Monday Mishaps: Quite Shifty

As you can tell from my Friday review, I love TFA patterns; clear, concise and professional. All the clarity in the world will not help you if you are really not paying attention. Since I’ve started the Ombre Cardigan, I’ve been knitting it quite a lot; in the car, playing cards etc. It is an easy enough pattern to remember and doesn’t require a great deal of focus. Focus, as you might guess, is something I have been in extremely short supply.

Several times I took this cardigan out to knit somewhere and forgot to bring my measuring tape. I knew I was supposed to be knitting to 7.5” so I kind of eyeballed it. When I actually measured it, the cardigan was much closer to 8”. I thought to myself that this is not a horrible thing and changed colours to keep knitting.

Ombre Half Back

Now, this is a lace cardigan worked with two strands held together. Aside from the obvious, it means when you are counting your stitches to see where you stand… there are a lot. I spent so long actually counting stitches that it was kind of ridiculous. I am really glad there was a breakdown of the five different sections of the sweater and how many stitches were supposed to be in each one.

When I finally counted the amount of stitches in each section, rather than just the total, I realized every one of these numbers were different from one another. The back was supposed to have 90 the sleeves 72 and the two fronts should have had 47. These are approximate numbers and not the ones from the actual pattern. I ended up with the back being 4 stitches shy, one sleeve was done, the other sleeve was two short, and the thank heaven but the fronts matched!

Ombre Arm Hole 2

I had to fudge some numbers, carefully. I wrote down the numbers for each section and when I completed another row of that section I wrote down the amount of increase stitches in that row. It managed to work out… I think. At least I haven’t gotten to a point where I realized I colossally screwed up.

Well…. Except after I put the arm stitches on waste yarn. The pattern said to CO 4 stitches and place a marker, then CO 4 stitches and continue. Instead of reading that as cast on, I read it as cast off, then cast on. I kind of thought it was an odd thing to do, but I followed the pattern and continued on my way. I think it was the third row when I noticed the holes. This was not right at all. I could tell that I had bungled something horribly.

Ombre Arm Hole 3

I went back to the pattern and CO stands for cast ON not cast off. Cast off is shown as BO, bind off. I had yet another facepalm moment and tried to drop stitches and fix the problem. This wasn’t destined to work though; there just wasn’t enough yarn in that space to CO four extra stitches. I had to rip it back to the arm holes.

I made use of the technique for ripping out I covered a few weeks ago and that made a huge difference. It got me within range to un-knit the last row. It really sucked to take out that much lace, but I feel better for it. The underarms look so much neater now, no holes or stretched stitches. I am glad I didn’t just blow it off and try to sew it together at the end.

Ombre Arm Hole 1

This is just the top quarter of the sweater! I haven’t even started the sleeves or the bottom part yet. Let’s hope I am a little more attentive to the pattern and will be able to complete this project with little to no more huge catastrophes. My relationship with lace is precarious enough that we might need to go on a break after this. You know… get some space and perspective. There are so many yarns in the sea.

Functional Friday: TFA Pattern Review

I am not going to lie, I was at something of a loss about what to review this week. I haven’t really gotten into any new and exciting toys or gotten any new books lately. Then I realized I have a whole file folder on my computer full of digital patterns! With every pattern designer there are multiple levels of clarity and the writing style varies a vast deal. I have always loved Tanis Fiber Arts patterns. I found that I really loved every pattern she came out with, so I have seen quite a few of her products.

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One of the main reasons I love TFA patterns is the clarity; they are very easy to follow. I actually knitted a few of her patterns while I was just starting out as a knitter. The language is always very clear, I’ve never been confounded by a TFA pattern. There have been a few times when I was reading other patterns and I had no idea what the pattern was trying to get me to do. Sometimes I would just wing it and see if the knitting looked right. This is one place there is a great opportunity to learn; if you don’t make mistakes in your knitting you will not learn from it.

Double Socks

I have a lot of friends come to me with patterns they don’t understand and I attempt to help them. Sometimes between the two of us we can puzzle it out, but more often than not, when something is poorly written, you just have to give it a try. I know that is probably the most frustrating answer ever, but that is what I do. Whenever people complement me on my knitting or the skill with which I create a garment, it was either the biggest pain in the neck (because I had to repeatedly rip it out) or I was gifted with a particularly good pattern.

Aran Sweater Complete

The TFA patterns are always on the side of angels. They are well written and techniques are explained well. The legends are particularly thorough which is a great help for me; pattern to pattern the technique for making one right or left differs. TFA always specifies which one they mean.

Alpha Socks

Another one of my favourite aspects about these patterns is the advanced techniques that are hidden within the patterns. In the Terracotta Sweater, there are short rows in the cowl, but the are written in without being named. The pattern doesn’t state, ‘now we are going to do short rows for the cowl.’ I know that I would have run in the opposite direction had this been the case. I would have been worried about the prospect of doing short rows for the first time.

Terracotta Outside Cowl

Then again I have learned a lot of small but useful tips and tricks from TFA patterns. I can imagine they are things Tanis herself learned through her own adventures in knitting. She is kind enough to include those techniques within her patterns.

I just want to put out there that this is an honest review, as are all my others. I am not paid or endorsed by anyone to write great reviews about the products found here. TFA is one of the companies that I have found and absolutely love! I am really picky with my patterns and once I find someone I like, I really stick with them. These patterns are very well written and can be found on Ravelry here. You should also check out TFA’s beautiful selection of yarn on the website linked here. I have had a very passionate love affair with all these patterns and yarns; I should really be in a 12 step program. Paul can attest to that.

