Sunday, April 29, 2007

Go on, Frolic! (Heather)

Saturday was entirely consumed by the Downtown Knit Collective Spring Knitter's Frolic. This was my first year, and I was working in the Needles and Pins booth. This is actually a fantastic way to do a show without spending a fortune, since you only go out into the show proper in short bursts. You get to see everything, but you have a reason to be there besides buying everything you see *ahem*

And you get to see the most amazing knits! I was running the cash when I saw this drift by:

Babette! The blanket that simultaneously makes me want to crochet and quilt. Someday this blanket will be mine. This one was actually coming home to roost, since the kit came from Needles and Pins. Totally drool-worthy. And the baby who was wrapped up in it was pretty adorable too.

It was an incredibly busy day in our booth, just a few short breathers while knitters hit the workshops, but I did get to make a quick shopping run. Since I was feeling committed to not buying yarn (and we were having an Alchemy sale, people!), I knew exactly what I should get.

Palmwood buttons! Bought from the same man who made my walnut buttons. He assured me that they are completely real, despite the opinion of everyone who sees my walnut buttons. He tumbles them in sand to give them that nice finish, no shellac or varnish needed, so they are totally washable. Very very cool. I had a hard time choosing between these and the yew buttons, but these were just too fun to pass up.

I am in love with these buttons. I meant to get the man's card for blogging purposes, but he was busy helping someone else by the time I thought of it. He'll be at the K-W fair, I'm sure.

The DKC Frolic was HUGE! I think it was bigger than the K-W fair, and the venue was gorgeous. It was held in the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and everything was just picture-perfect. Our room was a bit sauna-like, however, and I came home feeling like I had worked a full day in the jungle. Despite that, what a terrific day!

Some koigu did follow me home...

Mike and I are heading out to London for a few weeks, so I will be back at the yarn store! It's a good thing that fabric wasn't included in my yarn diet, that's all I'm saying.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Distractions (Heather)

Rachel's comment on my last post made me laugh because I had indeed gone out and found more buttons... I want to keep those ten together for when I need them. We went to a little button store on Queen St. West (just buttons! the whole store!) and picked out these little gems. I had some grey abalone ones picked out, but they didn't have the smallest size in stock. These are slightly irridescent and slightly irregular and I am quite taken with them.

I bought an extra because I have a way of losing wee things.

I had some sewing to do last weekend, and instead of lending me her sewing machine like she had offered to, my aunt gave me a very early birthday present:

I have played around with scraps of sheet that I had lying around, and it works like a dream! I mean, I am no sewing machine expert by any measure, but I plugged it in, followed the simple threading instructions, and it sewed a seam. Compared to the ones I have tried before, this is nothing less than a miracle for me.

So now, what was a dull feeling that I would like to start sewing/quilting has turned into a raging itch. I decided that I couldn't wait for next week to get started, so I dragged my very good sport of a spouse to Fabricland.

Now, I work in a yarn store. I kind of expected that happy feeling of being around yarn to apply to shopping for fabric. Now, the only problem I have with yarn shopping is choosing from among all the wonderful ideas I have, choosing from all the yarns I want to take home. Instead, we wandered around, looking at everything, not really feeling excited about anything we saw. I asked for help twice, but was greeting with complete indifference. I figured out how to pick out a pattern (it's done in a different way than I have seen before), but the woman at the patterns desk was not very pleased to have been interrupted. We were about to leave altogether when I saw a neat flimsy sheer fabric. I had just so happened to bring along a pattern that Rosemary made for me last year, and one of the alternates is a lined skirt! I took the bolt and my pattern to the cutting desk, which happened to be manned by the only saleswoman who seemed inclined to provide customer service! She read the pattern requirements for me, she helped me pick out an appropriate lining (the blue... she and Mike outvoted me for it), and of course she cut my fabric.

Then of course we were met with more disdain and disinterest when we went to pay, but thank heavens for the cutting table lady! Honestly. If someone came into the yarn store and wanted nothing but a yarn suggestion, I would damn well help them. And do so encouragingly. Not the best of introductions to the world of sewing, that's all I'm saying. But now I have what I need, so I will give it a shot.

