Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo-tiful Yarn!

OK, that was a lame pun, but I wanted something that tied in with Halloween, and that's as good as I could come up with. Happy Halloween!

Monday was Kate-the-Enabler's birthday, so we decided to treat ourselves to a visit to Mouliné, our not-so-local yarn shop. Despite some early difficulties (I gave Kate the wrong cell-phone number - Hee Hee!!!), we met up at around 1 o'clock and proceeded to scour the store in search of yarn for our respective projects. We were Moms with a Mission! Kate wanted yarn to get started on Eunny Jang's lovely Endpaper Mitts (enabled by the talented Caroline). I wanted to pick up some yarn to make a hat for my lovely daughter Émilie, and possibly a scarf for myself.

After some lengthy discussion/debating with Scott, Kate settled on some lovely Zara yarn (it's technically a DK weight, but it's really on the finer side, so I think it'll be fine). I also enabled her into a skein of Fleece Artist merino sock yarn ('cause every sock knitter needs at least one skein of FA). For myself, I picked up some beautiful Malabrigo for my scarf. Mmmm. I just want to roll around in this yarn. I already have some in my stash, which I had planned to use for the Snowball Hat from the Fall 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. I think I'll try to fiddle the cable pattern from the hat into a scarf pattern.

I also grabbed a skein of Colinette Cadenza. This is their DK-weight merino, and it's quite soft and squishy. I was a little surprised, actually, since I'm not a huge fan of their Jitterbug sock yarn (that probably makes me some kind of heathen). I think it's something to do with the way it's spun, maybe? (Like I really know what I'm talking about!) I don't know, it's seems sort of stringy to me. In all fairness, I've yet to actually knit it up. Maybe once I do, I'll change my mind.

In other yarny-goodness, I FINALLY received my order of Sock Hop yarn from Crow Mountain Farms. I think I ordered these skeins back in July or something, but they apparently had problems getting the orders from their spinners, so it took a while. It was worth it, though! Luscious handspun. Note to self: must learn to spin ASAP!

I'll leave you with this picture of Émilie, taken this morning as she was leaving for daycare. Come on, say it with me: Aawwwwww!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Reverse Frog

I've been working on the Gentleman's sock with Lozenge pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Along the way, I bumped into a few problems. I kept at it, though, confident it would all work out in the end. Then this happened:

I ran out of yarn at the toe. Again. *Sigh* The only problem is that this is the second sock. There is no backup yarn. After seriously considering just setting the damn thing on fire, I had an epiphany. "I know! I'll just frog back some of the cuff and use the yarn to complete the toe. No worries!!!".

Yeah, the only problem is that, as I soon discovered, you can only reverse frog straight stockinette stitch. Something about the change in direction from purl to knit stitches turns the process into a big knot and, really, a total nightmare. But rather than re-knit the socks (and that was so not going to happen!), I patiently reverse-frogged (Gorfed?) 10 rows of cuff. After about five hours (yes, you read that right - FIVE HOURS), I wound up with a dinky little ball of frayed yarn, which was (thank goodness!) just enough to finish the toe.

I used a sewn bind off on the cuff, and I'm pretty happy with the results. There's only a slight problem.

Now the cuff on both socks don't match, and I have to reverse frog the first sock. Aaaaack!!!!!

I just couldn't face it last night, so I cast on another pair of socks instead. I'm a bit behind on my Rockin Sock Club kits, and I had originally planned to work on the October kit next. However, after working on a pair of brown socks for what seems like forever (!), the colours on the August kit just called out to me. The design is cute (I think these will make a lovely Christmas gift for somebody), and I'm enjoying the different look. The design calls for a lace cuff that is then joined together and folds over the leg. I'll be knitting them on DPNs, but since the cuff is knit straight (and wet blocked before joining to work in the round), I used a circular needle to start out.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

But it was on sale!

A couple of weeks ago, I was randomly following links and I ended up on Sweet Georgia's blog (she of Sweet Georgia yarn). Specifically, on this page, where she shows off her beautiful Sizzle sleeveless shell top. Yeah, it's another Wendy Bernard pattern. Do you see where I'm going with this?

Anyway, Georgia used Estelle Mystik yarn for her Sizzle, and the results (at least in my humble opinion) are lovely. Since I was on a yarn fast (and, you know, winter is fast approaching), I let it go.

Skip ahead to last night. I get an email from Ram Wools (I have got to get off those "Update" mailing lists, they're just evil) telling me that Estelle Mystik is now on sale! 50% off! "Sizzle!!!!" I think. So I bought 10 balls in the Scarlet colourway. Whaaaat? It was on sale!!!!!

