Saturday, December 29, 2007

Say Goodnight, Gracie

I've been working on Lace Wings since, oh, sometime in the spring.

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

Mission Falls 1824: How You've Changed

I made a pair of quickie gauntlets last week with some Mission Falls 1824. Useful for when I'm driving, or in-car knitting, and for shopping around the market in the winter.

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

All that sofa, and look where he sits

Yes, indeed. The cat loves Lizard Ridge as much as I do.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

See! It Fits!

Hunter in his hat.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sock It To Me

An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal discussing the phenomenon known as Sock Wars...Sock It to Me: Competitive Knitters Get Deadly Serious

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

Pattern Writing & Standardization

I am forever complaining about the lack of standards in written knitting patterns.... especially for a less-experienced knitter, the quality of the instructions is absolutely critical to both the enjoyment and success of the project.

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

Hunter's Hat

Way back in the spring, I designed a simple baby hat for a class... the idea was to teach knitting in the round with a project more manageable for beginners than socks.

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
stitch marker

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

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Ribber...

I'm working a scarf design right now.

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

It's That Time of Year

Christmas Knitting, anyone?

Christmas socks
Santa Hat

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

Who Invited It Back?

Seriously. This is for sale at the Gap. For $98.

We did not ask for this.

On one hand, the poncho is what brought a lot of people to knitting. And that's great for everyone. But on the other hand, surely they don't have to be this ugly??

Saturday, December 01, 2007

By Popular Demand: Basic Ribbed Sock

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.

Turn Heel:
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.

Decrease Gusset:
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.

Shape Toe:
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.