Still working away on Evie... there is really not that much left to do, this is a really quick knit, but I have been really busy this week with this and that, and have barely picked up the needles. I will finish the knitting tonight, block and sew tomorrow, then it's time for the DKC Knitter's Frolic! If you are going to the show, come on by and find us as Needles and Pins!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mail Day! (Adriana)

It was a big day at the post office for me yesterday.
This may look like a huge haul but, actually, none of it is for me.

I really enjoy knitting for loved ones and so I wanted to make something for my friend Ev. But as much as I love surprising people with knitted goods, sometimes it’s worth ruining the surprise to make sure that they have something they like and will wear. For her birthday Ev is getting a bolero made from a pattern and yarn of her choosing.
ev's bolero 1
This is Wool of the Andes Bulky in Emerald, coincidentally the same yarn I used to make a cardigan last fall so I was able to use the remaining two balls.
The white yarn in front is for the sock dyeing challenge created by Rosemary for herself, Heather and I. There will be more about this once it gets off the ground.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My mom and I both fell in love with Heather’s log cabin blanket in progress, and we agreed that a new house warrants a new blanket. My mom picked out the yarn and paid for it, and I get the fun of knitting it! I love this kind of deal.
This is Noro Kureyon 92 and Peruvian Wool Antique Rose. (12 balls of Kureyon are hard to find; I devoted an entire morning to the task.)

I had my doubts initially about the colour combination but now that I see them together I think they are stunning! I’m so psyched to play with the Kureyon. The colour changes makes everything more fun. I can’t wait to start knitting this up but unfortunately I can’t cast on right away. I need to wait until the arrival of the lovely Lady Genevieve on Friday evening with my 5.5mm Addi needle. Gen is set to arrive around 9pm so I plan on casting on at 9:10pm (I’ve allotted 10 minutes to hug and squeal and get her set up in the guest room. Then we knit).

Lately my thoughts have been drifting towards sewing projects but now it’s time to concentrate on knitting. I need to have the socks done by May 20th, the bolero by June 16th and the blanket by the time it gets cold outside (ok, so maybe that’s not much of a deadline but I would like to have the first two done to show my mom on May 20th which shouldn’t be a problem).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Grafting Socks for fun and profit (Adriana)

There are two things wrong with that title. First of all, none of the socks I am working on are for sale and second of all, I don't actually like to graft. For several years I refused to do anything but toe-up socks because I hated the Kitchener stitch. Luckily, Heather taught me how to do it properly (don't ever put the grafting needle up the middle of the toe) which has opened up my horizons and allowed me to be able to do top-down socks. Unfortunately I still don't like doing it but it's good at least to know how. I grafted four socks today which is definitely a new record for me.

First up, the completed Monkey socks!
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. This was my first time doing one of her patterns and I am definitely a fan. I'm looking forward to our Pomatomus KAL happening sometime this summer.
Yarn: Koigu in purple from Ramwools.
Needles: 2.5mm
Date Started: April 10, 2007
Date Finished: April 22, 2007

I also made some progress with Granny's Birthday socks.
grannyssock6 grannyssock7
I finally completed both feet which means it is time to undo my provisional cast on and start knitting the leg. It's going to be an interesting experience for me since I'll be knitting both at the same time to make sure that they're identical. I need to figure out how to increase from 8inches to 13 at the top. Luckily the Keyboard Biologist put together an excellent tutorial on how to do just that.
I have less than a month to complete these socks and I need to get knitting because I will soon have some very distracting packages arriving :)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Buttons buttons buttons (Heather)

I haven't got too much done since my last post, but I have been creeping along on Evie. It has been a somewhat busy week, though the next few promise to be fairly hectic too. I am at the neck shaping of the first piece, and since the second piece is identical, it should be a fairly simple thing to get done. I have been engaging in a bit of much needed spring cleaning as well, and Adriana (along with dozens of bloggers out there) is trying to melt my brain by throwing pictures of gorgeous quilts at me.

