Saturday, April 30, 2011

scrunched up

It doesn't look like much, does it? That's the first ball of Cascade 220 superwash knitted up into my blanket. The edges are curling and the lace pattern is all scrunched up, but I have to believe it will look alright once it's washed. It will, won't it?

To reassure myself I've gone back to Ravelry and re-read all those comments about how much the yarn relaxed in the first washing. That should work in my favour, shouldn't it?

Deep breath ... and carry on. It'll be just fine, I'm sure.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Using honey coloured waste yarn I provisionally cast on and have worked most of the bottom edging. When you look at the pictures on the pattern itself, and also the pictures within the project pages on Ravelry, you can see that the purl side of the edging winds up as the RS if you knit the pattern as written. I prefer the knit side as shown in my photo as my right side, so I'm adding one more row of garter stitch before starting the main panel of the blanket.

The yarn is Cascade 200 Superwash wool. It feels lighter than a worsted and seems ideal to me as the pattern calls for a sport weight yarn. I don't want a very thin blanket, but it's lacy, so a little lighter than worsted is not a bad thing. Given that it is lace, I figure I'll machine wash, tumble dry until just damp and then block into shape. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

plan B

Yesterday's hat plan met one obstacle after another. First, the yarn wasn't dry; still isn't, in fact. Secondly, I hit a few snags when I ordered this hat pattern. Seems the store owner's ISP doesn't like Canadian URLs, so the email with the download link was blocked. Late last night Julie emailed me the pattern directly out of frustration. And then, wouldn't you know it, the pattern asks for size 10 DPNs ... one of the few needle sizes I don't have.

Looks like the hat plan will have to wait a few days. Plan B? I guess I'll start another blanket for the Warm Hands Network. Several weeks ago I picked up 8 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash with this Estonian Lace Blanket pattern in mind. I'd love to show you that I'd made a start on it, but the first line of the pattern instructs me to provisionally cast on 161 stitches ... that might take a while.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a plan for hats

Buried in the bag of Lopi that was given to me, were a half dozen balls of Paton's Norspun - "a mostly acrylic Lopi wannabe", a fellow Raveler describes it. Last night I rewound and washed all of that. I've been thinking, thinking and thinking what I should do with it. Because of the high acrylic content, it's no good for the Warm Hands Network. What to do?!

Hey, wait a minute! Wasn't I lamenting last year that I should be doing more for Street Knit? Aren't there about a hundred patterns for hats and mitts in my queue? And just yesterday, didn't I express an urge to knit something small, quick and fun? Hats; that what I'll do!

Monday, April 25, 2011

finished sweater

When you mattress stitch a seam, the seam should be invisible. Having run out of blue yarn entirely, and having instead completed the side and sleeve seams with contrast colour yarn, I am relieved to confirm that is true. The sweater is done, seamed, ends woven in and buttons attached. Last night I gave it another Eucalan bath to relax the seams a bit and now it's laying flat on the spare bed to dry.

There's still enough Lopi yarn left for two more sweaters, and possibly some hats and mitts, but I think I'm Lopi-ed out at the moment. Time to take a break and knit something completely different. Something small, quick and fun, I think. But what?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

pencil roving

When I talked to Laurie at the Black Lamb about drop spindle spinning she suggested I start out with merino pencil roving; "it makes it so easy", she insisted. Last night I dug out the bag of roving and gave it a go. Laurie was right, it really does make it easy. The pencil roving is already drawn quite thinly so not a lot of drafting is required. Look, my tension already looks quite even!

The bag of pencil roving I purchased was 225 grams, so if I spin it all - and I'm about 20% of the way through it now - then I should have enough yarn for a project, like fingerless gloves or even mittens. That's my goal. It's undyed though. Do I have to learn how to dye yarn next?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

at the lake

We packed up the car early Friday morning to head to the Lake to bring Nancy her new Stand-Up Paddle Board. As soon as we arrived Gavin and Nancy donned wetsuits to try it out, leaving me onshore as the official photographer. Conditions weren't ideal - cold, rainy at times, windy and quite choppy - but Nancy was able to get up on her board, paddle around and have a bit of fun.

I did find time to knit a bit further on my Herringbone Ribbed socks. In fact, the first sock is nearly done. Like most things in this world, this pattern gets easier with practice. No need to look at the chart anymore, and I'm able to detect and fix mistakes much quicker.

