20 March 2017

Infectious Little Knit Bug

The knit bug has bit me hard and all I want to do now is just knit knit knit and knit some more lol. Seriously, all I want to do is knit all the things! And I'm making a supreme attempt to do so!

My last blog post had my son's fingerless mitts halfway done, my socks halfway done and thoughts of a shawl in the mix or another pair of socks.  I've finished the mitts, my socks and have started my shawl.

The Cause he asked nicely mitts knit up super super quick.  I totally recommend this for  quick gift idea, or even as a stocking stuffer type gift.  It took me roughly 4 - 5 hours per mitt to knit them - now that's a quick knit and it really doesn't use all that much yarn either.  They are well named as 75 Yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts.

I used 53 yards worsted weight yarn that was from mum's stash on US8 needles.  There's nothing fancy to them; just stockinette stitch with 2 x 2 ribbing at the cuff and fingers.  They go to first knuckle on his middle finger.  I could make a pair of these for myself with the leftover yarn I bet, using smaller needles, maybe size 5 or so - my hands are way smaller than his LOL

Now my socks.  OMG  I LOVED LOVED LOVED knitting these socks up.  They went soooo quick and were so easy to knit.  The yarn is to die for!!  Nice and soft and squishy - and it's sooo pretty.  Not matchy matchy at all, but you know they are definitely meant to be together.

The yarn kept screaming  MUST cast on they said for days!  These are for the March sockbash for the Grocery Girls Podcast and I couldn't cast them on until March 1 - so I compromised - I made the project page, split up the yarn and knit my swatch up - then waited the agonizing 3 days until I could officially cast them on.

I knit these with US2 bamboo DPNs with Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock Yarn in Roskilde colourway.  I loved knitting these so much, that I made them much taller than i make most of my socks.  There was so much yarn on the skein that I even have plenty left over for a few blocks in my cozy memory blanket when I finally get enough leftovers to cast it on.  I want to say a final Thank You to Brownberry Yarns in the UK who sponsored the contest that allowed me get this yarn!

THEN - yes there's more LOL  I've been wanting a project bag pretty bad.  I saw a lot of cute ones, but not ones that said BUY ME now!!  Normally I'd just make one, but with my back issues, cutting fabric is beyond me for the most part as I can't bend comfortably to cut a straight line.  Which is why I've not quilted for over a year and a half.

My friend suggested that I try to cut after I get my nerve blocker injections.  I thought why not??  Worst case I'd have a half cut project bag - best case - I'd have a project bag that is all me.  So I did it - and I just LOVE what I came up with.

I loved it so much in fact, that I've got fabric on my cutting table for a medium sized bag for sweaters / shawls and a larger bag for heavier sweaters and blankets.

What I like about doing bags is that I can use my less loved or lower quality fabric for the lining.  The pattern I found has drawstrings made out of the fabric and I thought that was super cute!  I don't have a stash of zippers on hand, so that was a great solution for me.  These have a light interfacing to give them a bit of stiffness so they stand up nicely.  I just love them and both bags have projects in them :)

What I'm working on now is a project that poked me earlier this year and has continued to poke at me and demand to be knit.  Only issue, it's a shawl.  I'm not sure I'm a shawl person.  The only way to find out if I am is to knit one (or two) up and see what I think.  I'm making the Omorika Shawl that I've named Lace Chart Hell Omorika.  I call it that because the pattern is heavily charted.  I know how to read charts, but prefer written instructions.  It's easier for my eyes to follow and see where I am.  I've never done a lot of chart knitting - and yes I think I've actively avoided it.  This is a pretty intense pattern to be cutting my shawl teeth on for charting - I almost gave up and did another one that has a tutorial included for reading charts.  But I thought to myself.  I REALLY like this pattern and I want to knit it. I've been knitting for over 20 years, I consider myself to be an advanced knitter and I should be able to do this.

