Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Coming up for air

It's been a long time since my last post. Fall tends to be a busy time at work, so there wasn't much time for blogging.

The Lopi vest is done and has been safely delivered to it's new home. I'm still really happy with Lopi yarn, and will definitely be using it in the future.

The rest of the vest photos have been saved on Flickr.

I've also been baby knitting. I knit Miss Dashwood in Mission Falls wool: it took about 104 grams to make the largest size, in other words I used only a small amount of wool from the third skein.

Miss Dashwood is a quick knit, and I'm very happy with how well it turned out.

Last week, C and I went to the local Barnes and Noble to see Debbie Stoller present her latest book. Her talk was worth showing up for, and it was good to see the samples in person. C approved of enough patterns to make buying it worthwhile, so I did.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nearly FO

That cute Drops Jacket is nearly finished! All that's left is to weave in the ends, sew on the buttons, and block. This was a quick knit, but not as easy as I thought it would be.

Pattern: 103-1 Jacket in Eskimo or Silke-Alpaca with A-shape and ¾-long or long sleeves

by DROPS design

1. Shortened the sleeves because I'm short. I also extended the double seed stitch on the sleeves by an inch or so because I liked it and wanted it to be a bit more prominent.
2. Completely changed the sleeve caps. The caps as written would not fit into the armhole! As cosmicpluto recently observed, how can a 9 cm deep cap result in a set-in-sleeve sweater?
Instead of casting off 2 stitches every row until the sleeve was X cm long, I decreased one stitch each side every second row until it fit into the armhole, then cast off the cap according to the pattern. I'm really glad I followed my gut on this one because I achieved a very nice fitting set-in-sleeve sweater and not a modified drop sleeve others got by following the instructions.
See? Nice!
3. The collar was messed up too. The instructions said to pick up 24-28 stitches across the neckline excluding the front sides' cast-off parts (this is clear if you have the pattern in front of you). This was physically impossible for me to do unless I left huge gaps along the neckline pick-up row. So I picked up as many stitches as I normally would on any other sweater following the generic instructions of pick up stitch ratios along collars from the Knitters' Handy book of Sweater Patterns, and followed the pattern instructions from there until it was the right length to be sewed to the front sides' cast-off parts, then I cast off and sewed. I think it looks enough like the picture that I'm not sweating over this detail, and it'll probably sit nicer once it's blocked.
I think it looks OK.
4. A note on the yardage: the pattern says to use about 900 meters of yarn, and I used a touch over 600 meters. Go figure.

The yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky, colorway Damp. It's a nice gray-blue with blue, cream, and celery green flecks. What do I think of it? I definitely like it better than the aran weight version. As with all Rowan yarns I've tried so far, it's definitely NOT worth paying full price for, but I got a great deal on eBay because it's discontinued. So this time, I feel that I got what I paid for and then some. It was filled with vegetable matter, but luckily there were no knots anywhere. And each ply snaps extremely easily, but luckily this is a 2-ply yarn so no problems there. And it's reasonably soft. So, good for 5 bucks a ball, but definitely not for 15 bucks a ball. I think my policy on Rowan products is to only buy discontinued stuff. There's certainly enough of it floating around...

Well, this is my last post of the year because of a conference with no internet access, and going back home to visit parents and in-laws with no internet access, so happy holidays to all and a happy New Year!


p.s. I leave you with some husband knitting humour!

Me: Hey honey, how does this collar look?
Him: Hmmmm.... I don't know...... I think it's more of an anti-collar.
Me: What's that supposed to mean?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

No Christmas knitting here!

I'm just too busy, and all of those baby knits sucked up my will to give knitted gifts this year. Being so busy, I decided to only pursue relatively mindless knits this holiday season, so I started that Garnstudio Jacket that is extremely popular on Ravelry. This is Ravelry inspired project #2, where #1 was Klaralund. I have to stop browsing the pattern pages! The pattern for #3 is in the mail, shame on me, but I'm using the stash for that one. Anyways, I'm digressing.
Here it is, less than a week in, and I've finished the back already.
I'm making the large, and using Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky on a Denise US 11 needle. Huge needles+huge yarn+no cables = a fast knit! I've decided to use some buttons I picked up in Berlin, made of mother of pearl.
I may even have this finished by the time I go home for Christmas, which suits me fine 'cause I always freeze when I'm there.

I also cast on for the yarn-eating-monster a.k.a. Trud by Elsebeth Lavold.
This is not a fast knit, but the yarn is incredible to work with - Frankengarn Merino Naturwolle, which I knit at DK weight even though it claims to be a sport/fingering weight. This peplum has eaten 2 of the supposedly 9 balls needed for this sweater! Needless to say, I ordered more. For now, it'll be on hold until after the crazy business lets up a bit. I leave you all with a few photos from Berlin.

