Saturday, October 29, 2011

once upon a time ...

Scoop: looking sweater-ish

From wikipedia: The "rule of three" is a principle of writing which  suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. A series of three is often used to create a progression in which the tension is created, then built up, and finally released. I just hope the principle applies here.

The first red swatch was too big. I had chosen a larger size to make up for my smaller needles and lighter weight yarn, but after knitting the yoke and trying it on, I decided to rip and reknit two sizes smaller.

The second red swatch was too long. Because I'm tall I lengthened the yoke, but when I took the recommended number of raglan increases and redistributed them across a deeper yoke, the raglans looked oddly distorted. Once more I decided to rip and reknit with raglan increases every second round as written, letting the final stitch count fall where it may.

Fingers crossed that this third attempt will be just right. I've tried it on. It looks pretty good. Finally. With luck I'll have a new finished sweater by Friday of next week. I really, really hope so!

Monday, October 24, 2011



This morning just as the subway train pulled into Kipling station and just as I finished the last round of the leg, I had a series of revelations:

 ... this yarn is so soft that it'd be best knit on the smallest possible needles for the tightest possible fabric for the best possible durability,

 ... and, when I said yesterday that I was okay with these socks knitting up too small for me, that I was prepared to give them away to someone with small feet on my Christmas list, I was kidding myself,

 ... and, given that this pattern features a narrow repeat it'd be really, really simple to add an eight stitch repeat to the front and back of the sock to bring the total stitch count to 72,

so I've ripped out and started again. You knew where that was headed, didn't you? I only wish I'd thought that through before I knit the six and half inch leg of the first sock. Oh well, consider it practice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Year of Projects - Denmark Post 01

mmm ... alpaca ...
Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna  Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 

With my Hiiumaa Mismatched Mates finished and blogged on Friday it was time to cast on another pair of socks. Denmark was the next pattern in the book - one of two patterns I'd skipped over to get to Hiiumaa - but I was hesitating. The pattern calls for sport weight yarn and 3.25mm needles. All my sock yarn is fingering weight and usually I knit my socks on 2mm or even 2.5mm needles.

In the end I decided to pick the thickest and loftiest of the sock yarns in my stash: this gorgeous, soft Alpaca Sox from Classic Elite Yarns. And I'm going ahead with 2.5mm needles, because, after all, there are 56 stitches around the foot so the sock won't be that small. With luck, they may turn out perfectly size for someone on my Christmas list!
Hiuumaa Mismatched Mates

So far I'm very happy with how these are knitting up. The yarn is delicious, the colour is gorgeous and the pattern is very satisfyingly elegant. What a nice little cable - just one stitch moves to the centre from each side of making a wide and flat cable - and look, those are nupps at the top of those columns of cables! Neat, huh? Once again as I knit this pattern I'm struck by the careful attention to detail from the designer, Nancy Bush. The stitches are distributed across four needles so that each needle finishes and end with a purl stitch which should hide any laddering from the dpns. And the ribbing flows beautifully into the main leg pattern. Very nice indeed.

Now remind me, why was it that I hesitated to cast on this sock?

Friday, October 21, 2011

finished object Friday

the cat wants in the photo

Hurray, it's Friday and I've got a finished pair of socks. The pattern is Hiiumaa Mismatched Mates from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush. Gavin agreed to model them this morning but no matter where and how he stood, the cat absolutely insisted on circling his feet and being in the picture. Apparently she feels that I should feed her and give her a few treats before messing around with socks.

I'm pleased with these socks and not just because they fit Gavin beautifully. And not just because he likes them. And not just because he think I should make a pair of the stripier version for him. Knitted with Kroy sock yarn they're warm, sturdy, sensible socks. I really like that about them.

It's also been a great stash-busting project. The stripes are various leftover bits and bobs of Kroy self-patterning sock yarns. For my year of projects, I'm knitting all seventeen patterns from Knitting on the Road. This is the fifth finished pair and so far it's all been from the stash. No sign of running out of yarn anytime soon!