As to the other projects I'm drooling over, I'm planning on casting on an obscene amount of projects in the next few days, in the hopes that this will counter the urge to splurge. If that doesn't work, November is a whole new month. :P

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is there a cure for this?

I have a wicked case of cast-on-itis. Unfortunately, I don't actually own the yarn for any of the things I'm currently drooling over. *Sigh* And since I'm a bit of a fiber-snob (no acrylic, please), it would cost me quite a bundle if I were to order everything I want. Yes folks, incredible though it may sound, it seems that Rhinebeck did nothing to cure me from my urge to splurge.

What are some of the things you want, you may be asking? Here's a list (in no particular order):
I also have a yearning for this yarn, just because it's pretty:
Even though my yarn fast is technically over, the Rhinebeck bills have yet to arrive, so I'm going to try to keep it together until they do. I'll keep you posted.

By the way, I've turned the heel on my second Gentleman's sock with lozenge pattern. I'm hoping it'll be finished by the end of the week, since I got my Rockin Sock Club kit in the mail yesterday (no pictures yet - I don't want to spoil the fun!). Suffice it to say that I love the colour (very Halloweeny), and the design is equally fun (from none other than the Harlot herself). I think these will be keepers!

Monday, October 22, 2007

If you build it, they will come

Breaking news! I think there just might be a future in this hobby we call knitting. Un-be-lie-vable. Un-real. Un-imaginable.

I'll just begin by saying that I had no idea that Rhinebeck would be such a humongous freakin' affair. I mean, DUDES! If you've never been, it's absolutely crazy! Everything and anything that has to do with sheep or yarn is represented, from sheep (and angora rabbits, and llamas, and alpacas) to yarn to sheep dogs. And the knitters (and spinners, and farmers)!!!! They came in droves.

We arrived at the fairgrounds at about 9:25 in the morning, and were already freaked out by the number of parked cars. As soon as I had paid for our tickets, I made a beeline for the Briar Rose Fibers booth, and began rooting about for some Abundance (to make Ann Hanson's Totally Autumn throw). I didn't find any (rats!), but I did get my hands on this lovely 1200 yard skein of Grandma's blessing (I'm thinking of making either this or this with it, I haven't decided yet). When I casually asked about the Abundance, I was told that their supplier had run out, but that I could substitute for some Sonoma (same gauge, different fiber), which they had in stock. Since Phil was dealing with an impatient Emilie and a screaming Maxime, I thought "I'll be back later". BIG MISTAKE!!! When I returned, there was no more Sonoma to be had. Oh well, at least I scored a 10% discount on my next purchase! (Insert evil laugh here).

I'm trying to give an accurate account of the day, but honestly? It all boils down to sheep gazing (for Emilie, the animals were really the high point of the day) and yarn fondling. The yarn fondling was actually kind of intimidating. As I mentioned here, I really don't know that much about yarn (no, really!). Sure, there was lots (and lots, and LOTS) of beautiful yarn out there, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to be able to look at a skein of yarn and visualize what it wants to be, you know? I can't say "That would make a great sweater, give me 1500 yards". I even bought the Ann Budd pamphlet that Jennifer was kind enough to mention, but I was still a little flabbergasted. So for a while, I was limiting myself to one skein projects, like socks or scarves.

From left to right: Three skeins of Soft Touch Heather sock yarn in the fury colourway, from Shelridge Farm; Three skeins of sock yarn from Pennsylvania-based Maple Creek Farm (in my opinion, the jewel of the show): Superwash merino in the Jade colourway, Superwash Merino/Tencel in the Hot Cocoa colourway (my favourite), Superwash Merino/Nylon in the Pond Rocks colourway (this one's for Phil)).

Below, on the left: one skein (about 500 yards) of Boucle yarn (mohair/wool/nylon blend) from also Pennsylvania-based Persimmon Tree Farm. Last but not least, this yarn. I don't know what it is or how much of it there is, nor do I remember where it comes from (Way to go!). It's just funky, and every time I would walk by it it would catch my eye, so I bought it. I think it'll make a great scarf.

So there I was, confused, disoriented. Even Phil was telling me to get out there and get shopping (I know!!!). Enter the kit. Now, I've been meaning to blog about how my feelings toward the kit have changed over the years. See, I used to look down on them. "Kits are for amateurs" I'd say. And that may very well be. But there's just something about getting everything you need in one convenient package, you know? It's like a Happy Meal for knitters. Sure, you can get the individual components separately, but it's just not the same, right? It's not a Happy Meal. Plus, at least when it comes to knit kits (and possibly Happy Meals), buying the kit is usually cheaper than buying the yarn and patters separately. So there.

