Sunday, August 30, 2009

Venus II

A second version of the Venus, on request. This one is made from Peace Fleece Worsted, which I had left over from a project years back. Isn't it a perfect stone colour?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tidelines Socks

Well, I made you wait a while to see these. I finished them before I made my Venus, but she outshone them, and I just had to blog about her before I showed off the socks. Today, however, the Tidelines can shine.

This is a very easy and pretty pattern from Anne Hanson, who makes loads of gorgeous patterns, both socks and otherwise. You should check out her shop (unless you don't want to spend any money, and then you shouldn't.) It's a totally simple six-row repeat, which makes this lovely lacy three-dimensional design. I knew it would look fantastic in the variegated purples of this Socks that Rock lightweight. Her pattern suggests STR mediumweight, for the record, but I prefer the lighter, and found that it worked perfectly.

I actually made the medium size of this sock, which is pretty unheard of, since my feet are both long and wide. Well, technically, I started and ended on the medium, but elected to make a longer heel flap (i.e. the large size) and did gusset decreases to get back to the medium size for the foot and toe. If I did it again, I would probably start on the large for the leg and then go down to the medium for the foot. The leg is snug enough that it stretches the pattern a bit more, leaving the scallops a bit flat for my liking.

To sum up: very cute, lovely lacy socks that make one more dent in my sock yarn stash.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's Tips

Tip 1: if you accidentally knit about 8 1/2 inches further on the back piece of your cardigan than you should have (because you read the line that said "knit until piece is 15 inches" but not the line before that, which talked about all the increases to do along the way) and you have to frog it back Eight and One Half Inches, then you should take a separate circular needle and slide it through one side of each stitch in the row you want to rip back to. Then you can pull out your working needle and just rip the knitting back without having to worry about picking up live stitches on that final row, when you're done. You can just pull the yarn until it stops, and the whole row will be sitting nicely on that second needle. For the second needle, I usually use one of a gauge slightly smaller than the working needle, just so it is easier to slide it through all those knitted stitches.

Tip 2: if you turn your tragedy into a helpful tip on your blog, you will feel slightly better about it.

p.s. I have spent all day knitting my way back to where I ended off at the pub last night. A few more inches and my cardigan back will be finished.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This ball of Noro Silk Garden is one I bought years ago, back when I was more likely to buy a single ball of yarn just because of its beauty. (Nowadays I try to only buy what I have an actual project in mind for, which still doesn't slow down my yarn buying, but at least I feel very justified about it.)

When I saw the pattern for the lovely (and yarny) Venus de Merino (ravelry), I couldn't resist it. It is based, of course, on an ancient statue, the Venus of Willendorf.
A pretty easy pattern, it's written to be knit in the style of magic loop. I was tempted to knit it with double points, my personal preference, but I decided it would be more trouble than it was worth. The original pattern also has some hair, but I sort of like her as she is.

The shaping is all in the pattern, with increases and decreases, but you also do some stitching on the finished form, after it is stuffed, to delineate them a bit more. It worked pretty well, I think. She is lovely and slightly lopsided, like all women.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Other Stuff

So the vendors at Sock Summit were not only selling amazing yarn, but also great project bags (as well as other sundries.) I would say the most popular ones -- or at least the ones I saw people carrying around the most -- were ones that were shaped like a pyramid, with a loop at the top for hanging it on your wrist, to walk while you knit.

I walked by that booth many times, but never saw one made of fabric that I loved; in addition, I figured it would be ridiculously easy (and cheaper) to make one of my own. I was right. I found this little ladybug fabric when I went to buy curtain fabric for my house. In no time flat, I have an adorable little project bag for sock knitting. I even made an improvement (in my opinion) by adding a little gold grommet on the side, to let the yarn feed through there, rather than through the top of the zipper, where it might catch. I have gotten some funny comments on it -- it looks like a giant teabag, for example, or a piece of pizza. But it works like a charm and I like it.

What socks am I knitting inside that magic pyramid? I am working on some Tidelines socks, with some Socks that Rock that I had sitting around, and I really like the way the colours and the pattern are working together. It is just as good as I envisioned it would be. Maybe it's a little busy, but I think they look fantastic. This photo is outdated, by the way: I am past the heel and working on gusset decreases -- on the second sock.

Next up is this single ball of Noro Silk Garden that I dug out of the stash. Oh what will it become, you ask? You will never guess. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

When Obsessions Collide: Magic

In case you didn't see it on WhipUp, there is a great art exhibit in FL right now, called Stitch Wars, which brings together two of my obsessions: crafts and the Holy Trilogy.

Check out the fantastic stuff on Flickr.

I really have to motivate myself to start doing more amazing things.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zauberball socks

This is the final installment in my Why-Haven't-I-Already-Blogged-This series.

