Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spinning Color!

My shipment from Blue Moon Fiber Arts arrived yesterday, and I picked it up after work. It was such a dreary and rainy day yesterday and I couldn't help by start spinning this ---

It's from roving in a Sheep to Shoe kit in the Sherbet colorway. I assure you that this colorway will brighten even the darkest day.

The fiber is 100% superwash merino - which I hadn't spun before - but I really enjoy spinning it. It's very easy to spin.

I was most worried about splitting the roving evenly into 3 vertical strips, but all my worry was for nothing, and everything split easily and evenly on the first try.

I am 2/3rds of the way through the 1st strip of roving, and I'll probably get this portion finished tonight.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Toe Up...

I am using my new Knitpicks metal dpns for the first time, and I am really enjoying them. The tips are nice and sharp, but not puncture your finger sharp, and the shiny metal looks pretty with the yarn. The surface of these needles is also slippery, but not too slippery.

I'm using my basic toe up sock recipe, but with the type of short row toe that Cat Bordhi demonstrates on youtube.com. There is not one visible wrap or one tiny hole in this toe. The only different thing I do is when I slip the stitch to wrap it, I slip purlwise, even though Cat says to do it knitwise. I've tried both ways, and for me slipping knitwise leaves a bit of a hole.

Cat's short rows have made me a total toe up / short row convert.

I'm using 2.25mm needles for this sock and the yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100 Cotton Maya in color number 7026. The blend of this yarn is 45% cotton, 45% wool, and 10% polyamide. It's a nice blend and it feels very soft and smooth.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Start As You Mean To Go On...

Those who listen to Cast On will recognize these wise words as words often spoken by Brenda Dayne.

Today is my birthday and as I start my first day as a 25 year old, I have decided that this will be my theme for my coming year.

I kicked off this morning by starting as I mean to go on.

I woke up early and sat my butt down at the spinning wheel and by the end I had finished the first bobbin of singles for the sock yarn I'm going to making (it's been sitting mostly done for a month now). I'll spare you yet another picture of this stuff, since it looks the same as it did in the linked post.

Then I decided to spin a bobbin of thick and thin yarn out of some 100% BFL roving that I picked up from Yummy Yarn a few weeks ago.

100g of 100%BFL dyed by Yummy Yarn

After all that spinning I went for a nice early morning walk up to Starbucks and started my 25th year off with a Caramel Machiato.

Just as I was about to start getting ready to go over to my parents' house for my B-Day brunch, I got a phone call ---- It was my bestest friend in the whole world, Martin, calling from Amsterdam!

I also started a sock using my new Knitpicks dpns (I bought the whole sock set). So far I'm really liking them (more on these in a day or two).

While we were with my parents, I delivered my mom's slightly late b-day present (which she loves).

B-Day Gift for Mom: Dream In Color Smooshy in Nightwatch.

Stu and I went on a brief yarn crawl after brunch at Urban Yarns (total bust. no service. meh yarn). Three Bags Full (where we ran into my knitting group, and I developed a love of All Hemp Lux yarn). All I ended up buying was some Seacell and Merino roving from Birkeland Bros. Stu got to see the giant carder in the back (I hadn't realized that he had never been in there before. Bad knitting husband! hehe.

All-in-all it was a good birthday, but as usual I am glad it won't happen again for another year.

I have a fair bit of B-day money --- Does anyone have any knitting / fiber suggestions?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Finished: April Socks

I managed to finish my socks for the April for the Sock-a-Month KAL.  They were quite quick to knit, and start to finish they only took me less than a week.

The Yarn:  Dream In Color Smooshy in Nightwatch.  Purchased from Three Bags Full on Main Street.

The Pattern:  Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks.  Everything else in this sock was improvised.

This yarn is particularly smooshy.  I've used 2 other skeins and neither were as cushy as this skein.  It was weird - it almost felt like it had some cotton in it.  

I've got these socks blocking right now.  It seems that so far the blocking has relaxed them and made them a bit less dense than they were.  We'll see what they're like once dry.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Knitting At The Speed of Light...

...Or darn close to it!  

I finished sock one of the pair of socks I started yesterday.  I only cast on late yesterday afternoon, so I think this makes this one of the fastest socks I've ever knit.  It helps when I have amazing yarn to knit with.

Garter Rib motif from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch

I've already cast on for the second one, and I'm done a few of the cuff rows.  I'm going to see how far I'll get with it tonight.  

