Friday, January 28, 2011

FO: Apple Press Slippers

I am very late to the party, but I made some French Press Slippers finally. I think I'm number 4498. Better late than never?

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Pattern: French Press Felted Slippers by Melynda Bernardi

Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool

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Notes:
This required a surprising amount of concentration! That's not a bad thing, just not what I thought would happen. To begin with, the directions use a space-saving style that makes you think: "knit the first piece as such. Now do the opposite for the second piece." I'm a big girl and should be able to handle a little thinking during the knitting process, but I'll admit getting lost a few times while working on this project at my knitting group. Apparently I can't think and talk at the same time.

Also, the thing is knit in a million tiny pieces. Okay, four pieces per slipper. There are knitters on ravelry who have modified these slippers to be seamless or at least have fewer seams, and I might go that route next time. French Press Knits has some good video tutorials on youtube which I found very helpful while seaming them up.

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These slippers were my trial project for felting in my washing machine. They worked pretty well, considering I have a front-load machine. It is clear that my machine isn't one of those famously gentle front-load washers, since the felting process only took about 1.5 cycles. Excellent. The only thing is, they didn't felt as evenly as I would like - there are some bulbous bits that didn't shape properly, and there is some stitch definition still present. That's not such a problem, but given that I used a yarn famous for felting, I was expecting them to felt more. I suspect that felting it for longer would have solved this issue, but I would have risked too-small slippers, so I took them out when they fit me.

They fit perfectly and they are very comfortable, despite bulbous areas. Maybe next time I'll do some hand-felting to even them out, but these are good enough for me now.

More Friday FOs at Tami's Amis

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oh, I wear my knits. Sometimes all at once.

There's a little challenge going on at Fridica: post photos of handknits that weren't taken purposefully to show off knitting. It happens that I have just the thing!

Here's a photo my dude took of me in his family's back garden over the holidays in December as I was taking pictures of the snow, probably before heading off on an adventure. It wasn't cold enough to wear a winter coat, but somehow I ended up entirely shrouded in handknits.

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I'm wearing my Vivian hoodie, Ishbel shawlette, and Endpaper mitts. Whew. I expect I was quite warm...

Monday, January 17, 2011

FO: Idlewood

Say hello to my first FO of 2011.

Pattern: Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

Yarn: Texere yarns Troon Tweed in the Donkey Tweed colourway

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Mods: I went down to 5.5 mm needle and used a 6.0 mm needle for the cowl. I made the 36 3/4 in size at a smaller gauge, hoping to end up with about 34 in. It seems to have worked - the finished sweater has some negative ease, but not so much that the loose gauge stretches out.

I added extra rounds of garter stitch on the sleeves and bottom edge since the garter stitch edge of the cowl was rolling like crazy. In the end, I like how the cowl rolls, so that part isn't an issue, but I'm glad the sleeves and bottom edge don't.

I made the pockets as swatches, but in the end decided to leave them off the sweater. I couldn't get them to look right, and although they look adorable on some people, I didn't think they were working for me.

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Notes:
According to my Ravelry notes, this took me exactly 2 months. Since I spent much of that time knitting gifts, this actually felt like a much quicker knit. One of my quickest sweaters, really, despite the fact that the cowl itself almost counts as another body of a sweater. No sleeves, but it does have two bodies.

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The photo above shows the colour a little better: it is brown-gray, not just gray. (Next time I will choose a more contrasting backdrop and not get photos in front of something the same colour.)

I had a hard time figuring out the increases - the videos and photo-tutorials out there for k1 b/r or equivalent mostly just confused me more. Maybe I was being especially dense. In the end, I THINK I did them right with a little coaching over the phone from a knitting expert; anyway, they look fine, so whatever I did worked.

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I can use it as a hood, but I probably won't.

Idlewood is really warm and comfortable. I know I will wear this a lot. I was a little worried that the yarn would be too scratchy - it is hearty and sheepy and not particularly soft. However, it doesn't irritate my neck at all. (Maybe I'm tough? Heh). I am convinced this yarn will be durable as well, despite loose gauge, which is awesome. No pilling please! It does shed woolly hairs a bit, but I don't really mind.

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Told you it eats my head!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP: Idlewood

My Idlewood is coming along. Halfway through the waist-shaping I put half the stitches on another needle and tried it on.

and proceeded to take some dirty mirror shots.

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And an unflattering flashy flashy one for good measure.

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I'm pleased that it fits so far, although the cowl neck is pretty overwhelming. Once it is finished and blocked I'll experiment with ways of folding the cowl so that it doesn't eat my head!

More WIPs at Tami's blog

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

bikers, baking, sundry

I just wrote a long rant about my inability to find/get a job, but it turned out super whiny, so instead I'll just say I am at the whiny stage of my January job search. Now have some pictures of baking.

Look, I made rolls:

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My dude prefers rolls to regular bread for some reason I can't understand, so I've been trying out recipes and techniques. I'm no longer afraid of baking with yeast, although it's still very mysterious to me. I'm learning a lot.

For this batch I used this basic rolls recipe by the Hairy Bikers - we don't have a tv and I've never been a devotee of food television, but I must say it sounds like an excellent premise for a cooking show. Chefs who are bikers and also hairy? Woot.

Anyway, I've made these before and didn't get any photos, but this time I ran out of white flour so I used mostly whole wheat.

