Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Any Which Way But Loose?

Because I knit socks any which way I can...

I'm knitting a lot of socks at the moment - even more so than usual - because I'm prepping for my Sock Summit classes.

What's fun about this picture is that it shows that I'm willing to knit socks in a variety of ways: top-down and toe-up, on dpns, 2 circs, magic loop and a teeny-tiny circular needle.

In the picture, from the top:
-2 at a time, top down on two circs, in Briggs & Little Tuffy. The colours aren't sexy, and it's not the softest stuff in the sock drawer, but these will be just the ticket come February, in my boots. I'm using a bamboo and a metal circ so I can easily tell them apart. I cast them on a while ago, and am making slow progress as they're an excellent demo in my Two Socks at the Same Time (the easy way) class. They are 3.5mm needles, both very old, but I think one is a Clover and the other is likely an Aero.

Middle row, on the left:
-Colinette Jitterbug, top down, on my beloved 2.5mm 6 inch Signature needles. Of the four, this is my favourite needle configuration, and these are my favourite needles. The yarn is a tightly twisted 100% merino with lots of bounce. The stripes are very effective, I think.

Middle row, on the right:
Koigu KPPM in plain old black, top down, for Project Black Sock, on a 2.5mm 8 inch circular Addi needle. They don't see to be easy to find, but they are worth trying out, these tiny circs. No ladders at all! They take a bit of practice - I found I had to adjust my hand position to hold the needle without cramping - but they are really rather amazing for the autopilotiest of autopilot socks.

And in the bottom row:
A toe up on Knit Picks 32 inch 2.5mm metal circular for magic looping. A test of my adjusted toe-up sock template (more on that later). The yarn is some discontinued Online in the "Butterfly" series - a bargain basement find!

The amazing thing is that this isn't all of the sock projects I have on the go. There are five right there.

In addition, I have on the go two sets of my one-sock-inside-the-other, a plain black sock in Regia, and another of the black Koigu socks.

That's eleven. 11 socks on the needles right now. I mean, I do have an excuse, but this does still seem fairly extreme.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I know it's not a contest, but...

Fastest ever Knitty-publication-to-FO project for me - and for many others, I think. Knitty went live yesterday, I sewed the button on this morning.

Woo hoo!

I am loving the Pretty Twisted Cuff - a very simple and clever way to use up sock yarn bits, and to showcase a brilliant button.

The yarn is Koigu, in something tangeriney, and the button was a gift from Kara, purchased at Courage My Love in Toronto.

This makes me very happy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too Hot For Wool? Try Wire! Free Pattern!

Like many knitters, I also dabble in other crafts. I'd done some beading a few years ago, and still had tools and beads kicking around.

And then I tripped over the Annie Modesitt book, Twist & Loop.

How could I not? Knitting with wire is a marvellous challenge - it's knitting, alright, but it's so very different in execution and results. The pieces are small, and can be knitted in less than an hour. And it's so very sculptural, so structural.

The physical side of it is quite challenging, too. You have to change your expectations about how it feels to knit. You have to go more slowly, and more deliberately. And you definitely have to change your expectations about how the fabric looks - not only is it stiff, it's also very very untidy.

However, if you've got some beads and Artistic Wire or 24-30 gauge beading wire kicking around, and some needles you're willing to sacrifice (it tends to chew them up), then you should definitely give it a go. So much fun!

• 15 yds 24 gauge wire (.51mm)
• 4mm needles - 2 dpns, wood or bamboo are best
• bracelet finding - hook & eye style, bar & loop or lobster clasp & jump ring
• pliers & wire cutters

One size - length to fit. If left flat, approximately 1 inch wide; if curled for bangle, approximately 1/2 inch wide.

Doesn't matter, for once!

Cast on 6 stitches - the long-tail method is best. Knit until bracelet measures 6-7 inches long. Cast off loosely.

For a cuff style bracelet, leave flat. For a bangle style bracelet, roll piece lengthwise around one of your dpns.

Attach findings. Weave in ends, using pliers.

If you're interested in learning more, I definitely recommend you check out the Modesitt book.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Continuing on the Topic of Tech Editing: What Drives You Crazy?

I make no secret of the fact that I get cranky about poorly written knitting patterns - as a designer and tech editor, it feels like an opportunity missed. A weak pattern leads to frustrated knitters, and frustrated knitters become non-knitters.

Now, none of this is to say that I expect every designer to be a great pattern writer. Designing and writing patterns are different skills - and that's ok! I would rather that the incredibly creative genius designer types focus their time and skills on that!

It's all about division of labour: leave the creativity and designing to the designers, leave the pattern writing to the pattern writers. If you're a designer, get a tech editor to help you with your pattern!

At Sock Summit, I'm teaching a class on how to write up a good sock pattern, and I want to pass along as many suggestions as possible for what to do (and what not to do).

