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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Year Over And What Have I Done

As the year draws to an end, Ravelry says I have 77 projects for 2011. Of these 3 have been unpicked, one should be, 6 are still in progress and 5 were started in 2010.

Of the finished projects; there were 9 squares and 6 sections for WCOBBS, 16 pairs of socks, 16 dishcloths, 5 hats, 7 scarves or other neckwear, 2 pairs of mittens, 1 other item of clothing, 2 baby blankets and a 6-inch strip for gift blanket. 7 items were gifts, plus 1 for hubby.

I am surprised by how much I have knitted especially socks. It seemed that a pair of socks was taking more than 1 month to knit but that can't be the case if I have made more pairs than there are months in the year.

So how did I fare for using my stash? All the yarn I purchased in Denver in 2010 has been used apart from one skein of sock yarn which I have saved specifically for the January challenge. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the yarn bought on the yarn crawl - 3 skeins left, yarn bought on sale last year (don't ask), yarn purchased this year (really?) plus yarn in my stash older than 2010.

I read 98 books this year, across the board except horror and little science fiction and fantasy. A recurring theme for new books especially for Young Adults was USA in the future with government controlling every aspect of your life. Each book was good in its own right but repetitive after a few.

On the personal front, boy child (although he is no longer a child) came back from Denver, and we both became Canadian Citizens as previously posted; the beautiful white cat is still on supplements although her last vet visit was in March; the beautiful black cat is losing weight and looking good now that I make their food. And thanks to my wonderful husband, who makes this all possible, for another year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December's Finishers

I know that December is not over but it is unlikely I will complete another project before month's end. Well I did better than November and completed 5 items this month. 2 dishcloths, 1 pair of socks, a strip for a blanket and a complete blanket.

The blanket strip was shown in yesterday's post. Here are the two dishcloths. I found the pattern for the first one on Ravelry and used a new ball of yarn. I have had the pattern for the second one since November 2008 and it was what led me to the mystery dishcloth group. This cloth I made for our knitters group gift exchange but as I do love the illusions I will probably knit it again.

One of the challenges for November in the Ravelry group was designs by Jeannie Cartmel. Her pattern, Magic Mirror was the second pattern I queued in Ravelry way back in 2008 so it was about time to make them. The yarn is Ranco by Araucania and purchased in Denver last year. The pattern is worked from the toe up with a short row heel. The instructions were for wrap and turn but I worked a shadow stitch heel which is becoming my new favourite for short rows.

When I went to Texas last year, I decided I wanted something to work on on the plane. I also decided crochet was the best option as it involves less movement and I could take a plastic crochet hook. Less likely to raise questions. I also decided to work on my own blanket for WCOBBS. I started a simple pattern that had been made before for the society so I knew how many chains to start with and how big to make it. The pattern can be found on this blog. Note the crochet instructions use English terms. I didn't work on it when I came back from Texas and then it became my take to the vet project. After I finished all the squares I worked on it most days. I really am pleased with it plus the President of WCOBBS was taking blankets to the hospital just before Christmas so it went along too.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blankets For Charity

As well as the squares for WCOBBS I worked a 6 inch section on 8 blankets this year.

The idea behind this group is to knit or crochet a blanket with six 6-inch sections and a border. Unless the blanket has a theme, each knitter chooses their own yarn, colour and pattern. As the blankets are given to the NICU at a local hospital the yarn has to be acrylic as each blanket is sterilized before entering the unit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Squares for Charity

Last year I knitted three squares for the WCOBBS as one of the executive members put forward a suggestion to make squares that she would make into blankets.

She put out a call for more squares as although she had received a load she wanted to put them in groups that went together rather than a random collection. I ended up making nine. All crocheted with yarn from my stash. It was a good opportunity to try patterns from a couple of books I own. 99 Granny Squares to Crochet and 101 Crochet Squares
by Jean Leinhauser

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cats and Christmas

The cats have changed tactics this year. They know that tinsel and beads are out of reach on the tree but there's still other places to attack.

Yummy red tinsel.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

November's Finishers

I'm almost embarrassed to detail what I completed in November. 4 items were finished, 2 of those were dishcloths and another was 6 inches of garter stitch for a charity blanket. If only I could say that the last item was a complicated shawl using thousands of metres but it was the obligatory pair of socks. If I don't get a move on December will not be any better.

Here are the two dishcloths. The first one I used an unused ball of cotton from my stash. I thought I should start all the dishcloth yarn I had before using up the leftovers. I found the pattern courtesy of Ravelry. The other one does use left overs. The green was initially used for the green one in this post and used in the cloth shown in this post. The white was left over from a dishcloth I made for a colleague. I found the pattern when I was looking at the 2010 patterns in the Yahoo group and decided it would work with left overs.

