A Week In Woolies – Jan 16 – 22

Week in Woolies Jan 16-22

Let me say this this week. It was cold. Damn cold. At least at the start of it.

Jan 16: my day off, so I went grocery shopping. All the accessories (and the lack of scarf) are inappropriate for walking in the weather, but I as I was driving and only walking across a parking lot, I did it anyway. This is not recommended, what if your car breaks down/you’re in an accident and you have to get out and wait for police/emergency/whatever? But I hate being too bundled up at Safeway. Those fingerless mitts were my first knitting-in-the-round project, and sit low enough on the back of my hand that it is easy to pop my thumb out of the thumb hole and pull off the gloves underneath without taking them off.

Jan 17: This is what -50C with windchill looks like. My thrummed mittens (like wearing your largest pair of oven mitts out of the house, but so warm), my super-long-Bob-Cratchit-scarf, my warmest (and itchiest, sigh) hat, all topped off with the dreaded puffy jacket w/furry hood. Yes, I needed both hood and hat.

I take a bit of a perverse pride in saying that I continue to walk to (and from) work in all weather, but when I was done work at midnight and it was -50C with the windchill…. I wussed out and P came to pick me up. Unlike a co-worker who rode her bike home that night. Had we known that at the time, P and I would have stolen her bike and forced her to ride home with us in the car.

January 18 & 19: Much like the days before, but I switched up hats to amuse myself under my hood. I really like the black and white one, it is the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits. I just wish I’d made it a little bigger, to fit my giant head properly.
Week in Woolies Jan 16-22

January 20 and 21 the weatherman lied to me. Each day it was forecast to be warming up that night, and as I’m heading home around midnight, I dressed to be a little chilly on the walk in, but better on the way home. This is not the way to plan, because the weatherman lies! Thus my surprised (and red) face after my walk in on January 20th.

January 21: only 1 hand-knitted item! That white hat is one of the few storebought hats that has ever fitted my very large head. ‘Onesize’ hats do not fit. Ever. If I want a nice hat (like that one) I have to go to an actual hat store, where hats come in sizes, and even then most of the womens’ hats don’t fit. My Ulmus shawl is a nice big one for keeping the chin warm (or up to the nose, as on Jan 18th), and was the only pop of colour in this outfit. I hadn’t worn all those white things together before, I think I was a little afraid of being mistaken for Bonhomme or something.

Then, on January 22nd, Mother Nature proved just how exciting Calgary’s weather can be… we had positive temperatures again! From -50 to +1 in 5 days. I pulled out my Odessa hat, the lightest and non-wooliest hat I’ve knit myself in celebration. Only 70% wool, and knit by me in 2007! Although, the prize for oldest knitted project goes to the wristwarmers from Monday, knit in 2003. P and I worked at the same time on Sunday, so he took the photos for me. The first few were accidentally taken with the ‘Dali’ Hipstamatic lens. Fun, but not too great for details. The shots were too fun not to include though.

 

I think this ‘week in woolies’ thing would be fun to do with a bunch of other knitters! Let’s see all those carefully hand-knit items out in the world, being worn. After all, isn’t that what they’re for? You don’t need a camera phone, you don’t need to make little collages*, just post a photo of some sort! Let me know if you’ve done it, and I’ll include the links in next Monday’s Week in Woolies post! Heck, they don’t even need to be hand knit, just show us what you look like bundled up for winter every day!

*If you like the look of the collages, try FD’s Flickr toys for something free, or if you have Photoshop, check out Pugly Pixel’s photo layouts!

A Week in Woolies #1

After my post last week about my mis-matching of knitwear in the winter, I decided to start a little series on the blog. ‘A Week in Woolies’ means I will try to remember (that’s the hard part) to take a picture of myself with my iPhone that includes my hat, scarf, and mitts/gloves.

I figured it would be fun because there are so many pictures of in-progress knits on this blog, but not many of things being really worn. Modelling shots of the finished object don’t count. ;) We’ll also be able to see patterns in what I wear (I can already tell you I wear my blue/green Clapotis all.the.time.) and if I look like ‘that crazy knitting lady’ as I’m walking down the street.

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Here we are, starting with the photo you saw last week.

As it was a new idea, I wasn’t too great with remembering to take photos, but I seem to have the pose down pat. I also thought it would be fun to put in the temperature range for each day, because you will see a definite down-surge in matchiness as it gets colder. I would rather my ears and fingers not freeze off than look cool.

The blue gloves on January 13th are great warmer-weather gloves. I bought them at The Bay a few years ago because they match that blue-green scarf I wear so often, and because they’ve got little conductive fabric patches on the index fingers and thumbs so I don’t have to take them off to operate my iPhone. It’s a little fiddly making sure you’re pressing with exactly the right part of your finger, but it is better than taking them off.

