Friday, April 15, 2016

So I bought some yarn



Um. Yeah.

That's a pile of Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock - 6 skeins! See, Sweet Georgia had a Mystery Grab Bag Sale, clearing out bundles of two or three skeins at a discount. I saw the announcement, and then hemmed and hawed for a couple of days, then decided to take the plunge. I really like this sock yarn, and socks can be either wildly coloured or more sedate, so not being able to pick my colours didn't bother me at all. I'm pretty pleased with the collection that I got! When the sale was announced, though, the email was worded in such a way that I thought the colourways were going to basically be one-offs - they were described as colours that just weren't added to the regularly-available palette. When the yarn arrived, though, I noticed the tags all had colourway names, and they were names that are in the usual palette. My guess is these are skeins that for whatever reason varied some from the samples you can see on the website, so they didn't want to sell them to unsuspecting customers. I did notice a couple of very tiny blobs of whoopsie colour on a couple of the skeins, but I'm okay with it. After all, I got the yarn on a discount, with no preconceived notion of what colours I'd be getting, and a tiny blort of unexpected colour isn't going to make or break a pair of socks. Honestly, they're so faint I'm not even sure I'd be upset with them on a more visible piece like a sweater or cowl or shawl, but that could just be me being easy going.

Either way, my sock yarn stash has been enhanced, and that made me feel pretty good on the approach to this year's Tour de Sock.

Except. Apparently, Sweet Georgia is not returning as a sponsor this year. So none of this new yarn will earn me bonus points in the Tour.

Oh well. At least I have the yarn. It's still pretty. It'll still make great socks. I'll still call it a net positive.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Auto-awesomed

So yesterday I happened to be standing out front during daylight hours, and I had my phone handy - it was in my handbag, which was on my shoulder, since we were about to go to a hardware store - so I took advantage of the opportunity to snap a quick photo of some of the flowers that have appeared in our perennial garden.



Pretty, right?

At some point since yesterday evening, an alert appeared on my phone - I was either away from it (watching a movie at home with extended family, it was Mister's mother's birthday yesterday) or had the device muted because I was sleeping. The alert informed me that one of my photos had been subjected to Google's auto-awesome feature - various filters and visual effects are applied to change up the look of the image, all automagically. It was the flower picture, and Google auto-awesomed it into this:



Pretty different, right?

This does, of course, make me wonder what sort of criteria Google is using for the auto-awesomeing. None of my other photos have been auto-awesomed. Why not?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Waking up

Dare I say it? Spring might actually be here.

Now, that's probably gone and jinxed it. The weather in this part of Canada can be sort of unpredictable - in the Rockies, the ski hills (ha! I know, they're really mountains, but ski mountains doesn't sound right) are usually open until the May long weekend, so snow is not really unexpected in April and May. I have a foggy memory of a weird snowfall in August one year!

Today, though, the sun is shining gloriously, and the perennial garden in our front yard is starting to wake up - there are some little plants with tiny white flowers that have appeared, and the first few crocuses are also out in their fuzzy purple glory. (I didn't plant the perennial garden - the previous homeowner did - and I'm not exactly wildly experienced with plants, so it's entirely possible that the little purple flowers with fuzzy surroundings aren't actually crocuses. Do feel free to correct me! This is also why I don't know what the tiny white flowers are. They're not lily of the valley, but other than that, I know nothing.)

The rabbits are also out in full force - there are quite a few of them living in this neighbourhood, there's a lot of green space for them to hide in - and their fur is starting to go from white to brown, so a lot of them look sort of dirty a lot of the time.



I managed to snag this picture a couple of weeks ago - March 17, according to my phone - the bunny is still pretty white, and I've seen a few around here that are still quite white, but the ones that have set up camp in our yard are all browning a bit. I caught one eating some of the plants in the perennial garden, but he ran away when I stood up to try and snap a pic, I guess he could see me through the window.

One of my mother's socks is done, save the kitchenering of the toe - I want her to try it on before I cut the yarn. My consolation prize sweater is approaching completion too, which means I've started casting longing glances at my Oblique pieces. I'm starting to think about doing one of the fronts first, to see how much yarn that eats - maybe I can actually have full length sleeves?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sure as sugar

I've caught the sweater bug again.

I can tell, because I spent a not insignificant amount of time surfing the Ravelry database last night, starring potential patterns so that I can look at all the candidates at once - as long as there aren't too many - and make a yarn-pattern match for my next sweater.