4 Month Wedding Update

These months are flying by; I cannot believe there is less than four months to go. Sometimes it seems like four months is forever to wait and other times I feel like October 18th is hurdling towards me as though catapulted. That’s right… catapulted. I feel like there is so much to do and at the same time I don’t know what I haven’t done. I’ve been telling all my friends, who aren’t currently planning their own weddings, just elope.

Wedding

It’s really not going bad. Currently the biggest thing on my mind is the showers. I am having one back home with my family and one in Burlington with friends and a few people from work. My mom is hosting the one back home and Alanna is hosting the one with friends and coworkers.

I am excited because I hope these will be fun and give me a chance to see a lot of people with whom I haven’t visited in a while. I am really hoping there won’t be any embarrassing antics that happen, but what happens at the bridal shower stays at the bridal shower… hopefully.

Wedding Guest Libs

I’ve got a pinterest board started with ideas for bridal showers that I like, there is some really creative stuff! I am glad I know a few people who are getting married after me so I can use the massive amount of wedding boards I am following. I’ll have to go through and methodically unfollow all of them. I’ve got until July 2015, which is the latest date one of my friends is getting married… for now. Who knows what will happen between now and then though!

Wedding Pillows

Wedding-wise, we just got the invitations in. I ordered them via Vista Print and they turned out very well. I actually wish I could have gotten the actual invitation and my RSVP cards a different size, but there were only so many options. Really though, no one else is going to care and I seriously doubt many people will keep them. I was thinking I might get a nice canvas printed with the invite on it. They are really cute and if you’ve got a digital copy, why not take full advantage of it? We will have to see, I plan on getting wedding pictured printed on a canvas to do a collage somewhere. That will probably be part of it.

Stag and Doe planning is going well enough. I am still trying to wrangle in donations for the raffle, but it is a little over whelming. There are so many sources where do you even start?! We should have a good amount though, with the things the bridal party are donating and the things Paul and I have collected ourselves.

Wedding Cat

Paul has started collecting the bits and pieces for the Stag and Doe games. He was actually having way too much fun ‘testing’ the beanbag set he managed to find. I will admit that it was a useful exercise because we quickly discovered that the beanbags were very poor quality and kind of exploded if you tossed them too hard.

That is about all for now. I am starting to feel a constant state of stress which is probably not a good thing. The odds are rising that I will bridezilla out on someone, I haven’t yet; although I HAVE threatened to many MANY times. If it happens I’ll try to get someone to take pictures so I can put that into my wedding planning book. It would obviously be one of those moments you want to remember forever!

Keep Moving Ombre

Well, I’ve finally made it onto the next colour for the Ombre Cardigan! This was very exciting for me, to the point where I totally lost my mind and forgot to actually count the stitches I was knitting. Since this cardigan is a raglan increase it continually gets larger and larger until you separate for the arms. I almost missed the separation.

Ombre Orange Back

This current colour shift should keep me busy for a couple days at least. I can’t help but marvel at the contrast between the two colours. They are both equally bright but so beautifully distinct.  I am easily pleased when it comes to knitting, just give me a colour change and I’m happy.

Ombre Colour Change

While the Ombre Cardigan is going very well, so is my sock! Whenever I’ve been in the car or on the train I’ve been knitting on this sock. I feel bad because I completely forgot about this yarn and it is so beautiful. I’ve made a pair of socks from the same brand, the alpha socks I made for my mom.

This is a TRUE vanilla sock pattern because it is all stockinet stitch. As most of you know, I always use Glenna C’s pattern A Nice Ribbed Sock. The pattern is extremely simple while giving the sock a little bit of extra pizazz. This yarn is quite variegated and I really didn’t think it needed anything extra. Besides, I’ve been wanting to see the difference between the ribbed sock and a plain stockinet sock for a while now.

Apple Socks

While a ribbed sock is slightly smaller and tighter, the stockinet doesn’t have the elasticity of ribbing. I am curious about how it will fit as well. I know that when you wear hand knit socks they tend to expand a bit. By the end of the day, mine are always ready to go through the wash and shrink back down to a normal size.

Actually, Paul and I had a BBQ not too long ago and someone asked if they could borrow a pair of socks. We have tile floors in the kitchen and she was in bare feet. I ran and grabbed a pair of the hand knit socks I had just washed and her fiancé asked if they were for a child. All the yarn I use for socks is superwash and there is usually some nylon content. Even so, when I wash them the foot of the sock shrinks and looks very small. When you put your foot in, the sock feels normal, it isn’t too tight.

I don’t have especially small feet, but I get teased about the size of the socks anyway.

Just writing about socks, I realized I should have made this pair for my Dad. As you can see the colour is sort of manly, usually I am more on the ball than this. Perhaps with the stockinet stitch they will be big enough for men’s feet, I’ll have to test this out on Paul. My Dad and Paul have roughly the same size feet, so there is little guess work.

I am back on a sock kick, but luckily I have the Ombre cardigan to break it up. I just found a section of my stash with all this sock yarn! I didn’t really forget I had it, but it was pushed to the back of my mind and really… out of sight out of mind.

I actually have a couple gradients that I bought from Vogue Knitting Live Chicago! I need to knit those up because really, they’re too cool. I really want to have the two I have knitted up before I get the rainbow gradient. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you some FO’s soon! I’ll keep on knitting.

