Monday, July 16, 2012

Hot stuff

Whew! Patio knitting was curbed by the heat and the rain. It's like a jungle out there now. I did push on and finish Shogun though. It bloomed like a jungle flower.

The pattern was fun because it was interesting, yet simple to remember and the color play just keeps going. Because I used a 4mm needle, instead of the recommended 5mm, I worked 4 extra repeats for a total of 14. The finished dimensions are 77x16 inches. So a little longer than the original, and not quite as wide.

The finished project weighs about 142 grams. I had two small leftover skeins of Noro sock yarn and almost one full one.

This is likely to be a gift for someone who's not afraid of color. I think it would make a lively addition to a winter wardrobe. It was refreshing to me. Now I can go back to all those boring blue knits in the queue and find them cool and wonderful again.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sound familiar?

I've said some of these. How about you?

Hooray for Friday! I'll be on my patio with my knitting. I hope you've all got a shady corner and a fun project to while away the summer weekend with.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spinning Proud

My spinning has turned out some beautiful yarns lately. First there was this 11oz of Fat Cat Knits merino.

It's a 2-ply, and I just let the colors fall where they may. The yarn is smooshy and soft and about 900 yards of a worsted weight. I'm thinking of working it into either a shawl, part of a vest or the yoke of a sweater.

Then I spun an almost perfect sock yarn. I say perfect, because it looks like Zauberball to me. It's superwash Cheviot from Dyeabolical. I saw the review in Knitty and just had to have it. Don't regret it either.

It feels a bit like plastic when drafting, very slick, probably because it's superwash. And it's not a soft fiber, at all. I spun a true 3-ply.

To divide the fiber I held it up, folded in three and then split it. I weighed each hank and added or subtracted as needed. Then, during spinning, I worked one third straight from the roving. The second third I split 2 or 3 times, and the third I split down a lot. It's giving me some interesting striping in the knitted socks.

 My dad has dibs on these, since the handspun pair I knit him for Christmas were too small and went to my mom. He's already tried on the sock in the picture above and it fit fine so I'm well on my way. He's very much looking forward to them. And I don't mind giving them away because I've another 4 oz of this fiber to spin and I'm looking forward to that!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Siezed by the throat

Shogun was just released this month and I had to have it. I cast on Friday night and I'm almost halfway done, noon on Sunday.

It's loud and I love it. This is art, playing with the colors, putting the oddest combos together just cause I like them. Some of these odd colors will come back and improve the cohesiveness of it.  I look forward to seeing it done.

I don't like Kureyon sock yarn for socks, so I'm delighted to have this project to use up my leftovers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First World Problems

We're are weighted down with first-world problems around here.

I just finished this traditional Icelandic shawl, using authentic Icelandic laceweight yarn:

But it's too small and now I don' t know what to do with it. Put it in the box of potential knit-gifts I suppose. It's too bad, it's so pretty.  I think I may have to knit it again, only larger:

I was working my new yarn into socks. While I do plan to make the Delft Blue socks Jody, I started in on the Fresh Breeze pair first. I bought enough yarn for both, plus there should be enough black for a third pair from the Around the World in Knitted Socks book.

This sock went into timeout for a bit because I needed length in the foot and couldn't decide how to proceed with the colors. As you can see, I resolved that issue and now I'm almost done the first sock. But while they were in timeout, I finished some socks for Jim:

Again, from Around the World in Knitted Socks, these are It's Tea Time, but I modifed the heel details less fussy. My knit buddies tell me that their guys wouldn't wear these socks, but Jim is very happy with them. And they've got cashmere in them.

He won't be wearing them for a while though, it's getting warm and sunny again.

I've got so many exciting projects and ideas, I almost don't know what to knit. Jim is very sympathetic. He's got too many interesting video games these days.  First world problems, am I right?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Road Trip Report

Thanks for your kind thoughts yesterday. Jim is beginning to see a pattern to his "episodes" of illness. It's rather fascinating what patterns emerge when you start to really track what's going on. He was out with his friends on Friday night and told them that he was wearing a wire, so they'd better watch what they say.

The road trip was a great success and a wonderful escape. I've got just a few pictures to share, so hang on to your hand knitted socks...

We toured the mill at Wellington Fibres, which was a clean well lit facility. They are quite clever in using solar power to heat their water for washing fibre, and in recycling that water as heating, by pumping it under the floor of the mill and barns. How green!

Our tour guide is the son of the owner (Kevin I think), who loves his job, but confessed that he doesn't knit. I told him he ought to and he replied "That's what my mother keeps telling me."

