Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Body's Done!

I finished the body of my sweater and added a few short rows on the back before attaching the sleeves for the yoke. That way, the back and neck will be a little higher than the front. I don't like it when I see yoked sweaters that gape open at the sides of the neck and the back neckline is too low.
On the right side (above) you can see the centre front stitches that look like a seam.

They are actually 2 purl stitches (right side) that are done - one at the beginning and end of each round. Turning it inside out, the two-stitch column is easily seen. When I'm done knitting, I will machine-stitch on the outsides of the column thus anchoring all the yarn ends and strands. Then I'll cut between the two stitches to open the front thus creating a cardigan.
I probably could have anchored the middle stitch of the 5 standed 'lice' stitches on the body. We'll see if the ultimately pose a problem (catching on rings, fingers, etc.)  after I block it. I'm hoping they'll 'stick' to the main colour stitches with blocking and wear.

The yellow yarn is holding the dozen stitches under the arm of the body and the sleeves respectively. They resulting holes (live stitches) will be grafted closed after I finish the yoke. I am now using a longer cable to accommodate all the body and sleeve stitches.
When I started the stranding for the yoke, I went up a needle size to 5.5mm and am also knitting it inside out so the floats are at their maximum 'apogee'. There shouldn't be any restriction of the yoke around the shoulders.
When I turned the sweater right side out for the photo, a bunch of stitches came off the needles. With 'sticky' yarn like this it is very easy to pick up the live stitches as they don't run down.

Once I got the yoke pattern established in the first row, The rest of the yoke will be easy to knit. I was only out one stitch when I had finished the first round and was easily able to tink back and make the adjustment at the underarm.

Again, the instructions in the pattern aren't the most clear due to the translation from Icelandic. However, I have knit a couple of other yoked sweaters and the Teddy and all the concepts are transferable.

A sweater with this gauge (18 sts - 10cm/4") has about the same number of stitches as a pair of socks so it really does knit up quickly.

If I were to knit this pattern again, I'd probably do a two or three more ribbed rounds above the coloured stripes on the cuffs to make them a bit deeper. I'd also eliminate the 'lice' stitches.

One trick I did employ was to go down a couple of needle sizes on the needle tip I am knitting from (the one I hold in my left hand) so that there is much less friction as I slide the stitches around the cable. The gauge is created with the working needle so using a smaller needle for the other one won't affect the gauge at all. However, when I did the short rows, I did make sure both tips were the larger size for the back and forth knitting.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Sneaky Knitting

I will be attending a stitching weekend this coming weekend with several members of the Trillium Embroidery Guild.  I have a few stitching projects that I'll be taking but also hope to get some knitting done. I haven't decided if I'll take my spinning wheel.

I saw a beautiful sample of Lisa Hannes' 'Silverleaf' shawl at the Woodstock Fibre Festival (Woolstock).
c. Lisa Hannes
 I raided my stash and found this lovely skein of Riverside Studio 80/20 Superwash Merino/Nylon sock yarn that I thought would work nicely.
There is no colourway on the label but it's a rich blend of reds and oranges.
I won this yarn two years ago at the Needler's Retreat. That's the knitting retreat that I attended with Jen1 and where we met Jen2 and our plans for attending Rhinebeck 2015 together began formulation.

I'm almost done the body of my Icelandic sweater. I hope to do some short rows on the back before starting the yoke section so the neck will sit a little higher. I have a vague idea how to do it and am still doing more research. It will also be attending the stitching retreat with me.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Third Post Today

I finished the second pair of Business Casual socks last week and just today got around to photographing them.
I made them a little bit longer than usual in case they end up being a gift for someone with bigger feet than I have. The pooling of the purple colour works well with the diagonals.
They'll be great to wear with jeans - my fall to spring 'uniform'.
This pattern is SO easy to internalize. I just may knit another pair.

TEG October Meeting

I missed last month's Trillium Embroidery Guild's (TEG) meeting because Skip and I were in Iceland. This month, we selected the threads and fabric for our guild project, an armchair pincushion/scissor holder stitchery caddy. This month we received the pattern template and our task before next meeting (which I'll miss again) is to copy the template onto the stitching fabric. I believe we get the actual pattern next month. It a Mystery Stitch-A-Long (MSAL) and should be quite fun.

At show and tell, I brought my framed garden sampler.
Kathy, a former guild member who is visiting from BC, brought two finished Christmas ornaments.

Bernie displayed the Susan Goodman "Sampling the Snowfall" piece.
I really liked the simplicity and detail of it.

Headless Teddy

Interrupting my progress on my Lopapeysa, I started this teddy bear pattern. I didn't have the Arne and Carlos yarn but found a substitute in my vast sock yarn stash. Fairly short or random colour repeats will work better then long colour repeats.
I am using smaller needles (2.25mm) than the 2.5mm called for in the pattern so the fabric will be very sturdy and not show the fibrefill through the stocking stitch.

