> To Knit is Divine: December 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Winter at last

It finally feels like winter here in the nation's capital. It snowed through the night, the sun is shining, it's not too cold (-7C), all in all the perfect winter day. I mean really now, if we're going to live in a country with winter, then we should at least have something that resembles winter, right? Not the mild, grey, rainy stuff we've had so far this year. I like my winters between 0C and -10C, with snow on the ground and no ice. That's not too much to ask now, is it?

Now the problem with creating a list of things to blog about, but not actually blogging about them, is that by the time I get around to blogging, some of the things will have changed. Like the weather. One of the things on my list is the lack of a real winter so far this year. So, I could just scratch that off the list and move on, or I could show you some now out
of date pictures. Like this:

I took this picture on Christmas Day. Not only was there no snow on the ground, but the grass was actually green. Not a dark, dead green either - a bright vibrant grassy green. And, although I didn't get a picture, there were some trees that were budding. The earth was confused. Very confused. There were even some geese still hanging around:

Now, we're used to seeing geese on Dow's Lake every spring and fall, but it seems awfully late for them to still be hanging around Canada. Shouldn't they be on a beach in Mexico or something by December 25?. I hope they made it somewhere warm in time.

The remaining things on my list can be broken down to three main categories: FOs (finished objects), WIPs (Works in Progress) and my knitting to-do list. I had also planned (and it's on my list) to prepare a list of the knitting books that I have, so that if any of my work knitting club want to borrow any books, they know what I have. But unless I get through all the rest of the stuff and have a burning desire to keep going, that will have to wait until the new year.

So, let's start with FOs so that my gallery is complete before I move on to 2007.

First off, weeks ago I finished the Brioche Stitch scarf I made to go with my hat.

I started it when I was at my Mother's in November and finished it a few days later. I started off using a double strand of Paton's Classic Wool, like in the hat, but thought it was too thick for a scarf. So I frogged it and started over with a single strand. I like it much better - I've been wearing this scarf and hat pretty much every day.

And yes, it's sitting on this book. And no, I don't own it. I borrowed it from the guild library. It certainly is a wonderful book. But this is not a post about books. This is a post about knitting (all right, and winter). Books have to wait.

Next up, is a bag I just finished yesterday. BAck in October I received a great package from my SP9 Secret Pal, which included 3 balls of Eco-fil:

I decided then that this yarn wanted to become a Kitchen Sink Bag. I cast on for this bag within a couple of days of receiving the yarn, and worked on it obsessively until I got about this far:

And then it sat in my basket, neglected, for almost 2 months. I had used a double-strand of the yarn, and a 5.5mm needle. The basketweave parts (bottom, corners, top and strap) were pretty tight wit this size needle, but I didn't want it holey, so I stuck with it, even though it was kind of hard on the hands and slow-going. I loved doing the mesh part though.

It turned out a bit wider than the pattern (about 16 in instead of 14 in), which I figured was okay - I wanted a big bag. I did the same number of rows that the pattern called for. But when I was almost finished the top, and about to start the straps, I found it seemed to disproportional. The pattern specs are 10 in x 14 in. Mine was 10 in x 16 in. It seemed too shallow for the width. That's when I abandoned it.

A few days ago, I picked it up again and decided to finish it. I ripped back to the top of the mesh part, and added in a couple of inches. Then I did the top, and the straps, and it's done. It's now 12 in x 16 in, and I'm quite happy with it.

The strap may be a bit too long, but I'll wait until I'm using it to see if I want to shorten the strap. It's going to be a great market bag in the summer.

And finally, Travelling Roses, the Sequel. As you may recall, I first made this scarf for my International Scarf Exchange pal. I loved this pattern so much, that I used the second skein of Misti Alpaca laceweight that I had, and cast on for a second scarf back in mid-October, the beginning of which I showed here. I only worked on it off and on, since I had a lot of other things on the go at the same time, and since I had already made it once. I took it to Halifax with me in November and finished knitting it at my mother's. Here it is, pre-blocked:

I didn't block it right away, because I decided that I wanted to using blocking wires instead of the string method I had used previously. I planned to purchase some inexpensive welding wire to use as blocking wires, but had trouble finding some. Finally, I was putting in a Knit Picks order for the Classic Circulars and Options tips in the sizes I didn't have, and more cables, and I added in their blocking wires. When my order arrived, I started blocking the scarf:

What a difference blocking wires makes! So much easier to block lace with wires. (unfortunately, I can't get an accurate shot of the colour - it truly is a lovely shade of red)

Finally, I could wear the scarf that I had loved since I first started working on the first one in September. When I finished that one, I blocked it, folded it up and mailed it off - so I didn't discover the problem

It curls:

I little while after I started wearing it, the whole thing turned into a little tube. Waaahhhhh. This can't be. I love this pattern. Now, I know that a stockinette-based pattern will do that, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it breaks my heart.

