Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Pattern: Sock Yarn Baby Hat

1 100 gm ball SWTC Tofutsies (425m) - this is what I used -- you can use any sock yarn, and you'll get at least two or three hats from a single ball
3mm 40 cm/16 in circular needle (optional)
3mm double-pointed needles
stitch marker or safety pin
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Fits: up to 1 year (1-2 years)
Circumference: 35cm/14 ins ( 40cm/16 ins)
32 stitches and 40 rounds over 10cm/4 inches square in the round using 3mm needles.
Cast on 112 (128) stitches onto the circular needle, or onto a single double-pointed needle. If using DPNs, distribute across three needles. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches. Mark the beginning of the round.
Work 12.5cm/5 inches in stocking stitch – that is, knitting every round. Don’t unroll the bottom edge to measure.
Decrease for crown:
Next round *K2tog, k13; repeat from * to end of round. 120 stitches.
Following round: *K2tog, k12; repeat from * to end of round. 112 stitches.
Change to double pointed needles when the hat gets too small to work comfortably on the circular needle.
Round 1: *K2tog, k12; repeat from * to end of round. 104 stitches.
Round 2: *K2tog, k11; repeat from * to end of round. 96 stitches.
Round 3: *K2tog, k10; repeat from * to end of round. 88 stitches.
Round 4: *K2tog, k9; repeat from * to end of round. 80 stitches.
Round 5: *K2tog, k8; repeat from * to end of round. 72 stitches.
Round 6: *K2tog, k7; repeat from * to end of round. 64 stitches.
Round 7: *K2tog, k6; repeat from * to end of round. 56 stitches.
Round 8: *K2tog, k5; repeat from * to end of round. 48 stitches.
Round 9: *K2tog, k4; repeat from * to end of round. 40 stitches.
Round 10: *K2tog, k3; repeat from * to end of round. 32 stitches.
Round 11: *K2tog, k2; repeat from * to end of round. 24 stitches.
Round 12: *K2tog, k1; repeat from * to end of round. 16 stitches.
Round 13: *K2tog; repeat from * to end of round. 8 stitches.
Break yarn, leaving a 15cm/6 in tail and pull through final stitches to close. Wash and weave in ends to finish.

Spring Blossom Sock

Using Noro's magnificently beautiful Kureyon sock yarn, in colourway 95.

A hint of spring, in a socky form.

Available on Patternfish and Ravelry.

I know that the Kureyon sock yarn isn't the softest in the ball, but it softens up very nicely with washing, and makes a surprisingly long-wearing sock.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sock Yarn/KnitPicks Harmony DPNs

This is the Shelridge Farms sock yarn I bought at the Frolic. I believe the colourway should be called Newsprint...

On the topic of socks, since there are always socks on the go, I've recently become enamoured of the KnitPicks Harmony wood DPNs. They're absolutely beautiful, and seem to have terrific points.

Any comments? Are they worth it?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Knitter's Frolic: The Haul

I was reasonably restrained. Really.

Because I need more sock yarn like I need a hole in the head, I only bought enough for one pair... Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra in a nice greyscale colourway.

A skein of Cottage Craft Angora qiviut/merino blend for yet another of the One Skein Kerchief.

Two skeins of the truly fabulous Hopeful Shetlands Real Shetland 2 ply for a rectangular lace shawl design.

What these last two have in common is that they're both undyed -- they're the actual colour of the animal that the fibre came from. I love this.

And, because I was tired and slightly irrational by the end of the day, a skein of Fleece Artist Dreadlocks at the bargain price of $20. (I think this is discontinued yarn, as it's not listed on their site anymore.) You'll notice that this isn't the colour of the animal. Perhaps the colour of a Muppet, but I don't believe you can knit with Muppet hair...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FO: Simple But Chic Baby Cardigan - now with 2 sleeves!

See, look, it's a whole cardigan! Made out of sock yarn, no less. Click to embiggen the photo to see the detail of the cabled eyelet edging.

6 months size uses just less than one ball of SWTC Tofutsies. It's a terrific yarn for spring and summer-weight baby clothes. It's a cotton blend, it comes in great colours, it's machine washable, and you can't beat the price. Despite the small gauge, it's a quick and satisfying knit.

The pattern is available for purchase on Patternfish, Ravelry, and at The Purple Purl, and you will be able to see the sample at their booth at the Knitter's Frolic this weekend. (You'll also be able to buy the pattern and see the sample of the Noro Spring Blossom sock, too... )

Sized for 6, 12 and 18 months with a girl's and boy's variation. The boy's variation has a similar cable rib pattern, but without the eyelet.
(Which means I did have to work out the buttonhole positions after all... )

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One-Armed Baby Cardigan

Or perhaps, more accurately, single-sleeved cardigan for baby. Wouldn't want to confuse.

