Men's Blue Worksocks FO

Pattern: Basic Top Down Work Socks
Yarn: S.R. Kertzer On Your Toes Bamboo
Colour # ON240763 (Blue and Black)
Needles: 3.75 mmdpns
Start: July 2008 Finish: January 28, 2009

They don't get more "basic" than this - 2 1/2" ribbing on 66 CO stitches. At 5 1/2" from CO edge,  k2tog every 11th stitch all the way around to reduce bulk for ankle. Plain stockinette gusset heel, rounded toe, 3 needle bind off after turning seam to inside. (Should you care, gory details of all the issues I had with these are here)

Here's the plain knitted heels...
And they are sure as thick and cozy as they look...
I suspect they'll see more action as house/cool weather cottage socks than they will be used as true work socks.  I still have one ball of this yarn - purchased with Number One Son in mind - he has now tried on his Dad's pair and explained he prefers "artificial" socks (by that he means nylon or other synthetic fibre rather than wool) so maybe, once I've sufficiently forgotten the experience of making these, I'll try a pair for myself someday.  Maybe with the yarn held double or even triple I could make slippers!

Anyway as I was taking the shots of the socks I glanced out the window. The view to the right...
And to the left...
Quite a riot of colour eh? In the midst of our very snowy winter, these worksocks were standing in the way of my feeling free to move on to the rosy pink of the "Clover" coloured Felted Tweed that I went on and on about yesterday so I'm thrilled they are out of the way.  That being said though, the fact I perservered and the socks are now done rather than just shuttled off to "hibernation" feels very good in deed!

(BTW check this out - I just saw it in the "Life" section of our national newspaper "The Globe and Mail")

In the Pink

Swatching went swimmingly well last night...
I cast on for the first sleeve of Tangled Yoke early this morning so I could work on it on the subway en route to and from a Dentist appointment first thing today. In "Knitting Without Tears" Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests starting the sleeves at the same time as the body of a sweater because, she reasons, sleeves are portable and well suited to sitting in a "basket in the kitchen" so you can knit a bit on them whenever you might have a few minutes to do so. Having finally finished the blue work socks, I'll need a portable project, just as I did this morning for the subway ride. (I admit I also love the image of the "basket in the kitchen"!) 

Despite a heavy snowfall yesterday I'm feeling very lighthearted and "Springy" and I can only put it down to to the lovely "Clover" colourway of this yarn. Its funny that choosing a colourway has been the thing holding this project up for the past couple of years - now I can't imagine how I ever thought any other colour would do!
I dressed without reaching for a heavy sweater for the first time in weeks (despite the fact its minus 12C, overcast and with light flurries swirling around in the air.) Then I grabbed a pink scarf to top it off. I must be highly suggestible or knitting with this colour at the moment is just what the doctor ordered.

The stockinette of the swatch is just as great as I had read it would be - very flat yet quite woolly.
The garter rib stitch that makes up the cuffs and lower third of the body of the sweater is both a nice change from basic ribbing as well as being a bit quicker because every other row is straight knitting.

This is my first project by Eunny -it feels like exploring genius as I work through her directions, highlighting and colour coding the chart and marking up the pattern into the kind of idiot proof version I'll need to stay on track. 

I swatched using the new Addi's - another first for me.  I can't say I noticed a difference from my Aeros but I'm assuming the difference will be more evident once I'm working back and forth across the 226 stitches of the single piece that makes up the back and both fronts of this cardigan.

Right now it really is the yarn and its colour that I'm most taken with - in fact it not only influenced my clothing choice for today but also got me noticing the violets in the front window are following suit! It also started me thinking about Valentine's Day. Maybe this year I'll shift from all red all the time to adding a bit of pink into the mix. Speaking of Valentine's Day - I love the take on it the Purl Bee is featuring on their blog right now! 
Thanks for dropping by - have a great day!


Mission Accomplished

As planned, yesterday morning I called my LYS to see if they had Felted Tweed in the "Clover" colourway.  They didn't have it and told me to try Romni. Romni is way downtown and then a good way west relative to where we live. But after enduring the red scarf nightmare on Saturday I was counting on getting that Felted Tweed yesterday whatever happened. Plus there was snow in the forecast every day through the end of the week which would make travelling there that much more messy and potentially time consuming so after calling Romni to make sure they had the yarn and having them put the last 9 balls of "Clover" aside for me,  I thought, I'd just do as I was told and "go to Romni" right then and there. (Darling Daughter strongly supported the idea as it coincided with her needing to go downtown to school. There's nothing like door to door service!)