Technical Tuesday: Wet Blocking

On Wednesday, when I talked about the fiddlehead mittens, I mentioned blocking in its various forms. I realized this weekend that not everyone will A) know what blocking is and B) know what is involved in the process. Since I don’t have any great pictures to do with blocking, I am going to break up this post with the best blocking videos I can find. So, what is blocking?

Every knitter knows about tension, how loose or tight you knit. This is very important when you are determining which yarn, needle size and pattern size you are going to do. Blocking comes at the end of this project; your garment is completely knitted and you heave a sigh of ‘finally’. I am sad to say that you are not done yet my friend!

Blocking is that final essential step in the knitting process. This post, I am only going to go over wet blocking, so those who are fans of steam blocking hold your horses, that post will come next week!

In a nutshell, to wet block a garment, you soak it in water then pin it out to dry. Outside of a nutshell, it is more complicated, but well worth it.

When you are filling your tub or sink with water, it should not be hot water! I try to hit room temperature water so I don’t freeze my hands off. Fill the tub first and add your fiber conditioner, such as soak or eucalan. Usually you need very small amounts of these soaps, when diluted with a tub of water, they still manage to give your knits a great smell. I first started using these to cover the wet sheep smell some yarn produces when blocked. It works wonderfully and now I associate the smell of Soak with a finished object that you’re wearing for the first time.

Once your tub and water are ready, put your garment in the water. You want to be careful not to agitate it too much, just press it into the water until it is fully saturated. If the water is too hot or your garment is agitated in the water it will cause felting. Depending on your yarn and the ease with which it felts, you may be able to get away with a little more or nothing at all. Take care here and remember the cautionary tale of the girl who touched her knitting too much while blocking. It just didn’t end well.

Now that your knitting is saturated with water and you have presumably let it soak for 15-20 minutes. Drain the tub. I generally hold my knitted garment towards the back of the tub so it isn’t sucked towards the drain at all. This is a benefit of using a tub as opposed to a sink. When the water is all gone, gently press the water from your garment. No twisting or wringing it out, just press straight down like you are applying chest compressions to said garment.

I usually prepare a towel beside the tub so I don’t have to walk far with it. When you pick up your knitting, don’t let any of it hang out of your hands. If a sleeve drops, the weight of the yarn will stretch it. You garment is in a very precarious stage now and is vulnerable to all sorts of misadventure.

Place the garment on the towel in a generally flat attitude. This is not the part where you pin it down, so it does not need to be perfect.

I order to get the water out, I use Elizabeth Zimmerman’s technique. I roll the towel with my garment inside. From the bottom up, I roll it as tightly as I can and press along the length as I go. When it is completely rolled up, throw in a few more of those chest compressions to get all the water out.

When you are using wool or another natural fiber that is prone to shrinking, water is evil. You want to get as much of the water out of the yarn as possible. Don’t be afraid to get a little rough with it; standing on the roll is acceptable and even encouraged.

Once you have sufficiently beaten the water out of your yarn it is time for the pinning. I know a lot of people use those foam puzzle piece mats to pin their knitting, but I currently have not upgraded to that. I just lay out a dry towel and pin my garment down to that.

This is where you lay everything out nicely. Make sure the sleeves are the same length, the hem is not rolled and the stitches down the side are all in a row. However you want the garment to look when it is dry, lay it out and pin it to look like that.

After this, you simply let it dry! There you have it, a fully finished and perfectly blocked item. Everyone develops their own system because everyone’s means and needs are different. While I can block things in my tub, not everyone will be able to. Don’t be nervous about experimenting, that is how everyone learns.

Monday Mishaps: Secret Code


In the post I introduced the new blog site, I mentioned that I am not someone who is particularly technology savvy. When I changed over from Blogger to WordPress there was a very steep learning curve, but whenever you make a huge change there is bound to be things that go wrong. This on the other hand was way above my skill level.

When I switched over, I got the domain name and looked at my computer screen with a look like, ‘well… now what’? Believe me when I tell you, Google earned their pay that week. I also went so far as to purchase a book. I desperately needed help.

Wordpress Book

I have a friend who has a WordPress blog, but they were quite busy and unable to help me much. I ended up getting help from Heather Ordover from the CraftLit podcast.

I originally emailed her because I really liked the look of her site and wondered where she got some of the widgets. I am really glad she was so helpful because I wouldn’t have been able to start the site without her help!

The barebones of the site, believe it or not, was the easy part. All the fine-tuning that needs to be done is quite a lot. It is daunting as well. Some of my more spectacular fails include thinking I was getting a lot of people signing up for my email notifications. This is when I learned about spammers.

For those not in the know, like I was, spam is massive amounts of irrelevant information being sent indiscriminately. In my case, there were probably 40 people per day signing up for my blog, but they are not real users, just robotic emailers trolling sites to find some unsuspecting blogger. The Wikipedia article on spam is actually quite intesting. I’ll link to it here. There is a history of spam originating back to the telegraph. It makes me feel a little bit better that this kind of thing was happening in 1978. It makes it feel much less Skynet to me. We are safe from the machines… for now.

Tin Hat

Really the hardest part about building a website, even with the assistance of WordPress is the code. Oh my word, the code. When I was trying to get the twitter widget to work, I had no idea what to do. The programmers make it pretty easy for you too, just fill in the blanks. There are even little question marks beside the blanks in case you don’t know what it is. There were several weeks where I just did not possess the amount of brainpower, and patience, required. There is a number you need to enter.

