Knitterly Links

In my dark moments yesterday (before receiving so much wonderful encouragement in the comments - I can't thank everyone enough!) I tried to make myself feel a bit better with a little net surfing in search of happy knit/wool related goodies.

These are some of the better ones I found...

Leaves... from The Runcible Bin

Probably the nicest child's sweater I've ever seen knit at "Met 2 pinde" (just guessing here but I think that translates to "With 2 needles" The crochet vest FO just above the sweater is pretty fabulous too!).

Pure Retro Fun at "Handmade by Mother" - it'll take you back! (Scroll down a bit but also check out the sections search able by decade!)

And finally - entertainment from sheep that doesn't involve knitting? (This is too, too cool!)




Two sweaters, so close to completion, an irritatingly simple and to someone more experienced, obvious error in each, two evenings with no progress instead spent picking my way backwards over hundreds of stitches.

Very. Crabby.

In Tangled Yoke, every purl row is straight purling except row six, which contains two spots where there is a 5 in 1 increase. I purled that row without looking at the chart and then spent hours trying to figure out why I was short on stitches when I got to the centre of row 7. Then I finally moved the sticky note that I was using to track my place on the chart I saw the little %#$!!X*Z?!! "5-in-one" symbol. Trying not to focus on how annoying ripping back was, I absent mindedly removed a few - not all - but a few markers that were helping me check my work. Now I have to sort out (again) where I am (Other than in a very dark "place" that only other knitter's might imagine)

The Fair Isle has an issue related to the number of stitches and how it affects pattern as well. I only discovered this particular issue after several others were resolved that arose from my mixing medium sized sleeves with a large sized body. (Really, honestly, lets all admit we saw that one coming a mile away when I happily chirped that I could handle the discrepancy didn't we?!)

I do apologize for repeating myself but %#$!!X*Z?!!

So right now its sunny rather than the pouring rain the fore cast told us to expect so I'm going to go on my power walk during which I hope the sunshine will help me climb out of the knitting induced darkness enveloping my brain.

Thank you for enduring my rant!


Eye Candy Monday

Have you ever heard that old saying

Red Sky at Morning, Sailors take Warning
Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight

Between six and seven Saturday morning at the cottage - this was the show we enjoyed as the sun came up...
...And yes, rain did follow, so the saying held true (at least for us on Saturday!)
A busy beaver even swam past. (They swim faster than you think - hence the blurriness) This happens fairly often around dawn and dusk but so much more spectacular tinged in red! (I wonder if he noticed the red sunrise as he swam along after breakfasting on the young shoots along our shoreline.)
Some of the trees were matching the early morning sky - but its only about 30% changed - still a long way to go!
Something else is changing too - the hard won calluses from hours of water skiing, wake boarding and barefoot skiing over the summer are starting to be shed from Number One Son`s hands after just three weeks back inside at a school desk. No one values an education more than we do but after seeing the benefits a healthy summer on the water has on him, it seems such a shame to send him indoors to his studies.
And speaking of being indoors - the screened porch underwent its annual autumn makeover - its huge screened windows that let us be outside while also in are all covered with the tarps that protect the porch and its contents from the snow and wind over the winter.

I hope you had a grand autumnal weekend wherever you were, however your sunrise looked. Thanks for dropping by!


Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmerman FO

Pattern: Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmerman - Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: 3 Skeins, Sheldridge Farm Soft Touch DK
Needles: 5.5mm circular
Colour: Pussy Willow
Started: August 9, Finished: August 16, 2009
Modifications: None (or "All" given EZ's formulaic, "pithy" empowering directions

You may remember I raced to get his finished in time for my Mom's birthday in August but ran out of yarn with just a few inches of border left to knit. (Its made with yarn left over from a crocheted jacket kit that Mom made and I blocked and assembled for her. She gave me the remaining yarn so I thought it might be nice to make something for her out of it.) She has still yet to tackle the button band that remains to be done with the last part skein of yarn but being impatient to finish I scrounged a few long ends she had remaining in the bottom of her basket and got the border done without making a dent in that last skein.
It was great and addictive fun to knit - fast and portable. I opted for plain and simple sections of stockinette broken only at the "Pi" rounds (double the number of the previous section)

This is bordered with a narrow band delineated with K2 tog/YO "holes" - the centre of which has a single repeat of "Gull Pattern" in it. The border is EZ's recommended 8 garter stitch attached border.

