Sunday, October 31, 2010

BO strike one

After completing JSSBO on my first sock, I examined the ribbing with dismay. That's not exactly what I had in mind. Although the ribbing flows continuously from the pattern on the leg, the top of the sock looks ... well ... frilly. That's just not going to fly. Time to rethink the cuff! Maybe use the stretchy bind off every other stitch?

As I write this the sun's just coming up. With sunrise today at 7:52am and sunset expected at 6:10pm, we'll have only 10 hrs 17 mins of daylight - 2 mins 40 secs less than yesterday. I'll have to wait for better light before picking out the bound off edge. I don't like these short days of November and December; days when it's dark when I get up and dark when I finish work. What's next? Snow?

Friday, October 29, 2010

a recipe for toe-ups

A few days ago I found myself in a muddle about these socks. To make most efficient use of the yarn I decided to alter the pattern to knit them toe up. Easy enough with a simple pattern like this. As well, I decided on the larger size with 72 stitches, albeit on a smaller needle size since so many Ravelers reported that their socks came out too large.

But since I've never knit a toe up sock on 72 stitches I don't have a formula for the heel. Never mind, I thought, when it comes to it I'll figure something out. When I completed my gusset increases I started looking around for help with the heel and came across this Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up socks recipe. It's not the heel I had in mind - I was planning a short-row heel turn instead of a heel extension - but it works fine and isn't it great to have a formula to make any sock pattern toe up?!

Now that the heel's done, this first sock should be done in the next day or two. I am planning to switch to one size larger needles to give the leg above the ankle a bit more ease. And I'm debating about the cuff. Do I really need to switch K2P2 rib? If I knit it as K6P2 rib it'll continue the flow of the pattern, but will that be stretchy enough to keep the sock up?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Save Tigers Now

My 10 year old nephew called me the other day to discuss the situation with the Tigers. He carefully explained the facts and how they are critically endangered, and then begged me to help. "Please Aunt Lynn, you have to do something!"

How can I help? As a Christmas present for each niece and nephew I'm donating to Save Tigers Now through the World Wildlife Fund. I'll divide up the free gift - - and combine them with books about Tigers and plush toys. As well as donating much needed funds, I'm helping by educating them and spreading the word. So if you're stuck for gift ideas this Christmas, it's something to consider. And if I can manage it, I might also knit them each a Tiger Stamped Hat. Or do you think the hat is too juvenile for the 8-10 year olds?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

working the border

For the next couple days this blanket'll be impossible to pose for a nice picture. The centre of the blanket is bunched up with the edge stitches on circs. You'll just have to take my word for it - this border is gorgeous. This pattern, Tweed Baby Blanket, is beautifully written and charted. I've already had a look; I've got enough suitable worsted weight yarn on hand to knit the entire blanket, and not just the border.

The jury's still out about my border yarn choice. The colour is right but it's lacking the intensity of the main colourway. It looks a bit dull in contrast, but maybe that's okay for a border? I just can't decide, so I'm taking Suse-the-slow-knitta's advice to keep calm and carry on. Once it's done, I can lay it out flat and have a good critical look.

Reading ahead, the border is finished with an iCord edge. That'll be a new technique for me. I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


By picking up one stitch for each stitch on the cast off edges of the centre blocks, I came up with 132 stitches on each of the 4 blanket sides. Referring to the lace chart for the border of Jared Flood's Tweed Baby Blanket I increased another 14 stitches on each side to end up with 8 repeats of the chart plus a stitch on each end of each side. So I'm away to the races. Er, at least, I was.

This morning I took a fresh look at the lace chart. Oh, I see; it's purl rows that create the ridges that characterize this border, and I've just skipped right past the first purl row. Drat! What this means is that the hours before work are allocated to tinking out the almost six hundred stitches of the last round. My mantra for today? If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!

