Thursday, September 30, 2010

blanket musings

Based on these first two and a half squares, it looks like each blanket square requires about 15 grams of yarn. Which means that from my original 300 grams of yarn, I should get about 20 squares. Arranged four squares across and five squares down, the resulting blanket would be 28" x 35" plus borders. That's a good size, I think.

Or maybe I should go with 16 squares in a 4x4 arrangement to yield a blanket that's 28" x 28" plus borders? That way I'd have left over to do the borders with the same yarn. This appeals to me because the yarn has so many gorgeous subtle shifts in colour that I'd hate for a border to detract from it.

Speaking of the border, I'm considering something along the lines of the lace edging on Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket. I have a dark green that I could use as the second colour. Or do you think it'd be too much?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Herringbone Ribs

With my red Take Fives complete, it was time to cast on another pair of socks. No matter how engaging I've been finding blanket blocks lately, they're just not suitable for carrying around to knit on the train and at work. Definitely need some socks on the needles!

For a couple of years I've had this Rainbow Yarn from Cricket Cove in New Brunswick in my stash. I made a start on Express Lane socks with it a few years ago, but decided the yarn was too busy for the pattern and ripped it out. Fast forward a few years when I seem to be getting a bit better at sussing out patterns for variegated yarns. For this yarn I'm going to try Herringbone Rib Socks.

The pattern is worked over 12 stitches - a pretty wide repeat for socks. Faced with that I figured that small needles would keep the sock to a reasonable size while allowing me to knit the top of the foot across 36 stitches for three full pattern repeats. The yarn is very fine, so there should be no problem there. Enter these 1.5 mm needles (US size 000)! Tiny, tiny stitches. I'll have to knit a few more inches before I can see whether this is working.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

crazy daisies

It's going to take some explaining as to how it is that I'm crocheting daisy blocks in brightly coloured acrylic. It's not my usual sort of project, is it?

Crochet? Really? Yes, I learned to crochet in Grade 6 Home Economics but it's been years since I attempted anything more than a crocheted border. But these days, thanks to Google and YouTube it was easy enough to organize my own refresher course. Because Nancy doesn't knit so to involve her in a joint project it had to be crochet. And I was the instigator - I just had to try the pattern. Nancy was good enough to agree to crochet along.

When making a blanket for charity, we found that most charities want acrylic. Not surprising really - it's machine washable and dryable. So just over a week ago at Len's Mill Store we picked one ball of each of the brightest colours of Paton's Canadiana. To say these colours are bright may be an understatement! With colourways like Super Lime, Really Green, School Bus Yellow, Really Blue and Super Teal you just know that the results are going to be intense.

Now, I wonder how many different ways I can combine these eight colours?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a first blanket block

Stephanie Van der Linden has designed some of the most spectacular sock patterns I've ever seen. Last year I knit Esther socks and Komet socks - incredible! And for the last little while I've been eyeing another of her patterns - GrĂ¼n ist die Hoffnung.

It's very interesting construction. The pattern is worked from the centre out, working the top of the foot first. After looking at the project pages of fellow Ravelers I decided to knit the motif as a blanket block in worsted weight. A couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I'm not convinced that I have enough yarn to complete an entire blanket. I bought every inch of this colourway but that's only 3 skeins or 645 yards. It'd be a very small blanket. Secondly, it seems to me that, as a sock, this pattern wouldn't have a lot of stretch so getting a good fit might be tricky. And thirdly, I'm frankly in the mood for something interesting and fun that knits up quickly in thick yarn on big needles. So a blanket it is.

Now, does anyone have any ideas about how to assemble the blocks into a blanket?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

the socks are in the mail

This morning I finished up the last sock of Bentley's three pairs. The khaki green pair is from some really soft superwash merino/nylon sock yarn from the Black Lamb. The blue/grey variegated pair are from Regia sock yarn and the brown is Dye-Version stretch bamboo - the stretch comes from a small amount of lycra. Funny how differently they turn out with different yarns. The bamboo socks are soft and silky; they may turn out to be the most comfortable. But definitely the first ones are my favourites - the khaki ones.

