Monday, February 28, 2011

Elizabeth's mittens

My sister-in-law, Elizabeth, has been visiting this weekend. Actually, she's been in town for a conference but we've enjoyed her company in the evenings. She brought her knitting along, including these lovely Thrummed Mitts in Cascade 220. She first saw them on the Yarn Harlot's blog and finds that her own mitts just aren't cutting it this winter in Ottawa. Hence, the need for thrummed mittens.

I've seen thrummed mittens on Ravelry, in other blogs and even at shows. But this is the first time I've had the opportunity to see their construction and try them on. Very nice, very warm, very comfy. Uh oh, was that the sound of my queue getting longer?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a full house

In just a few minutes I have to head out the door to pick up my sister-in-law from the conference she is attending downtown. While I'm out Gavin will pop the potatoes into the oven to bake and then follow up with parchment wrapped chicken breasts about 45 minutes later. With luck, dinner will be ready to serve about 20 minutes after I get home. My sister, her husband and her son will also be joining us. A full house!

All of which means that the final repeats of the leg of this sock will have to wait until tomorrow. Unless my company heads home early - then I can probably do a bit more knitting while watching the Oscars.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

the Ventures

Yesterday I ditched work early to head up to Casino Rama. Gavin got tickets to see the Ventures for Christmas. We checked into our hotel, gambled at the casino and then went to the concert; lots of fun. And holy, is Nokie Edwards ever impressive! I hope I'm in as good shape when I hit my mid-seventies.

We're home again today, but finding time for knitting is competing with all my other chores. The grocery shopping is done, the laundry is in the works. Now to get started on dinner!

Friday, February 25, 2011


The last couple of days at work have been busy; too busy to knit. As a result, my first Knotty or Knice sock is only knit about halfway up the leg and there's not much chance of finishing it today. No worries, I'm not on a deadline.

The yarn is from Diamond Yarn, called "Soxy". I picked it up last year at Rose's Fine Yarns for a few reasons:
• it's beautifully soft to the touch
• the muted colourway wouldn't obscure intricate patterns
• the price was right - about 25% cheaper than most sock yarns

So far, no regrets. The yarn is a bit splitty but otherwise it's been a pleasure to knit. Hopefully, with 25% nylon content, it will hold up well to machine washing and drying. Not just because I have two more skeins in the cranberry colourway; but because, if I see the green wave, turquoise or deep sea colourways, I'll be picking them up as well.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

wrap and turn heels

For my Knotty or Knice socks I decided to knit them exactly as written including the wrap and turn heel. Until recently I've avoided this heel, in part because I wasn't entirely confident that I was doing it correctly, and in part because the resulting heel leaves the sock tight across the ankle.

That is, I avoided this heel until I knit my Socks for Christy. In her pattern instructions, Linda Fisher explains picking up the wraps so clearly that my doubts vanished:

RS: pick up front loop of wrap from front to back, place it on the left needle and knit it together with that stitch through the back loop

WS: pick up back loop of wrap from back to front, place it on the left needle and purl 2 together

With respect to fit at the ankle, maybe a ribbed sock like this will benefit from a snug heel; otherwise it might end up baggy at the ankle. We'll see, won't we? Depending on my workload, the first sock may be done as soon as tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

finger yoga

The last few weeks I've been worrying about my brother. Worrying because he'd been rushed to ER twice with heart attack symptoms. This morning we received word that he's feeling better and may be released soon. Doctors are working to diagnose and treat the infection that has led to Myocarditis - inflammation of the heart muscle.

