August 30, 2015

A Knitting Store Adventure

As summer comes to an end I wanted to share a funny yarn story with you all. When travelling to B.C. this summer, my husband had to first make a business stop in Calgary.  When we arrived he went off to the Calgary office and I decided I needed a long walk to stretch my legs.  Of course, a walk with yarn at the end is highly desirable.  I found a yarn store called Stash which was about 2.5 km away from the hotel we were staying at.  No problem, I thought.  It was a lovely sunny day, a perfect day for a walk.  

However, I noticed as I walked that the clouds were getting darker in the distance.  By this point I was closer to the yarn store than I was to the hotel.   By the time I made it to the yarn store and took a quick tour around, it was getting really cloudy, and clouds in Calgary are much bigger and darker than here in Toronto!  When I asked the young girl at the shop if there were any cabs around, she told me they really didn't get out this way very often.  I made a quick decision to head back to the hotel.  I started off jogging, but then ended up in a full run as I could hear thunder and then see lightning. Now, I have to admit I ran by people that didn't look concerned at all so I probably looked like a crazy woman. There was really nowhere I could take cover as the street only had apartment buildings, a park and a parking lot. Then when I looked up in the distance I saw a funnel cloud.  Yes, that's right.  A real funnel cloud.  I ran faster!  Thankfully, the tornado never hit the city and I got back to the hotel before the rain hit.  Now, to prove to everyone that I was not hallucinating here is a picture I took of the news in the hotel bar. This is exactly what I had seen in the distance.  My husband bought me a drink (or two!) and we had a good laugh about my adventure.  

It's been one of those weeks.  I really wanted to finish my Lake Effect cardigan as part of the Very Shannon Summer Sweater KAL (knit-a-long) I am taking part in.  I have until September 9th to complete it.  But instead of finishing up that last lace sleeve, I started knitting my Mailin in the gorgeous Plucky Knitter Scholar in the Twill colourway.  Knitting a cardigan with worsted weight is so much faster than fingering weight.  It is the kind of relaxing pattern that will be perfect as I head into September, which is a very busy time for me at work. I guess I really needed a break from lace knitting.  Hopefully by next weekend I will have finished my Lake Effect and have a F.O. to show you.

Plucky Knitter:  Scholar

After I finish Lake Effect I will cast on a Brooklyn Tweed pattern called Slade, by Michele Wang, for my very patient son who has been waiting for me to knit him a cardigan for a long time.  When I chose this pattern I knew exactly the yarn I wanted and when I was out in Vancouver I visited one of my favourite B.C. yarn stores called Urban Yarns to buy it. They carry a yarn by Harrisville Design (the same company that produces Brooklyn Tweed's yarn) called Watershed, a 100% wool worsted weight yarn. This yarn is described as a softspun, minimally processed heathered woolen yarn. The shade I chose is called Granite, a medium gray flecked with an interesting combination of colours.  Have a look:

Harrisville Designs: Watershed

Colourway:  Graphite

Depending on the light I can see red, blue, and yellow flecks, to name a few. This yarn is very lofty, and I am really interested to see how it will knit up. 

And lastly, look at this interesting skein of yarn that I could not resist buying recently from the Madelinetosh store.  It is called Electric Rainbow in DK Twist.  I am thinking of some mittens or a hat for one of my nieces.

Electric Rainbow: Madelinetosh DK Twist

I hope you all have some exciting knitting projects set up for September.  Fall knitting here we come!

August 23, 2015

Kate Atherley: Custom Socks

Check this picture out:

Knitting two socks at the same time!!!

That's right my friends.  Your eyes are not deceiving you.  I am knitting two socks at the same time using two needles.  No double pointed needles are in sight. Think of how this new found skill will change my knitting life.  I could knit two sleeves at the same time or how about two pairs of mittens?  Think of the possibilities.  And how did this magic happen you may be asking yourself?  If you have read any of my blog entries lately you will know that I am totally a newbie sock knitter and have only knit two pairs of socks in my life. The person sharing this bit of knitting magic was the one and only Kate Atherley.

This weekend I had the opportunity to take my first class with Kate Atherley at Shall We Knit in Waterloo, one of my favourite yarn stores.  What a thrill!   Kate is a Canadian knitter, designer, lead technical editor at Knitty and author to name just a few of her many accomplishments. She has just come out with a new book entitled Custom Socks.  Kate explains in depth how to knit good fitting socks for all shapes and sizes of feet.  There is also a selection of lovely sock patterns to choose from.

Kate taught us how to knit two socks at the same time, perfect for those people who never get around to knitting that second sock.  This method is easy to learn once you have seen someone do it.  To begin you start by dividing your yarn into two separate balls.  Then cast on.

