Tuesday, May 29, 2007

One down, one to go

One of the experimental toe up socks is complete! I sat down this morning, with instructions on how to do a provisional cast off in hand, and did it. It went much more quickly than I thought it would; I realized very quickly that it really is no different than doing the Kitchener stitch at the toe of a sock, except that all your stitches are on the same needle.

Here's how it looks...

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And a close-up of the tubular cast off...

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Now, I have a small confession to make. Do you see how I'm holding the edge of the sock so you can't see all the way around? Well, I'm not really happy with the way the two ends came together. The instructions don't really tell you how to finish it off in the round. It won't fall apart or anything, but there's a small gap there that I tried to hide. I didn't hide it very well, but it won't fall apart and when I'm wearing the socks no one will see it, so I'm not overly concerned. If, however, you have a suggestion on how to properly finish the tubular cast off, please let me know, or point me in the right direction.

All in all, I really like this cast off and I can see using it on anything where the cast off edge will be visible.

For your information, I found the directions that I used over at Savannahchik Knits. She has pictures and everything... a very helpful tutorial.

Now, I'm going to go work on the second sock for a while before heading off to work. I'm at the heel of the second sock, so no second sock syndrome this time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Finally... Pics!

The Beachcomber Tunic... completed and on!

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As stated in previous posts, I've worn it a couple of times now and LOVE it! The yarn, after washing and blocking, has become softer and cozier than I would have thought. It's lightweight, yet quite warm. I suppose it's the alpaca that gives it the warmth.

If you are considering making this top, keep in mind that wool has a lot of "play". The top was a touch on the small side when it came off the needles, but blocking it was magic. If you're using an acrylic or cotton yarn, knit it a touch bigger perhaps.

Incidentally, I never did get John to take pictures; he's just been too busy or too preoccupied. As for pinning him down, well... that's up to your own imagination.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's All About the Socks

That's it today.. socks.

In my last post, I wrote about trying the toe-up socks from IK's Summer 2007 issue. And the knitting so far this week has been all about the socks. Well, mostly.

Here's a progress picture, taken this morning.

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The almost completed sock has been moved on to double-pointed needles, for sizing rather than ease of knitting (although I must admit, I'm finding this sock easier to work on now that it's on dpn's). The foot and ankle area of the socks have been knitted on 2.0 mm (US 0) circulars, using the Magic Loop technique. I'm knitting the remainder of the leg on 2.25 mm dpns, just to give a bit of ease on the leg. The sock feels really nice on the foot (yes, of course I've tried it on!), nice and snug, but I'm afraid that the leg might be a little snugger than I like. Hence, the switch to the slightly larger size.

The heel.

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I lent my sister my copy of Priscilla Gibson-Robert's book, "Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy", the one Ann Budd used for the heel shaping. I couldn't follow PGR's directions for anything. They made no sense to me whatsoever (brain fart, perhaps?) Ann Budd's directions, complete with drawings, however, worked perfectly for me. Maybe it was the step-by-step, numbered paragraphs, that did it for me. For my first real short row heel, I'm satisfied.

I did do one thing differently than the heel shaping called for. In it, PGR and Ann Budd use a p3tog through the back loops. I simply purled three stitches together. Unless you know of an easier way to p3tog tbl, that doesn't require the use of bodily manipulations, I'll stick with p3tog.

The toe.

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I really like the cast on I used for this one. The pattern uses an Eastern cast on, which I tried, but really didn't like doing. This one looks good and it was easy. As well, the instructions, on Knitty's web site (I'll put the link in my sidebar for convenience), were clear and easy to follow.

For the cast off, when I get there, I'd like to try the tubular cast off. I've printed up a sheet of instructions on the how-to, and have a couple more web sites bookmarked. A friend here uses that cast off on her toe-up socks and I really like the look of it. As well, it seems to have a good amount of stretch to it. So, I'll give it a try. What the heck? This pair has become an experiment in progress, so why not complete them as an experimental pair, right?

Leslie asked if I've tried Queen Kahuna's cast-on. Yes, I have. It's fine, but I think I still like Judy Becker's Magic Cast-On better. It "feels" easier to me. Makes no sense at all, really. I guess what it comes down to is a matter of personal preference.

The Beachcomber Tunic, incidentally, is complete. I've already worn it a couple of times and love it! When it first came off the needles, it felt a little snug. Crochet seems to work up more tightly than knitting, but once blocked, the top fit perfectly and softened up beautifully. When I can pin my photographer down (no, wait... that's for another area of the house), I'll get him to take some pictures of the tunic on me. Knitted sweaters just don't look good on the hanger; they need to be ON a body to truly show them off.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'm baaaaaack!

