Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Achenblog Widget

I have no idea what an widget does, but I'll try anything once.

Updated. hmmmm that didn't do what I thought it would do, but I seem to have it figured out. See the cool new Achenblog Widget on the sidebar.

Keeping Front Post Stitches Straight.

Sometimes when you are starting a pattern with ribs, or those challenging looking front post crochets forming delightful aran patterning on your work, you can run into problems. You run into the same kind of problem when you do filet crochet. Why does the ribbing or square seem to lean?

It takes a little mind shift, and might change the way you think about some crochet stitches but it isn't a hard fix.

Here is a typical front post stitch worked around the entire post in the row below rather than working it through the loops.

Usually we think of the crochet stitch as the hole we need to work into, the threads we need to work through. When you work posts, you must count the posts, and pay attention to the hole you work into next.

When you flip your work over, you see the loop running horizontal around the stitch. Its a little hard to see here, but right above that horizontal loop is the top loops of the stitch. I've stuck my hook through to help you see it.

Flip it over and now you see which stitch you should work into. It is to the left of the hook.

When worked, it looks as if it crowds your post stitch a bit, but it isn't.

Its very easy to work the first stitch after the post into the wrong loop, but give this a try. It might help.

If over a sample piece, you find your stitches slanting right, count the number of posts before you work your first post stitch. Is that number right, or do you have one too many posts?

If your sample piece has the post stitches running left, check the hole you are working into.

I strongly recommend Crocheted Aran Sweaters by Jane Snedden Peaver. she explains how to avoid the front post slant in her book very, very well.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


I should have a whole category of posts on socks, you know. Not just knitting, crochet embroidery, etc, but socks. They consume a whole lot of time, but they do have their charms. A sock, after all, seems to be able to teach you everything you really need to know about knitting.

A sock can teach you basic stitches. Knits and purls is what makes all knitting, and a sock is no exception. A sock teaches you decreasing and increasing, no matter what heel you use. A sock teaches you how to work in the round, and it teaches you to work back and forth (flap heels). A sock teaches you a lot more.

A sock teaches that you must think, and keep learning. A sock can teach you to expand your way of looking at even the most basic things, and see what else you can do with it. A sock teaches you to keep trying, new things, old things, different ways. Socks teach you diversity.

And so here is my very pleasing version following Maia's excellent heel tutorial. I strongly suggest you look around on her site. She has some very interesting posts.

A smarter person than I would be showing this off after blocking it, but well we all know the author of this blog has no time for such things, she just moves on enthusiastically. I hope you can see it reasonably well. Once I got to the part where I was to decrease the stitches, I wondered what to do with the extra stitches from the back of the heel. I put them back on, and worked away. Had I read the pattern and followed the tutorial more closely (see how often that problem crops up) I would have seen her note about aligning these stitches with the picked up ones. I will do that next time, though I can see there being times where a few stitches separating the two stress points being a good idea. Mr. Needles has verified the fit of the sock as perfect, so I am madly moving forward. I have the other sock's toe at about 4 inches, so only another couple inches to go before beginning the flap. I am delighted to be able to do the flap this way. There is something really cool about turning a heel properly.

I am becoming aware of a knitting trait which never ever showed up in crochet. When I learned to crochet, I learned to follow the pictures and instructions in Elisabeth Hiddleson's booklets which my Aunt Lorraine and Grandmother Anna had. The first afghan was from a pattern. I've never worried about reading directions, about interpreting the patterns. In knitting I really am resisting patterns. I collect the things, and print them off at the drop of a hat. I have no problem finding nice books to purchase filled with patterns. I love getting the magazines. But I am petrified of using the patterns, and in every single way, when I look at the pictures in things, I think, that can't be hard, I wonder if I can do it without reading it?

I think it goes back to my combined knitting and how everything is the same only different than the average knitting directions. I can't wait for Annie Modesitt class here in Edmonton in November. I'm taking the combination class and the lace class. I really wanted to take the others, and the Lucy Neatby classes too, but, well, it was either yarn or classes. So, a few classes, a little yarn. A nice balance I say. (My yarn orders should be here any day now!)

I hope to come out of the day with some technical expertise, a little more comfort in my approach. I have no problem moving forward, I just would like to move forward in knitting a little less like a bull in a china shop, and a little bit more like a knitter.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Pictures from the weekends work.

Here we go with pictures. Dial-up just can't handle pictures.
I am just so pleased with how this is looking. The green isn't overpowering, but it becomes a major player. The colour tones work together marvelously. Its soft earthy and is going to do just right.

A little detail, but don't look too close, cause it isn't perfectly even stitching. The blues look even better than in this picture. If I had one wish, it is that I wish it would have been possible to have another skein of this. Its hand painted and not repeated ever, but I could have had a very similar skein with closely matching colours. I intended to make socks, you see, but this wonderful yarn, just screamed something more. When I went back to Red Bird Knits the other very similar skein was gone. It seems someone out there loves this stuff just as much as me!