Have a look at the blogs from crafters who've linked up at Tami's Amis for Finished Object Friday. Lots more to see!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


rip-it, rip-it, rip-it

Last night I tried on the big red swatch and the news wasn't good. The front of the sweater was too big although the back and sleeves were okay, and the depth of the yoke was too short. But more than that, I didn't like the way it looked. Not at all. The scooped front looked saggy and sloppy and the neckline was uncomfortably wide. Feeling deflated I put it aside and went back to knitting my sock.

This morning I took out my sewing kit with the idea of pinching a dozen stitches out of the front and back to simulate the sweater two sizes smaller. Eureka! The neckline is much better and the front drapes without drooping. It really makes all the difference!

So tonight I'm casting on a second swatch. My plan is to knit the smaller size but add to the yoke to make it about an inch and half longer. If I can find a few quiet moments at work today, I'll sit down to calculate how many rows are involved and plan how to evenly redistribute the raglan increases. All in all, I'm feeling very positive about it again. And now, on my second attempt, I am going to follow the example of other Ravelers and work the increases as yarn overs rather than M1s. Hopefully I'll have something more sweater-ish to show for all of this next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

work-in-progress Wednesday

this red is truer to the actual red

For the last few days my knitting time has been devoted to a single project which I like to think of as a really big red swatch. If and when all the sizing questions are resolved it may actually develop into a Scoop pullover ... but there are still lots of ifs. Hopefully knitting a larger size will compensate for my lighter than recommended wool and smaller than recommended needles, but until I can actually try it on I don't think there's any way to be certain. I'm five rounds away from the dividing round now; the round where the sleeve stitches are set aside and the body is joined to knit in the round. Once that's done, it should be "try-on-able".

Just glancing at the work-in-progress, the sizing from side to side looks (maybe) okay, but I have the faintest qualm that the length is too short from collar to armpit. I'll thread a lifeline before working the dividing round - that way I can always go back and add one more welt to the yoke to make it longer. It wouldn't be surprising if the extra length were needed ... after all I am very tall.  

I had a look at the notes from other Ravelers to see if I could glean any helpful hints but that just added to my worries. Unbelievable how many knitters made one sweater, found it didn't fit and gave it away, then knit another! Uh oh. Sounds ominous doesn't it? Repeat after me: This is just a really big swatch. I'll knit until I can try it on and then I'll make some notes, rip it out and start again. No biggie.

I'll bet that lots of knitters and crocheters are actually accomplishing something more than swatching this week. Have a look at Tami's Amis to see them all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

a really big swatch

awful photo, really awful

To the casual observer it may look like I'm knitting this sweater. I wish that were so. In fact, since I am using a lighter weight yarn than the pattern calls for and using smaller needles than the pattern calls for, I've cast on the largest size and I'm telling myself that I'm knitting a really big swatch. It would be tremendous luck if it turns out to be a sweater that looks anything like this.

It's a very interesting design: the front welt on the sweater drapes and the sleeves and back are ribbed so that they stretch. Interesting, but it completely dumbfounds me as to what an appropriate finished size should be. I'm also thinking that this pattern needs negative ease to fit well. If it were a normal sweater I could knit a swatch, do the math and figure out how to proceed. But this particular design has me stumped. I guess we'll see by the weekend whether this will work or not. In the meantime my fingers and toes are firmly crossed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Year of Projects - Hiiumaa Post 01

and its mismatched mate

Knitting on the Road: Canada • Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby 

The first Hiiumaa sock was no sooner started than finished, thanks to hours of hockey and rugby game watching. Also, many thanks to everyone who encouraged me to skip ahead on last week's post! I feel a bit like I'm breaking my self-imposed rules but here's to me living dangerously. Goodness knows what may happen next!

