Blogtoberfest

You know, I don’t have trouble coming up with things to blog about and somehow I always find the time. Blogging is more of a naughty distraction for me. Not only do I spend time blogging that I perhaps ought to spend working, but I spend even more time making things to blog about.

I’ve seen these blog-every-day things before and not succumbed, but fear of procrastination excuses isn’t the reason. Or the only reason. I admit, I was kinda worried it would take the fun out of it, and make it a bit of a trial. Or that once a day was too much, I’d run out of time and, I dunno, start blogging pictures of my feet or something, and end up putting my regular readers (hi!) off.

Well, sometimes you’ve just got to give something a whirl. I’ve signed up to be a part of Blogtoberfest, hosted over at the I Saw You Dancing blog. I suspect I’ve been sucked into the bandwagony aspect of it. Well, bandwagonyness can be fun, so ‘why not?’ says I.

I promise no pictures of my feet. Only stuff relating to craft, art, gardening, DIY and other kinds of domestic bliss.

Knittin’ Like a Machine!

I gave Dad his socks this morning. They don’t fit! They’re so big on him they looked ridiculous. Turns out his feet have shrunk a fair bit these last few years. The cause is age, which is disturbing to think about.

They fit the beau, and he’s happy to have them (good thing I changed to a plain blue!). I took measurements of Dad’s foot and I’m going to make him another pair. (Though he still wanted to take the oversized ones home anyway – he loves handknit socks.)

That should leave me with one project to finish – the Must Be Reversible Scarf. The pattern is Palindrome and it’s a fun, easy knit. I’m about 3/4 through:

But I’ve been naughty. I now have two knitting projects on the go. You see, I wanted to make something more complicated (or, at least, bigger) than dishcloths on the knitting machine. (Oh – I mustn’t forget to mention it this time: I got the machine through American Yarns.)

I’ve seen a few versions of a shrug/vest design about the internet. The Circular Shrug is one version (look in the sidebar), and the Shawl Collar Vest is another. It seemed like the perfect garment to start on the machine and finish on the needles. The back is a square, which you fold over and join at the sides, leaving room for the arms. Stitches are picked up and knit into a collar that goes right around the garment.

So I swatched, and discovered that things are a lot wider on the machine than what they end up like off the needles.

Last night I did the math and started machine knitting, and within an hour I had the back of the garment done. I won’t say there weren’t a few moments of dropped stitches and curse words said between teeth, but all in all it went smoothly.

Then I transferred the stitches, top and bottom, to one circular needle and joined them up, doubling the number of stitches by doing a m1 between each stitch.

This is more seat-of-the-pants garment construction than I usually do. Both patterns have a ribbed back, so I’m only guessing that my adjustments for plain stocking stitch will work. Once the collar is a bit wider I’ll slip it all onto a bit of scrap yarn and try it on.

If all goes well, I reckon I have enough yarn to machine knit some sleeves. Just plain rectangles again, with some bell sleeve ribbing at the cuff to match the collar.

I’d be happy to take either of these projects away with me, if it weren’t for the issue of suitcase size. I’m taking a medium rather than a large case, for reasons too complicated to cover here. I’m also going to warm places, so once the projects are done they’ll just sit in my case, taking up room (that could be used for yarn). I’m going to see if I can at least get one of them done. The other will have to wait until I get home.

Dad’s Socks

The first pair in my Socks for Others Club are done:

Not soon enough for Dad’s birthday (last Monday) but I’m very happy to finish them in time to give them to him before I leave.

Yarn: Heirloom Jigsaw, reinforcement thread
Pattern: plain toe-up with short row heel

I’ve selected the next parcel in the club. It’s a plain purple yarn, and I think it needs a stitch pattern or they’ll be pretty boring socks. Off to Ravelry for inspiration…

I Made It!

On Friday I joined the lovely s’n'b girls for a trip to the Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show. I got a lift up there and caught the train home, so it was a bit of a whirlwind visit for me. Before we even got to the show there was some yarn shopping in Kyneton, and some stash enhancement at the Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Once at the show we roamed around the Woolcraft sheds, occasionally succumbing to yarn fumes. In one particular shed I was so overwhelmed by the sock yarn goodness I didn’t see that the Ixchel shop was in the corner, and I’m rather disappointed I didn’t go over and get my first look at yak yarn.

But I was entranced by ms.gusset’s lusciously chubby hand dyed sock yarn.

And Ewe Give Me The Knits sock yarn.

And then I ran into these guys:

And then it was a choice between racing around the rest of the show or taking pictures. Shopping and fondling yarn won out. So here’s the haul:

From the mill: a test ball of the new Bendigo Luxury 10ply yarn, some Neon that was too pretty and cheap to leave behind, and some dpns.

Sock yarn: a ball by Touch Yarns from the shop in Kyneton, ms.gusset’s and EGMTK’s.

