Thursday, 30 April 2009

Socks for Boys!

Well, one Boy in particular. Here are the pale ankles and newest socks belonging to my dear spouse:
A pair of Thuja socks, knit with exactly one skein of Wool-Ease Worsted. I've said it before, I know, but this is my absolute favourite yarn for heavy socks. The wool content makes it warm and bearable to knit with, and the acrylic content makes it wear like rocks. I'm still not letting him wear the socks unless he's trimmed his nails, though!

This pattern is great fun. I was concerned it was going to be dull, but it really isn't. The seed-stitch rib livens things up a bit. It also makes it really easy to make the socks match - you just count the purl bumps in the ribs! It always pleases my inner obsessive when I can make the socks match perfectly. Spouse'd probably like slightly longer cuffs, but he says these are fine, so I can satisfy my love of using up all the yarn and only buy one ball. Now that I have these as a sample for foot length, I can just work from both ends at once and make future pairs toe-up.

There's a three-day weekend coming up for May Day. I plan to indulge in lots of fibery goodness, because although sunshine is predicted, it's the peak of hayfever season for me and I'll need to be indoors. Darn, all that spinning and knitting time. :D

One of the planned activities is working on my new hat. Ages ago I bought a single skein of chunky purple tweed because I loved the colour. I'd an hour before leaving for work and after finishing the socks this morning, so dug through my imminent stash bag for a new project. The purple just jumped out at me! It's going to be a very basic top-down hat and should work up in a few hours.

I'm also hoping to make good headway on the powder blue fiber I've been spinning for the last few weeks. It's the stuff I bought at iKnit Day last year - I'd like to knit something with the finished yarn to wear this year! I Navajo-plied a sample to see how it would look, and it came out as a lovely fingering weight. Perfect for yet another shoulder shawl, in other words. I hope I have enough yarn when it's spin up.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Coming to fruition

First up, one pair of mitts for SD, my Ravelry friend.

I've decided not to make a Calorimetry, as the necessary needles are heavier than my elbow can manage right now. That crochet marathon certainly didn't do me much good! I'm sending more chocolate instead.

Second, and quite literally fruity, some yarn dyeing results!

Grandma's Kitchen (aka my first skein of handspun), layering grape, lemon-lime and cherry

Watermelon (also handspun), just cherry

Swimming Pool (a birthday gift from CherryRed), one sachet of berry blue.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

A quick change of plans

I was planning to spend the next little while working on WIPs and Mission:Possible projects. However, I've just found out that one of my Ravelry friends is having a really bad time right now. A group of Posh Knitters are working to send her a care package, since she lives overseas and we can't go to hug her and give her cups of tea. My plan is to send something to warm head, hands and heart - a pair of mitts, a Calorimetry, and some lovely hot chocolate mix and a teddy bear. Just little things, but hopefully enough people sending 'just little things' will help her know that there are people thinking of her.

Yarn and needles ready, and I'm off!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Lovely, lovely lace

Yesterday evening I got home after an abortive evening out (friend flaked at the last minute) and found myself seated on the couch with nothing but my Aeolian Shawl in arm's reach. I was highly amused to realize that I'd picked it up and worked a few rows without consulting the pattern. Guess I really am a Knitter now - I can memorize lace!

Finishing the scarf yesterday has done me a world of good. It was a bit like having some yarny sorbet to cleanse my palate. I still remember the dress, but fondly and without sympathetic muscle spasms in my arm. And now I'm looking forward to really getting my teeth into the shawl! For the time being, though, I'm determined to finish hubby's socks and the fluffy mauve scarf I'm working on.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

FO - Yo! Drop It Scarf

During my lunch hour today I finished up the last few repeats of the drop-stitch I've been working on recently. For such a simple project, it's prompting a lot of discussion in my head.

Pattern - Yo! Drop It Scarf from Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation
Yarn - RYC Natural Silk Aran, three skeins
Needles - 9mm plastic straights

First up, the yarn. I've had photos of this yarn up on the blog before in a couple of different guises. It was a pair of mittens at one point; before that it was a Branching Out Scarf. It also went through some other patterns that I ripped out before even photographing. This yarn is not good for me. It splits and has poor stitch definition. Additionally, each of the three skeins had more bits of plant in it than every other ball of yarn I've knitted put together. It was half price when I bought it, but I'd've been pretty peeved to have spent that much time picking out burrs from full-price Rowan yarn. Because it's a blend of fibers, it also didn't take up the dye evenly. Not necessarily a bad thing, but to my eye it looked odd in anything other than garter stitch. Still, thanks to the linen content it drapes really nicely.

