Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Stitching and Stuff

I finished stitching and beading the Holly 'n Hardanger Christmas ornament.
I have an urge to do a couple more stitching projects - just for some variety. I find the ornaments stitch up quickly which is quite satisfying. By next Christmas I should have a whole bunch of them and perhaps I could give some of them as gifts.

This evening I finished the left front of the Cassidy cardigan and have blocked it to make sure it will fit me.
I made it 2 inches longer than the pattern calls for. There is shaping for the waist so it should look nicely fitted. This Cascade 220 Heathers is wonderful to work with. I have heard, however, that it is being discontinued. What a bummer.

The pattern calls for a hood, but I think I'm just going to knit a collar and put the cables on the other side of it so when the collar is folded down, the cables will show nicely.Here's kalamazoo's hoodless Cassidy. I really like how her collar turned out.
I've charted the sleeves, right front and back which will make it easier to knit. I really don't like jumping from Chart B to Chart A to Chart F, etc. I'm more of a visual learner.
I also replaced my netbook with a nifty Acer Aspire One D255. The tipping point was that it had a dual core Intel processor and was on sale at a place where I get a 10% rebate (Staples). It looks like a full-sized laptop except it only has a 10.1" screen and weighs just over a kilogram.
Yesterday I responded to a request on the Yahoo Socknitter's group for a test knitter. I heard back from Jaden who lives in Köln, Germany and she hopes to send me a .pdf of what she has done on the written pattern so far. She recommends sock yarn with wide bands of colour and thought KnitPicks Chroma sock yarn would work well. Evidently the pattern has optional holes (like lace) which would make the pattern suitable for both men and women. I look forward to receiving the pattern.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Trillium Embroidery Guild

At last week's embroidery guild meeting, several people brought some of their finished pieces to display.

We've watched this Victorian winter piece in various stages of progress over the past year or so.
This 'flasher' Santa has lots of nice things inside his coat. I like the little charms.
Here's a nicely finished Hardanger piece.
There's lots of detail in this orchid piece.
Before I became obsessed with knitting, I was an obsessive cross-stitcher. I've been looking back in my Christmas ornament issues of Just Cross Stitch for projects that would work up fairly quickly. I'm particularly interested in Hardanger pieces that I would have passed over before I learned this technique.

One project I'm working on is the Holly 'n Hardanger ornament from the JCS 2005 Christmas ornaments issue.
The Hardanger in the centre worked up really quickly - maybe 3/4 of an hour during the guild meeting last Wednesday. The cross-stitching is slower as there are lots of 1/4 and 3/4 stitches. I'll just keep knocking off the holly leaves then will be able to do the back-stitching. Next will be the Rhodes hearts and finally the beadwork. It's a lot of work for an ornament but I think it will look very nifty when it's done. Then I'll have the dilemma of how I'll finish it.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Knitting Friends

I received lovely gifts in the past couple of weeks from two of my knitting friends.

Mo gave me this neat pair of socks she knit with Zauberball yarn. I think they look like chocolate point Siamese cat colours.
Last Wednesday Jennifer gave me this lovely, lace alpaca neck warmer and the pattern that she had knit. It's Storm Water by indigodragonfly.
It is wonderfully soft. Yesterday I put it on to go to band rehearsal (the school gym we rehearse in is always FREEZING) and never took it off 'til changing for bed. I'm going to be getting myself some of this KnitPicks Andean Treasure alpaca yarn. It is SO nice against the skin and very squishy.

What is really special about this is that Jennifer has taken some of my knitting classes, including lace knitting, and now she has knit ME a lace neck warmer!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Learning Something New

Today I was reading the Happiness Is Cross Stitching blog and noted her wonderful photo collages of her finished items. She mentioned that she did it using Picasa, a free, downloadable photo editing program that I've been using for a couple of years. Of course, I just had to make some collages of my own.

Here are the shawls that I knit last year. (click on collage for a clearer image)
These are the mittens and gloves I cranked out.
And these are some of the socks that I knit.
I learning new stuff!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Blocking, Lightning and Teaching

My knitting/spinning friend, Mo, recently finished Frankie Brown's 10 Stitch Blanket using several balls of Noro Silk Garden yarn. I blocked it for her and it turned out beautifully!
It blocked out to 41" x 41". She was going to give it away but since she saw how nicely it turned out after blocking, she doesn't want to part with it. I love blocking stuff!

One of Frankie Brown's patterns that I really want to do is the Lightning Shawl. It requires 250g of fingering weight yarn. It would be awesome in the Zauberball yarn but I've already knit a scarf from the colourway I like the best so I think I'll do it in the new KnitPicks Chroma fingering yarn. Now my dilemma is trying to decide on the colourway I want to use.

Yesterday I taught a class on Lucy Neatby's "Sea Lettuce".
In spite of the falling snow, 3 out of the 5 who intended to come actually made it to the class.

