Saturday, January 31, 2009

easily distracted again

... yes I'm easily distracted, again, by bags, and it seems a muddly post today, I missed posting on Wednesday, with starting back at work, and all, well the week seemed to just go. Missing Wednesday means there is a lot to catch up on. I've finished Bears Spring Thaw Socks, where the cat crashed the photo shoot. She just assumed the only reason any one would be sitting on the front stairs was to pet her. I've made some progress on Owls, only a few cm's away from the armscye (sorry no photo today), and then the sleeves, I've had mail, from far and near (and near), some Guernsey yarn, and my Vintage Purls summer 2009 sock club kit arrived - but apparently I can't blog the contents (Yum, Pretty, and Niiiiice) until those in more distant places get theirs. I'm so inspired by those I knit with on Thursdays, there is M who runs her yarn dye business, R who dyes and felts the most beautiful bags, J who spins and dyes and felts and knits ... and well I'm not sure there is anything J doesn't do, and now N who is developing a range of T's with attitude for the local market (as well as spinning and knitting the most adventurous and quirky stuff I've seen in person in a long time). Of course I have other inspirational knitters in my life, further away, who tempt me in new ways every week. My other distraction is the cast on sampler that I started on Saturday at the KSG (Knitters Study Group).

I've made some more project bags, this is a small sample of what is left after supplying many of the Thursday night knit crowd with some ... I'm not sure where I'm going with these. I like making them, and the fabrics are delicious, I made the first samples using fabric scraps I had around here, and M gifted me a sizable bag (or two) of fat quarters from her quilting stash - so I made more.

I even made tiny labels! The bags are all cotton, with a cotton lawn lining, and ribbon draw cords long enough to wear the bag as a yarn holder as you knit. The are just big enough to hold a center pull ball of yarn, a finished sock, and a sock on the go (or maybe tatting?). I can't decide what my favorite is, Pukeko or the yellow floral, or the more abstract designs. I think that is why I keep making them - the fabrics are so pretty.

I opened the back door one day last week to find this, a Small Packet, I know its a small packet because its clearly labeled a small packet, Royal Mail no less. I love the packaging ... just a sack, with my address in felt pen, and yet it got safely from one side of the globe to the other.

Inside was my 'Christmas treat', Bear gifted me a shopping spree, and I chose (amongst other things) some real Guernsey yarn from Wingham Wool Works. This is 5 ply, 465g per skein, I have no idea of the yardage, and it is so tightly spun that it is strangely elastic. Its deep navy, but traditionally Guernseys once knit, are said to wear so well that they are handed down generations .. and is meant to fade from dark to pale blue. This is for me, my 'big' project this year, after Owls I'm knitting a practice guernsey for Toby, then one for me. Given how far this yarn traveled, and how fast (barely a week from order to arrival), it was oddly less expensive than knitting a jersey in yarn from my LYS (mill factory shop excepted), including the shipping. I was alerted to this yarn via Ravelry, where an knitting buddy in the US with whom I had planned to knit-along-a-guernsey, bought some, having heard raving reviews of it on the Guernsey forum.

Spring Thaw Socks are finished, and Bear is very happy (amended Monday to add he wore them off to work today). These were knit from Wendy Sunbeam St. Ives 4 Ply Sock Wool in a dark green with warm rusty and pink flecks. The local LYS no longer sells it, and I miss it, its economical, and durable, and had some lovely basic shades that looked a lot more expensive than it was. I love the way the rib flows around the leaves - and they are symmetrical in the way the leaves are placed! Bear spent much time working out which looked better on the right foot (paw?), and which on the left foot (paw?)... should the leaves end on his outside ankle, or start there? Socks tarted 8th Jan, finished 30th Jan, using a 2.5mm needle, a size up for me but one size smaller than the pattern recommended - I just could not bring myself to knit sock yarn on 2.75mm.

And Yo-yo, who thinks the world revolves around her, despite being clearly at the bottom of the pecking chain in the family ... seemed to think we would only sit on the front step to pat her. In reality it was the sock is finished photos for Blog and Ravelry photo shoot with Bear, the socks new owner. I made 12 or so photos, and she was in 8 of them, of course in many she had her tail end towards the camera, so I have spared you those.

but finally Yo-yo left or maybe I pushed her, so the here you can see the sole, which has mid-sole gusset increases. These fit both Bear and I, but the toe is so square, and Bear has blunt feet, it seemed right to hand them over.

