Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Wonderland

Winter. has been brutally cold in these parts.   While I have been known to proclaim that I LIKE winter, what I really mean is that I love snow.  I want enough snow to go cross-country skiing on a regular basis, without any pesky freezing rain to mess up the trail.   I want cold temps, but not brutally cold.  Monday, things fell together nicely, and Doug and I went skiing.  It was the best ski I think I have ever had.  Doug nailed the ski wax, and I was able to get up most of the hills without the constant use of the herringbone maneuver.    In fact, Doug and I were about even in our use of herringbone which has never happened before.   Providing my partner can open tomorrow, I'm off to the trails again!

In knitting news, it has been an interesting week.  I finished up the second set of "Spiced Nutmeg" from "Love of Knitting" Winter 2013.   
The yarn is Loyal, colour 935, from Naturally, and I used a 3.75mm needle.  The pattern suggested 13 pattern repeats for the hat brim.  Twelve was plenty long enough.    There are four lovely young ladies in my life, and one of them will be receiving this as a gift.   "Which one,". You ask.  I'm not entirely certain, and I just might make another set.  One never knows!

I'm plodding along on a pair of socks, also destined to be holiday gifts.  The finished sock has had the heel and toe reinforced with a second strand of 2-ply yarn. 

I am using 2.5mm needles and getting a nice, tight knit.   I hope the extra body in the heel and toe doesn't irritate the unknown recipient. 

It turns out that I haven't knit much on the Elsebeth Lavold top.   Apparently other things have had me distracted.   I did, however, manage a better photo of the armhole shaping and detail. 
It's just a four-stitch cable, but very effective.  Now that I have looked at it again, I don't know why I haven't been more devoted ...

There is a funny story about the next two projects.  I hardly ever knit with 6.0mm needles.   When I saw a vest pattern requiring that size, I thought that it would be a nice change to use that size.   So I did, using some alpaca/wool yarn that I had hand-dyed myself.    (The pattern is "Alaska Sweater" from Bergere de France.) 

I did the ribbing on my 4.5mm needles, no problem.   Then I opened my Addi case and discovered to my utter and absolute horror, that my 6.0mm tips were missing.  Who did I loan them to, and when?  how would I ever get them back?   I fretted all afternoon, and came home and pulled out my set of regular Addi 6.0s and continued on.   I fretted all day Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday.  I made a Facebook post about the missing needles.  

On Sunday I pulled out my afghan project in preparation for teaching my class.   And stood there dumbfounded and open-mouthed as the realization hit me.   My "missing" needles were right there, in my afghan project.     D'oh.    All my ladies and my family have had a good laugh over this little experience.   I have learned to check ALL the projects in my bag before declaring needles missing!

Speaking of the afghan project, here is a photo of its current state.

Square Two is on the right, and Square Three on needles.   So far the ladies are liking the project and are quite enthusiastic.   The design, by Michelle Hunter, is well thought out and written.  So far I have seen only one little thing that I would have done differently, and it is a minor thing.  (The final step of the bobble leaves the finished bobble on the left needle after you turn the work to finish the row.  I would have added a row so that the finished bobble was on the right needle.).   We'll see how the ladies fare in two weeks. 

Barring any unforeseen mishaps tomorrow, my knitting will continue apace.  This year I kept the Christmas stockings out with the intention of filling them through the year.   I have two things for two stockings, and half a pair of socks.  And eleven months until then.  Hopefully I'll have everything done in time this year.

In two weeks and five days I get to go visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandson.  I'm already planning and plotting as to which projects will travel with me.    I can't wait to see them!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Another week ..

It has been a busy week around these parts.   Sunday the shop hosted a yarn tasting party, complete with yummy food and desserts.  (Thanks, Liz, Morag and Rene!)

We sampled a total of 14 yarns of various weights and from different manufacturers.  I wasn't totally surprised to see that Cascade yarns was the hands-down winner.  And one yarn that I loved at the warehouse show was totally disliked by my patrons.  Good thing Barb wouldn't let me order it. 

Projects I am working on include the fingerless mitts and hat for our class.  

I worked on these rather devotedly last Wednesday, to the point that my carpal tunnel acted up.  Not a good thing when one enters a knitting store and sees the owner wearing braces on both wrists.   I've taken a wee break on this project.

Remember these socks?   I have used a reinforcing thread for the heel, which you can't see here.   I hope the recipient likes it. 

The afghan project didn't make any progress as there was no class this week. 

And look at my top!  I am heading towards the shoulders now.  You cannot see the cables around the armholes, but they are there. 

I'm trying to use the Blogger app. for my I-Pad, and I do find it interesting, to say the least.  I like the idea ... some of the interface works quite well, and some not so well.  What I find works best, and somewhat defeats the purpose of blogging from the I-Pad is to do the quick post via the Blogger App. and then log on from a desk-top computer to finish.  As I said, clunky but do-able. 

Anyway, happy knitting everyone!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eh, oops.