First you need to install the plugin, then go into Twitter itself to confirm that it is you with the plugin and you need said number. Going into Twitter for whatever number it is was like navigating a labyrinth, there were large digital pits with pointy sticks at the bottom, dead ends and all manner of beguiling fog blocking the way. Eventually I managed to get the number, and it wouldn’t work. I think the internet was just having a bad day or something because I have no idea how I fixed that one.

Over all I managed to get the new site up and running, my shining moment was when I managed to get all the traffic from the old blog forwarded to the new site. To clarify, if you never updated your internet bookmark for this blog, you would automatically be forwarded to the new one. You cannot get onto the old URL at all because you would only get this site. I felt very clever after this, mentally patted myself on the back, and RAN AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. I wouldn’t want to mess it up or trying to add a widget and get a huge failure. The best knowledge is knowing when to stop.

Functional Friday: Podcasts!

Since I’ve been reviewing a lot of knitting tools on Fridays, I’ve decided to take a couple minutes and review two knitting podcasts. The first one is called knit circus, from knitcircus yarn. The second it called CraftLit, it is a really wonderful literary podcast for the book loving among us.

I was directed to the Knit Circus pod cast because I love Jalaa’s yarns. Found on Etsy, KnitCircus does the most amazing gradients! You will see an example of the colourway for the month of may, Over the Rainbow, because I ordered enough for two pairs. I just can’t get enough of these gradients.

I’ve actually met both Jalaa and Amy at Vogue Knitting Chicago! I plan to see them there again this fall! Both of these ladies are the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met, and considering most knitters, that is saying a lot! You can especially tell in their pod cast; sometimes I feel like I am just having coffee with them and listening to what they’ve been up to in the knitting world.

There are a lot of really great resources for patterns, books, upcoming events (mostly in the USA) and a lot of information in general. I usually listen to these podcasts while I am working and constantly take notes. By the time I’ve caught up on all the episodes my desk is completely covered in post-it notes.

The reviews are honest and they always pass on things they think are the best. If something they review doesn’t meet with their approval, we don’t hear about it. Amy and Jalaa keep me in the loop as far as upcoming knitting publications are concerned. I am always writing the release dates for book releases in my planner.

The second podcast I am going to talk about is CraftLit. I briefly mentioned CraftLit in an earlier podcast; Heather was nice enough to help me with formatting the new blog space. I did not really go in depth as to why I like it so much.

As creepy as this may sound, I love Heather’s voice. She has a very good voice for doing audio books or a podcast and has amazing sound quality. There is nothing worse than trying to listen to an audio book with poor sound quality. To really demonstrate how much I appreciate good sound quality, I once popped in a set of headphones and listened to this podcast when I was having trouble sleeping in a hotel. It really did help, I went straight to sleep and had some very strange dreams… Although I think that had more to do with the story that particular podcast was about…

Enough about the esthetics! CraftLit has great content as well, which is really the most important thing. As an English major I really don’t get as much opportunity to flex my language muscles as I would like, so this is a perfect fit for me. As I mentioned in my previous post, the books read on this podcast are in the public domain. Which means they are older and mostly classic literature.

I could, technically, go onto the website that records all these audio books and listen to them straight, but I love the commentary Heather does. She puts things into historical context, accentuates the tone someone used while speaking and those 1000 other little things that make you understand the book better. I have a great appreciation for the research that goes into each book and she really manages to find good information. They are very engaging and I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read more, but can’t stop their hands from crafting long enough!

There is a Spray for That

I don’t know how many of my dear readers know this, but I was raised on a farm in Southwestern Ontario. To answer the first question I always get, no, we do not have any animals; the only animal raised on our farm was my brother. My Dad grows soybeans and wheat so there are about 300 acres of land out there. My parents live so far out into the country, you can’t see their nearest neighbours.

With farm life comes a whole category of things many people don’t anticipate about living on the fringes of civilization. Like the pests…

Kittens 1

It seems, since the last time I visited, my parents were taken by a particularly bad infestation of KITTENS!

Kitten 2

They are too cute! There was a litter of six that are at that particularly fluffy stage of their kitten-hood.

A lot of my ‘city friends’ don’t know that, when you live out of town, people will just drop cats off at your farm. I think it is really sad, but I never managed to get too upset about it since we gained another cat. These kittens are from a litter of those outside.

Kitten 6

I think these kittens are the issue of one of the toughest tomcats that has ever come onto our farm. I don’t have a picture of him, but that is probably a good thing. He is getting up there in age and not looking the best lately. This cat was christened Goofy, because his tail always twitched up towards his back like a scorpion whenever anyone would pet him; my Dad and I always thought it was particularly funny. He was a kitten that was born on our farm and has stuck with us. He occasionally goes on walk-about, but always comes back. He is getting closer to ten years old now, and if you know anything about barn cats, you’ll know this is totally unheard of. He has been the longest lived barn cats I have ever seen.

Kittens 3

Paul and I took our time getting pictures of all the kittens and I felt really strong when I managed not to come home with one. If I end up with one more cat, I can officially be labeled a crazy cat person.

Kittens 5

Besides, I don’t think Chloe would tolerate a kitten. She is the baby and she knows it.

ChloChlo

Unseasonably Appropriate

As I have been saying over the past few weeks, it seems like winter in Canada has finally gotten up and gone! Naturally with the surge of hot weather, I am knitting garments appropriate to that level of heat… Mittens!

I’ve finished the rest of the hand for Shauna’s mittens and just need to start on the thumb and lining, I think I will wait to do the lining until I have the shells done for both mittens. That way I can block them together.

Fiddlehead Mittens Thumbless

I am going to do a before and after photo of the mittens because there is a significant difference. I know a lot of people say lace is that way, it looks like hell, then you block it into something beautiful. Having never knit lace, all I have to go on is these mittens.

