Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Surmount the Stash - July Round Up

Despite all the chaos and upset this month - July was pretty decent for denting the stash. Proof that knitting is good stress relief!

I completed two pairs of socks.Dragonfly socks (which count toward my family sock goal and knock a pair off the Christmas list)

And the modded Lotus Heart socks for me.

I also knocked off a quick hat for my niece (another Christmas present done!)

And of course, the adorable cardigan for Nora.

This months yardage was just over 1,000 yards - 1,078 to be exact - not too shabby. And the yarn from the Dragonfly socks and Nora's cardi was kicking in the stash for a couple of years - so it's nice to have it out.

August is shaping up to be another decent month - I've got eight WIPs on the go and at the very least, I want to clean out four of them. Feel free to yell at me if I mention the urge to cast on!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday sloth

That's about what's been happening here all day.... the cats have been chillin'; Dave's been slaughtering zombies; and I've been knitting. After the last few weeks, it's pretty much a perfect Saturday.

After casting off the Lotus Heart socks, I decided I needed another pair on the needles - if only to keep me busy on my lunch hour at work. I dove deep into the stash and pulled out one of our very first dye jobs on Alley Cat. I decided the wild variegation was perfect for Chevvy, a pattern I've wanted to do for a very long time.
I figured I'd just get them started then go back to the shawl and save them for my lunch hours. But I haven't been able to stop. And, after some thought, I'm probably have to going to cast on for a different pair to take to work - the heels and toes of these are a little more involved and I don't want to be toting the book back and forth to work. 

In other knitting news, I realized I've neglected to share with you my progress on my big girl version of Silver.
 I'm past the arm holes now, and so far it's going swimmingly - other than the yarn. I'm using some Debbie Bliss Pure Silk  and while I love how it feels and drapes, it's not a yarn I'd recommend. It's spun very unevenly resulting in an uneven knit, and is often slubby. Quite disappointing when you consider the price. I'll use this lot up in the cardigan, and I have five skeins in black in the stash, and I won't be getting any more.

The pattern is turning out just how I imagined though - I can't wait to get it done.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ah... lace.....

It may seem odd to non-lace-loving-knitters, but after a stressful couple of weeks - I was looking for the perfect lace shawl to help me relax an un-wind. (Yes, I am fully aware that Mom is laughing her ass off right now, remembering the girl who said she'd never knit lace).

But - it's true - I find lace relaxing... well most lace - it's got to have a nice rhythmic pattern that just flows.. which I why I'm so often knitting lace leaves.

Anyway, a while back, Mom and I got a new yarn from our supplier to try out - a fingering camel/silk blend - and I've been searching for the perfect pattern for it. (If we release it, it will be Desert Cat)

I should have known, I didn't need to look any further than one of my favourite lace knitters/designers/dyers... Denise over at Lost City Knits. She recently released her Lafitte shawl (it's FREE - can you believe that?!?) and I knew I'd found my pattern.
I started it last night, adding some really dark, coffee coloured beads and I just love how they pop in the centre of the flowers.

So far, this pattern is the perfect remedy to my recent mood.... of course... that may change when I get to the nupps.... but for now, I'm basking in beaded, lacey bliss.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Faery feet!

First, let me say thank you to all your kind words of support for my previous post. Dave and I have decided to work on things, and see if we can keep our train chugging along. I'm optimistic, but unfortunately it means our ceremony planned for September is now postponed.

However, I'm keeping my chin up and looking for reasons to smile... and I can always count on the yarn for that!
Last night I stayed up past my bedtime, but I got my Lotus Heart socks done.
I mentioned before - the pattern is full length, but as soon as I got the leafy cuff (which is worked sideways) done, I knew they had to be ankle socks.

They look like little pixie shoes! I made quite a few modifications to the pattern to make them ankle socks, and I didn't really record them, so unfortunately I can't share.

I can tell you that I knit them in my absolute favourite sock yarn - Alley Cat Falkland. It's just like our regular  Alley Cat - but with just a little extra smoosh! The colour is Frog prince - and I have about half a skein left.. I think I'm going to find something to pair it with to make another pair of socks - it's just so cheerful.

