Monday, December 26, 2016

Year of Projects 6: Week 26

The good news is that the MKAL "Not Bothered By the Cold" socks are done. I finished them up on the evening of the 23rd, leaving myself enough time to wash, block and dry the finished socks before wrapping them up and gifting them on the 24th. They are pretty socks but all that stockinette makes the legs a bit baggy and saggy in my experience. But pretty socks nonetheless and I think Barb is going to love them. And if you're wondering, yes the socks are too small for me as shown in the photo, but Barb's feet and legs are much thinner/smaller :)

The bad news is that my Thornfield socks are not done. I'm more than halfway down the leg of sock two so I should finish by the end of this week. Time will tell whether I see the intended recipient before that. The original plan was to drive out to the Lake today but the police are closing highways in every direction because of severe icy road conditions from freezing rain, so that plan has been cancelled.

The revised plan for today is laundry, painting and maybe some quilting. Those who follow me on Instagram know that I've been painting my way through the book "50 Small Paintings". With any luck I'll complete painting #47 today and get started on painting #48. I'm motivated to finish the 50 paintings soon for two reasons: I got another painting book for Christmas, Acrylics Unleashed, and, Gavin bought me an eight week course of painting workshops at the local art centre starting in mid-January. Very exciting (and just a little intimidating too)!

As for the knitting plans, the list looks like this:
• finish Thornfield Socks
• finish Crest Socks
• re-cast on Twisted Flower socks
January/February MKAL in SolidSocks group on Ravelry
January "Botany" theme KAL in SolidSocks group in Ravelry
• re-cast on black/grey ribbed socks for Gavin
• knit Albert de Moncerf socks for Warm Hands Network

Feels like I'm being overly ambitious... I guess we'll see what happens! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Year of Projects 6: Week 24

To overdye or Not to overdye, that is the question
As expected my pink socks are done, but I'm still up in the air about whether to overdye them or not. Using photoshop I tried to simulate what the overdyed result might look like with three different food colours, but there's no guarantee that my simulations will be accurate. I am leaning towards the Sky Blue food colouring - I find it unifies the cuff and leg yarns and is a bit brighter than the teal food colouring. The burgundy seems a bit darker and more intense than I think I want. But what do you think?

The toe colour is darker than I'd hoped but it really was the only stash yarn that I had that in anyway complemented the leg and foot colour. There was another yarn that I had in mind but after knitting several rounds it turned out to be self-striping which added another unwelcome element of contrast. I put that aside for another pair of socks.

I knit a super long cuff - mainly to use up a bunch of this Louet Fingering yarn that has no nylon content - but I think I like this style. It keeps the leg nice and snug. I suppose you could also roll the cuff over by half. I think I remember doing this as a young girl with my knee socks?

MKAL clues 1 and 2
Once the pink socks were done I was supposed to go back to sock two of my Thornfield socks. I didn't though. Instead a MKAL caught my attention on Ravelry and in a blink of an eye I'd purchased the pattern and signed up for the knit-along. I've knit clue 1 (the cuff) and clue 2 (the leg) of the first sock so far. Clue 3 doesn't come out until the end of the week so I think I'll shift sock one onto scrap yarn and knit sock two to the same point.

You may be surprised to see me knitting pink yarn again. I'm sure I've mentioned that it's really not my favourite colour?! This time around these socks are to be a gift for someone who specifically asked for a pretty, girly pair of pink socks. So pink it is. I bought the yarn on Friday at Spun Fiber Arts. It's Peppino from the Yarns of Richard Devreize and what gorgeous yarn it is to knit! Perfect weight for fine socks, very smooth and springy yarn, lots of twist, and a distinctly lanolin feel to it. I'm really enjoying knitting with it. I am already imagining knitting various Rachel Coopey colourwork socks with it... like Alfrick or Twylla. With two skeins yielding 440 yards I'm bound to have lots leftover!

So that's my week's work cut out for me. And that second Thornfield socks really DOES need to be done by Christmas, so I'd better get going on it!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Year of Projects 6: Week 23

My secret swap package arrived in Louisiana so I can do a reveal. It's a Christmas Monkey! What makes a monkey festive? Hmmm... a red and white striped scarf, maybe? I don't know; I just thought he was cute.

The pattern is Mini Monkey Christmas Ornaments from Boo-Biloo. It came up in my Facebook feed from LoveKnitting and I thought it was just hilarious.

