Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Montague Shelf Liners

As I've mentioned before, this is the year in which I'm determined to knit through the yarn in my stash. All the DK yarn is knit - the last scraps were knit up into little hats for a fundraising drive in Ireland. All the full skeins of sock yarn are matched up to patterns for Christmas knitting. I've got a few ideas for the worsted yarn - sweaters, mittens and blankets. But two boxes of natural colour dishcloth cotton had me stumped. That'd be a lot of dishcloths!

A few weeks ago at a friend's cottage I noticed that she had almost a dozen tea towels folded to line her open shelves in the kitchen. And it dawned on me - dishcloth cotton might be a good choice for knit shelf liners! With its seed stitch borders and lace pattern inset, Montague looked like the perfect pattern choice. I ordered the pattern, waited a week or two for the pattern book to arrive by post, and then cast on. The first bit of good news is that I've been able to achieve exactly the size needed. The second bit of good news is that after a couple of days of knitting I'm about a quarter of the way through the first shelf-liner. Considering there are three shelves to line, I'm very relieved that it's knitting up quickly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

working and reworking

A particularly difficult week at work wound up with an absolutely brutal Friday. Faced with projects that overwhelmed them, sales and production alternately dragged their feet and waffled until the 11th hour when they dumped the whole mess in my lap and ran. So Friday turned into a marathon workday of questioning and sorting, prepping and fixing until late into the evening.

On the train ride home, I reflected about the whole mess. I can't help but feel that I owe our clients my best efforts to make their work come right, BUT ... my coworkers won't learn anything from this except that when time runs short I'll do their jobs for them. Aargh. My conclusion? I need to rebalance the situation.

So this weekend, Gavin and I spent our time quietly at home. I finished my library book, Her Fearful Symmetry. It was readable and I enjoyed it at times, but I'm never entirely satisfied with novels when I dislike most of the characters or when the ending is lame. I spent a couple of hours in the garden, mostly tidying my daylilies to remove spent flower stalks and browned leaves. I removed an Artemesia Silver Mound which was in the way of a Bird's Nest Spruce. We went to the movies to see The Expendables. The movie won't win any awards, but it was surprisingly funny and entertaining despite all the comic book gore. And I've reworked my second Soft Serve sock up to the heel. All in all, a satisfying weekend. Now let's see what this week brings.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a third try

The earliest citation found for the expression "third time's a charm" comes from the US in The Weekly Sentinel, June 1912:

That Mrs. Martha Carliss evidently believes in peace and happiness in wedlock and that she probably thinks third time's a charm is shown by the fact that she was granted a license today to marry Andrew W. Mowery.

Presumably the third try is more likely to succeed than the previous two tries. Apparently, two tries is not enough - there's some sort of virtue in not giving up and quitting after trying twice. Four tries? Too much - like beating your head against a brick wall.

I'm going to find out today whether the third time's a charm for this second Soft Serve Sock. I ripped out the first try after a couple of inches of the instep after noticing an error that created a jog in the pattern. And yesterday I ripped out my second try, an almost entirely completed sock. A couple of stitches had dropped from the back end of the needle and laddered down several rows. Tiny needles + dark splitty yarn + traveling stitches = a disaster I couldn't fix. But I'm determined; I'll give it one more try before I put this project in a Time Out and knit a dishcloth instead.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My second Soft Serve sock is turning out to be a fraternal twin of the first sock. No surprise there. But as I prepared the photo for this blog post I noticed a jog in the pattern across the instep of the second sock. That's odd, I thought. Then I looked more carefully at the sock. Surprise! I did mess up and I'm going to have to rip back an inch or so to fix it. Grrrrr.

There's another surprise I've been working on over the last few weeks - a surprise Caribbean trip for Gavin's birthday in November. I just about pulled it off too. The resort package was selected, the flights and hotel were booked and I'd arranged for time off. Everything was going according to plan. Until I came out of the shower to find Gavin on the phone with the travel agency insisting we hadn't booked any trip. I took the phone, confirmed our advance seat selections and 'fessed up to Gavin, ruining the surprise. Drat.

It feels a bit like bad luck, but it's hard to take it all very seriously. After all, it's not so bad to notice a mistake a few rows back - it'd be much worse if the sock was nearly done. And it's not so bad that Gavin knows about the trip - I was busting to tell him anyway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

a stay at home weekend

This weekend was our quiet, stay at home weekend. A weekend to do chores like grocery shopping and laundry. A weekend to tidy and fix things around the house. A weekend to poke through cupboards and cook up stuff that's been cluttering shelves for months. And the perfect weekend to replace the track lighting in the kitchen with a ceiling fan and overhead light.

Getting through our to do list was not an unqualified success. We did have tacos for supper last night to use up the taco shells hiding at the back of the cupboard, but the shells were very stale so we composted the bulk of the package and ate taco fillings on toast. I did bake apple pie on Sunday morning so that lone can of pie filling is used up after sitting on the shelf for over a year. Gavin did install the ceiling fan in the kitchen only to discover that the remote control turned on the bedroom fan as well, necessitating an uninstall of the bedroom fan, a change of code and then reinstall. At least the laundry got done without a hitch.

