Sunday, September 27, 2009

I did it!

I darned the socks! Huzzah!

Thanks to everyone for their excellent tips, especially Jan for her very detailed instructions, and to StitchBliss for the link to this video tutorial (which has a most amusing serious voiceover but which has an excellent level of detail!). Oh, and to Gae for suggesting to put a rubber band around the base of the sock-covered mushroom - that does make it a lot easier, by holding the sock in place on the mushroom (because it's a slippery little sucker!)
When I stretched the sock over the mushroom, I noticed a lot of weak spots around the hole, so I didn't end up sewing around the hole, but just started weaving through the sock, starting in a strong point and working from right to left to cover the weak spots and the hole, and ending on the stronger point again.
Then I turned and wove the other way, including the actual weaving portion over the hole.
All covered up!
When I turned it right side out, I found I had some strands that were not quite woven in as well as I would have liked, but all in all I'm pretty happy with this darning business.
I still hate sewing, but ten minutes of it to save a week of knitting - it's totally worth it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rose Buds

While I'm working up the courage to darn those socks, I thought I'd share a secret project I've been working on the past couple of months, which has now been gifted and so can be shared.

Earlier this year I signed up for the Knitting Inspirations sock club - 4 packages of lovely Handmaiden/Fleece Artist sock yarn, with an original pattern and other goodies, spread over 12 months.
When the first package arrived in June, I was so glad I'd signed up - omg the yarn was just so gorgeous, both in colour and composition (the much lauded MCN! Merino Cashmere Nylon...mmmm delicious!) (and not black, this is just a dark photo - a lovely burgundy wine colour). Since Someone Special had a birthday coming up, I knew what I had to do!

Yarn: Handmaiden Casbah in wine, 1x115g skein. OMG this is gorgeous gorgeous yarn. So soft and lovely to knit with (and I hear, lovely to wear!). And I can tell you, it survives being unknotted in an epic four hour straight detangling session after a disastrous attempt at winding it (the less said about that whole affair the better!)
Pattern: The pattern was designed by Ann Lim, one half of Knitting Inspirations - a lovely easy toe up pattern with an eye of partridge heel flap/gusset. You can continue the rosebud pattern on both sides of the leg once the heel flap is done, but I chose to do the back of the leg in stocking stitch - a bit like a reverse mullet - party in the front, business in the back! Ann has now released the pattern for sale on Ravelry if you'd like to make your very own!
Sticks: 2.5mm KP Options fixed circulars, for magic loop technique - this pattern is perfect for magic looping, as the pattern is symmetrical and easy to divide over two needles.

Time: For various reasons, these were not finished in time for the birthday girl (lucky it was only half the gift!) - started 21 June 2009, finished 21 August 2009.
What I learnt: Be careful when winding - make sure you have separated the strands of the skein correctly before putting it on the swift. And don't get impatient when you have to wind by hand. And if you do have to detangle, be very patient and have lots of soothing cups of tea and chocolate on hand. Oh, and don't knit the foot too long or you'll have to rip it back after you finish the WHOLE heel section and redo it. Le sigh.
But despite these issues (all of my own making!) I think these are a lovely pair of socks.

Happy belated birthday Bells!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Darn it!

Can you have such a thing as too many sock knitting books?
Clearly not, as I bought this one on the weekend!
When it first came out, I thought I could probably do without it...but then I had a look through a copy and realised I was wrong! So the instant I saw it at Sew and Tell in Berry (sorry, everyone, last copy...but they'll order more!) I pounced! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

But you know what has just struck me about my sock knitting books? None of them (as far as I can recall, I haven't checked again today) have any instructions about what to do about this:
Yes, that's right, it's a hole! In the heel of the first pair of socks I ever knit! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
I learnt so much from those socks - how to knit with what felt like a porcupine in my hands, the value of negative ease (these socks were knit with 8ply/dk yarn, using 4mm sticks - as per the pattern!), about ladders (which I still get - but which I know how to avoid), about trusting the heel turn instructions (I still remember my confusion and fear, and the valuable advice I read about heel turning: "just do it, it will work!") and the satisfaction which comes from knitting such a practical item which is well-loved by the wearer, husby. I think these are still his favourite socks.
As to the hole...well, lucky I have one of these:
Now I just have to work out how to use it. Any tips or links to tutorials gratefully received!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

See, I can still finish things!