Once on west Queen Street West I put two and a half hours on my meter (a half hour more than I thought I'd need) and let my red stilettos carry me along dry sidewalks - this winter that's a bit of novelty - to the massive cavern of yarny potential that is Toronto's Romni Wools.

The next two and a half hours are a bit of a blur - yes I did need that extra half hour after all -every minute was a pleasure, made possible by the genuinely enthusiastic staff.

The first order of business, the Felted Tweed was already taken care of. Tightly wrapped and packaged with my name on it, right at the check out, I didn't have to spend a minute worrying about gathering that up. Slick!

Upon arriving I grabbed a basket and headed for the end wall of the store - 15 feet or more high and 30 something feet long, I think the whole end wall is solid worsted weight wool yarn. Cascade 220, Ella Rae Classic, Nature Spun Worsted, Shepherd Classic are the ones I remember being there. As for colours, surely there are dozens and dozens. I thought I needed to stay with one brand of yarn so I neatly pulled colours of Ella Rae. With this first round of selections made things weren't looking inspired in my basket.  Recognizing this I guess I let out a sigh but that's when the Cavalry came riding to my rescue. I don't know the woman's name who helped me but she must have spent over an hour pulling colours with me. Where I have enthusiasm she clearly had a knack for colour. In fact I can't even seem to capture the colours in a photo never mind select them! (Trust me though, they really do look fabulous together - I can't wait to start swatching!)
Checking the final selections outside in natural light, made the prospect of undertaking this knit, all that much more exciting.

But I wasn't even finished shopping! Next it was on to choosing something for "Vivian" - pure wool with a bit of sheen and good stitch definition was what I was looking for - preferably in a colour with a bit of a modern feel. At first I had my eye on a steely blue but I've been knitting with so much grey and blue for the last while I really wanted something different. I also wanted "Vivian" to look good in spring and autumn. Ultimately I decided on 8 balls of Moda Dea Washable Wool in the "Maize" colourway. Its has a bit more grey and brown in it than this picture infers. It'll look great with everything but especially white, brown and chocolaty purples and plums.

After running that woman ragged, she had to excuse herself for lunch, I started working with other staff to organize some needles (I finally bought some Addi's) and notions and of course check that "Clover" in natural light to just absolutely finalize that choice.

Minutes later I was picking my way back along Queen Street with no less than 3 bags bulging with yarn and a big smile on my face - probably not a cool look on uber cool Queen!

I spent the evening cataloguing and organizing and scheming my plan of attack for my new cache of goodies while racing to finish the last sock with (now no more)gauge issues.

Thank you Romni for a lovely afternoon!


Chasing a Sunbeam

Pretext: (Number One Son and I were alone at home Saturday while he studied for exams - 'nothing better than for me to be minimally visible. As outlined below I took full advantage to remedy my current knitting woes)

I spent 8 straight hours on Saturday ripping the cast on, establishing rows and 6 rows of invisible herringbone stitch from the bottom edge of my cursed red scarf. This was in an effort to remedy the puckering edge the herringbone was causing. I also picked up all 457 stitches in order to cast off loosely - satisfactorily finishing that edge once and for all. 

This was the treatment prescribed by "Dr.Knit" at the DKC meeting last Thursday evening.

To do this though I had to chase the Saturday sun - literally dragging a chair around to remain in the ever moving sunbeam - just to be able to sort of make out what I was doing amongst all that alpaca fuzz. I also had to wear a pair of My Beloved's 2x magnification readers which meant the work had to be no more than about 6" from my face. To stabilize the piece while I worked it had to be in my lap so I had to lower my face to the work - adopting a position very similar to a well cooked shrimp.

Once in this charming position, I started by threading a piece of dental floss through the stitches I hoped to pick up. The fuzz consumed the floss. It was all but invisible - still it felt good to be "clipped into a life line" if things went badly.

I needn't have been worried about an uncontrolled unravelling. The fuzz on the alpaca worked better than Velcro for each and every stitch. Herringbone stitch is worked by carrying the yarn beside slipped stitches. As I tried to separate the carried yarn from its neighbouring stitches it held on with all its fuzzy might making it seem as though the yarn ran through rather than beside the stitches. If I could have seen anything this would have been evident but, as discussed, visuals were essentially unavailable.

