Friday, October 25, 2013

Finished Object Friday: The Brain

Pattern: Brain Hat by Alana Noritake

Yarn: Briggs & Little Heritage in Sheep's Grey

Needle Size: US 8 (5 mm)

Modifications: The pattern was written for fingering weight yarn, but I've used worsted weight to go with the gloves I already made for Gavin. For the beanie, I cast on 80 sts, work 10 rds K2P2 rib, work 30 rds stockinette, start crown decreases - 10 per round every alternate round - until 30 sts and then every round to 10sts, cut yarn and thread through remaining sts. The finished beanie used 62 grams of yarn and fits perfectly.

For the iCord, the worsted weight yarn is too thick for an Embellish Knit machine, so all of it is hand knit - 14 feet for each brain hemisphere (another 110 grams of yarn). The designer includes instructions about attaching the iCord with a crochet hook and yarn, very painstakingly attaching every single stitch along the length of the iCord. Hmm, no. I positioned it with pins with hat on my styrofoam head, basted with scrap sock yarn and finally sewed it on from the inside of the beanie. All told that part of the finishing took just over three hours.

Comments: Maybe doing this in worsted weight yarn wasn't the best idea - the finished hat is really thick and heavy. So thick, in fact, that the hat retains its shape without support! It's wearable, and it's thick enough to prevent head injury if you were to fall on ice or something. I'm making another Brain hat in Sport yarn to see how that looks and feels. And this time I'm using the Embellish Knit to crank all that iCord!

It's a funny project and it is pretty cool looking, but it looks absolutely ridiculous when worn. At least it does when Gavin wears it. He was kind enough to model the hat for photos when he got home from working a night shift last night, so it's mean of me to make fun. Maybe on a person with long hair framing their face below the hat it might look better? Oh well, I think he'll probably wear it anyway just because it's so odd looking.

Today's Finished Object Friday over at Tami's Amis. Please click through the link (I'll link as soon as Tami posts) to see everyone else's show and tell. Why is it that short weeks with holiday Mondays always seem so long? Phew, the weekend's almost here!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

One thing about these brain hats - you need a lot of iCord. So much iCord. I started my first hat in worsted weight yarn, but I'm still worried about how much it's going to weigh once all the iCord is affixed to the beanie. So I've started a second Brain Hat in a sport weight yarn, but as you can imagine, with finer iCord you need MORE iCord. So much iCord. I can just hardly wait to see what's involved in sewing all that iCord to the beanies. My styrofoam head is ready for the pinning and I'm contemplating affixing the iCord with hemming adhesive so that I can keep it in position more easily while I sew it. I'll let you know how that works next week. If I can figure a way to do these that isn't painful, I'm confident they'd be a big seller at the craft show.

At the same time, I'm knitting up a fourth gnome. This little project has been really helpful for using up scraps of DK weight yarn. On this gnome I've used the last of some leftover Berroco Vintage in the mittens, and I'm using some leftover baby alpaca in the boots. Now that I'm knitting them in the round, I can start and finish a gnome in about two days. And the finishing is so easy now. How many softie patterns can you find with absolutely no embroidery?!

This week I also want to finish my Vorticity socks. So lots of knitting and lots of finishing. It's Work-in-Progress Wednesday over at Tami's Amis - go have a look! See you again Friday!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Vorticity 3

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

The first sock weighs 52 grams.

The remaining yarn weighs 52 grams.

This game of 'yarn chicken' is ON !

Friday, October 18, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Brother Gnome

Pattern: Jultomtar & Teeny Tomten by Alan Dart

Yarn: SRK Northern Sport and some fun fur

Needle Size: US 2 (2.75 mm)

Modifications: After knitting a first gnome (the blue one in the background) as written - knit flat and seamed - a few weeks ago, I determined to convert as much as possible to knit in the round. In this second gnome (the green one in the foreground), the head and body are knit entirely in the round, as are the hat and nose. For the feet and legs, I knit the feet as tubes in the round and then added an afterthought leg. The arms were knit in the round but the mitten hands were knit flat and seamed. Also, following tips from the project notes of other Ravelers, the beard was knit with Fun Fur held double.


