Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Lately in July

Summer is officially here! Which means we're trying (not that hard, I might add) to find a new routine and settle into it. This generally means getting me and the Kiddo out of the house on a daily basis to enjoy the summer sun while doing something remotely active, because you know, being parked in front of the TV all day playing Xbox really isn't my idea of a great summer (regardless of what the Kiddo thinks!). Not to mention that it has hit me again that the Kiddo is getting older and I need to enjoy as much of the kiddie stuff as I can before he outgrows it all and before it's no longer cool to hang out with your mom so much.

That said, we've done absolutely nothing these past two weeks, even though I've been insisting to my family that we need to go out and "make some memories!". I'm pretty sure the Kiddo appreciates the more relaxed pace, though, and not having to do any writing assignments!! I'm enjoying slowing life down just a smidge too, and it's not like we haven't been doing anything. We've enjoyed Canada Day celebrations, attended free concerts and the Pride parade; we've met up with friends for play dates, knit dates, and Pokémon Go raid battle dates; we've spent time at the public library, time by the harbour, and time at the park...and there's still over seven weeks of summer left to go! Woah!

I'm only looking forward to the cooler months solely for knitting purposes. For now, I'm savouring the warmer weather. Which is rare. Cause I never savour warm weather. Warm weather and I just do not mesh well together. For some reason, this summer is different. I'm not sure why. I was hoping to get a lot of sewing accomplished this summer but alas, my hopes were dashed when it was discovered (in a not so fun and stinky way) that the majority of the electrical outlets in half of my house need to be replaced. On top of the other handful of maintenance work that needs to be done. I live in a tiny townhouse and so having all of my sewing stuff out just isn't feasible. Ugh.

Knitting it is then. Lots and lots of knitting. I'm currently working on three pairs of socks and just a few days ago I had cast on the most wonderful shawl, which you can see a little of in the photo above. This morning a box of yarn arrived on my doorstep and it's taking every fibre of my being to not cast on the blanket I've purchased the yarn for (pun, totally intended!!). Or the slippers that I've been eyeing since last winter...which there was also yarn for in that aforementioned box. Or to cast on one of the many new skeins of yarn that I've added to my stash recently...that's not part of that arrived this morning box. So.mucgh.yarn. We won't go there today. 

While the feelings of casting on all the knits are pretty strong, the feelings of finishing a few WIPs are equally strong, too. I just need to stop looking at pretty pictures of yarn and all the beautiful snapshots of knits on social media, cause my willpower is weak. It would also probably help if I actually sat down and took the time to do some knitting too...instead of looking at pretty pictures of yarn and all the beautiful snapshots of knits on soc...oh wait. 

Vicious circle.

Ok, I'm going to close all my browsers and settle down with some knitting. I hope you get the chance to do some knitting today too! 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fresh Off The Needles: Rose City Opal Rollers

I finished another pair of socks! Surprised? I'm not. From the looks of the WIPs that I've been keeping with me or near me, it would appear that this will be a Summer of Socks. This warm summer weather is making me want to knit alllll the socks. And yes, toting around a small sock project is much, MUCH easier than a sweater or even a shawl project. Especially now, when you're hauling around bottles of water, sunscreen, various snacks, an external battery pack charger for your smartphone (cause you know, playing Pokémon Go can really kill your battery!), possibly a book or two, and whatever extras you carry around when you've got a kid, it's hot out, and it seems like someone is always hungry. Socks are just too easy to not have in your handbag. Amirite?!?

Ok, fine. I know that not everyone is a sock knitter. Some knitters hate knitting socks (say what??), and some knitters have no use for hand knits socks as they either have issues wearing them with their shoes (I totally get that, I only wear my hand knit socks with my rain boots) or their feet are already pretty darn warm without the extra woolly layer. But for this knitter, knitting socks are a total must. They're small, usually mindless, and a knit that I can put down and pick up without having to sort out where I am in the pattern. Easy peasy.

These Rose City Rollers socks are no different. If anything, they are easier than my usual go-to plain vanillas. There's no ribbing and they're half the size of a typical sock, which means less knitting and no need to constantly measuring the leg length or cuff. These socks practically knit themselves up! 

