Saturday, February 27, 2010

No title: brain not working

<-- The maple leaf motif took shape on the front of the sweater yesterday and today.

My brain has been fried. I can barely string two words together.

I hope you are content with pictures:

The "nest" I have been inhabiting for the last two days.
All I need is a couch, my charts and a lot of string. (I had five balls going at this point.)

By the time I stopped on Saturday, the front colourwork is almost done:
Only a few more rows til I'm into some solid red. What a break that will be!

And the back:

Good night!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anyone got Some Mojo to Spare?

I seem to be missing mine.

At times I am steady at it, at others I just can't haul it all out and work on it. Can we say heavy, awkward, and brain-consuming?

The most brain consuming part is how different it is from traditional fair-isle colourwork. Fair-isle is extremely structured and works with small motifs repeated over a row. It's what I'm used to and it makes a lot of sense to me. It just clicks.

This Norwegian stuff is quite, not completely, but quite different. Where fair-isle might pattern two colours 1-5-1-5-1-5-1 etc., this pattern does more like 1-7-1-9-1-9-1-3-1-4-1. Not only different intervals, but throwing in that even number after all the odds! You have to really watch yourself. (Knock on wood--no rip backs for me yet because of the pattern. Pat on back.)

And then there's this "rest of my life" that keeps pounding on the door of my available time. If it were just a week, I think I could have put it all off. But for two weeks? That was just a little too much to ask this time around. Bills to be paid, insurance claims to be filed, fires to build, [minimum amount of] laundry to do, etc, etc, you know how it goes.

But have I given up? NO! And a special shout-out is deserved by my number 1 and 2 cheerleaders, Bonnie and Patricia--thanks, guys!

I am on the brink of a three-day weekend and plan to use it, to wring every available stitch out of it. Yes, there will still be other things to do (cooking and laundry come to mind; the bathroom can wait til next week) but I will simply treat those as necessary breaks to the knitting.

Once I'm set up at home on my own couch with the fire going, I suspect it's going to be a lot harder to distract me. (Although the Olympic events do a pretty good job of it.)

I need to finish the front and back:

And then the sleeves:
They're a little longer than last time I showed you, but not a lot! But you have to admit they look very neat and well-ordered don't they. Partly because I have taken a trick out of the sock knitters' book and tucked the ball for each sleeve inside the sleeve!
Isn't that a clever trick! It does make it heavier to hold but totally worth it in my book.

One more note about the colourwork. It had never occurred to me before that knitting while reading a pattern is very similar to playing an instrument while reading the music. (I'm thinking of a piano where you can glance down at your fingers to see where they are.) The same sort of eye movements (read a bit of pattern, glance down; find your place in the pattern and read a little more, glance down...) and hand-eye coordination.

Fair-isle uses all the familiar chords and leads you along so you can almost guess where the melody's going. This Norwegian colourwork uses very unusual chords and jumps in unexpected intervals. (There's a lot of looking up and down from work to pattern.)

It's been fun learning a new tune.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Prelims are Over

If I were an alpine skier, I just caught too much air on a jump.

If I were a figure skater, I just turned my triple into a double.

If I were a biathlete, I just missed three of my five shots.

If I were a certain hockey team, I just lost the last game of the round robin.

In other words: I'm not out, but I am risking my place on the medal stand.

The back. I'm through my first section of
three-colour stranding. (Thank goodness!)

Things have slowed quite a bit. Saturday was a wash out for knitting; nothing got done til the very end of the day. Then I made myself put everything else aside and set myself up for some travel knitting on Sunday.

And then on Sunday I got the sleeves started. Now, before you get excited, this does not mean that I got the front/back done (which would be the normal order of things). But I had the [brilliant] idea that I could start the sleeves to take with me now that the body of the sweater was confined to the house.

It was a [brilliant] idea that has worked out quite well. So on the drive to/from church on Sunday I got both sleeves done up to the colourwork. that afternoon I worked on the body of the sweater at home. And then in the evening I took the sleeves with me as I went to watch a certain round robin hockey game and got the bottom colourwork done on both of them.

