Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today Is All About Experimentation

I could be working on the other Lilac mitten. I could be working on John's work socks; well, I did, actually. The first sock is into the gusset shaping now. I could, and probably should, be working on any number of projects.

Today, however, is about experimenting.

While I was sitting in the computer room (the light's better in here), I started thinking about socks. My mind meandered through all the socks I've made and designed and seen and read about and finally settled on Cat Bordhi's book, "New Pathways for Sock Knitters".

I found some sock yarn in the stash, dug out the book, perused it, and settled on one pattern, the Upstream Socks. They're toe up construction, with a slip stitch heel flap, but the shaping is all on the top of the foot. I decided they looked interesting enough to keep me involved for now, so I've cast on. At this point, they're just barely there, but, as I said, it's all about the experiment today.

Hmm.. maybe I'd best weigh the yarn I have so I'll know when to end one sock and start the other??

(Pictures when there's something to show)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Half a Pair of Mittens

Yay!! One of the Lilac Mittens is finished!

I really like this combination of colours (2 of my faves, of course!) and the mitten is really nice and warm. It still needs blocking, but that will happen once the other mitten is finished, too. It is on the needles, but I haven't been making good progress on it. For some reason, I keep messing up; I've probably started it three times and had to undo rows more times than that. It's been sent to the corner for a while.

So has the christening dress. I'm into the Zigzag Madeira section now (2 rows in) and I've messed up somewhere. I intend to tink back 2 full rows (204 sts/row), but not until my KnitPicks needles arrive. The points on the Addi Turbos are just too dull for that kind of work.

In the meantime, today is Sit & Stitch so I had to have something to take along, right? Ever since I made John a pair of 6-ply work socks, he's been telling me how much he loves them, except for the cast on edge; it's just a little too tight. Seeing as I still have a few balls of that same yarn left (I'd purchased a full bag of it shortly before leaving Art of Yarn), I decided to cast on another pair for him.

Because the cast on was too tight for him, I did a little online research and decided to use a tubular cast on for this pair. I ended up on Ysolde Teague's website, where she has a tutorial for the tubular cast on. You can find it by clicking here.

Both socks have been started, so that they're the same, but this one is seeing some progress today. I'll probably knit it to the heel flap, then work on the second sock. Hopefully, the cast on edge will be loose enough so that John won't have any problems getting the sock on and off, especially after washing.

Because I don't really use a pattern per se for socks anymore, I had to guess at what I did last time. I did have some written notes, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what size needles I'd used. I searched my blog, because I was pretty sure I'd blogged about the 6 ply socks when I made them; I couldn't find anything. Eventually, as a last resort, I checked one of my finger drives, hoping that the directory with all my patterns was on it; thankfully, it was! If you're interested, I'll post it another day, as I'm getting short on time right now.

Incidentally, the details... yarn is Regia 6-fadig (ply) in dark gray, worked on 2.75 mm needles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

And He Bakes, Too!

A while back, I discovered that John had never made bread and really had no idea what's involved in the making of it. I resolved to teach him the art of bread baking, something I really enjoy (if I have the time, that is).

Yesterday I decided that today would be the day. It was fun! I showed him how to knead the dough and explained the entire process to him. Here's what we ended up with... three loaves of 9-grain bread. There should have been four loaves, as the recipe makes 4, but I could only find 3 loaf pans and the oven wouldn't accommodate 4 pans. We turned the 4th loaf into buns and froze them, to be enjoyed another day.

You know we had to sample, right? We had a hard time waiting till the loaf was cool but it was definitely worth the wait. There is nothing like fresh, home baked, home made bread!

Unless it's apple pie, that is.

This is John's creation, using one jar of the apple pie filling we made a few weeks ago. As of right now, we haven't sampled it but there's ice cream in the freezer and you can be sure that, by bedtime, at least some of this pie will have been consumed!

You've just got to love a man who bakes!

FO Of Another Sort

I think I mentioned that I was working on a recipe book, didn't I? Well, if I haven't mentioned it before, I'm talking about it now... it's finished.

I've wanted to put together a book of our family's favourite recipes for some time now; over the last few years, I've sent recipes to each of my kids, but this book has all their faves (I hope) in one place. As well, you know that both John and I enjoy cooking; in the time we've been together, we've come across recipes that have become favourites of ours; I've included some of those, too. For me, it's nice to have all of these recipes in one place and not on scraps of paper or computer printouts tossed on a shelf. (Does this mean I'll have to tidy up that shelf now???)

Some of the recipes have been in my repertoire since high school; there's one recipe that I've been making since I was about 10 years old! There are recipes from their Oma and other family members. There are recipes that were specifically requested to be included.