This is one of N's T'shirts, my dog ate my lace knitting, T's with attitude for local (and not so local knitters). I think she is planning to develop a range for quilters, and I know there are some for spinners. She hasn't yet got here catalog on line, but has her front page up, so if you are keen - book mark it and pop back in a few weeks. For now I'm one of the lucky ones test wearing her designs around town.

And last, my cast on sampler, 9 cast-ons, and I'm not done yet, I'm planning to work my way thru the Estonian and twined cast-ons. So far I have in order of being knit,Continental, Norwegian (seems to be also known as twisted German), Tubular 1.1 rib, Tubular 2.2 rib, Channel Island Cast on, I-cord cast on using yarn overs, Double start cast on (I used this one on Owls), I-cord cast on using m1, and Crochet chain over needle cast on. .... but there are many more. Click on the image for a closer look.

Take care
na Stella

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Whats up?

Not much, today its just more of the same, so there is my re-gauged Owls sweater which I'm knitting as a cardigan, the last Spring Thaw sock grows, I've got fiber on both spinning wheels, and I have yet more sock yarn to add to the drawer.

After a bit of a slow start with 4 attempts at casting on, I had some more frogging as I knit the increases for the waist, yes increases. I took the body off to the park to knit while cubs played, and I was distracted by a under 5 year old girl, who seemed intent on drowning her toddler brother. I kid you not, she was sitting on him, he was face down in the whale pool (to clarify here that is a shallow pool with a large concrete whale that spouts water not a pool with whales in it), and with both her hands was forcing his face into the water. Now it wasn't deep water, less than 4" or 10 cm ... and they were both screaming. As I came closer, I wondered where her parent or caregiver was and why they were not doing anything. I'm shy, and I don't like to butt in, but this was just wrong - so as I came along side the pair of them, I said that wasn't a nice thing to do, and if she was my kid she would be in big trouble. That interrupted her and the toddler got out of her grip and ran away. I tried to watch him, but needed to watched her instead, so see what she would do, who else she would attack, she just stomped and splashed around so I walked where I could see her and sat down with my knitting. Then the cubs took off and I had to keep track of them as well. I looked over to see where the little girl and her baby brother (seriously, he was in nappies) were but they had gone. I was a bit upset at the whole thing, that no parent had noticed, that no one else had noticed, and that she really had tried to force his head under water ... I mean where does a kid under the age of 5 learn to do that? People tell me my kids are good kids, nice kids, and you know as a mum some times I focus on all the little niggles and intolerance's they have for each other, so it seems like those compliments are mostly people being polite - but I'm pretty sure neither has ever tried to drown the other in a public paddling pool at a park.

So I sat and knit to calm myself ... and looked down at the markers I had placed to indicate my waist shaping points ... unlike the original Owls I'm shaping at the side front and the side back ... you know, cause my body is shaped there - not just at the back. And I knit away, smiling at the cubs as they sailed past on biked, or swung on swings, popped out of the concrete tunnels, sliding down the huge dinosaur slide or climbing the various climbing things - and merrily increased away every 4th row. Yes increased, a fact I discovered an hour latter when all the shaping rows had been done. Drat, at home I frogged and knit the shaping again, this time decreasing, as I do go in at the waist not out ... only to find that instead of decreasing at my 4 marked points, I had also decreased at one side seam. I've left in plain markers for the side seam with the intention of running a EZ fake seam down the side once the body is knit . So I've frogged and reknit the shaping again, this time it looks good ... 4 decrease points, just as planed, and i've worked half the increases I need. I'm spacing these out a little more, 6 rows plain between shaping rounds, not 3. I'm planning the last 2 increase rounds will be increases on the front only, you know cause I got things that bump out a little more there. I have a deep suspicion that I will knit much of this cardigan 3 times, based on what I've done so far.

And in the background I've been ignoring CB's Spring Thaw Sock, number 2, but it grows a little between Owl knitting sessions. I'm pleased that the decorative leaf element has been reversed on the second sock, something I had planned to do if the pattern didn't allow for it. Look, I'm already up to the second leaf of six.

