Saturday, December 31, 2011

finished Heinz 57 socks

the snow is melting :(

Here they are: my Heinz 57 socks made from scraps of five different yarns on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Completing the pair took 76 grams of yarn total. Yes, another 76 grams stash-busted! This is my second try for an afterthought heel; this time I picked up extra stitches at each end to prevent holes and I skipped the knit rows between the decrease rows on the last few repeats to round the heel a bit more. Much better!

This morning I inventoried my sock yarn stash to get ready for Surmount the Stash 2012:

  • 14 x 100 gram skeins
  • 1200 grams of assorted sock yarn scraps

That's enough yarn for about 30-36 pairs of socks. If you had asked me yesterday how much sock yarn I had, I would have guessed about half that amount. Looks like it's true that knitters compulsively underestimate the size of their stashes. In 2011 I made about 26 pairs of socks, so my goal is to knit ALL of this yarn into socks by the end of the calendar year with the majority intended for the Warm Hands Network. Guess I'd better get started, huh?

Yesterday I was also pleasantly surprised by a new book to read on my Kobo Vox eReader. Thanks to my brother's family in Ottawa for their thoughtful gift: Knitting Rules by the Yarn Harlot. Based on the quiz I seem to fall mostly into the "Knitting Scientist" category - a methodical stasher who buys yarn with specific projects in mind, and yes, I travel with a tape measure. Doesn't everyone?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Heinz 57 socks

uh oh, more snow

I've signed up to Surmount the Stash in 2012, and as I inventory my stash I've come to realize that I have a large volume of sock yarn scraps. More scraps, in fact, than full skeins of sock yarn by weight. Many of these scraps are 50-100 yards - not enough to do anything with on their own. Any plan to surmount my stash has to include some ways to use these scraps ... and so the idea of Heinz 57 socks was born.

I've made a good start on the first pair. The cuff, heels and toes are being worked in a solid dark blue. I bought a few balls in a few solid colours of On Your Toes 4ply merino/nylon blend for just this purpose at a store closing sale last summer. The leg and foot of the sock are worked by alternating several rows in four different blue/grey shade yarns - some Kroy jaquarding yarn, some Kroy self-striping yarn, some Regia Design Line yarn and some Regia Extra Twist Merino. By the end of the second sock at least two of these yarns will be completely used up. I've been using Russian joins at colour changes and letting those colour changes happen where they may - usually within a stitch or two on either side of the beginning of the round. Can't stand the idea of finishing with hundreds of ends to weave in!

And yes, that is an RC Helicopter beside my sock. It's a very fun birthday present - thanks Mark - but so far I totally suck at flying it. Thank goodness it's sturdy, having survived a first day of some pretty terrible landings. That's just one of the things I'll be doing this weekend besides knitting: logging practice flight hours.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Snow?! Need warm socks now!

I've mostly finished my first Coffee Mate sock. It was finished last night, but after trying it on I realized that I needed to pick out the bind off and redo it more loosely. With darkly coloured fuzzy splitty yarn this is turning out to be something of a challenge. Has to be done though!

I'm using a yarn called Katia Darling which is new to me. It's brush plied which I suppose explains the fuzziness and the splittiness. It's also very soft and warm. Other Raveler's have complained that the joins are terrible - sloppy and without regard to the continuity of the colours. I had exactly the same experience with this first ball of wool; I think you can see the abrupt transition from dark to light halfway up the leg? That's annoying. With my big feet I need all the yardage to make the socks the length I want them so I didn't think I should start cutting out sections to reinstate the colour continuity.

The pattern is a simple K2 P2 K4 P2 rib which I'm knitting toe-up with an afterthought heel. This is the first time I've done an afterthought heel, but I've always admired it on other blogs. With a striping yarn the striping pattern gets distorted with other heel constructions so I thought I'd give it a whirl here. I'm happy with the way the colours go but find this heel a bit short and square. There's probably more than one way to work an afterthought heel - I'll have to do some investigating - but this will do for now.

