Sunday, 10 September 2017

back to school

Every summer I forget how little knitting time I have when I'm working full time, running a household, and parenting two very active and athletic kids.  My knitting slows to an almost-halt as the school year starts.  Still, I've managed to almost finish two WIPs:

I knit a Campside shawl by Alicia Plummer to give as a gift this year to a teacher.  She's into camping and has taught my child for two years now, so she's knit-worthy!  It's more blue than gray, and just needs the ends woven in.

I've also finished the knitting for my Rye cardigan by Thea Colman (Baby Cocktails), from the Berroco Portfolio Volume 1 collection.  I need to seam the sleeves (I knit them flat), sew on buttons and block it.  Hope to finish today!

I had problems with the symmetry of the decreases - didn't notice until I was almost done so I've left it for now but may rip back.  I think the error was in when I decided to keep the bramble pattern or not, leaving fewer stitches in the texture panel on one front compared to the other.  We'll see how much it bothers me when it's done.

Up next is another Lowlands Hat which uses grafting in garter stitch which is this month's technique for A Year of Techniques.  I'll be knitting a pattern I own using stash yarn, as I've done each month.  The patterns in the book (just published) are gorgeous but I'm challenging myself to knit what I have. At least for this series of projects!

I am also casting on a Joji Locatelli shawl:  The Girl in the Grocery Store using Fleece Artist Merino Slim in a purplish gray colour and a cream with the purplish speckles.   I have other shawls in the queue including a MKAL with Sweet Georgia Yarn that starts in mid October.

Now if I could just knit more and work less, I'd get it all done!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Long Runway.

I have completed a second mystery KAL.  It's very far outside of my usual knitting comfort zone (which does shift in terms of technique but not usually with colour).  It's huge, knit in fingering weight yarn (close to 2000 yards of it), and very colourful.  It took me a long time to pick the colours, and even though it's very beautiful now, I'm not convinced I'll wear it.  I usually choose solids, and muted colours.  If I'm combining colours, it's usually in either a muted palette or a very predictable one.   Otherwise, the colours are too bright, too contrasting, too... much. 

I find lots of things 'too much'.  I read a blog post called "When you have a long runway" and named my shawl Long Runway.  The gist of the post: it takes some people a while to make decisions, act on their thinking, speak their minds.  Not because they don't have an opinion but because the thought process is so complicated and deep that saying the exact thing you mean to say, the moment you mean to say often never happens (to borrow a phrase from "You've Got Mail").   

I have a long runway.  I think a lot before I act, I deliberate all the options, I consider perspectives and consequences.  I'm not impulsive, risk-taking, or impractical.  So to buy 2000 yards of multi-coloured fingering weight yarn for a 'mystery' project that I may not like in the end is so far out of my comfort zone.  That said, I love the process of knitting with a group and keeping up (or trying to keep up) with the clues.  

In the end, the wrap represents the process of being bold, and slightly brave.  I realize it's just knitting and not a life-changing decision.  But I believe we make choices based on habit, decisions based on past experiences and patterns.  Next time I'm unsure and reach for the familiar, I can remind myself that it might be okay to do something differently.  Maybe.

Friday, 14 July 2017

There's a first for everything!

In the spirit of "A Year of Techniques", I am attempting July's technique, the heel-flap and gusset.  This requires me to knit my first pair of socks.  I've been knitting for over 30 years, on and off.  I've knit garments of all kinds, hats, shawls, lace, cables.... I can cable without a needle, read lace charts, and am not intimidated by most things knitterly.  Except socks.

My hesitation to knit socks is related to technique, mostly.  And style.  I knit loosely.  I often have to go down at least 2 needle sizes to get stitch gauge (and then adjust for row gauge as needed).  For socks, this means knitting on VERY tiny needles.  I'm using 2mm needles for my current project, but if my LYS had smaller DPNs I'd likely be one size smaller.

So far, I'm done one repeat of the chart, and realize that cables, twisted stitches and a heel-flap all in one might not be the best combination for one's first pair of socks.  I'm not a beginner, so other than the heel-flap these are not new skills.... but socks are knitting much more slowly than I'd like them to be.  I feel a strong case of "second sock syndrome" coming on in my near future!

Pattern - Festoon by Rachel Coopey
Yarn - Viola Sock by Emily Foden

Sunday, 18 June 2017

more techniques

I'm moving along with the Year of Techniques hosted by Arnall-Culliford.  So far, we've covered Helical Stripes, Intarsia, and Pinhole cast-on.  I finished my Amstel Hat that started top-down with a pinhole cast-on, using Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

June's technique is knitted-on edging.  In keeping with my plan to use stash yarn and patterns I own, I'm knitting the Hydrangea Neckwarmer from the book Brave New Knits.  I'm done the main body, and have started the edging.  This is a new skill, but not a difficult one.  The pattern calls for a provisional cast-on for the edging, but I will seam at the end.   The yarn is variegated and pattern is lacy, so a small seam in the edging won't be noticeable.  It was less awkward than the provisional one in the original pattern.

I'm enjoying the challenge of learning (or practicing) new things, but am happy that I've stuck with using pattern and yarn I own.  It's so tempting to buy new patterns and yarns.  This allows me to search through my books and patterns for things I may have overlooked before, and match with yarns to knit things I may not have considered before.  Can't wait to see what July brings!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

More knitting (less everything else!)...

A month since posts... I do so  much on my ipad, and can't quite figure out how to post images and create a blog post on that device.  I'm looking into it as I know I'd post more often from that device than the laptop.  Laptop signals "work" for me, while I use my iPad for "fun" things.

