Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas knitting and a give-away

With the beginning of December arriving this weekend, it really is crunch time for Christmas knitting. So I couldn't be more pleased that this pair of socks is almost knitting itself. The pattern is Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. You've seen the yarn before - it's Alley Cat BFL in a colourway called "Badlands". Several Ravelers warned in their notes that they needed slightly more than a skein so this yarn was the perfect choice as I have one skein plus almost 15gr leftover from my Archer socks. That should do it!

The pattern is simply K2P2 rib (and P2K2) rib which shifts back and forth between bands of stockinette. The result is very deeply textured and REALLY stretchy. It's going to fit beautifully! As you can imagine it's also very mindless knitting that's working up very quickly. That's awesome  - looks like I can finish up this pair before the end of next week.

Now, about that second picture ... With the addition of a loom it's clear that I have too many craft projects. Time to sort'em out and give some away! This lot features a cross stitch pattern called Gathering Place (Leaflet 91) from the Stoney Creek Collection by Leisure Arts with backyard birds like cardinals, chickadees, a woodpecker, blue jays, finches and wrens gathered around a feeder in a snowy pine tree. Along with the pattern I'm including three lengths of cotton cross stitch fabric and an assortment of DMC embroidery floss. I'm guessing much of the floss was purchased for this pattern so you'd be off to the races. Please leave a comment on this post if you're interested. Next Wednesday I'll draw one name and contact that person to arrange posting the lot to them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Year of Projects: Merike's Gloves

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

On Friday I posted my finished picture for Helgi's Mittens. Despite a false start and new yarn choices, all's well that ends well. There was one more project finished by Friday, but I've saved that post for today. Finally, here are Merike's Gloves finished. I cast these on in mid-September so they've been on the needles for almost two months; that's an awfully long time for me. As you can imagine I'm pretty happy to have them done.

Following the suggestions of other Ravelers in their project notes I thinned each finger by a couple of stitches to make them less "sausage-y". It was the right thing to do because now they fit beautifully. I also lengthened the distance from the end of the cuff to the beginning of the thumb gusset by a handful of rows, which was totally unnecessary. Now my cuff is longer than it needed to be, but that's still okay. I love the way one section of the vikkel stitch patterns travels up each finger and thumb - the pattern is really well thought out!

For yarn I used Loopy Ewe Solid Series. It's okay but the yarn is not as soft and smooth as I'd like and it was quite annoyingly splitty to work with. I'm hoping that the gloves will soften up with a soak in Eucalan. Fingers crossed. The great thing about the Loopy Ewe Solid Series Yarn is the wide range of solid colours but it won't be my first choice otherwise.

At some point in the coming week I'll be casting on for Sander's Mittens. I've picked up some really bright colours of superwash baby wool from my stash, so it'll be a test of my nerves. These colours are really outside my comfort zone, which probably explains why they remain in my stash. Over the next few weeks, though, I do expect that work on my Year of Projects will slow. Christmas is coming and that's a whole different set of priorities.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Finished Object Friday

Pattern: Helgi's Mittens

Yarn: Shepherd Baby Wool 4 ply (Blue) and Sandnes Garn Lanett (Purple)

Modifications: I worked the cuff as K1P1 rib, instead of K1tblP1 rib as written entirely due to inattention. After realizing my mistake on the first mitt I decided to duplicate it on the second. As well, I made my cuff longer than the traditional short Estonian cuff that was directed.

Comments: The colour choices were determined by what was available in my stash; they seemed pretty iffy when I started but now that the mitts are done I'm happy with them. In matching yarns to projects I'm trying to use baby or fingering weight wools without nylon content for mittens and gloves, with a view to leaving the others for socks. 

The baby yarns are beautifully soft making for some very comfy mitts, and the stranding from the all-over colourwork makes them thick and warm. I briefly considered skipping the colourwork on the thumb and working it in solid blue to match the cuff, but then abandoned that idea. Anyone from a cold climate knows that the thumbs are the first to get cold!