For this particular pair I used three minis from my Opal advent calendar. Although, I kind of cheated a little and used a few yards of the same blue yarn I had used for my Miss.Matched socks for one of the toes. I don't think you can tell the difference since this is already a fraternal pair. I'm sure I would've had enough yarn to knit this pattern without having to dip into some leftovers had I started out with three full mini skeins and had I not used a tiny of bit of yarn from one of the minis in the aforementioned Miss.Matched socks. Oh well. 

I found that my gauge and the fit of the Miss.Matched socks were a little looser than I would have liked, so I decided to go down a needle size for this pair. I think the fit of these Rose City Rollers are a smidge tight, which I don't mind at all and in the end, I don't think it would make a difference if I used my usual sock needle size or the one down. The only mod I made was to decrease the toes until there were only 20 stitches left (instead of the 16 stitches as written in the pattern) as I didn't want my toes to be too pointy.

I highly recommend this pattern and love just how little yarn is required to knit up a pair. I have small feet and find that I always have a lot of yarn leftover after I knit a pair of socks, so I'm pretty excited to finally have a use for all these bits and bobs of sock yarn! I've already pulled out all the larger leftover skeins from my stash to specifically knit more Rose City Rollers. Cause trust me, this Opal mini pair will not be my one and only pair of Rose City Rollers!

:: Sock Details ::
Pattern: Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner

Yarn: Opal 4-ply Sock minis
Colours: Unknown, colours used were days 4, 5, and 7 as they came out of the advent box
Needles: Knit Picks Nickel Plated Fixed Circular in 2mm (US 0)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Rose City Opal Rollers

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fresh Off The Needles: Rainbows & Unicorns

How excited am I to finally get these beautiful and super fun socks off the needles? I wish I could wear them right now but even with the random days of rain, it's still too warm to wear such woolly goodness on my feet. Oh well, another reason to look forward to Fall and the cooler weather! I know, I know...summer hasn't even officially begun and already I'm wishing it was Fall? Simply put, I don't do well in warm weather! Spring and Fall weather is when I thrive...and oddly enough when you can layer on the hand knits!

Anyhoo, back to these socks. I thought I would be knitting on these socks for months and months since I wasn't having any luck with the first sock and all the ripping back I had to do every time I had attempted to knit a heel. My original plan was to knit a toe-up gusset heel but after several attempts, it was quite obvious that this heel was not going to work out for me. Either I made the foot too long or too short, and after the last attempt, I realized that the heel looked too baggy around my overly narrow heels. Fine. How about a slip stitched heel instead? Yeah...that was a no go too. Somehow the heel came out too stiff with this bouncy yarn and it made the extra room a bit more prominent looking than I would like it to look. I was started to feel quite defeated. Have I lost my sock knitting mojo?

I ripped out the heel in sheer frustration and decided to just sleep on it. The next day I caved and went with my usual go-to heel that has yet to let me down, the Fish Lips Kiss heel. And lo and behold, all was good in the sock knitting department once again. Phew! But at the same time, I'm a little bummed about not being able to use a different heel technique. I feel like I'm always using the FLK heel (because it fits my heels just so darn well!!) whenever I knit a plain vanilla sock. I promise, the next pair, the next pair I'll knit a different heel!

It feels like it took a really long time to knit this pair up (three months, to be exact) to the point that someone on Instagram even commented on one of my photos that I was taking a long time and that they were obviously sick and tired of seeing the same sock WIP show up on my IG feed. At first, I felt really bummed out and wondered if my photos were starting to get boring and predictable. After a few days I told myself that I was being silly for letting someone's careless and ridiculous comment affect me so much. Why would you leave a comment like that in the first place? Screw that negativity!  

Aside from the aforementioned heel issues, these socks weren't my main project. While I was knitting these socks I had cast on and finished a Water shawl to donate to my son's school fundraiser and I whipped up a pair of Miss.Matched socks. I had also worked on my Fireside Pullover and a few other shawls WIPs (that are still WIPs...let's not go there). I was trying to be a little more monogamous with my projects, since obviously you can finish a project that much faster when you concentrate on one knit at a time, but my right hand is still all about the carpal tunnel and achiness. Knowing what I know now about healing from carpal tunnel release surgery, I sort of don't want to have to go through the surgery again. At least not right now. So with that said, I'm trying really hard to be extra, extra good to my right hand.

