Thursday, January 31, 2008

100 posts

So apparently this is my 100th post. If I'd been clever I would have had some sort of exciting knitting to show off. As it is I'm just plugging away at my plain red socks. I've added some inches and reached the calf increases but I don't think it counts as all that exciting.

I have also just cast on for my Lopi sweater. Since my gauge swatch needs to be done in the round I've decided to skip it and be willing to rip out the beginning of my first sleeve if I don't get the right gauge. Since I'm adding some colour work to the sleeve it should act a a pretty thorough swatch.

On second thought it seems appropriate that I am working on a sock and starting a sweater for my 100th post. Since I intend to keep posting it seems that works in progress fit better than something finished would. Maybe I'm more clever than I thought.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mindless knitting

After working on the Mingus socks and the Raven shawl I needed something simple to knit away at. I also wanted to use up the two remaining skeins of Shibui Sock yarn I had laying around. When I bought this yarn I thought it was a semi solid sort of thing but it turns out to be a striping yarn. This makes it tricky to use in intricate patterns but perfect for a simple sock.

Since the point was to use up what I had, I cast on at the toe and found that one skein yields a mid-calf length sock. With the leftovers from Mingus I should be able to get a pair of knee socks. I'm planning to work a picot edging but I'm going to make sure I can get two full socks before I use up yarn on fancy finishing techniques.

As you can see in the pictures the stripes work out pretty well except for the increase section for the calf shaping. If I were feeling picky I would do all of my increases at once, rather than spread out, to minimize the break in the pattern. I am not feeling picky about these socks so I'm just letting them be.

I took the picture using my "new" metal sock blockers. I found the sock blockers at an antique store and decided that they would be useful to have around. Since there was a variety of them available I wanted to make sure that I got the closest match to my foot size. First I measured them against my forearm which I remembered is generally the same size as your foot. Then I remembered that I had a sock in progress in my bag that I could test out for size. I'm guessing antique stores don't usually get clients trying socks in progress out on their wares. It did result in a sale, though.

Enough about socks. I'm not sure if it is the arctic air mass, which is apparently bearing down on us as I type, or what but I found myself with a strong desire to knit and Icelandic Lopi sweater. I want something comfortable to layer over things when I'm at home and maybe substitute for a jacket on warmer days. I don't need soft, just warm and woolly. Thanks to Ravelry and the pictures at Camilla Family Farm I picked out this sweater to knit:

I think I will add a snow flake motif to the cuffs but otherwise knit as written. While I was looking for the right sweater I came across I great picture that puts all those little dog sweaters to shame:

If you want to knit it the info is available here. I guess that it is true that the yoke sweaters look good on all body types.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Raven details

Pattern: Irtfa'a
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber's Haida Laci
Needles: 3.75 mm addi lace circular and 3.5 mm addi circular
Cast on December 14, 2007 and cast off January 26, 2008.

For me this was a project of contrasts and contradictions.

The pattern is at once complicated and easy; the structure of the shawl is much more complicated than the basic triangular shawls I have made before but most of the lace motifs are very easy and differ very little row to row. The repetitive lace made for easy knitting that I could do while reading and such but there were times when I wished for a bit of a challenge. I am crazy and in love with the needlessly complex so I don't expect that others will have the same reaction to the pattern as me in this regard.

The yarn is the first variegated lace yarn I've used. I like the general look of the shawl that this variegation gives but I also think that the lace would be better served by a solid black yarn. If I ever knit this pattern again I will use a solid coloured yarn with maybe a bit more weight to it. Getting gauge required going up a needle size and I find the stocking net bits of the lace a bit more open than I prefer. It doesn't help that lace shawls belong more to summer wear and I keep dreaming of a nice warm winter shawl.

The variegated yarn did help to hide my edging fix, though. The point in the middle is the one where I attached the fixed edging to the edging already knit. It wouldn't pass the inspection of a knitting judge but it is other wise unnoticeable. I was actually planning on carefully blogging about how I did this fix but once I started working on it I remembered that my approach to fixing lace is very much ad hoc and seat of your pants and therefore not easy to take pictures of and explain. I like the results, though, even if I can't share the method.
edging fix

I also liked the ease of spit splicing with this yarn. Keeping this in mind I was very careful when I was washing the shawl because I really don't want a felted lace project. I found that some of the yarn was ever so slightly felted in the skein, the darker portions especially. It led to some of the yarn seeming slightly thicker. However it also let me knit straight off the skein without worrying about the skein falling apart and becoming a massive tangle. I usually wind my skeins using my ball winder but this yarn comes in such a large skein that I knew I couldn't get it all in one ball and I didn't want to break it into smaller quantities.

