Wednesday, December 26, 2007

come on in, the water's fine..

Today was bright and sunny, and of course we are past the hump and days can only get longer from here. Might also have been because I slept in much later than normal so there were no dark morning hours today (but will be tomorrow when I have to go back to work!). Even made it out for some vitamin D in the afternoon, enjoying the day now that the holiday rush is over (and avoiding the consumer blitz that is boxing day). But it still gets dark awfully early, and the moon peering at me through the window tells me how cold it is outside, and there is the promise of some snow before morning according to those lovely folks at Environment Canada. So maybe I won't be going to work...

But let's talk socks shall we? These are great fitting socks. I based them on knitfreak's Aquaphobia socks. I fully intended to follow the pattern, but appear to have an experimental streak and deviated some. I followed the basic slip stitch but changed the cable, and added a second cable. I used a short row heel, and started the slip stitch under the sole of the heel to add a bit of reinforcement, and used 15 rows of 2x1 rib at the top to finish it off. The colour is a bit wilder than I would normally pick, but instantly attracted me at the store. It has, however, been sitting in my pile for many months now. I tried to knit this yarn up into some Leyburns, but that didn't work out. I think this pattern is a great accompaniment for yarn like this though. Hence the blog title, if you didn't get that - try out the Aquaphobias if you get a chance.

Of course, inside lighting with flash is not very conducive to photographing the texture and detail on these socks, so please forgive me. Instead, pretend you're sitting with me watching bad tv in front of a warm fire. Breathe easy, the holiday rush is over!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


just as I finished my last post complaining about my Brittany needles, I noticed their five year replacement guarantee. I will be emailing them and if they replace my needles, that will be great!

warm hands, warm heart?

Hope everyone is enjoying the gifts of the season - and I don't just mean that in a material sense. We had our family gathering last night (Danish traditional Christmas), and are now winding down back home again. Didn't do much knitting with all the family around, but did manage to finish these up before things got going.

As mentioned before, these fingerless mitts are based on the Inga hat pattern. I pushed forward despite my doubts halfway through and think I am pretty happy with the result. My tension in stranding definitely leaves something to be desired, but they fit, and I think will even out with wear (lazy girl's blocking). Yarns used are Drops Alpaca for the red - it really shines in the sunlight with strands of purple and yellow - and the off-white is some leftover Ella Rae Classic from my Lush & Lacy cardigan. The Ella Rae held up fine, but since I was using the Alpaca held double, I ran out a few rows shy of a second mitt, and both without thumbs. I had to make a few changes, and the thumbs are a bit shorter than planned, but I think they'll pass muster. Basically I did one repeat of the Inga chart (40 stitches), on 3mm dpns, with the seam up the centre of the palm, which doesn't create a perfect join but I think it looks okay. My big concern is actually with the needles - Brittany needles. I have now broken two of the five, and am thinking my replacements will not be the same brand. I've never broken a bamboo needle, but these hardwood dpns don't seem to hold up as well.

I should have some Aquaphobia socks to show in the next day or two. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

flurries (of activity)...

Today does not look like this outside. The wind is howling once again, the rain is driving, and generally the best bet is to curl up inside. But, as I can't show you the FOs I have recently completed, I will instead entertain you with some shots from last weekend. Why no knitting? Apparently there's some sort of holiday coming up, whereby I may have made some gift-type items that must be kept safely under wraps. If you are wishing to see what I've been up to, please pop over to Ravelry.

These shots were taken at Mount Cain, where I made my very first snowboarding attempt. Sure it's only taken two and half years dating a snowboard instructor for me to try it, but let's not worry over details. To sum it up, pretty cool and will be trying it again, but that is saying that only after the pain of falling countless times on my butt onto rock hard snow has started to fade from my mind. I was told I made a good first effort, but he's required to be biased, so who knows for sure. The snow was not yet piled up to the levels I'm sure it's reaching today, but the sun was shining and on the whole it was a beautiful day.

I've got some new projects on my mind too - many socks I'm eager to cast on for, and one toe was started this afternoon. Also procured some Cashmerino in a fantastic shade of grey - destined to be the best hat ever. Hope everyone is gearing up for the holidays okay!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

definitely december...

December appeared in a flurry here, waking up to a wintry wonderland of snow where last night a cold starry night had been. Now late in the day it is still snowing, and there is over a foot on the ground. This is not our first snow of the season - earlier this week we had a few centimetres, but this is definitely out of character. Dry and powdery, no sign of warming up just yet, it does not feel like west coast snow at all. We just went for a short walk to the store, felt the bite of cold flakes hitting our cheeks, and are happy to be once again curled up in the warm house.

