Tag Archives: Indigodragonfly

So long, perfect record

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Let me just start by saying that I have not been sick in about four years. I mean, I get hit by allergies in the spring and fall, and I get a cold every now and then, but I haven’t been stay-at-home sick in years. Well, until this week anyway. This week ended my no-sick streak in a big way. I missed three days of work; I went through multiple boxes of Kleenex; L made me soup; I even got to the pathetic point in sickness when you wonder if this is just going to be how it is now. I hate being sick, but as a knitter, it has its advantages.

On my first day home, I actually couldn’t knit. I spend the day wrapped in an afghan, intermittently reading and sleeping. I drank lots of tea and hot lemon (a family staple), and the next day I thought I was better. I went to work on Tuesday, feeling mostly okay. Then I went to work on Wednesday, and by the end of the night, I felt awful. I spent the next two days at home.

But, thanks to be brief uptick at the beginning of the week, I managed to make the week pretty productive. To whit: I am halfway through the first of my Christmas socks (a gift for my sister), I started a new shawl and am through the first chart, and I made a little headway on the much loved, though equally neglected, Spruce Jaywalkers. I wasn’t really planning this as a productive week obviously, so I don’t really have before pictures, but here’s what I managed to get done between sneezes and naps.

First, Christmas socks. I actually wanted to get these started a month ago (I swatched for them in August, for heaven’s sakes), but there always seemed to be something else on the needles. Anyway, on Monday night, when I was feeling a little better, I cast on the cuff for Cookie A.’s Daphne sock pattern. I fell in love with these socks when she first released the pattern, and knew it would be perfect for my sister, who always looks longingly at my handknit socks, and especially at the lace ones.

One of my favourite things about lace socks is that they’re a surprise when you put them on.

I’m knitting these in indigodragonfly’s Merino Silk 4-Ply Sock, a 50-50 silk merino blend that is very soft (and a little slippery) and perfect for the pattern. Although this is a fingering weight and the pattern calls for sport, it’s working out just fine. The colour is not quite as bubblegum as Cookie A.’s, but it’s certainly feminine, which you’d expect from a colourway called Don’t You Have an Elsewhere to Be? (Cordelia).

Here’s the expanded lace pattern. (I know this will be a good gift because I want to keep them for myself.)

Surprise!

I guess it makes sense that I started a few things this week, given all the finishing I did last week. New project number 2 is The Lonely Tree Shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia (hilarious name, no?). I’ve had my eye on this one since she released it a few weeks ago. It’s a free pattern, written for a worsted weight tweedy sort of yarn, and honestly, how perfect is that leafy lace for fall? Well, on Tuesday when I was in the shop, Claudia (the owner) mentioned she’d like it if I wore more garments knit from yarns we carry (I knit with shop yarns all the time, but socks and things are harder to see). I was trying not to shop for myself before Christmas, but this seemed like the perfect excuse, so I snapped up some of The Fibre Company’s Acadia – a merino, baby alpaca, and silk blend – in Douglas Fir and cast on on Wednesday.

The other reason I cast this on was because I needed something to break up all the sock action I had going on.

I just finished the first of three charts (the others are about half as many rows each) and although it looks small, I have faith in the powers of blocking. I’m thinking it will be a sort of warmer, wintry shawl, and chose the colour because it will go nicely with my dark red winter coat.

Finally, the Spruce Jaywalkers. I actually finished the first one in Nova Scotia, casting on the second during the plane ride back to Toronto. I fully planned to just buckle down and knit the second, but then other projects came along, as they do, and it just kind of stuck around. Usually a sock taking this long is an indication that I’m bored with it, but that is not the case here. I continue to delight in the colour changes and watching how they stack up, and this sock has been faithful TV and travel knitting when I didn’t have something else more pressing to work on.

One and a half socks.