Hence the 8 hour duration of the effort. I'd love to say that was all it took - it didn't. Three more hours Saturday evening - with readers and a strong, direct light, still, of course, in the shrimp position. I was so experienced by that point I was able to work despite limited visibility - or so I hoped. I may have snipped in a spot that should not have been cut. (I'm ignoring this for the moment, working at the other end of the scarf until I have the stomach to check it out further.)

How am I enduring this challenge? (that's right, I'm not even done yet!) What's getting me through is having the benefit of 
  • 6 hours on the ski hill yesterday 'talk about a change of scene - with the wind chill it was minus 23C! 
  • As outlined in a post last week, reworking my Ravelry queue gave me a new perspective and enthusiasm about future projects.
  • Finalizing in my mind, the yarn choice for the "Tangled Yoke Cardigan". Every time I've gone to get this yarn I've left empty handed, undecided on which colour of Felted Tweed to choose. I used some of those 8 hours of ripping to decide on the rosy pink "Clover" colourway. I also resolved to call my LYS tomorrow morning when they open and ask if they have it. I decided if they don't have it I'll call around until I find some then go get it. The prospect of finally casting on for this knit is compelling indeed!
  • Completing the yarn research for Ysolda's "Vivian" on Friday has casting on for that beauty much closer. On Saturday after mulling over the choices I decided I'm going to make it in Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran - probably in the "Sky Blue" colourway. Rialto has the same stitch and row count and recommended needle size as the Fyberspates Chunky "Scrumptious" the pattern calls for (I don't want to use a silk blend.) Rialto yields great stitch definition and it has a modern quality I like. Its got more yardage in 100 grams than the Fyberspates - (due to the absence of silk?) I don't know what, if anything that means in terms of suitability. I'll talk to the ladies at the LYS but if it'll work I'll get it while shopping for the Felted Tweed.
  • Discovering a sweater pattern that is nothing less than the missing link for my project list was the real excitement driving me on through hours of nasty frogging. The sweater is unimaginatively called "Fair Isle Cardigan" from the the new issue of Vogue Knitting. Its a steeked, (on my list to try) seamless (on my list to further explore), yoke cardigan (on my list to wear with jeans) that calls for no less than 17 colours of yarn.  Now I've decided I want to work the "Zimmerman Four" (seamless hybrids) concurrently and in concert with my queue and it occurred to me it would be great to have a selection of colours available to play around with over the course of the Zimmerman Four project. There should be lots of ends left over for experimenting with from the yarn list for that cardigan. All my knitting should benefit from this combination of projects and materials - I hope without derailing the queue or my enthusiasm for it. I decided on Saturday that I'm going to work it in Cascade 220 because of the need for so many colours and that I'm going to try to make a trip to Romni this week to get them.
I guess I spent not only Saturday but much of last week chasing "sunshine" - literal and inspirational varieties both. In the end, it seems I managed to find it, stay in it and benefit from it too! I hope all is "sunny" with you (and especially your knitting) today - whatever your weather! (Keep your fingers crossed for me about that errant snipped stitch!)


Uptight? Type A? Surely you don't mean me!?

I'm feeling better after yesterday's queue-induced angst. I slashed and burned my Ravelry queue to 5 items.
  • 2 pairs of socks (Monkeys and Nancy Bush's Eesti Trail Hiking) for which I have purchased yarn
  • 2 cardigans, (Vivian and Tangled Yoke)which I need and both of which I love.
  • The Logan River Wrap which I would like and because I've never made a shawl or wrap. If I can't find yarn for it on my next yarn buying trip off to favourites it will go.
"Favourites" is where the rejected queued items were sent. This takes pressure off but keeps them handy if an opportunity/the mood arises.

Because having a stash gives me a rash - same issue as with a queue, I need to buy yarn just to keep knitting so going forward I was thinking about this and realized I generally buy yarn in batches, a few times a year... 
  • September I buy for the fall
  • January I buy for the winter
  • April (at the DKC Frolic)I pick up something for a spring project
  • In late June if I'm not still working on projects from earlier in the year I'll consider my summer project list and maybe buy more then.
I'm going to use my Ravelry queue in parallel with this pattern of buying and list there what I'm going to knit by the end of that season. I'll then revise the list in preparation for the beginning of each new season. I'm late into January without yet having made a shopping trip fit into the schedule but tonight I'm at the Purple Purl for the Knitty January Yarn Testing. I'll browse around and then also plan a trip to Romni et.al. in the next week or so. 

