Saturday, January 31, 2009

Some Small Measure of Progress

The sun is shining; it's a bright, crisp day here in the Okanagan. That means there's enough light to work on the Ropes & Picots cardigan. That is to say, it's bright enough to knit together the blue and black of the picot edging. This is the beginning of the right front. The back and the left front are both at the same spot, the first underarm decrease. Now that the right front has the pattern set, it won't take long for me to get this piece to the same spot. Once the pattern is set, it's a simple knit, really.

The goal is to have this cardi ready to wear once the weather warms up a little. Spring is, after all, just around the corner, isn't it? Isn't it?

On the glove/mitten front, I've been playing around a bit this week. I have a pair of gloves all charted out and ready to knit. I found some yarn in my stash that I thought would work and got the glove started. It's blah. The colours just don't do it for me. I was hoping it would pop, but it just fizzles. I'll be frogging this. And then, I'll just wait until the right yarn comes along. That said, I do have an idea or two about colours, but it will just have to wait.

Also in the basket, you can see a bit of white knitting. That will become a cute little cardigan for Ethan. The pattern is from an old Phildar baby pattern book that I've had for years. On the front of the cardigan, there are little sailboats sailing along the bottom edge, worked in purl stitches. I'll post pictures of it when I get to that point; right now, it's just white stocking stitch, not terribly interesting to look at.... or knit, for that matter. It's perfect tv knitting. The yarn I'm using for this cardigan is Patons Beehive Baby cotton, no longer available. I found about 8 balls of it in my stash. It's nice and soft, works up nicely and will be eminently washable.

Now that the gloves are again on hold, I've found a Drops mitten pattern that I quite like. And, because I have enough yarn left over from Adrian's Skull Cap, I decided to cast on. I really like the picot edging on these mittens, and the colour-work cuff helps to cinch in the wrist. I did change the pattern just a touch around the thumb, but it's nothing that will take away from the pattern. This is where I'm at as of last night, about halfway up the thumb gusset. Hopefully, I'll get at least one mitten done this weekend.

Even though I know spring isn't far away, I still want these mittens done sooner rather than later. Once all the sidewalks are clear of ice (from packed snow), I'll probably be walking to work again. The mornings will still be chilly, so a nice pair of mittens (which will match my black coat) will come in very handy.

The yarn for these mittens is Pingouin 3,5, 50% wool, 50% acrylic, making them washable and long wearing. I'm knitting them on 4.0 mm needles.

Now, back to knitting... and another cup of coffee.

Friday, January 30, 2009

An FO of the Best Kind

This morning, at 6:10 a.m., Ethan Peter Matthew came into this world. Kristen, Ethan, and his excited big sister Trinity are all well.

I can't wait to meet him!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Warm Hands FO

John has a new pair of mittens! And he loves them! They only took two days to knit up and that's only because I had to go to work.

They're not perfect. There are some imperfections in one glove and on the fingertip of the second glove, I dropped a k2tog without realizing it until John held up a mittenend finger with a hole at the tip. *sigh* It's been sutured and is fine now.

All in all, I'm happy with how these mittens turned out. The pattern is more than a little confusing in a couple of spots, but once I got through the first mitt, the second was a breeze. I can see making more of these. They're just so warm and cozy (according to John).

Now, I'm going to knit mittens for myself. I have the pattern, I have the yarn, I've started the knitting, and I left the pattern at work today. That's just the kind of day it's been.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mitten, Mitten

There's just something about mittens. I'm not sure why I'm in the mood to knit mittens, but somehow two pairs have made it onto my needles. I've cast on for a pair of double-rolled mittens for myself (probably for me, but apparently someone in my family would like a pair, too.. and maybe a pair for her husband, too).

I've also cast on for another pair of mittens from the same book, "Flying Geese & Partridge Feet". These will be Mrs. Martin's Finger Mitts, otherwise known as gunners mitts or finger mitts. They look like a cross between mittens and gloves, having a separate thumb and forefinger; the other three fingers are encased in a mitten. They look a little funny, but I can see the practicality of them. These will be for John. I'm thinking he could use them at work. That said, and knowing him, he'll probably think they're way to good to be used as work mittens.

The yarn for these mittens is stash yarn. The green is Plymouth Galway and the gray is Patons Classic Wool; they're being worked on 3.5 mm needles.

Gail, any colour preferences?? Just in case... :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Flying Geese & Partridge Feet

No, I don't have pictures of geese flying. The title of the post is the title of the book that the pattern for the mittens in the following pictures comes from. This is one half of a pair of double-rolled mittens.