Don't know where Monday went; Tuesday was a marathon, and now it's Wednesday.   Better only two days late than more.

In the last week, I finished the CoBaSi socks --

I used a standard heel flap and then finished them off in my usual length.  In the wearing, they have stretched a bit, as most socks do.  The next step is to toss them in the washer with the rest of the socks and see how they come out.  I'm hopeful, but not overly so.

Having finished up one pair of socks, it was time to refill that little project bag.  
A pair of non-descript socks destined for the gift corner.  I am using Regia Hand-Dye Effect, colour no. 6560.   I have knit previously with this wool, and it seems to hold up well. 

What else do I have in the bag?   

This is the class project for the store -- Spiced Nutmeg from Love of Knitting, winter 2013.   One mitt, sans thumb, is done and the second started.  I would generally have finished up the thumb before starting the second mitt, but I wanted to show my students the value of using string for a stitch holder. Am I the only person who doesn't like to use a standard stitch holder to hold thumb stitches?

Speaking of classes,  I taught session one of the Build a Block Afghan, designed by Michelle Hunter.  The first block seemed like it wasn't going to give my students grief.  Hurray!    And since I am supposed to stay ahead of my students, I took the second square to the 90% stage.  

So far, so good.  I think everyone is enjoying the class, but it is still early days.  There are 13 more sessions, so we'll see how it all goes. 

Finally, there is something in my bag just for me!  This is Ylva, from Elsebeth Lavold.   I adore the simple elegance of this design, plus that little cable design at the centre back. 
The cables really show well in this light.   I'm using Elsebeth's Silky Wool, colour no. 21.    I'm past the armhole shaping (denoted by the orange stitch marker), and have just started my second ball of wool.   This will be a four-skein project -- easy on the budget!  

Can you see those little stitch markers on the needle?   

These were gifted to me by my friend Cnristi, as a "stay well" gift after my surgeries a while back.  They are working well as all my recheck visits with the endocrinologist, surgeon and doctor have been great.  Thanks, Christi!

Monday, January 06, 2014

New Year Resolutions

With the advent of the new year, I thought about resolutions.  Even made a couple -- to pay more attention to the blog, and to use up some stash.   These resolutions work nicely with the business plan that Barb and I drafted for the next couple of months. I think I can keep them for a little while, anyway.

With the Plan in mind, over the holidays I went upstairs, took a deep breath, tied a life line to my belt loop, and went stash diving.  I went kind of deep, and was reminded again of the lovely, lovely yarns awaiting inspiration.  

What I did find, however, was this:   Two partial skeins of CoBaSi from Hikoo. These were purchased to be test knit to see if we want to bring them into the shop.  They are half skeins because I already knit some ankle socks for my daughter-in-law back in September when I was meeting my new grandson.  
I was planning to make this second pair in reverse, but just got frustrated fighting with the yarn, the needles, and my customary winter allergies.  So they have become this:

Barb will claim that the problem was the Addi needles.  Much as I hate to admit it, she could well be right.   There just wasn't  enough sock to make turning the heel comfortable, the needles were slippery, and my fingers were clumsy. Anyway, I've turned both heels now so the hard part is finished.  I have a wee bit of the rose yarn left and I will make up a little flower to decorate the socks--rose for the yellow, and yellow for the rose.  This way they will still be a pair.  Folks on Ravelry seem to love this yarn; I don't particularly like it though.  I find it splits easily and is a real challenge to pick up and repair dropped stitches.   We'll see how Barb likes it, and how it wears before making any final decisions.

What else is in my knitting bag?   I'm teaching an afghan class beginning this month, and it seemed like a great idea to have some samples made.  So I started the first square from Michelle Hunter's original Building Blocks book.

The yarn is old, old Red Heart -- back in the days when it wasn't half bad.  And it had been gifted to me, so it was an excellent choice.  There are five more skeins, so that will be plenty for the afghan.  Actually, I'm contemplating making two crib size afghans, and donating them to the Durham Crisis Pregnancy Centre

But wait!  There's more!  

A long time ago, I scooped up seven skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, with no particular pattern in mind.  Turns out that we needed a sample at the store ... And since I had the yarn AND the book, it seemed like a good idea.  I really, really, really like this yarn.   The design I'm making is Ylva (pg. 28 of Book #9), and so far I am enjoying it immensely. 

As if three projects weren't enough, I am also teaching a class in making cables without a cable needle.  The project is a set of fingerless mitts and hat called "Spiced Nutmeg" from the newest Love of Knitting.   I made a sample ...

I find my students like to have me knit along with them, so I'll be making up another set.  Fortunately the young ladies in my life seem to enjoy receiving hand knits from me.  

The down side of having completed a stash dive is that now there are lots of yarns screaming at me that they are ready to grow up and become something.   I have the next five or six projects lined up, just waiting for me.  Does anyone know how to warp the time-space continuum so that I have more than 24 hours in a day?