Now back to that bind off. I'd like to get that sorted out before I head to work this morning. Lots more to see at Tami's Amis!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Coffee Mates

warm and fuzzy
For the last couple of years Gavin and I have agreed to forgo Christmas shopping for each other, instead buying one big item for both of us. Last year we bought Apple TV. This year we bought a Keurig Coffeemaker. And we love it. Especially since we also bought the optional "My K-Cup" accessory which allows us to use our own ground coffee. So easy, so quick and such nice coffee!

In honour of our new coffee protocol I'm naming this latest pair of socks "Coffee Mates". The yarn is Katia Darling in a colourway that runs from a light double-cream double-sugar coffee colour to a very dark rich expresso colour. It's "brush-plied" - very warm, very fuzzy and very splitty. Simple seems best so I'm knitting toe-up in a simple ribbed pattern with afterthought heels. If I've done my math correctly they should fit me perfectly!

It's Boxing Day here in Canada but I don't plan to spend a minute of my time fighting through the crowds to shop for Boxing Day bargains. A little knitting, a little sewing, a couple loads of laundry and a bit of cooking: that's my schedule for today.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Year of Projects - Unst 02

secrets revealed

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 • UnstWhitby

Now that it's been unwrapped to squeals of delight I can finally reveal my secret gift knitting - a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf. Turns out it wasn't much of a secret. As soon as he saw the yarn colours on my blog he guessed what it was going to be. "Really?" he asked, "you didn't think I'd guess?" Nope, I didn't think he'd guess. Doesn't matter though, he's delighted with it. The embroidered patches that I ordered on eBay really make it, don't they? I was pleasantly surprised at how aggressive the iron-on adhesive is; it adhered to the knitted fabric without any trouble at all!

Unst all done
Last week I also had lots of time to finish the second Unst sock. They've turned out just beautifully - of course the cashmere content of the yarn doesn't hurt either - and they're done almost a week early for a December birthday. The recipient is Asian and every year she looks forward to her "good luck New Year socks". And of course they have to be red. 

Pattern? Doesn't matter. 
Style? Doesn't matter. 
Colour? Doesn't matter as long as they're red.

This week I'm knitting a plain pair of ribbed socks for me. But next week I hope to cast on another pair towards my Year Of Projects; perhaps Whitby socks with a light fingering weight yarn held double. Merry Christmas one and all! And a crafty New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

merry merry


As you know I've pledged to Surmount the Stash in 2012. So when I announced my intention to purchase rhinestone snowflake appliques for this wine cozy a red flag went up in my head. Chances are each applique would be a couple bucks, and chances are I'd buy about twice as many as I needed, and after taxes I'd probably have spent $15-20. There had to be another way.

Embroidery is not my strong point so instead I decided to simulate rhinestone appliques using some metallic silver seed beads that I have on hand. I printed out snowflake patterns composed of tiny circles and then used them as templates for positioning the beads. After completing each snowflake I tore away the paper I had sewn through. Success! The effect looks quite subtle in the photo but in real life it's pretty effective. Stash-busting win! Money-saving win!

In a couple hours we're meeting Shirley for a Christmas lunch; hopefully she likes it! Now all that's left for me to do is relax and enjoy the holidays. Hopefully you're all doing the same! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

My second version of Wine Cozy has been felted and I'm much happier with the result. Gavin agrees, this is better. This time round I knit the cozy in a single colour - sheep's grey - to make sure the entire thing felted evenly. I reduced the number of stitches in the round from 96 to 63. And I reinforced the base with a thin plastic disk sandwiched between the true bottom and a second false bottom. If I had time I could try to felt it by hand about 10% smaller but there's no time left for any more experimentation.

Originally I thought to embroider a Christmas design on the finished felted bag, or even to applique a Christmas design cut out from felt, but today I'm thinking about heading to Michael's for Rhinestone applique snowflakes. After hanging this glittery snowflake ornament from the bag's bow, I've decided that the contrast between this soft and fuzzy felted bag and the crisp and sparkly snowflake is really nice. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think IT NEEDS MORE GLITTER!

Now I have to run - there's one more parcel to post so I hope to be first in line when the Post Office opens. Fingers crossed it makes it under the tree in time! For more frantic Christmas crafting, have a look at Tami's Amis. I can't be the only one crafting right up to the very last minute, can I?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Year of Projects - Unst

feeling festive!