Now - I'm itching to cast on for a new shawl.. I've the the yarn and beads (yes... beads!) all picked out - but I'll save it for my next post.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The sounds of silence

I apologize for the quiet on the blogfront.
It's always difficult to determine just how much to share with the great wide web... it's been quiet here because Dave and I are trying to work through some things and it's been taking up the larger part of my available energy.
The good news is, there's a small light at the end of the tunnel, whatever the outcome - and I should be back with some fabulous knitting content soon.
In the meantime, I'm still reading you all ... and we just uploaded the shop with some new Fluffy Cat goodness.. including some  Fluffy lace!
Back soon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quick and leafy

Mom likes to tease me about my love for ankle socks. But it's not just because they are a quick knit, I really do love wearing ankle socks.

The quick, however, is definitely a bonus. By 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the first  Lotus Heart sock was finished.

The cuff is knit sideways, and then you pick up stitches in the round to complete the socks in a pretty leaf pattern down the foot. .

You all know how I feel about knitting leaves - love it! That, combined with the awesome colour and nice smooshy Alley Cat Falkland, make this a pair you want to just keep knitting and knitting.

They look like little "sprite" socks when they are on. I love them. Too bad it's too warm here for socks right now.

I'd like to say I'd have the second sock off the needles just as quick as the first, but I've started a new position at work, and things are a little hectic while I get up to speed. Maybe by the end of the week - but I'm not making any promises!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Knitting triad

It's a grey and gloomy Sunday, and thanks to another trip to the doctor, my itches have settled down considerably (yay for modern science!). Seems like the perfect day for knitting.

I  actually got a fair bit accomplished on Friday after visiting to the doctor. I was able to harness my mojo and finish the Dragonfly socks.
These are knit in House Cat, in Aurora. They are blocking now, but will soon be tucked away in the Christmas box.

Since I had no socks on the needles, I started a new pair for myself.

These are the Lotus Heart Socks - they are suppose to be full-length, but as soon as I finished that leafy border, I knew they had to be frilly girly ankle socks. I've already turned the heel on the first one. These are knit in my absolute favourite Alley Cat Falkland. It's so nice to knit with. The colour is a nice bright spring green with a touch of yellow, called Frog Prince.

And, just to mix things up - I've dived into upsizing the Silver Cardigan so I can have one too!

I dove deep into the stash for this one, and pulled out some Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. I'm just winging it, so I hope it will work out. It's slow going at the moment, but once I've got the sleeves on holders it will pick up a bit.

So... I guess I better get to it

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Itchin' to get stitchin'

Sorry for being MIA. I had intended to post a few times honest.... but things have been crazy since vacation ended and I really haven't got much knitting done.

And there's another thing that's really put a screw in the works.... remember how last week, I said that I was removing vines from my fence that weren't poison ivy...? Well... turns out some of them were. I got a delayed reaction. I started coming up last Friday as a really minor rash on just my wrists. It got progressively worse, but not too terrible by Tuesday when I went in and saw my doctor. It was just my forearms, and a little bit on one foot.

He told me to take some anti-histamines and gave me some hydro-cortisone cream. Wednesday I woke up and it had exploded. I had a new patch on my right knee and leg, patches on the backs of my thighs, a patch on my face and it started moving to my upper arms.

Today, half of my face is so swollen it looks like I have something stuck in my left cheek. Every patch is worse, and I have two new ones on my stomach, and one on my shoulder.From what the doctor said, there's not much I can do but wait until it "peaks" and keep treating the symptoms. I've added aveeno baths, calamine lotion and aloe vera gel to help battle the itch, but nothing is doing much good.

I guess I'm lucky, mine isn't blistering, as some cases do - it just looks and feels like I was swarmed by a band of really large, angry mosquito. Monstrously large mosquitoes.

I don't have any knitting to show you and I hate pictureless posts, but I'm really not inclined to share images of my blight. Instead, I'll share a funny cat story.

Last night, in an effort to distract myself from the itches, and because it was in sore need, I took my car up to Mom and Dad's to give it a good clean.

Their cat Deuce has a very bad habit of "claiming territory" on whatever car happens to be parked in the driveway. He loves to sit on the roof and bask in the sun, and just generally be king of the castle. But he ran into a little trouble with my car...

"Umm...excuse me... I think you car is broken...."

Sunday, July 8, 2012


 Well - tomorrow I'm back to work, but I'm feeling pretty good. The quilt is done! Even the binding!

I was not fun at first, but once I let go, and stopped worrying about what the back looked like (seriously, who sees the back?) it went better. It does look like it was quilted by a gin-soaked washer woman, but it's totally functional.