The individual pieces were pretty quick knits but the finishing was very fiddly. Each piece - arms, legs, tail, ears, scarf and body - was knit flat and then mattress stitched closed. I think if I did another I'd have a good think about how to knit most of this in the round. And the hairline and face were done in Intarsia. All the little complications did keep it interesting. Also I learned from the pattern instructions to position a piece of felt on the inside of the toy behind the area to be embroidered to support the embroidery stitches. Works perfectly!

Kudos to the pattern designer too;  the pattern included really good quality photos and finishing instructions. I tried to match my embroidery to the pattern photo and it's turned out better than I expected. Usually my embroidery is terrible!

Mr. Monkey ended up about 6" from top of his head to bottom of his foot, so I don't know how "mini" he really is. To my mind, that's on the large size for an ornament. Cute nonetheless and KristiRose in Louisiana seems to really like him!

I was a day late in sending my swap package. As I was packing things up and reviewing the questionnaire responses I was reminded that my Swap recipient is lactose intolerant which made the planned chocolate treats entirely inappropriate. The next morning I re-shopped and got a quick lesson in how difficult it is to find commercial treats that are milk free and produced in milk-free facilities. After striking out at the local grocery stores I finally found some appropriate choices at the Health Food Store. I'm so fortunate not to have food allergy or sensitivity issues!

I did finish the blue-green vanilla socks and then cast on another pair of vanilla socks. This time I decided to cast on my least favourite colours - pink and purple - from amongst the yarn donated by a fellow Raveller just to get the yarn knit and out of my stash! The cuff is knit with Louet Gems Fingering which is a lovely yarn with no nylon content. The variegated pink/purple yarn I've used on the leg came with no label but it feels like a superwash merino/nylon sock yarn. Within the first dozen rounds I realized that the variegated yarn was pooling badly... so badly that it seemed likely that the purple was going to stack up on one side of the leg, and the pink stack up on the other side, and never the twain would meet. Agh. Maybe that's the reason it ended up being destashed??

I tried alternating with another yarn but I didn't like it any better, so I settled on another strategy. Every fifth round is worked as K1 Sl1 which works to kick the colours about halfway across the round. The result is somewhat striped but I like it well enough.

There's definitely not enough of the pink/purple variegated yarn to complete two legs, two heels and two feet - even with these super long cuffs. Instead I've knitted both socks to the same point with the plan to knit both as far as I can to the last few inches of yarn and then switch to another not-quite-matching pink/purple yarn to finish the feet and toes. I hope it's not too horrible.

If the final result is really horrifying I can always overdye the finished socks to subdue the pink, unify the colours and flatten the contrast. They might just end up purple. Could happen! I've got teal food colouring in the cupboard at the ready!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Year of Projects 6: Week 21

Just a handful of rounds before I cut the two main yarns and start the toe of the second sock. I'm still infatuated with these socks and have already gone stash-diving to select the next bunch of yarn leftovers for vanilla sock treatment. As you can see in the photo, there's a ridge where I've changed yarns at the end of one round to the beginning of the next, but I'm pretty sure this will block out with the first wash and wear. It's a super comfy sock and the bright colours are a nice contrast to the grey windy winter weather that's arrived. I'm hoping to finish up this pair in the next day or two and get started on the next. But before I do that, I'd like to finish sock number two of my Thornfield socks - they've been neglected for the past week or more.

I was in Ottawa for the last few days and had a chance to finally meet Anita, an extraordinary good-hearted knitter who started and manages the Warm Hands Network. She is an inspiration. Over breakfast and coffee she showed me photos of one of her contacts in the northern communities she serves - a woman who organized and administers the only two shelters in Iqaluit... and she stressed the urgent need for socks. How lucky I am to enjoy knitting gorgeous yarn donations into much needed and valued socks for entire communities of knit-worthy kids and adults! Depending on the weather and driving conditions, I'm already planning another road trip to attend one of the upcoming packing nights at Anita's house in Ottawa. It'd be fun to meet the whole crew! 

At the same time I've cast on some secret Christmas knitting. At the moment it's cute and fun, but it shows every sign of becoming a fiddly nuisance in a hurry... particularly as the next steps are intarsia. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So that's what I'll be doing for the next week or more. Have a great week and for those of you in Ontario (and possibly northern US too?) enjoy the season's first snow!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Year of Projects 6: Week 20

Several weeks ago I caught sight of a post in the GTA forum on Ravelry - Yarn Free to Charity. Another generous Raveller on Ravelry was destashing sock yarn for free. I was all over that!

A few days later I picked up more than three shopping bags of sock yarn; mostly 40 to 50 gram partial skeins. Enough to keep knitting scrappy socks for the rest of my life!

