Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Year of Projects Year 6: Week 02

This week I've split my attention between Necker and a new pair of Vanilla socks.

Necker first. Sometimes just casting on the second sock is significant progress I find, and I've cleared that hurdle now. I've knit the cuff and started the patterning on the leg so I'm well underway. If I can find knitting time here and there this week then I hope to finish this pair this week. It's a very easy pattern, and very easy to pick up and put down, so this should be do-able. If you have a minute, it's worth the time to click the pattern link and check out some of the projects worked in two colours. A pretty dramatic effect is creative. Right now I'm thinking about doing the pattern a second time in two colours, although probably with less dramatic contrast than some of the projects shown on Ravelry.

In keeping with my Year of Projects goal to knit alternate fancy patterns with vanilla patterns I cast on a pair of Pure Vanilla socks to use some problematic variegated yarn along with various solid and semi-solid grey scraps. I've worked about 4" of leg, but the stockinette is too inflexible to stretch over my heel so I'm ripping back to the cuff and starting over on larger needles. I'm really happy with how the alternating rounds of grey are quieting the variegated colourway though! The cream colour used in the cuff was amongst the yarn scraps I was given by a fellow Raveller. It's super soft but I'm not convinced there's nylon in it, so I think it's best saved for cuffs.

As for our cottage, thanks for all the great feedback and congratulations! It's not directly on the water - we're the third house back - which made it more affordable for us. The front deck has a clear view down the street to the Lake, so it's good enough for me. The big thing for us was how well done many of the recent renovations were. The cottage has been lifted onto concrete piers in the last several years so there are no dampness issues. The electrical was all professionally redone to 100amp service - the home inspector was very impressed that there were NO code violations whatsoever. The pump is new, the high efficiency gas furnace is quite new, the air conditioner is new, so we won't need to do anything for years. The roof and building structure are in good shape, in excess of code, and it's fully winterized, although the home inspector did say it'd benefit from more insulation in the attic and spray foam insulation in the crawl space around the concrete piers. I'll try to get more and better pictures this weekend for my next update.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Year of Projects Year 6: Week 01

Gavin checking the wind and waves

It's a whole New Year on my knitting calendar, but where to begin? For the past five years I've been knitting the all the patterns in a book, but I fell off the wagon with that last year. Combining Knit. Sock. Love. with the Cookie A Sock Club left me with Cookie A-exhaustion and I just couldn't bring myself to cast on one more pair from her patterns. Maybe this year I need to change up my approach?

So here's the new plan:

one pair of vanilla socks for charity every month. I really enjoy working simple vanilla socks from sock yarn scraps while having a more complicated pattern on the go on a second set of needles. That way if I'm on a train or a bus without a pattern book, I'm covered. And some days (and evenings) I'm just too tired to deal with something "chart-y".

• one pair of fancy socks from a different designer every month. Seemed like I spent last year knitting cuff down socks with twisted rib cuffs, a bunch of travelling stitches and the same old gusset and flap heel construction. Time to change that up! There are sooooo many amazing sock designers out there to try, one pattern at a time. And it'll be nice to tailor my pattern choices to match the yarns that I have and the upcoming birthdays on my calendar, too. Looks like I'll make some progress through my Ravelry favourites this year, rather than a book of patterns!

And that's it. That's the plan. Simple, huh?

Gavin windsurfing at the cottage
It'd help if I actually spent some time knitting though - that hasn't happened in weeks. Work's been crazy busy and so has my home life. Crazy in a good way - we bought a cottage at Lake Erie! Between back and forth with the offers, meetings with lawyers, viewings, moving, cleaning, scrubbing, inventorying and catching up on the yard work, there hasn't been much time to knit. It hasn't all been hard work though, there's been some swimming, hiking, biking and paddle-boarding too! So far, we love it at the Lake. I CANNOT WAIT to retire!

