Friday, January 30, 2009

Finished Object: Coastal Chill Mittens

I have been dreaming these mittens since early December. The dreams started when I was knitting the grey and black socks for my son. I found that once I started knitting up the yarn, I had a very emotional reaction to the colours together, and I realised it was reminding me of the gorgeous sweaters that are knit by the coastal artisans in BC. I read up about Cowichan sweaters and looked at patterns. It was about then that I decided I wanted to make some mittens inspired by the patterns.

When I stumbled upon the New Year's 20% off yarn sale, I decided to pick out yarn for these mittens I wanted to make. I was looking at a traditional black and grey combination, but then I found this blue yarn where I had one light skein, one dark skein, and one that was a combination of the two. While blue isn't traditional at all, I'm not making traditional mittens. I'm making mittens to suit my fancy, and I went for the blue combination. The yarn sat by my computer for a few weeks, egging me on. I just needed to finish a few projects on the needles before I could cast on.

Then on Friday night, I had a sleepless migraine kinda night. There were lots of knitting images going on my head during some of the sleepless hours, and as I was working on these mittens-to-be, I decided I should return to my mitten-knitting roots and knit them top down. I did that for the first several pairs I made, and quite enjoyed it. Saturday I was tired and rather trashed, and didn't do much but knit. I cast on and knit three different options, each of which had an unsatisfactory top. After frogging my third mitten, I decided to return to the bottom-up structure, where I could use decreases to ensure the shaping I desired.

Take home lesson: Don't try to follow up on plans made while in the middle of a migraine. Maybe think it through a little better when things are better?

Had I not had three false starts on Saturday, I might have finished the pair all in one weekend. As it was, I had the first one finished by Sunday night. It's taken me all week to work through mitten two, which was finished last night, and I wove in the ends this morning at coffee.

When I had one mitten finished, I weighed the remaining ball of the 2-colour yarn. The 50 gram ball was down to 25 grams. I knit fearlessly forward, only to run out of yarn on the thumb. I could have striped the thumb, and maybe I should have striped the thumb, but honestly? I'm perfectly happy with the way it is.


Today I went to a local yarn store seeking something colourful, hand painted, worsted, non-superwash. I didn't find the yarn of my dreams, but I did find a sock yarn I could not resist.

Pagewood Farm hand dyed sock yarn, merino/bamboo/nylon. I'm just carrying this yarn around with me, constantly petting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strawberry Kiwi mittens, complete

picture of mittens being worn, covering the wearer's face

These mittens have been going to school for a whole week now. As you can see, they match my grrl's outwear perfectly.

picture of two striped mittens

They are made from the Striped Mittens pattern in Favorite Mittens. The pattern is brilliant. I love the clean lines of the thumb gusset and the mitten closure. The closure is designed so well that either mitten can be worn on either hand. This final picture attempts to show how they can work for either hand.

picture of two striped mittens

Monday, January 26, 2009

One mitten

picture of one blue mitten
Picture now, details later.

Finished object--Tam

This hat's been finished for close to three weeks, now, but I find it difficult to photograph. Both these pictures are back views because the front views didn't look so good. Oh, sigh.

I knit this hat from the middle outwards, following a pattern in the The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I had to follow the pattern backwards, which went fine until I was knitting the biggest section. Reading backwards, I thought I was measuring between increases and decreases. The pattern directions were actually related to the measurement of the entire piece, brim up. So the hat turned out bigger than expected. That's okay. I used up all but a yard of the yarn, and I'm pleased with the final product.

The yarn is Happy Feet. The hat is happy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

52 books: Owl in Love

I'm linking to this book twice, because there are two covers: the upper one, which I favour, and the lower one, which I could do without. Owl in Love has long been my most favourite young adult novel. I'm not one for picking favourites, really, I'm more of a "top ten" kind of person (or top twenty or top thirty or...). However, this book has always stood out as a beloved story, and every rereading proves its status.

