Friday, February 29, 2008

Did Santa Come Late or Early?

WOO HOO! A big brown box arrived for me today, and the address on it read: Crafts Americana Group, Inc. And you know who that is? Knit Picks!!!!

What a fabulous bunch of goodies! It was just like Christmas....but was it early or late....?

I ordered a book entitled Favorite Socks from Interweave Press, two pairs of 2.25mm and 2.75mm, 24ins Classic Circular knitting needles, two skeins of Essential Sock Yarn (blue violet multi), two skeins of Shimmer Yarn(turquoise splendor), one skein of Bare Sock Yarn (natural) and two jars of Jacquard Acid Dyes (shades of vermillon and brown).

I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at dying my own yarn! That is gonna be so cool....but I have to wait for warmer weather before I attempt that!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two Socks on Two Circs Revisited

Yahoo! My Tickled Pink Tootsies for Jaycee Mae are finished!

The hold-up was that I had to get confirmation of my adorable little niece's foot size. She's going to be 3 years old in less than a month, and can you believe that this little bundle of determination sweetness has a foot length of almost 6.5ins??? She is a big girl though....her sister is going to be 5 years old in three months, and she has a foot length of 8ins!!! No way! That's insane! Jeez, my foot is only a hair over 9ins long...... [Yah, confirms my belief that they breed 'em BIG in Australia]...

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I would knit two socks on two circs again, but the one change I'd make is to get two different coloured circulars!

Two Socks on Two Circulars

I'm progressing well with the two socks at a time on two circs. It hasn't all been clear sailing however. Twice now I've picked up the wrong end of the needle and knit a row before realising the error!

The first time I did it, the scene was not a pretty one! Not only did I knit onto the wrong needle end, but one of my balls of yarn decided to "fall apart" and tangle in the worst possible way - at exactly the same time!

By the time I'd untangled the yarn and put the ball back together [=1 hour later], my frustration and colourful language had already spiralled out of control! I still had to figure out what the *f...* I had done wrong with my knitting, and how to get the two circs back to normal......[insert more colourful language here].....

The second time I knit with the wrong end of the needle, I hadn't actually let go of the needle ends when I realised it, so it was a simple case of tinking that row back and picking up the right needle end.

Here's my progress:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What was I thinking?

First of all, let me say that I have three of the most beautiful nieces in the world. Of course, I am biased! I think I'm the best Aunty in the world too [laughing].

My nieces live in Austraia. From left to right - Karlia (4yrs 8mths), Jaycee (2yrs 11 mths) and Emily (3yrs 7mnths). Karlia and Jaycee are sisters.

When I visited them for Christmas in 2007, their bestest Aunty promised them all a pair of hand-knitted socks. They were of course delighted with my promise. I even allowed them to choose their favourite colours - Karlia chose blue, Jaycee chose pink, and Emily chose orange.

Shopping for the sock yarns was typically a blast! I mean, what kind of yarn junkie doesn't like to splurge on yarn? So, I bought Lorna's Laces Jeans for Karlia, I bought Lorna's Laces Tickled Pink for Jaycee, and ONline Supersocke Orange Variegates for Emily.

In February, I learned how to knit a pair of socks on two circular needles. And I must admit, I love, love, love the technique! But, my thirst for knowledge didn't stop there....consequently I almost drowned [figuratively speaking of course].

I decided to start knitting Jaycee's socks first because her birthday is in April. This decision was quite clever. What was not quite so clever, was that I also decided to learn a new sock knitting that I believed would propel me to "guru" status amongst knitters!

Ha! I'm pleading temporary insanity. Why? Because I'm knitting two socks at the same time on two circular needles!

With my trusted copy of Knitting Circles Around Socks on my lap, and one ball of yarn to the left of me; one to the right, I began! Thankfully, Married with Children was on TV, so as I tried to understand the instructions, I could find the humour in what I couldn't understand!

But I am determined to knit this pair of socks at the same time, and on two circular needles. Stay tuned for more of this fascinating tale!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Herbst Medolie Socks are Done!