I had knit these socks using my usual toe-up plain vanilla sock recipe (24sts for the toe, 6" leg measuring from the top of the heel, and a 2" 2x2 ribbed cuff) because I wasn't sure how the colours would play out, even though I had seen a sample of this yarn when I had bought the yarn. But you know, needle size, stitch count and stitch gauge can change the outcome of how variegated colours can stack up upon one another. These socks are a true testament of that!

I started the first sock before I had my CT release surgery, and then finished it and its mate after the surgery. I didn't change needles, I didn't change any stitch counts, and I had cast on the second sock from the same end of the yarn cake that I was using for the first sock, and yet the foot came out completely fraternal! I really loved how the colours pooled and then started flashing on the first sock (as seen on the left foot in the photo above) and was quite surprised that it didn't happen on the second sock. Well, not as noticeably, that is. You can see a thicker band of the rainbows happening just below the toes on the second sock. I was also a little surprised that the striping continued almost evenly even after the heel on the second. Usually the heel messes something up and I find colours play out a little differently once you start knitting back in the round after the heel.

Sock's just so magical.

After binding off that very last stitch I weighed my cake and discovered that I have almost a quarter of the skein leftover. Lately I've been giving my leftovers to a good friend, who uses them to knit up little toys that she either gives to charity or uses as a cute yarn bomb, but not this leftover! I'm definitely keeping this little morsel of a yarn cake! I have visions of using it on the neck, cuffs, and hem of a baby sweater. Or maybe as an i-cord edge on a baby item. Or maybe I'll use it to knit another pair of Fennel fingerless mitts (I have exactly enough for a pair!!) since my original pair has been worn to death. Hmmm...that would be such a fun accessory to have on hand to liven up my usually monochromatic wardrobe (pun fully intended!!). Or maybe I should acquire a few more skeins from Sea Turtle Fiber Arts, in colourways similar to this one, which is called Rainbows & Unicorns, and then use all the leftovers to knit a crazy pants rainbow universe pair. I've had my eye on a few skeins ever since last year's Knit City (Rainbow Brite and Dark Side of the Moon, to name a few), I just need an excuse to get my grabby hands on them...


If any one needs me, I'll be looking at some yarn...

Please excuse the extreme ladders along the side seams - these haven't been blocked yet!

:: Sock Details ::

Pattern: My usual toe-up plain vanilla sock recipe with FLK heel

Yarn: Sea Turtle Fiber Arts Ridley Sock
Colour: Rainbows & Unicorns
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Fixed Circulars in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Rainbows & Unicorns

Friday, June 2, 2017

Knit In Progress: Rose City Opal Rollers

Even though I'm incredibly determined to get a few WIPs off the needles, I felt deeply compelled to cast on a pair of socks yesterday. Most likely because I didn't have a portable pair of socks on the go (my Ulti.knit Socks are too fiddly for my liking to carry around and the Continental part of the knitting makes my hand cramp up too much...not fun!) and I hate leaving the house without a knitting project tucked away in my handbag. Would you believe that I didn't have a sock WIP on the needles for TWO weeks?!? Surprising, I know!

I've had my eye on the Rose City Rollers pattern ever since it was released but put off knitting up a pair simply because I wasn't sure if I would wear handknit ankle socks. Since fracturing a couple of toes a few months ago (they're healing so.slowly!!) I've discovered that I haven't been able to wear the same footwear as I used to. Since I have to buy new footwear, I figured I might as well buy something that will be big/comfortable enough to allow me to wear handknit socks with (other than my rainboots, my other shoes feel too tight when I wear them with my handknit socks). 

The idea of being able to wear handknit socks with regular footwear totally excites me! So yesterday while overseeing my kiddo's recorder practise, I finally cast on my first pair of Rose City Rollers. Oh yeah, I can tell you right now that this will not be my one and only pair! As I write this post, I'm already knitting the last few decreases on the gusset!! And get this, I'm knitting this pair with some of the minis from my Opal advent calendar but so far I'm still on the first mini!!

