Saturday, December 29, 2007
I had decided that I was ready to take on the challenge of lace knitting in black. Turns out I simply wasn't ready for this particular challenge.
I chose Lace Wings because it's a simple pattern -- a 7-stitch repeat with increases in the centre and at both edges.
It's a nice design...
... but it was driving me insane. I was using stitch markers to divide the repeats -- and by the time I'd got about 12 inches in length, I had four million stitch markers on the go. Tiny yarn, slow going, and a million repeats. I could have probably tried to work it without the markers, but by the time I was frustrated enough to start thinking about ripping it out, I had decided that I didn't want a triangle shawl anyway. God knows I've knitted enough, and never actually used any of them. I have a few lying around the house, I've given a couple away. I've even worked one and ripped it out and swapped the yarn for coffee.
So I ripped Lace Wings out.
My next challenge: finding a rectangular lace design for this yarn. I have 850 yds. Hmm...
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
It's a variation of my own gauntlet pattern, worked in the round, with a longer section worked for the hand. (My hands get very very cold.)
Anything strike you about the picture? The pilling, perhaps? These are less than 2 weeks old. I've worn them relatively often, but it's not like I'm sleeping in them. They're pilling fairly aggressively.
I have officially fallen out of love with Mission Falls 1824. It feels great, no question, and is warm and comes in great colours, and is very affordable. But it pills like nobody's business.
I worked a gansey in the same yarn in the spring of 2001. I'll try to dig it out and take a pic. Barely a pill on it. The yarn was a dream to work with. I declared it my favourite aran weight.
When I decided to knit Rogue in the summer of 2005, I immediately thought of 1824. My heart broke when they told me the company had shut down in the interim. I'm not clear on the details, all I know is that my beloved yarn was no longer available.
I went through three or four different yarns, swatching madly -- nothing was quite right. Couldn't get gauge, didn't like the colour, didn't like the feel. And then, lo and behold! 1824 was back. The company had reopened.
I bought a bagful, swatched once more, and then went to work. The rest is history.
I haven't dared admit this to myself -- let alone anyone else -- but I'm not happy with it. It pills a lot. Distressingly so. This is bad for any knitting, IMHO, but a disaster for an item where the cables and texture are the key.
The gauntlets have confirmed it. Mission Falls -- you've changed, and I am sad to say that I no longer love you.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Read it, and giggle nervously with self-recognition and maybe a little bilt of envy that you didn't hear about it early enough to get involved...
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Case in point:
J. is working on Rosedale. It's a terrific design, Mum's knitted it, and the result was great.
Now, this is absolutely not a criticism of Amy and her design. The pattern is marked as "Piquant" - meaning that it's considered to be challenging, targeted at a knitter with some experience.
When you're targeting a knitter with experience, you can take shortcuts with the instructions... Let's look at how Amy wrote up the instructions for the corrugated ribbing:
To work Corrugated Rib:
Work in K2, P1 rib using two balls of yarn. Work knit sts with first ball and purl sts with second ball.All well and good. That is, if you've worked an uneven rib before...
J. has really come on strong with her knitting, and has successfully worked a variety of projects. I quickly looked at the pattern and figured that she'd have no difficulty -- no complex pattern stitches, a bit of entirely manageable intarsia, and a great intro to raglan shaping.
She got really stuck on the ribbing, though. It took me a while to figure out why... It was that she hadn't worked an uneven rib before. She's worked k1 p1, and k2 p2, and each time it's been on a design that had the number of stitches engineered so that you work both right and wrong side the same way...
That is, the k1 p1 rib was worked on an even number of stitches, so both right and wrong side start with a k1. And the k2 p2 was worked on a number of stitches divisible by 4, again, so that right and wrong sides both start with a k2.
So J.'s experience of ribbing is that both sides are the same.
Rosedale's body ribbing doesn't work that way... On the right side, it's k2 p1 k2 p1... ending with a k2. And therefore on the wrong side, it's p2 k1 p2 k1... ending with a p2.
Since Amy hasn't written out the rows, J. made what seemed like a reasonable assumption, that both rows are to be worked the same. She could tell something was wrong once she started working it, but couldn't figure out what because the extra yarn was obscuring the shape of the stitches.
Took us a while to figure it out, mostly because I was debugging over email and the phone. We did it, though! I recommended she work a small swatch of k2 p1 ribbing with a single colour before she switch to two colours. All it took was a couple of rows and she was good to go.
A very humbling reminder about making assumptions in pattern writing, particularly when something is *slightly* out of the ordinary.
As this is going on, I see a link to the project of my nerdy dreams...
KnitML A standard language for knitting patterns. W00T!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
It's a good hat, kinda cute, and a nice demonstration of the magic of circular knitting -- not a single purl stitch. It knits up incredibly quickly, too.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine produced a baby. The skein of yarn chosen for this hat design has sufficient to make two hats -- one remains at the shop as a sample, the other went to my friend.
I don't know why this sort of thing continues to surprise me, but my friend reported to me that the hat is terrific -- fits well but isn't too tight, is warm but not scratchy, and looks very fetching on Hunter's little noggin.
