Thursday, December 29, 2005

My mom, the Lion, and the Harlot

My lateness of the season is well recognized - as a friend wrote in her Christmas card "I always look forward to your January letter". True to form, I didn't manage to get my gift package for my family sent out until December 23rd - and forgot to include my mom's present inside it.

I had been planning to send my mom the Booga Bag I knit for her last summer as a Christmas gift, but forgot to put it in the package I shipped down with all the Christmas presents. When I called her and told her her gift was coming later, she excitedly asked "well, what is it?" After prodding, I told her it was a felted bag. After a faintly disappointed pause, she admitted, "well, I'd really like a poncho".

Again, time to drop back and punt. My mom LOVES purple. She also loves synthetics - if it generates static electricity pulled over your head, she's into it. So on Boxing Day, I dutifully fought the crowds to buy a couple of skeins of Lion Brand Homespun, downloaded the Yarn Harlot's Very Harlot Poncho pattern and cast on.

I am by no means a yarn snob and was indeed seduced back into knitting by novelty yarn, but the Homespun was slippery, sweaty, and squeaky. I did not LOVE knitting with it, and when my crocheting stepdaughter on the couch next to me asked "what smells like rubbing alcohol?" I sheepishly indicated the pile on my lap. However, a couple of episodes of Firefly, the movie Serenity, and Bogarts Treasure of Sierra Madre later, it was done.
And although the yarn is not fun to knit with, the finished product is warm, silky, and comfortable.
Hooray! I feel like such a good daughter. Here it is.

Lion Brand poncho!

In other holiday knitting, I finished off my Conwys. I went from thinking "yay, this twining cable is so fun and easy" to "when will this tedium end?" and was very happy to cast off. I am fretting about whether it will fit my friend, but since her feet are almost the same size as mine, I should stop worrying and just put it in her mail box.
These were on size 1 addis using Magic Loop, Fortissima Colori sock yarn, and would have taken a lot less time to knit if I wasn't so distracted by other projects....

Conwy, a feet accompli

Like these Polar bear mittens:

Polar Bear Mitts

These are fulled mitts from the book "Knit Mittens". I think they are based on the traditional Lovikka mittens. In any case, after knitting they are fulled, brushed, and embroidered. This only took one evening to knit in Alafoss Lopi on big needles, and an hour or so to full the next morning.

I'd always heard that fulling or felting hid all sins, but in this case, the mittens started out the same size, then felted to slightly different dimensions. Oh well. They are still very soft, thick and warm.

I am also still somewhat addicted to Moebius knitting:

Mercurial Mobius

This is one of Cat's shaped Moebius scarves, the Mercurial Moebius from the First Treasury of Magical Knitting. The shape really makes the scarf behave differently when worn, and is very warm.
This one is Noro Kureyon in colorway #90, held with some sort of variagated mohair I had in my stash. 100 stitches MCO on size 13 needles - another fast knit.

I'm not sure about the fingers...I put them on by misinterpreting Cat Bordhi's instructions. I might rip the edge back and cast off more sedately.

Meanwhile, I am still working away on the Samus body, trying to keep up with my pal Andrea, cast on for legwarmers a la the Mintyfresh Legwarmer Knitalong Legwarmers and my moebius enabler Loretta has tempted me to cast on for the Arrow Pathways scarf. Since I am sleepless these days due to fretting about school and life, the only solution I see is to keep knitting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Welcome Yule

Susan Cooper's poem always gives me the shivers, in a good way. Most of all, it means we can look forward to the lengthening of days.

The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

much holiday distraction!

Because I'm on the costume committee for my kid's dance club, I'm making some blouses for the older girls. Trying to get three of these done by Sunday evening is cutting into my valuable knitting time!

simple eyelet sorochka for shawl dance

They're not at all difficult, just time consuming, and the gussets under the arms are annoying. However, the dancers need them for free movement, and I'm pretty sure nobody wants to experience the embarrassment of having your underarms rip while on stage.

I did manage to salvage complete a few near disasters objects: the Rimrock Cape turned into a simple, but comfy moebius scarf. It turned out looser and springier than my first moebius, even if it was a similar weight yarn knit on the same size needles and same number of stitches. The yarn itself is pretty springy, and perhaps the diagonal knit/purl stitch pattern made the fabric more elastic. This one can be wrapped twice around the neck like a cowl, or half a loop pulled up like earwarmers.

