Friday, December 31, 2010

in what's left of 2010

With about 12 hours left in 2010, I'm resolved to complete this second sock before we ring in the New Year. And with the heel turn completed and the gusset decreases underway, it should be do-able. No parties planned for us tonight - we spend New Year's Eve on the sofa watching celebrations around the world on TV. Chances are we'll be asleep well before the clock strikes midnight.

Tomorrow we host our annual New Year's Day open house. In past years I've gone a bit overboard, but this year it'll be more subdued. I'll wash and chop for fruit trays, but the prepared veggie and dip trays at the supermarket looked good to me. I've ordered dozens of samosas; they'll be ready for pick up later this aft. Add chips, cheese and crackers, coldcuts, olives, and bowls of nuts and we're ready for a party. Mmmmm, samosas! I hope there are some leftover for lunches next week!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

happy happy

For my birthday yesterday there were lots of fibre-related presents:

• a pile of sock yarn in stripes, solids and jacquards along with a pattern book full of ideas for same

• a book from Interweave Press with patterns for socks from hand-painted yarns, including a Nancy Bush pattern I'm looking at

• a three year digital subscription to Verena Knitting with a ton of gorgeous sweater patterns I'd like to knit

• a set of very fine bone china coffee mugs to fancy up my caffeine fix while knitting on chilly evenings

• a new iPod nano - it's tiny - with great sound and a nice little screen that's perfect for knitting podcasts as well as all my music and photos.

It's all great stuff; I'm happy to be remembered with so many thoughtful gifts. That's me set for another year of knitting!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

with about 12 hours left ...

... the plan is to wrap the first sock with a note indicating that the second sock should be ready by the end of the week. That should work, shouldn't it?

* sigh*

Monday, December 27, 2010

four day socks

When I started these socks on Christmas Day, I wondered whether it was possible to knit the pair from start to finish in time for a December 29th birthday.

I have my answer.
Possible? Yes.
Likely? No.

Instead, I'm spending the next couple of days at the lake doing a lot of nothing. Unless drinking pomtinis counts as "doing something". One sock will definitely be done in time. The other? Probably not!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

This morning people lined up for door crasher sales at electronics stores starting at 1am. I'd guess the temperature was about -8° with a windchill of about -20°; at least that's what the temperature was at 7 this morning. When the doors opened assembled crowds stampeded. I can't imagine wanting a big TV badly enough to endure that!

My Boxing Day plan involves watching The Tudors season four on DVD and knitting. A little more civilized, don't you think? I've finally finished the second Railwayish sock, leaving me one pair to knit for December 29th. I have my doubts about how possible that is, but I'm giving it a go.

Santa was very good to me - four skeins of yarn under the tree with my name on them! Two different colourways of Schoppel Wolle lace yarn, a skein of Punta Yarn Merisock and a skein of Alpaca Sox. Searching the Ravelry database for patterns for all this yarn is going to be great fun! The forecast for the New Year: lots of knitting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry merry

Hand knit socks are tucked in boxes wrapped with festive paper. Packages decorated with fancy ribbon and yarn ornaments fill baskets topped up with bottles of winter ale and chocolates. Yes, it looks like I'm ready...

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Happy Happy Merry Merry

Thursday, December 23, 2010

wrapping things up

With the heel of the second sock done and the pattern established for the leg the rest of the knitting on these Railwayish socks should be easy enough. I'll finish them tonight or tomorrow. Although this pair will be wrapped up before Christmas there is no possibility to deliver them in time, so they're late.

You know, I had the strongest urge to split an infinitive in that last sentence ... will be technically done ... but then a little voice in my head warned: your brother will read this, your brother will spot it immediately and he will comment on it. Just don't do it!

Ahem, back to knitting. This morning I looked at the calendar, took a deep breath and admitted to myself that, after these socks, no more hand knitted projects will be completed before Christmas. That's it, I'm done. It's kind of relief, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

crunch time

The Christmas lunch at work was Monday. I should know, I organized it. Too bad I was too busy at work to attend. I'm told it was good fun and at least the boss brought me back take-out.

This happens every year at my work. In the days leading up to the holidays our clients jam through a bunch of work for delivery before Christmas and a bunch more for delivery before year end. Somebody once explained that advertising budgets expire December 31st - it's use it or lose it. Not spending it this year can mean that next year's budget is reduced by that same amount.

