Sunday, February 28, 2010

if at first you don't succeed

After knitting the first few inches of a Hedgerow sock I've ripped it all out. The barber poling of the colours is too much for me. The yarn is just too lovely to let this pass. Gavin can't believe it. "It's a sock", he exclaimed with some exasperation. "It's going to be worn under a pant leg; not framed and displayed as art." But if I have my way, these socks will be a work of art. Where's the joy in knitting something that I won't be happy with?

Next? I think I'll try Nutkins with this yarn. Maybe with a slightly larger needle and some traveling stitches the colour variations will sort themselves out in a more satisfactory way. Besides, the pattern looks like way more fun to knit!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

catching up

With my Ravelympics project done, I've been catching up on odds and ends. These Jaywalker socks were cast on before the opening ceremonies. I've worked at them through the Olympics on occasions when I needed some portable knitting on the go. It's a deceptively simple pattern which is really highlighted by variegated yarn. And are they comfortable! If I knit them again, I'd follow the example of other Ravelers to alter the cuff. The inch of K2P2 rib called for in the pattern instructions is clunky - it ends up distorted out of shape by the zig zag pattern below it. Much nicer to minimize the cuff and let it zig zag with the sock below it. Also I'd lengthen the legs - I was forced to abbreviate them because I was short of yardage in the stashed yarn I was using.

My Shur'tugal socks were completed hours before the Olympics started. But while rushing into my Ravelympics project, I never got around to taking a final photo. I've worn them several times in the last couple of weeks - they're quite comfortable - but I'm underwhelmed by them and I blame the yarn. Time to take a break from stashbusting and indulge in some fabulous yarn ... Mountain Color Bearfoot Handpainted sock yarn next, I think.

Friday, February 26, 2010

blue and green

Blue with green should never be seen,
except in the washing machine.

At least that was one person said about my completed Cottage Garden sweater. Hadn't heard that one before! And that bit of advice comes too late for my Jaywalker socks - also blue and green.

Jaywalker is the pattern for my February sock KAL; you may recognize the pattern from a photo on Ravelry's login page. The Ravelery photo shows a closeup of the zigzag pattern worked in a pink, brown, yellow and puce colourway ... it was enough to put me off this pattern for more than a year. Much better in blue and green, I think!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the finish line

Yippee! I'm done! As the third period in the Canada-Russia Hockey quarterfinal game wound down, I wove in the last few ends of my Cottage Garden Sweater. And then raced to the computer to click through the finish line to make it official.

No medals here - I've finished about 530th in a field of 3564 competitors. But the competition spurred me on to work quickly to completion. I need that kind of motivation; typically, I'm much fonder of starting things than finishing them.

We're planning to spend this weekend at Lake Erie with friends, so I can give the sweater to its intended recipient and make sure it fits. And then decide what to knit next.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

out of gas

I'm in the home stretch on my Cottage Garden sweater, but feeling like I've run out of gas. My pace has really slipped in the last few days. With a little more in the tank, I probably could have finished last night ... but sleep won out in my decision making process.

This morning the yoke of the sweater is complete, as well as the short rows to raise the back of the neck. Just the neckband and finishing left. Looks like that'll be my project during the Canada-Russia hockey game tonight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

the fun part

After finally finishing the second sleeve Saturday evening, I couldn't wait to get started on the yoke on Sunday morning. It's fun to see the sweater come together and I've always enjoyed stranded colourwork. Unlike sleeves, a yoke decreases as you go meaning your progress accelerates - much more satisfying.

I'm also quite pleased with the yarn colours; because they are of similar intensity the resulting pattern is muted. Which is exactly what I had in mind. Looking at finished projects from other Ravelers, it seemed to me that in highly contrasting colours the pattern was overwhelmingly and distracted from the sweater as a whole. Now, back to it! The finish line is in sight!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

terrible things about sleeves

Mom used to complain about sleeves. Somehow, after knitting the body of the sweater you should be more than halfway done. But sleeves always take longer than you think they should. They're deceiving, and they increase as you knit upwards.