Lucy's patterns are very detailed but a lot of people like to have someone actually show them new techniques so I demonstrated her crocheted provisional cast-on and her modified conventional bind-off and got my students started on the short row wedges which form the first part of the scarf.
Any provisional cast-on will do for this project. It allows the cast-on stitches to be picked up and knit in the opposite direction. However, to me, the crocheted cast-on Lucy recommends is more efficient and easier to execute than the one where one crochets a chain with waste yarn and then starts knitting into the bumps in the back of the crocheted stitches. With that technique, it is very easy to split the waste yarn which makes it really hard to 'unzip' the waste yarn later.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Pull Up Your Socks!

I'm joining a sock-knitting KAL for my LYS, Kniterary. We are aiming to knit one sock a month or six pairs of socks over the entire year. Finishing a UFO sock started in a previous year also counts. Now, I started these Kroy Jacquards socks in December but I finished the second sock (lower left below) in January so here's the first of the 12 I'm going to knit this year.
Last night at the knitting guild meeting these two projects were particularly interesting. Cindy finished her beautiful shawl. I believe it's the Leaf Lace and Ripple Lace patterns from Evelyn A. Clark's pattern book, "Knitting Lace Triangles".
But Sharion's cottage country cardigan of many colours blew me away.
She designed it herself and used innumerable colours of yarn. She has a formula for designing a sweater for a perfect fit. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the class she'll be teaching on this subject.

I just noticed a cool thing - on the bottom right of my photos I see my name now appears. I'm not sure at what step this occurs in the process of uploading photos into my computer and processing them in Picasa in preparation of putting them here on the blog, but I think it's cool!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

My 2011 Sweater Project

I have decided to knit an adult sweater each year. A couple of years ago I knit the Must Have Cardigan.Last year I knit myself the Icelandic Star.
Last month, I finished the Dale of Norway St. Moritz sweater.
Last night I cast on the October Frost sweater from Lisa Lloyd's "A Fine Fleece".
I don't like knitting swatches but understand the necessity of knitting to gauge when knitting a fitted item such as a sweater. So when I'm trying to determine the proper gauge, I just start knitting one of the fronts. I knew my gauge with 5mm needles with the Cascade 220 was 16st = 4". However, the cabling pulls the fabric in so I decided to go up one pattern size to have enough width without having to block the bejeepers out of the sweater to get adequate width. Once I determined the gauge, I already had the right front's ribbing and half of a pattern repeat done. So I just carried on.

The ribbing was supposed to be 4" long. I ended it after 2 1/2" as I was eager to start the pattern. The cables aren't that inspiring but the chart is great! The entire 32 stitch cable pattern is all graphed eliminating the need to jump from chart to chart to complete one row.

In fact, if all things work out well, in the future I would use these sweater dimensions as a template and just insert my own preferred cable patterns.

This will be my first time knitting a saddle shoulder. Some people on Ravelry who like to avoid seams, knit the sleeves first and then picked up the shoulder stitches and knit the fronts and back down from there. This is also something I would consider in the future. However, I got some excellent finishing instruction a couple of years ago and now am not put off by having to sew up seams. Strangely, this pattern has the knitter do the k1 selvage stitch for the centre front but not for the side seam. I'm not sure why but I've done it on both sides anyway to make it easier for me to sew the pieces together.

Others who have knit this pattern have observed that there is quite a bit of bulk under the arms with this design. I'll see how I like it once I'm done.

Last night I got a couple of repeats of the 24 row pattern done. Today, while waiting to get new tires on my car, I got another repeat done. This afternoon at knitting group, I finished the 15" of the right front before starting the underarm decreases. I'm well on my way.

If you really think about it, an adult cardigan has approximately the same number of stitches as a pair of socks. So if I work on it consistently, I could get this baby done in a week or so.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Tree Mittens - Finished!

I finally finished the 2nd tree mitten last night. I would have had it done a day sooner except that as I was finishing it then, I realized I had forgotten to knit the thumb! Duh!. RIP!

Modifications: I had to knit about 5 extra rows in the hand and thumb to make them long enough. I also improvised the thumb pattern after picking up the thumb stitches by continuing the branches that were already started, rather than starting new branches.

They're very warm.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Yet Another Animal Fibre

Yesterday at my knitting group, one of the gals, Lynda, had a bag of her Golden-doodle's matted undercoat fur with her. I don't remember why she brought it out to show us but as soon as I saw it I asked her if she would like to see what it looked like spun up. I was intrigued.
Once home, I pulled the matts apart to loosen the fibres up a bit and carded them
into lovely, fluffy rolags. Lynda bathes her dogs weekly so the dog fur was very clean.
It was nice to work with. It felt somewhat like a blend of angora and alpaca.
After spinning the singles, I thought Navaho plying (chain plying) would be a good way to ply it. This creates a stable, 3-ply yarn.
It looks like fingering weight to me but with a 47 yd. yield from 20g (pardon my mixed measurement systems), it works out to be DK weight.

I gave it a wash to set the twist, let it dry and used my 36" nitty noddy to wind it into a skein. Now it's ready to be knit! I think it would take dye really nicely. you can't tell from the white background but there's a very light halo to the yarn.