As a result, I'm not getting very far with the second sock. With a couple days left before Christmas I'm only at the gusset increases. And four pairs of socks are yet to be started. My hope is to finish this pair before Christmas, and one more pair for the 29th of December. The remaining three pairs will just have to wait for next year! Today's goals are to catch up at work, eat three meals and get eight hours of sleep. It'd be nice to make it through this crunch healthy enough to enjoy the holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

sofa: 1, me: 0

Clearly I lost that battle. Running around this morning getting ready for our Christmas lunch with Gavin's kids and grandson, I smashed my foot on the leg of the sofa. The result is predictable I suppose: definitely one toe broken. Maybe this is a sign that I should be taking things a bit easier?

Lunch was great - everyone happy with the food and their gifts. And I had a chance to finish my second blanket block. This time I used the Embossed Diamonds pattern from the HalfKnits site. It's quite a pretty block I think, again with a seed stitch border. Both promised blocks are complete and ready to mail.

Now, back to sock knitting!

Friday, December 17, 2010

a start on blanket squares

The first blanket square is on the needles, after a few false starts. It took me a couple of tries to figure out exactly how many stitches I needed to cast on for a ten inch block. The pattern is a Zig Zag Stitch from HalfKnits and the yarn is Plymouth Galway worsted. I bought this ball a couple of years ago with the intention of using it to border a blanket. And then knit the blanket without a border. It's lovely and soft, and really nice to knit. I've added a three stitch wide border in seed stitch to keep the edges of the block nice and square.

The blanket blocks are for the Warm Hands Network. Suzanne offered to assemble donated squares into blankets provided that the squares are mailed to her in December. I've promised two squares - so I'm working to complete those this week. Maybe in January I'll knit up the rest of my worsted weight wool stash into squares as a stash-busting measure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

in high gear

The first Railwayish sock is finally done and it's actually quite a nice sock. I started this sock way back on November 19th, but it was interrupted for a few other projects and a vacation. Hopefully the second sock won't take more than a couple of days!

Things are really kicking into high gear on the Christmas front. I thought that my Christmas shopping was mostly done, until I found out that some of the presents needed to be exchanged.

The Nascar diecast model was a good idea for my nephew, but I picked the wrong driver. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon - all good. But Danica Patrick - bad. Who knew?

Buying the sequel of a favourite book for my other nephew was also a good idea. Too bad he's already read it. Read the whole series in fact. Hmmm, maybe a gift card instead.

Wish me luck; I'm off to attempt returns and exchanges.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Must Knit Faster

The thumbs should only take a few minutes this evening, which means one more present will be finished up today. Yippee! It's all starting to seem do-able. Maybe I can knit a few afghan squares tonight as well? Must Knit Faster.

Work on the Railwayish socks continues. I'm still a bit behind schedule on those, but it looks like work is starting to slow down, leaving me more time to knit.

This year Christmas falls on Saturday and Boxing Day on Sunday - how great is that!?! We're working a half day Friday and taking Monday and Tuesday off in lieu of the two stat holidays on the weekend.That's four and half days off! Enough time to knit a pair of socks for someone I won't see until the 29th?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We've been under an extreme cold weather alert here in the Toronto area - temperatures in the minus teens, windchills in the minus 20s and 30s. Aside from warming up the car a bit longer, it doesn't impact me much, but, by calling the alert, city officials can implement extra programs to get the homeless into shelters. Brrrr. I can't imagine living on the streets in this kind of weather! Cold enough, just posing my sock in the snow on the porch!

Yesterday I found the time to laboriously tink back the heel of my first Railwayish sock. Turns out I screwed up the short rows - it wasn't dropped stitches at all! That made fixing it a lot easier; I just had to tink back to where I made the error and fix it up. Phew! It's a relief to have it fixed and back on track. Maybe I can finish the first sock today?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas reds

The first red mitt still needs a thumb, but as usual, I'll finish the main part of both mitts before going back to do the thumbs. This pair of mitts is identical to a pair I made last year. Intentionally identical - these are to replace those mitts which were lost by my sister when visiting Ottawa last winter. Cailyn Meyer's pattern, "Cruiser" features a v-shaped cable up the back of the hand - a nice detail on an otherwise simple mitten pattern.

As a bonus, knitting red mittens is doing a good job of putting me in the Christmas spirit. Most of our Christmas shopping is done and wrapped. The tree is up but it's still bare; maybe I'll have a chance to decorate later today. The stockings are hung as well, so I'll have to keep an eye out for likely little items to stuff them with. Stocking stuffers - my favourite part of Christmas!