It's Friday so check the links at Tami's Amis to see what everyone else has finished. I've got one more finished object waiting in the wings, but you'll have to wait for Sunday for that! To all my American friends, I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

learning new tricks

As soon as I knew for sure that I was getting a rigid heddle loom I ordered this book "Weaving Made Easy". My plan was to work through the book project by project in order to learn how to use the loom. Unfortunately due to shipping delays the book didn't arrive until several days after the loom - time enough for me to warp it up and crank something out. And I briefly thought that maybe the book had been a waste of money.

Now that my first project is off the loom I've had a chance to examine it more closely. Can you see the mistakes in the second photo? See those two floats where my weft didn't travel correctly between the warp threads? There are at least a half dozen of these throughout the woven fabric. I was a bit ticked that I hadn't been more careful ... that is, until I found the "Troubleshooting" chapter in the book and the step-by-step instructions on how to fix exactly this. Now it looks like the book was a very wise investment indeed. There are several more tips in this chapter that I'll be putting to good use.

My finished project is 58" x 10.25" after hemstitching each end on the loom and then making a fringe with overhand knots. The fabric is too stiff to make a scarf out of it. And it's a bit narrow for placemats. It could serve as a table runner but I don't have a table that needs a runner. The yarn is a wool/acrylic blend so it's not really suitable for kitchen cloths or pot holders. I am thinking about cutting it into four equal lengths and then practising some hemming techniques. Or maybe cutting pieces and sewing them into bags. Any other suggestions?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Year of Projects: Helgi's Mitts 03

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

Today's the last day of my vacation :( I've done lots over the last seven days but, as usual, my to-do list was longer than I could manage. I had hoped to have Helgi's Mittens done today but I've come up a bit short. I considered delaying this post to finish the top shaping and start a thumb but that seemed a little silly.

I am sure that I will finish the mitts today and then get restarted on Merike's Gloves. After finishing the third of my dishcloth cotton shelf-liners last night, I'm feeling pretty motivated to finish things up. The fact that Christmas is just over a month away is another big motivator. The presents for family in Europe are done - I'll post them this week. The presents for family in Ottawa are also done - I dropped them off last week. Next up? Presents for family in New Brunswick. Looks like the next couple of weeks better be spent on secret Christmas knitting!

How about you? Are you feeling under pressure too?

Friday, November 16, 2012

it's a start

Thanks to Jane Patrick's DVD "Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom" I've managed to warp the loom and get started with weaving. Probably I should have waited until my birthday - the loom is a birthday gift after all - but waiting is not my strong suit.

I don't have a warping peg yet but Gavin says he'll put one together for me from an old broomstick and wood scraps in the garage. That'll be a big help. This afternoon I set a wine bottle on the floor about five feet past the loom and used that. It wasn't entirely ideal. I pulled it over TWICE and had to untangle all the loops and repeg them. AND my resulting warp was somewhat uneven.

Right now I have one stick shuttle but that's not enough either ... especially not if I'm going to weave stripes and plaid. Hopefully there are some more wood scraps in the garage that can be made into additional shuttles.

Enough complaining ... it's amazing to me that after an hour or so of weaving I can already see dramatic improvement in my edges. Even Gavin was impressed. Fennel green weft next for eight picks. See? I'm getting the lingo down too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a field trip

Since I had to head downtown today for an appointment with the eye doctor, I figured I may as well check out a new yarn store that's a 15 minute walk from the doctor's office. It's called EweKnit and it's situated in the main floor of an old house in Mirvish Village. I'm so glad I did because it's lovely.

The rooms are very bright, spacious and everywhere you look ... gorgeous yarn. It was almost overwhelming, especially when faced with an entire wall of Koigu! Wow! Alongside the Malabrigo and Misty Alpaca hang skeins of Sweet Georgia yarns, and my goodness are there some beautiful colourways! If I could have settled for just one or two, some of that would definitely have fallen into my shopping basket, but in the end I just couldn't decide. Spoiled for choice.

Instead I stuck to plan and picked up 5 skeins of a DK weight yarn - Berroco Vintage, a reasonably inexpensive wool/acrylic blend. Tomorrow I'm picking up a new-to-me Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom and I wanted yarn with enough wool content to be stretchy and forgiving for my first attempts, but not expensive in case the first attempts are disastrous. The loom is an early birthday present, with thanks to Gavin. Over the last few days I've been watching YouTube videos to prepare but I'm so not prepared. I've ordered the book Weaving Made Easy  - it got the best all round reviews from what I could see. My plan is to warp something up and see what happens. Wish me luck.