The pattern has forthwith been renamed "Hunter's Hat". The yarn is an excellent organic wool/cotton blend that comes in yummy, baby-appropriate ice creamy sorts of colours. Substitute any worsted weight yarn.
1 50 gm skein O Wool Balance - one skein makes two hats
OR 1 50 gm ball Mission Falls 1824 wool -- one ball of this makes one hat
4mm needles – long double-pointed needles; optional – a 12”/30cm or 16”/40cm circular
Fits 0-6 months - 36cm/14 inches circumference
20 stitches and 28 rows over 10cm/4 inches square in the round using 4mm needles.
Cast on 72 stitches.
Join for working in the round. If you’re working on a circular needle, place a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.
Work in stocking stitch -- that is, knitting every round -- until hat measures 10cm/4 inches from lower edge. Don't unroll it to measure!
Decrease for crown:
Round 1: *K2tog, k10; repeat from * to end of round. 66 stitches.
Round 2: *K2tog, k9; repeat from * to end of round. 60 stitches.
Round 3: *K2tog, k8; repeat from * to end of round. 54 stitches.
Round 4: *K2tog, k7; repeat from * to end of round. 48 stitches.
Round 5: *K2tog, k6; repeat from * to end of round. 42 stitches.
Round 6: *K2tog, k5; repeat from * to end of round. 36 stitches.
Round 7: *K2tog, k4; repeat from * to end of round. 30 stitches.
Round 8: *K2tog, k3; repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Round 9: *K2tog, k2; repeat from * to end of round. 18 stitches.
Round 10: *K2tog, k1; repeat from * to end of round. 12 stitches.
Round 11: *K2tog; repeat from * to end of round. 6 stitches.
Round 12: *K2tog; repeat from * to end of round. 3 stitches.
Break yarn and pull through final stitches to close. Weave in ends to finish.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
There are other details which shall not be revealed, but a lot of the design is worked in k4 p4 rib.
And I'm having an enormous amount of difficulty with it. I keep messing up. I can manage k1 p1 with no problems, and k2 p2 just as easily. And k3 p1 I do a lot of, as it's the basis of my ribbed socks....
but k4 p4 is just plain hard. I keep working too many knits or purls. Is it that four stitches is too far... that I mess up because my fingers don't remember how far along I am in the four? Is this evidence of some kind of knitter's ADD?
It does looks nice, though....
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
For the first time EVER I've actually knitted someone a gift. Ok, so it's leftover yarn from another project, using a pattern I was editing, and I'd already asked the giftee if he would want and/or need such an item.
But still, it's Christmas knitting.
I'm typically against Christmas knitting.... I've usually got other stuff on the go, designs samples or what-have-you.
And to be honest, there aren't enough people on my list who would appreciate the work that goes into a hand-knitted item. But this gift is going to someone who will.
Plus it is pretty small.
Photos to follow.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The Spun site has gone, so by popular demand here is my Basic Ribbed Sock pattern.
This sock design was developed as a solution to two problems: socks with a plain stocking-stitch leg tend to fall down, and I find k1p1 ribbing tedious.
100 gm sock yarn – the samples used Fleece Artist’s Merino Sock yarn. This pattern works for any sock yarn with a 28-30 stitch gauge
1 set of 2.5mm double-pointed needles
32 stitches, unstretched, across 4 inches/10cm in K3 P1 rib with 2.5mm needles.
Cast 60 stitches onto a single needle. Distribute stitches evenly across 3 needles. Join, being careful not to twist.
Work 15 cm/6 inches of K3 P1 ribbing, as follows:
Round 1: *K3, p1; repeat from * to end of round. Repeat this for every round.
This portion is worked flat in plain stocking stitch.
Knit first 27 stitches. Put remaining 33 stitches onto a holder. Starting with a purl row, work 21 rows of stocking stitch, slipping the first stitch of every row. The right side is facing for next row.
RS: Knit 18 stitches, SKP, turn
WS: Slip 1, purl 9 stitches, p2tog, turn
RS: Slip 1, knit 9 stitches, SKP, turn
Repeat last two rows until all stitches have been worked. Ensure right side is facing for next row. 11 stitches remain on the needle.
Re-establish Round and Create Gusset:
Knit all heel stitches. Using that same needle, pick up and knit 15 stitches along selvedge edge at side of heel, using slipped stitches as a guide. With a new needle, work in pattern across the 33 stitches of instep – those stitches that you’d set aside on the stitch holder. Using another new needle, pick up and knit 15 stitches along selvedge edge at other side of heel, using slipped stitches as a guide. Work 6 stitches from the first needle.
The beginning of the round is now at the centre of the heel. There should be 20 stitches on the first needle, the 33 stitches of the instep on the second, and 21 on the third. Rearrange the stitches if you need to.
From here on in, the 33 instep stitches will be worked in the rib pattern, and the gusset and sole will be worked in stocking stitch – that is, knitting every round.
Work a round even – keeping the instep stitches in pattern – twisting all picked-up stitches.
Work a decrease round as follows:
Needle 1: Knit to last three stitches, k2tog, k1.
Needle 2: Work all stitches in pattern.
Needle 3: K1, ssk, knit to end.
Work an even round, keeping continuity of pattern.