First up: The Tree Frog scarf kit from Morehouse Farm. I had actually meant to purchase enough yarn to make a sweater from Moremouse, but when I got there all I could find were these cute scarf kits. So I bought one. Then, a couple of hours later, I realize that there were actually two Morehouse booths, and that all the Morehouse Merino was in the other one. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the place was crawling with savvy knitters who had cleaned them out of most of the colourways I fancied.

Second: the Wanderer sweater kit from the afore-mentioned Shelridge Farm. I bought the L/XL kit, mainly because that's all they had left at this point. I'm thinking I'll either make it for the big sweater-wearer I know (who's L/XL), or I'll make the medium sized-one for Phil and then try to make a matching, smaller version for Maxime with the leftover yarn. Tempting as that may be, there is one caveat. In all the years I've known Phil, he's never voluntarily worn a wool sweater. He's just not a sweater lover. I'm not sure I want to put myself through the aggravation of making him something he'll probably never wear.

There you have it! I had a blast, and barring any disasters, I'm definitely going next year (but maybe without the kids? I'm just saying is all) :)

By the way, you can check out all the pictures we took (a big thanks to Phil for having the presence of mind to take pictures while I walked around in a yarn-induced trance) here. Enjoy!

P.S.: A big Hidey-Ho to Michelle, from the Sweet Sheep. I can't believe that I actually bumped into her among the thousands of knitters and spinners ambling about on Saturday! It was great to meet her in person :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Off on our merry way

We're off to Rhinebeck in a bit (actually, I'm off to the shower...), but I wanted to post this picture of Emilie in her brand-new sweater. We managed to get her to put it on for about 5 minutes last night. Woo-Hoo! I'm actually quite happy with the fit.

I'm also quite happy to present these, Kate-the-Enabler's first ever socks, a pair of Monkeys no less. I think they're awesome, and Kate deserves a great big hand of applause. Way to go Kate! :)

Lastly, I finished the first of the Gentlemen's sock with lozenge pattern, from Knitting Vintage Socks. Sadly, they won't be for my brother-in-law after all, since I ran out of yarn. I'll have to find a man with little feet, because I just couldn't face ripping them out again.

Major Yarn PrOn next post! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Woo-Hoo (I guess)

The Wildflower sweater is finally done. I thought I would be done by Tuesday at the latest, but not only did I underestimate the amount of time it would take me to do the embroidery, I also failed to remember how much I hate seaming. No worries though, the important thing is that it is now ready for Rhinebeck.
It was my intention to post a picture of the sweater actually being worn by its intended owner, my three year old daughter Emilie. However, after taking one look at the sweater her puffy-eyed mother was proudly presenting her this morning, the little angel said "I don't like it" and flat out refused to try it on. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Insert appropriate expletives here). Anyway, I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that I handled it badly, so badly in fact that I can pretty much guarantee that there is now no chance in hell of her wearing it. EVER. Anyone want a sweater? I'd be willing to part with it for, oh, 700$? :) Gotta love kids.

The worst of it is that she flipped through my pattern book (I was trying to show her that I'd made her THAT one. "See? It's the same, isn't that cool????") and promptly requested I now make her a knitted mouse. Um, I'm going with NO at this point. No more knitting for the ungrateful child, thank you very much. I'm going to retreat to a corner and nurse my wounds for a bit before I venture into THAT neck of the woods again, if you don't mind. Possibly with, *GASP*, something for myself that isn't a pair of socks. I'll keep you posted until after Rhinebeck.

In other news, Kate-the-Enabler, my mom and myself saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age yesterday. I quite enjoyed it, but something bothered the crap out of me. One of the actors was maddeningly familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on who he was (he played the Jesuit) or where I'd seen him before. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm somewhat of a freak when it comes to anything movies. I know actors, directors, composers. Put it this way: I play a mean "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon". Anywho, it bothered me off and on all evening, and this morning in the shower it just hit me: he played Spike in Notting Hill. I checked IMDB and sure enough, I was right. I rule!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I should really be knitting

Well, Phil won the bet. I really thought I had him, since he ran into a little snag on Monday night, but I totally, TOTALLY underestimated the amount of time it would take to do the embroidery on the flowers. Seriously, it's taking forever (note the present tense). Yup, after 3 hours, I'm still not finished. Oh well! :) The worst of it is that last night, Phil took one look at my completed panel and said "I think I prefer it without the embroidery". Aaaack! What do you think, dear readers? Better with or without the embroidery?