No stitching is with me at the office today. Last time I did this, I had actual time to work while waiting. I have books with me though, cause its time to figure out the next blanket project.

Sunday, 28 October 2007


Its a rare Sunday post from me. I should probably do laundry.

I started working with that lovely yarn from Schaefer, the Ann, titled Earth. I'm making a shawl with it, just a plain ordinary garter stitch shawl. I've hardly used any yarn, and already it's showing off its gorgeous colours. I held it against a knitted swatch of the plain Anne against the shawl, and I am very pleased to say that the dark green Regia is not overwhelming the tones and shading of the yarn. They are working together in a most delightful way.

I've also worked on the sock, and Mr. Needles tried it on. It is - wait for it - a perfect fit to his foot. An absolute dream of a fit. I was worried that following Maia's directions might leave me with too narrow a heel, and if you were looking for perfection, 1 more stitch on each side would have been perfection. Keeping in mind that this is MY knitting and will never be perfect, its not quite worth it to go back and rework the thing for those 2 stitches. BUT I will take a note of it. These are still demo socks - they will be longer in the calf than I have done till now at Mr. Needles request. I may have to add a little more room as I get higher up the calf, so I wait and see.

The heel worked out wonderfully well, and there is a really good chance that this will become the routine heel. There is no grafting, and very little stitching in of ends. I'll like that best of all. Just 2 ends to work in. I will need a calculator for my tool kit, something with legible numbers.

I worked hours on the vest. I thought I would finish up today. I am under the second arm and have found a small but serious error. Somewhere along the line, I suspect row ends, I have managed to drop 10 stitches. Now 10 is really not all that much, but if your underarm count is 36 stitches, well, you know you need every single stitch. So I will rip back. I suspect is going to be a very long way back, and I'm not sure I am up to it today. I can't believe how this vest is working. Well actually I can.

Which is why I am taking a rest. I might do a little embroidery this afternoon. Embroider doesn't usually talk back so late in the game. Yes yes, I know there is the poppy piece.You know, laundry is looking pretty safe.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Delusions of...

Getting up early (or maybe it should be late the night before), as I did today is a huge advantage. I can get a lot done, and no one expects me to do housework instead, or make meals or any of those other things that interfere with needlework. Even if I did do those bothersome things people in my house would likely tell me to to quiet down. (It was 4 o'clock, so I'm sure you can see their point.) Whoever said that being hormonally didn't have advantages? All the lovely time, just for play.

I picked up this sock, which is the first toe up gusset heel sock attempt. They will probably be for Mr Needles, since all first heel attempts and awful socks appear to be those slated for him. Note the conservative tan/ brown/gray colour. Whatever happens with the heel, it will be followed by a ribbed calf. I think he will like the fit of that better than the stockinette of my first sock.

Truth be told my finger were antsy, so I put the knitting down, and picked up the vest.

That moved along splendidly. I finished the first back shoulder part and am moving along towards the centre back. The pictures the other day, really did not give you a good idea of how the ridges are showing up, so I took a close-up photo. In fact I took several photos, because the first batch were of the wrong side.

But look at this! I love the way its looking from this 'wrong' side. Where the ridges form on the other side, the stitch pattern is leaving some luscious rounded curves on this side. The other thing, that is not so obvious here, is that the rounded curve is accentuating the slant of the hdc, and making it seem to swirl. Keep in mind this is what I saw pre-coffee, and keep in mind the awful early hour. It was just before 5, so what I saw, may not really be there. I will have to think on it today, and am going to take a long hard look at things tonite. The ridges are nice, but now that I look at it close up, I don't think they are giving me the best bang for my buck. Is this yarn telling me it does not want to be ridges?

Maybe whatever I do with this vest, I should be careful to do it neatly. Maybe it's possible for this peice to be reversible? Is that what this yarn is telling me?

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Getting a Good Fit in any Media

I spent a good deal of time last evening considering why I've been so comfortable playing with fit of the things I have been making. Much of it is the sheer inspiration I find online from everyone else, but part of it is background and experience in a broad range of stuff.

I followed patterns when sewing for work till about 4 years ago. The most I ever changed anything was making it wider to fit. I happened across this book, Sewing for Plus Sizes by Barbra Deckert. What a revelation. I have all kinds of sewing books, probably not the best ones on the market, bought at a remainder place as they are, but they are decent. This book, though changed my sewing, my crocheting, and if I ever knit a sweater for myself, my knitting.

The writer discusses plus sizes, from a plus size perspective. She hits all the areas where we plus sized people take issues with standard patterns. She deals with patterns that assume because you are ample, you are tall, amazonian even. She shows clearly how to adjust, change, mangle and rebuild every single fit issue I've come across. She teaches the basics of proportion, design considerations, texture and weight of fabric considerations, so the sewer can be the best she can be. She does tend to speak more of one certain figure type, but I think that is because it is her figure type. Everything I ever wanted in a book on plus sizes, written by someone who is plus size. Darn fine Book.