One more thing ... although we may not have appreciated all the rain over the last couple of days, my garden certainly did! The daylilies are really coming on strong now. A few days of sunshine and things should really take off!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Finally! The Canadian Dollar has been at or near par with the US dollar for months, but this is the first time I've actually come out ahead through PayPal. See that? $5.00 USD has been converted as $4.87 CAD.

Too bad there wasn't more of that going around. Check the cover price of Interweave Knits - $6.99 US but $7.99 in Canada. According to the Bank of Canada, one USD was worth 95.37 cents Canadian at the close of trading yesterday. So why are we paying about 15% more?

It's enough to drive you crazy, but never mind. After all, I finally won on that transaction!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a swatch

Last night I missed my usual train by just a few minutes. And then the next train, which was scheduled to depart 34 minutes later, was delayed by another half hour. As a result supper was very, very late and I only had a few minutes to knit before bed time. Very annoying!

There wasn't enough time to sew sweater seams, but just enough time to pull out the largest needles I own to knit a Habu swatch.

gauge: 16 sts = 5 inches in seed stitch

That's what I needed to know to prepare the zipper for this little clutch I have in mind. When I was at Gemini Fibers for my drop spindle class, I picked up a copy of the winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. I'm intrigued by this clever article from TECHknitter on incorporating zippers into knitting without sewing. I've got my latch hook and I'm ready to give it a try!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

... not

Nope, the sweater's not done. Turns out button bands and seams take longer than I thought. I've always been an optimistic estimator; things usually take longer than I think they should. But no worries, I'll show the ladies a finished sweater next week. Also the extra few days will give me time to wash and block the sweater which I'm hoping will help the shoulder seams relax a bit.

My herringbone ribbed socks are progressing slowly as well. But with all the slipping of stitches back and forth, and over, that's not surprising. Can you see how thickly the stitches are overlapped?

Thank goodness there's a long weekend coming! Can't wait to clear the decks of all these old projects and start something new. A bulldog I think! Or maybe the Habu clutch pattern that's rattling around in my head.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the push is on

There's a secret deadline for this sweater in my head: tomorrow. Why tomorrow? Because on Wednesday mornings the seniors knitting group at my local community centre meets; I know they'll be interested in the finished sweater. So the push is on.

Some people don't like the pressure that a deadline asserts, but I work better under deadlines. It keeps me focused, I guess. Add to that this wool sheds A LOT. For a while we were blaming the cat for the dust bunnies everywhere, until we looked closer. The fuzz is denim blue - definitely not cat hair. Once the sweater's finished, maybe we can live fuzz-free for a few weeks?!

The collar is finished, so what's left? Button bands, and then sleeve and side seams. Sounds like I should be able to complete that tonight. Finished or not, I can already tell that it'll look just fine with the collar and button bands in the contrast colour. Which is a huge relief because I didn't really have a backup plan for that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

crocheted eyelet strips

Remember when I first mentioned this crocheted eyelet strips blanket? How I celebrated the fact that each strip used up the ball of that colour almost entirely? Remember?

Turns out I spoke to soon. In almost every case I was left with not quite enough yarn to complete the joining row. Argh! The project sat it "time out" for a few weeks until I decided what to do.

Here's what I did:

I shortened the arms that criss-cross from one strip to the next in the joining row by one chain stitch. It doesn't sound like much, but it was enough to make it possible to join all but three strips.

The cream coloured strip had the least yarn leftover, so I made that the final strip on the outside edge - no joining row required! And for two other strips, I ripped out and re-crocheted tighter until I was able to squeak out enough yarn for the joins.

VoilĂ ! A finished blanket. Despite the struggles to finish, I'm very happy now that it's done. It's just so colourful! The drape is a bit uneven, so I'm going to throw it in the wash to see if it'll soften up and even out. I just hope Nancy is as happy with it as I am!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the sweater blues

It's the blues alright. I've run short of blue yarn - not enough left to finish the second sleeve and definitely not enough to knit the collar and button bands. Drat!

I had a feeling this might happen though, and I have a plan. This morning I picked out the bind off on the first sleeve and I'm ripping back 4 rows. The sleeves look generously long, so I suspect that even after making them 4 rows shorter they'll still fit the average adult. With the salvaged yarn I can finish the last 2.5 rows of the second sleeve, with a bit left over to sew up the seams.