I've already packed up about a third of it for another Raveller in Ottawa who also knits socks for the Warm Hands Network. I feel good about that. I was starting to think I could never knit fast enough for all that yarn!

In the meantime I've cast on my first sock with three yarns chosen from the destashed yarns. The cuff and heel are Tosh Sock in a colourway called "Forestry". I'm not sure what the blue and green yarns are that I'm using for the leg and foot but don't they make a a very bright and dramatic fabric? Maybe it's a reaction to the last couple of  pairs of grey vanilla socks, but bright is exactly what I'm in the mood for!

I'm heading to Ottawa at the end of the week. Hopefully I have this pair of socks done to add to my pile for the Warm Hands Network. Now let's see if I can keep up with my knitting AND blogging.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

the best laid plans

Towards the end of the summer my friend and I were thinking about getting away somewhere for a weekend. Somewhere out of town. Somewhere fiber-y with a workshop or a festival or something to look. A nice simple getaway. RHINEBECK!!

We were super excited to sign up for a bus trip from the GTA to Rhinebeck. I scanned the events, workshops and appearances and hey - Rachel Coopey was appearing, selling her new line of Socks Yeah! yarn and autographing copies of her book. Last year I won some Rachel Coopey patterns in a knit along which got me thinking... wouldn't it be great to knit a sock pattern by Rachel Coopey and wear them while meeting her in person! So I immediately cast on these Thornfield socks.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? The Rhinebeck trip never happened. Not enough people signed up for the bus trip to cover costs so it was cancelled. Boo!

Oh well, maybe next year. In the meantime one Thornfield sock is done and the second is on the needles. The yarn is Socky-Talky by the Dye Guy in a colour way called Black Spruce. This photo was taking in very bright warm sunlight so the colours look too yellow-brown. I'll try to do better when I finish the socks. I'm not entirely sure that the yarn does any favours to the pattern. It's a little too busy and it overwhelms the travelling stitches on the leg for the most part. And a word to the wise - all these crossing stitches make the sock fit quite snugly. After trying on the first part of the leg I realized these'd be a bit small for me, but as my Rhinebeck trip was cancelled I decided to carry on and knit them for a friend with skinny legs and narrow feet.

So no trip to Rhinebeck for me this year, but at least there'll be a lovely pair of socks at the end of this!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

where were we?

So where were we when I last left off? Hard to believe that I haven't managed a single blog post since July. Lots has happened since then - all good - but not much knitting.

Necker socks were done in July, but with heat-wave temperatures through July, August and September the socks were given away with no photos taken. Maybe now that fall is here, I'll catch up with Nancy and we'll snap a few shots. We'll see.

In the meantime it's been vanilla socks. One pair with rounds of variegated yarn alternating with rounds of grey yarns, another pair with wide stripes of various grey yarns.

I used some cream coloured yarn that was given to me by another Raveller for the cuffs. There was no label, and the yarn felt super soft so I wasn't too sure how much (if any) nylon was in the yarn. So, just the cuffs with that.

For the heels on both pairs I used leftover Kroy sock yarn. There's definitely nylon in that so the heels should be hard-wearing.

The width of the grey stripes was planned to use up the scraps in their entirety in matching socks. With all the back-and-forthing to the cottage I didn't always have a kitchen scale available, so there was a fair bit of shifting one sock onto scrap yarn, knitting the other up to the same point, then shifting that sock to scrap yarn and so on. Annoying? Sure, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I'm never really sure how scrap yarn socks will turn out, but these two pairs are amongst my favourites. They are very handsome and wearable socks. In fact, even Gavin remarked that he really liked the wide grey stripes. They're not for him though!

Next week I'm off to Ottawa to visit my brother's family and celebrate my brother's birthday. While there I'm hoping to catch up with Anita - one of the organizers of the Warm Hands Network - and drop off some socks. At the same time I have a shopping bag full of sock yarn leftovers for another Ottawa knitter who makes socks for the Warm Hands Network. I was given three bags full from a GTA Raveller a few weeks ago for charity knitting, but it's more than I'll be able to knit in my lifetime so I'm glad to bring it someone who'll put it to good use!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Year of Projects Year 6: Week 02

This week I've split my attention between Necker and a new pair of Vanilla socks.

Necker first. Sometimes just casting on the second sock is significant progress I find, and I've cleared that hurdle now. I've knit the cuff and started the patterning on the leg so I'm well underway. If I can find knitting time here and there this week then I hope to finish this pair this week. It's a very easy pattern, and very easy to pick up and put down, so this should be do-able. If you have a minute, it's worth the time to click the pattern link and check out some of the projects worked in two colours. A pretty dramatic effect is creative. Right now I'm thinking about doing the pattern a second time in two colours, although probably with less dramatic contrast than some of the projects shown on Ravelry.