Oh, and the other very very cool thing? She shows how to make a dress form to fit your body. At home. On your own. At a very low cost. Very very cool.

Whoops, digressed a little again. Where was I? Ah yes. Her book changed my attitude towards fit from 'never going to happen', to OK, let me think about it, and I have been blithely making things fit better in every media ever since. I know what to do to make my sweaters fit so the front doesn't pull up. I understood why Emma's short row concept on the Tubey that Curlerchick is working on will work. (Curlerchick is assisting me learn short rows, and the horrors of wraps!!! Curlerchick has me side listed on her blog!!! Its really not like I'm stalking her, at all. Nuh uhh.)

Of course that doesn't always help. I still need to fix that measuring problem I have, and well follow a pattern? Who me? I turned out a clunker last year, that I intend to fix, if I ever get up the gumption.

So, to make a really long story short, if you find that the sweaters you crochet and knit are not fitting as well as you would like, go get a really good sewing book which discusses pattern alterations and fit issues. Think of your sweater parts as pattern parts, and then apply what you know about short rows, and all the other little knit tricks out there, to make perfect fit yours.

Then go get Lily Chin's masterful Couture Crochet Workshop. Lily completes the circle. Her book shows you how to take your modified pattern and turn the fit into crochet and knitwear, any pattern, any stitch design, and to use the shaping and texture to show off a yarn and your work to its very best advantage.

Sewing for Plus Sizes rates a Double Crochet, a sound solid resource book.
Couture Crochet Workshop rates a Treble.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Grateful for the advice and opinions.

Thanks to everyone here and at Crochetville for the assist. I think I'm going to grab another skein and see what comes up at a slightly smaller gauge though.

I write three steps behind where I think, so occasionally I don't make myself clear. My link to the Leisure Arts Plus sized is not working (Leisure Arts want to hide their book links in a big way. For the life of me, I can't think why. They have great products) JCB from Crochetville was asking for a bit more info. So here goes.

I fear running out of this yarn. I don't think I will but deep inside hides the fear that what if. First off, the vest I am working on should look like the last picture on my link . To counter any yarn problems, I'm just making it shorter than called for. Here is where it gets tricky. The other part of me worries that I will have tons, skeins of yarn left over. Unbelievable right? So, go back to that link, and see the bottom of the vest just to the upper left? The open work pattern will be added in case I have tons of yarn left.

Then there is the size issue. The pattern is built for S, M, L, XL. I am none of these. Throw in a couple of XXx's and that is me, so, having just completed this vest based on a pattern in Leisure Arts Plus Sized Sweaters to Crochet, and finding a good fit, I'm making it to the dimensions of another item from this leaflet. Plus sized usually means we need deeper (longer from shoulder to apex of bust) and wider armscyces in relation to how wide our back measurement is. This pattern booklet, having numerous side to side worked sweaters, is a fine template on which to build this vest. I will know for sure when the vest is done.

Classic Crocheted Vests is a great book. Pattern sizes in it range from S to XXL, or rather for finished bust sizes from 33 to 50. Not every pattern finishes to every size range. In fact size ranges in patterns and books are one of the things I complain about frequently, no matter what media I am working with. You find the same problems in patterns for sewing, knitting, any wearable. I just don't see why we can't be provided the same stylish patterns in size ranges that fit.

Consarn it all any way. There are a lot of us. And we do these things. In fact we do them more than average sized people per capita. We need to do it ourselves since gorgeous sweaters and seriously fine clothing to fit us well is not always available.

Now back down to earth. Last evening while making dinner, I worked on socks. I continued picking up through the evening till it was time to hit the hay. This morning, Mr. Needles had to be on the road early, so I woke up and made coffee at 4. While I was sipping my first cup of that wonderful brew, I noticed a dropped stitch on the sock...way back where I started at yesterday. So I ripped, and reknit this morning. Total time knitting this morning? 1.5 hours. Total advance to actual project? 1 row.

Knitting feels an awful lot like golf.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Moving Along

I got up very very early again today. The good thing about that was that I wasn't awake at 2 a.m. Those 2 extra hours of sleep are what makes life worth living. without those, I can't function.

This morning I finished SS's moms socks. They are ready to send, but I will talk with SS to see if there is anything else she wants to send with it.

And then I sort of looked at the work bag, and decided to give socks a break. There are two in the bag on needles, but the mildly neglected vest looked like a whole lot more fun. I've been picking it up at odd moments here and there, and its progressing quite nicely. Though the basic pattern is the same ridged one I began with, its not going to end the same. I am combining two patterns from the book, Classic Vests, but working them to the sizes found here.

I like the way its turning out. My worries about sagging are unfounded. This vest is worked in one piece from side to side or front to front as it were. The rows are vertical so when you hold it up for drape, not enough sagging to worry about. There is a lot of sag between rows when its held in the working direction horizontal, but since that isn't the way you wear it, lucky me. That would be why the designer designs things, and I only make things following someone else's idea.