I have been working on a fingerless mitt version of the Inga Hat pattern, with mixed results. Here is the first one, minus a thumb (you can see the safety pin holding stitches). What do you think? I like it, but being the maker I also see the mistakes. And it is a little snugger than I would like. But I've tried to approach it as stranding practice, and not worry too much about the end result. I love the look of colourwork, and have realized I just have to suck it up and work on my technique if I ever want to see improvement, rather than sullenly avoiding it. The yarns used are Drops Alpaca held double (red) and Patons Classic Merino (off-white) on 3mm dpns.

Hope you are staying warm and cozy as we enter December!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

a long time coming...

well, this has only been languishing in my in progress pile since last july (yeah, that's a year and more ago). I'm sure I could have finished it much quicker, but initial progress was delayed when we moved and I didn't have the floor space, and then it just got forgotten again and again. I enjoy quilts, and love the finished project, but sometimes they can be quite tedious, especially when I piece them together the hard way, ie each piece separately, and tiny little squares. You may not be able to tell in the photos but many of the squares are assorted stripes - I found three or four different stripe fabrics in a series, one darker greens, one lighter, one with blues. The other pieces are assorted blue and green cottons and cotton/linens I had. I also had a long time deciding on the finishing and back, but eventually went for a simple finish.

There is no real edging, the squares just finish and join with the back. The backing is simple soft green fleece, which i like as a quilt back because it makes it thinner to quilt on the machine, but still provides lots of warmth. This quilt is a nice size for cuddling on the couch. Ummm, not much else to say. Back to knitting?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

dark nights...

The sun actually showed its face for most of today, but of course I didn't finish these until tonight, and I just couldn't wait a whole week before being home in daylight again to take pics, so this is what I've got. These socks are delish, and knit up quickly. I procured this Handmaiden Casbah sock yarn, which is ridiculously soft and makes me swoon when I put the socks on. So I knew I needed a pattern that would live up to the luxury. And I think Baudelaire is a good fit, figuratively and literally. Admittedly I didn't follow the pattern word for word, but just took the lace chart and cable and then did my own toe, heel, and number of stitches. But I think I got the idea, and these socks make me happy! I highly recommend it, and the stitch pattern was easy to remember. The colour is great too, although maybe just slightly more variegated than I wanted. Still, the variations of dark and pinky purple, plus even a little navy, is very subtle and nice. I'm sure I'll be wearing these a lot this winter.

For more pics, check out Ravelry if you can.

Monday, November 12, 2007

the eye...

or that's the rumour anyway. That this bright blue sky is just a momentary lapse in the blustery gales of November, luring all the folks out with squinting eyes to see daylight for a few moments before battening down the hatches once again. Too dramatic? You're telling me. Last night and this morning was our first real storm of the season, and I don't use the term "storm" lightly. Storm meaning over 50 knot winds (yes, I'm somehow always more comfortable measuring wind in knot as opposed to kms), rather than our usual gales of roughly 35 knots. Storm meaning no power for much of the morning. Storm meaning when the wind quieted a bit we had to spend a couple hours outside picking up the glass and twisted metal covering the lawn after half the upstairs railing came down, and to which our landlord is now using his shop vac on the lawn to get the stubborn shards so his kids don't step on any next summer. And storm meaning part of the highway was closed due to large pieces of driftwood washing up across the road. In this photo you can see the waves still curling in, although I'm sure they are much smaller than at dawn's first light. Makes me think dreamily of the west coast of the island, rather than our usually quiet neck of the woods.

But thank the sun for coming out, and giving me a chance to photograph my most recent accomplishment, the Lush & Lacy Cardigan from Sweaterbabe. This was a pretty quick knit, only drawn out while I tried to get other things done. The pattern was easy to follow, with only a few small things that made me go ????? I added a bit of length to the sleeves, and also ended up doing the collar in moss stitch. If I had more confidence in knitting sweaters I probably would have attempted doing this in the round, as there is a plethora of seaming. I love the little peplum in the back and on the sleeves - the whole cardigan has a lovely old-fashioned feel but still is totally modern I think. I finished it with some metal buttons with a floral motif.

I've been eyeing Sweaterbabe's site for a while and there are a few other patterns I would like to try. Oh, I used Ella Rae Classic Merino on this sweater, and I think 5.5mm circular needles. I have not blocked it, and am still up in the air on whether I will, as it seems to be settling in to shape on it's own.

