Tuesday, 31 May 2016

First Escher II

The second Escher II sock is underway. Here's the first one knit with one of the balls of yarn from the sock block dyeing from the retreat a couple of weekends ago.
I should be able to start the second sock's heel in the same spot.
Escher is a very simple 12-row pattern. Basically it's 2 x 2 ribbing. After 5 rows of ribbing, one of the knit sts from the pair travels away from its mate to join with the nearest knit stitch in the adjacent pair of knit sts.  Then rib for 5 rows, then the knit sts move back to their original pairs.
It moves along pretty quickly. It is a unisex pattern that nicely hugs the leg, ankle and foot.

Button Sampler

I like the orderliness of cross-stitch. I used to do a lot of it but knitting took over as my number one passion. Every once and a while though, I like to 'cleanse my palate' with a quick and easy cross-stitch project.

I stitched this sampler over three evenings of binge-watching a Netflix series ("The Fall" if you really want to know).
I raided my button jar for the 15 small buttons. It will fit perfectly into a 5" x 7" frame and will hang in our guest room (Scooter's old room). Now I need to make myself affix the buttons, buy the frame, get it finished, and hang it.

Sunny Baby Blanket

I finished a baby blanket using Rowan Pure Wool Superwash DK yarn and the Sunny Baby Blanket pattern. Other than blocking photos, this is the only shot I got of it before sending it off to the grandma-to-be.
I added an extra 'square' and 'sash' for a total of 144 sts. After I had bound it off and blocked it, I noticed a dropped stitch in the garter stitch border. Thank goodness it was the top border and not the bottom one. I undid the bindoff, ripped back about 6 rows to the dropped stitch, picked it and all the other stitches up and reknit the rest of the border. Easy peasy.

Here's a better picture of Jodiep's blanket taken from her Ravelry page.
Photo - Jodiep

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Lilacs and Other Delights in the Garden

I picked some more lilacs today.

This lilac bush was in our yard when we moved into this house 20 years ago. Skip transplanted it next to the deck. (rightmost shrub)
It provides a 'screen' from the neighbours behind us and a 'wall' for my outdoor office. The lilac bush to the right of it blooms a bit later and the blooms aren't as fragrant.
Skip loves this bugle week (ajuga). The colour is rich and it is an early bloom to the garden.  It puts out runners which would take over the garden if permitted. Once the blooms are done, I rip out lots of the runners where I want the other perennials to grow.
The bleeding hearts (dicentra) are the earliest blooms.
At this time of year, hostas are nice and compact. However they triple in size over the summer so we leave lots of room around them.
I bring a little of the outdoors in.
The peonies are getting ready to bloom. They'll be the next flowers brought indoors.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Green Swallowtail

I found this UFO the other day in a basket I hadn't looked into for a long time. I had finished the main part and was just starting the lacy border when I abandoned it. Thank goodness the sticky note on the chart hadn't moved and I was able to just pick it up and start knitting.

I did the nupps in the way recommended in the pattern (k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 in the same stitch, then purl the 5 sts together on the return row), and they worked just fine. There is another way to do them with a crochet hook all on the right side but I couldn't find the video to remind myself how to do it.
The first lace I ever knit was a red swallowtail shawl. I still used it all the time as it's light, warm, and fits into my coat pocket when not needed.

At that time, I found it to be quite a challenge. Now that I have lots more experience knitting lace, it was a fairly easy knit (in spite of the fact I let the green one languish for years before finishing it).

I did however, have one problem. I ran out of yarn before finishing the 'swallowtail' edging and had to bind off 5 rows early. I know I have an extra ball of yarn somewhere and will certainly unpick the bindoff and finish it properly when I do find it.
Finishing it before completing the last chart meant that I couldn't pull the swallowtail 'points' when I blocked it, ergo the straight edges.
But I still like the look and feel of it. This yarn Naturally Dawn 2-ply yarn is discontinued. The 50/50 wool/silk is lovely to work with and blocks very nicely.
This is the smaller version of the swallowtail where you begin the nupp-y lace after the 14th repeat of the main pattern. The larger version is done by starting the lace borders after 19 repeats of the main pattern. Unfortunately, the math doesn't work for fewer than 14 repeats or between 15 and 18 repeats.
An added benefit is I have now liberated another pair of 4mm tips and cable.