And in keeping with the Christmas theme - here's a picture of a Pointsettia from my recent trip to Cuba. Hard to believe that they grow to 12ft tall shrubs in tropical climes, when I have such trouble keeping a 4" potted plant alive for two weeks over the holidays!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

settling down

Things are starting to settle down. My workplace moved this week and it was a complete uproar, but by early next week things should be sorted out. At least the hard part of packing things up and moving them is over with. And I've caught up on things on the homefront as well - at least the house is tidy and all the laundry is done.

Gavin and I dashed out for a few hours earlier today to complete most of our Christmas shopping. Presents for kids and the grandson are wrapped with labels and bows in the front hall. Now we just need to pick up a few little things to even things out.

Things are starting to fall into place on the knitting front as well. The overseas socks are wrapped and ready to post. The orange mitts are done, ready to be wrapped. The red mitts have been cast on and should be finished this weekend. The knitted gifts for out-of-towners are almost complete - just the Railwayish socks to sort out. And then, just two pairs to make from start to finish. What's that? One pair a week? This might all work out after all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

sign me up

Yesterday after screwing up the heel of my first Railway-ish sock I was feeling quite discouraged about my Christmas knitting. There are at least four pairs of socks still to be done, some afghan squares I must get done and a handful of other projects I'd like to get done. Hopeless, right?

And so the sock sits on my kitchen counter in a heap, waiting for the right time - with good light and lots of patience - to rip back to restart the heel. Occasionally I walk past and glare at it. There are a couple of other projects I can work on tonight - the orange mitts need thumbs, there's a pair of red mitts to knit and the second shelf liner is about 1/3rd of the way along. Any of those is good for knitting in the evening on the sofa in front of the TV.

Today's Tangled Up in Sticks and Strings blog mentions a Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long. Totally useless? That's something that has a strong appeal for me today! So I've signed up - after all, there's not too much involved, all I needed was a jar. I knew that old flea market canning jar would come in handy some day! And I already have my first two bits of yarn to start things off - a few inches of green trimmed after weaving in the ends on my Julia socks. See, now I feel like I've accomplished something!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

home from Cuba

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba he declared it "the most beautiful country human eyes have ever seen". And I'd have to agree, it's pretty spectacular. A short walk along the shore there was a nice statue of Chris overlooking a small secluded beach.

The resort, Brisas Guardalavaca, is lovely. No wonder so many of the guests were returning for a second, third, or in some cases eighth, visit! Our room was oceanview on the second floor; nice, we could just walk up and down without bothering about elevators. Have a look; is that not the largest bed you've ever seen? The air conditioning worked, there was plenty of hot water for showering and fresh towels daily. Throughout the resort, lots of wide open vistas, wooden walkways and screens, and patterned tiles thanks to the Spanish influences on the architectural styles preferred in Cuba. Outside, magnificently gardened grounds showcasing every variety of palm and tropical flower imaginable. Watch for flower pictures over the next few days!

The food was very good for a Cuban resort - no complaints there. We swam, we snorkeled, we went on a Hobie Cat ride, we toured around, we read, we ate and we slept. And the beer was cold and running freely. It was a great vacation, but it's always nice to be home!

Monday, November 29, 2010

a quick Christmas project

Sunday morning, Nancy and I decided to spend our time sitting around in PJs on the couch. I'm overtired from the last week - too much work, too much stress and way too little sleep. And Nancy doesn't need a reason; hanging out in PJs is one of her favourite ways to spend a Sunday morning.

While drinking coffee and catching up, we decided to pick up the crochet hooks and some scrap yarn to try out this pattern for a Snowflake potholder. Ever since I saw this pattern crocheted by Allison on her Dominant Hands blog, I'd been itching to give it a go. It's meant to be a pot holder with two squares crocheted back to back, but Nancy and I decided to work our squares in Handicrafter cotton and call them dishcloths.

Both our squares were done in no time, so I suggested that Nancy give them as a hostess gift at her first Christmas party later that afternoon. Yes, you read that right; Christmas parties are starting already! Seems much to early for me!

