Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rushing Rivulet Socks

I was in a random little sock yarn club for a few months, a few years ago, where I got surprise skeins of yarn in the mail. I wasn't in love with this one when I got it, and it sat on my shelf for a long long time before I wound it up and tried using it for something. It didn't work in that pattern and I set it back on the shelf for another year or so. A little while ago, I decided to purge some of my yarn and this one topped the list. I picked it up to put it on the purge pile, and started looking at the beautiful colours, and stroking the soft texture, and decided to give it one more chance.

I finished these socks a few days ago, and have been wearing them happily. It was a pretty simple pattern, in Cat Bordhi's usual toe-up style. The stitch used was easy and quick -- two out of three rows were stockingette, which makes it trip along at a good pace, and the yarnovers in the third rows help to break up the stripes in the yarn, a bit, to make it a bit more random. I like this pattern for multicoloured yarns, and may use it again.

In this design (using the Riverbed architecture) the increases for the sock gusset all come from the bottom of the sole, which makes the fabric bias across the arch of the foot. They hug up against my foot in a very comfy way, but it doesn't really feel much different from an ordinary sock without that bias. I also added a few more rows to the heel flap, since I have a high instep, which also helps them to fit well.

The yarn itself is soft and cozy, too. My only complaint is that, through the course of knitting the two socks, there were about a dozen spots where one ply was broken and a new ply joined, which leaves lots of fuzzy little ends sticking out. I could have cut that piece out of the yarn each time and woven in ends, but then I really would have been swearing each time I came across a new one.

Overall a quick and comfortable sock that kept me occupied until the yarn for some of my new projects arrived. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vine Lattice Socks

It won't look like anything new, since I've made several posts about these socks, previously, but I just wanted to show off the finished product (and wear them, as an extra bonus) to prove that I eventually finished them.

I am still in the process of writing up the pattern -- it's hard to find the time, when I want to spend my time knitting, not writing about it. Once it's ready, I'll show that off, too.

Have a happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beer & Honey Bread

I am past the heel on my second sock, but today I took a few minutes out of my yarn-filled day to make some bread. I found this recipe for Honey Beer bread by way of foodgawker, and couldn't wait to try it. I just happen to have everything I need in the house, and it sounded like such an easy recipe.

Suffice to say it was super quick and really couldn't be easier. The recipe warns against overmixing, so I was very careful not to, which left it a bit lumpier on top than it could have been. Better safe than sorry, I say. I will mix it a bit more, next time. You may be wondering how it tastes. It is over half eaten, if that answers your question. I ate mine buttered, with a nice hunk of goat brie on the side. Bliss.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The New UFOs

I've had a handful of finished objects (aka FOs) recently, but don't believe for a minute that my total number of projects-on-the-go has decreased. I am nothing if not easily distracted, and I've cast on for another little project or two as the others came off the needles.

I finished my twisted cable socks, which left me with no socks on the needles. Shocking, you must agree. Although I am expecting a skein of yarn from Cookie A's sock club any day now, I knew that I wouldn't be able to wait patiently -- not when I have another quick and simple sock to knit up in the meantime.

I started another of Cat Bordhi's inventions, using her Riverbed architecture, which increases for the gusset along the bottom of the foot, causing the stitches to hug the arch of the foot along the bias. The photo shows the toe of the first sock, a few days ago. I am finished the first and almost to that point on the second sock, so you can tell it's a quickie.

I also finally cast on for my stranded alpaca mittens, when the temperature dropped again. I got past the first thumb gusset, but that's when I put them down to rededicate myself to the twisted-stitch socks. Now I have to rededicate myself to the stranded mittens.

So I'm back to having four (or five or so) UnFinished Objects to keep me busy. Ain't life grand?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Herringbone Scarf

My latest weaving project is a very simple herringbone scarf, woven in a beautiful heathered wool-silk blend. I have had the idea for this project in my head for a year or so, and after playing around with different twill weaves with the facecloths, I finally decided it was time to bring this scarf to the top of my weaving queue. I know I haven't even shown you the facecloths, yet, but that's just how quick it is to make a scarf, on the loom.

I actually got the yarn last Wednesday, and immediately measured out the warp and dressed the loom. I did a bit of sampling of the herringbone first, to establish how hard I needed to beat the weft in order to get a consistent 45 degree angle in the twill, then began to weave the delicious scarf itself. I wove it in a pretty leisurely manner for the next couple of days, when I wasn't at work. By Saturday night I had finished the weaving, then I twisted the fringe, gave it a bit of a soak with some mild agitation to full it ever-so-slightly, and hung it to dry overnight.