This was my daily morning view from the hostel boat. It's not a big party-boat like the website claims, it's actually very quiet and relaxing. I will definitely stay there again. It's also incredibly close (like 10 meters) from the last remaining parts of the Berlin Wall.
The wall isn't what I expected at all. I thought it would be huge and thick and made of bricks, and I guess I had that impression from that Pink Floyd album cover art. Well, it's not so big and certainly not thick. And right now it's very crumbly, and artists paint on it every year. Definitely worth checking out if any of you have the chance.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

So much to knit, so little time!

I went to Berlin last weekend and finished up Klaralund just in time for the trip; good thing too because it was FREEZING! Snow and hail and rain all at the same time. Yuck! But I love going to Berlin, so a little bad weather won't slow me down too much. I just wish I'd packed smarter. Anyways here's the pics and details.
And for the modelled shot:
It looks saggy in this shot because I'm slouching. It really fits me quite well, and is very cosy and warm. I'm not a big fan of wearing pullovers, but I really like wearing this one.

Pattern: Klaralund from Noro - Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Collection Book Number 2.

Yarn: Noro Kureyon 157 E, with balls swapped every second row except for the extended garter stitch pattern at the shoulders. I figured that part would look nicer if each flat bit plus ridge was a different color instead of striping within the pattern, so I swapped every 4 rows there (the pattern repeat is 4 rows).

Modifications: I added 1 inch of waist shaping on each side. I was also a bit hesitant about making the sweater because it tends to pull up at the neckline and look funny at the boob area. The last thing I want is to look like I have weird boobs. Check out the book's photo of this sweater on a fairly flat-chested young girl. Also google the pattern, you'll see many examples of this on other people with different figure types. My solution: I increased 1 inch on each side of the sleeve over the last 4 repeats of the extended garter stitch pattern. (The body is essentially a boob-tube and the sleeves are sewn into the top for shoulder coverage, giving the V-neck shaping, if you can't guess at the construction by the laying-on-the-bed photo). How did I come up with 1 inch each side? I put on the boob-tube and pinned it to my t-shirt at half-way over the boobs (this is where I figured the piece would lie from looking at many photos). Then I had my husband measure the length from back to front just over the shoulder (where there is not so much boob) and from half-way between my shoulder and spine (where there is more boob). With ease, I figured an inch would do the trick. I think it worked out pretty well, but each person should calculate this for themselves. Some people did not have this problem with this sweater, it could also depend on the broadness of one's shoulders.

Anyways, I'm very happy with the result! Yay! So what did I see in Berlin? Many shops, got my hair cut, many artsy cafes, and I went to an art gallery that was not so close to the city centre that has a large collection of pieces from 1400 to 1800 (or so, I lost the brochure). I was surprised at how well preserved the older pieces were, some of them managed to preserve the extremely bright colors of the paints. I mainly went to troll for costume ideas to augment my middle-ages dresses. There were very many religious paintings, but a few of relatively mundane situations. Here's the original photo I took of an inspirational piece from about 145o, roughly the late middle ages.
I know it's very blurry, but the lighting levels in art galleries are far from ideal for inexpert photographers and of course flash photography is forbidden. So do you see what I see? It's a capelet! This is what I came up with after some intensive photoshopping...
It's a textured capelet! I can make this... if you look closely it's a diamond and bobbles pattern, which I have in my harmony guide for aran knitting. And the edging? Hard to tell, but I think I could use seed stitch and get away with it. And I believe that there is a ribbon threaded though the edging and used as a fastener... I'll have to think about that because a worsted-weight capelet will be a bit heavy to be held shut by a ribbon-tie. I'd also like the capelet to be a bit longer than the one in the painting, but I'll have to see what I can get away with, with the 700-or so yards of gorgeous handspun blue aran weight wool yarn I bought in Berlin. Do I think the original garment in the painting was knitted? Before enhancement I thought the garment was made from a brocade fabric, but with enhancement I think it could have been knitted based on the shadows around the texture work. Who knows, I'm no expert. As long as it'll make it past the door-guy at the next festival, I'm happy. If only I had the CSI 'get-something-from-nothing' filter ;). I'll probably cast on after Christmas.

On the list of things to knit now: 1). The original design sweater which is being very naughty. I have to rip back many rows and rework the neckline. Boo! 2). Trud from Elsebeth Lavold Viking Knits Collection Volume 1 . Incentive: It's mostly reverse stockinette. If done as instructed (with seaming, yuck), it should be a reasonable fast knit once I get past the peplum. And I bought the yarn at the Easter Market, if I need more, I'll need to get it from the Market Yarn Lady who will be back for the Christmas Market. Disincentives: I'll need to do some serious math to make sure everything is in the right place. And I'll need to dig up my pre and post blocked swatch information. Still, I'm in the mood for it. I think I'll go do that now!