Well, that was waaaay easier. Finishing took about a half hour and was easy peasy. This pattern should definitely be knit in the round as much as possible. I still have to add the twirl to the top of his hat, but it's a messy business - twisting and pinning, and spraying with Stiffen Stuff - so I'm gonna wait until I've got a few more gnomes ready and do them all at once.

Holding the Fun Fur double for the beard was painful, and the resulting beard isn't as supple as the original one. Of course, the Fun Fur I'm using isn't the one the pattern calls for - so that might be the difference - but this particular mod wasn't worthwhile for me.

For my feet I increased to 24 sts, but my feet came out pretty chunky. Next time I'll stop increasing at 18sts. Otherwise, the legs worked out perfectly. Also, this time round I used less stuffing at the top of the legs, so they're a bit floppier. He still sits fine, but now his legs straighten out to dangle below him when you pick him up. I think that's better.

The pattern designer makes particular mention that the pattern as written includes additional stitches which will be taken up with mattress stitching. Based on that I expected gnome no2 to finish larger than gnome no1, but not so. The second gnome is actually shorter. Maybe that's because my row gauge is so much tighter when just knitting in the round, compared to knitting and purling back and forth? Weird, huh?

Well that's it for me today. I'll be knitting a few more gnomes over the next few weeks; that is, when I'm not making Christmas soaps, which seems to be my new obsession. It's a sunny autumn Friday - have a great one. And make sure to check out all the other finished awesomeness at Tami's Amis!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Vorticity 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

The plan was to show you a finished sock. With 40 sts remaining in the round while working the toe decreases it occurred to me that the foot looked a bit short. Maybe I should try it on? Yes, it was short ... quite a bit short ... a lot short even. Nothing to do but to rip back and add another pattern repeat to the foot. At least I hadn't finished the sock - after all, ripping out after grafting and after weaving in ends is considerably more painful.

The first sock fits perfectly, but the credit for that goes to the project notes from other Ravellers. Many noted that the sock came out too big on the suggested 2.5 mm needles so I opted to shift down one size to knit the leg on 2.25mm needles and then shift down one more size starting at the heel turn to work the foot on 2.0mm needles. That's done the trick!

It's Thanksgiving here in Canada. Gavin is sick so we're having a quiet, stay at home weekend for the most part. Maybe I can finish up sock one and get a start on sock two?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Year of Projects 3: Vorticity 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

Tuesday - the first day of October, and the first day I could cast on Vorticity socks for the Socktopus KAL on Ravelry. So you know what I was doing at work on Tuesday; besides working, that is.

The pattern is tricky for two reasons - the stitch count per round changes depending on where you are in the repeat, and in two places the end of round moves. Lots of people have been thrown off. There has been quite an active discussion going on in the Ravelry group, with more than one member expressing confusion and frustration. Once you figure out how it works, the pattern's pretty simple and it works up quickly. I've finished three repeats of the leg - although I took the photo after two repeats - and have just 19 more rounds before I start the heel.

The yarn I'm using is from Wandering Cat Yarns - Twisted Top Cat MCN in a colourway called "Tidal". So far the subtle variegation is working up beautifully. I couldn't be more pleased. I've mentioned it before but it bears repeating: 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. Last year I won a yarn pack and it was awesome!

Friday, October 4, 2013

FO Friday: Yuletide Gnome

Pattern: Jultomtar & Teeny Tomten by Alan Dart

Yarn: SRK Northern Sport and some fun fur

Needle Size: US 2 (2.75 mm)

Modifications: None

Comments: I've knit the smallest size of the Jultomtar pattern, which is plenty big enough. I might give Teeny Tomten a whirl just to see if I like the tinier iteration. About half my gnome's height is hat though, so it's a bit deceiving.