I broke out the sewing machine last month and made a top:  Sorbetto by Collette Patterns (a free top pattern).  I also made a "One Hour Top" by Fancy Tiger Crafts but the photo is on Instagram and I'm on my laptop.  Too many technological devices?!!

On the knitting front I've made a lot of small accessories, finished a KAL, and then got very distracted by a Mystery KAL.  

First, I finished a cowl using Noro Gingo and a pattern from my LYS.  It's more colourful than the photo shows, with mauve and green and gray:

I also knit a cowl using Briggs and Little Durasport, also in gray.  It's a bit scratchy but I'll wear it a lot in the fall.  Pattern is from PomPom Magazine, called Striated:

I also got sidetracked by a first birthday gift for my nephew.  I used stash yarn and a free pattern by Joji Locatelli called "Lolo's Vest".  Mine is more colourful than the original, as I didn't have enough of the red or the gray (my original plan) so added in some blue:

I also cast on a hat using the 'pinhole cast-on' for my Year of Techniques project this month.  This month's pattern is a cute knitted mouse.  I live with pre-teen boys and a lot of sports gear... and I am not keen on knitting toys (although these  may get knit one day!).  I'm trying to knit all of my 'technique' projects using stash yarn and patterns I own, so I chose some leftover Berroco Alpaca and cast on an Amstel Hat:

I'm no further along than this, as I am very distracted by my "Starting Point" MKAL with Joji Locatelli.  SPOILER picture is about to come up, but it's only clue one and a bit of clue two, so not really a big surprise anymore as clue 3 was released.  I'm not sure about the colours now that I"m knitting, as it's a lot more colourful than I usually knit.  I knit bright things (like the hat above) but usually in a monochromatic, solid colour.  The mix of colours is very far out of my comfort zone.  This means it will get worn with a lot of gray and black, I imagine!  
Yarns:  Zara (mauve), Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (orange), Sweet Georgia Toughlove sock (variegated), Sweet Georgia Bulletproof Sock (Blue), Alegria (gray):

More on this when it's done, as I don't want to give too much away.  I'm trying to keep up with the pace of the KAL, so I have a few days to do a LOT of knitting - the project uses close to 2000 yards in 4 weeks....  

All of this knitting means less of other things.  Like housework, school work, reading, etc.  I'm okay with this, but my house is looking a little dusty and my report cards loom ahead!  

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


As mentioned previously, I'm following "A Year of Techniques" using patterns and yarn from my library and stash.  I finished my cowl with intarsia and LOVE it.  Love the colour, loved knitting the pattern, love the yarn, love it.  I think it will be perfect for spring, when the wind can be cool despite the sun (which I hear will shine again soon).  I used a new cast-on, learned intarsia with garter stitch (easy!) and grafted the ends together with garter Kitchener stitch (new skill) so really this was 3 new techniques on one go.  I also knit it ahead of my deadline (May 1st) so I'm very proud of myself for following through with my commitment to finish KALs at or near the deadline.

Pattern:  Ice Maiden Cowl by Sybil R (on Ravelry)
Yarn:  Malabrigo Arroyo (variegated) and Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (burgundy)

Next technique involves sock yarn.  I've never knit socks (aside from a worsted pair of house socks) so I'm hoping to learn something new.  I rarely pay much attention to sock patterns that come my way (in magazines, in books, on websites) so I will have to think about what I can reasonably knit.  For now, I'll wear my new cowl and hope for a breezy, sunny but cool day!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

a year of techniques

Mason Dixon Knitting and Arnall-Culliford Knitwear have launched a year-long project and (eventual) book called A Year of Techniques.  The premise:  each month starting in March 2017, a new technique and pattern are launched.  Purchasing the book gives you access to each pattern via pdf, with a printed copy (or digital) available for shipping at the end. 

Exciting?  Yes!  Affordable? ... not for me.  With the Canadian dollar and shipping from England factored in, the book alone will cost $33.00 plus shipping (so likely closer to $60).  I would love to own the book but am also mindful of all of the other patterns I already own and the accompanying stash of yarn I seem to have accumulated.  Instead, I am going to do a 'shadow' year of techniques, selecting patterns I already own that incorporate the technique of the month.  If I don't have a pattern with the specific technique, then I will choose one that can be modified to incorporate it. 

First up was 'helical stripes' - essentially one stripe chases the other, never catching up to eliminate jogs or seams.  The pattern is for arm warmers, so I cast on using gauge for fingering weight yarn and knit up some generic armwarmers with a thumb gusset and ribbing at top and bottom.  Yarn is Noro Silk Garden sock.

April's technique is intarsia, with a gorgeous shawl by Bristol Ivy, Brambling Shawl.  I have a pattern for a garter stitch cowl called Ice Maiden.    Mine will be less icy and more 'red wine', but garter and intarsia together is fun!

I am using stash yarn for this - Malabrigo Arroyo and Ultra Alpaca Light.  Feels good to dig into the stash and try new things at the same time.

I also have a cardigan on the go for a Baby Cocktails KAL.  It's Rye, knit with Ultra Alpaca Tonal.  I love the stitch pattern and it's going quite quickly.  One sleeve done, another about a third of the way.  Great tv knitting with a 4-row pattern that's easy to memorize and 'read' on the needles.
 Also hoping to finish last year's summer tee - started about a year ago.  Lots on the go, but I am hoping to finish all by mid May, just in time to start the next technique!