Into a bubble envelope, then into the post; away they all went this morning. By arranging the pairs of socks side by side for a flattish parcel, I was able to take advantage of the oversize letter rate - a full $7 dollars cheaper to mail than if I had piled the socks one on top of the other. Explain that, Canada Post!

Friday, September 24, 2010

the no-trouble Tribble

When I was a kid there was Phentex yarn everywhere; I even had several pairs of slippers made from it. And, thinking back, I'm pretty sure I've seen it at old aunties' houses crocheted into kleenex box and toilet roll covers. For those of you not familiar with it, it's labeled as "Olefine Exelon" which is a form of polypropylene plastic. Yes, the same stuff they make tupperware from - tough and flexible, economical and durable.

Plastic yarn wouldn't be my first choice for most knitting projects, but I thought it'd be a good choice for a pot scrubber like this Tribble when I came across it at Len's Mill last weekend. And when Gavin mentioned that we needed a new scrubber for the kitchen, I cast on. An hour or so later, I cast off and finished it up. We're trying it out over the next few days. Hopefully we like it, because I've got enough leftover Phentex to make dozens more.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

my brighter morning

About a month ago we replaced our kitchen track lights with a light/ceiling fan. Yesterday Gavin reinstalled those track lights in the hallway. He'd been waiting for me to decide where I wanted them. Upstairs? Downstairs? After waiting a few weeks he realized I was no closer to a decision, so he decided. The hallway. It's really bright, he warned me; like an interrogation hallway.

But I like it. The shadows created by the railing caught my eye yesterday. But this morning it's as if the sun is streaming into the front of the house.

Reminds me of my Mom singing the chorus from this Oklahoma tune ...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bentley's first socks

I've always thought highly of my friend Nancy, but recently her greatness was made official. A few weeks ago her nephew and his wife welcomed a baby boy; congratulations Great Aunt Nancy! With a broken ankle limiting her activity, Nancy's been spending a lot of time with baby Bentley. A plaster cast means no walking, no driving, no swimming, not much activity at all, so minding the baby is a welcome distraction.

All this talk of babies got me to thinking about baby socks as a good use for sock yarn leftovers. So I'm trying my hand at these Better Than Booties Baby Socks by Ann Budd. The construction is interesting - a short row heel and then identical short rows to create the toe. The "zigzag" bind off runs across the top of the foot. I considered grafting to bind off instead, but I like the raised ridge created by the zigzag. The otherwise plain foot and toe benefits from the visual interest.

With the first sock done from start to finish in just over an hour, I plan to knit a few pairs and then post them off at the end of the week. Instant gratification knitting. And stash busting too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a fresh start

That's the first shelf liner done. Three weeks from start to finish. Not bad, considering a couple of pairs of socks were knit through those same three weeks. What it means is that my plan to complete two more of these for the first week of November is completely do-able, from a scheduling point of view.

When I decided to move forward on my idea of knitting shelf liners I was a bit concerned that the knitting would become tedious. I was worried that I'd be dragging my feet through the second and third shelf liners. Not so. The lace pattern is just challenging enough to keep it fresh and interesting all the way through.

With this shelf liner and the last pair of socks off the needles, the beginning of the fall season offers a fresh start. The beginning of the TV season, the first day of the NHL preseason, the start of sweater weather and something new on the needles - it's all good ... until we see how badly the Leafs play.

Monday, September 20, 2010

catching up

Shhh .... I'm supposed to be working. But in actual fact, I just finished the bind off of my second sock; the second sock of my second pair of Take Five socks. It's bad enough that I'm slacking off, but Andrea took the time to model them for me for a picture. And she's supposed to be organizing a big shipment for Fed-Ex this afternoon. Don't feel too bad for the boss who's vacationing in Boston this week - I did start my shift an hour early this morning, and Andrea came in to work on her usual day off. Besides, we're just about caught up anyway.