I finished the Herbst Melodie socks on 19 February 2008. The second sock only took three days to knit!

They fit perfectly. I could have used a 2.25mm needle and they would have been a little more snug.

Conclusions?? Well, three actually. Firstly, I can knit much faster on two circs. Secondly, the stitches don't fall off my needles anymore! And lastly, because I am so much more relaxed when I knit with two circs, I knit to if I find an 8 stitch pattern repeat (as in casting on 64 sts), then I should knit with 2.25mm circs.

Here are my socks together with a delightful little semi-mini African violet:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Step 6: Knitting & Grafting Toe (Socks on Two Circs)

Hooray! My sock toe and grafting went seamlessly! Easier by far than using dpns ... in the sense that my stitches didn't fall off the needles!

I made a rounded toe - decreasing 4 sts every odd round, and knitting every even round; for 14 rounds. Then I decreased 4 sts every round for another 4 rounds. Total toe decrease rounds = 18.

With 16 sts in total left (8 sts per needle) I used Kitchener Stitch to graft the toe together.

The sock is a perfect fit! Now to start it's partner!

And here is my herbst sock:

Step 5: Knitting the Foot (Socks on Two Circs)

Jeez, I got so carried away with knitting the foot of my sock that I almost made it too long! Thankfully I had the common sense to try it on.

The foot knitting went very fast - I did stockinette on the sole and followed the Ridged Squares pattern on the instep. The total length of the sock from the back of the heel to the start of toe decreases is just a few rows shy of 7 inches (I wear a ladies size 7).

And here's the latest photo:

Stay tuned for the very last step; Step 6 - Knitting and Grafting the Toe

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Step 4: Knitting the Gusset (Socks on Two Circs)

My sock gusset is done and now I've begun the foot! The gusset knitting was surprisingly easy. And in the words of a famous sleuth, "Elementary my dear Watson".

I placed a marker on each circular needle at the point where the decreases would occur. On #1 needle the decreases were K2tog, and on #2 needle the decreases were SSK.

Decreasing gusset stitches continued for just 19 rows. And here's the end result:

Stay tuned for Step 5 - Knitting the Foot!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Step 3: Turning the Heel and Figuring the Gusset (Socks on Two Circs)

Well, I finished knitting the leg - 48 rows which equalled about 4ins. I don't like really long legs are too FAT.

Since I loaned out my book Knitting Circles Around Socks, I had to scrounge around on the internet to see how to proceed knitting the heel flap on circulars. It looked pretty straight forward....but I needed the confirmation. And I found it at the Sock Knitting Tips website.

I knitted the heel flap as I usually do - Row 1: Sl1, K1; Row 2: Sl1, P to end. Thirty rows later, I was done. The next step was to pick up gusset stitches. Again, I referred to the Sock Knitting Tips website. Just as I figured....

And now I am at the point of knitting the gusset and making decreases where appropriate.

Here's the updated pics of my herbst socks:

Stay tuned for Step 4 - Knitting the Gusset

Manos Ponytail Toque

I've needed a ponytail toque [beanie for us Aussies] for years!

Every single toque I own doesn't fit properly - unless I wear my hair down - which isn't common for me. So, when my hair's in a ponytail, it means I always have this darn bulge at the back of my head, and the toque always rides up!

When I saw this brilliant pattern for a ponytail toque [called Hannah by Blake Ehrlich], I knew I HAD to knit it....and quick before the winter was over.

So, I cast this on about 5pm on 11 February. Hannah is written for chunky yarn [Misti Alpaca Chunky] at a gauge of 15sts and 20 rows per 4 inches on 6mm needles. The finished size is 18 inches (unstretched) and 28 inches stretched.

I used Manos del Uruguay yarn which is aran weight [14-18 sts per 4 inches]. But, I wanted a smaller fit because my head circumference is only 21 inches (no, I'm not a pinhead!). Therefore, I used 5mm needles.

