Monday, August 31, 2009


Here's the first finished work from my test knitting - a very thick, warm and sturdy pair of slippers. Tabitha hasn't decided on a name for the pattern yet, but she's looking for suggestions if you have any ideas. I've used Briggs and Little Heritage in Heather Green for the main colour - which is actually more of a aquamarine blue as shown in the picture. And the darker colour in the recessed waves at the cuffs? Briggs and Little Heritage in Seafoam. I'm very pleased with the subtle effect of the two colours together. Now I just have to work up the nerve to try the puffy paint for the treads. That'll have to wait until this evening.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

test knitting

I'm relieved to say that I like these socks better after washing and blocking. Glynis is still not in the running for my favourite Cookie A pattern, not even close, but it's yielded a nice, wearable pair of socks. And it's a relief to have them done and off the needles. Too bad I'm not as happy about the yarn - particularly as it's one of the more expensive hand-dyed yarns I've ever purchased. Oh well, live and learn.

Starting Friday evening and finishing Saturday morning I knit the first of the patterns that I'm test knitting for Tabitha - a pair of two colour slipper socks. A really quick knit - ankle height socks in worsted wool! They're drying on sock blockers now. Once dry, I'm going to try my hand at a slip-resistant tread using Tulip® Puffy Paint. My brother's family just moved into a big old house with refinished wood floors, so I think they'll be a perfect house-warming gift for my sister-in-law. When it's all done, and after Tabitha's posted the final pattern to Ravelry, I'll post some pictures of the socks. And let you know how the tread thing works out.

Friday, August 28, 2009


That's them. Soaking in Eucalan in the kitchen sink. Finished grafting the toe of the second sock in time for breakfast. And, fingers crossed, the soaking is going to make a world of difference to the texture and comfort of these socks. Goodness knows, they won't suffer from a lack of soaking - I completely forget them in the sink when I left for work. By the time I get home, they'll have soaked 9 hours - a bit longer than the 20 minutes suggested on the Eucalan label. But it can't hurt, can it?

And yes, that's my new in counter soap dispenser at the corner of the sink - Gavin installed it last weekend. With all the flu viruses going around, you can't be too careful. Especially in the kitchen!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

looking forward

Finished the heel flap, turned the heel, worked the gusset and made my way well into the main part of the foot. Barring anything unexpected, I should finish my second Glynis sock. And not a minute too soon - my fingers are feeling sore and burnt from the tough and ropey texture of the wool. I'm definitely regretting that I didn't wash this wool before casting on. After I washed my swatch it softened up nicely. But unwashed it's really unpleasant to knit. Oh well, soon enough I'll be casting on heathery greens and blues in Briggs & Little yarn for Tabitha's slipper socks. Maybe even get them done in time as a house-warming present for my sister-in-law?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

almost at the finish line

For the last couple days I've struggled with the lace pattern on my second Glynis sock. Not sure why - I just kept going wrong. Whatever the mental block was, it has cleared now. I've knit the remainder of the leg without trouble and started the heel flap. Should be able to finish over the next few days. If it seems like I'm in a hurry, I'll admit, I am. These socks haven't really been an enjoyable knit. Hopefully when they're done, washed and blocked I'll feel more kindly towards them.

Yesterday Tabitha asked me to test knit and proofread a couple patterns. The Briggs & Little wool in my stash may be just right for the slipper socks. I can't wait to get started. But you know the rules - I have to finish the Glynis sock before starting anything new.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm feeling very spoiled today. Look what arrived in the post yesterday! A completely unexpected and unsolicited gift of yarn and shawl pins. And they are gorgeous. The yarn is from Yarn Candy Sweet Fiber, hand-dyed by Melissa in Langley BC. Definitely worth a trip to her Mom's LYS, 88 Stitches. And the shawl pins were handmade by Joan. The blue one's my fave - the beads are that deep indigo blue that you can just drown yourself in. With gorgeous new sock yarn to motivate me, it's not surprising that I made good progress on my second Glynis sock. Suddenly I'm in a hurry to finish so I can start something new!

Monday, August 24, 2009

a few things done

One in-progress project wasn't a knitting project at all. At the Spinrite tent sale I wandered into the fabric area and spotted a faux chenille blanket on display. I'd never seen anything like it, and had to try it for myself. So I promptly purchased a few yards of 3 different flannelettes, some 505 spray and slash cutter. It was easy to do and creates an interesting effect. I may do a few more, but next time, smaller, with the chenille rows tighter together and with a quilt style mitred binding. The really nice thing is that it's done, the sewing machine, iron and ironing board put away, and the house already looks tidier.

The first orange hat is also done. I know babies sleep through loud noises, I just hope they sleep through loud colours as well. Psst ... if you're really quiet, and hold your head close to your monitor, you may just hear Jane cheering at the cheerful tangerine orange.

