Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Month Until Christmas

'Twas one month 'till Christmas throughout all the glitter
There existed at least one confident knitter.
Her projects were laid out with impeccable care
Just awaiting the knitting and crocheting flair.
There was a blanket for baby, some mitts for her man,
A scarf for dear dad and some socks for her nan.
A felt bone for rover and a mouse for the cat.
Some slippers for mom and that will be that.
With her cast-ons completed and her needles a-clickin',
The countdown was on. The clock, it ticking.

To be continued...

It's that time of year boys and girls, so stretch out your hands often and get going because we, the crafty, are playing the role of the elves!

Happy crafting. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good-bye November

So, here we are again. On the bright side, November is finally on its way out the door. I don't know about where you are but here the weather hasn't been doing anything to further endear this month to me.  Dreary, drizzly rain all week, and more on the way. 

On another note, shortly after my last post the blocking of the blanket was finally complete and I gave it to its eagerly awaiting owner (who loved it). 


Up until this point I haven't formally reviewed any patterns or yarns I've used.  I think you and future me will definitely find it useful if I do.  The pattern is The Bobble Baby Blanket and is available as a paid pattern on Ravelry.  It is a well written PDF and is clearly illustrated with many photographs.  I would totally recommend the pattern.  That said, I found it slightly frustrating that the yarn requirements are listed in grams rather than yards.  My friend had already made this blanket in Cascade 220, so I did the logical thing and converted her yardage into my KnitPicks Swish DK, arriving with an order of 11 skeins in Sugar Plum.  I used 8 skeins and wound up with a blanket whose length spanned our double sized guest bed.  It's not the end of the world at all, but it is definitely surprising.  

Now onto the yarn.  Generally I liked the yarn - it was consistent.  There were no knots in it, and it was pretty soft, though not as soft as Cascade 220 superwash.  I washed it in Eucalan even though it is machine-washable, simply because I didn't want to mess it up before giving it to the new owner.  It smelled distinctly of wet sheep when I took it out of the laundry sink.  This is likely a good sign, one that means it actually came from a sheep, but it was a bit alarming to me, who had not yet washed a large project entirely made of wool.  The other thing I learned is that I hate that colourway.  I'm not sure if it was the colour itself or the lack of variegation in the yarn, but either way by the end I wanted nothing to do with Sugar Plum or anything resembling it.  It just seemed dead to me.  Once it was all washed and blocked and set aside and I was no longer forced to look at it, I liked it again.  Over all I would recommend this yarn to someone else, and I would knit with it again, but it would not be my first choice. 

Snapping me out of this colour funk is my latest love, as you know, my ripply blanket.  I am loving this project for all it's wacky colour changes, plus this yarn is soft, soft, soft!  The only problem I'm having so far with this is that I start getting a blister if I work too long on it.  Solution - alternate with knitting.  Hehehe.

And what am I knitting?  My UFO socks that have been shoved in my knitting bag begging for some love since well before I got married last June.  What can I say?  It turns out that I'm a fickle and unfaithful crafter.  But at least I always come back.  

November clearly wasn't all bad.  Mr. Frogged took me to my favourite Mexican restaurant, Dos Amigos, the other day, and allowed me to knit socks in public while drinking a lime margarita.  The food was great, the drink was great, the knitting got a little sketchy - I'm not gonna lie.  I don't think one is meant in any realm to turn a heel and consume alcohol.  It's just a thought.  But look how far I've gotten!  Erin from the Anatomy of Knitting Podcast is right.  No matter what happens, you always feel very clever after turning a heel.  I used some bastardized version of Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks With a Difference.I'm working with Shibui Knit Socks and I do like it very much.  It's boingy somehow and feels good on my foot (in my first pair of socks). I'm kinda champagne taste with a beer budget when it comes to sock yarns, so it's fortunate that I have small feet and that I like ankle socks so I get 2 pairs per skein. 

What I don't understand is how I ended up with this crazy hole in each corner?  Is it because I didn't wrap my stitches?  But the pattern stops wrapping after a certain point.  Is it because I didn't keep track of when to stop working across and occasionally knit right the way across?  I think that might cause this but any confirmations would be greatly appreciated.  Post me a comment to help solve this mystery. 

Lastly, I went to a thrum mitten class at Serenity Knits in Newmarket this weekend.  I cannot say enough good things about this store.  It's such a pleasant relief from the small, overfull stores you often find in The City.  It's roomy, but not overwhelming.  There is a lot of selection, and their yarns are clearly selected with care.  In case you don't know, thrums are essentially 4 inch bits of roving that are worked into stitches within a mitten, or hat, or sock to add a fleecey layer of warmth to the garment.  Traditionally, I learned from Beth who taught the class, they were used in Newfoundland and Labrador in unwashed wool providing the fishermen with warm and waterproof mittens.  Naturally I bought the materials for the class - Fleece Artist Thrummed mitten kit - Yum, and I am making this first pair for Mr. Frogged in a lovely green colour as you can see, and in a size large because he's got big hands and is obviously masochistic by requesting such a big mitten.  Can you see the cute little heart-shaped stitches that the thrums create?  I mean, very manly arrow shapes....

Naturally, to dispell mitten envy, and quite possibly theivery, I had to buy a kit for myself in this luscious red.  Please ignore my finger encroaching on the photo.  I'm posting unusually late tonight and promise I will get you better pictures of my mitt yarn soon.
There was a 10% off student discount at Serentiy, so I obviously bought something else too.  Oops...
It's not my fault.  Really it couldn't be helped.  First of all, it's the coolest sock yarn in the world because it's designed for two at a time socks and has been dyed two strands at a time, allowing me to make identical socks without having to curse out loud.  Second, it begged to be brought home with me and practically hopped in my knitting bag when I threatened not to succumb.  I had to buy it or risk the yarn framing me with shoplifting.  Tough decision, but someone's got to make it.  