After being bogged up in knitting for awhile, I decided to take a break yesterday and get back to the sewing machine. I am awful at bloggin about my sewing projects for some reason, which is a shame as I usually get more wear out of them than my knitting. So I'm going to try and be better, and here is the first one. I got the idea for this little shawl collared sweater from J.Crew's website, and decided to construct my own. I think it came out pretty similar, and I wanted to add a little something, hence my friendly little owl on the pocket. I love sweaters like this that are casual and cozy in jogging fleece, but with details (shawl collar, three-quarter sleeves) that help give it more tailoring and make it work-wearable (for me, at least).

Now I better get to work on my fingerless mitts that I've been neglecting, especially since I've joined the Fingerless Mitts for Fall knit-a-long. But just for fun, I've also started some Baudelaire socks in lusciously soft Handmaiden Casbah - yum.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

and one more...

I hate colourwork. Let's just get that out of the way. I just don't get it, and my efforts are mediocre at best, so I generally avoid it like the plague. But I decided to give in this one time, and the boy thought this looked like a neat hat. This is the Sheep & Wool Hat from Emily. I made a few tweaks, namely using smaller needles so I cast on 110 stitches instead of 100. I also modified the top decreases to my own preference. The pattern was very easy to follow and had a pretty good flow. But I'm just not good at keeping tension in colourwork, and there is some noticeable twisting in the edge where I stitched the underside stockinette edge to the outside. But A seems happy with it, so that is the important part. And it will definitely keep him warm this winter - there is a lot of thickness once you get all those stranding layers. On the whole though, I think I'd rather stick to cables and lacework with one colour of yarn.

and to finish off today's post is a autumn shot from a recent walk on the Campbell River...

Monday, October 08, 2007

two toques for you...

there has been a plethora of gift-knitting going on of late - and i'm sure while many are starting on their christmas gift-knitting, i am one who first has to tackle the many birthdays that fall in these fall months. the benefit of course of fall birthdays is that it is the perfect time to get a cozy hat to protect you from the too soon cold weather, and keep you stylish while you do. here then are two completely different toques for two completely different recipients - my 40-year-old brother-in-law and my soon to be 4-year-old niece.

i wanted to make some creative but still manly for the BIL, and actually picked the yarn before the pattern. this soft jo sharp silkroad dk tweed was a perfect beige (shade: cocoa), and the cashmere and silk added to the wool made is yummy to touch. i stumbled on the beaufort hat pattern while browsing ravelry, and thought it has some interesting lace knitting without being too lacey. i think it was well-received, and i enjoyed the knitting - fast but enough going on to keep me interested.

branching out a little more, i was looking for another lace pattern to use with this purple drops alpaca. i initially started on the scroll lace socks pattern from bowerbird knits, but after a few repeats decided the whole created in the middle of the chart were just too big so i frogged it. on a second attempt, i again perused trusty ravelry and decided to try and adapt woolandwood's yukon leaves sock pattern. i think the result has come out well, with a bit of improvising and fudging to create the decreases at the top. the hat is of course a little too small for me but my niece can't model it yet until her birthday. i tried to use the acorn squash i had, but he is a little too small (although i like how the un-stretched lace looks like interlaced hearts. so i relented and stretched it onto my head so you could see the lace. i would like to try this pattern again with a less fluffy yarn so that the stitches could really shine through - perhaps actually making socks with a sock pattern? what a crazy idea.

there are more hats on the horizon, plus more gift knitting, and perhaps a shawl pour moi.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

wet and blustery...

it's one of those days that defines november around here - pouring rain, driving southeaster bended the tired trees...oh, wait, what's that you say? it's only the last day of september? too bad, says mother nature. it's the west coast, and the weather here is nothing if not unpredictable. but then again, it's a perfect day to curl up inside with some knitting. i'm feeling a bit reflective today after an eventful saturday. my plans for a large family dinner in honour of my mom's b-day had to be reconfigured to cook on the bbq when the power went out in the storm, with marginally successful results. as well, am nursing a few scrapes and bruises after my dad and i had a near miss with a falling tree. my dad got clear, but unfortunately i snagged myself on some barbed wire while running away, which is where my main wounds come from (and sadly, a ruined pair of jeans), and have a sore back from a branch that landed on me. could have been worse though - the sheep and alpacas on the farm will be getting a bit wetter for a while as some large chunks of the tree made sizeable holes in the small barn roof. an adventure on the whole, but we are not too much the worse for wear.