Even amongst all that casting on during the WOW madness, I managed to finish something too.

Of course, it helped that I had a birthday deadline...
Best of all, the 10yo birthday girl loved it! Which was pretty much a gimme, as purple is her favourite colour.

Pattern: Swinging Ribbon Bag (Ravlink) by Candi Jensen from her book Hooked on Crochet. I modified the pattern by doing a single shoulder strap (it was going to be a cross-body strap but I may have run out of time to do that...) and by adding a flap and button closure. And I didn't sew ribbon around the inside edge or the strap, although I do think that is a lovely finishing touch.
This is a very easy pattern - it's just dc all the way (sc for our US friends) and the texture is made by doing one dc in the front loop, and the next in the back, and repeat! It's amazing what a difference this made to the look of the stitch!

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cathay col 12012, 2.5 x 50g balls - from the stash! Hurrah! And one button - also from stash!

Hook: 4.5mm hook (lucky I wrote this down in my notebook, because I couldn't for the life of me remember even though I only finished it a couple of weeks ago)
Time: 26 August 2009 - 5 September 2009. Love a lovely quick crochet project!

If you are looking for a crochet book with a variety of patterns, I really recommend Hooked on Crochet. It's got a great range of things, most of which are relatively easy, including garments, bags, accessories and trims. It's even got the good old crochet bikini (which, yes, I have made...not for me though!!) In fact, now that I think about it, this is the book I think I've made the most patterns from of any of my books, knitting and crochet. It is a US book, so uses the US terminology, but once you are over that small hurdle, it's easy running (or crocheting) from there. I'd make the crochet skirt pattern from it in a flash...actually, maybe that's what I should do instead of the entrelac skirt...hmmmm, food for thought!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

WOW: Wrapup

Wow. That was a big week of knitting (and blogging!). I had to have a little break. In fact, on Tuesday night, I spent two whole hours sitting down in front of the tv NOT KNITTING! Amazing!

Looking back on each of the 7 projects I started, I've noted the following:
-3 garments - a skirt, a vest and a ... hmm, I'm not sure how to describe the Tantric Puzzle top!
-2 pairs of socks, one toe-up, one cuff-down
-2 shawls, one circular, one triangular
-5 lace projects
-1 cabled project
-1 fair isle project
-1 entrelac project
-1 new trick learnt (latvian twist cast on) and a couple practiced (emily ocker's cast on, knitting backwards (or purling from the knit side).

I'm pretty happy with that variety. I'm also pretty happy I've got multiple sets of 4mm KnitPicks tips and a bunch of extra cables!! A couple of things have not been as successful as I'd hoped, for various reasons, but that's ok, they all contribute to my GAAK!

What a wonderful, liberating and fun experience it was. I was interested to see how many people thought that so many new projects would overwhelm them or worry them as to how they'd keep track of them or get them all finished. Everyone has different comfort levels. Me, I love having options. And I choose not to worry about the number of things on the go or how I'll get them done. It's only knitting. I figure there's more important stuff in the world to worry about - although to be honest, I try not to really worry about anything anymore, because my worrying doesn't change anything except the amount of grey hairs in my head. Of course, I don't always succeed at this "not worrying" thing though! Like everything else, it's a work in progress.

As to finishing wips, I have a plan of attack. I am going to try to work on one of the new projects and one of my already existing WIPS during each month, with the aim of finishing both in that month. And that way, when I go back to the next "new" project, it will be just like starting something new but with all the planning and casting on and the annoying first row done!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

WOW Day 7: Frankensocks

And on the seventh day ... I decided I'd better knit something for my husband.