In keeping with my Year of Projects goal to knit alternate fancy patterns with vanilla patterns I cast on a pair of Pure Vanilla socks to use some problematic variegated yarn along with various solid and semi-solid grey scraps. I've worked about 4" of leg, but the stockinette is too inflexible to stretch over my heel so I'm ripping back to the cuff and starting over on larger needles. I'm really happy with how the alternating rounds of grey are quieting the variegated colourway though! The cream colour used in the cuff was amongst the yarn scraps I was given by a fellow Raveller. It's super soft but I'm not convinced there's nylon in it, so I think it's best saved for cuffs.

As for our cottage, thanks for all the great feedback and congratulations! It's not directly on the water - we're the third house back - which made it more affordable for us. The front deck has a clear view down the street to the Lake, so it's good enough for me. The big thing for us was how well done many of the recent renovations were. The cottage has been lifted onto concrete piers in the last several years so there are no dampness issues. The electrical was all professionally redone to 100amp service - the home inspector was very impressed that there were NO code violations whatsoever. The pump is new, the high efficiency gas furnace is quite new, the air conditioner is new, so we won't need to do anything for years. The roof and building structure are in good shape, in excess of code, and it's fully winterized, although the home inspector did say it'd benefit from more insulation in the attic and spray foam insulation in the crawl space around the concrete piers. I'll try to get more and better pictures this weekend for my next update.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Year of Projects Year 6: Week 01

Gavin checking the wind and waves

It's a whole New Year on my knitting calendar, but where to begin? For the past five years I've been knitting the all the patterns in a book, but I fell off the wagon with that last year. Combining Knit. Sock. Love. with the Cookie A Sock Club left me with Cookie A-exhaustion and I just couldn't bring myself to cast on one more pair from her patterns. Maybe this year I need to change up my approach?

So here's the new plan:

one pair of vanilla socks for charity every month. I really enjoy working simple vanilla socks from sock yarn scraps while having a more complicated pattern on the go on a second set of needles. That way if I'm on a train or a bus without a pattern book, I'm covered. And some days (and evenings) I'm just too tired to deal with something "chart-y".

• one pair of fancy socks from a different designer every month. Seemed like I spent last year knitting cuff down socks with twisted rib cuffs, a bunch of travelling stitches and the same old gusset and flap heel construction. Time to change that up! There are sooooo many amazing sock designers out there to try, one pattern at a time. And it'll be nice to tailor my pattern choices to match the yarns that I have and the upcoming birthdays on my calendar, too. Looks like I'll make some progress through my Ravelry favourites this year, rather than a book of patterns!

And that's it. That's the plan. Simple, huh?

Gavin windsurfing at the cottage
It'd help if I actually spent some time knitting though - that hasn't happened in weeks. Work's been crazy busy and so has my home life. Crazy in a good way - we bought a cottage at Lake Erie! Between back and forth with the offers, meetings with lawyers, viewings, moving, cleaning, scrubbing, inventorying and catching up on the yard work, there hasn't been much time to knit. It hasn't all been hard work though, there's been some swimming, hiking, biking and paddle-boarding too! So far, we love it at the Lake. I CANNOT WAIT to retire!

The plan then is to finish the two pairs of socks currently on my needles - Crest and Necker - and then getting going on my list. And when I'm not knitting, look for me in the Lake! It's gonna be a great year I think!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 50

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

No action on Cookie A socks - I'm still obsessed with Op-Art Socks by Stephanie van der Linden! Restless Needles sent me some gorgeous ArtFil Belle Sock Yarn in a beautiful watery blue which I've been saving for just the perfect pattern. And when I saw Crest the decision was made.  It's a fussy, slow-going pattern but the result is just beautiful! Frieda did warn me that there wasn't huge yardage in the skein so I've made good use of the kitchen scale to watch the usage as I knit. No question I would have run short, so after completing the gusset decreases I alternated with a similar yarn from Red Sock Blue Sock until the toe. That should get me through and the difference in the yarns is nearly invisible. Sock one is done and I'm well into the leg of Sock two.

Of course a fussy chart-intensive pattern isn't the best travel knitting, so I've cast on Necker as well in this lovely "Plumberry" colourway from Black Sheep Dyeworks. This yarn was amongst the sock yarn scraps given to me from another Raveller -  and I have two whole skeins! This is a very simple pattern of knits and purls but the effect when worn is quite strikingly architectural. The pattern is knitting up quickly so don't be surprised if these are off the needles by the next update.

