Thursday, January 31, 2013

A stroke of genius

As you may recall, I usually use my lunch hours at work to get a little knitting done - usually socks. And as you may also recall, I'm hoping to complete at least one afghan this year. And I just happen to have one started... one that's simple and made of sock yarn!

It's the perfect lunch hour project, small, portable and easy. The pattern is the Barn Raising Quilt. Each square takes a couple of hours. I'm using up all my self-striping leftovers for this one.

My squares are approximately six inches - so if I do at least one square a week - I'll have the blanket ready to sew up in December - it's brilliant!

Monday, January 28, 2013

I hate this sock. I love this sock.

I feel like I've fallen into a black hole of projects that never grow.

I've already mentioned how slow the hat is going. But since it's just stockinette stitch for a while, it's a good travel project, so I've turned my attention to the Hero socks.

When I picked them up last night, I had three repeats of the chevron pattern complete - I needed two more before starting the heel. I should have the heel done in no time - right????

WRONG!!!! After HOURS of knitting last night, and hours tonight (an extra hour, in fact, because the bad weather meant I worked from home, so no commuting) I've only just completed the heel.

As much as I love the look of cables, and this pattern in particular, I'm really not all that fond of executing them.

They just take so much time! (The yarn overs and decreases of lace are so much smoother and go so quickly!) And - this pattern has several cables EVERY ROW!!! There are no rest rows.

And naturally, the designer has very cleverly continued the cabled chevrons all the way down the foot! (Don't get me wrong - it looks amazing and it's one of the reasons I love this pattern. 

This sock feels absolutely interminable! And I'm only on the first one!!!

I almost chucked it in a frogged the whole thing. Then I almost chucked it in and modified the pattern to do just ribbing down the foot.

Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself that the reason I like this sock is the pattern. And Dave's going to love it too.

And when it really gets to me - I just stop and pet it. Cashmere makes everything better... right?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

These aren't the knits you're looking for.

Yes... I was a very good girl and got R2 off the needles, as promised.

It still needs buttons, and about a hundred ends sewn in, but I'm still calling it finished. I'll pick up some buttons on payday and get the rest done, then deliver it to the little guy.

I got quite a bit of dyeing done this weekend - 24 skeins with some Continental Cat, Fat Cat and Twisted Slinky. And when I wasn't turning my hands different colours, I was knitting my hat.

I've knit like a fiend on this one, but it's still very slow going for a hat. The combination of fine yarn and 2mm needle (yep - not 2.5 or 2.75 - but 2.00!!!) make for a very slow knit. And as much as I really want to keep working on this, there's one project that's making me feel guilty about it.
The long neglected Tarnished Hero socks, I started for Dave in September! I'm still on the first one and not even to the heel. Valentine's is just around the corner, and Celtic Cast On has a sock KAL starting soon that I'd really like to get in on.

Sigh....So much to knit... so little time!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

FO: Embossed Leaves socks.

As promised, here are the Embossed Leaves socks. With the lighting and variegation in the yarn, it was hard to get a good pic of the stitch pattern.

Embossed Leaves is a pattern I've had in my queue forever. It just needed the perfect shade of green. I found that in Pinewood - a colour Mom created when we got our first shipment of Twisted Top Cat. I love it - it's a has varying shades deep green with touches of brownish-green.

The Twisted Top Cat is a joy to knit with. Soft and warm like our regular Top Cat, but with a high twist that adds that extra sproing!

The pattern is very easy - and one of those patterns just seem to make the knitting fly by. I made a few small mods: 1) the cuffs are shorter - only about 4 inches (and just the way I like them!). 2) The foot has a star toe, but I just continued the pattern right to the end.
This pic is a little blurry, but it shows the stitches nicely.  The socks are on my feet now, and they are keeping everything nice and toasty! Now... what should I do for my next socks?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Okay... maybe the force is not so strong.

 I did manage to get one sleeve completed on poor little R2 before I caved....

and yep - I've cast on for the Cranberry Bonnet.

In my defense - I've just come off knitting with Twisted Top Cat (Merino/Cashmere/Nylon). The Skinny Bugga was just sitting there looking so soft (it's the same blend, slightly different twist). The R2 sweater is knit with Regia. While it's an absolute workhorse of a yarn, it's not the softest to work with (though it does soften and bloom after washing) - definitely not compared to yarns with a touch of cashmere...