And then there is the distraction from knitting, spinning, and with two wheels in use I'm spinning on both. There is a reason, The cool-as J admitted to us Monday night spinners that her beautiful unused Mike Keeves wheel had gone rusty (she spins on an older Mike Keeves wheel), not the whole wheel mind, just the spindle. We all replied that you had to 'use it or loose it', which made me realise I needed to spin on both wheels not just the Wing. The Wing is my Monday night spinning wheel, as it has a neat carry handle and fits in the car, so its the wheel I use the most. The Pipy seems more delicate - and is lower - so I can spin sitting on the couch on that one, which seems decadent. So I thought I'll use my recently negleted Pipy, this is a carded batt from Doe, blues and greens, alpaca, silk, merino with a bit of tencil.

I've got another batt, slighlty greener, and a little lighter to spin as well, that one is Alpaca, merino, silk and bamboo, and I'll ply the two together, unless I don't .. and I'm thinking BSJ - 240g, should be enough, I might even get a hood.

and on the Wing I've got some one elses stash, yes really, a knitter and spindle spinner packed up all her things, into her beetle car and left town to be closer to family. She divested of her surplus things, how I part envy her, and brought her stash to knit night to see if we wanted to buy things from her. I picked up two older Shona Schofield packets of super fine merino, this 17.8 micron dyed in a mid grey green with orange - unusual but fun to spin, the other just super fine micron merino in white, 16 microns.

And Morag, from Vintage Purls, returned from a sock workshop near Wellington, with yarn. She was based at Joy of Yarn, and knew I had recently ordered Noro from James there, but tempted me before she went. How did she tempt me, well she asked all quiet and calm if I wanted her to bring back any cashmere sock yarn. I didn't even know such stuff existed, but now I have a skein of it, and also knowing how I like to knit on little teeny tiny needles, she also brought back a skein of Slim Sock Yarn, both by The Knittery, both contain nylon so are proper sock yarns, and are labeled cheerfully handpainted in Victoria, Australia. How can one resist cheerfully hand painted yarn as pretty as this? The lighter is the colour way Midnight, and the deeper is Passionfruit.

Whew - there seems a lot more going on that when I sat down to blog - a whole lot, but it has been relaxing, the last few days of leave, so I have taken advantage of the warm weather, and taken time to relax.
I might even be ready for work come tuesday .. although they owe me two days ... so that could be thursday. Except - students start back in 2 weeks ... and there is lots to do.

take care
na stella

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

four false starts and Owls takeoff ... finally

Today, I've spun the last few skeins of gotland so that means there is enough for a sweater, and I've done swatching and cast on proper for Owls. But being me its not so simple ... and I had to share these little guys ... my Owls. I collected these some 15 years ago, mostly around central Otago, some local artist seemed to have them on sale in many places, and they appealed. Still do.

Spinning, this is what 500g of dark grey Gotland looks like spun up. 8 skeins, no idea what meterage I have, but I know that I didn't loose much as I spun this up. The prep was lovely. I have no plans yet, but 500g should get me a kids sweater or a working shawl that ties behind me, elbow length. I had intended to spin this finer, but it just wanted to be thicker, so its probably sport weight. I spun it all onto bobbins then plied it all at once, the theory is that you can ply the thin bobbins with the thicker ones and get more consistent yarn, not sure if thats how it worked for me this time, but it was a nice process to see the 8 bobbins full. Now what to spin next?

And swatching, I continued with the Owl swatch, in the round, and worked a second owl, who stayed and remained visible after the swatch was blocked. I cast on 40 stitches on 3.5mm needles and 2.2 ribbed for a bit, threw some cables into the rib, switched to 4mm needles, worked a bit more, threw in an Owl from the chart, worked a bit more plain, worked a bit in moss stitch before casting off. And look I ended up with a mitt! I think I need to knit me another one so I have a pair. I usually swatch in the round, but have never had a size that worked as a mitt before. All I need is to weave in the ends, evening up the cast off jog, and knit a mate. I added the cables because while 2.2 rib works in chunky yarn, in a finer weight I think that it can carry a little more interest, I think they compliment the cables used to create the owls nicely.