The socks were started towards the end of October and were the designer for October in the SKA group. So I did actually complete two pairs of socks for the October challenge. The designer is Very Busy Monkey on Ravelry and she designed these socks. When I saw this design I knew I just had to make them and hoped the pattern would work with variegated yarn.

This is more yarn that I bought in Denver last year. It is by Abstract Fiber who are based in Portland, Ore. I like the feel of the yarn and best of all the colours do not run. And I am very happy with my finished socks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

October's Other Socks

I promised these socks a post all of their own.

One of SKA's challenges for October was texture. I paired Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn with a pattern - rpm. A pattern that I had printed in March 2007. As Noro yarn is quite different from most other yarns, I wanted to use all the yarn so I converted the pattern to toe up. Once I'd made that decision I wanted to try something different with the toes and heels and not just work standard toes and heels.

I had recently borrowed from the library The Sock Knitter's Workshop by Ewa Jostes and Stephanie van der Linden. (Stephanie is the designer of these, these, these and these.

This book has instructions on many different ways to work toes, heels and other parts of a sock. The one that caught my eye was called Horizontal Toe Band. Basically you make a provisional cast on and knit a small strip of garter stitch, pick up a stitch in every other row down the side of the strip, pick up the cast on edge and then pick up stitches in the rows on the other side. You then increase inside the garter stitches until the toe is the right size and then continue in pattern.

As I wanted to use every centimetre of the yarn I worked these socks two-at-a-time toe-up. Rather than split the ball into two, I worked one sock from the outside of the ball and the other from the inside of the ball of yarn. I was rather surprised at the colours that came out of the centre of the ball but that is another feature of Noro yarns - many different colours in one ball.

To maintain the stripe pattern, I opted for an afterthought heel. I didn't work the standard afterthought heel which is worked the same as toe shaping as I didn't want the ridges either side of the heel. A search of the internet produced a star-type afterthought heel. Having completed it as written (mostly) next time I would work the decreases every 3rd row instead of every other row. The change I made was to the finishing row of the heel. The instructions said to gather the stitches but this thicker yarn would have produced a small hole at the heel, so I kitchenered instead.

When I was running short of yarn, I cut it where the colour change matched the start of the toes and started from that end to work each heel in the colours of the other socks heel. The yarn was still attached to the top of the sock so when I finished the heel, I continued in rib to finish the sock thus using all the yarn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


As it is nearing the end of November, it is about time I showed evidence of items completed in October.

I completed 5 things and this post will have photos of 3 of them. Photos of one will be in a separate post and I didn't take any photos of another. It was a test knit of a hat and as I was testing the pattern for accuracy and not gauge or size the hat does not fit an adult. I'm not really sure if it would fit a child either so it is sitting quietly waiting for me to make a decision.

The other 4 items were 2 pairs of socks, a neck warmer and a dishcloth.

One pair of socks which will have their own post were for the SKA October challenge of texture. The other pair were the September mystery which I started on 2 September and did not finish until 24 October. The challenge for September was yarn in the colour Chartreuse. I did not have any yarn that colour but wanted to knit the mystery so used yarn in my stash that was purchased in Denver last year. The yarn is Panda Silk, a 52% bamboo, 43% merino, 5% combed silk blend. This was not the ideal yarn for this pattern as neither the yarn nor the pattern have much give. In fact I could not even get one sock on when it was finished. After I had wet blocked them on sock blockers I was just able to get both socks on over smooth tights for the second photo. I then wet blocked them again but I am too scared to try them on.

I worked these two-at-a-time on one circular needle, although the heels were worked separately. The advantage of this method is that you don't have to take any notes. The disadvantage is that progress seems slow.

Another pattern started in September, finished in October, using yarn purchased in Denver, was a neck warmer. When I was in Denver I wanted to buy local yarns. As well as some locally dyed yarn I purchased some yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch. 50% Yak and 50% Como in a natural colour. I should have learned from the alpaca I bought at Stampede - it is hard to make natural colours look good when worked on their own. I tried two different scarf patterns one from a book and one I made up but in each case the yarn looked grey and dull.

On Ravelry I found a pattern for a lacy scarflette which I thought I would see how it worked with the yarn. The combination of lace and stocking stitch made the yarn look creamy and not dull. I had to buy buttons as I did not have enough of one colour in my stash and opted for colour rather than metal. The neck warmer can be worn with the buttons at the front or the side. You could even have the buttons at the back but I don't know why you would want to go to that trouble.

I added an extra set of pattern rows to use up all the yarn. The pattern was free on a blog. It was not hard but full of mistakes so you had to be able to read your knitting to make sure you were working the correct stitches.