I promise, I'll be a good girl tomorrow and fiinsh R2... but for tonight... I just want a little softness.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Must... resist... the dark side

The Embossed Leaves are off the needles....

A better picture and FO post will follow this weekend.

In the mean time, I want to get the R2D2 cardigan done. But I'm having a little trouble with temptation....

You see, last weekend when I was up at Mom's, I helped her go through her stash and select some yarns to purge in a little destash. I got the fun of playing devil's advocate whenever she tried to put a skein back into the stash... and I got a little reward....

A skein of Skinny Bugga in Tattoo Dragonfly. I want to turn it into the Cranberry Bonnet. I even have the perfect beads...

... but... no... I have to get those sleeves on....

...but look at that yarn.... and the beads... and... must... resist... Remember... R2...

I can't do it! The force is strong with this one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheshire smile

With Aeolian off the needles, I was itching to start a new shawl. Last year was relatively light on shawls (only six shawls made, compared to nine in 2011 and 10  in 2010). And there are so many shawls I want to knit, and many I want to design. (Ideally, I'd like to knit a shawl a month, but I doubt it will happen.)

After putting Aeolian on the blocking board, I decided to start working on a new design. I was only a few rows in when I realized the yarn and colour weren't going to jive with my vision. So I frogged it. (The proper yarn will be dyed this weekend.)

But... I had two skeins of Slinky Cat already caked and waiting to become the Stray Cat shawl.

I've chosen Peacock (darker) and Aqua for my colours.The picture doesn't show it well, but the Peacock is actually a combo of dark green, purple, blue and turquoise - another of Mom's creations and one of our most popular colourways.

I had the peacock in my stash  and dyed the aqua to go with it. I was debating between colours - I was torn between a nice deep purple, or a bright emerald green, and the aqua. In the end, I'm glad I chose aqua - the combo reminds me of Tim Burton's Cheshire Cat - who I love!

I was a little nervous at first with this pattern. I've never done a crescent shawl like this before, and I wasn't sure how the increases were going to work. The pattern looked a little daunting, and I thought I was really going to have to pay attention. But the instructions are very clear and well-written, and once you get going, it's not too hard to get in a rhythm.The majority of the increase are cleverly hidden by twisting the stitches - it's brilliant!

The pattern has four sizes - I'm making the medium which should be a nice 67 inches or so wide. I would have liked to make the next size up (72 inches) but that would have meant dyeing up more yarn.

I actually haven't worked on this since the weekend. I've been concentrating on getting my Embossed Leaves socks off the needles. I'm getting close - and good thing - I'm dying to get back to the shawl!

Monday, January 21, 2013

FO: Tea Leaves

As promised, I give you the Tea Leaves collaboration! 
I love this pattern! I think it's the round yoke, but it fits me so well. This one is a little larger than the one I made for myself. Mom likes her sweaters a little looser than I, so it's one size up. And it grew a little when I blocked it.
She also prefers her sweaters longer, so it's several inches longer than mine. I have a short waist and wide hips, long sweaters don't normally work for me, but since this one is open, it's not too bad - just a little big, but definitely wearable.
One thing we do agree on is sleeve length. We both have long arms, so adding an inch or two extra is imperative!
This one was knit in Madeline Tosh Vintage. The colourway is Rosewood and I absolutely love it. I have a soft spot for warm browns, and this one has lovely specks of blush and sage, which makes it even better. I have a skein left over and I plan to make a pretty, nostalgic-style hat out of it.

And, as shown before, I ended up using birch wood buttons from the Woodlot. While not what I was planning on, I think they work very well, playing off the reddish tones in the yarn.

And before any of you ask... yep - I wear glasses. Well, sort of. I started wearing them in school because I couldn't read the chalk-board from the back of the room (and who wants to sit at the front?). I wear them to drive now, though my visions is decent enough that I don't legally need them. Mostly, I just use them as sunglasses when the top is down on the car (they are Transitions). The rest of the time, I just walk around slightly blind. The reason I had them on during the shoot was to hide the horrible bags under my eyes from being sick and not sleeping well.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

FO: Aeolian

I'm still not feeling great, but I had to get out of the house today. After three days of barely leaving the couch, I just couldn't stand to stay there any more. So I headed up to Mom's to get some shots of Aeolian and Tea Leaves. Tea Leaves will come tomorrow, but here's my new favourite shawl. It was very cold out, with a biting wind, so I had to work very quickly to get these pics.