I picked up the newest Interweave Crochet magazine. I think I am going to like this magazine. Lovely patterns, edited by someone whose approach to crochet I really admire. Some might call Kim Werker innovative, but I don't know that its innovative so much, as it's about darn time. Someone needed to put this crochet world of ours out of the 'only for doilies, blankets and things for the kitchen' stage it has been stuck in, and put it right back to where it ought to be. Crochet ought to be full of just as many seriously fine yarns as knitting. Crochet ought to be full of just as many wonderful people designing things to wear, to use, to accessorise with as knitting. We aren't there, and though there are as many of us crocheting as there are knitting. In fact I think there might be more of us, than knitters, but we are a much quieter community.

Kim Werker is one of the people who is dragging us to the new crochet by the seat of our communal pants, she's helping all of us see what else is out there. Kim is a mover, making our crochet world expand and grow and I for one am really really glad. Calling this monumental task innovative sounds too small in my view. Its a herculean task, setting crochet on its edge, but Kim is the woman to do it.

But I digress. There is a really interesting article in this issue about stitch patterns and working with multi coloured yarn. Multicoloured yarns sparked a wonderful things in knitting, particularly sock knitting, and there is no reason they shouldn't in crochet too. But crochet, with its very different and much more textural stitch work means you have to look for something a little different out of the yarn. This closeup shows the sort of colour variation I am getting, working to this gauge, and in this pattern.

This second fuzzy picture (My bad. I was in a rush this morning by the time I took the pictures), shows the way it looks so far. The big U is the armscyce. The colour is forming waves and weaves. It might block the colours if I was working in a different gauge, and I am thinking about trying to see what the difference might be. I do like the way it looks, but after reading the article, I wonder if it can be better. I want this seriously fine Blue Moon medium weight to be shown to its best crochet advantage.

So, what do you think? Is the pattern the colours are making pleasing? Is the ridged stitch showing off well against the yarn? Opine please, because I am just not sure. I usually operate on the principle of 'if I am not sure, I'm not there' but in this case, I just don't know where to go. I'm looking for direction and I hope you can help.

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Measuring Tape is Not My Friend.

I had a wonderful weekend. I put in a bunch of time on the green blanket, but still have a little more to go. I am considering putting them together with cream, but I think that is just to make it a little more exciting. I'm at the brain dead stage of the piece, I think, and coming up with ideas makes things move along more pleasantly.

And socks. much work on socks. I finished toes in both, I knit ribbing and used up all but the little bit I like to keep back in case they need darning. I love how long these socks are. They go well up the leg of SS, and with the slightly longer foot, they should fit SS's mom perfectly.

So I will be ripping them tonite.

Yes, that's right. After everything was done, after all the ribbing, just before I tucked in all the ends and blocked them, I laid them out together. I admired the toes. I admired the heel turns (they are perfect, I tell you, perfect). I admired that the heel flaps are exactly the same size. I admired the way the tiny pattern went up the calf, I admired the ribbing. OK, I need practise for perfection with the purling, but each one is better, and I admired them all the same. I admired how the calves matched... Wait, what's that? Oh, the calves. They don't match.

I measured them, I remeasured them, I measured them a couple different ways, and the two measured out the same. I counted the little tiny pattern holes. Same count. BUT the socks and the yarn have chosen to be other than perfectly matchy matchy. They have decided to do things their way.

Tonite I will rip back the taller of the two, and will rework the top 4 rounds plain, and will then rework the ribbing. I do have enough yarn to make the shorter one longer, but I'm not sure I can make the pattern stitches look the same working up the leg, so I will take that measly half an inch off the longer sock.

I know that the problem has to be me, being a little cavalier with the tape measure or maybe its more that I am using a cavalier type of tape measure, I really can't say, but after this, I am never using any tape but my metal tape measure again. On an extremely flat surface. After blocking.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Rasta and Fratch

Yep, the girl with the morphing foot strikes again. I'll have to take out the toe and work about another quarter of an inch to make them fit just right. (Isn't it nice that I can blame my recent short footedness on someone else for a change) I don't know where my head is with length of foot, but the last 4 pairs have each had to be reworked. Or is it 3 pairs worked 4 times? I'm reworking it tonite. I'm also going to get the green blanket moving along this weekend. I'd like to get it done, and maybe even joined. Its getting close, and it won't take that much to finish.

No progress on anything last evening, so this morning I bring pictures of an oldie.

This is a variation on a theme of this pattern. It was one of those occasions where I used up yarns that I had, except for the purchase of the variegated, and the brown. If you look carefully, you will also see how the dark green squares look like a block, and you will begin to see how many different forms this block pattern can take just by changing the simple placement of coloured parts. Its one of the most innovative afghan pattern in years, taking crocheters to quilt designs and beyond.

Some day, I'd like to work one up just like the pattern shows. I loved it from the first time I saw it. Its rust and greens and creams just appeal to me. Earthy, warm and rich tones, that give rest to the eyes as well as warmth to snuggle up to.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Socks for SS's mom.

