Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pie Filling Socks

My sister was destashing some sock yarn, a while back, and offered me a couple of skeins.  As soon as I picked this one up, I stopped in my tracks and said "this has cashmere in it."  Obviously I took it, even though it's not exactly a colourway I was drawn to.  Cashmere socks are to be coveted, even if they aren't as beautiful as you'd like.

I knit it up as part of my variegated-yarn-into-stockingette-socks project (which really needs a catchier title) but upon knitting the socks, I realized that it was going to stripe rather than be a randomly variegated yarn.  I took a second look at the ball band (Dye Hard Fibre Arts Serendipitous Sock) and realized that it actually said "self-striping" right on it.  Der.

The colours grew on me as I was knitting them, since they are each, in and of themselves, really quite lovely.  As a trio, I wasn't sure initially, but after a while I began to see them as a group.  And I also began to think of pie filling: blueberry, apple, and strawberry rhubarb.  Yum.

They're a bit thick for this time of year - I ended up knitting them one needle size up from my usual sock gauge, which confused me enough that I actually did a different stitch circumference for the second one (of course I didn't realize this until I put the two heels in at the end, and noticed the numbers didn't match.)  Fortunately they feel pretty much the same on my feet, despite the difference.

Besides, they are soft and warm cashmere, so I'd wear them anyway.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good Mood Socks

When I was a kid, I never went to summer camp.  I would always read stories about kids who went, or watch movies where it was such a universal experience, but I never got to go, myself.  Fast forward a couple of decades (okay, a few) and a favourite online yarn shop of mine, The Loopy Ewe, is making me feel better about the whole thing.  Every summer they put on a virtual summer camp for knitters, which means no mosquitos, no bears, and lots of wool!

There will be a challenge for each of the three months of camp - June's challenge was to knit a project using one skein, in a yarn you haven't used before.  After searching through their yarns for a while, I chose some String Theory Bluestocking, which is a beautifully dyed BFL wool.  I've knit with BFL once before, in Sweet Georgia's yarns, and I loved the slightly haloey glossy wool, so I was looking forward to doing it again.  String Theory has some amazing colours, and the one I chose is called Nectar, a blend of pinks with a bit of coral and lavender mixed in.

The pattern I matched it up with was a pair of socks that I've had in my queue for quite a while, Hunter Hammersen's Mood socks (ravelry) from her book Silk Road Socks.  I was surprised to see that the pattern was only written in one size, so I altered it a bit, adding 8 stitches to the circumference to upsize it, and then casting on and knitting the leg with a larger needle than the foot.

In the end, the socks are amazingly beautiful, and I am really happy with this project.  Next month, a spectacular lace shawl in some dazzling Madelinetosh!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Name Draft Towels

I love weaving for many reasons, but one of the cool things about it is that it's pretty easy for even a beginner to make up original designs and play around to make something new and interesting.

One fun way for a weaver to personalize a design is something called a name draft.  You can use a name or phrase of some sort and assign blocks to each letter (i.e. some of the letters of the alphabet will end up a blue block, some will end up a white block in this example.)  Then when you repeat the letter blocks across the width and length of the piece, it will hopefully make a pleasing design.

The story for these particular towels starts with a friend of mine that I've known for a couple of decades (yes, I'm that old.)  When I reconnected with him two months ago, he was in a real transition period in his life, just settling into a new place and starting anew.  I thought it might be a nice idea to make him a little housewarming gift, and wrote up a draft for these towels.  It took a while to get the appropriate yarn in the mail, but once I did, I started them right away.  A bit of a hiatus while I was away in Jasper, and while I was working on more time-sensitive stuff, meant that they didn't get finished as quickly as they could have.  I had them off the loom a few days ago, and hand sewed the hems down.  Tonight I finally managed to get them washed and ironed and photographed so they're ready to go.  By the time he gets them, he'll be well-settled into his new place, but hopefully he'll like them, nevertheless.

The towels are woven from soft and strong Aurora Earth, an unmercerized cotton from Cotton Clouds, and I really enjoyed weaving with it.  It's not shiny and smooth like a mercerized cotton would be, but it's really tough, and the colours are saturated.  I'm pretty pleased with the end result, and I'm glad to have a bit of leftover yarn, so I can use these colours to play again.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Porcellana Cowl

I saw this cute little cowl pattern on KnitPicks a while ago, and thought it looked like a quick and easy little lace project.  Their Shadow lace yarn is a lovely heathered wool, so I ordered some in a nice deep red, to try it out.

Of course I can never let things be simple, so I decided to swap out one of the lace motifs (a zig zag that I didn't really like) for a different lace motif (a sort of leaf or petal design) and rewrote the chart by hand with that substitution.  It turned out to be a bit of a complicated pattern, with one motif containing lace on both sides (i.e. no rest rows on the wrong side) and several different motifs across the width, so I never managed to memorize certain parts of it and needed to refer to the chart the whole time.

After listening to about a million podcasts on my brand spankin' new iPad, I discovered that I'd finished the knitting, so last night I blocked it out on the living room floor, and today I grafted the two ends together to make a lovely long cowl.

The website suggests that you can wear it long "for a chic look" but I didn't feel particularly chic with it like that.  Maybe it's just me.  Of course, one little twist and doubling it up makes a pretty and featherweight cowl that sits like a cloud around the neck and looks lovely, too.

That's one more in the "completed" column.