I recently discovered a crescent swallowtail modification with will be my next shawl project.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

It's My Blogiversary!!

This Friday will mark the 9th anniversary of me nattering on about my life as a retiree and fanatical knitter, etc. and many of the things I do to occupy my time now that I am retired.

I never really expected to have a lot of followers. I was happy just to be recording the products of my many hours of knitting - the highs and the lows - as well as a lot of the other fun things I've been doing. In my head, I'm just chatting with someone who is interested in what I'm doing.

I now realize it is a pictorial chronicle of my last nine years and has been quite handy when I try to figure out what I did when or what I knit when. etc. The 'search this blog' feature at the right has come in handy more than once.

I have had some lulls in my blogging but never more than a couple of weeks. At other times I've done multiple posts in a day (like today) to keep up with what I've been doing.

I apologize to non-knitters who stumble onto this blog and hope the knitters aren't too bummed out when I do a lot of posts about birding, travel, and other non-knitting issues.

For those of you who read me regularly, I thank you and hope you've enjoyed the glimpse into my life that I am very grateful for. Skip and I know we are very fortunate to be enjoying relatively good health, a modest lifestyle, and the ability to still travel to places both near and far.

For those of you wondering what to do once you have retired, DO WHAT YOU LOVE! As much and as often as possible. Life is what you make of it. Enjoy!

Syncopation Socks II

I finished the second pair of Syncopation socks the other day. They are a nice tonal denim colour of Manos del Uruguay Alegría yarn and they're for ME! I wear jeans a lot and didn't seem to have any darker denim-coloured socks.

I had them on the needles for quite a while as I would pick them up between other projects.
I basically used the stitch pattern as a guide and used my customary 'eye of partridge' heel.
Once I had finished the second sock, I realized I hadn't decreased enough stitches for the foot so it is a wee bit looser than the other one. Oh well.

I like the look of the tubular cast on that I used. It's nice and stretchy and perfect for the top of a 1 x 1 or 2 x 2 ribbed sock.

Unless we have a cold snap (bite my tongue!) I won't be needing them for several months.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Escher It Is

I did a couple of swatches with the handpainted yarn from the retreat last weekend and decided to knit the Escher pattern again.

I did a long-tail cast on over two needles which gives the top of the cuff lots of room to stretch.

The colour bands are narrower than they were on the long sock block.
I like how this pattern hugs the leg. I will continue it down the instep to the toe. I want to get at least one done before our June 15 Shuttlebug meeting.

After two months of crappy spring weather (we talk about the weather a lot here in Canada), it is finally spring. Skip and I went birding a couple of times last week. The warblers are really coming through now.

Skip spotted the first milkweed shoots in the garden today. Monarch butterfly season is fast approaching.

The lawn is lush and the garden is really starting to come along. Yesterday Skip and I got the deck chairs, table, and umbrella up.  I really love my 'summer office'.
On a weekends and holidays here in the 'burbs,  there are lots of lawnmowers, weed whackers, pressure washers, compressors, and power tools in operation as the 'weekend warriors' cram as much outdoor activity into their time off work. But the best time out here in my 'office' is on weekdays when I just hear birds, wind through the leaves, the odd airplane, and distant traffic noise. Ahhhh.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Dyeing Sock Yarn Blanks

Once of our activities last weekend was a session on dyeing sock yarn blanks. The blanks had been machine knit with two strands of sock yarn (wool/nylon) and pre-soaked to receive the food colouring dye.

We worked in art room of the facility (a former school). The table tops were covered in newspaper and we were divided into groups of two to share the tables. We then covered our working area with plastic wrap.

I chose dark colours - blue, green and purple and painted my blank (which was knit in the round) in stripes. I carefully turned it over and painted the other side accordingly.
We then covered our blank with more plastic wrap and rolled it up in preparation for setting the dye.

This was done by microwaving the yarn for 2 minutes on high, letting it cool for an hour or so, and 'nuking' it for another two minutes. We then left the yarn to cool until it was time to go home. We were given Ziploc bags in which to transport it and instructions to let it sit for 24 hours (cheated and only waited 18 hours). Then we were to rinse thoroughly until the water ran clear, squeeze out the moisture and let dry.

It took a few rinsings until the water ran clear. Mostly the green kept running and running. I was very happy to note that all the colours had lightened as I was initially concerned the purple was way too dark.