Earlier in the week I finished up my Dalarna socks leaving my sock needles waiting for a decision (posted here). The lure of stash busting was just too much. Besides, the next pattern in the list is knit on 3.25mm needles, and I really need to have a think about what sock yarn might be suitable for that!

Also, as mentioned my Friday and Saturday posts, I'm giving away copies of the patterns for Serengeti Sun or Star Light in support of the designer who's struggling with some serious health issues right now. If you'd like to knit one or the other, please leave a comment before the end of the weekend indicating which pattern you'd prefer and your Ravelry user name. I'll gift either pattern through Ravelry to the first twenty people who express interest before the end of the weekend.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

twinkle twinkle

up above the world so bright

After my breakthrough with Garilynn's Serengeti Sun pattern yesterday, I decided this morning to give her Star Light pattern a try. Shown here using scrap baby yarn on 2.75mm needles, the little star knits up to 3.25" across - very cute.

Like the Serengeti Sun, this little star is knit in one piece starting with the centre and then picking up stitches along the edges to make the points. And like the Serengeti Sun, the points are worked with an iCord edge incorporated on the right edge of each point. Once you reach the top tip you turn and work an applied iCord edge down the left edge of the point. As a result you have beautiful seamless iCord edges all the way around which finishes it very nicely!

Although the Star Light pattern was released after the Serengeti Sun pattern in my opinion the instructions are more clear and detailed. The designer spells out that increases are to be worked by knitting in the stitch  below and the stitch above, not by knitting in the front and back of a stitch as I had concluded yesterday. And she spells out how to do the applied iCord edge which would have saved me a YouTube tutorial or two. I've put a couple of notes on my project page in Ravelry which may be helpful to anyone planning to knit it. Now I'm trying to decide whether to add google-y eyes or not.

If you think you'd like to knit one, or knit the Serengeti Sun dishcloth pattern from the same designer then please leave a comment before the end of the weekend indicating which pattern you'd prefer and your Ravelry user name. I'll gift either pattern through Ravelry to the first twenty people who express interest before the end of the weekend.

Friday, October 14, 2011

finished object Friday

a sunny spot

I'll be the first to admit that my first attempt at this Serengeti Sun dishcloth is a bit wonky. But it's done - finally, after months and months on the needles - and I love it! And on a rainy fall day, it's the perfect pick-me-up, isn't it?

Progress on this dishcloth came screeching to a halt when I couldn't understand the instructions for the first point. I tried and tried and tried again. And ripped and ripped and ripped again. I even contacted the designer, who tried to help even though she is dealing with serious health issues and vision problems after a head injury earlier this year. As the only Raveler on record as having attempted this pattern I had nowhere else to turn, so I posted my plea for help in the patterns forum on Ravlery.

And no sooner had I clicked "post" when I realized my problem: I had to work the increases by knitting in the front and back of the next stitch. By using a M1 increase I was screwing up the stitch counts. DOH!

I'm definitely going to knit another - I'm confident that it'll turn out less wonky on my second time through the pattern. There a bunch of things I've learned:

  • Work the increases by knitting in the front and back of the next stitch
  • Where the first two stitches of a row are slipped, slip them purlwise with the yarn in front. Enlarge the above image and examine the right sides of the points - the bumps are from before I clued in. 
  • When picking up stitches for the applied iCord, remember that the end stitches were K2togs - you only need to pick up one stitch not both. Picking up both is really, really hard; ask me how I know!
  • For your first time through it might be wise to knit the small size with just a single strand of the yarn. Knitting two strands of cotton can be painful, especially after ripping back a bunch of times.

How about it? Want to knit one? If not a Sun, then what about this Star from the same designer which looks to be of similar construction? I'll gift the pattern to the first twenty people who leave a comment before the end of the weekend expressing their interest on this post. In your comment please indicate which pattern you'd prefer and provide your Ravelry user name.