I'm home. My four days in Abbotsford were pretty busy, somewhat stressful and, generally, satisfying. We got my Dad settled into his new home; well, as settled as you can be when somewhere inside your mind you know you'll never leave this place alive. He does have Alzheimer's, but not so far advanced that he doesn't know what's going on to some degree. That was the stressful part. I got to see all of my grandchildren, including the newest addition to the family, Teagan. That was the satisfying part. Having all that family around, including siblings and extended family, was the busy part.
I did knit; the Beachcomber tunic is complete and almost sewn up. Only one underarm seam remains to be sewn up; then I'll block the sweater and take pictures of it. Until then, no pictures.
For something semi-mindless, I've done these...
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The pattern is Dave's, fellow blogger whose blog can be found at Criminy Jickets. The pattern is in his side bar, in pdf format, or in the post I linked to. If you've never done entrelac before and would like to learn the basics of it, this is a great pattern to try. Just follow Dave's directions carefully, and you'll soon understand how entrelac works. And it's fun!
I don't often knit dishcloths, but now and then I like to make one or two and I don't use them in the kitchen; I prefer to use them as facecloths. Because they're 100% cotton, they're great to use on your face. They're soft and yet, they provide a gentle exfoliation. If you've never used the knitted dishcloths as facecloths, you should!
Aside from knitting these dishcloths, I also decided to give toe-up socks another go. I've made a pair before, for myself, but I really don't like how the heel feels when I first pull the socks on. Once I get used to the feel, honestly, it's fine; I'm just picky. The spring/summer issue of Interweave Knits has a most excellent tutorial (by Ann Budd... one of my favourites) on toe-up socks. I read through it and decided it looked easier to follow than any other book or tutorial I've tried to follow before, so I cast on (using Knitty's Magic Cast On).
Here's how it's looking so far...
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Oh, did I mention that I'm also working them in Magic Loop? Yup, going all out here. One of the girls in my crochet class asked about knitting socks on a circular needle, so I told her I'd cast on a sock using ML. And then, brilliant me, I forgot it at home on the final day of the class. (What can I say... I got in at 9:00 the previous night, stayed up till midnight and was still pretty tired in the morning... the brain still wasn't fully engaged.)
The details... Regia Cotton Java Color, #1184, 41% superwash wool, 34% cotton, 25% polyamide, on a 2.0 mm (US 0) Addi Turbo circular, 40" I think. I like the yarn; I love the colours... we'll see how it goes when I reach the heel.
And that's it for today. The weather forecast calls for cooler, cloudy weather today but, at the moment, the sun is shining and it's gorgeous out. I'm going to go and enjoy it while it's here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

May 6...May already!

So, I'm sitting here trying to come up with a snappy title for this post; it just ain't happening, so I may as well get on with knitting content.

And the knitting has been coming along nicely, I should say. The Beachcomber Tunic (of which there are no new pictures today) is progressing very well. The crochet parts are taking a little longer than anticipated. Using a DK weight yarn and a smaller hook than I might ordinarily use on that yarn isn't the easiest or quickest method. I'm finding that if I try to go too quickly with it, the yarn splits, causing the stitches to tangle up. So, I'm taking my time and doing it right. The front is nearly done now; I'm on the 8th pattern repeat of nine. One sleeve is complete; the knitting part of the second sleeve is almost finished. Really, all that needs to be done yet is the crochet section of the back and finishing the second sleeve. The tunic is my "project to concentrate on" for this week.

The lacy something scarf I was doing for our local hospital is finished, off the needles, blocked and ready to passed into other hands. I started out with Knitty's Branching Out, but decided I didn't like the look of the yarn, the needle size used and the pattern. It just didn't "show" well, you know?

So, I frogged it, consulted Barbara Walker and came up with this...

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...and a close up...

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In her book, she calls this stitch "Checkerboard Mesh". I'd like to give it clever name, but have been unable to come up with anything, so I'm calling it The Checkerboard Mesh Scarf. It was a pretty quick knit. I had it done in just over a week (for me, that's pretty fast!). The details? Louet's Kidlin Pixie yarn in colour 1332, Grasshopper, on 4.0 mm (US6) needles. For those not familiar with this yarn, it's 49% linen, 35% mohair and 16% nylon, and comes in 50 gram skeins (250 yards). One skein gave me a total of 16 pattern repeats and I did 20 repeats. In other words, I used two skeins, with about 3/4 skein left over. The scarf is about 8" wide by approximately 5' in length.

As well as finishing the scarf and working on the tunic, I did (for those of you who wanted to see more of it) work on the Leaf Scarf, too. I think I'll keep that one for myself. I'm really liking the way it feels, the way it looks, the way it drapes.

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For now, though, it's on the back burner. I think this will be one of those projects that can be picked up at any time, worked on one pattern section at a time, and then put away again for a while. I don't mind projects like that.

As I said earlier, the Beachcomber Tunic is my top priority right now. I'd like to have it done this week as I'll be going a way for a few days and would like to be able to take it with me. Yes, I'm taking a few days away to visit family.

I try not to write too much about my family in this blog because it's intended to be, predominantly, a blog about knitting. However, I AM part of a large family and sometimes family life intrudes into my knitting life (how dare it!). A few weeks ago, my mother was admitted to the hospital with chest pains. My father, who is no longer able to be alone because of Alzheimer's, had to be put into a respite care home for now. Thankfully, my mother is back home; apparently the doctors couldn't find a reason for the chest pain, but have adjusted her medications, added more and sent her home. She was also advised not to pick Dad up from respite care; she needs time to recuperate.

Since my children and grandchildren all live in the same town as my parents, I'll be spending some time with them as well as doing what I can for my Mom (cooking mostly, I'm thinking). I'll be catching the bus on Saturday morning and returning home some time on Wednesday. My daughter very kindly pointed out that I would be with them for Mother's Day; I hadn't even realized that. How pathetic is THAT??

The upshot is that I probably won't blog at all next weekend, so I'll see you in a couple of weeks. Till then, keep those needles busy.