Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter is here :-(

Warning -- lots of pictures! It's snowing and blowing and generally being miserable outside, so what's a guy to do but stay inside and play with a camera? Right? RIGHT? Right. Sigh.

So, I am pleased to announce that I have finished a hat. Which to many of you, I realize, doesn't seem like a big deal, except that I started this hat a year ago. Yes, it sat on the needles for a whole year. But it's done now, and I love it. It's warm and cozy and it covers my ears, which is a good thing.

You can see exactly where I left off last year. I should have gone back and ripped out a round or two, but I didn't, and I'm not going to because I am embracing the rustic. Yes, rustic. That's what it is -- it's rustic, not sloppiness. Rustic, yes. The pattern is the very clever Thorpe, and the yarn is a bulky Alpaca labelled Vintage 2006 that I got from Bridget in the Knitters Tea Swap 4. Thanks again, Bridget! I left off the crochet edging and braidy-tie thingys -- not because I'm too lazy to figure out how to do them but because it's RUSTIC! Ahem.

I also knit up my handspun from the previous post -- and I know you don't want to be bothered with scrolling down so I'll throw in yet another picture --

-- into this ...

... which I admit looks kind of weird until you turn it upside down and roll it up a bit into this:

Which still looks kind of weird, but Yes! It's another hat! Just a basic top down toque, as we call it up here in Canada, although some people elsewhere might call it a watch cap. I made the turn-over especially long so it would fold over and cover my ears, which I think I mentioned is a good thing.

I tried to take some pics of this hat actually on my head, but all I got was something like this ...

... or this ...

So that's what you get too. Sigh.

I've also been spindling a bit.

It's a "mystery roving" that came with a spindle I purchased from Dragoncraft, and I thought it particularly fitting to the season because it reminded me of snow. It's a mixture of merino, bamboo, soysilk and angelina, and it came out very soft and shiny and, well, sparkly.

See? Sparkly. I didn't think I was an "art yarn" type of person, but I will admit it was fun to let it be what it wanted to be. I have no idea what to do with it, though. It's maybe DK weight, 150 yards.

More sparkles! I wish all sparkly white stuff was that much fun and didn't require shovelling. I also wish everyone out there a safe and happy holiday season!

Has it stopped snowing yet? Sigh.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Kaleidoscope # 5

With the completion of the Christmas knitting (yes, I'm rubbing it in!), it's time to get back to some projects that have been sitting for a bit, patiently waiting their turn.

Silk Garden No. 258.

This colourway apparently has every colour ever invented by Noro.

In the Other News Department -- a loose end:

Yikes!! I completely forgot to mention something cool about the Moonlight shawl. It's one of those patterns that looks nice from either side. This is good when you're giving something to a non-knitter and you're afraid they might wear it inside-out. Here's the side that I forgot to include in the last post.

There, full disclosure. I feel much better now. :-)

And in the spindling department, I turned this:

into this:

The sock yarn I finished last month is being knit up as we speak, but I'm not completely happy with it. It's knit-able, but more, um, crisp than soft, so I think that means I over-spun it. This time around I concentrated on keeping the singles a bit looser. I also wanted to make a thicker yarn. The sock yarn singles were about 40 wpi, and for a two-ply worsted weight, the singles should be about 24 wpi. Trying to increase the size of the single is ... interesting. Your hands get used to a certain motion, and you really have to work at making them do something else. The finished yarn isn't completely even, but it's much softer. At 266 yards, it ended up being a light worsted weight.

I've also been working on plying tighter.

All in all, I'm happy with it. So, what shall it be? Scarf or hat? Hmmm.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Round and Round

I can't believe it's only the end of November and I've already finished my Christmas knitting. That's never happened before. :-)

I had originally bought some Dream in Color Smooshy in the Giant Peach colourway to knit another Jeanie, but when I received it, I knew I wouldn't be able to use it to knit something that would take that long. The colour just didn't appeal to me. I received the skein of Wooly Wonka Hand Dyed Silk Lace as part of the Change of Seasons Lace Club and didn't particularly care for the pattern, and the yarn was a bit too vivid for my tastes. When I went to throw them both in the stash and they ended up beside each other, I knew they were meant for each other, and that together, they were meant for my mother, who loves pink, peach and salmon tones.

I decided to do the Moonlight Sonata pattern, because I thought the stitch pattern would be strong enough to hold its own against two variegated yarns. I think it worked out quite well.

The silk livens up the pastel Smooshy, and the Smooshy tones down the silk. I didn't block it hard, because it was already just about large enough. The whole thing has a warm glow to it and feels wonderfully soft, especially after blocking.

I hope my mom likes it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Digging in

If you keep at it, it will get done eventually.

I finally finished plying the sock yarn I've been working on.

I hope it's enough for a pair of socks.

