Monday, January 29, 2007

There's an old guy in Tokyo who really needs my foot up his ass

Check this out (via Boing Boing).

"...may not be so appropriate to call them machines"? Who the hell writes this guy's speeches? The pace of social change can be glacial.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Shawl collar tips

The baby kimono jacket is coming along nicely.

The i-cord edge rolls a little, but I don't care that much since the line of picked up stitches looks fairly neat.

I wanted to share a lesson I learned while working out how to do a shawl collar in a contrasting colour:

First pick up the stitches in the main colour, then start working the collar stitches in the contrasting colour. I found that picking up stitches in the contrasting colour looked terrible because of the gaps left by using only a fraction of the rows of curved neckline and having the selvedge show through.

I used a couple of Knitty patterns (Starsky and Folly) to figure out how to shape the collar with short rows. I knit 1 row in k1p1 rib (including the stitches from the i-cord edging, however I knit the last i-cord stitch and the first picked up stitch together to join the edging to the collar more firmly), placed markers at the shoulders, then did short rows at 2 stitch intervals in k1p1 rib until I used up all the stitches. Be sure to pick up and knit the wraps if you use the wrapped stitch short row technique, or whatever you're doing to prevent holes, while you're making the short rows. I did a couple more rows of k1p1 rib, then used the crochet bind-off. I wanted a firm bind-off edge to help keep the shape, which allows the collar to fold over nicely. We'll see how this looks after washing.

My first FO of the year!

Well Menja is finally done and wearable! I do love it, even though the collar still succumbs to gravity, and it's toasty warm too. Good thing too, because we got hit by a cold spell this week, and I really need the wool sweater. Here's a couple of pics:
Pattern: Menja by Elsebeth Lavold, fron the Viking Knits Collection Volume One.
Yarn: Knitpicks Merino Style color Storm
Mods: none, but I checked the errata at the last minute and I'm glad I did. There was an error in the book about the hemline needle size.
If I could do it again what would I do different?
Well, I didn't like the way the pattern said to do the raglan decreases: decrease 2 sts every 4 rows. I thought it looked bulky and sloppy, but luckily it's all hidden by the enormous collar. I would have decreased 1 st every second row, which I believe is the 'standard' way to do it.
I also would have swatched the collar on needles 1 and 2 sizes smaller, because my collar was much longer than the space around the neckline. I also would have bought an extra ball of yarn, because I ran out while working on the collar, and Thrace totally bailed me out with leftovers from a baby sweater made in the same yarn, same color. I am deeply grateful. So if anyone out there wants to make this one, GET FIBER INSURANCE!!!
Comments about the yarn:
I like it very much. Extremely soft, excellent price, great color, and it shows texture beautifully.
Comments about the garment:
I'm not a big fan of pullovers, but I can live with this one, because of the open neck i.e. I don't feel like I'm being choked by the sweater. But the neckline is extremely open, which means it's harder to get a shirt under there to protect the garment from the dreaded white antiperspirant
stains. I bought a black ballet-style neck extremely tight shirt from H&M in anticipation of this problem, and it's ok... but it's not great. Still, I am not a fashionista, and I care more about preserving the sweater then about some black shirt peeking out around the neckline. I love the drape and waist shaping, and the way the hemline and sleeves are slightly flared. The most important feature: it's warm!

Now for the WIPs:
Here's the blue cabled tweed sweater. I think I should name it, how bout Eva? From now on, it's Eva. This is the left front, and I think I could finish it today. Then the plan is to do the right front, and while finishing the right sleeve, block and seam the back and fronts. then while the sleeves are blocking, finish the button bands and shawl collar. I think I may be able to finish it in a month or so, now that I've finished the back it's a pretty fast knit. Now I have to decide which of the buttons I've aquired over the Christmas break will look best with this sweater. Tudor rose metal buttons or really old-looking bone buttons with knotwork-style carved in detail. More on that later, when it's time to work the buttonholes. Maybe I'll hold a vote, to try
to lure some of you out of lurking.

