19 January 2009

I've got a golden ticket!

Last week I got the second instalment of the Knit it Up! Sock Yarn Cinema club. This yarn was in honour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. To me there is only the one Willy Wonka, as originally played by Gene Wilder in the 1971 production. I've seen the remake but frankly prefer to remember Tim Burton's better movies from his earlier career. So it's the earlier movie that I feel this yarn and the forth coming socks are in honour of.

Fibre: 100% Superwash Merino Wool
Colour: Chocolate Covered Gobstoppers
Sock Yarn Cinema Club: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Skeins: 1
Yards: 390/skn
This month's package included the very lovely Chocolate Covered Gobstoppers yarn, a Wonka bar with a golden ticket wrapped around the bar and a little note go to with. I didn't realise until I read the letter that there were only two golden tickets that were sent out. That's when it occurred to me to look at the back of the ticket and realised that it was a $20 gift certificate! What a great surprise! I spent the next hour or so going through the Etsy shop trying to pick something worthy for purchase with a golden ticket. I'll show you what I picked out when once it arrives.

To add to the awesomeness of getting a gift certificate with my monthly dose of yarn and chocolate, Ms. Knit it Up! included the cost of shipping for the yarn I picked out though it bumped the final total beyond $20. I really feel that was just the nicest thing ever! I gave her some Etsy love and hope that you all go take a look at her shop. There's some super nice note cards in addition to her terribly tasty yarns. I have to say they are terribly squishy and fabulous.

I better hurry up with those stripey socks so I can start on these chocolatey ones.

18 January 2009

Sock Club Hopper

Though I don't like to declare emphatically that I'm a sock/mitten/hat/sweater knitter I'm sure my stash would tell a very different story. I have quite the pile of sock yarns piling up and I'm afraid that it's only going to get worse in the near future. That's right, I'm taking part in a sock club. Actually that's not entirely true. I'm taking part in TWO sock clubs. I know. I can go a little over board sometimes.

The first sock club I'm participating in the Sock Yarn Cinema club from Knit it up. I love the idea of having colourways custom dyed for movies, and the list of movies when I came across this sock club through some Ravelry browsing one day so decided to join up. Now we're two months into it and it's been super fun!

December's movie was Rudy. The yarn came in plastic trophy case and came with some delicious caramel hot chocolate mix. December was a pretty hectic month for me so I didn't get around to taking pictures or even casting on for the socks. Nope, haven't rewatched the movie yet either. I did have the hot chocolate right away and it was super yummy and the packaging has already been repurposed as a spare button container.

Fibre: 70% Merino Wool 30% Silk
Colour: The Fighting Irish
Sock Yarn Cinema Club: Rudy
Skeins: 1
Yards: 440/skn

It wasn't until I got the package for January that my sock needles were liberated and I cast on for a new pair of socks. To be honest I was kind of stumped of what kind of pattern to use with this yarn. In the end I decided a simple pair of ribbed socks were in order. Toe-up (this time short row) and magic loop are my preferred sock tendencies these days. I know I know all wrangling an octopus aside, I find that the brainless aspect of working from both ends of the skein lends itself nicely to the portability of a pair of socks in progress.

If you know me at then all you know that I'm entirely opposed to anything that changes my habits established ESPECIALLY if I think it's in any way trendy or fashionable. But I will often completely turn that initial emphatic negative reaction entirely around after I've tried whatever and found it to be not so bad. It's just as stupid to never use a method JUST because it's trendy as it is to proclaim it for the same reasons. I don't like to get caught up in hype.

In this case, I still don't think Magic Loop is the best thing since sliced bread, but I do like that working two socks or sleeves at the same time means I don't have to pay as close attention that they'll end up to be the same length or gauge. And portability lends itself to socks getting finished in my life. Being able to drag them with me to work, on a plane, while in a waiting room or getting a pedicure is the key to me getting another pair of socks to wear especially if they're stockinette or find themselves to be tending towards knee high length.

But these socks are coming along quite quickly. The Knit it Up! Silky is super nice to work with. And I am kind of super excited to move onto the January sock yarn once these ones are finished up...

17 January 2009

The 5 year blanket

I started my first 'real' job about a month after graduating University. I woke up on Saturday morning to my brother & dad telling me there was a Mini Cooper (one of my favourite cars) for sale in the paper for a good price. We went to take a look at it and next thing you know, I've got my first bank loan set up to buy my first car. All kinds of rather grown up things happened all of a sudden back in the fall of 2004. I started working on a blanket to help keep the back seat warm and cargo bay protected in my new baby.

While there was quite a lot of life that happened in those five years, the blanket never quite got finished. Not before I sold the car and move on from that first job. It wasn't worked on at all while I was away living and working in the UK—a dream since high school. I didn't start working on it again until after moving across the country and getting set up here in Montreal. Two years into living here and the blanket is finally finished now that I'm finally settled in a routine again.