The thing I don't like about cardigans is the planning of the button placement and the corresponding buttonholes. How many buttons does it need, and how far apart?

I solved the problem a little bit differently this time. I worked an eyelet edging around the bottom, the cuff of the sleeve, the collar and most importantly, along the fronts. As a result, there are buttonholes wherever you need them...

The garment is proving very hard to photograph, but as soon as I can get the eyelet to show up in a photo, I'll post that. In the meantime, if you click to enlarge the photo you can sort of see it...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kicking It Old School

I'm working on a new design... a baby sweater worked in sock yarn. Because when you've got a stash this big, it's good to do something other than socks with it. This is actually a design commission, from the ladies at the Purple Purl.

Here's the old school bit: I'm using straight, metal needles. Aero needles in the red slip case, in case you're wondering.

I don't often have to buy specific needles for a project, and when I started into this, it never occurred to me that I didn't have the right size... I have 3mm bamboo dpns, but the only straight ones I could find were these, hiding in the dusty back corner of my needle closet. They must be 15 years old, at least.

I use bamboo needles most of the time these days -- with the exception of some lace work -- and I always use circulars for flat knitting -- as a travelling knitter, and an incorrigible KIP-er (knitting in public), they're so much more convenient.

But here I was, forced back to straights. And metal ones at that. And you know, they're good. I'm enjoying it. Although they are significantly less convenient for streetcar and subway knitting -- they don't fit into my bag, and I poked my seatmate more than a few times. But the point is good, and they're slightly slippery, so the yarn moves very nicely along them.

It's been good to remind myself that although we've come far with needle technology, there really is still value in the old classics.

The yarn is Tofutsies, and it feels truly great... although there's all sorts of stuff in the blend (wool, cotton, SoySilk(TM) and chitin, which is a by-product of shrimp and crab processing... yes, really, it's antibacterial), it feels like nothing more than a really nice, soft cotton. A cotton with some good elasticity and flexibility, and a nice drape. It's exactly the right texture for working on these not-too-slippery metal needles.

The pattern stitch isn't showing very well in the photos, but the cardigan has a lacy edging, around the bottom, around the fronts, and around the cuffs. And it will need only a single ball.

Stay tuned for details on the pattern!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

All this talk of the Torch...

...I'm starting to think about this year's Olympic project.

To refresh your memory, the idea behind Olympic knitting is that it is to be a personal challenge.

The rules are simple: cast on during the opening ceremonies, and finish no later than the closing ceremonies. The Yarn Harlot's original idea was simple: if you're going to spend that much time on the couch watching people challenging themselves, your knitting may as well be in keeping with that spirit of a challenge.

Here's the recap of my 2006 Winter Olympics Knitting:
My Project Decision
Getting Ready
Day 1: A Weak Start
Day 2: Getting Going
Day 3: Good Progress
Day 4: Pride and Fall
Day 5: Onto the Difficult Bit
Day 6: Moving Right Along
Day 7: Double Argh
Day 8: Back on Track
Day 9: The Home Stretch
Day 10: Finished!
Post-Game Analysis
Gold Medal

What to do this year? It's easy.

Steeked fair isle.

In my sock classes I always talk about how some knitters have such a strong preference for working in the round that they work cardigans in the round and then CUT THEM! That is, work a steek. I'm invariably asked if I've done it, and I have to say no. Therefore, it's time to steek.

The other thing about steeking is that it's done most often in the cause of Fair Isle colourwork. Which is something I do very very rarely also.

So it's a steeked Fair Isle project, no question.

I'll be honest about my 2006 project: it was too easy. I finished very early. I might need to take on something bigger this time around.

I did a quick Google for steeked fair isle and landed on this: Eunny Jang's Deep V Argyle Vest. I do love a good vest, and it looks like something I might actually wear....

Have also considered an actual Norwegian pattern -- Lopi or Bohus or something. What I have to consider is whether I'm going to have much teaching and other work knitting going on during that time. I'm usually working on both personal projects and assignment projects - for books, for store samples, for pattern samples -- at the same time, and that seriously cuts into the time I have available for knitting for my sake. So perhaps a smaller (i.e.) sleeveless project is more sensible.

More to come...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

FO: The Jane Crossover Sweater/Stupid Knitter Tricks

Voila! The Jane Crossover Sweater.

I'm very pleased with it. I love the unusual construction -- worked in one piece, starting at the side of the back. The back is worked sideways, and the fronts and sleeves are just extensions from the back.

