Wednesday, September 30, 2009

fiddly fingers

This morning I find myself part way through the fiddly finger bits of the second glove. Ring finger, pinkie and thumb still to finish. And then all the ends to weave in. It'll have to wait until tonight, I guess. Still, they've worked up quite quickly - after knitting sock yarn, the worsted weight wool seems huge. I'm toying with the idea of felting these but I'm concerned about whether they'd end up too small. I've only ever felted one thing and find it a bit scary. Maybe I'll knit a second pair to try it. One thing I know for sure, Gavin won't want his plain grey gloves experimented with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the first glove

The first of Gavin's gloves is finished, and the second is on the needles. Nearly at the fiddly finger bits, so maybe I'll finish it tonight. They'll do the trick, but the worsted weight wool makes the glove awkwardly bulky. If I were to do them again, I'd switch to a lighter wool, add a lining if necessary, and maybe carry a ribbed pattern across the back of the hand to improve the fit.

The second Mr Pitt's Sock is also progressing. The heel is done and I've worked the gusset decreases. Should finish in the next day or two.

And Hat Wars? I'm one of 46 of the original 139 knitters still in it. But only thanks to the slowness of Canada Post. The hat that'll knock me out of the competition has been on its way for over a week. Might be waiting in the mailbox when I get home from work tonight!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Alpaca Farm Days

Alpaca Farm Days
- now there's a holiday I hadn't noticed on my calendar before! It only came to my attention because of a Ravelry post mentioning an Open House at a local farm, Heronview Alpacas. At the farm, Lori loaded up a bucket of feed and led us into the pasture where the Alpacas gathered to eat from our hands. The cria (baby Alpacas) were a bit shy, but the adult Alpacas were very friendly. We lucked out with the weather; the sun shone brightly from the moment we arrived at the farm, a nice change from the earlier drizzle. Honey, Alicia, Dew Drop, Dillon, Gidget, Sunny .... we weren't there long enough for me to figure out which was which, but they struck me as variously sweet, funny, playful and curious characters. Well worth a visit!

In other news, my package of knitted goods has made it to the Warm Hands Network in Ottawa in time for the October shipment to Labrador. In fact, they were so kind as to feature photos of a couple of my knitted blankets in their blog. Glad they like'em!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

finished mitts

And that's the second mitt. They're drying now after a rinse in Eucalan. I'm very pleased with how they worked out. The pattern is very clear and well written and the colours are quite nice, I think. A very good use of all those little balls of different colour yarns that were piling up in my stash.

After some consideration, Gavin mentioned that I could make him some fingerless gloves. Surfing the Great Lakes often involves cold, wintery days at the shoreline. Neoprene gloves protect his hands in the icy water, but fingerless gloves would be a good accessory for when he's on the shore taking photos. Searching the Ravelry pattern database turned up Cigar gloves. Like the smoker described in the pattern info, Gavin only needs three fingers of his right hand exposed to operate his camera. What colour? What fibre? Can I buy some fabulous Alpaca and do a stranded colourwork pattern? Nope, he insists. Just plain, sheep's grey wool for him, thanks.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

the first mitten

It was almost midnight when I finished the left mitten. For whatever reason, the colourwork charts, the colour changes and the interesting shaping techniques kept pulling me forward until the mitten was done. I was well into the mitten when I discovered that I was going to be learning a new technique - the afterthought thumb. Waste yarn is used to isolate the thumb stitches within the mitten. After the body of the mitten is finished, the waste yarn is removed and the loose stitches above and below are picked up to knit the thumb. It sounded a bit worrisome, but it's easier than it sounds. The result is a very different mitten than what I've knit before - different thumb, longer cuff and very flat geometric shaping at the top - but well fitting and very comfortable to wear. Can't wait to try cuffs with Latvian braids and fringes. Yeah, there's going to be a lot more mittens on my needles I think!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quo Vadis Mitts

Somehow or another I talked myself into casting on these mitts. I had the best intentions of starting a tree frog, but after downloading the pattern and skimming the 10 pages of instructions I was intimidated. I want a challenge, but 10 pages!

Lately I've been very attracted to stranded colourwork mitten patterns. I've been wandering through the Ravelry pattern database looking at Latvian style mittens for some alpaca that I bought at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair. When I saw this pattern from SpillyJane Knits, I faved it right away. And cast on hours later. It's really easy, and a great way to use up all those odds and ends!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

knitting on

The post has come and gone, but still no hat. Although I live to knit on another day, it has been confirmed that I'm living on borrowed time. Yesterday my assassin posted that my death hat was enroute. Oh dear. On the upside, Canada Post confirms that the hat I knitted has reached PointyKnitja, so I'll exit the battlefield with one point.

