Friday, March 30, 2007

Plodding (Heather)

Still moving forward, just slowly.

Lately I haven't been touching the knitting after sunset, so progress has suffered. I did manage to tear myself away from Clessidra to pick up the stitches for the hood. Upon reading the instructions (I really ought to do this more often) I discover that the hood is a whopping 74 sts wide and is knit straight for 11 inches. This may take longer than I had thought, but I have only just passed the halfway point of my self-imposed deadline, so I have no reason to be anything less than optimistic that I will finish on time.

The red still makes me irrationally happy. It is a bit of a pain to flip the whole thing over each time I get to the end of a row, so I am glad I did not get ahead of myself and attach the sleeves. I need to figure out how I am going to knit the button band... my smaller needles are only 24" long, so there is no way I can pick up the whole way around. I would rather do it that way than in two pieces, but that may not be an option. If you are in the Toronto area and have a longer 3.25mm addi-like circular, perhaps we can work out a temporary custody deal?

Button-wise, it looks like the people have spoken. I will have to content myself with the knowledge that the inside of my buttons is as lovely as the outside.

I did get some work on Clessidra done, of course.

I also got around to googling for a knitalong. You might enjoy checking out the lovely socks in progress over there. One finished sock, as far as I can tell.

Despite all my fairly virtuous stash-knitting, I may have also bent my yarn diet...

I really couldn't resist. I did add a clause to my yarn diet absolving me from weakness as long as it involved a) a great deal, b) a discontinued yarn. This was both. The price was obscenely low, and the yarn (Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in Coast) was discontinued last fall. Extra bonus points for being a yarn that I have never knit with and a yarn that I do not currently have in the stash. Extra extra bonus points for fast, free shipping from England (shipped Friday, at my door Tuesday) and not paying duty!

Above all, this is an absolutely delectable yarn. I have no immediate plans for it, though I do have quite a few patterns that fit. It is a nice bulky yarn that would look good on either me or Mike, so I will revisit this next fall when the air starts to get that telltale edge. Special thanks to my official fibre temptress!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Audrey (Adriana)

Finally the long-awaited pictures of Audrey shall be revealed! (Sorry for the delay. This has literally been the week from hell at work. 11 hour days are not fun)

The last time we saw Audrey she looked like this:

The Heather came and taught me the miracle that is the mattress stitch.
Like a good girl I did the raglan seams first
audrey preseaming
(It still doesn't look wearable)

Then I did the arm and side seams and voila!
audrey without lace
It's a sweater! But a rather indecent one so I decided to knit the lace neck edging rather than risk flashing the world.

The lace took way too long and sewing it in was a painful process (mainly because I was so anxious to be done) but the end result was totally worth it.
audrey finished
Look! A finished sweater!

audrey close up
A close up on the lace edging (which I forgot to block) and the sexy darts.

Pattern: Audrey from Rowan 35
Yarn: Rowan Calmer in the Calmer colourway (I used the recommended yarn for once!) 6.5 balls
Needles: 5.5mm
Date Started: End of February-ish?
Date Finished: March 25, 2007
(This would have been a much faster knit if I hadn't been so busy this past month).

This was a very well written pattern and an enjoyable knit. The Calmer was a joy to work with. It's so soft and sproingy which is strange because it's mostly cotton! I think this is my favourite sweater so far and the one I'm most likely to wear a lot. It got stretched out from wearing so I'm hoping that a wash will set it to rights again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Not my Buttons! Not my Walnut Buttons! (Heather)

We are goofballs 'round these parts.

Anyway, yesterday I deigned to read the instructions before I began seaming the whole sweater, and it turns out that I only seam the shoulders before picking up and knitting the hood. This meant two seams about three inches long each. That was pretty quick work. Once I was finished that, I had to pick up for the hood. I only have to pick up 22 measly stitches since the rest are on holders, but I hate picking up stitches (if they are not neat and pretty enough you have no recourse but to frog it all and start again... I hate that!) and the siren song of Clessidra was calling me. Since I was fresh out of sealing wax and a ship's mast, I was drawn in.