Repeating these last two rounds until Needles 1 has 13 stitches and Needle 3 has 14. 60 stitches total on your needles.
Work until foot measures 5 cm/2 inches less than desired length.
From here on in, you’ll work entirely in stocking stitch. Rearrange the stitches so that you’ve got 15 each on Needles 1 and 3, and 30 on Needle 2.
Work a decrease round, as follows:
Needle 1: Knit to last three stitches, k2tog, k1.
Needle 2: K1, SSK, knit to last three stitches, k2tog, k1.
Needle 3: K1, SSK, knit to end.
Work 3 rounds even.
Work a decrease round followed by 2 even rounds, twice. [6 rounds total]
Work a decrease round followed by 1 even round, three times. [6 rounds total]
Work 7 more decrease rounds. 8 stitches remain.
To finish, either graft together final stitches or cut yarn, draw through the final stitches and tighten. Weave in ends.
Monday, October 08, 2007
What this tells me is that a single 50gm ball of sock yarn need not be ignored. If I use a contrast yarn for the toe and heel, I could easily get a pair out of it. Sock yarn bargain bins, here I come!
I've been using a lot of small-producer, all wool or merino-rich blends of sock yarn, and going back to a standard commercial 75% wool/25% nylon sock yarn was more of shock than I expected. I've been spoiling myself. I do worry about how well the 100% wool ones will wear, though.
I'm sure after a few washes these will soften up. Can't wait to wear them with my new black high-top sneakers.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
but it somehow feels closer to being done when you're near the end. Closer to being a sock.
I know why. I find that working the toe closure on a top down sock is slow -- not because of the knitting, but because I keep measuring to see when I should start. Which means trying the sock on, working a few more rounds, trying the sock on, and so forth. I'm always in a rush to start the toe.
Anyway, yes, very close to finishing up. Loving the stripe on this. I just need to decide if the k1p1 ribbing at the top should be 1 stripe tall -- just the grey and white portion -- or whether I should work the next stripe in the ribbing, too. I think I'll go one more for balance.
Next decision is whether to try to make the second one match, or start at a different point in the colour sequence.
Socks - the knitting equivalent of mashed potatoes. Can be as simple or complex as I want, lots of room for variations, but always comforting and never too challenging.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Me, I was on a plane at the time, without internet access. I was in the middle seat of the next-to-last row, no less. Sandwiched between two non-knitters. I got enough funny looks for knitting, but then when I took my shoe and sock off to try on my still-on-the-needles sock.... well, I think my seatmates were thinking about complaining.
What I learnt, other than that it's a mistake to take off your shoes in flight -- not because of any swelling, but that it's very challenging to lace up high-top sneakers in that small a space -- is that I didn't like the fit of the gusset-less sock.
So I did some thinking and drawing and hit upon it. Gussets are simply a section of the foot immediately below the heel worked on more stitches. That was easy. I ripped the foot back to inch before the heel, and added an increase on either side of the instep stitches every other row. I worked the shortrow heel on the original number of stitches, no problem.
The decision then was how to dispose of the stitches I'd added. In a standard-top down sock design, the number of stitches stays constant in the leg until after the heel is turned. But that's a flaw, too. The lowest part of my ankle is wider than higher up my leg. So it's not a problem to have a few extra stitches there - an upper gusset, if you will. It just doesn't need to be a long as the foot gusset. So I worked a decrease every round until they were gone.
And there it is! A double-gusset toe up sock. It fits great! Very pleased.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I've been playing with a toe up sock design. I started with Amy Swenson's universal toe-up sock recipe, from Knitty.
It's a great instructional article, well-written, easy to follow, and I love the concept of a universal pattern, having written one myself for Knitty.
Here's the thing, though: toe-up socks don't fit very well.
The toe is great. Love the toe construction. It's easy, fun to work, and it fits well.
The problem is that there is no increase in stitches to compensate for the extra circumference around your heel area.
I worked all the way up to over the heel, and I simply didn't like the way the poor sock had to stretch and strain to fit around the heel area. I acknowledge that this is how most commercial socks are made, and that many people are a fan of the toe-up design, but it just doesn't do it for me. I am fairly petite, and maybe it's that the difference between the circumference of my foot and circumference of my heel is larger than most. What this means is that the sock either has to be looser in the foot, or more stretched -- and therefore tighter -- to fit around the heel. Neither of which I like.
The traditional top-down sock solves this problem with a gusset -- a section worked on more stitches immediately after the heel turn.
So I did some thinking... surely there's some way to create a gusset on a toe-up sock?
And there is!
to be continued....
Monday, August 20, 2007
(Great group of people, indulging in a variety of crafts -- some fibre (fiber!) related, some not. Let's just say that tarantulas are significantly less frightening when they're needle felted, with beaded legs, in hot pink.)
I wasn't the only sock knitter. Kim was working two at once on magic loop in some very nice Fiesta yarn. We compared techniques, and she idly asked if I'd ever knit socks toe-up.
I have never knit socks from the toe up. I've used a variety of heel turns, tried a few different toe shapings, done all sorts of different things for the leg -- but I am absolutely 100% committed to top-down sock knitting. Heterosocksual, if you will.