Here he's showing us how they put together cleaned, picked and dyed fiber to create their rovings for hand spinners.

And here it comes out the other end, ready for a turn at the wheel:

Wellington Fibres dyes their own, in the fleece for hand spinning and as yarn for knitting.  Doesn't this look like a fun place to play?

After the mill, we checked out the kids.

And their moms:

It's wonderful to see the bearers of the fiber, but I'm glad I'm not a goat farmer. And that's all I've got to say about that.

The store at Wellington Fibres was as tempting as you could wish. With four people in my car, I left with a trunk load. Only this was for me: red hot, 50/50 mohair/wool blend. My eyes will bleed when I spin this!

And the most royal skeins for color work:

I"m not sure if they'll be mittens or socks yet. 
After that, it was high time for lunch. We went to Cora's in Waterloo, cause everyone loves breakfast so we could all agree on that. Then it was on to Shall We Knit? for further retail therapy. 

Dare I confess? I did buy more yarn.  I love the socks in the book Around the World in Knitted Socks but there are a few patterns that I think require quite specific colors in order to re-create their charm. So I bit the bullet and bought the yarn:

Now, can you guess the pattern?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Down, not out

I've been spinning and knitting, but not blogging because there's been some worrisome health concerns in my family of late. My lovely mother-in-law is getting frail at 88. We spent last Saturday at the hospital with her and her whole family is pitching in to take good care of her. In spite of her health issues, she's about finished her sweater. I'll have to get seaming soon. I hope she'll be wearing it in good health next winter but I'm worried she won't.

And Jim's been feeling under the weather too, but there's no obvious reason. He's wearing a cardiac event monitor for a couple of weeks to try and gather more info. He's got two electrodes glued to his chest and the recorder hanging around his neck. I've been calling him my bionic man. 

It's hard to write for the blog when stuff like this goes on. Everyone is mostly OK, but one's mind does run on. I'm just grateful we live in Canada where all these medical expenses are covered. They're not free though. Last weekend I did up my taxes. Ouf.

But tomorrow, oh boy! Going on a road trip tomorrow to see the baby goats at Wellington Fibres annual open house. I hope it doesn't rain. There may be some fiber therapy. Actually some MORE fiber therapy. Since it's not a proper blog post without a picture, here's what came in the mail for me yesterday:

I blame Knittyspin since it was their review of Dyeabolical's superwash Cheviot that sent me shopping. I'm planning to spin some really awesome sock yarn with this.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Quick Like a Bunny

I needed a quick gift for my nephew, who is coming to visit for Easter along with his two sisters. The girls are getting lovely shawls, but what kind of knit do you give to a thirteen-year-old boy?

How about some sporty, durable, fingerless mitts? I think these will fit the bill:

I couldn't be happier with how these turned out. I love to do plug and play knitting. They were started on Thursday evening and finished within 24 hours. I wrote up a rough pattern on Ravelry, in case you want to see how it was done.

I've also finished my mother-in-law's socks, so she'll be sporting some very bright feet on Easter Sunday:

That's it for obligatory knitting, now I'm off to play!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Feeling young

I've been just gripped by my knitting lately. Spring freed me from the tyranny of winter's sweater knitting and I've been rocking out on the small, quick projects.

Here's Sunrise on Echo Beach all finished up:

This was  a fun and easy knit, that worked perfectly with the variegated colors of the Handmaiden yarn. I highly recommend it.

Then in a fit of inspiration, I cast on a little shawlette called Crowning Glory. Started on Thursday, finished Monday morning, this was equally addictive and fun.

I ran out of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn and couldn't find any more of the same color, so I used some left over Kureyon sock yarn from the stash that had similar colors in the same saturation. Can you tell where the transition is?

I don't have a dress form, but doesn't the lap shade make a nice place holder for shoulders?

I intend to give both these knits to my nieces, who are 15 and 13. I think they'll enjoy the colors and fun shapes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First Time

I washed some fleece this weekend. 

It all started at knit night, when Isa brought it some Shetland fleece she'd got for free. Another spinner in the group and myself each took a bit home. I've never washed fleece before, so I figured that this was a risk free opportunity.

Man, that thing was gamey! I'm told that the sheep's owner just dumped the fleece in a garbage bag and had just pulled out a hunk. I have no idea what part of the sheep it came from, or if it had even been skirted. It had dirt in it and hay and other bits that I didn't want to inspect too closely, so I just washed the whole dang thing as it was.