But the back of the sock is where the real magic happens. Has anyone here tried taking a decent picture of the back of their leg? Let me tell you, it requires more flexibility than I have to spare. Instead of pulling something, I eventually twisted the sock around and made the back the front:

The cables look messier here than they do... I think it will need to be blocked. I am actually a bit farther than this, already into the fifth repeat of the hourglass chart, but Mike needs some action shots of him teaching, so I am restricted to pictures I took yesterday afternoon. Pardon the pasty white legs, yesterday was the first time they saw sun in months.

Just to keep some red in this post, a button query. I picked up these fantastic walnut shell buttons at the KW Knitters' Fair last year and when I was debating whether or not to use buttons, I remembered them. I think they go very nicely with the rustic texture of the wool and the deep, saturated red. My Dad's father had a thing about walnuts and walnut shells, so there is some sentimental value there, too.

So, do I use these buttons inside down (left) or inside up (right). I love the insides of these buttons, but I have received mixed opinions on that. Another option is to leave Central Park buttonless, though I do question the utility of a warm wool sweater that doesn't close.

Weigh in, folks!

(edited to replace the blogpoll... it was causing strange things to occur! When I deleted the code the score was 5 for Down, 1 for Up. If you voted on the old poll, feel free to vote again.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Strawberry Kool-Aid Forever (Heather)

Desperate not to let the sleeves bog down an otherwise on-schedule knit, I motored through the second sleeve, casting on during Movie #3 of our Gerard Butler Marathon on Saturday night and finishing off during Man on Fire Sunday night. Just in time, too, because there is a red groove on my tensioning finger that I am hoping will have a chance to subside while I seam.

This morning, since some intense thunder and lightning encouraged me to turn off my computer, I dunked the pieces in some eucalan and let everything soak for a half an hour. It is nice to see that the pieces are as large as they should be... with all that curling stockinette I was getting a bit concerned that I would have to go on a hunger strike to fit my finished object. I also discovered that I have a lot fewer pins than I thought I did. And that Phlox will NOT be deterred from sleeping on his bed.

And not to any great surprise, the red dye leached out into the wash water. It looks about right to be strawberry kool-aid, the kind with a bit of kiwi flavour in it. Yum.

Note my salad spinner. I may not eat salad, but I sure do love my salad spinner! It has saved me from countless soggy towels over the months. Perfect for socks, small delicate blouses, and sweater pieces.

Since I had a long wait ahead while the pieces dried (though they are almost dry) I cast on for Clessidra!

It is fiddly, but once I got past the first hourglass chart, things are easier to keep in order. It feels like I am knitting a tiny aran sweater.

Tonight I will tackle the seaming, and tomorrow we discuss buttons.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lacey Green Shrug (Adriana)

Today has been a big day for me because I finished Audrey! But I'm going to save showing it off for a few more days (I like to build up the anticipation), and instead introduce you to what will probably be my favourite article of clothing this summer: my lacey green shrug (formerly known as the Retro-Redux Shrug but what does that really mean?).

The last time you saw it, it looked like this:

Since then I seamed the sleeves together (thanks Teacher Heather!) and I picked up and knit over 200 stitches (the second time around. The first time I had considerably less. The lesson learned, pay attention to inches vs centimeters).
Now it looks like this:
shrug finished floor
(Looks kind of like a devouring mouth, right?)

It looks better on a person, see?
shrug finished front

And from the back
shrug finished back

(Now that it's getting nicer out be prepared for many pictures taken from my balcony or the courtyard)

Now for the specs:
Pattern: Retro-Redux Shrug from Lace Style
Yarn: Debbie Bliss' Stella (60% silk, 20% rayon, 20% cotton), 4 balls plus a few meters of the 5th (if anyone has an idea what I can use the rest of the 5th ball for I'd be very grateful)
Needles: 5.5mm, 6mm and 6.5mm (the pattern uses different needles very creatively)
Date Started: March 8th, 2007
Date Finished: March 21st, 2007 (I think)
I took this project with me when I went home to help my parents finish getting their house ready to sell*. Needless to say, I didn't get much knitting done there although it was nice to have on the long bus rides there and back. The shrug then languished for a few days until Heather taught me to seam. After that it was smooth sailing!
This was a really fun project. The lace pattern was simple but beautiful and the Stella was a joy to knit with. I was concerned about substituting a silk/cotton yarn for the wool the pattern called for but it turned out perfectly. I am very happy with this project.