Which meant that I had enough info to begin my Owls sweater proper, knitting on 3.25mm and 4mm needles. I have stitches per inch, not 3.5, and in doing the maths I realised that Owls is designed with negative ease. Try it , multiply the guage by the inches and you get more than you are told to cast on by at least and inch or two. That means its made to be smaller than the body it fits - which is cool for some, but I like a little more ease in my knitwear, so I'm making mine body sized, with a bit more ease at the waist / hip to let me wear jeans and a belt. I found out the usual way that knits over belts make for lumpy looks. I'm using a variation of a long tail cast on, where you reverse the wrap around the thumb every second stitch. This is a good match for 2.2 rib, as the stitches end up grouped in pairs, see?

So last night I did my math, worked out I needed 182 stitches, which allows for a 3 stitch steek, and 22 repeats of K2 P2 C2 P2, with an additional K2 at the end ... and I cast on, and counted, and checked. And knit the first row with the increased for the cables ... and got the the 180 something stitch and was out by 5, so I cast on again, and checked again, and double checked,
and knit and cabled and got to the end of the round and was out again, by a different number of stitches. Argh!
So I cast on with markers every 8 stitches, and added the extra stitches for the last rib and the steek, and worked 5 rows, including 2 cable rows ... and stopped to admire my work before trotting of to bed ....

and realised that a knitter like me needed the cables to be symmetrical about the steek. So I frogged again. Count at that stage 732 stitches cast on, 66 cables created, all frogged and back on the ball of yarn with nothing on the needles.

This morning was a different story, the sun shone, I had spinning to go to, I had K's yummy muesli for breakfast, I dressed in 'My dog ate my lace knitting tee shirt', (my friend N is planning to sell these on line - I will let you know when her site is live), sat down, took a deep breath, and cast on for a fifth and final time, very carefully with stitch markers, and a large marker where I switch from left to right cables to right to left cables, and much checking and counting as I worked ... and its all looking good. My cables are symmetrical, my stitch count is good, my ribs are all in the right place, I didn't put a twist in my circular join ... so I'm happy.

I know I'm being a total groupie about the Owls, but I'm not the only one ... and its a cute sweater.
na Stella

Sunday, January 18, 2009


New Owl swatch, Quality yarns merino with 10% Alpaca Knops (whatever they are), in soft warm pale grey . . . there is pink, and blue, and teal, and green all hiding in this yarn.

I am playing with cables in the ribbing, part as a test to see if the cables that make the Owls will show up, but also because I like cabled ribbing. But I've not yet thought that thru, cause I'm making it as a cardigan and what happens with cables and the front band? I've started the cables right after the cast on row, by picking up the cable twist from behind the 2 ribbing stitches ... which means they don't splay the edes of the ribbing out - a trick Lorna taught me this year and that I have been waiting to use in something.

So I am much much happier ... this one will work.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Or is that swatch, swatch, knit ...?

is how it went this last few days, I swatched for two sweaters, first for TJB's gansey and second for Owls, and I knit more sock. Oh and I carded, and carded and carded.... and then I carded some more, and I am not yet done carding. But first, the Owls pattern is available, would you all understand if I just kept quiet about that and knit one for myself? But I can't, I'm so exited that I have to share.

So exited that when I knew a month or so ago that the pattern would be available I went off an bought yarn to knit Owls for me. I'm not a bulky girl, in terms of yarn, more a sport weight, or fingering weight kinda knitter, so I compromised and bought what is called DK or 8 ply (in the US heavy sport) planning to recalculate the numbers. The pattern was released yesterday, and last night I swatched many ways, I swatched the rib on 3.25mm needles, the stocking stitch on both 3.75mm and 4mm needles and I included one solitary Owl .... Oh I knit the swatch in Quality Yarns Merino Possum yarn, 60% merino, 40% Possum and its soft and fluffy and called bark - sounds just perfect dosn't it?
But it didn't work.
This is one camouflaged owl .... hiding in the swatch, and imagine after a wash and wear or two. In my defense, the Owl was a tad clearer last night, and fluffed up most magnificently when I washed the swatch to make it bloom and relax - bloom it did. And that is why I always swatch, and always wash the swatch ..... Cause otherwise your Owls can go to ground, never to be found again.

