Sunday, September 30, 2012

Surmount the Stash - September Round-up

This month was a decent one, with mostly smaller projects:

Two pairs of socks have been knocked off the to-do list.
The first pair haven already been gifted to Mom, and used up 336 yards of Twisted Fiber Arts Kabam. 
The second pair are tucked away in the Christmas box, and used up up 408 yards of Wollmeise Twin.
Next is the Indian Feather Shawl, which has also been tucked away in the Christmas box.
It used up 427 yards of Queensborough Farm Alpacas Laurel's Lofty (Cashmere, Alpaca, Merino).
The rest is all tiny baby stuff, but every yard counts! First up, hat and booties for baby Nora...
...coming in at 134 yards. And last, the Baby Sophisticate cardi for my cousin's baby... a respectable 228 yards.

So the grand total is 1,533 yards! And I knocked two pairs of socks of my 10-pair sock goal. Not a bad month at all - bring on October!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Caturday!

We're just chillin'... hope you're having a good one!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How does your sweater grow?

There's not much going on here at Chez Wandering Cat - just working and knitting, working and knitting.
I've cast on for the second front of Eileen.

Even though I'm not that far along, this front seems to be going faster than the other front. Weird eh?

And it got me thinking about how I go about sweater knitting. Another blogger I read mentioned that she prefers to knit the sleeves of her sweaters first - so she gets them out of the way and doesn't get the dreaded second sleeve syndrome.

While my favourite way to knit a sweater is top-down with minimal seaming, when I knit a sweater in pieces, I always knit the back first. It's true, most patterns are just written that way, but I do it to get the largest piece out of the way first - once you've done the biggest swath of knitting, I find the smaller pieces with less stitches just seem to fly by.

How do you like to knit your sweaters?

And just because I can. Here's a picture of Tux.

Using his sister's butt as a pillow....

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Hero

Well - there's no doubt about it - fall is definitely here. Several people I know reported frost overnight... the perfect weather for knit socks. 

And since I just cast off a pair....
The pattern is John Huston, the tarnished hero - and I'm knitting them in Top Cat - colour is Cohiba, which I flashed yesterday. Every time I knit with Top Cat, I'm amazed at how much I love it. That touch of cashmere just makes the soft merino that much better.

Again, my photography skills are really not doing Mom's dye job justice, though you can see touches of blue and grey.

I'm loving the pattern so far  - it's more intricate that anything I've done on socks before, but not overly difficult. However, because of that, I've cast on for a pair of plain old vanillas for work knitting.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

C'est fini

After yesterday's post, it will come as no surprise to see a picture of the finished Berry Hill socks.
What I didn't tell you was, they were Mom's birthday present (which is coming up this week), so today I took them up to her along with some homemade cupcakes.

While I was up there I also snagged some yarn I recently dyed, including three skeins of Desert Cat in Dormouse....
 It's a lovely warm grey that's destined to become the softest cardigan ever!

And a skein of Top Cat in Cohiba....
The picture really does not do this one justice. It's one of Mom's creations, and it's a gorgeous brown with undertones of green, blue, grey and more. There are two more skeins of it that will be going in the shop in our next update. (Details coming soon)

This one is already becoming Dave's Christmas socks.. but more on that in another post.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I just knit the crap out of this sock

Many non-knitter have asked me how long it takes me to knit something (a knitter knows this is a silly question - every project is different, and it's not about the time.) It's hard to give an answer, not just because of the fact that projects vary, but because knitting is so often done in little spurts of time. A row or two here, a pattern repeat there - some projects seem to drag and others just fly by. It's too hard to quantify.

However, I can now tell them, that when I stick to it, I can knit a sock in a day.

It was not my intention when I got up this morning, but the cold is still kicking my butt, so I didn't have motivation to do much else but knit. It's hard to tell from that picture, as the foot is curling back a bit, but that second sock is just three inches from the toe.

I'm going to go pop a cake in the oven, and get back to it - Dave and I have a few episodes of the Borgias left to watch, so I'll be grafting the toe before bed!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Down but not out

I was home from work today with a bad cold that's been circulating around the office. Since I was confined to the couch for most of the day, I decided to make good use of the time I wasn't napping.

I got the first front of Eileen onto the blocking board.