The second Glynis sock? That's been a struggle. Seems like every couple of rows I check my stitch count only to find I've gone wrong again. Aargh!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

wild weather

On Thursday evening the weather in Southern Ontario was wild. The day had been unbearably hot and humid - when the cold front arrived things became very unsettled. The skies darkened and clouds gathered as I drove home from work. By the time we finished supper, the skies had turned a most unhealthy shade of green. We listened to radio reports of tornados touching down at Vaughan and Durham, and reports of funnel clouds making their way through the downtown core and out at the airport. I didn't do much knitting. Instead we watched the sky, ready to bolt to the basement. Turns out, we got off easy - a dramatic thunderstorm and rain. When the storm ended the skies lightened to a beautiful golden sunset, shown at right on Gavin's webcam.

Restarting my second Glynis sock waited until Friday. But the cuff is redone (correctly, this time), the set up rows for the leg have been worked, as well as the first lace repeat. For the next several days I'm going to try to finish projects and get some of my charity projects wrapped up for shipment. Which will hopefully tidy up the living room/dining room at the same time. And then I think it's time to start thinking about Christmas knitting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

back to socks

With my Scrub•Bee dishcloth project complete, it was time to reacquaint myself with my Glynis socks. But halfway through the first round of the set-up for the leg pattern on the second sock I realized I'd done the ribbed cuff wrong. An error of inattention, I think. Just mindlessly ribbing K2P2s halfway across the second needle instead of minding the chart. So I've ripped it all out, so that I can start again tonight.

In the meantime, my stack of hats for the Burera Hospital in Rwanda is slowly growing. These little hats have been my take along projects - compact and easy for knitting on buses, subways and trains, and for knitting at work. On the subway yesterday a passenger opposite me was knitting a complicated sock pattern, toe-up, two-at-a-time, magic loop. Impressive, that. I can only manage short rows of ribbing or stockinette on transit. Imagine being caught mid-row on something complicated when your stop is announced!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

mission accomplished

Yippee! Thanks to DropBox I was able to find free online hosting for my pattern PDF. Click the picture of the Scrub•Bee dishcloth in the left sidebar to download a free copy. After sorting that out, I contributed the pattern to the Ravelry database, then added it to my project page. There are still a couple of details to sort out to get a picture of the dishcloth on the pattern details page in Ravelry - I'm told it may take a couple of weeks. But look! Someone favorited my dishcloth project!

Monday, August 17, 2009

now in green

The dishcloth pattern is done, proofread and test knit. This morning I sent a PDF of the pattern with a couple of photos to a pattern hosting website and will post a link as soon as it's there. Very exciting!

In the meantime, the parade of hats for the Burera Hospital in Rwanda continues. One more green hat is done, and a third pink hat on the needles. With a Sunday afternoon spent at Jane's - crafting, chatting and snacking - I made it through the ribbing and into the main stockinette part. Time for a new colour, I think. Maybe orange next?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

checking it twice

Just as well that I took the time to proofread and test knit my dishcloth pattern to look for mistakes. Because there were lots. Enough that I think I should fix the pattern, and then after a few days break, come back and test knit it again. Just to be sure that I've caught them all. It'd be a shame to have done all this work and not get it completely right, wouldn't it?

And today I learned a new word - "scuppers". Those are the handy little holes that drain the water from the deck of my new sit-on-top kayak. It's very nice to paddle about and stay relatively dry and comfortable. Gavin and I did over 5km this aft, paddling to the mouth of the Rouge River and back. The kayak even has a nifty little storage hatch that's big enough for water bottles, flip-flops, a waterproof camera and plenty of room to spare. I suppose there'd even be room enough for some knitting, but I need both hands to paddle!

Friday, August 14, 2009

a few more hats

Now that the pattern is charted and written out row by row, it's time to get busy test knitting. I want to do my best to fix any errors before I launch the pattern out into the world. Gavin thought I should publish as is, and then revise if/when I hear about errors ... at least he thought that until I showed him Ravelry's Pattern Hall of Shame. Yikes!

In the meantime, I'm still knitting newborn hats for the Burera Hospital in Rwanda. I cast on my sixth hat last night - another pink hat. My second Glynis sock is on hold - it's too complicated for knitting on subways and buses. Maybe I'll get somewhere with that this weekend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

pattern design work

No more rash promises about when the pattern will be posted. Every day brings renewed appreciation about what's involved in pattern design and publication. It may be a few more days yet before I'm ready. The pattern has been finalized, charted and test knit twice. The row by row instructions are in progress, and, once complete, will need to be test knit a couple more times. I've decided to call the pattern "Scrub•Bee" and designed a treatment for the pattern name. And with the last few days of bright sunshine, I've finally got photos that I'm happy with - no easy feat with off white cotton cloths. All this work, just for a dishcloth! I shudder to imagine the herculean efforts involved in bringing a book like Sock Innovation to print.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

tent sale

Two and a half hours there, two and half hours back, but still worth it! Shirley, Christine and I made a day trip to the Spinrite Tent Sale. And came home with bags and bags of yarn. My best deal was dishcloth cotton picked out of the Factory Mill Ends bin - natural colour, 100% cotton for $2.65/ lb. And I had to laugh, in every second car in the parking lot was a husband looking pained and impatient.