I love it! It's so incredibly warm (although, I haven't actually worn this mitten outdoors), I can feel the heat radiating from my fingers and staying inside the mitten. Does that make sense?

I've only done one of the mittens; I'm only going to do one of the mittens. I was an idiot. I second guessed the pattern and used my not-so-good judgement for the length of the hand. It's too short. Oh well. Knitting this mitten has been a really good learning experience.

I will definitely be making a pair of these for myself. If I'm walking to work in any kind of cold weather, these will definitely keep my fingers nice and warm. I love the look and feel of the cuffs, so cushy and absolutely yummy!

I used some Berocco yarn (worsted weight) from my stash; sorry, I don't remember what it is, only that I was making a cardigan for myself with it and I used it to make a gift scarf for a co-worker. I still have a few balls/cakes (no labels) of the yarn, plenty to make a complete pair of mittens. The inner yarn is part of the free yarn I got a number of years ago, a lighter White Buffalo-type yarn. The cuff is the leftover Bernat Cashmere I used for my wristers. Surprisingly, they're worked on 2.75 mm dpns.

When I do make a complete pair of these mittens, I'm going to alter the pattern slightly at the top shaping. The written instructions are a little unclear as to how they're shaped. I don't think it's a big deal, really. I intend to shape them like other mittens I've made in the past, similar to top down toe shaping. Maybe. And I'll make the hand long enough.

The book, incidentally, is "Flying Geese & Partridge Feet, More Mittens from Up North & Down East" by Robin Hansen with Janetta Dexter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Glove Progress

After work last night, I spent some quality time with the Norwegian gloves. Today, I'm home with a sore neck (not knitting-related, just enough ow factor to keep me home), which gave me the opportunity to take a progress picture. Oh, and to watch the inauguration of the US's 44th president.

More on that in a moment.

I'm really pleased with how this glove is turning out. I have just one concern. I hope it's not going to be too small. My gauge is right on, but when I tried it on last night, the opening for the thumb is much lower than it is in any other gloves I've made before. I'm hoping that is because of the style. We'll see in the next day or so, won't we?

My congratulations to all of you readers who are American. John and I watched Barack Obama's historic inauguration this morning. We're thrilled to hear and see what can only be described as a sense of hope and renewed pride in our neighbours to the south. The tissues were close at hand as we listened to him speak, as we watched the reaction of the crowds. My hope for your country is that this man can live up to the hope and confidence that you, as a country, have invested in him. May God bless him.

Edited to add: The gloves are a no-go. I got halfway through the pinky and tried it on. It's too small, too short. I think I'll try to find a slightly heavier yarn and slightly larger needles. That may be just enough to make this pattern the right size. *Sigh*

I think, in retrospect, the Lanett is really too fine a yarn for this pattern. Yes, it's fingering weight, but it feels finer than something like Louet Gems fingering weight. The Lanett will probably be great for a baby sweater, but not for gloves for me.

So, maybe I should just go ahead and design my own pair anyway???

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Yesterday, I went for a short walk down the street to our local bakery to pick up a loaf of bread. On the way there, I stopped in at a thrift shop, just to look around. It's certainly not my favourite thrift store, but I have found some interesting knitting-related things there, including a Barbara Walker hard cover book and some WW II era double pointed knitting needles, still in their original wrapper.

This time, I came out with two vintage booklets. They're great! The patterns are classic. Some of them I wouldn't put on any child, but others could be easily updated. I paid the grand sum of $1.00 for the two books, just slighly more than the original price.

Having finished John's gloves yesterday, I started thinking about my gloves. Earlier this week, Interweave's Knitting Daily had a free glove pattern, Norwegian Gloves by Nancy Bush. I studied the pattern yesterday and decided to make them. I can't do a lot on them this weekend because I can't print the pattern here at home. My printer's not cooperating; I think it's the cheap ink cartridges. Remind me never to buy them again, ok?

I did, however, knit up the cuff and the first five rows of the colour chart. Tomorrow, I'll print up the pattern at work and continue working on the gloves. The yarn I'm using is SandnesGarn's Lanett superwash wool. It's really nice and soft and is knitting up nicely.

Here's what the gloves will look like when finished.

Here's where I'm at with my gloves, as of this morning. The yarn isn't as white as it appears in the picture, but it also isn't as creamy as the ones in the original picture.