The pattern is easy, but not so mindless as to be numbing, and the yarn is fun and nice to knit with. I was an inch or so above dividing for the heel when I picked these up, and now I’m into the gussets, so it probably won’t be long before this is a completed pair, which I’m quite excited about. I have another skein of this Fleece Artist BFL Sock already wound and destined to be a pair of plain socks once these one are off the needles – truly, I love this yarn.

And there you have my week. I’m feeling much better now, which probably means my knitting productivity will dip as I go back to my normal routine, but that’s okay – I’m over being sick.

Everyone is swatching for the weekend

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No? Just me? Oh. Well. I guess when you’re wrapped up in something it feels like everyone else is too. What am I swatching? Ah, glad you asked. (Also, I’m sorry if that title was an earworm for you. I’ve had that song stuck in my head ever since I heard Loverboy was somehow back on tour with Journey and Pat Benatar of all acts.)

So, first some business: if you are my sister or a friend getting married this fall, stop reading immediately and go find yourself some other entertainment. I love you both, but go away for now.

Anyway, where were we? Right, swatching. I actually hate swatching for things. When I have a new project in front of me, all I want to do it start in on it right away, and swatching seems like such a drag. But, when I’m making things to be given away, I swatch. (I didn’t actually swatch the baby sweater, due to time crunch, but it turned out pretty well anyway.)

Up first is Daphne, one of Cookie A.’s new sock patterns. I am in love. In love. I am going to knit these for my sister for Christmas, and I’m going to try and get them started now because I just want to feel like I’m being proactive. I’m going to knit them in Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 ply Sock, which is equal parts superwash merino and silk and very luxurious and smooth and soft and just the sort of yarn that will make my sister squeal when she opens them (I hope). Colourway: Don’t you have an elsewhere to be? (Cordelia). Man I love their colourways.

Swatched on 2.75 mm needles, for 8 stitches = 1 inch.

I don’t normally swatch socks because I knit so many, but there’s a lot of silk in this yarn and I just wanted to make sure it was going to behave like I thought it would. It totally does.

My other swatch project is for mittens, which will be a bridal gift for my friend who is getting married this fall. She has much smaller hands than I do, but it’s a lovely charted Norwegian pattern, so I can’t really fudge the stitch count. This is the reason I swatch, but also why I hate swatching. So far I’m on my third needle size, trying desperately to get gauge and failing. Somehow (and I’m not sure how), it makes no difference to this wool whether I knit with 2.5 mm or 2.75 mm needles. My gauge remains 18 stitches = 2 inches, which is exactly three stitches too many. Sigh. I’m on to 3.5 mm needles now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that will put me over, causing me to tear around Toronto looking for the illusive 3 mm dpn.

Swatch in progress. Grr.

BUT, that won’t be this weekend, because even though I’m swatching like mad, tomorrow L and I are heading back to Tobermory (to a different cottage) and I am bringing socks. Remember these?

Leftover socks! Still leftover, but almost done.

Yeah, they haven’t changed much.I’m about to divide for the heel on sock two, and I suspect that the 5-hour drive will go a long way to seeing them on their way to done. Since that will leave me with the rest of the weekend and the return drive, I am also bringing this (from my little shopping spree).

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Spruce. It’s a mix of dark green, dark blue, lighter green, and yellow. Should be interesting.

If it starts to stripe while I’m knitting the cuff, it might become Jaywalkers; if not, plain socks it is! I can’t wait to see how it knits up.

Sixth time’s the charm, and trip knitting!

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So, it turns out that even when a rule is self-imposed and you’ve decided it’s arbitrary, there are consequence when you break it. To wit: remember how the other day I was all excited about starting the Colour Affection shawl  but really had to because it was Tuesday and Tuesdays are for my sweater? Well, yeah. I finished the decreases for the waist and then decided that maybe that fulfilled my sweater obligation, and then cast on for the shawl.

