Archive for October, 2008


Roadtrip!

Oh yeah! Roadtrip! Well, not yet. But in February! Roadtrip!

And in case you’re wondering why I’m detailing about a roadtrip on a knitting blog, well, check that month again, and see if you can guess. Come on, use those brain cells…think…why would a knitter talk about going on a roadtrip in February? Guessed it yet?

It’s Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, that’s why! (www.madronafiberarts.com)

Mom and I are going to be hitting the road February 12th, 2009, and we won’t be back in town until the afternoon of February 15. There are classes that I am dying to take (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s "Freeranging", Jean Wong’s "Fine Finishing", and Cat Bordhi’s sock class). I told Mom a few juicy details about it over the course of a couple of hours, told her about the instructors, the fact that we could stay in the hotel of the event, it would be tons of fun for the two of us, etc, but I finally found the last tidbit that I knew would cement our going. Nancy Bush is teaching a class on Estonian Lace knitting. Mom caved.

Christmas present ideas have now become money for Madrona, money for Madrona, and money for Madrona. The cost of the hotel, gas, and food are going to make things a little pricey, but the real concern on our mind of course, is the cost of all the yarn we’re going to buy. But we’ll be in the country for 48 hours people, which means that we’ll be able to bring back a shipload, and the border guards can’t say squat! (!!!!!!)

And in further, much less exciting news, I’ve started two lace scarves:

tigereye

This is Tiger Eye Scarf in Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, and it was as a gift from Mom. She started it and fell totally out of love for it, so it was adopted happily by me. And yes, I’m knitting on the Knit Picks options wooden needles, and I have to say, I’ve fallen IN love with them. I just might have to get me a set….(but probably after Madrona, because the stash multiplying possibilities are totally making me pinch my pennies). I also got very angry with the pattern that I intended my Kid Merino victory yarn for. The charts were not well written, neither were the instructions, which quite frankly, needed to be much more concise. Plus, that crochet cast on was murder, Mom ended up having to do it for me, and she struggled with it too, very awkward. That’s ok though, because we went onto Ravelry and found a fine replacement.

travellingfern

Meet the Travelling Fern lace scarf, and please, do not think that that is all that has been knit on this scarf now, it’s like 6 or 7 repeats longer now, I’m just too lazy to take another picture at 7:50am (which reminds me, I have to leave for work soon, blech).

Also, my Knit Picks Shine Sport came in the mail yesterday, 8 balls in "Hydrangea" (which is my favorite flower). It’s going to be made into the Tree Pose yoga matt bag from Inspired Cable Knits (you’ll have to google it yourself, I’m leaving in like 5), and I’m going to cast it on the second I get home from work tonight (blast this need for "gainful employment!!").

And yes, I’m still right on track with the Christmas knititng. Still working on Dad’s sock, but I’m about halfway done the leg now, it’s plugging along while I read blogs and such. Can’t wait to have it done though, and out of the way! Well, work calling, must go. I must earn much monies for Madrona!

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I think I’ve got the bug.

The lace bug, that is. Shoalwater has barely been off the needles, and I’m already itching to start something new that’s lacy. I still want to do Icarus really, really badly, but I feel like switching to lace weight and taking on a full shawl might be a bit much of a challenge, even for me (and boy, do I love me a challenge!), but I think a scarf is perfectly reasonable.

Enter in Victory Yarn! Remember that gorgeous Kid Merino I bought to celebrate my divorce victory while I was in the States back in August? No? Well, let me refresh your memory:

victoryyarn

The color way is called "Tulips" and I’ll be knitting the French Trellis border scarf from Victorian Lace Today, I don’t think I could be more excited. I’ve photocopied the pattern from the book so I don’t break the spine or spend time trying to squint at the heavy book on my lap. I can put the pattern safely in a sleeve, and hold it as close to my eyes as I need to when the chart reading gets tough. I went onto Ravelry and looked up the pattern too, and I found this one.

Blocked out, I think this scarf is going to be really, really beautiful. It’s got some neat things for me to learn too, there’s lots of steps, and I get to learn crochet cast on (if it’s different from Provisional), and there is turning and interesting ways of constructing it. I shall definitely be reporting my progress during this one!