To help me with that, a little survey for you, my dear readers: what drives you insane in patterns? What do you wish was better explained? What frustrates you?

Let me know, so I can do my bit to help educate pattern writers - and become a better tech editor, too.

Leave comments or drop me an email. Thank you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How I Celebrated World-Wide Knit in Public Day

Dexter is eagerly awaiting the arrival of They Might Be Giants onstage for their Luminato arts festival gig. The bag is full of treats and toys we bought him at the Woofstock dog festival.

A good day for the whole family.

Reader Mail: How to become a tech editor

A reader commented on my post about my technical editing work, asking how one becomes a tech editor.

There are two parts to this: how you get the required experience to be able to proudly describe yourself as a tech editor, and how you find the work?

How to get some experience and learn the trade:
1. Well, ok, the first one is obvious, but you should knit a lot. Knit from other people's patterns, all sorts of garments and accessories and items. Knit patterns published in different countries - UK standards can be very different than US standards; knit from European patterns - very, very different. Knit from different books and magazines and designers. And knit as many different things as you can, so that you're familiar with all sorts of garment constructions and types of patterns. A sock tech editor, for example, needs to know how to do toe-up and top-down.

2. Do some sample and test knitting. Designers are always looking for people (yes, me too!) to produce samples and to test knit patterns to review the instructions. This gets you in the position of being able to see patterns as they develop, and to provide feedback on how a pattern is written. Test knit instructions can often be rougher, less well articulated, than final patterns - and this gives you a chance to review for mistakes and missing info, and think through a pattern and how it can best be written.

3. Write some patterns of your own. You don't necessarily have to be designing complex garments, but write out a pattern for your favourite scarf or hat. Next time you make an on-the-fly modification to a pattern, write it down and then write the pattern for what you did.

3. i) When writing up a pattern, use formats/templates from different publications as a guide.

5. And last but not least, attend my "Writing Up A Awesome Sock Pattern" class at Sock Summit... You know, if you happen to be in Portland this summer.

As to finding the work, as with most things, it's about putting yourself in opportunity's way. Make contacts; get to know designers, through Ravelry, meeting them at local events, taking their classes. Talk the them! Volunteer your time - as a test knitter, as a tech editor, as a proofreader. Trust me, any designer will be thrilled with an offer of test knitting, and will be very grateful.

On that note... I've got a shawl pattern I need a sample worked up from... anyone?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Serious Knitting Injury

A long-time student and knitting friend of mine, the lovely J., shares with us a cautionary tale.

She was on a very crowded streetcar on the way home from work, as always, with a sock project. In the shuffle to disembark, her knitting bag was pushed against her, and one of her wooden sock needles stuck her in the leg.

Although it stung, she didn't worry too much about it at the time, and upon inspection, it hadn't bled.

The next day, her leg was feeling sore, and looking bruised and swollen around the injury site. And over the next few days, it got more and more sore, and more and more swollen, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. A tetanus shot and a big box of antibiotics later, she's feeling much better, I'm pleased to report.

The doctors say that it was likely a combination of factors: the needle unluckily hit a vein, and some opportunistic bacteria took advantage.

Still, lesson learned - a needle spike shouldn't be ignored.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

New Friends

I do so love the internet. Earlier this year I had an email from a knitter in Iceland. Hrönn, a fashion designer and teacher, was coming to Toronto and she had a few questions about what to see and do here.

(You should visit her blog; even if you don't read Icelandic, you can see pictures of her work, all original designs modeled herself and by her beautiful daughter.)

We had a lovely chat by email, and I had fun sharing with her all the great things I love to do in this city.

She was here this past week, and we arranged to meet.

Hrönn is an amazing woman - she was wearing a dress she had designed herself from vintage fabric, and she fitted in so very well with the boho chic on display in Kensington market in the summer. I loved spending time with her (and her friends) and talking about knitting, beer, fashion and family life.

And she brought me a gift: a big bag of Lopi yarns! Beautiful, fine, natural coloured Lopi yarns. Laceweight Lopi! Just the sort of stuff I love. Hrönn doesn't know this about me, but I'm well-known among my knitting friends as the girl who can wear Lopi next to my skin, so she can be certain I will enjoy working with and wearing it.

I'm already considering a lace design or two for these yarns.

She also brought me a book of Lopi patterns (in English, thank goodness) I've never seen before, which has a fascinating history of Lopi knitting.

And tucked in with the yarn was some Opal licorice candy - a typical, traditional Icelandic treat. I absolutely love the box design.

Thank you, Hrönn (even though I can't pronounce your name properly!) - it was great to meet you, and it was very sweet of you to bring me such wonderful gifts.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Christmas in June?

Hitsuji: Chunky weight Noro Kureyon.

Cannot wait to get some of this on my needles.

I may well be hyperventilating.