The Zauberball yarn was a big hit at Sock Summit, and as I mentioned previously, I went up to it every day and stroked it and held it and carried it around with me and imagined the fantastic socks it would make, and then put it down. On the last day I finally bought it. There were two colourway possibilities I was choosing between (of the several available) -- one colourway was a rainbow, which is a personal fave of mine, and the other was this one, called Royal. The combo of orange, red, hot pink, plum, and deep violet was intoxicating and in the end I couldn't resist it. I wound it into two contrasting balls by hand, in Portland, and then rewound it with the ball winder when I got home. The contrasting balls were obviously needed for me to make these fantastic stripes, by alternating every two rows.

You can see in the photos that the yarn leaves a fuzzy little halo around the sock. Toasty. The halo is probably because the yarn is only a single ply. Being a single ply is also the reason that the knitting tends to bias. With a simple striped sock, bias isn't a problem, really. If I was making a sweater, I might be frustrated right now.

Details: this is (again) the Universal Toe-Up Sock from Knitty. I used a short-row toe and heel (as usual) and only changed things up at the cuff, where I did a garter stitch, to keep the stripes clean and not get the little breaks in colour you get with purls in ribbing. I bound off with EZ's sewn bind-off, which kept things nice and stretchy. These socks knit up ridiculously fast, on US2s: I had virtually completed the first sock within 24 hours of starting it, a week ago. Going back to work slowed me down a bit, and the pair ended up taking me about five days. Go go stockingette!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flower Garden Pullover

This pullover from the Spring 2009 issue of Verena Knitting caught my eye immediately. When my birthday rolled around, I used one of my gift certificates to stock up on some amazing aran-weight cotton in a nice light blue. The knitting was a joy, since the yarn is so soft and fluffy, and went quickly, because of the heavier weight of the yarn.

I followed the pattern as written, for all of the shaping, and I'm pretty happy with the fit. The place that I began to change things was when I started the finishing. The pattern is written to have a knitted picot hem at the cuffs, where you begin knitting the sleeves. Then the neck and bottom hem have a crocheted picot hem, added after the pieces are seamed. I wasn't sure why the pattern writers would use two different picot styles on one sweater, but I gave it a try. The crochet picots looked nothing like the sleeve picots, so I ripped it back and decided instead to pick up stitches along the neck and bottom edge to knit a picot hem like the other one. The one at the neck edge is shallower, and the one at the bottom hem is deeper. Alas, I forgot EZ's rule about making hems 10% less stitches than the main knitting, so they bell out a bit from the body of the sweater.

I am not completely happy with the sleeves, which is partly my own fault. They could be an inch longer, but shame on me for not measuring more accurately before I began the shaping of the sleeve cap. The part where they bell out could also stand to be a bit wider and a bit longer. But now I'm just nitpicking.

I had finished the knitting and seaming on this for weeks before I finally picked it up again for the final touches. When it came to adding the embroidery, I also changed it up. The original had a nice garden scene of flowers and leaves across the belly of the sweater. It was the embroidery that made this sweater so unique and eye-catching. I didn't think I need to attract attention to my belly, however, so I decided to make some little flowers along one shoulder of the sweater, instead.

When the weather cools off a bit, I will have more of a chance to pull this one out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weaving Humour

First episode of the new season of Flight of the Conchords includes this little gem:

Later in the episode, you see the finished trousers -- classic.

In Season Socks

I finished knitting a really cute pair of stripey stockingette socks last night, and realized that I haven't even gotten around to blogging the pair that I finished at Sock Summit!

These ones are the fourth pair for this years Rockin Sock Club from Blue Moon. When I wound this one up to make a gauge swatch, I discovered that it made a great little plaid pattern! Love it. The colourway was inspired by summer gardens, vegetables, heirloom tomatoes... I find that the red is more pink than I have ever seen a tomato, so I think of it more as a garden of melons: watermelon pink, green honeydew, orangey cantaloupes.

The pattern was for a cute little pair of anklets. Not my favourite socks to knit, since there is a sort of woven stitch (just a panel of traveling stitches, really) on the front and back of the leg that made for some really tight knitting. There were enough traveling stitches crowded together that the row would get so tight. I tried to compensate by knitting the rows between a bit looser, but I could only do so much, really.

There is also a lot of ribbing, which makes a sock so nice and snug, but gets to be really tedious after a while. On both socks, I was so thankful to get to the stockingette at the toe. Okay, and the turned purl hem at the cuff isn't the nicest cuff for a girl with cankles. 'Nuff said.

I did get a little bit of pooling, much worse on one sock than on the other. One sock has a big yellow blob on the side, and a darker plum/evergreen blob on the other. I am not terribly bothered by it, though -- I still think they are a pretty cute pair.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sock Summit Recap

You know how it feels when you find a person who understands your passion about something -- who doesn't think it's frivolous or weird or laughable, but nods excitedly and gesticulates animatedly and confirms that your passion is worth every minute, every blog post, every hand cramp? Now imagine being surrounded by thousands of them.

It's not often that I have felt surrounded by people who accept and understand me, on that level -- I can really only think of two other periods in my life like that, and I look back on both of them with a lot of fondness. Now I can add a third.

