I’ve been busy.
Also, I just discovered Fotor, a free photo online photo editor that you might see cropping up in future posts. Look, it makes collages go!
And dear bob there is so much to catch up on under the jump. SO MUCH.
MUST KNIT, NO TIME TO BLOG!
1. V-Junkie socks for G. The same spiral pooling that was annoying me in the Mince Pie Mayhem pattern is working amazingly with the slipped stitches in V-Junkie. There’s no way I’ll get these done by Christmas, though – just finishing the toe on #1 right now, though, so I’ll wrap that to put under the tree.
2. More Christmas decor! Bundle-up Bears from Mochimochi Land and the beginnings of a jingling garland of bells. As always, the Mochimochi Land pattern is unbelievably adorable, and of course well written; I’ve knit 4 so far and hope to do a couple more before winter’s end, including one in the specified yarn weight (as usual, I saw a cute thing and had to make it smaller, using sock yarn instead of worsted weight). Two of the bears (centre & right) were knit while visiting family, and they stayed with G’s twin cousins (age 8); the white bear has now joined my MIL’s collection of festive Barrista Bears!
I have knit 2 jingle bells so far – it’s a long-term project, knitting a few every year out of my recent sock yarn scraps. My eventual plan is to make a vertical hanging strand, along the lines of a rain chain.
3. Train Toque for The Nannee. I knit this while away from home as well, so I’m not sure if the pattern is actually really large or if my gauge was off. Either way, I ended up decreasing the number of stitches I cast on by about 15% and I still think the toque will be quite roomy for this particular little man. Instead of repeating the 3 cars in the pattern (engine, car, and caboose), I made a longer train (engine, 3 cars, and caboose). I also added earflaps ’cause his folks are from the Prairies and they are concerned about cold extremities. Hope they are well-positioned – I decided to wing it, but they look approximately right.
4. Carol Service Cowl. Left over beads! Left over yarn (from my Angelus shawl)! An awesome cowl pattern that’s been sitting in my library for a little while! Do you think I can get it done in time to wear it before Christmas? I don’t know! But I’m sure going to try!
Okay, enough blogging, back to knitting!
The winter solstice is still almost a month away, but oh man it gets dark early already. By the time I get home from work at 5, it’s full dark, and really, if I want useful light for photography on these mostly overcast days, it’s got to be before 3. All of which is to say that I’ve been taking some terrible flash photos of my latest misadventures and they’re awful but they’ll have to do.
First up, the socks that aren’t. Not any more. I frogged them.
The pattern was Mince Pie Mayhem from Socktopus by Alice Yu. It’s a cool pattern and I look forward to knitting it down the road, probably on a size larger needles than those I got gauge with (2.25mm), definitely when there’s no deadline involved. The stitch pattern has cable crossings every second pair of stitches on every second row and there was just no way I could envision myself finishing them in time to give them to Mr. Salamander for Christmas, plus I was not happy with the way the yarn was spiral pooling. So I ripped them out and started again with a different pattern (which is turning out well enough to deserve Saturday afternoon light, no pics yet).
And then an uninspired doll shirt.
I think this is the third time I’ve tried to knit a distressed-look doll sweater, and every attempt has either languished on stitch holders or been frogged into oblivion. I think it’s the drape – or lack thereof – at this scale that causes my dropped-stitch sweaters to look dumb instead of badass like their human-scale counterparts. Drape is definitely an issue with this handspun I was using (singles from the Tour de Fleece), and I was also really disappointed with how not handspun it looks. I was trying to spin thick and thin, why didn’t it come out that way?!? So that’s frogged as well, and the yarn is in time out.
I do have one flash photography success story, though, but I’ll put it under a cut for anyone who’s not ready to see *gulp* Christmas-themed decor yet…!
I met (most of) my goals! And I didn’t even have to stay up all night, not even once in 17 days!
Check out The Brightest Socks – they are awesome! We have had a few comments that they will be perfect for Christmas…which seems a bit odd to me since I don’t usually think of nuclear pink and orange (WHY does the pink insist on photographing so red?) as Decembery colours, but I totally dig the idea of a pic of us resting matching mismatched stocking feet on the coffee table with a lit tree in the background, don’t you?
I think this is the fastest I’ve ever knit a pair of socks. I cast on at knit night, and finished at knit night two weeks later. Well, we got kicked out due to the coffee shop closing, and I had to bind off sock #2 at home, but it was pretty much knit night to knit night! Contrast this with the last pair (about 6 weeks), and the pair before that (more than 2 months) and you can see why I am so proud.