Worrying is very conducive to knitting. What did they call it on the NPR program about the Resurgence of Knitting? Finger yoga. Yes, I agree - finger yoga. It really does have a calming, meditative quality, doesn't it? It gives me the illusion that I'm in control of something while I focus on my mantra "Get well, get well, get well, get well .... "

I've made a start on the first of my Knotty or Knice socks. I'm knitting on smaller needles than the pattern suggests - but 68 stitches around the foot sounds like a lot to me. Besides, many Ravelers reported in their pattern notes that their socks ended up too big. Initially I thought the yarn may be too busy for the pattern. Now that I've knit two repeats I think it'll be okay. The pattern is lovely but you just can't do all these crossing cables quickly. Intricate and fussy work, but worth it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WIP wrestling match #5

The bell has rung on the final round of this match - finally, these socks are done. Through this pattern I learned a new bind off worked in two colours with a result that looks braided. I also learned a new cast on - the Eastern or Turkish cast on - which has become my favourite cast on for toe up socks. I learned how to M1L and M1R to increase while maintaining the colourwork pattern. I learned about turning mid-row and slipping stitches to get back to the working yarn of the third colour to purl those stitches. And, I got a whole lot more practice at keeping even tension and loose floats when knitting in two colours.

What's left? WIP match #2, my second lengthwise scarf, is on hold until I get one more ball of yarn. There's a tree frog awaiting front fingers - I'll sort that out this evening. And I need to get back to my knitted shelf liners. Nothing small and portable though, so I guess I'd better cast on some new socks. Hurray, new socks!

Monday, February 21, 2011

a second flock

This second flock of angry birds was spotted hereabouts the last couple of days. A sign of spring maybe? But the birds have moved on; clearly Southern Ontario was just a stopover on their migratory route. They look to be headed east towards New Brunswick. And before you ask, why no pig? Don't be silly - pigs can't fly, can they!

Speaking of flying, I'm just flying through my second Caspian Seas sock. At time of posting I'm part way through the yellow band on the leg. It's a holiday here - Family Day - so chances are I'll finish the sock tonight or tomorrow. And then it's back to the cupboard to find something else to finish!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WIP wrestling match #4

Can you believe that this shawl had been balled up in a bag in the yarn cupboard since June of last year? It just needed the ends woven in and then blocking. Good grief, why did I put that off? I'm usually more disciplined than that. In fact, the other day my friend Nancy insisted to her sister that I was "a finisher" when Theresa expressed skepticism about the likelihood that we'd complete our shared blanket project.

Last night I planned to work through the ends while watching the Leafs game. The last end was woven in just as the dignitaries and team captains finished the ceremonial puck drop; the game proper hadn't even begun. Somehow, getting started on the ends took more time than finishing them.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WIP wrestling match #3 - defeated

I've given up on this yarn. I bought a bag of it three years ago because it was very cheap and because I thought I could knit cotton socks from it. I have made a pair of slippers holding the yarn doubled but they're not very nice. And I cast on and knit most of the front of this child's sweater, but I didn't like the way that was turning out either. As a matter of fact, I've looked at every single last project knit from this yarn on Ravelry and haven't been inspired to knit any of them.

Enough. The child's sweater has been frogged, the yarn has been bagged and it's ready to go to Value Village. Maybe there's someone else out there who can put this yarn to good use. I feel slightly defeated by throwing in the towel this way, but I don't feel like spending another minute on this yarn. Onwards and upwards.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Stranded colourwork, that is. That's what I planned for my train - subway - bus trip today. And I must confess to some trepidation about how well it would turn out, but it's turned out just fine. I was able to sort out where I'd left off on the chart and it seems I can start and finish two rounds between each train stop and one round for each subway station. All good.

I'll admit I had my doubts about continuing with these socks. They're not really my style. With all the stranding they're too thick and warm to be worn in shoes. And they're tight across the ankles, but I haven't the faintest idea about how to address that with all this patterning and an afterthought heel.

But then I thought, what the heck; I've come this far, why not finish them? They've been instructional and I really think I'm getting a better handle on stranded colourwork knitting thanks to this pattern. That's a good thing, especially as this sweater is my someday when I'm really good at this I'm going to knit this project.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

the last 10 grams

With just 10 grams of yarn left and just 4-1/2 inches knit, it's clear that I need more Jojoland Melody Superwash yarn to complete my scarf. My planned trip to Pick Up Sticks may fall through though - Saturday's forecast is windy and unseasonably mild. Sounds perfect for surfing, but we'll see. One thing I've learned: you can't put much stock in the weather forecast.