The pattern is Aeolian, one that's been in my queue forever! I used a lovely matte topaz coloured bead, but the shawl isn't as beaded as the pattern calls for.

The pattern has beading on the first set of leaves, but when I started the shawl, I didn't have beads for it. But as the rows grew, I knew I definitely wanted to include them, so I made a special trip to get them.  I'm quite pleased with the amount of beads though. I think more would have been too much and would have slowed my progress exponentially.
The yarn is out new Solo Cat, and the colour is Mulled Cider (as I'm writing this, there's still a skein in the shop). It's a single-ply merino with a nice tight twist, which means it will hold up better than less twisted single-plys, and gives beautiful stitch definition. You will definitely see me make more projects with it. Right now Mom is knitting a pair of fingerless gloves from it. (And I'm very sorry I didn't keep the second skein of that colourway!)
I ended up using about 700 yards, so it's a good sized shawl - probably one of the largest I've made. I had a little trouble blocking out the edges, but overall, I'm happy with it.

And, for the curious... last night after posting, I started working on a new design. I ended up frogging after just a few rows - the yarn just isn't right for what I have in mind. So instead I started the Stray Cat shawl. I'll share more with you later. Tonight, however, I'm going to be a good girl and cast on the second Embossed Leaves sock so I can get it off the needles before the end of the month.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

This, that and the other...

Thank you all for sharing your wonderful "first sock" stories!

Still under the weather here,  and Dave is working then off to a hockey game, so it's still couch, cats and resting for me.

I took the opportunity to finish up a few things that have been piling up over the month. Aeolian is blocking...
As you can see, Tux has taken over inspection duties while the regular inspector (Rocky) is napping.

I finished up the handspun socks I started on New Year's Eve.
Just slightly fraternal. I used yarn spun by Smoking Hot Needles, and black House Cat for the heels and toes.

And, I sewed some buttons on the Tea Leave's cardigan
Some of you may note that those are, indeed, not the buttons I was planning on. The lovely copper blossoms did arrive, but sadly, were a smidge too small. These are buttons I got from the Woodlot last year. They match well and I still have seven buttons left for another cardigan. I'll find another use for the copper buttons, don't worry!

And now, I'm left with a decision... finish another WIPs (likely the embossed leaves socks), work on a new design, or cast on for the Stray Cat shawl.....

Friday, January 18, 2013

You never forget your first socks...

It's official. I've got the sick. I've been home since yesterday with it. I've got my feet up, my cats cuddled, and I ain't moving till I feel better.
And looking at those feet got me thinking.... Those are the oldest pair of socks I own. They were knit in 2006 - by Mom, not by me. I was knitting at the time - but not on DPNs, not with fingering weight yarn, and definitely not lace! (oh how we laugh about that now...) I saw the Hedera pattern in Knitty, and I just had to have them (really, I think it was the shoes that got me...) and I had to have them in pink! I'd never asked Mom to knit me socks before (everything else, yes - but I didn't see the allure of knitted socks... yet...) so she was more than happy to.

I wore them constantly, most often with a nice pair of black Mary Janes and a flirty skirt. It surprised me at first how many people noticed my socks were hand made - but then, you can't get socks like that at the store, can you?

They are still one of my favourite pairs. You can't tell by the picture, but one is a little duller than the other. I accidentally washed one with my darks one day, so it has a bit of a grey cast to it. Doesn't stop me from wearing them.

Mom's stitch-perfection still amazes me. And there's not a hole or worn spot to be seen. (The yarn is Fortissma Socka, for those who are interested - not the softest yarn out there, but not uncomfortable by any means and certainly hard-wearing).

Two years later, I was ready to knit socks myself.  And my first socks....

... a pair for Dave. (Seriously... who makes their first pair for a man with giant feet??? It's a wonder I ever made another pair!) It was a Fibre Trends basic sock pattern, which was fantastic, except for the hideous round toe. (I wasn't ready for grafting yet...) The yarn was Opal Cotton and I don't recommend it. Unlike me, Dave doesn't still have his first pair of socks because they stretched so large they'd fit a baby elephant!

Do you remember your first socks (knit by you or otherwise)?