Now for a flash of some stash:
These are what I aquired from virtual yarns, the hank at the back is Alice Starmore Hebridean 3ply (DK weight) color Erica from the Moor and Mountain collection. This hank is my fiber insurance for Shedir, and the color is fabulous. Slightly tweedy, with flecks of grey and fuschia with some cream halo. I love this yarn, it is a complete pleasure to work with. The next two hanks from the back to the front are Hebridean 2 ply (fingering weight), colors Mara and Pebble Beach from the Sea and Shoreline collection. Mara is not tweedy, and Pebble Beach has fabulous flecks of bluish and reddish tones. They are destined to become Eunny's Endpaper Mitts some time in the next year.

That purple tweed cabled number I made last year that I gave to my mom, and was stolen by my grandmother (nobody minds because she loves it), is causing quite the stir at the post-retirement facility she is settling into. People are noticing the unusual design and interesting cable patterns!


Saturday, January 27, 2007

I knew Shedir would be tough...

with the biggish yarn (DK weight) on tiny (US 3, 3mm) needles, but I had no idea it would break my cable needle! Snapped, clean in 2 pieces! Here's a photo of the offender.
The yarn is Alice Starmore Hebridean 3 ply color Erica. I purchased it from her website. I must say (and I am in no way affiliated with the yarn company) that this is the nicest wool that I have EVER used. Soft feel, gorgeous color, good twist and tightly plied. I find that yarns ALWAYS split on my needles, especially on wood or bamboo. Not this stuff! It's knits well, shows texture nicely and is tweedy to boot. What could be better?

I am sad about the snapped cable needle, though. It was a nice wooden one, from a Knitpicks set. I'll have to wait till I go back to North America to replace it, I guess. I already lost another one of the three on a plane, and I was bummed about that too. I spent the afternoon looking for a suitable replacement at the LYS, and they didn't have any teeny tiny dpns (for fingers of gloves) at the store, so I got one of those awful big bent metal contraptions. I guess I'll have to ebay Addi Turbo products to get a set of small DPNs.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

I can see myself in...

the Cable-Down Raglan by Stefanie Japel, as seen in the preview of the Spring IK! Isin't it pretty? Wouldn't it look great in a nice heather or tweed in a light color? I can see myself purchasing yarn for this once the KFYS year is up!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

FO: Shedir

I skipped out on SnB tonight to watch some tv. That left me with some time to finish off an old project.


Shedir by Jenna Wilson. Great pattern, I'd love to make another one!
Approximate dimensions:

  • unblocked: 8.5 in (21.6 cm) diameter, 7 in (17.8cm) depth brim to crown
  • after very gentle blocking: 10 in (25.4 cm) diameter, 8 in (20.3cm) depth brim to crown. The hat gained 18% in width and 14% in depth.


Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK (used 52.7 g) on US 3 (3.25 mm) Inox/Prym needles. I used the 2 circulars method when there were too few stitches for a 16 inch circular.

The fabric I got as the final product is a little dense, which is fine for a hat, but still drapes well. The cable pattern shows up reasonably well after blocking and running a pumice stone very gently (I left most of the fuzz alone) over the fabric. Alpaca Silk doesn't tolerate frogging very well, and will pill with frequent handling, such as when you're knitting with it.


Like Eunny, I only did 3 repeats of the Saxon braid. My intuition about the yarn was that it would bloom after washing, and it did.

In hindsight, should have gone down a needle size for the ribbing at the bottom: as you can see from the photo below, the bottom looked sloppy. On the other hand, there was no fracking way I was going to rip out the tubular cast on, so I ran some elastic thread through the ribs near the cast-on edge. I think it turned out OK.

I now have 42.1 g of Alpaca Silk to use up, probably as embellishment on a small project, preferably not near any stress points.

I used this project as an experiment to see how a garment knit in this yarn would turn out (Elizabeth Zimmermann recommended knitting hats as gauge swatches, which is genius). Based on this experiment, I'd knit patterns from the Alpaca Silk books with sturdier yarns with at least some wool content.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ugh! I HATE finishing!