I worked last night for a little bit on the socks for the new heel, but I had to put them aside. I really have to get another set of 3mm needles to work with the active stitches on 4 needles instead of the lowly 3.

It seems though I learned on 3 needles, I am no longer capable of it. I have no idea how to set the darn things so the other needles isn't in the way. There is always something poking me. Shameful really, but one more set of 3's and I'll have my 4th and some to spare.

I spent the evening working on these for SS's mom. She got home in time to try them on for fit, and man are they impressive.

Nice high calf, Simple design running straight as an arrow down the leg, a really cool heel, and nothing loose or flabby anywhere. Of course this is the girl with the morphing foot. Who knows what will happen when she tries them on so I can be sure that the foot length is absolutely correct. Maybe her mom's foot morphs?!! Oh the horror.

Anyway, I am utterly pleased with how these turned out. Gosh darn it I enjoy the heel flap and gusset. There really is something mystic about turning a heel, and it tells me that I am really going to enjoy the toe up version of a heel gusset. Can't wait.

Still waiting in the wings, quite patiently, is this lovely yarn. Just before we left, I played a little with it. I want to make a large scarf, or a small shawl. I will have 900 metres of yarn or there abouts, and I really hope that will be enough. I'm going to make it quite simple, just stockinette, I think. My plan is to work two rows in the Anne yarn, and then to do 2 rows in the plain green. I want to work a fancier border in the plain dark green. What pattern the edging will be is going to take some research, and probably should wait till I see the completed shawl. Is the plain knit going to look busy, is it going to show off the lovely Anne yarn well? Is it wanting a pointy edge? A wave? A shell? Crochet?

There are some fantastic resources from antique sources on the net, and there are some great modern patterns too. So many things, so little time.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

My Dad's Socks

I made some socks for my mom and dad (this is the only post with both of their socks) and delivered them to my sister a few weeks back. I've been meaning to call and see how they fit. It's a 'round 2 it' that just has not gotten done. I got an email from my sister today. Here is what she said.

"Dad said he hadn't even tried them on.
They are too much of a treasure for him to even try on. He went to get them and came out with a pair of mitts as well as the socks. I don't know if you ever knew about the mitts.

They are quite a dark brown wool. Really very nice. He said Grandma S gave them to him (and it sounds like to at least all the sons-in-law) for Christmas one year. Mom and Dad guessed it would have been sometime in the 70's. Grandma had spun the wool and knit them. He said he caught Mom wearing them so they've been washed once, and only once. They are, just like the socks, in his words "too much of a treasure" to wear.

And then he also has a pair of really soft leather steerhide gloves that he keeps in his winter jacket pocket all the time. They were Grandpa D's last pair of gloves and while Dad doesn't wear them that often they are always rolled up in his pocket. They've obviously been used but are in great shape for the age they are."

Thanks Dad. I'm honoured that you would think that. Its so sweet, it made me cry. Grandma made handmade socks when she was tired and her hands were work worn and chapped. She did it because that was the only way people got socks for most of her life. A gift from someone who knew the work of socks is a treasure. For mine to be classed with hers means a lot.

But your feet are often cold and I want you to have warm snuggly feet. I will knit more. Many more.

Cool Happenings - but Yarnny Cool.

Man I should have left some pictures for today. I got nothing!

The last several weeks have been an odyssey of learning new stuff in knitting for me. Simply learning to purl in the round has made me positively giddy. More new stuff, and I am again thrilled, enthralled, captivated.

As you may know, I really like toe up construction. I always feel like I have 10 thumbs trying to operate the ribbing doing top down construction. The first inches of ribbing are serious torture for me. I can manage 8-12 stitches on 2 needles, and only the first stitch couple rounds are a wee bit awkward to work. The other part of toe up is that I shouldn't have to worry about running out of yarn. I worry anyway since I have not managed to figure out any but a peasant or afterthought heel. I think I found a gusseted heel (which I do like - there is a coolness to it that is hard to beat) that is designed for toe up socks. There have been more of these showing up the last while on the net, but I could never quite make out enough to really understand. People told me, just work it backward, but I could not quite grasp it still.

Last weekend, upon arriving home, I checked out Yarn Harlot and found this link. That really closeup photo of the heel construction made me understand. The pattern on Phreaddes page, Bandwagon Socks, directed me to 'Maia’s unusual and wonderful Toe-up Gusseted heel'. It is a wonderful toe up gusseted heel! And yes, its simply backward.

Maia has a great tutorial on the link and as a pdf file for you to work from. She worked out how to use the heel for all socks, not just within a pattern designed for it, using a system of percentages as does Elizabeth Zimmerman. Maia, I salute you. It really is a beautiful heel.