Meanwhile I've been working away at my second Mr. Pitt's sock - nearly at the top of the heel now. These really are the most comfortable socks I've ever knit. And the pattern is very simple and effective - the ideal masculine socks, I think. But I'm looking forward to having them off the needles, so that I can start something a bit more challenging - maybe a frog?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hat Wars - the wait continues

Another day, another visit from the Postman, and still nothing .... my Hat Wars competition continues. Yesterday Pointyknitja posted on a Ravelry forum that she had finished and mailed her hat. That's of interest to me, because had she still been working on that hat when my hat arrived in her mailbox, then I would have inherited responsibility for finishing and mailing her hat to her target. She has saved me the trouble.

Of course, Canada Post may have something to say about the whole thing. When I posted the hat they said it would be delivered Tuesday. When I tracked it online on Tuesday, the website said it would be delivered Wednesday (today). And when I tracked it today, the website shows that it supposed to be delivered in Quebec today, but that the package is still in Toronto. Quite possibly the hat is lost in the mail - maybe Pointyknitja will win the whole competition! Maybe the hat intended for me is also lost or delayed in our mail system. Our inept postal system seems to give us Canadians an inadvertent advantage.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hat Wars still

Chapter 3 - Wherein I watch and wait.

I can scarcely believe it myself. The mailman came and went, and no hat. Nothing by regular post, nothing by XpressPost; I'm still in the game. But no telling what tomorrow will bring. My target, Pointyknitja, is still in the game too, but I know she's on borrowed time. Because her hat was sent Xpress Post and should be delivered no later than Wednesday presuming that Canada Post delivers on schedule. Or thereabouts, as you can't depend on Canada Post.

In the meantime I had a chance to finish the first of my truffle brown bamboo socks. Not the best photo - the indoor light and the flash have exaggerated the lighter streaks of colours. The yarn is really much chocolatier than the photo suggests. Gavin was kind enough to model the sock - although maybe I didn't exactly ask so much as put it on his foot as he sat with his laptop in front of the hockey game. His review? It's fine. Nice. Quite comfortable, for a sock. Which is about as effusive as I could hope. Gavin lives in barefeet and flip-flops, year round. Socks really aren't his thing. Nor are sweaters, or mitts or anything hand knitted at all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hat Wars continue

Chapter 2

Wherein I get more practice at ripping back, experience first-hand the difficulty of picking up more than a hundred loose stitches in pattern when working with a very dark yarn, doggedly knit for several hours and retire from the field having finally produced a hat.

When I woke Saturday morning my first thought was that I'd better get myself in gear and get going on this hat. Not that I was fooling myself about the likelihood that I could knit and finish a hat in time to post Saturday. And even if I did, would it go anywhere any sooner than if I mailed it Sunday or Monday? Probably not.

First, establish the pattern. And true to my usual form that took a couple of tries. After working 8 rounds I sat back to examine my knitting. Good grief, I thought, the pattern is completely lost in this dark colourway. Or maybe, upon closer examination, it was because I'd worked the C3Fs incorrectly. The rules are clear - any mistakes in the pattern stitch constitutes not following the pattern and is grounds for disqualification. Start again.

Happily, things went well after that. This second pattern was fiddly, though, especially when worked on dpns. Too much juggling of needles. The hat's ready to mail now. And I've acquitted myself honourably - knit diligently and correctly, to the best of my ability. Now the wait begins - somewhere, someone has knit a hat, aiming to eliminate me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hat Wars begin

Chapter 1

Wherein I stumble out of the gate, willfully disregard my own misgivings, doggedly pursue dead ends and retire from the field having failed to produce a hat at all.

It was with a start that I read on Friday morning on Ravelry about how far other competitors had already knit. And realized I'd mistaken the start time - not midnight Friday night, but 12:01 Friday morning. Before casting on a stitch I was already behind several hours. No sense beating myself up over it; better to focus on the task at hand.

Four patterns were posted to choose from. The first pattern wouldn't suit - the Skull Hat by Gina Doherty involved stranding 2C knitting - that won't work with the yarn I've got. And I ruled out the second pattern, too - the Boy Hat by Elizabeth Heath-Heckman - too simple, too masculine, not at all suitable for this yarn. The third pattern was a maybe - the Transsiberian Hat by Madtown Mama - but the pattern looked a bit fiddly. The fourth pattern looked just right - the Isotope Hat by Tonya Wagner.