The book comes in at 165 pages, and includes a table of contents and an index (with cross references, even!). When printed, it will have coil binding and plastic front and back covers. I've put a single recipe per page, for ease of reading while cooking. All in all, I'm really happy with how this book has turned out and I hope my kids will use the book and that it will bring back some memories and make new ones.

I know there are recipes that John would have liked to have been included, but we both agree that there may well be a Book 2 in the future and some of his recipes will be included in that edition. Hmm.. perhaps I should encourage my entire family to send me some of their faves for the next book?

Feels good!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quick Knits, Instant Gratification

This week has been all about instant gratification. Yes, I'm still working on the christening dress, but I wanted a quick knit. This, the Philly Cowl (available on Ravelry) fit the bill perfectly.

The yarn is Malabrigo (can we say yummmmmm?) on 5.5 mm needles, in other words, a quick knit and a warm, cozy neck warmer.

In an attempt to knit from the stash, I've also cast on for another cowl, the Willow Cowl (also a free download on Ravelry). I know, the colours are rather bright. It's cheerful, though, and goodness knows we could all use a little colour in the dead of winter, right?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Christening Dress Update

I can't believe how this little dress has consumed me. I am really enjoying the process of knitting this project! I have finished the first edging and have picked up the 200+ stitches for the body.

The skirt of the dress is comprised of six sections: the edging, lace holes, half madeiras, lace holes, zigzag of madeiras and waves. As of this morning, the edging and the first of the lace holes are finished and I'm working on the half madeiras.

I think I mentioned that, for the edging, I went up from the called-for 2.0 mm needle to a 2.25 mm needle. Well, now that the edging is finished, I've gone to the 2.0 mm needle for the body. I'm hoping that that will give the edging a little bit of "ruffling" when the dress is finished. I'm also thinking of making one minor modification to the pattern. As I wrote above, the patterning finishes with a wave pattern (more of a zigzag, really, but it's called "waves"). I'm thinking that, on the first skirt I'll eliminate the waves. I'm not sure I really like it, and if I decide it should be part of the dress anyway, I can leave it in the second skirt, which is layered over the first, but shorter. Did/does that make sense?

In the picture below, I've included my original pattern swatch, just for the sake of comparison. The swatch was knit on 4.0 mm needles, the edging on 2.25 mm.

As you know, I knit a lot of lace. Or, more correctly, I do a lot of knitted lace. This christening dress qualifies as lace knitting.

What's the difference, you ask? Well, in knitted lace, only one side of the work is patterned. The wrong side (usually) is worked in either a knit stitch (garter stitch lace) or a purl stitch (stocking stitch lace). With lace knitting, there is patterning on every row. This little dress is lace knitting.

Once I have this panel finished, I'll have to repeat the entire process for the second skirt.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of other knitting this week. As I said at the beginning of this post, this little dress has consumed most of my knitting time this week. It's one of those projects where you want to see how the next section knits up.

I have a feeling there won't be a lot of knitting time today, though. We're going to be helping a friend/co-worker move this morning. I don't think it will be a long process as she's very organized and another co-worker found some young guys to help with the grunt work. This afternoon is Sit & Stitch, but the dress isn't really take-along knitting.

Speaking of Sit & Stitch, if you're in the Kelowna area and would like to meet up with other knitters, please feel free to join us. We've had to move our location (the mall put in a passport office where we like to sit and knit) to the Starbuck's at the corner of Gordon & Guisachan. We'll be there from about 2-4 p.m. today (and every other Saturday). We'd love to have more knitters join us!

Now, it's time for another cup of coffee and another row on the dress. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Celebrate the Little Victories

I am immensely pleased with myself! It is, indeed, a small step but it's a step in the right direction. I have finished one half of the first edging. See? There are 10 points! Ten more to go.

Now that I'm comfortable with the pattern, yarn and needles, it's flowing quite smoothly, if slowly. That's fine. It's the process at this point. The product will come. In the meantime, I'm celebrating the small victories.

My Knit Picks order came this week and in it was this book, "Selbuvotter" by Terri Shea. Selbu is a town in Norway where much of what we recognize as Norwegian-style knitting originated. This book goes into some of the history of the mittens (votter) and gloves of that region.

Ms. Shea has also re-created some of the original mittens and gloves from museum pieces. It's an interesting book to read and filled with inspiration. I can see this book being an important part of my knitting library. Already, there are patterns I'd like to try and bits and pieces I'd like to try to incorporate into other knitting.

Off to work another repeat or two.....

Sunday, November 08, 2009


This weekend, so far, has been (almost) all about the Christening dress. I've finally gotten past a single repeat of the pattern! I'm so excited about that!