Anyone have any suggestions? Is there something I can do to stop it from rolling into a tube as soon as I wear it? And here I've made the pattern available - should I put a warning on it? Should I pull the pattern? I'd hate to have people make it and then curse my name when they find it rolls. Help!

Whew, that was a long post. But I've scratched a bunch of stuff off the list. I'll save the WIP and to-do stuff for later today or tomorrow.

Friday, December 29, 2006

More on knit gifts

In order to avoid writing a humongous post on December 31 to get through my whole list of bloggy items, I'm going to do a really quick one this morning, before I leave for work. It's so quiet in the office, nobody will really notice if I'm just a wee bit later than usual. Except my manager, who is currently on vacation, who occasionally reads my blog. So Jon, if you're reading this, pretend you didn't, okay? And have a great vacation. Everything is fine at work - no big crisis or anything :-). Maybe I should redecorate your office like we did last April Fool's Day. That would be fun.

Okay, back to knitting stuff. To continue yesterday's theme of knitting gifts.... I have already mentioned that I don't celebrate Christmas, but despite that, I managed to snag myself not one, but two gift cards to my LYS, Yarn Forward. The first was from my colleague Bev who drew my name for our work gift exchange. While we were drawing names, I might have said something like "to whoever draws my name, something knitting-related would me most welcome". Just maybe. And Bev came through with a yarn store gift card. Yippee!. And then my friend Suzan asked me to check in on her cat while she is away for the holidays. The first day I arrived, I found another gift card from the same store as a thank you gift from her and Winkler (her cat). Of course, I had to bring Winkler a little something too:

A couple of mice using different weights of leftover yarn (the one on the left is two different strands of sock yarn, the one on the right is one strand of chunky yarn). I miss having kitties to "help me" knit, so it was fun making a these little mice for him. Given the size difference - one looks more like a rat compared to the other. I used this pattern. Extremely quick knits.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our own language

I haven't been much in the mood for blogging lately - even though I had 4 beautiful days off from work. I thought I'd be writing lots, but instead I've been really lazy and haven't done much of anything. I did do a list of things I want to blog about - there are 17 things on the list. Let's see how many I can get through before the end of the year!

I did want to share a great email exchange I had before Christmas. Stephanie wrote a great post the other day giving muggles (non-knitters!) hints for buying gifts for knitters. One other piece advice I can give (for next year, perhaps) is that you can always ask one of your knitter's knitting friends for help. Like my friend Andrea's boyfriend Paul did. See, Paul didn't do the "please give me some suggestions" email. Oh no, not Paul. Paul is a very thoughtful gift-giver. The exchange went something like this:

Paul: The first rule of knitting club is.... not to tell Andrea I'm asking for Xmas ideas :-). She said she wanted a needle case, and she's fascinated with your hoop that has multiple needle ends, so I'll probably get her a gift certificate from the place on Bank Street that she drags me to regularly. Any estimate as to cost for a) a needle case and b) the multiple-end hoop-flexibility thing to be named by you

I may also get her a pattern - is there any particular thing I need to know if I'm choosing a pattern for her? To use a totally inappropriate analogy, if it was something like a computer program, I'd need to know if it was Windows or MAC - I don't know if there are "schools of knitting" where if you get the wrong type, the person will have to convert the pattern to something else.

I let him know that the "multiple-end hoop-flexibility thing" was the Knit Picks Options needle set (see, I understand Muggle) that could not be purchased from the LYS but could be ordered on-line. I also advised him that the only "compatibility issues" for patterns was that it be a knitting pattern and not a crochet pattern. (Oh, and I also told him that my lips were sealed until she received her present - after that it was fair blogging fodder)

A few days later, I got another email from Paul:

I ordered the Options. Thanks :-)

Oh, and out of curiosity, I saw that there were hoops or circles, rounds, umm, something else like squares, straights? Are these all types of needles? Are there different types of patterns that correspond to each type of needle - is it something that I have to watch for when I buy a pattern?

My response:

There are three types of needles - circular, straight and double-pointed (dpns). There are two basic ways of knitting - in the round, or flat.

Flat you can do with circulars or straights. To make tubes from flat knitting, you need to sew up seams. Round you can do with circulars or dpns. This makes a tube, which requires no sewing up. Dpns are used for very small tubes (like socks or mittens, although there is a method for using circulars for small tubes as well)

Therefore, with circulars you can make pretty much anything (though individual knitters have their preference - personally, I haven't used straight needles since I bought my Options set). With straights or dpns you can only make certain things. Don't worry about it when you pick out patterns.