The collar and button bands are going to be grey instead of blue - the grey used in the colourwork pattern. I have lots and lots of grey hanging to dry over the upstairs tub. Even Gavin agrees, grey instead of blue should look okay. Besides, what other choice do I have? I'm not prepared to rip out the whole sweater to reknit at a smaller size! It will look okay, won't it?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

herringbone ribs for me

I've been thinking about my sister-in-law over the last couple of days, and not just because it's her birthday Monday. I've made a start on my herringbone rib socks with this beautiful Merisock yarn - I received the pattern book and the yarn as birthday and Christmas presents from her family at the end of last year.

This pattern has its challenges:

There are two sizes, but based on various Raveler's notes about how tight the sock is across the instep at the small size, I've chosen to knit the larger size albeit on smaller needles. With 72 stitches in each round, it should fit, but to be sure, I plan to knit a deeper gusset and longer heel flap than what's written in the pattern.

Because several Ravelers noted that the pattern eats up a lot of yarn, I'm knitting toe-up to make sure I get the most sock possible from the yarn. These socks are for me so I definitely need a long foot and knitting the larger size is already likely to use lots of yarn.

And, with all the passing over of stitches back and forth to create the herringbone pattern, tinking or ripping back is all but impossible. I've got my stitch markers out and I'm going to have to count every round to make sure no yarn overs are missed.

It's pretty though; the pattern does a good job of mixing up the colours so that there's no pooling. Now, fingers crossed that all my mods work out for the best!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Barbie's first sweater

With the small amount of yarn leftover from my Miriam socks I thought I'd make a sweater for Barbie.

Why Barbie? A few years ago Mom and I heard of an organization that operates a "Christmas store" - parents of low income families are invited to "shop" for Christmas gifts for their kids at no cost. Unwrapped toys of any description are welcome, but the organizers made a particular plea for Barbies and Barbie clothes. "Barbie is really popular", they explained.

Just how popular she is was reinforced last weekend when I searched through the toys at the local thrift stores looking for a sample Barbie to check fit. No chance; Barbies are snapped up as soon as they hit the shelf. This Barbie is new, purchased for a few bucks at WalMart.

I've learned a few things after completing this first Barbie sweater (no.114 found here):
• from now on I'm looking for clothes knit in the round. Mattress stitching side and sleeve seams that are this small is painful!
• this little sweater was a lot more work and took a lot more yarn than I originally thought. If the idea is to use up scraps of sock yarn, I'm going to have to look at knitting stripes.
• as a kind of cruel joke Mattel has created Barbie with her thumbs and pinkies splayed outward; dressing her is like to trying to wrestle an angry toddler into a snowsuit.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

finished socks

Ta Da! With half of each round of the foot worked as plain old knitting, the last part of the second sock went faster than I figured. I grafted the toe closed just a few minutes ago.

pattern: Miriam by Monica Jines
yarn: Soxy by Diamond Yarn
mods: none

The Loopy Ewe describes this pattern as beautiful, impressive, a "wow" sock and I'd have to agree. The pattern is very striking and flows beautifully down the leg and over the instep. Fun to knit!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

hints of spring

After a couple of days of unseasonably warm, sunny weather, we're back to seasonal spring weather - dampy and chilly. It's not the nicest weather for walking and enjoying the outdoors but it seems to be exactly what the plants and trees need. Look! The buds on my Spindle tree are ready to burst into leaf.

Over the next day or two I'm concentrating on finishing my Miriam socks and then working towards finishing the sweater by the end of the weekend. The forecast is just right for knitting - a long drive to Lake Erie and then a couple of days of damp and chilly weather at the cottage. Nice!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

sweater progress report

Sweater back? Check.
Sweater left front? Check.
Sweater right front? Check.
Now for the sleeves.

Even though sleeves generally involve way more knitting than anyone could reasonably expect, these particular sleeves should go relatively quickly. The sleeves have only a few colourwork rows at the end; for the most part they're plain stockinette. Plain stockinette in bulky yarn on big needles - should just fly off the needles right?

Can you tell I'm impatient to get to the finishing? I've been looking at buttons and saw the perfect pewter ones on the weekend, but eight buttons at $3 each was too much. It makes me think about my Mom's button jar although I doubt there were eight matching buttons of any style in there. Maybe vintage buttons? Or perhaps I should wait to see what I see at the Knitter's Frolic?