And in Christmas knitting news, one pair of socks for a friend has been completed, I have finished one of the two pairs of socks for my father, the second one is a few inches down the leg, the top secret project for my mother is off the needles, and will be blocked at some point soon. I have the yarn for the socks for the friend from the States, and I’m thinking about adding one more project, but we shall see. Also, I have finally chosen the pattern for the socks for USA friend, lookie lookie!

Earl Grey Socks. I am an AVID earl grey tea drinker, and this friend knows it. The yarn is black (upon his request), so I had to do something that required some brain power, especially since the other man I’m making socks for, well his are plain, and gray. It gets to you after awhile, you know? Earl Grey will have some meaning to them, but still meet his color and "pretty plain, please" requests. At least, they better!

I can’t believe how much I’m just trucking along with the Christmas stuff! I really wouldn’t be surprised if I’m finished before I even see December!

Precious.

shoalwater

I need say no more…*happy sigh*

My First Lace Shawl/Scarf

Not my first attempt at lace knitting, but my first successful one. I have made two attempts since the beginning of the year to complete a lace project, the first, Icarus, met it’s untimely demise when a large mistake that was impossible to undo was discovered, and was frogged. The second attempt, Flower Basket, was moth fodder, and was ripped off the needles and sealed in a grocery bag and tossed. The third attempt, however, Shoalwater Shawl, has successfully made it off the needles.

There were a couple of stumbles along the way, misplaced or forgotten yarn overs, a tangled stitch or two, but Shoalwater made it to the finish only having to have a couple stitches dropped down, and only three 6 rows had to be ripped back and picked back up (thanks again Mom!). The only part that gave me a little bit of trouble was the pico edging, and after having some help reading it over and working through it, I managed to get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Towards the end, I placed a lifeline in the shawl in case I didn’t have enough yarn to finish the edging. Well, I finished it, alright, but with only about 1.5 inches of yarn to spare. It had to be carefully drawn under a few stitches with my darning needle (there was no stringing that sucker and weaving it in) and then stitched down to the inside with a needle and thread.

shoalwater1

If you look carefully along that top line, near the right, you can see some of my stitches. A pretty close call, but I managed it. Here’s what Shoalwater looked like before blocking:

shoalwater2 

A straggly, ratty looking thing, isn’t it? All curled up and wrinkled! Well, next step was a good soak in water and wool wash:

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And last step of course, was blocking it:

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We carefully aligned the center stitch of the shawl with the center of the blocking board, then stretched the two sides out even lengths, 24.5 inches, and then pulled the center stitch down the same length, and pinned it in the center of the blocking board as well. The waves were pulled out and the two picos that were on either side of the center yarn over were pulled out, and then came the back-breaking task of bending over it and pulling out each little pico point and pinning it.

After getting the whole thing pinned, I then adjusted each side to be as close to the other and even as possible. It’s not perfect, it’s my first blocking, but for a beginner, I think I did a pretty good job. I was tedious enough to get a good result, but not obsessive enough to turn myself into Ghollum from Lord of the Rings, muttering, whispering, and talking to myself about Precious and how perfect it must be (although I was tempted to). Hopefully, by the time I get back from work tomorrow, Precious — I mean, Shoalwater, will be dry as a bone, and ready to photograph!

My plan now, is in the near future, cast on for Icarus and start over again. I have practice with all the steps of lace knitting now, so moving onto lace weight and a larger scale project should be more achievable now (we can only hope…).

Oh yes, and please! My bloggerversary is coming up next month, if you read my blog, even occasionally, please, drop a comment and a link to your own blog if you have one, I would love to get an idea of how many readers I have a year after I’ve begun this little virtual knitting journal!

For those long-term followers of this humble blog (heh, if I have any other than my mother), you may remember the first incarnation of "Precious," or Icarus Shawl designed by Miriam Felton from the beginning of this year. The aforementioned shawl was brought to the last Canvas Works, Olympia WA knit night that I attended, where I made a very large mistake on it, stopped, brought it home, tried to tink back, and in fact made things much, much worse.

