Sunday, February 28, 2010

Adventures in Frogging

My new facecloth is off the needles, and ready for use! You've got to love little projects like this; talk about instant gratification! I've warned John once more that I'd better not find him using it to clean the bathroom and he's promised he wouldn't. I think I'll be having a nice hot bath some time today... just so I can use my new facecloth.

After discovering my mistake on the Joie de Printemps mitten yesterday, I decided I just had to fix it. I'd be looking at it constantly and it would drive me crazy. I'm just surprised I never noticed it before!

I wondered what would be the best "plan of attack" and decided the best thing to do would be to pick up all the stitches a round or two below the offending rounds. I used some of the cotton yarn left from the facecloth and a blunt tapestry needle. It was a bit fiddly, but I finally got the right number of stitches picked up and, while doing that, I found another mistake! On the round that I picked up, the palm stitches should be three light, three dark. As you can clearly see in the circle, there are four dark stitches. I do remember that row, though. That's where I dropped a stitch, picked it up and thought I had it right; apparently I didn't. I'll be fixing that little glitch, too.

In the following two pictures, you can see that I've picked up all the stitches (after double checking with the pattern to make sure I had the right round picked up all the way around) and I'm ready to rip back to that point.

In this last picture, I've frogged back to my picked up round and am ready to put the stitches back on the needles. I did manage to catch the working yarn with the cotton at one spot, but that really wasn't a big deal once the stitches were back on the needles and I pulled out the cotton yarn.

This morning, before the hockey game starts, I'll work on the mitten and, hopefully, finish the hand. Once the hockey game comes on, there will be only simple knitting, nothing that demands attention.

As a matter of fact, I'm working on a small project that WAS mindless knitting. Now, I've reached the part where there's some short row shaping. It has suddenly become a project that needs a bit of attention and is no longer Olympic-watching knitting.

Now, though, it's time for a cup of coffee and some quality mitten knitting time!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Knitting colourwork and Olympic watching ARE NOT COMPATIBLE!! I don't know why I didn't notice this until today. I really don't want to tink back an inch of colourwork, but I don't think I can live with this.

Must stick to TV knitting! *sigh*

Not a Lot to Blog About

It's been a fairly quiet week around here. We've been watching the Olympics; as of last night, Canada leads the race in gold medals, not total medal count, but gold. We now have ten, with Germany at nine and the US at eight.

Knitting has been on the back burner, I'm afraid. It's a little difficult to concentrate on a colourwork pattern or lace when you're watching the Olympics. I did, however, make some progress on the test knit mittens, as you can see here...

I'm almost up to the top shaping. All in all, these mittens will be a little larger than Heather's previous designs which, I've been told, is a good thing. Apparently she's had some comments about her previous mittens being on the small side; they fit my hands just right, so I must have smaller than average hands. At any rate, these are really pretty mittens and I'm having fun knitting them, just not while watching the Olympics!

I don't think I've shown you the palm side of the mittens before. If you're not familiar with mitten construction, the white thread you see where there should be a thumb is where the thumb will be knitted after the rest of the mitten is finished.

For the sake of review, the yarn is Knit Picks Palette, which has just become my new favourite mitten-knitting yarn, and I'm using 2.25 mm needles.

I did cast on one small mindless knitting project. A few years back, 2007 to be precise, I made a facecloth for myself, using a textured stitch I hadn't seen in any stitch dictionary. I posted the pattern back then and decided it was time to make another one.

This time, though, I've had to warn John that if he even thinks about using this one to clean the bathroom, he'd be in huge trouble! That's right, shortly after I made the previous one, I found it in the cleaning bucket. He'd decided it was old (I think it had only been laundered a couple of times) and that it would be perfect for cleaning the bathroom because of the nubbly texture. I was NOT happy, but once it had been used for cleaning, I wasn't going to wash my face with it. I had better not find this one in the cleaning bucket... ever!

The pattern is really simple. Cast on about 50 stitches on 3.75 mm needles (that's what I'm using); stitch count doesn't really matter, as long as it's an even number. I'm getting a gauge of 6 stitches per inch, making this cloth just over 8" square. Knit one row.