In the meantime, I was pondering buttons. I almost forgot that Salina calls for four buttons (I could have sworn it was more) on the lapel. I went through my button stash (this is not a big stash, but I have accumulated a few nice pieces). These are the only buttons I have that are in the right size range.

(that's a quarter, for scale)

Courtesy of Rosemary, for my graduation last spring. I tried to capture the colour, but without a cloudy sky, there wasn't a lot of ambient light for picture taking (not that I am complaining about the gloriously blue sky!). The buttons are dark charcoal, almost like hematite, with the same gentle sheen as an oil slick on a puddle. They are mostly matte. Now, in this picture the red of the Felted Tweed is not quite right, so here is a better look at yarn colour:

Are these the right buttons? I really hate to break them up to only use four out of ten, so I am inclined to keep my eyes out tomorrow when we hit Queen Street West for unrelated purposes. Any comments? Suggestions?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sock Stuff (Adriana)

I'm really liking this whole team-blog thing. It's great to have someone to pick up the slack when you're not able to knit, or when your knitting is boring to photograph. Although I've been knitting every day I don't feel like I have much to show for it. I've been working on socks which are slow going. I finished the first Monkey sock last night so I finally have something to show off!

Unfortunately this is a difficult sock to photograph.
Here are some other attempts:
I will try to get some better pictures when the pair is done. Maybe then I'll get someone else to photograph them rather than throwing my leg up on the dining room table in an attempt to catch the last of the natural light.

I also decided to model the first foot of the Granny socks.
The Regia silk is so dreamy to wear. According to Heather the solid colour is actually softer which just feeds my desire for more of this yummy yarn. I do have a birthday coming up...

Curious about the state of the mates?
Yeah, I have some knitting to do.
I don't really have a deadline besides the May long weekend (Granny's birthday) but I might have put in three (3) orders for yarn last week which should be showing up soon and I'd like to have as lot done on these socks before I get seduced by my new precious.

On a less happy sock note, when I went to put on my Dragon socks this weekend I made a worrying discovery:
Eeek! Holes! I have barely worn these socks so they can't be from wear. It looks like the yarn was cut in two places. I inspected my other handknit socks but none of them show any damage. Just to be on the safe side I tossed all the socks into the freezer. Moths seem to most logical explanation for holes in knitting but I just can't figure out how they got into my sock drawer. I live in an high-rise and we haven't opened our windows since last fall.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Imagine Some Clever Title Here (Heather)

So much for a knitting slump! Suddenly I am working on two very intriguing projects. I am obsessed with both of them, but for very different reasons.

Salina is a long-time knitting crush of mine. I have been smitten by Rowan Felted Tweed since I first laid eyes on it, but this is the first time I have actually knit with it. I am constantly charmed by the colour and texture of the yarn, and continually surprised that a yarn of such a fine gauge (23 sts/4 inches) is knitting up so quickly and efficiently. I honestly thought that the first sleeve would take forever and a day, but it knit up in a little over a day. I cast on for the second sleeve today and I am already nearing the sleeve cap (and getting a little twitchy). Must. Keep. Momentum. I also joined the Salina-along. There are some fantastic sweaters emerging over there! Also, how much does this colour rock?

The project I am working on for Needles and Pins is coming along nicely too! The Stella is dreamy, the colour is very invigorating. I am a real sucker for lime. I am making quite good time on it, I am past the armholes on the first piece. I did expect this to be a very fast knit, considering the gauge of 17 sts/4 inches, but I did not reckon for the slower knitting from a silk/cotton blend. Instead of letting my sts resolve themselves like I do with a wool yarn, I am taking more care forming each stitch. Adriana says that she didn't encounter this at all, so it might just be me. Frankly, since it is a pleasure to knit, I don't mind spending a little more time on it.

Also, the book (Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton/Stella) the pattern is from? Fantastic. I can think of at least four or five other garments I would knit in a heartbeat. And the fact that the book is divided between Pure Cotton and Stella. The gauge seems fairly interchangeable, so anyone buying the book for either yarn would have quite the array of options.