My first two attempts were horrific.  First, I had no clue where the pattern was starting.  The tags on the pattern said top down, but it certainly didn't look top down to me.  Inexperience with shawl patterns rearing it's ugly head early in the game.  I didn't use a life line and had to rip back when I got lost in the chart and knit the wrong row.  Soooo out it all came again for the second time - I went back to pattern tracking 101 and started for the 3rd time and am holding to my heart that the third time's the charm.  

It's working!  Tracking is tedious as hell, but I'm getting beyond that and am super excited about knitting the pattern now :D  I think I'm going to be okay - we'll see as the next chart looks a bit terrifying - but there's the old adage of knitting exactly what the pattern says and it'll all work out and don't overthink it.  So far so good :)  

Last night I finished the 2nd repeat of Chart B (The second attempt ended badly at the end of the main body set up which is just before chart B) - am about to put in my third lifeline and start on the third repeat - four repeats in total of Chart B, then Chart C - that thing is put landscape on the pattern page.  oi vay - Thank God for washi tape LOL

I'm knitting this on US3 circular needles with Knitpicks Alpaca fingering in Ernest colourway.  The yarn is so soft and squishy.  This is going to feel so good next to my neck.  I keep holding up the shawl after each row to check how the pattern is looking and making sure that the design is all lining up properly.  So far it's spot on!  Yea me!!

Okay - lifeline time and more shawly knitting goodness!

08 March 2017

March Squishiness

My needles have been super busy this month. I'm amazed at all I've knit so far and it's just the first week of March!

I cast on and finished once sock of the pattern and yarn that just kept poking at me and saying "Cast me on NOW"  The yarn is super awesome to knit, but not forgiving when you frog back.  It becomes friable and breaks - so I've had to take extra care when I'm knitting to make sure that every stitch is correctly on the needle and I didn't do a baby split of the yarn.

This yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock yarn in colourway number 02.  There's nothing on the label other than that, but some searching online says 02 is Roskilde.  I weighed the yarn and split it in two separate balls so I'd know how much yarn I'd have left.  This is the yarn I won on Instagram at Christmas from a company in the UK called Brownberry Yarns.  Included in the prize package were, HiyaHIya US2 needles, HiyaHiya Kitty Snips (these things are so freeken cute!!), Hiya HIya tape measure, HiyaHiya stitch markers that look like little yarn balls, and a printed pattern. I am in love with all the accessories and used them constantly.

I picked a pattern called Socks of Kindness, well more like a recipe - although at the time I didn't know what the pattern was - I fell in love with the stitch pattern and it wasn't until I had already cast on I found the pattern - didn't help me much as it's in French LOL  I found a translation later in cuff down version.  I'm doing toe up, so I am so glad I didn't waste my time figuring it out.

For the foot part, I'm using the Super Sock Calculator which I've found gives me a perfect fit on my foot every time!  The designer has included tutorial videos on her website to help.  The section on the shadow heel is awesome and that's now my go to heel.  I'm in love with it!

I was getting ready to bind off when a nasty gremlin reared it's ugly head and the battle was on!  I have NO, and I repeat NO idea what happened or what I did, but it was a bloody mess!  It took me 2 nights to tink back 4 rows, and then I was finally able to fix it and then redo the 4 rows of ribbing and bind off.

There's still a 'hole' in the ribbing that I wasn't able to fix no matter how I tugged a bit here and there or even hauled away at it.  Even when I tried it on, it didn't go away.  I'm hoping that blocking them or washing them will help get rid of it.  If not, ah well ... I'll have a not so fond memory of the sneaky gremlin that invaded my ribbing LOL

The kid mentioned to me (nicely) last month that he would love a pair of fingerless mitts for when the steering wheel is cold when he first gets into the car.  Since he asked nicely, I said I would knit him a pair and had him pick out some yarn.  He grabbed some yarn from my mum's stash.  I warned him it's wool and that it just can't be tossed into the washer / dryer all willy nilly - he'd have to wash them on gentle and then lay them flat to dry - otherwise they would felt and shrink.  He gets it - I hope so, otherwise they will be ruined.

I found a pattern that uses very little yardage called 75 yard fingerless mitts.  Based on the weight of the yarn, and a formula I found on Interweave, I would have more than enough yarn.  When I half out the cakes of yarn, they come to approximately 43 - 55 yards each.