And that's about how things are on the knitting front as well. About caught up, that is. These socks are done. My shelf liner? Almost. Maybe a half hour or so to knit tonight through the season premiere of Chuck. And then, new things to knit!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the value of a well-written pattern

Through my last couple years of knitting the respect I have for pattern designers has really deepened. Designing a simple dishcloth provided first hand experience of how much is involved in preparing a pattern publication - swatching and adjusting, writing and charting, knitting and reknitting, oh my! And how nice it is when the pattern is nicely formatted - well organized, clearly written and well photographed. A pleasure to knit - no worries and no surprises. I see a lot of value in that!

Mostly knitting patterns seem reasonably priced. I don't hesitate to shell out a few bucks at a coffee shop, or ten bucks or more at the movies, so what's a few bucks for a well written pattern? So this morning I was shocked to read a Ravelry post complaining that a designer asked $10 for a lace shawl pattern, fully written and charted, with short row shaping creating a unique collar and fitted shoulder area. How many hours of work went into that, do you think? Good grief, don't buy the pattern if you think it's too expensive.

Actually, I lie. Many patterns do not seem reasonably priced. Seems to me, many pattern designers value their work too cheaply. There's an interesting article here about selling yourself short. Okay, end rant. I'm going to go back to minding my own stitches. And to admiring the printed pattern for this Montague shelf liner, day dreaming about different ways I could knit this pattern: place mats, a table runner, a counter pane ...

Then there are the other nine patterns in this booklet to consider.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fly Butterfly, Fly!

Just before lunch on Saturday I slipped the small rubber band off the tip of the triangular box, flipped open the lid and released this monarch butterfly. Within the unopened box I had felt the butterfly stir and then start to flutter. When the box opened, the butterfly hopped to the edge of the cardboard to spread its wings in the sunshine. After a few minutes to warm up, it flew off.

At least a hundred butterflies were released. We spent the next half hour watching as butterflies examined flowers, circled each other in the air, and flew off down the lakeshore. This Lupus fundraiser was very well attended and successful; I'm glad I went. Looked like lots of money was raised - money to be put to good use helping those with this disease and finding a cure.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Take Fives, take 2

These Take Five socks are really charming and fit beautifully. The pattern is simple, but the effect is very elegant. These just feel like I should knit some more! I'm still disappointed that there wasn't enough yarn to knit the legs a bit longer, but I've come up with a solution: knit another pair.

You remember this red yarn, don't you? It's Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino. And I completely love this colour. These two skeins were originally planned for a shawl, but my sister didn't love the colour. Then I tried Hobo mitts, but frogged them because I didn't like the fit. So why not socks? It's sock yarn, after all. And I've got lots of it.

My only hesitation was that the yarn is 100% merino - no nylon content. How well would socks knit from this yarn wear? I asked Ilga Leja at the Knitter's Frolic earlier this year. "Knit in a reinforcing thread at the toe and heel", she suggested. Sounds like a plan. And where to find reinforcing thread? Romni, of course. They carry little spools of 2 ply wool/nylon blend Regia Stopf - und Beilaufgarn in various colours. The red I picked is a brighter red, but once knit, it disappears into the main yarn. It does make the fabric at the toe a bit bulkier and stiffer, but better that than holes!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

modified for toe-up

As much as I love this yarn, it seems there isn't very good yardage in these balls. For a second time I've run short before knitting as far on the leg as I'd like. In this case, I don't mind; this Take Five sock is just as cute as an ankle sock as it would be longer. And boy, am I glad I knit them toe-up so that I knew exactly when to cast off! But clearly a single ball is not enough for almost any pair of socks, and two would be way too much. Annoying, huh?