I think the photos capture, a bit, what a gorgeous heather this yarn (Jaggerspun Heather 2/8) is. The colour is darker, called Walnut, and closer to the finished photos, further down, but you can see in these lighter photos that there is some red in there, and copper, and some cooler shades. It was so enjoyable to watch the herringbone pattern grow, with each meditative pass of the shuttle, back and forth, in such a shiny soft and pretty yarn.

As the fabric grew, it took on a soft fuzzy halo, which didn't obscure the herringbone pattern, but felt lovely to the hand. I agitated the scarf against itself as I hand-washed it after it was complete, to build that halo a bit more, and also to full the threads together to make the fabric more stable. The yarn fluffed up a bit with washing, as well (especially, I think, because it came off a tightly-wound cone and not out of a more relaxed skein) and softened a bit more. The twisted fringe also softened and fluffed up. I trimmed the fuzzy ends, below the knots. I wonder if I should have made the fringe thinner -- twice as many at half the size? Perhaps that would make it look more professional, less rustic.

After hanging to dry, the scarf was soft and fine, but definitely warm. The fabric still has some give on the bias, and is so supple. You can see how it flops and folds, in the photo. Such a simple scarf, but classic and beautiful.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

B&B Cardigan

I suppose I've made you wait long enough for photos of my Black & Boysenberry cardigan, and since I finally managed to throw together a few half-decent photos, today is the day.

I'm sure I've laid out the details before, but in case you don't remember, I used EZ's percentage system to knit the cardigan entirely in the round on circulars, with a steek in the front that I cut to add the buttonbands at the end.

The sleeves were also knit in the round, two at a time, and then attached at the underarms so that I could continue knitting the whole thing in the round. I used a set-in sleeve shaping and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I think I had knit the shoulder width a bit small, according to my knitting gauge, but it blocked out pretty wide when it was wet, so it actually turned out just about perfect.

I also did v-neck shaping with a steek, which made the work-in-progress look pretty weird, but after cutting, the shape is just right. I am really happy with the depth and angle of the v-neck - it really pays to measure and get out the calculator and a pencil. With an eraser.

The sleeves lengthened a bit more than I anticipated, with blocking, as well, but they are still a comfortable length. I fold the cuff back once if I want to keep them out of trouble, but otherwise, they are cozily down around my hands, keeping me warm.

As you can see, I couldn't pick just one type of button at the fabric store. It's not entirely my fault - the store didn't have eight buttons of either of the styles I wanted. It was my mom who suggested that I get four different types of buttons and mix them up, two of each. I agreed that it was just enough to give the otherwise simple cardigan a bit of personality.

The only thing I don't love is the corner where the buttonband turns to the v-neck. It is a bit floppy - I guess I did too many increases there, since I was guesstimating how many I would need. I could try to reblock them flatter, but I'm not sure it would work, anyway, since they were pretty flat while blocking the first time. Having the top button a bit higher would probably help with that, too. Live and learn.

I'm super happy with this one - it is just the size I wanted, comfortable and warm. I've been dreaming of a wide-stripe v-neck since forever, it seems. (At least since then.) I finally have one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Second Sock

It's been a while since I've dedicated any time to the second pair of socks I designed. The first one languished for a while at the end of the leg, then for a while longer somewhere past the gusset. This weekend I released it from limbo and finished off the toe and cast on the second sock. At the coffeehouse last night, I picked them up where this photo leaves off, and got halfway through the leg (did it really take four hours to do one repeat of the pattern? Yikes.)

I have managed, so far, to distract myself from starting a new pair of socks by working on these ones, but I don't know how long I can keep it up. I think my brain knows I'm up to something. I do want to finish them, though, and get the pattern out there into the world, since I've just ordered yarn for my next design, which will be more of a departure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EZ Pot holder

The other night I was reading Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac in the bath (what, like you haven't?) and discovered a little project she devised to practice the technique of double-knitting. It's a little potholder from bulky wool, where the sides are made of garter stitch and the center is actually two layers of knitting, back to back, made at the same time. Such a quick little project, and me sitting on all that leftover wool from my cardigan... obviously I had to make it, and right then.

Out of the bath, I cast it on, double-stranded with the worsted weight Boysenberry wool, and in an hour or two, it was done: a thick little square of wool with two layers of stockingette making a little padding in the center. Very cool. And practical, since wool is such a great insulator and won't conduct heat like cotton, when wet. Not to mention it's totally inflammable.

Aren't sheep awesome?