The very first time I knit this pattern, I was very upset. I thought I had my tension off and since the colours are carried behind the main colour, they were all scrunched up! I really thought I had messed them up. Of course, I immediately googled ‘Knitting flattening out stitches’. My search was filled with hundreds of things about blocking and I decided I should give that a try! I hear a lot of mixed reviews about blocking and the different methodologies from different schools of thought, but I’d be lying if it didn’t work like a charm. The mittens were prefect!

In my inexperience I didn’t take a picture of the mittens beforehand. I wanted to hide the evidence as soon as humanly possible. This time I am going to show everyone how much of a difference there is. I still don’t think it will be comparable to the first time, because I have a much better grasp on my tension, but it will still get my point across.

Ombre Orange Raglan

Aside from the mittens I am doing well on the Ombre Cardigan! I am really excited about it because this is going to be the softest cardigan anyone has ever seen. The lace I chose to use is Merino and Silk. I can’t wait to try it on! I also really like the Ombre Cardigan pattern because, as childish as it sounds, I can’t wait to get onto the next colour block. Right now I am still knitting with plain orange, but in an inch or an inch and a half, I get to change out one orange strand for one blue strand. I am measuring every half hour or so to see if I have the recommended amount of sweater before I make the swap.

Ombre Orange Back

The end of last week and this weekend I was horribly sick, so I did not manage a whole lot of knitting. I slept a LOT and am now dealing with some seriously spoiled cats! I swear, you give them all your attention for two days straight and they are completely unreasonable after!

Technical Tuesday: Sock Succession Three of Three

The last of the sock succession! Knitting in the round with two circulars is the last technique I am going to go over. Here are a few of the best videos I could find. The first two are by sock queen Cat Bordhi.

I really love the ‘udder’ needle analogy! These are from the top down, so here are some from the toe up!

I will say that toe up double circular videos are harder to find. If you are having issues you should be able to modify the magic loop method to two circulars. Just remember to keep one side of each sock on one needle and the other side on a separate needle!

Socks Two at a Time

Monday Mishaps: Physics and Gravity

Last week I managed to get a lot of dyeing done. I figured out that it was better to do one colour and different bases than one base and many different colours. The water needs to be changed and you have to carefully plan which colours to do in which order. You cannot dye a bright blue then a yellow right after; it would turn green.

Hanging Yarns

I managed to dye a whole whack of Ultra Purple. I am talking 59 skeins of yarn in one go. I obviously needed the room to dry them and I only have one drying rack. Luckily I had bought these shower rods from the dollar store for just this purpose. Once the worst of the water had drained off I moved them from the garage into the hall way on the main floor. At this point the skeins are just damp and need to be aired out.

When I was buying these curtain rods I thought I was going overboard getting ten of them. I thought, since they were from the dollar store, I would rather get too many than have to come back. I used every single one of them.

The mishap comes in when I was actually hanging them. The width of these shower curtain rods is just wide enough for my upstairs hallway. I discovered that the walls along this hallway are not straight. Some of the rods need to be expanded in some places and others needed to be put up crooked.

Hanging Yarn 2

Needles to say it was an experience putting them up and with my coordination, there were mishaps. I was standing on the chair putting these yarn skeins up near the ceiling; working on one where the walls were closer together. I had a hand on each end and was pushing, with all my bodyweight, on one end to make sure this was not going to fall.

At this point I was home alone and had anyone been home, I am sure they would have been cringing. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you are looking at someone using an exacto-knife cutting towards themselves. You’re just waiting for the trip to the hospital.

As I said, I was pushing this rod away from me; normally this would not have been too bad, but as I said before, our walls are not straight. There just happened to be a perfectly placed dip in the wall right beside the rod I was attempting to wedge into place. One second I was pushing this fairly stable rod, the next it had slipped off the wall and time slowed. It was like a scene from the matrix, I was suspended in the air and had time to realize what had happened. I also realized that if I didn’t jump off the chair, I was going to fall in a very awkward and painful way.

Fast like a ninja, I hopped off the chair and managed to land in a crouched position, still holding onto the bar of yarn. Most of the yarn had fallen off the rod, but so help me, I was still holding it.

I had to take the yarn off the floor, untangle it and get it back on the rod. I was a little bummed out about the time it took to put the yarn back on the rod, but at least I survived with all my limbs intact.

Functional Friday: Colours Galore

Friday! Finally! I feel like this was the longest and shortest week ever! While it was going by, I couldn’t see the end, but after I was close to the end… where the heck did it go. Today I am going to talk about Laura Bryant’s book Artful Color Mindful Knits.

LB Book

I was lucky enough to take one of Bryant’s classes at Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2014. I really thoroughly enjoyed the class and it was really worth going to the class in order to see all the examples she brought. The class was called Intentional Patterning with Hand Dyed Yarn and that is a large part of the book!

Hand dyed yarn is always very unique and sometimes you don’t know what to do with it. Bryant’s book and class, help you figure out how to make patterns from variegated yarn. Not just any random conglomeration of pooling and scattered rainbows, but argyle and circle patterns. I could not believe this! It looks amazing and the pictures in the books are wonderful, but nothing beats seeing them first hand. I think when we see things in a picture our mind tricks us into thinking the pictures have been air brushed or altered. I took some pictures of the samples and even those pictures do not do them justice.

Shawl with Kim

There is a lot of information for dyers in this book as well. Mixing and matching colours and tones. It is a really interesting read and I thoroughly enjoyed her class. Very interesting and educational!

