Monday, June 29, 2009

simple squares

Now that I've knit further on my double moss stitch baby blanket, the squares that are delineated by eyelet rows and columns are clearer. And I like what I see so far. It's a very simple knit, made more interesting by the tweedy effect of the two colours in the 2ply yarn. My plan is to continue until I run short of yarn. And I'm curious to see how it looks after washing and blocking. Fingers still crossed.

Next? I've been looking at a skein of baby alpaca that was a gift from the Purple Purl on the TTC Knitalong a few weeks ago. A little pair of mittens, I think!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

putting stash yarn to good use

Saturday morning found me tidying up. Then sitting in front of my yarn cupboard surrounded by stash yarn. With my Hey Teach cardigan finished - just needing buttons and a model for photography - I was ready for a new project. In one bag from my Mom were skeins of Briggs & Little Anniversary Twist, a 2 ply wool with plies of light and dark blue twisted together. Mom purchased the yarn from the ends bin at the mill last November. And she had rewound four skeins and started a fifth. But there was nothing on needles and no hints as to what she had in mind.

With over a thousand yards of wool I decided on a baby blanket for the Warm Hands Network. There are hundreds of blanket, shawl and afghan patterns in the Ravelry databases. And I've lost many hours looking at them all, but I wanted something simple, mostly solid, reversible and a pattern that would keep it's shape. So I'm winging it. Double moss stitch pattern overall, with the border and inner squares divided by rows and columns of eyelets. Fingers crossed that it works out as nicely as I'm visualising it!

Friday, June 26, 2009

throwing away the reading glasses

Lots of errands over the last couple of days. Yesterday saw me at my Optometrist's office before work, after dropping off yearbooks, and posting toner cartridges for recycling. Increasingly I've depended on reading glasses for near viewing - contacts only corrected for distance viewing. A few weeks ago I saw a TV ad for progressive contacts ... "throw away your reading glasses" it prompted. I called my optometrist and she ordered a trial pair, with a three month money back guarantee. And they are AWESOME! I can knit on 2mm needles without reading glasses! Consequently I'm getting down to business with my second Red Rocket sock. Almost to the heel now and on a roll.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a second square

Here's the second blanket square. Once washed and blocked the yarn really softens, leaving the square with little stiffness and substance. And leaving me less convinced that this wool is suitable. Typically I knit blankets with worsted weight yarn, but for these little squares I chose to double strand a 4ply fingering weight yarn. I'm worried now that these are too flimsy to be combined in a blanket with sturdier squares. Hmmm. Better think on this a bit. Maybe try a square in worsted weight and see how it compares?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yes I can!

Blanket Square No2 for the Warm Hands Network is halfway knit. It's a pretty little lace pattern from Marilyn Muller with a garter stitch edge. Says Raveler Knitacious "You know, knitting these squares really does improve your knitting - you have to figure out the tension, center your design, then knit and block!" She's right. These little squares are surprisingly enjoyable.

Finishing my Hey Teach cardigan is taking longer. Threading the needle through each of the bars between the ladders of knit stitches is finicky and time consuming - but patience is paying off in spades. A third of the way up and I'm stunned at the invisibility of the resulting seam. Imagine that! All my fears were for nought. 

  Enough yarn?  Yes
  Able to maintain the pattern on decreasing rows?  Yes.
  Can I finish the cardigan nicely?  Definitely, yes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

my new trick

Last night I put off finishing my Hey Teach cardigan until today. My excuses? Too tired. Fed up from work. Might be tricky and time consuming. Better to start fresh in the morning. All valid excuses, but really the delay may have been more to do with anticipatory anxiety. I wasn't confident I could do the seaming well - afraid I'd wreck the sweater and then be frustrated and disappointed.

This morning it was time to go for it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And as it so often goes, the hardest thing was getting started. With the cardigan pieces spread across the counter, and this tutorial on screen, I learned how to seam using mattress stitch. Looks knitted together, Gavin says. My best seam ever.