Monday, October 29, 2007

Argyle Vest

Yet another FO. I really should try harder to post about works in progress. Oh well... At any rate, I present to you the Argyle Vest from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits. Since it was a gift and the yarn was so beautiful (very soft and I love this color), I went ahead and used the yarn it called for in the pattern, which is Baby Cashmerino. What else can I say? Knitting with that yarn plus the Addi Turbos I treated myself to was like butter!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Maybe I need to start buying yarn that isn't the same color as my apartment, and separate yarns that are different colors!


Celtic Knot #6

Linked Rings With a Twist

Well folks, there is finally a new knot! These days I've been looking for inspiration, and increasing my Celtic Knot source library has helped. There are a lot of very beautiful knots out there, but they won't all look good on sweaters. I've also been hunting for good photos of Celtic Knot stone and metalwork for inspiration and came across a few good ones. I think I need a copy of the Book of Kells too, that would help! Anyone know where I can get one? Is there one?
Anyways, here's the knot... I coupled a linked-rings motif (probably identical to Lavold's from Viking patterns for Knitting) with a twisted-loop cable on the right.

This sample was knit from Wolle Rodel Soft Merino on US 8 (5 mm) needles. This was also done using Grumperina's method/tutorial of knitting cables without a cable needle. This takes a bit of practice to feel as natural as using a cable needle, but it's worth the effort. I'm tired of picking cable needles out of the couch cushions, the bottom of my purse, etc...!
This panel starts with 20 stitches, increases to 32 stitches (over the first 4 rows), then decreases back to 20 stitches in the last 2 rows. It's set up to be a 'true knot' with no beginning and no end, so I began with a hearts motif with a twisted loop to the side (rows O1-O16) which grows into the linked ring motif connected to the loops (rows 1-28) and finishes with a hearts motif with the twisted loop on the side (rows F1-F16). The center of the panel (main motif, rows 1-28) are meant to be repeated as many times as is desired, then finished off with the top of the knot. But the main motif would be nice on it's own too, it's just not a knot anymore, it's a braid.

Other modifications could include flipping this around and having the twisted loops on the left of the linked rings, or having twisted loops on both sides and eliminating the hearts (or pretzals [sic] ;) ). Excercise for the reader! This knot uses the legend from this project, so be sure to get it if you haven't already. I think that this would make a nice wide border panel, running along the long sides of an afghan or a cardigan. Here's the chart...


What's there not to like about miles of stockinette?

Especially at a loose gauge on big needles? It goes super-fast!
This is the front (or back, haven't decided yet) of Klaralund. I threatened to cast on last weekend, and this is how far I've gotten in 3 evenings. Not bad... I may be done in 2 weeks. I contemplated knitting this in the round with waist shaping, and changed my mind. While I am a bigger fan of narrower stripes, I also wanted to offset the one 'surprise' color that doesn't look so good on me, the orangey brown that shows up at the top of the lower hem garter edge that I offset with the red. Don't get me wrong, I like the color. It's the same color as my couch! And the red is the same color as my tablecloths, on small side-tables right beside the couch. Do I need to think outside of the color-box a little?

So what did I do? I knit from 2 different balls which start and end on different colors, alternating balls every 2 rows. (I attempted this trick with BSJ 2, but less successfully). And selecting balls which start and end on different colors wasn't hard, the striping of the balls in my bag is pretty random, and some balls have knots which join some very different colors. I also wound every ball and organized them so that orange-brown wouldn't end up near my face. I'm quite happy with the result. Here's a gratuitous stripe close-up.
As you can also see, I added waist-shaping too. While I'm not such a big fan of pullovers (this will be number 2, the first one was Menja) I prefer figure-flattering ones and I love hourglass shaping. So I think this will work out for me. Assuming it dosen't end up way too short. I was a good girl and blocked my swatch, but I think I'm knitting tighter on the real thing. My stitch gauge (pre-blocked) matches my gauge swatch, but my row gauge is coming out short, so I added one inch to the length before knitting the upper garter-stitch border, and extended the upper border a bit too.

All in all, I love Noro Kureyon. I don't think I will ever buy Sik Garden again (the recommended yarn for this pattern) because I find the mohair extremely scratchy, there are way too many twigs, loose threads and chunky bits that have no dye! In fact, for all my future Noro designed projects (I'm thinking of making Rocktorp next winter) I think I'll just swap in Kureyon. There are twigs and knots too, but it's not quite so bad, and my favourite knitting medium is pure wool. And the colors are fantastic. This easy project is knitting heaven! And I'm quite sure that this pattern would look very nice in a solid-colored or a tweedy yarn because the garter texture in a few places looks very nice.

