Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 FO #3: Baby Sophisticate

Last week, I spent a bit of time patting myself on the back for changing the way I do things and work ing on projects one at a time, thereby getting them done faster. It has since been pointed out to me that the self-congratulation was a little bit premature, which is true - I did in fact knit an entire project while also working on the purple blanket. I'm not exactly sure how I forgot about it so completely but, since it has been brought to my attention, I wanted to share one of the cutest things I have ever made: a Baby Sophisticate.

The story behind this jacket is pretty simple. I had been invited to a wedding where the couple wanted cash as a gift. I don't like giving cash, so I was ecstatic the day before the wedding when I found out the bride was up the duff. Being knocked up = baby knitting.

I immediately - like literally four minutes afterward - went and bought some wool and cast on in the car on the way to the ceremony. I was going to get 10ply, as recommended in the pattern, but for some reason Cleckheaton Country 10-ply was ridiculously priced at Spotlight - $9 for a 50g ball, which I was simply not going to pay. I went for the 8ply instead (a much more reasonable $6 a ball, even though it did feel wrong to pay full price at Spotlight).

To adapt the pattern to the difference yarn thickness, I just used the larger size numbers and the smaller size measurements. It seems to work okay, although the arms look kind of long.  

Solve the problem of long arms by pretending the baby jacket is being held up by a bushranger. Works every time.

The pattern is very simple, the knitting of it is quick (so quick I don't even remember doing it, apparently) and the results incredibly gorgeous. I highly recommend this pattern (and having a gift registry at your wedding). Five out of five itty bitty baby stars.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The (Knitting) Circle of Life Edition

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I spent the first three months of this year finishing a thesis (still no result yet...). A surprising side-effect of this academic frenzy was that I was temporarily turned into a monogamous knitter, working on only one project at a time. It was strange! But I liked it, and since my submission I've kept it up. I knitted my Dreams of Granada blanket in five monogamous weeks and it felt good. So, while the blanket sits in the naughty corner while I decide what to do with it, I grabbed one of the many unfinished projects sitting around my house and worked on that project and that project alone.

The project I picked was a baby blanket made out of some very old Caressa rescued from another blanket. It has been living under my desk for six/eight/ten/? months. I would pick it up and knit a row or two every now and then and then stuff it back under there. The design is my own, very loosely based on a hap blanket but square. 

Unsurprisingly, when you work on one project and one project only, it grows really quickly! The blanket is now three rows away from being finished.

Also unsurprisingly, a leopard can't change its spots completely and, with three rows to go, I got a hankering to work on something new. I was procrastinating on Instagram yesterday and saw Pamela Wynne's gorgeous crappy mitred square blanket. It looks great and I have a bunch of tiny balls of sock yarn left over from all of the socks I've knitted and before I even realised what I had done, a new blanket was born.

I am loosely basing the blanket on Shelly Kang's sock yarn blanket, with some minor adjustments. My squares are made by casting on 45 stitches, which results in squares of about 8cm. She recommends using the first square as a gauge swatch but I used mine as a way to trial what I liked and what I didn't.

The stitches on each side of the square are slipped to make it easier to pick up, as you do with the heel flap of a sock. When I pick up stitches on sock heels, I like to pick up the rear side of the slipped stitch. This leaves a ridge, which I think looks nice (as you can see on the left side of the blanket). However, I didn't really like the look on this blanket, so I then tried picking up the front loop (the right side). Much better! I also messed around with the decreases. Shelly uses a centred decrease and knits across the entire non-reverse row. However, I noticed that in Pamela's blanket, the decrease was clear, which I liked. I tried both in this square and definitely preferred the sharp decrease.

I'm pretty happy with how the blanket looks so far. I briefly thought about unravelling the swatch square because it shows my process, but then I decided that I liked having a knitted record of how I develop a project. Plus, at 8cm a square, this blanket is going to need a lot of tiny squares and I didn't want to waste a single one! 

The sock yarn blanket is going to be a long-term rather than monogamous project but I'm really looking forward to working on it. Probably for the next six years or so...

Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 FO #2: Skew socks

There is not much I can say about the Skew socks that hasn't been said before.

With this pattern, normal striped yarns do crazy wild things.

Knitting the heel involves a huge leap of faith - even now, after having knitted two of these heels, I'm not quite sure how the turn occurred:

And I'm very good at maths!

After the heel turn, a bunch of short rows are done so that the knitting is straightforwardly in the round again. It was very clever! 

I love my new, crazy socks (yarn: the appropriately titled Opal Crazy in colourway 1901).

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Not Another Baby Blanket Edition

A few months ago, one of my favourite friends announced she was expecting her third child. I was a bit surprised - I don't know about you, but three seems like quite a lot of children to produce in five years! However, it is her reproductive system, so I hugged her and immediately started planning the blanket. 

Again, I don't know if this is just me but sometimes the planning is harder (and more fun!) than the actually making of the blanket. The last two babies got lacey blankets (the Serenity-ish blanket and the Happy Thoughts blanket), so I thought this time I'd go for either colour or cables. After many happy hours of browsing, I settled on the Dreams of Granada blanket by Triona Murphy in the recommended yarn, KnitPicks Brava, in Tidepool.

I cast on in the final frenzied two weeks of my thesis (still no results yet...), so can therefore remember nothing of knitting this at all except a vague sense of panic.

The succulent is a clipping from a plant of my neighbour's. 
It took me about five days to finish the first ball and five minutes to freak about how little knitting had been done with 20% of the yarn!

One week and another ball later, I had something that looked a little bit more blanketish. Only a little bit though!

When I cracked open the third ball, I could tell immediately it was going to be an actual blanket because Lucy automatically assumed it was for her and tried to go to sleep on it.