Moebius 2

Pattern: Rimrock cape (collar portion) from Cat Borhdi's Treasury of Magical Knitting with Painted Yarn in colorway Midnight Garden. Size 10 Boye circular needles to make apx 50" length, 130 stitches MCO

And the Freakishly Large Christmas Stocking cuff turned into a Freakish Large Beret:

The stocking that mistook itself for a hat

Pattern was orginally Christmas in Tallin, morphed into the beret from Gwen Steege's Knit Socks!, size 4 and 6 circular needles, Briggs and Little Regal.

But really, it is ridiculously large, and at first I despaired that it could only be used as a variety of household objects, such as a poinsettia cozy:

or a poinsettia cozy

or a medicine cabinet:

or a medicine chest

or a stuffie bed:

or a stuffy bed

or a fruit bowl:

or a fruit bowl

To comfort myself, I'm making another pair of socks from remnants, and Conwy from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road. I had my doubts about this yarn, because I was worried that the colour changes would hide the stitch pattern, but the hues are soft and heathery enough that the twisted vine cable shows up fairly well, especially when the sock-in-progress is tried on - the cables pop out nicely then.

Conwy in progress

The pattern asks you to decrease to 60 stitches, and though I tried that, I quickly realized there's no way a cabled pattern is going to be comfortable on my leg with that number of stitches on a size 1 needle. So I ripped back to 64 stitches and will go from there. I say "my leg", but I really mean my friend's leg, who is pretty close to me in proportion. I only have one friend that will genuinely appreciate a handknitted pair of socks - so they're for her.

In the queue:
some sort of legwarmers, since I froze pretty much every part of my body last week (-17 C here, ugh)
Mittens for myself and the kids - ditto

Really, I should just drape myself and my family in hanks of wool from now till June. Four strong winds just won't stop blowing in Alberta, most particularly, from the Arctic!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ready to rip

Ready to rip
The moebius scarf that I was trying to turn into a cape (first Rimrock, then Lost Trails, for those who know Cat's book) is rapidly turning into a candidate for "You Knit WHAT?". A good lesson for me in colour and tone - although the colours in the thicker yarn for the cape portion do appear in the scarf portion, the overall effect is a darker tone that just doesn't work overall. I'm about to insert a lifeline (actually a really long circular needle) and get rrrready to rrrrrrip.

To the good, though, I was able to use up the last bits of yarn from my first three pairs of socks. Knitting toe up I managed to squeeze these out. Kind of short, but nice for around the house. I'm just thrilled I got four pairs of socks out of 5 skeins!
The remains of the skein

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My first moebius is done

I love it! I finished it late Friday night while watching Horatio Hornblower (again with "must knit to good TV). It was very close - I had no idea applied i-cord took up so much yarn! I thought I had plenty of yarn left when I decided to bind off and by the time I finished I barely had 6 inches left to graft and weave in.

Nothing fancy, just a simple purl ridge moebius scarf in a wool/alpaca/viscose blend. I used both 50 g skeins on a 40 inch size 10 needle, which really was too short for comfort, especially casting on. It's exactly how I want it, though - just enough width to make a comfortable shoulder warmer.

And then of course, there is always the "Prithee, which way to the monastary?" look. Which could come in handy around here in the chilly chilly wind.

I'm already working on my second moebius from Cat Bordhi's book, in the yarn from the previous post. If all goes well, it might end up being the RimRock cape.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maybe for a moebius?

Maybe for a moebius?
Originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
Although I am still happily working on my first moebius, I am already thinking ahead to my next Moebius project from Cat Bordhi's First Treasury.

Since I'm not about to buy more yarn (it's hard enough to hide yarn, now I have to hide Christmas presents too) I started digging around for some yarns that might work together.

Many of the patterns in the book call for Mountain Colors Moguls, which is pretty hard to get around here (can it even be gotten anywhere?)

But I think I can get the bulk by combining yarns. I was thinking of using Noro Kureyon, perhaps bulked up by Mission Falls merino. The long hank is a DK/light worsted superfine merino by paintedyarns in Edmonton. And the fuzzy stuff at the top is a Mohair/nylon from my LYS.

I guess the answer is always "swatch and see!"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Is this really a good idea?

I cast on for Christmas in Tallin this morning:

Christmas in Tallin, maybe

It was fun and interesting trying the Kihnu Vits braid around the sock cuff, and I found it helped to hold the yarn tensioned behind the neck so I could use my fingers to twist the yarn.