All other knitting has been put aside to finish some holiday knitting. Row by row, the crinkly-wrinkly-peachy-pinky continues to slowly grow.

Remember when I used to actually finish something? Hmmm, I don't - LOL!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bea's Vs

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on a test knit for Bea, and since it's now been released, I can share it with you!

Totally cool! It's called V-stripe, and the Vs are formed by cables that move gently down the cuff and flow into the heel flap and foot. Here's a shot of the cuff and top of the foot.

And here's the back of the leg and the heel flap.

The flap is ribbed, and a detail I particularly liked is the gusset,which is also ribbed.

The pattern is available, in four sizes, either directly from Bea's site or from Ravelry.

I quite like the yarn I used. It's a semi-solid, which slightly striped on the cuff and then softly mottled on the foot.

It's from Tannis Fiber Arts, and the colourway is called Orange Blossom.

She has a lot of very nice semi-solids, and the yarn has a substantially squishy feel to it and wonderful stitch definition. Even though I've put a hiatus on sock yarn buying, I might have gone back to get some more in different colours. :-)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mucho Exciting Mail

I've been busy knitting away, and I'm just about finished something, but I can't show you what it is yet. Luckily for me, my mailman has also been very busy lately, so I can show you that.

has been spearheading donations for the Red Scarf project, and part of her enticement for donating were some fabulous prize drawings. I was lucky enough to win a copy of the brand spanking new Mason-Dixon 2 and the yarn for one of the fabulous projects therein -- woo hoo!!

Can't quite tell what's in the shiny bags?

Yumm! Kidsilk Haze, for the Plaid wrap!! I've heard tell it's an addictive little bit of fuzz, so I'm almost scared to touch it. Thanks very much, Norma, and thank you to your lovely and talented assistant Paula, and thank you to the wonderful ladies at Mason-Dixon for supporting such a great cause!

I also received a wonderful gift from Bea, the talented designer for whom I test knit the Cross and Meet socks a while ago.

A sock blank she dyed especially for me!

Very cool -- totally my colours, and it should knit up into a great looking pair of socks. Thank you very much, Bea!

It just may be that Bea has a wonderful, new pattern coming out soon, and that just may be the reason I don't have any knitting that I can show you. But you didn't hear it here, mkay? :-)

Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm one of the worst KALers; not only did I do nothing for Socktoberfest, but I didn't even sign up for it. I did sign up for Sock Knitters Anonymous for September and barely scraped up a finish.

One of the options this month was a pattern by Cookie A. I'd wanted to do the BFF pattern for a long time, and this seemed like an opportune time to take it from a "want" to a "done", and "done" they are, on the very last day. Still, done is done; right?

The yarn is Koigu KPPPM in Colour 312. It was, as usual, a joy to work with, and I am quite pleased with how well the colours let the cables show. I would have been even more pleased if I hadn't run out of yarn and had to scrounge up another skein.

I did substitute in a Fleegle heel, though, because I like it.

In the Other News Department, I special ordered a spindle from SpinSanity, and Shannon came through for me with flying colours. It's a bottom whorl, in a rubbed, antique-y blue. It's wonderfully balanced and spins perfectly. The icing on the cake was that Shannon gifted it to me. I think she's trying to feed my budding spindling addiction in payback for causing her a slight case of garterlac obsession. I'm a willing victim.

The fiber is merino from Eagle's Find Fiber in the Leaves and Stones colourway, and it's spinning up into a wonderful, golden-hued single that I'm hoping to Andean ply into lace weight. This is the first time I've tried merino, and it takes a bit of getting used to. It's easy to draft, but not so easy to draft evenly because it's so spongy and stretchy. I keep telling myself it's just part of the learning curve, and I'm not actually minding having to practise at all. :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mystic Earth - Clue 1

Clue 3 of the Mystic Earth KAL came out this week. I, being on the slow side, have just finished Clue 1. The shawl is what I would call sampler style, meaning that there are panels of different stitch patterns, each within a box of eyelets. Although that's not my favourite type of design, it does mean that just when you start to get a bit bored, you start doing something altogether different. For someone like me whose attention tends to wander with bigger projects, this is probably a good thing.

The shawl theme was also revealed this week. There are four panels, with each one representing a season. Clue 1 is Spring, with a waving leaf motif, meant to symbolize the emergence of budding growth.

The construction has been fun. You first knit the bottom border, and then turn it on its side and pick up stitches along the straight edges for the body of the shawl. I admit that I was a bit scared of that at first. Even though at times it seemed like I was doing it more by feel than by sight, I think it came out alright.

The edging on the sides is then knit along with the main pattern.

It's an interesting pattern, with just enough wrong side row action to keep you awake. The waves are created by K2togs and SSKs and YOs, but you then purl into the back of the YOs on the return rows to close them up. The only YOs that remain are those within the leaves.