Don't forget to check out all the good work at Tami's Amis! Happy Friday and spread the sunshine!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Dalarna - lots of stockinette

Finished Dalarna socks! The knitting of them wasn't too exciting - blame the large swathes of stockinette - but the resulting socks are the comfiest ever, thanks in large part I'm sure to this oh so soft yarn. It certainly was a treat after my disappointments with that green yarn over the last couple of weeks. The yarn is mostly purple but there are light sky blues shot through - what a great colour combination!

comfiest ever yarn
I spent my knitting time yesterday working and ripping points for the Serengeti Sun dishcloth pattern. Lots of attempts, but no success. I've pm'd the designer on Ravelry in the hopes of some clarification. Failing that, anyone interested in trying out the pattern? I'd happily gift the pattern to you in exchange for sorting me out on this .... Pretty please?

Late last night I cast on my first Hiiumaa Mismatched Mates sock. After all the dishcloth and iCord frustration, I wanted something easy and satisfying. There's just so much to love about this pattern:
  • watching self-patterning yarns express themselves
  • working stripes in different colours
  • stash-busting Kroy sock leftovers
  • knocking off another item on my Year of Projects list
  • adding to my pile of knits for the Warm Hands Network
Looks like these socks will be done in no time at all. And that's okay, because even as I knit these I'm looking at my stash and planning the next pair.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday

let the sun shine in!

I started this Serengeti Sun dishcloth on January 16th and promptly got stuck when it came to working the points. It's the iCord edged points that attracted me to the pattern in the first place; I was curious to see how the construction would work. This poor project has been in time out for 9 months, but now it's time to bear down and get'er done.

Today I'm going to try, try and try again. No quitting! Maybe I'll see things more clearly now that I've been away from it for a while. Or maybe I can watch some iCord tutorials on YouTube to see what to do. And if all else fails, the designer is on Ravelry  - I'll pm her for clarification. One way or another, this dishcloth is happening today!

It's been a very productive last couple of weeks ... just three projects left on the needles right now and, with luck, just two by end of day. Just as well to get caught up; after all, I feel a sweater coming on. Take a few minutes and check out the other work in progress with Tami's Amis - there's some pretty spectacular work being done!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



Don't mind me; it's this d@mn end of summer cold that's got me sniffling and wheezing, achy and cranky. Congestion and coughing kept me up half the night and leaving me just plain miserable :(

Today I'm going to take it easy, drink plenty of hot fluids and finish this heel - nothing too challenging. Comfort knitting, really. And I'm especially grateful today that I forked over the extra cash for the 3-ply extra soft tissues last week at the grocery store. Turns out, that's money well spent. I just have to remember to thread through a lifeline before I start the Neo Citran. That stuff knocks me senseless! If I'm not careful there might be lots of tinking and ripping tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

the hockey sweater

Oh Canada!

Last night I finished my little hockey sweater and was pretty happy with how it turned out. The details have been simplified but there's no mistaking what it is. And it fits! Perfectly!

Too bad it looks goofy. Really, put it on a bottle of hot sauce or any other bottle and it looks ridiculous. The sweater makes the bottle look like a headless hockey player - not at all the effect I was after. It's too big for Barbie and too small for a teddy bear. I guess I'll put this aside until inspiration strikes.

That's the way the cookie crumbles though; not every idea pans out. So it's back to my regularly scheduled knitting. Well, after I get the vegetables chopped and ready for Thanksgiving supper tonight. Gavin is making lemon dill oven-roasted chicken breasts and I'm making brown sugar glazed carrots and baby potatoes to accompany them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Year of Projects - Dalarna Socks post 2

the leg of the second Dalarna sock
Knitting on the Road: Canada Canal du Midi • Conwy Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

After a late night at the pub watching the Springboks fumble and falter in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, I'm taking it easy this morning. Sock knitting doesn't get much easier than this Dalarna sock, especially now that the decorative cuff is done and the shaping rows are complete. From here to the heel it's just stockinette with a small clock pattern across three stitches on each side of the leg. Easy peasy.