Just as well I'm still on leave, I've warned the cubs, tomorrow we are off to the Mill to find a better Owl yarn. Knowing me they just accepted that, they are knitters kids. Which means they are on holiday, but Mum says they have to be dressed and breakfasted and teeth brushed, shoes on and ready to go by 9am, and they accept that ... I'm looking for non fuzzy Owl coloured yarn. Wish me luck.

Of course I interrupted another swatch, to knit Owls, the swatch for Toby's gansey. I'm glad I'm swatching this, the initials are good but take up to much space so I'll arrange them closer together, and the traditional gansey patterns that I chose are not knitting up as I expected - so I've charted a second option and I'll set about swatching for that, if Owls don't distract me.

I spend yesterday also doing fiber'y things, I took all that Cria that I had washed, and I fluffed it up, picking out as much vegetable matter as I could. One of those jobs that whilst it is being done makes one wonder why this is my hobby. But once done, and there is 230g of pure white, soft, fluffy, teased, and clean Alpaca Cria all ready to card, makes me smile at the potential and the beauty of it. Today I spend nearly all the day weighing out cria, angora and Perendale fiber and blending batts thru my drum carder. I ended up with ten 50 gram batts, 500g in total. I've blended it so there is 10% Angora, 20% Alpaca, and 70% Wool, I'm basing that on the yarn used in these, Fresco Fair Isle Mitts by Pam Allen. I have a bit of a knitter spinner fantasy about spinning and dying yarn for Fair Isle work - and this is my attempt to fulfill that dream. Here in New Zealand there are numerous and mostly beautiful carded batts and rovings of merino and silk and alpaca ... but not much with other sheep breeds and other blends, or maybe I don't know where to look. So I'm making my own. These batts have been blended once thru the drum carder, and I've teased out and carded a second time 4 of the batts. I plan to re-blend them all by the end of the week - just to distribute the 3 fiber types more evenly.

So behind all the swatching and the carding the last sock plods on, I finished the first spring thaw sock a few days ago, and have managed to cast on and work the toe of the second (not shown today). And yes that is an end I have to weave in, you guys ... you spot everything.

so as I said, wish me luck ... in finding the perfect lightweight Owls yarn
I have promised the cubs a cafe lunch ... so they are not to deprived
take care

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sun smart cat

Today I discovered Yo-yo the cat, has some sun smarts, well she knows how to position herself in the sun and shade to maximize both heating and cooling effects. Look at this - expertly positioned with the heat absorbing back bits in the shade and the heat reflecting white bits in the sun. Of course this might not be a true sign of feline cleverness ... but I'm impressed.

Today I've also got some finished socks, Mini Froot Loops, finished, ends woven in, blocked and ready to go come cooler days, and yes I do have a drawer of sock yarn .... evidence supplied.

Poppy's mini Froot Loops, Started Jan 1st 2009, finished Jan 12th 2009. Yarn 100% merino, hand dyed Sunshine Yarns Soft Sock Yarn in the colour Sweet Rose. Knit on 2.25mm needles, and resized for 6 year old girl. I worked these toe up and centered the motif on the instep .. cause you all know I can't follow instructions, I have to change things. Sewn bind off at the top, a widdershins style gusset and heel flap, I do like her short row and increase heel cub. I'm told the gusset is 'generous', but its my usual increase by one quarter of the stitches, rather than a fixed distance gusset maths.

Then because the yarn was pure merino, I reinforced the toes and heels as I knit them by carrying along with the yarn a strand of white Wooly Nylon, usually used in overlocking. Then I turned the socks inside out and further ran in a extra yarn along the back of the heels. This is an idea that I've seen in a few places on vintage sock knitting techniques, including Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. You can just see on the heel how there are yarn threads that weave backwards and forwards across the heel flap ribs ... the idea is that it might extend the wear life of the sock by providing a layer that needs to wear out first. We will see, I'm not sure if the wear occurs most on the inside of the sock, in which case this will work, or from rubbing on shoes so the outside of the sock, in which case this won't do much.