Paul: I think my brain exploded somewhere in the second paragraph.

I guess we do speak our own language :-)

Speaking of the power of knitters (I know, it's a stretch, but whatevah), if you're a regular blog reader, you've surely seen this over at the Yarn Harlot. If you're one of my readers who hasn't yet been hooked on blogs (Mom, my friends, anyone else), please go read about the amazing job we knitters are doing at raising money for MSF. And please think about joining in with the rest of us. You can read all about it here and here. And my fellow Ottawa knitter, Paula, is holding a little contest where you need to guess how much will be raised by December 31. Go send in a guess (I'll send you my guess tomorrow, Paula)

Well, that was only one thing off my list (the emails from Paul). Sixteen more to go by Sunday.

Edit: I forgot to link to Paula's site - I have now fixed this

Saturday, December 23, 2006

They should include a warning label

On Wednesday evening I went to Knit Night at the Bridgehead in the Glebe. Despite it being only a few days before Christmas, there was a good crowd there (10ish, I believe). As always, it was a lovely evening, with lots of laughs. Every time I go to a Knit Night, I bring my camera, but never take pictures. Until this week. I almost left without my camera, but threw it in my bag last minutes. I was glad I had it, so I could capture this little gem:

Sarah was working on the socks she tells about in this entry. She was knitting them on 2 circs, and suddenly realized that the dangling needle had found an, ummm, interesting resting place.

Good thing those needles weren't any sharper - she might have punctured something :-)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From sweater to sweater

A couple of months ago I was in Value Village and picked up a few sweaters with a plan to unravel them and use them for Dulaan knitting (and there's one or two that I may use to make gloves and/or hats for myself. So far, I have one and a half unraveled, and have started using the yarn from the first one. I took pictures of these two before I unraveled them, but the pictures seem to have disappeared. I think I deleted all the photos on my camera thinking I had downloaded them all, when in fact I hadn't done so. So I don't have any "before" pictures.

Sweater #1 was a hand-knit, bulky sweater in beige, light brown and dark brown. It was kinda ugly, but beautifully knit (the seaming and weaving in of ends were impeccable!). I thought it was wool when I picked it up, but on testing upon getting it home, I think it is more likely acrylic (albeit a good acrylic) or a wool-acrylic blend. It definitely is not feltable. I tried the burn test, but the result was (to me) inconclusive - it didn't really match any of the descriptions I've read (which is why I'm suspecting a blend - though I haven't done it enough to really know what I'm looking for).

The first thing I've made from this yarn is a child-sized scaled down version of the raglan sweater from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears.

I'm not sure what size this is - the chest is 27" around. I'm sure it will fit someone (again, the beauty of knitting for Dulaan). The more EZ stuff I make, the more I want to try. I just love her approach. I need to get more of her books. I have Knitting without Tears and Knitter's Almanac. The others are now on my must-buy list.

Next, I combined one strand of the beige with one strand of Paton's Classic Wool in grey (leftover from another project) and made a Norma's Double-Thick Super-Warm Dulaan Hat.

This pattern couldn't be easier. It's simple, mindless knitting at it's best. Now, when Norma made this hat, she used one strand of worsted and one strand of DK held together. I used one strand of chunky (or bulky, who knows) and one strand of worsted, and needles probably slightly smaller than I could have used. This sucker is thick. It totally stands up on its own. And the 2 layers of gathered knitting at the top means that the top couple of inches are taken up by knitting. But it's warm, so it will be part of my Dulaan package. Another time though, I won't make it quite so thick.

So this hat completes the 5 projects I promised when signed up for Ryan's Dulaan 10,000 or Bust drive. Will it be the last? Hell no. There will be more, for sure.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another Facecloth

On Friday morning I finished up the package of washcloths and soaps for the gift exchange with my team at work. A couple of posts back I mentioned that I had planned to make one more - a white ripple one with a burgundy tie to complete the package. But I ran out of white just a couple of rows before the end. On Wednesday I had a dentist's appointment, and my dentist is right near Cross-stitch Cupboard on Carling and Woodroffe, so I thought I'd pop in there to pick up another ball so I could finish it off. But after my dentist's appointment I went over to Carlingwood Mall, and by the time I remembered that I wanted to pick up the yarn, I was so annoyed at the crowds I just wanted to go home. So I *gasp* opted to forgo the yarn store.

