Thursday, May 31, 2012

a strawberry festival

It'll be another week or two before local strawberries are ripe and ready to eat, but I just can't wait! After seeing these little crocheted strawberries on another blog, I decided to make a handful for myself.

Ahead of my end of May update for the Surmount the Stash challenge, it's a nice little project to use up sock yarn leftovers. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but I've opted to double strand fingering weight instead. Chances are these are the only little crocheted strawberries made from a mix of cashmere, merino, alpaca and nylon!

I'm very pleased with how the first one worked out. The texture created by continuous rounds of single crochet is very suggestive of the dimpled texture of strawberries, don't you think? And the size is ideal too. I only wish that I could find a quart of strawberries so perfectly sized, completely ripe and entirely unblemished!

Today I'm assembling small portable projects for the hours I'll be spending in hospital waiting rooms tomorrow. Gavin's surgery should take about 2-4 hours, and then it's expected he'll spend another 1-3 hours in post-anaesthetic recovery before he lands in a bed in the orthopaedic ward.

And the news from the vet was all good. She thinks that our cat was maybe bitten by some bug and scratched the bite. No fever, no infection, no sign of any trouble. So that's a relief.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday

There's a second Hermoine's Everyday sock languishing on the needles while, for the past couple of days, I've been playing with ideas in red and white for my Canada Day swap. It's a secret, and my swap partner has acknowledged lurking for hints on my blog, so this is as much as I'm going to say for now.

The knitting is resting on my new custom made console table. It's solid cherry and it's absolutely gorgeous. I feel like we finally have an "adult" piece of furniture instead of a mismatched flea market find. But here's the problem: now that I see how lovely it looks, I want to get rid of the rest of my old furniture. Yeah, maybe if I win the lottery!

Just a quick little post today as I have to run off now to take our cat to the vet. She's developed a bald patch below her left eye. It doesn't look like a scratch, it's not weepy or scabby or red or swollen, she's an indoor cat so it's not likely a bit or a parasite, so maybe it's nothing. But better safe than sorry, right?

You know the drill, right? Click the link for Tami's Amis to see all the other WIP Wednesday updates!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Year of Projects: Road to Oslo 02

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

Not surprisingly this little pair of sockettes knitted on 3.5 mm needles took no time at all. Well look at them! There's really not much more to them than a simple colourwork cuff and a vanilla foot, is there? But they are cute and they will be practical for padding about in the house on cold floors. I also think this pattern - the Road to Oslo - would be a good choice for Christmas knitting, if there are people on your gift list who'd appreciate a warm pair of knitted house socks.

I've used SRK On Your Toes sock yarn held double. It's quite a nice utility yarn - soft, squishy, sturdy and not at all splitty. Hopefully it machine washes well too. For the contrast colour I held together two strands of similar sock yarns - Wollemeise 80/20 Twin and Mountain Colours Barefoot. The variegation in the yarns is subtle but there's just enough to add a little more interest to the colour work. I'm looking forward to trying more Fair Isle type patterns in the coming months. I'm a huge fan of the way Alice Starmore combines colour and pattern to create stunningly rich fabrics - here's my someday project - but for now, I think I'd better stick to playing with colour in smaller scale.

Next and LAST on my Year of Projects list is the pattern Uinta Cabin. I'll have to poke through my dwindling stash of sock yarn to find four colours that will play together nicely for that. A year ago, when I committed to knitting through an entire book I wasn't sure I'd do it. Now I'm trying to decide if I'm up for the challenge of another year. I think so. Maybe I can knit through Folk Knitting in Estonia while playing with colour combinations inspired by Alice Starmore?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finished Object Friday

Last night I blocked this shawl - which I've come to think of as my Purple Lace Agate shawl - a shawl that was knit entirely at work while downloading files from Los Angeles. The pattern? "Debaser" by Meghan Jackson. As written the shawl is smaller and does not come to a point at the bottom centre the way mine does. Because this is a hand-spun art yarn that I received in a swap, I adjusted the pattern to make best use of the yarn. By adding 24 sts to the body of the shawl I wound up with an odd number of points rather than an even number. I wish I could have added another 24 sts to retain the original shape, but there just wasn't enough yarn - trust me I tried! I could have knit a smaller shawl, but it's small as is and I wanted as much shawl as I could get from the yarn.

The yarn is absolutely gorgeous - it's from Whimsy Wool and it's a hand-spun mixture of mixed wool, mohair, karakul and alpaca. Sooo soft! With only 240 yards my options were limited to a small scarf or shawl, and with so much texture, I figured simpler was better. That's why I picked this Debaser shawl pattern. The body of the shawl is a simple broken rib which flares out into a textured edging. A lot of the detail in the edging is lost with this yarn, but it's lovely nonetheless. I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out!