Now I have to block all those baby sweaters sitting in the yarn box, the latest celtic knot swatch (sitting around now for about 2 weeks) and post it!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baby Surprise #2 is done... will there be a #3?

Here's the photos; the front...
and the back.
I think it turned out pretty well, and while the striping isn't as striking as I originally imagined,
this subtler effect looks nice too. Maybe if I had chosen much different colorways the striping effect would have been stronger.
Pattern: Babies' Garter Stitch Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman from Knitting Workshop.
Yarn: Lang Yarns Mille Colori, a 50/50 wool acrylic blend
Modifications: None, except I extended the sleeves by 1 inch, and knitted 3 rows in garter stitch around the neckline, to tie in the colors a bit better. I manually striped 3 different colorways of Mille Colori this time, with the blue-grey-brown mix being the 'main color' (2 balls), and a brown-grey (1 ball) and purple-grey (1 ball) being the 'secondary colors'. I knit 4 rows from the blue, then 4 from the brown ball repeatedly until the brown ran out, then knit 4 rows from blue and 4 rows from the purple ball. I knitted the 6 ridges of the button band and neckline finishing in blue, and extended the sleeves with the purple. The finished dimensions are 19.5 inches across the chest (pre-blocked).
Notes on the yarn: I HATE it and will never use it again. It's too fuzzy! It looks so fragile! But, after seaming last night, I tugged and tugged on a long scrap piece and... nothing happened. Then my husband did it and... nothing hapened. So it's stronger than it looks and is a decent seaming yarn, except for the fuzziness. Too bad it looks so pretty, taunting me from the LYS shelf. Never again!

Now for the pressing question - will there be another BSJ? The answer is yes. I found out last weekend from mom that the cousin and wiife are expecting their third child in April. Gender to be determined at a later date. So, I stood by my promise of only making quick and easy BSJs from now on (so I can have more knitting time for me!) and went to the LYS yesterday. I say a gorgeous red and black variegated yarn last time I was there, but unfortunately it had mohair in it. Mohair + Babies = BAD!!! Also mohair + cats = bad. Something about a choke hazard. I haven't heard anything about angora, or alpaca though. Either way, I think machine washable yarns for baby knits is best, so I picked up some Lang Yarns Soft Shetland in two purpley tweedy colorways. I think I'll be doing color blocks again, like for BSJ 1, but I have lots of time to decide. I'll cast on after Christmas, I think. Or I'll knit it on the plane ride home and present it to my mom to deliver with her gifts in March. Why did I buy the yarn so early? Well, when stuff is off the shelves here, who knows how long it'll take to reappear? The Lana Grossa Royal Tweed only showed up recently, and it's been off the shelves for 8 months! But shopping at LYSs is fun here. The service is good, but they want to know what you'll do with it! I brought my BSJ 1 to the store in anticipation of the question, and the LYS lady raised an eyebrow, petted it, identified the yarn correctly (Lana Grossa Mega Stoppino), said that my new yarn choice would work, and said it was very nice. Hopefully she won't think I'm some crazy 'kid' anymore when I come in to see what's on the shelves!

Now for the next project... Klaralund, to be knitted with this:
Noro Kureyon color 157 lot E. I bought it on Ebay, and hunted down many many pictures before buying a bag (10 balls) at a very reasonable price (about 60 bucks). It dosen't look exactly the way I thought it would, but with Noro, I know to expect that by now. I like most of it, and it looks OK on me (tested by holding it up to my face in a mirror), but I don't really like the brown. I guess I'll have to sort the balls to make sure the brown doesn't end up near my face. The pattern (Klaralund from Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton's Noro Hand Knitting Collection Book Number 2) looks very simple. One rectangle for front, back, and each sleeve. Here's a flickr picture or two of the sweater. I think I'll knit the body in the round, with waist shaping because I hate seaming (and overly boxy sweaters). And I'll do the sleeves in the round to the armpit, to keep the stripes the same width and to be sure they don't come out too long. All in all, I think it'll work. The colors remind me of south asia... check out these pictures!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun with fair-isle

Super-bulky yarn is hard on the hands, but makes for a fairly painless introduction to stranded colour knitting. I just have to remember not to pull on the stitches - looser is definitely better for both slip-stitch and stranded colour work.

I'm not a big fan of bulky or super-bulky yarns for garments, but I have to admit that the bulky Lopi is excellent; I chose Lopi for this project based on this review and am quite happy with the results so far.