All in all, the knitting is pretty darn fun right now!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Central Park Hoodie (Heather)

Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Cable

I did sew the last button on this baby at 10 AM on Easter Sunday, finishing it just in time to wear to church (my determination was perhaps fueled by the fact that I had packed no other appropriate outfit) and so I did have my new sweater for that day. Even a bonnet, if you count the hood.

None of my pictures are that helpful for people who want details on the sweater, but really it looks pretty darn exact to the pictures in Knitscene (yay!) but if anyone has questions or want to see a particular part, just let me know.

We may have gotten a little artsy accidentally. Yesterday afternoon we walked up and down Yonge St. and generally had a good time. It was almost dusk when we got off the subway, so we had a short window of time to take a few pictures.

(could I look goofier? must be spring fumes)

One of the things I love most about this sweater is the colour. It is so super-saturated that I am sure I will have to wash it separately all its life, but it is completely worth it. Look at how it pops out from the gray of spring! When I walk down the street in it (and trust me, I throw it on whenever I am leaving the apartment) I feel like I couldn't stand out more from the dreary sidewalks and naked hedges if I were wearing a fluorescent orange vest. Now, my goal is not usually to stand out, but for this sweater I will make a happy exception.

It was a great pattern to knit, some errata, but nothing that I couldn't have figured out on my own. A very fast knit, despite the hood. (note: there is a LOT more knitting in a hood than you think there is. It is the area equivalent to about 2/3 of the back!) The cables are easy-peasy without a cable needle, and with the nice elasticy wool they spring into place and really pop.

So: the details!

Central Park Hoodie
Started: March 12, 2007
Finished: April 8, 2007
Pattern: Knitscene, Fall 2006, from Rosemary!
Needles: This loose knitter used a 3.5mm Addi for everything but the ribbing.
Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk in Red (120) 4.5 skeins (248m each)

Modifications: I extended the main body (the cable repeats) of the sweater in length. I wanted a size small for snugness, but I am long-waisted and this extension makes the sweater much more wearable than it would have been on me.

I also extended the button bands to 2" instead of 1.5". I don't know if I would do this again, the edges of the button bands flip up a bit, but I haven't actually blocked them yet, so we shall see.

I wet blocked all the main pieces, and it really really improved the wool. This is a rough under-processed wool with lots of vegetable matter in it, but with a fairly even ply. The label says it gets softer with each wash, and I have had no problem with it against my skin so far.

This is a warm snug sweater, and I have been wearing it as a jacket over a tank top in our April weather of 5 degrees. It might be chilly, but the snow is gone and the plants are starting to wake up again!

I have started my next Spring Surge Sweater and am beavering away on my store project. Pictures (yay!) to come.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Camera Shy (Heather)

So it's April 12th. End of the first sweater deadline, and you are just going to have to take my word for it that the Central Park Hoodie is done! In the bustle of packing up on Easter Sunday we left the cord for the digital camera at Mom and Dad's. We went and picked up a replacement at Staples, but discovered that our camera "only" takes a special brand of ($50) cord. Rather than open the new cord and chance it, we are taking it back. Mom was kind enough to mail our cord to us, and we now know to keep it very close!

In the meantime, you will have to use your imagination!

Knitwear just doesn't scan well. Have any of you ever seen Koigu flash like this?? I like it, I just hope the other skein does the same. I am almost up to the wrist decreases on the second gauntlet, but I have to wind the next ball before I can get back to it.

Instead, I have been working on a new project!

This is Evie, a design in the Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton/Stella book. I am knitting it for my home LYS (where I worked for two years) in London Ontario, Needles and Pins. So far I have successfully swatched and knit five inches or so for a front (or a back... they are identical). The Stella is so soft and squooshy! I am really enjoying this knit; I am a big Debbie Bliss fan.

