Saturday, December 31, 2005

Toasting the New Year with Crochet?

Father Christmas (that is, the English branch of the family) brought me a copy of the marvellous and insane book Knitorama.

It's even more absurd than the review in Bust had lead me to believe. Not a single sensible pattern in the entire book. Fried eggs, sandwiches, speaker covers, and mohair underpants.

And the masterpiece -- a crocheted pint of stout. I've been meaning to learn to crochet for a while now, but haven't really had any incentive. Until now.

It was slow going to start, and not just because I ignored my own rule and started with black yarn. International terminology differences ahoy! A UK DC is US SC. That is, what my grandmother taught me was a double crochet is what the North Americans call a single crochet.
At least in knitting the names of the stitches are the same.

I'm pleased to pick up crochet, as I can truly follow in Hilda's footsteps. She made the most wonderful Granny blankets. Simple crocheted blankets from leftover yarns. I have one of the two that remain... I can identify various sweaters from my childhood in the yarns.

A perfect use for all the Kureyon leftovers I'll have after the Vass Variation is done.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Works in Progress, and Work Abandoned

A Fleece Artist sock. Just one so far. This is my current portable knitting.

This is lovely, lovely sock yarn. I hope it wears well. It's 100% Merino, no nylon for reinforcement.

Another story with the vintage poncho thingy, a sadder tale. Lesson learned re: using handpainted yarns. These looked the same to me in the skein, but they're really very different worked up. The one on the left is bluer, the one on the right is yellower. Harumph.

I shall unravel the pieces and contemplate another use for the 5 skeins I have of this stuff. Argh.
I'm not interested in starting again with the old "2 row stripes" of this yarn. I know that would help with the colours, but I have grown weary of the pattern.

So, a summary of WIPs...
Portable knitting: Fleece Artist socks
At home knitting: Vass-Not-Very-Varied
Design brewing: a dog sweater in a novelty yarn

The Vass-Not-So-Much-Variation

Progress -- I've started working the sleeves. Pretty pleased with how the stripes are coming out so far.

I've noticed this working with Noro yarns. The dominant colour effect isn't always what you expect it to be. It is very, very purply-blue right now. I expect that to change over time, as I introduce the brighter colourways.

I'm making some manual "edits" on the yarns to ensure that the colours work the way I want. I abandoned a small portion of both of the two balls I used for the body, so that I wasn't getting repeats on the colours. The full Kureyon colourway seems to be roughly the length of the ball, so that as you near the end you may encounter a repeated stripe.

But yeah, I think it looks kinda neat.

Monday, December 26, 2005

FO - The Other Felted Bag

The Galway felted bag, in all its pinky glory.

Holy pain-in-the-butt to assemble, though, Batman. I spent more time sewing up than I did knitting it. Some important lessons were learnt about the nature of felted pieces, though, and I feel stronger for it.

Pattern will be available at the Sheep, come January.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Vass Variation - Not So Much Anymore

I ripped it back and have started again -- with the original design. But I did make it smaller -- aiming for 38" or so bust, rather than the 49 1/2" of the original pattern.

So not so much of a variation anymore.

But the colour choices are mine!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Vass Variation - Progress and Doubts

I've got the first ball knit, and it does look great.

Some doubts arose, however, in the middle of the night. (I'll blame Nigella's Bread-Sauce Scented Potato Gratin. Which is, by the way, delicious, if difficult to explain to someone who wasn't brought up in the UK.)

I'll relieved to report that in the harsh light of morning my panic about the cables was for nought. It had only just occurred to me I would have to possibly change the cable twist direction once I was "over the top" and heading down the back. And then I was concerned that because I'd be grafting together cables that had been worked in opposite directions, they might not look the same. The good news is that you can't tell the difference, and I wouldn't even need to change the direction of the cable twist.

I'm now not sure about the colour progression, though.

I did the math yesterday on when I will need to introduce a new ball and force a colour change. The body (up to the armhole break) will take just shy of four balls, and the sleeve portion just shy of 6. So here's the thing. I've got 2 each of 5 different colourways that form a lovely 5-ball colour progression.

The original plan had been that I work them in order 1 2, 3, 4, 5 up to the neck and then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 back down. With that, each colour from each ball will appear precisely once on the front and the back. (If you recall I decided not to do that to eliminate the seams and possible non-matching stripes on the sides.) (Also recall that the colours of Kureyon I've chosen have non-repeating colourways -- that is, each colour appears in each ball precisely once.)

To use the balls I have in the circular variation, I'm going to have to do it as follows: 1, 1, 2, 2, up to the armhole break, then 3, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3 up and over the neck to the back. But this means that colours from colourways 1 and 2 will repeat.

The alternative is to rip it out and go back to the original design, and live with the possible mismatched stripes at the side seams. I'll be able to control this relatively well in that I'll be able to match up the number of rows from each ball and therefore be lining up the same colourway, at least.