Oh jeez, I'm getting a serious case of the head nods so I better go to bed.  Until next time, friends, Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not Off the Hook Yet

Look at me go! Two posts in one week, I must have my blogging mojo back.

First and foremost, I finished the bobble blanket! Yay! Well, ok let's be honest here. I finished CROCHETING the blanket, but it's still wet and blocking with a few...erm...loose ends.

Wanna see? I thought as much. Well...ok.

That's the blanket before being pinned. Imagine my horror when I realized that my chain edge was so tight that my beautiful bobbly blankie was all wibbly! However, after some creative fanangling it looked like this:

Much better!

When I began this blog, the intent was for it to be a knitting blog, but since then all I keep doing is crocheting blankets! The next one's on the hook. See?

It's my Ripple Blanket. I'm using a slightly (accidentally) modified version of the pattern Lucy gives here in her Attic24 blog. It's going pretty quickly and I like it so far.

I'm also going to be hooking something else but it's a Christmas gift and I can't say anything more because I'm not sure who actually reads this blog.

But can I be honest with you? I mean really honest? Shh...don't tell but I don't want to hook anymore. I want to knit. But I can't because I've been possessed by crocheted blanket-making. Possessed, I tell you.

I can't help but think that there are at least 17 different ways I'd rather be knitting right now or at least 17 different things. I mean seriously seventeen.

1) my unfinished vanilla socks;
2) my abandoned first ever sweater, which I believe to be in my house somewhere despite having not seen it since I moved after my wedding over a year ago;
3) my beautiful and neglected kid-silk mohair cowl (cowls are so in right now!);
4) my lonely fleece artist sweater kit, still tied up in it's bag;
5) Mister Frogged's self-patterning Regia yarn socks;
6) my self-patterning Regia yarn socks;
7) the red tam for Tasha;
8) the wedding blanket, which I cast on when I got engaged ... in 2007;
9) the cushion from my first skein of hand-spun;
10) a chunky cowl-y thing, from yarn not yet acquired;
11) a purple tam for me from my English souvenir merino yarn;
12) thrummed mittens!!  (the class is next Saturday...yaaaaaay!);
13) slippers - preferably felted clogs;
14) a little sweater for Tonka;
15) a Christmas Pickle;
16) a Clapotis, because everyone's done it but me;
17) a tea cosy, as a gift, with a union jack on it!

On second thoughts, that list is completely daunting...exhausting just reading it I think.  Maybe I'll keep hooking....just a little while longer. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mean Reds

So here I am, after an embarrassingly long (and unplanned) hiatus, blogging again.  I meant to blog, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  You may remember from here that I hate November.  You might have thought I was being cute because it's cold and dreary, and really, no one likes this particular month, but I wasn't.  I've spent the past two weeks battling the most obscene case of the Breakfast-at-TIffany's-defined mean reds. 

" know those days when you get the mean reds?" --Holly.
"The mean reds? You mean like the blues?" --Fred (Paul)
"No... the blues are because you're getting fat or because it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?" --Holly

"Sure." --Fred (Paul)
"When I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump into a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away." --Holly
Now, as you might well imagine I can't saunter around the nearest Tiffany's every November to make me feel better.  For one thing, it makes poor Mr. Frogged break into a nervous sweat this close to Christmas if he catches me too close to that turquoise-laden store.  What I can do, is wander around my stash.  And since I think I've teased you quite long enough, I think I'll finally share with you what the stash enhancement I mentioned here actually was. 

As a bit of background, a friend of mine was clearing out some things that she no longer had any use for and came across a stack of retro needlework magazines (knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, needlepoint, etc.) that were her mother's.  Knowing me to be, well, me, and therefore constantly with one eye on needlecrafts, she offered me this treasure trove of magazines from the 70's, 80's and 90's.  Naturally I jumped on it.  What I didn't expect when I received the magazines was the grocery bag full of crochet thread.  Now when I say full, I mean FULL of all different colours and weights from a time when each ball cost less than one dollar, but was of better quality than that which I recently paid five dollars for.  Imagine my glee!  Well, no, don't imagine it with me for a moment while I show you through my new aquisitions. 

Two of this luscious creamscicle colour.

A beautiful beige grey linen colour.

A sunshine-y yellow.

Odds and ends of greens and browns, plus a lovely variegated blue.

Intense purple.  It is the new pink after all.

Bits and pieces of some VERY fine thread.
Fine white thread.  Doillies here I come...
My happy colours - Reds, yellows, oranges, and combinations thereof.

I should note that while I did not ever meet my friend's mom, one thing is clear from this grocery bag of thread.  She was a very talented crocheter, and with thread as thin as the thread below, she must have had an abundance of patience also.

I don't know what these were going to be, but I love how the colour changes look in this circle.

Each of the crocheted flowers that were added to this rick rack are no bigger than a dime.  The thread is so thin you could easily sew with it. 

Can you see how tiny these little wings are?  I LOVE them, and want to learn how to make them too. 

A sweet crocheted rose made up of scallop stitches. 

You can see I have some mighty big crocheted shoes to fill here with this thread, but I hope that I can learn from these things that were given to me, and honour the memory of such a talented crafter.  
On that note, here's hoping the mean reds clear up and I blog again soon.  I have a big FO unveiling for you and a new piece of hooky goodness to share too! 
Until next time, happy crafting!