I could have sworn I posted a blog post after the January 9 one. That feels like it was so long ago (well, duh, it was - 3 weeks ago). I was going to blog last weekend but then we ended up in some domestic troubled waters and I just didn't have the mojo. So maybe it really has been 3 weeks. Oops. Oh well, prepare for a long post.
I am miserably sick today. I haven't had a cold or the flu in several years, but I have some sort of chest thing going on. It hurts to breathe, I can't catch my breath, there's nasty crap down there*, and I am constantly in danger of coughing up a lung. And every time I cough it sends shooting pains to my head. There's no way I could have taught two fitness classes today - that's constant cueing and I don't think I could get the words out. So fortunately someone agreed to sub for me this morning (after I had gone out and shovelled the driveway again where the city plow sees fit to throw the ice boulders), so I crawled back to bed.
*My chest, not my nether regions. In case you were confused or wondering.
I am currently dividing my crafting time (when I have it, which is less often than I would like) between knitting and attempting to crochet. I had originally decided I wanted to do a blanket with a bunch of hexagons in Socks that Rock Mediumweight. I've managed three so far.
I like the fact that there appears to be no pooling with crochet. That's a significant victory. But I'm not sure how much I love this. I could, of course, crochet a blanket of sorts for the cats or even the dogs. So all is not lost.
I am really enjoying the Tulip Etimo crochet hooks. They are very smooth to work with. I haven't noticed any hand fatigue, but I'm not sure that I crochet for long enough to get fatigue.
I bought a Clover Amour hook in 3.25 mm and an Addi Swing in 4.0 mm from one of our LYS stores. I've tried the Addi a couple of times. I'm not sure how much more ergonomically superior it is to the Tulips. On my wish list I am going to get a couple of Furls crochet hooks to try. I think they must be the crochet equivalent of Signature Needle Arts.
[And speaking of SNA, did anyone else get the email about expressing interest in a set of size 0 - 2.0 mm DPNs? The photo they showed looked like they had actual stiletto points. Back in the old days, their old steel size 0s weren't that pointy - more like Chiaogoos. But I digress.]
Since I'm talking about crochet, I may as well continue.
Christine and I are going to do a CAL. I think we're going to do the Attic 24 Sunny Log Cabin Blanket. Or maybe a ripple blanket. I had gone through my stash and pulled out 18 skeins of Bugga which I thought would work. The colours are a little off, but when you're shopping from stash, that's just how it goes. Then Christine texted me to say she had ordered one of the Attic 24 yarn kits, and it was something ridiculous like $36 USD including shipping. The balls are about 325 yards of DK weight. It's acrylic, but apparently it's nice acrylic.
Say WHAT? $36 for all that yarn? I immediately hopped on to the Attic 24 site and went to the Wool Warehouse link. I got the Sunny Log Cabin kit and the Cozy kit. I like warm colours. But the $36 USD is $52 CAD. There's a surprise. That, my friends, is the state of the Canadian dollar.
So I'm waiting for that. No doubt it will require customs and "handling." (Not sure what "handling" they have to do over and above their normal jobs, but whatever.)
I can't bear the thought of knitting mitred squares for a Cozy Memories blanket. But I thought it might be interesting to crochet leftover sock yarn into more of those little hexagons. So that's what I did when I finished my "No Need to Apologize" socks (see further below for the actual knitting/sock content).
This idea may also quickly fall by the wayside unless I can keep a hook and some yarn balls beside my bed.
I've been watching YouTube videos for crochet. There aren't a ton of left-handed crochet videos out there, but there are some. I'm now at the point where I'm okay with the right-handed videos, but I started out needing the leftie versions. Bella Coco and B Hooked have some good ones.
I'm pretty proud that I can keep straight the difference in the UK/US terminology.
But I've been struggling with how to change colours. Some of the YouTubers take a pretty primitive approach (pull the new colour through a space and tie a knot in it).
So I thought I would look into Craftsy classes. I have the Donna Druchunas toe-up sock class already, but I hadn't accessed it in probably 3 years.