And now, back to the Ropes & Picots cardi.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Third FO of 2009

John's gloves are done! All the ends have been woven in and they've had their picture taken. They fit him well and he likes them. That's all that really matters, isn't it? Actually, I'm very happy with how they turned out.

The yarn is Jarbo Garn, fingering weight. The basic glove pattern is from Ann Budd's "Handy Book of Patterns" and the cuff pattern is my own design.

Now I get to design a pair for me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Technically, It's Not Knitted, But It's A FO

I have my second finished object for 2009. The first FO was the Bernat Cashmere wristers, for which I've not yet written up the pattern. That will happen.

Last week, John and I went to the library and I found a book called "Brilliant Bags". One of the patterns caught my eye. Reading the pattern, it called for an old sweater to be cut up and used for the lining of this particular bag. Well, being a knitter, I couldn't justify cutting up a perfectly good sweater. Besides, who could guarantee that I could find just the colour I wanted in a second hand sweater?

Working almost next door to a second hand store has it's advantages. Going through the fabric and yarn section one day, I came across a bolt of upholstery fabric that I thought would make a terrific bag. There were about 2 meters on the bolt and I think I paid $6.00 for it. Last week, I also found some pale gray lining fabric. Just shy of 2 meters cost me $3.00. The yarn and buttons were in my stash already.

Though the "cuff" is knitted, technically this isn't a knit project. It does incorporate knitting, so I'm including it in my knitted FO's, okay?

I know that John doesn't see the need or understand the desire, but it's nice to have a tote bag that doesn't look like a tote bag, you know? I guess it's a girl thing. Size-wise, this bag is big enough to hold a project comfortably and not be crowded. For the picture, I stuffed about six balls of yarn into the bag before putting the sweater-in-progress on the top. Not huge, but a decent size. I started it yesterday, finished it this morning. All in all, a gratifying project, one that I'll get plenty of use out of.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Now That Winter's Leaving...

...well, at least we hope it is. Soon, anyway. It seems I've misplaced one of my gloves. I was pretty sure I put a pair of gloves in the hall closet, but I can only find one. That's as good a reason as any to make myself a pair, right?

I had started a pair of gloves for myself a while back, but I wasn't really happy with the way the first one was coming out. So, last week, I frogged it and started another pair. I checked my gauge, consulted Ann Budd's "Handy Book of Patterns, decided on a colourwork pattern and cast on.

Once the cuff was finished to my satisfaction, I started the hand. And encountered a small problem. When I tried the glove on, at the point of starting the pinky finger, it was too big. The cuff was fine, but the hand was too loose. John tried it on.

John's getting a new pair of gloves.

As of right now, two fingers are finished and I'll be picking up for the middle finger shortly. There's a good chance the first glove will be finished today.

The cuff. I started with 60 stitches and knit 10 rows of stocking stitch before starting the 2-colour ribbing, one inch of it. The snowflake pattern is from Alice Starmore's fairisle book (can't remember the title offhand; I'm working from a couple of photocopied pages), worked over 10 rows, then another inch of 2-colour ribbing. The rest of the glove is worked as per Ann Budd's instructions.

I no longer have the ball bands for the yarn, but I do know it is JarboGarn, the same brand as one of my favourite lace yarns. It comes in only three colours, these two and a light gray. I'm using 2.5mm needles.

As for the Ropes & Picots cardigan, it's coming along nicely. I've reached the armhole shaping on the back and have decided to get all three body pieces to the same point. To that end, I've cast on the left front panel. It's a pretty easy knit once you get past the picot edging. Once I've got all three pieces to the same place, I may just put the whole thing on a circular needle and work the shaping at the same time on all three. Maybe. We'll see when we get to that stage.

Now, back to knitting, not just writing about it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fearless (Experimental) Knitting

So, yeah, I have been knitting on the cardigan... almost 2 balls down now. Today, however, was spent doing some learning, experimenting, swatching.

A while back (a few months ago), one of the girls I work with was clearing out some books and she gave me a couple of knitting books. One was "Flying Geese & Partridge Feet, More Mittens from Up North and Down East", by Robin Hansen, with Janetta Dexter. It has a selection of traditional mittens from the east coast area. One pattern has been niggling at my imagination from the time I first saw it and I decided to try the technique to see if I could use it, not just to make mittens, but socks perhaps.