I apologize for the crappy photos -- it appears that my camera will have trouble with this colour. The top photo is the most accurate, but it's more vibrant in real life.

Clue 2 is Summer and looks to be more complicated than Clue 1 -- don't expect to see it soon. :-)

In the Other News Department, spindling continues. I finally managed to create a three-ply sock weight with the last little bit of the practice roving that came with my learn to spin kit. It knits up nicely at 10 sts/in on 2.0 mm needles.

That means it's time to try to maintain it long enough to make enough for some actual socks.

I love my new spindle. It's made of mesquite, walnut and maple, and the inset is jasper - a Ledbetter from Ball and Skein. The roving is from All Spun Up. Again, this is taking a while, so don't expect to see finished socks any time soon.

Yes, I'm practising patience. I think it's a good thing. Probably.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ten Years

I usually try to stick to my knitting here, as I view this space as a little corner of my world that is safe and free from all the stresses of everyday life. This week, though, I am reminded again of just how unsafe and unfree life really is out there in the real world..

This upcoming week marks the 10th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Wayne Shepard. Matthew was a gay American student at the University of Wyoming who was was robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence in a remote, rural area, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6 – October 7, 1998. He died from severe head injuries at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998.

Matthew suffered a fracture from the back of his head to the front of his right ear. He had severe brain stem damage, which affected his body's ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs. There were also about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. He never regained consciousness and remained on full life support.

The disturbing and brutal nature of Matthew Shepard's murder prompted calls for new legislation addressing hate crime, urged particularly by those who believed that Shepard was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation. Under current United States federal law and Wyoming state law, crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation are not prosecutable as hate crimes.

The Matthew Shepard Act (officially, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 or LLEHCPA), HR 1592 was a proposed federal bill that would expand the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The bill passed the Senate on September 27, 2007, as an amendment to the Defense Reauthorization bill. The cloture vote was 60 to 39 in favor. The amendment was then approved by voice vote. President Bush indicated he may veto the DoD authorization bill if it reaches his desk with the hate crimes legislation attached. Ultimately, the amendment was dropped by the Democratic leadership because of opposition from antiwar Democrats, conservative groups, and President George W. Bush.

Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted in favor of the legislation; Senator John McCain did not vote. However, in an interview with The Washington Blade regarding the Matthew Shepard Act, Senator McCain stated, "I have voted against the proposal several times".

The Campaign to Erase Hate is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. It models the principles that were core to the beliefs and aspirations of Matthew Shepard. For more information, please visit the Matthew Shepard Foundation and Matthew's Place.

This is a knitting blog and not a place for politics, but I would like to again thank Myrna Stahman for caring enough to mark Matthew's death by designing two scarf patterns and sharing them with us.

Matthew, we have not forgotten.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh, look -- shiny!

Yeah, I'm a bit behind the trend -- nothing unusual there -- but I finally got around to trying out one of the tencel blends. You know, the ones that make you say, "Oh, look -- shiny!!"

In this case, Shiny also happens to be the name of the yarn. It's from Twisted, in the Angst colourway, 50/50 superwash merino/tencel.

Shiny it is. Also, stripy it is.

I'd started these way back last spring and they sat around for a while. I finally picked them again this fall, ready for a heel. But, hmmm, what heel should I do?

It was about this time that Fleegle returned to the healthy. I took that as a sign that it was time to try her toe-up heel, but top down, of course. Luckily, it works beautifully either way. It's written for two circs, but translates easily to DPNs. Not only is it beautiful, but it is

no fuss, no muss
no flap, no wrap
no hole.

A thing of beauty indeed.

Easiest heel I've ever knit. Just a gusset, a very big heel turn and then a little piece of magic that completely eliminates that hole that can sometimes happen at the corner.

And how does it fit?

Perfectly. Thank you, Fleegle!

Unfortunately, I can't really say that I love the yarn. I like the colours, particularly that blue stripe that fades in and out, but the yarn felt kind of hard and plasticky. I'm hoping it softens up in the wash. It had a slight tendency to split, which was much more noticeable when doing increases and decreases. I have more of this blend in stash and will knit it up eventually, but I don't think I'll be getting any more.

In the Other News Department, I continue to practise my spindling, trying to get in 20 or 30 minutes every day. It really does make a difference, and I can see and feel the progress. My consistent spots are happening more, well, consistently.

It's still not as tight as I want it, but the size is right. I've been over-twisting the singles and then balancing when plying. I've received some very helpful advice from Micki (thanks, Micki!) to over-ply as well and then balance when setting the twist, so I'll be giving that a try this weekend. This spinning stuff is like a whole new world that I knew was out there but was successfully ignoring. I'm glad I've opened the door just a little bit, because it's been good for the mind and the hands to try something different.