After my relative success with fair isle in the Endpaper Mitts, I thought I'd try a bit of fair isle in a sock. Not the whole sock, because I really think double stranded 4ply/fingering socks are really too warm for our climate. But just a little bit, around the top of the leg, that'd be alright, and then the rest of the sock would be plain sailing.

I thought these two colours would work well - the red is Dunkle Kirsch and the black/grey/white is Birkenrinde - with the main part of the sock in the Birkenrinde, a suitably boyish colour.

I've called this the Frankensock as I've cobbled together pieces of two Nancy Bush patterns for the cuff of the sock - the Latvian Twist cast on from Canada, and the fair isle chart from Christmas in Tallinn (both from the excellent Knitting on the Road).

And quite frankly, I think Frankensock is apt because they are a bit ugly (yeah yeah, I know Frankenstein was the master, not the monster!). The WM label told me: Don't dream it - knit it!

Unfortunately, my dreams for this sock haven't quite translated into reality. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to keep this or frog, or maybe just frog the fair isle part and knit the whole sock plain. Maybe I'll reverse the colours and see if that looks any better. Either way, the Birkenrinde is going to pool and flash (I was really hoping it would stripe) but if husby doesn't mind then I won't let it bother me. Much. Another GAAK experience, I think. What do you think?

Monday, September 07, 2009

WOW Day 6: The Cap Shawl

Yes, Ms 2Paw, there's more! The "weekend" isn't a day of rest in the Week of Wollmeise!

Today's inspirational WM label statement: "Let your ideas fly" - very apt for this mad/inspired scheme of mine!!

I knew when I finally bagged a skein of the WM laceweight that I wanted a project which would use as much of the skein as possible - and it's a BIG skein - 1575m/1717 yards or 300g of a heavyish merino laceweight - there's a lot of knitting in this baby.
Not to mention a lot of winding. I approached the winding of the skein with trepidation. Would it all even fit on my ballwinder? Would I end up with a horrid mess of knots? Would my arm fall off from all the winding (a 500+m skein of sock is bad enough - try doing one per day for 5 days and then this monster!).
Fortunately, there were no knots, the whole skein fit on the ballwinder (just!) and my arm did not fall off. I even wound it (slowly) in one go with no rest breaks! Here it is with yesterday's Digitessa yarncake, for comparison.
I decided to do a circular shawl with this yarn (colour is Maus Jung, by the way, which means young mouse in German!). Not least because it involves little or no purling! (Anyone seeing a theme here...). I had a few in mind but ultimately went with my first choice, the Cap Shawl (Ravlink), from Victorian Lace Today.
It's hard to capture the colour, which almost tones to purple in this grey, and of course the lace itself looks pretty much just like a blob.
So far, so good (I think...). If nothing else, the colour matches my hair quite nicely! My hair will probably be entirely grey by the time I finish this!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

WOW Day 5: La Digitessa

Yes, yes, finally, I'm doing socks in the Wollmeise!!
I lucked onto a Yarnissima update (or two...) and having admired her amazing sock patterns for some time, thought I'd better avail myself of the opportunities presented to me! And the sock kits are presented so nicely (and they make awesome gifts too!).
And the pattern - oh my - 13 pages, 6 different charts, many, many, many twisted stitches and cables and a very cool gusset construction.

I'm using the yarn dyed by the Wollmeise especially for the pattern (but you can buy the pattern alone if you prefer) and I just love it. It's variegated, which I usually steer away from for patterned socks, but in a very subtle way. It's knitting up so nicely, I couldn't be happier!
Well, I could be happier...if I could knit faster! Thank goodness every 5 or so rows of the chart are (relatively) easy (ie no cables!). And that I can cable without a cable needle (an essential skill for tackling this pattern I think!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

WOW Day 4: Garbo

All my GAAK yesterday was a bit too much...for today's project I have taken a number of shortcuts. Only time will tell whether they are evidence of growth, overconfidence or just plain laziness.