I purchased two classes with Edie Eckman - one on joining crochet motifs and one on Improving Techniques or something. If you are a new-ish crocheter or just want some great ideas about various ways to start (standing double crochet, anyone?), then you MUST get these classes. They are on sale right now for 50% off or something like that I highly, highly, highly recommend them.
I also decided to get the Basics and Beyond class with Kim Werker - it's another winner. She has a very soothing voice and a great style. She's all about giving permission to mess up. I am going to go back through these classes time and again, and I will actually do the little projects which they recommend (various types of granny squares and whatnot).
As good as some of the YouTube videos are, they aren't quite as good as the Craftsy classes. So two thumbs up for Craftsy.
[I also got the knitting faster Continental style, but I fell asleep after about 4 minutes. I blame that on my sickness. But I don't like the way she tensions the yarn or holds the needles, so that one may be a bit of a bust.]
Christine has some beautiful Willow squares from some of her Bugga minis. I decided to give it a whirl out of some of the leftover Miss Babs Yowza in the grey I used for the Lad's cowl. This isn't really blocked; it's just the raw square held in place with T-pins so I could take a (poorly lit late night) photo. I really like the pattern. I can see making a blanket out of these.
I have been keeping all my abortive efforts in crochet. I put them in my reusable Miss Babs tote bag. I call it my Bag of Misfits.
(Those are just the misfits without the bag).
Getting back to the Sunny Log Cabin blanket ... I am not 100% crazy about the sunny granny square in the middle. I tried the pattern in some of the STR MW (one of the misfits above), but wasn't loving it.
Then I saw a starburst granny square which I like better. I decided to try some in some Cascade 220. I have a tub of non-fingering weight yarns where I store my 3 or 4 skeins of laceweight, my DK and my worsted weight. I have about 10 full or partial skeins of Cascade 220 (non-superwash) and some of the New Brunswick stuff (Briggs & Little?) in colours for a second Dr Who scarf (if and when the madness descends upon me again). There is at least one TFA Fiddlehead mittens kit in there as well - maybe in the greens?
So I dug out some Cascade and watched a YouTube video on how to make a sunburst granny square. The person doing the video didn't know the name for the cluster stitch, but she described it anyway. I started with yellow in the middle, then the mac 'n cheese colour, then the orange (which is actually probably the oldest yarn in stash - it's some brand of non-superwash wool with alpaca in it which I bought to make felted slippers when I started knitting in 2009) and then bordered in a natural. The top two and the one on the right in the middle row are the first ones I did. I experimented with standing crochet to start new rows vs. doing the chain 3 (or 4) method.
I kind of like the pattern. The thing in the centre does look sort of sunburst-y. And I like the density of the puff stitches (second row) and the cluster stitches (third row). The pattern has 3 chain stitches in the corners, and I'm not sure if that makes it too big or not. Perhaps it's just my crappy tension.
Then I decided to reverse the colour sequence and start with the orange. The one on the bottom row on the left is the first one. You'll notice it's not finished. That's because I discovered that I had somehow only managed 15 stitches instead of the requisite 16. So into the Bag of Misfits it will go. The one next to it is better, but look how crappy and uneven my stitches are in the corners. Ugh. I did only chain 2 in the corners for that one, and I am wondering if that makes the corner too tight. Hmm...
I also decided to try a random circle in a square granny square to see how I like that (middle row, left side). Meh. I think it's why I am not generally fond of granny squares - too many open spaces. It just screams vintage 70s crochet.
None of these are blocked. The completed ones have the ends woven in (man, that's a lot of work!), but I haven't blocked any yet.
Perhaps I'll make a bunch more of these and join them using the various techniques in the Edie Eckman video. I'll turn it into a pet blanket or something. But of course with Cascade 220, that's going to make washing a pain in the arse, because it will have to be cold water on the hand wash cycle, and either it will end up slightly felting or it won't come clean.
Speaking of which, I am going to rant a little.
I wash all my hand-knit socks in the washing machine on the Hand Wash cycle - it's low agitation, low spin, cold water and high soil. My socks come out fine. Last time I did a big wash (because the idea of hand washing my socks makes my eyes roll back into my head), I also put in my Toucan cowl made from my Twisted Fiber Arts Muse gradient (50% SW merino, 50% silk).