Perhaps it's time.... Living in New York is all about trying new things, after all.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
What a great sock yarn. Jitterbug is terrific to work with, both for socks and other designs. Love the "short burst" colouring.
Am just about finished a sock I started months and months ago... somehow less inspired to knit wool socks when it's 80+ degrees F/30+ degrees C and the sort of humidity that makes the newspaper slighty soggy.
I can barely imagine needing to wear such foot coverings, but I have from a reliable authority that I will, eventually.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
That's the most elegant defense of the chart I've ever heard.
But then it was time for the sleeves.
Of course, you're increasing 1 stitch either end every 4 rows. Yeah, ok. A standard technique.
There's a 5 stitch border at either side, written out as (get this!)
Row 1: K1 (edge stitch) k4, work row 1 of pattern, k4, k1 (edge stitch).
Row 2: K1, p4, work row 2 of pattern, p4, k1.
(Which in itself could be improved.)
But then you have to start increasing stitches and fold them into the patterning. My Mum is a terrifically good knitter. But after 3 attempts she gave up trying to figure out how to fold the increases into the pattern stitch. Again, I think part of the problem is that the pattern is "moving" on the WS as well as the RS rows. Typically, if you increase on the RS, you have an even, predictable WS row that gives you a chance to smoothly incorporate the increased stitches into the pattern stitch -- allows you, in essence, to figure out where they go. Not with this one.
Could you figure it out? Yeah, absolutely. Do you want to? Probably not. Recall that ultimately, this is something we do for fun.
So I charted it. All 116 rows. All the way across. Starting at 48 stitches, increasing up to 104. It may have taken some time...
And the knitting now? Easy as pie!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
However, I finally found a pattern that stumped me, that required me to chart out a written design.
It's a design my Mum is working on, a great textured sweater for my brother. It's a bit rough and organic looking, worked in what I'd called an off-set rib. The basis of the pattern is a k4 p2 ribbing, but after 8 rows even it shifts over stitch by stitch for 8 rows and then repeats the k4 p2 rib in a different position, and then shifts back to the original position. It's 32 rows in total, on 6x+2 sts.
The pattern stitch is written out on the pattern sheet, row by row, and it's an absolute nightmare to read and interpret. Before she started working it, I helped my Mum make some size modifications, and I spent a fair bit of time looking at the pattern overall and the pattern stitch instructions. It was still a total surprise when I saw it knitted up.
Part of the problem is that the pattern writer has taken a couple of shortcuts that make it harder to read. It makes sense that for the "base" k4 p2 sections, the RS and WS rows are written out once, and then the knitter is instructed to repeat them 3 times. Yup, easy to figure out. No problem.
But then you're working the section where the rib is moved over by 1 stitch each row. My first issues is that the rib is "moved" on both the RS and WS rows. This makes it harder to predict what you need to do. It much easier for a knitter if the WS row is simply a repeat of the patterning on the RS row. Way less chance of error. And then because you're moving over a full 8 stitches over 8 rows on a 6 stitch repeat, two of the rows are repeated.
Let me write it out for you.
Rows 1-8 are 4 repeats of:
RS: p2 [k4, p2]
WS: k2 [p4, k2]
Easy! Then it gets frustrating.
Row 9: k1, *[p2, k4]; repeat from * to last st, p1.
Row 10: *[p4, k2]; repeat from * to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 11: k3, p2, *[k4, p2]; repeat from * to last 3 sts, k3.
Row 12: p2, *[k2, p4]; repeat from * to end of row.
Row 13: p1, *[k3, p2] to last st, k1
Rows 14 to 16: Repeat rows 8 to 10.
Row 17: As row 11.
There are two ways to make this better.
1. How about Rows 14-17: Repeat rows 8 to 11? Much simpler.
2. Or spell the damn thing out. You can see how it's not easy to figure out what the pattern stitch will produce... I honestly think that in this case, the shortcut of "repeat rows x-z" makes it worse, because you can't in advance see the pattern stitch emerging.
(And that's just the first 17 rows. There's another 15 to go.)
And my other complaint? The picture on the front of the pattern is taken from a fair distance, and the sweater is worked in a tweedy yarn.
This breaks two critical rules:
1. Make sure that the pattern stitch in clear in the pictures. That is, take the picture close enough that you can see it.
2. And make sure the pattern stitch is clear in the pictures. That is, how about a single colour yarn? What insanity possessed the knitter to work the sample in a tweedy yarn anyway?
Still, it will be lovely once it's done!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Last night, for the first time in weeks, we watched episodes of the Daily Show and I worked on my Jitterbug sock. It felt good. Felt like home.
(Well, ok, I wasn't entirely craft-free in the last month... I did finish a cross-stitch that I'd started about five years ago. Somehow the change in my routine demanded a change in craft.)
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Am sad to report that my commute is very knitting-unfriendly. It's short, which is nice. But I never get a seat, and have to change trains at the midpoint. These factors mean that my reading-while-standing-on-a-moving-train skills have increased, but knitting productivity has dropped.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
All I'll say is that some designs are more effective than others. I think I prefer crochet that's not attempting to simply reproduce knitting. Crochet is its own thing, and its differences from knitting should be taken advantage of. Crochet can take a couple of forms -- a fairly stiff, dense fabric, or very open and loose lace fabrics. The best designs -- there's a couple of pairs in the book that I think are genuinely doing something great -- use this. I really like the lacey pairs, and there's a ribby colourwork pair that takes advantage of denseness of single crochet.