Now, it's true that this is perhaps unsurprising given that Big Blue had its last seam sewn, its last end woven in:



It's also gone home with my sister. One of these days, I'll snag some shots of her wearing it and do up a proper finishing post. In the meantime, a sweater's worth of mental space has been cleared. So it makes sense that I'd be looking for the next big project, right?

Well, except that I've got a pair of socks on the go for my mother:



This is perhaps not the clearest picture, but I like it. Those are her Christmas 2015 socks - Hermione's Everyday Socks, done up in some Knit Picks Stroll that I thought Mum would like. The yarn was presented on Christmas Day, with a promise for me to knit it up for her once I'd measured her feet and gotten her ideal sock dimensions, and once a pattern had been chosen. The pattern choosing took a while - Mum knits, but she's not on Rav, so finding opportunities to show her different patterns ended up being sort of complicated, and when I did have a chance to show her some of the options, she was pretty quickly overwhelmed - the database has a lot of entries. Then she remembered a pattern someone in her craft group had pointed her to - the February Lady Socks - and dug out her copy of the pattern to show me. One problem: she had said she didn't want lacy socks, and, well, the main stitch motif in that pattern is for lace. The sample image colour, combined with the old inkjet print quality, masked the lace to her eyes. Once I pointed out that it was lace, she vetoed it.

Then, one night, I suggested to my sister that she could show Mum some of the socks I've made for her over the past few years, to see if any of those appealed to Mum. Sister is also apprehensive about lacy socks, so her choices should be good candidates for Mum too. As I was saying this, in the back of my mind I wondered if I should have just gone ahead and done up the Hermione socks right from the get-go - Mum's a big Harry Potter fan, and knowing these socks were inspired by those characters would amplify their appeal. Still, I thought it would be best to let her choose.

Wouldn't you know it, a few days later I get a call from Mum, saying that my sister had followed through and they'd gone through her knit-by-me sock collection, and Mum said rather excitedly, "You know, she's got some that are really fancy, I like them a lot."

"Oh?" I said, while a voice in the back of my mind chuckled, She's going to pick the Hermione socks.

"Yes," Mum chirped, "Hermione's Socks!"

Really, I had considered just going for it with this pattern and trying to get these done to present finished socks on Christmas Day. But, I worried that perhaps the simple knit/purl texture might be seen as a bit understated for gift socks, and there were some questions about sizing, so it seemed prudent to not gamble and let Mum have lots of input on the socks as they came together. I probably would have been fine - I know Mum's shoe size, so I could extrapolate foot length from that, and her feet are a lot like mine in terms of width and overall construction, so I could use what I've learned from knitting socks for myself (and my sister) to get a lot of the other details right. I just wasn't sure if she'd want to take the opportunity of having someone else knit some socks for her to go for a pattern she wouldn't much care for knitting herself - which was really the whole point of the gift, Mum knits, but she doesn't like the fine gauge needed for socks that will actually fit in shoes, so she's pretty well abandoned any idea of knitting socks for herself. She did one pair a while ago, and we gave her some more sock yarn as gifts along the way, but I noticed that they all turned into one-skein wonder shrugs, and not socks.

Anyway. Turns out, Mum finds Hermione's Socks to be 'fancy', so that's what she's getting.

Having knit these before, I knew what to expect, and yet I didn't know what to expect: I remembered being quite pleased and satisfied with the knitting the first time around, but patterns tend to be less charming on repeat - sometimes this is a problem with second socks, or second sleeves. As I worked the leg in bits and bobs of time I've found over the past two weeks or so, my progress seemed a bit slow, and I wondered if I was now immune to the pattern's magic. Then I found myself with several hours this past Saturday night, after that picture up there was taken, and I sat down with the sock and gave it some proper dedicated attention. It now has a complete leg, a heel flap, a heel turn, and very nearly completed gusseted portion of the foot.

I haven't really picked it up since then, though. I've been working on a new sweater for me, a consolation prize for the career advancement attempt I mentioned briefly in an earlier post, which I have since learned is going nowhere. I don't have pictures of the new me-sweater yet, but maybe later this week, if the sky cooperates.

I also feel a strong urge to get back to my Oblique cardigan and pound that one out, and I'm starting to feel some twinges telling me to just do the sleeves on another sister sweater that is sitting in sleeve purgatory.

All while I was carefully curating a list of potential sweaters for what's going to come next.