The darned thing has started to felt! I had to do a lot of aggressive pulling and blocking when I took it out of the washer. I just don't understand why it would do that. As I say, none of my socks does that. And I have several pairs of merino/silk socks (which actually have stood up and wear better than MN socks), so it's not the silk content in the blend. It's still wearable, but it's not as drapey as it was. You can see the stitches kind of fuzzing up here. Boo.
Much as I love the yarn, it is way too expensive to be used as felting yarn. (But on the flip side, I am enjoying the Volcano socks made out of the striping Arial, so I guess it's a little give and take.)
Okay, now on to the real (ie. knitting) part of the blog. And then there will be lots of sky p0rn for those of you who don't follow me on Instagram.
My phone stopped taking pictures several weeks ago. Neither the camera nor the flash was working. I was quite perturbed, since it's the iPhone 6 which Princess got me for Christmas last year. I tried everything recommended on the internet and eventually took it to the Apple Store. Interestingly, the guy at the Genius Bar sitting next to me had the identical problem. Anyway, they ended up replacing it. Buddy told me the phone was misaligned and slightly warped. I keep it in a case, so I have no idea how that happened except that maybe it's from putting it in my pocket when I walk the dogs. The new phone works fine, but I had no camera for a week. And the camera is one of the main reasons I have an iPhone. I don't care about the apps. I use it for texting, email, occasional internet stuff, physical activity tracking, obsessive weather checking, and photos.
But the new one is working fine. Yay. But I hate the process of having to reinstall everything. Inevitably something messes up. For whatever reason, I cannot get the new phone to recognize my bluetooth headphones, which is mighty inconvenient. Nothing has worked. And I of course had to re-sync my watch, and now for some reason it is displaying temperature in Farenheit and not Celcius. I can't find the setting to change it, but it doesn't bother me. I can get a sense of what my American friends are talking about.
Right now it's 31 degrees American and -1 degree Celcius.
Back to the knitting.
The last of my Christmas presents from Princess arrived. It's a skein of Pandora's Sox from Artistic Yarns by Abi [formerly TurtlePurlGurl on etsy] on a 70/20/5 (SW Merino, nylon, gold stellina) blend. It came with a big brass key on a ring, which is kind of nifty.
I've started the first sock. I did 19 rows for the ribbing and am 84 rows in to the leg. I have to decide what kind of heel to do - I'm torn between trying a FLKH or whether to go with the old standby heel flap and gusset.
I've got several skeins of sparkly yarn, but have never actually knit with any. I think this is my first foray into sparkle. I'm not sure how it's going to hold up, to be honest. It has kind of a halo effect.
Anyway, the colours are good, and I am looking forward to the finished product.
I finished my No Need to Apologize socks by White Birch Fiber Arts. I love them. (And so, apparently, do my Instagram followers LOL).
Out of the blue we got a parcel from the family in Calgary. Mine came wrapped in a pashmina scarf. I am 100% positive this is my sweet SIL's doing. She has good taste in scarves. I now have three of them and wear them at home and at work.
This latest one is green and gold and it is a combination of wool and silk. I love the paisley pattern.
So my gift was wrapped like a candy. Inside was this.
They were squishy. Slippers? That's what I thought.
Two skeins of Malabrigo Rios in the Solis and Zamora colourways. Squeee!!!!!!! Talk about a surprise. Other than my knitting friends, I don't think anyone has ever spontaneously bought me yarn before. This is the way to a knitter's heart, to be sure. And I love the fact that it's worsted - I don't have much worsted weight.
[Insert digression here: the yarns came from Gina Brown's in Calgary. That's where I used to get my needlepoint supplies / tapestry wool when we lived in Calgary. I wonder whether they actually provide those little nifty black yarn bags, or whether that is something my SIL came up with.]
I love Malabrigo yarns (other than the sock yarn, which is lovely to work with, but which pills).
These are so beautiful and so divine. (Arty shot below).
I started pattern browsing on Ravelry right away and decided I liked the look of the Wurm hat.