Though all the turmoil of January when I left my ex, and February when I was trying to clean up the mess, pick up the pieces of my life (yadda yadda yadda…), it sat there in my clear plastic tub, waiting for me to have the heart (and guts) to drag it back out again and finish it. Well, in late February it was indeed dragged out, and announced after a couple hours worth of inspection and tinking on my mother’s part that it was not savable, and was frogged, rewound, and promptly packed away into my yarn basket to think about what it did.

Now, these long-term followers of the blog will probably also be aware that I’m Canadian, and was transplanted to the United States when I got married to well, we won’t mention his name or any unfortunately reincarnations that we may have come up with since I left. What can I say? I’m feeling nice (and I don’t want a law suit). Anywhoo! Back to my point! There are so many yummy yarns to try that are made right here in Canada, and one in particular has been at the top of my list since day one. Oh yes my Canadian friends, you are probably already reading my mind. Fleece Artist.

I have held Fleece Artist, almost spent part of my rent money on Fleece Artist, even seen how beautiful it is knitted up (and let me tell you, when you live with another knitter, and they are knitting Fleece Artist while you are not, and you don’t have any of your own, the urge to steal it from them and knit your own project is very hard to resist, but my willpower is better than I expected), and yet, I have never owned any Fleece Artist of my own.

Until now.

fleeceartist1

Enter Fleece Artist Sea Wool, fingering weight, in the Seashore colorway. This is a VERY good representation of the colors on my monitor, I hope it is on yours too. The second I held it in my hand, all thoughts of socks went out the window. Enter, shawl.

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My Fleece Artist on the swift.

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My Fleece Artist wound.

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My Fleece Artist wound, with the shawl pattern, Shoalwater Shawl, Fiber Trends, designed by Evelyn A. Clarke.

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If I hadn’t had to leave the house today to cash my pay cheque and go grocery shopping, I probably would have knitted double this. As it is, I had to use a lot of restraint not to work on into the dusk hours of the day. The colors cannot be truly appreciated at dark, so I making myself knit it only during the day, when I can really see it. I am so in love with the name of the yarn, how it goes with the name of the shawl, and the way it is knitting up. It really does look like waves from the sea, blending all the colors of the sand, water, and life that is in it. Shoalwater Shawl is my new Precious. Old Precious will probably be cast on again as soon as current Precious is off the needles and on the blocking wires, but I shawl continue to neglect Old Precious until New Precious has been thoroughly enjoyed.

(I probably sounded like a true knitting skank there for a minute, but hey, who the hell cares?)

Last time we met, our heroine was well on her way to completing her Celtic Tote bag, and she had purchased yarn for The Sunflower Tam from Knitting Nature, excited that she would have a flattering wool hat for the upcoming winter months. She had only some finishing work on the tote before she could felt it and block it.

Well, our heroine did indeed finish her Celtic Tote. She forced herself to sit down Friday night and complete the last half of the embroidery, and Saturday she seamed it up neatly, and felted it. The felting process went well, and she finished in record time; only 7 minutes in the washing machine!

celtictote7

She raved how the button fit well, the purse draped, but retained its shape, and marveled over how soft the felted wool turned out after it’s trip to what the Yarn Harlot has dubbed "Mr. Washie." It was stuffed with plastic bags and hung from a hanger with the little grooves for clothing with straps to hang from, and only 48 hours later, was bone dry, and all of her purse items have been transferred over.

celtictote8

The adept among you with notice the odd way the straps are attached. This was due to an oversight (read: not paying attention) on the knitter’s part, and only discovered after the entire tote was seamed together. She stewed over the idea of picking out the grafting and re-doing the straps for some time, and then decided against it, after discovering how she liked the way it hung in her hand when she carried it,and the way it stayed behind her shoulder when slung over it. Felting commenced as scheduled, and once it was blocked, our heroine moved onto the Sunflower Tam with alarming speed.

sunflowertam

Our heroine loved how the chunky wool knit up quickly, and marveled over the creative way the stitches traveled and the way twists were used to imitate cables. She was even more impressed when she finished, and the top of it looked like this:

sunflowertam2

I wish I could say our heroine is happily enjoying her new hat, is inspecting her lovely handiwork from all angles, stroking the faux-cables when she thinks no one is looking, and seriously considering using the rest of the yarn (bought 3 balls, used 1.5) to make another one, as a backup in case this one gets lost/stolen/damaged/dirty, and other knitterly appreciations of the item. However, the Sunflower Tam brings no joy to the knitter, because as beautiful as the Tam looks from the back there, this is what it look like from the front:

sunflowertam3

She is our heroine no more, and bumped back down to "knitter" status again. The search for the perfect hat continues…tune in next time, same bat time, same bat channel.