I'm actually torn between sticking with and working on this sock or putting it down long enough to start the sleeves on a pullover. Depending on how my right hand is feeling, I just may have a pair of socks completed by the time the weekend is over! So if anyone needs me, I'll be parked on the Lazy Boy knitting endless stockinette in the round. What are you up to this weekend?

♥ Happy weekend knitting!! ♥

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Knitting Time Machine

Someone needs to come up with the proper term for when a knitter thinks they've gained not only super speedy knitting powers but also extra hours in a day because they all of a sudden believe that they can whip up either a full garment and/or several projects whilst travelling. It doesn't matter if that travel time is only a few hours long, a weekend long or a few weeks long, the delusion that the knitter can pull off such feats is still truly believed. 

This was SO me this past weekend. It was a long weekend for us Canadians (well, except for a few provinces that don't observe Victoria Day) and for the first time in years the Mister didn't have to travel for work and so the little family and I went on a road trip to the Okanagan to visit my inlaws. I was going to be away for barely five days and yet I took with me a sock WIP, yarn to cast on another pair of socks, and a whole sweater quantity worth to cast on a new pullover. Let it be known that I was still worried that I would run out of yarn as I was heading out the door. Yes, I was hallucinating from the yarn fumes.

BUT I am happy to report that I did finish the sock WIP and that I did cast on the new pullover. I also attempted to cast on another sock project but wasn't happy with how my cast on was looking each time I tried, and I must have tried at least a handful of times. So I nixed the socks and decided to just concentrate on the pullover. I decided to cast on the Camaro pullover by Tanis Lavallee (of Tanis Fiber Arts) since I had all the yarns ready to go and I was seriously itching to get it on the needles. Considering that it was sweltering hot in the Okanagan (which I was NOT prepared for) and my hands were sweating up a storm during the day that amplified the carpal tunnel in my right hand, I think I made some pretty good progress on this new knit. By the time I got back home I had completed all the stripes and was starting the short row section of the body. Not bad for five days of knitting, right?

I almost felt guilty for casting on a new sweater project when I still have quite a few on the needles. Almost. I contemplated taking along my Fireside Pullover but was worried that I would finish it too soon into the weekend and therefore end up with nothing to knit on for the long drive home. Silly, I know. Then I realized that all of my sweater WIPs were all at the same stage - they all needed sleeves. Some of them I would have to actually use my brain to figure out the picking up stitches ratios and others required a little bit of frogging. It was all too much "work" for my liking. While stuck in a car I like nothing more than to just knit. So you see, I had to cast on something new. 

Ah, the things we tell ourselves to justify our actions...

Unlike most of my other sweater WIPs, my Camaro seems really promising that I'll like the end fit. I have no idea if it's because I've gained a few pounds (ugh) or if it's because I've lost my garment knitting mojo, but I haven't been too happy with some of my sweater projects. This has absolutely nothing to do with the patterns but for sure has everything to do with my size choices and body comfort levels. Definitely time to deal with that!

Anyhoo, I'm not holding out any hope of getting the Camaro pullover off the needles before the month is over. I'm finally getting it through my head that the school year is almost over, which means that I have a month to get as much done as I possibly can while I have some solo time and before I have the Kiddo at home full time. I have a sneaking suspicion that pulling out, going through, and organizing all the junk stuff in closets and other storage areas in the house won't be fun or even interesting to the Kiddo. Not that I find this task fun either, but it's something that desperately needs to be done.

But first, I'm going to knit a few rounds on one of my projects...

Note to self: STOP procrastinating!!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Fresh Off The Needles: Miss.Matched

You guys, I'm excited. I'm excited to have another project off the needles! My third pair of socks, to be exact. Which really surprises, if I must say because lately I've been feeling a little discombobulated when it comes to my knitting. I feel like I've been flitting from one project to another without achieving any sort of progress on anything. Some days, I feel like knitting but then I can't decide what to work on - even though I know I have way too many WIPs on the needles that I know I should be finishing up. In the end, I wind up knitting on nothing and find myself dusting my perpetually dusty house (what the...someone better go check and see if pigs can fly).