Today's project is a relatively simple (but I hope classic) vest, in the 100% merino sock yarn, in what is, to my eye, the best red ever! It's an almost solid, called Herzblut. Oh this is truly divine! The pattern is another from the lovely Rowan 44, called Garbo (Ravlink).

Well, I decided it made much more sense to knit this in the round than flat. Woo hoo, no purling! Unfortunately, it did mean casting on 328 stitches. I wish I'd timed myself, because I'd be interested to know how long it takes to cast on that many stitches. Not that I'm planning on doing it again soon...

And after starting the stitch pattern (and mucking it up...omg I wish I'd timed myself when I was tinking 164 stitches...) I realised that instead of doing the (3 normal knit, 3 ktbl) repeat ad nauseum, I could just knit the lot! Surely the twisted stitch lines aren't going to make that much difference...

Only time will tell...because unfortunately the pictures don't show much yet - it takes a dang long time to do these rounds!! Only 40cm (16") more to go...until the armhole shaping!! Gah!

Friday, September 04, 2009

WOW Day 3: Luminarie Skirt

Today's project is a tale of my growth as a knitter (GAAK for short!). In more ways than one...

A couple of years ago, on my birthday actually, I decided I'd start a project in the Wollmeise so generously gifted to me by my blog buddy Michele (she'd given me TWO skeins of Rosenrot, before all the WM hype really began! Wow - just amazing!). Anyway, I chose a pattern and knitted away, slowly - it was for me so no rush.

Lately I've noticed lots of people making garments from their WM sock yarn, and since I'd picked up another skein of Rosenrot a while back (how can I not - it's "RoseRed" in German!) I started to regret my initial pattern choice because it seemed to make more sense to make something that uses all 3 of the skeins.

And so, dear readers, I frogged it. A half done scarf. Yes, me, frogging a perfectly good half knit item! (GAAK #1: accepting that frogging is completely ok and will not break me)

It went from this:

To this:

And after yesterday, it's now looking like this:
The Luminarie Skirt (Ravlink) by Annie Modesitt, from IK Summer 2009. I know! A knitted skirt! (GAAK #2 - if you count making a knitted skirt some sort of growth and not a big mistake!). I do think this is one knitted skirt that works - not figure hugging - so should actually skim over bumps and not bag and sag with wear. And it's entrelac! And lace! Fun!
I even swatched (GAAK #3). Important, because the called-for yarn is sportweight silk, and I'm using fingering/4ply merino. And even though I had nowhere near gauge, I started anyway, in the next size up, figuring that would be ok (um, do I lose GAAK points for that?).

Of course, it isn't ok...there's no way this will fit around my waist (that's an 80cm/32" circular it's on - so NOT my waist measurement). But you know what? I'm going to keep knitting for a little while longer anyway, to allow me to accurately size it up so I can make it to actually fit me! (Oh yeah, GAAK #4 - knitting for experiment sake, even though I know I'm going to have to FROG it (again) and thereby undo all those HOURS of work).
Hmmm, this being a grown up is kinda weird for me.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

WOW Day 2: Tantric Puzzle Top

Today's Wollmeise phrase: "Stick to your knitting!" (as if there's anything else I'd rather be doing!)

Earlier this year, the Wollmeise introduced a worsted weight yarn, called Molly (Molly being a "fuller-figured" version of the sock yarn!). I was lucky and scored a 4 skein pack in an update, although it's a colour (Campari Orange Dark) very different than I'd normally use for a garment - wild variegated reds, oranges and deep yellow!

I searched and searched Rav for an appropriate pattern that wasn't a clapotis - I have 880 yards and I wanted to use as much as possible, so a garment was a possibility.

I found the Tantric Puzzle Top (Ravlink) and the problem was solved! It's a very cool pattern - basically two long strips sewn together in a particular way and worn crossed over at the front and tied at the back (a great use for woven strips too, for any weavers out there!).