The pattern is a basic garter stitch scarf with some elongated stitches thrown in. It was written for ribbon yarn, but works just as well for a regular yarn in my opinion. I'll probably keep it in my repertoire as an alternative to my neverending parade of garter stitch scarves. :D I used slightly bigger needles than called for, simply because I had 9mm and not 8mm ones already in my needle collection. The look is still the same!

It took me just under two weeks to complete this scarf. I've been knitting a bunch of other things around it, though. Total knitting time was probably in the region of 10 hours. If I drape the scarf over my neck at its midpoint without wrapping it, it touches the floor on both sides. Loosely wrapped three times gives a nice cowl and it reaches my knees. (I'm 5'6'', for reference!)

Final verdict - lovely pattern, shame about the yarn. One more Mission:Possible project done!

PS - Mum, the yarn is lovely to touch and wear, it's just not fun to knit with! I promise I'm not offloading a bad scarf.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Planning, planning

I don't know what's happened, whether it's Spring or finishing the dress or the FSM invading my brain, but suddenly I'm inspired to blog lots. I don't expect that the trend will continue, but there's no point in wasting words that want to come out!

For the moment I seem to have settled into a comfortable pattern of scarf at home, Thuja sock while out and about. Once I finish either of these, I plan to work a few repeats of my Aeolian Shawl, then finish the other one. You see, I have high hopes of actually achieving my Mission:Possible goals this year. I've thus far completed 2 of 12, although the wedding dress was by far the biggest project on the list. I've another 5 in progress. These are Thujas, Monkeys, the drop-stitch scarf, the ripple bedspread and Aeolian. I should have the first 4 done by the end of May, and possibly even the shawl if I get really into it.

Other than those, my commitments for the year are a sweater for someone, another shawl for me, 3 more pairs of socks for me and a lace shawl for hub's granny's 90th birthday. Anything else is gravy! Of course, I finished 47 projects last year, and 27 the year before that. Much as I'd like to continue the trend and finish 67 projects, I'll settle for 50. After all, I can include spinning in that list now!

Dying to dye

Something that I do when I can't knit for some reason is plan what to do with my stash yarn. Most of it has plans at this point, but there are some odds and ends still waiting for me to find the perfect pattern.

Thanks to a fellow Raveller, I had a brainwave on some of my most challenging stash - the handspun. As I've said before, I'm not a fan of knitting with chunky or slubby yarn, and most of my handspun in both. Plus, there's not much of it, since most of it was spun from sample bags that only weighed a few grams.

But 80-odd yards of heavy worsted is exactly enough to make a Calorimetry! I love the last one I made and have been meaning to revisit the pattern with a heavier yarn. And I have the first batch of merino I spun, plus the second batch that I Navajo-plied. Two more very versatile headwarmers coming up!

The only trouble with the handspun is that I don't wear much white. Thankfully, I have a load of Kool-Aid and some free time this weekend. So I'll be cleaning out my sink, digging up my tub of fruity goodness and dyeing up some crazy proto-Calorimetries. Plus I've got a skein of white DK-weight cashmerino that I got for my birthday that could turn into a lovely cowl... Hmmm, I wonder how much grape I have left?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Blown away

On the evening I went to see S for the final dress fitting, she handed me an envelope, along with a very definitive statement that she was not to be argued with! Inside was a gift certificate to Loop, our favourite LYS and the source of all the yarn for the dress. Incredibly generous and totally unexpected! I had told her that making the dress was going to be my gift to her, but she says that she hadn't realized how many hours of labour it was going to take. We both got a bit weepy at that point, although the perry we'd been drinking might have had something to do with that too. :)

She'd timed it well, as that very Sunday I'd been planning a trip to Loop for a book launch. Cookie A, designer of my beloved Monkey socks, as well as the Poms and many other gorgeous designs, has just brought out a book of new sock designs. I couldn't miss meeting her and looking at the sample socks she'd brought, and with S's gift to me I didn't feel guilty shopping when I'm supposed to be saving money.

I got the book. It's called Sock Innovation, and has pages and pages of great patterns, beautiful photography and fabulous instructions on sock construction. Cookie A was charming and graciously signed my book, even checking the spelling of my name, and allowed me to pick her brains on sock ribbing. Plus the owner of Loop baked chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies. Yum!

Loop have recently started stocking KnitPro knitting needles as well. I was tempted by the interchangeable set, but then sense struck me and I remembered that I don't really like circular needles. I also remembered that I needed a few more sets of sock needles as well. So, the Harmony DPN set followed me home too. I haven't tried them out yet, but they are beautiful. And they come in sets of 6 needles in case one gets broken!