Lynda has 4 dogs, I'm sure she has lots of their undercoat matts that could be processed. I wonder if she would like more yarn made? I guess I'll find out next Wednesday at my knitting group

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Alpine Mitten

I finished the thumb on the Fair Isle Alpine Mitten from the "Vogue Knitting Mittens & Gloves". I've been calling it the Tree Mitten.
The black yarn is just some Lion Brand Wool I had in my stash and the contrasting colour is Punta Yarns Merisoft Hand Painted aran weight that feels a lot like Malabrigo worsted.  
I had to add several more rows to make the hand of the mitten long enough. I just continued the pattern on the palm and added extra black rows on the back of the hand and started my decreases later in the pattern. I also had to add about an inch to the thumb. rather than continuing increases on the outside and decreases on the inside of the thumb, I just continued the pattern vertically until it was long enough. These are nice, thick, warm mittens that would be perfect for a snowball fight.

Hopefully I won't have to be involved in any snowball fights as we've not had snow for about 3 weeks and Skip and I are going to have a southern vacation soon* - but probably not before we get at least one dump of snow.

*I'm getting quite excited about this, "Wheeeeeeeee"!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Dye Lot - D'Oh!

A couple of weeks ago I picked up some Kroy Jacquards Sock yarn on sale. I knit myself a 3x1 ribbed sock in a couple of days.
This yarn is thicker than most sock yarn I've used before and only has 166 yards per 50g ball.  Consequently, there wasn't a lot of yarn left when I finished the sock and certainly not enough to warrant winding yarn off the second ball so as to start in the same place in the pattern. Accepting the idea that I wouldn't be able to have identical twins, I cast on the second sock with the second ball of yarn and knit a few inches.

Curious to see how far out of synch the second sock was from the first, I made a startling discovery. THEY'RE NOT EVEN THE SAME DYE LOT!!!  Argh.

I'm going to go back to the store and see if I can get dye lots to match at least one of the socks (preferably the complete one).


P.S.  Goldman Sachs just invested 50 million dollars in Facebook and it appears they are going to use people's profile information indiscriminately. I have just deleted all 'Arts and Entertainment', 'Activities and Interests' etc. information from my Facebook profile as well as the year of my birth. Take that, Goldman Sachs!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

My First Finished Project of the Year

I finished my first project of 2011!
It's Molly Stark Scarf by Beth Leggiere - a cabled keyhole scarf. It took an entire ball of Malabrigo worsted yarn with only about a metre left over. I have a second ball of yarn that I could knit a matching hat with. I'm considering the Palindrome Hat, but am still researching others.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A Look Back

Last night we had a very laid-back, quiet, enjoyable New Year's Eve. I dug out my electric fondue pot and picked up some exquisite beef tenderloin so we could have Boeuf Bourguignon fondue for supper. It was only about the third time I'd used the fondue pot in the 30+ years I've owned it and the first time I've used it in at least 25 years. I made some yummy sauces with fat free sour cream with chopped green onion, curry powder and dry mustard respectively. As we had a big salad for lunch, I only had broccoli and baked Yukon Gold potatoes as accompaniments for the meal.
After supper we tuned in PBS and watched the concert from Avery Fisher Hall of the NY Philharmonic and the Tschaikovsky program featuring Lang Lang as well as the music from the second half of "The Nutcracker". Following that was the Tina Fey 'roast' as she received the Mark Twain Award for Humour taped back in November from Lincoln Centre. What a wonderful way to spend the eve of the New Year. Sometime in there we split a 375mL bottle of champagne - just about the right amount for a bubbly treat but no chance for a hangover.
This morning I'm enjoying the Tournament of Roses Parade and looking forward to the Rose Bowl with our favourites, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs as they make their first ever appearance in this bowl game against the Wisconsin Badgers.

I thought it would be interesting to summarize what projects I've completed this year. I'm not counting any UFOs. Here are the 41 projects I've completed in 2010:
  • 11 shawls (250m of yarn or more) = 10 started and finished this year and 1 finished from a previous year
  • 10 pairs of mittens or gloves
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 4 hats
  • 3 scarves
  • 2 adult sweaters
  • 2 baby sweaters
  • 2 dishcloths
  • 1 child's vest
  • 1 water bottle cozy
Current items on the needles are a pair of Kroy socks,

a keyhole scarf using Malabrigo worsted I picked up at the Knitter's Fair,

the Gail/Nightsongs shawl in Handmaiden Fine Sea Silk yarn,

and a pair of Fair Isle tree mittens from the Vogue Mittens and Gloves book I won last month.
I'm pretty pleased with my 2010 output. I read in someone's blog that on New Year's Day they assess all of their UFOs and frog all the ones they don't plan to finish. I'm happy with the projects and UFOs I completed in 2010. I don't plan to exceed that quantity of knitting in 2011 as I've added spinning to my fibre-y activities, however, I do hope to tackle some more of my 20-odd outstanding UFOs and get some more finished. 

And now, back to my knitting.

Go Horned Frogs!