In order to try out the heel I had to... umm... start another pair of socks. The green socks will get this heel, but the yarn is so small it will take forever to get down there. I pulled out some more of the Kroy yarn I had in my bag. These slightly heavier yarns do have their place in the scheme of things. It makes for very quick work. In a rush of wanting to get there, I'm halfway up to the foot and will get to begin the new heel later this week.

I did work a little on SSs moms socks too, just so that nice yarn wouldn't think I abandoned it. I petted the green socks toe so it wouldn't feel left out. The last thing I need is for all the yarn in the work bag to revolt on me.

I also wanted to report how empty my sock yarn cooler is looking. The traveling work, and this most recent pull is leaving a real hole in the stash. I swear I feel a motherly need to plump it up again. Nothing looks so sad as a gaunt yarn stash. I'll leave you with these. Red Bird Knits has this and this . And this. And there is always this too. Plus the left over desire for all her other sock yarns.

You know there should be a line I draw in the sand for myself. Just not yet, OK?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A parade of sockly goodness

As you might imagine, working while driving is an attractive proposition. some crochet and now knitting has traveled with me for many years on vacations, and lake weekends, but until socks and knitting, it was almost impossible to carry more than one project. Most of my work has been sweaters, blankets, big things, and the smaller finer, thread work and embroidery was left behind. With the addition of socks, crocheted or knitted, I could to fill the bag with enough projects to work on for a couple of weeks and still have room for vacation yarn purchases to be stored. I left home with yarns for 4 different projects, and came home with all of them used.

I also left home determined to figure out how to purl while working in the round. Thanks to a hurried conversation the day I left with one of the nice people at River City Yarns, I can now proudly say I can purl properly. I don't even know what it was she said, but when I picked up the yarn to give it a go, I realized she was talking about clockwise counter clockwise, and that I had to go from the other direction the front of the needle to get an untwisted purl. It almost made up for having to miss the night June Ellison was in town. Almost but not quite.

I realized before we left I needed a warm something to wear, so I pushed hard to finish the Ragg vest. The decision to make it be a vest was easy with the rush of time, and I am glad. I needed better quality finishing skills - I'm not happy with how I sewed the zipper in. It's amateurish, and I know I can do better. Otherwise I am very pleased with how it turned out and even better how it wears.
It fits and coordinates my wardrobe and will work in my very chilly workplace without the fuss of sleeves.

Then there are these socks. They were supposed to be for my Daughter-in-law, HN, but she is an ardent animal person so wool is out. I am currently looking for all cotton yarn sturdy enough for socks, or maybe bamboo and if not that, then Lustersheen will do. I really want a natural yarn. Anyway these socks were then to going to be for SSs mom, but I am not happy with the workmanship. The socks have been frogged, refrogged, and frogged again, plus all the little times I made them too short in the foot, too long in the foot. They began to make me feel like a dunderhead, so as you can see I finished them quickly as a shortie. I did learn from them. First, plain yarn shows all ones little errors, a valuable lesson to learn, and second, I can get a pair of shorties to fit a medium woman's foot from a single Kroy yarn, which is also very good to know. They might suck, but they are socks, and are on my feet this instant.

Now these socks are my best work. These socks have an honest to goodness purled shaft, so I am just pleased as punch. They were supposed to be for Mr. Needles, but are about a half inch too long. Everyone else tried them on, but it seems Kerric, the biggest footed fellow, has another nice pair of socks. I did learn more than just purling with these. As you can see, by the heel and the somewhat stunted calf's, I need 3 skeins of Kroy to make man socks to fit the fellows in my house. I also learned that I will bend my needles if I ever try to double heel yarn again while doing a peasant foot. I won't be doing that again.

Which brings me to this yarn.
This is the lovely Red Rooster colourway from Blue Moon I was working on before we left. I did the shaft of the sock as I had planned out before I left, but it needed to be wider, so I redid. It looked odd, and I wasn't happy. So froggy went a courting and I redid. Somewhere along the way, taking into consideration the foot length problems I was having, I thought I should check out the feet, and yup. Too short. I'd like to know what the heck I have been thinking about, but dad gummit, the length on everything I touched while on vacation was wrong. So I ripped off the calf, and left the foot for later, and what you see here is a whole new sock. Top down turned heel this time, starting with a provisional cast on (duh, is me, I got the idea from the smart Ladies over at River City), and since this yarn does not want to work out for me, I will gift it to the mother of SS, who I know will treasure them on the chilly wet coast evenings. As you can see, the heel flap is done here, and last night I did the turn, and am roaring on down the foot. Oh and the little bit you can hardly make out is a simple knit 2 together, yarn over fancy bit running up the leg. I can't wait to see these complete. The yarn is sheer excitement!

And then these. The green socks requested by Kerric - son 2 - and on the needles. Its Trekking XXL, and in comparison to Kroy, feels very fine.

They are going to be wonderful socks, I can feel it. I'm going to do a different heel this pair too. Yesterday, I finally saw how others are working heels on toe up socks without going to a peasant heel.