Greek? peruvian? macedonian? hold for Kihnu Vits

However, the cuff is coming out HUGE. I certainly expected it to be bigger than the pattern measurements, since I was using a worsted weight yarn, Briggs & Little Regal, and larger needles (size 4). But I wasn't quite prepared for how much bigger. I don't think I could afford the amount of chocolate it would take to fill this sucker!

A bigger problem, though, is the colour. They're just too.....Christmas-y. I mean, they scream "school craft fair!" which is not intrinsically bad, just not my intent.
I'm not sure what to do from here on. I could either turn this cuff into a very Christmas-y hat band, or just plow on and see what happens.

Christmas in Tallin, sock cuff

Meantime, I'm diligently using up my sock yarn leftovers, to make room for more sock yarn, of course.

making the most of leftovers

Monday, December 05, 2005

At last! it's done

At last! it's done
Originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I started the waistband for Samus when the pattern first came out with the fall issue of Knitty. However, after the first swatch I put it aside, and when I came back to it after learning how to cable without needles, I found of course that my gauge had changed. I managed to get back to my original gauge by using size 7 needles, and the pointy ends on the Boye's definately helped.

Finally, with the help of the BBC production of Ivanhoe (I feel I must knit to good television, if not a good audiobook), the waistband is done.

Now I'm ready to pick up the stitches for the body, and since it will be straight stockinette, I can drag it around to theatres, if I want to. I have been thinking of perhaps adding some waist shaping, if I can figure that out.

This is in Paton's Classic Merino Rich Red, chosen mostly because it's easy to find at the local stores.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

More hats, and Road to Oslo is done

Hooray - I cast off Road to Oslo last night. As promised, this was a fast knit once you get past the colorwork cuff. There is definately a difference between the first cuff, knit two handed, and the second cuff, knit carrying the yarn in both hands. But, the difference could well be just because I was paying more attention to keeping tension on the contrast colour loose the second time around. I also lurked intently at Fig and Plum's entries on her Norwegian socks, from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. Her detailed information was extremely helpful! I am a long way towards feeling ready for socks as detailed as hers, but some day, I hope.

Road to Oslo socks are done!

For much easier colorwork, I made Knitty's Vinter lue in Gjestal chunky. It felt a lot softer than the Lopi, and a bit less fuzzy. As someone at Knitty suggested, I knit the hat itself on 6 mm needles rather than the recommended 5 mm, which I think was a good call. It made the hat slightly large, but it's easier to shrink a hat down than enlarge it. I'm not going to bother with the braids, as I think part of the reason DS likes it is because it looks like a medieval helmet. This was a really fast, fun knit - two evenings for me, but I think a really diligent knitter could knit it in one.

Vinter lue

I also finished up my third Silk Garden beanie. I love these beanies. Perfect by-the-pool (indoor, obviously) knitting.

Silk garden beanie

Last but not least, I got my Treasury of Magical Knitting last week and cast on for a Moebius purl ridge scarf yesterday. I only had a 40" needle, which made casting on and knitting the first few rows a real test of grip strength. Now that the fabric has grown, it's going much better. I worked on it yesterday while watching Wallace and Grommit at the theatre. (highly recommended, btw!)

Moebius scarf

Monday, November 28, 2005

Small and satisfying

I finally schlepped myself down to Michael's to buy another skein of ribbon yarn to finish off this scarf for my aunt. I did not love knitting the ribbon yarn - kept getting my needle point caught in it, but I did like the overall effect. I'm sending this to her right away in hopes that she can wear it for the holiday season. I don't think it'll actually keep anyone's neck warm, but it's sort of semi-glamorous.

And, I finished off some ankle socks for my daughter, with yarn leftover from these twisted rib toe up socks . There definately wasn't enough for a full sized pair, so I did these with an afterthought heel. I don't know if I liked the afterthought heel at all. It seemed overly fussy and when I cast something off, I want it to be done, not have to go through the additional steps of re-threading stitches, picking out waste yarn, etc etc.

Opening the heel here:

and finished socks here:

I offered to rip them back and make them longer, because I did have a little bit of yarn left, but she said she liked them this way. I won't say no to suggestions tha make life easier for me.

The Road to Oslo socks are pretty much turning out to be wearable practice swatches. The one on the left is my first stab at two handed fairisle. I've got WAY too much tension on the contrast yarn, which I held in my right hand, which I don't normally knit with, so those stitches get pulled into the overall colour. The one on the right is my stab at carrying both yarns in the left hand. Tension is all over the place here, but for the most part, crazy loose and gapping and bagging strangely. However, I'm learning a lot, and geez, in the end they'll still be warm and wearable.