Sock #1 in Dream In Color Smooshy - Nightwatch

As I wrote yesterday, I was using this sock to try out a new way of working my wrapped stitches, and the new technique worked!

I double wrapped each side heel stitch and then used Cat Bordhi's technique.  She is truly brilliant!  

My other alteration, using 60% of the stitches for the heel to make it cup my heel better worked like a charm!  It fits as perfectly as any heel flap sock would.  

I think I am now an official short row convert.  

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Those Darn Short Rows!

I'm taking a wee break from lace knitting for a little bit of sock knitting. I'm just knitting a quick pair out of this ----

It's Dream In Color Smooshy in the Nightwatch colorway. The true depth of color in this yarn really cannot be captured with a camera.

As I started to think about the construction of the sock I was about to make, my attention turned to the heel. I had a dilemma -- I like to knit a short row heel, but I like the fit of a sock made with a heel flap.

I had to remedy this. I had to figure out a way to perfect my short row heels.

What was it I didn't like about my short row heels?
  1. The heel area never seemed to cup my heel.
  2. I could always see those darn wraps!
My solution to the first problem is to use more stitches for the heel flap. I will use 60% of the total sock stitches instead of 50%.

For the second problem, I am going to use Cat Bordhi's method of concealing wraps. I'll still do double wraps to avoid holes. I'm just going to work with them a little differently. Her tutorial is quite hilarious!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tools of the Trade...

I thought I'd share some of the lace knitting tools that I find indespensible.  I thought all of these were pretty common knowledge, but after reading  a few threads on Ravelry, I've realized that they may not be as well known as one would think.

I will tell you this ---  Without these tools, I would not be knitting lace.  It would be too frustrating and annoying.  Seriously.

The first indispensable tool is a row counter.  I have 4 of these red ones and one of the little green ones.  If you care which row you're on, you need one of these.  

The second indispensable tool would have to be stitch markers.  I wouldn't even try to knit lace without these.  Place them between each repeat, and you just have to worry about that repeat. You also become aware of problems more quickly.  Don't make lace knitting harder than it has to be.

The third indispensable tool is my Chart Keeper.  I swear I would lose my mind without this, and would definitely lose my place.  

I found this one at Michaels.  It was marketed towards cross stitchers and crocheters.  For such a useful tool it was relatively cheap too.  I got this one for $9.99.  

Here it is in use---

You place the magnets so you can keep track of where you are in the chart.  I put the two smaller magnets on each side of the repeat that is knit several times within one row.

Speaking of lace knitting, it's time for a Hanami Stole update ---

I have now finished Chart B. It's coming along nicely, and will be very luxurious to wear. I can tell already.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Slow Progress...

Another day of flu-ey goodness has resulted in more knitting.  

I finished Chart A ----

Chart A is a nice relaxing break from the uber concentration required by the basket weave section of the pattern.

I am still feeling really bad, so sorry about the short post, but I just can't handle anymore and must return to bed.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tell Me --- What Does Shipped Mean to Knitpicks?

Because I think we have VERY different definitions for the word "shipped".  

According to the Knitpicks website and the email they sent me on April 7th, my order was shipped on April 7th.  

According to the Knitpicks email I just receive a few minutes ago, my order just entered the Canadian postal system today.  It's the freakin' 16th!  They truck their orders to the border!  WTF?!?  

All 7 Basket Weave Repeats Done

So now it's scheduled to be delivered on April 22nd.  That is officially 12 business days (certainly not the 5-10 business days that they said it would be).

If something is going to take 12 days, then tell me it's going to take 12 days.  If something is going to actually ship on the 16th, then tell me it's going to be the 16th.  

Maybe I'm just grouchy because I have the flu.  I have been sick since Monday and have been getting steadily worse, so I went to the Dr. today.  He told me that I'm not allowed to work for the rest of the week. 
Finished Transitional Chart

My illness has been extremely unpleasant, but has allowed me the time to do lots of knitting on my Hanami Stole.

I have now finished all 7 basket weave repeats and the transitional chart.    

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

10 Days In...

I am officially 10 days into knitting the Hanami Stole, and while I wouldn't say that I am enjoying it more than anything else I've ever knit, there is something about this pattern that compels me to push on and knit one more row.

I found the first two basket weave pattern repeats frustrating. I almost gave up. The only thing that kept me going was telling myself that it would get better. It had to get better.

Guess what? It did get better.

Once I was a few rows into the 3rd repeat, I actually started to enjoy knitting the stole.