The plan then is to finish the two pairs of socks currently on my needles - Crest and Necker - and then getting going on my list. And when I'm not knitting, look for me in the Lake! It's gonna be a great year I think!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 50

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

No action on Cookie A socks - I'm still obsessed with Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden! Restless Needles sent me some gorgeous ArtFil Belle Sock Yarn in a beautiful watery blue which I've been saving for just the perfect pattern. And when I saw Crest the decision was made.  It's a fussy, slow-going pattern but the result is just beautiful! Frieda did warn me that there wasn't huge yardage in the skein so I've made good use of the kitchen scale to watch the usage as I knit. No question I would have run short, so after completing the gusset decreases I alternated with a similar yarn from Red Sock Blue Sock until the toe. That should get me through and the difference in the yarns is nearly invisible. Sock one is done and I'm well into the leg of Sock two.

Of course a fussy chart-intensive pattern isn't the best travel knitting, so I've cast on Necker as well in this lovely "Plumberry" colourway from Black Sheep Dyeworks. This yarn was amongst the sock yarn scraps given to me from another Raveller -  and I have two whole skeins! This is a very simple pattern of knits and purls but the effect when worn is quite strikingly architectural. The pattern is knitting up quickly so don't be surprised if these are off the needles by the next update.

And then there's this - the cover pattern from Op-Art Socks is Yaacov which is knit as stranded colourwork from two skeins of a long gradient yarn. You start each ball at a different colour, shifting the gradations of the two balls by working one from the outside and the other from the inside - that way the same colour never comes up at the same time. Ingenious! It's not often I'm shopping for the loudest yarn I can find, but this time I did. I happened across these two balls of Jawoll Magic Dégradé at Yarns Untangled in Kensington Market and snapped them up without hesitation. This should be fun!

Looks like I'm going to busy for the next few weeks!

There are just two weeks left in year 5 of A Year of Projects. We're a group of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry who work towards our yearly goals by making a list and updating our progress weekly on our blogs. It's a friendly group and you're very welcome to join us.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 49

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Good Grief! Is it really 10 weeks since I posted last? I guess that shows how busy things have been! Looks like the next couple of weeks are going to be catch up posts. Although there was no blogging happening, there was still knitting happening and as a result I've got some finishes to show!

I finished the Spring Fair Isle socks in March. The original plan was to complete the heel and foot in solid dark green, but there wasn't enough yarn to do it, so the last several rounds of the foot and the entire toe section were knit in a contrasting light green. That's the thing about knitting with scraps - you just have to make it all work with the yardage you have. And I think the light coloured toes are kinda fun!

Seems I was still in a spring mood after finishing the Fair Isle socks so I pulled out the rest of the green leftovers from the yarn I was given by another Raveller and cast on a pair of Vanilla socks. Don't the greens look nice together! The sandy coloured yarn was a good foil for the greens but it was unpleasant to work with. To put a nice spin on it, that yarn is likely very warm and sturdy. These will be donated to The Warm Hands Network and count as my February socks for my list. (February? Oh my! I really am behind!!)

Next I wanted to do something with 115gr of mustardy yellow yarn that was amongst the donated yarn scraps. With enough yardage to do an entire pair of socks I decided on the pattern Anni from Op-Art Socks. The pattern was inspired by a design called "Yellow Meander" by textile artist Anni Albers so yellow was the perfect choice. It's a really simple pattern of knits and purls but it's really striking when worn. And all those columns and rows make for a very stretchy and comfy sock! I have to admit as well that although I wasn't enthusiastic about this yarn colour it has knit up as a very nice pair of socks and the colour is just fine on my feet! These will also be donated to The Warm Hands Network and count as my March socks for my list.