Finally in October I made a dishcloth. Although I have not been knitting the dishcloths from the Yahoo group I have been looking at the patterns for each month. I liked the patterns in October and as I have many small amounts of cotton decided to knit one of the patterns in two different colours. This particular pattern was worked from corner to corner so I worked in one colour until all the increases were complete and then worked in the second colour for all the decreases. When it came off the needles it was a definite diamond shape so I soaked it and shaped it into a square for photos. I won't be worrying about its shape when I use it.

I started November with one sock that I cast on towards the end of October plus all the long term projects.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

September in Photos

In this post I said that I had finished six items in September. Today I am posting photos of three of them. I can't post photos of the others as two are gifts so photos will have to wait until after Christmas and one of the items is a sleeveless top that I knitted for myself and someone needs to take photos of me wearing it; which isn't likely to happen any time soon and not because I don't wear it!

So for your viewing pleasure, photos of finished objects. Firstly socks. These were the mystery sock pattern for July which I cast on 1 July. The yarn was shown in this post. The yellow yarn had obvious colour changes and I thought the pair would look nicer if they matched so I found the same starting point in the colour sequence. I'm glad I did as I came across a knot in the yarn. Next time I do this I am going to start the yarn at the beginning of a colour run so that it is easier to find the same place in the yarn for the second sock.

The pattern is stranded colourwork. For the first sock I held one colour in each hand but for the second sock I decided to hold both yarns in my right hand which is the hand I usually hold yarn in. I was worried that I was stranding too tightly and must have overcompensated as the second sock was bigger. I didn't check properly until I had completed the heel and this is what happened.

I had to unpick to almost the cuff and start the pattern again. Another lesson learned. The designer is Stephanie van der Linden and this is the fourth of her designs that I have made.

Although I don't have photos of the top, I have a photo of the hat made from the leftover yarn. It is another Brooklyn Tweed pattern and a quick knit.

At the beginning of the year I was repaid in yarn instead of cash. The yarn was Merisoft Hand Painted Aran by Punta yarns in the same colour as these socks I made in August. As it had taken time to find a suitable pattern for the sock yarn, I decided to use the same rib pattern for a scarf. I worked 10 rows of moss stitch at each end as well as two stitches at each edge. As you can see this was just as hard to photograph as the socks.

I started two new projects in September. The September mystery socks and a neck warmer and I still have the slow projects.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In and Out of the Oven

My friend Sharon has moved to Edmonton but I can keep up with her crafty activities through her blog Nana's Button Jar.

A recent recipe caught my eye and as it was my turn to host bridge I decided to give it a go. Pink Lemonade Confetti Cupcakes. I love recipes that start with a box of cake mix. I bought a box of confetti cake mix and a jar of organic applesauce to cancel out all the bad stuff in the mix and decided that I had pink lemonade drink mix in my dye supplies.

Well I was wrong on that one, had regular lemonade Crystal Light only. I have no idea if they taste different so I did not add the lemon rind until I had tasted the mix in case it was overwhelmingly lemony, which it wasn't. But I did have this in my dye supplies so I was able to make pink cakes.

I added glace cherries to some of the cakes as well as sprinkles.

Hubby liked the lemon flavour but son thought they were too sweet. I wouldn't have said they were too sweet but have that sweet/bitter taste mix that lemon cakes often have. I wonder what these would be like with other drink mix flavours.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Penguins Protected by Sweaters

As is the delight of the internet I came across an article about penguins around New Zealand affected by the latest shipping disaster. The penguins are covered in oil and need a covering to stop them ingesting the oil. The ideal covering - a woolly jumper. And what does New Zealand have in abundance - sheep.

Here are a couple of links so that you can see penguins wearing sweaters.

This is my favourite photo. It is all over the internet so I am unable to credit the original source.

These are not sick penguins but penguin models. Because if the top models are wearing them then ordinary penguins will be clamouring for their own. But the poor guy (girl?) in the orange sweater. You know what he is thinking - "why does Aunt Jane always think I will grow into her knitted sweaters?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

99 More Canadians

Last month my son and I along with 97 other immigrants became Canadian citizens. We moved to Calgary over 5 years ago and as son has stated that he wants to remain here we decided that being a citizen would be a good idea. By applying before he was 18 the fee was lower and he didn’t have to take the citizenship test – I did that for both of us.

The ceremony was an informal formality presided over by a federal judge. She spoke at length about what it means to be a Canadian citizen and then we took the oath. As this was a federal government event the oath had to be said in French as well as English. It was a shame that the judge had not been coached in how to speak this little bit of French. Her pronunciation was atrocious and exactly how North Americans are portrayed in movies. Although this was a federal government event she did not attempt to say anything else in French. After the oath, we were presented with our citizenship certificates and a member of the armed forces presented each of us with a maple leaf pin. Before singing the National Anthem the judge read the list of 30 countries represented that day. Although it was really 29 as England and Scotland were listed separately. The largest population was from China with India close behind and then Philippines.

