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.