In my usual fashion, this blanket has been ripped out and restarted 3 times. The last time was in October. I had originally planned for the blanket to be the exact width of the back seat of the Mini, but as I no longer own the car, I decided I wanted it to be wider and more couch friendly.

Also in the last restart of this blanket, I realised that when crocheting, it's more effective to work the ends in as a project's worked instead of in knitting, where they're left to the last to be worked in. Definitely a plus for crochet in my book. As this blanket had been worked narrower twice already, I was working with many smaller lengths of yarn. Instead of leaving them loose, I split felted them as I worked which is something I kind of really enjoy doing.

All these things really made it enjoyable to work on while watching tv. Add on the turn in temperature in the fall, and having a blanket on my lap to work on during CSI really made this project fly, relatively speaking to its previous progress.

It was also kind of a race to the end of the yarn. As I worked it became clear that the scarlet was going to be the deciding factor in the final blanket size. It did run out halfway through the second stripe of a pattern repeat, but luckily my brother Mr. Peabody has quite the supply of Briggs & Little sport which doubled up is a decent substitute for the Heritage.

It looks rather nice on my first couch doesn't it?

10 January 2009

All I want for Xmas...

My mom's Christmas present for 2007 was a promise for some seasonally appropriate knits and her present for this year was me actually knitting one of them. Completely of lame, I admit, to leave it a whole year AFTER the holiday before I even started this project, but 2008 was quite the year. Ups, downs and always at a break neck pace even during vacations, I really didn't downshift into relax until I met up with my parents in Hawaii again for the holidays.

I need to say that I am infinitely thankful that a tropical Christmas has become a family tradition, even if it requires the loss of a day to travel at each end, it's completely worth it.

The yarn is the most amazingly soft and light Filatura Di Crosa Superior which is a cashmere silk blend. The cashmere fleece is caught in the plying of the two teeny tiny silk strands. Once knit up it really feels like holding a puffy little cloud of fabulousness. It's expensive at $26 a skein but as I barely used half a skein not at all ridiculous. I bought the yarn Wool Revival when I was back home in Edmonton in the early summer.

Pattern: Qiviuk Webs Tam by Gayle Roehm in Interweave Knits Holiday 2007
Materials: 1/2 skein Filatura Di Crosa Superior 12 blue
Start Date: December 25, 2008
End Date: January 3, 2008

What drew me to this pattern is of course the lace pattern worked at the top during the decreases. I really enjoy the geometric pattern that emerges. It reminds me of poinsettias rather than a spider's web but either way make for a fabulous hat. I opted to work on larger needle size than stated in the pattern as my set of 3.25mm's are occupied with another project and my mom's curly hair could easily enjoy the extra room.

My mom is very excited to finally have her new hat. And yes, I'm going to do my very best to get the matching scarf done by her birthday.

3 January 2009

Late report: Random Generator Socks

Remember these?

Well they're finished too. Been finished for a while and very well appreciated too. If you've been stalking my Ravelry projects, you've probably already seen them.

After being all excited to start these and knitting up a fury, I found they were rather tight in the heel/ankle area and decided to rip them out completely and start all over again. Having worked on them once already, the fury and fun of the project was kind of gone and they became just one of those no end in sight kind of projects.

But weeks and weeks of tv knitting, some lunch knitting and a trip to LA/Denver and these suckers were eventually finished. I have to say that I'm more a fan of them now that they're done that when I was knitting them. They're super super perfect for my winter boots. Nuts to long underwear! I'm all about the knee high hand knit socks now! I've worn them as much as possible without suffering from smelly footses.

I decided to go with a large section of 1x1 twisted rib for these socks as the Such Great Heights Socks tend to be rather on the slouchy side. And I opted to be a little tighter with my tubular cast off as well to try and make these suckers as gravity defying as possible. They still tend to slouch when I'm not wearing my boots, but stay up when I've got them on so I can live with that.

Pattern: Um, boring toe-up socks but with colour changes? Some 1x1 twisted rib and a tubular cast off to finish.
Materials: 10 mini-cakes=1 ball of Opal sock yarn, but with crazier colours
Start Date: July 13, 2008.
End Date: December 6, 2008.

So there is going to be much more in the hand knit sock area, not just because of the sock clubs I've signed up for (shifty eyes) or the stack of sock yarns already staring at me from the bookcase. No, there's going to be more hand knit socks because winter is long and hand knit socks are like hot chocolate for your feets.

1 January 2009

Jelly Bean Scarf

I'm going to continue on with the posting of projects I knit late in 2008 but didn't get around to posting about on time.

This year at work as part of the Christmas Festivities, we had a charity auction to raise money for Centraide of Montreal (United Way). People were asked to bring something in to auction off or to provide a service. Everyone ended up volunteering one or more items, such as Personalised Surprises for a week, Guitar lessons, Diet Coke delivered to your desk for a month or lunches: one a week for the month of January.

