Monday, February 26, 2007

Best Laid Plans (Heather)

So. Nothing seems to inspire project monogamy like explicitly stating that I plan on making it a long term work-in-progress.

The yarn supply seems to be holding up very well. I have enough kureyon from the second ball to do the centre of the next square. That means that I can get more than a square a ball... and since I have ten balls total, I might even be able to eke out another row of squares. But let's not get ahead of ourselves!

Two squares down, seven to go. I am starting to think that I should do something really interesting for the centre square. Any suggestions?

In non-knitting and possibly gross news, I whacked myself royally on the edge of my car door while brushing off the car and have the most monstrous and painful bruise about the size of my fist on my arm... I am attending a career workshop in an incredibly hot and stuffy room and now I can't wear short sleeves. I am just going to have to sweat it out, because what can I say about the bruise? I ran into a door?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Studies in Odessa no. 6

Six Ways to See Odessa... the hat, not the city.

You all know those patterns a mile away. The ones that are sweeping the knitting world. The difference between a Clapotis and an Odessa is that you can whip out three Odessae in the time it takes you to get to that first dropped stitch. Is it any wonder that these spirally hats are virtually piling up over here??

Gen (aka Azura) started the trend last fall. She had only knit a couple of projects but she courageously dove into this pattern which was more complicated than anything she had done before. We're not really sure what happened but the result was not Odessa. Don't get me wrong, we all think it's beautiful and wish we knew what she did so it could be recreated on purpose. This hat has been christened the "Corinna" for it's recipient. (It's RYC Cashsoft DK in white)

Gen decided to have another go at this pattern for her sister in Cashsoft DK cream (huge difference there). After a few setbacks, she finished a true Odessa!

Needless to say after all this drama Gen needs a break from the pattern but she had already bought the yarn to make herself one. She would love to hear any suggestions for similar but different hat patterns.

Heather was the next to jump on the bandwagon. She made Odessa for her sister's Christmas present in a lovely olive green, here posed with photogenic kitty Molly (she wasn't posed, she actually jumped up there herself).

Despite her issues with hats intended for herself, Heather bowed to peer pressure and was convinced to knit herself an Odessa out of Manos.

After a few length issues, there is a slight problem with the top having a bit of a nipply effect, a common hat related issue attested to by other knitters. As long as Heather doesn't mind walking around looking like a Hershey Kiss, it will work out just fine.

With all this Odessa-making going on Adriana wasn't going to be left out. Since everyone else was making hats for their sisters, she decided to make one for the person most likely to become her sister, her brother's girlfriend Courtney. After deep discussions at Romni with Heather, she caved and used the same olive-y colour of Cashsoft DK but decided to make things a little more complicated for herself and use beads. The amber beads seem to go perfectly with the olive green.

Adriana also decided to make a one for herself, unconsciously copying Grumperina's original by choosing Cashsoft in Belladonna and going with pearly beads. Unfortunately she got a little impatient and decreased too soon so this hat does not properly cover her ears. It will be fixed soon before it gets too warm out to need hats.

Same pattern, six very different finished objects. It is nice to see that even with the pattern du jour, creativity can still be expressed! Now, how about all those calorimetries out there...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Birch (Adriana)

Birch is done! And I may have gotten a little carried away with the pictures (dial-up users beware!).

First the details:
Pattern: Birch by Sharon Miller from Rowan 34
Yarn: Rowanspun 4ply in Midnight from Cucumberpatch on ebay (yarn held doubled)
Needles: 5mm
Modifications: Because of the heavier yarn I eliminated two repeats of the pattern, casting on 279 instead of 299 stitches
Date started: February 5, 2007
Date finished: February 19, 2007
Thoughts: this was a really fun pattern to knit. It was easy to memorize and easy to read so you can put it down and pick it up whenever you want. It's fun to start with the super long rows since they keep getting shorter and shorter. The last 10 repeats flew by. I was terrified of running out of yarn but I made it with about 4m to spare. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone and I will probably make several more.

Now for the pictures!
Birch unblocked (note the small amount of yarn left)

birch blocking
Blocking on my bed
This was a challenge because I didn't have much time to do it before I had to rush off to work. I had managed to get it stretched and pinned but then I realized that it was actually lopsided. Before I could fix it the fire alarm went off. Luckily it isn't noticeable when worn.

birch road
I call this picture "Birch Road" because I feel like I'm staring down a road made of Birch as the pattern becomes more and more obscure. Plus I really like the name.