Yep. Definite sweater bug. Maybe be mindful of how close you stand to me - it could be contagious.

Friday, March 4, 2016

K'done: Thursday Special cardigan

Worn for the first time on a Friday, but whatevs.



Pattern: Thursday Special, by Elena Nodel
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted, in Merlot Heather
Needles: 5 mm / US 8



I've said it before, and I'll say it again - it's really hard to take good pictures of a sweater yourself using a smartphone camera while wearing said sweater. I also want to sarcastically thank those clouds for blowing in and hiding the glorious sunshine that I woke up to - I was fooled into thinking there would be nice light for these pictures. Thanks heaps, clouds.

I am ridiculously pleased with this sweater. It was a fun knit - the little arrowhead lace pattern on the fronts was memorized in almost no time, and there's no body shaping, so much of it was great for knitting while reading, or knitting while sleepy. The unusual construction promised in the pattern description came in the shoulders, and it wasn't complicated, so no need to be scared away. My gauge was 20 sts to 10 cm / 4", which is a tad smaller than the gauge called for. So my sweater is a bit trimmer through the body, which I was expecting and am therefore happy with - I haven't tried to measure or anything, and it's a bit tough to judge since the sweater isn't really meant to close, but I'm guessing I have about 2" of positive ease in the body. The sleeves are also slimmer than indicated in the pattern - I'd say I have maybe .5" of positive ease at the upper arm? The sleeves actually made me super nervous while knitting - when I got past the point where I could see the size of the armscyes, there looked to be plenty of space, but once I got to picking up the stitches for the first sleeve, things were less clear. I slipped the first stitch of every row, because I like slipped stitch selvedges on pieces that will be seamed or picked up from, but I find I often end up having to work out my own system of how many stitches to pick up. For this cardigan, I ended up picking up one stitch from each selvedge stitch, with an additional stitch picked up after 3 - so something like pick up and knit 3, then pick up and knit 2 from the bars of a single selvedge stitch. Doing this landed me one stitch short of the number of stitches the pattern said I should have, so I called it close enough. Then, once I actually had some sleeve fabric, I started worrying that it wouldn't actually be enough to accommodate my arm. It seemed to have zero ease freshly knitted, and I kept telling myself that if the fabric wasn't puckering or gapping along the armscye, then I had a good pick up ratio, and no adjustments should be done. To compensate for how narrow the sleeves seemed to be, I omitted the first set of sleeve decreases, and then to allow for a little more ease at the cuffs, I also omitted the last set of sleeve decreases. I also got a little carried away working the first sleeve after finishing the decreases, and worked it longer than I had meant to, but the finished length is good.



If I were to do this again - and I totally might, I'm quite thrilled with the finished piece and having another in a different colour is rather appealing right now - I'd try to pick up a few more stitches for the sleeves. A little extra room in there might be useful if I want to wear a shirt that isn't a tank top or short-sleeved tee underneath.

Or maybe I just need to introduce a little more physical activity into my life.

Tech specs: Chinese waitress COs, double chain BOs, all selvedge stitches slipped purlwise, Russian joins throughout.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

K'done: Bonus socks

These were done ages ago!



Pattern: none, I just winged it
Yarn: leftover Knit Picks Stroll, colourway names now long forgotten
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

No, seriously - according to my Rav project notes, I finished these at the end of October 2015. I just never got around to taking halfway decent pictures of them until today.

These socks were something of an experiment for me. See, my sock drawer is at this moment filled exclusively with handknit socks, made by me. Which I like rather a lot, certainly much more than I thought I would when I set out to knit my very first pair of socks, which have since shrunk and are no longer serviceable. But that's okay - obviously, I've made more since then. Back in 2008 (I think), I had managed to create a fairly decent collection for myself, but still needed to supplement the handknit socks with some commercially made ones to avoid needing to do laundry like clockwork every 7 days. So when an online store had a one-day sale on some SmartWool socks, I snagged three pair. I wore them a lot, and quite liked them, and as the months and years wore on, I found I was wearing them less and less as my sock drawer got increasingly comfortably full of handknit socks. Which was just as well, because the soles were starting to look a bit threadbare - no holes, but there are spots where the wool content is basically gone, and the sock's integrity is maintained by a mesh of the remaining nylon. It occurred to me that these perfectly serviceable but no longer visually appealing socks would be good to use as gym socks, and I made it so. When we moved, I kept the socks in the little bag I used to carry my stuff to and from the gym, to be sure that they wouldn't be separated from each other and thus ready to be pressed back into service after the move.