So I haven't posted about Menja in a while. Last I posted, I had completed all of the pieces, and had seamed most of them. There was just one hitch - the collar was several inches longer than the neckline! Well, I plowed through, and gathered it slightly and evenly all of the way around, and I got it sewn in. Upon trying it on, I realised that the collar succumbs to gravity, and pulls the seam down, exposing reverse stockinette all around the neckline! Also I noticed that one of my sleeve seams was cr*p, and the cables didn't line up at the cuff. So today I fixed the seam, and I'm re-blocking to make a fold in the collar that will hopefully stand up to gravity. The collar HAS to be right - it's the central feature in this design! Here's some pics:
The hemline also rolled, but once it was wet that stopped. It looks so beautiful, I can't wait to wear it!
Here are all of the pins trying to force a fold where one dosen't exist. If this dosen't work, I will try tacking the collar down with a few stitches here and there, and if that dosen't work, I am going to rip the collar and re-knit it with US4 needles. Then it will DEFINITELY be smaller. But that will also take time... and I'm feeling serious cable angst. Must have cabled sweaters!
I gave away the purple one to my mom, who then had it stolen from her bymy grandmother (what can I say - everyone loves that sweater!) and I still have to complete 2.8 pieces on the tweed/noro cabled number. I want one so much, I tried one on at a sale rack while I was shopping yesterday. The price was right - 25 euros - the same price as the on sale towel I had just bought, but it made my butt look a mile wide. I know, commercial knitwear hissssss, but I'm cold! And my favourite wool sweater (also commercial knitwear) gifted to me by my DH in the first year of our relationship (how many years ago... 5?) is seriously starting to pill. Sigh...

On the other projects front, I have completed 2 more inches of the blue tweed/noro number and I have decided to rip back one pattern repeat of my mystery project because it's longer than I had expected. It will be tricky with the tiny yarn and lacey pattern, but I'm willing to start over if I have to, because it has to be PERFECT! Oh the woes of being a perfectionist...


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why yes! It's....

Urban Decay Saturday! I have some old u.d. for you today...
This is the oldest standing building in the city - it was built in the 15th century. It was the city hall from 1789 to the late 1800's. Now it's a very nice restaurant and pub. And yes, your eyes are not decieving you - it's crooked! The inside is equally distorted. Check out the bulging on the side of the building.
Hee hee! I love it! It's pretty AND decaying. I believe they are planning to do some restoration work in the near future. Now for the mystery project update shots:
It's gotten bigger and much more quickly than I anticipated. Can anyone guess what it is yet?
Here's a gratuitous close-up shot as a clue
The stitch pattern is very pretty, and a bit complicated, so it needs my full attention, as well as decent light. You can see a bit of the yarn's tweediness in this shot. I think I prefer my yarns tweedier, but it's still very pretty. Unfortunately, this yarn is kindof driving me crazy. It is a 2 ply (why they call it a 4 ply still excapes me) and sometimes one of the 2 strands gets really thick and thin. And when they both get thick, it makes my stitches bulge and look kindof distorted. And it splits on my needles sometimes - I shudder to think what would happen if I were using bamboo or wooden needles with more grab to them. But it may be my fault for going below the recommended needle size but I just couldn't get gauge on a US 3 needle, and the US 2's are not available here so I had to go down by 0.25 mm and ended up with a 2.5 mm needle. Also the yarn is scratchier than I expected, but I'm sure a wash will fix that up. It's not intolerable or anything.

Now I leave you with some eye-candy:
I love the shade of green of the building in the background. I want yarn in this color! Maybe next year...


Friday, January 19, 2007

Siznock yarn is OK ta buy, riznight?

Yes, I did it. I translated our blog into Gangsta with Gizoogle! Go try it - it's fun! So now you all know what I do late at night when my husband is sleeping... I check out sources of tweedy yarn on the internet, stumble across things like Gizoogle, and take online quizzes. See below, of all the tarot cards in the deck I am the High Priestess. Go figure...

