It’s Madness, I Tell You!

Last year, I found the Sock Madness group on Ravelry after the madness had begun. It sounded like a crazy, fun, inspiring idea, but I had missed out for the year.
Sock madness is a 7 round, world-wide, sock knitting competition. In each round, people are eliminated until there is only one person left on each team of about 40 people. In the seventh round, the lone survivors from each team go against each other to see who can knit the seventh round (read this as very difficult) pattern the fastest.

Now, I am a slow knitter. So, whatever possessed me to join in on the fun? First off, the competition is for everyone. You are put on a team with people who knit socks at a similar speed to yours. So, until that last round, everyone has a chance to progress. I had three goals for Sock Madness: have fun, get to round three at least and focus on speeding up my knitting. I am definitely having fun (in a totally stressful, nerve wracking way), I made it to round three and I have found some strategies to help me knit faster (mainly, focussed knitting in limited time frames). As a bonus, I get socks out of the deal. It is a win-win situation all around!

The first round sock this year was Alohomora by Malena Andersen (her first ever published design — congratulations Malena!). It was an easy yet interesting knit. These are such a comfy pair of socks. I love them.

Alohomora Socks

Anyone who finished Alohomora in less than two weeks moved on to the second round of the competition. In total, 521 of the over 700 registrants finished both socks and moved to the second round. Another 116 participants managed to finish at least one sock during the two weeks and became “cheerleaders”, welcome to knit along, but no longer able to advance in the rounds. Once the round was over, much anxious checking of website and email ensued while waiting for the specs for the pattern and then for the actual pattern to materialize.

The second round sock was a lovely cabled design, Cable Madness by Karen Buhr.

Cable Madness

This time around, the first 32 people from each team to finish their socks, advance to the next round. After a concerted effort to knit as quickly as possible, I was number 6 to finish on my team. Woo hoo!

Once finished these socks, qualifying participants received a bonus pattern to knit while waiting for the round if so desired.  I passed on knitting those socks for the time being as I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy.  More on that later.

Now, I wait for the round to be over, admire everyone’s fabulous socks, knit on other projects and prepare to stalk the Sock Madness group and my email for the information for the next round.


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Faster, faster!

Thank goodness that there are faster ways of creating fabric than knitting or even crocheting.
A few days ago, DH and I finally assembled the lovely 24″ Kromski Harp I got as a gift last year. It is lovely to behold!
I warped it the next day. This took a few hours, especially when I wound the warp and it was somewhat wonky. I rewound it and it is much better now.My new Harp and its first warp.
On Saturday I wove the first of three throws/blankets on this warp. These are tiny blankets meant to cover the knees of residents at a local nursing home. They go very quickly.

My new Harp and its first warp.
The first blanket was a houndstooth weave. I am quite pleased with it. Actually, it is an elongated houndstooth weave because I was unable to beat the weft (the yarns going across) to match the spacing of the warp. But, it is still lovely.
The second blanket was begun on Sunday (yesterday). I wove a few picks and hemstitched the beginning. At first I was not crazy about the colour combination. This morning I wove for a while and got to about 16″ of length. I really like it now and am glad that I decided not to rip it out yesterday!

My new Harp and its first warp.

Must finish this one and do one more on this warp. Then I will rewarp the loom and make a few more of these as Christmas gifts for some of the residents. These are part of a long term project started last year, where I wanted to make a shawl or throw for all the residents on the same ward as two of my relatives. I was going along beautifully, but lost track somewhere along the way, and now I need to get some more done quickly. This is my solution and I am loving it!

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Knitting a Fabulous New Cowl by Xandy Peters

20140806-102427-37467526.jpgI recently came upon this fantastic new cowl design called Petal Cowl by Xandy Peters. It is  gorgeous and brilliant design that I wish I had come up with. Then I came upon Berin’s version and immediately ordered the same yarn even though I am on a yarn diet. The yarn and pattern combination is fantastic and thoroughly surprising as the colours move through the developing cowl. The photos below show various parts of the cowl and how the colours change. Beautiful.


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Project Beginnings

Recently, on one of my Ravelry forums, someone asked whether when selecting a project we are attracted to a finished project or we are attracted to a technique and then we learn to love the project.

While I can never see myself starting an actual full sized project, no matter how intriguing the technique, without loving the project itself, (unless it was for a gift with very specific requirements),  I often find myself exploring interesting techniques, even if I don’t love the finished project. This exploration sometimes takes the form of a small finished project. After the exploration, I either create a plan for something I love or enjoy the exploration and then move on.

As far as actual projects go, I take one of several routes to selecting a project.

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

1. The usual route is the traditional love at first sight one, I see a project I adore and I must make it. I happily hunt for a great yarn to go with the project and merrily start. Many of my finished projects are of this category. Almost every time I see a finished project for BooKnits’ Sweet Dreams, I have a desire to knit it. I have already knit two and given them away, but I also want to make one for myself (and I don’t make projects multiple times as a rule).

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

2. I discover, either through surfing the web or by playing, a new technique, stitch or idea and I explore it in samples and swatches and then I may start a project (though honestly, after doing several large samples/swatches, I may still be in love with the idea, but feel “been there, done that”). These projects are often smaller and very often are gifts in situations where I have to make many gifts for a group. For Christmas 2012, I made almost 40 scarves as gifts and many of those would fall under this category. Except for this type of gift, these projects often do not get further than the sampling/swatching phase.


Hy Shawl

3. A fabulous yarn sparks a design idea. Then I go the route of samples and swatches (see #2). These projects tend to get finished more often. I am not sure if it is coincidence or if yarn driven projects are more motivating. One example is my Hy Shawl.