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As a result, these turned out really dense. I happen to like really hearty bread, but I wouldn't recommend doing what I did if you only like soft, fluffy bread. To be honest, I'm not sure they were worth the effort: kneading for 25 minutes? Man. I guess it is good to get an arm workout any way I can.

Friday, January 07, 2011

FOs for the men: Part 2

More manly socks. You'd be forgiven for thinking I've posted the same boring gray socks twice in a row. In fact, these are a different pattern and yarn from the last - I couldn't face making two identical pairs of boring socks! Hehe. (Boring in a nice way, of course).

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Pattern: Globe Trotter Socks by Jodie St. Clair

Yarn: Regia Solid 4-ply

Notes:
I enjoyed knitting the seed-stitch rib pattern. The fact that there are two rows to the pattern, rather than the same thing every row, added some interest.

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I made the 70-stitch size. Just a note if you're thinking of making this size: I don’t think you can do a slip-stitch heel on an odd number of stitches, but the pattern specifies 35 stitches for the flap. (Or can you? Am I being dumb?) Anyway, it wasn't working for me - constantly slipping an already-slipped stitch at the beginning of the row wouldn't have worked out for long. After doing a few rows and getting a bit confused, I decreased to 34 stitches for the heel flap and it worked fine.

These were the last gift I made for Christmas, and I almost didn't make them. But my fiancé kept saying "Oooh, I like socks!" while watching me knit the socks for my dad, so I thought he'd appreciate them. It's difficult to knit a secret project when spending most hours of the day with the recipient, however; when he got off work for the holidays I had to be creative about hiding away and knitting for a few minutes at a time... I finally finished the socks on Dec 23rd - not bad timing, if I do say so myself.

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we don't actually have a dramatic sloping floor in the flat

Sadly, they are a bit short. He doesn't seem to mind, but next time I'll make the foot longer. I offered to unravel the toes and add a little more length, but he got all protective and said I couldn't take them away! A good sign?

See more Friday FOs at Tami's Amis

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

FOs for the men: part 1

Next gift on the list: socks for my dad.

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(pictured on my dad's feet)

 
Pattern: Mr. Pitt's Socks by Kaitlyn Wong

Yarn: Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Socka Mit Bambou, light gray overdyed with various combinations of Wiltons icing dyes.

Mods: I cast on 72 stitches instead of 80, since 80 seemed huge and my dad's feet are not wide. It seems to be the right width. I did these two at a time - if I hadn't, I would have gone mad with boredom. This is not the most thrilling pattern - k3, p1 all the way through - but it serves its purpose for plain socks.

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The photos I took before sending them show the colour a little better, but not much: just imagine it is a very subtle semi-solid purplish gray.

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From what I can tell, the reaction was positive... but I won't promise anymore manly socks to my family again right away! I'm sick of ribbing. (Ask me again in November and I might have a different answer).

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Gift FO revealed: socks for mom

The first pair of socks I ever knit was for my mom, and pretty much ever since I've been thinking of making her another pair. The first ones were not superwash, and you can guess the outcome of that misguided yarn choice. (Though even slightly felted they were still wearable, my mom claims.)

I hope this second pair fares better.

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Pattern: Bavarian Rockstar by Diana Gates

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in the "mallard" colourway

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Mods: I knit these two-at-a-time, using Judy's Magic Cast-on for the toes, rather than doing a short-row toe as written. I also manipulated the charts a little - this might have been a bad idea. I thought it would be easier to do them two-at-a-time if the front halves and back halves were exactly the same, so I set out to knit it like that. Then I realized that this would put cables right next to each other in a silly way, so I fudged it to have enough ribbing/purls between those cables... And ultimately made things more difficult for myself. It all worked out in the end.

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I'm pleased with these to a certain extent, but I think the little braided cables get lost in the yarn. In addition, I think I should have done the main cable pattern in twisted stitches because my knit stitches look a bit exploded. Small quibbles - they're good enough really. This was my first time using TFA yarn, and I loved the experience, so next time I'm in Canada I'll try to find some more.

The above photos show the socks on my feet, but the photo shows the recipient's feet.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

2010: a year in knitting

Happy New Year, blogosphere! In 2010 I knit my first two lace shawls, more socks than I ever had before, and a surprising lack of sweaters.

Here is a mosaical round-up, not including the Christmas gifts. Excuse the tacky font - I'm still on holiday without photoshop or anything, so I'm playing with photobucket's silly editing tools.

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Left to right and top to bottom:
1. Ishbel by Ysolda Teague
2. My So-called Scarf by Allison Isaacs
3. Norwegian Snail Mittens by Adrian Bizilia
4. Flora by Margaux Hufnagel
5. Sugar Maple socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
6. Skew by Lana Holden
7. Lavalette by Kirsten Kapur
8. Top-down Shoulder Warmer by Laura Chau
9. Delicious Knee Socks by Laura Chau
10. Herbivore by Stephen West
11. Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osborn

Plus, three pairs of socks and one pair of mittens that I'll blog about soon!

I don't really make resolutions for new year's anymore, since I figure I might as well make changes as they are necessary, whatever month it is. That said, I do have some knitting plans and goals for this year. First: knit a few sweaters, since I didn't knit any, other than a shrug, in 2010. I also want to act on some of the design ideas floating in my head, and maybe learn some more techniques. We'll see!