January 14th I’m actually wearing at matching hat & mitten set knit from yarn I spun myself! I use the term ‘matching’ loosely, you can’t see mitten #2 but it was a yarn that had loooong colour changes, so let’s call it more of a ‘coordinating’ set than a ‘matching’ one. The scarf I’m wearing there (which I also wore on the missing Jan 12th – didn’t take a photo because it was too warm most of that day and the scarf very soon moved to my purse) was my gift in Kimberly Michelle’s ‘Made By You’ gift exchange. It’s lovely and soft and warm, and goes pretty well with my new hat and mitts! It was made by new knitter Teale. Thank you so much!

January 15th the temperature took a nosedive and I was under-dressed in the hat department. And, truth be told, the coat department. The historical weather data on The Weather Network doesn’t seem to include the windchill, but on most days when it is that cold, there’s also the lovely biting wind that makes it feel 5 to 10 degrees colder still. Luckily, P dropped me off at work, and a kind coworker drove me home that day so I didn’t turn blue. Those pink and purple mittens though? Great for the cold, as they’re lined so they’re really a mitten inside a mitten.

Summary of the week: I felt fairly coordinated all week, up until the 15th when I made choices that were bad for both matching, and the weather.

Forecast for this week: The temperature is going to hover around -30C until Sunday or so, so I will probably be wearing my hated down parka for most of it, and the warmest knits I own. I try to deny the fact that I live somewhere where an down puffer coat is necessary, but when the windchill makes it -40C*,  I give up and just put the damn thing on. Until that point, I’m very happy to deny the coldness by wearing my regular wool-blend coats (the white one is Anthropologie {$45 on Boxing Day!}, the grey is Soia & Kyo) with various layers of sweaters underneath.

What do you look like all bundled up?

*fun fact: Celsius and Fahrenheit match up at -40. -40C and -40F are the same temperature: F-ING COLD.

Husband Hat

So the hat that I promised P ages ago, the one he really really wanted me to make, was based on a video game. You may have heard of the Metroid series of games – basically there are creatures called metroids that look like this:

They’re greenish, have 3 red ‘eyes’, and claws that will latch onto you and suck your energy. P wanted me to make him a toque (‘hat’ or ‘beanie’ for my non-Canadian friends) that looked like a metroid. As you saw before, we bought yarn together in appropriate colours. Cascade 220 comes in a great selection of colours, including a heathered collection, which I find just gives a bit more life to the colours.

(the greens are heathered, the red and white are regular)

Then I made a very technical sketch:

And then, I started designing my very first hat! I knew going into this that the hat part would be easy – it was the claws that would be the hard part.

Nothing comes up on Ravelry when you search for ‘metroid’. Searching for metroid hat comes up with a lot of pictures of fleece ones, and some crochet ones – crocheting the claws would be much easier, but I’m a knitter through-and-through. I also wanted to make the claws functional as earflaps – it gets really cold here, and I didn’t want to make P a hat that didn’t actually keep him warm! That’s why we bought wool to make it out of.

The big question is: Do I know enough about knitting to make the fabric match my sketch?

A Knitter’s Woolies

As a knitter, I knit a lot of things. Things like hats and mitts and scarves are fun because you don’t need to be super-worried about fit. Scarves – not at all, mitts and hats – small enough that starting over isn’t a huge chore.

As a knitter, I love fibre and all the different colours it comes in. I want to buy all the fibre I can fit in my house, and then some.

As a knitter, I love the millions of patterns available to me through the internet and books, (almost) all categorized by Ravelry. It is through browsing patterns on Ravelry that I realized that there is an immense number out there.

The above statements add up to – I like knitting little things, in different yarns and patterns. Meaning…. a knitter’s woolies will rarely match. There’s too much fibre out there to knit with the same thing twice! The same goes for patterns!

Today I felt like I did a very good job of coordinating my cold-weather-wear, so (for once) I wasn’t that girl with the blue/green scarf, red mittens, and beige/rainbow hat. Pink hat, purple/pink scarf, purple/pink mittens… not bad! Not to mention the permanent fixtures of the purple glasses and purple purse.

I feel like I’m starting to reach that point where I’ve knitted enough to start having things that coordinate, although the above group is the only proper ‘set’ I could create. I think some blue/green/grey mittens might be the next thing I should knit. Which leads to…

As a knitter, I hate knitting the ‘shoulds’. I just want to knit what I want in that particular moment. So I do. And while the matching was nice today, tomorrow I might put on my grey hat, maroon scarf, and store-bought fleece mittens, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Starting as I mean to go on

P (voluntarily) took me yarn shopping on one of the last days of 2011, so I can knit him the hat I’ve been promising him since the summer. All 4 skeins are wound, and the knitting has started. Let’s hope it keeps going this smoothly.

It’s a pretty specific hat, so I’m getting a great start on that resolution of mine to start designing knitting patterns!