Baby Chef's Hat

Baby Chef’s Hat

4. A design idea strikes and I start the design/swatch process with a vengeance and somewhere in there I hunt for the perfect yarn, sometimes after doing a lot of the swatching in advance. These projects sometimes get finished and sometimes not. This Baby Chef’s Hat was a second reworking of the design when I found that the first hat just didn’t look enough like a chef’s hat.

There are undoubtedly other routes I take to choosing projects, but I think most of them would be subcategories or combinations of these four. Please leave a comment on how you chose your next projects, whether, knitting, or something completely different.


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At long last, a 2014 FO!


January has been kind of bizarre, both in terms of life and in terms of knitting. I started the year off with several problem projects that I wanted to address and several planned projects. I have really made little progress on any of those, but have finally finished a project. This was an only vaguely planned project that somehow made it to the front of my queue.

Late last year, a number of people in my knitting group were planning a KAL (knit along) of the Juneberry shawl by Jared Flood. I ad admired the shawl for a long time, but somehow it had never reached my queue. I decided to join in and then promptly relegated the thought to the back of my head. In January, I saw everyone’s progress on the beautiful shawl and decided to launch in, even though I have a ton of projects already on the go (this is so unlike me, HA!).

I decided to use stash yarn, though I really, really wanted to go out and get beautiful, luxurious, yummy yarn to knit this with.  I pulled out what little worsted weight I had in an appropriate quantity and started knitting. One of the members of my group did a lovely i-cord edge and so I followed suit and it really added a lot to the look of the shawl. She, brilliantly, did a faux i-cord and I did a really i-cord where I slipped the stitches on every second row. This was a mistake as the sides of the shawl are not as stretchy as I prefer. I corrected this on the bottom and did two i-cord rows before starting the next row. This worked much better.

I was making great progress and was well on my way to finishing when I got sick and felt so awful that I did not knit for four days!  I slowly started back on knitting as I worked on the shawl and recovered from a nasty flu.

Now, my beautiful, thick, and warm Currantberry shawl is blocking and I get to sit for a few minutes and smile as I take in my first FO of 2014. On to other projects, including the Husband socks that may never be.  But that is another story.


The photo at the top left is the shawl just off the needles, the bottom left is after the shawl has been soaked and spun out and the photo on the right is the shawl blocked and drying.

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Advent Adventure

For the past several years, I have admired and at the same time, thought just a bit crazy, a group of ladies that knit an advent shawl during the first 24 days of December. Gee, do these knit-wits (pun definitely intended) have nothing better to do with their December? Do they not have baking to do, homes to decorate, presents to make or buy and wrap, cooking to do, parties to go to?

Last year, during 2012, I made the 2010 shawl over several months, during the summer. I loved the result. My friend loved the result, so much so, that I gave it to her.

Advent Scarf completed in 2012

This year, I too consider myself a knit-wit, you know, one of those people. In between the baking, making and buying and wrapping of presents, the house decorating, the cleaning, the preparing of food and the parties, I too am knitting the Advent Calendar Shawl, well more of a scarf (I am making mine half width). So far, I am loving it and have been able to keep up. Stay tuned to see if that continues.

You can see my progress and detail photos of each day on my Ravelry project page. Here is a photo of the first 8 days (very quickly dry blocked). Wow, one third of the way done already!

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Random Lace

Over the last year or so, I have become interested in random lace, that is lace knitted without a planned sequence of stitches.  I have a couple of random lace projects on the go.  One, I started months ago, where I did a yo and accompanying k2tog every time any person’s name was mentioned in my audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice. While it is not actually random, it is close enough. I only got a few rows into that project when I started listening to other audiobooks, and the project got set aside.

Recently, I started a side to side, long triangle where, between the edge stitches, I randomly knit yo with paired decreases (k2tog, ssk, and cdd) with 0 to 3 knit stitches between the yos. The yos and their decreases are not necessarily beside one another.

Well over a year ago, I signed up for and watched Myra Wood’s Craftsy class, The Perfect Fit Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan. While I learned a lot in the class and did enjoy it, I did not get what I had really wanted from it: Myra’s take on random lace that she introduced in her book Crazy Lace. That book is unfortunately out of print with no plans for a reprint. You can get copies (as you saw if you clicked on the link above), but almost all of them are over $100.00! After hmmming and hawing for all this time, I ordered the book  through Inter-Library Loans and a few days ago it arrived!

crazy lace cover

I enjoyed reading through it and learning some great new stuff. Myra goes gently for those who are new to lace or new to playing with patterns. As I am neither and one of my joys is creating lace patterns rather than just finding ones in books (though I do that too),  I thought that I could just skip most of the first parts of the book. Boy am I glad I did not!

On page 32, Myra says gives a synopsis of the various ways of increasing, focussing on the yarn over, including double and triple yos, dropped on the next row. What was new for me is that she also gives directions for opening up earlier yos by knitting into them on subsequent rows. This is a great technique.

These techniques got me thinking and I started playing with reverse yos. These (when purled through the front loop on the next row) create smaller holes than do regular yos. Alternatively, doing a regular yo on one row and then purling through the back on the next row will give the same effect.

This page is probably the most unique contribution to my lace knitting knowledge, though there are many other, very valuable tips and interesting facts about lace that I have seen elsewhere. However, I always find that these things bear repetition and it is always valuable to have them said in a different way. It is a great book and if it were more readily available at a reasonable price, I would absolutely buy it.

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