Author Patrice Kindl has a knack for fleshing out oddball and unique characters, as seen in her spooky little story, the Woman in the Wall. Owl, a shapeshifting teenager, narrates her own tale of frustrated love and developing friendships. Owl's unique perspective and archaic voice paints a vivid picture of this youth who has never fit in, and rarely has any interest to even try to. Owl's silent love for her science teacher pulls her out of her isolated existence and entangles her with a suburban-dwelling classmate and a shadowy boy hiding in the woods. Dark little episodes scattered through the book hint at the unexpected resolution of strange events and mysterious characters.

On and off the needles today

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a sock? No, It's a frogged mitten.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

I saw it on Priscilla's blog, and I was hooked. It's a Ravelry group: 52 books in 52 weeks. I've always been a reader, and a challenge/structure like this is right up my alley. Now that I'm out of grad school, I actually can read for pleasure, but I'm a little bit out of the habit.

I started with Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. My friend (the diaper recipient) introduced me to Kaye Gibbons probably 15 years ago and I read everything I could get my hands on at the time (which was, I think, four novels). I even went to see Ms. Gibbons speak at A Woman's Place Bookstore twice, once when I was overdue pregnant, and a year later with a baby in arms.

Ellen Foster tells the story of an adolescent girl who's in dire need of a good strong family. Ellen is repeatedly the victim of really harsh and unfortunate circumstances. I'd forgotten just how dire her life got, since reading it so many years ago. But Ellen is the kind of strong girl we like to find in fiction, a person who refuses to let harsh circumstances tear her down, and instead takes control of making her life more to her suiting. There are undercurrents of race relations, as well, with the kind of outcome that is so satisfying that it almost reads like a morality tale. But an enjoyable morality tale. I was very happy to revisit Ellen Foster.

Years ago, my favourite of Gibbon's novels was Charms for the Easy Life. I'm planning to revisit many of this author's books in the near future to see which ones I prefer now. I already enjoyed Divining Women last month, before this challenge began.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In the mail!

After fiddling with the ruffle, I was able to come up with a perfect ruffle for the giftie longies. This was one case where blocking made a serious improvement. The longies and a couple of diapers are in the mail to their new home.picture of knitted longiesAlso, the other previously blogged diaper wraps and the rest of the diapers are in the mail. I got a little carried away, and I think I sent 15 diapers. But then, you can never have too many diapers. As it's going to Canada, I don't know when it will arrive. The longies should be home by tomorrow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ruffling ruffles

photo of knitted longies
Turns out I didn't like the enthusiastic ruffles on the gift longies I've been working on. I tried a different version and I'm much happier. This version has yarn-overs for increases, giving an eyelet look, and a crochet bind off. In the picture above the left leg has the rejected ruffle, and the right leg has the new ruffle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great Moments In Knitting

Last night was my kind of Knitting Awesome. It started at dinner. We were enjoying a strawberry-kiwi smoothie. My daughter happened to be wearing a colourful tiered skirt in many shades of pink and green, and I joked that it was a strawberry-kiwi skirt. During dinner, perhaps inspired by the colour of the smoothie, I started thinking about my baby pink baby alpaca. I bought it for mittens, but it didn't pair as well with the other colour as I had envisioned. Suddenly I realised: "I have green yarn and pink yarn and I could make strawberry kiwi mittens!" My daughter cheered, "For me!"

After dinner, I pulled out the yarn I had in mind. I noticed I had other shades of green and pink, too. She picked out shades I would have never, ever paired together. But that's okay. The yarn had no intended projects at all. I got knitting immediately. The mittens burn my retinas, but they are proceeding well.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stuff for baby

Let me reiterate. I am not expecting. The crafting for babies, though, is going strong. I'm making blazing progress on a cute pair of longies. They are made with the Itchy Fingers Longies Pattern, found on Ravelry. I'm using Cascade Quatro and Elizabeth Austen Andes. Wow, did that leg ruffle turn out a enthusiastic or what?

pic of longies in progress

I finished the soaker from the Warm Heart Woolies Trim Soaker Pattern, also found on Ravelry. This is made with Cascade 220 Wool.

pic of finished green soaker

I made more newborn sized diapers out of recycled shirts and hemp/cotton scraps.

picture of 5 cloth diapers

A favourite in this batch is another made from one of my daughter's shirts, with the extra layers coming from a different recycled t-shirt.

picture of a cloth diaper with a shiny snowflake on the bum

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Knit fits and yarn fits galore

Oh my. I'm back at work this week. And really, I just want to be knitting.