So its done. I think she'll like it. It'll be great for wrapping around her shoulders in the evening. She is probably 6" shorter than me and much more petite so I'm keen to see how it looks on her. (It looks like an over sized serviette on me!) I'm hoping she may also be able to wear it with a pin or brooch over a sweater or jacket in the fall and spring.

I'm glad to have made this pattern - very glad to have had a bona fide recipient for it. Circular shawls aren't my thing - even over the back of the chesterfield. (I tried it on to get a photo of it being worn - it looks better over the railing!)

Thanks for dropping by!


One Thing Leads to Another

It all started with this yarn...

Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool. Undyed, lanolin intact, a fabulous shade of brown.- I got three skeins - a sweater's worth - on sale at Micheal's in August for less than $25!

I am fully in love with this yarn and keep imagining it in so many knits there's a real danger that left to my own devices I might well be covered head to toe in it by Christmas!

I'm sure there's a proper name for its construction but it feels as though its unspun - its not - but that's how it seems in the hand.

I love the way it looks in a cable - so rich - but also in garter - so rustic. (Frankly I love the way it looks in the ball with its brown paper ball band!)

I swatched it, for, among other things, this VK Winter '09 cardigan.
Then I came home with some Paton's Divine in "Chantilly Rose" that was donated to the DKC for knitters to make into and then donate Breast Cancer Scarves. (Hey Cheryl - count me in for your October contest! And to blogless Cherilyn - I'm going to have this ready for the next meeting - will you have yours?) Its the same yarn as I used for last year's Breast Cancer Scarf and I was having trouble imagining it in another design so I left it in view in the hopes of having inspiration jump out at me.

The Fisherman swatch was similarly lying around as I pondered its suitability for the planned Cardigan. While playing with the swatch doing just that I spied the pink yarn across the room and it occurred to me I might well put the cable from the cardi and the DKC yarn together to good effect for a scarf. Of course I'd need some garter stitch either side to counter rolling edges but I thought it was worth a try.
So last night, I have to admit, I "strayed" a bit, I left the Fair Isle Cardi - now all on one needle - on its own for the evening. The Pi Shawl will be blocked today so I thought casting on for something else seemed fitting!

After two repeats of the pattern I was convinced this yarn and pattern were a great match.

So something from the stash meets one from the queue which begets a WIP as the lastest FO hits the Aqua bath. Ahhhhh knitting!


So Far So Good

I'm ready to join sleeves to body tonight!
The idea that those ends will be cut away in the steeking is thrilling!

My floats are lovely and stretchy! (I think the two handed knitting is helping with this!)
I'm pairing the large body with the medium sleeves - playing around with gauge to make the body closer to the size I want without messing with the number of stitches and therefore the pattern.

I also decided to wait until I'm past (above) the bust area to work the decrease row that makes for the A line shaping described in the pattern. (Its very slight in any case so I don't think I will get into too much trouble - fingers crossed.) I'm aiming for zero ease across the bust.

All the way through all three pieces the row gauge and finished length has been right on - I'm clinging to this fact in the hopes it is indicative of a good fit once everything's finished!

I hope you had a good weekend and like I am, you are looking forward to a week of good knitting to come! Thanks for dropping by!


DKC Haul

Last night's meeting of Toronto's biggest knitting group (I estimate there were close to 200 in attendance) was a great kick off to the year...
  • There is a new, very entertaining President - Carol Adams
  • We heard that everyone's favourite Patrick Madden, recovering from Cancer treatment hopes to be back at the next meeting
  • The DKC website is now featuring photos
  • The Twist Collective Trunk Show will be at the October meeting!
Best of all (like everyone else at the meeting) I came home with free yarn!

Breast Cancer Scarf...