Thursday evening, I planned to wrap up the present, but it looked incomplete. So I went to the bath section of Knitting Pattern Central in search of a face cloth pattern that would complete the package, but use less yarn than the ripple cloth. I came upon this, and thought it would do nicely, if I made it a bit smaller.

This pattern is Circular Facecloth with Lace Edging. The pattern makes two sizes: 12 and 15 in in diameter. I didn't want anything nearly that big (plus I didn't have enough yarn). So I started with 15 stitches instead of the 20 called for in the smaller size, and started on row 21. The cloth is made up of 6 wedges. After the first wedge, I weighed it and got approximately 5g. I weighed the amount of yarn I had left, which came to slightly over 25g. Since I needed 5 more wedges, I figured I would have enough yarn, with just a bit to spare. So I carried on.

And I had enough yarn, but not quite enough time to finish it Thursday evening. I got all the knitting finished, but still needed to graft the beginning to the end to complete the circle. So I did that Friday morning before work (and didn't even need to follow a diagram. I've been grafting so much lately, I've really got the hang of it now), put everything together in a basket, and wrapped the present. Here's the final gift:

And speaking of gifts, I got a package in the mail on Friday from my Secret Pal.

It's this gorgeous skein of handpainted sock yarn from Cherry Blossom Fibers. The colourway is "Central Park" and I love it. It's soft and squishy and the colours are beautiful. I will be casting on a pair of socks with it soon, no doubt. I've not been feeling the sock love lately. I finished one sock a few weeks ago, but don't like it much and likely won't make the second. Then I cast on one for my father, but I'm not loving the yarn. I don't want to start one for myself until I finish that pair - but having this lovely yarn sitting there will either give me the push I need to finish Dad's socks, or make me break my resolve and cast on a second pair.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Diagonal Ripple Dishcloth


Please note that I have moved my blog to http://toknitisdivine.ca. Please come visit me there.

The pattern you are looking for can now be found at http://toknitisdivine.ca/2006/12/diagonal-ripple-dishcloth/
Sorry for any inconvenience! Please update your links accordingly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Some really quick gift ideas

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't "do" Christmas. I really hate the commercialization and hype of it all. I hate how it has become the "holiday season" to not offend non-Christians. Or, more likely, it has become the "holiday season" to attract non-Christians into the gift-buying frenzy. I completely agree with Christians who want to put the "Christ" back in "Christmas". I would love it to revert back to a religious holiday instead of a commercial one. Perhaps then I wouldn't get bombarded by the whole "buy more" frenzy every time I walk into a store or turn on the TV or listen to the radio. I decided years ago that, to me, Christmas would become a Christian holiday. And since I'm not a Christian, I don't celebrate it. That works for me. I prefer to give presents for no particular reason than because I feel I have to.

Thus, my holiday gift-giving is limited to a couple of very low-key gift exchanges at get-togethers. For one of these, I decided to do a collection of nice soaps and some knit washclo
ths to go along with them. These were all super-quick and fun to make.

First up is a really cute little soap bag. I saw this over on this post at "I'm Knitting as Fast as I Can" Directions can be found here.

I used a worsted weight cotton (Bernat Handicrafter). The soap bar I used is not terribly big, so I only needed 20 stitches to make the right size. It's really quick and easy.

Next up, is a ripple washcloth, with an i-cord tie to make a fancy presentation:

I was about to make a crochet chain to tie it up, like in the soap bag, but then got inspired to do something fancier. So I made an i-cord and ended it with a bobble (which I just kind of winged by increasing in every stitch over two rows, then cutting the yarn and threading it through all of the stitches). On the other end, I folded the i-cord over to make a loop and sewed it.

The cloth itself is the same diagonal ripple-stitch dishcloth I made for my mother (which begs the question, when does a dishcloth become a face cloth. The way I see it - if you give it as a gift with a nice bar of soap, it's a face cloth. If you was the dishes with it, it becomes a dishcloth. It's that easy!).

I love the look of these, so I've made a couple more. I have the pattern written up (and charted), so I'll be posting that shortly.

And finally, I made a scrubby, well, because it's cute:

This is much simpler than it looks. The pattern I used is "Dishcloth Duo" which is a .pdf file I found on
Knitting Pattern Central, with a few modifications. I used 10 more stitches than the pattern called for, and a few more rows. I used two colours, alternating every two ridges (four rows). After making the three pieces, I still had yarn left over (from 1 ball of burgundy and 1 ball of white Bernat Handicrafter) so I decided to make a white washcloth with a burgundy i-cord tie to complete the set. I ran short of the white with just a few rows to go. So I'll be picking up another ball of white today, so I can finish that one off. Then need to find a nice little basket or bowl to put them all in, and the gift will be complete.