And then there's this - the cover pattern from Op-Art Socks is Yaacov which is knit as stranded colourwork from two skeins of a long gradient yarn. You start each ball at a different colour, shifting the gradations of the two balls by working one from the outside and the other from the inside - that way the same colour never comes up at the same time. Ingenious! It's not often I'm shopping for the loudest yarn I can find, but this time I did. I happened across these two balls of Jawoll Magic Dégradé at Yarns Untangled in Kensington Market and snapped them up without hesitation. This should be fun!

Looks like I'm going to busy for the next few weeks!

There are just two weeks left in year 5 of A Year of Projects. We're a group of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry who work towards our yearly goals by making a list and updating our progress weekly on our blogs. It's a friendly group and you're very welcome to join us.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 49

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Good Grief! Is it really 10 weeks since I posted last? I guess that shows how busy things have been! Looks like the next couple of weeks are going to be catch up posts. Although there was no blogging happening, there was still knitting happening and as a result I've got some finishes to show!

I finished the Spring Fair Isle socks in March. The original plan was to complete the heel and foot in solid dark green, but there wasn't enough yarn to do it, so the last several rounds of the foot and the entire toe section were knit in a contrasting light green. That's the thing about knitting with scraps - you just have to make it all work with the yardage you have. And I think the light coloured toes are kinda fun!

Seems I was still in a spring mood after finishing the Fair Isle socks so I pulled out the rest of the green leftovers from the yarn I was given by another Raveller and cast on a pair of Vanilla socks. Don't the greens look nice together! The sandy coloured yarn was a good foil for the greens but it was unpleasant to work with. To put a nice spin on it, that yarn is likely very warm and sturdy. These will be donated to The Warm Hands Network and count as my February socks for my list. (February? Oh my! I really am behind!!)

Next I wanted to do something with 115gr of mustardy yellow yarn that was amongst the donated yarn scraps. With enough yardage to do an entire pair of socks I decided on the pattern Anni from Op-Art Socks. The pattern was inspired by a design called "Yellow Meander" by textile artist Anni Albers so yellow was the perfect choice. It's a really simple pattern of knits and purls but it's really striking when worn. And all those columns and rows make for a very stretchy and comfy sock! I have to admit as well that although I wasn't enthusiastic about this yarn colour it has knit up as a very nice pair of socks and the colour is just fine on my feet! These will also be donated to The Warm Hands Network and count as my March socks for my list.

Also amongst the donated yarn scraps was an entire skein of Tough Love Sock from Sweet Georgia Yarns in a colour way called Sugar Shack. The yarn had been caked and it looked as if something had been started and frogged. The yarn was a short-repeat variegated colourway ranging from undyed natural yarn through purple-reds to brown/blacks and entirely defied every pattern I tried. I tried a vanilla pattern. I tried a slip-stitch pattern. I tried a short row pattern. I tried a combination of slipped stitches and short rows. No luck - the colourway was too busy and too contrasty to suit anything I tried. I considered throwing the yarn in the garbage but couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally I overdyed the yarn with burgundy food colouring to darken the lightest parts of the colourway and reduce the contrast in the variegation, and that worked! I cast on a pair of vanilla-ish 5x1 ribbed socks and knit alternate rounds with other semi-solid berry colours from the yarn scrap bag to break up the pooling. I'm left with enough yarn for a second pair but I really like the first pair so that's not a problem. And these will be donated to The Warm Hands Network too and count as my April socks for my list. (Look at me catching up!!)

You may have noticed  that I haven't spent a minute on any Cookie A patterns from my list in the last two weeks. And I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm much more interested in knitting vanillas socks and patterns from Op-Art Socks these days. In fact I have two pairs of socks on needles now and both are from Op-Art Socks (but more about those next week), so I'm definitely not finishing my YOP list this year. The remaining Knit. Sock. Love. patterns will shift to next year's list and we'll see how that goes. For the balance of next year's list I'm considering a different approach - maybe one pattern from a different independent designer each month and one vanilla pattern for charity? That feels less restrictive to me, and perhaps more do-able!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 38

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Thankfully this week has been a lot more successful than last week!

After repeated soaks and rinses, I was able to get the coffee stains almost entirely out of the baby blanket. After blocking (again) Gavin and I agreed that you'd never find the very faint discolorations unless you knew where to look. And besides, aren't babies messy little miracles? Chances are that young Chad - who was born last Monday  - will add some stains of his own to the blanket with regular use, right? So the blanket was packed up and mailed off. On the morning of his birth his "Oma" sent me a photo of the nursery and there in the crib was the baby quilt that my Mom and I made for his older sister almost ten years ago!