I did 3 super hot washes with detergent and two hot rinses. It was fascinating to watch the lanolin just ooze off the wool in the first hot wash. It's the brown goo on the left side of the picture.

I left the wool in the mesh bag to dry, hanging off a fence post. The day was warm, with a slight breeze and it didn't take long for the little bit of fiber to dry out. As I picked over it, I could still see dung, and hay, and brown round things that I suspect are either insect eggs, or seeds. There was also still clumps of grease in it. I don't think it was my fault. I used super hot water, supplementing the tap water with a kettleful of boiling water from the stove. I also used a ton of detergent.

I found a bit that was as clean as possible, combed it and spun it. It wasn't too bad.

I might want to try this again. But if I do, I'll want to start off with a fleece that I know more about.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Failing Gracefully

A graceful fail is what you want your software to do. For example, instead of giving me the blue screen of death, when an application on my iPad fails, it just closes and the device remains in a working condition. I've been failing recently, and I'm trying to muster the grace to do it right.

I knit a Daybreak, but amended the pattern to use someone else's handspun. It sat around waiting for a cast off for a while because I ran out of yarn. Of course. Because it's handspun and not even my own. What did I expect.

Still, I like the finished project and it hugs the shoulders very nicely. It's just not in my colors so I'll hang on to it until it tells me who it belongs too.

This week, I also finished a pair of stranded color work socks. The pattern, Bird Foot by Robyn Gallimore, is a lot of fun to work, and not so terribly difficult, but... I managed to fail.

I finished the first sock, but it was a bit small. I worked the second sock to the same number of pattern repeats as the first, then added extra rows of plain grey before starting the toe shaping. I tried them on when done and discovered that they were the same size as the first pair. My mind boggled and at this point, I had no grace. I chucked them across the room. 

The next night, I tried them both on and sure enough, the were both just a wee bit too small for about the same amount. I still can't quite figure how I did that, but then I noticed a big goof on the top of the foot. See it?

At that point, I decided it was time for some grace. I meekly darned in the ends and called them done. Now I won't look at them until next winter, because my god! the weather suddenly flipped into spring. We've been enjoying weather like we usually don't see until May. I've cast aside my Kauni wool sweater project along with my winter boots and cast on a silky, summery stole that I knit on the patio today wearing my flip flops. 

Gorgeous! And the name of the pattern is Echo Beach. How appropriate!

Monday, March 05, 2012

On the Mend

This has been the most stubborn, dastardly cold I've had in quite some time. Each time I thought I was feeling better, I would do a bit of stuff, like clean up a winter's accumulation of dog leavings before they thaw, and whomp! I'd be reduced to an exhausted puddle again. Today I feel like I've finally turned the corner. As well I might considering that I took to my bed for the entire weekend (figuratively, I was actually on the couch).

My constant companion through this awful time has been Spectra. It required little mental effort, yet provided entertainment and fun. I hope it will warm the neck of my youngest son, the Renaissance man I call him. He has expressed interest, and even declared it cool. So maybe some good will come of my being sick.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sick, Boom, Bleh

Not the best week for yours truly. I got sick, yes, with the sore throat and the tender noggin and the sniffly slimey yech.

And my 3mm Addi Turbo lace needle broke. This needle was in my bright Kauni cardigan, which was all the way up to the neck shaping when I was so rudely interrupted by the failure of my tools. Not that I'm blaming the Addi. I put a lot of stress on that cable, pushing around far too many stitches on a too short cord.

Well, that's fine. What with the sick and all, I wasn't in the right frame of mind to work on neck shaping and short row shoulders in the round. What I was in the mood for was some Stephen West. Pretty colors and yarn, shown off with some simple magic in the knitting. I've almost finished a Daybreak, but I don't have enough yarn for the cast off, and now must rip. And I had ten wedges of a Spectra, but this morning I decided that the gauge was too loose and that I didn't like the proportions of the neutral to the colors. So that got ripped this morning. Oh bleh.

That's why there's no pictures today my pets. Go visit Ravelry and Stephen West. He'll keep you entertained for a good long while.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Something to Strive For

Its a long weekend in Ontario. Family day is a new holiday for us, so we don't have any traditions for it at our house. This year we decided to dedicate the long weekend to serious relaxation, which for this family means we are mostly together in our solitary pursuits: video games, TV, reading, spinning and knitting. We did dedicate an hour this morning to cleaning the house. SOME people complained (those under twenty), but the rest of us (those of us with real jobs) thought that one hour was nothing out of a whole weekend.