Buttery soft Llama yarn from Cranite Haven Llamas.

And weaving tools from Ron West (spinningwoodie on Ravelry). A stick shuttle, rag shuttle, threading hook and a shuttle design I think Ron may have come up with on his own.

By the time I got home I was utterly worn out, but happy to have made it to the show and to have had a lovely day in great company.

It’s a Bond, a Sweaty Bond

Look what arrived yesterday:

It arrived just before lunch, so I spent my ‘lunchtime’ assembling and trying it out.

I used the practise yarn, and tried out some increasing and decreasing. Then I frogged that, got back to work and considered what sort of project I could start at ‘afternoon tea’. It ought to be small and simple.

A washcloth fit the bill, so I dug up some Lion Brand Cotton. Being less flexible than the practise yarn, it was inclined to jump off the needles now and then, but that gave me a reason to work out how to rip out, pick up stitches, and generally troubleshoot problems.

When I had a square, I threaded some yarn through the top and bottom stitches and put it aside. Last night I crocheted around the edges.

The stitches are far from even, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a washcloth. But it’s also my first piece of machine knitting.

And you know what? This sure is a fast way to make washcloths!

Double Troubleshooting

I’m onto my third wine bottle cosy now. I felt very clever, adding more warp by tying it onto the old one and easing it through the heddles.

A problem with doubleweave tubes is it’s hard to get a nice even fold at the edges. Below is a pic of the first and second wine cosies. The first, on the left, has a very uneven, bumpy line where the edge of the warp was. The second is more even.

This is the reason the first is so bumpy. On some of the picks, the weft doesn’t have an end right at the edge to wrap around, so it can easily pull in. You can’t wrap the weft around the last warp end because it’s not actually a selvedge – you want the weave to continue around the tube without the weft doubling back on itself.

You can leave a little loop of yarn there to compensate, but it’s very easy to overcompensate.

What I wound up doing, which looks fiddly but quickly became a habit I barely noticed, was stick a finger inside the tube and tug on the weft (at an angle) before beating.

This made for a much smoother fold.

I’ve nearly finished the third wine cosy. There might be enough weft yarn left for another one, which will mean tying on another warp. But I could use the yarn to make handles, instead. Hmm. Decisions, decisions.

Recycling Socks

In the early days of knitting socks, I favoured the look of the short row heel. Unfortunately, most of the socks didn’t fit, because I have high arches. (This was before I realised I could add some gusset increases before the heel and decreases after it.) After forcing my feet into them for a while, I eventually gave up and stowed them away. They weren’t all that worn out, and perhaps I could reuse the yarn, or make them into something else.

Turns out, they make great wrist warmers. So every now and then (like when I’m trying to avoid casting on another big project) I dig out the socks and select a pair to recyle.

I love stripey socks, so I was really disappointed that these ones didn’t fit. I’d even stored the contrast yarn with them, ready for the transformation. It was just a matter of cutting off the feet, picking up stitches and adding some ribbing.

Not sure what I’ll do with the feet. Cosies for iPods or cameras?

But I love the wristwarmers. They’re perfect for keeping my fingers going stiff from cold in the mornings, without hampering typing.

Calorimetry, Again

Last week I made another Calorimetry.

It was really more as a test of the yarn than anything. I kinda lost my love for the pattern after my last attempt. But it’s a good swatch alternative. I want to find a non-wool yarn that is stretchy enough to make Tubey. Bamboozle is a mix of bamboo and elastic.

Though I used a smaller needle size it still came out a little big.

Unfortunately, it grew even more when I washed it. I’m not sure if I’ll frog this or not. But it served it’s purpose. I know the yarn won’t work for Tubey. It’s not elastic enough.

In the meantime, the first of Dad’s socks are past the heel. Though I know I’m the anomoly, with my very narrow feet, I can’t believe how big these are. They’re freakin’ huge! There’s not much chance I’ll have the pair done by the weekend. Good thing I bought Dad a birthday present!

Amethyst

Finished, blocked and photographed:

Pattern: Top-down Fitted Sweater from Yarn magazine issue 11.
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Allegro in ‘amethyst’
Alternations: I added two more increasing rounds to the yoke before dividing for the body and arms. I accidentally did five instead of four decrease rounds for the waist shaping, so I did the same number of increases. I also did six instead of seven repeats of the lace for the hem and sleeves. All I can say is, it was a pretty distracting week.
Summary: I love it. It fits perfectly. I love the simple geometric lace details. The yarn softens up beautifully after washing, too.

Once I’d finished knitting this, I was a little naughty and started a couple of small projects. Well, the first one had to be done because I need to judge the suitability of the yarn for the intended project in case I encountered it going cheap during my travels. The second is to give my hands a break from knitting Dad’s socks. The third… well, it’s kind of a recycling thing.

More on those soon!