i have some finished objects to show, and both i am feeling pretty happy about. i finished the column of leaves from brooke nelson, just in time for my mother's birthday. I did two repeats of the central leaf pattern, as i wanted to create a wider, more shawl-like scarf. i wasn't entirely thrilled with the yarn, which is garnstudio muskat, but that could just be my general dislike for cotton yarn. i do like the colour though, and the gentle sheen it has, which i think is perfect if my mom wants to dress it up. i highly recommend the pattern - pretty easily remembered, and somewhat addictive at that. great lacework on the whole.

in a slightly faster knit, in that i decided i needed to have them RIGHT NOW, are my lovely shifting sands armwarmers. i used the stitch pattern from grumperina's shifting sands scarf, which i think creates great texture. i had originally tried some more bulky cables, but was quick to realize i didn't have nearly enough yarn to make them a decent length, and this pattern was much more yardage friendly. i was also going to make them into fingerless mitts complete with thumbholes, but then decided that i wanted something that looked more suitable indoors as well as out, basically just like long sleeves to pair with non-long sleeve shirts this fall. oh, and the yarn? yum, i love this stuff. indigo moon sportweight merino, straight from gabriola island (just down the way) in the loveliest shade of purple (i'm all about purple this fall). my one concern, however, is that although the wool is superwash, i think i'm unlikely to be sticking them in the machine with any other items - my fingertips turned faintly purple while knitting, and i'm not sure my bamboo 3.0mm dpns will ever not be purple again.

next up, i am working on some hats too warm folks up in this fall weather - there are several birthdays on the near horizon so gift knitting is top on the to-do pile. however, i did discover some kauni yesterday at the LYS, and am thoroughly smitten. i picked up some red/burgundy that is calling to be a lovely shawl, so we'll see how that overtakes the other projects. hope the weather is better where you are!

Monday, September 10, 2007

fall flavours...

I came home from work today fully motivated to do some baking. I've had some fresh corn sitting in the fridge from the farmers market, and leave it to martha stewart to provide some good inspiration. I tried out her recipe for rosemary corn muffins, which look pretty darn good, don't you think? Very straightforward and easy to make - although I'm sure they are delicious fresh, I plan to freese most of them so I have yummy lunch options all week.

I've also been thinking about things to do with all those farmers market and home grown veggies in the fridge; good option? Pizza. Tried something a little different with my crust today, by substituting some of the water for beer, which turned out well indeed. I also stuffed the crust edge with cheese. Sauce was a mix-up of fresh chopped garlic, artichoke paste, a little leftover alfredo sauce, and some roasted jarred peppers. My pizza is different every time I make it, but this time the toppings included mushrooms (who can have a pizza without them?), garden zucchini & yellow cherry tomatoes, and local zephyr squash and red pepper, topped with mozza, cheddar and parmesan.

And lastly I will leave you with last night's sunset - the weather is just awesome this week. Hope you are inspired to try some yummy culinary adventures in your own kitchen.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

oh the photos...

that's right. I was feeling the photography today, so you get to enjoy the fruits of my walk on this lovely september day. first though, a little recap from the past little while. the alpacas are settling in, although they aren't exactly cuddly just yet. here they appear eyeing my niece and nephew, only because they are holding buckets of food. they're also a little wet after a day of drizzle.

next up - twisted tweed socks from schrodinger. I really enjoyed this pattern, although they came out a bit large. the phildar yarn is so yummy soft, capped off with heels, toes, and cuffs of trekking pro natura. the boy seems to like them too. i might try and make a pair for myself in a brighter colour.

i've also been working hard on my variation of knitting school dropout's leaf tee - modified to be a cardigan. am kind of on the fence about the result - the colour is great (love that Indigo Moon yarn), but the fit is a bit off. However, it has now been blocked anyway, and will probably finish attaching the snaps soon.

today I went to one of my favourite places to walk - the Oyster River trail. there are so many things to see - the river, the beach and ocean, the farmland that borders it, the forest - you get a little bit of everything. the late afternoon light was warm but clear - exactly what I love about september. i think the pics are pretty self explanatory, but if you're wondering about the specs in the water in the shoreline shot, those are fishermen tempting the salmon making their way to the mouth of the river. 'nuff said - hope the whole month is this nice!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

farmer's market...

it's true. there is a farmers market on sundays just a short distance from my house. BUT...who needs a farmers market when i can just go to my folks'? i went over today to pick lots of blackberries and learn how to make jam. i'm not sure how i've avoided learned jamming until now, considering the susy homemaker in me, and the skills of my mom. but moving on, we made yummy blackberry jam, plus i returned home with a few more goodies - spaghetti squash, beans, apples, raspberry jam from an earlier batch she made, plus some frozen raspberries and fresh blackberries. yet more reasons why i love this time of year - fresh sunshine but a bit of crispness to the air, all of nature's harvest ripening and fresh to be eaten.