Also amongst the donated yarn scraps was an entire skein of Tough Love Sock from Sweet Georgia Yarns in a colour way called Sugar Shack. The yarn had been caked and it looked as if something had been started and frogged. The yarn was a short-repeat variegated colourway ranging from undyed natural yarn through purple-reds to brown/blacks and entirely defied every pattern I tried. I tried a vanilla pattern. I tried a slip-stitch pattern. I tried a short row pattern. I tried a combination of slipped stitches and short rows. No luck - the colourway was too busy and too contrasty to suit anything I tried. I considered throwing the yarn in the garbage but couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally I overdyed the yarn with burgundy food colouring to darken the lightest parts of the colourway and reduce the contrast in the variegation, and that worked! I cast on a pair of vanilla-ish 5x1 ribbed socks and knit alternate rounds with other semi-solid berry colours from the yarn scrap bag to break up the pooling. I'm left with enough yarn for a second pair but I really like the first pair so that's not a problem. And these will be donated to The Warm Hands Network too and count as my April socks for my list. (Look at me catching up!!)

You may have noticed  that I haven't spent a minute on any Cookie A patterns from my list in the last two weeks. And I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm much more interested in knitting vanillas socks and patterns from Op-Art Socks these days. In fact I have two pairs of socks on needles now and both are from Op-Art Socks (but more about those next week), so I'm definitely not finishing my YOP list this year. The remaining Knit. Sock. Love. patterns will shift to next year's list and we'll see how that goes. For the balance of next year's list I'm considering a different approach - maybe one pattern from a different independent designer each month and one vanilla pattern for charity? That feels less restrictive to me, and perhaps more do-able!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 38

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Thankfully this week has been a lot more successful than last week!

After repeated soaks and rinses, I was able to get the coffee stains almost entirely out of the baby blanket. After blocking (again) Gavin and I agreed that you'd never find the very faint discolorations unless you knew where to look. And besides, aren't babies messy little miracles? Chances are that young Chad - who was born last Monday  - will add some stains of his own to the blanket with regular use, right? So the blanket was packed up and mailed off. On the morning of his birth his "Oma" sent me a photo of the nursery and there in the crib was the baby quilt that my Mom and I made for his older sister almost ten years ago!

While knitting my second BFF sock at work, a co-worker admired sock one and tried it on. Glory be, it fit her! Good enough for me. Sock two has been completed, and I'll hand off the finished pair on Tuesday - finished with just a couple of yards to spare. There would NEVER have been enough yardage to make a pair of socks to fit my size 11 feet. Not a chance.

As promised I ripped Twisted Flower  back to the cuff and restarted the leg patterning. But that's about as far as I got. Seems like there weren't enough hours in the day to get any knitting done from Wednesday on!

And did I mention that my Ludwig socks were done? Yeah, they've been done for quite a while - I'm just now getting around to photographing and blogging them. I've already worn them and washed them :) Nothing like knitting and wearing Lorna's Laces to remind you as to why it's known to be the "cadillac of sock yarns". It is really gorgeous stuff!

On Friday morning I stumbled across a thread on Ravelry titled "Free to GTA Knitters" and, wow, a local knitter was destashing and giving away oodles of gorgeous yarn absolutely free. I was a bit late to the thread so most of the full skeins were spoken for, but there was a large lot of partial skeins of fingering weight sock yarn still up for grabs. I was on that in a hurry! Along with a handful of other Ravellers,  I met Annie of "JumperCables" at a Starbucks about 20 minutes from home to pick up my loot. She has awesome taste in yarn so I made out like a bandit. And, she kindly added a couple of full skeins to top up my haul so I'm rolling in yarn for the foreseeable future!

There were several shades of solid and tonal greens amongst the partial skeins so I decided to cast on a vanilla sock with a Fair Isle leg pattern. The patterns are from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting - aren't they gorgeous? I'm switching up the CC colour every round or two and loving the effect. And I'm already musing about how the next pair might look if I switch up the MC and the CC every few rounds. I'm a huge fan of Alice Stanmore's sweater patterns - although I've never knit one - so I thought to try working the patterns and colour choices into socks. Fun! This might be my next obsession.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 37

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Things went off the rails with Twisted Flower when I noticed a split stitch in a cable and decided to tink back to fix it. Easier said than done with darkish splitty yarn on tiny needles and a million tiny cables. In fact, I'm about to cry "Uncle" and rip back to the cuff to start over. This yarn is CoBaSi - a cotton, bamboo and silk blend - so is a bit splitty straight away. After salvaging it by frogging Darjeeling socks it got splittier and will likely be even splittier after another round of frogging. I might need to use lifelines to get through these socks! CRAP!