Grr.

Well, here on the knitting blog, I could tell you why I am angry and upset and kind of depressed today, especially since knitting and knitters is what got me upset, but I will not. I will however, direct you to my other blog in case you want to read about it.

I am quickly approaching my blogversary, the end of next month to be exact, and I find myself talking about the same subject right now that started the whole thing, Christmas knitting.

xmas1

Pictured here are socks for two different people, and I will not say who. Neither one of them reads this blog to the best of my knowledge, but I’m not going to test the fates either. I may have accidentally found out one of my own presents today (sorry Mom….I should have kept my eyes forward in the yarn shop), and I hate that, so I will not mention names at all. The brown sock is Panda Silk, and it is heaven to knit with. A close up for those interested:

xmas2

This picture does nothing to show off the sheen and beauty of its stitches, or let you know how soft and smooth it is, and how it just slips through your fingers like ultra soft grains of sand, so just stop drooling over the picture and go buy some. You will not be disappointed.

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I also bought yarn (duh!). The black is Cascade sock yarn, and is going to a friend of mine from the States, who shall also be nameless. The dusty rose-ish yarn, however, is mine, all mine! It is a beautiful, soft chunky weight intended for this project:

Sunflower Tam

What I find amusing is that the first link I clicked on after googling "Sunflower Tam" is that the knitter chose the same color as me. 😛 Heh. Anyways, off to be grumpy alone and knitting Christmas knitting for people who I hope will be grateful Christmas morning.

It Has Begun

It’s official, the Christmas knitting here at Chez Wooly has begun, and it’s October 7. I really have it together this year! On the needles for gifts are a pair of socks for a girlfriend who shall not be named (because she occasionally reads my other blog), and a pair of socks for my father, out of a gorgeous charcoal gray Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Plans for other gifts include something for my mother (again, she reads this, I’m not saying diddly squat), and a pair of socks for a friend from Washington.

There may be other plans that sprout up as we get closer and closer to Christmas (not to worry you, but it’s only 78 knitting days away…), as its pretty normal for us knitters to be generous with our time and wool, but I’m hoping that I can stick relatively well to this plan.

We’ll see just how long it takes before the list starts multiplying faster than rabbits in springtime though, hehe. That feeling of being ahead of schedule is probably going to be pretty short lived too, I’m worried that if I celebrate it too much it may come back to haunt me in a way that I will regret. I shall therefore, keep the gloating to a minimum, shut up, and go back to working on the alpaca socks.

Mmmmm…alpaca…

UFO Weekend a Success!

Who knew how much could be accomplished in just two short days?

I set off this weekend to just drag out some UFO’s and get started on cleaning up my queue (basically this was so I wouldn’t feel guilty when I decided to start another project), and I actually managed to clean 3 of the 5 from my list.

Belle Wrap from Knitting Little Luxuries got its buttons today, and helped to keep me warm as I went out into the chilly (but sunny) autumn day to get a fresh apple from our tree.

belle 

The actual knitting part of the project was finished Saturday night last week, and I finally blocked it yesterday morning. It’s just a touch damp in a couple places, but it didn’t bother me for picture purposes. The buttons I found at Wal-Mart for a deliciously cheap price! Taking the buttons OFF the card however, was a joke. They are joined to the card with metal rings, which I had to get off with pliers.

