Saturday, February 28, 2009

done, sort of


*well, at least the knitting is done. The underarm stitches are still on pieces of scrap yarn waiting to be knit together. Dozens of yarn tails hang from the body and sleeves waiting to be woven in. And the whole thing would benefit from washing and blocking. With a bit of tugging to even out the tension at the colour-work panels.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

remember when?

Remember rushing to the bank at lunch time to deposit a paycheque? Long ago in the dark ages before bank machines? When all banking was done inside bank branches with tellers? Remember how time-consuming, frustrating and inconvenient it all was?

My first Sprocket Sock has been languishing for the last couple weeks. I couldn't figure out how long to make the instep to fit my friend Nancy. One thing I was sure of - her size 7 feet are tiny compared to mine! How amazingly helpful is this chart of foot dimensions for standard shoe sizes? Armed with the knowledge that the average size 7 woman's foot is 9.15" from heel to toe, I finished the instep, knit the toe decreases and finished the first sock. Ready to cast on the second sock tonight. How ever did I get on in the dark ages before the Internet?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a diversion

I needed a break. I needed a diversion. Just something quick and different. A pick-me-up project. Grabbed som Patons Look at Me Acrylic/Nylon blend yarn from my stash. The colourway? "Fun'n'Games" - it combines some of my favourite blues and greens with lilac. Very bright and fresh! And the plan is to make a doll, maybe as a baby shower gift for an expecting co-worker.

I have in mind a flat doll. A big round face with a matching body, and long arms and legs. Maybe 12 inches or so tall and maybe 1/2" thick. Kind of like a gingerbread cookie - front, back and then very uniform sides. So far I think I've started the head ... five needles, columns of increases and decreases at the sides to create the edge. But even as I write, I'm reconsidering. Maybe knit front and back as flat pieces, then the side as a ribbon of knitting all the way around? Think I'll give both ways a try!

Monday, February 23, 2009

still a ways to go

Several years ago, when Mom and I flew into Calgary we were struck by how close the Rockies appeared. From the airport windows it looked like you could walk to them. But, for mile after mile, the mountains didn't seem to get any closer. They're just that huge!

With the neckline of my Taiga sweater I keep thinking that it must be nearly done. But as I knit hour after hour the finish line stays just out of reach. I guess I underestimated how much knitting was involved in the yoke. Oh, I'm getting there - the rounds are noticeably shorter after several inches of raglan shaping. But it's just as well I haven't found a yarn I like for Bethany's Hat.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bethany's Hat

For quite some time I've been admiring Bethany's September Hat. For months. Since the first time I saw a picture of her wearing it on Ravelry. I just love the brim! I couldn't help myself, I pm'ed her to ask about the pattern. So I was thrilled with her pm to me yesterday - she has written up the pattern and posted it as a free download on her blog. Check it out! She's writing under the blog line with these hands ... there's a link in my sidebar. Now to find some lovely yarn for it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

an excuse

Yesterday I was supposed to be at the SnB at Creative Yarns. Yesterday I was supposed to be knitting my Sprockets Sock. Yesterday I was hoping to finish my first sock. And hoping to find some fresh, spring green yarn for my next little project.

But yesterday a westbound driver skidded through an intersection sideways crashing into our car, as Gavin and I waited in an eastbound lane for the traffic light to change. And you'll never guess what he did next! Call the police? Check whether anyone was injured? Inspect the damage on the cars? Nope, he called another driver to come get the pizzas awaiting delivery in his car. I guess if it's "30 minutes or it's free" that's a priority.

Nobody was hurt. There's plenty of damage to both cars, but both could be driven away. Our composite front bumper is broken, and the side panel adjacent to the headlight is bent. His front passenger door was caved in several inches. A nice woman at the accident scene volunteered as a witness that the other driver was completely at fault. After a couple hours at the Collision Reporting Centre, we were finally home. Just enough time for some reheated dinner and a rum and coke. Not one stitch knitted.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

one explanation

On a recent episode of The Agenda, Steve Paikin and his guests discussed whether narcissistic consumerism helped bring about the current economic woes. And as I listened, I was struck by the idea of the increasing materiality of our culture. Who we are is defined by our homes, our cars, our clothes and our gadgets. We've seen all the movies, we've eaten at the best and newest restaurants, we have 2000 songs on our iPods. We have more than we'll ever need and still want more. And when we go to work, few of us do anything that produces a tangible, useful product. Consumerism gone mad.