PS... I heard a rumour that the shop had been updated with fantastic new yarns... including SoloCat...
...which I can tell you is a fantastic shawl yarn... Aeolian is almost off the needles!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sweet surprise

Last night after work I went to my mailbox, hoping against hope that my buttons would be there. (They are coming from California, so it will probably be at least a week more - but a girl can hope right...?)

Well, my buttons weren't there, but there was an enormous box. When I got it inside, I tore into it eagerly, discovering a very sweet surprise from my friend Natalie

A whole kilo of fresh honey from her very own bees, handmade soap, and knitterly buttons. This awesome parcel was a thank-you for the Bee beret I made her last year.
Dave immediately got into the honey when he got home and has declared it the best honey ever! Thank you so much Natalie!

(ETA.... the buttons arrived today! They got shipped to Mom because I used the company Paypal! Ha!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tea and Cider

It's a dreary rainy Sunday here, so with the exception of a little housework, I'm curled up on the couch with Miss Peno and my knitting. Poor Dave is off at work, but I've got a nice roast cooking, ready for when he walks in the door at dinnertime.

What am I working on, you ask? I should really be working on Baby Logan's cardigan. I've got to get those sleeves on and to him before he outgrows it. He's been busy making the rounds to all the family. I'm think I'll try to finish it and meet him next weekend.
(Logan, proud daddy Sean, and Great Aunt Rhonda, aka my Mom)

But instead I'm working away on my Aeolian shawl.

As you can see, I decided to go with the topaz beads.I think any of them would have worked well, and it was a really tough choice. But I don't regret it.

I'm almost to the beginning of the edge charts. Part of me likes to think I'll finish it today, but the realistic side of me is saying next weekend. Those edge charts are massive!

In other knitting news, the Tea Leaves cardigan is done and blocking

I finished it up on Thursday, and now I'm just waiting for the buttons. Honestly, the waiting is killing me, because I really want to wear it now. Not that it's exactly sweater weather... yesterday it was 14 degrees Celsius... I was sorely tempted to put the top down on the car! They say temps are dropping tomorrow though, so maybe by the time they come we'll have some snowy, blustery days!

How are you spending your Sunday?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Busy little beavers

Mom and I were quite busy in the studio today. She dyed a little, while I got some new yarns ready for the shop. We did inventory, and as a result, marked a few skeins down. You can find them in the sale section of the shop.

Last week I showed off our new Solo Cat. We've got two other new yarns to bring out as well. The next up is Twisted Slinky Cat.
Like our regular slinky, it's a super soft blend of merino and silk (80/20 in this version) but with a nice tight twist.  It feels fantastic, but the really great thing about it is the size of the skein - at 150g, it has a whopping 600 yards! Perfect for making a nice large shawl out of just one skein. I brought one of the green skeins home, but I'm resisting the urge to cast on until I finish Aeolian.

This will be in the shop within the next few days, along with some new Solo Cat, Alley Cat, Alley Cat BFL,  Stray Cat, Aristocat and more! I've dyed up some nice bright skeins to beat those January blues!

Alley BFL in "Rainbow Brite"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Goal tending

You may have noticed that I haven't posted about any 2013 goals yet, though we're quickly closing in on the middle of the month.

I debated on having any goals this year. In 2011 my goal was to manage my WIPs (and resist the pressure of knitting for others). Last year was all about the stash down with a few "project" goals thrown in. So I thought about just letting it all go and not make any goals. But to be honest, I flounder without goals and by the end of January, I'd end up with 20 more projects cast on, the stash mutating out of the studio and a bottomless Ravelry queue.

So... knitting goals for 2013....

1) I'm continuing with the stash down, though I probably won't do a monthly report. I think I'll just get one of those yardage tickers. Honestly, this goal won't be hard to meet... the budget doesn't allow for many yarn splurges (though I do have a gift certificate to the Needle Emporium burning a hole in my pocket) and.. I have almost unlimited access to hand-dyed yarn because - WCY DOESN'T COUNT!! (I love that little caveat!)

2) I'm knitting from the queue, as much as possible. I try to keep my queue to reasonable limits - no more than three pages. And I'd love to add some new things, so it's time to knit, knit, knit from the queue. Among the patterns I really hope to complete this year:

Icarus has been in the queue FOREVER. It's one of the reasons I learned to knit lace. I started it once, but got very distracted and frogged it. I also don't think it was a wise choice for an almost-first lace project. I have some lovely white silk just waiting for this project - and some pretty pearl beads too!