Maybe I should just relax, huh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

On Fur and Phur

Related to the Mukluk-along.

We've been discussing possible substitutions for the trim yarn. The original pattern calls for a wonderful but very $$$ faux-fur, Plymouth Foxy.

Delana and I have been blogging merrily about finding an appropriate fur, and buying a fur cuff to sew on instead of the Foxy.

I read a reader comment, from mm, who said "Gotta do it without the fur though". Got me thinking. I tend to use the term "fur" to mean any fabric or textile or whatever with hair hanging off it -- animal-based or no. I wonder if people understand my usage that way?

I won't buy or wear "real" fur. And I won't knit with the stuff.

Politics aside, we simply don't need to.

The "fake" furs -- i.e. non-animal-sourced -- are so wonderful that there is no reason to use or wear anything else. The colours, textures and effects are amazing. And the stuff is warm.

But more to the point, there's a lot of them around, these non-animal furs. It seems to me that popular usage might well be changing... the term "fur" doesn't necessarily imply anything about the source of the material these days.

Certainly, I didn't mean I was going to trim these felted mukluks with real animal hair. I wouldn't dream of it.

Perhaps we should call it "phur" for clarity.

Almost a Bag!

Just some sewing up left to do. And a toggle to find. But it looks like a bag.

I'm quietly pleased with myself on this, as there were a number of hurdles to overcome along the way:

  • mastering two-handed stranding
  • coping with tension issues
  • the size of the piece was too small (due to above tension issues)
  • and then one of the round ends turned out to not be round after I cut it out

But I prevailed! And I have a rather elegant looking felted bag as my reward.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Another Felted Bag, and A New Technique

I've been working on a felted bag design for the Sheep, using the Galway of which I've become recently fond. (This is not the houndstooth bag, no. I'm not sure I'd force that project on anyone else.)

The body of the bag was easy, no issues.

Lots of things to think about, though, for the handles. Thick or thin? How long? Is this a handbag or a shoulder bag? I'm not a fan of what I call elbow-length handles (you know, ones that aren't long enough to go over your shoulder so you end up carrying it over your bent arm. Although Liza tells me that everyone is carrying their bag like that in New York right now, my elbows just aren't up to the demands of fashion.)

It didn't seem like i-cord would produce a handle substantial enough for the bag, so I decided to knit a 12-stitch round.

What a huge pain in the butt. 12 stitches on dpns. And of course, I only had the size I needed in metal, which made for a slippery jangly mess.

And again, the wisdom of Abby came to my rescue.

Tubular -- a.k.a. double -- knitting. Knitting in the round on straight needles. It's the coolest thing.

Here's how it works... cast on 12 stitches, normally. *K1, yfwd slip 1 purwise; repeat from * to end of row.
Work every row the same.

What you're doing is working alternate sides of the tube. It takes two rows to complete the round. And as long as you keep the yfwd sl1p perfect, you get an actual tube.

The end stitches aren't as neat as the rest, so this is best for an application that's going to lie flat. Perfect for handles for a felted bag, for example. Or a scarf. Or -- hey -- Teva Durham's double knit vest in Loop-D-Loop about which I've been obsessing since I first got the book. (Focus, girl, the Noro sweater comes first.)

Abby, thank you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Mukluk-along

Because I can't not. Join us!

Silly but warm -- my favourite type of project for January.

The Vass Variation - Planning the Colour Progression

Had a long chat with Abby about this recently, over a glass of wine and some Christmas treats.

I've spent a couple of days lining up the 10 different colourways of Kureyon to choose a relatively natural progression of colour changes, but was running into an issue. I'd been envisioning a colour progression going up from the lower front and gradually changing through related colourways. The "graft in the middle of the back" scenario causes a problem, though. Although I'll get a nice colour progression up the body and to the front neck opening, if I continue with the progression as planned I'll get a "conflict" where the back sleeves are joined to the body.

We came up with a solution. I'll work the body through a colour progression (see above), but as soon as I divide up to work the upper front flat, I'll change the rules. At the changeover point from circular to flat, I'll change to a new colourway. I'll track the colourways I use up to the neck, and then work the same sequence in reverse back down again to the back graft point. For example, assuming it takes two balls to work from middle front to the neck, call them A and B, I'll work B and then A down from the neck to the middle back.

Makes sense?

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Wow. My houndstooth piece after a single run in a hot wash in with a bit of soap.

I'm overjoyed with the result. Now to make it into a bag. I have definitively decided on the roll -- it's just so much more chic and outside the norm.