All that aside, though, I'm proud to see my name and work in print amongst some well-known other designers.
Thanks to Shannon Okey, the book's editor, and congratulations to all the other designers whose work is included.
Friday, July 06, 2007
As of this morning, I'm coming to you from New York City.
It was a tough decision to leave Toronto -- I will sorely miss all my friends and knitting compatriots, my family, all the terrific restaurants and shops. And most of all, The Sheep and Lettuce.
But I heard the siren song of the Big Apple, and I went.... I'll be back, no question. But for a little while, at least, I'll be a New York-based Knit Blogger.
Anyone know a good stitch & bitch event I can attend, to start getting to know the community?
Monday, July 02, 2007
A commenter on my earlier post suggested that I should just leave them be, that since it was the foot, no-one would see the mis-match. Or that maybe it would be nice to have a unique pair of socks... but then by the end of the comment, the commenter agreed that yeah, the oddness would eventually drive her insane, too.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Such a radical difference in the behaviour of the colours -- 60 st rounds produces beautiful stripes... 66 stitch rounds produces a rather startling pooling of the colours.
Good to know.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Here's my problem, though... I used the same yarn for both. Argh.
I know what happened, I think... the number of stitches in the foot of left sock (the one on my foot, that is), isn't right. Too many. I should have decreased back down to match the number of stitches in the leg. Just by eyeballing it, it looks like I didn't.
Naturally, because these socks were worked months and months apart, the first one has been sitting in the cupboard, unexamined, and I didn't know they didn't match. I pulled the first one out to measure and match the length of the foot last night, and discovered the mismatch.
I shall unravel the foot of the left and reknit it.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I've been several times, and bought all kinds of terrific stuff. I particularly enjoy digging through the heaps of half-finished, abandoned projects. I bought a cast-off cross stitch projects for 50 cents to get the embroidery hoop. I bought a half-completed sewing project, circa the mid 1960s. A mohair suit, the pieces all cut out, the pattern still in the envelope. I took it to a dress maker who cut it to fit and finished it up. I think that was $10. All sorts of great stuff.
Tons of books and pattern magazines, too... lots of 1980s horrors, but that's part of the fun.
Last time I went I decided to splurge -- $2! -- on an unopened needlepoint kit with a copyright date of 1974. What a great way to try needlepoint. It helped, of course, that the picture amused me no end.
And after months and months of sock knitting commissions, and needing a smaller project after finishing up Lizard Ridge, I opened up the package and began.
Voila! Needlepoint broccoli!
I'm just saddened that I won't be able to find the rest of the kits in the series -- the carrot, the radishes and the pumpkin.
I doubt I'll take needlepoint up seriously, but hey, it's good to branch out sometimes.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Just in time for the weather to get really, really hot.
Lizard Ridge is done. Ends all woven in. The cat was no help at all, but he really does seem to love the blanket.
Colours used: 40, 90, 92, 95, 102, 134, 138, 139, 147, 148, 150, 153, 154, 159, 164, 165, 170, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 188, 194.
Pattern modifications: I sewed the pieces together rather than crocheting, and I used an applied i-cord 4 stitch edging rather than the scalloped crochet. I prefer the look of the i-cord.I think I will lightly block the top and bottom edges -- matching the tension of the applied i-cord was a challenge against the stitch gauge and it pulls in a bit along those edges. You can see the lower edge rolling up a bit at the corner.>Very pleased with it. It's a tremendous design -- an excellent use of the yarn, technically interesting but not too challenging, easy to carry around and knit in pieces, and it's a truly beautiful finished piece. The sewing up is a bit of a challenge, but that's my own fault because I made the modification.
The designer, Laura Aylor, should be proud of her work. She's brought much joy to knitters and warmth and comfort to friends and families of knitters, all over the world.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
I did find time to finish up the Swallowtail Shawl...
adding another to the heap of lace shawls knitted that are unlikely to ever be worn... I should start selling them, or something.
On a different note, it is a terrific pattern, and results in a modestly sized shawl that's entirely wearable. The Seasilk rocks. Lovely sheen, great hand, excellent drape, and I love the subtle variation in the colours. See, Fleece Artist -- I do love your products!
Monday, June 11, 2007
Or so I thought... turns out that applied i-cord is slow going. It's ok, I find it very simple and soothing, it doesn't require any attention, but it's slow. I estimated about 8 hours to complete the full edge at the pace I was working.
As to the soothing bit, it's a good thing.
Ever feel the urge to stay up into the wee hours to work on a project?
We experienced a major flooding incident due to a burst pipe last night. A mystery burst pipe. That leaked at 45 minute -1 hour intervals. From above our bathroom, over the hall closet and into the basement. We sat around, quite literally all night, with a plumber, the superintendent and the building manager, waiting until the next wave of flood started. I got lots and lots and lots of the edging completed.