After abandoning my WIP goal, I settled on a different second project: to knit something from handspun, specifically my super-extra rustic linen from the Tour de Fleece. Here’s the thing: in my summer job, I’m obliged to carry a phone at all times, which is a problem since women’s fashion seems not to believe in pockets. So last year I knit myself a cute little shoulder bag just big enough for a phone and a keycard…only problem is, since it’s mauve, it clashes terribly when I have to wear my bright red staff t-shirt! Enter the rustic purselet, complete with bonus kitty:
I went all the way to the last inch of yarn and the strap is still a tiny bit short. But hey, it works! And it’s basically seamless (if you consider picking up stitches to not be a seam…), using sock heel-style short rows to knit the bottom continuously from the front and sides. It was a cool design challenge. And the button matches that red staff shirt perfectly.
Now I’m ready to get back to the summer sweater KAL I started pretty much forever ago. Never not knitting-along!
One craft-along wraps up, another starts, and just where is a person supposed to find time to blog about it?
I outdid myself on the Tour De Fleece. I didn’t come out with as many completely finished yarns as I maybe hoped, but I spun every day the tour rode, challenged myself to try out new fibres and new techniques, and all in all had so much fun!
I’m really excited about the Polwarth/silk in the top right corner. It was my spin on Challenge Day: I was busy with work and friends and wasn’t sure how much spinning I’d get to, so I gave myself half an hour and measured how much I was able to complete in that time – about half of this 1/2 oz teaser bump from Corgi Hill Farms, it turned out. In the end, I was able to spin the rest while visiting my friends (as we played Small World, I worked on this and Em was busy just, you know, SPINNING A SWEATER!), a thick-and-thin yarn destined to be a sweater for poor, neglected Edik. He’s equal parts thrilled (“It’s for me!!!”) and bemused (“But…what is it?”), as you can see in my progress pic.
Now, of course, the Ravellenic Games, which run parallel to a certain international competitive sporting event but had to be renamed this year so as not to go on diluting the brand, as it were, have started! Actually, I guess they’re more than halfway done! And I have so much more to do! Which is kind of sad, considering that I kind of burned out in 2010 and therefore set my goals commensurately lower this year. Well, I guess in 2010, I was only employed part-time and wasn’t entertaining folks for board- and role-playing games 4 nights a week.
My main focus is socks for Mr. Salamander. I bought the yarn (you might remember) on impulse one payday, then saw the perfect match for it over at Everything Old (it’s awesome to find amazeballs indie dyers who happen to be local and also fun to hang out with) and knew this needed to become his-and-her mismatched socks. I’m a little more than halfway onhis, have yet to start mine. I’m using various elements from Socks A La Carte 2: Toes Up, which my lovely mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the book – some of the directions are worded confusingly and relatively few of the designs appeal to me – but it’s great for learning different construction for toes & heels. Here, I’m using the star toe and origami heel, and I’m planning to try out a couple of different options when it’s time for my own mismatched pair.
I was going to work on an old WIP as part of my games challenge, especially since I’ve been doing so little dolly knitting lately, but, well, have a look:
It’s the thinnest cobweb-weight yarn I own, on 1mm needles, a bottom-up skirt for Vasya, my 60cm girl. I worked on it for about 2 hours last week, and do you know how much farther I got than that photo? FOUR ROWS. I calculated how much more there is to it, and it’s over 100 more rows. Now, the rows will get faster as they get shorter, but not soon enough! I’m still committed to finishing this skirt in 2012, especially now that I can work under a magnifying craft light (Canadian Tire! $40!), but I think it can wait until after August 12th.
It’s also been hard to convince myself to do any knitting at all, since this totally happened:
That there is my new spinning wheel (tentatively named Tamar). Vintage (reportedly 50s), virtually all wood, so Mr. Salamander can help look after her/make some new parts, on consignment at the local yarn store for only $100 (I’m still not ready to spend $3-600 on a wheel, but this seemed manageable), not too frightening since she only has one setting, so no worrying about ratios (yet). There’s definitely a learning curve: here’s my first attempt at yarn, the braid of corriedale that came free-with-large-purchase plied with some boucle cotton that was what I was in the store looking for in the first place.