And some how it's one explanation of why I knit. Sitting quietly, using my mind and hands to to create knitted fabric is very soothing. Like a little holiday where I am in control and I am a producer of goods. Just wait - when I put on my Taiga sweater for the first time, it's going to feel great on so many different levels!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Family Day

It's Family Day here in Ontario - the Premier of Ontario designated the third Monday in February as a holiday a couple of years ago, bringing the number of yearly statutory holidays to nine. Because the holiday is not recognized federally, one in three don't get the day off. Too bad, really - we could all use a February holiday. My plans? Gavin and I are heading out to meet my brother at my Mom's so I can spend a quiet day with her. The knitting is all packed and ready to go.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

more sweater-like

It gets more sweater-like everyday. High winds and driving rain forced the postponement of my planned trip to Romni Wools this morning - to be rescheduled next week or the week after. So it's been an afternoon of soap operas and knitting. I feel a bit like I'm playing hookey but enjoying it nonetheless. Slowly, slowly inching towards the armholes, and then the yoke, and then the neck, and then ta-da, a sweater.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

can't wait

More rounds of sweater knitting - now about halfway through the body to the underarm. And it's gorgeous. That's some fine knitting if I do say so myself! Can't stop knitting and can't wait to finish and put it on!

Tomorrow Shirley, Christine and I are heading down to Romni Wools. The store is massive - jammed from floor to rafters with a huge assortment of yarn. The last thing I need is another project or more yarn, but there's sure to be some tempting sock yarns. And a nice gossipy lunch downtown.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

turning the heel

Last Thursday I realized that the SnB environment was not conducive to knitting complicated patterns. Wedged between a couple others on a sofa, pausing to munch on veggies and dip, and looking around during animated discussions - not much focus on the work at hand. Several rounds worked in my Sprockets sock, but lots of tinking back for errors of inattention. I stopped at the set up rows for the heel.

Common sense suggested that I work the heel flap and turn the heel ahead of this Thursday's SnB. Which I did last night. Paying careful attention to the pattern instructions, I made sure the pattern from the leg flows into the K1P2 rib of the heel flap. And added the reinforcing thread through the heel flap and the short rows of the heel turn to yield a thicker, more durable fabric. The colours of the reinforcing thread don't match up exactly to the main yarn, but close enough that it all blends together. Now hopefully I can keep track of the gusset decreases and the instep pattern while sipping coffee and munching cookies this coming Thursday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

welcome Sam

Late last summer I vacationed in New Brunswick with my brother and sister-in-law. And then returned again in November for a visit with my Mom. While there, Mom and I helped Patti learn to knit and start her first project - a baby blanket for her best friend who was expecting her first in December.

The blanket is the Bob Blankie from Mags Kandis - garter stitch stripes in vivid colours with interesting braided and knotted cords for finishing. Patti did a great job and finished in time to welcome Sam, who enjoys grabbing the knotted cords in his little fists. Pretty impressive for her first knitted project!

I'm working away at the body of my Taiga sweater and making good progress. The colourwork chart is done; I'm well into the main part of the body. At this point, more than a third of the way to the underarms. But what a lot of work a sweater is! And to think that there are knitters out there who knit a sweater every month or two!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

sweater weather

Thursday morning the thermometer read -13.7° when I got up in the morning. On Friday morning, -7.8°. This morning? +0.6°. Funny how mild it feels after weeks of snow and bitter cold. We're on our way to a forecast daytime high is +8°!

Every evening a few more rounds and a little more progress. By Sunday evening the colourwork panel should be complete, then just Sheep's Grey knitting all the way to the underarm. It'd be nice to finish while it's still sweater weather!

Friday, February 6, 2009

in the thick of it

Lots of fun at the SnB last night. A few faces I hadn't seen last week, and lots of interesting yarns and projects - socks, scarves, mittens, blankets and hats, in every colour of the rainbow. There was some oohing and aahing over my Sprockets Sock - partly because the pattern is a bit unusual and partly because I'm already at the start of the heel. I don't think many get the chance to knit everyday the way I do.

At home, after a late supper I had a chance to pick up the body of my Taiga sweater. After knitting a couple of pairs of socks I can hardly believe how long these rounds are. Even on relatively big needles with comparitively bulky yarn! I'm through the ribbing and into the colourwork, but it's slow going. Thank goodness the groundhog saw his shadow - I may need every one of those six more weeks of winter to finish my sweater!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

a surprise

It wasn't until I read about it on the Internet, that I even realized the spool of reinforcing thread was there, hiding in the centre of the ball of Jawoll Silk sock yarn. Curious as to what the colours might look like in finished projects, I googled the yarn and found this. Sure enough, rooting around in the centre of my yarn, I found the spool. Weird. I'd have thought that little surprise would be made a little more obvious on the ball band than a single line of fineprint. Or mentioned at the LYS.

The yarn has colours from dark to light, from rust to burgundy which knits up into subtle stripes. And the reinforcing thread on the little spool matches. Presumably at the heel and toes I knit a strand of the reinforcing thread along with the regular yarn to create stronger fabric. Wonder how successful I'll be in lining up the colours of the two yarns?