One of the things that this stole has taught me is not to give up on a lace pattern until several repeats have been knit.

I'm not really a lifeline kind of gal, nor am I a "rip it back" kind of gal. I'm more of a "oh look, I'm left with two extra stitches at the end of this repeat, I think I'll K2tog and that'll fix it" or "oh look, two stitches short, I'll go back two stitches and knit into the front and back of both, and that'll fix it".

With that, I'll tell you that the first two repeats are not a pretty as they should be, but my mom always told me that if a blind man on a fast horse wouldn't notice then it was good enough. Wait, maybe that wasn't my mom. That doesn't sound like my mom. She's more of an "anything worth doing is worth doing right (i.e. perfectly)". Maybe it was my dad that gave me this gem? Stu? Probably. I really can't remember. All I know is that it is advice to live by (for me anyway).

I have now knit 5.5 of the 7 repeats. I'm debating whether or not I should add another repeat or two to the basket weave, but I think I'll reserve final judgment for once all 7 repeats are finished.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Swallowtail Shawl?

So, apparently in my lace obsessed frenzied state, I could not help casting on for yet another lace shawl. Somebody save me from myself!

I've been thinking about the Swallowtail Shawl from the Winter 2006 Interweave Knits for a few months now. On Saturday after a nice get together with an old co-worker of mine, I headed over to Three Bags Full to pick up some lace weight for the Swallowtail Shawl. Thankfully, this shawl is fairly small, and really doesn't take that much yarn, so I only needed one ball of Fiddlesticks Lace Weight. This yarn is 50% merino and 50% silk.

The colorway that spoke to me this time was Basil.

I also had to pick up another Addi lace needle, since my only other lace needle is currently hanging out with Hanami.

I cast on for this one on Sunday (yesterday) late in the afternoon. I have to admit, I was bad and skipped my knitting group so I could work on lace. Lace knitting + Knitting group = Disaster.

It's coming along very well and is quite an easy pattern.

I even managed a few rows this morning before work!

I'm going to be working on this at the same time as I work on the Hanami Stole. It is my goal to have both the Swallowtail Shawl and Hanami Stole done by my birthday as a give for myself. I have until April 27th, so there is going to be a lot of knitting going on at my house in the next two weeks.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun With Polymer Clay...

I have decided to very briefly venture into another craft, just to give it a quick try.  

I picked up some polymer clay (Primo to be exact) last weekend, and decided to give bead making a go.

I bought one package of blue, one of black, and one of silver.  With these colors I made blue mixed with silver and black mixed with silver.

Here they are just before baking ---

I just popped them in the oven at 275F for 25 minutes and it seems to have done the trick!

Here they are after baking---

I think they turned out pretty well and I think I'll likely do some more experimenting with this craft, but I will definitely be sticking with the fiber crafts (they're a lot easier on the hands).

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I think that some of the black and silver ones might be destined for a bracelet.

I hope everyone is having a restful and crafty Sunday.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Found: Best Knitting Reference Book Ever!

I finally got my copy of the Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley, and I love this book!

I actually took it out from the library twice and both times I contemplated "losing" it so I could keep it for myself (sshhh...don't tell my mother-in-law who is a librarian for said library).

The main problem I have with library books (other than the fact that they aren't mine and have to be returned which I usually forget) is that I tend to hold them at arms length (and not because of eyesight!).

Because I know the book is not mine, I tend to try not to get too attached and therefore I end up not seeing much of what the book has to offer.  

When I ordered the Knitter's Handbook from Amazon, I knew it had lots to offer, but it wasn't until I had my very own copy in my hot little hands that I realized just how much information this book is packed full of.

Looking for a new way to cast on?  This book has approximately 35 different ways to cast on.

Want to knit with beads? It shows you how to do that too.

Suspicious of selvedge?  How 'bout 14 different kinds? That should suit your every need.

Buttonholes?  Montse shows you just about every kind your heart will ever desire.

Seriously, this book has so much information in it.  It is well written, easy to understand, and contains clear pictures.

I am so glad I picked this book up.  I'm even more glad that I could get it from Amazon.com so I didn't have to steal it from the library (their copy was a little ratty anyway).  

I know that a lot of people are in search of a comprehensive knitting reference book, and I wanted to share how useful I find this book, in the hopes that others will find it to be as much of a treasure as I do.  

It's cheap too.  I only paid $13.57 US.

So, what are the knitting books that you can't live without?

Friday, April 11, 2008

On Making Sock Yarn...