My plan for today is to knit this last bit of yarn and then turn my attention to the next WIP awaiting resolution - Caspian Sea Socks. Started last summer, progress on the second sock was abruptly halted in the fall in favour of Christmas knitting. No excuses now, so I'd better get to it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

crocheting as fast as I can

Seems like Karla writes the patterns for these Angry Birds quicker than I can crochet them. This is the angry little bluebird but somehow he seems less angry than the rest. Maybe the lack of glaring eyebrows? After the last finishing details, Gavin compared him to the original in the video game - a pretty good likeness I'd say. His lower lids should be more of a pumpkin orange instead of rust colour but I wasn't buying any more acrylic yarn. And, as usual, I've used the safety eyes I had on hand, which are larger than they should be. Cute nonetheless.

When I picked up the blue yarn I also picked up some felt to complete the little pig's nostrils. So that's one complete set. At least, it's a complete set until Karla writes the pattern for the blackbird. And surely that can't be far behind!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


When there was a delay on the subway due to fire at track level at St. George station I was very happy to have my knitting with me. Even after the fire department gave the all clear and after power was restored at the affected station, delays continued as the congestion throughout the subway system cleared. All in all, the delays were enough to knit an extra 4 or 5 rows on my lengthwise scarf. It's about 3-1/2" wide now!

I'm not exactly sure what the ideal width for this scarf should be, but I'm almost certain I'll run out of yarn first delaying the completion of this scarf by a few days. A weekend trip to Pick Up Sticks is in order. Hopefully I can manage to pick up another ball of Jojoland Melody in this colourway without anything else falling into my shopping basket!

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy Lupercalia

Around here, Valentine's Day is viewed as something of a "Hallmark Holiday" - a day celebrated and promoted by the card companies and florists in order to sell you something you didn't need. We certainly don't need any chocolate here. Roses are nice, but I think the cat would make short work of them.

Besides, did you know that Valentine's Day had its origins in a pagan festival? The Roman festival of romance was originally celebrated on February 15th to honour the gods Juno and Pan in anticipation of the return of spring. Now that's something I'd happily celebrate although I won't be sacrificing a dog or a goat. With temperatures of +5° to +6° today and a forecast of +10° later in the week the return of spring is top of mind. Not to mention, all that chocolate left on store shelves goes on sale on February 15th!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

an easy eyelet blanket

At her Lake Erie cottage this weekend, Nancy and I started another shared project - a crochet blanket made from eyelet strips. Each strip is crocheted separately, then eight strips are assembled with a neat and easy zig zag of chain and single crochet stitches. It's the perfect shared project since the yarn can be easily divvied up and exactly matching gauge isn't too important. Another nice thing? Each strip is almost exactly one ball of yarn with just enough left to work the joining row. Very little waste.

In just a few hours we'd each worked up two strips ... that's almost half the blanket! When we see each other again in three weeks, we should be ready for final assembly. Just as well that the blanket's not time consuming; it looks like there's an Angry Bluebird to be crocheted as soon as possible!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the final bird

As you probably know the Goldfinch is angry too! Well why wouldn't she be; those rotten pigs stole her eggs as well. With that, the entire set of Angry Birds amigurumi is complete ... provided Karla isn't busy writing more patterns for the other birds. Gavin is very happy with his set and now I can knit my lengthwise scarf in peace without hearing any muttering about it not being an angry bird.

The amigurumi are very cute and now I'm thinking that maybe I'll make a couple more sets. After all, there's an awful lot of acrylic yarn left over. Besides, wouldn't a set of these with an Apple iTunes gift card be a perfect birthday gift for each of my teenage nephews?