The mittens are the Double Rolled Mittens. The technique involves using an unspun yarn (I used what I'm pretty sure is White Buffalo, from my stash) and some Patons Classic Merino (also from the stash). The pattern calls for needles way smaller than would normally be used for either yarn. In this case, I grabbed a set that I thought was about 3.0 mm; they were, in fact, 2.5 mm, which gave me the called-for gauge of 6 sts/1".
Basically, what you're doing is wrapping the unspun yarn around your working yarn as you knit. To keep everything from getting hopelessly tangled, you only use 8-12" lengths of the unspun, flipping it over the working yarn, anchoring it with the left hand while knitting with your working yarn in the right hand, English-style. Apparently, it does not work as well if you knit continental-style. The secret of this technique is that the yarn must be twisted around the working yarn.

I used contrasting yarn on purpose. It makes it easier to see how everything actually knits up. The unspun yarn does show through, giving it a kind of folksy look. From the inside, you can see how the unspun is intertwined with the working yarn. The resulting fabric is quite stiff, but would be very warm and wind resistant.

It has my brain churning. I could see using this technique to make slipper socks. They'd be thick, meaning they'd be more hard-wearing. They'd be warm because of the double layer of wool. They'd keep my toes warm, for sure.

Oh, speaking of warm toes? The thrummed socks that I made, that feel so cozy on the feet? Well, they fit John perfectly. On me, too big. Back to chilly toes for me. Figures, huh?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Already an Update

I'm quite serious about getting this cardigan done as quickly as possible. I've been working on it off and on today, as much as my wrist (and my husband) will allow, about 15-20 minutes at a time. As of a few minutes ago, I've knitted up one ball of the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light. Here's how it's looking so far.

It has a very nice texture to the fabric. I have a feeling this will be a very wearable cardigan. Now, where did I leave the next ball?

It's a Personal Experiment, Not a Resolution

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions. That said, this morning I decided to perform an experiment.

I need a new cardigan. The ones I have are becoming a little threadbare and worn out. I've found a pattern I really like. I have enough of the right weight of yarn to make it. Now, I'd like to see if I can stick to one project, to see it to completion without starting or picking up another project. I'm not talking about little things like wrist warmers (they'll be done today) or a toddler hat as "another project". Those are minor diversions. I'm talking about things like more shawls.

Can I make myself a cardigan in a reasonable length of time, concentrating mainly on that cardi? It isn't as big or as involved as the Butterfly dress. I'd like to be able to wear it before winter morphs itself into blazing summer.

There you have it... a personal experiment... a resolution if you will. If I can do it on this project, I can do it on other projects, which means I may be able to finally finish up some of the projects still on my needles.

So, which pattern, you ask? The Ropes and Picots Cardigan from Interweave Knits. Click on the link to see pictures. It's a style I really like, similar to a cardigan I tried on at my Mom's (a gift to her from one of my sisters; I liked it so much, I drew out the schematics). Therefore, I know it will suit me.

I have the yarn already. It's Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Light, in denim blue. I'm using 4.0 mm needles, which puts my gauge slightly out, but the feel of the fabric is just right. Because of that, I'm making one size larger than I normally would have had my gauge been bang on. That makes it sound like I've already started, doesn't it? I have.

Not only have I started, I've already made a slight change to the pattern. The pattern calls for an invisible provisional cast on. That cast on has you casting on stitches with a needle and waste yarn, then picking up the stitches from the waste yarn and knitting those stitches together with the stitches on your needle, making a picot hem. Very pretty. Very fiddly. Very not-me.

I've always muddled up that cast on; it has to be my least favourite cast on. That said, if you use a spare circular instead of waste yarn, you have a lot more stability and you don't have to pick up the stitches; they're already on a needle.

Allow me to illustrate:


Here you can see both the straight needle and the circular. On the straight needle is the blue yarn, the circ has black, ready to be hemmed together with no stitches picked up, dropped or otherwise mutilated.


When you fold the fabric in half, bringing the two needles together, you can begin stitching them together. Stitch and go!


And when all the stitches have been used up, you have...


The completed picot hem. No waste yarn. No mess. No fuss. Just the way I like it.

(My apologies to those of you who can't see the pics. I went back to Flickr for this set; it's just easier to set the pics up.)

Now, on with my experiment. Ok, maybe it is a sort of resolution. Just don't tell anyone. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pictures, Updates and Happy New Year!

We are back from the coast! What a ride! The Vancouver/Fraser Valley area, in fact, most of the country, was hit hard weather-wise.