I'm spinning up some more sock yarn. This time it's going to be 2-ply. I don't know what it is about it that makes me like it more than 3-ply.

Here is some more of the roving I picked up from Yummy Yarn a few weeks ago at our Sunday get together. It's 130 grams of BFL.

I figure that 130 grams is about enough for a pair of socks, but really I have no idea, since I have yet to knit sock out of any of my so called sock yarn.

So far I'm just about done the first bobbin of singles of this sock yarn, but I have high hopes that the rest should go fairly quickly.

I think it is turning out really well, and my singles are definitely getting more even and a lot thinner! Soon I'm going to have to do 3-ply yarn to make it heavy enough to do anything with! Hey - - Maybe that's the point of 3-ply!

I don't know what it is about the BFL, but sometimes it breaks when I'm spinning it and it is so hard and very frustrating to get it going again. I go back to where it seems to be pretty well spun and I keep tension on it as I pull it through the orifice, but for some reason it still falls apart a few times before I can get it going again. This hasn't happened with any of the other fibers I've spun, which makes me think it's something BFL specific. Not a huge deal or anything, it just drives me a bit crazy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Never-Ending Sock Project...

I call these socks my travelling sock project, and by that I mean that when I go out they come with me.

I know some people think I work on them, but as you can see from my progress that is not a correct assumption.

Remember back a few months when I took part in the Apres Christmas Sock Swap? No? I didn't think so. Anyway, here are the socks I made for my pal (for those who don't remember).
They are the Diagonal Cross Rib socks from Favorite Socks.

I knit the pair for my pal out of Dream In Color Smooshy and I liked the pattern and yarn so much that I decided to make a pair for myself.

I foolishly made them much taller than I normally do, and then I got distracted by spinning and knitting a sweater, so as you can imagine, these socks have been slow going.

I have decided that I am ready for them to be off my needles, so I am going to make an effort to actually work on them when I take them with me. I will remember that they are not a companion, but a pair of socks that should be worked on.

Don't get me wrong -- I really like knitting them. The pattern is easy to memorize but is interesting enough not to be boring.

It is my goal to make these socks my April Sock-a-Month KAL socks, which means I will be finished them by the end of April.

I think I can do it!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

L-A-C-Y It Ain't Got No Alibi, It's Lacy...It's Lacy...

I was bitten by the lace bug this weekend, and its bite compelled the purchase of two Pink Lemon Twist patterns. The Hanami Stole and Swan Lake (aka Mystery Stole 3) are both in the queue now.

This was my first time ordering a pdf pattern of the interwebs, and I love how instant it is. I entered my credit card info then downloaded the pattern. No waiting or anything. The first thing I did after downloading was to email both patterns to my gmail address so I would have a back up just in case.  As you likely know, I haven't knit a lot of lace. I find it requires too much attention and generally causes a whole lot of frustration.

The last lace I knit was the huge Shetland Triangle (Wrap Style) I knit for myself last year (out of fingering weight Koigu). Actually, it was last April.

That's it -- I proclaim that April is for lace! Apparently there is something about this time of year that makes me want to knit lace.

Back to the lace at hand ---

I cast on for the Hanami Stole on Saturday morning, but couldn't work on it all day because we were at the Canadian Health Food Association trade show at Canada Place. The company Stu works for had a booth there. We had a great time, but unfortunately there was no knitting or lace. Generally the only trade shows I will entertain have to at least contain fiber in some form (not the kind you eat!).
I did a few rows on Saturday night, and learned the valuable lesson that you should not work on lace when you are tired. It is not a myth people!

I also realized that I needed some sort of chart keeper to make the repeats clearer. I actually managed to find one for $10 at Michaels. I couldn't imagine using a chart without it now. It makes such a huge difference.

A chunk of Sunday was also spent with Hanami, and I am now 3 rows into the second basket weave repeat. It is looking great, and I am even enjoying the lace knitting process.

My goal is to have this stole finished before all of the cherry blossoms are gone.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Redd Lounging in the Sun, originally uploaded by Eord.

I know I promised to reveal the project I've been working on today, but things have been delayed slightly.

The truth is that I didn't get a chance to take pictures last night, and I don't want to reveal a project without pictures.

I'll bet you're wondering what has delayed me, aren't you?

Yesterday I made an attempt to retrieve my last two packages from the Point Roberts post office, but I got stuck in nasty traffic on my way there, and didn't make it in time.

I'm hoping my parents will pick my stuff up for me sometime this week, but if not, I will be picking it up on Saturday.