The pattern - every single little piece - is written to be knit flat and seamed. So that's what I did - because I tend to think that the designers know something I don't and I should do it the way I'm supposed to make sure of how it all goes together before I start redesigning it - but I'm shaking my head about it now. It's just ridiculous. Some people do go overboard converting things to knit in the round just to avoid the tiniest bit of seaming, but for crying out loud, this pattern goes too far with its determination to knit everything on straights. Working the pattern as written creates as much finishing as there was knitting; never mind that mattress-stitching a seam up the long and winding point of his hat was painful. Why?!?

I plan to cast on a companion gnome today, and this time I will convert everything to knit in the round ... and then we'll see! As well, in project notes from other Ravelers there is a repeated suggestion to hold the fun fur double for a lusher beard. Maybe I'll try that too for good measure. What's one more mod on top of all the mods I've got planned?

It's Friday - a cool and rainy Friday here in Toronto - so you know the drill. Click the link to Tami's Amis and check out the link list there for all kinds of awesome finished projects. It's sOcktober, so I'll bet there are socks, and maybe some Christmas craft ideas too.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

October already! Uh oh. Christmas is coming at us fast! The only positive thing about the start of the new month is the start of the KAL for Vorticity socks. When I joined the Socktopus KAL on Ravelry this was one of the patterns that really caught my eye.

At first glance the pattern looked tricky, an impression that was reinforced by big, long charts, but things are much simpler than they appear. The real trick to these socks is keeping track when the end of round shifts - twice within each repeat. Other than that it's pretty easy going. The shifting column of eyelets make it a snap to read your knitting and keep track of the rows without paying much attention. Feels like it's going to be pretty stretchy too.

The yarn is Twisted Top Cat - an MCN with additional twist which should make it the perfect sock yarn. It's definitely a pleasure to knit. The added twist makes it less soft and squishy than the usual MCN, but it should result in a more durable sock, and I'm all for that. The variegation looked pretty subtle in the skein but I'm totally loving how it's knitting up. Drat, I really should have snapped up that second skein, but it's too late now. Somebody already got to it!

I'm double-dipping on KALs with this sock. At the same time as I'm knitting it for the Socktopus KAL, I'm also entering it in the Back To Socks KAL over at the Wandering Cat Yarns group on Ravelry. It feels a little like cheating.  What do you think?

Of course it's Work-in-Progress Wednesday over at Tami's Amis. I've missed the last few, so I'm really looking forward to checking the links there to see what everyone else has been up to!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FO: BFF Socks

Pattern: BFF Socks by Cookie A. from Knit. Sock. Love.

Yarn: Top Cat MCN from Wandering Cat Yarns in "Sandalwood" colourway

Needle Size: US 1 (2.25 mm)

Modifications: After decreasing to 40 sts at the toes, I worked every round as a decrease round to 24 sts and then grafted for rounder toes.

Comments: I've knit the second smallest size - cast on 64sts, increase to 80 sts for the leg - and they've come out a perfect smallish size. In fact, they can be stretched over medium or larger feet but I think the socks look nicer if the ribbing isn't pulled too widely apart. Amazing how the cables compact the fabric! At this size I've used 87 grams of yarn; if you're considering this pattern at a larger size make sure you've got the necessary yardage!

The pattern is pretty straight forward and made for some good mindless knitting through the last few stressful weeks, but there are some really clever increases and decreases hidden at the beginning and end of each column of cables which make the transition from the pattern to plainer knitting flat and smooth. Very clever!

It may come as a surprise that I chose a cabled pattern after complaining about cables and socks just a few weeks ago - I'll admit I surprised myself - but I was yearning for a more tailored style sock. Besides cables aren't nearly as bad across 4 sts rather than 8 sts, and in a cashmere blend fingering weight yarn rather than a rustic sport weight yarn.

Linda tried on the first sock right after I turned the heel so I'm hoping I've measured correctly. If anything these might be just a little bit too long. Somehow it's hard for me to imagine that anyone really has feet that tiny! If they're too big I'm prepared to rip out the toes and rip back one pattern repeat on the insteps to restarting the toes sooner. But fingers crossed that I don't need to!