I cast them on last night and would have had the first one done, but the kid was sleeping so he couldn't try them on for fit.  I just wanted to be sure that they didn't pull awkwardly and the thumb gusset felt right - and that the opening for his fingers would be sufficient.  He tried them on earlier today and the fit is perfect.  I did a stretchy bind off as he's got some big hands as you can see.  Once I get these done, it'll be back to my Must Cast On socks :)

Now, off I go to cast on the second mitt!

27 February 2017

Spiral Cowl Done

Another FO for me this month! Don't think that I'll manage to get another done as there's only a day left in this month - now that would take more needle turbo that I have LOL

I finished the spiral cowl that I was working on in stranded colourwork.  I had a lot of issues with the yarn that I used as a Main Colour.  It started out great and I was really pleased with how it was going, when about halfway through, it suddenly got thin, then thick, then thin and it continued in that manner all the way to the end of the skein.  I'm so happy that gauge wasn't important in this project as if it was, then it wouldn't have fit me properly.  It just meant the my other yarn had to work twice as hard and it did great!

I used it all up completely and totally - I didn't want any of this yarn left in my stash and returned the other skein that I had picked up.  I rather didn't want to do it as it was such a pretty colourway, but I didn't want to use a yarn that would've been worrying about all the way through my project.  I'll find another yarn with a similar colourway - so not to worried about it - much LOL

The cowl did turn out well considering - it fits nicely and as I used this yarn for the lining it's nice and soft against my skin.  I did not block this except for the seams to straighten out the curling so I could seam it easier.

I just love the pattern - it was well written and assumes that a person has a basic understanding of knitting.  The lining is a great idea as you don't have to worry about your floats catching on glasses frames, zippers, buttons etc.  And with this yarn being acrylic, it can get tossed in the washer  / dryer with no fear of it shrinking or felting.  We've had a weird winter and I'm not sure how many days I'll get to wear it this year, but this will be around for several years and I am looking forward to getting some good wearing time out of it.

I've more socks planned and my first shawl :)  I'll be doing two at a time socks for the first time as well since I was able to find a long enough circular to try this with - maybe too long, but would rather have to much than to little.  Fingers crossed I do well with this method and fingers crossed I do well with the shawl too :)

17 February 2017

Another FO pour moi!

With all the goodies on my needles, you'd think I'd have more than two finishes for the year LOL But yea!!! Another finish pour moi!  These knit up super quick too considering I spent most of last week sleeping :S.  This was the first pair where I used the shadow heel method and let's just say, I'm a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan!  I've found my heel!!  It knits up super quick and the one thing that I liked the most - no gaps or holes from my yarn being stretched from here to Kingdom Come.  Nope - that's not an issue with this heel - no siree bob!  Sorry - I'm just giddy because they knit up so fast and they fit like a charm.  They are a wee bit loose above the ankle.  I was speaking to the lady that owns my LYS and thinks that maybe changing my needle size to a smaller one after the heel, could make the difference that is needed.   Actually, I could likely knit on US1 2.25mm and it would fit and that might solve my snugness above the ankle issue .. I'll try it and then I'll know for sure :)

I so want to do my next socks on magic loop two at a time either toe up and cuff down - who knew that finding US 1 or US 2 on 36 - 40" circular needles would be so bloody difficult .. pfft.  I can find them online - but I really do NOT want to pay shipping and have to wait for it.  It appears that even Joann Fabrics doesn't even have them in store from what I was able to see when I went online.  I could buy them online and have them shipped - but ya .. shipping and then having to wait.  I would've bought them online and then went and picked them  up instore - but nope - not an option .. grrrr.  I'll keep my eyeballs open - I might get lucky .. hey stranger things have happened!

I am back to working on my Spiral Cowl and yup .. it's still slow going.  Even though I've a good rhythm going - it's still slow.  I'm at row 24 and only have to go to row 56.  It seems soooo far away from this point LOL  It's going to be worth it though and it's going to look great and be toasty warm.  Although we seem to have a spring like winter.  I'm not complaining, but not looking forward to all the bugs we get after a mild winter.