I've been doing some more spring cleaning. Ok, fine. I've been purging. I got rid of some unsightly so-called storage-type furniture that was not actually storing anything other than junk and made the house feel and look overly cluttered. However, there were some long forgotten WIPs hiding out in there and now my sense of guilt is through the roof. Having four garments, four shawls, two supposedly small and quick (not for me!) projects, and a handful of socks on the go (some, I've lost the yarn and therefore have no second sock or can't remember the pattern to continue on) will do that to a knitter. I've left these WIPs on my desk as a way to remind myself that I must finish them before casting on another project because I'm definitely one of those people who have that mentality of if it's out of sight then it will absolutely be out of my mind! 

So, lucky for me this sock project whipped up so quickly that I only had time to mention them briefly in this post. I didn't realize just how much fun and rewarding knitting up those pill-shaped mini skeins would be, since I have no idea what the patterns in each mini would be, watching the colours form and take shape was highly amusing and made for quite the popcorn knitting. I have a feeling I'll be knitting up my Opal advent calendar faster than I thought I would as I can't wait to dig into the rest of my minis!

For this first pair, I decided to use some leftover solid colour sock yarn for the toes, heels, and cuffs in an effort to bring all the minis together and make the socks look somewhat cohesive. I had no idea that as I was taking and knitting up the minis as they came numerically out of the box, that the colours would play out so well. The socks almost look like they were planned this way!

I used my usual number and plain vanilla sock recipe, and originally was planning on doing an afterthought heel. At the last second I decided to try something out - instead of the afterthought heel I switched my yarn to the solid blue and started the Fish Lips Kiss heel and then switched back to the Opal when it was time to start knitting in the round again. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out! Even though there's an extra end to weave in (no more so had I done an afterthought heel), I think this will be my new go-to for when I knit socks with self-striping yarns! And the best part, no needing to pick up stitches!! Not that I mind picking up stitches, oddly enough I actually enjoy picking up stitches, but with this no-to-me way I can just keep on knitting.

As for how I divided up the minis, well, I kind of got lazy. On the first sock, I had knit up what I thought was half of the mini and then actually weighed it out to make sure (note to self: must find a pocket scale without looking dodgy). Then when I was knitting up the second mini, I used the first mini as a size comparison to eyeball and guesstimate if I had used up half of the mini or not. I think I did a pretty bang up job as both socks look quite matchy matchy! Sweet!

This pair used up only three minis. Well, three and a few metres of a fourth (which you really can't tell too much!) because I got paranoid on the first sock that I was going to use up too much of that third mini and will end up short on the second sock. Yeah, I overreacted as I ended up with a few metres leftover of that third mini when the socks were completed. Oh well. Something to keep in mind for next time.

I think I'm going to get more socks out of this advent calendar than I had originally thought. I had estimated that I might get five or six pairs if I used around four or five minis per pair. If I keep using a contrasting yarn for the toe/heel/cuff for future socks I can potentially pull off eight pairs!! But I'm thinking of knitting up a pair of Rose City Rollers as the next Opal minis socks. Who knew that knitting mismatched, Frankensock type socks could be so much fun? Have you knit a pair of socks using mini skeins or leftovers? I can't wait to tackle the rest of my Opal advent calendar and to dig into my huge pile of leftover sock yarns!!

Not washed and blocked yet...hence the obvious ladders!

:: Sock Details ::
Pattern: My usual plain vanilla sock recipe with FLK heel
Yarns: Opal 4-ply Sock minis and Garnstudio Drops Fabel
Colours: Unknown, colours were used as they were taken out of the advent box, and Grey Blue
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Fixed Circulars in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Miss.Matched

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fresh Off The Needles: Starry Water Shawl

I've realized that I didn't really say much about the shawl that I had been working on since February. I think I made a passing comment about it in this post, which I had made shortly after my Carpal Tunnel release surgery, but other than that, nothing. I posted a handful of photos of it on Instagram but only specified the details of what pattern I was knitting and in what yarn. I really have no explanation as to why I didn't post more info about what I was working on for over a month. So I'll give it to you now!