I'm going to further go through my favourites and look for some good candidates for summer knitting - projects suited to more time to knit but less interest in having a lap full of wool. (The mitered hearts were perfect in that regard last summer so that's the kind of thing I'm going for)

The "Zimmerman Four", as I am now going to think of EZ's collection of seamless sweater concepts, are going to be worked into the schedule between now and late next autumn - I need to think about yarn choice and embellishments.- I'll do that gradually in coming weeks. There'll be lots of mindless stockinette knitting in the round on those which I can always squeeze into car knitting and the like.

I know this might all sound ridiculous and at odds with enjoying a hobby but if I don't feel satisfied by what I'm doing and instead just feel frustrated by what I can't get to than the enjoyment is gone for me. In my dotage I've come to understand and accept that's just how my mind works. This exercise has proven that belief once again because as I said, I feel better already!


I was afraid this would happen...

That's why I put off diving into Elizabeth Zimmerman's work before now.

I suspected, just by what I've read from others who have become Zimmerman devotees (Brooklyn Tweed is the best example of this) that she might prompt an entire knitting agenda in addition to the robust queue I'm already enjoying. Sure enough, she suggests trying to master her seamless techniques by knitting all four (Seamless Yoke, Seamless Raglan, Seamless Saddle-Shouldered, Seamless Hybrid) in order. She reasons...
"If you diligently follow instructions when making the first one, the other three should be duck soup."
I love the idea of "duck soup" which I think of as being able to do something with such complete understanding it becomes essentially effortless and easily adaptable to any notion of design or practicality. I've experienced it with cooking and baking and gardening and grudgingly, sewing so I know it takes real time and energy. Just think what a struggle using computers used to be before we all came to see them as "duck soup"? Once integrated into our lives these things do enrich them and our experiences hence I like the idea of coming to understand how sweater construction really works and feel her approach might be quite a rewarding exercise.

I would have to set that little queue of knits (4 sweaters is no joke!) against the another aspect of my recent reading up  - all the gorgeous patterns that are available, with more coming out every day - not the least of which are Jared Flood's Cabled Gloves (Vogue Knitting Winter edition)! My plan to dedicate January to "Vivian" from the latest Twist Collection has evaporated as I've slogged along with my outstanding WIP's and the longer my queue on Ravelry sits unchanged the more it feels like a sentence rather than a list of real possibilities.

What's a keen knitter to do beyond learning how to stretch the time/space continuum to make every day yield three times the knitting hours?

All the angst aside I do enjoy her writing.  I love the cryptic style without embellishment or apology for an unorthodox point of view. What confidence she wields as she waves established mitten knitters on past the section on mittens. If they're already doing them successfully, she reasons, there'll be nothing of value for her to add.

When I read her words regarding fitting a sweater... 
"The important thing is the body-width you want, and the best way to ascertain this is to lay your favourite sweater out flat and measure it."
I thought of all the posts I've lapped up from Interweave's Sandi Wiseheart on fit and ease and their terrific galleries that show the same knit on different body types. I pored over them last year, struggling to understand how big to make a sweater for myself. EZ kind of sums it all up in a sentence. 

I also had a bunch of other moments of sudden clarity as I recognized design elements I thought were utterly new but I found were concepts she wrote about in the 60's.  (Seamless and top down construction, fake side seams on seamless sweaters, afterthought heels - they're all in there - copyright 1971.)

So I love the book and its got me freaking out about time and queue - all just as I suspected - now to do something about it!

As a first step towards resolving this I'm going to show the red knitted curse scarf to the Knit Doctor at tonight's DKC meeting. Maybe she can tell me whether the wavy edges will relax with blocking or whether I should just bale on the project before I waste any more time with it. I'll work towards finishing the second sock with gauge issues on the subway to and from the meeting as well as during the lecture. I also need to reexamine my Ravelry queue and do some editing. Meanwhile I'll continue to think about undertaking the "Zimmerman Four" or more accurately how I can integrate them into my knitting life without having to bale on all my other knitting dreams for the next six months.