Well, now I can't find that bag. I haven't completely searched through the shocking volume of stuff that is down in the basement, but unpacking all the stuff that seemed to matter did not produce the little bag with those socks in them. I could have taken the easy way out and said, Oh no, I can't find my gym bag, guess I can't go to the gym! Instead, I rooted around a little and found an alternate bag to use as a gym bag, and started packing older pairs of handknit socks into it for use during my little elliptical bursts of activity.

Even though those socks were old, it still seemed somehow odd to be encasing my feet in cables or lace, and then ramming them into sneakers in the pursuit of exercise. My first thought was to knit some new, plain stockinette socks to use as gym socks, but it seemed somehow overly indulgent to use a precious stashed skein of sock yarn for socks that wouldn't get shown off.

And then I remembered my bag of remnant sock yarn - the leftovers from previous pairs. My feet aren't that big, so there's usually a fair bit of yarn left over at the end. Not enough to do a second pair of socks, unless I'm willing to accept leg-less socks, which I'm not. But what if I were to go through the remnant stash and pair some of those remnants together, working the socks up with stripes? So I went digging, and came out with three possible combinations - yarns that I wasn't terribly interested in using again for anything else, and decided to give it a try.



These socks are the result of the first pairing. The vivid green combined with the wildly variegated is a bit brighter than I would usually go for, but hey, I'm just using up leftovers to get some plainish socks that I won't feel bad about abusing slightly.

Tech specs: these were worked top-down over 64 stitches, starting with a double-knot CO. I worked 12 rounds of k2 p2 ribbing in my main colour (the variegated one), then switched to stockinette and added the contrast colour (the green). I then worked 4-round stripes until I had a leg length I was okay with - honestly, I'd be happier if they were a touch taller, but I wasn't sure how far my yarn would go, so I played it safe. After the last contrast colour stripe, I worked two rounds of main colour, then worked the heel flap with an eye-of-partridge slipped stitch pattern. After the heel turn, I worked two more rounds of main colour, picking up stitches from the heel flap along the way - thus making the main colour stripe on the foot 4 rounds wide - and then resumed working stripes with the contrast colour. The striping made it easy to count 'repeats' to make the leg and foot length match on both socks, but I misread my knitting from the first sock when setting up the heel turn for the second, so there's one less set of gusset decreases on the second sock. I placed my heel flap so that the carried yarns were positioned on the side of the leg and foot, so that I wouldn't need to cut, so there weren't that many ends to weave in - four in total per sock.

I am a little more than half way through a second pair of bonus socks, but I've sort of lost steam on the idea - maybe because I've stopped going to the gym this semester. Oh well. They'll get done, eventually.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rapt contemplation

The pieces of Big Blue are all finally blocked and dry, and I am now considering doing the seaming.



It's a pretty big job. There are five pieces, all knitted flat - two fronts, two sleeves, one back - which means I've got to attach fronts to the back, do side seams, and do sleeve seams. And then there's the collar extensions - those also have to be attached to the back neckline, and then attached to each other at the centre.



There are many, many video resources out there that will teach you how to make a nice seam happen, so I'm quite sure you don't need me to show you what I do, but I would like to take a moment to say that removable stitch markers are your friends. Perhaps obviously, I use them to put the pieces together the way I want them to be as I sew them up. They help me avoid that thing where you get to the end of your seam and one of your pieces still has an extra inch of fabric hanging off the end.

That being said, I've just realized that that second photo has a problem - the way I've pinned the collar extensions together is a bit misleading. The collar will fold over, so if I want the nice invisible side of the seam to show, I'll have to flip the piece over so that my mattress stitch pushes the selvedge stitches to the side that is facing up in the pic - that's the side that will be hidden in the folding over of the collar. If I do the mattress stitch with the pieces laying exactly as they are here, then I'll end up with a line of selvedge stitches showing down the centre of the folded collar when the sweater is being worn - no good.

In other news, I've been thinking about my Oblique cardi conundrum, and I pulled out all the yarn and existing bits and looked at them, and I've decided to push forward. I just keep telling myself that if I got a cardi with blanket style fronts and full length sleeves out of a batch of yarn the same size, I should be able to get a v-necked cardi with 3/4 length sleeves, even if the fronts have a bit of wrap to them.

We'll see if I'm right.