Never mind, I thought, I'll put that aside for a bit and cast on something else for instant gratification.  And what could be more quick and gratifying than a simple classic sock like BFF from a really luxurious yarn like Tosh Sock? So imagine my frustration when I discovered the yarn was badly frayed after knitting more than a dozen rounds. Okay, that's not insurmountable. But after knitting ten repeats of the leg I realized that there wasn't nearly enough yardage to knit the leg (or the foot) long enough to fit me. CRAP! That IS insurmountable. Short of adding a contrasting yarn my only choice was to knit a smaller sock, so that's what I did. Sock one is 55 grams, with 55 grams remaining for sock two so I should just squeak through. This finished pair will be donated to charity.

But the biggest disaster of my knitting week happened on Wednesday morning when I dropped and shattered my coffee mug splashing boiling hot coffee across a large area of my living room. Last week's finished baby blanket was sitting on the ottoman awaiting a nice box for packaging and shipping to the expectant mother, and it was splashed with coffee. The stained blanket has been soaked. It's had repeated baths alternating dish detergent water and vinegar water. It's soaking one more time now. The stains are hardly noticeable now, but if they still remain I'll try commercial laundry stain removers this afternoon. And if all that fails, it looks like I'll be bleaching it white. CRAP!

So that's been my week. I'm almost afraid to do anything or touch anything else. They say bad luck comes in threes - and I've had my three - so maybe it's safe. Here's hoping next week is less disastrous :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 36

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Over the last several days the blanket border was knit on 4 circulars, making it hard to visualize off the needles. Late Thursday, once the final stitch was bound off I was excited to spread it out to see the finished blanket. But excitement switched to dismay and disappointment in a heartbeat - the borders were lumpy and distorted the centre panel. Oh no!

My first instinct was to rip it out and start over with another pattern. "You're nuts", said Gavin, "it looks fine." Hmmmmm.... maybe a clear head and fresh eyes were needed? I consoled myself by setting the blanket aside and cruising through alternative patterns on Ravelry, just in case.

The next morning I wasn't quite as unhappy with the blanket. There were some parts of it that I was happy with, and folded this way and that, it didn't look bad. And maybe, just maybe, I'd like it more after blocking? Yes, let's wash it, dry it and then decide.

Note to self: never underestimate the miracle of blocking. A trip through the wash was just the ticket to relax the borders and smooth out all the lumpiness. The blanket now drapes beautifully! Phew! I am soooooo much happier with it now!

A couple of things I should mention:

• the yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima. It is a dream to knit and after blocking it drapes beautifully - there is no woolly springiness to it! If you use this yarn though, do take time to block your FO. Not just to smooth it out, open it up and improve the drape, but also because it shed an astonishing amount of lint on that first wash!

• as written, the spindle cables were meant to continue to the corners and be incorporated into the increases but I chose to leave the corner sections as plain stockinette. My thinking was that they would finish more square and less ruffly. I think with this yarn I could have gone either way, but I like the look of it nonetheless.

• as written, the pattern calls for a decorative picot bind off. After working several inches of that I decided to rip back and change the bind off. In cotton the picots just seemed awkwardly lumpy. I looked through a variety of bind off options shown here, but in the end decided to simply bind off in pattern. I didn't want it ruffled, I didn't want it fussy, I didn't want it too tight and I didn't want it to detract from the spindle cables. I'm happy with that decision too.

• my intention was to knit a square blanket and I wrongly assumed that there would be more ease/drape in the length than in the width. Boy was I ever wrong! The blanket stretched considerably more in the width than the length with blocking and my resulting blanket is very rectangular (44" x 36"). It might have been a teensy bit nicer as a perfectly square blanket, but at least now it's so rectangular that it looks intentionally rectangular. I can live with that.

And yes, the blanket's done before my cousin's baby is due! Hurray! Tomorrow I'll package it up and send it off :)