Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tantalizing Tanis Socks

As promised, a completed pair of socks.

From a pattern by Cat Bordhi: Bartholomew's Tantalizing Socks (ravelry), knit from Tanis Fiber Arts' blue label sock yarn.

The linen stitch pattern was a bit tiresome by the end of the second sock, though it really wasn't any more work than a basic ribbing would have been. It was actually a fairly simple sock to knit, especially because I had worked from Cat's book before, so I understood some aspects of the construction better, this time.

You might be able to tell from the photo that there is a vertical strip of linen stitch coming down from the cuff, that grows wider to cover the whole instep of the sock. Then you knit an underheel and a couple of inches of foot and then a star toe. I am happy to report that it's a nice tall sock, too. While I was knitting the first one I kept thinking I couldn't possibly have enough yarn for a sock this tall, with my long wide feet to consider. After I finished the first sock, I weighed the sock and the remaining yarn to reassure myself that I could finish both. I was happy to find that I did have enough, so I wouldn't have to have two-coloured toes. I think it may have to do with the linen stitch using less yarn than stockingette would have. Also, I think the yarn is perfect for this sort of linen stitch, as it blurs the shades together a bit and softens the variegation.

More socks to come...

Just a Tease

For those of you waiting to see photos of my finished cardigan, they're on the way, once I can coordinate my schedule with that of my photographer. Also on the way, photos of a finished pair of socks, a finished single sock, a finished set of woven facecloths, and a spontaneous wooly doubleknit potholder (EZ made me do it.)

Tonight, I have celebrated my recent spate of finished projects with a hot and satisfying Vanilla Rooibos Latte.

And by casting on a new pair of mittens. Ha.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Superb Soda Bread

The other day on foodgawker, I discovered a recipe for Irish soda bread inspired by Everything Bagels. Like the blogger who developed the recipe, I too love Everything bagels, and also feel guilty about them, since I know they aren't exactly healthy. Her recipe for Everything Bagel Soda Bread is healthy and filling and so delicious.

I made one yesterday and could barely wait until it was out of the oven before cutting into the fragrant loaf. The bread itself is dense and moist and hearty, like a bowl of oatmeal. The toppings are dried onion and garlic, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and rolled oats -- savory and yummy. A real stick-to-your-ribs sort of bread, which I am loving.

The recipe itself gives weights for the main ingredients, which necessitated me getting the kitchen scale down from the closet, but with a bit of fuss, it worked well. I kept track of volume measurements after I weighed them (cheating) so I might try it that way, next time I make it. Also, she begins with rolled oats and uses the food processor to grind them into flour, which allowed me to use another new toy of ours. I have to admit, though, that I'll probably just buy oat flour at the health food store and skip that step next time, too.

Great recipe, overall. I will definitely revisit it again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weaving a Sampler

Knitters often complain about making gauge swatches, about wasting time and effort and yarn to make something that isn't part of the project itself. Personally, I do make them, because I think they're an important precursor to a successful project. Weavers have a sort of counterpart to this, in the form of a sample. A sample is a piece of cloth that is woven purely as an educational exercise, or as an experiment to see how a particular design will work in a particular yarn or colour combination, or at a particular sett (the measurement of threads per inch.)

It's funny how I'll knit my gauge swatches without complaint, or even knit all manner of useless and silly items just for the heck of it, but when it comes to weaving, I can't imagine weaving something that is just a sample. I can't imagine spending the time on something that I couldn't use, after it was finished.

After I came up with a few little variations on reverse twill, I wanted to try them out, but not knowing how they would look, woven, I didn't want to commit to something as big as a set of towels. I came up with a compromise between sampling and practical weaving, and decided to make six little eight-inch squares of six different patterns, to see how they looked, and then use them for facecloths. These are woven from the leftover cottolin from the Sunshine towels, using the orange and red for a subtle contrast in the design. The dark red part between the designs will be the hem, and the yellow line marks the cutting line between two facecloths. As you can see, I just finished one that was a fancy looking reversing twill design, and moved on to a simple herringbone. I can't wait to start using them!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Almost a Cardigan

I put a lot of time into the striped cardigan this week, and it's paid off. I attached the sleeves to the body on Monday, and this morning finished the shaping and got ready to cut the steek. As you can see, it ended up looking a bit weird, since I did decreases for a v-neck on either side of the steek, on the upper half. That way I could keep knitting in the round and do all the shaping at once. The set-in sleeves worked really well and look good, although you can't really tell in the photo, since they are all squished together by the neckline shaping. I loved having a chance to customize where the seams sit, even if it meant doing a bit of math last night when I was planning it.

This afternoon I sat down at the sewing machine to stabilize the sides of the steek, so none of you have to worry about my sweater unravelling. Then I carefully cut it apart along the dotted line, and picked up a million stitches for the collar and buttonband. I should have the knitting done by tomorrow (dare I say tonight?) and then lay it out to block for a day or so.

The scariest thing about knitting with steeks isn't even the cutting; it's not being able to try the sweater on to see how it fits. You have to rely on your gauge swatch, your skills with a measuring tape, and knitting math. I'm not gonna lie -- I tried it on right after I cut the steek, since I was pretty nervous about it, and I'm really excited about the fit. Hopefully it will look even better with buttonbands and a good blocking.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting Somewhere

The problem with having so many projects on the go at once is that progress moves slowly, overall. I've been plugging away at several of them, but only really getting anywhere on one or two, this week.

I decided to pick up the socks and do some more work, since socks are fairly quick to finish, and I would be able to get one project off the roster. (Let's not point out, just now, how I always start knitting a new pair, having completed the old one.) As you can see, I have one completed sock toe, which means one completed sock. The linen stitch suits this yarn, I think, and the star toe is not my usual, but I like it, too. The second sock is moving along, as well, but this week, I have started putting more time into the stockingette cardigan.

I cast on some sleeves on Tuesday (two-at-a-time, to make sure they're matchy) and have been going around and around since then. Having stripes helps me to keep going, since I get that "just finish this stripe" feeling while I'm knitting. Then I get the "maybe one more stripe" feeling, after that. I am really loving this cardigan, and can't wait to see the finished project.