March 27, 2008

First time for everything

For one day (and one day only) I really wish I were in Toronto. This whole scavenger hunt thing is going to be Big Fun and I'm bummed that I don't get to play along. The city isn't going to know what hit it. Perhaps I'll see if I can't stage a few of these pictures here in Grenoble. We have a hockey team.

As hinted in my last post, I really am starting a sweater. Not a first, but certainly a rarity in recent years. I have decided on a light cardigan which I'm hoping will provide for use in a few seasons. The yarn is a wool/synthetic blend and superwash no less. Not something I probably would have considered at home, but when in France.....

I love the sheen and softness though as well as the colour, which is a lovely soft neutral vanilla.

It's not quite the weight the pattern calls for but it's very close. I got gauge no problem in my swatch. Suspiciously easily in fact: on my first try. This worries me slightly (it shouldn't be this easy) but I did a good size swatch, no cheating or stretching. We'll see. I was slightly consoled when I realised that achieving gauge on this needle size meant that I did not have with me the needles I will need for the sleeves or the front band. So perhaps having to order those to be shipped to Canada and then sent on to me will be vexing enough to appease the knitting goddesses and save me from a gauge incident later in the project.

Tomorrow I cast on. To add another first, I'll be using my harmony interchangeable needles for the first time. I think I've finally found a big project I can get motivated about.

March 25, 2008

Done and done

The birthstone socks were, in fact, done on Easter. Okay it was Easter Monday, but I've decided that it still counts. They turned out beautifully. A fortuitous meeting of yarn and pattern. Here they are fresh off the needles, unblocked and not showing to full potential.

V's Birthstone Socks
pattern: Hedera by Cookie A.
Fleece Artist Basic Merino in Amethyst

Overall I really did enjoy working on them. I finally decided that the problem I had sticking with them came down to the lace element. I like knitting lace, and I like knitting socks, but I knit them in entirely different situations. The combination meant that I needed an additional, plainer sock project for my traditional sock moments.

Speaking of plainer socks, the Serious Hiking socks are also finished. It was a productive week. Not least because the weather here, in these first days of spring, has been absolutely wintry. This pair has already had a trial in the weekend snow.

I have some thoughts about these socks, but I'm going to save that for another post. I may write up the pattern properly and offer it free here at some point. Anyone interested? There don't seem to be a lot of heavier weight sock patterns out there at the moment.

The clouds did lift for a time today and all the snow had a highly picturesque effect on the mountains. Alas it seems that there is more weather to come and thoughts of spring knits remain far off. However the Spring Interweave has finally arrived and the weather will catch up eventually. And there is a sweaters worth of yarn on my coffee table, just waiting to be wound.

March 19, 2008

Half way?

I've been knitting on the second birthstone sock almost exclusively [I took the hiking socks to knitting group on Tuesday, I can't work the lace and carry on a conversation at the same time] since Monday morning. And this is all I have to show for it.

The leg and heel flap are complete. Next is the fiddly bits and the long rounds (nearly 100 stitches at the start of the gusset decreases). I may make it. May.

I'm giving up a couple of hours of knitting time tomorrow happily: I'm off to a yarn shop with Yvette. I haven't bought yarn at all since I've been in France, so I think I can justify a little treat. Perhaps I'll have some pr0n for Friday.

March 17, 2008

No snakes here

The first birthstone sock is done, finally. When I started this project (February 27, according to Ravelry) I thought I could have the pair finished by Easter, no problem. They've been dragging on a bit, clearly. In fact I let them languish for a couple of days last week, needing only a few rows before the toe, without touching them once.

What? How do you celebrate?

I love everything about these socks, but more often than not when I sit down to knit for a bit these days I seem to be reaching for something a little more mindless. It's a sign (I'm sure) of where my mind is these days. Life seems complicated enough.

I'm not a slow knitter, but lace isn't my strongest event. And I haven't been working on these enough to get into the rhythm necessary to gain speed. It's less than a week now until Easter, if I really crack down and apply myself can I have the second sock knit by then? And should I even try or is this an invitation to cranky, squinty madness? Hmmmm.

The cold, grey rain returned on the weekend and we've been reaching for wool socks and hats yet again. It seems that spring is slow to come in a lot of places this year. As a consolation I definitely earned my Proselytize Knitting badge last night while wandering (through the drizzle) back from the pub and explaining to my compatriots why wet wool isn't cold.