Here, you can see that I've got three repeats done. After the first two repeats, I put in a lifeline just to be on the safe side. It has since come out and I've completed seven repeats. My goal for the weekend is to finish 10 repeats, or half of the first edging.

I've discovered that the secret to knitting it with this yarn on these needles is to knit loosely, to relax. Once I did that, the knitting has been going very smoothly. This may well be doable now. I'm pleased.

Because this is a piece that could become an heirloom, I've decided to do what I did with Stacey's Butterfly Dress. I'm writing about the process of knitting the christening dress in book form, it's provenance, so to speak. Whatever I decide to do with the finished dress, the book(let) will be included with it. I think it's a wonderful way of connecting with whomever might end up with the finished piece, making it much more personal.

Now, knowing me as I'm sure you do, would you be surprised to find out that I've cast on for yet another project? Didn't think so. Should I be feeling guilty?

This is another piece of lacy goodness from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace of Estonia", the Lily of the Valley Scarf. I think the yarn is Skacel's Merino Lace, but I'm not sure. It was in my stash without a label or tag of any kind. I know I bought a skein of red a long time ago, started something, then frogged it, so I'm pretty sure that's what this is. At any rate, it's knitting up nicely on 3.5 mm needles.

There will be nupps... lots of them!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Even though it's been really busy at work, I have been doing a fair bit of knitting this week. Mittens and gloves make great lunchtime knitting projects, small and portable. Because of that, it's what I've been knitting.

These are Lilac Mittens (free download on Ravelry), designed by Heather Desserud, who also designed the Rubai'yat Mittens I made last winter. They're fun! I'm really enjoying working with these two yarns, and the design is fun, too. The picture above is the palm side of the hand and the picture below is the back of the hand. This is not your typical fair isle design! There are long floats where the non-working yarn has to be anchored and I'm finding that I have to tell myself to loosen up. The yarns, incidentally, are both Sisu sock yarns and the mittens are being worked on 2.75 mm needles.

It's not readily visible in the pictures, but I've changed the cuff a little bit from the pattern. Heather calls for 4 rows of rib before starting the scroll-y band; I decided I really like the look of the picot edge I did on the Rubai'yat mittens, so I've done that again on this pair. Having said that I've been working on these at lunch time, I'm at the point now where the pattern demands a little more concentration than I can give it in the half hour I have for lunch, so they're now "at home" knitting. Still... they're fun to knit and will be just as much fun to wear, I'm sure!

A few weeks ago, I finished the Knotty gloves. I think I mentioned that, didn't I? I hadn't woven in all the ends, though, so I finally did that this morning. Then I imposed upon John to take some pictures of the gloves. Here they are...

I think these have just become my favourite gloves! I love the length of the cuffs (no chilly wrists!); I love the alpaca yarn; I love the fit. I also came to the realization this morning that all the gloves I've knitted (or am knitting) for myself - all 2 1/2 pairs - are all knitted with alpaca. Yumm! I deserve the best, dontcha think?

Below is another little project I've been working on. I know, I said I wasn't going to post pictures until the intended victim had them in hand, but I just couldn't resist.

This is the first of the Bluebell Wristwarmers. Again, these are being knit out of alpaca, dk weight (Sandnes Alpakka) this time. All that's left to do on this one (the second one is well under way) is to stitch up the bottom picot edge and finish the thumb. As mentioned, the pattern is a freebie, available through Ravelry. I'm hoping to have these, and the rest of the package, out to Kristen very soon.

In other knitting, the Christening Dress is making very slow progress. I've managed, after much frustration, to finish a second repeat of the edging pattern, and I've managed to put in a lifeline. I'll be honest with you, if I keep getting as frustrated as I have been, I'll be very tempted to used the yarn for something else, perhaps another project out of "Knitted Lace of Estonia". John keeps reminding me that there really isn't a good reason for me to be knitting this dress. I keep telling him it's just for the challenge, but sometimes I wonder if it's worth it, really. We'll see.

Now, I just happen to have the apartment all to myself and I've been told to relax and enjoy myself. Does that sound like an invitation to sit and knit, or what?

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Adventure Begins

Saturday was Sit & Stitch. Saturday was the day I started the christening dress. Saturday was the day I frogged the christening dress... at least 3 times

Sunday was the day I started it again. And again. And again. And once more.

I got to row 6 and no further. After what felt like about 30 times, I compared my chart with the pattern in the book and discovered that row 6 was charted backwards. And I'd inserted an extra knit2together. No wonder it didn't work.

Sunday I finished one repeat of the edging pattern and started the second repeat. Sunday I dropped a stitch. Have you ever tried picking up a dropped stitch on 2.25 mm needles, laceweight yarn? With yarn overs and knit2togethers? After all that work to get past row 6?

I frogged it.