Friday, April 30, 2010


I printed out a few charts from books at the Antique Pattern Library site.

These are embroidery charts (and they are just about enough to make me want to take up cross stitching), but obviously there is potential for knitting color work there, too. Plus, they are just fun to look at.

I'm awfully fond of that blue and white one running vertically in the middle, and it would present no great technical challenge. Some of the others (like the big one on the top left), have long spaces between color changes: too long for basic "Fair Isle" color stranding - but double knitting? Armenian? (don't know that technique yet, but could learn it).

Lots of possibilities.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Proud Mamma

Just found out that my daughter will definitely be attending grad school in Steven's Point starting next fall (in Speech Language Pathology). She's worked really hard to get to this point, taking a year's worth of challenging undergraduate prerequisites (her own undergrad degree having been in a completely unrelated area), and I'm just pleased as punch that the hard work has paid off. I knew that the programs were competitive, but until today didn't know just how competitive: 150 applications for about 25 spots.

I'll be a little sorry to have her two hours farther from home, but not nearly as sorry as I am happy and excited for her and proud of her. Way to go kiddo!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why, I Believe We Have Crochet Bobbles

I spent time with a crochet hook last night (and The Book and one of Gayle's handouts), and after some initial struggles (who knew I would be such a tight crocheter when I'm such a loose knitter), I managed to produce bumps on my knitting.

Admittedly, some of them are less than smooth, but they stand out nicely, and with a little practice I think I could have them looking good. I'm not sure this method is faster than knitting and turning, though for someone who already has crochet skills it might be.

OK, for anyone who is interested (Sandra?) here's my summary of one type of crochet bobble.

Knit up to the stitch where you want the bobble.
Poke your crochet hook into the center of that stitch. Slide the stitch off the knitting needle and pull a nice loose yarn loop through.
Yarn over the hook, poke it back into the middle of the knit stitch and pull a yarn loop through. (You could have fooled me, but according to Gayle's handout this is called a "single crochet".)
Make two more of those "single crochet" things (yarn over, poke, pull through), always poking into the original knit stitch.
(Make sure the loops aren't too tight. If they are, pull it all out and start again.)
Now you have, oh, seven loops of yarn over the top of your hook. A little yarn loop tunnel. Snag the working yarn with the business end of the hook and pull it through all seven.
(If you split the yarn or otherwise get hung up halfway through tunnel, back out the hook and try again. If necessary, try again. If everything is totally snarled, pull it all out and start over. Take consolation from the fact that pulling out crochet is much faster than picking back knitting.)
Once you have successfully completed the tunnel journey you will have one stitch on the crochet hook. Catch hold of the yarn (with the hook, of course) and pull it through this stitch (to fasten everything off). You now have one (new) stitch on the crochet hook.
Put that stitch onto your right hand knitting needle and proceed with your knitting as if it had never been interrupted (perhaps with a sigh of relief that you are now back on familiar territory, perhaps with a slight sense of triumph).

What? You want pictures? You seriously think I could handle a camera and a crochet hook at the same time? I haven't actually looked for one, but chances are very good that someone has already put up a YouTube video on this very subject. The internets are amazing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Key to All Mysteries

Well, maybe not all, but certainly most of the mysteries of Japanese knitting symbols. I picked this up when I was at the Sow's Ear for Gayle's class; and boy am I glad that I did.

Despite the English translation of the title on the cover, the text is entirely in Japanese. But...

It has such amazingly clear and detailed illustrations that anyone with a basic working knowledge of knitting and a little patience should be able to use it; not only to decipher charts, but possibly also to pick up a few new tricks. I, for instance, have spotted a bobble (not the one pictured here) that is worked with a crochet hook and that I want to master and put to use. Why? Because it's all worked on the Right Side. No turning the knitting back and forth. No trying to re-learn knitting backward to avoid the turning. Whoo Hoo! (Of course, I haven't actually tried this yet. We'll see how it goes.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A couple of things too good not to share

Gail has "unvented" a method for joining two knitted pieces with applied I-Cord that is very cool. She has a nice clear tutorial on her blog. I am filled with admiration and knitterly awe.(Being a responsible sort, Gail mentions that after figuring this out she found that Meg Swansen has also demonstrated the technique. I say good on both of them for for sheer knitting cleverness.)


A poster in a Ravelry forum linked to the Antique Pattern Library where a group of very dedicated folks are scanning and archiving old needlework books (out of copyright and out of print). There are some books with old knitting, and a lot with crochet and tatting. The ones that had me riveted for a couple of hours were the embroidery patterns. I was especially excited to find a series of DMC publications edited by Therese de Dillmont. I remember seeing books from this line for sale years ago; have felt mild regret ever since for not picking them up. The quality of the color plates is amazing. I was most taken with some terrific Eastern European designs, many reminding me of the patterns on Turkish socks. (NOTE: it appears that to open the files you must have Adobe Reader version 9.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Double Knit Hat

is done. It's ridiculously big, though actually fits reasonably well when I have my hair up, which could be handy. I think it will be very warm.

You will notice that the two sides are not exact mirror reflections. I threw in one row that is the same color on both sides, just for the heck of it. So instead of big scallops, I have little triangles. Amazing what a difference a row makes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Good Workout

I had a terrific time at Gayle's "Even More Challenging Stitches from Japanese Designs" class on Sunday. If I take a class, I want to have my brain stretched a bit, and this one certainly did the trick.

Many of the chart symbols were fairly familiar. The only thing really tricky about working the top left chart was remembering how to work left and right slanting decreases on the purl side.
(I cheated a lot and looked at the notes on the whiteboard.) Not familiar: those long stretched out lines on the lower left chart, or the big loopydeloos on the upper right. They make sense now (but I had better go back and practice them before I lose the sense).

By the way, when it comes to working with charts, that yellow transparent "post it" tape is a lifesaver.

The other challenging part of some of the patterns came with needle maneuvers that were new to me: reaching down a couple of rows and pulling up numerous loops of yarn from one stitch; knitting a stitch together with another that is five stitches away (hint: cable needle) while working a wrong side row no less; different ways of clustering stitches. Counting. Yes, on the last sample we worked, the challenging part for me was keeping track of when I was.

At the end of the morning, I had this.

The quality of the knitting technique, or lack thereof, is no reflection on the instructor. It can be rough work trying to teach your brain and your fingers new tricks at the same time. But the sense of having branched out into new territory is very satisfying. Now I really need to find a place to use the bit that looks almost like broomstick lace.
On a purely personal note, the time we were able to visit together outside of class was wonderful.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

As Good as it Gets

The Cardinals are singing away. The daffodils survived a week of hard rain and then frost. And today the first of the tulips opened.

Hard to believe that even heaven could be nicer.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Poor Old Merlin

We've had heavy rains, thunder, lightning over the past couple of days and poor Merlin has been having a hard time. He's the first cat we've had who even seems to notice weather drama, and he notices it a lot, starting and flinching with every crash. Bob the Mellow, on the other hand, appears totally unconcerned.

The daffodils are a bit beaten down at this point, but I notice that some of the tulips have flower buds and will be open soon.

The grass will need mowing once the ground dries out.