Monday, April 11, 2011

it's a start

Almost every aspect of my drop spindle spinning needs work.

• I'm too hesitant when I predraft the roving; in fear of tearing the fiber apart, I'm leaving it too thick. I have to take time to really thin it out before spinning.
• I have to pay closer attention when I roll my spindle against my leg to make sure it's spinning clockwise.
• I need to ease up on my grip of the fiber supply into the drafting triangle. By gripping too tightly I've created slubs in my yarn where the fiber supply has bunched up.
• I must concentrate on pinching off the twist where it enters the drafting triangle. A few times I let go, creating twist lock in the fiber supply. Stopping to untwist it was a lengthy interruption and the resultant yarn was still lumpy.

There's a long list of things about my spinning that need work but I've made a start. Although my mini skein of yarn is uneven, it's knittable. There were several moments yesterday where I could feel that I was doing it right; now I just need to work on achieving that consistently. Practice, practice and more practice is the answer, but yesterday was definitely a good start.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The back of the Lopi cardigan was finished in the last few minutes of the Leafs last game of the season. There are lots of diehard fans who will tell you how well the Leafs did in the last few weeks of the season and who will explain how close they were to making the playoffs, but I don't buy it. Making the playoffs involves commitment from the beginning of the season, and as one commentator remarked, the Leafs just didn't show up for the months ending in Rs ... October, November and December. They didn't deserve to make the playoffs in my view.

I've made a start on one of the two front pieces of the cardigan, but I likely won't get much knitting done today. I've got to run in a few minutes to get ready for an all-day class at Gemini Fibres. That's why my drop spindle is out; it's time to learn how to use it properly!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

why lopi?

In the preface to The Best of Lopi, Norah Gaughan highlights some of the positives of knitting with lopi:

• sweaters knit up quickly in bulky yarn
• simple colourwork patterns keep it interesting
• usually knit in the round with little finishing

So far all true, although I did pick the Norwegian design cardigan pattern that is knit on straights and seamed to start with. Believe it or not, that's half the sweater back knit in a couple hours in front of the TV last night!

More that I didn't know? Lopi is from the world's longest haired sheep - a distinctive breed of sheep brought to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelandic law forbids the importation of foreign sheep, so there's no crossbreeding and the unique properties of the sheep are maintained. The yarn is famed for being durable, lightweight, warm and water repellent. Sounds perfect for the communities in northern Canada!

Friday, April 8, 2011

finally Friday

Photographing these red socks is a real challenge. After half an hour, I enlisted Gavin's help to finally come up with this. He's got much steadier hands so at least the detail in the pattern is clear in this pic. I don't know that we'll ever get the rich deep scarlets photographed properly. Maybe my point and shoot just isn't up to the task?

It's Friday, it's sunny and the weather is starting to get milder. Finally some double digit temperatures: ten today, fifteen tomorrow and eighteen for Sunday. Yippee! It's almost the weekend.

What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


With the green blanket done, the time has come to roll up my sleeves and dig into the Lopi that I was given a few weeks ago. I'm starting with seven 100 gr balls of blue; enough for the main colour of a traditional Icelandic cardigan.

First things first; taking a tip from comments on Ravelry forums, I rewound the yarn into skeins to check that the quality of the yarn hasn't deteriorated. Looks good.

Next, with the yarn rewound and tied off in skeins a Eucalan bath seemed like a good idea, not just to soften up the yarn, but also to rid the yarn of a rancid perfumed smell. Turns out that a soak was also needed to wash out excess dye; after two water changes and a vinegar rinse the water finally ran clear.

These first skeins will need a few days to dry. Tonight or tomorrow I need to follow these same steps to prep a contrast colour. By the beginning of next week I should be able to make a start on the knitting part of this project. It's a lot of prep work, but with yarn this bulky, the cardigan should knit up quickly!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miriam in red

Last week I mentioned that I was considering knitting Miriam socks with some red yarn from my stash. And it's almost as if typing those words set the plan inexorably in motion. Suddenly I had to knit them. I could picture exactly how they'd look and couldn't imagine knitting anything else with this yarn.