I also got a skein of this on the trip:

Fleece Artist Kidazzle – after reading The Knitter’s Book of Socks, I decided to try to find a sock yarn with mohair in it and see how it wears. Ravelry calls it a sport weight, but it seems like a fingering weight to me. I might use it for the Rick socks that were too tight for me when knit out of a very thin ‘fingering’ weight yarn I had in the stash. The Rick pattern is a spiral which puts a huge compression on the sock, just like one of those Chinese finger trap things I used to play with as a kid. The more I knit on it in the smaller yarn, the smaller it got. The cuff at 2″ fit over my heel, but when I had 5″ of cuff, I couldn’t put it on at all.

It’s a Christmas Sweater!

And not one of the reindeer kind, either.

My orange and purple Wollmeise sweater is finally done! I used the free pattern ‘Paulie’, Wollmeise yarn, and buttons from the yarn shop of my heart, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.

I used almost every single piece of the two skeins of orange Wollmeise (colourway ‘Kurbis’). In the body of the sweater I alternated yarn balls every two rows, but I used just one ball on each sleeve. The button band/collar is a combination of the two balls of orange. I’m pretty sure I still have enough purple left for a pair of socks.

I personally can’t get the shawl collar to fold over like it does in the pattern photo, but I think it looks just fine flat as well.

I could do with a tiny bit more ease in the sleeves, but it isn’t unmanageable, I just probably won’t wear any but the tightest-fitting long-sleeved shirts under there. T-shirts work fine though.

There are 11 purple stripes in the body and 14 on the sleeves, and with the amount I had left from my two skeins of Wollmeise, I couldn’t have made it anything but a row, maybe two longer in the body, so it worked out perfectly!

I sewed the buttons on with some of the Wollmeise – I separated 3 of the plies, and used that as thread to sew them on. How perfectly do they match?! I didn’t have the yarn with me when I bought them, but I saw them and just knew. I think they’re shell, but the coating that makes them orange has an interesting rubbery finish. They’re almost too big for the button holes, but they do fit through, crisis averted there!

My very patient husband did this photoshoot with me yesterday afternoon. There may be snow on the ground still where we were, but Calgary has been having unseasonably warm temperatures for most of December, so it wasn’t too bad being outside in just my sweater. I was thankful to put my coat on when we were done though! I think P took some awesome photos with our new camera, and even had fun playing with the 4pm setting sun when I asked him to. Here’s a bonus photo of my lovely man looking very dapper in the hat I bought him for Christmas:

 

SSK KAL – Wendy Johnson

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This is a big slouchy hat. I don’t currently own a big slouchy hat, so I’m not even too sure how one would look on me, but I enjoy the knitting of the knitting most, so if it doesn’t turn out I can give it away.

It’s a big, slouchy, pink hat, in case you couldn’t tell. It’s winter here, so daylight is hard to come by.

The reason I’m making a big, slouchy, pink hat is simple: SSK.

SSK is a knitting retreat that will be happening in Nashville in June of 2012. It’s being hosted by the Knit Girllls and Carin from Round the Twist, and I actually got in! There was a lottery for spaces, and luck was with me that day. To get everyone excited in the Ravelry group, there is going to be a series of knitalongs between now and June, and you can get extra raffle tickets (to be used in Nashville in June) by participating. This month, you have to knit a Wendy Johnson pattern, and you’ll get extra raffle tickets if you use yarn from one of the vendors that will be selling at the market in Nashville. I ordered this yarn, thinking it was red, from Cloudlover back in October. The first ball got lost in the mail, so this is actually the second ball that was shipped to me. Great customer service! I’m glad I picked a hat pattern – I was skeptical that I could knit a pair of socks in the timeframe given, and with the shipping delays I definitely wouldn’t have finished in time. As it is, I knit most of this hat up in a day or two, and just haven’t had time to sit down and do the decreases recently. As long as it is done and photographed before November 30th, I get my raffle tickets. :)

I’m super-excited about the Super Summer Knitaway – I’ve been to big things like the Sock Summit before, but never a smaller, more intimate retreat. And I think Nashville will be awesome – one of the ladies at The Heatley Cliff podcast used to live there and talks about it every now and then. I need to go back and make notes on where to go!

That Rhinebeck Sweater

Rhinebeck being over and all, I thought I’d give you a little update on that sweater I’m making in honour of the wool festival I couldn’t go to this year.

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It has a body! Right now it is a very nice orange-and-purple-striped vest. I got up to 11 purple stripes before it was about the right length.

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Then a nice garter stitch hem to stop it rolling. I can’t wait until it is time to put the garter stitch button bands on, to stop the fronts rolling in like that!

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And there is my proto-sleeve (and grey manicure!). The sleeve knitting started after that purple stripe, so I’m only a few rows in in the photo, but I’ve got 2 more purple stripes on the sleeve since then. Hopefully the sleeves go faster than the body, as they’re so much smaller, plus they get smaller as you knit – the bottom of the sweater increased after the waist so it just bigger and bigger.