Post-felting dimensions:

Rectangle: 26cm/10" wide, 63cm/26" long
Handles: 30cm/12" long
Loop: 26cm/10" long

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Learn How to Knit"

I don't have a cent this Christmas usual it seems
So I'm going to learn how to knit

I'll knit you a sweater
I'll knit you a scarf
I'll knit you a cigarette holder

I'll knit you an airplane to fly and meet me here
I'll knit you the nicest taxi cab to pick you up from the airport when you get in

I'll knit you some mittens
I'll knit you some socks
I'll knit you a cigarette holder
I'll knit you the perfect Christmas feast for us to share
I'll knit you a setting sun that seagulls fly behind on the water

I'll knit you a blanket
I'll knit you a shawl
I might not knit anything at all
If my clumsy hands don't learn to knit by Christmas day
Would you still invite me by to celebrate the day in the morning
If all I brought was a kiss

(c) Hawksley Workman, 2001
Buy the CD from my friends at MapleMusic.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Not-Yet-Felted Bag

So here they are... the pieces to be felted. The body, two handles (well, ok, the other is still on the needles) and a toggle loop.

Still waffling on which bag design to do. Although I like the shape of the roll bag, I'm not sure I like the way it's assembled. The pattern book suggests blanket stitching, which I feel it rather fights with the dainty, structured look of the bag.

In the interests of science, the dimensions pre-felting are as follows:

37.5 cm/15 inches wide, 85 cm/34 inches long

Handles, each:
40 cm/16 inches long, 2.5 cm/1 inch wide

Toggle loop:
33 cm/13 inches long, 1 cm or so wide

BTW, the big rectangle is actually supposed to be 45 cm/18 inches wide . Which does indeed provide a wonderful illustration that tension of stranded colourwork does not necessarily equal the tension of the same yarn knit singly.

Christmas Knitting

It's December, and you know what that means. Knitters everywhere are rushing to finish their gift-knitting.

Except me.

I don't knit gifts. Not worth it. Too much work (especially when I've got a hundred design projects underway), and I hate the idea that something I've put so much love into might not be appreciated.

Ok, last year I gave my niece a Kureyon scarf. I had originally made it for myself but wasn't keen on how the colours had come out. But that doesn't count because I'd made it for me and I'd finished it in October.

In all my years as knitter, I've only ever given a single purpose-made hand-knitted Christmas gift.

It was 1997. Wyla had been on vacation in Scotland with her sister, and she'd fallen and suffered a very nasty spiral fracture of her arm and shoulder.

I bought the most lovely pink mohair with a thread of silver through it, surfed the web (yes, way back then) for some design ideas, and created a garter-stitch shawl with an openwork border. My goal was to create something to keep her arm warm and comfy as it healed.

I wouldn't describe it as sophisticated, and I know it didn't match the quality of work Wyla herself could produce. But I wrapped it up and gave it to her.

Sometime the following year we visited them, and I saw the shawl draped casually over the chair Wyla sat in to watch TV.

It was worth it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

To be hung with care.... Christmas Stocking

2 x 100g Needful Yarn’s Van Dyck (sample uses colour 247)
1 x 50g Needful Yarn’s Santa Ana (sample uses colour 4156)
6mm 40cm/16 inch circular needle
6mm dpns
stitch holder
stitch markers

Follow my Knitty sock template for a 50-stitch sock. (As my University professors would say, the details are left as an exerise for the student.)

Work the leg for 30cm/12 inches.

Turn the heel, and work the foot until it's 20cm/8 inches long. Decrease for the toe fast, every round.

For the trim:
Turn the sock inside out. Pick up and knit 56 stitches around the cast-on edge with the Santa Ana. Work 12.5cm/5 inches in stocking stitch. Turn the stocking right side out again, fold the trim over so that the knit side is out, and whip-stitch to stocking body to secure.

Make an i-cord hook with the Van Dyck.

Hang, and wait patiently.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Stocking

It's a giant sock. I don't know why this hadn't occured to me before... a Christmas Stocking is a giant sock.

To accompany the Santa Hat, I'm making a stocking. Using Van Dyck again, but much smaller needles. The fabric should be dense to hold up to the weight of the oranges and chocolates it will need to hold.

Pics to follow, but it's essentially a 50-stitch sock on 6mm dpn (a 40cm/16 inch circular works, too). The leg is 30cm/12 inches or so long. I did about 3cm/1 inch of k1p1 ribbing at the top because I'm planning to create a trim out of the same Santa Ana I used for the Hat. But if you want a plain sock, you'd need about 10cm/4 inches for visual balance.

I discovered is that a proportional foot looks odd, so keep the foot to about 20cm/8 inches or so before you decrease the toe, and do the decreases quickly -- every round seems to work.

I haven't got to the trim yet, but I'll probably do it the same way I do the trim on mitten cuffs. Pick up stitches partway down the leg, and work up a tube long enough to be folded over into the leg. Details once it's done.

Make a hook out of 15cm/6 inches of 4-stitch i-cord... fold in half and attach to top, just inside the cuff.

"You've Got Red On You" - More Zombies

It was only a matter of time. Shaun of the Dead.