Today, I wound the two strands onto my ball winder and swift simultaneously. Then wound the skein from the swift onto the ball winder, creating two more or less identical balls, ready to knit.
I look forward to seeing what the knit socks look like. I have a mostly stocking stitch pattern in mind, probably with some ribbing.
Escher? Another Syncopation pair? Maybe another pair of Pavillion socks? I'll have to do some more thinking on the topic...

Knitting and Spinning Retreat with the Shuttlebugs (and Scugog Guild)

Last Saturday, I drove up to Bethany to meet with several Shuttlebug members and members of the Scugog Spinning and Weaving Guild for a two-day fibre retreat. Billed as a spinning and knitting event with informal classes, weaving and rug-hooking was also undertaken by some of the folks.

On Saturday morning, we had free time to get settled in our lodgings. It was nice to not to have to share a room. I spent the morning spinning the green 'bumps' acquired at Rhinebeck last fall.
I don't remember what kind of sheep fibre it was but it's kinda scratchy. I got it all spun and started plying before the end of the day.
Mostly we sat around and did some spinning or knitting.
Leslie and Paula
Judy, Suzanne, and Gayle
Jacki knits while Suzanne takes a photo of Gayle's sweater and Judy looks on
Marilyn spins qiviut
Judy and Jo discuss colours for Jo's needlepoint project
Leslie and Judy teach Sara how to spin
In the afternoon, participants had an opportunity to attend a workshop on pattern-making or spinning.

After supper, we sat around and did more of the same. The food was excellent!! Our dietary restrictions were catered to. The salads, soups, entrees, and desserts were delicious! We women appreciated not having to plan, cook, serve, and clean up.

Sunday morning, the early risers did some stretching and yoga while others walked around the property.

After breakfast, we spent the morning dyeing sock blanks under Dini's guidance.

Suzanne carefully painted her pre-soaked and wrung out sock block with a design.
I wasn't very imaginative with my stripes but I knew anything intricate would probably be lost with knitting up the yarn. I know the resulting stripes will be very wide in the knit sock.
Gayle combined stripes and triangles in hers. Don't you think the socks will go great with this sweater once they're knit up?
Judy, Dini, and Paula discuss options for Paula's sock blank.
Judy went for a geometric pattern.
Dini's pattern was similar and incorporated gold and red with the blue and purple.
Once we finished the painting, we covered our blanks in more plastic wrap and rolled them up in preparation for 2 two minute microwaving sessions - allowing them to cool a bit in between. We made sure to label our projects before 'nuking'.
Here's Mary prepping her sock blank for the microwave.
I even had time to finish plying my singles - 532 yards of loveliness (if I do say so myself).

 After yet another sumptuous lunch, Marilyn talked to us about qiviut (fibre from the musk ox) and showed us samples from her research project. Participants had the opportunity to spin some qiviut. Others created warps using leftovers, chaining them, ready to take home and warp their looms.

Then it was time to pack up and head for home.

Once home, I rinsed my sock blank and hung it to dry. My next post will highlight the result.

All participants this weekend enjoyed the camaraderie, activities, relaxed pace, and FOOD! We hope there will be another one next year. Bravo Dini, Dale, and Pat for a well-planned and executed weekend. Thank you for all your hard work.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Other Loot

Last Friday on our way to the MDSWF, Jen and I stopped at several yarn stores and a stitchery shop along our route. I didn't buy something at every store but found a couple of unique things to take away.

At the Black Sheep Yarn Shop, in Timonium MD, this fingering weight gradient set from Frabjous Fibers called to me.
Jen and I spent over an hour in The Stitching Post in Catonsville, MD. I could have bought several charts or kits there but only came away with this little bead and perforated paper kit.

Two doors away from The Stitching Post, Clover Hill Yarn shop had lots of beautiful samples knit up. They were packing up and getting ready to set up their booth for the festival. Who knew Noro is now selling wheels of pencil roving? Apparently there are two strands of roving all wound up ready to be knit as is or spun into singles and possibly plied. In retrospect, I picked a pretty drab colourway but can use a coordinating yarn when I ever get this spun up and decide to knit with it.
The person at the cash register had a very interesting brioche infinity scarf that I'd love to knit. Unfortunately, she hadn't written up the pattern yet. I guess I should learn how to competently knit two-colour brioche first.