Friday, February 29, 2008

Half done already

afterthought 2
I forget how quickly plain socks can knit up and how slowly ribbing goes after you've been knitting stockinette. I thought I might even be able to finish the whole pair in the last two days of February but the ribbing and heel have slowed me down enough that I think this pair might end up finished in March. I'm now off to cast on the second sock.
afterthought 4

Thursday, February 28, 2008

After thought sock

Spring break is messing with my blogging schedule. There is no good reason for it to but there is something about knowing you have the week off that makes it harder to get things done. Since I still want to write about the details of the Overdue hat (it is only right that its final post should also be overdue) and the snood scarf (which I am now thinking of as the Pomegranate scarf because of the colours involved) I will get my ass in gear and post more often the next few days.

For now, though, I want to talk about the sock I cast on earlier today. Ravelry has a sock knitting group that issues monthly challenges. Each month there is a different designer or a new technique. The rules are you must cast on that month and then finish the pair of socks by the end of the next month. So far I have managed to complete all of the challenges. This month I have left it very late but I still want to enter. February's challenge was a new-to-you type of heel or a sock designed By Eunny Jang. I originally intended to knit a pair of Jang's entrelac socks but right now I just want to knit something simple and mindless.

This afternoon I cast on for a simple pair of toe up socks with an afterthought heel. I have never tried knitting the heel at the end so it satisfies the requirements of the challenge. It also seems appropriate to do an afterthought heel on what are essentially afterthought socks. It also lets me use up my one skein of orange Koigu. When I spotted this skein in the yarn store I couldn't leave it behind even though there was just the one. Last time I knit Koigu socks I had two skeins which worked out well but made me worry about how much of a pair of socks I could manage with only half the yarn.

My solution is to knit toe up and to add contrasting toes, heels and ribbing at the top. This way I don't have to worry about running out of yarn. I think the contrasting heels should also work well with the afterthought construction. In the picture the line of brown is where the heel will go when I'm done:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Overdue is done and over

Today I tucked in the last of the ends on the Overdue hat. In the next day or two I will write up my modifications and corrections and post them here. Until then I'm just happy to have to hat finished and wearable. I think we might even get some more cold weather suitable for winter hat wear.

The hat actually had some wear over the weekend. We made a trip to Toronto, in part to celebrate my birthday. It was a really nice trip. We walked, we ate, we stuck our noses in interesting stores. Remarkably I didn't buy any yarn despite going into two yarn stores. I did buy some more bobbins for my spinning wheel and a niddy noddy. I want to spin myself a sweater's worth of yarn and now I have the necessary hardware. Hurray.

Now I need to get back to knitting my scarf and maybe casting on for a pair of socks.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tying up loose ends

I need to stop saying I will post about the scarf when all I am doing is working on the Overdue hat. At least all of that work has resulted in a nearly finished item. I finally got the top worked out to my satisfaction and the final ear flaps attached. All that remains is to tuck in ends. I'll post all of the details on Monday, unless I get caught up in my scarf knitting and choose to post about that instead. I'm sure the suspense is unendurable.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ups and downs

Work continues on the Overdue hat. I have added ear flaps and despite needing to unravel them so they will fit better and unraveling and reknitting the crown of the hat I am actually feeling pretty upbeat and optimistic about the hat. It is no longer a hat of doom. It helps knowing that all I have to do is reknit ear flaps and crown and that otherwise the hat fits. Soon the Overdue hat will be done and all I will have to do is tuck in dozens of yarn ends. Yippee. Sisyphus could take a break from the stone and knit this hat.

Since the hat is on a bit of a roll (roll up, roll down, roll up, roll down) the scarf has been set aside. I've added maybe an inch to its length. As promised, though, here is the stitch pattern I am following:

Cast on an even number of stitches (40 in my case) and knit one row. The rest follows a four row repeat.
Row 1: K1, *insert the right needle into the the stitch in the row below the next stitch, K1* repeat between * and end K2
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: K2, repeat between * from Row 1
Row 4: Knit

It is incredibly easy once you get the hang of knitting into the row below every second stitch. I'll take some pictures on how its done and post them (maybe tomorrow).

Monday, February 18, 2008

A scarf and a hat

The Overdue hat now looks like a hat. I still need to add the ear flaps and tuck in ends but the end is in sight. I might still need to rip out the top and reknit it so the hat is a big longer but I'm hoping that the ear flaps will save me from having to do this.

If I'm not that enthusiastic about this project it is not because of the pattern (though the errors don't help) but rather because of my poor track record with hats. Aside from the hats I knit for Christmas this year I have never had a hat turn out just right. My favorite green and white mosaic hat only fit properly after I cut off the ribbing and reknit with the yarn doubled. I knit a hat last year for Ken but then had to rip it all out because it was too tight. The second time I knit it it also came out too tight, though I still hope to salvage it through blocking and perhaps reknitting the ribbing. I followed this hat up with another in a similar design which is disastrously huge and has very odd decreases at the top.