You can use pretty much any yarn and stitch pattern you like, just make the strips the desired width and length. Inspired yet again by someone on Ravelry, I've chosen a lace stitch, in the vein of feather and fan, called Ostrich Plumes. I had a false start with 4.5mm sticks, and have moved up to 5mm now which I think is good.

I'm still a bit iffy about my ability to wear this much bright colour, as well as whether the strips will block out to the correct size, but so far, I'm pretty excited to be making something a little left of centre. Fingers crossed for a winner!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

WOW Day 1: Springtime Bandit

What better to start off the Week of Wollmeise (aptly, WOW for short!) on the first day of Spring, than the Springtime Bandit!

I ummed and aah'ed over this pattern for a while, and then I saw this version (Rav link) - LOVED it in the dark blue (and I'm sure the excellent photographs of it helped too!). Perfect for this blue-black Wollmeise 100% superwash merino (Admiral). Perhaps not the splash of COLOUR you might expect of the Wollmeise, but the depth of this particular colour is amazing!
Did you know the new WM labels have knitting related phrases on the back? Today's phrase, brought to you by WM and the number 1:

Today is the day: knit me!

Oh yes, I think I shall!
(oh, and to anyone who thought I meant to start - and finish - each project each day - oh no!! Only casting on and knitting as much as I can - there's no way I could finish any of the projects I have planned in one day! Probably not even a week! But that's the other beauty of this Grand Plan - it's like a gift that keeps on giving, even after the week is over!)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Grand Plan

As promised a few days ago, I've got a Grand Plan. I shall reveal it shortly, but have to get a few things out of the way first...

1. Keeping Track
Believe it or not, dear readers, this month no new yarn came into my house!! I think that might be a first for the entire period I've been Keeping Track!!

And I knitted up 11 x 50g balls so I've finally made a very small dent (ok, a minor scratch, or perhaps even a paper cut) in my stash!

I do believe that is cause for celebration!

In: 0 x 50g balls!!
Out: 11 x 50g balls
YTD: 128.5 x 50g balls

2. Gift knitting and a long standing WIP completed!
August was all about the gift knits. I finished 6 gift knits this month, and have almost finished a 7th and started an 8th.

The thing I'm most happy about is that I have finally finished something I think (I can't even recall for sure) that I started in May 2006 (yep, you heard right, 2006!). Just in time for my niece's birthday! (She was not even born when I started this. Or even thought about! I can't remember who I was planning on giving this too when I started it, but it's sure come in handy this week!)

Pattern: Demin Pinafore by Erika Knight from Simple Knits for Little Cherubs. The second, and last, time I've made this. The main reason it's hung around unfinished for so long is all the sewing down of the picot edges - ugh! Cute, but ugh! If I was tempted by this pattern again, I think I'd do simple garter edges!!
Yarn: Rowan Denim. Very cool 8ply/dk weight cotton yarn that fades and shrinks like your favourite jeans (well, the shrinkage is only the first time you wash it!). I really like this yarn. It can be a bit tough on the hands, but the finished product is worth it!

Sticks: Um, I think 4mm. I'm not even sure any more!

Time: Sometime in May 2006. Finished August 30 2009. Oh dear!
So a long time WIP finally onto the FO list. In fact, this month I have steady shrank the WIP list. I mean, it's still a long list, but not nearly as long as before!! A couple more reasons to celebrate!

All these causes for celebration have lead me to this point:

3. The Grand Plan
As a little reward to myself after having such a good month on many fronts, I've decided that this first week of September is going to be all about me! And new stuff!
I'm going to cast on a new project every day for the next seven days! A whole week of new projects! And not only that, but they are all going to be done in the Wollmeise! I've been so lucky hitting updates lately, and I've felt like I can't start anything new because of the gift knit deadlines and the amount of WIPS, but now I'm throwing caution to the wind!

If anyone wants to join me in The Grand Plan (whether it be Wollmeise or not, it's really all about the new projects!) then please do! I'd LOVE for others to be as irresponsible as me!

Let the Week of Wollmeise begin!