They soldered the hole in the pipe about 8:30am this morning. We are now waiting for the cleanup crew to arrive.
I'm making excellent progress on the edging.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I love the Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns. Love them to distraction. They produce beautiful yarns in tremendous colourways with interesting and innnovative fibres. Can't recommended them highly enough.
And their designs are great -- simple and elegant shapes and ideas, executed well in their variegated and multicoloured yarns. Lovely.
But I do wish they'd hire a technical editor for their patterns. They're poorly written, and I've encountered mistakes, and I believe they are doing themselves a serious misservice.
Even this latest one I'm working on, Jane, written by someone else, isn't great. There aren't any mistakes that I have found, but it's not at all "user friendly". No gauge is given, no dimensions or details for sizing. The only reason I knew which size to make was because there was a sample in my local shop that I was able to try on.
Mistakes do happen, typos creep into printed patterns. It's happened to me, I'll cheerfully admit it. But my complaint isn't about typos, it is about patterns that are misssing key information, or are too vague or brief in their instructions. I mention Jane, but this is pretty typical for their patterns. Now, it doesn't matter so much if there isn't a gauge or schematic or sizing information for a scarf, but it matters a lot for a sweater.
And their sock and mitten patterns frustrate me to no end. They suggest using 2 short circulars to work in the round -- which is fair enough, it's a technique that I know some people love and have good success with, even if it's fairly unusual. My complaint is that they give no guidance for this technique, and the pattern is written in such a way that if you wish to convert it to use DPNs or a single 12" circular, you would have difficulty. I also found out-and-out mistakes in a sock pattern of theirs from a couple of years ago -- I don't know if it's been since caught and fixed -- but if you'd never knitted a sock before, you'd have been pretty lost. And I know other knitted have been frustrated with a mitten/sock pattern kit, which is ambigious about whether it kit produces a pair of either, or a pair of both.
Their patterns are written in a very informal, almost conversational style -- which can be good for novices. And I appreciate their attempt to keep the pattern instructions concise. I know that overly long, overly detailed instructions can be intimidating.
But as any writer will tell you, it's much harder to convey precise instructions in a casual and concise style. And like cooking, your chances of success are much higher if the instructions are precise and accurate.
It is just me? Has anyone else had difficulty?
Sunday, June 03, 2007
I do love toast, and sometimes you need some.
Specifically, the big square of stocking stitch is the back of the Fleece Artist Jane sweater, from the back. (It's designed by Perl Grey, FYI.)
I picked the project because it intrigued me. The shaping and construction and unlike anything I've ever seen before, and I love that sort of thing. The sweater is knit in one piece. You cast on at the left side of the back, and work across the the back - sideways! Then you continue the sleeves from the top half of the back stitches, and the wrap-around fronts from the bottom half of the back stitches. Worked all in one piece, very little finishing -- I like it!
I finished up the back, and have just started the first sleeve.
Lovely apple green colour, easy knitting, quick knitting, nice yarn. Mmmm.... toast.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I found a cool stitch pattern in an old, out of print, knitting book. A cool stitch pattern that would highlight the subtle striping in the chosen yarn. A simple but interesting repeat. Seemed ideal. It even had "rib" in the name. No problem. I've made plain socks, ribbed socks, cable socks, lace socks -- all sorts of socks. I am a sock goddess.
The sock goddess had her butt kicked.
What it came down to is that that the stitch pattern I chose simply wasn't stretchy enough. Yes, absolutely, it fit my leg very well. Too well. A perfect fit around the leg meant that the fabric didn't stretch enough to go over my heel. And if I added sttiches to the pattern repeat, the leg was too loose -- and I don't want slouch. Blocking didn't help -- it took out what little bounce-back there in the stich pattern. It drove me mad. I worked an entire leg of the sock in two different variations of the pattern, blocked, used foul language, changed needle sizes -- none of which helped me in the least.
Until this, I hadn't honestly spent much time considering the stretch factor in a sock fabric. Every stitch pattern, every fabric I created (ok, except for a couple of fair isle pairs dating back to my early colour experiments) naturally had enough stretch. Some socks were slouchier than others, but I'd never run into this problem before.
I ultimately found a substitute pattern that I'm happy with, so this story will have a happy ending. But it hasn't been a happy process, I have to say.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I always have knitting with me for my commute. Some projects are better than others for commuting.
The first thing to consider is how long your commute is, and what your surroundings are like. Are you typically sitting still in one place/on one vehicle for a long time? Do you have to change bus/train/vehicle midway through the trip? How much elbow room do you typically have? Is the ride smooth? Do you have big bag(s) with you?
Me, I have about 20 minutes total on the streetcar (a.k.a. tram), with no changes. I usually get a seat the stop after I get on, which gives me a good 15 minutes for knitting.
First things first, I make sure that my commute project is small. Whether a sock or a lightweight scarf or a Lizard Ridge square or the sleeve of a sweater, I make sure that my knitting bag fits into my work bag. And I make sure that it's self-contained... I tend to work on things that don't require me to look at a pattern -- at all, or very often at least. In the case of socks and a lot of lace knitting, I will condense the key info on a small piece of cardboard that I safety pin to the knitting. Not only is it cumbersome to carry around a pattern, it's difficult to keep it handy for reference.