I showed these at the Guild meeting on Monday. It was my first "show and tell". At the guild meeting, I was sitting with a lovely group of women, and during a discussion of calf sizes for socks, discovered that Su and I were wearing matching socks!

Mine are longer, have a picot-edge and ribbing on the foot and leg. Su's are shorter and only have the ribbing on the leg. As you can see as well, the stripes go in opposite directions. Mine were made toe-up, so it would appear that Su made hers top-down. So our socks are cousins, but there is a clear family resemblance! The yarn is Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy. I love these socks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Put on a Happy Face


Please note that I have moved my blog to http://toknitisdivine.ca. Please come visit me there.

The pattern you are looking for can now be found at http://toknitisdivine.ca/2006/12/put-on-a-happy-face/
Sorry for any inconvenience! Please update your links accordingly.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mom's New Dishcloths

This is my first update in a couple of weeks, as life got in the way of blogging. On Tuesday, November 21, my sister Debbie lost her 3 1/2 year battle with Ovarian Cancer. She was 51. I flew down to Halifax for her funeral and to spend a few days with my parents. Go hug someone, okay?

While I was in Halifax, I was able to deliver the dishcloths I had made for my mother. You see, a few weeks ago I was chatting with Mom on the phone, and the conversation turned to knitting (I know, shocking, isn't it?). Since somehow she got the impression I could whip off a dishcloth waiting for the bus (which of course is a complete exaggeration. I also need the bus ride), she asked me if I could make her a couple of dishcloths, as hers had lived their useful lives and needed to be replaced. Nothing fancy, she says, just plain old dishcloths.

About a week after that conversation, we were talking again and she commented that she still hadn't received the dishcloths. I hadn't realized tha
t there was time pressure on this request. I started to envision my parent's apartment with a sink full of dirty dishes with no way to wash them until the new dishcloths arrived (of course, if you have ever seen my mother's kitchen you would know what a silly image this was). So at the next available opportunity I picked up some cotton* in the appropriate colours and begin to fulfill this request.

I ended up making five. I know, she requested "a couple" of "plain old dishcloths", but I got carried away. I'm sure you're not surprised. I finished up the fifth one the evening before leaving for Halifax, so I didn't get a chance to take pictures of them individually before I left. I did take one "group shot"

The rest of the pictures were taken from my parent's house the day I was leaving to come back to Ottawa. They're not geat pictures, but they will have to do for now since I can't easily re-shoot them!

First up, were a couple of "Ballband Dishcloths" from Mason-Dixon Knitting (shown here with my mother's seriously cute kettle). I love this pattern - great looking dishcloths. But when I was knitting the first one it seemed too big, so I took it out and cast on fewer stitches than recommended. Now, in retrospect, I think I made them a bit too small. Next time, I'll go back to pattern as written.

Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting

Modification: made over 33 stitches instead of 45 stitches

Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter

Colours: Burgundy and White; Sage Green and White

Needles: 4mm

Dates (started and finished): Burgundy one - November 17, Green one - November 21

I browsed Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns to get dishcloth ideas. There are lots of great patterns in there fits the bill (must have bumpiness - adds to scrubbing power). I picked a couple I particularly liked, such as King Charles Brocade

Pattern: King Charles Brocade from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, over 37 stitches
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter

Colour: Sage Green

Needles: 4mm

Date Started and Finished: November 19, 2006

I also did one using the Ripple Stitch from the same book, but I did this one on the diagonal, so I needed to work out the increases in pattern. I really like the results, so I will likely make one of these for myself as well. When I do, I'll try to get a better picture to show (the colour is the same burgundy as the other dishcloths here, but this over-flashed one is the only one that shows the design). I'll write up the pattern too, if anyone is interested.

Pattern: my own, using Ripple Stitch from A Treasury of Knitting
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter
Colour: Burgundy

Needles: 4mm

Date Started and Finished: November 18, 2006

There was one other, the best of the lot, in my opinion, but you will have to wait to see it. As this one was put into immediate use, it was wet when I tried to get a picture, and none of the ones I took do it justice. So I'm going to knit up another one and take a better picture before I show it here. I will be writing up the pattern for this one as well.

I've also finished some other knitting, including Travelling Roses the Second (which still needs to be blocked) and a scarf to match my Brioche Stitch Hat, but these will have to wait for another post.

* The last time I made dishcloths using Bernat Handicrafter, my hands ached terribly and I vowed not to use it again. But since I had a deadline, and didn't have time to explore alternatives, I used this yarn again. And my hands were fine. I think the difference was in the needles. Last time, I used straights. Since then I've been using my Knit Picks Options needles almost exclusively, and I really do find them easier on my hands.