While I was waiting for the boyfriend to come home so he could take pictures of me modelling my new shawl, I decided to venture into the courtyard of my apartment building to get some pictures of Birch amid the greenery. I had a vague idea of posing it on a Birch tree but I quickly realized that we don't actually have any Birch trees in the courtyard. (I was so relieved that I could remember what a Birch tree looks like. My dad has a degree in forestry so I really don't have an excuse to get that wrong.) I decided to post the shawl on other trees but I may have picked a bad day for this photographic experiment. The winds were gusting around 60km/h which made things very very challenging.

birch on snow
Birch on the snow (just when I would get it to lie flat the wind would toss it around again)

birch on bush
Birch on a bush

birch in the wind
Birch in the wind

birch in the tree
Birch in the tree (my favourite picture)

After this I went inside to thaw my poor fingers and wait for the arrival of my photographer.

birch spread
A shawl this large is very hard to take a proper picture of without also seeing lots of furniture. As you can see, this shawl is HUGE! It's longer than my wingspan and the point goes down to the back of my knees. But it is so warm!

birch in motion
Birch in motion (this is what happens when you go to answer a knock on door during a photographing session)

birch front
Finally, a happy knitter with her shawl

Thanks for looking! Now I'm off to finish a couple of projects to clear up some space on the sidebar.

Past Square One (Heather)

Yesterday I really got my knit on and finished the first square of my long-term log cabin quilt (a la Mason-Dixon Knitting).

It is about 14 inches square, unblocked. This will make for a roughly 45" square quilt if I do nine blocks. I will definitely have enough yarn for 9 blocks because I almost made it through this square using one ball of Noro, and since half the blocks will take less Noro, it should all work out nicely. Not sure I would have enough left over for three more blocks, but anything is possible. Let's see how I am feeling when I get that far. There is certainly enough Selkirk to do another three blocks and even a border. So I'm cruising!

It seems this project might be the answer to my knitting slump: even socks require some thought, but all I have to worry about in knitting these squares is how many garter ridges I've knitted. Even the picking up of stitches is a breeze. And I am (easily amused as it makes me) constantly charmed by the emerging colours of the Kureyon:

Both yarns are about equally rough on the hands, but since I am not intending monogamy to this project, that will be fine with me.

I finished Odessa, and it has a certain papal quality to it. The hat curse lives on! Pictures and a team post to come.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thar be Snow! (Heather)

I have not seen snow like this in Toronto before, that's for certain. After Mike went to work, I was startled by a peal of thunder, upon which I discovered that the skies had opened up in a fairly brief but very energetic snowstorm. The flakes were HUGE! Easily the size of a loonie. I used the sports setting on our camera to try and catch the size and multitude of the snow:

These pictures were taken at 8:30, by ten the tree was snowless yet again. I left these pictures quite large, so just click to see them full-size.

Apparently it is not only new Torontonians who find this freak snowfall surprising!

I actually picked up the knitting last night, perhaps this bout of ennui is slowly coming to an end, along with February?

ETA: just a public service announcement to add that Grey's Anatomy is airing at 7:00pm tonight, not 8:00pm. I find it really odd that they would mess with an episode like this one to accommodate American Idol on Canadian TV...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Next in line (Adriana)

Birch is done!! I finished late last night which means that this project took me exactly two weeks. And I didn't run out of yarn! Pictures will follow in a few days. It's going to take awhile to block since it's huge!

I decided that my next big project will be a sweater around the time I fell in love with Katy from Debbie Bliss' Cotton Angora book. I've had some red and black Mission Falls languishing in my stash and I think this is their destiny.

I have a problem though. The pattern calls for 13 balls of Cotton Angora which is 78m per ball, the same yardage as Mission Falls. I have 13 balls of Mission Falls but 10 are red and 3 are black.