Summer Time Madness

With the warmer weather on the horizon I thought an update about seasonal events was in order! Everyone is waking up and coming out of hibernation mode. Slowly slinking to the edge of our caves and blinking into that damnable bright light. What the heck is with the Sun anyway?! I was almost blinded exiting a building anyway.

I’ve already passed a lot of the firsts that come with warmer weather. First sunburn of the season. First mosquito mauling… you know… the normal stuff.

Summer Damage

One thing Paul and I are doing this year that is a first for us, is playing on a co-ed softball team. The last time I played softball was in elementary school, so I am a bit rusty, but it is all in good fun! Paul is actually on the co-ed team and the men’s team.

I actually forgot how physically exerting running from base to base is. I am more of an endurance person rather than a fast person. Paul decided to go to a track near our house and practice running sprints. I thought this was a good idea, so I went too; thinking we could make a game out of it. You know, like a race! Inside I was giggling to myself because I am much smaller than Paul, and have much more endurance. You would think this would mean I was faster since Paul is a relatively tall, broad man with all the aerodynamic styling of a barn door.

HE LEFT ME IN THE FRICKEN DUST!! I was stuck on this revelation for DAYS! I tried, but COULD NOT CATCH HIM. Seriously! It wasn’t even close, where I could have put a little more umph into my sprint and overtaken him. He was just… just… GONE! *I know you can’t see me, but I am making wild arm gestures as I tell this story*

I go to some of the men’s games and the other girls and I heckle the players. To be precise, we heckle our own team in particular. It seems to spur them on by connecting them to that special sense of chagrin and exasperation only a woman can cause. In all fairness the women on the other team do the same thing to their players!

Lately all the games have been later at night, so I’ve missed a couple, but I am happy to report both teams are doing well so far!

The summer is going to be unreasonable busy with all the pre-wedding events going on. Paul’s younger brother has just recently gotten engaged as well. Both Paul and I are in Chris and Allie’s wedding and they are in ours; the four of us have double wedding events to attend! I am really looking forward to their wedding in January though, it’s a beautiful time of year and Allie is really creative. I can’t wait to help out and see all their plans come to fruition. It helps that Allie and I are able to tease Paul’s youngest brother that he is next!

Knock on Wood

With the Kitchener/Waterloo knitters fair coming up, I really need to get on top of dyeing all the yarn I would like to sell there. I realized the other day that they dyeing was only half my battle. I need to knit samples as well! I have a few friends who have volunteered to make a couple garments as samples, but I am the main source.

Ombre 2

I’ve had the Ombre Cardigan planned for a little while. My friend, Lena, gave me the idea for the colours and I couldn’t get it out of my head. My Citrine Label yarn was the perfect match for this pattern. Soft and light, it is deliciously luxurious. I can’t wait to finish it and actually wear it!

Since I need a couple other samples I will probably make a few pairs of socks, a shawlette, hats, scarves and anything else that would strike my fancy. I suppose the best advertising is the kind you wear right? I’ll have to make Paul something as well. Maybe a vest? He gets so warm that a sweater is not really practical.

Ombre 1

As you know from Monday’s post, it wasn’t the smoothest of starts, but everything is going along nicely now. I think I may have just cursed myself, but what is life without a challenge? I am really enjoying the Ombre Cardigan, but it may be partly the yarn. It is so soft yet not slippery at all! I am absolutely reveling in this knitting! I may have come to detente with lace…

On the other side I am still working on a random vanilla sock and Shauna’s mittens. I haven’t really had all too much time to knit! I am sure every knitter feels that at some point; life must go on.

Technical Tuesday: Sock Succession Two of Three

Today we are going to talk about the magic loop method for knitting socks. Essentially you are knitting a sock with one circular instead of four or five double pointed needles. This is something a lot of people use instead of double pointed needles. I always did this for sleeves when I was avoiding double pointed needles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see there are a lot of resources about this technique so go wild with magic loop socks!

Monday Mishaps: Ombre Obstacle

I managed to start a new project this weekend! Naturally it would be featured first in the Monday Mishaps section of the blog! As with any new pattern, you should always read them over before you start. Look for things that say “while you’re knitting this, do this at the same time”; this is always my foil. I constantly miss those paragraphs and manage to knit relatively far into the garment before I realize I should have been adding stitches, changing something, or just paying attention to something in specific.

With the Ombre cardigan you start at the top and work your way down. I completely thought it would be worked from the bottom up, so I was already reeling from that recent discovery. I was really still trying to work my head around this cardigan being knitted from the top down, so I wasn’t paying as close attention as I could have been.

You start with the collar that turns down into a button band. It is worked in seed stitch for 12 rows. I was relieved because I would have at least that long to work in a mindless stitch before doing anything too intense. For the whole 12 rows I seed stitched and thought this was going relatively well.

Ombre Start MM 1

I went back to the pattern and then realized I should have been increasing the whole time I was doing those twelve rows. I sighed and ripped it all out.

For some reason I was knitting really slowly and it actually took an hour for me to knit that inch, to inch and a half. Granted that it is lace, but it is being held double!

I mentally grumbled the whole time I was ripping that out. I was close enough to the beginning that it wasn’t even worth it to try to rip back to a particular point. I might as well just start over again. Ripped everything out and cast on once more. Awesome.