Miriam's an interesting pattern; fun to knit. The cuff is unusual with alternating knit and purl rounds creating a thick band which conforms to the top of the leg pattern. It's long pattern repeat, and despite how much seed stitch is involved, it's stretchy enough to fit well. The heel flap is worked in linen stitch, odd eh? I had my doubts. With stitches slipped every row - WS and RS - there are far more gusset stitches to be picked up for a 2.5 inch heel flap. Also, linen stitch is quite sturdy and not stretchy at all. After knitting it as written I'll admit it's very comfortable and all that extra ease at the gusset suits my high instep. In fact, I may adopt this heel option for future socks.

Now, back to that second sock!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the green blanket

Wow, what a difference ten minutes in the dryer made to this blanket! The wool tightened right back up. As a result it's back to the original knitted size and it feels thicker and squishier. Much better! And quite a relief, especially as I still have another blanket's worth of the same yarn in red in my yarn cupboard.

The finished blanket is not completely square; instead it falls into a kind of butterfly shape as a result of the chunky cables and ribs. Maybe if I had added several more seed stitch rows to the outside border I could have squared it up better? Add to that, that I'm still disappointed that I couldn't find a way to join the blocks seamlessly. My conclusion? I'm happy with the blanket but I likely won't knit this pattern again. Instead, maybe Umaro or Serenity for my next blanket?

Monday, April 4, 2011

superwashing wool

Last night I finished the green blanket, then tossed it into the washing machine. After all, it's superwash wool and I expect the parents of the child will do just that. May as well see what happens.

I expected the yarn to relax and bloom but maybe not this much. The overall size of the blanket increased almost 15%. The stitch definition is not as crisp as it was now that the yarn has fuzzed up but it's still okay. Last night I laid it flat to dry, but this morning I've decided to toss it in the dryer for a few minutes. We'll see what happens next.

To join the blocks I added a row of knit stitches and then grafted them together with kitchener stitch. Earlier last week I made up some sample swatches in 2x2 rib for experimentation but all my attempts to graft in ribbed pattern looked misaligned by a half stitch. Ugh. My knitted joins are not seamless but they're not distracting. Along the outside edges I added 2 rows of seed stitch - now the edges ripple slightly but they don't curl. That I find charming.

Now, if it would just stop raining so that I could spread out the blanket for photography. Hold on, check that thought. My garden needs this rain badly; photography can wait a couple of days!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

the April new Moon

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week day seven: Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

When do I knit? Whenever I can. Whether at home in front of the TV or at work in front of my computer, on the train or in the car, I knit anywhere I'm likely to have more than ten minutes of free time.

Today the new moon enters Aries - am I saying that right? - which means we're due for a TUSAL update. With a pile of unfinished blankets around me, I haven't had much to add to the TUSAL jar, just a couple of Kroy sock yarn tails. But maybe I'm starting to feel the predicted effect of the new moon in Aries, because I'm setting aside all doubts about how to assemble my green blanket and am plowing ahead. Does that count as 'letting go of inhibiting fears'?

help[ing] us to experience deeper self-expression, self-acceptance, and the carefree laughter of singing what is in our soul so that we can begin to heal our own wounds, patch up a bleeding heart, and let go of our inhibiting fears in order to move out into the world and discover what we've been missing!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

something to aspire to

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week day six: Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.

I can't say exactly what I find so irresistible about this whalebone man, but when I saw him in the gallery I knew had to have him. It wasn't the most sensible decision I'd ever made. I'd only been out of school and working full time for a few weeks. It would have been far more sensible to put the money towards my student loans, or rent, or even groceries. With a deep breath and a slightly sick feeling, I walked him to the desk and completed the purchase.

I have the same slightly sick feeling when I consider buying this sweater kit. It's gorgeous, no doubt about it. And when you consider that the kit includes the pattern and all the necessary yarn, the price is not ridiculous. But imagine! What if I spent all that money and didn't finish the sweater?! What if I did finish it and wasn't happy with it?! What if it didn't fit? And all those ends to weave in; imagine that!

Hmm. Maybe I'd better practice with something a bit smaller before committing to a sweater - like Fiddlehead mitts!

Friday, April 1, 2011

and now for something completely different

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week day five: This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create. There are no rules of a topic to blog about (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms, but here a few suggestions:

Wordless, photographic post • Video blog post
• Podcast • Cartoon/sketch of an idea • Write about a subject from a different perspective • Interpretive modern dance (why does someone always suggest this?) • A poem or piece of rhyming verse • Stop motion animation