new Mom only to find out it was wrecked at the first washing. We'd both feel badly about that.

The Berroco Vintage is a really lovely yarn to work with. It's blissfully soft, not too splitty and comes in a gorgeous range of colours. If the laundering experiment works out, I'll definitely buy more for children's items like this. Fingers crossed!

Happy Friday everyone. And you know the drill - go check out all the great things on this Finished Object Friday over at Tami's Amis!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Hundred Acre Woods 01

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I missed posting last week - sorry - but things were so hectic that I can't actually believe it's been a week and a half since I've even looked at my blog. One more sign that I've been busy? Almost no knitting done. Seriously! That's what you get when you start thinking you're ahead of the game, right?

In all that time I've managed to finish the first sock of my Hundred Acre Wood pair. Although I've cast on sock two, it's still at the toe so there's no point in showing you that. At least now I can rest assured that switching down to a smaller needle and knitting the medium size is going to work for me. There are lots of participants in the KAL struggling to get these socks to fit! Thank goodness mine are working out fine.

When I started I was concerned that this colourway of Dragonfly Fibers sock yarn might be too busy for the pattern, but I needn't have been. It's fine I think. More than fine, really ... it's all my favourite colours with cashmere!

On top of working morning, noon and night, I'm also trying to get a quilt face finished. Next weekend I'll see my SIL at a family function and I'd dearly love to hand it off to her for longarm quilting ahead of the Christmas rush. If I get it done, I'll post a pic next week. It's a braided scrap quilt. With six braids done, and with each braid finishing at 7" wide, and with a plan for three borders totalling 8" on each side of the centre panel, I figure I need another 3-4 braids to make a reasonable size quilt. I could add sashing between the braids to widen it, but I'm hoping not to. I really like the look of the braids butting up to each other. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

For the last several weeks my focus has been almost exclusively on socks - mostly because I signed up for a Socktopus KAL in May and by the time I cast on the first sock I was almost three pairs behind. But I'm caught up now and have made a start on Hundred Acre Woods. The KAL for this pattern runs until the end of September so there's no need to hurry.

It's one of my early favourites in the book. I've cast on the medium size on smaller than suggested needles because it seems like the socks in this book knit up largish. Much better to take steps towards more snug-fitting socks!

The KAL has a number of indy yarn dyers as sponsors and donating prizes. For this yarn I ordered some Djinni Sock from Dragonfly Fibers. It's a nice, plump MCN and the colours are gorgeous. This colourway is called Oberon. The variegation looks a bit busy now, but I expect after I knit a few more repeats the pattern will emerge more strongly.

On Saturday I cast on a blanket to use up the remaining Berroco Vintage DK in my stash. Surprise has been in my queue forever - it'll make a lovely baby gift for some expectant parents I know. The baby is due in early November so, again, I have plenty of time. But considering that I've knit almost a third of the blanket in just a handful of days it doesn't look like I'll need all that time. The pattern really is as simple and mindless as the designer advertises.

And it's quite lovely, I think. I cast on 167 stitches for a slightly larger blanket. Initial measurements suggest my finished blanket is going to be about 38" x 48". That's a good size right? On smaller needles it would have been smaller and sturdier, but I decided I wanted a light, drapey and lacy blanket - something the baby could actually be wrapped and swaddled in.

That's it for me today. It's a rainy day here for Work-in-Progress Wednesday. As always, check out the links at Tami's Amis!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Spring Shoots 02

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

Once I got over my fear of snipping open holes in my knitted feet for afterthought legs, the pair of Spring Shoots socks were off the needles pretty quickly. Just think - the KAL for this pattern ends on August 31st so now I'm ahead of schedule. Time to cast on a few side projects rather knitting monogamously on socks!

The yarn I used was Socktopus Sokkusu Original in a colourway called "Slice of Orange" It's very bright; the perfect choice for when you want to see the stitches clearly. The yarn is lovely - a nice twist, springy and not at all splitty - but it's a light fingering. When I'm knitting on patterns like this that ask for  US 1-1/2 (2.5 mm) needles, I'd rather something a bit fuller for a sturdier fabric. This yarn really begs to be knit on size 0 (2 mm) needles.