Well. I read the pattern (a point in my favour, I think) and then decided that a 4mm needle for fingering weight yarn seemed awfully big. I like a tight gauge, so I thought I’d knit this on a 3mm needle instead. So, I cast on, using a cable cast on. As soon as I saw it, though, I thought that’s too tight and pulled it off and re-cast on with a long-tail cast on. Nice and stretchy. Well, yes, but then you have to M1L and M1R in the first row, and that’s super awkward with a long-tail cast on, so I ripped it off again and then tried to cast on more loosely using my preferred cable method. Well, tiny needles and tiny wool and tiny stitches does not make picking up stitches very easy and somehow in the process of picking up the second one, I managed to drop all of them. That’s quite a talent, right?

At that point, I decided that maybe Veera was on to something with the 4mm needle. So I went and dug one up and cast on again, once again using the long-tail cast on. Of course, then I tried to pick up stitches and realized that it wasn’t going to work well, so I ripped it off again and switched back to the cable cast on (are you keeping up? That’s five times I’ve cast on for this so far – thank goodness it’s only 5 stitches to start with). Anyway, that seemed to work, so I started the pattern. I was about 9 rows in when I thought I had a problem.

It looks more like a pouch than a shawl, right?

See that? I’m a big believer in the magic of blocking, but I just wasn’t convinced blocking was going to save me. My edges just seemed too tight. It was puckering. I was convinced that when I was finished and took it off the needles the edge wouldn’t block straight, but would instead give me a hump. That is not what I want. So, I ripped it off my needles. Of course, though, as soon as it was off, this happened.

Oh wait, the pouch fanned out just the way the pattern indicates it should. Rats.

Apparently, it was fine. But, because of the picked up stitches and whatnot, I decided to rip it all the way back to the beginning and start over. (Aside: I just want to say that the Madelinetosh held up like a pro during all this ripping and reknitting and I didn’t have to cut off any of the old yarn, which is excellent since I’m already slightly worried about yardage.)

Anywa, when I started to notice what I thought was a hump forming, I took to Ravelry to read other people’s notes. It seemed that everyone add a YO between the first and second stitches of the row, and then dropped it on the way back, so make for a looser edge. I figured I’d try that, just to be sure. I added the YOs for the first six rows and then stopped doing them because I didn’t like the way the edge looked. I have decided that, since the edge was actually fine even when I thought it was too tight, that if I just pay attention and knit the first two stitched loosely, everything will be fine. So far so good. (Yes, I went with option A. I feel good about it.)

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I like how this is looking.

This puts me in a good place for my trip knitting. Did I mention I was going away? Well, I am. For two weeks! I am beyond excited. My trip involves three countries and two very long travel days, so knitting and books are required. I’m still working on my trip reading, but my trip knitting is all arranged.

Obviously, Patio Affection is coming. It’s garter stitch, and not pattern intensive, which is perfect for the plane and any driving we do. It’s big, though (or it will be), so I decided I needed a smaller project too. Also, on the off chance I get a little tired of garter stitch (it’s been know to happen), I decided project 2 needed to be sort of fiddly. So, I decided that this lovely ball of Indigodragonfly Sock would become the famous and ubiquitous Monkeys, which I have not yet knit.

Indigodragonfly 100% merino sock, in colourway “Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer” (their colourways have the best names).

Pretty good, right? I’m going to pack the Monkey project away in my checked luggage, just in case, and keep the shawl in my carry on, at least for the initial travel day.

The thing is, though, I needed to sort out my project bag situation. I have my standard (and very pretty, if I do say so myself) bag for the socks, but Colour Affection requires three balls of yarn and is going to grow. I poked around and didn’t come up with anything besides something ugly (like a grocery bag) or silly (a cloth bag in Christmas fabric) when it hit me: stuff sack.Thus, this 5L stuff sack from MEC is now my shawl bag, which will expand as amy knitting does (it’s also pretty much water proof and made of 30-denier rip-stop nylon, so my Addis shouldn’t poke through).