Monday, June 22, 2009

summer days

These first days of summer have been hot and humid. So humid that after two days the pieces of my Hey Teach cardigan still aren't dry. But they're nearly dry this morning, so tonight I'll finish it up. Starting with the shoulder seams, then the neckline ribbing and finally the button bands. Can't wait to finish!

While waiting, I've knit a blanket square. A fellow Raveler is
collecting 10x10" squares for baby blankets for the Warm Hands Network. My first square is based on Lorena's 2009 March Afghan Square. A blanket is quite an undertaking, but a 10x10" square doesn't take much time at all. A fun little project!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

90 minute sleeves

Sleeves are the darnedest things! I'm never sure if the shaping will be easy or complicated. And usually they take way longer than I think they will. At times there's almost as much knitting in a single sleeve as the entire back of a sweater. But not these sleeves. From cast on to bind off in an hour and a half. Not much to them really.

With the sleeves done, there's just finishing to do. Weave in the ends, block the pieces, seam and add neckline ribbon and button bands. And maybe a finished sweater by Monday!

Friday, June 19, 2009

stockinette at the button bands

As you can see, the right front is almost done. A few more rows to the neckline, then up to the top of the shoulder. Working both sides of the bodice I've been perplexed that the first six stitches at the button band edges are stockinette instead of lace. Seven stitches of lace are bound off at the armhole, but these six stockinette stitches continue to the neckline. Seems counter-intuitive to me. But I've checked and rechecked, even highlighted sections of the pattern - there's no mistake. Maybe it'll help reinforce the button band edges? To prevent pulling or gapping between the buttons when stretched across the bust? We'll see when it's done - hopefully by the beginning of next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

no time to knit

Knit me! Knit me! I hear the yarn calling, but all sorts of things have been getting in the way. Work has been crazy busy with a couple of coworkers on summer holidays. Then there's the end of school year rush to produce yearbooks - that makes things hectic. And I signed up for a "Design Donors" group on Ravelry - where designers volunteer to create group banners and badges for other knitters upon request. Oh, and Gavin's been busy too - painting, repairing subfloor and sourcing hardwood for my sister to match the existing hardwood in her hallway. So there hasn't been much knitting going on. Things are settling down though. Maybe tonight I can get reacquainted with my needles and yarn!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

taking flight

Knitting update? I've cast on the right front for my Hey Teach cardigan, worked the ribbing and about a third of the stockinette. And I've cast on my second Red Rocket sock and worked the ribbing. Some progress, but nothing too exciting. Mostly I've been waiting to see these Peregrine chicks fledge. One took her first flight yesterday. Maybe the others will try out their wings today?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday update

Hey Teach is proceeding nicely - the back and the left front are done. Tonight I'll cast on the right front. Which leaves the sleeves, the neckline ribbing and the button bands to do.

Remember my three worries? Will I have enough yarn? From the five skeins purchased for this project, I have 2-1/3rds left, so fingers crossed, I think I have enough. Will the shaping be difficult? With careful attention to stitch counts on every RS row, the decreases in the lace pattern at the armhole and neckline are correct. How do I seam and finish the sweater? Anxiety about finishing was starting to creep in, so I had a look around. And found this article from Knitting Daily with the answers I need.

Hours of Saturday and Sunday were spent sewing instead of knitting. A needle organizer is what I have in mind, because I have so many and they are heaped and piled and completely a mess. Finding four or five dpns of any given size has become a very tiresome task. Organization is definitely needed. And I suspect I will find that there are more than one set of needles in a couple of popular sizes.

The denim is recycled from old blue jeans that I've been saving for just this kind of a project. And the size labels were printed inkjet on transfer material, and ironed on to some light coloured quilting cotton. When it's finished it will hang over a coat hanger in my yarn closet. It's not perfect - if I do it again, I'll make the needle pockets wider - but it's going to be way better than the mess I have on my hands now!

Friday, June 12, 2009

one down ...