I might take a break and either finish up my Enya socks, or cast on my new 'fancy' yarn - I can't wait to get my fingers on that and start playing.

I'm eyeballing sweater patterns and more shawl patterns - I will be making a shawl using the Alpaca yarn I've got - I'm excited about it, but still not to sure how I feel about.  Not sure I'm a shawl girl, but I'll try at least two and go from there.

So back to my cowl so I get some work done on it and then I can count that as another finish for the SelfishMe KAL that I'm in on ravelry.  My socks count towards that as well as a few other KALs that I'm doing.  I think I'm seriously addicted to socks.  My goal is to have a drawer full of handknit socks.  I think that would be soooo cool!

08 February 2017

Sock Math Success

It's such an awesome feeling when math actually works - no wonder how convoluted you may think it is.  In my last post I went through the math for two different sites that help you calculate how many stitches you need based on foot measurements and knitting gauge.  I went through the calculations for both and once I made an adjustment based on understanding what resting weight meant, they both agreed.  For US2 size needles, I need a sock pattern that requires 64 stitches. Yea!!!  *knitterhappydance*  You have no idea how relieved I am.  There are way to many choices for sock needles from US000 to US3 and unlike larger garments which can be fidged sizeways in may different locations - sock construction doesn't allow to much fidging.

All the while I was knitting these, I kept trying them on - At first I thought they were to snug, then to loose - the to loose feeling kept on until I turned the heel.  I kept telling myself - don't make any judgments or decisions until you turn the heel.  That will pull the sock into shape and let it cover my foot properly rather than just pulled on over the toes.  It was a pretty agonizing and tenseful knit until I finally got to the heel turn.

I was looking for alternative heel turn methods, for several reasons - I kept having gaps because my first stitches on the needle were generally pulled and stretched that created gaps, and I like to learn new methods.  I tripped over a heel that didn't involve wraps.  It's called Shadow wrap heel turn.  That really peaked my interest.  It's done all at once so to speak, no wraps (yes, no wraps), and looked really easy to do.  I don't mind wraps, but if I'm using a dark yarn, it's difficult to see them to pick them up.  I've been super excited to try this method.  In the picture to the left this is where I've got it set up and am ready to start the rest of the heel turn.  If you notice, my stitches aren't pulled at the beginning, so I had high hopes that I would have no unsightly holes - yes I was getting super excited!  And since there are no wraps, there are no stitches to pick up - just knitting the 'twins' together and making a triplet for the next row.

I could barely wait to try them on, and I use my left foot as that is my larger foot - If it fits on that foot, it will definitely fit on the right.  And O M G - it fits!  No unsightly gaps - there is a hole at the top where I joined back with my knitting, but I'm thinking it was based on having an extra row before I joined back in the round again - easy fix.  I'm SUPER pleased with this heel - I mean .. look at that - and it's the same on the other side too!  I totally recommend this heel and I used the tutorial from Eddie's Room where the Super Sock Calculator lives.

I've gotten up past the top of my ankle and will do one more pattern repeat then start my ribbing.  I'm super pleased with these socks and am beyond tickled that I have my sweet spot for needles and stitch count.  I'm telling you it really gives you a huge boost of confidence knowing that I can cast on my stitches and my socks will fit - I'll do another knit in a Patons sock yarn to use it up and then I'll get into my 'fun' yarn, if I can wait  if not - I'm thinking the Debbie Bliss yarn I won, or Knitpicks Freemont in the Hawthorne Kettle Dyed - I might just have to do the blind reach and grab.

Now I have to find the to that speaks toe me - the wedge type toe isn't my favourite, I'm thinking I might do that spiral cast on - we'll see where my sock journey continues to lead me.