And finally - I was mortified to get a phone message from one of my kid's judo teachers, who found one of my DPNs at the dojo. Curse DPNs and their sneaky rolling-off-into-a-corner ways!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Clapotis #3 is off the needles

I blew off my yoga class this morning because I tweaked something in my back this week and wasn't really up for ashtanga. So, it was a perfect opportunity to listen to the almost unbearably suspenseful Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and finish off Clapotis #3.

It's arguable that Clapotis could be the most over-knit, over-exposed, over-discussed pattern on the internet. I'm normally resistant to bandwagons, but this one kept calling my name. I knit my first Clapotis on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, my second shortly after that, and then firmly resolved not to do another one for a....long time. However, I had gotten some Lion and Lamb for my birthday, and after seeing several beautiful clapotis in that yarn at the knitalong, began to covet. And, I was realizing that I wore my other two all the time - perfect for fall weather, easy to throw around your neck as a scarf and use later as a wrap. The versatility of its design made them among my most used, beloved, and cozy garments. This must add to the popularity of this pattern -it's not overly complicated, it's enjoyable to knit (it was for me, anyway), it's accesible to experienced beginners, and you end up actually using it. A lot!

So, I broke down and cast on for this clapotis last week.

It's a lot BIGGER than my previous two. My first one only omitted one increase repeat and one straight repeat, so I was really surprised at how much difference this made. Clapotis #3 is humungo in comparison. It's like a security blanket! An incredibly luxurious, cuddly, silky warm security blanket.

I also really prefer wearing it purl side out. Someone on the Clapotis knitalong pointed this out to me, and directed me to the Knitcast interview with Kate Gilbert where she says that it was designed to be worn purl side out, and unblocked, to emphasize the ripples. Unblocked is fine with me, since I have no clear space in my house to block something this size.

Big in Japan

I ran across this article about the knitting boom in Japan.
It's actually sort of interesting to me because one of my yogabuddies married into a Canadian Japanese family and lived in Japan for a number of years. She describes going to huge craft malls where attendants would direct you to the appropriate shop for what you wanted. Bags of 10 skeins would cost something like the equivalent of five dollars, and she and her MIL would fill huge bags of wool and drag them back on the commuter trains with them.

That was something like 10-12 years ago, and she says she's still knitting with that wool, transforming what remains of her stash-souvenir into hats and mittens for her family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Goodbye, Colourwork Road

Swatches of techniques gone awry tend to end up as garments for my kid's stuffies. Short row toe is now a hat, Road to Oslo cuff is now, cape? poncho?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tuesday's child has far to go

Road to Oslo has definately hit a pothole. Although last winter, I finished off mittens with a fair isle band - and three colours - three! I somehow went blank when trying to do this pattern. I couldn't remember how to hold the yarn, and the two circular needles kept getting tangled in the two strands (why this seemed easier on DPN's is beyond me).

I fiddled with holding both strands in my left hand, which is how I normally knit, then fiddled with a strand in each hand, which went slightly better.

After finishing the chart, I realized I still had two problems. One is the yarn. Not only is the Briggs and Little like baler twine, it's like uneven baler twine, with thick and thin segments. That doesn't exactly help the pattern come through. Second, I had forgotten how to weave or twist the strands together in order that you don't get gaps and holes in the pattern.
Third, I somehow misread the instructions and did a regular, rather than a provisional cast on for the picot edge, which is supposed to be stitched down later.

I think I'll cast this off and consider it a practice swatch, solve problem 1 by trying a different yarn, problem 3 by casting on properly, and problem 2 by reviewing this terrific streaming video from Philosopher's Wool and practicing some more.

I then relieved my fair isle angst by working more on Clapotis, who has now consumed two full hanks of Lion and Lamb. The colour variations are coming out really cool - I know some people don't like the pooling, but I think it's kind of neat.

I do still have twisted stitch angst, but it's getting better as I adjust tension on that particular stitch.

Monday, November 21, 2005

On the Needles, end of November

being a summary of current projects, November 21st:

Just cast on:
Road to Oslo socks, from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road. Not crazy about the yarn so far. Maybe because I've been knitting with very soft merinos and silk lately, but this Briggs & Little Durasport is feeling like baler twine.