*They sold the house in three days for above the asking price!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No Cat Pictures Today (Heather)

The first sleeve is done! Sleeves always take longer than you think. If vests looked remotely good on me, I would never knit another sleeve.

Unfortunately, for the sake of symmetry I have to cast on for a second sleeve. In the meantime. the sweater pieces are piling up!

According to my schedule, I am at least a week ahead of where I have to be, though to be fair I didn't allot any days for seaming, so I will need some of that extra time. Maybe if I get far enough ahead I can sneak in a cabled knee sock somewhere? if you want a sneak peek of what (I hope) my Central Park Hoodie will look like, go and visit brand-new blogger Katrinka.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bowing to our Feline Overlords (Heather)

Today I met my first Toronto Knitblogger! Mary DeB and I met up for coffee at Alterknit this morning. While we chitchatted I managed to do more unknitting than knitting, but did eventually finish the second (left) front of the Central Park Hoodie. At home later, I cast on for the first sleeve while my pants dried. On an unrelated note: whoever was driving the Fed-Ex truck on St. Clair West at Vaughan Road ought to review their sense of human decency.

Rain, though, instead of snow! Today's weather was decidedly springly. Spring fever has hit my parents hard this year, as it does every year, back home. Mom starts nearly all of her own flowers at home (and flowers for many friends and relatives as well) and Dad pitches in. Today he had some stern supervision from Chicago, my childhood companion...

I have no idea where Molly and Phlox get it!

Interestingly, Chicago was the feline who taught me to talk 'cat'*. After I left for university, I am told that she would look for me every night, meowing. One day my young cousin remarked to my mom that the cat was saying 'Heather! Heather!'. Mom and Dad both swear that she was. I tried to take her to live with me in the city, but she is a country cat, and decided she is much happier on the farm.

Mike had a busy day as a student teacher and used up all the batteries in the camera. For now, just imagine that the second cardigan front looks appropriately similar to the first. But mirror imaged, obviously. On schedule!

*yes, I have not only admitted talking to my cat... now I have confessed that my cats talk back.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Time Release Sweater (Heather)

After an extremely unproductive weekend of knitting, I finished the back of the Central Park Hoodie, then cast on for the right front last night. I underestimated the speed at which a front could be knitted, and surprised myself by finished the right front today. I have already cast on and finished the ribbing for the second front... despite a shaky start I am right on schedule!

At the risk of being that crazy person who does nothing but photograph her cats, here is a taste of what it is like trying to photograph one's knitting around here:

Yeah, life is hard for knitwear in the sun.

Before I took off for a jam-packed weekend, I managed also to graft the Watermelon Trekking socks!

They fit so nicely. Trekking is certainly not as warm as some of my other socks, which means that I can likely wear these a little longer in the spring. Good stuff!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pieces of Me (Adriana)

Audrey and the shrug haven't moved forward since last time I posted but I decided to show off pictures of their incomplete states anyways. Heather is on her way here right now (!!!) so hopefully I will have some finished objects to show off soon (there's a still a lot of work to do so don't hold your breath).

Audrey in pieces (Note the book at the top of the picture, Fitted Knits, which is totally awesome!!)

The nameless shrug (ok, it has a name, Retro-Redux, but I dislike it and haven't settled on a better one yet)

A close up of the lacey stitch pattern

I decided to knit Sizzle even though I didn't get gauge. Thanks to the advice of the wise Heather, I was able to knit a larger size and, hopefully, get a properly fitting garment (I really should try it on soon just in case). Sizzle is a really straight-forward knit. I decided to do it in the round because a girl can only handle so much seaming.

I can't believe I actually have three garments on the go right now. I'm so excited to be able to wear them soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sunny Stupor (Heather)

In contrast to the last few warm but distinctly gloomy days, today was brilliantly sunny, but only 0 degrees (Celsius). For those of us in an West-facing apartment, it was a sunny, sleepy afternoon. Phlox needs to work on more flattering napping positions.

He usually keeps to Mike's lap, but once I got all my other work done and finally got back to CPH, he planted himself firmly on my legs. I had to do some emergency blogging in situ before the sun went down.

So I have about 12 or 13 inches down at this point, and the pattern says to start the armhole shaping at 13.5". I want a longer sweater, so I am going to knit to 15" and then start. I ought to have more than enough yarn to satisfy this modification. Speaking of yarn, I absolutely love it when the yarn cake becomes a yarn nest. See what I mean? It is nice to be working with a sticky, woolly yarn!