If St. Patrick's Day has you thinking of cables and twists you can get a wonderful vest pattern and help fund important research at the same time. Visit Kirsten at Through the Loops to find out more.

There's an Alp back there somewhere...

March 10, 2008

Noro Hero Hat

I wasn't sure I would, but I really like this hat!

Saartje's Noro Hat
pattern here
Noro Kureyon 149

It was easy to knit without being boring. Saartje says that she used a little over one skein of Kureyon but mine took closer to two (both of which had the Noro standard one knot to mess up the striping). I'm actually pleased with the way the striping worked out here, though it was utterly by chance.

And Himself likes it too! He's been wearing it everywhere. I suspect (hope?) it will be too warm here for wooly hats soon, but this one will be tucked away safely for next Autumn. There are some really lovely examples in Silk Garden popping up on Ravelry as well...maybe I'll make one for myself by then.

my hero

March 7, 2008


Winter is having a last gasp here in the Alps and the cold (really cold!) wind blowing down the mountain has pushed thoughts of cute summery sweaters right out of my mind. This week we were back to winter scarves and extra layers to keep warm and I was reminded that I had promised Adam a pair of thick hiking socks.

I have knit many pairs of these socks before. They use a worsted weight wool, so they usually work up really quickly but with this pair I have decided to take some time to tweak and properly record the pattern. When I first knit socks at this weight, I think I used Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern for Woodsman's Socks. The number of stitches I cast on has remained the same, but little else.

Funny looking objects to be sure, but they really are warm and durable and they're meant to go inside one's hiking boots, where high fashion is (happily) not the primary concern.

I'm still knitting pretty socks too, having completed the heel on the first birthstone sock. Progress on these is steady but feels slow. I like working on them - the lace pattern is nicely absorbing and the yarn is lovely in every way - but after a few repeats I have to take a break. I can't get into a rhythm on them.

As a quick comparison of these photos might suggest, a couple of days ago both of these socks hit the fiddly heel bit at around the same time. In the future I must try to keep something at a non-fiddly stage at all times. I wouldn't usually have two pairs of socks on the go at once, but the knitting of these (fiddly heel bits aside) is completely different.

The cold weather here has given me the opportunity to observe the cold weather accessories of the locals (they're a well accessorised people, the French). Scarves are very big and I've spotted a number in the past few days that I'd swear were hand knit. Yet knitting is not very popular here at all, especially among younger women. Are there still French grannies out there somewhere knitting for their families? Or are these insanely pricey designer scarves that are being churned out in a factory somewhere? Even at designer prices hand knitting seems unlikely, is the new trend in machine knitting to look more like hand knitting? Curious. Knit hats are also very popular, though these seem to be machine made. I will never, ever be able to wear a knit hat (no matter the pattern) as chicly as a Frenchwoman. Oh well.

I am going to order yarn for a big project this weekend, so something other than socks should appear in this space fairly soon. And won't that make for a nice change?

March 3, 2008


I finished the waffle socks a week or so ago, but didn't manage to get decent photos of them until this weekend.

These were largely made up as I went along. As you can probably tell they're a little too tight across the instep. Adam's feet are widest right at the ball there, and I didn't compensate enough in the pattern. Also I'm not entirely happy with the gusset decreases. Happily they're still good, wearable socks - and I know what I'll do differently next time.

I can give a good report on the yarn though. It's the Elann Sock it to Me 4 ply, which is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon with 210m to 50g. It's not very soft in the ball, but it wasn't unpleasant to work with and the twist is nice and tight. Washing the finished objects made a huge difference, they came out nicely soft and sproingy. I have 2 more pairs worth of this yarn and may buy more.

We saw the finished boot socks of betrothal already, but they look a lot better with feet in them.

I really liked this pattern, both the working and the end product, and would knit it again (though perhaps not on a deadline). The pattern called for 2.75mm needles and I went down to a 2.25mm. I nearly always need to go down, but I think in this case I would have been better off trying a 2.5mm. The firm, cabled fabric isn't all that elastic.

The Noro hat is done as well, but it may be the weekend before I can have it modeled in the manner it deserves. There has been some suggestion that winter is on the way back to our Alpine valley this week, so wooly hats might be just the thing.