This time tomorrow we'll be halfway to Cuba. I doubt we'll have internet access, so I'll likely be offline for a week or so. But there's bound to be lots of pictures to share when I get back!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

check out the first shelf liner

Some time ago I knit a shelf liner for my friend's kitchen. You may recall she was using folded tea towels to line her bare wood shelves, when I thought - hey, what about knitting her some shelf liners? I toyed with the idea of surprising her with all three finished shelf liners, but then I had another thought. What if the fit of the first one was off? I'd hate to go ahead and knit all three only to find that none of them fit!

So this weekend, after the surfing competition at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie, we bunked down at her place and I took the opportunity to check the first shelf liner. Turns out, it's perfect! So full speed ahead with numbers two and three.

And, if you're wondering about the surf competition, Gavin placed first in his category - "legends" (for surfers over 55 years of age). Mind you, as the only guy his age crazy enough to brave the icy temperatures and bone chilling winds to surf there really wasn't any competition for him at all. But we're celebrating nonetheless!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

the smell of damp wool mitts drying on radiators

When I was a kid, Mom was constantly knitting mittens from an old Patons booklet - Paton's Gifts and Accessories. At the old house on Paisley Avenue, a large assortment of hats and mittens were jammed between the balusters of the stairs in the front hallway from November to April. On winter days my sister, my three brothers and I would our select mitts and hats from between the stair railings. Or reclaim warm ones from where they were drying out on radiators.

When I started knitting for the Warm Hands Network, Mom offered to lend me her mitten pattern. I assumed that the pattern for Mitts knitted on 4 needles were the mittens, but she laughed. “Oh no, I knit them on two needles! Always have.” And then she ripped the page with the mittens knit in the round from the book for me. So now this is my pattern for knitted mittens - these for my nephew with Cascade 220 wool in his favourite colour, orange. Although for my next pair, I'm changing the top shaping to keep the decreases at the mitten sides and grafting at 12 sts remaining for a blunt top.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

a riddle

Riddle me this:

How is it that when you book a week's vacation, you end up trying to jam three weeks of work in the few days leading up to that vacation?

And, you end up three weeks behind when you get back?

How is that possible?

Monday, November 22, 2010

working on the railroad

It's a very simple stitch pattern - Railway Stitch - just a combination of knit and purl stitches across 5 stitches and 6 rows, but it makes a very nice textured fabric. It certainly didn't look like much in the little chart I made myself before casting on. To tell you the truth, I even considered changing the pattern to something with a bit more going on. But now, halfway up the instep, I'm glad I stayed with it.

And yes, the yarn is pooling. It's quite a dark and subtle colourway so the pooling is not very obvious or distracting. I had to hold my foot just so to catch the silvery stripe across the instep in the light. Interesting, huh?

One more thing - I'm glad I ripped out and restarted for 60 stitches. There's not a lot of stretch to this sock, so I definitely want some negative ease. Reworking for a good fit appealed to me more than taking Gavin's not so helpful suggestion: keep going and find someone with really big feet to give them to.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

the nicest socks

Constructed of mostly K1tbl P1 ribbing, these Julia socks fit perfectly. I can imagine that these'll be the first pair pulled out of the sock drawer after laundry day. They're very wearable - snug around the ankle, snug at the heel and the arch - but never too tight. The pattern is interesting without being lacy, so these socks are also very warm. Aesthetically, I think these are some of the nicest socks I've ever made. Gavin agrees. In fact, when I finished them and put them on my feet he said exactly that: "Those are the nicest socks you've ever made."

That won't be the last pair of Julia socks I make, but with that pair off the needles, it's time to get started with the next pair on my Christmas knitting list - Gentlemen's Socks in Railway Stitch. In fairness, I'm not really following the pattern, but instead, I'm using the Railway stitch pattern in my usual toe up, heel flap and gusset sock. The pattern called for 80 sts - eighty! that's crazy! - but instead I cast on and increased to 70 sts. Still too big! I've ripped that out to retry it with 60 sts. With all these alterations to the pattern I'm calling them "Railway-ish Socks".

You might recognize the yarn colourway - it's Misty Highlands from Wandering Cat Yarns. These Railway-ish Socks will match up with the Leyburn socks I made in August. Now, can I get these done before I leave for Cuba in ten days?

Friday, November 19, 2010

stealth knitting

Working the "pull stitches" in the Julia sock pattern involves "slipping" the third stitch on the left needle over the adjacent two stitches - no easy feat on 2mm needles. And sadly, the Lantern Moon needles just weren't up to the task. I broke three. Gavin repaired one but warned that it wouldn't be strong enough. He was right. Not only did the stitches not slide smoothly over the glued join, but I rebroke that needle at the original break twice.