We are visiting our Alma Mater this weekend to hear a conference on anger in the ancient world. I don't know how much knitting time this will afford me, but it will be nice to be in our old stomping grounds!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Debate (Heather)

"So, it is pretty warm out there. All the snow is gone"
"Yeah, but it won't last. It never does."
"Oh Phlox, you are such a pessimist."

What? The conversation was obviously taking place. And it mirrors a few dialogues I have held (with humans) in the past two days. Temperatures of 14 degrees do not a spring make, not when the snow will be returning on Friday. Don't rush spring, folks! It will come, it will come.

Against every likelihood I knit another selkirk swatch.

I don't seem to have 3.75mm needles, or more likely I do have them and can't find them anywhere. So I went down to 3.5mm, and it seems to be fine. I measured once, got gauge, then threw it away before it could change.

I cast on the back last night and got the ribbing done this morning. I want to add 2 inches to the length of the sweater, but I decided to add it to the pattern instead of the rib. I like the proportions of the sweater as it is shown, and I think that adding in pattern will least disrupt that. It is cooking along at a fair rate.

I am cabling without a cable needle, and that seems to be working quite well for me. As always with cabled items, I am constantly impressed by how fast it seems to be moving along. I blame it on the mentality of 'well, there are only three more rows until the cable row, so I will just get that far before I put it down'.

The photo is fairly true to the colour (I love our camera) though the yarn is a little less luminous than the photo suggests. It is not a soft wool, but it has great body, and it really makes the cables 'pop'. It doesn't have any tweedy bits (only lots of straw) but I think it is the perfect stash yarn for this project. Serendipity! I bought it from Ram Wools during a Valentine's sale, and am currently very happy that I did.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Too Many Options! (Adriana)

I had a lovely trip home where some shrug knitting was accomplished (I'll show pictures when I have daylight and time). I'm most of the way through Audrey's second sleeve but once I'm done that I'll need to wait for Heather's visit this weekend (squee!) before I can do any more work on that project. In need of a new project I went stash diving and emerged with 750m of dk weight cotton in a dark blue. At first I was thinking about making Green Gable but then I started discovering all sorts of other beautiful patterns and now I can't decide.
Here are the ones I'm considering:

green gable
Green Gable

honeymoon cami
Honeymoon Cami


silk camisole
The Silk Camisole from Last Minute Knitted Gifts



I have not done a gauge swatch yet but the ballband says it's 24st/4" on 3.5mm needles. I think that a swatch might help narrow down my options.

Any thoughts? I'm a tank-top-y kind of girl so I suspect that I will end up making several of these but I need some help knowing where to begin.

A Journey of Three Sweaters (Heather)

Starts with the first swatch?

I need to get 17 stitches to 4 inches. I am using a yarn that recommends 19 stitches on 5mm. In my world, a 5mm really means 4mm. For kicks I knit a swatch on 4mm addis and what do I get? 16 sts to 4 inches. I am debating how important this is to me. Note that I made a real 6 inch swatch here! And I washed it and dried it. Take THAT!

248 metres of worsted weight yarn makes for a sizable ball. I had to bring out the plus-sized model for this photo:

Here is the grey yarn I have for Clessidra. To demonstrate the greyness of the yarn, my grey cat thought it was a long lost cousin. Or perhaps a dust bunny (he sees enough of those!).

I did NOT manage to graft the watermelon socks last night or this morning. Perhaps tonight!

It is hard to think of wool socks when for the snow is melting all around. It is nice to see the snow melt because it means spring might be showing its face soon. On the negative size, the street crud that was hiding in huge drifts is percolating towards the sidewalk...

Spring in the city!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Surge (Heather)

Spring does crazy things to a person. It takes those ideas that flit through your head in the wee hours and makes them pop up where you least expect it... like on your blog!

I am feeling the revival of my knitting mojo. I finished the second trekking sock this morning, they only need to be grafted now. All that plain stockinette got my knitting fingers twitchin'. I suspect that a long line of tricky projects requiring far too much fiddling and calculations sucked the joy of knitting right out of me. Three log cabin squares and two stockinette socks have reminded me that it is a pleasure to follow a pattern sometimes.