C's uncle has a vest made in with what I think is pencil roving with some peerie bands and snowflake motifs: it was made over 15 years ago, and is now falling apart. As far as I can tell, it was knit in one piece from the bottom up, which seems like an efficient approach for this style. The only drawback is having to manage 6 balls of yarn intarsia-style.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A crazy couple of weeks...

I went back to Grenoble almost 2 weeks ago for another measurement time at the synchrotron. Whew! Round the clock measurements! Some serious knitting was done in the 10 hour ride to the facility, but it's top secret! Still, the end is in sight, and then I have to get off my butt, work out the yardages for different sizes as well as instructions, and submit it somewhere. Where? I haven't decided yet. When the beam was down for one day, I went to town and took some pictures...
I love fountains. Can't you tell? I also took a peek at a cute little yarn/bead/ribbon shop I found on a previous visit, and noticed that they now carry one French brand of yarn, before they carried only Rowan and Noro products. I picked up a couple of balls for this. Sans horns. I have made this hat twice already, and it seems to be the best hat for my enormous amount of big hair. The bonus in this design is that the headband does not draw in, so no hat head. Here's the yarn...
The company has a website but my yarn isn't there. Maybe it's older stock. It's an extremely soft 100 % superwash wool, single ply. I have fears that it's fragile and will pill, I'll have to see.
When the measuring time was over, the very obliging graduate student/driver agreed to an overnight stop in Strasbourg, which is very close to the German border. We wandered around for a couple of hours, had an excellent couple of meals and drove home.
Strasbourg is beautiful! I definitely intend to go back and have a proper vacation there. I also took a swing by the famous la Droguerie...
and pawed every single yarn in stock. Their website does not show any of their products if you want to go ahead and google them. I saw a laceweight mohair yarn similar to Rowan's Kid Silk Haze (minus the silk content), a heavier mohair blend, a large collection of sport/fingering weight wools in many solid colors, an alpaca DK weight yarn also in many solid colors, worsted weight wool, soy silk yarn, and a very pretty DK weight tweed. There was also some cashmere for a sinful price packed up in 10 g skeins. What did I come away with?
Buttons. They had beautiful buttons, almost too many to choose from. These called out to me, so I gave in. I was hoping they'd have clasps, but no luck there. The yarn was too expensive for my taste (80 euros for a sweater's worth of worsted weight wool - ouch!) and I can get similar things which look equally nice at the Christmas/Easter Markets for less money.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Finnish eye-candy

I was browsing around internet-land and came upon Ulla, a Finnish online knitting magazine.
The sweater on the cover is breath-taking, in my opinion. Wow. Everything I could hope for; fitted in the right places, loose in the right places, mostly simple (if you like knitting an awful lot of seed stitch) with very nice finishing details, like incorporating short rows and cables into the collar. Very clever design. Now the cables come straight out of Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting (except for the short-row corner of the collar), and I'm curious about the copyright issues of re-charting someone else's cable panels straight out of the book, but using a different notation. The full pattern can be viewed here. Either way I love it, but sadly I don't read a word of Finnish, and web translators do a horrible job on Finnish. But still, it's nice eye candy. And you can probably figure out the charts pretty easily if you're familiar with cable charts in general.

And if that one isin't enough to whet the appetite of a cable lover like myself, there's another gorgeous one in the same issue which can be found here. The cables are also straight out of Lavold's book. My issues with this piece are twofold; knitting it would take me 10 years. It goes to the ankle! Whoever designed it must be incredibly fast or incredibly patient (or both). Second, long sweaters make my butt look a mile wide. Look at the model! The second button (near her waistline) is bulging, and the butt-level button is left conveniently undone. Why are ultra-long sweaters not designed to incorporate the fact that most women have butts? This drives me nuts! Maybe someone should do something about this... or maybe I should design the perfect won't-make-my-butt-look-big long sweater. If only I had more time....
Still, the sweater is very pretty, and maybe a clever knitter could do some waist-shaping or something.

My parting thought: why do a majority of this magazine's models look so unimpressed, or even downright p*ssed off?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Another one off the needle!