Worse news, once you've slogged through the first sleeve there's another entire sleeve to go. Never mind second sock syndrome, how about second sleeve syndrome?

Still the first sleeve is done, and the second is more than halfway - the pressure of competition is pushing me forward. Enough of these sleeves already; can't wait to get started on the stranded colourwork of the yoke!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

checking my interval time

With the body of the sweater completed to the underarms, knitting sleeves has become my next priority. With less than a third of the stitches in each round, the sleeves knit up faster and are more portable than the body of the sweater. Meaning? I can knit them at work, which speeds things up considerably. At this pace the sleeves will be done Saturday and the yoke started Sunday ... a full week before the closing ceremonies. No medal hopes here, though - of the 3,331 entrants in the Sweaterboard race, about 100 have already crossed the finish line.

A word about this yarn, Rowan Felted Tweed. On Ravelry the yarn has received mixed reviews, with complaints about itchiness, vegetable matter and breakage. Definitely the yarn is tweedy with small slubs of different colours here and there, but I haven't encountered anything like straw or hay. And certainly some will find it itchy; it's 25% alpaca after all, but I'd readily wear it against my skin. As for breakage, after swatching and reswatching a few times the yarn started to shred, but it's been fine otherwise. I wouldn't like to sew long seams or weave in dozens of ends but happily this sweater has very little finishing, so no problem there. For this sweater, this yarn seems perfect.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

a knitting marathon

Thanks to our Premier yesterday was a provincial holiday - Family Day according to the calendar, Knitting Day for me. We had hoped to see Avatar in theatres, but when we got to our local Cineplex everything we were interested in seeing was sold out. So instead, we rented a bunch of movies and had a movie marathon. Mostly the movies were a bust. Couples Retreat was not funny, not entertaining and not worth watching, although French Polynesia looks gorgeous. The Time Traveller's Wife was so-so; I found the ending terribly sad and depressing. With The Invention of Lying Ricky Gervais failed to deliver the clever entertainment of The Office or Extras ... I found it entirely too sweet and predictable. Public Enemies was the best of what we watched, but it still fell flat - certainly not Johnny Depp at his best. Oh well, at least I got lots of knitting done.

Monday, February 15, 2010

a false start

During the opening ceremonies on Friday night I cast on for my Cottage Garden sweater and knit through the first picot hem. While driving out to visit family an hour away, I knit the second picot hem and got started on the waist of the sweater. But by Saturday night I had to acknowledge that my gauge was off - I ripped it all out and called it a day.

Sunday morning I swatched and reswatched until I was confident that my sizing would be right. This time I worked the swatches in the round on dpns to make the swatches as accurate as possible. It seems to have worked, because after restarting on new needles I've knit back to where I was before and now the sizing looks correct.

By losing two days my chances of finishing this sweater in time to qualify in the Ravelympics are sadly diminished. Still, this is a long distance endurance event, and I'm going to give it my best effort. With almost two weeks of Olympics left, it's theoretically possible that I might finish.

Friday, February 12, 2010

get set ...

Not much left on my second Shu'Tugal sock - a few more repeats of the pattern on the foot and then the toe. Because Vancouver is in the Pacific Time Zone they're three hours behind Toronto, meaning the opening ceremonies for the Olympics don't start until late evening here. This second sock will be finished in plenty of time. As my anticipation of the Ravelympics ramps up I seem to be knitting faster; getting set for my event, the Sweaterboard race, to start.

Next? Gather my materials, print out my pattern and highlight the pertinent instructions. For me, there's a real danger of going wrong while rushing to get the knitting done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

on your mark ....

In my usual last minute style, I decided to sort out my needles and swatch for the Ravelympics ... after all, the opening ceremonies are tomorrow evening and I need to be ready. Two sizes of circular needles are specified, and I have the smaller of them. Good thing I checked; I can pick up the larger size today. This morning I knitted a quick swatch to check gauge on the smaller needles, just to see. A few stitches smaller than the specified gauge, so the larger needle size should be just the ticket.