It took me about four hours to quilt the entire thing - just basic "stitch-in-the-ditch" quilting (even keeping it that easy, I still can't sew in a straight line). I would have gone much faster but for two things:
1) With just three lines left to quilt, I ran out of thread. Not cool.Much swearing ensured. Fortunately Mom came to the rescue and brought me down another spool. She's such a good Mommy.
2) The 15 lb fur-covered anchor who just wanted to "help"

"They'll never find me in here"

"Oh. Hi. I'm... um... helping.... yeah... that's it. I'm keeping this big cushy, soft ... I mean heavy! Heavy blankie in place so it doesn't pull your machine of the table. Yeah....  yeah ... that's it."

"Hey look... Tux is doing something bad over there. Why don't you go see what he's up to and I'll just stay here and keep your blankie warm."

After extracting the cat - several times - the quilting was done and it was onto the binding. I used that nice satin blanket binding you see on kids' blankets. There are cheaper ways to bind a quilt, and easier too - because that satin is slippery - but I absolutely adore it.

It took about two hours to pin it, and another hour to sew - but my quilt was done by bedtime! All in all - this quilt actually took me about a decade to make. That's from when the fabric was originally bought to the final completion.

I have one other quilt started - though the top isn't done yet - hopefully I can finish it quicker...

I think I need another vacation.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Missing mojo

After finishing up the Silver Cardigan, something happened to my knitting mojo - it went MIA.  My plan was to finish the dragonfly socks, but I just couldn't find it in myself to pick them up. In fact - my mojo in general walked out the door. Nothing has been accomplished - not even the quilt.

Annoyed by that fact, I thought maybe starting a new project would help give my mojo a good swift kick in the pants.

So I cast on for a shawl using my new gradient yarn. I got two rows done and ripped it. Tried a different pattern. Riiiiiiiiiiiiip, after just two pattern repeats. Finally I cast on for another Haruni - becuase knitting leaves always makes me happy. It managed to keep my attention for a whole evening, but by the next morning, I was ready to rip it out.

So, I sat down a figured out the math to enlarge the Silver Cardigan for myself.  I pulled some Debbie Bliss pure silk from stash, becuase knitting with silk always makes me happy. I got 10 whole rows done before mojo ran off again.

Obviously I was going to have to resort to desperate measures - maybe I just needed a quick hit. I had yarn waiting to make my niece a hat for Christmas. It might just kill two birds if I could stick to it -  bring the mojo back and knock a present off the list.

So I knit. It was boring... just plain 'ol stocknit. But I kept knitting. And knitting. And knitting. Next thing I know, it's midnight, and Dave's asking me if I'm coming to bed. "Sorry honey - be up in a bit - I just want to finish this hat...."

An hour and a half later...

It's finished. The Robin Hood Hat - embellished with a little bit of whimsy for our punk rock princess.
Skulls....with glitter bows... naturally.

And now, I'm going to give the mojo a break for a few hours and tackle some housework. I might appreciate it even more after scrubbing a few floors.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Half empty or half full?

It's hard to believe that my staycation is already half over. It's a good thing today was a pretty productive one, otherwise, I'd be feeling bad.

First up,  I finished the Silver Cardigan.

It's an absolutely adorable knit. When I started with the purple Fat Cat, my intentions were to use little yellow star buttons I had in my stash. The yellow didn't quite jive when I switched to the red yarn, but I had some little white hearts that would have worked. However, they weren't quite what I wanted. I started looking around and was almost sold on some little lady-bug buttons, but in the end - I really wanted this project to be a total stash project - so I dove back into the button jar and came out with these shiny red ones. I think they are much more classic than lady-bugs would have been.

After finishing the cardigan, there was a trip to the mail box where I found some yarn...
Gedifra Angora Merino. Now, I know I'm on a stashdown, but Nora's mom specifically requested booties and a bonnet in blue Angora, if I could manage it. She's already outgrown the little angora set I made her this spring. Since I didn't have any blue angora left - I had to seek an outside source.

There was another surprise in the mailbox too - this one for Dave.

The pants I ordered for the ceremony. This was a bit of a tricky one.
Dave's not the type to wear dress pants (he won't be wearing a tie either). And if I'm honest, they don't really suit him. I could force him into a pair for the ceremony - but I'd rather he be comfortable.

I think back to my brother's beach wedding - where he wore shorts and a short-sleeve dress shirt and it suited his personality so well. I wanted to do something similar for Dave.

So, after scouring the internet - I came across these funky pinstripe pants. The boot-cut with zipper, and skull buttons (which you can't see), give these pants just enough rock-n-roll umph - I think they are perfect for Dave.