...coming right up (Cheryl count me in!)

In the large boxes of single balls available from the warehouse of one distribution company whose name now escapes me...I found some mercerized cotton (309 meters!)I think will be fabulous for a string bag...

And Kertzer had a ball for each person in attendance. I don't know what everyone else got but I scored this lovely 100% wool yarn called "Rejuvenation" in a colourway called "Shamrock". The letter that came with it said it is a rebranding of Sheppard Classic - a yarn I'm just discovering as I work on my fair isle cardi. I'm thinking about Shamrock mittens - I just have to consult with my new "friend" Elizabeth Z.
I managed to get an hour or so on my fair isle after I got home. I'm aiming to get one pattern per 24 hour period which should have me ready to join sleeves to body by early next week.

Thanks to ecouragement from reading Glenna's blog - I've embraced knitting two colours with two hands. (working on my continental technique paid off!) This combined with Ms. Zimmerman's dismissal of having to twist yarns in fair isle...

..If you want to pick up the new color from under the old one feel free. But it is not necessary; I will stick out my neck and say not even desirable.
...is making for an entirely pleasant knitting experience on this piece. Besides the fun of two handed knitting I've also got several different brands of worsted, working each for a few rows before being switched out as others take over, so this too is providing plenty of entertainment.

I guess to answer to Brenda's question from the comments yesterday, I'm enjoying this knit very much on all fronts!

Have a great day and thanks for taking the time to drop by!


Status Report

In the early days of my corporate life, writing status reports was an ongoing activity. The habit stuck with me so that I tend to think in terms of the status of things whenever things get busy and boy are things busy right now so...

Tangled Yoke - I'm having a bit of a block about this - my goal last month was to have it ready to wear to the first DKC (Downtown Knit Collective) meeting of the year tonight. Apparently moving it to various locations in the cottage in the hopes of piquing my interest at some point didn't work. I haven't knit a single stitch on it and I left it up north so there won't be any progress on it this week either.

Fair Isle Cardigan - With both sleeves finished last night I did the ribbing for the body and got it onto a circular needle with extra stitches organized for the steek.
I am very proud of this wee baby steek (my first!) there between the markers. I have read so many blog posts about cutting a steek I didn't recognize the amount of planning for one from the time you cast on. I understand now that I've done it. I opted to add two stitches between the purls either side of the steek in the pattern to give myself a bit more room to play around. I may well come to see this wasn't good idea but at least then I will have learned from the experience.

So now with steek established I've started into the first pattern. The huge mass of yarn and variety of needles sizes/lengths of circs (I'm using gauge and the A line shape to tweak the fit.) makes this a very messy project quite unsuitable for moving - even from one place to another in the house. :(

Merino Lace Socks - these were my leave at home project this summer - I've knit four rows on them - I guess that tells the tale of how much time I spent at home.

Berrocco Socks - I love the yarn in the ball but the obvious striping/colour and especially the random freckles of dark colour in the grey sections are not making me happy in sock format. (I did try this yarn for a scarf from VK Summer '09 but fully HALF the pattern was missing in the magazine - there's errata and then there's just ridiculous - I decided to bail on that project.) The feel of this yarn knit up is very reminiscent of something nasty and artificial. I'll finish them as a car/take along project. I will wear them even though I won't love them and I'm keen to make room in the stash.

Swatching - Ms Zimmerman's words are haunting me and making my knitting mind spin off in a million directions. Ms. Modesitt's words are enabling me to imagine any number of embellishments I might incorporate into Zimmermanesque projects. I'm channelling this into swatches and scheming to buy yarn to enable all this. 'Good thing I couldn't go to the KW Knitter's Fair - imagine the trouble I might have got myself into there!

I'm looking forward to the DKC meeting tonight - if you're in the Toronto area you should really consider going. Its a big room with more than a hundred knitters with a presentation by local yarn companies and distributors about the new yarns for autumn and winter 2009. I found DKC meetings to be much easier, more comfortable to drop in at than any LYS knit night/class or event I've ever attended. Here's a link to the info.

Thanks for dropping by today!