I'm not over the moon about these socks. There are lots of construction elements that make them an interesting knit but they don't give the greatest fit. The star toe and heel look dramatic, but I hate the feel of increases over the tops of my toes and under the pads of my toes. With the spiralling increase I never really feel like the sock is properly square on my foot. And then there's that persistent wrinkle at the back of my heel!! The gusset increase strategy was too spread out over the instep - leaving the sock baggy at my arch. And a seed stitch cuff looks cool but it's not stretchy and it's not doing a thing to help these sock stay up. Overall the sock feels a bit thin and a bit large ... maybe I'll like them more after a trip through the washer and dryer?!

Hopefully the next pair of socks in the KAL fit better. The pattern is Hundred Acre Woods - one of my early favourites in the book. The KAL runs from August 1st to September 30th - no pressure at all. I've chosen a yarn from one of the KAL sponsors: Djinni Sock from Dragonfly Fibers in a colourway called "Oberon". And thankfully it's thicker than it's predecessor.

Now, what else to cast on? I guess I'd better spend a bit of time looking through my stash today to see what I could knit up! A shawl? A baby blanket? Something else? Probably a baby blanket using the remaining Berroco Vintage in my stash.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finished Object Friday

Pattern: Shark Week by Lisa Grossman (Tsarina of Tsocks), size Large

Yarn: Cascade Heritage in Snow and Grey Colourways
The flesh colour was created by tea-dyeing 80 yds of Snow

Needle Size: US 0 (2 mm)

Modifications: I went down a needle size because my yarn was quite thin, so I knit the large size and came out about a woman's size 7. After including the optional nostrils on sock one,  omitted them on the second sock as they made the snout flimsier without really adding any impact. Also, I chose to add the gills with embroidery after finishing the socks rather than working them inline with lateral stitches. Similarly I added the nail polish to the victims foot on the completed sock with duplicate stitching rather than working it inline with festive intarsia. The teeth as written are to be worked as twisted-point picot bind offs, but I struck out on trying to find instructions for that, so I worked them as plain old picot bind-offs. My sock two came out longer than sock one - presumably I mis-measured the shark's body - so I ripped back and shortened the victim foot area.

Comments: When the pattern came out, it pretty quickly went viral on FB, Twitter and Pinterest. A surfer from the local surf shop posted them on my wall with the comment "You gotta knit these!". I didn't really consider it at first - the pattern was exclusive to sock club members so there was no chance. But then came Hurricane Sandy. As it turns out, designer Lisa Grossman was in the path of the hurricane and decided to offer the Shark Week pattern for a limited time to raise funds for Hurricane Relief. That's a really cool pattern and a really great cause, so yup, count me in!

Hands down, this is the hardest sock pattern I've ever attempted. The socks use quite a range of techniques - a provisional cast on, a turkish cast on, shadow-wrapped short row shaping, and so on. And take my word for it, you'd better be proficient at reading your knitting and ripping out as well! It's a brilliant pattern - really, I think Lisa Grossman must be one of the awesomest, crazy skilled knitters ever - but it's a big challenge for a knitter like me. Sock one is knitted toe up and sock two is knitted cuff down. What really makes it confusing is the sock is almost entirely knit inside out so that the bumpy purl side of the sharkskin pattern forms the right side, and at any given time you are juggling several instructions at once - increasing or decreasing while keeping the pattern aligned, short row shaping, working fin bases ... YIKES!

Here's some perspective: the designer sold the pattern for $40 in November 2012 as a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief and raised over $23,000. That means that at least 575 knitters purchased the pattern in addition to those who got the pattern as members of the designer's sock club. If you look on Ravelry there are only eight finished projects for this pattern ... and two of them are knit by the same person so I'm only the SEVENTH person in the whole world to finish them even though the pattern's been out for 8-9 months. This first pair took me three months from start to finish, although through much of that time the socks sat in time-out because I was frustrated or because I just couldn't give them my full, undivided attention.

But now this first pair is done and I couldn't be happier with them! They are actually well-fitting, comfortable, very wearable socks. Sorry about the grainy photos - my friend modelled them in a rather dark pub and I took the photos with my phone :) I've promised a second pair to a friend who is a school teacher and an avid scuba diver and after that I'm not sure. There's a long line of folks who've let me know they'd like a pair ...

It's Friday, the start of a long weekend here in Ontario, so you know the drill! Hurry over to Tami's Amis to see what everyone else is sharing on this Finished Object Friday!