Anyway, overall I liked this project and there are portions of it that I really love. What originally made me buy the pattern was the way it looks with the shoulder shaping.raven favorite
It really does capture the top of a birds wing. I also love the pointy edging. It stands out beautifully in this yarn and really makes the shawl into something special.

raven detail 3

raven detail 2

raven detail

Saturday, January 26, 2008


The raven/crow/Irtfa'a shawl is finished and blocked. I got the left edging finished yesterday and the right edging fixed this morning. It got wet blocked this afternoon and the poor cats lost their sleeping spot on the bed for a few hours while it dried. And now it is all finished and photographed. I am quite pleased with the results and have a lot to say about the yarn and pattern and process. However it is late so I will save my thoughts and pictures of the details until tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

T minus 20

At Meredith's prompting I set to work on the left edging of my shawl yesterday. I am now a mere 20 repeats of the edging pattern away from being done-ish. After I finish these repeats I just need to graft the two sides of the edging together, go back and fix the beginning of the edging on the right and then tuck in ends and block. I should have a completed shawl by the end of the month.

The left edging is going much faster because it lacks the p2togtbl that the right edging has. If this project were more portable I might have had the left edging done by now. Since I can't easily carry it around to school and such it is losing knitting time to a simple red sock I started when I finished the Mingus (Mingi?).

If I quit writing now I might get another couple of pattern repeats in before bed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


mingus finished
Ta da, the Mingus socks are finished. I used Shibui Sock yarn and 2.25 mm DPNs. I'm really happy with how these socks turned out. All of the twisted stitches really make the pattern pop.

While I'm on the topic of socks, I found these while looking around Ravelry for something to do with my sport weight sock yarn: Finnish knee socks. As you may have noticed, I love knee socks and these look like they might actually stay up. They also look like they should go well with any number of skirts. Now all I have to do is learn Finnish... Actually I think I should be able to muddle my way through using the internet's translation abilities. It also helps that there is a chart for the cable and the legend should give me most of the knitting terms I need.

I won't be casting on for these right away because I still have a shawl to finish. In fact I had a couple of crows outside my window this morning reminding me that the shawl needs to be finished.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ends in sight

So my plan was to work on fixing the edging of the shawl last night so that I could show off the results today. However I ended up working on my sock instead since it allowed me to multi-task (i.e. watch some TV at the same time). Then this evening I managed to turn the heel on the second of my Mingus socks and now I can't bring myself to set the sock down and pick up the shawl.

This happens to me when I'm reading a couple of books at the same time too. I will happily read some of one and then some of the other right up until the end is in sight for one of them. Once I can see then end I feel the need to get it finished and I will completely ignore the other book. At least I'm consistent.

While I haven't fixed the shawl yet I can at least share the plan for fixing it. The problem is that I missed the instruction for the beginning of edging that said to cast on stitches rather than cast them off. This was the result:

As you can see it looks a bit funny on the right where the edging begins. I would be tempted to leave it as it is and just try to hide it in the blocking but I want both sides of my shawl to match and I don't feel like making this same mistake twice. My solution is to cut the yarn where I bound it off at the beginning and reknit the first couple of repeats of the edging.

Before I cut my knitting, though, I wanted to make sure that my solution would work. I picked up the stitches along the mistakenly cast off edge and knit the start of the edging as instructed. It looks like it should work out just fine. (The shawl picture from my last post shows the trial run edging all knit up.) Now the plan is to rip out my trial run, cut the yarn and proceed to fix the edging properly. By the end I hope the mistake won't be visible, even to those who know it is there.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Half done twice over

I have finished one of my Mingus socks. All of the ribbing and knitting though the back loops makes this a slower knit, but the result is totally worth it. Now I just need to cast on and persevere through a second sock. I may also cast on for a pair of simpler socks too; I want to take full advantage of the wool sock weather we are enjoying.

I am also half done the edging on my raven shawl. You might notice that the corner of the shawl looks a bit weird. I realized about an inch from being done the edging that I had missed a key instruction that explained how to properly start the edging. For a brief moment I thought about ripping out all of the edging and starting again but then I came to my senses. I am trying out a couple of other ideas and I hope to be able to explain my fix in my next post. I'd just ignore it except that I want to make the shawl symmetric so I need to figure out what I'm doing before I start the edging on the left side of the shawl.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sock break

mingus progress
I'm about a quarter finished my shawl edging and thanks to my need for portable knitting I am also about half done one of my Mingus socks. I'm enjoying this sock pattern quite a bit, though it does require some concentration since you are always working two different lines of the chart on every row. One of these days I will start a nice plain pair of socks that I can work on without having to think about it. But first I have a shawl to finish.

I will try to get some pictures in natural light this weekend since my flash photography is not showing of the true colours of wither of my projects. Hopefully it will snow and I will have a nice background to work with.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Edging towards the end

I am now at the edging stage of my shawl knitting. It isn't going as quickly as before because I need to look at what I am doing to get my purl-two-together-through-the-back-loops to work out. I tend to overlook how much I use my fingernails to help with decreases. As soon as I cut my nails short I find it much more difficult to knit lace patterned things. It doesn't help that when I went down a needle size for the edging as the pattern asks I traded my pointy lace addis for my less pointy normal addis.

Aside from the slower progress, I'm loving how this is going. A couple more days and I should me able to block and wear this.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Visible progress

Tonight I actually managed to take a picture that actually shows the lace patterning of the shawl in progress. I have completed the first of two repeats of the final lace motif. Soon I will be onto the lovely edging. This project might even get done sometime this week.