Here's what I was thinking: I want to make the v-neck in black so I was going to make the cuffs and the hem black too. But I have no idea if this will leave me with enough red to make the body. I figure that I have some options. I could eliminate some of the cables from the back or the sleeves, but I'm worried that would ruin the look of the sweater. I guess I could always buy more yarn, which would probably be the intelligent thing to do. Any comments, concerns or encouragement would be appreciated :)

Friday, February 16, 2007

While I was gone... (Adriana)

I'm back! My computer has been returned to me fully functioning (or so it seems). It's such a relief to be able to do all the interneting I want! My beloved knitting blogs have been neglected for the past two weeks. I can't wait to catch up on everything.

Although there has been much drama lately, mostly to do with the computer problems, I've still managed to get in a fair amount of knitting. I finished Odessa, pictures to follow in a later post, but trust me, it looks awesome (think olive green yarn with amber beads)!

I finished the mystery project and am starting another one (I love secret knitting!). You can get a peek at it here. My hands are so cold now that winter has hit so I've started a pair of gauntlets from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. I'm making them at the same time on two circs out of some of my hand-dyed yarn.
It looks darker here than in real life. The yarn has lots of pinks and purples in it.

I wanted to knit my Granny a pair of socks for her 90th birthday this spring but I was faced with a bit of a challenge. In order to do the feet the way she likes I need to knit them top-down however she also requested really long socks so ordinarily I would have knit them toe-up and just continue until I ran out. I came up with a rather clever solution, if I do say so myself:
I did a provisional cast on so that I can do the feet as she wants and then knit the leg until the yarn runs out! This is Regia Silk in the Venice colourway.

The big project which has been occupying most of my knitting time these days is Birch! I was inspired by Heather's lovely version in Silky Wool (by the way, are we ever going to see pictures of that?). I am using Rowanspun 4ply in Midnight doubled. I cast on two less repeats and am almost 70% of the way through. I have a feeling that I will run out of yarn so I've been trying to think up things to do with another bag of this stuff. But enough rambling about yarn. Time for pictures!

Spread out on the table in all its unblocked glory

For once the flash actually helped to show off the motif

The obligatory close-up

What's next for this knitter, you might ask? When I look in my crystal ball I see Katy knit from Mission Falls and a shrug present for a summer birthday (not you Heather!). Also, I'm anxious to get my hands on the new Lace Style. Anyone else have ambitious future knitting plans?

One Step Forward... (Heather)

Wouldn't it nice to be one of those people who thrive on a challenge?

You know those people... a problem comes up and they come into their own, working out the perfect solution, feeling all enlivened and smug? I am not those people. At least not with knitting. I mean, my problem-solving skills are not totally remiss, it's just that with knitting, I see a problem, and I just have no desire to fix it... right away. It will eventually be fiddled with and some solution will be enacted, but until then, that project is inevitably shelved.

So, orange sweater? Meet design problem. Actually, it might be a body problem if you think about. You see, I wanted a nice fitted v-neck sweater, very collegiate. Very easy! All I need is a few waist-shaping decreases. I will measure my trunk and make a schematic to work from.

And herein lies the problem. After I measured, re-measured, got Mike to measure, even asked the cats for advice, the situation is clear. My waist is bigger than my bust. By about half an inch. Which is not significantly bigger, but certainly makes decreasing an issue. And really, who would think that I am such an odd shape to look at me? It is just simple body mechanics, I guess: love handles go all around, but breasts are only at the front.

Soooo... while I canvass family and friends for design tips, V-Neck A L'orange will be marinating in the WIP basket. Maybe I should have joined run-agogo?

Oh, if you want a progress pic on the Manos Odessa? Go back to my last entry. I finished the hat, (huh just accidentally typed 'hate' there) and discovered that it was half an inch too short. Since I am not willing to compromise on ear warmth on this one, it is now ripped back to the point at which you last saw it.

And, since I hate to blog without at least one photo, check out my almost-Flowering Quince!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Adriana's Status

Greetings all,

This is a quick note to let you know that I am not dead but rather computerless. Through a terrible twist of fate, the day after the boyfriend brought his computer into the shop mine died! His was supposed to be a quick repair but it's probably not going to be back for a few weeks and mine needs a new motherboard and CPU but should be back by Wednesday. Please be patient and I promise to show off pictures of Birch-in-progress when I return. I'm now 50% of the way through this fun pattern. Cross your fingers that I don't run out of yarn :(

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Dribs and Drabs (Heather)

February is not my favourite month. Lots of good things happen in February, like lots of birthdays and sometimes Olympics, and leap years, but the holidays are all kind of arbitrary (Groundhog Day? Valentines?) and the weather is bleak and all we have to look forward to is March (ick!).