Ombre Skeins

I actually remembered the increases this time around, but I had a different problem. Not too long ago, I wrote a post about ripping things out and I said to ALWAYS make sure your loose yarn in balled or taken care of in SOME WAY. Where I was knitting there were no pets, but there were yarn gremlins! You know… those nasty little creatures that come out when you’re not looking and tangle the yarn.  That’s right, my yarn got tangled! Not too bad, but just enough to make it slow knitting. Just enough to be annoying.

The Ombre Cardigan is off to an auspicious start, let’s hope this is not an omen of things to come in the future. I could use and easy and successful project.

Functional Friday: Knit to Flatter

When I went to Vogue Knitting Live NYC I took a lecture from Amy Herzog. I originally wanted to take her class, but they were completely sold out within a day or two of registration opening. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to be able to take her class, but felt relieved that I would be able to see her lecture.

K2F 1

When I went to the knit to flatter lecture I absolutely loved it! Amy Herzog is an amazing public speaker and kept her audience totally engaged the entire time. She frequently used her own body to demonstrate concepts and give examples of good and bad ideas.

In a nutshell, knit to flatter is about knitting garments to flatter your body type. I am not totally sure what I expected when I walked into that lecture, but I took away a great deal of information that applies not only to my knits, but shopping for clothes as well. The entire lecture hall was given specifications about necklines, sleeve lengths, sleeve styles, embellishments, hemlines and so much more; everything working together to create the best garment for your body.

Since I was unsure how much I would actually retain from this excellent lecture, I bought the book. There was actually a time where Herzog was doing book signings, so I strategically went during that hour and managed to get myself a signed copy.

K2F 2

The book itself is an excellent directory for those who are able to work well with written instructions. All the information from the lecture is in it, as well as 21 different sweater patterns that you can customize to your own liking.

One of the best things about this book is you can see the sweaters knit slightly different on different models. What I mean is, one model is quite tall and slim, the garment she is wearing is long and sleeveless, open at the front with lapels. A couple pages later there is a curvier model wearing the same garment, but it has been shortened and has three quarter length sleeves. The same garment just knit slightly differently. It looks great on both of them, but it is the exact same pattern.

K2F 3

I think Amy Herzog and her merry band of knitters are really onto something here and I would suggest getting yourself a pattern. You can take your own measurements and go through her website, or you can see if any LYS in your area are offering the knit to flatter service. In Toronto, I know the Purple Purl offers knit to flatter. I do have the book, but if I get an opportunity to go to one of her classes, I’ll be all over it!

On the Bookshelf

Oh my word has there been some good reading lately!! My all-time FAVOURITE series came out with a new book; I was waiting on pins and needles for WEEKS! Darynda Jones also came out with the next installment in her Charley Davidson series. I was going insane because there was something of a cliff hanger with that one. I have finally been appeased and I am ready to wait another year for the next books.

Skin Game

First and foremost, my favourite series EVER, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. The 15th book, Skin Game, was just released. Whenever I tell people that this series is 15 books long, they usually balk a little bit. They think to themselves, “Sure, the first few are probably good, but really… FIFTEEN?!”

I can say this because I am one of those people. I find, in many of the series I’ve read, that after book ten or eleven, the plots become repetitive. There is just no more material to cover or they start covering the same things in a different way. Sometimes authors even start pulling random stuff out of the hat that is their imagination. Which would be interesting, but they haven’t laid the ground work for it in previous books! As a reader, you’re thinking to yourself “Okay, cool, but where the hell did THAT come from?!”

The Dresden Files are not like that at all, I always tell people that the first three books are good and the rest are AMAZING. I remember reading somewhere that the first three books were already written before Butcher was connected with a publisher. You can see how the character and Butcher’s writing style evolve as the books go on. I am pretty picky with my literature, but the Dresden Files are the best written books I have read in a long time.

The first book is called Storm Front and it is usually in stock at most book stores. I’ve recently put two or three people onto this series and every time I see someone wandering around the Fantasy section looking for something I recommend Jim Butcher. That is actually how I was put onto these books. I was in a Chapters looking for my next conquest and asked the only other person in the section what their favourite series was. After looking at me like I had COMPLETELY lost my mind the nice man led me to Jim Butcher and it was love at first sight; with the Dresden Files, not the man.

Storm Front

Skin Game has been just as good as the rest of the books and there were a few answers in this book that I have been looking forward to. The book Changes was, surprisingly enough, a game changer. The series was kind of uprooted and tossed around. The metaphorical dust is still settling and some things became clearer. I like the way things are heading, I also can’t WAIT for the next book!

Darynda Jones just released the sixth installment of the Charley Davidson series, Sixth Grave on the Edge. First of all I am just going to say that I love the titles of these books. It is VERY easy to tell which book is the first one. It is a pet peeve of mine when I have trouble telling the first book from the 18th book in-store. I want to be able to pick up a book and look at the cover and have the book number slap me in the face.

Sixth Grave on the Edge

I haven’t been reading the Charley Davidson series very long, but I really enjoy it. I associate with the main character in a surprising amount of ways. If you are a reader of these books, don’t judge me! I just have one of those personalities!

The cliff hanger from the last book has been answered! I was absolutely frothing at the mouth to know what happens next. It wasn’t at the beginning of the book either, it was at the very end! I don’t mind reading a great book to get to the info I really want. The wait was presented in a humourous way as well. I always appreciate humour.

In the premise of the books, the main character is a supernatural entity and no one knows a lot about her powers or how to use them. There was quite a step forward on those grounds in this book, which was a relief to me. I’ve been really impatient to see what Charley is capable of and I know she is going to be a badass when she comes into her powers. I love a good strong female lead any day!