Now that I just have miles of grey stocking stitch to do on the sleeves, I am going to do them two at a time on two cable needles. I've never done this before, but I think this is a nice project to try it out on.
Oh--surprise! I did the inside hem of the sleeves in goldenrod.
Since it will be folded into the inside and never seen,
it's a nice little happy detail just for myself.

Two-at-a-time is supposed to be a little more efficient, and at the very least I will only have to count the rows between in the increases once instead of twice, and the increases will match exactly on both sleeves. (Not that I've ever had the problem of them not matching before but preventive measures can still be appreciated even if they might seem unnecessary.)

Will it be confusing working on the body of the sweater and the sleeves at the same time? I don't think so. One thing that makes this possible is the interchangeable tips of my cable needle "system." I only have one set of the right sized needle tips, but I can unscrew them from the needles in the body and then use them on the sleeves. A little inconvenient, but not that bad. Or at least that's what I think going into it.

The very astute of you will realize that I actually have two sets of cable needles going in the sleeves, and shouldn't I need two sets of tips the right size then? Well, no. The only needle that really matters is the right one, the one that forms the new stitches. The left one is just there to let the old one go and really doesn't get a say in anything.

So I put a pair of smaller tips on the left side and the right sized tips on the right side. Then I still don't have to buy two sets of tips. Am I cheap or what? (Resourceful too.)

Alright, enough for now. I have to get back to knitting. Wish me luck on the two at a time and all this needle swapping!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ANOTHER update? Well, why not!

I wondered if I was updating too often on a solid grey sweater, but you're still reading, so I guess not.

This is what twelve inches of sweater looks like!
Reached this point this evening. Took only the small break to take this picture before diving into some colour!!

About the time I should be stopping for the night, my fourth ball of grey ran out, and I packed it in for the day.
Looking forward to more colour tomorrow, but not really to the rows where I have to carry three colours along. But that's where it comes time to prove the Knitting Olympics are not for weenies!

It's a Horse Race!

Apparently, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) and I are really close as to progress on our respective Whistlers. (We're both doing them for the Ravelympics--imagine that!) This is assuming her blog is current and she hasn't done gobs of knitting since today's post.

Her first mistake could have been avoided by doing the cast on working with both ends of the same ball of yarn. Just saying.

Her second not a mistake as far as I can tell. I did goldenrod on the bottom colourwork. So did another Raveller who just finished her Whistler. I think Stephanie has somehow misread the pattern, undid something that was right and reknit it with the wrong colour. Poor Stephanie.

And her third point is true. Knit everywhere.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

TAB: Tendinitis Avoidance Break

So I was right about Tuesday: only seven rows done (about an inch). I have to give a shout out to my coach, David, who shouted, "KNIT KNIT KNIT" in my face right when I needed it. Otherwise that total would have been even lower. And another shout out to my trainer, Wendy, who provided me with chocolate right when I needed it.

Today I've had a lot more time to make some real progress.
Between Tuesday and today, I've gotten 3.25 inches done and that gives me 9.5 inches from the foldline. Two and a half more to go before the colourwork starts. Can I get that done tonight? We'll see.

I also finished another ball of the main colour. I'm averaging one every two days. With 12 balls of MC, this would get me done in 24 days. Not fast enough! (Seriously, I'm not really pressuring myself to finish this in the 17 days of the Olympics.)

If the wrists can keep it up this evening, there's a good chance I'll knit for more hours today than NBC's Olympics coverage (not counting the 3am replay). I talked to my mom in Canada this morning. I was jealous when she said she can catch coverage any time she turns on the TV; there's always something running.

Ok, I think my wrists, hands and elbows have had enough of a break. Time to get back to my miles and miles of dark grey stocking stitch...
If I keep at it, it has to end sometime!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Knitting Olympics: Day 4

Today was a good day: about 2.5 inches knit since last night.
The paperclip marks where I started. (This is a good way to keep yourself motivated. Progress is too hard to see on 12 inches. But marking where you started that day gives you something shorter to measure against. It's not cheating; it just seems like it.)

I am now just over 6" of 12" I have to do before starting the next colour chart. It is quite a slog. It's a good thing I'm a stick-with-it kind of person.

The other way to measure progress is that I did finish another ball of MC wool. Woo hoo! (I guess...progress is made, but I don't want to run out before I'm finished!)