Of course, not being content to work something as is, I had to mess with it a bit. Definitely easier with a provisional cast-on. And I worked the sleeves in the round so that no sewing at all was necessary.

The Handmaiden and Fleece Artist designs frustrate me a bit. I've written about this before -- the designs are great, and their yarns are lovely, no question. And Perl Grey in particular thinks about garment construction in interesting ways -- simple twists on the traditional creates great new ideas.

But I really really really wish they'd hire a technical editor. The instructions are at best not very well written, and at worst mistake-ridden. No mistakes in this one, but it's not wildly clear in some places, and the construction could definitely be improved. Even if you leave the sleeves flat, a provisional cast-on would eliminate a lot of frustration.

That having been said, I will continue to recommend it as a good beginner project, but there's minimal shaping and minimal finishing, and it's actually pretty quick work.

I love the sleeve finishing -- a single round of purl and a cast-off both worked with a double strand of yarn. It makes a nice, non-curling edge, but it's not dominant visually so it doesn't break the simplicity.

It's also a good demonstration of how a yarn can make or break a project. The variable texture and slight variegation of the yarn elevates a simple shape to something much more interesting.

The other amusing thing about this is that as soon as the sleeves were done it became actually wearable - a sorta shruggy thing. I often knit through a class, but this week I taught a class actually wearing the sweater while working on it. Like so...

Stupid knitter trick of the week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is It Dangerous?

A good chuckle the other day....

A., who is a great knitter and lovely person, attended a Cables class I taught recently. She told me that she was talking to the 7 year old daughter of a neighbour about the class... It's a knitting class, she explained.

"But you already know how to knit," says the perceptive 7 year old.

"But this is different! It's knitting cables."

"Cables? Isn't that dangerous?"

"Dangerous how?"

"Well, it's electrical."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another Noro Sock: The Tulip Sock

I'm proud of this one, if I do say so myself.

Although it's tough to photograph well... the nice scalloped top isn't showing very well.

The stitch pattern is a variation on Dragon Skin from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury. Because the yardage of the Noro Kureyon Sock is so terrific, you will easily get a matching pair -- both pink at the top -- from one ball. It was serendipitous -- my ball was wound to start with the pink, and I think it looks like a fabulous spring blossom.

Pattern will be for sale at The Naked Sheep and The Purple Purl starting tomorrow. Suitable for sock knitters with some experience.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Notes on a Sock Yarn

Thoughts and observations as I've been working with the Noro Kureyon sock yarn.

1. The colours are truly wonderful - no surprise there.

2. Each section of colour goes on longer than I'd expected. I've worked two socks with two different stitch counts and two different st patterns, and in neither case did I work a full repeat of the colour change.

3. There's less in the way of organic matter (i.e. bits of twig, hay) in the yarn than there is in the original Kureyon. There is a little, but not much.

4. Like the original Kureyon, the thickness of the yarn varies as you work with it.

5. It's heavier in gauge than many sock yarns I've worked with.

6. But because of the varied thickness of the yarn, it needs a smaller needle than I would normally use. I'm trying 2mm (US 0) or 2.25mm (US 1) instead of my usual 2.5mm.

7. The yardage is great. I'm betting there's three socks in a ball.

8. The hand is rougher than many sock yarns -- but again, I'm not particularly worried about this one. I think it's a bit of a red herring, to be honest.

9. This is absolutely a "pull from the outside" ball. The yarn is very sticky and tangly, and god help those who insist on pulling from the inside of the ball.

10. The manufacturer instruction to handwash worries me a little bit, but not too much. I often handwash my delicates, so it's not a huge hardship to throw some socks in. That having been said, it means that it's not the best all-purpose sock yarn out there.

11. On the question of wear: hmmm.... I will monitor my own socks, and the results of others, very carefully. The nylon is a help, no question, but it is a single ply. The big burning question is how well will it actually wear?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

No Words

It's as beautiful as I imagined.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Ooh, that's very rough"

I've been taking the Noro sock project(s) with me everywhere. Lots of KIPing ("knitting in public").

It's prompting some great reactions -- "lovely colours", of course. "Interesting project", of course.

But it's amazing how many people are telling me that they feel that the yarn is too rough.

Too rough?

I think I've said this before, but holy cow, how delicate are your feet? (These comments do not apply to diabetics.) Seriously -- the insides of shoes are a lot harder on your feet than a pair of socks.

That having been said, it is rougher to hand than a lot of sock yarn, and I'm going to be very interested in how it washes and wears. Initial reports are reasonably positive, and I've heard that people are successfully washing the yarn both by hand and machine.

More to come as the project proceeds.