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I have also made decent progress on my mystery project, I had no idea that a project using tiny yarn on tiny needles could go so quickly! I will post some decent pictures tomorrow when there is some daylight. Oh, and I experienced the first real windstorm of my life yesterday, in that I was outside, in it. Everything shut down, even the German railway system. THE ENTIRE THING. So what do I do? Walk home... it was blowing so hard, I was walking at a 45 degree angle just to be able to move forward, and then when the wind stopped for a second, I would fall downwards, and the wind would come back and lift me up again! I guess there was a reason I was the only person out and about!


Monday, January 15, 2007

On anniversaries, baby knits and banker boneheads

The exchange I mentioned in my last post was part of the Salt Lake City SnB* third anniversary celebrations last Tuesday. Margene and Susan have better posts and pictures than I can manage. I got this cute purse knit (it's lined and divided into 2 sections!) by Jacquie as part of the exchange. Check out her site for the details.

We also got a really generous gift of handmade soap from Laurie.

I'm still procrastinating on Arisaig and Shedir by working on this baby sweater for a friend's brand new baby. The design is based on Barbara Walker's top-down kimono.

This photo shows the sweater after I've worked the top, grafted the sleeves, formed the gusset and finished the neckline increases. Note to self: practice grafting!

Here's what the underarm gusset decreases look like. I opted for centered decreases that line up with the grafted stitches.

In other news, it's not easy to grow a small business in a niche market. Being undermined by your bank doesn't help. Fortunately for Blue Moon Fiber Arts, their business will recover. The Yarn Harlot has the story so far.
The bank in question apparently needs to figure out how to handle security and fraud concerns without treating their clients like criminals by default (a fallacy in some security schemes, take DRM for example, and check out Bill Gates' take on the subject). I'm getting off the soapbox now.

Updated (01/21/07) to add:

Guess what made the Freakonomics blog (love those guys)?

* Musn't use the forbidden words S****h and B***h.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Arrowhead lace

This is the neck warmer/smoke ring/wimple thingie that I knit for the arrowhead lace exchange. I didn't model the smoke ring because I have a cold and didn't want to contaminate it with my germs after washing it.

Caryll McConnell's Wavy Feathers Wimple.


One skein Madil Kid Seta from the stash Ivanova gave me, worked on a 16 inch US 4 (3.5 mm) needle.


Since the exchange called for arrowhead lace or little arrowhead lace, I rewrote Caryll McConnell's pattern as follows:

I cast on [ (6 * 4 + 1 + 3) * 5 = ] 140 stitches, joined to knit in the round and knit garter stitch edging as directed. Then instead of knitting the feathers pattern, I knit [3 stitches stockinette, then 4 repeats of little arrowhead (6 stitches / repeat + 1) lace] * 5 per round until the piece reached about 14 - 14.5 inches (don't remember the length exactly) then I finished as directed. This used up pretty much the entire skein.

When blocking, I was most concerned with getting the length to 16 inches, which was fairly easy. I didn't attempt to stretch the lace widthwise. The smoke ring turned out to be light and airy, probably best suited to spring, fall and warmer winter days.

Sock yarn is OK to buy, right?

