Friday, February 28, 2014

Finished Object Friday

Pattern: Looped Loop by Kirsten Johnstone

Yarn: Mad Tosh Pashmina in "Esoteric" colourway

Needle Size: US 8 (5mm)

Modifications: None.

Comments: It's a very simple pattern - well, up until the part where you need to graft the two ends together in a ribbed pattern - but it's the pattern I kept coming back to when I was searching for the perfect knit for a single precious skein of Pashmina. Perhaps it's the simplicity that makes for a perfect accessory?

The skein was one of many presents I was spoiled with at my birthday last year from my sister-n-law and brother. My SIL is a knitter, so she knew just what yarn would make a birthday really special. It's my first experience with Pashmina, and it deserves every nice thing ever said about it. It's a merino, cashmere and silk blend that's gorgeously soft without being fuzzy, with lovely stitch definition and just enough spring for a smooth, even fabric. And I bet it's warm and snuggly without being heavy or bulky! This morning's temperature is -16° so I'll be wearing it out the door to work today.

Knitting as directed by the pattern to 44" long left me with just a few grams leftover. Perfect! With a yarn this gorgeous, I really wanted to use every single inch. Don't you love it when things work up exactly as you'd hoped and planned?!

It's Friday which means there's lots to see over at Tami's Amis for Finished Object Friday. Lots of perfect and gorgeous and lovely and ... so much to see.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Year of Projects 3: De Stijl 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

With my Ravellenic Games project off the needles I can finally concentrate on the next pair of socks: De Stijl. The pattern is really interesting, with long strands created and then picked up a handful or rounds later.

As you can imagine it's not particularly stretchy, so lots of knitters have warned about sizing ... don't go too small. On my first attempt I cast on for the large size and worked 2 yarn overs at each float to keep them loose enough. But after working an inch or two of the leg it was obviously too big and the stranding was too loose. Nothing for it but to rip out and start again. The medium size - 63 sts on 2.5mm needles - with one yarn over at each float worked for me. But note that I switched down to 2.25mm needles before the heel because I like negative ease at the arch and through the foot.

The pattern works best with variegated yarn, so I've dug into my stash for this skein of Sydney Sock with Nylon. The colourway "Cheboygan River" is more neon blue/green than the photos show - from bright cyans, through periwinkle blues and kelly greens all the way to deep indigo navy blues. The more colours represented, the better the stranding looks.

The top of the leg starts with a provisional cast on which is then worked together with the working stitches 16 rounds later to create a folded double-thickness cuff. I worked a crocheted provisional cast on using the instructions here and it unzipped beautifully. Hurray! Finally, I don't have to cringe every time I see the words "provisional cast on"! In fact, I can now do it without a tutorial in front of me, so that's progress.

Sock two is already well underway - five more bands of stranding before the heel. Once at the heel, the remainder of the sock is just plain old vanilla stockinette, so this should just fly off the needles. Time to start looking at the stash to pick a yarn for the next pattern: Shur'tugal. For me, looking at finished projects for this pattern in Ravelry is the best way for me to visualize what yarn will suit the pattern best. What did we ever do before Ravelry?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Finished Object Friday

Sea of Dreams Baby Blanket by Aimee Alexander

Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby in "Little Mouse" colourway

Needle Size: US 3 (3.25mm) and US 4 (3.5mm)

Modifications: None.

Comments: This was my Ravellenic Games project in the Giant Slalom-ghan event. I cast on during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and bound off Saturday Febraruy 15th.  As near as I can figure I finished 25th in a field of 820 international competitors. Maybe not medal-worthy, but I'm happy with that.

The pressure of competitive knitting was good for me - it was what kept me going through the tiresome middle part of the blanket. That's not meant to be a knock on the pattern; it's just I get bored with long repetitive seemingly endless rows. Blankets are a struggle for me.

The yarn was a but disappointing. It knit up with a fuzziness that I didn't expect based on its appearance when purchased. It's also quite splitty if you've tinked back a row, but for the price it's still a good deal. I've machine washed and dried the blanket and it looks great. I purchased three balls - 1086 yards total - and knit until the yarn ran out. The resulting blanket is 34" x 38" after blocking.
The pattern is really beautiful. I'll definitely knit it again. In fact, I may or may not have ordered this yarn to knit another :)

Mr. Dress-Up by Valerie Johnson

Yarn: Top Cat MCN in "Sandalwood" colourway

Needle Size: US 1 (2.25mm)

Modifications: I lengthened the ribbing on the cuffs and ended the final repeat of the leg 9 stitches before the end of round to centre the diamond motif on the instep.

Comments: When Valerie published this free pattern and announced a KAL, I knew I was in. It's been a cold winter here and some non-lacy, non-fussy hand knit socks are just what the doctor ordered. When I bought this yarn I was on the lookout for a simple masculine pattern, and this pattern delivers. It's a quick and easy knit - although there's lots of purling - and the finished sock is very handsome. And if you hurry, there's still more than a week to join the KAL and qualify for prizes :)

Happy Friday everyone! We're having a very windy and rainy Friday here, but you'll get no complaints from me. If the precipitation is falling as rain, it's above zero and that's awesome. For sure there's more snow coming in March, but the mountainous snow piles are melting leaving us with somewhere to shovel the next load of snow. Friday is also Finished Object Friday at Tami's Amis - why not follow me over there to see all the other finishes, and maybe stumble over a medal winner or two?!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Year of Projects 3: Fiori di Zucca 04

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

Ripping back seemed much too scary on this sock, so instead I painfully tinked back four rounds to restart the heel expansion chart correctly. You'd think I'd be away to the races then, but no. After working the heel expansion and the heel cup I got stuck again. This time I confused myself with the shadow-wrapped short rows. I wrongly convinced myself that the heel turn was worked only across the stitches of the heel cup. Finally after two days of knitting and tinking, I reached out to the KAL group on Ravelry, and even as I was typing my problem I could see where I'd gone wrong ... there were 54 stitches that I was wrongly thinking were the instep. Obviously I needed to borrow from those stitches to complete the heel turn! A 54 stitch instep would be huge!

Once I got that straightened out, I really was away to the races. Sock one was done a day later and sock two, a couple of days after that. Really, it almost seemed like sock two knit itself! Truthfully, I was rushing a bit. I wanted these socks off the needles before the Ravellenic Games. After all, the last thing I needed was to set these aside and then have more trouble when I tried to pick them up again.

There's been lots of knitting time around here; Gavin and I are both still sick. Seriously, it's been weeks now! We've been back and forth to doctors, we've tried fistfuls of prescriptions and I'm starting to think the only thing that will help is spring. Hopefully that d@mn groundhog was wrong!