A new pair of socks has come to live with us, making Jim's feet pretty happy:

Rascally things. More pictures and details on Ravelry.

One of the reasons I like spinning is because I want to use yarn that no one else has. Yarn that other people may covet, but can never get. I remember at the K-W Knitter's Fair one year, admiring a woman's shawl and asking her what the yarn was. The shawl was deep green at the edge and gradually faded to pure white at the top. She replied that it was her handspun and when she saw my disappointed face, she laughed and told me that I would just have to learn how. At the time, it seemed an unattainable goal.

Well, it finally happened for me. At Friday night knitting someone was watching me work on these socks and she said in just that tone "Where did you get that yarn?" I was very naughty because I replied smugly "It's my hand spun."

And, I have finally gotten comfortable doing long draw! I had such a mental block on this technique, but now I can do it with one hand. Sweet. I'm just plying my floofy, chunky yarn and I feel ready to try something finer next time. There's some (if you call 19oz some) Shetland in the stash calling to me...

In other news, my mother-in-law is still trucking on her sweater. She's decided to tackle the shaping herself. Hooray! I may have whined a bit about work being stressful and wanting to knit my own projects. But I honestly believe it will be good for her to puzzle it out and I totally believe she is capable of it. She has knit many a sweater in her day. Besides, I'll be there once a week to hold her hand. And don't we all need something to strive for?

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Contrary to popular opinion of black being THE best color for a cool hat for boys, my son picked this iridescent yarn by Caper sock yarn called Didgeridoo. I worked the Windschief pattern using two strands  held together which gave me a smooshy fabric with out any of the pooling typical to a sock yarn. Instead, it bended together into this:

And the result? The boy loves the hat! He wore it to school and when I asked him how his hat was he said "Fine." Which is high praise from a 15 and a half year old boy. He even modeled it for me for pictures

Cute eh? Except his brother and best friend both told him he looked like a hipster. Alex didn't seem to mind that much. Also, notice the sweater vest? He got that for Christmas and hasn't stopped wearing it since.  I see a possible opening to put a knit vest on this kid....

In other news, I spun some beautiful yarn. A merino silk blend, this was the yarn I was planning to make up into a cool hat, but Alex choose the other yarn. I'm not disappointed, because I get to keep this for myself.

It's a three ply with lots of loft and softness. I was aiming for a worsted weight and I think I may have hit the mark, though I'd have to swatch to know for sure.

And, I also picked up some light reading at Cotton-by-Post:

I pre-ordered the book, so I only paid 35 bucks which I think is a steal. It has the heft of a university tome, but the writing is not nearly so heavy. June writes in a clear and light manner. I was sifting through it and found myself sucked in, learning this and that. Perfect reading material for a snow February Sunday.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Reporting on the backlog

Hello bloggies! It's been too long. Work has been keeping me at the computer and so in my down time, I stay away from it. But this weekend was me-time. I've been to a knit group, a spin group and just now finished updating my Ravelry projects. Whew! Was I ever behind.

Some things will never be documented I'm afraid. A couple pairs of socks and two scarves have been released into the wild and are not likely to be photographed. But I've rounded up some of the more interesting knits for you to see.

Luke requested another pair of fingerless gloves to replace his worn out pair. He wears these constantly as you can see from the rumpled fingers and pilling on the hands:

We both love the colored cuff, a design from More Sensational Socks, and the bright yarn is Cascade Heritage. But next time, I'll find a really durable yarn for the hands. This cheap black sock yarn shouldn't have pilled up so soon.

I'm also on the hunt for a hat for Alex. He never wears the hand knits but this winter he has permitted me the honour of knitting him a "cool" hat. My first attempt was Kittiwake, also in cheap sock yarn:

Yes, that's Jim doing the modeling. Apparently it wasn't cool enough. Windschief will be my next attempt and I'm currently spinning a silk/wool blend for it. I may be investing too much effort in this project. Can you imagine if he rejects a handspun, handknit hat? Or worse yet, LOOSES it?! Still, I'll carry on. This is the first time in a long time the boy has let me show my love with handknits.

Most recently off the wheel was this 3-ply sock yarn:

I love it lots. Oh, it has it's faults, but I'm really curious to see how the colors knit up. But I hid it away from myself for a while so I could get my Christmas sweater finished off.

Yep, I'm that happy with it and I wear it all the time. It's just a comfy pullover in lovely colors. What more do you want?

Apparently what I want is a challenge. Small gauge, more color, and the niggling doubt in the back of my head that I'm really knitting a clown suit.