Also, I've finalized the pattern for my Bee dishcloth. Phew. Hopefully I can get the pattern written up and good pictures ready for a blog post tomorrow!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

between the thunderstorms

With thunderstorms and heavy rain showers both days of the weekend, there was plenty of opportunity to knit. And plenty of opportunity to refine the pattern for my bee dishcloth. Adjusting the shape of the body and the wings. Adjusting the thickness of the seed stitch borders. Adjusting the length and direction of the legs. Now on my sixth attempt, the pattern is almost there. Gavin just shakes his head every time I rip out and start again - all for a dishcloth. Hopefully after a few more adjustments, I'll finally be ready to write up the pattern. I'll post it as soon as it's done.

When the sun broke through for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon, we dropped everything to get outside for a while. And headed to Frenchman's Bay on Lake Ontario, a distance of 15 minutes or so by car. Seems like everyone else had the same idea. Sailboats dotted the horizon, seadoos buzzed nearer to the shore, and young kids bodyboarded in the shallow surf. Several Monarch butterflies were flitting around the wildflowers at the side of the channel. It's definitely August, if the Monarchs are here.

The Spinrite factory outlet annual tent sale starts Monday. Mom and I went last year - we didn't buy much, but we enjoyed the outing in rural Ontario. Shirley, Christine and Jean are coming with me this year. Maybe I should buy more dishcloth cotton ... in case I need a few more tries to perfect the bee pattern!

Friday, August 7, 2009

the buzz

It was love at first sight - the bee glasses and me. I love the heavy bases, the pressed glass bees and the simple shapes of the glassware. Over the years I've wrapped many of these as gifts for my friend Nancy - perfect for the cottage. And she loves them too.

Last weekend at the cottage, Nancy asked if I could knit dishcloths. Wouldn't it be great if I could design a dishcloth pattern that echos the bee pattern of the glassware? How hard can it be? In fact, harder than I thought. On my first attempt, the bee pattern was created from purl stitches in a field of stockinette, and was too subtle. On my second attempt, I changed the wings to all purl, changed the body of the bee to bobbles, and shifted to smaller needles. Better, but still more work to do. The bee looks elongated, so I'm going to eliminate a couple of bobble rows. And I like the arcing top legs compared to the lower legs that are straight columns of purls. The wings need to be taller and reach higher on the bee. But it's starting to take shape. And they'll make Nancy laugh, no matter how many dishes she has to wash!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

the first sock

That's the first Glynis sock done. Hard to say what the sock is like - the unwashed yarn is making the knitted fabric stiff and inflexible, which does the sock no favours. Right now the heel feels chunky, the leg of feels inelastic and the patterned stitches are very rigid. My plan? Knit the second sock so that I can wash and block them together. And then we'll see. Based on my swatching experience, it should make a world of difference.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a giant leap

The last few days have seen steady progress on my first Glynis sock. Just a couple rows left on the gusset, then the foot and toe to finish. But something happened in row 7 of the chart for the top of the foot. The chart indicates that the third stitch should be K3tog, but it can't be - there's no corresponding increase to make up for decreasing two stitches. After expressing my annoyance to Gavin, I changed it to a K2tog and completed the chart. "Are you sure you're right?" he asked. And that was when I realized what had happened. I was sure. Without hesitation. I knew the chart was wrong, and I was right.

For just over a year I've been focused on my knitting - trying new things, trying to do things right, challenging myself to become a better knitter. Yesterday, I saw concrete proof of improvement. Because a year ago, I'd definitely have put more stock in the chart than in myself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunny weather socks

On this first summer weekend of perfect weather I had the good fortune to find myself in a Muskoka Chair at the shore of Lake Erie. A perfect spot to get to work on my first Glynis sock. The pattern is not complicated - although I'll admit, it took me more than one try to get through the first few repeats of the lace pattern. But now that I've finished five repeats, I've pretty much got it down, knock on wood. Unlike most Cookie A. patterns there's not a lot of drama. No travelling stitches. No complicated charts. Short easily memorized pattern rows. Plain knit on alternate rows. But an attractive and comfortable result, I think.

And over the next couple of days I'm going to have a look at dishcloth patterns to knit. I have a few balls of dishcloth cotton from my Mom ... when the cottage owner asked if I could knit a couple of dishcloths for her, it seemed like an ideal way to use them.