I've also finished my (w)rapped pullover. It's nice enough finished but it looks awful on me. (boo!) The neck looks wonky in the photo but it looks fine when worn. The armholes are un-edged and I find them unfinished looking. With the entire pullover in rib, the armholes pull in rather than hanging straight down, which I don't like either. One more gripe? The seam at the shoulder ends up half a stitch off from front ribbing to back which bugs me too. In retrospect I should have added a few more inches to the mid section of the pullover because on my 6ft frame, the banded rib section sits too high. I think I'll offer it to my sister - she's shorter, thinner, with entirely different colouring, so this will likely suit her a lot better. If she likes it, I'll post photos next week and probably feel a lot better about the time, effort and materials that went into this pullover. At least the yarn, soft touch DK from Shelridge Farms, is lovely. 

Today's lesson seems to be that you win some and you lose some. Or as the Yarn Harlot remarks, the path to a good sweater is paved with crap. As always on Friday, you can share the highs and lows through the links at Tami's Amis. Happy Friday everyone! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Calibrachoa and Bacopa in this year's baskets

Lots going on around here these days, knitting and otherwise. In just over a week Gavin goes in for Total Hip Replacement so we're trying to get all the chores done before things come to a screeching halt. At the hospital they asked if he had anyone to help him at home. "My wife," he replied, "as long as I don't piss her off." LOL. According to the literature sent home in his pre-admission package he should not plan to drive, vacuum, garden, mow the lawn or do anything strenuous for weeks and months after. Uh oh ... I guess I'd better get reacquainted with the vacuum cleaner :(

On the bottom of the pile is my (w)rapped pullover - the knitting's done, now I have to do the seams and the neck band. If I have a chance I might get started on that this morning. Typically I spend more time dreading finishing than it actually takes to do it, so I'm determined not to procrastinate. Besides, wouldn't it be nice to finish it in time to show Friday?

In the top right corner is my Road to Oslo boot sock. It's been put aside for the last couple of days in favour of the sock in the foreground. That's Hermoine's Everyday Sock; I've seen it  and admired it on so many other blogs that I just had to make a pair myself! The yarn is Regia Classic 4-ply in a printed colourway called "Lollipop" - little spots of green, blue and yellow randomly pop up as you knit. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it yet. Initially I thought the spots might be too distracting for a subtle textured pattern like this, but now that I've got a few inches knit, I think it'll be okay.

There's lots going on all around the craft blogosphere. Check out the links at Tami's Amis to see for yourself!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Year of Projects: Road to Oslo 02

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

Now that I'm catching up on several other fronts, I can finally report some progress on my second to last project for my Year of Projects: The Road to Oslo boot socks. After much hemming and hawing I decided to double strand some light fingering weight socks yarns for this sock.

As you can see Nancy Bush didn't name her book "Knitting on the Road" without good reason. Other than a picot edge and a small colourwork chart for the cuff, this sock is a very simple vanilla ankle sock worked on big needles in thick yarn. Easy peasy. And perfect for bringing along on our long weekend road trip to our friend's Lake Erie cottage!

The pattern as written is worked in three colours - one main colour, a contrasting colour for the cuff and a second contrasting colour for the colourwork chart. Looking through my stash I didn't find three colours in sufficient quantities that worked together satisfactorily so I elected to work it in two colours instead. I knit the cuff in the usual way, and then wrapped the next stitch, turned the work around, flipped all the knitting inside out and reversed direction to work the foot. It felt weird, but it works - the cuff rolls over correctly with nary a purl stitch needed. Awesome!

It's written as a boot sock, but I think I'll knit them for myself to wear around the house in winter instead of slippers. They're certainly thick enough that I wouldn't want them in shoes. And figuring that most of one sock was knit in just a few days, they should be done in no time!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

a very colourful square

The other day a member of the Warm Hands group on Ravelry put out the call for 10 inch squares for a group blanket. In fact a couple of blankets are planned - one or more of superwash wool and one or more with acrylic yarn. I'm betting that donations of superwash squares won't keep pace with their acrylic counterparts, so I've rolled up my sleeves to do my share.

Rooting around in my stash I found leftover Cascade 200 superwash in three colours - red, orange and purple. The red was leftover from these Cruiser Mitts I knit for my sister a year and a half ago. The orange, leftover from another pair of mitts for my nephew. And the purple was leftover from a baby blanket completed last year. Altogether enough for a square or two.