Eve's Ribs

I wanted to knit this last year and never got to it. It's one of those patterns that's just so ME!. I have some Cascade natural alpaca that would be lovely for it. But I'm very tempted to dye up some Top Cat Aran. Decisions, decisions!

Susie's Reading Mitts

This is one of those project that would be so quick to do, but I just never seem to get to. I've been saving the left over Zara so they match my Wildwood Beret.


Another pattern I've loved since forever! I have several skeins of yarn in the stash that would be perfect for this. It boggles my mind how I haven't knit them already

I'd also like to knit a skirt  - I have several patterns queued but I can't decide. And I'd like to finish an afghan. If I do accomplish this goal, it will most likely be the Barn Raising Quilt I have on the go, though I do have enough yarn to knit Yggdrasil...

3) I'm going to resist startitis... Just like 2011, I'd like to keep the WIPs undercontrol... with no more than five projects on the go at any one time. At the beginning and end of each month, I'll do a little WIP check in - just to keep me honest.

So... here's the first WIP check in.

As of January 11, I have 8 WIPs on the go.... three pairs of socks, two cardigans for myself, a baby cardi, a shawl and an afghan. By February 1st, I pledge to have completed two pairs of socks (the Embossed Leaves socks, the handspun socks_), the Aeolian shawl, the R2D2 cardigan - and I get bonus points if I complete my upsized Silver cardigan.

Now that's some serious goal tending!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A kitty of a contest

One of the things I love about the internet is how easy it is to connect to the knitting community. I probably wouldn't be designing patterns or selling yarn if it wasn't for Ravelry and blogging. Another cool aspect is the way it connects designers and yarnies. As you may know, WCY has been used by a few designers, including the uber-talented Anna Dalvi.

And just before Christmas, I was contacted by Kristina Vilimaite AKA AnimaKnits. She was about to release a new shawl pattern and wanted to do a very unique KAL
 As the pattern is called "Stray Cat", and the KAL included some divine feline inspriation, she thought a little bit of WCY would make a suitable prize for the KAL winners. I agreed, and in the end, we've donated two $35 gift certificates for the KAL. 

So... if you'd like to make a Stray Cat shawl (before March 11), and you'd like a chance to win a WCY gift certificate.... get on over the the Anima Knitting club group...  
I'll be knitting a Stray Cat shawl myself.... I just have to choose the yarn....  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tea and roses

Not long after I finished my Tea Leaves cardigan a few years back, Mom decided she wanted one as well.
She ordered some beautiful Madeline Tosh Vintage in a gorgeous colour called Rosewood...
...and got started. She knit and knit and knit... and then like most knitters, set the project aside. I bugged her and bugged her to finish it. (Mom has a habit of knitting sweaters than not liking them, so there was  good chance I could steal it!) But the months went by and still the poor cardigan languished. I even offered to finish it for her.

On Christmas day, while we were sitting around enjoying our presents, she asked me if I'd like the cardigan. She'd give it to me as is, and I could finish it for myself. I told her I was more than happy to finish it and give it to her - but she wasn't that sure she liked it anymore. She's not a huge fan of worsted weight sweaters, preferring lighter ones. She wasn't sure if she liked the open style. She wasn't all that happy with the way the yarn was knitting up - it's the curse of the hand-dyed yarn - it can be tricky to get even colour on a large project due to skein variations - and even though she was alternating skeins, she wasn't thrilled with the variation.

So I said sure, I'd gladly take the poor neglected cardigan off her hands. I picked it up on the weekend while I was there...

Yep - that's all that's left to be done - barely half a sleeve and the button bands! Can you believe it??? That's almost an instant sweater! (and I think the skeins mixed pretty evenly...) I'm probably going to have to go down a needle size to match mom's uber-perfect tension though (seriously.... it's so perfect it's evil)

I'm going to try and finish the knitting this weekend - then it's just waiting for the most gorgeous buttons I just ordered.....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Going solo

Very soon, we will be releasing a few new yarns. One of them is Solo Cat, a delicious fingering weight single ply merino. Mom dyed up this gorgeous browny-red colour and I just had to try it out

As soon as I got it home last night - I cast on for the Aeolian shawl. I've actually knit and frogged Aeolian twice, but I think this time it's going to stick.
I just have to decide which beads to use. I'm leaning toward the more topaz-y ones at the top. What do you think?