Setting today apart from the others...

Its NOT snowing...

So I DON'T have to shovel...
And there's a bit of an INNAUGURATION going on!

Once again it feels like the "Giant" to our south is in a very festive mood. To my American readers - enjoy your day!

I'm going to watch the festivities and do something else that will set today apart - tackle my long neglected mending pile!



How wonderful to read so much feedback on Celtic Tote! Thank you for taking the time! For those who expressed interest in someday making one of your own I think you should feel good about diving right in. There is a lot of bang for the buck in this pattern, the small amount of yarn it requires and the very serviceable item that results. (I should clarify though I think it seems more suited to use as a purse than as a true "tote").

As for Tiennie and her suggestion that I just send it off to her - I could but Tiennie's knitting output is the stuff of legends - the way she knits she could no doubt finish half a dozen multi coloured versions before a package from me would even arrive ;)! 

Can anyone tell me why most, but not all comments to my blog arrive with a no reply comment return address that prevents my replies from going anywhere? Not all the comments I receive are like this so I assumed it was a setting chosen by commenters themselves. I asked frequent commenters (thanks Brenda and Cheryl!) about the settings they choose when they comment to see if it was the case but they tell me it isn't. I've double checked the settings in my comment moderation specs but I cannot figure it out. Does anyone out there know if this is something I can fix and if so how to do it? 

In terms of moving on in the wake of the Celtic Tote to something to entertain between the tedium of red scarf and blue socks in stockinette I did manage to find a project! Its a Tilting Blocks scarf - I'm calling it my "DKC Diamond Tea Time Special".

I reference "Diamond" because they are the Canadian Distributors and the men who threw the yarn my way at the DKC Men Throwing Yarn meeting.
I have 270 yards of this very special silk and merino blend in a DK weight. The colourway -"Thistle" evokes its pale lavender colour but the prickly nature of a thistle is diametrically opposed to this yarn's smooth, almost liquid texture that also somehow features a slight haze of fluffiness. It reminds me of liquid mercury or plumber's flux. You really have to feel and see this yarn to understand it but the photo above at least captures the various features fairly accurately absent the tactile experience of course.

I reference DKC because of its role in making the yarn part of my stash but also because the Tilting Blocks scarf pattern I chose is featured in the January 2009 DKC Newsletter!

The pattern has a 12 row repeat on 37 stitches.  To knit 12 rows takes me the same amount of time as it does to have a hot mug of tea - hence the inclusion of tea time in the name. One cup, one repeat, a bit of knitting entertainment each day without dedicating evening knitting time to something other than red scarf and blue socks. Perfect!

BTW for those of you who don't belong to the DKC but have access to Toronto, a DKC meeting would be a great way to finish a yarny day in T.O. Anyone can attend (non members just pay a small entrance fee at the door). There are close to a couple of hundred knitters at most meetings so no one will ever know you're not a member (I attended meetings for a couple of years before I actually joined) Meetings always feature presentations to appeal to knitters and crocheters and sometimes there's also a bit of spinning or weaving thrown in!

The next meeting is this Wednesday - details on the DKC Website


Celtic Tote FO

Pattern: Celtic Tote - Jennifer Tallapeneni - IK Winter '07
Colour: "Ironside Grey" - Col#122 Lot#3108
Needles: 5.5mm Aero
Start: Oct. 27/08 Finish: Jan. 15/09
Modifications: Side finishing - details below

I like the knit, I like the finished bag. 

I anticipated the sides of the bag might droop under the weight of the bag's contents so I doubled the quantity of stiffener knit into the bottom of the bag. 
I also made the side seams more robust by sewing right sides together and then back stitching on either side in contrast yarn to match the detail around the cables. (Instead of just sewing wrong sides together as the pattern dictates) I also assumed the light fulling of the bag would make the fabric less soft but it made no discernible difference in that regard.

Whining about "droop" aside, I'm really happy with this piece. Its the size and shape I anticipated and the Ella Rae "Ironside Grey" yarn has a slight variation in its greyness that once knit in the reverse stocking stitch reminds me of woven wool suiting. 

I used about 450 yards of yarn - a wee bit over two balls.

Grafting the cabled handles to meet the tops of the cables on the bag beautifully infers the cables flow up and around the handles - a detail I find satisfying beyond reason so I highlighted it with contrast back stitching unlike in the magazine version which features no contrast stitching in this area.