This here is the Water Shawl by Sylvia McFadden (aka Softsweater on Instagram, if you want to check out more of her work!). I call mine Starry Water because of the yarn, which is Dream in Color's Starry in the Deep Seaflower colourway. You can't really tell in the photos but there's a small percentage of metallic Lurex filament plied right into the yarn (to be clear, it's not Stellina, which is a non-metal fibre...I was one of those people who thought they were all made with Stellina), that I think gives this shawl a 'moonlight on the water' essence to it. Unfortunately, I didn't give myself any time to photograph the shawl properly after blocking it before I gave it away. I had enough time to snap a few photos in poor lighting (it was also a super grey and rainy day) and found out later that either I suck at capturing anything blue or my camera just couldn't handle the shades within the blue. Oh well.

So what made me knit this shawl, aside from wanting to knit the pattern ever since it was released back in January, was the fact that my kiddo's school's year-end fundraising auction is coming up (at the end of this month, to be exact!). Usually, all the local businesses that I frequent have already been approached so I tend to knit something instead. I was hoping to knit a few items but that didn't happen. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I used this opportunity to knit a pattern I've been wanting to knit and to use up stash yarn. Finally, a chance to use yarn that I had languishing in my stash for over six years! I'm super happy with how well the yarn looks in this pattern.

I had knit the pattern as written, well, except for the border. I absolutely loved the lace-y picot bind off that I did on the Waiting For Rain shawl that I made for my son's teacher, that I decided to use it again on this shawl instead of the standard garter stitch border. I seriously cannot get enough of this bind off!! Not only is it fun to knit, but I think it just gives the shawl a little more oomph! A little something-something. Also, I was hoping it would eat up more yarn. For the record, it didn't. 

I was tempted to knit an extra lace repeat in hopes of using up more yarn but in the end opted to just leave the shawl as is, mainly because I was paranoid that I would end up short on yarn for the bind off and a big part of me was just done with the knitting part. Even though I love the pattern and found it to be a soothing knit, since this project wasn't for me, I really wasn't that invested mentally. If that makes any sense. By the time I bound off the last stitch I discovered that I had more than half of the second skein leftover and I pondered for half a second about ripping back and adding in that extra repeat but another part of my brain quickly nixed that idea.

I went up a needle size since I tend to knit garter stitch tighter than most knitters. Halfway through the shawl, a part of me was wondering if I should have gone up two needle sizes as the shawl was looking much smaller than I had hoped it would be, but I soldiered on. I did end up with a couple of extra stitches somewhere before or after the first lace repeat. I think I did a few extra increases while I was busy chatting with friends and not paying attention but those extra stitches don't affect the lace section or even the overall finished look of the shawl. So I'm not going to fret over them.

I'll admit that I freaked out just a smidge when the shawl came off my needles. It looked much, much smaller than I thought it would be and I had actually put off blocking it for a few days to think about what I was going to do. Should I rip out the picot bind off and add that extra lace repeat? Should I add more garter stitch? Or should I just block it and hope for the best? I ended up doing the latter and I'm glad that I did. Oh, the magic of blocking! And yay for blocking aggressively!! A couple of blocking wires, a handful of T-pins, and a whole lot of tugging later, the garter loosened up and the lace opened up and started to look like waves of water. And because of all this, the shawl grew to a beautiful and most importantly, to a useable size. Phew!

While I'm pleased with how the shawl turned out, I think if I were to knit this again I would definitely go up another needle size and add in that extra lace repeat! I would like to say I'll knit this pattern again as I would love to have one for me but realistically I probably won't. There are more of Sylvia's shawl patterns that I would love to knit up. I've been itching to cast on A Joyful Thread for months now and I've been really eyeing up Love & Darkness too. Not to mention that I still want a Waiting For Rain to call my own! 

So many little time!

:: Shawl Details ::
Pattern: Water by Sylvia McFadden

Yarn: Dream in Color Starry
Colour: Deep Seaflower
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Interchangeable Circulars in 4mm (US 6)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Starry Water

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