Saturday, January 29, 2011

So, It's Been a While

It's been a whle, Crocodile... and life marches on regardless of my blogging.

I have been busy, but for the life of me I cannot recall what I've done during the last two weeks!

Certainly there was...knitting!!

I attended a fairisle workshop taught by Joan from the Little Red Mitten in St. Thomas.  This workshop was four hours in total, and held on two consecutive Thursday evenings.  I went along with my lovely friend Barb.  The workshop covered two-handed fairisle knitting, learning to knit continental style (yarn in the right hand) and steeks (cutting your knitting).

The end result was a cowl that was knit in the round with steeks.  I then cut the steeks and sewed them under using whip stitch.  The closing is a button with an Icord loop.

Fairisle XOX Cowl
Background:  Malabrigo Silky Merino DK (teal)
Foreground:  Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (Stellar Night)

Last week I finished knitting a pair of Kitty Selbu mittens designed by Terri Shea. The pattern was gifted to me by my lovely friend, Laurie, who wished to help Terri, and who knew I loved cats.

This traditional Selbu style mitten was inspired by Terri’s cat.  Her poor Baby kitty suffered heart failure - at only three years of age!  Baby is recovering beautifully, but the vet bills totalled over $2500.  These mittens were designed as a charm or prayer, to strengthen Baby and help her to recover.

I owned a beautiful Chocolate Burmilla that I lost to cancer some years ago. The vet bills were exorbitant! So these mittens are a tribute to my beloved “Tallon”.

Burmilla Kitty Selbu Mittens
Background:  Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Socka (cream)
Foreground:  Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet (browns)

My MIL celebrated her birthday last week, so I whipped up a  cowl for her using the ever faithful and very interesting Labyrinth pattern by Roxanne Wood.

Labyrinth Cowl
Yarn:  Fleece Artist Scotian Silk (wine)

I also finished a scarf; the Dark Mark Illusion Scarf by Lindsay Henricks.  I had wanted to try "illusion" or "shadow" knitting for some time, and after seeing a scarf project at Little Red Mitten, I knew I wanted to cast one on!

Dark Mark Illusion Scarf
Background:  Cascade Yarns 220 Wool (granny smith green)
Foreground:  Heaven's Hand Wool Classic (chocolate)
I've also been designing a fair isle vest pattern.  I'll have photos and hopefully a pattern by next week!
In other news, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, re-uniting with friends from school that I haven't seen in almost 30!!! years!  There's a class reunion being planned for later this year, and I'm hoping to attend.
My MIL has been very sick, so I've been spending an hour or two a day (for the last 9 days) at her house, helping her with cleaning, cooking, looking after her cat, and washing.
Til next week then....unless something totally awesome and blog-worthy happens in between!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Favourite Sweater

Last year on 2nd September (no my memory is not that good - I checked the date on Ravelry) I cast on Seneca, a lovely cabled sweater from the book "Made in Brooklyn", by Jared Flood.

Today I finished it....


Seneca is a seamless pullover style sweater with a cabled yoke, and hemline and cuff details.  It features round yoke construction with short-row shaping, a sewn bind off, and sideways cable motifs.  I knit mine in Cascade 220 Heathers (olive/moss greens).

Initially, I had a little trouble getting gauge on this sweater, but that's because I subbed the yarn called for with the Cascade 220.  Although still a worsted weight yarn, my row count was a little short, so I made a mental note of that and added length to the body and sleeves.

This pattern was an easy knit, and the construction was fantastic!  Who doesn't love seamless knitting?  BUT, as much as I love cabling, and I really, really do, the sideways cable motifs were responsible for quite a few outbursts of profanity!  It was really cool knitting the cables sideways, but my poor little fingers didn't like the aggressive increasing required to give the cables a "deep relief" appearance.

I did make a few mods on this one since I wasn't knitting entirely to gauge. 

  • I went down a needle size to 4mm to obtain gauge.
  • I knit the body in the 36ins size even though I'm about a 37-38ins gal.  The next size up was to fit 40ins, and that was just too big.
  • I tried cabling without a needle, but found it more difficult with this pattern because of the sideways cables and the tightness of the cables themselves.  It was just easier to use a cable needle one size smaller than my knitting needles.
  • Every time I had to M3 from one stitch, and M1 either side of this stitch, I used a 2.5mm cable needle to help knit into the back of the stitches.  It was too tight otherwise.
  • I added 2ins to the length of the body cos I like my sweaters to sit on my hips, not above them.
  • I knit the sleeves in the 40ins size because on most sweater patterns, the sleeves are just a bit too tight for me.  The 40ins size only had two extra stitches anyway.
  • I knit the sleeves two at a time on one 47ins circular needle.
  • I added 2ins to the length of the sleeves, and could have possibly added another half inch.  Blocking might give me the desired length (I like sleeves to come down about 2ins past my wrist).
  • When I joined the sleeves and body at the yoke, I had to decrease 4 sts evenly around yoke because the sleeves had two stitches each too many (being the 40ins size).  The extra four stitches would have thrown off the cables.
  • I used Kitchener stitch to join the seams under the arms.  The pattern doesn't mention how to do it.
  • There were a few bits of errata in the pattern, but I figured them out as I went along, and they've all been documented in Ravelry anyway).

