Sunday, May 31, 2009

iKnit London Visit

Had a wonderful visit yesterday with the team from iKnit London - Gerard, Chris and Vanessa.

They've got a great shop, and I picked up a couple of books. One I've been reading about for a while - the reissue of Jane Waller's Stitch in Time. It's a fabulous, detailed and serious survey of knitting fashions, patterns and techniques from the 1920s to 1949. Some of the "vintage knits" books just have updated patterns. This book actually reproduces the original pattern and has an update, and discusses how the pattern uses and represents the styles of the time. There's a volume 2 coming sometime, apparently. Can't wait to get my hands on that.

Also the classic first volume of Modern Lace Knitting. It's full of the sort of madness I adore: knitted bedspreads and curtains and tablecloths.

And because I've been noodling on it for a while, I picked up a tatting shuttle (at John Lewis; yes, the department stores have very decent craft sections). Now all I have to do is learn how to use it. I've got an old needlework book I acquired from an older knitter, with full instructions. I'm intrigued. It seems like precisely the fiddly and slow sort of work I love...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Colinette Visit

That's the Jitterbug section. Need I say more?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holiday Knitting

The red flag means it's too rough to swim... and too rough to knit outdoors, actually. Very very windy on the jetty here in Aberdovey.

But it's never too windy to knit in the Dovey Arms.

As to what I'm knitting... well, that was a last minute addition to my suitcase. A simple garter-based lace scarf in Malabrigo sock yarn. It's quick knitting, ideal for the car. The problem is that I failed to pack a tape measure.

Off to the Colinette headquarters tomorrow. I suspect they may have a tape measure I can use.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Vacation Knitting

A long flight looms, so I've carefully chosen a selection of knitting to keep me entertained...

A new lace design in Louet Signature Series Paco Vicunas.

A just-started sock in Regia Nation Colour red & white.

And a spare ball of sock yarn, just in case I finish the other two projects. It's the Shibui Sock I picked up at the Frolic.

And that's just for the flight. I have the second ball of each of the Shibui and the Regia for the rest of the trip. 2 pairs of socks and a lace scarf for 10 days. That should be just enough, I think.

As to the needles on the plane situation - I'm taking bamboo needles (safely protected in that fabulous little cardboard tube thingy) for the socks. For the lace, I have threaded a lifeline and put the work on an older short metal circular that I'm willing to surrender if airport security asks me to. The good needle is packed safely in the suitcase. This strategy has served me well in the past - if they do complain about my metal needles at security, it can safely be removed from my knitting, and I've got something else to work on. And if not, I get to knit lace on the plane. I find lace knitting ideal for long flights. Doesn't take up much room, and god knows there's nothing else to draw my attention away from it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Vest - done!

I'm pretty pleased with the result - very simple, very wearable. Will be useful on the imminent vacation - it's all about layers in Wales, you know.

And I'm even more pleased with the construction - as I mentioned, it's a top-down, one-piece, set-in sleeve number.

More details when I write the pattern up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Owls Sweater!

I made it long to better fit the judy in the store - and I rather like it! Cardiganized, with all-over garter edging.

Top-Down One-Piece Set-in Sleeve

(Owls is done but it's just at the shop waiting for Denny to sew the buttons on. Picture shortly.)

There's been something on my needles for the past couple of weeks, quietly designing itself. In the quiet moments between Owls, and lace designs, and technical editing, I've been working on an Idea.

It's a vest. A simple, black, v-neck vest with little rolled edges, from some leftover Karaoke.

But here's the thing.

It's worked in one piece, from the top down. And it has a shaped armhole. (It would be a set-in sleeve it were to have sleeves, but I don't have enough yarn.) And some bust and waist shaping.

I needed to prove it can be done. It's got shaped shoulders and everything! It's as easy as -- nay! even easier than! a one-piece top down raglan. And it's so much better a fit for me and my shape.

Although I'm known to be a curmudgeon about top-down one piece designs, there are a number of things I appreciate about them... love that you can try them on as you go. Love that you can decide about the length of the body as you go - great if you're worried about having enough yarn, or you're not sure about how long you want it. And of course, I do like working in the round.

The edgings are modest and rolled, because I didn't want the shoulders to be too wide, and I liked the simplicity of the shape contrasting with the slightly rough, unevenly-spun nature of the yarn. (There's nothing worse, IMHO, than a vest with armhole edgings extending past the tip of the wearer's shoulders. See the second one down, the pink one with the crewneck on this page. It's a minor detail, I know, but so important in making the vest look like it actually fits properly.)

