Sunday, September 29, 2013

Year of Projects 3: waiting to start Vorticity

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

This time last week I was in Washington, wrapping up a four day getaway. We had the perfect weather for walking, so that's what we did. Besides, the driving looked crazy and parking seemed impossible, so walking was far the better option!

The National Mall is one monument after another, and one museum after another - we could have easily spent another couple of weeks to really see it thoroughly.

The National Holocaust Museum was amazing, sobering, moving and disturbing - don't miss it if you visit DC, although it's not suitable for children, or even teens I'd say. We were fortunate in our timing as the Museum is set to close Tuesday for five months while the curators return wooden barracks on loan from Auschwitz and replace them with barracks from Birkenau, which will be on permanent display. It's artifacts like these that contribute to the chilling visceral experience for museum visitors.

The Lincoln Memorial was astonishing in part for its sheer size. Sometimes things look bigger in photos and in movies, but in this case the reality far exceeded my expectations. I couldn't resist taking this picture of my sister dwarfed by the columns of the portico. Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps giving his "I have a dream ..." speech facing a sea of humanity surrounding the reflecting pool on the National Mall in 1963.

There's been some knitting in the past few days too. While waiting to cast on the next pattern in the Socktopus KAL  I decided to cast on a pair of BFF socks from Knit. Sock. Love. The yarn is Top Cat MCN in a colourway called "Sandalwood".  The pattern is basic ribs and cables - I needed something easy on my head because I've been crazy busy and stressed over the last while - but the magic is in clever increases and decreases when transitioning from plain stockinette or rib into and out of cables. Those increases and decreases are just the perfect thing to avoid any puffiness or bunching of the fabric. I'm at the heel flap of sock two and I'm hoping to finish these up by Tuesday, when I can finally cast on Vorticity!

I should also mention, there's a Back to Socks KAL going on over at Wandering Cat Yarns on Ravelry... any pair of socks completed by October 31st with Wandering Cat Yarns  and posted in the FO thread on Ravelry gives you an entry and a chance to win a surprise yarn pack. I won a yarn pack last year and it was awesome!

Now I've got to run through the shower and get organized. A new Michael's has opened just up the street, and Shirley and I are going to check it out. Won't it be nice to have a Michael's close by? And potentially expensive! Oh dear!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

The Brain Hat pattern by Alana Noritake makes me giggle every time I look at. Seriously, I think every one of my nieces and nephews needs one of these. And now that I've started, some coworkers have expressed interest as well.

The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn but in the interest of using stash yarns I'm producing my first version from an Aran yarn. Of course that means a bunch of modifications.

The hat is a pretty standard plain beanie and then the brain tissue is created by nearly endless amounts of iCord sewn in folding and looping patterns. So far I've knit 10 feet of iCord. Will it be enough for the left hemisphere? Probably not. Once I get it all pinned into place I'll know how much more to knit, so that I can bind off and start on the iCord for the right hemisphere.

I'm not 100 percent sure that heavier weight yarn will turn out to be practical. It might just be the heaviest and thickest hat ever when I'm done.  Time will tell! It'd sure be nice if it works; I've got lots more of this yarn in grey and a pinky-grey to knit up into brain tissue. If it comes down to it, I also have some sport weight acrylic in my stash that may work. Maybe that's something to try next?

It's Work-in-Progress Wednesday, and I'll be linking up with the gang at Tami's Amis (no link posted yet). Why not take some time, click through the links and prepare to be amazed?!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Crowley 02

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

As you might expect, a pair of socks knit with thick wool on 2.75mm needles doesn't take much time at all... less than two weeks in fact. Although, when the temperatures starting dropping to well below seasonal I was in a bit of hurry to finish them and get them onto my feet.

When I visited Cottage Craft almost four years ago, a pair of socks exactly like these were what I envisioned from this Cottage Craft 1ply wool yarn. The perfect boot socks! As soon as I saw the Crowley pattern I knew what my yarn choice was going to be. The colourway is called "Spruce Green" - be still my Canadian heart - and the yarn base is from Briggs & Little processed from fleeces from mostly Quebec sheep farms. Oh Canada!

Experts will tell you that 1ply wool is not a good choice for socks - more plys mean more durability - and besides these will likely felt. It's okay though; I'm planning to take good care of these by hand washing and laying flat to dry and never, ever wearing them in stocking feet around the house. Hopefully that will keep them in good shape for years to come.

Now that I've blocked them, the wool has relaxed across the cables somewhat and the socks are softer and less lumpy. But the pattern's still clear enough, right? I did have a look at the finished socks from other participants in the KAL - the pattern is really dramatic in smoother, traditional sock yarns. Que sera, sera.

Next on the KAL schedule is the pattern: Vorticity. I've got the perfect skein of Twisted Top Cat in a colourway called "Tidal" ready to go. Now I just have to wait patiently for October 1st, the first day of this next pattern in the KAL. I guess I'll have to find other things to knit or crochet over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

It's not a bowling pin, although you'd be excused for thinking so. When it's done, it should look something like this. At least, I hope so.

Once again I'm using scraps from my stash to make up items for a Christmas Craft show. The grey is leftover from some fingerless gloves I made a couple of years ago. The white and blue yarns were bought by the bag at a yarn sale in 2011, specifically with the intention of Christmas crafting. And the eyelash yarn came into my possession as part of a prize lot from an online contest put together by another craft blogger. Looks like this is the year that I really make some progress working through my stash!