When I met the Yarn Harlot in the summer she was knitting socks on Blackthorn needles. I hadn't heard of them but a few weeks ago an ad for them on Ravelry caught my eye. Blackthorn needles look and feel like wood, but they're made of carbon fiber composite. Gavin's windsurfing masts, booms and some parts of the windsurfer itself are made of carbon fiber - strong and lightweight. Sounds perfect for knitting needles, doesn't it? And virtually unbreakable!

For a few days I considered putting them on my Christmas list. Trying to explain sizes, needle lengths and the advantages of five needles over four in a set to a non-knitter proved too daunting. Never mind; I'll just treat myself. Got them yesterday, and so far, I love them. Did I mention that carbon fiber is also used to make Blackbird stealth jets for the American military?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the blustery day

That's today: the blustery day. Gusts topped 70 kmh and pretty much every leaf from every neighbourhood tree fell in our backyard, necessitating an emergency outing for more yard waste bags. Ugh, fall.

Last night I turned the heel. On the train ride home I completed the gusset decreases. In the next day or two the second Julia sock should be finished. Is anyone else starting to feel the pressure?

This morning I sat down with the calendar to see if we could fit in a weekend visit to family out of town. As it turns out, we have plans every weekend until Christmas. Yikes! I'm running out of time!

Monday, November 15, 2010

oddments and other things

With the second Julia sock tucked away for knitting on train trips back and forth to work, I wanted another project to play with on the weekend. Something different. Something fun. Something quick. So I made a start on the quilted centrepiece pattern I purchased at the Creativ Festival last month. Turns out I didn't have a 20x20" square of muslin in my stash, so I got off to a slow start piecing that together. Then, I sorted through my batik fabric scraps and cut the necessary 3x2" rectangles. Next I need to iron two folds into each rectangle before I can get going with the piecing. Different? Yes. Fun? Yes. Quick? Not so much.

But there's some news on the yarn destash front. My cousin, Joanne dropped by for coffee on Saturday morning and mentioned that her son's class was going to be doing some spool knitting. Did I have any leftover yarn that might be suitable?

Did I? Of course. How much did she need or want? Turns out, they'd be happy with whatever I could spare. And I could spare pretty much all the mismatched oddments of worsted weight in my stash. Win/Win! Just when I thought it couldn't work out any better, Joanne asked if I'd be willing to part with my small supply of fun fur and novelty yarn. The kids use that stuff in all kinds of craft projects, she explained, and it's hard to find in stores these days. She didn't need to ask me twice; in the bag it went. One small bag for the grade threes = one giant leap for my destash efforts!

Friday, November 12, 2010

on some things we agree

Between Scarborough and Danforth stations on my GO Train trip into work this morning, I grafted the toe to complete the first of my Julia socks. Good timing, because Andrea works Fridays and she has exactly the same size foot (tiny and narrow) as the friend for whom these socks are intended.

Andrea and I are in complete agreement about this - we LOVE this sock. It fits great and the pattern is fantastic. The twisted ribbing pattern of the cuff continues seamlessly all the way down the leg, the heel flap and across the instep. Also, there's a diamond pattern repeat centred on the heel flap - a very nice little detail, that. And what to say about the incredible greens of this Lochness colourway from Fiber Optic Yarns and Fibers? I just couldn't be happier with this sock!

All good, right? Well, yes, but now that Andrea's had the first sock on her foot she feels strongly that this pair was meant for her. And, no matter how perfect they would be for her, I'm afraid I can't agree to that. My strategic path for completing my Christmas knitting is already on the crazy side; no room to add one more pair, even if her feet are tiny and narrow. But, come the New Year, my schedule looks wide open ... maybe we can figure out something for her then?

Now, I think I'd better get moving with sock number 2!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

making a start with Julia

This is a very different sock than I've ever knit, this Julia sock. It's almost entirely ribbing. Maybe it's a bit hard to see the pattern in this darkly coloured yarn? It's a much simpler pattern than I expected and it knits up quite quickly. Less than a half dozen rows to go before I start the heel flap.