Now if only I could figure out some way to make it to knit nights at EweKnit. The atmosphere of the shop is so charming and relaxing ... I really can't wait to go back.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Year of Projects: Helgi's Mittens 02

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

I'm finally getting somewhere with Helgi's Mittens. The first mitten is mostly done; it's just awaiting its thumb. Thanks to a day spent babysitting, I finally had an opportunity to knit for a few hours. Tomorrow I'm taking the car in for a service, and Tuesday I'm taking the train downtown for an eye doctor appointment, so there'll be several more hours of knitting time in the not so distant future. I'm hoping to finish these up by the end of the week. They're going to need a vigorous blocking though - the top shaping looks particularly bumpy.

After the first pattern repeat I was iffy about the colour combination but on Wednesday readers left lots of positive feedback in their comments. Buoyed by that I carried on and now I'm glad I did. There sure isn't much contrast but the pattern is clear enough. And when I step back to look at the first mitt "Groovy Baby" à la Austin Powers pops into my head.

The second of Merike's Gloves is still in time-out, but I'm starting to feel little twinges of motivation. I expect I'll have the stitches off scrap yarn and back on needles by the end of the week as well. I'd dearly love to promise to finish these for next week's update but maybe that's too optimistic. I'm a terrible one for underestimating what's involved in things. Is that common amongst hand crafters? Maybe. If you ever sit down to calculate the number of stitches in a pair of socks or a shawl it does make you wonder why we do it, doesn't it?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Care to knit a square?

Care to knit a square? That's the question that Kelli Ann posed in a Ravelry forum ...

J’aimerais demander à mes amis qui savent tricoter, de fabriquer ensemble une couverture en laine. Le patron ne demande que la base du tricot (tricot à 5 aiguilles en rond, point à l’endroit, augmentations dans les coins) et une petite quantité de laine à chaussettes belle et douce… Ensemble, nous pouvons assembles nos carrées en un ‘patchwork’ qui peut être mis en vitrine et fera l’objet d’un tirage au profit de la Société Canadienne du Cancer.

I’d like to ask my knitting friends to help me make a blanket, one that requires a basic knowledge of knitting (technique with 5 needles, with increases) and a small amount of soft, quality sock yarn. Together, we can sew up our separate squares and produce a lovely ‘patchwork’ that can be displayed here in town and raffled off to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society.

I've knit three squares. The first was knit with MCN from Zarzuela's Fibers. I've named this square Hurricane Sandy, because I was knitting while watching tracking the storm through TV coverage, and because of the swirling blues. The second was knit from 100% Merino from Shelridge Farms. This square is named "Through the dark Spruce" a take-off of the name of an award-winning Canadian novel because of the forest-y colours. For the final square, "Easter Parade", I tried out the pattern with some self patterning sock yarn.

The square is from the book Knitalong and to be honest I wasn't too sure about the pattern when I started these. The square begins by casting on 12 sts and then increasing from there but that leaves a noticeable hole. Fortunately that hole is easily closed when weaving in the first yarn tail. The outside edges of the square curl but that will resolve itself once the squares are assembled into the blanket. The centre of the square puffs out a bit after knitting but the square flattened out quite readily with blocking. I thought I'd better wash and block these just to make sure all the dyes were colourfast; wouldn't it be a nightmare if one of them ran and ruined an entire assembled quilt?!

Mostly I'm glad they're done; they'll be in the mail tomorrow. Lately things have been several notches past hectic and I've been feeling a lot of pressure. My focus over the coming days and weeks is to finish the things I've already started and get to work on the things I've already committed to. Well, that and to say "no" to every new project - no matter how tempting - from now until Christmas. Wish me luck; this is not something I've ever succeeded at before.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

After a disastrous weekend of ripping out everything I knit, a couple of simple squares looked like the safest thing to attempt.  A few weeks ago I committed to knitting a couple of squares for a Barn Raising Quilt to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. It's a very easy pattern, and with very little effort I've knit the first in a variegated blue and made a good start on the second. If you're interested in the KAL there's more information here.