For my first square I wanted something striking. After looking through the Ravelry database I settled on this Stained Glass Afghan Square. As written it makes a 12 inch square but I figured that I could bring it down to 10 inches. After all Cascade 220 superwash is quite a thin worsted, surely I could make the square smaller with a smaller hook? In fact I was so successful that I needed an extra round of DC to make it LARGE enough!

It's very pretty! And surprisingly easy to do. I'd like to make another but I don't think I've got enough yarn left for a second one. Maybe I can squeak out a plainer 10 inch granny square from what I've got left, but even that's doubtful. I'm going to try, though. It's been a very good stash-busting exercise!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Finished Object Friday

Yippee! They're done! My Tardis socks are done! Months ahead of time for my brother's birthday even! It's not the best photo - it'd help if they actually fit though. Right now the heels are down at the bottom of my instep and the base of the leg pattern is stretched around my ankles; all in all, I'm really not doing the pattern full justice.

Note to self: take a better photo once they reach the final wearer.

It's a really cute pattern, isn't it? The vertical framing of the square below the windows is accomplished by stitches that are slipped to stretch across several rounds. And the horizontal framing is simply achieved with purl rounds. Quite effective, I think.

The pattern designer suggests that you could duplicate stitch the words "POLICE BOX" if they aren't clear enough after working the colourwork chart but I don't think I need to. I used baby yarn for the white because it was the only pure white I had. My initial trepidation that the mismatched yarn weights would make the colourwork section uneven seems to have been unfounded. Maybe a thicker white yarn actually helps to make the whites pop? It's a victory for knitting from the stash anyway.

It's Finished Object Friday over at Tami's Amis; click the links to check out all the amazing things being done!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

work in progress Wednesday

It's about time I finish one or both of these projects on needles. They're both starting to feel interminable. I've just been too busy over the last few days to get much done.

At the back is my (w)rapped pullover. The back is knit and the front has just a couple of inches left until the armhole shaping begins. I expect I can get the knitting of this pullover done by the end of the week, but for the sewing up I'll need good light  so that'll probably wait for the weekend.

In front are my Tardis socks. Sock one is done and has been for more than a week but I've stalled on sock two - I turned the heel last weekend and started the gusset decreases and then put it aside in favour of the pullover. My plan is to work on these monogamously today and hopefully finish them.

I'm not sure what I'm going to cast on next, but I am certain of one thing - it won't be blue. Seems like it's been all blue all the time for the last few weeks. Time for something completely different. Happy Wednesday everyone! Don't forget to check out the links at Tami's Amis for the usual (and unusual) inspiration.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Oh help! Are those aphids on my Spindle Tree? I think they might be. What should I do? Gavin suggested soapy water, so I've dumped a few buckets over the shrub but now I think I need to power spray the bottom of the leaves and the stems. What do you think? Will any of this work?

Maybe I should just print out the picture and go to a garden centre for help? In Toronto we have a bylaw banning pesticide use on public or private properties, so I'm not sure what's possible.

Did you imagine when you clicked on this blog that you'd have to contend with an icky bug picture? Probably not. I did try to warn you in the post title, but maybe you thought I meant software bugs? Perhaps I'd better just change the subject to something entirely more pleasant.

I've made steady progress on my (w)rapped pullover. I finished the back on Saturday and now, on the front, I'm about halfway into the banded rib section at the midriff. Presumably I could finish this by the end of the week, maybe in time for a FO Friday if I really make an effort. There are no armbands - thank goodness I went back and fixed those armhole decreases, eh? - just a bit of a neck edging. That should finish up quickly. I squeaked out the back from two skeins, so it appears that I'm going to have an extra skein. Maybe that'll come in handy for an upcoming swap.

And today at work I hope to finish my second Tardis sock. But more on that tomorrow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

two steps forward ...

... and one step back. My wrapped pullover was a lot further along last night before I went to bed. After completing the usual steps of binding off stitches at the beginning of each row, and after working even in pattern for a few more inches I was instructed to work a decrease row:

     K2, P1, P2tog ...

That's odd, I thought, my row starts with a single knit stitch, not two. To keep the rib pattern consistent I decided to  K1, P1, P2tog... and with the decrease row completed I worked even in pattern for another few inches. No problem, I thought.

At 2:30am I awoke with a start. HEY, my decrease row ought to have started with a K2. Mine didn't because I'd bound off a stitch at the beginning of each row once more than required. Aaagh. And wouldn't the entire armhole edge look nicer with a K2 column at each edge? Of course it would.