Monday, October 25, 2010

success, sort of

Our trip to the Creativ Festival was very successful.

i) I did get some yarn for the border of my blanket. I couldn't find exactly the right shade in worsted weight so I'm holding this fingering weight yarn double for the border. The colourway is called "Green Apple" from Indigo Moon, and it's spot on to some of the lighter shades in the variegated yarn making up the centre area of the blanket. Perfect - I've already cast on the border.

ii) I did not find any green sock yarn. Well, there was actually lots of green sock yarn but none that screamed "Buy me". Not to worry, I've been planning to order this yarn, but thought I should look at the Creativ Festival first in case I could save myself the shipping costs. Plan B it is; the Loopy Ewe order has been placed.

iii) There were two more purchases that fall into the category of "unbelievable" and "too good to be true". First, some handmade wood buttons for my Tea Leaves cardigan. These buttons actually did scream "Buy Me" so what choice did I have? And secondly a pattern from DJ Richards Design for a quilted centrepiece. Debbie was demonstrating how easy and how forgiving her design was - we were hooked, Shirley and me both. I've made several quilts and have lots of scraps in my stash, but another full size quilt is a larger project than I've wanted to take on. This little centrepiece looks like just the ticket for sewing up those scraps. So, in a way, buying this pattern was an act of stash busting, right?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a bad idea, maybe

Tomorrow Shirley and I are going to the Creativ Festival. I know what you're thinking: isn't that a bad idea for someone supposedly on a yarn diet? We'll see. If I overspend or come home with bags of impulsive purchases, then yes, a bad idea.

But I have a plan. There are only three things I'll consider buying:

i) Worsted weight yarn in colours that compliment the Aegean colourway of these blanket squares so that I can knit a border.

ii) Vibrant green sock yarn to suit two names on my Christmas knitting list.

iii) any unbelievable deal that is just too good to be true.

Item number three certainly leaves me some leeway, doesn't it? I just have to be strong and determined to stick to my plan. I think I can, I think I can...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

back to sock knitting

Hurray! Back to socks!

This morning I cast on for some Simple Skyp socks which I'm adapting to knit toe-up. Just a few days ago I finished Embossed Leaves socks in this same Tea Time colourway of Alley Cat sock yarn for my sister-in-law. Now I'm knitting socks for my brother from the same colourway. Adorable, huh? Matching socks for the happy couple!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been admiring this pattern as knit up by Dee and by Frieda. So much so, that I wanted to make a pair myself. It helps that the pattern is suitably masculine for one of the guys on my Christmas list. And easy enough to adapt for knitting toe up; because I'd like the leg as long as possible without running short of yarn.

I'm loving it so far. In fact, there may be a few more guys on my list who get socks from this pattern. Now, back to it!

the second cap

I finished the second cap this morning, stuck it on Gavin's head and snapped a photo before he rushed off to help a friend paint. The truth is that the ends are still to be sewn in, so that's what I'll be doing after publishing this post.

The smaller cap is a better size, I think. If I do it the cap again in sport weight yarn- and I think I might - then I'll go with this smaller size. I like this pattern for it's simplicity; it strikes me as the sort of thing a guy might actually wear, although more likely when knitted in grey, brown, black or navy. The decreases are cleverly designed to maintain the integrity of the 1x1 rib - the crown looks quite neat and tidy when completed.

Now, I'm off to get the ends woven in so that both caps can be posted this morning. Bethany's tentative deadline for her "Stitches for the Cure" project is November 1st ... there's no time to waste. And, with caps in the mail, I can start something new. Like another pair of socks for Christmas list!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the first chemo cap

When my coworker agreed to model the first hat he decided to fold up the brim. That's okay - I think it can be worn either way. The hat sizing is on the large side, but not outrageously so. On my head I can pull it down to cover my eyebrows and the back of my nape. And, he admits, he has a small head.