By the time I left for work, the pattern was well established. And by early evening, now home from work, I was nearing the decreases. By 9pm, I had to admit that I was going to be short about 10 yards of yarn. I briefly flirted with the idea of modifying the pattern to rip back and shorten the body to save the hat I'd spent all day knitting. Nope. That's a clear violation of the rule that absolutely forbids modification of the pattern. Why did I choose the pattern for the slouchy hat? The one that required the most yarn yardage? Aagh! With a deep breath I slid the stitches off the needles and unravelled the nearly finished hat. And cast on my second choice pattern. Tired and frustrated, I decided to retire after working the brim - best to leave the complicated stitch pattern for fresher eyes tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ready, set ...

Less than 39 hours remain until the Hat Wars pattern is posted online, and counting down. I've tried to rest up so that I'm wide awake and ready to cast on Friday at midnight. And I've checked - there lots of coffee in the house. Everything seems to be ready, now the wait begins ....

Yarn: Wellington Fibres 3 ply
Colourway: Charcoal Arctic Sky
Fibre Content: 50% Mohair and 50% Wool
gauge: 18 stitches per 4 inches on 4.5 mm dpns, verified by swatch

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


When I bought this bamboo yarn I had high hopes of how it would knit up. I hoped it wouldn't be slippery and splitty like the BeSweet Bamboo I used for my Chicabean Scarf. I hoped it wouldn't be scratchy like the Stretch Sock yarn from which I made Fingerless Gloves last year. As well I had my fingers crossed that the colours wouldn't pool like my Regia sock yarn experience earlier this year. But really, after buying six skeins in a fit of enthusiasm at the Knitter's Fair, I just hoped I didn't regret the expense.

Now that I've knit more than 5 inches of the leg of my Mr. Pitt's Sock, regret is the furthest thing from my mind. The colours are great, the yarn is easy to work with, and the knitted fabric is unbelievably soft and comfortable. The only regret I have is that I didn't buy more, but that's easily rectified once I knit through what I have.

More good news - Buffy and Don of Shelridge Farm promptly emailed the missing charts for my Funky Mittens, as well as their effusive apologies. Which is great, but I ran into trouble at the set up rounds for the thumb gusset and have frogged the mitts for now. Maybe after Hat Wars I'll get back to them? Buffy did say I could call and she'd talk me through!

Monday, September 14, 2009

a false start

Shortly after knitting the cuff of my first Funky Mitt, I realized that the chart for the stranded colourwork for the main part of the hand was missing from the pattern I purchased. Maybe I can reverse engineer it from the picture? Nope, the colourwork at the thumb gusset is not clearly shown and the written instructions rely heavily on chart markings. So, yesterday morning instead of knitting, I dug out my receipts to send copies to the designer and distributor with the hope that they'll email me a PDF of the chart. And then I put this project aside.

My inclination was to start another hat for the Burera Hospital in Rwanda, but the necessary needles have mitten stitches on them, and I'm too lazy to string a life line to get them out. Well, after the Knitter's Fair there's no shortage of other projects to start. So this morning I'm casting on a new pair of socks - Mr. Pitt's socks by Kaitlyn Falk Wong. On Saturday I purchased stretch Bamboo sock yarn in truffle brown from Dye-Version ... 93% Bamboo + 7% Lycra for snug fitting socks that stay up! The sample socks looked and felt fantastic - can't wait to try it myself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

K-W Knitters Fair

Yesterday's Kitchener Waterloo Knitters Fair was tremendous. Many thanks to all those who organized and worked the event. There were dozens of booths showing yarn, fiber, patterns, knitting books and DVDs and knitted goods from LYS all over Southern Ontario, as well as booths from local fiber producers, spinners and dyers. And, for an event this size, there was easy access to parking, refreshments, bathrooms and rest seating. A bank machine too, although I'm not sure I'm grateful for that!

Jenny from Passionknit did a very interesting demonstration of Entrelac. Shirley, Christine and I have agreed that we'll have to try this technique - as Jenny did it, it looked like it may be quite easy once you get the hang of it. And it's certainly very effective with the dramatic colour shifts of Noro. "How long would a blanket like that take?" someone asked. "Well," replied Jenny, "I usually knit one ball a day, so about 22 days from start to finish." One ball a day. Can't quite wrap my head around that!

In the week that remains before Hat Wars, I've decided to knit a pair of mittens. Funky Mittens by Anne Williamson in Soft Touch Heather from Shelridge Farms. Pictures of the first mitten in progress tomorrow, I hope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No news ...