Friday, February 11, 2011

slow and steady

Work on this second scrappy lengthwise scarf has been slow and steady; until now, there hasn't been much to see. There's about an inch and a quarter knit now. To give you an idea of scale, that's a matchbox with a carved elephant cover in the background. An inch and a quarter isn't much to look at, but it's enough to see that the transitions between colours have been muted by the linen stitch pattern of this scarf just as I had hoped. And enough to see that the long lengthwise repeats are thinning out the bands of the colour exactly as I had visualized. All of which means that I'm feeling a mixture of relief and excitement.

When I picked out the yarn and picked up my needles to knit the original gloves, I had a vision of how I thought they'd turn out. My result disappointed me terribly; I felt like I had failed. For years the gloves hid at the back of my yarn cupboard like an embarrassing mistake; imagine how great it feels to reconstruct them into a successful project!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

this little piggy

All that's missing are some felt circles for his nostrils. Poor piggy; he doesn't seem to realize that there's a very angry Cardinal right behind him. Really, it serves him right after stealing all those eggs from the nest! Just wait 'til I make an angry Goldfinch - there'll be no peace for this hapless pig!

On Tuesday night I tried making the snout a couple of times, but no matter what I did it didn't look right. For whatever reason, when I sat down to try the snout again last night the instructions seemed crystal clear. Weird. I think I've sewn the snout onto his face a bit crookedly, but it seems to add to his hapless charm. Now to find some felt for nostrils...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

pig pieces

As I rewound the yarn from the gloves that I ripped out, and as I knit the first couple of rows of my latest lengthwise scarf, I wondered about those people who buy sweaters from thrift stores to reuse the fiber. The yarn seems very twisted, kinked and splitty the second time round: I can't imagine purposely wanting to source yarn like that.

Progress on my lengthwise scarf is predictably slow. I've got 450 stitches cast on and worked three rows, but there's really nothing to show yet. Instead I snapped a picture of the various pieces for my pig from the Angry Birds game. After work I'll crochet the snout and start assembly. With luck I'll finish him up tonight, then get moving on an angry Goldfinch. The pressure is on!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WIP match #2 ... a rematch

When I knit these Almost Fingerless Gloves in the fall of 2008, it was one of my first projects with a variegated yarn. Coincidentally the yarn was, at the time, one of the most expensive I had ever purchased for myself. I loved the look of the yarn in the ball and couldn't resist.

Too bad I wasn't happy with the knitted result. I didn't like the little fingerlets on the gloves. I didn't like the way the colours knitted up into wide bands on the gloves. And I didn't like the way the two gloves didn't match. At the time I didn't know what to do about it, so I bagged the gloves with the leftover yarn and threw them to the back of the yarn cupboard.

Fast forward to today. I've ripped out the gloves - cutting away the finger and thumb sections because I'm too lazy to bother with them - and have rewound the yarn in anticipation of something new. I clicked through other Ravelers' projects knit with this yarn, and it looks to me like this Swirl Shawl is ideal. Too bad I don't feel like knitting that. Instead I'm knitting up this yarn as another scrappy lengthwise scarf. The long rows should distribute the colours in a more pleasing way. Besides I LOVE the scrappy scarf I knit in January, so why not another?!

Monday, February 7, 2011

WIP wrestling match #1

As promised, the second of my Socks for Christy is complete. What a lovely pattern this is. I love the way the twisted stitches swirl up the leg of the sock. I'm definitely going to knit another pair, and next time I'm definitely knitting the heel as written (sigh).

And as promised, this is the first of my wrestling matches with my various in-progress projects. You may have noticed that I started with an easy one, a project that was almost already finished. Well, why not? May as well get the ball rolling on a high note, right? Tomorrow I promise to roll up my sleeves and really wade in.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

an angry bird

When I saw this pattern I showed Gavin; after all Angry Birds is one of his favourite games on his iPod. Of course he wanted one immediately. And I was only too happy to oblige. Look how adorably angry the little cardinal is!