There was a real feeling through the weekend, of talented women together, supporting and lifting each other (not that there weren't also some men, both those who were knitters and those who were husbands-in-tow.) When I saw this plaque in the Convention Center, I had to take a photo because I felt it really encapsulated something -- the inscription reads: "This country fosters a kind of woman who never seems to bother about who she is supposed to be, mainly because there is always work, and getting it done in a level-eyed way is what counts most. Getting the work done, on horseback or not, and dicing their troubles into jokes. These women wind up looking 50 when they are 37 and 53 when they are 70. It’s as though they wear down to what counts and just last there, fine and staring the devil in the eye every morning."

It was a weird weekend, being in the presence of so many of the kniterati -- the first time I was face to face with Stephanie (coming out of the ladies' room) I was too shocked and excited to even pull together a proper smile, so I think I grimaced at her. By the end of the weekend, I'd seen her so many times (she was walking around amongst the rest of us like a Normal Person!) that I just shook my head endearingly at the fans that clustered around her for a photo. Myself, I am too Canadian (or too shy or too awestruck) to go up to the knitting celebrities that I was within arm's reach of, like Stephanie or Amy Singer or Lucy Neatby or Jessica or Casey and Jess or Cirilia (who wanted a photo of my bag!) or Sandi Wiseheart (but yeah, I will drop some names.)

As I mentioned, I didn't make it into any classes (which I hear were fantastic, alas) but I spent copious amounts of time wandering around the Marketplace, just soaking it in, and buying many many skeins of yarn.

Some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Koi Koi, which I've wanted for yonks

More BMFA STR in Crabby McHappypants (yeah, the name won me over as much as the colourway)

Madelinetosh Sock in Lichen is the first find I made there that I just couldn't walk away from. I think this one is destined to be a mobius wrap (On a side note, I was entranced once by another yarn called Lichen -- it was the first 'expensive' yarn I ever bought myself)

Hazel Knits superwash fingering in Strawberry Lemonade (the photo doesn't do this one justice at all -- I saw it the first day in the Marketplace, and the colour haunted my thoughts all night until I finally went back and bought it the next day)

A sock kit from the Sanguine Gryphon, who are completely awesome and I have stalked online for ages but never before bought anything from (extra points if you know which kit this is)

Some handpainted merino silk also from the Sanguine Gryphon (admittedly I promised myself not to buy more fiber until I have spun what I already have, but how can I resist something so perfect and shiny (and called Transmogrification, to boot))

Some Louet Gems Fingering in Cloud Grey and Caribbean, for a double-knit hat in the current Vogue Knitting

Some wonderfully variegated Zauberball which I have already separated into two balls for socks -- I came back to this and held it and stroked it every day, until finally weakening enough to buy it on the last day of the Marketplace

The Luminary Panel was also amazing -- we were all so awestruck by the whole group of knitting crones (and I mean that in the respectful sense, before you get all wound up) that our emotions were incredibly heightened. I shed more than one tear just hearing them speak, and I'm sure we all cherished every moment of it. It was something you can't explain to most people -- at one point, Meg (swoon) Swansen told a story of a funny incident in one of her classes. Apparently Barbara Walker was in there, auditing the class, and when Meg mentioned the SSK stitch, she turned to Barbara, and asked if she had indeed been the inventor of the stitch. Barbara nodded quietly, and the other instructor of Meg's class just burst into tears. That's how amazing it was to be in the presence of these women. But how do you explain to someone that the woman who replaced SKP with SSK made you cry in public, just being near her?

As for the rest of Portland, it was still pretty great -- my hotel was totally posh and very friendly and was a great place to crash, exhausted, every night. Powell's Books was awesome (obviously) and I scored a couple of fantastic books there. I even made a little stop, at the last possible minute before I checked out and went to the airport, at the Portland Doc Marten store, where I scored this truly wicked pair of Docs.

Cupcakes are so last year. How about some freshly made donuts from Coco Donuts (right next to my train stop for the hotel) -- this one even looks like a skein of yarn (or am I just drunk on fiber?)

It was an amazing weekend and I am still in recovery. There is so much more to tell (like setting a Guinness World Record.) I finished some socks (duh) while I was there, but I will show you those next time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hitting the Road

I am a homebody. We all know it. Once in a while, though, I like to take a little vacation by myself and check out somewhere new. Last year I went to Portland for a week, and really felt at home there. When it was announced ages ago that a couple of crazy yarnies were planning a Sock Summit there, I was on board right away and planned my vacation around it. So this year, I am going to spend a week in Portland with a couple of thousand of my new knitterly friends.

Long story short, I didn't get into any classes, but I figure the cash savings from that will serve me well in the Marketplace. I certainly will be going to the Luminary Panel to hear the wisdom of the masters.

I'm off to the airport in a few hours. I have packed minimal books (since I will be at Powell's, where I will stock up) and minimal knitting (since the Marketplace will provide me with much more than I need.) My suitcase is pretty empty, actually. It still remains to be seen how full it will be on the return trip...

See you next week!