And then I finished up the first Berry Hill sock.

I also took some time to play with Peno and her boa wand while the boys were sleeping the morning away upstairs. 
We don't often get much of chance to play - Peno is not a team player and Rocky loves to interfere.I think she enjoyed it - she napped for the entire afternoon afterwards.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just a sock

There hasn't been a tonne of time for stitchin the last few days... just lots of work and other things. I've started the cardigan fronts, but not far enough for an exciting picture.

The only other thing I've been working on is that at-work socks.

This is my Berry Hill pattern  - I'm using some Twisted Fibre Arts Kabam that's been kicking around in the stash for a year or two - the colourway is Warlock. As a dyer, I don't often go after other hand-dyed yarns. TFA is one of the exceptions. While I don't love all her colourways, her dyeing is fantastic! I have another skein of lovely autumnal colours called Netherfield.

In non-knitting news. I got bored and dyed my hair black.

I'm feeling very Wednesday Adams... and I like it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

This is how it starts...

When I was a teenager, my brother's old girlfriend bought my Mom a pair of pajamas with sheep on them for her birthday - you know, because she's a knitter. I thought it was cute so I bought Mom a stuffed sheep. Next thing you know, other people are buying Mom sheep (okay, a lot of it was me....) and about 100 sheep (and one wolf...) later, Mom had to say, STOP!.

I think I may have started the same kind of thing for myself... but with Hello Kitty. Several of my coworkers know I have a special Hello Kitty sticker on the back of my car....

And I recently needed a new purse, so I picked up this one.. well as smaller one for my niece's upcoming birthday, on lunch a few weeks ago. Well... it seems to have started a thing... on Friday, a coworker brought this in for me....
 She was part of a special promotion M.A.C. Cosmetics did a while back. I gotta say... I love her shoes.

And this morning when I got in, another coworker presented me with this...
Adorable! Now.. once I get that cardigan finished, I think I'll be knitting some fingerless mitts as thank-yous!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Little finishes

 Taadaa... the cardigan back is blocking....
Now.... I really wanted to cast on for the cardigan front, but I decided it would be prudent to get a few WIPs  behind me while I had the time.

So, I finished the toe on the second Wollmeise sock

(Sorry for the crappy pic - neither my camera nor model were cooperating...)That's another Christmas present down and now I can pick a new pair of socks to work on over lunch.

Next, I put the sleeves and collar on the baby cardi:

This will be mailed up to my cousin this week. It should arrive just about the same time her baby does.

Once that was done, I finished up a hat for Nora
... and that's the last item done for her, so I can package everything up and get it to her daddy.

All in all, it was a productive weekend.... and there's still a few hours left to knit... so I might cast on for a cardigan front after all....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Secrets to my success

One of the questions I get asked frequently is... how do you knit so much, so fast? I don't think I'm a particularly fast knitter, however, I do have more time to devote to it than most people I think. This is because:

1) I don't have children. Well, I do.. but they look like this:

And they are quite content to curl up in a pile of yarn right alongside me.

2) I'm a horrible housekeeper. I have no problem neglecting the sweeping, mopping, laundry, dusting... whatever... in favour of knitting. Speaking of which, I think I'm running out of clean underpants....

3) I do cook, but only on the weekends (week nights Dave and I are different schedules, so it's usually fend for yourself and I end up eating cereal or chips). When I do cook, I've mastered the "set it and forget it" meal (aka slowcooker) or it's a quick-fix meal - prepped and cooked in 30 minutes.

4) Because I cook, Dave cleans the kitchen.

5) When the knitting bug bites hard (which is frequently), I'm more than happy to neglect all other hobbies (drawing, sewing, crafting, writing etc) for it.

6) I have a steady supply of tv shows and movies on DVD and completely control over the remote (seriously, I don't think Dave even knows how to work the DVD player) so I've always got something to watch, which I find makes it easier to engage in knitting for long periods.

7) When I'm sitting and knitting, Dave is more than happy to blow up zombies or sink battleships, so there's no interference from that corner.

8) I don't have much of a social life. Most of our friends live and hour or more away, so we only get together every few months. And I've always been more happy chilling at home than out partying.

9) I'm able to knit at work. I eat my lunch at my desk while I'm working and then I have a full hour to sit and knit - it's just too bad my work wasn't easier to commute by train to - I'd have even more time to knit!