Here's my latest commute project: a black alpaca lace shawl. This is ideal commute knitting for several reasons: the laceweight yarn means that I've got tons of knitting in a very small ball of yarn. The fine gauge also means that progress is slow, so it will keep me going for several weeks' worth of commutes. And black lace requires more attention that my average project, so it keeps me very engaged and entertained. The pattern repeat is simple enough to memorize, but also to capture in two short lines in case I do need to refer to it. I've written it out on a piece of card, and safety-pinned it to the bag. I've also got spare stitch markers safety-pinned to the bag.
The safety pin is probably the most important portable knitting tool. I always have one or two with me. You can use them to attach your pattern notes to your work, as markers, and also for marking mistakes or rescuing dropped stitches that you need to deal with when you get home.
The bag itself is worth noting... it's a small nylon bag with a drawstring. It came with the headset for my office phone -- no idea why -- and it's ideal for carrying knitting. You need a bag that won't develop holes, and that has a closure. Knowknits also makes terrific portable knitting bags, but for throwing in my purse, I prefer this one. The Knowknits GoKnit Pouches have great little loops of nylon with snaps that allow you to attach your project to a bag strap or a belt loop -- but I find those and the closure toggles mean that they're a bit bulky for stuffing in my purse. They're great for when you have a larger bag, or when you're going to be knitting standing up, or walking around.
Similar rules apply for air travel knitting, with two major exceptions.
First, the equipment: Although the TSA has approved all knitting needles for air travel, I find that what is actually permitted on a flight is at the discretion of the security agents inspecting you and your baggage. The first rule is not to ask -- chances are, the security agent you speak to isn't a knitter, and therefore tends to think of needles as sharp and dangerous. I always take plastic, wood or bamboo needles for air travel and just send them through the x-ray machine. I've never been stopped or questioned about them. And as for commuting, I keep a minimal kit with me: the yarn, project, a condensed version of the pattern, a couple of safety pins, and if required, my plastic yarn needle. (It's a Susan Bates "Crystalite".)
And since I'm likely to be sitting for much longer periods of time, I tend to choose a more complex project for longer trips. After all, there will be little to distract me, and I'll be able to lay a pattern sheet out on my tray table or lap. Whether it's a travel project or not, I always photocopy my pattern instructions and carry them with me in a plastic sheet protector. I leave the book and magazine at home, protected from coffee spills. I can make notes and marks all over the photocopy of the pattern, and I only have to carry around the key pages. (Key caution: make sure you have all the instructions and pattern information with you... I ended up making a major mistake on my Pimlico because I was missing the photo.)
Of course, my favourite travel knitting tool is my Creative Zen digital music player... Just because I'm not reading a book doesn't mean I want to chit-chat....
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I wasn't specifically tagged for this, but found it a thought provoking exercise.
Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Publishing a knitting book
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting with wool
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting in public
Lace Wings, as it's very straightforward. The yarn I've chosen is Misti Alpaca Lace.
Of course, I should probably get the Swallowtail done first. I've decided, after much thinking and math and listening to the sensible words of a commenter, that I'm going to work it as the pattern dictates. And if I've got tons of Sea Silk leftover then perhaps a narrow rectangular lace scarf might be nice, and would make a terrific commuting project.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
The Lily of the Valley Border, though, it's been a bit of a problem. The chart's perfect, it looks great, and ultimately it's actually pretty interesting to work. But it's a challlenge. The nupps. As I remarked to Megan the other day... "Nupp? Sounds like f***."
It was oddly hard to wrap my brain around the pattern -- and it didn't become obvious until I'd worked a good 12 or 14 rows. And at 220+ sts each, that was a fair bit of knitting. And a fair bit of dangerous knitting, at that... I'd already moved my lifeline up when I realized that I'd not quite got the grasp of it, and realized that a correction I'd made for a missed yo (below the lifeline) wasn't quite the right thing to do.
If I'd taken the time to swatch the lace pattern in advance, I would have understood it before I began, and would have significantly reduced the risk of error, and the possible effects of a poor mistake correction. Will it look ok after blocking?
... There's a small quiet voice in my head suggesting that maybe I should rip back the border and make sure it's right.
On a related topic, I'm a bit surprised/befuddled about the yarn usage. There's 400 or so m in the Seasilk, and reading other blogs I was left with the impression that this pattern uses up almost the entire ball...
Now I know it's hard to tell, because the later rows have more stitches, but I have more than a third of a ball left over before the final 16 rows.
So, three options occur to me:
1) Work as the pattern dictates and be done with it, not worrying about the yarn leftovers
2) Add a third repeat of the Lily of the Valley inner border
3) Rip back the 2 repeats of the Lily of the Valley inner border I've already worked, and work a few more repeats of the budding lace before redoing (correctly and with full confidence) the Lily of the Valley border
I did a bit of research online, and at least one knitter has chosen my second option, adding a third repeat of the Lily of the Valley. I'm not sure it works for me... it seems to disrupt the balance between the two borders... there's a golden ratio going on between the width of the Lily inner border and the peaked outer border, I think.