I hope this post helps to make up for the posts last week. I was completely immersed in books and ended up writing a lot of posts last minute. I ripped through these two books in three days. Now I am going to go back and read them slower. You know, to pick up the details and jokes I missed because I was reading at the speed of light.

The next book to be released will be the seventh Iron Druid Chronicles book. Kevin Hearne is a funny funny man and the audiobooks are EXTREMELY well done. If anyone chooses to do some homework before the next book post, please read books one through six. There may be an exam at the end.

Shut the Front Door

Wednesday again! The days are flying by, I can’t seem to get enough knitting time in so I can have a finished object for you! I did get quite a bit of work done on the snuggle sack I was working on, I also managed to begin converting yet another disciple over to the dark side.

The snuggle sack! I don’t feel bad posting this here because I know the person this is for does not read my blog! She will still be in for a surprise when she gets it.

Snuggle Sack 2

I’ve passed the little yellow stripe in it and I do like the look. The stripe breaks it up a little bit and makes the fact that the blue above the yellow and the blue below the yellow are not the same. That’s right, I am using different yarn for the top and bottom. When I started this, I didn’t really have a great plan, I actually intended to pick more yarn up, but just didn’t have the time. Since I was ready to keep knitting on the snuggle sack, but didn’t have the yarn, I improvised. I just held the satin yarn double and kept going.

Snuggle Sack 1

It was interesting enough to start because I was already knitting from that ball, I didn’t want to detach, wind it into a separate ball and re-attach. I ended up finding the other end of the yarn on the inside of the ball and using that. I am knitting from both ends of the yarn towards the middle! I if I don’t finish it before I get there, I will have some odd complications. It’s like Russian roulette, but with knitting.

Now that you’ve seen how dangerously I like to live, you will be able to properly pity my friend Liane. I’ve started to teach her to knit; it was SO meant to be. When she messaged me and submitted that she would indeed learn to knit, she mentioned that she did not have any needles or yarn. I obviously have the answer to this problem; my stash is not getting any smaller or younger. I had some acrylic yarn in a camouflage pattern I had picked up before my first nephew, Ethan, was born. I wanted to make him something cute, yet camo; however, my mom veto-ed the idea and I was left with the pastel baby colours  that assert their dominance on all the really soft and fluffy yarn. I ended up with one skein of camo yarn and Liane, who’s fiancé loves camo. This was perfect! Just enough for a toque (for the US readers it is essentially a beanie.. winter hat… thing).

I know I have expressed my thoughts about how a hat is the perfect first project, but I am going to say it again. HATS ROCK! Alright I am done, I think I might have had too much coffee today…er.. well… this week, but the important thing is enthusiasm and passion! I think a camo toque should impart both in Liane and she will truly convert. She actually has an aptitude for it and picked up knitting rather quickly.

In conclusion, I would like to share that I am now on bloglovin and starting to fumble my way around. It looks like a great way to find new blogs to read, maybe once I have a firmer grasp on it, I will cover it in one of my functional Friday posts.

Technical Tuesday: Sock Succession One of Three

I am going to admit that I was a little bit at a loss for what to write about this week. I kept thinking and pondering what kind of technique I should cover. Everything that came to mind I had already covered. At this point I realized that I was thinking about it too hard and I needed an outside opinion. I asked Lena and she came up with THREE topics right away. I felt like this should have been immediately obvious to me, but it is very similar to when you are looking for the mustard in the fridge. You can’t see it even though it is right in front of your face.

With Lena’s excellent recommendation, I am going to make a three part series about our favourite subject… yes… socks! I blogged about the different heel types, but I did NOT talk about the different ways you can choose to knit a sock. I talk about cuff down socks all the time, this is my go-to knitting technique, but another way is the opposite; from the toe up.

After scouring  YouTube, here are my favourites.

Some of the benefits of knitting a sock toe up, are; using all your yarn. I passed over this subject briefly when talking about the different sock heels but never really got down to the dirt of the situation. When you are knitting from the cuff down you do not really know how much yarn you will need. After you have knitted quite a few socks, you’re more able to guess how long to make the shaft of the sock. In cuff down you cannot just add another inch or two when you’re getting to the end of the sock because you would be adding it to the instep. This would make the sock too long for your foot and I guarantee it would end up in the lonely land of single socks, or you might finish it to give away to someone with bigger feet.

By knitting from the toe up, you are able to try on your sock as you go along and guesstimate the yardage a little better. I enjoy making two balls with a skein so I can tell when I am getting to the halfway point. This way you just keep knitting up to the cuff of your sock and will have very little yarn leftover. This is a win for me personally because I have hundreds of little balls of sock yarn leftover. I am going to collect them and make something with them eventually. It would be more beneficial to stop collecting all these tiny extra balls of yarn!

This last one is not a particular advantage to me, but I know many who would flock to toe up knitting simply because they can escape the dreaded Kitchener stitch. When you knit cuff down socks, you have to graft the toe together. I am not particularly afraid of this, I actually really like it. DON’T JUDGE ME!! I think it is really cool that you cannot even see where you grafted the end together! People always ask me why it looks like I just kept knitting and I look at them with a smile so smug I don’t know how I haven’t been slapped yet. I digress; you can knit your socks from the toe up and completely avoid the Kitchener stitch! The only thing you will have to watch is the cast off around the cuff and if your cast off has a good tension, you should have no problems.

That is all I have for toe up socks at the moment! Feel free to email me or comment below with any questions or suggestions; even to give me a cyber-slap because of my smugness when using the Kitchener stitch.