I went to the bank yesterday and picked up some American money for our trip to Rhinebeck this weekend. After taking out what most muggles would consider to be an insane amount of money to be spending on yarn, my wonderful husband, without missing a beat, said "That's pretty reasonable". Of course, we're talking about the guy who once spent 1200$ on pinball parts at a convention in under five minutes... He's even set aside some spending money for himself (read: money for yarn that will be used exclusively on projects for him).

I will DEFINITELY be finishing the sweater by tonight, so I should have lovely pictures for tomorrow's post. Until then, I leave you with this shot of Maxime, who's just begun eating vegetables. I think he likes it! :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Final Lap

Only four days to go until we pack up the kiddies and head off to Rhinebeck! I'll most likely be finishing Emilie's sweater by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, so that'll be no problem. Unfortunately, Phil will be finishing his kite tonight (I've got choir practice), so unless I secretly rip out his seams during the day (I would never!!! :P), I'm going to lose the bet.

Speaking of Rhinebeck (I swear, do I ever do anything else on this blog?), I'm having a bit of a dilemma concerning what (or specifically, how much) to buy. Here's the thing: even though I've been knitting off and on for over 20 years, I've only been a Knitter (with a capital "K") for about a year. All stash enhancement to this point has been with specific projects in mind, save for socks or other "one-skein" projects (like hats and scarves). Setting aside the fact that I've been buying far faster than I can knit, the fact remains that I don't really know how to buy without guidelines.

For instance, say I head on over to the Morehouse Farm booth at Rhinebeck. Now, from what I've read, Morehouse Merino is absolutely top notch. How much do I buy if I want to make a sweater for it in the future? Put in another way (cue Whitney Houston): How will I know????

So here's my question to my readers: how much yardage is usually required for sweaters? Cardigans? Shawls? Help? I run into the same problem when surfing the bargain bins in places like Elann. I spot something that seems like a genuine bargain, but then I think: How much do I buy? What will I use it for? Faced with these questions to which I have absolutely no answer for, I move on (see Kate, I don't buy everything!).

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to next weekend. This yarn fast has been killing me! I mean, seriously, I found myself gazing longingly at the Bernat and Red Heart at Zellers yesterday! Can you say Yarn-a-holic?

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Maxime was fairly cooperative yesterday, so I was able to finish the Tulip Baby Cardigan.
To recap, the cardigan is knit with Dream in Color Classy Worsted Merino (from a kit purchased at Pick Up Sticks), using 5.5 mm and 4.5 mm needles. I absolutely loved this project. The yarn is delicious (I'll be using it to make this cardigan in the not too distant future), the colours are scrumptious, and the cardigan is adorable. What else is there to say?

I only ran into one slight problem in completing this project. I ran out of the border colour (Blue Lagoon), and didn't have enough to knit a seed stitch cuff for the sleeves. But since I thought the sleeves would look a bit wonky if they didn't have at least some of the border colour, I did a quick and dirty single crochet edge instead. I think it looks pretty good, it kind of mimics the i-cord edge on the front and neckband.

This is what's left over from the kit. I think I'm going to keep the "boy" colours and try to get a hat out of them for Maxime. I'm going to use the "girl" colours to knit the practice socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters (she recommends knitting two baby-sized socks before attempting any of the projects in the book, so familiarize yourself with her new "sockitectures"). Besides, the little socks will go nicely with the cardigan!

I also managed to get 10 rows of Emilie's sweater done last night. If I can keep that rate up, I should be finished the front by Sunday or Tuesday (no knitting on Mondays due to choir practice). I should be able to finish it in time for Rhinebeck! But will I win the bet? That's another matter...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I just love knitters

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but I really love knitters. We're just so friendly! All we want is to work on our projects and fawn over the projects of others. We read the blogs of total strangers and congratulate them on their achievements, large or small. We're generally thoughtful, say please and thank you, and try to help each other out when one of us has strayed from the path.

Yesterday Kate-the-Enabler and I met up with Robyn and Jenn for an afternoon of knit and baby talk. I had a lovely time, despite Maxime being cranky and not letting me get two stitches in. We've been reading each other's blogs and emailing back and forth for a couple of weeks now, and it was great to meet them in person.

Robyn even managed to turn Kate into a consumer rather than an enabler (!), and brought over a Cookie A pattern and some yarn from her shop. I don't know if two skeins of Louet really qualifies as stash, but now that she's fondled "quality" yarn, I'm sure we'll get there in due time :)

Today I'm absolutely exhausted. Maxime woke up twice last night (he's teething. No! He has a cold. No! It's a growth spurt.), and I'm beginning to get the sniffles. But I'm a woman on a mission! I need to finish the Tulip Baby cardigan today, because the deadline for Rhinebeck is fast approaching and I want Emilie's sweater to be ready to wear when we go. And besides, Phil and I have a bet on who finishes his/her current project first (his kite versus my sweater). 20$ to the winner.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Adventure! Excitement!