Starting again:
Samus, from Knitty - cabled waistband. Finally getting gauge on size 7 needles, without using cabled needle. Paton's Classic Merino in Rich Red. This would make a great hat, too!

Good progress on Clapotis from Knitty, size 8 needles, Lion and Lamb in Watercolour, knit mostly while listening to Mr. Norrel and Jonathan Strange from :

As of last night, I'm on the 6th repeat of the straight section, and starting to drop stitches. Oddly, every other row is a bit tight. There's some unevenness in the twisted stitch on the right side of the dropped stitch, which is causing my some angst. Am snugging it up a bit on the purl side and loosening on the knit side - that seems to be helping.

No pictures, but still knitting:

toe-up ankle socks for Stasha, size 1 needles in Online SuperSock
Harry Potter scarves (mostly stalled out - Canadiana is not fun to knit with)

Casting on soon: Noro Silk Garden Beanie in colourway #203 (blue and green)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Making a sorochka

This particular version of a Ukrainian blouse is a simple raglan sleeve blouse with a very wide neckline. I found it easier to attach the top of the sleeve to the front and back of the garment before sewing the side seams of both the sleeve and the body, but it can be attached after the side seams are sewn as well.
The flat lace that forms the casing is actually attached so that it extends beyond the edge of the shirt fabric. You end up with a fairly narrow casing, just wide enough for the braided cord. The ends of the lace casing meet at the centre of the mitred trim, right at the neckline. You do have to deal with a funny jog in the neckline of the front - I had a look at my daughter's shirt and it does look like I just let the lace follow the edge, jog included:

This really isn't noticeable on the finished garment, though, as the neckline is gathered up with the cord.

Here's how it should look all put together:

Good luck! Give me a shout if this still doesn't make any sense. Oh - and the fringe on the poyas is only about an inch - that's all you should have to fray.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

raison d'etre

although I'm sure most bloggers in the sphere feel no need to justify the existence of their random musings, I feel the need to reply to my husband, who is shaking his head over this one. "Another blog? Why? why knitting?"

It's true that I already have a blog elsewhere for family members, which details the minutiae of my children's lives. And, for my yoga interests, I contribute to the multiauthor blog yogalila.
I already post most of my photos on Flickr, so it's arguable that yet another blog is redundant. Still, my inner archivist likes to record stuff, and I've been an inveterate journaller for years. I like being able to look back at what I've been doing, and the relative impermanence of electronic format is offset by the ability to add graphics.

I knit as a child and as a college student, but then abandoned it for many years. Literally, for decades, I had one Rubbermaid box with leftover yarn, a half-knit sweater, and a single mitten and I moved that thing from house to apartment to house to house without ever really feeling the need to delve into it. A few years ago my then-4 year old daughter asked for a rainbow coloured baby blanket. I wasn't even sure I remembered HOW to knit, but it turned out to be like riding a bicycle. And then once in the yarn store, I realized that holy cow - yarn had CHANGED. I didn't realize at the time that knitting was rising again in popularity, and that both the knitters and the manufacturers seemed to be driving each other on to new yarns and designs, as well as bringing old classics back to the fore.

And when I got back into it - first with easy things like scarves and blankets - I began to remember how relaxing it was.

There's still lots of other crafty stuff I like to do - but nothing is quite as portable as knitting, for taking along with me to the kid's activities. Plus, at the end of the day (or many days), you have something comfy to drape over yourself or your loved ones, the result of the both the tactile pleasure of passing string through your fingers, and the unwinding of the cares of the day.

two more hats!

I finished my third hat this season. I love hats - spent last Christmas holiday knitting simple ribbed hats for the entire family (OK, there's only 4 of us, but I still think that's pretty good). And you really can never have enough hats, I figure.

I just finished a Noro Silk Garden Beanie, and Coronet from Knitty.

Here they are, perfect for fall and winter.

Friday, November 18, 2005

inaugral post

it had to happen some time. This summer, as I toted my first sock around to family gatherings and pressed my siblings into admiring its growth, my sister Cris commented "I totally don't get how knitting is so freakin' popular all of a sudden. And all of a sudden the web is full of those knitting blogs".

"Blogs on knitting?" I replied. "what's up with that? who the hell would bother?"

Now, after several months of lurking on knitting blogs, and seeing who the hell bothers, I've become one of them. Among other reasons, I am crap at keeping a knitting journal, which rapidly degenerated into a notebook merely stuffed with yarn labels and very little else.