This was an exceptional day for time allowed for knitting; unfortunately progress tomorrow will not be nearly as good. But I do have 13 days left...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Should be Knitting...

but I wanted to let you know how the Olympics are going.My knitting Olympics, that is.

I had a wonderful time at Heidi’s watching the opening ceremonies with other knitters as we cast on new projects or worked on WIPs. It was a lovely surprise to find out Heidi’s husband grew up in Quebec and we shared all the familiar Canadian references, inside jokes, and made fun of the bad French accents.

I got a good piece done while being wowed by the projection effects of the ceremonies. (They had me at the whales swimming through the stadium.) I was a little worried about casting on and figuring out all those starting issues while talking with people and watching TV, but it went well. In fact, maybe I should do it more often. (I had to cast on 222 stitches. I don’t count as I go when the total’s that high, but when I stopped to count them, I had 227. Amazing!)

Yellow line indicates fold line
Ribbing is between orange lines
While there, I got all the ribbing done. Nice to have that behind me. The sweater starts with a hem that gets folded under and I tried not to let it bother me that all the knitting I had gotten done wouldn't even be seen in the final project.

The next day I got even more done, getting past the hem fold line and then getting to the “exciting” colourwork. This brought me to the end of my first ball of grey yarn! That seems awful soon and I am a little worried about running out now. On the other hand, if I can knit a ball every 24 hours, I should have no trouble finishing this during the Olympics!

I also gave myself a little panic attack about the size, worrying that it was much too small for the cut and style of the sweater. I took another look today, tried it on, and decided it’s ok. Carry on, carry on!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Troy's Woven Cables Sweater

Before I plunge into my Olympic knitting tonight, I should clear up my previous projects. Clean the slate, so to speak.

I am pleased to present the Woven Cables sweater I've been working on for Troy.

Despite some setbacks along the way, the final sweater fits wonderfully, and judging by the frequency that it graces Troy's shoulders, he loves to wear it!

Since the last update, I finished the shoulder shaping and added the neckline ribbing. I did a 3x1 rib inspired by the columns on the front and back.

I also added the ribbing to the bottom, picking up stitches along the bottom edge and knitting down. The 3x1 rib flowed directly out of the pattern on the main body. I had to fudge the stitch counts just a little to make it work out. I made sure to err on the side of adding of stitches because I wanted the rib to lie flat and smooth, not to pull in like ribbing is usually designed to.
After blocking, the sleeves were plenty long. (And in fact, Troy first thought they were too long; I had to reblock it soon after the first time (long story I'm not getting into here), and the sleeves were just the right length when I wasn't quite as aggressive.) And so, I didn't add any ribbing to the sleeve and just left them as they were.
(Didn't I tell you the shoulder shaping of the "Brooks"
sweater design would emphasize his general buffness?!!)

Here you can see the center of the sleeve making its way up over the shoulder.

Project Stats
: 02 Sep 09 / Finished: 23 Jan 10
Pattern: devised from Nancy Marchant's Wondrous Woven Cabling and EZ's Brooks Sweater
Materials: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK (brown), 10.5 skeins ($72.35)
The cable placement worked out well all around the shoulders and neckline. This is not through any genius of mine, just a bit of good luck. There's always a chance in cabling that one of the twists will fall just too close or too far from the top edge. But not this time!

One more look at my dapper man:
Not bad, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This is the sweater Troy showed me yesterday. He pulled it out of his closet and discovered these holes, presumably caused by wool loving moths or possibly, carpet beetles. Horrors!

The sweater is no great loss as it was obtained second hand and was getting rather worn. But the idea that we may have an infestation on our hands--that is a big deal.

I've had several occasions when I've wondered if I had moths; several balls with frequent breaks (like I mentioned on my Outside In socks). But since I never saw any other signs of actual bugs, I didn't pursue it. I know, not very smart of me.

With this proof, though, I could no longer ignore it and sprang into action today. There's lots of advice about how to deal with it, but the general consensus seems to be heat. Either in a sun-soaked car, or an oven. Not having the weather I needed for it today, I was left with the oven:
(Yes, my oven operates with an open flame. Long story.)

