Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Christmas Knitting

The startitis continues, and I've added not one, but two projects since last week :)

The first new project is one I've been wanting to knit for ages, but where I didn't feel like I could justify the price of the pattern. Mum to the rescue :) She was just as taken with it as I was, and gave it to me for Christmas! Of course I had to cast on for the Butterfly/Papillon right away, and after a single false start (my first choice of yarn turned out to be all wrong for the pattern) I'm happily knitting away on it :)
I'm already thinking up a ton of other colour combinations I'd like to try out too, so I'm thinking this may be the first of many ;-)

The second new project is just a pair of plain vanilla socks. I realized all projects on my needles were ones where I needed the pattern on a regular basis, and I needed something simple to bring with me places. Besides, I'd just gotten hold of this awesome sparkly yarn and wanted to see it knit up :)

I've also been knitting (a tiny bit) on existing projects though. I finished yet another pair of tube socks for Nora....
and yesterday I finished the first of the socks for the test-knit I'm doing on Ravelry :)
Now I just need to get the second one cast on right away - my second sock syndrome tends to be worse for socks with colourwork, so it's better to just dive straight into it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Startitis!

My knitting mojo is slowly returning, and with it comes a serious case of cast-itis, so I've cast on no fewer than 3 new projects since last Wednesday! Perfect timing too, as my Christmas vacation starts tomorrow AND the Clean Slate Challenge starts on January 1st!

So! In no particular order... :)

I started a new testknit yesterday. A pair of stranded-knitting socks was put up for testing, and I just couldn't resist :) They'll be really gorgeous once they're done :) Unfortunately, I think I may have knit them a bit too tight, as I'm having slight difficulties getting them over my ankle :-P I'll pay more attention to knit loose from here on, and then keep my fingers crossed that it's not too bad. Once I'm past the heel I'll reassess - I'm too lazy to rip back, but I have plenty of family members with smaller feet than mine ;)

Change of Heart is a beautiful cowl that combines an icord edging, lace, garter stitch and cables. I'm knitting it up in a lovely soft merino-alpaca-cashmere yarn in a dark green colour. The solid colour will show off the patterning beautifully I think. I'm starting to like wearing cowls more - both for warmth and as accessories - so I'm looking forward to seeing how this will be once finished :)

As mentioned last week, the acrylic yarn I swatched will turn into the Professor McGonagall blanket. I started this on Sunday and have already gotten quite far along the cat chart. It's my first real attempt at intarsia, and I'm finding it wonderfully potatochippy :)
(Getting this photo was ridiculous! Because it's just plain stockinette at this point (the edge is picked up and knit at the end) it curls up on itself completely, so I actually had to use pins just to be able to get a photo!)

And finally, the project that (I think) got me out of my knitting slump in the first place - the Symmetry in Motion tee. Confession - I only swatched very superficially for this :-P But I needed something substantial on my needles, and had already done 3 swatches in this yarn previously, so I figured it was relatively safe. And if it doesn't fit me I'm sure I can find somebody else whom it will fit. The yarn (Grignasco Extrafine, 100% Merino) is incredibly soft and a pleasure to work with, but it'll take forever to knit up as even with two strands held double it only just corresponds to a light fingering. In another 40 rows I get to join it in the round though, so that'll speed the progress up significantly, once I won't have to purl as much any longer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Knitting Issues

Hmmm... is it possible to be allergic to specific types of acrylic yarn? I haven't had any issues earlier, but yesterday I sat to knit a swatch in the most amazingly soft acrylic yarn, and I'd barely cast on before I started feeling pins and needles in my hand. I've never heard of such a thing before, and it might just have been a coincidence, but I'm thinking that my orignal idea of using it for a cardigan for myself should probably just die. Instead I've decided to finally give in to my urges and purchase the pattern for Professor McGonagall's baby blanket :) I've wanted to knit this for ages, and am sure I'll eventually find a suitable recipient for it, who'll enjoy the softness of the yarn - even if it is acrylic.

Of course, if my hands keep itching while knitting it, it probably wasn't just my imagination, and I won't torture myself by forcing myself to finish it. But I have 10 skeins of the yarn and while it was cheap, I'd rather not it went to waste, so I'm going to give it a second chance.

I finished the Orchid Cowl this weekend, and love the way it turned out :)
It's slightly smaller than I would have preferred, so it'll probably be used more for looks than for warmth. But the lace and the beads fit perfectly together, and I'm really happy with my first attempt at bead knitting :) Definitely won't be the last time I do that!