The drawer of sock yarn, guilty as charged, following an anonymous comment or rather question 'did I really have a whole drawer of sock yarn?' - I have to answer why yes I do, and I suspect that this is less than many other knitters have. Technically I could knit 16 pairs of socks from this drawer (and possibly another 3-6 from some merino possum nylon sock weight I have on cones in another stashing place - but lets not go there now). Knitting and spinning with some one who hand dyes sock yarn and brings skeins along for feedback occassionally does not help, and so .....
I've signed up for this, her sock club so my drawer might be overflowing in a month or two as I add some yummy hand dyed skeins of sock yarn. But there is also yarn from the LYS, and some that was gifted in yarn exchanges or swops, and as gifts from fellow knitters and some that spoke to me while travelling ... When you knit socks, sock yarn just happens.

I'm still on leave, today Wednesday spinning was at my house, which was great, J brought her grandaugter K, and the kids just seemed to melt into the background and play nicely together for 5 hours. The three of them ranged in age from 3 to 9 so that was magic to see. There were only 3 of us spinning, but as the cat shows, it was warm and sunny, a nice day.

take care - na Stella

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A sock, a sock and another sock

Socks, thats what I've been knitting. I don't think I've ever had a sock as my main project - oh I've knit lots of socks, but always as a side project. You know the project you take along to knit night, or in the car, to to guild meetings, or have at hand when the main project is to big, or to complicated or just not right for the knitting occasion. But right now, I've been working on just socks ... and when you just knit socks, they knit up real fast. I think I finally understand how those knitters who sign up for the 52 pair plunge manage to complete the challenge or even come close. Two socks have been competing for my knitting time, Poppys resized Froot Loops, and Cat Bordhi's Spring Thaw socks. Today, progress on both pairs of socks, my vintage pre-christmas find, a new increase to play with, and finally a few details about my new project.

I've finished Poppy's first Froot Loop, she did ask for knee length - and I should have given in, but I did not want to be stuck working on these whilst I had other things tempting me, so mid calf they are. Sock one was done on the 8th of Feb, quite quick really.

and sock two is more than half way done. Another few nights knitting and that to should be finished.

And those Spring thaw socks that I remembered I had wanted to knit. Well a quick rummage in my sock yarn drawer located some deep forest green yarn by St Ives, and knowing that white socks would not be a good idea for lots of reasons mostly involving how hard it would be to keep them clean - green seemed a good choice for socks with leaves. These socks have a very square toe, which looks quite odd when not on the foot - but on the foot work quite well.

... now just before I finished Froot Loops 1, on January the 8th, I cast on for Spring thaw - and look past the heel already. I admire Cat Bordhi's designs, but find her directions mighty confusing at times. I had hoped that since this sock was published in a magazine rather than her own self published and self edited book, that the pattern would be a tad easier to follow .. and I was nearly right. In her books patterns consist of many pages of line by line instructions and wordy explanations with diagrams - in Knitters the pattern is a bare one and a half pages, and comparably very concise. I still had a moment when I did not understand what to do next, and at 10pm was logging on to Ravelry searching for help on turning the heel - where I found at least a few others had the same problem. CB titles a section 'Turning the heel', and states all rounds now begin with the sole stitches and starts with what appear to be asymmetrical increases on one side of the gusset ... but at that stage the knitter has just finished the sole stitches. I was confused, did I now turn and work the wrong side and what would that do to the twisted ribs or work across the instep? I'm ashamed to say I didn't even think of working the instep (I'll admit my brain goes a bit mushy after 10pm and a G&T), but turns out the missing instruction is to knit in pattern across the instep ready to start the heel - and what appear to be asymmetrical increases on one gusset are soon matched by increases on the other gusset. It is all sorted now and I'm past the heel and mid way up the leg - only one and a half leaves to go, as in this sock progress is measured by leaves.

I love the way the ribbing flows over and around the leaves, like ripples of water in a flowing river .... very nice, imagine them in blue! I'm hoping the pair will be a mirror match for each other, so I might have to reposition the first leaf placement and remember to start each new leaf 5 stitches before the old leaf not 5 stitches past it - unless Cat has already planned for that. I notice Knitters took out her Linc and R-incs and substituted kfb increases, which I've now substituted with what I call K+1 increases.