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

It's a funny feeling to switch from knitting a cabled sock on size zero needles to a lacy sock on size one needles. It almost feels like I'm cheating, this pair of Unst socks is knitting up so quickly! Less than a week and the first sock is done. At this rate they'll be done way ahead of my December 29th deadline.

Nancy Bush named these socks Unst for the northernmost Shetland Island as it uses a traditional Shetland lace pattern called Columns and Arches. The pattern is very simple to work and to memorize. And quite pretty, I think, especially in this cashmere/merino/nylon blend sock yarn!

I'm lagging a bit behind on my Year of Projects with only the seventh of seventeen pairs of socks on the needles here at the halfway point in my year. But not to worry, it looks like I'll have plenty of time to catch up in the next couple of weeks. Almost all the gift knitting is done. And after tomorrow night's dinner, all the Christmas cooking and baking is also done. Lucky me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finished Object Friday

sorry for the cellphone pic!

It's late in the day on Friday, early evening really, but this pair of fingerless mitts are done and I just had to trumpet the news! I'm at work so a coworker kindly agreed to take a photo with his cellphone to help me out, so please accept my apologies for the photo. It's the best I can do under the circumstances.

This pattern is fantastic! I read the notes of other Ravelers and took some of their modification suggestions - lengthening the cuff, lengthening the hand, lengthening the thumb and reversing the cables on the left mitt. But they fit beautifully and they feel lovely on. The thumb as written works really well and ties in with the pattern nicely.

And look! They're actually done a whole day before the deadline! Isn't that something! I'm usually the one finishing them in the car and stopping at a donut shop to wrap them, or worse, wrapping them unfinished. Yippee! They're done!

Hopefully everyone else is having just as successful a day! Check out the parade of finishes at Tami's Amis. They're worth a look!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

More than likely this first Glorious Cabled Mitt will be finished on my train ride to work this morning. And with any luck its mate will be cast on and ready for some steady knitting at work. Like everyone else these days I'm on a schedule. This project must be done, wrapped and ready for giving on Saturday morning. Considering the progress I've made in the last two days, my timing looks pretty good.

The yarn is lovely - it's Madeline Tosh Sock in a colourway called "Cove". It's very smooth yielding very crisp stitch definition and it is one of the least splitty yarns I've ever had the pleasure to knit. Definitely a good choice for all these criss-crossing cables on size 0 needles! I'm sorry to say I liked the colours better in the skein than knit up, but that's so often the case for me when I fall prey to the charms of variegated yarns. I'm not unhappy with it though; at least it's not pooling or striping or otherwise misbehaving.

Once this is done my plan is to reknit a smaller wine cozy. My next wine cozy will be knit in one colour; I'll add a pattern after it's knit and felted. I can't say I feel very confident about this as my embroidery skills leave a lot to be desired, but I'm going to give it a go. After that there's one more pair of socks to knit for the 29th, then that's it for the gift knitting. I think I can. I think I can. 

Check out Tami's Amis to see the work of lots more optimistic and hardworking little crafting engines!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Surmount the Stash 2012

a good start

Here at row six of the pattern across the wrist and hand you can just start to see the beginning of the cables of this first Glorious Cabled Mitt. It's the beginning of a big section of interlocking cables that make this mitt something special. The deadline for these mitts is this Saturday so there's no time to lose; this project will be my constant companion and I plan to knit these exclusively until they're done.

I have high hopes for this pattern. First I love that they're made from fingering weight yarn. That strikes me as a really practical weight for fingerless mitts. After all, by definition these aren't meant to be the warmest mitts for prolonged exposure to extreme cold, but are instead meant to be warmer than no mitts at all when covered fingers are inconvenient. And with all that ribbing they're certain to fit. Finally, just think of how much gorgeous yarn is available in finger weight! There's plenty of choice in my stash, that's for sure.

Speaking of which, Revelations of a Delusional Knitter has a plan to Surmount the Stash in 2012 and I'm joining in. The real work begins in 2012 but in anticipation I need to come up with a plan.