Sock bag (by ZigZag stitches) and stuff sack (by MEC), all rolled up.

5L is pretty big, as it turns out.

Really, I’m only going away for two weeks, so this will for sure be enough wool. Yes?

Sock wool on the left, shawl wool on the right. It’s kind of a lot, isn’t it?

Lacy Socks: Almondine is finished!

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Can you tell I’m excited? I have been knitting these socks for nearly a month, which seems like a crazy long time for a pair of socks, but I am nonetheless pleased with the results. (I should perhaps add that I have not owned “lacy socks” since I was a very little girl, at which time their wearing was restricted to when I was also wearing a “party dress.” This history makes these socks feel very everyday fancy and fun.)

Almondine!

Almondine!

These strike me as the perfect kind of socks for Spring because the lace means they’ll breathe well and the merino wool they’re made from means they’re actually still quite warm. Also, as the weather gets warmer (it’s 16C in Toronto today!) I will return to wearing skirts and dresses and thus be able to show off my fancy work.

Right side, wrong side.

Right side, wrong side.

The pattern is, as you can see from the title of this post, called Almondine, and it’s from the book Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd (the pattern is designed by Anne Hanson) – once I’ve knit a few more projects, I’ll write a little review of this book, but so far I quite like it. When I bought this book back in January, it was for two main reasons. First, I pretty much always have cold feet, so knitting socks seemed like an obvious way to keep myself busy and productive; after knitting a few pairs of basic socks, though, I decided I needed to spice things up, hence a book of patterns. Secondly, I wanted to expand my repertoire of knitting techniques, and it seemed to me that the repetitive nature of sock knitting would be a good place to do so. Thus, I have been making an effort to try new things. For example: I learned how to do the long-tail cast-on for these socks, which were also my first lace-work project. I also forced myself to concentrate on Kitchener stitch, which I had tried before but never felt very confident about.

Anyway, here are all the details:
Pattern: Almondine by Anne Henderson
Wool: Indigodragonfly Merino sock in colourway My Boyfriend had a Bicentennial (Buffy) – this colourway has almost a dozen gorgeous, subtle variations of purples and reds and pinks (my favourite of which was the cranberry-tinted mid tone) and I loved working with it. It isn’t a soft yarn, but it is smooth and even and perfect for socks.
Needles: Clover bamboo dpn in 2.75 mm

My Boyfriend Had a Bicentennial (Buffy)

My Boyfriend Had a Bicentennial (Buffy)

Modifications is getting its own line, because it includes things I learned about my own knitting strengths and weakness, as least insofar as they relate to knitting lace.
First, I suppose, it that once I figured out the logic of lace (the relationship between where a stitch is added to where one is decreased), the pattern became simple enough that I could put away the chart.
Second, that swatches are really important when you’re doing anything new. Maybe this should be point one, but whatever. I swatched this with 30 stitches on toothpick-thin 2.25 mm needles (as recommended) and ended up with a little tube that fit snugly around my thumb. Clearly, this was much too small, so I went up a needle size and delightfully found myself exactly on gauge. Imagine if I hadn’t swatched!
Third, when it comes to moving between needles, some connections are better than others. Knit to knit, fine. Purl to purl, fine. Purl to knit, fine. Knit to purl, loose and ugly. Because of this, I ended up with ladders along the “seam” of needles one and two all the way up the foot of my socks. In this pattern, it’s actually not noticeable when I wear them, but I know it’s there and I am annoyed. I have ravelled my solution to this.
Fourth, lace is really impressive. I knit these socks at home, on airplanes, in a bar, and at home, and everyone who saw them (knitters and non-knitters alike) thought them quite fancy. As a knitter, this is very satisfying and makes me want to knit nothing by lace in public (lesson: I am a little vain).

I will now, I suppose, learn lesson number 5, which is about blocking (something else I’ve never done). More on that once it has been (I hope) successfully accomplished.