After reading all the negativity about the pattern in other Raveler's notes I hesitated. But I liked the design, so I decided to give it a go. The most common complaint is that the pattern is not charted. I have mixed feelings about that. The pattern shifts back and forth - I do find that clearer when written out. Patterns can be easier to visualize when charted, so it might have been nice to have both in the pattern download, but really, it's easy enough to sort out. There's also lots of instruction about shifting stitches back and forth between needles - many Ravelers complain about the verbosity of the pattern. No problem; I sectioned off the repeats with stitch markers and am ignoring all the stuff about moving this stitch to that needle. My conclusions? It's a lovely sock. It's a lovely pattern. The instructions are correct and complete. Enough with all the whining! So far I'm glad I ignored all the comments and went ahead with the pattern.

Can't wait to see how they fit!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Gavin!

Sorry it's taken a few days to post this picture of the finished SKYP socks. I did take the photo during the Leafs game on Saturday but hadn't found time to blog. Check out the time of this post; I'm up early this morning for a special reason. I'm determined to catch up on all my work so that I can skip out early today. I'm planning to be home before 5pm to take Gavin out for dinner. We've got his sixtieth birthday to celebrate!

Wow, sixty. You'd never guess it; especially not with all the surfing and windsurfing he does. Lots of reasons to celebrate. And don't forget his birthday present - we depart for a vacation in sunny Cuba in just three weeks! Mmmm, I feel warmer already.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

yarn ornaments

The other day I came across a forum post on Ravelry that talked about making yarn ornaments, which got me to thinking .... wouldn't it be cute to make little ornaments to decorate the packages containing handmade socks? Crazy, but cute!

Mom and I used to get ourselves into all sorts of crazy projects - my fault mostly - so this idea made me all sentimental and nostalgic. This morning I decided to give it a go, and you know, it's not so crazy after all. In fact, it's pretty easy! The tiny one is made with leftovers of Wandering Cat Alley Cat sock yarn in a Raspberry Beret colourway. And the one behind it? Alley Cat sock yarn in a Tea Time colourway.

• dollar store ornaments - small 1.5" diameter or tiny 1" diameter
• leftover sock yarn - 6gr for small or 3gr for tiny ornaments
• tacky white glue that dries clear
• seed beads in a wood-like colour
• round toothpicks

I poured out some glue and then rolled the ornament to coat it. The first few minutes of wrapping the ornament with yarn were a sticky mess, but as soon as 30-40% was covered it became easier. When the ornament was entirely covered I cut the yarn, dragged the last couple inches of yarn through glue and then stuck it down to the wrapped ornament. For the knitting needles, I dipped the head of a toothpick into glue, pushed a bead onto it as far is it would go, then trimmed the tip of the toothpick level with the top of the bead. Insert two needles through the yarn wrapped ornament and voilà!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

finishing Simple SKYPs

Busy, busy, busy ... that's my work life. Yesterday, when I was starting to catch up, I thought I'd duck out for a bite of lunch. "About time" said Andrea, "it's after 3pm." Ouch! The work days fly by.

As a result I haven't had much of a chance to knit. But with the Leafs playing Buffalo tonight on Hockey Night in Canada, I'll have a chance to finish off the second Simple Skyp sock. These two teams are terrible; the knitting may be more compelling than the game.

For the second sock I'm going to try a sewn bind off. If that's an improvement over JSSBO, I'll redo the bind off on the first sock the same way. Once these socks are finished, that's the knitting for one entire family on my Christmas list done. Finally, I'm getting some where with my list!

Friday, November 5, 2010

blanket raptures

So now that it's dry I just want to walk it around and pose it in different ways. Typically I keep photos in my posts really small but today I made the picture MUCH larger. Click to enlarge if you want to see more detail. But be warned, you'll want to knit this pattern, too!

I can't say enough good things about the patterns that I used. Stephanie Vander Linden has designed many, many beautiful socks, but this one - Grün ist die Hoffnung - is just too gorgeous to hide in shoes. The motif suits me better in a starring role, repeated sixteen times to make up the centre of the blanket. And the border of Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket is simple, elegant and quite sumptuous. I'm definitely going knit the Tweed Baby blanket in its entirety in the new year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

shhhhhhhh ...

...... it's blocking.

For the last few weeks this blanket has put up a struggle: first when I had to source a complementary colour yarn for the border and then when I ran short of yarn before the border was completed. But the knitting's done, the ends woven in and the blanket's washed and blocking on pins. Phew.