Row 1: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row
Row 4: Purl

Work these four rows until your facecloth is the size you want. Work one knit row and cast off.

That's it! When I first made this pattern, I remember being a little confused (even though I wrote it!) trying to figure out whether I should be working a knit row or a purl row. This time, I've realized that when you're working the k1, p1 row, whatever the row below looks like is what you'll work on the next row.

For instance, after you've worked a knit row, the purl bumps of that row are showing when you work the ribbed row; that tells you that the next row will be a purl row; and after you've worked a purl row, the knit side will be showing when you work the ribbed row, so the next row will be...... right... knit! See? Easy!

I liked my first facecloth so much that I might have to make a few; I'm pretty sure I still have a few balls of cotton yarn in my stash. The texture of this stitch is great for gentle exfoliation and the cotton washes well. And, if nothing else, apparently they make great bathroom cleaning "rags".

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's In the Bag

A little while ago, I was asked if I would be willing to test knit a pattern by Heather Desserud, the woman who designed both the Ruba-iyat and Lilac Mittens. I've knit both those patterns and I'm a big fan of her designs. Well, this past week, Heather sent me the test pattern and, after waiting for my yarn to arrive, I've jumped right in.

I LOVE these mittens! I love this yarn! I've never knit with any kind of Knit Picks yarn, but I have to say, I love it! This is KP Palette fingering weight yarn, 100% Peruvian wool and I'm knitting the mittens on 2.25 mm double pointed needles (5 of them). The price of this yarn is just right ($1.99-$2.19 USD/50 gram ball) and the choice of colours is amazing!

In the pattern, Heather explains that the inspiration for these mittens came primarily from an Art Nouveau painter, Alphonse Mucha. Given that information, I went online to search for Art Nouveau colour palettes; that search led me to this website. Given the colours on that page, I chose six colours of Palette yarn and ordered one ball of each, enough to make three pairs of mittens. I didn't make my final decision until Heather sent me the pattern, and once I had it in hand, I chose the two colours you see above, Sweet Potato and Masala. I'm really liking the tone on tone and I'm really enjoying working with this pattern and this yarn. I will definitely be using more of this yarn in the future!

I do believe that Heather will be offering this pattern, "La Joie du Printemps" (the joy of spring), for sale once the test knitting's done and the pattern is finalized. If you're interested in seeing more of Heather's work, you can find her on Ravelry as strikkehedda. I have a feeling that the knitting world will be seeing more of her work.

Did you notice the bag that the mitten is resting on/beside? One of the girls in our Sit & Stitch group has a really neat bag and, from the first time she showed it to us, I've been trying to figure out how it was made. What stumped us was the fact that, apart from the zipper, there were only two seams, and yet the bag was triangular.

Well, last week I figured it out! I was watching a cooking show on PBS, an Italian cooking show, and the woman was making some kind of dumpling. Just the way she cut the rope of dough made me realize how this bag was constructed!

Now, I don't know the average age of those of you who read this blog, but the way this bag is constructed is the same way restaurant creamers were made before they came out with the little plastic cups. Basically, the bag is a tube. The bottom seam is sewn at right angles across the zipper (does that make sense?) and the second seam is sewn in line with the zipper, with the handle sewn into the seam. Simple!!

I put this sample together in about 15 minutes, from start to finish. The entire bag cost me next to nothing; the zipper alone cost me a whopping 13 cents! Both the zipper and the fabric were purchased at the thrift store near work.

There are a few things I would do differently next time I make this bag. First, the fabric I've used is one that frays... badly! Everything is sewn, zigzagged and reinforced, but it's definitely not the right fabric for a bag like this. As well, I didn't put the zipper in correctly and I may just go back and sew the zipper down better. The other thing I would do differently is to move the handle down a bit in the seam. Where it is right now, I'm finding it interferes with the zipper a little. Considering that this is just a trial, though, I'm pretty happy with it and it makes a great carry along for a small project. I can see making these as gift bags at some point; they're somewhat unique and definitely interesting!