Other than that I've mostly been knitting on my Cozy Memories Blanket. I've been wanting to get on with a new sweater project (see above re. swatch), but haven't really been able to figure out which one I want to knit. I've boiled it down to just a few contenders, but need to do some swatching before I fully make up my mind - and in the meanwhile the CMB makes for lovely mindless TV-knitting :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Baa-ble Hat

I only have a bit of knitting this week - actually, I've only worked on two different things!

Like so many other knitters, I succumbed to the Baa-ble Hat madness. I started this Wednesday evening, and finished just two days later :) I knit this out of fingering weight yarn held double. It was a bit hard on my hands at times (not to mentioned it tangled like nobody's business during the colourwork section), but it was a fun and satisfying knit.
I gave it to my cousin as an early Christmas present on Saturday. It's a tad big on her, but I still think she looks cute :)

Mum loaned me some small crochet hooks (used to be my grandmother's) Saturday so I could get on with the Orchid Cowl. Oh my goodness! It is SO much easier to add beads with a crochet hook! A lot less fiddly and thus heaps faster. And kinda fun too :) It's oddly satisfying to fit the beads on. Definitely not the last time I'll do beaded knitting.
My gauge is waaay off, so I'm adding a full extra repeat in order to get a cowl as big as I'd like. It's quite a bit thinner than expected too, but oh well - not something I'm going to do anything about at this point.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WIP Wednesday - A Little of Everything

My knitting mojo is still low, so I've been doing a little knitting on a lot of things this past week rather than starting any new larger projects.

I've been wanting to try bead knitting for ages, and finally found some suitable beads while in New Zealand. Finding the right pattern proved to be more difficult than expected, however, so in the end I decided to go with a bead-less pattern and just add beads myself! It's meant some trial and error, but I'm past the first repeat and think I like where this is going.
The pattern is the Orchid Cowl with a few adaptions. I don't plan on making it symmetrical so the beads will go whereever I feel like it. I didn't have any crochet hooks small enough, so am using the dental floss method until I can hopefully borrow one off my Mum this weekend :) It's easy enough, just takes a bit extra time.

I first found this pattern a bit over a year ago, and even bought the yarn back then too, but just never got around to knitting it. Finally I decided just to go for it. It was really fiddly at first, but turned out to be a fun and relatively quick knit. I started out magic looping, then switched to DPNs when it became too tight and finally to two circs when the DPNs got too frustrating! Not a fan of DPNs I'm afraid. One smaller circular would have been easier, but I don't have any 2.5mm / 40cm circs. Will have to remedy that if I plan on making any more of these.

The crocheted edging was fun, and put me in the mood to do some more crochet, so I searched Ravelry for some small, Christmasy projects, and ended up with these two flowers.
Confession: The smallest one was supposed to be a star, but once I got to the final step I realized I couldn't understand the instructions! So I just gave up and left it as-is ;) Guess I still have quite a long way to go when it comes to following crochet patterns. Didn't help that it was in Danish, and I'm not completely sure of the exact translations. US/UK crochet terms are confusing enough, without adding in another language! Even if it is my mother tongue.

Finally I've added an extra 10-15 squares to my Cozy Memories blanket. It's a nice, mindless project for lazy evenings at home on the couch. I'll go ages without touching it, and then suddenly add a bunch of squares at once. I can't wait to see how it turns out... even if it probably won't be for another couple of years yet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday - 4 finished objects!

Still mostly socks on my needles - I'm trying to work my way through the started pairs so I can free up the needles for something else. I also feel like my mojo has taken a bit of a hit, so I'm hoping that the sense of accomplishment in finishing stuff will help with that too.

So with that said, here are my finished objects :)
Gummy Bear Pullover. All done, just needs to be blocked :) Still have no clue who it's for, but I'm sure I'll find a suitable recipient eventually. It was a fun and quick knit and I LOVED the yarn (Knit Picks Felici) - so incredibly soft.

Tube socks for my niece. I needed something quick and easy over the weekend, and these fit the bill perfectly

Swirl.E socks for Liz. I still need to block these and weave in the ends, but the knitting is all done :)

Hundred Acre Woods. Also just need blocking and weaving in ends. I'll have to have a blocking party over the weekend ;) I was glad to get these off the needles. The lace pattern was easy enough to learn off by heart, but a bit too involved to be completely mindless knitting.

Still on the needles...
My flight socks. Finished the first one, haven't yet cast on the second one. I don't know what I was thinking when I made up this pattern - there's far too much purling! I do like the finished result though, so I guess it's worth it ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Sock Knitting

Surprisingly enough, I didn't do nearly as much knitting while in New Zealand as I had expected to. Most of the time I ended up sitting and reading instead, so I only have one single finished object - although quite a bunch of WIPs.