I knit the garter stitch at the bottom on a needle 0.5mm smaller than the body, to keep it tight, as garter does have a tendency to flare out from stockingette when done on the same needles (at least it does at my gauge!).

My revised goal is to have this lovely orange sweater done by Halloween!

Big Bootie Number 2 & 3

Little booties, really, but did anyone else ever play the circle game Big Booty? Or was that just a theatre warm-up thing? Big booty number 3….

Anyway, I finished the booties that I’d started in the last post:

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Normal-human-sized hand for scale!

These booties were made from leftover yarn from two different projects – the maroon part was leftover from my Ulmus shawl (I had none of the lighter tweed left over, sadly):

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And the cuffs were made from leftovers from my very first pair of socks!

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I couldn’t find the actual socks to photograph with the booties. They ended up being a bit small, and my cast on was quite tight on the darker one too. It’s fun looking back and seeing the provenance of the yarns I’m using for these booties. Speaking of booties, I started and finished another pair since that last post:

Baby Ladd Booties

I managed to keep these one colour, but it was a close thing:

Baby Ladd Booties

That is all the yarn I had left! I held off on kitchenering the toe on the first one until I knew I wouldn’t have to rip out and do contrast toes or something. The yarn for these booties are leftovers from these socks:

Baby Ladd Booties

I made purple ties to pick out the little flashes of purple in the yarn.

All 3 pairs of booties that I have made recently have found their way to their intended babies. I wanted to wrap them up all cute, because such cute little booties deserve some cute wrapping.

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I took all the photos for a tutorial for these little mini boxes, and that’ll be up in the next day or two! I love that I can tie them shut with a little scrap of the same yarn.

Baby Bonanza

There’s been a rash of babies breaking out at work lately – don’t worry, none of them are mine! Just to stay safe though, P says I’m not allowed to drink the water at work. ;)

With all these babies around, and me needing something to distract me from the Jekyll & Hyde socks, I decided to knit up some booties. It’s a good thing that booties are tiny and quick to do, because I’ve made some for baby F, which means I should make some for baby B, and if baby B gets some baby L should as well, and since baby F got some, come February I’ll have to make some for baby H… it’s snowballing, but so far I’m still enjoying them.

Baby booties are also great for using up those bits of sock yarn that are left over after a pair of adult socks. Here’s my first pair of booties with the original socks I made:

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Here is the same combination, with my feet for scale:

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I’m using the Yarn Harlot’s Cutest Bootie Pattern, and it is so quick to knit! And I love that it is all cushy in garter stitch. I’d never want to wear full garter stitch socks, but babies don’t wear shoes. Or walk!

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I’ve opted not to add the pompoms. I wasn’t sure how to secure them well enough, plus imagine if baby barfed on a pompom? How would you clean that! Or even if baby barfed on the bootie, how well does a pompom wash?

The booties pictured above are for a baby boy, here is the start of my next pair, which is for a baby girl:

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I don’t have enough of the multicoloured yarn for a full pair, so I have decided to do multicolour cuffs and maroon feet. The maroon yarn picks out the deepest tone of magenta in the multicoloured yarn.

Self-striping Jekyll & Hyde socks

After finishing that last pair of socks, I needed simple knitting for my purse immediately. It’s rare I get to knit during rehearsals, but last week actually afforded me some knitting time at work. And because I’m such a follower, when Carin of Round the Twist kept showing gorgeous balls of yarn from Twisted Limone, I stalked the website for updates. I managed to score a couple balls right after Sock Summit.

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Those are Black Peacock and Choco-Raspberry Mustard.

I decided it was the perfect time to cast on a simple self-striping toe-up sock. I want to use as much of the yarn as possible, so toe-up was the way to go, plus I wanted to try putting in an afterthought heel. I decided on using the Black Peacock first.

Here is the proto-sock:

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A wee little toe, how cute!

Here is what it looked like after a couple days at work:

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That’s side 1. Here’s side 2:

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It’s like Jekyll and Hyde! The yarn was doing all sorts of pretty things in the blue/purple section on the toe, but once I got to the actual number of stitches for the sock, it was perfectly divided between blue on one side and purple on the other. I know you can see a little bit of each colour starting to peek around the sides at the bottom of that stripe. Well, here’s a little secret:

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That’s only happening because I pulled a loop of the purple yarn to make it change!

I’m not sure what to do… I know changing the stitch count would make it change, but it’s a stitch count that will fit my feet. I’m winging this pattern as I go – I measured my gauge, did some math, and came up with the following:

I have a 8.5″ circuference at the ball of my foot. At a gauge of 10st/1″, that’s 85st. But socks need negative ease, so I took 10% off, which gave me 76. I could probably go down to about 72, but I wouldn’t want to go smaller. I’m torn between wanting to knit past the current black stripe to see what the next coloured section does, or ripping back to the point in to the toe that has 72 stitches and try going from there.