Overall, I'd say it's a successful project. Successful enough that I plan to knit a second hat very much like the first. Several Ravelers had made suggestions in their project notes to improve the crown shaping by accelerating the decreases which I followed. The resulting shape is very good so I'll take those suggestions again. For a slightly smaller hat I'll cast on 138 sts instead of 150 and start the crown shaping at 5-1/2" from the cast on edge instead of 6".

Now we'll just have to see what Gavin thinks of it. When I cast on this hat, he enquired about a beanie for himself. Given that he lives in t-shirts and flip-flops, there's no point in knitting socks or sweaters for him So this is a rare opportunity to knit something he might actually wear!

Monday, October 18, 2010

the softest cap

Was it last year, or the year before? When I knit some Mr. Pitt socks from dark brown stretch bamboo from Dye-Version? Two years ago, I think. Anyhow, as I knit those socks a coworker commented on the yarn. He was impressed by how soft it is, and thought it'd make a really comfortable watch cap for his bald head.

A few days ago, when I came across a Ravelry post from Bethany Mejean - a high school student calling for hand knit chemo caps for Halos for Hope - I was reminded of his comment. This bamboo yarn might make a really comfy chemo cap! I have three skeins in Candy Apple red, purchased with the intention of making a shawl for my sister. For whatever reason, I haven't felt like making that shawl. Perhaps because I'm not convinced it's something she wants or would wear. So one or more chemo caps it will be.

After rummaging through Ravelry's pattern database I've settled on a pattern from Marnie Maclean - The Pismo Hat. It's simple, seamless, designed for lightweight yarn, and with all that ribbing it should fit snugly - all good things for a wearer with little or no hair and possibly a sensitive scalp. One thing though, the yarn I'm using is sport weight not fingering; quite possibly the hat will work up too big. So far my measurements say I'll be okay with a few inches of negative ease, but it's hard to say for sure. I might end up ripping out and reknitting in a day or two, but until I've seen it done and on a head, I can't judge the adjustments required.

One thing is for sure; it's going be the softest cap ever.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Embossed Leaves

And that's sock number two! Now that they're finished and on my feet, I like the pattern even better. These socks fit beautifully and are really, really comfortable! The pattern is clearer when the sock is stretched on my feet, so I think the yarn choice has worked out fine as well. I'd been a bit worried about that! Still, I'm considering knitting the pattern once more in a quieter colourway just to see how that turns out.

More good news? That's another completed Christmas knitting project. Despite being distracted by blankets, among other things, my Christmas knitting list has not been completely ignored. Of the nine pairs of socks planned, four pairs are done. So I'm not feeling too desperate. Yet.

Friday, October 15, 2010


In the early hours of the morning in my quiet kitchen I sat down with the squares arranged in front of me to make a start on assembling this blanket. Because the squares are knit from the centre out, each side has an identical number of stitches and each side is a bound off edge. You don't see that too often in knitting! So it makes sense to me to mattress stitch all these seams the same way you'd mattress stitch the shoulder of a seamed garment. It's working out beautifully - the knitting almost looks seamless from one square to the next.

One thing though, it takes a large clear area of counter and lots of patience. Through the first few seams I reflected that it really wasn't too bad of a job - quite pleasant even, almost meditative. But after about a half dozen more seams, I got bored and cranky. Figured I'd better put it aside for another day and renewed patience. After all, there's no deadline for this blanket, and I really want it to do my best to make it perfect!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

new sock yarn

The schedule did go a bit off the rails last night. The remainder of the fifteenth square was knit through Modern Family. By the end of Cougartown I was still knitting the sixteenth square and no ends had been woven in whatsoever. But this morning I buckled down to catch up. Now the squares are washed, blocked and drying on pins, stuck to towel wrapped foam squares in the hallway. Maybe tomorrow I can get started on assembling them?