I'd brought a bunch of socks along for the trip and nothing else. I figured they were small, portable, easily memorizable patterns... the perfect travel knitting. Indeed it was, even if I did end up knitting on 5 different pairs instead of finishing more than one! ;)

Finished object first - a pair of tube socks for my kiwi niece. She's only 17 months and absolutely loves socks! Will wear them even in the height of summer. So when she saw these (very colourful ones) she immediately took off her shoes and reached out for them. Awfully satisfying for a knitty aunt ;)
The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in the Gummy Bear colourway. Amazingly soft and yummy :)

As for the socks in progress...
The second "Hundred Acre Wood" sock.
Reason for stopping: Hadn't brought the first sock along, and realized I'd obviously made a mistake in my notes, as the number of repeats on the leg was clearly wrong. No way to finish until I came home and could compare to the first one.

Another pair of tube socks - this one for my Danish niece :)
Reason for stopping: Ran out of yarn, and couldn't get to the second skein until the Hundred Acre Wood sock was done.

Swirl E. socks knit out of Trekking XXL for Liz.
Reason for stopping: Had reached the heel of the second sock, and as I'm actually doing the pattern as written for once, rather than substituting the FLK-heel, I couldn't finish it on the plane, as I'd misplaced the pattern.

So instead I cast on...
My so-called Flight Socks! The pattern is inspired by Cookie A's Xeroscope, but is my own invention.
Reason for stopping: I arrived back in Denmark, and had to put it down.

But have I finished any of these socks since getting back? Of course not! After having knit nothing but socks for 2 weeks, I was desperate for something else, and as I'd fallen in love with the softness of the Knit Picks Felici (and thought the colourway perhaps a bit too twee for socks for myself) I decided to cast on for a baby cardigan instead. Not that I know anybody with or about to have a newborn girl, but it's bound to come eventually, and I'll be prepared. The pattern is inspired by "Jeudi" but with a ton of modifications.
- Changed to a jumper knit in the round, rather than a cardigan knit flat.
- Added length to body and sleeves.
- Substituted another cable.

I'm loving this knit and have basically knit nothing else since I arrived home. I would have finished by today too, if I hadn't battled jetlag and had to have daily naps.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WIP: When Knitting Attacks

On and Off the Needles
I've finally finished my Stitch Surfers. I'd accidentally misplaced t at the bottom of a multi-project project bag (never again...) and had thus gotten behind. Fortunately I was missing less than I thought, so I still managed to finish it before the end of October.

My first Hundred Acre Wood sock is also close to being done. As I am already a tad uncertain about the sizing, I decided to go ahead and knit a well-known FLK-heel instead of trying to heel flap and gusset described in the pattern. I hope to finish this by tomorrow, but as we're having company over tonight, that might not happen. We'll see.

Finally, I've been working on my second pair of "One Step Ahead" boots. This pair will also be a gift for a friend of mine, and as she's crafty herself, she offered to seam them up herself, so I just had to do the knitting. Easy-peasy :) Again, I hope to get this off in the mail tomorrow, provided I have a suitable envelope around. Otherwise it'll have to wait until next month.

When Knitting Attacks
Unfortunately I'm having serious doubts about my $5 in Paris. I loved the first one I knit so much, but this second one just didn't quite come out right.

First of all, I'm not sure about the colours on me. I might be too pale to pull off grey and white together.

Secondly, and more important, the sweater stretched waaaaay out when washed and now feels like it fits about as well as a sack of potatoes. It is slightly possible that I'm projecting here, and that it's not quite that bad, but it's definitely too big for me, and has to be pulled back into place constantly. I accidentally knit the body of the sweater at too large a gauge. It didn't matter too much before washing, but washing it caused the drape to change significantly, and now... I just don't know. I've tried running it through the dryer to see if that got it to snap back into place, but without success.
I haven't made any decisions yet, but am seriously considering frogging this and reknitting it in a smaller size... or just use the yarn for something completely different, since I already have enough yarn in other (and better) colours for another two versions of this one ;)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Readathon Wrapup :)

Books read:
"Auggie & Me" - R.J. Palacio
"Destiny's Song" - Audrey Faye
"Veronica Decides to Die" - Paulo Coelho
"Cancer Vixen"
most of "Stray" - Andrea K. Höst

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Blanketpalooza

On the Needles
I decided to dedicate the weekend to my Cozy Memories Blanket and really put a dent into this. The result being that I got an extra 18 squares knit, and it now almost covers the seat of our couch!