Pattern Info:
US2 (2.75mm)
Dumbledore's Christmas Stockings with
Super Sock Calculator
Patons North America Kroy Socks FX - Celestial Colours
KALs these socks are in - #selfishmeKAL #BoxoSox2017 #23HPKAL2017 #ANADIOMENA 

04 February 2017

Finished Object and Sock Math (Weird Math warning)

It happened! Yes, it finally happened! I've a finished object! Based on the law of averages, something had to give eventually LOL And I'm so glad that it did.  This was an exceptionally easy and well written pattern that included both chart and written directions.  You'd think that with as long as I've been knitting that I would be a chart goddess, but no - for the most part, I follow written directions.

The #ValanarCowlKAL on ravelry hosted and written by Elena Nodel was a great deal of fun and a lot easier to knit that you would think.  The pattern was very intuitive and a pretty quick knit.  All said it probably was 5 days of knitting to get this done.  I was hit by some sort of critter that left me feeling decidedly not in knitting mode, so it languished for about a week.

This was knit on US7 (4.0mm) with Lion Brand Heartland in Great Smokey Mountain colourway.  The yarn is 100% acrylic and I only used one skein for this project.  I picked this yarn for ease of care as this is going to my step dad and I didn't want him to fret on wash and care of it - I want him to wear and enjoy it.

While this was an easy knit, I want to do a super simple knit now, and I want to use some of my new Knitpicks yarn that I've never used before so I want them to fit right - I was thinking a vanilla type sock would be perfect - my concern is that I've not found MY sweet spot for needles and number of stitches for socks - I could continue to cast on willy nilly and hope I hit it with various patterns in different needle sizes, but that would drive me a wee more bastsh!t crazy - so I did some research,

On ravelry there is a Super Sock Calculator that tells you stitches to cast on, stitches for heel and this is a toe up, two at a time calculator.  Sounds super awesome - but still doesn't tell me what needle I should use .. **sigh**

So back to google I went and I found this site:  Sock Math and Sock Chart  And this one included a formula that makes sense!  I think I might have found the sock math holy grail!!!  Their formula states thus:

1. Measure around ball of your foot (at widest part near toes) with foot resting on it’s weight.
2. Multiply # of inches by the gauge. (gauge will need to be determined from measuring a swatch made with intended yarn and tools).
3. Subtract 10 % of this number for negative give for fitted socks.
4. The result is the number of stitches to cast on in stitch used in swatch.

So using US2 with Knitpicks Hawthorne Kettle Dyed fingering weight yarn  So let's do some math - no swatch has been done as of yet - but that doesn't take long at all to do up

Width of my foot - 10"- yes I've a wide foot
Foot width x Gauge from my swatch -  10x8 = 80 ... I've not done my gauge swatch yet, but I tend to knit to gauge and this is based on pattern gauge for the time being - just to play with the numbers
10% negative ease - 80x.9 = 72 stitches

I'm not to sure about that as I've used 72 stitches in one pattern and the socks are largish on me with a size US2 needle.  hmmm The super sock calculator says a total of 64 stitches, and there is yet another pattern for 56 stitches that follows to my gauge.

Here are the numbers that are used for the Super Sock Calculator off their website

Length of Foot - 9
Width of foot - 8 (non weight bearing)
gauge - 32 sts / 4"

My results are:
C:7.5 inches

Which translates into 14 stitch magic cast on (toe up version) increasing until 32 stitches on each needle (64 stitches) and I start my heel at 7.5 inches from toe - I've not had an issue really with length of sock - more like what needles and how many stitches.

I think I'll do a quick swatch and see what I get - I bet if I change the foot width from weight bearing to non weight bearing, the results would be more acceptable.  I just can't agree with 72 stitches for me.  I'd almost rather have a sock a smidge to snug on my foot than swimming like my Midnight oil socks do - well they don't swim exactly, but I would like them to be much smaller.  I"m thinking that the Super Sock Calculator will be my best bet - 64 is following the Enya sock pattern and while that is on smaller needles, it fits me way better than my Midnight oil Socks.  My Sunset Scale socks were a 64 stitch sock and that is acceptable.  Having a super wide foot is a real trial LOL

I did a quick remeasure of my foot and with just my weight 'resting' it measured 8.5"
Width of my foot - 8.5"
Foot width x Gauge from my swatch -  8.5x8 = 68
10% negative ease - 68x.9 = 61.2 rounded to 61stitches