According to the rules of 'knit from your stash', anyways... Well, I was concerned I didn't have enough of the Rowan 4-ply tweed that I bought over the holidays, for the intended project, Shedir from Knitty. And, since I bought the wrong weight of yarn (stupid jet lag!) I would have had to hold it doubled. So now I have cast on for a new (mystery) project, and I still don't think I have enough. So... I broke down and bought 2 more balls. This way I won't have to make it shorter, or anything like that. Here's a decent photo of the yarn. Finally, some decent natural light was streaming in the bedroom window.
The yarn in real life is a touch more purple, but this picture gives you the idea well enough. The
color is claret (013). Here's a much better detail shot, but it's only half way through I pattern repeat, anyways.
I like it so much, I want to make it full length, hence the extra sock yarn purchase. Now, I am NOT a color knitter (no fair isle here, posted by me), but I don't dislike the look of it. For example I find most of Alice Starmore's work, not to mention Eunny Jang, among others, color work absolutely stunning. I guess that I am just intimidated by dealing with many strands of skinny yarn on tiny needles. But it's so beautiful! Well, since sock yarn is OK, I purchased enough sock yarn (2 ply) from Virtual Yarns to make Eunny's Endpaper Mitts. I figure a small project that is practical and wearable (and relatively inexpensive compared to a whole sweater, like the Venezia pullover) is a decent way to start color knitting. I saw the Venezia pullover in the Winter 2006 Interweave knits, and I thought it was absolutely stunning. And I would look fabulous in it. But colorwork AND steeking? Well, let's see how I feel next year, when I've completed my first colorwork project, and I'm off the yarn diet. Oh, and BTW, for those of us on this blog who are interested in aquiring tweedy 4-ply yarn in sweater quantities, Virtual Yarns offers free shipping for orders larger than 12 pounds anywhere in the world. So their yarn might not be the best deal pricewise, but shipping a pound or two worth of yarn across the atlantic might make a reasonable difference in pricing a project. I will report on the yarn when I recieve it.

So what about the hat which prompted my decision to purchase a sock yarn? Well, as I was investigating my Rowan options, I found out that not all of the colors available in the 4 ply are available in other weights. Count on me to gravitate towards one of them. Harrumph! I found a very similar shade in the Virtual Yarns 3 ply (approximately DK weight), so I got enough for the hat. I don't consider it a breaking of the yarn diet, because it's a small quantity, the color I liked would never have been at the lys in the right weight (or anywhere in the world), and I planned this project well before the New Year anyways. So there.

Now for the blue tweed sweater progress shot:
Here are the back and the left sleeve. The colors are quite accurate in the picture. At first, I was
a bit worried about how the sleeve would look with only one cable panel (okay, surrounded by a braid on each side) because it's so wide, but now that it's done, and can be viewed with the back, I think it looks good. And it's a quick knit, I finished the sleeve in less than 2 weeks, because of all the reverse stockinette. And, holding up the sleeve up to the back, I figure I don't have the sleeve cap problems I had with the purple sweater. So for the time being, the mystery project will be my thinking knit, and the blue sweater left front will be my easy knit.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

The brewery is coming down...

It is currently falling apart, and the city will tear it down soon. This local brewery has been in it's current location for so long, they named the street Brauweg (brew-way or brew street, I think). Will they re-name the street once it's gone? Probably not, but it will be weird to walk down Brauweg with no Brauhaus. They'll probably put up condos or something.

So I've been knitting something...
My apologies for the faded-out photos, I tried to photoshop them, they were dark and somewhat blurry. Harrumph. In my experience, dark yarns do not photograph well. Or I suck at taking photos. Or both. So... what is it? I'll let you people out there guess, but here's a few hints. The yarn is a Rowan tweed 4 ply (color claret), whose name got the company caught up with a copyright infringement case. So then the yarn line became Yorkshire tweed, then Scottish tweed. As far as I can tell, they are more or less the same line. What's up with that?

So here's a picture to scale the needle size:
The big needle with a few rows is a US 8 (5 mm) with the beginnings of the left front of my blue tweed cabled sweater. I finished the sleeve this week, and I will try to take decent photos in natural light tomorrow. These needles are tiny. I couldn't find a US 2 (2.75 mm) needle, so I'm using a 2.5 mm needle instead. Tiny! The smallest needle I have ever used.

Now for the detail shot...
Again, it's all faded out, but you can make out the texture. Is it the one thing I said I would never knit (a sock)? Wait and see...


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In the spirit of fun...