On the weekend Nancy and I had a chance to visit Rose's Fine Yarns of Niagara in Fonthill. It's a lovely little shop - room after room of gorgeous yarn. The sock yarn was what drew me in and after sighing over piles of Araucania, Malabrigo, Noro and Cherry Tree Hill yarn, my eye was caught by these skeins of Soxy from Diamond Yarn. It's a new product; I'd never seen it before. It feels soft, the colourways are multitonal, and the price just cannot be beat. Worth a try, I think.

Cranberry red is a colourway I just can't resist. And the soft grey colourway looks perfect for a pair of men's socks. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be de-stashing this year. But not to worry - these few skeins should be knit up as part of this year's Christmas knitting. Speaking of which, I better buckle down to catch up on that!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

this week's blanket

Last week was all about crocheting daisies, so it's only fair that this week features knitting these beautiful squares. Fourteen squares are done, the fifteenth is about halfway and the final sixteenth square should be completed tonight. And, unless my evening schedule goes horribly off the rails, there should still be enough time to sew in all the ends and block them.

Mattress stitching them together might have to wait for the weekend though. That feels like a task best tackled by a well rested, calm, fully alert morning person. As I've learned through hard experience, how nicely the seaming is done directly impacts my happiness with the finished project. So I'm definitely going to take my time to do it right ... no matter how eager I am to see the finished blanket!

Monday, October 11, 2010

about sock one

With all the driving back and forth, here and there, I've had plenty of opportunity to work on my Embossed Leaves socks. This afternoon I completed the first one. The toe is interesting - it spirals inward. Most people whose notes I read said that they knit the socks as written and were glad they did, so I went with that. Now that it's done, I don't think I like the toe. There's a line of decreases tracking under my toes that bugs me. But these socks are Christmas knitting, so it doesn't matter what I think. Hopefully the intended recipient agrees with everyone else and isn't bugged by the toe. Or, failing that, hopefully she's too polite to tell me otherwise.

This pattern is unbelievably quick and easy. Very intuitive too - not much need to consult the chart after working it a couple of times. The resulting fabric is very stretchy and scrunchy, not unlike Monkey socks. As a result they should fit very comfortably. One thing though, if you're considering this pattern, you may want to avoid very busy yarn. The yarn I'm using is more of a tonal yarn than really variegated, but the visibility of the pattern still suffers for it.

Now, on to sock two! Just about 10-1/2 weeks until Christmas and so much more to knit!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

the Daisy blanket finished

The finished blanket is made up of 20 Daisy squares. I made 12 squares, but two of those were sent to the pattern designer in payment for using her pattern. Nancy made 12 squares, but two of those were her "practice" squares which weren't to be included in the blanket. After arranging my remaining ten squares and her remaining ten squares for the blanket, we couldn't tell whose was which. It all worked out perfectly. Another point of interest? Even though we were both working with the same eight colours of yarn not one of our squares was the same. Defies the odds, doesn't it?

We bordered each square in black with double crochet then assembled them with single crochet seams. Once the whole thing was together we added a double crochet edging all around. And then we stood back to admire our handiwork. A neighbour popped his head in to say hello, and remarked that we should've entered it at the Simcoe Fall Fair. I don't know about that, but we're really happy with the final result. It's very bright and cheery. Poor Nancy, though. I left it to her to break the bad news to her puppy - he seems to think we made it for him!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Daisy Day

Tomorrow, that is. Daisy Day! The day when Nancy and I get together and assemble all our daisy blocks into one big blanket. Making these blocks was quick and fun, but that's enough of that for now. Can't wait to see them combined with Nancy's squares!

This weekend is also our Thanksgiving here in Canada. Because we're further north our risk of frost comes sooner, so our harvest is earlier and as a result we celebrate our Thanksgiving several weeks before our neighbours to the south. We're spending the first half of the weekend at Lake Erie, then heading back to town for traditional sit down dinner with my sister and her family on Sunday evening. And yippee, no plans for Monday!

