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.