And so did the first Soft Serve Sock ... get done without a hitch, that is. The pattern is really easy and creates quite a dramatic effect. We'll just have to see what the second sock looks like. Based on what the second half of the Zauerball looks like, it's not going to look much like the first.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

crazy socks

When I was in Creative Yarns a few weeks ago, Nina suggested that I try Crazy Zauerball sock yarn from Schoppel-Wolle. "It's lots of fun" she insisted, pressing a ball into my hands.

It's very interesting, this yarn. The two strands of the main ply are dyed individually and then twisted together. The result? The colours seem to melt into each other. But I've been warned, it's unpredictable; the likelihood that the second sock will match the first is almost nonexistent.

With so much going on with the yarn, I chose a very simple pattern - Soft Serve by Mindy Vasil. As I knit the first part of this sock, I debated this choice. The yarn feels quite warm and woolly; maybe the pattern is too lacy? Maybe the pattern is too simple? Maybe the pattern isn't stretchy enough for a good fit? Turns out, as soon as I put the sock on my foot my doubts vanished. These crazy socks are going to be great!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Leyburn Socks

The bright morning sun really shows off the criss-cross pattern on these Leyburn socks. They're narrower through the foot than most of the patterns that I've knit up until now - but I think that's a good thing. I like my socks to fit snugly! I'm really happy with the way these turned out. Now I'm thinking of adapting the pattern to make child size socks from all the Kroy self-striping sock yarn I've got on hand.

This Misty Highland colourway is the darkest yarn I've ever attempted socks with. It's fine for a simple pattern like this, but I wouldn't want to try any of the more complicated Cookie A patterns with a yarn this dark. It really is much harder to read your knitting! And the dark rosewood needles I've used are almost the same colour as the yarn, making things a bit tougher still.

For last night's supper I made a baked vegetable pie with a rice crust filled with thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, onions and kalamata olives, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. It is delicious, and thank goodness for that. To use up all the garden fresh zucchini and yellow squash, I had to make two pies. Looks like it's leftovers for lunch today and dinner tonight!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today I'm going to catch up on all the jobs piling up on my desk at work and maybe my boss will notice and appreciate my hard work.

Today I'm going to make dinner from scratch with fresh garden grown vegetables given to us by friends and it's going to be delicious.

Today I'm going to finish my second Leyburn sock and then sit back and admire the finished pair before casting on something new.

Today is full of possibilities! How's your day shaping up?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a sunny Tuesday

It's another beautiful summer day - sunny, warm, with a light breeze. Seems like this summer has been one sunny day after another; certainly it's been the nicest summer I can remember. Almost a shame to have to go to work on a day like this!

Progress on the second sock is steady. Of course, with such an easy pattern I don't spend much time referring to charts. And I don't know about you, but I can't bring myself to put the sock down after rounds where the floats are started. I finish the pattern repeat so that it looks nicer.

Our cat is spending part of her morning nestled in Gavin's flip flops. Not sure whether she's infatuated with the smell, or whether she thinks that by lying on his shoes she is preventing him from leaving the house. She does love his feet, though!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

weekend update

The first Leyburn sock is done. It's a beautiful sock pattern; I'm already thinking about knitting more pairs. And the yarn is just perfect. For this sock, I tried out Jeny Staiman's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. Aptly named, I'd say, because it really is surprisingly stretchy. Perfect for the top cuff of a sock!

And despite the technicolour look, my ankle is getting better. There's still a bit of swelling right on the ankle and across the top of my foot, but at least now I can fit my foot comfortably into a shoe. Every day it's a little better.

We spent this weekend at a friend's cottage on Lake Erie, and since the Leyburn socks are intended for this friend, I had to put them aside and knit something else. No problem, it was just the push I needed to get started on my second Caspian Seas sock.

Friday, August 13, 2010

coming along nicely

With the sprain preventing me from bending my foot comfortably at the ankle and applying pressure on my left foot, driving to work remains impossible - our car is standard transmission! On the upside, the train rides to and from work give me lots of time to knit.

My first Leyburn sock is coming along nicely. In fact, it's knitting up so quickly that I wouldn't be surprised if the first sock is finished tonight. The pattern is almost entirely knit stitches with the lattice created from long floats in front of slipped stitches. It's simple, but very effective; another pattern that works really well with variegated yarns. Looks like it's going to be socks for everyone this Christmas!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the stars align

For the last few days I haven't had much luck. Not knitting-wise, and not otherwise. Things took a definite turn when I slipped on the stairs at the train station and sprained my ankle on my way to work Monday morning. Ouch!

But it's Wednesday now and the news is all good. The X-Rays show no fractures. With a couple of days of rest, elevation and icing, the swelling has gone done considerably so that I can now walk slowly - although stairs are still a tedious and painful ordeal. And within a few days my left foot should be one big purple and brown bruise.