This means that there will be little or no new knitting on the socks in progress. As soon as I can see the end of a project I tend to focus all of my attention on getting it off the needles. No time to blog more, must keep knitting....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hurray for progress

So my original plan was to work on my sock so that I could have a picture that actually looked a bit like a sock with an interesting pattern. I did work some on the sock but I am still a good ways away form the heel.

Instead I've been working on the shawl and if my progress isn't all that photogenic at least it feels like I'm really moving forward with this project. I have finally completed the little feathers that make up the majority of the area of this shawl. Now I have to knit the last lace motif twice and then do the edging. The end is in sight, if not exactly near. I'm always happy to move from one section of a lace project to another since it breaks up the monotony of doing the same thing for row after row after row.

You can't see much in this photo (poor lighting and unblocked lace are not a great combination) but trust me it shows the end of little feathers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Diversion 2

I was checking out my comics this morning and found this. If this doesn't belong on a knit blog I'm not sure what does.

xkcd is a great comic and definitely worth checking out. This one in particular has my undying love.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Since my sock and my shawl aren't showing much photogenic progress, today's update will have to be something not yet on the needles. While back in Regina for my early Christmas celebration I had a chance to wander into a new (to me) yarn shop called hip-to-knit. While I'm not crazy about the name they did stock some lovely stuff and I managed to limit myself to this truly beautiful skein of Handmaiden silk lace weight. It is a bunch of mouth watering oranges just this side of brown. Since it is reddish and ,y lighting is sub-par, the picture doesn't capture the true beauty of the thing. My current plan is to knit this up into a lace scarf of my own devising.

By next blog update I may have my socks far enough along that they actually look like socks. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New projects

Last night at the London knit group I cat on for a new sock. It is Cookie A's newest design Mingus. The design is beautiful and the subtle striping in sample sock's yarn reminded me of the ShiBui Sock yarn that I've had in my stash since my ill fated attempt to make kilt hose out of it. Of course the Shibui doesn't seem to be producing stripes with this pattern, but I'm liking the spiral that is happening instead. The yarn being red means that it doesn't photograph easily or well but this gives at least some idea of the thing:
mingus start

I thought it was funny that I brought this sock and my raven shawl to work on at knit night thinking that the sock would let me drink beer but then I ended up working on the shawl because I wasn't quite up to figuring out how the pattern on the sock worked. I did, however, manage to take some of the tedium out of doing 1x1 twisted rib thanks to great company and a glass of Guinness. This morning I was with it enough to get the pattern part of the sock worked out in my mind and started. Strangely, though, at the moment it is easier to knit the familiar lace of my shawl than the unfamiliar pattern of the sock and so I am using my lace shawl as computer knitting.

I entitled this post "new projects" because I also want to start a new blog project. I really enjoyed posting ever day in November and having that sort of commitment makes me actually sit down and type a bit rather than just thinking about it. So I will now be trying to post at least every other day. With the slowly changing shawl and no more Christmas knitting (aside form a hat that I really need to get started) I'm not sure I'll have something to show ever day but I think I should be able to work out something every other day. We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Raven progress...

as promised.
irtfa'a progress
At this point I'm almost half way done the small feather section, which I am finding easy though repetitive. Though I generally opt to follow charts for lace, in this case I'm sticking to the written instructions. I started this way because I was sick when I cast on and I didn't feel up to deciphering charts. Once I was feeling better I had the hang of the written instructions and didn't feel like switching to the charts.

I do love patterns that give both written instructions and charts. The choice is great and it also let's you double check things if you are running into difficulties. Chances are that if the charts and the written instructions both say the same thing, the problem is on your end and not a mistake in the pattern. I haven't run into such a situation with this pattern, though.

This shawl was actually the first thing I picked up to knit on New Year's day. I'm not sure it will be the first completed project of the new year,though, since I have a couple of hats that need to be worked on. Still I think that this is a good project to help usher in a good year for knitting.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Good to be home

After more than a week visiting in Montreal I'm glad to be home. I love the city but I miss my own apartment (and internet access). Because I've been away from the computer, I'm a bit behind on posting about my knitting. I got enough computer time while in Montreal to show off the squirrelly socks but not the bird mittens. I managed to get these completely done on New Year's Eve, which was a nice way to end the year. They are now blocked and ready to hit the mail as a late Christmas present.
bird back
bird palms
Pattern: Bird in Hand Mittens
Size: Second smallest
Yarn: Cascade 220; one ball of blue and one of black
Needles: 2.75 Bamboo DPNs (my favorite sock needles)
I didn't make any adjustments to the pattern, though I think I should have knit them one size larger. I always worry that mittens are going to be way to big when I'm working on the cuff only to realize that they are in fact just a hair too small. Hopefully realizing this will help me avoid making this mistake again but who knows.

I really love this pattern. The way the pattern on the back continues to vine up the thumb charms me. It does make a very dense mitten, which should keep the wind out as well as the warmth in. I think, though, that you could get away with a thinner yarn, especially with the smaller sizes.

Tomorrow I will update you on my shawl progress. Cheers.