Incidentally, along with the yarn from Knit Picks, I also took advantage of their book sale and picked up a couple more books. One of them is Susanna Lewis' "Knitting Lace". In Episode #13 of the podcast, which is now out there (you can listen to it on the embedded player in the sidebar), I've reviewed the book. I'm glad I have that book; I'm very pleased that Schoolhouse Press decided to reprint it.

Oh, before I forget completely, the results of the biopsy came back this week; the original diagnosis has been confirmed and there are no abnormal or cancerous cells. That's excellent news, and wasn't unexpected. The condition I have is easily treated with steroid cream. Thank you all for your kind thoughts!

Now, it's on with our day; John and I have some shopping and other errands to attend to today. And there's knitting to do!

P.S. I almost forgot! I wanted to share a link with you. This was an article in the Vancouver Province (newspaper)... "Five Easy Steps in Getting to Know Those Who Live Here". It made me chuckle and I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

One Down, Time To Cast On

When I got up this morning, I had every intention of blogging but didn't really have anything to blog about! When John told me about the link to "We Are More", I knew I wanted to blog about that, but I still had no knitting to blog about.

This week has been a very slow knitting week. I did cast on for a baby gift, but obviously I can't show you that at this point; it will be revealed in time. Then I knew what I needed to do; I needed to sit down and finish the first of the Elbistan mittens. All that needed doing was the thumb and I needed to knit it and chart it at the same time.

Well, it is now finished, both the mitten and the chart. Here's the back of the hand...

And the palm...

I'm really happy with the way this mitten turned out. That said, there are a couple of things I'm not completely happy with. The first thing is the alignment of the thumb pattern. I thought the center of the thumb pattern would be centered over the V of the thumb gusset; it's off by one stitch. I'm not sure many would notice, but I do. Secondly, I'm still having tension problems.

I've tried stranding using the magic loop technique and using four or five double pointed needles. Each time I end up with either puckers or a noticeable line where the join between the needles lies. I think I know what the problem is; I tend to knit the joins quite tightly so that I won't get a line, which means I could be overcompensating. I need to keep reminding myself to loosen up; perhaps knitting colourwork with a glass of wine at the ready might help??

Now, I need to cast on and work the second mitten before I've forgotten what I did with the first one. Right now, though, that just feels like way too much work. Instead, John and I have a little shopping to do and, when we get back, I'll be making a pot of goulash soup. And we'll be keeping an eye on the Olympic coverage.

Happy Valentines Day to all of you!

We Are Canadian

Canadians are not known for their over-the-top patriotism; I think that's known the world over. We can be somewhat self-deprecating. There are times, though, when something comes along that makes Canadians proud to be Canadian. One of those moments, for me, came while watching the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics.

Don't get me wrong; this wasn't the only moment that made me proud to be Canadian but this particular moment really touched me. I think it sums us up quite nicely.

ETA: It looks like the video has been pulled from You Tube. I apologize for that. I'll try to upload the original video of "We Are More" later today, when I get home from work. In the interim, here's a link to it... We Are More.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

With Knowledge Comes Confidence

Yesterday, being Saturday, was Sit & Stitch day and I had no idea what to bring along to work on. The Elbistan mittens require too much concentration, as do the little Selbuvotter (#2 of the teal-y pair), the Wool Peddler's shawl isn't a take-along project anymore and there was nothing else I really felt like working on. I finally settled on the Setesdal baby sweater that I started last year and got stalled on.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I've been doing a little research on steeking so that I could understand (and visualize) what the instructions were telling me to do, and why. I now know that there's a difference between Fair Isle steeking and Norwegian steeking, and now that I know how the Norwegian steeking is done, the little sweater is moving ahead.

So, what is the difference? Well, with Fair Isle steeking, four or five stitches are added where the arm holes will be. Later, when ready for steeking, the stitches are reinforced, cut, stitches are picked up and the sleeves are knit down (that's the basic explanation).

With Norwegian steeking, there are no extra stitches involved. In the case of this little sweater, there is one purl stitch on either side, basically a seam stitch. Later, I'll be machine stitching on either side of that single stitch, then cutting through that same stitch. The sleeves are knit separately, from the cuff up, with a "facing" worked at the top of the sleeve; the sleeve is then stitched in place and the facing is stitched down, covering the cut edge, making everything neat and tidy.