(Hee, seeing my wedding band in that picture makes me giggle. I’m married!)

Knitted rug, the easy way

I spend a lot of time thinking about what my future craft room will look like. We currently live in a two-bedroom condo, and our second (rather small) bedroom is our shared office where both our desks and computers are. One day, someday, we will hopefully own a house that has a room that can be dedicated to my crafts. I can store my yarn on easy-to-reach, accesible shelves, all my craft books can be together, all my craft supplies can be stored neatly in the same place…. they’re beautiful dreams. I’d never really thought too hard about what the floor would look like in that room (a bit of a lie, I’ve imagined every inch of the room, but mainly the shelves full of yarn) but I know I want a rug. A fun rug! My little fantasy craft room usually has all-white furniture, maybe with silvery legs and handles and things, and the colour in the room is supplied by yarn on shelves/in baskets and shawls hung from the walls, so I was never sure what rug would go with that. A white rug just seems silly. Finally I’ve found it, my mecca of craft room rugs:

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Thank you FLOR! Is that not the most appropriate rug for a knitter’s craft room?! The tiles in the photo above are two different styles – the single-colour squares are Just Plain Folk, and the border squares with pops of colour are Lanyard. Just Plain Folk comes in 4 colours, Lanyard just comes in one (Linen).

I love it so much! I also love the whole FLOR concept of tiles that you stick together to make an area rug (or a full carpet) perfect for your space. I think my imaginary craft room would use only Just Plain Folk, in either Linen or Frost.

They don’t guarantee the cable motifs will line up with each other, so they suggest laying them down in a parquet fashion as shown in the photos. I think it makes it look like a super-cuddly knitted blanket.

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I think my favourite square is the one that is just a big fat close-up of two columns of knitting.

The whole FLOR website is quite inspiring, I love a lot of their patterns and textures, and the whole idea of a modular rug that you can build yourself is just so smart.

Do you have elaborate craft room fantasies, or is that just me?

*note: in sake of fairness, P and I have agreed that if I get a craft room in our as-yet-imaginary future house, he gets a computer room. I’m also open to sharing a large, open space – say a big open converted attic space. We could each have our own end, but still be in the same room, and not be back-to-back and butted up against the futon like we are now.

FO: Summer Traveling Socks

I started these socks to take to Sock Summit with me in Portland at the end of July. I took sock #2 with me to Seattle, and did a lot of knitting while surrounded by hordes of gamers at the end of August. Now, after a few days of snatching knitting moments at work, my summer socks are done!

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‘Summer socks’ as in ‘socks that were knit in the summer’, not ‘socks to wear in the summer’.

The yarn is Lotus Yarns Chakra in the colourway ‘Bettie’. I bought this yarn at Sock Summit ’09, so I thought it fitting to be knitting it during Sock Summit ’11.

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The pattern is Charade, and it was the perfect pattern for travel knitting. It was super-easy to memorize, and every other row is plain knitting anyway! I only needed the pattern for the heel turn, so I could always just pull the sock out of my bag and knit around and around and around. Socks are wonderful like that.

I really like the colourway. I’m not sure what this style of dying is, but there were short bursts of blues, pale green, and white all throughout the yarn. It wasn’t like some multicoloured yarns that have say, a section of blue, then a section of pink, then red, then it repeats again, and if it is in a skein you can get everything to line up. This yarn reminded me much more of the funfetti-style Koigu dyed yarn. The yarn is a little thicker than some sock yarns, these may end up being house socks, unless they shrink a bit in the wash. These are also the first socks I’ve ever knit that have cashmere content in the yarn!

I really like the toe in this pattern – it has more stitches in between the decreases than most patterns do, and I like the effect that gives.

It’s been a while since I’ve finished a knitting project, so these made me very happy.

Wollmeise Sweater Updates

Here is the bad news sweater update: Rhinebeck just isn’t going to pan out for me this year. Although I have the weekend off, the cost of going (even splitting the hotel room and car rental) prohibits it. P and I are planning an epic honeymoon to Costa Rica, which takes precedence over trips of the yarny persuasion. That, and most of our ‘fun stuff’ savings went to a new car in June.

The good news: the sweater is coming along and I love how the colours look together!

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I took this picture just before purple stripe #5.

 

I won’t be abandoning the sweater, even though I won’t be wearing it to Rhinebeck. It’s a fun change to be working on a garment other than a sock. The next week or two is going to be a sparse on the knitting front – I’ve got a crazy work week starting up on Thursday.

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I feel like this picture is a bit truer to the real colours of the yarns, at least on my monitor. On the tiny screen on the back of my camera, the purple stripes almost look blue when I’m actually taking the photos.