From 2:30 to 4am I lay awake thinking about ripping back to fix it. Okay, I was also thinking maybe May 19th was a good day to go to the garden centre.... and did we have anything in the fridge I could take to work for lunch tomorrow? ... and what should I pack in my overnight bag for dog-sitting tomorrow? ,,, and could I fudge the front to match the back? ... and what should I get my sister for her birthday in three weeks time? ... and if my table is delayed, maybe I should call the retailer and make arrangements for my sister's table to ship ahead of mine? ... and why can't I sleep. And for a lot of that time I was thinking if I'm not going to sleep anyway, maybe I should just get up and fix the d@mn knitting so that I can stop thinking about it and then I finally fell asleep.

This morning I ripped back and got all the stitches back on the needle. You're not surprised, are you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

work in progress Wednesday

I've been knitting quite monogamously on my (w)rapped pullover, in no small part because I'm participating in a KAL and lagging behind. Around the midriff of this pattern is this section of banded rib which I just love. It's quite distinctive, isn't it? That's what drew me to this pattern and inspired me to queue it as soon as I saw it.

The yarn is from Shelridge Farms - their Soft Touch Dk. It's lovely to work with but I struggle to see the stitches in the poor evening light with this dark colour. In fact, minutes after taking this photo I discovered a stitch that I purled where I should have knit about a dozen rows back. "Nobody else will notice" said Gavin, but I'm fixing it anyway. After all, I'd know it was there and my eye would always go to it. The ribbing is 3x2 rib, so that's the problem. I can't knit that on auto-pilot the way I would with 3x3 rib or 2x2 rib. Note to self: check your knitting regularly.

When I started this pullover it was meant for me, and it may still be for me. But lately as I knit, it's saying someone else's name to me. I guess I'll carry on and decide that once it's done. My goal is to finish the front to the shoulders by the end of the weekend. And then cast on the back to work on next week.

So that's what I've been doing. Have a look at what everyone else is doing on this work-in-progress Wednesday over at Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

just the postage swap

I think I mentioned the other day that I had signed up for a new swap group on Ravelry, right? Yesterday I got my first swap package, and it's awesome!

Full disclosure: there was chocolate in the package as well, but Gavin and I made short work of that!

Of course two balls of sock yarn will be put to good use. The yarn is a "confetti" pattern, so I'm curious to see how it knits up. I'm considering Hermoine's Everyday Socks for this. Seems like every couple of days I see another pair of these on somebody else's blog, and think wow, great pattern.

Also included was 240 yards of merino, mohair, karakul and alpaca handspun yarn from Whimsy Wool. It's a beautifully textured yarn in heathery purples and very much reminds me of my Mom's favourite afghan. This simple shawl pattern looks like just the thing - simple enough to let the yarn shine. And the pattern seems particularly apt since it's from a collection of shawls inspired by music and my swap partner is very musical.

That red, black and gold bookmark? That's made from vintage saree material. Don't you love it? The photo doesn't do it any justice - the red and gold threads are metallic so they shimmer in room light. I have a quilted bedspread that is almost a perfect match for this fabric. I think they were meant to be together. And last but not least is that clever little knitting notions box. There's no excuse anymore for those beads and stitch markers rolling around at the bottom of my knitting bag!

Now I just hope my swap partner likes her swap package as much as I like mine!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Year of Projects: Road to Oslo 01

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

This blog post is a bit of a cheat, because I actually have no progress to report on my year of projects. After finishing my Santa Fe socks last week I looked through my stash for likely yarns for The Road to Oslo socks. The pattern calls for sport weight and that's got me perplexed. There really is no sport weight sock yarn in my stash. What I am considering is whether I could pair two light fingering yarns and get away with that? That's what I'm going to try, I think.

And while I've been pondering that I've been trying to catch up on the (w)rapped KAL that I'm taking part in. The pattern here calls for Madeleine Tosh DK; instead, I'm using Shelridge Farms DK. But I think my yarn is a bit lighter than the Tosh yarn, because my gauge swatches are knitting up small. They grow after washing, but I've decided to also move up to a larger size. Having sorted that out, the next thing I discovered is that I wasn't doing the banded rib stitch correctly. YouTube to the rescue - now let's see if I can make some steady progress on this without any further drama!

We've been enjoying a couple of days of fabulous weather and as a result everything in the garden is starting to look summery. There's a carpet of blooming Vinca (Periwinkle) in the beds along the back fence, and the Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) has started flowering. It's just too nice to be indoors, so I think I'll head out there now with my little snips and prune the shrubs back into some sort of order. Happy Sunday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finished Object Friday

This Celtic Knot dishcloth is something I whipped up to add to my swap package for a "Just the Postage" swap in the new Canada Let's Swap group on Ravelry. This is the first time I've ever been involved in a swap, so hopefully I'm doing this right.