It's a free pattern on Rav so I'm not giving anything away here. It calls for worsted weight yarn, and the medium size is 100 stitches. The brim is knit with 3.50 mm needles, and the floppy hat part is knit with 4.0 mm needles.
I originally cast on with 110 stitches - the large size. But I don't have a large head. As I've said before, I'm built like a dinosaur - great big legs and middle, itty bitty arms (which I blame my mother for since she smoked and drank her way through pregnancy) and a small head. Plus I know that superwash yarns have a tendency to relax. All my other hats have loosened up. So I ripped it out and started again with 100 stitches.
It's a folded brim, so you knit 12 rows, purl a row, then knit another 13 rows and then join them. I'm pretty good at that, but I don't like to do it three times in a row. There I was knitting away, and I realized I had done the brim (for the second time) in 3.75 mm rather than 3.50 mm. This was after I had switched to the 4.0 mm needles for the floppy hat part.
So, I frogged it. It's why I chose the name Amphibiaknitter. I frog much of what I knit.
I started again on attempt number 3. The pattern is purl 5 rows, knit 4 rows and it calls for 10 repeats of the purl and then there are 5 decrease rows. I knew I was going to be short of yarn. I was starting to sweat as the ball got smaller and smaller.
I ended up with 8 pattern repeats and then 2 more purl rows before doing the decreases. I have a very tiny amount of yarn left. You can see it next to Leonard in the first couple of photos.
I haven't blocked it because, well, I never do. That's what heads are for. I wanted something snug for shovelling.
Night lighting in the dining room (aka clutter room) is poor. What can I do? We haven't seen the sun in a long time.
Neat pattern, and it's free. It's pretty quick if you manage to use the right needle sizes and cast on the correct amount of stitches.
When I put this on my Rav project page, I am going to indicate that it's not enough yarn for a full pattern as written. Just as a public service announcement.
For the second skein, I think I am going to make the Thermis cowl and I am going to use two of the buttons which my SIL made me. That should be a perfect match.
The other thing I have managed to complete this month is a pair of Putsinite socks in the Wave base by String Theory Colorworks. I might see if I can do 12 pairs of STC socks this year. And maybe 6 WBFA socks.
Putsinite is one of the Isomer colourways - they're fraternal twins. They're like the Barking Dogs Opposites Attract or the Fibernymph Inversibles.
I have a hankering to cast something else on. No idea what yet.
Okay, that's it for the fiber content. Feel free to switch to something else now. The rest of this is all sky p0rn.
My office building is on the waterfront toward the mouth of the Halifax harbour, and it looks out onto George's island. (McNabs island is larger and farther out). Because the building faces roughly east-ish, we get some spectacular sunrise views. I can't actually see much from my cubicle - I'm not next to the window. But if I'm at work around 7 am, I can often see some amazing sunrises.
Here's a sampling of what we've had recently. These are all iPhone photos taken from inside my building. In spite of the amateur set up, some of the shots are pretty cool.
Same sunrise a few minutes apart on January 22. The first photo was at 7:26, the last one was taken at 7:55.
Then the sunrise this past Monday (January 25) was amazing.
So you can see why I was perturbed to be without a working camera on my phone for a week.
Apart from that, we had another nor'easter yesterday. So I spent 80 minutes last night shovelling and some more time re-shovelling this morning. I see the bobcat has been by again and I will have to re-shovel yet AGAIN. And I actually went to the trouble of shovelling the sidewalk last night so that the bobcat wouldn't have anything there to push to the sides of the sidewalk on my driveway. But today's genius instead of doing each house separately just started at one end of the block and kept plowing forward. So now we have the accumulation of several houses' worth of snow, even though I had ours down to the sidewalk.
I just cannot catch a break.
I have had to do all the shovelling this winter. For the first couple of storms the Lad was still recovering from surgery, so I had to do it all. Then for the next three storms he conveniently managed to be out for the evening or the night.
So I am not doing dishes. I've done the outdoor housework. He can do the indoor stuff.
Until next time, folks. See you next month. There will probably be less knitting / fiber content. But if I leave it for three weeks, then it manages to stretch out a bit further.