I cooked four batches of wool in the oven, 45 minutes at about 140^F. (I was aiming for 120, but the oven isn't too predictable at the low temps.) I then stopped storing them in paper bags and have moved the wool into a tin can. (The big ones popcorn comes in at Christmas time.) I'm thinking it will keep the bugs out. The other option is ziplock bags and I'm not keen on buying a bunch of those.

The best way to keep the bug population down in the house in general is vacuuming and cleaning. With my housekeeping habits, that's not encouraging!

And now that the important stash has been dealt with, I need to get up the energy to go through the rest of Troy's sweaters in the closet. There's a lot of wool in there...

Bella's Mittens

It didn't take long! I have finished Bella's Mittens.

They are lovely. (I can say that because that's complimenting the designer, Marielle Henault, not me!)

The pattern was very well written. I would prefer to follow a chart, but made do with the line by line instructions.

The mittens did come up a little short so I added a few rows to the top and spread out the decreasing. [*Details below.] I also added two rows to the thumb.

The mitten shaping and proportion fit the hand and arm wonderfully, especially the smooth thumb gusset. Very comfortable.

The wool had felt quite itchy when I tried the mittens on, pre-blocking.

Once blocked, however, they are soft and not at all irritating. I made sure to stretch them a bit during the blocking (length and width) and they fit even better now.
Project Stats
: 30 Jan 10
Finished: 2 Feb 10
Pattern: Bella's Mittens by Marielle Henault (free)
Materials: 115 grams from
J Crew Sweater (~$1.50)

I think I mentioned that as soon as I had unraveled this sweater, I was inspired (one might say driven) to make Bella's Mittens from it. And I think it did turn out to be a beautiful match. But once they were done, I let myself realize that the long mittens won't fit with any of my jackets. The beautiful salmon red colour doesn't match my red winter coat. (Like, at all.)

This was more of a "process" knit than a "final result" knit. I really enjoyed making them, and seeing the project through. I did not despair what would happen to them...with impeccable timing, someone from church asked if I had anything I could donate for a silent auction for the youth group. Why, yes, yes I do!

Happy bidding!

*Mods after row 80:
Row 81: K12, P2, K6, P1, move final stitch to beginning of next needle
Row 82: K2tog, K10, ssk, P1, K6, move final stitch to beginning of next needle
Row 83: K2tog, K10, ssk, K6
Row 84: K3, ssk, K2, K2tog, K3, K6
Row 85: K3, ssk, K2tog, K3, K6
Row 86: K2, K2tog, ssk, K2, K6
Row 87: K6 (only do half the round)
Kitchener the stitches together

Sunday, February 7, 2010

SB Sunday

Yes, today's the day--Super Bowl Sunday. My Colts have their chance at a second title since I've been following them.

But it's "SB" Sunday for another reason...let's see if I can explain the inside joke.

A group of friends were together one evening when one of us exclaimed, "Why M---, you have a Sparkly Bum!" And immediately M--- (a lady of a certain age) twirled around with her hands covering the "offensive" glitter and sparkle, completely embarrassed.

Well, we couldn't let that go, so we lovingly teased her the rest of the evening. (We even found out that earlier in the day someone had told M--- that she had a "Shiny Heinie.") M--- took it all in with good humour, and in fact became rather defiant as she bought another pair of "sparkly bum" jeans the next day!

Of course, we then planned the next stage. M--- is hosting today's Super Bowl get together and we have made plans to all come with sparkly bums! I haven't seen what any one else has planned, but I worked on mine yesterday.

I bought some heat adhesive crystals and a heat tool (the "Creative Jewel Tool") and planned my own sparkly support of my Colts, of course!

First, planning:
I traced the pocket onto some scrap paper; drew out a horseshoe and tried to fill it with crystals. After adjusting the shape several times, I had a design that worked and used every single clear crystal I had. (No pressure now!)

Next I transferred the horseshoe to the actual jeans, one by one. It's still a "dry fit" at this point; no adhesive had been activated yet.

Once I had the design, I started to stick them down. The heat tool worked on one crystal at a time and took about 20 seconds. There are about 120 crystals in the design, so it took a while. It did not go any quicker when the jeans (and crystals) fell to the floor after I had only about 10 glued down. :big sigh:
The only good thing to come from it was that after I had picked up all the crystals and laid out the horseshoe again, I had several clear crystals left over! (At least now I had a spare if I needed.)