and lest you think i'm only reaping the fruits of is a little collage of all the things growing in our own garden.

knitting? hope to have some FOs very soon - a few things are coming along well, but nothing interesting to show just yet.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

something fishy...

first I would like to quote brooklyntweed and say: "It's right about this time in August when I start losing all my patience with summer." I am so with him on that one. I do love the summer, and the flowers and the veggies and the sunshine and the...well, you get the point. but I think more so I love the fleeting days of autumn, when the air has a fresh crispness to it, and so does the light, instead of the flat glare of summer. I know soon enough if will be wet and windy, but early fall delights with sunny days where I can break out my "back-to-school-clothes" (oh that was a while ago) and fresh scarves, hats and mitts. here in fact is a perfect example of my fall dreams, although the weather seems to have misinterpreted and instead served us a grey and vaguely chilly day.
I've been trying to think up a name for this hat, something fishy but not just "pomatomus hat". obviously, the pattern is based on cookie a.'s timeless pomatomus socks, which I have already enjoyed in the mermaid gloves. somehow, I have never made the socks, but that's for another post. anyway, I thought it would make a great toque, and set out to prove that theory.

through a little trial and error, I think I came up with a winner. I cast on 144 stitches, exactly double of the sock pattern. I then followed the instructions for the twisted rib cuff (10 rows), and followed the leg instructions on for two full repeats (working chart A 12 times instead of six). when starting on the third repeat, I followed the instructions again, but only did the yarnover increases on every second set of 12 stitches, effectively decreasing the hat by 12 stitches every row. this means that at halfway through this set of 22 rows, there are only six "scales" instead of the original 12. I then continued decreasing without doing any yarnovers until I was down to six stitches. then i broke the yarn and wove it through to secure. knit on 2.5mm dpns using fleece artist sea wool in jester. love, love, love this wool - it feels awesome!
so....still without a name. am thinking the colours remind of a parrotfish (i know, they come in many many colours - just like yarn?) yeah, if you're interested, try out the parrotfish topper. it could make your autumn.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

new project...

well, kind of. meet the new pets at my parents' house - one llama and one alpaca, both about a year old. my parents already have a few sheep, with lambs each year, and now have decided to step it up a bit. how is this my new project? well, with the sheep my mother and i have always been too busy to be bothered with learning about the prepping of the wool; instead she gives it to a woman who cards it, and spins it, some of which we have received and is neat to knit with. however, my mother decided if they were getting these animals, we were going to have to step it up a bit. my mom and i both have a good idea of the fibre arts, and she already has a spinning wheel. pretty excited to learn the whole spiel when the time comes though. i think it will be great to learn the entire process from alpaca to sweater. for now though, please enjoy the funny looking boys with their pompom tails.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

tweed & stripes...

after this i might need to take a small knitting breather. introducing the brea bag in all its tweedy goodness. i have been complaining forever about needing a purse (picture me when i grocery shop, trying to juggle produce and my wallet, keys, phone, ipod, and sunglasses), but never seem to find one i like. i found this gem on ravelry (what did i do before ravelry?), and promptly added it to my to do list. i reallly enjoyed the knitting - was brainless but interesting nonetheless. i am a little disappointed with my choice in yarn, but only because i feel the fuzziness of it hides the lovely cables. reading other's comments after knitting this bag, i knew my best bet was to line it and add a zipper if i wanted real functionality. however, between my temperamental sewing machine and my general issues with sewing something to a knitted product, i think it's best if no one examines my handiwork too closely. the strap is just a scrap of beautiful leather i had.

next on the docket are my new candystriper socks. i started these a few weeks ago as an easy but fun project after the lacy challenges of the flower basket shawl. basic toe up, with a 2x1 rib at the top - 34 rows of it, but only because that's how much i needed to use up all the pink yarn (leftover from the shawl). again, a project that has a few quirks, such as discovering that the red wool is finer than the pink, so the sock with more pink is slightly larger, but given that they are pretty funky looking anyway, i won't be losing sleep over it. i'll just be enjoying them when i succumb to wearing socks again - but hopefully that won't be for a couple more months! rain and wind came roaring back last week after a brief few days of heat, but sunshine seems to have returned again so i am trying to actually believe maybe it is july, and not october as it is trying hard to be.