If you'd like to know more about the differences between the two methods of steeking, Eunny Jang has a great tutorial on her blog. She explains the differences very well and goes into the pros and cons of both methods. I will warn you, though, she's not a fan of Norwegian steeking, especially of the fact that you have to use a sewing machine to anchor the steek. She doesn't consider the sewing machine a traditional method. If you do read her explanation, I would recommend reading the comments as well; there's some good information and rebuttal from Norwegian knitters.

It will be a while before I get to that point, but when I do, you can be sure I'll be taking pictures and documenting the process.... with a celebratory glass of wine near at hand! Or perhaps a glass of wine for courage???

Saturday, February 06, 2010

No Knitting Content???

What do pink peppercorns, star anise and cloves have in common? Well, all three of these spices combine with thyme to make a really nice beverage!

I wrote earlier this week that John and I had been to the library. While there, I leafed through the latest issue of Bon Appetit and decided it was one that I really wanted to have on hand. One of the reasons was this bevvie recipe. It's Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda. Obviously, I can't give you the recipe, but I can tell you that it's a syrup base that's made with star anise, pink peppercorns, cloves and fresh thyme, mixed with soda water and it's very refreshing.

I'm not usually one for sweet drinks like Coke; I'd much rather have tonic, but it's not something I want all the time. Recently, I've started drinking soda with black currant syrup and I like it, but again, it isn't something I want all the time. This drink has a lovely, light star anise flavour and you can make it as strong or as subtle as you wish and it isn't overly sweet.

So, if you're looking for an alternate to regular pop, I can recommend this recipe! If you're looking for something to serve a designated driver, I can recommend this as a very nice alternative to all the sweet stuff out there (and it looks like it might be a whisky drink, yanno?) What about you? What's your drink of choice? Any recommendations for me to try?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Still Home and Making Progress

Last Wednesday, I had some minor surgery, I've mentioned that. Well, I'm still home. I took Thursday off, worked half a day Friday and have been off since. I debated how much to share, and decided that there really isn't much to lose by sharing at least some of what I'm going through, right? The minor surgery was, in reality, a biopsy to confirm diagnosis of a vaginal disorder. I have seven sutures "down there" and, as you can imagine, it's not very comfortable. Because my job involves a lot of standing, it can be uncomfortable and the last thing I want is for sutures to tear or infection to set in. So, that's why I'm still home.

One advantage to being home is that I'm getting plenty of knitting done. John's socks, for instance, are finally done. I started these in November and they are now on his feet.

The details? Regia 6 ply on 2.75 mm double pointed needles, using a tubular cast on. I'm happy I don't have to look at these anymore!

I've also been working on the Discovery Sock from Cat Bordhi's latest book "Personal Footprints". The idea behind this sock is that you make one sock to discover you personal pattern and, once done, you'll be able to make socks that fit you perfectly every time, using your "personal footprint". I'm loving this yarn, Trekking Maxima, but I must admit that I'm losing patience with working on these socks. Do you think I might be "knitted out"? Is that possible???

Another thing I've been working on while confined to my chair (hey, it's comfortable for the most part) has been the drawstring cord for my little project bag. You thought I was going to say I've been working on the Shetland Christening Dress, didn't you? Well, I have, but it's obviously not a finished object yet. The drawstring, however, is finished and works well.

It is, as you may recall, a lucet cord that I made using my hairpin lace loom. I will admit that it's a great technique to know, but I certainly can't see it taking over from my knitting. I like the finished cord; I like that this little bag is "close-able" again.

The Elbistan mittens are seeing progress as well. The thumb on the first mitten should be finished this afternoon and, once it is, I'll be casting on immediately for the second mitten. I must admit that I'm looking forward to wearing these, so hopefully the weather will oblige by allowing winter weather to visit us again for a short while. It has been very mild here; January was, according to the weather experts, the warmest on record. Speaking personally, I wouldn't mind at least some season-appropriate weather.

Ok, back to recuperating.... and knitting.... and reading... and... well, you get the picture.