The dress is done! Except for hemming, but machine hemming would ruin the shine on the fabric, so I'll Ebay some Wundaweb or Stitch Witchery to finish it off (fusible web bonding thingies, if you're not familiar with some of the brand names).
It's hard to photograph a full-length gown all by yourself with limited space in the middle of the night, so I propped up the camera on the dresser and made a mad dash to the bed to take these, that's why they're so crappy. As you can see, the skirt is very full. And swooshy. But the top is quite fitted. I like it, it's very feminine but completely impractical. I suppose I can only wear it to medieval festivals. But then again, that's the point! Now for the back...
I think that my sleeve mod worked out OK, and the lace up back looks very medieval, as the DH put it. Now for the deets:
Pattern: Butterick B4827.
Fabric: Embroidered Chinese Silk Taffeta and matching plain taffeta from Shah Textiles on Ebay.
Modifications: I took away an inch of fabric from the back, and shortened the dress considerably, because I'm short. I followed the fold lines on the pattern, and figured how much to remove by making a cheap mock up in a very coarse cotton. I also added an 'outer sleeve' over the pattern's inner sleeve in an attempt to increase the historical accuracy of the dress.
Overall opinion:
Shiny slippery fabrics are difficult to sew. I discussed it with my mother and she said that I had to apply a lot of tension to the fabric so the machine could catch the threads and not skip stitches (like it was doing until I called her up). Thanks mom! I think I strongly prefer to work with cottons and linens. No more silky stuff for me! Maybe the next one will the one of these... but it will have to wait, because I'm back in research mode! I go off to another beamtime in 2 days... so I'm trying to finish off as much stuff as possible, and blog about it at the same time. I figure that BSJ #2 will be done tonight or tomorrow, but blocking will have to wait a couple of weeks. But one bonus of that incredibly long drive to France is that we may stop somewhere along the way to break up the drive. My vote is on Strasbourg, yeah, you guessed it, to visit the infamous La Droguerie. I am not linking to their website because it doesn't show their yarns. Go ahead and google them to see pics of their yarn, definitely droolworthy.

Now that my major summer crafting project is done, I'm thinking about medieval dress accessories. It's cold and wet here all year round, so I think maybe this will fit the bill, to go over top on those cold rainy medieval festival days. Too bad it's not a cardigan, though. The yarn? Remember when I bought some gray wool for a somewhat grown up and sophisticated sweater that I can wear to work and not look like I visited Medieval Town and rolled a villager for her sweater on my way in? I changed my mind. Or a peacock feathers shawl using some peacock blue laceweight I've been hoarding, though that's not historically accurate. Or both.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's season premiere week ... and here I am

Um ... hi there. *wave* I'm um ... Carter. I know, it's been a while since I've posted or been around or what have you. Would you believe I was being held captive by Replicators? You know ... those baddies who are self replicating robot thingies that took on the aspect of being human but were really robots and who almost wiped out the Asgard and look like they're about to do a number on Atlantis? No? Okay then, long sob story short, the crap of doing a PhD got me. It all started with shutting down most of the stuff that I liked to do ... I stopped talking to people, and I didn't leave my apartment much. Finally, I went to visit my parents last Christmas and I just didn't come back for six months. But hey, now I'm back, I'm fighting (most of the time), and Ivanova and co. were kind enough to invite me back to contribute, which is awesome.

Without further ado I'll just get into the knitting talk. I'm sure I'll yap more about my problems later but I'm trying not to dwell on it all too much. Anyway, this is my latest sock project. I'm making it from some Trekking XXL that I shouldn't have picked up during one of my recent visits to the LYS. I have WAY too much unknitted yarn sitting around my place to be buying new stuff, but I sort of have this yarn shopping rule in my head that 'it's okay to buy sock yarn!' Anyway, the finished sock on the left there is too small. Also, I kinda whipped it up out of a toe up pattern that I found out there. While I was turning the heel I knew I was going to hate the sock, but I felt committed so I kept going. I thought maybe I'd end up liking it better? But nope. It's just not one of my favourite toe up patterns. The sock in progress on the right is Jaywalking from the Sept. 05 issue of MagKnits. I'm not actually crazy about the pattern because I don't like the structural element of the stand out stitch on the double decrease on the down side of the V (as seen in the picture), but I'm kinda tired of trying to figure out new patterns in a fly by the seat of my pants way. Plus, I think that the stitch does show off the yarn striping really nicely.

This is another sock destined for the frog pond. I love the stitch pattern (It's from Socks Socks Socks published by the folks who do um ... Knitter's Magazine) and the colour is great. The yarn is some Koigu Kersti that I had just sitting around looking for something to be done with it. Unfortunately, yet again the sock is too damn small. I swear I did a gauge swatch ... I still have it, in fact! I didn't think I had fat feet but ... dang, apparently I do. I love the pattern, though, so I'm going to redo it in a heavier yarn and a slightly bigger needle size.