It's the first amigurumi I've crocheted. Not a bad first effort, eh? The pattern is very well written with detailed descriptions and lots of photos - perfect for a beginner like me. I think I handled the crocheting okay, but I need more practice at sewing and assembly. These safety eyes are some I had on hand; they're much larger than what the pattern called for. The 9mm eyes shown in the pattern are beadier and more piercing, but Gavin says he doesn't mind these.

It won't be the last amigurumi I crochet, though. Gavin wants the goldfinch and pig as well!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

warm feet

Yesterday's post on the Warm Hands Network blog confirmed that my package of knitted goods for the Innu communities of northern Labrador arrived safely. Anita posted a couple of pictures showing the mitts, socks and blanket that I had knit. Hurray, they'll be on their way to those is need shortly.

Read a little further in Anita's blog post to find this picture of socks knit and donated by Restless Needles. I find them particularly charming because they look like just like the Kroy socks I was knitting for the Warm Hands Network after Christmas. It's funny to think how in sync Frieda and I were in January! And it reminds me that I should try to knit a pair or two a month, rather than trying to knit pair after pair in the few weeks leading up to the next shipping deadline in September.

Friday, February 4, 2011


It would be unfair to describe these socks as "stagnating"; after all, they've only been on the needles for about six days, and I've already turned the heel on the second sock. But they are the first of my WIPs to be addressed during this lunar cycle. Once they're done - probably Sunday - I'll be diving into the cupboard to dig out the projects that really have been stagnating for weeks, months, even years. Won't that be fun?!

I'm very glad the weekend is here; the last couple of days at work have been brutal. We're expecting milder weather Saturday and Sunday, and my schedule's wide open. Sounds relaxing, doesn't it?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

the second new moon

For those involved in TUSAL - the totally useless stitch-along - the new moon necessitates an update. My scrap yarn jar looks quite full thanks in no small part to my scrappy lengthwise scarf. It has been handy to have all these scraps near at hand. I don't have to look far for a bit of scrap yarn for a provisional cast on, or to move thumb stitches onto scrap yarn for knitting later.

At this new moon, the sun and moon are in Aquarius - symbolized by the waterbearer. As explained by Molly Hall:

At the New Moon, we are deluged with fresh water of life and wisdom. This is freeing, and Uranus, the ruler of Aquarius, keeps each of us, and humanity from stagnating in murky pools, or from where the flow of life has been intentionally dammed up.

Over the next four weeks until the next new moon my plan is to clear out all those projects "stagnating in murky pools". For me, February is going to be a month of Work-in-Process Wrestling. Who's with me?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We've been lucky, here in Toronto; that's us in the clear area of the radar map with the bulk of the storm to the north and east of us. Despite desperate forecasts suggesting a snow-pocalypse was headed our way, we awoke this morning to a couple of centimetres of blowing snow. A few more centimetres are expected through the day today, but so far we don't even have enough to break out the snow shovel. Now that's lucky!

Last night I finished the first of my Socks for Christy - thanks to everyone for your encouragement, I did go ahead with the heel as is. The second sock is cast on for knitting on the train trip to work this morning. It is a very pretty sock; I think I will have to knit another pair with the correct ribbed heel. It's exactly the kind of fancy sock that I like to knit for Christmas presents. Oh, sorry... maybe it's too soon to start thinking about next Christmas?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

what was I thinking

I'm not used to working Wrap & Turn heels, so I paid careful attention to make sure I did it right. And then I knit the heel flap on auto pilot. Instead of the ribbed heel I opted for an eye of partridge heel, but what was I thinking?! A ribbed heel would have flowed seamlessly into the pattern of the leg with striking effect.

Part of me says I should rip and redo. But most of me says, nope, carry on. After all the heel looks fine. If I were to rip, I'd probably end up ripping out the entire sock to start over. I don't like my chances of picking up all those twisted stitches and yarn overs on the instep. So here's the deal: if I knit this pattern again, I'll definitely do the heel as written, but for this pair of socks I'm going with the altered heel.

What would you do?