I had trouble with some of the crystals: they wouldn't stay stuck. I finally fixed the last few with Elmer's glue. (It may not survive the wash, but hopefully it will last through tomorrow.)

I hope M--- appreciates the joke. Isn't it funny how we were teasing her, but now we just want to be like her!?

Go Colts!

ETA: Well, never mind the Colts til next year, but here are more Sparkly Bums that showed up for the party:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Turned Inside In

Well, I got all those ends worked in finally! Doesn't that toe look lovely? I think the way the pattern on the top makes its way just around the toes is just...graceful.

The heel was also well designed in keeping with the rib pattern:

And I finally have the excuse to show you my new tool:
I found this wooden foot in an antique store (just $5!) and it's just my size. It makes taking those toe and heel pictures a lot easier!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...I can reveal my Outside In socks, outside out...or inside in...whatever you prefer:
Project Stats
: 26 Nov 09
Finished: 01 Feb 10
Pattern: Outside In by Janice Kang (free)
Materials: Louet Gems Sport Weight in Sage Green ($17)
The socks feel good as I wear them. I'm not crazy about the colour; it's very flat. And with the ribs, I feel a bit like I have reptile feet! But they fit pretty well and they're very warm!

I really liked learning the afterthought heel, and the pattern instructions and charts were very good.

It was kind of fun knitting the socks inside out. So far I have not noticed any purls where there should be knits or vice versa. If you should see any, let's just keep it your little secret!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gauge Gauge Gauge

I've been doing a lot of swatching over the last couple weeks preparing for three projects.

1. The plarn trench coat which, you may recall, was one of this year's goals. I pulled out the pattern to try out the stitch pattern. Not even close to gauge, and not very pretty.
The mushy looking part at the bottom is in the stitch design from the pattern. Yuck!

So then I started mixing it up with crochet hook sizes and other stitch combinations. I still wasn't getting close enough to gauge. I've requested a pattern book from the library that contains another trench coat pattern. It's written for bulky yarn so I'm hoping I can get it to work.

2. I got going on the plan to knit the Bella's Mittens out of the wool from the J Crew sweater. Since I had no real information about the weight of the wool from the sweater, I thought it was especially important to check the gauge. I started with the needle size recommended by the pattern and got gauge with the first try! That's how I'm used to it working out!
So I merrily knitted away on the mittens. And despite getting gauge right on, they were a little small! That means either the pattern didn't list the right gauge or I have bigger hands than most. In any case, I did two things to compensate: first, I added some length to the top of the mitten and to the thumb. Secondly, I stretched them a bit when blocking. They're still drying, but I think they'll be good. I'll give you a look at them after I've gotten some good pics.

3. And, finally I got some new needles in the mail and could try some more on my Whistler swatch. It hasn't been straight forward. Here's my swatch piece of eight sections trying out different needles in plain and colourwork:
I'm aiming for 24 sts to 4". Starting at the bottom, I have gotten
1. 26 sts on aluminum US #3s
2. 24 sts on aluminum US #3s in continental style. Right gauge but very uneven in tension. It wasn't pretty!
3. 23 sts on metal 3.75mms
4. 23 sts on aluminum US #4s
5. 24 sts on bamboo US #3/3.25mms

Yeah! I finally got gauge on the plain stocking stitch section. (And with one of the new needles thus justifying the purchase!)

Now the colourwork section requires a different gauge and the pattern recommends moving up a size to get it. The pattern didn't specify the stitch gauge but wants 28 rows to 4".
6. 24 rows on bamboo US #4 (22.5 sts/4")
7. 24 rows on bamboo US #3 (24 sts/4")
8. 28 rows on bamboo US #2 (26 sts/4")

Ok, so the final size gives the right row gauge, but I don't like that the stitch gauge doesn't match the stocking stitch section. :sigh: Plus it means that I actually had to go down a size, instead of up like the pattern calls for. Doesn't feel right.

I've put it aside for now and posted the question on the Dale of Norway group on Ravelry. Hopefully the peeps there will be able to help.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...