This was taken at my Mom's house on Christmas day. That, on the table and deck, is one night's accumulation of snow. I think John cleaned the driveway, sidewalk and deck at least 6 times while we were there. There was a lot of snow (for that area... it's one of the mildest areas in the entire country; the last time we saw this much snow was about 20 odd years ago, if not longer).

The hats were a hit, but there were a couple of mis-fits. As you can see in the above picture, Oceanna's hat fits perfectly. The hat that Teagan is wearing should be Trinity's, but is too small for her. The hat I'd intended for Teagan was too small for him and I have a feeling that the hat I'd intended for Jonathan will be too small, too. So, I told my daughter to shuffle the hats around. She's to give Teagan's hat to Jonathan, keep Jonathan's hat for Ethan (3 weeks to go); I'll make another hat for Trinity and Teagan. That'll keep me out of trouble for a little while. :)

The Faroese shawl for my mother was a hit. So much a hit, in fact, that the first thing she did after oohing and ahhing over it was to put it into a plastic bag and into the linen closet. Her reasoning? She didn't want to get it dirty; she wanted to keep it nice. I made it very clear to her that it was given to her with the intention (and her promise) that she would wear it if I made her a shawl. After a bit of a lecture, she did start wearing it and when we left, the shawl was draped over her tv-watching chair.

While there, I did get some knitting done. Because of the weather, we didn't go out much and that gave me plenty of knitting time. The Zetor shawl is coming along nicely. I've completed 7 repeats of the pattern; it calls for 9 repeats before doing the edging. It looks like it will be a decent sized shawl by the time I'm done.

I know this picture doesn't look like much more than a brown blob, but it's progress, baby!

I had taken one extra ball of the Drops Alpaca with me and by the time we left Abbotsford, I'd gone through the entire ball. I had worked on the shawl on the bus ride there, but couldn't work on it on the way home. There was another project I took with me. Did I tell you about my slipper socks? These?

See the heels? Yes, those holes are where the heels should be. These socks are now residing in my kitchen garbage bin. In their place, I made these...
Thrummed socks. They're really cozy! And inside out, they look like a sheepy puppet!
The pattern is one I found online (I'll look it up another time and post the link); the yarn is Paton's Classic Merino, in a light brown. The thrums are pencil roving. As much as I like these socks, there are a couple of things I'd change if/when I make them again. First, they're too big. The pattern calls for 48 sts on 4.0 mm needles. I like my socks tighter than these are. Second, I would put thrums in the heel section of the sole. The pattern was a little unclear about putting thrums on the bottom of the foot. In retrospect, I should have put thrums all along the sole. Oh well, they're meant to be slipper socks; they're warm. I won't complain too loudly. And, if I really don't want to wear socks that are too big, I can give these to John and make myself another pair. Or I can try felting them to fit.
Have any of you ever made thrummed socks? If so, what pattern did you use?
Then, because I finished the socks while at Mom's, I decided to go out on my own one afternoon. John had gone into the city to see his Dad and Mom didn't want to go out. Originally, I wanted to see if Abbotsford's only yarn shop was open (they weren't... bummer!), and ended up at Michael's. I really wasn't sure what I wanted, but when I saw some Bernat Cashmere, I was inspired. For a yarn that's mostly acrylic (65% acrylic, 30% nylon, 5% cashmere), it feels pretty good. I suppose there's just enough cashmere in it to make it feel nice.
It's a little difficult to see in the picture, but I'm making a pair of wrist warmers. One's done, the other was worked on while on the bus ride home. I'm not following a pattern, just making it up as I go along. I will (don't you worry!) write up the pattern as I work the second mitt. The first mitt was done in one afternoon, but since we've been home, I haven't worked on the second one.
Instead, I've been working on this...
This is Ene's Scarf from Scarf Style. Over on Ravelry, I joined a KAL for Ene's Scarf. I don't join a lot of KALs, but seeing as I've been wanting to knit this shawl for quite some time, I decided this was one I would join. I had started Ene before, but just wasn't happy with the yarn and pattern combination. This time, I'm loving it. The picture above is one pattern row shy of completing Chart 1. The yarn is Malabrigo Lace (100% baby merino)... so yummy it could almost be cashmere! The colourway is 229, Cosecha, and is gorgeous. The picture really doesn't do it justice. I'm using 4.0 mm needles, and am really happy with the resulting fabric. It's so light and yet there's body to it. It's difficult to describe. Suffice it to say, it will be lovely!

There you have it... my first post of 2009. For each of you who read this blog, I hope that 2009 will be a banner year, one filled with good things, good people, and good times.