Second to be completed were my Leaf Lace Socks. I got past all the fiddly bits on the heel yesterday, intending to slowly knit them the rest of the week while I chatted with Mom, read blogs, etc. However, after I completed the wrap, and was reading the blog, I got it out to knit on, and the next thing I knew, I was ready to begin the toe! I’ve heard of black hole knitting, but I have never heard of knitting so fast you can’t believe it. I mean, one moment I’ve got a measley half-done foot, the next I’m looking at 7 inches of foot, completed!

leaflace2

And of course, Flower Basket shawl met it’s untimely demise yesterday and had to be not only abandoned, but destroyed, in order to protect the rest of my stash (which I double checked this morning, and nothing has been ruined, thankfully because of my foresight to pack most of my yarn in Ziploc bags when I packed to leave my husband in January). Celtic Tote will be dutifully worked on this week, and hopefully will be ready for felting by this weekend. I’ve already found two new projects to begin from my queue in Ravelry.

Surplice Bodice Camisole from Knitting Lingerie Style

And Tree Pose Yoga Bag, of which I couldn’t find a picture to link for you guys! Sorry! But the pictures of what it will look like, all finished on the blog will be well worth waiting for I think!

I’m using Knit Picks yarn for both these projects, Cotlin for the cami, and Shine Sport for the yoga bag. Each of these is only $2.49 a ball, which can’t be beat! For the two projects, before taxes and shipping, my total will be a measely $32.50! Hello, bargain! And Mom will be ordering some things too, so between us, our shipping cost will be next to nothing, and well, can’t escape taxes unfortunately!

So say another prayer for Flower Basket, but do not mourn it too long, I have some new projects to get busy with!

First off, the good news! I, the West Coast (today, the Wet Coast…) Knit Wit, have brought out all my UFO’s, and either completed them, or taken steps to. Whatever is not being blocked, is racing towards completion! Completed, are Belle Wrap and Mistake Rib. Belle Wrap is being blocked, I only have to find buttons for it. Pictures when dry, and wearable. Mistake Rib, pattern from Crazy Aunt Purl, and made in Noro Silk Garden, is a dream!

noroscarf

Nearing completion are the long-on-the-needles Leaf Lace Socks, from the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book, knit in TOFUtsies.

leaflacesocks

Celtic Tote is completely knit, save for the handles and button flap, and I’m half way through the embroidery, one side is complete. I’m hoping that with some effort, it can be in the washing machine this week, felting.

celtictote6

Now, for the last piece of good news. Knitters everywhere, take your seats. Knitting burns 102 calories per hour, based on a 150 pound woman, reports Health Magazine, October 2008 issue! Hell yeah! So this finally answers the age old knitting question, "If I knit fast enough, will it count as exercise?" Yes, it will!!!

Alas, one of my UFO’s has met an unfortunate demise. Now, before I break the horrifying news to you, you may want to sit back down after all that cheering. You may already have surmised what I’m about to tell you, and yes, it is ok to have butterflies in your stomach, or a lump in your throat. My lace shawl, Flower Basket, has been the victim of our dreaded enemy, the Moth.

After finishing all the fiddly bits with my Leaf Lace Socks, I dug out my dear Flower Basket shawl, that I was knitting out of a beautiful variegated merino lace weight, and knowing that I only had to pick out a few stitches before I could continue knitting, I diligently sat down to the task. Tinking completed, I knitted on, and at the center stitch, made a horrifying discovery. There was a HOLE in my shawl! At first, I wondered if the shawl had caught on a loop on my coil bound notebook I was tracking the rows on, and then stopped, and looked again. No, it couldn’t be, there were too many ends, they were too crisp and thin to be just torn on something. And upon further investigation, my mother and I found a few more holes and weak spots. Those filthy little insects had been feasting on my masterpiece like fat kids on Kit Kats.

I almost cried, almost screamed, and almost choked my mother when she started to say "Well, look on the bright side…it’s one less UFO…" But there was no fighting it, I had to abandon the project and (gulp), the yarn. Flower Basket came off the needles, and the yarn went into a grocery bag, which I twisted tightly to seal, and into the garbage can in the garage. I’m still furious, I swear the next moth I see is going to be carefully caught, and then tortured until it begs for life (ok, maybe not, but come on…why the LACE???).

Ok, breath. Think of the calorie burning potential I can do tonight. Think of puppies, kittens, rainbows, and chocolate. Just don’t think about Flower Basket. And if you do, say a little prayer for her, won’t you?

But I guess the good news is that Icarus is now queued up again…