I've worked the armhole and neck edgings, am past the waist shaping and now I am just going to knit until I think it's long enough, and then cast off. It's like a giant sock leg at this point - round and round and round and round... knit knit knit knit knit knit... I've been working on it in the car, mostly.

And soon, I shall have a vest! I shall write it up!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Owls Sweater & Cardigan Variant - And Class

I've been working an Owls sweater as a shop sample. It's a fun knit - works up quickly on chunky yarn, and it's got enough going on - some short rows, clever waist shaping, and of course the cabled Owls - that it's interesting, and provides a good learning opportunity.

Key learning: marker placement is critical. S., in my project class, also made this sweater, and had a rather distressing experience - her stitch markers ended up being misplaced, and what should have been back waist shaping turned into side waist shaping. We had to undo the yoke, but we chalked it up to lesson learnt, and S.'s attitude about it was excellent.

Me, I'm never so calm when I have to do undo my own knitting. Like last night.

I was well into the Owls stitch pattern, when I realized that I'd somehow gained a stitch - an Owl was 9 sts rather than 8. I had to pull back 6 rows.

Two notes on this - yes, even experienced knitters make mistakes like this. I added an extra stitch when I turned the cable - must have caught an extra loop of yarn on my needle. Rip, rip, rip.

And yes, I said rows. I'm turning it into a cardigan. There are a number of variations out there -- some with garter buttonbands but the original ribbed edging, and some with ribbed buttonbands to match the ribbed edging. The boss and I decided that we wanted to convert all the edgings to garter, and do it all in one piece.

It's coming out nicely, I think. I'm using Cascade Eco Wool. Just about done the Owls - properly this time. I hope to have it done tonight.

I will be teaching a class on the sweater - and the cardigan variant - in July. (With the designer's permission, yes.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

On Magic Loop; New Sock Design in Progress

After much interesting discussion about Magic Loop (read the comments, there's some good ones), I've decided to give it a go.

At the same time, I'm working on a new, specially themed sock design. A select few of you know what this is about... but I'm saying nothing until it's closer to being done.

I had started this with another yarn - some leftover Arequipa in a fabulous blood red colour...

but it was just too damn dark to see what I was doing. I also have concerns about my ability to photograph it.

On the magic loop experience -- since the sock is so heavily cabled, I am enjoying excellent points on the Addi Turbo lace needles. And because the patterning is worked twice around the sock, it's nice to have each repeat on one needle.

I'm getting a bit faster at it -- but I do find the whole pulling of the needles thing still annoying.

So yes, I can see the advantages.

Am I converted? Nope. Still love my good old dpns.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Irish Spring Socks: Yarn Foward Magazine

I'm proud to announce that one of my sock designs is being featured in Issue 13 of Yarn Forward magazine.

The "Irish Spring" socks.

(Picture copyright St Range Photography.)

These socks were designed specifically to meet a need: an intricately patterned cabled sock that doesn't require a cable needle. All the cables are actually clever combinations of twist stitches: one-over-one twists that are easily worked without any special equipment. And the pattern stitches are all easy to memorize, with very few rows.

Low-effort, high impact knitting!

P.S. Thanks for all the great comments re: magic loop and sock patterns... will post a summary on my learnings...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Magic Loop & a Question for My Readers

It's no secret that I'm a rabid sock knitter. And that my needles of choice are dpns.

As Knitty's sock queen technical editor for socks, I encounter a lot of patterns written specifically for Magic Loop.

Now, I am competent with the Magic Loop technique (video from I've even taught a workshop on it. But I'm not a fan.

I've been told that people like it because it's easier to manage than dpns. And that it reduces the risk of ladders (loose stitches between the needles).

I find the long cord, and all the pulling makes it tangly and annoying. And the ladders were actually worse. The thing is, it's really all about comfort and how I hold my needles. I get that. Ultimately, it should be the knitter's own choice.

I hate to be prescriptive about it.

Which makes me *faintly* embarrassed that all my sock patterns are written specifically for dpns. And makes me wonder about sock patterns that are written specifically for one needle type or another.

Me, I am miffed when I see a sock pattern written for magic loop, since I know I'll need to do some thinking to convert it.

So, blogiverse, a question: if you're a magic loop knitter, what do you do when you see a sock pattern written specifically for dpns? Do you convert it, or just ignore it? And if you're a dpn knitter, what do you do with sock patterns written specifically for magic loop - convert or ignore? More importantly, should we be demanding sock patterns that are fully general, allowing the knitter to choose the needles to be used? Would love to hear your thoughts.