One requires at least two sets of dpns/circular needles (or both) or stitch holders as legs are knit separately and set aside then attached together at the crotch (I grafted them) and the remaining stitches are picked up to knit the body. At the underarms, the body is set aside and the arms are knit separately then grafted to the sides of the body, with the rest of the stitches picked up for the upper body - very much like I'll do on the lopapeysa for the yoke.

Once I got to the 'chin' some stitches are put on a holder (horizontal dpn in the photo below) and then the rest of the head is knit back and forth. The pattern doesn't really make this clear other than numbering 'Rows' rather than 'Rounds'.

I should be able to finish the head and start the muzzle in one or two more sessions. For now, it's more or less headless.
I'm looking forward to knitting sweaters for this little guy.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Sweater Progress

I finished the second sleeve of my Lopapeysa
and I've started the body. I used the Italian tubular cast on again. In preparation for steeking, the pattern has me purling two sts in the centre front. I will machine stitch down the outer edges of the two stitches then cut the steek open between the two purled sts - probably from the wrong side.
Once I get the body knit to the underarms. I'll graft the sleeve underarms to the sides of the body tube, then pick up the rest of the sts and begin the bottom of the patterned yoke, going up a needle size to 5.5mm at the same time.
The steek is the beginning of the round so any colour changes are done there and the ends will be secured and trimmed with the steek.

It was sock washing day today. I threw them all in a bucket with a bit of dish soap and soaked them. Then rinsed a couple of times, then threw them in the washer on the final spin cycle. The orange and grey ones on the right with sock blockers in them tend to shrink and felt a bit (Kidazzle sock yarn - 70/20/10 Merino/Mohair/Nylon). The rest seem to not want to shrink or felt at all, probably because none have alpaca in them. I noticed the purple one in the centre back is an orphan. The other is most certainly floating around my bedroom somewhere.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Felting and Starting

I have been attempting to make some order out of chaos of my office/craft room. Yesterday I unearthed a project that I finished knitting 9 years ago and have been waiting to felt. I threw it in the washer with soap and on a hot water setting. I ran it through a couple of times and finished it in the dryer.
I expected it to shrink up  more than it did.
The bottom is round with concentric 'fans'/
I may cut it in half depth-wise and fashion two bags out of it, and stitch a lining with a pocket in it for my cell phone.

Yesterday, Donna and I checked out the Lopi selection at Myrtle Station Wool. Stephanie has a large selection of colours in Alafoss (bulky), Lett-Lopi (Aran), and Einband (lace) weights. She also has lots of Lopi pattern books to peruse. I only looked at a couple before I happened upon this pattern (#11) from Book No. 16 that uses Létt-Lopi.   It looks quite Norwegian with the Setesdal-style 'lice'.
It calls for two blues but I decided to only use one shade. I also substituted a different shade of yellow.
Last night I got this much done on the first sleeve. I am not anchoring the blue 'lice' floats so will be careful until they felt themselves to the background on the inside of the sweater.
I used an Italian tubular 2 x 2 cast-on that was very clearly outlined in this video. It makes for a very clean, stretchy, rolled edge. I'll also use that cast-on for the body of the sweater.
The pattern is translated from Icelandic so some of the knitting terminology requires a bit of imagination. For example, a circular needle is called a 'twin pin'. The steek is referred to as a 'chain' of purl stitches down the centre front. The pattern calls for 2 chain stitches but I'm going to use three for just a bit more width. The term 'welt' is used. I think it refers to the neckband. These patterns are geared for intermediate or experienced knitters as a lot of elements of knitting a bottom-up garment in the round are not clearly laid out. For example, the instructions say to cast on x number of stitches with the 'twin pin' but does not specify to join in the round for the first row. I knew to do that but a less-experienced/less-confident knitter might not know to do that. I did the ribbing with a 4mm needle instead of 3.75mm as called for in the pattern.

Also, I usually do a sleeve first as there is less to rip out if gauge adjustments need to be made - as opposed to casting on and knitting all those stitches for the body and having to rip it out.

Last night, I knit almost all of the first of 8 grey balls of yarn. The sleeves are very wide but the sweater is meant to be more of a jacket. I also read that using hair conditioner when soaking to block  and not rinsing it out softens the yarn significantly.

I can't wait to get back to it...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Summary of our Iceland Trip

After the red-eye flight, we were able to get into our hotel room at 8am. Thank goodness. The Hotel Skuggi (pron. skooki and means 'shadow' in Icelandic) was very similar to a boutique hotel that we enjoy back home. On the wall was a quote from a book of Icelandic scenery that was in the room for our perusal. Skip and I very much enjoyed having our own respective duvets and made a mental note to adopt this practice back at home.
The bathroom was pristine. The towels hung on a heated drying rack which was very handy when we wanted to dry our swimwear after our visit to the Blue Lagoon the next day.