The irregularity of the cable crossings adds to the character of the finished bag and so was well worth the additional attention paid to the chart to make it happen.
Finally we have the button. Do you believe I had this on hand? Just the one button - what else would it/could it have been used for? Like a good button should it ties the details of the rest of the piece together while also adding a bit of its own magic. The shiny black that encircles the centre was the determining factor in choosing to use black for the embroidery around the cables. (I was favouring blue until I saw the button in context.)

So that's it - once again a great experience with an IK pattern and with the Winter 2007 issue in particular (Bonbon and Gathered Pullovers both came out of that issue as well) I did print off the page of notes the designer blogged about the pattern a while after the publication date and I found them quite useful. There is a very small bit of errata right at the beginning (you'll have to scroll down to Celtic Tote) - its also on Ravelry.

Finishing this leaves my knitting basket quite bereft of interesting projects (Cursed Red Scarf and Socks with Gauge Issues somehow just don't excite me that much) 'Still on the hunt for yarn in which to make "Vivian" I might have to visit my micro stash and see if there's anything there to entertain me in the meantime. I hope you have a good weekend of happy knitting in the meantime!


The Celtic Tote is embroidered (in black!), assembled, ends sewn in, lightly fulled and is currently blocking, lined with a plastic bag stuffed with hand towels to force it into a nice squarish shape. After its dry all that's left is sewing on the button and perhaps the addition of lining. I need to check my fabric stash and see how the bag holds its shape once the stuffing is out then I'll decide.

I've been unexpectedly called up to bat in my brother's care today so I'm off and running. I've packed the cursed red scarf (from Tuesday's post)and the second sock with gauge issues (from Monday's post) - scroll down if you missed all the knitting joy earlier in the week! 

Have a great weekend everyone - happy knitting!  


Celtic Tote WIP

So all the bits are knit. Tonight I'll move on to embroidery and maybe assembly.

I am so taken with the structure around creating a stable bottom for the bag. After knitting the first side flat you double the stitches on the needle with a knit through the front and back on each stitch. Then on the next row you wrap each stitch by knitting one then slipping one with yarn in front.
Then from the one needle the stitches that are all in one line are divided evenly across four dpns and you start knitting in the round for a neat and tidy stockinette tube! (I'm also impressed that the bottom is not in reverse stockinette - its smoother and so will stay cleaner and will be less likely to snag on things.

When you reach the required length you slide in plastic canvas mesh as a stiffener. (I doubled mine, stitched together to reach the necessary length with one standard 69 cent sheet of canvas. (This will also increase the stiffness of the bottom - I may need to take hand weights along to the grocery store some day ;) ).
Then the end is closed (with the stiffener sealed invisibly inside - very neat!) by knitting stitches together off two parallel dpns (just as you would in a three needle bind off). Then up the second side you go, back on the flat again! Seamless and clever.

I've chosen the button from my teeny button stash for the closure at the top but I'm still pondering which accent colour to use in the embroidery around the Celtic cable.





I'll likely post about that tomorrow - in the meantime thanks for dropping by - have a great day!


This is what "a curse" looks like knit in red alpaca

For those of you who haven't been following along, this is the third try for this scarf which was cast on the first time last winter!

I've dropped a stitch and I can't pick it up. There's so much fuzz I can't make out what to do with it and every time I pick it back up to the needle it still looks wonkey.
I'm now in the 10,000 stitch range on this knit and its doing wonderful things for my fledgling continental technique. Serious, unbroken repetition is wicked for building muscle memory (and apparently also dropping stitches!)
An ominous waviness seems to be developing.  Look how straight the cast on edge is compared to the ribbing. If it persists through to completion it might give the whole thing a feminine flair that won't be really ideal on that charcoal grey coat of my 6'2" tall Beloved. I may have to adopt it bringing my hand knit red scarf collection to three. There are worse things but I was really looking forward to making something for him.

In contrast to this though the Celtic Tote is coming along very nicely. Its my first knit bag and the construction of the sides and base are new techniques for me. I hope to finish up the knitting tonight. Then it will be on to the shadow embroidery, assembly, and then the fulling. With a cold snap on the way it will be lovely indeed to be plunging and swishing the thing around in steaming hot water  - hopefully by week's end!