That makes more sense than previous numbers - seems like a really snug fit, but I can adjust the ease numbers or not use them at all

All this for a vanilla easy peasy knit LOL  Good lord, I could complicate a wet paper bag somedays LOL   Once I find my sweet spot for needles, I plan to return the skein I didn't use for the Valanar Cowl and exchange it for whatever size in 40' circs.  Maybe US2 as I seem to use them most.  My circs are all older with much stiffer and unforgiving stiff inflexible cables so magic loop has never been my method of choice.  I think I'll use my Patons Kroy FX yarn instead for the vanilla test knit.  I can grab that at Michaels anytime I want / need it.

That being said, I'm still working on my cowl for myself.  I picked the Spiral Cowl by Betty Narducci, and for this one I am follow a chart - not much choice on this one as there is no written directions.  I chose the Red Heart Unforgettable in the Echo Colour and black as my contrasting yarn.  Not much has been done and I hope to get back to this soon so I can wear it before spring LOL

30 January 2017

Finished Object Please??

A finished object is so close to happening! I can't wait! I know i make it sound like forever, but it honestly feels that way.  You'd think with 4 different projects on my needles, that I would have something ready to show LOL.  I have been steadily working on the cowls in the past bit when I was in a knit mood.

Clue 3 has been presented and been finished for the Valanar Cowl MKAL - Clue 4 is supposed go live sometime today and I'm waiting with bated breath!  With the new cables being added, this cowl feels like it's taking forever to do a round now.  Not sure how many more rows this is going to take.  The yardage for the pattern says 350-400yds; my skein is for 251 yds and I'm still on the first skein - I knit to gauge so ... not sure how much Clue 4 is going to take considering I've not even reached 350 yds - esh I could be knitting til spring!  LOL

While waiting for clues, I worked on my cowl - it's slow going as I'm doing colour work.  I was thinking how long it had been since I've done colour work, and I'm pretty sure that the Kid wasn't born the last time I did it and he's 21 now LOL  oh vay!!!  So, ya - it's been a few years LOL 

I was a wee bit irked by the yarn I picked for my cowl - when I was doing the first 10 rows, it started light then went to dark colours, light and almost black - considering my contrasting colour is black, my eyes were going a wee bit crossed.  I did not it to be that dark - I really couldn't even see the difference in colour while knitting it and the colour difference wasn't apparent on the needles either as you can see in this pic.  It slowed me down even more (if that was possible LOL) just because I had to count each section and checked each colour section and count every stitch at least twice.

I managed to blunder on through it and am maybe - MAYBE a quarter of the way through.  My cowl is half the size of the one I'm making for my step dad and it'll likely take me longer LOL  I'm okay with that, I am enjoying the process and watching the pattern emerge with each row.

I hope that the rest of it will be heading towards  lighter colours that I see in the skein.  I wanted the pattern to pop instead of be subtle.  I think it's going to look great either way, so I won't be disappointed.

I do have another cowl for myself planned  - Cat Lover's Cowl that will use black yarn for the contrast with another Red Heart Unforgettable in the Dragonfly colourway.

In early January I won a contest on Instagram that was hosted by Brownberry Yarns (located in the UK). It was loaded with Hiyahiya accessories; kitty snips, stitch markers, a tape measure, bamboo dpns, a skein of Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock yarn colour 02 and a pattern.  Josie from Brownberry Yarns included a wonderful handwritten note and was a joy to work with and is very personable.  I've been wanting the Hiyahiya kittysnips for the longest time and I just love Hiyahiya accessories.  Thank you again Josie for hosting the competition and thank you for being such a wonderful person :)  I keep looking at the yarn and am wondering what it wants to be.  It looks gorgeous and I love the barberpoling.

No progress has been made on my Enya socks or my stash buster KAL blanket - Once I get the cowls down - I'm thinking I'll be casting on another pair of socks - or force myself to finish my enya socks - either way - I have a few other pairs of socks poking at me or else starting the shawl instead .. hmmm decisions decisions LOL  eeeeep