Also, I had a look at my New Years Knitting resolutions and noted that I have only finished one sweater this year, and that was York, which I had started last August! Clearly though my yarn diet has stayed on track (though that truly pains me today) I have not been honouring the spirit of the yarn diet, and that is knitting some sweaters with the yarn I have been pack-ratting.

So, thanks to a heady mix of spring fever and stock-piled wool fumes, an idea has bored its way into my head.

Spring Sweater Surge!

Starting today, March 12th, I will knit one sweater a month for three months. On June 12th, I will have three new sweaters.

Month One:

Central Park Hoodie. I have lots of Selkirk in a true red colour that will do nicely for this. It is not very soft, but neither is the yarn called for, so it ought to work out well. And if I finish this first, it will do nicely as a spring jacket stand-in.

Month Two:

Greek Pullover in Rowan Kid Classic: I will enjoy picking out the organza for this one! After cabling for the first month, plain stockinette will possibly be a relief?

And finally,

Month Three:

Salina, in Rowan Felted Tweed. I saved the smallest gauge for last, but if it is already stiflingly hot by June, Felted Tweed might save me.

Now, I hope to celebrate some mini-milestones along the way, but if all goes well, I will be celebrating June 12th more than usual!

So. Am I crazy? Crazy like a FOX?

(edited to replace the teeny-weeny Greek Pullover picture with one that you can actually see)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Uh-Oh (Adriana)

Look what I bought today:


Guess that means I'll be getting back into sewing! My mom needed my help making curtains for a few rooms and it brought back all my love of sewing. Hello new obsession! I'll definitely be calling on Fabric Fan for tips and advice since I haven't made a garment since I was 15. Unfortunately I'll have to wait until my parents return my sewing machine to dive into this new hobby. That will give me more time to knit!

Speaking of, I have been working very hard these past few days. It's all the last little details of getting your house ready to sell that are the worst. I had to go on strike to get this evening off to rest (not really, my mom was exhausted too) so I should be able to get some knitting done (I have made some progress on my Shrug but there has been no time for pictures). Despite all the hard work and loss of knitting time I'm still happy to be home :)

Roots of Pathos (Heather)

Don't worry, the following post is not as dire as the title suggests. A pothos vine I renamed my pathos vine suffered a dehydration trauma a few months ago, and to remedy this, for some reason I clipped off the vine from the stem and stuck it in a handy bottle of water.

Only after I had done so was I mildly corrected, that it would take months for the slip to take roots, and that the long vine would quickly die. Well, there were more than a few leafy casualties, but the majority of the leaves stayed green, and now...

Roots!! I didn't kill it after all!! My mother, when I sent her this picture, wisely recommended that I transfer the slips to a new, more wide-necked container, as the roots would keep on growing, but the neck of the bottle would not. Since I would rather not go the mess and bother of breaking the bottle in situ, I will do so.

I had a post all ready in my head the other day, but a head cold and a busy schedule kept me from realizing its potential. I even had it photographed!

The trekking sock was a creature of fits and starts. In one sitting I knitted the cuff and about three inches of sock. In the next sitting I knit to the heel. Then the heel and half the foot, then the foot and the entire toe. Since usually a sock is a long gradual process for me, it was interesting to note that although none of these sittings happened in the same day, it would be entirely possible for me to knit a sock in two days, possibly even in one, if I had the right motivation and particularly strong wrists. Alas, I am a sucker for a distraction, and I finished the first sock (for all intents and purposes; I will graft them both together) in five days of very intermittent knitting.

And i virtuously cast on for the second sock in the same sitting as I finished the toe of the first. Last night I made a lot more progress on socke the seconde and it is halfway to the heel already. I have intentionally made these socks as long as I can without requiring increases to accommodate my calves. I know that five days is not that impressive for knitting one sock, but it seems encouraging to me, and confirms that sock-knitting might be just the thing to get me out of my knitting slump.

Speaking of sock patterns, dis anyone else get twitchy when they saw Clessidra? The only thing stopping me from casting on rightthisminute is that I have enough yarn in only one colour: grey. It's even the called-for Regia Silk, but will grey properly convey the richness of the pattern? And how would they look on my pale chicken legs?? The debate rages.

In other news, my windowsill is a veritable bumper crop of blooms! It looks like the final count will be eight blossoms from two bulbs.

Sure brightens up the room!