Once the excitement of mail call was over, I tackled my housework - one chore of which was to clean out the cupboard under the stairs. There were no little boy-wizards hanging out in mine, but I did manage to get everything tidy and create easy access to my sewing machine.

You see - one of my main goals this week is to finish a project that has been lingering for years...
 My quilt. I've had the top done forever - it just needed to be layered, pinned and quilted. So, after cleaning my pantry, I got to the layering and pinning. Hopefully I can quilt it on Friday, and finish the binding on Saturday. If I can managed that, I'll count this staycation a success!

And, as you can see - Tux felt the need to help. I really didn't want his help - and actively discouraged it. But Tux is a stubborn kitty.

Of course, it's hard to stay mad at him when he's so darn snuggly.

I think he likes having me home for afternoon naps!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How does your garden grow?

This day of staycation is brought to you by the letter G - for gardening!.

It started with a little errand running, almost all gardening related. I got new pruners (the last pair are lost, but I'm certain they will turn up now that I have new ones), a new hose head (old one was spraying out of spots it shouldn't) and a sprinkler (the poor lawn is dying - literally).

However, I hid inside and knit for the afternoon until it got cool enough to actually get out in the garden. (And even then, I had to take a run through the sprinkler when I was done.)

Long-time readers will recall that I normally chop back the wild roses that grow at the front of my house every spring. This spring however, I didn't get to them. They didn't take over as much as I expected, but they were starting to encroach on the front steps and the side hedge, so I gave them a little trim. (The side hedge could use a trim too -but I'd need a ladder and that's not in the budget)

However, the bulk of the gardening was devoted to removing the giant thistle (and I mean giant - about seven feet tall) that was growing up in the middle of them, as well as other weeds.

It's a little more tame than it was. You'll notice there's a lot less bloomage than there was in the in the pic with Mopar the other day - the result of two weeks with little to no rain. I'm pretty sure these roses could survive a nuclear blast, but they don't bloom well when there is no rain. The grass also looks horrid, but hopefully my new sprinkler will help.

I'm actually seriously considering cutting the roses right back this fall and then removing them completely. I absolutely love the blooms, but they are such a pain to work around. Weeding them is a nightmare - and in that back corner under the hydro metre, there's the prettiest white peony bush that is almost completely hidden. In the spring, there's also an abundance of crocuses, hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils - but you can't really see them. I'd love to take these out and put in a couple of tamer tea roses

While the roses didn't get a full haircut this year, I still managed a nice pile of clippings.

This pile includes the giant thistle, but it's mostly some crazy viney weed that had completely covered the brown utility box behind the pile, as well as a good chunk of the fence. It's not poison ivy, though it looks very similar (I did lots of research on it last year before I started ripping it up in the fall). The neighbour on the other side of the fence had tonnes of it, but it never came over the fence. Then new people moved in the house, and quite rightful, they ripped it all out to put in some proper gardens.

However, since then, it seems to think it can take refuge in my yard! The new pruners made short work of it though.

So now, the lawn is watered, the weeds are ripped, and the roses are under control - I think it's time to get back to the knitting needles!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Little red

I had intended to post yesterday, but by the time I got around to the computer, I decided to wait until today - so I'd have better pics.

You see, when I was watching the monsters... I mean, beautiful children... last weekend, I started a little baby cardigan for Miss Nora. The Silver Cardigan - and I was knitting it up in a lovely, rich purple Fat Cat. I worked away on it Sunday, and was a little more than halfway done when I realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn. Not even close. I could try to dye up another skein, but chances are it wouldn't be a perfect match, and I'd have to alternate rows anyway, which meant frogging.

Since I was going to have to frog either way, I dove back into my stash. I came out with a nice bright red yarn - Dalegarn Svale. It's not my favourite yarn to knit with (I made my colleague's shawl out of some in pink earlier this year and it's very splitty), but this year is all about using up stash isn't it? It's a cotton/viscose/silk blend, which is nice for a baby - the cotton is nice and washable and the silk (just a touch) makes it nice and soft and drapey.
I adore this pattern. I'm already doing the math so I can make a big girl size for myself. I'm thinking Slinky Cat DK... perhaps in some of that pretty Duchess I used on the pinwheel jacket....

And, here's a picture of Mom's cat Deuce, I took while I was there on Saturday:
I love cat toes. And Deuce is extra special because he has extra!