I cast the toque off at 11am on 12 February. This was an incredibly easy and very fast knit. Just a few hours of work in front of the boob tube! I added a few row repeats because of the smaller gauge. It fits perfectly, and my ponytail and I are issue-free!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Celtic Cable Noro Scarf

Bonza! Another finished project! Will the madness never end? That's the great thing about having multiple WIPs at the same time. When you finish them one after the other, it seems like Christmas [smile].

And so, last night another project bit the dust. After a month of knitting, I cast off my beautiful Noro Cash Iroha Celtic Scarf. And I love it. It is so soft, cushy and green! It should clash brilliantly with my blue winter coat [lol].

I cast this scarf on while I was holidaying in Oz just before Christmas. I couldn't knit it though because I lost my cable needle and couldn't buy another one in Queensland to save my life! I hasten to add that it was the middle of summer and totally out of season for knitting gear.

Finally in the early part of the new year, I tracked a cable needle down in Brisbane at Threads and More. What a beautiful little yarn and bead store.

I started knitting in earnest once I returned to Canada, but then I ran out of yarn. So I had to order one more skein from the US [amongst other things of course - like who can order just one skein of yarn!]. Well, that took 2.5 weeks to arrive!

But........ now my celtic scarf is done - a happy ending - and here's the finished product:

Friday, February 8, 2008

Felted Laptop Cover (Part II)

Well, it's been 8 days since I cast on my felted Boku laptop cover. Last night I finished knitting and sewing up the bottom. This morning I felted it in the washing machine (hot wash for 20 mins and partial spin).

It is now drying and I wish it was hot and sunny outdoors so that it was dry already! I absolutely *love* the way it turned out. The striping is awesome. This is definitely one of my AB FAB projects!

And here's the outcome:

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Step 2: The Leg - Socks on Two Circs

Oy, oy, oy! Who'da thunk that trying to find a suitable stitch pattern for my sock leg would be so exhausting and frustrating?

I frogged this herbst sock a total of 5 (yes 5!!) times. And why? Because, because, because [insert pathetic whining here]. My herbstmedolie opal sock yarn is so vibrant (but I still lerv it) with such short runs of colour that all the patterns I chose were swallowed up by the bright colouring [bugger].

After the first few froggings, I figured that the kind of stitch pattern to "pop" would probably be an embossed stitch of some kind. So off I went in search of such a pattern. Ohmigod! Endless hours, ridiculously late nights, very little sleep, lots of chocolate, two more froggings and still no suitable pattern after a week!

My own fault really (a) for choosing such a colourful yarn, and (b) for only casting on 60 stitches [I must protest here that I do have a small foot!]. I found a couple of patterns that looked pretty good, but they all required 56 or 64 stitches, and I didn't want to frog my sock cuff for the sixth time.

So, finally yesterday I settled on a pattern (of course, it was the first one I saw more than a week ago....), and the leg is knitting up fairly nicely. The pattern is called "Ridged Squares" and is from the book "More Sensational Knitted Socks" by Charlene Schurch. Here's where my leg's at:

Another sock pattern I really like is the Jaywalker. But it required size 2.25mm needles and an 84 stitch cast on. Not suitable for my current sock, but there's always next time.

Stay tuned for Step 3 - Turning the heel!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Step 1: Casting on Socks on Two Circulars

Before Christmas some members of our little knit group in London (Nadine, Maria, Kanna, Kat, Shelaine, Barb, Lynn and I) decided we'd like to learn how to knit socks on two circulars. We thought this would be a really cool January/February project. Kat had already mastered the technique, and so was nominated our "sock guru".

We looked and drooled through various sock books; namely "Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles", "The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook", "Knitting Circles around Socks", "More Sensational Knitted Socks", and "New Pathways for Sock Knitters".

As it happened, at the end of January, our LYS had a 25% off sale! So we gathered at the fray, ooooh-ed and aaaaah-ed, touched and squeezed yarns and pulled out our trusty credit cards for a sock yarn shopping spree!

The following week we began! We learned how to do a long tail cast on first. There's an excellent video of the technique here. Next we had to learn the circular knitting technique. There's an excellent video of the technique by Cat Bordhi here.

And here's the start of my socks on two circs project:

Stay tuned for Step 2 - The Leg!