Finally, here is the sleeve of a raglan cardi I'm knitting. I've been at work on this for two years now, I think, and I've been afraid to just take the plunge and finish it! The design is mine, and the yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. I love this stuff. I pulled out the body today to finish up the last inch or so before I join up the sleeves and make a go on the yoke. I've been ruminating about stuff like 'what if it just doesn't turn out' or 'what if I hate it' or 'what if ...' and after some talking to Ivanova I've decided that I just have to bite the bullet. It needs to finish so I can at least move on to some other stuff! (Today's moral in the land of knitting as a metaphor for life.) Anyway, I'm kind of excited now about how it's going to turn out. It's going to be good. I look forward to sharing when I have a bit done on the yoke.

So there's the overview on what I'm up to knit wise these days. I'll stop hogging the screen space now and I look forward to sharing more.


Friday, September 28, 2007

BSJ 2 is flying by...

It's so easy and so fast, I'll probably be done by the weekend. Then it's time to mail off all these baby things I've been knitting. This time I'm using Lang Yarns Mille Colori, but I'm manually striping the yarns instead of leaving them to form large color blocks like with BSJ 1. Instead of swapping colorways of these self striping yarns every 2 rows (like many people have done beautifully with stockinette or ribbing patterns and Noro yarns, as can be seen here and here) I decided to swap every 4 rows so I get 2 ridges of each colorway uninterrupted. But, this is not Noro. The color stretches are shorter, so it dosen't look quite so stripey. But I like it anyways, that is the sweater, not the yarn. It is a 50/50 wool acrylic blend, and while it is very soft, it's too fragile for me to knit with. It's a single loose ply, and my needle tends to miss some stray fuzzy bits so I have to knit quite carefully. It just spreads out and fuzzes too much for my liking. I even went out and got a new pair of ADDIS because my good old trusty cheapo aluminum needles were too pointy for this stuff. Overall, I wished that this yarn was a baby-friendly version of a Noro yarn, but it's just not as pretty as Noro yarns. I dislike the fuzzing and spreading even less than pulling out stray threads from Silk Garden. I will probably not use it again.

Why do I love and hate Noro so much? Sitting here working on this sweater made me wish I had a self striping sweater for myself, so I bought some Noro Kureyon for this sweater. Once this baby knitting is done, it's time to knit for myself again! And I'll need a(nother) nice warm sweater because it's dark, cold and wet already!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another non-knitting post

Okay, I know this is a knitting blog, but I think that posts about other crafts (like crocheting and sewing) are OK too. I've been making good use of the borrowed sewing machine, so I figured I could get another dress in before I have to give it back (in a week and a half!).
I'm working on another medieval-style dress. Why another one? Well, it's all fine and dandy to have a peasant dress that is plain and good for hot weather (100 % linen), but I also want something a little dressier. After all, I can be a princess if I want to be! I am using the same pattern as the previous dress, but with different fabric choices, and I redesigned the sleeve to be more historically accurate for a high-status woman. While it's not finished yet (2 evenings to go, not including hemming), I'm documenting the process I used to create this number.

Step 1: the inspiration.
I love watching TV and movies set in the past, and I recently re-watched Tristan and Isolde. OK, I know the movie has it's issues and one should rarely base a costume on Hollywood interpretation, but the dresses were PRETTY. So there. Go turn the volume off and look at the gorgeous gowns. Here's some pics lifted from web-posted screencaps.
Inspiration #1: Isolde's red coronation gown.
The fabric looks silky, and the center is a fancier patterned fabric, the sides are a plainer fabric.
The cut is very similar to the pattern I already have (Butterick B4827).
Inspiration #2: Cadfael. I watched all 4 seasons of the mini-series and looked at all of the gowns. The styles are all fairly similar, here's a screencap from season 2 episode 2, the Devil's Novice.
While this gown has a different construction, the design element I like is the narrow inner sleeve coupled with a wide outer sleeve. My pattern has a narrow inner sleeve, so I made an extra pattern piece that used the same sleeve cap shaping as the inner sleeve but tapered out to be as wide as my piece of fabric. This is not a floor-sweeping sleeve like you'll see on some medieval costume shop gowns, but I think it's a reasonable middle ground to increasing the historical accuracy.

The fabrics: Finding matching plain and patterned silky looking fabrics that aren't 100 % polyester on a budget is a challenge! I found a heavily embroidered silk-rayon blend taffeta and a matching plain taffeta on for a reasonable price, with shipping it came out to about $70 US with shipping. I know that's a bit steep, but this will be my only fancy dress that actually fits. It will go to the opera (if I ever go), the ballet and whatever else that needs formal wear. Friends take note: if you get married, I WILL wear this dress!