I attempted to make a button for our new day, and if anyone else wants to join in the fun, well, you get the picture? What do you all think of the picture? Will it work as a tiny button? How do I make it into a button?


p.s. My thanks to Delenn who snapped the original pic with my camera, which I photoshopped.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Knit from your Stash: personal guidelines

Since I need additional incentive to knit the stash back down to manageable levels, I'm adding new rules for myself:

2.d.1 If I fall off the wagon and buy yarn, I will add at least the amount spent on yarn over and above my per-paycheck contribution to my money market account.

6. If I fall off the wagon more than the allowed one time pass, I will add twice the amount spent on yarn above my per-paycheck contribution to my money market account.

As you can see, I've recently made a resolution to save more money. We'll see if I can stick with this until September.

Sleeve Progress and needles...

Here's how far I got over the Christmas break and yesterday night - I discovered a mistake in the swallowtail shawl, so I brought this along to a party instead. One panel and a bit done, 2 and a bit to go! I decided the sleeve would not be narrow at the wrists because I thought it looked a bit dorky on the last sweater I made. So it's straight up till the armhole decreases... I'll just have to wait and see how it looks, I guess.

Now, about the needles. I used my Denise interchangeables for the plane ride (no issues with airport security whatsoever). Note that one woman in the lounge area near the gate came up to me and said, "They let you through with that? How?". I told her that I read the airline's page of
banned items, and *all* knitting needles are allowed, however the airline has a preference for plastic and wooden needles (I guess bamboo counts as wood) and for circular needles with a short cable. She said "thanks", so I guess that she was a knitter who hadn't looked into the issue of knitting on airplanes. So out of fear that my brand spanking new Addi Turbos (which are quite a bit cheaper in Germany - duh!) would be confiscated, I used plastic Denise needles. Now I found that my knitting gets all jammed up at the join. All the time, even going up to a US 10.5 with an aran weight wool. I know I'm a tight knitter but this is ridiculous.
Now for the Addis, which I'm currently using. I think this is the smoothest join I have ever come across! But I find them a touch too slippery compared to cheapo aluminum needles. Will I ever be satisfied? Has anyone out there tried the Knitpicks Options needles? Please comment if you have tried them!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's my favourite day...

Yeah, you guessed it, Urban Decay Saturday! My husband noticed a burned (and melted) recycling bin on our way to work a couple of days ago...
and people are still putting their recycling in and near it! Here recycling is different than my North American experience. In my old town, you put your recycling in a bin and the city picked it up every week or two. Here you walk (or drive) your recyclables to your neighbourhood's giant bin. My first thought was of Thrace's post... someone recycled novelty yarn! Then, upon closer examination I noticed this poster on an adjacent bin...
I guess someone just couldn't wait!

Anywhoo, in this week's knitting update, I didn't get nearly as much sleeve done as I would have liked, I tried out my new ball winder and swift and made some of my Christmas Market yarn into a ball, and cast on for a shawl. Inspired by brooklyn tweed's aran weight Shetland Triangle Shawl by Evelyn Clarke (from Wrap Style) I cast on for it with my aran weight mystery wool purchased at the town's Christmas Market. It's VERY soft, so I'm guessing it's merino. It also seems quite durable, so who knows. I like it. Anyways, upon making numerous swatches, I had to go up to a US 10.5 needle (bt used a 9) and still thought it was a lumpy mess.
Does this
look anything at all like this? I know that blocking would help a bit, but it can't turn a curving-inwards lump into a beatuful shawl, so I decided a more open lace would work better with this yarn. After attempting to design a triangular shawl around my favourite spider stitch pattern featured in this shawl (Nov. 3) I gave up and cast on for the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clarke (Fall 06 IK). I don't know if the Lilly of the Valley Border will look good, I'll just have to see... So now I'm thinking that the gorgeous cashmere-silk blend Delenn gave me will be cast on for the Shetland Triangle shawl. It'll probably work better because it has more drape. Now here is some eye candy....


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Novelty yarn considered harmful

Link from the girl from auntie's site.
Sure hope the neighbourhood Michael's doesn't go next...

I'll have knitting content soon, promise!