I am working on a swatch for the next sweater, but since Evie is using my 4mm needles, I am swatching for Salina instead of Greek Pullover. And Adriana was kind enough to point me to a Salina-along!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Little Things (Adriana)

It was a busy long weekend for me too. I helped my parents find a new house! It's absolutely perfect for them and there's a room for me too. While I was gone I was able to gain some headway on Granny's socks.
The first foot is done (the toe just needs grafting) and look at how much yarn is left to do the rest of the leg. I've started the second foot next because I want to knit the legs together so I get the increases right.

I think I've finally gotten the desire to knit baby things out of my system but not before I made this:
baby vest
It's a baby vest made with Mission Falls 1824 wool left over from Tubey.
The pattern is loosely based on Debbie Bliss' Argyll Slip-Over

I also whipped out a One Skein Wonder in purple Warani
This is such a clever knit and it only uses 150m of yarn! I will be making more in the future.

Now it's time to return to the monkey.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Long Weekend (Heather)

This remote blog brought to you by my mom's computer. I hope everyone is having a spectacular Easter weekend! My mom is doing her best to send us each back at least ten pounds heaver. Last night she cooked a ten pound turkey for the four of us. If this continues, I may have to knit some pants.

I still have high hopes for Central Park to make its Easter debut tomorrow, despite the fact that it has only half a sleeve set in. I don't think this is a problem, since I am at Mom and Dad's and the many distractions that kept me from seaming thus far are absent.

On the other hand, lots of fun Easter distractions!

We employed a variety of dyeing techniques this year. I am craving hardboiled eggs so badly right now! Just... a few... more hours!

In order to make some actual progress, I only brought one knitting project besides the Central Park Seaming. You may remember this yarn from my mini-stash flash:

I am working these into another pair of gauntlets from Sally Melville's The Purl Stitch. This is a fantastic pattern for a beginner knitter. In fact, it was my very first knitted project in which I utilitzed that tricky maneouver called the purl stitch. Ah, memories. That pair was in Koigu also. This pair is going much more quickly than the first (maybe three years of frenzied knitting has something to do with that?)

Reposing on a bed of teeny-tiny petunias. You should have seen my mom's face when she saw this picture. I thought I might be sleeping outside tonight...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Eventful Day (Heather)

It has been a busy day of knitting, after a short knitting slump.

Busy, not always productive. I finished another chart repeat of Clessidra and the tenth leg decrease. Then I checked the pattern to make sure I did the next and last decrease correctly. Upon which I discovered that the next leg decrease took place on the sixth row, not the twelfth.

Coincidently, the last four leg decreases did the same thing. Except mine didn't.

The green marker shows the last point at which the pattern is correct. I posted my situation at the knitalong, and I am waiting to frog in case someone comes up with some amazing suggestion. From now on my knitting mantra is; check the pattern check the pattern check the pattern... Which is an improvement from this afternoon's mantra which was crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap!

In a desperate bid to save the day's productivity, I did manage to finish the knitting on Central Park. Pardon the terrible picture, I finished casting off after dark, and didn't want to wait for morning.

Now I seam in the sleeves and the sides and weave in more ends than there really ought to be considering the balls are 250m each and I spit spliced everything I could. Honestly.

I have decided that it would be awfully nice to wear a new sweater for Easter...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Little Things (Adriana)

flowers from pete
These were waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday. I have the best boyfriend!

I was on such a roll working on Audrey, the Shrug and Sizzle that when I was finished (or, in the case of Sizzle, forced to stop) I didn't know what to knit. There are Granny's socks but they are more of a long-term project since they don't need to be finished until the May long weekend. I had borrowed Heather's One Skein book in an effort to use up some of those lonely skeins of yarn and I was attracted to the cute baby projects in the book. While I won't be needing baby things for a long time, more and more friends and coworkers seem to be getting pregnant so I figured that it wasn't a bad idea to build up a stash of baby gifts. Plus they're so fast to knit and oh so cute!

Baby Hat with Umbrella Lace pattern
Knit in about 2.5 hours with the Calmer left over from Audrey.