Inventory my Stash: I'd like to know exactly how much yarn I have in any given weight in order to plan my projects accordingly. I'm betting next year is going to be the year of socks for me! Maybe the Yarn Harlot's idea of bagging yarn together with patterns is a good idea? I'd like to get my stash organized and inventoried through the week after Christmas so that I'm ready to go at the beginning of next year. 

Limit Stash Enhancement: I'd like to stay within a monthly budget of $50 for all knitting related expenses: yarn, notions, needles, patterns and so on. Amounts can be borrowed from a coming month. Unused amounts can be carried forward from past months. Truthfully, I'd like to promise not to buy any more needles next year. I have more than one set at each size in straights and a good selection of circs, so this should be possible.

Manage my WIPs: No more than two projects on the needles at a time. No exceptions. I need to be disciplined about starting and finishing projects. And I need to be organized about planning projects in time for their deadlines - whether it be shipping dates for my favourite charities or birthdays for which a handknit is planned. Too often I'm leaving things to the last minute and then shopping instead of knitting. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Year of Projects - from Denmark to Unst

gorgeous pattern, really!
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 

On the four hour drive to Ottawa yesterday, for an hour or so last night with my SIL, and on the four hour drive back from Ottawa today there was plenty of opportunity to knit. And I took full advantage.

My Denmark socks are done! The pattern is written for a heavier fingering weight than the Alpaca Sox yarn I decided upon so I knit them with a couple of extra repeats on size 0 dpns. The result? One of the most gorgeous pair of socks I've ever made. The pattern is very classic and very elegant and has more stretch than I would have imagined. I love those trademark Nancy Bush details like the Nupps that top the cable columns and the slim stockinette band on each side of the leg dividing the front and back of the sock. Awesome! Once again the photos in the book entirely fail to do this pattern justice. Now I only wish I had knit them in my own size instead of a smaller size for gift-giving ;)

Now, back to business. I've pulled this Pagewood Farms Aleksa yarn in the "Really Red" colourway from my stash for the next pair of socks. You won't mind if I skip ahead to Unst, will you? I'm in the mood for a lacey sock after all those cables!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finished Object Friday

to refelt or not to refelt?

Is it finished? In the sense that I followed the instructions from start to end, it is. But the finished result leaves something to be desired - after three trips through the hot, heavily soiled cycle of my top loading washing machine the blue is only a smidge smaller -  and now I'm pondering my options. To refelt or not to refelt, that is the question.

Problem 1: The Sheep's Grey yarn has felted faster than the Midnight Blue yarn. Can this be fixed?

"Always test felt a swatch when using multiple colors, even within the same line of yarn. Different shades felt at different rates, as do different brands of yarns." advises Rob Matyska of Knitty. "If you notice, during the felting process, that a certain area isn't felting quite as fast as the rest of the surfaces, you can spot-felt by hand by rubbing and abusing that specific area."

Problem 2: The entire bag is massively wide. Unfelted the diameter was 19", after felting my diameter is 16-3/4" and my target finished diameter is 11-1/2 to 12". Is it possible to felt it that small? Please give me your two cents on this matter. I'm currently under the impression that felting at least 30% smaller should be do-able; thirty percent would put me at 13-1/4" diameter, which is a lot better than what I've got now!

"There is no "formula" for how a certain wool will felt." advise Kiki and Steve of LG Stitched. "It is impossible to determine the percentage of felting that will occur, but you can take careful notes to guide you in the future." 

For the next couple of days this project is going to sit in "time out" while I clear my head and get over my disappointment and frustration. And maybe on the weekend, I'll fill the sink with scalding hot water and tennis balls to see if I can hand felt it to the right proportions. As for today, I think I'll knit some more on my sock; at least it's behaving nicely.

Be sure to have a look at what's happening over at Tami's Amis. I'm going there now to get inspiration from some happy finishes!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

work-in-progress Wednesday

almost a poinsettia

For the last couple of days I've been dividing my knitting time between socks for my Year of Projects and this knitted wine cozy. The poinsettia colourwork panel is my modification to the pattern - hopefully you'll be still be able to make it out after felting! I'd like to get this one finished and felted in the next few days. Just in case ... in case I can't felt it small enough to fit the bottle and need to knit another smaller version ... it could happen.