The final purchase of the day was sheer indulgence. I've often lusted over beautiful and pricey yarns, but ultimately bought more sensible and economic ones instead. Not that day. S wanted me to enjoy myself, so for once I bought the gorgeous, expensive, frivolous yarn that I've petted so many times in the past. Two perfect skeins of Handmaiden Lace Silk in the colourway 'Stardust'. Blue, silver, black, grey... More than any colourway I've ever seen, this yarn is me.


When it grows up, this yarn is going to become a Laminaria Shawl. I've pored over that pattern countless times and have never found a worthy yarn for something that pretty. Now I think this is going to be the perfect marriage of pattern and yarn. For the time being, though, I'm just going to pet my amazing yarn and be happy that it's finally mine.

Thank you, S. Your generosity has made this knitter very, very happy. And it was a privilege making your dress.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Slowly recovering

One of the effects I often experience after finishing a big project is a total disappearance of knitting energy. The Yarn Harlot calls this phenomenon 'knitting whiplash', which seems to me a good description. It's been rather sad this time though, because I finished the dress right before Easter Closure - 6 days off and no motivation to knit!

I had some motivation, truthfully. But I'm on a self-imposed crochet ban until the end of April because my elbow is giving me problems. So, no ripple bedspread, no Totoro. Both of which I really felt like working on. I did, however, manage to finish the first of hub's Thuja socks and cast on for the second. That'll go back into my bag to take to work tomorrow.

I've been picking up some of my other WIPs rather halfheartedly. A couple of rounds of a mitten, a row of a shawl, a bit more Monkey sock. I didn't even particularly want to start anything new at first! Over that now - I've cast on for two new projects. The first is a fairly simple drop-stitch scarf using some yarn I bought ages ago and have never been able to use. This seems to be working out, finally. I've used 1.5 of 3 balls and plan to use it up entirely.

The other new project is an Aeolian Shawl from the latest Knitty. I'm using the very first Posh laceweight I ever bought for it - Cecilia in the colourway 'Orchid'. It's gorgeous and I love it. So far I've only done the set-up chart because I'm now back into the swing of knitting and want to finish a few more WIPs before really getting into this.

Monday, 13 April 2009

A wedding!

Last Wednesday I managed to finally finish the wedding dress for S. Which was good because the wedding was on Saturday! It fit her like a glove, and thanks to her mum I managed to not have to do the underdress. S bought a premade underdress and her mum had a vintage slip, so once the back had been reshaped it was perfect.

The coolest part of the whole thing for me? The groom toasted me during his speech and the dress got a round of applause. :D

I'm really glad it's finished, but I've been feeling a little lost without my neverending pile of green yarn to work on. My elbow is very pleased to be done - no more crochet for me until the end of the month.

Monday, 6 April 2009

A belated birthday post

Yes, my birthday was in fact in the middle of March. Despite that, I'm updating now because I have knitterly photos from that occasion! :D

Several months ago I signed up to participate in a birthday swap on Ravelry. Hubs called me at work on my birthday to tell me a mysterious package had been delivered from Scotland! It took me a while to remember, but then I twigged that it was my swap parcel. And what a parcel! Yarn, chocolate, a badge for my collection, frog prince buttons...

CherryRed outdid herself.

My mum also came to visit for Crown and took me shopping at the Handweavers' Studio for my birthday too. Three new bobbins for my wheel, some fiber sample packs (including one of cashmere, yum!), a couple of magazine back-issues and a book on needle lace. Thanks mum!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

I promise I'm not dead

Though you might think that from the infrequency of my updates these days. I am rapidly approaching the end of the dress, and it's eating all of my time. I feel as though I can't update my blog because I have no finished projects to show, and there's only so many views of a green blob one can take. The wedding is a week on Saturday. Thankfully, I'm off the hook for lining it. Given the state my elbows are in from all the crochet, that's a really good thing!

I've started the toe of the first of hubby's Thuja socks. His toes are quite wide, so I probably won't do the recommended number of toe decreases. I'm working on a novelty yarn garter-stitch scarf as well - the ideal project for evenings when my brain has switched off.

This past weekend was a major Kingdom event - Spring Crown Tourney. My home Shire was hosting, and I (foolishly?) volunteered as reservations steward. Assisting in the running of a weekend-long event for 100 people is not hugely relaxing, but it was a lot of fun. And it meant that I spent quite a chunk of time frantically sewing clothing together to wear to court. My fingers are itching to sew again! I'm pondering taking some time out from yarncraft after finishing the dress in order to ply a needle for a while.

Having said that, Cookie A is in London this weekend signing copies of her new book at Loop. And I have a good-sized pile of semi-solid sock yarn needing a pattern, and I did commit to making myself four new pairs of socks this year...