On Monday, I had decided to work on a pair of longies, and I wanted to use some nice peach/yellow wool I had on hand. But I didn't have anything compatible to do a contrasting waistband and ruffle. And it's true, I'm all about contrast. So after dropping off the carpool ballerinas, I made a visit to the yarn store. Just to buy some contrast yarn. And I did. A nice skein of Cascade Quatro.

picture of yellow quatro with yellow and peach yarn.

But there was one unanticipated development. TWENTY PERCENT OFF THE ENTIRE STORE. Ending in less than an hour. What's a gal to do?

I was very restrained. As well as the Quatro, I only bought 3 skeins of Happy Feet and 3 skeins of Mission Falls Superwash Merino.

picture of skeins of yarn

But all that yarn shopping didn't take enough time, and I still had time to kill before the ballerinas arrived. I was ready to cast on, but I had forgotten the right needle to cast on the longies. So I cast on a wool soaker instead. I'm trying a new pattern. I knit on it that evening, and on my break on Tuesday. By the time I came home from work on Tuesday, I had convinced myself I needed to start a hat. But I forced myself to finish the soaker first. It's finished, except for binding off.

picture of green wool soaker still on needles, but otherwise complete

I immediately tossed that aside and started a hat with one of my skeins of Happy Feet. I'm using a tam pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I've been knitting obsessively on it since and it's making good progress. I'm knitting from the top down so that I don't run out of yarn in an inconvenient place.

picture of a knitted tam in progress

I would like to point out the little skein in the photo. I DID NOT WIND THE SKEIN INTO A BALL. Just sayin.

Back to knitting

Monday, January 05, 2009

One-hour mittens

Last night, in the Sewing Room of Doom, I created mittens! This is the view of them on my work desk. They were made from the sleeves of a felted Banana Republic sweater, and required some creativity for inserting thumbs.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Saturday, January 03, 2009

THIS is mitten #2

My previous blog posts--the titles I mean--were my own personal kick in the rear to get going. This afternoon/evening I've knit for 5 CDs worth, and I'm about 75% done, I think.

PS It's HARD to take a picture of my right hand!

This is not mitten #2 either

I finished mitten #1 and got thoroughly distracted.

My daughter and I entered the Sewing Room of Doom to make a few diapers. We made ten.

picture of ten cloth diapers, homemade

Three of them are designated for a friend who had a baby a few weeks ago. Since she had a girl, she gets the pink stripey one, the green flowery one, and one of the two newborn sized ones. The rest are for a friend who's due next month.

The stripey one and the tie-dye one are both made from shirts my daughter used to wear. She was having fun picking out fabrics. Suddenly she disappeared, and returned a few minutes later with some too-small shirts, saying, "These are 100% cotton, will they do?"

Our collective favourite is the stripey one. So cute! It also comes with two matching wipe cloths, and is lined with bright pink sherpa.

Another favourite is the hemp diaper. On this diaper, she realised that first, the snaps didn't all have to match. Then she realised that even the snap fronts and backs don't have to match.

This is not mitten #2

Note to self: When I knit baby items in public, people will smile and nod meaningfully at me, and maybe even waggle their eyebrows.

Pattern: Curly Purly Soaker, free on Ravelry
Yarn: Cascade 220 wool. Bought a few days ago. Or last year.
Needles: Size 4, 6, and 8
Notes: She says, "pick up stitches around legs". As I don't have a baby handy, it's difficult to know how many stitches to pick up. My first time around, the legs were clearly too small. The second time, they were questionable. I asked on a ravelry forum, and got the suggestion to pick up 80 to 90% of the cast on stitches. I had slipped the stitches at the end of each row, and this made it difficult to pick up that many stitches. But eventually I did. Now I worry that the legs are too big.

Note to others: This is for a friend. I met her when I was six. She's due in February. No, I'm not expecting.