So basically, I do nothing but knit....and now... I have a full weekend of it planned.... so I better get to it!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nearly there

I was hoping to be able to show you a picture of the back of Eileen blocking today... but I'm not quite there yet. Today's knitting time was eaten up by gym time and grocery time... and now it's late and I have to have a bath and make tomorrow's lunches before bed.

So this is all you get:

Just two more inches to go and the first piece of the cardi is done - almost 1/3 of the way there!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cardigan weather

I should be finishing my cousin's baby sweater (baby is due at the beginning of October).
And I should be knitting Nora a hat to go with her Baby Janes. (I promised her Daddy I would).
And I should be working on Christmas presents (I have lots to do).
And I should be deciding what I'm going to knit for Mom's birthday present (it's the 26th).
And I should be working on one of the six other WIPs I have on the go....

But I'm not.

Instead I cast on for a cardigan....

The cardigan is Eileen Cardigan from 2010 Knitty Deep Fall.

I'm using Madeline Tosh Erin Heritage Wool - and it looks nothing like my progress picture above. That pic shows the detail nicely, but the colour is more like this...
... an nice warm grey. Being aran weight, it's knitting up fairly quickly. I'm debating whether I put a zipper in, as the pattern calls for, or add a button band. Those wooden buttons I bought a few months back would be perfect.....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Change of plans

You may remember that I recently finished up a stealth project. It was suppose to be for Mom's birthday, hence the secrecy. However, as soon as I got it off the blocking board and around my neck, I knew it was no good. Mom and I are both very sensitive to itch.... and this yarn had it.
 The yarn is Queensborough Farm Alpacas Laurel's Lofty - It's an alpaca/cashmere/merino blend. Mom got it in a Ravelry trade. I dyed it a nice garnet a few months ago. It was really nice to knit with - a little rustic, but still felt soft - just not so nice to wear

But all is not lost. It's now going to be gifted to Dave's grandma for Christmas. She's not as sensitive as Mom and I, and quite often wears her scarves outside of her coat.

A little bit about the pattern....

The pattern is Indian Feathers  - a nice quick knit. It only took about a week - and most of the knitting was done over a weekend.
  I think it's definitely more of a scarf than a shawlette. The pattern calls for just a few beads in the centre of each feather, but I added more. I chose a dark purple bead to stand out against the garnet yarn.

So, that's another skein out of the stash and another project in the Christmas box.... but I still have to figure out what to get Mom for her birthday....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Itty bitty

I finally managed to get some pictures of the Baby Janes I finished up last week.

This yarn was a bit of a stash enhancement. I'd made Little Miss Nora a pair several months back in some blue angora I had in my stash. Her Mom loved them so much, she asked for another pair, just bigger. But that was the last of the blue angora.... so yarn shopping it was. And besides, it's hard to say no to a face like this...

This week, what little knitting time I've had has been spent on Baby Sophisticate.
Just the sleeves and the collar left. I should be able to finish it up this weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Non-labourious day

It's a holiday Monday here in Canada, and this morning Dave and I woke up and looked at each other and said "What do you want to do?" - the reply, "I don't know - what do you want to do?"

The conversation didn't get any further than that....I went downstairs and made French toast and sausage for breakfast, fed the circling sharks (aka - kitty squad), then I sat down on the couch with my knitting, Dave pulled up to the computer and started sinking battleships... and that's pretty much how the day went.

I did take some time to throw a roast in the slow cooker (I was all worked up about using my new gravy boat - only to discover I had no Bisto...pooh!), but mostly we just chilled.

I finished the stealth project I was working - it's now blocking.  Then I started a baby cardi for my cousin's impending arrival. It's amazing how fast eight months has gone by (though I know she feels the exact opposite - it's been one seriously long hot summer for her.)

I'm doing Baby Sophisticate in Sirdar Tiny Tots. I was sorely tempted to dye something up for this, but the Tiny Tots has been in the stash for a long time. I promised I'd make her something green for the little guy so this is perfect. I'm also thinking I'll whip together a few pairs of baby socks.

And an update on my vase....I've filled her with wild roses.....
 ... and discovered a little more about her. After I finished posting last night, I did a little more digging on the gravy boat (which I discovered was made in Hamilton!) I decided to see what I could find out about the lovely lady as well.