And I'm really, really happy with it. Every tinked stitch was worth it! I'll try to take some better pictures in the next couple of days!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

yarn for Julia

As far as my blanket goes, I've ripped out the iCord edge and have made some progress in ripping back one round of lace. Hopefully I'll get the iCord edge restarted tonight. My second Simple Skyp sock is progressing when I get a few minutes at work and in transit. Maybe there'll be something to show in the next few days?

But look what came in the mail yesterday! It's Fiber Optic Footnotes sock yarn in the Batik colourway "Loch Ness". Now that's green! These skeins are intended for two pairs of socks as part of my Christmas knitting. The pattern for the first pair has been in my queue for ages - Julia by Emily Johnson. It's just one of several stunning patterns from her Family Trunk collection. I better get a move on with the above mentioned projects on needles, because I can't wait to cast on these socks!

Monday, November 1, 2010

blanket news

First, the good news:

The border colour is okay. Once I block it - and block it severely as instructed by Jared Flood - the border will look fine. Not as nice as it would have in the original wool, but fine. I spent weeks looking at all manner of yarn, and I don't think I can do much better.

I love the i-Cord edge. It's easy and makes a nice, thick finished edge. Love it. Now I'm looking at all my other projects deciding where else I can add an iCord edge. Maybe not socks, though.

Now for the bad news:

I ran out of yarn with about 30 sts left to bind off. Well and truly ran out. Not a scrap anywhere that I could salvage. So now I'm undoing the iCord edge and then I'll be ripping out the last row of lace to start the border again.

White stuff fell from the sky yesterday. Not a lot, and it didn't stay, but nonetheless, I typed the s-word yesterday and look what happened. My fault, sorry.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

BO strike one

After completing JSSBO on my first sock, I examined the ribbing with dismay. That's not exactly what I had in mind. Although the ribbing flows continuously from the pattern on the leg, the top of the sock looks ... well ... frilly. That's just not going to fly. Time to rethink the cuff! Maybe use the stretchy bind off every other stitch?

As I write this the sun's just coming up. With sunrise today at 7:52am and sunset expected at 6:10pm, we'll have only 10 hrs 17 mins of daylight - 2 mins 40 secs less than yesterday. I'll have to wait for better light before picking out the bound off edge. I don't like these short days of November and December; days when it's dark when I get up and dark when I finish work. What's next? Snow?

Friday, October 29, 2010

a recipe for toe-ups

A few days ago I found myself in a muddle about these socks. To make most efficient use of the yarn I decided to alter the pattern to knit them toe up. Easy enough with a simple pattern like this. As well, I decided on the larger size with 72 stitches, albeit on a smaller needle size since so many Ravelers reported that their socks came out too large.

But since I've never knit a toe up sock on 72 stitches I don't have a formula for the heel. Never mind, I thought, when it comes to it I'll figure something out. When I completed my gusset increases I started looking around for help with the heel and came across this Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up socks recipe. It's not the heel I had in mind - I was planning a short-row heel turn instead of a heel extension - but it works fine and isn't it great to have a formula to make any sock pattern toe up?!

Now that the heel's done, this first sock should be done in the next day or two. I am planning to switch to one size larger needles to give the leg above the ankle a bit more ease. And I'm debating about the cuff. Do I really need to switch K2P2 rib? If I knit it as K6P2 rib it'll continue the flow of the pattern, but will that be stretchy enough to keep the sock up?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Save Tigers Now

My 10 year old nephew called me the other day to discuss the situation with the Tigers. He carefully explained the facts and how they are critically endangered, and then begged me to help. "Please Aunt Lynn, you have to do something!"

How can I help? As a Christmas present for each niece and nephew I'm donating to Save Tigers Now through the World Wildlife Fund. I'll divide up the free gift - - and combine them with books about Tigers and plush toys. As well as donating much needed funds, I'm helping by educating them and spreading the word. So if you're stuck for gift ideas this Christmas, it's something to consider. And if I can manage it, I might also knit them each a Tiger Stamped Hat. Or do you think the hat is too juvenile for the 8-10 year olds?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

working the border

For the next couple days this blanket'll be impossible to pose for a nice picture. The centre of the blanket is bunched up with the edge stitches on circs. You'll just have to take my word for it - this border is gorgeous. This pattern, Tweed Baby Blanket, is beautifully written and charted. I've already had a look; I've got enough suitable worsted weight yarn on hand to knit the entire blanket, and not just the border.

The jury's still out about my border yarn choice. The colour is right but it's lacking the intensity of the main colourway. It looks a bit dull in contrast, but maybe that's okay for a border? I just can't decide, so I'm taking Suse-the-slow-knitta's advice to keep calm and carry on. Once it's done, I can lay it out flat and have a good critical look.