So now for the WIP shots:
I clearly took the patterned front and back, plain sides idea, and I think it works pretty well. Note that the side seams aren't pressed in this photo so they look sloppy.
Here's my take on the inner and outer sleeve, they are not sewn in yet, or hemmed so I did some folding to give an idea of how it will look when finished.
Here I'm actually wearing it, but the back tie-up closure hasn't been sewn in yet so it's just hanging on me. This dress has a lot of drape and is very swooshy, I love it! I just hope that I don't look to much like a curtain!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Travel knitting

Sock knitting makes road trips and long flights go by so much faster. I got in from Raleigh late last night, so I'll update on the bigger projects soon. Until then, I leave you a photo of an old message board (possibly Freemont culture) taken last weekend in Moab.

Baby Surprise #1 is off the needles...

This little sweater was sheer pleasure to knit, and it went on and off the needles very quickly. The only part that took me a while to get to was weaving in the ends and finishing the collar. I came across this blog post about weaving in ends when I made it to the last color change, and the information was EXTREMELY useful. Go read it NOW, you'll thank me for pointing this wonderful blog post out.
Now for the details:
Pattern: Babies' Garter-Stitch Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitting Workshop (page 157).
Yarn: Lana Grossa Mega Stoppino (65 % wool, 35% acryl, 98 yards/50 g) in 3 different greenish colorways, and one ball of Lana Grossa Furetto (76% wool, 14% acryl, 10% alpaca, 110 yards/50 g) in a greyish green colorway to finish it off. Mega Stoppino has been discontinued so I couldn't find any good colors to finish this off with, hence the fiber change.
Total yardage: 400 yards
Size: 20 inches across the chest.
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Buttons: Coconut wood

First, the sizing. I read on KnitWiki that you can change the size by changing your knitting gauge. I went for an Aran weight (or heavier) yarn on US 8 needles in the hopes of getting a jacket that would be big enough for a 1-year old. I fell a bit short of that, but it's still OK because the baby will fit it at some point, considering it hasn't been born yet. I found that the sleeves came in 1 inch short for a 20-inch baby sweater by consuting my few knitting books that contain baby patters, so I picked up stitches at the cuffs and knit an extra inch of garter stitch on each side. I also picked up stitches around the neck opening and knitted 3 rows in garter stitch, and cast off loosely. It didn't really NEED a collar, but I wanted to have the button band color around the collar too. I think it looks neater this way.

Next up: the fibers. I guess it's kind of moot because Mega Stoppino is discontinued, but I am not used to using yarns with acrylic in them. I am a yarn snob, I admit it. But a washable yarn has definite advantages for baby garments. While I would not use this fuzzy acrylicy yarn for myself, I would definitely make things for other people with it, this stuff is not half bad, easy to knit with, and came in some very nice colors. But I can't get it in town anymore except in some very ugly colors. Oh well. Now, when I ran out (haven't I learned the fiber insurance lesson yet?) I picked up another yarn only using color and gauge as the criteria, not washability. I picked up the Furetto. Whoops, it's not superwash! But it's a very nice yarn, and I would use it for myself (even with the acrylic) if I could dream up a good project to incorporate the color mottling, though not self-striping. This yarn is very easy to knit with! Sorry, I don't think it's made it to other countries yet, but keep an eye out for it when it shows up.

The pattern? Loved it. I admit it's weird to see an entire pattern fit on one page, but row by row instructions are not included. I wrote it out in the margins of my photocopy of the tiny little page. And it's easy to work out, no heavy duty math needed. And I didn't need a picture to figure out the assembly, I must have good spatial skills! (That will be put to the test if I ever learn how to parallel park a car.) It was very neat to knit a garment in one piece that isn't circular. Here's some more shots:
Here's the back. How come no one ever shows the back? It's very cool, especially with the color change. I dig the way those double decreases make corners. Here's a close up of my decreases...
Neat right angles. Very cool. I know I shouldn't be so thrilled by it, having been a knitter for all of three years, but very few patterns make use of the ability of double decreases lined up properly to form a sharp 90 degree angle. And increases, for that matter. Here are my increases...
I love it, and am already making another one!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's bumpy...

and stripey...

and pointy!
It's a Baby Surprise Jacket! So many babies, so little time until they are all due! I finally finished a complicated long slow (and unbloggable) baby gift, and I'm just flying through this one. This is a week's worth of progress, and I'm nearly done! The pattern is the Garter Stitch Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman, published in Knitting Workshop, and the yarn is three balls of greenish Lana Grossa Mega Stoppino, in different colorways. I'm not sure how big this is going to turn out, but it'll be plenty big enough for the baby to grow into. I may also need to pick up another ball, but I'll wait and see. This is a very fun knit, and I still have now idea how this will turn into a sweater, but I'll probably be done on the weeked, so I'll find out soon enough. From now on, every pregnant couple I know will get a BSJ so I can have more knitting time for myself!