decorative chain stitch
About now I usually start looking at my sock yarn stash with a view to selecting the yarn for the next pattern. My original thought was to knit all the patterns in the book in order, but now I'm reconsidering. After all, the patterns are simply ordered alphabetically - there's no compelling logic for following that order. I'm rationalizing of course, because I want to skip ahead to Hiiumaa - a mismatched pair of striped socks. I see that pattern as the perfect opportunity to stash bust by striping my variegated sock yarn scraps into a solid coloured sock. It also looks like a good pattern choice for socks for the January donation campaign for the Warm Hands Network. My nieces and nephews all seem to prefer mismatched pairs over traditionally matched socks.

It's another beautiful day in what's turning out to be a spectacular Thanksgiving weekend. With my sister's family expected for supper on the holiday Monday (tomorrow) my job today is to get the chores done. Happy Thanksgiving and happy crafting!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

some like it hot

I put that sh*t on everything

If a beer bottle can have a sweater, then why not a hot sauce bottle? This week I'm shopping for an extra large bottle of Frank's Red Hot - ideally about twice the size of the bottle shown. And as soon as I have that I can cast on a Team Canada hockey jersey adapting this pattern to fit. The actual logo looked too fussy and detailed to work in miniature so I opted to order an embroidered badge instead. It should work, right?

Hopefully it does work, because the plan is to make a second sweater - a South African rugby sweater - for a bottle of Jalapeno pepper sauce. His and hers, as it were.

But as I ponder this I can't help but wonder .... is it a hockey sweater? or a hockey jersey? There's a heated debate about just this dilemma. I'm leaning towards "sweater" myself.

Friday, October 7, 2011

finished object Friday

a prickly pair

Hurray! They're done! And done right on time for a finished object Friday! The second Conwy sock is finished, ends woven in and none too soon. Not a fun knit at all thanks to an overspun yarn with way too much twist and a prickly pair of socks as a result :(

It's a shame because the colourway is so nice; puts me in mind of a certain Rugby team set to play a neighbouring rival team on the weekend. Here in Canada the game starts at 1am thanks to the time difference ... so should we put on a pot of strong coffee to stay up to watch it? Or should we nap a few hours before, set the alarm and wake for the few hours to watch it? Why was this kind of thing so much easier when we were teenagers?

If you have a few minutes they'd be well spent looking at the variety of finished object posts from Tami's Amis and celebrate with them. After all, the Australian bloggers might not feel like celebrating after the game this weekend. Go Springboks!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conwy progress

to the gusset and beyond!

The bright sunshine fooled me this morning; it's a chilly 7° C out there! Definitely fall and definitely sock weather! With the heel turn complete and the gusset decreases well underway, this second Conwy sock is headed towards the final stretch. With a quiet day at work I may be able to finish this today or tomorrow. And won't that be a relief?!

I'm still quite distressed about this yarn. My Mom - and probably every other Mom - used to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Good words of advice when posting to online forums. But after much debate I decided to ignore that tried and true advice; I went ahead with a negative comment in the yarn database in Ravelry. After my experience I feel obliged post a warning. The colourways are lovely and perhaps it's a good choice for lace projects, but I wish someone had warned me against choosing it for socks. Oh well, lesson learned.

Once these socks are off the needles I can cast on my second Dalarna sock in this yarn; now that's a pleasure to knit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

a few more

it's beginning to look
a lot like Christmas ...

With my countdown timer in the sidebar it's impossible to ignore how quickly Christmas will be upon us ... particularly if you're planning a handmade Christmas. And with that in mind I decided to get a move on with more Christmas bags.

The first few were done in an inky blue, largely because that's one of my favourite colours, but now it's time to make some up in more traditional Christmas colours, starting with green. This first green bag features a very simple snowflake motif with a peerie bordering pattern on either side. Today? A Norwegian Star pattern. It's a bit more involved but it's worth it for the dramatic effect.