While knitting my second BFF sock at work, a co-worker admired sock one and tried it on. Glory be, it fit her! Good enough for me. Sock two has been completed, and I'll hand off the finished pair on Tuesday - finished with just a couple of yards to spare. There would NEVER have been enough yardage to make a pair of socks to fit my size 11 feet. Not a chance.

As promised I ripped Twisted Flower  back to the cuff and restarted the leg patterning. But that's about as far as I got. Seems like there weren't enough hours in the day to get any knitting done from Wednesday on!

And did I mention that my Ludwig socks were done? Yeah, they've been done for quite a while - I'm just now getting around to photographing and blogging them. I've already worn them and washed them :) Nothing like knitting and wearing Lorna's Laces to remind you as to why it's known to be the "cadillac of sock yarns". It is really gorgeous stuff!

On Friday morning I stumbled across a thread on Ravelry titled "Free to GTA Knitters" and, wow, a local knitter was destashing and giving away oodles of gorgeous yarn absolutely free. I was a bit late to the thread so most of the full skeins were spoken for, but there was a large lot of partial skeins of fingering weight sock yarn still up for grabs. I was on that in a hurry! Along with a handful of other Ravellers,  I met Annie of "JumperCables" at a Starbucks about 20 minutes from home to pick up my loot. She has awesome taste in yarn so I made out like a bandit. And, she kindly added a couple of full skeins to top up my haul so I'm rolling in yarn for the foreseeable future!

There were several shades of solid and tonal greens amongst the partial skeins so I decided to cast on a vanilla sock with a Fair Isle leg pattern. The patterns are from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting - aren't they gorgeous? I'm switching up the CC colour every round or two and loving the effect. And I'm already musing about how the next pair might look if I switch up the MC and the CC every few rounds. I'm a huge fan of Alice Stanmore's sweater patterns - although I've never knit one - so I thought to try working the patterns and colour choices into socks. Fun! This might be my next obsession.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 37

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

Things went off the rails with Twisted Flower when I noticed a split stitch in a cable and decided to tink back to fix it. Easier said than done with darkish splitty yarn on tiny needles and a million tiny cables. In fact, I'm about to cry "Uncle" and rip back to the cuff to start over. This yarn is CoBaSi - a cotton, bamboo and silk blend - so is a bit splitty straight away. After salvaging it by frogging Darjeeling socks it got splittier and will likely be even splittier after another round of frogging. I might need to use lifelines to get through these socks! CRAP!

Never mind, I thought, I'll put that aside for a bit and cast on something else for instant gratification.  And what could be more quick and gratifying than a simple classic sock like BFF from a really luxurious yarn like Tosh Sock? So imagine my frustration when I discovered the yarn was badly frayed after knitting more than a dozen rounds. Okay, that's not insurmountable. But after knitting ten repeats of the leg I realized that there wasn't nearly enough yardage to knit the leg (or the foot) long enough to fit me. CRAP! That IS insurmountable. Short of adding a contrasting yarn my only choice was to knit a smaller sock, so that's what I did. Sock one is 55 grams, with 55 grams remaining for sock two so I should just squeak through. This finished pair will be donated to charity.

But the biggest disaster of my knitting week happened on Wednesday morning when I dropped and shattered my coffee mug splashing boiling hot coffee across a large area of my living room. Last week's finished baby blanket was sitting on the ottoman awaiting a nice box for packaging and shipping to the expectant mother, and it was splashed with coffee. The stained blanket has been soaked. It's had repeated baths alternating dish detergent water and vinegar water. It's soaking one more time now. The stains are hardly noticeable now, but if they still remain I'll try commercial laundry stain removers this afternoon. And if all that fails, it looks like I'll be bleaching it white. CRAP!

So that's been my week. I'm almost afraid to do anything or touch anything else. They say bad luck comes in threes - and I've had my three - so maybe it's safe. Here's hoping next week is less disastrous :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 36

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Over the last several days the blanket border was knit on 4 circulars, making it hard to visualize off the needles. Late Thursday, once the final stitch was bound off I was excited to spread it out to see the finished blanket. But excitement switched to dismay and disappointment in a heartbeat - the borders were lumpy and distorted the centre panel. Oh no!

My first instinct was to rip it out and start over with another pattern. "You're nuts", said Gavin, "it looks fine." Hmmmmm.... maybe a clear head and fresh eyes were needed? I consoled myself by setting the blanket aside and cruising through alternative patterns on Ravelry, just in case.