Knitting hats, especially for Ken, gives me a sense of certain doom. You can imagine how I feel about a densely cabled hat with less stretch than a normal knit cap. Doomed, doomed. I knit on regardless.

As a break from the Overdue hat of doom I started knitting myself a can't fail scarf of softness. Four years ago, I knit my two best friends scarfs using a brioche stitch pattern I found in a 1940s pattern for a snood. I used a couple of skeins of beautiful Manos for each and they turned out lovely and thick. Since I was looking for something easy as a break from the hat I decided to make myself a scarf using the same stitch pattern but different yarn. When I was in Montreal for Christmas this year I bought myself a beautiful skein of red Handmaiden Casbah (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon). When I bought it I was thinking of making a scarf of some sort out of it. I didn't realize until I checked Ravelry that it was meant as a sock yarn. This knowledge didn't change my mind about using it for a scarf, though, because it is just too lovely and soft to use for socks. So now I am knitting it up with some of my handspun Shetland to make sure I get a long-enough scarf. Next post I'll share the stitch pattern.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ongoing hat

Work continues on the Overdue hat. I am trying to work out the decreases for the top. I'm not sure whether to try my own thing or follow the pattern. I've started with my own system but I might rip back. I'll wait until tomorrow to decide, though.

Once this is finished it should be incredibly warm and pretty windproof. All the cables take time but result in a nice thick fabric. The colour does result in more than a few ends to tuck in, though.

I'd like to get this finished but I am sorely tempted to cast on for another hat or a pair of socks just for a change. Cabling every stitch every four rows can start to get to a person.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quick update

I managed to fill my spindle up with dark BFL singles tonight. I think I was spinning a bit too fine for the weight of my spindle because I had problems with breakage. To avoid these problems and for reasons of speed I did the plying on my wheel. The Turkish spindle produces a center pull ball of yarn so the natural thing to do was make a two play working off of the inside and outside of the ball. I'm quite happy with the resulting yarn:

I also managed to do a bit of knitting in the last couple of days. Ken's overdue hat is a couple of inches along. It is a Ragamuffin hat from the Loop-d-loop book upsized for a large adult head. The allover cable really makes for a dense material which should be nice on cold days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No knitting

Strangely enough I haven't cast anything new on since I finished the sweater and socks. I have done a gauge swatch for an overdue hat but that is about it for knitting. In the next couple of days I will probably cast on for the hat and pick out my next pair of socks.

For now I've been spending my time doing some spinning. It has been too long since I sat down with my wheel or spindle. To compensate I started spinning up some white Blue-faced Leicester on the Lendrum and some brown Blue-faced Leicester on my Turkish spindle. I'm planning to make the white into a nice three ply to use for some socks. I'm planning to make the brown into a two ply but I don't have any real plans for it once its done.

I'm really trying to get more practice spinning. The eventual plan is to spin eough for a sweater. Until then I'll keep practicing with hat and sock quantities.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Red knee socks

Thanks for the nice comments on the sweater. I washed it in hot water with some dish detergent, rinced it well in hot water and then let it soak in some Eucalan. It is now fuzzier and softer. I think this sweater will be getting lots of wear during what is left of our winter.
red knee highs
And now the promised red socks. I knit these to use up the two skeins of Shibui Sock yarn I still had as well as the leftovers from the Mingus socks. They are knit toe up and I increased two stitches every three rounds eight times for the calf shaping. I also decreased two stitches every two rounds four times at the top of the calf. They are finished off with a picot edge which I knit out of some Fortissima socka yarn in a similar colour. I would have done the picot edging with the Shibui but I ran out and needed to improvise.
red knee high
I think these may be my best fitting pair of knee highs so far. With all of the shaping I'm hoping they will stay up and not end up pooling at my ankles as some of my other socks have a tendency to do.

The colour in the photos would have been better if I had taken the pictures in daylight. There are two reasons I didn't take the pictures outside today. First it was chilly and windy and not the sort of day that encourages posing for sock pictures. Second and more important, I washed them and needed to wait until they were dry. Even speeding things along using the oven on a low setting they were not suitable to be worn until after dark.

Red knee socks

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Done and almost done

The sweater, she is finished. This was a fun knit, though a bit hard on the hands. I'm hoping that a good soak in wool wash will slightly soften the yarn. If the sweater is anything like the hat I knit out of Lopi, washing will certainly make the yarn fuzzier.

Pattern: Fonn. I made the smallest size which gives me a little bit of negative ease over the bust.

Yarn: A ball and a bit of 'ash heather' Lett-Lopi and 8 balls of 'black heather' Lett-Lopi. I think there must be a mistake in the pattern because it claims that all but the largest size should take 10 balls of the black.