With unusual self control I was able to restrain myself and knit the sock to a smaller size than would fit me. You can see in the picture how tightly the sock is stretched across my size eleven foot! Looks like they'll be perfect for the smaller feet of their intended. This is the first time I've modified a cuff down pattern to knit it toe-up and I'm pleased with how it worked out. Now let's see if I can do it all again for a matching second sock!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

a start on Take Fives

Much of yesterday was spent in the car - driving out to Cobourg and Newcastle so that Gavin could surf and then sitting in the car watching while he surfed. I definitely needed a portable knitting project on hand.

Back in January I knit Komet socks from On Your Toes bamboo, but ran out of yarn before finishing the second sock. After consulting fellow Raveler's stashes I negotiated the purchase of another 100 grams. I used about a dozen grams of yarn to finish my sock and put aside the rest.

Those Komet socks turned out to be my faves - a lovely pattern and very comfy yarn - so I've looked around for a simple elegant sock for the rest of the yarn. Take Five Socks fit the bill for me. It's a very simple pattern - just four rounds stockinette with a pattern every fifth - but it's very charming. "Ohhh, that's nice," says Gavin peering over as we drove home last night "it looks like a real sock". He meant it as a compliment but it's an odd thing to say, don't you think?

I've modified the pattern to knit toe-up because I'm now completely addicted to using every last meter of yarn without fear of running short. And I've reduced the number of stitches for the foot to 56 to keep it narrow and snug-fitting. Now I'm trying to convince myself to keep the length across the bottom of the foot short enough for my SIL instead of long enough for me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Soft Serve socks

They're not identical twins, these Soft Serve socks, that's for sure. But they're definitely a closely related pair. As you can see, the second sock is done. I'm happy with them, kind of, but I wouldn't knit this pattern again. Not because I screwed up the second sock twice before finally getting it done. But because, although the swirling of the pattern looks nice, it makes the socks irritatingly uncomfortable. No matter what I do the socks feel twisted; I'm constantly wanting to tug at them to straighten them.

I'm also happy with the yarn, kind of, but I wouldn't buy it again. Not because of the non-matchiness, but for a couple of different reasons. It's not the softest yarn - the pattern feels a bit scratchy across my instep. Not uncomfortably so, but there are so many softer, nicer more comfy yarns out there. Mostly I don't like all the grey twisted in from one colour transition to the next. The best parts of this colourway are the blues, green and blue/green twists.

Enough moaning; I think I'll cast on something new!

Friday, September 3, 2010

butterflies and wishes

Next Saturday I'm participating in a Walk for Lupus in my Mom's memory. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies which attack the patient's own body causing inflammation, damage and pain. So why the picture of the butterfly? Two thirds of lupus patients suffer from chronic skin rashes and in many lupus patients the characteristic rash is butterfly-shaped across the cheeks and nose. As a result the butterfly symbol has been adopted by Lupus organizations around the world. Monarch butterflies were a particular favourite of Mom's - this picture I snapped a few years ago was her pick for her personal stationery.

At the end of the walk there's a butterfly release planned and I've arranged for a butterfly to be released in Mom's honour. I'm really looking forward to that. There's apparently a legend that by whispering a wish to a butterfly and giving it freedom, the butterfly will carry the wish to heaven and it will be granted. I'm guessing we'll all be wishing the same thing - an effective treatment and cure for this terrible disease.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

making my own luck

After breakfast this morning I knit a couple more rounds bringing my second Soft Serve sock back to where I was a couple of days ago. All the rewound yarn has been reknit. Phew. And this time, I threaded a lifeline after completing the heel - that way, if I have to rip back at least I can save all the work done to that point.

The third time may be lucky but I'm not relying on luck alone. These socks are put side after dark; the light in our living room just isn't bright enough to keep close watch on tiny dark stitches on tiny dark needles. I'm counting stitches every row - just to make sure that errors are caught and corrected quickly. And, if all else fails, there's that lifeline. All prudent steps, I think, to ensure my own lucky outcome!