January and February are traditionally the slowest months at work. Leaving me with time at work to surf the web or knit. Yesterday I had time between assignments to knit a couple more of the 12 row pattern repeats. The pattern is well established and the graduated stripes of colour are evident. It's been a good exercise in learning to read charts. 'Til now, I've avoided charted patterns, but maybe I can put those fears to rest with these socks. At tonight's SnB I hope to knit the remainder of the leg. Given the current economic climate, I'm kind of hoping that I don't have time to knit at work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

covering my tracks

Since I'm planning to return for a second SnB tomorrow, I had to set some knitting priorities. You may recall that last week I bought yarn at the hosting store, cast on and knit the cuff of my first Sprockets Sock. Only to realize later that I had read the charts the wrong way. No option other than to rip it all out and start again. And, ideally, reknit the cuff correctly this time to as far or further than where I was last Thursday. Covering my tracks, allowing me to pretend the aforementioned miscue never happened.

Priority one - finish my Tidal Wave Socks to free up my only pair of 2.25mm needles. With a bit of knitting on the GO Train back and forth to work, and an hour more last night in front of the TV, I finished the second sock. It's a nice little pattern. Easy but not dull, resulting in a very comfortable pair of socks.

Priority two - with the 2.25mm needles, re-cast on and re-knit the cuff of my first Sprockets Sock. Knitting the cuff all wrong only took an hour or so, so reknitting it correctly took about the same amount of time. The cuff is done as well as most of the first pattern repeat of the leg. Just as well that I got a bit further - I hadn't realized that there are cables in the pattern, and I had to go in hunt of a cable needle. The yarn, Lang Jawoll Silk, knits up into bands of graduated colour. So far so good.

Priority three - the body of my Taiga sweater. I've cast on and worked the first few rounds ... just up to the colour work. Better get moving on this I think - it'd be a shame not to finish it while it's still cold enough to wear it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Things aren't nearly as far along as I had predicted - a few strategic miscalculations have seen to that. First, I overlooked the fact that the wool for my Taiga sweater is in hanks and must be rewound into balls before knitting. Doing it by hand, stretching the hanks around two chair backs takes a bit of time.

And then there's the cast on. Using the long tail method, I pulled a length of wool from the ball, started with my slip knot and then added stitches. On my first attempt, the tail wasn't nearly long enough - I ran out at 72 stitches. On my second try I got as far as 180 stitches , but still not enough tail. Third time was the charm. Although I was so frustrated that I erred on the side of caution and was left with a couple yards extra on the tail with 224 stitches on the needle.

This happens to me more often than not and it's got me thinking ... I should be able to predict how much yarn is needed for the tail. Today I'm going to work on a formula ... [(number of stitches) x (diameter of needle x π) x (1.10 or some sort of ease factor)]+ (extra tail for weaving in). Really, isn't this what all my math studies were leading up to?

Monday, February 2, 2009

couch potato knitting

From the initial coin toss through to the final play of the fourth quarter, I knit my second Tidal Wave sock through the Super Bowl. And I'll admit, the game was more entertaining than I expected. Did you see the goal line interception run back 100 yards for a touchdown at the end of the second quarter? And that touchdown reception in the back corner of the end zone in the final minutes? As for who won, I can't say it matters to me - the Super Bowl is the only NFL game I've taken the time to watch this season.

My sock? It's 2/3rds done ... barring something unexpected, it should be done tonight. I can hardly believe how quickly this knitting has gone. The KAL started January 16 and runs through to mid March. I'll be done very early, possibly amongst the first of the 134 knitters in the KAL group. If it seems like I'm rushing, it may be because I'm trying to free up the needles for my Sprockets Socks. Next time I'm at a LYS I should really pick up another set of 2.25mm dpns!

My plan for this evening is to cast on the body of my Taiga Sweater. The sleeves have been done since before Christmas - this project has been hibernating for the last month. This morning I pulled a ball of Sheep's Grey Heritage Wool from my stash and took a deep, satisfying breath of the rustic wooly smell. Mmmmmm. Reheat some homemade curry for dinner, settle on the sofa to watch the new episode of Chuck, and start knitting the body of my sweater - sounds like a plan!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Yesterday's project was to finish my Renee Baby Blanket. And the biggest part of that task was making the tassels. Really - 162 pieces of yarn, each 7" long, all the while being carefully watched by a very interested cat!

Instead of 7" lengths, I grabbed a clear acrylic quilting ruler that is 6.5" square and wrapped the yarn 81 times around that. Close enough, right? I was nervous that I wouldn't have enough yarn, but with what remained on the last ball and a few of the long tails snipped off after weaving in the end, I just made it!

After wrapping the yarn I used strips of masking tape to secure the yarn top and bottom. Then, with a rotary cutter I cut the yarn, top and bottom, where it wrapped around the edges of the acrylic quilting ruler. Leaving me with two very tidy groups of tassel yarns - the masking tape keeps the strands together and aligned.

Using a small crochet hook, I gently tugged 3 strands at a time from the strip of masking tape and added tassels as directed by the pattern. It's a nice finishing touch for the blanket. And the blanket is done. To block it, I machine washed it in cold water on a gentle setting, then tumble dried it on low heat just until it was slightly damp. Then I arranged it over my hallway railing and let it hang dry.

It's a lovely blanket - I'm really happy with it. And, by the way, it was a close call on the yarn. Less than a metre left, which is actually ideal. Not enough to even worry about saving.