After the breakfast buffet and a nap, we headed out on foot to explore Reykjavik. Our hotel was one block over from the main, busy street leading to downtown. We were within easy walking distance of the iconic Hallgrímskirkja - the tall, modern, Lutheran church. In front is a monument to Leif Eriksson commemorating his arrival in Iceland in 930AD. 

We were SO glad to have arrived the day before our tour so we could get our bearings, explore Reykjavik on our own The next day, we learned the bus would be picking our group up at 3pm to take us to the Blue Lagoon - the big, outdoor thermal spa. We were there for 2 hours.
Photo by Lintern@ute.com

The water is naturally hypersalinated so all one had to do was lift their feet off the bottom and buoyancy would occur. There was a place to get some silica mud to put on our faces. There was also a swim-up bar where one could purchase a beverage for about $12 CDN. As we had been warned, everything in Iceland was really expensive there. Fortunately, most of our meals on the tour and of course the cruise were covered.

The next morning we headed to þingvellir (Thingvellir) the site of the first parliament established in the world in 930AD. The site was chosen for its acoustics and location on the island. Here 36 chieftains represented the new migrants to Iceland. 
These are the remains of the first prime minister's residence.

It is also the rift valley between the tectonic plates  between Europe and North America. 

Fred was really taking in all the historical significance. Here's an aerial photo of the valley between the two continental plates.
Photo from Lintern@ute.com

Then we drove down to Selfoss in the south of the country where we spent the night in yet another luxury hotel. We and the three other busloads plus other guests dined in one big dining room. At the nearby grocery store, I was thrilled to note an entire aisle devoted to yarn. 

Our room also had a view of the nearby waterfall (foss). At the desk, we could sign up to be called if the Northern Lights appeared. Unfortunately it was overcast so we never got a call.

The next day we drove up the centre of Iceland to the north area on the largest desert in Europe and on unpaved road. Oh yeah, and it was pouring rain.

It was desolate, lava-covered countryside with no vegetation other than the odd clump of plants about 2" high.

This really shows the terrain that went on for hours across what is referred to as a 'desert' - in fact, the largest in Europe.

We were a tour group of 4 buses. Here we stopped to stretch our legs and take some photos.
In the distance we could see snowy mountains and volcanoes.
 There was one comfort stop after 2 hours in the middle of nowhere. Then off we headed again. We only met a couple of cars on the road for the entire 4 hours. Evidently people renting cars have to sign something saying they will not go on that road. Finally we arrived in Akureyri (pop. 18000) where we were meeting our ship. As we approached town, we saw our ship coming into port.

Akureyri is a very cute town with a nice shopping area.
The streets in the city centre are one-way and one lane. The rest is for pedestrians.
Icelanders love their fairies and trolls. These had been yarn-bombed and were in front of a lovely store that sold lots of different Icelandic knitted goods.
The modern church was at the top of the hill beside the hotel where we all gathered for dinner.
We spent the night in Akureyri then did some more touring around the area visiting geysers and waterfalls - taking in the beautiful scenery.

After boarding the ship and going through the lifeboat drill, we went out on the deck to see the landscape on the Isafjord.

After dinner, we went into the lounge for the orientation talk about the ship and our port the next day. During the talk, someone yelled 'WHALES' and we all beetled to our cabins to get our coats and go out on the deck. Sure enough, just 100 feet from the ship, humpback whales were diving and spouting.
That night was VERY rough after leaving the fjord and being on the open Greenland Sea. After I got some Gravol (dramamine) into Skip, I couldn't sleep because I was worried about him, he was snoring loudly, and the creaking of the ship was very loud. 

The next morning after docking, the excursion I'd booked was cancelled due to weather so I got to go back to bed while Skip and Alexa (the friend who was on the same tour) booked a bus tour around the area. I felt MUCH better after sleeping most of the morning away. 

That night, we both took Gravol and slept very well even though the seas were very rough again. We were north of the Arctic Circle then headed to the west fjords area through the Denmark Strait (a misnomer as it really is the strait between Iceland and Greenland (300km away). 

WE did a tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, saw more waterfalls, 
and volcanic remnants along the sea,

Some sampled fermented shark (not me) at a quaint place that had an old fishing boat on display, 
a very cute and friendly Icelandic sheep dog,

and had a picnic lunch in a beautiful, spot on the edge of the ocean. 

Back on the ship, we had another rough night for our sail back to Reykjavik. Gravol again was our friend and we both slept like babies. I really like the rocking and rolling of the shop so found that very comforting in our cozy cabin. We disembarked the next morning at 8:30 and had 'til 1 to explore more of Reykjavik before the bus would take us to the airport for our 5pm flight. We walked all over the place and had lunch at the Thai place we had found earlier in the trip. 

Our flight home was uneventful and we got our car at the park and fly, drove towards home, had dinner and got home by 10pm.