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate winter per se, I just get tired of it by the end of January. The only thing February has going for it is that it is short, at least.

Anyway, all that served to do was explain that February ennui has extended to my knitting.

As previously noted, I finished an orange sleeve, one subway sock for Mike, Mike's hat, and started a bunch of projects which were promptly banished to the basket. I ripped my manos-hat-in-progress and reclaimed the wool. I did finish spinning my Fleece Artist Wensleydale-Teeswater single:

and even plied it. proving that it is perfectly possible to regress completely in one month of spinning neglect.

I am thinking it would be much easier to ply with a wheel, not least of all because the singles would be on bobbins instead of on the spindle you need to ply with... this requires me to wind off my singles into skeins and then into balls, which even washed are very kinky and unpleasant to work with. I ruined quit a bit of single when it tangled irreparably on the swift. And I hope that my plying will even out when I don't have to stop to wind every metre or so.

Upon some urging from Adriana, I swatched for Odessa with my reclaimed Manos... I did a massive swatch to see how many repeats I would need, since the gauge was obviously very different from the pattern. I did a little quick and dirty math, pondered it for a day, and then cast on 80 stitches... and it worked!

I can't believe how long this is taking. For lack of knitting. I finished a regular Odessa in about 8 hours. This one has taken a week, just because I am only doing a row or two at a time. I am really starting to adore it, though, and that combined with this cold snap might motivate me to finish it. If I have to wrap my clap around my head one more time people are really going to be wondering...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Saga of the Trekking Socks (Adriana)

I've been having some unsatisfying knitting these days. First there was the whole thing with the Manos hat, which I still haven't figured out. Now I've run into problems with my Trekking sock.

Before Christmas Heather and I decided to help each other out with Second Sock Syndrome. Since the first sock is the fun one to knit and the second one always drags, we thought that by knitting one sock and then giving it and the remaining yarn to the other person, we would eliminate SSS. I knit up a footsie sock from Heather out of some Austermann Step and she decided to finish the Trekking sock which she was started but which turned out to be too big for her, coincidentally the perfect size for me.

I dove right into this sock and greatly enjoyed the transitioning colours. I measured it carefully, trying to copy what Heather did which fit me perfectly. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I screwed up.

The perfect sock

The imperfect sock

It looks like I started the heel too soon. I like a tight sock but this is too tight. I just can't face ripping back several days' work so I'm putting these socks on ice and turning to Odessa and a mystery project (sneak peek here).

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Knitting in Public (Adriana)

Though there has been much knitting, at least by me, nothing has reach photographing stage so I've decided to distract you with pictures of knitting in public.

This picture was taken at the airport on our way to Vancouver in May 2005. I had just relearned how to knit about 3 days before that so I was still practicing on acrylic. Heather is knitting a quick woolly sock for me.
(Click here to see what our guys were doing while we were knitting)

Here I am knitting at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I'm afraid that I'm not as brave as the Yarn Harlot and able to give my knitting a real thrill (plus I was knitting a poncho which is a little more dangerous to dangle from a bridge than a sock).

Well, that seems to be all of my knitting in public pictures. Maybe Heather has some to share.

Friday, February 2, 2007

(Silent) Sappho (Heather)

It's St. Brigid day, and all across the blogosphere people are posting poems.

Last year I featured my favourite modern poet, this year I thought I would showcase a favourite ancient poetess.

The sinking moon has left the sky,
The Pleiades have also gone.
Midnight comes -- and goes, the hours fly
And solitary still, I lie.

He seems to me equals to gods that man
whoever he is who opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking

and lovely laughing - oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me

no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
fills ears

and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead - or almost
I seem to me.

But all is to be dared, because even a person of poetry...

Both are modern translations of Sappho, I can't remember who translated the first, but the second is a translation by a wonderful poet named Ann Carson. Most of the fragments that remain by Sappho survive only in snippets and tiny fragments, sometimes of a word only. Sappho 31 was adapted by my favourite Latin poet, Catullus.

Hope you enjoyed it!