The next morning I wasn't quite as unhappy with the blanket. There were some parts of it that I was happy with, and folded this way and that, it didn't look bad. And maybe, just maybe, I'd like it more after blocking? Yes, let's wash it, dry it and then decide.

Note to self: never underestimate the miracle of blocking. A trip through the wash was just the ticket to relax the borders and smooth out all the lumpiness. The blanket now drapes beautifully! Phew! I am soooooo much happier with it now!

A couple of things I should mention:

• the yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima. It is a dream to knit and after blocking it drapes beautifully - there is no woolly springiness to it! If you use this yarn though, do take time to block your FO. Not just to smooth it out, open it up and improve the drape, but also because it shed an astonishing amount of lint on that first wash!

• as written, the spindle cables were meant to continue to the corners and be incorporated into the increases but I chose to leave the corner sections as plain stockinette. My thinking was that they would finish more square and less ruffly. I think with this yarn I could have gone either way, but I like the look of it nonetheless.

• as written, the pattern calls for a decorative picot bind off. After working several inches of that I decided to rip back and change the bind off. In cotton the picots just seemed awkwardly lumpy. I looked through a variety of bind off options shown here, but in the end decided to simply bind off in pattern. I didn't want it ruffled, I didn't want it fussy, I didn't want it too tight and I didn't want it to detract from the spindle cables. I'm happy with that decision too.

• my intention was to knit a square blanket and I wrongly assumed that there would be more ease/drape in the length than in the width. Boy was I ever wrong! The blanket stretched considerably more in the width than the length with blocking and my resulting blanket is very rectangular (44" x 36"). It might have been a teensy bit nicer as a perfectly square blanket, but at least now it's so rectangular that it looks intentionally rectangular. I can live with that.

And yes, the blanket's done before my cousin's baby is due! Hurray! Tomorrow I'll package it up and send it off :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 35

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

Almost the entirety of last week has been lost in a sniffy sneezy flu-filled coma. Not a single stitch has been added to any sock project. Trying to knit from charts makes my head pound.

The only project that's seen any progress is this blanket for my cousin's baby, due mid March. The centre stockinette square is complete - although I abbreviated it to a slightly rectangular shape to leave enough yarn to complete the borders. As you can imagine, with 620+ stitches in each round, border progress is slooooooow. Slow but steady wins the race though, right?

The good news is that I'm emerging from the fog of illness. My temperature was nearly normal all day yesterday and today, so far, I'm fever-free! The bad news is that Gavin is showing signs of coming down with the same thing. So it's soup and hot liquids for the foreseeable future around here. And lots of blanket knitting!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 34

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January  February • March • April • May • June

I've cast on the first sock for Twisted Flower but that's as far as I got. Instead I've been dividing my knitting time between Ludwig socks and a baby blanket.

The baby's due soon (my cousin's baby just to clarify; I'm waaaay too old for that sort of thing), but the pima cotton is very slippery on metal needles and my hands get sore after a handful of rows, so it's slow progress with a little more knit each morning and evening.

Ludwig, on the other hand, has been a breath of fresh air!

It's a wonderful thing when the yarn and the pattern play well together and I'm loving every minute of that! The flamingo pinks might be overwhelming on their own, but alternating with natural white stripes they're bright and fresh. I was a bit worried that there wasn't enough contrast between the light pinks and the natural white, but with one sock done I think the stripes hold up pretty well. I'm thrilled with how these socks are knitting up!

And how refreshing to try some new construction techniques!

The cuff is knit on fewer stitches than the leg - a row of increases is worked to start the leg. As a result the ribbing of the cuff is nicely opened up and snugly stretched around the calf. Similarly a row of decreases starts the toe box to keep the toe area nice and snug. Speaking of the toe, the decreases accelerate so that the toe is more rounded than the shape created by steady decreases every alternate round. Either shape works fine with my long pointy toes, but for those with daintier toes the more rounded shape might be preferable.

Rather than slipping stitches on each side of the heel flap to pick up later, those are garter ridges that are picked up. The result is tighter in my opinion - sometimes the slipped stitches can look a bit loose and stretched open.

The gusset decreases travel across the bottom of the heel and foot to converge at the centre of the sole. I've never seen this before, but it is a nice way to keep the stripes in order. It might be what's known as a "tear drop heel" but I'm not sure. It's very cool looking though!