To start:  Cast on the number of stitches for each sock and divide in half between the two needles

Then:  Use the top cable to knit both top rows in each sock

You always knit from the needles that do not have the working yarn.  It is definitely worth searching a YouTube video on how to do it and it is a great option to use.  Once you see a demonstration it is easy to learn.

I received the latest installment of Sweet Fiber Yarns Sock Club yarn called Riverstone and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with this beauty.  But once I took Kate Atherley's class I knew I that I had to practice my new found skill using this yarn before I forgot what to do.  Isn't this skein gorgeous? 

Sweet Fiber Yarn Super Sweet Sock in Riverstone

I love learning new techniques and I going to enjoy knitting these socks using my new found skill.  I will post my progress on Instagram  if you are interested. But first I must finish my Lake Effect cardigan.  Have you tried any new techniques lately?

August 16, 2015

F.O. Acer Cardigan

Doesn't it feel great when you use up a good amount of stash yarn?  I had some Madelinetosh DK in Copper Penny that I bought some time ago and I decided to knit the Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers which used up about 5.5 skeins. 

I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan.  It was a nice break to use a thicker yarn after doing so many projects with fingering weight.
  • the cable pattern is easy to memorize and therefore the body went fairly quickly
  • it is knit bottom-up in one piece 
  • the resulting sweater fits well and looks good!

I found the perfect buttons at Wal-mart!
My Modifications
  • The pattern directed you to knit the sleeves from the cuff up and then seam it into the sleeve hole.  Although I do enjoy the advantages of a seamed sweater I really wasn't in the mood to do it this way. Instead I decided to do a sleeve cap and knit the sleeves in the round.  To get me started I used another pattern, called Capall Dubh by Carol Feller that I had knit before and loosely followed what was written. 
  • I cast on 76 stitches and once the sleeve cap was completed I basically decreased two stitches every ten rounds and them every six rounds once I got by the elbow.  The result was a well fitted sleeve and I avoided seaming.

  • When you knit a sleeve cap, as I did in this pattern, you are sometimes left with a loose looking seam.  Following advice from other Ravellers who knit this sweater I tried a new to me method for tightening up the seam by Paula Ward.  Essentially you add a second coloured yarn on the row where you pick up the stitches around the arm hole.  Then when you have knit the sleeve cap you go back and use the coloured stitches to tighten the seam.  The coloured yarn is removed and you have a much smoother seam.
  • The directions for the collar had some inaccurate information.  When picking up stitches you need to pick up a multiple of 4 + 2 for it to work out evenly.
  • How to do button holes were not explained.  I used a k2together yarn over to make mine.
  • There was little direction given about the spacing of button holes.  I used Amy Herzog's app Knitter's Toolbox for the first time.  One of the helpful features of this app is a button spacer which made it so easy for me. However, when I was inputting the numbers, I forgot to include the number of stitches in the neckband since it is the last thing you knit.  As a result my top button is not evenly spaced.  Rookie mistake. Usually I keep my cardigan unbuttoned when I wear it so I hope no one will notice!
By the way, this app is so helpful and I will definitely be using it more in the future. Look at all the features it has:

Knitter's Toolbox by Amy Herzog

Have you been working on anything for fall yet?  Do you have any recommendations?  I find that the pattern choices are so extensive that sometimes finding the pattern you want to knit is more challenging than actually knitting it. If you are looking for a cabled sweater pattern you should definitely have a look at the Acer Cardigan.  There are almost 800 finished Acers out there so you can get a clear picture of whether this pattern is for you.

Happy fall knitting everyone!

Ravelry notes here.

August 9, 2015

Recipe for the Most Perfect Shawl

First take three skeins of the most luxurious yarn:  Woolfolk Far, a 100% merino with a chainette construction having a micron count of 17.5 (instead of the usual 35 which most wool products have), resulting in a yarn that feels like cashmere.

Then take cabinfour's pattern:  Pure Worsted 

Add a very long driving trip with incredible views from Vancouver, to Kelowna through the Okanagan Valley and then back to Vancouver in British Columbia:

And before you know it you have created a very simple, beautiful shawl full of happy memories that you may never take off once the cooler weather sets in. Ravelry notes here.

August 2, 2015

F.O. Indigo Dreams Socks

I finished my second pair of socks in Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock.  The colourway is Indigo Dreams and is part of the Sweet Fiber Yarns Sock Club.   As I am a newbie when it comes to sock knitting I stuck to another basic pattern called A Nice Ribbed Sock by Glenna C. that I knew would showcase this colourway.  Aren't they pretty?

Worked in a 3x1 rib these socks seem to fit well.

Once again Melissa Thomson has outdone herself with this colourway.  For those of you wishing to get your own skein of Indigo Dreams Melissa has said that she will be making it available sometime in the future. Keep your eye on her website for the latest information.  I am looking forward to seeing the third installment of the sock club which should arrive any day now.  I really think I am becoming a sock convert!  I am looking forward to cooler weather when I can start wearing them.