What does it mean now I am Canadian? I have the right to remain in Canada and I can vote. Although as we now have a majority Federal government it will be a while before I can vote at that level.

But what does it really mean to be a Canadian? Or any nationality for that matter. I was born in the UK but haven’t lived there for 15 years. I come across people who haven’t lived in the UK for 40 years and on meeting me say: “it’s still home”. Well, actually, it’s not. That implies that where you are currently living is temporary and maybe some harbour the wish to return to the land of their birth. Perhaps by thinking of their current home as temporary they can settle easier. I have found that Australians refer to Australia as home. But the ones I have met definitely feel their time overseas is temporary and they will return home to Australia.

It is not home but I am definitely shaped by my British upbringing certain aspects of which are so natural that I have to be careful around North Americans. The British sense of humour for example. Irony, sarcasm and self-deprecation are a big feature of British humour and I have learned to tamp it down especially when meeting new people or when talking to another Brit in a mixed group.

So what does it mean to be a particular nationality? Are Canadians polite? Do British people have bad teeth? Are Americans full of themselves? Yes, yes, yes, or no, no, no. These are all generalizations of course and the answer will depend on who you meet and what you are like. But one of the funniest segments showing the difference between Canadians and Americans is an episode of How I Met Your Mother – Duel Citizenship.

So how can you tell that son and I are embracing the Canadian way? Son dutifully adds eh to the end of most of his sentences but my loyalty goes deeper – Battle of the Blades is my favourite show

Friday, October 7, 2011

What Happened in September

So that my posts are not one month apart, I'm throwing a quick one in here. I am behind on taking and uploading photos so a photo-less post but I did finish 6 items in September (plus a crocheted square for charity) and only one of those was a pair of socks. And three of them I started in September - easy knits. I also cast on the mystery sock pattern for September but they are not quite finished and a neck warmer that I have finished knitting but needs buttons.

Overall I feel that I had a productive September.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

August's Achievements

Although it is more than a month since my last post, I did manage to finish some projects last month.

Once again no dishcloths but one pair of socks made it off the needles and another pair didn't. The socks I started with the yarn shown in my last post met with a slight problem so their completion was delayed. They are still not completed but should be finished by the end of this month. I was asked about the yarn and it is Jawoll Magic by Lang yarns.

I finished the second pair of Wendy Johnson socks I cast on. The yarn is Jitterbug by Collinette and the pattern is Laurel from Toe-up Socks for Everybody.

A picture of the finished socks

and a close up.

I got my act together and finished the scarf from this yarn which I was a birthday present from a good (knitting) friend.

It was ripped back to a suitable length, so I cast off, leaving an end a bit longer than the width of the scarf. I then sewed this down the middle over the cast on end of the scarf to cover it up.

It really is a fun scarf and I have yarn left to add frills to something else.

I crocheted a few squares for Western Canada Odd Ball Blanket Society. Sometime I will have a post of all the strips and squares I have made this year.

Another pair of socks was started this month as there was a new mystery and I am test knitting a couple of patterns for a friend. My slow going patterns are still that.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On and Off The Needles in July

Yes it is a month since the last post. It wasn't my intention to make it exactly a month - it just turned out that way.

I had the misfortune to experience some very rude customer service which I was considering blogging about and that put all other blog thoughts on hold. Today I decided to post about knitting.

What didn't happen in July? No dishcloths. I have been disappointed with the mystery dishcloths from the Yahoo group just lately and as I don't have a vast amount of dishcloth cotton left, I took a break. Never fear, plenty of socks were knitted.

The socks blogged about here were finished on 1 July so count as July knitting.

The challenge in Sock Knitters Anonymous for July was:
Any sock designed by Wendy Johnson
Mystery Sock

The mystery sock was designed by Stephanie van der Linden and I even bought yarn specially for the project.

I finished the first sock in July but the second one is going very slowly.

The second sock I cast on was a pattern by Wendy Johnson from Socks From The Toe Up, a book I checked out from the library. This is another reason I have not blogged as it has taken a long time to get a decent photograph.

I had bought the yarn in December last year and had already tried one pattern which didn't work with the yarn so I am really pleased with how they turned out. As I was so disgusted with my ribbing on the last socks, with these socks I worked the knit stitches on the cuff through the back loop.

I finished these socks in July and as there is not a challenge in August, I cast on another Wendy Johnson pattern. This time from Toe Up Socks For Every Body, another book from the library. I am using yarn purchased on last year's yarn crawl.

Also completed in July were two squares crocheted for charity. I unpicked the scarf to the right length so all I have to do is sew the ends in.

I need to get a move on though to finish 3 socks by the end of the month.