... isn't always good news. I have no new pictures to post, and no new anecdotes or observations about knitting to relate. In fact, I haven't knitted a stitch in a couple days. Work is to blame. It's been very, very busy. Going in early, staying late, working through breaks. I shouldn't complain - many would be happy just to have work - but I'm feeling grumpy about it nonetheless. Unfortunately, the knitting outlook for tomorrow also looks bleak. Might have to reward myself on Saturday at the Knitter's Fair!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

a pair of Noro socks

Although they don't match in the sense that the colour bands fall in different spots, they're still clearly a pair. And I'm happier with them than I thought I'd be. But don't get me wrong, this may have been my first and last pair of Noro socks. I still haven't got over how many snarls and how much yarn barf I had to sort out.

The pattern is my final test knit for Tabitha, and a good pattern for Noro. The pattern on the leg forms columns of knit and purl boxes, and I opted for a plain stockinette foot in the interest of comfort. The toe is worked differently than most socks I've done before - but it fits my long toes very nicely. Quite a simple sock, but comfortable. The pattern should be published in the next few days.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

battle preparations

Along with the dossier containing the details of my first target for Hat Wars was a copy of the rules. Rule 9 sets out reasons a knitted hat may be disqualified from competition - a hat knit more than 1 stitch per inch off gauge, dropped stitches and/or a hat which significantly fails to follow the pattern. Hmmm. Better swatch to check gauge. If you'd asked me yesterday whether I knit to average gauge I'd have shaken my head. Looser than average I thought. But after swatching this morning, I was surprised to find the stitch gauge and the row gauge right on. Phew! Next? Knit a small swatch to wash and block ... just to be certain that it doesn't stretch or shrink.

Monday, September 7, 2009

second sock progress

On the four hour drive to Ottawa I completed 2/3rds of the leg of my second sock. On the four hour drive home, I finished the leg, the heel and got started on the gusset decreases. Not much time to knit during our visit though - too busy working with my brother on his endless to-do list. His 90 year old house has beautiful, large sunlit rooms and lots of character, but, good grief, it needs a lot of work! I don't think I'd have the energy to take on a house like that.

Once home I found a dossier for my first target in Hat Wars in my email. Now to decide on some blue worsted weight yarn for the first hat and knit a gauge swatch. The pattern posts September 18 at 12:01 am and I have to be ready. Don't want to be eliminated in the first round!

Friday, September 4, 2009

slip resistant

Puffy Paint. Yup, I did it and it works. Shake it, squeeze it, let it dry and then puff it out with a steaming iron. Granted it's not easy to lay the paint down evenly or neatly - it has a runny texture reminiscent of the royal icing Mom and I used to decorate gingerbread cookies with. And, as you may have surmised from the pictures at left, I wasn't very dexterous with a bag of icing either.

But it's the bottom of the foot, after all. Maybe it'll even out with wear? In fact, I've tried wearing them. Walked all around the laminate floors of the living room and kitchen with them on. It really does work. The paint makes the tread slip resistant, and in my limited trials, it doesn't chip off, crack, or discolour. So far so good. Remind me to check in with my sister-in-law in a few months to see how it fares over the longer term.

As for the Noro socks, the first one is done and the second is off to a good start. But clearly, there will be no matchy-matchiness here. And did you notice? On the first sock the lightest coloration landed right at the heel! Hmmm. Noro.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

a Noro Adventure

The third pattern I'm test knitting is a sock pattern. When I saw it I thought, hmmm, perfect for that skein of Noro in my stash. I bought the Noro thinking how pretty it was; when I got it home, I thought, uh oh, what pattern?

The first sock is almost done and so far I'm underwhelmed by the whole Noro experience. But Gavin keeps carrying on about it, saying things like ... those colours are great.... that's the best yarn you've ever knit ... why don't you buy more of that ... you could make me a sweater out of that yarn. He usually doesn't say much about my knitting, so he must REALLY like it.

But I think Noro conflicts with my OCD. It makes me crazy when I get to sections of the yarn which are thick, unspun roving! You don't even want to know how much yarn barf I've sorted through. And I'm not at all sure I'm going to be okay with the second sock not matching the first.

*sigh * Guess I'll have relinquish control and let the Noro have its way.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Arwen Slipper Socks

The Arwen Slipper Socks pattern that I've also test knit is now available on Etsy or through Ravelry. I've helped Tabitha over the last couple of days with font selection, designs and formatting.

I knit up a pair for my sister-in-law. My brother and his family just moved into a new/old house in Ottawa, and we're headed up there this weekend to help with get them settled in. Took no time at all, and used up a leftover 3/4 skein of Briggs & Little Regal from my stash. This pair is also headed for the non-slip treatment, but I reread the instructions to find that there is a 4 hour wait between application and steam ironing to puff the paint - not feasible for a weeknight. That'll have to wait a few days yet.