I had no idea what to volunteer until it occurred to me that people might enjoy something handknit. Everyone knows by know that I knit, having seen me bring in the occasional pair of socks or hat to work on at lunch. And they know from the handknits I wear on a daily basis (it is very wintery still in Montreal) that I'm a good knitter. So I volunteered to knit a pair of socks for whoever won the auction. Through some negotiations, this became a custom handknit accessory. But through advertising and the usual office conversations my item became quite sought after. I even had people come up to me in the days before to place their order. There was quite a battle over who exactly won the auction but finally when the dust settled, I found myself with the task of knitting a scarf for my coworker's three year old daugther.

My coworker Maria wanted a scarf for her daughter that would go with her coat and a hat she would be getting for Christmas. Something that her daughter could wear now, but if she was careful, could use as she grows up. Maria brought me the hat to take with me yarn shopping. From the start I had the thought of making a Feather and Fan scarf out of striped jelly bean colours. To tie in the colour of the hat without being concerned with it matching exactly which would be pretty much impossible without custom dyeing and I haven't had much time or energy to do much dyeing lately.

I headed up to Effiloché after work that day with the hat and had quite a time picking out appropriately jelly bean colours out of various squishy Alpaca yarns. I chose Alpaca so that it would be super squishy and soft. The hand washing wasn't as big a concern to me as this scarf is going to be special to go with a nice dressy coat and hat. Special to me means it's ok for special care. Plus natural animal fibres that haven't been overly treated still have their natural protection against grime.

Somehow I managed to narrow the enormous pile of yummy Alpaca yarn I was playing with at the store down to 8 skeins which I bought (exact yarn & colour information available on Ravelry), found a garter version of feather and fan on the internet and cast on straight away for the scarf. The first evening I spent playing around and settling on the ruling guidelines for the scarf. I settled on 3 pattern repeats of a 4 stitch feather and fan pattern, each stripe would be 2 pattern repeats and away I went.

I was always clear with my coworkers before the auction that whatever they asked for would really not be ready for Christmas, but as it turned out I'm a big fat liar. Some combination of making a not terribly big scarf with worsted weight(ish) yarn made for super fast knitting. Plus the interesting but still simple lace pattern and lovely squishy Alpacay goodness made this a really enjoyable project. I did want to get it done, but it was also SUPER fun to do. Even if I did have a bunch of ends to work in at the end which did get a procrastinated a bit.

I managed to get it done and delivered to Maria on my last day before leaving on holidays on the 13th of December. She wore it around work for the rest of the day despite the tropical temperatures that our office has been experiencing lately.

Pattern: Feather and Fan (4 stitch garter version)
Materials: Part of 8 skeins of mostly Alpaca yarns: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Ultra Alpaca Light, Louet Gems Sport, Susan Andrews Collection Warani
Start Date: December 2, 2008
End Date: December 10, 2008
Modifications: Well, kind of my own invention really

I do have a WHOLE bunch of yarn leftover which may become a Jelly Bean Granny Square blanket (I'm almost done with the Mini Blanket) or a co-ordinating Mommy version of the Jelly Bean Scarf. I'll keep you posted. No seriously!

She wore a Raspberry Beret

It is the new year I know, but I have to sneak in some projects I knit in 2008 and didn't get around to posting about. I could come up with some of that 'well it was a Christmas present and I didn't want to spoil the surprise' but I'm pretty sure the recipient doesn't know/read this blog and I gave it to her soon after finishing it. So there's no good reason. I just didn't get around to it. If you've been stalking my Ravelry page, you've probably seen some of them.

One fall day, soon after the weather started requiring the wearing of hats on the way to work, my co-worker Marie-Noëlle would exclaim everytime came in wearing my Handspun Le'Slouch (so like everyday) saying how much she wanted a beret of her very own. Finally one day she added an extra level to the request. She didn't just wanted a beret, but a Raspberry Beret so she could say that Prince was singing about her...or at least to feed her fantasies.

Really though, who could resist the challenge of coming up with a respectable Raspberry Beret? It really came together through my daily Ravelry Friend Activity perusal seeing someone had faved or queued the pattern. I thought it would make a perfect Raspberry Beret.

Pattern: Gwen Slouchy Beret by Lauren Nell
Materials: Louet Gems Sport Wt. Burgundy (half a skein)
Start Date: November 8, 2008
End Date: November 10, 2008
Modifications: Added i-cord nipple to the top as requested (had to add more decreases to get down to 4 sts)

Overall I quite enjoyed this pattern. Super simple lace that's easy to memorise and has a huge impact. I knit most of it one afternoon at Effiloché and many of Mr Peabobody's students were impressed and inspired to make their own. I'm likely to make another one out of the remaining half a skein and send it to some faraway friend. To have 2 Raspberry Berets in the same city would probably cause a tear in the time space continuum or something.