My swap partner is also a sock knitter so that made my choice of yarn easy. For this swap the idea was to select something new and unused from the stash; in my case it's this Fiber Optic Foot Notes skein in Lochness Batik. On her questionnaire, my swap partner indicated that she prefers "rich jewel colours including purples, greens, reds and blues so this fits the bill. It's gorgeous yarn, but when I bought it I ordered two skeins. After knitting up one skein, this other has been lying in my stash for a year and a half.

I filled out my little swap box with other goodies. My swap partner can't tolerate chocolate  - oh can you imagine? - so I've tucked in a box of Mike & Ikes for a sweet. And then there are a couple of knitting accessory items like two sample packets of unscented Soak, a couple of handmade buttons and some highlighter tape for marking patterns.

But something was still missing; it all felt a little impersonal. Reading through her posts on Ravelry I found that she was interested in Celtic Knot patterns, so I had a look and decided on this simple little dishcloth pattern. Ideal, right? It's quick and easy and I've used stash yarn. So what do you think? Have you ever been involved in a swap? If you received this swap package would you be happy with it? Have I left anything out that should be in there?

It's Friday! Have a look at the links at Tami's Amis and be prepared to be wowed by all the finishes. And if that doesn't keep you busy, you could spend some time over at Africam. How cute are those Cheetah cubs, eh?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Note: I am absolutely determined that this (w)rapped pullover will fit me perfectly. I will take all the necessary steps - measure, swatch, measure, rip out as required, remeasure, reknit - until it's perfect. I promise, cross my heart.

Step 1 is to swatch. The pattern indicates that my gauge should be 24sts/30 rows in 2x3 rib and Banded Rib Stitch across 4 inches. So last night I dutifully cast on 50 sts, worked a few inches in 2x3 rib and then another couple of inches in banded rib.

Well. The fact that my swatch is wedge shaped shows clearly that my gauge for 3x2 rib is not the same as for banded rib. Not surprising really, considering that 3x2 rib scrunches in a lot more than banded rib. Obviously combining both stitch patterns in a single swatch was a mistake. So what to measure? I've decided that the gauge of the banded rib is most important to this pattern, and when I measure that, my gauge is about 30 sts/30 rows, but I'm guessing because the banded rib is being distorted by the 3x2 rib below it.

What to do? The only thing I can do; I'm going to rip out and reknit this swatch in banded rib only. It's too early in this process to be uncertain about gauge; the risk of that coming back to bite me is just too huge. And I think I mentioned that I am absolutely determined that this pullover will fit me perfectly.  But first I'm going to knit on my Tardis socks - they're behaving nicely and fitting perfectly with no drama - while I try to convince myself that knitting a pullover for myself is a good idea.

As always, check the links at Tami's Amis to see what other crafters are working on. Chances are someone out there is getting gauge!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Surmount the Stash May Update

Monthly budget of $50 for all knitting related expenses: I ended last month with a deficit of $35.64, which is bad news considering that I was planning all along to spend, spend, spend at the Knitter's Frolic marketplace.

I splurged when I bought bulky yarn and needles to knit a headband and cowl for a departing coworker to the tune of about $50.00. I spent $7.22 more when I bought black sock yarn for my Tardis socks. And then I really overspent at the Frolic - all in all I probably spent about $110.00 there. Oh yeah and I spent $6.04 for the (w)rapped pattern just yesterday! I don't have all the receipts, but I'll estimate my deficit at $160.00 now. Is a budget of $50 a month is unrealistically low? Or should I put myself on a spending moratorium for the next few months?! I think the latter.

Manage my WIPs: Last month I started and finished a couple of dishcloths, a teddy bear, a small cowl, a large cowl, a headband and a couple of pairs of socks. Here we are on the first day of May and there's just one pair of socks on my needles. That's going to change though, I'm swatching for my (w)rapped pullover this evening.

Plan projects to work through my inventory of yarns in my Stash:  I'd estimate that in April I knit through about 1500 yards from my stash. I'd hoped to use some stashed DK cotton for the (w)rapped KAL but I've purchased yarn instead because I think it'll need the stretchiness of wool. Two skeins of sock yarn have been destashed  - one in a swap and one I've donated as a Ravelympics prize. Speaking of the Ravelympics I've got my project planned: Clapotis from silk mawatas in my stash.