When I got home I got sidetracked with a Blue Moon order (which took care of the last of my tax return).

Seriously, I will take pictures tonight. In fact, tonight will be devoted to taking pictures and knitting.

PS. Stu got a promotion!

Monday, April 07, 2008


My house has definitely been filled with lots of color since I started spinning.

I wanted to share some pictures of my first attempt at 3-ply sock yarn after setting the twist and everything.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't been brave enough to cast on for a pair of socks out of this yet. I will do it when the time is right.

I did start spinning some more Yummy Yarn roving for some 2-ply sock yarn. I'm going to ply it tightly for some added strength. I'm about half way through spinning the singles so far, and will share some pictures of it with you as soon as I can.

Once I finish spinning the sock fiber I've already started, I think I'm going to take a little break from spinning for a couple of weeks (we'll see if that works. It's like saying your going to take a break from air!).

You see, I have good reason to take a break. My birthday is coming up at the end of April (the big 2-5! Ha!), and I already know what Stu is getting me. He's already ordered it.

I'll give you a hint --- It takes several weeks to make, starts with "W", and attaches to my spinning wheel. Most spinners will know what it is, but if you don't, I will tell you when I get it.

Tomorrow I'll show you what I am doing in lieu of spinning. I really want to take a few pictures of the project before I start talking about it, but I will tell you that it's good.

In fact, I'm debating whether I should head home right after work to work on it or if I should go to Point Roberts to pick up my new Elizabeth Zimmermann Knitting Workshop DVD (I finally got arrival confirmation on Saturday evening after the post office closed, and they are closed on Sundays too, so this is my first chance to pick it up).

Have a good Monday --- I hope it's not as rainy where you are as it is in Vancouver. I just keep muttering something about April showers and May flowers.

Friday, April 04, 2008


My most recent spinning attempt appears to have been quite fruitful. It has been a busy week both at work and at home, and yesterday was the first evening I was at home. I took the opportunity to do some spinning, which I had not indulged in since Sunday.

I was instantly drawn to this roving ---

Orange, brown, and blue are not normally my colors, but I had a really good feeling about it this time. The roving is more from Yummy Yarns (her shop can be found on etsy). The fiber is 100 grams of 100% Corridale.

This was my first time spinning with Corridale and I really enjoyed it. It was easy to spin and I am pleased with the results.

Speaking of results, I had intended to make a two ply super bulky yarn, but what I ended up with is more like a dk weight. Oddly enough, I think this means my spinning is improving.

My singles are becoming noticeably thinner and more even. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I actually started out fairly even, so with my improvement I'm producing some very workable yarn. Well balanced too.

Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to make with it. When I had planned to make it bulky, I was going to knit a hat. Now I have no idea!

I have also discovered one more thing --- I prefer the process, look, and feel of 2 ply more than 3 ply.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mail Call! And Spinning...

I put in a fairly big Amazon.com order on Saturday night, and I've been checking the tracking information every 10 minutes since Monday.  The split my order into 3 shipments, but the majority of what I ordered (5 books) came together, and I got my notification that they had arrived this morning.  

I had them sent to a post office in Point Roberts, Washington so I could get faster shipping times and cheaper rates.  The only problem, so I thought, was that they post office closes at 5pm, and I only finish work at 4pm.  It's a 30 minute drive without factoring rush hour traffic or border waits.  

I made great time and only waited about 2 minutes at the border.  

So far, the new additions to my library are:

  • Things I Learned From Knitting (Whether I Wanted To or Not by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot.
  • Harmony Guide: Basic Crochet Stitches
  • Start Spinning by Maggie Casey
  • In Sheep's Clothing: A Handspinner's Guide to Wool by Nola Fournier and Jane Fournier
  • The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning
The Alden Amos book is published by Interweave Press (so you know it'll be quality).  It's almost 500 pages and looks remarkably like a textbook.  I'm most excited about this one.

I can't wait to crack these babies open!

I also made a small (read: LARGE) purchase at my knitting group last Sunday.  Yummy Yarns was there with a huge bag of handpainted roving, and I think I bought almost half of it.

This is 130 grams of BFL ---

Which turned into this---

It's 3 ply dk-ish weight sock yarn. I'm not sure exactly what the yardage is like yet, but I'm pretty sure 130 grams should get me a pair of socks.  

I'm extremely interested in acquiring more quality spinning books, so if you have any recommendations, don't be shy.

I'll be in the tub with a book if you need me...