There was much work happening on the Aline Vest, which, yes you guessed it, I ripped and restarted. Its obvious how much of this I do, as I change patterns to adjust for size and fit, but well, it keeps an agile mind. Ah well. I am very pleased with it now, and you will be surprised how fast its working up now that I have the direction clear in my mind. I will do pictures a little later this week.

The blanket needs work, I am sorely behind, and that is what I am going to really push this week. It will be a little boring - all blankets have that part - but the finish isn't all that far. Finishing is fun, and I mean to taste it soon.

We passed several yarn stores, but Mr. Needles didn't stop. I did get to one, but it wasn't a great store, and did not have much of a choice of sock yarns, which is what I was vacation shopping for. I will have to work out my vacation shopping a little better before I go, and I will have to impress how important yarn shops have become to me before we travel again. Such is life.

I also wanted to tell you other things about traveling and working at the same time. I'm not a work all the time traveler. One of my favourite things is to just watch the road go by, and see new places in the way you can driving on the less beaten paths of this continent. There were roads that were too windy and too bumpy to work on, and there were many many places too beautiful too miss, so most of my work was similar to working at home. Stopped for a minute filling gas? Working. Driving freeways? Working. Going through most of Alberta? Working cause I've seen much of it before.

Back roads are so not for working. They are for seeing and contemplating how lucky we are.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Back From Travels, and Down to Earth

I should do that more often. Take vacation, that is. It was lovely even if much of the weather was rainy and cool. We visited, we camped, we drank much wine.

We took off midday Wednesday, and dropped in unexpectedly at friends in Calgary. We went to a their sons hockey game, caught up on families, and stayed overnight. Next morning we headed for Highway 3, a southern route that winds and bumps along the border, and is one of the loveliest drives in all of southern BC. There was some of this.

It couldn't have been all that bad. The highway construction crews worked through it. We stopped for the night at Oosoyos in the southern Okanagan Valley. We stayed at Nk'Mip (Inkameep) , which also has a lot of this, and a really fantastic museum, and cultural centre, and this, plus a winery serving and selling fantastic wines. It is one heck of a place at any time of the year. We liked it so much we went back later and stayed another night.

On to Vancouver, to visit SS's parents, who live in a community known as Deep Cove. It is part of North Vancouver, but has retained a unique character, and beauty. It reinforces my admiration of SS who left this wondrous rain forested place to go Fairview Alberta, way north, way flat, and way not a city. The photos don't do Deep Cove justice.

Next Day took us to Whidbey Island, and Seattle, where I found a friend. Mostlylurking comments here occasionally, but I met her at Achenblog. It was a traditional BPH, with sharing of foods and beverages, though not beer (it was Sunday and early in the day) but like all BPHs, the company was grand, and the conversation wonderful, and laughter never far away .

Mostly and her husband welcomed us into their home. She showed me a scarf she is working on right now that I coveted, but only a little. Sue knits lace, way advanced from socks, yet she has not done socks. I left her a little Canadian pack, needles with a metric and US identity, some yarn and a sock book from Lucy Neatby. I will lead her down the garden path to socks with only a little shame, and absolutely no apologies. We ran out of time to get to a yarn store, which she had researched carefully, and I was really looking forward to, but ah well, I shall find them online. Mostlylurking also showed me her garden. Many little treasures hiding amongst many other treasures. Wow.

Mostly is modest about her accomplishments, as is her husband. His work takes my breath away. Literally. Its a crying shame that the Internet only shows you a glimpse of the beauty of his work. When you see the pieces in person, you don't recognize them as leather, indeed you can't tell what the material is, you only know that it is a deeply personal statement between man and material and our connection to earth, our connection to spirit. There is some serious talent in that gentleman. Breathtaking.

The weather was rainy and the forecasts were not looking good. We decided to head back to the Okanagan rather than follow our original plan of going to the Island. Along the way we came across Leavenworth WA. these folks are very serious about their town. This is a back alley.

They have a main square, surrounded by shopping (seriously fine shopping, Mr Needles made me leave my wallet in the van for) and lovely hotels and guest houses and places to eat. I'm going to go back there sometime, for sure.

Onward to Oosoyos and up through wine country. Ah Wine Country. I can't say a whole lot about that except next time the Needles's are taking a chauffeured bus. Wine country and driving a camper van means you have to stop for the evening really early in the day. Thankfully, there was always another vineyard and winery down the road. We managed to find places like this.

We sat a lot, sipping fine wines from small but seriously good wineries.

Ehrenfelser, oh Ehrenfelser, I salute you. It might be principally grown and sold here right now, but it will soon be out of my price bracket. I also saluted my share of Gewurztraminer, some Pinot Blancs and Pinot Noirs. We did manage to get some wine home, but because most of our choices are not generally cellaring wines, we will have to manfully try to get them taken care of as soon as possible. It won't be hard.

There was much yarn work accomplished, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Where this blogger goes on vacation

This blogger is finally getting to go on vacation. As you will see it does not happen all that often and when it does, it tends to morph and change before it settles into fact. Going on vacation usually is a sort of surreal happening in the house of the Needles.