Petal Bib in some dishcloth cotton
This pattern helped me get over my fear of short-rows not in socks and applied i-cord edging, neither of which are actually that scary.

baby bolero
Baby Bolero and matching hat in Mission Falls 1824 Wool left over from Tempting.
Beware the extreme cuteness!!

Next up in my attempt to use up my stash is a baby vest and a few One Skein Wonders.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Stash Flash! (Heather)

Well, Adriana outed me as a yarn pack-rat. But not a repentant one... I come by my stashing tendencies honestly and I really like my stash. In fact, there are very few regrettable items, and for the most part the abundance is inspiring instead of overwhelming. I am on a yarn-diet right now, but not really because of shame but because I really really love the yarns I have bought and want to work with them before I move forward. To each their own, eh?

Instead of flashing you the entire stash (which would eat up my day and yours, as well as give some people heart attacks) I decided to showcase the yarns that have been catching my eye more than others lately... ones that are on the top of my list. Click to make the picture larger!

You've already met the red Felted Tweed and the purple Kid Classic, they will be sweaters before June 12th, if I have my way. The fuzzy blue and green is Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit, which is a delicious angora and has been wanting to be knit up since I bought it. The purple/grey luxury tweed beside it is a lovely alpaca/lambswool blend that needs to be made into something very special, perhaps this coming fall. The grass-green Noro Cash Iroha is at the top of my list for must knits, but I don't quite know what to use it for. I bought the two skeins for a pair of gauntlets, but I am not sure I need another pair at this very moment. At the far end is two skeins of very colourful koigu which I have earmarked for a special project, some Rowan 4 ply cotton that would love to be a summer blouse, and two colourways of Fleece Artist Merino sock yarn. One will be Pomotamus when I give my eager KALers the word, and the other had better be something special too!

So yes... I guess I have my work cut out for me. Which means I ought to be knitting more right now, but as is normal, I hit a slump during the weekend. Things ought to pick up, and I am still well ahead of my deadline for the Central Park Hoodie, though I don't want to tempt fate.

In other news, on my way to make the coffee this morning, I noticed dew on my Pothos vine:

Is this normal? There were other leaves with droplets as well, perfect and tiny. They were gone within an hour.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Flash Your Lonely Stash (Adriana)

Today is Flash Your Stash Day! I don't really have much of a stash (unlike some who will go unnamed *cough* Heather *cough*) so I thought it was be rather boring to show it off. Instead I went through and took pictures of the lonely balls of yarn which remain projectless (I'm one of those weird knitters who will usually just buy yarn with a project in mind). I thought that I could take advantage of the brain power of our readers and hopefully some projects can be thought of to make use of these lovely yarns.

On a side note, I'm feeling rather directionless knitting-wise right now. I was knitting away on Sizzle, fully intending to finish it soon, when my repetitive stress injury started acting up again. I think it's a combination of my job and knitting with cotton, since when I work with wool I don't seem to have a problem. Consequently Sizzle has been shelved until my job finishes at the end of April. To tide you over until then here's a picture:
I have finished the waist decreases and would have been able to start the increases.
I had been hoping to make Green Gable next with some gorgeous green Hempathy but that's out of the question until next month.

So I need your help to come up with projects for my lonely stash.

300m of Inca Gold Sport (bulky alpaca), 300m of Warani (worsted alpaca/wool) and 90m of DB Cashmerino Aran.
Originally purchased to make a matching cabled hat and scarf, I am no longer interested in that project.

125m DB Pure Silk, 110m Classic Elite Lush (light worsted angora/wool), 100+m Warani (alpaca/wool)

Assorted bits of Mission Falls wool left over from Tubey. The 2 white and 1 purple are complete balls while the rest are less. Since this is superwash I was thinking about using it to make baby gifts but I'm not sure what.

An unknown quantity of fingering weight cashmere given to me by a relative. I was thinking about doubling this but I'm not sure what to make of it. The colour doesn't worry me as I could overdye it.

And just for fun:
It's Cleo buried in yarn!

So... any ideas? I'd like to add that I have Heather's One Skein book with me but it hasn't been much help with these yarns (it has helped with others as will be revealed in a future post).
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.