As I write, Seneca is blocking and drying.  I have a feeling this will be a new favourite sweater!  And yes, a few of you did hear me say that I'd probably never knit this one again.  Well, I'm going to rescind that statement.  The fit was well worth the punctured fingers LOL.

Monday, January 3, 2011

These FOs Fell Through the Cracks

I knit 24 gifts for Christmas!  You heard me....24!  That's like one a day from 1st December until Christmas Eve!  Yowza!

Due to the blur that WAS Christmas, I didn't blog about quite a few of the gifts, so here are the finished objects that fell through the cracks.

In no particular order:

Viking Surprise Jacket
Pattern:  Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn:  Viking Ragg Sport

Kitty Catnip Critters
Pattern:  Friendly Little Bugs by Dawn Finney
Yarns: Odds and ends from stash

Amazing Labyrinth Cowls
Pattern:  I adapted the pattern from Labyrinth Duo by Roxanne Wood
Yarns:  Cascade Eco Wool & Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca

MIL Felted Clogs
Pattern:  Felted Clogs AC-33 by Fibre Trends
Yarns:  Cascade 220 & Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted

Canadian Trooper Helmet Liner (for troops in Afghanistan)
Pattern:  Helmet Liners by Knit 'n Style
Yarn:  Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted

Amazing Labyrinth Duo
Pattern:  Labyrinth Duo by Roxanne Wood
Yarn:  Knit Picks Bare 100% Merino (I dyed the yarn)

Sandi Pandi Neck Warmer
Pattern:  Sandi Pandi Neck Warmer by Isa Webb
Yarn:  Sandi Pandi Smooch Pooch (Yarnmarket)

At the moment I'm working on finishing Seneca by Jared Flood. This sweater was put on the back burner since September when I started knitting for the Ilderton Fall Fair.  I'm almost finished it!!  Hopefully just a few more nights and I'll be done.

I'm also working on the Dark Mark Illusion Scarf by Lindsay Henricks.  This is a fairly mindless knit, but it too has been on the back burner while I'm finishing Seneca.

Ta daaaaaaaaa!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January is ...

MITTEN MONTH!  And mitten month means it's time to join Ravelry's annual NaKniMitMo11 Knit Along (KAL).

Last year I knit three pairs of mittens for the KAL:  Swedish Fish by Spillyjane, NHM #7 by Terri Shea and Aran Felted Mittens by Shirl the Purl.

Today I signed up for the NaKniMitMo11.  It began on 1st January and will conclude on 31st January.  Members simply knit as many pairs of mittens as they want during the month of January.

Why mittens? Well, January is one of the coldest months of the year and mittens are much warmer than gloves. They are relatively quick to knit, and you can be brave in color choices. You can try out different techniques like stranded colorwork, cables, etc. There are almost 3,000 mitten patterns on Ravelry. You always have enough yarn in stash for mittens.  See, a lot of good reasons!

Pictures of finished mittens will be on display in the NaKniMitMo Flickr Group.

I had absolutely no idea which mittens to cast on until today!  This afternoon I received an email from my fabulous friend LaurieM.  Laurie bought me a knitting pattern - Kitty Selbu from Terri Shea Designs!!!  Terri Shea!!  How does she know I love her designs?  How does she know these things??  When Laurie read the story behind this pattern, she couldn’t but want to help, and thought I might enjoy both the pattern and the story.  Isn't she simply wonderful??

So here is the story behind the Kitty Selbu mittens, as written by Terri Shea:

"This traditional Selbu style mitten was inspired by my cat. Not uncommon, right? We all knit for our cats? Poor Baby kitty was wasting away, panting, and just plain failing. A trip to the vet uncovered heart failure - at only three years of age! She received excellent care, and is recovering beautifully, but the bills total led over $2500, plus her five daily medications. I love my cat, and I hope you love your pet enough to have some sympathy, and buy a pattern. Knit mitt tens for the cat lovers in your life.

Sebum knitting uses designs and motifs with specific meaning. I designed this mitten as a charm or prayer, to strengthen Baby kitty and help her to recover. They feature extra long cuffs. I modified the traditional water pattern, to turn it into a heart beat, and if you prefer shorter cuffs, this motif can be omitted. The parade of dancing kitties around the cuff should be self explanatory. The rosette of hearts on the hand back strengthen Baby’s heart, and proclaim my love for her. The life-giving properties of the hearts are strengthened by the budding branches between each heart. Tiny life-symbolizing pomegranates fill in the spaces between rosettes. The thumb repeats a cat, a heart, and a pomegranate.".

What a touching story.  No wonder Laurie wanted to help.  Terri's story brought a flood of memories back to me about my own darling, my sweet, my wonderful little Tallie.  Tallie was a burmilla; the same breed as Sandi Pandi, but chocolate brown.  He died of cancer at the age of 6 almost five years ago - a congenital condition that worsened the older he got.  He and I were very close.  I suspect it was because he was constantly sick and requiring my attention and love all day.  He was in intensive care at an animal hospital, and as organs failed, and one operation lead to another, the final vet bills totalled over $6,000!  And the worst part was, I had no cat to show for it....

So as I knit these mittens, I pray that each loving stitch gives a little more strength to Baby kitty, and that her road to recovery is swift!