This sweater is great TV/podcast knitting because there isn’t too much shaping, and there’s no cables or lace or anything to remember. As long as I knit two rows with the purple after every ten orange rows, I’m golden. This is all I knit when I’m at home, and I’m not bored yet. I would like to get back to a shawl I started before the wedding in a bride-brain-induced fit of madness where I thought I could knit myself a wedding shawl in a month. It’s in the time-out pile right now, but I think I might finish knitting that next, then go on to the Little Yellow Birds sweater I talked about earlier. Who knows when that will actually be – most Paulie sweaters seem to have 12-13 body stripes, and I’m just about to start stripe #5. That sounds like almost halfway, until you remember that pesky pair of sleeves.

Stripes 1 and 2

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The sweater has two purple stripes now, and holes for sleeves to be knit on later. I haven’t tried the whole thing on yet, but my arms do fit nicely through the armholes, so I’m hopeful. I also checked my gauge last night to see if anything had changed from the swatch, and all seems to be in order.

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The sweater and the balls of yarn live in this rubbermaid shoebox. I’m using two balls of the main colour, alternating balls every two rows, so I don’t get weird flashing and pooling, or a sweater with a bottom that is a slightly different shade of orange than the top. It’s a royal pain, but I think it will be worth it when I have a lovely finished sweater. It just means that it is at-home knitting, as I’m carrying the yarn up one side so all three balls of yarn are always attached to the project.

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I bought buttons for this project while at Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. They look like shell, but the front side has this interesting almost rubberized coloured finish. There were a couple colours of these in the store, but the deep orange ones are just perfect. I was happy to find these buttons there, and the buttons I bought for my next sweater. I find Calgary to be a hard place to find buttons, and I really feel I need to see them in person before purchasing to get a good match. I live in a bigger city than my parents do, and yet their city has a fabulous button shop. The knitting shops I go to here do have buttons, but they never have the buttons I want, and we definitely don’t have a shop devoted only to buttons.

Any tips on where to buy buttons in Calgary, or favourite online button shops?

Yarn Heaven

Last week, the Mr and I went to Seattle. The main reason for going to Seattle was PAX Prime, a gaming convention. He’d let me drag him around Sock Summit in July, so it was only fair. I spent some time with him and the other dudes (we went with two friends from here, and met up with a guy from Texas that he’s known online for longer than he’s known me) but a lot of it looked like this:

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Me, my PAX badge, and my knitting. This was the first day of the convention, that small piece of knitting in my hands there looks like this now:

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I spent the first half day with them, then went out to explore Seattle on my own. And by ‘exploring’, I mean finding yarn shops. I’d heard good things online about Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and decided Friday afternoon that that would be a fun adventure. It’s on Bainbridge Island so I got to get on a ferry for the first time since moving to land-locked Alberta. Did I mention that the first time I saw the sea on that trip that I almost cried? I grew up in the south-west corner of Canada on the coast, which is the same area as the north-west US. It was just so much like being at home. It put me into a very zen state on the ferry ride over – I just sat and breathed ocean air for 35 minutes.

The ferry terminal was very convenient to get to, it’s right downtown (I did this whole trip on foot, we didn’t have a car). The ride was lovely, and then it was just a 10-minute walk into town from the ferry terminal. I grabbed a cookie at Blackbird Bakery next door to Churchmouse before I went in. Then I stepped into Churchmouse Yarns and Teas for the first time.

(image from their website)

It was heaven.

It was light and airy and bright inside, and they had every yarn you could ever want to knit with. It was the perfect yarn store. I immediately decided that I wanted to buy a sweater’s quantity of yarn there, just because the shop was so perfect. That’s where I ran into difficulty. There was so much awesome yarn there, and I hadn’t planned on knitting a sweater any time soon (as I’d just started one back home) I had no idea what I wanted to knit. I wandered the store for a while and fondled all the yarns (Jared Flood’s Shelter! STR in a physical store! Rowan Sheep Breeds! Habu!) but I couldn’t decide. In the end I decided I needed to walk away from the store and think for a bit. Luckily, just across the courtyard is Mora Iced Creamery. An old-world, handmade, small batch ice creamery next door to a yarn store that is next door to a bakery? I’m still surprised I left the island! I had a waffle cone full of lavender ice cream (heaven!) and decided to head back to Seattle and our hotel, and look up some knitting patterns to see if there were any sweaters I wanted to knit. I will buy sock yarn indiscriminately, but I only buy sweater yarn when I have an actual plan. The plan for the yarn may end up changing, but at least I know I have enough for a sweater.

I did some research on Ravelry, and came up with these three contenders:

 Little Birds

Little Birds, by Ysolda Teague (from the 2008 Fall Twist Collective)

 Owls

Owls by Kate Davies

Gathered Pullover

Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason (from the Winter 2007 Interweave Knits)

Saturday I went back to Bainbridge and straight to Churchmouse, with a notepad full of yarn requrements. I priced things out, looked closely at colours, debated about whether I could afford 2 sweater quantities of yarn (answer: I couldn’t), and finally decided. Here is what I bought:
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As you’ve probably guessed, I’m going to make the Little Birds sweater. The main body will be grey (Sholmit), the birds will be yellow (Scotch Broom), and the branches will be black (Charcoal). I even found lovely black and brass shank buttons at the store too! I love grey and yellow together so I’m very excited about the combination. I’m being very good and putting this yarn away until I finish my Wollmeise sweater though.