After I spun that, I went back to spindling my flax to prove to myself that I don’t totally suck at spinning. I’ve also been plying several strands of that cotton together to get a feel for the wheel and also make up some bulky multi-strand funkiness with which to make more wacky hot mats. Soon, I’ll spin up the rest of my KP Roving of the Andes – I had a lot of trouble drafting the Corriedale, but I had trouble drafting it on a spindle as well. I don’t quite want to sacrifice one of my beloved braids from CHF or Everything Old to learning how to wheel, but I do want to try out something a little less compacted and grabby. Plus, must stash down before buying more fibre at the local agricultural fair! Yes, that’s what’s going to happen…
I love a good craft-along! They’re just the thing to give me a kick in the butt to finish things and photograph things, and it’s so much fun to hear what everyone else is working on. So for the past 11 days, I’ve been participating in the Tour de Fleece, a spin-along whose members (by and large) pledge to spin every day the Tour de France rides, from June 30th to July 22nd. Some people add extra challenges throughout the tour or on the most challenging mountain climb (this year it’s Stage 18: Pau/Bagnères-de-Luchon on July 18th). For my personal challenge, I’m learning to spin flax! So far it’s a lot harder than spinning wool – my first ounce is hairy and occasionally quite uneven, but by the end I was starting to get the hang of it.
I had heard that flax wanted to be spun fine, so I tried it out on my sparkly lace spindle, but I think it was too light. It seems like the flax fibres require a lot of force to add twist, compared to wool, so I had a lot of problems with backspinning. But I just got a new spindle that’s similar in design to the lace spindle and about an ounce, and hopefully the next 3 ounces will go a bit more smoothly.
I’m also working on finishing the second skein of My Preciousss. All the wool is spun up and I’m about halfway through the first plying pass. Maybe by the fall I’ll be ready to knit with it!
Speaking of knitting, my summer sweater is coming along nicely. I did take some pictures to show how much I’ve knit, but they weren’t very interesting – I haven’t made it to the armhole shaping or anything, so it’s just a curled-up not-really-a-rectangle, so instead I took some more detail shots of my pretty pretty stitch markers. I’m loving the fabric so far and as much as I’m enjoying the beautiful weather right now part of me can’t wait for fall!
I’m also making progress on the second pair of wedding socks! These ones are for my sister. Since this photo, I’ve finished the first sock and got a good start on the second.
The pattern is Alice Yu’s Crowley, from her book Socktopus. I got this book for Christmas and opened it right to this pattern. I thought it was so pretty, and I squeed over the fact that they shared a name with one of my favourite Supernatural characters…and then I squeed even more when I read the pattern description and realized they were in fact designed with the self-same King of the Crossroads in mind! My sister is the one who introduced me to Supernatural, so I thought they were exactly perfect for her, and I’m so happy with how they’re turning out so far!
Well, maybe there’s a little, but the first project I have to report on is a sewing project!
That right there is a duvet cover! We received a couple of sheet sets for Christmas, and since we don’t use a top sheet, I thought it would be great to use them to make a coordinating cover. I sewed it all by hand and it was an epic undertaking! So much so that I didn’t have the heart to iron it (hence the close-up and no shot of it on the bed – actually, I don’t believe in ironing bedding unless it’s on display in a shop window! But the sheets are so pretty I think it would almost be worth it…in a few weeks…). I am starting to enjoy sewing more and more, and it’s great to be able to make things for the household. As soon as I finish my monthly spinning goals, I have designs on sewing another dress from my Gracefaery pattern set!
Edit: I’ve noticed a number of folks arriving here after searching for how to make a duvet cover from sheets. How did I do it? I pinned 2 double flat sheets with wrong sides together, sewed a straight seam around 3 sides and a little ways around the bottom corners, and turned it right side out. It fits my queen duvet pretty well, although it’s slightly narrower than a storebought queen duvet cover. Yes, it was that simple!
Speaking of the monthly spinning goals, here’s where “My Preciousss” stood as of yesterday.
It’s looking gorgeous, just taking a bit longer than I hoped. I’ve spun up all 2.5 oz for this month, but I still have a lot of plying to do and only 4 days to do it in…!
I’ve also finished J’s wedding socks, and I think they look fantastic! I’m anxious to find out if they fit, though – it’s my first time knitting socks for someone I couldn’t try them on as I went, and he & my sister have been busy honeymooning and then loving on their new kitten…ah, wedded bliss!
Incidentally, I wore a second pair of socks to take this photo – it just seemed wrong to put bare feet in someone else’s socks, but I hate how socks look without feet in them!
And finally, I took on a big project yesterday – tidying up my knitting basket that lives in the living room! Check it out!
Current WIP, project bag, design notebook, I even went through all my notions canisters and organized them. My favourite is this little box which contains my fancy stitch markers:
I had help, though – while I was going through my knitting basket, winding up little ends of yarn and piling up ball bands and scraps of paper to be recycled, Killira was leaning out of the cat tree trying to play with the yarn…or, since it was out of reach, my hair!
Yeah, she looks innocent, doesn’t she? But we know better!