A big thank you goes out to Dee at Pointy Little Sticks. The pink Lorna's Laces sock yarn was a gift from her, and it was this yarn that inspired my to buy the book Op-Art Socks especially for the Ludwig pattern. I've been enjoying the yarn and the pattern book tremendously! In fact, I'm already poking through my yarn basket to see what might suit some of the other patterns in the book!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Year of Projects 5: Week 33

KNIT. SOCK. LOVE. : BFF • Clandestine • Cusp • German Stockings • Gothic Spire • Hedera • In and Out • Lissajous • Marilinda • Mona • Monkey • Pointelle • Rhombus  Sake • Stalagmite • Stricken • Thelonious  Twisted Flower • Wedge

COOKIE A SOCK CLUB: June #1 • June #2 • August #1 • August #2 • October #1 • October #2 • December #1 • December #2 

VANILLA SOCKS FOR CHARITY: July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May • June

As of last night my Thelonious socks are done, and they are disappointingly non-matching. To be fair I've known since I started sock two that they wouldn't match - sock one started with a kelly green and sock two started with a dark mallard greenish-teal -  but I thought that was a gradient sock yarn cake thing. I thought that if I started sock one with the yarn tail on the outside of the cake and if I started sock two with the yarn tail on the inside of the cake, that the resulting pair of sock were supposed to match.

Not only do they not match, but as far as I can detect there would be no way for me to make them match, even if I had enough yarn to attempt it. I'll admit, I'm a bit bugged by that.

Que sera, sera. The socks are done with about 2 grams of yarn leftover. And they're really nice socks, if you can embrace the non-matchyness of them. I'm especially pleased by the length of the leg. Seems to me that Cookie A tends towards shorter legs in her designs than I like. In addition, the sample knits in the book Knit. Sock. Love. are typically knit at the smallest size, which can lead to unexpected results at larger sizes. In this case the leg was unexpectedly long at the medium size -  a happy outcome in my opinion!

Still no update on the yarn scratchiness. This finished pair is in the laundry pile - we'll see if they soften up with a wash or two. I'm not worried though; to me the yarn feels just like Briggs & Little Toughy before a first wash, so I have every confidence that a few washes and wears will be the cure for what ails them!

So what's next? The next Knit. Sock. Love. pattern I'll cast on is Twisted Flower.  Yes, I'm definitely in the mood for an intricate twisted stitches design. There's some CoBaSi sock yarn to be salvaged by frogging the Darjeeling socks I knit last year which should give me exactly the stitch definition I'm after with this pattern. But before I get to that, there are a couple other projects requiring my attention for the next week or two. With the better part of two days left on my long weekend and with temps of -25° keeping me inside the house, there should be lots of progress for my next update!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

what was I thinking?

For the last few days, when I'm not knitting socks, I'm working on a baby blanket for an expectant Mom in my extended family. And wondering with every stitch about my decision-making ...

THE PATTERN: I looked at dozens of patterns but kept coming back to Sleeping Beauty Baby Blanket. I love the simplicity of it with its large centre stockinette square, seed stitch borders and ruffled cabled edges. Okay, that's the one. But if you look at the project notes there are numerous red flags about the stitch counts in the borders and the corners not adding up. And then there's that 4 square foot panel of stockinette... well that's gonna be a test of my patience and determination!!

THE YARN: Although the pattern is written for worsted weight I definitely wanted a much lighter blanket, easy to pack and carry, and which would be suitable for swaddling a baby when carried, sun-blocking a carriage or stroller when out on the town and possibly even as nursing shawl. So sport weight or DK I thought.

Another consideration was that many of the Ravellers who knit this blanket mentioned blocking their FOs quite aggressively to keep those borders from scrunching up. In light of that, I wasn't sure about a superwash wool. Hailey at Knit-o-matic suggested Pima Cotton rather than wool as it would be more inclined to drape and relax - that sounds right, so that's the yarn. Other Ravellers who used the same yarn used 4-5 skeins so I bought the last five skeins of this colour and set about casting on.

THE CAST ON: The first instruction is to cast on 120 sts provisionally. Well that makes sense seeing as I'm going to need to pickup those stitches later to add the borders, but my go-to provisional cast on is crocheted and it's really not quick. Never mind, I thought, I'll suck it up, but after casting on all those stitches and after knitting half a dozen rows I decided it was too small.

* deep breath * Yes I ripped out all of that in order to start again with 160 sts. But this time I decided to hunt around on the internet for a better, quicker more painless provisional cast on option. SCORE! This long-tail provisional cast on is way faster and easier.  So that's settled and I'm on my way.

... but remember: I bought the last five skeins of this colour and then turned around and increased the size of the blanket by a third. Yep, this entire blanket is going to be an extended session of yarn chicken. * sigh *