It turns out some of these ladies are quite valuable. They were made by several different companies (most in Japan) between 1940 and 1970. As mine has no markings on the bottom, it's hard to tell which. Apparently that's not uncommon either - several of the manufacturers used paper labels, and mine is obviously long gone.

It's amazing how many of these heads are out there.... literally dozens of styles.There were different types of finishes, some have hands, some have pearl or rhinestone jewelry... I search page after page, but couldn't find a lady that looked like mine.

I doubt mine is worth very much, especially with her blue nose... but I think she looks just perfect on my TV stand with a nice bouquet of flowers in her hat!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Garage sale-ing

On of the reasons August was so busy for me, was because Dad and I were preparing to do a large garage sale.

While he had some stuff he wanted to get rid of, he didn't really have enough for a yard sale. I however, had more than enough, but lacked a proper yard (mine is very small and the way the townhouses sit, not ideal). So, we decided to combine forces, and I spent a good portion of August going through and sort what to sell. In the end, I had two car loads full of stuff to tote up to his yard.

Yesterday morning, I was up before the sun and on my way to Mom and Dad's. We ended up with a fantastic day for a yard sale. The neighbours across the street joined in, and with several other sales in the area, plus the local fair, we had quite a bit of traffic.

The end result was a nice profit to split between the two of us, about half our stuff gone (the majority of what's left will be donated, with a few items to go on Kijiji ... anyone need a car stereo?)

It feels good to get rid of so much, but I do have to admit... I might have brought a couple of things home. As I was unpacking the boxes my Dad had, putting everything out for sale - I came across this.

From my earliest memories, this modest little gravy boat has been part of our family dinners.When I was a kid, every Sunday Mom made a roast for dinner - chicken, beef, venison, moose - it didn't matter - the gravy was always in this boat. It was a staple at every holiday from my childhood.

A few years back, mom got a different gravy carafe, and I didn't think much about this one. As soon I  realized it was up for grabs, I walked it right back up to the house, telling my father it was not for sale. In my defense,  I don't actually have a gravy boat - Dave and I just use a coffee mug - but not any more!

If I remember my family history correctly, it came from an antique shop that was once owned by my great aunt and uncle. Mom and Dad got a few things from them when they were just starting out on their own - including the dining room table and chairs that they still use.

I don't know much about the history of the boat itself... but the bottom looks like this:

Perhaps some one out in blogland can tell me something about it. A quick internet search only gave me listings from Ebay and Kijiji - but nothing about the maker itself.

Regardless of its larger historical value - it means a lot to me. Now if only I could get my gravy to taste as good as Mom's... and maybe perfect my Yorkshire pudding....

Another thing I came home with was this lovely lady:

I didn't really need her in quite the same way as I needed the gravy boat - but she has a little history too.

When I was about seven years old, my Great Aunt Jess died. My grandparents helped my uncle clean out the house - because you see, Jess was a bit of a pack rat. I can remember my grandparents unloading box upon box off stuff. Most of it was fabric and crafty things. Mom made three or four quilts from it, I got a huge collection of embroidery floss, and there were bits of ribbon and lace and other trim, that ended up in a variety of crafty projects over the years.

But there were also plenty of what my Dad calls "dust collectors" - bits of Blue Mountain pottery, knick knacks, and of course - this pretty Gibson girl. She's actually a vase, and I remember using her to enter a flower arrangement from my garden in the local fair.

I know nothing else about her (including how her nose ended up a little blue). She has no markings on her - and I've never seen another vase like her.

And I'm thinking she'll look just perfect with a hat full of wild roses from my front yard!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

New month, new yarn and a pattern sale

Just a quick post to let you know... Mom updated the the shop this morning with lots of gorgeous Desert Cat.

She also put up our newest kitten...
Introducing "Twisted" Top Cat. It's our same great Top Cat fibre content (Merino/Cashmere/Nylon) but with a nice tight twist!

AND - from now until September 7, you can save 25% off every pattern in my Ravelry Store. No coupon code necessary - the discounted price will come up when you add it to your cart!

Also, if you'd like a chance to win my Morning Glory pattern - check out Minding My Own Stitches before Monday!