And after ripping out my first attempt at Helgi's Mitts, I've made a new start now using periwinkle blue for the main colour and royal purple for the contrast colour. The resulting pattern in the knitted fabric is much more subtle than it would be if knit in black and white as suggested by the pattern, but I prefer it. Besides, I'm determined to knit from stash yarns (and preferably from superwash baby yarn) so my colour choices are limited by what I have on hand. What do you think? Are the colours okay? Because if these don't work, the next plan would see white paired with the periwinkle blue.

There are a couple more wips scattered around my dining room. After ripping back on Saturday, Merike's Gloves remain in time-out until I feel a little less defeated by them. My third dishcloth cotton shelf liner is also awaiting my attention; I'll get back to that once I clean up some of these other projects.

It's Wednesday, so you know what to do! Go, check out all the links at Tami's Amis.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Year of Projects: Helgi's Mitts 01

Folk Knitting in Estonia: Aino's Gloves • Anu's Christmas Gloves • Anu's Mittens • Anu's Stockings • Avo's Mittens • Ellen's Stockings • Helgi's Mittens • Hilja's Mittens • Ilmar's Socks • Juta's Stockings • Kalev's Mittens • Kristi's Mittens • Laila's Socks • Landra's Gloves • Liidia's Gloves • Liivi's Stockings • Maarja's Socks • Maimu's Mittens • Marko's Mittens • Meida's Mittens • Merike's Gloves • Rita's Stockings • Sander's Mittens • Tiit's Socks • Ulla's Gloves • Virve's Stockings

I hoped to show you a finished pic of Merike's Gloves but when I laid the right glove along side the left to compare the length of the index fingers I saw a mistake three fingers and several rows back. RIP!

With the gloves in time-out I then hoped to show you a good start on Helgi's Mittens. But my choice of yarns is no good - the variegated yarn is getting lost in the solid purple and the pattern is disappearing. RIP!

I'm almost afraid to try anything else today. Thank goodness Juta's Stockings were knit without incident. (The finished object post is here, if you missed it.) My plan for the rest of the evening is to put all knitting aside, grab my eReader and curl up in bed. Tomorrow is another day.

Don't get me wrong; aside from these knitting fails today was a very good day. Nancy and I went to a Fall Fibres show put on by the Guelph Guild of Handweavers and Spinners. Really enjoyable! Big thanks to Brenda Franklin for her very thorough demonstration of weaving with a rigid heddle loom and another lady who demonstrated bobbin lace techniques to us.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surmount The Stash November Update

Some months it's hard to evaluate my progress to Surmount the Stash. This month I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped, but there is some progress.

Monthly budget of $50 for all knitting related expenses: In October I scooped up 2 balls of red acrylic DK from the clearance room at Mary Maxim for a whopping $1.99 each. Including tax, my total spending was under $5.

A week ago I came across a post on Ravelry about a KAL to make a Barn Raising Quilt for the Canadian Cancer Society. The pattern is not available online, and I wasn't sure I wanted to splash out for the book but I quickly realized that the book was available from the library. That made me feel very thrifty :)

Manage my WIPs: My Smitten Advent calendar is finally done and I'm busy scouting little surprises to fill each of the 24 little stockings. It's pretty fun. I also knit two pairs of socks, I'm a quarter of the way through my secret Christmas knitting, and I'm hoping to show a finished pair of gloves for my Year of Projects post on Sunday. Two years ago I knit a shelf liner for a friend from dishcloth cotton and had planned to knit two more. This morning I can report that the second is done, and the third is well underway.

Plan projects to work through my inventory of yarns in my Stash: I started the year with 1350 grams of dishcloth cotton and by the end of next week that total should be down to about 350 grams. That's about 75% of that stash knit!  I have some ideas about a new dishcloth design so a portion of the remaining yarn will go to that.

In the next few weeks I also plan to make two squares for the KAL - there are a couple of sock yarns whose variegation have defied all my pattern choices so I think they'll be perfect for this. And once that's done - and once my secret Christmas knitting is done - it's socks and Year of Projects knitting for the rest of the year. Sounds like I can still make inroads into the fingering weight stash!