Then as I was checking out, the craziest thing happened to me. The lady ringing everything up asked if I wanted some sort of loyalty card or something. I said ‘No, I’m not local, I don’t know if I’ll make it back ever.’ She asked where I was from, so I told her I was from Alberta, Canada. She said ‘Oh you must meet our owner, she’s Canadian!’. So I paid, and got introduced to the owner, and we chatted for quite a while. Then it came up in conversation that we’d gone to the same university for the same program! And the theatre department is quite small, it’s not like the tons of people studying English or whatever else. We weren’t there at the same time, but some teachers who taught her were still teaching when I went through, and some of her classmates became teachers that taught me! It was a lot of fun to talk to her and find out all the odd things we had in common. And apparently another grad of the same theatre program is behind Handmaiden Yarns! Madness. But it is exciting to think that I too might be prepared for  bustling career in the yarn industry, should I ever chose it. ;)

After chatting I headed back to Mora for an ice cream cone for the road ferry. Mint chocolate chip ice cream that is a lovely shade of white, rather than eye-searing green? Yes please!

 

Wollmeise Gets Results!

Before I let you know what colour I chose for the stripes in my sweater, I want to have some fun with figures. I went through all the comments, and tallied up everyone’s first choices for the contrast colour. That graph looks roughly like this:

First Choice colours

In this graph, I lumped both purples together into one column. Teal is the obvious front runner!

Then I went through and tallied up everything people said – meaning if someone said “I like teal the best, followed by the pale purple” I put one check in the teal column and one in the pale purple column. That graph turned out like this:

all choice colours

I found all the comments really interesting to read – people’s tastes are so different! I loved reading everything from the art majors who talked about colour theory, to “I’m not sure the deep pink in the first photo should ever see the light of day.” :)

While I read all the comments as they came in, I didn’t tally them up until I’d made my choice, and asked P’s opinion (I didn’t include our votes in the graphs, as we didn’t leave comments!). I think P and I definitely have an advantage over youse guys in internet-land because we can see the real yarn right in front of us. It is just so hard to take accurate pictures of colours this rich, not to mention all the difference various monitors make. For me, it really came down to two colours. The dusty pink was just out, I didn’t want to pull off the day-glo pink in the end, and the dark purple started to look blackish-brown when I held it up to the orange garter-stitch yoke. Even calling Kurbis ‘orange’ is a simplification, it’s rusty, reddish with the old gold tone orangey. I did the only thing a knitter should do when trying to work out problems like this. I swatched.

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While waiting for comments, and waiting to make up my mind, I had knitted the yoke of the sweater up until where the first contrast stripe goes. I decided to try it with both the teal and the lighter purple (Lila Ludmilla). It’s a bodged-together mess of yarn in the back – I knit with the teal across one front, turned, purled back, did a few rows just across the teal stitches with the orange yarn, then knit all the way across the teal stripe and onto the arm, then repeated the process with the purple. It’s like short rows without all the wrapping and turning to neaten it up. Works well enough for testing colours though!

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And, the final result after all this (un)scientific testing was….. Lila Ludmilla! Near the orange, the teal just looked like an odd, awkward green.

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The winning combo, back when it was still in training.

Another factor, although I wouldn’t have let it put me off completely, was the difference in textures of the yarn. Wollmeise is super-duper smooth. Sometimes it almost looks to me like mercerized cotton, not wool. The Koigu (the teal) is a two-ply, and the yarn has a very different surface than the Wollmeise. My using my Lila Ludmilla, the sweater will be made in two more similar yarns (my Kurbis is 100% wool, the Lila is 80% wool/20% nylon).

And now the reason you’re all really here…. who will get skein number 3 of the Wollmeise Kurbis? Remember, you won’t get it until October, so you’re going to have to be patient. Cheering me on and keeping me accountable for this sweater are also welcomed. ;)

And the winner is Michaela! Michaela said: “I have always loved the orange-purple combo, and I think your sweater would look nice with either Lila Ludmilla or Amethyst Dark as the contrast colour!” Rafflecopter uses Random.org to pick the winner, so there was no favouritism going on, but I’m happy the winner likes my colour combination. :)

Now I just have to go pull out the tangled mess of my stripe-swatches and I can get to knitting this thing properly!

Age of Brass and Steam

I finished my handspun shawl!