New Knitty

Have you seen this?

In the wake of my sock construction explorations this summer I can't wait to have time to give it a try!


Men's Alpaca Scarf FO

Aka "The Sad Tale of a Knitter Learning Simple Lessons the Hard(est) Way"

Pattern: End to End 2 Row Reverse Stocking Stitch Rib Scarf (My Own)
Start: February, 2007 Finish, September 9, 2009
Colour: Maroon Mix

Rather than get into the miserable story behind this FO lets instead start with the happy ending of this tale - a warm, soft, fingering weight alpaca scarf in simple 2 row reverse stocking stitch ribbing. Each long rib is finished with a 2" knotted fringe.

The scarf is 7"wide by 82" long (exluding fringe). The soft springy squishiness of the finished piece is too fabulous for words.

My Beloved, for whom I knit this scarf is very happy and so am I.

The End.

Seriously though, how can such a simple story with such a happy ending take soooo long to complete? Because while the end of the story may be simple, the bulk of the tale is simply awful.

This scarf started out as "Henry" , the yarn optimistically cast on twice with a circular I didn't bother to relax before using to cast on hundreds of stitches so I worked away on my Italian Tubular Cast On while fighting with the corkscrew shaped cord before trying it another time with a the circular relaxed in warm water before finally switching to a straight needle.

I discovered though that this was a bad cast on to choose whatever the needle because it really didn't work with my sticky, fine, yarn. To allow the long strand of yarn to be retracted from its tube after the cast on was complete, the thing had to be so loose it didn't look "tubey" it just looked sloppy.

On I went, ignoring the sloppy edge, convinced a good blocking would even things out but after a few very long rows I recognized that the alpaca fuzz rendered the herringbone stitch of the original pattern for this scarf completely invisible. So I decided that since the herringbone was impossible to make out I could just switch to a new pattern and leave the edge as is. It was many 450 stitch rows later that I recognized the stiff, unyielding herringbone couldn't remain beside the springy rev st st rib I chose without creating a magnificently evident puckering all along its length. (shot below illustrates ribbing released from the puckering influence)

By the time I realized this I had quite a few more hours invested in the new and improved section so I ran a life line of dental floss through the bottom row of rev st st and started ripping out from the tubular cast on edge upwards...did you just gasp? I know, how stupid could I be? After a couple of dozen hours at that (over quite a few months) I had a clean row of loops. I knit two ribs or four rows then cast off.

While I blissfully knit the last half of the scarf, practicing my continental technique along the way I committed these hard learned lessons to memory...
  • The more important the stitch definition, the more important the yarn chosen should be capable of revealing that definition. Yarn choice is critical to successful execution of a knit pattern.
  • If my needle looks like a Slinky toy, it is NOT ready to be used.
  • Use straights for casting on large numbers of stitches
  • Think carefully about all aspects of a particular yarn and design before choosing a method of Casting On
  • Ripping out from the cast on edge upwards is perhaps the most hideous exercise one can undertake with yarn and needles.
So really it didn't take 31 months to finish the scarf - it took 31 months to learn all these lessons.

The painful process of saving the yarn from my ignorant blunderings gave me many hours to resolve never to commit these mistakes again. (It never ceases to amaze me that "knowing" something is nowhere near sufficient to ensure I'll incorporate it into my actions - too often I need to have experienced the downside of failing to do things correctly in order to see how important doing it the right way really is.)

Well, with that knit and post off my chest and looking very much forward to seeing that scarf hanging on My Beloved's chest this winter, its onwards and upwards! I haven't decided what to take to the cottage with me to work on this weekend - I'm off for a long overdue haircut right now - thinking about the weekend's knitting will give me something to contemplate in the Subway.

I hope you have a good weekend knitting away on something you love. If you're at the Kitchener Knitter's Fair as so many local knitters will no doubt be - Enjoy!

Thanks for dropping by!