I bought this yarn imagining whipping up a couple of pairs of socks for My Beloved and Number One Son. At a heavier weight than the fingering yarn I'd been using for socks up to that point I had visions of making a pair in a few hours.  At the mid point in the summer I decided it was time for the "speed" socks, grabbed the yarn and the 3mm dpn's (Huge by sock standards right? These babies were practically going to knit themselves!), dutifully did a gauge swatch, cast on and in a flash produced this monster... 

It looks like it was knit for someone with cloven hooves rather than feet. The heel is huge, and cardboard stiff, the instep, miles too wide, I had to reduce it for about 4" to get down to something that would be suitable at the toe which then had to be done using a precipitous rate of decreases so the foot wouldn't be miles long. To really clearly illustrate, here it is beside one that was done for the same foot but this time correctly...
What went wrong? I followed the same "recipe" from my standard sockulator pattern AND I DID A GAUGE SWATCH! Isn't the whole world of knitting supposed to be a perfect yarny place as long as gauge swatches are dutifully produced and considered? Apparently not.

Apparently a knitter has to also consider the yarn in just slightly more robust terms than potential speed for finishing a garment. Who knew? (Clearly no one around here!) How bulky the yarn was should have been part of my equation - this is clearly illustrated in the heels. First the sock suitable only for someone with feet like Mr. Tumnus'. My standard slip stitch heel, done in this yarn is just too thick. A shoe can't contain it and it won't conform to the curves of a (human wearer's) heel.
Contrast this with the nicely behaved knit heel below. I should have also understood that with such a thick yarn, the extra bulk of the other heel to guard against wear is likely not as necessary either.
The most obvious thing I omitted to consider of course is ease. The lower sock in the shot above was the first I knit. I had a rib detail to keep the socks up. It worked with fingering weight yarn in the work socks I made last spring but the heavier yarn in this case has so much knitted bulk, even ribbing won't keep it tight to the leg just above the ankle. The whole lower leg, heel and ankle swim around. (There's a good inch of excess fabric hanging off the ankle pictured below in the progress shot I took back in August.)


The astute among you will notice that despite this clear evidence things were going sideways I was not deterred and kept on going. After all I had a gauge swatch AND and proven pattern, I was confident it would all work out in the end. Does the toe on the left below look like something that "worked out?" 
Well things may not have worked out for that sock but as you can see above I've now done one that has overcome the issues I had with that first one. And I've learned some great lessons from this little fiasco...
  • Yarns have their own attributes that can strongly influence garment shape and behaviour
  • Adding a little shaping to the leg of a sock - even a short sock isn't even a bit difficult. If I can bother to test for gauge I should take time to add a few stitches/reduce a bit to make the thing fit!
  • Perhaps most valuable is that I now know gauge swatches are not akin to "immunity" on TV show contests. They do not guard against any and all potential problems. I won't put blind faith in them to make all things right ever again.


What have I been doing all week? ('Cause clearly I haven't been posting!)

  • I've been getting back into working out. This of course eases stress (good) but then once stress-less I tend to be perpetually sleepy every time I sit still (bad - especially for knitting or working at the computer!) until I've worked out for long enough that the whole "exercise gives you more energy" thing kicks in ("good" once I get there but I know from experience it's going to take a couple more weeks to get to that point.)
  • I signed up for the January Knitty "yarn tasting" 
  • I mulled over taking a course at the upcoming DKC Workshop Weekend - I think I've decided on "Patrick Madden's Finishing School" - I hope there's still room!
  • One of my photos of the Big Cabled Pullover (Ravelry link) got selected to be the featured photo for the pattern on Ravelry. My Wawa Hat (Another Ravelry link) was similarly selected a couple of months ago (and my best commenter - Cheryl from "Acorn to Oak" also had her Crescendo Shawl chosen the other day and its not even finished yet - I think that's really something!)
  • I've reorganized my list of favourite knit blogs. I've moved those that have morphed from knit blogs to "I'm a designer-here's my latest pattern for you to buy blogs" out of my regular list to their own folder (Brooklyn Tweed, Eliphantom, Ysolda, Cosmicpluto etc. - and the list goes on!) It was getting me down hoping to see knit blogging but only finding ads. In a folder of their own I won't forget to visit them when I am actually looking for patterns. The corollary of this is I can now go hunting for more bona fide knit blogs to beef up my list again. Its great fun, kind of like shopping without having to spend anything! 
  • I've carried my knitting basket all over the house in the hopes of re-engaging with my projects. I've had a bit of success. One of the boring socks with gauge issues is actually ready for a toe - once its done of course, the gauge issues will obviously have been overcome and the second sock should fly to completion. Love or no love I will force it to fly to completion!
  • Celtic Tote is back on track, I'm about a third of the way up the second cabled panel.
  • I've been reading my new copy of Knitting Without Tears (I know, once again I'm probably the last in the world to do this.) I've had a million "aha" moments along the way. There's likely a post in that somewhere!
With My Beloved off on the first business trip of the year I plan to make serious progress on clearing up the WIP's this weekend.  Thanks for dropping by today. If you've been checking for posts all week, only to be disappointed, my apologies! I'll be back on track next week for sure!