On the last knitters trip to the mill, we did our regular thing, had lunch at the country club (more like a formica tabled cafe with pretensions - but the food is hot, tasty and affordable), and visited all the second hand dealers in Milton. There I found this, a vintage folder of sock knitting needles - nearly complete. Imagine the lucky knitter who owned these ... the sizes go from 1.5mm to 3mm, are steel, in sets of 4. I suspect they are English, as the sizing is form larges size 11 to smallest size 19. I'm not planning to use these, I prefer my sets of 5, but its a nice find. The set is missing 3 of the 12's, that is the 2.75mm needles - but if I keep an eye out in local second hand shop - they shouldn't be to hard to pick up.

During the week I stopped by an old haunt, an online knitting forum that I used to practically live in before there was a Ravelry, the Knitters Review Forum. With Ravelry running the KR forum is much quieter than it used to be, and compared to Ravelry its a much less showy place (no photos of what people are doing - only links to their blogs or flickr accounts) - but there are still some good answers being provided to questions about knitting and patterns and spinning over there. My favorite haunt was the General Technique Questions space, new members (to see if any Dunedinites had joined) and the Spinning, and have a quick look at the Active topics to see what was going on. That displays all the topics and posts since your last visit. In the General Technique section this visit I found a new increase which I've become quite fond of. I've tested it on both the Froot loop sock gusset and the Spring Thaw gusset increases - and it works fine. I've been working it in the first stitch to make a left leaning increase and in the 2nd to last stitch to make a right leaning increase ... so far so good. A bit like a knit front and back - but subtler. I'm calling it the K+1 increase for want of a better name until some one lets me know of its more established name. K+1 hints is an increase that uses a knit stitch - and adds a stitch.

And the new project is ... a gansey for Toby, in Marine blue 4 ply from the Mill. I was waiting for a third gansey book to arrive, Knitting Ganseys by Beth Bown Reinsell. I've knit he sampler gansey from this already, in a class at the local guild with the local knit guru Lorna, but wanted to book as it had more detailed instructions for the gussets and straps than the other books I have contained. Of course this means joining a new group on Ravelry - the Gansey group ... cause I'm just a group knitting junkie. This is a small knit along - with another knitter I've met on line, we are both planning and knitting ganseys for boys at the same time which should be fun. I think the project proper will start some time early Feb 2009 - which should give us both some time swatching and researching, and charting and planning. This is a swatch I knit when I first bought the yarn, I've labled it 2.57mm so think thats the needle size I used ... so better knit another swatch and try some of those gansey patterns just to check ... eh?

take care

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

When I said I was finished ...

I thought I was, done with the blanket, but two things happened. First some one suggested that the i-cord edging I so admired on JF's garter blanket post could be added latter, in red no less, and second ... the local LYS had a sale. One of those sales where ahead of time they send the catalog ... you know to tempt you in. And in the catalog there was yarn, of a match to the one I had used to knit the blanket, 4 loose strands, in a large wheel(cheese they say), 250g pure wool, cream, black or navy. So .. getting the catalog a day before the sale started, I mulled, and planned and thought it over before heading off into town the day of the sale to buy yarn.

I had questions, many questions, how much yarn did one need to edge a large blanket in i-cord? What if I bought to little, what if I ran out and there was no more, anywhere? I knew that the local LYS got in stock especially for the sale, stuff they didn't usually carry the rest of the time. I had not seen this yarn in their shop before ... so I thought, I'll buy two, then I'll have enough , then at the checkout, I added another just to be safe. You know, cause you can't go back for more once its all sold.
Then I went home to knit, well actually I got a haircut, we bought a new basket and wood cup and ball toy at the trade aid shop, Poppy spent her Toyworld voucher ... Toby and Poppy talked me into juice drinks at the juice bar, I had a professionally made coffee (gosh they are good) ... then we went home. And I knit, and knit,and knit. I had a plan, I was going to knit one long side and one short side of the blanket and see how much yarn that took. Then I would know if I need to go back and buy more ... so I assembled my largest knitpics, arranged a large blanket beside me on the couch and knit, and knit and knit some more. And soon I had a short edge done, and not much of the wheel of yarn was gone, then I had the long side i-corded and again only a tiny bit of yarn was gone from the wheel.