Relaxed Enough to Make Much Ado About Colour

One thing that always happens over the course of a summer up north is utter and complete relaxation. Each year as the kids grow up I wait to see if they'll embrace the simplicity of our cottage environment or whether they'll rebel and protest but they consistently fall into our cottage routine of early rising, fresh air, exercise and fresh food followed pretty naturally by being almost incapable of staying awake for more than an hour or two after dark. The fact the best, flattest water for water skiing is early morning also goes a long way toward encouraging this!

For a knitter who generally dedicates pre-breakfast and post dinner periods to yarny activities but who is also ski boat driver/"official" ski videographer/photographer this really eats into the knitting time.

I was prepared for that but was shocked that what ate into my knitting time most in the last three weeks wasn't skiing but swatching! I'm so goal oriented I doubt absent my late summer relaxed state of mind whether I would have dedicated as much time and energy to the exercise in the city as I did in the cottage context so I thought it prudent to take full advantage of my mood.

After spending the first few days finishing the issue-ridden red alpaca men's scarf I started a year and a half ago (FO shots tomorrow if its dry after today's blocking) I treated myself to diving into my multicoloured cardigan project for which lots of swatching was most certainly required.

I decided to use the sleeves as swatches since the sleeves and body of this knit are all done in the round, starting with the sleeves would give a solid idea of whether I was achieving gauge and knitting the pattern would be a great illustration of how the colours would work on the larger body of the sweater.

I knit much of the first sleeve three times, always getting gauge, but always having issues with the colour combinations. Still being open to yet more swatching I grabbed other colours of worsted wool I had with me and started subbing in differing shades trying to more closely approximate the effect of the sweater pictured with the pattern.
One evening (it was raining -no after dinner skiing that night) when I decided against yet another combination I said to Number One Son that at least with so many colours I might wrestle with the combinations but the sheer variety would make it impossible to make any really grievous errors, he immediately said "oh no - that number of colours makes it really easy to do it wrong".

That was a turning point. The next morning - up earlier than the skier (phew!) I decided I'd had enough of fiddling with gauge and pattern it was time to focus solely on colour.

The first thing I did was to make a little "shade card" of sorts using the holes in my needle gauge. I tried to duplicate the mood of the assembled colours pictured in the magazine.

Once I was happy with my new palette I knit a simple striped, flat swatch. When I'd finish a section but wasn't entirely happy I used duplicate stitch over a section of the offending colour. It allowed me to compare and consider my choices without all the fuss of picking back and reknitting or producing pattern. (You can see one such section in the middle of the swatch where I've stitched over brown (on the right) with red (on the left of the same row)) Once complete and to my satisfaction, it was an accurate reference to knit by. It took less time to produce than the sleeve swatches but still took two or three more day's work before I had the final colour selections and combinations.

I was interested to see that what I took out ...

...all goes very well together, just not in the context of this particular sweater. On the other hand what I substituted in...
are also fairly equal tones but being more muted than those I removed from the mix are more suited to the task at hand.

I'm so glad I took the opportunity to really work away at this - without being so relaxed I don't think I would have taken the same amount of care and time and I wouldn't have learned as much as I did. I think the finished product will likely be much the better for the effort.

The nasty corollary of all this relaxation is eventually I need to ramp up to cruising altitude back here in real life. I know from experience that takes a few weeks at least but I'm going to try to putting off starting that process until next week. In the meantime, maybe I'll swatch for something else tonight ;)!

Thanks for dropping by!


Re Entry

Without email or text messages, Internet, TV, newspapers or the like, we nonetheless "received" a "message" at the cottage yesterday that it was time to head back to the city...

But not before wringing every last minute out of the only week of summertime weather we enjoyed this year with one last ski after dinner...

All the details for relaunch this morning - clothes, food, supplies etc. were in place before I headed to the cottage three weeks ago but today I'll need to wrangle house, garden, pantry and laundry into sufficient order to make it to the end of the week.

I've got knitting on which to report in the coming days and of course I'm eager to visit my favourite blogs and catch up on what's been going on with everyone. I've got updates for my Ravelry notebook and good intentions to refresh my little blog and load up my Flicker slide show. I can't imagine a more exciting time of year to be a knitter that early autumn - can you?
Thanks for dropping by!