So, #1 or #3? Perhaps the leftover yarn is the knitting gods way of telling me that I should rip back...
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
So I brought all the blocked squares over for dinner last Friday. After the cake and tea, we pushed the dishes aside and laid all the squares out on the table.
And we played LR-tetris. "No, not there, that's too close to another dark one."
"How about this orangey-one here, to set off the grey?"
After much swapping and changing and standing on chairs to get a better view, we got it.
We carefully labelled the pieces, while M. played documetary photographer.
So, all I have to do now is the actual sewing....
Friday, May 04, 2007
Jitterbug Bright Charcoal gets a 10/10 for Clapotis-suitability.
Compare and contrast the aran-weight Sarubia version with the sock-yarn version. (I did do two extra repeats in the straight section for the Jitterbug version so it's not quite a fair comparision.)
Thursday, May 03, 2007
There are people who knit to produce -- to create something, to wear, to display, to make a statement, to give as a gift.
There are others among us who knit for the process. I'm one of these. I will cheerfully spend hours creating something without a single thought to who will wear it -- or indeed whether it would ever be worn at all.
Designers, I think, have to be process knitters. Or at least those who knit their own samples. I've knitted all sorts of things that will never be worn by anyone -- store samples, samples for photography and the like. I've also knitted things that I've immediately taken apart -- design ideas that didn't work.
I've knitted many things for the sake of it, because the technique or construction has interested me. Toe socks. Thrummed mittens. And notably, lace. Those who know me well know that I'm not a lacy sort of girl, but I love knitting lace. My very first lace project I gave away, but others languish at home, collecting dust. I occasionally use the Highland shawl as a wrap when I'm watching TV, and the cat has taken to sitting on it. The cat's paw shawl sometimes goes with me to class to show off the technique. I will, I'm quite sure, continue to knit lace and will continue to struggle with what to do with the output.
(In fact, I've just started the Swallowtail shawl from last fall's Interweave mag in Sea Silk, just because I wanted something different. Looks nice. Anyone willing to bet whether I'll ever actually wear it?)
And then there's the Elizabeth Zimmerman Ribwarmer. I've knitted the damn thing twice, in two different yarns. In both cases, it was no more than a couple of days before I undid the entire thing. It's a great design -- all short row garter stitch, in one piece, lots of corners and cleverness. But, dare I say, it's kinda ugly and ill-fitting. At least on me. Maybe if I was shaped a bit differently? The first time I knitted it, about 12 or 13 years ago, I used a great long-discontinued purple tweedy shade of Galway.. Now, fashions were different then, and a cropped fit vest wasn't really in tune with the rest of my wardrobe.
As styles changed, and as I acquired a bag full of Noro Sarubia in a trade, I thought that the Ribwarmer would be a good idea. Nope. Once again, loved the process, but hated the result. With any other yarn, I probably would have given it away, or kept it as a sample -- but I ripped it out almost immediately and the yarn was repurposed to a happier end.
There are, absolutely, times when I will knit something because I want to wear the result -- Handmaiden's Jane is currently on my needles, and I'm dying to wear it. But for the most part, I'm a process knitter.
It's clear that it's possible to enjoy both process and product knitting, but I have to wonder if people lean more strongly towards one or the other? Does it change as a knitter gets more skilled, more experienced?
Monday, April 30, 2007
I am all blocked, and the styrofoam has been retired. It was a brilliant solution, if I do say so myself. The squares dried quickly because of the big open space, and the styrofoam withstood 24 pinnings-and-unpinnings with no complaints.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Looks like it will only take two skeins of the Jitterbug to complete my Clapotis v2007. Which means I'm going to have to knit a pair of socks with the third skein. Does anyone else have socks to match their Clapotis? Surely I'm not the only one.
And Amy's post (waaay down near the bottom) made me realize that I'm not the only one to have experienced a relapse of the Clap.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
I have a Noro problem. It's true. I love their yarns. For someone like me who is fairly cautious about colour, the Noro yarns provide an easy way to introduce some fun colour into your knitting (and wardrobe). Let the genius of Noro choose the colour combinations for you.
Noro Iro is one of their greatest yarns - not just because of the colours - but because it feels softer than many, and it's chunky, so it knits up quickly and easily. It's not the cheapest of their yarns, so I knew that whatever I did with it had to be economical about yarn.
I worked up this bolero design - inspired by a piece I keep seeing around - to create a high-impact piece that keep yarn usage to a minimum. And I love it.
It's a great first sweater project, suitable for newer (or just impatient!) knitters.
Substitute any yarn that knits to 12 sts/4 inches, and you need only 240-360 yds of yarn, depending the size. It's top-down, so you can work it as long as you like - or until you run out of yarn, making it an ideal stash-buster. And you don't even need to make a buttonhole - at that gauge, just push the button through a hole in the fabric!
Pattern available on Patternfish and Ravelry.
The eagle-eyed may notice that this is similar to some other bolero patterns out there. It's true - this ain't exactly an original idea. I, naturally, think mine is better! One of the key reasons is that I've made the edgings harmonious - it's k1 p1 ribbing all the way through, rather than a somewhat visually disruptive garter edge at the fronts.