At the end of the fourth ball I had an almost completed blanket.

Then two short days it was done.

As I type this, the blanket is having a good long soak. It is nice, except that the cabled section in the middle is elevated. It looks like a platform! If blocking doesn't fix it, I think I'll just rip out the centre and do it in stocking stitch. Also, to help with future planning I marked each change of ball, so the next time I flip out the ratio of yarn in a square blanket, I'll have a reference. Looking ahead, one baby blanket at a time... 

Friday, February 5, 2016

2016 FO #1: Embossed Leaves Socks

How is it almost the second week of February? Where has the year even gone! I certainly haven't used any of it blogging - it's been six weeks since I posted here last. It's strange - usually I start they year enthusiastic and full of plans to blog everything and get better at photography and be a more active member in the online community. This year I feel a bit meh about the whole thing - like is there any point in me doing this? More and more bloggers are moving to other platforms like Twitter and Instagram and it's not even like anyone would notice if I never blogged again. That said, I do like blogging - it's a great way to write without the pressure of academic publication and it's nice to have a record of what I have made. Clearly, I decided to keep going, inspired by the resurgence of the Mason-Dixon women. After not blogging for a long time, they're back at it with a vengeance and it's been great. So, here I am, blogging away, talking about socks. It's like I never stopped/

In knitting news, this year has been pretty good so far. After Christmas, Sam and I went on a road trip to South Australia. I'd never been there before - Victorians famously like to hang shit on South Australia all the time for basically being not as awesome as Melbourne is (in fairness, Melbourne is pretty awesome. We're pretty hard to beat.). I think we should stop - South Australia is fantastic! There are like a hundred wine regions, all of which have great wine that is often cheaper than Victorian wine and they don't charge for tastings. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous! 

The Adelaide CBD is not great but the Art Gallery was fantastic. Plus, there are places within half an hour of the city, like Hahndorf, that are fabulous centres of art and artisans.

I could happily have spent a fortnight in the South Australian countryside, visiting tiny towns and wine regions. I would be very fat when I returned home, but it would be worth it.

The best thing about road trips is the time they leave for knitting. On the way out of Melbourne, I cast on for a pair of socks using the Frog Tree Pediboo that I bought at the Australasian Quilt Convention last year (pattern is Embossed Leaves from my favourite sock book, Favorite Socks).

I got to the calf on both pairs of socks before I got home then finished them off over the next few weeks.

The are so soft and squooshy!

To get the most out of this yarn, I knit them toe up with a short-row heel. That means the leaves are pointing up instead of pointing down, as per the pattern.

I actually think that looks better, with the leaves springing clearly from the heel.

All in all, a great pattern that was intuitive and speedy to knit combined with a lovely soft sock yarn (80% merino, 20% bamboo) results in a very nice pair of socks.

I am definitely not giving this pair away!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year and lots and lots of pairs of socks

Another year is drawing to a close. I do not know where this year has even gone - it has been a blur of work, work, sleeping and then more work. I have been going at life pretty relentlessly since January which (honestly) has sucked a little bit sometimes. It all seems worth it at the end of the year, though, when you see how much you have done.

One thing I was very pleased with this year was my Christmas knitting. My dad got some socks made out of Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, that were completed way back in November (this is his photo since I gifted them without taking a photo because I am a terrible blogger).

Sam and his brother got matching-ish socks made out of Regia Pairfect. With this yarn, the ball is divided into two identical halves, separated by a section of yellow yarn. Weirdly, even though I made these two pairs of socks exactly the same way, on one pair I had to use the yellow dividing yarn to finish the toe and on the other I did not. Regia's inconsistency with yardage strikes again.

The final pair I finished on the 23rd of December. I made Sam's parents his-and-her spiralled socks using two colourways of Patonyle. I (modestly) think they look great.

So, I got lots of pairs of socks done in time for Christmas - four of them for adult males - without stressing out but with a lot of hard graft. That is seriously the most boring story ever! However, it does fairly accurately capture my 2015. Here's hoping that 2016 is a bit more fun but with just as many socks. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday: A (Boring) Day in the Life Edition, With Bonus Pancakes

In my job, I occasionally get bookings that have a really quick turnaround time - 24 hours rather than five days. When I get these bookings, because of the time constraints I clear my entire day to make sure the booking is done on time. Today was one of those days. I let all of my other clients know I was unavailable for 24 hours and this morning I was at my desk at 8am, bright eyed, bushy tailed and with coffee in hand. However, my client did not keep their part of the deal. When I opened my email, there was no file waiting to be worked on. Instead of jumping out of the gates to get the file delivered on time, I was sitting there, twiddling my thumbs with not a lot to do.

I read the paper, drank my coffee and periodically checked my email. No file had arrived at 8.30am, so following the no-watched-pot rule, I decided to step away from my computer and make some pancakes.

They were made with oats, cinnamon, vanilla and blueberries and were topped with a lot of butter (for the calcium, of course). They were very nice. I really love pancakes.

I got back to my computer and there was still no email. I then made another cup of coffee and took my knitting outside. 

I established clearly once again that I am not a good photographer, no mater how many angles I take photos of my scarf from or solar lanterns I use as props (one and one, respectively).

I am making a Honey Cowl using the leftover yarn from my wine bottle sweaters.

I love the way the fabric looks different on both sides.

Lucy kept me company as I read Sense and Sensibility, checking my email at the end of each chapter.

The file eventually arrived after lunch and so here I am at 8pm on a Wednesday blogging and working instead of in bed watching repeats of Friends on Stan the way that god* intended.

I hope your workdays were much more interesting than mine!

The end.

* Lucy, who only ever wants me to be in bed and despairs that humans are constantly getting up and leaving the house instead of lying there patiently waiting to be cuddled.