I was pretty lukewarm about this project when I started it, but it's growing on me. I particularly love this midnight blue yarn from Birggs and Little - feels like a very cold and clear winter night sky. My fingers are firmly crossed hoping that this works out how I'm envisioning it.

Progress around here has been at a snail's pace lately - life has been interfering with my knitting time. But over the next few days I'm going to have hours and hours of transit knitting time, so by next week I'll be way ahead. And for once I think I've limited myself to a reasonable number of Christmas projects. Maybe I'm finally getting older and wiser?

Check out Tami's Amis to see what everyone else has been up to!

Monday, December 5, 2011

an uncertain attempt

looks a bit big

It's not my first felting project - I made felted mitts several weeks ago - but I'm definitely a felting rookie. And as a result I'm completely lacking in confidence about how to predict sizing. I'm knitting this bottle cozy based loosely on a pattern from Patons using Briggs & Little Heritage from my stash in Midnight Blue and Sheep's Grey. Briggs is a very rustic, unprocessed wool and should felt beautifully. But I can't help but compare the size of the cozy I'm knitting to the bottle itself and wonder ... will it really felt small enough to fit? I guess we'll know the answer to that in a few days!

I decided to add a colourwork pattern to the cozy. I've opted for a kind of chunky border - after all, it should look a bit finer when it felts down to half it's size, right? For the main motif I've decided on a poinsettia. With this colour scheme a snowflake pattern probably would be more suitable, but the poinsettia jumped out at me, so a poinsettia it is.

The plan is to plough ahead with this, finish it, felt it and then decide whether I need to make another to adjusted dimensions. It doesn't take long to knit and I have enough yarn in my stash to knit several more if need be. The next one might be Sheep's Grey for the main colour and red for the contrast colour. That'd be more suitable for a Poinsettia, wouldn't it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Year of Projects - Denmark Post 05

Finally some progress!
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 

Suddenly things are progressing; largely because my secret Christmas knitting project is done (yippee!). The first sock was finished last week and during the hockey game last night I knit about a third of the leg of the second sock. A big thank you to the Leafs for another lacklustre performance against a far superior team - the action on the ice did little to distract me from my knitting. At this rate the sock will be done in a just a few days, which will free up these needles for another Christmas knitting project.

Yesterday a friend and I headed west to do some Christmas shopping. Mostly I wanted to visit the Dutch store to buy some of the traditional Christmas treats from my childhood - cumin spiced cheese, licorice dropjes, ginger-spiced Speculaas cookies and marzipan-filled stollen. Mission accomplished ... except that we now seem to be eating treats all day and night instead of nutritious meals. Oh dear. And while out that way we dropped in at the Needle Emporium where I encountered a knitted sample of this cropped pullover in Debbie Bliss Riva. DANGER! For about a minute and a half I considered buying the yarn and pattern to make this for my sister for Christmas.  But wait, isn't it already December? Is this a good time to start something that big on a short deadline? NO!

One thing I have added to my Christmas knitting list is a felted wine bottle cosy. Pattern suggestions anyone? I hope to have that decided in the next couple of days so that I can pick up the yarn and make a start on it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Not finished

one down, one to go!

Today's finished object Friday and there's not much finished around here. The mystery Christmas knitting project is almost finished. Just 35 rounds to go; about an hour and a half of knitting. I'll finish that up today and then block it tomorrow.

There is one finished Denmark sock, but I can't really call this project finished until there's a second one. That second sock is on the needles and has become top priority if only because I need these same needles for the next Christmas knitting project - Glorious Cabled Mitts. I can't wait to start them!

And happily the rest of our Christmas plans are starting to fall into place. Just a few more things to pick up and my shopping is done. With a bit of luck I may have most of it completed by the end of this weekend. Wouldn't that be nice? To coast into the holidays without any stress? It's a nice idea, but not likely. I tend to react to spare time by adding more to the to-do list. Let's just see if I can get through the next 24 days without promising to knit any sweaters!