A whole sweater in just over two weeks? It'll certainly be a challenge! One thing I can tell you - this Rowan Felted Tweed yarn is a dream. It's going to be lovely to work with.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

first Shur'Tugal sock

After grafting the toe and weaving in the ends of my first Shur'Tugal sock I put it on. And was surprised about an hour later to realize that I had never taken it off. It is actually so comfortable that I don't even notice it on my foot. More than I can say for my Kai-Mei socks made of Koigu PPPM - a much posher, premium merino yarn.

As for the Shur'Tugal pattern, I'm enjoying it. There are some interesting details at the heel and at the toe that made the knitting a bit more fun and interesting. At the heel, columns of double slip stitches on the reverse side form bars up the heel flap. The instep pattern ends at diamond points just before the toe decreases. It's those little things that really make the pattern shine. Just three days to finish the second sock before Ravelympics.

Monday, February 8, 2010

brighter skies

The last post was a bit gloomy, huh? Not happy with anything, was I? Well, today finds me happier with my Shur'Tugal sock. With most of the foot complete I was able to try it on - and I like it a lot more than I thought I would. The pattern is holding up nicely, the stretch of the yarn contributes to a perfect fit, and the knitted fabric seems comfortable enough. All of which puts many of my fears to rest. I'm still not sure I'd buy this yarn again, but I'm more confident about carrying on to finish these socks. Add to that Frieda's comment the other day about my Heartland Lace shawl - noting that the cotton content of that yarn may work wonders when I block it - and things are looking brighter and sunnier around here, in a knitting sense anyway.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

slow and steady

Every evening I knit a few more rounds of my Heartland Lace shawl. Slowly, slowly, it's growing to the size I want. Just one and a half more repeats of the Bison Tracks Lace to go before I start the edging. I'm looking forward to seeing it after blocking - I just hope that I'm not disappointed by the yarn. The considerable nylon content in this yarn gives it a shininess that I'm not sure I'm going to like in the finished shawl. And it's hard to say whether it will block out nicely the way natural fiber would.

Every day at work I knit a repeat or two on my Shur'tugal socks. And once again I have doubts about the yarn. I've used this yarn before - Paton's Stretch Sock - for some fingerless mitts with a good result. The yarn's not very soft, a bit scratchy really, but it's stretchy which makes the sock or mitt fit really well. Other Ravelers have commented that it washes and wears well. I'm guessing these will be nice enough as sturdy and practical socks. But I won't be buying either of these yarns again.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a start

On the bus and train yesterday I made a good start on my Shur'tugal sock. The cuff is done and a few pattern repeats of the leg have been worked. Enough to see that the yarn's variegation is obscuring the pattern, but not hopelessly so. And enough to remind me why I like this yarn so much. I can't help myself - it knits up like fudge ripple ice cream. Mmmmm.

As for the pattern, it's quite simple and effective. An 8 stitch pattern worked across 12 rows, with twisted stitches creating the diamond pattern. There are even two plain knit rounds included in those 12 rounds. A quick glance at the chart at the beginning of each round is all that's needed. All of which makes it good pattern for distracted knitting or knitting on the go.

Monday, February 1, 2010

back to the Heartland

After four repeats of the Bison Tracks lace, my Heartland Lace shawl measures about 20" from the top centre to the bottom point - probably somewhat bigger after blocking. What I have in mind is a much larger shawl; a shawl that will cover shoulders, back and hips. I definitely need more repeats of the Bison Tracks Lace before starting the River of Life Edging. With every repeat the rows get longer and longer making it feel like progress is slowing to a standstill. With two weeks before Ravelympics, I've got plenty of time to knit this shawl. I'll take my time and enjoy this beautiful pattern.

For my on the go project I've cast on a pair of Shur'tugal socks with some Patons Stretch Sock yarn from my stash. It's another pattern that's been in my queue for some time and is touted for standing up to variegated yarn coluorways - we'll see by the end of today if this yarn is a suitable choice.