Ok, maybe not so much. Today is laundry day at chez Dear (get down with your bad self!), so I'll be puttering around the house all day. On the bright side, it's supposed to be a beautiful day (28 degrees Celcius in October? Huh?), so Maxime and I should be able to enjoy a lovely walk later this afternoon.

Kate-the Enabler and I had our weekly Stitch 'N Bitch yesterday. I keep meaning to take pictures for the blog, but somehow feel that neither of us would enjoy seeing pictures of ourselves stuffing our faces with miscellaneous baked goods on the Internet :) We had a lovely time, as usual. We're also going to meet up with Robyn and Jennifer next week, and I'm super excited! Yet more mommies who knit! Woo-Hoo!!!

I've been making slow and steady progress on all three of my "current" WIPs (there may be a few in semi-permanent hiatus at the moment). My usual pattern is: sock in the morning, Tulip cardigan in the afternoon, and Emilie's sweater in the evening.

The slow and steady progress means that more pictures would be somewhat redundant at present, so I thought I'd post a few of one of my orchids (I have three at the moment). It seems I have a green thumb! This may not be the best of pictures (I'm pretty sure National Geographic won't be calling me any time soon), but DUDES! This baby is going absolutely crazy with buds.

Here's a closeup. Absolutely stunning. And they flower forever, so I almost always have an orchid in bloom in my room.

Lastly, I received these cute Soak Labels of Love (ordered from Scout's Swag) earlier this week. I've been wanting to put personalized labels in my handmade garments for some time, and when I saw them in Knitty, I just had to grab some immediately. It's not yarn, so it doesn't count!!! :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Can I get an Amen?

Emilie is finally feeling better and is back at daycare. Praise the Lord! It was really hard to see her feeling so awful for the past two days, and having two cranky kids at home by myself was making me, shall we say, a little frayed at the edges? So, assuming Maxime cooperates, this is my plan for the day:
  • Get caught up on my daily blogs: check!
  • Get caught up on MY blog: check!
  • Personal grooming ('cause the "straight-out-of-the-Serengeti" look just wasn't working for me): half check (mustache bleached, eyebrows to be tamed, I mean tweezed, this afternoon) (I know, too much information, right?)
  • Water plants: this afternoon;
  • Knit: this afternoon!!!!
Here's a look at what's on the needles:

Version 2.0 of the sock is coming along nicely. I've gone up to a 2.5 mm needle, and reduced the number of stitches per row from 80 to 70, which is giving me about the same circumference for the sock, but uses less yarn. Plus, the fabric is not as stiff. Of course, in the previous incarnation, I had shortened the cuff (from 4 pattern repeats to 3), but this time I just kept right on knitting. I just don't have the heart to rip it out again, so it may not be for a size 13 foot after all. We shall see.

I also cast on my Tulip Baby Cardigan last night. I figured I should get my butt in gear, since the baby shower is on October 8th (not that I'll be able to go, mind you, because Phil is working, but I digress). It's a fairly simple pattern, perfect for TV watching actually, and I've just got to say that Dream in Color is hands down THE softest, yummyest yarn I have ever worked with. I just love, love, LOVE it!!! It's all I can do to stop myself from buying 2 skeins of their smooshy sock yarn in every colour (I only have one skein in the stash).
Finally, a number of you have commented on how much you admire the intarsia work on Emilie's sweater, so I thought I'd make a small confession: it's not intarsia. Yup, I went with Fair Isle instead, for several reasons: first, I've got more than enough yarn, so thriftiness wasn't really a deciding factor; second, the colours are sufficiently distributed throughout the rows that I could get away with it; and third, I really didn't know any better. Was it supposed to be intarsia? :)

I cast on the front of Emilie's sweater, but haven't made much progress (colour-work = blaaaaahhh!!!). But since I want it to be ready for Rhinebeck, I've got to get cracking!

Lastly, I've been having a really, REALLY hard time keeping my word on the whole "no buying yarn" thing. I actually had a skein of Sachi's handspun (whom I've been stalking for months, since her handspun has a turnaround time of about 24 hours) in my cart this morning and was entering my credit card information when I pulled back at the last second. Now I'm drooling over Kim's beautiful sock yarn. *Sigh*

Monday, October 1, 2007

Duty calls

No blogging today (or tomorrow, most likely). Emilie is home sick, so with a 3-year old and a baby, I've got my hands full (and not with knitting). But I wanted everyone to know I'm still there!