Reading ahead, the border is finished with an iCord edge. That'll be a new technique for me. I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


By picking up one stitch for each stitch on the cast off edges of the centre blocks, I came up with 132 stitches on each of the 4 blanket sides. Referring to the lace chart for the border of Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket I increased another 14 stitches on each side to end up with 8 repeats of the chart plus a stitch on each end of each side. So I'm away to the races. Er, at least, I was.

This morning I took a fresh look at the lace chart. Oh, I see; it's purl rows that create the ridges that characterize this border, and I've just skipped right past the first purl row. Drat! What this means is that the hours before work are allocated to tinking out the almost six hundred stitches of the last round. My mantra for today? If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!

Monday, October 25, 2010

success, sort of

Our trip to the Creativ Festival was very successful.

i) I did get some yarn for the border of my blanket. I couldn't find exactly the right shade in worsted weight so I'm holding this fingering weight yarn double for the border. The colourway is called "Green Apple" from Indigo Moon, and it's spot on to some of the lighter shades in the variegated yarn making up the centre area of the blanket. Perfect - I've already cast on the border.

ii) I did not find any green sock yarn. Well, there was actually lots of green sock yarn but none that screamed "Buy me". Not to worry, I've been planning to order this yarn, but thought I should look at the Creativ Festival first in case I could save myself the shipping costs. Plan B it is; the Loopy Ewe order has been placed.

iii) There were two more purchases that fall into the category of "unbelievable" and "too good to be true". First, some handmade wood buttons for my Tea Leaves cardigan. These buttons actually did scream "Buy Me" so what choice did I have? And secondly a pattern from DJ Richards Design for a quilted centrepiece. Debbie was demonstrating how easy and how forgiving her design was - we were hooked, Shirley and me both. I've made several quilts and have lots of scraps in my stash, but another full size quilt is a larger project than I've wanted to take on. This little centrepiece looks like just the ticket for sewing up those scraps. So, in a way, buying this pattern was an act of stash busting, right?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a bad idea, maybe

Tomorrow Shirley and I are going to the Creativ Festival. I know what you're thinking: isn't that a bad idea for someone supposedly on a yarn diet? We'll see. If I overspend or come home with bags of impulsive purchases, then yes, a bad idea.

But I have a plan. There are only three things I'll consider buying:

i) Worsted weight yarn in colours that compliment the Aegean colourway of these blanket squares so that I can knit a border.

ii) Vibrant green sock yarn to suit two names on my Christmas knitting list.

iii) any unbelievable deal that is just too good to be true.

Item number three certainly leaves me some leeway, doesn't it? I just have to be strong and determined to stick to my plan. I think I can, I think I can...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

back to sock knitting

Hurray! Back to socks!

This morning I cast on for some Simple Skyp socks which I'm adapting to knit toe-up. Just a few days ago I finished Embossed Leaves socks in this same Tea Time colourway of Alley Cat sock yarn for my sister-in-law. Now I'm knitting socks for my brother from the same colourway. Adorable, huh? Matching socks for the happy couple!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been admiring this pattern as knit up by Dee and by Frieda. So much so, that I wanted to make a pair myself. It helps that the pattern is suitably masculine for one of the guys on my Christmas list. And easy enough to adapt for knitting toe up; because I'd like the leg as long as possible without running short of yarn.

I'm loving it so far. In fact, there may be a few more guys on my list who get socks from this pattern. Now, back to it!

the second cap

I finished the second cap this morning, stuck it on Gavin's head and snapped a photo before he rushed off to help a friend paint. The truth is that the ends are still to be sewn in, so that's what I'll be doing after publishing this post.

The smaller cap is a better size, I think. If I do it the cap again in sport weight yarn- and I think I might - then I'll go with this smaller size. I like this pattern for it's simplicity; it strikes me as the sort of thing a guy might actually wear, although more likely when knitted in grey, brown, black or navy. The decreases are cleverly designed to maintain the integrity of the 1x1 rib - the crown looks quite neat and tidy when completed.

Now, I'm off to get the ends woven in so that both caps can be posted this morning. Bethany's tentative deadline for her "Stitches for the Cure" project is November 1st ... there's no time to waste. And, with caps in the mail, I can start something new. Like another pair of socks for Christmas list!