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It looked like this for a bit. The pattern only has you do 3 bands of stockingette. I got to that point and still had a big-ish ball of yarn left. You end the shawl by doing another garter/yarn-over section (3 rows) then 3 rows of plain garter stitch, then bind off. To get the most out of my yarn, I weighed the ball before I did the last garter/YO row the pattern called for (the ridge closest to the needle in the photo above). It weight 40g. Then I knit the 3-row garter/YO section. 35g. So if I need to do about twice that to finish the shawl, noting that I also need to do a bind off (essentially a 7th row) and the fact that the shawl gets 6 stitches bigger every 2 rows, I decided to knit in stockingette again until the yarn ball was between 12-15g.

I did that, weighing at the end of every right-side row. After some knitting, the ball weighed 16g at the end of a right-side row. I decided I didn’t want to stress too much about running out of yarn on the bind off, so I started the beginning of the end there.

Here is what I ended up with:

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I love the striping the yarn did! The steel grey stripe near the second garter ridge from the left made me very happy. I could see it peeking through the ball while I was knitting the stockingette part before it, and I really wanted to knit that section up. Here’s the post where I talk about spinning the yarn.

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It turned out to quite a handy size. Just right for tucking in the front of a coat on a chill morning, and it has enough fabric to pull up to cover the bottom part of my face when it gets colder.

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Rhinebeck Wishing Sweater and a Giveaway!

So this year, I have the third weekend of October off. This may not mean a lot to non knitters, but knitters know that the third weekend in October means the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, more commonly known just by the name of the town it is held in: Rhinebeck. I once described Sock Summit as “knitters’ Woodstock”. Really that title is much more appropriate for Rhinebeck, as Rhinebeck is about 30 minutes from actual Woodstock.

I’m not certain I can go yet, and won’t have a better idea until we can assess the state of our bank account in September, but I’m hopeful. (To help me get there, I’ve put some of my stash on sale too!)

A lot of knitters that go to Rhinebeck make Rhinebeck sweaters. Awesome knitted sweaters to wear around the fair are a great conversation starter, and a sign that you’re a knitter. Now as I’m not certain I can go, for a little while I wasn’t sure if I should start a sweater. Would it be some form of sweater curse to start knitting it before I knew I could go? Would it bring luck to me to help me go? I’ve decided to start one, because work is about to get in the way of my knitting time, and I can’t guarantee that I could knit a sweater in the time between deciding to really really go and getting there. And if I don’t end up going, I’ve got a nice new cardigan.

I think I’ve decided on the Paulie pattern:

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It’s a free pattern, which is a plus considering the immediate lockdown I put on my wallet once I decided I needed to save for this trip.

I’ve got a main colour yarn already, Wollmeise Kurbis. I’m just not sure what colour I want to do the stripes with, so I thought I’d see what everyone else thought.

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The main colour is the two skeins on the outside of the picture. They’re a little variegated, so I may actually do the ’2 rows from one skein, 2 rows from another thing’. Here they’re pictured with a deep pink Wollmeise in Himbeere. This would make a bright sweater, staying in the same general colour family.

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Or I could stripe with purple. I have two purple Wollmeise skeins, Lila Ludmilla and Amethyst Dark. The photo above shows the differences in the purples. Out of these two I think I’m leaning towards the paler one, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

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Or I have some teal yarn that’s a little brighter than I could photograph. This is another good contrasty combination. I have more than what’s in the picture for the teal, but it might be a close thing doing that last teal i-cord bind=off. This teal is Koigu colour 1500.

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Or a paler, dusty pink from Zen Yarn Garden. This was an afterthought as I was pulling all my yarn out to see what would go. I think it could be interesting.

Now here is the fun part! I have a third skein of the orange-y Wollmeise. I shouldn’t need it for this sweater (I’m making the small size), but I want to hang onto it for insurance, because it would suck to run out during the bind off or something. If I do use any of it, it definitely won’t be much, and Wollmeise is generous with their yardage. So, if you leave a comment telling me which colour you think is best for the stripes (and/or why one combination is so heinous it should never be seen again) you will be put into a drawing for that last skein! You can also enter by tweeting about the giveaway (see below for details). I will mail the skein when I have completely finished the sweater, or if I give up on the sweater/don’t finish in time, I’ll mail it out to you on October 14th, the start of Rhinebeck. You can enter this competition up until I post a picture of the first stripe knitted into the sweater in my chosen combo on the blog. I imagine that will be near the end of the month.

And there’s a new kid in town trying to make entering contests easier for bloggers! The name of the service is Rafflecopter. I applied for an invite and it came through a little while ago, and I’m going to test it out with this competition. Once you’ve left your comment and clicked the “I did this!” button (don’t forget to do that, that’s what enters you in the draw!) you can also use the Rafflecopter widget to tweet about the giveaway once per day for another chance to win. If you want to comment but don’t want to be in the draw, comment away and ignore the Rafflecopter widget. This is my first go with Rafflecopter, and if it works well, I could probably be persuaded into doing some more giveaways. :)

(If you’re reading this in Google Reader or the like, you’ll need to hop over here to see the widget!)

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