... and one to go. The first of my Red Rocket socks is done. As you can see in the picture, the yarn pooled on the bottom of the foot in a couple of places. But as it's the bottom, it seemed silly to worry about it. Only a very little of it carries over onto the top of the foot. 

The finished sock looks about the right size for the friend for whom it's intended - Ladies size 6 narrow. Way too small for me, but (hopefully) perfect for her. Now to cast on the second sock before I start anything else!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

counting stitches to stay on track

At first glance, the lace pattern doesn't seem complicated. But my goodness, it takes a lot of attention to keep the right number of stitches through the armhole shaping. There's been lots of tinking and reknitting already. What I've done so far is probably not entirely correct, but I'm halfway up the shoulders, I have the right number of stitches, and I can't see any obvious errors - so onward! Nothing for it but to count all the stitches after working each RS row. Being vigilant, to catch mistakes right away and stay on track.

The yarn - Cloud Cotton by Estelle - is nice. For a cotton it is surprisingly soft and easy on the hands. I'm trying really, really hard to convince myself I like it. And can't quite put my finger on why I don't. Maybe just because it's cotton? Mostly I muse about other yarns that I could knit a sweater like this from.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

room for one more?

Is there? Room for one more on the Hey, Teach bandwagon? Already 1171 Ravelers have knit this cardigan. And I've fallen under it's spell. Hey, Teach was in my queue, when I saw and touched Cloud Cotton in Tea Rose pink at The Naked Sheep on Saturday. But there are three worries. First, I bought the recommended yardage of yarn, then added a couple inches to the body. Will I have enough yarn? Second, a number of Ravelers have warned that the decreases are tricky when working the lace pattern. Uh oh! And finally, finishing. The lace pattern of the bodice won't hide much, so I'm going to have to be really careful.

My mitts are done, washed and blocked. They've been a very successful project and I'm really pleased with them. I just wish I felt inspired to cast on more mitts - the deadline for the September shipment for the Warm Hands Network is coming up fast. And I had hoped to have a lot more done by now!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

TTC Knit-Along

Just before 10am Gavin dropped me off to begin the TTC Knit-Along. Each participant contributed $10 with the proceeds to Sistering, and each was given an identifying pin and bright red tote bag. Glenna and Joyce, our team leaders, welcomed the 15 members of our group and outlined the schedule. Lots of time to travel, chat, knit and shop. With treats, prizes and discounts through the day culminating in a meet up of all 4 teams in downtown Toronto.

With Team East A, I began my day at The Naked Sheep. Where the yarn selection includes Malabrigo, Mirasol, Tanis Fiber Arts, Fleece Artist and Rowan. We looked around and shopped while tempted by an amazing spread of cookies, coffee cake, fresh fruit, coffee and tea. We popped balloons with knitting needles or crochet hooks to find prizes. For me? A Naked Sheep starter kit including a pen, button, measuring tape, beaded stitch marker and Naked Knitter loyalty program card.

Next, onto the Queen Streetcar to The Purple Purl. Where the yarns includes Noro, Malabrigo, Indigo Moon, Debbie Bliss, Mission Falls and Louet. Each knitter was welcomed with a tote bag, calendar, sachet of Soak, coupon and a skein of Baby Alpaca! Then Lettuce Knit to ooh and aah over the Koigu, Lorna's Laces, Dream in Color, Socks that Rock, Blue Sky Alpaca, to name a few. After lunch in Kensington Market, we went on to Americo to luxuriate amongst the skeins of handspun silk, alpaca and llama. Last stop? Romni Wool: two levels of floor to ceiling yarn of every description. Complete fiber overload! A couple of beers and then home on the GO Train. What a great day! Thanks to the organizers and the LYS owners for all their efforts. And a special thanks to whoever arranged the perfect weather!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Red Rockets

Wondering why I've said so little about my Red Rocket socks? After more than 40 rows of the 57 round chart for the foot, I found a major mistake in round 23... sigh. For the last several days I've painstakingly tinked back and then reknit. And finally, things are back on track ... phew!