We've got lots to be thankful for including some beautiful weather for the long weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

three days

Three days of Benylin and Neo-Citran.
Three days of hot fluids and early to bed.
Three days of orange juice and taking it easy.

And what have I got to show for it? Nothing. My throat is still sore and my head still pounds. I'm no better and no worse. I even tried the bad host cure using rum to attack the virus, but no luck, although I did get a good night's sleep that night! I'm betting the virus will hang on through the holiday weekend and then suddenly clear up in time for work Tuesday morning.

In the meantime I've made a good start on my first Embossed Leaves sock. The designer, Mona Schmidt, recommends a two strand tubular cast on. I looked at her tutorials and I'm intrigued but trying to figure out a new technique made my head pound. And not getting the hang of it effortlessly and immediately triggered a whole mess of impatient feelings. So I cast on loosely on a larger needle and went with that. Maybe next week will be the right time to try new things?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


It's cold, damp and drizzling. "What a miserable day" Gavin remarked as he peered out into the back garden. Unfortunately the miserable weather reflects how I feel. Headache, itchy eyes, sore throat, congestion and lethargy - just miserable.

Accompanying those symptoms is bad temper and impatience. The herringbone rib socks have been ripped out, the yarn and pattern put away for another day. The pattern, which involves a lot of slipping stitches, passing stitches back and forth, and, passing stitches over each other, is just far too painful on tiny needles. And at the small size the pattern almost disappears. Not worth the trouble, especially in my current mood. Maybe I'll try again in a few weeks. It might work on the usual size needles if I omit three stitches within each pattern repeat to bring the stitch count down to something likely to fit.

But for now I'm fed up so I'm switching gears entirely. Next! Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt. It's one of the most popular designs on Ravelry which makes it feel like a safe bet. And it looks like a good pattern for the Alley Cat sock yarn in a Tea Time colourway. Not to mention that I can knit these on my favourite Lantern Moon Sox Stix. It sounds like a recipe for success, right?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

blanket update

My plan this morning was to wash and block a half dozen squares and then to experiment with assembly methods. I'm leaning towards the kind of mattress stitch seam you'd do for a horizontal seam like the shoulder of a sweater. But I'm also considering a whip stitch seam and seaming them together with crochet. So my thinking was to try putting a couple of blocks together each way to see what looks best and what lies flattest.

But after washing and blocking I stepped back and for the first time I clearly saw how much colour variation there was between the skeins of this yarn. The second skein is noticeably bluer, at least so far. I'm not unhappy about it - don't get me wrong - I'd complain if there wasn't much colour variation. But with this much variation I suppose I'd better finish all the squares before considering assembly. I'll want to be able to distribute the bluer blocks amidst the yellower ones to achieve some kind of balance.

One thing's for sure; this blanket is going to be lovely when it's finished. The pattern is just so pretty! I'm quite excited to get it done. Gavin says not to hurry. He likes these blocks and says that I can leave them lying around however long I want. That's pretty high praise, indeed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

freshly baked bread

Ahh, a quiet Saturday morning, with no plans except the usual cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. How nice is that?

With the furnace firmly off and outside temps hovering in the single digits when I got up baking a loaf of bread seemed like a great idea. We're experimenting with this book, Baking Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Our first few loafs were good, but slightly gummy on the inside. Maybe a bit more flour? Today's loaf looks about right but it has to cool before I slice it. Meanwhile the whole house smells great!

Through the resting of the dough, the baking and the cooling we've cleaned the fridge, done some laundry and I've been working on my daisy squares. The designer has offered the pattern for free, but asks that if you use the pattern you make a square or two to send to her. She assembles all the blocks she is sent into blankets for charity. For her squares she has requested either of two colour schemes: pastels on white, or, brights on black. So a black background it is. I have to admit, I'm enjoying crocheting these squares way more than I thought I would.

Question for all you crocheters - do you also have to fight the urge to say "wheeee" as you work half double crochet stitches?