Climbing Back on Track

These things were quite helpful yesterday in reorienting myself back onto track with my knitting basket full of frustrations.
  1. Comments - I'm not the only one who's feeling crabby! Brenda and Cheryl are too and Lorraine made me laugh with her description of how a family can "pig up" a house. Great expression! 
  2. Glenna's Post - a great reminder of how it feels to be so in love with a project you can't resist just looking at it every so often. 
  3. Researching alternate yarns for Vivian to focus on possibly feeling that kind of love again sometime soon.
  4. Last evening I forced myself to at least get a sock back on the rails from a thus far unblogged project I started during the summer at the cottage. I think of them as "the socks with gauge issues" because that's what they've been almost since their inception. If they behave maybe I'll post about them later in the week. Not being one of those people who loves fitness and its evil twin exercise - the power walk did not help. I acknowledge the practical need for such activity but I hate spending time getting it. Nonetheless I'm posting early today to allow me to head back out as soon as Number One Son is off to school. The scales need to tell a better story if I'm to sit and happily knit any time soon.
P.S. Yay Canadian Juniors! You showed the "pro's" how superior clean Hockey is to the current NHL version!


Warning: Bad Mood Alert

I usually sit down to post with content in my head.  A few minutes typing it in and I'm done. This morning I've got nothing but crabby negativity. Its a familiar occupational hazard - everyone goes back to school/work and the dreck they leave behind is akin to the remnants of a domestic tsunami.  I also visited the scales this morning for the first time since mid December and they aren't telling a very pretty tale either!

Usually knitting prospects entertain and distract me through this kind of stuff but all three of the rather less than engaging projects I've got going are having issues.  Boring, stupid, easily avoidable issues (miscounting, dropped stitches, gauge troubles. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.) These must be set right to make progress on anything again.

This is when casting on for something shiny and new and (thus far) free of issues is most compelling but I'm resolved to work next on Vivian and I won't get the pattern until I'm ready to cast on from a clean and clear knitting basket. So I've got to get these pieces done ASAP.

With the laundry is in progress, the cleaning has been started and with my bad attitude shoved into my runners I'm heading out to stomp around my little power walking route - scowl on face, grumbling as I go. I should make a lovely picture indeed!


Rethinking Henry

"Henry" and the yarn I bought just for him are not a good match. Henry's designer, Mareike Sattler, intended, in this men's scarf,  to show off a herringbone pattern that calls to mind weaving rather than knitting. Look how nicely it came out in my practice swatch!...
(I know its teeny tiny but at least I did one and the pattern was so easy I thought why beat this to death?) The scarf is an ingenious use of the stitch but the fuzz factor with this alpaca yarn yields less than no stitch definition at all.

I'm not giving up on him entirely, he deserves another run with suitable yarn.

But for almost a year now I've been dreaming about this deep maroon red Drops Alpaca with its flecks of black setting off My Beloved's Dark Charcoal Dress Coat and I won't give up on that vision. I'm finishing knitting the scarf, side to side, on the 457 stitches I've already worked for half a dozen rows. I've treated those first six rows as a foundation for a side to side rib pattern - two rows of stockinette to one reverse stockinette. I'll finish the other edge in the "invisible" herringbone this yarn is so flawless at creating.
That's my thought or "re thought" on Henry. (I think this is actually the third try - "re re thought"?)Maybe this way I can also get this yarn knit into a scarf before I'm at the anniversary of casting on for it the first time! My continental technique - especially for knit rows is now almost up to speed with my English style - I'm switching back and forth to avoid hand strain.