On May 20th I mentioned an error in the set up round for the gusset. This morning I found the errata, thanks to a comment from a fellow Raveler on her project page. Part of me is relieved that the pattern was in error, but mostly, I'm sorry for Cookie A. Unless this is the usual situation when 15 complicated new patterns are published? Could be. A tremendous amount of test knitting must have gone into preparing the book for press. Note to self: check for errata!

Now, I must gulp my coffee and run off to shower. Because today is the TTC Knit-Along. A baby hat is on needles, ready for stitching on the Queen Street Red Rocket streetcar - the inspiration for my socks. Can't wait!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Go Pens Go

When Jordan Staal scored shorthanded in the second period putting the Penguins ahead in the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I nearly dropped a stitch. And when Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy added two more goals minutes later, it became really hard to concentrate. Go Pens Go!

I hoped to finish the second mitt, but as you can see, I'm about 2/3rds done. Why the rush to finish a pair of mitts in June? Because I need the needles for another project. Tomorrow I'm taking part in a TTC Knit-Along - an all day knitting, yarn shopping, public transit taking extravaganza. Something simple and portable on the needles, like a baby hat, seems best. No hockey until Saturday so I'll get it done tonight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

the first mitt

That's the first mitt. The colourwork's very nice - nicer than the photo shows. And it fits perfectly. The thumb is comfortably snug. The cuff, long enough to tuck into a coat sleeve. And the main part of the hand is just roomy enough for wiggling fingers, making a fist or grabbing things.

The pattern is rated by as "tangy", something along the lines of "advanced beginner". I suppose that's fair - an allover stranded design raises it above the "easy beginner" level. But it's really not hard. Although, I was disconcerted to read this:

While working decreases to shape top of mitten, it will not be possible to maintain color pattern exactly. Try to maintain the vertical bands of color as much as possible.

I'm so much more comfortable when I'm told exactly what to do. Not sure I'll make the best choices when things are left to my judgement. And even less confident that I'll be able to faithfully reproduce those choices on the second mitt. I know, I know, I should keep notes as I go. But that's not how I knit - too much like work. We'll see. Maybe the second mitt will go smoothly, and my worries will be unfounded. The first mitt certainly turned out well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


While watching Rocknrolla on DVD, I was able to cast on my first mitt, working the cuff, the thumb gusset and starting the main portion of the hand. The movie runs true to the usual Guy Ritchie formula - a bunch of goofy criminals way over their heads and a complete mess in the end. Although, I kept thinking the character One Two should have been Jason Statham. Still, an entertaining movie if you liked Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Back to the knitting, it's the checkerboard pattern on the thumb that really rocks. Especially against the rest of the patterned mitt. The finished mitt'll be quite large - at least a men's medium, the size intended by the pattern. After I've knit a first pair from the pattern as written, I might modify it to make smaller sizes. So far I'm loving the pattern and the wool. I suppose I could felt the finished mitts, but it'd be a shame to soften the colourwork.

My Cielo blanket is blocked and dry now. And I'm really happy with it. The colours are spectacular, and with blocking, the pattern has really opened up. I skipped the edging called for by the pattern, but, if I did it again, I'd add a couple of plain knit panels on either side of the blanket. As it is now I have columns of yarnovers which don't leave nice edges. Not awful, but not great. I do have three more skeins of Noro Iro in my stash - so there's another Noro baby blanket in my future.

Monday, June 1, 2009

stranded mitttens

The blanket is blocking. After binding off last night, I washed it in Eucalan and laid it out to dry. This morning it still quite damp - looks like another several hours drying time needed. Can't wait to show it to you!

Next? These mitts have been in my Ravelry favourites for a while. In New Brunswick last November with Mom, I picked up some Grape coloured Regal yarn and heathered lilac yarn from the odds and ends bin at the Briggs & Little outlet store. Just loved the colours, didn't have a project in mind. Until I saw this pattern. Stranded mitts are likely to be twice as warm - perfect for the Warm Hands Network. And more challenging than a plain pair of mitts. Still, it feels odd to cast on mittens just as summer arrives.