By the end of this week I hope to know two things: whether I can produce a little gnome as cute as those shown on the pattern photo, and, whether it's easy enough to make multiples gnomes feasible. Maybe I'll see you on Friday with those answers? That's my goal!

It's Work-in-Progress Wednesday; I hope to see you over at Tami's Amis to check out what the rest of the gang has been up to!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Crowley 01

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

When I chose this thickish, rustic one ply yarn from Cottage Craft in New Brunswick for these Crowley socks, I wasn't entirely sure. After all, they won't be machine washable, and besides one ply isn't very durable for socks. Unless I'm very careful they'll felt and/or develop holes. But they're exactly what I imagined when I bought this yarn  - I love them and I will be very careful with them! Hand wash all the way!

Earlier this week when I was working the cables in the leg of the first sock, I planned to write about how much I despise cables in socks ... fiddly, needle-breaking, yarn-eating, lumpy things ... but now that I'm onto the ribbed foot I've gotten over it. Mostly.

It is quite a striking sock I think; the pattern is strong enough to hold up even when worked in thick, rustic yarn. Have I said "thick" enough times in this post? Definitely boot socks. Considering the disappointingly NOT-waterproofness of my winter boots, a thick pair of wool socks might be just the thing.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Welted Fingerless Gloves

Pattern: Welted Fingerless Gloves by Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

Yarn: Diamond Luxury Collection Baby Silk

Hook Size: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 6 (4 mm)

Modifications: To avoid curling at the finger opening I worked the second-to-last round through the back loops, then purled the final round before binding off knitwise.

Comments: Many years ago my Mom bought a single skein of two different colours of this yarn - just because it was so soft and luxurious - but since I inherited them I've been at a loss as to what to knit from them.  It's a silk and alpaca blend put up in 50 gram skeins; 145 yards isn't enough yardage for many projects. This pattern seemed the perfect answer. I can make a pair in each colour and possibly a third pair combining the leftovers of both.

The pattern is written in a small size, however that size is flexible enough to fit most hands. Even my gigantic hands fit, although the gloves are quite snug and I'd be tempted to add a few more stitches if they were for me. The pattern also suggests sewing a row of buttons at the outside top of the wrist on the welts to make a pretty little cuff. I don't have any suitable buttons, so I've left them off but I am now on the lookout for ten little pearl buttons to do the job.

It's Finished Object Friday over at Tami's Amis ... why not visit some of the links and enjoy the parade of awesome things that people all over the world have made this week?!

And by the way, I did launder that dark blue baby blanket I showed you a couple of weeks ago. It was knit from Berroco Vintage. After enclosing it in a lingerie bag I machine washed it in warm water and then tumbled dried it on low heat. Although I totally meant to take it out of the dryer while still damp, I forgot and it stayed in for the entire cycle. The blanket emerged looking perfect - no pilling, no felting, no shrinking. If anything it looked better than when it went in as the "blocking" seemed to have evened out the edges a bit. Phew! I'd happily buy that yarn again for baby items!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Hundred Acre Woods 02

SOCKTOPUS: Totally Vanilla • Kandahar • V Junkie • Kwalia • Farmer McGregor • Shur'tugal • 2luvcrew • Vorticity • Rumpled! • Crowley • Om Shanti • Mince Pie Mayhem • Hundred Acre Wood • De Stijl • Fiori di Zucca • Caretta Caretta • Spring Shoots

I missed posting again last week ... the crazy busy-ness just won't quit. But at least this time I've got some knitting done! My Hundred Acre Wood socks are done and they are gorgeous.

The yarn is Djinni Sock from Dragonfly Fibers in a colourway called "Oberon". It's my first experience with this yarn, which I ordered to support one of the sponsors of the KAL that I'm taking part in. The yarn base is 80% merino + 10% cashmere + 10% nylon; it's classified as a "light fingering" but I'd disagree. The yarn is thicker than most sock yarn I come across; more of a heavy fingering I'd say. And since most of the socks in Socktopus are written for size 1 (2.25mm) and size 2 (2.5 mm) needles, the heavier weight is much appreciated.

The pattern is a lacy pattern reminiscent of leaves worked with simple decreases and yarn overs. The chart starts almost immediately from the toe and continues seamlessly from the foot to the leg until it flows into the ribbed cuff. It's very pretty and surprisingly stretchy. There are a lot of charts at first glance, but looking closer it's just one chart for the foot, another for the leg and one for the cuff. I thought this pattern was going to need my full attention, but after a couple of pattern repeats I didn't need to refer to the pattern and could take it along as travel knitting.

Many of the KAL participants found these socks worked up too large for their feet and since I've been finding that same thing throughout the book I decided to be pro-active. I deliberately chose the medium size (my feet are large all the way ... in fact if you look up big feet in the dictionary, there's a picture of my feet) and then went down a needle size. It worked, and I couldn't be more pleased.

I'm also very pleased with the gusset shaping on this sock. In the past I've had trouble estimating the correct point to start the gusset shaping for a well-fitted foot but the instructions from designer Alice Yu are very clear, and the fit is perfect.

At the end of the cuff I worked my modified version of Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. With toe-up socks you have to be very careful that the bind off is not too tight. I find that JSSBO is too loosey-goosey so I process every other stitch according to her method for a stretchy bind-off that's not too loose.

And here we are at the beginning of September. HEY! Where did summer go?! According to the KAL schedule today I can cast on the next pair of socks .... Crowley. I've dug deep into my stash to pull out the oldest skein of yarn I have. It's a rustic one ply 100% wool yarn that may or may not be suitable. I guess I'll cast on to see!