Speaking of purple and brown, I've moved onto this Misty Highlands colourway of Wandering Cat Alley Cat sock yarn. The pattern is Leyburn Socks and I don't think I could be any happier with how this is knitting up. See, the stars have realigned and my luck is back - knitting-wise and otherwise.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ripping out again

Each one of the mods that I undertook did exactly what I wanted. The cuff is more substantial and warmer, the wrist area fits well and the gusset is more generous and symmetrical. But somehow the glove is still leaving me uninspired. So I'm ripping it all out once more and putting the yarn back in the cupboard for now.

Instead, I'm casting on a new pair of socks. Soft Serve Socks were next in my queue, for whatever reason I can't seem to download the pattern correctly from KnitPicks. I'll have to spend some time on the 1-800 number tomorrow pursuing that with customer service. So Leyburn socks it is! Ever since I saw the pictures of these socks on the Yarn Harlot's blog, I've been keen to try them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

started and restarted

After trying on the mitt upon finishing the thumb gusset it was time to face facts. These Broad Street Mittens just weren't working for me. The cuff felt overly narrow, and the wrist, too bulky. No point carrying on that way, so, with a deep breath, I ripped it all out.

I'm trying again with some mods to address the fit problems. To begin with I've cast on a half dozen more stitches for the cuff and switched the ribbing to K4P2 so it doesn't bunch up so much. And I plan to knit 5 inches of cuff and then turn it up to form a doubled fabric. And then, we'll see. My track record for modifying patterns is not good, but what's the worst that can happen? I've already ripped it all out once!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

less than 2gr left

Watching the scale flick between 1 gram and 2 grams as I weigh my left over yarn gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Very efficient use of yarn, eh? Knitting socks toe-up could become addictive for this reason alone. And now that I've had some success with a Turkish cast on I think I can finally stop avoiding toe-up patterns.

I've pulled out some gorgeous Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino for my first pair of Broad Street Mittens. It may seem like an overly luxurious choice but the scarlet colourway is calling me, especially after a week of knitting brown. This yarn was bought with someone in mind; so maybe that person will get mittens for Christmas!

Friday, August 6, 2010

finishing up Scylla Socks

Maybe a half dozen rows left to finish the heel flap, then the leg and the cuff. These Scylla socks are just flying off the needles! At this rate the second sock may be finished on my train trip home tonight. Just as well really, as I'm getting heartily sick of this colourway - too much yellow/orange/brown for me!

Add to that my urge to cast on for Street Knit. A bit of startitis maybe? I skimmed through the Ravelry database for patterns yesterday and determined that flip top mittens would be the most practical. My first pair will be these Broad Street Mittens from Knitty. They aren't what I planned yesterday - they're from sock weight yarn instead of the worsted I planned to use - but these look so very practical that I want to try them first. And there's really no danger of running out of sock yarn, is there?!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

more knitting plans

When Jane inquired about local charities accepting knitted hats, scarves and mitts for the homeless, I recommended Street Knit. Which got me to thinking ... I should knit some hats and mitts for them as well. It'd be an ideal use for the various skeins of worsted weight in my stash!

Seems like I'm just tearing through the second Scylla sock! With just a day of knitting, I'm already nearing the gusset increases. I'd guess that these'll be finished by the weekend. Mittens next, I think!

And today is my SIL's birthday. I'll wish her a happy day, but, her family is taking her to the Ganong Chocolate Factory, so it should almost certainly be a great day! Hopefully she likes the hand-knitted socks that she unwrapped this morning!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Traveler's socks done

With my second Estonian Traveler's sock done, I'm officially finished the first pair of socks on my Christmas knitting list. Only 142 days left to Christmas eve! Sooooo many pairs of socks planned!

About this sock: the pattern is gorgeous and I'm definitely thinking of knitting it again. Or finding more Nancy Bush patterns to knit. If I knit it again, I'll knit the calf on larger needles and the ankle on smaller needles; that might just perfect the fit. Sheesh, did they ever take a lot of yarn, though! About 70 grams for each sock. But with over 60 grams left from the original two skeins, there's enough for a pair of ankle socks for me. Maybe that'll make giving this pair away a little easier?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scylla sock update

One thing about long drives - there's plenty of time to knit. And Scylla is perfect for knitting on the go. The pattern is easily memorized, especially if you've ever made a pair of Newfie mitts. It's almost the same! The pattern uses slipped stitches and yarn wraps to break up the colour stripes in handpainted yarn. Quite a clever way to make difficult colourways shine!

More good news? It's only taken 23 grams or so to knit the foot including the heel, leaving me with about 10 grams to knit the leg. It won't be mid-calf, but it'll work out to something more than an ankle sock. Although I don't usually like knitting toe-up, I am really enjoying knitting confidently to use up every last gram. As well, the heel is very nice in this pattern and could be easily adjusted for a higher instep. Great pattern!