I began to realize I had seriously overestimated the yarn I would need - and would be stuck with 2 wheels of yarn for all of time, unused. What else can you knit from yarn as thick as this if not i-cord on this blanket? So as I knit the third and final fourth sides I hatched a plan. I knew during sales that goods are not usually able to be returned, but I thought if I take the blanket to town with me and show them how big it was, and how hard it is to estimate the amount of yarn one needs to i-cord edge a blanket - surely they will understand and let me have credit for the 2 unused wheels of yarn. Surely?
And yes it worked (dont' tell any one - I'm not sure it was in keeping with head office policy), but to do that I had to finish the i-cord edge on the blanket, so I kept knitting, until it was done. And yes they did - this morning I exchanged the 2 unused wheels for two skeins of Rowan cotton - and they only hesitated a little, so now I have luxury washcloth makings. And I've still got half a wheel of yarn left .... any one need jumbo i-cord?

And Poppy's socks, well sock one is near done, I'm planning to cast off in pattern, rather than add a rib to the top. The pattern is pretty near a 3x1x2 rib so it won't curl, and its got lots of stretch. Today in town whist I did my yarn exchange, Bear found the second to latest Knitters magazine (K92) for me, he is good like that, I find black and white photography or architecture mags for him in exchange. The issue Bear found has neat socks, socks with holes in them, really yes holes, deliberate holes, that start at the toe and work up to the cast off tops (or the other way round - Lucy Neatby the designer encourages you to knit them in the direction of your liking). and the holes are not cast off, but cleverly worked over a single stitch at over two rows, neatly decreasing 6 stitches and making another replacement 6. Seeing these made me realise I had not yet knit the socks I bought the previous Knitters magzine for, The Spring Thaw socks by Cat Bordhi ... so yet again my wnat-to-knit list grows faster than my knitted list ... sigh.

But life is good, we are all still on holiday, this morning I exchanged the yarn, had my blanket admired, got a new knitting magazine, spent 4 hours spinning with friends, then collected the family and spent 2 hours at the beach with body boards, before a casual dinner of fish and chips out of the paper in the back yard ... its summer and its all good here. I've got two and half more weeks of leave - so plan to knit and spin, and surf and relax even more.
take care

Saturday, January 03, 2009

new year - new things

Happy new year!

Traditionally the new year or the old year starts with a bit of a year in review, and if you are curious about what I knit last year you could go here and see what I spent the year doing, I do plan to review the last year soon, its good to look back and reflect.
And yes I did buy my own body board (boogie board to some), and yes it has been baptisted, all of us spent the morning at Brighton Beach yesterday, and I was as warm as toast.
But new year - new project, this is one that has been on my to knit list since the Knitty Spring 2008 issue came out, and I have more yarn, 2 more lots of sock yarn.

My newest project is a heavily modified Froot Loops by

I'm using two techniques to re-size this for her, first I've traced around her foot, and used it as a template. I cast on and increased until the sock was a little wider, perhaps 0.5cm or quarter inch wider than the tracing of her foot. To work the heel I'm using the heel method of Widdershins (also from Knitty - where would I be without that resource?).

I love the lace pattern used in these socks, little columns of O's, real O's, with holes in them. I imagine this might become a stable in my knit library, and am already imagining them replacing ribbing or around mitten cuffs or topping off a sock ... lots of places.

Now I've also done another little modification, cause when you knit toe up - you knit the instep pattern first, leaving the sole plain. And the lace of Froot Loops is not symmetrical - and that looks odd when you start the instep patterning. So ... I've mirror imaged the lace across the instep for. symmetry. And I'm working the heel flap across 50% of the stitches - which uses the same chart as the instep, and makes the maths easier

And sock yarn, well - considering that I have enough yarn to knit 15 socks already in stash (and probably more as two of those yarns are cones), I don't need any more sock yarn. But need is such a subjective term and completely ignores any aspect of opportunity and timelyness that knitters must keep in mind - sometimes we buy a yarn because we are unsure that it will be there when we look for it next time. Two things tempted me, Vintage Purls brought the prettiest palest yarn to knitting in December and I forgot to tell you all about it, and James of Joy of Yarn updated his online shop with his Noro stocks. I'm not aware of any one else selling this on line in New Zealand (tempt tempt NZ readers - his prices included shipping)

so thats me for now, I've spent the morning on ravelry updating my stash and library - and have a few more little things to do there, but it feels like I've been on the computer all morning, so now I'm off to do other things ...
take care, hope your new years brings new projects and not to many challenges
na Stella