Anyway, we will be off later tomorrow, or Thursday morning.

You can go back and read some the old stuff if you haven't had a chance. There were some cool happenings (hey its apparent I don't have a life, I thought they were way cool) in the early crochet sock days as I figured those out, and I really enjoyed the first heel turns, and grafting.

And you can admire my stash of knitting bags. I tell you, if you can find them, these are wonderful bags for ongoing projects. I met a young lady at a recent family gathering, who came up to me and said the knitting was good, but the bag, the bag says she was seriously fine. Yes she was a knitter.

Have a great week and maybe a wee bit more. I'll pop in if I can.

A Handmade Swift

Mr. Needles is a very handy sort of man. I dream up things, and he makes them happen. He is forced on occasion to make me aware that my dreams are foolish and that wood can't do what I'd like, but more often than not, he does amazing things. I saw a swift and instructions on the Internet (please respect copyright), made a request, and voila, this wonderfully handy man, made one for me. He had to make a few small adaptations to fit what we had on hand, and what I had picked up to talk him into the project, but it works wonderfully.

Or it will, once the needleperson understands a few more things about yarn and how sellers wind it into skeins.

I wound about 4 feet into a ball before bad things started happening. I persevered, thinking it would be fine. I finally realized it was getting worse, that yarn should not be coming from the center of the skein, and that if I did not stop, I might spoil my lovely, lovely yarn.

I was about to panic, so I called Mr. Needles and begged him to hold the yarn while I unwound it into balls. He asked how much this yarn was worth, and I truthfully answered it was irreplaceable. He did not say another word, he just held the yarn. This is almost the most romantic thing he has ever done for me. It ranks right up there with 'Instant Romance' and wildflowers.

We spent 4 hours on Saturday winding yarn, we spent 2 hours last evening. We should be able to finish tonight with another hour of work, or less.

Some where along the way, by slowly unwinding the tangles (no knots thankfully) we are creating worse tangles, and each round, each inch is new territory. I'm sure there has to be some basic principle I missed, some simple thing everyone else knows, that I was not bright enough to have seen about skeined yarn. Could someone please tell me, even if it's so simple, I don't deserve to be put out of my misery? Mr. Needles surely does.

In truth, he deserves a medal. He deserves a sweater, properly knitted, from a superior pattern, in superior yarn. Suggenstions are now being accepted.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Weekend full of work

Whew, It feels like I am coming up for air. I cleaned various portions of the house, and did a pile of laundry. I'm not good at laundry. I leave it in the washer and forget about it more often than I get it to the drier. I'm not one of those people who can do a load a day. I do the orgy of laundry weekend, and that was this weekend. Thankfully the study is right near it, so much, much work happened.

I finished the sweater. Put on the sleeves, did the collar, did the finishing. It was looking great. And then I tried it on. The sleeves are too short, and tight around my upper arm. Everything else fits fine, but I'm not quite sure what I am going to do about the sleeves. The particular construction of the armscye, means that any sensible repair means going back down on all pieces and making the upper bodices longer, and the sleeve inset wider. I'm sorry but I'll make a vest first before I do all that. I'd have to come up with an gusset piece, to give me the ease I need, while not looking odd or weird. Because of the very textured stitch, I think I can fudge it with some success. Back to the drawing board, and the sleeves came off this morning. The vest is looking like a great idea. Maybe after some more coffee...

To console myself, I thought that I would try winding yarn from my new swift (I'll talk about that tomorrow), but to to an over eager me, we have KNOTS. Not really knots, I stopped before it got too bad, and Mr Needles came and held it for me as I slowly wound it inch by freaking inch in and out around, and through, into a ball. After 2 hours of that he rebelled, and the rest will happen tonite. He promised.

So to console myself over that disaster, I did this (you're thinking, finally pictures)

I'm not happy with the little patterns stitch I figured out. I did a decrease and yo in each row and I should have had a plain knit row in between. I do like the way a pattern adds just a little dimension to the brilliantly coloured Rhode Island Red medium weight from Blue Moon Socks That Rock. I don't care for the uprights of the pattern at all. It looks sloppy. They won't be repeated. I'm also not going to repeat the change in direction of the patterns, unless I can figure out why my yarnovers are less successful one way than the other.

Annie Modesitt is coming to Edmonton in November and I am scheduled for some workshops with her. I hope to gain some insight into my knitting kerfuffles. I have learned so much, but it is time to bring in an expert.

I also have an invite to a private program with Jane Ellison. And dad-gummit, I'm going to have to turn it down. Apparently I am taking some vacation.

I should be off today already but the boss changed our day of leaving. Stuff to do says he and there is indeed. Vacation at this point seems so surreal that I am debating not canceling till the day I don't have to work, but that would not be fair. I know there will be other devoted knitting people would love the opportunity to go. I'll be sorry to miss it, in a very big way and the boss will hear about it if this vacation become virtual.