Modifications: I made a couple of changes to improve fit. First, I added a couple short rows to the back half because people have longer backs than fronts. I also changed the position of the sleeves slightly so that the back has 75 and the front has 69 stitches(instead of both having 72).

Having an odd number of stitches along the front and back let me center the motif perfectly. I am a stickler for symmetry in these kinds of things and it annoyed me that as written the motifs would be off center by one stitch. Yes, I can be a bit obsessive, why do you ask?

I also added a motif around the edge of the sleeve so that the yoke wasn't getting all of the attention.

In other knits, I have almost finished my red socks. In fact, had I not chosen to play scrabble this evening they would be done by now. I need to knit the picot edge on one and tuck in the ends but that is it. Tomorrow I will post a picture of them, finished and ready to go.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Progressively smaller

I've so far completed a motif and a half on the yoke and two rounds of decreases. I love projects that start to speed up as you near the end.

The weather is certainly Lopi sweater appropriate. I was very glad to have a small car with a kick ass heater today. I went out and we had a half inch of ice on the windows in places. The heater did its job and I was able to clean off the car in about 10 minutes. Other people on the road hadn't been so thorough though. Gah! I guess visibility isn't worth the time.

The ice and snow did make things pretty even if it made the driving kind of nuts. I really love how snowy branches look in the sunlight.

I also love my new digital camera. Wonderful Ken, last seen on the blog in a scary balaclava, gave me a lovely little digital camera as an early birthday present. Up until now I've been using his nice but slightly clunky camera to take pictures for my blog. Now I have a camera of my own that fits into my pocket and has all kinds of crazy features. There may be a few more blog posts than usual simply as an excuse to take more pictures.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Working my fingers to the bone

Well not really but I have got a red spot on the finger I used for tension and I put a bandaid on my left index finger where I help push the yarn off the needle. I love the sweater in progress but lopi is not the easiest yarn to work with. A couple of times I have had to set the sweater down and switch to a sock. The up side is that I have now started the colour-work yoke.

I would have had more knit except that the first time I tried to knit the first row of the colour-work I missed a dropped stitch right at the beginning. I ripped back, picked up the stitch and redid the row. This was when I realized that the pattern was not symmetrically centered along the front of the sweater. I love symmetry and I didn't even think to check to see if the pattern was written with that in mind. Since the instructions call for an even number of stitches on both the front and back it was impossible to center the pattern. So I ripped back to where I had attached the sleeves and rearranged them so that there is an odd number of stitches along the front and back. Then I needed to figure out where I should start on the charts so that things would line up nicely.

But now all of that is done and I can start making progress again. That is if my fingers can survive the abuse.

Monday, February 4, 2008

As promised

It turns out that rather than being optimistic I was actually underestimating the length of the body so far. I said about 4 inches and it turns out to be closer to 10 inches. I'll blame my metric upbringing, though the fact that I was knitting away at this without looking may have played a roll.

I now need 15 cm more on the body until I can attach the sleeves. Hurray for mindless knitting. The sweater will probably get most of my attention at the pub knit night tonight.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Trust me

It is too late to take pictures but I want to keep up my every second day routine. My sweater now has two sleeves and about 4 inches of body. It may turn out that there is actually less than 4 inches since I haven't actually measured it and I tend to be optimistic about how fast I can knit. For example I thought that this sweater might have been done by the end of the weekend. Sorry to have let you all down. At least I'll have something to knit at knit night tomorrow.

With all the sweater focus my poor plain socks haven't grown since I last posted. So I guess I'll have a couple of things to work at knit night.

I'll post some photos tomorrow when I have more time and more light.

p.s. You can rest easy. My mother helpfully pointed out that I misspelled 'stockinette' in my last post. I would go back and fix it but then she wouldn't have anything to bug me about. I kid of course. She will always find something to bug me about.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The difference a day makes

I'm posting ahead of schedule because I need to share my excitement over knitting the sleeves for my sweater. I lucked out and got gauge with the recommended needles so I didn't have to rip anything out and with this thick yarn and loose gauge the work is just flying off the needles. If I can keep up this pace I might have a whole sweater by the end of the weekend or early next week.

I love the challenge of knitting that I get with fancy lace and complex colour work but I also like simple stocking-net that can be knit without much thought or attention. I really love being able to knit things to wear be they socks or sweaters. There is something exhilarating about trying on a sleeve and knowing that it will soon become clothing.

While I'm on the topic of knit sweaters I thought I'd share the following. Today I was wearing my green sweater that I put wooden buttons on to keep the pockets closed. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog or not but my grey cat thinks the wooden buttons are like cat nip. I have to dry and store this sweater up out of her reach otherwise she rolls on it and chews the buttons. Today she hoped up onto my lap and started her button love even though the sweater was being worn.
She sniffed it,

and rubbed her face on it,

and even chewed on it.

I like these buttons enough that I don't want to change them, but I think I have shortened the lifespan of the sweater because of them.