I still have a loooooong way to go, so don't expect to finish it neither this year nor the next, but I'm loving the way it's turning out, and it's a nice and relaxing knit, so I don't mind. It'll get done when it gets done - no rush.

I haven't really touched the Stitch Surfer socks at all this past week, but instead decided to work on my "Hundred Mile Woods" socks... with the result that I ended up knitting way past the point where I had to start the heel. *Sigh* I was planning on doing the pattern heel for once, instead of (as usual) substituting the fish-lips-kiss heel. Guess habit took over, and since I absolutely cannot be bothered ripping back, I'll just stick with the FLK-heel once again ;)

Off the Needles
After not having touched it for MONTHS, I finally finished my Nostalgia Shawl! I'm SO pleased with how it turned out. It's huge, and looks totally awesome :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WIP Wednesday - LOVE this!

My Spring Showers cardigan finally finished blocking last week, and it is without a doubt my favourite thing that I've knit all year! The colour is great on me (if I may say so myself ;) ) and the fit close to perfect! The sleeves could have been a tad longer, but considering I only had 5 grams left as it was, I'm glad I didn't try to stretch it further.
And even with 4/5 length sleeves - I absolutely love it!
Modifications: I added ~10sts to the length, and took most of that length out of the wedges, as I didn't want it to flare quite as much. I knit seed stitch instead of garter stitch for the lower hem, and made long sleeves instead of short. If I were to make it again, I might leave out the wedges entirely - I don't think it necessarily needs them.

I also managed to finish the Olivia Cardigan for my niece this past week - or rather, it's currently blocking, so I'm waiting for it to be dry enough for me to sew on the buttons. Not a fan of sewing on buttons, but there are only three of them here, and they're so cute, so I think I'll cope ;)
This really turned out amazingly cute! I couldn't be happier with it! My sister and I are talking about whether it'll be best as a cardigan or a dress (would be easy to sew up the bottom half of the cardi), but it's hard to tell until my niece has tried it on. May turn out that she's much too long-legged for it, by the time it fits around the chest!

And as always, when I bind off one thing, I have to cast on something new. This time it's the "One Step Ahead" socks for a friend of mine. I've already knit these once, and they go even faster the second time around.

My Stitch Surfer socks are coming along nicely. I finished the first one on Thursday, and - thanks to a knitting-and-coffee-date Sunday - am about one third of the way through the foot on the second. It's my goal to finish before the end of October, which is looking VERY feasible.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Podcast - September Wrap-up and October TBR

Cooking as Fast as I Can - Cat Cory
A Gift of Magic - Lois Duncan
All Clear - Connie Willis
The Thing About Jellyfish - Ali Benjamin
Manga adaption of Jane Austen's Emma
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

Still making up my mind what to pick for Dewey's Readathon :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Day

Apparently today is World Teacher's Day, and I've been invited to share a story about teachers who made a difference in my life. Don't mind if I do :)

Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to have a number of really good teachers through the years. There was Minna, my math teacher in primary school who definitely influenced my love of math. She was also the school librarian, and once I was old enough, I was invited to be a student librarian, and be responsible for the library in some of the lunch breaks. I LOVED that :) At that age I was certain I wanted to be a librarian myself at some point.

Peter, my English/music teacher in primary school was also really cool. Definitely the most amusing teacher that school had, and I think pretty much everybody liked him. He'd do odd things like wait until the class was completely silent, engrossed in reading or writing something, and then take a stack of dictionaries and throw them to the floor, making us all jump! Sounds childish when I think back on it, but we loved it :) He'd say things like "Write, until the blood springs from under your fingernails!" ... which sounds a lot less cumbersome in Danish, and I promise, wasn't nearly as creepy as it sounds! He liked joking around with us, and was one of the most respected teachers in school for actually taking us seriously.

In high school I had some really cool teachers as well, both in my Danish and New Zealand schools. Inge taught me Danish for two years of high school. She was strict, but passionate about her subject, and I really liked her. In New Zealand I was taught English by Mrs. Y. - a wonderful eccentric teacher, who'd come into the class singing, teach a class completely in rhyme, and enter the class saying "Class, I have a wonderful surprise for you! We get new dictionaries today!!!". Mr. Holm taught history and was perhaps just a step above eccentric. His classroom was off by itself, and outside the door was a sign with "Welcome to Holmania". He was brilliant at making history come alive and could make pretty much everything a teaching experience. He'd have people enact certain periods of history, and when some classmates of mine wondered how on earth the war in Ireland could be about religion "since they were all Christians", he started a religious debate in class, just to show us how quickly it could get heated - even among people who liked each other.

