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!


Monday, September 10, 2007



After a year and 4 months, it's done.

The speed of execution is not a reflection of the pattern's quality; I think it turned out well once I started working on it at home rather than using it as a travel project.


Arisaig by Ysolda Teague, in medium.


Rowan Cashsoft 4 ply in Loganberry (MC) and Dale Baby Ull (CC) both from the Black Sheep Wool Co. Both yarns were not too difficult to work with: I found the Baby Ull somewhat splitty if I wasn't paying attention. It also got a bit of a halo after hand washing. Although the Cashsoft does pill a bit and I had to shave the sweater after blocking, it held up reasonably well after frogging. I found that the sweater needed aggressive blocking to open up the lace. I'm not sure if that's because of the Cashsoft or the lace pattern.


Very few: I knit the sleeves in the round at the same time because I had trouble getting a consistent gauge. I also added about 5 rows of stockinette to each shoulder to make the armsceye fit the sleeve cap better, then joined them using the three needle bind-off. Finally, I picked up and knit the ribbed tie stitches rather than sew it around the neckline. The one thing I would change: if I knit a sweater like this again, I would make it a little longer.

I started Arwen and a vest for C's uncle late last week. While some progress was made, the knitting will slow down for the rest of the month while I prepare for the Moab century (no Big Nasty this year due to road and bridge repair work). I'll be doing the 70 mile option, which should be hard enough.

The Tara Stole pattern

Sorry for the delay, I've been running around a fair bit these days. Well, without further ado, here it is...

2 Hanks (340 m or 370 yards) Hand Maiden 4 ply Silk Cashmere [Color A]
1 Cone ColourMart Cashmere 4/14 Double Twisted DK Weight (570.0 yards or 520 m) [Color B]
1 US7 (4mm) circular needle (for back and forth knitting, you can use straight needles if you prefer)

370 yards of any DK weight variegated yarn and 570 yards (or more) of a solid DK weight yarn that goes with it. I recommend using a natural blockable fiber (not superwash), but again, this is up to you!
940 yards of a solid colored DK weight yarn

I'm not sure how a variegated colorway would look in the small spider pattern, but I think that variegated yarns look great with wavy lace patterns. If you have 940 yards of a variegated DK weight yarn and want to use it, swatch chart B over a large number of stitches and see how you like it.

Not crucial. I aimed for a dense fabric where there are no yarn-overs , and the yarn-over holes were big enough for my liking (I can stick my pinky finger through them). I was aiming for a colder weather shawl and this fits the bill perfectly. If you are an extremely tight knitter (or a loose knitter) you may want to go up (or down) a needle size. If you don't want to throw caution to the wind and want to do a swatch, swatch 45 stitches of chart A because the spider pattern is quite open anyways.

Blocked dimensions: 75 inches long by 22 inches wide with a light blocking.

Note: Right side rows are NOT charted. For ALL right side rows, Knit 2, Purl to last 2 stitches, Knit 2. The 2 stitch wide garter stitch border will form a non-rolling edge.

Upper border: Madeira Cascade

Loosely cast on 105 stitches with color A. Knit 4 rows of garter stitch (knit each row). Begin chart A. You will be knitting the 12 side stitches, 4 repeats of the center 20 stitches (between the red lines on the chart) and the final 13 side stitches. I have typed the number of plain knitted stitches in between yarn overs or decreases in red, to make the chart easier to follow. Knit 4 repeats of Chart A.

Center Pattern: Alternating small and large beads
Switch to yarn B. Knit 4 side stitches from chart B, work 6 stitch pattern repeat 16 times, knit 5 side stitches from chart. Repeat chart B 40 times.

Note: How many times you repeat chart B depends on how much yarn you have. By weighing your ball (or cone) of yarn before and after one full repeat of chart B you can estimate how many repetitions you can get out of your yarn and knitting gauge. If you are working with one type of yarn, be sure to leave about 187 yards (170 m) for the lower border.

Lower Border: Inverted Madeira Cascade
I did something tricky here... I basically knit Chart A upside down (worked rows 19 to 1 instead of 1 to 19) hoping that I'd get a mirror image of the upper border. It didn't quite work out, as we can see by examining the pictures closely, but I like it anyways. If you don't like it, you can either knit chart A in the proper order and throw any attempt at symmetry out the window, or if you are a big fan of symmetry you can put your stitches on hold (or a separate needle), knit 4 rows in garter stitch with yarn A, knit chart A according to the instructions for the upper border, and graft the body of the stole to the lower border. I suck at grafting, so I cannot provide very good instructions for that step. You should probably put a lifeline between the main body pattern and the lower border if you are undecided.

Lifeline instructions: get a smooth piece of scrap yarn that is reasonably thin (or a thread) that is a bit over 2 times the width of the stole. Put yarn on needle and thread through each stitch on your needles (being sure to catch all the yarn-overs). Pull yarn through and knot. Continue knitting.

Begin chart C using yarn A. You will be knitting 12 side stitches, 4 repeats of the center 20 stitches (between the red lines on the chart) and the final 13 side stitches. Knit 4 repeats of Chart C. To finish, knit 4 rows of garter stitch. Cast off loosely. My preferred method is to start: knit 2. Slip to left hand needle, knit 2 together. To continue: knit one, slip both stitches to left hand needle, knit 2 together. Repeat until one stitch is left, pull yarn through.

And here's the legend.
Now I have presented this for web-viewing but not for printing. I recommend downloading the charts separately (JPEG format) and using your favorite photo editor to resize them and attempt to put them on one page. Then you can copy and paste the text from this web page to a text editor and print them to keep the instructions handy. I haven't quite figured out how to post a PDF document onto the blog yet!

p.s. You can search for the tag 'Tara Stole' to find my previously published tip on how to do the SK2P decrease faster, because chart B requires doing it an awful lot!