For a while I considered knitting these bags for sale at craft shows, but at my current pace I can't see getting enough versions, sizes and colours done in time. At this rate, I might be able to get this together in time for Christmas next year! No worries though, it's ideal transit knitting - simple patterns in stockinette knitted in the round. And that suits me just fine.

Monday, October 3, 2011

felted mittens

before felting ...

After running them three times through the hot water/heavily soiled cycle of my top loading machine, the mitts have felted to about 80% of the size at which I originally knit them. Does that sound right? I thought they'd get much smaller than that. After washing and felting I laid them flat to dry. Should I have thrown them in the dryer?

The finished felted mitts fit me - I have extra large hands with really long fingers - but I can't imagine that they'd fit anyone else. And to be honest, even for me the thumbs could have been a half inch shorter. I'm also a bit undecided about the mitten tops; they could be a little less pointy, I think.

 ... and after
Now that they're done I can't help but wonder what the point was of ribbed cuffs. The stretchy effect of the ribbing is completely lost after felting. But don't get the wrong idea ... I really like these mitts. They're incredibly warm - the perfect accessory when waiting on the train platform at -15° in February! And I love the way felting has blurred and softened the colour transitions.

With this little project I've accomplished a few things:
  • I've learned something new - felting
  • I've done some stash-busting
  • I've finished one more thing in my queue
Now, back to socks!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Come Blog Along Pattern 03 Post 03

too much twist!

Knitting on the Road: Canada Canal du Midi • Conwy • Dalarna • Denmark • Friday Harbor • Hiiumaa • Huron Mountain • New England • The Road to Oslo • Santa Fe • Spey Valley • Christmas in Tallinn • Traveler's Stockings • Uinta Cabin • Unst • Whitby

Even after reskeining and washing this yarn has too much twist. At least once every round I have to stop to untangle; it's not doing a thing for my tension! Look at the photo, then try to imagine knitting with a working yarn that's all twisted up on itself like that! It's a shame because it's making the knitting of these socks unpleasant indeed. Grrrrrr.

That's the bad news. The good news is that while I've been avoiding knitting these socks I've accomplished a great deal on other fronts. Over the last couple of weeks I've knit thirty blanket squares for Knit-A-Square and crocheted four small squares for Kate's Blanket. Not to mention cleaning and organizing my yarn cupboard and sneaking in a few small stash-busting projects. But my Conwy Sock avoidance mood is over; I'm determined to finish this second sock in the next few days and be done with it. Who knows, maybe all that twist will make these socks really, really durable!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

one crazy large mitt

There's no mistaking Noro, is there? Crazy colours, thick and thin, unprocessed texture and lots of vm ... yup, it's Noro alright. With the assortment of oddball scraps leftover from a sweater I made a couple of years ago, I making felted mittens.

btw, if you were wondering, the mitred squares are done and I just couldn't bear to post one more picture of those squares. I think we've all seen and heard enough of them, haven't we? Just one thing though. Can you believe it's cheaper to pack thirty 8x8" squares to ship by Canada Post as a parcel to South Africa than it is to pack four 6x6" squares as a parcel to ship to North Carolina?! Seems crazy to me!

The first mitten knit up in almost no time; I cast on yesterday early evening and bound off the thumb this morning. The finished mitt before felting is crazy large -  14" from the top of the fingers to the bottom of the cuff! The pattern describes felting the mitts in the washing machine in hot water and a pillow case and, I have to confess, this is the part that makes me nervous. But these are oddball scraps so what's the worst that can happen? Omitting the pillow case and clogging the washing machine with wool fuzz necessitating a costly service call .. that would be the worst thing. It's kind of exciting too! Because if it works, and if it's easier than I think, there are so many cute felted slipper projects to look at.

Apparently I'll still have a small amount of yarn left. Felted Catnip toys?