However, my hands-down, all-time favourite teacher would have to be Mrs. Jane G. who taught Std. 4 at Winchester School in 1990 and who thus became my main teacher for all of that year.

Let's set the stage: imagine teaching 20-25 kids age 9-11. They're mostly good kids, but a handful as any large group of kids that age would be. Enter the challenge... a pupil (me) who knows perhaps 10 words of English, who has to be brought up to speed and taught together with the rest of the kids in the classroom. It didn't register at the time (let's face it, I was an egocentric ten-year-old), but looking back at it, I am so grateful to her for how she handled it. She seemed to know exactly when to let me cut corners in order not to get too discouraged, and when to encourage me to push on, knowing I'd get there in the end. And since she was so sure I'd get there, I obviously had no choice but to live up to her expectations! She knew no Danish herself, but found ways to help me translate words into English regardless. Part of that was making me look words up in the tiny Danish-English pocket dictionary I always had on hand, but more often, she'd help me in other ways in order to help me figure out what the words meant for myself and thus allowing me to feel like I'd accomplished something - no matter how small.

I remember one specific situation in particular.

One day in school we were told to write a paragraph about the earthquake that had hit the evening before. I looked at her questioningly - while I had my dictionary, I couldn't even begin to guess how that word was spelled to look it up (and given the size of the dictionary I'm not at all sure it would have had it anyway!). She must have noticed my blank stare, because as the others started writing, she came up to me.
"Maria, did you feel everything shake yesterday?" she asked, giving my shoulders a small shake.
"That's called an e-a-r-t-h-q-u-a-k-e," writing down the word as she spoke, so I could see how to spell it.
Light bulb moment, and while I still had to consult my dictionary many times in order to write a very grammatically flawed paragraph, I never again forgot the word "earthquake" - nor even how to spell it!

I've since been told that I hardly said anything the first 2'ish months, and then suddenly I was fluent and wouldn't shut up ;) Kids always have an easier time learning a new language - especially when forced to do so by being totally immersed in the language - but there is no doubt that Mrs. G. made it a lot easier on me that it could have been. She never seemed frustrated by my haltering attempts at communicating, and was always ready with an encouraging word and a compliment when I got something right. All in all resulting in a teacher I got to respect and like, and whom I still consider my favourite these 25 years later. She still teaches as Winchester, and I try to drop by whenever I'm in the country. Last I met her was in 2004 for our honeymoon, but I hope to get to catch up with her when I go to visit next month.

Mrs. G. - you're awesome! :-)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Almost done!

As expected, I got into the groove this past week, and ended up wanting to knit nothing but my Spring Showers... which meant that I managed to finish it over the weekend!! Not without the knitting attacking me first though :-P For the sleeves I had to pick up 84 stitches (really not a fan of picking up stitches, although I can definitely tell I'm getting better at it, so there is that :) ), decrease down to 64 on the first round, and then do a ton of short rows to make the sleeve cap. I had just reached the last few short rows on the second sleeve and could see the light at the end of the tunnel when I discovered that I had 11 unworked stitches on one side and only 7 on the other! Gah!

I could probably have fudged it, but this is my first time ever doing sleeve caps, so I wasn't entirely sure how visible it would be, and didn't want to risk having one shoulder that looked off when the other fit me perfectly. So I took a deep breath and ripped back almost to the start of the sleeve cap. *sigh*. Worth it though - the end result is awesome :) (And obvious in need of a block to get the hems to lie straight, as you can see.) In the end I had enough yarn for full sleeves (or what I expect will be full after blocking) and ended up with just 5 grams left!
It's currently blocking - will hopefully be dry tomorrow or the day after - and I can't wait to try it on! It looked so great prior to blocking, although a bit snug (as expected - I knew the fabric would grow when blocked), so now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that it didn't end up growing too much and will fit even better post-blocking. Time will show. I'm trying my hardest to stay patient and not pick it up until it's completely dry.

And since I got that off my needles, obviously I had to cast on something new! Last weekend I frogged a carding I'd knit for my youngest niece as it just simply didn't fit. She was very intrigued by the process.
This is the repurposed yarn (which explains the wrinkles - it should be fine once it gets blocked) which I'm turning into another cardigan instead that'll hopefully fit better. I'm knitting the 2T size (the largest size I had enough yarn for) and it's coming along very nicely :)

Not much new to say about my Stitch Surfer socks. They take quite a bit longer to knit than socks usually do, but I love seeing the pattern unfold so I don't mind too much. I got the heel done over the weekend, so I just need to surf up the leg now.